Tis the Season to be SnarkyAnother campaign season is upon us and my eyes and ears already bleed from the ceaseless bloviating onslaught. Candidates rain down like fallout from a nookular bomb. Campaigns spend millions in corporate donations and $500-a-plate rubber chicken dinners - KFC should be so lucky - while agonizing over the sorry-arsed condition of campaign finance reform. Lobbyists are trampled in a lemming-like rush to have their picture taken next to their pre-purchased candidate. Never mind they'll hold giant black hats over their faces when the photos make a NYT article about influence peddling. I've voted for more than 30 years and I ask the same unanswered question each time, "There are 300 million frickin' people in this country and these clowns are the best candidates we can field?"
Like a certain unnamed Gulf Coast hurricane, these bruising bitchfests are massively disastrous. For one, they're waaaaay too long. Does anyone really need two years of uninterrupted caterwauling to decide which candidate is the least of a million evils? We'd be much better off if we simply said, "The election is next Tuesday. You have seven days to equivocate your position before we punch our choices into an electronic voting machine that will lose all the data anyway - except in Florida where their cracker jack, leading edge technology uses 1950s punch cards that apparently require more manual dexterity than many Floridians can muster.
The unseemly jockeying for first dibs on early primaries also contributes to the mess. If states keep moving the start dates back, people will vote in primaries before they're born. Prepare yourselves for the rabid argument about exactly when a baby becomes a voter - conception, embryonic stage, or fully birthed decider. I fail to see how candidates dropping in for a planned, spontaneous Manchester coffee klatch serves much purpose other than giving the candidate free morning coffee and seeing New Hampshities modeling the latest in plaid cold weather gear. The cat-scratch campaign fights inevitably leave even the winning candidates so bruised and battered most people would prefer the Bin Laden/Musharaf ticket to McCain/TBD or Clinton/Barrak.
Pubic Hairs in the Coke
It's not like all the money, primaries, unreliable voting machines, and rivers of fresh Iowa coffee mean much anyway. Eleven percent of registered voters will show up, vote their conscience, and find out that - despite winning the popular vote - the loser wins because the Supreme Court gets a political hair up it's collective ass. Probably a pubic hair recovered from a Coke can at that.
No other nation on the planet has an electoral system quite like ours. Like many things, we're going this election thing alone. Third World dictators run better elections than we do - just ask Jimmy Carter. Say what you will about Saddam, but he turned in overwhelming numbers. Ninety-nine percent voter turnout and garnering 100% of the vote isn't easy, even in a totalitarian country. I'm beginning to wonder if raping, pillaging, and burning might not be a better system. At least it has the virtue of clear, unequivocal results.
My eyes and ears can only take so much. Could someone set the alarm clock and wake me up about a year and a half?
I'll need my omnipotent strength to smite the winning Crapweasel as he takes the oath of office on the Bible...or Koran...or Torah...or....
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Not Even CloseCap'n Dyke and Janice from Cow Hampshire tagged me to do the four true (plus one untrue) things about me meme. I've seen all the responses and I have to say that I'm either a fantastic liar or you are an extremely gullible lot. No one found the fib, so here are the answers to inform and suitably impress:
I once sat next to Clarence Clemmons on an airplane.
In fact, this is true. I was already in my seat when a huge black man carrying a saxophone plunked down beside me. While he struggled to wedge his large frame in, I opened the conversation with something banal about crappy airplane seats. I eventually got around to confirming my suspicion that he was the Clarence and we struck up a quite pleasant conversation about music and current events.
And no, I did not ask for an autograph, but since I'm the Omnipotent Poobah, I offered him mine. Inexplicably, he declined.
I've been inside Ft. Knox.
This is also true. In the early 70s, a rumor alleged that all the gold in Ft. Knox was gone and our paper money was worthless as a result. In a display of transparency that I'm sure the current Bushkibibles would never dream of, they allowed 100 reporters and assorted governmental observers in to see the shiny stuff. The reporter slots were assigned by state and I snagged my pass by working my contacts and being very lucky. The Associated Press was not happy to be scooped.
As for the gold, it looks pretty much like you'd expect. There were huge stacks of gold bars in a series of small storage rooms behind no-nonsense vault doors. They bars we were allowed to heft were as weighty as you've heard. Though it sounds all exciting and shit, it was anti-climactic. I would have written a much more positive article if they'd let me take home a brick or two. There was no James Bond or Auric Goldfinger slouching around either. Damn the luck. I really wanted to meet Odd Job.
For obvious reasons, they didn't reveal security details, but I can speak from personal experience that someone always watches the seemingly unattended main gate.
Several years after going in, I took my mother-in-law to see the place. Despite my warnings, she ran up to the iron gates to take a picture and was immediately addressed by a disembodied and menacing voice, "STEP AWAY FROM THE GATE AND STATE YOUR BUSINESS! NO PHOTOGRAPHY ALLOWED!" She was not arrested, but I'm of the mind that maybe that was a bad thing. After that I always told her she owed me big for saving her life.
I once hosted my own FM-radio show about politics.
This is the fib. While I auditioned for a spot on WKQQ (Lexington, KY), I lost out to another candidate who I agreed was much better. Rush Limbaugh heaved a sigh of relief at my aborted radio career, I'm sure.
This clear pronouncement on my abilities as a pundit obviously foretold the day when I would become a blog-borne political pundit. If I had auditioned for this blog gig, I would have lost out on that too. Life's like that sometimes.
Linda Ronstadt once blew me a kiss.
Also true. Linda was at the zenith of her 70s popularity when she arrived in Lexington for a concert. I weaseled an assignment as the newspaper's photographer so I didn't have to buy tickets. My press pass allowed me to approach the edge of the stage, much to the chagrin of the people who'd bought front row seats.
Most of my photos of Linda were mediocre at best, but somewhere, lost in the mists of time, there is a perfect photo of her in all her 70s sexy glory. She wore hot pants and a very tight Cub Scout uniform shirt. Her brown hair shined brightly in the stage lights and curled down around her shoulders. Lit from behind, she fairly glowed. Her signature deep brown eyes focused directly on me, so it was easy to believe the kiss was aimed at me. I caught her hand in mid-flight leaving those beautiful pursed lips of a kiss behind.
It was a beautiful moment. I wish I'd kept the negative. Sigh.
Interestingly, the photos I took of her opening act - The Flying Burrito Brothers - were better "concert" pictures so the editor went with them instead of smoochable Linda. Our readership's loss I think.
Jimmy Buffett's band once attended a party at my house.
True. Jimmy and his band, then led by the legendary Marvin Gardens, appeared at a smallish concert at the University of Kentucky. After performing for about 500, my roommate, who was a member of the university's concert board, invited the boys over to the house for a wrap party. We never expected them to show, but they did.
Unfortunately, I left on a beer run and I'm told Jimmy himself showed up, but left before I returned. Margaritaville wasn't yet a gleam in his eye and parrotheads were still just the tops of brightly colored birds back then.
I would have offered him my autograph too. There's no telling what it would have been worth by now.
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Tuesday, January 30, 2007
Some People Just Don't Get ItEditor's Note: Remember to leave your guesses to yesterday's post in the comments.
I'm not exactly a people person, so I'm often at a loss for why people do the things they do. What possesses someone to read the newspaper while driving? Why do celebrities make sex tapes when they know their penchant for feather dusters and anal sex will come out on the internet? How can postal workers not know that New Mexico is the state, not the country? How can some halfwit take us into a war without a plan?
Well, never mind that last one. I know the answer to that.
My typical defense against overwhelming stupidity is to check out mentally. This ability has saved my career more than once. If I actually paid attention in meetings I'm sure I'd vault across the table and strangle someone - as it is, I just drool on them while I'm asleep.
When forced to pay attention, I find that just being detached and aloof helps. After all, I am born omnipotent. I didn't go to one of those cheesy online divinity schools to get my Ordination of Omnipotence. That would be so gauche. The nouveau riche - like the nouveau omnipotent - are just a bunch of pretentious scallywags. You simply can't trust someone who hasn't been a deity for at least 12 millennia. Fourteen is even better.
But sometimes I get sucked into the reality of the moment despite my best efforts.
Many years ago, when I was still a blue collar deity, I used to work night shifts. So when I went to the movies I usually went during the day and by myself. I always stopped at the concession stand for my 18-metric ton steam shovel of popcorn - with free refills too - and accompanying supertanker-sized soda.
One day I was helped at the counter by an excessively chipper chippy who was somewhere between high school and young divorcee age.
"OK, so I have a Coke and a popcorn. That'll be one dollar please."
"Uh, I think it costs more than that. Are you sure," I asked?
Yessir! See, that's what it says right here on the cash register and the cash register doesn't lie," she cheeped as her pigtails waved in time with her bobbling head.
I said, "OK then. If the cash register doesn't lie, who am I to question it?" I handed her a $20 bill.
"Oooooh sirrrrr. Do you have anything smaller? All I have is ones," she said with a lopsided, vacant grin.
"Would it be all right if I gave you your change in ones," she asked?
"That'll be fine. It all spends the same way," I said.
"Huh?" she said ignoring my fine quip.
"Let's see, one, two, three... nineteen, twenty," she said proudly as she counted out the money.
"Miss, you said the drink and popcorn was $1. I gave you $20. But, you gave me $20 back in change," I said.
"That's right sir," she twilled.
"No, you don't see. The popcorn was $1 and I gave you $20. That means you should've only given me $19 back," I said reasonably.
"Is there a problem sir?"
"Yes. You've cheated yourself out of a dollar," I replied.
"That's not possible sir. You gave me $20 and I gave you back your change...$20," she said. "I even made sure I counted it properly because that was an awful lot of bills and I didn't want to make a mistake."
"Well, I think you did. I still owe you $1," I said.
"No sir. You already paid for your popcorn."
"Are sure you don't want me to pay for the popcorn," I asked a little impatiently.
"No sir. You're all paid up," she said.
As I said, "OK" and turned around to leave, I heard her tell her countermate,"Geez. Some people just don't get it, do they?"
"Yeah, they don't," I thought as I savored my first fist of popcorn. "They really don't."
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Monday, January 29, 2007
OK, Just This OnceThe good Cap'n Dyke tagged me a day or two back. Although I do make the occasional exception, I don't usually do tags, but this one is special. I have to take my orders from the Cap'n and as tags go this one's short and innocent enough.
Herewith, five things you don't know about The Poobah, one of which is a fib:
- I once sat next to Clarence Clemmons on an airplane.
- I've been inside Ft. Knox.
- I once hosted my own FM-radio show about politics.
- Linda Ronstadt once blew me a kiss.
- Jimmy Buffett's band once attended a party at my house.
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Sunday, January 28, 2007
A Tough DecisionOver the past two weeks, Team BIO has wrestled with a commenter whose responses to posts became increasingly personal and viscous. After receiving several complaints, the team discussed the best way to respond.
Some supported banishment because her screeds were virulently personal and hate-filled. They argued that she contributed nothing to informed debate and was grossly unfair and hurtful to those she attacked. They had no problem with her content, only with the way she delivered it.
The opposite opinion - one that I personally championed - was to let her rave. I strongly believe that censoring someone - no matter how vile their comments - isn't what free speech is about. For me, the true measure of a democracy is how it treats its most odious dissenters. Whether you're liberal, conservative, communist, or fascist, I believe you have a right to be heard.
But that's a starkly black and white viewpoint - one where censorship is either wholly right or wholly wrong. It doesn't account for the very real damage hate speech has. Hate speech can lead to violent confrontation. It can wound a person so deeply that it can have far-reaching consequences. And, it's just plain wrong.
Though I finally supported banning her, I was uncomfortable about it. Maybe that's a good thing. If it becomes too easy, it's too easy to fall into the trap of doing it as a knee-jerk reaction to anything we don't want to hear. I'm confident that's not the case here, but it did make me think about the validity of my position.
I still believe that total free speech is an admirable goal and I'll continue to fight for it as forcefully and often as I can. However, I also have to keep in mind that free speech comes with responsibilities. The Supreme Court describes this as the right to say anything you want, but not to yell fire in a crowded theatre. To put it in the context of this situation, it's the right to say anything you want, so long as your right to say it doesn't impinge on someone else's right not to be harassed. BIO never asked her to curtail her opinions, we only asked her to yell fire a little softer.
Was this censorship?
One of the definitions of censorship is to supervise the manners or morality of others. So in the strictest sense of the word, I suppose it is. However, part of that supervision requires an examination our own manners and morality.
This was clearly a case of someone whose manners would throw Dear Abby into a fatal swoon. Those poor manners directly damaged the BIO family by depriving it of the open and thoughtful discourse of others. Although not easy for me, I think the most moral choice we could make is the one we did make. We acted to protect guests who fulfill their responsibilities under free speech - to be civil. We acted against the person who chose to ignore her responsibilities. She yelled fire - or more precisely, repeatedly yelled fire - so we asked her to leave. I can't say I like that decision, but I also believe she brought the problem on herself.
And you know what? I'm OK with that.
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Saturday, January 27, 2007
The Bee Whisperer
I've been reading about beekeeping over at Flimsy Sanity. They're endlessly entertaining creatures - although a bit anal-retentive (do bees have anuses?) - in their perfectly ordered societies. No wonder Sherlock Holmes kept them as a hobby.
Poor But Sweet
My grandfather and two uncles were beekeepers. They lived in a remote West Virginia holler, so poverty-stricken that their tar-paper shack was one step up from a homeless person's cardboard box. Baths were taken in a creek behind the house. The toilet was a two-hole, open pit outhouse where old, crinkly Sears catalogs served as paper. Water came from an open, leaf-choked spring about 1/2 mile from the house. Wood chopped from near the spring heated the place - although one year they disassembled the dining room and burnt it in the single pot-bellied stove when the snow was too deep to cut wood.
As a boy of 12 or so, I clearly remember electricity coming to the holler courtesy of a spool of wire on the back of a mule and tree-mounted insulators leading from the gravel road atop the high ridge. Food was a combination of spuds, corn, and cabbage from a rock-strewn garden, supplemented by squirrel and coon killed in the surrounding hills. A dozen chickens had the run of the place, sometimes coming into the house in the summer. They laid eggs under the house where I collected them immediately before being fried in lard. Ten or 12 beehives provided sweetener for coffee and fresh biscuits.
The three men of the house were practiced beekeepers, able to understand the intricacies of bee life and capable of gathering fresh bees into the fold by carefully moving wild bees into their pitiful homemade boxes. As my grandfather grew older, my uncles tended the bees more and more. They wore thick clothes tied off at the sleeves and ankles and topped with netted pith helmets for protection. They always approached the hives hesitantly, armed with smokers - small containers with a bellows atop and smoldering rags inside. Sprayed into the front of the hives, it induced a lazy euphoria - a sort of marijuana high encouraging the bees to be less active. But even with the protection, the uncles suffered stings and yelled loudly in pain each time.
Zen and the Art of Beekeeping
But watching my grandfather was a zen experience. He connected with the bees in a supernatural way, a sort of "bee whisperer" who understood them better than most folks understand their neighbors. He rarely wore the beekeeper getup and gave the bees the most fragile of highs.
He approached the hives slowly and methodically, creeping so slowly the bees must have considered him a tree suddenly sprung up from the ground around the hives. With bare hands, he gently scooped the bees away from their front door, opened the tops of the hives, and slowly drew out honey-dripped screens full off comb and royal jelly. He softly brushed the bees off the screen and removed the gooey gold. The bees never seemed to mind his benevolent robberies of their sticky home. They rarely stung him for his efforts.
As a suburban kid raised on refined sugar I didn't like honey. But as the years flew by I adjusted and came to love the sweet nectar spread on fresh biscuits and in my tea. When I eat it today, I flash back to those visits over home and think of my grandfather, the bee whisperer, gently going about his business while the bees went about theirs. The old man may have been achingly poor, but his relationship with the bees kept him spiritually fed.
And, that's just not something you can say about fresh squirrel meat in a pool of red gravy.
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Friday, January 26, 2007
Spin the Wheel of RandomHey Homie! - Yes, I can feel the love shining through.
The Few, The Proud, The Dykes - Seeing as how Cap'n Dyke has bestowed an honorary lesbianship upon me, I'd like to take this opportunity to show my solidarity with my sisters.
Clever, Fiendish Bastards! - Those paragons of moral relativism, the Saudis, are really striking back against the thundering Christian Crusade. And I bet they they think Christians are Pootieheads to boot.
Flown On Weekends by a Lil' Ol' Pilot From Petropovlosk - I always wanted my own air force.
Indignity Heaped Upon Indignity - Yes, it is tastefully obscene, but I can't resist.
Does Robin Williams Know About This? - I liked the razor so much, I bought the company!
Put THAT In Your Funk & Wagnall's - The newest edition to the Omnipotent Poobah Memorial Reference Library.
I Love a Good Boob Article - Beer. Boobs. What's not to like? The dogs say yum too.
The Human Genome in Action - Funny, I never noticed the resemblance before.
Charlatans on Every Corner - Look all you want, but remember, "Thou shalt worship no other Poobah before me." Thanks Mary. Come back soon, I miss you.
Not Funny - This isn't a funny post, but it's a damn good one. Thanks and a tip of the keyboard blogstyle to Ms. Syl.
Raincoats and You - This is your condom. It is your friend. Read it. Learn it. Live it. Who knew they were so versitile?
Blue Gal Where Are Yoooooou - I'm not sure, but this bears a striking similarity to Blue Gal's MO.
Pierce This! - And another bit of proof for my belief that making yourself whistle when the wind blows is NOT a good idea. Even if you do know what time it is.
Lesson #436, Not Getting Laid - A self-explanatory video.
I'll Give it a Nine Because It Has a Good Beat and I Can Dance to It - Just go see it (NSFW).
Golden Age of Animation - I first saw this movie in college and it has stuck with me ever since. It's the best movie ever!
Go Bears! - At least he has his priorities straight.
Watch Out Starbucks - Friends don't let friends go to Starbucks...they just put on lingerie and grind the coffee.
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Thursday, January 25, 2007
What the Hell is Wrong With the World Today.Poobah Down, Traffic Up
I've been a little busy the past few days (today too judging from the length of this post) so I haven't posted. It's heartening to see that despite my absence traffic went up.
Hey! Wait a minute! Are you trying to tell me something?
He's Got a Gun!
I heard several minutes of the Blitzer/Cheney interview yesterday and The Big Dick is apparently practicing answers for his probable testifying at Scooter's trial. Proving he's not a one trick pony, the Dark Prince answered nearly every question with, "That's an unfair question" or "I'm not going to answer that" or "Dammit, shut the f**ck up before I blow half your face off".
Damn pesky reporters asking questions. Who the hell do they think they are?
Let's All Go to Our Happy Place
Fox News - not content with outing Osama, er, Obama as a dreaded six-year old, madrasa-trained terrorist - has moved on to polling via scowl. They say Hillary was trying to send a message with her oh-so-expressive face. Me? I think she was engaged in hand-to-hand combat with the Sandman Insurgent Army and was trying to keep her eyes open during the Snooze of the Nation speech.
I'm With the Band
It looks like George Bush's rock band, The Imperial Morons, have their share of groupies. Michel "Plaster Caster Bachmann, just couldn't keep her hands off the Big Guy after the SOTU speach. After a few minutes of fawning, Bachmann was able to canoodle with Prez while whispering in his ear, "I'm all yours you big dumb ox. Stop by the cloakroom after this and me and Katie Harris will fix you up with a threesome you'll never forget."
No report if Laura, Barney, and Mrs. Beasley were jealous.
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Thursday, January 25, 2007
Grading Credibility on a CurveCredibility is an essential element in everyone's personality. It's the stuff that allows people to trust you and for you to trust them. Even in a skeptical and cynical world, it's an important component in how others see you and how you see yourself. Without it, relationships get dicey fast.
Today's politicians have near-zero credibility, but there was a time when we held them to slightly higher standard. Sure, they made lofty campaign promises that often did work out, but people expected a certain amount of waffling and obfuscation as long as it wasn't too rampant. In a way, the public graded politicians on a curve. They could overlook the occasional broken promise like hiring more police or not building a post office in their district, but you could generally trust them to stop pussyfooting around when there was a real issue to be dealt with.
We Can't Believe Anything Anymore
Now we've reached a point where it's impossible to believe any politician from any party on any subject at any time. They don't even attempt to make their shredded credibility look good. Remember how laughably sad it was to hear Clinton prevaricating about the meaning of "is"? Making a televised address to deny you're having an affair - shortly before copping to it - is not the way to build trust. Clinton doomed his second term and marched himself down the impeachment highway because no one believed anything he said - and for good reason.
The trend has accelerated since then. It makes you long for the days when politicians lied about a simple BJ. Today, scandals emerge every few days, major policy debates are based almost exclusively on lies and disingenuous debates, and we find ourselves in a war conducted by a President who wouldn't know credibility if it bit him on the ankle.
Making Hay for Fun and Profit
Turd Blossom and the Conundrum-in-Chief made a lot of hay in the last election about Kerry's supposed waffling. They doggedly attacked his often contradictory public statements and built a perception that you couldn't trust him to admit to the sky being blue or that the ocean containing fish. The real and fabricated perception that Kerry had no credibility lost him an election. The fact that his opponent had a similar lack of credibility wasn't noticed by enough and based on their skewed perceptions they returned him to office. Today, Bush's credibility makes Kerry look like a paragon of virtue. El Jefe has lied, wriggled, waffled, flip-flopped, and redefined his actions so often most people wouldn't trust him any farther than they could throw the White House.
Baby Doc's lack of credibility has lost his party an election, doomed any chance of carrying out what remains of his battered policy agenda - and most sadly of all - bogged us down in a war where people are dying. To make matters worse, the politicians who want to be President are already jettisoning their credibility like an ecdysiast in speed-stripping contest.
McCain's Straight Talk Express has a new blowout with each flip flop he makes and many are so distrustful of Hillary you couldn't get them to vote for her if you paid them. The other candidates are schlepping their own baggage on a wobbly cart from which credibility falls off as regularly as a battered portmanteau.
Hopefully, a candidate with a shred of credibility - or the ability to build some - will emerge. We can ill-afford another Leader of the Free World who refuses to level with America or himself because he'd have to admit he may just have been wrong. Wholesale death in exchange for an assuaged ego does not credibility make.
Hornswaggling vs The Truth
We should also hope that voters in the next election will have learned to distinguish between hornswaggling and truth. If they don't, the next President won't be credible, or a credit to the office they hold.
Next time someone asks you to define "is" or says "we've turned another corner", think twice about their credibility.
Oh, and grade them on a less-advantageous curve.
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Monday, January 22, 2007
The Results Are In!As promised, here are the results from my post about anonymous commenting (Poobah Speaks thread and Bring It On thread). There were some good points and the comments were refreshingly civil compared with many threads. Kudos to all who participated.
But despite being cordial, I'd like to point out that no one took up my offer.
I'm not going to cover every point here. It'd be too massive an undertaking for a single post. Since most lefties supported my post, I won't address their comments here. However, here's my take on several of the comments from the right side:
From Sandyb at BIO - "This is one of the most refreshing topics I've seen here. It doesn't slander the president, USA, or offend even me. I don't TRY to be nasty. I just get incensed when I read the CONSTANT attacks on MY president/God/country and support for terrorists, baby-killers, homosexuality/sodomy, etc...(Notice I am NOT pc so I don't use pc words like freedom fighters, abortionists, and gay.)"
Sandy: I'm glad you found it refreshing. However, read your own words carefully. The comments above devolves into the same name-calling you condemn. Your hair trigger comments frequently accuse others of the same things you decry, while oftimes being patently untrue. Simply because someone disagrees with you is no indication they, "support terrorists", are "babykillers", (or my personal favorite "losers"). True, you've often been personally attacked and I'm not going to defend that - but it takes two to tango. Having said that, I've often argue for not censoring you because I believe you should be heard - even if I don't agree with you.
While you post your first name, you don't link to a personal site or an email. This classifies as anonymous in my book. You never start a discussion, you only blame others for perceived slights after someone else gets the ball rolling. To me, this is a bit like not voting and then blaming the people who did vote because you're not happy about their choice. I'd have much more respect for your comments if I saw you start the balling rolling occasionally and if you "owned" your comments with free access to your original thoughts and ideas. If I want to know what you think, I have to depend on comments - not fully developed postings - to peer inside that beautiful mind of yours.
You explanation is, "Maybe it's because someone has their own blog, but doesn't want it connected? Some like remaining anon in a sense. And if some knew who some were on here, they would faint."
That may be true, but it's a dangerously wobbly defense. By not linking to a personal blog, posting original topics at BIO, or taking up my offer you don't allow others to comment on YOUR original ideas and positions. In other words, what's good for the gander doesn't seem so good to the goose.
Perhaps an example of a better defense might be Jack ARMY who wrote, "I do have my opinions...but my position prevents me from saying what I'd like about many political topics and particularly the political personalities."
Jack's in the Army, where speaking out is frowned upon and also against military law in some cases. I think that's a good justification for not commenting if he chooses. Despite that, he was courageous enough to leaving a link to his personal blog - and nobody "fainted". Kudos to Jack.
From Craig Harmon at BIO - Craig objected to my statement, "I believe if you state your position you should take public responsibility for it", like this:
"Really, Oh Omnipotent one? Is that how your name appears on your birth certificate or are every one of your posts and comments anonymous (or, more accurately, pseudonymous)? As far as I'm concerned, commenting as Omnipotent Poobah is no different than commenting as 'anonymous'. How do you distinguish your practice from the practice that you criticize here?"
Craig: First, I was unaware you had a BIO diary. That's because your commenter link currently links to an empty "http:", which makes you pretty anonymous to anyone who wants to view or comment on your posts. You might want to correct that so you aren't so, um, anonymous.
Sure, I publish under a pseudonym. I happen to like my omnipotence and can have a little fun with it. However, my posts always link to my personal blog, my entire BIO diary, and my personal email. In fact, I use my real name when responding to emails. I don't think this is "anonymous". I identify where to find my other posts and positions and always allow people to respond to them (directly if they like, through email).
BTW, my real name is Jack Koeneman. Feel free to drop in as often as you like. I'm always open.
From Steve at BIO - "There are just as many liberal bloggers and left wingers that are pretty far out...it is the fringe that screws it all up. It's the fringe on both sides that make people crazy with their takes on religion and the color of one’s skin."
Steve: I completely agree. I read your posts on BIO and occasionally visit your personal blog. You argue passionately, but try to stick to the facts - which is key for commenters on both sides. I also give you props because you don't comment anonymously and your posts allow people to visit your personal blog. I can't ask any more than that.
From Anonymous at Poobah Speaks - "(Sound of crickets because the author deleted their own comment).
Anonymous: If this was just an error by a non-anonymous commenter, my apologies. If it was intentional - dude, that is the lamest of the lame. You can't even take responsibility for saying nothing.
Thanks to everyone for this little exercise in democracy. I found it enlightening and I hope you did too.
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Sunday, January 21, 2007
Immigrant NationCNN's Lou Dobbs is an endearingly loopy dog who has hold of the immigration bone and won't stop chewing. Regardless of what sort of carnage the rest of the world is experiencing Bulldog Lou ledes with immigration. Even when he touches on other stories, the commentary moves back around to immigration by way of a tortured route from A to B to Z. He deserves props for letting people from all sides air their points of view, although he occasionally gets pugnacious with them. Sometimes the discussions are so disjointed I can't quite figure out his position except that he's pissed and has decided to chase the story with all the tenacity of a Bush on a failed mission.
He can't take all the blame for the meandering punditry though. Immigration is a supremely complex issue fraught with emotions on both sides. It rolls economics, race, international relations, and several other issues into an elephant so big no one knows how to eat it a bite at a time. This probably partially explains why responses to the issue languish until someone needs a wedge issue to make the problem worse.
My own opinions are similarly hard to define, but I'll give them a go if you're game.
America is an immigrant nation. We have a proud and varied heritage that mixes many different cultures into a societal brew that works - more or less - most of the time. But even immigrant nations can't absorb all the masses yearning to be free that want in. There is truth in the notion that unrestricted immigration causes problems. There are simply too many people coming in for the places most affected to keep up. Schools, hospitals, social services, indeed the whole infrastructure of the American dream groans under the overload of runaway immigration. However, none of that should be taken by the Xenophobeicans as free license to ban immigration all together - especially immigration from particular countries or races. The solution here is relatively simple. Determine what you can take and take in that many and no more. But this is legal immigration, what about the illegals?
There are a variety of things that probably won't work. Fences are a dumb idea. Catch and release enforcement has already failed. And unarmed National Guardsmen alongside armed vigilantes is pretty stupid too. As it does in many emotional arguments, the answer here is also a little common sense.
Illegal immigrants come to this country to find work that isn't available at home. They aren't coming because of the glowing welcome of the Statue of Liberty, they're coming because a once-a-day, single tortilla meal isn't very filling. Many have suggested that better enforcement on companies that hire illegals will take care of the problem and I agree it would go a long way. However, no one seems to look at the root cause - Mexico's crappy economy that is now based primarily on remittances from the illegals in Jacksonville back to their families in Jalisco. If we crack down on company hiring, we should be equally tough with the Mexican government. They need a long overdue push to fix their problem instead of making it our problem.
Next employment. The prevailing fiction is that illegals from Mexico are only working jobs that no American would do. The truth is that Mexicans are working jobs that Americans are unwilling to do at an unreasonable wage. The growing legions of minimum wage Americans are testament to that. To make matters worse, many high-wage jobs are going to immigrants, legal and illegal, because they work cheaper. I see nothing wrong with giving preference to citizens for any job they chose based on a legitimate salary offer. I do object to companies hiring immigrants at the expense of Americans simply because they will not demand pay at the going rate. This endless chase only depresses wages at home, while inflating them for an eventual fall in the home countries. Exhibit A, India. Wages are already going up there and becoming more compatible to western wages.
What we do with the legals already here is an issue. They broke US law in coming here, and laws are laws. The preferable treatment would be to expel them or arrest them, but there are already too many to handle in that way. I'm not sure I have a great solution here, but it seems that putting these people on some sort of a guest visa with provisions to eventually become citizens is about the best we can do. However, at the end of the visa, they need to go back home and start the process over again like legal immigrants do.
So you see, no big answers, perhaps even more of a muddle. The only things that is clear is that administrations and Congresses going back many years have avoided the issue precisely because it was too big to deal with - and because they could get away with it. In an era of unprecedented vitriol and incompetence none of use should be expecting meaningful action any time soon. It's too easy to put off and too valuable for a wedge issue for either side to devote much energy to.
We are a nation of immigrants arguing amongst ourselves about immigrants just like us.
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Saturday, January 20, 2007
Attention Conservative Bloggers!Follow Up Note: I got a significant traffic boost from this offer, but sadly no one took the bait. However, there were a few comments and emails that were interesting. Watch for a follow up post that will provide the details.
Late Note: Although the article is the same, stop by Bring It On for additional comments. They're interesting.
I cross post nearly all of my political pieces to both The Omnipotent Poobah Speaks and Bring It On (BIO). Even though I appear in several mostly conservative blogrolls, it's relatively rare that a conservative falls into Poobah Speaks - but it does happen. Because BIO has much more traffic than Poobah Speaks, I frequently get conservative commenters there.
I welcome all comers, regardless of where they fall on the spectrum. I figure you should say what's on your mind even if it offends someone. If you believe all liberals are "disgusting, parasite losers" - as I've been called more than once, I've no objections to you saying it. Do you think jews, muslims, and ACLU members are vermin who should be extinguished? Rant on my friend, because even if I think you are the disgusting one, I believe you have a right to say what's on your mind. I'm proud that not a single one of my posts has ever been censored in any way. The only exceptions are spam posts from stupid marketers who really are disgusting vermin who should be extinguished (but that's another post entirely).
Perhaps I'm just getting particularly odd conservative commenters, but there are a few near constants across them.
First, the vast majority leave anonymous comments, something that smacks of cowardice to me. I believe if you state your position you should take public responsibility for it. However, I don't censor these posts because even cowardice is no reason not to have your opinion heard.
Secondly, many of the commenters don't maintain their own blogs, even though the volume of the crap they spew in comments would take many hours longer than just blogging on the topic themselves.
I'm sure there are some conservative bloggers out there who are decent rational people who can discuss the events of the day without spinning off into some eccentric orbit of their own, I've just been unable to find very many.
So I have a proposal for you conservative bloggers. If you want to step up and have your say while holding your head high and taking full responsibility for what you say, I offer my services. If you are a conservative blogger, leave a comment below with your URL and I will gladly enter you into The Omnipotent Poobah Speaks blogroll along with a recommendation for readers to visit you. If you don't have a site, I invite you to submit a post to The Omnipotent Poobah Speaks (my email is available in my profile) and I'll run it...in its entirety. Hell, I might even invite you for a recurrinig guest shot myself if you're interesting enough - even Sandyb or Tos.
I know this takes courage for those accustomed to backbench bawling. I'm sure some of you have it and some of you will be content to take potshots without submitting yourself to the same thing you subject others to.
But here's my take.
It's easy to be anonymous or semi-anonymous and blogless and harp incessantly. It's another to stand up and have the courage of your convictions to speak about what you think in an open and honest way. Think about it.
Put your money where your mouth is.
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Thursday, January 18, 2007
Mr. CEO, Tear Down That Pile of Loot!People give Saint Reagan so much credit for the collapse of the Soviet Union you'd think he was personally atop the Berlin Wall swinging a sledge and drunkenly toasting mit bier. But, his doe-eyed admirers sometimes forget the story is a little more complex.
They prefer to believe that by hurling a single one-liner to "tear down that wall" he single-handedly chopped the Evil Empire down in a single swoop. If it were that easy, the Axis of Evil would already be keester-deep in purple mountains, fruited planes, and HD plasma-screens.
St. Ron's chosen weapon in the Commie gang hit was capitalism - the ability to shovel money into an arms race that finally bankrupted the beet-eating, vodka-swilling brutes. He proclaimed the might of righteous capitalism over corrupt communism and the adoring throngs flung themselves at his cowboy boots in an orgy of capitalistic love and public edifice renaming.
A "Pinch" for Luck
In the heady times that followed, Reaganites tossed Eisenhower's advice about the capitalistic military-industrial complex over their shoulders like a pinch of salt for good luck. Their mantra became, "Greed is good and unrestricted greed is best." They believed in the power of free markets and unregulated corporatism. Republicans, sadly aided by lobbyist-besotted democrats, began dismantling the "bad" side of capitalism - read anything that doesn't turn a 200% ROI.
Today, we find a country where the top one percent of people control 90% of the wealth. For the one percenters, the decision to outsource production, leaving only themselves back in the US of A to endorse the dividend checks is a marvel of strategic business acumen. For the poor shlubs left behind at the empty textile mill in Mayberry, it ain't so great.
Capitalism is essentially an economic system based on greed. The more toys you die with, the bigger a winner you are - well, maybe your progeny are. Just ask the Twins.
Greed is Not Good
Like any system, it has two poles. At one end is the idea that everything should be freed of regulation and mega-bucks for the one-percenters should flow like honey. This is obviously a pretty easy sell at the Turf Club, but I'm not sure why the rubes back in Mayberry continued to vote for this even as they were saying aloha to their livelihoods.
At the other pole is a recognition that capitalism is a pretty good system, but left to its own devices will run away like a freight train with Donald Trump - cheesy toupee a'flyin'- at the controls. Companies should be deregulated to the greatest extent possible. If they can play fair and be good, rational citizens I'm all for letting them have a free reign. However, if they conduct themselves by a code of ethics first developed by the Visigoths, I'm all for nationalizing the bastards.
When a CEO or board of directors slams a company into the ground with enough force to dig a hole to Malaysia, it's not ethical to reward them with bonuses to stay and "manage" the company as it transitions to some other incompetent Harvard Business School boob. It's not ethical to move corporate headquarters to the Caymans to avoid paying taxes, even if you do have a nice summer home there. It's not ethical for huge conglomerates to drive every Mom and Pop in the nation out of business, economies of scale be damned. And it is certainly not ethical to move jobs to nation-state sweatshops so you can jack up the prices of the sneakers sold to the jobless bastards you abandoned back home.
A Stock Option in Every Pot
Don't get me wrong, I believe a person should be paid handsomely for the work they do. I have no aversion to people making large sums, but there should be limits if the loot-crazed greedheads can't stifle the impulse to buy that private island in the Bahamas. (People's lives are at stake you selfish bastard!)
I'd like to believe that a faint glimmer of hope sputters to corral this outrageous behavior. There have been some attempts, but they've been uniformly limp-wristed. It would be nice if all those well-upholstered moneychangers woke up one morning and God told them to stop being such asshats and start treating people fairly. But, I see a slim chance when Pat Robertson and his ilk are their spiritual advisors.
A Shrubophone Moment
Maybe it's time for a speech, something rousing that would make an excellent sound bite on the World's Most Important News Network (we'll be right back after this good word from the fine folks at ActiveOn.) I personally like that Shrubophone moment on the rubble at the World Trade Center. Maybe I could find some poor unemployed mill worker to climb up next to me on a huge pile of stock options and cash and shout to the crowd...
"Mr. CEO, tear down that pile of loot!"
Nah, you're right. It'll never work.
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Wednesday, January 17, 2007
George Has a PointSince The Big Speech a week ago, George and his minions have been explaining their patent lunacy to the American people. The Sunday talkfest justifications are the same lame excuses they've made before, but among their central talking points is one about which they are frighteningly correct.
Iraq will be a blood bath if American withdraws.
The Bubbling Cauldron of Hate
Iraq is a bubbling cauldron of animus inhabited by zealots with centuries-old vendettas to carry out. Like the Hatfields and McCoys, they forgot the reasons for the original slights long ago, but their hatred remains as unfettered as it was on Day One. They've existed as a country only so long as a steel-fisted dictator has crushed them into faux obedience. Now, without a Saddam, they're left to their own hateful devices - which include killing anyone not of their own tribe.
After a belated spread the fruits of freedom justification, American soldiers are caught in the vicious crossfire. The Lunatic-in-Chief blundered them onto the mean streets of Baghdad, but those blunders don't matter to the impersonal bullets that fly thick as killer bees.
Too Little, Too Late
The President puffs that Iraq will be a bloodbath if America leaves, but forgets - with characteristic disregard for reality - that it already is. While he's been trying to edit the dictionary to include a more amenable definition of civil war, the Iraqis have engaged in one and are already far along the road.
An overwhelming majority decries his latest plan for victory as nothing more than sending 21,500 more bodies into the gnashing maw of history, but a central question remains. Will we and the Iraqis be worse off by leaving than by staying?
The most truthful answer to that question is, nobody knows.
There have been almost as many proposals for the way forward as people suggesting them. There's a good reason it's so hard to find a workable solution to the problem - there isn't one. Stay - thousands die. Leave - thousands die. Increase troop levels - thousands die. Pull out - thousands die.
I was against the invasion from the beginning, but once we were there I felt sending in troops to stabilize the place was best. In those early days it was still possible to salvage something worthwhile. These days, not so much. We've unleashed a malevolent genie from the bottle and there's nothing to do now but damage control.
History suggests that damage control is the one thing - among many - that Bush is most incompetent at. In fact, his pitiful brand of damage control is what got us here. The time is long overdue to wrest control from the Loon-in-Chief before the problem gets worse. As a country, we must concede that regardless of the actions chosen, we're stuck with Iraq for many years to come. That is as salient a fact as the Iraqi will to kill everyone on sight.
George harps that only Iraqis can solve this mess. Although his churlish statement that, "the Iraqi people owe the American people a huge debt of gratitude" is brazenly disingenuous, I agree. You can't build democracy at the point of a gun.
Let's withdraw to the sidelines where we can keep an eye on things and respond only if the bloodletting becomes a neighborhood affair. It won't be pretty. Make no mistake, blood will flow in the streets and the Middle East tinderbox will smolder with more intensity. It's a risky strategy based more on gut than solid predictions of other people's illogical behavior, but it is truly the lesser of dozens of evils. The only victory now is the one that doesn't kill more soldiers fighting a war that we started but someone else must finish.
It's time to do something, but it's just incredibly sad it has to be us.
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Monday, January 15, 2007
RandomiscityRacial Divide - Who says racism in America isn't dead?
Superschlumps - Behold the power of Matter Eater Man!
Haute Cuisine - Prisoners are always complaining about how bad the food sucks in the Big House. But apparently, some of them aren't put off their feed.
Have a Nosh - Damn Mary-Kate! When we said "eat something" we weren't talking about this.
Buy Chiquita Stock Now - When Bush proposed a new space exploration initiative, I don't think this is what people had in mind.
Wait Until Pat Robertson Hears about This - Go a little too far? Want that good as new feeling? These folks can fix you up.
Like Ben Franklin Said - Like Ben said, "If you must fart, fart proudly!"
That's Handy - Someone stalking you? These folks can help!
The Competition - We're an equal opportunity Deity. We even let the competition run ads.
An Idea Whose Time Has Cum - I have to give props to these people. I'm sure they're first on the market with this idea (Really NSFW).
Ouch! - This guy could make big bucks on America's Funniest Home Videos.
Cleanliness is Next to... - Maybe this is letting cleanliness get a little too close for comfort.
Nicheeeeewwwww Site - The Internets have a niche for everything.
That's Nothin' - You should see my 100 ft. air guitar.
Sex! - Now that I have your attention (NSFW).
God Gawd! Huh! I Don't Feel So Good! HA! - Apparently, Generalisimo Francisco Franco isn't the only one who's still dead. Maybe this calendar can wake them up.
Yes, Yes You Are - I have to agree, these people make Shrub look like an intellectual giant.
C'est So Paris - Vive la France!
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Sunday, January 14, 2007