The Fray on America's exterminator.

The Fray on America's exterminator.

The Fray on America's exterminator.

What's happening in our readers' forum.
Sept. 29 2005 2:55 PM

Reign DeLayed

The Fray on America's exterminator.

If Pockets Were Picked, You Must Convict: Tom DeLay analysis in the Fray is just rolling in. Thrasymachus elaborately and coherently lays out "The Case Against DeLay" in BOTF:

In essence, what DeLay is accused of is conspiring to get money from the following list of corporate donors. . .

-Diversified Colletion Services ($50,000)
-Sears Roebuck ($25,000)
-Williams Companies ($25,000)
-Cornell Companies ($10,000)
-Bacardi U.S.A. ($20,000); and
-Questerra Corporation ($25,000)

. . .to the following Republican Texas State Legislature candidates, in violation of Texas law prohibiting corporate donations to individual candidates in Texas:

-Todd Baxter
-Dwayne Bohac
-Glenda Dawson
-Dan Flynn
-Rick Green
-Jack Stick; and
-Laura Taylor.

This was accomplished, according to the prosecutor, through a series of cash transfers which were individually legal, but which were cumulatively intended to serve an overarching illegal purpose, i.e.: the funnelling of money from corporate donors into the pockets of Texan candidates.

The alleged sequence of transactions is as follows:

1) Above-listed Corporations-----$---->Texans for a Republican Congressional Majority ["TRMPAC"]
2) TRMPAC-----$-------->Terry Nelson, of the Republican National Committee ["RNC"]
3) RNC-------$-------->Individual GOP Candidates.

Nobody disputes the fact that these transfers of funds actually occurred. The dispute is over whether they're all part of an overarching plan, and, if so, whether Tom DeLay was a participant in it.

T. believes that "there's enough here to hang [TRMPAC Chief James] Ellis and [RNC Deputy Chief of Staff Terry] Nelson."

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Not buying the indictment, locdog replies that "there's nothing here":

there's nothing in texas election code that makes what TRMPAC did illegal. it is against the law for a political party or candidate to accept a donation from a corporation or labor union within sixty days of an election. it's against the law for a corporation or labor union to make such a donation. it is not against the law for a "general action committee" to give the RNC $190,000 dollars within sixty days of an election.

There's a broader defense of DeLay from locdog in this thread:

even if you could somehow prove to me that what TRMPAC did was illegal, you'd then have to prove that not only did delay know if it, but that he actively conspired to "knowingly [make] a political contribution in violation of...Texas Election Code," as the indictment charges. in other words, it's not enough to merely show that delay was aware of what was happening, and it's not enough to show that delay told TRMPAC to make it happen. you have to show that delay knowingly violated the law, i.e., you have to prove his intent.

good luck with that.

The_Bell constructs his topical juxtaposition—today it's DeLay with that ginormous squid. The Bell hasn't decided where the indictment falls politically:

Among the pundits at Slate, the view seems to be that this represents a huge and substantial political victory . . . for Republicans. The argument by Mr. Reed and Mr. Dickerson runs that the GOP has shed itself of its largest and most encumbering millstone while Democrats now find themselves bereft of a chief villain who aided them not only by probably being legitimately guilty as charged but looking and playing the part of an evil creep so convincingly.

DeLay himself predicted his tarring would ultimately stick to and prove far more disfiguring to Congressional Democrats than himself. "What the Democrats don't understand," he told host Chris Matthews during an appearance on MSNBC's Hardball last night, "what they have done today is so unified the Republicans, at a time when we were kind of falling apart and fighting with each other, that we are now so focused on our agenda, we're going to drive it home and defeat the Democrats by accomplishing our agenda."

And JohnLex7 reminds us that a liberal is just a conservative who's been sued …  KA11:50 a.m.

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Monday, September 26, 2005

Boomer vs. X-er: From Basildan here, in response to David Yaffe's Music Box critique of Bob Dylan: No Direction Home:

Let's see, the good professor dismisses Scorsese as a "celebrity" director; Johnny Cash is a fumbler; Peter, Paul and Mary are criminals; unnamed PBS directors are hacks; Maria Muldaur & Suze Rotolo are nothing but star f*ckers; Liam Clancy is insufferably melodramtatic; Ginsburg looks like he's on desolation row; and Joan Baez is "eerily" well-preserved. We won't even itemize the shots he takes at that lying, thieving, adenoidal Starbucks sell-out Dylan.

I trust no one with an ounce of sense will take this sour review for anything but the jaded piece of crap that it is. I've seen No Direction Home, and it's as good a statement as we're ever going to get on the birth of an artist.

And one more thing for all the whiny Gen-Xers posting here. I'm really sorry you were born too late to experience the thrill--no matter how ephemeral it was--of being part of a generation that actually believed it had a place in the great scheme of things and could effect change for the better. It was quite a time. But, Hey Nineteen, don't blame us for how lousy it all turned out. The Eddie Haskells of the Boomer generation won the power struggle, and we all live in their world now.

Fraywatch is particularly fond of Basildan's closing disclaimer—that somehow the Manchurian Boomers seized the controls from Joni Mitchell and Robert Kennedy and turned the culture into the Death Star.

X-er and Clash devotee Splendid_IREny is going to watch it because "all Dylan fans have it bad":

that's why I'm going to watch this latest epic of cryptic self-mythologizing. I'm guessing that the '70s were left out altogether from Yaffe's comment on the "whitewashing." I wouldn't expect any less from a man who's as famous for his taciturn public image as for his music.

The only performer who speaks less during a performance is a mime, probably.

With his recent biographies, Dylan has clearly decided to speak and finally shape his career as he wants it to be seen. And, obviously that means leaving out the dirt that would make him look less angelic.

Unlike the militant folkies who made him run for cover in '66, Dylan's still making his mark. What they hell are they doing? Burning effigies of Dylan at backyard barbecues?

Here's boomer rob_said_that (hell, a boomer who's into the Dandy Warhols) with his refreshingly unsentimental "Nostalgia ain't what it used to be" post:

No, I'm not going to defend the decade, even though I grew up in it and do have a kind of sentimental view of the period. I've said before that when it comes to examining your coming-of-age decade with a magnifying glass, the baby boomers are the thickest part of the thickest lens. Things only seem more earth-shattering in '60s retrospect because there are more of us to resonate the repercussive symbolism (cymbalism?).

OK, sorry. That's too much of a mouthful. Let me say simply that any decade of the 20th century you are likely to pick will have at least as much turmoil, as many milestones passed, as many shibboleths overturned, as much drama.

For a rhapsodic "you had to be there" testimonial, check out TidewaterJoe's post hereKA2:20 p.m.

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Friday, September 23, 2005

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This week, Houston fraysters transition from volunteers to those in the path of the storm.  Testimonials from them and others grace the boards:

Yesterday was one hell of a day. It hit a hundred degrees and I was cutting to size and then hanging some full sheets of plywood that the neighbor discovered in her garage. It covered her plate glass patio doors. My other neighbor discovered the same in his outside shed. This morning I will cover his living room window with one sheet and then use the other to cover the most vulnerable of our windows. After that, it's even more outside work in another day's worth of three digit temperature.

…At the moment we are hoping to escape the worst of the approaching hurricane and endure only 120 mph winds. We are far enough inland not to worry overmuch about storm surge. As a matter of fact, if any trace of a storm surge hits where we are at then the lower half of the state is doomed anyway. So, no worries mate.

In any event, so far as I have been able to ascertain, every neighbor on our street is staying and hunkering down; many with visiting relatives, who fled lower lying regions. Despite reassurances that delivery trucks would be endlessly streaming into the region, local grocery stores are pretty much stripped.

What panic is noticeable can be seen in impatient or insane driving. Face to face, everyone seems controlled and courteous. As for driving, I have absolutely no intention of moving a vehicle again, except for last minute shuffling for best positions in driveways.

I have noticed that our older cats are beginning to get a bit anxious, but then they might very well be picking up bad vibes from their humans. The two kittens are romping around per normal. I could use some of their wild energy today.

There is something to look forward to, however; if I survive today's marathon work load in 100 degree temperature then I can rest and enjoy watching the roof of my house rip away in the contentment that comes from knowing that one has done one's best. Um – let me rethink that . . . .

Before signing off for now, I would like to add that as frightening as it is to hunker down anywhere near the landing zone of this hurricane, I feel genuine sympathy for the millions of people who fled lower lying areas of the state. Where in the hell are they going to end up? Most of them have no real idea. It's stay and probably die or hit the road and hope for the best as funds gradually drain away. Most of those fleeing the approach of this storm have every good reason to believe that there will be no home to return to after the fact.

Hauteur, here, from the Houston area, on the rituals of preparation.

Thursday morning. no wind, absolutely still clear morning sky. working half day today, closed tomorrow. came in against traffic this morning, north and west bound freeways completely jammed. neighborhoods empty, quiet roads, I'll go home 'through the neighborhoods' at noon. Next-door-neighbor Evelyn nervous with wheelchair bound father in that big house alone. helped with her windows last night, will finish up this afternoon. probably have them come over tonight and through the worst of it. told her to bring money, wonder if she knows how to play Texas Hold 'em. pets all nervous with the extra activity, maybe they sense the storm already, I don't know. worried most about the roof and also about flying debris. more later.

MichaelRyerson, here, early Thursday morning in Houston chronicling the calm before the storm

… it seems that a(n important) group of people have been left out of this discussion: those of us who need porn.

I'm an academic who's terrible with women. I try to talk to them, they don't like me. In fact, when many find out I'm a scientist, they end the conversation as soon as possible. And I'm not great looking. Luckily my work is very important to me and I live a relatively happy life doing science. But I'm also a man. I get horny, a lot. It interferes with my ability to do just about anything else. Porn lets me get on with my life. And yeah, I need progressively more aggressive porn because it's all the sex I get. Looking at semi naked women gets boring after a few years. And I'm not alone in this predicament. I know a lot of scientists, engineers, and programming types that … are in exactly the same boat…

And I know what you're thinking. Clearly we all just need to get laid. That's a lot like telling a suicidal person to just cheer up already. It's hard and it doesn't happen. You try, you get shot down 5 or 6 times, it sucks…

It boils down to this. Yes, I got laid a few times in college. Not really for a few years now. And it's not going to happen. Women really just don't go for scientists. Life is miserable when you're horny and porn solves that problem. Come on, we need it! It certainly isn't ruining our sex lives - it is them.

Apostortwo, here, introducing the personal into an otherwise academic conversation.

Boomers stopped buying current music when they started having their own kids. Most, not all, are stuck in a music listening time warp. What came after the "60s but disco and who doesn't want to forget that? Then punk, which only rattled or bored Boomers who were too preoccupied pressing their power suits to pay attention to anything not harmonious with their own self-image.

New Wave may have pricked up their ears, if only because their kids or someone else's kids were listening to it … Then came grunge and what did Boomer advertisers do but glom onto it as a marketing ploy?

Every new music that comes along, they use it for something other than its intent. How many more times do we have to endure Caribbean Cruise commercials using Iggy Pop's "Lust of Life" before we figure out that most of Dylan's early listeners died about the same time he crashed his motorcycle?

There exists no other generation so intent on glorifying itself as forever young even while relying on soundtracks from its long-gone youth and commercials showing them as still young in their pursuits. Boomers want to hear Dylan when he was young, but not now, when he sounds like – gasp! – a man their age.

Please. Enough. Get off the teat of Dorian Gray. Listen to Time out of Mind or Love and Theft if you've got the honesty to. Otherwise, you're not a real Dylan fan.

Spelendid_IREny, here, as distraught as Fraywatch is over Madison Avenue using Zeppelin to sell Cadillacs.

I've been thinking a lot about letting go lately. It's been a hard couple weeks.

We've had a death at school, and it's cast a pall on the girl's whole school. I don't have any details - the girls weren't particularly close to her. Shared some classes and a couple birthday parties. Not best friends, but neighbors. I haven't even seen her since school got out last year, but I'm pretty upset. It's hard to field their questions and be there for them when I don't know what is going on but I understand why they don't tell people. They say it's "natural causes", but I fail to see how anything natural can take a seemingly healthy 14-year-old girl as she's getting ready for school one morning. The girls keep trying to think of things, and I can't give them any answers. This is hard on the "Mom knows everything" rep, and you feel like such a dope. I feel so awful for her parents.

My eldest is turning 18 in two months. I'm not ready. I won't say inane stuff about "where did the time go" because I know bloody well where it went. I was here for it all, I assure you. But even with 18 years of warning I'm still not ready. It's amazing how proud of them you can be and how terrified for them you can be at the same time. I AM proud of him. He's really stepped up to the plate here these last six months, and while it doesn't allay any of those worries that ferment in my head if I let myself think too hard I'm fairly confident he'll at least go out and make his own mistakes instead of some festive variations on mine and his father's.

My mom had surgery. They removed a tumor, and they've been testing it to find out if it's cancerous or not. We've been through a two month roller-coaster-ride to get to that point, and waiting for the verdict this last week has been really hard. We've both been really scared. We spend most of our efforts trying to pretend we aren't to each other, though. I'm really far away so all I can do is call her incessantly and drive her crazy. She's got her sister there to do that in person much better than I'll ever manage it, though. I try to let the local talent handle it as much as I can and keep it to myself but it's hard. I just got off the phone with her and they say now for sure it's not cancer, but they think she needs a hysterectomy anyways. We can handle that. After all the rest of it that seems like a blessing, rather than a problem. Thanks be to a gifting God…

MsZilla, here, on letting go

…Perhaps Al can be a more electable Dean. He did win a majority of the popular vote. That doesn't say much for his strength as a candidate, as Bush the Elder won a landslide in a similar situation, and Gore had to scramble. But the myth that he wuz robbed and should have won gives him more electability cred.

He is capable of unleashing the occasional stem-winder of a speech, deploying the Southern Baptist pulpit presence that goes down so well with the voters. His convention speech was very good indeed, though most are.

Debates are a trouble spot. He was great as the attack dog against Quayle and Perot, but that same aggressiveness made people uneasy when running for the top job.

He's certainly the strongest threat Hillary faces … I wish him well, as the talk shows will positively revel in the long-suspected Clinton-Gore feud.

Urquhart, here, getting onboard Gore '08—Doin' it Nixon style!

Hurricanes and Homosexuality, Deception, Fray Addictions and the Un-dead...Can you name the posters who said the following?

1. "Lesbians just have more thrilling sex. We're out there in the trenches where you should be, rather than discussing how Venus and Mars are actually two different planets."

2. "Omy Heck..Has Some one lied to others?"

3. "What do you guys wear (if anything) under those robes? Leather thongs is the rumor I've heard."

4. "[new technique: I'm going to do all my top-posts mid-thread, to protest the truncation of the Fray front page. Power to the people. Solidarity! Soup.]"

5. "Most people just masturbate, but I guess Adam needs the whole courtship ritual first."

6. "As a gay man, Jonah, I want the world to know that I stand ready to take in a few gay refugees from Hurricane Rita. My only requirement is that they be between 21 and 35, and have been to the gym at least twice a week for the last two years." "Courage."

7. "Rarely will you be treated to a more patronizing criticism, so lets leave it at that for now. Toodles."

8. "I can barely juggle the 7 nics I currently use, not to mention holding down a job and getting dinner on the table every night."

9. "I'm sorry I was such a poor husband. I'm sorry I posted on this effing forum so much, wasting time at work when I could have come home earlier."

10. "Friday morning, wide band of high clouds running southwest to northeast, local freeways cleared out, many vehicles abandoned, out of gas, our preparations complete, now the calm before the storm, literally and figuratively."

topazz (and a bevy of others), here, with this week's installment of "Overheard in BOTF."

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Wednesday, September 21, 2005

There's an appealing combination of pathos and resignation in TimmyG's response to the Book Club symposium on Pornified and Female Chauvinist Pigs. As Laura Kipnis states in her Tuesday entry, "Both [books] describe the dire effects the rising cultural acceptability of porn has on male-female relationships and on female self-esteem." After confessing that the entire conversation is getting him hot, Timmy starts out with a market defense of porn:

I do not understand what [women] are looking for from men. A result of female empowerment is the lessening of men's responsibility. If a man chooses to pay straight cash for internet porn that is his valid consumer decision. He has no obligation to anyone else as long as he has no children to support.

He adds:

For men, the reality is that the golden ring is unattainable. This is true in all respects. Throughout the education process, there are smarter men, more athletic men, more charismatic men, and these men get the most desirable women. Isn't that as it should be? The added humiliation of eating humble pie from a woman in school is a treasured and liberating experience…

The traditional role of educated men as providers, husbands, fathers, etc., had been judged negatively and somewhat immorally. What was there to do? It didn't matter. The responsibility was gone. I was in fact liberated.

So when I read three letters by three women worrying about the rapacious sexual appetites of men and the negative effect on women, I feel nothing. I have been taught that I have no right to comment on this subject publicly. I have no right to judge women from my obvious paternalistic and domineering perspective as a male.

I am grateful for this. It save me a lot of involvement and worry.

After offering a similar market disclaimer/defense, Mangar asks, "How 'cultural' is porn?' His answer:

…it's folly to try to look at cultural trends as a cause, and an effect, for sexual trends that have been with us for recorded history (and beyond). I would say that Internet porn is so prevalent because it's good at easily filling an existing desire, not because it has awoken some previously unknown appetite. Men have always pursued as many women (real or imagined) as their circumstances allow. Don't think that porn is the be-all-end-all of imaginary sexual activity. Looking at women and imagining them naked beneath their clothes is quite enough, thank you, to kick off a spirited round of easy-sex-in-the-mind-of-the-male-with-no-foreplay-or-consequences through the miracle of sexual fantasy.

Koplaw offers an interesting cultural parallel:

think porn is a logical extension of a fast food culture. Traditionally, the act of eating, or feasting, involved a whole host of ritual and human intimacy. Putting aside the family and community effort to hunt, grow, or gather the food, there was the rituals involved in eating and sharing a meal with others. Fast food eliminates that whole process and reduces it to the most basic element, fulfilling the need for instant sustenance.

For a more personal testimonial, check out baltimore-aureole's post here exploring porn's effect on her relationships. Demosthenes2 feels that:

It seems to me that perhaps we need to draw a distinction between the mechanics of biological sexual function and intimacy—it has always been the case that the two can exist together or separately…It is for this reason that I think that Laura Kipnis, Meghan O'Rourke and Wendy Shalit may be conflating the two a bit.

For comic relief, Diogenes_Bob writes with his signature pithy style:

Whenever anyone gets into a tizzy about the depiction of humans copulating, it reminds me that it is only the tizzying that made anyone even bother to "depict" it in the first place.

On a similar note, Annoyed groans that, "People allow their fear of being labeled a puritan to trump their disgust."

And for another good laugh on the increasing availability of porn, see TheNewSnobbery here:

Elementary-school boys are getting porn from libraries.

Shocking. Back in my day, it was the video store. Or the 7-11.

Or grampa's closet. Because he'd never call you on it and he was too lazy to move the cassettes, even when it was relatively clear that we'd been shuffling things around.

The library sounds so cold and impersonal. I really can't imagine popping my own cherry in the library, but maybe kids today really are total psychos.

Apparently, this isn't a problem at DukeKA11:20 a.m.

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Tuesday, September 20, 2005

NK TK: Analysts, including Fred Kaplan here, maintain that yesterday's agreement with North Korea marks the beginning—not the end—of our diplomatic contortions. Is the Bush administration's willingness to negotiate an earnest attempt to diffuse the enduring conflict between the two countries, or just a CYA gesture to ensure that critics can't play the exhausting-all-diplomatic-options card if push ultimately comes to shove with Pyongyang?

J_Mann questions whether it's moral to negotiate with K.J.I.:

Is it really moral to buy ourselves safety at the cost of extending the current NK government's rule? How many decades of Korean suffering is it worth to have two or three fewer bombs in the world?

I've heard the antiwar people complaining to no end how the US supposedly "created" Saddam and Bin Laden, and how we are supposedly responsible for the governments in Syria and Egypt. Is it really ok to be complicit in the continuation of one of the two or three worst states in the world?

It seems to me that it would be much more moral to say "we'll talk about your nukes some other time, but if you want food and energy assistance, we demand the following human rights reforms . . ."

That J_Mann, one of the Fray's more articulate neocons, frames the question as a moral one is curious, given the practical tack taken here by Condi Rice. Considering the events of the last several months, is it possible that the president is shedding his neoconservative skin in favor of the realpolitik of his father? 

Lowbrow Freeze: Fraywatch didn't get around to highlighting it last week, but MonsterDog's lowbrow rebuttal to David Amsden's heady retrospective of the Slurpee deserves a read:

While the wretchedly vapid Manhattanites may contemplate the social significance of 7-Eleven's signature frozen ice thingee, those of us who do not live in Manhattan … grab a Slurpee and a bag of Doritos, and bask in the Nevada sun secure in the notion that life gets better the less you think about it.

That's what 7-Eleven's always been about, insanity of its marketing team notwithstanding. What the eggheads call "nostalgia" I call not letting silly notions of responsibility or "grow up, boy, you won't be a kid forever" cloud the point of life, which is to have a little fun.

Think about it. It's Saturday afternoon. You're enjoying one of your sixty-four consecutive hours away from the Corporate Machine. What better way to celebrate the downtime than with a brainfreeze that's wretched for your health? If you contemplate the calories, you're missing the point.

There's still room in this world for frivolity chilled to a headache-inducing degree. Sometimes a brainfreeze is just a brainfreeze. Oh, thank heaven.

Just don't tell it to these guys

How I Spent My Summer: In the felinicide department, Thugs-Ma sees Emily Yoffe's Goldie and raises her "a pretty Siamese mix from the pound named Tuff Guy":

I really didn't like this cat, but I put up with her, because ... well... it was an emotional thing. I felt beholden to her.

Then I got pregnant. As a single mom, trust me, I didn't have the ability to abide this cat -- who wasn't all that friendly and kept my house untidy --requiring more time than I had to spare to constantly clean. I'm sorry, but all relationships are give and take. And I was doing all the giving. Life is too short to spend with a pet that doesn't like people. Life is too short to spend with a pet you don't like.

So I did what a responsible person would do. I put her down myself. I grew up on a farm, where life and death issues, while not taken lightly, are day to day things, and where a responsible person doesn't dump their animal on the Humane Society to anesthetize or board (for endless months until the animal gets wacked anyway). It wasn't a pleasant task. I'm not some psycho.

I saw it as ultimate respect.

If so desired, direct your outrage here …  KA1:40 p.m.