Friday, October 17, 2008


I'm Barack Odogma, and I peed on this message.

I'm John McCain, and I enjoy brains.

I'm Chris Matthews, and I feel a shiver up my leg.

And I'm a polar bear, and if helicopters didn't frighten and confuse me, I would shoot Sarah Palin from one.

Thursday, October 9, 2008


Cartoon by Michael Ramirez

Yesterday it seemed we never would smile again
Didn't it?

Wouldn't matter what we ventured, or how...

Looked as though the fun was over 'till who knew when.
That was then

This is now.

Back in business and ain't it grand
Let the good times roll.

Yesterday things were out of hand -

Now they're under control.

Back to normal
Back to usual

Let the fun resume.
No more doom and gloom
No more bust, just boom!

Back in business and overnight
in demand.

Well, all right!
Business is just dynamite!
Let the good times roll.

- Various gangsters,
Dick Tracy, music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim.


It's been a long time coming, longer than I had any right to expect it would be, so I suppose we should all be grateful that it took this long to play out: I hate everyone.

Why? Is there something else going on?

I should point out that I don't hate everyone everyone. Not you, for example, gentle reader, or even you, over there in the corner picking your nose.

No, I hate our presidential candidates and I hope to God and all his angels that Thomas Jefferson was wrong when he said that voters in a democracy get the government they deserve.

For months, I walked around New York in a happy daze, convinced, with the small majority of the country, that there was "something about Barack Obama" that we couldn't put our fingers on. But we all knew it was good. After seven and a half years of staring at my shoes and clenching my fists in embarrassment every time the slackjawed chief executive muttered something about freedom hatred or his own deciderhood, the idea that this country might possibly trade up for an energetic young biracial man with the oratorical skill of your favorite college professor struck me as not merely encouraging, but miraculous. It said something good about the country.

To some extent, I still think that. Obama leads McCain in the polls, and when pitting the one against the other - the progressive against the reactionary, the deep-thinking, big-eared peacenik against the twitchy warmonger who thinks the world stopped moving during the Vietnam War - you can't help but notice that people have gotten more reasonable in the wake of the Fool of Crawford.

Of course, that was before the stock market collapsed like a giant whoopee cushion under the corpulent collective ass of idiot deragulatory legislation authored by people from both parties (Goldman Sachs AND JP Morgan Chase Bear Stearns WaMu What Do You Call The Bank That Owns Everything, Again? are two of Obama's biggest campaign contributors. I would imagine that he finds himself in favor of globalizing the economy and indifferent on the subject of monopoly, wouldn't you?). That giant farting sound you hear is all your money going into your neighbors' worthless houses.

And nobody really has a clue what to do about this particular meltdown. The horse is gone; there's no point in closing the barn door now. Worse, for many Americans, there's no one to hate, so, like me, most of us are content with hating politicians. The truth, though, is that we should be taking a much harder look at ourselves.

Who took out all these loans they couldn't afford, again? Who bought house after house and unquestioningly accepted the banks' own assessments of properties that it had a financial interest in overpricing?

More to the point, who allowed these goons to wander in and out of Washington with wheelbarrows full of our money and pockets lined with congressmen? It's not like we didn't know the people we were electing were venal and crooked; we just trusted them to act in the interest of their country on the theory that it would be their own best interest, as well.

Our elected officials, it turns out, are as stupid as we are. And even though Obama seems smart, even though he seems like a guy who wants to help people find a common ground and discover their own inner big-eared deep-thinking peacenik, nobody in American history ever got to the top by being friendly and easygoing all the time. Of course, some have rotted so thoroughly that they can't even hide it anymore, like poor old John McCain, who was actually a very decent guy once upon a time, before 2004, when George Bush and Dick Cheney (a lipstick-free pit bull if ever there was one), started telling everybody that he had a bastard child - worse, a darkie.

Having been shat upon so vigorously by the vast Republican sphincter that now occupies the best seat in the Oval Office, McCain clearly thinks that this is the way to win an election. Why else would he hire a silly-ass thug like Sarah Palin, who can't complete a sentence except to croon to racists and dickheads that Obama "pals around with terrorists?"

In a way, as insane as some of his ideas are, it would have been nice to see somebody take pity on poor Ron Paul and prop the old guy up as the paragon of virtue he clearly is. Why else would he sit there harassing Alan Greenspan through decades of a perfect simulacrum of economic prosperity? Why would he continue to harp on the economy when what the morons who go to the polls every November really want to know is whether or not them faggots is going to be prancing around in bridal gowns?

It's probably a futile desire on my part - I just wish we had some kind of hero again; someone to look up to and say, "Ah, here's our man! Here's somebody we can trust to do the right thing no matter how personally harmful and unpopular it turns out to be!" I've never met that person, or even read about him in the news while he was alive. Instead, each faction of the country has its own rabble-rousing fearmongers telling it that if you're not careful, those people (the blacks, the fags, the Christers, the soldiers - depends on where you are) will come and take away everything that's yours.

And the funniest thing is that the only people doing any taking are the rabble-rousers themselves, who convince us, over and over again, to hand over our money, our national dignity, our children who want to play soldier, for safekeeping while they fight off everyone who disaggrees with us.

In the meantime, of course, as we stare across fences and growl at each other, they spend our money like drunken sailors, kill our children in greedy wars, represent us to a world full of angry nuclear powers as ignorant bullies, and leave us arguing over scraps, still convinced that we have nothing to fear but our neighbors.


email Sam Thielman at

Thursday, September 25, 2008


Here's wonderful proof that you can't just lie and lie and get away with it when the very first amendment in the United States constitution allows some of the country's smartest and most charismatic citizens the freedom to shoot your career, gut it, kill it, eat it, and then laugh about it later. Like some sort of moose.

And Matt Taibbi over at Rolling Stone has had it with all of you. He tells you so in "The Lies of Sarah Palin," available here.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


As Alaskan porker Ted Stevens once said, "The internet is not something that you can just dump something on." But fellow Alaskan civil servant Sarah Palin didn't take that advice, and so a few of the folks over at the /b/ board on the largely lawless 4Chan website (or /b/tards, as they are affectionately known) decided that invasion of privacy laws are for little people and broke into Alaskan governor and VP nominee Sarah Palin's email account on Yahoo, which the New York Times alleges she used to avoid FOIA subpoenas.

The screencaps of her account were almost immediately taken down, but "almost immediately" is like, years in internet world. Manhattan media blog Gawker picked them up, and since this is both depressing and newsworthy, they will be all over the internet very soon (click to enlarge).

"This is a shocking invasion of the Governor's privacy and a violation of law," says to McCain-Palin campaign manager Rick Davis. "The matter has been turned over to the appropriate authorities and we hope that anyone in possession of these e-mails will destroy them. We will have no further comment."

And I hope that anyone in possession of a winning lottery ticket will turn it over to me, but the chances are slim. Sadly for Mr. Davis, having nothing to do with the theft of this information I am free to post as much of it as I want, due to pesky amendments like that great big one at the beginning.

Accordingly, here is real live proof that Sarah Palin was using her personal email address to conduct government business, along with a screencap via Gawker, which has the rest of the emails and quite a bit of other material, altered to redact the Sean Parnell's email address (c'mon, guys, that's no way to behave). Palin's account is closed for the duration, so no point in hiding it. Send an email to for a bounceback proving that she has closed the account, presumably destroying evidence in the ongoing "Troopergate" investigation in the process.

From: Sean personal2
To: Sarah's Personal Email
Sent: Jul 23, 2008 5:40 PM
Subject: Re: Looks like it's my turn in dan's crosshairs

Yesterday, as I set the record straight on my support for you and my ads, Fagan asked if I supported ACES. I told him I did, gave my reasons why and now he's replaying it over and over next to my ad where I tell people I'm for lower taxes. (which was my legislative history, voted against a state income tax, fought Tony's long range financial plan that included five new taxes, didn't raise taxes when oil was at 9 dollars a barrel, cut spending instead.)

It got ugly and will be.


Thursday, July 24, 2008 2:14 AM

To: "Sean personal2"
Subject: Re: Looks like it's my turn in dan's crosshairs

Arghhh! He is so inconsistent and purposefully misleading! I am sorry Sean. He can keep trying, but you are the right one for the congressional position and he KNOWS it (that's the inconsistency!)…remember how he said it all only really matters on matters like LIFE, honesty, ability, etc…all those things you are (as opposed to attributes of your opponents)? He knows you fit all of this, and conservatives', and Alaskans' criteria. His fighting you reveals some evil stuff going on with him. Does he want someone OPPOSED to the life issue in Congress? NOT capable of working with both parties? NOT experienced and capable and standing strong on all the right issues?

I am so sorry he does this.

Monday, September 8, 2008


"The prayer of the scientist if he prayed, which is not likely:

'Lord, grant that my work increase knowledge and help other men.

'Failing that, Lord, grant that it will not lead to man’s destruction.

'Failing that, Lord, grant that my article in Brain be published before the destruction takes place.'"

- Walker Percy, Love in the Ruins


Switzerland has declared itself neutral in various wars, but that doesn't mean they couldn't destroy the planet and kill everyone on it if they so chose. In the lnked article from the Daily Mail, writer Fiona McRae discusses a not-completely-implausible scenario in which Geneva's Large Hadron Collider obliterates the solar system.

The collider accelerates subatomic particles to near-lightspeed and then tosses them at one another, creating conditions similar to those that theoretically existed during the Big Bang at the beginning of the universe. With it, scientists hope to prove the existence of the Higgs Boson or "God particle," which would aid those trying to better understand the nature of light.

The problem with the Collider is that, as particles approach lightspeed, they become heavier. A particle actually traveling at 186,000 miles per second (or a significant fraction thereof) would have so much mass that the universe would collapse around it. This probably will not happen, Dennis Overbye explains in the New York Times, but it might. Then again, we might all spontaneously combust, too - probability laws get weird around physicists. The question, then, is this: should scientists engage in experiments that might destroy, say, the solar system, even if the risk is infinitesmally small? A one-in-a-million chance that the earth might convert into a lifeless mass of strange matter is still a chance. By way of comparison, scientists have turned to a golden oldie, one that many of us have heard from exasperated parents when we, as children, worried about nuclear war: is the probability of planetary annihilation equal to or greater than that of being hit by a giant asteroid? No? Than have at it.

And it's probably OK to stop worrying: they switched it on last Wednesday. If you are still frightened, please consult this handy predictive tool:



The devil, or possibly Vladimir Putin (via his sock puppet, Medvedev), continues to go down to Georgia: should the embattled Georgians be allowed to join NATO?

For heaven's sake, no.

In what is actually a salient point (one of the first from Putin), the quasi-dictator asks what the hell he and his comrades were supposed to do when Georgian crazies started shelling them from across the border. Georgia is not a tiny little America: it's a very, very unstable country that hasn't yet learned not to pick fights with its neighbors, and NATO is a military organization for grownups, not the United Nations.

Worrying saber-rattling has taken place on both sides of the American election as Georgia threatens to turn from an unstable wild card into a full blown military and humanitarian crisis, but besides the fact that the US president is not, in fact, the king of the world, NATO troops mostly come from the United States, and we, very literally, cannot afford another war. We can't even afford the wars we've got now.



Camille Paglia, one of the few pro-choice Democrats to actually admit that abortion ends a human life (she doesn't care), publishes a heartfelt apologia for Sarah Palin, applauding her effective girl-power charisma.

Philip Klein, over at, of all places, the American Spectator, calls bullshit.



The following campaign ads and subsequent links are presented without comment, except to say that the one should be taken with the other.


There is one unconventional politician in this race who has not received due credit for a spectacular ability to juggle multiple commitments with astonishing poise. Few people are even aware that this person is working two jobs, but attention must be paid:

Sam Thielman can be reached at sam.thielman at gmail dot com.

Sunday, September 7, 2008


P.J. O'Rourke: "The Problem is Politics"

"Laugh, Both of You" will be a weekly addition to this blog in which I try to find something both Republicans and Democrats will find funny. Republicans, for example, will be amused that the Democratic entry is a music video and the Republican entry is an essay, while Democrats will giggle that P.J. O'Rourke is still the funniest Republican.

Friday, September 5, 2008


The New Yorker's Steve Coll profiles the astonishing David Petraeus

Vanity Fair's Michael Wolff profiles Rupert Murdoch and details the narrowing rift between the owner of Fox News, the New York Post and the London Times, and Barack Obama

The Washington Post's Howard Kurtz writes about Brit Hume's untimely retirement

Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi follows Obama on the trail

Newsday's Walt Handelsman's pictures are worth a thousand words

TIME interviews Sarah Palin
And profiles her in this week's magazine


And here's the Variety article on why this matters.

Thursday, September 4, 2008


"Well, people like that reform. Maybe we should get us some.

PAPPY whips off his hat and slaps JUNIOR with it

"I'll reform you, you soft-headed sonofabitch! How we gonna run reform when we're the damn incumbent?"

- Joel and Ethan Coen,
O Brother, Where Art Thou?

Here's some smart analysis of McCain's VP pick, delivered by Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan when she thought the MSNBC mike was turned off, and here's what she says she meant, followed by her original column, published in the Wall Street Journal before that first link to her, er, uncensored opinion.

A friend of mine, a guy named Jason who is both a staunch conservative and an extraordinarily perceptive predictor of political events, said that he considered the Palin pick "one of the most brilliant political moves in history. If he had picked Romney, the election would have been close. Now, you watch. An army of white women is going to march to the polls in November and vote for her."

When another friend suggested that Obama was much more popular in Europe than he is here, Jason responded, "Of course he is! They want a weak America!"

As a whole, Europeans don't, of course, want a "weak America" if they know what's good for them. Europe is filled with borderline or full-blown socialist republics that can't afford to spend a penny on defense because of bloated public works and benefits programs; in England, you have to make a significant amount of money for it to even be worth working - going "on the dole" is a decent living. With words and with soldiers supplied to the UN, we keep their countries safe for them.

In this country, a similar scenario has been a conservative nightmare for decades. Ronald Reagan sold himself to the American public as the scourge of the "welfare queen," a woman he had read about in the New York Times and described with some measure of hyperbole (four welfare-collecting aliases became "eighty," $8,000 in fraud became "$100,000"). If enough of these people become a drag on our public funds, the theory goes, we'll have to cut defense spending, which would put us at the mercy of those people who want a weak America, whoever they may be.

This is not the only Reaganaut theory that is back in vogue: John McCain has been taking preliminary swings at the Evil Empire as Russian tanks roll over the Georgian border. Fareed Zakaria's column admirably and simply puts things in perspective: this may be the stupidest foreign policy decision on the Russian side since Leonid Brezhnev invaded Afghanistan in 1978. Even Gorbachev thought that was stupid.

And the new version is probably not worth restarting the Cold War over.

Another friend, the same guy who questioned whether or not the European opinion is worth considering, noted that, in a conversation with his grandmother, she mentioned that her sister, a lifelong Democrat, couldn't vote for Obama: he's black.

"That's a little cowardly," said my friend.

"Think what you want," said his grandmother. "The whole nursing home feels the same way."

I ranted to David, my editor, who is a native Australian, that this was the exact opposite of what old people actually need: Obama wants to start wide-ranging healthcare reforms, using taxes on the wealthy to benefit the poor and indigent. If you're elderly and in a nursing home, you stand a good chance of reaping the benefits of an Obama presidency.

"And racism keeps them from voting in their own self-interest!" I practicallly screamed.

David was unperturbed.

"Then they deserve exactly what they get."

The most striking feature of the Republican National Convention so far has been its anger at the establishment.

Wait, what?

Yes, as Mitt Romney so often said during his campaign, "Washington is broken!" and as he said last night, "We need a conservative Washington!" These aren't out-of-context quotes, mind you - they were the mantras of his campaign for the nomination and now they're part of John McCain's presidential bid, which supposedly exists to use Republicans to shake up a Washington, DC that overwhelmingly supported President Bush whenever it could, to the extent of prosecuting a war on false pretenses and creating an illegal prison in Cuba.

Sarah Palin has joined the McCain campaign to represent voters who feel disenfranchised: normal people who have problems with their kids, need to juggle engagements, grew up worrying about money, and don't trust the federal government.

The choice, as Mike Murphy accidentally pointed out in that MSNBC clip, is entirely cynical. On the one hand, Palin is the governor of Alaska. As long as McCain is alive and in office, she will never be able to affect policy or change any significant aspect of the government; McCain will do as he pleases, which, given his impulsive remarks about Georgia, will be unpredictable at best.

On the other hand, if (God forbid) the 72-year-old cancer survivor dies in office, America will be left with a mother of five (including a Down syndrome infant), who was last seen threatening to fire the town librarian for refusing to censor books that Palin didn't like, who got her passport in 2006, who drove a rift between townspeople by dragging, of all things, abortion into a mayoral election in a town of 6,000, and who considers the Iraq war and a $30 billion oil pipeline missions from God like some mirror-universe Blues Brother.

Palin has been lauded, by McCain and by herself, as someone who opposed the "bridge to nowhere" (which she not only supported until it was all but scuttled, but used as campaign point in her gubernatorial campaign), who fought evil dumbass Ted Stevens (for whom she created an admiration society), and as an enemy of earmarks (which, in the pork capital of the universe, she of course is not).

Obama, bizarrely, has revealed himself to be not merely the wiser and more gracious candidate, suggesting that the media "back off" stories about her family life without even a mention of her incredible claim that she has just as much experience as he does (20 months as leader of the country's 47th-largest state - by population - apparently equals three years in the senate, eight years in the state legislature, and 22 years as an organizer on the South Side of Chicago), but also the more conservative.

Sam Thielman is a New York-based writer. He can be reached by email at sam.thielman at gmail dot com.