Friday, September 29, 2006

International: Bush Administration Spends $75 Million Taxpayer Dollars To Drip Shit On Heads of Iraqi Police

I gotta take a break. I’ve been busting my ass on this Bachmann thing for two weeks now, and I’m not even sure it’s going to pay off. Bachmann’s a lying nut, we’ve got the proof, but the dailies won’t touch that story.

So I’m taking a break--and for me that means: running an embarrassing scatological news item about more failures on the part of the Bush administration. Look at this, from today’s newswire:

Iraq police college a symbol of failed US plan
By Sue Pleming
Thu Sep 28, 5:14 PM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - It was intended to showcase U.S. rebuilding efforts in Iraq, but instead Baghdad's new police academy was declared a health hazard by U.S. inspectors who found human waste dripping from the ceilings.

In a congressional hearing on Thursday, where even the Republican chair said the U.S. rebuilding effort was not a "pretty picture," the Baghdad Police College was held up as an example of how the $21 billion U.S. reconstruction plan for Iraq went wrong.

"Poor security, an arcane, ill-suited management structure and a dizzying cascade of setbacks," said committee chair Virginia Rep. Tom Davis, of the U.S. reconstruction program.

And that guy’s a Republican! Shit, dripping from the ceilings? You bet it's "a dizzying cascade."

We take you now to the morning roll call at the Assembly Room of the Baghdad Police Academy:

Captain Faisal: …and so, recruits, we are asking for your personal best in what is undoubtedly a difficult and dangerous policing situation—

Police Candidate Machmud: Sir!

Captain Faisal: Yes, police candidate Machmud!

Machmud: It’s really hard to concentrate on what you’re saying with shit dripping down on our heads, sir!

Faisal: We are all working under onerous conditions, Machmud! I have shit dripping down on my head, too! I have shit dripping down on my head in my office! Every single day! Do you hear me complaining? Put your police hat on, if you must, you effeminate whiner.

Police Candidate Ibrahim: But sir!

Faisal: Yes, Candidate Ibrahim.

Ibrahim: It will be very hard for us to exercise authority over criminal suspects if we are wearing shit-stained hats.

Faisal: There is truth in your words, Ibrahim. Everyone take your hats off. Anyway, as I was saying—

Police Candidate Hashim: Sir!

Faisal: Yes, Candidate Hashim?

Hashim: The smell in our new police academy is intolerable! I was raised on a goat farm, yet never have I experienced such nauseating fecal fumes! They permeate the entire academy!

Faisal: That is neither here nor there! Fools! Do you know how much our American taxpaying allies have paid to give us this lovely building?

Hashim: No, sir, how much?

Faisal: Seventy five million American dollars!

Recruits: (in unison) Jesus H. Christ!

Faisal: And you question their competence and generosity? This academy is part of a $21 billion re-construction effort by the Bush administration. Soon there will be buildings like this one all over Iraq!

(Uproar among the recruits.)

Faisal: Silence! This building is an extraordinarily expensive effort by the Bush administration to raise our morale! And by heaven, your morale will be raised! We owe that much to the American taxpayers!

Hashim: Sir!

Faisal: Yes, Candidate Hashim?

Hashim: Candidate Ibrahim is about to be sick! If he vomits in here, the pungent aroma of regurgitated cous-cous and acrid half-digested yogurt, added to the all-pervading smell of shit in this academy, will undoubtedly become the final straw that breaks the back of the proverbial camel, and the loyal recruits of the Baghdad Police Academy will begin a binge of serial hurling such as never been seen since the Shi’ite-Sunni split!

Faisal: Then take him outside!

Hashim: But sir! Outside the academy there are snipers and improvised explosive devices and an army of insurgents who will peel our testicles like tangerines!

Faisal: That cannot be helped! Do you men want to face the insurgents on the streets of Baghdad, or would you rather stay here inside this nice, new, if somewhat shit-filled $75 million dollar police academy paid for with American taxpayer dollars?

(The recruits run out of the building en masse, tripping over each other.)

Captain Faisal:(to himself) Ha ha ha! It’s working… Thank Allah for the American private sector…

Monday, September 25, 2006

Inside Minnesota Politics: Prendergast Interviews David Strom

Well, I just got off the phone with our old pal, David Strom of the Taxpayer’s League of Minnesota. Dave and I go way back; I’ve despised everything the man stands for for years.

But this afternoon was the first time we’d ever actually spoken. And I must say he’s got a very charming phone manner—friendly, professional, very forthcoming with opinions. Refreshing change from dealing the people who run campaigns for political parties.

The reason I’d contacted Mr. Strom was to ask him about a poster I’d seen for the first time in one of our local tobacco shops. (I am a cigar smoker.)

This poster was circulated by the Taxpayers’ League of Minnesota (their name was at the bottom of the poster.) The headlines at the top of the poster read: “Are high cigarette prices making you angry? YOU CAN THANK THESE POLITICIANS WHO MADE IT HAPPEN!” Immediately following were photographs of three Minnesota elected officials—Governor Tim Pawlenty, Senator Michele Bachmann, and some guy you and I don’t really care about.

You can imagine my reaction. A rift between Senator Michele Bachmann and the Taxpayers’ League? That’s news! So I called Mr. Strom and asked him when the posters went up and if Bachmann and the Taxpayers’ League had patched things up since then.

It turns out that that’s old news, according to Strom. The League circulated those posters in tobacco shops about a year ago, he said. The cigarette tax hike rift between Bachmann and the League is over, and Strom confirmed that she is now the current favorite of the Taxpayer’s League in the 6th district congressional race.

While I had Strom on the phone, I asked him for his take on another apparent rift between Bachmann and the Taxpayers’ League. Earlier this year, when Bachmann and GOP elder statesman Phil Krinkie were in a knife fight to get the Republican endorsement for Congress, they had a “little disagreement” about which of them had the best record with the Taxpayers’ League.

Bachmann’s campaign released a statement claiming that her standing with the League was better than Krinkie’s. This caused Krinkie to explode. He indicated that that statement was false and indicated that legal action was forthcoming if Bachmann didn’t correct and withdraw the false statement.

The Taxpayers’ League got in between them and tried to settle the dispute. Strom says he called Andy Parrish, Bachmann’s campaign manager—“several times”--to try to straighten him out: Krinkie’s record with the League was indeed better than Bachmann’s. Strom told me that the basis of the Bachmann claim turned out to be an inappropriate “apples to oranges” interpretation of the candidates’ records that didn’t take proper account of their records over different time periods. He told the Bachmann campaign that they should withdraw the false claim.

Strom was puzzled by their unwillingness to do this. He finally had to straighten out the record himself, with a public statement denying the accuracy of Bachmann’s claims.

So dat’s da name of dat tune: Bachmann was making a false statement about a fellow conservative Republican and refusing to withdraw the charge when she was called out on it. Why would she refuse to withdraw the charge, once the League told her campaign manager it was false?

My opinion (not Strom’s): She didn’t withdraw the false charge right away because—she wanted to win the nomination. Didn’t matter to her whether it was true or false: the more days the false charge is circulated, the more damage is done to Krinkie. I think she understood that Krinkie wouldn’t go ahead and sue her—that would finish Krinkie with the Christian fundamentalist voters in this state, if he did that.

What did we learn from this? First: that Michele Bachmann will do anything to get ahead, including stabbing a fellow conservative in the back. Second: If you want the “inside story” on Minnesota politics—read the Stillwater Tribune.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Minnesota: Bachmann Accused Pawlenty Administration of Imposing State-Controlled Economy Based On Marxist Principles

Here’s two excerpts from a speech by GOP Congressional candidate Michele Bachmann. In this first quote, she's talking about Governor Pawlenty’s Tax-Free Zones initiatives:

“…it’s all for the planned redistribution of wealth which is also stated in this document, the redistribution of wealth which is based on a new concept called equity. And it says this: we must not lose sight of equity, or fairness based on need. Where have you heard that here, today? From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” --Senator Michele Bachmann, speaking at EdWatch conference sessions, held on October 10 and 11, 2003.

In this second quote, she's talking about how the current GOP administration is changing Minnesota from a free market, free enterprise economy into a kind of socialist state--in which Administration bureaucrats use public schools to impose career choices on students:

“I don’t believe for a minute our Governor (Tim Pawlenty) wants eighth graders choosing careers, I don’t believe for a minute our elected officials want that. But you know what? Everything that I read, all the documents, point otherwise.” --Senator Michele Bachmann, speaking at EdWatch conference sessions, held on October 10 and 11, 2003.

What’s so weird about this is that Bachmann and Governor Pawlenty are both conservative members of the same political party. The Governor is the last person you would suspect of trying to impose some sort of half-assed socialist economy on Minnesota.

Throughout his career he’s prided himself on being a “no news taxes” Republican. He’s also one of the poster boys for the Taxpayers’ League, a political lobby inspired by Grover Norquist (the tax policy maven who’s said he want to get government “down to the size where you could drown it in bathtub.”)

And Pawlenty has lent his support and personal presence to Bachmann on past occasions (most notably as a speaker at her anti-gay marriage rally.) So why is Bachmann attacking one of his key policy initiatives as some kind of covert attempt to turn Minnesota into a socialist state run on Marxist principles—behind his back, telling this to an audience of conservative voters, when the TV cameras aren’t rolling?

Two possible reasons: One possibility is that she really believes the charge is true; that Pawlenty and his ostensibly conservative administration really are trying to impose a socialist economy on Minnesota. Scary, if true; is a person that deranged really the Republican nominee for Congress?

The other possible reason she did it is: she doesn’t care about what happens to any other member of the Minnesota GOP. She is quite willing to imply that the Republican Governor and administration are sneaking Communism into Minnesota government, if that advances her own career and firms up her credibility with conservative paranoids that form part of her own political base. These voters leave her speeches thinking: “Wow, even Governor Pawlenty’s administration has been tainted by socialism! But Michele knows; Michele can see the communism creeping into the Minnesota GOP, I must listen to Michele, not Pawlenty and his bureaucrats…I must follow Michele, the loyalty and judgment of the Governor, and all other Minnesota GOP, are suspect.”

But why would the Minnesota GOP continue to support Michele Bachmann’s candidacy for federal office, if she’s so disloyal to fellow conservative Republicans in Minnesota? Well that one’s easy: it’s because she’s a loose cannon, because she has no loyalty to her fellow Republicans, that they want her out of Minnesota state government.

If one of your own is going around the state charging her own conservative party with having a socialist agenda, what do you do? You can’t expel her, you can’t denounce her without alienating thousands of her Christian fundamentalist followers and her paranoid right political base.

If you’re the Minnesota GOP, you have to do everything is your power to get her out of the state political machine--if supporting her candidacy for federal office is the only way to do that; so be it.

By th way: this kind of irresponsible careerist lunacy by Bachmann might explain why the state GOP promoted her and then demoted her from a leadership position in the Republican Senate Caucus.

Minnesota GOP thinking in 2004: “We can’t have a GOP politician winning points among conservative voters by leveling nuthouse accusation against fellow GOP conservatives. Let’s shut her up by promoting her into the party leadership. That will get Michele on board and in line; she’ll have a stake in supporting the GOP instead of dissing it in front of conservative voters.”

Minnesota GOP thinking in 2005: “My God, we promoted her but she won’t shut up. She’s still denouncing conservatives in her own party as sell-outs! She doesn't give a rat's ass about what's she's doing to the party, she only cares about her own career! The woman’s nuts, demote her, get her out of the leadership!”

GOP thinking in 2006: “My God, she’s STILL crazy! We can’t disown her, she’s got a lock on the state’s Christian fundamentalist voters, if we piss them off, we’re toast at election time! So we have to get her out of the state, any way we can! Send her to Washington, if that’s what she wants, but for Jesus' sake get her out of Minnesota state government before she busts up the GOP!”

Friday, September 15, 2006

News Analysis: GOP Congressman Pleads Guilty in Abramoff Scandal

Rep Bob Ney agrees to plead guilty
September 15, 2006

WASHINGTON - Rep. Bob Ney agreed Friday to plead guilty to two criminal charges in the congressional corruption probe spawned by disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff... After months of stoutly denying wrongdoing, Ney signed a formal plea agreement that outlined charges of conspiracy and making false statements by not disclosing gifts he received from Abramoff on financial disclosure forms required by Congress.

NEWS ANALYSIS: Look at that toup he's wearing in the picture. That's gotta be a toup, and it's got to be the worst toup I've ever seen on any elected official, anywhere. Who does he think he's kidding? Look at his face, then look at the "hair" that he's mounted over that face. Do the two even go together? The face looks about sixty two, the hair is supposed to be that of a thirty year old Kennedy.

That's disgraceful. This guy is what they call a "first degree rug offender." This a first degree "rug offense." Possession (of a really bad rug), and intent to distribute, via this photo and other public appearances in that ridiculous rug.

It's gotta be a rug. That can't be his real hair-who has hair like that, in real life? Church-going California surfers, maybe. It doesn't even look like real human hair was used to make his goddamn rug. It was probably made out of papyrus fibers or reeds or something, and then woven by child laborers in some third world country--and this is the result. Prison!

And it serves him right. Forget the Abramoff thing, they should send this guy to jail just for wearing that awful rug.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Politics: The Bachmann Record--Now Online, For Free!

Jeez-zoo! Getting that new web page up was like giving birth... But it's up! It's up, boys and girls! The first version is now on line, today.

So it's okay to start plugging it here: "The Bachmann Record" web page. A string of issue briefs, bullet-proof sourcing and citation of Congressional candidate Michele Bachmann on all sorts of issues.

The first four issue briefs are Bachmann on: Taxes, Education, Contributors, and Teaching Evolution and Creationism in our public schools.

And get a load of that portrait of Michele, which we commissioned especially from a human artist! Isn't that fantastic? (I'll put the link at the bottom of this article so you can see it.) I'll bet even she will be pleased with that!

We hope it will be useful to voters throughout the Sixth District. "The Bachmann Record" web site is and will be everything that this site is not: serious, well-documented, sans the tasteless and infantile humor. Gravitas, a-plenty!

There will be nothing on the page to slow down folks who are looking for hard information and sources on the candidate. So there will be no "Opinion" articles mixed in with the issue briefs; no contentious and undocumented blog exchanges. Any opinion that does appear will published news and op-eds on Bachmann, and these will be shoved off to their own web page so they don't get in the way of the issue briefs.

Here is the web site:

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Cheney: "Uh...Yeah... I Guess We F----d Up..."

I’m still working on the local Congressional race, but here is the latest horror story about the Iraq occupation. It’s ostensibly a story about Condi Rice, but buried in it is something far more important: the closest Dick Cheney’s ever gotten to a mea culpa on the Iraq fiasco:

“Vice President Dick Cheney defended the invasion of Iraq but acknowledged that the insurgency was not "in its last throes," as he said in May 2005. "I think there is no question but that we did not anticipate an insurgency that would last this long," he said.”

This remark puts Cheney in a very strange position, politically, because he is now a critic of the Iraq War. I'll tell you truthfully, that last person I expected to side with me on this Iraq War thing was Dick Cheney, but there it is; he said it for the record..."We just plain didn't know what we were getting into; hate to say it, but we just plain got the whole thing wrong. Didn't understand the situation. Thought I did; didn't. I thought it was in its 'last throes' last year, I really did. Well, that's one on me. (smiles) Duhhh! Heh, heh."

So what should he do now, having made that admission? Well, a person of conscience would resign. So we know he’s not going to do that.

But really—if you finally admit that you got it that wrong, that you talked your country into a bloody, seemingly endless foreign war, and that even up to a year ago you still didn’t understand the consequences or situation—isn’t it time to jump overboard and let someone else steer the ship of state for a while?

Who needs you guys in charge, if you freely admit that you were that wrong about something that important?

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Stillwater Tribune: Show Biz Update

Well... the ratings are in... Bill Prendergast in "International Mystery: Tokyo Takedown" was an absolute disaster... It cost me about half my regular audience, forever...

The demographics are broken down for me. It says "Among women ages 18 to 35, I lost 75% of the readership..." "Males ages 25 to 40, it cost me 85% of readers...that's significant because that's a key spending demographic..." So I guess I shouldn't be expecting to invest in any more advertising space on this blog anytime real soon... What else... "Teenagers of both sexes hated it." Hmm. No Ipod ad money, either... "Males ages eighty-five to ninety-three...about seventeen per cent of them actually died while "Tokyo Takedown" was running." Well I can hardly be blamed for that.

(throws report across the room)

Oh, who cares? Who the hell cares? What am I now, a ratings whore? I'm an artist, and a journalist, god damn it, and a damn good one! Ratings aren't the bottom line for me, I've got something to say, and people need to hear it! Is that what this business has become all about, market share, demographics, advertising revenue? Is it? Is it?

Christ I need an aspirin. I was hoping this spy story thing would take off, maybe I could get a break from covering politics all the time and make a nickel for a change. I guess it's back to covering the Congressional elections for me. Right back to the shitty end of the stick.

I could try and rebuild the readership base by posting more pictures of my cute dogs, but I'm already out of cute dogs. I'd have to get a new dog every week to keep a strategy like that going. And I'd have to put the existing dogs down, to make room. I'd have to change dogs and put at least one dog down, every week, just to get my baseline readership back up to speed. Could I face that, emotionally? Probably. I got through law school; I guess I could kill a few dogs.

No, the wife would object. It could be big, though, a lot of new people might come in every week to see which dog is going to die--"Canine Survivor", I could call it...

Nah. I'll do the politics thing again instead. I love dogs. But maybe...cats...

Saturday, September 02, 2006

International Mystery: Tokyo Takedown, Part VI--The Final Conflict

When I woke up, I found that I was—oh, fuck this. I’ve had it with this whole thing, the hell with it. I’m busting my ass writing this story and formatting photos of Japanese trannies, and for what? The checks aren’t exactly rolling in from you guys, are they? And then some knuckleheads start writing in complaining that Part IV really should have been labeled Part III, and busting my balls about whether the next part is going to be part V or Part VI. For Christ's sake, this is not a story about Roman numerals. If you think it is, you missed the goddamn point. The hell with you.

Those of you who did send in money, I’m very sorry, but it’s just not enough to justify the effort I’ve put into this thing. Anyway, the readers who didn’t send anything were enjoying a free ride at your expense; too bad, but I hoped you learned something from this. I sure did. No refunds, by the way.

Ya want to know the end of the story? I didn’t find bin Laden, okay? Ya happy? Ya want to know the end of the story, there it is, I missed him again. And the rickshaw ride alone cost me eighty five bucks, so don’t come crying to me.

And I’m not the only one who suffered, believe me. Here’s a picture of my nephew, he’s eighteen years old, he went to Japan with me, here he is passed out in some bar in Kyoto:

You try making an ‘epic’ out of that if you want, I’m through with this. But let me see if I can find some other pictures to fill out the rest of this article… Got to wrap this up, somehow… Let’s see…what can I put in for ‘pathos’?

Ah! Here’s one of my late dog. She got sick down in New Orleans, we had to put her down.

She was sixteen years old; she had a good life but she got the dog anemia, so that was that. We had to put her down, it broke my heart. I’m throwing that in for ‘pathos.’ We have her ashes in a little fiberglass monument that we keep by the fireplace. Her name was “Goethe,” she was a “good girl” and I miss her very much.

Now we don’t want to finish on a note like that; we need something ‘upbeat’… Ah! Here’s my new dog, the one who bit me you-know-where.

Now isn’t that cute? That’s what the Internet was invented for, pictures of cute dogs and distributing pornography.

‘Danger?’ Okay, I know you liked the ‘danger’ stuff in the story, that tested very well with the focus group--Here’s Roy of “Siegfried and Roy” with the white tiger that finally got him. This was taken in the good old days, when he and the tiger were still getting along. But if it’s danger you want, pretend the tiger is attacking him in the photo. Use your imaginations, come on.

And finally, here’s me in the alley again, for ‘closure.’

Well--thank you all very much, and I hope you enjoyed “Bill Prendergast in: “International Mystery: Tokyo Takedown” as much as I enjoyed bringing it to you. (If you’re a reader who has just joined us and you came in in the middle of this story and don’t understand what’s going on, scroll down this page and start reading it from the beginning, and then send a check for $14 to the Stillwater Tribune, c/o Bill Prendergast.)

I will continue my hunt for bin Laden, but in the meantime we return to the hard-hitting news coverage you’ve come to expect from--The Stillwater Tribune.