All you need to know about this Gannon imbroglio

Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) sent ol’ George a letter on the subject wondering exactly why a guy with no journalism experience or credentials had a White House press pass under a pseudonym despite being employed only by a GOP mouthpiece, not a news organization. Other than to pitch softball questions to Scott, that is.

Well, there’s one more bit. “Gannon” has withdrawn to private life based on a bit of investigation by the blogosphere. It appears he didn’t care for some of his domain registrations being made public we guess.

Well, isn’t this special?

The GOP’s contempt for written law is, at this point, old news. They’ve trotted out the “no judicial review” bullshit on all sorts of things, including but not limited to gay marriage bans. However, now they’re getting even scarier. Read more here.

Here’s the real fun bits:

Section 102(c) of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 … is amended to read as follows:
(c) Waiver.
(1) In general. – Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Secretary of Homeland Security shall have the authority to waive, and shall waive, all laws such Secretary, in such Secretary’s sole discretion, determines necessary to ensure expeditious construction of the barriers and roads under this section.
(2) No judicial review. – Notwithstanding any other provision of law (statutory or nonstatutory), no court shall have jurisdiction —
(A) to hear any cause or claim arising from any action undertaken, or any decision made, by the Secretary of Homeland Security pursuant to paragraph (1); or (B) to order compensatory, declaratory, injunctive, equitable, or any other relief for damage alleged to arise from any such action or decision.

Because this is what we really need: a government agency totally above the law in all respects, and with no possibility of review or restraint from either other branch of the government.

Why does Windows still suck?

It’s a good question. SFGate’s Mark Morford give it some ink:

My SO, she is not alone. This exact same scenario, with only slight variation, is happening throughout the nation, right now. Are you using a PC? You probably have spyware. The McAfee site claims a whopping 91 percent of PCs are infected. As every Windows user knows, PCs are ever waging a losing battle with a stunningly vicious array of malware and worms and viruses, all aimed at exploiting one of about ten thousand security flaws and holes in Microsoft Windows. Here, then, is my big obvious question: Why the hell do people put up with this? Why is there not some massive revolt, some huge insurrection against Microsoft? Why is there not a huge contingent of furious users stomping up to Seattle with torches and scythes and crowbars, demanding the Windows Frankenstein monster be sacrificed at the altar of decent functionality and an elegant user interface?

Excellent question. Why do most people just put up with this crap? The answer may be in a quote I heard years ago, attribution unrecalled: the greatest damage Microsoft has done to the computing industry is the degree to which they’ve lowered people’s expectations. They’re a marketing machine, not a real tech company, and it shows in both their market share and their product quality.

Happy Birthday.

This morning, Writer’s Almanac reminded me that, had he not died in 1992, today would be Richard Yates’ 79th birthday. Until recently, Yates was the great unsung voice of postwar American literature; for years, I was the only person I knew who’d read him, and I only did because he was the guest writer one semester when I was at Alabama.

Dick’s work is strong, though, and on the strength of that — and some advocacy from modern-day literary heavyweights like Michael Chabon, Richard Ford, and others — his collected stories were published to great acclaim (Salon review) and success in 2001. He’d like that, but not for reasons of filthy lucre. As he told Andre Dubus once, all he really wanted was readers. At least now he’s got some.

Here’s a few bits about Dick worth reading, even if you’ve never been exposed to his work.

Want more? Some of his books are in print again.


The WaPo has a bit on the ongoing life of — and BOC appreciation of — the More Cowbell SNL sketch (4.5mb). Reproduced to stave off link rot:

Blue Oyster Cult, Playing Along With ‘More Cowbell’ By Paul Farhi
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, January 29, 2005; Page C01
There was something missing the other night when Blue Oyster Cult, the ’70s stadium rockers, kicked into their signature song, “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper,” in a gig at the Rams Head Tavern in Annapolis. Fans of the band, and of “Saturday Night Live,” knew exactly what the song needed: More cowbell. Ever since April 2000, when “SNL” first broadcast a skit parodying “Reaper’s” recording session, the 29-year-old rock anthem has been inseparable from the humble cowbell. And perhaps from Christopher Walken’s portrayal of “legendary” record producer Bruce Dickinson, who repeatedly pleads in the skit for “more cowbell.” In fact, a kind of cult has sprung up around the Blue Oyster Cult bit and its two magic words. “More cowbell” appears on T-shirts, coffee mugs and buttons, and the spoof is still discussed and debated on Web sites across the Internet. It has become a stock witticism in clubs and bars as bands begin to play (indeed, one group in Upstate New York named itself More Cowbell). Snippets from the skit pop up regularly on the radio. When the cable entertainment channel E! named its 101 Most Unforgettable ‘SNL’ Moments last fall, “Cowbell” ranked among the top five. For those who’ve never seen it, the sketch’s hilarity probably defies a printed description (it’s best to see it for yourself at Suffice to say, Will Ferrell, who wrote the skit, plays a band member named Gene Frenkle whose specialty is the cowbell (and whose shirt fails to cover his flopping gut). Walken, ever intense, is the producer who is determined — good taste and common sense notwithstanding — to get more cowbell into the song’s recording. He urges Frenkle to “really explore the studio space” while whaling away on his cowbell — which Ferrell does, in a breathtaking bit of physical comedy. Despite the obvious irritation of the rest of the band, Walken’s Dickinson persists. “Guess what?” he says between takes. “I got a FE-ver, and the only prescription . . . is more cowbell!” Walken, an actor who has specialized in portraying the slightly unhinged, has described the six-minute sketch as career-defining. “People . . . I don’t know . . . I hear about it everywhere I go,” he told the Orlando Sentinel in October. “It’s been years, and all anybody brings up is ‘cowbell.’ I guess . . . you never know what’s gonna click.” Among the more amused viewers of the bit are the actual members of Blue Oyster Cult. “We didn’t know it was coming,” says Donald “Buck Dharma” Roeser, co-founder and lead guitarist of the group. “We all thought it was phenomenal. We’re huge Christopher Walken fans.” He adds, “I’ve probably seen it 20 times and I’m still not tired of it.” Roeser says the TV sketch accurately portrayed the look of the band in its mid-’70s heyday, but took some artistic license with a few details. For example, “SNL” player Chris Parnell, portraying the group’s lead singer, is referred to in the skit as “Eric.” That presumably would be a reference to longtime band member Eric Bloom, but it was actually Roeser, not Bloom, who was in front of the group when it made “Reaper.” And while there really is a record producer named Bruce Dickinson, he had nothing to do with the recording of the song. (Dickinson did work on some of the group’s later releases.) What’s more, the cowbell skit is presented as an episode of VH1’s “Behind the Music,” a real show that chronicles the lurid rise and fall of real-life bands. But Blue Oyster Cult never really was a “Behind the Music” kind of band. “We did our share of drugs, but we never really [expletive] up,” Roeser says. In fact, after a break in the mid-’80s and a few lineup changes, the group (featuring three of its members from the 1970s) has toured continuously, and plays about 80 to 90 dates a year. Roeser said people still ask the band about poor Gene Frenkle, whose image appears in a still frame at the end of the sketch with the words “In Memoriam. 1950-2000.” Roeser breaks into a laugh. “That’s a total fiction,” he says. “They made up that character.” Fact is, there is a cowbell on “Reaper.” If you listen closely to it on oldies radio, you can make it out in the background. But it was an afterthought. The song was recorded without it, and was added as an overdub at the last minute. According to former BOC bassist Joe Bouchard, an unnamed producer asked his brother, drummer Albert Bouchard, to play the cowbell after the fact. “Albert thought he was crazy,” Bouchard told the Asbury Park (N.J.) Press in 2000. “But he put all this tape around a cowbell and played it. It really pulled the track together.” During its show at the Rams Head on Thursday night, the five-member group dusted off its hits from three decades ago, including “R.U. Ready 2 Rock,” “Burnin’ for You” and “Godzilla.” Then, after a long guitar preamble, it snapped into its set-closer, “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper.” The familiar sweet notes swooped and soared, drawing the mostly middle-aged crowd back to its headbanging youth. Of course, it could have used . . . well, you know. © 2005 The Washington Post Company