From the GREAT STATE OF MAINE...
C&J will not be seen today so that we may bring you the following Hallmark Hall of Fame special...
There are many holiday traditions from which one can take joy: the lighting of the Yule log. The lighting of the Menorah. The lighting of the Christmas tree. To those celebrations America adds one more: the annual lighting of the Bacardi-soaked breath of Cheers and Jeers creator, Bill in Portland Maine.
On this, the two-days-before-the-third anniversary of the column’s birth in the on-line manger known as DailyKos, Bill in Portland Maine conducts an exclusive interview with Koufax Award-winning artisan, replacement-window specialist (retired), hamburger flipper (fired), stock clerk (fired), brain surgeon (fired), lawyer (disbarred) and commentator (hanging by a thread) Bill in Portland Maine from the old, abandoned wing of the DailyKos diary complex.
May we have five minutes here where we're just politically incorrect and I play the cards face up on the table?
OK. No offense, and I know Kossacks. I like Kossacks. I've been to blogs. I really don't believe that liberalism is a religion of evil. I---you know, I think it's being hijacked, quite frankly. And I have to tell you, I have been nervous about this interview with you, because what I feel like saying is, "Sir, prove to me that you are not working with our enemies." And I know you're not. I'm not accusing you of being an enemy, but that's the way I feel, and I think a lot of Americans will feel that way.
Man, I am so glad I peed in your coffee before you came into the room.
[Unscheduled five-minute break]
Gee, your breath smells minty.
Asshole. Last year at this time you were considered part of the rebel alliance and a traitor. Now you have become what you hated most: the majority. How do you reconcile those two positions in your mind?
I just reach up and flip the switch in my hippocampus. We won, so now being the majority is good. Next question, loser.
Are you going to be as tough on Democrats as you are on Republicans?
Of course. See, Republicans are much more likely to march in lockstep with their party even if that means marching over a cliff. As Democrats, we understand that we’re just one phone call away from the next after-hours kegger, so our survival instinct is much more active. It’s like, " go off the cliff without us...we’ll catch up later!" And then we go find new leaders who have brains enough to build a safety fence.
What should Democrats do to stamp out corruption and pork?
Well, you’ll never stamp it out. When your office is a shining trough on a hill, you start feeling invincible and, like any 4 year-old, you start stretching the boundaries of good behavior. One of the great things about progressive blogs like DailyKos is we’re good at policing our party. The right-wing blogs, to their great shame---if they even know the meaning of the word---covered up for their party and gave them a free pass. We won’t. We have no problem throwing Democrats to the wolves if they turn out to be jerks.
What do you hope the Democratic-led Congress accomplishes?
Four things. First, pass legislation on security that actually makes us feel more secure. They can start by getting rid of that Playskool color-coded terror-alert system. We’ve been at "yellow" for nearly five years and at blue or green for zero days, so what does that tell you about Homeland Security? Second, let’s do something about health care, even if it’s just baby steps. Cuba has better health care than we do, for God’s sake. Third, let’s create conditions that allow the lower and middle class to share in the so-called prosperity that Bush keeps talking about. Fourth, distribute An Inconvenient Truth to every household in America. And then filibuster like crazy.
Um...that’s what the minority party does.
Right. So they won’t be expecting it. You’ve gotta think outside the box.
What is your solution to the civil war in Iraq?
It’s all spelled out in the new Bill in Portland Maine Study Group Report. Essentially it’s a three-pronged plan: Take away their guns, build a Hooters every five miles, and completely rebuild their infrastructure from scratch on France’s Mastercard. And if you really want to be successful, send President Bush a bag of pretzels.
If you were issuing a report card to President Bush, what would it say?
The first thing it would say is, "Listen, you little snot, don’t even think of tossing this in the dumpster because your parents need to sign it and return it before you can graduate." And then I’d give him an F. Come back, Warren Harding---all is forgiven.
Let’s talk about this blog. You have a direct impact on every diary written at DailyKos, don’t you?
Yes I do. Kossack Jotter---of the daily High Impact Diaries diaries---needed a sophisticated and reliable baseline against which all other diaries could be measured to determine their significance, or "impact." Cheers and Jeers was still being posted in the diaries back then, and it became Jotter’s standard unit of impact because, like an expensive tuning fork, C&J was pitch-perfect and 100% reliable. So the next time you write a diary, you might want to give your spelling and syntax a little more attention because you’re walking in my very large clown shoes.
You plan to mark your third anniversary here in the diary bunker. Why?
I like walking down the 290 steps to the old homestead every now and again. This is where I started. I know the secrets here and where the bodies are buried. Beyond that steel door is where the original cafeteria was before Kos filled it with servers. Over there is where we had the petting zoo until half of us passed out from lack of ventilation. Lots of Kossack pioneers pulled their hair out in this hallway and you can still see some of it: Maryscott O'Connor, Armando, Gilliard, Soto, Billmon, Trapper, Meteor. The stains on the carpet---the last remnants of the pie war massacre. And, if you listen closely, you can hear the ghosts of the past. Shhhhh... Caaaarpe...! Caaaarpe diem...! Seiiiiize the daaaay, lads...
Nice try, I can see your lips moving. What is it that makes C&J so popular even with a nebbish like you at the helm?
This week I got a couple cards in the mail that I think sum it up. One said, "I think C&J gives some of us the family we'd like to have." The other said, "You have given many people a second family---family who you can talk to about politics without losing your mind." I'd go a step further and say that C&J is just one piece of the larger DailyKos family, and that goes back to Markos. Imagine if he ran this place like the right-wing Powerline blog where they don’t allow comments, let alone diaries. Powerline sits there and festers. DailyKos lives and breathes and changes and grows because of what each of us brings to it. And then we spin that off into the real world and affect changes there. Sometimes, during some of my less sober moments, I think to myself, if I could just bring Ben Franklin back for five minutes to show him around DailyKos, I think he'd say, "Fuckin' A, man. Thou rocketh."
You’re the only front-pager on DailyKos who's gay.
Yes, but not for long.
James Dobson’s therapy sessions are taking hold. We’ve been working together on the de-homofying process, Uncle Dobbie and me. We’re playing rough and tumble games. He taught me how to catch a ball and pound wooden pegs into a board ("Harder! Harder!!"). And when we take showers I can’t help but notice he has a penis---like mine, only bigger. So another three or four years and I’ll totally be into babes. There’s one chick at The Weather Channel I know I’m gonna want to bone. Reinforce your levees, wench, ‘cause here comes Hurricane Willy!
That’s really un-PC.
Sorry, I’m still learning.
What’s your take on the Mark Foley and Ted Haggard scandals?
I’m sure they’re both sorry they got caught. But if they hadn’t, they’d still be doing what they’d been doing---thinking with the wrong head.
We interrupt this interview to bring you the Bush administration on a motorcycle.
What was the biggest C&J success story of the year?
Last March I read a letter in the Portland Press Herald from the father of a private first-class stationed in Iraq. He was pissed about the little things his son and his fellow soldiers had to pay for---like internet access for five bucks an hour---while serving their country. So I posted the letter and asked folks to contribute five bucks each. We raised over $5,000 for the 172nd Mountain Company. They were really surprised we did that so spontaneously.
Wow, that’s huge.
Yeah, it was great. For some reason they spent most of their Kossack-funded online time at the Victoria’s Secret web site. Buying stuff for their wives, I guess. They sure did their homework.
Your followers seem to be obsessed about the timing of C&J. If it’s posted too early or too late they start to go wobbly.
Yeah, what’s with that? Actually, Kos said in an email awhile back that C&J is an east-coast thing because it’s posted around 8am eastern time, which is 5am in California and the day before yesterday in Hawaii. So, no matter what I do, I get complaints: "You’re too early." "You’re too late." "I hate you, you’re going to die right after I post my Pootie Pic du Jour. Love, Phillygal." Sometimes I feel like David Brooks in a room full of empty spray-on tan bottles---scared and lonely.
But you posted an evening edition recently.
Yeah, last Friday. I had some coding problems that morning so I couldn’t post it until the evening. The west-coasters loved it. It was like a swank inside-the-beltway cocktail party with two differences: it was outside the beltway and the people who attended weren’t stuck-up assholes.
Which of your posts got the most attention internationally, do you think?
One thing I almost never do is post a cheer or jeer on the front page. But the morning terrorist leader Billy Bob al Zarqawi was killed in Iraq I felt it was a good time to break that rule. My post got a lot of attention, including a bit in the German magazine Der Spiegel. By the way, do you know what Cheers and Jeers is called in Germany?
Ausgezeichnetwienerblasenhaserfussen und Schadenbezelshchaftsnebelunger...
[3 minutes later]
...oberdammerunggeschichte. Need a towel?
Yes, thanks. Let’s talk about YearlyKos. Last year you promised you were going, and then dashed the hopes of the community by backing out. Are you going to be a dream-crusher again?
I’m not sure yet, although I must say thank you to former Supreme Allied Commander Wesley Clark for taking my place last June on such short notice. Since Chicago’s not a gambling mecca like Vegas, I’d have to say the odds are pretty good we'll be going. I’ve been meaning to go back to Winnetka anyway, where my grandparents lived, to toilet-paper Don Rumsfeld’s childhood home.
Last year you made a rather shocking revelation that you’ve never spoken with DailyKos founder, Markos Moulitsas. Surely you must have spoken with him by now, yes?
I seem to be the kingmaker’s Susan Lucci---year after year he’s out of reach. We’ve never spoken. I wonder if it’s because I call him from my 1-900 line and it comes up on his caller ID as "Crisco Titty Dungeon Master."
What do you think of the technical changes at DailyKos?
My first post after the installation of the new Ajax system was a disaster. The error message literally said, "Hey asshole, did you get hit with the dumbstick?" I found out that the system didn’t recognize 'curly' quotation marks in my links. So I’m quite bitter about it all. I think this is just more San Francisco Borg tomfoolery masquerading as progress. Last night I found an orange coaxial cable coming out of my ass.
Predictions for the coming year?
YearlyKos will attract even more high-profile progressives than last year---I wouldn’t rule out Al Gore. The Republican minority will be just as snotty and vindictive as ever because it’s part of their DNA. And the Iraqis will continue to prove that it’s more important to blow themselves up than it is to prove to the world that they don’t really need a thug dictator to keep them from blowing themselves up. Oh, and one thing we know for sure: the November, 2007 elections will be really, really boring.
What about the Democratic Congress?
They’ll do what they can. But let’s never forget that they could fix the deficit, global warming, Social Security and the health care crisis, plus capture Osama bin Laden, and still be accused by Republicans and their lapdog beltway pundits of being, y'know, Democrats. Let me put it this way: when George Will smears Jim Webb because of his grammar, you know it’s gonna get ugly.
Since it’s become a holiday tradition, can you give us an on-the-spot cheer or jeer?
Cheers to the true spirit of Christmas. All Bill O'Reilly wants in his stocking this year is world peace, saying, "Do I care if the Sunnis and Shiites kill each other in Iraq? No, I don't care! Maybe they'll all kill each other, and then we can have a decent country in Iraq!" Would you settle for a pair of Garfield socks?
Any changes to C&J in the works?
The big change is the new evening edition C&J---it'll appear the first and third Friday of the month around 5 O'clock Pacific time. And I'd like to win another Pulitzer because I sold the first one on eBay. Eight fucking dollars.
Any final words for your readers?
This was no boating accident.
For a transcript of this transcript, send $12.95 to Transcripts Unlimited, Rockville Maryland, 20847.