Friday, September 30, 2005

Three Strikes and You're Ouuuuuuurrrrraaaahhhhh!!!

I don't know if this is an official caption contest, but this picture was too good. I have to share.

The Man in Black Sequins

Worst. Idea. Ever.

Just as the life of Johnny Cash is about to hit the big screen courtesy of the Hollywood biopic Walk the Line, starring Joaquin Phoenix, comes the announcement that Ring of Fire, a Broadway musical based on the country legend's classic songs, will premiere at New York's Ethel Barrymore Theatre next February.

"You Don't Sweat Much, for a Fat Chick"

Yes, the Bush administration is at it again demonstrating its inability to issue a statement without offending the African American community.

HUD chief foresees a 'whiter' Big Easy

A Bush Cabinet officer predicted this week that New Orleans likely will never again be a majority black city, and several black officials are outraged. Alphonso R. Jackson, secretary of housing and urban development, during a visit with hurricane victims in Houston, said New Orleans would not reach its pre-Katrina population of "500,000 people for a long time," and "it's not going to be as black as it was for a long time, if ever again."

It's like all their interoffice memos are MadLibs that start off with "You people...." or "Your kind..."

Friday Random Ten

There's so much to admire about Mike Crain, Karatist Preacher. Not only is Mike Crain, Karatist Preacher, the most impressive double-threat since Samuel Adams, Brewer Patriot. Not only does Mike Crain, Karatist Preacher, look like the love child of F Troop's Larry Storch and the Monkees' Mickey Dolenz. More important than all that, Mike Crain, Karatist Preacher, puts the "Holy Christ!" back into ass-kicking.

And rightly so. Remember what Jesus said in the Book of Bruce, Chapter Four: "And lo, if He does not believe in me, then I will fight him. Or, failing that, prove my righteousness by breaking boards with my bare hands." What, you think the guy was a carpenter because he loved the work? Nope. Free boards for breaking.

Anyway, the appearance of Mike Crain, Karatist Preacher, means that it's once again time for the Friday Random Ten. Fire up the iTunes, set it to random, and let loose the first ten songs that are brave enough to show themselves. And, if you're feeling saucy, Bernaise, then go ahead and give us a Coolness Self-Audit. (Check out last week's FRT for a guide to that. Or don't. See if I care.)

Alright, here are mine:

1. The Afghan Whigs, "Uptown Again" -- Off their last great album, 1965. A friend of mine saw them live in Boston a couple years before then and apparently, in a middle of a song, lead singer Greg Dulli turned and punched the bass player right in the mug. They went rolling offstage still fighting, came back a bit later, and picked up the song where they left off. Now that is rock and roll, my friends. Get this touchy-queery Maroon 5 crap out of my face. 8/10

2. David Bowie, "Queen Bitch" -- This song is cool for so many reasons. First, it's Bowie. Second, it's the closing credits song from The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. Third, I recently saw Bowie perform this with Arcade Fire as the encore for their Summerstage show in Central Park. As George Tenet would say, this is a slam dunk. 10/10

3. William DeVaughn, "Be Thankful for What You've Got" -- I'm a pretty big fan of Massive Attack, but their cover of this classic soul song is an absolute abomination. This version, the original, is so much smoother it could cause listeners to drift into a coma. There's a reason Massive Attack and Coolio both tried to cover this, but you just don't mess with perfection. 9/10

4. Cypress Hill, "The Phuncky Feel One (Instrumental)" -- I stumbled across the website of Cypress Hillian B-Real a couple weeks ago, and was stunned to find it loaded with lots and lots free mp3s. Somehow listening to this makes me want to sneak a case of Milwaukee's Best into my dorm room. 6/10

5. Curtis Mayfield, "Move On Up" -- One of my all-time favorite Mayfield tunes. While I'm happy to see it's been resurrected by Kanye West for his new tune, "Touch the Sky," the original is strong enough to stand on its own. Phenomenal horns, grinding drums, and generally the fastest nine minutes of music you'd ever hear. 9/10

6. Superchunk, "100,000 Fireflies" -- This sounds virtually nothing like the quiet and beautiful Magnetic Fields original, and yet it works incredibly well. Somehow, in Mac McCaughan's indie-rock screech, Stephin Merritt's slit-your-wrist lyrics work even better. I mean, he actually shrieks "Why do we keep shrieking, when we mean soft things? We should be whispering all the time." 9/10

7. Kid Koala, "Skanky Panky" -- I saw Kid Koala open up for the Roots about six years ago at the Roxy in Atlanta. Really impressive. This song has its moments, but it has a few too many places where the scratching gets so overwhelming you think he might be having a seizure. 7/10

8. Beck, "Jack-Ass" -- A nice slow one from Odelay. The backing samples, which were lifted from Them's "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue," are just perfect here. It's impressive that he was able to take so much from a classic and still come up with something so original. But what would you expect from a man who's in league with both "Futurama" and Scientology? 8/10

9. Bee Gees, "More Than a Woman" -- So. Much. Shame. 2/10

10. Fugazi, "Waiting Room" -- Alright, this should help right the ship. An early scorcher from the band that still represents the alpha and omega of do-it-yourself punk rock. They run their own label, they book their own shows, and they don't charge their fans a tattooed arm and leg for either. This may be my favorite tune by them. I once tried to learn the opening bass part for the band I was in for three days, and nearly died trying. The lesson? Never try. 8/10

Let's see, that gives me yet another mediocre 7.6 average. Too bad the Brothers Gibb had to saunter in at the last moment and cripple an otherwise impressive showing. Bastards. Cross me again, you satin-clad suckers, and you'll find it even easier to hit those high notes.

Alright, your turn. Drop your own Friday Random Ten in the comments below. And if you're feeling up to it, throw in a Coolness Self-Audit as well.

Come on. Do it for the children.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

The Shining Redux

In the spirit of George Lucas's incessant tinkering with the Star Wars trilogy, Hollywood has once again decided to revisit a classic film.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the feel-good comedy of the fall: Shining

Caption Contest

Yet another wounded Republican.

Have at him.

So, Did He Get the Job?

An Australian man built up so much static electricity in his clothes as he walked that he burned carpets, melted plastic and sparked a mass evacuation.

Frank Clewer, of the western Victorian city of Warrnambool, was wearing a synthetic nylon jacket and a woollen shirt when he went for a job interview.

As he walked into the building, the carpet ignited from the 40,000 volts of static electricity that had built up.


Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Bill Bennett Cares About Black People

Whenever we hear from Bill Bennett, the one-time Republican cabinet member and all-time gambling great, it's usually a tasty addition to the political discourse. He is, as we're reminded constantly by the media, one of the Really Big Thinkers of the conservative side, a man who churns out books like a slot machine churns out quarters.

Here's his latest bon mot:
I do know that it's true that if you wanted to reduce crime, you could -- if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down. That would be an impossible, ridiculous, and morally reprehensible thing to do, but your crime rate would go down. So these far-out, these far-reaching, extensive extrapolations are, I think, tricky.
Yes. Tricky indeed.

And conservatives wonder why they have a problem appealing to African Americans. It's a real puzzler.

Best Bush Spoof Ever

Yes, I know that says something. Something big.

But Andy Dick as the "Karl Rove" is awesome.

Ding Dong, DeLay is Dead!

In the latest sign that there is, in fact, a righteous God, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R- ) has just been indicted by a Texas grand jury on conspiracy charges.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Rep. Tom DeLay said Wednesday he will step aside as House majority leader following his indictment by a Texas grand jury on conspiracy charges.

DeLay attorney Steve Brittain said DeLay was accused of a criminal conspiracy along with two associates, John Colyandro, former executive director of a Texas political action committee formed by DeLay, and Jim Ellis, who heads DeLay's national political committee.


"The defendants entered into an agreement with each other or with TRMPAC (Texans for a Republican Majority Political Action Committee) to make a political contribution in violation of the Texas election code," says the four-page indictment. "The contribution was made directly to the Republican National Committee within 60 days of a general election."

The indictment against the second-ranking, and most assertive Republican leader came on the final day of the grand jury's term. It followed earlier indictments of a state political action committee founded by DeLay and three of his political associates.
As I've said before, the corruption in the Republican ranks is reaching unprecedented heights and, lucky for us, it's all happening at once. DeLay not only has this to deal with, but multiple ethics issues still swirling in the House and the toxic connection to Jack Abramoff. On the other side of the Capitol, Sen. Majority Leader Bill Frist is under fire for his recent stock dump. (And if you don't think that will be a problem, you missed the CBS Evening News last night. Frist came off like a pedophile.) Plus, in the biggest development of all, we still have Patrick FitzGerald waiting to hand down indictments in the Plame scandal. This could be a banner season for disgraced Republicans.

Quick question

President Bush on Wednesday warned there will be an upsurge in violence in Iraq before next month's voting, but said the terrorists will fail. "Our troops are ready for them," he said.
Has this administration ever predicted that the violence in Iraq might actually go down? (Since the rose petals didn't materialize, that is.)

Raffy and Brownie: Pointing Your Way to Infamy

When Mrs. T sawMike Brown waving that finger at Rep. Tom Davis and his Hopping Mad Sound Bite Subcommittee yesterday, she had a flashback to Baltimore Orioles slugger Raphael Palmeiro's "I never ever used steroids" finger-pointing moment in front of yet another Tom Davis subcommittee, the 44 Million Americans Don't Have Health Care but My Son Really Wants a McGwire Autograph Subcommittee, back in March (a few weeks later he tested positive for roids). I realized that these two guys, Brownie and Palmeiro, actually have more in common than pointing their fingers at congressmyn.

For instance, Brownie almost certainly lied during his testimony yesterday, and Palmeiro is presently being investigated for lying to congress. Brownie got early, strong praise from Bush (hell of a job, Brownie), and so did Palmeiro (he's a friend . . . I believe him). And that ain't it. Just as Brownie tried to blame the failed federal response to Katrina on everyone but himself, Palmeiro tried to blame his roid usage on teammate Miguel Tejada, who had given him a vitamin B-12 shot (Miggy was subsequently investigated and exonerated).

I could go on, but I need to go blame our secretary for the lousy job I did on a recent assignment. I have but one question. We know one of these two guys will get the medal of honor. Which one would you give it to?

With God on Our Side

From the London Times:
RELIGIOUS belief can cause damage to a society, contributing towards high murder rates, abortion, sexual promiscuity and suicide, according to research published today.

According to the study, belief in and worship of God are not only unnecessary for a healthy society but may actually contribute to social problems.

The study counters the view of believers that religion is necessary to provide the moral and ethical foundations of a healthy society.

It compares the social peformance of relatively secular countries, such as Britain, with the US, where the majority believes in a creator rather than the theory of evolution. Many conservative evangelicals in the US consider Darwinism to be a social evil, believing that it inspires atheism and amorality.

Many liberal Christians and believers of other faiths hold that religious belief is socially beneficial, believing that it helps to lower rates of violent crime, murder, suicide, sexual promiscuity and abortion. The benefits of religious belief to a society have been described as its “spiritual capital”. But the study claims that the devotion of many in the US may actually contribute to its ills.

The paper, published in the Journal of Religion and Society, a US academic journal, reports: “Many Americans agree that their churchgoing nation is an exceptional, God-blessed, shining city on the hill that stands as an impressive example for an increasingly sceptical world.

“In general, higher rates of belief in and worship of a creator correlate with higher rates of homicide, juvenile and early adult mortality, STD infection rates, teen pregnancy and abortion in the prosperous democracies.

“The United States is almost always the most dysfunctional of the developing democracies, sometimes spectacularly so.”
Maybe if we had more of the kind of Christians who actually listened to Christ's crystal-clear message of peace, brotherhood and understanding instead of ones who spent all their time on the list of 6th-century BC "abominations" in the Book of Deuteronomy -- like, oh, this and this and of course this -- then we'd see the true benefits of religion. But as long as "Christianity" is interpreted as "God loves guns and hates your peepee," I doubt we'll see the benefits anytime soon.

As Woody Allen once said, if Jesus returned to earth today and saw all that's going on in His name, He'd never stop throwing up.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Extreme White House Makeover

As we've noted before, this administration is long past satire. In case you need fresh proof, check out this headline which, despite appearances, is not straight from The Onion: Laura Bush to appear on "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition"
WASHINGTON — Facing criticism that he appeared disengaged from the disaster wrought by Hurricane Katrina, President Bush has been looking for opportunities to show his concern. But the White House will take the effort a step further Tuesday, venturing into untested waters by putting the nation's first lady on reality television.

Laura Bush will travel to storm-damaged Biloxi, Miss., to film a spot on the feel-good, wish-granting hit "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition." Mrs. Bush sought to be on the program because she shares the "same principles" that the producers hold, her press secretary said.

In its standard format, the popular ABC series finds hard-pressed but deserving families, sends them away for short vacations and then, in a whirlwind of carpentry and appliance-shopping, gives them new homes. This time, though, the show will broadcast from an underserved shelter near Biloxi, where a convoy of trucks stocked with everything from mattresses to pants will arrive, courtesy of Sears, one of the show's sponsors.

It's not clear exactly what Mrs. Bush will do, but Tom Forman, executive producer and creator, said he is hoping that she'll just pitch in and help unload.

"I think we say, 'Mrs. Bush, the stuff is over here, the people are over there, could you grab the other end of that mattress?' " Forman said.
Wow. Suddenly, this photo makes a lot of sense.

I suppose this is meant as the domestic counterpart to Bush's "Mission Accomplished" photo op on the aircraft carrier. Only this time, the banner will be a quote of that old George H. W. Bush chestnut, "Message: I Care."

I hope this becomes a new trend for the administration. I'd love to see Dick Cheney make an appearance on Fear Factor, though I suppose they'd have some real trouble finding something that the Dark Lord of the Sith was actually scared of. Still, it'd be fun to watch him eat a puppy.

Or maybe Bush and Cheney can reprise their legendary roles as Gilligan and the Skipper for The Real Gilligan's Island. Pops and Bar Bush can play the ditzy Howells, although they'd have to really slum it to pretend to be mere millionaires. Rumsfeld is perfect for the Professor, except his innocent coconut-powered radio would somehow kill thousands. Condi, with her incredible fashion sense, would be perfect as Ginger, while Laura makes an obvious Mary Jane. (Heck, they could even give Saddam Hussein a guest spot as the Japanese soldier who still thinks World War II is raging.) And every week, we'd get to watch Georgigan ruin the administration's efforts to get off the island. Perfect.

(Thanks to Digby for the tip.)

50 Ways To Lose A State

Slip out the back, Jack;
Make a new plan, Stan;
Blame the locals and call them dysfunctional, Mike.

So, while the National Guard is fixing the levees in New Orleans, Mike "The I Didn't Do It Guy" Brown was digging a bigger PR hole for the Bush administration to climb out of.

"My biggest mistake was not recognizing by Saturday that Louisiana was
dysfunctional," two days before the storm hit, Brown told the panel.

The Dems should be able to push that line until Kingdom Come. Picture election 2008 - “The Nation's true party of the people, even those dysfunctional types in Louisiana.” Remember, only family can criticize family - Mr. Brown, you ain't kin

Welcome to the Leftorium

Once again, we've been tinkering with the blog template and everything here at LLatPoN is slanted to the left more than usual.

There's no need to adjust your computer screen. We control the vertical. And we're trying to control the horizontal, too. Bear with us.

C+C Music Factory

Studiodave, are you in Vegas?
Chelsea Clinton spent most of her time cuddling and dancing with a large, sweaty man who seemed an unlikely candidate for an invitation to Chappaqua. The same chap was later seen squiring Paris Hilton around the dance floor.
UPDATE: Okay, I guess it's only funny if you've seen Studio sweat through a tuxedo.

Jesus with a Meth Chaser

In March of this year, Ashley Smith was praised as a hero for convincing
murder and cop killer (alleged) to turn himself peacefully into police
custody. As Fox News reported:

The only thing that helped Ashley Smith get through an over-seven-hour ordeal where quadruple murder suspect Brian Nichols held her hostage was her faith in God, Smith told FOX News on Monday. "I believe that's the only person that helped me through that," she said in an interview with "FOX & Friends."

As Lee Corso says, "not so fast my friends." It turns out that Jesus coupled with a shot of Meth helps.

Reported in this morning's AJC:

Nichols asked her for marijuana, she writes, but she had only a small amount of crystal methamphetamine. She thought offering him the drug might curry favor, but she says she refused to take the drug with him."I was not going to die tonight and stand before God, having done a bunch of ice up my nose," she writes.

Now, I'm not posting this to complain about this woman ethics or personal life. I post because the popular (a.k.a the too liberal media) wanted to make this story about Jesus coming down from the heavens on sunbeams turning the cold heart of a killer to love. Reality is hard and not always pretty, but it doesn't mean she is any less of a hero.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Chokin' on My Own Rage Here

For all of you who were worried about where disgraced former FEMA Head Michael Brown would find work in the aftermath of his staggering incompetence, worry no more. Brown has just been hired as a consultant. For FEMA. To investigate what went wrong with FEMA's response to Katrina.

We'll pause for a second so you can ask if they are, in fact, fucking kidding.

Done? Great.

You know, I'm really starting to think that the administration's staggering incompetence is a result of the fact that Bush only knows a handful of people. Need somebody to review FEMA's mistakes? Call Brownie. Sure, he fucked things up pretty royally when he was there, but I think he's free these days. Need someone to oversee the disaster relief for the Gulf Coast? Um, let's see... How about Karl Rove? Sure, he's a political crony with no experience in that sort of thing, but that's never stopped us before! Need someone to improve diplomatic relations with the Middle East? Let's send Karen Hughes. Sure, she has zero experience with the region, and it's probably a bad idea to send Ms. Man Hands to an area not known for its love of strong, aggressive women, but Karl and Brownie are busy. I mean, who else could we send?

Meanwhile, President Bubble Boy -- last seen here -- is once again busy staffing other important jobs with friends and family members. Who should be appointed head of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for the Department of Homeland Security? How about Julie Myers? Sure, she has zero experience in this sort of thing, but she's the niece of JCS Chairman Richard Myers and the new bride of DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff's Chief of Staff. She's probably picked up a rough working knowledge at the dinner table. She's got to be as qualified as Janet Rehnquist, Eugene Scalia or Michael Powell, right? Or Liz Cheney and her husband? Or the various brothers of Scott McClellan, Mitch Daniels, and Ken Mehlman?

I wonder where George W. Bush got the idea that someone could and should be entrusted with a top-level government position simply because their family members had already done so. Weird.

All Hail Google

As Google continues their march from cute start-up to internet powerhouse to the Borg, we can enjoy the fruits of their labor along the way.

Here is the new Chris Rock show, commercial free, legal - on Google Video

Caption Contest II: Electric Boogaloo

Like I said, I'm trying not to overdo the caption contest, but the Photo-Opper in Chief just keeps giving and giving. Have at it.

UPDATE: Yes, of course, it's probably photo-shopped. But I'm going to use the same standard of proof the administration has used towards WMDs in Iraq. All appearances to the contrary, there's a possibility it's true, and if so, why do you hate America?

It's the Corruption, Stupid

So we've got cronyism rampant in the White House, a widening ethics scandal spreading from Jack Abramoff to a number of key Republicans, and now Bill Frist's clearance sale of his stocks. There are so many ethics and corruption scandals cropping up in Republican circles that even the media is starting to notice:
Two federal inquiries into Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's stock sales have handed Democrats a chance to broaden their long-stated claim that Republicans push ethical boundaries and focus on laws that help the rich, political analysts said yesterday.

Until now, such accusations have centered on the House and White House. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (Tex.) has been chastised three times by the chamber's ethics committee, and a Texas grand jury recently indicted a political action committee he had organized. The Bush administration's top federal procurement official, David H. Safavian, was arrested last week on charges of obstructing a criminal investigation into lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who has close ties to DeLay and other prominent GOP lawmakers.

Now, with the revelation that federal prosecutors and the Securities and Exchange Commission are looking into Frist's sale of hospital stock shortly before its value fell, Democrats are expanding their ethics accusations into the Senate's GOP leadership ranks.

Activists in both parties agree it is much too early to say whether Frist (R-Tenn.) engaged in insider trading, a charge that could cripple his 2008 presidential hopes. But the mere launch of inquiries by the SEC and the Justice Department allows Democrats to claim that both House and Senate majority leaders operate under ethical clouds.

"It is a drip, drip, drip," said former House majority leader Tony Coelho (D-Calif.), who knows the corrosive power of ethics charges. Coelho, who resigned in 1989 following accusations about a loan deal, said, "With DeLay and now Frist, it's a buildup of arrogance of power. . . . With [President] Bush's numbers down, this could be a very negative thing for the Republicans."
If the Democrats don't pound the corruption issue every single day of the 2006 campaign, then it's official that they're being led by retarded eunuchs. The GOP turned a bogus check-bouncing scandal in the House into a cause for throwing the bums out back in '92 and '94, but now we're talking about much bigger problems for much bigger politicians. I mean, when's the last time the Senate Majority Leader and the House Majority Leader were both involved in ethics scandals at the same time? Much less at the same time the president of the same party was sinking faster than Rosemary Clooney in the Poseidon Adventure?

And please don't tell me that voters won't care about Frist's actions. He did exactly what Martha Stewart did, and what's good for the tarragon-infused, soy-glazed goose is certainly good for the gander.

UPDATE: The LA Times has a nice piece on Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a watchdog group that has just unveiled its list of the 13 most corrupt politicians in Washington. Tellingly, 11 of the 13 are Republicans.

Frickin' Toxic Darts

It may be the oddest tale to emerge from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Armed dolphins, trained by the US military to shoot terrorists and pinpoint spies underwater, may be missing in the Gulf of Mexico.

Experts who have studied the US navy's cetacean training exercises claim the 36 mammals could be carrying 'toxic dart' guns. Divers and surfers risk attack, they claim, from a species considered to be among the planet's smartest. The US navy admits it has been training dolphins for military purposes, but has refused to confirm that any are missing.


I Heart Huckabee

...although it seems he might not return the favor.

At a recent appearance in Polk County, Iowa -- a nice place to start planting seeds for a presidential bid -- Governor Mike Huckabee (R-Slim Fast™) recounted a story about a trip he and his daughter made to Yad Vashem, the Jewish people's memorial to those lost in the Holocaust. As they toured the site, Huckabee wondered if his daughter would get the message:

"Would she understand why it is so important that people, like us, have to get involved in our own government... why we can't just sit back and allow people to take our country from us?"

I watched my daughter as she took that pen [to sign the guest book] .... I'll never forget it as long as I live... these are the simple words she wrote:

"Why didn't somebody do something?"

"And I thought, you know, what a shame if someday some father took a daughter through a memorial dedicated to the memory of America... and a father would have to watch his daughter write these words about our country:

"Why didn't somebody do something."

Well Ladies and Gentlemen, the reason you need to work hard in Polk County next year, the reason that it is important that you sign up to help candidates get elected who believe like you because you're the somebodys and you gotta do the something, because if you don't and I don't, who will? And if we don't do it now, when will it get done?

Somebody has got to do something.
Aside from the fact that this may be the emptiest political slogan since Homer Simpson's "Can't Somebody Else Do It?", you have to admire the sheer testicular fortitude that Huckabee has here in equating voting for Republicans with standing up to Nazi genocide. Because, as we all know, Ted Kennedy is every bit as evil as Heinrich Himmler. And fatter, too!

If this is the way the Huckster is beginning his run for national office, I can't wait until the primaries force him to ratchet up the rhetoric. What's next? A warning that Democrats and their ally Herod will kill your first-born?

(Thanks to Musement Park for the tip.)

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Caption Contest

I'm trying hard not to go to this well too many times, but President Photo Op just keeps delivering the goods. Have at it.

Church Chat

I have been considering a dedicated Judeo / Christian post for some time. I think I can speak for the majority of the editors at LLPON when I say we are fairly spiritual people. I would like to have this church chat just be a posting of a Bible quote. Simply a reminder that as much as the right claims to have a monopoly on values and faith - generally, when you are pointing a finger, you are really pointing the finger back at your own insecurities.

And so to kick it off... Matthew 5:38-40. And Jesus said:

You have heard that it is said, 'Eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.' But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn him to the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him take your cloak as well.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Et Tu Novak?

Here's a test. Line up the thing conservatives hate with reality.

1) Change _______________(A) Wildly fluctuating gas prices & supply
2) Fast change, ___________(B) Massive Budget Defect
3) Fast change with business, _(C) Iraq
4) Fast change to business ___(D) Raising interest rates
__ & losing money


Good news, there are no wrong answers to this test. Apparently, even the GOP establishment is finally admitting this as well.

Enjoy Mr. Novak's observations....

Crazy Pills - Sonny's Gas Solution

Governor Requests School Closings (

Governor Sonny Perdue has announced that he has requested that all the state's school systems take an "early snow day" and close on Monday and Tuesday of next week in a fuel saving measure as a result of Hurricane Rita.

Umm... Will 2 days really save much fuel assuming more plants are damaged in the gulf? This decision raises more concerns than it calms....

Everything's coming up sodomy!

The times, they are a-changin. By that of course I mean that by the age of 24 one in three women has had anal sex. Forty percent of males have had anal sex by the age of 40 (and that's anal sex with a female, not the additional 3.7 percent who've had it with a male). I'm not making up these statistics. The federal government says so (PDF). I'm sure we're all aware that the recently-publicized increase of oral sex is due purely to Bill Clinton, but who should we blame this rampant spate of booty piracy? (My vote: Sen. Rick "Man on Dog" Santorum.)

You really have to stand in awe of a culture who are so terrified of two people of the same sex engaging in sodomy, while opposite sex sodomy is no big deal. (Can we call behavior engaged by more than a third of the population "uncommon" or "atypical?") A higher percentage of Americans have had heterosexual anal sex than smoke cigarettes, for example.

At its root, I'm convinced that this is what homophobia is all about. People who are scared of gay people are not frightened of God's wrath. They're not frightened "for the sake of the children." They aren't afraid for the "foundational principles" of marriage. They're simply frightened by the very idea that someone on this planet might occasionally enjoy being sodomized by someone of the same sex. People are strange.

I cannot leave before giving a reference to this public service announcement.

Can't win for losing

The Catholic Church seems hellbent on destroying the most beautiful things about itself while promoting the ugliest. I'm starting to wonder if the Catholic hierarchy truly understands why the chastity rule exists. Priests are not celibate because sex is evil; they are celibate so that they can be completely devoted to their family (i.e. their parish). When someone has a family (and in the Church marriage is a precursor to sex which is a precursor to family), that becomes their #1 priority. Most people sacrifice much for their nuclear family, slowing down their careers and making less money than they would unencumbered by responsibilites. The priesthood is not designed to be a job, but a calling. You give up everything -- including the prospect of a spouse (see Jesus in The Last Temptation of Christ) -- in order to guide a group of strangers in their quest to get closer to God. This is an all-consuming, incredibly noble goal; one that I could never dream of attaining. It is all the more noble when you realize that priests are human beings, and human beings are constantly tempted to do all kinds of crazy things (just like Jesus was). You see, it is completely normal to be tempted by all of those deadly sins. The strength lies in being able to overcome them. It seems that the Catholic Church -- a beacon for social justice -- needs some guidance right about now. It matters not whether a priest wants to engage in hot man-on-man sex or a Hawaiian muscle fuck. The trick is to remain emotionally unencumbered so that your flock can rely on you through all the births, deaths, and spiritual crises that come every minute of every day. Amen.

Friday Random Ten

That's right. The Best of the Singing Postman. You no longer have to carry around all his albums, that crateload of bootleg tapes, and the lock of his hair you got from sleeping with that roadie at Tiger Stadium. No, at long last, they've searched through everything and come up with his best work. Thank God.

Alright, you know what this means -- time for the Friday Random Ten. Get out whatever thingamajig you use to play those new-fangled electronic songs, set it on random, and give us the first ten songs that come forth from the spirit world. And, as always, if you're ready to run with the big kids, give us a Coolness Self-Audit as well.

Last week, someone finally thought to ask for an explanation of the Coolness Self-Audit. First of all, remember that it's an optional addition to the FRT, sort of like power windows and curly fries. But if you decide to go with it, here's a handy rule of thumb:
0: painfully uncool
1-4: bad enough to change the station
5-6: classic tune, but one everyone knows
7-8: rarer, a little off the beaten track
9-10: so cool it would impress a snotty record-store clerk
Got it? Alright, here's mine:

1. Overlord, "Love Goes Home to Paris in the Spring" -- Found this recently on a website devoted to Magnetic Fields covers. While I'm a fan of both the Magnetic Fields and cover songs in general, this doesn't seem to have much spirit. Eh. 6/10

2. Mudhoney, "Good Enough" -- A surprisingly accessible song off an otherwise mediocre album, Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge. Still, it's strummeriffic! 8/10

3. The Frogs, "I've Got Drugs (Out of the Mist)" -- How do you explain the Frogs? Well, it's sort of like the Gimp and Zed from Pulp Fiction drank a cask of absinthe and formed a band. Other song titles include "Hot Cock Annie," a tune that sounds like it could be subtitled "Love Theme from 'The Aristocrats.'" Back when I tended bar, we used to play this album when we were closing up and trying to get rid of the frat boys. Worked every time. 10/10

4. Radiohead, "Wish You Were Here" -- Hmm, another cover. Maybe I have a problem. From the B-Sides compilation, a surprisingly faithful rendition of the Pink Floyd classic. 6/10

5. Dinah Washington with Cootie Williams' Orchestra, "Long John Blues" -- One of the sweetest, dirtiest jazz songs ever recorded. Supposedly about a trip to the dentist, but not quite. "He took out his trusty drill / And he told me to open wide / He said he wouldn't hurt me / But he'd fill my hole inside / Long John, Long John, you've got that golden touch / You thrill me when you drill me, and I need you very much." Every time I hear this song, I need a cold shower. And a fluoride rinse. 10/10

6. Throwing Muses, "Not Too Soon" -- Throwing Muses were a powerhouse of righteous, estrogen-fueled, indie rock back in the early 1990s, before Tanya Donnelly and Kristin Hersch went their separate ways. This is them at their peak. 8/10

7. Dr. John, "Mama Roux" -- A classic bit of creepin' New Orleans soul. While some say that the fact that Dr. John is not, in fact, a real doctor somehow diminishes the healing powers of his music, I strongly disagree. Look at the man. That beret screams "trust me." 7/10

8. King Tee and Ice Cube, "Get Your Girl in the Mood Quicker" -- Another song I discovered trolling the internets for free music. This is from a collection of classic commercials for St. Ides Malt Liquor, and it just so happens to be my favorite. "Get your girlie in the mood quicker / Get your jimmy thicker / with St. Ide's Malt Liquor." Damn, that boy's a Shakespeare! 10/10

9. RX, "Sunday Bloody Sunday" -- Wow, a third cover. I do have a problem. But this cover is unique: the vocals are completely culled from the speeches of George W. Bush, set to an electronica background. Sounds bizarre, I know, but it actually works quite well. Especially when they replace Bono's "Let's go!" with Bush's "Let's roll!" 8/10

10. Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet, "13" -- These surf-guitar geniuses will forever be associated with the theme to "The Kids in the Hall," but there are certainly worse things in life than that. Still, this is fairly predictable stuff. Sounds like something Franky and Annette would listen to while they did the watusi. Or danced. 6/10

Well, that's a 7.9, continuing my slow and steady improvement over the past few weeks. Either I'm getting cooler, or we're experiencing the soft bigotry of low expectations.

Alright, let's see what you've got. Drop your own FRT in the comments, with or without the Coolness Self-Audit.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Another Reason Why Atlanta Braves Fans Suck

Okay, I've just about reached my limit on staring at that giant hurripenis, so let me toss out a little sports invective to bump it down the page. Mrs. Thrillhous alerted me to this important article which demonstrates, for the one billionth time, that the Atlanta Braves have the worst fans ever.

Even as the Atlanta Braves close in on their 14th consecutive division title, their fans have already cinched up the top spot in another competition — worst public restroom hygiene in the nation.

The results of an annual survey released by the American Society of Microbiology on Wednesday reported that the hygiene at Atlanta's Turner Field was the worst of any venue in the 6,300 public restrooms monitored last month.

Maybe the city's motto should be changed to "The City Too Busy to Wash Up".

Caption Contest II: The Sequel

Sorry for doubling down on the caption contests, but this image from Crooks & Liars was just too good not to post. Have at it. (Figuratively speaking.)

Caption Contest

This image is getting captioned to death across the liberal blogosphere, but we all know Studiodave has a secret obsession with All Things Condi.

So have at it, and give us your best shot or shots in the comments below.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

What's Worse?

Having so much smoke come out from the hood of your car that you think Tommy Chong's hiding inside? Or having to listen to an endless loop of Wham's "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" while on hold with the mechanic?

Revenge of the Doughy Pantload

I'm happy to announce that professional douchebag Jonah Goldberg has a new column out about Hurricane Rita. As usual, Jonah's writing displays all the wit and compassion of the ingredients label of a Metamucil bottle. Once again, the leading proponent of South Park Conservatives, a.k.a. "morons," tries to use a little tongue-in-cheek humor to make his point, but ends up with a foot in his mouth.
The press was blindsided again. As Hurricane Rita barreled toward Key West, television news executives were unprepared to deal with the lamentable divide this storm would undoubtedly reveal between gay America and straight America.

You'd think the media would have learned their lesson. After Katrina, the press corps waited a full two days after the storm hit before it was able to report that one of America's poorest and blackest cities was full of poor and black people. Surely, this time around the Fourth Estate would hit the ground running with up-to-the-minute exposes on the "Other" Other America and trenchant-yet-lachrymose essays on What This Says About America, that one of America's zestiest gay resorts was left to twist in the wind.

The questions raised by unlovely Rita are as painful as they are obvious. Will gays stay behind in disproportionate numbers in this disproportionately gay city? If so, Why? If gay marriage were legalized, could some of this disaster be avoided? Would George W. Bush have responded more quickly if the victims were just a tad less stylish? And, of course: Will the federal government help keep Key West festive?

Why weren't reporters standing at the ready to caterwaul about the wreckage at their feet? Cher albums and the collected writings of James Wolcott strewn about like beer cans and pizza boxes in an apartment yet to be transformed by the cast of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.
It's almost like he's trying to sound mentally retarded. Sorry, Jonah. That'll get you an Emmy or an Oscar, but it won't win you the Pulitzer.

I do appreciate the snarkiness coming out of the right wing over the government's craptacular hurricane response. They're revealing their sense of entitlement and worldview of class privilege more than anything we on the left could ever say. Poor Jonah must still wonder why all those people stranded in New Orleans didn't just take some of their trust fund money, hop in their SUVs, and drive off to the cushy job that Mommy got them.

Inflate This!

Mrs. Thrillhous sent me an article this morning from CNN with the following intro:

Princeton wants to cut the number of undergraduates who receive "A-plus," "A" or "A-minus" grades to 35 percent. It got about halfway there last year, when 41 percent of grades were in the "A" range, said the study by the Faculty Committee on Grading.

First thoughts: They're telling teachers what percentage of "A's" they can give out? Isn't that kind of arbitrary? You'd think that a perfesser, especially one at the Ivy league schools, would be able to do his or her own grading.

Second thoughts: Wait a minute, am I showing sympathy for whiny ivy leaguers? Screw that! Somebody sing "Fair Harvard" so I can chuck my name plate at their head.

Third thought: They give out "A-plusses"?

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

The Onion

Normally, the titles are the best part of an Onion article, but this one just gets better and better as it goes on.

Let He With a Free Hand Cast the First Stone

Beseiged by hurricanes, terrorists, deficits and an ongoing disaster in Iraq, what is the Bush administration focusing on? Porn.
The FBI is joining the Bush administration's War on Porn. And it's looking for a few good agents.

Early last month, the bureau's Washington Field Office began recruiting for a new anti-obscenity squad. Attached to the job posting was a July 29 Electronic Communication from FBI headquarters to all 56 field offices, describing the initiative as "one of the top priorities" of Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and, by extension, of "the Director." That would be FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III.

The new squad will divert eight agents, a supervisor and assorted support staff to gather evidence against "manufacturers and purveyors" of pornography -- not the kind exploiting children, but the kind that depicts, and is marketed to, consenting adults.

"I guess this means we've won the war on terror," said one exasperated FBI agent, speaking on the condition of anonymity because poking fun at headquarters is not regarded as career-enhancing. "We must not need any more resources for espionage."
Sweet Jeebus. I thought this sort of stupidity went away when we got rid of boobie-hiding, porno-hating John Ashcroft as Scourgeon General. But it looks like Alberto Gonzales is going to continue the War on Onanism.

Awesome. I can't wait to see the perp walks for this little exercise in law enforcement. Actually, I can't wait to hear the rationale. Exactly what law is being broken here? And, no, a verse from the Book of Hebrews doesn't count. Something in the U.S. Criminal Code, I mean.

Hey, remember when conservatives wanted the government out of your lives?

Caption Contest

So much to say.... so little time....

Drop your caption ideas in the comments.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Are You There Gob? It's Me, Margaret...

I may not know you. But I can tell with one simple question if I like you - Do you like Fox's "Arrested Development"?

A "no" answer conveys any of the following attributes: (a) NO sense of humor, (b) takes life far too seriously, (c) holds some kind of institution (government, education, marriage, military) beyond judgment, and (d) thinks the American dream is the only path to happiness and heaven.

A "yes"? Welcome my friend. You understand that people who like money more than family look silly. That appearances (large house in a new housing development) can be misleading. You recognize that most families are not comprised of a single black sheep, but that black is the majority and the lily white ones are the freaks. You have been proud about something and fallen on your face - with no triumphal rise to victory as the credits roll.

You are the geeky kid whose parents dressed you longer than they should. You are the lazy schoolgirl who would rather lie than do a book report. You are the pothead whose asshole brother always takes advantage of your trust and kindness. You are the magician whose dream to be on the cover of "Poof - the Leading Illusionists Weekly" will always be smoke and mirrors.

So, dear friend, tonight at 8pm EST/7pm CST - sit back and enjoy the fact that this show can only survive for so long against shows like "CSI - Chattanooga". We may not understand the average American, but this show can help us mock them.

Family Values

More and more, the Bush dynasty is starting to resemble, well, Dynasty.

The latest story, as I'm sure you've heard by now, is that John Ellis Bush, Jr. -- a.k.a. Son of Jeb! -- was arrested for public intoxication and resisting arrest. This isn't the first time. When he was sixteen, he was caught joining the Yard High Club by some security guards in a mall parking lot.

Of course, Jebby's not the only member of his family with a checkered past. When he was in college, brother George P. broke into a girlfriend's house, threatened her father, and then tore his Ford Explorer across the lawn. (If this were an '80s teen movie, George P. surely would've been played by James Spader.) Sister Noelle was arrested for possession of cocaine and forging a prescription. Mother Columba, meanwhile, tried to smuggle in nearly 20K worth of clothes and jewelry. Nice to see a nuclear family committed to covering every crime of Scarface. I'll look forward to seeing Jeb! waving the grenade launcher at the top of the balcony.

And lest you think that all the bad Bush genes have wound up with Jeb!'s clan in America's Wang Florida, the other Bush kids have been just as troubled. Big brother George had more than his share of problems. (Remember, you can't spell DWI without W!) His wife Laura has her own past of dangerous driving, while the daughters clearly have the drinking covered. Brother Neil first screwed over the country with the S&L scandal, and then screwed over some Asian prostitutes as well. Other brother Marvin has a somewhat cleaner record -- and, presumably, a cleaner bill of health than V.D. Neil. Still, the rumors are out there, big and small.

But let's not simply blame the kids. They're just dealing with the genetic mess they inherited. Their mother Barbara was never the warmest person on the planet, and now it seems clear that she's suffering from Geriatric Profanity Disorder. Dad G.H.W. seems the stablest of the bunch, but he's got skeletons in his closet too. Nothing compared to what Grandpa Prescott pulled off, but still, impressive stuff.

With this kind of sordid background, you can understand why Jeb and Dubya's kids are now a perfect five-for-five with criminal records. While I think it's important to understand the roots of the problem, I think we should certainly respect Jeb's request that the family be given time to deal with this latest crisis in private. After all, it's not like the public has a role in painful family crises like these.

UPDATE: Upon further review, I'm not so sure the Dynasty comparison is a good one. Sure, they were crooked on that show, but the women were attractive. As opposed to, say, this look.

Now I'm thinking a better analogy would be the Godfather saga. If we ignore Marvin, like most people have, you've got three brothers who perfectly fit the mold. The oldest son -- Sonny/Dubya -- is a not-so-bright guy who acts macho and tends to rush into action without thinking. Then there's the black sheep -- Fredo/Neil -- who gets into embarrassing situations with financial scandals and prostitutes and, thus, tends to be kept in a corner. Finally, there's the golden child -- Michael/Jeb! -- who's been groomed for politics from the womb. And helping them all out is their powerful father and his consigliere -- Tom Hayden/James Baker.

Sure, there are some key differences between the Bushes and the Corleones. First of all, in the Bush version of events, the Godfather is actually married to Clemenza, the ruthless mafia schemer with a face like a brick wall. His first name is Barbara. Second, Sonny isn't gunned down at a toll booth. He manages to survive with the help of friends of his father and becomes head of the family. And third, in the Bush version, they don't kill the guy's racehorse. They make him the head of FEMA.


Dependable Renegade.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Name and Number

Somehow, this story about baby names made it to the front page of this morning's New York Times:
In the last several years, New York City has had more baby girls named Fatoumata than Lisa, more Aaliyahs than Melissas, more Chayas than Christinas. There have been more baby boys named Moshe than Peter, more Miguels than Jeffreys, more Ahmeds than Stanleys.

Yesterday, the city's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene released the name breakdown for the 124,099 babies born in New York City in 2004. That, together with data stretching back to 1920, shows that in a city that is fashion-conscious and full of immigrants, some foreign-sounding names have become arguably more New York than American classics like Carol, Susan, Stephen and Harry.
Recognizing the familiar, hey-the-furriners-are-takin'-over! storyline, I then looked up to see what all-American name the author had.

The answer? Jennifer 8. Lee. No, that's not a typo. Her middle name is "8."

Right. Keep lamenting the loss of "classic" American names, Seven of Nine.

Great Moments in Conservative Mathematizing

The candidates for gubernor in this year's Virginia election (yeah, we like to be diff'rent from the rest of the country) had a kinda sorta debate this week: instead of, you know, debating each other, each of the three candidates took questions from reporters for an hour. Here's GOP candidate Jerry Kilgore trying to show why he'd be the bestest governor ever:

In his opening statement, Kilgore veered to the subject of illegal immigration and Herndon's recent vote to spend $170,000 through a county grant to fund a site for day laborers.

"The government shouldn't subsidize the behavior of those illegally in this country," he said. "Fairfax could have hired 10 more teachers."

Yeah, that's right, Killy. We pay our teachers $17,000 a year. And we pay our cops with pieces of bread covered with mayonaise.

By the way, if you're interested in the VA governor's race, Ed Kilgore (who swears there's no relation) gives a good rundown here.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Friday Random Ten

Hey, you know the the old saying: It's Laverne Tripp's world and we're just livin' in it. This is an impressive album cover, especially when you consider the lengths they had to go to in order to create this stunning image. Where on earth could they find an overhead projector? Would the local junior high let them in? How would they explain the fact that "Laverne" looks like a middle-aged man? Well, the power of Laverne Tripp opens plenty of doors, my friend. Plenty.

Alright, time for the Friday Random Ten. Take out your iPod, your iPod Mini, your iPod Nano, your iPod Fetus, or whatever you have; set it to random; and give us the first ten songs that are brave enough to show their faces. And in case you feel compelled by the power of Christ, go ahead and give unto us a Coolness Self-Audit.

Here's mine for this week:

1. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, "Upon This Tidal Wave of Young Blood" -- With a title like that, you'd think the song wouldn't sound like a combination of the peppiest moments of Stephen Merritt's music and David Byrne's vocals, but there it is. This song is infectious as hell. 9/10

2. Louis Jordan, "What's the Use of Getting Sober (When You're Gonna Get Drunk Again)" -- I first heard this song back in high school, as the Joe Jackson cover (I know, I know) and then only heard the original master version a couple years later. Nice to see that some bits of wisdom have been handed down from generation to generation unscathed. Much like the central narrative in the Road Warrior movies. 7/10

3. Stevie Wonder, "For Once in My Life" -- I'm a pretty big fan of Stevie Wonder's pre-neutering years, but this song is made all the cooler by the fact that it played a role in the Redemption of Ari Gold on HBO's "Entourage." Hug it out, bitch! 8/10

4. Boards of Canada, "Roygbiv" -- Not only does this song have a nice, funky groove, but its title serves as a mnemonic for the colors of the rainbow. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Mr. Lucky Charms. 6/10

5. The Rolling Stones, "Stray Cat Blues" -- There's a very thin slice of the Rolling Stones' eighty-seven-year history that I really like, and the Beggars Banquet LP is smack in the middle of that. This is a good, grungy blues-rock. Not as well known as "Sympathy for the Devil" -- the greatest Stones song ever -- but strong enough to hang with it on the same album. 7/10

6. Johnny Cash, "The Man in Black" -- "I wear the black for the poor and the beaten down, Livin' in the hopeless, hungry side of town, I wear it for the prisoner who has long paid for his crime, But is there because he's a victim of the times." Johnny Cash, proof that the phrase "bad-ass liberal" didn't always seem to be an oxymoron. 6/10

7. Jurassic 5, "Twelve" -- I was in Austin for a wedding this spring the same night J5 was playing at Stubb's, and managed to miss seeing the one and only Charlie Tuna in the hotel lobby by about three minutes. I will regret that 'til the day I die. 8/10

8. Mos Def, "Dollar Day for New Orleans ... Katrina Klap" -- While I think this isn't quite as good as the Legendary K.O. song, you have to be struck by the fact that the music industry was able to respond to the disaster faster than the government. 6/10

9. Bloc Party, "Banquet (Phones Disco Edit)" -- My favorite Bloc Party tune skewed just a little bit. I think I prefer the original, but this is a nice variation on the theme. By the way, if you're a Bloc Party fan -- and if you're not, you're a Communist -- you should check out this little treat from NPR: a full hour of Bloc Party live in concert and free to download. 8/10

10. Mountain, "Mississippi Queen" -- What can I say? I've got a soft spot for '70s power rock. Especially the one-hit wonders that sound like they should've been in Dazed and Confused. I mean, I keep gettin' older and these songs stay the same age. 5/10

Alright, that gives me a 7.2, and yet another C-minus on the Cool-o-Meter. With grades like that, maybe I too can one day become leader of the free world.

Do you think you're better than me? Because I will fight you. No, no, wait, that's the liquor talking.

What I meant to say is -- kindly drop your own FRT in the comments, with or without the Coolness Self-Audit.


Thursday, September 15, 2005

Satire is Dead, Part 456

The Onion, February 18, 2004:
Fuck Everything, We're Doing Five Blades
By James M. Kilts
CEO and President,
The Gillette Company

Reality, September 14, 2005:
NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Gillette has escalated the razor wars yet again, unveiling a new line of razors on Wednesday with five blades and a lubricating strip on both the front and back.

WWJD? Ostracize!!!

Investigators appointed by the Vatican have been instructed to review each of the 229 Roman Catholic seminaries in the United States for "evidence of homosexuality" and for faculty members who dissentfrom church teaching, according to a document prepared to guide the process. (NY Times 9/15)
Like the Catholic Church hasn't enough trouble recruiting Americans for its own churches - now, you can't have "strong homosexual inclinations" or suffer potential banishment for the seminary. I can only hope Pope Benedict XVI is assigning some cardinals to come up with a list of things to be aware and consider. That should be as interesting as the Reagan administration determining what is pornography.

My prediction -- half the room would be all too accurate with a list, commenting "Or so I have heard in a confessional." The other half would have trouble identifying Liberace, banning only men with mustaches in black leather chaps with no pants.

Sadly, this is another example of the demonization of homosexuals. They are not "recruiting," and they are no more interested in little boys than are "breeder" males interested in little girls.

Where's Your Messiah Now?

You knew it was only a matter of time -- Jesus Christ gets the Swift Boat treatment.

Grandma Fired for Not Abandoning Grandchild

In the spirit of shamelessly stealing from other, better blogs, I present you with an Atrios-style "Bobo's world" segment. Seems a factory in Missouri couldn't hold a grandmother's $7-an-hour assemblyline job for her while she cared for her grandchild.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - When forced to decide between caring for her 18-month-old granddaughter whose parents were stranded in New Orleans or leaving the girl with strangers so she could show up for her assembly line job, Barbara Roberts chose to be a grandma. And for that, she was fired.

Now them's family values!

The sad thing is, of course, that parents and other family members often have to decide between caring for babies or sick relatives and going to work. If this grandma had stayed with her grandchild because of any reason besides the hurricane (say, for example, if the parents had been mauled by a bear like this father and daughter), you better believe it wouldn't have been newsworthy. In fact, some might go so far as to assume the grandmother's plight was her own damned fault. Good thing compassionate conservatism is changing all that, right?

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Unless This is Steve Allen, You're Stealing My Bit!

I've resisted doing more caption contests, since there are plenty of people who've been doing them longer and better than I could ever hope to do. (For instance, Norbizness has a nice weekly contest, and Dependable Renegade is all captions, all the time.)

But due to popular demand after Monday's installment, we're going to make this a semi-regular feature here at LLatPoN. And this photo below -- shamelessly stolen from Dependable Renegade -- is just begging for the treatment. Have at it.

Bill Maher

Transcript stolen from Altercation:

Mr. President, this job can't be fun for you any more. There's no more money to spend--you used up all of that. You can't start another war because you used up the army. And now, darn the luck, the rest of your term has become the Bush family nightmare: helping poor people. Listen to your Mom. The cupboard's bare, the credit cards maxed out. No one's speaking to you. Mission accomplished.

Now it's time to do what you've always done best: lose interest and walk away. Like you did with your military service and the oil company and the baseball team. It's time. Time to move on and try the next fantasy job. How about cowboy or space man? Now I know what you're saying: there's so many other things that you as President could involve yourself in. Please don't. I know, I know. There's a lot left to do. There's a war with Venezuela. Eliminating the sales tax on yachts. Turning the space program over to the church. And Social Security to Fannie Mae. Giving embryos the vote.

But, Sir, none of that is going to happen now. Why? Because you govern like Billy Joel drives. You've performed so poorly I'm surprised that you haven't given yourself a medal. You're a catastrophe that walks like a man. Herbert Hoover was a shitty president, but even he never conceded an entire city to rising water and snakes.

On your watch, we've lost almost all of our allies, the surplus, four airliners, two trade centers, a piece of the Pentagon and the City of New Orleans. Maybe you're just not lucky. I'm not saying you don't love this country. I'm just wondering how much worse it could be if you were on the other side.

So, yes, God does speak to you. What he is saying is: 'Take a hint.'

Fiscal Conservatism, R.I.P.

Tom DeLay is a gift that just keeps on giving. The financial scandals, the ethical abyss, and the stupid, stupid comments:

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay said yesterday that Republicans have done so well in cutting spending that he declared an "ongoing victory," and said there is simply no fat left to cut in the federal budget.

Mr. DeLay was defending Republicans' choice to borrow money and add to this year's expected $331 billion deficit to pay for Hurricane Katrina relief. Some Republicans have said Congress should make cuts in other areas, but Mr. DeLay said that doesn't seem possible.

"My answer to those that want to offset the spending is sure, bring me the offsets, I'll be glad to do it. But nobody has been able to come up with any yet," the Texas Republican told reporters at his weekly briefing.

Asked if that meant the government was running at peak efficiency, Mr. DeLay said, "Yes, after 11 years of Republican majority we've pared it down pretty good."
Yeah, things are running really well. Current federal budget deficit? $451 million. Current national debt? $7.9 trillion. Too bad there's no glaring pork projects out there where the money could be cut. That'll do, pigs. That'll do.

Like they say over at Kung Fu Monkey, I miss Republicans. But this is good news for the Democrats. Between the Republican bungling of Iraq and Katrina and the new decision to abandon the ideas of fiscal conservatism, that leaves a lot of room for the Democrats to run on a single-worded theme: competence. Democrats are competent to run the government and handle the money. Democrats, it seems, are the new old-school Republicans.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

George Bush Does Care About Black People made clear in this week's presidential radio address.

Hey, Man, Is That Freedom Walk?

Although no one seemed to notice, the government's first-annual Do As We Say Festival Freedom Walk took place this Sunday.

As expected, it was just as loose and free-spirited as the state funeral for Leonid Brezhnev, and about as spontaneous as the Nixon Library. Michael Cortese (presumably no relation to Dan) went undercover and took part in the Freedom Walk, and lived to tell the tale:
The walk wasn't underway for no more than a handful of minutes, as the group I was walking with skirted the highway side of the Pentagon, when self appointed defenders of freedom picked out one middle-aged, blonde-haired woman who was wearing a nonoffensive, yet distinctly anti-war T-shirt. You can pretty much just make up the dialogue in your head: People telling her that her presence was "inappropriate", that she was in the wrong place and that folks don't like that sort of thing in a "red state" like Virginia (which, incidentally is strongly pro-choice statewide and was just as strongly for Kerry in Arlington during the last election). I reminded one particularly snotty young woman with her kids in tow that the event was supposedly commemorating the September 11 attacks, but the woman, drunk on kool-aid, couldn't differentiate between that 9/11 and the necessity for sending troops into Iraq.

The woman in the anti-war t-shirt said "Sorry, I'm from Massachusetts", which was followed by some pinheaded wingnutty guy who sneered, "Yeah, we're sorry you're from Massachusetts too" and then added "That's where Barney Frank is from", letting the name of an openly gay Congressman hang in the air like an accusation.

"Welcome to the Red States", he said.

I'm still kicking myself for not getting it on video. But my discreet attempt at pressing the shutter button on my camera didn't start the video recording.

Turns out the woman, named Mimi, was a friend of Cindy Sheehan, had a son in Fallujah, and friends who died on 9/11. She had much more right to be there than the people whose contribution to defending our freedoms consists of putting on a T-shirt and fake dog tags and walking to a concert.

A country music concert, T-shirt and fake dog tags. The victims of 9/11 and their families thank you.

There's more. Read the whole thing here.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Caption Contest

There's so much I'm tempted to say about this photo that I just can't decide. So I'm opening the floor for your suggestions for photo captions. The commentary, fittingly, should go in the comments.

The Boy in the Bubble

John Travolta may have played Bill Clinton on the big screen, but it's clear that the president he most resembles is none other than George W. Bush. Think about it. They've both made an almost obsessive-compulsive relationship with religion the center of their lives, they've both married women who appear to be Stepford Wives, and they both love to dress up in military outfits and pretend they're fighting men.

Recent revelations in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina only add further weight to the Bush-as-Barbarino theme, especially in the ways that George W. Bush is starting to resemble the classic title character from the movie, The Boy in the Plastic Bubble. Much like the ill-fated Tod Lubitch, who suffered from a weak immune system and could be killed by the smallest germs, Bush is apparently unable to withstand even the slightest bit of bad news or, heaven forfend, criticism. Also, they both have last names that make teenagers snicker.

We've all known for years now that Bush was suffering from his own bubble-boy lifestyle, but this great round-up piece by Dan Froomkin shows that stories of Bush's inability to handle criticism or dissent and his childish responses to them are even bigger than we thought.
Mike Allen writes in Time: "Longtime Bush watchers say they are not shocked that he missed his moment -- one of his most trusted confidants calls him 'a better third- and fourth-quarter player,' who focuses and delivers when he sees the stakes. What surprised them was that he still appeared to be stutter-stepping in the second week of the crisis, struggling to make up for past lapses instead of taking control with a grand gesture. Just as Katrina exposed the lurking problems of race and poverty, it also revealed the limitations of Bush's rigid, top-down approach to the presidency. . . .

"Bush's bubble has grown more hermetic in the second term, they say, with fewer people willing or able to bring him bad news -- or tell him when he's wrong. Bush has never been adroit about this. A youngish aide who is a Bush favorite described the perils of correcting the boss. 'The first time I told him he was wrong, he started yelling at me,' the aide recalled about a session during the first term. 'Then I showed him where he was wrong, and he said, "All right. I understand. Good job." He patted me on the shoulder. I went and had dry heaves in the bathroom.' . . ."
Screaming at a young aide. Classy. Be sure to read the whole thing.

It seems that Bush is intent on turning his presidency into a grand tribute to the original bubble boy, crafting his own bubble out of an intricate web of yes men, political cronies, and a stubborn refusal to see or hear anything that differs from the delicate world view they've created.

And Lord knows, Bush is clearly suffering while he's stuck in that bubble. Sadly, so are the rest of us.

Dodging the Bullet

For days now, the Bush administration's excuse for its sluggish response to Hurricane Katrina has been that initial reports said New Orleans had "dodged a bullet." That phrase has come up again and again, as administration officials claim they saw newspaper headlines that said -- either explicitly or implicitly -- that we'd "dodged a bullet."

For instance, here's President Bush this morning:
What I was referring to is this: When that storm came by, a lot of people said we dodged a bullet. When that storm came through at first, people said, Whew. There was a sense of relaxation. And that’s what I was referring to.

And I myself thought we had dodged a bullet. You know why? Because I was listening to people probably over the airwaves say, The bullet has been dodged. And that was what I was referring to.

Of course, there were plans in case the levee had been breached. There was a sense of relaxation at a critical moment.

I can't find a longer transcript, but it actually got painful watching him repeat this line over and over. I've taken some Advil and even bought a leather belt to bite down on when the pain gets too much, because if we know anything about this administration, it's that they like to stay on message. They'll beat this horse to death, and then have Mike Brown's friends at the International Arabian Horse Association see how they did.

But the odd thing here is something that generally happens when the President dismissively rails against something "a lot of people" have said or done. In most cases, "a lot of people" only exist in his head, as a convenient group of straw men with whom the president to do battle. Sort of a Debate Society version of the Washington Generals. It doesn't matter that "a lot of people" never said this or that, the president will bravely shoot down their non-existent arguments all the same. He's a leader, people!

This time, "a lot of people" said that we'd "dodged a bullet" with the hurricane. Really? Go over to AmericaBlog and see all the actual headlines from the storm's first strike. (I'd reproduce them here, but Blogger apparently hates the news.) But go and take a look at them and see if you can find anything that even remotely resembles the "dodged a bullet" theme the Bush administration insists was out there. No? Nothing?

It's almost like they're, you know, lying.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Enter the Situation Room™

DNC Chairman Howard Dean bravely entered The Situation Room™ to do battle with Mechawolfblitzer. Dean nicely stiff-armed Blitzer's attempts to make this all about whether or not George Bush really doesn't care about black people (see below) and pointed out repeatedly that, more importantly, George Bush doesn't seem to care about the bottom 80% of American society, whether they be white, black or brown. Catch the video here.

Friday, September 09, 2005

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

The NFL season is finally here! Our long national nightmare of baseball and golf is over, and we finally get to watch some real sports. I am a fan of the Dallas Cowboys. I know, you hate me. It's okay, really.

As such, I have three things to say. First of all, thank you to the blog powers that be for changing our screen colors to blue on silver, the colors of the Dallas Cowboys.

Second, I'd like to take note of the fact that Drew Bledsoe, quarterback of America's Team-- oops, sorry, I know you hate it when we say that -- has pledged to donate $2,500 to the Salvation Army everytime he throws a touchdown pass. So when Keyshawn hogs the ball this year, please remember that he's hogging it for the kids.

Third, not only do the Cowboys keep it real, they keep it real in style. How do I know that? Because a survey of 1,149 people told me they have the best . . . uniforms . . . ever!

Update: Like a genius Cowboy fan, I forgot to put in them links.

George Bush Doesn't Care About Black People

The Legendary K.O. has taken Kanye West's sound bite and his new song, "Gold Digger," and put together a great tune. Download available here.

(Via BoingBoing!)

Bring Back Carter!

So there's a new Zogby poll out with some bad news for the current commander-in-chief. The well-publicized news is that Bush's approval rating has fallen to an all-time low of 41%.

But there's another indication that Bush is a pretty unpopular president. In a hypothetical election between Bush and the four presidents preceding him, Bush loses to every single one. People would rather have Jimmy Carter as their president 50-42.

Nobody was asked about Gore, though Bush still beats Kerry, 48-47.

Friday Random Ten

For those of you who thought that South Park broke new ground in the entertainment industry with its heartbreaking chronicle of gay dog Sparky, and his adventures on Big Gay Al's Big Gay Boat Ride, this album is proof that gay dogs have had a presence in the industry for decades. In fact, it's a well-known fact that all the great dog stars of Hollywood were, in fact, homosexuals. Benji? Gay. Rin Tin Tin? Flaaaaaming. Lassie? Canadian. (Sometimes it's hard to tell.)

Alright, it's time for the Friday Random Ten. Take out your iPod, set it on iRandom, and give us the first ten iTunes that pop out. And if you think you're man enough -- or woman enough, or child enough -- to handle the Coolness Self-Audit, go ahead and do that on the standardized zero-to-ten scale. A zero is downright Lawrence Welkian, while a ten should be so cool it frightens small children. (No going to eleven, Nigel Tufnel.)

Here's mine:

1. Tom Scott, "Gotcha" -- Believe it or not, you all know this tune. It was the pimped-out theme song to the original "Starsky and Hutch." Listening to it makes me believe that I, too, drive a cherry-red, souped-up 1974 Ford Torino and that I, too, get to hang with supercool Detective Ken Hutchinson and superfly informant Huggy Bear. And that, for a brief moment, makes me supercool too. 10/10

2. Beck, "Farewell Ride" -- Off his latest and maybe his best album, Guero. I saw him play a tiny little club in Manhattan right before it came out, and I do believe he blew the doors off that motherfucker. Phenomenal show. 7/10

3. De La Soul, "Peas Porridge Hot" -- One of my favorite hiphop groups, but this is a mediocre tune off a mediocre album. 6/10

4. The Bee Gees, "Night Fever" -- Yeah. Not cool. Next. 3/10

5. Allen Toussaint, "Get Out of My Life Woman" -- Nice to see a New Orleans legend make the FRT this week. (Norbizness had a nice tribute last Friday to other New Orleans legends, by the way.) It's a great song on its own, but the fact that Slick Rick, Biz Markie and the Beastie Boys all sampled it, well, that takes its coolness factor, cuts it in half, and then doubles it! 10/10

6. Zero 7, "Red Dust" -- Not one of the best songs off Simple Things, but decent enough ambient. So good that the song usually plays a minute or so before I realize it's on. And as we all know, lurking in the background is cool. Or a sign of stalking. I forget which. 6/10

7. The Replacements, "Treatment Bound" -- Not the most rockin' tune of the Mats' repertoire, but if a band ever had an appropriate theme song, this is it. 6/10

8. Stevie Wonder, "Living for the City" -- Seven minutes of synthesized soul. This was Stevie Wonder near the peak of his funkiness, before the sad years when he was blackmailed into recording songs like "My Cherie Amour." Seriously. How else do you explain it? 8/10

9. Chiapet, "Don't You Want Me, Baby" -- From Freedom of Choice, a compilation that fought for reproductive rights in the traditional way -- by recruiting indie rock bands and having them record '80s hits. The novelty of covering a Human League hit was pretty big back in the salad days of the early 1990s, but upon further review, this one doesn't have much staying power. 5/10

10. Blackalicious, "Blazing Arrow" -- Phenomenal hiphop that moves at a blistering speed. The opening lines are "Amazin phase your days your hazy ways my Blazing Arrow / The rays that range from Asia way to Rio De Janeiro" and it only picks up speed from there. 9/10

Alright, that gives me a barely passing grade of 7.0. Whew. I'd hate to be held back in Cool School. Or maybe that makes you cooler? So hard to tell.

Before I go, here's a little Friday musical treat. TV on the Radio have recorded a tribute to President Bush, called "Dry Drunk Emperor." If you love great music and great Bush-bashing, this song's for you. Both the mp3 and lyrics are available here.

Drop your own Friday Random Ten in the comments, with or without the Coolness Self-Audit. Think you've got the stones? Bring it on!

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Chokin' on My Own Rage Here

If you can stand another round of outrage, Crooks and Liars has an outstanding clip from Keith Olbermann.

Think of the Children!

There's a FEMA rap for kids. Seriously.
Disaster . . . it can happen anywhere,
But we've got a few tips, so you can be prepared
For floods, tornadoes, or even a 'quake,
You've got to be ready - so your heart don't break.

Disaster prep is your responsibility
And mitigation is important to our agency.

People helping people is what we do
And FEMA is there to help see you through
When disaster strikes, we are at our best
But we're ready all the time, 'cause disasters don't rest.

via Ezra