Monday, October 31, 2005

Eyes on the Prize

This comes from Drudge, so take with salt:
Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald is planning to call Vice President Dick Cheney as a witness in the trial of Lewis Libby, the DRUDGE REPORT has leaned.

But the high stakes move could result in an executive privilege showdown between the White House and Fitzgerald, a top government source said Sunday.

"If Mr. Fitzgerald is going to demand a public recounting of conversations between the vice president, or even the president, and his staff, on matters he, himself, has acknowledged are 'classified,' executive privilege will obviously be invoked."

Fitzgerald has made it clear to lawyers involved in the case that he prefers Cheney appear as a witness in open court.

"Mr. Fitzgerald is starting from the position that this should not be done on remote or videotape," the well-placed source said.

Fitzgerald and Libby's attorney Joseph Tate discussed possible plea options before the indictment was issued last week, TIME magazine reports in new editions. But the deal was scotched because the prosecutor insisted that Libby do some "serious" jail time.


This could be the opening bargaining position, but it still raises the pulse a bit, don't it?

The Nucular Option

As predicted, President Bush has tried to rally his base with his next nomination to the Supreme Court. He's tapped Samuel Alito of the 3rd Federal Appeals Court.

Unlike Harriet Miers, whose only written opinions were about how "George Bush is the awesomest preznit ever!!!!", Alito has a long and detailed paper trail. There's no mistaking that he is a staunch conservative. He was the lone dissenter in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the early '90s abortion case that many thought could lead to a rollback of Roe. He's shown a willingness to curb civil rights across the board, and thought the Family and Medical Leave Act was unconstitutional.

The president nominated Alito because he's so clearly at home on the far right with much of his base. There's no need to read the tea leaves about his views on abortion, for instance, because they're plain as day. But this works both ways. Democrats may finally have their "extraordinary circumstance" for the filibuster. We'll see.

(Thanks to Pandagon for the links.)

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Jeremy's Iron?

If you're bored, and nerdy, check out the Internet Anagram Server.

You'll be delighted to know that the letters of "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Nachos" can be rearranged to spell: "A Foolishly Terrific Bush-Tenet Pun. Da!" Which is perfect, of course, since we're clearly a bunch of idiot commies who mock the president and those worthy servants he gives the medal of freedom.

Press the Meat

Watching the Russert Show this morning, and the Monsignor is discussing the Libby indictments with the usual broad spectrum of political opinion, which today ranges from William Safire and David Brooks on the right, all the way over to David Broder and Judy Woodruff on the center-right. Damn liberal media.

Anyway, Brooks is parroting the New Conservative Truth, that because Fitzgerald didn't indict anyone on charges of treason, there's nothing more to this scandal. He said, and this is a paraphrase, "Fitzgerald has been at this for 22 months and he's gotten full cooperation and full disclosure from everyone, and he couldn't find anything." What? The main player in this scandal, Scooter Libby, was just indicted on five counts of lying to investigators, lying to the grand jury, and obstructing justice. How the hell is it full cooperation when the linchpin to the case lies to investigators at every turn?

David Brooks is a man who's made a career on trite stand-up sociological observations like "Blue State people drive like this; Red State people drive like that! Blue State people have names like Carl; Red State people have names like Lenny!" So, from him, this sort of inanity is to be expected. But luckily for us, there are actual sane people here on Planet Earth and they offer a more rational reading of the investigation.

At the Booman Tribune (found through Kos), Marty Aussenburg makes an excellent case for why Fitzgerald is only putting the squeeze on Libby and where he'll likely go next. Josh Marshall, meanwhile, sifts through everything over at TPM to make a good case for this leading to Cheney himself. The trail leading to Cheney is becoming so clear that even Nick Kristof -- Nick Kristof, for chrissakes! -- is calling for Cheney to come clean. As Al Franken noted, it's looking more and more like instead of a simple one-day Fitzmas, we're getting a drawn-out Fitznukkah, where the gifts are going to keep on coming.

They're all good, and all too nuanced to cut down to a blog-bite here. So go read them yourdamnself.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

How to Become a Republican

Good Lord, this is funny. A handy step-by-step cartoon instructional on how to abandon your liberalism and become a full-fledged Republican. Check it out here.

(Hat tip to The Dark Stuff for finding this.)

Film Forum

The summer movie season was, as I'm sure we'll all remember, one of the greatest in the history of cinema. It was filled with such stunningly fresh and mind-blowingly original fare like Bewitched, Herbie: Fully Loaded, The Dukes of Hazzard, The Honeymooners and, of course, the artistic achievement that was the mouthbreathing remake of The Longest Yard. (On second thought, when Hollywood actually went with an original idea this summer, it wound up offering us golden masterpieces like Vin Diesel in The Pacifier. Maybe all the retreads weren't so bad after all....)

Anyway, fall's here, and that means that Tinseltown is putting the twist-cap back on the cheap stuff and uncorking a couple bottles of the special reserve. I just saw Good Night and Good Luck this week, and I'm happy to report it's phenomenal. David Strathairn is terrific as Ed Murrow, and the supporting cast features tons of great performances (especially Frank Langella as the CBS honcho). And, needless to say, the movie's theme about the media's need to find its spine and stand up to fear-mongering is just a little bit timely.

Not only was the movie great, but the previews -- always the best part of the movie experience -- showed a lot of great stuff coming down the pike, movies with that rare combination of a good script, a good director and a great cast. There's another Clooney effort coming out, Syriana, with another timely plot centered on oil and terrorism. The Sam Mendes adaption of Anthony Swofford's Jarhead looks terrific, as does the Johnny Cash bio Walk the Line. I haven't seen Capote yet, so add that to the list, too. I'm even looking forward to the triumphant return of Funny Val Kilmer in the increasingly hyped Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang. All said, with Oscar season fast approaching, there are a lot of good flicks coming out.

Anything out there I've missed? Anything you're amped up to see?


Friday, October 28, 2005

Insult to Injury

Sadly, the preseason college basketball picks are out. Let the hype begin. Take it away
Take four returning senior starters from a 27-win team. Add a bunch of big-time freshmen. What do you get? The nation's No. 1 team.

That talented mix of experience and youth has carried Duke to the top spot in the preseason ESPN/USA Today Coaches' poll. The Blue Devils (27-6 last season), returning All-Americans J.J. Redick and SheldenWilliams, received 28 of a possible 31 first-place votes and 767 points, easily pushing them past Connecticut, which landed at No. 2.
This pains me, not so much in my irrational dislike of Duke's team and 98% of the students who went there, but in the fact that Dick Vitale will be taking his "Cameron Crazies" and "All Hail Coach K" up a notch - all season long. That is a long season. "Dunkeroo!"

Remember the Lusitania!

I haven't seen this point made before, so I thought I'd bring it up. If this administration had done even a mediocre job of occupying and rebuilding Iraq, nobody would give two shits that they lied us into it. Nobody would really care about Valerie Plame. This investigation could have been handed to a political hack and nobody would have paid any attention.

The only reason they are paying a price for their dishonesty is their incompetence.

"Abby Someone .... Abby Normal"

If you're sick of playing the Plame Game, try this one instead.

The Boot Scooter Boogie

According to CNN, Patrick Fitzgerald has just handed down five indictments against I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby -- two charges of making false statements to the FBI (October 14 and September 27, 2003), two charges of committing perjury before the grand jury (March 5 and March 24, 2004), and one charge of obstruction of justice (spring 2003). As everyone expected, he's just now resigned as Dick Cheney's manservant Renfield Chief of Staff.

It seems Karl Rove isn't being indicted today, but he's not in the clear either. The investigation into his involvement in all this will continue and, now that Scooter realizes he's being royally and publicly screwed by his old friends, maybe we'll see him turn. That's a flip-flop I'd love to see.

UPDATE: U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald just had his press conference. First of all, he seems like an impressive guy -- not the smoothest public speaker, but certainly sharp, direct, and no-nonsense. The right is going to try and smear him, of course, but I doubt they'll have any luck. Maybe they'll try to smear him because he's working-class Irish, and we all know what they're like. (Let it be noted that the witness made the "drinky-drinky" motion.)

On a related note, Fitzgerald's professionalism is making it hard to read where this thing is going. He refused to talk about anyone not mentioned in the indictment (and just batted away a question about Cheney's involvement) so we can expect the guessing games to continue. And we can expect Karl Rove to continue to sweat this out like Roger Ebert in a sauna.

UPDATE 2: Kevin Drum is doing a nice blow-by-blow recording of the press conference. Check it out here.

The War on Halloween

One of our sacred traditions is under attack by those trying to stamp out our beliefs.
When students at Underwood Elementary School walk to their classrooms on Monday, there will be no witches, SpongeBob SquarePants, or Johnny Damons there to greet them.

No skeleton paintings or Frankenstein tattoos, either.

The school's principal said yesterday he acceded to the complaints of a handful of parents who said that because the school's traditional Halloween celebrations offended their religious beliefs, they would not send their children to school if the revelry continued this year.

Soon to be a talking point on Fox News. Or not.

Friday Random Ten

I'm not sure where Boned fits in the broad landscape of rock'n'roll.

According to the excellent taxonomy of terrible rock as compiled by Norbizness, Boned seems to fit the definition of "butt rock." And with an album title like Up at the Crack, it seems like they're begging to be included in the annals (or anals) of "butt rock." Sure, some would argue that the band name and the very subtle album art might make a case for thrusting them into the "cock rock" category. But true aficianadoes of the craptacular know where this baby lies.

That said, however, I can appreciate that honest people can disagree. We may have to wait for the Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame to clear this one up.

Alright, time for the Friday Random Ten. Grab your iTunes, shake it up like an Etch-a-Sketch (or, if you're an Outkast fan, like a Polaroid picture), and give us the first ten songs that fall out. And if you want to take it to the next level -- and I know that you do -- go ahead and throw in a Coolness Self-Audit as well.

Here's mine:

1. Sweet, "Fox on the Run" -- Unless you're currently driving a souped-up Camaro, you may not recognize this one. But it's a '70s rock strutter that would make even Boned proud. In fact, this song would've been so perfect for the Dazed and Confused soundtrack that I have to assume Richard Linklater was afraid its awesome rocking power would overshadow his film. Coward. 7/10 [Update: I'm an idiot. See the comments.]

2. Lambchop, "Up with People" -- A lovely song from the excellent Nixon CD. This one starts off slow, but steadily builds -- with hand claps and eventually a chorus -- to become a gorgeous bit of indie pop. Great stuff. 8/10

3. Sly and the Family Stone, "Dance to the Medley" -- You won't find this twelve-minute funk masterpiece on any of their greatest hits albums, and that's just as well. (As Bruce McCullough from "Kids in the Hall" once said, "Greatest Hits albums are for housewives and little girls.") This is a great tune, one where the band members get to stretch their legs and, as legendary jazz flautist Ron Burgundy would say, take that bass line for a little walk. Perfect. 10/10

4. Tom T. Hall, "I Love" -- It's fairly obvious that Tom wrote this one on his way to the recording studio. Some of the lyrics: "I love leaves in the wind, / pictures of my friends, / birds in the world, / and squirrels. // I love coffee in a cup, / little fuzzy pups, / bourbon in a glass, / and grass." Yeah, it's pretty clear you love bourbon and grass, Tom. Pretty clear to us all. 6/10

5. Sufjan Stevens, "Chicago" -- The White Sox not only win the World Series for the first time since the First World War One, but do it in a sweep, and the same week this song pops up on the Friday Random Ten? I smell a conspiracy, and you know the Daley family is involved. Still, for a song this sweet, how can I stay mad? 8/10

6. TV on the Radio, "Dry Drunk Emperor" -- This is a free MP3 that TVOTR put out a month or so ago (available here from Touch and Go) about a certain President of the United States. The lyrics are starting to look a little prophetic these days: "All eyes upon dry drunk emperor / gold cross jock, skull and bones, mocking smile, / he's been standing naked for a while! / get him gone, get him gone, get him gone!! / and bring all the thieves to trial." Anything you say, boys. 9/10

7. The Sugar Hill Gang, "Apache" -- This is one of the original classics of hip hop, and deservedly so. The lyrics may be braindead, but I dare you to listen to the beat and not want to get on your own horse and ride. "Heigh-ho, Silver, is what I'll say!" Amen. 7/10

8. Sun Kil Moon, "Ocean Breathes Salty" -- A slowed-down, acoustic cover of the Modest Mouse song. I don't think I'd ever appreciated the lyrics of the original until I heard this version. It's stripped down and incredibly haunting, sort of like a date with Crispin Glover. Seriously, it's a fantastic tune. 8/10

9. The Beatnuts, "Watch Out Now" -- This amazing hip hop tune features the same flute sample that J. Lo abused in "Jenny from the Block," a sample from Herbie Mann's "High Jack," but the Beatnuts got there first and did it so much better than Gigli ever could. Phenomenal. 9/10

10. Superchunk, "Punch Me Harder" -- A nice tune from the salad days of college. Superchunk always seemed to be just on the verge of breaking into the big time, but never seemed to make it. This is off the excellent No Pocky for Kitty CD, which was arguably the band at its peak. Not my favorite song off the album, but good enough to imagine Mac and Laura doing their pogo dance to it. 6/10

Alright, that gives me a 7.8. I seem to get that rating just about every week, and I'm starting to feel like I'll forever be a C student. To quote the great Homer Simpson: "Kids, you tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is -- never try."

That doesn't mean you should abandon all hope. Give us your random ten and, if you think you can handle the pressure, throw in a Coolness Self-Audit as well.

If you dare.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Happy Tree Friends

Here's an early Halloween treat, something I'd seen a while back but then completely forgot about: the Happy Tree Friends cartoons.

For those of you who've never seen the Happy Tree Friends, they're sort of hard to describe. Bright-eyed cartoons about cute, fuzzy woodland creatures getting maimed, crushed and killed in all sorts of ungodly ways. It's as if Quentin Tarantino directed a season of "The Care Bears" and the network censors turned a blind eye to all the gore.

They have a whole slew of new cartoons up, including a very disturbing Halloween one. If you're into this kind of thing, be sure to check them out. But take their warning seriously -- Happy Tree Friends are not for small children or big babies.

Heh, Indeed

Sam Rosenfeld at TAPPED caught this excellent exchange between a reporter and Nancy Pelosi:
Q. To follow up on the other question about the agenda, when do you think we might be able to get an idea about the Democrats' agenda that you were talking about?

Ms. Pelosi. When we are ready to do so. As I said, it would be helpful if there were no arrests, subpoenas, or indictments on whatever day it is. We would like a clear shot at it.

Would Advertising Lie To Me?

I can't be sure, but I don't think the beer commercials have mentioned this.

My understanding is that (a) you drink, (b) you get to have cool friends, (c) you have wacky adventures that make your life interesting and somehow worthwhile, (d) you are funny and the life of the party, and (d) hot chicks enjoy your company and vie to be near you.

I think I saw this ad during last year's Super Bowl:
Also, it's known that alcoholic men can develop signs of low testosterone, including shrunken testicles and enlarged breasts.


Looks like the threatened lawsuit against The Onion worked really well. Listen here.

This is not only very funny, but it's the best impersonation of Bush since Will Ferrell. Really captures his unique blend of dumb and smug.

A Flip-Flop for the Better

I thought I'd take a moment to show a little love for our embattled president. After Katrina, Bush suspended the Bacon-Davis act, which requires that government contractors pay the prevailing wage to its workers, for Katrina-related recovery. The claim was that giving substandard wages to those rebuilding the Gulf Coast would help keep costs down and allow us to build more bridges to nowhere.

On Wednesday Bush reversed his decision and declared that Bacon-Davis would go back into effect Nov. 8. Sure, it would've been nice if he'd done it sooner, and it would've been nice if he'd made it retroactive, but we have to take what we can get. It's going to take a long time to fix the mess down there, and it's good to know that the folks doing the fixing will get a fair wage.

This is one of the only times I can recall Bush throwing out a hastily made, bad decision and replacing it with a good one. (He's halfway to a repeat with the Miers withdrawal . . .) I'm hoping he'll get lots of positive feedback for this move and realizes that when you change your mind FOR GOOD REASON, there's really nothing to be ashamed of.

Justice Denied

Well, Harriet Miers has withdrawn her nomination to be placed on the Supreme Court.

I don't for a second believe that she made this decision on her own -- her lemming-like loyalty to the President means that she'd never go against His Will -- so we can take this as a recognition from Bush that no matter how much lipstick (and dark black eyeliner) he stuck on this pig, no one was going to buy it.

Personally, I'm a little let down. I was looking forward to watching this all play out before the Judiciary Committee, with the costs of Bush's cronyism exposed in Miers' ignorance of constitutional matters and the schism in the Republican Party exploited as the far right had to break away from the right. And as long as the nomination was standing, the internal fighting in the GOP ranks could continue.

So what happens next? Well, there are two scenarios. First, you could argue that Bush desperately needs a victory here and will try to find another John Roberts -- moderately conservative, eminently qualified, and easily passable. But I don't think that'll happen. Bush has a chance to win back his base, and with the Plame indictments coming down soon, he's going to want them rallied around him. So I think we might see him reach deep into the nut factory and pull out someone like Janice Rogers Brown or Priscilla Owens.

However, even if Bush does put forth a troglodyte for the next nomination, I think the Democrats now have the cover to shoot her down. Bush is now deeply unpopular, and the indictments of his administration will surely make him more so. Rebelling against Bush is no longer a political risk; it's fast becoming a political asset. What's more, now that the Republicans are all on record for standing up to Miers -- demanding documents, announcing their opposition, playing the media -- it becomes much easier for Democrats to do the same with the next nominee.

It's hard to predict the future, but I think we can now look back on the Miers nomination and pinpoint the moment where it all went wrong. Decades from now, historians will look back and, I am confident, seize upon the homespun wisdom of the sage prognosticator who said: "Nice knowing you, Harriet. Go back to writing 'Mrs. Harriet Bush' in cursive on your Trapper Keeper, because this other dream just ain't gonna happen."

Truly prophetic.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Apple's Rope-a-Dope

Much of the business news has been (1) hyping the release of the Motorola ROKR (cell phone and iPod player) and (2) expressing shock at the poor consumer response to the product. The truth is that the press and the consumer have been part of one of the most impressive strategic business moves ever witnessed.

You see, market research consistently projects that Apple's music services is not considered a long term success. Its cost of doing business is too high; their business is not flexible to work with third parties - essentially history was believed to be repeating itself (as seen in the death of the Mac versus the PC.) The biggest threat is cell phones, which also act as MP3 players. MP3 players are very cheap, storage is easy, and you can get around the annoying ACC encodes that I-pod supports. The lion’s share of the revenue will go to the cellular device manufacturers and the cellular companies for download songs.

Apple knows this all too well, so here's what they did. (1) They announced to the world they intended to enter the wireless market - thus scaring off short-term competition with the power of their brand (a defensive play). (2) They kept on putting off the launch - further holding off the inevitable competitive wireless marketplace. (3) Apple FORCED a song limit of 100 songs. (Initially, they were trying to hold this number to 30). (4) The ROKR device's experience is not nearly as user friendly as the standard Apple devices.

By capturing mass market's attention, holding the competitive market at bay, and offering a sub par product, they have effectively spoiled the market opportunity for the mid-term. Industry "experts" will lament that there isn't customer interest in these music and communications converged services; companies will be hesitant to invest in building a competitive product to the ROKR because the consensus will be that they can't make money in it. All along, Apple will continue cashing in on their brand and their cute little i-Pods.

Eventually, the marketplace will figure this out and get over the negative taste for the ROKR; but until then, Steve Jobs has proven he has learned from history and is laughing all the way to the bank.

Froggy Came a-Marchin'

Despite all the signs that indictments in the Plame investigation wouldn't come down until tomorrow at the earliest, it now seems like we might see them very soon.

Raw Story has the goods:
Special Prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald has asked the grand jury investigating the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson to indict Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby and Bush's Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice, lawyers close to the investigation tell RAW STORY.

Fitzgerald has also asked the jury to indict Libby on a second charge: knowingly outing a covert operative, the lawyers said. They said the prosecutor believes that Libby violated a 1982 law that made it illegal to unmask an undercover CIA agent. [...]

Two other officials, who are not employees in the White House, are also expected to face indictments, the lawyers said.
If true, this is wonderful news. And proof that there is, in fact, a just and righteous God.

But it gets better. According to Richard Sale -- who I stumbled on through Kos -- it seems likely that we may get to have our cake and eat it too, as the investigation could keep rolling on:
The probe is far from being at an end. According to this reporter's sources, Fitzgerald approached the judge in charge of the case and asked that a new grand jury be empaneled. The old grand jury, which has been sitting for two years, will expire on October 28.

Thanks to a letter of February, 2004 which Fitzgerald asked for and obtained expaneed authority, the Special Prosecutor is now in possession of an Italian parliament investigation into the forged Niger documents alleging Iraq's interest in purchasing Niger uranium, sources said.

They said that Fitzgerald is looking into such individuals as former CIA agent, Duane Claridge, military consultant to the Iraqi National Congress, Gen. Wayne Downing, another military consultant for INC, and Francis Brooke, head of INC's Washington office in an effort to determine if they played any role in the forgeriese or their dissiemination. Also included in this group is long-time neoconservative Michael Ledeen, these federal sources said.
If this second rumor is true, then it means Fitzgerald is going to move beyond the question of who leaked Valerie Plame's name to why, and the question of why leads directly to the administration's sketchy case for the war in Iraq, and the lies and intrigue that surrounded it. In other words, seeing Karl Rove frog-marched out of the White House could be the beginning of Bush's nightmare, and not the end.

In related news, today is the third anniversary of my marriage to the lovely and talented Malibu Stacy and the ninth anniversary of Studiodave's marriage to the lovely and talented Mrs. Studiodave. We'd like to thank Patrick Fitzgerald for this wonderful gift. Clearly, he looked at our registry.

Speaking of which, it seems that leather gifts are recommended for both the third and ninth wedding anniversaries. Any chance we could get Karl Rove forty lashes with a bullwhip? Because that would be awesome.

Not Souter!

In the midst of the Bush administration's campaign to convince conservatives that Harriet Miers will stand as a defender of womb babies "strict constructionist" if she somehow makes it to the Supreme Court, news like this has got to be a kick to the crotch:
Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers said in a speech more than a decade ago that "self-determination" should guide decisions about abortion and school prayer and that in cases where scientific facts are disputed and religious beliefs vary, "government should not act."

In a 1993 speech to a Dallas women's group, Miers talked about abortion, the separation of church and state, and how the issues play out in the legal system. "The underlying theme in most of these cases is the insistence of more self-determination," she said. "And the more I think about these issues, the more self-determination makes sense." ...

"The ongoing debate continues surrounding the attempt to once again criminalize abortions or to once and for all guarantee the freedom of the individual women's [sic] right to decide for herself whether she will have an abortion," Miers said.

Those seeking to resolve such disputes would do well to remember that "we gave up" a long time ago on "legislating religion or morality," she said. And "when science cannot determine the facts and decisions vary based upon religious belief, then government should not act."

While the speeches may not be an accurate predictor of how Miers may rule as a justice, abortion rights opponents and advocates and legal analysts said yesterday that Miers's professed belief in self-determination could suggest that she favored a woman's right to decide whether to terminate a pregnancy.
Even if Rove weren't focused solely on his prison survival strategy these days, I just don't see how they can spin their way out of this one.

Nice knowing you, Harriet. Go back to writing "Mrs. Harriet Bush" in cursive on your Trapper Keeper, because this other dream just ain't gonna happen.

I'll be watching her blog for the announcement.

The 2008 Campaign Begins!

In a time of crisis and change, America needs strong leadership like this.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Fortress America vs. "The Onion"

In the GOP spirit of ending pointless lawsuits, making the government less corrupt, and focused on preserving American values at home and abroad, the Bush administration has turned its laser focus to the weekly periodical "The Onion."

No, this is not a joke. Well, the administration is a joke, but this story is not. Please continue reading.

"It has come to my attention that The Onion is using the presidential seal on its Web site," Grant M. Dixton, associate counsel to the president, wrote to The Onion on Sept. 28. (At the time, Mr. Dixton's office was also helping Mr. Bush find a Supreme Court nominee; days later his boss, Harriet E. Miers, was nominated.)

Citing the United States Code, Mr. Dixton wrote that the seal "is not to be used in connection with commercial ventures or products in any way that suggests presidential support or endorsement."

Just in case you haven't been following the faux presidential addresses and other Onion stories, titles include:

Yes, my friends, the administration, which was supposed to cut through bureaucracy and inject a healthy dose of Texas-sized common sense, issues this statement via Trent Duffy:

"You can't pick and choose where you want to enforce the rules surrounding the use of official government insignia, whether it's for humor or fraud."

Very well. I believe, Mr. Bush, it is time. Time to unleash these "Very Special Forces" to bring the fight to the insurgents... and have a pudding cup.

Taste the Golden Spray

So the Demmycrats are going to win this new election on the coattails of a new slogan. They've narrowed it down to two choices. Are you ready?
House Democratic leaders are holding a closed-door meeting with members of their caucus this afternoon to discuss a new slogan for the 2006 midterm elections: "Together, We Can Do Better" or "Together, America Can Do Better," according to Democratic sources.
Something tells me that this isn't going to define the party for anyone who's not already on their side.
"There's this sense that people don't know where we stand or what our ideas are," a House Democratic leadership aide said. "Messaging has been the problem. … People should know where we stand. We've made our views clear on every issue that has come to the floor."
I'm sure that the average American is paying very close attention to how their congressman is voting.

Democrats: The other white meat.

National Nightmare

Golden oldie from America's finest news source:
"You better believe we're going to mix it up with somebody at some point during my administration," said Bush, who plans a 250 percent boost in military spending. "Unlike my predecessor, I am fully committed to putting soldiers in battle situations. Otherwise, what is the point of even having a military?"

"After eight years of relatively sane fiscal policy under the Democrats, we have reached a point where, just a few weeks ago, President Clinton said that the national debt could be paid off by as early as 2012," Rahway, NJ, machinist and father of three Bud Crandall said. "That's not the kind of world I want my children to grow up in."

Could Big Time Do Some Hard Time?

"WASHINGTON, Oct. 24 - I. Lewis Libby Jr., Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, first learned about the C.I.A. officer at the heart of the leak investigation in a conversation with Mr. Cheney weeks before her identity became public in 2003, lawyers involved in the case said Monday.

Notes of the previously undisclosed conversation between Mr. Libby and Mr. Cheney on June 12, 2003, appear to differ from Mr. Libby's testimony to a federal grand jury that he initially learned about the C.I.A. officer, Valerie Wilson, from journalists, the lawyers said."
Alright, take a deep breath.

This is definitely bad news for Scooter, since his perjury is now so obvious that even the media is pointing it out. And, as we know, the media is always the last one to speak out in a way that might be construed as being critical of the Bush administration. (As I type this, Daryn Kagan, a.k.a the Woman Who Sees Rush Limbaugh Naked, is on CNN doing her best to defend Scooter and his boss.)

What this means for Cheney isn't clear. If true, it certainly contradicts the many public statements he's made about not knowing anything about Joe Wilson and his wife. If Cheney made the same claims before the grand jury, then that might seem to indicate that he too committed perjury, as suggested here. I think there's a possibility that Big Time could soon be doing hard time, but I'm trying not to get my hopes up.

But, oh, it's tough.

Monday, October 24, 2005


OK boys. Some of you sportscasters and sports analysts types need to take a cold shower on the "Eli Manning man love" you got going on. Yes, he is young and you have won some games; but come on, he hasn't turned water to wine or perished for our sins quite yet.

According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, Eli has brought meaning to the life of a 89 year old and sparked the biggest city in the world to come to life.
Manning has a chance to take New York now, the way a quarterback hasn't taken it since Joe Namath. The Yankees and Mets are long gone, the Jets are a mess and
the Knicks are destined for the draft lottery. Manning has a chance to be a star in New York, where the football landscape is desperate for one.
You know, Phil Simms, who has won a Super Bowl, may take an issue with the "times have been tough since Broadway Joe" storyline. Also, I'm not a Yankee or Met fan either, but this isn't really a drought since they have been to, or won, the World Series. Hell, they both played against each other in one not too long ago.

Actually, this post is also an excuse to show this picture (probably from college) of Eli (future Joe Namath) and some blond trouble (future Susie Kolber). I am jealous on so many levels. So many levels. So many. So.....

The Road Less Traveled

The NY Daily News is reporting that Bush is feeling mighty alone, but still is convinced he is not to blame. While the evil doing (and free) press remains the recipient of the majority of his tirades, apparently staffers (high and low) are now experiencing the brunt of His wrath.
Bush is so dismayed that "the only person escaping blame is the President himself," said a sympathetic official, who delicately termed such self-exoneration "illogical."
Bush's strength all along has been his faith in his staff and the American people really seem(ed) to respect his "strength" of character in standing beside those staffers who have failed, even those who have failed miserably.

With this last trace of what got Bush elected the second time gone, the administration's fall from grace will start sliding even faster. With 2006 elections, this Titanic sinking is going to more resemble a plane crash.
"This is not some manager at McDonald's chewing out the help," said a source
with close ties to the White House when told about these outbursts. "This is the
President of the United States, and it's not a pleasant sight."

Hypocritical Oath

The indictments haven't even been handed down, but it seems the Swift Boating of U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald has already begun:
WASHINGTON, Oct. 23 - With a decision expected this week on possible indictments in the C.I.A. leak case, allies of the White House suggested Sunday that they intended to pursue a strategy of attacking any criminal charges as a disagreement over legal technicalities or the product of an overzealous prosecutor. ...

On Sunday, Republicans appeared to be preparing to blunt the impact of any charges. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, Republican of Texas, speaking on the NBC news program "Meet the Press," compared the leak investigation with the case of Martha Stewart and her stock sale, "where they couldn't find a crime and they indict on something that she said about something that wasn't a crime."

Ms. Hutchison said she hoped "that if there is going to be an indictment that says something happened, that it is an indictment on a crime and not some perjury technicality where they couldn't indict on the crime and so they go to something just to show that their two years of investigation was not a waste of time and taxpayer dollars."
Funny. Back when President Bill Clinton was impeached on what many people claimed was "some perjury technicality" meant to show that the Republicans' seven years of investigation were not a waste of time and taxpayer dollars -- about $60 million -- Kay Bailey Hutchinson had a much different view. In her mind back then, perjury was a serious, serious problem:
Lying is a moral wrong. Perjury is a lie told under oath that is legally wrong. To be illegal, the lie must be willfully told, must be believed to be untrue, and must relate to a material matter. Title 18, Section 1621 and 1623, U.S. Code.

If President Washington, as a child, had cut down a cherry tree and lied about it, he would be guilty of 'lying,' but would not be guilty of 'perjury.'

If, on the other hand, President Washington, as an adult, had been warned not to cut down a cherry tree, but he cut it down anyway, with the tree falling on a man and severely injuring or killing him, with President Washington stating later under oath that it was not he who cut down the tree, that would be 'perjury.' Because it was a material fact in determining the circumstances of the man's injury or death.

Some would argue that the President in the second example should not be impeached because the whole thing is about a cherry tree, and lies about cherry trees, even under oath, though despicable, do not rise to the level of impeachable offenses under the Constitution. I disagree.

The perjury committed in the second example was an attempt to impede, frustrate, and obstruct the judicial system in determining how the man was injured or killed, when, and by whose hand, in order to escape personal responsibility under the law, either civil or criminal. Such would be an impeachable offense. To say otherwise would be to severely lower the moral and legal standards of accountability that are imposed on ordinary citizens every day. The same standard should be imposed on our leaders.

Nearly every child in America believes that President Washington, as a child himself, did in fact cut down the cherry tree and admitted to his father that he did it, saying simply: 'I cannot tell a lie.'

I will not compromise this simple but high moral principle in order to avoid serious consequences to a successor President who may choose to ignore it.


If only the President had followed the simple, high moral principle handed to us by our Nation's first leader as a child and had said early in this episode 'I cannot tell a lie,' we would not be here today. We would not be sitting in judgment of a President. We would not be invoking those provisions of the Constitution that have only been applied once before in our Nation's history.

But we should all be thankful that our Constitution is there, and we should take pride in our right and duty to enforce it. A hundred years from now, when history looks back to this moment, we can hope for a conclusion that our Constitution has been applied fairly and survives, that we have come to principled judgments about matters of national importance, and that the rule of law in American has been sustained.
So, perjury is a serious matter when the lies are about a blow job, but not that important when the lies are about outing a covert CIA operative and damaging our national security capabilities.

Got it.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

The Fall Guy

As Josh Marshall points out over at TPM, it's looking more and more like the White House is preparing to make Dick Cheney's Chief of Staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby the fall guy in the Plame scandal.

As seen in this convenient LA Times article, people close to the administration have been leaking materials to make it clear that Libby was really the one with the Fatal Attraction obsession with Joe Wilson and that if anyone's to blame for boiling his bunny outing his CIA operative wife, then it's him. Everyone else -- like say, poor innocent Karl Rove or Cheney or even Bush himself -- why they were just caught up in the wake of that powermad Libby. I mean, how could they resist the might of a grown man named Scooter?

Reminds me of Nixon trying to pin it all on Dean, and then Ehrlichman and Haldeman. How did that turn out again?

Friday, October 21, 2005

Friday Random Ten

There is so much wrong with this album cover, I just don't know where to begin.

First of all, it doesn't look like a very happy birthday for our girl Julie. She's in a dive bar -- not faux-dive, but real dive -- and, not surprisingly, she's none too happy. And, second, if Julie's only just now turning sixteen, then what in God's name is she doing with this middle-aged Daniel Stern lookalike? (The only way this pairing makes sense is if this is a screen shot from Home Alone 4: Sixteen Candles.) And third, if Daniel Stern is breaking up with her, how come he's the one who gets the beer and cigarette? She's getting dumped by a middle-aged loser. Jesus. Help soften the blow, buddy.

So many questions, so little time. I guess that means it's time to move on to the Friday Random Ten.

You know the routine by now. Open up your iTunes or imitationTunes, set it on random, and give us the first ten songs that pop up. If you're feeling up to it, throw in a Coolness Self-Audit. (Last week, Special Guest Star Pete Smith offered a suitable ranking scale. Use it -- if you dare.)

Alright, here's my ten:

1. Loretta Lynn, "Out of My Head and Back in My Bed" -- Not really as feminist or feisty as some of her other stuff, but a rollickin' enough tune. 6/10

2. James Brown, "Give It Up or Turnit a Loose (Remix)" -- This is, without a doubt, the best song that JB ever recorded. No, better than the one you're thinking of. And much better than the other one. This is off the In the Jungle Groove LP, and it's a scorching version. There's a point about four minutes in where he stops the rest of the band and lets drummer Clyde Stubblefield and bassist Bootsy Collins loose for an amazing minute of pure, undiluted funk. If there were ever a perfect ten, this song is it. 10/10

3. Phil Flowers and the Flower Shop, "Like a Rolling Stone" -- This is an uptempo soul version of the Dylan classic. Lots of horns, lots of screaming, lots of backup vocals, and somehow it works. 7/10

4. Gang Starr, "Take Two and Pass" -- In the spirit of Chris Tucker's rant from Friday -- "Puff, puff, give! Puff, puff, give! You're fuckin' up the rotation!" -- this is a classic Gang Starr tune dedicated to the fine art of cannabis circulation. Guru's a little subdued on this one, but maybe he was just practicing what he was preaching. 8/10

5. Snoop Doggy Dogg, "St. Ides in the LBC" -- Yet another one of the St. Ides classic ads. Not as great as some of the Ice Cube ones, but still pretty cool for the rarity. If you're the kind of degenerate who likes these sort of things, they're all available at this site. 6/10

6. Danger Doom, "Mince Meat" -- The long-awaited combination of two of hiphop's rising stars, Danger Mouse and MF Doom, this CD was going to have a hard time living up to expectations. And it is, in fact, a bit of a letdown. 6/10

7. The Gories, "There But for the Grace of God Go I" -- The Gories were a short-lived garage-rock trio from the early '90s. This is a great example of their sound -- raw, driving, and surprisingly catchy. Hard to believe that this was originally a soul/disco hit from 1979, since it sounds so perfect in the garage-grunge mold. I guess if you distort the guitars enough, it all sounds garagish. Yes, that's a real word. Look it up. 9/10

8. The Circle Jerks, "When the Shit Hits the Fan" -- A selection from the Repo Man soundtrack. Certainly not the best song on the soundtrack, and certainly not the best Circle Jerks tune. The best part, in fact, is the title. Eh. 5/10

9. Yo La Tengo, "You Can Have It All" -- A great tune from the kings (and queen) of Hoboken's indie rock scene, taken off the excellent CD And Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out. It would be a cop out to simply refer to their music as dreamy, but then again, I'm a lazy, lazy man. 8/10

10. Willie Bobo, "Fried Neck Bones and Some Home Fries (Dan the Automator Remix)" -- A nice selection from one of the excellent Verve Remixed discs. Here, Dan the Automator (the producer best known as half of Handsome Boy Modeling School) puts a very subtle spin on a classic Latin jazz number. Great stuff. 9/10

That gives me a 7.4 average, once again placing me firmly in the C-range of coolness. Which I suppose is where the cool kids would want to be. When they're not smoking Kools beneath the bleachers, of course.

Alright, you know the drill. Drop your own random ten in the comments below, with or without the Coolness Self-Audit.

Bring it on!

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Homeless Protest Mexicans: President Fox, "What the F- Is Going On Up There?!"

ATLANTA, GA - The city that invents ways to further humiliate itself.

According to the Atlanta Journal/Constitution, at a rally held to demand deportation of illegal immigrants (shockingly hosted by a white male from the suburbs), 14 homeless people were paid $10 each to hold signs in a crowd of several dozen at the state Capitol.

Yes, they hired people who were homeless probably because the rally was in the middle of the work day and everyone with homes had jobs to attend. This kinda undercuts the "save our jobs by sending home the illegals" argument. Luckily, they were able to find like-minded homeless people. These are people who don't want their handouts shared.
King Mitchell, 28, said he he was paid $10 to hold a placard, but also personally agrees with those who want to clamp down on illegal immigration. Mitchell said he stays at the Gateway Center, an Atlanta homeless shelter.
Unfortunately, this directly contradicts Anthony-Scott "No Spin Zone" Hobbs who is the chairman of the Cobb County Republican Party and the rally's chief organizer, who (oops!) has said he had not hired anyone to attend the rally.

This is unethical and simply wrong on so many levels, I don't know where to begin. Please comment and help me figure on a scale between simple politics in action to eternal damnation -- Where does this land?

Let Me Eat Cake

If you thought your opinion of FEMA Head Mike Brown couldn't sink any lower, you were wrong.

According to newly released email messages, Brownie couldn't be bothered to listen to the initial reports of chaos and death in New Orleans because he was too busy having his dinner. Keith Olbermann has the goods here.

(As always, thanks to Crooks and Liars.)

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Otto's Book Club

Courtesy of a spirited discussion over at TBogg, I see that Time has just put out a list of the Top 100 Best Novels, limited to those written in English and published since Time's founding in 1923. (It's all about Time, apparently. Egocentric bastards.)

Anyway, the list is an interesting one, full of surprises both pleasant (Allan Moore's brilliant graphic novel, The Watchmen) and disturbing (Judy Blume's Are You There God, It's Me, Margaret?). Looking over the list, I saw a lot of my own favorites -- Robert Penn Warren's All the King's Men, Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man, George Orwell's Animal Farm, etc. -- but I mostly realized that there were a lot of books there I haven't read or, worse, only read in high school or college as part of an English class. Great novels aren't meant to be crammed into your head at 2am before the midterm, while you're hopped up on more No-Doz than a trucker blaring down I-95. They shouldn't be something you force in between the rest of your schedule, a chore to be completed as quickly as possible. If anything, it should be the other way around. Great novels should be an escape from everything else in your life, a vacation in and of itself. (And yes, I realize I sound like the Reading Is Fundamental campaign.)

Anyway, take a look at the list and drop your thoughts on what's great, what's horrid, and what's missing into the comments below.

Leo, Know the Power of "No"

Veteran rocker Leo Mazzone (Atlanta Braves pitching coach) is in talks with the New York Yankees to become their pitching coach. Mazzone is reported to be making $200,000 a year - peanuts compared to the money he generates by getting consistent pitching performance from the various "retreads" the Braves management consistently parades in front to him.

Now, Leo, I know NY is a grand place, with big city money and pretty ladies. But there is a dark side to the Yankees. You see, it's a cycle of abuse.

Every year, King George spends as he sees fit then blames everyone else when the players don't work out the way he thought (see "tension builds").

Since NY is the media capital of the world, the pressure builds and King George keeps upping the ante - questioning your manhood, your integrity, and your right to "wear the uniform." See "abuse takes place." You are a thief stealing from George. Scum. Not fit for employment with the Devil Rays!!!

So the morning after comes. Those who are part of the co-dependent cycle (see Joe Torre) try to rationalize it - excuse it - hell, they think maybe they could have done better. You see, Joe Torre knows that King George really is a nice guy, if only the rest of us would give him a shot.
"We didn't use the word love, but it was pretty warm," Torre said. "It was something more than cordial."
See "apologies, excuse, amends."

Leo, don't end up another statistic on "Cops." I don't want to see you in a tube top on TV yelling at the police for arresting George after he has beaten you to a pulp. It's not your fault. You have the power to make the right choice. You know the right answer.

The Colbert Report

After much anticipation, the Colbert Report has started churning out the love, and dear God, is it good. I'm sure the three people who watch Adam Carolla's deranged rantings will be sad to see their boy moved back in the line-up, but the Daily Show-Colbert Report combination is gold. ("Gold, Jerry! Gold!")

If you missed the premiere, the good people at Crooks and Liars have you covered. Click here for the video.

Bush League

According to the New York Daily News, President Bush long ago reprimanded Karl Rove for his involvement in the outing of Valerie Plame:
WASHINGTON - An angry President Bush rebuked chief political guru Karl Rove two years ago for his role in the Valerie Plame affair, sources told the Daily News.

"He made his displeasure known to Karl," a presidential counselor told The News. "He made his life miserable about this."

Bush has nevertheless remained doggedly loyal to Rove, who friends and even political adversaries acknowledge is the architect of the President's rise from baseball owner to leader of the free world.

As special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald nears a decision, perhaps as early as today, on whether to issue indictments in his two-year probe, Bush has already circled the wagons around Rove, whose departure would be a grievous blow to an already shell-shocked White House staff and a President in deep political trouble.

Asked if he believed indictments were forthcoming, a key Bush official said he did not know, then added: "I'm very concerned it could go very, very badly."

"Karl is fighting for his life," the official added, "but anything he did was done to help George W. Bush. The President knows that and appreciates that."

Other sources confirmed, however, that Bush was initially furious with Rove in 2003 when his deputy chief of staff conceded he had talked to the press about the Plame leak.

Bush has always known that Rove often talks with reporters anonymously and he generally approved of such contacts, one source said.

But the President felt Rove and other members of the White House damage-control team did a clumsy job in their campaign to discredit Plame's husband, Joseph Wilson, the ex-diplomat who criticized Bush's claim that Saddam Hussen tried to buy weapons-grade uranium in Niger.

A second well-placed source said some recently published reports implying Rove had deceived Bush about his involvement in the Wilson counterattack were incorrect and were leaked by White House aides trying to protect the President.

"Bush did not feel misled so much by Karl and others as believing that they handled it in a ham-handed and bush-league way," the source said.
Well, we can all agree that Turd Blossom certainly handled this in a Bush League way: Over-the-top, below-the-belt, and crude-as-hell. It's par for the course from a group that insinuated that John McCain had an out-of-wedlock baby -- and a black one, too! -- and then had the cojones to mock John Kerry's military service and play up Bush's record of keeping Texas safe from imminent Viet Cong air strikes. Balls as big as church bells, these folks have.

What's more surprising here is the suggestion that Bush knew Rove was involved from the beginning and did nothing about it, except give him one of his patented pouty scowls. Apparently, all those comments to the press -- about (a) not knowing who was involved and (b) wanting to fire whoever it was -- were just more administration bullshit.

Anyone surprised?

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Well, Rumor and Hearsay are Kinds of Evidence

With so many scandals coming down the pike -- DeLay's multiple indictments, Frist's stock snafu, and the Plame extravaganza -- conservatives are really starting to lose it. One sign of their trouble is that the rumors have started racing around Washington. Has one of Cheney's aides spilled his guts in the Plame investigation? Has a big figure like Colin Powell or Ari Fleischer sung? Things have gotten so bad that there are even rumors that Dick Cheney might soon resign. I don't put much faith in these rumors -- at least the last two -- but I do love the idea that all these crazy rumors are really out there. They show just how far the White House is off its game and just how much the Republicans are on their heels. What's more, it's fun.

I'm reminded of my favorite LBJ story, when early in his career he wanted to float rumors that his campaign opponent, a pig farmer, was a little too familiar with his livestock. "Jesus, Lyndon," the campaign manager responded. "Nobody's going to believe that." "Yeah," LBJ said, "but I want to hear the SOB deny it."

So let the rumors fly. Back during the Elian Gonzalez insanity, Peggy Noonan wondered aloud if Bill Clinton were being blackmailed by Fidel Castro for some unspeakable crime Clinton had committed. Nooners thought this stuff was wholly fair game: "Is it irresponsible to speculate? It would be irresponsible not to."

Alright, then. I just heard that Karl Rove once strangled a hobo to get an erection.

Jong-Il Communications

We tried threats, the silent treatment, bribes with food and oil - but the answer was so simple.
The isolated communist country led by movie-buff leader Kim Jong-Il hopes to
revive the fortunes of the nation's once-thriving movie business though joint
ventures with foreign producers, said Park Jun-Hee, who just completed the first
film co-production between China and North Korea, "The Secret of Rikidozan."

For those who don't know about Kim Jong-Il (Third World dictator who is 1/2 Al Davis and 1/2 Mao Tse-tung and 100% crazy), he tends to do things on his terms. For example:

Kim ordered the abduction of South Korean film director Shin Sang-Ok and his
ex-wife, actress Che Eun-Hui, in 1978. When they were shipped to North Korea,
Kim stood waiting on the dock. "You have suffered a great deal trying to come
here. I am Kim Jong-Il," according to the Shins' testimony.
So let's send Vin Diesel. He's like an Arnold without that bothersome intellect.

Virginia Guber Roundup

In a couple weeks, us commonwealthians will be picking a new governor. Our choices are Tim Kaine, the democratic Lt. Gov. and annointed successor to Gov. Mark Warner, and AG Jerry Kilgore, former president of the Charles Bronson Make a Death Wish fan club. A few months ago Kilgore had a decent lead in the polls, but that lead has slipped away. Some say it's because Tim Kaine will continue the incredibly successful policies of Warner, and some say it's because Kilgore is just kinda creepy.

Beginning two or three weeks ago, the negative ads started getting heavy rotation on our TVs (sorry, no Tivo here; I likes my TV missionary style!). The ads by Kaine say that Kilgore used to lobby for mean natural gas companies, and the ads by Kilgore say that Kaine would defend Hitler if he had the chance. As usual, the Washington Post has declared each sides' ads to be equally negative. Yeah, whatever.

Kos posted the latest Survey USA polling results, showing Kaine with 47-45 advantage. Certainly a slim margin, but I think this is the first time Kaine has passed Kilgore, so hopefully it's a trend. My greatest concern at this point is the third-party contender, Russ Potts. I figure there's about 5 or 10% of voters out there who will get into the voting booth with no idea who to pick and will say "Heh, this guy's name is Potts. Cool." The question is, will these Potts-heads be stolen from Killy's column or Kaine's?

(For more good dope on the death penalty issue in this race, check out Ed Kilgore's take on things.)

Friday, October 14, 2005

Friday Random Ten

Yes, that's right. The Addicts Sing. That's not an edgy punk name bragging about drug abuse, like "The Vein Tappers" or "David Crosby." Nope. They're actual drug addicts, putting out this sweet, sweet music as part of their recovery. And what a treat it is! Your favorite 1960s pop standards sung by a group of people fighting the shakes with regular doses of methadone. It's as good as it sounds!

I have nothing more to say about these icons of pharma-pop, so let's just move on to the Friday Random Ten. You know the drill by now, right? Give us the first ten songs that spew from your iWhatever and, if you damn well feel like it, throw in a Coolness Self-Audit as well.

Here's mine:

1. Johnny Cash, "Hurt" -- Well, I'm a big fan of all things Man in Black™, but I'd have to say his American Recordings era was one of his best. This reworking of this Nine Inch Nails song is just phenomenal. (And the video for the song is absolutely amazing as well.) A great swan song from a legend. 9/10

2. Belle & Sebastian, "My Wandering Days Are Over" -- A grooving little folk tune about an indie rocker settling down. This will take the sting off if you're in your early 30s and wandering why those damn kids won't turn it down. 8/10

3. The Clash, "White Riot" -- If you can listen to this song without the overwhelming urge to bob your head along, then you, my friend, have no heart. No heart, skip. 9/10

4. Israel Kamakawiwo'ole, "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" -- A legendary Hawaiian singer of legendary Hawaiian girth, IK passed away a couple years ago. His music is still everywhere, though, like this cover of the Wizard of Oz classic, which crops up in a television ad or "ER" episode every six minutes. Which I guess takes the coolness down a bit. 5/10

5. De La Soul with Common, "The Bizness" -- For my money, De La Soul ranks right up there with the Roots and Outkast in forming the Holy Trinity of Hip Hop. Like their colleagues, De La Soul has been putting out consistently strong CDs for a decade now, and they're only getting better. This is a great De La tune with Common along for the ride. Very nice. 8/10

6. San Francisco Seals, "Baby Blue" -- Barbara Manning? Doing a cover of a Badfinger ballad? Sold. 8/10

7. Cat Power, "The Greatest" -- This is a sneak peak from the forthcoming CD. Chan Marshall sounds great here in a song that's a little more orchestral than the past albums. Very sweet. 9/10

8. The Stanley Brothers, "(Say) Won't You Be Mine" -- I'm a sucker for good bluegrass, and these boys fit the bill. Not one of their best songs, but still some excellent harmonies. 6/10

9. Black Sabbath, "Fairies Wear Boots" -- Supposedly this is about English skinheads who were known for wearing big boots as part of their get-ups. (I'm suddenly reminded of the Bill Hicks routine about English hooligans. Heh.) Anyway, good rocking for a good cause. Or something. 6/10

10. Television, "Venus" -- Though not as well known as fellow '70s New York punk bands like the Ramones, Blondie, Talking Heads and shudder the New York Dolls, Television put out some great stuff. This is off their 1977 debut album Marquee Moon. Solid stuff. 8/10

That gives me a 7.6 average, which is good enough to be a Cabinet member of this administration. Look out, Norm Mineta! I'm coming for you!

Alright, your turn. Drop your own random ten in the comments below, with or without the Coolness Self-Audit.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Phoning It In

Courtesy of Think Progress, the laziest photo op ever.

Supporting the troops by teleconference. Awesome. I'm surprised they didn't just hand him a phone in bed.

Maybe next time they'll just Photo Shop the president into the picture and be done with it.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Like a Black Fly in Your Chardonnay

I'm not sure if ironic is the right word here.
In an ironic twist, the policy community was receptive to technical intelligence (the weapons program), where the analysis was wrong, but apparently paid little attention to intelligence on cultural and political issues (post-Saddam Iraq), where the analysis was right.

Player Haters

The right has taken regularly to dismissing our complaints about the Republicans' disastrous foreign policy record, radical economic program, and dismal domestic performance. In spite of all the, oh, facts, figures and statistics that support such a negative view of their policies, Republicans instead claim that we're simply motivated by some irrational hatred of President Bush.

You want irrational hatred? Check out this little chestnut from the National Review. It's a list of their 200 reasons why Bill Clinton had to go.

The list is stunning. Sadly, they don't provide some sort of rank their charges against Clinton, so it's hard to tell what exactly tops the list of his crimes against humanity. In their defense, though, there are just so many felonies and sins out there that they'd be impossible to rank. I mean, you tell me which of these dastardly deeds was worse -- the fact that he was a Rhodes Scholar, or the fact that he named his dog Buddy? It's hard to distinguish between these various shades of evil.

Clearly, conservatives are on the side of angels here. Nothing Bush has done is worthy of similar outrage. Lying the country into a war that costs us $177 million a day, outing a CIA operative, exhibiting corruption beyond Warren Harding's wildest dreams, putting unqualified cronies everywhere from FEMA to the Supreme Court, and proving grossly incompetent at every facet of government are simply accidents of fate.

But vacationing in the Hamptons? Encouraging a revival of Fleetwood Mac, for God's sake? These are crimes worthy of a public execution and sins that will surely damn his soul to the ninth circle of Hell. It's a wonder they only tried to impeach this evil spawn of Satan. With a list of indictments like that, they would've been wholly justified in storming the White House with torches and pitchforks.

And it would be irrational to argue otherwise.

(Thanks to Jesse at Pandagon for finding this nonsense.)

Classic Caption Contest

This one's a little bit old, but it'll do.

Have at them.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Kaine and unAbel

The Washington Post endorses Tim Kaine (D) for governor of Virginia and blasts his republican opponent, Jerry "Don't Hate Me 'Cuz I'm Beautiful" Kilgore:

That history [of supporting the 2004 tax overhaul] should make Virginia voters more confident in Mr. Kaine than in Mr. Kilgore as a potential steward of the state's finances. But it is not the end of the story. For in other budget and fiscal areas, Mr. Kilgore appears not just wrongheaded or ill-informed; in fact, he is a radical.

That's gonna hurt come winter!

(Hat-tip to Mrs. T for the title.)

Liar Liar

It's hard to keep track of all the Republican wrongdoing, but it seems two of them have just been caught lying.

First, Frist. According to the Associated Press, documents show that despite his claims to have placed all of his HCA stock in a blind trust, Frist has made tens of thousands of dollars on other HCA stock held outside the trust. This is looking worse and worse for him.

Second, Scooter. As reported in the National Journal, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Dick Cheney's Chief of Staff, failed to disclose a crucial 2003 meeting with reporter Judith Miller, in which they discussed Valerie Plame, in either of the investigations led by the FBI and Patrick FitzGerald. Since that's exactly what both investigations were looking for, this looks like obstruction of justice and it seems really likely that our boy Scooter's about to get indicted.

I'm so glad the Republicans have restored honor and integrity to our government. At this point, the only question is: Who's next?

A Fool and Your Money

With the staggering incompetency of the Bush administration becoming apparent to everyone but the most mouth-breathing Republican loyalist, it was only a matter of time before the wizards of Wall Street realized that Bush's borrow-and-spend approach to the economy was going to bring a day of recknoning.

James Cramer has the goods in his column in New York magazine:
It’s dawning on Wall Street that George W. Bush may be the first president since Lyndon B. Johnson who believes that we can have a guns-and-butter federal spending policy without creating a serious inflation spiral, if not outright government bankruptcy. At least LBJ, to his credit, believed that there were limits to profligacy and that taxes had to be raised. Not President Bush. He’s making Johnson look like a fiscal conservative, what with his insistence on waging a war in Iraq that’s costing $177 million a day and rebuilding New Orleans by taking on a monstrous load of federal debt.

For the longest time, because Bush is a Republican, we on Wall Street simply didn’t believe that he could be a reckless spender. We knew only two paradigms: You either spent less and cut taxes or you spent more and raised taxes. Both courses at least presumed some sacrifice at some time. Not Bush’s plan. He’s gone on both the biggest spending binge and the lowest taxation course in U.S. history, which, alas, will produce gigantic liabilities down the road. Of course, he’ll be back on the ranch by the time his successor will have to deal with his inflation and currency debasement. Our only hope that financial disaster won’t strike sooner lies with the Chinese, who actually fund our deficit by buying our Treasuries—$242 billion worth, or 12 percent of all foreign holdings. If the Chinese decide to be good communists and stop buying our bonds, the Feds will have to raise rates to attract new investors and the reaper will be at our doorstep with interest rates more akin to those of South than North America. Right now, it’s not a problem. But in a year or two or maybe less, I perceive that the government will throw a bond auction and nobody will show, including the Chinese, until rates shoot up dramatically.

What if that happens? What if our fiscally clueless president really does keep spending at a rate that far exceeds what our government can take in at these low tax rates? What happens if the president’s acolytes and the Pollyannas in Treasury keep believing that we can grow our way, fairy-tale-like, out of this jam? You can bet that when you cash out your nest egg of nice U.S.-based mutual funds and solid common stocks, your dollars will fit nicely into a wheelbarrow designed specifically to cart worthless currency to the bank.
Awesome. We're about a decade away from becoming a real Banana Republic. If you'll excuse me, I'm going to start hoarding gold and handguns.

(Thanks to TPM for the article.)

Plame Game

This is all over the internets, but it's worth repeating: an excellent breakdown of the Valerie Plame investigation by Hardball.

Definitely worth a look.

Damn Yankees

The Braves and Red Sox may be out of it, but at least the evil corporate Yankees are now gone too. (Yes, I live in New York and hate the Yankees. If you lived here and saw the annual outbreak of Yankees Fever every October, you would too. So many people here jump on the bandwagon at the final lap, it's pathetic.)

I also hate the Yankees because they've become another home to the philosophy that if you have enough money, you can get away with anything. As we've just seen, the unfair salary rules of Major League Baseball make it possible to buy a World Series berth, but it's never a guarantee. For example, Alex Rodriguez made over $25 million this year, and yet he came to bat in the 9th inning tonight with an anemic .143 batting average for the postseason. He promptly hit into a double play.

Nice investment. Suck it, Steinbrenner.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Bring It On

In the midst of the general liberal schadenfreude over the Massive Republican Meltdown, I've seen quite a few comments from folks who were wishing that all the scandals, cronyism and incompetence of the GOP were coming to light in an election year.

But as this article in the Washington Post makes clear, the timing is actually quite good for us:
Republican politicians in multiple states have recently decided not to run for Senate next year, stirring anxiety among Washington operatives about the effectiveness of the party's recruiting efforts and whether this signals a broader decline in GOP congressional prospects.

Prominent Republicans have passed up races in North Dakota and West Virginia, both GOP-leaning states with potentially vulnerable Democratic incumbents. Earlier, Republican recruiters on Capitol Hill and at the White House failed to lure their first choices to run in Florida, Michigan and Vermont.

.... With an unpopular war in Iraq, ethical controversies shadowing top Republicans in the House and Senate, and President Bush suffering the lowest approval ratings of his presidency, the waters look less inviting to politicians deciding whether to plunge into an election bid. Additionally, some Capitol Hill operatives complain that preoccupied senior White House officials have been less engaged in candidate recruitment than they were for the 2002 and 2004 elections. ...

Historically, Senate and House races are often won or lost in the year before the election, as a party's prospects hinge critically on whether the most capable politicians decide to invest time, money and personal pride in a competitive race. Often, this commitment takes some coaxing....

The GOP holds 55 Senate seats, but unless the political climate brightens considerably in the next few months, some strategists and analysts believe the next Senate may resemble the one after the 2002 election, when Republicans held the narrowest of majorities....

It is the NRSC's fundraising that some GOP operatives find underwhelming. At the end of August, the NRSC had raised $25 million, just a little less than its counterpart, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. But the DSCC has twice as much cash on hand, $16.7 million to the NRSC's $8.2 million....

On the House side, where Republicans hold 231 of the 435 seats, the effect of the political climate on recruiting is less clear. Democrats and Republicans can point to successes in individual races, but no clear national pattern has emerged, analysts say.

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Rahm Emanuel (Ill.) says 50 or more seats are in play and notes that his organization has recruited 40 candidates in competitive districts. His GOP counterpart, Rep. Tom Reynolds (N.Y.), says 27 to 37 seats could be close fights. "We will be a majority" after the 2006 elections, vowed the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee.
The whole article is a treat, full of positive news for different states and both Houses of Congress.

As we all know, the Democrats have a great knack for pulling defeat out of the jaws of victory. But this time should be different. For one thing, the people in charge of the midterm election campaign -- DNC Chairman Howard Dean, DSCC Chair Chuck Schumer and DCCC Chairman Rahm Emanuel -- are all willing to play hardball and are doing a good job of building the resources to do so. (Having twice as much cash on hand than the GOP for House races is a nice start.) And the current Congressional leadership is showing signs of a fight as well.

I can't stress how important the 2006 elections will be. If the Democrats can take back the House, the Senate or, in a perfect storm, both, they'll be able to do more than scream and shout at the next ridiculous act of Republican corruption or abuse of power. They'll be able to hold hearings, launch investigations, block the right-wing agenda at every turn and generally make life even more miserable for Incurious George and the Man in the Yellow Hat Orange Jumpsuit. And isn't that something we all want?

If you feel like kicking them while they're down, and helping ensure they never get back up, go ahead and contribute to the DNC.

(The Bush poster is from the excellent, by the way. It's available for purchase here, along with many many others.)

UPDATE: Over at Digby's, Tristero has a nice post about Dean's new strategy at the DNC. Very interesting.

Vengeance is Mine, Sayeth the Chairman

Remember back when the Religious Right made Arlen Specter supplicate himself before Their Might in order to keep his job as the head of the Judiciary Committee? Well, rest assured that Specter remembers it well:
(BLOOMBERG) -- Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter said he wants to know whether presidential adviser Karl Rove privately assured a conservative activist of how Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers would rule on the court.

Specter, a Pennsylvania Republican, said he will would look into a statement by James Dobson, president of the Colorado Springs, Colorado-based advocacy group Focus on the Family, that Dobson has had "conversations" with Rove about the woman nominated to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and knows things about Miers "that I probably shouldn't know."

"The Senate Judiciary Committee is entitled to know whatever the White House knew," Specter, a Pennsylvania Republican, said on ABC's This Week program. "If Dr. Dobson knows something that he shouldn't know or something that I ought to know, I'm going to find out."
It sounds like Specter might just subpoena Dobson, haul him before the Judiciary Committee and make him spill his guts. And that moment, of course, would be wonderful on so many levels.

First of all, it'd be nice to watch Specter exact a little justice of his own by making Dobson squirm under the spotlights. If you've ever seen Dobson live, you know he's always just a split second away from a screaming "No, you're out of order!" meltdown. I'm pretty sure this moment is why TiVo was invented in the first place.

Second, a showdown between Specter and Dobson would only help bring the growing civil war in the Republican Party to the forefront. It's been bubbling for a while, and with Bush, DeLay, and Frist all on the ropes, the moderates have finally seen their last shot at reclaiming the party from the people who are boldly building a bridge to the 12th Century. Anything that brings the day of reckoning closer is not only good for the country, but nicely enough, also good for the Democrats.

Third, such a confrontation would only drive the Religious Right to higher levels of lunacy. If you thought "Justice Sunday" and "Justice Sunday II: Electric Boogaloo" were fun, then stay tuned for what they pull out of the mitre hat when it's not a judge who's getting discriminated against, but one of their own leaders. It would be an event both terrifying and thrilling, like a live speech from Anna Nicole Smith.

Come on, Specter. This is clearly your last term, and possibly your last chance to strut on the stage of a Supreme Court nomination. Bring the pain!

Blew Balls

The Braves. The Atlanta Braves. 14 consecutive years to the post season. 1 world series in 1995. And yesterday, losing longest game in post season history (18 innings), after being up 6-1 in the 8th inning, after being 1 out away from winning in the 9th - hurt. It just hurt.

Many people criticize the Braves fan base for not publicly supporting the team enough by selling out the ball park in the post season, but the real fans already know how this thing ends because we watched ever damn game on TV through the year - all 162 of them. We know that this team (admittedly great) is built for a marathon, but the playoffs are a sprint.

Southerners tend to be very private people, don't like to be rude or cause a fuss. So, when you know the final answer; and you know you just want to be alone - why force yourself to be in public and put up a good front.

Next year, the Braves will be back, young team, nucleus, spring - shit, I don't know.


The Smurfs are totally smurfed.

Article here.

(via BoingBoing)

The video isn't actually that good; it's more of a slide show. It does have the ability to traumatize children, however.