Friday, March 31, 2006

Embedded Reporter - Spam Truth or Lies

Spam. Who likes it? I know I don't. But about 7 months ago, I was looking through my spam folder wondering if some good mail was caught there. I was amazed by the amount of natural enhancement ads there were.

Now, "enhancement" has been an issue with men since we evolved from amebas. There is something core about size in our animal sexuality. Before spoken language, the size of the "ambassador" was a critical determination for who was king of the pack, the leader. The alpha male, if you will.

So, how are we to choose from products? What about surgery?

Well, you ask people how they got a big penis - you will get a million different answers. But I wanted the truth. I signed up.

Over the last seven months, I have taken pills 3 times a day, applied cr̬mes every night, and applied hormone patches. Throughout all this, I documented results, contacted manufactures to expose hoaxes, but remained focused to determine for my readers Рwho can you trust with enhancement spam offers.

Pills – Generally, pills contain some assortment of Ginseng, Fo-Ti, Gotu Kola, Saw Palmetto, Damiana, Menthol, and Yohimbe. They are advertised to increase stamina, promote blood flow, and add muscle mass (particularly below the equator). In general, a good rule of thumb with medicines is double the dose for double the effect. Apparently, tripling the dose of these pills (9 before each meal) has several adverse effects not documented by the quacks that offer these pills.

It turns out - side effects included dry mouth, abdominal cramps, uncontrollable and Hulk-like rage, and constipation. Mind you, it is possible that the month long constipation led directly to the uncontrollable rage – but manufactures were cautious to speculate without legal counsel present.

Patches – The patch method is more of a hormone treatment. One website offered a year's worth of patches but after 3 months, I wasn't seeing the results. So, I did what they teach you to do in business school. I thought "outside" the box. It turns out my wife's birth control method comes in a patch. And luckily, while visiting my mother in law, she had some additional Nicoderms as well and some, I don't know, but I think it was some menopause patches. Oh, and I took some orange looking pills cause they looked like they could help the constipation with their sheer size.

Surgery – I encountered a lot of "spin" when it came to surgery. My dentist seemed to think that spam drug treatments were placebos at best, health risks at worst. After repeat visits to the dentist to determine costs of procedures and options for length and girth, I became increasingly concerned that his insistence on using Novocain alone might not numb the pain enough. And that is one place you don't want pain.

Results? Well, since I was taking everything at one, I don't know what did the trick, but something wonderful did happen. They speak for themselves. After 7 months, I'm a different man. Overall, I'm more confident in meetings because I'm thinking, "Lady, if you only knew what I was packing, you'd agree with this income statement." I'm more comfortable in telling my wife what to do because she now serves me and the Ambassador.

Don't believe me? Here is me (do not click if under 18) before enhancement and after. Now who is da man!

Running Out the Clock

Well, this is depressing:
So rapid is the rise of the US national debt, that the last four digits of a giant digital signboard counting the moving total near New York's Times Square move in seemingly random increments as they struggle to keep pace.

The national debt clock, as it is known, is a big clock. A spot-check last week showed a readout of 8.3 trillion -- or more precisely 8,310,200,545,702 -- dollars ... and counting. But it's not big enough.

Sometime in the next two years, the total amount of US government borrowing is going to break through the 10-trillion-dollar mark and, lacking space for the extra digit such a figure would require, the clock is in danger of running itself into obsolescence.
I'm starting to wonder if Bush thinks about the national debt like it's the mileage on an old Plymouth. He thinks that if he can just run it up high enough, the odometer will roll over and he'll be back at zero.

Those are Perfectly Cromulent Words

Someone out there -- perhaps a hideously deformed shut-in, perhaps someone trapped beneath something heavy -- has taken the time to compile an authoritative list of the made-up words featured on "The Simpsons."

At the risk of succumbing to knowitallism, you should check it out. By my count, there are dickety-six, groin-grabbingly good words in this list that'll embiggen your vocabulary and impress Supernintendo Chalmers.

Friday Random Ten

Although the three people who read this site when we started it last summer will recognize this cover as a repeat from one of our very first FRTs, I thought I'd trot it out for the rest of you as atonement for the "Millie Jackson Incident" of last week's FRT.

While it's not at Millie's depths of depravity, this image is wrong for so many reasons. For starters, the phrase "Tijuana Picnic" seems like something that would be used to describe a sexual and/or scatalogical act that would be illegal in thirty-eight states, and not a wholesome family outing. But even if it really is a picnic in Tijuana, a.k.a. the Happiest Place on Earth™, then what in God's name is Colonel Sanders doing there? Man, I guess it's like the old saying goes: "What happens in Tijuana, stays in Tijuana."

Anyway, with this kind of musical inspiration, it's time for the Friday Random Ten. Take out your iPod, set it on random, and spin the wheel, raggedy man! If you think you've got the stones, go ahead and include a Coolness Self-Audit. And then set aside a little quiet time for yourself. Go ahead. You deserve it.

1. Hot Chocolate, "Emma" -- A slow sultry number from the UK's greatest late '70s funk band. Yeah, that's not saying a whole lot, but this is a thing of cheesy beauty. (Hell, the lush lounge lizards of Urge Overkill covered the song and barely had to change a thing.) Sweet. 8/10

2. The Kinks, "Wicked Annabella" -- This isn't as catchy or light as some of the other songs on Village Preservation Society, such as "Picture Book" which has been used in a fairly cool HP Printer commercial. This song is, in fact, more than a little bit creepy. Eh. 4/10

3. Radiohead, "Palo Alto" -- Pretty solid work for a song that was cast off to an EP and a B-sides collection. The grungy guitars seem like a throwback to "Creep," but there's enough aural insanity thrown in there to make it fit with the late-era Radiohead. 7/10

4. Lauryn Hill, "Every Ghetto, Every City" -- Man, what the hell happened to her? This was a brilliant debut album, but she followed it up with a somewhat rambling Unplugged release and some half-hearted, where-are-they-now Fugees reunion stuff. Come back to the light, Lauryn. We miss you. 9/10

5. David Bowie, "Queen Bitch" -- Quite possibly my favorite Bowie song of all time. From the opening guitar riffs to the semipsychotic chorus, this one is everywhere you want to be, baby! 9/10

6. The Roots, "Don't Say Nuthin' (Remix)" -- This is a remix from the new Home Grown collection. The original never really did much for me, but this sparse and driving remix certainly makes it all better. 7/10

7. A Tribe Called Quest, "After Hours" -- I know this is blasphemy, but "After Hours" has always been my favorite tune off People's Instinctive Rhythms..., edging out such popular favorites as "Can I Kick It?" and "I Left My Wallet in El Segundo." It's just much smoother and cleaner, and points the way to their next, jazzier stage. And as the man says, "after hours, it was cool." Who am I to argue? 8/10

8. Luxxury, "There's Something Going On" -- I'm a sucker for cover songs of big hits, but this rendition of Frida's disco classic just doesn't do it. The group sounds like a Human League tribute band, one that needs to be told to limit it to six synthesizers or less, or else pack it in. Ugh. 2/10

9. Sly and the Family Stone, "Dance to the Medley" -- This is a 12-minute tour-de-funk by a band that was one of America's greatest contributions to the world, right up there with Silly Putty and the atomic bomb. They could've cut this up into three distinct and distinctly great songs, but kept it instead as a killer funk masterpiece. 10/10

10. MC Chris, "DQ Blizzard" -- While I have nothing but respect from the genius who brought us "Fett's Vette" and the Aqua Teen Hunger Force character of MC Pee Pants, this isn't his finest work. 5/10

Alright, that gives me a 6.9 average on the coolness scale. While the hipster in me is saddened to score so low, the fourteen-year-old in me is giggling at the number. Which should probably lower it even more. Dammit.

Let's see what you've got this week. Give us your own random ten, with or without the coolness self-audit. And please note, we've recently enabled anonymous comments for the site, so now you can be coolly anonymous, just like the Unknown Comic!

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Blue Wave

Last month, we reported on the Survey USA state-by-state polls that revealed that President Bush had a positive approval number in just six states in the Union.

Well, the new numbers are out, and the picture's gotten even worse for C-Plus Augustus. Now, Bush is above 50% in just three states -- Utah, Wyoming, and Alabama -- and those numbers are 55%, 52%, and 51% respectively. Just check out the map to the right to get a sense of how bad things are looking for the president.

As I said last time, it's looking like Bush just may wind up uniting the country after all. For all our differences, we're all starting to agree on one important thing. He sucks as a president.

(Thanks to Kos for the link and the map.)

Let's All Go to the Lobby

Screenwriter and general funnyman John Rogers of Kung Fu Monkey has posted a new screed in which he offers a solution to one of the greatest threats to Western civilization: the decline of the movie theater experience:
Theater attendance down 9% ... what to do, what to do ... how, they wail, how do we get people to go back to the movie theaters? Digital tech, bigger seats -- what?

This sort of clueless shit just reinforces the obvious truth that the people who run movie theater chains don't actually see movies in movie theaters. Because I will tell you right now, right here, how to get people to go back to seeing movies in theaters. Without disruptive technology. Without theater upgrades. All for, oh, $4.65 an hour per screen.

I will now save your industry:

Hire. Fucking. USHERS.
It only gets better from there, and the comments are almost as good. Check out the whole thing.

Not to go off on a rambling, old coot, Grandpa Simpson rant about the good old days -- "the important thing was that I had an onion on my belt, which was the style at the time..." -- but theater ushers were for decades a vital part of keeping the piece in the movie theater. Armed with nothing more than a flashlight and a determination to keep 16-year-olds out of Basic Instinct, these red velvet warriors walked the thin carpeted line between the pleasant theater experience of yesteryear and the "Lord of the Flies"-themed camps for criminally retarded man-children that we suffer through today.

So let me echo the words of John Rogers, in a voice louder than any mid-movie cell phone call: "Hire. Fucking. USHERS."

And while you're at it, bring back the old "Let's All Go to the Lobby" concessions song. Malibu Stacy loves that.


Anyone else remember a few years ago when one of the world's major concerns was the preservation of the priceless knowledge contained within the historic sites of Iraq? Wonder how that's going.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Caption Contest

You know what to do. Bring it.

Overdue Liberian Gets Booked

Good news from Africa?

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone, March 29 - A day after his evident escape, Nigerian police arrested the former Liberian warlord and president Charles G. Taylor today as he tried to cross into Cameroon, according to Nigerian officials.

"The fact that Charles Taylor will be brought to justice in a court of law will help Liberia and is a signal, Mr. President, of your deep desire for there to be peace in your neighborhood," Mr. Bush told Mr. Obasanjo (Nigerian President) in the Oval Office.
This is a remarkable turn about from yesterday where Nigeria'sofficiall statement was "we never said we were in charge of the war criminal we offered haven to."

For those who can't get enough genocide in their news, this week's Frontline had an interesting piece called "The Men Who Got Away." Former Bosnian Serb President Radovan Karadzic and his top general Ratko Mladic -- are still at large; and no one (NATO, Serbs, Croats) is interested in trying to find them. The NATO head sounded a lot like Chief Wiggum defending his complete inability to uphold the law.

Interesting fact from the civilian carnage in Srebrenica - the UN camp was protected by Dutch UN Troops. When told to hand over the civilians, they did - without a shot fired. 7,000 men and boys were killed. Not to sound like everyone else criticizing the press, but shouldn't the UN failure have been a story - somewhere?

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Altar Call

Guess who's coming to dinner?
LYNCHBURG, Va. — American military hero and Arizona Sen. John McCain will deliver the Commencement message at Liberty University on May 13, at 9:30 a.m., in the Liberty University Vines Center. In addition, renowned Christian conservative leader Gary Bauer will speak during the University’s baccalaureate service on May 12, at 7:00 p.m., in the main sanctuary of the Thomas Road Baptist Church. ....

While Sen. McCain and Liberty University Chancellor Jerry Falwell have had their share of political differences through the years, the two men share a common respect for each other and have become good friends in their efforts to preserve what they see as common values. This will mark his first ever appearance at Liberty University.
Boy, that's some nice How Would Jesus Spin there.

"Political differences?" Back in February 2000 when he was seeking the Republican nomination, McCain denounced Falwell -- along with his friend the hurricane mover and assassination enthusiast Pat Robertson -- as "agents of intolerance" on the religious right. Not only that, but he compared those two to Louis Farrakhan and Al Sharpton, which to conservatives is akin to comparing them to a gay communist pederast.

This wasn't an off-the-cuff slip. A few weeks later, McCain delivered a broadside to the divisiveness of the Religious Right: "The politics of division and slander are not our values," he said. "They are corrupting influences on religion and politics and those who practice them in the name of religion or in the name of the Republican Party or in the name of America shame our faith, our party and our country."

I was impressed by those words and thought McCain was a man of principle. Heck, I even crossed over to vote for the guy in the Republican primary because he seemed to possess a rare quality in the modern GOP -- sanity. But now that McCain is positioning himself for the GOP nomination, he's decided to flip-flop and cast his lot with the Mayberry Mullahs.

It's a craven political move, and one that should badly tarnish McCain's carefully crafted images as both a "maverick" and an independent. A maverick doesn't jump through the hoops in Falwell's fiefdom, and an independent doesn't give a stamp of support to the guiding forces of the party's theocratic wing. It's been coming for a while, I suppose. He's been spooning with Bush for years now and now it's time for him to start cuddling up to Falwell too. And, it seems, the elfin magic of Gary Bauer at the same time. Sweet!

The oddest thing about all this is that it seems like political suicide. The Religious Right has lots of other candidates they'll rally around this next election -- Brownback, Frist, Allen, etc. -- and they won't rush to McCain unless he first outflanks them elsewhere in the primaries and emerges as a front-runner. But if he's puckering up for Pat Robertson, his outsider image won't work, and he'll never get there. What gives?

(Thanks to Josh Marshall for the Liberty announcement.)

Update: I swear I hadn't seen this when I scribbled this post from my undisclosed location, but the excellent E. J. Dionne is sounding the same themes in his latest column:
it's a more dangerous strategy than it seems. McCain's central appeal, even to people who disagree with him, has always been his willingness to do the nonpolitical thing -- for example, to defend Kerry that day in 2004 simply because he thought the attacks on Kerry were wrong.

If McCain spends the next two years obviously positioning himself to win Republican primary votes, he will start to look like just another politician. Once lost, a maverick's image is hard to earn back.
Woohoo! I am so smart! S-M-R-T!

Monday, March 27, 2006

Bored George

Say what you will about the D.C. Democrats, but every now and then they get one right. Check out the DSCC's tongue-in-cheek smack at Republican Senator George Allen. Well played.

(Via Atrios.)

Sunday, March 26, 2006


According to the Washington Post's Conservative Blogger of the Week, Ben Domenech, the craptacular '80s flick Red Dawn was one of the greatest conservative movies of all time.

Unless Ben is a communist as well as a serial plagiarist, I'm assuming he'd agree that the absolute greatest conservative film was D.C. 9/11, the movie where President George W. Bush rips his shirt open, flexes his Pectorals-in-Chief, and screams "If some tinhorn terrorist wants me, tell him to come and get me!"

But I digress. Leaving aside D.C. 9/11 -- as well as its intriguing prequel D.C. Cab -- the campy flick Red Dawn stands as a conservative wet dream. And if you doubt its campiness, just click on the poster to the right here and take a closer, creepier look.

As anyone who's watched more than five minutes of late night HBO can tell you, Red Dawn is sort of a reimagining of the Cold War where the Soviet Union is brought to its knees by the Breakfast Club. (Implausible? Not when you realize that conservatives also believe that Ronald Reagan saying "Tear down this wall" was what really brought down the Berlin Wall. Apparently, we just had to ask!)

Anyway, if you're not familiar with the film, there's a hilarious review over at World O'Crap. And if you are familiar with it, feel free to use the comments to weigh in on the eternal debate over who delivered a finer acting performance in the film -- Patrick Swayze, C. Thomas Howell, or the truck radiator they pissed in. Hard to tell.

Correcting The Politically Correct

Question: When did being "politically correct" become synonymous with being "liberal" which had become synonymous with "Democrat"?

I don't have an answer for when it officially happened, but I think it occurred during the current Bush administration. If you listen to conservative political commentators, criticisms of political correctness seems to be often used as some kind of political spin / "Hail Mary" move. Education policy in shambles? Iraqi done broke? Russia passing out US military secrets? Well, Mexicans are flooding the borders. Oh, can I call them Mexicans? Or will that offend the establishment. You know - those elitists who are in control. Deaf to the world. Oh, of course, I have to call them "hearing impaired." Aren't they short sighted? I mean “vertically challenged” in their vision. (Chuckle and go to commercial.)

It falls nicely in line with the GOP party line that they support individual rights. And good for them; since God knows, they seem to f*ck everything else up.

Oddly, most Democrats I know are far from politically correct. They don't take themselves too seriously, make off-color jokes, and generally enjoy offending those who are looking to be offended. Of course, there are pockets of people within the Democratic Party who truly lose sleep over the issue (and I avoid them like the plague at fundraisers); but I notice that the GOP offers pockets of support just as dedicated to language and its need to be some kind of moral/ethical guide to the world. See outrage over content on TV; Ten Commandments in government; "In God We Trust"; forced Pledge of Allegiance in schools, etc.

Yes, the pen is mightier than the sword -- let's just remember both sides have people with too much time on their hands and the need to focus outrage outside of themselves for whatever reason. We shouldn't let some bad apples get in the way of actually (1) balancing the budget, (2) protecting Americans at home, and (3) ensuring our children will inherit a better America than we found it. (Fade to flag in the wind and cue music. Roll commercial for debt consolidation....)

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Caption Contest

Too good to be true. Have at it.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Welfare States

Via Carpetbagger, the fiscal year 2004 federal tax burden report from the Tax Foundation is out. The map (click on it to see a larger image) shows how much federal money a state gets for each dollar it sends to Washington.

Next time Ted "baby made a boom boom" Stevens whines about not getting enough money for his various pet projects, I'm going to send him this map and tell him to cram it with walnuts, ugly.

(Yes, this post's main purpose is to push that Millie Jackson album cover down the page. Great googa mooga, Otto Man, the humanity!)

389 x 989 = A very large number

There have been many Thunderdome-style battles in the public school systems of Southeastern states seeing who can emerge the most Blaster-y. Arkansas seems to be racing to the bottom.
Teachers at his facility are forbidden to use the “e-word” (evolution)
with the kids. They are permitted to use the word “adaptation” but only to refer to a current characteristic of an organism, not as a product of evolutionary change via natural selection. They cannot even use the term “natural selection.” Bob feared that not being able to use evolutionary terms and ideas to answer his students’ questions would lead to reinforcement of their misconceptions.

But Bob’s personal issue was more specific, and the prohibition more insidious. In his words, “I am instructed NOT to use hard numbers when telling kids how old rocks are. I am supposed to say that these rocks are VERY VERY OLD ... but I am NOT to say that these rocks are thought to be about 300 million years old.”

Friday Random Ten

I've been holding back on using this album cover for a long, long while, but I can't hide its true awfulness any longer. I apologize if you're checking the blog over your lunch break.

Leaving aside the aesthetic appeal of watching Millie Jackson drop the kids off at the pool -- an action that may or may not wind up having Elvis-like consequences -- you've got to question the decision to come right out and refer to her own music as "the shit." I'm sure she meant it in the jive slang of "this is the shit!" but I'm wagering that most listeners would drop that "the" from that sentence when passing judgment on this craptacular album.

Speaking of the shit, it's time for another Friday Random Ten!

You all know the drill. Crank up your iTunes, set it to random, and give us the first ten songs that tumble out. If, like Millie Jackson, you'd like to give it your all, go ahead and throw in a Coolness Self Audit as well.

Here's mine:

1. Lee Dorsey, "Yes We Can Can" -- Incredibly funky '60s New Orleans soul from one of its lesser-known masters. A perfect creole blend of guitar, organ, horns and, if I'm not mistaken, cayenne seasoning. Plus, of course, Dorsey's infectious vocals. Excellent stuff. 9/10

2. Jurassic 5, "Twelve" -- A fairly decent track from Quality Control, but not exactly their best work in terms of either beats or rhymes. "One, two, Jurassic Crew / What we bout to do, brothers have no clue." Come on, boys. You're better than that. 6/10

3. Creation, "Making Time" -- Why yes, I do own the Rushmore soundtrack. Not exactly rare, but still some excellent British psychedelic prog rock. I believe this was their first and best single. 8/10

4. EPMD, "Crossover" -- For a hiphop group who framed most of their albums around a Stringer Bell-like business model -- Strictly Business, Unfinished Business, Business As Usual and Business Never Personal -- it's a little ironic to hear them talking here about other acts being sellouts looking just to the business side of things. Still, it's a great track and highlights Erick Sermon in his prime. 8/10

5. The Gourds, "Miss You" -- An encore track from their 3-CD live recording at the Bluegrass Inn in Nashvegas. Not as mind-blowingly brilliant as the other cover here (Snoop Dogg's "Gin 'n' Juice"), this is still an inventive one. The accordian intro makes you wish the Stones had done it that way too. 7/10

6. Loretta Lynn, "Out of My Head and Back in My Bed" -- Occasionally, Loretta Lynn veers into Lurleen Lumpkin territory, but this is a nice jaunty country number about stalking an ex-lover. Some nice classic country. 7/10

7. Slick Rick, "It's a Boy (Large Professor Remix)" -- Looks like it's Old School Day here at the FRT. This is a spare remix of a classic Slick Rick tune. With the music stripped down to a drum beat and a little bit of vibes, you get to bask in the beauty of Slick Rick's silky smooth rhymes. Very nice. 9/10

8. Milton Mapes, "Lonesome Town" -- I won't say this too often, so let me say it now. I like the Ricky Nelson version much better. 4/10

9. The Gruesomes, "Way Down Below" -- On first listen, this sounds like some undistinguished mid-'60s garage rock, but these guys were a short-lived group from the mid-'80s. Still undistinguished, though. 3/10

10. Nina Simone, "Black is the Color of My True Love's Hair (Jaffa Remix)" -- A very nice remix of the Nina Simone classic, courtesy of one of the excellent Verve Remixed CDs. It's hard to improve on the original, but this remix does it. 9/10

After a strong start, I managed to stumble badly at the end there. Still, that gives me a 7.0 average, yet another in a long string of mildly mediocre ratings on the Coolness Scale. I like to think of it as my own personal crusade to revive the noble tradition of the Gentleman's C. Or maybe I'm just lazy. You decide.

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

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Embedded Reporter - Baptist Church Pool Update #2

Any non-paid, under-qualified journalist like myself can tell you- you take risks to get the story the people need to hear. This story almost broke me. But with a powerful dose of last night's South Park, I can talk about "the incident."

Fans of know from previous reports, I am swimming among elderly Baptists in an attempt to control work related stress. Normally, things I see make me glad I'm nearsighted so everything is fuzzy in the pool. But I wasn't prepared for the locker room!

I entered the gym looking forward to a work out; when I got to the locker room a guy with a Dartmouth sweatshirt was having trouble with the pass code to open the door. I helped him with it and we walked in the locker room.

I looked up to see an elderly naked man sitting on the bench. Not a towel for miles. While this was disturbing, it was not as disturbing as his naked elderly friend standing next to him.

He wasn't just standing - he was actually straddling a floor fan like he was riding an imaginary bull. Apparently, he REALLY needed to dry his nut sack. There they were, like two vine ripened prunes swaying in the massive gust from the floor fan. And, he was standing on his tip toes - I know not why.

It was then that I noticed the breeze on my face from the fan. I quickly remembered biology class on skin cells and realized that, yup, that gentle breeze has an undeniable trace of old man sack.

Oh, apparently, I was interrupting because I got a look from both men that "how dare I stare / pervert" - but he still kept on standing over the fan for another minute or so.

As I found an empty locker on the far side of the fan, I commented to the guy that came in with me that I may require around the clock counseling to get over the event. He just sat on the bench rocking quietly.

Aliens: We're Here, We're Queer, Now Take Us To Your Leaders

Mrs. Thrillhous and I were doing our usual Metro commute this morning, when I spied the front page of some guy's Washington Post. (Yes, I'm the ass who's trying to grab some news for free, while you had to fork over a whopping $0.35 for it.)

Note to terrorists: dressing up like Spielberg aliens wearing French berets will not strike fear in the hearts of your enemies.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Love That God

Blogger and I were having some serious disagreements yesterday, so I didn't get to post on the Bible class in Georgia ye ol' Carpetbagger highlighted:
. . . The legislation, which passed 151-7, would allow high schools to form elective courses on the history and literature of the Old Testament and New Testament eras. The classes would focus on the law, morals, values and culture of the eras.
As the Carpetbagger notes, this sounds like a recipe for lawsuits from both church-state separatists and Bible literalists. This could be a shotgun waiting to go off in someone's face.

Still, I think it's a great idea. I think a problem with some of our more overzealous religious types is that they have gotten away from the Bible, meaning that they overemphasize some small parts and disregard big chunks, and I'm not talking about all that "begat" filler. Actually having to read entire chapters of books, if not entire books, of the Bible could be more educational than the legislators intend.

Obviously the focus would be on the religious and moral implications of the Bible, but the Bible is absolutely fascinating from a literary perspective. The Gospel of Mark happens to be my single all-time favorite piece of writing. Just gimme Mark and you can keep all of Paul's noise - not to mention the acid-flashback Revelations nonsense.

Happy Returns

I think the administration has figured out how to pay down their $9,000,000,000,000 credit card limit -- by selling tax returns to whoever wants to buy them!

I know these guys have great faith in the marketplace, but isn't this a bit much?

Update: On closer reading of the article, it seems that Uncle Sam won't get a dime from the sale of tax returns, but rather the people who prepare taxes will be able to cash in. So, no debt relief for you. Sorry.

At least Barack Obama is saying something about it.
Criticism also came from U.S. Sen. Barack Obama (D., Ill.). In a letter last Tuesday to IRS Commissioner Mark Everson, Obama warned that once in the hands of third parties, tax information could be resold and handled under even looser rules than the IRS sets, increasing consumers' vulnerability to identity theft and other risks.

"There is no more sensitive information than a taxpayer's return, and the IRS's proposal to allow these returns to be sold to third-party marketers and database brokers is deeply troubling," Obama wrote.
How's this for a winning campaign issue: The party who is against identity theft.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Take A Deep Breath

Now, I-Rod and T'hous, I need for you to sit down and relax.

Then, click.

The Never-Ending War Story

The president's press conference this morning contained a surprising little gem about the future of American involvement in Iraq:
REPORTER: Will there come a day, and I’m not asking you when — I’m not asking for a timetable — will there come a day when there will be no more American forces in Iraq?

BUSH: That, of course, is an objective, and that will be decided by future presidents and future governments of Iraq.
In other words, he's leaving office before the troops are leaving Iraq. That means the recent third anniversary of the invasion was -- at the earliest -- the halfway point in America's involvement there.

To quote the comedian David Cross, "Look, I was against the war in Iraq when it began, I'm against the war today, and I'll still be against the war for the next, oh, ten or twelve years we're gonna be there."

Worst President Ever?

There's been a lot of discussion in the blogosphere lately about whether or not George W. Bush will go down in history as the worst president this country has ever had.

Unless you've spent the last five years in a wonderful waking coma, you're well familiar with the president's long record of incompetence, corruption, cronyism, and criminality. Even if you completely agree with his goals, it's hard to find anything that's gone right on his watch. I'm pretty sure even the T-Ball Field he established on the White House lawn was built on top of an Indian burial ground.

Since we're all familiar with the record of King Midas in Reverse, let's consider the competition.

In terms of incompetence, you've got to look to James Buchanan as the gold standard, since he basically sat on his hands as the country drifted steadily towards civil war. And the guy on the other side of Lincoln, Andrew Johnson, is pretty close, though his meddling in Reconstruction was a deliberate act of assclownery and not exactly incompetence. Still, he did get impeached for it.

In terms of corruption and cronyism, the administrations of Ulysses S. Grant and Warren Harding are both at the top of the list. Harding surrounded himself with old friends with no qualifications for office, and his term ended with several officials imprisoned (including the first Cabinet Secretary to go to prison) and several more committing suicide to avoid prosecution. Grant was about as bad, but in his defense, he was pretty well snockered most of the time.

In terms of criminality, Harding's back in the mix, since his attorney general did a flourishing business in graft, kickbacks, bribes, etc., and only escaped prosecution by burning all his files. Richard Nixon is in there, too, of course, given the crimes underlying Watergate and his direct involvement in the cover-up. (Conservatives would likely point to Bill Clinton here, but there's much more smoke than fire there. For all the hand-wringing over Whitewater, Travel Office, FBI files, Monica Lewinsky, Bruce Babbit, and the Michael Espy investigations, those "scandals" resulted in zero convictions. Compare that to the 32 convictions of Reagan administration for Iran-Contra, the HUD scandal, and illegal lobbying.)

What ultimately might push Bush to the forefront is the fact that he makes a strong showing in each of these three categories. Incompetence? Look no further than the failure to take the pre-9/11 warnings seriously, the stunning lack of planning for post-invasion Iraq, the botched response to Hurricane Katrina, and the bungling of everything from the Medicare prescription rollout to No Child Left Behind. Corruption? The no-bid contracts to Halliburton, the payments to Armstrong Williams, Maggie Gallagher and company for positive coverage, etc. etc. Cronyism? Harriet Miers, Michael Brown, and countless other hacks. Criminality? Scooter Libby, Claude Allen, and a president who brags about breaking the law and promises to do it again. And there's so much more. (Seriously, check out the Americablog link above -- over 1200 comments so far listing the administration's scandals and mistakes.)

I know Bush thinks that history will vindicate him, but I think the further we get from his administration, the worse it'll look. Not just in terms of the ramifications of his smashing-the-beehive approach to foreign policy, but more importantly in terms of the ways in which he's gutted this country's infrastructure, weakened the military, chased away competent officials from all branches of government, and set us up for a fiscal reckoning that could be truly catastrophic. Plus, he's got three more years on the job to do even worse.

So, yeah, I think he's got a decent shot at winning this thing. What do you think?

Monday, March 20, 2006

The Republican War on Science

If you missed the "60 Minutes" segment this Sunday on the White House's campaign of censorship against climate scientists working for the government, the clip is available, as always, at Crooks and Liars.

I don't know what's more disturbing -- the dire conclusions of our top climatologists about the real dangers of global warming, or the chilling efforts of the White House to once again ignore those inconvenient facts and press ahead with their own predetermined conclusions.

Class Warfare

In a new column, E.J. Dionne takes note of an interesting new study on the nature of "class warfare" in modern politics. Worth a look.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Caption Contest

I'm too preoccupied with March Madness to come up with anything substantial today, so it's time to go to the well one more time with yet another damned caption contest.

Release the hounds!

Saturday, March 18, 2006

The Emperor Has No Argument

If you've ever watched George W. Bush try to wrestle the English language to the ground and make it cry uncle, you're familiar with his habit of crafting one straw man after another for him to boldly do battle with. (I guess when your own arguments are ridiculous and idiotic, the only way to make them look smarter is to make up something that looks even stupider by comparison.)

Thankfully, it's gotten so bad lately that even the reporters have had enough. Here's a new piece by the Associated Press:
WASHINGTON - "Some look at the challenges in Iraq and conclude that the war is lost and not worth another dime or another day," President Bush said recently.

Another time he said, "Some say that if you're Muslim you can't be free."

"There are some really decent people," the president said earlier this year, "who believe that the federal government ought to be the decider of health care ... for all people."

Of course, hardly anyone in mainstream political debate has made such assertions.

When the president starts a sentence with "some say" or offers up what "some in Washington" believe, as he is doing more often these days, a rhetorical retort almost assuredly follows.

The device usually is code for Democrats or other White House opponents. In describing what they advocate, Bush often omits an important nuance or substitutes an extreme stance that bears little resemblance to their actual position.

He typically then says he "strongly disagrees" — conveniently knocking down a straw man of his own making.
Well, it's about time someone in the press pointed out that the Chimperor has no argument. The whole piece is worth a read, and full of other examples. I'm sure there are many more.

I can't count the number of times during the last campaign I saw him do this and waited for a reporter -- or even Kerry in the debates -- to simply respond, "Who says that? You just claimed people are making this argument. Who? Come on, if you're not making this up and deceiving us, surely you have someone specific in mind. You're a bold leader, so what are you afraid of? Call them out by name!"

You know, some people say this president is an embarrassment, an incompetent, and a man destined to sit alongside James Buchanan as the Worst President Ever. I strongly agree with that claim.

The Madness of King George

According to a forthcoming piece in U.S. News & World Report, the Bush administration's contempt for the Constitution extends well beyond conducting warrantless wiretaps, as illegal as that is. Apparently, they argued early on that the president also had the right to conduct warrantless physical searches of the homes and offices of anybody they chose. They asserted that the president had the inherent right to break into anyone's home or anyone's office, whenever he wanted, on whatever whim he felt, with no obligation to show just cause or explain his reasons before a court of law -- not even after the fact, as FISA allowed with wiretapping.

The utter contempt for the Constitution here -- specifically, the entire Fourth Amendment -- is just staggering. As law professor Jonathan Turley notes in this appearance on Keith Olbermann's show, the Bush administration "treats the Constitution as some kind of legal technicality, instead of the thing we're fighting to protect."

According to these yokels, we have to destroy America in order to save it.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Web Gems

You all appear entirely too productive. I have the cure. I have found a website (CinemaNow) with free movies. No, they are not good; but something to explore.

For example, "Miss Cast Away and the Island Girls - Guest star Michael Jackson."

Here is a little more: The comedic story of "Miss Cast Away" takes off like a 747 when a plane load of beauty contestants are transported from the United States to Japan for the Miss Galaxy Pageant. Unfortunately, the flight goes awry when the plane goes off course and crash lands on a deserted island. This in-your-face comedy......AND . . . in a rare and unique film appearance, pop superstar MICHAEL JACKSON is featured as secret Agent M.J. who's sent in a beam of light to help guide the castaways to their ultimate rescue.

Also in the mix:

Peter Rottentail (NR) "On a dark and stormy night, Peter Rottentail was born. Part man, part rabbit... all evil. James and Lenny thought they were fixing up a relatives newly purchased house but what they got was a weekend of horrors!

Sorority Girl's Revenge (NR) Two guys and their dog are hiding out at this desert sorority retreat when it's suddenly invaded by four cute sorority pledges, sent there by their mean, but foxy, pledgemaster. Of course, they guys peek! And, of course, they get caught

Scent of Vengeance (NR) When the army slaughters a village of innocent civilians, in retaliation for them having burned their oil operations, Jesse is forced to choose between justice, his job, and the woman he loves.
Starring: James Brolin,

Say "Hello" To My Little Friend

With a certain recent merger directly impacting my job, there has been a new level of stress in my life. So, I have taken up swimming at the local Baptist church. While I'm not Baptist, they do, as a rule, understand the value of a good swim.

Yesterday, I was able to swim a mile without stopping. I slowly pulled myself from the pool; went to the men's locker room and hopped into the shower. The showers are just a big room with about 15 shower heads, no privacy. So I was happy to see it empty and went about shampooing my hair.

When I washed the shampoo from my eyes, there was a fully clothed man next to me carrying a massive toolbox with a hard hat on. He then said "I speak very good English" and smiled proudly. "That's good," I replied wondering what kind of bizarro world had I teleported to. I quickly left trying to determine what exactly had occurred.

No, there is no point to the story. I just had to share. I still don't know if I should feel violated. I do know I craved a cigarette and listened to Patsy Cline while driving home.

FRT: Special St. Patty's Edition

In honor of this most holy day, we decided to turn on Smittyvision and give you double posts (actually, there's something up with blogger; I'm guessing they're still recovering from the Syracuse loss). Too bad there's not a "blurry" font. Here is Otto Man's original FRT in all its gospel-hating glory. Comment like the wind!

Hmmm. "Have Gospel, Must Travel." Notice that it's not the traditional "Will Travel," but rather "Must Travel," like they're a pair of Jehovah's Witnesses getting chased away from the front door of a trailer with a 12-gauge shotgun and a brusque invitation to "meet Jesus raht now!"

Well, God willing, the Good Twins have some kind of superpowers to fight back in the name of the Lord. (And I mean real superpowers, not the turning-into-a-bucket-of-water "powers" that the special ed Wonder Twins had.) If not, they're going to be walking the earth like Kane for a long, long time.


Time for the Friday Random Ten. Take out your iThingy, set it on random, and give us the first ten songs that fall out. No skipping the shame, my friends. Be honest. And, if you're feeling self-exploratory, throw in a Coolness Self Audit as well.

Let's do this thing!

1. Undertow Orchestra, "Closing Down My House" -- You'd think that a supergroup of David Bazan, Vic Chesnutt, Mark Eitzel and Will Johnson would have the potential of becoming a weak, alternative version of the Traveling Wilburys, but this is surprisingly good. A live track from an appearance at the 40 Watt in Athens. 8/10

2. Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin, "House Fire" -- This group apparently heeded Principal Skinner's advice: "We need a name that sounds witty at first, but gets less and less funny the more times you hear it." It's a shame about the band name, because this is some nice acoustic alternapop with a catchy hook. 7/10

3. Man ... or Astro-Man?, "Curious Constructs" -- This band is easily the coolest thing to come out of Auburn, Alabama, since Bo Jackson. Surfabilly insanity with a stage show that puts the weirdness of the music to shame. This isn't one of my favorites, though. A little plodding. 5/10

4. Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli, "Swing '39" -- I recently learned that Reinhardt had no use in the pinky and ring fingers on his strumming hand, which makes his status as the greatest guitarist of all time even more mind-boggling. This is a mellow number with his occasional partner, the violinist Stephane Grappelli. Sweet morning music. 7/10

5. Mudhoney, "In 'n' Out of Grace" -- Every time I hear this song, I'm reminded of a college roommate who would crack open a Pabst Blue Ribbon during the opening monologue (from the excellent Corman biker film "Wild Angels") and chug the entire can during the drum intro that followed. That man is now an accountant. 9/10

6. KISS, "Detroit Rock City" -- Hey, hey! Looks like we're going to double down on some rawk. As a former sticker-wearing member of the KISS Army, I've got to follow the orders that Paul, Gene, and Ace lay down here. But not Peter Criss. After "Beth," he was dead to me. 7/10

7. The Jimi Hendrix Experience, "I Was Made to Love Her" -- Trifecta! This is a live instrumental from a BBC performance. Pretty damn cool. 8/10

8. Beck, "Deadweight" -- Another great soundtrack for a horrible film, this time A Life Less Ordinary. Catchy as hell, this is probably one of my favorite songs by my favorite Scientologist. 9/10

9. Lambchop, "New Cobweb Summer" -- I normally love Lambchop, but this song lacks the winking irony that made the Nixon album great. Instead, it just comes off like a Leonard Cohen cover singer. Eh. 3/10

10. Afro Blues Quintet Plus One, "La La La La La" -- Two minutes of flute-filled, vibraphone-driven hand-clapping soul. I'm not sure, but I think you're supposed to snap your approval of this one, daddy-o. 7/10

Alright, that gives me a 7.1 average. Once again, as part of the MTV Generation, I apparently feel neither highs nor lows.

Think you can do better? Drop your own random ten in the comments below, with or without accounting for your coolness or lack thereof.

Bring. It. On.

Update: If this is your first visit to this blog today, two things are true: 1) you didn't see that we had two corrupted copies of the FRT up; 2) you aren't spending nearly enough time here and we will hate you forever.

Thursday, March 16, 2006


Apparently, Jessica Simpson has refused to visit the White House for fears of politicizing her charity.

For some reason, I'm reminded that during the last ill-fated war faced by this country, Lyndon Johnson's White House was similarly snubbed by such literary giants as Arthur Miller and Robert Lowell.

Looks like once again a wartime administration has been dismissed by its intellectual superiors.

(Link and snark correction courtesy of tehl4m3.)

March Madness

The Boston College-Pacific game just ended after two overtimes of thrilling action. We saw nothing but razzle-dazzle there today, with Globetrotter slam dunks, a barrage of three-point shots, three visits from Morganna the Kissing Bandit, and the surprising return of Lew Alcindor! Wow.

Consider this an open thread for all things March Madness.

Making Censure

According to a new poll by American Research Group, voters support the idea of censuring President Bush over the illegal warrantless wiretapping by a margin of 48%-43%. As Kevin Drum notes, the most surprising bit here is the fact that even 29% of Republicans support censure.

Let that sink in. 29% of Republican voters support the idea, while about 7% of Democratic senators do.

Update: From Kos, I'm proud to report that Sen. Feingold is rubbing these polls in the faces of the press:
FEINGOLD: It seems to me appropriate, when the spin machines are out there and people are using various language, to come out and reiterate my reasons for doing this.

I think that the press decided immediately that somehow this was a bad thing for Democrats and a good thing for conservatives. The facts don't bear it out. You don't have the polls to prove it. The way my colleagues are responding to me suggests to me they're thinking about this, that they feel that there has to be some accountability.
They're thinking about this, waiting to see what their constituents think. Be sure to give your senators a call and urge them to grow a spine. You can find the direct number for every senator's office here.

Happy Anniversary!

Looks like we've decided to celebrate the third anniversary of Operation Never-Ending War Story with a recreation of how it all began:
The U.S. military said on Thursday it launched its biggest air offensive in Iraq since the 2003 invasion to root out insurgents near a town where recent violence raised fears of civil war.

A military statement said the operation involving more than 50 aircraft and 1,500 Iraqi and U.S. troops as well as 200 tactical vehicles targeted suspected insurgents operating near the town of Samarra, 100 km (60 miles) north of Baghdad.

The statement said "Operation Swarmer" was launched on Thursday morning and is "expected to continue for several days as a thorough search of the objective area is conducted."
Uh, "Operation Swarmer"? Is this somehow a tribute to this lousy Smarch weather?

Caption Contest

Yes, time for another damn caption contest.

I can't help myself. He's like a sore tooth I can't stop touchin'!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


This was my first experience with Paul Hackett. Looks to me like the Dems really screwed the pooch on this one.

Kicking Ass

Molly Ivins is mad as hell and she's not going to take it any more:
Mah fellow progressives, now is the time for all good men and women to come to the aid of the party. I don’t know about you, but I have had it with the D.C. Democrats, had it with the DLC Democrats, had it with every calculating, equivocating, triangulating, straddling, hair-splitting son of a bitch up there....

I can’t see a damn soul in D.C. except Russ Feingold who is even worth considering for President. The rest of them seem to me so poisonously in hock to this system of legalized bribery they can’t even see straight....

Every Democrat I talk to is appalled at the sheer gutlessness and spinelessness of the Democratic performance. The party is still cringing at the thought of being called, ooh-ooh, “unpatriotic” by a bunch of rightwingers.
It's all great. Read the whole thing.

(Via Pandagon.)

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Sports Book

Thanks to Pete Smith, I'm happy to bring you this fantastic website which offers a rundown of political contributions made by major sports figures in the years since 1978.

There's a lot of fascinating stuff in there. Personally, I'm saddened to see that my beloved Chiefs' Super Bowl Coach Hank Stram, for instance, only gave a lousy $200 in his life -- to the Republican National Committee in '92. I guess those toupees are more expensive than they look.

Also, after taking a look at how much NBA Commissioner David Stern has given to Democrats, I am hereby retracting everything bad I've ever said about the league. I am reserving my remarks about Kazaam, however.

"Thank You, Sir! May I Have Another?!"

The Republicans in Congress have once again pulled down their pants and begged Pledgemaster Bush to spank them again. Harder, sir! Harder!!

The occasion for their latest unmanning came in the debate over the Feingold censure resolution. The Senate Republicans basically tried to do what they did to the Murtha resolution on Iraq -- distort the language to change its meaning, allow no extended debate, and bring it up for a quick vote to shoot it down -- but this time Senate Democrats wouldn't let them get away with it. (The NY Times is framing this as a defeat for the Democrats, but I think it's a wise tactical retreat.)

During all this, Sen. Arlen Specter set a new low in the history of congressional overlook:
Senator Arlen Specter, the Pennsylvania Republican who has expressed reservations about the surveillance, said Mr. Feingold had failed to make a case for censure over what amounts to a dispute over the legal basis of the program.

"The president may be wrong," Mr. Specter said, "but he has acted in good faith."
So we can break the law if we're acting in good faith? Ignorance is no defense, but warm and fuzzy thoughts are? Outstanding.

Jeez, talk about the soft bigotry of low expectations. This isn't Field Day at the local special education school, where everyone gets a ribbon just for showing up and trying hard. This is the President of the United States willingly breaking the law and promising to break it again.

And "good faith" would seem to imply that while he was doing this warrantless wiretapping, the president wasn't at the same time lying to the American people and insisting he wasn't doing anything of the sort. The new GOP line is that the president has always had the power to act like a king and ignore the law, but if that's true -- and if it is, it's news to me -- then why was the president lying about this on the campaign trail? "A wiretap requires a court order," he said in April 2004, several years after he'd been doing the opposite. Still, he insisted, "Nothing has changed."

Something has changed, alright. The Republican Congress that was screaming "rule of law!" in their rush to impeach Bill Clinton for lying about sex now doesn't care at all about the rule of law.

This president has admitted he broke the law, but like a battered wife, the Republican Congress is still insisting it was their own fault for passing such a stupid law in the first place and bothering the president when he's got so much stuff going on down at work. The president means well, and he really loves the country, even when he beats it up. You just don't know him like they do. He's a good man, officer. He didn't mean it.

Sunday, March 12, 2006


Alright, folks. The NCAA Men's Basketball brackets are hot off the presses Greg Gumbel's silvery tongue.

Let's consider this an open thread for your predictions, problems and puzzlements. I mean, seriously -- Air Force?


As you've probably heard, Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Balls) is planning on introducing a measure to censure the president over his illegal wiretapping on Monday morning. He was on "This Week with George Snuffaluffagus" this morning touting the plan, and did an outstanding job of presenting this as a reasoned and requisite response to the president's law-breaking. As always, Crooks and Liars has the video.

Personally, I think this is a great idea. In terms of the politics, it's a smart way to go, since it navigates between the do-nothing attitude of Congress and the high-stakes gamble of impeachment. In a midterm year when Republicans are trying desperately to find a way to distance themselves from the increasingly unpopular president, this could gain some small traction on the other side of the aisle. Not enough to pass, probably, but enough to make the issue linger.

Furthermore, having this on the table will force moderate Republicans up for re-election in blue or purple states to make it clear whether they stand with the president or with the will of voters in their home state. Think about the predicament this would pose for Mike DeWine of Ohio (where Bush's approval is 37%), Jim Talent of Missouri (38%), Olympia Snowe in Maine (40%), and John Ensign of Nevada (40%). The hardest hit, of course, would be Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, a state where Bush is polling at an abysmal 29%. And on our side of the aisle, this could prove problematic for Joe Lieberman, who's facing a good primary challenge from his left by Ned Lamont, in a state where Bush is at 33%.

Also, at a basic level, introducing a motion to censure shifts the political news to the question of just how much the president broke the law and just how harsh his punishment should be. This is an incredibly strong countermeasure to the moderate Republicans who are trying to employ the Whittington Principle and rewrite the law so that the president can do whatever he wants. In fact, if pushed aggressively enough, the censure call helps lump them in with the president by showing that they're his enablers in his imperial ambition.

Update: Firedoglake suggests contacting your senator to get them on board, too. You can get their phone numbers and web contact forms here.

Update 2.0: Sen. Feingold was on the Soledad O'Brien Stupid Children Show this morning, and did an incredible job of beating back her list of GOP talking points. Crooks and Liars has the video and it's worth a look. My favorite part is watching her offer a first question that dismissed censure as a "kind of slap on the wrist" and then frame a second question around the idea of censure as "a very serious matter." What an utter airhead.

Caption Contest

Time for another caption contest, folks.

I know that some people would say you shouldn't kick a man when he's down. I, however, would knock those people to the ground and kick them too.

So have at him.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

"Leftist Feel-Good Hand-Wringers are Shown Reality"

When the four Christian Peacemaker Teams in Iraq were kidnapped by terrorists, Rush Limbaugh expressed glee that his fellow Americans had been taken hostage. "I like any time a bunch of leftist feel-good hand-wringers are shown reality," he said. "[A]ny time a bunch of people that walk around with the head in the sand practicing a bunch of irresponsible, idiotic theory confront reality, I'm kind of happy about it, because I'm eager for people to see reality, change their minds, if necessary, and have things sized up."

Well, Limbaugh must absolutely be wetting himself with excitement today, because one of the peace activists was just "shown reality" in a big way. He was executed.

Media Matters has the transcript and the audio clip of Limbaugh's rant. While the transcript gives you a sense of Limbaugh's contempt for his fellow Americans and his delight at their suffering, you have to listen to the audio clip to get the full flavor. Limbaugh uses a lisping, mincing voice to represent the peace activists who were over there risking their lives while he sat on his ass in the radio studio mocking them. It's pathetic.

(Both links stolen from Digby.)

Natural Causes

This just in:
Slobodan Milosevic, the former Yugoslav leader, who was branded "the butcher of the Balkans" and was on trial for war crimes after orchestrating a decade of bloodshed during the breakup of his country, was found dead Saturday in his prison cell. He was 64.

Milosevic, who suffered chronic heart ailments and high blood pressure, apparently died of natural causes and was found in his bed, the U.N. tribunal said, without giving an exact time of death.
I think I speak for everyone when I say that I'm hoping "Natural Causes" is the jailhouse nickname for Slobo's cellmate, a 7-foot tall, 300lb. Croat with anger issues.

Have fun in Hell, Slobo.

Friday, March 10, 2006

The Blurst of Times

I was just looking through my spam filter to see if it had snagged any real email. In doing so, I came across a spam email that's so poorly written it seems to have been written by a hundred monkeys working at a hundred typewriters:
Morning Loranzio,

Just heard ur partner's been complaining about u in the bed. That's why
there's, [spam website]. Lonnie and me both trying them and have
nothing but good things for them.

as also develops the theme of revenge through the dialogue between each of
the characters. Through conflict of man versus man, D. teens wait for
marriage like the Bible insists or should teens defy the rules outlined by
the Bible

Wow. Thanks, BillieJo! Where to begin?

First of all, not only is my name not Loranzio, but I'm doubting that anyone's name is Loranzio. (Except for whoever created this site.)

Second, Malibu Stacy has not filed any complaints in the suggestion box above our marital bed, so I think they sent this to me by mistake. (And given the number of "U" and "ur" misspellings, I think it was sent by the Sex Therapist Formerly Known as Prince.)

Third, "Lonnie and me both trying them and have nothing but good things for them"? I guess part of me should be swayed by this Endorsement from Algernon, but for some reason I'm just not convinced. Maybe BillieJo could've grunted some medical statistics at me, or at the very least, given me her credentials. If Prof. Dr. Mike S. Adams Ph.D. can have them, then anyone can!

Finally, I don't know about you, but I didn't see the plot twist in the second paragraph coming at all. On one side you have the revenge sex and the hot man-versus-man action, and on the other, a mysterious group of "D. teens" -- apparently the children of former Minutemen frontman D. Boon -- who are wrestling with the biblical injunction against premarital sex. I haven't seen a twist ending like this since Hitchcock. (And "Hitchcock," according to BillieJo, is another erectile dysfunction that she can help solve.)

All in all, it's just outstanding stuff. And it makes me want to listen to Patton Oswalt's hilarious routine about semi-literate porn spam for the brazillionth time. ("The Poetry of Pornography" is available on iTunes, if you're curious. Or bi-curious.)

March Madness

With the month of March here, we've finally entered the lone sweet spot between the end of the NFL season and the start of the next NFL season -- a full frenzied month of college basketball tournaments. (Yeah, yeah, baseball freaks: I know your season runs for eleven months, starting now. Apparently, the league decided to compensate for the essential dullness of the game by making each team play 4,182 games a season. Wake me when the league championships start.)

Anyway, the magic is already underway, with the conference tournaments unfolding right now and the action spread wide. ESPN2 has the always exciting ACC tournament running all weekend long, with Miami giving Duke a scare as we speak. Meanwhile, ESPN is using the spotlight of their Original Recipe Channel to highlight the games of the Big Ten. Apparently someone in programming went to Penn State, or thinks it's still football season. It's only a matter of time before the networks get involved. (Luckily for me, I've spent the winter developing a nice ass groove in the couch.)

So let's consider this a March Madness open thread. Who are you rooting for? Who do you think has a shot at going all the way? In what specific ways would you like to see Dick Vitale tortured? (Do I have a problem with parenthetical asides?)

Update: Since the comments have turned into a debate about whether Duke's coaching staff and players are really affiliated with the dark minions of Satan or whether they're simply operating as an independent force of unholy evil, I've changed the photo to reflect the new themes. Out of respect for the Dickie V fans, I decided not to reuse this classic image.

Caption Contest

You know, when your critics are charging you with adopting dictatorial powers and the American people increasingly think you're out of touch, maybe giving a Dear Leader-style speech to your subjects courtesy of the Dumbotron isn't the best idea.

This is ripe for the picking. So have at it.

Friday Random Ten

I'm not sure how much power the truth-in-advertising laws have over album covers, but I'd be willing to wager my punching nun puppet that that Weela Gallez did not, in fact, provide "an hysterical evening" of "adult comedy" on her alleged comedy album.

Sure, she tried to make sure she had all the component elements of adult comedy -- a wacky straw fringed hat, a make-up gun set to "whore," a paper-plate-and-construction-paper clown face, and a helper monkey named Mojo -- but I don't have a lot of faith that she could pull it off. There's just something in those dead eyes that tells me she'd have all the knee-slapping humor of a Ziggy cartoon, but without the warm fuzzies.

In any case, the disturbing appearance of Weela Gallez can only mean that it's once again time for the Friday Random Ten.

You know the rules. Take out whatever it is you keep your music on, whether it's an iPod or an imitation from such brand names as Sorny, Panaphonics, or Magnetbox; set that sucker on shuffle; and give us the first ten songs that pop out. If, in the spirit of Nigel Tufnel, you'd like to take the Random Ten "to eleven," go ahead and throw in a Coolness Self-Audit as well. (If you want a guide on how to handle that, check the comments here.)

Here's mine:

1. Asheru and Blue Black of the Unspoken Heard, "Theme Music" -- What a great start to the FRT. This is some phenomenally catchy hiphop, with a killer piano groove that resembles Dilated Peoples' "Pay Attention" and lyrics that resemble Asheru's work on the "Boondocks" theme music. (Which, despite the name, this isn't.) Outstanding. 10/10

2. Al Green, "Simply Beautiful" -- Holy crap, two great songs right off the bat! At the risk of jinxing myself, let me just say this. Alright, this song is a slow, sultry groove from the Reverend Al, very understated but incredibly good. Easily my favorite thing he ever recorded. 10/10

3. Wanda Jackson, "Riot in Cell Block #9" -- Another great one, from a rockabilly pioneer who later hawked Budweiser with Brian Setzer as the "guitar granny." This was later covered to death, but the original is scorchingly hot, as a song about a women's prison riot should be. 9/10

4. Cat Power, "Who Knows Where the Time Goes" (live) -- And the fun comes to a screeching halt. This is a short and rambling song that could've passed for a sound check. Eh. 2/10

5. Catlow, "Number One" -- A nice little bit of indie chick rock, though a bit too adorable in some places. If that's possible. 6/10

6. Jane's Addiction, "Three Days" -- Once upon a time, I would've considered a ten-minute alternarock wankfest by Perry Ferrell and company to be the pinnacle of cool. I believe at the time, however, I was also under the impression that the Red Hot Chili Peppers were cool as well. 5/10

7. Chuck Berry, "You Can't Catch Me" -- A nice rollicking bit of classic rock'n'roll. This song, I believe, has the distinction of being the only rock tune from the late '50s and early '60s to focus on the freedom felt by American youth as a result of driving a car. It's a shame more people didn't explore this field. 7/10

8. Drive-By Truckers, "Ronnie and Neil" -- As I said over at Norbizness's pad, the Truckers are a band that many of my friends love and the critics adore, but I just can't get into them. The singer sounds like he's gargling asphalt and the deep lyrics are just too damn preachy. I just don't get it. 3/10

9. Mahlathini & Mahotella Queens, "Thuto Kelefa" -- Now, I have no idea what Malathini is saying either, but who cares? Incredibly limber guitar work, lush background vocals from the Queens, and the gruff Howlin' Wolf style of the man himself. Like a Colt .45, this works every time. 8/10

10. Bobby Bland, "Ain't No Love in the Heart of the City" -- A fairly good bit of '70s soul. This seems like the kind of thing that Slaughter or Shaft would have playing in the background as they walked to work. 7/10

Well, after a tremendous start, I slipped up a couple times and still wound up with a 6.7. I'm apparently two-thirds cool, much in the same way Wilson Phillips was two-thirds hot.

Let's see what you've got. Drop your own FRT in the comments below, add your snarky comments about my own random array of songs, or perhaps offer a haiku about the Bush administration's incompetence. Your choice.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Fuck Off and Die

The Bush Administration's war on science has been well documented, and I won't rehash all the incredibly sad stories about how politics trumps facts in the Republican party.

But here's one little blurb that I came across in the March 13 issue of the New Yorker. It's not online, so I can't link it.

It begins by recounting the story of the development of a vaccine against human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is spread by sexual contact; there are a hundred strains of this virus; two cause cervical cancer and two others gential warts. Merck came up with a vaccine that successfully protected people against the four nasty strains. Good news, right? We wipe out a nasty bug and big pharma gets some ka-ching. Everyone's happy.


Bushco decided that we would rather have people die of cancer than "encourage" kids to have sex. That's not a joke; I swear that was their argument.

That part I knew about, but I had no idea how deeply these sickos' hatred of their fellow human beings ran. If there is any doubt how deeply un-Christian these people are, this paragraph should show you the light.

Here's the last paragraph on page 60. It's my transcription, so I apologize for any misspellings, grammatical errors, etc.:
Religious conservatives are unapologetic; not only do they believe that mass use of an HPV vaccine or the availability of emergency contraception will encourage adolescents to engage in unacceptable sexual behavior; some have even stated that they would feel similarly about an H.I.V. vaccine, if one became available. "We would have to look at that closely," Reginald Finger, an evangelical Christian and former medical adviser to the conservative political organization Focus on the Family, said. "With any new vaccine for H.I.V., disinhibition" - a medical term for the absence of fear - "would certainly be a factor, and it is something we will have to pay attention to with a great deal of care." Finger sits on the Centers for Disease Control's Immunization Committee, which makes those recommendations.

Did you get that? If an effective vaccine for H.I.V. was invented tomorrow, there would be a debate on whether or not to release it to Americans because the citizens of this country cannot exhibit any self-control. Thank you Government! You're saving me from myself; Lord knows the only thing keeping me from sodomizing prostitutes while sharing heroin needles is the threat of AIDS. Now we just have to get rid of the hepatitis vaccine...

What a bunch of sick fucks.

I'd also like to point out this wasn't a yahoo on the street talking through a crystal meth haze. This man was appointed by the President of the United States of America to a committee that oversees this very issue!

Truth, Justice, and the American Way just ain't what it used to be.

Stupid Like a Fox!

Words fail me. Check out this actual, real, serious campaign commercial from North Carolina congressional candidate Vernon Robinson.

Apparently, when he styled himself as "the black Jesse Helms" he really meant it. Insane.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Congressional Overlook

The latest news in the warrantless wiretapping is in, and it's absofuckinglutely pathetic:
Support was building among Republicans and the White House on Tuesday for a proposal from several moderate senators that would give President Bush's controversial surveillance program the force of law, more than four years after he secretly initiated the program.
In other words, after it became clear that the president -- by his own admission -- had broken the law and violated American civil liberties in the most serious way, that he had knowingly lied about it on the campaign trail, and that he boasted that he was right to break the law and would continue to break the law anytime he damn well saw fit, the Republicans in Congress have responded not by staging a full investigation or initiating impeachment procedures, but by rewriting the law so that what Bush wants to do is now legal. Unbelievable.

The Republican Congress is like an ass-kissing, mid-level management type at a major corporation. They volunteer to work as the umpire at the company softball game, because they hope the boss will notice them. And sure enough, when the boss steps up to the plate, he can do no wrong. No matter what he does -- bludgeon the catcher with the bat, swing and miss a dozen times, or simply stand there and soil his pants -- that will not only be allowed, rulebook be damned, but will be rewarded with a dozen runs. Two dozen if the catcher dies.

But back to our story:
The move allowed Republicans on the Senate Intelligence Committee to support efforts to craft eavesdropping legislation and conduct additional oversight. It also blunted Democratic calls for an investigation of the U.S.-based monitoring operations in the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., said the legislation proposed by several moderate Republicans was "certainly a good foundation to start with" — a sentiment shared by the Senate's Republican leadership and the White House, he said.
So not only is this a cave in by the moderate Republicans, but what we're likely to end up with here is going to be even more watered down. The idea of Pat Roberts acting like some sort of independent check on the administration is surreal. If Roberts were any more of a kiss-ass to this president, he'd have to have his lips surgically attached to the president's oval orifice itself.

The piece tries to present the moderate Republicans as rebelling in some way:
CBS News has learned that the Republicans argued their case all the way up the chain of command, including the vice president's office. CBS News correspondent Gloria Borger reports some Republican senators threatened to join Democrats in calling for a public investigation into the wiretap program if the White House didn't support congressional oversight.

After weeks of negotiations and closed door meetings, Sen. Mike DeWine, R-Ohio, said he would soon introduce the Terrorist Surveillance Act of 2006 with three other moderates who have helped shaped the debate on intelligence issues: Sens. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, Olympia Snowe of Maine and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

"I think today we're setting a constitutional marker and also a constitutional check on presidential power because you can't allow the president to move forward with unfettered fashion," said Snowe.
I'm glad to know they took this to the top level of the administration -- the VP's office -- but the delusion that they somehow spoke truth to power and reasserted their rightful place as the overseers of executive action is complete and utter bullshit.

This isn't oversight. This is overlook.

They're overlooking the fact that the president broke the law, admitted he broke the law, and promised to break the law again. In response, without holding meaningful hearings, conducting their own investigations, or doing anything else contained in their job descriptions, they're simply going to rewrite the rules so that Bush can keep on doing what he's doing. They'll overlook what he's done in the past, and with this new toothless law, they'll be able to overlook what he does in the future.

They're also overlooking the Constitution. This isn't some arcane legal matter that scholars are hopelessly divided on. This is a goddamned law, passed by Congress back when it actually gave a damn about the kinds of things we pay only lip service to these days -- freedom, democracy, the rule of law, and so on. Legal scholars (with the exception of John Yoo, Dictatorial Enabler) are, in this matter, universally in agreement that the president broke the law.

What we're seeing here is the Harry Whittington Principle. The president shot the law in the face, and the Republicans in Congress are making sure that the law apologizes to the president for getting in his way.

Something Said. Something Not Good

Why doesn't this surprise me?*
A high school social studies teacher who was put on leave after comparing President Bush's State of the Union address to speeches made by Adolf Hitler defended his lecture on Tuesday, saying he was trying to encourage students to think.
*I think it's mostly a mistake to make comparisons between Hitler/Nazis and a modern U.S. politician because the magnitude of Hitler's/Nazi's evilness is so incredibly great. However, this particular case seems to be an exception, as the teacher focused on the language of their respective speeches rather than on the men themselves.

You Truly Belong with Us, Here among the Clouds

I love Star Wars as much as the next nerd, but this man was doomed the second his parents filled out the birth certificate.
Landocalrissan Butler, 25, of Winnikee Avenue, entered a guilty plea Tuesday in Dutchess County Court to attempted criminal possession of a controlled substance, a felony. Butler told Judge Thomas J. Dolan he had five small bags of crack in his pocket Dec. 22 when police arrested him on Morgan Avenue. He said he intended to sell the drugs.

Elephant in the Room

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Those Who Don't Learn from History...

Uh oh. It looks like some Scots are thinking about blowing up a whale.
The rotting carcase of a 48ft sperm whale stranded in the Hebrides may have to be blown up with explosives, environmental officers said yesterday.
I hope someone mentions that this has been tried before with hilarious results.

Cheney is Right

You better start saving your money.
The move to freeze pensions at solid, profitable companies like Verizon—and at others, including IBM, Sprint, Nextel, Tribune Corp., Lexmark, Alcoa and Russell Corp.—is the latest sign of pressure on traditional guaranteed pension plans. "It's an entirely new phenomenon for healthy companies to freeze their pensions," says Alicia Munnell, director of the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College.

In 2003, 41 percent of workers with pension coverage had defined benefit pensions, down from 83 percent in 1980, according to the latest data released in February by the center. For the last several years, employees in struggling industries such as airlines, steel, coal and textiles have watched as their firms declared bankruptcy and terminated their plans altogether. And more may be in trouble, particularly in industries such as auto parts.

Not only that, new regulatory and legislative changes now in the works could encourage companies to freeze their pensions—or get out of the pension business altogether. And questions are being raised about the funding of pensions for public-sector employees.

Yeah, about those public sector pensions...
Treasury Secretary John Snow notified Congress yesterday that the administration had taken "all prudent and legal actions," including tapping certain government retirement funds, to keep from hitting the $8.2 trillion national-debt limit.

Caption Contest

Speaking of musicians who've passed away, iRod sent me this disturbing photo of Eddie Van Halen this morning. Man, I thought David Lee Roth looked bad.

Anyway, it's perfect fodder for another caption contest. Bring it.

Ali Farka Toure

Today is a sad one. In addition to creating beautiful music, lived a fascinating life.
Born Ali Ibrahim in 1939 in the village of Kanau on the banks of the River Niger in northwest Mali, he never knew his exact date of birth. The tenth son born to parents who claimed noble descent, he was the first to survive infancy and as a child acquired the nickname Farka, meaning donkey and indicating not slow-wittedness but strength and tenacity...

For a time, he planned to becoming a priest, not in his Islamic faith but in the local djinn-based religion, before he eventually decided the powers of the spirit world were too dangerous to meddle with. “These spirits can be good or bad to you, so I decided just to sing about them,” he explained many years later. “But it’s our culture, so we can’t pass it by.” As a teenager, he worked variously as an apprentice to a tailor, a taxi driver, car mechanic and a pilot on the river, while continuing to play music in spiritual ceremonies and for pleasure, mastering a number of traditional instruments.

Simpsons in the 3rd Dimension

Greetings to all.

This little clip courtesy of my sister.