Monday, July 31, 2006

Did Mel Gas His Own People Too?

Props to commenter/blogger/White-Out abuser Bob, who may just be on to the discovery of the century.

Interesting and depressing

Interesting article at the WashPost by a reporter who was embedded in the unit of that U.S. soldier charged w/ premeditated rape and murder of an Iraqi kid and her family. Actually, I found the bits about the unit as a whole and the challenges they face to be the most interesting parts.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Saturday Confessions: The Horror!

We all know I'm a real man who likes real-man rock music, unlike the types who usually post on the Friday Random Ten. One of the fundamentals of real-man rock is that everybody in the band is a man. It's a well-known fact that women just can't do real-man rock, most especially the singing. There simply is no female equivalent to Sammy Hagar, Bret Michaels, or Geddy Lee.

There's always an exception to the rule, in this case three, in order of manliness: Lita Ford, the Wilson sisters from Heart, and Janis Joplin. In each case, however, these women were backed by manly men musicians (the bong-rattling bass of Don Nossov proves this point tenfold). You could rock out to these folks and still have a virtual sausage fest.

But now I am brought low. A co-worker loaned me The Woods, by the all-woman band Sleater-Kinney. I figured I'd listen to it just so I could trash it authoritatively, but the unthinkable happened - I'm hooked. The technical skill is low, the singing is sometimes off key, and the drummer has a big booty. But still I listen, and listen.

Let's hope it's a passing phase, because I don't know how long I can take this. After listening to the Sleater-Kinneys (just the name kills me; it's like the band is a married
couple from the 1980s), I have to purify my soul with an Ozzy penance: 2 Bloodbath in Paradises, 1 Tattoo Dancer, 1 No Bone Movie, and any 3 live songs with Randy Rhoads. I just ain't got the time, man!

If you aren't so embarassed for me that you've clicked away already, I'd love for you to stoop to my level and name a band or album you're embarrassed to like. Help a brother out; it's cold out here.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Friday Random Ten

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

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

Alright, let's do this thing.

1. The Reverend Horton Heat, "New York City Girls" -- Not exactly the good reverend's best work, in either the music or the lyrics. Sure, I'd have to agree that NYC girls are both "pretty" and "have a lot of fun." I'd also like to concur that water is wet. 5/10

2. Tegan and Sara, "You Wouldn't Like Me" -- Well, speaking of girls who are pretty and have a lot of fun, Tegan and Sara certainly fit the bill. Unfortunately, I'm pretty sure that they too only like girls who are pretty and have a lot of fun. Oh well, they still rock quite nicely. 7/10

3. Parliament, "Aqua Boogie (A Psychoalphadiscobetabioaquadoloop)" -- By the time I got done typing that subtitle, the song was half over. Leave it to George Clinton to turn the story of Sir Nose's aquaphobia into a seven-minute funk masterpiece. The lyrics may not be compelling, but I do believe that's my ass shaking itself down the street. 9/10

4. Michelle Shocked, "Graffiti Limbo" -- From the excellent Short Sharp Shocked, an almost bluesy tribute to the graffiti artists who were targeted by Ed Koch and an NYPD crackdown in the 1980s, leading to at least one death. The politics get a little heavy-handed, but the song is quite solid. 6/10

5. Sonny Boy Williamson, "Your Funeral and My Trial" -- Damn, if that isn't the perfect blues title, I don't know what is. While I'd love to hear the other side of the story, you can't help but side with Sonny Boy on this one. 7/10

6. Curtis Mayfield, "Back to the World" -- A fantastic, if little-known, Mayfield number about the need to welcome Vietnam veterans back home when their tours of duty were done. While the old myth about antiwar protestors spitting on Vietnam vets has finally started to get debunked, this song is a nice reminder that the hippie commie pinko fags in the music industry weren't hostile to the troops either. 9/10

7. De La Soul, "Bionix" -- Have you embraced De La Soul's mind-blowingly great Bionix album as your musical lord and savior? No? Then you're dead to me. Dead, I say. 10/10

8. The Flaming Lips, "Pilot Can at the Queer of God" -- I can't put my finger on it, but this has consistently been one of my favorite Lips tunes. Maybe it's the chunky guitars, the soaring chorus, or the Dadaesque title. Whatever. It works. 9/10

9. Carly Simon, "Why?" -- In my defense, this comes from a CD of music sampled for hiphop tunes. And yet, even I still think I deserve your scorn. 1/10

10. Django Reinhardt, "Blues Clair" -- Good Lord, could that Belgian gypsy play. Reinhardt's skills let him do a wide variety of things with a guitar -- from blistering fretwork to plunking rarely-heard chords, to even making and deep-frying fresh julianned potatoes! Amazing. 10/10

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Caption Contest

Well, surprise, surprise!

It's time for another caption contest, Mr. President.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Remember that guy who was totally gay?

He's totally gay.

Dick Fiction

Finally, the truth about the Harry Whittington accident comes out.

Tastes Like Chickenhawk

Glenn Greenwald clarifies the meaning of "chickenhawk":
A "chicken hawk" is one who strikes the pose of a warrior, who imputes the personal courage of a soldier in combat to themselves by virtue of the fact that they are in favor of sending that soldier off to war, or who parades around with the pretense of personal courage and resolve while assuming none of the risks. And a "chicken hawk" will, conversely, attempt to depict those who oppose such wars as being weak, spineless and cowardly even though the war opponents are not seeking to avoid any personal risk to themselves, but instead, are arguing against subjecting their fellow citizens to what they perceive are unnecessary dangers.
It's not being pro-war without serving that makes you a chickenhawk, it's pretending that being pro-war makes you equivalent in some manly way to the actual soldiers risking their lives. Sounds about right to me.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Hungry, Hungry Hypocrites

Sure, we all knew Sean Hannity was a dishonest, hypocritical hack. But I didn't know just how far over the edge he'd gone.

Take a second to listen to this clip passed along by the fine folks at Sadly, No! Trust me, it's worth it.

One State, Two States, Red State, Blue States

Courtesy of the Carpetbagger Report, I see that there's a bold new entry in the laziest, sloppiest subgenre of political punditry.

No, no, I'm not talking about the Zombie Corpse of Larry King. According to the authorities, he's been cornered in a farmhouse in southeastern Iowa and is now being fed a steady diet of softball Tammy Fae Bakker interviews and, of course, braaaaaaaiiiinnnnsssss.

Instead, the hacktacular trend I'm talking about the lazy Red States vs. Blue States sofa sociology that David Brooks thinks he excels at. I don't know about you folks, but I'm so looking forward to his next book, Red Staters are from Mars, Blue Staters are from the Clenis.

Well, look out, Brooksie, because there's a new village idiot in town! Actually, three village idiots! (Hey, all appearances to the contrary, this kind of crap doesn't just write itself.) The authors in question are Douglas B. Sosnik, a strategist in the Clinton White House; Matthew J. Dowd, a strategist for Bush's two presidential campaigns; and journalist Ron Fournier. This Broad Squad has put their heads together to come up with their new map to America's political divisions, which they've witlessly called Applebee's America.

In what may be their only correct point, the authors argue that the red state vs. blue state model isn't really accurate when you consider that many states are actually a blend of the two. So instead, they focus on individual people, trying to figure out what "tribe" different sorts of people are in. And those tribes, they argue, are largely determined by the gut-level consumer choices we all make.

As proof of their thesis, they offer a quick, twelve-question quiz for readers to take and thereby bask in the warm embrace of their predictive brilliance.

Well, I just took it, and I'm thrilled to report that, with my score of 11 out of 12, I'm apparently a hard-core conservative Republican. Who knew? I mean, I followed all the steps, but I didn't think the conversion had taken hold.

From the comments over at TCR, I can see that I'm not alone. (Host Steve Benen also scored a Nigel Tufnel eleven.) I'm curious to see the inner selves of my co-bloggers and the people who accidentally wind up here while looking to purchase a Fleshlight.

The quiz is really simple and fast. You can take it in less than a minute, which is probably more time than the authors spent crafting it.

Monday, July 24, 2006

"Well, No One Who Speaks German Could Be Evil ..."

At long last, the mysteries of George Bush are finally explained.

Caption Contest

Blogger is about as stable as the Middle East right now. I thought I better use the eye of the technical difficulties hurricane to spread the love of a caption contest.

Heeeeeeeeerrrrrrrrreee's Condi!

Helper Monkey

Once again, John Rogers over at Kung Fu Monkey knocks it out of the park with the post of the week.

It's almost like that guy writes for a living or something.

Friday, July 21, 2006

This Week's Sign of the Apocalypse

In a scary development, I agree completely with Chris Matthews and Pat Buchanan in this segment.

Of course, they're trashing the neocons and calling them idiots, so maybe they're agreeing with me.

Friday Random Ten

Hey, you know the the old saying: It's Laverne Tripp's world and we're just livin' in it.

This is an impressive album cover, especially when you consider the lengths they had to go to in order to create this stunning image. Where on earth could they find an overhead projector? Would the local junior high let them in? How would they explain the fact that "Laverne" looks like a middle-aged man?

Well, the power of Laverne Tripp opens plenty of doors, my friend. Plenty.

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

Here's mine:

1. Death Cab for Cutie, "Tiny Vessels" -- A very pretty song with some very ugly lyrics. I haven't checked in with Hipster Central to see if these kids are still the shit, but I don't care. Transatlanticism is one of my favorite albums of this decade, and this is one of its better tunes. 10/10

2. Dionne Warwick, "You're Gonna Need Me" -- Man, whatever happened to Dionne Warwick? (If only there was some way we could reach out and find our dear, long lost friend. If only....) This is actually a fantastic soul song, with some nice West Coast guitars and a great vocal track from Warwick. 8/10

3. Les Savy Fav, "Pills" -- A couple of these kids met while studying at the Rhode Island School of Design, which is how the Talking Heads got started too. The similarities end there, as LSF is a bit more all-up-in-your-grill than the Heads ever were. I'm not entirely sold on this song, but I certainly like the cut of their jib. 7/10

4. Frank Sinatra, "The Lady is a Tramp" -- As much as I respect and, yes, fear the Chairman of the Board, this was a song that always seemed to send him into the realm of self-parody. In the live versions, he'd always change "the lady" to "that koo-koo broad" by the time he hit his third chorus and fifth scotch. This is not even remotely cool, especially when set against Ella Fitzgerald's much better rendition. 4/10

5. Hayseed Dixie, "My Best Friend's Girl" -- These guys have apparently made a career out of performing bluegrass covers of rock tunes. (Their rendition of "Back in Black" is, in my opinion, fanfuckingtastic.) Here they take a swing at the Cars' classic. As Bill Hicks would say, it's a hoot. You gotta think about it, but it's a hoot. 6/10

6. Wolf Parade, "Dear Sons and Daughters of Hungry Ghosts" -- I cannot recommend this band strongly enough. I know, I know, you've been burned before, with all the overblown blogosphere buzz about the Arctic Monkeys, Tapes 'n' Tapes, and Of Montreal. But these gentlemen have stood the test of time. This album still kicks my ass, and seeing them live this year was probably one of the top ten concerts of my life or of any life, for that matter. Trust me. 10/10

7. Charles Wright, "65 Bars and a Taste of Soul" -- You may know Charles Wright from such previous hits as the original "Express Yourself" and "Doin' What Comes Naturally." This is an absolutely scorching instrumental, one that not only brings in the jazz but pushes out the funk. Brilliant. Do we have our first ever back-to-back perfect tens here at the FRT? Yes, Virginia. Yes we do. 10/10

8. Blind Willie Johnson, "Jesus Make Up My Dying Bed" -- I don't want to begrudge a dying bluesman his last wish, but it seems to me that if you were about to pass on and had the Messiah on the line, you might want to ask for everlasting salvation instead of a turn-down service. But that's just me. 6/10

9. Ghostface Killah, "Struggle" -- Another spinoff from the Wu-Tang Clan's vast empire. There are a few songs on this album that I really really like. This, however, isn't one of them. 5/10

10. Ram Jam, "Black Betty" -- Kick out the motherfucking jams, boys! If this song could maintain its full-throated swagger the whole way through, it'd have a chance of being the perfect classic rock tune. But they run out of steam about halfway through with a wholly unnecessary, tempo-destroying geetar solo. But all things considered, it's a pretty inspired take on an old blues traditional. (However, I believe the original version, performed by Leadbelly and others, lacks the Bonhamesque drum solo.) 7/10

All in all, that gives me a whopping 7.3 average. Considering I had three perfect tens this week, that's actually a little disappointing. Oh well, such is life during the Bush presidency. Can't get my hopes too high.

Alright, your turn. Think you're better than me? Because I will fight you.

No, no, wait, that's the liquor talking.

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


Thursday, July 20, 2006

Won't Someone Please Think of the Children?!?

If the YouTube blog wars ever flare up again, here's what I'm using as my first strike -- a video blog from the classy wackjob who runs the popular conservative blog, Atlas Shrugs.

If you thought she came across as stupid and self-absorbed in writing, you'll never believe just how much worse she comes off in live action. (She flashes images of women in burkas while playing "Don't You Wish Your Girlfriend Was Hot Like Me." No, seriously. She actually found a way to demean the music of the Pussycat Dolls.)

On a final note, I'm not sure what her name is -- Busty LaRue? Chesty St. Clair? Hootie McBoob? -- but I do know she needs to get her money back for the footballs they implanted before they deflate.

(Thanks to the fine people at Sadly, No! for once again wading through all this shit so we don't have to.)

Caption Contest

Things have gotten so bad for President Bush that he's now looking for support at the NAACP. I know, I know. Desperate times for the Decider.

Here's an image of him addressing the organization -- who, much like Otis Day and the Knights, absolutely loooooove him!

Have at him.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The Decider Has Decided

Well, it took him five-and-a-half years, but the Decider has finally issued his very first veto. *sniff!* Our little boy is all growed up!

As we all know, President Bush has stamped his feet and made noises about issuing vetoes many times before -- on serious matters like funding for Iraq, the anti-torture bill, the budget, pensions, the FAA, the ports deal, spending bills, etc. Those have always been empty threats, though, since Bush has been content to skip his constitutional right to veto and instead use his imaginary boy-king power of the "signing statement" to undercut the laws.

But now, at long last, he's found a cause worth vetoing and has finally pulled the trigger. The cause? Stem cell research.

In the most important sense, this is a sad day for the country. The scientific community is universally in favor of stem cell research, which they believe could lead to cures for Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, juvenile diabetes, and on and on. Bush has sent the millions of Americans suffering from such diseases a clear message -- your current state of life is not as important as a five-day-old frozen embryo that's going to be discarded anyway. Or, more to the point, your life isn't as important as the allegiance he has to the Religious Right.

Politically, of course, this is a tremendous gift to the Democratic Party. Public opinion on stem cell research is an overwhelming 2-to-1 in favor, with notorious left-wing lunatics like Nancy Reagan and Bill Frist lending very vocal support. Judging from today's press conference, the White House apparently sees this as a good way to rally the pro-life movement for the fall elections. However, it's clear that pro-lifers are evenly split on the issue, as seen in Orrin Hatch's rather eloquent statement supporting stem cell research and the voting breakdown in the Senate.

In the end, the Democrats are poised to wrap themselves in the mantle of a movement as equally powerful in its rhetoric and rallying effects as the pro-life movement -- something Jonathan Alter has astutely named the "pro-cure" movement. That's not only the right political framing, but also the right thing to do.

Thanks, Decider! I'd kiss you if I weren't afraid of catching the Liebercooties.

Ask a Ninja

Courtesy of Kung Fu Monkey, I'm honored to present the Ask a Ninja review of "Pirates of the Caribbean 2: Dead Man's Chest."

As John Rogers notes, it may just be the greatest movie review of all time. Enjoy.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Clown Down!

Ralph Reed lost his primary bid in Georgia. Couldn't have happened to a creepier guy.

Update: It seems that Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-You Want a Piece of Me?) is headed for a run-off election on August 8th. Josh Marshall thinks her challenger could pull off an upset. If so, it would be a great year for Georgia voters all around.

Mmmmmm, That's Good Adultery!

Courtesy of the Carpetbagger Report, I'm happy to pass along this choice little nugget from today's House debate on the Federal Marriage Amendment.

It comes from Rep. Lincoln Davis (D-Tenn.) -- whose oxymoronic name could only be topped by "Senator Roosevelt Hitler" -- and presses a point I've long been making about the hypocrites who claim to be "defending" marriage from teh gay all the while having affairs and committing adultery themselves. (Look no further than the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which was championed by Rep. Bob Barr, who's now on his third marriage.)

Anyway, Think Progress has the transcript:
LINCOLN DAVIS: Marriage is for life, and this amendment needs to include that basic tenant. Therefore, Mr. Speaker, I think we should expand the scope of the amendment to outlaw divorce in this country. Going further Mr. Speaker, I believe in fidelity. Adultery is an evil that threatens the marriage and the heart of every marriage, which is commitment.

How can we as a country allow adulterers to go unpunished and continue to make a mockery of marriage? Again by doing so, what lessons are we teaching our children about marriage? I certainly think that it shows we are not serious about protecting the institution and this is why I think the amendment should outlaw adultery and make it a felony. Additionally, Mr. Speaker, we must address spousal abuse and child abuse. Think of how many marriages end in a divorce or permanent separation because one spouse is abusive. ...

We should also prevent those who commit adultery, or get a divorce, from running for office. Mr. Speaker, this House must lead by example. If we want those watching on CSPAN to actually believe we are serious about protecting marriage, then we should go after the other major threats to the institution. Not just the threat that homosexuals may some day be allowed to marry in a state other than Massachusetts. An elected official should certainly lead by example.
It's not clear whether or not this is a tongue-in-cheek suggestion by Rep. Davis, or an honestly held belief. (As some commenters at TCR note, Davis is a Blue Dog Democrat with a 72% rating from the Christian Coalition.) I don't think it matters whether or not he's sincere or sarcastic. Either way, his comments serve to remind his colleagues that once they get into this issue, they're going to have a hard time not going all the way.

Update: Steve Benen called Davis's office and was told that, yes, this was tongue in cheek. Nice.

Like a Heat Wave

Christ, it's hot.

Just look at that map. The center's turning from pink to white hot, so much so that I wouldn't be surprised if the map caught fire and the "Bonanza" theme started playing.

I'm seriously considering making a refrigerator-tent in the architectural stylings of Homer Simpson.

That's My Bush!

Just when you thought the president's conduct at the G-8 summit couldn't get any more embarrassing, Dubya manages to pull it off. Creepy, creepy, creepy.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Yo, Blair!

For those of us who think that the president's scripted addresses are mouthbreathingly stupid, it's always nice to see that he can stoop much lower when he's on his own.
As he chats with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Bush expresses amazement that it will take Putin and an unidentified leader just as long to fly home to Moscow as it will take him to fly back to Washington. Putin’s reply could not be heard.

“You eight hours? Me too. Russia’s a big country and you’re a big country. Takes him eight hours to fly home. Not Coke, diet Coke. ... Russia’s big and so is China. Yo Blair, what’re you doing? Are you leaving,” Bush said.

Bush thanked Blair for a gift of a sweater and joked that he knew Blair had picked it out personally. “Absolutely,” Blair responded, with a laugh.

Bush, a stickler for keeping to his schedule, could also be heard telling Putin, “We’ve got to keep this thing moving. I have to leave at 2:15. They want me out of town so to free up your security forces.”

Bush also remarked that some of the speakers at the meeting had the tendency to talk too long.
TBogg has a nice summation of what's wrong with all this. It's not that the president dared to use profanity -- the angle that all the major media outlets are seizing on -- it's that the rest of his language is little better than curse words either.

Seriously, the last time I heard the phrase "Yo, Blair!" it came out of this person's mouth. Same crude outlook, same mental stature. But sad to say, I'm pretty sure she'd do a better job as Commander in Chief than this guy.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Caption Contest

It's been a while since the last caption contest.

Bring it on, folks. Bring. It. On.

"Isn't That Just Like a [GOP]? Brings a Knife to a Gunfight."

Conservatives claim they love traditions, and it's clear that the traditions they cherish the most are their political attacks. In this vein, we've seen yet another beleaguered White House pick a fight with the mean ol' New York Times for its reporting on the war on terror.

It's important to note that the Times has been singled out for this treatment, while the Los Angeles Times and Wall Street Journal have been given a pass for the same deed. (The crime? Publicizing an antiterrorist banking program that the president himself had publicized five years before. No, it doesn't make sense. But remember, these are conservatives we're talking about. It doesn't have to make sense. It just has to make Hulk mad.)

Anyway, while the other press reports have been ignored, the New York Times was singled out by the White House and their flying monkeys on the right as treasonous bastards who deserved to be executed or, at the very least, excommunicated from the Church of Dear Leader.

The White House and its allies have been bullying the press and their political opponents for a half decade now, so they must have assumed that this challenge would, like all others, go unanswered. They were wrong. In this morning's op-ed pages, the New York Times has responded in kind.

First of all, there's a blistering editorial, titled "The Real Agenda."
It is only now, nearly five years after Sept. 11, that the full picture of the Bush administration’s response to the terror attacks is becoming clear. Much of it, we can see now, had far less to do with fighting Osama bin Laden than with expanding presidential power.

Over and over again, the same pattern emerges: Given a choice between following the rules or carving out some unprecedented executive power, the White House always shrugged off the legal constraints. Even when the only challenge was to get required approval from an ever-cooperative Congress, the president and his staff preferred to go it alone. While no one questions the determination of the White House to fight terrorism, the methods this administration has used to do it have been shaped by another, perverse determination: never to consult, never to ask and always to fight against any constraint on the executive branch. ....

The president’s constant efforts to assert his power to act without consent or consultation has warped the war on terror. The unity and sense of national purpose that followed 9/11 is gone, replaced by suspicion and divisiveness that never needed to emerge. The president had no need to go it alone — everyone wanted to go with him. Both parties in Congress were eager to show they were tough on terrorism. But the obsession with presidential prerogatives created fights where no fights needed to occur and made huge messes out of programs that could have functioned more efficiently within the rules. ....

To a disturbing degree, the horror of 9/11 became an excuse to take up this cause behind the shield of Americans’ deep insecurity. The results have been devastating. Americans’ civil liberties have been trampled. The nation’s image as a champion of human rights has been gravely harmed. Prisoners have been abused, tortured and even killed at the prisons we know about, while other prisons operate in secret. American agents “disappear” people, some entirely innocent, and send them off to torture chambers in distant lands. Hundreds of innocent men have been jailed at Guantánamo Bay without charges or rudimentary rights. And Congress has shirked its duty to correct this out of fear of being painted as pro-terrorist at election time.

We still hope Congress will respond to the Supreme Court’s powerful and unequivocal ruling on Guantánamo Bay and also hold Mr. Bush to account for ignoring the law on wiretapping. Certainly, the president has made it clear that he is not giving an inch of ground.
As the editors New York Times dig into Bush's efforts to make himself a king here at home, just a page later columnist Frank Rich rips into the folly of his foreign policy abroad:
[T]he day that changed everything didn’t change the fundamental character of the Bush presidency. The so-called doctrine of pre-emption, a repackaging of the long-held Cheney-Rumsfeld post-cold-war mantra of unilateralism, was just another gaudy float in the propaganda parade ginned up to take America to war against a country that did not attack us on 9/11. As the president’s chief of staff then, Andrew Card, famously said of the Iraq war just after Labor Day 2002, “From a marketing point of view, you don’t introduce new products in August.” The Bush doctrine was rolled out officially two weeks later, just days after the administration’s brass had fanned out en masse on the Sunday-morning talk shows to warn that Saddam’s smoking gun would soon come in the form of a mushroom cloud.

The Bush doctrine was a doctrine in name only, a sales strategy contrived to dress up the single mission of regime change in Iraq with philosophical grandiosity worthy of F.D.R. There was never any serious intention of militarily pre-empting either Iran or North Korea, whose nuclear ambitions were as naked then as they are now, or of striking the countries that unlike Iraq were major enablers of Islamic terrorism. Axis of Evil was merely a clever brand name from the same sloganeering folks who gave us “compassionate conservatism” and “a uniter, not a divider” — so clever that the wife of a presidential speechwriter, David Frum, sent e-mails around Washington boasting that her husband was the “Axis of Evil” author....

Since then, the administration has fiddled in Iraq while Islamic radicalism has burned brighter and the rest of the Axis of Evil, not to mention Afghanistan and the Middle East, have grown into just the gathering threat that Saddam was not. And there’s still no policy. As Ivo Daalder of the Brookings Institution writes on his foreign-affairs blog, Mr. Bush isn’t pursuing diplomacy in his post-cowboy phase so much as “a foreign policy of empty gestures” consisting of “strong words here; a soothing telephone call and hasty meetings there.” The ambition is not to control events but “to kick the proverbial can down the road — far enough so the next president can deal with it.” There is no plan for victory in Iraq, only a wish and a prayer that the apocalypse won’t arrive before Mr. Bush retires to his ranch....
Placed side by side, the two pieces make a convincing case that the heated rhetoric and political passions of the War on Terra are little more than a convenient excuse to consolidate power here at home and use it for their own ends.

By any measure, the administration really doesn't care about providing actual security here at home or prosecuting the real war on terror abroad. The task force hunting down Osama Bin Forgotten has been disbanded, the Taliban is making a strong resurgence, Iraq is steadily turning to civil war, and the chaos is now spreading across the Middle East. Meanwhile, madmen in North Korea and Iran are getting a free pass. Here at home, the Department of Homeland Security is doling out funds to their base in the Red States and ignoring the real threats on the coasts. (Old MacDonald's Petting Zoo and the Sweetwater Flea Market are terrorist targets, while NYC has nothing worth hitting? Are you shitting me?) Security at our ports and our chemical and nuclear plants are a joke, and the only reason they're paying any attention to the borders now is to ratchet up their base's fears of atheistic, illegal Mexlamofascist immigrants creeping across our borders to work subminimum wage jobs so they can marry gay.

The craven political calculus of this administration is clear. The writing has been on the wall for some time, but now thanks to the clumsy attacks by Rove and company, the writing's in the New York Times as well.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

The Buck Stops Over There

Sweet Zombie Jesus! I drop off the radar for four days to handle a family emergency, and the whole damn planet goes apeshit crazy.

I still haven't wrapped my head around the insanity in the Middle East, so I thought I'd just focus for now on what I know best -- the insanity here at home. These may all be old news to you by now, but if you haven't read them yet, be sure to check out Kevin Baker's piece on the tried-and-true "Stabbed in the Back" myth that conservatives will be rolling out to explain the failure in Iraq, Spencer Ackerman's TNR piece on conservative claims that Al-Qaeda has infilitrated the State Department, and Alan Wolfe's excellent piece on "Why Conservatives Can't Govern."

All three pieces are great on their own, but together they highlight a common theme running through the last fifty years of American conservatism -- their habit of blaming others for their own failures. Their foreign adventures don't crumble from their own incompetence or poor execution, but rather because some mean ol' newspaper dares to criticize them. Their domestic bungling stems not from the inherent shortcomings of modern conservatism, but because Republican leaders are tricked by liberals.

Sheesh. Whatever happened to all that talk about a return to personal responsibility after the nightmare years of Bill Clinton's reign? Does it only apply to welfare mothers?

On the bright side, many of these same conservatives are convinced that the trouble in the Middle East is a sign that the Rapture is imminent and are giddy with anticipation that they'll soon be leaving the planet. At least the rest of us can look forward to an end to all their whining.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Friday Random Ten

Just back from a brutal week, so I'm phoning it in with a recycled, "classic" Friday Random Ten. Enjoy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, July 13, 2006

The One that Binds Them All

It has come to my attention that Israel is not the happiest place on earth. There is, however, one thing that even the craziest of the religious crazies in Israel can agree on: gays are bad.

JERUSALEM -- Christian leaders condemned it. Jewish radicals put a bounty on participants. Muslim clerics threatened to flood the streets with protesters. Jerusalem's conflicting religions have found rare common ground: opposition to
an international gay pride parade next month. . . .

"This group of homosexuals, we consider them impure," [Sheik Taissir Taimimi] said, calling on Palestinians to take to the streets to prevent marchers from entering east Jerusalem, where the holy sites are located. They "must not be allowed to enter Jerusalem" . . . .

Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski, himself an ultra-Orthodox Jew, has called for the parade's cancellation, but his office said Tuesday he had no authority to take such action. . . . [last summer] Thousands marched in a local gay pride parade instead, weathering insults from protesters and a stabbing attack by an ultra-Orthodox Jew that wounded three people. The threat of violence has resurfaced this year. An anonymous flyer distributed in some ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods Tuesday offered about $4,400 to anyone who killed a marcher.

Three Christian Zionist groups based in Jerusalem issued a joint statement condemning the march, saying its choice of venue was intended to spur conflict. "It's provocative, confrontational and it's a PR move. It's a gimmick," said David Parsons, spokesman for the International Christian Embassy, an Evangelical group that signed the statement. "It exploits what Jerusalem means to us. I don't think it means anything to the gay and lesbian community."

First of all, having "ultra" in your religious denomination's name is BADASS. As of now, please consider me an ultra-Nonpracticing Episcopalian.

Second of all, doesn't this display of unity warm the cockles of your heart? I know I know, unifying to hate gays ain't exactly the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty, but we've got to give these guys positive reinforcement whenever we can. While I have no interest in stoking anti-gay fires, I wish they would hold huge anti-gay demonstrations in Jerusalem. Form anti-gay clubs, publish anti-gay magazines, join an anti-gay carpool, whatever. Just come together. Maybe, just maybe, a Muslim guy will discover he likes the same hot chocolate powder as the Jewish guy sitting next to him, and before you know it we have peace in the middle east.

Finally, I don't want any harm to come to the folks who attend this big parade, but I do have a suggestion, in the interest of peace: call yourselves "ultra-gay."

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

A Big-Government Idea for Our Big Mouths

Steve Bennen notes that the GOP congress is split over renewal of the Voting Rights Act (VRA), which was signed by Johnson back in '65 to open up the voting process to minorities. There's some provisions that say districts with a history of discrimination (i.e., the south) must submit any voting changes to the Attorney General for approval, and there's some other provisions that require multilingual ballots. Eighty reps want those provisions removed, some cuz of the racial thing and some for the bilingual thing.

The argument for getting rid of the anti-discrimination provisions is twofold: one, the problems are pretty much gone, and two, it's simply un-American to treat one group of voters differently from another. (The multilingual thing seems like it's really part of the larger immigration debate, so I don't plan on addressing it here.)

The persistence of discrimination can be debated. Maybe someone like Otto Man could make it interesting and entertaining (he'll be back soon - I promise), but it's way too hot and humid here in metro DC for me to bother with it. Besides, too often we get caught up in debating these underlying issues and miss out on what might be an easier solution. Today is all about the path of least resistance.

Instead of trying to cut away parts of the VRA, which really ain't gonna happen, why not just expand it? Instead of singling out the south, let's just assume that every voting district in the country is susceptible to discrimination and have them submit their voting changes to the Atty Gen. And instead of just being about race, let's expand the definition of "discrimination" to include all the stuff our equal employment laws stipulate: age, gender, physical appearance, religion, economic status, etc.

My conservative friends might say expanding VRA would be terrible, because this would be an expansion of gov't bureaucracy and would be expensive and so on. My knee-jerk response would be to chuckle and recount the ways in which small-gov't conservatives have made our gov't fatter than Michael Moore. This would feel great but would be pretty unproductive, which tells me I should leave it for the Bushes and Zidanes of the world.

So instead I'd tell them to think of it as an investment. Politicians have to spend millions just for the chance to win a house seat; if you were going to spend millions of dollars on something, wouldn't you want to know you had a fair chance of reaping the rewards? Also, investing in our voter integrity at home might help us win hearts and minds abroad. Think of it as an exercise in those democratic, small "L" liberal ideals that we keep barfing on the Iraqis. Show them that we mean it about fairly elected governments and all that.

Let's put a small amount of money where our big fat mouths are.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Congress Attacks Gambling, Parenthood

So the wife is pregnant with what appears to be my baby (she started kicking moments after my Italian homeboys won the World Cup, so I'm pretty sure she's mine), and we have toyed with the possibility of me, the designated bread winner and sabertooth tiger slayer, doing the stay-at-home fathering thing, at least for awhile (i.e., until my employer discovers that I don't actually have amoria phlebitis). While this would have many benefits, such as watching favorite CHiPs episodes on TBS, wearing PJs all day, and flirting with the mailman, I would still need to mollify my manly drive to earn money and help with the bills.

The perfect gig would allow me to stay at home (in the PJs, of course) with the kid while bringing in the dough. It would allow me to take lots of breaks to hose down the baby and put some food in her bowl, and the pay would be requisite to my high educational and social standing. Only one job description fits: online gambler. I'd probably be more of a card player than a sports better, as all that stuff about overs and unders and parlays sounds, quite frankly, a little homo to me. No, it's got to be black jack or that hold'em thing the kids love so much.

But wait! It seems that some congresspersons don't think I should be able to support my family. They want me to drive to freakin' Atlantic City with my kid strapped to the roofrack. Get this crapfest:
Gamblers who prefer their laptops to blackjack tables won't like what Congress is doing. On Tuesday, the House plans to vote on a bill that would ban credit cards for paying online bets and could padlock gambling Web sites. The legislation would clarify existing law to spell out that it is illegal to gamble online.
What the legislation would really spell out is that Congress hates stay-at-home fathers. But you know who really gets hurt? The children. Instead of learning important lessons about the value of education (as I gamble with her college fund) and the importance of getting money for absolutely no work, she'll be watching that damned baby Einstein crap and singing "two plus two is four, two plus two is four" along with Barney.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Zidane, FIFA Put the "W" in "World Cup"

You're one of the best penalty kickers in the world. If your team can hold on for just a few more minutes, you will decide the World Cup championship with penalty kicks -- against a team known for sucking at penalty kicks. So what do you do? You headbutt a guy because he said something you didn't like. You get kicked out of the game, costing your team their best penalty kicker and making those final minutes that much more exhausting for your remaining teammates. Your team comes up one penalty kick short (the guy you headbutted? yeah, he nailed his).

In reality, you have disgraced yourself and your country on the largest stage imaginable.

In FIFA, you get a gold medal.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

An Olive Branch

In an effort to heal the internets in the aftermath of the Great YouTube War of 2006, I'd like to offer the world this olive branch -- Jerry Minor and Craig Robinson performing "Somebody's Fuckin' My Lady" on Real Time with Bill Maher.

For those who've recently suffered head trauma, let me point out that this is not safe for work. But damn funny. Enjoy.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

The Zodiac Killer

The blogosphere has suddenly erupted in a YouTube battle of horrible songs. So far, Atrios, the Poor Man and Sadly, No! have all waded into the fight, laying waste to the internets' tubes with videos of Wesley Willis, Billy Ray Cyrus, and -- God help them -- John Ashcroft.

Because we here at LLatPoN are lovers, not fighters, we've resisted joining the fray. But since the carnage is getting out of hand, I have no choice but to drop the neutron bomb of horrible music in hopes of stopping it all.

Ladies and gentlemen, Harvey Sid Fisher. Singing "songs" about astrological signs. With interpretive dance. May God have mercy on our souls.

If you survived that one, you'll be happy to know that HSF does the complete Zodiac. Go bask in its awfulness, if you dare.

Scenes from a Mall

I just came across this photo over at Dependable Renegade. Priceless.

From the license plate, I'd say that the proud owner of this sticker hails from DeKalb County, Georgia. Those are the eastern suburbs of Atlanta -- not exactly deep-woods Alabama, but still in the heart of Dubya Country. Slapping that sticker on a car there took balls as big as church bells.

Friday, July 07, 2006

A Few of Their Favorite Things

The one thing that always puzzles me is the apparent belief of conservatives that they can best prove their love of America by showing how much they hate their fellow Americans.

The hate-Americans-first crowd tends to take their fellow citizens and reduce them to evil caricatures, a propaganda of the worst sort. And why not? Symbolism is the very heart of the conservative movement. As much as they talk about "values," upon closer inspection it seems that they're much more concerned with visuals.

When it comes to patriotism, for instance, conservatives tend to focus all their attention on the flag. They don't seem to be concerned with what the flag stands for. They just want to be sure that the flag stands. Period. Even though there were a total of four flag burnings in the United States last year -- or 0.00000001 flags burnt per person -- they're convinced that we need to amend the U.S. Constitution to stop this epidemic. For a group that spends so much time fetishizing the flag, they don't seem to care at all that the flag's honor is being sullied by this administration's embrace of torture, lies, and pre-emptive war. No, none of that matters. All that matters is that the flag remain physically pure.

Or how about our soldiers? They, too, have been reduced to mere symbolism, ranging from the president's carefully manicured photo ops to his supporters' "Support the Troops" stickers. As far as the actual troops go, conservatives don't really care. Sure, they talk a good game about respecting the sacrifices of our soldiers, but their policy actions and their political attacks show those words to be lies. The soldier is just a prop for the backdrop. He shouldn't be seen or heard.

The same thing goes for religion. Being a good Christian, in the eyes of most conservatives, doesn't mean heeding Jesus's touchy-feely words about peace, love, forgiveness, and brotherhood. No, Christianity again is nothing more than symbols. The conservative campaign to get the Ten Commandments erected everywhere is less about the message contained in them -- a fact made clear by Stephen Colbert's interview with a clueless congressional sponsor of the measure -- and more about the need to plant another symbol that conservatives can fetishize. Their outrage over court rulings against crosses and Nativity scenes on public property comes from the same source. I was taught that "they'll know we are Christians by our love," but apparently conservative Christians have given up on the love stuff and are merely looking to brand more territory with the trademarked symbols.

I could go on and on, but you get the point. For them, the symbol itself is always what's important, but never the values that are being symbolized. They wrap themselves up with an obsession with things and ignore the much more important matters that give such symbols their power in the first place.

Personally, I think they should take a closer look at their Ten Commandments statues. I seem to recall a warning in there about graven images.

He's Thinkin What I'm Sayin

Michael Kinsley has a good op-ed in the Post today about stem cell research and the primary reason given for opposing it: the practice causes the death of embryos, which, if you believe human life begins at fertilization, should be considered murder. Kinsley notes that if you believe every single human embryo must be protected, then you can't possibly support in vitro fertilization.
Proponents of stem cell research like to emphasize that it doesn't cost the life of a single embryo. The embryos killed to extract their stem cells were doomed already. But this argument gives too much ground, and misses the point. If embryos are human beings, it's not okay to kill them for their stem cells just because you were going to kill them, or knowingly let them die, anyway. The better point -- the killer point, if you'll pardon the expression -- is that if embryos are human beings, the routine practices of fertility clinics are far worse -- both in numbers and in criminal intent -- than stem cell research. And yet, no one objects, or objects very loudly. President Bush actually praised the work of fertility clinics in his first speech announcing restrictions on stem cells.
Me, I don't think human life begins at fertilization, so I have no moral qualms about in vitro. Nothing is more understandable than a couple wanting their kids to share their genetics.

I see this issue raised on the librul blogs sometimes (lordy, do we love the "Five blastocysts in a dish and a live baby are in a burning building, which do you save?" zinger), but I never hear it discussed in a neutral forum on TV or read about it in the newspapers, except in op-ed form like the above. What gives?

Friday Random Ten

When it comes to this week's album cover, just where do I begin?

The bold fashion statement of the menfolk, with their matching sweater vests worn over their matching turtleneck sweaters? The stunning appropriation of Jim Traficant's hair nightmare by the female member? The awesome Olan Mills Studio backdrop?

Or perhaps the boldness in naming themselves "Country Church" when they seem to embody neither? I mean, one of their male members is clearly a homersexual and the other two seem to be the models for the Super Mario Brothers.

Maybe we should just move on to the Friday Random Ten.

For those of you joining our program already in progress, here's how it works. Step One, fire up your iTunes or your imitationTunes and set it to random. Step Two, hit play and note the first ten songs that stumble forth. (As always, be honest. If it lands on the Starland Vocal Band, then so be it.) And Step Three, if you're feeling saucy, Bernaise, go ahead and give the songs a Coolness Self-Audit as well. (A friendly how-to guide is available here.)

Here goes:

1. Bukka White, "Shake 'Em On Down" -- Although nowhere nearly as famous as his cousin B.B. King, Booker T. Washington White is a blues legend. This is a classic old tune recorded in 1937, reportedly while White was still imprisoned in Mississippi's notorious Parchman State Prison. So show some goddamned respect. 8/10

2. Radiohead, "Rhinestone Cowboy (live)" -- Even though this is a pretty straightforward and straight-faced cover of a mediocre tune, you've got to admire the cheek it takes to cover Glenn Campbell. But is it cool? 6/10

3. Curtis Mayfield, "Keep On Trippin'" -- On the absolute scale of coolness, Mayfield ranks right up there at the top. This isn't his finest work, but it's still damn sweet stuff. 9/10

4. The New Pornographers, "Twin Cinema" -- I know these kids are supposedly all the rage in the hip indie rocking world, but they just do nothing for me. They might be trying too hard. And trying, as we all know, is patently uncool. 5/10

5. Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five, "The Message" -- Now that's a nice recovery. This song is rightfully regarded as a hip-hop classic, a great combination of infectious grooves and brilliant lyrics. Hard to believe they could make a song with such an angry undertone sound so appealing. Good thing The Man is genetically incapable of hearing the lyrics. 10/10

6. The Stanley Brothers, "A Voice From On High" -- The vocals in this bluegrass tune are so angelic, you'd think that you were "on high" with the Heavenly Father too. Well, maybe just "high." 7/10

7. Johnny Cash, "Dirty Old Egg-Sucking Dog" -- The title's pretty much the best part of this song. As much as I adore the Man in Black, a plodding tune about the pathetic old dog he's going to blow away with a shotgun doesn't really do it for me. 4/10

8. Neutral Milk Hotel, "Bucket" -- This is from a 1996 live performance at the Knitting Factory, something I discovered in one of Sen. Ted Stevens' internet tubes. It's a slow burn, lit by some pained Jeff Mangum vocals. Very nice. 8/10

9. Lush, "Sweetness and Light" -- Ah, the sweet sound of shoegazer music. Shoegazer always makes me feel like I'm late for an English lit class. This one has everything you'd want from the genre, from the swirling fuzzy guitars to the high-pitched female vocals. They certainly get the angsty job done, but as Bart Simpson once said, "making teenagers depressed is like shooting fish in a barrel." 6/10

10. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, "Over and Over Again" -- This is another live version I found on the internets. (Sen. Stevens is right! The internets are slow because those tubes are all clogged with this crap!) The live performance is not much different from the studio version, which is to say, it's absofuckinglutely great. 9/10

Well, that gives me a 7.2 average. Much like the MTV Generation, I'm apparently incapable of feeling either highs or lows. What's that like, you ask? Meh.

I'm sure that the rest of you folks can do better than that. So kindly drop your own random ten in the comments below, with or without the coolness self-audit. Or don't. See if I care.

Thursday, July 06, 2006


For those of you who are only now rousing yourself from a drunken and bloated Independence Day weekend coma -- you know who you are -- Joe Lieberman made an interesting announcement on Monday that he's going to run in the fall election whether he wins the Democratic Primary or not.

Well, it's an, um, interesting primary strategy to tell the very voters you're courting that they can go Cheney themselves, but that's our Holy Joe. His internal polling must show that Ned Lamont is kicking his sellout behind up and down the state. (And let's not forget that other Connecticut folks want to kick his ass too.)

Trying to salvage his chances for re-election, Lieberman is hoping to style himself a "petitioning Democrat" for the fall ballot. However, state electoral laws won't allow him to run under any variation of the party name if he doesn't get the nomination. Stupid democracy! (No idea what name he'll run under once he's done running from the Democratic Party. An Atrios commenter suggested that he run as a member of the Bullshit Moose Party. Sounds about right to me.)

In any case, tonight's primary debate between Lieberman and Lamont should be very interesting, to say the least. It's going to be carried live on C-Span at 7pm. (Yes, I realize that completely undercuts the above comment about it being interesting.)

(Image courtesy of the valiant, heterosexual, patriotic Jesus's General.)

Update: Just watched the debate. It certainly didn't fail to deliver on the fireworks.

Lamont's new to the political game, but he still landed a couple nice blows, ranging from a well-crafted opening statement -- "If you're not going to stand up to George Bush's failed agenda, I will" -- to a great off-the-cuff zinger when Lieberman kept interrupting -- "Hold on, sir. This isn't Fox News." He was a bit wobbly on illegal immigration, but made some great jabs on Iraq, the economy, and gas prices. Although a little wide-eyed, he seemed to be eager to get to work and get things done.

Lieberman, meanwhile, seemed to think it was a personal affront that he had to even be there. (Keith Olbermann just compared him to Crocker Jarvis, the incumbent senator in Robert Redford's The Candidate who acted much the same way.) In an interesting strategy, Lieberman alternated his tone between condescension, bullying condescension, and contemptuous condescension. Plus, he kept on borrowing debating tools from Republicans, mocking Lamont as a flip-flopper and invoking Reagan's "there you go again" comment on several occasions. Yeah, that's going to go over really well with Democratic primary voters.

"I Want to Do a Romance Inside of You"

Ladies and gentlemen, it is with the utmost pleasure that I bring you news of Borat: The Movie.

As the film trailer makes clear, in Borat's native Kazhakstan they have many hobbies: disco dancing, archery, rape, and table tennis.

So much culture, so little time to soak it all in. Enjoy!

Hooked on Newspeak

Courtesy of Shakespeare's Sister, I see that a group calling itself the American Literacy Council wants to improve literacy rates in this country by making the English language entirely illegible.

Simply put, their brilliant plan is to change all the spellings to phonetic ones, which would supposedly make it easier for children to learn the language. Apparently, the rest of us will have to conform to a fourth-grader's view of the world in order to give them pride in their crappy spelling. (Sort of like how we handled Dan Quayle.)

As Shakes' Sis notes, their proposal is incredibly stupid, but the MSNBC report about it is even worse:
Those in favor of simplified spelling say children would learn faster and illiteracy rates would drop. Opponents say a new system would make spelling even more confusing.

Eether wae, the consept has yet to capcher th publix imajinaeshun.

It’s been 100 years since Andrew Carnegie helped create the Simplified Spelling Board to promote a retooling of written English and President Theodore Roosevelt tried to force the government to use simplified spelling in its publications. But advocates aren’t giving up.

They even picket the national spelling bee finals, held every year in Washington, costumed as bumble bees and hoisting signs that say “Enuf is enuf but enough is too much” or “I’m thru with through.”

Thae sae th bee selebraets th ability of a fue stoodents to master a dificult sistem that stumps meny utherz hoo cuud do just as wel if speling were simpler.
Simplify, simplify, simplify. Because as we all know, all these complicated spellings lead to complicated thoughts -- thoughts that might find problems with the world as it is.

And those thoughts, of course, are Thoughtcrimes and deemed to be Double Plus Ungood.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Caption Contest

In the spirit of Independence Day, a caption contest dedicated to The Decider seemed wholly appropriate.

So have at him. The Founders would have wanted it this way.

(In a change of pace, I've stolen this photo from Norbizness's weekly caption contest instead of Dependable Renegade.)

Pogrom 2006

Jesus's General has an, um, interesting exchange up with the tireless patriots who are putting non-Christian, un-American liberals in their place. Enjoy.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

"Celebrate the Independence of Your Nation by Blowing Up a Small Piece of It"

Happy Fourth of July, folks.

If you're a conservative, I'm sure you'll continue celebrating our nation's tradition of freedom by calling for the execution of treasonous reporters and handing over all your civil liberties so you don't come down with the Islamocooties.

If you're a liberal, try this nice piece on patriotic dissent by E.J. Dionne, this column on the press by Nick Kristof, and an important reminder of why we're still the good guys.

U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!

Monday, July 03, 2006

"Oh, So They Have Internet on Computers Now!"

This is already all over the internets, but given our past fun with Sen. Ted Stevens -- the whiny old crank whom Thrillhous nicknamed Sen. Baby Made a Boom-Boom -- I thought we should pay attention to his latest little bit of insanity.

Anyway, here's Sen. Stevens explaining why he voted against net neutrality and, in the process, helpfully explaining the intricacies of the internet:
I just the other day got, an internet was sent by my staff at 10 o'clock in the morning on Friday and I just got it yesterday. Why?

Because it got tangled up with all these things going on the internet commercially.

So you want to talk about the consumer? Let's talk about you and me. We use this internet to communicate and we aren't using it for commercial purposes.

We aren't earning anything by going on that internet. Now I'm not saying you have to or you want to discriminate against those people [...]

The regulatory approach is wrong. Your approach is regulatory in the sense that it says "No one can charge anyone for massively invading this world of the internet". No, I'm not finished. I want people to understand my position, I'm not going to take a lot of time. [?]

They want to deliver vast amounts of information over the internet. And again, the internet is not something you just dump something on. It's not a truck.

It's a series of tubes.

And if you don't understand those tubes can be filled and if they are filled, when you put your message in, it gets in line and its going to be delayed by anyone that puts into that tube enormous amounts of material, enormous amounts of material.

Now we have a separate Department of Defense internet now, did you know that? Do you know why?

Because they have to have theirs delivered immediately. They can't afford getting delayed by other people.
Part of me finds the clueless old coot act hilarious, since it fills the void left by Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-Jurassic). (I remember one time when Thurmond actually instructed a witness to "speak into the machine." Not "the microphone," but "the machine".) But since Sen. Stevens is, you know, using his Magoo-like perception powers to craft ill-informed votes that'll affect our lives, maybe it's not so funny.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

World Cup

Well, we're finally down to the Final Four in the World Cup, and I'm thrilled to see that Duke missed the cut. Suck it, Coach K!

It's an all-European group for the finals, with Portugal, France, Germany, and Italy all making it in. (Man, the Swiss have got to be pissed about all their neighbors going to the big dance. Or maybe not. They are Swiss, after all.) While sweeping the finals is going to make the Continent even more insufferable for the next few years, at least it's going to give us some phenomenal matchups in the coming days.

Here's what we've got:

The Original Axis of Evil Reunion Tour: Germany vs. Italy
This contest will offer a little bit of nostalgia for those who enjoyed the grand collaborations between these countries in the late 1930s and early 1940s. I'm fine with seeing these two go at it, since it'll finally settle the bad blood from the Hitler-Mussolini break-up. But part of me is worried they're going to team up and go kick the crap out of the Czech team. Again. If they're smart, the fans in the Sudetenland are going to watch this game with the engine running.

On the merits, this should be a great game. The Germans specialize in swift strikes and have the talent to maintain the blitzkreig attack all game long. Klose, Podolski, and Neuville are brilliant up front, and Ballack and Frings do a great job supporting the attack. The Italians, despite their well-deserved reputations as the biggest prima donnas of the game, are defensive masters and can lock down a 1-0 lead with the best of them.

It should be a tough one, but the Germans have better chemistry and the huge home-field advantage. I think the Germans can pull it off. Hey, they lasted longer back in the '40s anyway.

"I'm Gettin' Too Old for This Shit": France vs. Portugal
Neither team was expected to make it this far, with most observers guessing that the Portuguese would be sunk by the English and the French would get steamrolled by tournament favorites Brazil. Both pulled off upsets. The Portuguese benefitted from their own luck and England's stupidity, while the French simply outhustled the Brazilian squad.

Both teams have an aging star who's come out of retirement for one last big score. Portugal's Figo is a legend, but he's started to show signs of wear and tear. France's Zinedine Zidane not only has a cooler name, but a hell of a lot of gas left in his tank. He made the Brazilians look like a junior high team in the last game, and he shows no signs of slowing down. Plus, he's got a much stronger supporting cast, with Henry, Ribery, Sagnol, and Makalele adding some energy. Portugal, meanwhile, has a bunch of guys who remind me of a young Scott Baio.

Portugal has been riding a wave of lucky breaks to get this far, but I think that comes to an end here. France was so dominant in the game against Brazil that I've got to assume they're going to do likewise with the country that colonized Brazil too.

All things considered, I think it's going to be Germany and France in the final game, with the host country once again showing that it's Deutschland Über Alles!

While Germany has already won the Cup -- not once, not twice, but thrice! -- it's always been as "West Germany." This would be the first time since reunification. We can only hope they mark the occasion with a massive singalong to Peaches and Herb's classic ballad "Reunited."