Sunday, April 30, 2006

Caption Contest

It's a lazy Sunday afternoon, and that's as good a time as any for a caption contest.

This one should bring out your inner snark.

Speaking Truthiness to Power

Stephen Colbert hosted the White House Correspondents Dinner the other night and, apparently, the press and the president were stunned to see a man who mocks them for a living, well, mock them.

Editor & Publisher has the full story, and here are some choice excerpts:
A blistering comedy “tribute” to President Bush by Comedy Central’s faux talk show host Stephen Colbert at the White House Correspondent Dinner Saturday night left George and Laura Bush unsmiling at its close. ....

Colbert, who spoke in the guise of his talk show character, who ostensibly supports the president strongly, urged the Bush to ignore his low approval ratings, saying they were based on reality, “and reality has a well-known liberal bias.”

He attacked those in the press who claim that the shake-up at the White House was merely re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. “This administration is soaring, not sinking,” he said. “If anything, they are re-arranging the deck chairs on the Hindenburg." ....

Turning to the war, he declared, "I believe that the government that governs best is a government that governs least, and by these standards we have set up a fabulous government in Iraq." ....

Colbert also made biting cracks about missing WMDs, “photo ops” on aircraft carriers and at hurricane disasters, melting glaciers and Vice President Cheney shooting people in the face. He advised the crowd, "if anybody needs anything at their tables, speak slowly and clearly on into your table numbers and somebody from the N.S.A. will be right over with a cocktail. " ....

Also lampooning the press, Colbert complained that he was “surrounded by the liberal media who are destroying this country, except for Fox News. Fox believes in presenting both sides of the story — the president’s side and the vice president’s side." He also reflected on the alleged good old days, when the media was still swallowing the WMD story.

Addressing the reporters, he said, "Let's review the rules. Here's how it works. The president makes decisions, he’s the decider. The press secretary announces those decisions, and you people of the press type those decisions down. Make, announce, type. Put them through a spell check and go home. Get to know your family again. Make love to your wife. Write that novel you got kicking around in your head. You know, the one about the intrepid Washington reporter with the courage to stand up to the administration. You know--fiction."
Zing! Read the whole piece. He was on fire.

Update: I should've known better -- Crooks & Liars has the video.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

"Uh, Son ... There Ain't No Draft No More."

The NFL Draft has just begun, and it'll all be over in a mere 48 hours or so. Since I'll be listening to the loud booming of Chris Berman (and watching the loud clothing of Chris Berman) for the next two days, I thought I'd pass along this classic Berman story. Unreal.

Consider this an open thread for all draft-related commentary.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Truth in Headlines

I think the Cunning Realist's suspicions are right -- the last word was somehow omitted from this AP headline.

Caption Contest

Given the underwhelming response we had to the last caption contest, I know you're all itching for a chance to do it again.

So here he is -- the Decider. Have at him.

The Threatdown

The blogosphere is all atwitter over Stephen Colbert's brilliant smackdown of Bill Kristol on last night's "Colbert Report," and with good cause. The question about how the Project for a New American Century was going was so good, I almost needed a post-coital cigarette, and it just rolled on from there.

Crooks & Liars, as always, has the video.

A Parliament of Whores

Holy crap. It's looking more and more like the rumors about Duke Cunningham's fact finding missions into the world of D.C. prostitution are true and, what's more, there might be as many as a half dozen other congressmen implicated as well.

Daily Kos has the complete rundown.

Update: This just gets better and better. There are rumors swirling around that CIA Director Porter Goss was involved. I'm not exactly convinced by these, but as Peggy Noonan once said: "Is it irresponsible to speculate? No, it would be irresponsible not to speculate."

Update II: Just when you think it can't get any better, Digby speculates that these weren't just wild congressional sex parties, but wild congressional gay sex parties. I'd forgotten about the Dukestir's backstory. Suddenly Jeff Gannon makes a lot of sense. (By the way, I'm hereby trademarking the phrase "Suddenly Jeff Gannon" for the inevitable sitcom that'll result from all this.)

Friday Random Ten

At long last, it's time for Mrs. Mills' Knees-Up Party.

While I'm sure that the "knees-up" comment is a reference to the irresistable urge we'd all have to dance once we'd heard her rendition of "Yellow Submarine," every time I look at this album cover, "knees-up" takes on a disturbing, troubling sexual connotation. And, truth be told, song titles like "Down at the Old Bull And Bush," "For Me and My Gal," and "Knees Up, Mother Brown" only cement an image that I'd only be able to get out of my brain with a nail gun.

Aside from the troubling sexual imagery, we also have the outfits on the inmates in Mrs. Mills' asylum. Looks like she saw one too many Ron Popeil infomercials for the Eazy Home Embroidery set and decided to jazz up those boring black outfits with a collection of old buttons, glitter, and chewing gum wrappers. I'm not sure what look she was aiming for, but an off-off-off-Broadway production of Alamo! The Musical! seems about right. (If you're wondering why those outfits look familiar, they were apparently claimed at a Salvation Army clearinghouse in the late '80s and recycled here. )

Anyway, since the knees are up -- and fashion's forward! -- that can only mean that it's once again time for the Friday Random Ten. You know the drill by now, so let's do this thing.

1. Rose Royce, "Born to Love You" -- Oh, that's a nice start. This is straight off the Car Wash soundtrack, and it's funkier and flier than Franklin Ajaye's massive afro. You might think that massive hand clapping would detract from this song. If so, you're a narc. 8/10

2. Pharoah Sanders, "Astral Traveling (Boozoo Bajou Remix)" -- This is a recent purchase, and one I'm not entirely settled on. It's a fairly atmospheric remix of the Sanders jazz tune, not all that thrilling but not too bad. Eh. 6/10

3. The Replacements, "Here Comes a Regular" -- I'd like to this of this as the Mats rebuttal to the "Cheers" theme song, one in which they envision Norm Peterson as a semi-suicidal type in a love-hate relationship with a closeted and certifiably crazy Cliff Claven. Maybe I'm reaching here. 7/10

4. Ray Charles, "Lonely Avenue" -- A classic bit of Atlantic-era Charles. It's a little bit plodding in parts, but given the theme of the song, I suppose that's the way he meant it. 7/10

5. Pixies, "Here Comes Your Man" -- The first and the only song I ever really learned how to play on the bass guitar. Probably the poppiest the Pixies ever got, so much so that it even yielded a medium-rotation music video. If I'm remembering this correctly, the band refused to lip sync for the video and instead simply opened their mouths wide whenever they had a line to sing. A nice touch. 8/10

6. The Isley Brothers, "Work to Do" -- Although most people never get past "Who's That Lady," the Isleys put together some wonderful R&B and funk numbers during their career. And this was certainly a great one -- powerful soul lyrics, a nice guitar riff, and incredible harmonizing. This is a perfect song for the morning commute. 10/10

7. Stereolab, "Ping Pong" -- Some sweet electronica love from the excellent Mars Audiac Quintet album. So many of Stereolab's songs seem to hinge on a minor moment, and this one comes together with the light la-de-dahs in the background vocals. Catchy as hell. 9/10

8. Common, "Go!" -- I'm normally a big fan of Common and guest vocalist Kanye West, but for some reason this song just never really did anything for me. Maybe it's the way the word "Go" is repeated three hundred times. Maybe. 5/10

9. Dead Kennedys, "Let's Lynch the Landlord" -- I've always wondered if Jello Biafra was a homeowner when this song came out and, if not, whether this was a not-so-subtle attempt to get out of some back rent. One of the more melodic efforts off the classic Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables. Cripes, it even has a guitar solo. WTF? 8/10

10. Bonnie "Prince" Billy, "Ignition" -- This is a live cover of a disturbing R. Kelly sex song. As anyone who's seen his 148-part epic video series knows, R. Kelly is the undisputed master of the modern metaphor, and here he uses automotive imagery to suggest sexual acts. Sadly, I must've listened to it a half dozen times before I realized what the repeated call to "switch lanes" meant. In this version from a 2004 concert, Will Oldham milks the magic for all it's worth. 10/10

Hey, that gives me a stunning 8.0 average on the coolness scales. I'm not sure, but that might be an all-time record. Hard to say, though. Much like Oliver North and other true patriots, we shred most of our records here so they can't be used against us.

Alright, folks, let's see what you've got. Give us your own random ten in the comments, and if you're feeling saucy, Bernaise, throw in a coolness self-audit as well.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Frontrunner for Treasury Sec. Job Emerges

After weeks of flailing around for someone, anyone, to take the Treasury position, a strong candidate has arisen in the northwest.
An Oregon man who went to a hospital complaining of a headache was found to have 12 nails embedded in his skull from a suicide attempt with a nail gun, doctors say.

At first blush, he doesn’t appear to be a Bush man. He’s not from Texas, he didn’t work in the Nixon or Ford administration, and he prefers smoking his drug of choice rather than snorting it. But look closer - specifically, look at his qualities of Character.
  • He is a decider. He decided to kill himself, and he had a nail gun. By gummit, he wasn’t going to sit around and debate whether or not he should use the nail gun to kill himself.

  • He is strong in the face of temporary setbacks. Most Oregonians would have changed course after the first 4 or 5 nails to the head. They would have been wracked with self doubt: “Gee, maybe shooting 2-inch nails into my head isn’t the best way to do this. Maybe I should just give up and use spit balls.” But no, this man went the distance, pumping the full dozen into his cranium.

  • He’s not afraid to mildly bend, shade, tweak, or fluff the truth for a just cause. When you intentionally inject a dozen nails into your skull and still not die, you don’t tell the docs it was a failed suicide attempt. That’ll just make your hospital bill bigger, what with the round-the-clock surveillance and psych help. (See? He’s good at saving money.) Besides, do we want the terrorists to think we’re so incompetent that we can’t even kill ourselves with nail guns? Osama would laugh himself silly.

  • He firmly holds maintains his vision, even if that vision appears to lead to disastrous results. A lot of weaker men might sit back and say “I shot 12 nails into my head on purpose. Everyone says I have to stop using meth and not shoot nails into my brain. Maybe I should do that.” Hell no! This man left his rehab program early, against doctor’s orders. He is strong in his belief that he can shoot 12 nails into his head anytime he wants and there will be no problems, except maybe a headache - that is, as long as he sticks to his fundamental vision that life is better with meth. This is the kind of man who can convince everyone that tax cuts are always good, no matter what.

  • If the democrats in congress still manage to wreck the economy and the prez needs to pin the blame on somebody in his cabinet, our Oregon friend has the best excuse ever. “I’m sorry for ruining the president’s perfect plan for a perfect economy, but I shot 12 nails in my head awhile back. Twelve freakin’ nails.”

Of course, Pinhead (I mean that in the good Hellraiser way, not the bad Bill O’Reilly way) has only just caught the attention of W’s staffers, and the way he handles himself over the next few days is crucial. Now that the feckless mainstream elitist media filter has published their biased twisting of the events, will he push back with appropriate vigor? Can he convince middle America that he never shot 12 nails into his head, and that if it did happen it was probably the fault of his liberal neighbor who left his shiny new nail gun in his only-moderately secured tool shed?

Only time will tell, but I’m rooting for you, Pinny.

"Feed Mayonnaise to the Tuna .... Call Starkist."

While trolling over at Sideshow Bob's place, I just had an idea for a new bumpersticker slogan. (I knew it was an idea, because my head hurt something fierce, and yet I hadn't had any ice cream today.)

Anyway, I have to get it out before it overtakes my brain's usual repository of useless knowledge and football stats. Here it is:
You can't spell HUBRIS without BUSH.
What do you think. Is it too literate? Too likely to invoke an "egghead loves his booky-wooks" comment? Does the word "Bush" in capital letters make you giggle like a schoolboy?

Liberalism and Authenticity

Over at the Huffington Post, Thomas Frank reviews Joe Klein's new book and rips him a new one:
Liberalism sucks, authenticity rocks: All else in Politics Lost (and, indeed, in all the Klein works I have read) can be extrapolated from these two fixed points. So: If someone strikes Mr. Klein as authentic, you can be fairly sure he's not a liberal. And conversely: If someone is the "New" kind of Democrat who pooh-poohs economic liberalism, you can be similarly confident that within a few paragraphs ol' Joe will pronounce him to be a one-of-a-kind Turnip-Day American, brimming with leadership and humanity.

This makes for a truly bizarre series of conclusions, the first and most important of which is the courageousness of centrism. Up until now you have probably thought that when you saw Democrats dumping their traditional principles in order to run pallid, market-tested campaigns appealing to swing voters with rhetoric borrowed from the G.O.P., they were doing so because they had been listening to consultants, pollsters, focus groups, and so on. Well--according to Mr. Klein, you have it precisely backwards. In Joe's world, the consultants and the pollsters and even the money are all on the other side, forever driving the cowardly politicians to the partisan extremes. Consultants on the Democratic side seem always to turn out to be liberals in Mr. Klein's telling, and liberalism itself is usually the sad result of a candidate listening to consultants. What the Democratic party is in need of is what Mr. Klein calls a "radical middle" that talks truth rather than liberal platitude.
The whole piece is brilliant and certainly worth a read -- if for no other reason than to understand the Turnip Day reference. Go!

Update: Through Atrios, I see that the piece over at the Huffington Post is just an excerpt of a longer, better piece. Read the full thing here.

Congressional Whores

That phrase may be taking on a whole new meaning:
Federal prosecutors are investigating whether two contractors implicated in the bribery of former Rep. Randall "Duke" Cunningham supplied him with prostitutes and free use of a limousine and hotel suites, pursuing evidence that could broaden their long-running inquiry.

Besides scrutinizing the prostitution scheme for evidence that might implicate contractor Brent Wilkes, investigators are focusing on whether any other members of Congress, or their staffs, may also have used the same free services, though it isn't clear whether investigators have turned up anything to implicate others.
Sadly, as we all know, it takes some sort of sexual affair before the media and the public really get outraged. The $2,400,000 that the Dukestir took in bribes has pretty much elicited a yawn outside of his own district and official Washington, and his conviction barely made any noise at all. But if he put his doodad in a prostitute's hoohoo, well, then we'll be talking serious scandal.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Defining Religious Persecution Down

First, they came with the lions. Then, they came with the crucifixes. Now they come with the meter maids.
In the nation's capital, where parking is scarce, churchgoers say plans to crack down on double-parking infringe on their religious rights.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Prominent Republican Uses Completely Original Excuse To Explain Massive Failures

It was the media's fault.
Enron founder Kenneth L. Lay, in his second day on the witness stand in his fraud trial, Tuesday vented his most vehement criticism at the business press, saying stories that appeared in fall 2001 resulted in "absolutely destroying the confidence of shareholders."
Natch!

Snow Job

I didn't think it could come true, but it's looking more and more like Scott McClellan's replacement as the White House Liar Press Secretary will be none other than Tony Snow from Fox News.

Bringing in a guy from Fox News? Can't this administration find anyone from outside its inner circle? Will they even have to change his retirement plan? Sheesh.

At least we know it'll be entertaining. Instead of Scott McClellan's flopsweat antics, we'll get to have more of that patented Bush blend of ignorance and arrogance.

Can't Get No Satisfaction

Oh boy. This is not going to sit well with the Bush administration.

Looks like the Stones may get to add Gitmo to their world tour this summer.

Man Hands

These people are weird.
As Joshua Bolten officially moves into the White House chief of staff's office today, he'll bring with him a collection of photos of President Bush — or, rather, of Bush's hands.

The close-ups show Bush's hands at key moments: Signing the No Child Left Behind education bill. Holding the badge of a Port Authority officer slain on 9/11. Throwing out the first pitch of a 2001 World Series game at Yankee Stadium.

Behind the images, friends say, is a Bolten philosophy. "He thinks of himself and the rest of the White House staff as 'the hands' of the president, to help him realize his vision," former White House aide Kristen Silverberg says.

Caption Contest

Time for another caption contest. Bring. It. On.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Desert Island Decisions

Imagine you're going to be stranded on a desert island (with plenty of electricty and a full entertainment center) and you get to take one of each of the following with you:
Album
Book
Film
Complete Television Series
Which ones do you take?

(Stolen shamelessly from Shakespeare's Sister.)

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Titanic II: The Surface

I'm the Decider

If you haven't heard it yet, check out the musical rendition of Bush's "I'm the Decider" pout. Nicely done.

Friday, April 21, 2006

"I'm Gonna Haul Ass to Lollapalooza!"

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) -- For 84-year-old Josephine Crawford, the golden years just got a lot more golden. About to call it quits after a night playing slot machines, the Galloway Township widow hit a $10 million jackpot late Tuesday, the biggest in the history of casino gambling here.

The retired waitress knew when the nickel slot machine's bells went off that she'd won something but didn't know what. When a slot attendant at Harrah's Atlantic City casino told her it was $10,010,113.48, she didn't believe him. "I said, 'Oh, come on.' But he just stood there and I figured, why is he staying there?" she said Wednesday.

Crawford, who has been gambling in Atlantic City casinos since the first one opened in 1978, had never won more than $1,000 at a time before. She still hadn't decided Wednesday whether to take the money in a 25-year annuity or in a lump-sum payment of more than $5.5 million, but she has 21 days to make that call.
Let me get this straight. She's 84, and she's having a hard time deciding whether she should simply take the $5.5 million payout right now or whether she should hold out until she's just 109 years young to collect the full amount.

Let's see -- she's a gambler, she doesn't think clearly about the future, and she's easily bullied by authority figures. Well, I think we've just found President Bush's new choice for Secretary of the Treasury.

Friday Random Ten

Sheesh. Where to begin?

First, there's the mystery of Heino. I can't even make out the gender here. Part of me thinks Heino looks like David Hyde Pierce in a production of "Sprockets: The Musical!" or perhaps Dwight Schrute after an unfortunate Clorox crisis. But another part of me seizes on the flowers and the groovy necklace and thinks those crazy Teutonic eyes just might belong to a fraulein. So hard to tell, and yet I never want to know.

In case your knowledge of German doesn't extend past what you've picked up from 1960s World War II films, the album itself is called "Dear Mother: A Bouquet That Never Withered." I'm not sure exactly what that means, but the sweet poetic language of the Germans is what they're known for, right?

Anyway, the arrival of Heino means that it's time once again for the Friday Random Ten.

For those of you just now getting onto the internets, the FRT consists of three simple steps. Step One: Set your iWhatever to random and give us the first ten songs. Step Two: Rate the songs on a coolness scale from 0 to 10, with 0 suitable for Lee Greenwood and 10 for Lee Dorsey. Step Three: Profit.

Alright, here's mine for this week. Come on, big bucks! No whammies!

1. Creedence Clearwater Revival, "It's Just a Thought" -- This is one of CCR's lesser-known songs, a midtempo number with a nice organ background and some great vocal work by Fogerty. Really sweet. 8/10

2. The Roots, "I Remain Calm" -- A blistering bit of hiphop from the clearly rhetorically-titled album, Do You Want More?!!!??! Another tune with a great organ sound in the background, and, as Black Thought himself tells us, lyrically he drops the bomb! 9/10

3. Zero 7, "Give It Away" -- Some nice, atmospheric electronica here. This is pretty much the ultimate in background music, since I never seem to notice I've been listening to it until the song's over and something more starved for attention rolls up on the iPod. Zero 7: The Quiet Child. 7/10

4. Arno, "Knowing Me, Knowing You" -- This is an unfortunate cover of the ABBA song, one recorded by a guy who sounds exactly like the Witch Doctor from "Aqua Teen Hunger Force." And, sure enough, this song sounds Sofa King We Todd Ed. 3/10

5. Neil Young, "Helpless" -- There's been a whole lot of lovin' for Neil Young on the blogs lately, what with the supposedly great new documentary Heart of Gold and the imminent release of his 4,183rd album. This is a classic, though not exactly cool. Hmmm. 7/10

6. Sonny Boy Williamson, "Bring It On Home" -- A nice driving bit of harmonica blues from one of the masters. Willie Dixon wrote the tune and it shows. 8/10

7. Huevos Rancheros, "Drive Through at Molly's Beach" -- Aside from the great band name and the odd song name, there's not a lot here. Pretty generic retro surf rock. 5/10

8. Yo La Tengo, "Dreaming" -- A Blondie cover by Hoboken's finest? Sounds like a phenomenal idea on paper, but it falls short in the execution. I think the main reason is that Ira takes the vocals instead of Georgia, and he beats them right into the goddamned ground. 4/10

9. The Magnetic Fields, "Born on a Train" -- A fairly good selection from the Magnetic Fields at their peak, before Stephin Merritt apparently gave up sleeping and decided to fill the time with four different band projects. In an ideal world, this would be considered the perfect pop song. 8/10

10. MC5, "Come Together" -- A nice live track from Kick Out the Jams. If you're not well versed in the beauty of the Motor City Five, this isn't the Beatles tune but rather a much more asskickingly good song of their own. I'm not sure, but I think the song is about sex: "I am out, you are in / Let us form a link / And move in rhythms / Slide apart and slide apart / Come together / Together in the darkness / Come with me." Maybe I'm just reading into it too much. 7/10

Alright, that gives me a 7.0 average, a nice Gentleman's C. I'm not sure if I have to be a gentleman about it, though. In your face, Flanders!

Let's see what you've got this week. Drop your own FRT in the comments below, or let loose your mockery on my songs or your outrage on my ratings.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

I Know I Shouldn't Eat Thee...

Who knew that meat could be a condiment?
The meat-on-meat Philly Cheesesteak Thickburger, launched Wednesday, features one-third of a pound of Angus beef, along with both Swiss and American cheeses, green peppers and onions. And piled atop all of that is thinly sliced steak meat.

Security Brief

Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to present to you the most disgusting and most effective cash concealment product on the market -- the Brief Safe.

I stress the word "disgusting." Consider yourself warned.

Misty Water-Colored Memories

In case you missed it, Keith Olbermann compiled an amazing set of Scott McClellan's greatest hits misses from his tenure as White House Press Secretary. It's priceless -- especially the montage of Jeff Gannon exchanges.

Crooks and Liars, as always, has the goods.

Worst President Ever?

Although the president doesn't claim to care about his place in history, the blogosphere has been returning to the question again and again -- will George W. Bush go down as the Worst President Ever?

Luckily for us, one of the country's top historians has taken a serious crack at answering that question. Sean Wilentz, a professor of history at Princeton, recently won the coveted Bancroft Prize for his book, The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln. In the latest issue of Rolling Stone, he offers a rough draft of Bush's place in history. And it doesn't look good:
George W. Bush's presidency appears headed for colossal historical disgrace. Barring a cataclysmic event on the order of the terrorist attacks of September 11th, after which the public might rally around the White House once again, there seems to be little the administration can do to avoid being ranked on the lowest tier of U.S. presidents. And that may be the best-case scenario. Many historians are now wondering whether Bush, in fact, will be remembered as the very worst president in all of American history.

From time to time, after hours, I kick back with my colleagues at Princeton to argue idly about which president really was the worst of them all. For years, these perennial debates have largely focused on the same handful of chief executives whom national polls of historians, from across the ideological and political spectrum, routinely cite as the bottom of the presidential barrel. Was the lousiest James Buchanan, who, confronted with Southern secession in 1860, dithered to a degree that, as his most recent biographer has said, probably amounted to disloyalty -- and who handed to his successor, Abraham Lincoln, a nation already torn asunder? Was it Lincoln's successor, Andrew Johnson, who actively sided with former Confederates and undermined Reconstruction? What about the amiably incompetent Warren G. Harding, whose administration was fabulously corrupt? Or, though he has his defenders, Herbert Hoover, who tried some reforms but remained imprisoned in his own outmoded individualist ethic and collapsed under the weight of the stock-market crash of 1929 and the Depression's onset? The younger historians always put in a word for Richard M. Nixon, the only American president forced to resign from office.

Now, though, George W. Bush is in serious contention for the title of worst ever. In early 2004, an informal survey of 415 historians conducted by the nonpartisan History News Network found that eighty-one percent considered the Bush administration a "failure." Among those who called Bush a success, many gave the president high marks only for his ability to mobilize public support and get Congress to go along with what one historian called the administration's "pursuit of disastrous policies." ... [T]hese figures were gathered before the debacles over Hurricane Katrina, Bush's role in the Valerie Plame leak affair and the deterioration of the situation in Iraq. Were the historians polled today, that figure would certainly be higher.
Be sure to read the whole piece. It's incredibly comprehensive, and pretty convincing.

The competition for Worst President Ever is pretty fierce, but as more and more time goes by, I'm starting to think Dubya can win this one.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Scott Free

It was fun watching Scottie McClellan get beaten like a piƱata at every single press briefing, but the fun had to end sometime.
WASHINGTON - White House press secretary Scott McClellan said Wednesday he is resigning, continuing a shakeup in President Bush's administration that has already yielded a new chief of staff and could lead to a change in the Cabinet. ....

Bush said McClellan had “a challenging assignment.”

“I thought he handled his assignment with class, integrity,” the president said. “It’s going to be hard to replace Scott, but nevertheless he made the decision and I accepted it. One of these days, he and I are going to be rocking in chairs in Texas and talking about the good old days.”
Yeah, the good old days. Before all the indictments came down against them and Karl Rove fled to Tijuana with nothing more than a briefcase full of incriminating documents and an autographed picture of G. Gordon Liddy. Good times, my friend. Good times....

Now that Scottie has been granted an early release by Warden Bush, he'll likely spend a month or so rinsing the flop-sweat stains out of his suit and having the phrase "we can't comment on an ongoing investigation" deprogrammed from his cerebral cortex. But after a while, he'll have to start looking for work again. You can only throw darts at Helen Thomas's photo and prank call Howie Kurtz so many times before retirement gets boring.

So what should Scottie's next job be? And who can the White House get to fill his shoes?

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Respect Mah Authoritah!

If you have a working interweb, you've probably already read about President Bush's latest defense of Don Rumsfeld. In response to a question about the growing chorus of retired generals calling for Rumsfeld's resignation, the president gave a foot-stamping response that "I'm the decider and I decide what's best!"

It's classic Bush, an even partnership of his bullying king-of-the-hill attitude and his butchered "King of the Hill" diction. Personally, I've always loved his patented I-Think-You're-Retarded™ speeches, which have brought us classics in the style of "I'm a problem solver. In other words, I solve problems. There's a problem, see, and I solve it." But this latest offering blended in just enough Petulant Emperor attitude, and it really contrasts nicely with the Dumb Hick speechifying. Perfect. My compliments to the chef.

Anyway, if you've only read the transcript, do yourself a favor and watch the video. Bush practically bites the head off the reporter who dares not to respect his authoritah, and then bulls through an answer. The clip ends too soon, because I'm told Bush then immediately stormed off the podium.

If the American people keep being mean to him, he's going to take his T-Ball Field off the White House lawn and go home. So, hey, let's keep it up.

Disturbing Music Video of the Day

This Finnish disaster of a music video is the most disturbing thing I've seen since the ill-fated Star Wars Christmas Special.

It's work safe, assuming you don't mind getting ridiculed by your office mates.

Railroad to Nowhere

Remember last yeare when Alaska senator Ted Stevens tried to cram a $400 million earmark for a bridge to nowhere in a war spending bill? Mississippi's senators Trent Lott and Thad Cochran thought that was a great way to support the troops, so they've concocted a $700 million boondoggle for an unneeded railroad project.

Mississippi's two U.S. senators included $700 million in an emergency war spending bill to relocate a Gulf Coast rail line that has already been rebuilt after Hurricane Katrina at a cost of at least $250 million.

Republican Sens. Trent Lott and Thad Cochran, who have the backing of their state's economic development agencies and tourism industry, say the CSX freight line must be moved to save it from the next hurricane and to protect Mississippi's growing coastal population from rail accidents. But critics of the measure call it a gift to coastal developers and the casino industry that would be paid for with money carved out of tight Katrina relief funds and piggybacked onto funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

By happenstance, moving the track would free up prime coastal property to be turned into a delightful avenue of casinos -- an avenue also paid for by federal dollars. What could be more noble than using our wars as a means to fund better casino infrastructure? Maybe free health care for our sex workers, but that's about it.

Caption Contest

Time for a caption contest, if for no other reason than to move the Tom Cruise story down from the top. I'd really like to be able to eat today.

Anyway, time for an Easter themed caption contest. The snark is risen again!

Disturbing Headline of the Day

Tom 'to eat afterbirth'

Monday, April 17, 2006

Insane in the Membrane

Well, it was only a matter of time. Much like C. Montgomery Burns when he tried to block out the sun, Michelle Malkin has gone from villainy to cartoonish super villainy.

Ezra Klein has the details:
I know I'm not supposed to, but I pity Michelle Malkin. Really, I do. Punditry is a game of incentives, encouragement, luck. You write a hundred articles before striking paydirt with one. That zeitgeisty dispatch activates an eruption of applause and adulation, so you try to repeat it. Soon enough, you've got a niche, a style, a persona. The lucky ones, among whom I include myself, find their path opening towards responsible, serious commentary. The sort of articles that allow us to wake up, yawn, look in the mirror, and feel good about what we see. And then there are the unlucky ones, the Michelle Malkins, who achieve acceptance through hatred and venom, and find themselves groping down the darkest path to political success.

Right now, the dark-haired, lashy, Ann Coulter understudy is happily wrapped in one of her typical controversies: a crew of students at UC Santa Cruz, my alma mater, protested some military recruiters, and Malkin got hold of a press release with their http://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifpersonal contact information -- a poorly conceived inclusion on the students' part, but then, these are undergraduates, not trained media flacks. Rather than calling and speaking to them herself, which is what members of the press are supposed to use such releases for, Malkin published their personal information on her website, prompting her hordes of orcish mouth-breathers to brandish their pitchforks and inundate the unsuspecting students with death threats. When the students frantically called Malkin, asking that she remove their numbers, she posted their contact information again.
Incredibly classy. You know what's even classier? Malkin's update to this post:
If you are contacting them, I do not condone death threats or foul language. As for SAW, my message is this: You are responsible for your individual actions. Other individuals are responsible for theirs. Grow up and take responsibility.
Well, it's nice to know that she doesn't actually condone death threats -- or foul language! As anyone who's ever spent time browsing through the reasoned climes of Free Republic or Little Green Footballs will tell you, the absence of her seal of approval will surely put an end to it all. The students will certainly never get threats like these again, for sure.

I also like the fact that Malkin chides these students to "grow up and take responsibility." That's priceless coming from Malkin as she's furiously backpedaling from her own responsibility for the death threats -- threats that she does not condone! She's simply publishing the students' full names, telephone numbers and email addresses to encourage an open and honest dialogue.

"Grow up and take responsibility." I'm sure Malkin is only preaching what she practices. If something bad should happen to one of these students -- if the threats about snipers shooting at them or thugs with ax handles beating in their heads come true -- well, I'm absolutely certain that Malkin will take responsibility for it as well. To do otherwise would mean she's not just a ranting insane hatemonger, but a hypocritical one as well.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Happy Easter, Punks!

Caption Contest

I know we just had a caption contest, but this one is just much too disturbing to let pass by.

Have at him, if you dare.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Friday Random Ten

I've got a ream of bad album covers full of old school racism like this one, but I thought after the uncomfortableness of the Millie Jackson Incident, I'd ease us into this world with Anna Russell's anthropological exploration of deepest, darkest Africa.

You probably can't make this out from the blog photo, but the album is a recording taken from the heart of native African culture -- the Johannesburg Folk Festival -- and made right at the heart of that most authentic of African customs, apartheid! In case you doubt the true African vibes of this album, be sure to check out songs like "How to Enjoy Your Bagpipe" and "Backwards with the Folk Song." Such is the white man's burden, my friends.

Anyway, the appearance of Mrs. Howell in a Lipton's Cup-of-Soup can only mean that once again it's time for the Friday Random Ten. Take out your iTunes or imitationTunes, set it to random, and give us the first ten songs that come out. No cheating -- if it lands on schlock, you've got to take the hit. If you'd like to play the advanced version, throw in a Coolness Self-Audit as well.

Here's mine:

1. Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins, "Handle with Care" -- These ladies are the darlings of the indie pop set right now, but I've never really understood the charm. Perhaps a cover of the Traveling Wilburys isn't the best standard for judgment though. Still, pfffft. 3/10

2. Louis Jordan, "Reet, Petite, and Gone" -- There's something irresistable about Jordan's slick 1940s swing, and this song is certainly no exception. The opening guitar is a classic bit of Decca jazz, and it just builds from there. Reet indeed. 8/10

3. Cat Stevens, "Here Comes My Baby" -- One of my favorite songs from the Jihad Formerly Known as Cat Stevens. Incredibly catchy and upbeat music, with some sweet Eastern guitar sounds, paired with lyrics that seem to be coming from a would-be stalker. 7/10

4. Ike and Tina Turner, "Funkier Than a Mosquito's Tweeter" -- The title pretty much says it all. 9/10

5. Nick Drake, "River Man" -- This song should come with a warning label attached: "Do Not Listen to this Song While Operating Heavy Machinery." I normally like Drake's mellowness, but this one was apparently recorded while he was self-medicating with thorazine. 5/10

6. The Hold Steady, "Your Little Hoodrat Friend" -- Fairly familiar rock from Brooklyn. This is a new acquisition, and I'm not entirely sure how I feel about it. So far, I'm a little unimpressed. 6/10

7. Esquivel, "Mini Skirt" -- Esquivel was the undisputed king of "bachelor pad music," a cheeky combination of sound effects and vibraphone that -- in theory -- would enable even the squarest of early '60s squares to get friendly with the ladies. I'm pretty sure you also needed a state-of-the-art HiFi, a working knowledge of modern art, and some Panther Musk cologne to pull it off, but the music was the key. 7/10

8. The Tragically Hip, "Long Time Running" -- Here's one that should please Malibu Stacy and all her fellow Canucks. A nice spare-sounding tune off Road Apples, with a plaintive alt-country feel to it. Pretty damn nice. 8/10

9. Ladysmith Black Mambazo, "Nansi Imali" -- Oh, the ironies of this coming up with Anna Russell's cover above. While this tune isn't the finest LBM stuff, the compilation series it comes from -- The Indestructible Beat of Soweto -- is well worth your time if you're interested in actual African music. If you want bagpipe songs from the JoBurg Folk Festival, though, you know where to go. Hell. 6/10

10. Cut Chemist, "Bunky's Pick" -- This is a seven-minute feat of DJing strength, one in which the turntablist from Jurassic 5 ratchets up the level of difficulty by working solely with old '60s R&B singles rather than the easier-to-spin long 12" discs that most DJs use. The technical proficiency is amazing, but the music that results is brilliant too. This is available on the Funky 16 Corners compilation, but if you can find it, check out the full-length disc Brainfreeze instead. There, Cut Chemist and DJ Shadow do the same thing, but in longer unbroken 25 minute mixes. Stunning. 10/10

Alright, the strong finish there manages to raise my average slightly, but I still finish with a mediocre 6.9 overall. Once again, I have brought dishonor to this blog.

Let's see what you've got. Throw your own random ten in the comments below, with or without the self audit.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Caption Contest

The president has apparently been released into the wild, and it's now open season for snarky comments.

Release the hounds!

General Outrage

It looks like the military brass is mad as hell about Rumsfeld, and they're not going to take it anymore.

In recent weeks, we've had more and more leading figures in the military call for Rumsfeld's removal or resignation. First, it was retired Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni, the former head of U.S. Central Command, who started the ball rolling. Then a couple weeks ago, retired Army Major General Paul D. Eaton, the official in charge of training the Iraqi military in 2003-2004, did likewise. This weekend, retired Lt. Gen. Gregory Newbold, the military's former top operations officer, called for Rumsfeld to get the boot, and now another one, retired Army Maj. Gen. John Batiste is doing the same:
The retired commander of key forces in Iraq called yesterday for Donald H. Rumsfeld to step down, joining several other former top military commanders who have harshly criticized the defense secretary's authoritarian style for making the military's job more difficult.

"I think we need a fresh start" at the top of the Pentagon, retired Army Maj. Gen. John Batiste, who commanded the 1st Infantry Division in Iraq in 2004-2005, said in an interview. "We need leadership up there that respects the military as they expect the military to respect them. And that leadership needs to understand teamwork."

Batiste noted that many of his peers feel the same way. "It speaks volumes that guys like me are speaking out from retirement about the leadership climate in the Department of Defense," he said earlier yesterday on CNN.
Clearly, the military brass wants Rumsfeld out. They want it badly enough that some of them are seeking early retirement just so they can get out and speak out. That says a lot, I think.

Will the complaints be effective? You might think so, given that this administration and its backers have traditionally used the "support the troops" mantra as a way to beat back any form of criticism of their own conduct and misconduct in the war. Well, now it seems that the troops don't support Rumsfeld, so shouldn't he go?

Nope. The right is now busy attacking the motives of these generals, making it clear that supporting the president is a higher priority than supporting the troops. Classy.

Why are the Bush folks so committed to Rumsfeld when it's clear he's been a disaster and it's clear that his removal would do much to improve both public and military morale on the war? I think this excellent comment at the Belgravia Dispatch gets the answer exactly right:
There are a couple of reasons why Rumsfeld's case is different, but they come back to one salient fact, that being the extraordinary weakness of George W. Bush as President. First of all Bush has delegated virtually all war planning and management of the military to Rumsfeld; his own relationships with uniformed military officers or other Pentagon officials appear to be neither numerous nor deep compared to those of other wartime Presidents. Secondly he relies to an unusual -- really, an unprecedented -- degree on his Vice President to advise him on the political and diplomatic strategy behind the war. Vice President Cheney, a former Rumsfeld subordinate, has been the Defense Secretary's strongest backer.

The unusual position this has allowed Rumsfeld to assume helps to explain key American policy moves throughout the Iraq war, and in other fields as well. The point I want to make here is that his departure now would not be like any other Cabinet Secretary's departure -- it would leave a huge hole in the middle of Bush's administration, a vacuum that could only be filled by someone Bush trusted enough to delegate approximately as much authority as that he has given to Rumsfeld. Apart from Cheney himself, there is no such person.

.... All I'm saying is that what the sudden departure of a man who has served as a kind of Deputy President for over four years would leave a situation in which many decisions now finally made in Rumsfeld's office could not be made, military leaders that have by and large allowed themselves to be run by Rumsfeld would be left to jockey amongst themselves for position and influence in his absence, and -- from Bush's point of view this factor must loom especially large -- the President's tenuous grasp both on what is happening in Iraq and what is happening in the military would be further exposed.
I think the political concerns of the White House -- which, unless you've been in a coma for the last few years, you'll recognize are the only concerns of this White House -- are such that they realize Rumsfeld has to stay. His removal or resignation would reveal how big a role he's played in the Iraq mess and how little a role the "War President" has actually had. It would show Bush as weak and uninvolved on the only issue he has, and that would cripple him.

So Rumsfeld has to stay, in their mind, no matter how bad things get for our troops on the ground. If you'll excuse me, I'm going to get new bumperstickers printed up with a snappy "Support the SecDef" motto.

(Thanks to Carpetbagger Report and Balloon Juice for the links.)

Update: According to CNN, a fifth retired general has just come out with a call for Rumsfeld's resignation. At the rate we're going, it's only a matter of time before this is a daily event.

Don't Call It a Comeback

Hey, maybe we will have Tom DeLay to kick around some more:
The White House is looking at a list of cost-cutting candidates to head the Office of Management and Budget, and Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Texas, may be on it.

The former House majority leader, who announced he will resign from Congress and is under a state indictment on political money laundering charges, is listed as a possible replacement for Josh Bolten, the U.S. News and World Report said.
Hey, what better way for an administration that spends like a drunken sailor and engages in shady no-bid contracts to make it crystal clear that they're concerned about fiscal responsibility and integrity in government than by considering an indicted money launderer as the man in charge of the federal budget? I suppose they also considered DeLay as a replacement for John Snow at Treasury, but decided to go with a more seasoned financial expert instead.

(Thanks to firedoglake for bringing this insanity to my attention.)

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Are You Saying Boo-Urns?

I've been a long-suffering Braves fan for decades now, but I think I've just found my second-favorite team:
WASHINGTON - Greeted with loud boos and some cheers, Vice President Dick Cheney threw out the ceremonial first pitch Tuesday at the Washington Nationals’ home opener.

He stood directly in front of the mound and released a ball that hit the dirt in front of home plate. Nationals catcher Brian Schneider scooped it up.

Cheney wore a red-and-blue Nationals jacket that seemed bulky, perhaps filled out by a bulletproof vest. Security agents ringed the top edge of the outdoor stadium.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Sinking to New Lows

The nature of modern opinion polling can often lead to some frustrating results. With numerous polling operations working at the same time on the same questions, we often get a discordant view of what Americans are really thinking at any one time.

We certainly saw this during the 2004 election, when the polls were all over the place. At any one moment, you'd find conflicting reports of polls that indicated Bush was facvored by 15 points, or Kerry had a 5 point lead, or that -- at long last -- the fifth dentist had caved and now the entire profession was recommending Trident gum. Trying to make sense of it all was, in a word, maddening.

Now, however, we're seeing a new phenomenon with the president's abysmal approval ratings. When the first poll came out showing Bush had sunk in Americans' estimation to a point somewhere between chronic pedophiles and the musical assassins who brought us the macarena, conservatives dismissed it as an aberration. They picked apart the methodology, or dismissed it as a temporary bounce, or claimed it once again proved liberal bias.

But in the weeks since then, as more and more polls have come out confirming the American people's recognition that the emperor has no clothes, those denials have dried up. Even better, because all of the polls use their own methodology and don't compare themselves to each other, every time a new poll makes this discovery, it's touted with a headline that proclaims Bush has hit a "new low" in his popularity. Even though other polls have had him at 34%, the latest poll at 38% isn't an improvement for Bush because it is, for this polling outfit, a "new low."

The end result is that the president seems to keep sinking further when, in reality, he's merely struck bottom. There's a third of this country that right now would support the president if he devoured a fetus on national television. Even if he failed to say grace first.

But the news reports of all these polls come off not as a reminder that he's stuck at that low level of support, but as a week-by-week never-ending story that he's sinking to new lows again and again and again. And I, for one, will never get tired of watching those repeats.

Caption Contest

Prayer may be the last refuge of a scoundrel, but he can't hide from the almighty power of snark. So have at him.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

He's Sayin' What We're All Thinkin'!

From the AP:
It was a moment brought to you by the First Amendment.

Minutes after finishing a face-to-face verbal assault on President Bush, Harry Taylor was talking about the experience with reporters who covered the president's visit Thursday to Charlotte.

Speaking from the balcony of a theater at Central Piedmont Community College, the 61-year-old commercial real estate broker had laced into Bush for his conduct of the war on terror, his environmental record and his opposition to legalized abortion.

"In my lifetime, I have never felt more ashamed of my leadership in Washington," Taylor told the president. "And I would hope from time to time that you have the humility and grace to be ashamed of yourself."
Well said. Want to thank him? Try here.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Friday Random Ten

"Understand Your'e Swede"? Maybe they should first try to understand ow'er English. The title of this album is so badly botched I can't tell if it's a Swedish language instruction album or a introduction to Swedish culture for the new owners of Swedes who want to understand their servants' world better.

Either way, I'm not sure I want to understand anything about the Swedes. Apparently, their culture consists of snowbound games of Red Rover and drifters who roam the trails with a hatchet and a brown paper bag that, in all likelihood, contains a severed head. Or Swedish meatballs. Either way, not appetizing.

Anyway, the arrival of our disturbing Nordic friends from the North can only mean that it's time, once again, for the Friday Random Ten. You know the drill by now -- take out your iWhatever, set it on random, and give us the first ten songs that pop out. If you'd like to get self-reflective, add in a Coolness Self Audit as well, rating the songs on a scale of 0 to 10, with a zero representing the musical equivalent of the needle coming off the record and a perfect ten standing in for something you'd like to walk into a bar in slow motion.

Alright, here's mine:

1. The National, "Looking for Astronauts" -- I don't care how many goddamn hipsters tell me this band is great, the simple fact is that they're not. They are, in fact, one of the suckiest bunch of sucks who ever sucked. I'd say more, but my damn wiener kids are listening. Get off my iTunes, and take those assclowns from Of Montreal with you. Boo. 2/10

2. The Magnetic Fields, "Love Goes Home to Paris in the Spring" -- This'll get the shitty taste out of my mouth. Beautiful indie pop from Stephin Merritt and company, off the excellent 5-song House of Tomorrow EP. The wheels have started to come off Merritt's music machine in recent years as he tries to front four different bands at once (Magnetic Fields, Gothic Archies, Future Bible Heroes and the 6ths) and still maintain the public profile of a slightly miffed hermit. But the heyday of the Magnetic Fields was nothing but gold, and this is right in the sweet spot. 8/10

3. Iron & Wine, "Waiting for a Superman" -- I normally love Sam Beam's mellow reworking of indie favorites ("Such Great Heights," "Peng! 33," etc.) but this is almost a little too mellow. In fact, I think he might be slipping into a coma around the third verse. Still, nicely sweet, especially the guitar solo. 7/10

4. Linda Lyndell, "What a Man" -- A scorching soul song that was later ripped off by Salt'n'Pepa for the chorus of their mid-'90s hit of the same name. The aftertaste of that Chippindalesque video aside, the original is a classic bit of soul. I found this on the excellent Soul Sides collection recently put out by the blog of the same name. Lots of great stuff there. 9/10

5. Dr. Octagon, "Ants" -- While I love the Zapp-like bass-bottom distortion here, that's pretty much all this hiphop tune has going for it. The lyrics aren't that great, the vocals disappointing, and the song rambles more than an Oscar acceptance speech. Eh. 3/10

6. Al Green, "I Want to Hold Your Hand" -- Not only is this a weak cover of the Beatles' classic, but it doesn't even sound like the Reverend Green. He seems to be doing an Otis Redding impersonation, and at times drifts into a little Sam Cooke. He's so all over the place in this song, I forgot who I was at the end. 4/10

7. Nirvana, "Smells Like Teen Spirit" -- This is an obscure song by a grunge trio from the Northwest. I doubt they're going to go anywhere. This was once cool, but I think it's been played to death. 6/10

8. The Staple Singers, "Let's Do It Again" -- Lordy, lordy, lordy, do I love the Staple Singers. This is an alternately sweet and sexy soul number from the group in their prime. 9/10

9. Stevie Wonder, "For Once In My Life" -- I've always loved this song, but when it became the redemption song for superagent Ari Gold on last season's "Entourage," that kicked it up another notch. Hug it out, bitch. 8/10

10. Chico O'Farrell and Clark Terry, "Spanish Rice (DJ Dolores Mix)" -- This is from a new compilation of jazz tunes remixed by current DJs, called Impulse! The songs here are a little less dancy than the Verve Remixed series, and a bit more left field. The compilation is a little uneven, but this one is good. Our chef recommends that you pair this remix of "Spanish Rice" with the remix of Willie Bobo's "Fried Neckbones and Some Home Fries." 7/10

Alright, I was all over the place today. I wound up with a 6.3 average, which represents yet another step in my slow but steady descent to craptacularity. At this rate, I'll be polling near the president by fall.

Let's see what you've got, folks. Fire up your newfangled electronical musical doohickeys and give us the first ten songs that spill out. And, if you'd like, throw in a Coolness Self Audit as well.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Blazing Idiots

You know, I often raid the excellent Dependable Renegade site to steal photos in our caption contests, but her caption for this one is unbeatable.

Power of Prayer

Hold him accountable.

Film Forum

Despite my last rant about the "Lord of the Flies" atmosphere at most movie theaters, the lovely and talented Malibu Stacy and I actually ventured into that world this weekend -- twice! -- and lived to tell the tale.

On Friday night, we braved an opening night showing of Thank You for Smoking. They had me from the opening credits, a nice stylized representation of the actors' names on classic cigarette packaging with the Tex Ritter classic "Smoke! Smoke! Smoke That Cigarette!" as the opening theme. I never read the Christopher Buckley book, but the movie has a light, irreverent feel, and the performances are all brilliant. Aaron Eckhart is perfect in the leading role, and the bit parts played by J.K. Simmons, Maria Bello, David Koetchner and William H. Macy are just as good.

I'm sure the Korner Kids will take this as a South Park conservative swipe at the P.C. Police -- Macy's character is pretty much a caricature, to be sure -- but in the end I thought it exposed the soullessness of the corporate shills just as well. Big Tobacco and the other giants come off looking bad, bad, bad here.

On Sunday, meanwhile, we finally got around to seeing V for Vendetta. I really liked the Alan Moore graphic novel and even though he distanced himself from the film (as always), I've been looking forward to it for a long while. I had a few quibbles -- the exposition might have been clearer, the fascist state was perhaps too crudely drawn, and they never really found a way to make the masked antihero come alive. But those are minor points. The acting was fairly solid, with even Natalie Portman putting in a nice performance, coupled with good showings by Stephen Rea, Stephen Fry and Not-Stephen Hugo Weaving. The filmmakers succeeded, I think, in creating a nice blend of action thriller and political jeremiad. Worth the price of admission, for sure, and maybe, just maybe, it'll get some fourteen year old kid thinking about politics in more critical terms. Maybe.

Anyone else brave the JuJuBee Jungle lately? Drop your thoughts on these flicks or any others in the comments below.

Fairly Unbalanced

In order to demonstrate that we here at LLatPoN are truly fair and balanced, I'd like to turn from our regularly scheduled Republican bashing to bash a fellow Democrat.

As I'm sure you've all heard by now, Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-You Wanna Piece of Me?!?) raced through a security checkpoint without her ID pin, ignored calls to stop, and then struck an officer who grabbed her arm to stop her. And now McKinney has taken to the airwaves decrying this incident as evidence of racial profiling, which is about as pathetic as Tom DeLay's insistence that he's a victim of "the politics of personal destruction." (Actually, it's worse. Racial profiling in this country is a real problem, and McKinney's crass appropriation of that issue only trivializes the very real complaints of others who, unlike her, really did do nothing wrong.)

This is just the latest in a long string of hyperbolic grandstanding and downright stupidities from McKinney. I was thrilled in 2002 when the primary voters in the Atlanta area threw out both McKinney and her Republican counterpart, Bob Barr. Stunningly, in the time since, Barr has emerged as a voice of reason on the government's overreaching, while McKinney has returned to power and stepped up the batshit crazy to all new levels.

For once, I'd like to applaud the Democratic Party for leaving one of their members out to dry:
Democratic leaders did not defend McKinney or her charge of racial profiling. "I don't think any of it justifies hitting a police officer," said House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of California. "If it did happen I don't think it was justified."

Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the No. 2 Democrat in the House, said all lawmakers, staffers and visitors in the building have a responsibility to obey Capitol Police. "I think we all should cooperate fully," he said.

Rep. Mel Watt, D-N.C., chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, had no comment, a spokesman said. ....

The lack of Democratic support for McKinney is notable. She and her lawyer, James Myart Jr., said on Friday they expected several members of Congress to join her at a news conference that day at Howard University. None did.
Unlike the Republicans and conservative pundits, who are rallying around Tom DeLay like it's the final reel of "The Passion of the Christ" -- see here and here and here for quotes that will blow your mind -- it's nice to see the Democrats shun the nutcase in their midst. Because if the Democrats are truly going to clean house this fall and sweep out the remnants of DeLay's regime, they need to be willing to sweep out the crazies and corrupt politicians on their side of the aisle as well.

Restoring Honor and Integrity to the White House

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A deputy press secretary for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security was arrested Tuesday at his Maryland home on charges he used his computer in an attempt to seduce a child and transmitted harmful materials to a minor, according to the Polk County, Florida, Sheriff's Office. ...

In interviews with police, Doyle confessed and has agreed to waive extradition to Florida, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said.

On March 12, according to a police statement, Doyle contacted a Polk County computer crimes detective posing online as a 14-year-old girl "and initiated a sexually explicit conversation with her ... Doyle knew that the 'girl' was 14 years old, and he told her who he was and that he worked for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security."

Judd said that Doyle, in the first conversation, told the detective his position with DHS and "started immediately into pretty vulgar language. He explained in graphic detail the sexual acts he wanted to perform with this 14-year-old." ....

"Many of the conversations he initiated ... are too extraordinary and graphic for public release," a statement from the sheriff's office said. "I read the transcripts," Judd said. "I wanted to see if this was just as outrageous as the detectives depicted it ... It shocked all of us who have worked vice, narcotics, organized crime, homicides."
What's worse here, the fact that this middle-aged sleaze was preying on a fourteen-year-old girl to a degree that even the cops were stunned? Or that he was so unbelievably dumb that he bragged about his government position as part of his come-on technique?

Seriously, is there anyone at all in this goddamned administration who doesn't possess their unique combination of criminality and incompetence?

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Runaway DeLay

Ding dong, the douchebag's gone!
Rep. Tom DeLay, whose iron hold on the House Republicans melted as a lobbying corruption scandal engulfed the Capitol, told TIME that he will not seek reelection and will leave Congress within months. Taking defiant swipes at "the left" and the press, he said he feels "liberated" and vowed to pursue an aggressive speaking and organizing campaign aimed at promoting foster care, Republican candidates and a closer connection between religion and government.

"I'm going to announce tomorrow that I'm not running for reelection and that I'm going to leave Congress," DeLay, who turns 59 on Saturday, said during a 90-minute interview on Monday. "I'm very much at peace with it." ....

The surprise decision was based on the sort of ruthless calculation that had once given him unchallenged dominance of House Republicans and their wealthy friends in Washington's lobbying community: he realized he might lose in this November's election. DeLay got a scare in a Republican primary last month, and a recent poll taken by his campaign gave him a roughly 50-50 shot of winning, in an election season when Republicans need every seat they can hang onto to avoid a Democratic takeover of the House. ....
Looks like the Hammer's gone all limp and girly. What happened to fighting to the very end? What happened to his accusations that this was all a partisan witch hunt with no merit? Where's Gob Bluth with the chicken dance when we need him?
Asked if he had done anything illegal or immoral in public office, DeLay replied curtly, "No." Asked if he'd done anything immoral, he said with a laugh, "We're all sinners." Asked what he would do differently, he said, "Nothing." He denied having failed to adequately supervise members of his staff, even though two of his former aides have pleaded guilty to committing crimes while on his staff. "Two people violated my trust over 21 years," he said. "I guarantee you if other offices were under the scrutiny I've been under in the last 10 years, with the Democrat Party announcing that they're going to destroy me, destroy my reputation, and that's how they're going to get rid of me, I guarantee you you're going to find, out of hundreds of people, somebody that's probably done something wrong."
Yes, it's sad to see what's become of Tom DeLay's sterling reputation at the hands of those damned, dirty Demmycrats.

Remember the patriotism he displayed in explaining that he really wanted to go to Vietnam but couldn't because greedy minorities had already snatched up all the plum front-line military positions from his district? Remember when he blamed school shootings on the teaching of evolution and "working mothers who take birth control pills"? Remember when he flauted a federal no-smoking law by insisting "I am the federal government"? Remember when he said "nothing is more important during a war than cutting taxes"? Remember when he tried to get homeless Katrina refugees huddled in the Superdome to admit that "this was kind of fun"?

Truly, he was the noblest leader ever to grace the Capitol with his wisdom, his humanity, and his gentle spirit. And then that damned liberal media and those evil Democrats tore him down and destroyed him. Bastards.
DeLay brushed off the torrent of investigative news articles questioning the funding behind the golf, private planes and resort hotels that marked his travel at home and abroad. ....

"You can't prove to me one thing that I have done for my own personal gain," he added. "Yes, I play golf. I'm very proud of the fact that I play golf. It's the only thing that I do for myself. And when you go to a country and you're there for seven days and you take an afternoon off to play golf, what does the national media write? All about the golf, not about the meeting that went to. I'm not ashamed of anything I've done. I've never done anything in my political career for my own personal gain. You can look at my bank account and my house to understand that."

"I don't care what history writes, " he continued. "What I care about, what's important to me is who I am, what I've done and what I can accomplish in the future. What I care about it what I believe in and how I conduct myself in fighting for what I believe in."
Shorter Tom Delay: "I welcome this kind of examination. Because the people have got to know if their Republican Majority Leader is a crook. Well, I'm not a crook."

Monday, April 03, 2006

Trophy Wife

The good people at the Poor Man once again knock it out of the park.

Give 'Em Hell, Harry

Courtesy of the Carpetbagger Report, we bring you this little nugget from Harry Reid as printed in U.S. News and World Report:
Sen. Harry Reid, the Democratic leader, makes no bones about disliking most of his GOP colleagues. "Republicans in the Senate," he says, "do not represent mainstream Republicans in this country. Mainstream Republicans in this country are more moderate and more thoughtful than the people I work with who are in the majority in the Senate." Ouch.

Well, of the 55 GOP-ers, he's gotta like a few, right? "Someone asked me the other day," he says, "'Who are the moderate Republicans?' Hmm. Well, you've got Lincoln Chafee [of Rhode Island], sometimes the two senators from Maine [Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins], and Arlen Specter [of Pennsylvania] whenever you don't need him. That's it." Double ouch.
Sweet. I don't know what I like more, the fact that he stuck the shiv in Arlen or that he noticeably neglected to list McCain the Maverick™ in there.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Building a Bridge to the 12th Century

Former Republican strategist and current Republican critic Kevin Phillips offers a preview of his new book American Theocracy in the Washington Post:
Now that the GOP has been transformed by the rise of the South, the trauma of terrorism and George W. Bush's conviction that God wanted him to be president, a deeper conclusion can be drawn: The Republican Party has become the first religious party in U.S. history.

We have had small-scale theocracies in North America before -- in Puritan New England and later in Mormon Utah. Today, a leading power such as the United States approaches theocracy when it meets the conditions currently on display: an elected leader who believes himself to speak for the Almighty, a ruling political party that represents religious true believers, the certainty of many Republican voters that government should be guided by religion and, on top of it all, a White House that adopts agendas seemingly animated by biblical worldviews.
Well, I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm really looking forward to the New Dark Ages. The visceral thrill of witch burnings and the spectacle of public stonings! The passion of experiencing plagues and crop failures now that we've shunned the Devil's science! A retro return to the old-school medical stylings of a good leeching and bloodletting! The glamour of a real crusade against infidels abroad! The political intrigue of internal religious infighting at home!

It'll be just like Monty Python and the Holy Grail, but without all the humor and sex. This is going to be awesome!

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Caption Contest

What better way to celebrate April Fool's Day than a photo caption tribute to the foolingest fool of them all?

Have at him.