Wednesday, May 31, 2006

"Well, They've Got Sorny, Panaphonics, Magnetbox...."

After years of needless suffering, Malibu Stacy and I are seriously looking into getting an HDTV.

There are a number of reasons, but high on the list are the simple facts that the World Cup is right around the corner and the start of the 2006 NFL season is just 99 short days away. Once you've watched either sport on an HDTV, there's just no going back to the 22" thing we've got with the blurry line on top and the lower corner that tends to go blue.

Anyway, in an effort to educate myself and lower my sense of self-worth, I've been busy looking around at the various products out there. While I've never been swayed by an ad before, this stunning ad for the Sony Bravia just might work its magic on me. The visuals are extremely cool, and the fact that they set it to Jose Gonzalez's cover of "Heartbeats" takes it up to eleven.

Do yourself a favor and bask in its glory.

Caption Contest

Slow blogging today, so here's a caption contest. Have at it.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

All Apologies

In an effort to make amends for not only forcing you all to recall "Escape (The Piña Colada Song)" but also making you gaze upon the visage of its midwife Rupert Holmes, I offer the following peace offerings.

First, for all the Pixies fans out there, here's a link to Matthew's Celebrity Pixies Tribute. He's taken some classic tunes by a classic band, and performed them in the persona of some all-time legends. Ever wonder what "Monkey Gone to Heaven" would sound like in the hands of Sinatra? Or how the Beach Boys would've handled "Levitate Me"? Me neither. And now I think less of myself. So much less.

The renditions are all surprisingly good for a guy whose qualifications seem to be a face, a voice, and the ability to operate the internets. The Bee Gees rendition of "Wave of Mutilation" sounds like it could've been on the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack, and the Prince version of "Hey" is so damn good I bet it's on his next album. Go.

Second, for those of you who lack my twisted appreciation for such covers, here's a link to a free download of the new DangerDoom Occult Hymn EP. Some nice remixes of hits from the main LP, and a little extra something thrown in as a token of their appreciation.

Enjoy.

Shittiest Mix Tape Ever!

It's the craze that's sweeping the nation -- the shittiest mix tape competition.

Here's my five-song entry:

1. Bob Seger, "Old Time Rock and Roll"
2. Starship, "We Built This City"
3. Los del Rio, "Macarena"
4. Eagles, "Desperado"
5. Rupert Holmes, "Escape (The Piña Colada Song)"

I wanted to start with two songs that both claim to love rock and roll, but apparently love rock in the same way an abusive drunken husband really loves his spouse. Then we have the cleansing sorbet of the Macarena -- "all right?!?" -- followed by the pompous soft-rock assitude of the Eagles, and the smooth sultry shit-pop sounds of übergeek Rupert Holmes.

Check out the link above for some of the other brilliant posts and feel free to add your own, here or there. If you don't add your own list, you'll never get Rupert Holmes (actual photo, above right) out of your head. Or your libido. Rrrrowww!

Update: There's actually voting for this thing, so if you need something to fill the "American Idol" void -- man, is that phrase redundant -- check out the righthand sidebar here. There are some gloriously hideous selections, so look through them all before you vote for me.

"Can't Someone Else Do It?"

As long as I'm passing the buck and avoiding the hard work today -- just like the president! -- then let me also recommend this great piece by Michelle Goldberg on the Religious Right and how to fight them. Interesting stuff.

Bastards in Suits

Over at the indispensible Kung Fu Monkey, John Rogers has a brilliant post up about our fearless clueless leaders in the War on Terror.

As usual with Rogers, it's all great stuff. But I know our readers are much too lazy to click through to the link, so here's a taste to get you motivated:
The problem is, these yahoos have managed an ugly trick. They have turned criticism of the policies of Bastards in Suits into criticism of The People in Uniform Getting Shot At. This, of course, is completely wrong, as one can easily tell the difference between the Bastards in Suits and The People in Uniform Getting Shot At. One group is in Suits, and Not Getting Shot At, while another is in Uniform, and Getting Shot At. Please, try to grasp this. Not the same.

There is a flip side. Some people confuse supporting the Bastards in Suits for supporting The People in Uniform Getting Shot At. This is, again, ridiculous. If the history of modern warfare has taught us anything, it's that the Bastards in Suits spend an awful lot of time working the kinks out of plans involving The People in Uniform dying unpleasantly. They often screw that up. When they do screw up, it is incumbent upon Bastards in Suits to suffer criticism and fix the situation, as by comparison The People in Uniform are suffering shattered skulls, missing limbs and death. Which is, on my scale, exponentially more traumatic than criticism.

Some people even seem confused on how we are criticizing the Bastards in Suits. The Bastards have a job to do. They are not doing it. Period. Tommy Franks recently trotted out the classic bit of misdirection, attacking critics of Donald Rumsfeld. "I don't care about your politics. I don't. Don Rumsfeld is an American patriot."

Yes, well, that's lovely. But we're not criticizing his patriotism. We're criticizing his job performance. One of the great mysteries of the last six years was how and when the Bush Administration turned public policy into Special Olympics. "Oh, I know Donny knocked over all the hurdles, but HE LOVES THE RACE, so you SHUT YOUR FILTHY, CYNICAL MOUTH." Jesus H. Christ.
The rest is just as damn good, so go take a look.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Memorial Day

In his weekly radio address, President Bush honors the true heroes of the War on Terror.

On a serious note, our sincere thanks to all the men and women who have made the real sacrifices, in this and all wars. We'll try to get you some decent civilian leadership soon.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Caption Contest

It's Memorial Day Weekend, so I'm going to phone it in with a caption contest.

Come up with a witty caption of your own, and have your helper monkey type it into the comments.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Friday Random Ten

You know, it's not often that a Hindu deity records an album -- with a notable exception -- but here we have one doing precisely that.

Now, I can barely keep track of the religious figures in the faith in which I was raised -- snake-handling, thank you very much -- so I'm having a hard time deciding just which Hindu god this is. Vishnu? Shiva? Aishwarya Rai? Hard to say.

Whether it's the destroyer of worlds or the destroyer of libidos, the ascendancy of this deity can only mean that it's time once more for the Friday Random Ten. Let's do this thing.

1. Big Boi, "Kryptonite" -- This is a fairly mediocre offering from Mr. Antwan Patton, a song that suggests that if the long-rumored Outkast break-up really does come to fruition this year, then Big Boi is destined to join Andrew Ridgley, John Oates, and Art Garfunkel in the annals of castaway sidemen. 5/10

2. The Gruesomes, "Way Down Below" -- Fairly decent bit of garage rock revival from the 1980s. They're not as good as the premier garage revival group, the Gories. But then again, they're not as bad as the other retro group of the 1980s, the Goonies. 6/10

3. Smashing Pumpkins, "Today" -- If only this song had made it onto MTV once or twice, the Pumpkins might never have broken up. Oh wait. 6/10

4. Inkunzi Emdaka, "Ikhaya Lami" -- A nice little bit of southern African music, full of the typically great guitar work and lyrics that, for all I know, might be the backstory to Mr. Eko's character on "Lost." Who knows? The music alone is damn good. 9/10

5. Yo La Tengo, "Let's Save Tony Orlando's House" -- This song has made it to a couple other FRT's, but it's good enough to merit the repeat performances. Not only is this a sweet indie pop song from Hoboken's finest, but it's also named after a Troy McClure-hosted telethon. How can you lose? 10/10

6. Redd Kross, "Dancing Queen" -- Wow. Not just ABBA. An ABBA cover. 1/10

7. ... And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead, "Worlds Apart" -- A nice, slightly unhinged rocker. You've got to love the band's name, and the fact that they start this song by shouting "Hey, fuck you, man!" to a collection of school children. Or perhaps not. 8/10

8. Belle & Sebastian, "The State That I Am" -- Some almost sickly-sweet strumpop from a band I absolutely swore I would hate but wound up liking a bit. This is off Tigermilk, my favorite album. It builds nicely. 7/10

9. Sir Guy, "The Frog" -- A smoking bit of forgotten R&B. Like virtually every other song released in the early 1960s, this one provides instructions on how to perform an eponymous, zoologically correct, rhythmically expressed, youth dance number. Or so the kids tell me. 7/10

10. David Bowie, "The Man Who Sold the World" -- A classic. Is it heresy to admit that I actually like the Nirvana Unplugged version better? It is? Screw you. 8/10

Well, that gives me yet another score in the high D-range, a whopping 6.7 out of 10. It hasn't been easy staying in this rut, but somehow, I pulled it off!

Let's see what you've got. Drop your own Friday Random Ten in the comments below, with or without the Coolness Self Audit that has become the bane on my existence. And, hey, this is Memorial Day weekend -- so let's make it memorable, dammit!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

"They Won't Let Me in the Big People Library Downtown. There was Some ... Unpleasantness."



Here's a classic bit of local news reporting for your viewing pleasure.

What's funnier here? The fact that Onan the Librarian doesn't realize he's allowed to say "no comment" to a reporter? Or the fact that Onan Sr. then goes after the reporter like a whirlwind of bare knuckles and beard stubble?

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Dr. Strange

If you haven't read the creeepy, Norman Batesish profile of Sen. Bill Frist in the Washington Post, don't worry -- we've got you covered. Here are some of the highlights:
Instead of taking [wife] Karyn to the theater, Frist brought her to the operating room. "To see the human body alive -- without a heart in it." .... In medical school, Frist cut out a dog's heart and held it in his palm. It continued to beat for a slippery minute. .... Frist spent so much time in the hospital in Tennessee that when he came home to his wife and three sons he felt like an intruder. .... Though devoted to matters of the heart, Frist acknowledges that he is aloof, something he traces back to the day he refused to attend kindergarten. He calls it "the Great Wall," an emotional barrier that has kept him from having close friends. .... "Isn't this exciting?" And Frist slipped an IV needle into Kuja's vein. His gloves turned red with gorilla blood. .... Frist smiled and spoke unremarkably from the lectern, reeking of silverback testosterone.
Since Sen. Frist is so skilled at providing medical diagnoses by way of video, I feel perfectly comfortable offering some psychoanalysis by way of puff piece. Let's see ... uncomfortable around other people, ... fascinated by blood, ... arrogant in his own abilities, ... willing to destroy animals to satisfy his own curiosity. Hmmm, that sounds familiar.

If you think the WaPo piece was some kind of abberation, check out the Good Doctor's own thoughts in the book he wrote about his esteemed family, Good People Beget Good People. The cat killing described in the book pairs well with the dog killing of the WaPo piece.

The Tom Servo Experience



Given the massive outpouring of interest for the last MST3K clip -- one comment! -- I thought I'd break out another one for your viewing pleasure. Here's their take on a '50s hygiene film. Hi-larious.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Thighs of Christ Compel You!

Traditionally, the World's Strongest Man competition is dominated by men named Magnus -- Magnus ver Magnusson, Magnus Samuelsen, Magneto, etc. It seems there's something magical about that name that allows the various Magni to perform the amazing feats of strength, like lifting a Volkswagen Beetle or making it through an entire episode of "According to Jim."

Well, look out, all you Magnuseses of the Nordic Lands. There's a new mildly-retarded pituitary case in town, and if he didn't get all queasy when it came to muscular men in leotards, he would kick your behinds. But not in a gay way.
Did you know that Pat Robertson can leg-press 2000 pounds! How does he do it?

Where does Pat find the time and energy to host a daily, national TV show, head a world-wide ministry, develop visionary scholars, while traveling the globe as a statesman?

One of Pat’s secrets to keeping his energy high and his vitality soaring is his age-defying protein shake. Pat developed a delicious, refreshing shake, filled with energy-producing nutrients.
Wow! It's hard to believe a frail old man like Pat Robertson could more than triple the record for a leg press, but this is, after all, a man who can redirect hurricanes. With his mind.

There may be some unbelievers out there, but they probably don't think 9/11 was caused by gays and abortionists and the ACLU, either. What do they know? They'd probably say that the withered muscles of a batshit crazy octagenarian couldn't possibly leg press 2000 pounds. Pffft. And then they'd go on and on again about their touchy-queery "ev-o-lu-tion."

Well, they don't know anything. Too much "school learnin'" if you ask me. I, for one, look forward to seeing Pat Robertson compete in this year's strongman competition. Or, perhaps, the Special Olympics. But either way, the competition is going down!

It's .... Super Decider!

Speaking of reliable news sources, the Onion Radio News has a dilly of a scoop -- "President Bush Invokes Presidential Super Powers." Stay tuned until the end. Trust me.

All The News That Fits, We Print

By now, you've probably heard about the pathetic front page story the New York Times ran this morning, an investigation into the most pressing issue of our time -- whether or not Bill and Hillary Clinton are, you know, "doing it" -- and one that's supported by an impenetrable mountain of hearsay, speculation, and rumor.

But did you know that the Times has a blog? With a post by this reporter? And it's currently accepting comments?

Southern Culture on the Greasy, Greasy Skids

Road trip!
One of the most popular items on the menu at Mulligan's bar in suburban Decatur, Ga., is the ``hamdog,'' a half-pound of hamburger meat wrapped around a hotdog, which is deep-fried and served on a hoagie topped with chili, bacon and a fried egg. The bar also offers the ``Luther,'' a half-pound burger served with bacon and cheese on a Krispy Kreme donut, and, for dessert, fried Twinkies, two deep-fried Kap'n Crunch-coated Twinkies topped with chocolate and cherry sauce.

"You Just Got Your Asses Kicked by a Bunch of Goddamned Nerds!"

Looks like Axl Rose's triumphant return is going well:
Tommy Hilfiger really showed his "Appetite for Destruction" yesterday when he pummeled Guns N' Roses frontman Axl Rose in a dispute over a VIP table at Rosario Dawson's birthday party, sources said.

The midnight turf battle erupted when Axl moved Hilfiger's girlfriend's drink in the banquette area of The Plumm nightclub on West 14th Street - where the "Rent" actress was celebrating her 27th birthday. A densely packed crowd of celebs - including Lenny Kravitz and Kid Rock - had ringside seats to the battle.

The feisty fashionista was acting all gangsta, hitting Axl with a flurry of punches, one that landed under Rose's eye.

"First [Axl and Tommy] were sitting. Then they were pulling on each other . . . It got so out of control," said a shocked witness. As the punch-up escalated, Hilfiger introduced Rose to some "November Pain" with a blow to the cheek. Club guards quickly tried to separate the men.

"A bunch of security ran over - but Tommy would not back down. He was just out to take him down," the witness said. "Kid Rock got trampled by people running over. It was unbelievable."

Eventually, the designer's own bodyguard pulled him out of the club.
That's right. Notorious rock'n'fuckinroll tough guy Axl Rose got his ass kicked by a diminutive, well-groomed, 55-year-old fashion designer. That just may be funnier than the new Guns'n'Roses album.

The New York Post article is a little light on the facts -- it is the Post, after all -- so we have little information on the extent of Axl's injuries or the degree to which he wet all over his plaid pleated skirt during the ass-kicking he received. (Did I mention that said ass-kicking came from a diminutive, well-groomed, 55-year-old fashion designer? I did? OK.)

For some reason, this incident reminds me of my favorite bit of dialogue from I'm Gonna Git You, Sucka!
Willie: I heard you screamin' from all the way over there, and...
Leonard: I wasn't screamin', all right?
Willie: But I heard you...
Leonard: I wasn't screamin'! I was whistling!
Willie: You was whistling "Willie, get this bitch off me"?
Leonard: Yeah!
Keep whistlin', Axl. And welcome to the jungle, punk-ass bitch.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Keep On Rockin' in the Free World

As part of their continuing effort to address the important issues of modern conservatism, like Jonah Goldberg's interpretations of "Star Trek" as an allegory for the war on Islamocooties, the National Review has compiled a list of the Top 50 Conservative Rock Songs.

In a sign of the importance of The List, it's been kept behind the NR's paywall, right along with Bill Buckley's recipe for his homemade Apple Brown Betty. But in the spirit of free enterprise, an aspiring blogger has done the free world a favor by posting the entire list.

Here are some highlights:
1. "Won't Get Fooled Again," by The Who.
The conservative movement is full of disillusioned revolutionaries; this could be their theme song, an oath that swears off naпve idealism once and for all. "There's nothing in the streets / Looks any different to me / And the slogans are replaced, by-the-bye... Meet the new boss / Same as the old boss." The instantly recognizable synthesizer intro, Pete Townshend's ringing guitar, Keith Moon's pounding drums, and Roger Daltrey's wailing vocals make this one of the most explosive rock anthems ever recorded -- the best number by a big band, and a classic for conservatives.
Given the NRO's past record of defining themselves according to classic Comedy Central fare like "South Park" and "Pardon My Zinger," I can only assume this selection is the opening salvo of a new argument for "CSI Conservatives." While the lyrics quoted above seem like a conservative critique of '60s street protest, there's the small matter of the part that's been elided: "And the party on the left / Is now the party on the right." In other words, it's a critique of the Vietnam-era Democrats from the left. Huh. I never knew there were so many conservatives in the antiwar movement.
3. "Sympathy for the Devil," by The Rolling Stones.
Don't be misled by the title; this song is The Screwtape Letters of rock. The devil is a tempter who leans hard on moral relativism -- he will try to make you think that "every cop is a criminal / And all the sinners saints." What's more, he is the sinister inspiration for the cruelties of Bolshevism: "I stuck around St. Petersburg / When I saw it was a time for a change / Killed the czar and his ministers / Anastasia screamed in vain."
And let's no forget the song's tribute to those classic conservatives, John F. Kennedy and Robert Kennedy: "I shouted out, 'Who killed the Kennedys?' / When after all, it was you and me." Maybe that's praise for Lee Harvey Oswald's support of Castro's Cuba?
4. "Sweet Home Alabama," by Lynyrd Skynyrd.
A tribute to the region of America that liberals love to loathe, taking a shot at Neil Young's Canadian arrogance along the way: "A Southern man don't need him around anyhow."
And a tribute to racist, standing-in-the-schoolhouse-door Governor George Wallace, too. Man, what a conservative hero!
12. "Neighborhood Bully," by Bob Dylan.
A pro-Israel song released in 1983, two years after the bombing of Iraq's nuclear reactor, this ironic number could be a theme song for the Bush Doctrine: "He destroyed a bomb factory, nobody was glad / The bombs were meant for him / He was supposed to feel bad / He's the neighborhood bully."
I'll give you a second to swallow the idea of Bob Dylan writing a top conservative rock song -- see also, the Sex Pistols, the Clash, David Bowie and CCR -- and move on to lyrics that seem to be describing a different country these days: "He got no allies to really speak of / What he gets he must pay for, he don't get it out of love / He buys obsolete weapons and he won't be denied / But no one sends flesh and blood to fight by his side/ He's the neighborhood bully."
18. "Cult of Personality," by Living Colour.
A hard-rocking critique of state power, whacking Mussolini, Stalin, and even JFK: "I exploit you, still you love me / I tell you one and one makes three / I'm the cult of personality."
Yes, yes, the cult of personality is solely a product of the Left. And anyone who says differently is clearly suffering from Irrational Bush Hatred.
24. "Der Kommissar," by After the Fire.
On the misery of East German life: "Don't turn around, uh-oh / Der Kommissar's in town, uh-oh / He's got the power / And you're so weak / And your frustration / Will not let you speak." Also a hit song for Falco, who wrote it.
Uhhh .... yeah. I guess they let Schwarzeneggar pick one.
32. "Keep Your Hands to Yourself," by The Georgia Satellites.
An outstanding vocal performance, with lyrics that affirm old-time sexual mores: "She said no huggy, no kissy until I get a wedding vow."
And President Bush got a pick, too, it seems.
34. "Godzilla," by Blue Oyster Cult.
A 1977 classic about a big green monster -- and more: "History shows again and again / How nature points up the folly of men."
First of all, where are the umlauts? And second, Godzilla is a cautionary tale about the dangers of nuclear war and the consequences of wreaking havoc on the environment. I thought those were the kinds of things that only concerned the touchy-queery liberals?
35. "Who'll Stop the Rain," by Creedence Clearwater Revival.
Written as an anti–Vietnam War song, this tune nevertheless is pessimistic about activism and takes a dim view of both Communism and liberalism: "Five-year plans and new deals, wrapped in golden chains..."
Again, conservatives seem to forget that it was once actually possible to critique liberalism from the left. As someone over at Pandagon noted, if thinking the government hasn't gone far enough left somehow makes me a conservative, well, there I am. I'll see you at the next National Review Cruise and Shuffleboard Hoedown, Jonah!
47. "One," by Creed.
Against racial preferences: "Society blind by color / Why hold down one to raise another / Discrimination now on both sides / Seeds of hate blossom further."
That may be the first time I've actually read a Creed lyric. I'm starting to think David Cross was right -- Scott Stapp apparently gets his ideas from the discarded poetry of eighth-grade schoolgirls.
50. "Stand By Your Man," by Tammy Wynette.
Hillary trashed it -- isn't that enough?
Yeah! Tammy Wynette! Kick out the jams, motherfuckers!

There's plenty of more insanity over at the full list, so go check it out. There are some surprising omissions -- the title song of this post, for instance, and the entire body of work by the Nuge -- and some baffling inclusions. Did you know that Jesus Jones' "Right Here Right Now" is not only about the fall of communism but is also, in fact, a good rock song? Did you know that Led Zepplin's "Battle of Evermore" is also about communism? And David Bowie's "Heroes"? And, apparently, every song ever written in English? Well, it's true! The National Review said so, and when have they ever been wrong?

But like I said -- there's plenty of trainwreck here for us all to gawk at, so have a look and share your thoughts in the comments.

(Thanks to Pandagon for finding the link.)

Update: Apparently, the rush to bask in conservative rock has caused the original link to crash. I'm thankful that I was able to preserve some of the brilliance here, but like Oskar Schindler, I sincerely wish that I could've done more.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Outtakes and Spittakes

A nice little collection of adminsitration outtakes on SNL last night.

Crooks and Liars, as always, has the video.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

"Help! I'm Being Repressed!"

Courtesy of the Poor Man, I stumbled across this tragic story of oppression from history professor James C. Cobb at the University of Georgia:
After 34 years of college teaching, I thought I had heard just about every imaginable student complaint. Last week, however, a freshman in my 300-seat US History Since 1865 course came in to discuss her exam with one of the graders and proceeded to work herself into a semi-hissy over the fact that we had spent four class periods (one of them consisting of a visit from Taylor Branch) discussing the civil rights movement.

"I don't know where he's getting all of this," she complained, "we never discussed any of this in high school." One might have let the matter rest here as simply an example of a high school history teacher's sins of omission being visited on the hapless old history prof. had the student not informed the TA in an indignant postcript, "I'm not a Democrat! I don't think I should have to listen to this stuff!"
Apparently, the Republican version of 1950s history is nothing more than old episodes of "Leave It to Beaver."

Friday, May 19, 2006

Mr. B Natural



Since it's a crappy, rainy day here in New York, I thought I'd pass along one of my favorite short clips from "Mystery Science Theater 3000," the creepily hysterical "Mr. B Natural." Consider this a coffee break.

Caption Contest

Time for another caption contest. Bring it on!

Friday Random Ten

As much as I'm impressed by the expensive Olan Mills photo used by the Crawford family, it's the concept of being aboard "Heaven's Choo-Choo" that really grabbed me.

I'd like to think that this was the inspiration for Reverend Lovejoy's train trek through Baboon County U.S.A. on The Simpsons: "Baboons to the left of me, baboons to the right, the speeding locomotive tore through a sea of inhuman fangs. A pair of great apes rose up at me, but biff! Bam! I sent them flying like two hairy footballs. A third came screaming at me, and that's when I got mad...." Now that's a sermon.

Speaking of spreading the good word, it's time again for the Friday Random Ten. You know the drill by now, so let's do this thing.

1. Cut Chemist, "The Garden" -- This is a track off The Audience's Listening, the new solo effort by Jurassic 5's more prominent DJ. Pretty light and airy, with some nice bossanova samples thrown in. I've only listened to this once before, but I'm pretty sure it's a keeper. 8/10

2. Rosco P. Coldchain with Pusha-T and Boo-Bonic, "Hot" -- I'll give you a chance to rest after reading that Bataan Death March of an artist listing. Ready? OK, this is a pretty uninspired bit of Neptunes-produced hiphop. I guess they put all their energy into thinking up cute names. 2/10

3. Dinah Washington, "Is You Is or Is You Ain't My Baby? (Rae and Christian Remix)" -- Another tune from the Verve Remixed series. They've given this a little too formulaic a beat, but the original is strong enough to withstand the tinkering. Not too bad. 6/10

4. Stereolab, "The Noise of Carpet" -- Excellent. I recently saw Stereolab on tour, and this was one of the few uptempo songs they did. But it just wasn't the same without former guitarist/vocalist Mary Hansen, who died in a bicycle accident in 2002. I'm not sure if they'll ever recover from her loss, but here's hoping. 9/10

5. Elvis Presley, "That's Alright Mama" -- An early classic by the King. I think I like the original version by Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup a little better, but this one still works. But is it cool? Doubt it. 5/10

6. TV on the Radio, "Dry Drunk Emperor" -- A nice tribute to the unmitigated awfulness of the Decider. "All eyes upon dry drunk emperor / gold cross jock skull and bones / mocking smile / he's been naked for a while. / Get him gone, get him gone, get him gone!!! / and bring all his thieves to trial." It's available at the Touch & Go website for free download, if you're interested. 8/10

7. Jerry Reed, "When You're Hot You're Hot" -- Part of me appreciates the weird sensabilities of the man who played the Snowman in the Smokey and the Bandit trilogy. And part of me sees him as a musical version of Larry the Cable Guy. 4/10

8. LL Cool J, "I'm the Type of Guy" -- Never has cuckoldery sounded so damn smooth. There are a lot of reasons why the Ladies Love Cool James, and if you doubt them, he's got a four-knuckle ring coming to your grill right away. 7/10

9. Magnetic Fields, "Strange Powers" -- In recent months, frontman Stephin Merritt has been the target of a ridiculous and pathetic smear campaign asserting, among other things, that because he doesn't think much of Beyonce and Justin Timberlake, he is a "cracker racist." This may be the stupidest complaint in the history of music criticism, and that's saying a whole hell of a lot. 8/10

10. Radiohead, "There There (The Boney King of Nowhere)" -- Probably my favorite song off Hail to the Thief. With a tour and the release of Thom Yorke's solo album, this summer is shaping up to feature a Radiohead revival. God bless 'em. 9/10

Alright, that gives me a whopping 6.8 average in the Coolness Self-Audit. I seem to get that score no matter what songs pop up on the iTunes. To paraphrase George McFly, mediocrity just must be my density.

Well, let's see what you've got this week. Drop your own random ten in the comments below, with or without a heaping side serving of coolness ratings.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Conyers to GOP: We Aren't Like You

I voted in a republican primary here in Virginny a couple years back (voting for the less crazy of the 2 loathesome options), and ever since I've been getting love from the RNC. This month I got a survey from Ken Melman in which he really wants to know stuff like: Do you agree with the president that terrorists are bad? Do you think taxes are too high? Don't you hate Ted Kennedy?

This month included a blurb about those rascally demicrats and their evil plan to win elections this fall, followed by an orgy of investigations the likes of which Sherlock Holmes would be proud. The buzzword seems to be "impeachment." Of course, anyone whose brain was fully functioning in the 90s remembers who patented the politics of personal destruction; as Digby says, "They behaved like a slavering lynch mob for six solid years and now evoke that image against the party they lynched."

So I was happy to see John Conyers' op-ed in the Post today. At first I was worried he'd start blubbering about how he didn't want to hurt W's feelings and of course he would never investigate the prez for real (like when that guy apologized for putting his face in front of Cheneys' birdshot), but he says all the right things: oversight is the goal, not punishment (although that could happen, depending on what is learned), and it will be done in the traditional bipartisan way, not the GOP 1990s unilateral way:
It was House Republicans who took power in 1995 with immediate plans to undermine President Bill Clinton by any means necessary, and they did so in the most autocratic, partisan and destructive ways imaginable. If there is any lesson from those "revolutionaries," it is that partisan vendettas ultimately provoke a public backlash and are never viewed as legitimate.

So, rather than seeking impeachment, I have chosen to propose comprehensive oversight of these alleged abuses. The oversight I have suggested would be performed by a select committee made up equally of Democrats and Republicans and chosen by the House speaker and the minority leader.

The committee's job would be to obtain answers -- finally. At the end of the process, if -- and only if -- the select committee, acting on a bipartisan basis, finds evidence of potentially impeachable offenses, it would forward that information to the Judiciary Committee. This threshold of bipartisanship is appropriate, I believe, when dealing with an issue of this magnitude.

The whole op-ed is great. (And dare I say it? George Will is pretty good today too.)

"I Am So Smart! S-M-R-T!"

It's graduation season, folks, which means we'll soon be deluged with loads of commencement speeches. But I doubt anything can top this one.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

"No Children Have Ever Meddled With the Republican Party and Lived to Tell About It"

Norbizness is running a contest to see who can come up with the best cartoon reference -- drawn from The Simpsons, Futurama, Aqua Teen Hunger Force, The Herculoids, etc. -- to capture the spirit of the Bush administration.

Here's my entry:
Sideshow Bob: Because you need me, Springfield. Your guilty conscience may force you to vote Democratic, but deep down inside you secretly long for a cold-hearted Republican to lower taxes, brutalize criminals, and rule you like a king. That's why I did this: to protect you from yourselves. Now if you'll excuse me, I have a city to run.

Judge: Bailiffs, place the mayor under arrest.

Sideshow Bob: What? Oh yes, all that stuff I did.
Bring it on, chummmmmmmmmm-ps.

10 Things I Hate About Commandments


Do yourself a favor, and stick with it to the end.

Golden Shower

The Golden Winger contests over at The Poorman are always great, but for some reason today's especially tickled me. Particularly this bit about some chickenhawk likening supporting the war to supporting the Yankees:
RHODES: Listen, you should be in Iraq. You’re 22. When I was 22, I was in the military. Why aren’t you there?
(snip)
FERGUSON: And just because I support something doesn’t mean I have to always go fight . . . I support the Yankees doesn’t mean I wear their uniform.
Sorry, Steinbrenner, put down the phone. Don't think that just because he likes the Yanks he's going to join up with the team. Find someone else to fill in for Matsui, cuz Ferguson is way better than that crap job.

"From My Cold, Dead Hands!"

I know a lot of you have been wondering just what the Republican Congress would have to do to drive their piss-poor approval ratings even lower. (How do I know this? Friends at the NSA.)

Well, it looks like another round of that famous small-government conservatism might just be the trick!
A prominent Republican on Capitol Hill has prepared legislation that would rewrite Internet privacy rules by requiring that logs of Americans' online activities be stored....

The proposal comes just weeks after Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said Internet service providers should retain records of user activities for a "reasonable amount of time," a move that represented a dramatic shift in the Bush administration's views on privacy. The legislation would create a federal felony targeted at bloggers, search engines, e-mail service providers and many other Web sites that might "facilitate" access to unlawful pornography.

Wisconsin Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, is proposing that ISPs be required to record information about Americans' online activities so that police can more easily "conduct criminal investigations."
Clearly, this is a desperate Republican effort to drive away its core supporters -- the last remaining members of the 82nd Chairborne Division, the brave man-children who fight the war on Islamocooties armed with nothing more than their laptop computers, a party-sized bag of Cheetos, and the warm sense of smug self-satisfaction.

As the GOP knows, these fearless warriors are on the internets 24/7, but it's not all wargasms. I think they're going to get a little skittish about the gubmint searching through their internet records.

On the bright side, I think this may mean the end of the "If you have nothing to hide, what are you afraid of?" talking point.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Blue Wave

Chris Bowers at MyDD has an updated version of the Blue State Red State map. It'll make your day.

Condi Rice's Random Ten

In a recent issue of the London Independent, U2's Bono passed along the top ten favorite pieces of music from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Given that she's trained as a classical pianist, the piano concertos aren't a big surprise at all. But some of the other pieces are, well, a little interesting. She's already given them a coolness self-audit, but I thought I might give an audit of the self-audit.
1. Mozart, Piano Concerto in D minor
"I won my first piano competition at the age of 15, playing this work."
Ahem. Nerrrrrrdddddd.
2. Cream, 'Sunshine of Your Love'
"I love to work out to this song," says Rice. "Believe it or not, I loved acid rock in college - and I still do."
Am I the only one who has a hard time imagining Condi Rice rockin' out to Cream? Maybe she did the same dance that Randall "Tex" Cobb did to this very same song in the outdoor shower scene from Uncommon Valor. Christ, that would be priceless.
3. Aretha Franklin, 'Respect'

4. Kool and the Gang, 'Celebration'
"It's just such a great song."
No commentary for "Respect," but a shout out for both Kool and the Gang. Not very inspired, but what can you do?
5. Brahms, Piano Concerto No 2

6 Brahms, Piano Quintet in F minor
ZZZzzzzzzzzzzz.
7. U2, Anything
Rice, a big fan, is happy to listen to any of their tunes.
....or so reported Bono, the lead singer of said band.
8. Elton John, 'Rocket Man'
"It brings back memories of college, friends, my first boyfriend."
"She packed my bags last night pre-flight / Zero hour nine a.m. / And I'm gonna be high as a kite by then." Between this favorite and the love for acid rock, I'm starting to think we should institute some urine testing at the State Department.
9. Beethoven, Symphony No 7
"Quite simply the greatest symphony of all time," is how Rice describes Beethoven's Seventh.

10. Mussorgsky, Boris Godunov
Well, that last one's Godunov for me. Thank you, thank you, I'll be here all week.

I hope this is the start of a trend for the administration. I'd love to know what music Dick Cheney likes to groove to when his heart medication kicks in, or when he engages in the ritualistic sacrifice of newborn puppies. I'm betting a lot of Goth stuff in there.

Darwin Award Winner - For Real This Time

You know those Darwin Awards, where a dubious honor is sarcastically bestowed upon somebody who does something really really stupid? Looks like we're not the only primates who should be eligible to win:
Bears killed and ate a monkey in a Dutch zoo in front of horrified visitors, witnesses and the zoo said Monday. In the incident Sunday at the Beekse Bergen Safari Park, several Sloth bears chased the Barbary macaque into an electric fence, where it was stunned. It recovered and fled onto a wooden structure, where one bear pursued and mauled it to death.
Let's review: a MONKEY was chased and killed by a BEAR - a bear with SLOTH in its name. I looked up this bear on wikipedia, cuz a lot of times an animal's name is a misnomer (not so in the case of the urine monkey). I was half right. The bear is not slothful, but its dopey slow gait may have inspired the name. The sloth bear is nocturnal and eats insects. It is also the kind of bear used as dancing bears in circuses, and Baloo (Mowgli's animal-human hybrid guardian in The Jungle Book) was a sloth bear.

I looked up Barbary macaques too, just to make sure they weren't some kind of loser primate. Nope, they're small, smart, and fast, as comfortable climbing as they are walking.

So we've got a nocturnal, bug-eating bear chasing and killing a small, agile macaque. On a bright Sunday morning. Up among the wooden beams, the macaque's home turf. Darwin must be spinning in his grave.

(Hat tip to Mrs. T, always a font of fascinating stories.)

Monday, May 15, 2006

"Immigants! I Knew It Was Them!"

President Bush just took to the airwaves to address the current crisis in his poll numbers immigration and border security.

If you missed the address, it was a fairly predictable potpourri of proposals -- 6,000 National Guardsmen at the borders, a guest worker program (complete with national ID cards!), and a program that looks a lot like amnesty but is not, the Decider has decided, "amnesty." The surprising aspect was a proposal to crack down on employers who hire illegals. A nice touch, and one that the GOP business base is going to absolutely love.

While a lot of the attention will be put on the border deployment of the National Guard -- official motto: "We're Fightin' Them There and Here!" -- I think the guest worker program is the truly awful aspect of all this. Let's not forget that a guest worker program, with its effective establishment of a group of second-class citizens, is pretty much what led to all those French suburbs going up in flames a short while back. As someone else said, it's odd that Bush has finally found a French idea he wants to copy, and it's their worst idea ever. (OK, besides mimes.)

Ultimately, I think that will be the part of the program that sinks it all. Conservatives are going to hate the idea of allowing illegals any sort of legal status here, while liberals will -- or at least, should -- have qualms about creating a group of second-class citizens out of working-class minorities. We'll see soon enough.

In other news, it was nice to see Bush say that "We are a nation of laws, and we must enforce our laws." I'm assuming the next phrase -- "... as long as we're talkin' about you people and not me" -- was somehow cut off the teleprompter text.

Update: Some people have been complaining that the president gave his first domestic Oval Office address to discuss immigration reform, but made no reference to the growing concerns about the telephone eavesdropping program. Rest assured, the president devoted his weekly radio address to that very topic. Very impressive.

And, as proof that he's a triple threat when it comes to media, the president is now blogging. Check it out.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

President Gore

Last night's episode of SNL opened with a pretty funny address by President Al Gore. If you didn't see it, take a look at the video clips over at Crooks & Liars.

Between the funny SNL appearance and the serious release of Gore's amazing-looking documentary An Inconvenient Truth, it's looking more and more like we might see a Gore comeback in 2008.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Class Warfare

The Washington Post has a nice article on the latest round of the Republicans' wash-rinse-repeat cycle of tax cuts.

The best part of the piece, and the one that's already getting some play in the media, is the chart where they break down the dollar value of the tax cut (right column) for each income range (left column). Check it out:
$10,000-$20,000: $2
$20,000-$30,000: $9
$30,000-$40,000: $16
$40,000-$50,000: $46
$50,000-$75,000: $100
$75,000-$100,000: $403
$100,000-$200,000: $1,388
$200,000-$500,000: $4,499
$500,000-$1 million: $5,562
More than $1 million: $41,977
Sadly, some of the more unhinged and shrill elements of The Left will doubtlessly use these "facts" and "figures" to argue that the Republican tax cut once again favors the rich over the poor. Anyone who says such a thing is clearly a victim of irrational Bush hatred and engaging in the destructive politics of class warfare.

Either that, or they have a basic grasp of math.

"Ah, Yes. Now You See How You Scum."

CNN recently conducted a poll, asking Americans who they thought did a better job on major issues, the current occupant of the White House or the previous guy. For the Bush cultists, this cannot be good news:
Respondents favored Clinton by greater than 2-to-1 margins when asked who did a better job at handling the economy (63 percent Clinton, 26 percent Bush) and solving the problems of ordinary Americans (62 percent Clinton, 25 percent Bush).

On foreign affairs, the margin was 56 percent to 32 percent in Clinton's favor; on taxes, it was 51 percent to 35 percent for Clinton; and on handling natural disasters, it was 51 percent to 30 percent, also favoring Clinton.

Moreover, 59 percent said Bush has done more to divide the country, while only 27 percent said Clinton had.

When asked which man was more honest as president, poll respondents were more evenly divided, with the numbers -- 46 percent Clinton to 41 percent Bush -- falling within the poll's margin of error. The same was true for a question on handling national security: 46 percent said Clinton performed better; 42 percent picked Bush.
Well well well. It looks like Clinton Fatigue has been replaced by Bush Fatigue. (And please note, by "Bush Fatigue" I mean a syndrome where people are rightly sick and tired of their current president. I don't mean the cute little dress-up outfits he likes to wear. "Hey Mom, look at me! I'm the decider!")

I think Tim Roemer is right. The Democrats should simply revise the old GOP campaign slogan of 1946: "Had Enough?" Because clearly, they have.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Friday Random Ten

With the forthcoming Superman Returns getting all of comic-book geekdom into a frenzy, I thought it might be a good time to revisit the Man of Steel.

As true fans will remember, the photo used on this album cover comes directly from the movie where Richard Pryor pulled off the "Office Space" embezzlement. I want to say it's Superman III, ... but isn't that the one where he fights Mr. T? And now that I think about it, I don't remember Superman bearing that much of a resemblance to Martin Mull either....

Anyway, it's time for the Friday Random Ten. Bring it on!

1. Earl Hooker, "Sweet Black Angel" -- For my money, Hooker's one of the better guitarists in the Chicago style. But this cut off the otherwise great Two Bugs and a Roach is fairly uninspired. And a little too downtempo for a guy who normally brings the heat on the guitar. 6/10

2. The Roots, "Boom!" -- Well, here's a second crappy-song-by-a-favorite-band entry. The Tipping Point is a great disc, but this track is just awful. The breakdown they do halfway through is so, so very beneath this band's talent. Hate to say it, but: 3/10

3. Annie Ross, "Twisted" -- A great little bit of sassy-gal '50s jazz, with some fast-paced if almost-too-cutesy lyrics. "I heard little children were supposed to sleep tight / That's why I drank a fifth of vodka one night." On the bright side, for once, this is my favorite song by the artist. 6/10

4. Eric B. & Rakim, "Paid in Full" -- Ohhhhhhhh, snap. One of the best tunes by one of the best hiphop acts of all-time. From the opening lines ("Thinking of a master plan / Ain't nuthin' but sweat in the palm of my hand") and the walk-like-a-panther rhythms, this song is all up in your grill. 10/10

5. Green Day, "Are We the Waiting / St. Jimmy" -- For some genetic indie rock problem I have, I really really want to hate Green Day. But the American Idiot album is great. Good punk/pop, with a coherent album and some nicely political songs to boot. But cool? Eh. 6/10

6. Weezer, "Say It Ain't So" -- Another great song off a great album. Nothing's worked quite as well as this first album, which is a keeper all the way through. 8/10

7. Travis Morrison, "What's Your Fantasy?" -- In the spirit of the Gourds' cover of "Gin and Juice" and Dynamite Hack cover of "Boyz in the Hood," we have another white folk cover of a hiphop bragfest. This time it's Ludacris who gets the royal treatment. You may disagree, but I for one love this shit. 9/10

8. Charles Wright and the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band, "Express Yourself" -- The R&B classic that N.W.A. later turned into a hiphop sample staple. A great walking bassline and some sharp horns make this song, like much of their stuff, absolutely smoke. 9/10

9. Blondie, "Dreaming" -- A classic '80s tune. 8/10

10. Soundgarden, "The Day I Tried to Live" -- Ah, Superunknown. Another great song off a great album. In fact, this may be my favorite Soundgarden song. Discuss. 10/10

After a craptastic beginning there, I managed to pull out a 7.5 average. Woohoo!

Alright, you know what to do. Drop your own random ten, with or without a side serving of coolness self-awareness, in the comments below.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

The Confetishacy

Like the other badasses who blog here, I was born and raised in the south. However, my commie pinko Peace Corps parents kept me from being fully immersed in that good ol’ southern culture that I’m supposed to be so glad God made me a part of. Don’t get me wrong - I thought Lynyrd Skynyrd scored a telling point on jackaninny Neil Young with “Sweet Home Alabama,” and you better believe I rigged every game of chess I ever played on the Franklin Mint Civil War Chess Set in favor of the Greys (don’t get me started on the indignity of Stonewall Jackson being relegated to pawn duty), but I’m about as high on the Confederacy as I am on iron skillets.

Still, I’m a little touchy about non-southerners telling me what the south is like. Usually they’re telling me how bad it is, but it’s even weirder when they’re telling me how great it is. Sure, there’s nice people and we’ve got that chivalry thing going on, but don’t you have your own heritage to be proud of? Do you have any idea how humid it gets down here? Have you seen the way we react to even a 10% chance of snow?

Which brings me to Virginia’s freakish senator, George “the South will rise again” Allen. Despite his drawl, intricate knowledge of the second battle of Bull Run, and Foghorn Leghorn persona, the guy ain’t a southerner. He’s from California, born and raised. He moved to VA after his daddy got a gig coaching the Washington pro football club, but by that time he was a rebel-yellin’, Hee-Haw watchin’, National Wrestling Alliance lovin’ wannabe. (His dysfunctional background was excellently detailed in TNR recently.)

I don’t care that we have a senator from California. We just had a governor from Indiana (Mark Warner), and he was awesome. It’s the whole co-opting of the culture that I don’t like. Not only is it creepy, but I also have the feeling Allen is doing it for reasons other than pure nostalgia. Ed Kilgore said it best on Monday (the whole post is great):
I sort of doubt George Allen was just exhibiting an exotic historical interest in the Confederacy, interchangeable with, say, an enthusiasm for the War of the Roses. No, there's not much doubt what it meant to be a Yankee Confedero-phile in the late 1960s. The southerner in me always reacts to such phenomena by saying: "You're touching my stuff, and breaking it."
Hands off, Georgie.

Caption Contest

As long as they've taken the Vice President out of deep storage, we might as well use him for a caption contest.

Have at him!

The Stalker State

It looks like the Bush administration's crusade to transform the Nanny State into the Stalker State is even more far-gone than we'd originally thought. USA Today has a bit of a bombshell today:
The National Security Agency has been secretly collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans, using data provided by AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth, people with direct knowledge of the arrangement told USA TODAY.

The NSA program reaches into homes and businesses across the nation by amassing information about the calls of ordinary Americans — most of whom aren't suspected of any crime. This program does not involve the NSA listening to or recording conversations. But the spy agency is using the data to analyze calling patterns in an effort to detect terrorist activity, sources said in separate interviews. ....

The NSA's domestic program, as described by sources, is far more expansive than what the White House has acknowledged. Last year, Bush said he had authorized the NSA to eavesdrop — without warrants — on international calls and international e-mails of people suspected of having links to terrorists when one party to the communication is in the USA. Warrants have also not been used in the NSA's efforts to create a national call database.

In defending the previously disclosed program, Bush insisted that the NSA was focused exclusively on international calls. "In other words," Bush explained, "one end of the communication must be outside the United States." As a result, domestic call records — those of calls that originate and terminate within U.S. borders — were believed to be private.

Sources, however, say that is not the case. With access to records of billions of domestic calls, the NSA has gained a secret window into the communications habits of millions of Americans.
Repeat after me: If you're not doing anything wrong, then what do you have to fear?

No, seriously, repeat it. Or else start packing for Gitmo.

Update: In related news, GWU Law Professor Jonathan Turley had a great appearance on Olbermann, discussing the many other ways this administration is shredding the Constitution. Crooks and Liars has the video.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The Times They Are A-Changin'

Every now and then, you get a nice convergence of blog posts out there in the internets, a coming together that helps it all make sense.

On one hand, Will Bunch presents a convincing argument that liberalism, no matter how many times the mainstream media says it, is not "out of the mainstream." In fact, he says, there's really a Silent Majority centered on themes at the core of contemporary liberalism -- opposition to the war, support for abortion rights, opposition to constitutional amendments on gay marriage, etc.

Meanwhile Tristero points out that the Extremists are no longer wild-eyed, drugged-out, draft-dodging hippies, but rather the conservative shock troops of the Religious Right.

I don't know about the rest of you, but when the New Silent Majority overthrows the New Extremists, I'll be there with my "America: Love It or Leave It" bumpersticker.

Incoming Wounded!

Brace yourselves, folks, because it looks like we may be entering the final phase of the "criminalization of politics" -- specifically, the fact that so many Republicans are getting exposed as criminals.

First up, we have this tantalizing quote from MSNBC reporter David Shuster:
SHUSTER: Well, Karl Rove’s legal team has told me that they expect that a decision will come sometime in the next two weeks. And I am convinced that Karl Rove will, in fact, be indicted.

And there are a couple of reasons why. First of all, you don’t put somebody in front of a grand jury at the end of an investigation or for the fifth time, as Karl Rove testified a couple, a week and a half ago, unless you feel that’s your only chance of avoiding indictment. So in other words, the burden starts with Karl Rove to stop the charges.

Secondly, it’s now been 13 days since Rove testified. After testifying for three and a half hours, prosecutors refused to give him any indication that he was clear. He has not gotten any indication since then. And the lawyers that I’ve spoken with outside of this case say that if Rove had gotten himself out of the jam, he would have heard something by now.

And then the third issue is something we’ve talked about before. And that is, in the Scooter Libby indictment, Karl Rove was identified as ‘Official A.’ It’s the term that prosecutors use when they try to get around restrictions on naming somebody in an indictment. We’ve looked through the records of Patrick Fitzgerald from when he was prosecuting cases in New York and from when he’s been US attorney in Chicago. And in every single investigation, whenever Fitzgerald has identified somebody as Official A, that person eventually gets indicted themselves, in every single investigation. Will Karl Rove defy history in this particular case? I suppose anything is possible when you are dealing with a White House official. But the lawyers that I’ve been speaking with who know this stuff say, don’t bet on Karl Rove getting out of this.
If that's not enough schadenfreude for you, Josh Marshall has an interesting tease about the investigation into the Dukestir:
Says Rick Gwin, regional head of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, "In my opinion, he has not been cooperative and I have not gotten any information from him to further develop other targets. I was hoping that from a jail cell, he might become more cooperative, but we just don't have the cooperation that I think we should have."

And then Gwin says this:"This is much bigger and wider than just Randy 'Duke' Cunningham. All that has just not come out yet, but it won't be much longer and then you will know just how widespread this is."
I, of course, eagerly await to hear an explanation for how all this is the fault of the media. And, to be sure, gay Islamofascist Mexican illegal immigrants.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Hackocracy

Another day, another story about an administration official who's nothing more than a political hack:
Once the color barrier has been broken, minority contractors seeking government work may need to overcome the Bush barrier.

That's the message U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson seemed to send during an April 28 talk in Dallas.

Jackson, a former president and CEO of the Dallas Housing Authority, was among the featured speakers at a forum sponsored by the Real Estate Executive Council, a national minority real estate consortium.

After discussing the huge strides the agency has made in doing business with minority-owned companies, Jackson closed with a cautionary tale, relaying a conversation he had with a prospective advertising contractor.

"He had made every effort to get a contract with HUD for 10 years," Jackson said of the prospective contractor. "He made a heck of a proposal and was on the (General Services Administration) list, so we selected him. He came to see me and thank me for selecting him. Then he said something ... he said, 'I have a problem with your president.'

"I said, 'What do you mean?' He said, 'I don't like President Bush.' I thought to myself, 'Brother, you have a disconnect -- the president is elected, I was selected. You wouldn't be getting the contract unless I was sitting here. If you have a problem with the president, don't tell the secretary.'

"He didn't get the contract," Jackson continued. "Why should I reward someone who doesn't like the president, so they can use funds to try to campaign against the president? Logic says they don't get the contract. That's the way I believe."
I'll give you a moment to ask if he is, in fact, shitting you.

Caught your breath? Good, let's continue.

I'm certainly not surprised to see another Bush official admit -- hell, brag -- that political loyalty is this administration's first, second, and last priority. Remember what John D'Iulio, the one-time head of the faith-based initiative, said: "There is no precedent in any modern White House for what is going on in this one: a complete lack of a policy apparatus. What you’ve got is everything—-and I mean everything—-being run by the political arm. It’s the reign of the Mayberry Machiavellis." Whether it's Porter Goss purging the CIA of Democrats or the Department of Agriculture being told to promote the war in Iraq, this administration is nothing if not political.

What I find so interesting about this latest revelation of the Bush hackocracy is that it finally answers a question I've been asking for the last year: With Hurricane Katrina destroying the city of New Orleans and sending its residents scattered to the four corners of the country, why haven't we heard anything -- and I mean, anything -- from the administration's HUD Secretary? For some crazy reason, I thought HUD would be right in the thick of the effort to provide housing and urban development in the aftermath of the hurricane, what with the words "housing and urban development" in its very name. But, no, HUD hasn't been seen.

Well, now we know why. Instead of doing his job, the HUD Secretary has been focused on maintaining the structural integrity of the White House, shoring up its levees against those dirty Demmycrats and providing shelter from the storm of public opinion for a battered and abused president.

Unfuckingbelievable.

I'm with Atrios. This guy needs to resign, and now.

Liars' Paradox

Just do yourself a favor and read this post over at the Poor Man.

Caption Contest

They can run, but they can't hide. Bring it on.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Down Down Down

Bush approval rating sinks to a new low of 31%. Brace yourself -- here come the 20s!

"Sounds Like Somebody's Got a Case of the Mondays!"

If the start of the work week is treating you rudely, your misery will certainly enjoy the company of these celebrity rants.

Thrill to the sound of Casey Kasem complaining about having to talk "about a fucking dog dying"! Marvel as Orson Wells mocks "the depths of your ignorance"! Be amazed as Jim Backus promises to "sell this piece of shit if it's the last thing I do"! Weep as William Shatner is "sickened" by direction!

Not safe for work! Children under 18 will not be admitted! And no one -- repeat, no one -- will be allowed to enter the theater during the thrilling Barry White curse-out!

Fourth and Long

As the replacement for recently axed CIA Director Porter Goss -- a man who has the boorish manners of a Yalie -- President Bush is pushing General Michael Hayden.

Leaving aside the problematic matter of having the CIA firmly under the control of one of Rummy's men, there's also the small matter that Hayden has about as good a grip on the Constitution as Judge Smalls had on that pitching wedge in Caddyshack. Here's an exchange from earlier this year, in which Hayden -- then national director of the NSA -- lectured a reporter on the Fourth Amendment, getting it very very wrong.
QUESTION: Jonathan Landay with Knight Ridder. I'd like to stay on the same issue, and that had to do with the standard by which you use to target your wiretaps. I'm no lawyer, but my understanding is that the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution specifies that you must have probable cause to be able to do a search that does not violate an American's right against unlawful searches and seizures. Do you use --

GEN. HAYDEN: No, actually -- the Fourth Amendment actually protects all of us against unreasonable search and seizure.

QUESTION: But the --

GEN. HAYDEN: That's what it says.

QUESTION: But the measure is probable cause, I believe.

GEN. HAYDEN: The amendment says unreasonable search and seizure.

QUESTION: But does it not say probable --

GEN. HAYDEN: No. The amendment says --

QUESTION: The court standard, the legal standard --

GEN. HAYDEN: -- unreasonable search and seizure.

QUESTION: The legal standard is probable cause, General. You used the terms just a few minutes ago, "We reasonably believe." And a FISA court, my understanding is, would not give you a warrant if you went before them and say "we reasonably believe"; you have to go to the FISA court, or the attorney general has to go to the FISA court and say, "we have probable cause."

And so what many people believe -- and I'd like you to respond to this -- is that what you've actually done is crafted a detour around the FISA court by creating a new standard of "reasonably believe" in place of probable cause because the FISA court will not give you a warrant based on reasonable belief, you have to show probable cause. Could you respond to that, please?

GEN. HAYDEN: Sure. I didn't craft the authorization. I am responding to a lawful order. All right? The attorney general has averred to the lawfulness of the order.

Just to be very clear -- and believe me, if there's any amendment to the Constitution that employees of the National Security Agency are familiar with, it's the Fourth. And it is a reasonableness standard in the Fourth Amendment. And so what you've raised to me -- and I'm not a lawyer, and don't want to become one -- what you've raised to me is, in terms of quoting the Fourth Amendment, is an issue of the Constitution. The constitutional standard is "reasonable." And we believe -- I am convinced that we are lawful because what it is we're doing is reasonable.
For the record, here's the Fourth Amendment:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Seriously, is there no one in this administration who doesn't exhibit their patented brand of ignorance and arrogance? Talk about message discipline.

Personally, I hope the Senate rejects this guy so he can get back to his current job.

"Stay on Target .... Stay on Target ...."

Now, this is message discipline:
Career appointees at the Department of Agriculture were stunned last week to receive e-mailed instructions that include Bush administration "talking points" -- saying things such as "President Bush has a clear strategy for victory in Iraq" -- in every speech they give for the department.

"The President has requested that all members of his cabinet and sub-cabinet incorporate message points on the Global War on Terror into speeches, including specific examples of what each agency is doing to aid the reconstruction of Iraq," the May 2 e-mail from USDA speechwriter Heather Vaughn began. ....

There's a sample introduction: "Several topics I'd like to talk about today -- Farm Bill, trade with Japan, WTO, avian flu . . . but before I do, let me touch on a subject people always ask about . . . progress in Iraq." See? Smooth as silk.

So then you talk about how "we are helping the Iraqi people build a lasting democracy that is peaceful and prosperous." If it looks like the audience is with you, try to slip in the old Iraq/al-Qaeda/terrorism link and say Americans are helping build a country "that will never again be a safe haven for terrorists."
I guess these days the tired old Iraq talking points might as well be coming out of the mouths of Agriculture spokesmen. They have about as much of a clue as anyone else in this administration.

(Link from TBogg.)

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Best Week Ever!

From Reuters:
U.S. President George W. Bush told a German newspaper his best moment in more than five years in office was catching a big perch in his own lake.

"You know, I've experienced many great moments and it's hard to name the best," Bush told weekly Bild am Sonntag when asked about his high point since becoming president in January 2001.

"I would say the best moment of all was when I caught a 7.5 pound (3.402 kilos) perch in my lake," he told the newspaper in an interview published on Sunday.
Man oh man, it's a sad thing when even the president himself can't think of something good he's done in office. Personally, I believe everything he touches turns to shit, but you'd think he'd have something to say here. But, no -- catching a fish is his best moment. Talk about the soft bigotry of low expectations.

(Thanks to Firedoglake for passing along the sadness.)

Update: Litbrit over at Shakespeare's Sister makes a good point. The high point of Bush's presidency took place in the lake at his Crawford ranch, a lake that is repeatedly stocked with fish so that the president can catch them in his own personal Special Olympics.

His proudest moment is winning a rigged contest. Hooray.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Caption Contest

You know what to do. Have at him.

Heckuva Job, Portey!

Well, it looks like yet another Bush appointee has worked the administration's patented Reverse Midas Touch Magic on yet another important federal agency:
Porter J. Goss was brought into the CIA to quell what the White House viewed as a partisan insurgency against the administration and to re-energize a spy service that failed to prevent the Sept. 11 attacks or accurately assess Iraq's weapons capability.

But as he walked out the glass doors of Langley headquarters yesterday, Goss left behind an agency that current and former intelligence officials say is weaker operationally, with a workforce demoralized by an exodus of senior officers and by uncertainty over its role in fighting terrorism and other intelligence priorities, said current and former intelligence officials. ....

"Now there's a decline in morale, its capability has not been optimized and there's a hemorrhaging of very good officers," Brennan said. "Turf battles continue" with other parts of the recently reorganized U.S. intelligence community "because there's a lack of clarity and he had no vision or strategy about the CIA's future." ....

Four former deputy directors of operations once tried to offer Goss advice about changing the clandestine service without setting off a rebellion, but Goss declined to speak to any of them, said former CIA officials who are aware of the communications. The perception that Goss was conducting a partisan witch hunt grew, too, as staffers asked about the party affiliation of officers who sent in cables or analyses on Iraq that contradicted the Defense Department's more optimistic scenarios.
Leaving aside the political purge he conducted and the brilliant job he did of crippling the agency's capabilities, there's also the interesting matter of why Porter Goss has suddenly decided to step down now. As Josh Marshall notes, this could be directly related to the growing Hookergate scandal. If so, stay tuned. This is going to get good.

Friday, May 05, 2006

The People are Revolting

Of all the imperial bluster put forth by this president, perhaps nothing is so offensive as his attitude that he is above the law in every way. This unconstitutional attitude has been expressed both crudely (e.g., the "No, I'm the decider!" tantrum) and boldly (e.g., the claim that the Afghanistan war resolution meant the president could spy on Americans without warrants). But it's also been expressed quite routinely as well, in the many "signing statements" that the president has used to override the will of Congress and to subvert the constitutional process. When Emperor Bush doesn't like a law, he simply casts it aside.

Stories about this practice has been bubbling up for some time now, but the Boston Globe recently showed just how widespread it really was. Better late than never, the New York Times editors have weighed in as well:
President Bush doesn't bother with vetoes; he simply declares his intention not to enforce anything he dislikes. Charlie Savage at The Globe reported recently that Mr. Bush had issued more than 750 "presidential signing statements" declaring he wouldn't do what the laws required. Perhaps the most infamous was the one in which he stated that he did not really feel bound by the Congressional ban on the torture of prisoners.

In this area, as in so many others, Mr. Bush has decided not to take the open, forthright constitutional path. He signed some of the laws in question with great fanfare, then quietly registered his intention to ignore them. He placed his imperial vision of the presidency over the will of America's elected lawmakers. And as usual, the Republican majority in Congress simply looked the other way. ....

The founding fathers never conceived of anything like a signing statement. The idea was cooked up by Edwin Meese III, when he was the attorney general for Ronald Reagan, to expand presidential powers. He was helped by a young lawyer who was a true believer in the unitary presidency, a euphemism for an autocratic executive branch that ignores Congress and the courts. Unhappily, that lawyer, Samuel Alito Jr., is now on the Supreme Court. ....

Like many of Mr. Bush's other imperial excesses, this one serves no legitimate purpose. Congress is run by a solid and iron-fisted Republican majority. And there is actually a system for the president to object to a law: he vetoes it, and Congress then has a chance to override the veto with a two-thirds majority.

That process was good enough for 42 other presidents. But it has the disadvantage of leaving the chief executive bound by his oath of office to abide by the result. This president seems determined not to play by any rules other than the ones of his own making. And that includes the Constitution.
Well, there you have it. The president has declared himself the supreme arbiter of American laws. Furthermore, with the craven complicity of congressional Republicans, he's managed to neuter Congress and stock the courts with judges who agree that the president is, in fact, king.

And the media, meanwhile, is just starting to wake itself up. The Globe and NYT have started to come to, but the more-important TV media is still out to lunch. I've had CNN on this morning, and I must've seen a dozen segments on Patrick Kennedy getting away with an apparent DWI and not a damn thing on the president. (Apparently, it's only bad form if you ruin a security barrier. The Constitution? Have at it, your majesty.)

As Tristero notes over at Hullabaloo, this country may have just one more chance to correct its course, before we officially become a banana republic.
The 2006 elections are crucial - even in its weakened state, can the Bush administration and the Republicans maintain their vice grip (literally) on the government? If they can, it will become exceedingly difficult - next to impossible - for this country to reverse its tracks and recover. Even if Republicans do lose a house of Congress, it remains to be seen whether Democrats have the will, and the skill, to lead this country back from the abyss. The politics of national opposition to Bushism are exceedingly complex, as Kevin Phillips' book points out (that's an optimistic reading of it).

But I'm getting ahead of myself. These upcoming elections, let's return to them. Krugman has made the point over and over that there are so many crimes the Republican leadership has committed that they have a tremendous incentive to do whatever it takes to remain in power, if for no other reason than to avoid long incarceration. It is going to a long, ugly, expensive, and potentially dangerous summer for the United States. But it cannot be avoided and all of you need to vote, to get involved with campaigns you feel you can support (even if they are not perfect), and to get your friends and neighbors to go to the polls to vote these bastards out.
I couldn't agree more. If the Democrats can retake just one house of Congress this fall, then we might -- might -- be able to put the brakes on our rush to become a country where the president rules unchecked, our economy is crippled and laden with debt, and our foreign policy consists of "pre-emptively" nuking anyone who looks at us funny.

Get registered to vote, get involved in a local campaign, and get out your checkbook and start sending cash to the candidates who deserve it. Think you can't spare the time or money? Well, how much would you give to wake up in early November and see nonstop news coverage about a Democratic surge? Headlines about the American people's rejection of the GOP and endless pundit pieces on how badly the Bush administration has been crippled?

Yeah. I'd pay a lot for that too. Get moving.

Friday Random Ten

Ladies and gentlemen of Earth, allow me to present the Spotnicks.

I'm a little fuzzy on the history of this band, but from their space-age outfits, I think they're the ones who did the original versions of such classic songs as "Space Oddity," "Nothing Ever Happens on Mars," and, of course, the soul-stirring "On the Spaceship Lollipop." Classic, classic stuff.

On this album, the Spotnicks have landed in London -- no, really! look at the photo! -- to spread their intergalactic rocking to the swingingest country on this here planet. Apparently, that bobby is giving them directions to the nearest assemblage of impressionable young Brits. Or telling them to bugger off. Hard to say.

Anyway, the arrival of the Spotnicks can only mean that it's once again time for the Friday Random Ten.

For those of you just joining us, here's how it's done, in three easy steps. First, take out whatever music storage device you use -- an iPod, an imitationPod, a 1958 Wurlitzer jukebox, the rhythm-blessed wino on your corner, whatever -- set it to random, and give us the first ten songs that come out. Second, if you'd like to kick it up a notch Elzar-style, rate the songs on a scale of one to ten, with one being the biggest bunch of sucks who ever sucked a suck and ten being a song so cool that it collapses upon itself to form a black hole of coolness that not even Barry White's voice could escape. Third, mock everyone else's music.

Alright, let's do this thing!

1. Speedy West and Jimmy Bryant, "Low Man on the Totem Pole" -- This pair formed the backbone of many a country hit during the '50s, with some pedal steel guitar work that would make a redneck cry. Not exactly cool, this is more along the lines of Grandpa Simpson's getaway music. 6/10

2. Iron & Wine, "Jesus the Mexican Boy" -- I tend to enjoy Sam Beam's narcoleptic folk, but this one is a little bit too sleepy-eyed. And besides, good Americans are now supposed to hate all things Mexican. 5/10

3. Roísín Murphy, "Through Time" -- While I enjoyed her work in the electronica duo Moloko and the visiting teaching job she did at the Handsome Boy Modeling School, this song off her debut solo album is fairly uninspired. Maybe they're going for faux-70s-schlock, but it just sounds like schlock to me. Feh. 3/10

4. Blackalicious, "Blazing Arrow" -- Finally, something presentable. This track, from the album of the same name, is just what you'd expect from the hiphop geniuses of Chief Xcel and Gift of Gab -- blistering fast rhymes, loopy beats, and odd catchy hooks. Nicely done. 9/10

5. Louis Jordan & His Tympany Five, "Teacher (How I Love My Teacher)" -- Ugh, I spoke too soon. Again, I normally love Louis Jordan, but this is pretty much a boring tribute to the Martin Princes of the world. This song makes me want to pound nerds until they crumble like a batch of his raisin roundies. 1/10

6. Radiohead, "Morning Bell" -- This is the more uptempo version, from Kid A. Certainly one of my favorites, with an incredibly catchy hook and the best lyrics ever written about a divorce. "Cut the kids in half"? Daaaaaamn. 10/10

7. De La Soul, "Keepin' the Faith (Fly and Funky Mix)" -- Listen, people: subtitles don't lie. This remix is both fly and funky. I think I still prefer the original, but given the crapapalooza I'm having today, I'll grab onto this like a lifevest. 7/10

8. U.N.K.L.E. with South, "Paranoid (UNKLE Variation)" -- A nice, driving instrumental from the outstanding Sexy Beast soundtrack. Since the song has no words, allow me to quote one of my favorite bits from Ben Kingsley's character: "Retired? Fuck off, you're revolting. Look at your suntan, it's leather, it's like leather man, your skin. We could make a fucking suitcase out of you. Like a crocodile, fat crocodile, fat bastard. You look like fucking Idi Amin, you know what I mean? Stay here? You should be ashamed of yourself. Who do you think you are? King of the castle? Cock of the walk? [punch] What you think this is the wheel of fortune? You think you can make your dough and fuck off? Leave the table? Thanks Don, see you Don, off to sunny Spain now Don, fuck off Don. Lying in your pool like a fat blob laughing at me, you think I'm gonna have that? You really think I'm gonna have that, ya ponce?" Man, I'd love to see Kingsley do that monologue as Gandhi. 8/10

9. Bobby Emmons, "Blue Organ" -- This song certainly features some phenomenal work on the Hammond organ, but it isn't even remotely blue. In fact, it's pretty fucking hot. Phenomenal. 10/10

10. Wolfmother, "Love Train" -- Once you've pulled the hard-rocking foot out of your ass, take a look at the website. These guys seem to have all the '70s charm of the Darkness, but with twice as much stolen from Ozzy Osbourne during his Sabbath heyday. Excellent stuff. 9/10

Well, that gives me another underwhelming score on the Coolness Scale, a mediocre 6.8 average. Boo!

Surely, you can do better than that. Drop your own FRT in the comments, with or without the Coolness Self Audit. It's the right thing to do, and a tasty way to do it.