Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Gordon Smith is a big flip-flopper, and everyone knows it

The news today is that Oregon senator Gordon "weathervane" Smith has decided to throw caution and political sensibilities to the wind and defend departing GOP senator Trent Lott's inane comments about Strom Thurmond. You remember that moment from a few year's back, when Lott said that had the rest of the country followed Mississippi's lead in voting for Thurmond for president in 1948, "we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years." (Those problems, presumably, having something to do with uppity members of certain races getting uppity and thinking they deserved certain rights under our Constitution.)

Today, however, Gordon Smith got up on the Senate floor and said the following about his good buddy Trent's racist comments:

"I watched over international news as his words were misconstrued, words which we had heard him utter many times in his big warm-heartedness trying to make one of our colleagues, Strom Thurmond, feel good at 100 years old. We knew what he meant. But the wolfpack of the press circled around him, sensed blood in the water, and the exigencies of politics caused a great injustice..."
The only problem here is that Gordo's got himself a teeny tiny memory, forgetting that his initial response back in 2002 was not so generous:
"However they were intended, Senator Lott's words were offensive and I was deeply dismayed to hear of them," Smith said in a brief statement. "His statement goes against everything I and the people of Oregon believe in."
Oh yeah, and then three days later, when Lott stepped down as majority leader, Smith said he was glad that he had resigned. Sigh. It's become quite the pattern for Smith. Say one thing one day, get a bucket of praise from The Oregonian and other naiive media outlets, and then turn around and say/do the opposite. Let's see if someone in the local media actually has the guts to call him on it this time.

Friday, December 14, 2007

In bold strategy, Clemens attempts to distract attention from steroid report with new absurd hairstyle

It's a risky gambit, but if anyone has the chops to distract the public from an incrimination steroid report by featuring an absurd yes-I'm-a-45-year-old-man-with-a-receeding-hairline-but-I-can-
still-get-frosted-tips hairstyle, it's Roger Clemens.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Reaction to the Mitchell Report

This is the room of people who were surprised to hear that Roger Clemens has been taking buttloads of steroids.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Stupid online polls, KGW (Portland, OR) edition

There's been some unsettling talk in recent days that Oregon might be heading for something of a recession--leading economic indicators (payrolls, etc.) are down, and a group of economists from the University of Oregon apparently think there is a substantial risk to the state's economy. So, naturally, into the breach storms one of my least favorite dispensers of the local news, KGW.com, who asks its viewers to answer this highly relevant poll question:


Now, here's what I don't get: why the specificity? Why the "yes, my job would probably be at risk"? Isn't it possible to be worried about the economy even if one's job isn't at risk? I mean, I *think* my job could probably survive a not-too-nasty recession, but I still don't really relish the thought of having one. That is to say, my job would survive, but other things--the jobs of my friends, restaurants in my neighborhoods, the budget for local schools--could take a substantial hit. Why not simply write "yes, I'm concerned about the impact of a recession"?

Actually, the reason is pretty simple: the "no" answer--"I feel secure"--is much more general, and it could very well be that they wrote the poll in such a way as to generate a happy news story--more people are optimistic than pessimistic. The current results have the "no's" in the lead by about 10 points, so I could be on to something.

The disturbing implication, of course, is that they understand that people are unable to think about national politics in a way that does not intimately involve them. According to this view, the only reason you'd be concerned about a recession is if your job was threatened.

Or, it could be that I'm simply overanalyzing something that an intern wrote in about two minutes. ¡Viva blogging!

Japanese baseball player to provide millions of American teenagers* with stupid joke for the next decade

Sports Illustrated reports today that a famous Japanese baseball player plans to follow the lead of guys like Ichiro and Matsui and play ball in the United States. Where Ichiro and Matsui lack that "ha ha, you have a funny name!11!!!!" quality, however, this guy has it in spades:

NAGOYA, Japan (AP) -- Japanese outfielder Kosuke Fukudome told the Chunichi Dragons he will not return next season, saying he wants to make a move to the major leagues.
Fukudome? Oh, good lord.

*"teenager," it should be noted, is a category that also includes every Sportscenter anchor.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Idiot of the Week: Mike Huckabee Edition

It's easy to pick on poor Mike Huckabee: sure, he used to be fat and still walks like a fat guy, and he thinks he's pretty nifty for having a toupee'd fool like Chuck Norris as his biggest celebrity endorsement, and he's got one of the most redneck last names in American political history. However, just when you feel like maybe the guy's a little bit more than a wisecracking redneck southern governor with zero foreign policy experience and a domestic policy team made up of three high school interns and his illegal-weapon packing son, he goes and says something stupid. Witness this luncacy:

Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee refused to retract a statement he made in 1992 calling for the isolation of AIDS patients.

Responding to an Associated Press questionnaire, Huckabee said steps should be taken to "isolate the carriers of this plague" during his failed run for a U.S. Senate seat from Arkansas 15 years ago.

He said he probably would not make the same statement today because of what is known about how HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is transmitted.

"I had simply made the point -- and I still believe this today -- that in the late '80s and early '90s, when we didn't know as much as we do now about AIDS, we were acting more out of political correctness than we were about the normal public health protocols that we would have acted," Huckabee told Fox News on Sunday.
First of all, OF COURSE he said this to Fox News. Second of all, he acts as though the only rational course of action in the 1980s was to segregate people with AIDS. I remember way back when (certainly earlier than 1992, when Huckabee said this) that people were saying that you could not get AIDS from casual, incidental contact with someone who had AIDS. His comment may not have been radical in 1983, but by 1992 there was substantial evidence to the contrary.

What this shows, of course, is that the George W. Bush-inspired Republican Party has inherited its master's inability/refusal to admit a mistake. What Huckabee should say in this instance is: "Look, I made a mistake--I was wrong, and I admit it." Instead, he chooses the coward's way out, and tries to blame his ultra-conservative (and mistaken) views on the prevailing public sentiment at the time.

Finally, this shows the danger in ignoring science, as the Republican party tries to do time and time again. Whether it is the Bush administration ignoring science on global warming, or conservative Christians ignoring science on AIDS (to say nothing about the failure of "abstinence-only education," Huckabee's absurd comments show what can happen when you ignore the actual research on an issue in favor of pandering to the worst elements in the voting public.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Really? Socks?

Sigh. You know you're getting older when you actually contemplate ASKING FOR socks for Christmas rather than running from the room in horror upon unwrapping a package of them. Yikes. What has happened to me? Whatever happened to that kid who was so thrilled to get Laser Tag and assorted wacky toys of the 80s? He grew up, I guess, and became a lame sock lover.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

KGW news produces least helpful story in internet history

Ok, a questions: if you were issuing a news story talking about the release of a sketch of a guy who is alleged to have attacked a local college student, what is the ONE piece of information you'd want to include with the story? Exactly--a copy of the sketch. One additional question: take a guess at what single piece of information was NOT included in KGW.com's story about the attacker? Exactly--a copy of the sketch. Sheesh.

I know the whole gradually-moving-stories-to-the-internet thing is tricky and complicated, but is it too much to ask local news stations to provide graphics in stories like this one? KGW is notoriously bad in this respect (KATU has the sketch, for example); I think they must have some sort of automated system that just puts copy on the website without bothering to ensure that all the relevant information is included.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Barack Obama the latest to recognize India's growing power

This video doesn't approach the navel-gazing intensity of a Mike Gravel campaign spot, but it does illustrate the crossover potential of Barack Obama going Bollywood. Set to a stirring techno beat and featuring multi-colored elephants, cleverly edited footage of Obama speaking Hindi, and clips of the big man himself getting funky, this is sure to lock up the crucial Indian-American vote that is so important in early primary states like Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

This is why Australia is much, much cooler than the U.S.

We here at Pregnant Cornbread would like to offer our congratulations to the new environment minister for the Australian government, Peter Garrett, lead singer of seminal 80s rock band Midnight Oil. Seriously, how cool is that? We've got crap celebrities in politics, and the Aussies have got freaking Peter Garrett.

On a personal note, this is really thrilling news: I practically worshipped Midnight Oil when I was younger man, and they were in fact the first rock concert I attended (if you don't count the "Mama's and the Papa's" reunion show I saw at the San Diego Wild Animal Park when I was 6). When I was in high school I wrote a fan letter to the band, and their manager wrote me back a TWO PAGE letter, responding to points in my letter, talking about the group, etc. Crazy. So, anyway, this is just completely nifty news, and my hat is off to Peter Garrett, member of Parliament since 2004, and now minister for the environment.

Cool.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Breaking News: Mitt Romney would not appoint a Mormon to the Cabinet if elected President

It's news of a somewhat unsurprising variety that Willard "Mitt" Romney, former Governor of Taxachusetts and a guy who appointed a judge who subsequently released a prisoner who subsequently murdered some people (what, seriously, is this like a requirement of governors of Massachusetts?), has come out and apparently admitted that he would not appoint a Muslim to the cabinet if he was elected President. Now, as usual, Mitt ducks the real reason for this ("I'm a Republican, what do you think?" would be the correct answer) and instead comes up with the laughably sloppy explanation “based on the numbers of American Muslims [as a percentage] in our population.”

So, Mitt is on record as believing that a group's members should only be allowed to hold a cabinet-level position if they amount to a given percentage of the US population?

Interestingly enough, there are apparently between 6 and 7 million Muslims in the United States. (Admittedly, this is a difficult number to quantify.) According to Mitt Romney, this is not a sufficient percentage to give someone any authority within the executive branch. By the same token, however, there are 5.5 million Mormons in the United States.

Thus, by his own words, we can conclude that Mitt Romney would not appoint a Mormon to the cabinet. Sheesh, what a bigot.

Oprah's favorite fridge: Are you kidding me with this stuff?

Let's see: in America, we've got a problem with obesity. People eat too much food, watch too much TV, and get too little exercise. With that in mind, the geniuses at the LG Corporation have come up with the item guaranteed to get people off their couches, and into the...kitchen. Yes, you got it--it's a fridge with a built-in TV/DVD! Yay! Honestly, I don't even know what to say about this. Have we truly fallen this far as a culture (note: anytime anyone begins a sentence like that, the answer is always going to be "yes") that we have to literally have a TV in front of us at all times? Are we incapable of thinking for ourselves during that crucial 2 minute segment of our day when we get up from the TV during a commercial to go into the kitchen to get something out of the fridge?

Even more depressing is that National Arbiter of Good Taste and Sensibility Oprah Winfrey has named this fridge one of her "Favorite Things" for 2007, so it's guaranteed to get a big boost in sales for the holiday season. At a mere $3,800, why not buy two? You could even put one in your living room, so that your couch-to-fridge time is lessened. If you can put it a few steps from the couch, it might even be possible to NEVER be away from the TV. At such bargain basement prices, you could also locate one in your bedroom. With the superb picture of the built-in DVD, late-night snacks have never been so entertaining!



America: Worst. Superpower. Ever.

My least favorite bit of journalistic laziness

I have a sense that the technology of the day gives rise to certain instances of public laziness, and I cannot help but feel as though I have a sacred duty to correct this. Or, more accurately, to write things describing how much hatred I feel in my heart for their usage. When I was growing up in the 1980s, it was routine for people--usually my peers, at occasions like high school graduations--to begin their speeches with the cliched saying, "Webster's defines ______ as..." That ______ was usually something like "success" or "graduation" or whatever. It was annoying, trite, and everything else.

However, now that we've entered a day and age in which we can comfortably leave things like dictionaries and encyclopedias behind on the dust-covered bookshelves of bygone era, we have to confront glaring new instances of cliches working themselves like boring beetles into the prose of journalists.

My least favorite example of this is when writers cite the number of Google hits a give phrase returns as an example of the cache that term holds in the public consciousness. Even though I usually enjoy his writing, Slate.com's Tim Noah is today's exemplar of this annoying tendency. In an article on the credulity of CNN's Larrry King, he writes,

Then again, this is the same Larry King who regularly plays host on Larry King Live to psychics, mediums, and UFO enthusiasts; who peppered his former USA Today column with insights like "The revamped Beverly Hills Hotel is just beautiful" and "Aren't those Save the Children ties the prettiest around?"; and who, when his name is paired on Google with the word credulous, yields 73,800 hits.
Ok, a few things. First of all, that's factually wrong. I googled "Larry King credulous," and came back with 10,700 hits.

Second of all--and, yes, I know I'm taking what is essentially a throw away comment by Noah and writing way too much about it...but isn't that the entire point of blogging?--that's not how Google searches work. All searching for a combination of words does (unless you put the entire phrase in quotation marks, which is not what Noah did) is find any page on which all those words occurs. If I write something like the following sentence, "Larry King's show on CNN is one of the best I've ever seen, and nobody, from my lovely wife to my credulous, moronic neighbor, believes otherwise," it will show up (perhaps as soon as this afternoon) in a Google search for "Larry King credulous."

Here's an example of how much utility you can really get from using Google as a sounding board for the cultural zeitgeist. If I google my name and the phrase "dating Mandy Moore," I wind up with 69,300 hits. ("Dating Beyoncé Knowles" yields only 16,300 hits--sorry, Beyoncé!) Holy cow! If I google my name and the phrase "impregnated Salma Hayek," I get 10,800 hits. Yow! If I google my name and "hit 714 home runs," I get over 250,000 hits. And, since I clearly am not dating Mandy Moore, have not impregnated Salma Hayek, and am not Babe Ruth, there are clearly limits to this business of calculating our culture's fevered intensity for information (although clearly many people are interested in the identity of people who have impregnated Salma Hayek) by arriving at the number of Google hits for whatever particular phrase floats your boat.

Next up, a fascinating rant in which I express my disgust for people who write/say "jive" when they mean "jibe." Fun!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Fred Thompson is stealing his act from Bartles & Jaymes

Big time Hollywood Fred Thompson, former Laziest Senator of All Time (R-TN) and current candidate for president from the Party-That-Hates-Actors-Until-They-Run-As-Republicans party, has released a new down-home, folksy advertisement for the tee vee in which he aw shucks his way into the hearts of anti-immigrant voters across the country. Or New Hampshire, whatever. Watching it, though, I couldn't help but be reminded of some other folksy, down home characters from the TV who wanted to do nothing more than offer up some refreshment: the pitchmen from those classic Bartles & Jaymes winecooler ads in the 80s. So, for the benefit of humanity, here's Fred's ad, followed by the dearly departed Bartles & Jaymes guys.





It's exactly the same! The same speech patterns, the same mannerisms, even the same "thanks for your support" ending, more or less. The only difference, of course, is that one commercial is attempting to sell us a shoddily produced, sickly sweet product that only appeals to the young and ignorant, and the other is advertising a wine cooler.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Turnabout is fair play, aka, A-Rod gets his

Is there any justice more poetic than Alex Rodriguez, who acted like a total jerk by upstaging the final game of the World Series to announce he was bolting from his contract with the Yankees, getting knocked off the top of the sports pages on the day he announces his new contract with the Yankees by the story of Barry Bonds' indictment?

Will George W. Bush commute Barry Bonds' sentence if he's found guilty?

Yesterday, the guy with the biggest head this side of Tim Russert, Barry Bonds, was indicted by a federal grand jury of five counts of perjury and obstruction of justice, coincidentally, the same charges faced by Dick Cheney's erstwhile chief of staff, Scooter Libby. However, after Libby's conviction, Bush commuted his sentence. Here's how CNN described it at the time

President Bush on Monday spared I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby from prison, commuting the former White House aide's 30-month prison term.

A conviction remains on Scooter Libby's record, and he must still pay a $250,000 fine.

The prison time was imposed after a federal court convicted Libby of perjury, obstruction of justice and lying to investigators in the probe of the leak of the name of a CIA operative.

...

In a written statement commuting the prison sentence, issued hours after Monday's ruling, Bush called the sentence "excessive," and suggested that Libby will pay a big enough price for his conviction.
Ok, fair enough. Libby was found guilty on four counts, and was sentenced to a 30 month prison term. So that sets the bar at what Bush considers to be unfair and excessive for perjury and obstruction of justice.

Now let's turn our attention to Barry Bonds. Here's how Michael McCann of Sports Illustrated describes the charges against Bonds.
However a conviction would be described, Bonds would face up to 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each of three perjury charges, and 10 years and a $250,000 fine for an obstruction of justice charge. He would be facing serious time.
Ok, so we've got Libby sentenced to 30 months for perjury and obstruction of justice, and Bonds facing a potential 35 years in prison for the same charges. Leaving aside for the moment the greater question of whether a guy who took steroids should get a longer prison sentence than a guy who conspired to leak the identity of a covert CIA operative and then cover it up, I think it's a fair question: if Bonds is found guilty and sentenced to more than 30 months in prison, would George Bush support commuting his sentence?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Out of touch liberal president increases federal regulations and ignores flyover country

Oh, excuse me. That's what the headline would be if a Democratic president had proposed the REGULATIONS that President Bush proposed this morning in an effort to improve congestion at our nation's airports. Take it away, ABC News:

Hoping to alleviate a chaotic holiday travel season, the White House announced Thursday that the military would open air space for commercial airlines over the five day holiday period.

"The U.S. military is going to make more air space available for civilian airliners this holiday season by opening up a Thanksgiving express lane," said White House spokeswoman Dana Perino.

Additionally, Perino said compensation to passengers bumped from overbooked flights would double the previous compensation, currently $400 or $800, depending on the extent of the inconvenience.
Well, let's talk about this "Thanksgiving express lane!" I live in Portland, OR, and love the idea of improved air space between me and my wife's family in San Diego, or between me and my brother in New York. Certainly these regulations extend to those of us out West, right, Mr. President?!?
These openings concern mainly the East Coast Navy airspace off the Virginia Capes and Jacksonville, Fla., and will occur only during Thanksgiving weekend, from Wednesday, Nov. 21 to the morning of Monday, Nov. 26.
Oh. Of course, if it was a Democrat proposing this, you can bet that he or she would be excoriated for ignoring the needs and wishes of the good folks in "flyover" country, and would be heavily criticized for focusing only on the East Coast (pssst: where all the liberals live).

But since it is a Republican president, the article does not mention that these policies are new REGULATIONS (a word the President himself used in his talk this morning), instead labeling the policies as "assistance" (which they no doubt are, which is kind of the whole point about regulations) for travelers.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

FEMA "rap for kids" really goes off the rails

Hey, kids--you know what's hip? RAP MUSIC! That's right! It's the thing that those crazy, wacky teenagers are doing, what with the crazy pants and the big boomboxes and the hipping and the hopping. And do you know what else is really cool? Rapping about public policy! Thankfully, the "hep cats" down at the Federal Emergency Management Authority, aka FEMA, aka FEMA 2000, aka Femaster Jay, aka Lucious Lightfoot FEMAboobimo, have put out a pretty dope rap to explain to the kids just what it is that makes managing emergencies such a gas. Check out these "phat" lyrics:

Disaster . . . it can happen anywhere,
But we've got a few tips, so you can be prepared
For floods, tornadoes, or even a 'quake,
You've got to be ready - so your heart don't break.
Disaster prep is your responsibility
And mitigation is important to our agency.


Wait, wha? Miti-what? Is it me, or does that last line veer from "lame, trite rhymes about emergencies" to "weird wonky stuff that nobody really cares about?" And, man, it goes off the rails FAST. I can almost picture the board meeting, wherein some "square" upper management guy was like "ahem, well, the rap music my kids listen to talks only about "hos" and "bitches" and "getting in some buster's grill." Shouldn't we have something in here about our important work with mitigation, especially as it relates to certain public-private ventures we have established with various community stakeholders?"

Finally, here's the "wack" graphics they use for the page. Far out, daddy-o! Because nothing--and I mean nothing--says "cool" as much as putting a "z" at the end of a word that normally has an "s" at the end of it. That's crazy!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Hey, Latvia--SUCK IT!!!!

That's right, bitches. So this big impressive healthcare study came out, comparing how various countries are doing at making sure that babies born don't go on to die soon thereafter, and guess what? We smoked your asses! That's right! Boo ya! Y'all thought you were sick stuff, but you just got thrown down by the good old US of A. LOL, Loserz!!! That'll teach you suckers--next time you try to roll, keep it down in your own league. Yeah, you heard me--stick to Lithuania and Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan and some of the other 'stans. Ummm hmmm. Tell Prime Minister Aigars Kalvitis to quit trying to run with the big dogs like George W! Maybe he should try to compete with someone like First Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Semashko of Belarus--that's more his style.

Wait, what's that? You don't believe me? Ok, fine, check this for yourself, fools. Here's the list right here.

Group A
- Japan 1.8 deaths per 1,000 live births
Group B
- Czech Rep 2 deaths per 1,000 live births
- Finland 2 deaths per 1,000 live births
- Iceland 2 deaths per 1,000 live births
- Norway 2 deaths per 1,000 live births
Group C
- Austria 3 deaths per 1,000 live births
- France 3 deaths per 1,000 live births
- Germany 3 deaths per 1,000 live births
- Israel 3 deaths per 1,000 live births
- Italy 3 deaths per 1,000 live births
- Luxembourg 3 deaths per 1,000 live births
- Portugal 3 deaths per 1,000 live births
- Slovenia 3 deaths per 1,000 live births
- Spain 3 deaths per 1,000 live births
Group D
- Australia 4 deaths per 1,000 live births
- Belgium 4 deaths per 1,000 live births
- Canada 4 deaths per 1,000 live births
- Denmark 4 deaths per 1,000 live births
- Estonia 4 deaths per 1,000 live births
- Greece 4 deaths per 1,000 live births
- Ireland 4 deaths per 1,000 live births
- Lithuania 4 deaths per 1,000 live births
- Netherlands 4 deaths per 1,000 live births
- New Zealand 4 deaths per 1,000 live births
- Switzerland 4 deaths per 1,000 live births
- United Kingdom 4 deaths per 1,000 live births
Group E
- Hungary 5 deaths per 1,000 live births
- Malta 5 deaths per 1,000 live births
- Poland 5 deaths per 1,000 live births
- Slovakia 5 deaths per 1,000 live births
- USA - 5 deaths per 1,000 live births
Group F
- Latvia 6 deaths per 1,000 live births


Yeah, that's right. Check the scoreboard, baby. You got schooled. You even got your own Group--Group F, for Failure. Meanwhile we're rolling up in Group E, for Exceptional. That's right. Us, Hungary, Malta, Poland (don't forget about them), and Slofreakinvakia. Game on.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Britney's brilliant lawyer tactic #547: Piss off the guy hearing your case

I won't bore you with the trials and tribulations of Ms. Britney Spears nee Alexander nee Federline, but the latest story about how she's allegedly "ducking drug tests" has one of the most brilliant legal tactics I've ever encountered. The basic idea of the story is this: Britney was ordered by the court to submit to random drug tests. She has been called 14 times, and had only gone to the lab to take the test 8 of those times. Federline's lawyer sees much skullduggery here, whereas Britney's lawyer says that the girl just missed the calls because she was asleep or in the midst of a Cheetoh-induced stupor. But here's where the story gets kind of awesome:

Spears has been called to the laboratory 14 times, but has failed to respond to eight of those calls, Federline attorney Mark Vincent Kaplan told Superior Court Commissioner Scott Gordon Thursday morning.
...
Spears lawyer Anne Kiley argued the previous court order was unconstitutional and Spears didn't respond to the lab phone calls within an hour, as ordered by the court, because she was sleeping. Kiley asked that Spears be given six hours to respond to the laboratory phone requests.
...
Gordon said time wasn't the problem, noting Spears has lost telephone numbers and changed her telephone numbers. The commissioner then noted he has to wake up at 7:30 a.m. each morning.

Kiley interrupted: "You're not a pop star with a No. 1 album."

Oh, snap! OH NO SHE DI'INT!!!! Seriously, is this a smart tactic? I didn't go to law school, so I'm not familiar with the ins and outs and assorted intricacies of our legal system, but is it really a clever move to (a) interrupt the judge (or "court commissioner," whatever) and point out the fact that he's not a pop star with a Number 1 album? (And, technically, neither is Britney.)

It must be said, however, that this "with all due respect, sir, you're not a..." tactic is one that will not work for Federline's lawyer, unless the "seriously, though, Mr. Court Commissioner, you're not an unemployed, highly fertile, and frequently stoned backup dancer" move seems like a good one.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

"So, Dave, why don't you allow comments on your blog?"

Ok, this is a fairly common question, one that shows up in my email with some degree of regularity. And, for the most part, my answer is something like "well, if I did that, then the ___% of my day that I devote to blogging (some reading, some writing) would increase by a factor of 5 as I spent volumes of time sitting around responding to various comments about something I've said."

I'd have to answer charges from crazy Mitt Romney supporters (is there any other kind?) that I've insulted the Moroni Man himself; I'd have to respond to 9udy 11uliani fans that he's actually more than 9/11 and MARRYING HIS COUSIN AND STAYING MARRIED TO HER FOR 14 YEARS EVEN THOUGH THEY'RE COUSINS AND ISN'T THAT FREAKY; and I'd have to answer to the occasional Angelina Jolie or Tom Brady fan who wandered in here from God knows where and is now hot and bothered over me calling their chosen idol a selfish piece of narcissistic idiocy.

But, thanks to a recent post I did on swingers in Portland, I have a whole new reason. A few weeks back I did a short--and at the time I thought unimportant--post about the name change of a local skeezoid swing joint, one I drive past every day on the way to work. The name of the place is now "Angel's Sensuous Social Club," a name that I think--as I pointed out in my post--is pretty nasty. "Sensuous," for starters, is near the top of the "if you hear a guy use the word ______, run away" list that I will give to my daughter when she turns 16. But here's the thing--I have been deluged (not literally, figuratively) by people coming to this blog looking for the name of that swing club. There have been hundreds of them. From everywhere. Russia, India, Iran (yep), Gresham, Poulsbo, Manitoba, Dusseldorf, Vancouver (WA and BC), and points between. You name it, they want to know about the happenings at this swing club.

But--and I can't stress this enough--I have NO idea what goes on in there. I don't want to know. I won't listen if someone wants to tell me. So I fear that if I had comments up, the comments for that particular post would be full of nasty swingers talking to other nasty swingers about the nasty things they like to do whilst swinging. (It's not that I'm necessarily opposed to nasty things, just that...well, I've seen a few swingers in my day. Ugh. Say no more.)

So, short answer to the above question is: because I don't want my blog to be full of the comments of swingers telling each other which robes and lotions they'll be wearing to their next "party," and where their van conversion got that sweet shag carpeting, and god knows what else. So, no comments for the foreseeable future.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

FBI catches wind of devious "Falafel bomb" plot

ABC New's "The Blogger" website clues us into some genius maneuvers at the FBI for profiling terrorists: they're checking out the sale of falafel in California so that they can, uh, well, somehow or another, detect the presence of Iranian terrorists.

Hoping to catch Iranian terrorists in the United States, the FBI analyzed California grocery sales records to find patterns in the sales of Middle Eastern items, according to Congressional Quarterly's Jeff Stein.

The veteran national security writer reported that in 2005 and 2006, FBI agents "sifted through customer data collected by San Francisco-area grocery stores," with the idea that "a spike in, say, falafel sales, combined with other data, would lead to Iranian secret agents."
It's hard to know what to even say about this. I only hope that they aren't clued in to a second terrorist front, one far, far more sinister than the Iranians. And, the FBI will be devastated to hear that thanks to unusual dining habits, this group will be far more difficult to track. We know very little about them, but here's a photo of their reputed top agent.

Birth of a false meme: Hillary Clinton and driver's licenses

Much has been raised about Tim Russert's absurdly stupid "moderating" of the Democratic debate on October 30. Russert's standard tactic is to ask somebody a question and then, as if he was the Great Creskin himself, reveal that--gasp!--they said something slightly different about that subject 10 years ago! OMG!! His only interest is in the "gotcha" question, and it rapidly grows tiring, particularly when we have 10 debates before the first primary. But, as mentioned, his main focus in the past debate was to get Hillary Clinton to stumble over her words on a variety of issues--Social Security, the Charles Rangel tax plan, and of course New York Governor Eliot Spitzer's thoughts about extending driver's licenses to illegal immigrants. Here's exactly what Russert asked Hillary Clinton:

Senator Clinton, Governor of New York Eliot Spitzer has proposed giving driver's licenses to illegal immigrants. He told the Nashua, New Hampshire, Editorial Board it makes a lot of sense. Why does it make a lot of sense to give an illegal immigrant a driver's license?
Note the actual question: "Why does it make a lot of sense to give an illegal immigrant a driver's license?" He was asking her to explain Governor Spitzer's thinking, and she did that. However, that is--no surprise--not how the national press is reporting on the debate. CNN's "Political Tracker," for example, reports the following:
At the end of a televised Democratic presidential debate last week, Hillary Rodham Clinton hedged on whether she supported a plan by her home state governor, New York's Eliot Spitzer, to issue licenses to illegal immigrants.
Of course, she was not actually asked "whether she supported" the plan, she was just asked for reasons why it might make sense.

My suggestion is this: continue to watch the news on this issue. Whether or not you support Hillary Clinton, you will notice that virtually every media outlet will claim that she was asked if she support Spitzer's plan. She was not--go back and read Russert's question. He asked why it would make sense to issue licenses to illegal immigrants. Now, as a friend of mine pointed out, Hillary's only fault here was not realizing the game that Russert was playing: he asked her why the plan made sense, but when he was actually asking was "do you support the plan?" The rest of the media was in on his game, but unfortunately, Clinton was not.

For reference, here are only a few of the many media sources who have already started reporting that Hillary was asked "if she supported" Spitzer's plan:

Opinion Journal
"Sen. Hillary Clinton was asked during a debate this week if she supported New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer's plan to give driver's licenses to illegal immigrants."

New York Daily News
"Both polls were done while Clinton was getting hammered over her less-than-clear answers in last week's Democratic debate, including on whether she supports Gov. Spitzer's driver's license plan and what she'd do to shore up Social Security."

Monday, November 5, 2007

Conservative Idiot of the Day: Rich Lowry of the National Review

The race for "biggest idiot in the conservative blogosphere" is something akin to the race between the Miami Dolphins and the New York Jets to see who can lose the most games this year: it's a race, but not something you want to see. There are so many worthy candidates for the honor that it becomes a chore to say all the names, much less go to the effort of actually visiting their blogs to witness the horror firsthand. Nevertheless, a special favorite of mine is National Review's "The Corner," which is home to a rotating cast of luminaries like Kathryn Jean "K-Lo" Lopez, Jonah Goldberg, John "J-Pod" Podhoretz, Byron "Superhair" York, and John "Crazy Racist Englishman who only talks about English things and how he's a racist" Derbyshire. In our race to find the thickest of these particular fools, however, we can't overlook the sheer genius of Rich Lowry, whose offering today shows that no matter how hard he tries, he just can't. quite. understand. the nuances of international policy. Everything, and I mean everything has to be shoehorned into his "it's teh evil Islam!!!!11!!!1!!" view of things. Witness his ramblings on Pervez Musharraf's dictatorial outrages in Pakistan:

The Pakistan situation is another sign that what we face is a global insurgency with many different fronts from Karachi to London. I'm not a big fan of the "world war" terminology because that cues people to think in terms of conventional powers arrayed against one another in a hot or cold war (although such conflicts obviously can have guerrilla wars within them). What we have now is pretty much entirely guerilla wars. Musharraf is fighting one that is probably going to get worse before it gets better.
Well, ok, that's complete rubbish. I know it's tempting to take Musharraf's word for it, and believe that his blatant seizure of power is something he's doing to strike back at those evil Al Qaeda guys (the same ones his own intelligence service, the ISI, has been rather blatant about helping). However, do take his word for it overlooks one key facts: everyone he's arrested since his imposition of martial law this weekend has been either a judge, a reporter, a lawyer, or some member of his political opposition.

I know it's tempting to view everything through the Rumsfeldian lens of "OMG we're surrounded by teh terror!" but in this case you run the risk of looking like an idiot, as Lowry does, when you confuse a petty dictatorial power grab for an earnest effort to combat terrorism.

The painful realization that you are growing old...

I realized something this morning, and it goes like this: you don't realize that you've spent the past year or so going to be bed at around 10 pm every night until your younger brother comes to town and you go to bars and do NOT go to bed until 2.30 am. Yow. Used to be I could bounce back from that in a day or so, but now...not so much. What the hell, age.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Classic Springsteen clip for a lazy Friday

Today's a relatively quiet day in Portland, so rather than bore readers with the minutiae of my personal life (I got a new wall in my bedroom! Yay!), I figured I'd post this classic clip of Bruce Springsteen surprising a bunch of passers-by in Copenhagen with a spontaneous performance of "The River." Bruce is my favorite singer ever, and "The River" is my favorite song of his, so it's a natural choice. Apparently the story here is that the guy in the yellow who's playing along with Bruce is a street performer in Copenhagen who plays Springsteen songs. Bruce, in town for a concert, saw him, and decided to join in for a duet. The dude manages to get some pretty good harmonies in on the chorus, so good on him.

Honestly, can you beat lyrics like

"But I remember us riding in her brother's car,
Her body tan and wet down at the reservoir,
At night on those banks I'd lie awake
And pull her close just to feel each breath she'd take.
Now those memories come back to haunt me,
They haunt me like a curse
Is a dream a lie if it don't come true?
Or is it something worse..."

Answer: no, you cannot. The man is a genius.

(Also, note, the audio at first is full of excited Danes saying things in Danish, but rapidly improves as they chill out.)

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Forgive my pessimism about the Iraqi army...

This video depicts actual signees in the new Iraqi army, presumably paid and trained with our tax dollars. Holy hell. None of these guys show particularly good form, but the "spasm guy" in the middle and "slow motion guy" on the right are particularly hilarious (or sad, depending on how you're looking at it). Good god.

Weird couple of the year alert

Ok, I thought nothing could top the recent news that Shia LaBeouf was dating Rihanna, but today comes word that Lance Armstrong is dating Ashley Olsen. As in, of the Olsen Twins. What? Seriously, Lance? Really? An Olsen Twin? For real? Weird.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

In other news, CNN.com readers are total idiots

There's really no plausible explanation for the following poll results other than the fact that 2/3 of the people who read CNN's website are absolute morons who find "Bill Clinton, man, does that guy love sex!" jokes to be the very height of sophistication.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Here's the thing about Rudy Giuliani

I'm always somewhat amazed when I heard people speaking about Rudy Giuliani in reverential tones. He was a fairly ineffective mayor of New York City, and the voters really hated the guy before some cave dwelling wackjobs decided to fly a couple planes in to the World Trade Center. Then, because he had the presence of mind to not run around the country like a scared four year old, he was somehow credited with demonstrating incredible leadership. (Not so incredible: his decision to locate the city's emergency command post in the World Trade Center, which had been attacked 8 years prior, and which was a no-brainer as the most likely terror target in the city.) He appointed a mobbed-up crony to be Police Commissioner, then tried to get the same guy appointed as head of DHS. He also had numerous affairs, told a press conference he was leaving his wife before he told her, and generally made such an ass of himself that he had to drop out of the campaign for the Senate so that his ego wouldn't have to withstand a 30 point loss to Hillary Clinton.

All that being said, however, here's the thing that amazes me about Rudy, and which, for some reason, nobody wants to talk about: HE WAS MARRIED TO HIS COUSIN. YEAH, HIS COUSIN. FOR 14 YEARS!!!! Isn't that insane? Yes, it is completely insane. The guy was married to his damn cousin. Why is this not an immediate disqualifier? Why isn't this the ONLY issue his opponents run on? Can't you see the ads? "Yeah, my opponent may be a tough mayor and a worthy adversary, but did you know HE WAS MARRIED TO HIS COUSIN FOR 14 YEARS?" Seriously, if I was Mitt Romney, that's the only issue I'd talk about for the next 6 months.


This is Rudy Giuliani in drag. It is NOT a picture of his cousin,
to whom, incidentally, he was married. For 14 years.

Like I need ANOTHER reason to hate the Patriots?

My hatred for the New England Patriots is well known. Not only does their quarterback impregnate random actresses and then take up immediately thereafter with famous supermodels, not only does their head coach make a habit of stealing other people's wives (see below) and stealing signals from opposing teams, and not only did one of their linebackers once fail to acknowledge me when I said "hey" to him at a shopping mall in San Diego, but they now see fit to run up the score on the Washington Redskins, 52-7. What a bunch of classless punks. Unfortunately, they seem to actually be one of the toughest teams in recent memory, so we might be cursed with a season's worth of "Tom Brady is the best quarterback who has ever lived, and Belichick is smarter than Jesus" columns from Peter King over at CNNSI. Sigh.


Class, Patriot style

Thursday, October 25, 2007

OMG Dumbledore caught teh ghey!!1!!11!!

First of all, sorry for the extreme lack of blog-posting lately. Your humble blogger was at a scintillating conference in which he learned how to get lots of money from the federal government (ha!), and subsequently got engrossed in fascinating details at his place of employment. Consequently, blogging has been kept to a minimum, even though there have been a number of important stories in the national news. What? No, not the San Diego fires. I'm talking about Kid Rock getting arrested in a brawl at a Waffle House, or Britney Spears' new addiction to something she calls "purple drank," which is "a mixture of Diet Sprite, prescription-strength cough syrup with coedine, and painkillers"--yum! Really, it's like Kid Rock and Britney are trying to have a contest to see who can out-trash the other.

However, the most annoying story of the past week has to be the big revelation that Albus Dumbledore, beloved headmaster in the Harry Potter series, is/was gay. Gasp! As an acknowledged Harry Potter fan, I've gotten lots of emails about this, and, really, my reaction is "meh." Here's the thing: beginning with the fourth book of the series, JK Rowling went CRAZY with the length of the books. I mean crazy, like 800 pages per book. My feeling is that if she didn't think Dumbledore's gayness was important enough to include in the nearly 3,200 pages that constituted the final four books, why should readers feel like it was an issue of any importance?

Really, the whole business of talking about character backstories after the books have concluded makes me feel like I"m talking to one of those Star Wars fans who has read all several hundred of the Star Wars books, and can therefore tell you EVERYTHING that ever happened to the characters. "Oh, yeah, well, Han and Leia had four kids until Leia was killed by an enraged cyborg that was created by the son of Darth Crapious--he was a Sith from the Tarbek system--and then Han had to team up with Luke's cousin Amelior and they ended up..." Really, it's all very tiring, and, at the risk of offending these folks, I feel that if it's not in the books (Harry Potter) or the movies (Star Wars), it didn't happen. Case closed. Sorry. Finally, here's a Dumbledore-is-gay t-shirt that is pretty sweet.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Seriously, why do all Trader Joe's parking lots SUCK?

Today my lovely wife and I drove to the brand spanking new Trader Joe's in Northeast Portland. Built on the site of an old 24 Hour Fitness, it's a great deal larger than other Trader Joe's spots in town, and we enjoy the wide aisles and larger selection of merchandise. As it was being built, we fervently hoped that its parking situation would compare favorably to other Trader Joe's stores in town. To put it bluntly, whoever designs their parking lots needs to have his license revoked, and needs to be forcibly exiled to some sort of car-less island that will never feel the need for a parking lot. The reason is this: every Trader Joe's parking lot in Portland SUCKS. They are horrible. The entrances and exits seem haphazardly placed, cars careen through them like bumper cars driven by drunken 12 year olds, carts float aimlessly about, and the whole enterprise seems like the antithesis of a Rube Goldberg contraption: everything is designed to be completely incompatible with everything else, nothing works, and it is ugly to boot.

So fast-forward to our first trip to the new NE Portland Trader Joe's. With so much space, you think they'd have a much better parking lot, no? NO! It sucks! It's no better than the others, and, in fact, it's worse, because there's so much more traffic with which to contend. I saw some jagoff driving a SUV with an "Obama 2008" bumper sticker lose his stuff and nearly get into a brawl with a women who took his spot. Now, in her defense, she had no way of knowing she was taking his spot because the lot is so poorly designed: every parking spot can be accessed from about eight directions, and drivers in 7 of those directions can't see any other cars waiting for the spot. Argh. To say the least, it's a massive exercise in frustration. There's got to be nepotism or something going on, like the guy who designs the parking lots is the brother-in-law of the CEO. SOMETHING. Because nobody sensible would possibly design even one of those lots, much less all of them. Are Trader Joe's everywhere this bad? Can somebody explain? Don't the Germans own Trader Joe's? Is this some sort of revenge for WWII?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Idiot redneck governor suggests that safe sex is like drunk driving, domestic abuse

Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, perhaps the biggest redneck* to ever run for President, proved today, in response to a question posed by a supporter, that the words "hillbilly" and "logic" should never, ever, appear in the same paragraph, let alone the same sentence. The question put to the Governor was rather simple: will his "Christian" background prevent him from supporting safe sex measures? In his typically convoluted, logic-free way, Huckabee delivered a bit of speechifyin' that would be welcomed in a forum like the Pat Robertson Hour of Stupidity (aka the 700 Club), but which bears no resemblance to anything resembling coherent, rational thought.

"If we really are serious about stopping a problem, whether it's drunk driving...we don't say "Don't drive 'as drunk'?" ...This is an illogical thing that we apply to that one area that we don't
apply to any other area. And I'm open-minded to all the arguments, if someone can convince me a little reckless behavior is OK. Maybe that's the message. But it would seem to me that if we're consistent in saying reckless behavior is undesirable we should ask people to move their behavior to the standard and not move the standard to the behavior...We don't say that a little domestic violence is OK, just cut it down a little, just don't hit quite as hard. We say it's wrong."
Here's where the good gov goes off the rails: safe sex is the CURE for the problem, it's not the problem itself. Drunk driving, like domestic violence, is a problem. So we create SAFE measures to keep people from doing it. Likewise, UNSAFE SEX is the problem, so we create SAFE ways for people to get it on without (a) endangering themselves or their partners, or (b) getting someone knocked up, like their third cousin before she graduates high school. (Sorry, threw that one in there in case the Huckabee staff is here visiting and needed a way to relate.) Is that so hard to understand? I guess it shows the man's mindset that he views safe sex as a problem, equivalent to things like drunk driving and domestic violence.

*Why do I call Huckabee a redneck, when the last Arkansas governor to run for public office distinguished himself as a two-term President? Well, it's not because he's from Arkansas, or because he's got a southern accent, or anything like that. It's his NAME. It screams "Redneck!" You expect someone named "Huckabee" to be a guest host on Hee-Haw, not running for the freaking Oval Office. Give me a break. I'd root for someone named "Huckabee" to win the Daytona 500, but would never vote for the guy.

In which CNN calmly informs us of a potential health scare for kids

As the parent of a young (1 year old) child, I can confirm that the world is filled with a seemingly endless catalog of horrors and bogeymen, all ready to leap into your child's gullet and cause all manner of instant death and catastrophe. Children, you soon discover, like to eat, well, EVERYTHING, and there is literally nothing that a child will not pick up and attempt to introduce into its mouth. Similarly, a young child's physiology is such that many mundane things can cause all kinds of grief (like honey, for instance, who knew?). So into this fray jumps CNN, providing a calm, reassuring glimpse of a particular health issue facing kids, and providing some clear-thinking analysis of how to resolve the problem.



Or...not.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Breaking news from Portland: well-known nasty swing joint "Ace of Hearts" is no more!!

So this is a brief news blurb that will really only interest my dedicated readers from Portland, Oregon. (Notice how I assume they actually exist.) Anyway, my drive to/from work takes me past a mysterious building that for years has had a large sign out front with no words, just a picture of a playing card showing the Ace of hearts. While the building makes no effort to disclose its contents, those in the know are aware that this is a fairly seedy swingers club. (On a slightly skeezy note, I once saw a number of trophies in their front window. Trophies? At a swingers club? Why? The mind reels.) At any rate, here's the big news: the "Ace of Hearts" is now known as "Angel's Sensual Social Club." Yeeks. That name is MUCH scuzzier, no? "Sensual social club?" Ugh. It's like a normal social club, only there's a lot more robes and lotions involved. Most of the guys probably drive van conversions. The horror.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Florida Cop wins coveted "Pregnant Cornbread Sleazy Lawsuit of the Year" Award!

My wife and I live in a neighborhood in inner Southeast Portland that has a combination of much pedestrian traffic and many narrow streets. The consequence of this is that idiot pedestrians and bicyclists are forever darting in front of my car as I (cautiously, I might add) make my way through the streets. Whenever this happens, I turn to my wife and joke, "You know, if I hit that guy and killed him, I could sue his estate for the emotional distress it would cause me." We have a good chuckle (because, really, I'm not that much of a jerk), and go on. Yet, today, how shocked was I to discover that a good-for-nothing cop in Florida did something nearly as bad. Witness the absurdity:

A police officer who slipped and injured a knee responding to a toddler's near-drowning has sued the family of the 1-year-old boy, who suffered brain damage and can no longer walk, talk or swallow.

Casselberry Sgt. Andrea Eichhorn alleges Joey Cosmillo's family left a puddle of water on the floor, causing her fall during the rescue efforts. She broke her knee and missed two months of work.

The boy fell into the pool outside the family's home in suburban Orlando in January and now lives in a nursing home and eats and breathes through tubes.
What? For real? Holy hell, what a jackass. First of all, YOU ARE A COP. Don't you expect that bad stuff is going to occasionally go down? Second, beyond the legal issues at play, the kid is confined to a nursing home and breathes through a tube. A TUBE! Where is the sense of decency? Third, you missed two months of work. That's it! Two months! Suck it up and deal! I know, I know, I have a reputation for providing astute, well-thought-out, insightful analysis, but this is one of those occasions when I just want to yell "WHAT? YOU SUCK!" at the cop for about a week. Unbelievable.

And if that weren't enough, the cop's lawyer (appropriately named "Heil") nominates himself for a "Jerk Lawyer of the Year" Award with this gem:
"It's a situation where the Cosmillos have caused these problems, brought them on themselves, then tried to play the victim," Heil said.
What? They are victims! Their son is in a nursing home, BREATHING THROUGH A TUBE! Gah! You suck, lawyer!

What the hell is this whole Turkey genocide bill about?

I really try to follow the news and keep up to date with what's going on in the world, so I am familiar with Britney's custody travails, the trouble with the FISA bill in Congress, the baseball playoffs, and Tony Romo's FIVE interceptions this past Monday night. But I admit to knowing next to nothing about this "genocide bill" that Congress is trying to pass right now, wherein apparently we take Turkey to task for committing genocide in the early 1900s. Turkey is all kinds of pissed off at us about it, and is threatening all kinds of mischief, including invading northern Iraq. (I would imagine that they'll also probably pass a bill taking us to task for that whole genocide thing we did with the Native Americans in the 1800s.)

So I ask: why are we doing this right now? What is the point, exactly, in passing a bill saying that some country committed genocide 100 years ago? What does it accomplish? Not saying we should be flippant about sins of the past, but how exactly is Congress going to do anything other than piss off a supposed ally by doing this right now? I'm not playing devil's advocate, I genuinely have no understanding of this particular issue.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Nifty new website lets you stop the flow of unwanted catalogs

Ah, 'tis the season for all manner of holiday related festivities. There's a chill in the air, the leaves are turning colors, evening strolls through the neighborhood are blessed with the scent of chimney smoke, and the postman brings about 12 pounds of catalogs to your house every single day. For years this has seemed like an inevitable consequence of the season, something to be stolidly endured until January. However, there is a nifty new website, "Catalog Choice," that lets you create an account and stop the delivery of whatever catalogs you are sick of receiving. You choose what gets cut off, and you choose what gets in. So, in my case, Pottery Barn, with its range of slighty affordable (yet ultra generic) furniture will still get delivered, but Restoration Hardware, with its $800 footstools, will get cut off.

The website is quick, simple, and easy-to-use, and definitely worth a few moments of your time. Here's the link: Catalog Choice

Cowardly Mitt Romney runs from wheelchair-bound guy, refuses to answer question

Surprise, surprise! A tough he-man Republican like Willard "Mitt" Romney won't answer a legitimate question from a guy who is confined to his wheelchair thanks to muscular dystrophy. The guy asks a very good question of old Willard: if you are against medical marijuana, will you put me and my doctors in jail? Republicans are famous for being against things like abortion and medical marijuana, but always refuse to confront the natural consequences of their policies, which is that a lot of people would go to jail. Conservatives will tell you until they're blue in the face that they are against abortion, but when you ask them if this means that women who have abortions should be put in prison, they tend to run out of the room with a quickness.

And, this is exactly what the cowardly Willard Romney does here. He refuses to answer the guy's question (but claims to bystanders that he did), and turns tail and flees.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Thompson Fever....catch it! Or not, whatever.

As this photo from a recent NY Times profile indicates, Hollywood Fred Dalton Thompson isn't exactly wowing voters out on the campaign trail. It's kind of hilarious, as all the pro-GOP pundits, somewhat frantic with worry over their thoroughly laughable stable of candidates (from Rudy "Cousin' Lovin" Giuliani to Willard "Mitt" Romney) had forecast tremendous things from this young Thompson fellow. No doubt, they reasoned, he'd be a combination of the vim and vigor of a youthful Ronald Reagan, combined with the judgement of Socrates and the fatherly good looks of Ward Cleaver. In actuality, they have wound up with a candidate who has the mental acuity of Ronald Reagan, c. 1998, the judgement of "defendent #2" on the latest Judge Judy show, and the looks of an elderly gnome whose body has been stretched by some horrible torture device. I mean, really, the man is tanking. Here's the photo I promised--Fred lulling a roomful of seniors into a restful night's sleep.

Friday, October 5, 2007

David Letterman interviews Paris Hilton: makes her cry, makes the world laugh

This is truly one of the best interviews I've ever seen, as Letterman clearly despises Paris Hilton, clearly hates having to interview her on his show, and thus goes out of his way to make her as uncomfortable and annoyed as possible. The rumor is that she was in tears backstage after her segment, and vowed never to go on his show again. Wow. Mission accomplished, Dave. The transition from "Which do you like better, New York or Los Angeles?" to "So how did you like being in jail?" is one for the ages.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Let's all laugh at the stupid 2008 GOP convention logo

First off, here it is:



Ok, a few questions:

1) What's with those stripes in the elephant's back? I guess it's supposed to be the American flag, but, really, that's kinda lame.
2) What's with the star for an eye? It makes the elephant look like it's tripping/tweaking/drunk/high.
3) Why does the mean elephant want to crush "2008," Mommy?
4) Uh, why is it blue? Isn't the whole "blue state vs. red state" thing a deal where the GOP is red??

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Juxtaposition

""I told somebody behind stage, this has been a joyous experience being the president. My buddies in Texas just simply don't think I'm telling them the truth. But it is."--George W. Bush, October 3. 2007

This may be the stupidest thing Bush has ever said

Quite honestly, if you were to spend a day Googling stupid things Bush has said... well, you'd need more than a day. Plus, there are distinctions in his stupidity, I mean, are you talking about statements in which he merely brutalizes the English language ("is our children learning?") or statements in which he says something that is utterly and incomprehensibly wrong? Well, today's statement falls into the second category, and demonstrates the man's utter lack of sense, knowledge, compassion, decency, and intelligence. Explaining his absurd veto of the SCHIP expansion of health care programs for poor children, the president says

“The immediate goal is to make sure there are more people on private insurance plans. I mean, people have access to health care in America. After all, you just go to an emergency room.”
It always makes me laugh when people who have absolutely gold-plated health care plans wax eloquent about the ability of the proleteriat to just go on down to the emergency room when they've got some malady. I don't need to get into the countless reasons this is bad policy, but first on the list would have to be that the emergency room should be reserved for actual emergencies: they aren't qualified or set up to provide routine medical care, and they certainly do not focus on preventative care. They give you ibuprofin, slap a bandage on you, give you antibiotics for your infection, or whatever. But if you need to see a health professional about how to manage your blood sugar or something else that requires long-term management and repeat visits, I doubt they'd even see you at the emergency room. What utter nonsense from our president. Embarrassing.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Dice-stacking: crazy party trick, insane waste of time, kind of awesome

How many of you have heard of dice stacking? It's an (apparently) new game in which you lay dice out on a table, pick them up with a cup, and with a few flicks of the wrist stack them on the table. Sounds pretty blase and lame until you see the following video, in which a young dicestacker (?) accomplishes some seemingly impossible tricks using nothing more than a plastic cup and four (or eight) large casino dice. Crazy.

Laptop-using-while-driving douchesack totally gets pwn3d, and I love it

If there is one trend I have come to loathe with a burning passion that summons the bile from deep within my system, it is the tools who insist on viewing screens of portable devices (laptops, DVD players, phones, GPS, etc.) while driving. It is obnoxious, it is unsafe, and it is the very height of behavior that deserves a good solid cockpunching. Most frustratingly, there is rarely anything you can do about these hosebags. They speed by, their radio blasting out the window (and 9 times out of 10 it is that execrable "Hey there Delilah" song), and you just sit there with nothing to do but shake your fast and make snarky comments about their totally pimped out VW Golf.

Today, however, Portland's KATU news brings us the heartwarming story of a local tool who was so distracted by the contents of his laptop computer (guesses as to said content? Porn? The latest James Blunt video? "The Hills" recap on Television Without Pity?) that he failed to make note of the multi-ton large yellow schoolbus suddenly stopped directly in front of him. Faster than you can say "Whoomp! There it is!" said tool impacted said schoolbus, driving the bumper of his Mercedes into the backseat, and sending him to the hospital. This photo exists as lovely schadenfreude for all of us who have suffered in the presence of these jackasses.

BREAKING NEWS!1!!!1!!! The guys who write "Politico" are idiots!

Here's a crazy news flash for you: a bunch of Democrats who received contributions from MoveOn.org later condemned that group over its "General Betray-us" ad. Shocking! What does this prove? I guess if you write for "Politico," it proves that, uh, the Democrats hate the troops! Or hate America! Or are really political! Or something! Take it away, idiots-who-write-for-Politico:

Take Sen. Robert P. Casey Jr. (D-Pa.). MoveOn boasted it helped him knock off incumbent Republican Rick Santorum in 2006 by steering more than $200,000 in earmarked contributions from its members and independent expenditures to Casey, not to mention more than 800,000 phone calls urging support for him.

Yet Casey voted to condemn the group’s ad, a move his spokesman Larry Smar said “is not remotely hypocritical.” He explained Casey “doesn’t agree 100 percent of the time with anyone who has supported him,” calling the ad “a distraction from the debate on the Bush policy in Iraq.”
In other words, Senator Robert Casey is not at all beholden to his contributors, and is willing to call them on the carpet when they do something with which he disagrees! OMG! This is one of those classic nuggets of DC political insiderism, wherein a news organization (in this case a website populated by hacks who used to write for ABCNews "The Note," another bastion of hack journalism) just puts some information out there and intends for the implication to be obvious, when in fact the facts of the story indicate precisely the opposite. Clearly "Politico" would like you to think that the Democrats are a bunch of hypocrites for taking money from an organization and then condemning it.

In fact, this story indicates the exact opposite: the Democrats are NOT in the pocket of their contributors, and have no problem calling out the group when they do something the Dems don't like. Sheesh. You'd expect a bunch of seasoned, political analysts to get this.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

ABCNews plays "Adventure With Clip Art"... and loses

I feel bad for the photo editor for most major websites. Their budget has been slashed to pay for Katie Couric's wardrobe consultant on her trip to Baghdad, they've got some beancounters yelling at them about why they keep wanting to send a guy out to Times Square to get photos when "Times Square looked the same last year!" and no doubt the CEO just wonders why they can't "just Photoshop the goddam thing and save a few bucks?" All saying, the temptation to use clip art or "file footage" must be pretty strong.

That, however, does not excuse the image ABCNews chose to accompany a piece on sexual harassment at the office, which they are calling "Office Sex Harassment: Too PC?" Here's the image:



First question: the article is about sexual harassment in the office. So why did you get three obviously-in-makeup actors portraying old guys sitting on a park bench to be your subjects? That makes NO sense. Second question: what the hell kind of posture is that woman displaying? It's so obvious that they positioned the female in the left hand side of the camera and said "ok, lift up your back leg as if you are walking past these scuzzy and lecherous old horndogs." But it completely fails.

A final note, before I close: if you squint your eyes enough and use your imagination, it's easy to pretend that the woman in this photo is being harassed by a bizarre (yet totally fun, probably) combination of (from left to right) David Cross, Bill Clinton, and Garry Marshall.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Diane Sawyer perfects her "my career officially sucks, as I am interviewing a complete fool" expression

Worst X-ray you will ever see

From time to time especially gruesome x-rays pop up on the net, usually featuring images from someone who fired a couple nails into their foot, or was walking around all day with a butter knife protruding from their skull, or some such. Today's however, is fairly more disgusting, thanks to the magic of 3-D. This dude got a chair leg driven into his face during a...wait for it...nightclub brawl, and, amazingly, lived to tell about it. Check it:



On the plus side, this guy will never, ever lose a "how did you get YOUR scar?" competition. The article about him describes his injury as follows:

The leg of the chair penetrated Mr Fahkri's left eye socket, moved his eyeball to the side and continued into his neck.
How he didn't die remains a mystery, needless to say.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Ahmadinejad now qualified to be a senator from Oklahoma

Iran's president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad today:

Asked about widely documented government abuse of women and homosexuals in his country, Ahmadinejad said, "We don't have homosexuals" in Iran. "I don't know who told you we had it," he said.

Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe, June, 2006:
"As you see here, and I think this is maybe the most important prop we’ll have during the entire debate, my wife and I have been married 47 years. We have 20 kids and grandkids. I’m really proud to say that in the recorded history of our family, we’ve never had a divorce or any kind of homosexual relationship."
So, there you go. Inhofe could be replaced by Ahmadinejad, and it's likely the voters of his state wouldn't notice the difference.

Incidentally, am I the only one who thinks that the only reason we haven't bombed Iran yet is because Bush hasn't figured out how to pronounce "Ahmadinejad"?

The Japanese show Maury how it's done

If you've ever labored under the delusion that Maury Povich has cornered the market on scaring kids straight, think again! Sure, Maury's got the technique down pat, and when you're looking for quality footage of impressively muscled drill sargeants getting in the face of insolent, mouthy teens, he's got your back, jack. But when it comes to taking the act of terrifying misbehaving kids out of their own skins to a new level, we have to turn to the acknowledged masters of crazy television, the Japanese.

Here, they have hit upon a novel strategy. Take an acting-out teen, dress her as a seal, and force her to walk back and forth in front of a polar bear. (While her parents watch the footage and laugh, natch.) Gold.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Hey Democrats... here's some helpful strategy for you

Since the Republicans managed to totally pwn you guys, and got half of you to sign on to a resolution calling MoveOn.org a bunch of meanies, have any of you contemplated getting General Petraeus himself on the record on this issue? In other words, ask him, "General Petraeus, were you bothered by MoveOn.org's advertisement in which they referred to you as "Betray-Us?""

Because, here's the brilliant strategy: he's a tough-as-nails military guy. No way is he going to admit on the record that he was the slightest bit bothered by something that a bunch of long-haired hippies said about him. So he'll go on record saying "No, it didn't bother me." Then, you can use HIS OWN WORDS for your justification as to why you voted down the preposterous MoveOn.org resolution. Smart, eh?

However, since half of you (including you, Harry--way to allow that resolution to see the light of day) got totally schooled on this issue, perhaps you can use this kind of thinking the next time the GOP tries to capitalize on a not-even-close-to-peripheral issue to ignore their own failings. (Hint: it will next happen during the 2008 campaign. Try not to act surprised.)

Sometimes you don't need to read beyond the headline...

Classic headline from Portland's KATU News website this morning:

Jailed mom expecting 10th child says things will be different this time around.
Oh, I imagine it will be. The first nine were kind of practice kids, but the tenth one is going to be the one that she knocks out of the park. However, I can't help but be reminded of this guy when I read something like that.



"They've got a name for people like you H.I. That name is called 'recidivism.' Repeat OH-fender!"

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Tom Brady takes break from impregnating supermodels to deny that he is a fraud and a cheat

Tom Brady seems to have found a few minutes in his day--those precious free moments when he is not knocking up sundry supermodels/actresses or preening for the latest GQ photo spread--to deny widespread allegations that he has profited from Bill Belichick's Nixonian spying and wiretapping schemes to the tune of 3 Super Bowl victories. Appearing on a Boston radio station, Brady whined

"By no means am I sitting here getting plays and getting defenses and checking plays based on defenses that I'm getting. That's completely absurd," Brady said. "If that was the case, I think that's just ridiculous. You know, I hear other players, based on what I've heard on television, that 'Brady's getting defenses.' I'm saying, 'That's just ridiculous.'
The only benefit to all this negativity being brought down on the cheating Pats is that Sports Illustrated's Peter King must be finding it that much harder to write his weekly "Tom Brady is the best quarterback who has ever lived, and is perhaps the moral equivalent of Ghandi" column. So, if for no other reason, I guess I should be grateful that the Patriots have disgraced themselves as a bunch of jackass losers.

An annotated guide to the medals of General Petraeus

In the post below, I referred to the fauxtrage (that's fake outrage) the conservatives are displaying over the fact that an insolent, snot-nosed kid was mercifully tasered at a campus event with John Kerry. However, there is even more fauxtrage in the air these days over the advertisement that Moveon.org took out in the NY Times recently, in which General David Petraeus was called "General Betray-us." OMG! Some hippies called a general a mean name, which they got by making a clever pun of his last name! This is simply unheard of!

Now, who is General David Petraeus, you may ask? Well, here's how he was described by Republican minority whip Roy Blunt:

a four-star general, a Princeton Ph.D., a recipient of the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, and the chief author of the Army’s definitive counterinsurgency manual
Man, that's impressive. I mean, the guy literally wrote the book on how to conduct an effective counterinsurgency. Apparently, however, the man who is able to look death in the eye, who is renowned for his mile-long jogs in the very heart of the insurgency, wilts like a delicate flower when a liberal advocacy group says something mean about him. I mean, heck, this guy can drive an unarmored Humvee through RPG Alley in Baghdad without so much as breaking a sweat, but when the NY Times runs an ad in which someone calls him "Betray-us," well, all bets are off.

With that in mind, I thought it would be helpful to present an image of David Petraeus with an annotated guide to a few of his recent medals. After all, when a guy appears before congress wearing what appears to be four square feet of assorted medals and honors, it's hard to keep track of what valorous deed is matched to which piece of hardware. Here, then, is a photo, along with an explanation for some of his most recent medals.

"Bro" shouting student justifiably tasered at Kerry event

The righties are breathless with fauxtrage (that would be fake outrage) today at news that a student who was asking too many questions was tasered at a campus forum with John Kerry at the University of Florida. Here's how the AP described it:

A University of Florida student was Tasered and arrested after trying angrily and repeatedly to ask U.S. Senator John Kerry about the 2004 election and other subjects during a campus forum.

...

Videos of Monday's incident posted on several Web sites show officers pulling Andrew Meyer, 21, away from the microphone after he asks Kerry about impeaching President Bush and whether he and Bush were both members of the secret society Skull and Bones at Yale University.
It's hard to say whether the kid was one of those "heh, I love the Swift Boat Vets, and I'm going to sabotage the nascent political career of John Kerry. OMG! Heh indeedy" types, or if he was a conspiracy-touting indymedia type.

However, in a true example of a news organization burying the lede, we read this later in the piece:
As Kerry tells the audience he will answer the student's "very important question," Meyer yells at the officers to release him, crying out, "Don't Tase me, bro," just before he is shocked by the Taser.
Did you get that? The officers, who most likely were going to lead the guy out of the room peacefully, were forced to send 10,000 righteous volts of electricity surging through his body after he dropped the "Bro" bomb on them. Apparently the student went on to ask them if they had seen the "sick Lacoste polos at Nordstrom," and mentioned his deep and abiding love for Jack Johnson's early work. Suspecting they had mere seconds before the guy popped his collar and tried to slip some GHB in their beer, the campus security officers made a wise decision to deploy the taser.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The US military: proudly outsourcing corpse management services since 2007*

This notice pretty much says it all

NEW! 67 Temp Positions: Personal Effects Specialist (FT Shifts to Aug. 17)

Job Description
Participates as temporary full-time member (Personal Effects Specialist, or Photographer, or Administrative Speciaialist) on a Serco, Inc. team of 96 contract employees working on-site in a fast-paced operational/warehouse environment for the US Army Casualty and Mortuary Affairs Operations Center at the Joint Personal Effects Depot (JPED). Receives, inventories, sorts, cleans, photographs, packages, and ships to family members (next of kin) all personal effects belonging to military service members and others, including defense contractors, who are killed or severely injured worldwide, especially incident to military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Yeah, seriously, why keep that kind of thing under the protective arm of the US military when it could easily be outsourced to some campaign contributor?

(* I'm not actually sure when this contract started. Could have been earlier than 2007.)

Korea, Iraq, what's the difference?

Word on the street is that our Prez'nit is going to make some sort of comparison between Iraq and the US experience in Korea (which as well all know has brought nothing but peace, forgiveness, and understanding to the Korean peninsula) in his televised speech to the nation this evening.

President Bush is looking at the decades-long U.S. troop presence in South Korea as a model for a future U.S. role in Iraq, senior administration officials said Thursday....

Amid Democratic criticism and Republican concerns that the so-called troop surge has failed to produce national reconciliation at the top levels in Baghdad, the official said the president is expected to argue that grass-roots efforts by Iraqis are "laying the groundwork for national reconciliation" but there is a "long haul and tough work ahead."
Well, which is it? In case master-of-geography Bush hasn't noticed, US troop presence in South Korea hasn't really helped with the whole reconciliation thing. In fact, if you happen to read any well known books about the Kim (Il Sung and Jong Il) regimes in North Korea, you know that the presence of US troops in South Korea has been the one sticking point in talks between the two nations. For years, the North has stipulated that they will only make various concessions (give up their nukes, etc.) if US troops are withdrawn. So I'm not exactly sure this is the model that the President wants to follow.

Not only that, but, hey, this is, like, what, more than 50 years since the "end" of the Korean War! Our troops are still there, yo. And, of course, the "reality on the ground" as they like to say, is completely different in Iraq than in Korea. You don't have two neat countries who hate each other on different sides of a DMZ--you have three various groups (who hate eachother) sprinkled in enclaves throughout the country, each with different levels of penetration in the country's various security services. Really not even close to the same thing. Several years ago, I think we were following the Germany-post-WWII model. Then several months ago Bush told us that Iraq=Vietnam (after saying for years that Iraq was NOTHING like Vietnam). Now it's Korea. Wake me up in several months when headlines blare "Bush says Iraq similar to Grenada, Panama."

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

OMG pls pray 4 m3, Br1tn3y i5 teh f4t!11!1!1!11!1eleven1!!

Today the indispensable sources over at the NY Post's PAGE 6 gossip section reveal the reason that Britney Spears appeared at the MTV video award show looking like a 3rd-rate stripper on a 1st-rate bender: she was drunk/hungover, bored, and lazy! Score! (And who said she learned nothing from K-Fed.) Unsurprising as that news is, the most hilarious part of the article was the paper's report of how Britney's antics sent her backup dancers into a text-messaging frenzy:

MTV execs weren't the only ones worried about Spears' impending debacle. Another spy said, "The dancers were texting pals, asking them to pray for them. They were worried."
Sadly, the potency of Las Vegas' famous frozen margaritas dwarfed the Awesome Power of Our Heavenly Creator, at least for the evening. It must be sad to be a backup dancer, forced to watch the so-called star traipsing her way across the stage as sundry celebrities look on with a mixture of shock and dismay, and be confronted with the stark realization that the Lord has forsaken you at such a visible moment. Oh, the fickle finger of fate! Today, noble background dancer, the bell tolls for thee.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Matt Drudge finds his stupidest story yet...BREAKING!1!!11!11

OMG! Noted egg connoisseur/enthusiast Matt Drudge has, thanks to Sean "Slanthead" Hannity, come up with might be his most completely absurd "expose" yet. Are you ready for the surprise that will overwhelm your senses, flooding your capacity for reason and leaving you helpless before his powerful conservative message? Ok, here goes: Al Gore used a private jet! OMG!!! Yes, that's right. I guess the scandal is that "An Inconvenient Truth" and the global warming cannon generally hold that private jets are bad insofar as they fill the upper reaches of the atmosphere with noxious pollutants, despite only ferrying a few rich people around. Seems like a fair point, and it would be better if Gore could use coach or even first class. But, to act as though this is a Huge! Scandal! is taking it a bit too far... though of course this IS Matt Drudge.

Hannity's website, of course, takes it to an even sillier extreme, claiming that "it's the tape that will change the global warming debate." Really? I guess the fact that Al Gore got on a private jet somehow... means that global warming isn't happening? Not quite sure I get the logic there, but, then again, I don't work for FOX. I get the sense that upon the first airing of this video (on FOX, natch), Greenland's melting glaciers will suddenly surge down the hills, blanketing the slopes under hundreds of feet of ice. Snow will return to Kilamanjaro! The average global temperature will fall by 5 degrees! The information is Just. That. Shocking.

Even better is Hannity's insistence (as I was unlucky enough to hear on his radio show today) that people like Gore need to "lead by example." If Gore wants people to, say, take fewer flights, he needs to get out there and do it himself. Ok, that's fair enough. Yet I wonder what Hannity would say if someone applied the same logic to his support for the Iraq War? The US military is clearly struggling to find qualified recruits, even going so far as to raise the age limit for new recruits, and to drop the educational requirements. Shouldn't Hannity be "leading by example" here? He's a huge supporter of the Iraq War--why not get out in front of this, Sean, and sign up?

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Let's be honest: Fred Thompson really looks quite unhealthy and infirm

I'm just going to come right out and say what I know everyone is thinking, but which I believe very few people will say: Fred Thompson looks like he's lived every day over the past four months about ten times each. Like, dude looks OLD. Not "Ronald Reagan, at age 75, was a youthful and vigorous looking man, given his age" old, but "Woah, that guy looks really unhealthy, and, quite frankly, hideously ugly" old. The truth is that Fred has never looked like George Clooney's double, but I don't recall him looking like the double of that freakish wraith from "Tales from the Crypt" before either. Check it out below: I've got one photo of him taken from a TV appearance in March 2007, and one taken from his webcast (whatever, grampa!) yesterday.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Holiday Travel: The good, and the (really) bad

Best part about a trip to D.C. this weekend: Frontier Airlines, which rocked my world. Brand new planes, actually friendly crew, DirecTV (albeit for $5) in the TV mounted to the back of every seat, and fairly comfy accommodations. I can't say enough for Frontier--they did a great job, and this is spoken by someone who HATES to fly. The downside is that you have to fly through Denver for every flight, but if you are making a cross country trip, you should check them out.

The worst part wasn't a "I got in a traffic jam and arrived late for my flight" kind of worst, but rather a "I saw something that spoke volumes to me about the almost literal fall and decline of the United States, so long as we continue to allow moronic cretins the opportunity to inflict their astounding bad taste and dreadful stupidity on the rest of us" kind of worst. It was a t-shirt worn by a woman in the Denver airport, who, I might add, was in the process of screaming at her five kids as they stood in line at McDonald's. And that shirt said "Jesus God 'Er Done." Exactly. I stood their, mouth open, staring at this shirt--it was that horrifying. Not even the lovely Filet-O-Fish sandwich in my hand was enough to calm my nerves. (Although the gin and tonic I inhaled on the next leg of my flight did actually help.)

Question: why is it that the people who feel the need to broadcast their religious affiliation are always the last people who ought to be doing so? There are plenty of peaceful, compassionate religious types out there, so why do I never round the corner at the airport and bump into some kindly Quaker wearing a "I believe in peace and sustainable living" shirt? (The answer to that question, incidentally, is not "because that's a lame shirt and nobody would buy it.") No, it's always some jackass idiot wearing a barely-thought-out rip-off of a slogan from some hick comedian. Do other cultures have this? Are there people in the, say, Islamic world who would contemplate wearing some absurd mis-quotation of the Koran--or, to remain consistent, some Islamic version of a rip-off of the trademark line from some bad comedian in, like, Yemen?-- to make a hilarious point about the strength of their own faith? I doubt it. So we do we? Worst. Superpower. Ever.