Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The new, thoughtful George W. Bush

George W. Bush now regrets some of the shouting, hollering, frothing, and breast beating that accompanied the Iraq war. Among other things, he wishes he hadn't said, "Bring it on!" I guess he learned to be careful what he wishes for.

Maybe that's why we're seeing a more nuanced, cautious Preznit, a commander-in-chief who chooses his words carefully. Good thing too, because the war's taken an ugly turn with the Haditha massacre. We don't know all the facts just yet, but the president is "troubled" by the news.
"I am troubled by the initial news stories," Bush said. "I'm mindful that there's a thorough investigation going on. If in fact, laws were broken, there will be punishment."

"Troubled" and "mindful." That's the new George W. Bush. I guess he won't be staging any war-related photo ops any time soon, eh?

Toto, I don't think we're...uh, never mind

Kansas, the "What's the Matter" State, is governed by the immensely popular Dem governor Kathleen Sebelius. Named one of America's Best Governors by Time, she's been one of the names tossed around as a running mate for 2008. But from what I've read about her, she could be an excellent president. I'd take her over La Hill, most certainly.

It turns out that Sebelius is no Joe Lieberman-esque "Fox News Democrat" either. In fact, she's been nudging moderate Republicans toward the party of the Donkey. Republicans do still outnumber Democrats in Kansas, but there's an intra-party split between the Brownback branch (i.e., the fundie wackos) and the moderates. The conflict, as it turns out, is the gift that keeps on giving for the Kansas Democrats.

Current Lt. Governor John Moore is an ex-Republican who switched just days before joining Sebelius on the ticket. Now, Mark Parkinson, the head of the Kansas GOP has switched parties.

The head of the Kansas GOP, folks. The head of the Kansas GOP.

Anyway, Parkinson is believed to be in the running to become Sebelius's new lieutenant governor. He and Moore are not the only Kansas Republicans to leave the GOP, either. As it turns out, one Kansas state legislator is miffed about this:
House Speaker Doug Mays said he was disgusted by Parkinson's lack of loyalty to the party that made him chairman.

"To me, one of the most valuable traits that a person can have, particularly a person who find himself in a position of authority is loyalty," said Mays, R-Topeka. "I think he's being opportunistic on a personal basis. The Republican Party had been very good to Mark Parkinson."

Well, whoop dee do. When a party no longer represents your interests and, in fact, seems to have been taken over by nut cases, it's probably reasonable to jump ship. I don't doubt that political self-interest played a role in Parkinson's decision, but it's telling that a man in his position would jump ship.

Sebelius is doing the smart thing by peeling away the moderate Republicans who are alienated and disgusted by what's happened to their party.

And you may wonder what Bush's approval rating is in Kansas. According to SurveyUSA, it's 35 percent. Maybe Kansas isn't so wingnutty after all...

Monday, May 29, 2006

"Praise bravery, seek forgiveness"

A year ago, on Memorial Day, the Minneapolis Star Tribune published Memorial Day: Praise bravery, seek forgiveness, to honor the troops in Iraq. The editorial appeared shortly after the infamous Downing Street Memo, but today, the Strib's words remain timely as ever.
In exchange for our uniformed young people's willingness to offer the gift of their lives, civilian Americans owe them something important: It is our duty to ensure that they never are called to make that sacrifice unless it is truly necessary for the security of the country. In the case of Iraq, the American public has failed them; we did not prevent the Bush administration from spending their blood in an unnecessary war based on contrived concerns about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

The World's Largest Underpants

The subject line says it all. Yes, you too can share the time-honored experience of wearing underwear with your friends! Alas, they only come in white. I can't wait to see McPhee make the world's largest pair of glow-in-the-dark boxer shorts. Yes, you heard me. Glow-in-the-dark boxer shorts. They really exist.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Note to George Galloway--Shut up.

Ugh. This is all I have to say. Ugh. What a famewhoring jackass. Wish we could put him on a desert island with Christopher Hitchens.

It's Frivolous Gossip Friday! Yippee!

Britney Spears' spokesperson is now refusing to deny rumors of a forthcoming Britney/Kevin Federline split. Yes, Britney seems to have realized that foisting K-Fed the perpetually stoned wannabe rapper on the world was a mistake. She seems to have figured this out very recently, since she is now about five months pregnant with their second kid. According to IMDB, Britney came home to find him drinking and smoking pot. She is now at the end of her rope.

Of course, everyone but her already saw this coming. Unemployed stoner who dumped his pregnant girlfriend as she's about to pop out their kid? Yup, a great catch. In People, Britney gloated, "I'm sorry you don't have what I have." She's the only one who felt that way. Everyone else just shook their heads as the idiocy unfolded. She was photographed grabbing his crotch and dumping her ashtray over the balcony. They held a white trash wedding where K-Fed's homies wore track suits that read "Pimp Daddy." They posed for photos spreads in People, submitted their home movies for a lame reality series, and acted as if the whole relationship was one big publicity stunt.

Oh yeah, and K-Fed started to fancy himself as a rapper. That was a joke that wrote itself.

Except now it's gone from hilarious to plain pathetic. Britney was reduced to tears after she stumbled and almost dropped her kid, with the paparazzi clicking away. Obviously, it was an accident. However, she's already been investigated by Children's Services twice, for stuff that's much more serious. And Stumblegate just led to more cracks about her lack of parenting skills. With a picture like this one, however, it's hard to laugh along. Now I just feel sorry for the girl. I wish she'd dump the loser, take a parenting class, and leave the public eye for a while. The joke's over, people.

Bye-bye Ayn?

Ayn Clouter has long been one of my most favorite blogs, quick with a withering putdown or skilled parody. Now, she appears to be signing off. To hear her put it:

The old order is indeed passing before our very eyes. Continuing to chronicle the conspirings crumbling the country's quaint delusions is redundant. While to paraphrase Marilyn's husband, "Lip service must be paid", let the front men do so. I have no patience to pretend anything like a "democratic republic" exists here, and welcome our new overlords (of whom, as a stockholder, I am theoretically one myself).

Sigh...snif...Fare thee well, Ayn.

Sometimes, evil loses and good wins, just like in the comic books

Mr. Lay and Mr. Skilling have been convicted. They are both going to prison. With any luck, they will be able to file all the appeals they want and never have their convictions overturned.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Bits and pieces. Dribs and drabs. Flotsam and jetsam. And other stuff floating around the blogosphere.

When the going gets tough, the tough (uh-huh) just pray. "Please, God, just skip a year so we can have 2008 elections early. Please!!!! From the Defeatists.

Meanwhile, Neomugwump stumbles onto a right-wing fruitcake who points to the Nazis as a good example of how to handle illegal immigrants. Dennis Sanders, Neomugwump blogdude, has to have the patience of a saint to remain in the GOP.

Moxiegrrrl finds Dick Cheney channeling Blackbeard.
Those are some scary teeth he's got. Sure there are other things about the guy that are scary, but I noticed those teeth. EEEEWWWWWW.

Speaking of Tricky Dick, the Rude Pundit weighs in on his speech-cum-pirate impersonation.

Laurie Anderson at Joe's Pub

Le Sweetie and I saw Laurie Anderson at Joe's Pub this evening. Ms. Anderson played a 7 PM show in a very intimate setting. I was totally unfamiliar with her music or much of anything about her. I was fearful that it would be an hour of esoteric mush, but was pleasantly surprised.

Normally, I don't really like electronic pop and I HATE programmed drumbeats with an utter passion. However, Anderson's a humorous, understated performer, making all kinds of witty asides in her monologues-cum-songs, inspiring random giggles from the audience. Another thing too--I usually wouldn't enjoy this sort of talk-singing, but Laurie Anderson does it effectively. She still has the spiky haircut, but despite a few wrinkles, seems ageless.

She even sings one song, "The Lost Art of Conversation." The lyrics are simple but effective, and Anderson has a delicate, pretty voice. I read about how she began taking voice lessons and was surprised when her teacher told her she was a soprano, not an alto. This is definitely an artist I can appreciate, even if I don't want to listen to her every other day.

Monday, May 22, 2006

How do you say "waste of time" in Spanish?

And here we have a nice slab of red meat that Bushco is hoping to toss to the conservative "base"--or what's left of it. Yes, the Republican-controlled Senate put aside all trivial concerns, like the economy, Iraq, and gas prices, and voted to make English the national language. Despite the fact that just about everybody in this country speaks English, it seems that nobody has ever made it official. Since this is an election year and the Republicans need all the help they can get, they decided to change all that.

Of course, none of this has anything to do with illegal immigration. I mean, a language law isn't going to help the National Guardsmen at our borders. (Telling them what they're supposed to be doing down there might, however.)

Oh, and here's the posturing from a Republican senator. Yawn...

"This is not just about preserving our culture and heritage, but also about bettering the odds for our nation's newest potential citizens," said Oklahoma Republican James Inhofe, who sponsored the national language amendment.

Uh...Senator Inhofe? The US already requires immigrants to learn English before they can become citizens.

Here's a politically incorrect thought to consider--suppose Spanish does become a second language? With an influx of immigrants, legal and illegal, and the expanding Latino population in ths US, this could happen. Well, so what? Yes, you heard me, so what? What's going to happen?

A lot of automated phone lines already have options for English and Spanish. You press 1 for English and 2 for Spanish. I always press 1. No big deal.

There are some foreign-language channels on TV. Nobody is being forced to watch them. If Lucia from Venezuela wants to watch the latest installment in her favorite telenovela, whose business is it?

As it turns out, there are plenty of bilingual and multilingual countries. The Swiss speak German and French. Belgium has two ethnic groups that speak different languages. Spain has Catalans, Galicians, and Basques, all with their own language. In fact, in Barcelona, people are more likely to speak Catalan than Spanish.

This is just another effort to stir up debate as the GOP tries to create a wedge issue for November 2006, and it should be regarded as such. Frame it in a way to put the Goopers on the defensive, but otherwise stick to the real issues. Besides, by 2007, the GOP will have forgotten all about it. They'll have gone back to talking about gay,, whatever missing blonde girl is in the news this week. C'mon, maybe there's a comatose person somewhere to exploit for political gain! Let's get cracking!

Update: Something to help Senator Inhofe: a list of the requirements for US citizenship. Among them are "an ability to read, write, and speak English." In other words, we didn't need any "official" language to help immigrants become citizens, as the requirements were already there before the GOP thought of immigration as the hot issue for 2006.

Nineties nostalgia! Wahoo!

Okay, we're not quite there yet. That '90s Show has yet to be added to any TV lineup. But this decade has stunk so badly that the twentieth-century fin de siecle looks better every day. Yesterday's perjurer and blowjob king is now beating George W. Bush in an opinion poll. Remember the pathological Clinton haters of the 1990s? The Scaife-sponsored efforts to nail Bubba on anything they could find, including unpaid parking tickets? According to the poll, "59 percent said Bush has done more to divide the country, while only 27 percent said Clinton had."
Who is this 27 percent? They are probably among the same small minority (30 percent or so) who still think Bush is doing a good job.

But here's part to make the wingnuts' brains explode:

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.

Forty-six percent to forty-one percent. Yikes.

And now, New York has a cover story on Al Gore. Not only does he have a new TV network and a new documentary film, but this article is floating the idea that maybe--just maybe--Gore could and should run in 2008. The article talks the terrible campaign he ran in 2000. Like John Kerry, Gore tried to be all things to all people and listened too much to the consultants and know-nothings.

I suspect the Gore we're seeing now is closer to the real man. It would be terrific to see him become an elder statesman of a newly emerging progressive movement. But it would be a wonderful feeling of vindication to see him throw his hat back into the ring two years from now, to claim what probably should've been his in 2000. A Gore campaign with active grassroots (including netroots) support, minus the goofy image consultants and DLC wimps, would be terrific. Now that the overrated John McCain has decided to become Dubya 2.0, we need a real straight-talk express. Gore could be the man to get it started.

Do I dare hope?

Thursday, May 11, 2006

S is for schadenfreude. That's good enough for me.

Guess whose approval rating is now 29 percent?

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

A classic case of musical wanderlust

Every now and then I get a little stir crazy in my musical tastes. There's a band, a style, or an album I've just got to listen to. Maybe I've heard a sound sample or the album cover looked interesting. Or maybe the band has a cool name. Anyway, I'll zero in on a band and start checking out their back catalog.

One such band is Van der Graaf Generator, early 70s art rockers named for a doohickey that makes your hair stand on end. Their lineup was weird (sax/organ/drums/vocals) and their music was even weirder. Imagine HR Giger set to music (Giger really shoulda album cover art for VDGG instead of of Emerson Lake & Palmer), and you have a good idea of this band's sound. Suffice it to say lead singer and main songwriter Peter Hammill was likened to "an art-rock Richard III" (they're talking about his vocal style, folks, NOT his personal conduct).

VDGG also recorded wistful ballads, always tinged with a bit of gloom. Robert Fripp guested on VDGG's two greatest records, H to He Who Am the Only One and Pawn Hearts. Of the two, H to He is my personal favorite, because it's got the two greatest songs the band ever recorded, "Killer" and "House with No Door." I've got most of their records by now, with maybe one or two standouts. Hammill's solo catalog will be the next to get the great reissue treatment. Can't wait for that.

The band reunited last year for a record and some shows. Here is a neat little piece on the band with comments from organist Hugh Banton.

With VDGG established in my CD collection, I'm now checking out Family, an early '70s British rock band that straddled the worlds of Joe Cocker and art rockers and produced such alumni as Rick Grech (Blind Faith/Traffic) and John Wetton (King Crimson/Roxy Music/Asia). I find it hard to type the words "John Wetton" as I have to mention the Asia connection. Come to think of it, other Crimson alums include Ian MacDonald (founding member of Foreigner) and Pete Sinfield (lyricist for Celine Dion and Barry Manilow). Sheeeeeeesh! What is it about Robert Fripp that turns Crimsonites into AOR/MOR wussies?

When not hunting down Family, I'm also trying to give freak-folk a listen. Freak-folk is supposed to be folk that is, well, freaky. Examples include Joanna Newsom, Devendra Banhart, and Cocorosie. A little weirdness is always good, if you ask me.

A lot of this interesting, eclectic stuff, by the way, is on emusic. Forty MP3's a month for $9.99 a month. All to download to your little heart's content. Wheeeeeee!

Hey, stupid. Use a paper shredder.

Presidential Papers Found in Trash.

A public sanitation worker in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday found a thick stack of papers with nearly every detail of President Bush's trip to Florida on the floor next to a big trash truck.

The documents offer the exact arrival and departure time for Air Force One, Marine One and the back up choppers, Nighthawk 2 and 3, as Washington CBS affiliate WUSA-TV first reported.

The documents also list every passenger on board each aircraft, from President Bush to the military attaché with the nuclear football. A spokesman traveling with Mr. Bush in Florida confirms the report and says officials are still trying to learn more about the papers, CBS News White House correspondent Peter Maer reports.

Sanitation worker Randy Hopkins told WUSA-TV reporter Bruce Leshan that he could not believe what he was seeing when he discovered the presidential schedule.

"I saw locations and names and places where the president was going to be. I knew it was important. And it shouldn't have been in a trash hole like this," Hopkins said.

The documents also offer the order of vehicles in the President's motorcade, Leshan notes.

Hopkins is an ex-con working in sanitation, and said he felt it was his civic duty to tell somebody about what he'd found, he told WUSA-TV.

(Via Daily Kos.)

Monday, May 08, 2006

Attention crybabies!

All the whiners who are mad about singing the national anthem in Spanish should really give this a listen before they complain.

LAMom notices something weird...

Homeless people announcing they are US citizens. Announcing you're a disabled vet doesn't hurt, either...

Ha ha! Bush got caught in a lie!

Bush told a German paper that the high point of his presidency was catching a 7.5 pound perch in his lake. Only trouble is, the largest perch ever caught was recorded at 4 pounds three ounces. OOOOOOOOPS!

(Via Jon Aravosis.)

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Make it stop! Make it stoooooooop!!!!

Nicole Ritchie is in Vanity Fair, talking about how thin she is. Shut up and eat a hamburger. And get a job while you're at it.

Tom Cruise will be starring in Mission Impossible III. Did they remember to include a coherent plot for this installment? Who cares? And who cares what "Suri" means in what language?

How far along is Angelina Jolie, and is she going to just have the kid already? And are we going to see more side-by-side photos of Brangelina and Jennifer Aniston or is everyone going to just shut up and move on to the Denise Richards-Richie Sambora-Heather Locklear kerfluffle?

There should be a rule: if you lose on American Idol, you do not automatically gain publicity and a recording deal. You have to start at the bottom again and tour clubs and do crappy gigs and sing backup and orange juice commercials just like all the other singers.

Keith Richards fell from a tree? Pft! My boyfriend's theory is that Richards died years ago and hasn't realized it yet.

Oh, and a people? Stop writing about Courtney Love and Pete Doherty. Maybe if they ever release new music they'll be deserving of publicity. Until then, screw it.

Stephen Colbert: Another victim of the liberal media?

Jon Swift seems to think so.

I'm one of about seven people who has never read "The Da Vinci Code"

Maybe I will read it before the movie comes out, but Comandante Agi of the Defeatists has no plan to do so. However, he does have a bit of advice if you're considering a boycott or a protest.

ANOTHER former CIA analyst takes on Bushco

Specifically Rumsfeld. Think Progress has the whole transcript. The analyst in question is 27-year CIA vet Ray McGovern, and he's carrying on like a bona fide America hater here. Rummy bravely tries to change the subject:
RUMSFELD: It’s easy for you to make a charge, but why do you think that the men and women in uniform every day, when they came out of Kuwait and went into Iraq, put on chemical weapon protective suits? Because they liked the style?...They honestly believed that there were chemical weapons....

Well, the fact that the intelligence seems to have been cherry-picked (per Paul Pillar, another ex-CIA dude) may explain why they thought there were chemical weapons.
And I don't know about you, Rummy, but I wasn't aware anyone joined the military to make a fashion statement.
Let's continue:
RUMSFELD: Saddam Hussein had used chemical weapons on his own people previously. He’d used them on his neighbor (AUDIO GAP) the Iranians, and they believed he had those weapons.
We believed he had those weapons.
MCGOVERN: That’s what we call a non sequitur. It doesn’t matter what the troops believe; it matters what you believe.

Whoops, looks like hiding behind the troops didn't work.
Man, Bushco must hate the CIA these days.