One of my favorite scenes from Frederick Wiseman's Public Housing is the sad spectacle of a government employee explaining to a single mother (who looks to be about 16) that she should not have spent $100 on her hair because she does not have a job. If there is a more quintessential statement of "government as parent" than that, I'd love to see it.

Wait. I think I may have just seen it.

It's not an overstatement to say that the average enlisted soldier is not a rocket scientist. Military recruiters have spent the better part of the last half-century targeting young people who lack either (or both) the financial or cognitive means to secure a college education and/or non-lethal employment. Frankly, for many enlisted people the Army is going to provide more money, employable skills, and experience than any of their other options. While the average soldier on the ground is not a candidate for a MacArthur Grant, I sincerely doubt that they are less intellectually capable than the morons who populate most of civil society.

But as more and more people, namely reservists, who signed up under the assumption that they'd never have to serve in combat are doing just that, the stress of military life affects their family life. Never fear, though. The Army is here to teach you how to marry a supportive, obedient spouse who won't mind when your term of enlistment is involuntarily extended 3 times and you return to civilian life with a raft of physical and psychological problems.

Yes, finding a good military wife – er, spouse – is an art, not a science.

The folks over at NoJerks.com have perfected a program of "Premarital Interpersonal Choices and Knowledge (PICK)" that the Army is now paying to have presented to their young, impressionable, and apparently retarded troops. I'm not sure if the Army searched high and low to see if they could condescend the enlisted any more than they already have, but this might do it.

The cornerstone of their mate-hunting program is the "FACES" (they're big on acrostics, apparently) technique. The "F" stands for "Family Background and Childhood Experiences." So Lesson #1 – do a substantive background check on all potential spouses to weed out anyone who has red flags on their emotional credit report. A good military spouse will be one who doesn't show troubling signs of "needing you around" or "getting emotional when horrible things happen to you."

Do you get the feeling that the PICK program could save itself a lot of time and money by simply redirecting viewers to a dating site or database for good, quiet white Christian women with burning desires to be housewives?

If enlisted people are really so clueless that they need someone to sit down and explain (in a completely oversimplified manner) how to find a spouse, then the Army should be ashamed of itself for enlisting them in the first place. No one who needs to be told that "Compatibility" (that's the third part of FACES) is an important part of marriage should be armed. Period.

V-day: Last minute plans.

I love the Valentine's Day period, if only to see the endless "Let's advise the oafish husband on how to buy diamonds" television commericals, or to hear the pragmatic "women love this stuff, let us at Mega Jewelry Depot help you shovel it to them" talk radio commericals.

It's all seems so useless, when there is only one Valentine's Day event that needs to be observed: White Castle's Valentine's Day Romantic Dinner:

Make your Valentine’s Day STEAMY! Take your Valentine to White Castle on Tuesday, February 14 between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m and enjoy hostess seating, candlelit dining and your own server. Reservations are required, so check the list below for participating Castles near you!

And how. Check the link to see if a White Castle near you is participating. My love of all things White Castle has been well documented on this site, and this is my chance to take said love to the next level. God bless us everyone.


"Keeping America competitive requires affordable energy. And here we have a serious problem: America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world. The best way to break this addiction is through technology…Breakthroughs on this and other new technologies will help us reach another great goal: to replace more than 75 percent of our oil imports from the Middle East by 2025." – 2006 State of the Union Address

Generations of the future, bear this in mind when you write the histories of these current times: President Bush is great at playing this game of three card monte – first he shows you the Free Market card, and when you aren't paying attention he replaces it with the Crony Capitalism card.

How are we going to fight our addiction to oil? The New York Times reports that our first step will be to give away royalties on $65 billion dollars worth of gas in the next five years. The article traces the exploitation by the Department of the Interior of a plan Clinton put into effect a decade ago to encourage high-risk oil exploration when oil prices were too low to justify the cost. Who knew that overhauling our energy polices overlapped so well with giving pork-lined handouts to campaign contributors?

There are any number of problems with this oil addiction talk and royalties incentive policy, both in the abstract and on the ground. An oil addiction is a problem, but it's only a problem if you use words like "global warming" or even "conservation." It's not a problem because of "unstable parts of the world." Considering that the top two exporters of oil to the US are Mexico and Canada and that the price of oil is set globally (so Saudi Arabia will just sell it's oil to India and China, being no worse off from our boycott), I don't see the global jihad getting worried about SUV hybrids. Also, if the plan "let's fight an oil addiction by drilling for more oil" strikes you as the same thought process of "I'm going to fight my obesity problem by buying bigger pants", there's a good reason for that.

And of course this handout means that the Bush team feels that record global demand and record high prices for a product requires government intervention to provide incentives for supply – that the market doesn't do that itself and the Bush team needs to offer some carrots. And that's just to start. Of course this all assumes that the Bush team is actually trying to build a stable, rational policy agenda here, instead of just raiding whatever offices they can with patronage jobs and looting the coffers for handouts to their former (and presumably future) employers. But that's not what's up, right?

Knowing how to Quit somebody.

Ever dedicated to the fine art of helping clockwatchers finish out their Friday afternoon, ginandtacos.com brings you this week's Friday poll: Which is the better (you are free to determine the grounds of "better") parody video:

Brokeback Squadron


Brokeback to the Future

These parodies writes themselves. Leave your vote, with an optional justification, in the comments section.


So when George W. Bush throws a complete non-sequitur like "And that's why I need Congress to give me a line-item veto" into the State of the Union Address it perfectly crystallizes my opinion of his tenure in office.

One of two things must be true in this situation. Either Bush is A) ignorant of the fact that the line-item veto was just declared unconstitutional in 1998 or B) he realizes this and simply doesn't care.

So which is he, arrogant or ignorant? I'm afraid I don't see a third way here.