AMATEUR NIGHT

Posted in Quick Hits on December 31st, 2008 by Ed

The CotY series took a lot out of me so you don't get much of a post today. My sole relevant comment about the impending holiday is that I have never been a huge fan of New Year's Eve. It is Amateur Night, the one night per year on which people who never go out and can't hold their liquor decide to go out and attempt to hold a lot of liquor. It has never been my dream to be killed in an auto accident by some 43 year old from the suburbs who got shitcanned on three Appletini's at TGI Friday's and decided to drive the minivan home. Plus, the added social pressure of doing something really super fun on this evening only lessens the chances of super fun actually being had.

2008 COCKSUCKER OF THE YEAR: NORM COLEMAN

Posted in Rants on December 30th, 2008 by Ed

Norm badgeIt was a banner year for assholes. It would take one gigantic cocksucker to claw his or her way over the likes of Hank Paulson, the Palins, Liddy Dole, Ted Stevens, Rod Blagojevich, "Hot Karl" Rove, Joe the Plumber, both Clintons, and more political strategists, campaign managers, and pundits than we can count. Is there any person out there who feels able to answer the call, to remove the Excalibur Dildo from the stone and become its master?

The chair recognizes the Senator from Minnesota.

Norm Coleman spent 2008 with his hands wrapped around Dignity's throat, eventually forcing its head underwater until the bubbles stopped rising. For a man who once lost a gubernatorial race to the pro wrestler who carried the minigun in Predator, it is practically inconceivable that he could go downhill from there. Like a 16th Century explorer, Coleman decided that the only way to find out if an elected official's career could get any worse was to provision some wooden ships, crew them with a few hundred stout men, and set sail for the edge of the map.

Coleman, widely recognized to be one of the most humorless puds on the planet (and one who looks strangely like the offspring of John Kerry and a yardstick), decided that the way to compete with comedian and former SNL writer Al Franken was to out-funny him with cute campaign ads. Rather than striking a serious tone to make Franken look like an amateurish joke candidate, Coleman managed to make himself look like the amateur. In a thousand years scientists may understand how a United States Senator managed to look rinky-dink in a race against a smug comedian, but for the moment we remain baffled.

Among his many ads attempting to be funny, the pièce de résistance of Coleman's idiocy was one entitled "Why Not?" The ad features three actors playing dipshit slobs in bowling shirts (you know, the condescending caricature of how six-figure DC political consultants see "average voters") discussing Franken's many failings in a ridiculously affected and overdone "Superfans" accent. That's how we dress and how we talk! The commercial ends with the alpha-Grabowski suggesting that they run for Senate themselves…why not? They're just as qualified as Franken!!! It's not the most offensive ad you'll ever see, but it sets a new mark for inanity which may not soon be equalled.

Coleman's campaign is perfectly represented in his ads, a mixture of mouth-frothing attacks and attempts at humor which appear to have been conceived, approved, and executed by a council of stroke patients. One commercial break might feature "Angry Al", painting Franken as an unstable, profane lunatic while the next break would bring the cloying Leave it to Beaver comedy of "Got It," which may be the first ad to close with an image of the candidate hunching over a garbage can. In a remarkable synthesis of the two styles, Coleman sunk to new depths in "Excuses", in which an 8 year-old girl clutching a teddy bear hurls insults at Franken before closing with a "My dog ate it" joke. A sampling of Coleman's advertisements leave open the very serious question of whether or not he has ever met another human being.

Running the kind of campaign that makes Americans hate politics so goddamn much, one that simultaneously insults their intelligence and bombards them with vile rhetoric, is nothing new. It's certainly not enough to win a nondescript political figure the CotY. However, what Coleman did after Election Day elevated him from mere ass clown to the rarefied air of the legitimate cocksucker.

Let's say you play a basketball game and at the end of four quarters the score is tied. Do we play overtime or does one team simply demand that the other concede defeat? If you're Norm Coleman, and perhaps only if you're Norm Coleman, the latter is the correct choice. Faced with an almost incomprehensibly close outcome on Election Eve, Coleman simply declared victory even though Minnesota law mandates an automatic recount in the unlikely event of a race this close. He indignantly demanded that his opponent waive "his right" to a recount to – get this – to save the taxpayers the cost of re-counting the ballots. Those fiscal conservatives! Note well that it isn't the candidate's "right" that produces recounts; it's the voters' right and the state's right and responsibility to make sure that we figure out who actually won the goddamn election. Semantics, of course.

Once the recount got underway Coleman really reached into his bag of Asshole, instantly transforming from a nondescript, robotic putz into the incarnation of Nixonian paranoia coupled with right-wing Talk Radio fury. When Franken gained votes in the recount Coleman's leeches helpfully noted that it was producing "improbable shifts that are overwhelmingly accruing to the benefit of Al Franken." The Secretary of State is a Democrat, proving indisputably and for all time that the process is overwhelmingly slanted to Franken's benefit. Campaign lawyer and professional jagoff Fritz Knaak knoted that the integrity of the process had been "breached" and that "the supercharged environment we're in leads us to suspect everything." Nixon would be proud. Knaak and Coleman concocted one baseless charge after another, including the infamous "ballots in the car" story that led Bill O'Reilly to confidently claim "the fix is in" long after Knaak, Coleman, and Gov. Pawlenty admitted that it was not true.

Like all people who go too far in politics, Coleman's party eventually turned on him. Gov. Pawlenty took to the talk shows defending the integrity of the recount and rebuking Coleman for "throwing gasoline on the fire" of the Talk Radio histrionics. One of Minnesota's most prominent right-leaning newspapers editorialized:

It's hard to believe we're writing this, but it's clear that Franken – known for his over-the-top humor and partisan antics – is the one acting with class in this serious situation. Voters, indeed, deserve to know the outcome of a recount. It's not up to those who may or may not be the winner.

With Franken in the lead Coleman did exactly as we would expect by taking his fight to court. While the merits of his legal argument are outside of my jurisdiction, the fact remains that the courts' rulings in Coleman's favor have not put him back in the lead. He will continue to drag the race out into 2009, making it likely that Congress will be sworn in before the outcome is known in Minnesota.

What a year, Norm. What? There's MORE? Yeah, apparently this fucker is as corrupt as a cheap hard drive.

CREW named him one of the most corrupt men in Congress after it was revealed that he lived rent-free in Washington on the tab of a Republican consultant who has been paid almost $2 million from Coleman's PAC and, in a completely unrelated hiring decision, who hired Coleman's wife as a "consultant" to the tune of $101,000. Not salacious enough for you? Well, now the FBI is on Coleman like glue over allegations and hard evidence that an Iranian millionaire (I'm not making this up) from Bloomington, MN named Nasser Kazeminy used an offshore oil drilling company called Deep Marine Technology to funnel $75,000 to Coleman through Hays Insurance, a company whose employees consist of…Coleman's wife (who, I shit you not, invented and markets something called the "Blo & Go"). The Deep Marine CEO and shareholders blew the whistle, telling the FBI that no insurance or services were rendered by Hays. Coincidentally, and much to the delight of the wealthy investor behind a drilling company called Deep Marine Technology, Coleman introduced a bill in the Senate on June 12 calling for more offshore drilling in US waters.

Norm Coleman, holy shit. You are one enormous cocksucker. You managed to excel at being lame, condescending, dirty, hysterical, paranoid, and crooked all in the span of a few months. Most people (Blagojevich for example) can only handle one at a time. And Norm, if you think that I am about to make a joke based on the phrase "handle more than one at a time" in an essay about how much wang you suck, well, unlike your campaign ads I tend to work a bit harder than that for comedy. Congratulations, 2008 CotY Norm Coleman. May your trip home from Washington and, eventually, into Federal prison be a smooth one.

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2008 CotY SILVER MEDAL: BILL KRISTOL

Posted in Rants on December 29th, 2008 by Ed

This was a bad year for people named "Bill."

Bill Kristol has always been a smirking jackass with a record of making claims unrelated to fact and predictions as accurate as the average $2.99/min phone psychic. This year, however, he left the sheltered fantasy world of the right-wing print media and took his idiocy to the New York Times. A weekly gig with the Grey Lady put a stamp of mainstream legitimacy on Kristol's fact-free brand of commentary. Unfortunately for Bill it also took away his home field advantage. He would be exposed to an audience that would actually care if his incessant, off-cuff predictions turned out to be wrong every week and a publication that would check his facts. The world waited to see if Kristol could make himself a real commentator rather than a print version of Rush Limbaugh. Was he up to the challenge?

No. No he wasn't. He brought the same old shit to a medium that was unequivocally uninterested in putting up with his shit.

Kristol misattributed a quote in his very first NYT column, something that would earn a sophomore journalism student an F and a serious opprobrium. If there's anything more pitiful that quoting Michelle Malkin in a major publication it is misquoting Michelle Malkin in a major publication. Oh, and his welcome-to-the-big-leagues world premiere column in the Times (entitled "President Mike Huckabee?") also showcased his preternatural understanding of politics. Aside from the brilliant premise that Huckabee's campaign was going somewhere, the column opens with Kristol's first words as a Times author:

Thank you, Senator Obama. You’ve defeated Senator Clinton in Iowa. It looks as if you’re about to beat her in New Hampshire. There will be no Clinton Restoration.

If that isn't the most fitting and appropriate way to start his new gig, I don't know what is. His editors would need to bail him out again two months later when he based a column on an Obama anecdote that never happened. Correction #2. Before his job was six months old he necessitated a third correction with a double-whammy of errors on May 19th. Heckuva job, Billy.

Most of us would be satisfied to be a shitty journalist, unreadable columnist, and moronic pundit. Not Bill Kristol. In 2008 he decided that he is also a (shitty) political strategist. We are all familiar with the story of how a 2007 Neocon Love Boat cruise resulted in Sarah Palin becoming Kristol's project, protege, and bright hope for the future of conservatism. While it may be an overstatement to claim that Kristol is responsible for McCain's choice of Palin, it wouldn't be entirely wrong either. He was at the very least her talent scout and salesman, using her name in an astounding 57 Weekly Standard pieces in the next year. Having convinced the flagging GOP to accept Palin, he publicly masturbated about her for weeks without disclosing his role in her selection. He noted that gas prices would immediately fall when the grateful world heard of her nomination and that she reminded him an awful lot of FDR. He objectively covered her selection with a post-convention Times column entitled 'A Star is Born', a paean every bit as nauseating as the title leads one to believe. After her televised campaign to convince the electorate that she is the biggest idiot on the planet succeeded Kristol proved to be a loyal dead-ender, defending her to the death and accusing the McCain campaign of mishandling its amazing asset. Everyone was to blame for the trainwreck except the conductor.

Kristol's gig with the Times represents the worst, most cynical kind of tokenism among legitimate media outlets. "Fairness" and "objectivity" require that at least one person must be kept around to represent the conservative "viewpoint" – not to make logical arguments or deal in facts, just to represent the opinions of the talk radio crowd. If Kristol was the paper's effort to move beyond tokenism and add a real, serious, intellectual conservative in the mold of Buckley or Safire it is difficult to overstate how overwhelmingly the plan failed. He humiliated himself and his paper, although it can be argued quite easily that the latter got exactly what it deserved. Wrong-about-everything conservative columnists are abundant. Bill Kristol separated himself from the pack, sucking just a few extra inches, by deciding that he was the new kingmaker of the conservative movement. A person can be a token right-wing windbag at a major newspaper without being right about anything. The same cannot be said for the role of political Godfather, a fact that Bill and the people who took his advice failed to appreciate with predictably disastrous results.

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2008 CotY BRONZE MEDAL: BILL CLINTON

Posted in Rants on December 28th, 2008 by Ed

It's possible that I'm being too harsh on our 42nd President. Surely one could cite many more egregious examples of cocksuckery in 2008. But the fact is that certain people have grown tiresome as targets of derision. Like a historian would grow weary of discussing Hitler in response to "Who was the worst person of the 20th Century?" I am similarly unenthusiastic about pointing out for the billionth time that Bush, Cheney, O'Reilly, Lieberman, Hannity, and so on are cocksuckers. I would be one lazy bastard (and you probably would not bother to read this site) if I sat here and wrote that Michelle Malkin is real stupid and Bill O'Reilly does not often represent opposing viewpoints fairly. Come on.

So the Bronze Penis for 2008 goes to a man whose qualifications for the award were considerably more nuanced and quickly forgotten in the roiling wake of an Obama victory. It's a good thing that Barack Obama did not need Bill Clinton's help in this election because Willie made it abundantly clear that if Obama were on fire he would not walk across the street to piss on him and extinguish the flames.

Did Bill Clinton pull a Lieberman and actively crusade against his party's nominee? Of course not. You'd have a better chance of catching Bill having sex with his legally-recognized spouse than on the trail with Sarah Palin. Instead he engaged in what could only be described as an extended and remarkably juvenile fit of pouting after it became clear that his wife he would not be going back to the White House except as a potential dinner guest. He pouted because the entirety of Hillary's campaign was, in Bill's mind, about Bill.

He began the year by proving himself unworthy of the credit he received for moving politics beyond race in the 1990s when he explained away Barack Obama's primary victory in South Carolina by helpfully noting that Jesse Jackson also won South Carolina (wink wink!) in 1984 and 1988. He became the leading advocate of the Hillary campaign's desperate and Republicanesque persecution complex, arguing that the nomination (which rightfully belonged to her, of course) was stolen away by the evil, biased media and a new version of the vast right-wing conspiracy with Obama in the role of Kenneth Starr. He told voters that Obama didn't love his country nor was he committed to its interests. He urged his wife's campaign to hold out to the bitter end, to fight long past the point at which the nomination was obtainable outside of a courtroom because unknown, untested, vaguely foreign dark guy Barack Obama would be an unmitigated disaster for his party as the nominee and for the nation as President.

Once the Clinton camp finally admitted defeat, Bill's actions suggest that "team player" is not the best phrase we could use to describe him. His June 24th endorsement of the nominee, which came forth only after considerable media and party arm-twisting, was a one-sentence monument to ambivalence written by an unpaid intern:

President Clinton is obviously committed to doing whatever he can and is asked to do to ensure Senator Obama is the next President of the United States.

No, that isn't actually an endorsement, but it's what we had to work with. He could be cowed into making a press release but a real, honest-to-god public endorsement was months away. While stingy with his praise for Obama, he did find the time to give a speech lauding John McCain's "visionary" position on global warming and to excuse the Republican nominee's lame-assed proposal to postpone the presidential debates as being "in good faith." He got himself invited onto The View and Letterman to showcase his spectacular ability to "stump for" the nominee without using his name or praising him. Yes, such non-statements were the bitter pill our former President had to swallow in order to indulge his narcissistic obsession with being on national TV.

It was not until October – well past the point at which it would actually be useful in this election – that Bill truly stumped for Obama, using his popularity in Florida to campaign as a surrogate. He even made a joint campaign appearance with the nominee…six days before the election, timing that reeks more of grabbing the last available seat on a bandwagon than making a good-faith effort to help.

Bill's sudden change of heart in October is likely a result of two things. First, he had weeks – nay, months – to sit around and sulk about the outcome of the primaries. Presumably he got over it, at least a little bit. Second, and far more importantly, deals were no doubt cut with Hillary shortly before or during the Democratic Convention to give her a high-visibility Cabinet position. It wouldn't be as good as the White House, but it'd give Bill a reasonable excuse (and ample opportunity) to get his mug on the evening news with some regularity.

And that's really what 2008 was all about for Bill Clinton: a quest to circumvent the inconvenient Constitutional reality that he can no longer be the leader of the free world. He took his wife's defeat personally because he didn't see it as her defeat. It was his. He assumed that America shared his view of the arrangement, that we were voting for Hillary only because we couldn't do what we really wanted to, i.e. vote for him. We all know that he and his wife are in a cold, cynical marriage in which each sees the other solely as an avenue to power. He was her surrogate in the 1990s and now he was only too happy to reverse roles. Failing that, he wanted a Democratic nominee who would need him, who would count on him and his unparalleled popularity among middle-class voters to deliver a victory. A candidate who needed Bill would owe him big. But Bill got neither. His surrogate was defeated and the nominee readily supplanted the former President's role as Most Popular Democrat on Earth. Obama became what Bill Clinton has been for the past sixteen years – the name and face of the Democratic Party. Such a transition is natural and inevitable. It certainly needn't spell the end of Bill's public life and political influence. But as far as torch-passings go, Bill Clinton v.2008 left more than a little to be desired in the grace department and nothing to be desired in the cocksucking department.

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FILE UNDER "GOOD OMENS"

Posted in Quick Hits on December 26th, 2008 by Ed

I'll have more to say in the near future about the economic outlook for 2009, but let's go ahead and assume that it's a bad sign when state governments have to start asking Uncle Sam for emergency loans to pay unemployment benefits.

HEIL HONEY, I'M HOME!

Posted in No Politics Friday on December 24th, 2008 by Ed

No political bile for the holidays, just classic moments in the long history of horrendous ideas. Enjoy the sole surviving episode of the 1990 British sitcom Heil Honey, I'm Home! The plot places Adolf and his nagging sitcom wife Eva Braun in the role of Honeymooners-style suburbanites whose lives are turned topsy-turvy by the arrival of their new neighbors, Arnie and Rose Goldenstein. Amazingly, eight episodes were filmed and only one aired – all copies were thought to be destroyed until the pilot episode surfaced, hit the internet, and thus became property of mankind.

The show creator intended to satirize corny American sitcoms like Leave it to Beaver by using the lame jokes, insipid plots, and canned laughter, exacerbating the ridiculousness of it all by sticking Hitler in the lead. Trey Parker and Matt Stone used this same formula to some success a few years ago with That's My Bush. That didn't last long either, but at least it didn't star Hitler. Adolf and his Nazi companions are not exactly a rich source of comedy to the British.

The thing that offends me is that this simply isn't funny. I like TV-making-fun-of-TV, with Garth Marenghi's Darkplace currently filling the void in my heart left by Frisky Dingo's disappearance. But any way it gets sliced, Heil Honey is about as funny as pancreatic cancer. Like its successor That's My Bush, the only funny part about the show is the set-up – "Picture a sitcom, but with Hitler! Ha ha!" – leaving viewers bored stiff after 30 seconds when the effect of the Big Gag wears off.

We all know that I like offensive, off-color comedy. Two out of three won't do.

WELL, OTHER THAN THAT…

Posted in Rants on December 22nd, 2008 by Ed

If there is one kind of film I categorically loathe it is blatant Oscar bait. The Thanksgiving-to-Christmas season is jam packed with such films annually. Yes, there are some truly great films released during the month or two before the Academy picks a crop of winners, and many films that win Oscars are in fact deserving of recognition. But there are also ham-fisted, cynical efforts churned out by studios lacking a "serious" film upon which awards can be bestowed and hoping that sentimental tripe involving handicapped people or people imprisoned/wrongly accused of crimes will do the trick. Some of the worst offenders include cinematic vomit like I Am Sam, The Green Mile, Pay It Forward, Love in the Time of Cholera, or The Life of David Gale.

In recent years, though, the criteria for individual acting Oscar-bait has slightly broadened. It now encompasses not only Convict or the Handicapped but also Gay. Boys Don't Cry and Brokeback Mountain both softened up the Academy to the point that we can now annually expect some Very Serious Film from some Very Shitty Studio about a heroic, slightly messianic LGBT Character who, from the studio's perspective, preferably gets murdered. In a couple years I fully expect to see one of the fucking Jonas Brothers starring in The Matthew Shepard Story.

I guess by this point you can tell that I am not going to be watching Milk for a number of reasons. First, Sean Penn's face looks like an ape's puckered red asshole. Second, Mr. Penn cannot act to save his soul and has already stolen an Oscar for the revolting Mystic River. Third, the story of Harvey Milk, American Hero and Martyr, delightfully tiptoes around the fact that the Great Man owed much credit for his election to Jim Jones and the People's Temple, an organization that Milk spent his elected career protecting and enthusiastically supporting.

The excellent PBS production Jonestown: Life and Death of the Peoples Temple details how Reverend Jim's flock provided thousands of person-hours of labor to the campaigns of Milk, Moscone, and then-Assemblyman Willie Brown, later the mayor of San Fran. Some sources go as far as to credit the Temple's three thousand registered voters for being directly responsible for Milk's electoral success in 1976.

In return Milk regularly spoke glowingly of the Temple and spoke at public rallies with the Reverend in addition to regular columns in the Peoples Forum, the cult's newspaper. He was no mere opportunistic politician, as many of his biographers attempt to depict him if they mention the issue at all, but a personal devotee of Jones. After one Temple visit he wrote a personal letter to Jones stating,

Rev Jim, It may take me many a day to come back down from the high that I reach today. I found something dear today. I found a sense of being that makes up for all the hours and energy placed in a fight. I found what you wanted me to find. I shall be back. For I can never leave.

On the evening before Jones was to be exposed by investigative journalist Marshall Kilduff of the Chronicle, the Reverend and his flock fled the long arm of the law into the jungles of Guyana. Political allies sprinted away from Jones like rats on a sinking ship. Not Milk, though. He wrote a letter to Jimmy Carter protesting the government's investigations into the Temple and its leader, a "man of the highest character." Of the relatives working with Congressman Leo Ryan (soon to be murdered in Guyana) Milk wrote that they were opportunists attempting to "damage (Jones') reputation with bald-faced lies." Within a few months Ryan, Milk, and nearly everyone in Jonestown would be dead, all for very different reasons.

Harvey Milk was obviously a brave man, someone who did as all individuals should do. He proudly stood up for himself and refused to accept second-class treatment or apologize for who he was. He drew attention with both his life and his death to the shoddy, often violent treatment that gay and lesbian people receive at the hands of the police, elected officials, and garden variety bigots. I applaud Gus Van Sant and the film for making even one viewer think about homophobia, discrimination, and the violence it inspires.

What I can't swallow is the lack of context, the rush to canonize Milk the Character to make the film a more appealing slice of Oscar bait. A film that purports to tell the true story of a man should not feel free to edit out the parts that get in the way of tear-harvesting the audience. The film certainly follows the pack, though. An exhibit at the Gay Historical Society is unironically called "Saint Harvey." A decent author or filmmaker can handle a three-dimensional character, one who is a bastard sometimes in addition to being heroic. Shitty filmmakers have to rely on hackneyed caricatures who either parade around in glowing halos or are comically evil.

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BIPARTISANSHIP: IT'S FOR STUPIDS

Posted in Election 2008, Rants on December 22nd, 2008 by Ed

Americans have a soft spot for certain narratives – the Horatio Alger luck-pluck-diligence success stories, small children with terminal illnesses, and, in politics, bipartisanship. Isn't it great when everyone joins hands and gets along? Aren't there some issues on which we are all united in the national interest, the usual partisan bickering and dilatory points-of-order temporarily cast aside?

Certain politicians attempt to use the public's soft spot for reaching across the aisle to their electoral advantage. Two such politicians ran for president in 2008. One of them lost. The other won and is well on his way to proving exactly why I refused to get even momentarily excited about him as a candidate. One of the big reasons I declined to vote in the very competitive primary was a nagging feeling that both paths led to four or eight years of "centrist" New Democrat horseshit. The President-elect gives every indication of assuming the post-Civil Rights era Democratic Party's accustomed role as the battered wife of American politics, assiduously sucking up to their abusive partner in the vain hope that someday the kindness will be repaid. Woefully premature FDR comparisons and messianic zeal among Obama's faithful will quickly turn to disillusionment as the figure they elected starts to look a lot more like Harry Reid than FDR.

As a governing strategy, bipartisanship is for stupids. Post-Gingrich Republicans in Congress have only one goal upon waking each morning: find out what the majority Democrats want to do and say no. Say no procedurally, publicly, and with their votes. Delay, obstruct, distract. Obama's presidency will be no different than Clinton's, which is to say it will be one phony "scandal" after another cooked up by the minority party and dutifully dispersed via the talk radio airwaves. And yet time and time again the Democrats allow themselves to be victimized, and in fact encourage it, by "reaching out" in a show of solidarity to keep the GOP in the loop.

As the minority, the Democrats rolled over for every single major decision of the Bush administration (Authorization for the use of force in Iraq, the Patriot Act, Telecom immunity, Alito, Roberts) while offering nothing beyond token opposition. Think the minority Republicans in Congress will be returning the favor in the next few years, supplicating themselves and getting in line behind President Obama? Yeah, me neither. Think the baffling decision to leave the Department of Defense to a Bush stay-behind soldier and the State Department to Hillary "Remember how my husband's schizophrenic foreign policy of interventionism with zero resolve was a recipe for disaster" Clinton will pay off? Yeah, me neither. Think he's going to win over the lunatic Christian fringe by reaching out to Rick Warren and his kind? Yeah, me neither. Think the Cheney-endorsed national security team is going to produce meaningful Change? Yeah, me neither.

Touched by the let's-all-get-along attitude from the incoming President, Congressional Republicans are reminding the backbenchers that "the duty of the opposition party is to oppose." Translation: sharpen the talons. Get ready to block appointments and scuttle the ship. Run the government even further into the ground so that the GOP may arise in 2010 and 2012 to say "See? Look how much worse things are…"

In the end Obama, like the party he represents, will attempt bipartisan governing for the same reasons as always: because it's the "right thing to do" and to "change the tone in Washington." It is the right thing to do, of course. But like so many other examples from our lives, in politics doing the right thing correlates strongly with getting torn apart by the amoral throat-cutters on the lookout for honest people of whom to take advantage.

SWM SEEKING FUTURE VICTIMS

Posted in No Politics Friday on December 19th, 2008 by Ed

If Hannidate is just too liberal (or not quite enough of a sausage party) for you, relax. There is another dating service that can meet your needs. Head on over to TheAtlasphere.com - the premier dating site for Ayn Rand acolytes around the world – and take your pick of thousands of men who will probably chloroform you, cut off your legs, and do unspeakable things to your person. On the first date. A date which, not coincidentally, will not only be his first with you but possibly his first ever.

Here is a nice sample of TheAtlasphere's finer moments. My personal favorite is Lewis from London, a charming lad who notes:

I love intelligent, sassy girls, particularly those working in consulting or investment banking (but other fields are great too). Really, nothing is hotter than an accomplished girl in a suit, as long as she is willing to settle down and have my children. I want a girl who will support my ambitions against the naysayers in society.

How has some young lady not yet snapped you up, Lewis? Then again, if Drew Peterson can reel in wife number five, I suppose Lewis is something of a catch.

(Thanks Matthew and Sylvia!)

CIRCLE ALL THE THINGS WRONG WITH THIS

Posted in Election 2008, Rants on December 18th, 2008 by Ed

While Christmas shopping for my favorite little people I encountered a children's book that must be seen to be believed. It rivals Scouting for Boys and the culinary classic Cooking with Pooh in the pantheon of great moments in children's literature. I present John McCain: An American Life.


Believe it or not, I began looking through it because I was going to buy it. Little John and Lucy went to a McCain rally in September and, regardless of my feelings about the respective candidates, I would sort of like it if the kids thought elections were cool. I could get behind a book about the candidate written at the level of a kindergarten or first-grade audience. You know, "This is John McCain, a very brave man who was in the Navy. He is running for President, and Americans will use their right to vote to decide if he is the best person for the job." I anticipated a lot of pictures of his family, talk about his hobbies, and, well, the kind of material appropriate for a four year-old. And in case you have never been around a four year-old, appropriate reading material usually involves talking mice, dinosaurs, and cartoon characters. This makes a book about politics a hard sell, but clearly there is a way the book could be written to connect to a just-learning-to-read audience.

The best way I can describe what actually appeared in the book would be a snuff film hastily edited to get a G rating from the MPAA. The book covered, in both text and pictures, his divorce from his first wife, being tortured by the Viet Cong, his grotesque injuries from being shot down, and the 150 people who burned to death on an aircraft carrier after an accident involving McCain's plane. Oh, and who could forget the pictures of bombs falling in Vietnamese villages – with additional pictures of the post-bombing carnage.

Mommy, what's a divorce? What's torture? What was the Vietnam War? Why are those people on fire?

I am unaware of what if any involvement the McCain campaign had with this train wreck. It is almost inconceivable that someone near McCain read this and gave it the green light. Perhaps because the Senator's children are all adults now he has lost perspective about what is or is not kindergarten-appropriate. Or maybe being four years old in the McCain household is a really intense experience. For most parents the gap between Stuart Little Has a Picnic and the My Lai massacre in their child's reading development is about a decade long. Three generations of military McCains might have condensed that to about 6 months.

Of course there are children's books written about Obama as well, and once again I'm not critical of the idea of this book. It is the end result, the execution of the idea, that baffles me. The book succeeds only in answering the age-old question of what it would look like if R. Lee Ermey and Curtis LeMay wrote a children's book.