Sunday, April 30, 2006

Stephen Colbert: Genius

The former Daily Show correspondent and current host of The Colbert Report hosted the annual White House Correspondents' Association Dinner. The dinner is a black-tie event that brings out the rich and powerful in DC and the fawning sycophants who "report" on them. The dinner also has, as one of its few redeeming features, entertainment. Since I've been paying attention, the entertainment (with the exception of 2003) has always been a comedian, though I understand that Ella Fitzgerald performed for Kennedy back in the day, and singers were common in the 1960's and early 1970's. Anyway, as noted, Stephen Colbert was the featured entertainer last night.

And holy Jesus. He tore Bush a new one. If you haven't seen The Colbert Report, it's a really funny show. Colbert assumes a Bill O'Reilly-like persona; he badgers guests, asks leading questions, and is generally a shill for the administration, all the while proclaiming his independence and integrity. So, yeah. It's like Bill O'Reilly, but everyone admits it's a joke. Colbert stayed in character last night while hosting the dinner. And, well, just look at this Editor & Publisher report:
A blistering comedy “tribute” to President Bush by Comedy Central’s faux talk show host Stephen Colbert at the White House Correspondent Dinner Saturday night left George and Laura Bush unsmiling at its close.

Earlier, the president had delivered his talk to the 2700 attendees, including many celebrities and top officials, with the help of a Bush impersonator.

Colbert, who spoke in the guise of his talk show character, who ostensibly supports the president strongly, urged the Bush to ignore his low approval ratings, saying they were based on reality, “and reality has a well-known liberal bias.”

He attacked those in the press who claim that the shake-up at the White House was merely re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. “This administration is soaring, not sinking,” he said. “If anything, they are re-arranging the deck chairs on the Hindenburg.”

Colbert told Bush he could end the problem of protests by retired generals by refusing to let them retire. He compared Bush to Rocky Balboa in the “Rocky” movies, always getting punched in the face—“and Apollo Creed is everything else in the world.”

Turning to the war, he declared, "I believe that the government that governs best is a government that governs least, and by these standards we have set up a fabulous government in Iraq."

He noted former Ambassador Joseph Wilson in the crowd, just three tables away from Karl Rove, and that he had brought " Valerie Plame." Then, worried that he had named her, he corrected himself, as Bush aides might do, "Uh, I mean... he brought Joseph Wilson's wife." He might have "dodged the bullet," he said, as prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald wasn't there.

Colbert also made biting cracks about missing WMDs, “photo ops” on aircraft carriers and at hurricane disasters, melting glaciers and Vice President Cheney shooting people in the face. He advised the crowd, "if anybody needs anything at their tables, speak slowly and clearly on into your table numbers and somebody from the N.S.A. will be right over with a cocktail. "

Observing that Bush sticks to his principles, he said, "When the president decides something on Monday, he still believes it on Wednesday - no matter what happened Tuesday."

Also lampooning the press, Colbert complained that he was “surrounded by the liberal media who are destroying this country, except for Fox News. Fox believes in presenting both sides of the story — the president’s side and the vice president’s side." He also reflected on the alleged good old days, when the media was still swallowing the WMD story.

Addressing the reporters, he said, "Let's review the rules. Here's how it works. The president makes decisions, he’s the decider. The press secretary announces those decisions, and you people of the press type those decisions down. Make, announce, type. Put them through a spell check and go home. Get to know your family again. Make love to your wife. Write that novel you got kicking around in your head. You know, the one about the intrepid Washington reporter with the courage to stand up to the administration. You know--fiction."

He claimed that the Secret Service name for Bush's new press secretary is "Snow Job."

Colbert closed his routine with a video fantasy where he gets to be White House Press Secretary, complete with a special “Gannon” button on his podium. By the end, he had to run from Helen Thomas and her questions about why the U.S. really invaded Iraq and killed all those people.

As Colbert walked from the podium, when it was over, the president and First Lady gave him quick nods, unsmiling, and handshakes, and left immediately.

Those seated near Bush told E&P's Joe Strupp, who was elsewhere in the room, that Bush quickly turned from an amused guest to an obviously offended target as Colbert’s comments brought up his low approval ratings and problems in Iraq.

Several veterans of past dinners, who requested anonymity, said the presentation was more directed at attacking the president than in the past. Several said previous hosts, like Jay Leno, equally slammed both the White House and the press corps.

“This was anti-Bush,” said one attendee. “Usually they go back and forth between us and him.” Another noted that Bush quickly turned unhappy, and left the dais shortly after while most seated near him, including Colbert and Snow, glad-handed the crowd. “You could see he stopped smiling about halfway through Colbert,” he reported.

After the gathering, Snow, while nursing a Heineken outside the Chicago Tribune reception, declined to comment on Colbert. “I’m not doing entertainment reviews,” he said. “I thought the president was great, though.”

Strupp, in the crowd during the Colbert routine, had observed that quite a few sitting near him looked a little uncomfortable at times, perhaps feeling the material was a little too biting--or too much speaking "truthiness" to power.

Asked by E&P after it was over if he thought he'd been too harsh, Colbert said, "Not at all." Was he trying to make a point politically or just get laughs? "Just for laughs," he said. He said he did not pull any material for being too strong, just for time reasons. (He later said the president told him "good job" when he walked off.)

Helen Thomas told Strupp her segment with Colbert was "just for fun."

In its report on the affair, USA Today asserted that some in the crowd cracked up over Colbert but others were "bewildered." Wolf Blitzer of CNN said he thought Colbert was funny and "a little on the edge."
Aww, did the little Boy King get his feelings hurt? Whaaaaa! Is Bush, in fact, a whiny-ass titty baby? That would appear to be the case.

Let's not forget that this is the same Boy King who, at the same event two years ago, mocked the fact that there had been no WMD found in Iraq. So fuck him. He got unhappy, and wanted to run home and cry? Too fucking bad.

Jesus, isn't this guy supposed to be a tough, macho (fake) cowboy? And he can't take someone talking a little shit? How you gonna spin that?

Thanks to Tara for the link.

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Saturday, April 29, 2006

George W. Bush: Idiot

I know, I know. This comes as no surprise to anyone.

However, I'd like to know how anyone could stop at Fayard's BP on Pass Road and not come away with a famous "dressed and pressed" po-boy. Shit, who don't love a fried oyster po-boy? And at such a price?

In fact, why the hell else would anyone stop at Fayard's BP? I can't think of a reason. But the Dipshit-in-Chief left without one.
After leaving the volunteer site, the jovial nature of the visit was broken for a couple of seconds while the president mingled inside Fayard's BP station on Pass Road. Outside the station, a cigarette-smoking customer pumped gas, but an alert Secret Service agent halted the safety threat by making the woman extinguish her smoke, seconds before Bush ambled out, without one of the station's trademark pressed po-boys.
Also, do I really need to comment on how fucking stupid it is that the President of the United States of America posed for a photo with puppies? Puppies?

Jesus. We are through the looking glass.

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Regarding New Orleans

As some of you know, and others don't, Jon and I are from around New Orleans. My old man and his family were from there; I spent quite a bit of time there as a kid. Jon's from Natchez, so New Orleans is the nearest big town for him.

And that place is fucked. How fucked? Well, the story is pretty rude. So who could tell it better than the Rude Pundit?

I hope he'll forgive me for quoting at length.
Fucked New Orleans:
New Orleans is fucked, yes, it is true, and it needs to be said again and again. New Orleans is fucked because rabid right wing Republicans run the federal government, and all the rabid right wing knows is destruction and denial. Social Security, massive housing programs, Medicare, man on the goddamn moon, all done or initiated under Democrats. Interstate highway system, under Ike, no miserable attack dog conservative. And look at the one attempt at something constructive by the Bush administration, the fucked Medicare prescription drug program. Yeah, New Orleans is fucked for the White House and its lackeys in Congress simply have no idea how to accomplish anything that doesn't involve blowing shit up, tearing shit down, or telling people to sit down and shut up.

New Orleans is fucked, yeah, you know it, because its sewers are fucked. Big damn Katrina ripped up those old sewage collection pipes, 5000 miles of 'em, and took down treatment plants. And since Americans generally enjoy the privilege of shitting in toilets that flush, you can't rebuild a community if there's no place for its shit to go. It's gonna cost another billion or so to make sure that New Orleanians aren't just dumpin' raw or semi-raw sewage into the mighty Mississippi River. And any money from, say, utilities is flowing in the same direction because, well, no toilets means no people means no one paying the water bill.

New Orleans is fucked, in ways large and small, because the judicial system is in shambles. There's seven public defenders where there used to be 42. There's no money 'cause the money came from parking tickets and there's no money comin' from that 'cause, well, no people means no cars means less tickets, and the city's legal office that used to represent the poor or 85% of New Orleans defendants "is barely standing. It hasn't received a nickel from traffic court since before Katrina."

New Orleans is fucked, so very fucked, because it "has lost 77 percent of its primary-care doctors, 70 percent of its dentists, and 89 percent of its psychiatrists." So in a city filled with crazy sick people with rotting teeth before Katrina, now there's hardly anyone available should you wish to be sane, safe and shiny-toothed. And if you get shot? Damn, man, you better hope you know basic surgery. (Let's not even get into the nightmare of New Orleans in the summer, with the late spring mosquito explosion and the insane heat.)

No matter where you look, the signs are there about how fucked New Orleans really, truly is. For the levees will not be ready for this hurricane season. And even if they are supposedly back to strength, fuck the Army Corps of Engineers: the earth itself might just make sure the levees fail, with a geologic fault, assisted by oil drilling and wetlands loss, upping the chances of more catastrophe. Oh, and three of the drainage pumps, the ones that get rid of flood waters, caught fire after a little rainstorm. They may be up and running by June.

In New Orleans yesterday, his arm around a prop black woman, President Bush declared, "I told the Governor and the Mayor earlier on that we would work to have these levees pre-Katrina -- better than pre-Katrina by June 1st," barely even blinking because lies come to him as naturally as drool on the chins of babies. Over in Slidell, a FEMA trailer blew up because of a leaky propane line, killing one person and destroying the rest of their belongings. It's the second trailer explosion in the area.

New Orleans is fucked because, a few days ago, Secretary of Housing Alphonso Jackson declared, "Only the best residents should return" to the public housing projects of the city, like "[t]hose who paid rent on time, those who held a job and those who worked." So if you were, say, unemployed or were late with the rent, that means for Alphonso Jackson that you are not one of the "best" and you shouldn't get to live in government housing, which was established for, among others, people who didn't have jobs or were unable to pay the rent. And the fine, fine New Orleans projects, crime-ridden, underbuilt, underpoliced shitholes, have residents begging to get back to their decimated homes because some home is better than none.

In New Orleans the President said, "We've got a strategy to help the good folks down here rebuild. Part of it has to do with funding; part of it has to do with housing; and a lot of it has to do with encouraging volunteers from around the United States," which is code for saying, "You're on your own, motherfuckers." Jazz Fest is gonna be a blast this year.

(The most pathetic thing is that this is only scratching the surface. Georgia10 at DailyKos has more.)
That's a pretty good start for explaining the situation. And you do want to click through that last link.

I would say one thing, though. I know the levees are probably not going to be done by the start of hurricane season. And, even if they are done, they'll only be to pre-Katrina levels.

But the chance of a catastrophic hurricane happening in June or early July is pretty fucking small. The Gulf of Mexico isn't warm enough by then (usually) to provide enough fuel to the monster storms. So, just because levee construction will still be going on on June 2 isn't enough reason to hit the panic button.

However, the problem is that we haven't even begun the process of building levees big and strong enough to keep a Katrina-sized (or larger) hurricane from destroying New Orleans again. It'll be years and fucking years before we get those in place.

And, in case you were wondering, yes. New Orleans is very necessary. You don't think that a port city is a necessity at the mouth of the biggest river in the continent? You don't think that all the farmers in the Midwest and the Ohio valley need some place to ship their grain and soybeans and corn? You don't think that the petroleum industry absolutely needs the city of New Orleans? New Orleans is, after all, the impossible but inevitable city (in the unforgettable phrasing of Peirce Lewis). We, as a country, need New Orleans. And not just for the commerical and strategic reasons. We need it because we need the French Creole city with its obvious French heritage, but also with its Spanish, Igbo, Kongo, Irish, Slavic, and Vietnamese influences, among many others. We need Commander's Palace and Jacques-Imo's. We need the Preservation Hall, we need Dejean's Olympia Brass Band. We need St. Louis and St. Augustine. This city is part of America. We should no more abandon it than we should D.C. or New York. America would be a much poorer place without New Orleans.

Of course, we seem to be completely writing off the Mississippi Gulf Coast, but hey--that's to be expected, right?

And that's a story for another day.

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Friday, April 28, 2006

Oh so you wanna talk food, do you

I too will be cooking on saturday, but I will be outside grilling for lots of beer drinking men and watching the NFL draft (wish you were here Jude). Draft starts at 12 noon, so grill should get going at 11, bloody marys around 10 am.

The fun thing about my grilling is that I live in an apartment building with no yard. Of course in Boston you can't grill within 20 or 30 feet (I forget the exact distance) of a building. Luckily I live right at a dead end which is on the Brookline/Allston line. Solution: block party. That right, grill gets set up in the street, everybody brings their booze and we party all day.

All my boston friends who read this are welcome to attend. I'll be doing it up Argyle-style on the grill (see below). Hopple will have burgers and dogs, etc.

Jon's Sweet-Hot Glazed Pork Loin

5-6 lbs. Pork Tenderloin, trimmed
1 8 oz. can of chipotle peppers, chopped but NOT seeded
1-1.5 cups of pure maple syrup
0.5 cups of good dijon mustard
dash of soy sauce
juice of 1-2 limes
salt and pepper to taste

Marinate the pork in the other ingredients overnight, coating well and covering. Grill over low heat for about an hour and a half (depending on the size of the pork loin).


Thursday, April 27, 2006

More Cooking

So it looks like I'll be cooking for Aly again this weekend. I can't think of too many other ways I'd rather spend a Saturday. What's for the eats? Why baked ziti, of course. It's good stuff. And I finally wrote up a recipe. Which I will now share with you, our loyal readers.

Jude’s Ass-Kicking Baked Ziti

Pots and shit:

13” x 9” Pyrex baking dish
3 quart or larger saucepan
7 quart or larger stockpot for cooking pasta
Wooden spoons (as always)
Chef’s knife
Cutting board
Cheese grater
Big-ass mixing bowl

For the sauce:

Olive oil
1 lb bulk Italian sausage (sweet or spicy, your call)
½ medium onion, diced
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
1 28 oz. can (or 2 14 oz. cans) diced tomatoes, drained (I like Muir Glen, no salt added)
½ teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
½ teaspoon dried basil, crushed
1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
Pinch red pepper flakes
Black pepper
1-2 teaspoons kosher salt (or less, if you like less)

For the pasta:

1 lb cut ziti (I like Barilla)
1 Tablespoon salt
At least one gallon of water
Olive oil

And the cheese:

1 lb fresh mozzarella (the kind packed in water is the absolute best)—cube half, thinly slice the other half
½ cup fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano (please get fresh and grate it yourself—that shit out of the can is beyond wretched, and any pre-grated stuff isn’t great, either)

Now get cooking, fool

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Do you have a thermometer to check? You should, ya dumb bastard.

Cook the pasta al dente, in liberally salted water, as per the directions on the package. Drain and rinse to keep from cooking any further. Toss with a little bit of olive oil to keep it from sticking. Set aside.

Start the sauce. Heat about 2 Tbsp. olive oil in your saucepan over medium-high heat. A nice, heavy saucepan is what you want. That cheap, light shit isn’t worth fucking with. The heavier, the better. When your pan is nice and hot, add your red pepper flakes and 1 lb. of sausage. Break it up with your wooden spoon. What’s that? You don’t have wooden spoons? Jesus. What’s wrong with you? For those of you who aren’t foolish, break up the sausage with your wooden spoon and brown it good. When it’s nice and brown, add the onion and garlic and fry them up, about 3 or 4 more minutes. Add a pinch of salt when frying the onions and garlic. Throw in your herbs and let them bloom in the oil. Finally, add the tomatoes, salt and pepper, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, covered, for 15-20 minutes. Or longer. Just stir it occasionally, so it doesn’t burn.

Oil your Pyrex dish. Whatever kind of oil you want. I give a shit.

In your big-ass mixing bowl, combine the pasta, tomato sauce, cubed mozzarella, half the Parmigiano-Reggiano, and a little more black pepper. What? It’s good stuff. Screw you. Turn out into the Pyrex dish, and level it out. Cover with the sliced mozzarella and the rest of the grated parm. If you want a real treat, put a layer of fresh basil leaves down before you cover the stuff with the sliced cheese.

Bake for about 30 minutes, until everything’s nice and hot and the cheese is starting to brown lightly on top. If it’s getting too brown, just cover it with foil.

Let it sit for just a bit before you serve it. It freezes real well, too.

Serve with a good salad, hot bread, and a nice red wine. I like the Louis Jadot Beaujolais. Yeah, yeah. It ain’t Italian, but neither is baked ziti. That’s all-American, baby.

You want nutritional information? If you do, you’ve come to the wrong place, brother. Keep moving.

Buon appetito, peoples.

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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Anzac Day

That's right, peoples. It's Anzac Day. ANZAC once stood for "Australia and New Zealand Army Corps," a vast aggregation of young men who were fed into the meatgrinder at Gallipoli. That operation commenced on 25 April 1915.

Like most encounters of the Great War, the Gallipoli campaign was a massive strategic failure that ended in stalemate and a truly astonishing loss of human life. Turks, Kiwis, Aussies, British, and French troops (including many colonial troops) fought and died for a few yards of harsh territory; the mud of the Western Front was replaced by sand and rock. Songwriter Eric Bogle composed a moving, fitting, beautiful tribute to the Anzac troops entitled "The Band Played Waltzing Matilda." I was lucky enough to hear this song performed live once in Australia. If it doesn't move you, then you're dead inside.

Why do I bring this up? Anzac Day is like Memorial Day and Independence Day rolled into one for our friends in the Antipodes. Ideally, we would not need special days set aside for reflection and remembrance; however, since it seems to be the doom of humans that we forget, perhaps it's for the best. Especially since you probably haven't heard a lot about this lately. It's also a reminder that, even though a mission can be completely FUBAR, the individuals tasked with it can acquit themselves heroically. Put more simply, supporting the troops doesn't necessarily carry over to supporting the war.

Also, a dear, dear friend in Sydney took the occasion of Anzac Day to write me a letter. As I hadn't heard from her in a while, I was reminded of King Solomon's Proverbs; specifically, one from Chapter 25: "As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country."

Yes, it is.

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Monday, April 24, 2006

So lonely

Now that Jude has left me to fend on my own (apparently), I'm struggling to find things to talk about. So lets have an educational day and talk about the Truth in Lending Act.

If you enter a transaction in which a creditor takes a security interest in your home (other than a residential mortgage transaction), you have 3 days to rescind the contract. And if the creditor doesn't make the material disclosures, you have 3 years to cancel it. Once you rescind, the creditor has to return any value already conferred within 20 days. If he doesn't you keep the loan proceeds and you can sue him for damages. Hooray!

Friday, April 21, 2006

A sad day for the First Amendment

Again really busy. But check this out at (as usual) The Volokh Conspiracy. A high school kid wore a shirt condemning homosexuality as immoral and he had to take it off. Apparently in the 9th circuit free speech doesn't protect speech that might hurt the feelings of minority students. I should note that there was no disruption caused by the shirt. Also this is the approach taken to free speech by many european countries and this case shows there's a real danger that it could happen here. Obviously there are so many things wrong with this the Supreme Court needs to grant certiorari.

Jude where are you? Look, I'm supporting gay bashers -- come back and yell at me!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

I really hope Pat Robertson comments on this

Of course, it would be better (for Pat, that is) if it happened in San Fran.

The Plague.
NBA Playoff Seeding

Sorry I haven't been around lately -- end of the semester push. But I couldn't go another day without mentioning the playoff seeding fiasco. That's right, fiasco.

The NBA decided that it would be a great idea to give the top three seeds in each conference to the division winners. Nevermind that the divisions mean squat -- I'm an NBA fan and I can't even name them, though I'm vaguely aware that they are geographic. This means of course that a team with about 44 wins like the Nuggets will be seeded higher than the Mavs who have about 60 wins.

Ok, we can all see that maybe it's not that big of a deal. But wait. Did the NBA not realize that this might lead the lower seeded teams to avoid the 5 seed? Whereas in the past teams were rewarded for having more wins, this seeding system serves as a penalty to teams with more wins. Obviously teams would prefer to play the Nuggets and finish 6th than to finish 5th and play the Mavs.

So then we get a situation in which the Grizzlies and the Clippers are putting their worst guys on the floor and trying to lose without looking like they are trying to lose when everyone knows that they are trying to lose and they would be idiots for trying to win. Yeeks.

And to anyone who says that it isn't sportsmanlike to throw a game for a better playoff matchup is turning a blind eye to the big picture. Those teams should be trying to lose because the NBA has removed their incentive to win. If the league punishes a team for winning, then they can't turn around and call that team unsportsmanlike when they don't try to win. I'm usually a David Stern fan, but he should have seen this one coming.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

South Park

I happened to go to South Park Elementary School in Vicksburg, MS, but that isn't what this post is about. The television show South Park (which is much more popular than my elementary school) aired an episode about the Mohammed cartoons last night. Comedy Central edited the cartoon, which was about Comedy Central editing the cartoon showing Mohammed. Confusing yes, but the bottom line is that:
Comedy Central apparently allows South Park to show Jesus defacating on others and being defacated on, but prohibits showing Mohammed "just standing there, looking normal."
Interesting state of affairs. As Jim Lindgren mentions, the blogosphere is abuzz about this. Check it out on Instapundit.

I can't emphasize how phenomenal this episode is. Has there ever been a better satire in the history of satire? South Park uses their cartoon to describe and comment on their own cartoon, noting how hypocritical and absurd Comedy Central's action was and how ridiculous it is to give in to the heckler's veto. At the same time, South Park managed to emphatically insult "The Family Guy" proving that Parker and Stone a craftsmen of humor, not just funny guys. Its meta-satire brilliance.
Oh, the Places I've Been

I'll have more serious stuff soon, everyone. I promise. It will concern all this nuclear bullshit with Iran. Which, if you haven't been keeping up, should scare you forty kinds of stupid.

But, for now, look at this:

Create your own visited states map

Now how is it that I haven't been to Ohio? Everywhere around it? Yes. The state itself? Somehow, no.

And I shouldn't count Alaska, since I was actually just offshore there. But what the hell. I could've swum to shore. If I could swim.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Jude's Bunnies Got Me Thinking

About cooking.

Boy is that something Jude would do or what?
What, You Want More?




Now I promise to go back to being a smart-ass.

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Why did I miss this movie?

The Onion AV Club turns out another fun list: Inventory: Stop That Vehicle! 20 Misbegotten Movies Custom-Made For The Utterly Unworthy. Unfortunately, this one seems a bit contrived, consisting mainly of movies starring music stars. But I wish I had seen this one:

20. Gymkata (1985): Kurt Thomas

In the mid-'80s, gymnastics enjoyed unprecedented American popularity, thanks to the U.S. team's performance in the 1984 Olympics. That popularity translated, as such things often do, into terrible, terrible movies like Gymkata. Real-world Olympics hero Kurt Thomas wanders through an Asian hellhole performing, yes, gymkata. What's gymkata? Let's go to the tagline: "The skill of gymnastics. The kill of karate." What they fail to mention: the lameness of a hastily made-up martial art in a movie that at one point has Thomas fending off enemies in a town with a freaking pommel horse in the middle of it.
What a winner.


Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Just a Reminder

I know we spend a lot of time talking about weighty and/or depressing topics here, but I'd just like to remind everyone that the world is full of beautiful, fascinating, and adorable things as well. Like this.

Ain't that cute?

I found it at Bob Harris' place. If that doesn't make you smile, try this one, too:

If you don't think those are cute, you are either a) dead inside or b) Dick Cheney. But I repeat myself.

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I would love for an economist to weigh in, but . . .

A law professor will have to do, because I've really been waiting for someone to address this issue. I'm too busy to post much but I'll try to be in and out until graduation in May.

Can it possibly be right that illegal aliens are doing the "jobs Americans won't do," so that their presence is no competition for workers who are citizens?

I would have thought that, as a matter of basic economics, it makes little sense to talk about "jobs Xs won't do" (at least so long as X is a large and heterogeneous national group). Rather, there are only jobs Americans (or enough Americans) won't do for a certain amount of money. Raise the amount you're willing to pay, and more people will be willing to take that wage to do the job; at some price, that supply would be enough to satisfy the perceived demand for such workers.

Now perhaps "jobs Americans won't do" is shorthand for "jobs Americans won't do unless the wage is raised to a level at which the jobs wouldn't exist in any case, since they won't be cost-effective." (For instance, if current American citizens just won't pick fruit unless they're paid $20/hour, only currently illegal aliens are willing to pick fruit for less, and fruit picked at $20/hour in America won't be competitive with fruit imported from overseas, then it may be that no jobs in fruit-picking would realistically exist for the current American citizens.)

I think he's right. The debate is about wages and not about some "types" of manual labor being beneath or otherwise unsuitable for Americans. And I think he's right that if my American apples costs more than those from another country, I'm probably going for the cheaper ones. The point is that it's not just as simple as saying "They do jobs Americans won't do."

Monday, April 10, 2006

RIP, Dr. Neff

A hero to veterans, Dr. Leonard Neff, died recently.

He will be missed. This was a man who understood what supporting the troops really meant.

It doesn't mean putting a fucking magnet on your car. It means caring for them when they're half-insane with fear and regret years after they return from the meatgrinder. Letting them know that it's alright to hurt; it's alright to be afraid.

Thank you, Dr. Neff, for all you've done.


Si Se Puede

I went to the rally in Madison today. Peter B was there, too.

It was spectacular.

Oh, and James Sensenbrenner (R-Klan) is an asshole.

Somos todos los americanos; somos todos los seres humanos.

That is all. Carry on.

UPDATE: If you want to see some wonderful pictures of the event, check out First Draft. What a beautiful day, for so many reasons.

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Saturday, April 08, 2006

Cross-blog Sports Rivalry

Okay, so Jon's at BU, not BC, but still. Tonight, the team from my town faced a team from Jon's town in the men's NCAA hockey championship.


Bucky kicks ass. And it was a great game!

Sorry, Katie.

At any rate, the Badgers men's and women's teams both won NCAA hockey titles this year. That's never happened before. Go Bucky!

It's a good year to be a Badger fan.

I'm sure Athenae at First Draft is ecstatic/drunk/howling at the moon. She should be.

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So It's Come to This

It was only a matter of time, really. Funny how they've really obviated satire.
US considers use of nuclear weapons against Iran

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The administration of President George W. Bush is planning a massive bombing campaign against Iran, including use of bunker-buster nuclear bombs to destroy a key Iranian suspected nuclear weapons facility, The New Yorker magazine has reported in its April 17 issue.

The article by investigative journalist Seymour Hersh said that Bush and others in the White House have come to view Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as a potential Adolf Hitler.

"That's the name they're using," the report quoted a former senior intelligence official as saying.

A senior unnamed Pentagon adviser is quoted in the article as saying that "this White House believes that the only way to solve the problem is to change the power structure in Iran, and that means war."

The former intelligence officials depicts planning as "enormous," "hectic" and "operational," Hersh writes.

One former defense official said the military planning was premised on a belief that "a sustained bombing campaign in Iran will humiliate the religious leadership and lead the public to rise up and overthrow the government," The New Yorker pointed out.

In recent weeks, the president has quietly initiated a series of talks on plans for Iran with a few key senators and members of the House of Representatives, including at least one Democrat, the report said.

One of the options under consideration involves the possible use of a bunker-buster tactical nuclear weapon, such as the B61-11, to insure the destruction of Iran's main centrifuge plant at Natanz, Hersh writes.

But the former senior intelligence official said the attention given to the nuclear option has created serious misgivings inside the military, and some officers have talked about resigning after an attempt to remove the nuclear option from the evolving war plans in Iran failed, according to the report.

"There are very strong sentiments within the military against brandishing nuclear weapons against other countries," the magazine quotes the Pentagon adviser as saying.

The adviser warned that bombing Iran could provoke "a chain reaction" of attacks on American facilities and citizens throughout the world and might also reignite Hezbollah.

"If we go, the southern half of Iraq will light up like a candle," the adviser is quoted as telling The New Yorker.

I used to watch Dr. Strangelove and laugh.

Now it seems that General Buck Turgidson is calling the shots in D.C.

Christ. Are you people who voted for Bush happy now? Happy with your fucking tax cut and with the fact that gay people, who couldn't get married before, still can't get married? Happy that no one's getting blown in the Oval Office? Are you, you fuckers?

Ever think that maybe, just maybe putting religious fanatics, tax-cut zealots, and neo-con idiots at the levers of power might have been a bad idea? You didn't?

Well thanks, Bush voters. We really fucking appreciate the gift.

UPDATE: Via This Modern World, we have the link to the New Yorker article by Hersh referenced in the above Yahoo story.

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Friday, April 07, 2006


I thought this was a pretty damn fine article on CNN.
Government lawyers tried to remove and confiscate the gold dental work known as "grills" or "grillz" from the mouths of two men facing drug charges.
How awesome is that? And I thought "forfeiture specialist" Richard Troberman was being a little disingenuous with this statement:
"It sounds like Nazi Germany when they were removing the gold teeth from the bodies, but at least then they waited until they were dead," he added.
I might be mistaken but I think the "grills" fad is unnecessary dental work. The picture on the CNN page seems to confirm that. Isn't the message of a grill "Hey I'm so fucking rich I can chew my food with platinum and diamonds?"

Of course this also brings up some of my favorite rap lyrics of all time from Lil' Flip.
And I make - nothin but hits when I step in the booth
And I make - rainbows from the sun reflect off my tooth

Thursday, April 06, 2006


Jeremy brings up an interesting point in the comments to the previous post.

He claims that Atlanta is not part of the heartland. Which might lead you to ask what, then, is the heartland?

For some, it's simply the area of the United States between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains--largely the area of the Louisiana Purchase (plus a lot of land stolen from Mexico). If that's what Jeremy's talking about, then he's right. Atlanta is not part of the heartland.

However, it seems to me that "heartland," as the term is commonly used in political discourse these days, is basically shorthand for "not New York, LA, Boston, DC, Vegas, Chicago, or any other place where them fruity types sip lattes and go see gay cowboy movies while plotting how surrendering America to the terrorists/Communists/[insert authoritarian group here] will advance the liberal/homosexual/feminist/atheist agenda(s) while aborting as many babies as humanly possible."

I could be wrong.

However, I'm sure that there are plenty of people who think that Atlanta is an integral part of the heartland. "Heartland," to be more succinct than I was just now, is a rhetorical device that sets up a false dichotomy: decadent coasts, wholesome interior. Of course, the interior, according to devotees of this bullshit duality, is where you find "real" America--the workers, the farmers, the white folks (scratch a modern Republican, find a racist), the people who Make America Work. The coasts are where you find cities, decay, welfare cases, the people who are a Drag On Society.

Naturally, as noted, this is all bullshit. Here's a list of which states Make America Work and which are a Drag On Society. That is, it's a list of federal spending per dollar of taxes paid in.

Federal Spending per $ of Taxes Paid

New Mexico




West VA




North Dakota










South Dakota














S. Carolina




















N. Carolina








Rhode Island






















New York












New Hamp.




New Jersey


Yeah. Massachusetts--those layabouts! How dare they pay more in than they receive in federal outlays! So the upper Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, Pacific Coast, half of New England, and assorted other states (including Georgia) are doing the heavy lifting, while, say, South Dakota benefits from the largesse of these allegedly decadent liberal enclaves (to borrow a phrase from noted tool Andrew Sullivan).

Anyway, this is a large digression from the original question, and I'd like some input from you guys. What do you think the heartland is, if it even exists? And do you think that my characterization of the rhetorical use of the term is anywhere close to correct?

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Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Quite a Day

I'm not feeling so hot today, so I don't have much to say.

If I felt better, I'd have a few comments about the DHS pervert, or about crazy Tom DeLay and the dumbasses who are defending him, or maybe on the astonishing story of how Atlanta is the center of American sex tourism--especially for people who want to have sex with minors (gotta love those heartland values!). But I don't.

Actually, I do have something to say about the dumbasses defending Tom DeLay. If you click on that link above, it will take you to and the Daou Report. Peter Daou is not defending DeLay; he's not that kind of guy. He does have a web log roundup, though, that is updated daily. It's a great service--Peter swims in the sewers of the right wing so you don't have to. Anyway, He links to RedState (I don't link to crazy right-wing sites), where the morons there have the following post about good ol' Tom:
DeLay Departs. The Fight Continues.
By: The Directors · Section: GOP

Tom DeLay made his bones as a warrior for the party. He was, in many areas, a dedicated conservative. But he was above all else a party man - familiar as he was with the political dirty tricks during Democrat domination of the Congress, DeLay was determined not to give an inch once Republicans took power. He fought the Democrats with every tool at his disposal, with parliamentary maneuvering, with political brinksmanship, and with redistricting, just as the other side had done for decades. He was a gargantuan Machiavellian foe, in the body of a diminutive Texan. Largely because of Tom DeLay, Democrats have been unable to enact their wrong headed policies. For all of this, he was loathed above all else by the left.


The Congress has, in truth, moved on already. But it is still a Republican Congress, one that needs to be focused on achieving the right things for the right reasons. We owe Tom DeLay thanks in large part for the fact that this IS a Republican Congress, and we should treat him with the respect of an old warrior who, in the end, took the honorable road home - shunning the egotistical course and doing one last service for his party.

Can you believe that shit? "An old warrior who, in the end, took the honorable road home," huh?

First, Tom DeLay managed to avoid any actual experience as a warrior during his youth, even though the Vietnam War was going on at the time. Now how, you might ask, could such a virile, battle-ready man not go to war? Well, according to Tom, he wanted to, but dammit, there were too many minorities there--and there wasn't any room for him in the Army! Seriously. That's his excuse. He wanted to sign up, but because so many minorities were there for the good-paying Army jobs (they had to get out of the ghetto, you see), there just wasn't space left for Macho Tom.

I'll leave you to think about that for a minute or two--idiocy and dishonesty that blatant can be difficult to process.

Done yet? Good.

Next, to call someone who is up to his eyeballs in corruption and bribery "honorable," well--just go back to processing idiocy and dishonesty.

We'll be here tomorrow when you get back.

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Tuesday, April 04, 2006

They Don't All Live in Florida

No, they don't.

Some sick bastard here in my neck of the woods was arrested for animal abuse. The details are nauseating.

They said on the local news early this morning that this rotten piece of shit claimed that he was depressed, and the animals wouldn't cuddle with him.

Well no shit. I think dogs can pick up on when someone is a batshit insane asshole.

I hope they put this fucker under the jail. Christ.

To any concerned: This pretty much sums up my feelings whenever anyone abuses a person or animal--especially, in the case of people, if that person is dependent upon the abuser (or helpless to stop the abuse). Hell's just not hot enough for some people.

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Saint Tom Update

Unless you've been under a rock, you know that US Representative Tom DeLay (R-Orange Jumpsuit) has resigned from the Congress.

This news, while wonderful, is only a start. However, it's a great start!

Now, if only the DNC, DCCC, and DSCC can remember to use DeLay and his corruption problems as (two of the many) albatrosses to tie around the Republicans' necks come November. They nearly all answered to him; they nearly all benefited from his largesse. The Republican cesspool that is the current Congress is, to a large extent, the work of Tom DeLay. To be in that body with an (R) behind your name means that you are tainted by that man.

Remember, Democrats--when your opponent is drowning, you toss that sonofabitch an anvil.

Edited to fix extremely stupid error on my part.



Monday, April 03, 2006

Amazon Gets ahead of the Game

So the NCAA tournament wraps up tonight. Jon and I have, surprisingly, had very little to say about this year's tourney. Anyway, the final game is tonight, where UCLA and Florida play. Unfortunately, the LSU men's and women's teams both lost in the semifinal round.

Well, Amazon got a little antsy, and sent me the following e-mail this morning. Click through, you'll laugh.

I know that they have things like this ready to go--like news outlets already have obituaries for famous people well before they die, and the like. It's just funny that they pulled the trigger prematurely.

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Saint Tom of Sugarland

I haven't said much about Tom DeLay (R-Graft) recently. I'm not sure why--perhaps I'm just too busy making the case for kicking Florida out of the union.

Luckily, others are on the job. Like, say, the New York Daily News (we used to link to the Daily News all the time; not so much since Jimmy Breslin retired), which yesterday reported that DeLay's former deputy chief of staff just copped a plea, and rolled over on his boss, DeLay's former chief of staff Ed Buckingham. Tony Rudy, the guy who copped out, didn't implicate DeLay. But just wait and see what Buckingham says. Five'll get you ten he sings like a little boid. That's right. A boid.

Over at Talking Points Memo, Josh Marshall makes the case for DeLay's beatification. It might be the funniest thing I'll read all day.


NYU cartoon controversy

Recently a NYU student group was planning to display the controversial cartoon depictions of Mohammed which have caused such a stir around the world. The display was to be a part of a discussion about the cartoons. Consistent with NYU policy, over 150 non-university guests had registered to attend the event.

Unfortunately NYU chose to ignore its stated policy governing free speech on campus and refused to allow the cartoons to be shown and refused to allow the non-university guests to attend.

How do we know all of this? Because of an amazing organization called the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. FIRE raises awareness of university speech codes and incidents like this one at NYU where a university violates in speech code in an effort to suppress controversial speech. Unfortunately, universities often do not enforce speech codes uniformly, they select which speech should be barred based on the political climate. Speech which should be constitutionally allowed at public universities is suppressed because of its tendency to offend other students. This is one of my biggest pet peeves, people who think they shouldn't be subjected to any speech that offends them and are willing to stifle free speech to reach that result.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Public Service Announcement

We here at Punch and Jude never forget our responsibility to the communities we serve. As such, we occasionally put up these PSA's so that everyone may benefit from, among other things, the wisdom of our experiences.

Today's Public Service Announcement will be presented in Good Idea/Bad Idea form.

Good Idea: Learning to rollerskate and enjoying yourself with family and friends.

Bad Idea: Attempting to learn to rollerskate at age 32.

Please, folks. For the love of all that is holy, and your own asses, heed this announcement.

Thank you, and good day.

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Saturday, April 01, 2006

Homeland Security: Sleep Well, There's Nothing to Worry About

That's right, folks.

We are safe.

Safe safe.

How safe?

Good question. We're so safe, we're protected from teenage girls playing a live-action version of Super Mario Brothers. Don't you feel more secure now?
Five teenage girls from Portage County face potential criminal charges after attempting to play a real-life version of Super Mario Bros.

The Portage County Hazardous Materials Unit and Bomb Detection Unit were called in to downtown Ravenna on Friday morning after seventeen suspicious packages -- boxes wrapped in gold wrapping paper with question marks spray painted on them -- had alarmed residents.

Boxes were found at the Immaculate Conception Church on West Main Street, the Portage County Courthouse, Deluxe Pastries, the corner of Cherry Way and Main Street, Reed Memorial Library, Ravenna High School and a residence at Sanford and Main streets.

Five girls -- age 16 and 17 -- claimed responsibility for making and placing the packages. The girls said they found an Internet site that included step-by-step instructions for creating replicas of blocks featured in the game.

The Ravenna Police Department will be working with the Portage County Prosecutor's Office regarding possible criminal charges as a result of the game.
Oddly enough, this did not happen in Florida. Are they really planning on bringing charges against these girls? For what?

The "suspicious packages" were wrapped in gold paper, and they had question marks on them. What the fuck? Does the Riddler work for al-Qaeda now? Stupid fucking cops. They're pissed that they got punked. Could any human being with more than three functioning neurons actually think that, in Nowheresville, Ohio, a few gold-foil-wrapped boxes with fucking question marks on them were some sort of a terrorist threat?

I feel safe. Don't you?

(Thanks to Errol for the link.)

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Home State

Jude and I like to keep our readers abreast of goings on in our home state of Mississippi. As such I point you to this article on the NRA's website. If you prefer not to visit the NRA's website, I'll just say to our non-law abiding readers, don't break into anyone's home in MS unless you're bullet proof -- new laws authorize homeowners to shoot people breaking into their home and prevent the prosecution of anyone who does so.

This is an interesting legal question. The general rule is that one may only use such force as is necessary to remove a trespasser from his or her property. This law apparently authorizes deadly force. You can shoot now, question later. No word on whether the Jehovah's Witnesses mounted any substantial opposition to this one.