Tuesday, January 31, 2006

State of the Union recrap

I don't know people who can tolerate watching George W. Bush. Myself, I think of it as having the world's worst surgeon -- if he's going to eff up my transplant operation by replacing my liver with a chicken nugget, I want to know. What else am I going to watch, Big Trouble in Little China? Maybe, but not all the way through, and not tonight.

I interrupted a game of NCAA 2006 to view this. My Texas A&M team is up over Kansas, 63-7, and I have a freshman linebacker who is a frickin' prodigy -- three sacks, two interceptions in spy formations, just unbelievable.

But enough substance. Early prediction: there will be an unpleasant and exploitative mention of the late Coretta Scott King.

A few prelims:
  • Cindy Sheehan gets arrested by Capitol Hill police before the talk even begins. Estes Kefauver is nowhere in sight.
  • Justice Alito is sitting with Justices Breyer, Thomas, and Roberts. Way to throw dirt in everybody's face.
  • What's scarier than House of 1,000 Corpses? Don Rumsfeld, Alberto Gonzalez, Gail Norton and Condoleeza Rice in a single camera shot.
  • The CBS pregame analysis is killer. They're talking about an anticipated call for renewed civility from the president. Uh ... wha? Be civil after he breaks the law, effs everything up, and sees his approval ratings tank, but it's all fun and games when his hobgoblins degrade a senator's military service and tell racists about John McCain's "black baby."
  • Remember, "CrimeNotes," be civil. Take deep breaths.
At this point, I'm going to give you a behind-the-scenes story of this post. Attempting to take the speech seriously, I broke it down into themes and quotes. Didn't work out so well. There was no real theme or structure.

I guess this is when I exercise writer's prerogative. You're not getting any analysis, cuz it ain't worth my time or yours. Here's a book report instead:
  • Gracious! He doesn't even wait to exploit Coretta Scott King. Poor Mrs. King. First words out of the gate, and the punk defaces her. I would have enjoyed hearing what she might have said to him in a one-on-one meeting.
  • Discourse should be civil. Day late and dollar short, sheriff.
  • Freedom!
  • Bush's critics are defeatist. Republicans break into chant of, "De-fense! De-fense!" Cheney gives the bird to the Democratic side of the chamber. Joe Lieberman and Maria Cantwell cry.
  • Oddball non-sequiters about Iran and Hamas, respectively.
  • Global development?
  • Patriot Act and illegal wiretaps are good.
  • Tax cuts.
  • Let's form a commission about Social Security. Sounds as efficacious as me issuing a white paper on Medicaid transaction costs.
  • Some bullshit about border security.
  • Tort reform is the answer to health care problems.
  • He wants to increase Energy Department research into clean energy sources. Sounds good. Good. Good! I like it!
  • "American Competitiveness Initiative." Rolls off the tongue, sweet as Tupelo honey. It's something about math and science, including more AP classes. He's the best student government president ever.
  • Crime and, oddly, abortion. Somebody's been reading Freakonomics.
  • Parents don't like Congressional corruption, activist courts, or those displaced by Hurricane Katrina, and ... WTF? There was a speechwriting problem here.
  • He's going to keep naming judges like Alito and Roberts. I think I just had a small stroke. If you don't hear from me in the next 24 hours, call 911.
  • Wants to ban human cloning and, apparently, all other forms of medical research.
  • Oh, fuck it, now he's just throwing out a random ideation ever other sentence. Now we're back to Congressional corruption. He quickly jumps to something about helping kids. He says the federal government is helping New Orleans. Also, AIDS is bad.
Pseudorhetorical summary grace notes: History is, like, determined by human action, or something. When Bush tries to sound deep, it's like seeing a poodle dressed in white tie, both cute and disturbing. He claims to be an optimist. If by optimist, he means, bomb all brown people, break laws, and screw your political enemies, he may have a point.

Look, I tried. I tried to take this seriously. If I could be a dick and snark about stuff, I would, but the speech was so pathetic and boring and unstructured, I've got nothing.

Democratic Response: Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine: If Bush is the second-string JV quarterback running for class president, Tim Kaine is the math club nerd running for class secretary. It's a stiff, blathery performance, notable only for the speaker's forehead crinkles and raised eyebrows. Delivery-wise, the dude is a Mannequin extra. Key point: he says nothing of value. Somehow, at the end of Kaine's speech, I find myself on the phone ordering placemats from the QVC number at the bottom of the screen. Way to go, Democrats.

Final score: Texas A&M 70, Kansas 7.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Flop, in his own words

I received this e-mail three minutes ago:
I just ended an incredibly stupid conversation about the "claim to fame" of Dan Quayle (I said it might be the fact that he was VP; they said only potatoe and Murphy Brown, conveniently forgetting his Stepford wife, the doll with the flip-up dick and the latin america crack). I ended it by saying "OK, so what's the claim to fame of Estes Kefauver."
Hip, hip, hooray for Estes Kefauver.
For the record, I have no idea what "the doll with the flip-up dick" was, but I'm guessing it was Quayle's nickname for Lawrence Eagleburger.

Sunday, January 29, 2006


In 2000 and 2001, Fox aired a short-lived series called Undeclared. It followed five freshmen starting college at a mediocre state school in California. The show's storylines don't scream originality -- episodes of overindulging in beer, sloppy sex, getting fucked up by existentialism, bickering roommates -- but the writing is pitch perfect, and the actors are so natural and understated that the tone sometimes approximates the character-based deadpan of The Office. Plus, it will make you pine for your own 1990s misadventures, not least because its soundtrack includes OMC's "How Bizarre."

As much as I liked Undeclared when it aired, I haven't thought about it much until today's impulse buy at Tower Records. It's the best $50 I've spent on DVDs.

On top of its writing and acting, the episodes included non-annoying cameos by Adam Sandler, Will Ferrel, Amy Poehler, Fred Willard and Mary Kay Place. It was created by Judd Apatow, whose Freaks & Geeks was loved by people other than me. (He also was responsible for the 40-Year-Old Virgin, which I'll see someday.) And in a development that threw egg all over my face, early Cole Slaw Blog whipping boy Rodney Rothman worked on the show as its supervising producer and writer. Oh, Rodney, I'm so sorry for the mean things I wrote in our early days, even if I do think the novel sounds self-indulgent.

You have got to be fucking kidding me

My outrage has been mostly in hibernation lately. Alito, the domestic spying, all that kind of stuff would have had me blowing gaskets two years ago. Recently, though, I've kept my ire to myself.

I think I'm a lot closer to being a race car in the red again. Although the initial feeling upon reading this is more akin to nausea than outrage.

I'm sure plenty of people will defend it as an example of steely resolve and stuff that's necessary for us to do to win the OMG War on Terror. They'll offer a false choice: "Would you rather die in an attack or have some terrorist's wife kidnapped?" As if it were that fucking simple.

I don't really need to explain the moral issues here, nor the unintended consequences. (It's kind of hard to claim the moral high ground at the general assembly when you're the country that goes around kidnapping wives.) I feel like doing so would just be reading Yeats in a hurricane.

Meanwhile, there will be some uninformative news reports about this, some outrage which will be quickly marginalized, then forgotten. And I'll feel like an ass for having gotten so pissed off again for no good reason.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Me, but less so

Astute Cole Slaw Blog readers have noticed I haven't been posting much lately. I assume it's a welcome respite for some of you. But for those of you who would identify with me on our forthcoming quiz, "Are you a Flop or are you a Crimnotes? Take our quiz and See!" (coming March 2006), I apologize.

I've been busy enough living my life that I haven't had any interesting inspiration. I've been doing things like hunting for a new job, meeting friends, going to the gym and running errands. I don't know what it is, but it's possible that when my head is full of grocery lists, movie times and people I'm supposed to e-mail, I can't think about Crenshaw Melon, the sorry, sorry state of our nation's media or where would be a good place for a ninja to hid in Columbus Circle. (Answer: anywhere, because Ninjas are masters of disguise, so they could just blend in with pigeons, wealthy old ladies or asshole bankers coming to blow $500 each at Per Se. And then totally go nuts on you.)

In short, I've been totally boring. This must be how people who lead normal lives operate. But even though I've gained an undersanding of why some people who take antidepressants wind up going off their meds, I've gotten some shit done.

Don't get me wrong _ my room is still a mess, I'm currently deep into a potentially calamitous game of chicken with my growing pile of dirty laundry, and my usual girl- and job-related angst isn't going anywhere. I watched the entire second season of "The Office" on DVD last night, then e-mailed a friend of mine a satellite photo of Slough.

All of these are good leading indicators of increased output from me in the near future.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Gore, Kerry, Chocolate City and the Mencken of Crazytown

Karma's being a dick. My weeks of stumbling around Europe and a two-book-a-week reading habit are now being balanced out by late nights and weekends in the office. Hence, fewer updates on here, which may be a blessing or a curse, depending on your misguided interest in the drug habits of a former child star.

Hot off the heels of the Democrats' trainwreck in the Alito hearings, it was a week worthy of Sinclair Lewis, which, I suppose, is better than the usual Yeats.

Big kudos to Al Gore and John Kerry, for real. To read the battery of posts at Daily Kos, you'd be reasonable to conclude that Al Gore's speech on Monday about presidential wiretaps was the equivalent of Lincoln's famous 1859 speech at New York's Cooper Union -- historic remarks that pushed a longshot to the front ranks of presidential contenders.

It was a wonderful speech. Everyone should read it. Put aside your flow chart or HR memo and read it, right now, or else shut up and move to Vancouver.

When I was in college I had to read a stack of speeches by Congressmen of the 1850s: Lewis Cass, William Sumner, Henry Clay, etc. Gore speaks like them. He doesn't appeal to emotion. His speech was passionate and furious, but it wasn't a lame stab to make you scared for your kids or your own safety. Gore talks on epic terms, not about the perhaps understandable paranoia people feel as citizens, but about the fragility of institutions and liberties and the genius of the Constitutional system. It's sad how grateful I feel to hear a politician not beg to the lowest common denominator.

A president who breaks the law is a threat to the very structure of our government. Our founding fathers were adamant that they had established a government of laws and not men. And they recognized that the structure of government they had enshrined in our Constitution--our system of checks and balances--was designed with a central purpose of ensuring that it would govern through the rule of law. As John Adams said: "The executive shall never exercise the legislative and judicial powers, or either of them, to the end that it may be a government of laws and not of men."

An executive who arrogates to himself the power to ignore the legitimate legislative directives of the Congress, or to act free of the check of the judiciary, becomes the central threat that the founders sought to nullify in the Constitution--an all-powerful executive too reminiscent of the king from whom they had broken free. In the words of James Madison, "the accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny."

Thomas Paine, whose pamphlet on "[c]ommon [s]ense" ignited the American Revolution, succinctly described America's alternative. Here, he said, we intended to make certain that, in his phrase, "the law is king."

Gore's speech is dead right about everything, and it's unfortunate that so few Democrats have been willing to talk about the wiretaps in these concrete terms. The speech is an inspiration. I'm happy to work more weekends if it means saving enough money to spend 2007 and 2008 volunteering for a Gore campaign.

Contrast Gore with Chris Matthews, a vile little toad, or Ray Nagin, who employed imagery that was not only racially and religiously loaded, but to my ears cannibalistic and sexual to boot.

The amusing but functionally retarded Matthews saw excerpts of the new bin Ladin tape and said that bin Laden "sounds like an over-the-top Michael Moore, if not a Michael Moore," which became the trope of the week for conservatives trying to label bin Ladin a liberal. I've never understood why it's considered inappropriate to compare Bush to corporatist, warmongering, mid-2oth century fascists, yet fashionable to compare secular pacifists to mass-murdering religious extremists, whose methods and rhetorics nicely complement the American right.

For his effort to play the H.L. Mencken of the asshole crowd, Matthews would have been my hands-down winner for Tard of the Week, but since the writer sometimes known as spinachdip selected Nagin, I'll pile on. Nagin's remarks were too sad and strange to be properly outrageous. Their racial and religious overtones were tragic PR for a city gasping for political and monetary support -- I'm sure Dennis Hastert did not receive them warmly. Rhetorically, he talked about a populace (in the original Chocolate City context and the even stranger milk chocolate context) that you want to eat and drink. I mean, I've got my gripes about Bloomberg, but at least he hasn't referenced me in a lactic context.

Like Gore, the once-demure, badly slandered John Kerry is stepping up. He immediately called bullshit on Chris Matthews's nonsense. Kerry is now posting diaries on left-wing grassroots activist site Daily Kos, where he sounds like Howard Dean circa 2003. Within hours of Matthews's remark, Kerry stated the following:
This is not about Michael Moore, this is about what it means to be an American. Are we a country of strongmen who thrive on bullying and accusations of treason, or can we tolerate divergent views? Is the media about raw power and shouting ability, or is it about journalism? That's the question that Matthews must answer. Calling Americans treasonous murderers because of their political views has no place in American politics or journalism. Chris Matthews needs to apologize, now.
The wheezing, limping tarts responsible for SNL's unfunny "Weekend Update" portrayed Gore and Kerry's remarks as the vinegar from sour grapes. I wouldn't care if the subject weren't so serious. Both of these cautious, play-by-the-rules guys were shredded by a reckless political machinery, the unethical and amoral campaigns of which showcased all the worst that came with the Republicans' governance. Their hesitant predispositions scorched by some the vilest campaign tactics since 1928, Kerry and Gore's newfound vigor is the product of having endured some of the worst that this country has to offer. Unlike the Democrats on the Senate Judicary Committee, they've learned what's at stake. Two presidential nominees who I never liked have become quasi-heroic

Friday, January 20, 2006


One of our readers was nice enough to forward this:

It's not legit, but I still consider it appropriate. We're all about saving your souls.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

We're No. 1

In ... uh ... this, apparently.

Between about 2:30 p.m. today and the time of this post, we've gotten 150 search hits on the subject.

The lesson: write one badly written phrase in a post about white phosphorous use in Iraq and become a magnet for weirdos.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Alito hearings, revisited

In case you weren't listening or watching, I've prepared a condensed transcript:
Democratic senator: Concerned Alumni for Princeton?
Alito: Wha?
Republican senator: Did you like your dad?
Alito: Yes.
Democratic senator: Unitary executive?
Alito: You don't understand what that means.
Democratic senator: You're right, sorry.
Republican senator: I like you.
Alito: Thanks.


I'm not going to read too much into the show's OMG, I just spit out a mouthful of pad thai premiere. However, the difference between last season's premiere and this year's was striking.
Last year: Islamic terrorists coordinate a sophisticated series of strikes within the U.S.

This year: A dangerously bullheaded and oblivious president talks about his political capital and puts the country at risk while U.S. intelligence agents run amok.
Somebody at Fox didn't read the talking points.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Northeast Corridor, bitches

I recently returned from the metropolis of Philadelphia.

By recently, I mean "just now." I took the train down there Friday afternoon to see a friend visiting the city of brotherly love and Santa animosity for a convention.

While in New York's version of Baltimore, I helped a cabbie break in his new digital camera, nearly got my friend and I ambushed by local ninjas, drank a goodly amount of Yuengling at the city's oldest bar and most likely made inappropriate comments about women. I also learned that the departures board at 30th Street Station is only as accurate as The New York Times -- it says what the big shots tell it to say. Thankfully, the Amtrak police officers there must read their hometown blog and know the Times can be bullshit, because they totally understood and didn't throw my ass in Amtrak jail. Once my train arrived, I rattled through Jersey, listening to my iPod and attempting to drift into beery sleep.

As the Quad City DJ's would say -- Choo, choo, ride it!

Friday, January 13, 2006


On the heels of a post complaining about the Democrats' puppy dog tactics with Alito, I read the following, which lifted my spirits, and which I excerpt entirely from Digby:
Bush said the war's critics should stop questioning the motives that led him to launch the invasion of Iraq in March 2003.

"The American people know the difference between responsible and irresponsible debate when they see it…. And they know the difference between a loyal opposition that points out what is wrong, and defeatists who refuse to see that anything is right," Bush said.

"I ask all Americans to hold their elected leaders to account and demand a debate that brings credit to our democracy — not comfort to our adversaries," Bush said.


Karen Finney, the Democratic National Committee's communications director, said "the Bush administration's attack, distract and distort tactics reflect a Nixonian paranoia that is un-American."
Senate Democrats: Why do you never say things like this?!?!

OMG I don't know who she is but I looooove her.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

More entertaining than "Lazy Sunday"

The ingenious lads at Every Day Should Be Saturday stumbled across this monstrosity, and were good enough to share it with the world.

Click through the link. As they themselves warn:
If you’re in an office, shut the door; if you’re in a cubicle, invite a friend. If you’re at home, call over a loved one or pet to spread the love, and please make sure you are not eating, drinking, performing any delicate tasks requiring manual dexterity, or masturbating while watching, since this video is the opposite of sex, and may induce erectile dysfunction for life.
This has completely effed up my afternoon.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

"Sparks Fly, Tears Fall"

Martha Alito is probably a very nice person. She looks like your best friend's mom. She married a nebbishy guy who opted for a career in the federal government and the humble income that comes with it. For the life of their marriage, they've probably led a quiet, happy life, not having to confront scrutiny, the public controversy limited to fallout from things like obscure utterances on sentencing reform that her husband might have uttered at a professional conference.

She's not Hillary Clinton or Laura Bush. She didn't sign up for this kind of drama.

So when she started crying this afternoon, it was sincere, and moving. I felt sorry for her. That the tears came from the kind words of Lindsay Graham -- who may have priorities that would reassure the worst social Darwinist, but manages to articulate them with an endearing style worthy of Mr. Smith and Opie, and who I like in spite of myself -- made it seem more poignant.

And with that, American government and media careened to another nadir moment, one in what now feels like an unendurable cycle of absurdities and half-asseries. The front page of the Fox News website featured the Knotts Landingesque headline, "Sparks Fly, Tears Fall." CNN prominently featured a link to Mrs. Alito's teary but somehow dignified moment. NPR's post-questioning analysis highlighted the episode.

And I can't bring myself to watch the cable news talk shows.

Around the time that this happened, the Democrats' performance was varying between mediocre and embarrassing. This afternoon, I listened to a pathetic episode in which one of the Democrats (I forget who) tried to make Alito look like a proponent of heavy-handed law enforcement, when, in reality, the issue in the case turned on a highly technical question of official immunity, and whether such concerns are issues of law or issues of fact. Alito understood this; his questioner did not appear to.

Through two days of questioning, Alito has seemed like the smartest guy in the class, and the Democrats have looked like lawyers who showed up to court underprepared. With his Republican allies fleeing from jurisprudential substance like an unloved virgin running from a frat party, Alito has come across as the only person in the room who knows what he's talking about.

This has all turned into a shameful exercise in foolishness and grandstanding, nearly as lacking in respect for the rule of law as the president's illegal wiretaps. The Democrats simply do not appear to be taking this hearing seriously. They're either underprepared, or unwilling to engage in the kind of rigorous technicalities needed to refute Alito's mastery of the issues.

For a group of people who emphasize the Senate's role in advice and consent, they've treated their constitutional obligations like an appearance on a Sunday talk show. Alito's role in a racist Princeton alumni club and his participation in a Vanguard case are important issues worthy of questioning, but if that's the best we have, we are sorely fucked. Unable to clearly articulate the underlying legal issues confronting the Court -- and clearly incapable of effectively refuting Alito's knowledge of difficult legal doctrines -- the Democratic senators have missed an opportunity to engage in an important public debate about the trajectory of American law.

Because even if Alito had stonewalled them -- as he would have -- they would have built a record of their arguments, and made a case to educate the public.

When the flashpoint of the hearings bccame Martha Alito's tears, it was a fitting denouement to a set of hearings that was already descending into bread and circus. The tone of Dick Durbin's nearly apologetic questioning was an education into the Democrats' failures of the past decade. Consider this segue into questions about a law review note Alito authored as a student:
Interesting that when you -- I couldn't tell you what in the heck I ever wrote in law school about anything.

But in your second year in law school you wrote a paper, I take it, some research paper which you had to tell us about here relative to the issue of religion and then, in the '85 memo, raised the question about the Warren court on the establishment clause.

What was it that the Warren court decided on the establishment clause that troubled you, if you remember?

I somehow missed this gem:

DURBIN: Let me ask you, if I might, to reflect on a couple other things. You're a Bruce Springsteen fan?

ALITO: I am to some degree, yes.

DURBIN: I guess most people in New Jersey would be. They should be.

ALITO: There was a movement some time ago -- we don't have an official state song and there was a movement to make "Born to Run" our official state song. But it didn't quite make it.

DURBIN: We'll stick with Lincoln in Illinois, but I can understand your commitment to Bruce Springsteen.

They once asked him: How do you come up with the songs that you write and the characters that are in them? And he said, I have a familiarity with the crushing hand of fate. It's a great line.

Way to put him on the spot. Dick.

While it was poignant to see Martha Alito cry, it's a shame that the press won't be there to cover the tears from the following people:
  1. The sister of a wrongly executed convict who could not be exonerated because the judiciary adopted an effed-up standard for reviewing DNA evidence on habeas petitions;
  2. The woman in Nebraska who was forced to have a baby because the Supreme Court did not find state restrictions severe enough to warrant harsher scrutiny;
  3. The small-town Jewish kid who got bullied for opting out of a state-funded Jesus class;
  4. The gay dudes who moved out of Ohio because the courts did not strike a narrow law permitting employment discrimination in public schools based on sexual preference;
  5. The black voters in Alabama who lose control of their Congressional district because of a new interpretation of technicalities in the Voting Rights Act.
Because the Democrats' weakness, the Republican aversion to issues, and the media preoccupation with personality has evaded one underlying proposition -- that Sam Alito remains a very scary guy, no matter how much his wife loves him.

These have not been two good days.

National Capital Area Slaw!

If this bit of news is, or was long ago, on DCist or Wonkette, I apologize, because I actually came across it on the WMATA website. Apparently, they're holding a contest to find a new voice to replace the slightly nasal, slightly husky, plaintive "doors closing" voice currently in effect.

Irresponsible, likely erroneous predictions:

_ They'll make the message longer. So it'll go from "doors closing" which pretty much effectively describes what's coming up, to some more bullshit. Like "Doors are now closing. Thanks for riding the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority's Metrorail _ America's Subway." This assumes that Congress won't rename it ReaganRail.

_ They'll fuck it up and pick a worse voice. When I dwelt in the D.C. area, I always thought that the voice sounded as if it were coming from someone in a sort of forced trance _ possibly induced by having to repeat the phrase "doors closing" multiple times until every member of the WMATA's board, five members of Congress and three sound engineers all agreed it was the perfect take. There's just something strange about the sound of that voice. Now, I assume the new one will be annoyingly chipper and conversational, like those automated voices when you call Amtrak or something and have to navigate with voice commands. Or, say, like the male and female voices on the 1-2-3 and 4-5-6 lines here in New York. (Aside: Am I the only one who wants them to argue, Airplane!-style? "Come on, Elyse. Transfer has always been available to the R, N and W trains. And what's this shit about Metro North? You know that's only at 42nd St-Grand Central. You're just upset that Alexandra called me after all these years." No? Just me? OK, let's move on.

I urge all Cole Slaw Blog readers to enter the contest _ just think, you could be immortalized in tinny resonance for decades to come! More important, however, would be the fun of riding the metro in D.C. and knowing that one of my crunk or evil friends was advising me that thedoors were, in fact, fixin' to close.

I hope WMATA puts the winning voice and some of the best _ and worst _ other entries on its website. Hearing someone ham it up for a subway voice recording would rule.

Monday, January 09, 2006

The chair would like to thank the senator from Psychoklahoma

I sat at work today, typing away, bopping along to the Alito committee hearings that streamed over NPR.

The senators' opening comments varied from the vacuous to the predictable. Russ Feingold and Dick Durbin were fine. I'm starting to wonder if Chuck Schumer is becoming a rich man's Bob Torricelli -- a fundraising machine whose bland rhetoric consists of predictable bombast. But I digress.

The Senate Republicans were being Senate Republicans -- self-righteous, repetitive, more interested in biography than substance. Other than John Cornyn desperately squeezing the word "liberal" into any possible context, they were reasonably well behaved.

Then came Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.). I almost spit coffee onto the keyboard.

And the question that arises as we use all these adjectives and adverbs to describe our physicians as we approach a Supreme Court nominee is where are we in America when we decide that it's legal to kill our unborn children?

I mean, it's a real question for us. ...

The ripping and tearing of an unborn child from his mother's womb through the hands of another, and we say, "That's fine; you have a constitutional right to do that."

How is it that we have a right of privacy and due process to do that but you don't have the right, as rejected unanimously by the Supreme Court in 1997, to take your own life in assisted suicide?

You know, how is it that we have sodomy protected under that due process but prostitution unprotected? It's schizophrenic. And the reason it's schizophrenic is there's no foundation for it whatsoever other than a falsely created foundation that is in error.


Senator Brownback talked about those with disabilities that are destroyed in the womb because of a genetic test that is sometimes wrong. I would put forward that we all have disabilities.

Some of us, you just can't see it. And yet, who makes the decisions as to whether we're qualified or not?

But the fact is, is we're going to cover it with everything except the real fact is we've made a mistake going down that road in terms of saying we can destroy our unborn children and there's no consequences to it.

Here comes one crazy non-sequitur:

So I welcome you.

The video available at Crooks & Liars neither accentuates nor undercuts the craziness.

In the senator's defense, I don't think he intended to argue that prostitution should be legalized, although the plain language of his statement implies otherwise.

Also in his defense, it was a sort of beautiful breakdown in the stage-managed trudge toward Alito's confirmation. The Republicans want only to talk about Alito's biography. In his opening remarks, Alito all but read from his fourth-grade report card.

It was crazy Tom Coburn, more than any Democrat, who invited the committee to hold the side-order of bullshit and go to the heart of the matter. Granted, it was done inarticulately and with a direct plea to legalize prostitution, but in King Lear, it was The Fool who knew what was up. Coburn apparently wants to turn the confirmation process into a knockdown fight over abortion, which is politically good for the Democrats, and maybe a more honest debate in the end.

You're under arrest!

According to a new federal law, when you annoy people on the Internet, you must disclose your name. If you annoy anonymously, it's a crime. To wit:
Whoever...utilizes any device or software that can be used to originate telecommunications or other types of communications that are transmitted, in whole or in part, by the Internet... without disclosing his identity and with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten, or harass any person...who receives the communications...shall be fined under title 18 or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.
Crunk Raconteur annoyed the bejeezus out of me with his football-related comments. Evil Girl probably has annoyed my gentleman co-blogger during the life of this site. Speaking of him, I was annoyed with the headline he wrote to the post just below this one. He's anonymous, so I consider him a felon as well.

Consider this a citizen's arrest. I hope you all rot in jail, you annoying, anonymous bastards.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Stylin' Roundup: Haberdashery is the new Celebrity Ass-Fucking

Part of an occasional Cole Slaw Blog series.

Alex Kuczynski's preening "Critical Shopper" is on hiatus. Guest-consuming for her is William Norwich, who seems intent on turning the fixture into the Stylin' Section Men's Grille _ just as soon as he airs all his grievances about movies and the MTA strike and those money-grubbing cabbies and women who don't look suitably cell phone-knowledgeable because they're, well girly.

Yeah, it's going to be like that.

You can almost smell the Brooks Brothers Royall Lime in Norwich's piece. He could be Jack Cafferty's acerbic squash partner. Before we even get in the door at Worth & Worth, we've also decried the decline of the modern gentleman, the blurring of status boundaries and "decaffeinating our ascents."

I have no idea what that means. Maybe I need to "caffeinate my ass" and it'll be clear.

Then we get in the door of the joint, and it's easy to see he studied Alex's shtick. Names are dropped, including one that you'd know if you were the right kind of person (see? status boundaries aren't all gone, Bill). Anyway, if I had read about cool men's hats from Thrillist or some source with some remaining goddamn credibility, I might be kind of amused at the whole haberdashery thing. Who among us hasn't wondered what it'd be like if we all still sported fedoras, homburgs and the occasional porkpie or bowler?

Or even a Stetson. If my first idea for Halloween costume doesn't work out this year, I may have to go with "Hetero Cowboy" if only for the opportunity it presents for tipping my hat to ladies and pistol-whipping my co-blogger. Also, I'm planning on renting a player piano for my party _ so everything will be of a piece.

Where was I? Oh, right? Well, at least we weren't subjected to A-Kucz this week. As long as we don't read anything about swimming naked down at the country club, I'm straight.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

He thinks he's a monarch

No, not Vince Young.

President Bush on Wednesday made seventeen recess appointments, ranging from members of the Amtrak Reform Board to Deputy Secretary of Defense.

He's dropped all pretense of functioning like a normal president.

Elsewhere, left-wing bloggers are abuzz with a theory that the NSA has been monitoring Christiane Amanpour, the CNN international correspondent and wife to Clinton State Department Spokesman Jamie Rubin. I was skeptical about this until NBC released a statement implying that this smoke can be blamed on fire.

More on these power grabs, and a 1935 American novel that foreshadowed them, in the days ahead.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006


I take it for granted that our readers are fans of Arrested Development. Anyone with the common good sense to read Cole Slaw Blog probably also appreciates the humor on the soon-to-be-axed Fox show, too.

I do not say this to compare the genius of Arrested Development with our humble side-dish of a blog. My purpose is to point out this site to the few of our readers who care enough to save our Bluths.

The Flop Year in Fun: 10-1

OK, I'm much more optimistic about 2006 than I was about 2005. But then again, 2005 was my worst year since 2001. Goodbye and good riddance. When I look back on 2005, I'll focus more on the following things:

10. Internet video fun. I used to hate anything involving internet videos, especially the computer-crashing ones you get forwarded like five times. Call it more evidence of my Luddism, but my co-blogger's the one who regards text messages as the work of dark forces. My December was brightened by two clips. One showed University of Michigan students running around in Pac-Man costumes. The critic in me wishes they'd found a way to have a blue ghost get chased, or to devise fruit that materializes out of no where. The other film clip was mentioned in my iPod post. I watched it on the R train platform after the Alamo Bowl, mostly to keep from throwing myself in front of the next train.

9. Hilton Head. Spent a week at the beach in the middle of the fall. We had a guest blogger, Blog Pinup Brian and I invented a new sport, I got to grill out nearly every night and the weather was perfect. Also, I taught the (then-regnant) Queen of 2005 how to throw a football. Then I got worked like a Michigan State corner by Her Majesty. My only regret is that we never went crabbing. But I bought some local shrimp and grilled them.

8. Last Night, James Salter. A collection of short stories I read over and over again this spring. Salter is kind of known as a writer's writer, and it's easy to see why. He writes about regret and missed chances and roads not taken. Each story lands as softly as a snowflake. You don't notice them having any individual effect, but then you're sitting there on the subway imagining what it'll be like to run into ex-girlfriends 10 years from now.

7. Crenshaw Melon. This requires no explanation Does anything rule more than the 'shaw? No.

6. Squirrels are rodents, motherfucker. Although my co-blogger and I are equals, for the purposes of this blog (each of us owns 50 percent of the common stock in Cole Slaw Blog, Inc., and are co-principals in Ramekin Media Holdings), he basically considers me an unlettered dolt. So he was filled with screeching agony when he was proven wrong, and it turned out that squirrels really are rodents.

5. The Gooseberry Redemption. I attempted to blame humble produce for the flailings of a major league baseball team. But then I realized it was all my fault. But then the Indians got their shit together again, letting me off the hook. But then they missed the goddamn postseason by a narrow margin, anyway. It was still the best Indians season since 1999. What do you want? I told you it was a shitty year.

4. Sports blogs. 2003 was the year I first started reading blogs regularly. I had occasionally paid attention to the spastic Kausfiles when reading Slate. But on the eve of the Iraq war, I was basically reading as little actual news as possible. Until I read something about Josh Marshall being "on fire" lately. I clicked through and became a fan of the format. So it was natural that my interest, OK, my obsession, with sports would bring me to read blogs like Mistake by the Lake, Mgoblog, EDSBS and the like. (All linked on the right). Now I don't know what I'd do without them.

3. Rocky Top, performed by an imaginary blue crab. No, seriously. I forget when it was, but my co-blogger and I had met for a couple beers, and were later joined by the usual suspects (i.e. the queen and her pinup consort). At some point, talk turned to the upcoming Hilton Head trip. I explained that chicken necks were the preferred bait. I then illustrated this point by improvising new lyrics to the University of Tennessee's fight song, as I would imagine a crab singing them. I don't recall the exact lyrics, but I recall that "Oh boy, I sure do love chicken necks" was a key phrase. "Chicken necks, you'll always be, a favorite meal for me." This cracked up Crimenotes. Which then cracked me up. And that was the hardest I laughed in 2005.

Bonus note: I just looked up the lyrics to "Rocky Top" and they contain multiple references to moonshine. It would follow that Ohio State's songs contain references to uninformed voters, prison rape and public corruption. And only the most perceptive of our readers will realize that this is a swipe against Ohio, not the Buckeyes.

2. "Touchdown, Manningham!" Those of us who have the final minutes of the Penn State game saved on their DVRs know that this is what Brad Nessler said at the precise moment that 2005 peaked for me. Last season's shittiness was almost worth it, because we might never have had the finish against Penn State. Zeroes on the clock. Pandemonium on the field. Can I think of a better finish for Michigan that I actually got to see? Well, a couple spring to mind. But not one of them was that. Fucking Awesome. If Tyler Ecker had just tossed the football to Steve Breaston, it would have been the sweetest terrible season ever.

1. Alton Brown, genius. For all the gnashing of teeth and rending of garments I undertook in 2005, I'll take plenty of good out of it. 2005 is the year I discovered Alton Brown. And made him my hero. He's like a cool uncle you wish you had _ and I've got two pretty cool uncles. But neither one is an actual genius. Not in the kitchen anyway. Brown reminds me of those college professors who lived for teaching, and never got tired of explaining the basic stuff because they understood that it was the heart and soul of matters. Brown's enthusiasm is palpable _ and contagious. Good Eats is a staple on my DVR, and I also bought one of his books. I've changed how I do a lot of things in the kitchen, and I've tried to adopt his resourcefulness outside of it, as well. I feel about Alton Brown the way my co-blogger does about Craig Finn, but in a much less spazzy way. Everyone's invited over for roast pork loin once I get my oven calibrated. Or, in the spring, some brunch that entails some soft-shelled Callinectes sapidus, poached eggs and Alton's hollandaise.

Breaking News! Letterman shreds O'Reilly

If Bill O'Reilly is a two-bit Joe McCarthy, we're lucky to have David Letterman as a two-bit Edward Murrow. To wit:
"See, I'm very concerned about people like yourself who don't have nothing but endless sympathy for a woman like Cindy Sheehan. Honest to Christ."

"I'm not smart enough to debate you point to point on this, but I have the feeling, I have the feeling about 60 percent of what you say is crap. But I don't know that for a fact."
Go to the Late Show website on Wednesday and click on "Big Show Highlight." Crooks and Liars says it also will have video up on Wednesday morning.

Man, Joe Pa wins the Orange Bowl, Abramoff becomes a prosecution witness, and O'Reilly gets humiliated. 2006 really is a happy new year, and we get 362 more days of it!

Monday, January 02, 2006

The CrimeNotes Year in Fun: Nos. 10-1

I suspected that not many people would be reading us between Christmas and New Year's, and with the exception of googlers looking for information on child actors and a few loyal fans, I was correct. Hence, the delay in posting my epitaph for 2005. For the explanation of this arbitrary list of favorites, here's my earlier post.

The conclusion of my walk down memory lane:

10. The Squid and the Whale
. The blackest black comedy, a divorce movie that refuses to demonize the adults or romanticize the kids. Like Shakespeare's problem plays, this movie was three line changes away from tragedy. Director Noah Baumbach co-wrote Wes Anderson's lamentable Life Aquatic, but he forever earns a free pass after this. He appropriated Anderson's cockeyed sensibilities and stripped them of whimsy and tenderness. Beyond aesthetics, the movie had a rare understanding of the way people actually think and behave, in all of their narcissistic, self-destructive grandeur.

9. Sudoku. What's that, you say? Just try a little? A taste never killed anyone? Don't mind if I do. Oh, sweet relief. Baby, my hands can't stop shaking. What's that, you say? It's 2 a.m. and I should be asleep? I shouldn't spend my time in Italy sitting on a park bench doing numbers puzzles? You don't get it. Give it a try. Told you so. Goddammit, my hands won't stop shaking. These rings under my eyes are fucking me up, baby, I can't see straight. I'm going numb. I can't feel my hands, Marion. MARION I CAN'T FEEL MY HANDS FOR THE LOVE OF GOD MARION MY ARMS ARE-

8. Beer gardens at d.b.a. and Loreley. What could be nicer than sitting outside on a summer afternoon, arguing with friends over a pint? Doing the same in the fall on a fifty-degree night, when everyone else stays inside and you've got the patio to yourselves. Take your rooftop bars and frou-frou drinks and rumpshaking and move to Miami. If I can't have a front porch, these places are the next best things.

7. Ian McEwan. 2002: Publishes Atonement, an extraordinary book about childhood, war, and the power of writing fiction. 2005: Publishes Saturday, an extraordinarily awful book about adulthood, war, and the power of reading poetry. Saturday aimed high and failed in every way possible, from its priggish narrator to its fatuous, condescending inner monologues about the Iraq War, to an elitist and fanciful conclusion that could only have worked as a satire of intellectuals. McEwan's self-indulgent sleight of hand managed to hoodwink some of the brainiacs at Slate, where the book ended up on several best-of-2005 lists. By reminding me how great contemporary fiction can be with Atonement, then viscerally reminding me how maddening a bad novel can be with Saturday, no writer occupied my energy this year more than McEwan.

6. Six Feet Under ends. Does TV get any more absorbing than Six Feet Under? It assembled credible characters and dropped them in outlandish situations; its plots regularly pushed the lines of credibility, but because the characters felt so real, my critical judgment rested in the casket. Discussing it with friends, it seemed like everybody had their own idiosyncratic likes and dislikes about the show: I found David's whining self-pity unbearable, but Ruth's reservoir of quiet despair consistently moving. Don't get me started on Billy Chenowith.

The show concluded with a swing for the fences. I thought the conclusion was trite and nihilistic, but that didn't stop me from replaying it approximately 50 times.

5. The New Pornographers. The biggest threat that the anti-depressant industry has ever faced. Caught them live three times between June and October, and spent most of the fall overcaffeinated on Twin Cinema. Their unpretentious gaga-pop is a consistent source of joy. They deserve to be the world's most popular band, but as long as they're performing and recording, what does it matter? Their shows made me happy for days afterward, and Twin Cinema helps me through my many bleary mornings. Few things bring me such undiluted pleasure.

4. Generation Kill, by Evan Wright. Published in paperback in 2005, if this isn't the definitive account of soldiering in Iraq (a judgment I'm not qualified to make) it has to be the most absorbing. It has moments that are as thrilling as any I've experienced in war movies or writing, countered by blood-splattered brutality and horror. Evan Wright depicts his book's Marines as likeable and occasionally heroic without sentimentalizing or romanticizing. Apolitical and more concerned with the human drama than the morality of the Iraq war, it nevertheless reads as a blueprint for how everything would go wrong -- an out-of-touch leadership that permitted localized horrors run amok. Part one and part two of my thoughts on the book are still here, and while I've spent too many words praising this book, but when you find something this good, it's hard to shut up.

3. Europe. In September and October, I watched crazy Brits flip out over squirrels, drank with a Scotsman who owns a bar and loves George W. Bush, screened The Howling and Day of the Dead in Amsterdam, exhausted myself of antiquity in Rome and then saw a few too many homoerotic masterpieces while wandering through rainy Tuscany. I missed much too much college football in the process, but when your team goes 7-5 on the season, who can complain, especially when you get to follow Turkey's entry to the EU and see pretty things like this?


2. The Hold Steady. I had my Stones phase. I had my Dylan phase. 2003-04 brought me Neil Young and Crazy Horse, and for a few months in high school, I really liked the Grateful Dead. You know what was missing? By the time I found those guys, they were decades past their peak. In the case of Dylan and Neil, their recent output was inconsistent, although in Neil's case occasionally brilliant. The Stones and the Dead were moneymaking machines.

iTunes says I've listened to The Hold Steady's album "Separation Sunday" 53 times, which sounds a little low. Combine wild classic-rock guitar riffs, plus a little bit of piano and sax, with lyrics that sound like Jerry Springer crossbred with Flannery O'Connor crossbred with Jim Thompson and/or J.T. Leroy, and you still can't do them justice. I've finally found a rock band that I can love when it's in its prime. I don't expect that they'll ever be in the same league as Dylan or Neil, but it's not too much to say that they aim for the former's lyrical ambition and the latter's understanding of pop music history.

1. 2005 college football (social aspects only). This item is left half-blank. My team played for shit, prompting consistent misery, existential malaise, and a serious heart condition. Every Saturday might as well have been a replay of the 2004 election.

Without it, I would nevertheless have missed a kick-ass house party in Ann Arbor, a trip to Chicago, and a footballphilic wedding pre-party, several burgers at Shake Shack and a higher drinking tolerance. And then where would I be? Just an obsessive overread jackass who never went anywhere and enjoyed a healthy liver. No fun in that.

Other highlights: The following also brought me great happiness. Check them out or live in jealousy. "Rockin' It, Frat-Party Style," by Mike Sacks; Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer, by Warren St. John; "Lazy Sunday"; finally reading Don Quixote; Freakonomics, by Steven Levitt and Stephen Drubner; ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead, Worlds Apart; Sufjan Stevens, Illinois; the quasi-heroic Roger Toussaint; Air America's Randi Rhodes and Mike Malloy; On Beauty by Zadie Smith; the Henne-Manningham pass to end the Michigan-Penn State game; the Curb Your Enthusiasm episode where Larry and Susie masquerade as orthodox Jews; and Deadwood, season 2.

Clear skies, unfortunately

Reduced, for the moment, to hatin' ...

Tonight's forecast for Tempe, Ariz.:

Partly sunny. Breezy. Highs 68 to 73. East wind 5 to 15 mph in the morning...becoming south 15 to 25 mph in the afternoon.

No Active Advisories (US Severe Weather)

Well, that's not very promising. It also appears that no meteors or potentially hazardous space junk are, at this time, streaking menacingly toward the Southwestern United States.

So what are we left with? Well, I suppose there's the chance of food poisoning _ having both teams felled by gastric distress would be mildly giggleworthy. As would a plague of frogs or locusts _ signalling God's displeasure at the hubris of Notre Dame (we all know Boston College is His chosen* team, anyway) and the missing-link visage of A.J. Hawk.

But all of these things seem unlikely. So I'm reduced to hoping for a soul-crushing loss for one of these odious programs. Thankfully, I'm pretty sure Ohio State is capable of delivering one, despite Charlie Weis' pork-chop-fueled genius. I'll go ahead and predict a final score of 41-13.

* Yeah, I know, I know. Just think about it, though: God's team can't go undefeated every year, but I'm pretty sure the big man wouldn't countenance losing to Michigan State under any circumstances. And there's still that field goal in 1993, bitches.

I'd also point out that Michigan leads the all-time series with both of God's purported squads. And Satan's, too.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Habemus Regina

Under the reign of Her Majesty Blog Perv Danielle the Queen of 2006 (HMBPDQ2K6), 2006 shall be known as the Year of the Lime.

So this is the new year

A happy 2006 from all your friends at Cole Slaw Blog.

Reports of antics, including the playlist my co-blogger made entitled "[Flop] Music" (Montell Jordan, The Pixies, some bluegrass version of "Gin and Juice") will be forthcoming. Or not.

But for now, the most important news is that we have a new queen. The reign of HMQ2K5 has come to a beatific and boozy end. It was a good year, and we all owe our new queen emeritus a debt of gratitude.

A new queen is regnant o'er Cole Slaw Eternia. What challenges does her reign hold? Well, the bar is set pretty fucking low as far as Michigan football and competent White House leadership is concerned. Less so in the department of "putting up with our stupid shit" and "beauty beyond compare." So the new queen has her work cut out. But we wouldn't have chosen her if we thought she couldn't hack it.

Long live Her Majesty, the Queen of 2006!