FauxPolitik

Friday, February 25, 2005

Update from the Vatican: 1100 EST: Unconfirmed reports are seeping out that His Holiness has complained of the tartness of his puttanesca sauce. He decreed from his divine 8-way adjustable bed: "The anchovy seemed a bit strong." A vigil is planned this evening in Mexico during which time prayers will be said en masse for the hospital chefs to come to their senses, and use fresh anchovy, and not the paste.

1140 EST: According to sources from the Holy See, the Pope is reportedly firmly in Ashlee Simpson's camp. "Hey, sometimes your voice gets ragged and you need a little help. Remember that speech in Denver for World Youth Day, 1993? Totally canned. I just recycled a speech from an address I gave to some archbishops in 1989. No one seemed to mind. Mostly they played the hacky sack."

1252 EST: Papal spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls in his daily press conference confirmed that the Pontiff is contemplating what will likely be his final encyclical: "Catapultam habeo. Nisi pecuniam omnem mihi dabis, ad caput tuum saxum immane mittam." Navarro-Valls continued: "Of course, sometimes our Holy Father is a bit difficult to understand these days."

1422 EST: The peals from the bells of St. Peter's could be heard for miles upon news that Pope John Paul II had indeed finished "Halo 2" in a mere (and some are insisting upon divine intervention) 7 hours. The Pontiff was seen briefly at his hospital window, his thumbs packed in ice, waving to the adoring crowds below. Many Italian youth were cheering His name, and arguing loudly over whether the Pope preferred playing as the Master Chief or as the Covenant Elite.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

No diving for loose balls, I imagine: Federer vs. Agassi. Loser has to jump off the court.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Housekeeping: Items of note. 1) I'm taking the supposedly retired Sullivan off the blogroll as soon as blogger is working well enough for me to screw with the template (i.e., within the next 90 days). Do I hear any objections? Democracy in action.

2) Still sick. Taking time off to recover. Going to coastal New England with my wife (that's Mrs. Enobarbus) and the offspring. I'll have the laptop, so I may be posting. Don't expect miracles.

3) Just finished the Philip Norman bio of Buddy Holly, Rave On. It is, by a country mile, the best rock and roll bio I've ever come across, particularly considering that it takes on this biggest enigma in rock history. I'd argue that more Buddy than Elvis shows up in modern rock music -- more Buddy, in fact, than anyone who wasn't directly influenced by him. That's a big thing to say about a kid who spent roughly a year and a half recording and touring, then died at 21.

4) Jarvis, who is officially the unofficial take-it-to-the-media blogger, is on a roll lately, corresponding with the rather patronizing NYT editor Bill Keller. Go see.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

"Smith's Young Republican": Smith econ professor James D. Miller, about whom I've blogged before, gets cover story treatment from the local alternative newspaper regarding his long fight with both Smith College and the Association of American University Professors over his claim that he was denied tenure based on his conservative writings (for TCS, NRO, Weekly Standard). The article is, as they say, fair and balanced, and well worth a read.

A free-Iraq Democrat, of the Biden/Lieberman stripe, is enough of a rarity in this bastion of the Bushitler/No Blood for Oil mindset to stand out like a duck among geese. A real, live conservative is more like a Yeti sighting around here -- people hear stories about them wandering into civilized settings, knuckles dragging all the way, etc. -- but I doubt most residents have ever really, at least knowingly, talked to one.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Gates Leading Nowhere: Okay, just back from NYC last night. Saw "Avenue Q" (very inventive, quick humor, ruthless yet heartwarming), ate at "Asia de Cuba" (easily one of the best meals of my life; just great) and strolled through "The Gates".

Now, as Eno pointed out, there isn't much to this exhibition. I mean, it's impressive in its scope, but in the end, you've seen one window shade, you've seen them all. And, he's certainly not alone in this critique. My take is that Eno and the other "haters" are half-right. It's less an innovation than an invitation. You aren't blown away, and I'd argue, that's a good thing.

Many of the critics rushed out to see the Gates when the exhibition first "opened". Complaints of crowds and "addytude" seem to play a great part in their dislike for the spectacle. Conversely, taken in pieces, say first from on high out a hotel window, at dusk, and then on Valentine's Day morning while walking with the missus along meanering Central Park pathways, you see it for what it is: a fluid, ambitious and beautiful take on the world's most famous park.

I consider myself a minimally-educated art appreciator. Probably like most, I like what I know and know what I like, but don't take the opportunity too often to actually go see "art".

But walking through the gates, which are of varying width to accomodate the pathway, and watching the fabric blow gently blow every which way, you almost become captivated by the maze-like quality of the orange structures. When you walk beneath them, your world takes on this orange glow, that made me happy. The more we strolled, the more we both agreed that this wasn't spectacle, but something more organic, and meant to be interacted with, as opposed to just stared at.

This may all sound all very new agey, but I can tell you the experience of walking through that park will never be quite the same. Usually that park is a bubbling cauldron of diverse activity: dog-walking, sleeping, kissing, eating, arguing. But on that morning, everyones' eyes were on the big orange frames with the billowing fabric. Almost everyone would smile when you caught their eye - this is in New York City! In a town where eye contact is considered a form of visual rape, this may be Cristo's crowning achievement.

So, it's not on the level of his earlier works, but sometimes it's okay for art just to make you feel good, as opposed to forcing you to search for life's true meaning.

Rock On: Now, now, you do no justice whatsoever to my tonsure. Surely, when you call it a "mullet," 99% of readers think "a bowl cut with bangs in back." You know, hillbilly hair salad. Certainly not. It was, even you must admit, a coiff and then some.

Into the pleated breach: How fortuitous that you chose this moment to speak up on fashion, Dear Mr. Eno. I was going to post first-thing this morning upon my return from NYC and Cristo's "Gates" exhibit, but that shall have to wait.

Your timing is indeed fortuitous b/c just last night I was perusing through a sheaf of old pictures that my parents dropped off to my house. These pictures were among other keepsakes from college, and most relevant to this discussion, high school.

Harken back to 1989, Spring...prom time. You may recall, Eno, you attended a pre-gala champagne tasting at my residence, along with our mutual rockstar friend, lets-call-him Steinberger. We three were all decked out in typical rent-a-tux attire, and our feet where clad with Chuck Taylors - oh, we were so witty! But it is not what we wore on our bodies, nor our feet, that I wish to bring up by way of introduction to my repost to your reply on pleats, or as I call them "fan pants". No, it is what you wore on your head...namely a mop of hair that defied not only convention, but description.

Fortunately, today we have a name for that monstrosity: the mullet. Yes, but it wasn't just any mullet, it was a mullet of epic proportions. It was spiky on top, long and straight in the back. It was full, it was blown-dry, it had a lustrous sheen - in short, you embodied the "business in front, party in the back" attitude any true mullet afficionado should project.

You wore your mullet with an aggressive elan, saying, without speaking a word, "You cannot possibly hope to rock as much as me!" No...we could not; we didn't even try. I shall make one or more of these pictures available to the highest bidder on Ebay - for your sanity, I shall excise any pictures of your date. Nonetheless, the publication of these photos will instantly render your credibility on style to ashes.

Now, on to fan pants. First, I would note that flat fronts are not outdated - quite to the contrary. Pleats may indeed be comfortable, but as I am fond of saying in response to those who would have me wear Birkenstocks, I bet wearing peanutbutter-and-jelly sandwiches on ones' feet would be comfortable as well - you just don't see anyone doing it.

Nay, pleats should follow the path of waistcoats, high starch collars, and spats. Each had its merit, but time passed them by. Pleats should be left to Catholic school girls' skirts, and let the men of society walk about without being pulled about by a cross-wind catching one of the creases on our pants.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Paging Professor Fashion: Boy, I have been out of it. I totally missed this Razor post from last week decrying the prevalence of pleats in men's pants:
Why don't you just shove one of those Japanese hand-fans down my pants, and expand? That would look about just as silly as pants with these stupid sewn-in creases in them. What visually-impaired genius came up with them anyway? And try to buy pants without them. Sure, you CAN, but you have to waste so much time finding the pair that you want.
Before I unload, I'm sure I should ask Razor to clarify, since he's popped off about fashion before, only to have to backtrack. So, are we talking about dress pants? They're pleated so that they can be worn with a blazer without looking like some sort of 1970s sans-a-belt number. Khakis? Sorry, buddy, but flat-front khakis went out with penny loafers worn with white athletic socks.

As for your waist/inseam disparity, Razor, I suggest you consider bespoke tailoring to fit your odd shape. (When you gave your virile measurements to our audience, you didn't mention that you are a hunchback with a wooden leg. Slip your mind?)

Anyhow, there's nothing wrong with pleats on a man with a good figure. They serve a purpose -- allowing one to sit comfortably -- which is more than can be said for, say, cuffs, which somehow don't raise your blood pressure. (Furthermore, do you own pants with cuffs? Having cuffs without pleats is like having curled-up collar points -- a sure sign that you don't get it.)

Pleats were once found only in suit pants, where the material of one's jacket hid the pleating. One was secretly comfortable, like that judge you know who wears nothing but socks under his robe. Today, style has eased to allow more comfort in. I doubt your shirt plackets are starched to 2x4 hardness, nor are you likely to wear a waistcoat or a high collar -- or even your suit jacket all day.

Oh, one more thing. Do you dress right or left?

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Eason Jordan: I haven't had anything to say on this, though I've been following it with interest. Seems to me that the upshot needs no real explication. The media itself, in fact, told the world the rule, back in the Watergate days: It's not the crime that gets you, but the coverup. Now the media, too, is learning this the hard way. (Or maybe not: Hillary worked on the Watergate team for the House, and still she and her husband lied and stonewalled. Here's hoping the media learns the lesson better.) Jarvis has a good wrap.

Deacon at Power Line posts this follow up, pre-empting charges of McCarthyism.

Also lots of talk about blogs being a cyber lynch mob. Like the McCarthyism charge, this seems ridiculous. Will Collier's apostrophe to the media says it well:

[E]verybody out here has the right--and ability--to fact-check your asses, and call you on it when you screw up and/or say something stupid . . . You obviously don't like that reality, but it is reality, and you'd better start learning to live with it instead of tossing ad hominen insults at your critics.
By the way, is this finally definitive proof of the "power of the blogs" idea? I'm not sure. Having big guns like Hewitt and Kudlow on the story forced CNN's hand, I think. Still, it was citizen journalists who made/scooped/followed this story. And it was solid work. Complaints from the media of lynch mobs or McCarthyism are foolish, given the frequency with which some foolish liberal editorial page agitates for so-and-so's resignation for lesser offenses. This story was smartly and evenhandedly covered by most blogs, the greater number of whom weren't simply saying "Jordan should resign" but saying instead "Jordan should come clean about what he said.

For the record, this may be a real first: a prominent figure shoots his mouth off, is publically embarrassed, and has to resign, and nobody knows what the hell he really said. I don't like that much, since it is the absolute opposite of transparency and accountability in media, but Jordan and CNN brought it on themselves.

Finally, media navel-gazer Howard Kurtz's reputation took a major hit from this one. See Kaus, here and below.

Friday, February 11, 2005

It's Not Art, It's 23 Miles of Window Treatment: Christo's "Gates" opens this morning in Central Park. I find that I haven't all that much to say about this. Yeah, I'm pretty shocked, too, but I've been sick all week, and maybe I'm just not myself.

So, bully for you, Christo. It takes a gosh-darned for-real artist to Christopher Lowell 8,000 tacked-together temporary window frames. Consider me awed by your brilliant use of grand scale to convey the smallness of your ideas.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Failing Upward: Today, HP announced the ouster of Carly Fiorina as CEO, a position she held for the past six years. Predictably, HP's stock adjusted upward with the news.

The last six years of Ms. Fiorina's career reveals an interesting case study in how to succeed without ummm, succeeding.

Ms. Fiorina worked for a long time at AT&T, and then jumped to its Network Systems group in 1996; a move considered high-risk, no-reward by the entrenched long distance people. The Network Systems division was spun off into this little company called Lucent Technologies. She quickly became the head of its North American operations and in 1999, an even tinier company called Hewlett Packard came knocking; seeking to re-engineer itself in light of the tech mania the world was experiencing at the end of the 20th Century.

Back in 1999, Lucent was the end-all, be-all of the tech world. Its stock was through the roof, it had cool commercials, and everyone wanted a piece.

Fiorina was considered a hard-charger and an effective leader; Lucent's stock position was proof positive. It was therefore a natural decision to pick her to run one of the largest and most pedigreed tech companies as it turned the corner into the 21st century. Right?

So, she jumps ship to HP, re-orders the corporate culture, stages a near-coup in challenging the founders' offspring in buying Compaq (arguing the move brought instant heft in the pc market), and positions the company to be a player in the consumer products world. The results? She oversees a 55% stock price decline since her annointment.

HP announced just last month that it was combining its lucrative printer business with the rest of its PC group, to buttress overall profitability. This is what Fiorina said she was going to do when she started.

Oh and by the way, Lucent is trading at under $4/share today, and hasn't been above $10 since 2000. Its wildly-inflated stock price back in '99 of course being no more indicative of its worth than any other tech stock back then.

Timing, is as they say, everything. Importantly, I've presided over a 2,000% increase in the value of FauxPolitik since inception. I'm available for interviews.

Speak the truth!: It is apparent that those in the service portion of the US military (as opposed to the political arm) speak the truth. General Mattis' comments are only the last in a long line.

Varifrank has a few more from other generals in our history.

To continue the meme, I offer you various comments from anonymous and/or lesser known military commanders; some being quite recent. Sorry for the length, but they're all pretty good, even if (I suspect) some are apocryphal. Thanks to my buddy in the USNR.

"The 'L' in CENTCOM stands for leadership

"At this Command, we have written in large, black letters: DNR (Do Not
Resuscitate) on the back of our security badges." Maj (CENTCOM)

"'Leaning forward' is really just the first phase of 'falling on your face.'" Marine Col (MARFOREUR)

"I am so far down the food chain that I've got plankton bites on my butt."

"None of us is as dumb as all of us." Excerpted from a brief (EUCOM)

"We're from the nuke shop, sir. We're the crazy aunt in the closet that nobody likes to talk about ..." Lt Col (EUCOM) in briefings

"Things are looking up for us here. In fact, Papua-New Guinea is thinking of offering two platoons: one of Infantry (headhunters) and one of engineers (hut builders). They want to eat any Iraqis they kill. We've got no issues with that, but State is being anal about it." LTC (JS) on OIF coalition-building.

"The chance of success in these talks is the same as the number of "R's" in "fat chance..."" GS-15 (SHAPE)

"His knowledge on that topic is only power point deep..." MAJ (JS)

"Ya know, in this Command, if the world were supposed to end tomorrow, it would still happen behind schedule." CWO4 (EUCOM)

"We are condemned men who are chained and will row in place until we rot." LtCol (CENTCOM) on life at his Command

"Right now we're pretty much the ham in a bad ham sandwich..." GO/FO
(EUCOM)

"If we wait until the last minute to do it, it'll only take a minute."
MAJ(EUCOM)

"The only reason that anything ever gets done is because there are pockets of competence in every command. The key is to find them ... and then exploit the hell out of 'em." CDR (CENTCOM)

"I may be slow, but I do poor work..." MAJ (USAREUR)

"Cynicism is the smoke that rises from the ashes of burned out dreams." Maj
(CENTCOM) on the daily thrashings delivered to AOs at his Command.

"WE are the reason that Rumsfeld hates us..." LTC (EUCOM) doing some standard, Army self-flagellation

"Working with Hungary is like watching a bad comedy set on auto repeat..." LCDR (EUCOM)

"I finally figured out that when a Turkish officer tells you, "It's no problem," he means, for him." Maj (EUCOM)

"Never in the history of the US Armed Forces have so many done so much for so few..." MAJ (Task Force Warrior) on the "success" of the Free Iraqi Forces (FIF) Training Program, where 1100 Army troops trained 77 Iraqi exiles at the cost of, ...well, ...way too much...

"Our days are spent trying to get some poor, unsuspecting third world country to pony up to spending a year in a sweltering desert, full of pissed off Arabs who would rather shave the back of their legs with a cheese grater than submit to foreign occupation by a country for whom they have nothing but contempt." LTC (JS) on the joys of coalition building

"I guess the next thing they'll ask for is 300 US citizens with Hungarian last names to send to Iraq..." MAJ (JS) on the often-frustrating process of building the Iraqi coalition for Phase IV

"Between us girls, would it help to clarify the issue if you knew that Hungary is land-locked?" CDR to MAJ (EUCOM) on why a deployment from Hungary is likely to proceed by air vice sea

"So, what do you wanna do?"..."I dunno, what do YOU wanna do?"..."I dunno, what do YOU wanna do?," etc. COL (DIA) describing the way OUSD(S) develops and implements their strategies

"I'll be right back. I have to go pound my nuts flat..." Lt Col
(EUCOM) after being assigned a difficult tasker

"I guess this is the wrong power cord for the computer, huh?" LtCol
(EUCOM) after the smoke cleared from plugging his 110V computer into a 220V outlet

"OK, this is too stupid for words." LTC (JS)

"When you get right up to the line that you're not supposed to cross, the only person in front of you will be me!" CDR (CENTCOM) on his view of the value of being politically correct in today's military

"There's nothing wrong with crossing that line a little bit, it's jumping over it buck naked that will probably get you in trouble..." Lt Col
(EUCOM) responding to the above

"Never pet a burning dog." LTC (Tennessee National Guard)

"Ah, the joys of Paris: a unique chance to swill warm wine and be mesmerized by the dank ambrosia of unkempt armpits.." LCDR (NAVEUR)

"'Status quo,' as you know, is Latin for 'the mess we're in...'" Attributed to former President Ronald Reagan

"We are now past the good idea cutoff point..." MAJ (JS) on the fact that somebody always tries to "fine tune" a COA with more "good ideas"

"Nobody ever said you had to be smart to make 0-6." Col (EUCOM)

"I haven't complied with a darn thing and nothing bad has happened to me yet."

"Whatever happened to good old-fashioned military leadership? Just task the first two people you see."

"Accuracy and attention to detail take a certain amount of time."

"I seem to be rapidly approaching the apex of my mediocre career." MAJ
(JS)

"Much work remains to be done before we can announce our total failure to make any progress."

"It's not a lot of work unless you have to do it." LTC (EUCOM)

"Creating smoking holes (with bombs) gives our lives meaning and enhances our manliness." LTC (EUCOM) at a CT conference

"Eventually, we have to 'make nice' with the French, although, since I'm new in my job, I have every expectation that I'll be contradicted." DOS rep at a Counter Terrorism Conference

"Everyone should have an equal chance, but not everyone is equal."

"You can get drunk enough to do most anything, but you have to realize going in that there are some things that, once you sober up and realize what you have done, will lead you to either grab a 12-gauge or stay drunk for the rest of your life."

"Once you accept that a dog is a dog, you can't get upset when it barks." Lt Col (USSOCOM)

"That guy just won't take 'yes' for an answer" MAJ (EUCOM)

"Let's just call Lessons Learned what they really are: institutionalized scab picking."

"I can describe what it feels like being a Staff Officer in two words: distilled pain." CDR (NAVEUR)

"When all else fails, simply revel in the absurdity of it all." LCDR
(CENTCOM)

"Never attribute to malice that which can be ascribed to sheer stupidity." LTC (CENTCOM)

"They also serve, who sit and surf the NIPR." CPT (CENTCOM)

"I hear so much about Ft. Bragg. Where is it?" "It's in the western part of southeastern North Carolina." LCDR and CPT (EUCOM)

"I've become the master of nodding my head and acting like I give a sh_t, and then instantly forgetting what the hell a person was saying the moment they walk away." Flag-level Executive A$$istant

"Mark my words, this internet thing is gonna catch on someday." LTC
(EUCOM)

"You're not a loser. You're just not my kind of winner..." GS-14 (OSD)

"He who strives for the minimum rarely attains it." GS-12 (DOS)

"If I'd had more time, I'da written a shorter brief..." Maj (EUCOM)

"I work at EUCOM. I know bullsh_t when I see it." LTC (EUCOM) in a game of office poker

"You only know as much as you don't know." GO (EUCOM)

"I'm just livin' the dream..." EUCOM staffer response to the question, "How's it going?" or, "What are you doing?"

"I'm just ranting...I have nothing useful to say." LTC (EUCOM)

"Why would an enemy want to bomb this place and end all the confusion?" GS-14 (EUCOM)

"Other than the fact that there's no beer, an early curfew and women that wear face coverings for a very good reason, Kabul is really a wonderful place to visit." LTC (CENTCOM)

"It was seen, ...visually." LTC (EUCOM) during a Reconnaissance briefing

"Let me tell you about the benefits of being on a staff..." "This should be a short conversation." LtCol to Lt Col (EUCOM)

"Hello gentlemen. Are we in today or are you just ignoring my request?" GS-15 (DSCA) in an email to EUCOM staffers

"After seeing the way this place works, I bet that Mickey Mouse wears a EUCOM watch." Maj (EUCOM)

"Your Key Issues are so 2003..." CPT (CJTF-180) in January 2004

"USCENTCOM commanders announced today that they intend to maintain their presence in Qatar "until the sun runs out of hydrogen," thus committing the US to the longest duration deployment in human history. when asked how they planned to maintain the presence in Qatar for a projected length of 4 to 5 billion years, planners said "we're working on a plan for that. We don't have one yet, but not having a plan or an intelligent reason to do something has never been much of an impediment for us in the past; we don't foresee it being a big show stopper for us in the future either."

Among the options that were being discussed was an innovative program to "interbreed" the deployed personnel. "We are going to actively encourage the military members in Qatar to intermarry and raise children that will replace them in the future. Sure, it may be a little hard on some of our female service members, since there are currently are about 8 men for every woman over there, but we expect that to be OBE as the sex ratios will even out in a generation or two. In any case the key to the plan is to make these assignments not only permanent, but inheritable and hereditary. For example, if you currently work the JOC weather desk, so will your children, and their children, and their children, ad infinitum. We like to think of it as job security." CPT
(CJTF-180)

"That's FUBIJAR." COL (CENTCOM), Fu--ed Up, But I'm Just a Reservist...

"I keep myself confused on purpose, just in case I am captured and fall into enemy hands!" GO/FO (CENTCOM)

"Does anybody around here remember if I did anything this year?" LTC
(EUCOM) preparing his Officer Evaluation Report support form

"I'd be happy to classify this document for you. Could you tell me its classification?" GS11 (EUCOM) in an email from the Foreign Disclosure office


"Nothing is too good for you guys...and that's exactly what you're gonna get..." LTC (EUCOM) describing the way Army policy is formulated

"The only thing that sucks worse than being me is being you..." LTC
(EUCOM)

"I have to know what I don't know..." Col (CENTCOM) during a shift changeover briefing

"No. Now I'm simply confused at a higher level..." Foreign GO/FO when asked if he had any questions following a transformation brief at JFCOM

"I'm planning on taking the weekend off...notionally..." LT (EUCOM) midway through a huge, simulated command exercise

"I've heard of 'buzzwords' before but I have never experienced a 'buzz sentence' or a 'buzz paragraph' until today." Maj (EUCOM) after listening to a JFCOM trainer/mentor

"We've got to start collaborating between the collaboration systems." "Our plan for the Olympics is to take all the ops and put it in the special room we have developed for ops." GO/FO (EUCOM)

"Did you hear that NPR is canning Bob Edwards?" "Why? Did they catch him standing up for the National Anthem or something??" COL to CDR (EUCOM)

"Not to be uncooperative, but we're just being uncooperative." CDR
(EUCOM) in an email response to a request for information

"He cloaked himself in an impenetrable veneer of terminology." Lt Col JFCOM describing the Jiffiecom alpha male

"Transformation has long been the buzzword for those that are dispossessed, dispirited and disillusioned..." Chaplain (EUCOM), allegedly.

"There are more disconnects on this issue than CENTCOM has staff officers" GO/FO (EUCOM)

"Is that a Navy or a Marine admiral?" MAJ (EUCOM)

Monday, February 07, 2005

What took them so long?: The US Federal Bureau of Prisons is ending the "boot camp" style of incarceration.

Seems that the basic training mode didn't decrease recividism. No, it only made them really strong, fast and disciplined. Let's see: choice A) put them in small, cramped cells, feed them high-carb food, give them no direction or motivation, and let them kill eachother off through ritualized gang warfare or B) create elite super-soldier criminal who like to get up early in the morning and are very adept at climbing over obstacles. Hmmm, lemme think here...

Aiiieeee!: I hate pleats! I can't stand the fucking things. Why don't you just shove one of those Japanese hand-fans down my pants, and expand? That would look about just as silly as pants with these stupid sewn-in creases in them. What visually-impaired genius came up with them anyway? And try to buy pants without them. Sure, you CAN, but you have to waste so much time finding the pair that you want.

Then, it appears I am either the most popular size or the absolute least. 35 in waist, 34 inseam. Doesn't sound so terribly freakish does it? I'm 6'2", 210 lbs -- you know...similar to Terrel Owens. Anyway, what is the deal??? First of all, it's either 34 inch waist or 36. Fine, I'll wear the 36 - a touch loose, but comfortable. But Nnoooooo. You'll either need to be a dwarf with a 30" inseam, or to get the 34 inseam, I suddenly need a 40" waist. It's McDonalds' fault!! Too many trans-fatty acids. For my sake, everyone...stop fucking eating and start exercising! Or convince the Ecuodorian seamstresses that not all Americans are sized like their husbands. We big giants! No pot belly. No fans in pants!!

Like I said...: ... you can't account for turnovers. McNabb caused too many. If he threw one instead of three, the Iggles probably win that game by 7 or 10. Oh well, that's why the Pats are a "DYNASTY". Excuse me if I don't fellate Tom Brady.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

What's in a name?: Heh. Bottom 50 Blog Names. My faves:

PicturesOfMyTaintInLowLightConditionsPlusEssays.com

TheOnlyWayAnyoneWillEverReadMyHorriblePoetry.org

VelvetClad.ChunkyGothGirls.com

Laying it on the line: Didn't see POTUS deliver the SOTU, so as far as commentary, I'm SOL (apparently, I wasn't alone in ignoring W). I like reforming S.S. and the elections in Iraq were a great second step toward stability. Long road ahead, however. Agree that Dems are so lost they need GPS to get out of the rhetorical forest they've wound themselves into.

So, let's move on to what is truly important: the Eagles winning the Super Bowl. Suffice to say if they win, this city will go apesh*t. It will be a simply ludicrous level of celebration, elation and intoxication. The parade will be Tuesday, the 8th, which is also Fat Tuesday - nuff said. My office is right across the street from City Hall, which will be the epicenter of the parade. There will be no work done that day.

Now, can the Eagles win? Well, of course, they can. They are a strong, sound team. But they face the don't-call-us-a-dynasty Patriots, who have their Genius coach, their marquee, undefeated-in-the-playoffs QB, and the team-oriented group of overachievers who play as if possessed. Surely, there is no way for the Birds to overcome this, what with their "running quarterback", their limping WR, and their just-happy-to-be-there attitude.

Accept the fact that anything can happen in a given football game. A random fumble recovery turns into points, which turns into momentum, which wins the day. A freak injury takes out a key player, which leads to pandemonium, which loses the day. A couple of things like this will take all the wind out of mastermind game-planning, and inspired game-play.

So, lets leave out the freak occurrences which no one can account for. Here's how the Eagles can win. First, defense. Philly and NE tied for points allowed this year at 260 - which was nearly the best in the NFL. This defense, since Trotter has returned to the MLB position, has really shut down run offenses, and throw in The Freak and its excellent secondary, plus the great game plans of Jim Johnson, and this is a defense that can make Brady commit mistakes (a la his game in Miami). Either we get key turnovers, or we manage to just shut the offense down, which apart from Dillon, lacks a true stud go-to guy.

Our offense can unfortunately be hit-or-miss. And we don't do so well playing 3-4 defense, granted the two 3-4s we played this year were Pittsburgh and Baltimore. TO is likely only going to be a one-trick pony. If he can't be explosive, that means they can only use him on one play as a decoy where the defense will pay attention to him. The other side of the coin is that he over does the limp and then pulls off one play to the surprise of the defense. Nonetheless, unless he's close to 100% (which he isn't), he will be of minimal use.

Westbrook and McNabb will have to carry the day, and of course, Belichek knows this. Problem is, it's hard to shut them both down. If you key up on Westbrook, say put a corner on him when he's split wide, you leave a safety or LB on a WR (and for all their faults, the Eagles' WR are fast). Still, even if you manage to shut down Westbrook, you have to contend with McNabb, who can evade the rush and make runs on his own. He's not interception-prone, but you can get him to fumble. Still, all-in-all, this was his best year ever, but it's a matter of whether that was b/c of T.O. or not. The games in the playoffs indicate not. McNabb can really shine here, and if so, they will score points. One set-back was losing our starting TE, who except for our game against Atlanta, didn't do a whole lot. His understudy is really quite good, so not a huge drop-off. But, our newly installed (old) TE, Thomason, has considerable rust, and a few missed blocks may cost us.

Special teams. There is talk of Westbrook returning punts - something at which he can excel. The Pats don't have a great coverage team. If Westbrook can put up yards or score, look out. Both teams have great kickers, so I'd feel comfortable with Akers having to win the game.

Still, I choose to believe. This is the best Eagles team in decades. NE is not invincible, and with its iffy secondary, there may be some openings deep. I say low-scoring, but not that close. 24-13, Eagles.

An Observation: I realized something about the current generation of liberals, the ones who came of age in the 1960s, when the establishment/government was "the man," and he was on your back. They talked a good game, but when it came to fishing time, they all cut bait. What they decided was that they didn't want to get "the man" off your back so much as replace him with a sensitive new-age kind of "man": Instead of drafting you, he'd demand that you do volunteer work to get a high school diploma; rather than sending the FBI to snoop around your ass, he'd just hector you on TV about quitting smoking, your brain on drugs, the imperilment of the environment, wearing your seat belt, not beating your children, and taking pride in belonging to a strong and noble race (as long as it was a designated oppressed minority race, since being proud of being "white" is racist).

The 60s ethic was, pretty much, a libertarian one. But the white liberals became the establishment, "the man," and they kind got a kick out of it.

Rambling Thoughts on the Response: I think the Dems are nuts to have Reid and Pelosi sell their version. The first thing that struck me was that, for all the flak Bush gets for being inarticulate, at least he's not unctuous, twittery, condescending, or simply phony, as all the high-ranking Democrats seem to be. The Dems have perfected the art of talking down to the American people. Tom Daschle was a master. Harry Reid seems to be pretty good himself, with his aw-shucks, instant Republican, "simple values" schtick about where he grew up. Yes, Bush's style of speech is halting, repetitive (especially when unscripted), and the very opposite of the Great Communicator's lofty rhetoric delivered with an actor's sense of timing. The Democrats should be so lucky to have as bad a speaker as Bush, because, like him or not, I think he came across to Americans as genuine. When was the last time you watched a Democrat who seemed genuine?

As I said last night, I'm not in agreement with the president on everything. But he won me over anyway. I think his Social Security reform plan is timid, watery stuff. But what did the Democrats offer in return? They sat on their hands when Bush talked about nest eggs that belong to the people who earn them. That sends a message. Then, in their response, the Dems talked about "Social Security roulette." But Bush had already answered that critique in his speech by mentioning the federal TSP withholding option. In other words, for some reason it's okay to play roulette with the retirement funds of federal workers.

Another example. Here's Pelosi:

We must extend the hand of friendship to our neighbors in Latin America. We must work to stop the genocide in Sudan. We must reinvigorate the Middle East peace process. And we must bring health and hope to people suffering from disease, devastation and the fury of despair.
Oh, it all sounds so meaningful, and you can be so sure that she goes home at night and cries over her chicken picatta that she didn't get it all done today. But look at it clearly. Extend the hand of friendship to Latin America? I thought that was the idea of Bush's hemisphere-of-free-trade vision? Oh, wait, you mean give them stuff!

Work to stop the genocide in Sudan? Say, aren't your "multilateral" buddies at the UN in the middle of another head-in-the-sand Rwanda move on that issue? Go ask them if they mind us being unilateral on this one.

How about the mid-east "peace" process? This president froze the biggest impediment to peace, Arafat, out of the process, leaving him to die in metaphoric exile, ruling his kleptocratic little non-state and making sure things got no better for "his people" so that they wouldn't suddenly catch a nasty case of middle-class values and decide that sending their sons and daughters on buses to Jerusalem to explode was a slightly worse idea than sending their sons and daughters on buses to Jerusalem to go to schools, jobs, and businesses of their own.

Bring hope to people suffering from disease and despair? As for disease, Bush ended eight years of empty-gesture politics on third-world AIDS relief. And, for despair, curing that doesn't get much better than a free election. Did you see the young Iraqi woman last night, holding up her trembling hand, making the Victory-sign (those of you who thought she was signaling "peace" need to think again) and the one-finger "I voted for the first time in my life without having to worry that the guy I voted against will arrest and torture me tomorrow" gesture? Bronx cheers to the Democrats (and isolationist Republicans) who look at that and say, "Well, yes, but . . ."

Bush makes Americans feel hopeful. Now, I don't want to see his agenda enacted. (It's full of stuff I think goes either too far or not far enough.) But I'll side with him over the lemon-sucking faces across the aisle. They had two years to sell us the idea that Iraq was a failure, and now they're stuck with a big piece of good news that the media is pretty much forced to report, since it's, er, also kinda big news: possibly the most free, fair, and democratic election the Arab mid-east has ever seen. Thus, I'll stick with the president on Social Security, too. Maybe he can get half a loaf -- better that than the status quo. Screw the "it can't be done" crowd. It can be done. Screw the "we can't cut benefits" crowd. Of course we can. And we can kick the rich old farts off the wagon and raise the retirement age at the same time. Granny deserves a nice, long retirement, but twenty-five years of taxpayer subsidized golf (indexed to wage growth rather than inflation: Granny's a growth fund; who knew?) in Sun City is a bit much. If she's so goddamn "vital" in her golden years, she can keep a part-time job.

Finally, if I may indulge in some cynicysm for a moment: If recent electoral trends are any indication, being anti-reform is the last hope for the Dems to get in on a growing market of voters: old-age pensioners. I don't think there's any other explanation for this kind of political duplicity and cowardice.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

SOTU: I don't think I have to agree with all of Bush's proposals to say: great speech. And I don't. And it was. Sure, there was plenty of micropolicy crap. Sure, the gay marriage thing, to my ears, was totally unworthy of this speech. But so what. Kudos to the president on this one.

Best use of SOTU guests ever, by the way. As Jarvis says here, "Who could not be touched by the mother of a son killed fighting for freedom hug[ging] the daughter of a man who died for freedom in Iraq." Or, as Steve says here, "If you're not tearing up a little right now, you're not watching. Again, words fail." Roger Simon has more, too.

More tomorrow.

We're changing our name to "SpinKillHardThrust": The big news in the talking head game is that Tucker Carlson has landed safely (phewww) at MSNBC. Yes, the one-time "Crossfire" co-host, who was ridiculed (rightfully and unmercifully) by John Stewart, is going to head up a new show right after Joe Scarborough's. Yes, it's back-to-back conservative shouting and mocking!

No word on what Carlson will call his show, but it's guaranteed to fit one of two molds: It will have his name and then some pseudo-journalistic tag or alliterative device like "The Carlson Files" (a la "The O'Reilly Factor" - which has its own sub-title of the "No Spin Zone") or "Tucker Tonight".

Alternatively, he'll have to go with a one or two syllable hostile-sounding title which indicates that on HIS show, there will be nothing but hard-hitting questions and no-nonsense analysis like "Countdown", "Crossfire", "Hardball", "SquawkBox" or "Bullseye".

Sure he could go with the populist choice like "Common Sense" (FOX) or maybe scary/official, like "On the Record" (FOX again), but that doesn't seem to fit his bow-tie-wearing ways.

Here's hoping that no matter what he calls his show, he has Stewart on real soon, and that it's off the air within six months.

Could Be Worth Blogging: Hey, there might actually be something left to say, now that it appears Howard Dean will be holding the cigar box for the Dems.
The leading group of [California] Democratic Party officials on Monday backed Howard Dean's bid for the party's national chairmanship, establishing the former presidential candidate as the contest's prohibitive favorite.

"I think the race is over," Art Torres, chairman of the California Democratic Party, said after the decision.

This reminds me of when the Democrats went down in flames in the 2002 mid-terms: Every pundit known to man said the message was clear, that the Dems need to abandon the folly of predicating their entire platform on the failure of Bush's policies. After all, by hook or by crook, Bush has been pretty successful; and, on top of that, the American people tend to see his successes as America's successes (let's say, for example, free elections in Afghanistan and Iraq). In other words, the Dems were looking silly, sitting on the sidelines, praying for bad news in Iraq or a stall in the economy.

Instead, of course, the Dems made shrill Nancy Pelosi their minority leader in the legislative body closest to the people; then, after a brief anti-war fling with the mad Dr. Dean, they nominated the thoroughly ineffective John Kerry (who, on the war, was himself not totally unopposed to those who opposed the opposition of the oppositionists who . . . ah, forget it) for president. And now they're digging screaming Howard again.

Anybody know if a two-term president has ever added to his majority in both of his mid-term elections? Because I foresee the GOP picking up seats in 2006.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Sullivan: Far be it from me to lay into someone who is less than starry eyed about the blogosphere. (I've never been particularly boosterish about the much-bandied influence of blogging, though it sure seemed Sullivan was when Howell Raines was forced out.) It's a good time to give it a rest, I think. I've toyed with the idea myself, though Razor's snippy attitude always brings me back to thrash him a bit more.

To be frank, Sullivan's site dropped off my own must-read list about 5 minutes after he went off the rails over the war/WMD/quagmire in Iraq stuff. For a prominent supporter of the war, he blanched pretty quickly when things turned rather war-like in Iraq. And I have no patience for his Kerry-istic critiques that imply or state that one only had to do this Iraq thing the right way, a way that was, it seems, obvious all along. Hogwash. It was Monday morning quarterbacking, nothing more.

The other thing that gets me is Sullivan's attitude toward the GOP. Now I make no claim to being Mr. Republican, but I'm realistic enough to see that socially liberal, market-minded independents can either assert themselves within the only major party that is not openly hostile to the free market, the GOP, or they can continue to wander in the third-party wilderness. Sullivan must have known how the GOP was going to play a marriage amendment. He's a Republican, after all. He must get the mailings. His attitude was a little too "how dare you" to be believable. Recall that the man Sully ended up endorsing, John Kerry, tried to claim that there was no daylight between himself and Bush on gay marriage.

I have to admit that a small part of my hostility is due to Sullivan's pledge drives. As I've said before, I get analysis as good as his for free, from any number of sharp sites. But if he wants to make money at it, I'd respect him more if he just made his site pay-only, competing with the likes of the Salon (chotle), the WSJ, or soon enough the NYT. Don't drag me through the drama of how hard you work and how much you pay for bandwidth, or any of that public broadcasting guilt trip. It's demeaning, and just not professional.

Oh, well. Good luck, Andrew. I hope you find yourself.

More: I think Razor nailed it: Becoming the darling of the non-religious GOP forced Sullivan into publishing apologetics. (Some of the early ones he wrote about Bush must really embarrass him now.) But part of the problem was that Sullivan did go squishy, did flip-flop. Like I said, the gay marriage thing didn't just come out of the blue, and the Dems sure didn't stick up for marriage rights, preferring to whimper in the corner. His endorsement of Kerry was the last straw. I fail to see how anyone with any sympathy for the GOP could warm to Kerry. In fact, I bet even Razor briefly considered voting for Bush. It may have been just a tiny flicker, but somewhere, deep down, some part of you said, "Am I really going to vote for this Massachusetts clown?"

Blogosphere Ennui: Sullivan has called it quits.

He says he's burnt out, and who am I to doubt him? They guy has probably averaged 5-7 posts a day on a wide range of political and social issues. Plus, he gets regular gigs in TIME, the NY Times, etc. He has reason to be tired.

However, I have a different theory. I think he's a changed man, and he knows it. Back when, starting all of five years ago, he used to be the darling of the Conservative Movement: "A gay British man who hates Clinton - we must embrace him (in a manly, Christian way, of course)!" And Sullivan reveled in the attention; using that notoriety to build up his "dish".

But slowly and surely, Sullivan had to start distancing himself from W and hence from his perceived image. See, it's easy to be a conservative when the bad liberals are in full swing (and especially when their own Dear Leader is such a psychopath). However, when your own side is running things, starting wars, and trying to tell you who you can or cannot marry, it gets harder to be the standard-bearer. You're a small government guy who just wants to be left alone, except your President is expanding the government at an unprecedented pace and trying his hardest to govern your every action, or at least condemn it.

More and more of your time is spent justifying your card-carrying bona fides. More time is spent defending your positions; reasonable though they might be. Suddenly you're being called a flip-flopper, or worse, a liberal in wolf's clothing. The acclaim is replaced by scorn, and your audience starts moving on to a more palatable source.

Balko thinks it's a bad play, only because Sullivan has taken in so much lucre over the years in his fund-raising drives. The presumption is that if you gave recently, you'd feel burned. Well, them's the breaks - he never promised you anything for your money.

But, what is really at issue is that the Blogs are victims of their own perceived success. No longer can you just throw the stuff out there. You're now going to get parsed and picked apart. Even Balko has shut off his comments, and is pretty much narrowed down to his few pet policy issues (remember the days of music, travel and photography?).

The innocence, the hey-it's-just-you-and-me attitude is gone. Bloggers are brands now; hey have to promote that brand or they whither. Sullivan just couldn't drink anymore of his own kool-aid any more.

School of Rawk: This is a little precious, but it is also well-done and funny. I bring you: "Everything I Need to Know, I've Learned from Iron Maiden".

Argument Against Tenure, Part XXXIX: (Note my crafty allusion to the SuperBowl, which I am conscientiously avoiding talking about, given that we Eagles fans are all rather ratcheted up right now). Moving along...

This guy must have a book to sell. Why else would he draft an essay and then give talks centered around the premise that the 9/11 victims were "little Eichmans" and that the terrorists were "gallant"? Okay, he's a loony university professor, and he submits to pressure to resign as the chairman of the "Ethnic Studies" department, but only because "present political climate has rendered me a liability in terms of representing either my department, the college, or the university."

See, it's everyone else's fault! If only our "political climate" would change such that it's laudable to blame 3,000 innocent victims of the worst terrorist incident ever to take place on our soil. Damn Nazi little buggers had it coming to them! Why, all those restaurant employees, secretaries and maintenance people...trying to earn a living! Why don't they all get together on the commune and eat lotus root like every other respectable human being, and stop being the instrument of the devil? Yes, the political climate of today is just completely out-of-whack.