Friday, February 29, 2008

Fire Up The Grill

With the weather improving in certain parts of the country - mainly Southern California - maybe you have the itch to get that blue flame going this weekend. Maybe you've grown tired of hearty stews and braised meats and you want something with a little char on it. Maybe you aren't sure what you should make and maybe you don't want to spend $9 on the Boy Meets Grill cookbook. Well, I've read through that cookbook, so allow me to present you with Every Bobby Flay Recipe Ever. It will provide you direction this weekend.

- Get a piece of meat. Whatever kind you want. If you're a hippie, get a portobello mushroom.
- Season the meat with salt, pepper, ancho chile powder and ground coriander.
- Take soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, garlic, orange juice, lime juice, lemon juice and a dash of hot sauce and whisk it up.
- Marinate the meat for a few hours.
- Shake off excess marinade and grill away.
- Grill some corn on the cob.
- Rub butter on the hot corn and sprinkle it with salt and chili powder.

Congratulations! You just made every Bobby Flay recipe ever!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Middle East Is Fun!

When we invaded Iraq, the plan was that the entire Middle East would be happy and democratic and peaceful and happy. Now, Bush can't even make the entire United States happy, so maybe that goal was slightly ambitious.Part of the reason the Middle East is such a bubbling cauldron is that the borders are ever-changing, but the centuries old tribal grudges are not. Like with, say, the Turks and the Kurds. The Kurds are a completely unique tribe that lives in northern Iraq. When Iraqi borders were drawn up years ago, the Kurds were artificially penned in. The Kurds didn't like Iraqis and they didn't like Saddam Hussein. They often tried to form their own sovereign state. Hussein responded to this by gassing them to death. This increased their dislike for Hussein.

The Kurds also aren't that crazy about us because during the first Gulf War, the Kurds planned an uprising against Hussein and Iraq. We told the Kurds we would back them and protect them. Except we didn't. The uprising was brutally squelched. So that was nice.

When we toppled Saddam, the Kurds were overjoyed. They thought the time was ripe for the formation of Kurdistan. The problem is, what would be Kurdistan sits on vast oil reserves. And that oil and oil money would be needed to finance the reconstruction of Iraq. So we asked them to hang tight. Basically, the Kurds keep getting worked over. And now they're being called terrorists because...

...the Kurds also don't like the Turks. Right now you're probably thinking, "Wait a minute! These people look alike! Turk and Kurd even sounds similar! Why don't they like each other?" Well, they don't. Like everything in that part of the world, it goes back a long time and won't be resolved any time soon.The Kurds would like to take parts of southern Turkey for themselves in the formation of Kurdistan. Turkey, surprisingly, would like to keep its country intact. For the past couple of years, there has been a border skirmish as Kurdish rebels launch attacks on Turkish troops. Sometimes they shoot over the border, sometimes they rush over the border and squeeze a few off. For a long time, Turkey has resisted a full-out offensive on the Kurds because...

...Turkey is our ally and wants to respect our wishes. Of course, the Kurds are also an ally and so is Iraq now - theoretically - and the whole situation is quite awkward. Like if you had two friends that didn't like each other and you're having a barbecue and maybe they're going to have a drunken fistfight on your front lawn. Your friend Craig Kurd has been throwing cashews at Terry Turk and Terry has been taking the high road. But Terry just pulled you aside in the kitchen and said if you don't stop Craig, I'm going to rock his face. The last thing you want is a fight that possibly devolves into a full scale brawl, so you talk to Craig. Except Craig remembers when you sold his brother out 17 years ago and he was gassed to death by Saddam Hussein. The situation is tenuous at best and you've been burning all of the burgers all day and the party basically sucks already because you didn't properly prepare for it.

So beginning last year, Turkey began fighting back a bit. Occasionally crossing the border and battling the Kurds head on. This week, Turkey crossed the border and launched an offensive to handle this situation once and for all. To end the terroristic guerilla attacks the Kurds have been favoring.This setup, this whole ball of wax, is what has led to us to...BUM BUM BUM BA! THE QUOTE OF THE YEAR!

The Quote of the Year!

Courtesy of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates in a press conference:

"Military activity alone will not solve this terrorist problem...(long pause)...for Turkey."

Trust us, Turkey. We know for a fact that this approach doesn't work very well.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Remarkable Influence of George Bush on the Middle East

After 9/11, Bush and Cheney and company decided the time was nigh to remake the Middle East. Cheney and his friends, mainly, thought they could undo 2,000 years of human history and shape the Middle East into a desert oasis of Western-style democracies that always voted to elect leaders who spoke English and vowed to cut taxes. Things did not work out that way.

- We ordered the Palestinians to hold free and fair elections. They did and the people elected Hamas. Hamas was not our first choice, as they are a well-organized terrorist organization committed to wiping Israel off the map.

- We gave Pakistan and Pervez Musharraf billions of dollars each year to fight Al Qaeda and stop them from spreading from Afghanistan through Waziristan and into Pakistan. Musharraf took our money, but instead of using it to build up the Frontier Army that was fighting Al Qaeda, he used it on missiles and planes he would need in case Pakistan ever went to war with India. India is Pakistan's enemy and our ally. Musharraf, of course, didn't press the issue with Al Qaeda because most Pakistanis chafed at the idea of them having to fight America's war. Despite that, Musharraf STILL lost a recent election (free and fair, like we demanded), but not to the candidate Bush supported because...

- The candidate Bush supported was assassinated a few months ago. Because the Republicans who dabble in nation building like familiar names, Bush and the State Department pushed Musharraf to allow Benazir Bhutto back into the country. Bush also ordered Musharraf to ensure Bhutto's safety. I mentioned she was assassinated, right?

- As for the weapons Musharraf was buying to fight India, well, he may fear India because Bush personally agreed to give them our nuclear weaponry secrets. Even though Congress didn't know he was going to do that. Even though the State Department didn't know he was going to do that. Even though he was telling Iran not to build nuclear weapons. The rumor is - I swear to God - that Bush was tired of his meeting with Indian prime minister and just wanted to go home and agreed to give him the secrets just to end the meeting. Word is the prime minister himself was stunned that Bush so readily agreed.

- Bush asked Turkey not to cross the border into Iraq and fight Kurdish separatists. They did.

- Bush encouraged Israel to go into Lebanon and go to war with Hezbollah. They did...and Hezbollah held their ground, greatly increasing their credibility in the Arab world when Israel slunk home defeated.

- We told Syria to get out of Lebanon. They didn't. After a people's revolution in Lebanon pushed Syria out, we again demanded free and fair elections. Where? Everywhere! Once again, Bush's favored candidate did not win. Where? Anywhere!

- A couple of months ago, Bush met with the Saudi royal family. Now, the Bushes and the House of Saud go way, way back. Back decades. They are the best of friends. Bush personally asked a Saud to lower oil prices and cut Americans a break. The Saud chuckled, patted Bush on the head and said he'll think about it. After briefly thinking about it, he decided not to.

If you want to be an optimist, you could be happy that you have as much influence on the Middle East as George Bush does. Wow! Good for you!

If you want to be a pessimist, you could be upset that the word of the President of the United States is entirely meaningless in an enormous swath of the world. Wow! Bad for us!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

How Much Do I Love Fritos?

I love them so much that I would eat a wet Frito.

If I was at a fun pool party on a lovely summer's day and somebody did a rad cannonball that splashed water into an open bag of Fritos and then the bag baked in the sun all day with the water sogging down the chips...I would still take a handful and love them.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Are You A Republican?

The upcoming 2008 election is fostering a level of excitement that hasn't been seen since the 2004 election. People are excited to vote! Excited like they're voting on the next flavor of Doritos! This is big!

But with so many first timers heading to the polls, some people may not be sure if they're a Democrat or Republican. To help those confused souls out, I've created this nifty Are You A Republican? questionnaire. Proceed!
  • Are you a bad dancer?
  • Do your pants have pleats?
  • Does casual dress to you mean loafers with no socks?
  • Have you had the same hairstyle for over ten years?
  • Do you iron your jeans?
  • Are you worried about taxes cutting into your inheritance?
  • Do you work for an oil company?
  • Do you hate small birds?
  • Are you on a board of directors?
  • Do you like tacos, but not Mexicans?
  • Are you attracted to women in pearls?

If you answered yes to three or more questions, congratulations! You are a Republican! Get out there and vote McCain!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Jeffrey Goldberg Is Too Smart For The Wire - Week 1

You're an average American. Kinda smart but not threateningly so. You go along to get along and you watch television to be entertained. You are not Jeffrey Goldberg. Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent for Atlantic.

He is firmly entrenched in the ink business, and when David Simon decided to indict the Baltimore Sun as a main plot point for The Wire's fifth season, Jeffrey Goldberg was not going to let it stand. Upon hearing this news, he decided on the spot that he would not like this season and watching the actual episodes would not change his mind. They are impugning his profession! And, by extension, him personally! He's a journalist. Everybody that comes to his fancy dinner parties is a journalist. They are important people shaping the national discussion. At these dinner parties, they only eat line caught fish that come from sustainable stocks with a side of cruelty-free broccoli.

Slate has a feature in which two writers exchange letters to each other throughout a given week on a given topic. Goldberg and Slate's own David Plotz have been discussing every episode of The Wire and Goldberg is two compliments shy of being called curmudgeonly. Since he's nitpicking every single aspect of The Wire and David Simon this season, let's nitpick his very own critiques. And let's just realize something now. This is going to get loooooooooooong.

Plotz opens up with a note that includes, I'm a little worried about the Baltimore Sun plot. I've had two brief conversations with David Simon—he's a friend of a friend—and my wife has had two long ones. In all four of those exchanges, Simon demonstrated an obsession with the Sun that bordered on monomania. There Hanna and I were, slobbering to him about Omar, and Simon kept changing the subject to stories that his editors had screwed up 19 years ago.

This is good. Right off the bat, the reader knows how important these men are and that their opinions will probably be quite biased. The stage is set!

In an opening post titled, "I'm Worried", Goldberg counters with musings like, First, let me dissent from Mr. Weisberg's audacious claim that The Wire is the best show on television ever. I think that I would have agreed with his assertion, except that I recently watched, in seriatum, the first season of The Sopranos, which is just pure Shakespeare...It has become a cliché to call The Wire Dickensian, because it so clearly is, but it's no insult to Dickens to say that he's no Shakespeare.

Since you're not presently sitting in his office where you can see it, Goldberg has tacked his English lit degree to your forehead. Consider yourself duly informed. If you're wondering, in seriatum means in series. Goldberg is much too refined to crassly tell us he watched the first season "in order" or "in a row". Also, you should know that he doesn't watch episodes of a drama randomly. He watches them in seriatum. Ipso facto, he is ahead of the game.

In our early glimpse of the Sun newsroom, we're not seeing much in the way of gray: just asshole bosses, a fantasy-camp city editor, a brooding and envious general assignment reporter and his naive-seeming Hispanic colleague, who gave us the most unrealistic moment last night: After she is publicly humiliated by the grammarians of the city desk, she actually seems grateful. Give me a break.

Goldberg has never enjoyed being corrected by an editor, so he can't even fathom a reporter who would be. For instance, there was the time an editor mentioned that a particular Latin word is typically spelled seriatim, not seriatum. Goldberg hated that guy.

By the way, Obama's love of The Wire speaks well of him. I don't picture Hillary going in for this sort of thing.

It is a well-established fact that elite media types hate Hillary Clinton with a burning fury, and any chance to land a shot on her is not be passed by.

Then David Simon, who has a divining rod for any mentions of his name, found this insightful repartee and chimed in. Just curious: What were the circumstances at which those conversations occurred? When I am at say, at a book-release party with a bunch of journos, or at a wedding table, where I am seated exclusively with newspaper people, or simply talking to a noted reporter or editor, the conversation is often about journalism and quite naturally, my unlikely transition from newspapering to television also is a topic and yes, I am very blunt about what went bad for me at The Sun, and for many, many others there as well...And in all instances when people come up to me to discuss how much they love them some Omar and how he's the bestest character ever, well, okay, my eyes do glaze to the point of distraction and I do desperately try to change the subject back to whatever the collective conversational zeitgeist might be at a given gathering.

So perhaps the Plotzes do not run in the ritzy Hollywood circles that we first imagined. How disheartening to learn that after four conversations, David Simon basically has no idea who they are. There's a critique for you!

Jeffrey Goldberg Is Too Smart For The Wire - Week 2


Goldberg opens with, Well, you've achieved the possible—you've pissed off David Simon. You have now gone where, well, thousands of people have gone before. Perhaps it was this line of yours, from last week's dialogue, that triggered the attack: "The Wire is not merely the best show on television now, but the best show that has ever been on television." What did you expect after you delivered yourself of such praise? A thank you? A basket of muffins?

Let the record show that Jeffrey Goldberg does not like David Simon the man. Perhaps they have a mutual acquiantance in the journalism world. Perhaps Simon once corrected Goldberg. However, you can sleep easy knowing that a top notch journalist like Goldberg won't allow a petty personal dislike to stain his evenhanded work.

I reread Mark Bowden's excellent piece on Simon in this month's issue of my magazine, the Atlantic, after receiving Simon's complaint about you...Naturally, Simon is infuriated with him, as well. In the course of unpacking Simon's epic, unidirectional dispute with Bill Marimow and John Carroll, the one-time Baltimore Sun editors who, in Simon's view, destroyed the paper, Bowden makes an obvious mistake: He decides to remain neutral in the fight...Bowden showed Simon a draft of his piece, "which provoked a series of angry, long-winded accusations" in which Simon impugned Bowden's journalistic integrity to the editor of the Atlantic, which is amusing, of course, because Bowden is one of the five or six best reporters in America.

Oh. So there we have it. Simon criticized a piece by one of Goldberg's friends, who is one of the five or six best reporters in America. Incidentally, this was the second time in four entries that Goldberg hyped a piece from his own magazine. He's so reluctant to make himself part of the story.

Very few big-city-paper editors are quite so ostentatiously stupid and venal as the Carroll of Simon's imagination, and so, once again, the Sun subplot was not at all compelling to me.

If all editors were ostentatiously stupid, this subplot would be compelling to Goldberg. However, he knows many editors that are as ostentatiously smart as he is and he therefore cannot imagine an editor who isn't. Whether this lack of imagination impugns his own intelligence is something we'll leave for another time.

We've learned that the overambitious Templeton is already suspected of creating a Baltimore variant of Janet Cooke's "Jimmy" (we've learned this thanks to a most unnaturally perceptive city desk)...

Yes, Gus the desk chief is unnaturally perceptive. Even though he grew up in Baltimore and is black himself, it was unnatural for him to be suspicious that Templeton just happened to go to Opening Day for a local color story and find a black kid in a wheelchair with no parents who loves baseball. Only some sort of clairvoyant would suspect a ruse. And for the record, in the latest episode, Gus mentioned that an inner city kid loving baseball is a little suspicious. However, Goldberg, being merely naturally perceptive, could not have anticipated this.

...and we also know that top management just adores our sweater-vest-wearing Stephen Glass and is giving him the opportunity to write a Pulitzer-bait "Dickensian" series (I like the way Simon subverts the Dickens meme by associating it with one of his villains) on a city classroom.

Calling a bleak piece of work Dickensian used to be smart and insightful. That's why Goldberg did so earlier. But now David Simon has twisted it into some kind of perjorative. Bastard.

It's the moralizing that's getting me. Why do they have to tell us that the lives of black men are cast away by our society? Isn't that the whole point of this show? We get it. We've been watching for years.

Jeffrey Goldberg definitely gets this. In fact, the week before, he himself wrote, Every time I read a front-page story about death in Baghdad, I ask myself: How many African-Americans died violent deaths in the same time period in American cities, without anything more than a news brief to record the awful fact? In other words, I get why David Simon is angry.

I don't know what happened between January 7 and January 14, but it was something that definitely made Jeffrey Goldberg tired of people moralizing about the downtrodden. People besides him, I mean.

One question I'm always left with after an episode of The Wire is this: Where will these brilliant African-Americans actors go when The Wire is finished? Maybe this is why David Simon is so pissed—he knows that Hollywood hasn't figured out how to showcase large quantities of black talent and fears for the careers of his cast.

Dammit! Why does he have to keep telling us the lives of black men are cast away by society?!

My dream is that some savvy Shakespeare company hires, en masse, the cast of The Wire for what would be just a thrilling Julius Caesar. Wood Harris, who plays Avon Barksdale, has already appeared in Troilus and Cressida. Just imagine him as Brutus.

In case you're wondering, Jeffrey Goldberg is familiar with the complete works of Shakespeare. He keeps a leather-bound copy of them on a high shelf in his study.

Where are Simon & Co. going with the parallel fraud plots? It seems to me that he'll have to merge them. Stephen Glass needs a big story, and McNulty's selling one.

This did actually happen, to the surprise of nobody. If Jeffrey Goldberg and his natural perception can see something coming, everybody can.

Ordinarily, I'd predict that Scott gets chewed up in the process, but isn't David Simon's main complaint against his one-time bosses at the Sun that they protected a Pulitzer-bound fabricator, rather than expose him?

The preview for the February 24th episode showed a homeless Enduring Freedom vet that Templeton quoted for a story coming back and accusing Templeton of lying. Gus brought him to the Sun offices. When Goldberg saw this preview, he predicted that the editors would either protect Templeton or they wouldn't.

Jeffrey Goldberg Is Too Smart For The Wire - Week 3


Unlike you (presumably, since your tight-lippedness on the matter of the Baltimore Sun has me guessing just a bit), I found the newsroom scene moving, perhaps because I had just read about the latest coup at the formerly great L.A. Times...That scene in the newsroom was near perfect because it had the power of truth, right down to the moment when the patrician executive editor, Whiting, forces his sweaty, ferretish managing editor, Klebanow to deliver the actual bad news.

When something happens in real life, it's much easier for Goldberg to understand fiction.

The problem, of course, is that these realistic scenes of newsroom life circa 2008 are undermined by deeply unrealistic scenes of newsroom life circa never. In other words, why does Roger Twigg, the discarded police reporter, have to be so encyclopedically perfect?

Can you believe it? The writers of The Wire are simply making up characters and scenarios for their drama! Why can't they just take everything from real life so Jeffrey Goldberg can be comfortable with the familiar? He has never known a reporter to be encyclopedically perfect and he cannot get past this fictional character!

I have to say this, in light of the firing of the editor of the Los Angeles Times: I will not be criticizing David Simon's Baltimore Sun plot today. The truth is, the battle between David Simon and the Tribune Company is the battle between the Forces of Good and the Forces of Evil. The Forces of Good whine a lot, but I'll take David Simon's whining over corporate pillaging, gladly.

If Jeffrey Goldberg ever personally criticizes you for something, simply show him a real world example of something. Also, without question, he is either friends with the former editor of the L.A. Times or a friend of a friend. Jeffrey Goldberg is mainly moved by things that affect him directly.

Perhaps the weakness of the Baltimore Sun subplot is not Simon's fault, but ours. And by "ours," I mean all of us in journalism. Maybe we're just not that interesting; David Simon can't make us interesting; David Milch couldn't make us interesting; maybe even David Chase himself couldn't make us interesting. Well, maybe he couldn't make me interesting. You, he could build a show around.

Really? Possibly? This is possible? But...all those articles that journalists write about journalism and their other journalist friends? Those aren't interesting? But...if they're not interesting, why do journalists constantly talk about themselves and their lives and their profession? That just seems like an odd choice. By the way, if you want to explain to a young child what "false modesty" is, show them the close of this paragraph.

Jeffrey Goldberg Is Too Smart For The Wire - Week 4

You know, it's a damn shame that Method Man, a stalwart of the remarkable Wu-Tang Clan, was cast as the most unspeakable bastard on The Wire. I'll never listen to Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) the same way. Not that I've listened to it in 10 years, but you get the point.

Jeffrey Goldberg gets black culture. He is down. People are still saying down, right? Oh, he just heard this crazy new word! Shizzle! Can you believe it?! Shizzle! He is simply dying to say "Fo' shizzle" at his next dinner party.

In discussing Prop Joe's murder, Goldberg ponders the fate of the New Day Co-Op. (there's an organization that just ceased to exist—I'll bet my lungs on that)

Gutsy call. Just because Prop Joe organized and ran the co-op and Marlo repeatedly said he hated it doesn't mean it'll be disbanded. But the naturally perceptive Jeffrey Goldberg is not afraid to live on a thin limb.

...it's too bad David Simon couldn't make the newsroom similarly complicated. The editors of the Sun aren't characters; they're walking indictments. The low moment came when Klebanow warned Gus against cursing in the newsroom. Ridiculous. I'm not saying that once or twice between John Peter Zenger and now, some shmuck in some newsroom somewhere warned a colleague about the use of foul language. But for fuck's sake, that was the most unbelievable thing I've seen in The Wire's five seasons.

Once again, Goldberg simply cannot fathom a fictional occurance because it hasn't previously happened to him in real life. I don't know about you, but I can't wait to read Goldberg's debut novel, Things That Have Already Happened.

Goldberg titles his next entry, "Is My Intuition Growing Stronger, or Is The Wire Just Getting More Obvious?" First, I can promise you that his intuition is not growing stronger. Second, creative types everywhere be warned! If Jeffrey Goldberg thinks you're obvious, then you are as obvious as a punch in the face on a hi-def television.

Don't you think Herc is going to use his proximity to Levy to try to bring down Marlo? Is my superpower of intuition growing even greater, or is The Wire just becoming more obvious?

I must ask you, do you a think a former cop who lost his job because a drug kingpin stole a surveillance camera would be mad about it? Do you think that if said ex-cop was working as a PI for a lawyer who represented said drug kingpin that he would try to leverage that situation? Sounds pretty obvious, right? How in the world does Goldberg turn that into a compliment about his own intuition?

Prop Joe's demise, in retrospect, was foreshadowed a million different ways. His murder was still a powerful and elegiac moment, but we were clearly meant to see it coming.

Elegiac means sorrowful. But doesn't elegiac sound so much more elegant than sorrowful? By the way, even though we were meant to see Prop Joe's murder coming, Goldberg never picked up on it and never mentioned in any of his critiques before this week. Please don't let that surprise ruin your day. Remember, he DID see the fall of the co-op and Herc using the lawyer coming! He also correctly predicts each week that the full credits will run after the show.

It's only a matter of time before the scheming reporter Templeton and the wackadoo McNulty marry their ambitions, don't you think?

Yes! You already mentioned this! It is obvious. Congratulations. It will also take the story into a new, uncontrollable direction. We knew Michael Corleone would take over the family business. Did that ruin The Godfather?

Jeffrey Goldberg Is Too Smart For The Wire - Week 5


Plotz has some interesting points. During the week, Romenesko's Letters column and my inbox crammed with stories from journalists who had been rebuked for their dirty mouths.

Hold on, hold on. Are you trying to tell me that something happened in the world and Jeffrey Goldberg didn't know about it? Why would you lie to my face? Because this actually has happened in the real world, the cursing rebuke is now Goldberg's favorite scene in the history of the show. So real! So gripping!

So Omar is Batman now? He can dodge a hail of bullets, then fly off a fifth-story balcony, and slip away?

Two options. Either the writers have lost their minds or this is a cliffhanger that will be explained later. Tough to choose which.

Goldberg actually forgives Simon for Omar (benificent!), but, I won't forgive him for making me watch Shattered Glass again. Don't get me wrong—it was a good movie about a bad ex-friend of mine (and, as a bonus, the excellent Chloë Sevigny played your excellent wife). But I'm bored by stories of pathological fabricators, not because they don't exist (though I doubt they exist in numbers—ready, set, go: Stephen Glass, Jayson Blair, Mike Finkel, and … who else, exactly?) but because they don't tell us much about the ailments of modern journalism.

And now this dialogue is officially off the tracks and careening into a ditch. Goldberg knew Stephen Glass. David Plotz's wife was a central character in the movie about him. Can you think of two better, more impartial people to critique a show focusing on journalism? Goldberg is bored of stories about lying journalists! He used to be friends with one! The Goldbergs and the Plotzes and six other people have discussed Glass and Blair a hundred times at a hundred dinner parties. This topic has been dissected time and time again! Why isn't David Simon tailoring this season of The Wire to Jeffrey Goldberg's own personal interests?

Even though a fabricrating reporter has happened in real life, Goldberg dislikes this plot line. Sure, that goes against every single other critique he's made about this season, but whatever. He's never known an encyclopedically correct reporter, so he doesn't like that character. He has known a lying reporter, but he doesn't like that character either. Jeffrey Goldberg decides what characters he likes and dislikes based strictly on their hair.

And he's right. This lying reporter storyline isn't telling us anything about the ailments of modern journalism. Not like that layoffs scene. Now, I know what you're thinking. Newspapers are desperate to boost circulation. Editors are maybe more lax on flowery articles because they hope it will boost interest. With all of the cutbacks, people are working harder and are busier. Those three factors combined probably make it much easier for a fabulist to slip through the cracks and survive for a time. However, Jeffrey Goldberg would like you to know that you think is wrong. Remember, he was once friends with Stephen Glass.

Which...uh...brings up another point. Jeffrey Goldberg obviously did not know that Stephen Glass was making up quotes for his articles when it was happening. Perhaps that is why he thought Gus was "unnaturally perceptive" for suspecting the inner city Orioles fan story. I mean...if Jeffrey Goldberg couldn't catch a lying reporter, how can anybody else?

Well, what we've got is a newspaper edited by a pair of impossibly shmucky editors who...have in their employ a reporter who is doing something no fabricator, to the best of my knowledge, has ever done: manufacturing information about an ongoing homicide investigation.

Let's realize one thing: the best of Jeffrey Goldberg's knowledge is not very valuable. Also, no reporter has ever made up facts about a homicide investigation, so this plot development is patently ridiculous. If Templeton was inventing quotes about the drinking and partying at CPAC, then Goldberg would be behind this. Unless Gus suspected the CPAC story. That would be ridiculous, because it's not something Goldberg himself did. It is time to ask a serious question. Does Jeffrey Goldberg understand the difference between fiction and non-fiction? It's debatable. Here's something that's not debatable, though. Jeffrey Goldberg has absolutely no idea how stupid he is. Even worse, he thinks he's smart. That's about the worst combination you can look for in a person.

What's all this talk about gerunds? Do you know actual editors who talk this way? The cops on The Wire talk like cops (best line of the night: Bunk accusing McNulty of being "nut deep in random pussy"), so why can't the editors sound like editors? None of the editors I've worked with, including the quietly persnickety David Plotz, would ever criticize me for the inappropriate use of gerunds.

We're well past the value of even discussing this idiocy any more.

Alert reader and Slate contributor Emily Yoffe writes to correct my too-short list of serial fabricators; she suggests USA Today's Jack Kelley as a worthy addition. She also corrects my earlier assertion that no fabricator had ever interfered in an ongoing criminal investigation. Emily writes, "Jayson Blair came down to DC in the middle of the sniper shootings and started making stuff up about the investigation. ... The prosecutors ended up having a press conference to denounce one Blair story as a total lie, but because they refused to say what was actually going on inside their office, the Times, for a time, took it as confirmation of Blair's superpowers."

Correcting Jeffrey Goldberg's mistakes is a full-time job that comes with a good 401k. But be warned, you will be very, very busy.

But I promise—if next week's episode has something interesting to tell us about Marlo or Omar or Bunk or Cedric Daniels, I'll be sure to make note of it. Before going back to complaining about the Sun.

Oh, thank you. Very generous, my Lord! Your complaints about the Sun are so tiresome that my rebuke of your complaints has become tiresome. Thanks for dragging me down with you.

Jeffrey Goldberg Is Too Smart For The Wire - Week 6


Did Templeton really set out on a reporting trip to the underpasses of Baltimore wearing a Kansas City Star T-shirt? Or am I missing something? No, I just looked again: He's wearing a Kansas City Star T-shirt, all right. Is this because his "I'm a Douchebag" T-shirt was in the laundry?

Yeah, the KC Star totally sucks! Templeton must be a real first class, A1 dildo. It's not even possible that the Star was Templeton's first job and he doesn't care about this shirt much and he intentionally wore an old t-shirt because he'd be spending the night under a bridge with homeless people. Why isn't he wearing an Atlantic t-shirt? Jeffrey Goldberg has never known a single person who worked at the Star!

To answer your question, no, of course the alleged Marine's story would never pass muster in a day...I'm not sure it would take three weeks to confirm the basics of the story, but it certainly would take a week or so just to confirm his true identity.

It's too bad Goldberg did his English Lit thesis on Shakespeare and not poetic license. Can you imagine the tense thrill of watching Templeton spend two weeks tracking down sources inside the Army?! Wow! Now that would be some gripping television! Look! He's on the phone again!

Besides, no capable city editor would allow this story even to come to the attention of his managing editor without doing some basic verification first, especially if the reporter who reeled in the story was so obviously mistrusted by his own desk.

Yes, Gus is completely incapable...of getting his bosses to listen to him. This is at least the fourth time this season he's been overruled.

P.S. I've got nothing for you on the Pogues. I'm comprehensively uninterested now in McNulty.

At this point, Goldberg is strictly watching the show because he's being paid to do so. How thrilling for us to receive his insights!

I'm particularly unhappy with Lester's transformation. He and Bunk were the moral centers of the cop-shop, and I need Lester to be Lester, not McNulty's partner in stupidity. It's strange to flip the script on us so late in the story, and it's not working.

At least once a season, every season, we've been reminded that all Lester cares about is making the case. Whatever is required to do so and whatever trouble he may create for higher ups is of no interest to him. He only cares about the case. In explaining his illegal tap to Sidnor earlier, he said he considered the shuttering of the Stansfield case to be an illegitmate decision. He cares only about closing this case, obviously at any cost. Most people would be excited by Lester's move, aware that a great cop and a great person is flirting with jail in his relentless pursuit of justice. Not Jeffrey Goldberg, though.

Chris dies. That's my prediction.

Seriously? A kingpin's muscle? A guy who keeps finding himself in gun battles and a man who is being hunted by Omar? You predict he dies? How do you keep this high wire act going Goldberg? You're such a maniac!

Marlo has to live, because capitalism can't be put down, but Chris can be shed. Snoop, however, is too smart to die.

Let's just note these for the record, shall we?

As for Omar, I think it's quite possible Omar dies...

The whole inner city is hunting him to collect a bounty, he has a broken leg and he's hunting the most powerful criminal in Baltimore. You think it's quite possible he dies?

Because I can't help myself, let me point out one moment in which this episode was too clever by half. It came during the trial, when Clay Davis referred disparagingly to the prosecutor, Rupert Bond, as "Obonda." Maybe when the episode was filmed this seemed like a clever joke, but now, with everything we know about Obama's overwhelming popularity among African-Americans (and coming just several days after the Maryland primary), it fell awfully flat.

Is it all possible that this disparaging quip has been misinterpreted by Goldberg? Yes, of course it's possible. I'm sorry. How about this? The point is that Clay Davis is slapping down Bond for trying to be the next great black politician. That he thinks Bond is too ambitious. That he thinks Bond is trying to make a name for himself without anything tangible behind him. How about that?

Speaking of egregiousness, how can you possibly believe that the Hamsterdam premise was as preposterous as the story line you call, quite succinctly, "Bitey the Bloodthirsty"? The first had to do with an experiment in de facto drug legalization in a small corner of the city by a thoughtful and frustrated police official. The second has formerly competent police detectives concocting from scratch the story of a serial murderer who bites homeless men on the ass, or the thighs, or wherever.

Goldberg has apparently forgotten that McNulty couldn't get Alma and Templeton interested in the fake serial killer at first, so in desperation he invented the biting thing. It has since spun out of control. Also, note the adjectives here. Goldberg liked Hamsterdam, so Colvin was "thoughtful" and "frustrated". He hates the serial killer, so McNulty is "formerly competent".

I'm quite sure that, in real life, at various times in various places, thoughtful and frustrated police officials have conducted experiments along the lines of Bunny Colvin's; I have never heard of a story in which police detectives defile corpses and kidnap a homeless man, all in order to extract computer equipment from their superiors.

This paragraph is the ne plus ultra of Goldberg's idiocy. He should actually be commended for being able to demonstrate how far up his ass his head is with only two sentences. It takes some people a lifetime to achieve that. He has never heard of any police officials anywhere setting up an unofficial drug bazaar to localize crime. Equally, he has never heard of a cop defiling homeless corpses to make it seem like a serial killer is on the loose so he can get some budget money. Despite never having heard of either of these scenarios, he likes Hamsterdam, so he is quite sure that it has happened. He dislikes McNulty's fake serial killer, so he's quite sure that it has never happened. David Simon, stop making things up for your drama! If you can find even a milligram of logic in that paragraph, I will buy you lunch until the day you die.

I hope Jeffrey Goldberg is donating his pay for this series to a journalism school. If he's actually profiting off of this lunacy, there truly is no hope for America.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Vague, Vacuous Platitudes

In a fun little article in Salon Tuesday, they examined the primary campaign in Wisconsin. We now know that Obama won Wisconsin, even though his hopeful, uplifting rhetoric isn't seen as a positive by all. Such as people like Beau Moore, who is certainly much too smart to be fooled by mere words.

No, you see, Beau is Republican. And Republicans are smart, thoughtful people who know how the world really works. In fact, Beau himself said, "I would like to think that Republicans are more grounded, practical, pragmatic. Democrats, especially those followers of Obama, are fanciful, non-realistic swallowers of vague, vacuous platitudes. They're just trite statements that mean absolutely nothing."

First of all, Beau, allow me to congratulate you for going to college and finishing it. You picked up a lot of big words and they have obviously served you well.

So when McCain gives a speech in Wisconsin and says things like "In case you didn't notice, the House of Representatives decided to close down and leave town when we had not reauthorized this nation's ability to monitor communications of the people who are dedicated to destroying everything we stand for and believe in," Beau probably realizes that the existing FISA laws still stand. And they've been updated constantly over the last 30 years to account for new technology. And only 5 of 16,000 FISA requests in history were ever denied. No, he would not swallow that vague platitude designed to make us think we're going to be killed tomorrow.

He also wouldn't be swayed by McCain's promises to lower taxes. After all, Republicans are pragmatic people who realize the war in Iraq is quite expensive and that our skyrocketing deficit probably could not absorb further tax cuts. We are staying in Iraq, of course, because we are winning the war! That is not a trite statement that means absolutely nothing. You either win or lose a war! Losing is bad, so we're winning! That statement has some meat on its bones!

McCain also doesn't want the federal government to take over healthcare. "I want American families to decide." Decide what, exactly, isn't clear at this point. Decide that our current healthcare system is terrible, perhaps. But rest assured, John McCain is not full of fanciful, vague platitudes. Republican voters simply wouldn't swallow them!

Oh, also, the economy is doing well.

The Horrors of Technology

With Toshiba pulling HD DVD out of the way, Blu-Ray is now free to run rampant and ruin our lives. Technology! Everything needs to be smaller or more colorful or bigger or more pale or shinier or duller or faster or different so various people in lab coats can justify their expense accounts.

You know what technology gets us? Delta Farce on Blu-Ray selling for $29.99. Delta Farce! For $29.99! Thanks a fuck lot, technology!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Valentine's Day v13.0

I know what you people are thinking. How does an icy smooth player like me celebrate Valentine's Day 13 years into the ordeal? The first five years of a relationship are pretty simple. Flowers, chocolates, a prix fixe meal at someplace dimly lit, the type of garments that don't offer any protection from a cold draft.

Years 5-8 require a little more creativity to mark the occasion. Maybe an evening cruise. Maybe a trip out of town. Maybe matching red sweaters worn out to dinner.

Years 9-12 is when you start winding down the festivities. You realize it's pointless to keep spending your shared money on trifles. Basically, at this point, you're down to a card, a small bag of chocolate hearts and a paint by numbers bone session. The magic is officially gone from the day.

But what about when you've been together for 13 years? Married for five and rearing one kid? By now, your love has moved from a hypothesis to a theory to a conclusion to a proof to a law. It is stone set, no doubt about it.

Well, maybe what you do is grill up a heart-shaped ribeye for dinner.

















When you grill the ribeye, make sure it's nice and reddish-pink inside. You want it to be symbolic of the occasion and also delicious. Then when that fine symbolic hunk of meat has been downed, you finish off the evening with a heart-shaped cake.



That's how you get it done on your 13th February 14th.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Wait, So...

The Patriots are accused of cheating by videotaping the defensive signals of their opponents. Concerned, NFL Commissioner Roger Gooddell asks the Patriots to turn over any implicating tapes. The Patriots do, Goodell reviews them and then destroys the tapes.

Then - THEN! - after meeting with Senator Arlen Specter, Goodell comes out and tells us that the tapes showed that the Patriots have been taping other teams since 2000. The tapes that he destroyed! But they weren't that important. We'll have to take his word for it, I guess. In an amazing coincidence, the Patriots have won three Super Bowls since 2000.

So, Roger, you want to cover up New England's cheating so their titles aren't tarnished. Fine. Cover ups and conspiracies can be a lot of fun. Just ask the Republicans.

But you don't come out and willingly tell us what the evidence showed! That's not how you orchestrate a cover up!

Just a little tip.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

I Have Invented A New Dish

One of my goals in life has been to invent a new dish that sweeps the country. I don't mean by tweaking an existing concept, like adding chunks of candy to ice cream or inventing the bacon cheeseburger. I mean by inventing a new food whole cloth. Like potato chips. Or cole slaw. Sure, nobody remembers ol' George Crum, inventor of the humble potato chip. And sure, food innovation basically ran out of steam around 1920. And sure, people are doing things with molecular gastronomy, but I'm not calling fried mayonnaise or atomized beef new foods.

However, achieving this goal is nearly impossible. So I'm going to settle for tweaking an existing dish. Of course, somebody in the French countryside has probably been making this dish for 175 years. The Germans already have a name for it. Probably eiundhuhn. Eric Ripert most likely invented this dish one day during a creative slump and immediately threw it in the garbage. But whatever. It's my goal and I can lower my own bar if I want to.

The dish is called The Beginning and The End(TM). It is a pan seared chicken breast topped with a fried egg. Sauce optional. It is delicious and it is my contribution to culinary history until somebody proves otherwise.

Oh No!

I am wearing a new zip up sweater today because I am a stylish fellow. But when I looked at the zipper earlier, I was stunned when I saw it wasn't a YKK zipper. In fact, this zipper has no letters on it at all!

Surely this inferior, unmarked zipper will fail at a crucial moment - like a wind gust - and I will be rendered cold. YKK zippers bind those teeth for life!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

My Favorite Week Of The Year Is Here!

Valentine's week! Not because I'm particularly romantic, but because this is the week when the 99 Cents Only store releases their annual Valentine's Day ad. Every year, they list the Good and Bad choices for Valentine's gifts and every year it's a total treat. Why this is ad is not more anticipated than Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is completely beyond me.

The list, shall we?

GOOD
  • Whipped cream - More specifically, Challenge Non-Dairy Dessert Topping. Put it on strawberries, put it on nipples. Definitely a good gift idea.
  • Vase - Okay, I can dig it. Particularly with the heart-shaped graphic reminding us "Don't forget the flowers". Flowers, however, are not on the 99 cent list.
  • Ladies camisole - Put it on, look nice, take it off, get down. Pretty simple. Actually, this might be extra hot because a 99 cent shirt will be so thin it's practically see through.
  • Aziza cosmetics - These are not tested on animals. They're not tested at all, actually. Assuming your face doesn't have an allergic reaction to remarkably cheap rouge, you'll look real nice.
  • Love cuffs - With less than 99 cents of material in these, they are probably not made of steel. But you can pretend to be bound, I guess.
  • Libbey fluted champagne glass - Probably plastic, but it will still hold champagne. Or Thunderbird.
  • Condoms - Fantasy brand condoms. In case you don't want a baby on November 14th.
  • Tatiana perfume - If you get off on your lady smelling like a prostitute from Kiev, this is a good call. I'm guessing this perfume smells like rubbing alcohol and Lysol, which must be a turn on to somebody out there.
  • Oysters - Chicken of the Sea Smoked Oysters. I know oysters are a fabled aphrodisiac, but let me tell you, if you eat a 99 cent foil bag of vacuum-packed oysters, you won't be going to the boudoir with a bone. You'll be going to the hospital with a nasty case of the sprays.

BAD

  • Mucus relief - Maybe romantic if your partner is all stuffed up, but yeah, otherwise bad.
  • Douche - Don't make your lady think her thing is stank. A stalwart, this one is in the bad column every single year.
  • Gas relief pills - It's starting to sound like that whole downtown area is in need of some upkeep.
  • Headache pads - Let your woman know that no excuse can stop the bone tonight!
  • Acne treatment pads - Personally, I could see it being romantic that you still love your partner even if their face is all oily. But I guess it's not as romantic if you tell them it's time to do something about it.
  • Vacuum bags - No idea why. Maybe you don't want to reinforce old stereotypes about the woman's place in the home and get her distracted.
  • Altoids - Not even for the famed oral sex purposes?
  • Anti-wrinkle cream - Basically, the ad is hammering home the fact that Valentine's Day is not the time to tell your loved one their appearance needs some fine tuning.
  • Broom or mop - You could use the mop to clean up any spilled whipped cream, but I guess it's still a bad idea.
  • Pregnancy test stick - Nothing could more quickly alert your woman to the fact that you bought 99-cent condoms.
  • Condoms - Wait. What?

Thank you, 99 Cents Only for ensuring that I have a wonderful and coital Valentine's Day!

Monday, February 11, 2008

This Is Something I Saw Today

I saw it on the freeway while driving to work. An older man, maybe in his 60s. Nicely kept gray hair. A crisp white dress shirt. A stately air of elegance. No, he was not driving a brand new Lexus.

He was driving a green Mazda Miata. With a license plate frame that read, "Chocolate Fixes Everything". I promise you that I saw this. My main hope is that he borrowed his granddaughter's car for the day because his granddaughter, who clearly is very sassy, needed his luxury sedan for the day.

I also saw a foam couch cushion sitting in a lane. People were reluctantly running it over.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Am I Tired Of A Modern Rhetorical Device? Without Question.

Do I understand why more and more people are talking this way? No. Does it seem odd that people are removing themselves from a conversation momentarily to interview themselves? Absolutely. Do I have any idea why this has become so popular in the last few years? No, I do not. Have I figured out whether this or more annoying than the phrase "It is what it is"? Not yet.

Do I think it's idiotic to speak this way instead of just saying "It's idiotic to speak this way"? Yes.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

We'll Miss You, Mitt!

First he changed his mind on abortion and now he's changed his mind on being President! Come on, Mitt! Stand strong!

Mitt Romney dropped out of the Presidential race today during a speech to the Conservative Political Action Committee. The CPAC meeting is the biggest sales day of the year for dealers of sunscreen, pleated khakis and braided leather belts. I mean, that crowd is white. And he couldn't have been pandering any harder if he was addressing a group of tigers and throwing live chickens on to the floor. First, he blamed the high number of children being born out of wedlock on pornography. I'm guessing that as a Mormon, Mitt hasn't seen too much pornography. Otherwise, he would know that the semen in a porno almost never ends up in the cervix. They're not conceiving too many tots in porns, believe me. It's not a lesson.

Then he advocated for a constitutional amendment outlawing gay marriage. The secretly gay conservatives in the audience mentally winced, but everybody roared their approval.

Then he courageously took a bold stance against Osama bin Laden. Mitt Romney would like to see bin Laden caught and executed. Wow! This is a courageous thing to say in public. Most people love bin Laden!

Then he said he would like to cut taxes. The crowd was most definitely for this After that, Romney, who's universally praised for his business acumen, said we need to make military spending 4% of our GDP. Except...our GDP in 2007 was $13,843,000,000,000. That's $13 trillion. Our military spending is estimated at $650,000,000,000. That's $650 billion, or 4.69% of our GDP. Since Romney probably was not advocating a defense spending cut in front of a crowd that gets a boner from watching missile launches, let's assume he didn't crunch the numbers. That's fine. Most businessmen hate numbers. (By the way, watching videos of missile launches is related to a direct increase in Republican children born out of wedlock.)

Even though Republicans seem to believe in deficit spending, let's assume Romney doesn't. So if he wants to cut taxes but leave military spending as is, he's going to have to make up the difference elsewhere. Hmm. You know what? Let's get rid of the FDA! We can take their $2.3 billion budget and turn that butter into guns. Plus, as a bonus, taking prescription drugs will become a fun mystery! Who knows what could happen to you?!

Finally, Romney explained why he was dropping out of the race. You see, Clinton and Obama would like to pull out of Iraq. A radical and extreme sentiment shared by about 71% of all Americans. But Romney and McCain, on the other hand, are tough guys. And they would like to wipe out terrorism in the world. No more terrorism ever? That's awesome! After that, they will eliminate all crime, including jaywalking. And pornography.

The problem is, if Romney continued his Presidential campaign, that would delay the launch of John McCain's national campaign. That would be bad, because very few Americans have heard of John McCain at this point, even though he's been campaigning constantly for almost a year. All of those people who have voted for McCain in the primaries thus far actually thought they were voting for John McLain of the Die Hard series. Thus, it is very important that Governor McCain start his national campaign immediately. Senator? Senator McCain? Oh. See how important a national campaign is?!

The CPAC crowd groaned in agony like Romney just frenched a man. The silver lining is, based on his fluid stances on everything else, it's entirely possibly Romney will jump back into the race in three weeks. Maybe if he wins a state or two. Maybe he's just like an insecure 18-year old guy who can't believe a girl likes him, so he dumps her to see if she comes crawling back.

Or maybe - just maybe - he was getting drilled and made up a completely bullshit excuse to save face. Maybe. Too bad. I'll really miss Mitt. It's fun being around a guy who's as completely unpredictable like he is. I mean, it's not like you could look at things he said in the past to guess what he would say tomorrow. Guy is awesome like that.


Oh well. At least now he'll have the time to make up for one of the greatest regrets of his life. Not joining the military.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Have A Drink!

Senator Ted Kennedy: "So let me ask you this. Would waterboarding be torture if it was done to you?"

Attorney General Michael Mukasey: "I would feel that it was."

January 31, 2008

Yesterday, CIA Director Michael Hayden admitted that the agency used waterboarding on three people: Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, Abu Zubaydah and Abd al Rahim al Nashiri. Right off the bat, let's all realize that if Hayden said they did it three times, they probably did it fifteen times. It's like you caught your teenage son taking out the car without asking you. He knows he did it about twenty times, but saying that would mean way too much trouble. So he throws you a bone, hoping you'll be placated. "Um...yeah, I did. But only like three times! And two of those were to go to band practice!"

Let's not kid ourselves about another thing. Mohammad, Zubaydah and al Nashiri are terrorists. They are horrible people. In fact, they would probably waterboard somebody and not bat an eye! If they thought one of their operatives was a spy, they would certainly torture him until he confessed. Until he told them what they wanted to hear. At that point, they would kill him.

So...we know it happened to at least these three people. Hayden claims that if the Congress bars the CIA from continuing to use this illegal and brutal technique that was developed during the Spanish Inquisition, America will be in danger. There is information out there that we don't know! There is also information out there that we think we know that we would like to have confirmed! Let's look at exactly what valuable insider information these three terrorists coughed out of their watery lungs.

In writing The One Percent Doctrine, Ron Suskind talked with sources about the Zubaydah case. In his words, every single lead Zubaydah gave his interrogators turned out to be a dead end. Zubaydah was blurting out any name he could think of, naming every suspect target he could think of, and none panned out with arrests. Dan Coleman, an FBI agent who worked on the Zubaydah case, said himself that, "I don't have confidence in anything he says, because once you go down that road, everything you say is tainted...He was talking before they did that to him, but they didn't believe him. The problem is they didn't realize he didn't know all that much."

al Nashiri admitted that he was involved in the bombing of the USS Cole in 2000. Later, in his military hearing, he said he only confessed to make his torture stop. He also confessed to planning to lease a plane and crash it into a ship. This made his interrogators very happy, though al Nashiri later said they didn't know he was lying about that. If you can figure out the usefulness of this confession, congratulations. As near as I can tell, something never happened and al Nashiri was maybe going to do it or maybe he wasn't.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammad. He must've really hated being waterboarded, because he confessed to nearly every crime mentioned in a newspaper since 1992. The man who likely was the actual mastermind and linchpin of the 9/11 attacks also admitted to beheading Daniel Pearl, planned to assassinate several U.S. Presidents, planned to destroy the Sears Tower, Panama Canal and Big Ben, was behind Richard Reid's attempted shoebombing, was behind the Bali nightclub bombings, was behind the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and was partially responsible for an assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II in the Philippines. He also drank the last of the milk and put the carton back in the fridge. In all, he admitted to 30 operations. Thankfully, somebody was able to clearly transcribe them all in between Mohammad's glugging and gasping.

In a CNN.com article from March 15, 2007, Mohammad is reported to have claimed that he was tortured when testifying in his military tribunal. Asked about that charge, a U.S. intelligence official responded, "the CIA neither engages in or condones torture," and added that "within the terrorism training manuals, jihadists are told to claim torture if caught."

Let's step back for a second. Let's take a deep breath. Let's all calm down. Because we're about to realize that...A TERRORIST MASTERMIND IS MORE CREDIBLE THAN A U.S. INTELLIGENCE OFFICIAL!

Great. That's just fucking great.

Except...well, hold on. According to the 9/11 Commission Report, Mohammad is known to have a tendency to exaggerate the truth. Assumedly, this tendency expands when he is being drowned.

Okay, so here's where we stand. The CIA denied torturing people until yesterday when they admitted it. They said three, which means it was certainly more than that. Since, remember, they like to lie. And nearly every piece of intelligence extracted from these torture sessions turned out to be worthless lies. Because, as most military minds have known for centuries, people being tortured will tell you exactly what you want to hear in order to make the pain stop.

This is a fine, fine situation the Bush administration has created. It's going to be a real shame when the next President cracks down on torture and all of our false information about al-Qaeda dries up. What will we do then?!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Why Clinton Needs To Lose

If the Democrats were even half as competent as the Republicans when it came to electoral sheniganery, then maybe the Democrats could nominate Hillary Clinton without fear. But they're not, so they can't.

In a year when people are just dying - dying! - to vote Democratic, a Clinton nomination is the one thing that could give pause to that, for a few reasons.

On the Republican side, it's looking like John McCain is going to wrap up the nomination barring a massive comeback by Romney. Whoever gets the nod, they'll be representing a party in complete disarray. The past eight years have been a sterile lab incubator of almost every right wing policy the GOP has pursued for the past 30 years, both economic and social. And, unsurprisingly, those policies have left the country in a musky pile of shit. Fiscal Republicans are blaming social Repbulicans, social Republicans are blaming fiscal Republicans and everybody is blaming GWB.

So that's what McCain is about to inherit. Another thing he's about to inherit is a tidal wave of electronic vitriol from people like Rush Limbaugh, Michelle Malkin, Ann Coulter, Bill Kristol and the other right wing psychotics. They hate McCain because they don't consider him a true conservaitve. They did consider Bush a true conservative until he totally sucked and now he's not a true conservative any more, either.

The other problem the crazy base has with McCain is that his message on brown people is not consistent. He wants to bomb Iran, which is full of brown people, and that is good. However, he is not in favor of rounding up every Mexican in the country, putting them into a giant catapault and launching them back over the border. That is bad. McCain actually - get this! - wants to treat illegal immigrants as human beings striving for a better life, whatever the cost. What a total dick!

Also, McCain will not arrest woman who get abortions and he plans on keeping the tax rate somewhere above 0%. The man is totally out of control and a horrible representative of right-wing, true conservative values.

The Republicans that consider politics a bloodsport are rumbling about needing to lose this election. That way, they'll have an excuse to blow up the whole crazy coalition and start over from scratch. It's entirely possible that Republican turnout will be remarkably low with McCain on the ticket.

UNLESS...his opponent is Clinton. If there's anybody the crazy GOP base hates more than McCain, it's Bill Clinton. And if there's anybody the crazy base hates more than Bill Clinton, it's Hillary Clinton. And if there's anybody the crazy base hates more than Hillary Clinton...actually, there is nobody the crazy base hates more. She is the ne plus ultra of unbridled hatred. The absolute zero of GOP froth.

So in a year when Republicans are looking for any excuse to stay home on Election Day, the Democrats are considering nominating the ONE candidate that will force every GOP to hold their nose and vote for the lesser of two evils.

And beyond that, by November, McCain will have reached sainthood thanks to the press coverage. The media made up their minds 15 years ago and haven't wavered since. They love, love, LOVE McCain and they despise Clinton with a hatred that simply cannot be put into words. The balance of McCain/Clinton election coverage will make Bush/Gore coverage look like the pinnacle of the industry.

Hillary Clinton is a fine Democrat. And she needs to stay in the Senate. She can take over as the Democrat lion of the Senate when Ted Kennedy retires in a few years. That would be a fantastic role for her. A horrible role would be the glue that puts the Republican vase back together in 2008.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Oh. Hey there, Jesus. Hey

Well, Jesus, you got me. Here I was, praying to you for a Patriots loss. On my knees, begging. Begging! Naturally, I figured these calls were going to go unheeded. I mean, I know you love sports and all. I just figured you were too busy to really mess around with my trivial request. I guess that's what I get for doubting your omnipotence.

It looked bad for so long, too. The AFC Championship game win. Randy Moss scoring the go ahead touchdown with about three minutes left. There I was, guzzling beer and denying any association with you. I totally forgot that this is how you worked. Of course, I only denied you twice before the cock crowed. Peter did it thrice, but you knew that already. No, I'm not saying I'm better than Peter. Not yet.

So there we were, Jesus. Me, you and some kid in Sonora praying la migra won't find his tio in the desert. Tough times all around. Eli Manning had happy feet, was panicking in the pocket and heaving the ball off of his back foot. An interception looked like a likely outcome. And just when I thought all was lost, you swooped down, ripped Eli Manning away from those Patriots defenders, carried the ball 30 yards downfield and then pressed it against David Tyree's head. And then, for good measure, you put your hand on the ground so the ball wouldn't hit the turf. Amazing, Jesus. Simply amazing!

The Tyree catch was rolling the rock away and the Burress touchdown was the ascent into heaven. The icing on the cake.

So that's it, JC. You got me. I believe in you now. And not in a Pascal's Wager kinda way, either. The real deal. You and me, man. Together forever! (Assuming the Patriots never win another Super Bowl.)

Friday, February 1, 2008

Already A New One!

Dwight Howard - The Disciple of Dunk

Religious fellow. Can dunk a basketball.

They Don't Write 'Em Like They Used To

Back when newspapers mattered and the sportswriters were actually good, athlete nicknames were varied and resplendent. Elroy "Crazy Legs" Hirsch. Dick "Night Train" Lane. "The Sultan of Swat." These names were invented by educated writers wearing tweed jackets and guzzling bourbon.

Today, we have Woody Paige. And not a single writer who can pen of a colorful nickname. MJ came along and begat KG, who begat TO. A-Rod came along and begat a flurry of first initial-first syllable bullshit nicknames. F-Rod? K-Rod? B-Jack? Pathetic. This is simply pathetic.

The other development we have is pulling old nicknames out of the dustbin for new athletes. LaDanian Tomlinson is LT? No, we already had an LT. "Terrific" Tom Brady? No, we already had "Terrific" Tom Seaver.

So today! A new quest! Together, we will develop quality, 1930s-style nicknames for modern athletes. It will take cleverness and panache, two qualities sorely missing from modern screaming sports journalism. But we can do it. I know we can, friend.

LaDanian Tomlinson - The Bullet Train. Fast, powerful and he looks sleek with his tinted visor.
Sidney Crosby - The Bulldog. Squat, powerful and ferocious.
Brandon Jacobs - Bowl 'Em Over Brandon. That is what he does.

This is a start. A small start. But together...we can improve the world!