12.24.2008

christmas songs

Okay, last Christmas post. Here's some punk Christmas songs to ruin your Christmas.



Merry Christmas, everyone!

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sedaris christmas III: the reckoning

Skipped a year last year, due to my chronic forgetfulness, but the kind-of-annual Sedaris Christmas story is back, baby.

Merry Christmas all four of you who read my blog!

SIX TO EIGHT BLACK MEN
by Davis Sedaris

I've never been much for guidebooks, so when trying to get my
bearings in a strange American city, I normally start by asking the
cabdriver or hotel clerk some silly question regarding the latest
census figures. I say silly because I don't really care how many
people live in Olympia, Washington, or Columbus, Ohio. They're
nice enough places, but the numbers mean nothing to me. My second
question might have to do with average annual rainfall, which,
again, doesn't tell me anything about the people who have chosen
to call this place home.

What really interests me are the local gun laws. Can I carry a
concealed weapon, and if so, under what circumstances? What's the
waiting period for a tommy gun? Could I buy a Glock 17 if I were
recently divorced or fired from my job? I've learned from
experience that it's best to lead into this subject as delicately
as possible, especially if you and the local citizen are alone and
enclosed in a relatively small space. Bide your time, though, and
you can walk away with some excellent stories. I've heard, for
example, that the blind can legally hunt in both Texas and
Michigan. They must be accompanied by a sighted companion, but
still, it seems a bit risky. You wouldn't want a blind person
driving a car or piloting a plane, so why hand him a rifle? What
sense does that make? I ask about guns not because I want one of
my own but because the answers vary so widely from state to state.
In a country that's become so homogenous, I'm reassured by these
last touches of regionalism.

Guns aren't really an issue in Europe, so when I'm traveling
abroad, my first question usually relates to barnyard animals.
"What do your roosters say?" is a good icebreaker, as every country
has its own unique interpretation. In Germany, where dogs bark "vow
vow" and both the frog and the duck say "quack," the rooster greets
the dawn with a hearty "kik-a-ricki." Greek roosters crow "kiri-a-
kee," and in France they scream "coco-rico," which sounds like one
of those horrible premixed cocktails with a pirate on the label.
When told that an American rooster says "cock-a-doodle-doo," my
hosts look at me with disbelief and pity.

"When do you open your Christmas presents?" is another good
conversation starter as it explains a lot about national character.
People who traditionally open gifts on Christmas Eve seem a bit
more pious and family oriented than those who wait until Christmas
morning. They go to mass, open presents, eat a late meal, return
to church the following morning, and devote the rest of the day to
eating another big meal. Gifts are generally reserved for
children, and the parents tend not to go overboard. It's nothing
I'd want for myself, but I suppose it's fine for those who prefer
food and family to things of real value.

In France and Germany, gifts are exchanged on Christmas Eve, while
in Holland the children receive presents on December 5, in
celebration of Saint Nicholas Day. It sounded sort of quaint until
I spoke to a man named Oscar, who filled me in on a few of the
details as we walked from my hotel to the Amsterdam train station.

Unlike the jolly, obese American Santa, Saint Nicholas is painfully
thin and dresses not unlike the pope, topping his robes with a tall
hat resembling an embroidered tea cozy. The outfit, I was told, is
a carryover from his former career, when he served as a bishop in
Turkey.

One doesn't want to be too much of a cultural chauvinist, but this
seemed completely wrong to me. For starters, Santa didn't use to
do anything. He's not retired, and, more important, he has
nothing to do with Turkey. The climate's all wrong, and people
wouldn't appreciate him. When asked how he got from Turkey to the
North Pole, Oscar told me with complete conviction that Saint
Nicholas currently resides in Spain, which again is simply not
true. While he could probably live wherever he wanted, Santa chose
the North Pole specifically because it is harsh and isolated. No
one can spy on him, and he doesn't have to worry about people
coming to the door. Anyone can come to the door in Spain, and in
that outfit, he'd most certainly be recognized. On top of that,
aside from a few pleasantries, Santa doesn't speak Spanish. He
knows enough to get by, but he's not fluent, and he certainly
doesn't eat tapas.

While our Santa flies on a sled, Saint Nicholas arrives by boat
and then transfers to a white horse. The event is televised, and
great crowds gather at the waterfront to greet him. I'm not sure
if there's a set date, but he generally docks in late November and
spends a few weeks hanging out and asking people what they want.

"Is it just him alone?" I asked. "Or does he come with backup?"

Oscar's English was close to perfect, but he seemed thrown by a
term normally reserved for police reinforcement.

"Helpers," I said. "Does he have any elves?"

Maybe I'm just overly sensitive, but I couldn't help but feel
personally insulted when Oscar denounced the very idea as grotesque
and unrealistic. "Elves," he said. "They're just so silly."

The words silly and unrealistic were redefined when I learned that
Saint Nicholas travels with what was consistently described as "six
to eight black men." I asked several Dutch people to narrow it
down, but none of them could give me an exact number. It was always
"six to eight," which seems strange, seeing as they've had hundreds
of years to get a decent count.

The six to eight black men were characterized as personal slaves
until the mid-fifties, when the political climate changed and it
was decided that instead of being slaves they were just good
friends. I think history has proven that something usually comes
between slavery and friendship, a period of time marked not by
cookies and quiet times beside the fire but by bloodshed and
mutual hostility. They have such violence in Holland, but rather
than duking it out among themselves, Santa and his former slaves
decided to take it out on the public. In the early years, if a
child was naughty, Saint Nicholas and the six to eight black men
would beat him with what Oscar described as "the small branch of
a tree."

"A switch?"

"Yes," he said. "That's it. They'd kick him and beat him with a
switch. Then, if the youngster was really bad, they'd put him in
a sack and take him back to Spain."

"Saint Nicholas would kick you?"

"Well, not anymore," Oscar said. "Now he just pretends to kick
you."

"And the six to eight black men?"

"Them, too."

He considered this to be progressive, but in a way I think it's
almost more perverse than the original punishment. "I'm going to
hurt you, but not really." How many times have we fallen for that
line? The fake slap invariably makes contact, adding the elements
of shock and betrayal to what had previously been plain, old-
fashioned fear. What kind of Santa spends his time pretending to
kick people before stuffing them into a canvas sack? Then, of
course, you've got the six to eight former slaves who could
potentially go off at any moment. This, I think, is the greatest
difference between us and the Dutch. While a certain segment of
our population might be perfectly happy with the arrangement, if
you told the average white American that six to eight nameless
black men would be sneaking into his house in the middle of the
night, he would barricade the doors and arm himself with whatever
he could get his hands on.

"Six to eight, did you say?"

In the years before central heating, Dutch children would leave
their shoes by the fireplace, the promise being that unless they
planned to beat you, kick you, or stuff you into a sack, Saint
Nicholas and the six to eight black men would fill your clogs
with presents. Aside from the threats of violence and kidnapping,
it's not much different from hanging your stockings from the
mantel. Now that so few people have a working fireplace, Dutch
children are instructed to leave their shoes beside the radiator,
furnace, or space heater. Saint Nicholas and the six to eight black
men arrive on horses, which jump from the yard onto the roof. At
this point, I guess, they either jump back down and use the door,
or they stay put and vaporize through the pipes and electrical
wires. Oscar wasn't too clear about the particulars, but, really,
who can blame him? We have the same problem with our Santa. He's
supposed to use the chimney, but if you don't have one, he still
manages to come through. It's best not to think about it too hard.

While eight flying reindeer are a hard pill to swallow, our
Christmas story remains relatively simple. Santa lives with his
wife in a remote polar village and spends one night a year
traveling around the world. If you're bad, he leaves you coal. If
you're good and live in America, he'll give you just about anything
you want. We tell our children to be good and send them off to bed,
where they lie awake, anticipating their great bounty. A Dutch
parent has a decidedly hairier story to relate, telling his
children, "Listen, you might want to pack a few of your things
together before you go to bed. The former bishop from Turkey will
be coming along with six to eight black men. They might put some
candy in your shoes, they might stuff you in a sack and take you
to Spain, or they might just pretend to kick you. We don't know
for sure, but we want you to be prepared."

This is the reward for living in Holland. As a child you get to
hear this story, and as an adult you get to turn around and repeat
it. As an added bonus, the government has thrown in legalized drugs
and prostitution-so what's not to love about being Dutch?

Oscar finished his story just as we arrived at the station. He was
a polite and interesting guy-very good company-but when he offered
to wait until my train arrived, I begged off, saying I had some
calls to make. Sitting alone in the vast terminal, surrounded by
other polite, seemingly interesting Dutch people, I couldn't help
but feel second-rate. Yes, it was a small country, but it had six
to eight black men and a really good bedtime story. Being a fairly
competitive person, I felt jealous, then bitter, and was edging
toward hostile when I remembered the blind hunter tramping off
into the Michigan forest. He might bag a deer, or he might happily
shoot his sighted companion in the stomach. He may find his way
back to the car, or he may wander around for a week or two before
stumbling through your front door. We don't know for sure, but in
pinning that license to his chest, he inspires the sort of
narrative that ultimately makes me proud to be an American.

best tattoo ever

Tobias Funke absolutely deserves to be immortalized in such a a manner...

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12.19.2008

the politics of overreaction

Re: the Rick Warren "controversy", Yglesias suggests I read a treatise on multiculturalism to "get" what the big deal is. Well, sorry Matt, but that is not gonna happen. But such a response does make it crystal clear that his problem is one that is confined to the politiblog circle jerk, and not something that most people give a shit about. So I guess it's not really a controversy after all.

But I would like to ask who the nationally recognized, pro-choice, pro-gay rights, Christian pastor is that should be giving the invocation.

News flash: Christianity in America is overwhelming anti-gay and pro-life. Your problem is with Christianity, not Warren specifically. Just say so, and I will agree with you.

make 'em talk

I have been saying this for a while. You wanna filibuster? Well, then filibuster, motherfuckers.
What I do think makes sense is for the majority to actually require the minority to filibuster -- as in talk and talk and talk. We've arrived at a point in which it's become standard, even in the most contentious of cases, for the minority to be allowed merely to signal the intention to filibuster rather than doing the actual thing itself. Filibustering is a tool of obstruction. It's a critical right of the minority in the senate. But it is, by definition, obstruction. So it makes sense to put the obstructionists to their task, make them do it publicly. I don't know why the Democrats are not doing that in this case.


12.18.2008

"the game is the game"

I was going to write a long post about the left's hyperventilating over Obama choosing Rick Warren to deliver the inaugural invocation. I was going to mention that, like it or not, in large part, Christianity in America is anti-gay. And how you can pretend it isn't, but it is. And also how to be okay with the concept of Christian invocation in the first place, and yet to freak about an anti-gay Christian pastor delivering it, well, it just seems like a weird thing to get outraged about. And something to the effect that the politics behind Obama's choice are pretty obvious and blah blah blah and so on and so forth. I was going to say a lot of things. 

But then The Editors, as usual, broke shit down better than I could possible dream of.

To state the obvious: Rick Warren isn’t there to represent (metaphorical) “gay-bashers”, he’s representing (white) Christians.  Now, Christians, as a group, are primarily concerned with stopping abortion, gay sex, and fucking generally - I understand this isn’t universal among Christians, but the anti-gay and anti-abortion jihadis do exist in large numbers in this country, and I doubt many of them come from the secular humanist community (all of whom are going to be tortured in flames forever by the Merciful Sky God for noticing that this is fucking retarded.)  People with very well-thought-out theological arguments about why 70-whatever percent of Christians are not really Christian can present them to me right after I present my dissertation on why Batman could beat up Darth Vader if Thundarr the Barbarian let him borrow his Sun Sword, and also a hundred other brilliant arguments based on fiction.  Apologies to believing Christians and Jedis.


To answer John’s question: give it a month.  Barack Obama will then sit down with, and promote at state events, a parade of very non-metaphorical racists, anti-Semites, murders, tyrants, torturers, and worse, many of whom are our very great friends.  He will do it for these essentially the same reason that he has, and will again, court Rick Warren - because they are players in the international sphere much as I gather Mr. Warren is in the domestic. And so they will be offered these symbolic concessions in the hope that they are stupid enough to trade them for material concessions.  And it often works: you’d be surprised how many people expect politics to validate their identity, and for whom the ultimate prize is to win meaningless symbolic triumphs over their rivals.  It’s called “politics”, the business of negotiating the world of humans, most of whom are scorching assholes and insecure idiots.  There are ways of avoiding this unpleasantness, but they all involve not being a politician.  The Game is the Game.


Is this smart politics?  Will courting Warren indeed weaken the Republican stranglehold on white evangelicals? I don’t know, and neither do you.  Warren is being given a symbolic victory in exchange for the possibility of material political gain for a liberal agenda.  That’s a trade you take every single time.

darth cheney

I guess I shouldn't be shocked, it's something we all knew, but it is striking to hear him out and out admit it:
Vice President Dick Cheney said Monday that he was directly involved in approving severe interrogation methods used by the CIA, and that the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, should remain open indefinitely....
"I was aware of the program, certainly, and involved in helping get the process cleared," Cheney said in an interview with ABC News.
Surely this solidifies his position as one of the most dangerous, un-American elected officials in our history.

12.14.2008

no reprieve

The Chargers comeback today should in no way, shape or form save Norv Turner's job. That's twice this year we've gotten lucky against the Chiefs, one of the worst teams in the league. Norv, for all his supposed offensive genius, has neutered what should be a prolific offense with his questionable play calling.

Here's Norv Turner in a nutshell.

Faced with a 1st and 20 in the first quarter, Norv calls at LT run that gets a whopping 1 yard. On 2nd and 19, a wide receiver screen for no gain. On 3rd and 19, and a running back screen for 6 yards. Punt.

Inspired play calling, I tell ya.

That is enough to make my blood boil on 1st and 10, much less 1st and 20.

San Diego won despite Norv Turner. Dude needs to go, the sooner the better.

12.12.2008

gray davis was right

According to the conventional wisdom in California is that during the good times, you can't raise taxes on the rich, because it might threaten those same good times. And you can't raise taxes on the rich during bad times, because the last thing you want to do during a recession is raise anyone's taxes. That pretty much applies to the "okay" times too. So you can't raise anyone's taxes ever. And you can't raise the sales tax, or any other taxes either, because the last Governor who actually thought that the state balance sheet might actually matter was driven out of office like some sort of child molestor.

So, with no extra money coming in, surprise, surprise, California is about to run out of money. Arnold's faith in the market and staunch opposition to any taxes have contributed to an already bad economic crisis. Maybe it's just now occurring to Arnold that taxes are a necessary evil
Mr Schwarzenegger is proposing the same kind of emergency tax rises that in 2003 turned Mr Davis into a pariah. He has suggested a 1.5 per cent increase in sales tax — the equivalent of Britain’s VAT — and a tripling of the car tax. When Mr Schwarzenegger first ran for office, he did so on a promise to revoke a similar car tax increase proposed by his predecessor.
So basically, yeah, Gray Davis was right. Philosophical arguments against any and all tax increases don't usually jibe well with the reality of actually running a government. It's extremely easy to sell the public on the "all taxes are bad taxes" line, but what do you do once the bed is shat?

Somehow this gross mismanagement has not led to a recall. Funny how that works. Clinton impeached. Davis Recalled. Yet Bush and Schwarzeneggerget off scot-free.

12.11.2008

bok bok

Nothing in recent memory has made me laugh as hard as the Bluth family doing their various impressions of a chicken.

12.05.2008

punk cd's for sale

If you're into punk, or know anyone who is, I listed a shit-ton of CD's over the past few days. All bids start at 99 cents, and I can pretty much guarantee you'll be the only bidder.

Click here, or search eBay for seller xjerryx. 

All proceeds will go to my charitable foundation, Holy Shit Saab's Are Expensive To Repair.

12.03.2008

zune: more proof that obama rules

Apparently Obama, like me, has ignored the "iPod is God" crowd and chosen the plucky underdog, the Zune. That's change we can believe in, my friends.

I know the Zune is supposed to suck and be the worst mp3 player ever, but after a year, I like mine more than ever. I do not understand people who have never used one, yet hate it. Same deal with Microsoft Vista.

11.30.2008

the chargers, analyzed

I've watched every Chargers game this year. I've done in depth analsyis of each phase of the game: coaching, offense, defense, special teams, and I believe I have pinpointed the exact cause of the Chargers woes this season:

They suck.

dear norv

Just a wacky idea I had.

If you have 3rd and 8, how about instead of a three-yard pass, or a 30-yard pass, how about we try, I don't know, let's say A FUCKING NINE YARD PASS?!?!?!

Carzy, I know. This kind of reasoning is why you're a head coach and I'm not.

11.25.2008

chipotle is soylent green

My Chipotle cup on Sunday was a slight bit disturbing.

Chipotle Cup

bailout

Questions:

What are the healthiest banks at the moment? What did they do right? What did they avoid doing wrong? Couldn't they somehow be rewarded with the business that the failing banks screwed up?

I don't understand capital markets and international banking, so I'm sure there is a good answer to that last question. But I'd still like to hear it.

11.23.2008

vikings

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SC maintains that the logo on the Minnesota Vikings helmets looks like sperm and the team should now be known as the Minnesota Load.

That is all. Thank you and God Bless.

11.21.2008

a long two months ahead

Just when I thought I was out, he keeps pulling me back in...

In recent days, the Bush administration announced new rules to speed oil shale development across 2 million rocky acres in the West. It scheduled an auction for drilling rights alongside three national parks. It has also set in motion processes to finalize major changes in endangered species protection, allow more mining waste to flow into rivers and streams, and exempt factory farms from air pollution reporting.
I'm sure the Central Valley, which has a ton of factory farms AND some of the worst air pollution in the nation (#2 Bakersfield, #3 Visalia, #5 Fresno, #6 Sacramento), will be stoked to hear that.

But hey, it's not like the Bush Administration is poisoning children or anything.

Oh.
Looking to bolster the fight against childhood lead poisoning, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency last month approved a tough new rule aimed at clearing the nation's air of the toxic metal.

A key part of the initiative is a new network of monitors that will track lead emissions from factories. But the Bush administration quietly weakened that provision at the last minute by exempting dozens of polluters from scrutiny, federal documents show.

Critics say the change undermines a rule that otherwise has been widely hailed as a powerful step forward in protecting children's health.
January 20th can not come soon enough.

11.20.2008

fecal transplant

One of the better decisions I made this week was to add the Google Trends RSS feed to my Google Reader. It's oddly compelling to see what the popular searches are at any given time. But then, tonight, guess what ended up #1? Answer: #2.

I didn't click through, because I don't want to know. Sometimes, ignorance really is bliss.

11.18.2008

punk singers

IGN made a list of the top 10 punk singers. It looks like this:

  • 10. David Vanian - The Damned
  • 09. Joey Ramone - The Ramones
  • 08. Greg Graffin - Bad Religion
  • 07. Henry Rollins - Black Flag
  • 06. Chad Price - All
  • 05. H.R. - Bad Brains
  • 04. Blake Scharzenbach- Jawbreaker
  • 03. Johnny Rotten - Sex Pistols
  • 02. Ari Katz - Lifetime
  • 01. Glen Danzig - Misfits
"Best" lists are completly subjective, I get that. Different strokes and all that. But c'mon. The inclusion of Ari Katz and Chad Price is a joke. Greg Graffin does not belong on this list - it says singers, not lyricists.

So here's my list of my favorite punk vocalists. Not the "best", but my favorite, stating now that I value uniqueness and attitude as the main components of a great singer.

10. Kim Shattuck - The Muffs



09. Patrick Costello - Dillinger Four



08. Bob Mould - Husker Du



 07. Jake Burns - Stiff Little Fingers



06. Tesco Vee - The Meatmen



05. Glen Danzig - The Misfits



04. Jello Biafra - Dead Kennedys



3 Keith Morris - Circle Jerks/Black Flag



02. Blaine Cook - The Accused/The Fartz



01. H.R. - Bad Brains



Now for the honorable mentions:

Joey Ramone - The Ramones



Joe Strummer - The Clash



Fat Mike - NoFX



John Brannon - Negative Approach



Eric Ozenne - Nerve Agents/Redemption 87/Unit Pride



Eric Davidson - New Bomb Turks



Jerry A - Poison Idea



Darby Crash - The Germs



Springa -SSD



Blake Scharzenbach- Jawbreaker



Doc Corbin Dart - The Crucifucks



Leonard Phillips - The Dickies



And of course, GG Allin



annoying phrases

Oxford University cites these as the top ten irritating phrases:

1 - At the end of the day
2 - Fairly unique
3 - I personally
4 - At this moment in time
5 - With all due respect
6 - Absolutely
7 - It's a nightmare
8 - Shouldn't of
9 - 24/7
10 - It's not rocket science

But it seems they forgot THE most irritatating phrase:

It is what it is.

What other phrases did they miss? Comment please.

11.17.2008

what would an elitist drive?

Ladies and gentleman, the Dodge Neon.

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Natasha Brown knows what drives Barack Obama, or at least what he used to drive.

The 21-year-old Broadview woman owns the 2000 Dodge Neon that once belonged to the president-elect. Illinois secretary of state records show Obama briefly owned the four-door car and sold it to a suburban dealership in January 2005, just a few weeks before being sworn in as a U.S. senator. 
I would definitely check the trunk for residual arugula.

wait, what?

Prince is fucking straight?
Prince, who has written and performed such randy hits as Little Red Corvette and Kiss has this to say about gay marriage: he'll support it when doves cry. 

"God came to earth and saw people sticking it wherever and doing it with whatever," he says in the current issue of the New Yorker magazine. "And he just cleared it all out. He was, like, 'Enough.'"
 Up is down, left is right, black is white, Prince is straight.

11.10.2008

protesting prop 8

I don't understand the protests over Proposition 8.

I voted No on 8, and I'm bummed that it passed. But it did pass. So I would just ask those protesting, what exactly are you trying to accomplish? The vote was last week.

There's another election in 2 years. Wouldn't a better idea be to start doing outreach into communities that you may be able to win over to your side? Get the ball rolling. The other side never quits, you shouldn't either. Get a pro-gay marriage proposition onto the 2010 ballot. If it fails, well there's 2012, 2014, so and so on. That's one upside of the referendum process.

Prop 22 passed by over 20 points in 2000. Prop 8 won by only 4. Progress has been made. Focus you energy where it can make a difference. I gaurantee you, your protests are only preaching to the choir. Time to build some bridges.

You are on the right side of history. Don't let the bitterness of Prop 8 cloud that.

i have very poor taste in music

At one point this was my favorite song:



Holy shnikeys. In my defense, I was in like, fourth grade or something. Aldo Nova was like the underground, badass version of Loverboy.

Pretty bad, eh? But wait, it gets better/worse:



Forgive me.

ta-ta, joe

I don't understand why there's even a moment's hesitation about how to handle the Joe Lieberman situation. So long, Joe. End of story.

Joe spoke at the Republican convention. Joe backed the Republican candidate. Joe disparaged the Democratic nominee. There's no price to pay for this behavior?

Even if Democrats needed Lieberman to get a filibuster proof 60 votes*, I would still send him packing from the chairmanship of any important committees. If he wants to caucus with the Democrats, then he should do so based on his position on the issue, not because the Democratic leadership did him a favor. Likewise, if he wants to caucus with the Republicans, he should do so based on his position on the issue, not just to spite Democrats. To base your vote on who was nicer to you, that's just repulsive.

You can't have it both ways, Joe. Democrats are weak for even discussing the issue. Obama is much more forgiving than I would be. I'm not saying you have to be a complete dick to Lieberman, but a demotion of some sort is in order. 

Grow a pair, Democrats.

*By the way, what happened to the days when Republican whined all day long about an "up or down vote" when the Democrats filibustered even one thing? Now that they are in the minority, using a filibuster is the norm. Funny how that works.

11.09.2008

music to my ears

To the winner goes the spoils.
Transition advisers to President-elect Barack Obama have compiled a list of about 200 Bush administration actions and executive orders that could be swiftly undone to reverse White House policies on climate change, stem cell research, reproductive rights and other issues, according to congressional Democrats, campaign aides and experts working with the transition team.

11.08.2008

huh?

The Daily Beast:
Yesterday, Barack Obama was awarded the electoral vote of Omaha's congressional district in Nebraska, which, along with Maine, is the only state in the union to split its electoral votes by district. 
How can you be the "only" state, "along with" another one? "Are the only states" is what you were going for.

Why I'm being a grammar Nazi on a Saturday morning, I have no idea.

it's not over yet

Oh God
In May, the White House said it wanted to avoid the rush of “midnight regulations” that had occurred at the end of other administrations. But Bush administration officials said this week that they still intended to issue, or relax, many economic, environmental, health and safety rules before they leave office on Jan. 20.
Nevermind that the election was a total refutation of your governance. Forge ahead, assholes.

11.07.2008

why obama won

He was the better candidate.

The End.

effing padres

The Padres are trying to trade a pitcher (Jake Peavy) and a shortstop (Khalil Greene) for.....a shortstop and some pitching.

Wha...?

Seeing how Peavy and Greene are my two favorite players on the club, I'm supposed to pay money to see them in a tight economy why, exactly?

With Matt Vasgersian gone, I don't even know how I can bear to watch on TV.

11.06.2008

the truth hurts

8 years

I'd like to thank the following Hollywood Elites, in no particular order, for getting me through the last eight years:

David Cross
Al Franken
Marc Maron
Sam Seder
Janeane Garofalo
Kent Jones aka Lawton Smalls
Jon Stewart
Stephen Colbert
David Letterman
Michael Moore
Bill Maher
Rob Corrdry
Ed Helms
Samantha Bee
John Hodgeman
All of the other Daily Show correspondents

(Let me interject here that Air America, specifically Morning Sedition and the Al Franken Show, got me through my post-2004 election depression. I thought they were both great, vastly underrated shows. Air America deserved to fail for canceling Morning Sedition in particular.)

You were all a silver lining on a dark cloud and a very cheap method of therapy. 

honeymoon

Lest you get the wrong idea from my last blog, I fully realize that between now and January 20 is as good as it will get for Obama. I hear the right wing saying how they hope Obama succeeds. Maybe, yet it's always followed with a "but", so forgive me if I don't exactly believe them.

Their disdain for Obama will now be unhindered by the distraction of trying to promote their own candidate. Obama will have to bear the full brunt of attacks. Any mistake will be amplified. Any questionable quote taken out of context will be scrutinized and held up as evidence of some ulterior motive. All of those who excoriated Democrats for not always supporting President Bush will suffer from a bout of collective amnesia now that the President is a Democrat.

I just hope their hyteria doesn't lead me to defensivley protect Obama at all costs. Obama is going to do some shit I do not approve of. I'm okay with that, but I also would like to be intellectually honest and call him out when he does. I don't want to be like "them" - the Malkins, the Oshrys, the VD Hansons - and continually defend the indefensible.

If you thought BDS was bad, wait until you get a peek at ODS. I set the over/under on right-wing calls for impeachment at May 2009. 

11.05.2008

mr soandso

Probably would have never noticed if they hadn't pointed it out:

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working the poll

Yesterday was the greatest.

I was a poll worker in a Normal Heights precinct. It was my first time doing something like this. But my motives were not altruistic; I selfishly wanted to be a part of history.

When I arrived at 0530, there was a single person in line waiting. By the time the poll opened at 0700, the line had grown to a few dozen. Shortly after 0700, the line snaked around a little patio garden and and onto the sidewalk, maybe 50 people. That's as bad as it got, though. Besides the initial rush, no one else had to wait over a couple of minutes.

I worked in a dual precinct, and there was a lot of confusion as to who needed to go to what precinct. So directing voters to the correct precinct became my job. Which immediately led to my first insight (may only apply to California): BRING YOUR VOTER PAMPHLET WITH YOU. Not only does it explicitly state your precinct, it makes it much faster to find you on the voter rolls. None of this "How do you spell your last name? What street do you live on?" Just hand the guide off and you're set. Those who brought their pamplet had a much easier time than those who didn't. It had never occurred to me to do so, but from here on out it will be the norm.

Those who had worked previous elections said that turnout was absolutely heavier than any other recent election. It seemed odd to me, because we had some periods of a few minutes when no one came into the precinct. But I was told that in a "normal" election there are up to twenty-minute chunks when no one comes in.

Normal Heights is pretty ethnically mixed, so I wasn't surprised to see so many Black and Latino voters. But I was still a little choked up by it. There were so many people who said that it was their first time voting. And these were middle aged voters, and not all of them were Black. You could feel the excitement. Not just from them, but everyone: young, old, Black, White, Latino, Asian, disabled, whoever. Of course, I don't know how they actually voted, but I have an idea. I note that this process made me realize I live in an amazing extended neighborhood (Kensington-Normal Heights).

But the most bestest part of the day were the black children. I'll use one particular family as an example of what I mean. There are four of them: Mom, Dad, and two kids, in the range of 8-12. We set up some chairs for people who were waiting, so the kids waited there while their parents voted. These kids had no idea how significant this was. Well, they might have some idea. I'm sure their parents had explained the significance to them. I'm not qualified to say at what age the concept of race and all the stuff that comes with it kicks in, but there's no doubt that as far as race goes, their parents went through more far more than they did. And their grandparents even more, and so on until you get a timeline back to the reason all of this matters so much: slavery.  Then the full realization of what was going to happen hits you. Holy shit. These kids will grow up and barely remember when there was no black president.

I don't really know how to put into words what I felt, and apologies if I've worded any of this in a confusing or insensitive manner. I realize it's probably a little douche-y to be a lily-white guy, who has never been affected by any sort of discrimination, co-opting this moment as proof of his country's redemption.

But I cannot deny that yesterday was one of the best days of my life.

prop 8

The California Constitution is a piss poor excuse for a constitution. Any constitution that allows you to amend it with a simple majority vote is a lame one. Now, I know that the idea behind the initiative process is to give "the people" a larger say, but a constitution's principles should represent the core values of a population, and yet be vague enough to provide some leeway for interpretation. It shouldn't be subject to 50% + 1 sways of the public opinion. If 50% + 1 decide that "equal protection" just isn't that important, then that's what our Constitution will reflect. Pathetic. The United States Constitution is the best example of what a constitution can be. The California Constitution, on the other hand, is a joke.

Today, for the first time ever, I'm prouder of Ohio, Indiana, North Carolina, Virginia and Florida than I am of my home state. Those states had some fucking balls on Tuesday. We're supposed to be the example. What we do here tends becomes the (mostly) nationwide norm down the line. What the fuck?

11.04.2008

communion

Hertzberg:
I’ve always loved the experience of voting. For an unchurched secularist like me, it’s the closest I’m likely to get to the feeling of sacred solidarity which I imagine believers derive from their religious rituals.
Exactly how I feel.

election bukkake










11.03.2008

vote, mf'ers

The late, great David Foster Wallace in Up, Simba:
Assuming you are demographically a Young Voter, it is again worth a moment of your valuable time to consider the implications of the techs’ last couple points. If you are bored and disgusted by politics and don’t bother to vote, you are in effect voting for the entrenched Establishments of the two major parties, who please rest assured are not dumb, and who are keenly aware that it is in their interests to keep you disgusted and bored and cynical and to give you every possible psychological reason to stay at home doing one-hitters and watching MTV on primary day. By all means, stay home if you want, but don’t bullshit yourself that you’re not voting. In reality, there is no such thing as not voting: you either vote by voting, or you vote by staying home and tacitly doubling the value of some Diehard’s vote.

another if

IF Obama wins tomorrow, it sucks that neither his grandma or Studs Terkel made it long enough to witness it from Earth.

shot heard round the world

When Bobby Thompson hit the walk-off home run that won the National League pennant for the New York Giants in 1951, the official attendance at the Polo Grounds, where the game was played, was a mere 34,320. Unofficial attendance is estimated at about 56,000. Yet, if you counted all the people who later said they were there, that figure would easily reach well into the six figures.

If, I repeat IF (and I'm freakin' out right about now), Obama wins the presidential election, I wonder how many people who didn't vote for him will later say that the did. I mean, when your grandchild asks you about the historic election of 2008, do you want to tell him or her that you were pulling for the cranky old white guy? My guess is that a poll taken in 2030 on how people voted would look 80% - 20%.

11.01.2008

maximumbaracknroll

I bought the awesomest shirt. Maximumrocknroll + Barack Obama = Yes, please.

Photobucket

Available at No Idea Records.

EDIT: Ooops. I posted a video instead of the pic. Fixed. My bad.

best. obama ad. evar.

10.31.2008

what's the matter with san diego?

Egads.
Up to 70,000 people are expected to pray and fast in support of Proposition 8 at the Q [Quallcomm Stadium] -- while opponents will stand in unity during a candlelight vigil on Saturday night. The prayer event is called "The Callout" and will take place from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. "It's going to be 12 hours of thousands of people coming together to worship and fast and pray for California, for our nation. For God's blessing on this state," said Lou Engle, event co-founder.
Weird how they can't get 70,000 together to pray for an end to hunger, homelessness, or any Jesus-y stuff like that.

halloween

Doh! I almost forgot to dust off my hey-you-damn-kids-get-off-my-lawn, grumpy-old-man, anti-halloween rant!

Well, here it is.

khalidi anti-protest

Ezra Klein has a good idea.
Presumably, this experience has not been a pleasant one for Khalidi. But it would be nice if some good emerged from it in the form of broader familiarity with his important works. So next time you hear Hannity explain how Rashid Khalidi urinates on a Haggadah during full moons, head over to Amazon and pick up a copy of The Iron Cage: The Story of the Palestinian Struggle for Statehood. Its an important book on its own terms, and its purchase is a worthy counter-statement to this type of anti-Arab fearmongering.
And, and Yglesias points out,  it's only $10.40 with free shipping at Amazon.com.

10.30.2008

quarterback controversy

No, not who to start in my fantasy league (though, that is a good question). It just seems that the quarterbacks of my two favorite teams appear to be douches have political philosophies diametrically opposed to mine.

Philip "Marmalard" Rivers, QB, San Diego Chargers:
Phillip Rivers, starting quarterback for the San Diego Chargers, contributes $10,000 to Yes on Prop 4 Campaign, confirmed Charles Gallagher, Campaign Manager and Chief Strategist for Yes on 4. 
Prop 4 being the "Abortion Waiting Period and Parental Notification Initiative", otherwise known as the "If Your Piece Of Shit Father Rapes You And You Get Pregnant, You Must Get His Permission To Have An Abortion Initiative".

Tom Brandstater, QB, Fresno State Bulldogs:
Brandstater supports McCain and plans to vote. He describes himself as "very much a Republican" but said "it doesn't look like my guy's gonna win."..."I am a believer that the war in Iraq is a necessary evil," Brandstater said. "It's not the ideal situation but it has to happen." 
 Sheesh. Now, I'm in an ethical quandary. Do I root for these jackasses or not?

I'm (mostly) kidding. I realize people can respectfully disagree on things. But respectfully disagreeing doesn't change the fact that Marmalard is still a male, and Brandstater hasn't volunteered to go to Iraq to fight in a war he believes so strongly in. Whether his brother did or not is irrelevant.

the khalidi libel

Josh Marshall: 
The McCain campaign has been throwing around so much mud and smears in recent weeks that it's easy to miss just how ugly and shameful their character assassination of Rashid Khalidi is. This is an entirely respectable, highly respected scholar. To go further into making a case for him would only be to enable and indulge McCain's sordid appeal to racism. For McCain, personally, to compare Khalidi to a neo-nazi, it's just an offense McCain should never be forgiven for. It's right down in the gutter with Joe McCarthy and the worst of the worst. Khalidi is in this new McCain set piece for one reason -- as a generic Arab, to spur the idea that Obama is foreign, friendly with terrorists and possibly Muslim. 
 Tru. 
http://ping.fm/p/RZQxc - Vegas, Baby

10.28.2008

rashid khalidi

The McCain campaign is now in a frenzy because Obama might have a...brace yourselves...Palestinian acquaintance. The horror!

The Palestinian in question is Rashid Khalidi. Go ahead, Google him. Find out all the dirt on him. He's a professor at Columbia, and previously taught at Georgetown. His crime? Being a Palestinian-American who, get this, supports the rights of Palestinians. The horror x 2!

Is that no longer allowed? Is the criteria now that even a Palestinian must support a 100% pro-Israeli position, and any refusal to do so is controversial? Ridiculous. This marginalization of anything and anybody Palestinian is disgusting, not to mention un-American.

I am hoping that Obama takes a strong stand against this sort of Daniel Pipes-ian anti-Palestinian bullying. The politics of the issue make me doubtful that he will. My hope is that over time the "Israel is 100% right and Palestinians are 100% wrong" viewpoint will wither away and a more nuanced and realistic viewpoint will take its place. 

It's one thing to be pro-Israel. It's another thing to be anti-Palestinian and treat an entire population as something to be distanced from. McCain has chosen the latter path.

There was once a time I really did respect McCain. Those days are long gone.

UPDATE: This makes such Palestinian-bashing even more disgusting:
During the 1990s, while he served as chairman of the International Republican Institute (IRI), McCain distributed several grants to the Palestinian research center co-founded by Khalidi, including one worth half a million dollars.
 What a pathetic opportunist. 

slate on obama

Like it does every four years, Slate writers and staff publicly expressed how they will be voting. Although Slate is infamous for it's "up is really down, black is really white" contrarianism, it was still no shock that Obama handily won the site's endorsement.

Here's my favorite reasons why you should support Obama. I agree with all of them.
  • Because I'd rather have a president who is intellectually curious, shrewd, even-keeled, eloquent, and analytical than one whose chief campaign selling point is being unpredictable. Because I'd like to keep the number of Alitos on the bench to one. Because I think Obama will be more cautious about withdrawal from Iraq than people think. Because world opinion does matter, and the United States needs rebranding. Because I don't care about health care choice, I just want to see an affordable doctor. Because I don't want the Clean Air Act to be a misnomer anymore. Because the thought of Sarah Palin in the Oval Office makes me want to drink.
  • I'm so tired of the partisanship that has been a staple of the Bush presidency and the McCain-Palin ticket. To infer (and to do so in such an overt, unapologetic manner) that somehow small-town America is the "real" America, the America with good values and moral judgment, is such an insult, especially when it's convenient for them to use New York City and Sept. 11 as political props.
  • You want me to count the reasons? Nah, you don't have that kind of time.
  • It's important not to ratify failure, and the current Republican administration is a failure.
  • I wasn't going to include any reason why—because duh—but then a friend pointed out this line from David Sedaris' latest New Yorker column: "I think of being on an airplane. The flight attendant comes down the aisle with her food cart and, eventually, parks it beside my seat. 'Can I interest you in the chicken?' she asks. 'Or would you prefer the platter of shit with bits of broken glass in it?' " So, yes, I'm having the chicken.
  • McCain picked Palin.
    Already 72.
    Might die in office.
  • As for the accusation that he doesn't have enough experience: No one has enough experience. Nothing prepares you for the presidency. Nothing can. 
  • Two words: Supreme Court.

10.27.2008

vegas roadtrip mix tape power rankings



10 - Neutral Milk Hotel - King Of Carrot Flowers, Pt 1 [Yeah, I can be a hipster douche with the best of 'em when I want.] 

9 - J Church - Cosmonaut [I am sucker for whoa-oh's as a chorus device.]

8 - Beastie Boys - 3-Minute Rule [People like to say Paul's Boutique was years ahead of its time. But even by that standard this should sound old almost twenty years later. It doesn't.]

7 - Built To Spill - They Got Away [One of the mellower anti-Iraq war songs you're likely to hear. BTS goes reggae, and I like it. Who knew?]

6 - Scared Of Chaka - Straight To The Office [Good God I forgot how good these guys were. IMHO, the New Bomb Turks are the only better garage punk band.]

5 - Oxford Collapse - Young Love Delivers [See comments for NMH.]

4 - Off With Their Heads - Call The Cops [Best white trash punk love long ever?]

3 - Radon - Rehab Barbie [On the surface (like many Radon songs) this song seems lighthearted, with the Weekend At Bernie's references and all, but at its core there's something profoundly sad about it.]
 
2 - Dillinger Four - The Classical Arrangement [This anti-religion song is a bit of a musical departure for D4, but I like it a lot, and the moment where the song transitions from gloom to uptempo makes me want to cry, it's so perfect.]
 
1 - David Cross - My Immigrant Mom Talks Funny [I've heard this a million times, and it's still funny, especially the part towards the end about Texas style sodomy. Completely inappropriate, yet hilarious, and makes its larger point quite well. The smile and laugh it invoked in SC was the highlight of the trip.]

10.26.2008

what's the matter with nevada?

So SC and I took a quick overnight trip to Vegas. We just got into town, when at a stoplight, SC tells me that the guy behind us is heckling me. Oh, I should mention I have an Obama sticker on my car. That's kind of important to the story. Anywho, sure enough, the guy is yelling something to the effect of "If I had an Obama sticker, I'd have my windows rolled up, too." I'm not quite sure what that is supposed to mean, but I'm sure it was not a compliment. So, of course I rolled down my window and shouted, "Well it's down now, so I guess I'm not you." The discourse elevated from there:
Him: "He's gonna fuck everything up."


Me: "Yeah, cause things are going soooo great now." 


Him: "NO-BAMA!"
{I should mention here that my improv skills and insult capabilities leave a lot to be desired.)
Me: "Read a book."
Not exactly proud of my response there, but it is the first time I've ever been openly confronted about a bumper sticker. It was pretty odd, and SC was shaken for a moment. I chalked it up to an insecure dickhead, since Obama seems to be holding a lead in the typically Republican state.

So I get home tonight, log into my Google reader, and see this from Wonkette.



Yowza.

10.23.2008

the last tour

Because I am a West Coast elitist and not a "real American," of course I read the New Yorker. Well, a few weeks ago, William Finnegan wrote a piece called The Last Tour, the tragic tale of Travis Twiggs, an Iraq War veteran who suffered from PTSD. This should be required reading for anyone who claims to "support the troop".  The story makes clear that that our collective responsibility to those we send into battle does not end when they are out of the war zone. In many cases, that's when our responsibilty really begins.

You can read the article in full by clicking here

10.20.2008

socialism

I must have missed a memo. When did a progressive tax system become the defining characteristic of socialism? Obama wants to make some minor tweaks to tax rates, and suddenly he's a Marxist who wants to "spread the wealth around".

If a progressive tax system truly is socialist, someone should probably inform people that we've been living in a socialist country since at least 1913.

Also, Adam Smith = Marxist.
The necessaries of life occasion the great expense of the poor. They find it difficult to get food, and the greater part of their little revenue is spent in getting it. The luxuries and vanities of life occasion the principal expense of the rich, and a magnificent house embellishes and sets off to the best advantage all the other luxuries and vanities which they possess. A tax upon house-rents, therefore, would in general fall heaviest upon the rich; and in this sort of inequality there would not, perhaps, be anything very unreasonable. It is not very unreasonable that the rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than in that proportion.

10.15.2008

debates

So, I'm reading the reaction to the debate, and I am confused. I keep reading that McCain did "well", that this was his best debate, but not enough. Was I watching the same thing? With the fidgeting, smirking, the rolling of the eyes, the heavy breathing into the microphone, the obvious disdain he has for Obama - and I haven't even discussed what he actually said, which may have been worse - McCain came across as desperate and bitter. He didn't do "well'. It was a disaster. Yet there were the CNN analysts praising his performance. Luckily, the public agrees with me that Obama pretty overwhelmingly won the debate. But it wasn't because Obama was so great. It was that McCain was so petty and awful. Why couldn't the people who get paid to discuss these things see that?

Why do I see things so differently than the pundits? The easy answer is that I'm biased. And I am. But most of them are too. You have your Begala's, your Castellanos', et all. It's not like they are not biased. Like them, I try to view the debate in a detached manner. Apparently I fail. In 2004, Kerry absolutely wiped the floor with Bush, yet the pundit consensus was "draw". I was completely baffled then, too. Kerry lost, so maybe I shouldn't trust my debate-watching skills.

troops to teachers

It was a laugh-out-loud moment for me and SC (a teacher) when John McCain stated his support for Troops to Teachers. Here is the exact quote:
We need to encourage programs such as Teach for America and Troops to Teachers where people, after having served in the military, can go right to teaching and not have to take these examinations which -- or have the certification that some are required in some states.
On what planet does that sound like a good idea? So I checked the website for Troops To Teachers, which states:
Troops-to-Teachers provides Referral Assistance and Placement services to military personnel interested in beginning a second career in public education as a teacher. The DANTES Troops-to-Teachers office will help applicants identify teacher certification requirements, programs leading to certification and employment opportunities.
That certainly sounds different than what McCain said. So either McCain misspoke, he doesn't understand the program, or I am missing something about the program. I don't think he misspoke; his statement is pretty clear. But minimizing the impact of things that most people find pretty important - teacher credentialing, "spreading the wealth" (we have a progressive tax structure if you haven't noticed), nuclear safety, "health" of the mother - seemed to be McCain's theme.

Truly odd.