Archives for April, 2003

Funnier than Bill O’Reilly

You’ve gotta watch “Scarborough Country“, MSNBC’s attempt to undermine Fox News’s dominance in the key meathead demographic. It’s hosted by Joe Scarborough, a squinty-eyed former congressman from the Florida Panhandle. You can’t satirize the guy. He really does say things like “well, that’s what the liberalchardonnayswillingbriemunchingelitemediathatsidedwithFrance would have you believe. But we know better here on Scarborough Country.”

Scarborough’s copied O’Reilly’s “Talking Points Memo” format. Two nights ago, I’m half-watching with the sound turned down, when he lays into France for advising “Iraq on how to thwart America’s efforts to liberate the people of Iraq.” Says Scarborough: “You can call it what you want. But the only real word for it is treason!” Umm, yeah. When did France become an American citizen?

Last night, he did a segment criticizing Moby’s political blathering. During the segment, the bottom of the screen read “Moby, thar she blows!” That title doesn’t even make any sense unless you’re the sort of frat-boy moron that gets a giggle out of putting Moby’s name in the same sentence as “blow.”

But the Scarborough Country episode I’m really sorry I missed is the one a friend described to me: where Joe takes on the lipstick-lesbian Russkie pop duo Tatu. Here’s part of the transcript:

SCARBOROUGH: Pop star Britney Spears became an overnight sensation after she provocatively danced in her first music video, dressed as a naughty schoolgirl. But a new Russian duo has one-upped the teen pinup with a shocking new video.
And parents, consider this warning. Because this is what your children are probably watching. That’s 18-year-old Lena, and 18-year-old Julia, dressed in school uniforms as they hold hands and make out….

And I want you to take a look at this picture from their official web site, showing the soft porn teens together in their bikinis.

Yeah, let’s look at that again on the slow-frame advance. Oh, the depravity!

Posted on Apr 30, 2003 in Uncategorized | 9 Comments

Line of the Day

Apropos of Mel Gibson’s new movie project, Moller asks:

What the f*ck is up with celebrities and religion? Put one of ‘em into a completely respectable religion, like Catholicism, and they act like Jesus is L. Ron Hubbard and Jerusalem is Jonestown.

Posted on Apr 30, 2003 in Uncategorized | Comments Off

“Party of Personal Liberty”

Jim on how the Dems could suck less and even pick up libertarian votes:

Let the Dems put as much real energy into getting rid of big government they supposedly don’t like as adding big government they do. Campaign on ending the drug war and mean it. Dismantle corporate welfare instead of engaging in it. Restore the personal income tax exemption to its level in 1948 dollars while eliminating all or most itemized deductions. Promise to repeal all or most of the USA-PATRIOT Act, the RAVE Act and the DMCA. Stand as firmly for free trade as Clinton did. A party that did these things would still be very much a liberal party. Hell, it would be a more liberal party than the Dems are now. It would still support regulation and tax policies that libertarians hate, but it would have a credible claim to be Kos’s “party of personal liberty” in the non-economic sphere. If the Republicans did not clean up their own act, it would be a damned hard Democratic Party to say “no thanks” to.

Posted on Apr 30, 2003 in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Sympathy for the Devil

…or his art collection anyway. Franklin Harris speaks up for Saddam’s taste in bare-breasted, sword-and-sorcery art. Well, it’s not what I’d put in my love-bunker if I was an evil tyrant. But I do have a law school buddy who claims that the soundtrack to Conan the Destroyer is the world’s greatest make-out album.

Posted on Apr 24, 2003 in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Downmarket Beer

The Gen X and Y quest for authenticity has led to the resurgence of downmarket brew Pabst Blue Ribbon. I can’t recall having PBR, so I can’t say how bad it is. I can say however that Old Milwaukee evokes racoon urine. Not surprising when you remember their commercials, which seemed designed to engender low expectations. Always something like four unshowered cracker morons grilling fish on a stick by some godforsaken creek, when one turns to the other three and says: “Fellas: It just doesn’t get any better than this!” Always intriguing: was it an unreflective expression of joy, or a gasp of existential anguish?

Does anyone remember Piels? A much more authentic workin’ man’s beer than PBR, and cheaper than Giant Cola. The slogan: “Draft Style.” Not draft beer per se, but, in the manner of a draft beer, inasmuch as anything in a can can be, you understand.

And then there’s Keystone Light, which boasted a “Specially Lined Can,” designed to bring you bottled beer taste in a can (not aiming quite as high as Piels). We took a couple of cans apart in college, scraped the lining and compared it with the inside of Busch cans. Near as we could tell, “specially lined” referred to the logo, which had a line running around the can.

Posted on Apr 22, 2003 in Uncategorized | 17 Comments

Line of the Day


Patriotism: I love my dad.

Nationalism: My dad can beat up your dad.

Imperialism: Here he comes now.

Jesse Walker

Posted on Apr 21, 2003 in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Reality TV

You know, as long as our government’s going to be gallivanting around the world liberating people and smashing evil like the Superfriends on crack, the least you could expect is to get some good TV out of it. That embedded journalism thing certainly didn’t work. You’d tune in, hoping to see Geraldo thwacked by an RPG or something, but it was always wobbly footage of some guy on a Hummer bouncing through the desert.

I can’t help thinking the media’s not trying hard enough. For instance, why am I reading about Saddam’s love shack online instead of seeing it on TV? (Link courtesy of Brooke.)

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) — The doors of the town house opened to reveal a playboy’s fantasy straight from the 1960s: mirrored bedroom, lamps shaped like women, airbrushed paintings of a topless blonde woman and a mustached hero battling a crocodile….

Upstairs was a television room with bright blue, pink and yellow throw pillows. The bathroom included a whirlpool bath. The kingsize bed was fitted into an alcove with mirrors on two sides and a fantasy painting on the third.

The closets and drawers were empty except for a man’s night shirt, two pairs of boxer shorts, two T-shirts and a bath robe — each item individually wrapped in plastic, just as similar items had been in the palaces.

One of the airbrushed paintings depicted a topless blonde woman, with a green demon behind her, pointing a finger at a mythic hero. From the tip of her finger came a giant serpent, which had wrapped itself around the warrior.

Another showed a buxom woman chained to a barren desert mountain ledge, with a huge dragon diving down to kill her with sharpened talons.

The home’s 1960s look — parodied in the series of “Austin Powers” spy spoofs — inspired a round of imitations from soldiers slogging door to door.

“Yeah, baaabeee,” said Carter, doing his best imitation of actor Mike Myers’ character.

“Shagadelic,” another soldier shouted.

Can’t MTV Cribs do something with this? There are definitely some commonalities between nouveau riche rappers and rockers, and totalitarian God-leaders. Take Kim Jong Il, who may be next on the hit list:

Kim Jong Il also loves to drink a certain Hennessey cognac that sells for $630 a bottle in Korea. “He is the largest customer over the last 10 years, averaging between $650,000 and $720,000 a year in purchases — while the average [North] Korean earns only about $900 a year.”

There are other strange details about this man, according to Dr. Post. “He’s recruited these ‘joy brigades,’ where he finds these attractive young women as early as junior high to entertain senior officials.” Kim Jong Il also lives in a seven-story “pleasure palace,” Post says, “and sees himself as a great creative force.”

And there’s more:

Former bodyguard Lee Young Kuk says that at one of Kim’s luxurious palaces on the sea, his boss would tool around on a body board in a vast swimming pool equipped with a wave machine, while a female doctor and a pretty nurse swam behind. Kim has been reported to have three wives but maintains a reputation for womanizing. In a recent tell-all book, Russian security agent Konstantin Pulikovsky, who accompanied Kim on a 2001 train trip to Moscow, describes the sumptuous onboard feasts served Kim, the leader of a hungry nation. The train was well stocked with French wines and once with fresh rock lobsters. Kim was serenaded by four comely women dressed as conductors.

This could be the biggest thing since the Osbournes jumped the shark.

Posted on Apr 21, 2003 in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Kim Jong-Il, owner of the world’s largest collection of Daffy Duck cartoons, doesn’t trust triplets:

All triplets in North Korea are being forcibly removed from parents after their birth and dumped in bleak orphanages.

The policy is carried out on the orders of Stalinist dictator Kim Jong-il, who has an irrational belief that a triplet could one day topple his regime.

Posted on Apr 18, 2003 in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

You can learn a lot about your fellow man by reading the “none of the above” section in the Washington City Paper’s “matches” ads. (Warning! Not a family-friendly link). Today I learned that for some people, hope springs eternal. Here’s an actual ad from this week:

HOT WOMEN NEEDED for casual sexual relationship. I am a SWM, 36y.o., good-looking, straight, disease-free. Respond now. 65504 (exp. 4/24)

And no, that wasn’t me, smartass.

Posted on Apr 18, 2003 in Uncategorized | Comments Off


Congrats, Sony! “Shock and Awe” is gonna make one sweet video game.

Posted on Apr 15, 2003 in Uncategorized | 10 Comments

Advice for Bloggers

My temptation is always to write too much. I keep it under control so as not to have to cut out crap and rewrite. Guys who think they are geniuses because they have never learned how to say no to a typewriter are a common phenomenon. All you have to do is get a phony style and you can write any amount of words.

–Ernest Hemingway to Maxwell Perkins, 1940

Listen up, Den Beste.

Posted on Apr 15, 2003 in Uncategorized | 7 Comments

The Death of the Cool

I was in the West Village in NYC last Wednesday night, at a pseudo-divey Irish bar. Thanks to Mayor Mike’s smoking ban, the air was as clean as it is inside a dentist’s office, and the atmosphere was just about as cool. They talk about the negative externalities of secondhand smoke–but nobody considers the positive externalities.

Not content with wrecking the aesthetics of the smoky pub, and forcing smokers to step outside, Bloomberg wants the cops to follow them, and bust them if they take their beer with them:

Smokers who think they can stand outside a bar drinking, cigarette in hand, are in for a rude awakening.

First Mayor Bloomberg pushed through an indoor-smoking ban. Then yesterday, at his request, a bill was quietly introduced in the City Council to increase the fines of outdoor consumption of alcohol.

The little bastard. I can’t think of another politician who so richly deserves a wedgie and a swirlie.

Posted on Apr 13, 2003 in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Libertarians in Love

Last night I went to one of the best weddings I’ve ever been to. Better even than my high school friend Paul’s wedding on the beach in the Virgin Islands (same hotel where they filmed Weekend at Bernie’s II) with the service conducted by a Rastafarian justice of the peace and the bride wearing the same miniskirt wedding dress that Stephanie Seymour had on in the Guns ‘N Roses “November Rain” video. But I digress.

My friends (and former Cato staffers) Aaron Lukas and Carrie Lips got married at the Mount Vernon Square United Methodist Church on Mass Ave. The reception was in the Cato Institute’s wintergarden. It could hardly be a more libertarian affair if they’d registered at Laissez Faire Books. On top of which, the two of them are totally in love, and cute enough to be on top of a wedding cake.

I can be a little cynical about marriage. It’s hard not to be when it sometimes seems like the whole institution is collapsing. Done wrong, like someone said, marriage is a good way to turn 25 years of your life into smoking wreckage. But a good bit of the cynicism’s an affectation. My parents are happily married and I can’t imagine them without each other. While a bad or mediocre marriage is far worse than the freedom of singlehood, a good one is infinitely better and richer. Some of my friends have the sort of marriage my parents have. I already put Carrie and Aaron in that category.

At the reception, I got to thinking about the random events that determine the direction–for good and bad–of our lives. Step off the curb at the wrong time, distracted by workaday worries–and get creamed by a bus. Get dragged out to the right happy hour, meet the girl of your dreams. How absurdly contingent it all is.

I don’t claim that this is a deep thought. (How deep a thought could it be if Gwyneth Paltrow could make a movie out of it?) But I started thinking along these lines because I realized last night that I am a but-for cause of this terrific marriage.

How, you ask? Because I got Aaron his Cato internship. Here’s the story, which may not be interesting to you unless you know the parties involved: I met Aaron right after college in the Czech Republic. After a lovely period of beer-fueled travel and low-impact work in the former commie bloc, I got my first real post-college job at the Cato Institute (I’m now on my second tour of duty at Cato). Shortly after I started at Cato, we began preparing the Cato Handbook for the 104th Congress. Ed Crane and David Boaz were kind enough to let a precocious little twerp like me take a crack at writing the chapter on privatizing the postal service. Some months after the Handbook came out, the Washington Times used the chapter as the basis for an editorial calling for privatization, and mentioned me by name. Aaron, back from the Czech Republic, and in town visiting our friend Scott, saw the editorial, and they walked in, and stopped by my cubicle. I’m pretty certain my recommendation to then senior editor Sheldon Richman got Aaron the internship, since the class was already full. (And although drug free, Aaron at this time had hair down to his ass and dressed like a patchouli-smelling hippy.)

A couple of years later, while I was at law school, the winsome Carrie came to Cato as a social security policy analyst. Aaron, who by this time was a clean-cut trade policy guy, fell for her hard. He did everything short of holding up a boom-box outside her window playing “In Your Eyes,” a la Lloyd Dobler. After an angst-ridden courtship of epic proportions, he won her over.

And to think it was my wonky public-policy brief that helped start it all. You wouldn’t have guessed it, but the seeds of undying love were nestled in lines like:

The Private Express statutes are an affront to a nation made great by competitive capitalism; further, they are an 18th century anachronism in a 21st century economy that increasingly depends on the rapid transmission of information. Ultimately, there is only one solution to the problems of the postal monopoly: total elimination of government involvement in the postal marketplace.

Makes the heart flutter, doesn’t it? You may think of the policy pieces I write as dry and boring analysis from a crank who ought to get his politics out of the 19th century. But I think of them as valentines to the world. Stick with me, kids. Marital bliss follows in my wake.

Posted on Apr 13, 2003 in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

War Questions

Do we get to retroactively democratize Kuwait now? Why not?

Speaking of democratization, why is it our responsibility? All the hawks said that Iraq–with its mighty arsenal of um, mustard and sarin gas–was a national security threat. Well, let’s stipulate that that’s true. Since when is it our responsibility to rebuild a country that threatened us? Wouldn’t it be standard operating procedure to say, hey–sorry about blowing that stuff up. But we did knock off the wicked witch for you. Good luck with things, and don’t threaten us again or we’ll have to come back.

If we don’t find any serious WMD, isn’t the Pentagon just going to ship in the chem/bio equivalent of the “throw-down” guns bad cops keep around?

Finally, does anybody in the Bush administration have a sense of irony? Why in the world would you have the summit to discuss post-invasion Iraq in freakin’ Belfast?

Posted on Apr 8, 2003 in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Jersey Justice

Reader Ben notes that while Geraldo was in Iraq, some of the troops gave him what Kevin Smith fans know as “the ass hand”:

Staley went on to say, “A handful of troops here wanted pictures with G and autographs. A few shook his hand. Others here wanted to harm him, were disgusted with him, thought he should have been sent home in a Humvee (a 40-hour drive south through the desert).

“We later found out a few who shook his hand had put those hands in unmentionable places prior. Army justice?”

Ten to one those guys were from Jersey.

Posted on Apr 8, 2003 in Uncategorized | 1 Comment