Friday, July 23, 2004

Bush Sees the Light
First-name jokes are funny, after all

Bush today:

You know, Marc, you're right.
And yes, I know, I'm using the sort of dumb joke for which I just mocked Bush. But come on, the flip-flop is this summer's Macarena. (Also: Bush used his "fill the pothole" sidesplitter again today. Oh, the hilarity!)

- Marc
Pitchfork Reviews John Mayer
Fourth horseman of apocalypse sighted

Holy shiat. The comic book store guys have reviewed the mainstream artist every indie music fan loves to hate. Yes, today Pitchfork tackles John Mayer's cover of Radiohead's "Kid A."

I've always thought Mayer was far better than hipsters give him credit for. Besides, it's the job of the music critic to see past marketing and hit singles, right? (Cough, "Your Body Is a Wonderland," cough.)

All told, Pitchfork's review is remarkably positive. But it does reveal how little Pitchfork and its readers really know about the musicians they automatically loathe. In some otherwise-sparkling prose, J.C. implies it's shocking Mayer would even cover a Pitchfork-approved band like Radiohead. He also finds irony in a major pop star performing a song with "pied-piper" themes.

Here's the rub: Mayer has been performing "Kid A" since January 2001, if not earlier. His Sony debut, Room for Squares, didn't come out until September of that year.

So if it's surprising to Pitchfork that Mayer would cover Radiohead, it's just because they've been covering their ears for three years. It wouldn't be the first time.

One final cavil: I'd argue that recording a solo acoustic guitar version of any song from Kid A, let alone one that doesn't even have a guitar part, is taking a pretty big musical risk.

Update: I may have inferred too much from this review. J.C. says the mistake is his alone, not Pitchfork's; other writers (and readers) were "head-snapping" in their haste to point out what I explained above. I rag on Pitchfork enough, so I'll give credit where credit is due: It's a well-done review, and I'm impressed Pitchfork actually would know about an artist who is anathema to their tastes. I guess even Comic Book Store Guys need a little soft rock now and then.

- Marc

Thursday, July 22, 2004

George W. Bush, Comedian
Still searching for WMD, punchline

Today Bush quipped to Mayor George Van Dusen of Skokie, Ill.:

Great first name. (Laughter.) Fill the potholes. (Laughter and applause.)
We've written before that although the media continually remind us how "likeable" or "funny" Bush is, the President actually has all the comedic skill of a dead moth.

Pointing out that someone has the same first name he does, or that a mayor should "fill the potholes," is about as funny as Bush gets.

So he uses the same jokes over and over again. His potholes crowd-pleaser appears 28 times on the White House website alone.

On the other hand, this appears to be the first time Bush has so cleverly seen humor in the fact someone else has his incredibly common first name. We'd like to take a moment to salute Bush for stumbling upon some brilliant new material. May we suggest a punchline involving "John Jacob Jingleheimer Smith"?

- Marc
Remember When Anthrax Wasn’t Just a Band?
Four spore and three years ago, a new nation

Ottilie Lundgren. Kathy T. Nguyen. Joseph P. Curseen, Thomas L. Morris Jr. and Robert Stevens.

Panic in the mailrooms of D.C., New York, Florida.

WaPo’s Richard Cohen remembers.

- Marc

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Here's the Thing About Always
Flippy to da flip flip-flop, ya don't stop

Today Bush made an interesting statement about his stance on the 9/11 commission.

As part of a long-winded non-answer, Bush says:

I've always said this is an important commission.
All due respect, sir, but no, you haven't.

It's not the first time he's praised something he once opposed, but it might be his first outright lie on this subject. (Even so-called liberals such as the NYT's Nicholas Kristof have written that Bush "avoids the most blatant lies.")

See here for Bush's remarks on the matter back in 2002. And here, from 2003, when he says Iraq is more important than an independent commission, but goes to Clintonian lengths to avoid explicitly saying he opposes such a commission. And a statement of policy calling the now-"important" commission "duplicative." Pour a stiff drink and enjoy!

- Marc
What Is Sandy Berger's Problem, Anyway?

Isn't it obvious? Speaker Hastert asks the question in a letter:

"What information could be so embarrassing that a man with decades of experience in handling classified documents would risk being caught pilfering our nation's most sensitive secrets? Did these documents detail simple negligence, or did they contain something more sinister?" Hastert said in a statement.

What could be more sinister than Sandy Berger's long running battle with pica?

Czar Wars
The search for intelligence life

Writing for the Prospect, Matthew Yglesias endorses the idea of a new cabinet-level position overseeing all of American intelligence.

Kevin Drum takes a contrary and, I think, wiser position. Among his points:

Having competing sources of information can be a considerable benefit to a president who knows how to make use of this, and I'm not sure we should rearchitect the intelligence community just because George Bush doesn't seem to be such a president. Electing a better president seems the better option.
I'm no expert, and neither are these guys. But Drum's arguments sound better to me. Why make a little bureaucratic change that may or may not have the intended effect, when the problem may well lie where the buck theoretically stops?

- Marc

Monday, July 19, 2004

David Brooks Is an Empty Sophist
Just a friendly reminder in case you'd forgotten

Somehow I missed this Brooksy column the other day. But no matter, because now that I read it I know exactly which presidential candidate he's talking about:

This campaign's version of middle-class values is like the Cracker Barrel restaurant version of a small town: a manufactured replica of a wholesome, down-home America that never existed. A realistic portrait of middle-class values would include tattoos, carb-counting and the purchase of voluminous amounts of lottery tickets by people who dream of escaping from the middle class.
He's talking about the candidate who bought a ranch in Crawford, Texas, just in time to run for president, right? The guy who has never had a real job in his life who always plays the populist? The one who fakes a Texas accent that no one else in his family possesses?

Of course, you'd be wrong. Because this is Brooksy. And if your name is David Brooks, then you know that John Kerry is an Evil Hypocrite, whilst George W. Bush is a friendly man of the people, brought to us by God Almighty to deliver us from the evils of Partisanship and Elitists so we can all live together at Wal-Mart.

But wait! After paragraphs and paragraphs on the Sins of the Kerry, Brooksy tosses a half-hearted diss Dear Leader's way: "Both John Forbes Kerry and George Walker Bush — who, let's face it, ain't exactly John-Boy Walton — are going to compete furiously over the next three months to see who is the most spiritually middle class."

Didja see that? He talked bad about Bush, too! He's OBVIOUSLY objective. (Regular Whopundit readers will recognize this perennial Brooks trick.) No matter that the Bush comment came only as an aside in a column otherwise attacking Kerry.

Huzzah, Brooksy! I still await our rap battle -- if you don't break your back first playing limbo with the truth.

- Marc

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Evil Paragraph of the Day
It's still a "recovery" even if only 20% "recover"

I can't believe any rational person would write this paragraph, but the New York Times' Eduardo Porter sure did:

On its own, the decline in workers' wages is unlikely to derail the recovery. Though they account for some 80 percent of the work force, they contribute much less to spending. Mark M. Zandi, chief economist at, a research firm, noted that households in the bottom half of income distribution account for only one-third of consumer spending.
The article notes that workers' real wages are going down. Then it makes the obvious point that, yes, the poor spend less money than the people who actually have money to spend. An economist piles on by pointing out exactly how poor much of the workforce is.

But this widespread decline in income is "unlikely to derail the recovery" -- for whom? For 80 percent of the workforce that faces decreasing wages? Or for Porter, Zandi and their cohort?

Bushies think liberals hate America. But their policies show an utter lack of regard for 80 percent of Americans. And even the "liberal" New York Times doesn't give a flying fuck.

This is why I get frustrated enough with the state of the world to pour my thoughts on out a stupid little blog.

Update: More from Kevin Drum and Angry Bear.

- Marc

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