Monday, December 22, 2008

From Worst To First: The 2009 Detroit Lions

Lions #1 Fan
Whatever Happened To Lion Pride?

Next Sunday, the Jets and Dolphins will face off in a battle that will determine the winner of the AFC East. Which is quite stunning considering how bad the Dolphins were a year ago. In a column by sportswriter Michael Silver a couple of weeks ago:

Exactly a year ago the Dolphins were playing to avoid the ultimate embarrassment. At 0-13, they were staring at the most wretched regular season in NFL history, and only an overtime triumph against the Baltimore Ravens (after Matt Stover missed a potential game-winning field goal) kept them from becoming the league’s first 0-16 team.

Put it this way: Can you imagine the words “first-place Detroit Lions” being uttered a year from now?
Silver's question is rhetorical, of course. The currently 0-13 Detroit Lions have absolutely no shot at being first place next season.

Or do they??

After all, most people said that about the 2008 Miami Dolphins. And before that, the 1998 St. Louis Rams. They did pretty well for themselves.

The Detroit Lions are my friend Chris's favorite team. In his defense, he was in the developmental years of his football-watching days during the high times of Barry Sanders, Johnny Morton and Scott Mitchell (er... maybe not Mitchell), so the Lions back then had some appeal. But during the maniacal, tragic and bizarre reign of GM Matt Millen, the Lions have become like the Ford Motor company that owns them--poorly managed and putting out a poorly designed product nobody wants, desperately in need of a bailout.

But everyone knows the Lions' problems. The question is: how can they go from sinking ship to championship?

Bright Spots:

Calvin Johnson. The receiver known as "Megatron," has 69 catches for 1229 yards (17.8 avg) and 10 TDs this year... nearly 45% of the Lions passing offense. He did it despite clearly being the team's only receiving threat after the trade of Roy Williams to the Cowboys. Despite being on a losing team, he hasn't been a complainer, unlike the other C. Johnson, Ocho Cinco.

Kevin Smith. Not the guy who brought you Mallrats and Dogma, the Lions' rookie running back has rushed for 884 yards (averaging 4.2 per carry) and scored 7 TDs. He's also caught 36 passes for 279 yards. Being that the Lions are constantly behind and as a result, don't run a lot, that's impressive.

The Lions are projected to be be anywhere from 20 to 40 million or so below the salary cap next year (depending on what that cap ends up being), meaning they have money to spend on talent.

Also, due to the Roy Williams trade, they have an extra first round pick in the draft. They'll have the number 1 pick, probably the 23rd pick, and then the 1st pick in the 2nd round.

The moves:

Coach: Sign Josh McDaniels. The Patriots offensive coordinator will be in high demand in 2009. To lure him to Detroit will be a massive undertaking. Most likely, the Lions will have to grant McDaniels an obscene contract, a house in Grosse Pointe, and, most importantly, GM control. It's worth it to land the guy responsible for New England's explosive offense.

QB: Sign Matt Cassel. To paint this guy as a one-year wonder is to ignore what we've witnessed with our own eyes. A strong arm, nice mobility, above-average decision making, a guy who threw for 345 yards and 3 TDs in a blinding snowstorm. There's no room for him in New England once Tom Brady returns. Getting Cassel also means the pressure is off to get a signal caller in the draft (Joey Harrington anyone?). Cassel will want a big contract to start somewhere, and the Lions can give it to him. 65 million over 6 years should do the trick. (Lions 2009 Cap Hit: ~10 million)

(Of course, especially if they lose McDaniels, the Patriots won't make it easy for the Lions. They may put the franchise tag on Cassel, meaning the Lions would have to trade for him. New England would probably demand at least a 2nd round pick... which the Lions should be willing to give up.)

Game Changer: Sign Darren Sproles. Buried behind LaDainian Tomlinson and Michael Turner for all of his short career, the Kansas State product has wowed in brief, speedy flashes as a kick returner and change-of-pace back. The Chargers don't value him nearly enough, thinking him too undersized for more carries. You know who else was undersized? Barry Sanders.

Is Sproles the next Barry Sanders? Signs would point to... no. But he is a back that can light up a football field whenever he's on it. That's something the Lions need. (Lions 2009 Cap hit: ~2.5 million)

TE: Sign Desmond Clark. A decent blocker and underrated receiver, he's a short-range threat and outlet for a lions QB that will undoubtedly come under pressure. He may come cheap. (Lions 2009 Cap hit: ~2.5 Million)

CB: Sign Nnamdi Asomugha. This guy will command a large contract, as one of the best corners in the league. A guy that can be left on an island to guard a team's best receiver, he can singlehandedly turn around the Lions' 22nd-ranked pass defense. (Lions 2009 Cap Hit: ~14 million)

By my rough calculations, these signings would leave the Lions with 11 million or so for the draft (assuming they had 40 million in cap to work with).

1 (1): Andre Smith, OT Alabama. Orlando Pace-style protection for Matt Cassel.

1 (23): Duke Robinson, OG, Oklahoma. Lions will catch hell for two O-line first rounders as media conveniently forgets that the O-line is the strength of championship teams.

2 (33): Alfonso Smith, CB, Wake Forest. Playmaker solidifies secondary with Nmandi.

3 (65): Marcus Freeman, OLB, Ohio State. Overshadowed by Laurinitis at OSU, he'll be a star for the Lions.

3 (85): Louis Delmas, FS, Western Michigan. Keep shoring up that secondary.

5 (129): Chase Daniel, QB, Missouri. Just in case Cassel doesn't work out. Mobile and played well for a winner.

6 (161): Nader Abdallah, DT, Ohio State. Big, athletic tackle from a winning program.

6 (182): Willie VanDeSteeg, DE, Minnesota. Off-the-field issues make this first-class pass rusher drop into the Lions lap.

7 (193): Casey Fitzgerald, WR, North Texas. Wes Welker Wes Welker Wes Welker.

So what does the Adam's Life 2009 Detroit Lions season look like?

Josh McDaniels installs his system for the Lions, with Cassel leading the way behind a young but studly offensive line. Johnson fulfills the Randy Moss role, Shaun McDonald or Casey Fitzgerald filling the Welker role. Defensively, the Lions pass D improves by leaps and bounds, although the Rush D still leaves something to be desired. But the Lions score so many points, teams are forced to throw into the arms of Asomugha, Smith and Delmas.

If all goes according to the Adam's Life plan:

Projected Record: 10-6, 1st in the NFC North.

You heard it here first folks. Worst to first.

Lions fans, Mel Kiper, your thoughts?? Leave a comment below.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Friday Food Holiday Gift Guide

They say the quickest way to someone's heart is through their stomach (though as my doctor friends point out, it's quicker to make an incision in the breastplate.) In NYC, you can step it up a notch above a box of Godivas fairly easily and cheaply.

Just visit these places below:

The Store: Fat Witch Bakery, 75 9th Ave. (Chelsea Market)

What You'll Find:
Fat Witch Brownies
Holiday Cauldron Special, $18.99. One luscious, gooey, mmm Fat Witch brownie is $2.75... this collection has 7 Fat Witch Baby Brownies, 3 Blonde Babies and 3 Walnut Babies.

Also look for: For do-it-yourselfers, Fat Witch's Original Brownie Mix.

The Store: La Maison Du Chocolat, 30 Rockefeller Center.

What You'll Find:
Chocolate Macaroon, $2.50 ea. This isn't one of those dry, coconutty lumps for Passover... this is the best cookie they'll ever have in their life. Gift boxes with a variety of flavors are available.

Also look for: Chocolate Covered Fruit, Tasse De Chocolat-- dark chocolate beads, and, if you're in the store, a overdose-inducing cup of Hot Chocolate.

The Store: Butter Lane, 123 E. 7th St.
What You'll Find:
Chocolate Cupcake with French Vanilla Buttercream Icing,$2.50. There's no way you'll want to wait in line at Magnolia, so try these cupcakes on for size.

Also look for: A much-raved-about Banana Cream Cheese cupcake (which I was unfortunately not able to sample), a variety of French buttercream and American buttercream (the staff will explain the difference) cupcakes.

The Store: Build A Green Bakery, 223 First Ave.

What You'll Find:
Big Box of Little Cookies, $15.00. Size doesn't matter... with these cookies. Always fresh, they pack some big taste.

Also look for:New York Chocolate Cheesecake and Peanut Butter Chocolate Cheesecake, out this month, and their tasty Blueberry Corn Muffins.

The Store: Dylan's Candy Bar, 1011 Third Ave.

What You'll Find:
Dylan's Scarf
Dylan's Candy Bar Striped Scarf, $42.00. I was gonna feature some candy here, then I saw this scarf with pockets. A scarf with pockets! I thought of that first.

Also look for: Candy. All kinds. Everything from a Pez Elvis Gift Set to Chocolate Covered Peanuts in a Paint Can. Yes, a Paint Can. Paint not included.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

New MSN Article: Grandparent Gadgets

Gadgets For Grandparents

You won't find walkers or an old bowl of Werther's Originals on this list. Only hip and helpful tech gifts for the hip-replacement set.
New York City Holiday Gift Guide: Sports and Dorks

Just a handful of places today, where you can find gifts for your sports fan or, er... anti-sports fan. Let's go NYU Bobcats!! Yes... its Bobcats. Not Violets. I swear.

The Store: Steve & Barry's, 100 W. 33rd St. (Manhattan Mall)

What You'll Find:
NYU Shirt
Long-Sleeve College T-Shirt, $4.00. Help your friend or relative feel like a college kid again.

Also look for: Steve and Barry's is going out of business, and the phrase "picked over" doesn't begin to describe the remaining items from their closing sale. But if you get there this week, there's still plenty of Steve & Barry's fleeces, Laird Hamilton's "Wonderwall" surf-clothing collection, University of Michigan Varsity-Style Jackets, and ridiculously cheap earrings and other accessories.

The Store: Yankees Clubhouse Store, 393 Fifth Ave.

What You'll Find:
Yankees Connect Four
New York Yankees vs Boston Red Sox Connect Four MLB Game, $19.99. The only bad part about this gift? Someone ends up having to play as the Red Sox.

Also look for: Yankees Jerseys and Caps, a Yankees Mr. Potato Head doll.

The Store: Paragon Sports, 867 Broadway

What You'll Find:
Swim MP3 Player
Finis SwiMP3 V2 Player, $111.96. For the swimmer who found out the hard way that iPods don't work underwater.

Also look for: Every sporting good under the sun, Custom Pocket Knives, and some great lawn games, like the Franklin Sports Spongebob All Sport Set, which includes a pop up goal and soccer ball.

The Store: Jewish Book Center of The Workman's Circle, 45 E. 33rd St.

What You'll Find:
Mensch T-Shirt, $13.00. For the mensch who has everything, except a T-Shirt printed with the definition of what a Mensch is.

Also look for: Musical Dreidels, books on Kabbalah, or Jewish Mysticism, and for aspiring Jewish Jocks, the Shvitz! My Yiddishe Workout DVD.

The Store: Bauman Rare Books, 535 Madison Ave.

What You'll Find:
Book of Facts
Issac Asimov's Book Of Facts, Signed By The Author, $150. The king of sci-fi for your sci-fi fan. As long as he doesn't mind that Asimov wrote in it.

Also look for:A framed collection of Beatles' Autographs, rare first editions of books and manuscripts.

More gift guide to come. See the whole gift guide, here.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A Heist Movie

This January, coming to a theater near you...

Jeremy Irons...

"Fort Knox? Compared to this, Fort Knox is a piggy bank."

Jean Claude Van Damme...

"We need to stoup dem, beefer its too laight!"

Based on the true story of the greatest robbery ever pulled...

They told Congress they would save the country. But in the end, they only saved themselves.

"700 billion, ours for the taking."

"Surely they'll catch us."

"Catch us? Ha. They'll help us!"

Directed by Tony Scott.

Congress gave 700 billion to financial firms without much debate. Yet 14 billion for the auto industry, is being scrutinized endlessly. Hmm... when Republicans in suits have finincial difficulties, there's no debate. But when Democrats wearing hardhats are in trouble... there's got to be some "serious changes."

"But wait, Adam," you say. "That 700 billion came with restrictions too." Really? You mean that limit on executive pay?

"Yes," you say.


WASHINGTON POST- Congress wanted to guarantee that the $700 billion financial bailout would limit the eye-popping pay of Wall Street executives, so lawmakers included a mechanism for reviewing executive compensation and penalizing firms that break the rules.

But at the last minute, the Bush administration insisted on a one-sentence change to the provision, congressional aides said. The change stipulated that the penalty would apply only to firms that received bailout funds by selling troubled assets to the government in an auction, which was the way the Treasury Department had said it planned to use the money.

Now, however, the small change looks more like a giant loophole, according to lawmakers and legal experts. In a reversal, the Bush administration has not used auctions for any of the $335 billion committed so far from the rescue package, nor does it plan to use them in the future. Lawmakers and legal experts say the change has effectively repealed the only enforcement mechanism in the law dealing with lavish pay for top executives.

"The flimsy executive-compensation restrictions in the original bill are now all but gone," said Sen. Charles E. Grassley (Iowa), ranking Republican on of the Senate Finance Committee.
The truth is, Congress is hemmoraging money left and right, and all this talk about restrictions and oversight is grandstanding and outright lies. The Dems may have a slim majority in congress, but they're as gutless as ever, and as long as Bush is still in the White House, he will continue to undermine any attempts to put regulations on his big business cronies.

Executives at companies like AIG are laughing all the way to the bank.

American International Group Inc., the insurer whose bonuses and perks are under fire from U.S. lawmakers, offered cash awards to another 38 executives in a retention program with payments of as much as $4 million.

The incentives range from $92,500 to $4 million for employees earning salaries between $160,000 and $1 million, Chief Executive Officer Edward Liddy said in a letter dated Dec. 5 to Representative Elijah Cummings. The New York-based insurer had previously disclosed that 130 managers would get the awards and that one executive would get $3 million.

“I remain concerned, as do many American taxpayers, that these retention payments are simply bonuses by another name,” Cummings said in letter responding to Liddy.

AIG, which received a U.S. rescue package of more than $152 billion, has been criticized for saying it will eliminate bonuses for senior executives while still planning to hand out “cash awards” that double or triple the salaries of some managers.
They claim the bonuses... er... "cash awards" are necessary to retain top excutives-- to prevent them from joining other companies.

Um... why would anyone hire a failed executive? In this crappy economy? There's no demand for them!!!

Basically, it looks like much of the 700 billion will go towards making sure the financial futures of wealthy individuals are secure. The rest will probably be donated to various senators' re-election campaigns.

I wouldn't be surprised if Congress doesn't approve 14 billion for the auto industry. The mass unemployment and general destruction of the American economy will make sure that the public is too distracted to notice AIG executives cruising by on their brand-new yachts.

Obama can't come soon enough. But even he may be powerless to stop the greatest robbery ever committed in the United States.
New York City Wacky Japanese Gift Guide

The gift guide continues...

Those Japanese are really ahead of the curve. I mean, first, Nintendo. Then sushi. Then Tamagachi. Then Alyssa Milano and Jennifer Love Hewitt as major pop stars. Well, okay, maybe they don't know music. But they good know what looks good and is fun to play with. Us Americans struggle to keep up. Unless you shop at these stores below, beacons of Japanese brilliance shining through the concrete caverns of New York City:

The Store: AC Gears, 69 E. 8th St.

What You'll Find:
Air Guitar
Takaratomy Air Guitar Pro Acoustic, $55.99. Air guitarists everywhere now have an alternative to Guitar Hero and Rock Band.

Also look for: Cool gadgets like the Dreams DJ Speaker, a keychain-sized device that allows you to DJ-scratch along with your iPod, cool accessories like Angel and Devil Earphones, and the most fun alarm clock you'll ever see, the Bandai Gun Oclock Alarm Clock:

Gun Clock

The Store: Kid Robot, 118 Prince St.

What You'll Find:
Yummy Breakfast
Yummy Breakfast Keychain, $4.95 ea. Who doesn't want a smiling short-stack of pancakes holding their keys together?

Also look for: Vinyl and metal figurines ranging from the dark and subversive (Cannibal FunFair Figurines) to the adorable and deplorable (cigarette-addicted Smorkin` Labbits).

The Store: Giant Robot, 437 E. 9th St.

What You'll Find:
Lie Detector
Lie Detector Toy, $21.00. Now you can tell if they really like their gift.

Also look for: Unique stocking stuffers like the furry monster-shaped Domokun Small Coin Purse, Super Mario Brothers keychains. Also, er, the I'm-not-convinced-it's-innocent Elite Banana Massager, shaped like the fruit.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Tuesday Toy Store Gift Guide

I love toys. So do you. Everyone loves 'em. And in New York City, you're not limited to KB Toys at the mall or Toys R' Us. You can find some toys here that you can't find in many places. Not even at the North pole.

The Store: Dinosaur Hill, 306 E. 9th St.

What You'll Find:
Wild Thing
"Where The Wild Things Are" Puppets, $27.50. This is one seriously cute monster.

Also look for: Handcrafted, old-fashioned wooden toys, kid's instruments like a miniature Calypso Steel Drum, and the adorable shaggy Razzy, the owner's schnoodle (not for sale).

The Store: Kidding Around, 60 W. 15th St.

What You'll Find:
Pottery Wheel
Pottery Wheel, $50.00. Because how else can your kid re-create the scene from Ghost?

Also look for: Shrinky Dinks, Creativity For Kids arts & crafts sets, the kid-ridable Yellow Jacket Plane.

The Store: Alphabets, 115 Ave. A

What You'll Find:
MyTunes MP3 Amp
MyTunes MP3 Amp, $40.00. Crank up your Coldplay/Joe Santorini collection way past 11.

Also look for: Gag gifts, funky t-shirts, Ugly Dolls, Slinky Dogs, wallets and watches, like the Android “Radar” Watch.

The Store: Boomerang Toys‎, 173 W Broadway

What You'll Find:
Elite Flyer
Elite Fleet Battery Powered Backyard Flyer Airplane, $18.00. For those not old enough to fly a real airplane.

Also look for: Classic brand name toys like a Thomas the Train Engine Wooden Train Set, animal puppets by Folkmani, and activity sets like Marvin's Magic Box Of Tricks.

The Store: FAO Schwarz, 767 5th Ave.

What You'll Find:
Make Your Own Muppet, $130. Amateur Jim Hensons, now's your chance to create the new Kermit.

Also look for: The home version of the Piano Dance Mat featured in the Tom Hanks movie, "Big," plus basically every toy you can imagine.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Monday Museum Gift Guide

There are lots of museums in New York, all with their own gift shop. And those are great places to find unique gifts not found anywhere else. Below are five that I've been to. There's a lot more where this came from, so get out this week and help the NYC economy by shopping until dropping.

The Store: MOMA Design Store, 81 Spring St.

What You'll Find:
Lumen Oil Lamp
Lumen Oil Lamp, $50.00. Start a forest fire, without all the damage!

Also look for: Muji products, like the Muji Jewelry Box With Mirror, and funky watches, like the Matthew Waldman-designed Zub 20 Zot Watch.

The Store: American Folk Art Museum Gift Shop, 45 W. 53rd St.

What You'll Find:
Board Piano
Handcrafted Board Piano, $38.00. Made in Pennsylvania, adapted from an ancient African folk instrument, its a finger-pickin' good time.

Also look for: A Cat Face Pillow, handsewn by Indian artisans, and an folk-artist-designed Compass Necklace.

The Store: Ukranian Museum Gift Shop, 222 E. 6th St

What You'll Find:
Ring Box
Inlaid Ring Box, $27.00. Because your mail-order Ukranian bride will need something to put her other husband's wedding ring in.

Also look for: Гаррі Поттер - повна серія книжок, which translates roughly to, a collection of 7 Harry Potter books, in the "original" Ukranian. Also Ukranian Dolls and Teddy Bears.

The Store: American Museum Of Natural History, Central Park West at 79th St.

What You'll Find:

Space Navigator
Space Navigator, $75.00. Give them the sun, the moon, the planets and the stars with this electronic guide to the night sky.

Also look for: The gravity defying Cosmic Rocket, a Paint-Your-Own_Butterfly art kit, and the Chemc500 Chemistry set.

The Store: De La Vega, 102 St. Marks Pl.

What You'll Find:
De La Vega
Become Your Dream T-Shirt, $35.00. James De La Vega's St. Marks street shop isn't a museum, per se, but he's got plenty of graffiti-style, counter-culture art to buy.

Also look for: Prints, stickers and T-shirts from De La Vega's "Mother Series," in which he depicts his mother as Castro, John Lennon, and other figures.

Stay tuned, the city gift finder continues...

Friday, December 05, 2008

The New York City Gift Guide

Christmukah in NYC

Holiday time is here again, and whether you celebrate Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanza or Festivus, you're probably looking to buy a few gifts (or, in the case of Festivus, preparing for The Airing of Grievances). There's no better place to do that than New York City, home to funky, fresh and fabulous gifts you can't find anyplace else.

I've been to a plethora of present purveyors during my time in the city, and I went to some of the best (i.e. most conveniently located to my home, business, and friends' apartments) to uncover some good ideas for your family and friends this shopping season.

We'll cover five stores today, with more to follow all next week!

Browsing these stores is highly reccommended, even though most have websites. They're all colorful, fun and unique. You never know what you'll find. Remember, if you do your holiday shopping right, those Christmas carols will sound a little merrier, those Chanukah candles will seem to burn brighter, that Kwanza basket will appear to overflow with abundance, and that cold aluminum pole just may feel a little less cold.

The Store: Exit 9, 64 Ave. A

What You'll Find:
Make Your Own Ukelele
My Ukelele, $49.00. Make beautiful music.

Also look for: Gag gifts, like a spongy Shower Mic, and interesting gadgets like a Solar Radio.

The Store: Daily 235, 235 Elizabeth St.

What You'll Find:
Rody, $65. A rocking horse for the new millenium.

Also look for: Gag gifts like the "Control A Man" Remote and "Convert To Judaism" Breath Spray, cute items like Animal Clocks.

The Store: VIDEOGAMES NEW YORK, 202 E. 6th St.

What You'll Find:
Nintendo DSi
Nintendo DSi, $299.99. Unreleased in the U.S., this Japanese import is gamer nirvana.

Also look for: Old-school classic gaming systems like the Nintendo Game & Watch.

The Store: Tiny Living, 125 E. 7th St.

What You'll Find:
The Ultimate Office Tool
10x Office Tool, $21.95. Stapler, hole punch, and 8 more office necessities in one tiny package.

Also look for: Accessories for a small apartment, like the Fireplace Candle and Folding Wine Rack.

The Store: Sam Flax, 12 W. 20th St.

What You'll Find:
Wind-Up Cars
Kikkerland Windup Zecar, $14.95. Wind-up fun.

Also look for: Desk games like the Ruda Metal Football Game Desk Set and arts & crafts gifts like the Melissa & Doug Table Top Easel.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Christmukah Fun In NYC


I need to go to this:

NBC- F. A. O. Schwarz has a make-your-own Muppet station called The Muppet Whatnot Workshop! The store provides a slew of wigs, eyes, noses, outfits, and body types to choose from, which combined allows for 72,576 different variations of Muppets.
The Make-Your-Own Muppets cost $130 each, but Kermit makes a pretty good argument for buying one, now: Kermit & Ms. Piggy

The puppets are the real deal-- the same materials and quality that they use for the various Muppets shows.

You'll be able to design your own Muppet online starting in February, but if you're in New York City, why wait? Or rather, why not wait... on line at F.A.O., that is, for about two hours or so.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Did Greta Van Susteren Kill Natalee Holloway?

Joran Van Der Sloot
Exclusive: Fox News Buries Evidence For Dramatic Effect!

It's a common cliche in movies: The big media reporter cares more about ratings than anything else, so he or she breaks all codes of moral behavior to break a big story.

Apparently, Greta Van Susteren is a case of life imitating art.

She recently aired a segment on Fox News about Joran Van Der Sloot, the boy accused of murdering Natalee Holloway. Pumping up her audience beforehand with promises of "shocking new revelations," Greta didn't disappoint: she not only had an interview with Joran saying he sold Natalee into slavery, but had an audiotape of him and his father discussing the dastardly deed.

Such a revelation would clearly open Joran, and his father up to prosecution. But despite receiving the tape in July, Greta Van Susteren waited until late November to air the story-- and as of yet, has not turned over the tape, or a copy of the tape, to any law enforcement agency, here or abroad.

In human trafficking, time is of the essence. The longer someone is gone, the greater likelihood that they'll get killed. For Greta to hold back potential evidence for months--evidence that could have led to the discovery of a human trafficking ring or at least developed promising leads--is inexcusable. How is what she did any different than a criminal who hides evidence of their own crime? In fact, it's worse-- she's hidden up until now in order to get ratings!!!

Read the transcript below, in which Greta tries to take the moral high ground over Johan's former lawyer... and gets absolutely schooled:

VAN SUSTEREN: Coming up: You heard Joran van der Sloot in an interview done in Thailand say he sold Natalee, but eight hours later, before we had even gotten out of Thailand, an e-mail flashed across my BlackBerry. Joran said he lied to us. Did Joran lie to us? And if so, when? When he said he sold Natalee or eight hours later, when he said it was not true? Joran's lawyer, Joe Tacopina, joins us next.

Plus, you will hear an audio recording. Joran says it is a conversation between his father and him. And two of the words mentioned on the recording that you need to pay close attention to are human trafficking. You have to hear this.


VAN SUSTEREN: Joran van der Sloot says he told his father Paulus that he sold Natalee Holloway to a man in Aruba. Joran says he recorded conversations between his father an him that refer to this sale and could possibly corroborate what he told us on tape.

In a moment you will hear one of those recordings that Joran says took place early in 2008. Now, we have repeatedly reached out to Joran's van der Sloot's father Paulus, but he has refused to respond.

We cannot verify whether if the voices on the tape are Joran and his father. The prosecutor in Aruba could do this with his subpoena power. And note, Joran says this is his father on the recording.

We had two different experts analyze if the recording was altered. One expert is confident it is not altered, while the other expert has concerns that the recording may have been modified. Here it is.


J. VAN DER SLOOT: Hi, dad, how are you?

P. VAN DER SLOOT: I'm all right, you?

J. VAN DER SLOOT: I'm sort of fed up. I can't stand it any longer.

P. VAN DER SLOOT: Joran, hang in there a bit longer. You must keep tough.

J. VAN DER SLOOT: I just want it to be over. I don't care what will happen to me.

P. VAN DER SLOOT: I understand, but too much has happened. You have to be strong.

J. VAN DER SLOOT: I do my best, but I really don't know. I feel rotten.

P. VAN DER SLOOT: Joran, you have no choice.

J. VAN DER SLOOT: Yes, I can come forward and end this.

P. VAN DER SLOOT: Yeah, not a good idea, I think. You have to think about us too.

J. VAN DER SLOOT: Yes, I will do that, but if they find the girl, there is at least proof I didn't hurt anybody.

P. VAN DER SLOOT: But what you have done is pretty bad. Human trafficking is a serious crime.

J. VAN DER SLOOT: I know, but how could I know where all this would lead to?

P. VAN DER SLOOT: Joran, it's a shame you made certain choices, but there has to be a moment it will stop. Okay? You cannot talk with anyone about this, do you understand?


VAN SUSTEREN: Joran van der Sloot's lawyer, Joe Tacopina, joins us live. Joe, am I right, you still do represent Joran?

JOE TACOPINA, ATTORNEY FOR JORAN VAN DER SLOOT: I represent him, Greta, for the purpose of the Aruba investigation, which for all intents and purposes is over.

Quite frankly, when you asked me to come on last week or a few weeks ago, I hadn't seen this tape. Had I seen this first, I probably would have declined your invitation, Greta, because I just - we could do this - and look, obviously you paid him some money to either give him a tape recording or have him give you tapes or to submit to an interview.

VAN SUSTEREN: Stop there. Let me explain something.


VAN SUSTEREN: Just so you get it right. He contacted us. He said he had a tape.


VAN SUSTEREN: I said we couldn't buy it, but we could license it. That's what the media does. You license photos, you license recordings, you license tape.

He gave us the tape. We've had it sent to someone to have it checked out if there were problems with it. I went to Thailand to find out what the story was on the tape to fill in the blanks to corroborate it.

TACOPINA: OK. So whatever I have - I mean, an email from one of your producers, Steph Watts, you know, to Joran, talking about the Western Union transaction. Greta, look --

VAN SUSTEREN: That is how the money is transferred. There's no secret. There's no secret.

TACOPINA: You paid him for a tape that he made and wound up getting an hour interview with him. And so be it, Greta. Great TV, great ratings- -

VAN SUSTEREN: Do you have a problem with that?

TACOPINA: Yes, I do have a problem with it, Greta, because if you offered Joran $10,000 tomorrow and ask him to tell you a fifth story, he would do it.

Clearly, he's a sick kid. Clearly, I have nothing to say in defense of his actions, Greta. OK?

VAN SUSTEREN: Do you deny...?

TACOPINA: But I still tell you, and I stand by the notion that the investigation regarding the disappearance of Natalee Holloway has not led to Joran. That's the bottom line.

No one expects anyone to believe anything this kid has to say anymore. Quite frankly, he's on the verge of sociopath and despicable, but--

VAN SUSTEREN: Explain something to me, Joe.


VAN SUSTEREN: According to the timeline --I'm trying to figure this out, because I really want this investigated. That's why we're bringing this information in.


VAN SUSTEREN: Now stop. There's has been resistance from Aruba. There has been resistance from you, which, of course, that's your job as the lawyer. I understand that and I have an appreciation for a defense lawyer.

TACOPINA: I know you do.

VAN SUSTEREN: But when he comes to us and says look, I have my father on tape saying about the human trafficking, this explains what happened. I'd like to find her alive is what he told us.

Of course, I didn't believe that it was true, that she could possibly be alive. But he said that he sold her.

So I said "What do you have?" And he came to us. We didn't go after him.

TACOPINA: Greta, that's fine. But look at the source. He's told so many different versions.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, but what about his father in - what - how do you justify what his father said on this tape? Is his father also telling us different versions?

TACOPINA: Oh, that tape--

VAN SUSTEREN: Skip Joran. What -- Is the tape made up?

TACOPINA: I spoke to Paulus last night as this was going on. I mean, talk about a guy-- you don't know Paulus. I do. Paulus is a simpleton.

VAN SUSTEREN: Is this tape made up? Is this tape just crazy?

TACOPINA: He absolutely denies ever having that conversation, ever. So yes, I believe that tape's false.

Think about it for a second--


VAN SUSTEREN: So we can do a comparison, so we can check it out? I'm willing to check it out.

TACOPINA: Listen, Greta, Greta, just hold on a second. Think about the logic of this. Joran calls you and tape-recorded an incriminating conversation with his father. Why? For what purpose? So he could sell it to you? I mean, why would he have an incriminating tape recording of himself and his father?

VAN SUSTEREN: All I'm trying to do, Joe, all I want to do, Joe, is try to find out - stop.


TACOPINA: If that's the case, why in July did you have this interview, and why hasn't it not been turned over - why didn't you just send it to the authorities? How about the FBI? Did they get a copy of this?

VAN SUSTEREN: Because if you want to know the practical matter, no sooner than we had it done, we needed to corroborate it to make sure it wasn't lies, because he named a lot of people. In fact, if you notice, we bleeped out some names as we're trying to investigate.

Then we went into what you may have noticed was a presidential election. So we've been busy doing that.

TACOPINA: Oh, but you don't have to do this investigation, Greta. Give the tape to the FBI. They're not involved in the presidential election.

VAN SUSTEREN: The FBI has no jurisdiction, for god's sakes. You know that.

TACOPINA: Oh, they can't investigate? You know they investigated this case!

VAN SUSTEREN: Joe, let me find out one thing--if this is a made-up tape, give me a voice sampling from Paulus van der Sloot so that I can do a voice comparison analysis. There is a forensic way to do that. Get that for me, and if this turns out to be a lie, I'll say this tape is a lie.

TACOPINA: FOX News does not - as much as I respect you and this network, FOX News is not the end-all, be-all for investigative services. There is a law enforcement agency involved. So you don't just say, give you the power of attorney. Or give you a voice sample.

VAN SUSTEREN: If you're saying this tape is a fraud, I'm willing to investigate it, and I'm willing to say if it is a fraud, I'll say on the air we did this analysis of Paulus Van Der Sloot's voice to the tape, and it's wrong. I'm willing to do that. But if you come on and tell me it's not true, at least give me the ability to prove or disprove it.

TACOPINA: Let me just say this, let me say this -- I'm not saying it's true or not. I'm telling you what Paulus said. I wasn't there. I wasn't a witness to any of this.

VAN SUSTEREN: Call Paulus up right now and we'll go into the green room and say, Paulus, give them a voice sample, if this is a fraud.

TACOPINA: Greta, why was this tape not sent to the authorities, then? Why hold it until like November if you did this in July if you really think - because you said on the interview last night, you said to Joran when you were trying to get him to speak, you said what if she's still alive, Joran? I still think there is a chance Natalee could still be alive. Time is of the essence. Why? Because of the elections?

VAN SUSTEREN: Joe, because you know what, unlike you and the others, I've been spending my weekends actually working on this case. Do not criticize me for not working it. It's 2008.

TACOPINA: Don't be defensive, please, Greta. I'm not criticizing you for working. But send the tape to an authority. Send the tape to an authority. That's all I'm saying. I'm not saying you're not working on it.

VAN SUSTEREN: If they're willing to use their police powers, subpoena power to subpoena a voice exemplar from Joran van der Sloot, and our FBI doesn't have the authority, but the Aruban prosecutor does, he's got it. He can have it.

TACOPINA: So you have conditions on giving over possibly incriminating evidence?


TACOPINA: You have the tape, send them the tape right now.

VAN SUSTEREN: Do something, not sit on it. Not to just sit on it.

TACOPINA: I have no control over that, Greta. You know that. Ok? You know I have no control over it.

VAN SUSTEREN: You do have control over getting a voice sample from your client. Get it and you and I can both go to the forensic expert together. I'll go with you.

TACOPINA: Greta, I know for a fact, because you said it many times, "That doesn't make sense, Joran." That doesn't make sense. You don't believe a word he was saying on that interview last night, do you?

VAN SUSTEREN: You're dodging. You're dodging. Get me the voice sample.


TACOPINA: Listen, it's not my voice, OK!

VAN SUSTEREN: Get me the voice sample and you ... Joe, I got to go.

TACOPINA: Greta, send the tape to the investigators and I'll give you a voice sample. How about that?
You heard it from Greta first. The election was such a big deal that she couldn't be bothered to send police evidence of a crime.

That's a new one.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Arrrrh, Matey

Jack Sparrow Had Nothing On These Somali Buccaneers

The AP has an interesting story about pirates in Somalia. Unlike the pirates of old, these guys don't bury their treasure and suffer mysterious curses. Instead, well, they buy Land Rovers:
Somalia's increasingly brazen pirates are building sprawling stone houses, cruising in luxury cars, marrying beautiful women -- even hiring caterers to prepare Western-style food for their hostages...

...towns that once were eroded by years of poverty and chaos are now bustling with restaurants, Land Cruisers and Internet cafes. Residents also use their gains to buy generators -- allowing full days of electricity, once an unimaginable luxury in Somalia.

There are no reliable estimates of the number of pirates operating in Somalia, but they must number in the thousands. And though the bandits do sometimes get nabbed, piracy is generally considered a sure bet to a better life...

The attackers generally treat their hostages well in anticipation of a big payday, hiring caterers on shore to cook spaghetti, grilled fish and roasted meat that will appeal to a Western palate. They also keep a steady supply of cigarettes and drinks from the shops on shore.
Yo Ho Ho, sounds like a mighty fine pirate life to me.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Will Bush Destroy The Country?

I know what you're thinking. Hasn't he already? Embroiled in a costly and stagnant war, with our economy on life support and a major city still as mangled as the day it was hit by a hurricane, our country is in deep trouble. But, sadly, it could get worse, and there's a good chance that president Bush will make it so, despite his limited time remaining in office.

Lost amid the hubbub over Obama's cabinet appointments has been a call by Obama and his newly-selected chief of staff, Rahm Emmanuel, for Bush to authorize a bailout plan for the auto industry. Bush has already helped out his pals on Wall Street, but so far, he's seemed reluctant to help an industry that is just as integral to the American economy's success. With unemployment already at a level not seen since just after 9/11, the economy cannot afford more job losses.

Time magazine reports:
It's now clear that GM can't survive as an ongoing entity without massive federal assistance. The company is burning through more than $2 billion each month. It has $16 billion left. As if they were aboard a dirigible losing altitude, GM's bosses have been frantically throwing all manner of stuff overboard — retiree health-care benefits, people, assets, new car design — to conserve $5 billion. That will get it through the year.
The system — the domestic auto plants and their interconnected group of suppliers — is far bigger than GM. It includes 54 North American manufacturing plants and at least 4,000 so-called Tier 1 suppliers — firms that feed parts and subassemblies directly to those plants. That includes mom-and-pop outfits but also a dozen or so large companies such as Lear, Johnson Controls and GM's former captive Delphi. Beyond those are thousands of the suppliers' suppliers.

Although the Detroit Three directly employed about 240,000 people last year, according to the industry-allied Center for Automotive Research (CAR) in Ann Arbor, Mich., the multiplier effect is large, which is typical in manufacturing. Throw in the partsmakers and other suppliers, and you have an additional 974,000 jobs. Together, says CAR, these 1.2 million workers spend enough to keep 1.7 million more people employed. That gets you to 2.9 million jobs tied to the Detroit Three... Shut down Detroit, and the national unemployment rate heads toward 10% in a hurry.
We saw what happened when the government chose to let one big banking firm, Lehman Brothers, fail. The entire financial community fell down with it. Now it seems Bush is content to do the same with the auto industry. Except the workers laid off by this collapse won't be as well off as those let go by Wall Street.
So far, the President has offered only to speed through Congress an already approved $25 billion loan to help Detroit create new fuel-efficient models. But GM needs an additional $10 billion simply to pay its bills next year and $15 billion more to close plants, compensate redundant workers and dump some of its lesser-performing brands.
Bush was apparently angry that details of his conversation with Barack Obama were released to the press. One of those details was that Obama had urged him to support an auto-industy bailout. Of course, Bush had other ideas in mind...
The president stressed that his main priority for any postelection action out of Congress is approval of a long-stalled free trade agreement with Colombia. -Jennifer Loven, AP White House Correspondent
Yes, Bush is worried about Columbia, while Rome burns.

It may just be the cynic in me, but it seems to me that the Republicans have little to gain by supporting a bailout of the auto industry. They already took heat in this year's election for supporting the bailout of Wall Street. And by allowing GM and others to go under, they assure that Barack Obama begins his first year as President in a very, very deep hole that's nearly impossible to climb out from. By doing nothing, the Republicans can let Obama and a Democratic congress take the heat for a dead economy in the next election. Meanwhile, if they do approve a bailout and it fails, then the Republican base, already pissed at large government spending, will have all the incentive they need to vote their incumbents out of office.

Already, the Republicans are showing signs that they could care less about 2.9 million jobs.
AP - House Republican leader John Boehner of Ohio said Thursday he would oppose an auto industry bailout. "Spending billions of additional federal tax dollars with no promises to reform the root causes crippling automakers' competitiveness around the world is neither fair to taxpayers nor sound fiscal policy," Boehner said.
If Bush uses his veto power to kill a bailout bill, it's hard not to figure he's doing so in order to deliberately hurt the country for the immediate future, creating a toxic environment for the next party in charge.

Given what we've seen so far, I can't say I'd be surprised.
Hoaxer Fools Bloggers, MSNBC

The Times has an article about a blogger who fooled a lot of people into thinking he was the source for the "Palin doesn't know Africa is a country" story. Worse, it seems he's fooled major news organizations before.

Shows that you can't trust blogs, really. Except this one, of course.

Monday, November 10, 2008

A Changing Landscape

While the whole world focuses on President (elect) Obama, and speculates on what changes he will bring to this country, the new president of the Maldives has just announced concrete plans to change some things about his tiny island nation.

He wants to change the size of it.

Much of the Maldives is a mere 3 feet above sea level, which means that if a polar bear living in the Arctic Circle accidentally spills his glass bottle of Coca Cola into the ocean, the nation will be inundated with floods.

Polar Bear on Coke
The Real Cause Of Global Warming

Unlike previous rulers seeking to expand their territory, President Mohamed Nasheed is looking to make a purchase, not an invasion.

From the BBC:
Mr Nasheed's plan is to create a "sovereign wealth fund" using tourism revenues to buy land so that future generations will have somewhere to rebuild their lives if they have to leave.

He wants somewhere within the region, where the culture is similar - possibly India or Sri Lanka.
Unfortunately for Mohammed, it's unlikely that India or Sri Lanka is looking to sell. India's so against giving up territory that they're fighting tooth and nuke with Pakistan over a tiny remote mountainous region, and Sri Lanka is a pretty tiny nation to begin with.

Is there any nation in desperate need of cash that can grant the Maldivians a bigger homeland? Yes.

The U.S.A.

Let's face it. We're going through a recession. We owe so much money to China that George W. Bush has agreed to wash president Hu Jintao's car every other weekend. The national debt is climbing everyday, thanks to an endless war. At the rate we're burning up money, it won't be long before we become like Worm in the movie Rounders, depending on Matt Damon to win big in a poker game and save our ass.

And the U.S. has plenty of worthless properties in the South Pacific:

Northern Mariana Islands
The Northern Mariana Islands are not too far from the Maldives, and it's highest peak is 3,166 feet above sea level, high enough to avoid drowning in the event of a global meltdown. Plus, Maldivian men would be happy-- the islands boast the lowest male to female sex ratio in the world: an average of 76 men to every 100 women (according to wikipedia).

But yeah, those islands have people that might not be happy joining the Maldives. So what about Jarvis Island? It once held the town of Millersville, which was abandoned during the second world war. Sure, its a bleak place with no fresh water, but this bargain-bin island may be just what the Maldives ordered:

Jarvis Island
Jarvis Even Comes With Its Own Bird-Doo-Lined Walking Path!!

Perhaps the Maldivians want a place with more history? Look no further than Palmyra Atoll, which boasts the Pacific's largest collection of unexploded World War II ordinance. It was also home to a notorious murder on the high seas. It's also got a lovely bunch of coconuts, so the inhabitants won't starve:

Palmyra Atoll
One Of The Least A-Bombed Atolls In The Pacific!

But I'm sure that after all these years on an island, some Maldivians might be cravin a little mainland. That's why I propose something a bit radical:

Sell Alaska.

Let's face it. Sure, it's a beautiful place, but how many of us will ever visit it? Yeah, it's got oil, but we can work out a deal when the Maldivians make the purchase. Alaska is like the appendix of America, a fine but superfluous part of our country that has the potential at any given moment to flare-up and spew poisonous Sarah Palin into our 49 other states.

We bought Alaska for $7,200,000 back in 1867. Accounting for inflation, rising land values, and significant because-the-Maldives-is-desperate markup, I think we can easily get 7 BILLION.

Gov. Sarah Palin
Motivated Seller?

Yes, the Maldivians would have to get used to the cold, but hey, when your nation is about to be under the sea with Sebastian the Crab, you have to make trade-offs.

Think about it, President Nasheed. You could use the land, and we could use the money. Make an offer.

And remember, as broker, I take 20%.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

The Most Annoying Commercial In The World

I can't remember a time when the Associated Press ever ran a story about an ad annoying people. But the ubiquitous "Saved By Zero" Ad campaign launched by Toyota to herald their 0% financing event has apparently ruffled more than a few feathers:

"It's pretty much unanimous that everyone I've talked with thinks it's very annoying," said Colin Anderson, a 19-year-old freshman at the State University of New York at Binghamton. He created the Facebook group "Stop Playing Toyota's 'Saved by Zero' Commercial" after first seeing it a week and a half ago. The group has since swelled to more than 1,200 members and is growing.
At issue is that hypnotic, red bouncing 0% sign (which would have been a great costume for Halloween, by the way) and of course, the song "Saved By Zero," which seems designed to penetrate into the furthest reaches of your skull, staying there until it finally eats your brain from the inside, all but forcing you to go down to the nearest Toyota dealership in order to beg a salesman to run you over with a brand spanking new Corolla.

Esquire Magazine has a piece here about the ad.

The ad, below, might be tolerable, once. But on TV, it often appears in bunches. Like a street gang, one Blood might not scare you, but a pack of them will:

Who does that song? Well, the original "Saved By Zero," is by a band called The Fixx. Hear the original, less annoying version, here. Ironically, the song's meaning appears to run counter to result it's producing in the TV watching audience:

The Fixx’s impressionistic songs are inspired by events in their lives as well as in the world around them. “Saved By Zero’s” minimalist view came from the experience of touring. “Part of the routine,” said lead singer Cy Curnin, “is becoming more lightweight, doing away with encumbrances. Zero is the point of relaxation.” --Shuttered Room/Reach The Beach songbook
Relaxation. Yes, what most of us are trying to do on Sundays while watching football. Until the "Saved By Zero" ad comes on and sucks away whatever happiness remains of the weekend.

There's some speculation on who actually sings the ad version, here. Presumably, once we know who is responsible, we can eliminate them and all memory of this song from the earth.

A group called Empire State Human did a cover of "Saved By Zero," but I don't think it's the one used in the commercial: MP3 Sample

Hopefully, someone gets to the bottom of this soon.
You Know The Republican Party's In Trouble When...

Sarah Palin is being hailed as the party's future:

Is Sarah Palin the answer for defeated Republicans? After a historic rebuke at the polls, the Republican Party is staggering into an uncertain tomorrow with the White House and Congress in Democratic hands, no certain leader in sight and its membership divided over what it means to be a Republican.

Ever since her selection as John McCain's running mate in late August, Palin, the 44-year-old Alaska governor, was the star of the GOP ticket, though views of her vary wildly across the political spectrum. With the Republican brand corroded and the hunt on for the next Ronald Reagan, Palin could be one of many people competing to influence Republican ideas in the post-Bush era, maybe even as the party's leader.

"Conservatives are still looking for Mr. Right. And maybe Mr. Right turns out to be Ms. Right," said Bill Whalen, a fellow at the conservative Hoover Institution.
Yes, the person "influencing Republican ideas" will be a former beauty pageant contestant who has no idea what a vice president does, who's never read a newspaper or magazine, and who's sole foreign policy experience is governing a sparsely populated state in sniffing distance of Russia.

Already, Republicans are in a tizzy, many blaming Palin for the GOP's losses this election:

Of course, others want to destroy the lives of those who would dare say anything bad about their beloved Sarah:

"We're tracking down all the people from the McCain campaign now whispering smears against Governor Palin... We intend to constantly remind the base about these people, monitor who they are working for, and, when 2012 rolls around, see which candidates hire them. Naturally then, you'll see us go to war against those candidates."
At this rate, its going to be a long time before Republicans are in charge again.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Finally Voting For A Winner

One For Obama

I can sleep well tonight knowing that finally, at long last, I've voted for the winning Presidential candidate.

My friend Jenny (Jenny Jo Journalista), who's covering the election for Columbia (School of Journalism) called me while in the crowd around the Apollo Theater in New York City. A madness of honking horns and joyful shouts. "Obama! Obama!" It was great to hear. I, on the other hand, enjoyed a quiet evening watching the results from the sleepy Republican suburbs of Monmouth County, NJ.

First the Giants win the Superbowl, now this. It's turning out to be a great year.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Just In Case You Weren't Going To Vote Today

This should convince you:
See more Natalie Portman videos at Funny or Die

(thanks Brooke!)

A few last minute things to think about:

Who's more likely to "change Washington?" A 72-year old who's been in the Senate for decades, or a 47-year-old newcomer?

Who's more likely to reverse the past 8 years of bad government? A member of the Republican party that's ruled Washington for the past 8 years? Or a member of the opposition party?

Who's more likely to settle the situation in the middle east in a responsible way? The Republican who once sang in public "Bomb, Bomb Iran?" Or the Democrat who believes diplomacy should at least be tried before sending our troops to war?

Which vice president is more likely to be a good president if their running mate is somehow taken out of office? A former beauty pageant contestant and hockey mom who's never left Alaska? Or an experienced foreign affairs committee leader in the Senate who's been on the shortlist for a Presidential bid for years?

I don't think I need to spell it out for you.

Republicans, don't worry. Democrats will never force women to get abortions. They won't begin training kids to be gay. Democrats won't raise your taxes and then give your tax money to terrorists. Obama will not declare Osama as his Secretary of State. About the only thing that will change is that the economy will rebound and less of our troops will be dying overseas. Remember the Clinton years?

Minus the blowjob, of course.

Remember: 9/11 happened under Republican watch. And don't be fooled. While no terrorist attacks have happened over here in the U.S. since, the amount of terrorist attacks in the world have gone up during 8 Republican years. Are they really making us safer? How many times can you kick a beehive before you get stung? Republicans seem to want to find out.

Ok, ok. I've said all I'm going to say. Go vote. For whoever.

Whoever isn't John McCain.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Bush To Live In Cave Until Election

AP – WASHINGTON – It's no coincidence President Bush has been out of the public's eye in recent days — that's the way the Republican Party wants it. White House press secretary Dana Perino said Monday the incumbent's invisibility is by design — because "the Republican Party wanted to make this election about John McCain."
"The president knows there are people in this country who want change and are looking for something new," Perino said.

"We're realistic about the political environment that we are in," she said. "What keeps him going is knowing that he's done the right thing."
That's why Bush has, in recent days, moved into a cave in an undisclosed location somewhere in the southwestern United States.

"He has all the amenities there that he has at the White House," said Jan Fakebody, a senior Bush staffer. "He's got satellite tv, a personal chef, a king size bed. It's just a bit drafty, that's all."

When asked who is running the country at this tumultuous time, Fakebody replied, "The same person who's been running the country since 2000. Dick Cheaney."

As McCain and Democrat Barack Obama made their final pitches to voters over the weekend, Bush spent time drawing pictures on the cave's walls. "This one's a goat," he said, pointing at a crude stick-figure painted with a yellow highlighter. "I call him Freddie."

He has no public events on Monday or Tuesday, not even an Election Day photo op. Bush has already voted by absentee ballot and plans a small dinner in his cave Tuesday night with two purposes: celebrating his wife's birthday and watching old episodes of the WB cartoon "Animaniacs."

"Pinky and The Brain, now that would be a winning ticket," Bush said, in reference to two of the show's characters.

The White House said Bush is keeping up to date with the financial crisis, two wars and the upcoming transition to a new administration, despite being in a cave. "It's a very well-appointed cave," Fakebody said. "It's got Verizon FIOS."

In early September after Hurricane Gustav, Bush scrapped his planned opening-night speech at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn., and instead spoke via satellite. But in recent days, Bush has declined to issue any statements using the cave's satellite link-up, preferring instead to record videos himself on a Sony Handicam and passing the videotapes to local shepherds, who then provide them to contacts at major news outlets.

"We expect his new video soon," Fakebody says. "Hopefully it includes fewer shadow puppets than in the first one."

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Japanese People Are Weird...

...but they love Obama:

So, yeah... go vote for him.

Courtesy of Clicked.

PLUS: Just in case you think Sarah Palin's qualified for Vice President:

Not sure what the dancing people have to do with anything, but it's pretty funny.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Other Joes Get Cold Shoulder From Political Campaigns

Average Joe Public

In the election's final month, Republican Presidential nominee John McCain has repeatedly referenced Joe the Plumber in an effort to show voters how Barack Obama's tax policies could hurt the average working man. The tactic is a slight departure from the campaign's previous focus on Joe Six-Pack, mentioned numerous times in the vice presidential debate.

But there is evidence McCain's strategy may be leaving at least one group of prospective voters out in the cold.

"Maybe it's because I'm Jewish, but I haven't gotten much attention from either of the candidates this year," says Joe Schmoe, a former favorite collective pseudonym referred to by politicians.

"I've always been proud to be a part of campaign speeches and debate arguments," Schmoe says. "For whatever reason, it's just not happening this year."

John Doe, long a favorite of the legal community, has noticed a definite trend of politicians moving away from traditional collective pseudonyms towards more specific monikers.

"There's an impression that candidates can make more of an impact by targeting specific groups of voters rather than an American everyman like myself," Doe says.

John Q. Public agrees.

"I thought that movie with Denzel Washington was going to catapult me back into the big time," Public says. "But these days, all politicians want is an occupational name that screams 'lower-middle-class.'"

That bodes well for Joe the Carpenter and Joe the Electrician, both who claim to have an eye on the big time after Joe the Plumber's meteoric rise.

"I've been waiting for the opportunity to be mentioned in a stump speech," Carpenter says. "With the economy as bad as it is, this might be my only chance."

Joe the Electrician has sent emails to the campaigns of both major candidates. "I'm an undecided voter," he says. "If it's anyone that they should be talking about, it's me."

John Q. Public believes we may see more of this kind of thing. "Every Tom, Dick and Harry wants their fifteen minutes, and a desperate candidate seeking to connect with voters might just give it to them."

Tom, Dick and Harry could not be reached for comment.

Other Average Joes are content to sit this election cycle out.

"I'm focusing too much on improving my scores on the SAT," says Joe Bloggs, an average test-taker many students judge their performance against. "If Joe the Plumber wants to expose himself to that kind of scrutiny, then God bless him."

Jane Roe is refusing to vote due to what she believes is a failure by both campaigns to reach out to female placeholder names. "It's always Joe this, Joe that. You'd think Sarah Palin would at least give a shout out to a Jane or a Mary."

Whatever name candidates decide to elevate into the national consciousness in these final days, one thing is certain-- the notoriety is unlikely to last. Joe Six-Pack, for one, knows all too well how quickly fame can slip away.

"One minute you're on top, next minute, they drop you like a dead hooker off the side of a cruise ship," Six-Pack says. "Politics is a cruel game."

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Anti-Education Republican Party

I've begun to notice a definite disdain among the leaders and pundits of the Republican party for so-called "intellectuals" and "elites." (actually, I noticed it four years ago). This behavior fits with their strategy of trying to woo the "common man," whom the Republican party believes is a plumber named Joe who downs a six-pack of beer every night before bed.

To the Republicans, Joe isn't very smart. Note how McCain, in the second, "town hall" debate, said "You probably never heard of Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac before this," to the African-American man who posed him a question about the economy. Some people thought McCain assumed the man wasn't informed because the man was black... I say, McCain was simply doing what the Republicans have become very good at: talking down to a populace that they think are idiots.

In the Republican Party's defense, they may be right. After all, Bush was re-elected. How smart can our country be?

But I digress. The Republican party continually paints science and progress as a bad guy-- enemy of religion, killer of babies, liberal poison designed to turn a generation of schoolchildren into Democrats. Need evidence?

Their support for school vouchers and homeschooling initiatives that take funding away from public schools and puts education in the hands of amateurs.

Support for creationism to be taught in schools.

Denial of global warming.

Deriding legitimate scientific research as "pork spending."

Cutting Pell grants and other ways to help people obtain a higher education.

Forcing medical doctors to adhere to politically-influenced scripts which make no logical, medical sense.

Anointing a VP candidate who doesn't read books, doesn't know the role of a VP, and who believes Alaska will be a final battleground of the apocalypse.

Slate has an excellent article here by Christopher Hitchens about this disturbing trend.

I'm not saying voting for Democrats makes you smarter than voting for a Republican. But if Republicans continue to pander to the segment of society which abhors logic and reason, its only a matter of time before the Republican party becomes the thing it covets.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Halloween Hot Dogs

As seen in Tompkins Square Park yesterday...

Sherlock Dog
"It's Elemetary, Dear Watson..."

Tootsie Roll
"Cotton candy, sweet and low, let me see that tootsie roll..."

Scary Bat Lady
Some Owners Were Scarier Than Their Dogs...

Trapped Lobster
Uh Oh, Looks Like Someone's A Lobster Dinner Tonight

Michael Phelps-dog
Michael Phelps-dog, World Record Holder In The Doggie-Paddle

"Here Comes Santa-paws, Here Comes Santa-Paws..."

...and his reindog
...and his reindogs

Sandy and Danny Zudog
"Tell Me More, Tell Me More, Did He Bark All Night..."

Mexican Wrestling Dogs
Nacho Libre-dog

And my personal favorite (in cuteness):

He Doesn't Lay Eggs, Just Poops

The winner of the canine costume contest?

Rapunzel, Rapunzel, Please Wag Your Tail
Sadly, Rapunzel Was Not Rescued Because The Prince Had To Chase A Squirrel

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