LIVE FROM MIAMI, IT’S THE BOTH OF THEM

Now that "the best debater since Cicero"(1) and the White House dolt who's "won every debate he's ever had"(2) have finished their warmups for tonight's face-off, are we ready for the "naked moments"(3) live from Miami? Will there really be any "naked moments," instead of stock phrases and mini-stump speeches? Doubtful. But please remember, "We're not electing a class president or head cheerleader."(4) Don't forget, "Too many wrongs do not make him right."(5) And watch out for the spinmeisters, who will crown the victor according to … [Read more...]

BIG TRIPPERS

American Public Radio's Marketplace has a great new feature, Power Trips, which gives the lowdown on Congressional travel. Produced by Steve Henn, it tells who has accepted the most trips, and how much they spent. Here's the top 100. Here's who picks up the tab. Here are the destinations: "Hideaways tucked up in the mountains. Oceanside resorts. Wine-tasting on the West Coast. Tours of Europe's great cities." Here's how the parties compare: Democratic PartyNumber of trips: 2735Total spent: $7,819,281.79 Republican PartyNumber of trips: … [Read more...]

GOOSING AHNOLD

Seven years from now, California will ban foie gras if it comes from force-fed geese. Ahnold found it in his steroid heart yesterday to sign a bill ending "the force feeding of ducks, geese and other birds to produce the gourmet liver product." The ban is to take effect in 2012. That answers the question: Will Ahnold have his goose cooked?" … [Read more...]

TURNING CULTURE INTO KITSCH

Timothy Noah's story about the Smithsonian's new travesty -- under the headline "The National Museum of Ben Nighthorse Campbell" -- is a devastating account of what's wrong with the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. He writes: The new museum stubbornly refuses to impose any recognizable standard of scholarship, or even value, on the items in its galleries. Precious artifacts are mingled with present-day kitsch, with few if any clues provided about what makes them significant. The museum's curators regard the very … [Read more...]

TOO MANY WRONGS TO MAKE HIM RIGHT

The Nincompoop in Chief has been wrong on so much so often -- the war in Iraq and the disastrous post-war situation, finding weapons of mass destruction, finding Osama bin Laden, democratizing Afghanistan, retaining European allies, U.S. foreign policy in general, preventing the spread of nuclear weapons via Pakistan, containing North Korea's nuclear ambitions and now Iran's, the U.S. economy, lost jobs, tax cuts for the rich, privatizing Social Security, the rising cost of Medicare, the high price of drugs, stem-cell research, separation … [Read more...]

DOUBLE-TWISTING BACK FLIPS

It's one of those I-told-you-so mornings. Is Sen. Kennedy and/or his staff reading Straight Up? Doubtful. But I couldn't help noticing Kennedy's reference to the "rhetorical double-twisting back flips President Bush performs" in a speech he gave yesterday. He also called our Nincompoop in Chief "the world record-holder for flip-flops." Earlier this month, an item here, ON FLIP-FLOPS AND SHARP SHIFTS, suggested news ledes to reflect reality, such as: "President Bush did a triple somersault belly flop ..." and "President Bush … [Read more...]

GETTING OFF ON WOLCOTT

James Wolcott has had it up to here with the mummified pundits: Unlike political pundits, sports guys have to know their stuff and be able to back it up on cross exam; whereas William Safire and Andrea Mitchell can spin cobwebs every time they speak without losing oracle status. Meet the Press had a political panel this weekend that looked like a poker game for mummies. Read the transcript of the mummies. They're not the only jokers who get him steamed. The other day, he lambasted this year's recent Emmy Award winners, not as mummies … [Read more...]

I CHING-A-LING

Wisdom of the ages from Straight Up's poet laureate in re: "Hu Takes Full Power in China As He Gains Control of Military." WWWWW&H, COLUMN B [China's president is Hu Jintao and its premier is Wen Jiabao.] Confused over WhyChina does what it does,With every wrenching changeLeading to further fuzz? Mystified by HowCapitalism's sprungSeemingly full-grownLike instant egg fu yung? Unsure about just Where To find Hubei, Yunan,Shanxi, Jilin, Zhejiang,Even Sichuan and Hunan? Wondering just WhatDirection China'll takeAs it charges straight … [Read more...]

CULTISH TASTES

Remember the Endangered Species Menu at THE ENDANGERED SPECIES RESTAURANT in Jackson Hole, Wyoming? I forgot to mention the Wine List. Shameful. Because in many ways it is the restaurant's greatest attraction. For wine connoiseurs with cultish tastes, the list is short but choice: 1. Genoa Blood Red Chianti, 2001 -- Fullbodied, curious coagulants, redolent of teargas and buckshot 2. Quebec Cabernet Sauvignon, 2001 -- Furious palette cleanser, olde-world aura, secretive and cryptic aftertaste 3. Bohemian Sekt, 2000 -- A sparkling white, … [Read more...]

FACIAL MANEUVERS

With the presidential election in the balance, prep talk about Thursday's debate has entered the realm of the fantastical. The Nincompoop in Chief is praised as "a great debater" by Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe. Even The Washington Post claims the ninny's got great facial maneuvers: Although "many people recoil at his famous smirk," the ninny "knows how to signal incredulity with a slightly cocked head and a flicker of eyebrow-arch." And let's not forget: His more emphatic brows-raised, … [Read more...]

HOPE AND UNHOPE

A friend writes: Here's An Excellent Exposition of the Nature, Power, and Value of Rhetoric in a Context of National Importance. It's an article by Stanley Fish, which is timely beyond words (almost). In speaking of George Bush's rhetoric, for instance, Fish notes: "There is of course no logical relationship between the repetition of a sound and the soundness of an argument, but if it is skillfully employed repetition can enhance a logical point or even give the illusion of one when none is present." It gives me hope. Ain't it peculiar? That … [Read more...]

MARCHING ON

Test your knowledge of Iraq: 1) Hepatitis is on the march, spread by sewage-contaminated water. 2) Freedom is on the march, spread by the U.S.-led coalition. Correct answers: 1) True In 2003, 70 percent more cases of hepatitis of all types were reported across Iraq than in the year before. During the first six months of 2004, as many cases were reported as in all of 2002. In yet another indication of the deteriorating safety of water and food in Iraq, the number of reported cases of typhoid fever is up sharply this year. ... Those reports come … [Read more...]

FROM IRAQ TO TWINKIES

So much has happened this week that plenty of essential reading went unmentioned here. First on the list: "With Trembling Fingers," an angry, bitter, and most of all, truthful invective by Hal Crowther, who won the H.L. Mencken Award for column writing in 1993. A former writer for Time and Newsweek, his column has appeared for years in the Independent Weekly. Crowther is fed up with the sort of commentary represented by Maureen Dowd or Molly Ivins. He doesn't name them, but whom else does he mean when he writes of "the columnist … [Read more...]

PEACE OFFERING

We should have mentioned the National Museum of the American Indian, which opened Tuesday in Washington, D.C. Here are some images from the opening ceremony. The First Americans Festival continues through Sunday. A friend writes: On Monday, I just happened to be enroute home from a weekend trip and changed planes in Memphis, where more than a few participants boarded my flight to D.C. I was really struck by how much this museum means to them. This may sound corny, but I was moved to tears by their enthusiasm and pride. The museum was 15 years … [Read more...]

IS BLOGGING OVER?

The brothel creeper is just as good as Belle de Jour ever was, maybe better. (Not to be confused with Robert Crumb's grammatically correct Belle d'un jour.) But creeper is a one-time shot. Belle was there for us every day of the year. Sad, sad that she's gone. (The Pentagon must have been reading her. It's taken the romance out of joining up. See the clamp down on prostitution.) Also gone: The Minor Fall, the Major Lift. Or was it The Minor Lift, the Major Fall. Uh, The Major Fall, the Minor Lift? I've forgotten already. Whatever, more … [Read more...]

WILL AHNOLD HAVE HIS GOOSE COOKED?

Paul McCartney wants Arnold Schwarzenegger to give geese a chance (second item). Jeannette Walls reports: The former Beatle has written the former action star, asking him to ban foie gras production in California. A bill outlawing the force-feeding of geese to produce the delicacy is on Governor Schwarzenegger's desk, and Sir Paul McCartney, a member of VIVA!, an animal-rights group pushing the bill, is hoping the governor will sign it. "Your signature could be the one that ends the suffering of these poor animals," McCartney wrote to the … [Read more...]

SEEING DIFFERENCES, AKA OUR PARALLEL UNIVERSE

The difference between a lead ballon and making nice at the United Nations may be the distance between the East Coast and the West Coast. Some might even think it's the difference between smart and stupid. In the opinion of The New York Times, "Bush delivered an inexplicably defiant campaign speech" yesterday at the U.N. His "tone-deaf speechwriters achieved a perverse kind of alchemy, transforming a golden opportunity into a lead balloon." In the opinion of the Los Angeles Times, "Bush on Tuesday dispensed with the red-meat phrases … [Read more...]