Monday, June 14, 2004

Silicone Valley

Trying to be ironic on a lazy Saturday night, I drove out with my bro to a place called "eCities" to check out the club scene in Tyson's Corner.

It should be renamed "eRetirementCities." The desperate sweaty older men standing around the edges of the dance floor looking for young prey was pretty gross. Has "you look good in that skirt" ever worked as a pick-up line? The guy who uttered it was about 45, so you would think the years of failure would have weaned him off that crappy line.

Even grosser were the plasticene 30/40-something year old women that prowled the place. Their faces were stretched taut over their skulls as they tried to outrun both age and grace, and all the excess fat sucked out of their thighs and stomach.

But, even more troubling was that all of these women had large, fake breasts. I mean large. And I mean fake. Even faker than their personalities. So they were pretty fake.

Lesson learned: "Club scene in Tysons Corner" is
indeed an oxymoron.

Friday, June 11, 2004

A Valuable Lesson

Isn't it incredible what you can learn on the internet? For instance, when I cleaned some so-called "junk mail" out of my e-mail inbox yesterday, I ran across an e-mail that told a touching story of a young woman's struggles to find love in this mad, criss-crossed world of ours. The story is worth reprinting in its entirety:

"She don't like meat but she sure likes the bone. Those damn vegitarians [sic] just can't go without cock for even a day, even if it means fucking a guy that represents most everything she believes is wrong with the world today!"

The story was accompanied by some lovely pictures of the vegetarian lass, and an invitation to visit her website. It was so brave of this young, amply-endowed woman to share her story with other lonely souls on the internet. Can't we all learn a little about ourselves from her tale?

I, for one, have learned a valuable lesson: The absence of meat in the diet of a female vegetarian causes her to develop a voracious appetite for the closest simulation of meat that her value system permits -- penis -- regardless of whether the man to whom said penis is attached shares her moral opposition to the consumption of animal products. This canonical truth will surely enrich my remaining years, and I plan to spread the word by sharing the young vegetarian's story, loudly, at all cocktail parties, barbecues, and family get-togethers I attend.

Stem Cell Nonsense

Many of Cotton's companions seem to date the media's love-fest with our dear leader to W's blathering into a bull-horn at Ground Zero, but Cotton has a longer memory of this phenomenon. Indeed, Cotton recalls a veritable groundswell of media praise following our president's annunciation of his incomprehensible and utterly arbitrary stem cell policy in August 2001. The policy, which eliminated federal funding for research on stem cells derived from embryos destroyed after August 9, 2001, was rolled out during an oval office appearance in which Bush was plainly ordered by Rove to look as somber, studious, and anguished as possible.  Cotton laughed heartily at the completely transparent effort to make the class dunce appear professorial, but Cotton was apparently alone in his mirth. Indeed, at the time, Cotton made a mental note of Paul Gigot's reaction during a News Hour appearance, in which Gigot slathered praise upon the president's moral seriousness and referred to him as "our national teacher" (Cotton shudders at the implications of that statement). Much to Cotton's surprise, Gigot's gushing reaction was not uncommon.

Three years later, it is plain that this wise policy has significantly impaired promising research in a variety of areas. Evidently, the few stem cell lines that existed as of August 9, 2001 are of limited quality, and many of these are contaminated with "mouse feeder cells" (don't ask). The creation of new stem cell lines would be a boon to research into Parkinson's disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer's disease, and but our wise, compassionate, "national teacher" will permit no such development.

This brings Cotton to the present state of affairs, our effusive national mourning for the recent demise of a previous dear leader.  The Bush/Cheney campaign is presently working overtime to wring every drop of political benefit out of poor Reagan's corpse; could not two play at this game? Reagan suffered from a cruel, debilitating disease -- a disease that could be mitigated or even cured by research on new stem-cell lines.  However, our beloved leader will not allow these new lines to be developed. A Kerry 30-second commercial on this, perhaps? Cotton's vision is as follows:

On the screen: Bush prancing around in his flight-suit (ALL Kerry commercials should be centered around this image, by the way)

Music: "It's a grand old flag"

Large lettering superimposed on screen (in scrolling fashion)

American Troops killed in Iraq: 713
Funerals attended by the president for those killed: 0

(Cut to image of Lynddie England with Iraqi on leash):

Iraqis killed in U.S. custody: At least 10
Apologies issued to those families: 0

(Cut to image of Nancy Reagan behind casket)

Americans with Alzheimer's disease: 2 million
Funerals attended of those that suffered from Alzheimer's disease: 1
Federal Dollars spent on developing the most promising cures for Alzheimer's disease: 0


Cotton welcomes additional suggestions in this vein . . .

More Reagan-Mania

Reagan fever continues to catch on (symptoms include a sudden desire to take money out of a homeless persons begging cup or invade some place like St. Kitts to prevent the spread of some "ism"). Last night, as I watched the service at the Capitol, I heard about how Reagan single handedly won the Cold War; according to Senator Ted Stevens, we were losing it when Reagan came in to power. Yikes! I have been doing some more research on him and learned:

1. Reagan once taught a bear to read braille. And the bear wasn't even blind!

2. Reagan once won a bet with God. I don't blame God for this, though, since I too thought Posh Spice would be the first to leave the Spice Girls.

3. In a madcap series of events involving Lucille Ball and some bad lobster, Pele came down with food poisoning right before the 1958 World Cup finals. Reagan put on a mask and substituted for him. The result: two goals and a World Cup championship.

4. During "Hands Across America," there was a bit of a scheduling snafu and the nobody in the entire state of Wyoming showed up. Reagan and Rubberman covered the entire state on their own! Wyoming turned out the next day, and Reagan made everyone in the state banana pancakes!

5. Reagan once caught Moby Dick! And then set him free. "Just for sport," he explained as he watched a humbled Moby Dick swim slowly away.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Setting the Record Straight

There's been a lot of media coverage over the last few days about J. Lo's marital status. Here is my statement on the matter, for syndication on the press wires: I can neither confirm nor deny whether I married Jennifer Lopez over the weekend. My private life is my private life, and some things are simply off limits. Therefore, neither can I confirm or deny whether I am the father of Jennifer Lopez's unborn baby, if such a baby exists. Maybe now the hounds from Us Magazine will lay off for a while. No comment, okay? Now, let me get back to mourning Ronald Reagan's passing with my big-bootied honey.

Everything Reagan

For staunch American conservatives, Reagan was a messianic puppet, who was able to parrot their ideologies far more effectively and likeably than any of their intellectual-types could. Unlike Goldwater who garnered about 14 votes in 1964, Reagan decisively won two elections against wildly ineffectual Democratic candidates. I mean, in 1984, Mondale nominated a barely-vetted Ferraro for VP who had a husband that may have had mafia ties; was that clown even trying?

In return, these conservatives bestowed the man with an absurd amount of affection and devotion. At various conservative "think thanks" (i.e., doctrine mills), the spit out hagiographies of the amiable former president and/or his policies. And then, there is the Ronald Reagan Legacy Project, which even before his death set a lofty goal: get as many things named in honor of Ronald Reagan as it could in every county in America.

They have been relatively successful, e.g., the Ronald Reagan building (second largest federal office building in the country), an aircrift carrier, and they even got Congress to substitute Ronald Reagan's name for George Washington's at DC's National Airport
(which makes the flight from there to Houston's George H.W. Bush Intercontinental Airport a liberal's travel nightmare).

Here are some of the other accomplishments of the Ronald Reagan Legacy Project:

1. Having February 6 declared Ronald Reagan day in many states.

2. Getting the Louisiana Legislature to pass a bill naming part of US 190 after Ronald Reagan.

3. Fighting hard for a Reagan Memorial on the Washinton Mall.

4. Getting some states to commission Ronald Reagan license plates.

5. Getting school textbooks to replace the name "Albert Einstein" with "Ronald Reagan."

6. Getting the Papacy to canonize St. Ronald.

Ok, so the last two are made up (for now). But, here comes Senator Mitch McConnell, who is pushing hard to replace Alexander Hamilton's face, with that of Ronald Reagan on the $10 bill. Who was Hamilton after all, but the father of American capitalism. Yawn. That is like so 1780s.

Maybe it is time for some fresh faces on our currency. Some suggestions:

1. Replace George Washington (weird-looking, slave holder, bad fake teeth) on the $1, with Isaac Washington (Love Boat's bartender, who dispensed cool, delicious drinks and sage advice that comforted millions of viewers...solid; bonus if they get a picture of him doing his pointing, two fingered wassup move).

2. Replace Abraham Lincoln (who supported a back-to-Africa movement as a way of mollifying southerners who feared the sociopolitical consequences of freed slaves) on the $5, with Marcus Garvey (also advocated a back-to-Africa movement, but had cooler uniform).

3. Replace Andrew Jackson (racist, slaveholder, great general, political goon, involved in the slaughter or theft of lands from numerous Native American tribes) on the $20 with Reggie Jackson (clutch hitter, asshole, made wearing glasses while playing sports
cool -- unfortunately, James Worthy undermined that part of his legacy later in the 1980s).

4. Replace Bejamin Franklin (brilliant, talented scientist, ugly) on the $100 with Karl Rove (talented but often overrated, already has a cult of personality, kind of looks like Franklin but even uglier).

Friday, June 04, 2004

Bush's War on Poverty

Hey, SS, I am not sure you gave enough typespace credit to GWB's War on Poverty, otherwise known as his compassionate conservative agenda. This agenda involves slashing funding for government aid programs and replacing it with hopeful, empty rhetoric.

GWB's compassion agenda is set forth in more detail on his campaign website. Here are some snippets:

1. "The President’s vision of compassionate conservatism is effectively taking on some of society’s toughest problems – educating our children, fighting poverty at home and abroad and aiding poor countries around the world." This sentence is a grammatical nightmare. Is he indirectly or "effectively" waging a campaign of compassionate conservatism? Or is the campaign effective? Whose home is he fighting poverty at? How is fighting poverty abroad any different from aiding poor countries? At least he is for educating our children, unlike that undead Democratic candidate for president, who would rather eat their brains.

2. "A job is more than a source of income –it is also a source of dignity." Compassionate conservatism is about quantity over quality when it comes to the poor or jobless. If you work as a proctologist, a fastfood restaurant employee, at a slaughterhouse or some
such place, are you really saying "I wake up every day, proud of what I do."

3. "Last year alone, U.S. training programs provided needed job skills to more than 430,000 citizens in the developing world." Wow. That is 0.0000072% of the world's population, and the program must have cost something like $10 million or so. That's "huge," unless you compare it to the hundreds of billions in tax cuts the top 1% of the population. You see compassionate conservatism is measured in terms of raw numbers, not meaningful percentages. It is like me going out to 100 dinners over the course of the year,
tipping $2 each time regardless of how the dinner was, and then saying, "Last year, as part of my compassion agenda, I donated over $200 in gratutities to low income service industry workers."

4. "Addiction to drugs is another cause of hopelessness. Addiction crowds out friendship, ambition, moral conviction, and reduces a life to a single destructive desire." This is probably an overstatement. I walk by plenty of homeless junkies who have pretty clear moral convictions. The other day, this one homeless junkie who usually sits near my metro stop yelled at me for not redistributing some of my wealth, "Can you spare a quarter? Hey, you heard me. Fuck you, man, I am trying to eat, and you can't give a quarter. That's fucking greedy, man. Ain't you read the bible? Fuck you." Fuck me indeed, because I did have a quarter, but was saving it to buy a soda later at work.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Words May Break My Bones

If you were raised by your TV, you’ll know the answer to this question: What is hamburger? Chopped ham? No! It’s chopped steak. (And therefore perfect for the zesty taste of A1 Steak Sauce.)

Likewise, what was the Cold War? A war against cold temperatures? No! It was a war against the Soviet Union! Dammit, they got me again.

So what is the War on Terror? A war against fright? No! It’s a war against … Give me a sec … A war against …

I don’t really know what the War is against. In fact, it isn’t a war at all, in the way humans have thought about war for five thousand years. It's really a rhetorical device that permits the government to invoke the prefabricated moral framework of “war” – with all the sacrifice and righteousness that comes with it – in carrying out what is, in fact, a political agenda. Once an agenda is a “war,” Americans are willing to accept a lot of inconvenience. During World War II, we conscripted the young; hoarded metal; spared meat; sealed our lips; and even permitted women to do men’s work. During the War on Terror, we have been asked to spend profusely (while reducing taxes pursuant to a wholly separate agenda); permit our children to kill and be killed; incur international hatred; and increase the likelihood of another devastating terrorist attack on American soil. If the War on Terror were not a war, but only a General Feeling of Abhorrence on Terror, there could be no sacrifice – and thus no overseas deployment of 200,000 troops, or massive bombing campaigns, or Patriot Act. We would be constrained to “fight” terrorism with the unexciting tools available to a peacetime government.

The War on Terror is not our first rhetorical war. LBJ had his War on Poverty. Several succeeding presidents had the War on Drugs. Did we blow our chances to succeed in those wars by not really treating them like wars?

Take the War on Poverty. As it actually was waged, the “War” amounted to mealymouthed disbursements of money and expansions of federal bureaucracy. Phooey. In a real war, we could have gone right to the root of the problem. Any community that aids or harbors poverty is our enemy. We would give those neighborhoods an ultimatum: Hand over poverty or else! If they didn’t comply, we could occupy them and root out the impoverished evil-doers. And we could store the survivors in prisons that would, through constant degradation and humiliation, ensure they would never embrace poverty again. (I heard we may already be trying this.)

So, too, with the War on Drugs. What did that “War” really amount to? More dogs in airports, fences on the borders, and full employment for prosecutors and prison guards. Drugs were obviously being aided and harbored by rogue nations, such as Colombia and Florida. (Scratch that last part.) Why did we put up with that? We should have said, “Hand over the drugs! Or else!” We could have assembled a Coalition of the Willing, which would have been comprised of at least 30 states. And if the drugs weren’t handed over tout de suite, we could have used the inherent powers of a government at war, mobilized troops, and bombed the hell out of Colombia (and maybe Florida). Then we could install a provisional interim coalitional collaborative conference of advisors to ensure that drugs get out and stay out.

I think the roadmap for the future is clear. Don’t like abortion? The War on Abortion is ready to be waged. Move the National Guard in to root it out. Don’t like gay marriage? Laser-guided cruise missiles straight into Provincetown should take care of that. Same with California, the Bill of Rights, and broccoli.

After all, what is a war? Chopped ham? No, it’s a rhetorical device that permits limitless exercise of executive power and ensures the complacency of a population afraid to be perceived as challenging the legitimacy of its leaders! Perfect for the use of zesty devices like rights-restricting statutes, bunker-busting bombs, and American lives.

Campaign Slogan Ruminations

Mr. Kerry's campaign braintrust deserves some degree of praise for selecting a campaign slogan from the words of a classic American poet. Expressing one's campaign theme through the poetic words of one of America's finest writers seems an excellent idea.  However, Cotton Mather is nonplussed by the actual bit of verse that Kerry's group selected for this purpose. "Let America be America again?" Indeed, Cotton sat stone-faced and disenchanted following the revelation of said slogan, unsure how one is supposed to respond to its utterance.  In the context of the Langston Hughes poem, the phrase makes a powerful point; ripped from that context, it becomes vapid blather, subject to any interpretation one chooses to give it. Nonetheless, Cotton is most pleased with the general concept of deriving campaign slogans from traditional American verse, and will reflect upon a more appropriate slogan for Mr. Kerry along these line! s. In the meantime, Cotton humbly suggests the following bits of poetry fit well with the purposes of other candidates, present or future:

George W. Bush would profit by adopting a bit of e.e.cummings:

"next to of course god America i love you
o land of the pilgrims and so forth oh"

Bill Clinton, should he seek future office, could turn to L. Hughes as well:

"The steel of freedom does not stain"

Rick Santorum's concern with non-traditional relationships is encapsulated well in this verse of cummings':

"the way to hump a cow is not
to elevate your tool
but drop a penny in the slot
and bellow like a bool"

Cotton will continue his musings on this topic . . .

In Defense of Lionel Richie

So, last night I was watching yet another one of those "We love/hate the 80s/90s" on VH1, where smarmy members of the pop culture literati (who did their agent have to blow to get these nobodies their gigs) comment on the wackness of 80s/90s music, fads, trends, etc. Last night, on "50 Crappy Songs" or whatever that show is called, the anonymous cabal of "commentators" eviscerated Lionel Richie's "Dancing on the Ceiling." It is a crappy song, to be sure, but they made it seem like it was the kind of typical tripe put out by Richie.

Richie was actually pretty talented (yes, you read that correctly), and penned some nice songs when he was a member of the Commodores (Easy, Zoom, Machine Gun, Sweet Love, etc.). Granted, I am genetically presdisposed to being a Lionel Richie supporter (that is another post for another day), but it is sad that Richie's legacy is being judged by a bunch of commentators who probably have no clue about his musical background. In fact, none of these commentators or rock/pop/soul historians, their only
qualification appears to be sass and hip haircuts. They know more about the vacuity of Richie pipehead daughter Nicole who is paid by Fox to patronize rural people with that slutty Hilton girl, than the Richie discography.

In any event, the VH1 crappy song show missed perhaps the worst song of the 1980s, that "Do They Know Its Christmastime?" song put out by a misfit bunch of British stars the winter of 1985 to benefit starving Ethiopian kids. The country is half-Muslim, so the song's prosletyzing pro-Christmas message(who wrote it, Billy Graham?), was probably befuddling to those for whom the lyrics were translated. Who was the song speaking to? Were these kids supposed to respond, "Hey, Bananarama says its Christmas time. Now that I know that I don't feel so hungry anymore. Hope is on the way."

Remember this line from that song: "Well tonight, Thank God it's them, instead of you." Touching. As I was sitting in my dining room on Christmas night 1985, my face covered in grease from all the turkey I ate, I was definitely thinking, "I was hungry about 20
minutes ago, but thank God that -- unlike some starving kid in Africa with a distended belly -- I am full now. I barely have room for dessert!" Granted, because of the song, had there been a starving African kid sitting next to me, I would have definitely shared a couple of bites. Sure, I had a little bit of money I could have sent, but I was trying to save up to buy the latest ABC album.

In any event, I guess that song was better than "We Are The World," where a Reagan-era motley group of fading American pop stars (the afore-mentioned Richie, Bob Dylan, Michael Jackson, Steve Van Zandt (?!?)) sang about giving food aid to starving African in exchange for political and cultural influence over their countries, and ultimately world domination. In the original cut of the song, the "We" was emphasized in the chorus, but that part -- like Meatloaf's verses, which reduced the song from 17 minutes to about 5 minutes -- eventually landed on the cutting room floor.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

It's supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!

President Poppins arrives to raise everyone's spirits with a healthy dose of good spirit and enthusiasm!

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Ashes to Ashes ...

A true goodbye email from a law firm associate to his firm that shows if you can dream it, you can achieve it... [Names deleted to protect the guilty]

From: [Associate]
Sent: Thursday, May 27, 2004 1:11 PM
To: All San Diego
Subject: FW: Goodbye...

As many of you are aware, today is my last day at the
firm. It is time for me to move on and I want you to
know that I have accepted a position as "Trophy
Husband". This decision was quite easy and took
little consideration. However, I am confident this
new role represents a welcome change in my life and a
step up from my current situation. While I have a
high degree of personal respect for [this firm] as a law
firm, and I have made wonderful friendships during my
time here, I am no longer comfortable working for a
group largely populated by gossips, backstabbers and
Napoleonic personalities. In fact, I dare say that I
would rather be dressed up like a piñata and beaten
than remain with this group any longer. I wish you
continued success in your goals to turn vibrant,
productive, dedicated associates into an aimless,
shambling group of dry, lifeless husks.

May the smoke from any bridges I burn today be seen
far and wide.

Respectfully submitted,


ps. Achilles absent, was Achilles still. (Homer)

Political Ad Fun!

Monday's Washington Post had an interesting article on the advertising in this year's presidential race. According to the Post, almost all of Bush's ads and a few of Kerry's ads are negative, misleading, untruthful, or a delightful, steaming stew of those and various other adjectives or adverbs, none of them good.

Have they influenced any voters? Well, the conventional thinking in Camp Kerry is that most people are not paying attention at this stage in the campaign. That may be kind of true, but I have to admit the ads have had an effect on me. Kerry does seem sort of a flip-flopper (who coined this political term? De Tocqueville?). Look at Kerry on marriage: first he was for marriage (first wife), then against it (divorce -- yet another reason why he should be denied communion!), then for it (Teresa, watch out girlfriend, and keep the prenup handy). Which one is it, Kerry? And then, take Kerry on breathing: first in, then out, then in, then out...which one will it
be, Senator!

Some have argued that this back and forth reflects Kerry's relativist tendencies. But, everyone knows that relativism = communism. Indeed, I believe there is a passage in Leviticus, where the cool, angry Old Testament God unleashes a plague of sore-infested rats on the Relativites for questioning a command from Him to burn their crops in a show of faith. Their mistake: trying to come up with some sort of plausible explanation for destroying their livelihood other than blind faith.

Anyways, the Bush ads, in my opinion have been most impressive, mostly because of how brazenly false they are. Dana Milbank points out that the Bush campaign heavily uses straw man arguments in this morning's WashPo. My favorite is claiming John Kerry wants to raise taxes $900 million dollars. Has Kerry ever proposed that? No, but the Bush people did their own calculations as to how much they think his spending plans cost and have decided the issue for Kerry.

But, frankly, the Bush people have been TOO subtle. Below are some suggested attack ads that can be supported by a creative reading of the factual record.

1. Kerry on education: Cash over Standards. You already know the flip-flop John Kerry has done over education. First, he was for No Child Left Behind, now he is against it. But, what would he replace it with? John Kerry supports paying kids not to learn [shifty
guy on street corner handing kids twenties and fifties out of a paper bag]. He would replace the standards put in place by the No Child Left Behind Act with cash payments to kids and to fatcat teachers union officials [shot of a Bentley parking in the "teacher
parking" section of school lot]. Apparently, John Kerry believes that minority kids only understand money [show sad Black, Latino and Asian kids sitting against grey backdrop] and are unable to learn or meet basic standards [show same kids looking at blackboard which reads "2 + 4 = ?" One kid writes in "8" and they all high-five each other. Shifty man walks in and hands out more cash.]. John Kerry: wrong on education.

Facts: Kerry supports increasing education funding (but don't we already have enough cash for education; apparently, a lot of that cash is unspent), easing funding restrictions tied to test scores and increasing teacher pay. Spun the right way, you have attack ad gold.

2. Kerry on gay marriage: Poor John Kerry. Yet again, he is trying to have it both ways. He is against gay marriage, but he's legally for it [have each clause of sentence come out in cartoon typeface out of either side of Kerry's mouth]. Kerry says he is against using the constitution to discriminate against a couple in love. [Cut to a shot of a man in a beret leading a horse into a bedroom] Well, I guess during a Kerry administration whose rights are being violated is a matter of perspective [last word said with thick French accent; horse turns to camera and gives a sad snort].

Facts: Kerry is against gay marriage, but for civil unions. One could argue that a civil union is basically the same as a legal marriage. Flip Kerry's comment about not discriminating against love against him, weave in some anti-French smears, and your base
will be driven into sweet, delirious political onanism.