March 30th, 2007

Passengers Locate Your Airsickness Bags: Jeb Bush Already In The Running

by Philip Baruth

Mitt Romney kicked off the Vice Presidential pandering contest yesterday, naming several Southerners as A#1 Prime contenders for the second slot on a Romney ticket.
jeb, george
Prominent among the names, as VDB predicted well over a year ago, was Jeb Bush. And if you think that McCain’s going to be able to get away without kissing this particular ring, you are, in a word, nuts.

Yes: Johnny Mac and Jeb. The buddy movie to end all buddy movies.

But VDB’s favorite part of Mitt’s impromptu riffing on potential VPs?

The wicked backhand he offers the Decider:

“I have to be honest with you, I haven’t given a lot of thought to that, so I don’t want to put any names in that hat right now,” Romney said.

But he did say Bush was “quite a guy.”

“I love him. If his name weren’t Bush, he’d be running for president, I’m convinced,” said Romney, who added he also was “pretty partial” to South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint.

If his name weren’t Bush. Indeed.

March 29th, 2007

British Wanker Reviews Obama Juvenilia; Double Obama Challenges Near Finish Line

by Philip Baruth

First things first: Poet Ian McMillan — a rather patronizing and snooty chap from the Guardian (UK) — has just published a review of two poems Obama wrote when he was 19, for a student literary magazine.

obama, 2/10/07The review is called “The Lyrical Democrat.”

McMillan sniffs the stanzas over and, surprisingly enough, finds them wanting.

His review is notable, of course, for one other feature: he manages to convert a typographical error into the image of Obama hitting his grandfather in the face with his penis.

No, VDB is not joking.

Whatever the Obama campaign may or may not accomplish on its own, it will certainly go down in history for the bizarre interpretive gymnastics it has inspired in its detractors.

Which is more than enough said about that.

As regular readers will remember, VDB has been deeply engaged in the good work of Vermonters for Obama (V4O) for the last four months or so.

And when the national Obama campaign announced their March 31st push — a day built around thousands of individual house parties across America — we decided to take it up a notch ourselves.

Vermonters for Obama threw down two challenges, both timed to coincide with the March 31st fundraising deadline:

1) To grow our V4O membership from 60 to 120, or even 150 if the Great Spirit so wills;

2) To encourage as many folks as possible to hold house parties for the Community Kick-off, with a goal of 20 statewide.

And the results have been strong, thus far: membership in V4O has grown to just under 100, and at last count there were 14 parties listed through the Obama web site.

If you’re a friend of VDB, and you like Obama enough to hear more at this point, and you’ve yet to link arms electronically, go to the Obama ‘08 website and make it right.

It’s unbelievably easy. Go here: Once there, you’ll be able to click to sign up and create a profile.

Then you can search by Zip to find Vermonters for Obama, or go directly to:
On this actual group page, you just need to click the “Join Group” button in the upper left under the group name to add yourself (and to boost our group number), and then click to find our group, V4O.

You’ll find all this Saturday’s Vermont parties listed as well. We’ll be in Buell’s Gore for something tentatively called “Barack the Gore.”

Which has a nice ring to it, when you think about it.

[Hat tip to VDB’s Canadian correspondent Paul Martin, for the BBC tip. No, not that Paul Martin.]

obama II, 2/10/07

March 29th, 2007

BREAKING NEWS: VT Has Only One Air America Affiliate Left, and That Affiliate Has Only One “Live & Local”

by Philip Baruth

It’s Thursday again, and time for the boys from WKVT. Last week, VDB was live in the ‘Boro, but today it’ll be the tele-digital equivalent. That’s 11:00 am to noon, folks.

Which is a powerful shame: after the show last week, we all went into downtown Brattleboro for lamb wraps and hummus, and the tiny Middle Eastern restaurant had a big picture window overlooking the street.
Steve, being, well, Steve

And someone out there somewhere suddenly started up a bubble machine, and thousands of soap bubbles began to float down the street. It was like a miniature Southern Vermont miracle.

Especially since Steve and Gorty paid.

Gorty, rocking out

And that sort of miracle can’t be phoned in. But streaming is still a wonderful thing.

March 28th, 2007

US Attorney Firings: The Pearl Harbor Angle

by Philip Baruth

Maybe this has been discussed elsewhere, but if it has, it’s escaped VDB’s notice: the firings of the Gonzales 8 were timed for December 7, the anniversary of history’s most infamous sneak attack, at least pre-9/11.

That’s right: Pearl Harbor.

pearl harbor

Now, once you get into the weeds of this scandal, you see that these firings were not the work of a casual moment. It was February 2005 when the idea was first floated in the White House, and more than a year and half elapsed between that point and the actual terminations. (TPM has an extremely useful tick-tock of the scandal here.)

Much thought, much time, much strategy went into this power grab. It was clearly designed to dovetail with Rove’s plans for 2008, as well as hinder more than one ongoing corruption probe. All of that suggests deep consideration.

And the December 7 execution date was sheer coincidence?

More than likely, the anniversary played as something like a very, very inside joke at the highest levels of the White House, the RNC, and the Department of Justice. It gave the operation a theme, as it were.

And more than anything, it has the signature stink of Karl Rove, for whom government has never been much more than College Republican pranksterism writ large.

And VDB will bet you a slice of pizza that when all the documents have been ignominiously dumped, this nasty little joke will come to light. Of course, by then Alberto Gonzales will be running a two-bit bail-bonds operation out in Corpus Christi, wondering how it all went wrong.

alberto, thrown to the wolves

But it will still be sweet. Very sweet indeed.

March 27th, 2007

Adventures in Existentialism (With Kevin)

by Philip Baruth

It’s been a long time since we had a real manufacturing base here in America.

What we excel in today can only be called technological seduction — we produce some tiny, colorful, unnecessary snippet of software or video, and then we bring all of our cultural resources to bear, in order to make the snippet seem indispensable.

federline, himself

We deal in the ineffable and the ephemeral: we want people in India and Asia to want it but not quite understand it, and we want whatever the product is to become useless by next year.

And usually I’m a critic of this sort of cultural flim-flammery, but occasionally it manages to produce something so unexpectedly central to my life that it all but erases the cynicism I have for the process in general.

Take Google.

In the same way that I love Macintosh computers, I love Google: unreservedly, with every beat of my scarred twenty-first-century heart.

But as much as I love the Google search engine, there is something lonely about it. When you use it, you are almost always in a room by yourself, searching, always searching because the data you retrieve inevitably raises more questions, further searches.

And so Google is an existentially troubling experience, if you think about it.

I am searching, I realize now, not because I need phone numbers or hotel prices in Quebec: I am searching because as a human being, I am ever alone. And so I search more often, but the more I search, by definition, the more I am alone.

And that’s why I was so excited the other day to see that a company called Prodege has solved this existential Catch-22. They’ve partnered with Brittney Spears ex-husband Kevin Federline to create something called “Search With Kevin.”

Search With Kevin is a toolbar that appears on your desktop every time you start up your computer, and instead of going to Google’s homepage, you simply Search With Kevin.

And for me that has made all the difference. Because now, when I sit in my small office, moving virtually through endless sterile drifts of information, I’m no longer alone, no longer existentially bereft because — and I hope I can make you see this, make you feel it the way I do — because I’m with Kevin.

kfed, unchainedBut in addition to the surprisingly deep sense of companionship, there are other big pluses: each time I search I can win prizes, an 8×10 of Kevin, or an invitation to his birthday party, late at night, in the VIP room of some gritty, happening club in Miami Beach.

I can even win a t-shirt, the plain white kind with no sleeves.

The homepage for Search With Kevin shows Federline seated at a poker table, with a cigarette and a glass of scotch. He’s wearing a bathrobe, and a really big watch.

And at first you think: hey, this guy’s got no friends — he’s an ex-back-up dancer turned ex-husband who has nothing much of anything to do.

But then you realize that he’s sitting there waiting for you, to be with you. And he’s in his bathrobe because you’re now that close.

But of course my happiness searching with Kevin can’t last forever; the American economy now demands that I become fickle and dissatisfied. Next year, I’ll be searching with Jennifer Anniston, Brad Pitt’s ex, and the year after, maybe with Dennis Hastert, ex-Speaker of the House.

And you know the prizes at Search With Dennis have gotta be huge.

[This piece aired originally on Vermont Public Radio. You can listen to an here.]

March 27th, 2007

Welch Slices, Dices Bush-Flack Cooney

by Philip Baruth

I know I’m late posting this. It came in last week when the Shumlin interview was in the final stages, and then a trip out of town intervened. But it is truly not to be missed.

You will remember that one of the knocks on Peter Welch during the 2006 cycle was that he was — wait for it — a lawyer. It was astonishing to me how years of Republican lawyer-baiting had penetrated even the far Left.