Friday, February 25, 2005

Nine hours on a bus...oh my!

Hi everybody! Just wanted to let all of you know that I am leaving tomorrow morning for a trip to Arkansas with the UL track team. I'm not sure they have the Internet in Arkansas, so I might not be able to check in for a few days. According to my trip itinerary, we should be back by 2 a.m. on Tuesday. Just in time for morning classes! So will someone please pick up my mail and newspapers? Thanks.

And while I'm thinking about it, a parting shot: Hotmail must die. In recent weeks, Hotmail has caused me to miss more than one journalistic deadline, despite filing as much as an hour in advance. Half the time, they seem to be completely offline. And with a click of the mouse, my entire account (two megs' worth of messages dating back to 2000) appears to have vanished. This particularly pisses me off because I just received a kickass letter from a fan of my column and I wanted to print it for posterity. And now it's gone for good! What the hell?

So anyway, feel free to peruse some the quality content below in my absence. And try not to steal anything in the meantime. You'll be disappointed.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

New Column: Red Tape, Redefined

Move over, Nixon! The latest president to deny his crook status now has secret tapes of his very own. Recently released by George W. Bush pal Doug Wead, these recordings offer startling insights into the man who would soon be called president (by the Supreme Court). Among the startling revelations: Bush basically admitted that he smoked pot, once considered John Ashcroft as vice president and actually questioned courting religious fundamentalists.

Quotations from the tape illustrate a future world leader in the making. More importantly, they help answer the burning question: “What the hell were they thinking?”

Oct. 23, 1998, 3:16 p.m.

“Hey, George! Doug here!”

“Doug Wead! I love that name, Wead! Because, you know, it sounds like weed.”

“Just so you know, I’m secretly taping this conversation for historical purposes.”

“I feel like Monica Lewinsky!”

“Speaking of Monica, Bill Clinton’s been taking some abuse lately, huh? I hope the Republicans pounce on this.”

“Are you kidding? With such a scandal on Democrats, our party’s a lock in the next election. Any clue on who’s running?”

“Well, some of the names in the rumor mill right now are Steve Forbes, Dan Quayle, John McCain and you.”

“But I can’t run for president! It’s 1998!”

“Er…well, now’s a good time to think ahead.”

“You’re right. I would have to unify a loyal base of voters. On what could I run?”

“Well, sir, you’re the governor of Texas. That’s no small feat.”

“Actually, yes it is. What else you got?”

“You also ran the Texas Rangers.”

“Are you kidding? I traded Sammy Sosa! And he just clobbered the home run record.”

“Yeah, but Mark McGwire beat him to it! Gotta think positively.”

“Good point. I’m positive I’ll be president!”

“That’s very optimistic, George.”

Dec. 4, 1999, 2:42 p.m.

“Doug, I’ve got a no-miss idea for my campaign. Bush Y2K! What do you think?”

“You already have the paranoid vote, George. If you really want to attract voters, you should focus on the pertinent issues. First off, we need a catchphrase.”

“I’ve got that one covered. I like the title of Marvin Olasky’s upcoming book, Conceited Conservatism.”

“George, that’s Compassionate Conservatism.”

“Oh. Don’t like that as much, but it’ll do. Now how about foreign policy? And domestic scandal? I certainly don’t want to be caught with my pants down. In any sense.”

“Don’t worry. No one would ever accuse you of making love, not war.”

“And I’m concerned about alienating voters by pushing religious issues. I realize that America comprises a variety of spiritual viewpoints. So should I bash gays or should I just hate the sin of gayism?”

“Do what your heart tells you, George. Remember, your beliefs are right and no one can tell you otherwise.”

“True. Daddy told me that I’ve been wrong only once. And that was when I thought I was wrong. [Both laugh] I’m also up in arms about the marijuana question. I mean, what if I say yes?”

“Then do what every politician does. Issue a non-denial.”

“I could say I never exhaled.”

“Now you’re catching on!”

Aug. 2, 2000, 11:14 p.m.

“I think the Republicans might nominate me to be their candidate tomorrow. Should I say yes?”

“Of course, George! This is what we’ve been working up to all this time!”

“I don’t know. That Al Gore, he’s pretty stiff competition. Literally! [Both laugh] I guess if I just be myself, then I’ll do well.”

“Yes, as long as by ‘being yourself,’ you mean being the folksy Washington outsider that we’ve rehearsed so much. Go for it!”

“Ladies and gentlemen, I expect…I take exception…I—”

“Accept.”

“Accept your nomination! How was that?”

“Well, there’s always Florida.”

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Fear by windshield wiper

Yesterday, UL students had the pleasure of finding this on their cars:

Almost here? The Doors recorded that 32 years ago! Posted by Hello

The above is a typical ad in the October 2004 issue (!) of The House of Yahweh Newsletter. The front article is entitled "Forty Nations Now Have Nuclear Capabilities: What Does This Mean for World Peace and Safety?" Here is a stirring excerpt:

I recently read the laws that the health department sends to morticians and was amazed at the number of diseases one can get from the dead body of a human being.

About fifty years ago when I was in college, I worked in a funeral home. Comparing the laws from then to now, I was amazed at the increase of the risk factor in touching the dead because of all the new diseases, viruses and parasites that have been created and mutated by the unhealthy habits of mankind in the past fifty years.

These diseases, viruses and parasites were created and mutated by mankind because they have broken the Laws of health.

So there you have it, folks! The world is threatened with nuclear winter because of our bodies' audacity to grow rank after death. Oh, how I pine for the good old days when men were men, women were pure and everyone was so clean that you could eat off their corpses! Too bad those bastard diseases had to go and violate our laws against them (I think that's what he's saying).

But what I find even more amusing is this group's attempt to scare us into apocalypse mode by showing us this picture:

I know...I drive by it every time I go to Baton Rouge Posted by Hello

I hope we avoid another holocaust as much as they do. Seriously. But I don't think Louisianians are going to be scared to piety by a picture that looks like the entire expanse of the Atchafalaya River, especially since the Cypress stumps in that river are considered vital examples of Louisiana beauty.

The Jewish Holocaust was one of the worst tragedies in world history. And the threat of war and disease is very real. And these are precisely the reasons why we need to examine these issues in a far-less-kooky context. Still, for what I paid for this newsletter, I got my money's worth. I can't wait to see what will be left on our windshields next!

Monday, February 21, 2005

Caption Contest

"Gotta get 'em young" edition


--Bush sells his policies to the generation that will pay for them
--"You look healthy. Report to your recruiter now!"
--Bush had everyone feeling blue
--"Oh, phew! You said flags!"
--When it comes to cheap and trite political pandering, No Child is Left Behind
--"In Abu Ghraib we grab 'em like this, but not by the hand...heh heh..."
--"Son, I thought you might like to meet the kid who's going to grab your outsourced job in 15 years"
--Bush prepared to inscribe the Mark of the Beast on yet another hand
--One of these children is just a little smarter than the other
--"Mr. Bush, would you autograph my middle finger?"
--"HELP! THIS MAN IS NOT MY DAD!"
--The Secret Service had really let go over the past few years
--Kiran was not happy after Bush called him an "American Indian"
--"You're one tall little boy!"
--In the ruckus of the crowd, Bush's American-flag blinders kept slipping off his face
--"Say mercy, you little twerp! Mercy!"

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Hunter S. Thompson dead

Gonzo Journalist suicides at home in Aspen

Apparently this just happened...

http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory?id=518062

In other words...

Rob Guillory is a Vermilion cartoonist and a good friend of mine. His blog is here and his collection of cartoons can be seen at Flyboy Press. Responding to a Christian group's protest of Chris Rock as host of the Oscars, Rob posted this awesomely angry letter (parental advisory--explicit lyrics):

Dear America,

I'm so tired of this anti-vulgarity bullshit. When are you gonna realize that words like "fuck" (which I LOVE, by the way) are only given power because YOU give it to them.

For example, if someone had to call me a nigger or some shit, I'm sure I'd be a little perplexed at first (I mean...come on), but because I realize that that word is but a sound emerging from ignorant lips and not a declaration of my being, I can't say that I would be emotionally shattered by the word. And if I had to say "fuck" on live national TV, I'm sure the fabric of reality would not tear, though the media would no doubt make it seem like it had.

Here's a reality check, America: Just because you censor a word like fuck (f**k) or even better, asshole (censored on TV as ass****), the word still comes to mind in the eyes of the audience. They KNOW you just said fuck or asshole. So in a way, you might as well have just SAID "fuck" uncensored, you idiots.

An analogy: It's like having sex while your kids are sleeping in the same bed. Sure, maybe they're tucked snuggly under the covers, but with all the bed-rocking, springs-creaking and moan-making, they know you're fucking, dude. Think about it.

Please, for the sake of all that is good, get over this conservative uber-Christian sex-repressed, linguistics-fearing, ignorantly pre-packaged blindfold mentality. Realize that just because someone says the word "fuck", it doesn't mean they're tugging on the strings of all that is good an decent in an attempt to unravel it.

I say "fuck" all the time, and I don't drink, smoke, do drugs AND I'm a deliberate virgin (Gasp!).

So please, you "moral majority" fucks....TELL ME I have no morals or ethics. I AM the proof that your argument has NO grounds. I am the exception. A moral, "liberal" who believes in true love, but curses like a sailor. AND I'm NOT white. (Gasp! Not white?!!!)

Loosen the fuck up and start realizing what I realized as a friggin' five-year-old :"Sticks and stones break bones. Names don't mean shit."

Start looking around at the world we live in and tell me what's done more damage: My use of "fuck" or your lack of balls.

Okay...rant over.
Have a lovely day.
Peace,
Rob!

Thursday, February 17, 2005

New Column: Why Do I Do This?

Lately, a handful of columns and letters in The Vermilion have expressed disgust for me and my writing style. They have called me everything from “tactless” to “extreme,” and have devoted text to why I am a lying and fear-mongering idiot. Whether the criticism comes from The Vermilion or the student body at large, one thing’s for sure: I couldn’t be happier!

Most criticism directed at me usually takes the form of “Ian McGibboney is a moron and a terrorist.” Name-calling is the last resort of a desperate opponent, so very rarely do I take any of it seriously. But even when someone responds to a claim made in my column and backs it up with factual information, they still usually get it wrong. Witness last week’s letter writer, who claimed that Bush’s second inauguration was less expensive than Clinton’s. As it turns out, Clinton’s inauguration cost almost $11 million less than the Bush 2005 gala (http://rawstory.bluelemur.com/index.php?p=141). Oops!

But the criticism hardly ends there. In what must have been a really slow news cycle, Vermilion columnists John Hinson and Beau Bernis devoted space to me in their respective columns. Last week, Bernis called me an “extreme-leftist liberal” and accused me of using “scare tactics” in my writing. The week before, Hinson said that he could not imagine himself writing in the “the cynical, satirical, and often tactless approach” that I supposedly take.

While I respect both columnists, I think they are missing the point of opinionated political commentary in the first place, which is to entertain and to provoke in order to make a valid point. No one is asking a columnist to be unbiased; what kind of opinion can be distilled from someone who avoids personal perspective at all costs? That isn’t commentary; it’s straight news. Both have value, to be sure, but one should not pretend to be the other.

I, for one, have always found columns far more interesting than dry news. As far as research goes, unbiased information is probably the best bet. But when the time comes for a stirring read, one that sparks interest in an issue in a way that the front page cannot, then opinion is the way to go. Reading someone else’s take on a subject is a great way to discover your own stance.

During my time writing this column, I’ve had people tell me “I read your column every week…and I hate it!” One campus bigwig even introduced herself to me by saying, “I don’t like you.” Then there was the colleague of mine who recently e-mailed me his thoughts: “Personally, I'm looking forward to your graduation so that I, and the rest of us that get totally annoyed…will see you heading on for greener pastures - away from here.” On my blog (http://ianmcgibboney.blogspot.com/), one guy called me “a brain-damaged Michael Moore on Quaaludes, minus the brains.” I like it when people put time and thought into their insults. It shows they care.

On the other hand, some faculty members have surprised me by saying, “Thank you for what you do. You’re saying what a lot of us think, but aren’t able to say.” I’ve also heard friends say, “I pick up The Vermilion just to read you.” Once a girl even threw herself on me (nearly knocking me flat) and kissed me. She said it was for having the guts to write the column.

These episodes are what political debate is all about—giving a damn and not being apathetic to what happens in the world. I’m not asking you to agree with what I have to say, but I am asking you to question the world around you. Nothing extreme.

March of the W-Marts

Today we take a look at the latest clothing store to open at the Not Right Mega-Mart: ProGOPGear! If this is your first shopping experience with us, I highly recommend stopping by some of the numerous other shops along the way. This shop is different in that its t-shirts tell a story! So sit back and relax!

Incidentally, I apologize for the pithy size of these images. ProGOPGear is apparently hip to my methods, as larger images highlight in solid blue and thus are unable to duplicate. So squint along with me as we take this magnificent journey!

Once upon a time, the United States had a contested president named George W. Bush. For the first nine months of his presidency, Bush and his party were headed for a one-way trip to Lame-Duck Land. However, a magical event happened: the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, in which a group of al-Qaida operatives--orchestrated by the maniacal Osama bin Laden--crashed jumbo jets into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania. After that event, which led to the death of more than 3,000 innocents, the Republican Party sprung into action behind the swift and decisive leadership of...Rudolph Giuliani, the mayor of New York City. Meanwhile, Bush languished in Shreveport and similarly unattractive targets.

Yes, the previously embattled president suddenly had an automatic license to do whatever he wanted. Even such unlikely figures as Al Gore were pounding lecterns and declaring, "George W. Bush is MY Commander-in-Chief!"


No wonder Republicans have so many kids

Why? Because as Americans, we needed our security. And in a political struggle involving the whole world, there was no room for subtleties or gray areas. In a famously stirring speech, Bush declared that, "Either you're with us, or you're against us!" His simple, unambiguous words left no doubt as to where anyone stood in the War on Terror!


"I'm a uniter, not a divider"

So we immediately started a war in Afghanistan, toppling the hated Taliban militia from power there. Our swift victory in Afghanistan led to much happiness in America, with people taking the streets and flashing peace signs in triumph. Osama bin Laden, however, escaped to live another day. Or thousands of other days, if you want to be a gloomy-gus about it.

Anyway, none of this matters, as the United States was soon about to involve itself in another adventure in the Middle East, a completely unrelated one that would show the whole world what America was all about!



No longer would we stand by idly as the rest of the world was planning things for their own country that we didn't like! No longer would the good Christian people of the United States put up with people doing things differently! No longer would the United States be perceived as "weak" or "peaceful!" Indeed, Bush went on TV in January 2003 and declared that three random nations--Iraq, Iran and North Korea--were the "Axis of Evil." When that damning accusation failed to capture the hearts of naysayers such as the insignificant world powers, France and Germany, the Republicans would later revise that Axis:


The GOP: Taking terrorism seriously since 2001

To make a long story short, Bush decided to invade Iraq. Does it matter now that the causes for the war changed on almost a daily basis? Or that no weapons of mass destruction were ever found? Or that Saddam Hussein had been sliding into irrelevance by 10 years of bombing, sanctions and internal strife? What matters is that Saddam is gone! And that the untold thousands of Iraqis and Americans maimed and/or dead was well worth the end result: a free-voting Iraq with tyranny that is IN NO WAY Saddam Hussein's doing! God Bless America for bringing our values to a nation that, beforehand, knew absolutely nothing about the value of faith, patriotism or familial bonding!



Despite a small outpouring of protest from billions worldwide, the Iraq War was considered a "great success" by the party composed of people who consider anything short of nuclear annihilation a "great success." This popularity continued unabated into 2004, when the GOP faithful chanted a very common mantra:



During the 2004 election, the major characteristics people were looking for in a leader, even more than such relevant qualities as what church they attended and how funny they looked while windsurfing, were 1) standing firm regardless of right or wrong and 2) how many miles away from intellect they regularly stayed.


Um, I think...

The Republican Convention (held near Ground Zero at New York City in order to remind people of the biggest tragedy ever to hit industrial America) intensified the burning ember that was the fervent conservative movement. The GOP felt that their message would be best exemplified by someone who shared their outrage, anger and indignation over the state of the world and who wasn't afraid to show it--a Democrat!


Good idea, Democrats!

Such bold and frank passion allowed Bush and the Republicans to post monster numbers on Nov. 2, 2004, in spite of such hurdles as a fevered opposition from John Kerry and other liberals, not to mention the failure of many electronic voting machines to deliver the state of Ohio as easily as the machines' maker promised they would. The final tally?


In a country of 220 million?

This record-setting election was settled by a very small margin of votes, hardly an unusual experience in American history. Still, never before had the self-righteousness of 51 percent of the electorate registered so high. From the GOP the country heard cries of "We won fair and square this time" and "mandate," though the latter apparently had less to do with gay marriage than poll numbers suggested.


But isn't 51 an F?

Electoral maps betrayed the thin margin of victory by showing just how many corn and cotton fields voted for George W. Bush. Indeed, so divided was the vote among cultural lines that it became evident to everyone that obviously some divine plan was involved:



Some even theorized that the division was the work of more sinister minds, intent on flanking America and grabbing it by its geographic love handles:


Where "Cold as Ice" is the national anthem!

People in the red areas were so proud of their votes that they thanked God for his divine guidance. They took this imagined order and proudly wore it on their Earthen sleeves:


I got your thanks right here...

And like never before, Americans began revering their president in ways that, as recently as late 2000, would have seemed unthinkable to them. If that isn't a sign of how Republicans have progressed over the years, then I don't know what is! In any event, Bush was now the popular new name in fashion.


And humble by the grace of God

And the country, so in love with the neoconservative agenda, put aside petty bipartisanship and showed the world what was really important in government: winning and gloating!


Elephants always leave big piles of shit

So what will the future bring from the GOP and its leader, Dubya? Well, there will be a lot of religion and kickbacks for corporate donors and other deep-pocketed friends of the Bush administration.


Hope that gift came with a receipt


Additionally, we can eagerly look forward to more of the same in 2005. After all, Bush believes in staying the course, whether that course involves war or the election. So count on more of what we saw in 2004 in 2005!


Guess 62,040,003 people CAN be wrong!

Outside of the perpetual-campaign front, there's the endless war! After all, Terror is one of those big-picture opponents, whose ideals transcend such outdated concepts as "visible enemies" and "fiscal and military restraint." We must do all we can to ensure that all terrorism ends forever, even if we have to terrorize a little ourselves to make our point!


Add a "W" and another "I" and you're close!


No matter what happens, rest assured the Republicans are steeling themselves for the inevitable moment when George W. Bush is no longer fit to serve the nation. Though several candidates are already vying for the post (and thus have shirts calling for their candidacies by excited fans), one name sticks out for its venerability and its unbreakable association with the hardships of war:


Did Bush approve this message?


The moral of this story is to relax. You're in good hands in all states. Unless you live on the east or west perimeter. Then you're next, buddy. Bring it on!

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

I get letters

Today's edition of The Vermilion (one of the sloppiest issues ever, I'm sorry to say) contains a letter addressing me. Normally this wouldn't be a big deal, but lately the letters section has been as dead as its layout. How bad is it? Last week's issue actually recycled a letter from the first issue of the semester! But I digress. Here's what my critic said, with his utter contempt for grammar intact:

Dear Editor,

The Vermilion has in its mist a true liberal columnist, and just as liberals everywhere he must believe that a Lie told often enough and loud enough becomes truth. Yes this weeks article (January 26, 2005) is written obviously as a satire, but words cannot be taken back once said and certain statements within it are just blatantly untrue. No doubt in an effort to take a shot at OUR ( yours and MINE) President. In this article Mr. McGibboney writes “ At a cost of $40 million, this ceremony is easily the most expensive of its kind in American history.” ( Referring to President Bush’s Inauguration)

“ A review of the cost for past inaugurations shows Mr. Bush’s will cost less than President Clinton’s second inauguration in 1997, which cost about $42 million. When the cost is adjusted for inflation, Mr. Clinton’s second-term celebration exceeds Mr. Bush’s by about 25 percent. According to the Consumer Price Index, $42 million in 1997 is the equivalent of $49.5 in 2004. The significant majority of funding for this year’s festivities, including nine officials ball, are from private donations and tickets for events held by the Presidential Inaugural Committee, a similar setup to fund raising Mr. Clinton used to underwrite his inauguration. Mr. Clinton had a record 12 balls in 1997.” (By Joseph Curl,
http://www.washingtontimes.com/functions/print.php?StoryID=20050119-103531-1062r

I for one would like the information presented in this schools publication to at least be truthful. It appears to me that even if you disregard the adjustment for inflation $42 million is still greater than $40 million. Mr. McGibboney greater means more expensive ( your being very liberal with your calculations).

James D. Hammett

My instant reactions:

1) That first clause is particularly hurtful. Me, a liberal? No way!!

2) I really hate being called "Mr. McGibboney." I'm not your teacher!

3) "Mr. Clinton had a record 12 balls in 1997." Too easy. Suffice to say, the number of inaugural galas attended by the First Family was actually 14; in other words, Clinton really had more balls than James gives him credit for.

4) James wants The Vermilion to "at least be truthful," yet he cites a very interesting article that turns out to be completely wrong. Bad boy.

Still, I'm happy to see that someone cares enough to write to The Vermilion these days. That's no small feat and should not be treated as such.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Caption Contest

'Infinite possibilities' edition

--"Hmmm...where'd my thumb go?"
--"Really? Created in Your image, huh?"
--"So that's where babies come from!"
--"You're almost there, George. Soon you'll be ready for the fork."
--"So when critics talk, all I have to do is wank this hand back and forth?"
--Only the best rock-head could serve as Rodin's sculpture model
--Poor George forgot his senior ring on picture day
--The first-ever Glamour Shit
--"Yes, I'd like a cheeseburger, a side of fries and an apple pie...are you getting this down, sir?"
--Bush mulls over Alberto Gonzales' suggested new torture methods
--"Hmmm....the caterpillar...was very hungry...hence the title. Now I get it!"
--Is lacking a high-school diploma keeping you from making the money you deserve?
--Tonight on Fox: When TelePrompTers Break!
--"How do you plead to these charges, Mr. President?"
--Remember, Big Brother Bush is watching you!
--Bush attempt at a poker face was really jarring to watch
--Bush waits for Dick Cheney's permission to dig into a nice bag of beef jerky
--"Let me count that out...that's one, two, three, four more years!"
--Bush shows all the money that awaits retirees after privatization of Social Security
--Bush considers candid, honest criticism...just kidding
--"......"

Have some heart!


Pump it up Posted by Hello

It's Valentine's Day, the one day out of the year where you're allowed to love somebody. So love them, dammit!

Sunday, February 13, 2005

I didn't make this up


No pressure or anything... Posted by Hello

No, this is not a military brochure--this is the front page of today's Daily Advertiser!

This article looks at the alarmingly increasing rate of military appeal to high-school kids. Except for the alarming part, I mean.

Last year, 295 from the Acadiana area enlisted in the regular Army and 37 enlisted in the Army Reserve - 49 of them - 15 percent - were high school seniors, said Roger Harmon, chief of advertising and public affairs for the U.S. Army in Louisiana.
...

Dumas adheres to the belief system that when it comes time to die, it's time to die - no matter if you're in Iraq or walking down Jefferson Street.

If that were my choice, I'd pick Jefferson Street.

"We all can't determine how or when we're going to leave this earth," Dumas said. "If you believe in God, then you know that your fate has already been pre-determined. We just can't predict. You know that you were born to die."

One of the good things about Acadiana-area fundies is that you can pick out their denomination just by their quotes.

Harmon said that recruiting goals in Lafayette usually run about the same every year. "When you're looking at Southern states, there's more of a sense of patriotic duty and a sense of service," Harmon said. "I recruited in Ohio before I came to the South - it's different."

Boy, is it!

With one teenage son already in the military, Sue Maraist's 16-year-old daughter, Lindsay, said that if she doesn't earn a TOPS scholarship, she plans to sign up for the military.

She must be a motivated student!

Lindsay is one of many students who have considered the military because of its promises to pay for higher education.

Our high-school bureau (my sister) tells me that military recruiting is on a push lately on local campuses.

Sue Maraist isn't sure she believes her daughter will actually follow through with her plan. "I told her just to tell them that she's a girly-girl and needs a desk job," Sue Maraist said.

Psst, Lindsay...there's something called "scholarships" and "student loans." If you want a chance at education, getting killed is not the way to do it.

Blaine Theriot, a 17-year-old senior at Lafayette High School, said that he is certain he wants to join the military. As a senior at Lafayette High, Blaine is applying to Westpoint. He said that he has given much thought to the possibilities of a future in the military.

"It scares me. I'm not lying. It scares the hell out of me," Blaine said. "I mean - I don't want to die, but I still want to go."

Articles such as this one scare the hell out of me. Throughout it, there's a pervading sense that recruiters aren't telling these poor kids everything. And no one else in this area seems to question these kids' decisions. Were there any more naivete here, Jessica Simpson would have been interviewed. I hope these young adults reconsider what they are about to do. And I hope that the media will leave recruitment to the Armed Forces brochures.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Newsies or floozies?

Journalists rely on the five “W”s in order to give the best-possible information: Who? What? When? Where? Why? Given recent events, however, another “W” seems to have arisen: “whore.” By taking bribes from the subjects of their articles, several journalists have recently hurt the already scarred face of the media. Who is to blame for this trend? Yet another “W”: George Bush.

Some writers already prostitute themselves for nothing, by being overly inoffensive and apologetic to the point of being blissfully ignorant of the need for change. Their pieces aim not to inform or to provoke, but to avoid conflict. They can’t read between the lines because they don’t even read the actual lines.

Others require a slight nudge to the wallet to be truly programmed. Several journalists have been busted accepting money from the Republican Party to write pieces favorable to the conservative cause. The Bush administration, worried that the White House press corps was hovering near treason with its mere 98.9-percent loyalty rate, hired a writer named Jeff Gannon and planted him among the press corps. Gannon’s penchant for asking fluff disguised as questions wasn’t what gave him away; rather, it was his association with his supposed employer, Talon News.

Talon News is an organization that, by its own words, is “committed to delivering accurate, unbiased news coverage.” Gannon represented literally half of the organization (that’s right—more people contribute to just this page of The Vermilion than work for Talon). The other employee is Bobby Eberle, head of a group called GOPUSA, whose mission is to “spread the conservative message throughout America.” Talon’s Web site offers numerous sidebar links to Republican sites and a banner ad offering “Any three conservative books for $1 each!” Moreover, articles on the Talon News site link to GOPUSA, the agency’s “number-one client.” If this site was supposedly nonpartisan before the scandal broke, it must really have come out of the closet in recent days.

Gannon is just the latest in what appears to be a chain of journalistic hookers being caught in the act. Armstrong Williams, a conservative multimedia dynamo, recently admitted that throughout 2004 he had been paid by the Bush administration to promote the No Child Left Behind Act in his columns and on his show, The Right Side. His $240,000 gift would have been better spent bribing the teachers and students who have to suffer through No Child Left Behind. Money poorly spent, if you ask me.

Syndicated columnist Maggie Gallagher has repeatedly expressed support for the Bush administration’s anti-gay-marriage proposals, to the tune of $21,500 from the Department of Health and Human Services. The HHS also hired columnist Michael McManus to support the same programs. Plus, the Pentagon has allegedly paid journalists to write favorable articles for the Southeast European Times, a U.S. military mouthpiece disguised as a Mediterranean news site.

I’m having a hard time deciding which is more pathetic: that an American presidential administration has to hire columnists to write good things about them or that the columnists are actually willing to do it.

Fortunately, I’m not yet at the point where my integrity takes a backseat. When writing this column, I would never cheapen the independence of my words by mentioning that I watch The Jon Stewart Show every night on Comedy Central at 10 p.m. CST. And you’d never catch me writing here that I get the red out with Visine. You see, I pride myself on my editorial freedom. And on my Arizona jeans.

But for those journalists who have been caught selling out, or have yet to be busted, I simply ask you this: couldn’t you at least have better taste?

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Way off track

In his daily quest to find new and even weirder scapegoats to destroy in the wake of his economic failures, George W. Bush is now targeting--no joke--Amtrak!

In his budget Monday, Bush proposed eliminating Amtrak's operating subsidy and setting aside $360 million to run trains along the Northeast Corridor if the railroad ceases operating. Amtrak received $1.2 billion this year in operating subsidy and capital investment.

Somebody needs to tell Bush that all good fascist regimes make their trains run on time.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Phat Tuesday

Today, people in my otherwise-godforsaken state give thanks for the best gift the Catholic Church ever gave us--Mardi Gras! The one day out of the year where beads outmaneuver the dollar and male charm as currency for seeing boobs. Oh, and it's apparently a historical festival of some sort with enormous communal significance. Laissez les bon temps rouler (Par-tay)!

Monday, February 07, 2005

Caption Contest

"In my wildest dreams" edition

Ian shows off his latest photoshop job Posted by Hello

--"Hooked...on...puh-honics...work-kid...for...me?"
--"If ah slide mah thumb hard enough, ah get a paper cut! Cool!"
--"Mr. Bush, I'm honored to present your impeachment notice."
--"No, Ian, ah can't find your tax cut on this check either"
--Bush has to squint hard to read his accomplishment list
--"Wow! Jenna really is a freak!"
--Presenting the complete report on the liberal media in the United States
--"Oops, Mr. President. The wool fell off your eyes."
--Bush's military records were on the back
--Bush reads the first draft of his biography, "Things I Know"
--"No problem, Mr. President. I'll have Dick sign this permission slip right away."
--Too bad it's not pink!
--"Quite a thought-provoking column, Mr. McGibboney. I guess I have been somewhat reluctant to embrace flexibility as a tenet of my administrative policies. I will have your iron maiden prepared immediately."
--"A, B, C, D, E...F-minus?"
--George beamed over his new Massachusetts marriage license
--Ian presents Bush with a stock certificate for "Useless Shitbags Unlimited"
--"'bin Laden determined to strike in U.S.?' Holy cow! Why didn't anyone tell me?"
--"Ah bet this'd make a kickass airplane!"
--Bush proudly showed off his origami floor
--Bush was the first president to receive an honorary GED
--"Must be expensive ink if ah ain't worth what's written on this paper"
--An inside look into how George W. Bush approves this message

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Super Bowl Dreams

Today is Super Bowl Sunday, a day in which the entire nation gets together over junk food and drinks to watch the purest show of Americana that exists today (You thought that was the State of the Union address? Hah!). I've written lots of stuff on football, particularly the Super Bowl, and yet I continue to mine the game year after year. That's easy to do, considering how much the Super Bowl speaks of our society at any given time.

First, a couple of Super Bowl facts:

--The Super Bowl owes its name to a bouncy ball and a blurt. Sometime around late 1968, Kansas City Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt had seen his daughter bounce a rubber ball over the roof of their house. Amazed, he asked her what it was. She told him it was called a "Super Ball." Later that day, Hunt was in a meeting with event organizers and referred to the game as the "Super Bowl" without thinking. Thus Super Bowl III became the first game to carry the name, with the previous two games receiving the title retroactively. The rest is history.

--The first-ever SB touchdown was scored by a hung-over playboy who could barely see straight. Green Bay Packer wide-receiver Max McGee was so sure that he would not play in Super Bowl I that he spent the previous night and that morning grabbing ass and getting wasted. Of course, this being a TV show--one carried live by both NBC and CBS--karma dictated that McGee had to take the field. So wasted he couldn't even find his helmet (he borrowed one from a surprised teammate), McGee nevertheless scored a one-handed 37-yard grabber to land the first six-pointer in SB history. I have this catch on tape, and it's a wonder that the drunk wide receiver didn't plow straight into the goalpost--especially since the goalposts in those days were inexplicably in the front of the endzone. What was that all about?

--My brother was born on the same day as Super Bowl XII. In a cosmic coincidence, he later played football. In an even weirder coincidence, his younger brother also played football despite having no connection to the Super Bowl and possessing only 133 pounds of body.

--The Saints have never been to the Super Bowl. Optimistic stance: the Pittsburgh Steelers didn't win a Super Bowl championship until their 40th year of existence. Pessimistic stance: the Super Bowl didn't exist until the Steelers were almost 40 years old.

And now, I present to you my list of observations/predictions for this year's game, along with links to relevant columns I have previously published:

--The Philadelphia Eagles will win. Why? Because they have Donovan McNabb, who Rush Limbaugh thinks is overrated. Oddly enough, McNabb has enjoyed his best career run since Rush said that about him, thus proving for the first time what a lousy prognosticator Rush is. See also McNabb's Rush Attack from 10/15/03. The main reason that I think they'll win, however, is simply because I want them to. But alas, because my support is the kiss of death for anyone's success, I offer the following declaration:

--The New England Patriots will win. Why? Because they have our local high-school legend Kevin Faulk, who played for my high school's archrival, and who clocked my lineman brother on his way to what I'm sure for Faulk is a long-forgotten touchdown. I also don't care for football dynasties (please understand...Saints fan here!) or a team led by a quarterback who once hooked up with Tara Reid. I once joked that, in the wake of 9/11, the Patriots would be allowed to win no matter what (Patriot Games, 9/4/02). Crazy how things work out, huh?

The game offers a uniquely American conundrum: we're divided once again, this time on Patriot-Eagle lines. Both teams' mascots represent revered symbols of our nation's heritage. If you root for the Patriots, then you have no respect for our national bird. Likewise, if you let the Eagles soar, then you're clearly unpatriotic. What kind of un-American jerk are you anyway?

More predictions:

--At the end of his halftime performance, Paul McCartney will expose his breast, which will have "Fuck the FCC!" written on it. I can dream, can't I? The last Super Bowl gave me so much material that I spread it over two columns: Stupid Bowl Propaganda (2/11/04) and Janet's Breast, Part Two (2/18/04). This year's halftime lineup is not quite Janet/Justin (or even Ashlee Simpson), but any upheaval will do.

--That naked streaker won't be back. But he'll be at home, watching the game with grossed-out family and friends.

--At least one (and probably five or more) commercials will send the typical right-wing "mexed missages" about why sex, marijuana and file sharing are evil while crotch-biting violence, beer and Viagra are just dandy. A metaphysical certitude.

--Someone will get drunk tonight. Call it a hunch.

Go Eagles! Soar like you've never soared before! From rocky coast to golden shore! Let the mighty Eagles soar!

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Return to Sender


Whether it's parties, festivals, food, music, culture, friendliness or inane letters/editorials, South Louisiana can't be beat!

Marriage exists when two people of the opposite sex have a public commitment to live together with an exclusive sexual relationship (Gay Marriage). If your relationship doesn’t require you to accommodate yourself to a member of the opposite sex, it's not a marriage and doesn’t deserve to be called such. Living with another member of the same sex is just too easy. It also sounds very boring. Calling such “a marriage” will not make it a marriage any more than calling me “gumbo filĂ©” will make me fit into a 2-ounce jar.

David Hays
Grand Coteau

That one's from the Feb. 2 Times of Acadiana, whose letters page is generally a choking hazard if read while eating. And, of course, where would a post such as this be without a Vermilion reference? This week's guest editorial comes to us courtesy of Student Government Association (SGA) President Katie Ortego and Vice President Trumaine Thomas. They had choice seats to the Bush inauguration, so you can just about guess where they stand on the spectrum:

[T]hese are real people who run a business affecting real lives both directly and indirectly. These men and women sacrifice their personal lives to become public servants, and we gained more respect for this.

(sappy snippage)

The Capitol was adorned with the different American flags that have been used since the birth of our nation. Red, white, and blue banners hung perfectly from balconies. It was simply beautiful, and it stirred an uprising of patriotism within our hearts that will never settle again. The beauty of our democratic society was working according to plan with George W. Bush being sworn in as our President at this 55th Inauguration. Though some may say our nation is still divided over the election, we felt that the United States was proving its strength and wisdom once again by hosting a civil election process followed up by the peaceful instillation
[sic] of authority.

You know, there was once a time on this blog (and in general) where I felt I had to offer my own commentary on passages such as these; more and more, however, they speak for themselves. Guess I'll have to find a new and more useful way of wasting time.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

He Hate Me...and Him Hate Me Too!

In tribute to Groundhog Day--a day when we celebrate a creature who lives its life buried deep in dirt--I give you today's piece from Vermilion conservative columnist John Hinson. After 13 months of column writing, he has finally honored the time-tested rule so faithfully and repeatedly executed by his two conservative predecessors:

Vermilion statute 3.016 (d)-- Re: Columnists: When out of original ideas, obsess incessantly over and write (preferably false) gossip about Ian McGibboney.

"I cannot imagine taking, for example, the cynical, satirical, and often tactless approach of Ian McGibboney. I firstly do not need that many enemies, and secondly, it does nothing for his actual position. He makes his point, but it often comes off as more of an afterthought. Is McGibboney attempting liberal conversions? Let me just say from the numerous people I have come up to me with 'death warrants' for him that he is not winning hearts, but perhaps he does win some minds on occasion."

He also quotes one of his acquaintances as saying this:

"'The liberal guy is walking all over us. You need to stand up for us conservatives!'"

What he needs to do is stop turning in his political-science notes as columns and really get incisive with his writing. But that's just my opinion. I'm no expert on walking all over people.

And as a bonus, here's a sampling of several e-mails I've been receiving from a colleague in the English department (not John Hinson):

"Personally, I'm looking forward to your graduation so that I, and the rest of us that get totally annoyed with our discussion board being used as a political blog by you and a few others, will see you heading on for greener pastures - away from here."

He then followed up that message with a political post on that same discussion board. Poetic.

Oh yeah, he also said this, which in no way describes anyone else on that forum:

"I, and several of your peers here in the department, find your constant 'know-it-all', my-way-or-the-highway rhetoric to be exhausting at best. Frankly, we're all a little sick of it."

And this...

Now, I don't know about you, but the way I see it is that your 'view of facts from observation of things' is called opinion - the furthest thing from fact (at least that's what I teach my freshman). Also, 'understand that you'll never believe a word I say unless I have 5,000 words from someone else backing it up' - that's called 'supporting an argument' - something else that I teach my freshman. See, I'm not an expert on generational demographics - so I found empirical information so as to make an informed argument. Now, in the case of this little discussion, I was pretty sure I knew you were full of shit - so, to be sure that I wasn't full of shit before posting something, I provided the empirical data to back up my claim - somehting I learned in 5 years of working as a journalist (again, something you should really consider) - wait, no, something I learned in high school.

Somebody mentioned that the above was an example of something called "condescension." Can somebody please explain what that means? I'm pretty stupid, so use small words.

But the dumbest thing about all this? It all started when someone posted a CNN report that cited scary numbers on the apathy of high-school kids regarding the First Amendment and freedom. I said that such ignorance was a bad thing that transcended politics. How rude of me!