The Fox is guarding the hen house

At one point early on in The West Wing John Spencer’s character Leo McGarry was outed as a recovering alcoholic to the press. When the intern that leaked the information attempts to resign Leo refuses to accept it and tells her that she was doing what she thought was right. (I don’t remember this episode, but I’ve been told about it – so pardon if my retelling is off).

This is a great story to lead into the Bush administration’s response to the recent spying scandal. First there’s the refusal to talk about it, then it was defiantly acknowledged, then my favorite is Dick Cheney saying “Especially in the day and age we live in the President of the United States needs to have his constitutional powers unimpaired, if you will, in terms of the conduct of national security policy.” He is essentially saying that the President acted with powers he should have. Is that not illegal?

So ok – there is a grey area here. Something that probably should be looked into. And today it is announced that the Justice department will be investigating the leak of the alleged unconstitutional acts of the Bush Administration. Going back to The West Wing, that story displayed a remarkable amount of character. Fictional character – but character none the less. If there are illegal acts going on in the White House it is the responsibility of the press and the officials that are entrusted with running this country to admit the wrong doing, address it, and then move on.

“Watergate and a lot of the things around Watergate and Vietnam, both during the 1970s, served, I think, to erode the authority I think the president needs to be effective, especially in the national security area,” Cheney told reporters traveling with him on Air Force Two. It is funny that Cheney brings up the checks and balances that were instituted after the Watergate scandal as if they were a bad thing. The reason we need the checks and balances are to prevent rogue administrations running amuck.

Why is it that republican administrations are unable to live within the guidelines set by the constitution?

Home for the holidays

I had to wonder why every year I seem to like New Year’s Eve more than Christmas and last night I figured out why – New Year’s Eve is for friends and Christmas is for family. As much as I beat myself up for not spending enough time with them, last night I was reminded why that is.

Last night I decided to visit my parents house because it was the last day that my brother and his family would be in town – I see them once every couple of years or so, so it was the polite thing to do. The TV was on and so began the search for something that everyone could watch – not too violent, not too sappy, etc. It seemed we struck gold when the 3rd installment of Harry Potter was beginning. At this point my jesus-freak half-brother stated that Harry Potter is what’s wrong with this country. My brother is sort of like the father from Douglas Coupland’s book Hey Nostradamus!, claustrophobically devout. He believes that Harry Potter and its “devil worship” is the bible to too many kids. To the defense of the rest of my family, we all argued against him commenting on the many evils this world has endured in the name of some god. How many clan members put the hood over their head with one hand because they have a bible in the other?

Any way, the argument quieted down when my brother provided the next nugget of wisdom: the other problem with this country are the gays. For me, all of the mirth and frivolity of the holiday weekend came to an abrupt end. No sense arguing with this level of close-mindedness.

No matter how much you love your family, you didn’t choose them. At times it becomes hard to believe that you could even be related. No better support for the argument that we are as much a product of our peers as our family.

Either that or my brother was simply born an ass. Either way I’m glad the long holiday weekend is over.

Best Albums of 2005

What better reason to have a blog than to create 2005 Best of Lists? Note Coldplay’s X&Y is left off because they refuse to get better. It’s not that the CD isn’t a good CD – it is. It’s that there are too many bands doing what they do and doing it better. I’ve included 4 of them on my list below.

My top 6 are essentially interchangeable as far as my rankings go, but this was my best stab.

Note – The Sufjan Stevens, The New Pornographers, Aimee Mann, Spoon, David Mead, Arcade Fire, The Decemberists, Adam Richman, Bloc Party, and Sundayrunners albums are all available on eMusic.

  1. Fiona Apple – Extraordinary Machine - I combine the version released on the internet and the version released officially as one giant extraordinary cd. Some of the songs are better on the leaked version (“Better Version of Me” for instance) and some are better on the official version (“Thymps” as an example). Either way this is a second straight masterwork for Fiona.
  2. Sleater-Kinney – The Woods - This album is the most inaccessible on my list – if you don’t like SK, then you don’t. Their harmonies are discordant; their chords are crunchy and noisy. But this album manages to do so and make songs that are catchy as all hell.
  3. Michael Penn – Mr. Hollywood Jr. 1947 – This is one of the more layered releases for me this year. While I liked it when I first listened to it, it didn’t hold me the way his last two releases did. To say it grew on me is an understatement. As literate as any Penn release – it takes serious listening to truly hear everything that’s being said.
  4. Kanye West – Late Registration – The man dissed the president and then went on to sell 2 million CDs. The song that I’ll remember from 2006 and a rap album that is a complete listen.
  5. Sufjan Stevens – Illinoise – I was afraid of this CD when I first read reviews, but it is epic. It is not folky – but it will appeal to those there. It’s not rocking, but the production will appeal to those that like indie rock.
  6. The New Pornographers – Twin Cinema – From the first song this is the catchiest CD of the year. Careful – hooks all over the place.
  7. Doves – Some Cities – Example #1 of a band better than Coldplay (in 2005). So many great songs on this album that I shake my head when I listen to it.
  8. Aimee Mann – The Forgotten Arm – Doesn’t hit me the way Bachelor No. 2 or I’m With Stupid did, but I find myself humming songs from TFA all the time.
  9. Spoon – Gimme Fiction – Example #2 of a band better than Coldplay (in 2005). If this band was British I bet everyone would know their names.
  10. Death Cab for Cutie – Plans – Example #3 of a band better than Coldplay (in 2005). The O.C. cred scared me away. They’re more substantial than that.
  11. David Mead – Wherever You Are – This 5 song EP would be top 10 if it weren’t 5 songs. That said – I like this release better than Indiana.
  12. Elbow – Leaders of the Free World – Final example of a band better than Coldplay in 2005. I think this may rate higher as I listen to it more, but I just got it.
  13. Arcade Fire – Funeral – More of the 80′s redux but done with more competence than style. Ignored in the revival of the 80′s sound but to me they’ve done the best at creating their own sound as opposed to rehashing others.
  14. The Decemberists – Picaresque – Quirky and excellent. I heard this album in January and it has sort of faded for me – still a standout.
  15. Bloc Party – Silent Alarm – Another 80′s sounding band. Not the bad 80′s stuff. Good and catchy.
  16. Adam Richman – Patience and Science – Infectious. Maybe not the most substantial release of the year, but fun to listen to.
  17. Sundayrunners – Sundayrunners – No one talks about this CD at all and that makes me think they need better marketing. Call me.

Working can get you fired

Great article on Yahoo about a Chicago workplace consultancy that has put together a list of workplace horrors. In a year when my former employer fired my friend Ryan without warning for comments he made on his blog. I’m glad to see that there are people out there willing to call out idiotic management decisions.

Snack attack Motherf@$&%er

If you haven’t seen the SNL music video Lazy Sunday starring Chris Parnell and Adam Samberg then please do yourself a favor and watch it. This may be the funniest video this year.

Note: Lazy Sunday has been removed because NBC is run by douchebags. Sorry – the video is available for $1.99 on iTunes or for free on the crap NBC website (as long as you’re running Window’s IE).

Also:

Lazy Sunday on iTunes

Merry Christmas Motherf@$&%er’s!

Sad commentary

Yesterday I loved the intelligent design ruling that came down during the day and couldn’t wait to turn on the news to hear more – the fake news that is, the Daily Show. How disappointed was I that it was a repeat? It’s telling that the best commentary comes from a fake news source.

Eugene Levy bites it too?

I like Eugene Levy. He was brilliant in A Mighty Wind and I even liked in the first American Pie. But he consistently in the worst movies – as mentioned before Cheaper by the Dozen 1 and 2, The Man, Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry met Lloyd and maybe the worst of them all – Bringing Down the House. So why am I surprised to see him in American Pie Presents: Band Camp? Straight to DVD is always a good sign for a movie.

Well he’s laughing – all the way to the bank in his Mercedes.