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What’s In a Name?

Last week, McCain told Newsweek that “I never considered myself a maverick.” (Sorry kids, time to put down the shot glasses.)  Aside from employing the great political strategy of “lying,” McCain’s recent announcement brings into sharp relief an important issue in politics: nicknames.  Think of all the impressive American appellations: George “Dubya” Bush.  Arnold “The Governator” Schwarzenegger. Lyndon “B” Johnson.  Would Adlai Stevenson have become president were it not for Eisenhower’s use of the catchy slogan “We Like Ike?”  Would Winfield Scott have been half the general he was were he not nicknamed “Old Fuss and Feathers”?  Would school children ever learn anything about Winfield Scott were he not nicknamed “Old Fuss and Feathers”?

Nicknames are more than just clever taglines.  They can seriously influence politics and change the course of American history.  In 1998, Bill Clinton was dogged by the damning name “Slick Willy,” increasing the difficulty of his arduous trek against public opinion and an impeachment-hungry Congress.  “Joe Sixpack” was one of the most contentious figures of the 2008 presidential campaign, a fact that his wife, Anne “Get-Your-Butt-Off-The-Couch-and-Clean-Up-Those-Stupid-Beer-Cans-Already” was none too happy about.  Perhaps the most memorable instance of the real impact of political monikers came during the presidency of Calvin Coolidge, when “Silent Cal”’s failure to answer his wife’s inquiry as to whether or not her bottom looked rotund in a particular dress led directly to the stock market crash of 1929.  If only Old Fuss and Feathers had been there to help.

McCain’s departure from his maverickianism is more than simply a semantic shift.  Shedding his nickname of Maverick is not only inconvenient to the publishers of his 2002 autobiography, subtitled “The Education of an American Maverick.”  It also represents the real morphing of John McCain from honorable politician to bumbling hypocrite.  For those of you who can remember back to the long lost days of last millennium, John McCain was a respected senator who built his image on being rational and untouched by party politics.  He was for immigration reform long before it was fashionable, and he was to campaign finance reform what Old Fuss and Feathers was to overcoming the handicap of being called Old Fuss and Feathers.  McCain even one-upped Walter Mondale by picking not only a woman to be his running mate, but a woman who I won’t even make fun of, because it’s just too darn easy.  McCain used to be a true maverick that even members of the Democratic Party could admire.  But with the 2008 election, that man seemed to have fled in favor of the old coot who could be found wandering around the stage during presidential debates.  He traded brains for the party line, values for votes, and integrity for a smile that will terrify young children for decades.  He lost the right to call himself a maverick long ago, and it seems that he’s only just realized it.  Where is our old John McCain?  Where are the mavericks of yesteryear?

I’ll put Old Fuss and Feathers on the case.



I would like to begin today’s post by apologizing for the absence of posts this past week.  I blame the liberal media establishment.

Even though I took a short leave of absence, the world rudely kept generating news anyway:  Justice Stevens announced his retirement,  the latest papal scandal was blown wide open, and Kyrgyzstan finally succeeded in its quest to make it onto American national television (“Pat, I’d like to buy a vowel”).  However, while all of these events seem momentous today, none of them can hold a candle to one truly astounding development with real, long-term implications; luckily I stumbled across it while reading a completely respectable news source.  Dear readers, I recently learned that the cast of Jersey Shore has been blacklisted from numerous clubs in Miami while attempting to film for their next season.  Oh my gawd.

For the untanned, unjacked among you who have never lived your life by the code of GTL (Gym, Tan, Laundry), Jersey Shore is MTV’s smash hit reality show following the exploits of eight self-proclaimed “guidos” and “guidettes” as they live it up at the Jersey Shore.  From ingenious dialogue (“I am all natural. I have real boobs. I have a nice fat ass. Look at this sh*t, I mean, come on, I’m hot”) to illuminating social insight (“they don’t understand that ‘guidos’ and ‘guidettes’ are good-looking people that, you know, like to make a scene and be the center of attention and just take care of themselves”), Jersey Shore has captivated the hearts and minds of the 4% of the American population that they have managed not to offend.

Let us then turn to the issue at hand.  How could any proprietor refuse service to a  [questionably] sentient mass of booze and testosterone that goes around punching people?  Honestly, what type of example are they setting for their children if they discriminate against the tanned, the gelled, and the moronic?  This is America—people have the right to bare arms so that they can fist pump to their hearts’ content.  The club owners are violating these young people’s rights to be demeaning to women, Italian-Americans, and the congenitally pale alike.

Incorporating requests from Astute Readers for more poetry and my deep-set conviction in life, liberty, and the pursuit of slap-happiness, I have composed a verse to help mend the rift between the Miami clubs and our orange comrades:

Dear Miami Club Owners,

There once was a class act named Snooki

Whose ‘do rivaled that of a wookie.

To make some quick dough, later go watch the show

Then “guess” when she’ll pass out. Call your bookie!


Yesterday was the day that Apple released the iPad, causing a hullabaloo, a hubbub, and one brouhaha for good luck.  Yesterday, technology nerds queued up outside their local Apple stores, lining the sidewalks in order to get their hands on the hottest product from today’s hottest company—sorry, cast of Chicago.  (The police who had been hired for crowd control were later dispatched to their local Rite Aids to calm down hordes of confused, chocolate-clutching boyfriends roaming the feminine products aisles.)  Yesterday was also the day on which I confirmed my previous suspicions that iAmaneanderthal.

The iPad, for those who have been living under an old-fashioned rock without wireless access, is a tablet computer that combines the features of the iPhone and a laptop.  Featuring a touch screen and “magical” features—you just have to tap it and say, “mischief managed” in order to block other users from accessing your documents—, the iPad is designed to be the future of accessing the web, email, photos and video.  While it has frustrated techies with its finicky keyboard and inability to run multiple programs at once, Apple’s latest gadget, like technology’s [more] egotistical Tom Cruise, had the average person at “i.”

But just like my mom has always told me, I am clearly not an average person.  I still like to read my books in print, use my telephone for phone calls, and until recently, thought that ‘Snooki’ was some form of baked good (I wasn’t necessarily too far off on the baked aspect).  And unlike most people who stereotypically hold these views, I am under the age of seventy-six.  Suck it, Robert Byrd.

As a token sub-septuagenarian, I am here to say that iDontgetit.  Technology is fantastic in that it can enrich our lives; from Robert Jarvick’s artificial heart to Rod Blagojevich’s artificial hair, innovation and science have combined to produce what was once pure fantasy.  But what purpose does the iPad serve?  Steve Jobs can say iProfit and gadget junkies can claim iCraveit, but otherwise, it seems that most people are left with a rather unusable laptop, or a cell phone roughly the size and shape of Wyoming.  I don’t understand spending unfathomable dollars to develop a product that combines two others so as to decrease the efficiency of both of them, and  I don’t understand standing on line for hours to get such a product that will undoubtedly be upstaged by the iPaded next week.  I’m not too proud to admit that iJustdontgetit.  And so, I refuse to get sucked into the iPad craze.  I refuse to rush out to get an Apple tablet to go with an Apple laptop, Apple phone, and Apple mp3 player.

But next year, iWontargueifigetitformybirthday.

[Disclaimer: despite the fact that this was posted on April 1st, the subject matter of the post is not fictional]

April 1st has tended to be a momentous day year after year.  1948 saw the beginnings of the Berlin Airlift, and the Department of Transportation began its operation in 1967.  Today we celebrate not only the ninth anniversary of the Netherlands becoming the first country to legalize same sex marriage, but also the eighth anniversary of the Netherlands becoming the first country to legalize euthanasia, thus lowering the Dutch divorce rate significantly. But, as we all know, none of these accomplishments amount to a hill of garbanzos compared to one truly incredible development of four years ago: April 1st, 2006 will live forever in our memories as the day that the Serious Organized Crime Agency was created in the United Kingdom.

The Serious Organized Crime Agency (abbreviated as HAHA) was created as part of the 2005 Serious Organized Crime and Police Act.  After discarding such possible names as The We-Really-Mean-It-Cross-My-Heart-And-Hope-To-Die Organized Crime Agency, the Serious Organized Crime Agency began embarking on its mission to “increase the risk to serious organized criminals.”  Falling prey to the ambiguity of this mission, the Serious Organized Crime Agency made quite a splash on the international crime scene by stealing criminals’ Blackberries and resetting the passwords to their calendars.  Currently, the Serious Organized Crime Agency is in the midst of “Operation Return.” This initiative looks to catch serious criminals hiding in one of the most serious countries in the world: yes, you guessed it, the homophilic, euthanthusiastic, Netherlands.

So let’s take a moment today to appreciate the magic of April 1st, and to thank God for allowing us to celebrate the fourth anniversary of the Serious Organized Crime Agency—and for providing us with a venue to say Serious Organized Crime Agency.  And for those readers in the seriously lovely lowlands of the Netherlands, should you see serious 67 year old Brian Bradshaw of Surrey—identifiable by the tattoo “Ernie” on his right forearm and a “flower” on his left forearm—please contact the Serious Organized Crime Agency.  Seriously.

If I Had A Million Dollars

If I had the good fortune to be given millions of dollars in political donations, the first thing that I would do would be to hire a good plumber.  Maybe he could salvage the real Joseph Lieberman from the cranky crone who now sits in his senate seat and seems to be full of crap (I’ll give that one a minute to sink in).  I would then move on to the second item on my wish list: spending  $1,946.25 of my party’s money at a venue that describes itself as “a destination for provocative revelry that combines eroticism and nightlife exclusivity.”  I hoped to be the first to accomplish this feat, but just like with my plan to take a road trip with my dog Sparky strapped to the roof of my car, the Republican Party managed to beat me to it.  This Monday saw the Republican National Committee open an investigation as to why nearly $2000 worth of donations designed to help reclaim seats during midterm elections were spent to pay a tab at Voyeur in West Hollywood. “Why not?” was not deemed to be an acceptable answer.

Before you lose your faith in the integrity of your elected officials, allow me to explain the situation.  First off, Voyeur—despite the scantily clad woman with 47 inch heels on the front page of its website—is not a strip club.  As Sarah Waldman, the director of special events at Voyeur stated in the New York Times, “We cater to a high-end, A-list clientele with live art installations with a voyeuristic theme.”  Donors should be further mollified when they learn that risqué photography and film displays (with impromptu performances) contribute to the venue’s decorative theme; the interior design was inspired by the orgy scene in Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut, Martin Scorsese’s fourth favorite film of the 1990s (Seriously).  The Republican officials were probably just admiring the cultural value of this building while being given the opportunity to exercise their own creativity in the photo booth that, according to Waldman’s press release, “allows uninhibited guests to create their own stills.” (For the sake of all that is right and good in the world, please say that they did not do this. Or if they did, that the evidence never surfaces. Ever.) Lord knows that these gentlemen need to buff up their creative skills (AND NOTHING ELSE) if they wish to fulfill the title of Republic National Committee Chairman Michael Steele’s book, Right Now: A 12-Step Program for Defeating the Obama Agenda. [I’ve gotten several comments about this–this is the actual title of his book. Really.]  Republicans will have to work even harder to fulfill the promise of John McCain’s soon-to-be classic Are You There, God? It’s Me, Maverick.

Dear Readers, please do not judge these men too harshly. Who can fault politicians for wanting to escape the stodginess of D.C. in order to bond with the common folk, like Lindsay Lohan and other Hollywood residents who can afford the $2000 table charge?  Perhaps had we been presented with the donations, we would have spent it differently (NB: if you wish to donate to the Brett Needs Some Dough Fund, I would be happy to help and take your money).  Maybe we would have worked towards a reconciliation on the health care bill that, despite being passed, is still a mess.  Maybe we would have paid for one haircut for Mitt Romney.  Maybe we would have used it in the service of the purpose for which it was actually intended.  But that, my friends, is why you and I aren’t the ones in office.