Clearly not denim

Fifty-five pounds (sterling) will get you these MOTO jeans from Topshop and probably a few instances of the old side-eye:

Plastic jeans from Topshop

The explanation:

Think outside the box with these out-of-the-ordinary clear plastic jeans — guaranteed to get people talking. In a straight leg cut, they feature classic pockets detailing and are cropped at the ankle bone. Ideal as a statement piece for a festival or costume party, take the look to the extreme with a bikini and sequin jacket or dress down, layered under an oversized jumper or asymmetric hem dress.

Oh, yes: it’s machine-washable.

(Via Emily Zanotti, who cites this item as evidence that Topshop is just trolling us.)

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It begins with a nut

So-called “fake news” never sounded this fake:

If the fringe of the fringe of conspiracy theorists are to be believed, shape-shifting interdimensional reptilians from royal bloodlines are trying to thin the herd of humanity by covertly sterilizing the masses.

While the jury is still out on that wild claim, we do know for sure that a member of the British royal family has approved the large-scale forced sterilization of that other invasive mammalian species: squirrels. But it gets darker.

The members of this anti-squirrel cabal will be using everyone’s favorite “hazelnut” spread to do their bidding.

Wait. Hazelnuts? What?

According to The Independent, Prince Charles approved this plan during a meeting with the Illuminati-sounding UK Squirrel Accord, an association of 32 woodland, timber industry, and conservation organizations whose professed goal is to keep “red squirrel populations protected and thriving and greys controlled, through targeted and sustained action.”

Those targeted and sustained actions are set to include luring greys into a trap containing Nutella laced with GonaCon, a vaccine that sterilizes mammals by suppressing the hormones necessary for reproduction.

In other news, the United Kingdom has a Squirrel Accord. Sounds like something Chuck Windsor would come up with, don’t you think?

(Via Emily Zanotti.)

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No accounting for these people

The story begins here:

As she tells it on FB:

Got a letter in the mail from ACS student loan processing. It seems my loan was dumped out of a special program that lowered my interest rate because “two payments were returned for insufficient funds.” They then warned that they were contacting the credit reporting agencies because I am such a deadbeat.

Well, given that that loan payment was $100, I was curious as to how that happened, because I don’t think I’ve been that broke since I actually *was in law school.* So I look online — all on-time payments; I hadn’t had a late payment since *2014.*

Until October of 2016.

It turns out, at that time, my loan had a mere $.15 left on it. But ACS can’t process a check for less than $1.00. So every time they tried to process my payment of $.15, the computer registered a problem and the payment got declined.

So, for two months, I was a deadbeat ACS client. Over $.15. And they were going to put my account in default and tank my credit.

Now, it turns out, they still can’t take payments of less than $1.00. So I have to *overpay* on a student loan that is almost completely paid off by $.86, so that the payment will be $1.01.

I told them they should put it toward a new computer.

Or to hire someone with half (0.4 to 0.6, anyway) a brain.

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Gathering on the right

One of the more interesting people on both the right side of the aisle and my left column on TweetDeck is Lisa De Pasquale, author of the novel Finding Mr. Righteous and for five years the head of the Conservative Political Action Committee. Amazingly, Jezebel snagged her for an interview, and while their angle was primarily CPAC’s lack of, um, diversity of a specific nature, they did pop a lot of good questions, one of which drew my attention because her answer ends with a universal truth:

Who is the nicest politician or personality you’ve dealt with behind the scenes? The meanest? (If you don’t want to name names, can you drop a general hint or two?)

Aside from people like Ann Coulter who I already knew, the nicest was Rush Limbaugh. Not only was he extremely nice, but very humble. He didn’t have an entourage or any backstage demands. Backstage he asked what had been the biggest news from the conference. I don’t remember what I said, but the reality was he was going to be the biggest news of the conference. That he was genuinely interested in the conference made me proud of the work my team and I had done. He also personally signed 100 or so Limbaugh Letters for our volunteers. I should mention that the man responsible for making his speech happen was the recently departed Kit Carson. He was a great man who, like Limbaugh, was always interested in other people’s opinions.

I won’t name names on the meanest, but I will say it’s never the A-listers. It’s always the B or C-list people who are demanding and impatient. They act like divas because they think that is how important people act.

This may be one of the reasons why I’m still on the D-list after all these years.

The description of Limbaugh is consistent with others I’ve seen: he saves his bombast for the airwaves. (If you didn’t know Carson, he was the “Chief of Staff” at Limbaugh’s EIB Network; he passed away in January after a four-year battle with brain cancer.) And Rush will happily tell you that he’s not really interested in other people’s opinions, which is why he has no guests on the show, but this, too, is part of the act.

Nor was this the only worthy maxim De Pasquale uttered:

CPAC has a history of allowing groups that are controversial. If you put two conservatives in a room they will fight about something, so it’s impossible to get consensus on anything.

Ain’t that the truth.

Meanwhile, Emily Zanotti provides an overview of CPAC today:

CPAC is an event for choirs and not conversions. In the last few years, it’s gained a notoriety that has made it a public spectacle, but the true purpose of the Conservative Political Action Conference is to impress the hordes of College Republicans, with their Brooks Brothers finery and their as-yet-unpickeled livers, and the elderly crowd that has been coming to these things since the first Republican presidential candidate painted his foreign policy on a cave wall — not to preach to the disenfranchised independents and unmoored moderates. The candidates have all the depth of a Lego mini-figurine and the speeches are as nuanced and complex as a made-for-television marine life-motivated disaster movie. And that’s just how it’s supposed to be, especially at the start of a presidential election cycle, when potential candidates are trying to live up to impressive double standards set for them by a party that is, itself, in flux. Everyone who presented himself to the crowd amassed at National Harbor had something to prove, specifically to conservatives, whether that was that they were conservative enough, that they were thoughtful enough, that they were tough enough, or that they were capable of mounting a campaign that did more than annoy network television anchors forced to divert more than thirty seconds of their broadcast away from fawning coverage of Hillary Clinton’s breakfast choices.

How seriously you take this event, it appears, depends on a lot of things besides ideology.

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Disliking the overall effect

This is the sort of flat statement you (meaning “I”) just don’t see that often:

I mean, this is someone who can wear almost anything and make it look wonderful. So I had to find out where she draws the line, and apparently it’s here:

Tulle-Skirt Overall Dress by Urban Renewal

Now admittedly this probably skews a little young for a married woman with a J.D., but — oh, hell, I don’t know. Talk it up amongst yourselves.

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They couldn’t get Juan Tsuris?

I missed this episode, and in retrospect, I think it was an exercise of good hindsight-based judgment:

[O]n Wednesday’s Law & Order: SVU, a politician, who “wants to be mayor of New York,” is accused of sending lewd pictures to a young woman online. The man’s pseudonym isn’t Carlos Danger, but it’s pretty close: He goes by Enrique Trouble.

Enrique Trouble? RUFKMe? This is as improbable as that story about Johnny Depp booking hotel rooms as “Mr. Donkey Penis.” (Depp says he hasn’t, but that he has been “Emma Roid.”)

And Emily Zanotti notes that enough liberties were taken with Anthony Weiner’s story to suggest that “he probably won’t be asking for royalties.” On the other hand, wouldn’t it be hilarious if he did?

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Big Obsolete Al

Al Sharpton has been busily raising his profile of late, most likely because he needs to be busily raising some money:

Federal filings show his failed 2004 presidential campaign remains nearly a million dollars in debt.

The campaign still owes the Federal Election Commission (FEC) more than $200,000 in fines for a litany of nearly decade-old election law violations, a new quarterly FEC report details.

The campaign’s outstanding debts, including its FEC fine, total $925,713.78, according to its most recent quarterly report.

Notes Emily Zanotti:

Apparently, the FEC has been consistently badgering Sharpton for the money, though members of the National Legal and Policy Center, which filed the initial complaints against Sharpton for his 2004 Presidential farce, note that Sharpton cares about his legal problems and his debts about as much as he cares about the true state of discourse on racial equality in America, which is to say, pretty much not at all.

And Sharpton’s gig at MSNBC produces much heat, but no light, and damn little in the way of ratings.

No comment from Tawana Brawley at this writing.

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Cabinet repairs

Penny Pritzker has been nominated to head the Department of Commerce, presumably on the basis of her cash-bundling abilities. She would replace Rebecca Blank, interim Secretary since John Bryson took ill last year. (That’s “Blank.” With an N.)

Is this worth three hundred words? Perhaps not:

It’s clear that presidents need the Department of Commerce, so they have a place to stash their friends who’ve brought in the cash. But it’s not clear that the rest of us need a Department of Commerce. A bit of research shows Americans were engaged in commerce even before we became a country. Colonists farmed, fished and traded like crazy. And that was more than a century before the Department of Commerce was formed in 1903. Amazing!

Everyone’s supposedly looking for places to cut wasteful government spending. Instead of laying off air traffic controllers, we could turn the knife toward Commerce. Don’t just leave it without a leader, go ahead and shut down the while thing and let’s see what happens. Probably nobody’ll even notice, as is the case with most of the sequester cuts.

Both Rick Perry and Ron Paul, during their 2012 Presidential campaigns, proposed the abolition of Commerce. And so did Barack Obama, kinda sorta:

Mr. Obama called on lawmakers to grant him broad new powers to propose mergers of agencies, which Congress would then have to approve or reject in an up-or-down vote. If granted the authority, he said, he would begin pruning by folding the Small Business Administration and five other trade and business agencies into a single agency that would replace the Commerce Department.

The White House estimated that the consolidation would save $3 billion over 10 years and result in reductions of 1,000 to 2,000 jobs.

Now $3 billion is to the Feds what the change under your sofa cushions is to you; still, the idea of anything in Washington being shrunk has a certain visceral appeal.

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Or you could just blame Mitt

There are probably as many explanations and/or excuses for why the GOP came a cropper last fall as there are Republicans. E. M. Zanotti attempted to explain the situation on Facebook:

The problem with 2012 was three-fold: (1) bad candidates, (2) bad staff, (3) bad marketing. We have bad candidates because the party doesn’t seem to want to undertake the responsibility of actually grooming them — they either pick the next in line, or they let the grassroots “tea party” out their candidates and then gripe when they can’t throw enough money at someone to win. There’s no candidate development at all at the party level. [Two] is also a party problem — the GOP doesn’t reward talent or ingenuity, they reward longevity. That’s why people who have been in the party ten years, who started when smart phones were just a novelty, are considered “digital gurus” — because they don’t know any different and don’t care to. and (3), the party AND the grassroots insist that if we just yell louder and act crazier eventually someone will notice. The Dems did something crazy in 2008: [they] empowered voters who were told to vote but not to research. The problem? No matter how energized your base is, low-information voters won’t respond to the base-energizing message, so you NEED to have both a communications strategy to your already-engaged public, AND a strategy that takes on people who aren’t going to do any investigation before casting your vote. You have to compete on the ground and the airwaves. As much as the GOP wants to believe things haven’t changed since the early 2000s, they have.

Speaking for the establishment, Byron York in a post-election post mortem in the Washington Examiner:

On one end of the spectrum are those who stress the GOP’s failure to appeal to Hispanics and other minorities, arguing that the party must make fundamental changes to broaden its appeal. On the other end are those who stress the GOP’s failure to master even the basics of voter turnout in the last election, along with the flawed candidacy of Mitt Romney, arguing that the party does not need to change its principles or message so much as learn the turnout and messaging techniques used so successfully by the competition.

At this point in its history, the GOP is not capable of grasping the idea that both sides might be correct. The Democrats clearly have it easier, having demonstrated that they can believe as many as six impossible things before breakfast.

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The 17-ounce solution

You probably always suspected that Nanny Bloomberg’s soda-cup fixation was full of holes, and the New York Supreme Court (I think that’s the one) has now pointed out those holes using the mighty Permanent Injunction.

The biggest hole? Capricious and arbitrary rules:

[T]he Big Gulp didn’t fall under the Board of Health regulations, which is part of the reason the Supreme Court was so keen on striking down the prohibition. Convenience stores like 7-11 were excluded from the law, meaning that while a person couldn’t Super-Size their beverage at a corner McDonalds, they could obtain a bucket of soda easily twice as large at the Stop ‘n Shop across the street. Supermarkets, which like most major businesses are licensed and regulated by the state of New York, were also exempt, laying enforcement of the law at the feet of independent restaurants, mobile food vendor stands, and food truck proprietors who got their licenses to operate from the city. And, of course, there was no ban on simply purchasing multiple 16oz drinks instead of just one exceedingly large drink. All the ban really would end up doing is cutting into the profits of New York businesses that pay their taxes directly to the city, and cutting into the choices that New Yorkers should, by all rights, be allowed to make for themselves.

But that’s an insignificant detail when people’s health and well-being are on the line! And you know Mayor Bloomberg hates having to share a subway seat with an overweight rider. When he rides the subway. Which is probably never. But still.

Nanny’s minions will of course appeal. In the meantime, I’m opening up a two-liter (67.6 ounces, dammit) Dr Pepper to celebrate.

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Pretty little budget liars

Now if you ask me, this is the definitive word on the Dread Sequester:

[T]he Sequester has become the high school drama queen of budget cuts. Instead of working the problem out rationally, making strategic cuts to bloated, ineffective or, even better, non-existent government programs, the Sequester levies 2.3% cuts across the board to useful and non-useful programs without critical distinction, tears its $200 prom dress to shreds, pulls out its hair extensions by the roots, locks itself in the bathroom, takes six days worth of Vitamin D caplets and claims to be thiiiis close to killing itself over the toilet unless you extend its curfew by one hour. You want budget cuts, fine. Consider yourself to have one less budget to cut.

And what do the perennial adolescents in the Congress do? Exactly what you’d think:

Republicans are responding to this in typical Republican fashion. You want to slice up the federal government and make us fly coach where we don’t get free alcohol and those fluffy fleece blankets? Fine. I hope your Medicaid patients who will determine the public relations results of this disaster starve to death in the streets. The Democrats, on the other hand, have taken to scaring the sh*t out of Americans. First, the government was going to shut down. Then, everyone’s paychecks were going to be late.

After living for nearly three years with a 32.3-percent budget cut, I figure I’m overqualified for Congress. Then again, I have a conscience, which makes me fundamentally unfit for the job anyway.

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As he throws his pants into the ring

Mark Sanford, South Carolina politician and philanderer, not necessarily in that order, is running for the Congressional seat he held for three terms. You might remember that he’d once pledged to serve only three terms, but apparently all that hiking on the Appalachian trail has affected his memory.

Politico reports:

“I’m not in any way unaware of how I’ve let you down. I’m not in any way unaware of my well-chronicled failings as a human being,” Sanford told a Hilton Head Island Republican group last week, in the first public speech of his campaign. “But I am equally aware that God forgives people who are imperfect.”

Then again, God, from what I’m given to understand, expects some sort of contrition. And judgment from the heavenly host could scarcely be harsher than this:

Thankfully, Sanford is at least not running as a “family values” candidate, though it could be said that he was so committed to families that he tried to have two of them at once.

I’ve lived in SC 1, though not since the Mendel Rivers days. What I learned, way back then, was that if you transgress, you do a careful fade into the background and never trouble anyone again. (Southern honor, doncha know.) Apparently things have changed.

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Biden: his time?

Emily ponders the possibility of a Joe Biden Presidential campaign in 2016:

I would normally say “no, oh, please, God, no,” but the GOP have yet to debut a leading candidate with (1) any chance of winning and (2) any chance of making it through the election process without completely embarrassing the party, the party’s history and all party progeny through time immemorial. Granted, Ol’ Uncle Joe is an original drafter of the PATRIOT ACT and has an unfortunate tendency to say exactly what he’s thinking, but Joe’s good with the ladies, can pass off the subtleties of faux compassion with the best of them, and the Democratic bench isn’t all that deep unless you want Sandra Lee that painfully close to being First Lady … and unless you’ve got your eye on President Debbie Wasserman Schultz, that is.

Perish the thought. Besides, there is an upside:

[L]et’s face it, if Joe were in office, the Presidency would be a hell of a lot more interesting. And you know exactly what I mean: kegs in the China room, official state-sanctioned beer pong tournaments, Presidential Chex Mix and formal events that involve formal leather jackets.

And if it should come down to Joe versus Hillary? I will be observing at a safe distance through heavy lenses.

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Avoiding the fiscal cliff

The lovely and talented E. M. Zanotti, hoping to ward off Complete Financial Collapse, proposes several revenue-enhancement measures:

  • $10 tax everytime someone uses the phrase, “my bad.”
  • 20% penalty tax on anyone who ordered an apple martini after 1998.
  • 40% tax on anyone who buys World Series, Super Bowl, Stanley Cup winners’ merchandise post-facto. Double if Heat or Yankees win.
  • $100 penalty on anyone who uses a Bluetooth earpiece.
  • Tribal tattoo? $30 per year tax. Tramp Stamp? $50. Double if it’s a butterfly.
  • 50% additional income tax on anyone listing their primary occupation as “reality television star.”
  • $1000 penalty for every unnecessarily tinted car window.
  • Immediate institution of the Axe Body Spray Tax.

Read the whole list under the hashtag #emilysfiscalcliffsolutions.

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The “nuke them from orbit” option

Because sending checks won’t do the job:

I grew up in Detroit. A couple of million dollars to a car company (that borrowed even more tax dollars to “pay their loan back”) isn’t gonna save a city that has more crack houses than able-bodied workers, and more wild dogs than new ideas. Detroit has suffered from half a century of poor leadership, from jerks who bulldozed functioning black neighborhoods in the sixties in favor of project housing, to Coleman Young who spewed so much anti-white hatred at the suburbs they kept moving the borders further and further out, to mid-90s car companies so convinced that gas-guzzling SUVs were the wave of the future that they made deals with union devils that paid 95% pensions and $30 an hour for workers to sleep. Detroit isn’t going to be rescued by hope and change.

An atom bomb that forces the population to scatter and the city to rebuild, maybe, but not an empty suit with platitudes about glowing days ahead. Bears are moving back into the city. You can buy a house for less than it costs to buy a car. In the public school book depository, the books are turning back into trees.

In which case, we may not need the nukes: just let entropy run its course. Same result, lower initial expenditure.

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Quote of the week

Sarah Palin stumping for the Sarah Steelman campaignThe very first post I did about Sarah Palin was in early 2007, when she was so far under the radar she’d practically have to wear ridiculous shoes to be seen. The GOP attempted to buy her some sartorial splendor, evidently to negligible effect, since she seems to be transitioning to completely ridiculous outfits:

I’m not sure which thought bothers me more: that she chose to wear this outfit all by her lonesome, or that someone picked the outfit for her and she willingly consented to wearing it. This is not okay. This is not even close to okay. This is not even a trailer in the wilderness on the outskirts of the county of okay. This is somewhere between falling into the laundry pile in your fifteen-year-old daughter’s bedroom and the public speaking component of a VH1 reality show about alcoholic motorcycle cougars with social anxiety disorder.

Of course, in Alaska they dress in the dark six months out of the year, or something like that. As Allison Iraheta might say, “Don’t waste the pretty.”

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Happy rather than dignified

If you thought having Abraham Lincoln hunt vampires was the lowest form of literary revisionism, you ain’t seen nothing yet:

A publisher of adult fiction is giving literary classics such as Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice an erotic makeover.

The company said that it was “100% convinced” that there was a market for the racy versions of the 19th century novels by authors Charlotte Brontë and Jane Austen and that the spicing up of the much-loved books will introduce the classics to “a new generation of readers”.

Other titles to be published under the Clandestine Classics collection include Austen’s Northanger Abbey and Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories featuring Sherlock Holmes.

The luminous E. M. Zanotti, noting that it’s all the fault of Fifty Shades of Grey, comments:

I’m a little curious as to whether they’ll do Wuthering Heights. Because if there’s anything a book about creepy, incestuous baby-making needs, it’s graphic play-by-play.

I worry that if this sort of thing catches on, eventually the originals will be looked upon as the Expurgated Versions.

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Rice on the menu?

Condoleeza Rice in England 2008For some inexplicable reason, Drudge was pushing this notion for a few days: Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as Mitt Romney’s running mate. Not gonna happen, though:

I’d like to believe it, but I don’t. While Condi is a strong, powerful, intelligent woman who projects confidence and has rarely been tripped up by reporters, the wounds of the Bush administration are still too fresh. If Obama’s campaign is intent on claiming that eight years of Bush left the country in such a shambles they need eight years of Mom Jeans to repair it, why campaign on bringing the Bush years back? And while social issues are unlikely to be a major priority this election (unless the Obama campaign needs a carefully-timed distraction), social conservatives are still influential enough to throw an effective temper tantrum over Rice’s moderately pro-choice views, and that’s a fight Mitt Romney can’t afford to engage in with his history.

Although she does have one distinct quality going for her:

[S]he’s not a boring old white dude, and the GOP could certainly use less boring old white dudes. Boring old white dudes are so 2004, although, while Joe Biden and Dick Cheney are both boring old white dudes, one would definitely be an excellent drinking buddy (especially if you got him wasted in a particularly ethnic neighborhood) and the other could shoot your face off.

Dr Rice is one year younger than I am. I wonder if I qualify for “boring old white dude” yet. This particular professional panderer certainly does.

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Some shower this is

What sort of couple would forgo wedding gifts in favor of a donation to the Obama reelection campaign? This kind, apparently:

Oh, you know the type. “Wedding” is probably not anywhere on the invitation because “marriage” is an outdated, Patriarchal concept that is merely a manifestation of the sexism inherent in the relationship between people who society has instructed belong to separate genders, when we know that gender is just really a cultural construct, so we’re really having a “handfasting” or a “sand-combining” or some other pagan hippie sh*t in a re-purposed garage or a “alternative wedding location.” And there won’t be dancing or booze or anything because although we’re totally celebrating our decision to commit our lives to each other, we want to stress that the end result for all married couples is either death or divorce. And the food will be vegan. And sourced from Dumpsters.

Worst goddam wedding ever.

This, of course, is the best wedding ever, and yes, it involves herbivores.

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Sounds like “hormones”

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