Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Take the Olive Garden and the points

Spam of the day: OLIVE GARDEN VS. RED LOBSTER ...

I’ve got the Garden and the points. I mean, we’re talking incidence of botulism and food poisoning, right?

I made my choice after using the Waffle House Theorem (named for the junk food chain with the highest incidence of what the Department of Health calls "critical violations*")

Junk food restaurant + lobsters = botulism

Then there's Chili's corollary:

Junk food restaurant + employees who don't wash their hands after they shit + lobsters = salmonella/coli poisoning plus some rare neurological diseases.

Olive Garden serves fewer shellfish, so the diseases it induces in its patrons presumably are limited to those caused by run-of-the-mill harmful bacteria.

Here is the Gang of 60's latest Fast Food Illness Fantasy League Hit List:

1. Waffle House -- "Bless me, Father..."
2. IHOP -- "Nerve damage never tasted this good."
3. Outback -- "The dingo ate my lower intestine."
4. Ruby Tuesday -- "Sounds like a dyke bar. Tastes like a cheeseburger-flavored douche."
5. Appleby's -- "Home of the next pandemic flu virus." (Bonus irony points for their ad in which two soi-disant Madison Avenue hipsters sing "Mack the Knife," substituting lyrics describing Appleby's nauseating menu for Brecht's savage anti-capitalist allegory.)
6. TGIF -- "One hundred thousand Turkish prisoners can't be wrong."
7. Chili's -- "Montezuma's Revenge is a dish best served with our burrito grande."
8. Red Lobster -- "Why dumpster dive when you can eat at Red Lobster?"
9. Bob Evans -- "Enjoy our signature sausage, made from genetically modified pigs. May include some human."
10. Denny's -- "Try our new Ultimate Bowl breakfast: Scrambled eggs and buttermilk pancakes piled high with ham, sausage, and bacon in a creamy cheese sauce topped with cheddar cheese and Lipitor."

*such things as letting food sit out too long, employees not washing their hands after going to the bathroom and then serving food, rats and roaches in the kitchen.

Monday, May 29, 2006

The Al Gore-John Kerry Summer Replacement Hour

I see from commendatory pieces in New York magazine and elsewhere that Al Gore -- or, rather, his image -- has been rehabilitated. Formerly known as a comically wooden, pedantic centrist from a politically aristocratic family, the "new" Al Gore is a passionate environmentalist and dissident critic of the Bush Administration who has learned from his mistakes and seen the light in his exile from Washington. A guy who, having been unleashed from the constrictions of his courtier-pollster-image consultants, now calls things as he sees them, who is being viewed by an increasing number of Democratic politicos as a viable presidential candidate in 2008.

The Nation ran a similar editorial about John Kerry in its May 29 issue. Entitled "The New Kerry," it depicted a newly emboldened senator, "freed from the grip of consultants, the spotlight of the national media and the Republican attack dogs," speaking out against the Iraq war to "wildly enthusiastic crowds."

"Call it the Al Gore Effect," says the writer, Ari Berman.

Yes, the Al Gore Effect. You know, drowsiness, forgetfulness, dissociation from reality, a nauseating feeling of deja vu.

Who are they kidding? The very fact that Gore and Kerry only now -- when nothing's at stake and relatively few are watching -- are articulating a more progressive, openly anti-war stance demonstrates their cowardice under pressure.

Gore, America's own Marshal Petain, who quietly stepped aside as the Fascists rolled their tanks into Florida -- an act of cowardice with devastating results for America and the world that indirectly is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands. When Earth was truly in the balance, he skulked out of town.

As for Kerry, the Nation writer says, "After years of vacillation, he has found his voice on Iraq."

Ah, just in time ... to stop the invasion, the illegal war, the concentration camps, the My Lai-like massacres.

Might I suggest that his sudden conversion to the antiwar ranks, like that of Gore, has nothing to do with inner transformation and everything to do with the shifting public stance toward the war? Ah, but their defenders would call that analysis cynical. That's rich, ain't it?

But the Democratic voters aren't buying Kerry's latest reinvention. Polls show him behind Hillary, 57 percent to 30. And in an online straw poll on the progressive site, he garnered a whopping three percent.

Let's face it: Gore and Kerry are summer replacements, not talented enough for prime time stardom. Unable both to articulate and defend a coherent set of values. But appealing to the political and media elite for the very reason that they don't threaten the established capitalist consumer war machine. They're safe, political pablum. The Tony Orlando and Dawn of politics.

I combined my reflections on Gore with my memories of TV past, and this came out:


OPEN ON: Variety show set.


Live from a rapidly warming Earth, it’s the Al Gore Musical-Comedy-Environmental Summer Replacement Hour. With special guests Bono, Cameron Diaz, and the House Ways and Means Committee, and special musical guest Bono again. And now here’s your host, the guy who used to be the next president of the United States, Al Gore!

Enter GORE. Applause.


Thank you. My friends know me as Al, but you can call me Your Adequacy.

SFX: Canned laughter.


As you know, we’re a summer replacement show. So to all those of you tuning in and expecting to see “Deal or No Deal,” well, it’s No Deal.

SFX: Canned laughter.


You know, at first I was insulted when they told us we were only going to be a summer replacement. But then I remembered that with global warming, summer might last for the next five thousand years. We’re going to lead off with sketch that I think is a real gas. (beat) Not a greenhouse gas, though.

SFX: Canned laughter.

(to the tech crew, offscreen)

O.K., fellas. Let ‘er rip.

CUT TO: PowerPoint screen.


An Irishman, an Italian, and a Jew All Walk Into a Bar

An Analysis of the Diagnosis and Treatment of Alcoholism


An Irishman, an Italian, and a Jew all walk into a bar.


They each order a beer.


Prevalance of Alcoholism Among Ethnic Groups in the U.S., 2000

Native American: 65.3 %
Irish American 54.8 %
Scotch American 43.6 %
Scandinavian American 39.1 %
African American 32.9%
Hispanic American 23.7%
Italian American 11.0 %
Jewish American 2.3%


A few minutes later, a fly flies into the bar.


First it lands in the Italian guy’s beer.


Incidence of Vermin Infestations in Taverns, Restaurants, and Nightclubs, U.S., 2000 (per 100 venues)

Cockroaches – 78.4
Rats – 22.5
Mice – 10.8
Flies – 8.1
Termites – 5.6
Fire Ants – 1.25
Beer-Drinking Flies – 0.4


“Oh, I can't drink this! It has a fly in it!” the Italian guy says.


Next, the fly lands in the Jewish guy’s beer.
“Oh, I can't drink this! It has a fly in it!” the Jewish guy says.


Finally, the fly lands in the Irish guy’s beer.
Without hesitation, the Irish guy chugs the entire beer, fly and all.


Yearly Costs of Alcoholism in U.S. Dollars

$300 Billion Overall
$71 Billion Direct Costs
22,000 Deaths
2,000,000 Injuries
4,600,000 Damaged Vehicles
20-25 % of Healthcare Budget
90% of Liver Disease
72 % of Pancreatitis
41% of Seizure Disorders
13% of Breast Cancers


The Italian guy and the Jewish guy are shocked.
“You know there was a fly in your beer, don’t you?” the Italian guy asks.


“Of course I knew,” the Irish guy exclaims.


DSM-IV Criteria for Alcohol Abuse

1. Failure to Fulfill Major Role Obligations
2. Use in Hazardous Situations
3. Legal Problems
4. Use Despite Problems
5. Use Despite Spotting a Fly in One’s Beer


“I wasn’t about to let that son of a bitch steal my beer!”


What the Italian guy and Jewish guy should have done:

Asked the Irish guy about…

Problems in:



Well, according to the latest Insta-Laugh polls, thirty-eight percent of registered Democrats thought the sketch was funny, thirty-nine percent of Republicans, and twenty-three percent of Independents. To all you Independents out there, here’s why you should think that the sketch was funny. You see, unlike the Italian and the Jew, the Irishman, propelled by a genetically driven, compulsive consumption of alcohol characteristic of his race, disregards the unhygienic, fly-infested beer, despite his confreres' warnings. In a way, the Irishman is like those people who underestimate the threat of global warming. Did you know that one of the many consequences of global warming is a rise in infectious diseases, as more disease-bearing insects and birds migrate to places that had hitherto been insufficiently warm but, due to rising temperatures, are now sufficiently warm? Well, no, I didn’t think you did. You’re too busy downloading iTunes from the Internet that I created. (looks offstage) We have to go to a break, so we'll be right back after this word from ExxonMobil...

Friday, May 26, 2006

My pet emotional support goat

Another vein of satiric possibility from the mother lode that is the Sunday New York Times Style section (May 14): The appearance of "emotional service animals." For those of you who thought service animals were limited to seeing-eye dogs, emotional service animals are pets that the overentitled Manhattan professional class -- a.k.a. Yuppie scum -- insist deserve a seat in restaurants, offices, health clubs, and even on planes.

The Times reported that according to those people who train such animals, the catalyst for this phenomenon was a 2003 ruling by the Department of Transportation. This ruling clarified policies regarding disabled passengers on airplanes, "stating for the first time that animals used to aid people with emotional ailments like depression or anxiety should be given the same access and privileges as animals helping people with physical disabilities like blindness or deafness."

As someone who has traversed the black pits of depression for most of his life, I would never equate it with blindness, deafness, loss of a limb, or other severe physical impairment.

But such niceties of perspective are lost on the monstrously vain, fathomlessly empty, pet-owning Manhattan parvenus who are exploiting the Americans with Disabilities Act to justify bringing their spoiled Labradoodle -- this is an actual breed, not a cartoon character -- everywhere they go. Oh, they have a disability, alright; it's called egomania.

And their selfishness is aided by the psychiatric profession, which recommends the use of animals for emotional support. Shrinks will do anything to avoid actually treating you, even if it means outsourcing (or is it "downsourcing") therapy to a Doberman pinscher.

It gets better:

Now airlines are grappling with how to accommodate 200-pound dogs in the passenger cabin and even emotional-support goats.

You think the airport security lines are long now? Wait till people start queuing up with their goats. Or worse. The writer quotes a spokeswoman for American Airlines, who says that in addition to dogs and goats, the airline has had to accommodate support monkeys, miniature horses, cats and even an emotional support duck. "Its owner dressed it up in clothes."

Let's see. What kind of outfit would an emotional support duck wear? How about a tweed jacket with leather elbow patches, and corduroy slacks? Does it smoke a cigar, like the toy duck in Groucho Marx's old quiz show, "You Bet Your Life"?

Now, here's my favorite character in the story:

One 30-year-old woman, a resident of Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y., said she does not see a psychotherapist but suffers from anxiety and abandonment issues and learned about emotional-needs dogs from a television show. She ordered a dog vest over the Internet with the words "service dog in training" for one of the several dogs she lives with, even though none are trained as service animals.

"Having my dogs with me makes me feel less hostile," said the woman, who refused to give her name. "I can fine people or have them put in jail if they don't let me in a restaurant with my dogs, because they are violating my rights," she insisted.

Oh, I see, because you have unresolved anger issues, you decide to act out and buy a bogus badge that enables you to coerce commercial establishments to cater to your whim? Sister, if you ever run into me, you will find yourself redefining the word "hostile."

This Macy's parade of psychic freaks continues:

Completely Bare, a chain of health spas in New York and Palm Beach, Fla., has a policy barring animals in treatment rooms, Cindy Barshop, the company's owner, said that she made an exception for a customer who insisted that she needed her large dog for support while she had laser hair removal. "We had to cover the dog with a blanket to protect its eyes during the procedure," Ms. Barshop said.

Boy, the rich feel entitled to everything, don't they? Another example of the aggressive victimization that permeates our society. This woman -- who will get hers when the revolution comes -- is so brittle, she can't even undergo a spa treatment denied to ninety-nine percent of the planet without making outrageous demands.

And, finally:

Aphrodite Clamar-Cohen, who teaches psychology at John Jay College in Manhattan and sees a psychotherapist, said her dog, a pit bull mix, helps fend off dark moods that began after her husband died eight years ago. She learned about psychological support pets from the Delta Society, a nonprofit group that aims to bring people and animals together [and from whom she got her dog, Alexander, last year]...

What is this -- an interspecies dating service? I'm sure they get a lot of action from dogs and cats looking to find a pampering owner. "What kind of situation are you looking for?" And they'd have to fill out a questionnaire: "Five things I can't do without ... fire hydrant, Alpo, other dogs' butts..."

The story then quotes Ms. Cohen:

"When I travel I tell hotels up front that 'Alexander Dog Cohen' is coming and he is my emotional-needs dog," she said. She acknowledged that the dog is not trained as a service animal. "He is necessary for my mental health," she said. "I would find myself at loose ends without him."

That this woman teaches psychology at a respectable New York City university proves once again what I've learned from bitter, surreal experience: Nobody is more fucked up than the shrinks. This pathetic, affected, pretentious, self-pitying excuse for a human being needs more than a dog to help shake her out of her self-absorbed delusions. More like a lobotomy. "Alexander Dog Cohen." She's not only made the dog into a Jew -- which is odd, since I didn't think they were allowed to proselytize -- but also a pretentious canine who will undoubtedly develop neurotic symptoms, if it hasn't already.

Hey, Ms. Cohen: If you claim your animal is such an irremovable emotional support, why don't you ask him to psychoanalyze you? After all, he couldn't do worse than some of the shrinks I've had.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

A punishment for Born-Again Christians

They Should Be Made to Live Like They Did in Christ’s Time


Harry Kurtzman, the atheist insult comic

If these Born-Again people want to take the Bible literally and impose laws taken from the Old Testament on 21st-century America, they should be forced to adopt the following Biblical ways:

They should wear Biblical garb made only of materials known to the land of Judea two thousand years ago.

They must drive to work that way.

In an ox-cart – the only means of transportation.

They must speak in an ancient tongue like Aramaic.
All PowerPoint presentations they make at the office have to be done on stone tablets.

When they get fired, they must not preach in the parking lot: “Castelli Brothers Cadillac Dealership Unfair to First-Century Christians.”

Must be made to live on manna. If no manna is available, they must substitute Wonder Bread.
Must express primitive incredulity at modern conveniences. i.e., “An ox-cart that can fly! And without oxen!”

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Vichy wrap? I think I'll pass

Into my emailbox this morning spewed a press release celebrating the arrival of the King Tut exhibit at The Field Museum in Chicago. But the release wasn't from the Field Museum, or the Chicago Tourist Bureau. No, it was from the Spa at Four Seasons Hotel Chicago, which "is offering the royal treatment with a specially created Egyptian Golden Body Wrap, a luxurious treatment [that] stimulates circulation, hydrates the skin and leaves you with a golden shimmer."

Basically, we're talking a moisturizer with glitter. What this has to do with King Tut is beyond me. Does it preserve you for the next three thousand years?

But that's not the only noteworthy element of this pharaonic emolliation:

The treatment begins in the tranquil Relaxation Room where the therapist will greet you and lead you on a sensory journey, which includes a gentle exfoliation consisting of Dead Sea salts infused with chamomile ...and an invigorating Vichy shower...

Whoa. I don't know about you, but a quicksilver bit of conceptual math produced this equation: Vichy=Nazi puppet government+shower=I'm outta there. No Four Seasons for me. That means any of them.

I'm not going to have some concierge knock at my door in the middle of the night demanding to see my papers. Or have my sleep disturbed by drunken officers singing Wagner in the next room. Or be bumped from my dining room table by Field Marshall something-or-other. Or see the disgust on the faces of the staff who look the other way when their wives go off with a general in the sidecar of his motorcycle. Or watch the restaurant manager who sells cases of prime fras grois on the black market while the Resistance must subsist on the downmarket variety hardly better than Spam, then shrugs his shoulders and says, "Un homme doit faire un habiter."

No, no, I tell you: I won't stand for it. Not for four hundred dollars a night.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Christians threaten Hollywood with plan to attend movies

It seems the usual throngs of mindless evangelicals (please excuse the redundancy) are up in arms about the upcoming release of the film adaptation of The DaVinci Code. Many evangelists are instructing their ditto-head flocks to boycott the movie. And according to the Times, "Another strategy gaining currency is being called an 'othercott' — urging people to see a different movie on the day The Da Vinci Code opens, like Over the Hedge, an animated family feature."

That's like a disgruntled customer at McDonald's telling off the manager, "The service here stinks. I'll show you -- I'm going to that other McDonald's down the street!"

They have yet another weapon in their arsenal: The pastor of Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego "has trained more than 200 pastors in how to encourage their congregations to use the movie to share their faith by throwing 'Da Vinci Code parties' in their homes."

So take that, Sony Pictures! During your movie's crucial opening weekend, we're going to do nothing but ... talk about it!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Moussaoui Claims: I Shot Kennedy, Kidnapped Lindbergh Baby

In a shocking curtain call in the courtroom where he had just been sentenced to life without parole for his purported role in the 9-11 terrorist plot, Zacarias Moussaoui proclaimed that he was responsible for many of the worst and most mysterious crimes in American history, including the assassination of John F. Kennedy and the kidnapping and murder of aviator Charles Lindbergh’s infant son.

Moussaoui’s final proclamation seems to have been one last attempt to inflate his reputation as a criminal arch-fiend before being taken away to spend the rest of his life in a maximum-security prison. "I, who am responsible for 9-11, Iran-Contra, and the Y2K disaster, am the winner. America, you are the loser," the self-incriminating stooge spat defiantly.

Moussaoui ignored his legal counsel’s admonitions to keep quiet and gleefully incriminated himself in the first World Trade Center bombing, the attack on Pearl Harbor and the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. "There’s also strong evidence tying me to the disappearances of Natalee Holloway, Amelia Earhart and Judge Crater,” Moussaoui told shocked onlookers.

Although Moussaoui’s prosecutors dismissed his outburst as the “ravings of a man who was perfectly sane during the trial, but has since lost his mind,” other government officials gave credence to some of his declarations. “Finally, we know who killed Kennedy,” said Senator Arlen Spector, a member of the Warren Commission.

Senior members of the Bush Administration were said to be working on a deal with Moussaoui in which he would take full responsibility for the war in Iraq, the outsourcing of American jobs, and global warming.

Darfuris Host Benefit to Aid Celebs

Thousands of people from the Darfur region of Sudan today came together for a benefit concert to aid troubled Hollywood celebrities.

“True, we are the victims of genocide,” said Manu Obigwan, a Darfuri whose entire family was killed by the janjaweed militia, “and we often get caught up in self-pity, thinking we are the only people who suffer. But what about those poor Hollywood celebrities, such as Denise Richard, whose husband is divorcing her? Or Tom Cruise, who is slandered for his religious beliefs and whose sexual orientation is constantly questioned? And we won’t even talk about Paris Hilton’s tragic inability to get people to take her seriously. Celebrities suffer in ways we Darfuris can only imagine: They get poor facelifts, their sitcoms are not renewed, and they often can only get six kinds of spring water in their trailer, but not the one kind they prefer.”

The benefit concert, the proceeds of which will be donated to Celeb-Aid and distributed among Beverly Hills’ neediest, consisted of various tribal songs performed by Darfuri musicians, a medley of African dances, and a fetish doctor casting off Martha Stewart’s “bad mojo.”

In a media buying world gone mad...

I was watching a Yankees game recently and in between innings the YES network showed an anti-smoking commercial in which a patient is told by his doctor that he has cancer. The physician is appropriately grave and the patient appropriately glum. "I'm only thirty-seven," he says. There is no music, and even the voice-over announcer sounds funereal. In thirty seconds, this ad manages to completely destroy my baseball-induced hypnosis and shatter my escapist illusion in which death is on the 60-day DL.

It's the most incongruously somber commercial placement I can recall. But it got me thinking: What would happen if advertisers hired completely incompetent media buyers? We might see juxtapositions like the following:

"Every day, three million children die of starvation. In Darfur, Afghanistan, Zaire."

CUT TO: "And now, Every Day with Rachel Ray."

Monday, May 08, 2006

Be my friend

Would you like to be my friend? Don't worry. You don't have to share the same experiences, interests, and hobbies, or like the same books or rock bands as me. You don't have to dress like me or share my ideas about home decor, abortion rights, or American Idol. You don't have to take my panicky, middle-of-the-night phone calls, or give me advice on dating and careers. In fact, you don't even have to meet me, speak to me, or even send me an email message.

No, to become my friend, all you have to do is to go to my MySpace page and click the button that reads, "Jim's Friends." You don't have to leave a comment. In fact, I would prefer that you didn't. I don't have time to read messages from all my friends.

Now, I know what you're thinking: What's in it for me? I'll tell you. Being a FOJ (Friend of Jim) instantly bestows upon you the mantle of cool. You see, I am a really cool guy, so if you are my friend, you will be cool by association. (If you are already cool, you will become supercool.)

What makes me cool? Well, it's not because I'm rich or famous or hang out in cool clubs or wear cool clothes. (Every day I wear the same boot-cut jeans and a T-shirt from the Vermont Cheddar Cheese Museum.)

No, I'm cool because I have ten thousand friends like you, people who wouldn't be able to identify me if their lives depended on it, who went to my MySpace page and clicked on the "Jim's Friends" link.

I'm cool because I have convinced you that I am cool, and because of your cybernetic affirmation of my coolness.

Thanks for being my friend. Now get lost.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

David Blaine, sinking fast

So-called "illusionist" David Blaine has been submerged in a tank at Lincoln Center for a week. In the past he's done things like sit in a box suspended over the Thames and been buried alive for days in a glass coffin.

I'd like to see Blaine buried alive -- with his publicist. Can't you just see this weasely little guy from Howard Rubenstein's office frantically scratching at the coffin top? Desperately trying to call 911 from his Blackberry? While I'm at it, let's toss his agent and manager in there, too. A glass coffin can get pretty crowded when your entire entourage is in there with you.

And I wonder how long Mr. Blaine would stay submerged in a tank while being chased by, say, a tiger shark? Now, that I would pay to see.

I mean, who is Blaine kidding? He's an exhibitionist, and the only "illusion" he's casting is that he's out for something more than freakish public notoriety.

The finale of this bit of ersatz Houdini performance art, scheduled for tonight, will be Blaine's attempt to break the world's record for holding one's breath underwater, or what he calls "static apnea." Meanwhile, the audience will be breaking the record for sleep apnea.

Our nation's capitol safe from Kennedys

From two New York Times stories on Patrick Kennedy's decision to seek addiction treatment after crashing his car high on pain-killers:

"I simply do not remember getting out of bed, being pulled over by the police, or being cited for three driving infractions. That's not how I want to live my life."

Nor I. When I get out of bed and am pulled over by the police for driving infractions, I want to remember it."


When the police officer turned on his emergency equipment and tried to make a traffic stop the report said, Mr. Kennedy's vehicle "did not respond but continued at a slower speed, finally stopping after colliding head-on with vehicle barriers." Many such barriers have been erected around the Capitol since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Washington may not be safe from terrorists, but at least it's protected from Kennedys.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Moussaoui and the U.S. army: A double act for the ages

Is it me, or was the Moussaoui trial the biggest courtroom farce since OJ tried on the glove? Our fearless leaders couldn’t bring an actual 9-11 perpetrator to trial because the ones they have captured (or claim to have captured) they’ve brutally tortured and, ergo, can't risk exposing their heinous, criminal behavior. Also, confessions under torture aren’t admissable in our civilian courtrooms – at least not yet. I’m not even sure they’re admissible in military courts. Only in the Decider’s own special “enemy combatant” courts.

So in a kind of collaborative show trial/performance piece, U.S. prosecutors made a lot of noise and spent millions of our tax dollars to wrongly convict a sad clown, a terrorist “open-miker,” as Bill Maher calls him. He doesn’t seem to have had anything to do with 9-11; Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the so-called mastermind of the attacks, said Moussaoui was too much of a loose cannon to entrust him with even the knowledge of the plot. But Moussaoui wanted his 15 minutes of fame and his 72 virgins -- or “sturgeons,” as he said once during the trial, in which case why not just sentence him to 10 years in Zabar’s? He wouldn’t last.

The absurdity of this legal sham itself multiplied by the commentary from media and political blowhards who self-righteously touted it as worthy of Nuremberg Trials, a demonstration of our superior, rule-of-law democracy.

The trial exemplifies the dirty secret of the "war on terrorism": the hyperbolic inflation of the Islamic terror threat. The U.S. establishment did the same thing during the Cold War -- instilled fear in the populace by grossly overestimating the Soviet defense capabilities. (JFK called it "the missile defense gap," and it was completely fictional.)

Al Qaeda and its franchisees are the terrorists who can't shoot straight -- literally, as evidenced by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's comic ineptitude at firing a machine gun in outtakes of an Al-Qaeda propaganda video released this week that attempted to portray him as a macho head of the Council of Holy Warriors. And remember the original World Trade Center bombers, who were apprehended when they returned to a van they had stolen? And Richard Reid, the "shoe bomber"? Is it for these vaudevillians that we've invaded Iraq, shredded our constitution, and bankrupted the nation?

The Friday N.Y. Times story quoted Major General Rick Lynch, a military spokesman:

"What you saw on the Internet was what [Zarqawi] wanted the world to see. Look at me. I'm a capable leader of a capable organization, and we are indeed declaring war against democracy inside of Iraq, and we're going to establish an Islamic caliphate.
"What he didn't show you were the clips that I showed, wearing New Balance sneakers with his uniform, surrounded by supposedly competent subordinates who grab the hot barrel of a just-fired machine gun.
"We have a warrior leader, Zarqawi, who doesn't understand how to operate his weapon system and has to rely on his subordinates to clear a weapon stoppage...It makes you wonder."

It makes me wonder why our military is spending so much time and money pursuing him.

It also makes me wonder: WWGD? That is: What would Groucho do?