richard perle sucks

Thoroughly unacceptable: Richard Perle, member and ex-chairman of the Pentagon’s Defense Policy Board and a major architect of government military policy, demands payment from foreign journalists who want to interview him. Talking to Perle carries a price tag of anywhere from $100 to $900.
This is absurd. I can’t imagine how angrily I’d react if I tried interviewing, say, a congressman or a mayor and he told me he’d only talk to me for a fee. Absolutely absurd.
You may remember Perle from when hero Seymour Hersh wrote a damning piece in The New Yorker on his sketchy financial dealings, crossing between private profit and his government job. Perle blustered that Hersh’s article libeled him and said he would sue Hersh in British court over the matter. (This despite the fact that Hersh, Perle, and The New Yorker are all American. British courts are known for making it easy to sue writers — they require sued writers to prove that what they wrote is true, while U.S. courts require the aggrieved party to prove an article is false.) For good show, he also called Hersh “closest thing American journalism has to a terrorist” for writing about him — an awfully nice thing for a government official to say about one of America’s most respected journalists.
Of course, Perle was just posing; he chickened out when it became clear that no one believed him and other newspapers started pointing out more conflicts of interest.
Richard Perle: Friend of journalists everywhere!

suze orman is crazy

Whenever I head to a bookstore, I make a few regular stops. Lately, I lead off with the African history section. (That usually doesn’t take very long.) I check the non-fiction new releases, then swing by travel, journalism, music, and contemporary history. I often make a stop by personal finance.
Now, I don’t know Suze Orman from Eve. (I take Scott Burns as my pers-fin columnist of choice.) I’ll admit I’m inclined to loathe her, since I see that one of her bestselling books has the pitiful title of The Courage to be Rich. (Sure, we’d all be rolling in dough — if only we had the courage! At first glance, with chapter titles like “The Courage to Have More and to Be More” and “The Courage to Make Room for More Money,” it appears to be a half-shimmy away from a Prayer of Jabez-style cloaking of greed in self-affirming garb.)
But I’m not here to make incisive social commentary. No, I’m here to point out what I noticed in a recent trip to the bookstore: In every photo on her book jackets, Suze Orman looks like a crazy woman! And not just a crazy woman — a shapeshifting crazy woman, a different sort of crazy on every jacket!
I just got back from the spa and I’m a crazy woman!
I’m a crazy woman who watched Dynasty too much in the ’80s!
I’m crazy — and I like leather!
I’ve been smiling for 19 straight hours, and it’s driven me crazy!
365 days of crazy ol’ me!
The courage to be casual — and crazy!
I hate to think what her audiobooks are like. Read by Bobcat Goldthwaite?

new column,

Here’s my column from today’s paper, on why all kids should be untan summertime geeks like I was. (Okay, that’s not the topic, but that’s the subtext. All writing is personal, you know.)
This is also my first mention of MTV’s Summer Beach House in print. May also be my first use of “picking bellybutton lint.”
You people don’t know how lucky you are. Over the last two days, I bought both and I had big plans for a guerrilla-democracy project that would involve getting someone on the California recall ballot (as I wrote about a couple of days ago). Halfway through site development last night, though, I realized I’d be too busy over the next two weeks to do it justice. Like I said, you don’t know how lucky you are.

mel gibson’s dad

The Pope’s not a Catholic! He’s an imposter seeking to destroy the church! So says Mel Gibson’s dad, one of the world’s preeminent retro-Catholics. He’s a Vatican II hater, and thinks performing mass in anything other than Latin is an abomination and a sign of the apocalypse.
Keep Papa Gibson’s background in mind if you go see Mel’s new Christ-on-the-cross movie The Passion — filmed entirely in Latin and Aramaic and without subtitles.

creepy principal

Um, this guy’s a creepy principal. Likes to take lots of young girls on unchaperoned trips to Disney World and have “swimsuit changing contests.”
“Former teacher Barbarita Clark thought something was odd in her job interview. [Principal] Baker didn’t ask her much about her qualifications, she said. He asked her if she was more of a Tigger-type person or an Eeyore-type person. She was puzzled, but Baker determined that she was a Tigger person and gave her a stuffed Tigger when she left.”

d plan, travis on punk girls

A nice write-up on the Dismemberment Plan‘s final days. The D-Plan-as-the-Police, Travis-Morrison-as-Sting metaphor is a nice change of pace from the standard band metaphor, D-Plan-as-Talking-Heads, Travis-Morrison-as-David-Byrne.
Travis also has a great essay up on his web site (which really needs to start archiving past entries so they don’t get lost every time he updates). This week’s topic: why girls shouldn’t be punk. (Here’s a link to the Jessica Hopper/Punk Planet piece he references.)


Marketplace fans, it’s time for mourning: David Brancaccio is leaving the show.
I’m not a business junkie, but I’m a huge Marketplace fan. I was thinking the other day that I couldn’t think of another media outlet that was more consistently surprising, engaging, and intelligent. You can learn more in a half hour of Marketplace than you can in two hours of All Things Considered.
It looks like the so-so David Brown will replace Brancaccio. My dream replacement: the brilliant Steve Inskeep. (Mainly because I don’t often get to hear Steve at his main job, host of weekend All Things Considered.)

california recall election

The California recall election of Gov. Gray Davis is such, such fun for news junkies like myself. On October 7, there’ll be a statewide election with two issues: 1. Should Gov. Davis be recalled? and 2. If he is recalled, who should replace him?
Some of the potential craziness:
– There will likely be several Republican candidates for Issue No. 2. The state’s leading Democrats have said they plan on supporting the incumbent by not putting any candidates up for the race. (Someone like Dianne Feinstein would easily win Issue No. 2 if she ran — but she’d also essentially guarantee that the unpopular Davis gets recalled, since a majority of Californians would almost certainly consider her a better option.) So you could have a governor’s race in California — an overwhelmingly Democratic state — with only Republicans on the ballot!
– There will be at least one left-of-center candidate on the ballot: Peter Camejo, a Green Party candidate. If everyone else on the ballot is GOP, could this be the time for a Green candidate to break through?
– The election’s rules are quite clear: There’s no runoff if no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote. Whomever gets the most votes wins — even if he/she only gets 10 or 15 percent of the vote! This is the path Arnold Schwarzenegger will expect to follow if he runs — he’s got the name recognition to guarantee 10 or 15 percent of the vote, and if there are enough candidates splitting the electorate, that could be enough to win.
– That possibility grows more likely when you consider how ridiculously easy it will be to get on the ballot. All you need to do to be a candidate for governor is get 65 signatures on a petition and pay $3,500! That’s it! So, will there be some local Dem who says screw the state party, I’m getting my signatures and getting on the ballot? If so, and he’s the only D on a ballot with 15 Rs, he’s your next governor!
So here the big question: shouldn’t the Left Coast blogosphere unite behind someone — a fellow blogger, perhaps — and get them on the ballot? You can get 65 signatures in a weekend party, and $3,500 wouldn’t be that hard to raise in a PayPal account. There could be a virtual campaign! I’m serious — depending on how this shakes out, if the candidate in question is a Democrat, he/she stands a decent chance of being a contender. Any blog-based candidate is guaranteed media attention. (And is there a better resume line than “sixth place, governor’s race, California, 2003”?)
I’m serious here. Who’s going to step up to the plate?