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John Ashcroft inflicts his "gift" upon DoJ staff
March 4, 2002 8:42 AM   Subscribe

John Ashcroft inflicts his "gift" upon DoJ staff Determined not to stop at subjecting the public to his musical endeavors, our beloved Attorney General now sees fit to hand out the lyrics to his songs at staff meetings for sing-alongs. This, from the man whose job is to "represent the Government before the U.S. Supreme Court in cases of exceptional gravity or importance". Given the choice of attending one of his daily prayer meetings, having to sing along to his music, or having bamboo shoved under your fingernails, what would you choose?
posted by mkultra (53 comments total)

 
Ah the joys of having a mystic in a high profile government position. The comedy! Sitcom, anyone?
posted by holycola at 8:59 AM on March 4, 2002


It is odd, what this man does, but as long as hez not forcing his staff to sing along, or creating an environment where those who do not singalong are looked at negatively, the man can not be shunned or criticized. I would criticize him anyway. I think hez a dangerous man.
posted by adnanbwp at 9:08 AM on March 4, 2002


I think I would have to choose to sing along I understand bamboo under your nails can be very painful.
posted by thirteen at 9:08 AM on March 4, 2002


Bamboo. Without a doubt.
posted by Kikkoman at 9:28 AM on March 4, 2002


I understand bamboo under your nails can be very painful.

I'm with Kikkoman. Bamboo.
posted by dack at 9:44 AM on March 4, 2002


...for torture, I'd choose reading MeFi posts in which someone uses "hez" for the contraction "he's." Oh, the pain!" (said a la Dr. Zachary Smith).
posted by davidmsc at 9:46 AM on March 4, 2002


I'm going to go with the bamboo.
posted by ncurley at 9:50 AM on March 4, 2002


I would choose baptism with cooking oil.
posted by espada at 10:06 AM on March 4, 2002


What would be hilarious, if you were one of his subordinates, would be to offer to start a band to back him up. You'd get other players together, start rehearsing, get him all excited about a big debut gig, then tell him he's out of the band. "I'm sorry, John. The thing is, your intonation is not getting any better, and we aspire to do well, which we cannot do if people would rather have bamboo shoved under their fingernails than listen to you."
posted by gnz2001 at 10:09 AM on March 4, 2002


Is this the best you can do to dis the AG? Bad taste doesn't disqualify you from anything in government.
posted by ParisParamus at 10:12 AM on March 4, 2002


Yes, PP, but arrogance should, according to Ashcroft Sr: From espada's link: "Nothing of lasting value has ever been accomplished in arrogance. Put on the spirit of humility."

I'd say that subjecting subordinates to your questionably valid musical compositions is pretty arrogant. I mean, how would you know if they're singing along because they like it, or if they're doing it because they're worried that their employment hinges on it?
posted by gnz2001 at 10:16 AM on March 4, 2002


He lost an election to a dead man. For the love of god, he lost an election to a dead man! How is he still in politics? There ought to be a rule permanently disqualifying you from holding any office if you lose an election to a dead man!
posted by aramaic at 10:21 AM on March 4, 2002


Letterman was playing the video and singing the song a whole lot last week.
posted by adamv at 10:35 AM on March 4, 2002


Are we talking all 10 fingernails?
posted by goto11 at 10:37 AM on March 4, 2002


The truely disturbing thing about all of this is his childishness - his assumptoin that everyone is like him, that they'll want to sing his songs and share his prayers to his god.

I think we'd all like to have an AG who seems intelligent, reasonable, and thoughtful (as in carefully considering things, not as in giving nice gifts).

What I see is a childish, superstitious, closed-minded prude. I see all of his judgements as questionable, if only because I would want to know what motivated his decision.
posted by Red58 at 10:37 AM on March 4, 2002


Normally ParisParamus and I are at ideological odds, but I have to agree with him here. For example, the last U.S. Attorney General, Janet Reno, usually was attacked by conservatives for her personal quirks rather on on substantive issues.

To avoid hypocrisy, we should overlook Ashcroft's singing as an quirky character trait. Instead, we should focus our collective MeFi attention on his policies and what effect they have.

And I'd choose bamboo.
posted by stevis at 10:39 AM on March 4, 2002


Reno's "personal quirks" didn't cross over into her workplace relationships. Getting anointed with cooking oil is lame, but that's life, I agree. Handing out lyrics to a song you wrote AT A BUSINESS MEETING is lame, but also completely inappropriate behavior. He can make a musical ass out of himself all he wants, as long as it's on his own time.
posted by mkultra at 10:52 AM on March 4, 2002


Bamboo. Under his fingernails.
posted by rushmc at 10:54 AM on March 4, 2002


Let the eagle soar like it's never soared before...

Letterman is in reruns this week, but that crappy song is still in my head.
posted by BarneyFifesBullet at 10:57 AM on March 4, 2002


Everyone, not just Ashcroft, should be precluded from singing on the job unless singing is their job. We don't need a law, just simple human kindness. If you are considering doing a number (a la Ally McBeal), don't - you aren't nearly as talented as you think you are. In fact, you suck. We don't want to hear it. Yes, we know your wife, kids, etc. have told you in the past that you are a great singer - they were only being nice. Really, you suck.

Secondly, I would like to just mention that Ashcroft was named to the position as a sop to the religious right of the Republican Party. He has shown himself to be a liability to the Bush administration, and my guess would be that, regardless of how the 04 elections turn out, Ashcroft's days as AG are numbered, and we are already past half-way. He can still fuck up a lot of things, and he will almost certainly try fucking up some of them, but remember that is no damage that he can cause to our great country that cannot be undone. Just be careful to stay out of his personal line of fire (warn your friends, too) and you'll - we'll - be all right.
posted by UncleFes at 11:22 AM on March 4, 2002


We should all encourage the man to continue promoting his musical career. Maybe he'll get a steady gig at the local Bar-B-Q Barn and quit his day job.

What he needs is a decent stage name. With his well-known fondness for cooking lubricants, I suggest "Meltin' John".
posted by groundhog at 11:33 AM on March 4, 2002


Meltin' John and the Partially Hydrogenated Coconuts
posted by gnz2001 at 11:40 AM on March 4, 2002


Sorry for the (uncredited) appropriation, groundhog
posted by gnz2001 at 11:43 AM on March 4, 2002


If you are considering doing a number (a la Ally McBeal), don't - you aren't nearly as talented as you think you are. In fact, you suck. We don't want to hear it.

This tears at my soul. I must persuade Fes otherwise!

/me visits Fes at his office, croons "Ain't Nothing Gonna Break My Stride" followed by a stirring rendition of "Hot for Teacher," only using the lyrics "Hot for Fes-ter"
posted by Skot at 11:45 AM on March 4, 2002


Again?? It was embarassing the first couple times, Skot. My boss is going to think we're dating, which just makes him more desperate, which in turn makes him far more likely to try and french me at an inopportune moment. The last time, he missed my face and ended up cutting a jaggy line down my cheek with one of his teeth, then clonking me with phonebook-interrogation strength on the top of my skull with his forehead.

Plus it's a pretty tough song, technically speaking. Humming and 'aaaaaroooo-whooo'-ing through the guitar solos don't help, either.
posted by UncleFes at 12:00 PM on March 4, 2002


this reminds me of the persian gulf war. i was working at a small town television station and some nice old lady in our coverage area wrote a song called "brave american soldiers". a verse: (of the nine verses)

brave american soliders
the finest on the line
our fathers fought for your freedom
and now you fight for mine
saddam hussein just couldn't know
what he would have to face
brave american soldiers
you're gonna put him in his place!

our female anchor, the general manager's wife, just LOVED this song so every newscast would end with a video that started out with this woman plinking away at her piano singing and then that day's war video would fade in and out on top of her.

and how do i still remember the words? the anchor had them printed and wanted all of us to sing along on our headsets during the newscast. i've never seen a more uncomfortable group of people in my life.

forced singing=bad.
posted by centrs at 12:03 PM on March 4, 2002


It's threads like this which make me wonder if opposition to tighter reigns on abortion are about beliefs or just prolonged adolescent rebellion.
posted by ParisParamus at 12:13 PM on March 4, 2002


Nice troll, ParisParamus. Nothing like injecting the abortion debate into a thread that has nothing to do with it.

For me, singing in the workplace is just bad taste. However, asking federal employees to sing a song that you wrote and that contains the words "No other king but God" is a completely different story. This man should not be Attorney General of the United States.
posted by Chanther at 2:05 PM on March 4, 2002


Actually, I think your "Nice troll" comment is the troll.

I just think one wastes ammo but spending time on stupid, arguably meaningless attributes of someone. If you have a Separation of Church-State argument, ok, but I suspect most people in this thread just relish the cheap, very cheap thrill of making fun of someone in power. And it's juvenile and unconstructive.
posted by ParisParamus at 2:20 PM on March 4, 2002


Nothing to do with it? The AG opposes abortion and is in charge of enforcing federal laws: hello?
posted by ParisParamus at 2:26 PM on March 4, 2002


The argument here is whether or not Ashcroft's singing ways are appropriate, given his role as AG. While it is perfectly true that the Attorney General is entrusted with enforcing the laws with regard to abortion rights, and thus the issue is relevant to his job, it has nothing to do with this thread, which is about singing.

You, instead, chose to decide that any concerns anyone had about this kind of behavior are "juvenile" and "adolescent", and then suggest that people's views opposing restrictions on abortion rights must similarly be juvenile and adolescent. It's an astounding leap of logic, and one that has nothing whatsoever to do with the question of whether it's okay for Ashcroft to include his staff in his musical pursuits. Clearer?

That being said, I don't find the criticisms of the AG to be all that juvenile. I find Ashcroft's behavior in his position to be bizzare. Sure, there have been cheap shots - as well as some stories fabricated to make Ashcroft look bad. But I do think that criticism of the way he's handling the position is warranted.
posted by Chanther at 2:40 PM on March 4, 2002


Here, here Chanther.
Furthermore, his insistence on believing that his staff have any interest whatsoever in singing his tunes belies a basic lack of connection to reality. He's either incredibly full of himself, horribly out of touch with what's going on around him, or both. At any rate, it points to his lack of mental or interpersonal acuity, and hence his fitness for his job.
posted by gnz2001 at 2:48 PM on March 4, 2002


I think it's more of a seperation of work-in-general and religion, unless, of course, your work IS religion. In which case, more power to ya. But the man is organizing sing-a-longs on taxpayers' money.

On that note (pun intended), you could throw out the entire aspect of religion and insert recreation. Still seems valid for this debate.
posted by Nauip at 2:50 PM on March 4, 2002


I pity the staff forced to listen to, let alone sing along with Mr. Ashcroft's "musical masturbations."
posted by ilsa at 2:54 PM on March 4, 2002


ilsa inadvertantly makes another point: Forcing singalongs is perilously close to harassment. If the song had racy lyrics, and Ashcroft were on the other end (so to speak) of the singalong, wouldn't he feel that he was being subjected to a hostile work environment?
posted by gnz2001 at 3:03 PM on March 4, 2002


You, instead, chose to decide that any concerns anyone had about this kind of behavior are "juvenile" and "adolescent", and then suggest that people's views opposing restrictions on abortion rights must similarly be juvenile and adolescent.

I assure you, the best, absolutely BEST way to gather sympathy for the AG, or anyone else, is to mock his quirks.
posted by ParisParamus at 3:06 PM on March 4, 2002


True, PP, most of Ashcroft's "quirks" speak for themselves. But this one is just too delicious. C'mon people sing along...
posted by gnz2001 at 3:12 PM on March 4, 2002


He lost an election to a dead man. For the love of god, he lost an election to a dead man!

::sigh:: More half-truths by omission. Until Carnahan died in the plane crash, he and Ashcroft were in a pretty tight race. Carnahan only opened up a lead BECAUSE he died. It was a combination of the sympathy factor (Carnahan was a popular figure, and a lot of people stupidly believed they were somehow honoring his memory by voting for him), and the fact that Ashcroft, being a decent human being instead of the psychotic you haters try to portray him as, immediately cancelled all his political advertising for a time, and afterwords only ran very generic, bland "I'll do my best to continue serving you well" ads that were so boring nobody even noticed them. Plus, of course, Carnahan's death meant his name was all over the media all the way up to election day, even more so than if he'd stayed alive and they'd both continued their hardball campaigns to the end.

How is he still in politics? There ought to be a rule permanently disqualifying you from holding any office if you lose an election to a dead man!

Most of us actually concerned with getting qualified people elected to the Senate believe that there ought to be a rule in Missouri that dead people can't be on the ballot. It wasn't Ashcroft that most Americans thought to be the laughingstock after that election, it was the people of Missouri that were the laughingstocks. If it hadn't been for that little Bush/Gore tiff down South, it would have been Missourians that had become synonymous with "moronic voters" for the next four years, instead of Floridians.

For example, the last U.S. Attorney General, Janet Reno, usually was attacked by conservatives for her personal quirks rather on on substantive issues.

On Earth B, perhaps. Over here on Earth A, I recall lots of discussion about Waco and OKC and Elian, not her fashion sense.

By the way, didn't we just have a thread here not long ago about companies having their own corporate songs? I remember people thinking them silly, but not a sign of evil. Yet here, suddenly, it's some sort of civil rights violation because it's Ashcroft. Please.

Of course, it's hard to know just how much of this article is true and how much is bunkum anyway, since it's an article from an anti-Bush newspaper that manages to include the entire litany of Ashcroft-hate canards in its attempt to savage and demonize the man.

I gotta admit though, I can't get that fucking song out of my head. "Let the eaaaaaaagle soarrrrrr / Like she's never soarrrrrrred beforrrrrrrrre!" AUUGGH!
posted by aaron at 3:27 PM on March 4, 2002


Gee, I seem to remember a lot of abuse of Reno centered on her sexuality, her size, and her "fashion sense." These quirks are all apparantly fair game. (Note that no one went after the parkinson's thing.) So why do we have to back off when some goofball starts cramming devotional tunes down his staff's throat on our nickel?
posted by gnz2001 at 3:39 PM on March 4, 2002


Number of FPPs on MeFi since day one in which Janet Reno was attacked for her "personal quirks" rather than on substantive issues: 0

Number of FPPs on MeFi since day one in which Janet Reno was attacked over substantive issues: 3

Number of FPPs on MeFi since day one in which John Ashcroft was attacked for his "personal quirks" rather than on substantive issues: 13

Number of FPPs on MeFi since day one in which John Ashcroft was attacked over substantive issues (and I'm being quite generous as to what constitutes "substantive"): 27

Length of time Reno was Attorney General after MeFi went live (estimate, assuming this as first post): 556 days

Length of time Ashcroft has been Attorney General: 396 days

'Nuff said.

(Disclaimer: I may be off by one or two on the Ashcroft numbers, as there were 50 FPPs listed as mentioning him. A few simply didn't mention him at all (search bug?), some mentioned him only in passing, so I may have miscounted one or two. But the general order of magnitude of difference between Ashcroft and Reno posts is unquestionable.)
posted by aaron at 4:14 PM on March 4, 2002


There you have it! Ashcroft is quirkier than Reno.
posted by gnz2001 at 4:43 PM on March 4, 2002


I have a strong feeling almost all of you people would begin singing once the guy with the bamboo started to grab your hands.
posted by thirteen at 5:22 PM on March 4, 2002


You know another great leader unfairly attacked for his quirks...Caligula. He appointed his horse as a senator. He fucked his sister. One day he announced that he had become a god. I mean, that cat was zany! Only those closest to him truly understood his deeply sensitive nature.
posted by bingo at 5:26 PM on March 4, 2002


has anyone been able to find the lyrics to this song? i want them. today's servant of the down post has inspired me. email me if you're successful
posted by bliss322 at 5:35 PM on March 4, 2002


Let the eagle soar
Like she's never soared before.
From rocky coast to golden shore
Let the mighty eagle soar.
Soar with healing in her wings
As the land beneath her sings:
'Only god, no other kings.'
This country's far too young to die.
We've still got a lot of climbing to do
And we can make it if we try.
Built by toils and struggles
God has led us through.

posted by aaron at 5:48 PM on March 4, 2002


i think you need to graph those numbers and compare the number of users, and the number of posts per day also.
posted by th3ph17 at 7:20 PM on March 4, 2002


I assure you, the best, absolutely BEST way to gather sympathy for the AG, or anyone else, is to mock his quirks.

Um, yeah, absolutely! I mean, look how people just LOVE Clinton, Gore, Dole, Reagan, Carter, Ford, Bush (Sr and Jr) now...ALL of them because of all that quirk-picking-on!

DAMN YOU, SNL!
posted by rushmc at 9:15 PM on March 4, 2002


SONG SELECTIONS FOR CYNICS, WHO DON'T APPRECIATE AN ATTORNEY GENERAL WITH A GREAT VOICE AND THE COURAGE TO BE CORNY AND SENTIMENTAL

"However much we may dislike his political views - and this is a man who is convinced that the existence of the United States proclaims God's unique higher purpose for the American nation - it is difficult not to soften a little when those views are delivered in a respectable and melodic baritone."

National Anthem @ Work

"Washington was not listening to what is perhaps the only example known to military history of folklore being used as a device for the transmission of intelligence ...
I want a war, just like the war
That mutilated dear 'ole Dad..."
Armed Forces History, National Museum of American History


"The group begins singing a rousing company song in clear, proud voices.
"We are hand in hand in this world, choosing Ping An is what we want," they chant and sing. Sincerity, trust, positive thinking, accomplishment. Our beliefs will not change ever."

Artists Against Success Company Song

MR. ASHCROFT'S INAUGURAL SPEECH
... Will people be able to create ideas and express them with a sense that there is freedom to do that? ...

Last year sometime, having about sung my welcome out in the state of Missouri, I was invited to sing at a congregation in North Carolina ...
[You'll have to read it to believe it.]


Sounds from the US DEPT. OF DEFENSE

Ever Onward IBM

Bush-Cheney Corporate Anthem

We Strive In Solidarity

KPMG - We're as strong as can be,
We dream of power and energy,
We go for the gold, together we hold
Onto our vision of global strategy.


"Oddball culture"

Melanie's Company Song

Do you feel that your company song doesn't fit the needs of your workgroup and you want something more SGML- or XML-specific to sing each morning?

The MetaFilter Anthem

My pick for a MetaFilter Inspirational Song

Our job is to recapture buildings of regional, national or international importance in case of a terroristic or foreign occupation ...

Bobby Williams, dressed in his gas station uniform,
faced an auditorium packed with leaders in the
convenience store industry this past October. Then
he burst into song. To the tune of "If you're happy
and you know it," he belted out: "I'm alive, alert,
awake, enthusiastic!" his company motto.
"You sing it through three times, and you go
faster each time ..."


LOOSEN UP AND SING A CORNY, PATRIOTIC OR COMPANY SONG!
Corporate anthems are packaged products for people who have lost the ability to create their own culture.

posted by sheauga at 10:42 PM on March 4, 2002


It wasn't Ashcroft that most Americans thought to be the laughingstock after that election, it was the people of Missouri that were the laughingstocks. If it hadn't been for that little Bush/Gore tiff down South, it would have been Missourians that had become synonymous with "moronic voters" for the next four years, instead of Floridians

aaron, as a Floridian, I wouldn't mind sharing my official Moronic Voter baseball cap, but I think you're wrong. I have family in Missouri, they voted for Carnahan (as did a few other Missourians) because they did not like Ashcroft or his far-right policies. An vote of defiance, maybe, but not of stupidity.

I'm trying to imagine some of the Republicans I know voting for Gore, if Bush had had an earlier, ill-fated encounter with that pretzel.
posted by groundhog at 7:16 AM on March 5, 2002


I admired the people of Missouri, myself. To paraphrase Captain Kirk, if you don't like the alternatives available to you, change the rules.
posted by rushmc at 8:14 AM on March 5, 2002


Missouri that dead people can't be on the ballot.

There wasn't a dead person on the ballot. His wife was on the ballot. The people voted for his wife over ASScroft. Spin it all you like, the guy is out of step with the country.
posted by terrapin at 1:35 PM on March 5, 2002


See it in living color
posted by atfrost at 2:01 PM on March 6, 2002


There wasn't a dead person on the ballot. His wife was on the ballot.

His wife's name was not on the ballot. THE DEAD MAN'S NAME WAS.

The people voted for his wife over ASScroft.

"ASScroft." Dear God, that's so incredibly pathetic.

Spin it all you like, the guy is out of step with the country.

If the truth is now "spin" on MeFi, and blatant lies like yours have become "reality," then this place is doomed. And whether you're willing to accept it or not, conservatives are pretty much half the population.
posted by aaron at 8:38 PM on March 6, 2002


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