Though set up to be the fall guy for the government's bungle of Hurricane Katrina, Michael Brown refused to play the president's patsy. Having weathered the storm, Brownie spoke about his experience to David Sheff in the Playboy Interview. "Normally people in government are very tightlipped, so it was remarkable talking to Brown, who spoke freely," Sheff says. "One reason for his openness is that he wants to clear his name. I also think he did the interview because he still feels a moral obligation to protect the people of this country by informing them that the government is not capable of handling the next major disaster. On both levels he is the equivalent of a soldier who seriously questions his commander, only in this case it takes balls because it's the commander in chief."
As an Ultimate Fighting Championship Octagon Girl, Rachelle Leah practices the time-honored ring girl's art: strutting around in a skimpy getup, holding a card and looking hot. For our interview she wears a baseball cap, a tank top and jeans, and she looks---according to some dude at the supermarket---daaamn hot. "I was just there, and this guy's like, 'Daaamn, girl,' " she says. "That bugs me. If I were a guy and I found a girl attractive, I wouldn't be like that. I'd say, 'You're absolutely beautiful. Can I take you out to lunch?' " Of course she'd do it that way. Rachelle is a go-getter who loves extreme sports and was training to be a paramedic when her modeling career took off. She's not invulnerable, though; she confesses to suffering from anxiety about the aforementioned skimpy getups. And it's not just at the matches: She also flashes the flesh as host of UFC: All Access, an MTV Cribs-style show, which tends to kick off with Rachelle in a state of undress. (For the first episode, cameras "surprised" her in her room while she was in only a bra and jeans.) "I'm getting to the point where I can joke about it," she sighs. "When I look at all it's done for me, wearing a small outfit is not a big deal."
What if men had a simple, reliable method of birth control the way women have the pill? It may be dangerous to stop the mojo, but it is our time. I saw some Brits on the Discovery Channel who soaked their balls in hot water for a few hours a day, with the idea that a man's testicles must be cooler than his body temperature to make sperm. (That's why the scrotum hangs away from the body.) It took a few weeks, but eventually the guys shot blanks. It struck me---why not create a discrete pouch that would keep a guy's testicles overheated? People laugh when I explain my idea, but I think it could change the world and make me rich.---W.S., Madison, Wisconsin
When political scientists in the future compile their lists of America's weak and strong presidents, George W. Bush, whatever his other achievements or failings, will inevitably be judged among those who, for better or worse, thoroughly dominated the politics of the day. But despite what one may think of the president's various proposals, it is not Bush's policies but how he came to be so powerful that should most worry us.
No single act speaks more to the decay of congressional power than President Bush's unprecedented use of signing statements. On more than 10 percent of the bills the president has signed---amounting to more than 750 times---he has claimed to have the right to ignore parts of laws he doesn't agree with. By making such claims he essentially declares himself the judge of his own constitutional powers and rules for himself without any checks and balances. With his signing statements Bush has challenged the congressional ban on torture, oversight provisions in the Patriot Act and whistle-blower protections for nuclear regulators. In each instance a compliant legislature has forgiven him his excesses. A president has the right to say whatever he wants, of course, but his only writing that matters legislatively is his signature. He holds the power of veto---a refusal to sign a bill---but Bush has yet to use it. He signed the congressional ban on torture, for example, but later added provisions (filed quietly on December 30) that claimed to take away the lawmaking authority of Congress and the courts' power in interpreting the Constitution. During the first 200 years of the Republic, presidents used signing statements about a dozen times. Ed Meese, attorney general during the Reagan administration, popularized signing statements by urging courts to look to them for evidence of what a statute "really means." Reagan appended signing statements 71 times, and Clinton used the provision 105 times. But no one approaches Bush's numbers. What can Congress do? It could hold hearings or withhold funding. But it's unlikely that a partisan Congress would consider the more serious steps of censure or impeachment. Senator Arlen Specter, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, plans to hold hearings on signing statements.
Droves of women dying after botched back-alley procedures. Doctors and patients sent to jail. Poor women forced to miss work and travel out of state to get care. These are some of the doomsday visions of a post-Roe v. Wade America. But a reversal of Roe v. Wade by the U.S. Supreme Court may not prove so dire. The repeal of the federally protected right to terminate a pregnancy would likely have relatively little impact on abortion in America. Such a reversal could, however, have a huge, largely unanticipated effect on other areas of our lives.
From a Response on Reason.com to an article by Todd Gitlin in The Chronicle of Higher Education: "Long before the current wave of conservative attacks on the legacy and values of the Enlightenment, many left-wing academics were deriding reason, freedom and tolerance as bourgeois prejudices, and scholarly objectivity as a smoke screen for the white male point of view. Instead of championing individual rights, the academic left began to promote the 'identity politics' of defining people by race, gender and sexual orientation. But there is a parallel problem on the right. Today assaults on evolution frequently find a platform in respectable conservative publications. So do attacks on secularism and the separation of church and state. As Gitlin notes, many conservatives assert that the American republic was founded not on the principles of the Enlightenment but as a 'Christian nation.' On the right or the left, reason- and reality-based politics are increasingly hard to find."
Redistricting---better known as gerrymandering---has in recent years been honed to such an art that one of the basic tenets of democracy no longer holds. Voters are supposed to be able to choose their representatives; instead, politicians these days choose their voters. Of course, gerrymandering---named after Massachusetts governor Elbridge Gerry, who redrew state districts for the 1812 election---is nothing new. Districts are redrawn at least every 10 years, after each census. But until the 1990s such tinkering was undertaken with wax pencils and transparencies. With computers, new Census Bureau digital cartography and geographic information systems able to crunch quantities of data and draw maps based on them, the practice has attained a sinister level of efficiency. In 2000 just six House members lost reelection bids---a 98 percent success rate for incumbents. Michigan Republican Mike Rogers won his seat by 111 votes in 2000; after redistricting, he won in 2002 by a margin of 37 percent. Of 153 U.S. House and state congressional seats up for grabs in California's 2004 elections, none changed hands. Why? Gerrymandering, engineered by lawmakers with little oversight, creates ever larger majorities for incumbents: In 2004 only 22 of 435 House elections were decided by fewer than 10 percentage points.
On a sunny March morning I drove north on Route 19 toward Deep Mine 26, Lick Fork, Lower Banner seam, in Dickenson County, at the extreme southwest corner of Virginia in the heart of Appalachia. There were coal-miner songs on the radio: "And when I die, dear Lord in heaven,/Please take my soul from the cold, dark mine." I passed through the tiny coal-camp town of Coeburn, where a sign read home of friendly people, and turned right onto a corkscrewing two-lane blacktop that led me past tired old farmhouses, dilapidated trailer homes and abandoned log cabins as I wended up into the mountains. Frequently I had to slow down to let 22-wheel trucks go hurtling past me, and every so often I had to stop to let children cross the road after the school bus dropped them off or to give a beaver a chance to scuttle by. While waiting I'd glance down the ravine at the rusted wrecks of cars.
Consider the fate of young Natalie Reid. Some people are born with natural athletic ability, some with an acute mind, some with three nipples. Natalie was born with very particular DNA, causing her to bear a striking resemblance to the world's sexiest, most famous celebutante.
I met Hunter S. Thompson when we covered the 1970 Kentucky Derby for Scanlan's Monthly. He was not what I had expected after reading his book on the Hell's Angels. No timeworn leather shining with old sump oil, no manic tattoo across a bare upper arm and certainly no hint of menace. He did have an impressive head cut from one piece of bone, the top part covered down to the eyes by a flimsy tight-brimmed sun hat. His eyes revealed nothing of what he thought of me. I found out later that his first impression was of "a matted-hair geek with string warts." Despite all that (or because of it) we worked together for the next 35 years, on Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and the other F&Ls and on more than a dozen books (the last was Fire in the Nuts, which I did as a limited chap-book of 150 copies in 2004), many assignments, movies and dozens of magazine articles. We covered the fall of Richard Nixon, the Ali-Foreman fight in Zaire, the Super Bowl, the America's Cup, the rise of greed and the slow erosion of personal freedoms in America that Hunter always railed against.
Racing from zero to 60 mph in three seconds happens faster than it took you to read this sentence. Not many cars can run like that, but we have a couple pictured here, playboy has rounded up a garageful of cars so exotic, there's not a Ferrari or Lamborghini in the bunch. Street racers like this don't simply roll off assembly lines; they're crafted meticulously, one component at a time, in small shops by skilled artisans. The lowest priced among this stable costs $95,000; the highest is $1.3 million. The slowest will hit 160 mph, the fastest over 250. But enough talk. Let's ride.
When they took Aquiles Maldonado's mother, on a morning so hot it all but seared the hide off the 120,000 stray dogs in Caracas, give or take a few, no one would have guessed they would keep her as long as they did. Her husband was dead, murdered in a robbery attempt six years earlier, and he would remain unconcerned and uncommunicative. But there were the household servants and the employees of the machine shop ready to run through the compound beating their breasts, and while her own mother was as feeble as a dandelion gone to seed, she was supremely capable of worry. As were Marita's four grown sons and Aquiles's six children by five different aficionadas, whom she looked after, fed, scolded and sent off to school each morning. There was concern, plenty of concern, and it rose up and raced through the community the minute the news hit the streets. "They took Marita Villalba," people shouted from window to window while others shouted back, "Who?"
Strolling the beach in Santa Monica with Berlin native Janine Habeck, we immediately think that this fine fräulein represents a well-articulated argument for the value of immigration. Although she was named Germany's Playmate of the Year 2005 in our sister publication and appeared in our July issue's World Soccer Team lineup, the 23-year-old has long dreamed of becoming an American Playmate. "This is only the second time a German Playmate has immigrated to American playboy," she says proudly, delighted to follow in the footsteps of Ursula Buchfellner, Miss October 1979.
In 1957 Ike was a year into his second term as president. You could buy a pack of cigarettes or a gallon of gas for a quarter. Collier's magazine had just folded, and its tradition of selecting a college football All-America team, derived directly from the original All-America selections Walter Camp had conceived in 1889, was about to end with it.
Gala premieres and celebratory cast-and-crew screenings are commonplace in Hollywood, but few advance screenings are as intriguing or enticing as the one that takes place every time a new episode of The Girls Next Door arrives at the Playboy Mansion, Playboy editor-in-chief Hugh M. Hefner takes the disc upstairs to his bedroom, plops down on the bed with three young women who also happen to be the stars of the show and settles in for a private viewing party.
Below is a list of retailers and manufacturers you can contact for information on where to find this month's merchandise. To buy the apparel and equipment shown on pages 35--36, 98--105 and 154-155, check the listings below to find the stores nearest you.
Playboy (ISSN 0032-1478), September 2006, volume 53, number 9. Published monthly by Playboy in national and regional editions, Playboy, 680 North Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, Illinois 60611. Periodicals postage paid at Chicago, Illinois and at additional mailing offices. Canada Post Canadian Publications Mail Sales Product Agreement No. 40035534. Subscriptions: in the U.S., $29.97 for 12 issues. Postmaster: Send address change to Playboy, P.O. Box 2007, Harlan, Iowa 51537-4007. For subscription-related questions, call 800-999-4438, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.