Saturday, September 24, 2005

This is sad on so many levels

So there's this fella named Stacey Campfield. He is a member of the House of Representatives in the great state of...

...wait for it...

...that's right, Tennessee. Knoxville, yet.

Rep. Campfield gained the attention of a blogger or two, and the local news down there, yesterday when he tried to join the Tennessee House Black Caucus.

Campfield is white. But, as Jesus' General posted today:
He was born a poor black child

Rep. Stacey Campfield
Tennessee House of Representatives

Dear Rep. Campfield,

I was sorry to hear that your application to become a member of the Tennessee House Black Caucus was rejected. When will they realize that the sons of the Southern Strategy are the black man's friend?

Be sure to follow the link in JG's post to Egalia from TGW's entry about the same fella, in which we learn that
Stacey Campfield (R-Knoxville) is famous in some circles for his difficulties with the complexities of 3rd grade writing skills. When Campfield began blogging a few months back, conservative bloggers were so alarmed by his difficulties with the language that they assisted him in the fine art of spell checking.

And yes, she's got examples. Man. If I'd have known some of this shit a couple of years ago, I could have had much more fun down there...

I can fly as high as the sky, I am sci-fi!

Via Slashdot: is running an article discussing their top 50 Sci-Fi TV shows of all-time. What are some of your favorites?"
Well, let's start with their Number 8...

'Dr. Who'
No sci-fi show list is complete without Dr. Who. The series ran from 1963 to 1989 and featured several men as the doctor - a time traveling, eccentric alien - and his comrades. Sure, many of the monsters were terribly cheesy, but it is a classic nonetheless.

Ahem. And returned in 1996 and 2005, the former not very succesfully, the latter rather more so. And personally, I've always felt the "cheesyness" of the monsters, etc was a test of fan character. It's easy for you poncy 'X-Files' fans with your state of the art special F/X to suspend your disbelief...we have to work for it, you know...

I'd like to say a few words on behalf of a couple of shows that don't appear on their list. First, the televised version of 'The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy'. I'm aware that Douglas Adams wasn't entirely happy with the production, but I think it stands up as a superb visualisation of his work. One that I believe will outlive the recent big screen version (which I admit I haven't seen)

And if we stretch the definition of "sci-fi television show," which they seem to be doing, we have to include 'Batman: The Animated Series. One of the finest animated series ever made, and the finest dramatization of Batman I've ever seen.

Then there's their number 7...
'The Twilight Zone'
Not only is 'The Twilight Zone' one of the greatest sci-fi shows ever, it's one of the best shows of all time. Rod Serling hosted the show from 1959 to 1964. Each week he featured a usually creepy, sometime witty, show that ranged from alien invaders to time travel.

I'll add to this that the 1985 revival, which I wrote about on the old blog here, was at least its equal; literate, well-produced and superior.

And their number 5...
'Babylon 5'
'Babylon 5' is arguably one of the best sci-fi shows ever made. Some may compare it to 'Star Trek DS-9' but with a better plot and cast - you be the judge. In the meantime, we'll give 'Babylon 5'; a thumbs up showing in the No. 5 spot.

Number 5. Cute, huh? But I wouldn't argue with "one of the best sci-fi shows ever made;" it was. And when he was on his game B5 creator and chief writer JMS was one of the best. And let's just say if you believe some of the tittle, there's a reason why 'DS-9' resembled it...

And yeah, I'd include their:
Number 27
'Buffy the Vampire Slayer'
A fantastic show about a high school student with a bad reputation who has a destiny to kill vampires meandering about L.A. Buffey Summers is played by Sarah Michelle Gellar in a kick-butt role as the tough, but attractive, vampire slayer. She battled vampires from 1997-2003.

-and most of 'Angel,' with the tacit understanding that Buffy's battle against vampires really ended in 2001. Then she died and for only-guessed-at sins, was sent to hell. Wherein her life was turned into the kind of tiresome, badly-made and worse-written TV series in which strong women are murdered, and people who claimed to admire Buffy kept calling her torturer a genius. Other than that, they're quite right, it was fantastic.

I miss any?

A short rant

I just spent I don't even want to think about how long trying to figure out how to post a comment on a blog entry by "The Anchoress." This is a religious right, pro-Bush, pro GOP, conservative blogger. She was running the why, oh why, are those mean old lefty liberals being so mean to poor, beleaguered president Bush? number, and I wanted to make a comment or two.

The "preamble" to her blog is as long as some people's entire blog entries and includes these friendly, welcoming words:
Instead of passing me food, comments will do! I ask only that you be civil, because I do believe that decent people can disagree and still be decent people

Which is certainly a reasonable request and an optimistic statement, both of which I would have done my best to live up to. Even if she hadn't asked, I hope. But here's the thing. She's got her blog set up so that it's absolutely impossible for a new user to register to post comments.

I suppose it wouldn't be exactly "civil" of me to say that it's outside my definition of "decency" to solicit comments making a little to-do about how you encourage open debate, and then virtually put your hands over your eyes and stuff cotton in your ears.

However, it is completely within my definition of a religious right, pro-Bush, pro GOP, conservative blogger.

There's something happening here. What it is...

You know, believe it or not, there are times when I feel sorry for George W. Bush. Not so sorry that I don't think in a truly "fair and balanced" world he would be impeached and forced to resign in disgrace--but sorry nevertheless.

The last time was for about a month after 9/11. When most people are alleged to have seen in him a "swagger" and a look of "unshakable self-assurance." But I remember looking at pictures of him at the time, and thinking that wasn't what I saw there. What I saw was a man who was badly shaken (as were we all) with a look saying "Daddy? Daddy! I don't want to do this anymore, daddy! You didn't tell me I'd have to do these things, daddy!"

And now we learn from the Washington Post (via AmericaBlog) that
A president who roamed across the national and world stages with an unshakable self-assurance that comforted Republicans and confounded critics since 2001 suddenly finds himself struggling to reclaim his swagger. Bush's standing with the public -- and within the Republican Party -- has been battered by a failed Social Security campaign, violence in Iraq, and most recently Hurricane Katrina. His approval ratings, 42 percent in the most recent Washington Post-ABC poll, have never been lower.

ETA: Hey, and I missed this (teach me to read carefully), but The Left Coaster heard it loud and clear:
A top Republican close to the White House since the earliest days said the absence of a "reelection target" and pressure from first lady Laura Bush and others to soften his second-term tone conspired to temper Bush's swagger well before Katrina hit. "A reelection campaign was always the driving principle to force them to get things together," said the GOP operative, who would speak candidly about Bush only if his name was not used. He said the "brilliance of this team" was always overstated. "Part of the reason they looked so good is Democrats were so discombobulated." Since the election, this official said, White House aides reported that Laura Bush was among those counseling Bush to change his cowboy image during the final four years.

Ah, the "blame the bitch" school of logic. Firedoglake discusses it a bit here. But to get back to my little fit of compassion...well, just look at these pictures.

Folks, this is not a happy warrior. He looks so small. As I say, none of this in any way means I don't think if he were a true patriot, he would have resigned soon after 9/11. On the grounds that "Who are we kidding? We all know I can't handle this."

Nevertheless, no doubt it's that girly side in me, but I do feel just the tinyest bit sorry for him. Don't worry, it'll pass.

Friday, September 23, 2005

But if you can stand the test you know your worst is better than their best

You are a

Social Liberal
(71% permissive)

and an...

Economic Liberal
(31% permissive)

You are best described as a:


Link: The Politics Test on OkCupid Free Online Dating

What pisses writers off

So, there's this new film called "Proof." You may have seen Gwyneth Paltrow doing the rounds of the talk shows to promote it. I've yet to see it, but it's being generally well-recieved by the critics.

It's based on a play of the same name, written by a man named David Auburn, who also co-wrote the screenplay. For the play, Mr. Auburn won something called the Joseph Kesselring Prize, the Pulitzer Prize, the Drama Desk Award, and the Tony Award for Best Play.

None of which would have happened if one man had not dreamed a dream and had an idea. That man, may I remind you, is named David Auburn. And it was all, apparently, so that Roger Ebert could make the first line of his review,
John Madden's "Proof" is an extraordinary thriller about matters of scholarship and the heart, about the true authorship of a mathematical proof and the passions that coil around it.

"John Madden's 'Proof.'" Five paragraphs later, Ebert gets around to mentioning the play and that oh yeah, it won an award or two. And as if that wasn't enough to get steam pouring out of the ears of any writer with the slightest self-esteem?

Dig the irony of invoking "true authorship" one line after you smash a writers face into the shit.

Fuck it. I'm writing a book. Ain't nobody ever going to say my stories about Annabel, Keitha and Colley are anything but "Ben Varkentine's..."

Thursday, September 22, 2005

TV Update Four

"Much like rock 'n' roll, school shootings were invented by blacks and then stolen by the white man."

Good news! Finally, a new sitcom of the season that I actually think is funny! "Everybody Hates Chris" definitely made me laugh more than the premieres of either "How I Met Your Mother" or "Twins," and may have made me laugh more than both of them combined. You know the laugh of delight because a line has actually surprised you? It's rare in television, isn't it? I know it is for me...but that's what I was doing.

It's more than just reheated pieces of Rock's stand-up act, though there was a little of that: Anyone familiar with his HBO specials knew what was gonna happen to "the big piece of chicken."

What I didn't know was what the reaction of Rock's dad, played by Terry Crews, would be to spilt milk. Let's just say he didn't cry over it...

"That's 49 cent of spilled milk dripping all over my table...somebody's gonna drink that!"

The series has the sharp hilarity that is Rock's trademark as a standup but also, lord forgive me for using these words but it's true, a warm family feel. And from my POV it certainly doesn't hurt that the show is set in 1982, meaning it's scored with a lot of great hip-hop, rock and soul classics from back in the day, including Run DMC, Stevie Wonder and Hall & Oates.

Comparisons to "The Cosby Show" are obvious enough to be tedious, but the show deserves it for reasons that are more than (forgive me) skin deep: Both benefit by drawing on the life of a great entertainer with a smart, funny mind. And that's to be hailed no matter what color you are.

I bought you drinks, I brought you flowers...

James Mann, our favorite Truth-To-Power teller, offers a could-be explaination for why the story about Bush's taking to drink- if it is true- was leaked.

This was given to them most likely by a White House figure- perhaps laying the ground for this?

Whenever the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, and until he transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary, such powers and duties shall be discharged by the Vice President as Acting President.

Could be BS, could be something. Time will tell. Frankly, its a perfect "out" for Bush. I can hear the faithful now...

"But he's a good man, just sick, thats all..."

Elsewhere, Shakespeare's Sister, following up on the same question, notes:
before you get all snooty about the credibility of The National Enquirer, I’d just like to remind you that particular rag has broken none too few political scandals wide open—including Gary Hart’s tryst with Donna Rice, Jesse Jackson's affair and illegitimate child, Pardongate, and Rush Limbaugh’s drug addiction. As far as political scandals go, they’re usually, well, right.

Again, we here at Dictionopolis in Digitopolis don't know, and we're not pretending we do. But...

Right, you've got the girl down on the bed, you've got her legs up on the mantelpiece

A new study finds that blogs are more likely to deal with personal matters than politics or current events, and nearly 50% of bloggers see the activity as a form of therapy.

Well doctor, it's like this. There's tension between my mother and me and my friends don't ring enough. I identify with these words by Kenneth Tynan diagnosing himself:
Possesses a Super-Ego of tremendous (though only sporadically exercised) power, in the form of reproving conscience that drives him to periodic bouts of self-punishing work; and an equally powerful Id, which insists on immediate sensual a single sentence culled from published works of psychiartrist named Dr. Bergler: 'Every writer without exception is a masochist, a sadist, a peeping Tom, an exhibitionist, a narcissist, an "injustice collector" and a "depressed person constantly haunted by fears of unproductivity.".'

And this song by Colin Hay and Thom Mooney:
Any minute now my ship is coming in
I'll keep checking the horizon
And I'll stand on the bow
And feel the waves come crashing
Come crashing down, down, down on me

And you said,"Be still, my love
Open up your heart
Let the light shine in"
Don't you understand?
I already have a plan
I'm waiting for my real life to begin

When I awoke today suddenly nothing happened
But in my dreams I slew the dragon
And down this beaten path
And up this cobbled lane
I'm walking in my own footsteps once again

Any minute now my ship is coming in
I'll keep checking the horizon
And I'll check my machine
There's sure to be that call
It's gonna happen soon, soon, oh so very soon
It's just that times are lean

And you say,"Be still, my love
Open up your heart
Let the light shine in"
Don't you understand?
I already have a plan
I'm waiting for my real life to begin

And I'm genuinely concerned about what's going to happen to my country and my planet, from John Roberts to the war in Iraq. Although, I don't give much of a damn that-shock-a model used cocaine. So I got that going for me.

So anyway, doctor...what do you mean you're afraid our time is up?

Who are the people who are Democrats?

A man named John Hawkins, writing for Right Wing News, thinks he knows. He's broken us down into four groups, about which I have only this to say:
The Radicals: Ideologically, there isn't necessarily a large gulf between this group and the "Stealth Dems." The difference is that this group is more open about their views, largely unwilling to compromise on the issues, and particularly strident in their rhetoric. The ranks of the "Radicals" have swelled considerably in recent years because of the uniting power of the internet and because losing tends to radicalize political parties.

Unfortunately for the Democrats, even though this group is politically unappealing and has a knack for alienating large portions of the electorate, they also supply a significant amount of energy and fund-raising for the Party. This often puts "Stealth Dems" and the "DLC crowd" in the awkward position of having to choose between turning off moderates by being too "loud & proud" about their liberalism or turning off the radicals by not being brazen enough.

"Whatever the public blames you for, cultivate it - it is yourself." - Cocteau

Sophie never had to make this kind of choice

As Sen. Hillary Clinton ratchets up her attacks on President Bush, some Democrats think they smell an explanation: the threat of a 2008 Al Gore presidential bid that could come at her from the left on Iraq.
The former vice president is suddenly re-emerging as a vocal and visible Bush-basher — he's slated to star at a Democratic National Committee fund-raiser for big donors in Washington next Tuesday.

"He's keeping a very strong public profile. He was the first major Democrat to oppose the Iraq war. He's keeping in touch around the country and doing a lot of speeches..."

--The New York Post

Oh my god. Imagine having to choose between Hillary Clinton and Al Gore. I suppose given that choice (come on, John Edwards!) I'd have to go for Hillary. Sorry Al, I just don't think you're suited for the big chair.

I've got my doubts about her too, but most objections to her candidacy seem to me to come down to sexism, and I can't get into that.

ETA: On the other hand, TGW here makes a not-entirely-unconvincing argument in favor of Al Gore as a "Comeback Kid."

As his speech at the Sierra Club's national convention indicates, Al Gore is not the same man who ran against Bush in 2000:

"When the corpses of American citizens are floating in toxic flood waters five days after a hurricane struck, it is time not only to respond directly to the victims of the catastrophe, but to hold ... the leaders of our nation accountable.

The warnings about global warming have been extremely clear for a long time. We are facing a global climate crisis, it is deepening. We are entering a period of consequences,"

Imagine having a president who believes in and comprehends science.
Hmm. I suppose a Gore/Clinton ticket is out of the question?

Flowers that used to grow in my heart are dying now

An "online political magazine" (they don't want to be called a blog, for some reason) called Agitprop asks:
Are War Supporters In Their Last Throes?
I don't want to get too optimistic here but this is where we stand as of mid-September 2005:

67% believe that the President is mishandling the war in Iraq
65% believe that the U.S. is spending too much on Iraq
63% believe that the U.S. should either "withdraw some" or "withdraw all" troops
59% believe that the war was a mistake (poll sources)
War supporters are truly getting desperate. As they frantically cling their chickenhawk claws to their cherished war, they know deep down that the tide is turning against their favor.

Let's not get too cute, okay fellas? It's girly.

The Corner (the aforementioned conservative, macho, pro-Bush site) has a post reconsidering criticism of John McCain. I have little to say about that. Like a lot of Democrats, there were times in the past when I felt he was "the good republican," or "the republican who talks like a Democrat."

That was before he refused to stand up for his family and swore allegiance to the man whose campaign attacked them. A man who'd avoided serving in the war in which McCain served heroically.

No, I don't like that. But as I say, I don't want to get into it too much. I just want to call your attention to the headline of the Corner post:


Oh my dear god...

From my cold, dead...well...

In the Washington Post (via the San Francisco Chronicle):
Last month, the bureau's Washington Field Office began recruiting for a new anti-obscenity squad. Attached to the job posting was a memo from FBI headquarters to all 56 field offices, describing the initiative as "one of the top priorities" of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and, by extension, of "the Director," Robert Mueller.

The new squad will divert eight agents, a supervisor and assorted support staff to gather evidence against "manufacturers and purveyors" of pornography -- not the kind exploiting children, but the kind that depicts, and is marketed to, consenting adults.

"I guess this means we've won the war on terror," said one exasperated FBI agent, speaking on condition of anonymity because poking fun at headquarters is not regarded as career-enhancing. "We must not need any more resources for espionage."

And speaking of cartoons: I couldn't get it to reproduce at a legible size, but today's Doonesbury is also quite funny.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

So. Did you hear the one about... the government announced that it is changing the symbol of our country from an Eagle to a condom?

Why? Because a condom allows for inflation, halts production, destroys the next generation, gives you a sense of security while you're being screwed, and protects a prick.

(Rephrased version of a joke, original to be found here)

I could just cry

Entry by Amanda Marcotte at Pandagon:

...there does seem to be a huge disconnect between a good deal of men and women. To put it not-so-politely, the famous alienation and ennui of modern people seems to affect men far more often than women, which is creating a sexual gap where there's a lot of really fantastic women and not enough fantastic men to love them. I don't know how much truth there is to that, but it certainly seems true.

Another big factor in all of this is that historically speaking, men really have been encouraged to seek identity through being superior to other people and this is an option that's just not realistic anymore for your everyday man. In the past, men could count on being superior to women, being both the boss of and the protector of the women in his life. Women's financial independence has basically pissed that away for a lot of men. The other option offered to men in our society is to Be Somebody--an athlete or rock star or something--and that's just not within most people's reach. Getting involved in your everyday life and finding meaning from that is sort of disdained in our culture. Taken altogeher, it's easy to see why there's a lot of ennui and alienation in American men.

I just don't want to stop and start...cause I'm steady

There's a story in the National Enquirer that Bush has fallen off the wagon.

Another source said: "I'm only surprised to hear that he hadn't taken a shot sooner. Before Katrina, he was at his wit's end. I've known him for years. He's been a good ol' Texas boy forever. George had a drinking problem for years that most professionals would say needed therapy. He doesn't believe in it [therapy], he never got it. He drank his way through his youth, through college and well into his thirties. Everyone's drinking around him."

Now, as media girl posted:

...this is the National Enquirer -- not exactly a scion of credibility. Yet people do fall off the wagon, and if anyone's in a high-pressure job, it's W. And with the reports of his radical mood shifts and angry outbursts at the staff, you have to wonder. It was only a couple weeks ago that we learned that staffers were afraid to interrupt the president's vacation to tell him about the Katrina disaster.

So I wanted to post the item, while reminding you to consider the source. But do I think it's true? Yes, yes I do. I won't pretend to know, but I think it's true. I also think it's not the first time Bush has fallen off the wagon in office.

Cast your mind back to January, 2002, four months after 9/11.

Do you really believe Bush "fainted" from "eating a pretzel?"

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Holy shit

I'm not sure, but I think a scene in tonight's Daily Show segment about the unscrupulous, smirking frat boy exploiting homeless people in Seattle (named...he said through clenched teeth...Ben) was shot by my apartment building.

They were angry with the man (TV Update One revisited)

Near the beginning of tonight's Supernatural there is a scene that opens with a caption placing us in "Palo Alto, California." Our hero, Sam, is visiting the grave of his girlfriend, Jess, who was killed at the end of last week's pilot.

Now, I happen to have grown up in and around Palo Alto, California and this looks like no part of it I've ever seen. But that's ok. Sam places flowers on Jess's grave, when suddenly a hand breaks through the dirt and grabs his wrist!

And he jolts awake from a nightmare. It's a totally blatant steal from Carrie, but again, that's ok. Here's what I don't get: His nightmares have placename captions?

I'm still enjoying the series enough to keep watching, but Sherman may have a point when he says

Watching the debut ep of Supernatural, you can clearly see this principle in action. Even the presence of an experienced shadowy director like David Nutter isn't enough to get us invested in the slickly crafted scares on display because we never once care about the show's bickering brothers (Jensen Ackles & Jared Padaleck).

I like the brothers a little more than he does, but part of that may be because Padalecki still has my goodwill from Gilmore Girls. I don't love either of them the way I've come to love characters from that or other series.

And it's true, though as I say I'm enjoying the series, so far it's mainly on the level of action-adventure. I haven't found anything truly horrific yet. Then again, I'm trying to think of the last thing on TV to really be horrifying...maybe the Gentlemen on Buffy, before that I think you gotta go back to the '80s Twilight Zone.

Except for the "Young Man" in the Angel episode "Rm w/a Vu," of course. He was to chill the blood.

(Ignore that, folks, it's an inside joke)

Ref me, I know you ref me, I know you ref me blind...

I'm referenced blind in this entry by right-wing blogger Dr. Sanity linking to a post on the conservative, macho, pro-Bush site The Corner. It looks at the job approval ratings of other presidents of the past 40 years. It's all an attempt to prove that, really and truly, this isn't a presidency in a state of disrepair.

It makes the good Doctor stand up and crow:

Clinton dipped to 38% job approval in August and September 1994? I certainly don't remember any significant brouhaha being made about it at the time.... But, obviously, considering the enormous faith that the MSM and the Left have in polls, we must conclude that their beloved Clinton was a failed president--even worse than W --using their own standards of evaluation!

One of my lefty commentors described Clinton in the thread to this post discussing Clinton's "legacy" as, "A president the American people loved even when the other guys were impeaching him."

My response at the time was raucous laughter (still is). People who live by the polls, die by the polls.

As my teen would say, BOOYAH!

I'm the "lefty commentor" she mentions. And yeah, I know: I don't think we're allowed to make up our own words either (commentor?) but let's not make a big thing about that. Because she's right, if you live and die only by the polls.

Trouble is, Clinton did not choose to start a quagmire of a war.
Bush did.
Clinton did not cynically abuse the faith of a nation and a world united like never before.
Bush did.
No lie Clinton ever told cost one American his or her life.
Just one of Bush's lies has now cost 1,900 Americans their lives.
Clinton did not reward his political cronies with jobs of critical responsibility for which they were supremely unqualified. Making them and him complicit in the deaths of hundreds of more Americans.
Bush did.

I think the American people know that. And I would point out something about the lowest numbers cited in the Corner post:

George H.W. Bush hit 29 percent in July 1992...Jimmy Carter hit 28 percent in June 1979...Richard Nixon spent most of 1974 in the 20s, hitting 24 percent just before his resignation.

Two of the three either took us to or perpetuated wars fought for murky reasons. One presided over a lousy economy, which may or may not have been his fault; trouble was, few people thought he could fix it. Few people thought he even understood what the trouble was. One could not convince Americans that he could effectively keep them safe from being taken hostage, nuclear meltdowns, or "malaise." The dishonesty of one became so loathsomely apparent he had to resign.

War without good and sufficient reason.
A troubled economy, about which a president seems to be disconnected from reality.
A failure to keep Americans safe.
Blatant dishonesty.

Three failed presidencies.


Just what it all means...

The Brad Blog, run by my friend Corey's friend Brad, has a Washington Post story about the White House official who was arrested yesterday. Forgive a much dated reference (I suspect the only person reading this blog who'll get it is Bill Sherman), but: Veeerrry iiinteresting...

The Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal reached into the White House yesterday, picking off President Bush's top procurement official -- who just barely had time to resign before being arrested.

The federal charges against David Safavian stem from his tenure as chief of staff of the General Services Administration, predating his arrival at the White House a year ago. But his arrest nonetheless draws renewed attention to the ongoing corruption and influence-peddling inquiry swirling around [Jack] Abramoff, a lobbyist well known for his connections to conservative Republicans in the White House and Congress.
And for a White House so desperate to build public confidence in its ability to respond to the Gulf Coast disaster, it doesn't exactly help that the man who up until Friday was overseeing contracting policy for the multi-billion dollar relief effort has now been charged with lying and obstructing a criminal investigation.

"His wife, Jennifer Safavian, is chief counsel for oversight and investigations on the House Government Reform Committee, which is responsible for overseeing government procurement and is, among other things, expected to conduct the Congressional investigation into missteps after Hurricane Katrina."

Monday, September 19, 2005

TV Update Three

If "How I Met Your Mother" does as well as as most critics seem to think it will, it may be this year's "Desperate Housewives." Meaning, a show that although I don't care for it, I'm pleased to see do well because I like one of the stars.

At the risk of sounding like a guy telling a girl "It's not you, it's me," part of it is that I'm feeling really weary of sitcom mechanics: Set-up, pause, faraway stare...and deliver punchline.

Still, it'd be aces with me if Alyson Hannigan had a hit on her hands. It's almost impossible for me to watch her without smiling; she has that much goodwill from both "Buffy", and even American Pie.

Nevertheless, this show never made me laugh out loud and barely held me past the first commercial.

As referenced yesterday evening, Jon Stewart is a god

Mark Evanier adds his own thoughts on the Emmys, and found a link to online video of Stewart's segment. Be sure to watch it somewhere it's ok to laugh out loud, but be sure to watch it.

Note to self: Watch The Late Late Show tonight

To see if Craig Fergeson says anything about this:

Scotland tops list of world's most violent countries — A UNITED Nations report has labelled Scotland the most violent country in the developed world, with people three times more likely to be assaulted than in America. — England and Wales recorded the second highest number of violent assaults …

ETA: Yes, yes he did.

Also, take care not to jump to any conclusions about why this conservative blog's default response to the news is: They're coming to take our guns away! It is, I swear it.


Key OMB official arrested — David Safavian, who was chief of procurement policy in the Bush administration's Office of Management and Budget until late last week, was arrested Monday on charges of making false statements and obstructing a federal investigation.

I don't know what--if anything--this means yet; further bulletins when I find them.

So it turns out conservatives actually are, in fact, quite honest in all things

Certainly there's no other conclusion to be drawn from this Wonkette entry:
Grief-Striken Man Gives Inaccurate Account; Please Attribute to Liberal Bias
MSNBC reports that the emotional testimony of St. Bernard Parish president Aaron Broussard on "Meet the Press" two weeks ago -- in which he recounted a stranded mother's horrific daily pleas for help that ended in death -- "conflicts" with the timeline of known events. No one is accusing Broussard of lying exactly -- he was "confused," there was "a misunderstanding," that kind of thing. We'd like to believe the best about him, ourselves. Still, the central point of his story has been toppled. The lagging federal response didn't kill Thomas Rodrigue's mother, though someone did: The owners of the nursing home where she drowned are being charged with her death, and the deaths of over 30 other residents. For some on the left, not being able to blame the Bush administration for this woman's death will be a disappointment. For some on the right, the undercutting of Broussard's account will be brandished as evidence of media bias and vindication of local authorities' culpability.

This, of course, comes as a surprise to no one

You Are 20% Boyish and 80% Girlish

Even if you're not a girl, you're very feminine.
You're in touch with your feelings, and your heart rules you.
A bit of a emotional roller coaster, one moment you're up and the next you're down.
But no matter what, you try to be as cute and perky as possible.

Cute and perky? My god, I'm Batgirl from the Adam West Batman TV series. Or Willow from Buffy.

Is it just me, or... anybody else starting to kind of enjoy the fact that Bush is being taken down by...a woman? From SurveyUSA, via Political Wire...the speech Thursday did not win Bush any new ground. In fact...

"The number of Americans who now approve of the President's response to Hurricane Katrina is down: 40% today compared to 42% before he announced the Gulf Opportunity Zone" in a speech last week. "The number of Americans who disapprove of the President's response to Katrina is up: 56% today compared to 52% before the speech."

ETA: CNN has worse news for Bush.

His personal qualities hit fresh lows: Only 49 percent called him a strong and decisive leader, down from 54 percent in July and 51 percent in August. Just 42 percent said he cares about people like themselves, and 47 percent called him honest and trustworthy.

By contrast, 51 percent did not consider him strong and decisive, 50 percent would not call him honest and 56 percent said he didn't care about people like them.

...only 25 percent of those polled said they had great confidence in his administration's ability to rebuild the city and other Gulf Coast communities battered by Katrina, which slammed ashore August 29.

Another 43 percent said they had a moderate amount of confidence in the administration, while 21 percent said they had little confidence and 10 percent said they had none.

ETA, again: Well, thank god there's no one around to suck all the fight out of Democrats with some soporific...oh, shit! INCOMING!
Via Oliver Willis, John Kerry:

Natural and human calamity have stripped away the spin machine, creating a rare moment of accountability, not just for the Bush Administration, but for all of us to take stock of the direction of our country and do what we can to change it. That’s our job — to turn this moment from a frenzied expression of guilt into a national reversal of direction.

We’ve seen America at its best and our government at its worst. Millions of Americans are beginning to realize where they fit in our democracy under Republican governance: nowhere.

I believe that it is well past time to speak to the heart of the problem and to propose what we must do as a country in the aftermath of Katrina.

If the president won’t stand up and provide Americans with answers, then we must be willing to stand up and propose our own solution.

Clunk. Yes, that sound you hear is my head hitting the desk.

The poll did contain one bright spot for Bush, as 60 percent of those surveyed supported the confirmation of John Roberts, his pick for chief justice of the United States. Just 26 percent opposed Roberts' confirmation, while 14 percent had no opinion.

ETA, one more time: And speaking of John Roberts...things that make you go "hmmmmm."

But seriously, those numbers would mean a lot more if better than 20% were actually paying attention to his confirmation (which, we know from previous polls, they're not). Or maybe if they knew he was ruling in a case in which Bush was a defendant at the same time he was interviewing for this job.

But, Amanda was probably right: Abortion is actually going to have to be criminalized before people wake up. Of course, by then, it'll be too late to get Roberts off the bench. And the probably-even-worse choice Bush picks for the other seat.

But hey, you gals in the blue states, don't worry about it, they probably won't come for your pills and condoms first...

Feelings are universal, only experiences are unique

Amanda Marcotte has made a post listing "the things that are wrong with me, according to the men who've loved me"...because she's leaving her boyfriend.

I don't know Ms. Marcotte (though it must be obvious I admire her blogging enormously). So, I didn't want to just tag on a sort-of anonymous mesage of support to her entry. Also, people who actually do know her seem to be covering that.

But reading her list, I'm noting ruefully how many of the things on it I've heard or infered from people who've loved me. And I don't just mean girlfriends.

I'm too opinionated.

I'm too heavy.

I'm too sexually demanding.

My voice is too loud.

People don't get my jokes.

People are put off by my honesty.

I want too much attention.

I'm a hermit.

I'm too neurotic.

I won't stand up for myself.

I'm too dramatic.

My hair's too long.

No one wants to hear that music--it's too loud/noisy/poppy/feminine.

I laugh too loud.

I expect too much.

I sell myself short.

My head's in the clouds.

I complain too much.

I overanalyze everything.

I'm angry.

I'm needy.

I'm insecure.

Your shame is never...ending
Just one psychological drama after another
We are guilty and how you ever entered into this life
God only knows, the ultimate necessity of love

-Erasure, "Drama!"

Bwa ha ha ha ha...bwa ha ha ha ha...bwa ha ha...

You know, there's nothing funnier than watching republicans fly into the highest dudgeon, pulling their metaphorical skirts high like women frightened by a mouse in a 1940's cartoon. Especially when they do it because, they cry, some Democrat has violated the tranquil civility under which our political system works.

Case in point: In what's being called a "whithering attack,"
Former president Bill Clinton criticised George W. Bush for the Iraq War and the handling of Hurricane Katrina, and voiced alarm at the swelling US budget deficit.

Breaking with tradition under which US presidents mute criticisms of their successors, Clinton said the Bush administration had decided to invade Iraq "virtually alone and before UN inspections were completed, with no real urgency, no evidence that there were weapons of mass destruction."

The US strategy of trying to develop the Iraqi military and police so that they can cope without US support "I think is the best strategy. The problem is we may not have, in the short run, enough troops to do that," said Clinton.

Now, personally, glad as I am that the big dog is snapping, I don't give him much credit for timing or political bravery: Where was this talk before the 38% approval rating, Bill? But as Molly Ivins once memorably pointed out,
"If left to my own devices I'd spend all my time pointing out that [Clinton's] weaker than bus-station chili. But the man is so constantly subjected to such hideous and unfair abuse that I wind up standing up for him on the general principle that some fairness should be applied."

Fairness and balance, of course, is the republicans job. Republicans like "Hindrocket" (and I feel compelled to point out, that is his self-chosen nickname), at the Power Line republican blog:

In recent years, the Democrats have violated many of the tacit conventions of civility that have enabled our political system to work for more than two centuries. Yesterday another barrier fell, and once again, we entered uncharted waters: former President Bill Clinton launched a vicious attack on President Bush on ABC's "This Week" program.

This has never happened before. Until now, both parties have recognized a patriotism that, at some level, supersedes partisanship.

He's right, of course. It was the Democrats who played on racist fears to win a primary, by spreading rumors that John McCain had fathered an illigitimate, half-black child.

And it's the Democrats who seem to like nothing better than to mock men and women who've served and sacrificed for their country. By distributing phony dog tags and Purple Hearts (!)to people who would never think of enlisting to fight a war they claim to support and smearing decorated, wounded men.

The Democrats did all that, and more, peeing in our pool and forever souring the free and rigorous exchange of ideas that used to characterize our political scene until the Clintons got into the White House.


(Sometimes, a man has to resort to sarcasm...)

ETA: Some others, of course, don't see it quite that way. A pro-Bush blog called Big Lizards makes the not-at-all sexist argument that:
Bill Clinton flings his dirt like a monkey with a handful of monkey byproduct, and for the same reason: to mark his territory and ward off enemies -- Republicans who might stand in the way of Billary's return to la Casa Blanca. This is, of course, the open secret we're supposed to forget: that Hillary has designs on the presidency, and that her husband would of course go along for the ride... and possibly even take the wheel when she wasn't looking.

Republican PunditGuy, meanwhile, finds this matter highly suspicious and interesting:

Bill’s verbal fire was more likely started by two possible ignitors. He is either suffering from a certain lack of media (‘world’) attention, or Hillary is getting nervous about her recent rejection by Democratic colleagues. She’s been known to do this before, and after all, Bill had his moment – it’s now time for Hillary’s closeup. In many ways, she needs the same kind of attention Bill requires, but I’ll tackle that subject another time (I’m not ready or motivated to write the ‘Hillary is a power hungry system manipulator’ meme at this moment).

Like the heroin addict with no cost access to pure china white, Bill will bask in the warmth of the media glory he’s created for himself, until the lights dim. Then he’ll do it again, and again, and again.

Okay, everybody who's shocked that Hillary and Bill Clinton are politicians, and that politicians like the media spotlight, let's have your comments. Certainly a 180 degree turn from the current administration's policies, isn't it?

There was nothing for the Scarlet Pumpernickle to do but blow his brains out. Which, he did.

Frank Rich's last NYT column to be availible free of charge highlights something about Bush's speech Thursday night that my eyes must have stupidly glossed over when I read it.

Like his father before him, Mr. Bush has squandered the huge store of political capital he won in a war. His Thursday-night invocation of "armies of compassion" will prove as worthless as the "thousand points of light" that the first President Bush bestowed upon the poor from on high in New Orleans (at the Superdome, during the 1988 G.O.P. convention). It will be up to other Republicans in Washington to cut through the empty words and image-mongering to demand effective action from Mr. Bush on the Gulf Coast and in Iraq, if only because their own political lives are at stake. It's up to Democrats, though they show scant signs of realizing it, to step into the vacuum and propose an alternative to a fiscally disastrous conservatism that prizes pork over compassion. If the era of Great Society big government is over, the era of big government for special interests is proving a fiasco. Especially when it's presided over by a self-styled C.E.O. with a consistent three-decade record of running private and public enterprises alike into a ditch.

"Armies of compassion." Sigh. "Armies of compassion." You know, I'm not one to jump on the "Orwellian" bandwagon, but..."armies of compassion." Okay, Armies:
A large body of people organized and trained for land warfare; often Army; The entire military land forces of a country.

the humane quality of understanding the suffering of others and wanting to do something about it

Y'see, this is what I meant when I said I can't watch George W. Bush speak. Thanks to Mark for recommending Rich's column, and adding:
For some reason, I keep getting e-mails from some pro-Bush group that act like the charge against the administration is that George W. Bush somehow caused the hurricane. That's so boneheaded stupid that I have to believe they know that no one's charging that. It's an old and pretty lame debate trick: Instead of responding to what the other side said, when you can't, rebut something they didn't say, which you can. Maybe you can confuse enough people into confusing the two.

Sunday, September 18, 2005


Thoughts on the Emmys:

Ellen DeGeneres's whole "like me like me like me like me like me like me" thing is starting to make me...not like her. The joke with Eva Longoria? Well, as a wise man once said, I like a joke that you can just see hailing a cab, coming on down the street...

Quentin Tarantino: Shut up.

Jon Stewart is a god.

Hugh Jackman's wife seems like a very nice person. On a completely unrelated matter, he looks good with a beard, don't you think?

Re this "Emmy Idol" thing, I still think it was a bad idea--and the fix had to have been in for Donald Trump and Megan Mullally to win. Considering the voting was on the Internet, I figured Shatner for a lock.

If Kristen Bell's tight stomach gets a few more people to watch "Veronica Mars", then I suppose it will have been worth it--but I already knew she could sing and was cute. I didn't need to see her Flashdancing about to be reminded. The songs in "Reefer Madness" are better anyway, and she sings one in (alternately) a white bra and fetish gear...

I'm sorry, my mind seems to have wandered...let me see...where was I...oh yes! I've never watched an entire episode of "Everybody Loves Raymond," yet I think Phil Rosenthal is pretty funny:

"All year long they've been asking us, do you think now that your show is going that this means the end of the sitcom, and I want to say, 'Yes,'" said "Raymond" co-creator and producer Phil Rosenthal. "Beyond that, it's the end of laughing, and soon the end of smiling..."

But I am so in love with Felicity Huffman. She's the kind of actress who makes me want to write better and more, in hopes that I can one day find actors as dedicated as she is to embody my characters.

Even though "Desperate Housewives" is not my cup of tea, I'm happy for its success because it means she's on a hit and now has an Emmy. And wasn't that one of the greatest acceptance speeches you've ever seen in your life? I'm not just saying that because she mentioned Aaron Sorkin and "Sports Night"--I thought the way she spoke of her husband was lovely.

The boys from "Boston Legal" had a good night--I've probably said this before, but it bears repeating--if someone had told you three years ago that William Shatner would not only be on a hit, but would be winning Emmys, you'd've said, "You're crazy." Denny Crane.

And hey, Blythe Danner winning for "Huff!" I must say that as with "Veronica Mars," I feel just a teensy bit superior for watching this show when, I'm told, almost nobody else is. I hope this award makes a few more people give it a chance.

Then again, that's what the writers for "Arrested Development" said, and I've tried their show more than once, and it just doesn't make me laugh.

Cool of Letterman to cite the profile of Johnny Carson written by Kenneth Tynan, one of my favorite writers. But, that quote about what makes TV different? The full answer was, "for better or worse, Carson."

Finally, a smack upside the head to whoever decided to put Lauren Graham on the same stage with Jennifer Love Hewitt. I wouldn't kick Hewitt out of bed, as they say, and in her interviews she seems like a nice enough person.

But Graham is both sexy and could wipe the floor with Hewitt as both a dramatic and comic actress. She must know it.

Right and wrong - do you know the difference 'Tween the right and the left...

So apparently...I slept in, so I missed a lot of it...apparently a few blogs on the right had a shitfit over a rumor that a surface-to-air missle was fired at an American domestic flight. Over New Jersey.

This does not, in fact, appear to be...oh what is that word...true. And TLA observes, in the post linked above:
So much of the "strength" of The Right relies on fear... They *love* being scared. They talk about 9/11 "changing everything" - without 9/11 their lives would be so boring and empty. 9/11 is a force that gives them meaning.

And I'm wondering why that should be. I mean, I understand why politicians on the right relied on fear and invoked 9/11 at any given opportunity: They were trying to preserve their power and popularity (if you'll forgive the alliteration).

But why "everyday people," even the people who voted for them, should feel the need to perpertuate it is not clear to me, and it's probably fruitless to even ask. The best guess I can come up with is: When you're scared, you don't have to think.

And as Bill Clinton said on The Daily Show during the '04 election, when people think, we--the left, or as close to it as the democrats pass these days-win. And folks on the right, I think, are going to be jumping at shadows in the next few years.

Because they're going to be grasping at any chance to "prove" that their worldview is the right one. Or more importantly--not the wrong one. This might be the most sympathetic thing you'll ever see me say about those on the right who voted for, and continue to support, the current administration:

I can understand why it would be galling to admit that you were that wrong about something this serious. I mean, this is not like being wrong about predicting the success of a TV show (I wouldn't have bet on "Desperate Housewives"), this is wrong on a scale that (mis)shaped the world.

If I had been that wrong, I probably wouldn't have wanted to admit it either. Even to myself. So I might create a world in which only the guy who drove us into the ditch can get us out again.
I saw the news last night
All illustrated with cartoons
So when they come with that opinion poll
They better not use words like
Ideology . . .
Or try to tell me 'bout the issues
Ideology . . .
Whose side are you on
We're talkin' 'bout

--Joe Jackson, "Right and Wrong"