Saturday, October 01, 2005

Those darn gals are just so stupid

This is beautful. Joining the chorus of Republican overkill in response to ABC's new show "Commander In Chief" is a woman blogger whose name is new to me, Debbie Schlussel. From what I can tell, she seems to be something of a lower-rent, lower-profile Ann Coulter. Whose name she invokes in the first paragraph of her badly formatted web-site bio, so it's a safe bet she wants to encourage the comparison.

Anyhoo, as previously discussed, I don't hold much of a brief for "Commander In Chief." (Hey now, that rhymes). I thought the pilot was witless and derivative. The most interesting thing to me about it has been and now remains the fact that Republicans are all so aflutter, you'd think they were chickens and Geena Davis had just shown up with a hatchet.

And after all, as Schlussel argues, ladies can't be trusted with the tools of men.

...this is what a female President will be like as brought to you by Oprah and the women of "Desperate Housewives"--and the legions of female fans who love them. Do you want them picking the leader of the free world?

I don't.

Here's why. Every presidential election year, Harvard's Shorenstein Center conducts 26 polls. Each time, the school finds that women didn't quite know what was going on. Men, on the other hand, were more likely, during the preceding day, to have thought about the elections, talked about it, and read or heard about it on the news.

So if she's right, obviously, this means women shouldn't have the vote at all, should they? Back into bondage with you, sister suffragette(Ohhh, wham bam thank you ma’am!).

I do give Schlussel credit for one thing, though. She manages to come up with a joke that makes "Commander" writer Rod Lurie look positively Sorkinesque.

It gets worse from there: a joke about how if women were running the show instead of Moses, the Jews would have asked for directions, and been in Israel in a week, instead of wandering the desert for forty years.

No, they'd have spent forty years searching the tent closet for the outfit of the day and asking, "Does this make me look fat?"

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha...because, you know how gals are obsessed with physical appearance. Fortunately, Schlussel is free of this character defect...

Of course, an anti-female joke on the level of the Moses joke would never make it on the air--without Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan, and the whole gang of feminist hags bitching and clamoring for sensitivity training.

...Hillary Clinton, Madeleine Albright, and most other liberal women that have been mentioned in the role of President are hardly attractive--or even straight-looking

Now, I'll admit I've never had much of a crush on Madeleine Allbright, but Hillary Clinton I've always thought was at least attractive. Though moreso before she was subjected to enough unprecedented hatred and humiliating scandal to put a dent in Jodie Foster's self-esteem.

I choose not to deal with the non-sequitur and likely homophobic "straight-looking" comment and move on instead to Schlussel's next bizarre assertion:

From soap operas to "Desperate Housewives," to "Oprah" to "America's Next (Non)Top Model," to "Sex & the City" syndicated re-runs, TV is dominated by women. The problem is that there aren't enough men. And the men that are on TV (unless you count pro football) are incompetent, unemployed fools, absent dads, and loser criminals and drug users.

Now, granted, I don't watch much televison and clearly, I'm not watching the same shows as she is. Of those I do, "Boston Legal" is about lawyers, not loser criminals (avoid the obvious joke). "Supernatural" is about a couple of dudes. Chris on "Everybody Hates Chris" doesn't have an absent dad. "Veronica Mars" certainly doesn't either. Even the girliest show I watch, "Gilmore Girls," has Luke, who is competent enough to own his own succesful business and the farthest thing from a fool.

And though he may be currently unemployed and a one-time drug user...well, you go tell Jack Bauer he's an incompetent and foolish absent dad, and a loser. I'll wait in a corner to collect the body.

As a side note, Schlussel mentions she finds the idea of women coaching men's sports "absurd." I've never made any secret of my ignorance of sports but I'm under the impression that men coach women's sports. So why...but then, perhaps that's a question that shouldn't be asked.

In fact "questions that shouldn't be asked" seems to be a theme both in the general Republican response to this series, and the specific right-wing blogger I cited earlier about the George Clooney movie.

In both cases, critics seem absolutely unwilling to let a piece of entertainment fall or rise on its own merits. There was a time, when I saw conservatives doing the same thing about "The West Wing," that I thought that when you see everything in terms of politics, you assume everybody else does too.

Now I think it's more than that. They really are--there's no other word for it--threatened by the thought of things like journalists doing their jobs and strong women. Any representation of these as even potentialy good things must be banished and scorned.

Which would lead one to the question: What are they so afraid of?

ETA: And thanks to Lauren and Feministe for making this a Sunday Read. I'm in some interesting company...

I will shine a blinding light through those hearts

Judd at Think Progress thinks he's found a real story in the White House trash.

When an administration has to reveal something they don't want people to pay a lot of attention to, they do it on Friday. Because fewer people read the paper on Saturday. What don't they want a lot of people to pay attention to today?

Just this:

Dick Cheney was directly involved in the "Wilsongate" leak scandal.

So you gotta ask yourself: Just how much higher can it go?

I've got a feeling 2006 is gonna be a good year...

ETA: How much higher can it go?

Pretty high, apparently.
Near the end of a round table discussion on ABC’s This Week, George Stephanopoulos dropped this bomb:

Definitely a political problem but I wonder, George Will, do you think it’s a manageable one for the White House especially if we don’t know whether Fitzgerald is going to write a report or have indictments but if he is able to show as a source close to this told me this week, that President Bush and Vice President Cheney were actually involved in some of these discussions.

This would explain why Bush spent more than an hour answering questions from special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald.

Oh dear.

As I've mentioned once or twice both here and on the old blog, George Clooney has a new movie coming out to which I'm very much looking forward. It is the story of Edward R. Murrow and the fall of Joe McCarthy.

The film is evidently a labor of love for Clooney, who directed, co-wrote, and stars in it as Murrow's producer. Whatever his levels of skill at any of those crafts (I like him as a movie star but haven't seen his previous film as director), no one can doubt his willingness to put his money where his mouth is.

According to an article written for The Wall Street Journal and syndicated to The Seattle Times, which is where I saw it:

To keep costs down, Clooney took only $1 as co-writer of the screenplay, and he endorsed his $120,000 directed-fee check back over to the production. As an actor in the movie...he was paid the SAG minimum.

At one point, Clooney says, the insurance company for the film yanked its policy because it feared his back problems...would prevent him from finishing. To get the policy reinstated, Clooney volunteered his home, valued at $7 million, as collateral.

Right-wing blogger Don Surber writes:

I see where George Clooney is doing a movie on Edward R. Murrow vs. Joe McCarthy.

Well, actually, he has done such a movie. A little thing called tense. But more importantly, Mr. Suber also wants to know: about for his next little-guy-takes-down-the-big-guy flick Clooney does the Ray Donovan story? You know, the Reagan appointee who faced false prosecution? I even have a title for it: "Where Do I Go To Get My Reputation Back?" Those were Donovan's words after an after-the-fact acquittal.

Ah yes, Ray Donovan. For those of you who don't recognize the name, Donovan was Reagan's first Labor Secretary (not a "little guy"). He distinguished himself by easing requirements for the labeling of hazardous chemicals in the workplace. An investigation regarding a union payoff by his former firm did not, at first, produce sufficient evidence to prosecute. But neither did it exonerate him. Two years later he was indicted, saying the investigation was (sound familiar?) "obviously partisan." He resigned after being ordered to stand trial, but it's true he was aquitted of those specific charges. But to assume his "reputation" was spotless beforehand seems to be stretching it, according to contemporaneous reports.

Everyone has done McCarthy to death. How about something fresh, Clooney?

Really? According to that same WSJ article, in a June test screening:
Less than half of the audience knew about the communist witch-hunts of the 1950's that serve as a backdrop to the plot.

Clooney has also said in TV interviews that people who've seen the film, in which McCarthy is represented by TV and film clips of the genuine article, have asked who the actor playing him is.

If you know the story, and especially if you've seen tape of the broadcasts, you know Clooney is right when he calls it a peak of broadcast journalism. Does that sound like something "Everyone has done to death?" Or does that sound like something that, if well-told, at least has the ingredients for a critically praised, maybe even award-worthy movie(think Redford's Quiz Show)? No one expects a blockbuster. It'll be a good movie or it won't, but the unshaded light in which Surber is attempting to put it-
Ronnie Earle is more Hollywood's caveman politics style: Conservative evil, liberal good.
-is both disingenuous and dull.

Following Up

...on that Suicide Girls story, Lauren's found an interesting thing or two.

Something on Dictionopolis, the kingdom of words

On Daily Kos, Armando has a smart post about an unfortunate, though perhaps minor phenomenon: Lefties defending, at least in part, Bill Bennett's recent statement about aborting black babies bringing down the crime rate. Al Franken was doing this a little bit on his show yesterday (I watch the Sundance Channel version), and Armando's found examples of Matt Yglesias and Brad DeLong doing the same.
DeLong simply misses the point - arguing that Bennett was not calling for such a measure. I don't think anyone sensible thought he was. Of course the real issue was the correlation of African Americans with criminal propensities.

My thing is, I simply don't believe the spin that Bennett was using Swiftian satire to make a point. I think in William Bennett's mind, crime=black and vice versa. Like most of those who believe similarly, he's smart enough not to say such things around people most of the time, but here he slipped, and there was a microphone in front of him at the time.

But let's say I'm wrong. After, all, I don't know the man. Let's say some of Bill Bennett's most cherished friends are black people. Still, as Armando writes,
Bennett's choice of examples was unfortunate, apt to cause consterntion and hurt among African-Americans...[and]...insensitive...The timing of their tone deafness also is worth noting. We have spent a month discussing the racial component of the government response to Hurricane Katrina. And a racial divide has been revealed.

This is a lose/lose situation for Bennett, and I would not be quick to defend him. At best, he is an insensitive crumb, at worst, a virulent racist. Either way, he deserves no more than scorn.

Friday, September 30, 2005

If I could save time in a bottle


More Muppet stuff

Because I'm easily flattered into continuing something. News From ME has images from the new series of Muppet postage stamps that include several of the characters and, up top there, our hero.

For my own sanity, I have to believe that moments after these pictures were taken, an orgy broke out

A blog called Liberal Serving found a selection of old records by white (really, really white) gospel groups of the '70s. Here is but one example.

Now, I ask you, wouldn't that be just a little less creepy if you knew that moments after the shutter clicked, that cute little blonde at far left was pulled down onto the grass by the fella in front of her, who roughly grabbed her heaving shoulders even as the brunette started in, ripping off her thin...


Don't know why I went there.

Unless, of course, it has something to do with the titles of these albums which, I gotta tell ya, are not that hard to read something into.

Dig these.

I'll Be There. "I'm there...are you almost there?"
Let's Just Trust The Lord. "Is it okay if I come in you?"
Praise The Lord...Now! "Oh my, now!"
And, of course...Rise Again.

I am so going to Hell.


Ari Berman: The indictment sent a shock wave through the GOP establishment, which is already reeling from a swath of criminal and ethics investigations. Three individuals, eight corporations and two political action committees connected to DeLay have been indicted as a result of the probe. In addition, the government's top procurement official, David Safavian, was arrested in September for obstructing a criminal investigation into über-lobbyist Jack Abramoff, a close DeLay ally. Abramoff himself is under criminal investigation for defrauding Indian tribes and was indicted for wire fraud in Florida in a separate case. Top White House aides, including Karl Rove and Scooter Libby, have been targeted by a special prosecutor investigating the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame. Representative Duke Cunningham announced he would not run for re-election after overselling his house for $700,000 to a military industry lobbyist; he too has been indicted. FDA chief Lester Crawford resigned unexpectedly after just two months on the job, possibly because of failure to report his wife's sizable pharmaceutical-industry holdings. And DeLay's Senate counterpart, Bill Frist, is battling possible insider-trading charges for dumping millions in HCA stock, a company founded by his father and run by his brother, weeks before it plunged in value. The U.S. Attorney in Manhattan and the Securities and Exchange Commission opened an investigation into Frist and HCA in September.

Sixty percent of respondents in a recent Democracy Corps poll say the country is moving in the wrong direction. A generic Democrat running for Congress in 2006 beats a generic Republican by 9 percent in polls. Congress's approval is at an all-time low, and so is Bush's: 45 percent of respondents in a recent Democracy Corps poll are "finished with him." More and more Americans will learn about Congressional leaders through the lens of scandal and sleaze, underscoring the impression that Republicans care more about special interests than average Americans.

That sound you hear is every single Democrat in the nation giving a great, big sigh of satisfaction.
"DeLay's name ID spiked as the scandals grew," says Karl Agne of Democracy Corps. "Now it's up to Democrats to distance themselves from the mess in Washington and articulate what they're going to do differently."

Aw, man, don't kill my buzz...

ETA: And the truth shall make you free. Via Hofmania,

The downward spiral of the Bush Years continues. Among the material in this package are the horrific videos that Sy Hersh witnessed. Judge Hellerstein's comments are pure gold.

Judge Orders Release of Abu Ghraib Photos
Judge Orders Release of Pictures Depicting Inmate Abuse at Abu Ghraib Prison in Iraq

A federal judge Thursday ordered the release of dozens more pictures of prisoners being abused at Abu Ghraib, rejecting government arguments that the images would provoke terrorists and incite violence against U.S. troops in Iraq.

U.S. District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein said that terrorists "do not need pretexts for their barbarism" and that suppressing the pictures would amount to submitting to blackmail.

"Our nation does not surrender to blackmail, and fear of blackmail is not a legally sufficient argument to prevent us from performing a statutory command. Indeed, the freedoms that we champion are as important to our success in Iraq and Afghanistan as the guns and missiles with which our troops are armed," he said.

This is a shout goin' out...

...To Shakespeare's Sister, which blog I only discovered and added to my "rotation" a little over a week ago. I like it because they ask good questions, aren't afraid to pause for thought, and make compelling arguments.

And because they gave me some love "for muppet blogging, among other things." Check 'em out.

Mystery Right-Wing Talking Points Theatre 3000

Agitprop found a list of things young armchair warriors are being told to say when asked: Why, if you support the war, aren't you serving? Get this:
Where were these leftists when Clinton was sending our troops to Kosovo, Somalia, and Haiti? They weren't signing up then.

Unless my memory escapes me, when Clinton was sending our troops to Kosovo, Somalia and Haiti...we had enough troops to do the job. In Iraq, we don't, which is kind of the point. It's called walking the walk if you're gonna talk the talk.
The troops in our programs tell us it is so important to continue the battle of ideas on campuses and to support the men overseas through programs like what we did with Freedom Alliance to send needed supplies and thank you notes over there during the conference.

Well, first of all, this is a run-on sentence and...wait a minute. Thank you notes? Thank you notes? "Dear G.I. Thank you for putting your life on the line WMD' wait it prevent the further rise of, that's not it either, bring Democracy and freedom to a land that sorely needs and wants...oh, darn! Oh well, just thanks for whatever it is that you're doing over there. All of us here at the frat house really appreciate it, that is, when we're not too busy smoking bongs and gang-banging some sorority slut. You be careful out there!"

Thursday, September 29, 2005

I will scream and sulk and pout, until my poor skeleton steps out

Tas has a good post at Liberal Avenger today about the virtual abandonment of the antiwar protesters by the very people who should be harnessing their force: The big time Democrats. As he/she/it (I don't know Tas's circumstance) points out, Bush republicans love to site things like the few communists and such among the hundreds of thousands of people who protested last week as reason to discredit the whole movement.

Which is really no more than I expect from Bush republicans, who not only can't see the forest for the trees, they can't see a forest without thinking "Hey, let's burn that down!" But what's unfortunate is that, if Tas is correct:

And isn't it just a kick in the ass when Democrats then point to those communist front groups as a reason to back away from issues that they support? Thinking about this logically, it doesn't make any sense because it's downright hypocritical. Strategically, it's just poor planning and it places the left on the defensive because the Democrats, parroting GOP talking points, have effectively given the high ground on defining who these protesters are to the Republicans.

I think the following speaks to the cynicism of people who questioned the effect the protest would have on the party presently in power. In my view, the protests were never about the party in power. They were about desperately trying to get a sleeping giant to wake up.

And start realizing that a majority of Americans would have their back. If they'd just show us there's a backbone in it.

...we have hundreds of thousands of people marching in the streets who might as well be shouting, "Democrats! Please, please support us!" But no matter how much they beg, the Democrats can't make the obvious connection that if they finally claimed these protesters as their own and organized them, then they could push groups like International ANSWER out of the picture because they would no longer be needed. With one swoop, they could kill a Republican talking point and look like an opposition party for once.

It's about time the Democrats stopped hemming and hawing. It's time to step right up.

I of course, can agree with that. My thing would be to add that I think the reason most Democrats find themselves unable to support the protesters is more than just fear of being labeled "communist." (You know, in 2005, when that really means something.)

I think, and you probably know where I'm going with this, it's because you can't find a big time Democrat in power who didn't support the war. And they cannot say, they simply cannot say, the simple words:

"I was wrong."

Whoever the Democratic nominee ends up being in 2008, I am increasingly convinced it's going to have to be somebody who can stand up and say they never, ever, supported Bush's terrible mistake of a war in any way, shape or form.

No hairsplitting "Well I voted for the resolution, not for this..." Bzz! Your time is up, Mrs Clinton, Mr. Kerry. You had a chance to vote your consience and you chose instead to trust a known incompetent because you thought it would redound to your credit politically.

Thank you for playing, we have a few parting gifts for you, but we need a leader.

Alms for the poor

If you look over to the right there and click the View my complete profile link you'll find, among other things, a link to my Wish List. If you're amazed at the quality of posts on this site (I know I am), please consider making a small donation to the Buy Ben Those Books And CDs He Can't Score Through The Ink 19 Gig Fund. I thank you.

There used to be a ballpark right here

This used to be a country that produced leaders and people with vision and talent.

Now we're propping up crash test dummies dressed in costumes and pretending they serve the same function.

Anne from Peevish is understandably depressed about the grand scheme of things.

I hope you're happy

Well, Roberts has been confirmed, as expected. I hope those of you who think it isn't really that big a deal are proven right. Kos has a couple of ideas about what comes next in the nominations, including:

The Priscilla Owen (or someone equally wingnutty) option, which would thrill the American Taliban, but would also force Democrats to stick together for that "bright line" showdown.

Yeah, I know. Did anybody else sense a shiver going down their spine at the words "Democrats...stick together?"

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

This is great!

You know the record "White Lines?" Sure you do. But haven't you always wondered how it would sound with rapmaster George W. Bush centerstage on the mike? Of course you have. And now you can find out.

(Be somewhere where you can listen to an audio file for two-three minutes, and be prepared to crack--tee hee--a big grin even as you're getting down)

TV Update Six

Veronica Mars. God, I love this show. I spent what seems like a quarter of my time on the old blog trying to get the word to those of you who were overlooking this four-leaf clover. Which was most of you.

Now I'm just gonna say: The second-season premiere was the kind of season-opener where you can't quite believe they packed so many things into it. It set-up this year's "Who Killed Lilly Kane?"; actually, it set up a couple of "Who Killed Lilly Kane?'s" They upped the stakes, as they say in Burbank, California, and the script was as smart as I've come to expect from Rob Thomas.

Kristen Bell was as good as or better than ever, surrounded by the stalwart supporting cast. Please god, let that "Emmy Idol" thing have paid off, because UPN, in what some might call a perverse show of bravado, have scheduled her show opposite Lost.

You remember that list I talked about last month of

movies that have female characters that aren't unbelievable icons of strength or bumbling idiots or some other stereotype but actual well-written, believable characters[?]

Well, that list was of movies but if we're talking about TV characters, then Veronica Mars is near or at the top of the list.

Oh, and they also had Charisma Carpenter in a bikini...and less.
Charisma Carpenter can act, as those of us who remember the best days of Buffy and Angel know, but let's not kid ourselves: She knows how to stuff a wild bikini. So let me run this down for you:

Multiple mysteries, smart writing, good acting, a strong woman centerpiece and eye candy like that. What more can they do? Just watch a little, will ya?


Jerry Juhl, R.I.P.

Jerry Juhl, who wrote or co-wrote almost every major Muppet project of the past 30-something years, was reported dead today. Man. A Muppet Family Christmas, Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas, The Muppet Movie, The Great Muppet Caper, Muppet Treasure Island... not to mention The Muppet Show itself and Fraggle Rock.

He also worked briefly for Jim Henson as a performer before turning his hand to writing full-time. There's disgracefully little about him on the net at the moment, but good old reliable Mark has a brief obit here.

He had a hand in shaping most of the major Muppet characters but especially The Great Gonzo, which he sometimes described as his personal favorite.

My pal Ken Plume is preparing a lengthy bio and obit which will appear soon on IGN FilmForce. I'll post a link when it's up. This is a sad day for those of us who love the wit and glory of The Muppets because an awful lot of that came from Jerry Juhl.

And now, it's time once again to play everybody's favorite game show...

...Who Said It?
... I believe that this nation sits at a crossroads. One direction points to the higher road of the rule of law. Sometimes hard, sometimes unpleasant, this path relies on truth, justice and the rigorous application of the principle that no man is above the law.

Now, the other road is the path of least resistance. This is where we start making exceptions to our laws based on poll numbers and spin control. This is when we pitch the law completely overboard when the mood fits us, when we ignore the facts in order to cover up the truth.

Shall we follow the rule of law and do our constitutional duty no matter unpleasant, or shall we follow the path of least resistance, close our eyes to the potential lawbreaking, forgive and forget, move on and tear an unfixable hole in our legal system? No man is above the law, and no man is below the law. That's the principle that we all hold very dear in this country.

Now, Who Said It? Was it...
The late, great Johnny Cash?
Joan Baez?
Yoko Ono?

Or was it...

The lights are going out

There's a painting on the wall
That wasn't there at all
Ten minutes ago
There's a girl who walks the line
She's with you all the time
She won't let go
And I can't see me with another girl
As everything slows down across the world

The lights are going out
One by one
across the world
With faces turning down
The night will hide the sound
She comes to you

And I can't see me with another girl
As everything slows down across the world

In a harbor safe from storm
She waits for dark and finds
She's seen you there
And time and time again
You hear her call your name
She calls for you

And I can't see me with another girl
As everything slows down across the world

The lights are going out
One by one
across the world
The lights are going out
One by one
Across the world

-OMD, "The Lights Are Going Out"


Well, this is potentially troubling. A group of "Suicide Girls" have quit the site,
...bashing the SuicideGirls alt-porn empire, saying its embrace of the tattoo and nipple-ring set hides a world of exploitation and male domination.

The women are spreading their allegations through the blogosphere, raising the hackles of the SuicideGirls company, which has until now enjoyed a reputation as porn even feminists can love. It offers burlesque tours, clothes and DVDs in addition to a sprawling online library of naked punk and goth women.

Wired News

Now personally, while I, of course, mainly read Suicide Girls for the articles, I admit I have browsed my way through the pictures a time or two, though I was never a member. I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, for god's sake, rocker chicks with piercings have a special place in my libido.

And I bought the hype that these were "empowered" women somehow celebrating female sexuality. As opposed to the exploited co-eds of Girls Gone Wild, that manage to make looking at naked women seem somehow sleazy.

If these allegations, and one or two other things I'm hearing around the "blogosphere" are true, you have to ask yourself: Is it possible to make "porn even feminists can love?"

ETA: I sent Lauren from Feministe a heads-up about this, because I thought she might want to blog about it. She did, and gave me a little shout-out.

ETA, again: For reasons which are not mysterious, I wanted to see what women who identify themselves as feminists thought about this story. So I sent the link to Jessica from Feministing as well; here's what she had to say. And thanks to her as well for the nod.


The continuing adventures of Stacey Campfield, Republican of Tennessee.
After the local press revealed that the Republican had been turned down twice by the Black Caucus, Campfield posted to his blog a scaled down version of Martin Luther King's I Have A Dream speech. The East Tennessee Republican introduced MLK's speech thusly: "I thought this might be appropriate."

Campfield titled MLK's speech: "I too dream."

This guy is like some sort of early Christmas present for me. A duck-humping, racist, rock-stupid, anti-sex and illiterate hillbilly from Tennessee (Knoxville, yet). Who's so dumb he doesn't even use what little brains god gave him to keep his mouth closed.

For god's sake, man, I'm from California and I'm calling you a nut. What does that tell you?

Well, this is a fine how-do-you-do

So. You know that cover story about how we're going to export American values to the Saudi people, making them free to dance to Superchumbo and wear rollerblades and short skirts? Well, funny story. Turns out they may not...actually...kind of...want that.

"There is more male chauvinism in my profession in Europe and America than in my country," said Dr. Siddiqa Kamal, an obstetrician and gynecologist who runs her own hospital.
"I don't want to drive a car," she said. "I worked hard for my medical degree. Why do I need a driver's license?"

~Courtesy of somewaterytart (greatest blogger name ever) at Shakespeare's Sister.

Sorry about that, Chief

...but I forgot to say anything about the passing of Don "Get Smart" Adams.

The Jack Davis drawing is courtesy of news from me, where you can also find this nice rememberance.

I'll just add that I think "Get Smart" fared better in revivals than do most series. I remember 1989's "Get Smart, Again!" which I think I've still got a tape of someplace, as being genuinely funny.

I would guess the fact that they actually got Leonard Stern, who'd written much of the original, to write it helped. And even "The Nude Bomb", to a nine-year-old, was kind of exciting. Though not as much as it would have been a couple of years later when I actually knew who Sylvia Kristel was.

As Mark notes, Adams spent the rest of his career doing riffs on his most famous character, in movies like "Back To The Beach" and Bud Light commercials. But he did play that character awfully well.

So here's to you, Agent 86...I hope you found happiness making people laugh, and that your last words weren't "You're standing on my chest."!

Media Matters reports:

Addressing a caller's suggestion that the "lost revenue from the people who have been aborted in the last 30 years" would be enough to preserve Social Security's solvency, radio host and former Reagan administration Secretary of Education Bill Bennett dismissed such "far-reaching, extensive extrapolations" by declaring that if "you wanted to reduce crime ... if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down." Bennett conceded that aborting all African-American babies "would be an impossible, ridiculous, and morally reprehensible thing to do," then added again, "but the crime rate would go down."

ETA: Yes, this is Bill "Book of Virtues" Bennett. The one who turned out to be a degenerate gambler.

The modern GOP. Gotta love it.

Guess what, kids?

It's the ALA's Banned Books Week! To celebrate, here are The 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990–2000, with commentary where applicable.
Scary Stories (Series) by Alvin Schwartz
Daddy’s Roommate by Michael Willhoite
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier

Whereas most people whove actually read it tend to think this is one of the undisputed classics of children's literature.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

Don't get me started.
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
Harry Potter (Series) by J.K. Rowling

Never read any Harry Potter myself, but anything that gets that many kids that excited about reading is okay by me.
Forever by Judy Blume

Sure, ban the woman who's probably responsible for more happy memories of childhood reading than any other author.
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

See Chocolate War.
Alice (Series) by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman
My Brother Sam is Dead by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
The Giver by Lois Lowry
It’s Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris
Goosebumps (Series) by R.L. Stine

See Harry Potter.
A Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Newton Peck
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
Sex by Madonna

Okay, granted, Sex is not appropriate for children. Hell it's hardly appropriate for adults. Madonna naked and bored, surrounded by lesbians. Madonna transformed into a feminist, sex-positive dominatrix. Anything but Madonna actually looking like a warm human being with whom one might actually want to have sex.
Earth’s Children (Series) by Jean M. Auel
The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
Go Ask Alice by Anonymous
Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers
In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak

Because when Maurice Sendak draws a penis, it's an atrocity.
The Stupids (Series) by Harry Allard
The Witches by Roald Dahl
The New Joy of Gay Sex by Charles Silverstein
Anastasia Krupnik (Series) by Lois Lowry
The Goats by Brock Cole
Kaffir Boy by Mark Mathabane
Blubber by Judy Blume

See Forever.
Killing Mr. Griffin by Lois Duncan

I met Ms. Duncan once. I was working in a bookstore and she stopped in, identified herself and offered to sign our copies of her new non-fiction book about the killing of her daughter. It was actually kind of a nice moment for me, because I enjoyed reading so many of her books growing up and got a chance to tell her so. Do not, do not, do not go by the movie version of I Know What You Did Last Summer.
Halloween ABC by Eve Merriam
We All Fall Down by Robert Cormier
Final Exit by Derek Humphry
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
What’s Happening to my Body? Book for Girls: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Daughters by Lynda Madaras

I had the boy version...which probably goes without saying. Though sadly not necessarily.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Well, hell, everybody knows what an offensive piece of trash this is.
Beloved by Toni Morrison
The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

Do not even get me started. Loved the movie, loved the book. Curious to see the new DVD release that Coppola has apparently re-edited to include a lot of scenes that were cut from the film.
The Pigman by Paul Zindel
Bumps in the Night by Harry Allard
Deenie by Judy Blume

See Forever and Blubber.
Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

Because the Hugo award is always a sign of mediocrity.
Annie on my Mind by Nancy Garden
The Boy Who Lost His Face by Louis Sachar
Cross Your Fingers, Spit in Your Hat by Alvin Schwartz
A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Sleeping Beauty Trilogy by A.N. Roquelaure (Anne Rice)
Asking About Sex and Growing Up by Joanna Cole
Cujo by Stephen King
James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
The Anarchist Cookbook by William Powell
Boys and Sex by Wardell Pomeroy
Ordinary People by Judith Guest

This is one of the few books about which you'll hear me say: Actually, the movie is even better.
American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
What’s Happening to my Body? Book for Boys: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Sons by Lynda Madaras

There we go. It may be worth noting that apparently, girls sexuality is more troubling than boys, since their book is more-frequently banned. And yes ladies, I know: Tell you something you don't know.
Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume

Ok, you've figured out that I have only good memories of Judy Blume by now.
Crazy Lady by Jane Conly
Athletic Shorts by Chris Crutcher
Fade by Robert Cormier

I bought this book as a (nominal) adult at the indirect recommendation of Harlan Ellison, who pointed to it and praised it during a book signing. It was worth it. This is the story that the movie "Hollow Man" wanted to be about the double-edged sword of invisibility.
Guess What? by Mem Fox
The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende
The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline Cooney
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

Because Vonnegut is a hack.
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Native Son by Richard Wright
Women on Top: How Real Life Has Changed Women’s Fantasies by Nancy Friday
Curses, Hexes and Spells by Daniel Cohen
Jack by A.M. Homes
Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo A. Anaya
Where Did I Come From? by Peter Mayle
Carrie by Stephen King
Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume
On My Honor by Marion Dane Bauer
Arizona Kid by Ron Koertge
Family Secrets by Norma Klein
Mommy Laid An Egg by Babette Cole
The Dead Zone by Stephen King
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain

See Huck Finn.
Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
Always Running by Luis Rodriguez
Private Parts by Howard Stern
Where’s Waldo? by Martin Hanford

What, are they kidding me?
Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene
Little Black Sambo by Helen Bannerman
Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
Running Loose by Chris Crutcher
Sex Education by Jenny Davis
The Drowning of Stephen Jones by Bette Greene
Girls and Sex by Wardell Pomeroy
How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell
View from the Cherry Tree by Willo Davis Roberts
The Headless Cupid by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
The Terrorist by Caroline Cooney
Jump Ship to Freedom by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier

Well I'll be damned

Tom Delay Indicted.
DeLay has said he believes the investigation by [Travis County District Attorney Ronnie] Earle, a Democrat, was politically motivated.
Because we know how the republicans hate that kind of partisan politics.

ETA: And, as Media Matters for America notes (via Kos):
a June 17 editorial in the Houston Chronicle commended [Earle's] work: "During his long tenure, Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle has prosecuted many more Democratic officials than Republicans. The record does not support allegations that Earle is prone to partisan witch hunts." This assertion supports Earle's own claim about his record; a March 6 article in the El Paso Times reported: "Earle says local prosecution is fundamental and points out that 11 of the 15 politicians he has prosecuted over the years were Democrats."

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

TV Update Five

A diary of an evening's TV watching:

8-9: "Gilmore Girls", season six, episode three. Still loving this series. About tonight's episode: Liza Weil appeared in a skirt that showed off her legs. I've spent much too much time talking about what a good actress I think she is and not nearly enough about the babeage. She's the girl on your right, BTW.

And I only say this to troll for Google searchers: Rory Gilmore sex boat. If you watched it you'd get it.

Only drawback: Tonight's episode was interupted by a friend's unfortunately-timed, and insensitively glib, response to my latest work in progress.

9-10: "Commander in Chief". Sigh. As some predicted, the inexplicably frenzied reaction of conservative bloggers to the very idea, the very notion, of this series starring Geena Davis as a female president is looking like overkill. This series is so lacking in wit that I can't see it lasting more than six episodes, seven, tops.

Here's where they lost me.

"If Moses had been a woman leading Jews in the desert, she would have stopped and asked for directions and been in Israel in a week."

Ha ha, ha ha, ha! Because you know how guys just have the darndest time asking for directions! Ha ha, ha ha, ha! Did you ever notice how black people dance differently than white people? Ha ha, ha ha, ha! And McDonalds! What's up with that? Thank you very much, I'll be here at Bonkers all week...

Ahem. Comparisons to "The West Wing" are inevitable, but I was determined to try to judge this new series on it's own merits. Unfortunately, they refused to meet me halfway. There are things the show could have done to diminish the comparison. They could have scored it differently instead of aping Snuffy Walden's work for that series.

Here's a tip: Although "The West Wing" was a series that didn't shy from the swelling music to support a moment, it didn't need it to "sweeten" flaws in the script. "Commander in Chief" does.

They could have chosen an image for their title card that didn't look as though it was taken right out of "The West Wing's" opening credits. They could have avoided shots and editing choices that can't help but look like pages out of Tommy Schlamme's playbook.

But they didn't, and that left "Commander in Chief" to distinguish itself or not solely on the basis of Rod Lurie's script. And one thing they couldn't help that points up the difference between this series and "West Wing": Rod Lurie is not Aaron Sorkin on his most overworked day.

And it doesn't help to have Donald Sutherland crusting around looking like he wants to tell Davis, "If you give me a hard time, I'll have my son, Jack Bauer, disappear you!"

Also from 9-10: "Supernatural." You know what's starting to bug me about this series? The appropriation of famous images from horror films (last week "Carrie," this week "Psycho") without adding anything to them. On "Buffy," especially in the early years, what seemed like a played-out idea or image would be revealed to have a twist or be standing in for some adolescent angst. On "Supernatural" it just looks like directors playing "Hey, lookit me" Which is not at all a bad way to promote your directoral career--it's basically how Lucas and Spielberg made their millions--but it does nothing to make an audience care about your characters.

10-9: "Boston Legal." God, I've missed this show. Who else but Kelley would have a courtroom scene with a mute plaintiff giving her testimony by playing the cello? Also, in a weird coincidence tonight, both "Gilmore Girls" and "Boston Legal" did jokes referencing the Wicked Witch music from "The Wizard Of Oz."

Kos for comedy

Bill, at Daily Kos, has a good collection of recent late-night jokes about the current administration. My fave?

"The president believes the government should be limited not in size, Jon, but in effectiveness. In terms of effectiveness, this is the most limited government we've ever had."
--Daily Show correspondent Rob Corddry

There's also some quick notes about recent events. Worth a skim.

Where is your god?

Speaking of Shakespeare's Sister, as I was just a minute ago, she makes a compelling argument for why, in her view, FEMA giving taxpayer money to churches is "outrageous:"
Notice that any nonreligious organizations who may have helped (which includes groups having provided much-needed emergency medical care) are shit outta luck, not to mention, say, a small restaurateur who fed and sheltered people on his own dime. And while I feel for small churches who took in survivors and have, as a result, experienced huge electric and water bills, the federal government ought to be negotiating with the utility companies to waive the bills, for anyone who provided refuge, sustenance, and/or medical care for survivors, rather than handing out money to churches. But I guess that wouldn’t really serve to further ingratiate President Überpatriot Christian Cowboy to his faith-based devotees.

You know what? She's right.

for should i lose my bad depression my splendid art i will betray you

A blogger called Mannion has written an interesting post bouncing off a new book. Lincoln's Melancholy purports to answer the question of whether Lincoln was "clinically depressed" (yes).

Mannion uses it as a launching spot to talk about depression and, especially, how you know if you're really depressed. He talks about a friend of his, who he thinks is walking in Lincoln's footsteps.

Even those of his friends who know the truth forget sometimes. He makes it easy. Around other people, he doesn't mope or whine or withdraw into brown studies. He's a funny guy most of the time. Witty, a great story teller, quick with a comeback. But if you know him well, you can tell he's in a mood by the change in his sense of humor. When he's feeling sad his jokes turn dark, he's more sarcastic, his view of the world and of other people fatalistic and bleak. "Aren't you cynical today," people will say to him after after a surprisingly morbid wisecrack. But they treat what he said as a joke that didn't work, not as what it is, a sign that he's suddenly finding nothing to laugh about.

"And," said my friend, "[Lincoln] knew he was 'depressed.' He wasn't so overwhelmed by how sad he was that he couldn't remember or imagine feeling anything else. He wasn't so sad that the sadness exhausted his ability to feel sad. He wrote that poem."

Which poem.

"This one. 'The Suicide's Soliloquoy.' When he was in his twenties."

Here, where the lonely hooting owl
Sends forth his midnight moans,
Fierce wolves shall o'er my carcase growl,
Or buzzards pick my bones.

No fellow-man shall learn my fate,
Or where my ashes lie;
Unless by beasts drawn round their bait,
Or by the ravens' cry.

Yes! I've resolved the deed to do,
And this the place to do it:
This heart I'll rush a dagger through
Though I in hell should rue it!

To ease me of this power to think,
That through my bosom raves,
I'll headlong leap from hell's high brink
And wallow in its waves.

Shakespeare's Sister adds that she too has a friend that Mannion's description of his reminds her of.

The thing is, he’s a writer, and there is, of course, a rich tradition of thought (as alluded to with the reference to Styron in Mannion’s post) that depression, and indeed other afflictions and the addictions appropriated to mask them, are the very things that drive an artist’s artistry, and that seriously addressing something like depression may stifle the muse. Would I be as interesting, as thoughtful, as creative, if I weren’t afflicted? It’s a terrible thing to be scared of one’s potential cure, to worry that the cure might be worse than the disease.

I don’t know that my friend and I will ever talk about these things. I think he knows I’ll listen if he volunteers, and I hope he does, sometime. I would like to tell him that even when the cure has been offered and accepted, the scars of affliction linger. It is a warning, yes—be prepared—and an assurance: You will always be brilliant. The man who inspires me now, even while on the edge of tears, will inspire me still, even if he gets the help he needs, and I find him instead on the edge of a smile.

And where do I come down? Certainly I have been depressed. And I have trouble talking about it too. Part of it is my fear of being thought a "drama queen." It's hard sometimes to think any of my problems are serious enough people should stop their busy lives to help. Even though I know, or at least believe, that there are at least one or two who would be glad to do so.

Do I worry that being "happy" would make me less creative? Yes and no. Being able to reach the little ball of whatever it is inside me that makes me able to create a character like Keitha is so...well in his book A Cure For Gravity Joe Jackson says that for him, music "has been as good a religion as any." That's how I feel about being able to create characters who shine in other people's minds. And I'm very protective about it.

But to be happy...I think the girls would come with me, don't you?

I's French, bitch!

Stephen Colbert, until recently senior correspondent on The Daily Show and soon to be seen on his own program, is interviewed in the New York Times.

It's a little bit funny...

Sony Pictures is refusing to release a new film by Albert Brooks and it's been picked up by Warner Bros. I'm more agnostic about Brooks than some comedy fans. I know there are people who think he's one of the funniest writer/directors alive. But I tend to prefer him as an actor in other people's work. Movies like Finding Nemo, the interesting but finally too sentimental My First Mister, and especially Broadcast News (my fave). They show, in my view, a talent for acting beyond comedy (though most of them are very funny).

Writing for and directing himself, the neurotic neediness of his comic persona tends to be exacerbated for me. On a completely unrelated matter, a co-worker once compared me to Brooks. To this day, I'm not sure whether she meant it as a compliment.

That said, his own films almost always have interesting and funny ideas in them, especially Defending Your Life and Lost in America. And the new one does sound promising.
...the real problem with Hollywood isn't simply its glorification of sex, money and lame old TV shows. It's that our Ivy League-educated studio elite often don't know the difference between crass and class. How's this for an example: Sony Pictures, the studio that made "European Gigolo," has refused to release "Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World," an inspired new film by Albert Brooks about a comedian — Brooks, playing himself — who is recruited by the U.S. government to go to India and Pakistan to find out what makes Muslims laugh.

The movie makes fun of comedians' neurotic neediness and State Department ineffectuality, but seems to steer clear of anything that would insult Muslims. Still, in a June 30 letter to Brooks, Sony chairman Michael Lynton said that he wouldn't release the film unless Brooks changed the title. Lynton wrote: "I do believe that recent incidents have dramatically changed the landscape that we live in and that this, among other things, warrants changing the title of the film." Sony insiders say Lynton was alarmed by the violent reaction in the Muslim world to Newsweek's May 9 story, since retracted, about a Koran being flushed down the toilet by interrogators at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay.

Brendan vs. Brendan

Brendan Miniter of

Republicans were sent to Washington in the 1950s to repeal the New Deal. Voters sent them packing when it became clear they were big spenders. In the 1990s Republicans were sent to Washington to repeal the Great Society. If they too turn out to be big spenders, they can expect a similar fate.

Brendan Nyhan:

Now, it may be true that conservatives wanted Republicans "to repeal the Great Society," but that was hardly the sentiment of the electorate as a whole, as we learned when the government shutdown backfired on Newt Gingrich and the supposed revolutionaries of the 104th Congress. And while I'm not an expert on 1950s politics, my sense is that the Republicans of the period were largely accomodationists who weren't "sent" to repeal the New Deal either.


No atheists in foxholes?

This is one of those stories that I'm not actually sure how I feel or what I think about. So lemme just write about it a little here and we'll see if we can't find out together.

FEMA plans to reimburse faith groups for aid
Civil libertarians object; religious groups ponder what to do

After weeks of prodding by Republican lawmakers and the American Red Cross, the Federal Emergency Management Agency said yesterday that it will use taxpayer money to reimburse churches and other religious organizations that have opened their doors to provide shelter, food and supplies to survivors of hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Civil liberties groups called the decision a violation of the traditional boundary between church and state, accusing FEMA of trying to restore its battered reputation by playing to religious conservatives.

"What really frosts me about all this is, here is an administration that didn't do its job and now is trying to dig itself out by making right-wing groups happy," said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

There's a lot more, go read the story. But I am genuinely torn. On the one hand, I believe very strongly in the separation of Church and State, I believe they do (and should) serve very different functions, and when they get mixed up both tend to suffer. I'm also inclined to be suspicious, for some reason, of anything and everything anyone in the Bush administration wants to do.

And frankly, this seems like the kind of thing Republicans should be pressuring FEMA not to do. Aren't they the ones who don't believe in goverment "handouts?"

But on the other, these are churches that seem to me to be living up to the notion of "Christian charity." The notion of slipping them a few tax dollars for it doesn't exactly make me red-faced with rage.

Any thoughts?

Monday, September 26, 2005

New Boston Legal tomorrow

For any or all of you who missed the first season last year because the Sunday night timeslot was inconvenient for you: The new season starts tomorrow on ABC in the new timeslot, Tuesdays at 10 PM. I really enjoy this series, and it's not just because they managed to have an episode with two lesbians in it, neither of whom were dead or evil by the end of the hour.

First and formost is the incredibly entertaining performances of the leads. The line at the Emmys about James Spader's leading character was that he's an "ethically challenged" lawyer. I think it's slightly more complex than that; he's a man who has contempt for the thing he's best at, the law. And as I've said many times, I'm really getting a kick out of the fact that William Shatner is having a renissance at this stage of his career and life.

But while keeping the focus (correctly) on the show's entertainment value, David E. Kelly often manages to produce stories that stimulate ideas without resorting to easy answers.

End of unpaid commercial endorsement.

Things I've Found In Books

Just now, between pages 114 and 115 of the Seattle Public Library's copy of The Morning After, by Katie Roiphe, the following:

--typewritten and Xeroxed onto a piece of paper roughly the size of a bookmark.

Hey, you know what's weird?

Here's what's weird. You remember the stories of what was going on in New Orleans in the aftermath of Katrina? The rapes, murders, looting and so on? Turns out, not so much.

The 200 bodies are 6, and not a murder among them; the muzzle-flash disarming was made up; the thugs didn't even attempt the prescribed and amply reported armed assault on the hotel...

The murder rate in New Orleans in the week after the storm was not even a single case higher than an average week

You can read more about it here. But here though, is the weird part. I'm under the impression, though maybe I'm wrong, that most of the folks spreading those stories were what most people who aren't somewhere to the right of Rupert Murdoch would admit is "the right-wing media." Fox news, and so on. Aided and abetted by conservative, macho, pro-Bush sites like The Corner.
Where, for example, armchair warrior Jonah Goldberg posted the following on August 29th:


I think it's time to face facts. That place is going to be a Mad Max/thunderdome Waterworld/Lord of the Flies horror show within the next few hours.

And now, of course, in light of this new information, they're blaming the media. You know, the other guys. Not them. Because they certainly wouldn't have anything to do with spreading any inflammatory, arguably racist rumors.

Certainly not.

Oh, my my

Check out this entry about one GOP family's values. It's got everything you could possibly want to make one of those '70s/'80s potboiler novels that got turned into NBC-TV miniseries: Hypocrisy, irresponsibility, scandal, a psychic, orphans, the world's most famous female statutory rapist, and political corruption.

And it's all true. Go. Check it out. Now.

Strong like an Amazon, baby

Here is what I had to say on Amazon today about the book A Widow's Walk : A Memoir of 9/11, by Marian Fontana. This is the book I mentioned last month having seen excerpted in Vanity Fair.

And by the way, I made a stupid mistake in something I said about it at that time, based on a too-quick reading of the excerpt: Fontana's husband Dave did not die, so far as we know, trying to save a specific child. That was just the way she, as a firefighter's wife, had imagined getting the news one day. Never believing it would ever really be true, that she would lose him.

But he did die trying to save people--men, women and children--and Ann Coulter did question the courage of New Yorkers. So although I was wrong about that specific, I was right about the particular, namely, there's something really wrong with Ann Coulter.

But there's not much wrong with Marian Fontana as a writer. Go read my review, and then read her book and see.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Who's that girl...Running around with you? Tell me...

Over the past two-three weeks, I've gotten a handful of comments and/or emails on this blog from people that I don't know. Which is cool. But I'd just like to know a little bit about who you are and where you came from. Or what you like or not about the blog.

So if you wouldn't mind, tap on the comments line down there to the right and introduce yourself. Tell me anything and everything you want me to know, or you think I might like to know about you.

A few suggested questions to answer follow. Use as many or none of them as you like. BTW, this is strictly for my own curiosity, I'm not conducting a demographic survey or anything.

When and how did you find my blog?
When you're not reading this blog, what are you trying to do with your life?
And how's that going for you?
Where did you grow up, and where do you live now?
Do you consider yourself to be a feminist? Why or why not?
Marital status?
Democrat, Republican, or other?
And most importantly, according to that quiz I posted on the 19th, just how girly are you?

Aaron Broussard: Part Three

So I've felt obliged to track this Aaron Broussard thing. Broussard, you'll remember, is the Parish president who made such moving comments after the hurricane in New Orleans. I said Democrats should run them on every media availible, come the next election, to remind voters of what was done and not done in the face of such a tragedy.

Then we heard that some of his account was inaccurate. Not in the particulars of what happened--a friend's mother did die senselessly, after days of calling for help. Just in the specifics of when and, arguably, who was responsible. It seemed to me then and does now that this could logically be attributed to grief rather than "liberal bias." But I was also sickeningly certain the conservatives weren't going to do that.


Then I was inspired, Now I'm sad and tired

Jill from Feministe found a good editorial in the New York Times:

...if there ever was an exhibit of the misguided conviction that for some people very little is good enough, it’s the current administration spin that the proposed Iraqi constitution is fine because the founding fathers didn’t give women equal rights either.

Among other things, the constitution drafted under American supervision does not provide for the rights of women and minorities and enshrines one religion as the fundamental source of law. Administration officials excuse this poor excuse for a constitution by saying it also refers to democratic values. But it makes them secondary to Islamic law and never actually defines them. Our founding fathers had higher expectations: they made the split of church and state fundamental, and spelled out what they meant by democracy and the rule of law.

It’s true that the United States Constitution once allowed slavery, denied women the right to vote and granted property rights only to white men. But it’s offensive for the administration to use that as an excuse for the failings of the Iraqi constitution. The bar on democracy has been raised since 1787. We don’t agree that the 218-year-old standard is good enough for Iraq

Letting it happen, everywhere fighting in the streets

From the front page of the Washington Post, here's the best story I've found so far on the antiwar demonstration this weekend.

Signs, T-shirts, slogans and speeches outlined the cost of the Iraq conflict in human as well as economic terms. They memorialized dead U.S. troops and Iraqis, and contrasted the price of war with the price of recovery for areas battered by hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Riffs on Vietnam-era protests were plentiful, with messages declaring, "Make Levees, Not War," "I never thought I'd miss Nixon" and "Iraq is Arabic for Vietnam." Many in the crowd had protested in the 1960s; others weren't even born during those tumultuous years.

Protest organizers estimated that 300,000 people participated, triple their original target. D.C. Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey, who walked the march route, said the protesters achieved the goal of 100,000 and probably exceeded it. Asked whether at least 150,000 showed up, the chief said, "That's as good a guess as any.

"It's their protest, not mine. It was peaceful -- that's all I care about," Ramsey said.

Marching past the Treasury Building, Steven Olsen, 57, and his wife, Brenda, 49, of Yonkers, N.Y., held signs bearing a photo of their son, an Army Reserve sergeant sent to Iraq after enrolling in medical school.

"I hear from him about once a month," said Brenda as her husband gently waved a placard that said, "Proud of my soldier: Ashamed of this war."