Saturday, December 03, 2005

Green Christma$

Okay. As you may or may not have heard, a hobby horse that the Fox folk like John Gibson and especially Bill O'Reilly are riding once again this year is, to steal a title from the great Norman Corwin, "The Plot To Overthrow Christmas."

Basically it's just more carrying on designed to convince people-

Whose faith is recognized by the federal goverment in days off school and work
Whose god is mentioned on the money
And whose president keeps trying to strike down the separation of church and state

-that they are an oppressed minority.

The poor dears. A blog called The Y Files has a good entry up about this curious war on phantom Grinches.

The "save Christmas" hysteria this year seems to be worse than ever (though that's what I thought last year, too). I mean, okay, some of the ACLU-type handwringing over creches on public grounds gets ridiculous, but John Gibson carrying on about "the plot to ban the sacred Christian holiday"? Bill O'Reilly urging a boycott of stores that use "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas," and pursuing investigative reports on various stores' Christmas policies with a zeal he normally reserves for criminal-coddling judges? O'Reilly has become truly unhinged on the subject. One of his latest rants is analyzed by Michael Stickings at The Moderate Voice: O'Reilly carries on about a "very secret plan," funded by his bogeyman George Soros, to "diminish Christian philosophy in the U.S.A." by attacking Christmas. (Stickings also picks up on one of O'Reilly's favorite rhetorical tricks: to get around that pesky "establishment of religion" problem, he'll argue that things like Ten Commandment displays in government buildings are not about "religion" but about "Judeo-Christian philosophy.")

They pretend to be worked up over what they frenetically call these attempts to "ban a sacred Christian holiday." Excuse me? Sacred? I'm sorry, but that train left the station a long time ago. Since before I (and mostly likely you) was born, the most Christian philosophy most people in the U.S.A. got out of Christmas was Linus reading from the Bible. (A tasteful, well-played, and altogether inoffensive scene no matter what your religious beliefs, I've always thought.)

The religion was leeched out of Christmas years ago, and the ACLU had nothing to do with it. Madison Avenue did. Stan Freberg, the revered satirist (and himself the son of a Reverend), once made a record that caused quite a bit of controversy in its day (the 1950s). Called "Green Christma$", it was a part-musical, part spoken-word spin on "A Christmas Carol" in which Scrooge was an advertising man looking to profit from Christmas. Bob Cratchet was a lowly employee trying to prod his consience.

Near the finale, the following dialogue takes place:

CRATCHET: The people keep hoping you'll remember. But you never do.
SCROOGE: Remember what?
CRATCHET: Whose birthday we're celebrating.

And in the finale itself, we hear "Jingle Bells" punctuated with the sound of a cash register.

I wonder whether O'Reilly would play it on his radio show? But no, I don't wonder that. Not really. Fox folk have nothing against Madison Avenue-that's where the God to whom they pray lives.

Tonight, I tuned in to The O'Reilly Factor near the end to see an interview with the Rev. Tim Bumgardner, a pastor in Wellington, Florida, who is fighting to have a nativity scene included in his town's holiday display (which currently has a Christmas tree and a menorah)...When O'Reilly gave the Reverend the last word, the following exchange occurred (transcribed by yours truly from the taped rerun):

Rev. Tim Bumgardner: I think they should put a Nativity scene -- be American! Hey, celebrate Christmas -- people spend more money! Jesus makes people want to spend money!

On November 30, Media Matters reported that in apparent defiance of the O'Reilly/Gibson anti-"Happy Holidays" crusade, the Fox News online store was using the phrases "holiday ornaments" and "holiday tree." One day later, the Fox website changed "holiday" to "Christmas."

Honesty is such a lonely word

Update: At Daily Kos, Armando separates the conservatives into two groups, as a shepard separates the sheep from the goats. Honest and dishonest.

Via Think Progress, a little preview of coming attractions:

...[The] Washington Post previews the right-wing’s new counterattack against Alito opponents:

Several conservative groups, meanwhile, plan a major push beginning Monday to portray Alito’s opponents as anti-God. Talking points for the effort, which will involve ads and grass-roots organizations, were laid out in a strategy memo by…

Here’s an excerpt from the memo:

First, let’s call out the groups that are attacking Judge Alito from behind their “” moniker. Who do we find when we lift the veil? The ACLU, People for the American Way, NOW, NARAL, AFL-CIO, Human Rights Campaign,, Americans United, NAACP, NARAL (see link at end for the full list). And what theme unites these groups? An agenda to purge any and all references to religion from our public lives.

Think Progress goes on to point out that the conservatives omitted from this list, I can only assume deliberately, a few religious groups that are also opposing Judge Alito. They might also have noticed that NARAL apparently makes conservatives so spitting mad they listed it twice.

ETA: A good, concise editorial about Judge Alito in the New York Times. Those who wish to defend him are approaching the level of those who wish to defend Bush. In Bush's case, you are left with two choices: Either he is a liar or he is an incompetent. Neither is good for the country.

With Alito, it seems to come down to this: He is a man who has been working most of his adult life to be in a position to repeal Roe V. Wade. Or he is a man willing to voice an opinion, on one of the most controversial issues in recent history, with which he does not agree. In order to get ahead at a job.

Again, neither make him look very good for the country. And what does it tell you about the conservatives that they know...they know...that they cannot just say: I believe abortion should be permitted under no circumstances and a woman does not have the right to choose for herself.

They know they can't say that, because they know most Americans don't believe it. So they lie, which is what you do when niether the facts nor public opinion is on your side but you still want to win anyway.

It's what the conservatives have been doing for five years. Let's see if they get away with it again.

Who said it?

"Staying the course" may make a good sound bite, but it can be disastrous for strategy. Several of Hitler's generals told him that "staying the course" at Stalingrad in 1942 was a strategic mistake, that he should allow the Sixth Army to be withdrawn, saving it to fight defensive actions on reduced frontage against the growing Red Army. He refused, lost the Sixth Army entirely, and left his commanders with fewer forces to defend a wider front. Thus he made the subsequent Soviet offensives westward easier.

To argue, as some do, that we cannot leave Iraq because "we broke it and therefore we own it" is to reason precisely the way Hitler did with his commanders. Of course we broke it! But the Middle East is not a pottery store. It is the site of major military conflict with several different forces that the United States is galvanizing into an alliance against America. To hang on to an untenable position is the height of irresponsibility. Beware of anyone, including the president, who insists that this is "responsible" or "the patriotic" thing to do.

Who said it?

George Bush's place in history

There are some numbers. The History News Network at George Mason University has just polled historians informally on the Bush record. Four hundred and fifteen, about a third of those contacted, answered -- maybe they were all crazed liberals -- making the project as unofficial as it was interesting. These were the results: 338 said they believed Bush was failing, while 77 said he was succeeding. Fifty said they thought he was the worst president ever. Worse than Buchanan.

This is what those historians said -- and it should be noted that some of the criticism about deficit spending and misuse of the military came from self-identified conservatives -- about the Bush record:

# He has taken the country into an unwinnable war and alienated friend and foe alike in the process;

# He is bankrupting the country with a combination of aggressive military spending and reduced taxation of the rich;

# He has deliberately and dangerously attacked separation of church and state;

# He has proved to be incompetent in affairs domestic (New Orleans) and foreign (
Iraq and the battle against al-Qaida);

# He is ignorantly hostile to science and technological progress;

# He has tolerated or ignored one of the republic's oldest problems, corporate cheating in supplying the military in wartime.

The two greatest things anyone has ever said about creationism

"The effort to reconcile science and religion is almost always made, not by theologians, but by scientists unable to shake off altogether the piety absorbed with their mothers' milk. The theologians, with no such dualism addling their wits, are smart enough to see that the two things are implacably and eternally antagonistic, and that any attempt to thrust them into one bag is bound to result in one swallowing the other.

The scientists who undertake this miscegenation always end by succumbing to religion; after a Millikan has been discoursing five minutes it becomes apparent that he is speaking in the character of a Christian Sunday-school scholar, not of a scientist. The essence of science is that it is always willing to abandon a given idea, however fundamental it may seem to be, for a better one; the essence of theology is that it holds its truths to be eternal and immutable. To be sure, theology is always yielding a little to the progress of knowledge, and only a Holy Roller in the mountains of Tennessee would dare to preach today what the popes preached in the Thirteenth Century, but this yielding is always done grudgingly, and thus lingers a good while behind the event. So far as I am aware even the most liberal theologian of today still gags at scientific concepts that were already commonplaces in my schooldays."

--H. L. Mencken

As for science vs. religion I'm issuing a refraining order. Science should stay 500 yards from religion at all times.
-- The Simpsons, "Lisa the Skeptic," written by David S. Cohen

Friday, December 02, 2005

Oh boy.

So, we know about how the Christian Right has been trying to force religion into our classrooms as so-called "science." My stand remains unchanged: When they're willing to let scientists have equal time at the pulpit to discuss evolution during Sunday services, fine. Till then, no, sorry, bar them at the door.

But if ever there was an illustration of "You give some people a inch, and they takes the whole blasted yardstick," it's the Christian Right. An entry in Pacific Views shows the holy rollers will never be satisfied until anything that could possibly be seen as contrary to their views is ruled unacceptable:

Back in August, we blogged about how a group of fundamentalist Christian schools are suing the University of California in order to force the UC system to give credit for high school science courses the embrace the creationist worldview. According to the suit filed by the Association of Christian Schools International, UC's policy of refusing to give credit for classes that use textbooks that challenge the reality of evolution discriminates against 'Christian' schools and attempts to secularize the schools.

The fundamentalists' lawsuit specifically objects to UC's refusal to accept courses that use science books pubished by Bob Jones University Press and A Beka Books.

Since our August post, the suit against UC has gone to trial, and more examples of the texts used by the fundamentalist Christian schools have come to light. It turns out that it's not just the science texts that present their subjects in a manner that's troublesome. Here are some excerpts compiled by Thomas Vinciguerra in the NY Times:

"United States History for Christian Schools," written by Timothy Keesee and Mark Sidwell (Bob Jones University, 2001), says this about Thomas Jefferson.

American believers can appreciate Jefferson's rich contribution to the development of their nation, but they must beware of his view of Christ as a good teacher but not the incarnate son of God. As the Apostle John said, "Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son" (I John 2:22). [...]

"Elements of Literature for Christian Schools," by Ronald Horton, Donalynn Hess and Steven Skeggs (Bob Jones University, 2001), faults Mark Twain for calling God "an irascible, vindictive, fierce and ever fickle and changeful master."

Twain's outlook was both self-centered and ultimately hopeless. Denying that he was created in the image of God, Twain was able to rid himself of feeling any responsibility to his Creator. At the same time, however, he defiantly cut himself off from God's love. Twain's skepticism was clearly not the honest questioning of a seeker of truth but the deliberate defiance of a confessed rebel.

Mark Twain and Thomas Jefferson, people. Two of the greatest writers-to say nothing of their other accomplishments, god knows in the case of Jefferson-this nation has ever produced. A liar. A self-centered, defiant skeptic.

And BTW, Mssrs Horton, Hess and Skeggs: Christ was a deliberately defiant rebel, too.

Just as I suspected...

You scored as Mermaid. Mermaid: Mermaids are also known as Sirens. These creatures were beautiful women who tricked sailors into becoming completely entranced by their haunting voices and found death soon after. Not all stories of Mermaids are about gentle loving sea people. They are mystical, magical, and extremely dangerous. They have a way about them that brings anyone they are around to seem enchanted. They are very mysterious creatures and to meet one... Would mean certain Death. Let the song of the Sea fill your soul, for you are a Mermaid.













What Mythological Creature are you? (Cool Pics!)
created with

Darling it's better
Down where it's wetter
Take it from me...

Doers and Democrats

Via Daily Kos:
Marshall Wittmann, a former Republican political strategist now with the centrist Democratic Leadership Council, said Pelosi may have resurrected her party's most deadly liability -- voters' lack of trust in the party on national security.

"If Karl Rove was writing the timing of this, he wouldn't have written it any differently, with the president of the United States expressing resolve and the Democratic leader offering surrender," Wittmann said, referring to Bush's top adviser. "For Republicans, this is manna from heaven."

David Sirota, a Democratic strategist in Montana long critical of the party leadership's timidity, fired back: "It is not surprising that a bunch of insulated elitists in the Washington establishment -- most of whom have never served in uniform -- would stab the Democratic Party in the back and attack the courage of people like Vietnam War hero Jack Murtha and Nancy Pelosi for their stand on Iraq."

You see, Sherman, this is what I was talking about when I said that Democrats listen to too much of the Republicans' advice.

Wanna see the most moodily pretentious website you've ever seen in your life?

I give you Michael Mangia: The Official Site. Be sure to click on the picture, you don't want to miss the second photo of Mr. Mangia shilhouetted against the skyline. His album is called The Invisible Wall. No doubt it's the one between he and the ones that love him, poor little lamb.

From there, if you can take it, click on "News" and luxuriate in one or two excerpts from Mr. Mangia's reviews, including:
Each song telling it's own story of death or pain or obsession; the things reality is made of.


This man needs to be locked into a dance club with a couple of ABC records on the sound system.

Okay, the Jack Abramoff thing

I haven't said anything about the Jack Abramoff case, which other blogs are circling like lions before a kill, because I didn't think I knew enough about it to have an opinion. And I couldn't find, on or offline, a concise explaination.

As so often in matters of law, your best bet is firedoglake, a blog run by two women, Jane Hamsher and "Redd" (an attorney). They do a great job in giving their own thoughts and synthesizing those of others.

Case in point, these excerpts from a New York Times article, followed by Hamsher's conclusion:

With a federal corruption case intensifying, prosecutors investigating Jack Abramoff, the Republican lobbyist, are examining whether he brokered lucrative jobs for Congressional aides at powerful lobbying firms in exchange for legislative favors, people involved in the case have said.

The attention paid to how the aides obtained jobs occurs as Mr. Abramoff is under mounting pressure to cooperate with prosecutors as they consider a case against lawmakers.

Many forces are bearing down on Mr. Abramoff. Last week, his closest business partner, Michael Scanlon, pleaded guilty to conspiracy in exchange for cooperating in the inquiry, being run by an interagency group, into whether money and gifts were used in an influence-peddling scandal that involved lawmakers.

Despite charging Indian tribes that were clients tens of millions of dollars in lobbying fees, Mr. Abramoff has told friends that he is running out of money.

...the specter of Abramoff flipping is probably sending more DCers into prickly heat than even TraitorGate. Abramoff knows where the bodies are buried. You know, figuratively speaking and all. Not literally. Okay sort of literally.

Prepare to be utterly creeped out

Via Tapped, we find that John Derbyshire of the conservative National Review's The Corner has been holding forth on just what kind of woman he finds attractive. Mr. Derbyshire?
Conservatives, as I recall, are the ones who believe that "human nature has no history." It follows that we are at ease with the fact that the human female is visually attractive to the human male at, or shortly after, puberty, and for only a few brief years thereafter.

Now, say what you will about Mr. Derbsyshire--and Tapped's Garance Franke-Ruta says,
human puberty in the female of the species begins at around age 9, and continues to roughly age 16, according to the online medical encyclopedia maintained by the National Institutes of Health. Which means the only civilized response to Derbyshire's assertion that pubescent and post-pubescent girls are the "only" attractive female population ought to be a gigantic "Ew."

--but say what you will about him, he is, at least, comitted to his premise. Which is more than you can say for most conservatives. So fixed is his idea that women much past the age of 16 are not fit to be ridden hard or put away wet, he shields his eyes from such godforsaken, bad-looking and offensive examples of their gender as...
Did I buy, or browse, a copy of the November 17 GQ, in order to get a look at Jennifer Aniston's bristols?** No, I didn't. While I have no doubt that Ms. Aniston is a paragon of charm, wit, and intelligence, she is also 36 years old. Even with the strenuous body-hardening exercise routines now compulsory for movie stars, at age 36 the forces of nature have won out over the view-worthiness of the unsupported female bust.

He's right, of course. That's why if Paget Brewster, Teri Polo, or any of the rest of the no-longer-sexy brigade were to do cheerleading routines for me in matching uniforms without their panties, it would have no affect on me. No affect at all. Really. I encourage them to test me.
It is, in fact, a sad truth about human life that beyond our salad days, very few of us are interesting to look at in the buff.

Speak for yourself, John.

Latest on the list of countries to let gays marry: South Africa

That's right, folks. South Africa is now more progressive on civil and human rights than we are. Everybody say I...I...I...ain't gonna play Sun City...oh, wait, I mean, unless they have honeymoon packages...

Say, you know, we haven't wallowed in the poll numbers recently...

From Reuters:

"Those Democratic congressional leaders who try to suggest that we don't have a plan are deeply irresponsible," said White House spokesman Scott McClellan, who reiterated it was possible to bring some troops home next year.

A snap poll by CNN/Gallup/USA Today after Bush's speech said 55 percent of respondents believed Bush did not have a plan to "achieve victory for the United States in Iraq."

Those wild and crazy, carefree Democrats with their representing the belief of a greater majority of the American people than voted for Bush in the last election...

Pat Robertson, expert on "black folks"

This reminds me of the time I saw him cite both the O.J. Simpson case and Othello as proof that mixed marriages never work.
During a November 30 discussion about politics and religion on Christian Broadcasting Network's The 700 Club, which featured Fox News' John Gibson, host Pat Robertson stated: "[I]f you haven't got a Democratic nominee who can be called 'Bubba' [an apparent reference to former President Bill Clinton], you're not going to get him in office. You're not going to get a New England liberal, no way! Black folks aren't going to vote for people like that."

Upon hearing this, the ever-smart Democratic party decided to enlist the services of Bubba Smith, the beloved "Hightower" of the Police Academy movies. Victory in '08 is now assured.

Thursday, December 01, 2005


Well, this is just unfortunate. You know what's worse than white, affluent suburban kids trying to front like they're hip-hop to inject some "reality" into their lives? White, affluent suburban actors making believe they're kids trying to front like they're hip-hop to inject some "reality" into their lives. It's basically what I was talking about recently with Rent-the myth of the opressed as "more in tune with life."

The screenplay is by Stephen Gaghan, who has some chops-he wrote Traffic-but this is not his best work. These are some of the most inconsistently written characters I've ever seen. A good character is "inconsistent" at times, as are we all-but a viewer must believe all the actions are coming from the same place. Here it was more like: Wait-is this an evil twin story? Also, the films complete and utter lack of ending should have been dealt with at some point. It's one of those movies where you think you know what's going to happen, but hope you'll be surprised when something else does, but no. Niether happens. Nothing happens. It's as though you can tell when they ran out of money.

I rented it, of course, because I respect Gaghan and wanted to see this latest example of his work. The fact that it contains three separate scenes of My Future Bride Anne Hathaway's naked torso was merely a coincidence.

I have a feeling that getting hung up on Ms. Hathaway is going to lead me to a lot of pain if she doesn't start having better luck in choosing her projects. Even the apparently much-anticipated Brokeback Mountain (the "gay cowboy movie") looked silly to me in the trailer. I do think she has talent as an actress, but I'm biased.

I've now seen fully half of her films to date, and not a one of them can I talk about without starting with "Anne Hathaway is The Most Beautiful Girl In The World, but..."

...but she really is...

In the town...where I was born...don't like the look of this old town, what goes up, must come down

Courtesy of JeopardyGirl's blog.

The Town Where You Were Born:

The Town Where You Live Now:

Your Name:

(Dig that clock in the has a name, y'all.)

Your grandmother's name:

(Just the second part.)

Your Favourite Food:

(I'm a simple man in many ways.)

Your favorite drink:

Your favorite smell:


Now there's something you don't see every day

I knew I should have gone to this blog post when you need a laugh.

Republicans get overwhelming support from our military

"Midshipmen catch naps as they wait for more than an hour for U.S. President George W. Bush to deliver an address on the war in Iraq at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland November 30, 2005."

Via Tennessee Guerilla Women.

And I won't work for nobody but you

Like Mark, I was sorry to see last night that the actress Wendie Jo Sperber had died. Like most people, it seems, I remember her best as a supporting player on "Bosom Buddies"-certainly it's the work most often mentioned in the headlines of her various obituaries. I thought that series was underrated, and remembered only for giving Tom Hanks a breakthrough (Hanks gave an appropriately tasteful quote on her death). But it seems there are more than a few of us who remember it fondly.

She was also Michael J. Fox's sister in the "Back To The Future" films, and other films of, shall we say, varying success (two words: "Stewadress School") in the '80s. I remember feeling bad for her in those that seemed to use her only as a fat-girl punchline. From Bosom Buddies, I knew she had greater gifts.

And in the category of short-lived, seemingly forgotten TV series, I remember a sitcom she did on FOX in the late '80s. It had the unpromising title of "Women In Prison," but I remember it as being really quite funny. Who knows if it would hold up, but I'd kinda like to see it again.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

This weeks badgering post... try to get you to recognize "Veronica Mars". If you've been reading this blog and/or my old one for any amount of time, you know I think this is one of the best-acted, best written TV shows around. And I'm determined that if it doesn't go at least five years, it won't be because I didn't try.

Now, the last time I did this, my pal Corey, who I hooked on VM last year, suggested that some episodes are not particularly accessible to newbies. And I should encourage people to watch the first season on DVD before settling down with Season 2.

My feelings are divided. On the one hand, it seems to me that you're more likely to tune in an episode of some show I'm always going on about on TV. Rather than spend the $12 (or whatever) to rent the entire first season, just on my say-so.

But on the other, to a degree Corey's right, "Veronica Mars" is less accessible to newbies, arguably more than most TV series. I was lucky enough to be watching from the very beginning last season; in the words of Monty Python, I'm not only proud of that, I'm quite smug about it.

So I'm putting it out there and leaving it up to you. I can't offer you your money back if you rent the DVDs and don't like the show, but if you call or email Corey, he'll be glad to make arrangements to reimburse you day or night. His contact information is:

...I'm kidding, of course. But anyway, tonight's episode was everything I've been saying the show is, with one or two bonuses. One-time "Buffy" viewers had to be kvelling to see Alyson Hannigan and Charisma Carpenter trying to out-bitch each other.

Speaking of, Hannigan's performance provides more evidence, if any were needed, that most actors are only as good as their writing. I watched another episode of her sitcom, "How I Met Your Mother" this week. Not only did I still not find it very funny, but her work seemed to have lost some of its characteristic sparkle. Now here she is back on "Veronica Mars," and all's right with the world again. I was also impressed with the way she-a good actress-plays a very bad actress...

In an interesting bit of cross-promotion, an alternate ending to the episode's already jaw-dropping conclusion is avalible online and viewers can vote on which they prefer. I went with the original. The alternate seemed a bit too "24-esque," but it certainly would have been fertile ground for future storylines.

And it's always nice to see Mac, but I don't believe for one minute that girl is straight...

Where angels fear to tread

I've sometimes walked...and tried to talk
but how can I be heard?
~Pet Shop Boys, "Discoteca"

There's some cool photos on this blog.

One or two of them may not be considered "work safe"-they're nudes, but I would consider them in the category of "fine art" rather than porn. Nevertheless, let the clicker beware...

This is another one of those "I agree with everything this blog entry says" posts

Shakespeare's Sister on Hillary's defense of her hawk-like position on Iraq:

"I take responsibility for my vote, and I, along with a majority of Americans, expect the president and his administration to take responsibility for the false assurances, faulty evidence and mismanagement of the war," the New York senator said in a lengthy letter to thousands of people who have written her about the war.

At the same time, she said the United States must "finish what it started" in Iraq…

"It is time for the president to stop serving up platitudes and present us with a plan for finishing this war with success and honor," she wrote.

Well, that’s a fucking dandy idea. I mean, who better to finish a war with success and honor than the people who bungled and lied about it from the start?

The Bush administration is clearly incapable of finishing this war with success and honor, so what, exactly, is the point of suggesting they ought to do so? Only someone exceptionally foolish or uninformed could believe at this point that there’s any chance of the Bush administration doing anything but continuing to botch this tragic endeavor, and Hillary may be a lot of things, but foolish and uninformed aren’t among them. So her position is disingenuous. Surely she doesn’t have a complete disregard for the lives of the soldiers and Iraqis that will be lost as this thing continues to spiral, so the only explanation for saying something so patently stupid is an unwillingness to take the lead on the issue. It’s as though she looked at what happened to Murtha and decided that presenting an empty challenge to Bush is a better idea.

If that's the case, Hillary's really dumb (and as Shakes says, she's not) because what happened to Murtha made him look better and more worthy of being taken seriously. But let's let Shakes have the last words:

...she can “expect the president and his administration to take responsibility for the false assurances, faulty evidence and mismanagement of the war” until the cows come home, but it ain’t gonna happen. It’s an imperative of the opposition party to make him take responsibility, to hold them accountable. Step up to the bloody plate and swing the bat. Otherwise, shut the fuck up.

I just like the idea that this game ever existed

Credit: News From ME, "the best damned weblog on the 'net."

The apocalypse is truly at hand

A Republican blogger-Bill Quick of Daily Pundit-has said Howard Dean might be right that the Dems will win the House and Senate in 2006:

Howlin' Howard Dean: "In 2006, Democrats will take back the House and the Senate."

I think the House is a reach, but Dean could well be right about the Senate, unless GWB starts campaigning against Republicans - including himself - spending taxpayer money like drunken sailors, stops trying to cram amnesty for up to ten million illegal aliens down America's throat, and generally begins to remember what his party stands for, and the wishes of those who put him into office in the first place.

I love guys like this, honestly. Guys who think Bush's problem is that he's not Republican enough.

Ah yes...I wondered when the Belushis would step in...

Dogpile on the Woodward...

From the New York Daily News-recently endorsed by Bill O'Reilly as a "media operation [that has] regularly helped distribute defamation and false information supplied by far left websites"...
You've heard the uproar over the famed Watergate sleuth's taking two years to reveal that he was leaked the name of CIA agent Valerie Plame. Now the widow of John Belushi has recruited a gang of the late comic's friends to pay back Woodward for "Wired," his grim 1985 bio of her husband.

After the "SNL" player OD'd, Judy Belushi Pisano encouraged all of his pals to talk to Woodward, who, like John, had grown up in Wheaton, Ill.

She now tells us: "Woodward was the wrong guy [to write that book]. I was foolish."

Actually, I'm glad she admits that. In her own memoir, "Samurai Widow" she wrote of having invited Woodward to write the book without have read a single thing he'd written. She was going almost solely by his reputation as "the man who brought down Nixon."

The late Belushi's family and friends may have much to complain about in that book, but in a very real sense, they have only themselves to blame. That does not mean, however, that I am not anxious to read:

So she and Tanner Colby have assembled "Belushi: A Biography," a just-published collection of affectionate memories of John — and unaffectionate ones of Woodward.

Writer Mitch Glazer recalls that all Woodward wanted to hear about was Belushi's drug use. "Whenever I started telling him the good things about John, he would literally put down his pen and wait for me to finish," says Glazer.

Al Franken remembers seeing Woodward in the office of "SNL" producer Lorne Michaels. "I went over to [Woodward] and said, 'Well, you know, the only time I ever saw John snorting coke was with [Woodward's colleague] Carl Bernstein.' And that was the last I ever heard from him." (Franken assures us that he was just kidding.)

Woodward declined to comment on the charges. But Judy says, "I'm not angry anymore. I just felt it was something that needed to be put straight."

"Wired," though I think it's possible to read more sympathetically than Belushi's family and friends do, does focus too much on the dark side. "Samurai Widow," while compelling and satisfying on its own terms, was not an alternate biography but the story of one woman's bereavement and eventual return to happiness.

I hope this new book will be a more accurate picture of the man who, arguably, was the greatest natural talent ever to emerge from SNL.

I'm trying to come up with a headline joke that doesn't use the word "inferno"

Joe Dante is the director best known for Gremlins and its sequel (as well as Innerspace, The Howling, and segments of Twilight Zone: The Movie and Amazon Women on the Moon, among others).

He has a new made-for-Showtime film premiering this Friday that sounds interesting, to say the least. says:
I've always had a soft spot for Joe Dante--he's managed to sneak some screwy satire into what might otherwise seem like generic film fodder. Gremlins 2 was a good example of that, a film that could've just gone through the motions but became a gleeful dance on the head of Donald Trump and the worship of corporations. Rarely does a Hollywood movie come as close to rejecting plot altogether as that one did. Heck, I even enjoyed most of Looney Tunes: Back in Action--the trip through the Louvre was great.
But now Joe is pissed, and his new film for Showtime's Masters of Horror series will be on Friday night during their subscription drive when everyone with cable can see it. In it, dead soldiers from the Iraq war rise up to vote a certain bastard out of office.

Emphasis mine. If you have cable, this weekend you have Showtime. I'd say this screwy, supposedly scathing satire sounds worth seeing, if I weren't scared of being accused of a lot of alliteration.

Do you have a plan with you? (w/additions and update)

Update: Think Progress notes something for Joe "for people who want to vote for Bush, but feel he's not quite Jewish enough" Lieberman, the man who lost Al Gore my vote.

Writing this morning in the Wall Street Journal, Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT) claims Iraqi leaders want a commitment that U.S. troops will stay until whenever “the Iraqi military is capable of security the country”:

And, I am convinced, almost all of the progress in Iraq and throughout the Middle East will be lost if those forces are withdrawn faster than the Iraqi military is capable of securing the country.

The leaders of Iraq’s duly elected government understand this, and they asked me for reassurance about America’s commitment. The question is whether the American people and enough of their representatives in Congress from both parties understand this.

The Iraqi leaders, however, have said publicly that they want the United States to set a firm timetable for withdrawal immediately.

Bush says he has a plan for victory in Iraq. But...but I thought the mission had already been accomplished? My favorite analysis (thus far) comes from Media Girl:

Again, they're trying to assert that the civil war in Iraq is a foreign operation, instead of a conflict between Iraqis with over 1000 years of historical conflict. How ironic that one of the biggest problems about our Iraq occupation -- that al-Qaeda uses it as a recruitment poster -- is what the Bush Administration crows about as reasons for staying.

The document reads like a division report in a corporate boardroom. It's full of bullet points of declarations and assertions, but little actual argument and essentially no supporting evidence to support their claims. Maybe some paid analysts can take the time to scrutinize the language and find something that's actually new ... or convincing.

The document has an appendix called "The Eight Pillars" which purports to lay out a strategy for success -- a tacit admission that the 28 pages coming before fail to do just that. (I expect the phrase "The Eight Pillars" will be rolling off wingnutter lips over the coming days.)

ETA: And speaking of wingnutters, the conservative Gateway Pundit has worked itself into a conniption fit. It seems that the big bad liberal media has dared to suggest Mr. Bush might need to persuade Americans he has a plan and that everything in it is true.

GP's examples of said big bad liberal media? The BBC and Associated Press. Those well-known bastions of liberalism.

I dunno. 57% of Americans think he deliberately misled people to make the case for war with Iraq. 62% would finance paying for the rebuilding of the Gulf Coast by cutting spending in Iraq. 55% think the U.S. should have stayed out of Iraq.

It seems fair to me to suggest Mr. Bush might have a bit of 'splainin to do...

ETA, again: At Below The Beltway, the war-and-Bush supporting Doug offers some excerpts from Bush's speech. These follow, with my questions and comments in bold.

We will not turn that country over to the terrorists and put the American people at risk.

Too late.

Iraq will be a free nation and a strong ally in the Middle East. And this will add to the security of the American people.

How so, sir? (Actually, that's the question I most want to see asked of Bush every time he makes one of his big, macho assertions as though they were statements of fact. How so, sir?)

In the short run, we're going to bring justice to our enemies.

I promise you, somewhere, a White House speechwriter was cringing. "Bring our enemies to justice! We're going to bring our enemies to justice, for crying out loud. 'Bring justice to our enemies' sounds like we're doing good things for them."

In the long run, the best way to ensure the security of our own citizens is to spread the hope of freedom across the broader Middle East.

To repeat: How so, sir?

We've seen freedom conquer evil and secure the peace before.

Yes, I remember that. It was in 1992 and 1996. Go on.

In World War II, free nations came together to fight the ideology of fascism and freedom prevailed.

In World War II, FDR and Harry Truman were president. Your point?

Today in the Middle East, freedom is once again contending with an ideology that seeks to sow anger and hatred and despair.

"But enough about my party."

The terrorists in Iraq share the same ideology as the terrorists who struck the United States on September the 11th.

See? There is a connection!

By fighting these terrorists in Iraq, Americans in uniform are defeating a direct threat to the American people.

And a-one, and-a-two, and a-one-two-three-four:

How so, sir?

No, really.

ETA yet one more time: The Carpetbagger reminds us that we've all heard this same old story, over and over and over again.
It worked so well during the campaign it seems to have become a standard practice. In June, Bush delivered another speech on Iraq. Sticking to the game plan, the White House told reporters it would be — you guessed it — a "major speech." It wasn't.

The Bush gang keeps going to the same well. In October, Scott McClellan said Bush would deliver "a significant speech on the war on terrorism." Aside from some unsubstantiated claims about foiling alleged al Queda plots, viewers learned that Bush believes Iraq is central to the war on terror and the president is committed to "complete victory." In other words, to borrow the AP's phrase, Bush's speech "did not break new ground or present a new strategy."

And finally: Sadly, No! pipes in with their own cheap shots in response to Bush's latest catchy slogans:
-Iraq would become a safe haven from which terrorists could plan attacks against America, American interests abroad, and our allies.

You mean it's not already? Try telling that to the Jordanians.

But wait! Here's the best one:

-Middle East reformers would never again fully trust American assurances of support for democracy and human rights in the region -- a historic opportunity lost.

I agree that promoting human rights in the Middle East is a historic opportunity that we can't afford to lose. But unfortunately, we've already lost it:

I can't be the only one looking at that picture of one of our young woman in uniform and thinking of the Joker, can I?

Ink 19 Update

Ozone Cocktail. Just a quick one.

I'd say this guy needs to get slapped in the face repeatedly

...but then I might get PETA accusing me of cruelty to a weasel.

Tucker Carlson:

In fact, as NBC's Andrea Mitchell has reported, an internal CIA investigation found that Plame's outing caused no discernable damage to anyone.

Oh, really, Tucker? Because according to the Washington Post (and the CIA):
[A]fter Plame's name appeared in Robert D. Novak's column, the CIA informed the Justice Department in a simple questionnaire that the damage was serious enough to warrant an investigation, officials said.

The CIA has not conducted a formal damage assessment, as is routinely done in cases of espionage and after any legal proceedings have been exhausted.

Intelligence officials said they would never reveal the true extent of her contacts to protect the agency and its work.

Not so much funny as chillingly sobering

More from that Seymour Hersh article, via firedoglake:

“The President is more determined than ever to stay the course,” the former defense official said. “He doesn’t feel any pain. Bush is a believer in the adage ‘People may suffer and die, but the Church advances.’ ” He said that the President had become more detached, leaving more issues to Karl Rove and Vice-President Cheney. “They keep him in the gray world of religious idealism, where he wants to be anyway,” the former defense official said. Bush’s public appearances, for example, are generally scheduled in front of friendly audiences, most often at military bases. Four decades ago, President Lyndon Johnson, who was also confronted with an increasingly unpopular war, was limited to similar public forums. “Johnson knew he was a prisoner in the White House,” the former official said, “but Bush has no idea.”

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

This is totally cool with me

You scored as Miranda Hobbes. You're Miranda! Smart, independant and yes, pessimistic. You're a good friend who is ready to listen and give your own unique, cynical advice. You do have a soft spot, though, and when you're ready you'll let people in.

Miranda Hobbes


Charlotte York


Carrie Bradshaw


Samantha Jones


Which "Sex and the City" girl are you?
created with

As the "Sex and the City" girls go, I've always said that Samantha was the sexiest, but Miranda had all the best lines.

Sometimes I wonder at what point Madonna was replaced by a robot

Holy shit.

Posts about Ann Coulter are another one of those things that are like shooting fish in a barrel. But when she crosses a line, she really crosses a line.
Republican bootlicking extremist Ann Coulter has posted a personal phone number and email address of BRAD BLOG Guest Blogger Lydia Cornell on the front page of her website with a link to the post again on her "Quotations from Chairman Ann" page.

Apparently in vindictive retaliation to Cornell's guest blog item published by The BRAD BLOG late last week, titled "Death is Sexier than Sex (to Ann Coulter)" Coulter has now publicly posted a personal Email Cornell had sent to Coulter while she was working on her story for us.

In Cornell's guest blog article, the actress and author reported on her experience attempting to receive a copy of Coulter's recent speech given to the Alachua, FL Republican party in which she called for the repression of the free speech of Democrats, adding "Frankly, I'm not a big fan of the First Amendment."

While Coulter had the time to take a 6th grade level ad hominem shot at Cornell ("Well, death is certainly sexier than Lydia Cornell")...

Wrong.-Ben her response, apparently the desperate Coulter didn't have the time to actually reply to Cornell's note, ask her for permission before publishing it publicly, or most despicably of all, have the decency to redact the personal information from the note before posting it online.

It's been asked before, but it's worth asking again: What is wrong with Ann Coulter? Seriously. I mean, quite aside from, as Brad says, the indecency of posting anyone's personal information online without their permission, Cornell is an actress. And exactly the kind of actress who seems to attract stalkers (she was on that Ted Knight sit-jiggle "Too Close For Comfort" in the '80s). According to the bio on her web site, she has two small children. I'd imagine she's just thrilled about having her phone number and email address displayed for all the world to see.

Say! You know what we haven't played in a while?

A nice, rousing game of...Who Said It?

"You can support the troops but not the president."

"Explain to the mothers and fathers of American servicemen that may come home in body bags why their son or daughter have to give up their life?"

"[The] President... is once again releasing American military might on a foreign country with an ill-defined objective and no exit strategy. He has yet to tell the Congress how much this operation will cost. And he has not informed our nation’s armed forces about how long they will be away from home. These strikes do not make for a sound foreign policy."

Now, Who Said It? Were they...

American memebers of the Taliban?

Ambitious Democrats positioning themselves for 2008?

Popular gay blogger John A. of AmericaBlog?

Or were they...

Another blow in the fight for fair and balanced news

The 20-second promo for the 10 p.m. newscast showed a teenage couple and said:
"These local kids found God. They pledged abstinence. But now they're getting on their knees. And it definitely isn't to pray. ... They found a loophole in chastity. Don't worry about your kids' virginity. Worry about their oral fixation."

And with that, the screen showed a woman, her eyes obscured, licking a red, white and blue ice pop.

Via Feministing.

Ignoring the forest for the tree

A fella at the right-wing page WorldNetDaily has written an article called "Why political correctness stinks." Yeah, you probably know his arguments, and if you've been reading this blog for more than a day you know where I stand.

So I don't want to get into that. What I want to get into is this rather amazing paragraph:
In the good old USA, we celebrated diversity. That phrase is now just code for the idea that we should be happy to have millions of wrecked, fatherless families producing legions of very un-gay homosexuals spreading AIDS.

In fact, only just three words in that rather amazing paragraph. Um..."un-gay homosexuals?" I'm picturing some kind of homosexual equivilent of 7-Up. "The UN-gay."

ETA: However, if you want to read somebody who does want to to get into this argument, permit me to recommend Sadly, No! Where Brad R. is holding "XTREME Wingnut Preach-Off 4!!!"

Christmas is coming, he hinted

...and pointed over to the right there where if you 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.

Monday, November 28, 2005

They're swinging at air

Via The Anonymous Liberal:
John Dickerson points out why the Democratic party's lack of an obvious leader is a good thing and is causing all sorts of problems for the Bush administration. Noting how the administration's initial attempt to vilify Jack Murtha failed miserably, Dickerson writes:

This is what happens when a party goes into
campaign mode without a single opponent. With
no specific person to target, the Bush
administration ends up taking on all members of
the opposition at once. The White House
plugged Murtha into an indiscriminate and
undifferentiated rapid-response machine and it
didn't work. Finally, Democrats have reason to
be happy that they have no clear leader.

The Republican political machine is very good at turning a policy debate into a referendum on the personality of a particular Democratic politician. Just ask John Kerry or Al Gore. Right now, there is no obvious spokesman for the Democratic party as a whole. Without a figurehead to caricature and mock, the GOP political machine is being forced to something it hates to do: substantively defend GOP policy.

I don't even know what to say about this one

Credit: Dlisted.

Big bad Hollywood, and more fun with a Republican blog

A few of the Republican blogs like Power Line are pushing a column by Mark Steyn today in which he argues that "Hollywood's PC perversion stifles storytelling." Steyn reports:
I stopped to buy the third boxed set in the "Looney Tunes Golden Collection." Loved the first two: Daffy, Bugs, Porky, beautifully restored, tons of special features. But, for some reason, this new set begins with a special announcement by Whoopi Goldberg explaining what it is we're not meant to find funny: "Unfortunately at that time racial and ethnic differences were caricatured in ways that may have embarrassed and even hurt people of color, women and ethnic groups," she tells us sternly. "These jokes were wrong then and they're wrong today"

Well here, actually, I agree with Steyn. The thought of this makes me cringe. Some humor of that time does have to be put in context, but there must be a better way. Leonard Maltin's introductions on a fantastic videotape compilation called "Bugs & Daffy: Wartime Cartoons" come right to mind, they made the point without making my skin crawl.

But Steyn goes on to make the same mistake that I've seen people make when they want to dismiss charges of insensitivity, from "24" to "Buffy":
It's true you don't see many positive images of people of color on "Looney Tunes," but then the images of people of non-color aren't terribly positive either (Elmer Fudd, Yosemite Sam). Instead, you see positive images of ducks of color, roadrunners of color and tweety birds of color. How weirdly reductive to be so obsessed about something so peripheral to these cartoons that you stick the same damn Whoopi Goldberg health warning on all four DVDs in the box.

For the 57, 000th time (seemingly): Yes, but "people of non-color" had (and still have) dozens of other places they could go to see positive images of themselves. "People of color" and other minorities did not and in some cases, still do not.

Power Line's Scott "euphimism for a phallus" Johnson uses this as a launching pad to praise the late Elia Kazan. I suspect he does this at least in part to bait Democrats, some of whom, not unreasonably, are known to have certain issues with Mr. Kazan, on account of his being a rat-stoolie.

It seems a non-sequiter leap otherwise. I did find it interesting, however, that he thinks:
Kazan could make a great, angry film about the phenomenon represented by the Whoopi cushion, as you can see for yourelf in his "A Face in the Crowd" (screenplay by Budd Schulberg).

Everybody's entitled to their own opinion about the films they watch. For example, I've always seen "A Face In The Crowd" (which is indeed a great movie) as being about the phenomenon most recently represented by George W. Bush...

Only semi-related update: Elsewhere on Power Line, Paul "not man enough to have a phallic name" Mirengoff asks Cheney or McCain, who is the hero? Those are our choices? Shoot me again. I enjoy it.

Let's see, hero, hero, hero...ah, here we are. According to, which I believe is derived from the American Heritage Dictionary:
A person noted for feats of courage or nobility of purpose, especially one who has risked or sacrificed his or her life.

Well, it's got to be Cheney then, hasn't it?

The Goze has been putting the moves on my would-be girlfriend

Atrios on the idea that blogs have destroyed "gatekeeper" media, which he defines as:
...a system by which "journalistic professionals" determined what the great unwashed did or did not need to know... isn't blogs that destroyed the Gatekeepers. It wasn't blogs that put Rush Limbaugh on as an election analyst. It wasn't blogs that gave Bill O'Reilly the flagship show on a major cable news network. It wasn't blogs that gave Michael Savage his own television show on a cable news network. It wasn't blogs that put Ann Coulter on the cover of a major national news magazine. It wasn't blogs that created all of the various and often fact free screaming heads shows. It wasn't blogs that gave syndicated columns to numerous conservatives with little or no experience in journalism. It wasn't blogs that devoted the summer of 2001 to Gary Condit (uh, ok, well, maybe Josh helped a bit)and the summer of 2005 to a missing girl in Aruba. It wasn't blogs that invented the New York Post or Washington Times. And, it wasn't blogs that were responsible for all of the errors that [Media Matters] tracks on a regular basis.

Gatekeeper media may be dead, but to a great degree they dug their own grave and dove right in. Blogs didn't really get there until after the funeral.

Oh, boy

According to Sy Hersh's latest article in The New Yorker (via Suburban Guerrilla):
Bush’s closest advisers have long been aware of the religious nature of his policy commitments. In recent interviews, one former senior official, who served in Bush’s first term, spoke extensively about the connection between the President’s religious faith and his view of the war in Iraq. After the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the former official said, he was told that Bush felt that “God put me here” to deal with the war on terror. The President’s belief was fortified by the Republican sweep in the 2002 congressional elections; Bush saw the victory as a purposeful message from God that “he’s the man,” the former official said. Publicly, Bush depicted his reĆ«lection as a referendum on the war; privately, he spoke of it as another manifestation of divine purpose.

You know, there's a pretty obvious drawback to assuming that when good things happen to you, it's because God likes you and thinks you're a good person. When bad things start happening, you have to ask yourself, "What have I done to make God angry?"

And if you're a man of such sincere religious faith as Bush no doubt is, it can't help that one or two of the bad things that have happened were...acts of God. It must be driving him absolutely nuts.

Oh, wait. He is. Kos has lengthy excerpts from Hersh's interview with Wolf "you never made a mistake?" Blitzer:
I've been a critic of the war very early in the New Yorker, and there were people talking to me in the last few months that have talked to me for four years that are suddenly saying something much more alarming.

I don't want to sound like I'm off the wall here. But the issue is, is this president going to be capable of responding to reality? Is he going to be able -- is he going to be capable if he going to get a bad assessment, is he going to accept it as a bad assessment or is he simply going to see it as something else that is just a little bit in the way as he marches on in his crusade that may not be judged for 10 or 20 years.

Emphasis mine. This is where we are, folks.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

And speaking of fighters for democracy (UPDATE)

Steve Gilliard answers a David Brooks column in which Brooks wonders:
Every time you delve into the situation in Iraq, you come away with the phrase "not enough troops" ringing in your head, and I hope someday we will find out how this travesty came about.

Second, why aren't there more stories about war heroes like Christopher Ieva? The casual courage he and his men displayed is awe-inspiring, but most Americans couldn't name a single hero from this war. That's because despite all the amazing things people are achieving in Iraq, we don't tell their stories back here. That's partly because in the post-Vietnam era many Americans - especially those who dominate the culture - are uncomfortable with military valor.

How did this happen? Well, Bobo, it's because Rummy thought machines could take the place of Marine riflemen.

Brooks is lying about military valor. Straight up lying.


Because the right hates military heroes. They hated Max Clelland, they hated John Kerry, they hate Jack Murtha and they even hate Cindy Sheehan.

2100 dead, 15,000 wounded. Plenty of heroes in those groups, but if we talked about them, wel'd have to ask why so many were hurt and killed while Iraq spirals out of control.

But don't worry, the star of North and Color Of Night is on the case.

Angered by negative portrayals of the conflict in Iraq, Bruce Willis, the Hollywood star, is to make a pro-war film in which American soldiers will be depicted as brave fighters for freedom and democracy.

As opposed to those America-hating films like Saving Private Ryan.

As you can well imagine, in the conservative " blogosphere" this news is being greeted with hosannas. ShrinkWrapped, for example, writes (after a whole bunch of the usual bullshit about how Hollywood is anti-Christian, anti-American, pro-Muslin and too polemical):

This brings up an interesting thought experiment: When this movie (if it is at all well done, and with Willis involved, it will be) brings in $100,000,000 what will Hollywood do for an encore?

Here's a more interesting "thought experiement," at least to me. Why would anybody think "with Willis involved, it will be [well done]?" Really? If this movie is well done (assuming it actually gets made), It'll be because somebody had the fiscal sense to get a good director and a better script.

Is Willis that somebody? Let's focus. The more Willis is involved with his movies as anything other than an actor, the more they tend to suck. And the less they tend to bring in. I direct you to his list of production and/or "writing" credits, which include the Crocodile Hunter movie, Hudson Hawk, and Hostage.

But hey, if it bombs, it'll be because Hollywood blacklisted a "pro-America" movie, right? Not because Willis doesn't know the difference between having clout and having the ability to use that clout.

Gee wilikers, Mr. President

The West Wing has officially turned into some sort of junior high-level weekly soap. (And I apologize up front to the junior high school students who may be readers of this blog for my disparaging comparison.) Bushie is peevish about his peeps talking smack about him under anonymous cover with reporters.
Two sources said Bush has not only lost some confidence in his top aides, as the Daily News has previously reported, but is furious with a stream of leaks about the mood within the West Wing.

"He's asking [friends] for opinions on who he can trust and who he can't," one knowledgeable source said.

No one wants to breakfast with Rove any more. Guess the Jimmy Dean people will have to refinance soon. And with so many Administration ostriches burying their heads in the sand, the rest of the GOP has started complaining that all they see is the ass-end of the White House.

Via firedoglake.

Well George, you know, there are one or two people working for you right now who are known, admitted leakers. If you wanted to send a message you were serious about putting an end to it, you could always fire them.

You're not going to do that? Then fuck you.