Saturday, January 14, 2006

The L Word, Jerry, Dean & Me (A re-statement of purpose)

I promised posts on both The L Word and Martin & Lewis in recent days. This one is meant to fufill both those promises. It's not as much of a stretch as it seems. Lewis' new book about his partner helped me organize a few thoughts about what I think are the weaknesses of Showtime's lesbian soap opera. He writes:

Pathos was, to Dean Martin, the worst kind of flag-waving. Just keep em laughing, was his philosophy. Keep it cool...

Flag-waving, in this instance, means the kind of performance that is excessive, or even fanatical, in begging for an audience's love. In other words, the kind Lewis gave 95% of the time and from which Martin distanced himself.

I said I was going to try to post about what style of show business I think each man represents; well, Lewis is the side that makes me feel ashamed of even wanting to be in show business. There's undeniable talent, but there's no charm, there's no coaxing, there's no, for lack of a better word...seduction. Martin, on the other hand, was all about seduction. There's little charm or seduction (not speaking only sexually) on The L Word, either

As a writer, if I have to lay something out (no play on words intended) for an audience, I'd rather not do it. And yes, this is another thing I hate about The L Word: They flag-wave their pathos, and the characters speak in billboards.

One woman tells her mother her shrink "doesn't have a problem with my sexuality." Another stands and makes a big speech to her father insisting that he recognize her love for her then-estranged partner as just as gosh-darned real as his for her late mother. A third...well, this is my favorite. A character on the show is, in the first season, gay but not comfortable being physically affectionate with women in public. She has a speech that actually begins..."I'm gay, and when I deny that, I deny the best part of myself..."

Cut to Ben shouting "Oh, shut up!" at the screen.

I suppose I can see how some people might see scenes like these as breaths of fresh air or even that these women are insisting upon their dignity, but to me they're doing just the opposite...and they're about as subtle as Jerry Lewis.

And that's saying nothing about last season's "male gaze" subplot with the male housemate hiding cameras to spy on a few of the women having sex. Get it, get it, huh, cause straight guys only think of the lesbians as sex objects...get it, get it, huh? Clever.

Dignity of characters is of increasing importance to me, and one thing I think you'll never (or rarely) see mine do is beg for someone's esteem or respect. I'm not just talking about my gay characters, but yeah, Keitha would die first.

I like characters who know they're deserving of estreem and respect, and if you don't, they have no time for you. I like brave characters, which I think Keitha is (for that matter so is Nancy-for those one or two of you who know my first play). And one of the rules of bravery, at least for me, is that you don't talk about it.

It's not exactly a new observation, but one of the reasons Martin & Lewis hit so big is because they balanced each other. Martin had in spades the dignity that Lewis simply never wore comfortably, even on those rare occasions when he tried.

If Lewis represents the shameful side of show business then Martin, oddly, represents the side to which I aspire. He pleased, but was not eager to please.

The L Word is not exactly a guilty pleasure for me (it's not like, say, the Blue Collar Comedy Tour movies...). It's more know when you have a sore tooth and you can't stop touching it with your tongue? That's the feeling I have when I look in on an episode; how long can I watch this before having to zap away or mute?

Why do I keep trying? I dunno. Maybe because it seems like I should like it (which, of course, is a dumb reason to do absolutely anything). Maybe I'm just trying to figure out why it's successful enough in the ratings and with the critics not to be cancelled. Certainly I think I know something about the eagerness of lesbians to see themselves represented on television, even if it's not on a great, or even good show.

Maybe I'm just looking for a window into a world that I can use when returning to "my girls." Maybe because on a show that prides itself on offering six-or-so different lesbian or bisexual women characters, I can't believe I can't find one to identify with...given my writing proclivities.

Of course not, stupid, you don't identify with "lesbians" you identify with us. Face it, it's a commitment.

Shut up, Keitha.

Smile, though your heart is aching

Last night's Masters of Horror (spoilers)

Sigh..."the cliche" rears its ugly head...

Lesbian woman is posessed by bug and becomes a killer, then is revealed to have harbored a crazy, obsessive love for her lover even before they met (prior to the "infestation"). She metamorphises into a bug-creature and kills her lovers straight male friend. Her lover is then also bitten and possessed by bug. In last scene we see that both are pregnant and expecting a brood, or swarm, call it what you will.

I don't know whether to start bashing it for what seems to me obvious and overwhelming homophobia, or just throw up my hands, roll my eyes and say "whatever."

Books I read about writing

Here's 10 books (approximately) that I've read and re-read:

Writing Down the Bones and Wild Mind by Natalie Goldberg. These are pretty well known in creative writing circles. I have to admit I used them a lot more before I heard Goldberg reading an excerpt from her own novel and thought it was terrible. Those who can do...

Harlan Ellison's Watching. For me just about any book by Ellison is a lesson in writing; I chose this collection of film reviews to represent them all.

The Art & Craft of Playwriting, by Jeffrey Hatcher. I doubt I could have written my first play without this book, and that play did get produced. Sure it was in Tennessee, and I ain't too happy with some of the things they did to it, but it got produced, goddamn it.

The Screenwriter's Bible, by David Trottier. Early last year when I started trying to turn a play of mine into a screenplay, I got every book I could on it from the library. This is the only one I felt compelled to get my own copy of.

Laughing Matters, by Larry Gelbart. I get a lot of inspiration from other writer's memoirs. Like the Ellison, this one by a hero of mine is meant to represent a host of others.

Which Lie Did I Tell? By William Goldman. My favorite of Goldman's nonfiction, for me it is superior to the classic Adventures In The Screen Trade to which it is a sequel.

On Writing, by Stephen King. And late last year when I started trying to turn that play turned screenplay plus a prequel screenplay into a novel, this is the book I wanted to have on hand.

The DC Comics Guide To Writing Comics, by Dennis O'Neil. I don't write comics, I have no expectations of writing comics, but this has been useful for things like structure and subplots.

Oscar-Winning Screenwriters On Screenwriting, by Joel Engel. Maybe the best thing about this book is screenwriters talking about knowing what their gifts are.

And the two West Wing Shooting Scripts books by Aaron Sorkin. Hey, if you don't know I think Sorkin pretty much walks on the water as a writer by now...

Friday, January 13, 2006

A rare and vulnerable spark

Back in November I blogged about Judith Belushi Pisano's new book about her first husband, John Belushi. If you're interested, I have now read the book, and my review is up at

Feel free to vote for me if you find the review helpful...

They could have just asked him

Yesterday on The Daily Show, Jon Stewart's guest was a man who's written a book on The Supreme Court and thought, as most people seem to do, that Alito was going to be confirmed. That the Democrats had been hoping to "trick" him into making some gaffe in his testimony.

A gaffe that would have revealed his Bush-worshipping, anti-women's rights, anti-civil rights, way-the-fuck-out-of-the-mainstream, homophobic, Reagan-loving ass for what it is. But, said Jon's guest (whose name I don't remember) that was never going to happen; Alito had been too well prepared to be tricked into showing those cards.

But here's the thing. Put aside everything we've learned about his record in the past few months. Everything that, if this was a country with any sense of reality, would have resulted in his being laughed out of the senate. But put that aside.

The democrats didn't have to finesse and finagle and try to artfully steer him into giving himself away. They could have just asked him.

On Anderson's Cooper's show (via Pandagon), Alan Dershowitz said this:
...if I were a senator, I’d ask [Supreme Court nominees] the following question. I would say, “You have said that your personal views are utterly irrelevant to how you will decide cases. We don’t agree with you on that. But since you’ve said that, let’s ask you some really hard questions about your personal views.”

“Is your mother right when she says that you personally strongly oppose a woman’s right to choose abortion? What do you personally think of gay rights? What do you personally think of affirmative action?”

He couldn’t say, “Well, I can’t give you those answers because it will come before me.” No, no, no, no. You’ve told us that your personal views are irrelevant. We think they’re relevant, so give us the answers. I think it’s a very, very hard question for him to duck.

[Or ask him] Bush vs. Gore. Where were you on the night that Bush vs. Gore was announced? What did you say to your friends when the decision came down? What did you actually say? Did you write e-mails to anybody? Did you agree with the decision, not what would you do in the future?

They could have just asked him.

Sometimes I think democrats and republicans aren't donkeys and elephants anymore. They're frogs and scorpions. Yeah, the scorpion will sting you. It's in their nature; you don't expect anything more from them. But the frog was stupid enough to give the scorpion a ride across the water on their back.

The problem with this anaology is that, in the tale, at least the frog and the scorpion both die. And in this version, the frog may drown, but the scorpion is going to be appointed to one of the most powerful benches in the land.

And he can't be removed except by retirement or death.

They could have just asked him.

Days like this I wish I drank more.

And that's not all

John has a good post about "why Republicans don't get bigotry."
They think bigots hang out in white hoods with burning crosses in their front yards. Some do, but most don't. And to suggest that it's only guilt by association when you choose to join a group whose main purpose is to embrace and promote bigotry, then you render the definition of bigotry meaningless.

He's probably right, but the thing is, that's not all: Bigots don't get bigotry. That's one of the reasons statements by people who feel compelled to start out with "I'm not a bigot, but-" are so meaningless. Maybe two times out of a thousand you'll find an exception, but for the most part, nobody cares to cop to their true face.

So of course Republicans don't get bigotry...they're bigots.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Darkness makes me fumble for a key (UPDATED)

Update: And Mark has a good idea.

Years ago in a bout of the same masochism that once caused me to eat at a Norm's Restaurant, I watched most of the Clarence Thomas hearings. I don't know why I did it...just hoping for a moment of honest candor that never came. Didn't hear it from the Senators of either party, didn't hear it from the nominee. I still don't know about Anita Hill but she wasn't aspiring to a lofty position in our government so she didn't matter as much. What I think I was waiting for was for some Democrat to say, when it was his time to speak, "Judge Thomas, all this crap about what you said to someone about privacy rights in a law lecture twelve years ago is irrelevant. The president nominated you for this position because he thinks you'll advance his Conservative agenda. I intend to vote against you for precisely that reason. Thank you. I'm done." Ted Kennedy, Joe Biden and all the rest could say that today to Alito but it wouldn't get them as much camera time.

An AP article on Yahoo! says Alito appears headed for confirmation. Enjoy control over your uterus while you can, ladies. And boy, what a loser Kanye West was with his "George Bush doesn't care about black people." If that were true, would he have nominated somebody who belonged to a bigoted, sexist. homophobic organization to the highest court in the land?

I believe, 30 years from now, the issue that most Democratic Senators of today will have trouble looking people in the eyes about is, of course, the Iraq war. As they have to accept more and more responsibility for allowing themselves to be deceived into a quagmire, they will find themselves unable to justify the loss of thousands of lives and millions of dollars.

But the second is going to be that they allowed the re-ordering of the Supreme Court, leaving the door open for the reversal of Roe v. Wade, and ensuring a deaf ear is turned to civil and human rights.

After a war, a Supreme Court justice is a president's most lasting legacy.

As usual, the best blogging on the hearings is to be found in Firedoglake.

ETA: Oh, boy. Bob Geiger picked up on something that I'd missed prior to this.
Ted Kennedy (D-MA) went after Alito primarily on his membership in the ultra-conservative Concerned Alumni of Princeton (CAP) including reading a startling clipping from a 1984 edition of the organization's magazine that commented on AIDS research being done at that time on monkeys and said "Now that the scientists must find humans, or rather homosexuals, to submit themselves to experimental treatment. Perhaps Princeton's Gay Alliance may want to hold an election."

"Humans, or rather homosexuals." In a weird way, I admire them for just coming out and saying it. None of this "loving the sinner but hating the sin" crap. Just: "Humans, or rather homosexuals."

I find myself wanting to test Godwin's Law.

ETA, again: But you can also find some good reporting in Hullabaloo, where Digby wrote:

I think it's time for Ted Kennedy to haul some little girls who were strip searched in to testify. You wanna play? Bring it.

If you don't know to what he's referring, it's about one of Alito's more indefensible votes.

More fun with anti-feminism

Writer and entertainer George Carlin once commented to an interviewer that while philosophers had been wondering for thousands of years "why we are here...I know why I'm here. I'm here for the entertainment."

(Quote is approximate)

In that spirit, here's a couple of more responses to Kate O'Beirne's reportedly anti-feminist tome. A blogger called B Muse judges a book by its cover. And Amanda of Pandagon (which has added a really ugly new logo) shows why she's a better man than I am, Gunga Din.

See, though I know Jonah Goldberg as the poster child for armchair warriors that he is, I've instinctively shied away from reading much of his prose. Some might call it cowardice, I call it self-preservation.

Tom Stoppard got a big "me, too!" from me when he said:
I have an enjoyment of language...Reverence? Well, I probably do, because I go into a kind of pain when it's used loosely and inaccurately.

Anyone who had the misfortune to be sitting near me during Star Wars Ep. Three, or my next-door neighbors when I make my masochistic attemps to watch The L Word, can attest to that. But Amanda walked 20 miles into the jungle with gun and camera, and returned with souvinier snapshots of a man whose writing style is ennobled by the word "fatuous."

Initially writing in support of his friend O’Beirne's book, Goldberg devolves...not that he has that far to go, hee hee...into writing about What Feminists Believe. Apparently:
Feminists honestly believe they are speaking for all women; I think this way, I am a woman, I must represent all women.

As you may imagine, Amanda has some thoughtful things to say about that, and a few more of Mr. Goldberg's joyful observations. Those of you who appreciate seeing a bright girl bloody the nose of a pampered rich kid are recommended there post-haste.

O'Reilly casts his mind back...oh, those were the days

With the Alito hearings still going on, gross-out king Bill O'Reilly apparently is coming over all nostalgic about early 2003, just before the war started. He's picking on the Dixie Chicks again, claiming they "have not recovered to this day" from lead singer Natalie Maines' controversial comment.

Of course, that was a lie. Here's the thing, though, and it's something we should remember. "Dixie Chicked" has become a verb meaning to suffer a negative impact on your career as retribution for making an unpopular political statement.

As you'll recall something very similar happened to Bill Maher, and IIRC Madonna pulled a video so it wouldn't happen to her. If it was having a chilling effect on people with the kind of money and power behind her that Madonna has, what do you think it did to younger, less-secure entertainers?

Which I'm convinced was the reason behind Clear Channel pulling the Chicks from radio playlists; they wanted a head (or three) on a pike that they could point to and say "See? This is what you get!"

But what we should remember is that it didn't work.

As Media Matters tells us,

In March 2003, group member Natalie Maines incited controversy after telling a London audience, "Just so you know, we're ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas." Initial anger over the statements and a limited radio boycott did reportedly have an impact on the group's album sales. However, the Dixie Chicks' 2003 North American tour proved that any backlash was short-lived. In May, a mere two months after the controversy first erupted, the tour opened in Greenville, South Carolina, to a sold-out crowd. The tour then spent the summer crisscrossing North America and grossed $61 million, making the Dixie Chicks tour the top-grossing country tour of 2003. By the end of the year, their album, Home, ranked fourth on 2003's Billboard Top 200 Album chart, with the group itself finishing the year as the top-selling country group/duo and the third-highest-selling pop group/duo.

The trio's music has also consistently won major awards. Since the anti-Bush comments, it won the Best Country Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group Grammy in 2005. The group's song "I Hope," whose proceeds will go to victims of Hurricane Katrina, has been nominated in that category and in the Best Country Song category for the 2006 Grammys, which will be awarded February 8.

In other words...please, please, Dixie Chick me. I can stand not recovering from having top-five sellers and winning major awards. Media Matters doesn't get into this but I'd imagine the group also gained a lot of new listeners from the controversy, people like me who began paying special attention and found we truly enjoyed the music.

But seriously: I hope this information is out there where younger artists can see it. The first, greatest example in recent years of how dissent can harm your career, and it isn't true. It's not real.

You'll recollect Bill Maher is doing pretty okay these days too.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

More remakes that don't need to be made

Matt and Ben Reunite On Screen
The famous friends are supposedly planning to remake Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. According to OK Magazine:

The actors will take on the roles made famous by Paul Newman and Robert Redford in the 1969 classic.

Damon will reportedly play the Sundance Kid, while Affleck will recreate Newman’s role as Butch Cassidy, according to America’s OK! magazine.

Via OhNoTheyDidn't.

This idea, if true, is indefensible. When are Hollywood people going to realize that the trick is you remake movies that aren't very good (think Ocean's 11) in their original form, not the ones that are?

Now that's funny

Bob Geiger corrects his own Abramoff post:
I guess this shows that I really did make an effort to honestly root out any Democrats who personally got money from Jack Abramoff – either directly or through a Political Action Committee (PAC) – because it looks like one of the few Democrats I cited as getting money from an Abramoff-linked PAC is actually a Republican!

Reader Marilynn Murray, of Rockwall, Texas, wrote to let me know that Congressman John Hall, who actually was a Democrat when he got money from the conservative Arena PAC in the 1990s, is actually part of the GOP.

"Please correct that information. That old fool used to be a sort of Democrat. Thank God he decided he is really a Republican," wrote Marilynn.


Sony Music on Tuesday said it was launching the first major music label dedicated to nurturing lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans-gendered artists.

The label also comes as Wilderness Media plans this weekend to launch a syndicated national radio show called Twist targeting the gay and "gay-adjacent" communities, debuting on FM stations and the Web. The weekly two-hour radio show will feature music, celebrity interviews, entertainment reports and relationship and lifestyle advice and news in a "morning show" format.

"Gay-adjacent?" I think we've finally found the genre I write in; not gay...but "gay-adjacent."

Pam has put together a collection of reactions from pro-Bush GOP website The Free Republic. It seems they're rather irritated by this. I can only assume on the premise that if we let too many gays into show business, the blacks will be next, and after them, the Jews...

They've responded with the wit that is the province of the pro-Bush GOP, who are well known to be funnier than any bunch of fags you might care to name, like that bitter, ugly Nathan Lane.

"The first CD release will be "Songs Inspired By Bareback Mountain", including the hits, "Homo On The Range," and "Bathhouses of Laredo.""

"Yeah, like the gays don't already have gay or gay-friendly artists like Judy Garland, Barbra Streisand, Liza Minelli, Bette Midler, Cher, the Village People, George Michael, Elton John..."

I resent this person for leaving out Frankie Goes To Hollywood and Lea DeLaria.

"Gangsta artists shoot each other Country Artists may cuss at each other Gay/Lesbian artists simply kick, pull hair and scratch each other's eyes out."

Oh, the comedy.

In a semi-related story, this is why I don't want to publish my Keitha stories under a female pseudonym: I'd get killed.

Read it in the books, in the crannies and the nooks, there are books to read

A woman named Kate O'Beirne has a new book out called: Women Who Make the World Worse : and How Their Radical Feminist Assault Is Ruining Our Schools, Families, Military, and Sports. And yes, she's serious (evidently).

The lovely and lethal lady Jane of firedoglake has said she's sharpening her knives, but she hasn't had a chance to get to it, what with the Alito hearings and all. But in the meantime, you can enjoy Jesus' General's Amazon review, excerpted herewith:
But I think it's her frequent attacks against the television show, "Sex in the City," that I value most about this book. By promoting the myth that women should enjoy sex, that show has done more to destroy the institution of marriage than even homosexual unions. I think most men will agree with me when I say that there isn't a woman alive who isn't thoroughly repulsed by sex. Telling them that it should be a pleasant experience rather than a vomit-inducing one only serves to cause them to resent their husbands when the impossible isn't delivered. Hopefully, this book will help destroy that myth.

As much as I enjoyed this book, I can't give it more than a single star because it has a fatal flaw. It promotes the most destructive myth of all, the existence of lesbianism. Mrs. O'Beirne discusses it throughout the book as if it is something that is real. She doesn't seem to be able to understand that women can't have sex with each other. They don't have little soldiers.

PS: Jane also reminds us that Mrs. O'Beirne is the author of this remark:
I have long thought that if high-school boys had invited homely girls to the prom we might have been spared the feminist movement.

Oh, I like her...

Caption this photo

"I cut down trees, I wear high heels, suspenders and a bra..."

I'll accept that

You Are Sex On the Beach!

When comes to drinking, you like it to go down smooth.
You really don't like the taste of alcohol - just its effect on you.
So, you're proud to get drunk on fruity, girly drinks.
Because once you're liquored up, the fun begins!

Stupid short-memoried public

Little Steven Van Zandt of the E Street Band made a cameo appearance on The Colbert Report last night. Appearing, in true Daily Show style "from" South Africa. Where, he announced, he had been playing the Sun City resort.

Judging from the audiences (lack of) reaction, no one remembered that in the '80s Van Zandt was the driving force behind the anti-Apartheid Sun City single with its chant "I ain't gonna play Sun City."

I suppose I just remember because the album put together around it remains one of the rare examples of a "charity" record that can still be listened to for pleasure. Rather than a sense of resigned duty.

But still: Stupid, short-memoried public.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Madonna, really, it's getting embarassing

Or, "and you thought Reese Witherspoon had a lot of airbrushing done." This is sad. She's coming off like a desperate housewife, you should pardon the expression. Woman, you're 47. Grow into it.

...and yes, there are 47-year-old women I find attractive (Sharon Stone, Holly Hunter, Jane Wiedlin, Annette Bening, Angela Bassett, Belinda Carlisle, Jennifer Tilly, Bebe Neuwirth...) You know what they have in common? They spend very little time dressing like they're hoping to lure the pizza boy in for a quickie.

Letterman doesn't get on board Love Train with O'Reilly

You may have heard tell of an incident that occured on The Late Show With David Letterman last week. Gross-out king Bill O'Reilly had a little of his bad karma thrown back in his face when Letterman dissented with him.

I haven't said anything about it here because I didn't see it. Mark had some thoughts, though, about why he doesn't think it was the rout some people think it was, or certainly not a fair fight. Meanwhile, Bob Geiger's posted some excerpts that are well worth reading, including:

O'Reilly: .... Cindy Sheehan called the insurgents 'freedom fighters,' we don't like that. It is a vitally important time in American history. And we should all take it very seriously. Be very careful with what we say.

Letterman: Well, and you should be very careful with what you say also.

[audience applause]

O'Reilly: Give me an example.

Letterman: How can you possibly take exception with the motivation and the position of someone like Cindy Sheehan?

O'Reilly: Because I think she's run by far-left elements in this country. I feel bad for the woman.

Letterman: Have you lost family members in armed conflict?

O'Reilly: No, I have not.

Letterman: Well, then you can hardly speak for her, can you?...See, I'm very concerned about people like yourself who don't have nothing but endless sympathy for a woman like Cindy Sheehan. Honest to Christ.
Not bad, huh? Who would have thought the old dog had it in him? Although, I must admit I was not completely surprised when I heard about this, because I remember when Rush Limbaugh was on the program a few years back. Letterman asked him:
"Do you ever wake up in the middle of the night and just think to yourself, I'm just full of hot gas?"

Not K9 units!

A very silly joke about something that isn't very silly at all:

According to a headline in The Raw Story,
Unsealed docs reveal massive NSA spy op on
Quaker anti-war group; WMD team at protest

Documents: Spying on balloons; K9 units, more

Dear god. They'll stop at nothing.

Thank you.

Ink 19 Update

Superstars#1 Hits Remixed. Sarah McLachlan, Pink, Christina Aguilera, and more-the verdict is in.

Hey, hey, what do you say (Alito hearings)

Firedoglake has a good entry with the observation that, for obvious reasons,
One issue that was clearly on the minds of everyone yesterday (With the exception of Tom Coburn who pretty much only thought about litmus test here...) was that of an Imperial Presidency, restoration of separation of powers, and where Judge Alito would come down on issues that are almost certain to make their way to the Supreme Court in the next few years. With Alito's history of deference to Executive power, this is shaping up to be a tough day of questioning today.

ETA: Bob Geiger quotes People For the American Way President Ralph G. Neas on Alito's membership in the "Concerned Alumni of Princeton."
“The question for senators to consider – and to ask – is why Samuel Alito would brag about his membership in an organization known for its fervent hostility to the inclusion of women and minorities at Princeton...What does it tell us about his approach to issues like equal opportunity? Even a preliminary review of CAP’s history demonstrates that it waged a campaign to turn back the clock at Princeton with ferocious zeal. If Alito were to bring CAP’s values to the Supreme Court, he would help turn back the clock in America.”

Say! (UPDATED w/additions)

Update: In a related post, Josh Marshall talks about another little problem the Republican establishment is going to have in "cleaning up the neighborhood," namely:
When you want to clean up the neighborhood, there's generally very little you can accomplish until you get the actual criminals off the streets. Once that's done, you can knock down the abandoned buildings, reseed the park, refound the neighborhood watch organization, whatever.

But the true, immediate and overriding problem with a crime-infested neighborhood is the criminals.

Congress, and thus the country, faces a similar predicament.

The talk of the day now in DC is 'lobbying reform', which Mark Schmitt aptly pillories over at TPMCafe. We may need new laws to curb the power moneyed interests now have over policy-making. In fact, I think we do.

But that's not the problem in Washington.

If you want to see what Josh thinks is the problem in Washington, read Talking Points Memo.

Original post: You know how bloggers like Digby, Bob Geiger, Julia and me, to say nothing of our man Howard Dean, have been hitting the fact that the Abramoff mess is not bipartisan, but a scandal owned by the Republicans lock, stock, etc?

Turns out somebody agrees with us. Somebody named Rich Lowry, editor of the conservative National Review.

The Abramoff Scandal (R., Beltway)
It’s the Republicans, stupid.

...The GOP now craves such bipartisan cover in the Jack Abramoff scandal. Republicans trumpet every Democratic connection to Abramoff in the hope that something resonates. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.), took more than $60,000 from Abramoff clients! North Dakota Democratic Sen. Byron Dorgan used Abramoff's skybox! It is true that any Washington influence peddler is going to spread cash and favors as widely as possible, and 210 members of Congress have received Abramoff-connected dollars. But this is, in its essence, a Republican scandal, and any attempt to portray it otherwise is a misdirection.

Abramoff is a Republican who worked closely with two of the country's most prominent conservative activists, Grover Norquist and Ralph Reed. Top aides to the most important Republican in Congress, Tom DeLay (R., Tex.) were party to his sleazy schemes. The only people referred to directly in Abramoff's recent plea agreement are a Republican congressmen and two former Republican congressional aides. The GOP members can make a case that the scandal reflects more the way Washington works than the unique perfidy of their party, but even this is self-defeating, since Republicans run Washington.

Republicans must take the scandal seriously and work to clean up in its wake.

Of course, he had to throw in a paragraph reassuring his audience that the right is behaving well and self-correctingly in this matter. As opposed to "the left's lickspittle loyalty to Bill Clinton, whose maintenance in power many liberals put above any of their principles."

Or maybe it was just that among our principles is the idea that a President should not be impeached for something that should have been a private matter between him and his family. But putting that aside, this is a mostly-honest editorial-and one that works nicely into the continuing theme that I've been working on here.

Hey, Democrats! If you don't start making moves to show that you "take the scandal seriously and work to clean up in its wake"...the Republicans are going to do it for you, get all the credit, and claim a just reward in November.

Now will you stop listening to the Joe Liebermans?

ETA: Digby posts about the same editorial, and expands on some of the points I made above, at greater length and with arguably greater words. He's less convinced than I (or maybe I should say not so afraid) that the Republicans will be able to come out of this clean as a whistle.

This Republican party is crooked. And despite what George Will says, it's not because of big government. Government spending has exploded under the allegedly "small government" Republicans while delivering less and less to average Americans. They have proven that they are completely full of shit on that issue and anyone who votes for them on that basis is an idiot. Judging by their performance the only things they actually care about are padding their own pockets and protecting their own power. If there are a hoard of "reform" Republicans out there who have been objecting to this pillaging of the treasury, they haven't exactly been speaking up. All I've heard is "praise God and pass the contributions."

In addition, he responds to the 'graph about Clinton thus:

...both the Republican president and the invertebrate Republican congress have engaged in or silently acquiesced to blatant graft and corruption for years while the Democrats impotently screamed into the void. The party was keeping the seat warm for months while the majority leader remained under indictment. They changed the rules so that an indicted leader could keep his seat until the public outcry forced them to retreat, for crying out loud, and then they launched a grassroots campaign to defend him.

So...who put "maintenance in power...above any of their principles?"

Et tu, Joe?

Joe Scarborough is on the short (and getting shorter every day) list of right-wing louts I could learn to like. He's just easier to take than most. But, he's also appearing on television to discuss Abramoff...while failing to mention that when he was a congressman, he took Abramoff's money.

Oh Joe, Joe, Joe...whoops.

Monday, January 09, 2006

If anyone needs me, I'll be in a cheap hotel room with a homeless Hungarian laying down tracks on a synthisizer

For those of you with Showtime, they've started showing episodes of Huff again, presumably to ramp up for the second season. For my money, this is the best and yet most underrated of the networks attempts to compete with HBO in the original drama series sweepstakes. Masters of Horror comes close, but that's an anthology orange to a continuing series apple.

I've only seen one episode of Weeds but it didn't seem like much-and how relived are you that I didn't say "it didn't grow on me?" And as for The L Word...well, one of these days I'm going to build up a head of steam about that series and it's all going to explode into a post here...for now, suffice it to say, Huff is superior in all ways.

I knew there was a reason I loved Toby

From the Daily Record, via a post to the Aaron Sorkin Yahoo! Group, Richard Schiff on "West Wing":
"I've been wanting to leave for a while. I love it. I love everyone on it. At times I think it was the best show on television. But it's different now, and it's been different for a few years. I'm sure whoever owns it might want to make some more money on it or, out of pride, see where it goes with a new administration. But it's not my 'West Wing,' so I don't have any interest in it. I don't want to do it without John Spencer."

Preach, Richard.

Why, god, why? Why do you hate me?

Why are you taking Sweeney Todd, one of the boldest experiments and greatest achivements of Stephen Sondheim (an artist I identify with and am thankful for year after year and first among his generation) and putting it in the hands of Tim Burton and Johnny Depp?

Burton is a "director" whom I loathe with the heat of a thousand suns; Depp is an actor who is completely wrong for the part and whose vocal skills are a complete question mark. So really: Why, god, why? Did I desecrate a shrine or something?

Ladies and gentlemen, Howard "boom-boom" Dean

During the '04 campaign, the candidate I probably agreed with most was Howard Dean, but I never quite warmed to him personally. I had trouble getting on board with him on that basis. He may or may not make an attractive candidate again (though I'd be inclined to take another look in '08), but as Democratic Party Chairman he has been absolutely kicking ass.

All the things the damn innocuous "sensible" Democrats hate about him are exactly the things that I love about him. Go read this excerpted transcript from his appearance with Wolf Blitzer. I'll quote some brief passages just to whet your appetite but seriously, go, read.
These people are not qualified. They haven't served themselves; they don't know what it takes. They ought to protect our troops. Our troops are doing a hell of a job and they deserve better leadership in Washington than what they're getting.

This president has lacked credibility almost from the day he took office because of the way he took office.

He's not reached out to other people. He's shown he's willing to abuse his power. He's not consulted others. And he's not interested in consulting any others.

And I think, frankly, that Joe [Lieberman] is absolutely wrong, that it is incumbent on every American who is patriotic and cares about their country to stand up for what's right and not go along with the president, who is leading us in a wrong direction.

Now that, my friends, is a fighting Democrat. Sometimes it seems most of them have forgotten what one looks like.

Ah, Tom DeLay...

Quoted verbatim and in toto from Joshua Micah Marshall:
Remember, Tom DeLay is still out telling everyone that the only thing that brought him down was a meritless indictment from a partisan Democrat. Today, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals denied his request to have that supposedly meritless indictment tossed out.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals is made up of nine judges. Each one elected. Each one a Republican.


The good people of Truth Ministries in SC have put up a billboard asking,
Are you Gay or Lesbian and don't want to be? There's HOPE for change.

"It kind of rubbed me the wrong way. They portrayed homosexuality as being a choice. I don't believe it is," said Stacey Haney, an 18-year-old lesbian and business administration major at the University of South Carolina Upstate.

(Keitha: I wonder which way she'd prefer to be rubbed?)
(Annabel: Stop it.)
(Keitha: Eighteen, hmmmmm?)
(Annabel: Honey...)


One of these days I'm just going to go Hulk on the asses of Joe Klein and Kevin Drum, and every other pundit or Liberal who says
Democrats are heading off a cliff by making too big a deal out of the NSA's domestic spying program

No they're not.


the NSA program itself is quite likely a reasonable response to 9/11


I'm so fucking sick of the people who purport to speak to and for us I could vomit. Or if not vomit, then go riot in the streets and not come back until I have at least two heads on pikes.

We're on the road to nowhere

Credit: ReddHedd at firedoglake, who has an almost completely unrelated entry, but I just loved the picture.

I've been thinking about comedy teams a little bit; mainly because I got Jerry Lewis' book about him & Dean from the library.

There's a post working it's way through my mind about what style of show business I think each man represents. And the style in which I want to be.

But that's Dean & Jerry, and that's another post. The Hope & Croby Road movies (my favorites: Morocco and Singapore) were sexy and breezy and easy.

By the time I became aware of Bob Hope he was already the living embodiment of the military-industrial complex (I had a similar problem with Frank Sinatra).

It was only through his radio shows and films like these that I came to appreciate him. And how the hell can anything be wrong when Bing sings? He and Hope may not have been the best of friends off-camera, but who can deny how well they worked together in front of it?

Sunday, January 08, 2006

I'm standing out here freezing and this guy's giving me proverbs

Oscar Levant: There is a thin line between genius and insanity.
I have erased this line.

In one picture, Reese Witherspoon loses all the ground she's gained with her performance as June Carter Cash in Walk the Line least with me.

I mean first of all, somebody needs to feed that girl. And leather? Really?

Like clockwork

As was probably to be expected, one or two movie theater chains are refusing to show the film "Brokeback Mountain." One in Salt Lake City:

The theater is owned by Larry H. Miller Group of Companies. The manager of the Megaplex refused to say why the film had been cancelled. A Miller spokesperson did not return calls.

...The decision by Miller Group to drop the film came a day after another chain suddenly decided not to show the movie in Poulsbo, Washington. The Regal multiplex movie theater ran ads for "Brokeback Mountain" in Thursday's edition of the Kitsap Sun newspaper and was promoting pre-sale tickets at the theater.

But when people went to the theater posters had been removed and the film was not available.

And where is the Regal chain based?

All together now, say it with me, children...

All right!

You longtime readers may recall what I think of the Alito nomination. I think it must be fought; I think he means to repeal Roe v. Wade and is otherwise well out of the mainstream. But that, of course, doesn't mean that he doesn't have a more appealing, classy, and less smarmy side.

Case in point.


Hullabaloo has a good post on some recent revelations. Quoting a Political Cortex story:
As it hunted down tax scofflaws, the Internal Revenue Service collected information on the political party affiliations of taxpayers in 20 states.

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., a member of an appropriations subcommittee with jurisdiction over the IRS, said the practice was an “outrageous violation of the public trust” that could undermine the agency’s credibility.

That's my Senator, BTW, and by and large I'm proud. She's no "Bagdad" Jim McDermott, but who is? Digby adds:
I have long thought that privacy is a potent issue for Democrats and all these nasty revelations about Republican snooping and interefering in people's personal decisions just make it more so. With the exception of a few sincere Goldwaterites who have all passed on, the libertarian strain in the Republican party was always just a simple cultural appeal on guns and taxes. History shows that they clearly favor big government that serves their corporate special interests and are more than willing to use the full force of the state at their discretion. (This is most vividly demonstrated by the new presidential infallibility doctrine on one hand and Terry Schiavo on the other.)

He then quotes some research on what rights the American people believe to be crucial and notes:
You'll notice that the right to privacy is considered more crucial than some other rights that are explicitly written into the Bill of Rights. (You'll also notice that number one [the right to vote itself] is not a right...Too bad the press was so busy handwringing about preganant chads that it didn't bother to discuss that fact in any depth.)

And, this time quoting our man John at Americablog:
Anyone can buy a list of your incoming and outgoing phone calls, cell or land-line, for $110 online.

Digby's conclusion:
I support the idea of Democrats introducing a constitutional amendment to codify a right to privacy once and for all. I have heard some say that we should not do this because people will then realize that we don't already have that right. I think that's weak. The only people who are currently concerned with that argument in any practical sense are judges and they understand the issue very well. This is about taking a public stand and fighting for something that most Americans, not just Democrats, believe in and care about.

I think he's right.