Friday, August 31, 2007


The wolf ate my blog post.

I had written a rather lengthier piece about the magnificent Los Lobos show at the Santa Monica Pier last night, but somehow it didn't publish, nor did it save to my Blogspot account. Serves me right for growing cavalier where I once saved along the way to MSWord, religiously.

Sadly, I won't be putting the effort into recreating it tonight, but here's some set highlights (and there were really nothing but highlights):

"Don't Worry, Baby"
"Saint Behind the Glass"
"I Got Loaded"
"Marie Marie"
"Come On, Let's Go" (Ritchie Valens)
"The Fat Man" (Fats Domino)
Forerunner Willie G dropping in to sing back-up on "This Town" and lead on his "Is That All There Is?" in his classic, bluesy soul style

Encore set:
"Cinnamon Girl" (blistering)
Rave-up medley of "La Bamba" (Valens again) and "Good Love" (Lovin' Spoonful).

David Hidalgo is clearly a gifted songwriter, accordion player and guitarist, and in that last capacity does a mean Carlos Santana among many other accomplished styles. Yet my heart belongs to Cesar Rosas who anchors the opposite end of the stage (they looks great at bookends, with Rosas a lefty so that their guitars seem to frame the band perfectly) with his Link Wray sound, similarly in black shirt and shades. Rosas was the one who reached out most to the audience, getting us to clap along and having a great time.

For the last couple numbers they had two kids onstage dancing in place, a little girl of maybe 3 in long dress and hair ribbons, and a boy of possibly 7 dapper in black shirt and jeans (Hidalgo handed him a set of maracas during the last number). I'm guessing they're children of band members.

In any case, they captured the open, joyous spirit of the band and the show, got some beautiful memories for themselves, and maybe in another ten or twenty years they'll be a band themselves, carrying the band's spirit unto the next generation.

Maybe that'll be how the wolf survives.

Thursday, August 30, 2007


One of the way Karl Rove and his acolytes are able to manipulate the mainstream media so successfully is the myth of political news balance.

The mainstream television media does not seem to allow itself to show just how bad one political party has damaged the country, much of which is through its unparalleled hypocrisy (i.e. gay marriage bans/closeted GOP politicians) as well as its lawbreaking habits.

Josh Marshall puts it all together in "The Muck Gap" from TPM. Highly entertaining and quickly informative.

11:1. That's all you need to know.

And the year isn't close to over yet.


This is adults only and wrong and just gets funnier and funnier. They develop the joke.

"Because you and your idiot friends think you're the guys from Entourage."
"Do you know who I am?"

BTW, goodbye, Hilly. We knew you were sick and last October 31st seemed like your official farewell, but now it's on the record and you've done your part. A lot of people now and forever will be grateful to you, whether they know it or not.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The GOP Can't Help It

So another Republican official gets busted for living a lie. Poor Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID). So he wanted to hook up with a stranger in a bathroom. If it were too consenting adults (and not a sting operation) then what's the bother?

Is it because he hypocritically works hard to curtail the rights of out-of-the-closet American homosexuals (per Perez Hilton no less)?
* Voted YES on constitutional ban of same-sex marriage. (Jun 2006)

* Voted NO on adding sexual orientation to definition of hate crimes. (Jun 2002)

* Voted NO on expanding hate crimes to include sexual orientation. (Jun 2000)

* Voted YES on prohibiting same-sex marriage. (Sep 1996)

* Voted NO on prohibiting job discrimination by sexual orientation. (Sep 1996)

Is it because he previously demonized the very behavior in which we was engaged?
"This sordid fact of homosexual life surfaced yesterday in an AP article yesterday that reports on the number of arrests police have made for indecent exposure and public sex acts in the restrooms at Atlanta’s airport, the busiest in the world. The increased restroom patrols, begun to apprehend luggage thieves, instead uncovered a rash of sex crimes. Airport restrooms have become so popular that men looking for anonymous sexual trysts with other men have advertised their airport availability on Craigslist. One such ad was from a man saying he was stuck at the airport for three hours and was looking for “discreet, quick action.”

Is it because he hypocritically censured President Bill Clinton for his sexual transgression?
Craig: It’s a, bad boy, Bill Clinton. You’re a naughty boy. The American people already know that Bill Clinton is a bad boy, a naughty boy.

Or is because he attempted to use his position as U.S. Senator to secure favorable treatment?
Craig "handed the plainclothes sergeant who arrested him a business card that identified him as a U.S. Senator and said, 'What do you think about that?'"

Wow, another scandal for the GOP. Between bribery in Alaska, criminal war without end and closeted ideologues, they are The National Enquirer of American politics. With those mags you just know, it can always get worse.

His constituents want him out, his come-on is being re-enacted by newspeople, he going to have to enter some sort of sexual re-orientation camp.

I'm with Kos, very funny, on this:

To me, it's pretty obvious that every conservative anti-gay extremist is gay. If you're not gay, you don't sit around obsessing over gay sex.

If you sit around obsessing about gay sex, then you're gay. It's that simple.

If they came out of the closet once and for all, they'd be much happier and so would we.

Perhaps that's why Craig did this sort of self-destructive and dangerous behavior -- he hoped to get caught, because then he would no longer need to keep up the charade. And now, after Craig rides off into the sunset, perhaps he'll find the peace and self-acceptance that every human being deserves. Too bad he had to be a member of the party which reviles that which he truly is.

Free yourself, Senator Craig. Free the people, free all the people, to be who they really are.

Even Larry Craig.

Monday, August 27, 2007

This is Why (I Love John Edwards)

So Gonzo joins Karl not so coincidentally today. Is it the Federal Prosecutor scandal or is it the Hatch Act violation? If the People ever get to the emails and depose the perpetrators, there would be jail time for sure. Or more pardons.

Here's Democratic Presidential nomination frontrunner Hillary Clinton's statement on Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' "resignation":
This resignation is long overdue, and so is the appointment of an Attorney General who will put the rule of law and our Constitution above partisan politics.

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales took an oath to uphold our Constitution and respect the rule of law, but time and time again, he demonstrated that his loyalties lie with the President and his political agenda, not the American people or the evenhanded and impartial enforcement of our laws. In his actions and inaction, from warrantless wiretaps to the firing of U.S. Attorneys, his loyalty was to the President, not the American people.

The Department's hardworking lawyers, law enforcement officers, and staff are trusted to defend our Constitution, not one Administration or political party. That trust is central to the sanctity of the rule of law and the vitality of our democracy. Because he betrayed his obligations and the trust of the American people, I welcome today's announcement that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has resigned his post as Attorney General of the United States.

My hope is that the President will select a new Attorney General who will respect the rule of law and abandon partisanship, who will serve the American people and not the President's political ideology, and who will answer to the Constitution and not political operatives. It is past time to clean up this mess and restore non-partisan accountability and competence to the Department of Justice.

The second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina is one more reminder that the President must appoint someone to lead the Department of Justice with the leadership and competence necessary to defend the Constitution.

Here's lead fundraising Democratic Presidential nomination candidate Barak Obama's statement:
"I have long believed that Alberto Gonzales subverted justice to promote a political agenda, and so I am pleased that he has finally resigned today. The President needs to nominate an Attorney General who will be the people's lawyer, not the President's lawyer, and in an Obama Administration that person will first and foremost defend and promote the rights and liberties enshrined in our Constitution."

Here's Democratic Presidential nomination candidate John Edwards:
"Better late than never."

People wonder why Democrats can't simplify their language to get to the heart of the matter in a way everyone can understand. There you go.

At least one of the candidates has a sharp, pithy sense of humor.

And he's dead right.

Sunday, August 26, 2007


Ted Nugent's got a whole other kind of fever:
I was in Chicago last week, I said, "Hey Obama, you might want to suck on one of these, you punk!" Obama, he’s a piece of sh*t and I told him to suck on my machine gun! Let’s hear it for them. I was in New York and I said, "Hey Hillary, you might want to ride one of these into the sunset, you worthless bitch. And since I'm in California, how about Barbara Boxer? She might want to suck on my machine gun! Hey, Dianne Feinstein, ride one of these, you worthless whore!"

This is from the concert stage, holding two machine guns. This is from someone published on the Wall Street Journal editorial page.

Imagine if some rock star had made these threats against Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani, Mitch McConnell, Oren Hatch.

Dick Cheney or George W. Bush.

Why isn't Nugent in lockdown?

Saturday, August 25, 2007


Bill Maher's show is back on HBO for a new season and the opener was pretty raw. At opposite ends of the panel were Tim Robbins and official Cheney biographer Stephen Hayes. Robbins was, of course, right about not going into Iraq. Hayes continues to cling to a more-than-dubious Doug Feith memo to support a Sophistic connection between Saddam Hussein and Al Queda, and ipso facto Saddam attacked us on 9/11 and bully for us getting quagmired.

Robbins (and Maher) tore into neoconservative court copywriter Hayes directly:

Robbins: You’re partly responsible, you could start with an apology. You wrote a book saying there was a connection Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda.

Hayes: You want to know why I wrote that book? Because there was a connection Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda.

Maher: No there wasn’t

Robbins: You can lie a thousand times—it doesn’t make it true.

And even better, from Robbins:
"...before we got into this war there were countless "military experts", intelligence analysts, that told us that this was a good idea, that we had to do it, that presented their information and were so terribly wrong. These people are still affecting public policy, are still considered experts. I'm sorry, but shouldn't there a law or rule that says "If you f**k things up so badly you can no longer be an expert"

There are two current MSM/GOP/Neocon questions that I think need to be beat down until we don't hear them any more, and the third panelist (in the middle), NPR's Michel Martin asked both of them:

1. Why does it have to be that someone lied? Why can't it just be that they had good intentions, there were simply mistakes made?

Answer: The lie is the crime. If liars (on such a grand scale) are still in power, they need to be exposed and vilified, and neutralized if not removed.

2. Why do we have to go over the past when it's the situation now that we have to deal with?

Answer: Of course we have to deal with the situation now, but that isn't entirely a separate issue. For one, if we don't learn from our history, no matter how recent, we will be condemned to repeat it. For another, if we don't analyze how we got into this, we may let those who got us stuck in this quagmire continue to rule, and for those Neocon/Cheney/GOP voices to continue to control the War and foreign policy.

And they cannot be trusted. Ever, ever again.

So fight.


Friday, August 24, 2007

Coup D'Iraq

Bush is right, Iraq is just like Vietnam. And if the Cheney/Bush Administration is now setting into motion a coup d'etat designed to replace democratically elected Prime Minister Maliki with Ayad Allawi, just like the U.S. did in 1963 in South Vietnam when that war was going badly.

I think they're trying to prepare us for major upheaval, the sudden and open-ended suspension, perhaps end, of the democratic project. You know, Bush's great "vision."

I think it's going to happen over Labor Day weekend, when they think no one here will be watching the news. Allawi just started spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on a Republican lobbying firm in D.C., obviously to have his message outlet to build support among the GOP. And he's got the support of a C.I.A.-controlled intelligence operation in Iraq. There's his army.

They're dreaming that he's the new strongman who can keep a lid on the country and let us control their natural resources (oil & water). He tried before to execute a coup under Saddam Hussein. Second time's the charm.

They're laying the groundwork -- Allawi's secular faction (him and two other ministers) just dropped out of the Maliki government. You think it was any accident that they did it on a Friday night, after the news cycle?

My biggest fear is that since Maliki has been talking to Iran and Syria, this is a move in the Joe Lieberdouche direction, and Cheney/Bush will get their wish to enlarge the war into Iran, and set off the region. Bush is already talking about Cambodia -- I guess he hasn't taken enough souls yet.

Ah, well, at least we have our own Tet to look forward to. And since Rove/Bush set in motion the Vietnam parallels, it's only fair to compare dates.

If 2007 = 1963,

then we'll be helicoptering our people out of Iraq in 2017.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Something about...

There's something about Barack Obama that's just crazy appealing. He's so comfortable being himself, so much cooler than any politician I can remember (JFK?) that it surprises and pleases me when I see him in a non-debate setting, like last night on The Daily Show.

See for yourself.

He makes a great argument for experience not being the defining factor post-Bush/Cheney -- experience does not automatically equal judgment

Coincidentally enough, Paul Krugman reminds us of the GOP's real base...and why Giuliani is so appealing to it.


Mister Bush compares Iraq to Vietnam and misinterprets the anti-colonial Graham Greene classic, The Quiet American. Is he a mo-ron?

Is this the climax of the Karl Rove experience, his whole career with Bush leading to this?

Is this really where Bush or Cheney wants the Stop Iraq War debate to go?

You can watch Bush here. You can watch Ret. Major General Paul Eaton on MSNBC who leads off with "It is a very unfortunate trip back into history," before taking apart Bush's comparison and labeling it bad for, as in not-supportive of, the troops.

The best take-down is by David Shuster. He zeros in on Bush puppet's mangling of the Cambodia chronology -- he pretends the Pol Pot nightmare there happened because we ended the war, while it all began when Nixon starting bombing Cambodia.

You know, like could happen if we start bombing Iran.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Protecting Our Children Pt. 2

Surprise surprise:
The Bush administration and China have both undermined efforts to tighten rules designed to ensure that lead paint isn't used in toys, bibs, jewelry and other children’s products.

Both have fought efforts to better police imported toys from China.

So how did they fight these efforts to protect America's kids?

But as recently as last December, the Sierra Club sued the Bush administration after the Environmental Protection Agency rebuffed a petition to require health and safety studies for companies that use lead in children’s products. The EPA and Sierra Club settled out of court in April, with the administration agreeing to write a letter to the CPSC that expressed concern about insufficient quality control on products containing lead.

The Sierra Club’s interest in lead paint in children's products grew out of the largest-ever CPSC-conducted recall. That action on July 8, 2004, targeted 150 million pieces of Chinese-made children's jewelry sold in vending machines across the United States. Since 2003, the commission has conducted about 40 recalls of children’s jewelry because of high levels of lead.

In March 2006, a 4-year-old Minnesota boy died of lead poisoning after swallowing a metal charm that came with Reebok shoes. The charm was found to contain more than 90 percent lead.

Oh my God, why don't we just give Cheney, Bush and the rest of the ruling Republicans as many sledgehammers as they like and let them run around American bashing their country to pieces. It'd be a lot faster than the way they're going about it.

The most important point to make about all of this madness is that it isn't just Mister Bush, it isn't just President Cheney, it isn't just Karl Rove. It isn't just incompetence and cronyism.

It's a bankrupt governing philosophy.

Per the McClatchy article:

The Bush administration has hindered regulation on two fronts, consumer advocates say. It stalled efforts to press for greater inspections of imported children’s products, and it altered the focus of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), moving it from aggressive protection of consumers to a more manufacturer-friendly approach.

“The overall philosophy is regulations are bad and they are too large a cost for industry, and the market will take care of it,” said Rick Melberth, director of regulatory policy at OMBWatch, a government watchdog group formed in 1983. “That’s been the philosophy of the Bush administration.”

I used to think that the Conservatives had some points, that some sort of middle groups would be the "best" way. I no longer believe it. Now that there's a Netroots policing the Liberal or, as we seem to be hearing more and more, Progressive governing forces, it's a much safer America for liberal thought.

We have to catch this country up to the higher Western European standards of the 21st Century. No, it doesn't mean everything will always be perfect, that there won't be mistakes or this or that crooked guy caught.

What it means is that the starting point isn't greed, it's the common good, so that we can survive, thrive and prosper. This other way, this private-only way, unmitigated, is a disaster.

Back when I once read One Hundred Years of Solitude I remember understanding that if a family or, in our case, a country allows itself to become corrupt, to rot from the inside, then no matter the original good intentions or hearkened Golden Age, it'll be the unexpected act of nature for which that grand unit will be unprepared. There won't be any time to recover or rebuild, there will only be a vanquishing.

I pray it doesn't happen to America. I pray it isn't the melting of the Polar Ice Caps due to our hyper-industrial warming tendencies. I pray it isn't the death of the bee population and subsequent fractionating of our food supply. I pray it isn't a nuclear terrorist attack.

Time feels tight, like we need to act quickly to right our ways and establish real moral leadership in our country, our government policy, and in the world. So much so that even the 17 months left in the Cheney Administration seems like way way too much -- too much time to brand the Iranian Revolutionary Guard as terrorists to create a pretext for World War III.

I'll be interested to see who moves fast, who moves the fastest, as it could be as early as December, before the end of this year even, when the rubber hits the road.

Monday, August 20, 2007


Per Josh Marshall, oh so succinctly:
When you're stuck down at 30% approval and down to your last 18 months in office, an administration really has to pick and choose its battles. Only real matters of principle are worth a fight. And the Bush administration has found one -- resisting state efforts to expand the Children's Health Insurance Program to more middle income families.

Never has this Cheney/Bush/Rove Administration so obviously twirled its mustache. It's like a silent movie landlord -- "I can't pay the rent!" "You must pay the rent!" -- or a live action Snidely Whiplash. The opening grafs in the NY Times article tell the tale:

The Bush administration, continuing its fight to stop states from expanding the popular Children’s Health Insurance Program, has adopted new standards that would make it much more difficult for New York, California and others to extend coverage to children in middle-income families.

Administration officials outlined the new standards in a letter sent to state health officials on Friday evening, in the middle of a monthlong Congressional recess. In interviews, they said the changes were intended to return the Children’s Health Insurance Program to its original focus on low-income children and to make sure the program did not become a substitute for private health coverage.

That's it right there. Point-blank admission. They are screwing over America in order to protect the hateful private health insurance business, the one that Michael Moore revealed as a monstrously terrible alternative to national health insurance. Moore showed how Republican President Richard Nixon and his top aide, John Ehlichman, birthed our current corrupt for-profit health insurance industry.

However, I can't pin this on all Republicans. These sons of bitches are even frustrating the wishes of their own Party's governors and Congresspeople
The Children’s Health Insurance Program has strong support from governors of both parties, including Republicans like Arnold Schwarzenegger of California, Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota and Sonny Perdue of Georgia. When the Senate passed a bill to expand the program this month, 18 Republican senators voted for it, in defiance of a veto threat from Mr. Bush. The House passed a more expansive bill and will try to work out differences with the Senate when Congress reconvenes next month.

To be honest with ourselves, there do have to be Republicans who come across on national health insurance. Screw this nonsense that it leads to an inevitable slide to Socialism, or that anything Socialized is somehow bad for America. But of course, the Republicans in D.C. today are the committed descendants of the Republicans who wanted to destroy Social Security, the largest and most successful social program in the history of our country, from the very beginning, when Franklin Delano Roosevelt guided it into existence.

Roosevelt labeled them for what they still are today: Plutocrats. And he wasn't afraid to take them down:

"Powerful influences strive today to restore that kind of [plutocratic] government with its doctrine that that Government is best which is most indifferent to mankind....

"We['ve] had to struggle with the old enemies of peace--business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering.

"They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage of their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as government by organized mob.

"Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hatred for me--and I welcome their hatred."

He welcomed their hatred. Nice. And his description of the enemy, tell me it couldn't have been written today.

One of the linchpins of Bill Clinton's success as President was expanding social services from the poor to the middle class, creating greater comfort and prosperity. They call that Socialism. They fear it, because it makes people look favorably on government, and then government can provide services that don't allow them to profit themselves. Or exploit, for their own financial an plutocratic gain.

That's why the Bush/Cheney tax cuts were so important. That's why GOP tax cut madman Grover Norquist wants to weaken our Federal government enough to "drown it in the bathtub." That's why they don't give a shit about who's put in charge of FEMA.

Who's children are they trying to force into the private pool:
The poverty level for a family of four is set by the federal government at $20,650 in annual income. Many states have received federal permission to cover children with family incomes exceeding twice the poverty level — $41,300 for a family of four. In New York, which covers children up to 250 percent of the poverty level, the Legislature has passed a bill that would raise the limit to 400 percent— $82,600 for a family of four — but the change is subject to federal approval.

They don't want families of four making $20,000 to $80,000 a year getting public health insurance for their children. We all know how far $20,000, even $80,000 goes these days. That's like food, clothing, cable. That's not exactly benefiting from huge capital gains tax cuts. Who at $20,000 a year is covering his family under an awesome private plan?

So good, George. Make yourself and the GOP the child killers.

You deserve it.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

A Musical Revolution

I was all set to write about Karl Rove tonight since he did a round of Sunday talk shows and everyone who didn't interview him is voicing their valedictory opinions, but you can read all that out there if you want to and, quite frankly, I'm just sick of the guy. Just bring him to justice and leave me alone.

This article, however, caught my eye, from Britain's Prospect magazine. It doesn't take an expert to know that the CD is in decline and downloadable music is in ascension, but writer Robert Sandall really covers the field. His basic point it that record companies are coming to realize they can only survive as consumer marketing companies. For reasons why, try his opening:
There is a story doing the rounds in the US that says a lot about the state of the music business. It concerns a young rock band who decided to stop selling their CDs at concerts. Selling CDs has, for many years, been a good way for an act to reclaim the margin that would otherwise have been snaffled by a retailer. But it made no sense to this band once they discovered that by selling CDs for $10 they were cannibalising sales of their $20 T-shirts.

There are two points to note here. First, that a simple garment with a logo stamped across it, probably manufactured for pennies in a third-world sweatshop, now costs twice as much as an album of digitally pristine, highly wrought music recorded in a state of the art western studio. Second, most bands, however successful, now make their money from live work and the merchandising opportunities that go with it, rather than from recordings.

Like Sandall, I believe the seeds of destruction lay in the massive greed of the record companies themselves, and that there is indeed a sense of chickens coming home to roost:
The CD persuaded many music fans to replace their vinyl collection with digital copies of music they had already paid for. And the rise of the CD permitted record companies to double the price of their basic product without incurring a huge uplift in costs. Even allowing for the royalty paid to the joint inventors of the CD—Philips and Sony—the discs were soon being manufactured for little more than it cost to crank out vinyl records on ancient presses.

For some of us who could buy records at discount retailers in the late 1970's and early 1980's, the CD actually quadrupled each expenditure. I could pick up almost everything I wanted for $4.99, sometimes $3.99, even less for cut-outs and over-pressed releases. Suddenly it was $18.99 retail for all the same music, although at some point bonus tracks were added on the CDs to fill out all that empty disk space.

While CD prices are finally coming down, concert prices are unfortunately rising astronomically, which I think will eventually do some damage to performers (like Kelly Clarkson, pulling out of an arena tour this year after ticket sales tanked). I used to see see acts almost every weekend, because it usually cost less than $20 a ticket. So I got exposed to a ton of artists, and added their inexpensive albums to my record collection.

What's funny about the current value of CDs as trade goods is that, with artists like Prince leading the charge, CDs are increasingly being given away. Even more astonishing, in some cases can't even be given away:
When the Sunday Times gave away a free CD of old Oasis songs in 2000, it registered its highest circulation ever. In the following weeks, the BPI noted, retail sales of Oasis albums actually declined. But now even newspapers and magazines seem to have lost their appetite for covermounts. Last year, Q discontinued them on the grounds that the cost of manufacturing the discs was no longer justified by a spike in circulation. No clearer sign exists that, at least for musically savvy Q readers, you can't give CDs away.

How low on the value chain can the now-maligned CD go?

Will record companies soon be paying us to pick them up?

Saturday, August 18, 2007


There's been so much p.r. on the new comedy from the Judd Apatow factory, Superbad, that I won't go into much detail, but aside from the much-remarked upon sweetness at the core of this raucously foul-mouthed addition to the American Graffiti single-day-into-night end of high school sub-genre, a big reason that it works is because high school guys really do talk about sex in imaginative, knowing terms, even though they may have absolutely no experience with it.

The purpose of such conversational patter is multi-fold. It's a way to release pent-up sexual urges, sublimation into bawdy language that reveals far more of oneself than anyone but a superclose friend should know. It's a form of boasting, a way to prop up one's ego in the arena of most humiliating failure. It's an endless exchange of conjecture, in hopes of reaching some useful truth that will magically unlock the doors to sexual confidence. And it's a way to crack your closest buddy (or buddies) up the only way possible -- with uproarious, over-the-top, hilariously transgressive wit.

Today, the morning after laughing for nearly two hours straight alongside my two teenage guests (and I'm now sure that nearly every single teenager in America who can find their way into an R-rated movie will be catching this one -- it's the seminal comedic work for their generation, or perhaps semenal), I realized that the trick of the movie is that the characters say all the outrageously funny stuff but it doesn't allow any of the friends to laugh at what any of the others say. Back in high school my buddies and I would crack each other up with similar humor all the time, but the movie doesn't allow such reactions as might slow it down or make it seem like it's on a high horse decreeing that those of us in the seats laugh.

It's the right answer. This way, there's no pointing to the funny: the audience fills in.

Later in the day I marveled at the launch of comedic acting talents Jonah Hill, Michael Cera and Christopher Mintz-Plasse (the latter plucked out of MySpace), and wondered about their long future careers. What will they look like at 45? 65? Will they be comedy elders? Will they still be transgressive? Will the reprise their Laurel & Hardy act many more times in the future, bring a television tribute audience to their feet in their golden years?

Will they never lose that McLovin feeling?

Friday, August 17, 2007


While I've been running The Daily Reel feed in the Nettertainment sidebar for a few months, I've never embedded photos or videos before, instead linking off in a kind of pre-2004 manner.

Here's the first embedded video in the brief history of this blog so far, and I'm interested to know if readers like the idea of adding more.

This one is a mesmerizing, highly repeatable, highly freeze-frameable tribute to some of the (subjective, I know) prettiest female faces in Hollywood history, from Mary Pickford to Halle Berry, backed by one of my favorite pieces of music, from J.S. Bach's Six Suites for Unaccompanied Cello.

All that glamor:

UPDATE: Feed removed -- I did get a complaint from a regular and valued reader who's machine got torched by the video, so just click on the link above for glamorous goodness.

Thursday, August 16, 2007


Just got back from a tremendously satisfying (and free!) Patti Smith concert on the Santa Monica Pier, part of their summer series on Thursday nights. I just did the research and found out that Patti is, indeed, 60 years old. You'd never know it from her performance, which felt at least two, maybe three decades younger. Maybe more. And the last time I recall seeing Patti was 29 years ago.

Holy cow.

This was one of those shows where a lot of folks were there with their kids, and I had two teenage nephews just in from Brooklyn. On the way over I played them "Gloria" and a little "Redondo Beach". It was the first time they'd ever heard her music. Before today, I don't think they'd ever heard her name.

The set started right on time, opening with "Redondo Beach" (perfect for SoCal -- just a few beaches away), then the Horses side-B opener, "Kimberly", both in a moderate reggae groove. She raised the tempo with "Summer Cannibals" (also appropriate -- it was a hot night) and it just kept on getting better from there. Highlights included the covers off her new album, 12, with Patti playing clarinet as a kind of measure against Jimi Hendrix's guitar work on "Are You Experienced?", and the priceless bonus of Flea from Red Hot Chili Peppers joining the band with his smoky electric guitar for a slew of numbers, including a killer rave up of "Gimme Shelter".

Patti talked plenty to the audience, no phony patter but bits on how they were figuring out the tunes (telling Flea the chords), another on the importance of fiber in your daily diet except for the show they did in Oregon with the spicy tacos for lunch, and a heartily welcomed call to civic action leading into her final encore number and standard anthem, "People Have the Power".

Her sons, Jackson Smith (by Patti and late husband Fred "Sonic" Smith, he of the pioneering pre-punk MC5) is a guitarist in the band; second, of course, to her forever stalwart Lenny Kaye. Drummer Jay Dee Dougherty has also survived from the ensemble I saw back in 1978. Lenny stepped out to sing on "Pushin' Too Hard" by The Seeds, calling it a "nugget" per his influential collection of proto-punk 1960's psychedelic singles. And longtime bassist/keyboardist Tony Shanahan stepped up during the encore set to honor the 30th anniversary of Elvis Presley's passing by singing lead on "(Now and Then There's) A Fool Such as I".

If there were two numbers that gave the fans the most of what they wanted, one was the middle encore tune, Radio Ethiopia's "Pissing in a River", which the guy behind me yelled out as a request a moment before the band kicked in (he sang along loudly on the first two verses for those of us near him as well, thank you), and that blessed showstopper, "Gloria". The crowd sure sang along, from "Jesus died for somebody's sins, but not mine," through the letter call-outs, through the title repetition itself. Just like when I last saw her, it rock & rolls you to the cellular level, embedded somewhere in the fatty acids deep inside, this time like a massive recharge of my musical memory, which may have to last me for the duration since I dunno when I'll ever see Patti perform live again.

The sound quality was perfect which really helps when, like for my Brooklyn wards, you've never heard the songs before. Patti's poetry came through very well, as did the quality of her melodies and the thrill of the live concert moments rippling through the crowd. The first big surprise for me was how great her voice sounded. No cigarettes for her, but plenty of fiber, top shape. The other pleasant surprise was that my guests loved the concert and asked to borrow my Patti CDs afterwards.


As the back of the t-shirt on a gentlemen in front of us reminded me, Patti just got inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame this year, leaving maybe Television as the only seminal CBGB band left out, and I'm not sure you can get in for just one album. A reviewer of her Fillmore show in San Francisco two nights ago called that performance legendary, and I think he's hit the nail on the head.

After all the parodying, the jokes about her underarm hair (Easter album cover) and her vulnerable. idealistic, almost goofy candor between songs, Patti turns out to be an authentic American treasure. She's got her head screwed on right and performs with youthful energy, always challenging herself, always learning, always moving ahead. It was a privilege to see her tonight.

After all:







(sing it)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Go Ask Alice

Are you like me on this whole NSA / FISA illegal wiretapping scandal?

Are you too busy to work out the detail but know that of course the Cheney/Bush/Gonzales Administration shredded the Constitution, the only question is whether we'll ever find out how small the pieces were?

Are you just hoping that the "independent" Judiciary and Democratic majority with do the jobs we pay them for, get the truth out and punish, or at the very least stop the Administration for continuing their nefarious ways?

If you're like me, you may get a lot out of this Daily Kos diary by Night Owl where he explains what happened in the Federal Appeals Court where today the huge class action case finally kicked in, Hepting v. AT&T and Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation v. Bush. The diary is an annotation of this original liveblog by Wired.

The government, you know, "our" government, lays out this Catch-22 argument claiming the Executive Branch's absolute right to absolute secrecy, absolutely no oversight, for anything that branch of government says relates to national security.

The President someone working for him can classify anything at any time and he/they can decide that no one, even in the highest levels of the other branches of government, can see it -- even to judge if it should be classified.

Under their argument, We the People, and no other branch representing us, gets to check if someone in their branch is actually abusing their power and breaking the law.

One of the three judges, Judge Harry Pregerson, is eighty-three, was a U.S. Marine Corps First Lieutenant in World War II, and seriously wounded in Okinawa. He's seen a lot of American democracy:
"Who decides whether something is a state secret or not? ... We have to take the word of the members of the executive branch that something is a state secret?"

Garre counters that the courts should give "utmost deference" to the Bush administration.

Judge Pregerson: "What does utmost deference mean? Bow to it?"

Yes. Bow to your President.

Another judge, Judge Hawkins ask if a document provided by an ex-AT&T employee to the Electronic Freedom Foundation (co-plaintiff) is really that secret?
"Every ampersand, every comma is Top Secret?," Hawkins asks.

"This document is totally non-redactable and non-segregable and cannot even be meaningfully described," Bondy answers.

Because if you describe it to someone outside the Administration, then they will have to kill both of you.

And yet another instant classic from today's hearing, the third judge:

The government says the purported log of calls between one of the Islamic charity directors and two American lawyers is classified Top Secret and has the SCI level, meaning that it is "secure Cheshire compartmented information." That designation usually applies to surveillance information.

This allusion to 'Cheshire' inspires the judicial money quote:

Judge McKeown: "I feel like I'm in Alice in Wonderland.".

At the heart of all this evil is, of course, Richard Bruce Cheney. This is info-surveillance porn, power porn. Bureaucratiporn.

The two questions are how the judges will go on this and, if they go against the government, will anything against CheneyBush be enforceable?

Or will the Vice President just cut out the middleman?

And shoot all three judges in the face.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

175 on 1567

Bad day in Iraq:
Five American soldiers were killed south of Baghdad, including four in a single roadside bombing, the military said Sunday.

The blast that killed the four soldiers and wounded four others occurred Saturday during combat operations south of the capital, the military said. Another soldier was killed Saturday by small-arms fire during a foot patrol southeast of Baghdad.

Wait, that was yesterday. Prologue to Iraq War Day 1,567:
Four suicide bombers struck nearly simultaneously at communities of a small Kurdish sect in northwestern Iraq late Tuesday, killing at least 175 people and wounding 200 more, Iraqi military and local officials said.

The death toll was the highest in a concerted attack since Nov. 23, when 215 people were killed by mortar fire and five car bombs in Baghdad’s Shiite Muslim enclave of Sadr City. And it was most vicious attack yet against the Yazidis, an ancient religious community in the region whose members are considered infidels by some Muslims.

The bombings came as extremists staged other bold attacks: leveling a key bridge outside Baghdad and abducting five officials from an Oil Ministry compound in the capital in a raid using gunmen dressed as security officers. Nine U.S. soldiers also were reported killed, including five in a helicopter crash.

General Petraeus's much-anticipated report, due in September, is revealed as actually being drafted by the White House:
Despite Bush's repeated statements that the report will reflect evaluations by Petraeus and Ryan Crocker, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, administration officials said it would actually be written by the White House, with inputs from officials throughout the government.

BTW, this is what our War is costing all of us.

And Cheney/Bush is cueing up their next big step in spreading the chaos.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Yeah right

So the man Mister GW Bush nicknamed "Turdblossom" is leaving the partnership (the second to do so, after Rumsfeld) with only President Cheney and Bush remaining. He claims it is to spend more time to his family. He and his boss got all choked up at the public press announcement, not very manly.

If only they'd gotten as choked up over all the people they've killed, all the children they've caused to be killed. (WARNING: Extremely graphic.)

No one for a minute believes that Karl "Turdblossom" Rove is leaving to spend time with his wife and son -- who's in college. He's leaving because he's suspected of criminal activities and, one imagines, those slow wheels of justice behind the scenes are finally rolling his way.

John Edwards got out the first best response: "Goodbye, good riddance." But Karl won't be gone, he'll be working out of the public eye to slime the Democratic Presidential candidate in that scummy, democracy undermining, possibly criminal way he's been doing since he started, back in the dirty trick-filled, Watergate-undermined, 1972 Nixon campaign.

Nor should he disappear, per Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers (D-MI). They've both got questions for Rove. It'll be a showdown -- so-called "executive privilege" vs. justice.

I wouldn't lay any markers at this time.

The other nickname bestowed upon Rove by his master (puppet?), Mr. Bush, is "Boy Genius," for winning Mr. Bush's only successful elections. Successful as in successfully installing in power an Antichrist driving the world towards Armageddon. It turns out Rove's genius is of the most selfish kind, and has left his supposed "permanent majority" in shambles. No GOP leaders were praising Rove as he left, only Mr. Bush, no doubt the same fate that will befall Alberto Gonzales. Their Party hates them. Scratch that. Loathes them.

He knew how to win elections dirty, but he had no clue how to govern our great nation except to tear it down.

I'd like to think that Rove's departure signals the end of the Bush/Cheney Presidency but as long as those two madmen have their finger on the bomb and the military arrogance to attack Iran, none of us are safe. Until all these historical villains are replaced with new, non-Republican blood, our nation's infrastructure and social well-being are at risk.

My hunch has always been that at the bottom of the traitorously unconstitutional surveillance program has been the actual criminal activity of spying on political opponents for political gain, just like in Watergate but without the tapes and with a network of off-White House GOP email accounts. I expect much of this would have been to best John Kerry and the Democratic Party in the 2004 election. Maybe I'm wrong...but would you be surprised?

Why else are they pulling out all the stops, legal and otherwise, to avoid having to tell the truth?

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Merv Griffin's America

Back in the early part of this decade, I was pitching shows with a talented writing/producing partner who had a connection at Merv Griffin's production company, which was located in a lower level of the Beverly Hills Hotel. Since Merv was still in the game show business, that's what we pitched, but in the meeting we learned that there were literally thousands of hours of Merv Griffin talk show archives from the late 1960's through the mid 1980's that had never been repackaged in any form. So we took our shot.

How to choose, how to present? TV specials, sure. DVD sets, sure. But what's organizing principle to be?

While growing up, it was Merv and Mike Douglas with dueling firstrun syndicated afternoon talk shows. Very similar guys on the surface, but completely different in business terms. What I didn't know until much later was that Merv was a brilliant businessman with long-term staying power, while Mike didn't make much of a dent after his on-air run. Merv and his wife (he always gave her credit) created and produced Jeopardy. He created and produced Wheel of Fortune. He bought and sold hotels and casinos. He owned rights to his own shows.

What made his own talk show so interesting was that at one time or another everyone went on it. Orson Welles, John Wayne, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Denzel Washington, Jack Benny, Richard Pryor, Jerry Seinfeld, Bobby Kennedy, Cassius Clay, Dr. Martin Luther King. Even Richard Nixon.

So our pitch became: Merv Griffin's America.

He was there...when America changed the most. He had them on first, the performers and figures who had touched us in the past and those that were blazing our trail into the future. Merv: At the center of it all.

We sent it in and got back from some very nice people that it was a great pitch, but countless producers had been through Merv's door before with an idea what to do with the material, some getting very far along indeed, so ours was a nice try that wasn't going anywhere. The door stayed open, but any chance for the project closed.

Imagine our surprise when, two days later, we get called in to pitch to Merv himself.

Evidently there was an in-house process where, for legal reasons alone, any submission rejections were cc'ed to a few different company members, including Merv. I'm assuming it was the title of our submission email that struck a chord: we had appealed to Merv's feeling for his own patriotism, one that was open enough to embrace change, while sincerely grateful for the opportunities he had built on, only in America.

This was before Merv sold the hotel (in 2003) and as we walked in we just said, "We're here to see Merv." Although we had been to the suite of offices, located down a lower level, in back, very Bond-like, it wasn't easy to find after having just been in once. As we walked through doors like airlocks down wood-paneled corridors, the kind you used to see on Night Gallery maybe, we were passing large mounted photographs of Merv interviewing guests, first in black & white, then in color, the most famous celebrities of my youth with Merv maybe serious, maybe laughing. Then we went into the boardroom.

We were greeted warmly by Merv, at that time in his late 70's, dressed casually in shorts and a hanging shirt, heavier and older but bursting with his special secularly positive energy. Behind him the development people were all smiles, from the contact who had guided us in, to a few we had not met before. Then we sat down.

I'd expect anyone who's pitched anything from an elementary school fund drive to a car to a television show to have something of the same lack of total recall about a pitch. It's essentially a very intense performance, no matter how relaxed you might deliver it. Every sense is on end for advantage -- where you're feeling it from the person or persons you're pitching to, where you're trying to push for it with something you're saying without pushing that little too far. This is why it is always best to pitch in teams, so that when you get out of the room you can turn to your partner and actually cobble together "what just happened?"

So while I can't (blessedly) take you through every moment of the pitch from start to finish, I can give you some highlights that will hopefully convey how awesome it was to meet Merv, in preparation for which I had actually read his salutary and informative autobiography.

Merv was the center of attention, a live wire, funny in an old Hollywood way without being unhip. He bummed a couple cigarettes off an employee, chatted about all the great folks he'd had on, about interview and game show theory, and took particular pride in two business deals where he'd kept an edge by retaining certain rights.

One was Jeopardy -- I brought up the sale of that and Wheel, his game show company, to Sony Pictures Television several years early, the two biggest game shows in the history of the planet (one more plebe, the other the intelligent anomaly). He was quick to point out that he'd retained the rights to the theme song, which the obits are saying brought him another $70-80 million. Having started my career in music for television, I had enough sense of what the repayment rights were worth that I let on how impressed I was -- I had never even known he wrote the tune.

That led him to what seemed to be his greatest triumph, something about selling a hotel to the Trump organization (as I recall) but when the deal was closing for however many millions of dollars, the negotiators on the other side realized that the actual beach the hotel was on had not been included in the deal. They howled about it, but in the end had to pay Merv a whole 'nother batch of millions for that property.

At one point when the advantage felt it might be sagging away from us, I brought up Richard Nixon, for whom Merv had never hid his personal dislike. (Contrast his enduring friendship with Ronald and Nancy Reagan.) Merv roared how he hated Nixon, had a put-down anecdote, warmed back up to us. By the time we left I had asked my quota of questions, my top-line curious about his past, we were invigorated by his life force and his favor, and he was telling his staff to draw up the papers.

Suffice to say, the deal didn't happen. But as we were told after we finally got clarification, after that long twilight zone that those who have pitched in Hollywood and died of encouragement can only know, we "got further than most."

So it saddens me that Merv has left us. He may not have made our show, but he brightened that pitch month. His talk show skills weren't phony, and his interview with us was quite interactive. He's an odd sort of legend, on the interesting end of middlebrow, completely of Hollywood yet distinctly Middle American. He came from nothing with a combination of performance and organization, and the vision to take the bet: on himself, as always, and more often than not coming up a winner.

It's a sunnier place in Merv Griffin's America, and somehow even his death, at age 82, doesn't diminish that shine.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Ames Results

The GOP hold a "straw poll" in Iowa every Presidential election cycle, a vote entirely meaningless in determining the Primary winner, meaningful only in publicity terms, from whence to maybe solidify a position, get a good idea to drop out, or make a name for oneself.

The results are in from the Ames Iowa Straw Poll, this first test vote, and while Mitt Romney spent a load of time and money to win it, he may have hurt his cause by only winning with 31% of the vote. This is significant because other frontrunners Giuliani and McCain chose to conserve their resources and not participate, ditto crypto-candidate Fred Thompson.

To put it in perspective, back in 1999 George Bush won it with 31% as well, against very credible candidates. From Liz Mair:
In other words, Mitt Romney, playing a field uncrowded by other presidential heavyweights, only managed to pull off the same percentage as Bush did in 1999, when Bush was competing against the likes of Steve Forbes and Elizabeth Dole (who were treated as credible candidates at that time-- Patrick Ruffini notes that Steve Forbes threw millions at the straw poll in 1999, something Huckabee clearly did not do this year, and something that Romney apparently did). So, while a win for Mitt is a win, him taking 31% isn't really that much of a big deal. In some ways, when he was competing against a number of go-nowhere candidates, you might have expected him to do better.

So who actually scored at this circus-like event? The guy I originally bet on to win the nomination (before his fundraising efforts came up shallow), Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee. While I disagree with Huckabee on many issues (i.e. evolution), and can't stand when he goes with canned material like recently on Colbert, he's actually got a pulse, per this video. And he plays highly credible electric bass.

Per my post yesterday, Newt can get in and maybe even win the nomination. But, in my view, Huckabee would be the only threat in a general election. And maybe this meaningless poll is his start.

Friday, August 10, 2007


How screwed up is the GOP right now? I mean, more than I've already covered this week?

This was a banner day.

It turns out Rudolph Gall-iani will literally say anything he thinks will get him elected, especially if it involves climbing on the corpses of 9/11 victims or the shoulders of those who cleaned up afterwards:
Speaking to reporters in Cincinnati, Giuliani said, "I was at ground zero as often, if not more, than most of the workers... I was there working with them. I was exposed to exactly the same things they were exposed to. So in that sense, I'm one of them."
Do those workers agree with him?

Fire Captain and Giuliani foe James Riches, whose firefighter son died on 9/11:

"That's insulting and disgraceful. He's a liar. I was down there on my hands and knees looking for my son."

Queens paramedic Marvin Bethea:

"I personally find that very, very insulting," he said..."Standing there doing a photo-op and telling the men, 'You're doing a good job,' I don't consider that to be working."

Ironworker Jonathan Sferazo who spent a month at ground zero:

"He's not one of us. He never has been and he never will be. He never served in a capacity where he was a responder," Sferazo said.
Oh, he's tried to backtrack. So sad, so lame.

An isolated incident of exaggeration? Not so, per Wayne Barrett in The Village Voice:
Rudy Giuliani's Five Big Lies About 9/11:

1. 'I think the thing that distinguishes me on terrorism is, I have more experience dealing with it.'
Turns out he lies about the minimal, unsuccessful terrorism prosecutions he even touched when he was a U.S. Attorney.
2. 'I don't think there was anyplace in the country, including the federal government, that was as well prepared for that attack as New York City was in 2001.'
No, turns out NYC was much worse than the Pentagon, no unified command, no high-rise plan, bad communications killed firefighters, lackadaisical response to 1993 WTC bombing.
3. Don't blame me for 7 WTC, Rudy says.
4. 'Democrats do not understand the full nature and scope of the terrorist war against us.'
The worst kind of typical GOP scummy smearjob.

Clinton was the President who ordered daily briefings on Al Queda and other terrorist threats. Bush cut them down, missed "Bin Laden determined to attack inside the United States." 9/11 happened on Bush, Cheney, Rice and Rumsfeld's watch. Then they blew our lead in Afghanistan by attacking Iraq, with Rudy's full and continued support. This after Rudy blew the preparations in NYC.

Meanwhile the Dems consider terrorists criminals rather than soldiers, meaning you don't do asymmetrical warfare and get your ass handed to you by an enemy you often can't see, who can disappear into a a criminal.

Rudy understands...nothing.
5. 'Every effort was made by Mayor Giuliani and his staff to ensure the safety of all workers at Ground Zero.'
Ask them.

Will this cave in on Rudy? Who the heck else do the GOP have to go with? McCain is polling below Obama amongst Iowa Republicans. Mitt's fundraiser are johns or crooks. In fact, "None of the Above" is leading the GOP field in Iowa:

None of the Above has polled higher than Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, Fred Thompson, and all the other Republican presidential candidates, reflecting a lackluster field that isn’t catching on with the American people.

What else is there to loathe about the GOP?

- David Brooks reveals that no one likes the current President -- even Republicans.

- Bush and Giuliani want to regress our tax system further.

- They are traitors who leak secrets when politically advantageous for them.

- They will have to bring back the Draft.

Oh, and their President Cheney is desperately trying to plunge us into WWIII.


Newt Gingrich will enter the race, solely on the basis that he has the smarts, nerve and ego to run against the current President. He will wipe out at least two of the three supposed contenders now, maybe even go head-to-head with Rudy. Whichever one wins will not win the General Election, unless there is some act of violence which tips the equation.

Newt will, however, unleash a huge Republican rank & file rage against the current Administration, and he may be able to ride that wave to a nomination.

The trick will be to blame the officeholders and not the overall Republican ideology, but GOP faithful will want to be fooled into that, and are probably laying the groundwork already. Bifurcate the leadership away from Karl Rove. Scoop 'em up.

It's the only strategy that can take on and beat None of the Above.


I expect some of Nettertainment's valued readers know what a Friedman Unit is. To quote Wikipedia:
The term is in reference to a May 16, 2006 article by Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) detailing journalist Thomas Friedman's repeated use of "the next six months" as the period in which, according to Friedman, "we're going to find out...whether a decent outcome is possible" in the Iraq War.

I actually find enough to respect about Friedman, and think he does a good job of exposing a more middle-of-the-road NY Times-type reader to some important info about globalization. But this one is going to stick with him forever.

You can see why here, and he's got lots and lots of company. They've been telling us six months more since February 2003. Get to the end of the timeline and it's all Petraeus/September.

Out out out.

Thursday, August 09, 2007


Just the other day Nettertainment endorsed Rudy Giuliani for the Republican Presidential nomination, which came several weeks after endorsing Mitt Romney for the same. While we look forward to endorsing more of these brilliant GOP candidates for the same nomination, events from today continue to reinforce the first of our endorsements. Mitt really is "the bomb!"

Today at a forum in Iowa when asked by Rachel Griffiths (read her dailykos diary about the event HERE) whether any of his 5 sons is serving in the military and if not, how they intend to, Mitt said the following:

"The good news is that we have a volunteer Army and that's the way we're going to keep it," Romney told some 200 people gathered in an abbey near the Mississippi River that had been converted into a hotel. "My sons are all adults and they've made decisions about their careers and they've chosen not to serve in the military and active duty and I respect their decision in that regard."

He added: "One of the ways my sons are showing support for our nation is helping me get elected because they think I'd be a great president."

Good comparison, Mitt! Your next generation of chickenhawks compared to men and women serving in uniform in Iraq right now. You know, soldiers like these.

Romney's sons sure look healthy enough, and the right age. They even have their own blog for him (service!). But, let's face it, Mitt as Chief Executive would be such a gift to the nation, we should thank him for having others serve in their place, whether fathers or mothers, too. It's kinda like back in the U.S. Civil War, when rich folks could buy their way out of serving:
The Union established a draft with the 1863 Enrolment Act. Section 13 allowed draftees to avoid service by paying a $300 commutation fee or by hiring a substitute. The commutation rule was abandoned the following year, but substitutions continued for the duration of the war.

Mitty's campaign claimed that the quote was taken out of context. Judge for yourself. But was it really smart for them to ask that the whole transcript be considered?
"It’s remarkable how we can show our support for our nation and one of the ways my sons are showing support for our nation is helping to get me elected, because they think I’d be a great president. My son, Josh, bought the family Winnebago and has visited 99 counties, most of them with his three kids and his wife. And I respect that and respect all of those in the way they serve this great country."

He's right about the out-of-context thing. The context, as with his fellow service-dodging Republican George W. Bush, is wealth.

A vote for Mitt is a vote for privilege. And narcissism, on the personal level and, per his own words, as a family trait.

I'm sure the Romneys know all about servants.

I mean, service.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007


The Republicans are clearly better than the Democrats on national security and running wars:

Some 190,000 assault rifles and pistols supplied by the US to Iraqi security forces in 2004 and 2005 have gone missing, according to a report issued here yesterday, and may have fallen into the possession of insurgents.

The embarrassing disclosure, by the watchdog Government Accountability office (GAO), means that the Pentagon does not know what happened to roughly a third of the arms it has provided to train and equip Iraqi forces - an effort whose success is crucial to restoring some semblance of order in the country.

Wow, nice number. And there's more.
In addition, some 135,000 pieces of body armour and 115,000 helmets have also vanished, again perhaps to end up in the hands of insurgents.

So the Cheney Administration has actually handed weapons and armor to those very enemies who kill our brave soldiers? Is this what they mean when they say, "Support the Troops?"

Relax! It was just a "clerical error":
Bookkeeping deficiencies allowed thousands of weapons issued to Iraqi security forces in 2004 and 2005 to then go missing, Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, said yesterday.

Wait. Was that the same General Petraeus who is supposed to prop up the war with his report in September?
But the affair could be even more problematic for the White House, given that, during the two years under scrutiny, the programme was headed by General David Petraeus, now the top US commander in Iraq, in charge of the current troop "surge". President George Bush now lauds his talents on an almost daily basis, as the man who will finally give the US the upper hand against the insurgents.

This should make for some fun during his report to Congress. Does the spin start tomorrow?

Somehow this massive number of guns, 190,000, reminds me of a famous scene from The Matrix:
"Guns. Lots of guns."

Heckuva job.


Monday, August 06, 2007

I'm for: Rudy!

Last month I posted the first in what I promised would be a series of Republican Presidential candidate endorsements. In that one I endorsed former Governor Willard Mitt Romney. I wrote that I would endorse lots of the Republican candidates, because none of them scared me. In response, one of Nettertainment's valued readers wrote:
Given the American voters' uncanny knack for electing Republican candidates regardless of how awful they seem, I really think you should only endorse someone you could live with being in the White House for the next eight years.

I couldn't live with Nixon, I couldn't live with Reagan, I couldn't live with Cheney & Bush Puppet. But I did.

The fact is, people live through all types of regimes. The only question is how much they damage you during their rule. Is it an abstract abridgment of civil rights -- i.e. someone else takes the hit, but my family skates through those years? Or do they come after me, maybe for speaking my mind right here?

I believe that, in a democracy, you get the government you deserve. Maybe the past two Presidential elections were stolen by Mr. Rove and company. It doesn't matter. America needs to vote decidedly if not overwhelmingly against these villains, otherwise we're not really evolved, are we?

The scariest of the chest-thumping, after-shave touting, chickenhawk GOP Presidential candidates is former NYC Mayor Rudolph William Louis "Rudy" Giuliani. Rudy appears tougher than salesmen like Mitt because (a) as a U.S. Attorney he won some tough convictions, (b) New York City, (c) he stood a lot taller than Mister Bush on 9/11 -- even though he made the single worst terrorism protection decision prior to that day, in essence beefing up his travails through bullheaded, egotistical executive judgment.

After the failed 1991 attack on the World Trade Center, Rudy rejected the expert recommendation to put the Emergency Command Center across the East River in Brooklyn, away from the target. Instead, Rudy mandated that it be built right under the World Trade Center itself -- the site of the only attack to date by terrorists on American soil.

Well, at least it made him look more courageous when he escaped the predicted attack there on 9/11/2001.

Rudy's image takes a continuous beating from the very public servants he claimed to be behind, the rescue heroes of the post-9/11 effort. These firemen very credibly claim that Rudy's image build-up after the attack is just a pile of lies:
What Giuliani showed following 9/11 is a disgraceful lack of respect for the fallen and those brothers still searching for them. He valued the money and gold and wanted the [World Trade Center] site cleared before he left office at the end of 2001 more than he valued the lives and memories of those lost."
-- IAFF General President Harold Schaitberger

But what makes Rudy so appealing for a blanket GOP Nettertainment endorsement? Is it his brilliant grasp of the domestic agenda Americans are clamoring to have addressed?
Rudy Giuliani seems to know next to nothing about virtually every national policy issue -- ironically, given his campaign presentation, though not so odd if you consider his actual career in office, he knows more about domestic policy than foreign policy.
Including his tone-deaf healthcare plan?

But Mr. Romney took aim at Mr. Giuliani’s recent proposal to offer people $15,000 in tax deductions to help them buy health insurance. “We have to have our citizens insured, and we’re not going to do that by tax exemptions, because the people that don’t have insurance aren’t paying taxes,” he said.

Mr. Giuliani countered, arguing that the best way to increase the number of people with private insurance was to give them the deduction to encourage them to buy policies. “They’ll have an incentive to own their own health insurance,” he said.

Is it his lack of understanding of crucial current foreign affairs issues?
Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) Thursday repeated his challenge to debate foreign policy with former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and offered Giuliani a "reading assignment" of books examining U.S. policy toward the Middle East...

...He recommended that Giuliani read four books that outline causes for al Qaeda's hatred of the United States, including the 9/11 Commission Report and Chalmers Johnson's 2000 book, "Blowback."
Is it his platform of four more years of nerve-rattling fear-mongering?

Rather than a reasoned discussion — rather than a political campaign advocating your own causes and extolling your own qualifications — you have bypassed all the intermediate steps and moved directly to trying to terrorize the electorate into viewing a vote for a Democrat, not as a reasonable alternative and an inalienable right … but as an act of suicide.

This is not the mere politicizing of Iraq, nor the vague mumbled epithets about Democratic “softness” from a delusional vice president.

This is casualties on a partisan basis — of the naked assertion that Mr. Giuliani’s party knows all and will save those who have voted for it — and to hell with everybody else.

And that he, with no foreign policy experience whatsoever, is somehow the messiah-of-the-moment.

Or is it the company he keeps?

Federal prosecutors have told Bernard B. Kerik, whose nomination as homeland security secretary in 2004 ended in scandal, that he is likely to be charged with several felonies, including tax evasion and conspiracy to commit wiretapping.

Kerik's indictment could set the stage for a courtroom battle that would draw attention to Kerik's extensive business and political dealings with former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, who personally recommended him to President Bush for the Cabinet.

Or those he's choosing to help get him elected?
Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) was Capitol Hill’s invisible man yesterday, lying low even as his ties to the notorious “D.C. Madam” threatened to become a political crisis for the conservative lawmaker...

...The most immediate campaign consequences came not for Vitter, who is up for reelection in 2010, but for GOP presidential front-runner Rudy Giuliani. Vitter’s endorsement of the ex-New York City mayor was intended to lend Giuliani conservative heft, but the Louisianan forced his candidate to dodge scandal yesterday in New Hampshire.
Or maybe it's his personal character. You know, that issue Republicans claim to own, putting Family Values in capital letters.
Giuliani married his second cousin, Regina Perrugi. After 14 years, he divorced her, but got an official "annulment" -- a decree from the Catholic Church that the marriage never really happened (for 14 years!!), thus allowing remarriage in the Church.
Ah, the magic of annulment. Almost a decade and a half...begone!

Then there's his second marriage, with children, where his wife, Donna Hanover, and kids found out in an unexpected way that, after flagrantly cheating on her for years with a staffer among others, he was leaving their family:

Southern Baptist Convention leader Richard Land, for example, described Giuliani's breakup with Hanover as "divorce on steroids." Hanover learned her husband was seeking a divorce from television after he announced the decision at a press conference.

"To publicly humiliate your wife in that way, and your children _ that's rough," said Land. "I think that's going to be an awfully hard sell, even if he weren't pro-choice and pro-gun control." Marital history and family values have been bubbling just below the surface of the Republican campaign for months.

Class all the way!

Then there's the woman he broke up his home for, his third and current wife, Dr. Judith "Don't call me Judi!" Nathan. America currently has an openly prevaricating Chief Executive. Are they ready for a First Lady who lies for her own convenience as well?
Judith Nathan had been married twice, and not once as generally believed, before she wed Rudolph W. Giuliani in 2003, aides on the Giuliani presidential campaign said last night.
She's got a strong sense of direction:
The train of her pale Vera Wang dress was studded with Swarovski crystals; on her dark-red hair perched a Fred Leighton diamond-and-pearl-encrusted tiara.

"There is a reason why she wore that tiara at her wedding: she really does see herself as a princess," says another former Giuliani aide. "Not as a queen. Queen is her goal. Queen is who she wants to be."

It's good that she wants to be Queen. After all, she's good with the help:
If Giuliani's third wife became less popular as time went on, it was in part due to the feeling that she had a private list of Rudy loyalists she wanted fired. "The atmosphere is slippery, but not always venomous," says one. "You just realize there's an agenda there: she's worming her way in so she can push you out." Papir, for instance, was fired five years ago after word got around that he had called Judith a "princess" behind her back. But there are others, two sources say, of whom she patently disapproves. "Kate Anson, his scheduler, and this was the person who was so nice to her—everyone likes her!" says one Giuliani friend, holding up fingers to enumerate those of whom Judith disapproves. "Matt Mahoney [now deputy senior political adviser]—he loves Rudy. And Tony Carbonetti too, that's the other person Judith hates.… He would never be confrontational. His job is Rudy." A shrug. "Anyone supportive of him, close to him—Judith wants them fired. A lot of the senior staff … She just gets furiously jealous and treats them like shit!"

But the best reason for me to back Rudy to win the GOP nomination comes from another member of his family:

Even his daughter is voting against him.


Sunday, August 05, 2007

Lather Despair Repeat

Who is Don Draper?
"Draper? Who knows anything about that guy. No-one’s ever lifted that rock. He could be Batman for all we know."

- Young media buyer Harry Crane
to rising account exec Pete Campbell.

We know he has a Purple Heart in his desk. We know someone recognized him on the commuter train as a war buddy, but addressed him as Dick Whitman. We know he didn't have a nanny growing up, yet has somehow come out refined. We know he's no stranger to working with his hands. We know he is often the smartest guy in the room.

We also know that he's medicating himself to death with nicotine and alcohol, that he's serially cheating on his marriage, that he's emotionally unavailable to anyone in his family, that he doesn't want to talk about his past.

We also know that he feels epic unrest with his perfect and enviable 1960 affluent ad exec/suburban husband & father life, that he's not so sure he wants what he's attained, that he is watching his life pass him by.

Same as it ever was.

You may ask yourself, how did Don get here?

AMC's Mad Men is the best dramatic hour show since The Sopranos, and creator/exec prod Matthew Weiner was on the staff of that show. It's amazing how quickly it's hit the air after that earth-shattering blast of black that ended Tony's reign, but it's again the most innovative drama going, not even bothering to toy with our affections towards the main character as much as David Chase did with his neurotically unsatisfied married professional.

Draper's counterpart, his ingenue secretary, Peggy Olson, who's maybe not quite from the same pool as the others, more easily elicits sympathy, but no one gets away clean. This is John Cheever, the series. This could be Blue Velvet-land, just shed that paranormal Lynchian vibe. This is Douglas Sirk on Benzedrine looking ahead to Lysergic Acid Diethylamide, self-repressed truths and scandalous stolen moments.

While getting praised for bulls-eye period art direction, costuming and hair, and getting suspect for actually portraying a credible vision of period sexism, anti-Semitism and racism, it turns out that Mad Men is, even more than The Sopranos, a gilded vision of hell, and for each of us a hell of our own making.
"Advertising is based on one thing--happiness. It's a billboard on the side of the road that screams the reassurance that whatever you're doing, it's OK. You're OK."

- Don Draper

So Don isn't happy. So maybe Don isn't Don. Maybe something happened in the war. Maybe he was once Dick. Maybe he's half-Jewish, on his mother's side, and that's why he's drawn to department store heiress and owner Rachel Menken. Maybe he was poor and went big-time for the American dream, and actually achieved it, and now he's contemplating suicide by the side of a bridge.

Will Don discover beatniks before he divorces his family and strands his wife circa 1961-62? Will Peggy start going to readings and run into copywriter Paul Kinsey and end up in the sexual/cultural revolution together? Will sec pool queen bee Joan Holloway land a steady man before The Beatles are on Ed Sullivan?

Is Don Draper actually J.R. "Bob" Dobbs?

David Chase gave us the gift of dread, he ended that way and people acted surprised, but Weiner, with topnotch HBO staple director Alan Taylor setting the tone with the first two episodes, is giving us a brand new version, and it is crazy compelling. You can read great analysis of the most current episode, "The Marriage of Figaro" (like Chase's titles, the meanings are loaded), from Alan Sepinwall and Andrew Johnston. These critics are re-watching their screeners up to four times, and it's because like with Chase's show, so much of it is unspoken, so unlike typical TV that ,upon restudy, dangerous layers and threatening revelations of meaning emerge. A deeper plan than might appear on the smooth, stylish, nasty surface.

I desperately don't want to give out spoilers on the episode endings, but they've been uniformally devastating and I've only seen the first three. Just start watching, catch the back ones later, or get them on iTunes. Supposedly the fourth episode is a big one, and I just can't wait.
Advertising is only evil when it advertises evil things.

- David Ogilvy

Yeah, but what's it doing to Don's (Dick's?) soul?