Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Wishes

Is it true, per firedoglake?

The Republican bigwigs aren't afraid of the 2008 elections. No, not at all.

They're terrified of them.

And they have good reason to be.

How terrified are they?
It seems because...their candidates suck!

Agree?

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Chinese Rocks

I'm living on chinese rocks
all my best things are in hock
I'm living on chinese rocks
everything is in the pawn shop
So goes the classic punk rock number written by Dee Dee Ramone with two lines by Richard Hell and stolen for awhile by Johnny Thunders.

Two days ago America's most lethal idiot, Vice President Richard "Dick" Cheney, who's currently on belligerent world tour, threw some barbs at one of America's biggest creditors (much thanks to the Bush Administration itself), China:
"The Chinese understand that a nuclear North Korea would be a threat to their own security," he told the Australian-American Leadership Dialogue, but "other actions by the Chinese government send a different message."

"Last month's anti-satellite test, and China's continued fast-paced military build-up are less constructive, and are not consistent with China's stated goal of a 'peaceful rise,'" Cheney said.

China shot down one of its own orbiting weather satellites in space with a ballistic missile, provoking an international outcry amid fears over satellite security.
Now, I'm no big fan of pretending nothing's happened and playing the patsy, but here's a known hawk and a terminally wrongheaded one at that going around threatening everybody in Asia that he can. While it appeared that the climax might have been a bomb attack that threatened Cheney in Afghanistan (and killed 14 or more human beings), it seems that China may have put the U.S. on notice in other ways:
China dismissed U.S. criticism of its military build-up on Tuesday, saying the world's most populous country was an important force for world peace.
Modest rejection, of course, but with China and their own single ruling Party, it's always about reading between the lines.

So today when there was a massive hit to the U.S. stock markets, due to a massive sell-off in the Shanghai stock market, I just have to wonder how much of an accident was it?

There are Nettertainment readers out there who know far more about the financial markets than I do, so please tell me, am I reading more into this than I should?

Monday, February 26, 2007

Killered Bees

How ironic is it that back in t 1970's there was a killer bees scare that prompted a ridiculous movie and TV movie, and today we're finding out that something is causing our U.S. bee population to decline at an alarming rate:

In 24 states throughout the country, beekeepers have gone through similar shocks as their bees have been disappearing inexplicably at an alarming rate, threatening not only their livelihoods but also the production of numerous crops, including California almonds, one of the nation’s most profitable.

“I have never seen anything like it,” Mr. Bradshaw, 50, said from an almond orchard here beginning to bloom. “Box after box after box are just empty. There’s nobody home.”

The numbers are shocking, 50% bee population drops with one beekeeper interviewed, 70% in Texas. A new term, "colony collapse disorder." The "AIDS of the bee industry."

There's a few different theories in the article about why this is happening, but I couldn't help myself from flashing on current movie masterpiece, Children of Men. The near-future premise of the film is that in 2009 we as a human race were suddenly unable to create more babies. There's no reveal on why this happened, no explanation among those offered that's definitive. The sense is that we've just finally tipped over the line into global human sterility, whether due to pollution or nuclear pollution or ruining the ozone or something we've introduced into our food supply, who knows.

The fascinating thing about the film's thesis is that you never doubt it for a minute. There's barely an iota of suspension of disbelief required to accept the premise. With Greenland's ice shelves crumbling away every few nights on the news, what does our future actually hold?

I honestly wonder if it is too late, if even Al Gore taking the stage twice at the Oscars last night and maybe winning the Nobel Peace Prize at the end of this year (he's nominated) is enough. Maybe Al knows it's too late to make it the same, he's only doing his best in hopes of mitigating the damage. Maybe he knows it's beyond repair.

Maybe the bees do, too.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Wrong

Well, after last night's passionate post on why Babel was sure to win Most Picture, I'm setting down to a taste dessert of crow pie. However, as readers of that post also know, if I have to be wrong, this is the kind of wrong I like.

When Marty Scorsese said that this was the first movie he ever made with a plot, he was dead right, and tonight Hollywood rewarded him for it. The Departed was the only big industry movie nominated for Best Picture, and it had enough of a Scorsese edge to make it more than just boffo box office. Those movies don't win without perceived depth, per BP losses by Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark. So that may have taken it over the top.

Also, while the advertising was anything but overt or gauche, word is that The Departed had the largest Oscar ad campaign budget by far. To top it off, per last year's post about the power of the DVD screener in the Oscar results, unlike with Crash I don't think voters saw The Departed on DVD for the first time. I think they saw it in the theater with everyone else, but then watched the movie a second or third time on their screener, reliving the pleasure of the movie with undiminished returns.

For me the greatest joy of the night was watching Marty come onstage to accept the Best Director award from his friends since 1970, including Steven Spielberg at arguably the top of his artistic game, Francis Coppola back in the directing business, and George Lucas having completed his Star Wars mission.

The four top Hollywood filmmakers of their generation, all independents within the system in their own way, the Mount Rushmore of American cinema.

For tonight, wrong is right.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Most Picture 2007

Here's a prediction rather than an opinion, with no disrespect meant for any of the Best Picture nominees battling out an unusually up-in-the-air Oscar race climaxing tomorrow night. With the caveat that I have yet to see The Queen, they're all good pictures with nothing to be ashamed of. If I had to pick the one I enjoyed the most and am most likely to watch again, it would be The Departed, but that doesn't necessarily a Best Picture make.

Since Best Picture is at heart a production award, it goes by a slightly different ultimate criteria than your personal film scholar might utilize. A year ago when I started this blog, originally in an attempt to explain how Crash beat Brokeback Mountain, I wrote about my pet theory of Most Picture:
That means the movie with the strongest combination of striking visual imagery AND powerful emotion. A movie like Lawrence of Arabia has epic grandeur (visual) and a tragic personal story of how history shapes the man as much as man shapes history (gut emotion).

In a year without a visually overwhelming movie that also pulls out the emotional stops, a smaller movie can win, provided it delivers big emotions. The classic example is Marty, a small-person character piece adapted from a television play that won Best Picture against a slew of lesser, although generally bigger movies -- check if you must. It happened last year with Million Dollar Baby, where the smaller movie beat The Aviator, which didn't provide, perhaps, the right kind of emotion to win.

What's Most Picture 2007?

Having just come back from seeing Babel tonight, on the very eve of the fabled awards day, I think it will be hard to best for Most Picture. Unless Academy voters just didn't see it or it lost too much impact on DVD screener, it has the largest canvas of all the nominees and puts the audience through the ringer. While some more critical viewers have told me they were put off by certain character decisions, finding them contrived or even arbitrary, I'd bet that there's enough real world shooting in the movie to overwhelm those doubts.

Unless when I see it I find The Queen has the hugest canvas or the deepest emotional punch, I don't think it's a winner except by freakily split vote. Letters from Iwo Jima was born a true classic, but the canvas is limited (to excellent effect) and too emotionally Japanese (again, to the film's benefit as a work of art) to be Most Picture.

Little Miss Sunshine is the white horse, which is to say that in a field of dark movies, it hits some dark moment but comes out all smiles. Sadly, I saw a screener rather than having the theatrical experience, so I have no idea if being in a room full of other people bursting out with uncontrollable laughter during the climax would make me consider it Most Picture from the emotional angle. It just seems to me that no matter the size of the "winning is America" theme, Babel's combo of spectacle and affecting drama is the most common form of Most Picture winner. That said, there's a sense that the Academy sometimes chooses a filmmaker or genre that has been growing for awhile and is in its greening period (think Shakespeare in Love as the ultimate Miramax prestige film) and LMS is maybe the most respectable movie in the Sundance-celebrated canon. An important industry movement who's time is due.

Skewing more male, and maybe for that reason alone at a disadvantage over that lil' Miss, The Departed is a serious contender on the Most Great Actors, Most Exciting Hollywood Cinematic Experience, and (aside from the truly awesome final pullback shot in Babel) Most Great Shooting among the bunch. It's a movie-movie with everyone on it clearly showing up ready to put in their best work. There's an argument to be made that its themes of identity and commitment, and in their extreme forms their extreme costs, are somewhat universal. And while it's a little late to be the greening of '70's style filmmaking, it does represent the old masters (Scorsese, Nicholson, Sheen, cinematographer Ballhaus) giving their trial-by-masterpiece blessing to arguably the best of a new generation -- DiCaprio, Damon, Wahlberg, maybe even Farmiga.

But I think those may be intellectual arguments. For all their bad decisions, just on the face of it the characters and interweaving stories of Babel have a timely global heft, with the butterfly here ruining some poor sucker's life over there, bigtime. It's also the greening of the Three Amigos, a mini-movement of three of the most talented filmmakers of their generation, Babel director Innaritu, Children of Men director Cuaron, and Pan's Labyrinth director del Toro. These three committed buddies and refugees from their native Mexico deserve some sort of crown for their stunning tripartite achievement this year.

There's a second potential greening as well, that of the multi-character story that flips effortlessly backwards and forwards in time. Crash has a much more linear timeline, albeit similar in the butterfly effect genre, but with movies now more regularly jumping back on forth in order to make the story more impactful, as in The Prestige and others sneaking into the mainstream, there's an case to be made that Babel represents the greening of that style storytelling as well.

Lastly, while they are first among an ensemble, two of our biggest contemporary movie stars anchor the picture, with Brad Pitt and previous Oscar winner (The Aviator) Cate Blanchett going for the grit and still looking spectacular on the big screen. In a sense their involvement is an extension of that Sundance spirit as well, big Hollywood stars going the down-and-dirty for the right reasons, including ideology and working with admired directors.

So that's my argument and that's my bet. Through the lens of Most Picture, all the arguments why the others (particularly the two other top contenders) might win are rather one dimensional. Most Loved and Most Pleasurable.

We'll see which one gets the Most Votes so tantalizingly soon.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Ballrack Oballma

Why did it take until February 22, 2007 for someone to call bullshit on Dick Cheney like this?

Obama, speaking at a massive outdoor rally in Austin, Texas, said British Prime Minister Tony Blair's decision this week to withdraw 1,600 troops is a recognition that Iraq's problems can't be solved militarily.

"Now if Tony Blair can understand that, than why can't George Bush and Dick Cheney understand that?" Obama asked thousands of supporters who gathered in the rain to hear him. "In fact, Dick Cheney said this is all part of the plan (and) it was a good thing that Tony Blair was withdrawing, even as the administration is preparing to put 20,000 more of our young men and women in.

"Now, keep in mind, this is the same guy that said we'd be greeted as liberators, the same guy that said that we're in the last throes. I'm sure he forecast sun today," Obama said to laughter from supporters holding campaign signs over the heads to keep dry. "When Dick Cheney says it's a good thing, you know that you've probably got some big problems."


I have to say I've been an Obama doubter at times, not the quality of the man but the depth of governmental experience.

Well, to paraphrase Stephen Colbert, cajones do count for something. Especially smart cajones, especially these days.

With this and his smackdown back at Australian Prime Minister John Howard, it looks like Obama is anything but fearful of the far right. And a good thing, per Talking Points Memo reader LJ, who writes about the inevitable "GOP bitch slap" and which candidate seems most likely to stand up to it:
When the Australian Prime Minister said that Al Qaeda wants Obama to win, Obama responded that Howard needs to send another 20,000 Australians to the war or else he's just spewing empty rhetoric. He didn't whine about being attacked. Howard's attack seems rather Cheney-esque and I don't think he succeeded in making Obama look weak.
He has more to say specifically about Edwards and Clinton, and while you might not agree with him on his two negative examples, there's no question that when John Kerry was Swiftboated, he needed to slap back, hard, and just come out and call Bush a "deserter".

Whether or not the language would have been measured, it would have shuffled the deck and thrown the cable news debates into haywire mode.

And the rest of us would have known he had balls.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Mitt Feeling

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney has movie star looks, but right at the start of his campaign for the GOP Presidential nomination, he's already flip-flopping his lines.

It's not easy being a politician, successful or otherwise. Just this week we had Hollywood mogul David Geffen asserting the "Everybody in politics lies." Aren't we grown up enough to know it? Or are certain lies worth examining to know more about the character of whichever liar we hope to elect?

Romney has made the first television ad buy of the campaign, and his ad shrewdly opens with his wife's heartfelt endorsement before some sort of crowd. She's got a touch of the movie star about her as well, and he's just as wise to close the ad with images of the two campaigning together. In a sense, the "plot" of the ad is proud wife introduces dynamic husband who goes out into the world alone to make his case, and reunites with her at the end to leave a building, begin the race.

The middle of the ad is actually the least convincing. Whether staged or not, the campaign speech seems like a laundry list of safe, familiar GOP bromides. Taxes are too high. (Estate taxes?) The government spends too much money. (Um, you're talking about your party's government.) The world is a scarier place. (Than during Communism? Nazism?) Then he speaks of taking action, and of his faith in the American people. This last sentiment sounding positively Democratic in its expression. Compared to Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) he may seem like fresh air. Next to ex-Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, will he seem tough?

Both of his front runner opponents are doing their share of position flopping. There are whole YouTube featurettes about McCain's position flips, and Rudy has already flipped on the assault weapons ban and appears somewhere in mid-flop on abortion rights. GOP Presidential candidates usually don't get tagged for position changes as stickily as the Dems. Kind of a multiple mulligan, country club rule. Just act tough, give us the image of strong daddy whether earned or not, and we'll assume you're no flip-flopper, not like those "Liberal" guys.

So given hypocrisy as a pillar of elected life, is the abortion issue going to be one for which Romney's admitted change of position actually costs him votes?

As a strategy for winning his Party's nomination, it's hard to fault Mitt. Polling must certainly confirm that the number of Anti-Choice Republicans kicks ass on the reproductively moderate constituents. He wouldn't have a shot at all as a believer in abortion rights, so even if he loses votes from those who suspicious of his change, he'll probably net out ahead with those who take him at his word. His latest word.

But in the general election, should Romney secure the nomination, will he be hoisted on the petard of his position in support of a woman's right to control her own body, professed so emphatically in this clip of him appealing to the good people of the overwhelmingly Pro-Choice State of Massachusetts during the 2002 Gubernatorial debate?

Ah, but there's already doubts of authenticity from the right. The notion here is that the Pro-Choice turn was the opportunistic lunge, but that this is the real Mitt. Some rationalize this as a flip but not a flop, that maybe a politician (okay, a Republican politician) has to actually take a third position (or is it fourth?) to get the full moniker.

It's ugly out there.

To my mind, the biggest crimes that flip-flopping engender are sanctimoniousness and sloughing of responsibility. Based on reading the transcript of his interview by ABC's George Stephanopoulis, I'm not seeing sanctimoniousness as a problem. He just gets into the responso-slough when he talks about his lack of power as President to make his newly trumpeted Anti-Choice position a factor in changing American law, not will he consider what punishments he would advocate to punish outlaw gynoecologists. He essentially leaves it a state's rights issue and looks for his mully.

Compare to over on the Dem side, when frontrunner Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) is at pains not to lay claim that her vote in favor of giving El Presidente George Bush carte blanche to invade Iraq was a mistake, even if her party may get ding her for refusing to flop.

I guess the flip-flop is just a job hazard for Presidential candidates. My father always used to say that you had to be a little bit crazy to truly want to be President.

Yes...and supple, too.


Crossposted to The Daily Reel.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Dick Hunting

What is it about the name "Dick" that 's been so weirdly overdetermined when applied to Presidents, i.e. Nixon and Cheney, who started his career working in the former's administration. It's just too perfect, our two most secretive and authoritarian Presidents, and also the most sociopathically vicious and dishonest. I've known a couple of terrific, funny, honest Dick's in my life. Why were these two...such dicks?

Regardless of whether he holds the throne or is the power behind it, the Dick behind as it were, the prosecutional evidence and arguments in the Scooter Libby trial make it clear, whether or not the jury actually convicts him of perjury, lays out a clear timeline whereby Libby covered up for Cheney's original direction, which was clearly to ruthlessly smear Joseph Wilson over his revealing that Cheney's intended casus belli for our invasion of Iraq, that Saddam Hussein tried to buy yellowcake uranium from a source in Niger, was an absolute lie.

Why did Cheney target Wilson so wrecklessly?

It must have been his plan all along.

His plan that was being discredited, so he sent out his henchman to do his dirty smear for him. Anything to invade, as he had planned since before gaining control of the Presidency. Dick was behind. It all.

Check out this videoblog analysis of the end of the courtroom phase and beginning of the jury phase by Jame Hamsher and Marcy Wheeler at firedoglake. Federal Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald is clearly building a case against Cheney the way he did it against Chicago mob bosses -- one verdict at a time. Scooter falls, the big man is next.

BAGnewsNotes has an interesting (as always) photo and analysis, of Cheney arriving in Japan and being greeted by two rows of riflemen at attention and...nobody. Isolated. Is everybody sensing it now? Is he now politically...radioactive?

As Matt Stoller reminds us at MyDD:
The key here is Dick Cheney, who is unremorseful that he essentially defrauded the American public into a war of choice that let Al Qaeda get stronger. In fact, Cheney today said that Speaker Pelosi's Iraq plan would 'validate Al Qaeda'.
There's no similar provision in the Constitution for impeaching a Vice President. It's court action or nothing. If (and this is always a big if) Libby is convicted, it could take two more years -- to the end of his term -- that Cheney gets convicted. Undoubtedly, this Dick would get a GOP Presidential Pardon just like the last one, but the very trial might force an intra-party revolt and Mr. Always Wrong might be forced to resign his own Administration.

For as Jane points out that Fitzgerald reminds us, here's the emergent overarching narrative for what really happened when this madman engineered their dirty, disastrous war:

1. The administration lied us into war and tried to abuse its power to punish the whistleblower who told the American public the truth.

2. Scooter is the firewall to Shooter.

3. Dick Cheney, Scooter Libby and other members of the administration conspired to keep federal investigators from uncovering their crimes.

4. The media was complicit in spreading administration propaganda rather than doing investigative journalism, and are now helping to set the table for a pardon.

5. The journalistic standards that have been exposed in the case (witness Tim Russert, Judy Miller, Andrea Mitchell, Robert Novak and others) are reprehensible, and have undermined the public trust in the media.

6. The degree to which this story about the lies that lead to war has been ignored by the media (relative to the feeding frenzy over a Clinton blowjob) left a huge opening that the blogs have filled.

God bless America. Until that Dick is fully removed, we'll need all the help we can get.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Fever History

The time draws nigh, and no website does a classier or more interesting job of presenting and parsing all the key anticipations and conundrums of any pending Academy Awards ceremony than Sasha Stone's Oscarwatch.

She's been building for several years now and this year presentation and content are at their peak. This year's completely unpredictable Best Picture race, for example, is very well covered, with the week-to-week swaying of conventional wisdom from Little Miss Sunshine to The Departed to Babel to...all the way back again?

The left gutter covers the nominees, the right gutter covers all the awards leading up, and the user is the winner. Sadly, Sasha has been threatened by the Academy if she does not change the name, which could cost her the entire $20,000+/year or so she's earning in ad revenues for herself and her child. Seems a bit grinchy, no?

After all, Sasha and Oscarwatch actually increase interest in the awards show itself. There's no conceivable way to imagine she'd hurt ratings, not if the site is fueling discussion over the more cliffhanger contests.

And her elegant presentation enhances the Oscar brand itself. From today, here's an amateur editor's run of all the Best Picture movie posters, in chronological order from 1927 (Wings) to last year (2006 - Crash). Airplanes to cars. Right on, Oscar.

I never published a 10 Best of 2006 list, so in lieu and after reviewing the poster collection, how about a 10 Best Best Picture (1927-2006) list?

There's a bit of controversy over which Best Pic winners deserved it and which don't hold up after history, but I actually think that on balance it's a pretty good list of movies worth seeing. So this list isn't really meant to be the "best" anything; instead I just thought which of the movies on that hallowed list that turned out to be, rather than simply ravishing scale or heart-rending sentiment, the hardest for me to turn off when they come on:

  1. The Godfather (1972)
  2. Casablanca (1943)
  3. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
  4. The Deer Hunter (1978)
  5. The Sting (1973)
  6. The Last Emperor (1987 - particularly the 219 minute director's cut, riveting)
  7. The Godfather Part II (1974)
  8. The French Connection (1971)
  9. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
  10. Unforgiven (1992)
Purely subjective, of course, plenty of other eminently rewatchable pictures. I'm just sayin'.

Funny how half of the flicks on the list are from the 1970's. And five of them are built expressly around the theme of violence.

I guess that all being said, here's to Marty having the Best night.

Monday, February 19, 2007

ABC

One of the favorite phrases we enjoy bandying about at the company I'm now working is courtesy of David Mamet and his infamous Glengarry Glen Ross. In the play and movie, all about shady real estate salesmen under ungodly pressure to sell, sell, sell!, the key to life is "A.B.C. Always Be Closing!"

So it's with exquisite pleasure (and a fair warning re: language) that I'm able to link to Glen & Gary & Glen & Ross. Brought to you by the makers of 10 Things I Hate About Commandments, but they've really hit a new level.

**** fucking stars, indeed.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

The Office

Today we celebrate the premier job position to hold in America, although I'm sure CEO of Exxon ranks up there. Historically unequaled resources at your disposal, the world's largest military force to command, and you can make the news every day of each four year term.

Mt. Rushmore may be the largest piece of kitsch art ever created, but it's also the grandest. The theme, that certain Presidents transcend partisanship into monumental granite could seem quaint in our time but instead somehow inspires awe. Something to live up to. A challenge to match.

Father of our country. Author of our Constitution. Creator of our National Park System. Winner of our Civil War.

#'s 1, 3, 26 & 16.

I'll admit it, I'm a sucker for that big carved-up rock. I've never been to Rushmore but have always wanted to go. When I was a kid our family did a one month drive all around the West and Southwest and although I begged, my parents couldn't move South Dakota onto our path -- the closest we got was mid-southern Wyoming.

Here's a Web-era only treat. For your visual wonderfulness, a variety of Mt. Rushmore photos, pro to tourist:

- The longest long shot.

- Low angle weirdness.

- Big awesome shot.

- Nominal classic.

- Up on Abe's nose.

Ah...ahh...achooooooooooooooooo...!

Friday, February 16, 2007

Crybabies

Is the Republican party on the verge of a complete mental breakdown?

Psychologists tell us of the return of the repressed "whereby what has been repressed -- though never abolished by repression -- tends to reappear, and succeeds in doing so in a distorted fashion in the form of a compromise between the defense and the wish."

With the Republicans attempting to stifle public debate, either by diversion or threat, on our disastrous Iraq War, one has to wonder how their repression with ultimately mutate their very features, or when they might simply explode and be lost.

Or maybe it's all starting to come out now. Here's three crybabies, three GOP leaders (past and present) who have, within the past two months, let the tears loose in public:

- House Minority Leader, Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) is a multiple crybaby, with two recent breakdowns to cite, both times during debates on his beloved War, or maybe it's the toilet-bowl circling of his beloved President and Party as they cling to their failures like an ant on a swirling turd. They're going down the drain anyway, maybe they think it's a boat.

In one instance Boehler wept while making his first statement as -- finally! -- debate began in the House. That open debate on the most serious issue facing our nation would make him cry -- well, I'd understand if they were tears of relief after four years of lies and stonewalling. But they weren't; maybe they were tears for virginity lost.

He second recent breakdown came today, reading a letter from the husband of a former Congressional aide who was killed in Fallujah. Was he crying over the possibility that open and democratic House debate might compound this woman's grief; or was it somehow, in a way Boehner will need much therapy to acknowledge, over his own responsibility for sending this soldier into Bush/Cheney's lethal folly, his guilt for his role in making her a widow?

The question is already being asked -- is Boehner mentally unstable?

- The father of our current Presidente got lots of ink for his breakdown on December 5th, some grand transference of his horror over having unleashed his hellspawn seed to run our country into the ground and ruin the much guarded family reputation once and for all.

Ex-President George Herbert Walker Bush claimed it was over preferred son Jeb's earlier electoral defeat in a Florida governor race (the same night he should have been celebrating his firstborn's gubernatorial victory in Texas), but who's zooming who? Just the repressed repressing himself, and now look what comes out, and in public, how humiliating.

- Then there's El Presidente himself. Was it a rehearsed grab for authenticity or the return of his very own deeply, oh so perversely deeply, repressed thoughts and emotions? His repressed decency?

Back in mid-January he's photographed with the Georgie-Porgie tear-streaked face, schoolboy in disgrace, at a medal ceremony for a deceased marine he put in harm's way with his arrogance, falsifications and altogether rancid judgement.

Unnervingly enough, our allies ask, Do you think less of George W. Bush for crying in public?"

Now I know what some of you are thinking. You think maybe I'm a jerk for belittling the emotions overflowing from these men. Sure, I tear up, at the end of a moving novel or even reality t.v. show. Aren't I one of those post-80's, not-quite-metro, sensitive men who can show something other than anger when my feelings rush in?

I guess for me it all goes back to a vicious Republican smear from my childhood.

In 1972, Sen. Edmund S. Muskie (D-ME) was running in the Democratic primary and was polling as the strongest possible candidate to unseat GOP President Richard Milhous Nixon. Nixon's Committee to Re-Elect the President (called by its acronym -- I kid you not -- "CREEP") forged a letter claiming that Muskie had referred to Canadian-related citizens living in his state by the repugnant epithet, "Canucks."

On the eve of the New Hampshire primary, Nixon's team planted this fake letter in the influential conservative newspaper, the Manchester Union Leader, and the accompanying article includes an impugning comment smearing Muskie's wife, Jane.

Muskie responded with an open-air press appearance, in which he claims his voice cracked with anger over the hit at his wife, while reporters on the scene described it as crying. Muskie subsequently won the primary but by a much smaller margin than predicted, lost his great momentum, and eventually the GOP got to run against the candidate they had hoped to from day one, Sen. George McGovern (D-WI). McGovern lost to Nixon in a landslide.

Muskie was perceived as unmanly for his tears. Maybe that was a different time, when men really weren't expected to ever cry their entire lives, but what's the justice in letting W. or Boehner carry on the pretense of machismo when they're crying in public?

One can only hope that if the GOP with their past lies is responsible for ruining a good man's career, gets hit with the karma kickback that their biggest lie parade of all might lead to a total breakdown in the eyes of the electorate.

To which I could only respond, "Boo-to-the-hoo-hoo-hoo."

Thursday, February 15, 2007

House with a View

Speaker Nancy Pelosi's brand new blog features plenty of YouTube clips of our elected Democratic official in action, on the floor of the House of Representatives, every day. It's flowering before our eyes, Internet video giving us revolutionary new access to our government, at a crucial moment in the development of our democracy.

The Speaker's blog is iconically named The Gavel, and while her direct address "Welcome" heralds a milestone in federal communication, more striking (and posted prior) is her intro, "No More Blank Checks," to the debate on the House Resolution condemning President Bush's latest "surge" escalation in Iraq.

Pelosi hardly hogs the stage, however, featuring abundant and clearly organized clips of various House Democrat floor speeches. Now, for some people (okay most of us it) might be more fun to listen to termites chewing through a basement, but because the nation is at such a turning point, the last election's mandate for change of military foreign policy so clear, it's interesting to see which of our local Representatives living there in D.C. have enough fire in the belly to move the debate and, ahead when the funding votes follow the resolution stage, makes the peoples' will a reality.

Based on the blogospheric response, Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-PA) is the rock star of the bunch, giving a precise yet passionate speech based on his experience as a Captain of the 82nd Airborne Division in Iraq. "Walking in my own combat boots, I saw first hand this Adminstration's policy failure in Iraq." An unimpeachable voice.

Murphy is one of the freshmen "Fightin' Dems who came back from Iraq and ran for office last November, but the older vets get some action as well.

Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), a Korean War vet, brings up how General McArthur arrogantly screwed up that war, and reminds the chamber of his proposal to reinstate the draft, see how complacent the American people are once they have some skin in the game. Vietnam vet Rep. John Tanner (D-TN) gets in an argument that as Iraq is a theocratic democracy, we should get out of thinking that even if we were to be successful there, we wouldn't be spreading a true vision of democracy anyway. His line about Western-style separation of church and state harkens back to a simpler era, pre-January 20, 2001: "When people don't go to the same church, they nonetheless get together Monday through Friday and build a civil society."

There's no denying that such a legislative videoblog can be a great tool for promoting Party talent and is by nature a partisan utility. It's to Pelosi's great credit that while the views expressed are clearly the Leadership's agenda, it is for the most part unadorned with distracting graphics or negative broadsides. Per how she opens her intro speech to the War debate, she appreciates the solemnity of the occasion, of the challenge facing our country, and she does no disgrace to the office.

Like firedoglake's Libby Trial coverage, which I wrote about last week and The New York Times caught up to yesterday, The Gavel is the type of window concerned Americans have been clamoring for, another evolution of the journalism liberation movement begun in frustration by the political blogs.

Maybe back in the day we trust Cronkite and Brinkley as our half hour daily filter on all that history in the making, but these days we have an endless supply of cable network news coverage and it feels less reliable than ever. Beyond whatever blatant or subtle news coverage partisanship that may be polluting the media landscape, professional journalism seems have gotten too pro, too bought in, a far cry from the independent press the Founders had in mind.

We've got regular access now, daily windows on our government.

Use 'em or lose 'em.


Crossposted to The Daily Reel.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Hero's Journey

Longtime readers of Nettertainment, and by that I mean since around the beginning a year ago March, may recall the love affair I began back then with Season 2 of the reality series, Beauty and the Geek. While I could never imagine that Season 3 could hope to top the personal-growth-through-triumph of winning couple Josh and Cheryl, tonight's Season Finale hit a new high in reality television resolution nirvana.

The main plot of any reality t.v. contest is to find out who wins "the money," in this case $250,000 to split, presumably before taxes. The journey of this year's winning team, Scooter (Harvard grad) and Megan (Playboy model), was lovely and satisfying in it's own right, but it had been overshadowed by the budding romance of Nate (lead singer of a Star Wars Band and current Harvard student) and Jennylee (U.F.C. Ring Girl).

That subplot got sidelined when Jennylee and her teammate, Niels (1600 on his SATs), lost last week's Elimination Room face-off to Nate and his much disliked, highly competitive partner, Cecille (bikini model). Nate busted into Jennylee's farewell interview to kiss her goodbye one last time, shattering precedent and making their embrace the end shot rather than the usual losing couple's last hug. Not so great a capper for Niels' to get cut out of the last of his fifteen minutes, but it was more candidly romantic than any Bachelor finale in memory.

What the whole dynamic set up was the emergence of two key subplots for the finale. The first, the emergence of Cecille (often referred to as Cece) as a true villain. The second, and ultimately most powerful plot of all, was the coalescence of "The Hero's Journey" in the final choices made by Nate.

From the early episodes, when Cece cliqued-up the blond Beauties to oust (in the first three episodes) all the brunettes, through her brazen public humiliations of competing team members (like making fun of Niels' tears in sending his dear buddy, Nate, to an Elimination Room showdown), and finally her wildly inappropriate and barely comprehensible boast right in the Room just after beating Jennylee and Niels, she's grown more and more hateful.

Watching her tonight, I considered that she might be right about something somewhere in her cynical, self-centered world. Maybe the emotion the show attempts to produce (so often successfully), an upsurge of idealism realized through unlikely friendships, isn't as life-changing as each week's departing couple usually asserts, tearfully. Once the mansion and the cameras and the comrades are gone, do they sink back into their previous habits and ruts like nothing ever happened?

The genius of the format and what proves Cece tragically wrong is that you really do see personal transformations and milestone friendships, both between many of the couples and with certain gender buds as well. The Geeks this time were completely together -- maybe a spazz or two, but not a bad apple in the bunch.

For all her emotional shortcomings, Cece was a winner. She may be shallow but she isn't stupid, and was undefeated answering questions in the Elimination Room. Nate started off hiding behind a huge bushy red beard, all dancing gnome-like, but when the week with the physical makeovers came, and he shaved his beard and got a great haircut, he turned into a catch. And Jennylee was already getting into him from when he did the best stand-up comedy act.

Then came the humongous twist.

The past two deciders revolved around how much you'd come to know your partner. Season One had regular questions to answer about your partner's life, history, self. Season Two played more like The Newlywed Game, where the two Beauties were asked questions about themselves and their Geeks came back in to figure out how their mate had answered.

Tonight they brought back all the season's eliminated cast members, and had them vote, individually, on which team changed the most, hence putting the power to award the money in that team's hands.

Everyone but Cece were happy to see each other again. Nate was especially to get to see Jennylee again so soon, but Cece just looked at it as twenty-four hours of forced politicking and ass-kissing. And on a lot of reality shows, she'd be right. But with this move the show's producers proven that what they advertise as their central thesis was true, a balls-out shot at proving that the value of the experience would, as every good reality show aspires, be more valuable than the cash award.

Cece basically went through the first hours, the eve of the decision, failing to make a connection with the majority of her castmates, failing to even try in most cases, her contempt like a locket around her neck. Then came her bedside review of the situation to Nate, with her hateful take on human relationships as nothing more than power trips, denying the possibility of change, most blindly and most suicidally when Nate put himself out there to her and finally said, "Well, I've been saying I'm changed."

"Oh, Nate," she stabbed back, her eyes revealing their true silver, and denied him, her teammate, her champion, even this.

It clearly took Nate over the edge. Cece's inappropriate comment at the end of the previous episode had been a carelessly flopped slight to Nate's sweetheart, Jennylee, and now Nate had a chance to garner satisfaction for the affront without being accused of betraying his teammate. In an unmistakable fashion, she had betrayed him.

So the next morning Nate went to all the Geeks to whom he was their unassuming and beloved leader, and the losing blonds (he knew how the brunettes would vote) and basically made the case for each and every one of them voting against Cece and him. He felt so strongly, so morally, that Cece winning would send the wrong message, that even though he appreciated the personal support, he didn't think "it will make the world a better place" if he and Cece won.

Reality TV winners are often gracious to their vanquished, having formed what appear to be heartfelt camaraderies, but never in the history of any reality television I've ever heard about has a favorite turned down the final prize. Here Nate was releasing his friends from their obligations, and when the final vote came at the base of the grand staircase; Cece and Nate on the left, Megan and Scooter on the right; each judging couple entered pair-by-pair (in reverse order of defeat so the ones you knew best went earliest) and after verbalizing their reasoning and decision, took a place up the staircase behind the couple they supported.

Jennylee and Niels were first, and she had no hesitation in voting for Nate. He shot her a practically Gary Cooper smile, and she took her place firmly, one step up standing behind her man. That two shot of her arriving in place sealed the in-show chapter of their romance, denouement.

Starting with Niels, who himself seems a completely different man, for the next six votes Scooter and Megan were running the table. Then the paralyzingly dweeby Matt (M.I.T. graduate) voted for Cece since she was the only woman in the house to really talk to him, way back when (although in the clips she's on a bed with him calling Matt "my little gerbil") and maybe he got a little coached to keep things interesting. He takes his place next to Jennylee, behind Cece, and then another of the brunettes comes in (Sheree, former Hooters waitress) and deliriously pours the last bucket of water on the wicked witch.

Nate just happy to be with Jennylee, thinks justice was done and all good karma will flow from this, maybe even Cece eventually taking to heart what everyone had been trying to get through to her about kindness all series long, and in the preview for next week's recap there's a glimpse of Jennylee and Nate joyously reuniting. All good things will come to the now movie-star charismatic Nate, and to Jennylee who's not as dumb as her job title and has a fun little devil, a cute little fire in her eyes and her smile.

Quite properly, the show closed with the winning couple, at first polar opposite but now a loving pair, with those genuine glances and gazes at each other, like the camera is nice but it's not as important as their free and mutual support, Megan revealed as a pretty girl with a great attitude and hidden grit, and Scooter gone from bearded nerd repulsar (Megan: "I was scared of him, I was terrified to look at him.") to resort boyfriend and husband/dad material.

They had been under the radar for so long, but she flowered by handily (two weeks ago) building the best doghouse and then (last week) took down a sheep with her bare hands (in a skimpy black cowgirl hotpants outfit). Much more than just a Playboy model, and like genius analyzer Scooter she was always humble, through the final interviews, never expecting to win but with a flowering of healthy confidence along the way.

The success of the season and the finale was that while the main plot was gently compelling, Nate's journey was just spectacular. So many of our most beloved movies are about losers who find redemption without winning the obvious prize, but earning something deeper, dearer; in those last few moments realizing what will be our eternal respect. Think of the original Rocky, the one where you cared the most about him. Or the journey of the fractured family in Little Miss Sunshine. So Nate earned the bigger prize; his name will be remembered long after the winning couple. By, uh, those of us who remember anything about the reality shows we get into.

Nate's heroic journey is made all the more epic as it is the fulfillment of the animating ethos of his band's inspiration. George Lucas based the entire story architecture of his first Star Wars film on the writings of Joseph Campbell, author of The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Having grown up on Lucas' landmark dramatization of Campbell's teachings, Nate has reached the final step of the hero's journey:
Freedom to Live
Mastery leads to freedom from the fear of death, which in turn is the freedom to live. This is sometimes referred to as living in the moment, neither anticipating the future nor regretting the past.

Zen enough for you?

Nate, the hero of Beauty and the Geek's third season in existence winds up proving himself more than just any old geek; through a unique and determined personal sacrifice, he made himself a real-life Luke Skywalker.

A reality t.v. hero for the ages.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Unpatriotic

This disgusts me:
We are writing to urge you not to debate the Democratic Iraq resolution on their terms, but rather on ours.

Democrats want to force us to focus on defending the surge, making the case that it will work and explaining why the President's new Iraq policy is different from prior efforts and therefore justified.

We urge you to instead broaden the debate to the threat posed to Americans, the world, and all "unbelievers" by radical Islamists. We would further urge you to join us in educating the American people about the views of radical Islamists and the consequences of not defeating radical Islam in Iraq.

The debate should not be about the surge or its details. This debate should not even be about the Iraq war to date, mistakes that have been made, or whether we can, or cannot, win militarily. If we let Democrats force us into a debate on the surge or the current situation in Iraq, we lose.

That's the letter the House Republican leaders gave to their colleagues to tell them how to try and defeat the resolution against President Bush-Cheney's escalation or "surge" tactic for prolonging the Iraq War until the next elected President has to take the fall.

"If we let Democrats force us into a debate on the surge or the current situation in Iraq, we lose." Statesmanlike, eh?

In other words, they can't have a fair and honest debate about the substantive merits of the country's most crucial issue facing our country today, because the entire GOP party would lose on the merits of the arguments against their Executive leaders. They would lose on substance, hence they willfully generate smoke.

This strikes me as scoundrelism (look it up) of the most treasonous kind. They're playing politics with American lives, both those of our self-sacrificing soldiers and perhaps those of our entire nation, should escalation lead to further blowback, as it consistently has in the past. These are matters to be considered soberly, with the good of the nation -- not the good of the GOP Party -- tantamount in mind.

It's downright un-American.

Oh, and if there were any justice, this man would be either in a padded cell or the docket for treason.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Naps = Life

How about this for your inner Homer Simpson:
The study of more than 23,000 Greek adults -- the biggest and best examination of the subject to date -- found that those who regularly took a midday siesta were more than 30 percent less likely to die of heart disease.

Now that's my kind of science!

With two rambunctious boys and a beloved wife and mother who seeks nothing more than relief from the torpor of endless child-rearing on the weekends when I'm not babysitting a monitor and telephone, it's extremely hard for me to secure even an hour on Saturday or Sunday to cash out in the middle of the day, when my body screams bloody murder for a sweet siesta.

Somehow I don't think this article will convince her...zzzzzzzzz...

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Chaos Theory

Recently I started reading again, as in not just Internet and magazines but always having a book going and reading at least a chapter or two of it a day. There's a slew of bad reasons why I'd slacked off from something for which I've often been voracious, but what seems to have brought me back is the violence.

Okay, so do I blame the malingering zeitgeist of the Iraq War or just my drive to a pulse rate sufficient to impel page-turning? I just finished E.L. Doctorow's The March, which follows a diverse number of interweaving characters through General William Tecumseh Sherman's Confederacy-breaking Civil War roll through Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina.

The opening scene, where the white plantation owner and his family flee in advance of the Union Army, leaving behind the suddenly freed slaves including a character who will become very important to the story, set a tremendous sense of vision and place. And while the rolling city, the assault and support machine that is Sherman's masterpiece, is a feat of military organization, what continually strikes back at the reader is the sense of chaos that war by its nature engenders. Indeed, for a general like Sherman, to be the mechanism of that chaos is the intent -- to bring chaos and disarray by those means untenable losses onto one's enemy -- of the practice of war.

But maybe it's the Iraq War experience shading the discussion or lifting the veils; with the massive chaos ignited by the Bush Administration's De-Baathification from their side and the Abu Ghraib tortures, the squad indicted for rape and murder, the wedding airbombed by accident, the unleashing of daily deathcounts for Shia and Sunni; war isn't just hell, it's not meant to be controllable. Not 100%

I read The March on the heels of Cormac McCarthy's No Country for Old Men, which is another very violent novel, albeit a Southwest U.S. drug war rather than military conflict. Bloodsplattered motel room carpets (and the next Coen Bros movie). I've moved onto Going After Cacciato by Tim O'Brien, listed as maybe the very best Vietnam War novel. Cacciato tells his squad he's walking to Paris and when he sets off they chase after him. A long long ways.

More war; more chaos.

It's been on my mind, how do men (and these days women) live in constant camping, constant moving, constant stripping away of any creature comforts in pursuit of a death whether theirs or their enemy's, and the wild propensity for something to go wrong, for more and worse hurt.

I've been watching HBO's Rome, where lives are taken weekly, by intent or by someone's hair-trigger rage. I was mesmerized by Clint Eastwood's Letters from Iwo Jima, a desaturated black and white world illuminated by flashes of flesh tones in the explosions, every single artillery blast an agent of suffering and chaos, reordering plans in the burst of a second.

Call me a glutton for punishment, that I have Battered Entertainment Consumer Syndrome. I feed it with the squad vs. Cylon skirmishes of Battlestar Galactica, the dystopian chaos chase of Children of Men, sudden death by Idi Amin's fiat in The Last King of Scotland, the revulsive history of Nanking.

Maybe it's a no-brainer and now four years into our shanda we realize War is Chaos. Do I really have to keep this all too relevant fact on my aesthetic-appreciation front burner until the U.S. has pulled out? I can't imagine anyone believing, even with this new bullshit sales job on an Iran War, that our actions are capable of being antiseptically focused enough, that there will be no collateral damage, or an "acceptable" amount.

Yep, I'm a good DooBee who's already standing up and saying it. I could switch to a more mindless curriculum, or at least one that's less bloody and maybe even lighthearted.

Sure.

But all I can think of is how much I want James Ellroy to finally publish the third volume in his staggeringly violent American Underworld Trilogy so I can lay my greedy eyes on his sweet chaos-a-go-go.

As the man once unwittingly said:
Bring it on.

Little Insights

There's a nice piece on great performers of noted 2006 movie performances in the Sunday New York Times. The page is here with the photo gallery link, but the text is less compelling than a ten minute video of seven actors talking about "What Was the First Movies That Had a Profound Impact on You?" by Jake Paltrow, a couple minutes each of Cate Blanchett, Brad Pitt, Helen Mirren, Abbie Cornish, Ken Watanabe, Penelope Cruz and Leonardo DiCaprio.

Two things make the actor reminiscences interesting.

For one, they generally reveal good taste. Pitt with Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Mirren with L'Avventura, Watanabe with The Deer Hunter, Cruz with Billy Wilder, DiCaprio with the original King Kong.

What makes it even more interesting are the tidbit windows into when they weren't superstars and there were no glimmer of nominations and statuettes, but when they were just like us, trying to figure it out.

So Cate Blanchett knocks the doors open with casual revelation of her father's death in her early childhood, Pitt his family financial and emotional shortcomings, Mirren growing up without television and very sparse moviegoing, Cruz getting hooked via Betamax.

The unadorned b&w style serves the pieces well, which can be viewed by individual actor or as a single show. Run together the silences between the interview over blackouts and titles have an elegiac quality, this mortal coil, a double time-capsule already loosened from the now into history.

Like monuments cast into the wind.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Awards

The results of the A.H.O.Y 2006 user poll is in.

Here are your Top 40 Assholes of the Year.

Endlessly fascinating to read...guess who made #1...again...

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Political Videoblogging Comes of Age

There will be many advances in production values ahead, but with Jane Hamsher and Swopa on releasing a U.S. vs. Scooter Libby update at the end of each trial day, for the first time there's a videoblog that's actually more essential on a political topic than any written blog out there.

I'm someone who actually has an interest in the Libby trial, because it seems that the case findings over Libby's key role in the Bush Administration "outing" one of our very own C.I.A. agents, will lead straight into the Vice President's office. You have to admit, it'll be a fearsome media day if the Defense chooses to put Dick Cheney on the witness stand.

However, I'm also someone who doesn't have the time or inclination to read trial transcripts. I want a summary of the day's events by a trusted source, and based on how their reports are borne out by the mainstream media stories, albeit sometimes watered down, Hamsher and Swopa are trustable, and thanks to PoliticsTV, they're accessible.

As Co-Founder of firedoglake and regular Contributor to Huffington Post, Hamsher has become a major voice in the blogosphere. That voice was threatened recently when she suddenly went into surgery for breast cancer, but she was in D.C. covering the trial barely one week after coming out of the hospital. You have to respect someone who's anticipation of Scooter (and, by proxy, Dick) on trial gave her the will to heal.

Both firedoglake and Swopa's Needlenose have been with this story since it broke. Swopa's blog is more obviously snarky, featuring more of the pix and keeping the written posts briefer as well. They're terrific together on the videos because they're just smart real people, unprocessed by the MainStream Media, essentially and with gentility in opposition to the MSM.

Who knows if or when they'll get assimilated in to the system, but for now they're giving a much better news report and analysis of the day's proceedings than virtually all of the network coverage, and you can watch it on your own schedule at the end of the day. The pieces are single camera with the correspondents side-by-side, single handheld mic, kinda like...back when the radio and television networks actually did stand-up news reports of appropriate length and substance.

At six or seven conversationally brisk minutes each, the video updates are satisfying recaps of key moments -- like when Don Imus seemed to take over the trial from afar, or listening to tapes of Libby's self-contradictory grand jury testimony -- along with color commentary of the strategies and undercurrents unfolding in the courtroom. It's very, very entertaining political discourse, because while Hamsher and Swopa (and, in Wednesday's installment, HuffPo founder Arianna Huffington) are admittedly partisan, they're not opportunistic Rightwing reductionists, nor do they come across remotely "Loony" as some on the Right attempt to smear their enemies on the Left.

Hunter S. Thompson once famously wrote, "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." There's no denying that things have been increasingly weird ever since our Executive Branch turned over on Inauguration Day 2001. The H&S Libby Trial free public speech updates are trumping the pros. They're a model for the future -- bloggers gone pro; but just weird enough not to sell out.


Crossposted to The Daily Reel.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Crashes

What the hell is going on with all these U.S. military helicopters getting shot down in Iraq -- six in the past three weeks!?

Why this is particularly bad:
Historically, improved tactics in shooting down helicopters have proved to be important factors in conflicts in which guerrillas have achieved victories against major powers, including battles in Somalia, Afghanistan and Vietnam.
This won't be the end of it. There are six million ways to fail in Iraq. And George W. Bush is determined to drag us through all of them.

Pallets of Cash

I'm so glad we have a Democratic-run House of Representatives now, so the truth we've only been reading about the Republican-run Iraq Coalition Provisional Authority these past four years can finally come out on TV. My very own Congressman, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) was a lone voice in the wilderness until the turnover, and now he's holding hearings that will blow your mind:
The U.S. Federal Reserve sent record payouts of more than $4 billion in cash to Baghdad on giant pallets aboard military planes shortly before the United States gave control back to Iraqis, lawmakers said on Tuesday...

...Bills weighing a total of 363 tons were loaded onto military aircraft in the largest cash shipments ever made by the Federal Reserve, said Rep. Henry Waxman (news, bio, voting record), chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

"Who in their right mind would send 363 tons of cash into a war zone? But that's exactly what our government did," the California Democrat said during a hearing reviewing possible waste, fraud and abuse of funds in Iraq.


Cashola. Long Green. Sweet sweet Dead Presidents.

Bush gave Ambassador Paul Bremer a medal for the disastrous job he did running his fiefdom, dismantling the country's political infrastructure and letting oh so many steal from us taxpayers, Iraqi and American thieves.

If you want to see Bremer get thrashed by Waxman's committee today for the CPA's GOP cronyist hiring practice, click here.

If you want to see him get thrashed for spending $1.2 million of our money on an accounting firm run out of some guy's home in San Diego, click here.

And if you want to see why British Prime Minister Tony Blair will suddenly lose his job and go down in history with a ruined reputation, and why the U.K. won't possibly be in our Coalition of the Empire very much longer, click here.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Noose

There is the "give 'em enough rope" school of thought. Let Bush have his last gasp escalation, give it to McCain, Lieberman, and the puppetmaster Cheney, take it.

With the Congressional reversal in November it was made clear that the U.S. public views the Republican-created war in Iraq as at best a mistake, obviously a lie, certainly shameful for our great nation, and at worst a precipice.

So how much do the Republican leaders (and Joseph Lieberman) want to thwart public Senate debate on the efficacy of the Bush/Cheney plan?
Republicans on Monday blocked Senate debate on a bipartisan resolution opposing President Bush’s troop buildup in Iraq, leaving in doubt whether the Senate would render a judgment on what lawmakers of both parties described as the paramount issue of the day.
How scared are the individual GOP members? From Monday:
When Sen. John E. Sununu (R-N.H.) saw reporters approaching him last week, he took off in a sprint, determined to say as little as possible about a nonbinding resolution opposing President Bush's troop-escalation plan, which is expected to come before the Senate today.
Yes, chickenhawks one and all.

Here's hero Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) criticizing both parties for being too easy on the war, calling for immediate action, the Congressional power of the purse. It's what ultimately ended our failed involvement in Vietnam and what he'll tell you the public clearly voted for on November 7th.

And here's a list of all the Senators who voted to squelch the Senate war debate who are also up for reelection the soonest, November 2008:
Lamar Alexander (R-TN)
Saxby Chambliss (R-GA)
Thad Cochran (R-MS)
John Cornyn (R-TX)
Larry Craig (R-ID)
Elizabeth Dole (R-NC)
Pete Domenici (R-NM)
Mike Enzi (R-WY)
Lindsey Graham (R-SC)
Chuck Hagel (R-NE)
Jim Inhofe (R-OK)
Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
Pat Roberts (R-KS)
Jeff Sessions (R-AL)
Gordon Smith (R-OR)
Ted Stevens (R-AK)
John Sununu (R-NH)
John Warner (R-VA)
Track your favorites, and see if they're still hangin' around the rotonda a scant twenty-three months from now.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

GTA Baghdad

For a windshield view of what it's like to be a U.S. soldier driving your Humvee through the mean streets of Iraq in constant fear of being blown up by an IED, there's this nerve-rattling video.

Bumper-to-bumped bumper, all too reminiscent of the uber-popular videogame Grand Theft Auto without the advantages of saved games.

The Return

So the way the timing looks, on Sunday February 25th Former Vice President Al Gore will be attending the Academy Awards, where the film he wrote and starred in is the heavy favorite to win Best Documentary.

The following month, surely working to capitalize on any Oscar currency and converting it to actual planet-saving legislation, he will make an expectedly triumphant return to the United States Capitol building and our Congress:
Gore will appear at a joint hearing on Wednesday, March 21. He will be the only witness to appear before the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Air Quality and the Science and Technology Subcommittee on Energy and Environment. Gore served on both committees during his House tenure representing a Tennessee district.
My first thought is who won't be trying to be there and show up in the news with our Shadow President (Alt-Universe).

My second thought is that Al has surely seen this movie, and whether mimicked or not, can - and will - he build a mounting wave of publicity and acclaim that rides him to the Democratic Presidential Nomination, straight through winning the general election?

Maybe it all hinges on whether or not America can handle electing a President who may actually be awarded one of these in Oslo Town Hall on December 10th?

How much talent, respect and earned wisdom can we demand in our selection for Chief Executive?

Friday, February 02, 2007

Star Trip

A tip of the Mad Hatter hat to Warm Leatherette for sending over this deliciously ingestible proof positive of Enterprise-generated psychedelia, to the iconographic tune of Jefferson Airplane's "White Rabbit".

The Only Question

Two days ago Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo cut through all the White House kabuki to the single question we need to demand answers of from all our supposed leaders:
Is it in our national interest to go to war with Iran or not?

Whether or not we're justified, since Bush/Cheney failed on that basic question in our unprovoked war on Iraq, we've got to ask it now.

Per this clip on Crooks and Liars, these villains are running the exact same sales job as the last time.