Saturday, June 30, 2007

Nancy Lynch

In what was my turn to take the kids to the movies, I just saw the new Nancy Drew movie and found myself in a bit of a time warp. But it wasn't the one hinted at in the advertising, the spoofy set-up of an obliviously 1950's-style title character dropped in a crass 2007 Hollywood high school (what The Brady Bunch Movie did with their 1970's-stuck leads). Instead I was drawn back to 2001 when David Lynch's Mulholland Drive hit the screens.

In the current picture, Nancy is drawn into a shadowy investigation of the death years prior of a Hollywood actress, played un-coincidentally by the beautiful Laura Elena Harring, who provided the curvaceous question mark in Lynch's picture, which itself drew upon the teen-novel literary heritage of Nancy Drew, girl detective, a series begun in the 1930's. When Nancy tracks down a young mother in a seedy Hollywood bungalow the first interior shots match a similar scene (discovering a corpse) in the Lynch picture, and the filmmakers toss in an overt reference to Lynch's Twin Peaks television series as well (Nancy visits a clinic named "Twin Palms").

The overall mood veers between Lynchian and Mean Girls to relatively entertaining effect for a grown-up doing their kid movie duty, and it definitely made me hungry to see Ms. Harring and then-unknown Naomi Watts spiral down that dark, dangerous rabbit hole again. Thinking ahead to the resultant effect on innocent young viewers exposed to this new vision of the seminal All-American female adolescent detective just made me wonder:

Is Nancy Drew be a gateway drug to David Lynch?

Friday, June 29, 2007


Oh, my goodness, Mister Bush has no domestic agenda left. None that comes to mind, none that could possibly be relevant to what is actually needed in America, none that Congress would possibly concern itself with -- none that even a Republican would carry water on.


Because Bush put it all on the line for the immigration bill and failed. Big time.

As Josh Marshall says accompanying this video from Mister Bush's post-mortem on his last shot:
Have you ever seen such a sad-sack president?

Unless something flips like crazy in the next year and a half, Mister Bush can kiss any legacy (other than murder, torture, and the debilitation of America's image in the world) goodbye. This is beyond lame-duck.

And what does the rest of the Republican Party have to offer? Nothing but obstructionism, of which they are perversely proud. When you read about public disapproval of Congress, did a little deeper to understand that it's the Republicans in Congress whom the public most disapproves of.

The GOP Presidential candidates don't even bother debating issues that actually matter to most Americans, like health care or real energy independence or restoring the U.S. to world greatness. And why would they? Their leading candidates are better known for torturing dogs. With character like that, Mitt Romney shouldn't be running for President, he should be running for Warden of Abu Ghraib!

Maybe Mister Bush's legacy will be a partial border fence that actually requires a stretch rebuild at a cost of million$ due to veering comically into the very country it is trying to block. Maybe it will be a new record in Friday night resignations by guilty-as-sin Justice Department officials, leaving no one but Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to turn out the lights.

In a devastating piece of amateur political agitprop, there's this "Waterloo" video that in provides a chilling compendium of the cast of characters in Mister Bush's awesome loserdom.

Wait, I can think of one last domestic agenda item to set Mister Bush apart in creating his legacy. Bubbling under maybe more powerfully than I have previously imagined...and you can help:


Thursday, June 28, 2007

Judicial Activism

Well, you can't say that Mister Bush has been completely ineffective as acting President. He's put arch-conservatives Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito on the Supreme Court. If the Democrats ever needed another campaign issue to insure their majority rule for the next 25 years, the newly reactionary U.S. Supreme Court majority just handed it to them with a series of end-of-term rulings that give the phrase "judicial activism" a new home -- the Federalist Society, a.k.a. the Washingtonian Republican rightwing.

How much must former Justice Sandra Day O'Connor rue her vote installing Mister Bush in office over 2000 popular vote winner and probable Florida recount winner Al Gore? All her good work come undone, she chose to serve on the Baker-Hamilton Iraq Commission only to have that effort tossed back in her face like mud. And now the man that replaced her has joined the four other rightwing reactionaries to give us resegregation, corporate smear ads, limits to student free speech outside school grounds, license for developers to ignore the Endangered Species Act, and protection for Bush/Cheney-style faith-based graft using our tax dollars.

Justice Stephen Breyer made his point aloud, in this case after a reported shouting match with Chief Justice Roberts over the affirmative action case and what it means to be an American, to the Court in session (via Jeffrey Toobin at CNN):
Justice Breyer used a phrase, "Never in the history of the court have so few done so much so quickly." And he was talking about Chief Justice Roberts and Justice [Samuel] Alito making this court a far more conservative institution in just one year. And at that phrase, "And never have so few done so much so quickly," both Justice Alito and Chief Justice Roberts looked over at Breyer and went, whoa, that's pretty personal by the standards of the Supreme Court.

You think I'm reaching with a quarter century realignment for the Dems? It happened the last time Republicans drove America into the ground. Hell, even Fox has Bush polling at record lows. Even better, they have Dems polling ahead of Republicans on facing off against a jingoistic threat!

I look forward this Supreme Court's first opportunity to rule on a woman's right to choose what to do with her own body when she finds herself pregnant.

Make it 50.

And the Children Shall Lead...

Mister Bush and President Cheney should be commended for engendering new political activists and starting them young. Video courtesy of Crooks & Liars:
President Bush was presented with a letter Monday signed by 50 high school seniors in the Presidential Scholars program urging a halt to “violations of the human rights” of terror suspects held by the United States…
There's more awesome video with the students interviewed by CNN after the event (damning stuff as they describe what Mister Bush was lecturing about just before getting served by them) at Raw Story and this quick ass-covering from the White House:
White House spokesman Dana Perino said Bush let the student know "the United States does not torture and that we value human rights," a statement seemingly contradicted by Bush's signing statement which gave him power to largely ignore a Congressional ban on torture spearheaded by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ).
At this point, lying to children should be easy for Mister Bush.

(Nettertainment has decided to no longer refer to him as "El Presidente" as this past week's four-part Washington Post story on Vice President Richard Bruce Cheney confirms the lingering suspicious that Mister Bush is merely a figurehead who has carried out shadow President Cheney's orders the entire length of his official term to date. Think Grand Vizier, often the de facto ruler in Ottoman times.)

Will these kids make the difference in Bush/Cheney policy reversal? Talk about the walls closing in.

Meanwhile, Congress grows cajones:
The Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday issued subpoenas to the White House, Vice President Dick Cheney’s office and the Justice Department after what the panel’s chairman called “stonewalling of the worst kind” of efforts to investigate the National Security Agency’s policy of wiretapping without warrants.
Get ready for a showdown...please!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


I've often said that one reason I like John Edwards for President is his wife, who takes on monsters with courage.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Spot On

While public and Congressional outrage against the Stalinist shadow President Dick Cheney has yet to reach the proper peak, there is reason to be hopeful for the future, if only we don't allow Cheney to hijack it by causing war with Iran.

While I've watched Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) move up and down in these way-too-early Presidential Primary polls, I tend to forget his very admirable roots as a community activist, as well as how the Illinois electorate overwhelmingly voted him into the U.S. Senate thanks, one imagines, to his pleasing performance in state government.

These two new television spots, courtesy of TPMCafe, are hitting the airwaves in Iowa, home of the very first Primary contest (a caucus). They remind me why Obama is so attractive as a candidate in the first place.

The first features an Illinois Republican State Legislator speaking highly of Sen. Obama's ability to work fairly across the aisle. Nice work.

The other has different community activists as well as renown Harvard University law professor Laurence Tribe praising Obama's selflessness when he could very easily have gone to Wall Street and made zillions...instead of helping regular folks who pay much, much worse.

I'm more than intrigued with Barack Obama as a Presidential candidate, although I have concerns about his closeness with Joe Lieberdouche and some of scattered neocon types. However, I am, like many people, enamored of him as a Vice Presidential candidate, say with Former Senator Edwards or, be still my heart, Former Vice President Gore.

Who knows, maybe it'll be a woman at the top of the ticket and Barack filling it out. And should they win, would we not, indeed, have earned the title, Land of the Free?

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Double Impeachment

For well over a year I've been saying that whatever you imagine is going on inside the Bush Administration, the truth is going to be much, much worse.

As predicted, whoops, there it is:

Just past the Oval Office, in the private dining room overlooking the South Lawn, Vice President Cheney joined President Bush at a round parquet table they shared once a week. Cheney brought a four-page text, written in strict secrecy by his lawyer. He carried it back out with him after lunch.

In less than an hour, the document traversed a West Wing circuit that gave its words the power of command. It changed hands four times, according to witnesses, with emphatic instructions to bypass staff review. When it returned to the Oval Office, in a blue portfolio embossed with the presidential seal, Bush pulled a felt-tip pen from his pocket and signed without sitting down. Almost no one else had seen the text.

Cheney's proposal had become a military order from the commander in chief. Foreign terrorism suspects held by the United States were stripped of access to any court -- civilian or military, domestic or foreign. They could be confined indefinitely without charges and would be tried, if at all, in closed "military commissions."

"What the hell just happened?" Secretary of State Colin L. Powell demanded, a witness said, when CNN announced the order that evening, Nov. 13, 2001. National security adviser Condoleezza Rice, incensed, sent an aide to find out. Even witnesses to the Oval Office signing said they did not know the vice president had played any part.

Excellent reporting (finally!) from the Washington Post. A big two-part article, sheer terror, like a Tom Clancy novel gone bad.

Just how neutered, how "owned" was the rest of the White House help:

Powell asked for a meeting with Bush. The same day, Jan. 25, 2002, Cheney's office struck a preemptive blow. It appeared to come from Gonzales, a longtime Bush confidant whom the president nicknamed "Fredo." Hours after Powell made his request, Gonzales signed his name to a memo that anticipated and undermined the State Department's talking points. The true author has long been a subject of speculation, for reasons including its unorthodox format and a subtly mocking tone that is not a Gonzales hallmark.

A White House lawyer with direct knowledge said Cheney's lawyer, Addington, wrote the memo. Flanigan passed it to Gonzales, and Gonzales sent it as "my judgment" to Bush [Read the memo]. If Bush consulted Cheney after that, the vice president became a sounding board for advice he originated himself.

Remember, this is Cheney's M.O. He did this with the bullshit leaks about Iraq having WMDs, owning Tim Russell by appearing to corroborate a story his chief henchman Scooter Libby had leaked to Judith Miller at the New York Times.

He did this when he chose himself as Bush's Vice Presidential running mate -- remember when he was running the search committee and ended up recommending himself...surprise surprise?

But it's not just Cheney to blame. Per Steve Benen at TPM:
The article is not explicit, but an underlying theme of the Washington Post's profile on Dick Cheney is that his unprecedented power is only possible because Bush is anxious to get out of the way...

...I'm reminded of the embarrassing point in 2004 in which the President agreed to talk to the 9/11 Commission, but only if Cheney could sit with Bush, and help answer questions, during the discussion...

...Cheney has routinely been the "surrogate President," with Bush putting his signature on the VP's ideas (military commissions, domestic warrantless-searches) because the VP told him it was the right thing to do.

Indeed, when it came to ignoring the Geneva Conventions, Cheney made his decision before Bush did...

...Meet George W. Bush, the not-so-innocent bystander of his own presidency.

Last month at the first Republican 2008 Presidential candidates debate, Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney cried out, "Double Guantanamo!"

There's only one sane response. Two-for-one these guys. Hello President Pelosi.

Saturday, June 23, 2007


Blogging is a great way to participate in the marketplace of ideas without having to physically put yourself in that marketplace. Since you can always be tracked down and hounded it isn't exactly a cowardly way to participate, but there is one prominent blogger who has always made a point of keeping her privacy, as even her online name plays genderless, or even shades male.

This past week, at the Take Back America Conference, Digby came out.

It turns out she's a she from Santa Monica and besides having one of the finest voices in the liberal blogosphere, she revealed herself as a hell of a speaker. You can read the text of her remarks here, or watch the video here.

She does a great job of providing context for the leftist blogging revolution we're currently experiencing, lists some of the key bloggers writing today, points out how diverse the group is, and then sums up what brings us together. An excerpt:

All of us who blog in the progressive blogosphere, have a common goal. It's the same goal of virtually everyone in this room tonight. We want to begin a new era of progressive politics and take back America.

We may argue about tactics and strategy or the extent to which we are partisans vs ideologues--and believe me, we do. But there is no disagreement among us that the modern conservative movement Of Newt and Grover and Karl and Rush has proven to be a dangerous cultural and political cancer on the body politic.

You will not find anyone amongst us who believes that the Bush administration's executive power grab and flagrant partisan use of the federal government is anything less than an assault on the constitution. We stand together against the dissolution of habeas corpus and the atrocities of Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo. We all agree that Islamic terrorism is a threat, but one which we cannot meet with military power alone.

She sat for an interview at the conference which reveals a little more about her in an informal setting. With an eyes-wide-open appreciation of this moment borne of having lived through the later 1960's progressive apex (and subsequent undermining), I couldn't agree more with her conclusion:
I actually feel very confident about it because there is this new political debate going on that is allowing us to make arguments that have not been made in a very long time. I don't think people have heard the progressive argument explicitly in a long time, not filtered through the right wing and the conventions of their media and interpreted by the mainstream media. I think as a lot of people are going directly into the blogosphere people are going to be hearing our arguments again. Now, whether we make them all and whether they are effective you never know; I don't think there are any guarantees there. But I think there is a new political debate that has opened up at a very propitious time for us as a result of the unfortunate failure of the conservative project under George W. Bush, and let's just say there will never be another time like this one.
Only time will tell if the current progressive blogging end up being considered a golden age or not, but if it is it wouldn't be unjust to consider Digby a middle-aged, female, publicity shy Thomas Paine of our time.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Growned Up

The tendency with truly funny movies is to give away some of the choice lines to help entice friends into that after they see it you can repeat the lines with impunity until every last heh-heh has been squeezed out of the whole experience. The problem is that giving away any lines degrades the viewing experience of anyone yet to see the picture.

And so it goes with the summer comedy smash, Knocked Up. Writer/Director/Improv Conductor Judd Apatow is two-for-two, since he owned the funniest picture of the year title in 2006 with The 40 Year Old Virgin. The new one is a great companion piece, telling the story of a boy-to-mensch growth experience from a different angle. Fine-boned Steve Carrell has been replaced with pot-bellied Seth Rogen, but once again Paul Rudd locks in the greatness without ever making it seem like a big deal, and another Catherine/Katherine provides approachable girlfriend appeal.

With a stupendous 92% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes and word-of-mouth movie studios die for, fourth weekend business is again looking to be brisk.

If you've already seen the picture, here's where you can dig for your favorite lines. There's also so funny user-generated dance videos and photos for a contest at the Web and WAP sites for my place of business, Zannel. Come vote for the best!

Later we can argue over whether the second date line or the Steely Dan line was best-in-the-flick.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Fascist Pig

I give you (please, take him) Vice President Richard Bruce "Dick" Cheney, criminal:
For four years, Vice President Dick Cheney has resisted routine oversight of his office’s handling of classified information, and when the National Archives unit that monitors classification in the executive branch objected, the vice president’s office suggested abolishing the oversight unit, according to documents released yesterday by a Democratic congressman.

He tried to abolish the very unit that was created to monitor him. Think Tony Soprano, without the charm.

It gets worse:
Vice President Dick Cheney has asserted his office is not a part of the executive branch of the U.S. government, and therefore not bound by a presidential order governing the protection of classified information by government agencies, according to a new letter from Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., to Cheney.

Is there any better argument for Irving Lewis "Scooter" Libby serving the longest sentence possible? These conspirators, led by mob boss Cheney, treat our sacred Constitution like an old man just asking to be shot in the face.

In other countries brutal, narcissistic, power-mad despots who pervert their country's Constitution like Cheney have faced stiffer penalties. While I don't advocate capital punishment for his acts of treason, surely we've past the point where anyone believes we won't learn that Cheney abused power even worse, and so much of it when he and ideological thugs (along with their puppet Presidente) jammed us into this illegal, ill-advised, tragically executed Iraq War.

Wait, it's actually gone well for Cheney, if you look at the staggering profit he stands to make off of his Halliburton options.

Worse will be if they get away with bombing Iran -- if they haven't already ignited WWIII.

Well, it's time to make Dick and George pay the piper. Hell, just a few more points and El Presidente will break Nixon's record 23% approval rating basement. Three-fourths (3/4) of this country know Bush is a loser, but I'd argue it isn't that we wouldn't want to have a beer with him anymore (although I really wouldn't -- ever). It's because we all know he wipes his ass with our U.S. Constitution, which is just the same as fouling all of us with no regard; no regard for our wishes, no regard for our 74%.

It's not that they just steal money for themselves or their cronies. They've stolen our whole idea about America, and our reputation in the world.

Well, you know what society traditionally does to the lawless.

Let's punish them.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

More GOP Criminal Behavior

This stuff doesn't even have to do with governing crimes, just high profile state campaign heads for Rudy and Mitt acting as, surprise surprise, rampant hypocrites.

There's Rudy's man:
South Carolina Treasurer Thomas Ravenel, a former real estate developer who became a rising political star after his election last year, was indicted Tuesday on federal cocaine charges.

Ravenel and another man were accused of distributing less than 500 grams of the drug starting in late 2005.

Ravenel is also the state chairman for former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s presidential campaign.

It makes one cry...sniff-sniff!

Then there's Mitt's man:
In a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah, 133 plaintiffs have alleged that Robert Lichfield, co-chairman of Romney’s Utah finance committee owned or operated residential boarding schools for troubled teenagers where students were “subjected to physical abuse, emotional abuse and sexual abuse.”

The complaint, which plaintiffs amended and resubmitted to the court last week, alleges children attending schools operated by Lichfield suffered abuses such as unsanitary living conditions; denial of adequate food; exposure to extreme temperatures; beatings; confinement in dog cages; and sexual fondling.
Sounds ruff! But this is exactly what we all love about Republicans: strong on Law & Order.

Is it any wonder that the Gallup poll released today has any of the top three Democratic candidates beating any of the top three Republican candidates in head-to-head match-ups amongst registered voters?

Y'know, this reminds me of something our current El Presidente once said:

Bring it on.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Republicans are Insane

What kind of sane jurist, let alone U.S. Supreme Court jurist, argues out their side of the case by basing their arguments entirely upon fictional TV show characters?

That would be Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia:

Senior judges from North America and Europe were in the midst of a panel discussion about torture and terrorism law, when a Canadian judge's passing remark - "Thankfully, security agencies in all our countries do not subscribe to the mantra 'What would Jack Bauer do?' " - got the legal bulldog in Judge Scalia barking.

The conservative jurist stuck up for Agent Bauer, arguing that fictional or not, federal agents require latitude in times of great crisis. "Jack Bauer saved Los Angeles. ... He saved hundreds of thousands of lives," Judge Scalia said. Then, recalling Season 2, where the agent's rough interrogation tactics saved California from a terrorist nuke, the Supreme Court judge etched a line in the sand.

"Are you going to convict Jack Bauer?" Judge Scalia challenged his fellow judges. "Say that criminal law is against him? 'You have the right to a jury trial?' Is any jury going to convict Jack Bauer? I don't think so.

I know Republicans love 24, but are they all this fucking crazy?

Are they all so charming about due process?

"I don't care about holding people. I really don't," Judge Scalia said.

Even if a real terrorist who suffered mistreatment is released because of complaints of abuse, Judge Scalia said, the interruption to the terrorist's plot would have ensured "in Los Angeles everyone is safe." During a break from the panel, Judge Scalia specifically mentioned the segment in Season 2 when Jack Bauer finally figures out how to break the die-hard terrorist intent on nuking L.A. The real genius, the judge said, is that this is primarily done with mental leverage. "There's a great scene where he told a guy that he was going to have his family killed," Judge Scalia said. "They had it on closed circuit television - and it was all staged. ... They really didn't kill the family."

Hey, I've loved Alice in Wonderland ever since I was a kid. But I also know I'm not going to pass into my shaving mirror.

Okay, maybe that's just one guy. Now we're back in the real world. The one where Rudy Giuliani pretends to be an actual expert on terrorism:
Rudolph Giuliani's membership on an elite Iraq study panel came to an abrupt end last spring after he failed to show up for a single official meeting of the group, causing the panel's top Republican to give him a stark choice: either attend the meetings or quit, several sources said.

Giuliani left the Iraq Study Group last May after just two months, walking away from a chance to make up for his lack of foreign policy credentials on the top issue in the 2008 race, the Iraq war.

He cited "previous time commitments" in a letter explaining his decision to quit, and a look at his schedule suggests why - the sessions at times conflicted with Giuliani's lucrative speaking tour that garnered him $11.4 million in 14 months.
Look, I don't begrudge the guy for hitting the bank while the hitting is good. Just don't do something like this and then pretend that you're a viable Presidential candidate, ever.

You really are going to put the peoples' needs before your own? You expect me to believe that?

You must be crazy!

Oh, there is one Republican who I know is not insane.


Failed State

Heckuva job, tragic Bushie:
Iraq has emerged as the world's second most unstable country, behind Sudan, more than four years after President George W. Bush ordered the U.S. invasion to topple Saddam Hussein, according to a survey released on Monday.

The 2007 Failed States Index, produced by Foreign Policy magazine and the Fund for Peace, said Iraq suffered a third straight year of deterioration in 2006 with diminished results across a range of social, economic, political and military indicators. Iraq ranked fourth last year.

The one thing he, Cheney, Rove and Rumsfeld know how to do: break things. A country. A Constitution.

And yes, by the way, they are indeed criminals.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Two Guys

So far a couple of white Southern guys are my favorites to become our next U.S. President. One is actually running for the Democratic Party nomination, the other is not announced and maybe never announcing.

I find something to like in all of the Democratic candidates, and will vote for any of them over any of the Republican candidates, all of whom I find odious and repellent, with the exception of the very honest and (although I disagree with so many of his Libertarian positions) Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), someone I agree with wholeheartedly on the egregious folly of this Iraq War and all of the Patriot Act type civil liberty usurpations they snuck through with it.

While he continues to place #3 in the national polls, John Edwards has an edge in the early Iowa caucus. There are a number of things I like about Edwards. He's the only candidate consistently talking about poverty and what it's doing to our nationhood. As a thinking, acting individual, there is no doubt that he has grown these past four years, and I think he's still growing. And he's got the best wife of all the candidates, long may she live.

So what are his actual odds? Who knows -- Hillary has the national poll numbers, Obama has the star power. As to Edwards' strategy, The New York Times piece from Monday morning is a pretty good picture as far as I've come to understand it:
Mr. Edwards has shown a new eagerness to draw contrasts with his opponents on issues like the war in Iraq and health care, in no small part motivated by his struggle not to get lost in a field of big names. And he has gone from the boyish, easygoing one-time senator from North Carolina to a candidate displaying an urgently engaging manner as likely to seize as to charm an audience, an approach that appears to be particularly effective in the close-quarter meetings that fill his days here.

I don't find it a valid criticism that Sen. Edwards made his money as a trial lawyer. Even Republicans call up a trial lawyer the minute they feel they've been wronged by a major corporation. We've had an actor President, a profession where the main task is to make people believe the story being told, and a whole lot of people hold him in high esteem.

(Personally, I commend President Ronald Reagan for having ignored Rep. Richard Cheney and his band of moron ideologues and chosen to deal with Russian Premier Gorbachev during those fragile early days of glasnost and perestroika. Actual statesmanship.)

Edwards in his positions is fighting the power for national health insurance and impressing regular folks with his live appearances, going to small towns usually ignored by Democrats. He's not some trumped up phony, although he certainly will be selling between now and either his eventual win or elimination. I don't begrudge him that, either.

Then there's the rock star:

Mr. Gore is scheduled to address the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival as part of the windup leading to the Live Earth concerts on July 7, which are intended to raise awareness of the issue of climate change.

You might think that Mr. Gore and his campaign against global warming would find few friends in Cannes. The production, transport, sale and consumption of goods and services add a few sizes to anyone’s carbon footprint.

Yet Mr. Gore is being accorded rock star status at the festival, an event that in the past has been headlined by industry insiders. The embrace of Mr. Gore shows how “green” advertising has galvanized the marketing community.

It turns out the ultimate salesman is the former Vice President and 2000 Presidential popular vote winner, wildly successful in selling the very real threat of global warming to the populace of the world. It's all consumer driven sentiment -- we do want to save our world! -- so advertisers are responding. Of course, we'll see if they're really serious about being good corporate citizens in the long run, but there is no one but Al who made this happen.

Per England's The Guardian, "It has got to be Al Gore":
Other politicians and nations can pressure and preach - but top-down decision-making starts in the Oval Office.

Is that possible when climate change is just one "normal" issue among many, to be ceremonially weighed against US jobs or gas prices or Chinese imports? It's not. But that, with inevitable shades of emphasis, is where every extant presidential candidate stands. Too timid, too slow. Global warming is an utterly abnormal issue that needs a leader all of its own. Gore has fashioned himself as that leader. He can't just sit there and pontificate. He has to run. And, when he does, the rest of us have to put inconvenient illusions aside and listen.

The bloke's got a point.

And when I look at this, I get happy chills of projection...

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Pretty Much Terrific

I didn't see the first movie made from the uber-classic Marvel Comics signature series (first issue Nov. 1961), Fantastic Four, but I heard some negative things about it, particularly from longtime comic books fans, and because I just took our two sons (ages 7 and 4) to see the new Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, I'm betting we'll catch it on video soon.

Again, I can't speak to the first film, and I know reviews have been better but still not ecstatic for this first sequel. Maybe ecstatic wouldn't be appropriate. After all, it doesn't have the angst of Spider-man or the hippitude of the X-Men movies. It's not about character depth, either.

What this one is, however, is a very cool-looking, straightforward, essentially faithful superhero movie with lots of big screen "wow" shots, that I can take my kids to. There were a couple of "craps" and "asses," but hopefully all the boys remember is the ultra-cool Silver Surfer himself (Laurence Fishburne voice, Doug Jones mo-cap) and that bitchin' chase between him and Johnny Storm, a.k.a. The Human Torch.

One of my favorite shots is a God's-eye view of their two streaks, silver and orange-red, high above forested landscapes, two whizzing dots in furious pursuit around the globe. The resolution is good, mind opening stuff: SS takes HT up where he doesn't belong.

Yep, it's square, but it is also faithful to enough key plot points of the original story (three issues starting #48, March 1966, often called "The Galactus Trilogy") that I can get the sense of sharing a significant epic that shaped my childhood with my guys. Maybe getting the reprinted stories is next.

My only complaint was that I had heard some rumor about The Watcher making a cameo at the end, but although there are a couple of moon shots in the picture, including one in the appendix ending (interrupts the credits), he's not there, and I made us all wait until the last copyright.

For some reason I recall The Watcher, his race the oldest and most advanced in the universe, evolved beyond interfering with anyone else, lending a sort of mythic third of fourth dimension to the story. He tells this Silver Surfer/Galactus tale, and at the beginning it's almost like the FF are supporting characters, but of course it turns into their biggest challenge maybe of all time.

In any case, the most welcome presence onscreen was Stan Lee in cameo, trying to get into the Richards/Storm wedding and getting turned away -- the guard is "yeah yeah right right" when Stan claims to be Stan.

What's funny is that the gag acknowledges Stan Lee's place as household name and in association with Fantastic Four. The movie credits give Stan and artist Jack Kirby equal credit for creating the FF, pretty similar to how they used to bill themselves in the comic, albeit without the modifiers. (Smilin' Stan Lee! Joltin' Jack Kirby!)

That something these gents created nearly fifty years ago in their 40's is hitting the screen with the effects necessary to translate the original comic book experience, and resonating with little kids now is heartening, to say the least.

Yep, some of the my favorite parts of that American Century continue to bear fruit for our own children.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Map Crazy

Here's one for graphical information/mapping fetishists, like me, Strange Maps.

The one on the top as I post this is, "131 - US States Renamed For Countries With Similar GDPs."

I'm also a big fan of the terrifying and Inconvenient "117 - Europe’s Climate in 2071" as well as the revelatory "124 - Jesus In India: A Road Map of His Lost Years."

Hard to top the hand drawn "98 - ‘On the Road’ Map: Kerouac Traces His Trip" (hitchhiking back and forth across America in those halcyon post-war years of 1947-48) but maybe Munchkinland and its neighbors will do the trick for you with "69 - Not Kansas, But Just As Rectangular: The Land of Oz."

There's a zoo hidden in the London Underground map ("119 - All Elephant and No Castle: a Secret Bestiary of the London Tube Map") and a woman who's certainly more into maps than you or I ("126 - Hannover On Her Mind - and On Her Back"). And illuminating information, like why our interstate highway numbering system actually works ("75 - A Diagram of the Eisenhower Interstate System"), as well as why America cannot be a world empire in simple population terms ("96 - A Cartogram of the World’s Population"), the latter of which is also an argument for open border immigration -- if we want to kick anybody's ass.

As some parting cartography, here's two representations of where Nettertainment hails from daily.

One is more virtual although not necessarily more virtuous: "118 - Online Communities Map (Not For Navigation)." We're somewhere in the Southwest corner, map detail not available.

The other...well...would anyone really be surprised?

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Republican Failure and Crime Update

My goodness, everywhere you look there's a story today about either how the GOP war policy has screwed America royally while they continue to sow Anti-Constitutional crime and public sphere pollution without end.

Here's the "Slow Vanishing of Iraq". Imagine your country ruined, the places and people you loved destroyed, supposedly for our own good. El Presidente's surge is everything this War has ever been:
Three months into the new U.S. military strategy that has sent tens of thousands of additional troops into Iraq, overall levels of violence in the country have not decreased, as attacks have shifted away from Baghdad and Anbar, where American forces are concentrated, only to rise in most other provinces, according to a Pentagon report released yesterday.
And how is the Bush Family sacrificing? Press Secretary Tony Snow says George W. Bush himself fights on the front lines.

No joke.

Snow say Bush is right there with, like, our soldiers who are getting blown up and maimed.

But how about the rest of our nation's current foreign policy?:
High officials of European governments describe U.S. influence as squandered and swiftly eroding (one minister went down a list of Bush administration officials, rating them according to their stupidity), the country's moral authority nil. Lethal power vacuums are emerging from Lebanon to Pakistan, and Europeans are incapable on their own of quelling the fires that burn far closer to them than to the United States through their growing Muslim populations and proximity to the Middle East. They have no illusions that they will be treated seriously as real allies or that there will be a sudden about-face by the Bush administration. Their faint hope -- and it is only a hope -- is that they have already seen the worst and that it is not yet to come. Even worse than Bush, from their perspective, would be another Republican president who continued Bush policies and also appointed neoconservatives. That would toll, if not the end of days, then the decline and fall of the Western alliance except in name only, and an even more rapid acceleration of chaos in the world order.
The whole Sidney Blumenthal article the excerpt is from is worth reading. Entertaining in an epic train wreck sort of way, except it's our train. With Conductor George...and Engineer Cheney.

Beside losing face to Vladimir Putin and contradicting him own statements one day after, Bush's worst crime was sinking German Chancellor Angela Merkel's climate change proposal, a final humiliation for outgoing British Prime Minister Tony Blair as well.

Al Gore hits it hard:

"It was a disgrace disguised as an achievement," Gore said at an event in Milan, where he praised Merkel for her efforts.

"The eight most powerful nations gathered and were unable to do anything except to say 'We had good conversations and we agreed that we will have more conversations, and we will even have conversations about the possibility of doing something in the future on a voluntary basis perhaps."'

A crime not only against America, but against humanity -- forget worst, most evil President ever.

Back in America, Bush backs his old buddies at signature Texas energy industry swindlers Enron:

In a lawsuit that harks back to the Enron scandal, the Bush administration is at odds with the federal agency that oversees securities markets as well as with state attorneys general and consumer and investor advocates.President Bush personally weighed in with his views before the administration decided not to support investors whose securities fraud case is now before the Supreme Court.

The president’s message was that it’s important to reduce ”unnecessary lawsuits” and that federal securities regulators are in the best position to sue, said Al Hubbard, Bush’s chief economic adviser and director of the National Economic Council.[..]

Crime, crime, crime...Libby!

Yes, a convicted criminal. Lied to the cops. Lied to the really important cops. Judge is sending to jail. Yet all the rightwing scumbags are creating a giant noise machine of pardon, so Bush/Cheney can walk away with it. Yes, just as Darth Cheney was behind the intentional leak blowing CIA Agent Valerie Plame's cover, he's reportedly now pressuring his puppet prince to closer the circle.

And who wants to "careful review" of Libby's case for Presidential pardon?:

Romney has said he refused pardons because he didn't want to overturn a jury.

Asked in last week's debate if he would consider pardoning Libby, Romney said: "It's worth looking at that. I will study it very closely if I'm lucky enough to be president. And I'd keep that option open."

I guess the sunny side of this is that at least we know that Romney will countenance lawbreaking if for raw GOP partisan political purposes before folks get the chance to vote for him -- unlike Bush, who never let on (prior to getting installed by the Supreme Court).

Speaking of the “the most intellectually dishonest human being in the history of politics” there's his fake-flop on a woman's right to control her own body, put out by the McCain campaign after Romney took the lead in some GOP Primary polls, with video that directly contradicts another one of Romney's lies.

Romney, by the way, feels like he has to be an even bigger asshole now to prove he's really Anti-Choice (the "He" is Romney, per a friend):

He said - What do you think you’re doing?

She said - Well, we have to abort the baby because I have these blood clots.

And he said something to the effect of - Well, why do you get off easy when other women have their babies?

And she said - What are you talking about? This is a life threatening situation.

And he said - Well what about the life of the baby?

And she said - I have four other children and I think it would be really irresponsible to continue the pregnancy.

And of course there's Bush's Attorney General, hack of hacks, the man who validates every sleazy lawyer joke you ever heard, illegally working to influence his aide's testimony before she appeared in Congress.

By the way, that whole fired U.S. Attorneys scandal? It really does lead right into Karl Rove's White House office.

Yeah, I know the Dems need to rally again after losing the 2/3 Iraq veto override. Sure, they aren't polling high because of it.

But is it any wonder that American hates this President, his partners-in-crime, henchpersons and the entire Republican Party?

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Song Crazy

This could be a banner year for pop singles, as I've already related getting hooked on "Rehab" and now there's a new tune on my block.

I needed something to knock that Journey song from the last-ever scene of The Sopranos out of my circular thought pattern and the radio gods have delivered Sean Kingston's terrifyingly addictive "Beautiful Girls".

There's the jarring "You'll have me suicidal, suicidal" line in a bed of 1960's style reggae, a unique callback to the days when The Wailers sounded like doo-wop with a 2/4 Jamaican beat, with the dollop of Ben E. King's "Stand by Me" hitting our collective unconscious somewhere in the solar plexus.

What blew me away today was not just that other people are getting hooked as well, but that they're making their own videos about it. In a variety of genres. Like, in dozens.

I've linked below to some of this first dozen, with a little description of each. It's roughly in preferential order (best first) but they're all fascinating, especially if you like the song.

If you're already sick of the song, they're at least interesting models for what sure to continue coming, a viral world of insta-video self-expression that adds richness to the pop experience. People are exposing their real emotions whether singing, dancing or cutting together animation, and there's a beautiful innocence, even of some of the civilian artists seems like they're doing some of life the hard way.

Anime Version
What I love about this one is how it makes the big-eyed anime characters seem more affecting than I'd imagine in their original movies, with their original scores and Japanese sentimentality. Here, shorn of color, to the Jamaican doo-wop beat, they're tragically moving ciphers for our modern age.

Two 12-Year Olds Version
These two girls actually sing, doing it very straight, I'm guess the computer open to the lyrics in their collective lap which they glance to occasionally. Maybe the most charming part at the end, where the song intentionally goes into a sudden slow-down-and-stop, and they break their webcam personas, exchanging glances and breaking each other up.

Stand by Me/BG "Remixxx" Version
Nice acoustic guitar version that deconstructs the Ben E. King DNA of the song by starting with it and segueing into the Sean Kingston tune.

Girl Spinning Around the Room Version
This one isn't the whole song, which is actually one of its charms. It's a young woman holding the camera very steadily on her face as she dances, spinning around her room. Like a really good shot in a Spike Lee movie. She's so unpretentious expressing her joy for the song in movement, a really good use of the camera.

Lion King Version
Mustafa and Simba, and some pretty good fake syncing along the way, you wonder how the creator got inspired with this idea.

Sleepy Guy BeatBox Version
Pretty credible wee hours solo beat-boxing to the first half of the track before our hero hits the hay.

Two Girls Chipmunk Version
Fast is good.

Three Buddies Version
Nice to see a trio: voice (ouchie as it goes on), beat-box and unplugged electric guitar. Three friends up late get an idea?

Girl Who Falls at End Version
Worst vocal, best ending.

And, if your interested in the man himself and what seems to have been a very tough life getting started, and want to see him interviewed in the non-fame way he won't have the next time:

Sean Kingston Interview Pt 1

Maybe the ultimate appeal of the song is in the first two lines:
You're way too beautiful girl
That's why it'll never work
Have truer words ever been sung?


President Bush went to Albania this week, the one place in the universe where he is greeted as a hero by huge crowds of non-partisan citizens. In large part, he's reaping President Bill Clinton's applause, as the main reason they love America is what Clinton did to save Kosovo in their War.

Now it appears Bush's watch was stolen, lifted, if you will, during his orgasmic press-the-flesh pep rally.

Watch. Closely.

Around the 1:00-1:07 mark.

More on it here.

I know, I know, the Post-Ironic Age.

It just seems so obvious, not even easy, just karmic clarity:

He lost his watch...on his watch.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Back to America

The best TV reviewer in America today, Alan Sepinwall, pre-secured this extraordinary post-Sopranos interview from David Chase, spending the hoopla days away from it all where he lives in France. (You should have known). This is it -- Chase will never speak again about the finale.

My favorite quote:

One detail about the final scene that he'll discuss, however tentatively: the selection of Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" as the song on the jukebox.

"It didn't take much time at all to pick it, but there was a lot of conversation after the fact. I did something I'd never done before: in the location van, with the crew, I was saying, 'What do you think?' When I said, 'Don't Stop Believin',' people went, 'What? Oh my god!' I said, 'I know, I know, just give a listen,' and little by little, people started coming around."

And now, back to our real world. In case you're wondering why someone with the opportunity might want to spend a lot of their time in France, per Digby:
* Dems — 57% believe in evolution, 40% do not

* Independents — 61% believe in evolution, 37% do not

* Republicans — 30% believe in evolution, 68% do not

This means that the Republican party is, in fact, the party of Yahoos as defined by noted English satirist Jonathan Swift in his classic political satire, Gulliver's Travels, or just the political party that most represents ignorant Americans. That strikes me as fair and democratic, as even ignoramuses deserve representation.

Interestingly enough, the Independents are more rational than the Democrats, and there are so many different types of Independents compared to the parties.

There's also this via Politiblog (ohmygodwhatweretheythinking) which confirms once more that we are living the Post-Ironic Age. I mean, none of the parents thought it was a bad idea?

Sunday, June 10, 2007

The Hit

Over the past few weeks I've been moved to write about various episodes of The Sopranos as it hit its creative stride in the run-up to series finale. Usually I wait a day or two to reflect, read some other analysis, and make up my mind about what's stuck, but tonight is going to be different. I'm already getting keyword inquiries about the ending, which as Steve Van Zandt warned us a few weeks ago, has gotten everyone talking. So here goes.


Okay, I thought the TiVo had cut off the ending (not the first time, or the first time this week) but then I realized I didn't get the traditional "delete" screen. Then I thought the feed had gone out -- happened a few years ago during the Six Feet Under final season, nearly drove me to homicide.

Then I realized David Chase was seriously screwing with us.

Then, after I got over my denial and anger, I entered the bargaining or, as I prefer to call it, analysis stage. Depression and acceptance are waiting in the wings and, while I'm glimpsing them through the curtains, here are the possible explanations for the ending that come to mind:
  • David Chase made a big mistake?

    Answer: Don't be a moron.
  • It's metatextual?

    Answer: Sure.

    Chase usually ended seasons with comforting family dinners, even if there might be lightning outside the door, and the major project of most family melodramas -- TV or otherwise -- is the reconstitution of the family. So Chase could be making a point about the falseness of such closures, even as he leaves us tantalizingly close to one, with Meadow in suspense-laden parallel parking holding up the final piece of the familial reconstitution forever.

    Or it's a metatextual comment on the nature of filmmaking, the ability to construct intense dread with a series of artificial moving images edited in such a way as to produce a feeling out of thin air. The build of suspense and signifiers. Who just came through the door? What is Tony thinking? Why isn't he concerned about the possible Michael Corleone move in the bathroom? When will we see that sudden splatter of red -- as planted earlier in the season when Silvio witnessed a hit at his restaurant table?

    For, as Tony's mother Livia once spat, "It's all a big nothing!"
  • It's forcing viewers to pay attention not to some sort of tabloid plot closure, but instead to the real themes, the real cry of warning of the series as a whole?

    Answer: Why, yes.

    Face it: no one's changed. No one's escaped. No one has gotten out alive.

    The "family" closure of the final episode is that both kids are headed back into the Family business. Sure, it's movies and law, but both are mob connected, both kids are under their parents' watchful cultural eyes, Carmela has not awakened to her husband's crimes and Tony has gotten just enough therapeutic awareness to do his job better. After all, wasn't that the clear message of the Melfi hit on Tony as patient in last week's penultimate episode?

    As I wrote last week, the surreal denial of our citizenry's complicit responsibility for the Iraq War is yet another metaphor for these very toxic characters' blindness to their own responsibility for turning everything they touch to shit and heartbreak. And, to take it step further, just as I entitled that post, "Tony America," Chase entitled this final episode, "Made in America."

    The bigger game has always been the turnaround on the audience. Playing with our empathy by linking it to a confirmed devil (see the episode in Vegas where Tony acknowledged as much when, coming on a peyote trip, he nodded to an image of one). Playing with how the "normalcy" of the characters' daily lives is really about how we lie to ourselves all the time, every day, as some possibly apocalyptic survival method.

    This reflexive theme of the show is the one most thought-provoking to discuss at parties, but also rubs wrong as a "f.u." from series creator to audience. It's where the show takes the biggest risk (lots of movies, if not TV shows, have had us empathizing with a bad guy, going back to Othello), that of alienating the audience, of biting the hand that feeds it.

    Tonight's ending was potentially the biggest bite-back of all. Lots of notes in forums about canceling HBO. One has to assume the execs over there knew it, one wonders if they are really prepared.

    But maybe it was the only way to jar us out of our complacency, the only way to escape final judgment as melodrama and instead getting the stamp of legitimately disturbing art.

    I'll let the readers argue if it does, but one can say it is a series ending that has never been done before in television, maybe the only way to go out unique, and maybe the only way to force the viewer to wake up (as this episode and maybe all this season started) and actually get something more out of the series as a whole.

  • Vision of hell?

    Answer: Well, of course. Per Alan Sepinwall:
    -A theory proposed by a reader of the Sopranos blog using the handle Lorbnash: the nine episodes of this season have represented the nine circles of Hell from Dante's "The Divine Comedy." The fourth circle, for instance, is for the greedy and the miserly; the fourth episode was Tony and Hesh's gambling showdown. The seventh circle is where the suicides go; A.J. took his dip in the family pool in episode seven. The ninth circle is for the traitors, and Butchie implicitly betrayed Phil. (For added fun, reader Joe Adler pointed out the similarities between the Eugene Delacroix painting "The Barque of Dante" and the Annie Leibovitz promotional image on the season five DVD set. Google them both if you want your mind blown.)
    Tony is a devil in his own hellish materialistic world, making the world hell for the rest of us to live in.
  • Tony was shot?

    Answer: Closure fetishists one and all, we gotta love this one.

    It's a classic build up without the money shot. It's true to the point of view of the series -- through Tony's eyes.

    He gets hit, his daughter coming through the door just in time to see it, his wife and son about to be splattered, a half-moment later. But why show that? What would be the point? So we can look down on them?

    There are clues.

    1. The pointed flashback just before the end of the previous episode to Bobby and Tony talking about it on the boat (symbol of Pussy's hit), how you don't see it coming, how everything might just go black.

    2. The ominous door. It was the second-to-last shot of the previous week's episode, dollying in on the door to Tony's bedroom in his safehouse, as if anyone could burst through at any moment and blast Tony away. The echo tonight in the bathroom door of the restaurant, or the front door itself.

    3. The suspense. Occam's razor, the simplest explanation for the build up. Metatext Chase just takes us right up to the moment, stops a millisecond short.

    4. The black. The scene is mainly shot-reverse-shot of Tony and what he sees, his POV. Final POV at the moment of death is, of course, blackness. Maybe the bells of the restaurant door opening (Meadow, Tony's little angel arriving) are heavenly peals signifying Tony's demise. But Chase has a much more pessimistic, one would argue material view of the world. When it's all over and a life is snuffed, all you get is a big nothing.
But in the end it's not what's shown that matters, it's what's in your head both due to Chase and to your own imagination.

Imagination like back in the day when we read books at night, before TV spread like a virus. (Title of the script Tony gives to A.J.: Anti-Virus.) Imagination that breaks out of traditional TV confinement.

We cut to black and the hit is on us; our precious series dead, along with our preconceptions of fairness. Tony's world never was fair, and Chase never allowed it to be so. After all, it's the Tonys of the world that win, isn't it, the ones with enough brains and few scruples who take and get away with it?

Wake up.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Dream Spice

I have been remiss in not writing about a Japanese animated feature for grown-ups that I saw this past Sunday night, Satoshi Kon's Paprika. There's really no equivalent to this genre in the U.S., as there have been no R-rated animated features here that I remember since the 1970's when Ralph Bakshi put out Fritz the Cat, Heavy Traffic and Coonskin. Kon's picture is almost PG-13, but there's a little nudity and maybe some language I can't recall. Mainly it is an intriguing science fiction concept executed artfully for the adult mind to try and untangle.

I'll admit that I'm not a dyed-in-the-wool anime fan, but I like me those Miyazaki movies like Totoro and Spirited Away, and have come to terms with the plot issues inherent, it seems, to anime. Paprika is a better than most, even as the basic premise lends itself to arbitrary twists and obscure endings.

The basic plot is that a young female scientist named Dr. Chiba (maybe a joke for the pothead in-crowd?) is working with a device called the DC Mini that allows her to enter into the dreams of patients as a kind of guardian angel/detective alter ego named "Paprika". Paprika has, like her namesake spice, red hair, while Dr. Chiba is a brunette. Both are dedicated to their work, but Paprika is less stern than the psychologist, and one of the elements that kept me thinking was the differences between the two characters, that we're not just seeing Chiba in the dreams but an entirely different person who is somehow a part of her.

The make or break aspect of the movie is Kon's vision of dream states and, in the case of Paprika, essentially lucid dreaming. I've previously found dream representations in film and television to be maybe 5% of the actual dreaming experience, usually just there to forward the plot or pull a trick moment on the audience. Paprika does a lot better, maybe averaging in the high 60% range, higher in the opening sequence and I think one other. Sure, it's animation, so the tools are there to make stuff like this work, but more importantly there is are some great instances of dream logic, where running towards an objective becomes impossible like molasses, when attempting to vault a rail leads to the rail morphing away in the hand as the dreamer enters the falling state, and those patented Nightmare on Elm Street lack of transitions between waking and dreaming that leave the viewer wondering whether the scene started in reality at all.

I haven't seen Kon's earlier work, all of which sounds just as adult but less obviously trippy, but I like the human moments he drops in, certain reaction shots with minimal or no animation that play on characterization in a way uncommon to animated features in Japan or the U.S. There's also a few twists near the end, a subtle one intimating who's schtupping who and an admirable, if not perfectly convincing, romantic one at the end.

I guess Paprika isn't for everyone. It's modern, it's pop, it's Japanese, it's animated. Anyone who's already an anime fan is likely to be pleased with this advance -- both stylistic and thematic -- in that field of moviemaking. For those looking for an entree into this constantly growing, eye-pleasing genre, here you go.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Order in the Court

Al Gore's new book, The Assault on Reason, cautions against a news culture dominated by such distractions from the truly crucial issues facing our country as Britney's rehab or Paris' jail time. But even Al would have to admit that the crazy reversals in Hilton's time served -- from three days in jail to two days at home to a distraught ride back to the poky today -- is about something significant. Like John Edwards has been saying since 2004, there are Two Americas, and it's just too much for the lucky America to get house arrest in a mansion on an estate for a crime that could easily have led to somebody else's child's death.

Paris Hilton was convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol, then violated the terms of her suspended driver's license twice, finally getting punished the second time. Ms. Hilton is known for no great public acts, no U.N. missions or adopting of Cambodian kids, nothing but the glorification of conspicuous consumption and objectified sexuality. So by she's slipping out of jail on the excuse of some unnamed medical condition (Cocaine addiction? Low thread-count sheets? Anxiety about public facilities?) she has engendered negative public sympathy.

Her tears of horror and being shipped back for maybe another twenty days hasn't helped her, either. We want our heroes to be strong, even if they violate the law and get punished. Especially. Compare to Robert Mitchum's 1948 arrest and conviction, from Pot Culture: Bob's Your Uncle:
Mitchum hired the hottest lawyer in Hollywood, Jerry Geisler, who managed to get his trial postponed until January 10, when he was found guilty of 'conspiracy to possess' marijuana. Despite submitting a written plea for probation - in which he did crawl somewhat to the judge - on 9 February, 1949, Mitchum was obliged to spend the next two months in the county jail. Laconic Bob wasn't too put out by it, though. A famous photograph records his reaction and Bob's sardonic expression says something like, 'Don't confuse me with someone who gives a shit'. He later described prison as being "like Palm Springs without the riff raff."

Mitchum was to cool to care. Photographs from the jail showed prisoner 91234 mopping floors, his quiff flopping over his famously lidded eyes. He did his time without complaining and emerged with his career miraculously intact after Howard Hughes of RKO bought out his contract and put out a shelved Mitchum movie, Rachel And The Stranger, to test public opinion. Audiences cheered and applauded whenever he appeared on the screen.

The pictures in the article tell the story, his hilarious hipster cool response to the verdict and the great publicity shot taken on the way out -- after his lawyer snuck in a newly pressed suit.

If I were the Hilton family I'd drop the stupid appeal and just make the girl serve the time before going back to a life of ruinous privilege and, if she's smart, a duck out of the public eye to a quick kingdom-merger marriage with some rich piece of Eurotrash who will keep her out of the country and away from any publicity at all.

Meanwhile, as discussed here as well, Irving Lewis "Scooter" Libby not only got the time from his judge, but in commenting on the letters of support by a host of notorious Neocon luminaries and fellow travelers in the most rarefied Washington air, Reggie B. Walton of Federal District Court in Washington has written what may go down in history as the most sarcastic footnote to a decision in American history (per paradocs at Kos:
It is an impressive show of public service when twelve prominent and distinguished current and former law professors of well-respected schools are able to amass their collective wisdom in the course of only several days to provide their legal expertise to the Court on behalf of a criminal defendant. The Court trusts that this is an indication of these eminent academics' willingness in the future to step to the plate and provide like assistance in cases involving any of the numerous litigants, both in this Court and throughout the courts of our nation, who lack the financial means to fully and properly articulate the merits of their legal positions even in instances where failure to do so could result in monetary penalties, incarceration, or worse. The Court will certainly not hesitate to call for such assistance from these luminaries, as necessary in the interests of justice and equity, whenever similar questions arise in the cases that come before it.

Mmm, I can't wait to see Robert Bork writing on behalf of Joe W. Schmoe the next time he's hauled in for lying to the FBI and obstructing Federal justice.

Bork, for those who haven't studied up, was Richard Nixon's Justice Department hack who carried out the orders that set the final self-destruction of that Administration in motion, the infamous "Saturday Night Massacre". He was then nominated to the Supreme Court by then President Ronald Reagan, and got voted down over his anti-abortion choice and anti-civil rights writings.

Now Bork is in legal news again. A strong proponent of "tort reform", aimed at reducing plaintiff rights and awards, he's now suing the Yale Club in NYC for $1,000,000 in compensatory + punitive damages. The charge the 80-year old Bork is leveling (per ACSBlog):

Judge Bork was scheduled to give a speech at the club, but he fell when mounting the dais, and injured his head and left leg. He alleges that the Yale Club is liable for the $1m plus punitive damages because they "wantonly, willfully, and recklessly" failed to provide staging which he could climb safely.
More evidence that we're living in the post-ironic age? Or just run-of-the-mill Conservative hypocrisy?

Nettertainment trusts that in this instance, just as with the two other cases cited herein, the court will deliver what we call, for lack of a better term...


Thursday, June 07, 2007


Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) have a bill to rescind the evil legislation signed by Bush with his GOP Senate enablers a year ago, the one that essentially suspended one of the bedrock rights our great nation was founded on, habeas corpus.

You know, post-9/11 thinking. You know, creeping fascism.

Habeas corpus means you have to be charged and know that charge. They can't just come and throw a bag over your head, and whisk you away into some unknown hellhole forever.

Let Keith Olbermann and his guest, Constitutional Law Professor Jonathan Turley explain it.

Oddly enough, all the Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee besides Specter voted against the bill. Voted against protecting our Constitution. Essentially voted against America.

Patriots or Tories?

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Most Dangerous

Goddamn if El Presidente George Bush isn't like some corporatist version of Maxwell Smart. Only so much more dangerous:
After a torrent of sharp exchanges, President Bush tried to stop a steep slide in relations with Vladimir Putin on Wednesday by saying Russia is not a menace to Europe despite a threat to aim missiles at the West.

"Russia is not going to attack Europe," the president said, brushing off Putin's warning that he would reposition Russian rockets in retaliation for an American-devised missile shield to be based in Poland and the Czech Republic.

"Russia is not an enemy," Bush emphasized. "There needs to be no military response because we're not at war with Russia."

A day before meeting privately with Putin here, Bush appeared eager to call a time-out in the bickering over everything from criticism about Russia's backslide on democracy to Putin's complaints about U.S.-backed independence for Kosovo and a supposed new arms race triggered by Washington.

This is the man Bush told us he looked in the eye and vouched for Putin on that genius move. Ah, Max. If only we could keep George under the Cone of Silence for another 19 months.

What a time to get into tiffs with Russia. They've got the oil and we've shown the world our ass in Iraq. Bad decision, bad execution -- the double whammy. Does anyone not think Putin is smarter than our current Narcissist-in-Chief?

Per Josh Marshall:

Is it possible that President Bush could bobble this back-and-forth with the Russians any worse than he has to date?...

...What is the president doing exactly? Can he be set up with a minder? Can the whole White House be set up with one, for that matter? We need an escalation in tensions with the Russians at the moment? We don't have our hands full? Can someone step in and help the White House exercise any degree of competence in this situation? It's bizarre and embarrassing and even dangerous.

George Bush is the most dangerous man in America, which by nature of the Presidency makes him arguably the most dangerous man in the world. His henchmen and women break the law. He doesn't really give a fuck about global warming, he just wants to dictate the terms. The only worse person might be...

...his Party's next nominee.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

1 Sentence

It's only the first, and there's always the chance the crime lord will pardon I mean break his soldier out of prison, but unless that happens it's just 30 days before Irving Libby will be scoot-scoot-scootering off to the poky for two and a half well-deserved years (eligible for release after two) of incarceration.

Then, $250,000 and two years of parole later, he'll have paid his debt to society for having perjured himself to a Federal agent, specifically lying to the FBI, a crime that would not be engendering calls for Presidential pardons if you or I had committed it.

Here's Irving doing the perp walk back from the sentencing. The judge seems disinclined to allow Irving to remain free pending appeal. So he has 30 days before walking in like Paris, only more dangerous to our Republic.

Irving Lewis Libby is a villain in the annals of history. His treasonous behavior, due it appears to personal and political loyalties over love of country, or perhaps the confusion of the two, has led us into a disastrous trumped-up war of choice, war of aggression, war of pure tragedy. He's guilty of the worst kind of idealism, the narcissistic one. Whether or not narcissistic to himself, and I don't have any doubts, certainly narcissistic to his Neoconservatism, his Neocon allies here and abroad, and most frighteningly to his liege, Richard Herbert Cheney.

Lewis is a Frank Nitti- type henchman figure, only much worse at his job. I can understand why his fellow scofflaws had sent the judge letters of support -- after all, like the mob, they value loyalty over law -- but while you expect Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, John Bolton, it's a little more unnerving to see the unindicted war criminal who brought us Christmas bombings in Cambodia, Henry Kissenger linking the generations, and how sad to see former rockin' Dem James Carville's name thrown in via his wife, GOP dragon lady Mary Matalin.

Obstructing a federal probe
. We're the ones who deserve the sympathy -- the American people, who sometimes against great and abused power only have the Constitution written by our Founding Fathers to aid us. Simple, moral, well-thought out, easy for a layperson to understand -- that's the beauty of our Constitution.

In the classic post-Vietnam War picture, The Deer Hunter, there's a key line uttered by DeNiro as an admonishment to the late great John Cazale:

Michael: Stanley, see this? This is this. This ain't something else. This is this. From now on, you're on your own.

This isn't a great noble heroic man. Look at all the dead in Iraq, us and their civilians, which is 99% of who's getting killed over there. The ends don't justify the means; the means just stoke the corruption of the ends.

This is this, Irving. This is a high crime, nothing else. We all know your bosses were directing the action, that of course they knew because it was their will and maybe someday they'll be punished, too, but you're the villain who carried it out.

We have laws like this because lying to a policeman is bad. We, as a society, have a vested interest in discouraging such actions, because it undermines the fundamental rule of law and, should it go unchecked, can lead to the downfall of the Republic.

You don't get to choose who gets to lie to the FBI, Scooter. That's not a power of yours under the Constitution, nor should it be.

This is this. From now on, Irving, be a man. Be on your own.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Tony America

Home stretch. I've been asked what do I think will happen in the final episode, and while I've been reading some predictions, imaginable ones, I only want to comment on this week's penultimate Sopranos episode.

It seems to me that the Presidential failure of George W. Bush was a godsend of metaphor for series creator/executive producer David Chase. There have been hints of the family's political leanings along the way, like when Carmela and Tony said thank God Bush was President during and after 9/11, with Carmela reading Fred Barnes' nincompoop sycophantic Rebel in Chief in bed, but never was the connection made more obvious than in this episode's comparison of the War in Iraq with Tony's long-gestating mob war.

The gimme is when A.J. comes down for breakfast and switches on Bush's war on the high-def TV, blasting the volume. His mother and sister are too intimidated by his recent suicide attempt to ask him to turn it down. Instead, the unpleasant violence of the war invades their home, all that continuing horror a direct consequence of supporting this President but something kept off the TV, outside the walls, under the rug. Even "compassionate" Meadow, who's book smart enough about oppression, doesn't care to hear it, a nuisance to her young bourgeois adulthood. And Carmela's been psychologically blocking the bloodshed that has perpetuated her lifestyle for years.

Now here's Tony, architect of his own decimation, his best soldiers gunned down dreaming of an America in the past that never exactly existed, just the narcissistic philosophical underpinning of their violent practices. Tony not only brought the war on himself with an overreaction to a slight of honor in which he attacked a tangental enemy, not the one actually perpetrating the violence against his crew, but the result has been nothing but loss for him. Just like Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld, his flawed leadership leads to his team botching an impossible mission, and in the end he's holed up in a stasis-like retreat, his forces markedly diminished, his weaknesses rather than his strength revealed to his enemy, left contemplating a shrinking range of very bad options.

It was salacious biographer Kitty Kelley who said in 2004 (Salon):
...nothing will stand in the way of these people winning. Nothing. You start out looking at the Bush family like it's "The Donna Reed Show" and then you see it's "The Sopranos."

In some ways Tony is the combo Bush/Cheney, with the latter's bullish bearing and the former's incapacity for taking personal responsibility. But the real difference between the two Bosses is that one's run ends next the Sunday.

The other's...not soon enough.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Tipping Point?

It's not like the latest news from surged-up Iraq is unusual or unexpected, although certainly hoped against, but I'm wondering if maybe support for Bush/Cheney's GOP policy there won't go further down the drain, with Republican Senators and Reps switching out well before September. Leaving just Joe Lieberman supporting those criminals and traitors.

Yes, May was the third worst month for U.S. soldier deaths (127) in Iraq since the start of the war (the worst since November 2004) and June is starting out just as badly.

Y'see, you put more of our soldiers (surge) into their civil war, you get more young American men and women killed. Not to mention Iraqi civilian slaughter (@ 2000 -- 29% over April).

So how do the Commanders in the field feel about the escalation (surge) so far (NY Times)?:
Three months after the start of the Baghdad security plan that has added thousands of American and Iraqi troops to the capital, they control fewer than one-third of the city’s neighborhoods, far short of the initial goal for the operation, according to some commanders and an internal military assessment...

...while military planners had expected to make greater gains by now, that has not been possible in large part because Iraqi police and army units, which were expected to handle basic security tasks, like manning checkpoints and conducting patrols, have not provided all the forces promised, and in some cases have performed poorly.That is forcing American commanders to conduct operations to remove insurgents from some areas multiple times...

...American commanders have also had to send troops outside the capital, to deal with a sharp rise in violence in Diyala Province and to search for American soldiers kidnapped south of the capital...

Is it a house of cards or too little too late?

Is this political death by a thousand cuts to El Presidente's greatest narcissism project?

Will enough Senators (67 needed) finally stop the madness?