Sunday, October 31, 2010

George Hickenlooper

On Saturday a good man, a friend and an unusually talented independent American filmmaker, George Hickenlooper, was found dead in a Denver hotel room, where he had just arrived from yet another successful pre-release event for his career-changing feature, Casino Jack. George was in Denver to be with his brother, John, who is running for Governor of Colorado. George was 47 years old and leaves behind his wife and young son.

George's untimely death is tragic at so many levels, both personal and professional, and his Facebook page has literally hundreds of wallposts from friends from all over. As a filmmaker he first made his name with the Emmy Award-winning Hearts of Darkness documentary taken from Eleanor Coppola's Apocalypse Now behind the scenes footage, and he was known for The Man from Elysian Fields (directing James Coburn, Anjelica Huston and, for God's sake, Mick Jagger, among others) and Factory Girl (a resonant vision of the 1960's Andy Warhol) along with his extraordinary series of black and white Web videos with major actors in support of the Writer's Strike several years ago.

Casino Jack, which I saw with George by his invitation at a private screening at CAA along with several other excellent filmmakers, is brilliant in being both raucously funny and a reliable telling of a true story, how Jack Abramoff fed the Bush-era GOP with scandalously dirty money. During the screening George would occasionally interject, to our laughter of disbelief, "That really happened." So one tragic aspect of this loss is that he died on the eve of his greatest triumph, an actor's director in an age of special effects directors, and there's no telling what he might have achieved with his new-found cachet.

It's a personal loss, moreso for friends of mine who have known George longer, but nonetheless as someone who was always engaging, personally solicitous and ever-ready to help with a needed connection or advice. And, of course, the greatest loss of all for his family, particularly his boy.

If you want to know what people who worked with him, received encouragement from him, sparred with him on the Web (where he was a participant in cinematic discussions) or simply knew him from his work or writing, check out these comments on Deadline and Hollywood Elsewhere. And here's George in his own words from Hollywood Elsewhere as well.

Rest in Peace, George. We lost you too soon.

Friday, October 29, 2010

GOTP Fascism Continued

So if know-nothings like Sarah Palin and Nevada GOP Tea Party Senate candidate Sharron Angle can't talk to the real (i.e. non-Faux News) press because they will be exposed for the dangerous losers that they are, do they still get to ban the press from talking to them as they walk away?

Witness Angle, who is running ahead of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in the polls, running away from answering substantive questions. (Embed issues -- click link for video.)

It's criminals that run from the press when leaving court. Not politicians running for office. At least not in a real democracy. And now her campaign has banned the free press from covering them. You know, another step towards a fascist state, if these 'baggers get their wins.

Meanwhile, corporate fascists in the McDonalds world are telling their workers how to vote -- or else:
The owner of a franchise in Canton, Ohio enclosed a handbill in employees' paychecks that threatened lower wages and benefits if Republicans don't win on Tuesday.

And the fascist jackboot intimidations keep on coming.


Meanwhile, President Obama actually keeps America safe.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Corruption Again

Did you know that the controversial anti-immigration law passed in Arizona this year was the product of lobbying by the private prison industry?

Did you know that the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico was primarily due to Halliburton's use of sub-standard cement?

Did you know that Tea Partiers don't know why they oppose things like Attorney General Eric Holder, they just do as they're told by their Fox News masters?

More to look forward to when the GOP takes the House.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Fascist State Ahead?

Here's an essential read by Sara Robinson on where the Tea Party may be taking us, "Fascist America: Is This Election The Next Turn?" A taste:
Paxton defined fascism as:

...a form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation or victimhood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion.

Paxton laid out the five basic lifecycle stages of successful fascist movements. In the first stage, a mature industrial state facing some kind of crisis breeds a new, rural movement that's based on nationalist renewal...

...In the second stage, the movement takes root, turns into a real political party, and seizes a seat at the table. Success at this stage, Paxton writes, "depends on certain relatively precise conditions: the weakness of a liberal state, whose inadequacies condemn the nation to disorder, decline, or humiliation; and political deadlock because the Right, the heir to power but unable to continue to wield it alone, refuses to accept a growing Left as a legitimate governing partner..."

...In the face of this deadlock, the corporate elites forge an alliance with rural nationalists, creating an unholy marriage that, if it continues, will soon breed a fascist state. And, of course, this is precisely what's happening now between the Koch Brothers, the oil companies, Americans for Prosperity, and the Tea Party.
Robinson goes on to lay out possible outcomes. Meanwhile, Harold Meyerson does the best job I've yet seen explaining why the Tea Partiers are exactly 180% wrong on the cause of our current problems and how to "get back" to the 1950's America they seem to idolize:
In the worldview of the American right -- and the polling shows conclusively that that's who the Tea Party is -- the nation, misled by President Obama, has gone down the path to socialism. In fact, far from venturing down that road, we've been stuck on the road to hyper-capitalism for three decades now. The Tea Partyers are right to be wary of income redistribution, but if they had even the slightest openness to empiricism, they'd see that the redistribution of the past 30 years has all been upward -- radically upward. From 1950 through 1980, the share of all income in America going to the bottom 90 percent of Americans -- effectively, all but the rich -- increased from 64 percent to 65 percent, according to an analysis of tax data by economists Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez. Because the nation's economy was growing handsomely, that means that the average income of Americans in the bottom 90 percent was growing, too -- from $17,719 in 1950 to $30,941 in 1980 -- a 75 percent increase in income in constant 2008 dollars.

Since 1980, it's been a very different story. The economy has continued to grow handsomely, but for the bottom 90 percent of Americans, it's been a time of stagnation and loss. Since 1980, the share of all income in America going to the bottom 90 percent has declined from 65 percent to 52 percent. In actual dollars, the average income of Americans in the bottom 90 percent flat-lined -- going from the $30,941 of 1980 to $31,244 in 2008.

In short, the economic life and prospects for Americans since the Reagan Revolution have grown dim, while the lives of the rich -- the super-rich in particular -- have never been brighter. The share of income accruing to America's wealthiest 1 percent rose from 9 percent in 1974 to a tidy 23.5 percent in 2007.

Try telling the Tea Party ideologues that it was the New Deal that created the mid-century prosperity they crave, while it was Reaganomics that took it away. But we've all known people in our lives who were passionately committed to the wrong information.

Too bad when that ardor means they may win control of our U.S. Congress.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Clutch Time

Okay, so if you're anywhere left of center -- or, with this year's batch to GOTP (Grand Old Tea Party), left of crazy -- you owe it to your nation to get out and vote. Here's the facts: nobody knows who's going to win this election. But we do know that:

Political Wire caught Mitch McConnell saying this to the National Review:

"The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president."

Catch that? Not, the single most important thing we want to achieve is to lower unemployment. Not, keep people in their homes. Not even, lower the deficit.

It's all politics to them. And their lies must be counteracted, per Dave Johnson, paraphrased by Electoral-Vote:
  1. Obama tripled the deficit (No: it is lower than in Bush's last budget)

  2. Obama raised taxes (No: the "stimulus" contained a big tax cut)

  3. Obama bailed out the banks (No: the bailout happened before Obama took office)

  4. The "stimulus" failed (No: the CBO estimates it created 1-3 million jobs)

  5. Businesses will hire if they get tax cuts (No: They will hire when they sell more products)

  6. Health-insurance reform will cost $1 trillion (No: the CBO says it will save $138 billion)

  7. Social security is a Ponzi scheme (No: it will continue to be solvent for 25 years)

  8. Government spending takes money out of the economy (No: government buys stuff and hires people)
What's interesting is that, now that he's getting out there, President Obama's approval rating is rising. He's pounding on the GOTP, as is former President Bill Clinton, whom the Republicans don't dare criticize when he comes to town:
Mr. Clinton is now perhaps his party’s most sought-after campaigner, going to parts of the country where Mr. Obama does not venture these days, including Arkansas, West Virginia, Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi and, on Monday, in his 105th event of the year, Texas.

Fifty-five percent of Americans viewed Mr. Clinton positively in a poll by NBC News and The Wall Street Journal last month, eight percentage points above Mr. Obama and the highest of 14 listed politicians or institutions.

What's interesting is that the Blue Dog Democrats, those conserva-Dems who gave progressives so much trouble with health and finance reform, are hurting the most. This mean more party-purging, not as brutal on the Left as on the Right, but likely to give us starker electoral choices in the future.

As for now, here's what the GOTP bring to America:

Nice job, Rand Paul supporters. "Curbing" is always in fashion for homegrown fascists ginned up by Beck and Tea. Step one in fascism is empowering the thug class.

And that's what we need you to vote against.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

High Corruption

How corrupt is the Republican side of our current U.S. Supreme Court? For starters, there's Justices Scalia and Thomas attending seminars put on by the hard-right wing energy corporation that's behind almost all of the the anti-climate change astroturf as well as organizing Republicans and their Tea Party subset while filling them with donations -- the very same donations allowed to flow unfettered and undisclosed per the "Citizens United" decision that Scalia and Thomas voted for.

And Thomas gets extra points for the decision opening up funding to his crazy wife's rightwing teabagging nut-causes. This is on top of the new revelation corroborating that Anita Hill was right, as an ex-girlfriend of Thomas' came forward regarding his obsession with pornography, large breasts and hunting for women at work. Depending on his denials in Senate testimony, would that be perjury?

But the most significant and potentially actionable accusation is that Chief Justice John Roberts is in the pocket of these corporate Republican interests, having called for review of the Citizens United case without having been asked by a lower court or plaintiffs -- taking it upon himself to open up our precious democratic election system to an endless flood of unchecked corporate special interest money:

"I mean, the Supreme Court has done a tremendous disservice to the United States of America," Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) told The Huffington Post on Tuesday. "They have done more to undermine our democracy with their Citizens United decision than all of the Republican operatives in the world in this campaign. They've opened the floodgates, and personally, I'm investigating articles of impeachment against Justice Roberts for perjuring during his Senate hearings, where he said he wouldn't be a judicial activist, and he wouldn't overturn precedents."


According to DeFazio, Roberts hasn't stood by his own doctrine. He pointed to former Justice John Paul Stevens's dissent in the case, in which he said the Citizens United case was not properly brought before the Supreme Court. "This procedure is unusual and inadvisable for a court," Stevens said of the process. "Our colleagues' suggestion that 'we are asked to reconsider Austin and, in effect, McConnell," ante, at 1, would be more accurate if rephrased to state that 'we have asked ourselves' to reconsider those cases."

"Justice Stevens makes the point that Roberts decided a case that wasn't even before the Court, and invited the issue before the Court," said DeFazio. "It was the most extraordinary condemnation I've ever read of a perverted majority on the Supreme Court, at least in recent years."

This is exactly the kind of low boil scandal that can surprise a nation before they know it. If some intrepid reporter finds some direct evidence of collusion, written or testimony, that Roberts was a defacto plant, forged during the Reagan Administration by Federalist Club funders, we could have an Allen Drury novel on our hands.

Will Chief Justice Roberts have his Richard Nixon moment?Link

Friday, October 22, 2010

Getting Better All the Time

In the wake of two recent gay teen suicides, journalist Dan Savage and his husband created the "itgetsbetterproject" where, beginning with the two of them, gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender adults post videos telling their own stories for the benefit of young people to let them know the pain, bullying, doubts and suffering they are going through right now are only temporary.

These videos are staggering in the emotion they inspire (which reaffirms my theory that we don't cry at tragedy as much as we cry at acts of goodness in the midst of injustice). There are dozens of them, maybe hundreds before long, a collection of citizen voices that shows the Web at its best. It is humanizing writ large.

Go dig for yourself, but here's a few of my favorites. This girl, in particular, is unbelievably articulate, inspiring and, ultimately, loving, movingly so in the final moments:

This video that just went live is from a collection of Google employees. I'm particularly impressed by the courage of the transgender participant, but the overall effect is so strong:

It makes me wonder if bigots watching this will decide to switch their search engine of choice. The following video by Dallas' Turtle Creek Chorale is interesting for a number of reasons. It's a large collection of voices, drawn from religious congregations in, yes, Texas, and when the actual performance starts we see the pictures of all too many gay kids who took their own lives -- the power of classical music to break our hearts, the power of this ensemble of strong, accomplished musicians en masse to strengthen them:

Lastly, my favorite President of my lifetime thus far:

I'd like to imagine El Presidente George W. Bush making a video like this during his Presidency. Or, had he won, President McCain. Or (fear it) imaginary President Palin.

But I can't.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Another Season Ends

My take on the Season Four final episode of Mad Men is: Who knows. The ambiguity is bigger than in previous years, because Megan is an unknown quantity. Aside from the depiction of suddenly falling in love as massive mutual narcissism, the door is wide open for next season (a painful 3/4 of a year from now) and the only guidance we have is Executive Producer Matthew Weiner's dictum that Mad Men is a show about people not getting what they want.

What's tricky here is that I don't sense the audience favors Megan. We're all a bit pissed at how Dr. Faye Miller nursed Don Draper back to health only to be cast off when the younger, more kid-friendly, bombshell appeared, as if out of nowhere. We suspect that Megan had a plan all along that sprang first when she offered Don a no-strings-attached office encounter. We don't believe she could possibly be as good as advertised. Even if she is a Canadian.

So here's some possibilities for things going wrong thanks to Don's impulsive proposal:
  • Megan follows through on her desire to be like Don and Miss Olson and moves into copywriting where, again as the prettier younger model, she gets an unfair amount of approval leading to Peggy finding her position threatened. One friend told me Megan seemed very All About Eve to her, and in this scenario Peggy has to keep looking over her shoulder.

  • Megan becomes Betty II, trapped in housewifery, anxious about what she's given up, even getting a little manipulative with the kids.

  • Betty melts down further and Don has to take custody, leading to Megan actually being the perfect little plot device. Then go to the previous point for what happens next.

  • Megan actually is all those things Don thinks she is, and more. Smart, empathetic, maybe she goes off to get a law degree, etc. And then she is killed in a horrific and avoidable accident. Don is never the same again -- shattered, no trust in the universe, back to old Don Draper (drinking, women) with a vengeance.
And what might you think will happen?


You can keep your Christine O'Donnell, your Sharon Angle. The biggest nutjob rigthwing woman is Victoria Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas:

In a voice mail message left at 7:31 a.m. on Oct. 9, a Saturday, Virginia Thomas asked her husband’s former aide-turned-adversary to make amends. Ms. Hill played the recording, from her voice mail at Brandeis University, for The New York Times.

“Good morning Anita Hill, it’s Ginni Thomas,” it said. “I just wanted to reach across the airwaves and the years and ask you to consider something. I would love you to consider an apology sometime and some full explanation of why you did what you did with my husband.”

Ms. Thomas went on: “So give it some thought. And certainly pray about this and hope that one day you will help us understand why you did what you did. O.K., have a good day.”

In Jewish parlance, we call this chutzpah. If not meshugenah. Where does Virginia Thomas get the gall to dig up Professor Hill's office number and leave her such a disrespectful message at 7:30am?

For the record, Ms. Hill said she's stands by her Senate hearing testimony regarding Thomas' inappropriate sexual remarks and pornographic movie references when she worked for him.

Virginia Thomas is a classic contemporary wingnut looking for her share of publicity:

Mrs. Thomas is a founder of a new nonprofit group, Liberty Central, which opposes what she has characterized as the leftist "tyranny" of the Obama administration and congressional Democrats.

She was a keynote speaker earlier this month in Richmond, Va., at a state convention billed as the largest tea party event ever.

God help us. But if her intention was to get in the cable news discussion, it seems to have backfired:
Ginni Thomas canceled her appearance on NPR’s and WBUR’s On Point — scheduled a week in advance — at the last minute. The interview would have lasted 20 minutes and aired nationally. Thomas’ publicist said she had a “scheduling conflict.”

“I’m horribly, horribly sorry,” the publicist said in an e-mail.

The producers “worked tirelessly” to book Thomas for a conversation about her very public involvement in the Tea Party, said John Wihbey, a producer.

Leave it to Andy Borowitz to offer on The New Yorker site, "Three Things to Do When Clarence Thomas' Wife Calls You":
  1. Start apologizing the moment you hear her voice. Remember, like a bear at a campsite, Virginia Thomas does not want to eat you, she’s only after your food, and in this case, your apology is the only thing protecting you from Mrs. Thomas mauling you to death. If apologizing does not work, clap your hands loudly into the receiver in the hopes of scaring her away.

  2. When she says, “This is Virginia Thomas,” reply, “No, this is Virginia Thomas. Who’s calling? Wait a minute—is that you, Anita Hill?” When she denies being Anita Hill (and she will), say, “There you go again, with your infernal lies. This is like Clarence’s confirmation hearings all over again. You disgust me, Anita Hill.” With any luck, accusing her of being Anita Hill will disorient her long enough for you to summon help.

  3. Get in the habit of answering your phone, “Long Dong Silver residence."

And if you feel like I do, sign here for Clarence to apologize to Anita.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Zucking It Up

I'm short on time and don't have a lot to add to the praise for The Social Network, which is a very entertaining movie and one that's more relevant than most. I think it's actually more of a comedy than a drama, a giddy rise-to-the-top with youth and speed, ending on an ironic note that's more up than down.

There are two things about the movie that I do want to highlight. One is that it's the first film I can remember, certainly a major Hollywood film, that gets enough of the start-up and venture capital scene right. The growth of the company from dorm room to dining room to offices is how it works, and while the angel investment scene is much shorter and easier than in real life, the dilution dangers are very real -- preferred shares vs. common shares, etc., even if not the mechanisms are not completely spelled out in the movie.

The other element I found interesting was how director Fincher and screenwriter Sorkin played with our empathy. We see Zuckerberg as a jerk in the beginning and often in his cutting asides to Savarin and others, but we're still rooting for him through most of the movie, especially against old lawyers in the deposition scenes. But the ambiguity is very interesting, including the sense that Savarin screwed himself by not coming to Palo Alto and staying to be CFO. My favorite example of how the movie plays with audience sentiment is in the Larry Summers scene. At first we're laughing along with Summers as he stonewalls the Winklevoss brothers with wit and contempt. But when the twins leave and one accidentally breaks off his doorknob, commenting on having broken a 300 (400?) year old doorknob and tossing it on the secretary's desk, they're the ones getting the big laugh against stuffy olde Harvard.

I do think that Mark Zuckerberg handles himself well in this interview snippet, although I wouldn't be surprised if he had either rehearsed the lines or been coached, or is just repeating something he's been telling a number of friends ever since seeing the movie:

Yep. The geeks shall inherit the earth.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Detroit Breakdown

David Byrne of the band I so wish would reunite, Talking Heads, has a terrific blog that he updates regularly with well-written essays on topics like the end of news and street level travelogues, illustrated with his own photography. A recent post in particular enthralled me, from his bicycle ride through that bizarre post-city that was once a thriving, bustling, roaring metropolis, Detroit.

The grand, empty buildings, the huge movie palace gutted and turned into a parking garage, the remnants of the Packard plant, the missing buildings -- this is what happens when a one-industry city loses that industry and half its population including all of its affluent.

It's a ghost town of sorts, and credit Byrne for riding through. A selection from his prose (and the photos are haunting):

One passes by massive abandoned condos and apartment buildings. In New York City these days we see empty condos—shiny victims of the boom and subsequent crash—symbols of the bubble and its craziness. But these buildings are different. Some of them are at least 50 years old, some are grand and elegant, and they tend to look as if everyone just left one day, walked out (kicked out more likely) and now the wind blows through the glassless windows. Why are all the windows gone?

In another universe these empty apartments would be offered to the destitute and the homeless as cheap housing. But in a city where more than half the population has left, maybe there just aren’t enough bodies to fill these things anymore.

In one neighborhood I came across a flock of pheasants, calmly grazing on seeds in the fields between houses. In some places these would be hunted for sport or food. A local artist has a line of T-shirts featuring Detroit wildlife. I heard that a dad was about to take his kid hunting on the upper peninsula (UP) where they would encounter wildlife, but the kid’s first glimpse of a pheasant was in central Detroit.

There's some good points
Some bad points
But it all works out
Sometimes I'm a little freaked out
Find a city
Find myself a city to live in...

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Tea Party Fascism

It appears that Grand Old Tea Party candidate for Senate in Alaska, Joe Miller, has a rather entitled private security detail:
The editor of the Alaska Dispatch website was arrested by U.S. Senate candidate Joe Miller's private security guards Sunday as the editor attempted to interview Miller on camera at the end of a public event in an Anchorage school.

Tony Hopfinger was handcuffed by the guards and detained in a hallway at Central Middle School until Anchorage police came and told the guards to release him.


Hopfinger, who was holding a small video camera, said he was attempting to get Miller to answer questions about why he was disciplined when he worked as a part-time attorney at the Fairbanks North Star Borough. He said he pushed the man away after he was surrounded by Miller supporters and security guards and felt threatened.
Miller is refusing to answer any questions about his past and now appears to be using force to avoid accountability. So much for any Conservative notions of personal responsibility.

Elect Miller and bring on the jackboots.

Sometimes the hypocrisy, whether ill-informed or intentional, of these self-proclaimed heirs to Sam Adams and his fellow anti-colonialists is enough to make me sick.

How I'd like for the Left to take back this traditionally Progressive ground.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Extreme Promo

Is TBS building up more than Conan can deliver? If they can capture some of the freedom and energy of his promos, they win. This one, for example -- the hardest thing to do is make big explosions and fx funny, but I laughed with this:

Here's hoping that Conan O'Brien's move to TBS turns out to be the smartest move he could have made and points the way to the future of late night talk.

Heroes Stewart and Colbert excepted, of course.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

GoOfy P!

Christine O'Donnell is Alicia Silverstone in Clueless:

She also claimed in the same debate that we didn't "finish the job" when we fought the Russians in Afghanistan (hey wha? Maybe if she means funding the Mujahideen and empowering Bin Laden, then sorta) but you get the sense she might be confused with finishing the job in Iraq. Or something.

Another wacky GOP Senate nominee, John Raese in Virginia, has pegged the number of space lasers we need to defend America at 1,000. I don't know about you, but I prefer one thousand death lasers to be aimed away from me.

And poor wackbagger Carl Paladino, running for NYS Governor, can't catch a break. Yesterday he apologized for some of (and certainly not all) of his anti-gay speech to the ultra-orthodox Jewish group in Brooklyn, so today the Rabbi of that group, Yehuda Levin, withdrew his endorsement:

The rabbi, Yehuda Levin, who helped write those remarks, said Mr. Paladino “folded like a cheap camera” because of the uproar they had set off. And the rabbi said he could no longer support Mr. Paladino’s candidacy for governor of New York.

“Which part of the speech that you gave in Brooklyn to the Orthodox Jewish community are you apologizing for?” Rabbi Levin asked at a news conference in front of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, on Fifth Avenue. “Will we see you next year with your daughter at that gay pride march?”

Well, that would be a happy outcome. But the Rabbi showed how small his world really is:

Rabbi Levin said Wednesday that Mr. Paladino probably did not write his apology either. He suggested that “militant gays” wrote it and handed it to a na├»ve Mr. Paladino.

Because that's what they do, right, Rebbe?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Another Banksy Shot

If you haven't seen it yet, here it is, the Banksy-directed, Dickensian opening to The Simpsons from this past week:

My favorite part has to be the panda as drayhorse. For those who missed it, the Nettertainment piece on the Banksy movie, Exit Through the Gift Shop.

It's his year!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Thank Glenn

Byron Williams, a 45-year-old ex-felon, exploded onto the national stage in the early morning hours of July 18.

According to a police investigation, Williams opened fire on California Highway Patrol officers who had stopped him on an Oakland freeway for driving erratically. For 12 frantic minutes, Williams traded shots with the police, employing three firearms and a small arsenal of ammunition, including armor-piercing rounds fired from a .308-caliber rifle.


In an affidavit, an Oakland police investigator reported that during an interview at the hospital, Williams "stated that his intention was to start a revolution by traveling to San Francisco and killing people of importance at the Tides Foundation and the ACLU."

What or who could possibly drive a man to such evil?

"I would have never started watching Fox News if it wasn't for the fact that Beck was on there. And it was the things that he did, it was the things he exposed that blew my mind." - Byron Williams
Yep - Beck targeted the Tides Foundation on his show.


Sunday, October 10, 2010

GOTP Hate Speech

The Grand Old Tea Party candidate for Governor of New York State, Carl Paladino, met with Orthodox Jewish supporters in Brooklyn today and gave a gay-bashing speech:
“I just think my children and your children would be much better off and much more successful getting married and raising a family, and I don’t want them brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid and successful option — it isn’t,” he said, reading from a prepared address, according to a video of the event.

And then, to applause at Congregation Shaarei Chaim, he said: “I didn’t march in the gay parade this year — the gay pride parade this year. My opponent did, and that’s not the example we should be showing our children.” reported that Mr. Paladino’s prepared text had included the sentence: “There is nothing to be proud of in being a dysfunctional homosexual.” But Mr. Paladino omitted the sentence in his speech.

Awesome timing, Carl, given the recent suicide of a gay Princeton freshman when his roommate broadcast his intimate moments on the Web. While the audience he met with may have approved (and I'd bet any closeted homosexuals in the audience were clapping the loudest), this isn't a message likely to resonate well with NYS voters, and I'm looking forward to seeing the next poll numbers.

The American Prospect has a very interesting interview with Simon Rosenberg of the progressive NDN think tank where he states:

You've got trend lines where one party is dropping and one party is gaining -- it's indisputable at this point. If you're a Republican right now, and you look at this environment, the party that's dropping a month out usually loses. If you're a candidate or a political party in a close election and you're dropping a month out, and the other guy's rising, you usually lose, because those dynamics are very hard to adjust.

Rosenberg's reasoning is that the GOP have shown themselves unready to lead, with their "Pledge" DOA and too many fringe candidates -- like Paladino. But he also speaks directly to the Democratic failure of message and moment:

Part of what went wrong with the Democrats in the last two years is that too many Democrats have political Stockholm syndrome. Many Democrats grew up in an era with a conservative politics that was ascendant and center-left politics was in decline. What happened in 2008 was the conservative jailers left, and were defeated, the door to the ideological jail opened up, the sun was shining, the Democrats could leave, and they didn't leave.

Amen, brother. Which is why we need to elect Dems like Alexi Giannoulias, running for President Obama's old Senate seat in Illinois. He shut down opponent Republican Mark Kirk in 55 seconds -- Kirk still hasn't answered Giannoulias' question face-to-face on Meet the Press Sunday morning:

So Congressman, saying you're a fiscal hawk doesn't necessarily make it true, and your voting record proves that it's not true.

The question is – for the congressman – the $700 billion in tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans – we don't have $700 billion – so my question for the congressman is which country do you plan on borrowing $700 billion from? The Saudis? China?

Because there is no answer.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Tea for Adolf

Y'know, you can't paint that whole reactionary Tea Party with the racist paintbrush. But sometimes...the story just writes itself:

The Atlantic's Josh Green reports that millionaire businessman Rich Iott, the Republican nominee challenging Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D) in Ohio's Ninth District, has an unusual hobby: He likes to pretend he's a Nazi.

Iott, a tea party-backed candidate, spent time fighting another battle before he hit the campaign trail against Kaptur as a member of the 5th SS Wiking Panzer Division, a group of Ohio World War II reenactors.

According to their website, the Wikings strive to "salute" the "idealists" from occupied northern Europe who saw the Third Reich as "the protector of personal freedom and their very way of life" and signed up to fight for the Wermacht and "gave their lives for their loved ones and a basic desire to be free."

I'm guessing that we can say Mr. Iott's Congressional hopes...auf wiedersehen?

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Good as (Acapulco) Gold

Over on Andrew Sullivan's blog, they're comparing the price of marijuana to the price of gold. Fun stuff, including:
Pot retails for about $300 an ounce IN CALIFORNIA. West Coast pot (I'm from Eugene, Oregon - whaddup!) is famous throughout not just the US but the world. If I take an ounce of medical grade pot, put it in my trunk, and drive it to Texas or the East Coast, I could charge $500 or $600 for the ounce and sell it in hours.

Most useful, this handy chart compares the price of weed across the continental U.S.:

Once again, as Jim Morrison once said, "The West is the best."

And Canada looks pretty green.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Easy One

Conan is funny. I hope he keeps the beard:

He's unleashed. Hope he takes it somewhere special.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

The Narcissism of the Baggers

Matt Taibbi has another blistering story in the latest issue of Rolling Stone, this one about his adventures at Tea Party rallies and explaining how they were fueled to prominence and whatever cohesion they have by corporate interests and Republican insiders. By far the most compelling stuff is his take on the partiers themselves:

"Let me get this straight," I say to David. "You've been picking up a check from the government for decades, as a tax assessor, and your wife is on Medicare. How can you complain about the welfare state?"

"Well," he says, "there's a lot of people on welfare who don't deserve it. Too many people are living off the government."

"But," I protest, "you live off the government. And have been your whole life!"

"Yeah," he says, "but I don't make very much." Vast forests have already been sacrificed to the public debate about the Tea Party: what it is, what it means, where it's going. But after lengthy study of the phenomenon, I've concluded that the whole miserable narrative boils down to one stark fact: They're full of shit. All of them. At the voter level, the Tea Party is a movement that purports to be furious about government spending — only the reality is that the vast majority of its members are former Bush supporters who yawned through two terms of record deficits and spent the past two electoral cycles frothing not about spending but about John Kerry's medals and Barack Obama's Sixties associations. The average Tea Partier is sincerely against government spending — with the exception of the money spent on them. In fact, their lack of embarrassment when it comes to collecting government largesse is key to understanding what this movement is all about..

He goes into the funding behind the Tea Party, etc., some of which you may have read before, and then digs into the race angle:

It would be inaccurate to say the Tea Partiers are racists. What they are, in truth, are narcissists. They're completely blind to how offensive the very nature of their rhetoric is to the rest of the country. I'm an ordinary middle-aged guy who pays taxes and lives in the suburbs with his wife and dog — and I'm a radical communist? I don't love my country? I'm a redcoat? Fuck you! These are the kinds of thoughts that go through your head as you listen to Tea Partiers expound at awesome length upon their cultural victimhood, surrounded as they are by America-haters like you and me or, in the case of foreign-born president Barack Obama, people who are literally not Americans in the way they are.

It's not like the Tea Partiers hate black people. It's just that they're shockingly willing to believe the appalling horseshit fantasy about how white people in the age of Obama are some kind of oppressed minority. That may not be racism, but it is incredibly, earth-shatteringly stupid.

Taibbi describes the scene in Kentucky, where Rand Paul is the #1 Tea Party idol, even though he's lived off government largesse via Medicare payments that he hypocritically does not want to see cut to doctors, all the time getting more and more cozy with and castrated by the Republican Party establishment that he ran against in the primary:

With all the "just for the primary" stuff out of the way, Paul's platform began to rapidly "evolve." Previously opposed to erecting a fence on the Mexican border, Paul suddenly came out in favor of one. He had been flatly opposed to all farm subsidies; faced with having to win a general election in a state that receives more than $265 million a year in subsidies, Paul reversed himself and explained that he was only against subsidies to "dead farmers" and those earning more than $2 million. Paul also went on the air with Fox News reptile Sean Hannity and insisted that he differed significantly from the Libertarian Party, now speaking more favorably about, among other things, judicious troop deployments overseas.

Beyond that, Paul just flat-out stopped talking about his views — particularly the ones that don't jibe with right-wing and Christian crowds, like curtailing the federal prohibition on drugs. Who knows if that had anything to do with hawkish Christian icon Sarah Palin agreeing to headline fundraisers for Paul, but a huge chunk of the candidate's libertarian ideals have taken a long vacation.

I've long thought Rand Paul a lightweight/milquetoast, especially compared to his very honest and mostly consistent father, Ron. Rand looks so weak next to his Democratic opponent for Senate, Jack Conway, Kentucky Attorney General and a guy who has the bearing of a sheriff:

If Rand were a Dem he's be laughed out of Kentucky -- too weak-looking for that state or many others -- but it's a crazy year and the South is crazy Republican right now.

Y'know, the worst thing that could happen to the Tea Party isn't necessarily that all their candidates lose. It's that enough of them win to take the bloom off the rose by the next General Election.

Too bad it'll be hell on America.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Burn Her?

There's an old saying in politics that when you smear an opponent with a lie, they have to waste time and oxygen defending against it, pulling themselves off message.

But how about when a politician (or an endlessly aspiring one) does it to herself? Like Delaware Republican Senate nominee Christine O'Donnell who, years ago on Bill Maher's Politically Incorrect, talked about dabbling in witchcraft even more years ago. And how she (and her campaign) perceives so much real danger that maybe she'll lose her core (nutbag) supporters that she opens her campaign ad by denying that she's a witch:

I'm wondering if the ad might have the opposite effect and, instead of neutralizing the witch-fear, actually stoke it. After all, it's all too pat how she denies her witchhood, then switches the subject to make it seem that she's "just like you." Hell, I'm not a witch!

And I don't have secret information that I can't reveal about China taking over the U.S., either.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Down at the Saloon

Wild west time in four states where the NRA has enough GOoPers in the legislature to make it legal to bring your (permitted) handgun into any bar or restaurant. One must be reminded:
“Guns and alcohol don’t mix; that’s the bottom line,” said Michael Drescher, a spokesman for Governor Phil Bredesen of Tennessee, a Democrat, who vetoed the bill but was overridden by the legislature.

So far there's been one patron who shot himself in the foot while drinking. Can't wait for the shootouts!

Friday, October 01, 2010

Proud to Be CA

If I knew he was going to do something like this, I would have supported Gov. Schwarzenegger a long time ago:
Yesterday, outgoing California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed Senate Bill 1449 —which reduces adult marijuana possession charges from a criminal misdemeanor to a civil infraction...

...Senate Bill 1449 amends the California Health and Safety Code so that the adult possession of up to 28.5 grams of marijuana is classified as an infraction, punishable by no more than a $100 fine — no court appearance, no court costs, and no criminal record.Passage of this bill will save the state millions of dollars in court costs by keeping minor marijuana offenders out of court.

The number of misdemeanor pot arrests has surged in recent years, reaching 61,388 in 2008.

Fiscally responsible, libertarian in nature, socially evolved...bravo, Governator!

And especially for calling out the oil companies trying to gut our new environmental laws by throwing major dollars at a dastardly proposition on the ballot in November:

I wonder what will be next for Arnold after his term ends this year. A position in the Obama Administration?