Friday, April 29, 2011

Block Buster

I've been enjoying those trailers for the new Fast Five movie. Hollywood talent:

Today Now! Interviews The 5-Year-Old Screenwriter Of "Fast Five"

C'mon, Oscar!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


As of today, it is the most famous birth certificate in modern world history:

See how it glows and undulates, offering those with fixed opinions plenty of opportunities to hold onto their irrational, hatred-driven blindness. For, after all:

Props to Lawrence O'Donnell for calling out his bosses at NBC Television on the racist agenda of Donald Trump.

You know, that entrepreneur with the "great relationship with the blacks."

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Will she bring it?

My fave was great last week, Haley Reinhart taking a big risk with Adele's "Rolling in the Deep" and hitting it strong:

The version posted above is the best quality, but this one has the quarter-million views and counting, not to mention 1,545 comments and counting. That's bigger than any competitors from the week, with all video versions added up making more than 500k views.

For good measure, the studio version is has a bit of a different flavor:

The question is whether tonight (Wednesday night) Haley brings the goods to Carole King theme week on Idol, and if she can keep out of the bottom three. The fan base has been building, but will a more silent (country music loving) majority knock her out of the competition for good?

Even Idol legend Adam Lambert says he can't wait for her record. Time for Haley to take a big, winning risk and scoop it up...otherwise, also-ran.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Rhode Island Green

Another day, another Republican caught in a scandal of his own hypocrisy:

House Minority Leader Robert Watson was arrested Friday at a police checkpoint in East Haven, Conn.

The Journal says the police report alleged that the Republican lawmaker's eyes were "extremely glassy and bloodshot" and that he smelled of alcoholic beverages as well as the "distinct odor of marijuana."

The police report said the officer found a "small plastic sandwich bag containing a green leafy plant-like substance and a small wooden marijuana smoking pipe" on Watson after his arrest.


The lawmaker drew fire in February after saying, in reference to the state General Assembly, "I suppose if you're a gay man from Guatemala who gambles and smokes pot, you probably think that we're onto some good ideas here."

What's next -- revelations that Watson is actually gay...or maybe from Central America?

Has anyone seen a real copy of his birth certificate?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Weakening Tea

The Tea Party may never have been the political force the Faux media built it up to be and the mainstream media swallowed, but now they seem to be diminishing in activism:

This is coming at the same time that Republican overreach in Wisconsin and other states, and especially with the Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) Reverse-Robin-Hood Budget ending Medicare, is causing them to take unexpected heat:
It's August, 2009 again. Except this time the disgruntled town meeting attendees aren't teabaggers, they're everybody. And the targets are now Republicans. Here's Rep. Pat Meehan (R-PA), at a town hall meeting facing constituents over a broken campaign promise to not privatize Medicare. An angry constituent confronts him: "If you voted to abolish Medicare, how would you explain that to people in their 50′s out of a job?!"
There are more examples in the link above. Could this be the turning point that wins the 2012 election for Obama -- and maybe weakens the GOP hold on the House, if not outright flipping it again?

Check out the new ad:

And since, hey, 70% of self-identified Tea Partiers oppose cuts to Medicare and Medicaid, one has to wonder...what is the GOP leadership thinking today?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Wind Power

This kind of shocked me -- the first U.S. offshore wind farm has been approved:
I'm not sure how this slipped under the radar, but on Tuesday, the Cape Wind project in Nantucket Sound cleared its final hurdle -- the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) approved a Construction and Operations Plan (COP) submitted by Cape Wind Associates back in October of 2010.
What is all means:
The project consists of 130, 3.6 megawatt wind turbine generators covering approximately 25 square miles in federal waters offshore Massachusetts with the maximum capacity to produce about 468 megawatts. The average expected production from the wind facility could provide about 75 percent of the electricity demand for Cape Cod and the Islands of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. At average expected production, Cape Wind could produce enough energy to power more than 200,000 homes in Massachusetts.
Seriously, America, this is the first?

I guess that puts us still well behind Europe.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Unhappy Anniversary

What do we have in the Gulf of Mexico one year after the hugest oil spill in memory, courtesy of BP et al?

That tragedy is the ill and declining health of the Gulf of Mexico, including the enormous dead zone off the mouth of the Mississippi and the alarmingly rapid disappearance of Louisiana’s coastal wetlands, roughly 2,000 square miles smaller than they were 80 years ago. Few here would take issue with the commission’s question, but the answer to it is far from resolved.

Eclipsed by the spill’s uncertain environmental impact is the other fallout: the vast sums in penalties and fines BP will have to pay to the federal government. In addition to criminal fines and restitution, BP is facing civil liabilities that fall roughly into two categories: Clean Water Act penalties and claims from the Natural Resource Damage Assessment process, whereby state and federal agencies tally the damage caused by the spill and put a price tag on it. This could add up to billions, perhaps tens of billions, of dollars.

It doesn't seem like a year -- mainly because of the time it took to cap the gusher. But it seems that there's something worse happening to our oceans, of which the spill is but one contributor:

That CO2, of course, leads to global warming and climate change, as well as what’s called ocean acidification, which might be thought of as oceanic global warming and is a greater catastrophe than any spill to date. The oceans absorb about 30 percent of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, creating carbonic acid. Since the start of the industrial revolution we’ve added about 500 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide to the oceans, which are 30 percent more acidic than they were a couple of hundred years ago.

This acidification makes it difficult for calcifying organisms — coral, snails and oysters and other mollusks, and more — to build shells and skeletons sturdy enough for them to survive. Many of these are on the bottom of the food chain and, as they begin to die off (we’ve already seen massive oyster declines on the Pacific coast), the effects trickle up. Acidification has already wreaked havoc on coral reefs, on which about 25 percent of all marine life depends. By the end of this century, Safina says, the ocean will begin dissolving coral reefs — unless we make a big change in our fossil-fuel use.

If acidification endangers marine life leisurely, fishing does it quickly. Around 70 percent of global fish stocks are fully or overfished, and 30 percent have collapsed, which means they produce less than 10 percent of their original capacity. Commercial fish catch has declined by 500,000 tons per year since 1988, not for lack of effort, money or technology — in fact because of those factors — but for lack of fish. The danger becomes dual, says Danson: “If you’re overfishing at the top of the food chain, and acidifying the ocean at the bottom, you’re creating a squeeze that could conceivably collapse the whole system.”

Why does it feel that Cormac McCarthy was all too prescient?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Norse People

Two great pieces of entertainment -- last night the psychotically good first episode of HBO's Game of Thrones and tonight out at the theater amazed how good and suspenseful I found Joe Wright's Hanna. In both cases, crucial stretches of the movie are in some snow covered forest, the northern something or other, and what living in a land like that forges into people.

Starting off in an arctic place, Saoirse Ronan is now the first serious action star of her generation:

Really a treat in the theater -- particularly Cate Blanchett so nasty and some amazing long, flowing action takes, one with Eric Bana in particular -- great to watch. Bond with a soul.

Leave it to the northerners to bring. it.

Haley Fever

Ever since last Thursday night I haven't been able to stop watching this at least a couple times each day:

The last time this happened to me was when Ms. Haley Reinhart surprised everybody and had her first ever Idol "moment":

Haley clearly has chops, she's showing growth, and she's never been heavily touted, barely making the Top 12. But now she's the one I'm rooting for, hopefully in a final against James Durbin, the two with the most amazing voices and most rock & roll soul.

There's this thing with her where she's got the earthy growls and runs, and with her jazz background she's skipping so close to the edge, you think she's not going to make the note, that her voice can't handle it. But she can.

Here's something they didn't even show on TV -- not sure how it leaked out. One of my all-time favorite songs, "Baby It's You" performed solo with just keyboard accompaniment in her final Hollywood Week elimination:

Very classic in a way, throwback to girl group greatness, that kind of supple voice and good jazz & blues training. Her iTunes recordings are even better in some ways, does some different things with her voice than onstage, where she has to deal with movement as well. But she's just 20, so there's time to train.

What's great is that she's got a distinct but beautiful instrument to listen to, she's got chops, she's got taste, she's got variety and when she goes out there the audience is sensing that she's giving her all. The number of views she has are huge and the comments have exploded since "Moanin'."

I've finally got a horse in the race this year

Haley FTW.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Donald and the Birthers

He's not declaring his candidacy for President until the final episode of this season's Celebrity Apprentice, which makes sense since the show's rating have gone up every since he started beating the drum for birtherism.

I'm on the fence right now whether Donald Trump's taking brand control of the evil teabagger birther smear is a bad or good thing for America. On one hand, I don't like seeing it back in the news, either reinforcing this misapprehension/prejudice or sparking more belief in weak, hyper-partisan or bigoted minds. However, since Trump is such an outsized figure of ridicule, it might kill it once and for all. Maybe he can make it a task next season -- "Convince the most people of this racist lie."

And if you don't think race has anything to do with it, check out the latest evidence, an email sent by an Orange County GOP official:
Today’s installment of “heinous, unacceptable racism disguised as ‘jokes’” features a Republican official on Orange County, California, President Obama, and monkeys in photoshop. GOP official Marilyn Davenport is coming under fire for sending other Republican officials an email depicting President Obama as a chimpanzee, in the arms of chimpanzee “parents,” claiming, “Now you know why– no birth certificate! [sic].” Davenport is sticking to her guns, blaming the media for making too much of a fuss.

Among Davenport’s detractors (including, one would hope, “everyone else”), local news station KCAL caught up with former California Republican chairman Michael Schroder, who correctly posited: “no average person would send this out and feel comfortable with this, that this was just a joke.” Then again, Schroder also notes Davenport doesn’t come into this embarrassment with a clean slate– among the people in Orange County Republican politics she has defended are an official who sent an email with an illustration of the White House covered in watermelons and an official who opposed the installation of grass near beaches on the point that “grass attracts Mexicans.”

As for Trump, he can't say it's true, just sneakily imply that if it's being talked about, there must be something to it:

Opportunistic as always, Donald. But whether or not he leads the GOP field as some polls show, he's got more than his double comb-over working against him. There's that little problem of fiscal responsibility -- he's declared corporate bankruptcy four times.

Of course, none of those led to personal bankruptcy.

Not in corporate feudalistic America.

Thursday, April 14, 2011


Colbert strikes again. Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) lied openly on the Senate floor about Planned Parenthood, claiming that 90% of Planned Parenthood's services are abortions. When his office was called with the FACT that the actual figure is 3%, they claimed that Sen. Kyl's remarks into the official Congressional record were, in fact, "not intended to be a factual statement." In other words, Sen. Jon Kyl is officially a liar.

For Colbert, of course, who coined the phrase "truthiness" as the lies that feel true due to fitting our steadfast preconceived ideology, hence repeated over and over by organs of the Right like Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Michelle Bachman, Sarah Palin, etc. until George Orwell spins all the way out of his grave and straight into Newt Gingrich's skull. Birtherism is truthiness. I'd argue that 90% of Tea Party nonsense is as well. And some of you would tell me that's being generous.

The upshot is an hilarious Colbert bit that didn't stop here:

Colbert by tweeting hilariously ridiculous lies about Sen. Kyl with the hashtag as his fig leaf:
  • Jon Kyl is an accomplished nude hula dancer. He is not welcome in Hawaii. #NotIntendedToBeAFactualStatement
  • For the past 10 years, Jon Kyl has been two children in a very convincing Jon Kyl suit. #NotIntendedToBeAFactualStatement
  • Jon Kyl cheated on Sandra Bullock. #NotIntendedToBeAFactualStatement
  • Once a year, Jon Kyl retreats to the Arizona desert and deposits 2 million egg sacs under the sand. #NotIntendedToBeAFactualStatement
  • Citing religious reasons, Jon Kyl refuses to utter the number 8. #NotIntendedToBeAFactualStatement
  • Jon Kyl once ate a badger he hit with his car. #NotIntendedToBeAFactualStatement
  • Carly Simon wrote that song about Jon Kyl. #NotIntendedToBeAFactualStatement
  • Legally, Jon Kyl cannot be within 100 yards of Helen Mirren. #NotIntendedToBeAFactualStatement
  • Jon Kyl has a shrine to Scooter from the Muppet Show. #NotIntendedToBeAFactualStatement
  • Jon Kyl developed his own line of hair care products just so he could test them on bunnies. #NotIntendedToBeAFactualStatement
  • Jon Kyl was sent from the future to kill Sarah Conner. #NotIntendedToBeAFactualStatement
  • Which was then picked up all over the Twittosphere by fans who invented their own, and now by Senate Democrats themselves. And on the Senate floor by new fan favorite, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand even got into the act:

    “For my friends and colleagues, this is a factual statement,” Gillibrand said. “Current law already prevents federal money from paying for abortions. This has been the law of the land for over 30 years. Shutting down the government for a political argument is not only outrageous, it is irresponsible. The price for keeping the government open is this assault on women’s rights.”

    And yes, I got into it as well:

    What's about it is that today's GOP, for the most part, lies every day, big ones. Like the lying budget assumptions behind Rep. Paul Ryan's Republican budget -- the killing of Medicare, the lowering of taxes on the rich from 35% to 25%. Like Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who admitted he lied (by omission) in his campaign and lied bald-faced as Governor in his arguments for passing a ban on collective bargaining by public unions:
    Asked if he had really campaigned on a plan to roll back collective bargaining rights, Walker repeatedly danced around the question, insisting he had campaigned on a “range” of promises to impose fiscal discipline. But Connolly kept pressing the point, and finally asked him point blank: Did you “explicitly” campaign on this proposal?

    “No,” Walker conceded. He then went on to repeat his claim that he campaigned on a range of issues, and insistted that Wisconsinites should not have been surprised by his plan because his views on collective bargaining had long been known.


    KUCINICH: Let me ask you about some of the specific provisions in your proposals to strip collective bargaining rights. First, your proposal would require unions to hold annual votes to continue representing their own members. Can you please explain to me and members of this committee how much money this provision saves for your state budget?

    WALKER: That and a number of other provisions we put in because if you’re going to ask, if you’re going to put in place a change like that, we wanted to make sure we protected the workers of our state, so they got value out of that. [...]

    KUCINICH: Would you answer the question? How much money does it save, Governor?

    WALKER: It doesn’t save any.
    Way to go, Scottie! You're no Tricky Dick, that's for sure.

    A long but entertaining list of GOP #NotIntendedToBeAFactualStatements here, click for explanations:
    The Not Intended to be Factual Party. Someone is finally calling them out.

    Starting with Sen. Jon Kyl's staff calling him out themselves.

    Wednesday, April 13, 2011

    Tax the Rich Pt III

    Okay, this will do -- take this passage, from the President's speech today:

    "Of course, there will be those who disagree with my approach. Some will argue we shouldn't even consider raising taxes, even if only on the wealthiest Americans. It's just an article of faith for them. I say that at a time when the tax burden on the wealthy is at its lowest level in half a century, the most fortunate among us can afford to pay a little more. I don't need another tax cut. Warren Buffett doesn't need another tax cut. Not if we have to pay for it by making seniors pay more for Medicare. Or by cutting kids from Head Start. Or by taking away college scholarships that I wouldn't be here without. That some of you wouldn't be here without. And I believe that most wealthy Americans would agree with me. They want to give back to the country that's done so much for them. Washington just hasn't asked them to."

    The speech is not his most eloquent, just super smart and super refreshing:

    Poor Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) is fighting to get the most attention and be the brightest John Galt in the room after releasing his feudalistic budget last week:

    Reacting to Obama’s Wednesday speech on deficit reduction, Ryan said that he was first “excited,” then “naively optimistic,” then “disappointed,” then “sad” and finally, in the end, “sincerely disappointed.”

    “I was excited when we got invited to attend his speech today,” Ryan, who authored the Republican budget proposal unveiled last week, said just hours after returning from George Washington University where he was given a front row seat for Obama’s address. “I thought the president’s invitation…was an olive branch. Instead, what we got was a speech that was excessively partisan, dramatically inaccurate, and hopelessly inadequate to address our countries fiscal challenges.”

    As if Ryan's feed the rich/starve the rest of us budget wasn't hyperpartisan? With this speech, Obama has lashed the GOP to the budget of their own making, and the U.S. public is against whatever Ryan and his fellow Republicans think they are selling. Per this week's USA Today survey:

    • Are split over whether there should be significant additional cuts in domestic spending: 47% say no, 45% yes. On this issue, there is a yawning divide between the parties. Democrats by 2-to-1 oppose more cuts; Republicans by 2-to-1 support them.

    • Overwhelmingly oppose making major changes to Medicare. By 2-to-1, they support minor changes or none at all to control costs, rather than major changes or a complete overhaul. Even a third of Republicans say the government should not try to control the costs of Medicare.

    • Favor imposing higher taxes on families with household incomes of $250,000 and above, as Obama has endorsed: 59% support the idea, 37% oppose it.

    Welcome to the 2012 General Election.

    Tuesday, April 12, 2011

    Tax the Rich Pt II

    So with President Obama set to speak about the deficit on Wednesday night and recommending rescinding the ruinous Bush tax cuts -- the very cuts that got us deeper into debt doing nothing to stop the Bush economy from cratering, the very cuts that seems to have rescinded the Clinton Era prosperity -- House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has, predictably, called this return to sensible taxation of income above $250k/year "unacceptable and a non-starter."

    I find that particularly amusing in light of the difficulty he appears to be having getting his Party in Congress to go along with the budget deal made this past Friday between Boehner, Harry Reid and the President:
    While only 28 Republicans voted against the bridge plan to keep the money flowing until Thursday’s vote, it is highly likely that some of the Republicans who supported that measure were looking to avoid a government shutdown and will vote nay on the bill to finance the government through the rest of the fiscal year.

    In a meeting with reporters, the House majority leader, Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, while saying it was his understanding that the bill had “strong Republican support,” conceded Tuesday that he was not certain the bill would pass without support from Democrats. “Certainly we’ll always ask for them,” he said about Democrats.

    Ha, weaklings, needing Dem support. I almost hope it fails -- then the nation sees today's GOP for what they are, psycho extremists or hostage to the same. Now Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) is saying the GOP will let the U.S. debt limit hit the ceiling and risk catastrophic default:

    House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) suggested Tuesday that Congress will allow the country to hit its debt ceiling, and continue to hold out for dramatic spending cuts while the nation approaches a genuine default.

    "I think Treasury has, if I'm not mistaken, has put ... out a notice that there is a window within which we have to act in order to avoid the eventual default of this country on its debt," Cantor told reporters at his weekly Capitol briefing. "And I believe that that outside deadline is early July."

    I'm guessing this is just bullshit brinksmanship for the benefit of teabagger votes, but you never know how a game of chicken will resolve itself. Unpleasant surprises have been known to happen once such a game is on. Per Dem strategist John Podesta, the GOP are playing with the type of fire with which they can scorch themselves:

    "That that's like playing Russian Roulette with a fully loaded gun. I think that gun's actually pointed at the Republican leadership's head, not so much at the White House," John Podesta told me after a presentation at his think tank, the Center for American Progress. "I think they will find soon enough that if they try the same tactics they used in the 2011 [spending] battle with respect to the debt limit, you're going to see markets react to that in a very, very negative way and there's going to be a lot of pressure on them to get realistic, and at least with respect to the debt limit, to move forward in a more cooperative way."

    Bang bang.

    Monday, April 11, 2011

    Smart Code

    I'm sure it'll be viewed long into the future on all kinds of devices, but since it's only been in theaters two weekends you still have a great opportunity to see the new mindbender sci-fi movie, Source Code, in a movie theater. It's good to see there for a number of reasons.

    For one, it's legit. A good "what if" science fiction concept, a few really controlled settings, and these big long shots of the train moving into the city of Chicago and, repeatedly from all different angles, blowing into smithereens. Lots to think about, and then "boom" again. Until he gets it right.

    For another, it's the second feature from director Duncan Jones, who's Moon with Sam Rockwell was reportedly another excellent picture. That one had very little budget, this one is clearly at another level, and one imagines the next one could be very big. In the Christopher Nolan vein, Jones appears to be a cinematic Brit who makes some highly suspenseful sequences, has a good eye for shots, and still delivers an engaging story. Even though Source Code is one of those brain-twisters where someone will post the inconsistencies and impossibilities on IMDB, the logic is good enough that you stop worrying about it and go along with the character's emotional ride. Kudos to writer Ben Ripley.

    The third reason to see it is Jake Gyllenhaal delivering his best (to my mind) leading man job to date, the first one where I felt he was completely snapped into the role and I was with him all the way. I've loved him in more character work, like Zodiac and, of course, his really brilliant work in Brokeback Mountain, but I like him as the sci-fi hero, a driven soldier in a hellish purgatory that he's forced to work out the way he's being told by Vera Farmiga over a television monitor.

    It's a nightmare situation, leavened with the opportunity to repeat and, standing out in the thankless girl role, Michelle Monaghan. They do have a repartee reminiscent of 1940's screen dialogue rhythms, especially in the variations, sometimes subtle, in the repetitions.

    Ultimately what gives Source Code resonance is the core value of the "do-over." It's a common wish for one to go back in time to change something, thwart a negative outcome. Fixation on this wish can lead to questions of free will. Is it better that we have some sort of destiny to blame -- or thank, thus absolving ourselves of responsibility, or is Free Will the only way out of the trap of predetermination via genetics, upbringing, God's will?

    My favorite image in Source Code is of Gyllenhaal's head on the tracks, like a Perils of Pauline cliffhanger from movie theaters circa 1914, the ultimate expression of pre-destiny. History is just a train rolling relentlessly down the tracks on its fixed schedule (the overhead shots of the train approaching the city, passing other trains) and it'll run us over sooner or later. Universal human mortality -- you keep trying to stumble away, frantically try another blind path to a distant solution, rail at your fellow man, yet there you find yourself on the train again, and the only break in the inevitable forward motion is when -- bam! -- the lights go out for good.

    Not with a whimper, but a bang.

    Here's the trailer. It's not exactly spoilerish but does explain a lot of the basic premise, which maybe is a good thing. But be forewarned:

    Looking forward to more exciting stories from director Jones.

    Sunday, April 10, 2011

    Pia's Golden Ticket

    Thursday's American Idol results show contained a huge shocker that took everybody by surprise. Yes, Iggy Pop, godfather of punk rock, appeared for the first time in his trademark shirtlessness as he performed "Real Wild Child" and appeared to skeeve out center-seat Idol judge Jennifer Lopez, along with dozens of message board commenters who apparently need a musical education. Many of them called out Iggy's age, likening him to, for example, a withered paper bag. The joke is on them, however, as Iggy looked incredible for 63 and moved all over the stage. As The Los Angeles Times pointed out, Iggy was disturbing to the Idol universe and its populace; yep, he's still doing exactly what punk rock has done since its inception -- disrupting the squares and bringing the cool kids -- like Haley Reinhart who danced along when Iggy invaded the contestants' space -- to their feet.

    But wait, Iggy wasn't even the new on Friday morning. His appearance was overshadowed by the surprise ouster of Howard Beach native Pia Toscano, commonly thought to have the best voice this season, capable of hitting triumphant high notes and holding them, even if taking criticism for doing too many ballads and being, well, a little bor-ing.

    Getting cut at #9 is the big shock. #5, maybe, #3, okay, #2, sure. Vegas oddsmakers had her at #1, so this loss of America's vote seemed to shake the show to it's very foundations. Blame was rapidly laid at the judges for not being critical enough all around; at the voting system which seemed to favor WGWG - white guys with guitars -- ever since unlimited texting was implemented allowing teen girls with unlimited text plans to vote hundreds of times each for the cutest, not necessarily the most talented and never again to crown a woman; at general complacency that Pia would, of course, be safe.

    While Executive Producer Nigel Lythgoe revealed on Friday that Pia was never a vote-getting frontrunner, one might argue that the one aspect of her Wednesday night performance that did her in might have been the outfit by guest designer Gwen Stefani that did her, let us say, no favors:

    Compare to her sizzling black shoulderless outfit on Thursday night:

    Need I say more?

    But while early elimination might have hurt an contestant in seasons past, the smart money is on Pia being in better shape now than she might have been going all the way to the finals. The outpouring of sympathy began immediately with the judges, Ms. Lopez in angry tears, and continued with tweets from celebrities including Tom Hanks and wife Rita Wilson, as well as ex-Idol contestants. She went on to do lots of TV appearances Friday morning climaxing with a show-long stint with the Ricky Minor band (Minor left his Musical Director role on Idol at the end of last season) on The Tonight Show. Her version of "River Deep, Mountain High" even seems superior to the one she performed on Wednesday night.

    And rumor has it that in-show Idol record producer Jimmy Iovine is signing her immediately to his Interscope Records, calling all around town for songwriters to deliver candidates for her first single and/or album, and that for the first time in the show's history there may be a contestant single released before the winner's gets out. Which seems like a very, very smart move compared to the usual wait until the contestants cool off in the public eye.

    All in all, another twist in this first American Idol 2.0 season, another seismic change. While it is easy to see Pia coming out stronger, one wonders if the show will feel that much poorer for losing its strongest voice over the final seven episodes. That's over a month and a half without those golden high notes, without the classic glamor Pia brought to the show. Maybe the judges will get meaner, maybe the final two women, Haley and Lauren, will make it to the finals.

    Maybe none of it really matters at all.

    Thursday, April 07, 2011

    Same Old Tricks

    The GOP are shutting down the government because the Tea Party told them to. Supposed "leaders" like House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) have given them veto power over budget legislation.

    That's a bunch of crotchety citizens fueled, knowingly or not, by the Koch Family fortune and Dick Armey's astroturfing. And what's most telling is the sticking point -- because the Dems are compromising like America wants those legislating in DC to do -- is not an economic issue at all, it's a values issue.

    The GOP have attached a rider to the budget effectively limiting abortion rights by defunding Planned Parenthood, and all the good it does for women in reproductive services nationwide, and turning the money over to the states to use as they like -- i.e., tough luck in states that restrict right to choose for women over their own bodies.

    This shows what's really going on with the Party. Same old same old constituency. And they are also defunding the green jobs revolution (so Germany and China can keep eating our lunch in that area) and eliminating Clean Air Act enforcement. Why not just build giant dinosaurs that eat whatever resources everywhere at the service of the very rich?

    After all, the much touted "Path to Prosperity" (for the top 1%) by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) contains the same old giveaways to private insurance companies, essentially setting us back before the Affordable Care Act is fully rockin'.

    And they are still stealing elections, with the same hacks who have done it for them before. Microsoft Access, anyone?

    What new breed?

    Just more brazenly extreme.

    Wednesday, April 06, 2011

    Blame Game: Game Over

    In case anyone is even debating the ridiculous GOP talking point that the Dems, who are agreeing to tens of billions in spending cuts, are somehow going to be responsible for the U.S. government shutdown, should it come to pass, here's video evidence of our Teapublicans making their position clear:

    Oh, sweet 1995 redux:
    The Republicans blamed Clinton for the shutdown, and Clinton blamed the Republicans. Public opinion favored the president; Clinton's approval rating fell precipitously during the shutdown,[3] but once it had ended they rose to their highest since his election. The Republicans' support was further diminished two days later when Gingrich made a widely-reported complaint about being snubbed by Clinton; Tom DeLay called it "the mistake of [Gingrich's] life".[1]
    C'mon, GOP. Help kickoff the President's reelection campaign!

    Tuesday, April 05, 2011

    Tax the Rich

    I will vote for any politician in 2012 who promises to do just that. And by rich, I mean any politician who specifically goes after multimillionaires. Anyone making over $1MM/annum after deductions should pay a higher marginal tax rate than just about everyone I know. Anyone over $10MM should, by law, give more of it back to our citizens through our elected government than anybody else, for the privilege of living in a country where they can have the most taxes taken away of anybody with the least diminution of lifestyle. As in none.

    The superstar on arrival House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) 10-year budget that arrived with fanfare today kills Medicare for good in return for a paltry voucher system offloading, once again from Republicans, more risk onto individuals. Than any other industrialized nation. It is based on fantasy 4% unemployment projections and ultimate increases the deficit without reducing medical costs -- dumping it all back in the private sector for more gouging and C-level salary packages. Per the White House:

    The White House rejected Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-WI) "Path to Prosperity" budget blueprint for fiscal 2012 Tuesday, arguing that it unfairly guarantees the prosperity of wealthy millionaires while overburdening seniors and the poor.

    While President Obama is committed to dramatically reducing the country's long-term deficit, White House spokesman Jay Carney said, Ryan's plan is exactly the wrong approach.

    "The President believes that dramatically reducing America's long-term deficit is essential to growing our economy and winning the future," Carney said in a statement. "Any plan to reduce our deficit must reflect the American values of fairness and shared sacrifice. Congressman Ryan's plan fails this test."

    The Republican slogan, "Path to Prosperity." Through a return to Robber Baron era Social Darwinism. As the NY Times asks, "Prosperity for who?"

    We don't have a spending problem, we have a revenue problem, and we need to return to the still historically mild tax levels of the successful Clinton Presidency, rather than the disastrous Bush Presidency. Return those revenues, make America healthy again.

    Read my lips:
    Tax. The. Rich.
    And win my vote.

    Monday, April 04, 2011

    2012: The President Announces

    Very interesting starting gun for President Obama's 2012 reelection campaign -- a video in which he doesn't appear at all, just his supporters and volunteers, designed to emphasize the need to join the organizing soon:

    Read the campaign's first talking points here, including my two favorites of the bunch:

    • Over the next year and a half, we will create a grassroots organization that’s more far-reaching, focused, and innovative than anything we’ve built before.
    • Winning the future is not a spectator sport. It’s something we have to fight for. We can’t protect the progress we’ve made — or make any more — if we fail to mobilize. That’s why we’re getting started now.


    Sunday, April 03, 2011

    American Freedom Zombies

    Even the undead are coming out into the streets against Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R), himself an undead Richard Nixon.

    The dead walking starts @ 1:02:

    What do we want? Brains!

    When do we want them? Now!