Saturday, May 31, 2008

Tim Conway and the Elephant Story

I lamented Harvey Korman's passage earlier on the blog, and I got to thinking about some of the best sketches on The Carol Burnett Show. While Harvey's sketches could make you laugh out loud, there was one sketch that truly slayed me, but it was after Harvey left the show. His replacement was Dick Van Dyke, but even a pro like that couldn't hold it together when Tim Conway was on a roll. Take a look.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Remixed O'Reilly: Keith Olbermann's Revenge

The spotlight shone on Bill O'Reilly on Countdown with Keith Olbermann is harsh and bright--and often funny. Some people don't like it, but it always makes me laugh. And there's the added bonus of ticking off all of the right people--Bill O'Reilly chief among them. Watch.

Hillary Clinton Slinging Back Whiskey

Photo from source, This is London

Posted mostly for the picture, and the hope that she's getting all relaxed because she's done fighting?


One for the end of the road? Merry Clinton knocks back whisky on campaign plane

Hillary Clinton took time out from her punishing campaign schedule to enjoy a glass of whiskey with a group of journalists.

The Democratic presidential hopeful was flying back from Rapid City in South Dakota, one of the few states yet to hold its primary when she decided to let her hair down a little.

Her relaxed mood may give rise to speculation she is preparing to concede to her Democratic rival Barak Obama. . .

Read more at: This is London

Former US Attorneys: Congressional Subpoenas OK

Photo of Rep. John Conyers from source, TPM Muckraker

Part of the reason I'm so sick of the current Democratic Presidential primary contest, is that Hillary Clinton seems to be running on sheer force of will. She and her husband both seem to think that merely saying a thing makes it true. She is winning by "any measure," they say. Uh, no. Only by a very specific, largely irrelevant measure.

This echos the standard operating procedure of the Bush White House over the last 7+ years. Say a thing (usually often, and with many members of the Administration actually using the same exact words), and it must be true. Worse, the thing often becomes conventional wisdom--at least among the loyal Bushies.

One of the big whoppers they've been trying to sell over the last couple of years is "executive privilege." They use it as an excuse to have Administration officials--current and former--just flatly refuse to appear before Congress. But maybe, just maybe, this particular thing won't become true.


24 Former U.S. Attorneys Say Congress Can Subpoena White House

In the legal standoff between Congress and the White House, a group of 24 former federal prosecutors is siding with Congress.

The attorneys joined in a friend-of-the-court brief arguing that Congress should be allowed to issue subpoenas to White House aides to investigate political influence at the Department of Justice. . .

Read more at: TPM Muckraker

Daily Show's Samantha Bee Reviews Sex & the City

Samantha Bee is one of my favorite "reporters" on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, along with her husband, Jason Jones. Here, Sam reviews the Sex and the City movie. . .well, sort of. Funny stuff.

Michelle Malkin is an Idiot: Terrorist Scarves

First image from Michelle Malkin is an Idiot
Second image from source, News Corpse

It's too bad the blog, Michelle Malkin is an Idiot seems to have gone dark. Any site with a name that funny and truthful deserves attention! Maybe this most recent idiotic comment by Malkin will prompt them to ramp it back up.


When exactly is it appropriate to send in the guys with the butterfly nets? Ultra-conservative pundette, Michelle Malkin is mortified at the thought of extremist islamo-fascists infiltrating America and hypnotizing its citizens with ….. SCARVES!

Read more at: News Corpse

DNC Ad: McCain with a Dose of McClellan

It's good to see the Democratic National Committee going after John McCain a little bit, finally. And former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan's new tell-all book, What Happened has provided them a little fodder.


New DNC Web Ad Uses McClellan To Blast McCain

You didn't really think Democratic ad gurus would sit out the Scott McClellan contretemps, did you?

Republican-on-Republican combat is like catnip to the DNC, and this morning, they're hoping to catch Sen. John McCain in the free for all by inserting him into the "political propaganda campaign" the former White House press secretary says was used to sell the case for war in Iraq. By splicing three early McCain remarks on Iraq alongside a comment from Vice President Dick Cheney, the new web ad says the Arizona Republican was "marching in lockstep" with the Bush administration's efforts to dupe the public. . .

Read more at: Huffington Post

Lawrence O'Donnell OWNS Pat Buchanan

It is scary that occasionally I agree with Pat Buchanan these days, especially as it relates to the Iraq War. But I still remember the scathing, nasty speech he gave at the 1992 Republican National Convention--the speech that essentially changed me from a Republican to a Democrat. He may well have lost the election for George H. W. Bush with that speech.

So, I feel a sense of schadenfreude when occasionally Pat Buchanan gets put in his place. Here on MSNBC's The Verdict with Dan Abrams, Lawrence O'Donnell does just that. Good.

ENOUGH With the Freakin' Pastors!

Image from source, AP

I'm sick to death of the constant haranguing of Barack Obama because of who happens to be a pastor in his church. I have such a hard time believing any sane, rational person cares. As an agnostic (leaning atheist), I'm just plain tired of religion in politics. And of course, there is the fact that this story is only being flogged because the Rev. Jeremiah Wright story managed to stay in the news for a month. So that means ratings gold. Or something.

Can we please move on to relevant policy issues?


Priest who mocked Clinton again draws spotlight

He's a white priest at a largely black church. He's held hands with Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. He's been arrested dozens of times and battled anyone he thinks has wronged his parish — from gun dealers to a local Catholic sports league. Now the Rev. Michael Pfleger is something else: the latest thorn in the side of presidential candidate Barack Obama.

Racially charged comments Pfleger made last week mocking Obama rival Hillary Rodham Clinton — as a guest at Obama's church, no less — triggered a quick response from Obama, who wants nothing to do with a racial firestorm like the one generated by his former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. . .

Read more at: AP

Top Democrats to Push for End to Primary Race

Photo from source, Yahoo! News

They keep saying this, but they never seem to do it. I'll believe it when I see it.


Top Dems to push for swift end to primary race

Top Democratic leaders intend to push for a quick end to the battle for the presidential nomination when primaries are over next week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Thursday, adding that he, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and party chairman Howard Dean will urge uncommitted delegates to choose sides.

"By this time next week, it will all be over give or take a day," Reid said of the marathon race between the front-running Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton. . .

Read more at: Yahoo! News

In Memory of Harley Korman (That's Harvey!)

Image from Kenneth in the (212)
I haven't yet reached the age where I'm losing large chunks of family or friends. In fact, I really dread that day. But I'm old enough to start losing cherished bits of my childhood and young adulthood. Many of the entertainers I enjoyed so much back in the 1970s and 80s are sadly leaving us.

The first celebrity passing that knocked me for a loop was Gilda Radner. So sweet, so talented, and unfortunately underused as a performer, it just didn't seem right somehow. Then, several years later, Madeline Kahn was felled by the same dreaded disease. How difficult it must have been for Gene Wilder, having been married to Radner, and friends with Kahn. And poor Mel Brooks too, who lost his wife, Anne Bancroft. How strange that these celebrity deaths hit me harder than most, and were so connected.

Now there has been another one, Harvey Korman. Another of Mel Brooks' fabled company of performers, Korman was a delight as the prissy, self-important Heddy (that's Hedley!) LaMarr in Blazing Saddles, and Count de Money (de Monet, de Monet!) in History of the World Part 1. He also played Dr. Montague in High Anxiety as slave to dominatrix Nurse Diesel (Cloris Leachman). Of course, he is probably best known as one of the talented group of comics on The Carol Burnett Show, often (and best) paired with Tim Conway.

The sad part is, many of the rest of the best of these costars are in their seventies and eighties. I fear it won't be long before I end up like my grandparents, pointing to Randolph Scott and Gary Cooper, lamenting their passing. Sigh. Sorry for the bring-down. Let's try bringing it back up with some of Harvey Korman's best bits, shall we?

George W. Bush Chest Bumps Air Force Grad


Source: Dallas News

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Movie Version of McClellan's What Happened?

With all of the Bush scandals receiving new attention, thanks to the publication of Scott McClellen's tell-all book, What Happened, I am reminded of a little art project I slapped together a few years ago, covering a couple of them.

Here's the original post as it appeared in the early days of this blog (June 15, 2007):

Here is another of my creations, from a couple of years ago. Picture it: Spring 2005, and revelations about a man named Jeff Gannon were setting the blogs (but sadly not the mainstream media) on fire. Also, there were rumors that the man the Freepers called "Rove, you magnificent bastard!" was possibly--just maybe--gonna be implicated in the Plame affair. I didn't have an outlet yet for my political and artistic frustrations, but that didn't stop me from creating. So without further ado (and with apologies to and appreciation for John Waters), I bring you Pink Elephants!

So What is Scott McClellan's Story on Jeff Gannon?

Photos from AmericaBlog

Yes, that Jeff Gannon. Like a character in a soap opera, he pops in when you least expect him (or give him some money, presumably). The tell-all book that former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellen wrote has brought to mind several long ignored scandals and scandlets, so I guess it should be no surprise that Gannon would show up.

And that is one story I hope is actually told one day. Maybe in his follow-up, McClellan will clarify these remarks, made by Jeff Gannon (nee James Guckert) at his website:


Scott, We Hardly Knew Ye

Add me to the growing list of those who are having great difficulty understanding McClellan’s motives. I spent two years as a White House reporter, much of it during McClellan’s reign. At no time did Scott ever indicate, either publicly or privately, he had the misgivings he expressed in this book. What I hear about the book does not sound like the Scott McClellan I knew for two years. I can say without fear of contradiction, that I knew Scott better than any other White House correspondent or Washington reporter.

Read more at:

Science is Cool: Oil from Algae?

Image from source, LA Times

Talk about your green energy! Seriously, this is pretty cool. I mean, typically bio-fuels have the unintended effect of straining food supplies. But algae just sorta happens. Forget to put chlorine in the pool? BOOM! Barrels and barrels of oil! Well, maybe not, but you get my drift.


Sapphire Energy turns algae into 'green crude' for fuel

A San Diego company said Wednesday that it could turn algae into oil, producing a green-colored crude yielding ultra-clean versions of gasoline and diesel without the downsides of biofuel production.

The year-old company, called
Sapphire Energy, uses algae, sunlight, carbon dioxide and non-potable water to make "green crude" that it contends is chemically equivalent to the light, sweet crude oil that has been fetching more than $130 a barrel in New York futures trading. . .

Read more at: LA Times

Rush Limbaugh's Disturbing Hold on His Listeners

Image from source,

I've commented previously that Rush Limbaugh creeps me the hell out. He is--by far--more than merely a right wing radio bloviator. He fancies himself as an entertainer, Keith Olbermann refers to him as "the comedian." My preferred designation is cult leader. The thrall he holds over his listeners is downright frightening.

Now, you might dismiss me as paranoid, or just biased against right-wing pundits in general. And you might be just a little correct, but that's not all there is to it. I've reported earlier on this blog about how Rush often tells his fans that they don't need to get their news anywhere else, he'll do the work for them. On his website, he gives his listeners marching orders. And today, in a facetious ramble about supporting Sen. Barack Obama for President, he said the following:

"So, using their guidance and using their thought processes, how about, ladies and gentlemen, if I were to announce today and use my powers as a pied piper over all of you mind-numbed robots to declare our support for Obama, for this reason: Some of the key issues that our candidate supports are signature issues of McCain."

Now, you might claim that Rush is just being funny. . .jabbing at liberals like me, who think of him and his dittoheads precisely as he described in the bold letters above. And you might be right, unless you heard the phone call that followed shortly after that:

RUSH: What are you going to do?
CALLER: Well, I'm a member of -- I'm an op for chaos.
RUSH: And so what are you going to do?
CALLER: Well, I'm going to do whatever you say, basically, I just can't bring myself to vote for McCain.
RUSH: A-ha. Well, what if I told you to vote Obama?
CALLER: That's classic. If you were serious, I'd do it. . .

Now really, how far is it from that kind of talk to the big drum of special kool-aid?

Keith Olbermann Interviews Scott McClellan on Countdown

Outstanding interview with the man of the news-cycle, writer of What Happened, former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan. The interview ran for most of the episode, and has a follow-up with Watergate figure, John Dean. If you missed it, here it is, in its entirety.

Bill O'Reilly: No Good Argument Against Gay Marriage?

This was a truly amazing moment on the FOX "News" flagship show, The O'Reilly Factor, and is a rare example of the host playing fair on that program. And before you think I'm just picking on O'Reilly because he's on FOX, I've watched the program many times. When conservative guests wander away from O'Reilly's position on something, it usually goes "better" than this for them.

I know that California may well vote against same-sex marriage in the fall (newsflash: we never used to hold civil rights issues up to popular vote), but if this anti-gay marriage guy is the best they can do, we may have a better shot against them than I thought. This guy can't come up with a cogent reason to ban gay marriage. That's probably because there isn't one. But, when he can't even convince Bill O'Reilly, well, that's really something.

Rob Riggle on the Barack Obama Campaign

This is some pretty funny stuff from The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. "Reporter" Rob Riggle shows what it's like following a presidential campaign. . .of course, with a comedic twist. I was a big fan of Riggle in his days on Saturday Night Live, and thought he was tragically underused there. I'm glad he's gotten to strut his stuff on Comedy Central. It doesn't hurt that he's kinda cute, with a sort of Patrick Warburton vibe. Hey, Hollywood! Why not cast Rob Riggle as Captain Marvel in Shazam!?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Clinton Plotting to Go All the Way to Convention?

Photo from source, IHT

It looks like Rachel Maddow's "doomsday" prediction was right. More and more pundits (now including Keith Olbermann) think that the battle over Michigan's and Florida's delegates will be disputed by Hillary Clinton's campaign no matter what the decision is. This allows her to take her objection into the Democratic National Convention. On August 25th. August twenty-freakin'-fifth.

All I can say is, if it does go to the Convention, it is bad no matter what happens. If she somehow wrests the nomination from Barack Obama, she bruises his supporters to the point of a sour grapes "I'll never vote for her" reaction. If she ultimately loses, she will have ruined her political reputation forever among a huge group of Democrats, and will bear the lion's share of the blame if Obama loses to McCain. Democratic higher-ups should be avoiding this scenario at all costs.


Democrats advised to seat only half of Florida and Michigan delegates

Democratic Party lawyers have determined that no more than half of the delegates from Florida and Michigan can be seated at the party's nominating convention in August, dealing a blow to Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton's efforts to seat the full delegations from these states. [snip]

In asking that the full delegations be seated, Clinton hopes to narrow Senator Barack Obama's delegate lead and bolster her argument that she may end up with more of the popular vote in the nominating contests - an assertion that the Obama camp disputes. . .

Will Congress Arrest Karl Rove?

I know I must be dreaming when a Congresswoman hints that they might arrest Karl Rove. Don't wake me up just yet, let me savor this. . .


Wasserman-Schultz on arresting Rove: ‘Well, if that’s what it takes.’

In an interview with MSNBC’s Dan Abrams yesterday, Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL) said that the House Judiciary Committee would be willing to arrest Karl Rove if he continues to
refuse to testify about his role in the U.S. attorney scandal and prosecution of former Alabama governor Don Siegelman. . .

Read more at: Think Progress

California Same-sex Marriages to Begin June 17th

Photo from source, Huffington Post

Well, how 'bout that. It doesn't look like the fundies are going to have time enough to shut this down, at least not before thousands of gay couples have had the chance to be legally married in the United States. Sure, people from Massachusetts have been able to do that for a while now--and surprise! the sky didn't fall--but California allows couples from other states to marry, and Massachusetts doesn't.

I've been following this story closely, because The Other Half and I intend to journey to Schwarzenegger's state to tie the knot sometime this summer! So, yay for us. Stay tuned. It's still possible that they could still shut this down before we get the chance. They always try. Party poopers.


Barring a stay of a historic California Supreme Court ruling, same-sex couples will be able to wed in the state beginning June 17, according to a state directive issued Wednesday.

The state said it chose June 17 because the state Supreme Court has until the day before to decide whether to grant a stay of its May 15 ruling legalizing gay marriage. . .

Read more at: Huffington Post

White House vs. Scott McClellan (Yes, More)

Photo from source, Huffington Post

Last one, I promise. And this one is mostly for the photo.


In a shocking turnabout, the press secretary most known for defending President Bush on Iraq, Katrina and a host of other controversial issues produced a memoir damning of his old boss on nearly every level _ from too much secrecy to a less-than-honest selling of the war to a lack of personal candor and an unwillingness to admit mistakes.

In the first major insider account of the Bush White House, one-time spokesman Scott McClellan calls the operation "insular, secretive and combative" and says it veered irretrievably off course as a result. . .

Read more at: Huffington Post

Republicans vs. Scott McClellan

At the risk of wearing you out, here's another Scott McClellan story. I'll try to lay off it a bit after today, at least until a new wrinkle appears. But in my own defense, this is pretty huge news. The Bush Administration--current and former--tend to mindlessly stay on point, as this video from Countdown with Keith Olbermann shows, down to the same words and phrases. So when one of their own--the White House Press Secretary during some of the biggest scandals no less--starts singing, it's hard to not provide him a stage.

Obama "Gaffe" Reaction Shows Republican Weakness

Photo of Buchenwald from Scrapbook Pages

The old Karl Rove "permanent majority" political machine is rusty, has burned a lot of oil (heh), and badly in need of repair. But it still manages to function sometimes, especially against an apathetic and uninvolved American public. One of the more frustrating things for a left-wing political junkie is the sheer stupidity of some of the "issues" that manage to get traction.

Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Bill Ayers. Flag Pins. Patriotism. Barack Obama's religion. Nothing concrete that makes Barack Obama a bad choice for president, just lots of innuendo, rumor and outright lies sometimes. And now, the latest Barack Obama "gaffe" has been pounced upon, and the reaction is really, really stupid.

Obama told a family story about a courageous relative who helped liberate a Nazi concentration camp. And he got a couple of details wrong. Obviously, family stories become family legends. They get told and retold, and along the way, the details get fuzzy. I say big deal. Right-wingers (particularly the rabid Freeper type) say it's a BIG DEAL! To me, all of the stupid stuff they're throwing at Obama just shows the weak hand they have to play. Unfortunately, many American voters (my folks included) have already been suckered by some of the things in the above list. Dammit.


Obama corrects gaffe on kin's participation in freeing Auschwitz

"Barack Obama's dubious claim is inconsistent with world history and demands an explanation," RNC spokesman Alex Conant said. "It was Soviet troops that liberated Auschwitz, so unless his uncle was serving in the Red Army, there's no way Obama's statement yesterday can be true. Obama's frequent exaggerations and outright distortions raise questions about his judgment and his readiness to lead as commander in chief."

Later yesterday, Obama's campaign said he simply named the wrong concentration camp. . .

Read more at: Boston Globe

And if you want to see how the Freepers are reacting to this barely there "scandal," go here: Free Republic

Rove Compares McClellan to Liberal Bloggers

Perish the thought! In my previous post, I noted that prominent Republicans are throwing for White House Press Secretary under the bus, after revelations from his book, What Happened became public. Here's one of those prominent Republicans, Karl Rove, on Hannity & Colmes doing just that. I so hope Rove ends up tripping himself up on one of these shows. I really, really do. . .

Wexler Wants Scott McClellan to Testify

Image from source, Raw Story

Yes! Testify, brother! And why wouldn't Scott McClellan comply? The Republicans have been quick--in fact, eager--to throw Scotty under the bus since excerpts of his tell-all (tell-some?) book, What Happened have gotten out. I can't tell you how much I want this thing to snowball.


Dem congressman calls on McClellan to testify about book's revelations

Already getting grief from his former White House colleagues, former Bush spokesman Scott McClellan is now being asked to testify before Congress about the revelations contained in his scathing new memoir.

Rep. Robert Wexler (D-FL), a key Bush antagonist and member of the House Judiciary Committee, says McClellan needs to tell Congress the full story about potential White House conspiring around the leak of a CIA officer's name and propaganda efforts that preceded the invasion of Iraq. . .

Read more at: Raw Story

Take the Bush-McCain Challenge!

Now do you see why he's called "Grampy McSame?"

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Former Air America Radio Exec Arrested

Photo from source, LTR

If you're a liberal talk radio fan like I am, or if you've seen the HBO film Left of the Dial, the name Even Cohen might ring a bell. He was the original "money guy" at the birth of Air America Radio, and he turned out to be quite a shady guy. It would be fair to say that AAR has never quite recovered from his actions, though they are--contrary to popular belief--still on the air.


Former Air America Radio chairman Evan Montvel Cohen, a controversial figure from the network's early days, has been arrested on theft and fraud charges, KUAM-TV reports. [snip]

Turns out that, in the capacity of his executive position at the Gloria Wise Boys and Girls Club in the Bronx, Cohen acquired loans from the nonprofit in order to help fulfil his share of the investment. His former partners in Air America were livid.

And my favorite part:

Of course, right-wing bloggers with an axe to grind against the network went ballistic when news of this scandal emerged (in perhaps the only instance of them even giving a rip about an inner city community center). . .

Read more at: LTR

Tim Russert Predicts Obama Lock By June 4

Oh, please, oh, please, oh, please. . . Let this part be over!

John McCain in Another Lobbyist Flap

Photo from source, MSNBC

It's plain that John McCain has been getting tender treatment from the press, by-and-large. How do I know this? Because there is rarely a story about him where the press doesn't invoke the terms "maverick" and "straight-talk express." Two wholly subjective, self-invented terms. It reminds me of how Michael Jackson once dubbed himself "The King of Pop," and every reporter felt obliged to call him that--heck, some of them still do.

But McCain the maverick seems to have a staff of people made up of high-powered lobbyists, something he purports to be apart from. And now, it's gotten embarrassing.


McCain economic policy shaped by lobbyist

Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain’s national campaign general co-chair was being paid by a Swiss bank to lobby Congress about the U.S. mortgage crisis at the same time he was advising McCain about his economic policy, federal records show. . .

Read more at: MSNBC

Scott McClellan Spills the Beans on Bush Administration

Photo from source, Raw Story

Now this is the kind of political story that makes liberal moonbat bloggers like me salivate. Former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan (or Puffy McMoonface, if you're a Stephanie Miller Show fan) has written a tell-all (or tell some) book, and it looks like it's going to be a doozy. I'd like to make a little wish right now, that this is just the first in a series of books from former Bush Administration officials, so that someday we can piece all the lies, crimes and heinousness together.


Former White House spokesman: Bush used 'propaganda' to sell war

In a new tell-all memoir on sale next week, former Bush press secretary Scott McClellan writes that the president depended on propaganda to sell the Iraq war to the American public, The Politico reports.

McClellan's "surprisingly scathing" and "often harsh" What Happened: Inside the Bush White House... also contains, as Mike Allen writes for Politico, other standout revelations. . .

Find out what some of them are at: Raw Story

Matt Taibbi's New Book: The Great Derangement

Rolling Stone columnist and frequent Real Time with Bill Maher guest, Matt Taibbi has written a new book about deception in American media and politics. If this preview video is any indication, it should be a real page turner. Check it out.

Source: The Great Derangement

Man Fired Because of Bill O'Reilly Speaks Out

Photo from source, Think Progress

Have you heard the story about the guy, Barry Nolan, who Bill O'Reilley helped get fired? Well, here's the story in that man's own words.


O’Reilly was an appalling choice, not because of his political views, but because he simply gets the facts wrong, abuses his guests and the powerless in general, is delusional, and, well, you might want to Google: Narcissistic Personality Disorder. . .

Read more at: Think Progress

Call Arnold to Support Same-sex Marriage

Image from SlipperyBrick

Hey, it only takes a few seconds, and you'll feel better after expressing yourself. And hey, if you were in opposition to the California Supreme Court's decision to allow same-sex marriage, just ignore this call to action. . .but feel free to leave a comment here explaining why.


The religious right is ticked that Schwarzenegger said he won't support a state constitutional amendment in California to ban gay marriage. So they're flooding him with phone calls. The governor's office has an automated system to count such calls. Please add your voice, it's really easy, I just did it (in a whopping 6 seconds):

Call 1-916-445-2841. Then press 1 (then wait a sec), then 5 (then wait a sec), then 1, then 1.

That's it. If the line is busy, call again. I got through on the second try.

Source: AmericaBlog

Nationalism vs. Patriotism

I didn't post a specific Memorial Day post yesterday. Mostly, that is because of the few veterans I know personally, none have died in battle. I do not diminish the veterans who have died in service, I just have no personal reference. So, remembering them is a very symbolic and disconnected feeling that I can't express with any degree of honesty.

I also fall into the same camp as Barack Obama as it applied to the ludicrous flag lapel pin controversy. I find knee-jerk patriotism kinda phony. The flag-waving on FOX "News" typifies this sort of attitude to me. Sean Hannity's constant haranguing of Michelle and Barack Obama's comments would be a good example. This isn't patriotism it is nationalism. The two ain't the same.

What's the difference? Watch this video to find out. Sure, "Dan" is a bit bombastic, and the bad contrast of the video makes it look like he's wearing lipstick. . .but his commentary is solid.

Movies I Can't Wait to See: The Incredible Hulk

One good superhero post deserves another, right? The Incredible Hulk debuts June 13, and I for one will be there. As I said before, I'm more of a DC Comics fan, but I'll take a good Marvel Comics film any day. Even a less-than-great one like Spider-Man 3, The Fantastic Four or the original The Hulk were still fun.

I'm not sure if the new Hulk movie is considered a sequel or a re-boot, but it really doesn't matter. I mean I watched every episode of the Bill Bixby/Lou Ferrigno series, so I'm easy to please!

Batman Vs. Iron Man

I'm a comic book fan from way back, but my allegiance was to DC Comics (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Justice League of America), and not to Marvel Comics (Spider-Man, Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, The Avengers). Marvel's heroes were full of pathos and strife. . .too depressing. But my preferred publisher has had a tough go of it at the box office.

DC Comics movies set the standard back in the 1970s with Superman: The Movie and Superman II. But then, the legend was ruined with the bad Superman III, and the abysmal Superman IV: The Quest for Peace. Batman and Batman Returns eventually came around. . .but were full of pathos and strife. And as the series continued with Batman Forever and Batman & Robin, they threw so much at the screen--three villains! three heroes!--that people started to lose interest.

DC got a little wind in its sails--finally--with Batman Begins and Superman Returns, but there is still a little whiz-bang, a little zazz missing. Marvel captured all of that with Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2 (though they also threw too much at the screen with the third chapter). Marvel has stumbled with a dreary The Hulk, a silly Daredevil, and others. But with Iron Man they have possibly made the best super-hero film ever. At least, it was the best I ever felt walking out of the theater. 50% of that can be credited to Robert Downey Jr.'s performance.

So, I'm hoping that this year's The Dark Knight, and the future Superman: The Man of Steel will amp up the wow factor. Marvel--now run as an independent studio--is outdoing DC (who has all of Warner Brothers at its disposal) in a big way. Time to step up to the plate, DC!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Blast from the Past: Designing Women

Back when I was home in Ohio, I wanted to watch Desperate Housewives and Brothers & Sisters, two of my favorite shows. My mother lamented that I like chick shows. Well, duuuhhh.

It's not all the chick shows, mind you. I don't give a flip about The Bachelor or Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. I don't go much for schlocky romance or weepy sentimentality. I like crackling dialog and the occasional display of bitchiness. That's probably why I was such a fan of Designing Women.

Few actresses could pull off the spectacular diatribes that Dixie Carter as Julia Sugarbaker could reel off at someone who done her wrong. Or done her sister wrong, as in this scene. How she never won an Emmy is a mystery. Enjoy.

Science is Cool: Mars Probe on the Ground

Image from source, SFGate

The landing of the Mars Probe on the red planet didn't have the "gee-whiz" impact of the 1969 moon landing, but it's very exciting to science geeks like myself. The probe is on a quest to determine if life ever existed on Mars. Anyone who ever read comic books or watched atomic age movies on basic cable in the 70s is hoping YES! It will also be very amusing to see--should life be discovered--how the major religions rationalize it. Where did the life go? They'll probably say there was a rapture. . .


Mars probe on the ground, now it's time for the dirty work

Only a day after the spacecraft Phoenix landed so brilliantly on an icy, pebble-strewn patch of the northern plains of Mars, scientists prepared today to start their three-month search for signs that life-giving water and chemicals were once abundant on the planet long, long ago. . .

Read more at: SFGate

Bill Clinton Claims "Cover-up" on Hillary's Chances

Photo from source, CNN

Hmmm. I'm am usually very suspicious of how the news is presented to us. I'm very aware of the story lines that--seemingly in unison--the news media in general tries to sell us. That's part of the reason for this blog. I like to find the news behind the news. I like to dig deeper, read more, get multiple sources.

So, when Bill Clinton claims that there is some sort of cover-up in the media to squelch Hillary Clinton's chances in the primaries, I want to believe him. It hits all the right buttons in my inner circuitry. But I've been following this thing pretty closely. I've been paying attention, and I've read the news behind the news. I don't see any evidence that he's right. So, the cover-up is either really, really good. . .or this is the latest line in a series of lines to try to salvage the Clinton campaign. You be the judge.


Bill Clinton: 'Cover up' hiding Hillary Clinton's chances

"She is winning the general election today and he is not, according to all the evidence," Clinton said. "And I have never seen anything like it. I have never seen a candidate treated so disrespectfully just for running."

Read more at: CNN

Liz Trotta Apologizes for Assassination Joke

Yeah, yeah. Do you buy the apology? She couldn't buy this kind of attention. Who knew who Liz Trotta was three days ago? And the FOX "News" audience was hardly offended by her comment. Works out for her pretty well.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Blasts News Media

The apple didn't fall far from the tree. Robert F. Kennedy is amazingly well spoken and intelligent. And his views on the news media need to be heard. It's from 2004 or so, but more timely than ever. Check it out.

MSNBC Bad for NBC News?

This is a puzzling turn of events, and not without irony. We've been fed such a steady diet of "the mainstream media is liberally biased," that we tend to forget that it hasn't been, not really. NBC, ABC, CBS, even CNN have generally been pretty even-handed with the news. While this has been my opinion, it has been backed up by a number of studies and books I've read, so I'm not alone.*

My take on the matter is that the absence of rightward-leaning news bias is interpreted by right-wingers as leftward bias. Sort of like cold being the absence of heat. As a counterpoint, if news has a genuine rightward bias, right-wingers tend to think it's the porridge Goldilocks ate--just right.

FOX "News" has been around for a dozen years now, and ever since its inception, it has had a genuine rightward bias. Comically (and frustratingly), fans of the channel--coincidentally nearly 100% conservative--deny that FOX has such a bias. I remember that my cable provider was a bit tardy in picking up the FOX "News" Channel. How did I find out about it? Our local Rush Limbaugh/Sean Hannity talk radio station had a petition drive to get FOX instated on our channel roster. Ah, but there is no connection between the fan base, the radio station, and the bias of the channel, right?

Nowadays, MSNBC--long the redheaded stepchild of cable news--has experienced a ratings surge, on the heels of leftward-leaning Countdown with Keith Olbermann. As far as I can tell, Countdown wasn't particularly biased at first. As Bush's popularity dove, and then stabilized at about 28%, Countdown's leftward tilt started to become more obvious. But here's the funny part. . .

If news in general has always had a left-leaning bias, why is there suddenly a huge tempest brewing against MSNBC? Could it be that a genuine left-leaning program like Countdown stands out like a sore thumb? Could it be--just maybe--that most of the rest of the news is actually pretty moderate? Here's an idea. Let's label all news-commentary shows as such. That would be a pretty simple solution, except that FOX "News"--being entirely biased--would have to change their name to "FOX Right-wing Tools," or something.


NBC News, MSNBC: Uneasy coexistence?

NBC News has managed to achieve the near-impossible this election season in getting Hillary Rodham Clinton and George Bush to agree on something.

That something, however, is antipathy toward NBC News. . .

Read more at: Raw Story
*For some background on media bias, try this, this and this. I've read so many political and media non-fiction books and reports, it is difficult to remember the sources sometimes. Three authors who have written about the unconventional wisdom of media bias are Thom Hartmann, Greg Palast and David Brock. Check them out.

Top 10 Conservative Idiots: May 26, 2008

Wow, I'm surprised my favorite column over at Democratic Underground didn't take the week off, given that it's a holiday. I'm glad they didn't though, since Saturday Night Live and Real Time with Bill Maher are both done for the season, and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report have both been in reruns--I'm starving for political snark!


The Top 10 Conservative Idiots, No. 338
May 26, 2008
The "Are You John McCain?" Quiz Special

Are you a grouchy old fool who can't keep your positions straight from one minute to the next? Are you running for president but find yourself handicapped by poor fundraising, the public's utter hatred for your buddy the current president, and the imminent implosion of your political party? Do you find yourself committing gaffe after gaffe on the campaign trail?

If so, there's a chance that you might be John McCain. But before you start to panic, there's an easy way to find out for sure - just take our handy quiz featuring questions ripped straight from last week's headlines. . .

Is it Too Late to Stop an Orwellian Society?

Photo of The Decider, from Earth Open Network

I'm feeling a little bummed this morning. Last night I watched HBO's superb Recount, a dramatic re-telling of the Bush vs. Gore 2000 election and its aftermath. Then, this morning, I finally got around to finishing PBS's Frontline: Bush's War, a documentary outlining the timeline of the Iraq War through January 2008.

The cumulative effect of revisiting this history was to give me an overview of the Bush Administration from start to finish (fortunately not covering 9/11 or Katrina--which would have been way too much to revisit in under 24 hours). Doing so dredged up all of the feelings I've felt over the last 8 years: denial, anger, bargaining, and depression--four of the five "stages of grief." The one I'm having problems with is acceptance, and here's why.

I think if you boil down the problems I have with the Bush Administration, what rises to the top (outside of their lawlessness, which I've covered in many other rants) is the fundamental lack of respect they have for the American people, even their own "base." There has been a constant effort, from the 2000 election debacle right through to Dana Perino's most recent press conferences, to mislead us all. Using the tactics of key GOP figures like Frank Luntz and Karl Rove, they twist and mold facts and events to fit their narrative. And they are staggeringly effective at it, much of the time.

During the last eight years, words like freedom, patriotism, democracy, liberty, and victory have been turned from words into slogans. Phrases are constructed, and repeated ad nauseum, until they become part of the language of public discourse: We're fighting them over there, so we don't have to fight them over here. Shock and awe. Liberal media. Clear, hold, build. Weapons of mass destruction. The surge is working. Half the nation becomes a flock of parrots, the other half tears their hair out trying to combat "conventional wisdom."

Surely, this group of Republicans are not the first politicians to use spin and deliberate obfuscation to manage their message. But they have perfected it, and have relied on it to the point that I'm not sure some of them can do their daily jobs without it. Like pathological liars (very much, indistinguishable in fact), they come out of the gate spinning and dodging when just telling the truth would probably be easier. I wonder if it has been so "par for the course" that it will become precedent setting. Can even an "agent of change" like Barack Obama avoid the temptation to activate a network of permanent spin-meisters, talking only in New speak?

There is one thing I'm sure of. If John McCain gets elected this November, he will have access to the same machine that has been in place over the last 8 years. And if Hillary Clinton gets elected, she'll have the old rusted remnants of the machine that preceded this one (and likely be able to meld the two machines together). At least Barack Obama holds out the promise to be a different sort of politician. Just looking at the three campaigns, and seeing how differently they operate shows me that.

I'm still not ready for acceptance. I've got to believe that the American people--those paying attention at least--are growing weary of having the wool pulled over their eyes. There are times when a President must be secretive, but I am sick to death of everything being lied about. I think the success of the blogosphere shows that people are taking a more active role in politics. And I'll do my level best to continue exposing New speak wherever I find it--even if it is in my tiny little corner of the blogosphere.

FOX "News" Reporter Jokes About Obama Assassination

Yep, she sure did. I'm not sure more should be made of this than your typical FOX "News" dumb comment, but there are some folks out there wanting to alert the authorities. It might be fun to make her sweat, I suppose. . .


Fox News contributor jokes about assassinating Obama.

Today on Fox News, the former New York bureau chief of the Washington Times, Liz Trotta, discussed Sen. Hillary Clinton’s (D-NY) recent remarks about Robert F. Kennedy’s assassination. After mistakenly calling Obama “Osama,” Trotta joked that it would be nice to see them both killed.

Source: Think Progress

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Karl Rove Will Not Deny Involvement in Siegelman Case

In my previous post, I compared Hillary Clinton campaign advisor Terry McAuliffe with Republican uber-demon, Karl Rove. Compare and contrast the way Rove answers George Stephanopoulos with the way McAuliffe answers Chris Wallace. Spooky, ain't it?

Terry McAuliffe on FOX "News" Sunday

I've written a lot lately about my disdain for politics as usual, particularly the "creating our own reality" type practiced by Karl Rove and his successors in the Republican party. The relentless ability to stay on message under any circumstance, no matter what questions an interviewer might throw at you. The twisting of facts to fit around your manufactured scenario, so that it feels like it could be true.

Stephen Colbert created a word for this very thing, called truthiness. People practicing truthiness are deliberately out to deceive you in some way. They're trying to sound just credible enough to get you on board, while knowing full well that they're being manipulative. People like that have no respect for the people they're herding. Rush Limbaugh does this to his listeners, and they lap it up. When someone attempts to do it to me, it pisses me off.

Today, Terry McAuliffe, Hillary Clinton's campaign adviser, was on the barely watchable FOX "News" Sunday. Interviewer Chris Wallace was tenacious, and aggressive (a tactic he reserves for Democrats), hitting McAuliffe over and over again with questions about Clinton's "assassination" comments. McAuliffe repeatedly dodged and spun, smiling all the way, staying on point, and spewing buckets of truthiness.

I'd forgotten what this guy is like. He's a Democratic Karl Rove. And whether she's doing it on her own, or at McAuliffe's direction, Hillary Clinton is behaving exactly the same way. Enough. This kind of politics--win at all costs, even at the expense of misleading your constituents--makes me want to vomit. We need something different. Maybe a change?

Click the link after CONTINUED to see the video (FOX's video link was wiping out my page formatting. . .stupid FOX!).


Evil Dead: The Musical

No, I'm not kidding. I have to hand it to their art department, the riffs on Hairspray and Mama Mia! are brilliant. Hope the show is. . .

Source: Ooh La La Mag

(Warning: some images may be Not Safe for Work)

McCain Set for a Blowout?

Photo from source, Politico

It shouldn't even be possible. With the dire--and long-term--unpopularity of the current Republican President, and the equally dire state of affairs in the United States, a Republican win in November should be historically impossible. The fact that the possibility exists is very disheartening to this Democrat, and holds the possibility for profound disappointment this fall.

I frankly cannot imagine what will happen to liberals and the Democratic Party should McCain win in the fall. It would represent a loss in a scenario where loss should not be possible. I'm not sure the party would even survive. I suppose the upside could provide the opportunity for off-shoot parties to arise, and give us more than two parties to choose from in the future. But, man, at what expense?

The Obama/Clinton battle has simply got to come to an end soon, if only to shore up the odds a little. I'm still relatively optimistic. I believe that the contrast between old, short, hunched over, more-of-the-same John McCain versus young, tall, energetic, hope-for-the-future Barack Obama will be stark in a debate scenario. I've got to believe that America is ready for a change.


GOP strategists mull McCain ‘blowout’

It sounds crazy at first. Amid dire reports about the toxic political environment for Republican candidates and the challenges facing John McCain, many top GOP strategists believe he can defeat Barack Obama — and by a margin exceeding President Bush’s Electoral College victory in 2004.

At first blush, McCain’s recent rough patch and the considerable financial disadvantage confronting him make such predictions seem absurd. Indeed, as Republicans experience their worst days since Watergate, those same GOP strategists are reticent to publicly tout the prospect of a sizable McCain victory for fear of looking foolish. . .

Read more at: Politico

Barack Obama Forgives Clinton's Assassination Quip?

Image from source, ABC News

Really? Are you kidding me?

While I was appalled by Hillary Clinton's invoking of Robert F. Kennedy's assassination as it correlates to Barack Obama's campaign, I also had a little sigh of relief upon hearing it. I'm convinced that Hillary Clinton intends to push her hopeless campaign all the way to the Democratic National Convention, and I thought--as bad as this gaffe was--that it would force her to finally withdraw, and allow Barack Obama to take on John McCain head on.

But hearing that Obama is going to forgive the comment makes me dread the continuation of this crazy, overlong contest. Mr. Obama, we know that you're a nice guy, and that you intend not to play politics as usual. You want to be above it all, and that is one of the things your supporters love about you. But forgiving this unforgivable tactic is only allowing Hillary Clinton to continue her campaign of politics as usual! Aaarrrgh!


'You Get Careless': Obama Blames Clinton RFK Quip on Stress of Long Campaign

Sen. Barack Obama gives Hillary Clinton the benefit of the doubt that she had no hidden meaning when she invoked the assassination of Bobby Kennedy as an explanation for remaining in the Democratic presidential race.

"I have learned that when you are campaigning for as many months as Sen. Clinton and I have been campaigning," he told the Puerto Rico radio station Isla, "sometimes you get careless in terms of the statements that you make. And I think that is what happened here. . .

Read more at: ABC News

Blast from the Past: 80s & 90s TV Comedies

Ah, nostalgia. Say what you will about the TV landscape, television today is pretty high class. Outside of lame comedies like According to Jim, and reality TV in general, TV these days is pretty top notch. Shows like Boston Legal and Medium and many others are fast-paced, plot-rich, and engaging. Shows from the eighties and earlier simply would not play these days.

But for post-baby-boomer, early Generation-Xers like me, some of the classic shows of the 80s & 90s will always hold a soft-spot in our hearts, regardless of their merits. Here are a few of my favorites, even though they'd only last a few episodes these days.

#1 - Gimme a Break - A standard-issue sitcom with racist overtones, this show cast a fat black woman (Nell Carter) in charge of a bunch of white kids. Still, she managed to rise above the premise.

#2 - Herman's Head - A tragically underrated sitcom from FOX's semi-early days. It starred William Ragsdale (Fright Night), who had a cast of characters in his head that represented his various emotions. Also starred Yeardly Smith (Lisa Simpson) and Hank Azaria (countless other Simpsons characters). Very funny, and would probably play today.

#3 - Empty Nest - The brilliant Richard Mulligan (Burt Campbell on Soap) played a widower who suddenly had to deal with his daughters moving in. Dinah Manoff (Marty Marachino--like the cherry--from Grease) played the crazy daughter, and paradoxically, troubled Kristy McNichol played the level-headed daughter. Throw in David Leisure (the lying Isuzu guy) and Park Overall, and you had a very, very talented cast. This quasi-spinoff of The Golden Girls had less of a following, but was just as funny.

#4 - Head of the Class - This was Howard Hessman's follow-up to his classic role as Dr. Johnny Fever on WKRP in Cincinnati (not counting his short-lived role as Bonnie Franklin's husband in the waning seasons of One Day at a Time). Here, Hessman played a throwback hippie teacher to a bunch of intellectually gifted students. Not a classic, but it was pretty funny in its day. And co-star Robin Givens married Mike Tyson, so. . .no wait, that's not so good. . .

Hal Sparks to Host Air America's Post Randi Rhodes Show

Photo from source, LTR

Love me some Hal Sparks. He was one of the primary reasons I watched Showtime's Queer as Folk, because he was just so funny and adorable. I have no idea how he'll do as a liberal pundit, but I may have to switch from Nova M Radio's The Randi Rhodes Show, if only for a little while, just to find out. And what is with that freaky tongue?


For those keeping track at home, the American Afternoon host wheel keeps spinning, as Air America has tapped former morning host Marc Maron and actor, comedian, musician and television personality Hal Sparks to hold down the fort for the next couple weeks. . .

Read more at: LTR

Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Young Turks: San Francisco Values!

Cue the scary music! San Francisco Values! You'd think that San Francisco, California was in a different country. Let Michelle Obama say something that conservatives view as "anti-American," and conservatives like Sean Hannity will assail her as though she is one of the seven horsemen of the Apocalypse. But San Francisco or Massachusetts is considered fair game for negative commentary. Excuse me? Aren't both places in the United States? How do they get away with this crap?

Pentagon Lost Track of $15 Billion: Whoops!

One of the favorite complaints by conservatives is how their tax dollars are spent. That makes sense, because they spend so much of their time and energy cutting down the number of dollars they actually have to pay in taxes. So, the dollars they can't protect become paramount--or so they say.

They whine about tax dollars going to school programs they disagree with, or "entitlements" for the "undeserving" (somehow Social Security Insurance goes into this category), anything to do with benefits for gay people, or controversial art projects. And yet, mysteriously, the incredible cost of the Iraq War gets left out of their spending worries. Much like it gets left out of the budget. It's incredibly hypocritical, and also predictable. Now, the Pentagon has lost $15 billion dollars. Conservatives will shrug, but then likely trumpet McCain's campaign issue of "cutting earmarks." Penny-wise and pound foolish? Or just foolish?

Shit, when I worked for a bank, I got put on probation for cashing a fraudulent $300 check. This was after saving the bank from a $2,500 loss, too. Is anyone being reprimanded--at least--at the Pentagon for this little bitty $15B error?


Spending On Iraq Poorly Tracked

The inspector general for the Defense Department said yesterday that the Pentagon cannot account for almost $15 billion worth of goods and services ranging from trucks, bottled water and mattresses to rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns that were bought from contractors in the Iraq reconstruction effort. . .

Read more at: Washington Post

McCain Fundraiser Downsized in His Own Home State

Image from Chaos Digest

There are a couple of things about this story that made me want to post an excerpt and link here. First of all, it's telling (and amusing) that a big John McCain fundraiser would have to be downsized for lack of interest in his own state. Second, that George W. Bush is obviously not a very good draw for fundraising.

But the thing that jumps out at me here is the very reason I believe so strongly in Barack Obama's campaign. The White House, which is fielding questions about this event , quite predictably and naturally lies about the reasons for its downsizing. Everybody, including the reporter, knows the real reasons, but the White House has to come up with bogus spin anyway.

We are so used to this sort of behavior from the White House and politics in general, we generally just shrug and say, "that's politics." Naive as it may seem, I really believe that Barack Obama offers an alternative to that sort of matter-of-course lying and acceptance ritual. Sure, eventually he could become a standard-issue politician. But he sure doesn't seem like it just yet, and at least holds out more promise in this area than either John McCain or Hillary Clinton.


Poor ticket sales, expected protests scuttle Bush-McCain fundraiser at Phoenix Convention Center

A Tuesday fundraiser headlined by President Bush for U.S. Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign is being moved out of the Phoenix Convention Center.

Sources familiar with the situation said the Bush-McCain event was not selling enough tickets to fill the Convention Center space, and that there were concerns about more anti-war protesters showing up outside the venue than attending the fundraiser inside.

Another source said there were concerns about the media covering the event. . .

Thanks to Stupid Monkey Planet for the link

Citizenship Test: Do You Deserve to be a Citizen?

Image from source, AOL News

People sometimes question why anyone still uses AOL. Long plagued--even in its heyday--with derision as "training wheels for the Internet," the service just doesn't get any love. I guess for me, it has to do with familiarity. Just like how I started with CorelDRAW v. 2 wayyy back in 1990 or so, and still prefer it (by a long shot) to Adobe Illustrator, I took up AOL after the demise of Prodigy, and have been with them ever since. I like the interface--though the buggy software sometimes drives me to the edge of dropping them forever.

Still, one of the delights of the service is that almost every day there is an item in the splash page that begs to be clicked. Whomever is responsible for their highlighted 5 or so items does a great job. Today, the thing I couldn't resist clicking on was a citizenship test. I've often wondered how many natural born citizens could pass the test if forced to do so. And I'm happy to say, I scored 100% on the test with very little deliberation on any of the questions. How would you do?

Greenlee Gazette Challenge: Click the link, take the test, and report back here in the comments section! Which ones did you miss? Should people who fail be booted from the country? Do knee-jerk flag lapel-pin-wearing "patriots" do better or worse than commie liberals? Discuss!


LA Welcomes Record 18,000 New Citizens

Record crowds of immigrants - more than 18,000 in all - took citizenship oaths here Thursday, a showing credited to rising fees, a heated debate over illegal immigration and one of the brand-new Americans raising their hands. . .

Read more and take the test at: AOL News

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