Saturday, February 28, 2009

Steven Weber: State of Today's GOP

Photo from AOL

When it rains, it pours. In my previous two posts, I addressed what I see as the comic unraveling of today's Republican Party (or far-right conservatives in general). One of my favorite bloggers, actor Steven Weber seems to have been struck by the same idea, and has a great post up about it. So, here you go.


What Lies Beneath

It's been fascinating watching the once imperious Republican machine staggering around the very institutions in which they only so recently swaggered. The all-encompassing cluelessness that Repubs have lately shown is far more stunning than even the years of Democratic ball-lessness during the bleak Bush years. That was just maddening. This is ball-less, brainless, senseless, gormless -- and downright enjoyable. . .

Read more at: Huffington Post

Picture of the Day: The New Face of the Republican Party

I found this at The Stephanie Miller Show's "Photoshop Fun" section of their web page, and thought it went so well with my previous post (Today's GOP: A Cast of Cartoon Characters), that it needed to be here.
(Click to embiggen)

Today's GOP: A Cast of Cartoon Characters

My mom is often wrong about politics. But she told me something many years ago that stuck with me, and that I believe is correct. She said that the political pendulum swings from left to right, and that no matter how stuck it might seem on one side or the other, it will eventually swing back to the other side.

Over the last eight to 14 years, the pendulum got stuck deep into the red, seemingly tied there; maybe held with some kind of voodoo or black magic. I say this because of the ascendancy of extreme right-wing voices to the mainstream. I say this because while many liberals like me could "see" the reality, an artificial reality seemed to rule. Karl Rove and his political machine had a lot to do with that of course, with an echo chamber that would repeat anything--no matter how obviously untrue--and it would become conventional wisdom everywhere, except maybe The Daily Show, Air America Radio or Countdown with Keith Olbermann.

But--like my mom said--the pendulum finally became untethered, and came careening back to the left. The right tried to lasso it again and again--indeed they are still trying--but it remains elusive. In fact, that pendulum seems to have struck all remaining hard-right figures like pins in a game of Skittle Bowling, and has knocked them down or left them staggering. These great and fearsome characters have become something like cartoon figures. Consider:

- Congreswoman Michelle Bachmann
- Governor Sarah Palin
- House Minority Leader John Boner Boehner
- Governor Bobby Jindal
- Samuel "Joe the Plumber" Wurtzelbacher
- Drug-addled gas-bag (™The Stephanie Miller Show) Rush Limbaugh
- Ann Coulter
- Many, many others, including most of FOX "News" and right-wing talk radio

They're all laughable, easily mocked, and no longer only by "the far left." Everyone seems to be getting in on the act. And while I know the pendulum will swing back some day, I'm going to keep enjoying this. It's a schadenfreude sundae with a cherry on top.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Norm Coleman Withholds Evidence?

Image from Talking Points Memo

Can we just end this thing already? Al Franken won, Norm Coleman is cheating. . . FIX IT!


BUSTED ... Again!

Just when the election court in Minnesota had given Norm Coleman's legal team a break by reversing itself on a decision to strike a witness' testimony because Norm's lawyers withheld evidence from the Franken team, it turns out there's more evidence related to Coleman's lawyers' contact with this same witness that they still hadn't divulged until Franken's lawyer brought it out this morning on cross examination of the witness. . .

Read more at: TPM

Stuck on Stupid, Pt. 4: The Whole Crazy CPAC Crew

Keith Olbermann and Eugene Robinson did a great wrap-up of the big ball of crazy/stupid/desperate that is the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), and the current Republican Party in general. It's a hoot!

Stuck on Stupid, Pt. 3: Michelle Bachmann

This is funny for two reasons. First, Michael Steele, the leader of the Republican National Committee, already seems like a white guy trying to be "down" with the homies. Even me--a white guy--trying to relay what I mean, is ironically very much how Steele comes off. He's the unhippest black dude ever.

But then we have Michelle Bachmann, the batshit crazy Congresswoman from Minnesota. In the short time she's been in the national spotlight, she's already had several jaw-dropping televised moments. But, "You be da man, Michael Steele!" takes the cake!

Stuck on Stupid, Pt. 2: Mayor Dean "Watermelon Man" Grose

Image from source--yes--FOX "News"

Let's see. Assume that you got an email with a racist--or just offensive--image in it. But further assume that you're rather thick, and you don't get the joke. The offensive part eludes you. Most of us would either delete it, or maybe write the author, and ask "hey, what's the joke?" But if you are the Mayor of Los Alamitos, California, you send it around in a mass email! Of course, the setup is absurd, and of course he got the joke. And that he sent it around is as stupid as if he didn't get it in the first place.


Calif. Mayor Who Sent White House Watermelon Patch E-Mail Quits

The mayor of a small Southern California city says he will resign after being criticized for sharing an e-mail picture depicting the White House lawn planted with watermelons under the title "No Easter egg hunt this year. . ."

Read more at (why not): Fox "News"

Stuck on Stupid, Pt. 1: Joe the Plumber

There's a strange convergence of strange and stupid behavior by conservatives going on right now. It's called CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference), and it used to be an assemblage of the best and brightest of the conservative side of politics. They've always been a scary bunch to this humble blogger, but lately they just seem. . .I dunno, desperate? Crazy? Stupid?

Exhibit A in the parade of desperation, craziness and stupidity is one Samuel "Joe the Plumber" Wurzelbacher. As you know, he's not a licensed plumber, isn't named Joe, wasn't truthful in the incident that brought him to national prominence, and he's also a blithering idiot. And he wants to slap and/or shoot Congressmembers he disagrees with.

Where in the World is Randi Rhodes?

After a flurry of items, it has been several days since I've posted an update on the Randi Rhodes situation. Randi's been off the air for most of February, after the implosion of Nova M Radio. What is unclear, is whether she left because of that, or if Nova M collapsed because she left.

The news has been spotty and inconclusive. Randi's message board has been missing along with her, except for a vague and not very helpful message from a few weeks ago. But there is encouraging news! Sort of.

While listening to KTLK-AM out of Los Angeles on my computer, there was a curious spot that aired during (inferior) replacement Nancy Skinner's show. It was a crowd shouting, "Who do we want? Randi! When do we want her? Now!" It went by too quickly for me to figure out what it was. A mistake? A protest?

Then, later in the day, there was an actual statement, saying "The Randi Rhodes Show. As soon as she's talking, we'll be listening." Woo hoo! This leads me to believe that a) KTLK must have some sort of information that Randi is coming back, and that b) they're going to carry her show again! Which is great news, because I miss her. This has been a big news month, and Randi's voice would really help me sort out some of this stuff.

Oh, and that image at the top of the post is in rotation on KTLK-AM's home page, so keep hoping!

UPDATE: Even though I've used the internet since about 1992 or so, it didn't occur to me to actually click the image on KTLK's site until after I posted this piece. But once I did, I got this message: "As soon as Randi is back on the 'AIR', we will have her back on KTLK!!!!" Which is awesome.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Janeane Garofalo on Rush Limbaugh's Lack of Female Appeal

I love me some Janeane Garofalo, always have. I dug her radio show, I like her stand up comedy, and her appearances on Real Time with Bill Maher and other shows are always standouts. It is particularly amusing that she has a co-starring role this season on 24. Not only is her character entertaining, it's great that many of 24's biggest fans are greatly irritated by her appearance.

On Thursday's Countdown with Keith Olbermann, Janeane was on to talk about Rush Limbaugh's appeal to women, or lack thereof. It's great stuff. As The Other Half said, we could watch a whole hour with her as guest. Enjoy.

More Interest in Legalizing Marijuana. . .for the Economy

Photo from source, CBS News

Here's another story about the below-the-radar idea to legalize marijuana as a cash crop. Brought to you once again by Stupid Monkey Planet. Thanks Monkey!


Time For Marijuana Legalization?

Apparently, it was nothing personal after all. Apparently, it was strictly business all along.

After generations of defending capital punishment and marijuana possession laws on moral, ethical and religious grounds, after years of declaring that the death penalty acted as a deterrent against violent crime and that pot smokers were more dangerous to society than, say, alcohol consumers, all of a sudden thanks to our economic crisis more and more
mainstream powerbrokers are considering dramatic changes to our criminal justice system. . .

Read more at: CBS News

One Trillion Dollars in New Taxes. . .But for Who?

Rush Limbaugh (and his imitators, also-rans and never-weres) are trying to convince their listeners--and by extension the rest of us--that President Barack Obama's new tax plan is gonna get all of us. It's the biggest tax increase in history! So much for those campaign promises!

Well, not really. Yes it's probably the biggest tax increase ever, if you count the expiration of Bush tax cuts in the mix. But look where the taxes are going to be raised. See if you have any problem with it. Next time ditto-head friend or co-worker starts bleating about the raised taxes, ask them if they fit any of these categories. Betcha they don't.


Obama's Budget: Almost $1 Trillion in New Taxes Over Next 10 yrs, Starting 2011

On people making more than $250,000.
$338 billion - Bush tax cuts expire
$179 billlion - eliminate itemized deduction
$118 billion - capital gains tax hike
Total: $636 billion/10 years

See where the rest comes from at: ABC News

John Bolton Jokes About Annihilation of Chicago

Image from source, Mother Jones

What's left of the far right of the Republican Party is throwing its annual shindig in Washington, D.C. right now. It's called the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), and it used to be the hottest ticket in town. It's chock full of humor, mostly of the unintentional variety, like "Joe the Plumber." And there are also the things intended as humor that just aren't funny.

Former UN Abassador (by recess appointment) John Bolten--who once joked about the UN building being blown up--made a joke about Chicago being blown up. The crowd ate it up. Which tell you a little something about the crowd.

This CPAC thing used to sort of freak me out. Every bigwig conservative was there to curry favor, and the overriding message was far, far to the right. To me, it was an embodiment of the normalizing of far-right politics, something that wasn't true, but had quietly taken the place of more moderate views. With Sarah Palin, not-a-plumber Joe, and now Bobby Jindal, the GOP has become more of a punchline than a serious threat. I like it that way.


John Bolton at CPAC: The Benefits of Nuking Chicago

Former UN Ambassador John Bolton believes the security of the United States is at dire risk under the Obama administration. And before a gathering of conservatives in Washington on Thursday morning, he suggested, as something of a joke, that President Barack Obama might learn a needed lesson if Chicago were destroyed by a nuclear bomb. . .

Read more at: Mother Jones

Stranger Than Fiction: Stock Market and The Drudge Report

I sometimes run a stock ticker on my computer at work, and I've got to say, I could never work in a job that was linked to the stock market. It's just crazy. The thing can rise and fall hundreds of points in minutes. It's completely baffling to me.

Once in a while, I'll click over to, to see what they're saying about it. And they'll say things like "Stocks Rally on Bank Projections" while the DOW is falling precipitously. Then they'll say, "Stocks Dive on Bank Worries" as the DOW is climbing like a roller coaster lift. The headline is often the opposite of what is happening.

Yesterday, I went to the right-wing Drudge Report, and saw a graph of the diving DOW, along with the headline, "Was it something he said?" It was implying that President Obama's speech had caused a drop in the stock market. But as the day progressed, the stock market rebounded. I kept checking, and never found Drudge changing his tune. But apparently, he did. Then, when the market fell again, he changed it back. Honestly, I don't see how either CNBC or Drudge can assign blame or credit for anything as it pertains to the stock market. It changes so fast and so arbitrarily, how could anybody know?


Evolution Of A Headline: Drudge Blames Obama For Market Declines, Accidentally Gives Him Credit For Rally

Matt Yglesias wrote recently, “Not only is it obviously stupid for political commentators to be assessing the quality of economic policy by tracking the ups-and-downs of the stock market but the fact that the commentators who want to do this keep wanting to specifically use the Dow Jones Industrial Average just highlights their ignorance. Not only is there no particular significance to the stock market as such, but there’s no particular significance to this index.”

Read more at: Think Progress

Late Night with Jimmy Fallon Jindal & Kenneth the Page

Sigh. I was going to stay away. But how could I resist another Bobby Jindal post, when Jack McBrayer--Kenneth the Page from NBC's 30 Rock--responds to the comparisons made between the two? And on the brand new Late Night with Jimmy Fallon no less? Sorry guys, I couldn't resist.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Joe the Plumber to Advise Young Conservatives!

Photo from source, Huffington Post

I've been going on about the disastrous appearance of Bobby Jindal on Tuesday, and don't worry this post isn't about him. But it is about one of the other stellar lights in today's GOP: Samuel "Joe the Plumber" Wurzelbacher! This guy has gone from a disingenuous non-plumber, asking the future President Obama a question about taxes that was loaded with falsehoods, to a war correspondent who thought war correspondents should be outlawed. He's had several rumored and confirmed sidelines, from book writer, to country singer, to GOP economic advisor.

And now, he's going to be "advising" the green little up-and-coming Republican Youth! Brilliant!


On Thursday, conservatives will be descending on Washington DC, the place they like to slam the most, to galvanize their mission to take back Congress and the presidency. Reports say this year's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) will bring in record numbers despite it not being a midterm or presidential election year. According to The Washington Times, 7,000 people attended last year and 9,000 are expected this year. . .

Read more at: Huffington Post

The Young Turks on Rush Limbaugh & Jindal

I'm sorry! I just got done saying I'd lay off the Bobby Jindal stuff, but I. Just. Couldn't. Resist. I promise I'll try to get a little more diverse after tonight. But for now, watch this clip of Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks, delighted that Rush Limbaugh is defending--and threatening critics of--Bobby Jindal. Priceless.

Olbermann Talks About Bobby Jindal's Embarrassing Performance

Yeah, yeah. Two MSNBC posts in a row, and yet another one on Bobby Jindal. I'll try to lay off for a little while (unless I find something too good not to share). It will be interesting to see if Jindal continues to produce Palin-esque moments like he did last night.

Rachel Maddow Interviews Speaker Nancy Pelosi

I've said many times (probably too much) that I'm a fan of Rachel Maddow. And it isn't just because she's a liberal and she's on TV. Her show and her persona are so different from the standard-issue cable news talking head. She's thoughtful, and brainy, and asks the important questions, while being affable and interesting.

Tonight, she interviewed Nancy Pelosi on her MSNBC show, and managed to make a bit of actual news. The interview is chock full of important questions, and unlike many politicians, Pelosi actually answered many of them. In some cases, pointedly. I'm especially interested in the investigations into the Bush Administration for lawlessness. Check it out, it's pretty good.

Leave Bobby Jindal Alone!!!


Bobby Jindal = Kenneth the Page from 30 Rock?

The internet sure has increased the speed of thought, and reactions to political events. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal only gave his Republican response to President Obama's address a few hours ago, and he is all over the blogosphere now. And not in a good way.

Yes, we may have just found the new Sarah Palin. The far-right loves him as much as they love her, but it looks like he might be good for comedy. I found Jindal's speech a little odd, especially since he's widely considered to be "the next Ronald Reagan." What he's really like is the next "Kenneth the Page" from 30 Rock! Take a look. . .

See more at: Gawker

MSNBC's "Oh, God" Comment Starts a Brush Fire

You can count on hearing a bit about this today, particularly if you listen to right-wing talk radio or watch FOX "News." As I said in a previous post, Keith Olbermann (or maybe Chris Matthews) muttered "Oh, God" when Bobby Jindal's Republican response to President Obama's address started to air. It was pretty much my reaction as well, and it was also clearly an "open mike" oopsie. But the right is gonna have a field day.


In Depth: When Will MSNBC Learn?

. . .Right as Bobby Jindal walked up to the microphones someone on air muttered “Oh God” followed by laughter from the floor crew. Olbermann introduced the segment so I have to assume it was him. It could have been Matthews but he was remote from D.C. and I doubt his mic was live at that point. . .

Read more (if you must) at: Inside Cable News

Rachel Maddow, Speechless

After big political events, MSNBC is usually helmed by Chris Matthews, Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow. I particularly enjoy it, but it drives right-wingers absolutely nuts. Which is fine with me, I guess.

This video is from immediately after Bobby Jindal's Republican response to the President's address to Congress, and features a humorous moment, with Rachel Maddow absolutely tongue-tied. One other thing I noticed--which isn't included here--was Keith Olbermann's open-mike moment, as the Jindal video started. I'm not 100% certain, but it sure sounded like Olbermann groaned, "Oh, God. . ." Hee.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Bobby Jindal Repeats False "Disneyland to Vegas" Train Story

After a pretty good performance by President Barack Obama in his address to Congress, the Republican response was offered by Louisiana Governor Piyush "Bobby" Jindal. It was an awkward speech, and one couldn't help but notice the difference in tenor and presence between the two men. This is an important thing to keep an eye on, as Jindal is thought to be "The Next Ronald Reagan" by many on the right, and has been slashed a lot lately (examples: Jindal/Palin '12).

Unsurprisingly, I wasn't bowled over by the guy, his style or his message. Rachel Maddow was actually left speechless after Jindal's allusion to Hurricane Katrina. I was most taken aback by Jindal's reference to a high-speed rail system from Disneyland to Las Vegas that he says in the stimulus package. No such thing exists, but the line keeps getting repeated.

Jindal said that Republicans hadn't done much to gain the public's trust lately. He's right. And with lies right there in his speech, Jindal hasn't done much to earn it either.

Las Vegas' Casey Hendrickson Says Something Stupid

I've said here before that I often listen to one of the local Las Vegas right-wing talk radio stations on my short drive to and from work. Since FOX "News" has been all but banished in our household by The Other Half, I like to keep tabs on what the "other side" is up to. And today, I heard a couple of doozies from the local "talent."

On The Morning Source with Alan Stock this morning, the topic was "how are you cutting back in this economy." Uncharacteristically, the host seemed to be taking the topic seriously. But his boss--I did not catch his name--was pooh-poohing the whole premise. He basically said that unless you've been laid off, nothing had changed, and that people weren't cutting back unless they were scared. He said that it was mostly an "emotional" recession.

Really? I haven't been laid off, and neither has The Other Half. But we've both seen our incomes go down, and my hours at work have been reduced due to the recession. I've worked at the same job for 12 years, The Other Half for 25, and we've never seen it this bad. So yeah, we're emotional about it! With good reason.

But the real whopper was heard on my ride home. As you know, President Barack Obama was due to give an address to Congress at 6:00 pm, and the evening team was filling time until it started. The evening show features two winners from KXNT's American Idol-like "Radio Star" competition, Casey Hendrickson and Heather Kydd. They aren't the sharpest tools in the right-wing-talker shed. Both tend to be rather juvenile, and seem to rely on talking points that haven't been well thought out. They're rude to dissenters, with responses that are along the lines of "I know you are, but what am I?"

But that is my partisan position, and I realize that others might disagree. That's fine. It was the commentary leading to the address that was pointedly stupid. Kydd went on at length about how ugly Nanci Pelosi's green outfit was. And Hendrickson said (paraphrasing), "Barack Obama is the worst-spoken President I've ever heard." He predicted lots of "uhs" and "ums."

Are you kidding me man? Has Hendrickson been sleeping for the last eight years? Does he really think that Obama speaks more poorly than President George W. "Nuke-Yoo-Ler" Bush? Really? I'm trying to figure out if he's stupid, dishonest or both.

Tell you what, Casey. Go to Borders or Barnes & Noble this winter, and see if there is an "Obamaisms" calendar for sale.

How'd They Do It? America's Got Talent Sawed In Half

Usually, when you have a friend or acquaintance who sends you several emails per week, they are littered with urban legends, dire "virus warnings," painful attempts at conservative "humor," and oh-so-concerned warnings about how evil President Obama is. But every once in a while, you find a gem.

This one comes from America's Got Talent, a second-tier reality show that I have rarely watched. But damned if I wasn't impressed by this magician, who saws a guy in half and puts him back together very convincingly. Enjoy.

When is a Filibuster Not a Filibuster?

Photo from source, Huffington Post

Well, I'm stunned to say that I have been operating under an illusion for some time, as it pertains to filibusters. With the repeated threats by minority Republicans in the Senate to filibuster, my repeated cry has been make them do it! Why, I wondered, doesn't Harry Reid make them go out onto the Senate floor, and talk for hours on end? Why just shrug and say "OK, you win?"

But I guess the Hollywood (and Strom Thurmond) version of a filibuster is not required. They can just station one lone Republican in the chamber to stall with motions. That's it. Phooey.


. . .By threatening a filibuster, the shrunken bloc of 41 GOP senators has just enough members to prevent a vote, requiring Democrats to make concessions to pick off a few moderate Republicans.

Reid has heard the calls. But his answer will surely disappoint: Sorry. It can't happen. . .

Read more at: Huffington Post

President Barack Obama's Address to Congress

Tonight's Presidential Address to Congress wasn't officially a "State of the Union" address, but it may has well have been. And it is the first speech of its sort that I've been able to watch in eight long years where I didn't cringe. Whatever you think of the content of the address, one must admit that it is a nice change to have a President who is so well spoken. I even noted that "preventive" and "nuclear" were said correctly!

The content--to me--was pretty good. Necessarily dire, while at the same time hopeful. And the very clear point that people making $250,000 or less per year would be getting a tax cut makes it difficult for right-wingers to complain with any authority that taxes are going up. Because that would require them to be the champions of the rich, or at least the well-off.

Anyway, you can decide for yourselves beyond that short commentary.

Anti-gay Group Bashes Oscars

Image from source

I had to read the entire article excerpted below to figure out just how the Academy Awards lauded pedophilia in Sunday night's broadcast. Milk--the story of slain gay rights leader, Harvey Milk--took home a couple of awards, and star Sean Penn made a pointed acceptance speech, in which he mentioned California's Proposition 8.

All in all, I thought that Penn was fairly restrained--for him--and that his comments were fairly gentle. He wanted those who voted down existing same-sex marriage rights to reflect upon their decision, and warned that their grandchildren would be ashamed of them. As well they might, if twenty years hence the issue is resolved in gays' favor.

The article uses silly language, such as "The Oscar audience applauded madly. . ." Yes, they were clearly insane. And, "In a mean-spirited curse, Penn said, “I think it’s a good time for those who voted for the ban against gay marriage to sit and reflect on their great shame, and their shame in their grandchildren’s eyes if they continue that support. We’ve got to have equal rights for everyone.”. . . Yes, a curse. Equal rights for everyone. How horrible.

The pedophilia issue is apparently due to the subject matter of The Reader, a movie I'd never heard of before last night, which netted an award for Kate Winslet. The headline of the piece, and its implication, is that Harvey Milk (or homosexuality in general) has something to do with pedophilia, which is intentionally misleading, and wholly dishonest.

Not that I'm surprised. In fact, I almost didn't post this, as I didn't want to lend any more publicity to this ridiculous group that even my tiny little blog might lend. But it is important to show what kind of idiocy is out there; what kind of poison people feel they are free to spread with impunity. But be forewarned, should you follow this link and read beyond the excerpted article. These people are a bit twisted, and very, very interested in every element of "perversion" they find among gay people. But they don't stop there. They delve into kinky heterosexual events and--as mentioned--pedophilia, with the intent of linking them somehow to gay people. The folks behind this site are not healthy people.


So now it’s come to this: one of the leading men in Hollywood, which has no shame, says Californians who supported traditional marriage by voting in Proposition 8 should have “great shame.” Sorry, Sean Penn: the shame is on you: every Californian who helped Prop 8 pass — overcoming millions of dollars worth of free PR from pro-homosexual-”marriage” Hollywood bigshots like you — should feel tremendous pride, not guilt, in defending and preserving marriage as God ordained it. As usual, the elitists in Hollywood have it completely backwards: it is homosexual behavior that is shameful, not traditional mores. . .

Read on, if you dare at (the dishonestly named): Americans for Truth About Homosexuality

Monday, February 23, 2009

Jonathan Turley on Karl Rove's Latest No Show

Alison Stewart sat in for an ailing Rachel Maddow tonight, and did a pretty good job. The spot that stood out the most for me was her interview with Constitutional expert, Jonathan Turley. They talked about Karl Rove, and his latest refusal to appear before Congress, even though he has been subpoenaed.

Nancy Grace Fail

This clip from The Nancy Grace Show is obviously old, since they're talking about the "Duke Rape" case thing that turned out to be a bust. But it's a classic fail, and while I can't stand NG, it's fun to watch her get torqued off on camera.

Found at:

Hugh Jackman on the 81st Annual Academy Awards

Wow, blogging is tough tonight. It's not like things didn't happen today, I know. The stock market tanked, a few Republicans said incredibly stupid things, and John McCain got into it with Barack Obama over his Marine One helicopter. It's just that I'm not into any of those stories enough to write about them. Call it blogger fatigue.

So, how about a video from last night's Academy Awards? If you didn't see it, Hugh Jackman hosted, and put on a pretty good opening act. So, here you go. . .

Send Karl Rove to Jail (Please?)

Image from source, RawStory

If anybody else pulled this crap, they'd be escorted to jail. And there is almost nobody in this country who would have a problem with that. I've got to wonder if Karl Rove has got dirt on somebody, or several somebodies. What other reason could there be? He's never been elected to office. He isn't some kind of foreign diplomat with special immunity. He's an slimy little dweeb, who had a shaky case when he had a compliant administration to work with. What is saving his butt now?


Rove skips House testimony for third time

Karl Rove did it again. Or rather, he didn't do it again.For the third time, the former Bush official – and newly crowned king of D.C. Twitterers – failed to appear before the House Judiciary Committee to testify about his alleged involvement in the firing of U.S. Attorneys and the alleged political prosecution of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman. . .

Read more at: RawStory

Norm Coleman's Chances Slipping in Minnesota Senate Challenge

Image from Talking Points Memo

Is it time for Norm Coleman, the incumbent Senator from Minnesota to finally concede to challenger Al Franken? The fight has been going on since the November election, and has left Minnesota with just one Senator. Coleman won in a squeaker on election night, but not by enough to skirt Minnesota's mandatory recount law. After the recount, Coleman was behind.

But instead of conceding, he filed a lawsuit. That is going poorly now too, but the vibe I'm getting is, Coleman is going to drag this thing out as loooong as he possibly can, in an effort to keep the Democratic Senate from being one more vote closer to filibuster-proof. Which might be fine if things were going swimmingly in the country right now. But even on the outs, it looks like Coleman is in lock-step with the Republicans still in office, joining them as part of the party of "no."


Rulings have diminished Coleman's recount chances

The Senate election trial is a month old, enough time to ask: Does Norm Coleman have a chance of winning?

A series of court rulings have dealt the Republican long odds for overturning DFLer Al Franken's 225-vote lead. The three judges hearing the case have been only partly receptive to Coleman's bid to expand the field of ballots as he seeks more votes, and they brushed aside his claim of systemic problems with Minnesota elections. . .

Read more at: StarTribune

FOX "News" & GOP Lie About Disneyland to Vegas Train

Over the past eight years (or more), liberals like me have been frustrated by false stories that take a life of their own, and become conventional wisdom. Driven by Karl Rove, and aided by FOX "News" (now even more closely aligned), these partly or totally fictitious stories were fought by liberal bloggers with varying degrees of success. Like the myth of the "liberal media" many such stories simply will not die.

We hoped that with the change in the political landscape, this would stop happening. But since the election, we've had several attempts to keep doing it. Some don't really break through, remaining on the fringe, like the idiotic "Barack Obama isn't a natural born citizen" story. Others, like this one, could go either way.

It should be pointed out that there is a concerted effort to oust Nevada's Senator Harry Reid in 2010 by the GOP, and their aligned forces in talk radio and outlets like FOX "News." So, it is no surprise that they're trying to link him to this bogus story. It worked several years ago on Tom Daschle (with an unlikely assist from Jeff Gannon), so they are sure to keep trying.


Echoing GOP, Fox figures falsely claim Reid included $8 billion in bill directed to LA-Vegas rail

In recent days, Fox News hosts and contributors have advanced the false claim -- pushed by Republican lawmakers -- that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid included a provision in the recovery bill directing that $8 billion be spent on a high-speed rail line between Southern California and Las Vegas. In fact, the bill does not direct high-speed rail funds to any specific project, and any funding would be allocated by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, a former Republican congressman. . .

Read more at: MediaMatters

Sean Hannity Hawks Fraudster (Allegedly!) R. Allen Stanford

Image from source, LTR

With all of the depressing news in liberal talk radio (the missing Randi Rhodes, and related dissolution of Nova M Radio), it is heartening to see that right wing talk radio has its problems too.

All radio hosts read testimonials for products that leave you scratching your head (Rachel Maddow hawking skin cream?), and many of the products they're selling are a little hinky. I've heard right and left wing hosts chatting up Tanya Roberts in scripted "interviews" for Tahiti Village timeshares (here in Las Vegas). Left and right also both run commercials--with scripts read by the hosts--for buying gold.

Well, Sean Hannity has found himself in a spot of trouble for the gold guy he is sponsored by. And while the Manatee (™John Cleese) may honestly have had no idea that R. Allen Stanford was a con-man (allegedly!), he did read personal testimonials for the guy. And Sean is infamous for railing about "guilt by association," particularly as it pertained to unsavory characters who knew (or merely lived in the same area as) Barack Obama. The shoe is on the other foot now, Sean. What say you?

By the way, I've often wondered if products sponsored by partisan hosts do as much damage as good for their clients. Sure, many of the sponsors advertise on all sorts of radio stations, left, right and neutral. But I know that I'll never eat at a Ruth's Chris Steakhouse. Not because they have an incomprehensible name, but because Sean Hannity endorsed them so heartily.


Hannity fraud insanity

If you ever sought hard evidence that Sean Hannity doesn't proofread the talking points put in front of him, or even ponders them personally, here it is:

"Stanford Coins & Bullion, a member of the Stanford Financial Group, their name is as good as gold."

Here's a suggestion for all of you. Never, ever accept financial advice from Sean Hannity. . .

Read more at: LTR

Red State Update: Bristol Palin & Abstinence

Hee hee! I just love these guys. Bristol Palin, abstinence, teen pregnancy, and Greta Van Whatsername are the subjects, and Jackie and Dunlap do their usual, hilarious banter. Check it out.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

81st Oscars: The Good and the Bad

Image from source, MSNBC

Every year, I watch the Academy Awards. I don't know why exactly, because invariably, I've seen very few of the movies nominated. The show is always very long, filled with schlocky song-and-dance numbers, montages and stilted, scripted "banter" between the presenters.

But you know what? I liked it this year. It would be pretty difficult to dislike the host, Hugh Jackman. He can sing, he can dance, he can deliver a joke, and he ain't hard on the eyes. And with Jackman as the lead in the song-and-dance parts, they were actually good. The "best song" was for some reason truncated to three nominees, none memorable. So, despite Peter Gabriel's protest that his song was cut down to a snippet, it was a wise decision.

The presentation of the major awards by past award winners was great, creating anticipation: "Who's going to come out?!? Cher? Helen Hunt?" The presenters were--for the most part--better than usual, with Tina Fey, Steve Martin, Natalie Portman and Ben Stiller providing laughs. Also, they didn't play the music to give long-winded winners the boot. . .but I didn't feel like anyone went on too long.

Now the bad. The curtain-puller early on in the show goofed pretty badly, and is probably having a very bad night. The "In Memoriam" segment was shot weirdly, with the camera zooming around, making it difficult (even on our big HDTV) to see who was being featured.

And finally, the ridiculous adulation for Slumdog Millionaire. OK, I get it, people liked it. But I'd never even heard of this film before it was nominated. The subject matter, and type of film it is don't interest me at all. And while I don't mind it picking up an award here and there, a virtual sweep was quite tedious. If it was so deserving, why weren't the actors nominated for awards? Fortunately, Heath Ledger (best supporting actor as The Joker in The Dark Knight) and Sean Penn (best actor as Harvey Milk in Milk) won awards, or the awards part of the Academy Awards would have been a bust for me! Those were two of the only nominated movies I'd seen!


Slumdog Millionaire’ fulfills its Oscar destiny

"Slumdog Millionaire” is the Academy Awards champion, wrapping up its ghetto-to-glory story by winning best picture and seven other Oscars, including the directing honor for Danny Boyle. . .

Read more at: MSNBC

DVD Movie Review: Bill Maher's Religulous

I finally got around to watching Religulous this morning, Bill Maher's documentary about the ridiculousness of religion. It wouldn't be fair to say that Maher is being mean here. . .mostly, he just asks honest questions of the religious. Christianity is the prime focus, but Islam, Mormonism, Judaism and even Scientology are given some attention. Many others aren't, but that is likely because the audience for this film is largely American, and these are the religions we are most familiar with.

Maher is an agnostic bordering on atheism, which is exactly what I am. He even seems to have arrived at his conclusions in much the same way. Talking snakes, Jonah living in a whale that is also a fish. These things struck me--and Maher--as utterly ridiculous even as teenagers. Maher makes an interesting hypothesis in the film that religions start with a wacky idea, because if believers will swallow that, you've got them hooked, and will believe anything.

Maher travels to several countries for the film, including the Netherlands (specifically Amsterdam), England, and the Vatican. He gets rousted from both the Vatican and from a spot in front of a Mormon temple in Salt Lake City, Utah. The special features include expanded monologues from these locations, since they are edited down in the film. All of his monologues are quite interesting.

But Maher is preaching to the converted when it comes to me. The Other Half--raised Catholic, since fallen--seemed to enjoy the film too, but his response was a little more muted than mine. That Catholic upbringing is very deeply ingrained, it would seem, and many of the old beliefs and traditions can't be 100% argued away. We both enjoyed Maher's interview of a radical priest at the Vatican, who acknowledged the artificial layers of pomp and circumstance added to Catholicism since the church's founding.

But the problem for unbelievers like Maher and me, is that we see the world rationally and logically. I will freely admit to being irrational and illogical on occasion, but I do not put those thoughts in a box and declare them correct. I recognize those types of thoughts as wrong, and do my best to correct them. With religion, it is required to accept--even celebrate--the cognitive dissonance that results in holding irrational, unprovable beliefs to be true. Faith is only required in areas that are fantastic, supernatural, unexplainable. If it was all laid out, everything made sense, and Jesus went on CNN and proved everything, faith wouldn't be required.

So, this film's attempt to logically and rationally show the ridiculousness of religion will only change the mind of a person who was questioning anyway. The deeply religious don't care if there are countless, previous religions with very similar myths to their own. It doesn't matter if the New Testament seems like it was cribbed and cobbled together from earlier faiths. All can be explained away by faith. . .and a little fan wank. Believe it.

My review: Highly recommended to thinkers and the open minded. All others, beware.

Featured Site: TV Tropes

Wow. In my last post, I mentioned "Wiki-holes" and their many cousins on the internet. Basically, it is the phenomenon of getting sucked into a site so deeply that you look at the clock and it is hours later. One thing leads to another and the day (or night) is gone.

My last post got me enmeshed in yet another hole, a TV Tropes-hole. The site is dedicated to the conventions and contrivances in story-telling, mostly in TV but in other genres as well. And I'm telling you, one link leads to another. Basically, the site is for people who are too smart for the source material.

The job of a work of fiction is to engage your "willing suspension of disbelief." But if the writing or acting is bad, you get sucked out of that story zone. TV Tropes points out all the ways that can happen, and more. The terminology and the various sources sited land squarely in my pop culture sweet spot. Maybe yours too. Here's just an example of the types of entries you'll find at TV Tropes. . .


Tropes are devices and conventions that a writer can reasonably rely on as being present in the audience members' minds and expectations. On the whole, tropes are not clichés. The word clichéd means "stereotyped and trite". In other words, dull and uninteresting. We are not looking for dull and uninteresting entries. We are here to recognize tropes and play with them, not to make fun of them. . .

Go on, you'll have fun (and lose several hours) at: TV Tropes

Lost in Translation

Image from Wikipedia

I've spoken of "Wiki-holes" in the past; the act of reading one Wikipedia listing after another until a ridiculous amount of time has passed without your knowledge. Countless other internet-"holes" exist, from IMDB-holes to (undoubtedly) porn-holes. Heh.

Well, I've just climbed out (for the moment) from an Amazon-hole. Nothing kinky, just reading some commentary accompanying Bill Maher's release of Religulous on video. There's a fervent batch of discussions brewing there between Bible literalists and agnostics/atheists. And I find the back-and-forth fascinating. The discussion that sapped my time this time was one between the "there are no contradictions in the Bible" faction, and the dissenters.

Now, whether or not there are (and IMHO, there are), the contradictions between Genesis and basic freshman Earth Science pretty much clinched it for me, all the way back when I was 14 years old. But many cling to the idea that the Bible is inerrant, despite the many authors, rejected gospels, and the translations and re-translations.

One point caught my eye, though, and I had to share it here on the blog. Here it is:

"Computer translation of The Spirit is Willing but the Flesh is Weak from English to Russian then back to English became The Whisky is Strong, but the Meat is Tainted."

Says something about translations, doesn't it?


UPDATE: I'd also like to point out something interesting (at least to me). I've participated and read message boards for as long as online communication has been available. The topics are many, but some of my favorites (outside of religion, and gay rights discussions) are fan sites. And in fan sites--whether the topic is The Terminator, Superman, Aliens, Seinfeld, Friday the 13th or any other work of fiction--there is the phenomenon of the "fan wank." A fan wank is an explanation by a fan that clears up problems in continuity. The fan makes an effort to explain away an uncomfortable diversion from established facts. They are rarely supported by "canonical" evidence.

This is exactly the same MO you find on religion boards. Contradiction in the Bible? Fan wank. Where did Able and Cain find wives that weren't their sisters? Fan wank. How was "light" created before the sun and moon and stars? Fan wank. In fact, Biblical apologists are likely the grandaddies of fan wankdom.

More on fan wanks: Here

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Solution for the Economy: Tax the Booze, Legalize Pot.

Image from oscarmonteforte

This article was passed to me (like a doobie) by Stupid Monkey Planet. I've gotta say, it makes more sense than a lot of other economic plans I've heard. . .


Smoke This Recession
It's simple: First we tax the booze. Then we legalize the pot. Done.

. . .Where to begin? How can the city/state refill their empty coffers and further gouge the populace to make ends meet? Increased bridge tolls? A new per-mile driving tax? Heavier parking fines? State parks abandoned and left to seed? Child's play, darling. . .

Read more at: SF Gate

Blu-Ray Movie Review: Friday the 13th (1980)

Image from source,

Yesterday, I headed into Fry's Electronics to pick up Bill Maher's Religulous. While I was there, I happened upon the newly re-released Friday the 13th Uncut on Blu-Ray. As a (very) long-time fan, I had to have it. Even though I've previously owned the VHS, possibly on laserdisc, and later on DVD. But I'd heard that the "uncut" version had come out to coincide with the remake film, which is scaring up money in theaters right now.

I've related my personal experiences with the film on this blog before, so I promise, this is the last time. It was Summer, 1980. I was between junior and senior high, and snuck out with my brother and our friend. We knew of a hole in the fence at the drive-in, that came out in a trailer park. So, we took lawn chairs, snacks and sodas and ducked into the hole. We set up under a speaker in the front row, and were shortly joined by three similarly aged girls. My brother and friend had a good time acting older than they were with their "hot chicks." Me, I just played along.

Anyway, at the final "shock scene," I jumped up out of my lawn chair--spilling the girl onto the gravel--and struck my head on the speaker. When I plopped back into my chair, the dislodged speaker than came down onto my head. Needless to say, the scene worked. So my nostalgia for the film and series in general is more than just the quality of the movie.

The first thing I noticed about the new Blu-Ray version of the film was how clear the images were. Now, I know, they're supposed to be--this is Blu-Ray--but I've seen this film a dozen times, once on the big screen. And it never, I mean never looked this good. My memory of this (and subsequent) films has been the washed out, muddy colors and no particular artistry to the cinematography. This film fixes that. It's gorgeous. . .and it was shot in New Jersey! The second thing was how young Kevin Bacon looked, and how dated the clothing and hairstyles were. Why we ever thought short-short cut-off jeans looked good on guys I'll never know.

The "uncut" portions are hard to figure out. I gather that they originally snipped fragments of seconds from each of the "kills," and have put that back, holding each shot just a moment longer. But no scene stands out as dramatically new. There is an axe to the face shot that may have been put back in, but as a Fangoria reader, I'm so familiar with the makeup, I can't be sure. What I can say is that Tom Savini did a bang-up job on a shoestring budget. Blu-Ray (and time) do not render the effects "fake," at least they didn't to me.

The picture is great. The sound is great. The special features are for the most part as clear as the movie, with lots of interesting things. Adrianne King, Betsy Palmer, Tom Savini, Sean S. Cunningham, even the kid that played the fantasy "Jason" are there relating their making of the film. If you're a film buff, especially if you have an affinity for this movie, it is definitely worth your $22. If you are under 30, and have no nostalgia for the film or the series, don't bother. I've seen a few reviews from "kids" like this, and to paraphrase Tim Curry from The Rocky Horror Picture Show: "They didn't make it for YOU!"

It's for we children of the 70s and 80s, who remember the first days of MTV. The days of changing channels with a knob. The days of rotary phones, transistor radios, vinyl records, and goofy slasher films. If you're a Friday the 13th fan, you can't explain it. You kinda had to be there.

Today's GOP: The Party of "No!"

Have you been paying attention to the remarks and actions of the Republican Party since the November elections? Mostly, they've insisted that they have a say in things, even though when the positions were reversed (and they were in power) they barely acknowledged the existence of the opposition party. In fact, the GOP actively squashed any input by Democrats for most of the Bush Era. They even talked about "the nuclear option (nuke-yoo-ler, if you prefer)" for eliminating the filibuster, which would have left Democrats absolutely powerless.

But the positions are reversed these days, and Democrats--particularly President Obama--have made a very public show of trying to include Republicans. Even though they don't have to. And Republicans for their part are threatening a filibuster to everything, making every move by the Senate require a super-majority. Why on earth Harry Reid doesn't threaten his own nuclear option, or at least force Senate Republicans to act on their filibuster threats, is beyond me.

One thing is clear: The GOP of today is the party of "no." While they accused past Democratic minorities as "obstructionist," they are taking that label to a Whole. 'Nother. Level. It's really not surprising, when you consider that "no" is pretty much what "conservatives" of today are all about. Consider what they are against:

- Abortion, always, no matter the circumstance.
- Entitlements for ordinary people, even if they have been paid into for years by recipients.
- Gay rights in any form, particularly marriage rights.
- Taxing or restricting religion in any way, even if they are meddling in politics.
- Sex education. So what if abstinence doesn't work?
- Regulation of anything. No restriction on companies that pollute, or on predatory lending.
- Science. Global warming, evolution, stem-cell research; name the science, they're against it.
- Restrictions on guns of any kind. Let us take our guns to church! The airport!
- Government intervention, unless it's money for big business, or meddling in our private lives.
- The Constitution, unless it pertains to guns. Warrantless wiretaps? Unreasonable search and seizure? Religion mixed into politics? It's all good (as long as a Republican is in charge).

So what are they for? Take the above list and flip it. God, guns and (no) gays. That's pretty much it, except for the "fiscal responsibility" mantra, which they completely ignored for the last eight years. Right now, the GOP is truly a party in exile. They've been whittled down to a far right extremist party.

Unfortunately, the far-right has had a spotlight shone on it for quite some time now. Ann Coulter. Rush Limbaugh. Sean Hannity. Mark Levin. These types of people, and their message used to be the "far-right fringe." They were not mainstream. But with their omnipresence on TV, radio and bookstores, the public thinks they are mainstream conservatives. And they think that the message they spout is credible. Most people don't dig below the surface to find out if what is being said is true. Hey, they're on TV, on a news channel. What they say must be true, right? Wrong.

Fortunately, many Americans have figured out that much of the far-right message is bull pucky. Reality has a way of slapping you in the face like that. So, I'm hopeful that this far-right group being painted as mainstream kind of dies away. But I actually heard Ann Coulter call Rush Limbaugh "right down the center" recently. Really, Ann? Then exactly who would she consider to be "far right?"

Bill Maher's New Rules, Feb. 20, 2009

HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher came back from a long hiatus last night, with its first show since the Bush Era ended. Maher acknowledged that it was the first time he'd had a television show when we didn't have a hillbilly or an illiterate moron as President. As you can see, he's still "politically incorrect." And his New Rules segment was pretty good too, so check it out.

Eliza Dushku's Alien Hulu Commercial

Everybody saw the Alec Baldwin Hulu commercial, touting the video service as a brain softener. It was probably one of the best commercials run during Super Bowl XLIII. Now, former Buffy the Vampire Slayer and current Dollhouse star Eliza Dushku has the second installment of what is hopefully a series of ads.

Friday, February 20, 2009

The Crisis of Credit, Visualized

The problem with trying to understand the financial crisis is that if you don't have a degree in economics, it's just too complicated to grasp. At least for me. Plus, you've got partisans from both sides trying to spin the facts to favor their side, and place all of the blame on the other.

This must-see video spells out in easy to understand terms, exactly what happened. Assuming of course, that the makers of the video aren't spinning too, but they sure don't seem to be. Anyway, you can educate yourself in two short videos, and feel like you grasp it a little better.

Utah's Sen. Buttars Calls Gays "Greatest Threat to America"

Image from

You know, one of my big issues on this blog is that of religion and politics. I don't like the mixture much. And one of my other big issues is fighting overt homophobia. Gays are one of the few groups that can often be publicly maligned with impunity. And that's wrong.

But the biggest theme present here at Greenlee Gazette is an overriding sense of immaturity and inappropriate humor. I just can't help it. So when I saw that this was Senator Buttars, and that the character of "Butters" from South Park was at a "ex-gay" camp in one episode (see picture), I couldn't resist the juxtaposition. Which is a long way to go to say, "heh, I thought it was funny."


Buttars: Gays 'greatest threat to America'

He called the gay-rights movement "probably the greatest threat to America," likened gay activists to Muslim radicals and dubbed same-sex relationships "abominations."

Now Sen. Chris Buttars finds himself in a familiar place: under fire amid demands he step down. . .

Read more at: The Salt Lake Tribune

Socialism and the Right

Image from Media Matters

There has been a lot of whining, raving and--in Mark Levin's case--shrieking about socialism since the issue of the stimulus plan came around. It goes back further, actually, with most of the right-wing blowholes calling Barack Obama a socialist during the election. But the fact of the matter is, we've had elements of socialism in the United States for a very long time.

Roads, schools, police departments, fire departments and many other things are essentially socialized. Other than schools (screwls, in Limbaugh parlance), you don't much hear right-wingers complaining about these things. But, if it is health care, jobs or entitlements, well my friend, we are on the road to ruin! Now, I am no financial expert, and I have no idea how good or bad this stimulus plan is really. But I feel confident that the Limbaughs, Hannitys and Levins are wrong, because they usually are.

The Huffington Post has a great article up right now with a challenge. If the stimulus plan is evil socialism, well then don't participate. Give the money back! Don't take the job! Do you think they'll do it?


Sean Hannity's Ridiculous War Against Socialism

. . .There was Sean Hannity on television: breathlessly announcing the red dawn of "socialism you can believe in." "The New America." He called the recovery bill, "a liberal hijacking of the American way of life." Uh-huh. Hijacking. Terrorists rather than goblins on the wing. I get it. And even though we just wrapped up eight years of the largest government expansion in our country's history, Hannity derided the recovery bill as "the largest government expansion in our country's history. . ."

Read more at: <>Huffington Post

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Obama Must Render Decision on Rove Wednesday

Image from source, TPMMuckraker

More good news--and reason for hope--for those of us who want to see justice served in the (oldy moldy) contempt of Congress charges against Bush Administration officials. What the House, Senate and President Obama should know is, we'd be happy with one little piggy roasted: Karl Rove. Anything else would be gravy.


Judge: Obama Admin Must Weigh In On US Attorneys Fight By Weds

Are things finally coming to a head in the long-running effort to get testimony on the US Attorney firings from key Bush aides?

Read more at: TPMMuckraker

Nancy Pelosi Thinks Prosecution of Bush Officials Possible

Photo from source, Think Progress

Nancy, Nancy, Nancy. I want to believe you. But that whole "impeachment is off the table" malarkey has soured me on your willingness to investigate the truth as it pertains to Bush Administration officials. I'll cross my fingers, but my faith is low.


Last month, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said she is open to pursuing investigations of abuses by the Bush Justice Department. “I want to see the truth come forth,” she said. But in a new interview with Rolling Stone, Pelosi went a step further, saying that she believes some senior Bush officials — such as Harriet Miers, Josh Bolten, and Karl Rove — will be prosecuted. . .

Read more at: Think Progress

Olbermann's Worst Persons: Palin, Limbaugh and Hannity

I usually try to avoid running two posts from the same source in the same day. But tonight's Worst Persons in the World feature on Countdown with Keith Olbermann was too good to ignore. Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Sarah Palin would surely rank in the top 10 of my "enemies list"--possibly top 5--so seeing all three in one big, national put-down had to go on the blog!

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