Friday, March 31, 2006

Is Dean Converting the Skeptics?
This article makes it sound so, but who knows where they come up with this stuff. I still appreciate Dean's strategy: to compete everywhere the Party has to be less concerned with a few individual races and more concerned with the overall health of the organization nationwide.
A new DNC hire -- finance director Carl Chidlow -- was brought aboard to help bridge the two cultures. Chidlow was deputy finance director for Sen. John Kerry's record-setting presidential bid and considered one of the party's best professional fundraisers.

A friend says Chidlow decided to accept Dean's job offer after finding evidence that Dean truly was committed to competing everywhere. One of Chidlow's prime tasks today: to evangelize Dean's state-based efforts to major donors.

And Dean has one supremely important new ally who, when he goes public, will almost certainly help with donors. In late February, Dean traveled to Harlem and sat down with former President Bill Clinton, often said to be privately disparaging of Dean.

But as Dean walked Clinton through his 50-state capacity-building project, Clinton became a convert. He vowed to help Dean win the attention of donors.
No clue if that last part is true - how would anybody know? Might be an inaccurate leak from Dean's people for all we know--what's Clinton going to do, come out against the direction of the Party a few months away from the most promising congressional election Dems have had since '92? But I hope it's true because I really do believe in the 50-state, long cycle strategy

I'm going to show my support by sending a few measly bucks in the direction of the DNC. You may want to do the same.

Once the summer is here, I'll pick a race or 2 to support as well.
Only a Matter of Time
Bird flu's coming to the West Coast
"The H5N1 virus in birds is expected in the next couple of months in the United States," California Health and Human Services Secretary Kim Belshe told reporters on Thursday at a state bird flu pandemic preparedness meeting.

Officials said the virus was likely to be carried into either the east or west coast of the United States by migrating birds starting their journeys south, either from Alaska on the Pacific Flyway, or the Atlantic Flyway on the other side of North American continent.
Not panicking. Not panicking. Not panicking.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

An Important Lesson in 21st Century Financial Transactions
Credit Cards and the fast-food Drive-Thru don't mix.
Would a hockey referee vouch for you?

It's Abramoffukah in March! Jack's going to jail for six years, in spite of character references from rabbis and hockey refs. Watch out for your cornhole, bud.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Christian Contract with America
You may not have noticed - or had to duck and cover in your neck of the woods - but there is a "war on Christians" going on. And some of the principal defenders of the faith just had a conference with that theme. during which they passed a 10-point list of demands which, apparently flow logically from The Declaration of Independence.

You gotta love that old school King James-looking font they use for the first letter of each paragraph (remember how Christian we were when we used fancier calligraphy?). Essentially the plan calls for such Christian ideals as: better protection of free religious exercise, anywhere and everywhere and for any reason; criminalization of abortion and cloning; stomping out whatever possibility of gay marriage might still linger; plus, lowering taxes (uh..what?), protecting our national borders (because Jesus was all into that), and the enforcement of private property rights (now i'm really confused..).

Missing is any reference to assisting the poor (unless you count the child tax credit which they endorse), feeding the hungry, clothing the naked (unless you count their opposition to pornography/art), offering any assistance whatsoever to the needy outside of our borders, the encouragement of peace, or tolerance for any kind of difference (in fact one bit of legislation they push would make sure you could never be tried for a "hate crime" if your religion made you do it.)

Most peculiar to me is their pressing 2 bills I don't understand at all:
The Parental Consent Act to prohibit the use of federal funds for any universal or mandatory mental health screening (H.R. 181);
The Child Medication Safety Act, to protect children from being coerced into taking drugs in order to attend school (H.R. 1790);
And now I'm too depressed to look them up. Anybody know who it is that might be forcing our children to take drugs to go to school, or what mental health screening might be especially threatening?

And, as Kevin Drum relays via the Carpetbagger, don't assume these are a bunch of no-count freaks. In attendance are none other than Tom Delay and Senator Cornyn of TX, and 2008 Presidential hopeful Sam Brownback.

Monday, March 27, 2006

What have you been reading, watching, listening to?

Tiny Painting
I don't know why, but this really freaks me out, that someone could, and then would, paint a panda on a human hair.

Not Ready To Make Nice
New Dixie Chicks album comes out in May. Already the single's on the website showing that they're not interested in capitulating to the forces of evil. Warning: when you click here to visit their homepage, the audio begins. All the lyrics to the cut are there as well. I'm a little nervous about the music because they seem to have abandoned the folksy/bluegrass edge that made "Home" so marvelous. Then again, that's about the most prominent french horn you'll find in any country track. Interesting (but bordering on cheesy) use of orchestration in the buildup.

Lyrically, here's my favorite part:
I’m not ready to make nice
I’m not ready to back down
I’m still mad as hell and
I don’t have time to go round and round and round
It’s too late to make it right
I probably wouldn’t if I could
‘Cause I’m mad as hell
Can’t bring myself to do what it is you think I should

I know you said
Can’t you just get over it
It turned my whole world around
And I kind of like it
I like that "I kind of like it." They're not just refusing to apologize. They like that lines have been clearly drawn with them on one side.

A new Media Monday category
Interpretive Beatles Juggling (thanks LE)
The Sopranos Thread
What did you think?

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Si se puede!
Now this is what a protest looks like.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Hey Skippy, still getting a sense of his soul when you look in his eyes?
The Pentagon says today that Russia provided intel to Saddam on US military plans near the beginning of w's war on Iraq in 2003. Guess you know what that means, Comrade Putey-Pute!
"Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists. From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime."
The Family Tree Branch
On 2/21 in a comment on Don's post about the Dubai ports deal and whether we indeed have three branches of government, I opined:

"The three branches of government are the white house, the pentagon, and the innermost circle of family, appointees and near-family (financially tied)."

Two items I've seen today reaffirm the coziness and generosity found in that third branch:

The Battle Axe's Katrina donation goes to Neil; and
Uncle Bucky is a war profiteer.

Ain't that sweet? Now, what have you done for your family lately?

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Shameless Self-Promotion
I try not to cross-link to my posts at Blog from the Capital. If it was your kind of thing, you'd already be reading it, right? But I think even the rest of you might like to know that if our children don't read the Bible in public schools, the terrorists will win!
Money Quote
Kyle eulogizes Chef
A lot of us don't agree with the choices the Chef has made in the last few days. Some of us feel hurt and confused that he seemed to turn his back on us. But we can't let the events of the past few weeks take away the memories of how Chef made us smile.

We shouldn't be mad at Chef for leaving us. We should be mad at that fruity little club for scrambling his brains.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

South Park---Chef
Taking a bite out of crime?

Today, Atty Gen Alberto Gonzalez announced indictments of 50 Columbians for drug trafficking.

Last week, Gonazlez announced that a huge internet child porn ring had been busted.

Call me a cynic if you will, but I wonder whether some magical planetary alignment suddenly produced all this crime busting, or if a memo went out to bush's cabinet ordering them to do something - anything - high profile to make this administration look effective in any way possible that might divert attention from the monumental incompetence of the white house.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Is this what happens to people that can't pass algebra?
Or just a more general stupidity from our favorite drug addict radio host? Atrios handles it well, so I don't have to do the math.
That Was Fast
tomorrow's [South Park] episode, the first of the 10th season, will feature "the triumphant homecoming of school chef, Jerome McElroy," Comedy Central announced. (Yes, that is Chef's name, as diligent fans know.) Stan, Kenny, Kyle and Cartman are happy to have him back, but "they notice that something about Chef seems different," according to the statement. The episode, titled "The Return of Chef!," will be on at 10 p.m. Eastern time. A spokesman for Comedy Central said there was no word on who would do Chef's voice.
It's already the fastest-responding show around, but this would seem to set a record even for them.

Monday, March 20, 2006

What have you been watching, reading, listening to?

The Sopranos (Warning: Spoilers!)
Let's leave the comments thread free of Sopranos spoilers just in case someone hasn't seen yet, but I'll throw in my 2 cents worth here, so scroll down past this entry if you're waiting to catch last night's episode later in the week.

I thought it was a really fabulous episode, better than last week. I loved the metaphorical "who am i?" story that ran parallel. And I thought that Edie Falco was tremendous--displaying that kind of grief the situation called for but with lots of other emotions ornamenting it: frustration with AJ, contempt for her friend whose name I can't remember. Here's my problem: if Tony doesn't come back, and soon, I'm going to be disappointed. He is easily the most multi-dimensional character, whose perspective and particular self-understanding have framed our entire experience of the show. This is not a story-driven mob plot, the Sopranos. At its best it's a character study, and while some of the other characters are well formed and fascinating, Tony is the show. All that to say, let's bring him out of this coma, sans brain damage, and soon. I'll watch the others jockey around for power position for a week or so, but that's not really why I like the show. Couldn't help but notice that he didn't appear in any of the coming-next-week scenes.

Lastly, I hope they're not preparing to make AJ suddenly a completely different person than we already know him to be. His threats were kind of creepy, but if the show pursues them and makes him out to be anything other than fundamentally bungling then they're making a mistake.

Al Gore on Film
Just finished reading a story in The American Prospect on Al Gore, and it included this bit of info I didn't know about.
On May 26, Paramount Pictures will release “An Inconvenient Truth,” a made-for-theatres version of Gore’s digitized global-warming movie presentation. (Hundt says Gore views global warming as “the biggest challenge this species ever faced, the ultimate nightmare of technology, the ultimate nadir of pure capitalism unfettered.”) Deadening as it sounds -- Gore giving a slideshow on climate change -- the film received a standing ovation at Sundance and excellent reviews that seemed to leapfrog consideration of the work and trigger a larger reassessment of the man. The Village Voice’s Amy Taubin called him Sundance’s Celeb of the Week, and marveled at all the attendees saying, “He’s so amusing. Why wasn’t he more like that when he was running?” Kim Voyner at was similarly appreciative, writing, “Gore is surprisingly entertaining, peppering the salad of scientific facts he serves up with sparks of humor, wit, and insight that frankly, I didn’t know he had in him.”
More info on the film here.

South Park Online
The South Park Scientology episode--reportedly canned this week because Tom Cruise threatened not to promome his new movie if they ran it again (he denies that) is not only going to air next week thanks to all the publicity, it's also posted online for all to see (via Volokh Conspiracy). You need a pretty good and fast connection to make it work. But while you're at it, make it a double feature and watch my favorite SP episode: "All About Mormons"

Weekend Box Office
1 V for Vendetta
2 Failure to Launch
3 The Shaggy Dog (is Tim Allen on drugs again?)
4 She's the Man
5 The Hills Have Eyes

Poker on the tube
An article on Newsweek/MSNBC recently called poker the third most-watched televised sport, behind car racing and football. I watch 3 or 4 programs a week. What/how often are YOU watching?
From the eyelash of the storm

One week ago this morning, residents of Springfield, IL waited for daylight to see the extent of damage from the previous night’s storms. Two F-2 tornados scraped across most of Springfield's southern third from west to east on Sunday, March 12; storm sirens sent us to our basements (and kept us there) three times between 8 pm and 3 am. Our satellite went out around 8:20 pm, a quick listen to the radio alerted us of a tornado on the ground to our west/southwest, then the power went out. We relied on occasional cell phone calls for updates, but when the vicious rain and wind stopped to a dead calm at one point, we knew plenty.

Monday morning, daylight revealed the first tornado’s path, about a mile south of our house (the second one set down a few hundred feet east of where the first one dissipated). We were lucky: our power was only out til Monday, and we had no damage. Over 1600 other structures' owners weren’t so lucky, although the sirens apparently resulted in no loss of life. Dozens of businesses, hundreds of homes, and city and state services were damaged and without power.

Blocks of residential neighborhoods look like East Nashville did after the April 1998 tornado – tons of old trees down, roofs gone, 250+ houses destroyed, with some concentrations of destruction causing city leaders to predict no power restoration for up to a year in those areas. Schools were damaged, many without power, streets were closed because of power lines down, and school buses tangled in power lines and poles, so schools were closed for most of last week. Mail delivery and garbage pickup were delayed city-wide, hotel rooms were filled as several hotels were hit, and temporary shelters were established in unaffected school gyms.

The rest of the community responded and continues to respond with food, supplies, chain saws, shelter, fundraisers, and blood drives. And hey! FEMA got here in less than a week, whew. Crews are scrambling today to get trees and limbs cleared from streets because we’re expecting 3 to 8 inches of snow tonight (Springtime in the Midwest). With or without snow, recovery will take time and the scars will be visible for years, but Springfield will recover.

Of life's frightening, stressful experiences, many are much easier a second time and any subsequent times we go through them because we know they weren’t as bad as we feared. Others are worse with successive occurrences because we know how bad they can be. For me, I’ve got to say tornado proximity and fear/stress have a direct correlation, and hope I don’t get to test that again anytime soon.

If you missed our 15 minutes of fame on national news last week, look at the State Journal-Register’s photos and coverage.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Morality, Legitimacy, Credibility
Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter's National Security Advisor, is no dove. Here's what he had to say yesterday about the state of the union. (via think progress)
First, where are we? The answers to this are easy, and on this I can be quick. The war has proven to be prohibitively costly. American leadership, in all of its dimensions, has been damaged. American morality has been stained – in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. American legitimacy has been undermined – by unilateral decisions. American credibility – particularly the case for the war, has been shattered. Leadership depends on morality, legitimacy, credibility. The economic costs of the war are escalating into hundreds of billions of dollars. More importantly, American casualties are in the thousands, with more than tens of thousands maimed. We are not even counting Iraqi casualties; we prefer not to know what they are.
Read the whole thing.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

This is the largest lead Democrats have held over Republicans in the 2006 campaign thus far, and the largest lead Democrats have enjoyed among registered voters in a midterm election since 1982.
via kos.
The National Center for Men...
I think their lawsuit is ridiculous. If men haven't learned that the who, when and where of getting pregnant can be a complete freaking mystery, it's time they did and started taking contraception into their own, er, hands. If not being a dad is that much of a priority, either don't have sex, always use a condom (and not a cheap old one from a truck stop bathroom), or get a vasectomy. "She told me she couldn't get pregnant" is hardly an excuse. You're a father. Pay up.

What do you think?

Meanwhile, Will Saletan has proposed a men's bill of rights in response that is quite funny...

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

My Evil Twin Did It!
That may be the hilarious defense of Claude Allen, Bush's chief domestic policy advisor accused of being, well, a serial thief. Best part of this story not likely to get enough ink? That the White House knew about at least one criminal charge and let him keep his job.

Once, just once, wouldn't it be nice if this White House actually owned up to a problem ahead of time and put a little priority on responsibility and accountability? Don't they know how much better this story would be for them if the first news was about how the White House had fired an advisor who was being charged with shoplifting? I suppose it *is* more entertaining that they wait until they have to scramble and dance around the embarrassing details...

Monday, March 13, 2006

What have you been watching, reading, listening to?
(No Sopranos giveaways! Some of us haven't seen it yet...but please offer thumbs up/down reviews on the first episode in almost 2 years.)

South Park Smackdown
Isaac Hayes is quitting his role as Chef on South Park. He says the show is too nasty to religion. I suppose the response of the show's creators pretty well precludes him coming back and making up.
"South Park" co-creator Matt Stone responded sharply in an interview with The Associated Press Monday, saying, "This is 100 percent having to do with his faith of Scientology... He has no problem - and he's cashed plenty of checks - with our show making fun of Christians."

Last November, "South Park" targeted the Church of Scientology and its celebrity followers, including actors Tom Cruise and John Travolta, in a top-rated episode called "Trapped in the Closet." In the episode, Stan, one of the show's four mischievous fourth graders, is hailed as a reluctant savior by Scientology leaders, while a cartoon Cruise locks himself in a closet and won't come out.

Stone told The AP he and co-creator Trey Parker "never heard a peep out of Isaac in any way until we did Scientology. He wants a different standard for religions other than his own, and to me, that is where intolerance and bigotry begin."
Weekend Box Office
1. Failure to Launch
2. Shaggy DA
3. The Hills Have Eyes
4. 16 Blocks
5. Family Reunion

I have to scroll down to #13 to find one I'm remotely interested in. And that's Dave Chappelle's Block Party. Still, it will take me a while just to catch up on the Oscar movies from last year.

C-Span Watching
Russ Feingold will introduce his resolution censuring the President at 4 ET. Here's the text (pdf), and here's a forceful, direct expression of his thoughts in a blog posting. He's shaping up to be my next great Presidential candidate disappointment. Anyone else decveloping a hankering to go down in flames with him?

This I could do without
Is anyone else thoroughly annoyed by the NPR morning segment "This I Believe"? Everything from the theme music on. I guess some people must like it. Are you one of them?

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Go Feingold
Calls for censure of Bush.
[I]n a copy of the censure resolution obtained by ABC News, Feingold asserts the president, "repeatedly misled the public prior to the public disclosure of the National Security Agency surveillance program by indicating his administration was relying on court orders to wiretap suspected terrorists inside the United States."
"We, as a Congress, have to stand up to a president who acts like the Bill of Rights and the Constitution were repealed on Sept 11, [2001]," Feingold said.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Game Time--let's hear it

wow do the Cats look terrible. 6 points in the first 11 minutes.

someone made a shot! could KY break 20 by halftime? They should be losing by 25.

signs of life...tubby reaches deep into the bench. somehow winning 23-22 going into the half. unbelievable. Alabama has to be kicking themselves.

cats go up by 5, still missing wide-open layups and playing sorry defense, proving that KY at their worst can beat AL at their worst, because they are. Both teams deserve to be getting spanked right now. first team to wake up wins.

AL back in front with 13 to go. Ramel Bradley looks like he's playing for the other team.

Ew. Alabama woke up first. 10 pt. lead. KY looks like they've never played basketball before. could get ugly.

crunch time - down 9 with 6 mins to go. get it in to the big fella.

giving it a run. down 4 with 3 1/2 to play. all the sudden everything's going in for both teams.

[side note - who's the biggest loser if KY is knocked out? the city of Nashville...if the KY fans roll out of here the downtown crowd will thin to a trickle.]

lead's down to 2 with 2:15 to play.

tied up. 1:21 to go.

wow - KY 2 pt. lead. 1 to go.

up 4 with 37 seconds to go. helluva comeback.

cats win...unbelievable. crowd's going crazy. downtown merchants sigh of relief.
O'Connor's Pissed
Couldn't get Blogger to cooperate yesterday so we missed some good stuff. But todays all are abuzz about a speech given by the retired Supreme Court Justice at Georgetown U. She wouldn't allow her remarks to be broadcast but there are several reports. Read one here.
O’Connor observed that there have been a lot of suggestions lately for so-called judicial reforms -- recommendations for the massive impeachment of judges stripping the courts of jurisdictions and cutting judicial budgets to punish offending judges. Any of these might be debatable, she said, as long as they are not retaliation for decision that political leaders disagree with

I, said O’ Connor, am against judicial reforms driven by nakedly partisan reasoning. Pointing to the experiences of developing countries and formerly Communist countries, where interference with an independent judiciary has allowed dictatorship to flourish, O’Connor said we must be ever vigilant against those who would strong-arm the judiciary into adopting their preferred policies. It takes a lot of degeneration before a country falls into dictatorship she said, but we should avoid these ends by avoiding these beginnings.

If Georgetown or anyone else has an audiotape or videotape of the retired justice's words, we would strongly urge them to release it (with her permission). If the NPR report accurately reflects what she said, this rises to the level of President Dwight Eisenhower's 1961 warning about the "military-industrial complex" -- and should be heard by all.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

GOP Congress, country music stars stand up to king george

Not only have we seen GOPs in Washington stand up to bush today on the ports deal, now Music Row has stood up in the form of probably their genre's biggest star couple, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill. The Louisiana and Mississippi natives let him have it on his miserable leadership and response to Katrina.

I'll be curious what the reaction is in wal-martamerica: do they start burning CDs and Dixie Chick them, or what?

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Creepy and unappetizing, at the very least
Have you guys seen this furry lobster? Since my last posting on something furry caused trouble, let me be clear up front this is not a euphemism, it's really a furry lobster. This was the first thing I saw this morning, not a pleasant way to start the day.


Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Timing is on our side(?)
Lots of consternation, fright and depression surrounding the news of the last couple days. The Supreme Court was unanimous in smacking down law schools that were trying to support gay students by not allowing military recruiters on campus (the same way they don't allow any recruiter on campus who discriminate). And in South Dakota, the Governor signed a law that essentially outlaws abortion a: nd will likely serve as a challenge to Roe v. Wade.

Maybe I'm just on Spring Break and feeling a bit, well, rested. But I'm thinking there's some good news in here.

First, let's face it. There are not enough straight troops left to fight all of George Bush's battles. If ever there was a time when the military might be amenable to scrapping the anti-gay discrimination policy, that could be now. So, the timing may be right to have had the issue raised. It may take a little while - but by the time we get a new President, assuming it's not another complete wacko, it may be time to do what Clinton sort of tried to do: end the practice of discimination in the military. If the military had somehow lost this battle in court? maybe they dig in with more intransigence.

As for the issue of women's rights, my position and strong feelings are well known. The South Dakota action is completely indefensible, disgusting, disheartening, and hateful. But, if ever this issue were to have to come up post O'Connor, isn't this the best possible time?

For one thing, Alito and Roberts' answers on this issue are fresh in everyone's mind (including their own) and the lovefest for O'Connor is still in the air.

For another, the people of the US simply don't approve of this kind of legislation. Poll after poll confirms that a majority of Americans don't want abortion to be illegal. Even South Dakotans are split about 50-50 on that issue. So, having this come up now - in an election year - reminds voters all across the country what happens when you elect Republicans: they use the legislative process to impose on the country their faith-based bigotry and need to control women. Bringing this issue to the front - so long as we can mobilize and get voters out to the polls - is a sure way to keep Republicans on the path to defeat this November, making this kind of legislation that much less likely should the timing be worse.

And when would the timing be worse? That's my last point of optimism. The quicker this gets before the Supremes the more likely we are to prevail. We still have 5 votes, so long as kennedy holds the line and not a one of them is enticed by some kind of Roberts-led "compromise." Let's get it in front of them before Bush - or, god-forbid, some other Republican president - has a chance to nominate another justice. But even if they do, having this out there now makes it more likely that we can have the kind of Senate that won't allow the next Alito to be confirmed.

Sorry Article 19 readers, I meant to post this message during Media Monday. This Sunday, after almost 2 years, the hit show The Sopranos returns for its 6th, and supposedly, final season. So bake up some ziti, invite your crew over and don't forget the gabagool.

Is anyone else excited about this? I recently finished watching all 5 seasons on dvd, and I'm completely hooked on the show. In my opinion it is the best of the current tv drama (West Wing and Law & Order fans hold on to your horses).

You say you can't remember what happened during the past 5 problem. The Chicago Tribune has put together an article that includes a summary of each season, as well as a list of the top 10 killings.

If watching wasn't enough, now you can place a bet on which character is the first to get whacked. My guess is Vito. If there are other Soprano fans out there, I'd love to hear your thoughts.
Thank you for blogging for Wal-Mart - UPDATED 3/8/06

Bloggers are sometimes called citizen journalists, and have begun to receive the flood of spin that PR professionals deluge MSM journalists with; do they do any more due diligence with that information than the MSM? Should they?

A NYTimes article, found via Huffington Post, details one of Wal-Mart's tactics in their new campaign to "tell their story" and change their image as a retail hellhole, via outreach in the blogosphere. An employee of their PR firm, Edelman, is a blogger who spreads propaganda for Wal-Mart and has seen his messages reproduced verbatim on other blogs -- something "old media" news release writers have experienced many times back in the day of printed newspapers.

Many serious bloggers (those making a living at it, and those uncompensated but passionate) strive for credibility. If they don't credit or double check a source, whether it's another blog, a newspaper, or a PR flack, do they have a right to expect to be seen as credible?

UPDATE: A new article on flackery featuring Edelman and this approach in the New York Observer, including a "greed is good" observation from Richard Edelman:

“P.R.,” he said, “plays much better in a world that lacks trust.”

I'm so proud.

Monday, March 06, 2006

What have you been reading, listening to, watching?

Playing it Safe
Kenneth Turan has a great Oscar column in today's LA Times: "Breaking no ground: Why 'Crash' won, why 'Brokeback' lost and how the academy chose to play it safe."

Oscar reaction
What did you think? of Jon Stewart? any acceptance speeches catch your attention? of Crash upsetting Brokeback to win best picture?

I thought Stewart was good - kind of a weak start but he warmed up. The gay western montage was hilarious, and the political ads were great. He was at his best when he was ad libbing with the flow of the show.

Liked Clooney's speech.

Really shocked that Crash built enough mo to beat Brokeback. And I think it's too bad.

My wishes for Oscar nights in the future: leave out the song performances. leave out the speech by the Academy President. leave out the useless montages, like the commitment to addressing big issues? and, it's been about 15 years since I saw Five Easy Pieces but what was the big issue there? I saw a scene stuck in that montage and if memory serves, the "big issue" in that scene was Jack Nicholson being upset that he couldn't get a sandwich served the way he liked at a diner. and you'd cut a half-hour off the show, plus have a couple minutes left over to actually allow the best picture winner to finish their speech. What they did to the Crash producer woman last night was embarrassing. You didn't see Clint Eastwood getting that kind of treatment that's for sure.

Friday, March 03, 2006

It's "Retro Rights Remembrances" Friday!

Along with paying off your credit card bill and having Big Brother check you out, as Don notes below, there are some other recent news items that make us fondly recall the days we had certain freedoms and rights in this country, such as:

Free speech, a flashback from Colorado;
Free speech, from New Mexico and the VA;
Privacy, from St. Louis.

What's your favorite memory of democracy?
"Promoting global terrorism under the guise of paying a credit-card bill"
Via AmericaBlog. Is this scary? Or just bizarre?
They were told, as they moved up the managerial ladder at the call center, that the amount they had sent in was much larger than their normal monthly payment. And if the increase hits a certain percentage higher than that normal payment, Homeland Security has to be notified. And the money doesn't move until the threat alert is lifted.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

More on the Katrina Video
I'm not sure how much credibility New Orleans Mayor Nagin really has left, but this somber bit in the Washington Post story stuck out to me:
In New Orleans, Mayor C. Ray Nagin (D) was visibly shocked when shown the recording by reporters.

It "seems they were aware of everything . . . that we would need lots of help," Nagin said after a post-Mardi Gras news conference. "Why was the response so slow?"

When the video ended, Nagin turned away and said, "Oh, God."

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Read this new AP report:
In dramatic and sometimes agonizing terms, federal disaster officials warned
President Bush and his homeland security chief before Hurricane Katrina struck that the storm could breach levees, put lives at risk in New Orleans' Superdome and overwhelm rescuers, according to confidential video footage.

Bush didn't ask a single question during the final briefing before Katrina struck on Aug. 29, but he assured soon-to-be-battered state officials: "We are fully prepared."

The footage — along with seven days of transcripts of briefings obtained by The Associated Press — show in excruciating detail that while federal officials anticipated the tragedy that unfolded in New Orleans and elsewhere along the Gulf Coast, they were fatally slow to realize they had not mustered enough resources to deal with the unprecedented disaster.
Stupid, stupid states
Every $1 a state spends on family planning services, from education to contraception, saves that state $3 on "pregnancy-related health care costs," according to the Guttmacher Institute. So what have they done?
At a time when policymakers have made reducing unintended pregnancies a national priority, 33 states have made it more difficult or more expensive for poor women and teenagers to obtain contraceptives and related medical services, according to an analysis released yesterday by the nonpartisan Guttmacher Institute.

From 1994 to 2001, many states cut funds for family planning, enacted laws restricting access to birth control and placed tight controls on sex education, said the institute, a privately funded research group that focuses on sexual health and family issues.

The statewide trends help explain why more than half of the 6 million pregnancies in the United States each year are unintended...
Once again, the American Taliban yields its influence to the detriment of the poor and the uneducated. Woohoo, values!