Friday, June 30, 2006

To the chagrin and ridicule of some, I picked up the only newspaper I can really access on the road: USAToday. 2 stories right up front--maybe they were just feel-good weekend stories but they worked on me.

First, a new vaccine. Chris Rock does a funny bit where he complains that science hasn't cured anything since Polio. And it can be depressing to hear the same devastating diseases continue to raise awareness, year after year, (and money for research) only to persist. But there is an amazing breakthrough vaccine--a real, ready-to-use, get your children immunized vaccine--that will protect women from the virus that causes 70% of cervical cancer. What a fabulous development!

Second, whether you realize it or not, it's safer than ever to fly, because of little-publicized technological advancements that make it harder for pilots to miss noticing a couple of important things: mountains and runways. And what prompted this progress? The article spells it out--maybe you can guess what I think is the most important...
After two of the worst airline crashes of the 1990s — TWA Flight 800 and ValuJet Flight 592 — a White House commission headed by Vice President Gore issued a recommendation that many scoffed at.

The accident rate should be cut 80% over the next 10 years, the commission said.

The goal issued in 1997 seemed impossible at the time. There were many ideas on how to improve safety, but little consensus about priorities and who should pay for improvements.

Nine years have passed, and, according to the Federal Aviation Administration, the nation is on a pace to meet that goal.
Frothy Freedom Friday B4 the Fourth

Junichiro has left the building: w takes his buddy to Graceland, Graceland, Memphis Tennessee.

Cat fight: Star v. Babwa, round 3, or the dark side of 'I thought it would be so fun to work with all girls.' Star says Barbara is a hypocrite but she won't denigrate her. Mind you, I don't give a snap about any of them or the show, but it's fun to view the feud.

Tomcat fight: (I know this is not typical FF fodder, but just in the interest of gender equality) blogger boys, conflict is OK but let's keep our eyes on the prize.

Adios, Senorita Arbusto: Jenna gets a gig in "Latin America", after twin Babs takes Manhattan. And in a related story, DC nightclubs cut 10,000 jobs this week.

The FF quote of the week, from E! online:
"Ugliness is better than beauty because it lasts longer, and in the end, gravity will get us all."
-- Johnny Depp

Yeah, right. In honor of the holiday, good ol' Amurican gin & tonic w/ lime to start the weekend off.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Political Donations
We're at the end of the quarter. If you're in a position to help out candidates with a little green, or if like me you just can't help yourself, this is the time to do it. So , where spend your money? For me, I'd like to think about re-taking the Senate. That means throwing a little money Harold Ford's way here in Tennessee. Or if you're excited by the thought of a resurgent Democratic Party in the West, maybe you'll want to look at Montana's Jon Tester, who got a glowing report from Kos yesterday for his debate performance. Or take a chance on defeating Lincoln Chafee in Rhode Island, whose worst vote is the one he casts for Republican Senate leadership.

What I wouldn't do personally is spend any money on defeating Lieberman in the primary, as crappy as he can be. His loss would do nothing toward regaining control of the Senate and controlling the agenda. It would make us feel good...and so I'll be rooting against him, and that's about it.

If you want to support the longer term 50-state organizational strategy of Howard Dean, you may want to give to the DNC.
Travel Days
Today and tomorrow. What am I missing?
Write your own punchline.

Yahoo News headline: "Operation removes lightbulb from anus."

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Pat Robertson must be on vacation,
and not having his calls from God forwarded.

Otherwise, he would surely be telling us that this horrible flooding caused by torrential storms in the Washington DC area is because God is punishing those she blames for the Katrina nightmare, right? And maybe giving a little extra bounce to Al Gore's Inconvenient Truth, while she's at it.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Taking a Stand
Democrats in the Senate are trying to hold up the GOP's plan to give themselves all a pay raise on the heels of refusing to raise the minimum wage. Dems sound fired up and determined, and it's about damned time (Read Russ Feingold's Kos diary on the subject.). Also, voters love to pound on politicians for raising their own pay. My only beef with this strategy is that I would tie it to every failure, not just the minumum wage. They don't deserve a pay raise because of that, but also because they've failed to make headway on immigration legislation, failed to conduct oversight in intelligence and the war, failed to develop an energy policy, failed to fix the screwed up Medicare drug plan, failed to balance the budget (or even care about that), failed to support the rebuilding of the gulf coast, failed failed failed failed failed.
I refuse to feel sorry for him, even though his pathetic life is testing that resolve. An excellent post at Talkleft on the subject here. Atrios asks an important question. And AmericaBlog has some interesting, though probably inaccurate, speculation.

But, hey, by having the drugs in his doctor's name, at least he avoided unnecessary public attention, right?

[UPDATE: If you like laughing at Rush as much as I do, you'll want to read this DKos diary, by someone who managed to get through the call screeners]

Monday, June 26, 2006

What have you been listening to, reading, watching?

New Sonic Youth Album
Rather Ripped gets 4 stars.

Elvis Costello
Has 3 new offspring in the news: a tour with New Orleans great Allen Touissant(which he talked about with Rolling Stone), a new recording w/ Touissant called "The River in Reverse" (ON its way to my mailbox even now--I'll let you know what I think), and an actual flesh-and-blood baby, with singer Diana Krall.

Article 19 Film Recommendation
More later on Inconvenient Truth which I saw on Friday--check back tonight--but quickly I can echo what you've already heard: it's a film that should be seen by everyone. And it's a message we can't afford to either ignore or forget.

When Trekkies Play Games
Flipping channels over the weekend I stopped at G4TV, seeing for the first time The Spock Market. I have no idea how it works. There was a Star Trek episode playing in the middle of the screen, a stock ticker at the bottom, and constantly updated statistics on the left, keeping count of such things as how many times "Spock says 'illogical'" "Kirk pauses for dramatic effect" and "Things look dire for the Enterprise." A small box displayed a chatroom. I don't understand it, but I know it's disturbing. Very disturbing.

Weekend Box Office
1. Click
2. Cars
3. Nacho Libre
4. Fast and the Furious: Return of the Stupid Summer Movie
5. Waist Deep
14. An Inconvenient Truth (even though it's sliding a bit down the comparative charts, the $2 million weekend was its biggest yet)

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Having seen An Inconvenient Truth on Friday--it's great/frightening/jaw-dropping, but more about that on Monday--I have a better understanding of why today's news in the LATimes is bad. Really bad.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

David Ortiz
Best clutch hitter in baseball. Ever. Another game-ending home run. There are 2 strikes, the game is tied, bottom of the 10th. The Red Sox know he's thinking HR. The crowd is on their feet calling for it. The Phillies catcher knows to be careful. The pitcher knows to be careful. And he still does it.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Hitler v. Coulter
Take the quiz! (via Yglesias)

It's Take Your Dog to Work Day and nearly 1 in 5 workplaces supposedly allow people to bring their pets to work. Hey, they look and smell better than some coworkers, are more agreeable, and their agendas are very straightforward.

Jeez, why didn't someone tell me
my Johnny's on the cover of Newsweek?!? If you have a print copy, email me for my mailing address.

Saw this
periodical cover on the rack at a convenience store this week and came damn close to buying one - framed with the right color matt, it would just pop.

I don't think we've given the
sex with robots concept, buried in the minimum wage post on Tuesday, enough consideration: how much will they cost, and will shipping and handling make them unattainable? to what extent can their appearance be customized? can we program them ourselves, or will we have to download special utilities for those specialized preferences? Imagine the possibilities.

And finally, as you dip the rim of your glass into the margarita salt bowl, I leave you with the FF quote of the week:

"Around 30, I kind of realized that alcohol really does solve your problems. Whoever said drinking doesn't help lied. You live and you learn." – Jewel, on belatedly discovering the joys of drinking.

Bottoms up.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Annoyance of the Day
Madonna's "Just Like A Prayer" firmly ensconced in my head. Can't. get. it. out.
Showdown: What's More Shocking?
1. That former Clinton (and apparently reasonable, smart person) Secretary of Defense William (not-the-refrigerator) Perry is advocating a pre-emptive strike against North Korea's nuclear missile efforts?

2. That Paul Begala actually offers some sensible advice to Democrats?

3. That John Edwards is sounding like a better Presidential candidate?

4. That 42-year-olds are the new 35-year-olds as far as the Army is concerned.
I'll Never Learn
Looking hopefully at the new Zogby poll numbers for Senate and Governor races. Of the 17 races they profile, 10 show Democrat leads. 5 Republicans. And 2, including TN's, are essentially tied. 2 states that aren't polled, Montana and Rhode Island, could be Dem. pickups, especially Montana. If all 10 of those leads hold up, plus MT and RI, that gives Democrats (plus Ind.) 48. Add the leaning Minnesota seat--49--and that still leaves Dems 2 shy of re-taking the Senate. The most likely chances for those extra 2? Virginia, Tennessee, Missouri (exactly...not so likely).

But the bigger question is--why am I looking at these stupid Zogby polls? Remember those battleground polls in 2004 that showed Kerry kicking butt? Showed him tied in Tennessee? Well ahead in Ohio? Winning Nevada? Arkansas?

There's no reason to pay any attention to these. Once, just once, though, I'd like for them to be wrong in the Democrats' favor...

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Bush Family Values [UPDATED]
I'm tempted to merely link to this (not necessarily work safe) as a premier example of Bush Family Values, or this as a repeat example of Presidential law-breaking and hypocrisy, but what we should really be outraged by are violations to our national conscience like this. The link is to a Washington Post review of the new book by reporter Ron Suskind, who includes explosive details of Bush's attitudes, statements, and miscalculations in the conduct of war.

Receiving the most attention so far is news that the "al qaeda mastermind" Abu Zubaydah was in fact clearly mentally ill, an organizational go-fer at best. Bush's main priority? Saving face. Sorry, long quote below, but important. Read the whole thing.
Suskind's portrait of Tenet, respectful but far from adulatory, depicts a man compromised by "insecurity and gratitude" to a president who chose not to fire him after 9/11. "At that point, George Tenet would do anything his President asked," Suskind writes.

Which brings us back to the unbalanced Abu Zubaydah. "I said he was important," Bush reportedly told Tenet at one of their daily meetings. "You're not going to let me lose face on this, are you?" "No sir, Mr. President," Tenet replied. Bush "was fixated on how to get Zubaydah to tell us the truth," Suskind writes, and he asked one briefer, "Do some of these harsh methods really work?" Interrogators did their best to find out, Suskind reports. They strapped Abu Zubaydah to a water-board, which reproduces the agony of drowning. They threatened him with certain death. They withheld medication. They bombarded him with deafening noise and harsh lights, depriving him of sleep. Under that duress, he began to speak of plots of every variety -- against shopping malls, banks, supermarkets, water systems, nuclear plants, apartment buildings, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty. With each new tale, "thousands of uniformed men and women raced in a panic to each . . . target." And so, Suskind writes, "the United States would torture a mentally disturbed man and then leap, screaming, at every word he uttered."
[UPDATE: For another jarring excerpt from the book, check this out. ]
Great Daily Show Bit
Maybe my favorite story ever on the Daily Show. Dan Bakkedahl on Monday's show. Watch it all the way through.
Random Gas Question
Does anyone actually purchase the higher grade gasoline? There are 3 price levels. Even when the gas price was lower, I never would have bought the middle one, let alone the expensive stuff. But, really, now, does anyone? Why?

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Minimum Wage v. Paris Hilton
Democrats push for a boost in the minimum wage. Republicans counter with a boost for Paris Hilton. Democratic House Whip Steny Hoyer (who's taken his share of abuse recently from the left) has more at TPMCafe here:
Republicans pulled the funding bill for labor and health programs that contains my minimum wage amendment from the schedule to avoid a vote. Then they announced that they were adding to the schedule a vote on a drastic cut to the estate tax - a tax that affects only the heirs of the wealthy few. On top of that shamelessness, the seven Republicans who voted with Democrats in committee to pass my amendment last week stayed with those earning the minimum wage just as long as they could - a whole seven days. Today five of the seven voted against the same amendment in our effort to attach it to a second funding bill for science and other programs. The other two left the room. But I bet all Republicans will stick with their promise to pass a tax cut for the wealthiest few Americans who are affected by the estate tax. Democrats are not going to give up and we will keep fighting on this issue until we force Republicans to pass a raise in the minimum wage or we take back the House and pass it ourselves.
Meanwhile, Ted Kennedy blogs about the minimum wage at Think Progress. But the good news for Paris Hilton comes to an end there--with her huge tax break thanks to Republicans. Because, sadly for her, in a few years, I will have lost all need for her, since sex with robots is just around the corner. She, of course, will be lost without me. But that's her problem.
Bush Needs a New Cabinet Position
Since he's "the decider," they could really use someone to be "the anticipator." We know it's definitely not Cheney.
Update on Rove-Cheney-Fitzgerald-Leopold-Indictment Story
At this point, and at the risk of taking the word of Karl Rove, I don't much believe in the Truthout reporting that got us all excited. There doesn't seem to be a shred of evidence that their story is the right one. But, Kevin Drum has the Truthout update.

My only remaining hopeful question is: if Fitzgerald is done with Rove, what's left for the grand jury to do? How long does it take for one of those puppies to get disbanded?

Monday, June 19, 2006

What have you been watching, listening to, reading?

Watching Hockey
There's no trophy presentation that is anything like the Stanley Cup - not even close. I was hoping for an Edmonton win--since I'm mostly a Western Conference guy and their comeback was impressive. But it's exciting to see the cup presented on home ice.

Connie Chung is smoking crack
I don't know how else to explain this. Apparently her show got cancelled.

Weekend Box Office
1. Cars
2. Nacho Libre
3. Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (?)
4. The Lake House
5. The Break-Up
11. An Inconvenient Truth

Inconvenient Truth is up to 404 theaters and adds lots more (including Nashville) on Friday. I'd like to see some film recommendations from article 19ers this week--in the theater or on TV, what did you watch recently?

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Even though he's maddening at times, I haven't really been rully aboard the hate-Joe express that's been chugging through the left-wing blogosphere ever since he started holding hands with the Pres in public. I mean, the guy has legitimate Democratic credentials on a number of issues--and was hardly the only Democrat to support the war (if only).

The problem is, the smarmy guy has swallowed whole the offensive idea that criticism of the President's foreign policy amounts to unpatriotic activity. It's not, like some bloggers say, that Lieberman is "undermining Democratic unity." If that's the best argument we have, then he has an easy primary win coming. "Principle over Party" is all he has to say --and is already saying-- and people fed up with politics eat that stuff up. What he has undermined that matters is not political unity. His way of thinking would jeopardize the very value of a 2-party system in providing an opposition voice. And now that Democrats have finally actually found something of an opposition voice, we don't need a prominent Senator--of a safely Democratic state--decrying those efforts.

But...all of that leadup is to this: Lieberman may be losing it. He's running an ad against his surging primary opponent Ned Lamont that is positively juvenile, not to mention pretty incoherent. Ridicule the opponent is a sad political strategy from a supposed statesman. If only Joe had as much of a sharp tooth for Republican opponents as he does Democratic ones.

Check out Josh's many posts at TPM on this confusing/bizarre ad (1, 2, 3, 4, 5.)

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Depends on your perspective
From the press conference this morning. Notice the grace exhibited by the blind reporter, Peter Wallsten, and the complete lack exhibited by the clueless President. But really, Wallsten only reports for the LATimes, no big newspaper or anything.
I have to give him this: he seems to recognize when the bottom is about to fall out relative to the proximity of an upcoming election. Just heard his news conference, and he sounds positively re-energized and determined (not to change course). Combination Zarqawi-Rove-surprise visit to Iraq has got him out of the doldrums, at least for now. Democrats are good at being in the lead with 6 months to go, but the last few months are where Republicans have turned the tide in the last few elections. Lots of premature talk about re-taking Congress - there's a long way to go, and Republicans seem to be just waking up.

Don't get me wrong, by the way, he still makes no sense and is wrong about most everything, but he seemed to me today to be recapturing the voice that--for whatever screwy reason--51% of the people find attractive in a President.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Comfort Zone
Now that his legal woes are behind him, Rove can get back to doing what he does best: being an asshole.
Looks like Rove is going to get away free and clear. How this relates to Jason Leopold's continued insistence, even yesterday, about a mysterious indictment believed to be Rove I don't know. I'll leave it to the lawyers out there to tell us if this language leaves open the possibility that this is all part of a deal that involves Rove cooperating in exchange for charges not being filed? Or something like that.

Monday, June 12, 2006

What have you been reading, listening to, watching?

Great Moments in Sports Programming
Isn't ESPN a huge media entity, fueled by a corporate giant? It's baseball season, it's hockey finals week, NBA finals week, and oh yeah the World Cup. I think it's even college baseball world series time (not that I cae about that) and a horse racing triple crown race is coming up on Saturday. So what's showing on ESPN2 now? Dominos. from 2005.

what, no cheerleading reruns to show?

[CORRECTION: Ok ok so the Belmont Stakes was last Saturday not this coming Saturday...I guess that explains why the 2005 Dominos championship quarterfinals were on this afternoon...]

Article 19 Film Recommendation: Davinci Code
Snooooore. Sorry, it just seemed kind of pointless to me. Not especially exciting, not funny, nothing very interesting discussed, relationships or characters explored. Just not entirely sure why the movie exists. It does look good and sound good.

Weekend Box Office
1. Cars
2. The Break-up
3. X-Men
4. The Omen
5. Over the Hedge
11. An Inconvenient Truth

I expect the Gore movie might creep up in the next 2 weeks as it opens in more theaters. Still only on 122 screens. Gore is scheduled to be on Larry King tonight tomorrow night!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Boxer Briefs
In the spirit of Deb's Frothy Friday start to the weekend, below, here's a Seth Stevenson piece in Slate, "In Praise of Boxer Briefs: An Underpants Manifesto." It begins:
It's come to my attention that there are some men out there—even a few friends of mine—who've not yet switched to boxer briefs. These are otherwise intelligent fellows who, either through ignorance or recalcitrance, begin each day by pulling on (shudder) traditional boxers or (double-shudder) briefs. I feel great pity for these men. Because the irrefutable truth is that boxer briefs—a knit, mid-thigh-length compromise between boxer and brief—are the ultimate male netherwear. The sooner you accept this, the happier your crotch will be.
I came a little late to the boxer briefs parade--maybe about a year ago. On many of his points I agree, but it's hard to beat the simple beauty of the boxers. And on the off-chance you're caught with, uh, your pants down (very off chance in my case), having what otherwise appear to be shorts on under there is a pretty safe way to go.
Please Please Please
Run Newt Run!
In remarks that were critical of both parties' recent performance, Gingrich told a luncheon group of scholars and reporters at the Brookings Institution that he will make a decision in the fall of 2007 about running.

"If at that point there's still a vacuum . . . then we'll probably do something," Gingrich said, adding that his policy pronouncements have more weight if he is seen as a potential presidential candidate. "If you're interested in defining the idea context and the political context for the next generation of Americans, which I am, the most effective way to do that is to be seen as potentially available."
I still think the Republican presidential landscape looks simple to handicap. Assuming Colin Powell doesn't get int he mix, it's McCain vs. Giuliani. Frist-Allen-Gingrich-Bush-whoever are just wasting time. But it would be fun to watch Newt lose.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Frothy Friday

Remember, I'm here to provide comic relief and keep us from being too serious (especially on Fridays), so I'm launching a 500 lb. bomb of a weekly feature wherein we can discuss frothy issues - celebrities, animals, beverages that come w/ umbrellas in them, etc.

Smells like Gene Spirit? KISS is now marketing a fragrance and coffeehouses. Who besides Don has pre-ordered aftershave?

An uplifting new women's movement: without even trying, I've seen several TV or print/online features recently on the importance and value of proper bra fitting, so it must be a heaving issue. Did you know as many as 70% of all women are wearing the wrong size bra? Oprah, TLC's What Not to Wear, and Queen Latifah all claim poor fit = poor confidence, bad appearance, and pain. Amen, sisters.

It's almost time for a beverage - what flavor is your froth today?
For the first time in 3 days of trying to log in, blogger is cooperating (knock on virtual wood). So what am I reading this morning? I'm getting annoyed at a problem I see more and more: completely inaccurate headlines. First the Washington Times has a story with the banner "Democrats call Zarqawi Killing a Stunt", except that, as Sam Rosenfeld points out, no Democrat says that in the story. And I went from that to an AP story about Mexixo-US immigration issues headlined "Powell Says Border Walls Won't Work" in which he pretty clearly says no such thing. (In fact these 2 headlines could probably be more properly reversed. Powell calls Border Walls a Stunt; and Democrats say Zarqawi Killing Won't Work.)

With that in mind, what is the completely untrue headline for today?

Thursday, June 08, 2006

al-Zarqawi Killed by US Airstrike

This is great news, especially for the military who can use the morale boost. But with public sentiment about Iraq where it is now, will it create a positive kick anything like the capture of Saddam for the WH? Will it make much difference in Iraq?

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Election Night lots of the country. Kos has the rundown on what to watch.
It's National Hunger Awareness Day
Do the right thing. Here's a start.

Monday, June 05, 2006

What have you been watching, reading, listening to?

Any Article 19ers seen the Gore movie yet? An Inconvenient Truth finished 9th for the weekend with 1.3 million in box office revenue...with only 77 theaters showing it. Also got a powerful review from Roger Ebert. Here's the top 5 for the weekend:

1. The Break-up
2. X-Men
3. Over the Hedge
4. The DaVinci Code
5. Mission Impossible 3

Friday, June 02, 2006

Libby Needs a New Plan
Judge won't allow the Chewbacca defense.
Robert Kennedy Jr. has written an article for Rolling Stone magazine claiming to demonstrate that the '04 election was stolen. It is a truly craptacular walk down memory lane--exit polls, long lines, shredded voter registration. Not sure why he's writing this, or why Rolling Stone is where he got it printed. But I wish it would do some good toward actually getting some honest elections and vote-counting. It's a long, fairly comprehensive essay. Here's a tiny bit:
A five-month analysis of the Ohio vote conducted by the Democratic National Committee concluded in June 2005 that three percent of all Ohio voters who showed up to vote on Election Day were forced to leave without casting a ballot. That's more than 174,000 voters. "The vast majority of this lost vote," concluded the Conyers report, "was concentrated in urban, minority and Democratic-leaning areas." Statewide, African-Americans waited an average of fifty-two minutes to vote, compared to only eighteen minutes for whites.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Local Update
Inconvenient Truth starts in Nashville on June 23 (Green Hills).

Already over half a million taken in with only 4 screens in 8 days.
Kick the Oil Habit
The Center for American Progress is sponsoring this effort. Robert Redford wrote an editorial supporting it:
A grassroots movement is gathering today to promote solutions, like renewable fuels, clean electricity, more efficient cars, and green buildings that use less energy -- all of which are exciting alternatives that rebuild our communities even as they cut pollution and create good jobs.
Recently, a dynamic new campaign launched to seize and grow these opportunities and break our energy dependence. It's called, and it has the backing of a diverse coalition of organizations. Its first action was to challenge oil companies to double the number of renewable fuel pumps at their stations within the year and pledge to offer E85 ethanol fuel at half of all gas stations within the decade.

This is a simple clear action that the oil companies can do today. But it is only a first step. Many others are ready to be put in action despite industry claims to the contrary.

In coming months, this campaign, which is based at the Center for American Progress and works with partners from the Natural Resources Defense Council to Consumers Union, to the Apollo Alliance, will launch new challenges to our elected leaders, but it will also point to good work that is already going on all around the country. It will illuminate efforts on Capitol Hill by those who are concerned about the public good as well as the work of a myriad of grassroots groups effectively pushing innovative technological and public policy solutions alike.
[Thanks to reader JB for the tip]