Tuesday, September 30, 2008
You know we love you--hell's bells, we wouldn't exist if it weren't for you.
But as one of the resident word-wonks around here, I am compelled to at least attempt to parse your use of certain words regarding that which, since yesterday afternoon, I've taken to calling A Wailing Boehner of a Failed Bailout.
It wasn't a "failure to communicate". It wasn't a "failure of leadership". And--hear me out, as I have a fair bit of ad agency and marketing experience to back me up here--it most certainly was not a failure to package things nicely.
[Let's say someone gives me birthday present (it's October 11th--thanks for asking!), and when I tear open the wrapping paper, I see before me a horrible, scratchy, puce-colored sweater that's not only several sizes too big, but also riddled with moth holes, splattered with unidentifiable stains, and suffused with the unmistakable odor of rotting rubbish. Well, let's just say I'm unlikely to be any happier about my "present" if all said gift-giver does is re-fold the sweater, wrap it in pretty gilt-colored tissue with a satin bow, and hand it back to me.]
No, what we saw yesterday was actually--in terms of politics if not economics--a success of sorts. Call it A Success of Democracy, if you like.
Do I think the House Republicans were really representing the much-vaunted will of the revered People? Oh for goodness' sake, of course not--not in the pure sense that they care so much about the people, they simply had to stand their ground, contributors and their portfolios be damned. No, it was a success of democracy in the broader sense. To paraphrase an old movie title: Fifty Million* e-mails Can't Be Wrong.
Did all of those cranky constituents have Economics degrees? I'm guessing no. But they did, and do, have voter registration cards. And they expect their representatives in government to listen to their concerns, even if they have to subtly (or not-so-subtly) threaten those representatives with the loss of their jobs in order to get their attention. In short, democracy worked.
And now, if it's to keep working, Congress must go back to the workbench wherein a decent, already-built armature awaits its clay layering and a bit of kiln time; confer with the experts; craft something muscular and task-specific that benefits the whole country as opposed to a moneyed few--meaning, leave out any capital gains tax crap for now and focus on building in not only the safeguards and oversight, but also some serious provisions for enforcement of the law; and create a program to help homeowners avoid foreclosure (which will, in turn, keep those debt instruments nice and healthy).
Stop by and visit the left bank sometime soon, Ezra. Life is sunnier, artsier, and infinitely more enjoyable over here.
* Give or take a few
Also at Cogitamus.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
This is Son Three's favorite Frank Zappa song. As it's his ninth birthday today--and given that a certain arctic-animal-killing person has been dominating the news of late--I am posting this for the animated enjoyment of all.
Happy Birthday, beautiful Baby Doll Boy--may your sweet soul and megawatt smile take you to extraordinary places.
With masses of kisses and a big Terrorist Fist Bump from Mama to you,
And a Bon Weekend to everyone!
*Don't watch if you're easily offended or given to PC-purity, ahem.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Following up on Stephen's post about Sarah Palin's Black Preacher Problem, I present another, much more widely-broadcast witch confrontation. (And thank you, Keith Olbermann, for showing that laying-on-of-hands-in-Wasilla video last night--too bad more news programs haven't done likewise.)
UPDATE: Right on cue, Bill Donohue starts wailing because many Americans find the whole witch-protection racket to be, well, equal parts amusing and unsettlingly fantastical. He writes:
“Witchcraft is a sad reality in many parts of Africa, resulting in scores of deaths in Kenya over the past two decades. Bishop Muthee’s blessing, then, was simply a reflection of his cultural understanding of evil. While others are not obliged to accept his interpretation, all can be expected to respect it. More than that—Muthee should be hailed for asking God to shield Palin from harmful forces, however they may be manifested. And for this he is mocked and Palin ridiculed?
“We know that many cultural elites have a hard time embracing religion, but is it too much to ask that they at least show some manners when discussing subjects which most Americans hold dear?”
You know what? Famine and civil warfare--waged with arms and ammo that are all-too-often provided by 'Murican interests, and if you want to know how that works, watch the movie Lord of War--result in countless numbers African deaths every year (millions, I'm certain, but I'm not sure where to get reliable stats right this second). But every time a
So anyway, quitcha bitching, Bill. It's so unbecoming, though I'll admit you looked pretty good, as though you'd lost some weight, last time I saw you on teevee in that South Park episode--Jesus is wicked-accurate with a throwing star, huh?
Sunday, September 21, 2008
When every day brings fresh horror stories about the state of the American economy--stories that could easily be summed up by the phrase The Greatest Transfer of Wealth From the People to the Wall Street Ruling Class in the History of the Nation--it's easy to lose sight of those nearly-forgotten human beings around the planet who never had any wealth or power to begin with.
Hungry, malnourished children are quiet little things, aren't they? You don't see them on the news too often, and they don't make a lot of noise and fuss--no, they just sort of slip away, dying silently in parts of the world where famine or political strife, oftentimes in tandem, can tear through a country hurricane-like, leaving its most vulnerable citizens with no sustenance and little hope for help.
Fact: Hunger and malnutrition kill more people, worldwide, than do HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria--combined.
There are lots of ways to help, though. I'm calling your attention to a project sponsored by American Express, in particular, one organization that has been selected and stands to gain critically-needed funds, if enough people vote for it. Read, on, and then go here to vote for International Medical Corps* [You needn't have an Amex account to vote; simply follow the links and sign in as a guest--Ed.] :
International Medical Corps has been matched to one of the Top 25 in American Express’ Members Projects, ‘Saving the Lives of Malnourished Children.’
Chosen out of 1,190 projects, “Saving the Lives of Malnourished Children” is now eligible to receive up to $1.5 million in funding. The project with the most votes receives $1.5 million, 2nd receives $500,000, 3rd $300,000, and 4th and 5th $100,000. The funding – made possible by your votes – would bring a vital lifeline to hungry and malnourished children around the world.
We need your help between now and September 29th. Voting is easy and doesn’t cost a thing! In just a click, you can save the lives of thousands of malnourished children. Click here to vote.
For severely malnourished children, we offer a step-by-step treatment program that gives them what they need to recover, including nutrient-dense food supplements like the peanut-based product, Plumpy'Nut. Our comprehensive monitoring system saves more than 90 percent of children being treated in our feeding centers. Being one of the Top 5 would mean our nutrition could reach more children around the world who need our help.
International Medical Corps is an extraordinary and vital organization, readers--one I hope you'll agree is worth the moment of your time it'll take to nip over to the Amex site and vote for them today. And tell your friends. Thank you, as ever.
*About International Medical Corps: International Medical Corps (IMC) is a global, humanitarian, nonprofit organization dedicated to saving lives and relieving suffering through health care training and relief and development programs.
Established in 1984 by volunteer doctors and nurses, IMC is a private, voluntary, nonpolitical, nonsectarian organization. Its mission is to improve the quality of life through health interventions and related activities that build local capacity in underserved communities worldwide.
By offering training and health care to local populations and medical assistance to people at highest risk, and with the flexibility to respond rapidly to emergency situations, IMC rehabilitates devastated health care systems and helps bring them back to self-reliance.
Also at Cogitamus.
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Friday Saturday Frank: My Guitar Wants to Kill Your Mama + Willie the Pimp/Montana Medley; Lund, 1988
Hooray! Finally. This is the only version of My Guitar Wants to Kill Your Mama with Maestro Zappa playing the solos (as opposed to Dweezil, Vai, Satriani, or Johnson) that I've ever found on YouTube. If readers know of any others, links are always appreciated--please leave them, and any requests, in comments.
Obviously I'm a day late with my Friday Frank--again!--but since this is a triple-header, you're going to forgive me, right?
I'm off to raise up my little (and not-so-little) spools of dental floss, then.
Bon Weekend, everyone.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
I am blushing.
Thank you, Michael Hussey and Wayne Garcia, for your support; thank you, Creative Loafing, for the recognition and terribly kind words.
And of course,
Thank you, readers, for being part of the conversation.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
The National Organization for Women (NOW) said Tuesday it had been pushed by the Republicans pick of Sarah Palin as vice presidential nominee to back Democrat Barack Obama for the White House.Everyone knows anathema is a Bad Thing. You can't even put lipstick on it.
"NOW is going to be endorsing the Obama-Biden ticket," NOW head Kim Gandy told National Public Radio (NPR), referring to Obama and his running mate Joseph Biden.
The 500,000-strong women's movement, which "very, very rarely endorses in a general election", broke with its tradition of neutrality after "the addition of Sarah Palin gave us a new sense of urgency," said Gandy.
"She is being portrayed as a supporter of women's rights ... as a feminist when in fact her positions on so many of the issues are really anathema to ours," Gandy said.
Monday, September 15, 2008
More like this, please, Senators. Lots more.
And again. Keep going...
"Oh, it's a big one," said Michael. "On our way out, let's pick up a St. Pete Times--there's supposedly a DVD in the Sunday papers. Something about the threat of Islamofascism, you know, the usual. It's going to be in every major swing-state newspaper."
"A DVD?" I said "Do you have any idea how much that would cost? I mean, putting one in every St. Pete Times, even--you do know how big their circulation is?"
"Well, someone spent the money," said Robert.
We stopped at a convenience store and bought the paper. Sure enough, a four-color postercard with an attached Obsession DVD was tucked into its pages:
Apparently, this was a huge project on the part of the filmmakers, not only in making the piece--first shown on FOX in 2006, just before the elections--but also, this time around, in placing the free DVD
NEW YORK The arrival of tens of millions of DVDs of a controversial film on doorsteps around the nation -- but almost exclusively in election "swing states" -- via newspaper home delivery continues this weekend, with explanatory articles and subscriber feedback appearing on some of the papers' Web sites.
The DVDs of the 60-minute film, made in 2005, and titled "Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West," arrived Saturday with, among other papers, the Charlotte Observer and the News & Observer in Raleigh, with delivery with the Miami Herald and other papers set for Sunday. [...]
Despite some protests from Muslim and liberal activists, the newspapers -- all hard hit by drops in ad revenue in recent months -- have explained that the DVD does not violate their usual standards; see our exchange with The New York Times below. A spokesperson there said the Times last Sunday inserted 145,000 DVDs in its papers delivered in the following markets: Denver, Miami/Palm Beach, Tampa, Orlando, Detroit, Kansas City, St Louis, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Milwaukee/Madison. Note: These are all in swing states. [...]
E&P asked New York Times Co. spokeswoman Diane McNulty about the policy on this insert. She replied:
"We believe the broad principles of freedom of the press confer on us an obligation to keep our advertising columns as open as possible. Therefore our acceptance or rejection of an advertisement does not depend on whether it coincides with our editorial positions. In fact, there are many instances when we have published opinion advertisements that run counter to the stance we take on our own editorial pages.
I'm sure I'm not the first to say this, so let it be my contribution to the chorus:
SHAME ON YOU, St. Petersburg Times and New York Times, and shame on every other newspaper that is helping Clarion to deploy this fearmongering political clusterbomb.
Also at Cogitamus.
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Was Frank Zappa ahead of his time (again) with this excruciatingly appropriate song, or is it just that the more things change, the more they remain the same? I have to say, I listen to this and can't help but admire FZ's prescience.
Also in this clip: Planet of the Baritone Women. (Yes, there's oxygen as well as water here, and yes, B♭ below low C.)
Bon Weekend, everyone.
They got lies so big
They don't make a noise
They tell 'em so well
Like a secret disease
That makes you go numb
With a big ol' lie
And a flag and a pie
And a mom and a bible
Most folks are just liable
To buy any line
Any place, any time
When the lie's so big
As in Robertson's case,
(That sinister face
Behind all the Jesus hurrah)
Could result in the end
To a worrisome trend
In which every American
Not "born again"
Could be punished in cruel and unusual ways
By this treacherous cretin
Who tells everyone
That he's Jesus' best friend
When the lie's so big
And the fog gets so thick
And the facts disappear
The Republican Trick
Can be played out again
People, please tell me when
We'll be rid of these men?
Just who do they really
Suppose that they are?
And how did they manage to travel as far
As they seem to have come?
Were we really that dumb?
People, wake up
Figure it out
Around and about
The Court House, The State House,
The Congress, The White House
With a "Heavenly Mission" --
A nation enraptured
By pure superstition
When the lie's so big
And the fog gets so thick
And the facts disappear
The Republican Trick
Can be played out again
People, please tell me when
We'll be rid of these men!
(H/T Zencomix, via Fred in comments)
Forgive me--it's early and I probably need to ingest another vat of espresso--but I'm assuming that NYT writers Michael Cooper and Jim Rutenberg speak the same language, though perhaps not quite the same dialect, as I. You know, the one in which they can tell another speaker or reader of said language that, say, the sky is blue and the grass is green, and he or she will immediately understand which bit of nature is which pretty color.
So, Paul Krugman's excellent editorial aside, why do the New York Times writers say barbs and distortions when they mean LIES? Anyone?
Way to work that dog-eared copy of Roget's, gentlemen (emphasis mine):
Harsh advertisements and negative attacks are a staple of presidential campaigns, but Senator John McCain has drawn an avalanche of criticism this week from Democrats, independent groups and even some Republicans for regularly stretching the truth in attacking Senator Barack Obama’s record and positions.
Mr. Obama has also been accused of distortions, but this week Mr. McCain has found himself under particularly heavy fire for a pair of headline-grabbing attacks. First the McCain campaign twisted Mr. Obama’s words to suggest that he had compared Gov. Sarah Palin, the Republican vice-presidential nominee, to a pig after Mr. Obama said, in questioning Mr. McCain’s claim to be the change agent in the race, “You can put lipstick on a pig; it’s still a pig.” (Mr. McCain once used the same expression to describe Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s health plan.)
Then he falsely claimed that Mr. Obama supported “comprehensive sex education” for kindergartners (he supported teaching them to be alert for inappropriate advances from adults).
Those attacks followed weeks in which Mr. McCain repeatedly, and incorrectly, asserted that Mr. Obama would raise taxes on the middle class, even though analysts say he would cut taxes on the middle class more than Mr. McCain would, and misrepresented Mr. Obama’s positions on energy and health care.
And on it goes. The word "lies" doesn't actually appear until you're near the bottom of the article's first page, and even then, it was quoting someone else--in this case, Joy Behar, host of The View, when she addressed Senator McCain directly and he replied with yet another lie followed by a deflection:
“We know that those two ads are untrue,” Ms. Behar said. “They are lies. And yet you, at the end of it, say, ‘I approve these messages.’ Do you really approve them?”
“Actually they are not lies,” Mr. McCain said crisply, “and have you seen some of the ads that are running against me?”
Well, of course they're not lies, Joy, you silly goose: they're barbs or attacks or distortions, or--if you're really feeling ballsy--misrepresentations, just like the nice newspaper folk say. Surely you didn't expect McCain to call a lie a lie? And indeed, why should he, when hardly a soul in the mainstream press dares to utter or type the word.
Via TRex, an obvious choice for the new McCain campaign song* presents itself:
*The copyright of which, as with various McCain-appropriated songs before it, clearly calls out for Republican infringement. Bush Doctrine, etc.
Also at Cogitamus.
Friday, September 12, 2008
Brave New Films' latest video methodically calls out the lies--and how varied and many they are!--that Senator John McCain tells and personally approves in various campaign ads currently airing. And one by one, the reporter or pundit, armed with the facts, proves the statement to be not only false, but also deliberately fabricated in order to smear Senator Barack Obama.
I'm John McCain and I approve this message:
(A lie. Followed by a lie. And, oh hey, another lie.)
For my taste, the soundtrack is a bit overly boomy and ominous-sounding, but my ongoing heat headache might have something to do with that perception. Watch this, seriously.)
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Further to Stephen's excellent post about the unbelievable extremes to which Sarah Palin's fringe Christian church routinely goes, most chillingly in their efforts to draw converts, dominate communities, and dictate public policy, I'm posting this footage: it's ABC News (!) investigating (!!) Sarah Palin's book-banning attempt in Wasilla and even speaking to the librarian whom Palin fired and then rehired after a town-wide protest (she would later resign), as well as reporting (!!!) on the extremist religion that's behind Palin's wish to censor public libraries, among other things.
More like this, please, ABC. And everyone.
Via Brad at Sadly, No!, who says: "The Republicans are insulting your intelligence, America. Please do not prove them right."
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Three cheers for Judge Audlin, and three more cheers for this, from my state:
KEY WEST, Fla. -- A circuit court judge has ruled unconstitutional Florida's 31-year-old gay adoption ban, one of only two such statewide bans in the country.
The Monroe County judge's ruling allows a gay foster parent here to adopt a teenage boy he has raised since 2001, but does not mean there will be any statewide change in policy.
Circuit judges in Florida have twice before found the statute unconstitutional, both in 1991, though both challenges stalled. A case in Miami expected to be heard next month could also challenge the law.
Mississippi is the only other state to forbid gays from adopting.
The case here in gay-friendly Key West involves a 13-year-old boy with learning disabilities and special needs and his 52-year-old foster father, neither of whom are identified in court filings. A home study by a social worker highly recommended the guardian and his partner be allowed to adopt the boy.
Judge David J. Audlin Jr. wrote in his ruling, which has not yet been formally published, that the Florida law forbidding gay people from adopting children is contrary to the state Constitution because it singles out a group for punishment.
"Contrary to every child welfare principle," Audlin wrote, "the gay adoption ban operates as a conclusive or irrebuttable presumption that ... it is never in the best interest of any adoptee to be adopted by a homosexual."
It's a nice, plain, easy-to-pronounce, and eminently clear word.
There you go. That wasn't so hard, was it? LIE. When a Senator or a Governor running for the nation's highest offices builds his or her speeches, not to mention attacks on the opposition, around LIES --indeed, when key components of a campaign platform itself are, provably, LIES--you need to do your job and say it loud and clear, every time: This is a LIE.
Forget untruthfulness, inaccuracy, falsehood, and (Heaven help me), mistatement.
If you're in doubt about the importance of using clear, straightforward words, may I refer you to the wisdom of the late English professor, semanticist, and Republican Senator S.I. Hayakawa, who, in his wonderful book Language in Thought and Action, wrote:
Euphemisms are paraphrases or lexical choices made in order to avoid the unpleasant or taboo connotations of words referring to certain (culture-conditioned) categories of meaning.
So yes, using plain, unembroidered language to report that trusted leaders are LYING--about the casus belli for invading Iraq, about the real cost of running up our nation's Chinese credit card ad infinitum while continuing to issue tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, about someone being a maverick and a fiscal conservative when he or she clearly isn't--will bring about uneasiness and even confusion among the comfortably numb.
Say the word anyway: LIE. The strapping, not-so-innocent-lately geopolitical teenager that is America can handle the truth, and She needs to hear it now more than ever.
Also at Cogitamus.
The infamous pork-funded Bridge to Nowhere is everywhere this week, and rightly so. It seems that Governor Sarah Palin was indeed for the bridge before she was against it, and even then, she only turned against it when public (and eventually, media) criticism of excessive government earmarks highlighted that spectacularly wasteful project as Exhibit A. Yet Palin clings to the myth and the soundbite alike--"I told Congress thanks, but no thanks for that Bridge to Nowhere up in Alaksa...". David Schuster reported that even yesterday, Palin repeated the lie twice while on the stump; by Chris Matthews' count, she's repeated the lie seven times in public appearances, as John McCain stood by her side.
Of course, Palin didn't mark the federal funds Return To Sender, but rather, "reappropriated" them for use in her state (no wonder she's popular in Alaska--hell, if Governor Crist gave all Floridians a few grand apiece to help with the cost of keeping our houses at liveable temperatures, he'd have an approval rating even higher than he does without giveaways).
What hasn't been mentioned too often is that Senator John McCain was clearly against Palin before he was for her. And before he chose Palin as a running mate and inexplicably began to call her a "maverick" and a "fiscal conservative", McCain went on record speculating that the hundreds of millions of dollars set aside for building a bridge that so few would use actually helped drain the federal budget of funds that should have gone to repairing existing bridges, and therefore contributed to the disastrous collapse of the I-35 Mississippi River bridge in Minnesota earlier that year.
Well, let's just go to the record. From CNN, September 2007 (emphasis mine):
U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens and Rep. Don Young, both Republicans, championed the project through Congress two years ago, securing more than $200 million for the bridge between Revillagigedo and Gravina islands.
Under mounting political pressure over pork projects, Congress stripped the earmark -- or stipulation -- that the money be used for the airport, but still sent the money to the state for any use it deemed appropriate. [...]
Just last month, presidential candidate Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, said pet projects could have played a role in a Minnesota bridge collapse that killed 13 people earlier this year.
"Maybe if we had done it right, maybe some of that money would have gone to inspect those bridges and other bridges around the country," McCain told a group of people in a town-hall style meeting in Ankeny, Iowa.
"Maybe the 200,000 people who cross that bridge every day would have been safer than spending $233 million of your tax dollars on a bridge in Alaska to an island with 50 people on it."
Did McCain even remember saying this when he impulsively named a flashy, attention-drawing, and totally un-vetted person as his running mate less than two weeks ago? And, much more importantly, is anyone in the establishment media paying attention, damn it?
(H/T Group News Blog)
Also at Cogitamus.
Monday, September 08, 2008
This latest ad, titled "No Maverick" is exactly what the campaign needed. It's crisp. It's tough. It doesn't hold back -- and right now, they can't hold back. Lots of great lines for just 30 seconds.
Sunday, September 07, 2008
The brilliant Samantha Bee, of The Daily Show, scours the Republican Convention in search of someone who can explain the intricacies of this whole choice thing to her.
Sarah Palin's hypocrisy with regard to reproductive rights--not to mention her extreme, religion-based position, one that would force even the victims of rape or incest to bear their attacker's child--is reason enough to vote against the McCain-Palin ticket. (Not that there aren't many, many other reasons, too--this is just one post.)
Watch this, have a laugh, be shocked by the hypocrisy, and then, circulate like mad, Dear Reader.
Saturday, September 06, 2008
Read something fabulous, funny, or infuriating today? Do tell! Comments are open for link-leaving and general, you know, commentary. As ever.
Anyway, start by heading over to TRex for some righteous anger and cautious hope about the state of the Fourth Estate (plus video evidence of the McCain camp's sneering disdain toward the public and, especially, toward the press whenever they actually try to do their jobs):
Next, check out Bob Cesca's Goddamn Awesome blog; he has several things up today, including this, about the responsible, Amurika-lovin' fiscal conservative that is Sarah Palin:
In my life, I figured “I’ve been obsessively refreshing ‘Swampland’ all day” would be something I’d be about as likely to say as “another tour de force from Rupert Everett” or “a vocal performance of stunning restraint and exquisite taste by Mariah Carey”, but there you go. I’ve been poised like a hawk on a wire all day waiting to see what Carney’s next move would be.
Sometime around the five o’clock whistle, we got this carefully worded bulletin. [...]He’s right, of course, but exactly how is it all that different from what has been steadily streaming out the roof and down the rain gutters of the Bush White House for the last eight years? Hot and cold running propaganda. That aside, though, I salute this new found journalistic passion over at Time and wish them well on their quest. Seriously, Jay Carney shouldn’t have to be explaining “why it matters” to anyone. It should be completely self-evident why it matters.
Imagine if the Obamas were directly connected to a fringe political party whose founder said, "[T]he fires of Hell are glaciers compared to my hate for the American government." Talk radio would be screaming about this every day. The tapes would be aired on cable news over and over and over. The election would be over.And in one of the comment threads, this:
His Rudeness on Rudy. Another classic.
Finally, here's Jon Stewart of the Daily Show tearing up the gender card this week:
Bon Weekend, everyone! And yes, Friday Frank will return next Friday--I'm giving the Magic YouTube Fairies a chance to refill the pipeline a bit, since everything I was finding lately was something I'd already posted.
The green screen was all-too-familiar, but when the camera panned back, worshipful Republicans watching John McCain's acceptance speech were at a loss to explain what the building in the backdrop had to do with...well, anything.
As Lee Stranahan discovered, savvy Walter Reed Middle School graduates knew what was up, though. Surely this was intentional, this not-subtle reminder of the Republican
(You know the McCain camp thought that deeply about it, too.)
Also at Cogitamus.