Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Bill Clinton Opens Mouth, Inserts Racist Foot (Again)

In an interview with WHYY's Susan Phillips yesterday, President Clinton discussed his comments about the South Carolina primary and Jesse Jackson, dismissing voters' concerns that he'd been surreptitiously injecting racism into the campaigning:

"You gotta really go some to play the race card with me--my office is in Harlem".

Yikes. I suppose we should be grateful President Clinton didn't say that some of his best friends were black. He did come close, though.

Listen carefully at the end of the tape, too, when the interview is over but the mic's still live. Our erstwhile egalitarian, who has criticized Senator Obama for using identity politics yet has referred to himself as "the first black president" more times than I've had hot dinners--and let's not even go into his use of gender politics--refers to the reporter's line of questioning with this telling and FCC-rule-violating touch of class:

"I don't think I should take any shit from anybody about that, do you?"

Also at Cogitamus.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Vote For Lee Stranahan's Obama in 30 Seconds Ad Submission for MoveOn

You've seen a number of Lee Stranahan's witty and wonderful political parody videos featured here, as well as at Cogitamus. Now he's created a brilliant little gem for MoveOn's Obama in 30 Seconds contest. Click the link above, watch the video short (very short), and show our creative pal some love!

Clicking through will take you directly to the contest page for Lee's video; you'll be asked for your name, e-mail address, and ZIP code, and once you receive the confirmation e-mail and click the link in that, your vote will count as a unique viewing. After seeing Lee's video, MoveOn wants you to consider a few randomly selected videos, if you have time, and rate those (you won't be able to rate Lee's entry, but don't worry--your viewing it and confirmation of same are what count.)

So don't hesitate another moment--go now and vote for the man who brought you these bits of lovely:

"Any man can give diamonds or flowers, but only Rudy can give you the New York City Police Department..."

"Mike Huckabee wants you to know he just got a voice mail from God...and he didn't sponsor a bill to send millions of Mexicans into Iowa to steal your job, dance the Lambada with your daughter, and make your food taste spicy with their jal-OP-enoes."

"Join literally hundreds of fanatical Ron Paul supporters as they generate the 1.21 gigawatts of electricity needed to power the time machine by typing RON PAUL in capital letters in the comment section of every blog in the world."

"Your Mom: you wouldn't ask her to help you install software--why let her choose the leader of the free world?"

What are you waiting for? Vote now and send this post along to your friends, too. And on behalf of my family--Lee fans, every one--I thank you and send many hugs and kisses out into the blogosphere.


Sunday, April 20, 2008

Danica Patrick: Blasting Through the Glass Ceiling at 200 mph.

Danica Patrick, Indycar Champion and
the First Woman to Win a Major Auto Race

In October of 2000, Robert and I drove to Savannah, Georgia to attend the bi-annual racing clinic and get-together known as Targa 66, an event that's organized and conducted by the legendary and much-decorated British racing champion, Brian Redman. During the day, veteran drivers and retired champs (like Brian) coach those who are relatively new to the sport (like me), and the track is also open to aficionados and current contenders interested in sharpening their skills and testing their vehicles in a non-competitive environment. On Saturday night, there's always a lovely black-tie banquet complete with an intriguing keynote speaker (for example, the president of Jaguar, or one of Brian's pals from the good old days when race car driving was even more dangerous than it is now, which is saying something.) Of course, there is also plenty of drinking and the telling of stories both hilarious and hair-raising.

Anyway, that Saturday, Robert (who'd win a major series himself the following year) and I (who, come 2003, would start my own racing adventures in a little '61 Porsche 356), were joining everyone in the hotel lobby for after-dinner drinks when American Indycar champ and current team-owner Bobby Rahal stood up, clinked a spoon against his glass, and announced that he'd like to introduce someone special.

"Joining forces with us this year, ladies and gentlemen, is someone whose name I want you to remember, because you're going to hear it a lot in the future: Danica Patrick," he said.

I didn't want to like her--hell, I wouldn't have been human if I hadn't felt a frisson of envy: here was this beautiful and poised young woman, half my age, commanding the attention of a roomful of people who, to put it mildly, were hardly the sorts who are easily impressed. But you couldn't dislike Danica, who was chattily charming and polite, not to mention articulate and mature beyond her then-teenage years. She was a tiny little thing, too, wearing a long cream-colored suede skirt and top and looking more like a dark-haired ballerina than a race-car driver--and by that I mean no slight: ballerinas may be small, but they are serious, and seriously tough, athletes.

Fast-forward a few years, and lo and behold, Danica was competing alongside the big guys all over the world, holding her own and consistently placing well. She raced in St. Petersburg, last year as well as this one, at the St. Petersburg Grand Prix, though the 2008 title went to Bobby Rahal's son Graham, who at 19 is the youngest person to win an major American open wheel race.

Today, though, Danica won the IndyCar Series event in Motegi, Japan, claiming a historic banner of her own: she is the first woman to win a major auto race. And damn it if she wasn't utterly classy and full of esprit de corps:

Danica Patrick became the first woman to win a major auto race on Sunday, using successful fuel strategy to capture an IndyCar Series event in Motegi, Japan. She won the race by nearly six seconds over Helio Castroneves, the two-time Indianapolis 500 winner.

Danica Patrick hugged her father, T.J. Patrick, after winning the Indy Japan 300.

Patrick, 26, who in 2005 became the first woman to lead the Indy 500, won in her 50th IndyCar Series start. Three drivers ahead of her had to stop for fuel late in the race, and Patrick took the lead from Castroneves on the 198th of 200 laps.

Patrick, the 5-foot-2, 100-pound driver who moved to the powerful team co-owned by Michael Andretti last year, won the third race of the IndyCar Series season. She credited her team for implementing the fuel strategy she needed to win the race.

“Finally! This is a long time coming,” she said in an interview in Victory Lane. “It was a fuel-strategy race, but my team called it perfectly for me. I know I was on the same strategy as Helio and when I passed him for the lead, I couldn’t believe it. This is fabulous.”

As a racing rookie (truly, I'm an über-novice), I can only tell you this: driving even a few laps at those speeds (my fastest, so far, is just 150 mph) is at once thrilling, terrifying, and exhausting. You're overjoyed to simply make it out of the car without collapsing or being sick all over yourself. And I don't exaggerate when I say I'm in awe of anyone, male or female (and yeah, okay, that includes Robert), who races often and does it spectacularly well.

But competing at that level? Against those guys and at those speeds? In that male-dominated sport?

And beating them?

BRAVA, Danica. I completely understand why you covered your face with a cap for a few emotional moments today and want you to know there were more than a few of us out here who were sniffling right along with you.

Also at Cogitamus.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Just Tell Us the Truth

Be inspired by Lee Stranahan's brilliant video protest. For it's the one thing on which virtually all of us can agree: this week's ABC Debate was utterly appalling--just an unforgivable journalistic trainwreck in which rightwing trash-talking points collided with irrelevant, lowest-common-denominator tabloid distractions to spectacularly stupid, intelligence-insulting effect. While George Stephanopoulos and Charlie Gibson manned the throttle and steering wheel.

The good news, though, is that people are speaking out--in volume, volume, volume. You can, too: tell ABC you want substance, not slime; news, not entertainment. You can phone ABC at 212.456.7777 and contribute your thoughts on the debacle debate here. (To give you an idea of the magnitude of the blowback ABC's received these past couple of days, the comment total is approaching twenty thousand as I type! I don't think I've seen that many comments on a story ever, not even at the Shakesville virtual pub or in an Atrios thread.)

I still don't know all that much about the specifics of either Dem. candidate's plans for healthcare, war-ending, or education-improving, and I cannot fathom how a major network, one that employs so-called journalists at that level and payscale, could squander the opportunity to really delve into those and other topics on behalf of millions of viewing voters.

Believe it or not, Disneyland delusionmeisters, most of us out here are grownups who want, and can handle, cold facts; we don't appreciate being served a plateful of recycled, reheated bullshit studded with made-in-China flag pins.

Also at Cogitamus.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Friday Frank: When the Lie's So Big; Barcelona, 1988; Bonus--Planet of the Baritone Women

Maestro Zappa, ahead of his time--again--musing out loud about that which has been troubling many of us these days. (Lyrics appear below.)

Me, I'm swamped with all manner of, uh, stuff right now, but I do have some projects in the works and I'll be back soon (hoping...always hoping.)

In the meantime, let me wish everyone Happy Spring and a very Bon Weekend.


When the Lie's So Big

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 lies get 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 do they manage to travel as far
As they seem to have come?
Were we really that dumb?

People, wake up
Figure it out
Religious fanatics
Around and about
The Court House, The State House,
The Congress, The White House

When the lie's so big
And the fog so thick
And the facts kept forgotten
Then the Republican Trick
(Ketchup is a vegetable!)
Can be played out again
People, please tell me when
We'll be rid of these men!

Friday, April 04, 2008

Friday Frank: More Trouble Every Day; 1974

Sometimes (okay, much of the time), Maestro Zappa says it all for me. This song--originally recorded by FZ with the Mothers and performed here with Napoleon Murphy Brock, George Duke, and Ruth Underwood--pretty much sums up my view of cable news these days.

Well I'm about to get sick
From watchin' my tv
Been checkin' out the news
Till my eyeballs fail to see
I mean to say that every day
Is just another rotten mess,
And when it's gonna change, my friend, is anybody's guess,
So I'm watchin' and I'm waitin'
Hopin' for the best
Even think I'll go to prayin'
Every time I hear `em sayin'
There's no way to delay
That trouble comin' every day
No way to delay the trouble comin' every day
Wednesday I watched the riot
Seen the cops out on the street
Watched `em throwin' rocks and stuff and chokin' In the heat
Listen to reports
About the whisky passin' `round
Seen the smoke and fire
And the market burnin' down
Watched while everybody
On his street would take a turn
To stomp and smash and bash and crash and slash and bust and burn
And I'm watchin' and I'm waitin'
Hopin' for the best
Even think I'll go to prayin'
Every time I hear `em sayin'
That there's no way to delay
That trouble comin' every day
No way to delay that trouble comin' every day.

(H/T fzappa2112)

Also at Cogitamus.