Saturday, October 01, 2005

Paying For Your Education

WASHINGTON, Sept. 30 - Federal auditors said on Friday that the Bush
administration violated the law by buying favorable news coverage of President Bush's education policies, by making payments to the conservative commentator Armstrong Williams and by hiring a public relations company to analyze media perceptions of the Republican Party.

At a news conference in January, Mr. Bush said: "We will not be paying
commentators to advance our agenda. Our agenda ought to be able to stand on its own two feet."
But the Education Department has since defended its payments to Mr. Williams, saying his commentaries were "no more than the legitimate
dissemination of information to the public."

Read the article HERE.

"Liberal" sites have been reporting on the administration's habit of buying off the media for awhile now. No matter your political stripe I'd like you to ask yourself this question:

Are you comfortable in a society where your government "writes" the news from their perspective without ever notifying their citizens that they've had a hand in the writing/producing/dissemination of that news?

If you are, might I recommend exotic North Korea, Saddam's Iraq, and the former Soviet Union as places you may want to consider relocating to. They have all engaged in precisely that sort of behavior.

It's worthy of noting that no actual PENALTY results from this. Without such a penalty, there's simply no guarantee that the House-that-is-White won't try this again. That's why its so important to question the news you hear - to seek out separate, second sources, and to embrace skepticism not as a rejection of Patriotism, but rather, as an affirmation of it.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Retro Rocket: Rounders


This week my weekly film column, Retro Rocket, takes on "Rounders" - the stellar, powerful Poker drama from director John Dahl and star, Matt Damon.

Head on over to the Average Joes and check it out HERE.

Serenity Now


I'm running around like a proverbial chicken, minus my head, today. Once I'm done with my fowl impression, I'm headed off to see Serenity with my lovely lady and, with luck, my very good friend.

Before I take off, I thought I'd leave all you Friday workday procrastinators with a few helpful links to clue you in to the universe of Serenity/Firefly.

A group of dedicated Browncoats has thrown together a Firefly Wiki site. On it, you can find character descriptions, information on the show's backstory and major players, and a bunch of other fun, somewhat obsessive details right HERE.

One of the more idiosyncratic elements of the show/film is the characters tendency to break out into tourette-ic streams of filthy Mandarin. Learn how to curse like a Chinese sailor HERE.

Already a fan of the show? Read an official, unproduced script ("Dead or Alive") HERE.

After seeing the film and falling head-over-heels in love with the whole damn thing you can purchase Firefly - the complete series over at Amazon.com. Hours of gorram fun await you.

Have a great weekend, all! Posting will resume over the weekend, with plenty of snarky thoughts on John Roberts' elevation to Chief Justice, more info on the Catholic Church's shiney new homosexual witchhunt, and much, much more. Be good to one another.

Lost Musings

Since more than a few of my recent visitors seem to be looking for material on "Lost," I thought I'd run a feature on what's known so far this season. Speculation, discussion, or infighting is more than welcome in the comments section.

-"4 8 15 16 23 42" is popping up all over the place. Thus far, we've seen it on the edge of the hatch, on the bottle Desmond injects himself with, in the mural he's painted on the wall (in the form of the number 108, which is all the numbers added together), in the number of minutes between each computer entry (again, in the form of 108) and as the sequence Locke enters into the computer at gunpoint.

-In Jack's flashback, we see him dealing with two car crash victims. One of them dies at 8:15 am; 815 also being the number of the flight they all crashed in. The man who dies shares the same last name as Boone and Shannon, raising the question: Was he their father?
-The "Dharma" logo is all over the inside of the hatch, and also appears briefly on a swimming shark's tail during the second episode's Michael/Sawyer scenes.
-In Michael's flashback, we see him give a younger Walt a stuffed Polar Bear as a "good-bye" present.
-The candybar Kate eats in the fall-out shelter styled pantry is labeled "Apollo." One of the major elements of Desmond's mural is the sun, which contains the number 108 at its center.
-Desmond's mural also contains the words "I am sick." When he speaks to Locke, he asks if the others in their party aboveground have started getting sick, or dying.
-Desmond appears to be expecting someone. He asks Locke "Are you him?"
-The shirt Desmond wears during Jack's flashback has a freemasons symbol on it.
-The people who are advancing on Michael, Jin and Sawyer appear most unfriendly. They're also apparently keeping Ana Lucia (who we saw briefly in the first season finale) in a cage of some kind, according to the preview for next week. This implies that whoever these people are, they aren't the other survivors from the flight. Either that, or the other survivors have gone brutally "Lord of the Flies" in a very short period of time.
-Locke appears to be perfectly healed from his brief scare last season. He's still able to walk. Why that faded for a little while, and has now returned, is so far unexplained.
-The song Desmond plays on the record player is "Make Your Own Kind Of Music," a dippy, catchy pop number from the 1970's. This seems to imply that the hatch has been around since at least that time-period. The early, bulky computer equipment and the record player (as opposed to cd or tape player) seem to back that up.
-There are hundreds of unexplained scratches in the wall of the hatch, groupings of five markings, as if counting something.

As usual, I've got no idea what any of this means. Anyone else have some ideas?

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Snowcones In Hell

Vegas must be reeling right about now.

Tom DeLay Indicted - Steps Down

A Travis County grand jury today indicted U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay on one count of criminal conspiracy, prompting the Sugar Land Republican to give up his leadership post in Congress.


I honestly never thought this guy would have to see the inside of a courtroom, much less be indicted. Here's the part of the article I love:

Even with DeLay indicted, many Republicans will breathe a sigh of relief that Craddick and others weren't indicted.

Sex Detectives

Apparently, the Vatican is sending investigators into Catholic seminaries to look for "evidence of homosexuality."

I suggest that they put their seminarians in water to see if they float. If they do, they are clearly homosexual. If they, instead, sink to the bottom and drown...well, they're not.

Failing that, they could light the seminarians on fire to see if they, like Lucifer, can withstand the flickering flames.

Other worthy suggestions: Checking for prehensile tails, looking for signs of "limp-wristedness," monitoring speech for effeminate lisps, going through their record collections in search of albums by Barbara/Liza/Cher.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Running On The Issues

I'm a big believer in trying to see all sides of an argument. No matter what you think about the way this country is run, you're doing it a disservice to assume that "the other side" is always wrong.

So I like to read the National Review, Power Line, Jonah Goldberg, and Andrew Sullivan. I don't always agree with what these particular voices have to say. In fact, I tend to virulently disagree, approximately most of the time.

But learning "the other side's" arguments, not just hearing your own camp's talking points, is essential to knowing what's going on in the collective National hive-mind. As I was strolling through "The Corner," a section of the National Review's online site, I was momentarily stupified by the banner ad they're running at the top of the page.

TIM KANE Would Like You To Think He's The Next Mark Warner

But He Is Really A JOHN KERRY In Sheep's Clothing

Do You Really Want A JOHN KERRY CLONE Running Virginia?

Click Here To Make Sure A "JOHN KERRY WANNA-BE" Won't End Up In
Richmond

This is the Big Money equivalent of schoolyard name-calling. An alternate script for the ad could read "Tim Kane is a big fat stupidhead. Do you really want a big fat stupidhead running Virginia?"

And I didn't even mention the little cartoon of this Tim Kane guy's head on the body of a sheep. Or the way they intersperse his lil' noggin with the cadaverous cranium of Kerry.

It's A Small World, After All

Greetings, Salutations, and Welcoming Hosannas to my recent visitors from:
-New South Wales, Australia
-Singapore
-Hong Kong
-Rome, Italy
-Paris, France
-Blackpool and Cambridge, U.K.
-Manitoba, Canada

And from our own US of A:
-Washington, Colorado, Utah, Texas, California, Missouri, Indiana, Michigan, Louisiana, West Virginia, Alabama, Florida, North Carolina, Connecticut, New York, and the District of Columbia.

You're all appreciated - every last one of ya. Why not leave a few comments behind while you're in my neighborhood? I'd love to hear your thoughts. Rest assured, unless you come across as an unmitigated jackass, you'll be treated with courtesy, respect, and sensual, full-body massages.

Yes, massages for all.

Virtual Insanity

According to CNN.com, a video game is being made from the popular Fox soap opera, "the O.C." If you're like me, you're probably wondering what the hell you'd do in a video game based around a show who's idea of action is a poolside catfight, and whose idea of problem-solving involves alcohol/domestic violence/repression.
The style of play is similar to reality-simulation titles like "The Sims," allowing fans of the show to explore the "O.C." universe by dressing to impress, joining the right cliques, dating the right people and striving to fit into the ultra-trendy community, Guillemot said.
Yes, your already-media-saturated progeny will be able to hone their skill at the acquiring of material goods and the exclusion of those different from themselves. Virtually.

The fundamental paradox of the O.C. has always intrigued me. It's a show that's arguably about misfits, outcasts, and losers (including a comic book obsessed geek, a violence-prone sap, several alcoholics, two terrible fathers and husbands, women that are either scheming bitches or emotional houses-of cards, an a partridge in a pear tree) that somehow becomes a show about glamorous, beautiful, enviable people whenever the marketing people talk about it.

Doublespeak 101



Good morning, class. Today, we're going to learn about something called "doublespeak." Can you say "doublespeak?" I knew you could!

Let's look at what Wikipedia has to say about our old friend, Mr. doublespeak:
"language deliberately constructed to disguise or distort its actual meaning, often resulting in a "communication bypass".

Reading Cintra Wilson's salon report on joining the White House press corp for a week provides a real-life, alarmingly applicable example of doublespeak as its used today. I've reprinted an exchange between David Gregory (reporter) and Scott McClellan (WS press secretary). I'll be providing snarky commentary in bold print, kind of like a DVD director's commentary, but without the DVD. Or the director. The topic of discussion on July 29th, 2005 was, in part, stem cell research. Take it away, David Gregory!


REPORTER DAVID GREGORY: The Republican Party appears to be moving away from this president on [the issue of stem cell research.] How does he react to that?
WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY SCOTT McCLELLAN: I think that there are many Americans that share the president's view that we need to continue to explore and advance science, but we need to make sure that we maintain ethical standards. As I said, these are decisions that have far-reaching consequences. And that's why the president worked to find common ground on this difficult issue.
GREGORY: OK, let me just interrupt. Most Americans --
McCLELLAN: Hang on, hang on.
GREGORY: Most Americans don't support the president's decision, according to polls.
McCLELLAN: Hang on. This is a difficult issue ... The president has always worked to try to find common ground on difficult issues...

Okay, now...watch close, because the slight-of-hand McClellan pulls here is breathtaking in its audaciousness. -M.

GREGORY: ...The fact is that the Republican Party is moving away from this president, and there is a feeling that Senator Frist articulated today that, in effect, the president is stuck in a 2001 decision when the science is passing him by.
McCLELLAN: OK, I'm going to disagree with you right now on saying the Republican Party is moving away. The Republican Party is united and moving forward to implement important priorities for the American people. This week has been one of the most successful weeks --
GREGORY: On stem cell -- I'm talking about this issue.
McCLELLAN: No, no, you made a general statement that they're moving away.

McClellan tries here to divert the line of questioning Gregory is pursuing, by thick-headedly insisting that Gregory meant something he clearly did not.

GREGORY: No, no, I meant on this issue. I meant on this issue.
McCLELLAN: Well, but let me talk about this issue, because some of you in this room, and some of your colleagues, two months ago, were saying that this president is facing lame-duck status, that we can't get things done that --

Again, McClellan diverts the question. And he does so in a most Orwellian way - by saying "let's talk about this issue," and then talking about something entirely different. So, Gregory attempts to get an answer again. Watch what happens.

GREGORY: Let's not divert off of that, Scott. I was specific to this issue. Let's not get off on that. McCLELLAN: Of course, you don't want to talk about it.

McClellan's in shameless top form here, interrupting Gregory's unanswered, specific question with a total non-sequitor, then accusing Gregory of "not wanting to talk about it," when the reporter attempts to steer the line of questioning back to stem cell research. This sort of conversational logic was formerly the domain of Superman's colorfully backwards foe "Bizarro," but the discipline has apparently been adopted by McClellan.

GREGORY: That was your opening statement [referring to the "Lame duck" issue], you had time about that. No, the Republicans support you on any number of things, I can list them --
McCLELLAN: You don't want to talk about it.
GREGORY: I'd love to talk about it, let's lengthen the briefing, but one question about --
McCLELLAN: I'm not going anywhere.
...
McCLELLAN: Now I want to back up, because I do think it's important to talk about the accomplishments. Maybe you don't want to talk about it, because a number of people in the media were saying just two months ago --
GREGORY: Don't start with that.
McCLELLAN: No, let's start with that.
GREGORY: Don't take me on like I don't want to talk about it. That's ridiculous. You want to make your statement, make your statement. I was asking you a specific question on a specific issue, and don't try to turn this into a screed about the media.
McCLELLAN: Then don't make a broad statement, like you did.
GREGORY: I corrected myself. I meant on this issue.
McCLELLAN: Of course you don't want to talk about it, because you don't want the American people to hear about the great progress that we're making on the legislative front.

Did you just see that? McClellan doesn't even acknowledge Gregory's argument. Instead, McClellan creates his own argument from thin air. Doug Henning never did that, biatches. There is your communication bypass, in all its glory.

So, what was the point of this? I'm not sure, really. I suppose it's important to me that people know they're being played like lutes (if one were to choose the lute as your instrumental representative. Some may feel more like guitars in their willingness to be played. Assign your own instrument of choice as you will). Politics are chock full of this crap, now. Both sides play the doublespeak game. But its galling as hell to see the Press Secretary so blatantly work that game in service of obscuring truth from the fourth estate.

Me Am Bizarro Norquist!


Grover Norquist, a leading advocate of substantially reducing the federal government, argued that the disaster only underlined the need for more tax cuts to spur the economy. "Step one is you deal with the problem - rebuild New Orleans," he said, "and step two, you enact economic policies so you can afford to rebuild New Orleans."



Madness. Tom Tomorrow would like to ask Mr. Norquist if he handles his personal finances in this fashion. I'm kind of curious, myself.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

At Least I Didn't Send Out A Mass Email

Don't those annoy? I do them too, so don't think I'm above it.

This is a Politics test. It tells you where it thinks you land on the political spectrum. It's interesting. Take it.

NOW.

From my test:

You are a Social Liberal (78% permissive)and an...
Economic Liberal (26% permissive)

You are best described as a: Strong Democrat

You exhibit a very well-developed sense of Right and Wrong and believe in economic fairness.

Does Wayne Brady Have To Choke A Bitch?

ONTARIO, Calif. - A 14-year-old student was expelled from a Christian school because her parents are lesbians, the school's superintendent said in a letter.

Stob wrote that school policy requires that at least one parent may not engage in practices "immoral or inconsistent with a positive Christian life style, such as cohabitating without marriage or in a homosexual relationship," The Los Angeles Times reported in Friday's edition.

I'm appalled but, at this point, unsurprised. Appalled is really too polite of a word for it, too. Frankly, hearing this makes me get that knotted, iron feeling in my gut - the one that usually means I'm about to lay some sonofabitch out. The sheer, ugly malignance of this engenders a primal, passionate rage in me.

What is wrong with the human heart, that it has such a capacity for cruelty? Why do we continue to invent reasons to divide us? Is it the mission of the "Christian" public ('Christian' in the 'drunk-on-the-blood-of-the-dark-god-Kali-insane' sense of the word) to dare to speak for God? Was it not the Lord, Christ himself, who told those who would judge those around them to remove the plank from their own eye before tossing stones at the whores?

I do believe it was.

The part of this story that just absofuckinglutely breaks my heart is this:

"Clark and her partner have been together 22 years and have two other daughters, ages 9 and 19."


There's your threat to family values, folks.

Have your sense of right and wrong incinerated HERE.