Saturday, February 25, 2006

Adios, Mr. Furley


Don Knotts, the skinny, lovable nerd who kept generations of television audiences laughing as bumbling Deputy Barney Fife on “The Andy Griffith Show,” has died. He was 81.

The West Virginia-born actor’s half-century career included seven TV series and more than 25 films, but it was the Andy Griffith show that brought him TV immortality and five Emmys.The show ran from 1960-68, and was in the top 10 of the Nielsen ratings each season, including a No. 1 ranking its final year. It is one of only three series in TV history to bow out at the top: The others are “I Love Lucy” and “Seinfeld.”

Knotts appeared on six other television shows. In 1979, Knotts replaced Norman Fell on “Three’s Company,” playing the would-be swinger landlord to John Ritter, Suzanne Somers and Joyce DeWitt.Early in his TV career, he was one of the original cast members of “The Steve Allen Show,”

Knotts’ G-rated films were family fun, not box-office blockbusters. In most, he ends up the hero and gets the girl — a girl who can see through his nervousness to the heart of gold.

They may not have been blockbusters, but they were very much a part of my childhood.

Mr. Knotts, I hope you're in a good place. Whether guesting on Scooby-Doo, or causing a ruckus with the Apple Dumpling Gang, you made growing up a little bit funnier.


Survey Says....?

I took a poll over at DailyKos on whether "Why Mommy
Is A Democrat" is a book that you'd read to your
own children. Here are the scintillating results:

Q: Is This Book Something You'd Read Your Children?
Yes, I Think The Democratic Party IS The "Moral" Party, And Our Children Should Learn That Early 31 %

Yes, Because Even Though Democrats Aren't Actually "Moral" As An Entity, They're Still Better Than Those Goddamn Republicans
9 %

Yes, Because This Shit Is Hilarious.
5 %

Yes, Because I Need Something To Read After Toking
3 %

Maybe, If It Comes With A Stuffed Toy Jackass Like The One On The Cover
0 %

Maybe, If Dick Cheney Appears In The Book As An Anthropomorphic Bear Who Growls A Lot
1 %

Maybe, As A Gift To That Friend Of Mine In Williamsberg Who Like Weird Kids Books Like "Everybody Poops"
3 %

No, Because Indoctrinating Your Children Into A Party At That Age Is Borderline-Clinical Behavior

No, Because, As Far As I Can Tell, This Story Contains No Anthropomorphic Cheney-Bears
1 %

No, Because I Hate My Mommy
0 %

Friday, February 24, 2006

Portraits In Rage V: The Portraiting

Over at DailyKos, I've posted an expanded diary on "Why Mommy Is A Democrat;" a disturbing piece of propaganda that made Codemorse's "Portraits In Rage" series. One of the commentors pointed me toward our next entry, a conservative children's book.

I swear to God, our country's made like Herbie, and gone bananers.

The book in question is "Help! Mom! There Are Liberals Under My Bed!" No, I'm not kidding.

Here's one reviewer's description:

A simple project to raise money for a swing set, with a little put aside to buy shoes for shoeless children, and a picture of Jesus to whom the owners give thanks, plummets into a complicated disaster when the liberals get wind of the scheme. Half the money goes to taxes, 'big brother' arranges to buy dustpans for the shoeless children, the Jesus picture is replaced by one of a big toe (one of only two images deemed to be non-offensive). Rules and regulations continue to balloon until finally the Liberals just take over the stand, since they know what is best.

Highly recommended as a start for your child's political education and a springboard for discussions of modern events and political platforms. Easy enough for young children to understand, yet memorable and beneficial for all ages.

Here's a few comments on the book:

"This book is the answer to a baseball mom's prayers! A well-crafted, tightly honed book that makes it easy to explain a complicated world. Pick it up-read it to your children and watch good things happen."
--Melanie Morgan, talk radio host, KSFO San Francisco

"Help! Mom! There Are Liberals Under My Bed combines an ingenious story with hilarious illustrations to teach kids about the value of hard work and the threat that taxes pose to the American Dream."
--Grover Norquist, president, Americans for Tax Reform

--Alan Colmes, co-host of Fox News "Hannity & Colmes"

(Note: Coming from a liberal like Alan, we take that as a compliment!)

You can't make this stuff up. And you can't gild a lily, either.

Well, maybe just a little. Has a large segment of our population decided that they live in a Zucker Brothers movie?

This joins codemorse's Portraits In Rage series for obvious reasons.

I Spy, With My Little Eye....

From National Journal:

A controversial counter-terrorism program, which lawmakers halted more than two years ago amid outcries from privacy advocates, was stopped in name only and has quietly continued within the intelligence agency now fending off charges that it has violated the privacy of U.S. citizens.

Research under the Defense Department's Total Information Awareness program -- which developed technologies to predict terrorist attacks by mining government databases and the personal records of people in the United States -- was moved from the Pentagon's research-and-development agency to another group, which builds technologies primarily for the National Security Agency, according to documents obtained by National Journal and to intelligence sources familiar with the move. The names of key projects were changed, apparently to conceal their identities, but their funding remained intact, often under the same contracts.

I'd like to take this moment to give a wave and a big, friendly howdy to "Basketball," the ongoing suveillance program that's probably monitoring me as I type.

Codemorse loves Mom, Apple Pie, and America. Codemorse does not love secretive spying on American citizens (and, to be honest, Apple Pie's sorta gross. But God Bless America! And Mom!)

(Link courtesy of D-Kos)

Back In Black

The first official shot of Spider-Man has emerged, and that's not a black and white photo. It's his black costume. Those of you who spent their allowance on Todd MacFarlane's squiggly art in the 80's/90's probably have a pretty good idea about where Spider-Man 3 is headed.

Is Sam Raimi really bringing Venom to life?

(Image taken from, and property of/copyright Sony Pictures.)

They Know What's Best For You (You Stinking Baby-Killer)

From CBS News:

South Dakota moved closer to imposing some of the strictest limits on abortion in the nation, as the state Senate approved legislation that would ban it except when a woman's life is in danger.

The bill, designed to wage a national legal fight about the legality of abortion, passed 23-12 Wednesday. It next returns to the state House, which has passed a different version.

The measure would make South Dakota the first state to ban abortion in nearly all circumstances. Doctors would face up to five years in prison for performing abortions unless a woman needed one to save her life.

The hope of the bill's supporters, reports Jodi Schwan of CBS affiliate KELO-TV, is that the U.S. Supreme Court will be more receptive if the case gets that far.

"They feel with the changing makeup of the Supreme Court that it is perhaps a time to start challenging Roe v. Wade, and they think especially with the addition of Alito and Roberts to the court that those are justices who would vote in their favor," says Schwan.

Opponents of the measure say abortion should at least be allowed in cases involving rape, incest and a threat to a woman's health, they said. Senators rejected proposed changes that would have created exceptions in those cases. They also declined to put the proposed ban before voters in the November election.

That's funny, I thought this was a democracy.

I fully support a woman's right to choose, despite finding abortion personally repugnant. That the proponents of this Bill refused to carve out exceptions for rape and incest makes me shake my head in disgust. It further proves that, while the life of unborn children may be of concern to these people, the lives of adults are considerably less important.

Pro-life means pro-LIFE, not Pro-cute-lil'-babies.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Portraits In Rage IV

I tend to be pretty down on Republicans 'round these parts. Some people have taken this to mean that I'm an unapologetic "lefty," and that's somewhat understandable - but I'm no Party man.

Political parties tend to discourage free thinking. They encourage group-think, and emotion over intellect. In our stagnating system, being "Republican" or "Democrat" is the equivalent of being a Yankees or a Red Sox fan. The allegiance encourages bewildering animosity, drives deep emotional barriers between people who otherwise might get along, and offers about the same amount of control and influence over how things are run. Namely, none.

So, "Why Mommy Is A Democrat" makes me vomit in my mouth a little. A "children's book" designed to teach your tots that Democrats are better than Republicans, "Why Mommy Is A Democrat" is the most loathesome example of blind-partisanship I've seen in a long time.

Notice that "mommy" is keeping her children safe from an elephant. Just a little further up the road from the "dangerous" pachyderm is someone who looks like a child molester/drug dealer/homeless person.

It would take a blind, retarded person not to understand the "Subliminal" message of this cutesy lil' pastel-n'-fuzzy-animal tableau. Let's not even get into the supremely icky notion of equating the Democratic Party with "mommy."

Is this what we've come to? Do Democrats feel so utterly disenfranchised that they've begun indoctrinating their children into their "faith" through picture books and creepy psychological conditioning?

Apparently so. Just listen to these testimonials!

Erin White-Johnson, I fear for your children. Are "REAL moral values" attributable to any one Party? Sure. In the movies. But in real life, moral values are something independent from political ideology. Or, I'd argue, they should be.

What message is that, Debbie Brennan? That you're attempting to cement your child's party allegiance around the same time that they're discovering colors, shapes, and the joy of poo?

I'm blown away by this, and it joins Codemorse's Portraits In Rage because this sort of passive-aggressive propaganda is worse than suggesting you "Annoy A Liberal" (although that pisses me off something fierce). I'd go so far as to label it grotesque. That's a word that's lost some power, but it's a good word. A serious word. And I believe that it applies here.

If you're teaching your children that the Democratic Party, or any Party, should be trusted and loved "just like mommy," then you are teaching your children the direct, polar opposite of "REAL moral values." You are teaching them blind loyalty. You are teaching them to be sheep.

And sheep get sheared. And eaten. Usually by wolves (who, if Chuck Jones is to be believed, punch a clock like every other average joe).

Teach your children to think for themselves. Authoritarian cultists are scary, but this....this is fucking frightening.

Well, I Know You Got A Bad Education - And It Isn't Just Talk, Talk, Talk

Interesting news in the ongoing war against education:

After a tumultuous week of community debate and heavy news media coverage, the Upper St. Clair school board voted last night to eliminate the district's International Baccalaureate program before an angry and vocal crowd of about 1,000 people.

The vote came after more than three hours of debate and impassioned pleas from parents and students to save the program, which is used is used at 1,722 schools in 122 countries.

Founded in 1968, the program aims to give students a world perspective and develop critical thinking skills. About 700 students participate in it. Schenley High School and Vincentian Academy in McCandless also use the curriculum.

Dr. Daniel Iracki, a leader of the faction that voted against the program, said he was elected as part of a slate of candidates who promised to reduce district expenditures. "We promised to be fiscally responsible," Dr. Iracki said.

The Upper St. Clair School District, with 4,100 students in six schools, has a budget for this school year of $50 million. The program costs the district approximately $80,000.

Dr. Iracki and other newly elected members of the board expressed opposition to the program on the grounds that it is Marxist, anti-Christian, un-American and too costly.

Mr. Bluey said...that he saw very little data that supported keeping the program. He noted that 85 to 90 percent of the students in the district do not participate in it.

Many of the parents who mobilized in recent weeks to save the program say IB is the reason their families moved in the district in the first place. They note that President Bush has publicly commended the program.

Here's where things get really interesting:

Here's how Upper Saint Clair School Board member Daniel Iracki explained his opposition to the International Baccalaureate program at this week's school board meeting: "No convincing factual evidence has been presented that IB is a superior education to proven and existing programs, such as AP."After that -- and despite opposition from hundreds of parents and students -- the board voted to kill the program.

But at last week's lightly attended committee meeting, Iracki was telling a different story."The impetus for this in-depth look at the IB program occurred with the election of a new school board in November 2005, when my candidacy and the three other members of our slate were opposed by IB students principally because of my statement at the candidates forum that our country was founded on Judeo-Christian values and we have to be careful about what kind of values our children are being taught," Iracki said.

Team 4 has learned that school officials ordered that the cable television broadcast of this week's board meeting to stop when the parents started criticizing the board. The cable access channel usually airs the full meeting.School Board President William Sulkowski told Van Osdol by phone that, "As president, I can start the filming when I feel it's necessary and stop it when I feel it's not."

Even if you feel that this program is "Anti-Christian" (whatever that means, since we have no context for Iraki's beliefs) is this really the best way to go about changing things?

(links courtesy of oliver willis)

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Hit In The Head By The Bar

Posting at Codemorse will resume later tonight, or manana.

Once my brain has recovered.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Getting Tough* On Terror (*"Tough" apparently meaning: "Helping Known Terrorist Organizations Gain Significant Footholds.")

From WTOP:

BALTIMORE - Approval of a $6.8 billion sale that gives a United Arab Emirates company control over operations at six major American ports - including Baltimore's - was an "outrageous, reckless and irresponsible decision," Mayor Martin O'Malley said Saturday.
O'Malley, who co-chairs the U.S. Conference of Mayors' Task Force on Homeland Security, called on President Bush to reverse the decision "to surrender already vulnerable American port operations to a foreign government."

The Bush administration has defended its decision, saying the sale was "rigorously reviewed" by a U.S. committee that considers security threats when foreign companies seek to buy or invest in American industry.

critics have cited the UAE's history as an operational and financial base for the hijackers who carried out the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Portraits in Rage III

This time, it's personal.

Apparently, questioning the comparison of the upcoming "V For Vendetta" with DW Griffith's infamous "Birth of a Nation" means that I'm a terrorist sympathizer.

To wit:

THAT Matt is something you can’t escape. You are unable to condemn ACTUAL tyranny (that of the rampaging Muslim mob holding up signs saying “God Bless Hitler") and are so in the position of groveling before the mob condemning fake tyranny, that of actual resistance.

Why did the Matrix suck? Because it played out the Wachowski’s deranged Nietchezian fantasies of remaking human nature (seen played out in Larry’s makeover into a transgendered person with a Dominatrix partner) in horrible utopian fantasies. This film sucks exactly that way.

Because it argues that Western society should be destroyed in favor of violent Nietchezian supermen running things. OF COURSE we question your patriotism.

Keep in mind, this commentator hasn't even seen the movie yet. Authoritarian cultists, unite!

Update! weighs in HERE. Recommended as a palate cleanser to the rage-that-is-Libertas.