Monday, December 29, 2008
Ms. Savage has shuffled off this mortal coil. She was a B-movie actress for most of her career. She had resurfaced recently to play Guy Maddin's "mother" in "My Winnipeg" (which I haven't yet seen, although Maddin is a unique and fascinating filmmaker).
She'll be remembered most for playing the absolutely vicious Vera in Edgar G. Ulmer's no-budget film noir "Detour". "Femme fatale" doesn't even come close to decribing what Savage does in this movie. Savage's character would eat a femme fatale for breakfast. And then beat another femme fatale to death with the first one's bones.
The scene where she wakes up in the car next to Tom Neal is awe-inspiring in its trashiness. When Savage opens her eyes, it's as if a sleeping crocodile has just been startled out of its tentative slumber and is mere nanoseconds from tearing your head off. It's so over-the-top that you don't know whether to be frightened or to laugh. The movie is basically trash, but it's hugely entertaining trash. Savage's character, such as it is, is one-dimensional and subhuman. And you can't stop watching her.
Friday, December 26, 2008
This is something that's always bugged me about a certain brand of conservative. The "love" that they have seems arbitrary and tribal. It's uninterested in improvement. What we have is perfect and to hell with anyone who says otherwise. That's not love, it's infatuation. And laziness.
One of my favorite responses from conservatives whenever I dare to criticize anything our best-nation-in-the-history-of-the-universe does is to compare us to Saddam Hussein. "At least we don't have someone like Saddam Hussein here!" Excuse me for daring to point this out, but when you speak with such hyperbole about a country's greatness don't you think the bar should be set a little higher than one of the worst leaders on the planet? Listen, conservatives. Pointing out that we are better than a stinking corrupt dictatorship is not exactly a ringing endorsement. "Best" is the not the same as "not quite as bad as the worst".
"Jimmy, why did you knock over that liquor store?"
"At least I'm not Bobby. He killed the liquor store manager."
"Oh, Jimmy, you're the best boy on earth!"
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Oops. Here's what he did that was so horrible.
He made a freaking snow angel after scoring a touchdown. He didn't hit anyone. He didn't threaten anyone. He didn't get all up in anyone's grill and say anything about their mama. He didn't even point at anyone and say "Your skills as a professional football player pale in comparison to mine! Enjoy the taste of this!" He just made a snow angel.
Come on, NFL. This is stupid. You're draining the life out of your sport with these lame-ass rules meant to prevent people from "taunting". I'm against taunting too. But there's a big difference between taunting an opponent and simply expressing joy at one's own accomplishment. If you can't see the difference, well, enjoy your $10,000. Which, by the way, was assessed after Welker's team was already punished by having a 15-yard penalty thrown at them. Excessive? Yeah.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Concert tickets are expensive. Unless you like really unpopular music (and I do like a lot of it) you're going to shell out some bucks for a show. At least for well-known artists. So with great anticipation (and money) I went to see Neil Young at MSG last week. Big show. Two opening acts, one of whom was Wilco, another musical act I like a whole lot.
So, how was the show, you ask? Well, if I had a gas mask, x-ray glasses and unidirectional ear plugs it would have been great. There are three distinct flavors of annoyances at concerts that make me batshit crazy. And they were all there. I shall now gripe about each in turn.
1. The Person Who Stands Up All the Time - I'm all for being excited by the act that you just shelled out a bundle to come see. But as an old SNL sketch demonstrated (sorry, can't find it online), crowds collectively decide whether to stand or sit at concerts. When there's just one yokel doing it, it's annoying. Especially when they're fewer than three rows in front of me. This person stood up after every song to throw her hands in the air, further obscuring the view. This is okay, assuming you're going to sit down again in a somewhat timely fashion. Which she usually didn't.
2. The Guy Who Sings Along to EVERY FUCKING SONG - I swear, I get this guy at every big concert I go to. Does he think that no one can hear him? Does he think I want to hear him? Does he know what the word "off-key" means? Does he think I dropped a hundred bucks to hear Neil Young with Special Guest Doug Malinowski in Row C Seat 13? Will he sign my ticket stub? My favorite part was during "Powderfinger" when he not only sang the words, most of which he knew, but the goddamn guitar parts too. ("The closer they got, the more these feelings greeeeew! Dairn dair dairn de-dair-dair dair de-dairn!") I actually was relieved when Neil sang new songs that no one knew. At least this dude shut up for a bit.
3. The Smoker - You knew this was coming, didn't you? Smoking was banned at pretty much every indoor space in New York City early on in the Bloomberg administration, and no one was happier about it than I. Finally, I said to myself, I can go out and hear music (and play music) without wanting to die. Apparently, this is not so much the case. One dude lights up. Stinky. Gross. It can be nipped in the bud if somebody nearby says "Hey, dude, do you mind?" or an usher comes by and politely asks the offending party to extinguish. But when this doesn't happen, it emboldens others around to do the same. The original party, now emboldened in turn by the acquiescence and participation of others, ceases to hide the cigarette under the seat between puffs, and in his cupped hands during puffs, and just smokes openly through the whole freakin' show. Person #1 even joined in. She was too far away for me to tell if she pulled off the annoyance trifecta, but she clearly didn't have much lung power because, rather than being forcefully expelled upward and/or outward, the smoke just drifted out of her mouth and wafted back towards me to say hello. I did not return its friendly greeting.
Rules don't mean anything if nobody enforces them. Now, there are no hard and fast rules against #1 and #2, so I accept that I'm just a curmudgeon who should stay home if that crap bothers him. But #3 really angers me. Apart from the general unpleasantness (that I spent a lot of money to experience, fuck you very much) I had a freakin' headache for most of the show, which was really long, by the way. And, oh, you know, it's just the law and all. Not that anybody cares about laws in this country anymore.
Am I overreacting? Is it just me? Seriously, what the hell is wrong with people?
Oh, by the way, Merry Christmas!
Monday, December 22, 2008
I'm all for inclusion and everything. But it's tough to include those who don't include. It's tough to tolerate those who don't tolerate. Even when they're nice about it. "Dude! How's it going? Cool! Love your shirt. Your wife is so pretty. Let's do lunch next week. Oh, by the way, you're going to hell. Bye, sweetie!"
Christopher Hitchens can be an insufferable prick, but I love to hear him rant about religious people. He's got a nifty tirade in Slate today about the situation.
"[I]f we must have an officiating priest, let it be some dignified old hypocrite with no factional allegiance and not a tree-shaking huckster and publicity seeker who believes that millions of his fellow citizens are hellbound because they do not meet his own low and vulgar standards."
Saturday, December 20, 2008
When Stanley Kubrick died, my first thought was "Oh, no!" but it was followed almost immediately by "Oh, no! Did he finish "Eyes Wide Shut"? I'm the last person earth who would suggest that the passing of Majel Barrett ranks up there with Kubrick's as a loss to our culture. But I was heartened to hear that Mrs. Roddenberry managed to complete one last turn as the computer's voice in J.J. Abrams' new prequel.
Trekkers of the world, raise a glass of, oh, I don't know, Romulan ale... Klingon bloodwine... tea - Earl Grey - hot... whatever ya got. She lived long and she prospered.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
When confronted with an unassailable truth (one that doesn't comport with his "reality") he resorts to speaking like a 12-year-old. Which, I know, is only a small downgrade.
Bush: One of the major theaters against al Qaeda turns out to have been Iraq. This is where al Qaeda said they were going to take their stand. This is where al Qaeda was hoping to take ...
Raddatz: But not until after the U.S. invaded.Bush: Yeah, that's right. So what?
So what? SO WHAT? SO FUCKING WHAT?
Go throw a shoe at the bastard.
Read this transcript of an interview with ABC's Jonathan Karl. He regrets nothing. Nothing. And when Karl suggests that some may take a less-than-charitable view of the tyrannical (yes, tyrannical) powers that Cheney has arrogated to himself and his administration, he says they "don't know what they're talking about".
Here's what he said in response to questions about the use of torture. Now keep in mind that Cheney actively supports waterboarding, which is defined as torture in U.S. law and in treaties to which we are a signatory.
"I think the results speak for themselves. And I think those who allege that we've been involved in torture, or that somehow we violated the Constitution or laws with the Terrorist Surveillance Program, simply don't know what they're talking about."How can you get more insulting than that? If you want to be immediately whisked out of the Christmas spirit, assuming you were in it in the first place, go read the rest of the interview. Hate will fill your heart. He also absolves himself of the responsibility for creating the existing climate and pushing the policies of torture, rendition and absence of due process. He merely claims that he "supported" them. This says otherwise. Liar liar.
I am looking forward to the end of this administration. But I will not be satisfied just to see it end. Justice must be done. The rule of law looks both forward and backward. (It has to, as all crimes were committed in the past. Duh.) I will not be happy until this man and his felonious cronies are behind bars. They belong there. And I do know exactly what I'm talking about.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
This sums up my feelings about the past eight years. I have just wanted to throw shit at this guy every time I've heard him "speak". And I've honestly been wondering how all of those people (press, foreign dignitaries, schoolchildren) could possibly listen to the utter crap that comes out of his mouth and manage to repress the urge to do the same. It's been maddening.
Although his behavior was entirely unprofessional, I heartily applaud this dude (an Iraqi journalist, apparently, but not for long, I'm guessing) for expressing the feelings of millions of us. It's a bit cathartic. And funny. And hey, nobody got hurt. We already knew that The Idiot was good at ducking. He's been ducking the truth for years.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Abortion is a highly emotional issue for people. (And hilarious!) Due to its fundamental nature (it is murder vs. it is not murder), it's pretty intractable. There really isn't any common ground there.
So if you want to tell me it's wrong because it's murder, I really can't argue with you there. We'll just have to shake hands (or not) and move along to Social Security or the Iraq War (which, strangely enough, is supported by many of the Culture of Life people).
But here's a novel argument from a letter writer in todays' NYTimes. They must've had a great time publishing this one. Apparently, the problem with abortion is that it's thinning out our population.
For some people, abortion is a nonnegotiable issue. A nation that runs out of people cannot perform the activities of a sophisticated society.
We have a shortage of primary care doctors. There are other skilled-worker shortages. You cannot kill the future population of a nation and then wonder why that nation does not have the people it needs to do the jobs it requires to function.
Our nation needs to face up to the 48 million lives lost through abortion since 1973. I think at least some of that number would have become the skilled people we need now and will need even more as our population ages.
Abortion is at the very center of a host of our troubles.Elinor Hite
Man, I laugh every time I read this. (Hilarious, I said!) So, the problem isn't that all life is sacred. It's that we don't have enough people to do all of our jobs. Um, Ms. Hite apparently hasn't seen our latest unemployment figures. You see, when you abort a fetus, you're aborting a doctor or a skilled machinist. You couldn't possibly be aborting a junkie or a drug dealer or a crack whore or a folk musician. Or, I don't know, one of the 533,000 people who just lost their jobs. God help us, we need those people! Don't kill them! We're running out of people! Look at the figures!
You see? Since 1973 our population has increased by over 50% and it's all because of... Oh. Never mind.
Hey, Elinor! We've lost 15 million people from smoking in the same time period. Oh, but wait. They're keeping the doctors employed. Darn! I need to work on my logic.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
How fucking stupid do you have to be to advertise that a Senate seat is for sale? Even Dick Cheney pretends that he doesn't profit at all from the creepy things he does (>cough!< Halliburton!) and covers his tracks. This dude is just pathetic. Clean out his desk. Teach him how those license plates are made.
I can't wait to find out who Candidate 5 is. And crap, how much money were Candidates 1 through 4 willing to offer? This is going to be fun.
Friday, December 5, 2008
My least favorite, of course, is the ever-popular "No Smoking" sign. This is by far the worst because smoking is disgusting and, as is the case at the Staten Island Ferry terminal (on the bad side) where scofflaws continually light up on the path to the buses, unavoidable. Right. Under. The. God. Damn. Sign. Argh! Once I even saw an MTA EMPLOYEE offer a light to someone not 5 feet from a "No Smoking" sign. There is no hope for common courtesy. Or my lungs.
But, as obnoxious and gross as the smoking creeps are, there's a part of me that understands it. Particularly at the ferry, where folks have just spent at least 30 minutes on a boat and are about to get on a bus for another who-knows-how-long. They've only got a few precious seconds to get some of that mm-mm-good tarcotine in there before the next leg of their soul-crushing journey from a crappy corporate job in Manhattan to a miserable family on Staten Island. And it is an addiction. So there ya go. Smoking.
What really baffles me, though, is the revolving door. Not the door itself, but people's aversion to it. Now, big office buildings in NYC always have revolving doors alongside normal swing-open doors. (I use the technical terms for things here. Sorry if you have to look up terms like "swing-open doors". Erudition reigns here at the Den.) Naturally, the buildings prefer that you use the revolving doors because their use saves each building thousands of dollars a year (my guess) in heating and cooling costs. And helps to keep the smoke from the phalanx of tobacco addicts in its rightful place. But the swing doors remain usable for emergencies or for people in wheelchairs or with pizzas or whatever.
But there is almost always a sign saying something along the lines of "Please Use Revolving Door". And yet, I see people ignoring these signs every goddamn day of my life. What is it with people? What is so fucking awful about using a revolving door? You have to push it the same way you have to push the revolver. It takes about the same amount of strength. It takes about the same amount of time. Why would you ignore a clearly posted request for something that gives little or no benefit? It says "Please", for crying out loud!
The only possible explanation I can think of is claustrophobia. But you know what, I'm the most claustrophobic person I know. I refuse to get on a subway train if there are too many people on it. And I freak out if I get on and it doesn't move between stations. I see the same people who just ignored the door sign cramming onto the sardine train with no issues whatsoever.
Just this week in the building I work in, I saw the ever-present "Please..." sign placed directly in front of the door. With no gap. There was no way to avoid seeing it. There was no way to get out the door without acknowledging the sign physically. And yet...some dude actually squeezed himself around the sign to use the regular door.
Now, it neither breaks my leg nor picks my pocket that these people do this. But seriously, what the hell is wrong with people?
Thursday, December 4, 2008
The government should not be guaranteeing "universal healthcare." Healthcare is a need, not a right. Rights are freedoms of action, not automatic claims on goods and services that must be produced by another. There's no such thing as a "right" to a car or an appendectomy. Whenever the government attempts to guarantee a service such as healthcare, it must control it, leading to Canadian-style rationing and waiting lists.
Instead of universal healthcare, we need free-market reforms, such as allowing patients to purchase insurance across state lines and use health savings accounts for routine expenses, and allowing insurers to sell inexpensive, catastrophic-only policies to cover rare but expensive events. Such reforms could reduce costs and make insurance available to millions who cannot currently afford it.
Paul Hsieh, MD
This letter isn't stupid crazy batshit dumb. But it does fail to justify itself with anything concrete. The arguments are as old and weak as Nancy Reagan.
Fist of all, I completely agree with Dr. Hsieh's first statement. I don't believe that health care is a right. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't have it. Roads aren't a right either. They are a good provided by another. And the troopers patrolling them are a service provided by another. But the government builds them and staffs them because they help us. We seem to think that's okay. The argument that health care isn't, or shouldn't be, a "right" is immaterial.
Dr. Hsieh really falls apart when he brings Canada into the equation. He leads off the sentence with the premise that the government must "control" what it guarantees. Well, duh-fucking-uh. Did we expect the government to take something over and then just let it sit there? We've had enough of that with FEMA over the past eight years. The concept is ludicrous and only mentioned because, as we all know, government is always bad and the private sector is always good. The words "government" and "control" in the same sentence are meant only to scare you.
Now, where is the proof that universal health care in America will lead to rationing and waiting lists? Where? Our economy is a gazillion times greater than Canada's, even now. We have more than enough resources to cover everybody with no waiting lists and no rationing. We could have done it with room to spare with the money we spent, and continue to spend, in Iraq. Or that we just gave to Wall Street. The argument holds no water. (Notice also that free marketeers always point to Canada and its problems and never to, say, France, which does it really well.)
So, now that Dr. Hsieh has conclusively established that universal healthcare is a bad idea (rationing! government control!) he can stick the knife in with the old free-marketeers' standby. That's right, the health care market is just not open enough. If we just allow people to shop more, we'll all be okay.
Dude, I don't want to be able to afford health care. I don't want to shop. I just want to get it. Get it? These "reforms" will just lead to more money trickling UP to your pals in the insurance industry.
Fuck you, Dr. Hsieh, if that is your real name. And the insurance company you're shilling for.
Monday, December 1, 2008
When something is this loaded with stupid, we have to take it bit by bit, to allow the proper amount of jaw-dropping and snarky refutation for each nugget of poop. Here we go.
When we release the prisoners now at Guantánamo Bay, many will go back to their homelands and carry out attacks similar to what we just saw in India.
And this is to be proven how, exactly? Do we know which ones? If we have their plans for doing so, we've got enough to keep detaining them, don't we? And if we don't, well then, this is just fear-mongering and speculation. And this isn't Minority Report. Or is it?
And despite what many say, I believe that these people would have done this before they came to Gitmo, and not because of it.
Maybe. But if you piss on a hornet's nest, they're a lot more likely to sting you. And once again we're dealing with "these people", as if they're all cut from the same cloth and all have the same motives. This is the essence of xenophobia.
So the question becomes: What do you do with a person so evil that he will never give up the idea of killing Westerners until they are dead?
Well, I'd say you probably wanna lock 'em up. But we'll need some kind of way to determine which ones this applies to. Some kind of, I don't know, legal system.
Again, does this apply to all of them? How do we know? And here we also see the entrance of the dreaded "e" word. They're evil! Not criminals. Not war criminals. Not even deranged. But evil. If this is your view of the world then don't even bother making a legal or logical argument. You don't have one.
I eagerly await Barack Obama’s plan to try these barbarians in United States federal court. Security, both physical and national, will be a nightmare.
Ah, yes, barbarians. Barbarians, of course, are one step above cro-magnons. Naturally, such a being is undeserving of legal protections afforded to the civilized and non-evil (and white).
Obama doesn't need a "plan". We've had one in place for two centuries. It's our basic American legal process. It works fine. If they're guilty, they go to jail. If not, they don't. We've tried a few folks in civilian courts and so far no security nightmare. My guess is that the nightmare would only come from assheads like this causing a fuss at the courthouses.
Um, yeah. Switch out "teaching about constitutional law" for "running a few oil companies into the ground" or "fleecing a city for money for your baseball team" and you've got the problem with the last eight years. I think that teaching about constitutional law is a pretty good training ground for learning how to uphold said constitution. Call me crazy. Hell, just reading the damn thing once should have helped.
Teaching about constitutional law and actually having to protect America and enforce the law are two very different things. We’ll see how Professor Obama reacts to his first encounter with reality.Eric Smith
I love the word "reality" in this context. It's always used to imply that "reality"="maniacs want to kill us and anyone who says we shouldn't behave just as maniacally in response is a big fat pussy who hates his country and wants to see us all die". Here's reality in my estimation: on Inauguration Day the president swears to uphold our constitution. If he doesn't uphold it, he breaks that oath and disqualifies himself for the office. He does not swear to protect us, although it would be nice if he did that too. But it's not in the basic contract. Our ideals are more important than any individual life or group of lives.
And it's President-elect Obama to you, fucknut.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Not in Aw Shucks, Alaska though. And frankly, not in your local Ralph's-supplying abbatoir either. You've probably seen this already, or at least read about it. It's not overly graphic but it certainly conveys the casualness of slaughter.
Really, is this the only vantage point from which they could have conducted this interview? Grim.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
I've got a good title for her new book:
"I Can't Believe I've Squandered 30 Years with This Fucking Illiterate"
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
One of my college professors always said that if something is worth reading it's worth reading twice. I feel the same way about thoughts.
And I have been re-reading things lately. My most recent re-reading thing is a collection of Kafka's short fiction, including "The Metamorphosis" and "In the Penal Colony". Included in the collection are some other works, themselves anthologies, that contain brief, often very brief, stand-alone pieces. Here's one in its entirety from the collection "A Country Doctor" (the title piece of which is a hair-raiser, by the way, if you haven't read it).
The Next Village
My grandfather used to say: "Life is astoundingly short. To me, looking back over it, life seems so foreshortened that I scarcely understand, for instance, how a young man can decide to ride over to the next village without being afraid that - not to mention accidents - even the span of a normal happy life may fall far short of the time needed for such a journey."
So much to see. So much to read. So much to learn. So much to do. So much to feel. So much to think about. Don't even tell me you're bored. I'll slap you.
Monday, November 24, 2008
So far in our election hangover we've seen Mr. President-elect pick some fine not-so-liberal folks for his team. We've also seen him support the retention of Senator Douchebag while the knife wound in his back was still fresh.
The one clear victory for progressives so far (other than the fact that The Idiot is leaving soon, which couldn't help but move us in the right direction, even if it's not far enough) is Mr. Waxman's ousting of John Dingell as head of the Energy and Commerce Commitee. Dingell has been in the pockets of the auto industry forever and has almost single-handedly prevented us from moving to smaller and more fuel-efficient cars. He's opposed increased fuel efficiency every step of the way. Global warming and, more importantly, plain old pollution have been the winners. (Not to mention that old standby, reliance on foreign sources of energy. You know which one.) If you like asthma, Dingell's you're man.
Waxman isn't perfect. (Shock!) He spent way too much time trying to nail steroid-using ballplayers to the wall. It didn't work because they were so bulked up the nails kept breaking on their skin.
But he's very strong on environmental issues and should actually move us in the right direction for a change. Hope.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
So, next your biggest enemy comes along and says that you're a total pud and that you do the nasty with your mama. So what do I do? Well, I say, "Yeah, he's a total pud and I heard about that mama thing. It's scary, dude. And ya know what else? The whole club's a bunch of puds. Fuck those fucking puds." Then I let your enemy drive your car and crash it while he's drunk. And then blame you for it.
What's your next move? Tell me to piss off? Why no, of course. You give me the keys to your new car and whole-heartedly welcome me back to the club. Why?
Because you're a congressional Democrat, that's why.
Why the fucking fuck is fucking Joe Lieberman still in charge of anything? I know, I know. We're all in the spirit of bipartisanship. Fuck bipartisanship. Bipartisanship for the past 8 years has meant "everybody do what the president wants." Don't complain. Don't argue. You wouldn't want to be "partisan" now, would you? Bullshit.
Now we're all supposed to be "bipartisan" even after the criminals are being bounced out. Why? Because the wrong people are in power now, apparently. Partisanship is only good if it's not Democrats who are engaged in it.
Joe Lieberman is a goddamn traitor. And not an honorable one. He is more than welcome to believe anything he wants. He is more than welcome to support whomever he wants in any election. He is more than welcome to say anything he damn well pleases. But why on earth is he being rewarded for it? What kind of jellyfish does that?
It's bad enough that he supported McPain and slagged Obama throughout the whole election. You can make the argument that stripping him of his chairmanship for that would be petty. Although I'd argue with you there.
But the entire time he chaired the Homeland Security and Government Affairs committee he did nothing (NOTHING!) about the Bush administration's continual lawbreaking. The man did not do his job. In fact, he aided and abetted criminal behavior when he was charged with calling it out and exposing it. This alone is grounds for dismissal. And censure, if you ask me.
Simply put, he didn't do his job. He was worse than ineffective; he was destructive. A normal person in a normal job would be fired for such a thing. And yet here we are, with Joe Lieberman in exactly the same place he was in same time last year. (Oh, wait, he lost one little subcommittee chair. That'll show him.) The man is not a Democrat. And he does not believe what Democrats believe. At least not in the department in which he holds power. Fuck him and the horse he rode in on.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Smart One the First...
While we build a network of high-capacity underground electrical lines, we should also build high-capacity, high-speed, grade-level rail corridors.
Combining construction of both would lower the costs of each by combining right-of-way acquisition. Passenger rail, which is 5 to 10 times more efficient than air or car travel, would use local energy supplies and save energy over all.
Plus, this construction would spur the creation of hundreds of thousands of good jobs.Ari Ofsevit
We have criminally neglected rail travel in this country. We had many opportunities to create a great rail network on par with Europe's (people don't have cars in Europe like we do; they don't need to) and we have failed every time, opting instead for more highways and more cars. Here in New York City most people don't have cars. It's difficult to keep one here but it's also unnecessary. The subway goes nearly everywhere and the few places it doesn't go are served by buses. Better public transportation means a better environment. And more self-sufficiency for people of limited financial means.
I like Mr. Ofsevit's idea of killing two birds with one stone. Three, really. JOBS! But I'd go one step further and go with maglev trains for intercity and long-distance travel. They have them in Japan and they're awesome. They can't be plopped onto existing tracks but if we're making new lines (or refitting old ones) they should be considered. They're fast, quiet, and efficient because they eliminate friction. And, at speeds of over 300mph, they can compete with air travel.
Smart One the Second...
The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization has estimated that nearly a fifth of the world’s greenhouse gases is generated by livestock production, more than by transportation.
Yet Al Gore does not even mention the need for Americans to reduce meat consumption as we attempt to rescue ourselves from the climate crisis.Michael Radkowsky
I pride myself on not being a sanctimonious asshole about my food choices. I ate meat for over 30 years and dairy for another 5 or so. So it would be abject hypocrisy for me to excoriate others for not doing exactly what I do exactly when I do it. Nobody wants to be told what to eat (or not to eat) and I'm not going to look down on anyone for the choices they make in this area.
But a vegan with a Hummer has a much smaller carbon footprint than a carnivore with a Prius. Just sayin'. (Vegan with a Prius? Now you're talkin'. Vegan that takes solar-powered maglev public transportation? Be still, my healthily beating heart.)
What I like in this letter is that Mr. Radkowsky does not even say we need to eliminate meat consumption but that we should think about reducing it. This is easier for people to swallow. How many times a week do you eat meat? Six? Drop that to three and you've made a difference. Food for thought.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Here we must make a clear differentiation between those who fight our wars (and who we honor) and those who make the decisions to send them off to do so (who we generally despise).
When I see pictures of fine men and women at Walter Reed that are missing arms, legs, eyes, large pieces of their heads and even larger pieces of their souls I get pretty pissed. These people signed up to defend us. Few actually do. More often than not, they're on the offensive thousands of miles away from the homeland. This is an increase of tragedy. The loss is utterly unnecessary.
Our leaders should have to look at pictures of these people all day, every day. They should invent a computer program that simulates the minds of PTSD soldiers and make our leaders feel what they feel on a regular basis. Nightmares, daymares, jitteriness, moral numbness and isolation. And fear. Maybe they'd think twice about sending other people's sons and daughters off to kill and die to satisfy their geopolitical wet dreams. I'd even settle for them thinking once about it. War sucks the humanity out of people.
My own views on the necessity of their vocations aside, I have great respect for the people who don the uniform and serve. There is nothing any of us can do that compares to it. It's something I am constitutionally incapable of doing. Even when they are being sent on fool's errands, they are serving us. They are doing their job for the country they love. And it's not exactly a cushy one. Or a well-paying one.
It's almost criminal that I'm getting paid more for sitting in an office building than somebody who's getting shot at every day. Not to mention the warmongers who sent them to do so. And senators and federal executives get lovely parting gifts, including pensions and lucrative careers on the public speaking circuit. Your average soldier? Not much. Part of their college tuition and medical care. That's the very least we can do. Really. I think that anybody who goes through combat should be taken care of for life. LIFE. And their immediate families should be taken care of too. Why do we give a scumbag like Tom DeLay a bigger pension than somebody who went and got his legs blown off and wakes up screaming every night at 3AM? It makes no sense.
There will always be veterans of the military. I've got some in my family. Although they didn't fight, thankfully. But I want for there to be no veterans of war. It won't happen in my lifetime. Most of the soldiers coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan are half my age. And it won't happen in our children's lifetime. It will probably never happen.
But we should at least work towards making sure that we have fewer and fewer veterans as time goes on. Can we do that, please?
Saturday, November 8, 2008
Thing 1: The Bush Administration
This actually comes in two parts, Thing 1(a) and Thing 1(b).
Thing 1(a) is the existing legacy of these turdheads. The damage that they have done to, among other things, the environment, workers' rights, women's rights, science, separation of church and state, the judiciary, our infrastructure, confidence in government, our standing on the world stage, and, oh, our constitution is going to take the better part of Obama's first term (hey! optimism!) just to discover and unravel, let alone to fix.
And the judiciary can't be fixed unless one of the Supreme Court justices contracts a particularly virulent communicable disease, taking Roberts, Alito, Scalia and Thomas down with them. Barring that, those guys aren't going anywhere for the foreseeable future. The best-case scenario is that Ginsburg, Souter and Stevens are replaced with justices who will be similar to them. Obama's win won't shift the court back to the left. It will only prevent it from moving farther to the right. And this also leaves out the lower courts, which decide what even gets to the Supremes. Their effect goes largely unseen by the general populace. Dozens of creeps on the level of Scalia have been planted there over the last eight years. They're not going anywhere either.
And restoring regulations to industry is going to take forever, and will be violently opposed by the coal, oil, gas, logging and nuclear industries. Good luck with that. We can't take back the unnecessary pollution that has already been spewed and will continue to be spewed while we struggle to return some common sense to our environmental policy. Or bring back the polar bears and other less-cuddly animules that are dying out due to global warming. Which brings me to Thing 1(b).
Thing 1(b) is the inescapable fact that these guys are still in power for another two months. They have plenty of time to make things even more difficult for Big O. All presidents sneak in last-minute regulations designed to tie the hands of the next administration, or at least to make them look bad by repealing them. Read this to find out what we're up against here. We won't even mention all of the pardons for themselves and their buddies for civil rights violations, torture, illegal wiretapping, lying to congress etc.
Thing 2: 52%-47%
This felt like a big victory because Obama won a vast majority of electoral college votes. And the rest of the world is overwhelmingly pro-Obama. (Except, uh, Al Qaeda.) If the entire global population were allowed to vote in our election, Obama probably would have received 75-85% of the vote. But right here, he got just over half. What the hell is wrong with us?
Obama will undoubtedly be able to restore world opinion of us to a respectable level. He already has, without even doing anything in an official capacity. But right here at home, we have advanced a little but we've still got a long way to go. We're still a bit racist. We're still a bit anti-intellectual. We're still a bit untrusting of anything that smacks of gummint control, even if it's really government assistance. We're still not quite bright enough to take accusations like "socialist" with a real understanding of what the terms mean and how they relate to historical reality.
Considering a) how badly John McCain ran his campaign, b) how badly Bush/Cheney and the Republican Party have run this country, c) that 80% of the country told pollsters that the country was heading in the wrong direction, d) how little McCain's policies differed from Bush's, and e) how unbelievably ill-equipped Sarah Palin was for the office, it's pretty pathetic that almost half of us still thought it would be better to elect the same party again.
The hope that I have after this historic election is tempered by the sad realization that we have not, in fact, come such a long way, baby. But maybe we can get there. I'm willing to try if you are. I'll end with the same line I ended with earlier this week, because it holds true no matter what.
Let's get to work.
Friday, November 7, 2008
Jimmy, we hardly knew ye.
I knew nothing about this guy until the news dropped that he was dead at the ripe young age of 70. Well, almost nothing.
What I did know was that he was the drummer in The Mothers of Invention and he didn't do too much of note after Zappa disbanded the group after a few of the freakiest records that anyone had heard up to that point (which was 1969).
And every time I popped in "We're Only In It for the Money" I'd hear him say, "Hi, boys and girls. I'm Jimmy Carl Black and I'm the Indian of the group." Which was kinda funny, although I'm not really sure why.
It really sucks for some people after they get booted out of famous bands. Millions of people hear your playing and you get bupkis for it. The Ms of I were on salary and Frank wrote all of the songs so he kept all of the royalties. Apparently the guy even worked in a doughnut shop for a while. Oh, the humanity.
But he seemed like a decent guy who had a sense of humor about himself. And there just aren't enough Indians in rock music anymore. Or ever.
No, Buffy Sainte-Marie doesn't count.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
This one is from the Los Angeles Times. I'm going to have to take this one bit-by-bit. You'd choke if you read it all at once.
I am in mourning this morning because political correctness, redemptive liberalism and youthful ignorance triumphed over logic and reason in the presidential election.
Ha! Political correctness! Redemptive liberalism! Youthful ignorance! Logic! Reason! Oh my. This is the type of racism that gets published in papers. If you don't like a black person's success, chalk it up to PC liberals. Dude, the guy won because he was logical and rational. Oh, I almost forgot... Mourning! Ha!
Let's be honest. Obama, with virtually no experience and no record of legislative accomplishment, was elected only because he is black and liberal.
Let's be honest. Your letter was only published by this paper to show what an ignoramus you are. I could give other reasons why people voted for him, but why bother. Remember that last line.
Any white candidate with a resume as thin as his and similar ideas about redistribution of wealth would have been laughed off the stage, no matter how well-spoken he was.Take away the "redistribution" line and you've got pretty much what happened to Sarah Palin. So maybe the ideas are okay with us and we, I don't know, admire intelligence.
Likewise, most of the people who voted for Obama would never vote for a black conservative candidate, no matter how experienced and qualified he was.
Wait, I thought we voted for him because he was black. If that's the case, why wouldn't we vote for a black conservative? Make up your mind, dude. And hey, if most of the people who voted for him wouldn't vote for a black conservative, doesn't that mean that most of this country is actually >shudder!< LIBERAL? Enjoy your irrelevance.
Obama's policies, all of which have been tried before and failed, are not new and do not represent change, but rather they are a naive vision of how he believes things should be, instead of how things really are and have been proved to work best.
Uh, we did "try" them before. It was Bush who moved us away from them. They worked just fine in Bill Clinton's presidency and in the many before that that "tried" a top marginal tax rate of the one proposed by Obama and much much higher in some cases. How was that economy in the 90s again? And how is it now? Working best, is it? And here's one of Obama's policies that we've never tried before: energy independence and economic growth through investment in alternative fuel sources and technologies.
I am hopeful that his political pragmatism will keep his socialist ideas in check and prevent harm to our country.
James B. Davis
Do we have to disprove the whole "socialist" meme any more? I'm sick of it. But I'm more sick of idiots like this. Get over it, dude.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
I am not a Republican or a Democrat; for each election, I do the research and try to vote for the most qualified candidates. I do not remember any election like this one; not only have the mainstream media (and I mean all of them—print, broadcast and digital) all but ignored every presidential candidate other than John McCain and Barack Obama, but I am disgusted by the selective reporting and spin favoring Obama.
That is not freedom of the press as America's founding fathers envisioned it.
—D. Kuite, Winfield
I'm thinking it's exactly the freedom of the press the founding fathers envisioned. If you think that the press is biased, it's showing that you're thinking skeptically about the content you're being delivered. That's fine. Good for you. But if you think that their perceived bias is a violation of the constitution, nuh-uh.
The press has the freedom to be biased. In any way it likes. Should we call the government and ask them to make the media slant a little more in our favorite direction? Good luck with that. It's unconstitutional. That's how they do things in China.
Don't like it? Get your own press.
I watched as a corrupt administration subverted our constitution and broke our most important laws, and had the nerve to call anyone who objected un-American. There's irony for you.
I watched as another nation was invaded, a nation run by a big fat creep, mind you, but one that posed no threat to us or to our allies. I listened to the obvious lies and marvelled that so many bought them wholesale. I despaired as those of us who cared about our laws, our treaties, and simple morality were shouted down and made to feel, again, un-American.
I watched as the same people who sold us the war, and who had already shown over four painful years that they were utterly undeserving of the trust that we had placed in them, were given another four years to wreak further havoc. I was shamed because the first time was a fluke, but this time we only had ourselves to blame.
I lost all hope in the American electorate at that point. And I never thought we could recover from the damage done by these people. And it may take a long time to do so. But I finally have some hope. I finally believe that the people who will be in charge are honest and intelligent and driven by a desire to move us forward, not deeper into some reactionary Manichean fantasyland.
I followed the election last night with measured optimism. I would not allow myself to fall into the trap of assuming it was over until there was no doubt. And at the beginning of the night, there was plenty of doubt to go around. The first layer of fear fell away when they called Pennsylvania. But it persisted. Then they called Ohio. Oh my.
After Ohio, the numbers simply were not there for McCain. It would have been downright impossible for him to make up the electoral votes he needed. And yet, I would not allow myself. I needed to see it clearly, unambiguously and unequivocally. I knew that California and the Pacific Northwest were done deals, but I needed Wolf Blitzer to say it out loud and flash the graphic on the screen. I could not relax until then.
As the onscreen clock counted down the time until the polls closed in California, I clenched my hands together, waiting for it to somehow be yanked away, like the 1986 World Series. Somehow the ball was going to go through somebody's legs. Somehow this was going to be snatched away from us. But it wasn't.
When the Red Sox finally won the World Series in 2004, I did not jump up and down like a crazy person and run screaming through the streets. I felt a sense of relief, a peace and serenity that I didn't expect. I became rather quiet, shared a glass of champagne with friends, and silently wept.
When the graphic finally came on the screen last night declaring Barack Obama the 44th President of the United States of America, I felt a similar calm. I did not jump up and down like a crazy person and run screaming through the streets. I sat and stared at the screen, not excited but relieved and serene. I still could not quite believe it. And I silently wept.
I feel proud of my country again. Maybe for the first time, truly. The margin of victory (in the popular vote, anyway) was not large enough to make me feel totally confident that enough of us have turned the page. And the current occupants are diligently poisoning the well to make it even more difficult to even get back to where we were in 2000. But that commentary is for tomorrow. Now we are at the dawn of a new day. I feel like we are once again a place of sanity. And hope. And true patriotism, not mere jingoism.
Thank you, Barack Hussein Obama. Thank you, Joseph Biden. Thank you, Michelle Obama. Thank you, ACORN. Thank you, David Plouffe. Thank you, Howard Dean. Thank you, whoever you are that kept calling me and e-mailing me asking for money. Thank you, Rachel Maddow. Thank you, Keith Olbermann. Thank you, Tina Fey. Thank you, Ohio. Thank you, Florida. Thank you, (holy crap!) Virginia and Indiana.
Thank you, America. I love you.
Let's get to work.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
I cannot wait to get this damn thing over with so I can go back to being a somewhat normal human being again. I hate anxiety. I hate uncertainty. I want to wake up and know that everything is going to be all right. Or at least that it won't be all right, but I'll know what the not-all-rightness will look like.
It will be soon.
Friday, October 31, 2008
First, she insists, repeatedly, that the Constitution gives the Vice President lawmaking powers. And now she craps all over the sacred 1st Amendment.
Apparently, "freedom of speech" really means "freedom of speech for governors from cold states but not you". And "freedom of the press" really means "freedom of the press to keep their yaps shut when I say stupid shit and never ever call me on it". Here's what she said to conservative radio host Chris Plante of WMAL-AM.
"If [the media] convince enough voters that that is negative campaigning, for me to call Barack Obama out on his associations," Palin told host Plante, "then I don't know what the future of our country would be in terms of First Amendment rights and our ability to ask questions without fear of attacks by the mainstream media."
Excuse my French, but how fucking dumb is this asswipe? Oh no, I made slimy allegations about somebody and then the press said they were slimy. My rights are being violated!
Set aside for a second the logical problem with her argument (and I use that term loosely). Negative campaigning, by definition, is making statements about the other party meant to cast them in an unflattering light, as opposed to making positive statements about yourself. The media don't need to convince anyone of anything. It's negative campaigning. Period. What's at issue is its veracity. Anyway...
Palin has the 1st Amendment exactly backwards. She can say anything she damn well pleases. But then the press has the equally important right, nay, the responsibility, to call bullshit on her. This is basic stuff. Really basic stuff. I'm sure nobody reading this needs me to explain it to them. Which makes you all more qualified to be Vice President than this moron.
Mrs. Palin, here's the deal. Your rights are no more or less important than anyone else's. I know you don't want to believe that. If you want to have a nice little dictatorship where you can do whatever the crap you want but nobody can say or do anything to you, then please go back to your pals in the Alaskan Independence Party and make your own little stupid country. Please leave ours alone. The Bush/Cheney junta has done enough damage to it already.
Please, America, get this goddamn election over with so that this utter dipshit can go back to the cave she crawled out of and John McCain can begin apologizing for letting James Dobson and Bill Kristol foist her on us.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
So here's a picture I found in, of all places, ESPN's website. In a basketball preview, no less. [Insert your own basketball joke here.]
Apparently, this is an actress on AMC's well-regarded series "Mad Men", which I have never seen. Although I'm now one step closer to putting it in the ol' Netflix queue.
I was struck by the link above the picture that says "Enlarge".
My question, and I think it's an obvious one: Aren't they large enough already?
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Crikey! Obama's behind! How could such a thing happen?
Wait. Here's a map from Slate based on data taken from Pollster, which aggregates data from several polling sources.
Hmm, bit of a discrepancy there. Here are some numbers from some of Bill's "tossup" states.
- Pennsylvania: Obama 52%, McCain 41.3%
- Oregon: Obama 54%, McCain 39.4%
- Iowa: Obama 53%, McCain 41.3%
- Michigan: Obama 54%, McCain 38.1%
And here are some numbers from some of McCain's "safe" states in O'Reilly World.
- North Carolina: Obama 48.8%, McCain 46.9%
- North Dakota: Obama 44.9%, McCain 41.3%
[Wait for it.]
I love people who make videos like this. It means I don't have to. This is from Jed Lewison at Daily Kos. Play it for all of your McCain-supporting friends and family who like to call Obama a socialist.
And remember, people, we're not "experimenting" with anything. We're talking about a reversion to Clinton-era tax levels. I seem to recall the economy being just dandy during the 90s. If that was an experiment, it was one that worked. A lot of the money that's currently leaking out of your 401(k) was made back then.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
“So many precious little babies like that one!” she said after noticing one infant near the stage. “Just completely delicious!”Aaaaaauuuuuuuuggggghhhhhhh!
First terrorist fist jabs, then socialism, and now cannibalism?
The article continues:
Then Mrs. Obama leapt into the crowd, snatched two babies from their mothers, dashed their heads together and slurped out the contents. Crowd reaction was surprisingly mixed.I'm not letting my kids anywhere near this fiend.
Monday, October 27, 2008
He was already trailing slightly in the polls. (Read that link quickly. It's gonna change.) Re-election now seems a bit of a stretch for this lying bastard.
Watch how quickly Governor Moosekiller becomes someone who doesn't even know the guy, just like The Idiot forgot that he knew Ken Lay once he joined the Convicted Felon Club.
How this whole "Joe the Plumber" nonsense came to be the McPain campaign's big shillelagh is kind of mind-boggling to me. A guy asks Obama a question at a campaign stop, Obama engages the man thoughtfully, answering his questions and taking the guy's concerns seriously. At one point in the conversation, Obama mentions how "spread[ing] the wealth" (assuming there is any) is good for everyone. McPain picks this up and starts screaming about how Obama told poor old Joe (not really his name) the Plumber (not licensed, so not really his profession) that he's going to have his hard-earned money taken away from him to give to phony Hollywood socialists.
Obama's supposed gaffe was made based on the assumption that this guy actually would be making over $250K a year. (He wouldn't be.) And if he were, what the hell does he have to cry about?
Oh, and he doesn't have the money (or, um, the license) to buy the company anyway. And if he did, it would be the company's tax burden, not his. And he owes back taxes. (Not that that matters to the discussion. But it's fun to point out.) Based on what we know, it's pretty clear that this guy would actually benefit from Obama's tax plan. So, he's just the perfect tool to demonstrate how wrong Obama is. Of course.
Watch the whole video and it's unclear what the McPain campaign really thinks is so damning. (Assuming they do. Unless they're complete idiots, they know the truth.) It's utterly flimsy and yet they keep hammering on it as if this was the thing that was going to bring Obama down.
The whole thing makes no sense. And yet, we see campaign ads with people proclaiming that they are "Joe the Plumber" as if they were Spartacus or something and Obama really were going to destroy the middle class by spreading their wealth to some unnamed other (Wait! I know! It's black people, isn't it?), contrary to what the actual numbers say.
Oh, we're all Joe the Plumber now. In a way, it's true. We're all subject to being used fraudulently as a campaign tool to sell a bad product.
The joke's on you, people.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Guess how much the Republican National Committee has paid (so far) to clothe Sarah Palin?
$150,000. Plus almost $5,000 for hair and makeup through September alone.
"I like her. She's just like me!"
Because you just spent $75K at Neiman Marcus. We all do.
Monday, October 20, 2008
His words were a reminder of why we admired this man in the first place. He always seemed like he didn't quite belong in the group he was in. And we always hoped he'd dull their edges a bit. Until that speech at the U.N., when we all lost any respect we had for him.
By now decent and honest Republicans everywhere (yes, they exist) are scrambling for their place in the lifeboats of the S.S. Straight Talk. And Powell is undoubtedly an A-lister.
If you haven't watched this yet, you should. And if you know anyone who's planning to vote for McPain, make them watch it. In under 7 minutes Powell gives the most dispassionate, reasoned case for Obama (and against McCain) that we're likely to see.
Me, I would have said that McCain and Palin are lying, hate-mongering troglodytes. But that's not going to change anyone's mind. This is the nice way to say it. I particularly admire the way he pointed out that (surprise, America!) we are not a nation of bigots. Religious tests for office are not only forbidden by law, they're against our supposed national ethos.
Thank you, General Powell. And welcome back.
Well, the Sox came up a bit short last night. They had their chances, most notably in the 8th inning, when Joe Maddon used 5 pitchers to get 3 outs and the Sox left 3 men on base with 0 runs scored. The 9th seemed like an afterthought with the bottom of the Sox lineup batting.
Oh well. I don't feel as bad about it as I might. Maybe because we've already had some fun in the past few years and the Sox have a bunch of nice young players (and a whole lot of money) that will keep them competitive for the foreseeable future.
It's distressing how many runners they leave on base (they had the "advantage" in that department of shame 8-3 last night and left 12 on the night before, although they managed to win that one in spite of it) but the bottom line is that they just got beat by the better team. And it was kinda fun. Except for Games 3 and 4, and the first 6 1/2 innings of Game 5, which were torturous.
I almost would have felt bad for the Rays and their (newfound) fans if they blew this series after the absurd lead they chunked in Game 5. I'm not into schadenfreude. Even for Yankees fans, believe it or not. (Well, maybe a little for Yankees fans.) So the Sox' losing spared me some guilt. But I would have found a way to live with it.
The Rays, as much as I've hated to let the thought creep into my natural-order-loving brain all year, are a really good team and they earned it. Hats off to Maddon and to Matt Garza for pitching a phenomenal game.
Not sure if I'll be taking sides in the World Series. Lots of people want to see the team that beat their team lose to feel some kind of revenge. I've always been more of the opinion that you want that team to go all the way. That way you can say "Well, our guys lost to the champs. It may as well have been the finals."
Unless it's the Yankees, of course.
Friday, October 17, 2008
Saying that the Sox snatched victory from the jaws of defeat last night does not do the game justice. They were just 7 outs away from elimination and losing 7-0. They had been outscored 29-5 at home in over 2-24/27 games. They had nothing going for them. Nothing. A rerun of the utter shame of the previous two games. At this point they were just trying to avoid being shut out at home in the playoffs for the first time in 90 years and get ready to tip their hats to the Rays, who, credit where it's due, have been outstanding.
Then Dustin Pedroia knocked in a run with a single. Yippee. One fewer point of shame in this game. But, then...
Big Papi, 1 for 16 in the series and more accurately referred to as Big Poopi, went kablammo to make it 7-4. Huh? Do not do this to us, Sox. Do not. Do not get our hopes up.
Next inning, J.D. Drew knocks a two-run shot over the right-field fence to make it 7-6. At this point, we somehow knew that this was going to happen, even though they were still down and now only 4 outs from elimination.
Coco Crisp had one of the best at-bats I've ever seen (10 pitches!) to stay alive and knock in the tying run with a base hit.
They got into the bottom of the ninth still tied, thanks to a timely double play in the top half with two runners on. And J.D Drew came through again with a line drive single to cap off the most holy-motherlovin-crap-I-can't-believe-what-I-just-saw game we're ever likely to see.
This would have been amazing if it were just a regular game. The fact that this was an elimination game and the Rays had the champagne ready and the lockers covered with plastic just sent it into the stratosphere.
I'm sure that Rays fans are now feeling like we did in 1986. But hey, they're still up 3-2 and they get to go home (not that home is all that nice, but still, home) and face Josh Beckett, who in the playoffs so far has been about as steady as an epileptic with PTSD and a few bong hits in him.
The Sox still have an enormous uphill battle. But even if they can't get there, this was freaking awesome.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
I heard Johnny Mac breathing at least four times during Obama's turns last night. And we got yet another John McCain for this debate. It wasn't really a different guy. It was just a different flavor. Gore had gone from pedantic to forceful to just plain lame (although he really won each debate quite handily, regardless of the wanna-have-a-beer-with-him crowd's bewildering preference for the other guy). McCain was a cranky old man who wouldn't look at his opponent in the first debate, a cranky old condescending man who wandered a lot in the second debate, and a cranky old sarcastic man who alternated between screaming and laughing inappropriately in the third debate. And he interrupted Obama a lot. Not good.
Obama was even more Obama-y then ever and McCain was even McCainier, like himself in the previous debates but on steroids. Or goofballs. He tried really hard to seem funny and sharp. But he just looked like your embarrasing uncle, who also tries really hard to be funny and sharp but only has you and your family to embarrass, not the whole freaking country. Of course, the polls had been trending towards the cool guy for some time now, so McCain doesn't stand to gain much by being more of what we're already deciding we don't like very much. But he doesn't have any other arrows in the quiver. So there it is.
For the first half hour I was bored and thought McCain was actually winning. Obama was trying not to lose, like a football team up by 20 points in the 4th quarter running out the clock. Which is fine. That's all he had to do here. But after McCain wasn't able to rattle Obama, and Obama showed yet again that he knew exactly what he was talking about on, oh, every issue, McCain's head started to smoke and he grew increasingly disjointed and embarrassing-uncle-like.
He actually was making a bit of sense for a while. And then he just started babbling incoherently, moving from one topic to another, getting angrier and more dismissive all the while. By the end, he was equating Down Syndrome with autism. And criticizing someone's health care proposal with calling someone a terrorist. This debate was the McCain campaign in a nutshell. No direction, no consistent message, throwing everything at the wall hoping desperately that something will stick, progressively more insane as it circles the bowl.
Obama did himself proud in his responses about abortion, taxes and (why must we talk about this? why?) Bill Ayers and ACORN. McCain looked like he crapped his pants after he taunted Obama for not saying what penalty would be levied for not providing employee insurance and Obama told the strangely ubiquitous Joe the Plumber that his penalty would be "$0".
McCain had at least two horrible moments. First, he pooh-poohed women's health, suggesting that women exaggerate their own health risks because they just looooves getting them some abortions. Ow, my neck! I need an abortion! Great way to get the gals on your side, Johnny.
(Oh, and while we're on the subject, I am so fucking sick of the "liberal" position always being called "extreme" and the conservative position always being called "mainstream", regardless of where public opinion really lies. What was that last word? Oh, yes. LIES.)
His other bad moment was more subtle. It was after Obama discussed the Lily Ledbetter case. McCain brushed it off with muttered comments about the statute of limitations and the case being a "trial lawyer's dream". He, of course, never bothered defending the actual merits of the case, which was a disgrace. He clearly did not want to talk about it and quickly moved on to the next topic. Another bad bad thing to say in front of the ladies. Or anyone with a sense of fairness.
The post-debate snap polls all went Obama's way. Again. And McCain's positive/negatives went even further in the wrong direction.
This is not over yet. A lot can happen in three weeks. But something really disastrous would have to occur for Obama to lose this.
McCain can most productively spend his time drafting a nice apologetic concession speech.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
The Sox are taking a serious pounding. This is ugly. No, it's beyond ugly. This is fugly.
How the heck does this happen? A few days ago they took the first game on the road in that horrible dome in St. Petersburg. Then they came within a whisker of taking the second and going up 2-0. Even coming home at 1-1 looked really good, particularly with Jon Lester on the mound for Game 3.
Then they actually played the games at Fenway. Oy.
Will somebody please tell me where the real Boston Red Sox are and who replaced them over the weekend with these mushy vegetarian meatballs? Who are these people? They can't pitch, they can't hit, they can't manage. They're utterly lifeless. How is this the same team that just last week beat up on the best team in the American League (against whom they went 1-8 in the regular season, I might add)?
I know, they came back from down 3-1 last year in the ALCS and, of course, there was The Miracle of 2004. All hope is not lost. But the hope cupboard is not exactly overflowing right now. We're going to have to dump out the last box to find even a few crumbs of it.
Monday, October 13, 2008
Remember this quote from John McCain from not too long ago?
"[I]f a lie is big enough and repeated often enough it will be believed."Here's what McCain campaign manager Rick Davis told Faux News' Chris Wallace regarding the Troopergate report released on Friday. (Quotes and stuff cribbed from Glenn Greenwald. Thanks, Glenn!)
"The reality is there was absolutely no wrongdoing found in the report — 1,000 pages — an enormous waste of time — and the best they could come up with was: no violations of any kinds of laws or ethics rules."And here's what Sarah Palin herself told the Alaskan press corps.
"Well, I’m very very pleased to be cleared of any legal wrongdoing … any hint of any kind of unethical activity there. Very pleased to be cleared of any of that."Wow, they really dodged that bullet. So much for the partisan witch hunt. Oh wait. Here's what the report said in its very first finding.
"For the reasons explained in Section IV of this report, I find that Governor Sarah Palin abused her power by violating Alaska Statute 39.52.110(a) of the Alaska Executive Branch Ethics Act."Um, yeah. Cleared of all wrongdoing. Because abusing power and violating laws are not really wrongdoing. At least not for Republicans. We are at war with Eastasia. We have always been at war with Eastasia.
What's that sound? It's McPain poll numbers dropping even further.
Sunday, October 12, 2008
"Marriage is about children." Well, no. Many marriages are childless. I have friends my age who are married and don't want children. Should they not have been allowed to get married? My dad re-married in his late 50s and clearly had no intention of having more children. Should he not have been allowed to marry? Some people are barren. Should they not be allowed to get married? It's a specious and nonsensical argument on its face. It doesn't take a genius to refute it. But they still trot it out. It's the only semi-logical thing they can hang it on.
Take these people. They claim that their arguments against gay marriage aren't biblical but biological. What the hell difference does that make? It's still discriminatory. The fact still remains that many married people will never have children and they shouldn't have to in order to enter into a legal contract. Should people have to pledge to have children before they are allowed a marriage license? Should they have to take a fertility test? Should divorce be illegal because the whole point is to have one male and one female parent in the house at all times? Should Lyle the Effeminate Heterosexual not be allowed to procreate?
Listen, whatever your church and you want to do is up to your church and you. But the state does not take a position on religious matters. The state does not take a position on "biological" matters, if that's what you want to call it. The state has pieces of paper that people can sign and enter into a legally binding contract. The state does not care if you love your spouse. The state does not care if you have children. The state does not care if you feed each other Cocoa Puffs while having sex in your laundry room. The state simply does not care. You sign the piece of paper and then when the other person dies you get their money. That is all the state cares about. It's a legal contract and the state may not discriminate in who gets to make a contract with whom.
Have fun discriminating in your church. It's perfectly legal. But it's perfectly illegal for the state to do it. 3 down, 47 to go.