Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Bells On Presents: Reviews of Movies You've Already Seen

Daniel Day Lewis is the little-known "Mountie" character from The Village People.

I was astounded to learn that Paul Thomas Anderson's movie There Will Be Blood did NOT go over its $25 million budget during production. Isn't that amazing? I mean, they must have had to replace the chewed-up scenery after every take with Daniel Day Lewis, right?

Also, if you can sit through the ending without uttering some version of "You have GOT to be fucking kidding me!" then you must be a big fan of the "why the fuck not?" school of filmmaking.

If I had written the promotional copy for this film, it would have said: "No one will remain seated during the thrilling '20 minutes of two guys surveying a piece of land' scene!"

Now, for the tally of P.T. Anderson films:

Hard Eight: Meh. Nice little movie I know I saw, but can't remember much about other than Paltrow really annoyed me.

Boogie Nights: Fucking scary brilliant movie. Seen it 30 times, could see it 30 more.

Magnolia: A lot of my friends hate this movie, but I love it. Also from the "why the fuck not?" school of filmmaking, but somehow for me it works. (Maybe, if Anderson had hired William Macy to play the lead in TWBB, all would've been forgiven.) Also, the Aimee Mann soundtrack is haunting and beautiful. Also, Tom Cruise is actually really good in it, which is a singular achievement in my book.

Punch-Drunk Love: A romantic comedy that is neither romantic nor funny, and Adam Sandler in the lead is one of the worst pieces of stunt casting since Steve Martin in Pennies from Heaven: I appreciate the notion, but you got to be able to act, too, dude.

There Will Be Blood: Should've been called There Will Be Academy Award Nominations.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Forgetting Lilly Ledbetter

(Image brought to you by the magic of MS Paint.)

Last year, the Supreme Court, rounded out in recent years by the evil minions of 43, made a really bad decision. A decision whose logic was almost as twisted as the Bush v. Gore uber-fiasco of 2000.

Bush v. Gore boiled down to “counting votes is no way to determine who won an election.”

The decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company held that the statute of limitations clock (180 days) regarding employment discrimination starts running at the first instance of discrimination, even if that discrimination is not known to the employee at the time that it occurred.

If that doesn’t sound retarded enough to you yet, then you haven’t heard the specifics.

Ledbetter, who was a manager at a Goodyear store, was paid 15 - 40% less than her male colleagues during the twenty years she worked there. The trouble is, because salary information was confidential, she didn’t know it. She was unaware of the discrimination until she received an anonymous note informing her of the discrepancy.

Although she took action in the appropriate amount of time from the event that caused her to become aware of the discrimination, the court ruled that, as I said, the clock started ticking on her claim of pay discrimination on the date of the first paycheck in which she was paid less.

So Ledbetter had 180 days from the event that she didn’t know had taken place to make her claim.

Nevertheless, the Supreme Court said in their decision that, by the way, reversed the award given by a lower court, that Ledbetter “could have, and should have, sued” when the decision to discriminate against her was first made.

She could have? How could she have? That remark is rather obviously, um, just steeped in wrongness and idiocy, even for the black robe crowd.

Also obvious to me is that the discrimination was ongoing, and since the opportunity to stop the discrimination was available every time a paycheck was issued, each paycheck represented a separate act of discrimination.

Enter Edward Kennedy, who decided that if the Supreme Court is just going to be blatantly assholeish about the whole thing, then he’s going to introduce legislation that would clarify that pay discrimination is an ongoing event.

Do I have to even tell you that the in killing the bill, the Senate voted along party lines?

Do I have to even tell you that our genius president threatened to veto the bill anyway?

Also, I am proud to report that both Clinton and Obama returned to the Senate to support the bill.

Who didn’t return? And who released a statement saying he doesn’t support the bill?

John “Maverick!” McCain, and here’s his statement:

"I am all in favor of pay equity for women, but this kind of legislation, as is typical of what's being proposed by my friends on the other side of the aisle, opens us up to lawsuits for all kinds of problems…This is government playing a much, much greater role in the business of a private enterprise system."

You hear that? He’s all in favor of women getting equal pay for equal work. Gee, Mr. Maverick, that’s awful white of you, considering that it’s…you know…the law.

What he’s not in favor of, apparently, is women being able to sue to ensure that the law is enforced.

First of all: us. Opens “us” up to lawsuits. Geez, the last time I looked, my name was not Vikkitikkitavi Goodyear motherfuckin Tire & Rubber. What do you mean us, Kemosabe?

Secondly, well, damn, but when you break the goddamn law, it’s SUPPOSED to open you up to lawsuits, at the very least, am I right? Can we not even fucking agree on THAT anymore? I mean, just how far do you have to have your head up the ass of corporate interests that you can stand up as a national presidential candidate and say “c’mon folks, obeying the law really interferes with their ability to make money.”

Not only that, but, I’m sorry ya crusty old dude, but that whole “government playing a much, much greater role in the business of a private enterprise system”…say the fuck what?

What’s the greater role? There’s no greater role. The great role, my friend (And are we sick yet, by the way, of McCain’s sarcastic “my friends” sniping? I know I am.) was played in 1963 and 1964, when the Equal Pay Act and the Civil Rights Act dragged us collectively, kicking and screaming, into the era of civiligoddamnzation. That was the great motherfucking role, you disingenuous piece of shit. And I’m sure if you’d have been president at the time, we’d still be fighting to pass that legislation.

In short, (is it too late for short?) McCain is NOT for pay equity for women, because if he were, he wouldn’t be telling Lilly Ledbetter to fuck off, would he? He wouldn’t be on his knees planting a big smooch on the soft, fat, white asses of corporate America, would he?

Perhaps John “Maverick” McCain should change his name to John “Still the same good old boy I was when I was better known as one of the Keating Five” McCain, after all.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

This is not really a bad post about Hillary

You would think that the story out of yesterday’s primary is that so many Democrats still feel so strongly about Hillary. You’d think journalists would look at the results of the Pennsylvania primary and say to themselves “Why does Clinton inspire such loyalty? I’ve got to get to the bottom of this!”

But alas, you would not only be wrong, you’d be a creature from some alien world, maybe New Zealand, where journalists do things like try to find out facts, instead of whine about how things aren’t turning out the way they liked, or the way they predicted they would.

By the way, is it just me, or has this Democratic primary started to feel like a game of Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots?

Remember how fucking boring that game was? I mean, what’s the fun of knocking someone’s block off, if the voters in Pennsylvania can press it right back on again?

Look, as much as I would like this contest to be over, so the winner can start concentrating on convincing the American public of McCain’s gigantic asshattery, it’s not over. And Clinton’s got a right to run whatever kind of campaign she thinks will get her the win, and that’s exactly what she’s doing. And clearly, there are large numbers of Pennsylvania blue-collar voters who don’t hate the game, they hate the playah. They don’t want to see any rules rewritten, they just want to fucking win, because they’ve been losing for a long-ass time. In other words, they are way past feeling such a thing as hope, and even if they weren’t, hope is sure as hell not going to come in the form of a black man with a strange name whose minister wears a dashiki.

One might argue, by the way, that those voters, while Democrats on paper, are very likely to vote for McCain in the fall anyway, even if Clinton does win the primary. Because a large majority of them are political meat-heads who vote Guns & God and cannot draw an inference from the $177 million per day that we are spending in Iraq, and the infrastructure of our country crumbling all around them.

Or, in other words, the Republican base.

One trend I can definitely do without, however, is the endless spin on whether women who favor Obama over Clinton are post-feminist, anti-feminist, or simply voting against her because she reminds them of their mother. And click on that link if you don’t fucking believe me that that theory has been floated, and you know – goddammit but I wish I’d thought of that theory! Because I could definitely squeeze a lucrative book deal out of a premise as stupid and as insulting to women as that one is.

But I going to act as unlike an American journalist as I can for a moment, and speak only for myself: I think either candidate would make a fine president. And a word to a few of you gals who have been hectoring me about preferring Obama: if being a feminist requires me to vote for a woman, then we’d all be looking back in horror at the Elizabeth Dole presidency right about now.

I prefer Obama over Clinton because I think Clinton too often votes on the side of political expediency. It’s a simple as that. Clinton claims that she was tricked into voting for the Iraq war, but I’m not buying it. I remember that there were lots of people questioning the intel on WMD, and lots of people questioning the wisdom of giving that all-hat-no-cattle douchebag the power to wage war without further consent of the Congress. Look, if I was smart enough to know not to vote for that war, then Clinton was too, and yet she did it. What constituted the difference between her and me on that issue?

The difference is, I don’t have to run for reelection. I’m just an asshole with a blog.

And being a mere mortal, I enjoy infinite freedom to not only use my brain to analyze the information I am given, but to use my heart too, to guide me. My heart told me that Bush was a no-good fucking liar with an avarice-covered lump of coal where his soul should be, no matter what all those fucking charts and aerial photos and vials of powder oh-so-earnestly held aloft by formerly well-intentioned Secretaries of State said.

And I believe, in this heart of mine, that Hillary knew it was all bullshit as well. But she voted otherwise.

She did it, I think, because the political wisdom at the time said that to vote against the war would've been career suicide. Political wisdom was plumb wrong, as it turned out. She should’ve listened to her heart, perhaps, if I can be so corny as to suggest that such things are even possible anymore.

I do think she has a heart. I know she can cry tears for herself and for all the genuinely unfair things people have said about her. Whether she can still put that heart to use for our collective good, is still out for the vote.

But I hope she proves me wrong. I really do. You don’t know how much.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Born to run?

While Bruce Springsteen’s endorsement of Barack Obama was at first considered to be a campaign coup for the embattled Democratic candidate, subsequent scrutiny of the Oscar-winning singer/songwriter have revealed a number of troublesome opinions and positions, not the least of which is his characterization of the working-class people of New Jersey as “tramps” with “no place left to hide” who cling to their “hemi-powered drones” and “suicide machines.”

He has also insulted lower- and higher-income Americans alike with his assertions that “poor man wanna be rich, rich man wanna be king” and that America’s factory workers are dangerously bitter and unbalanced, stating that they “walk through these gates with death in their eyes.”

He has even gone so far as to criticize the troops, stating that while our Vietnam War enemies, the Vietcong, are “still there,” our veterans of that war are “all gone.”

Even the institution of Christianity is not safe from attack, as is clear from Springsteen’s charge that “God’s drifting in heaven,” and that the “Devil’s in the mailbox.” Clearly he means to intimate that the Christian God is a flip-flopper, while Satan is as accessible as the latest offer from Publisher’s Clearinghouse. Many Christians have also objected to the endorsement of premarital sex and birth control implicit in his statement that “Bobby said he’d pull out, Bobby stayed in,” and also that the resulting child, born out of wedlock, “wasn’t any sin.”

Indeed, not unlike the candidate he is endorsing, many have speculated that Springsteen may have at one time been a practicing Muslim, perhaps even a member of Al-Qaida, as witnessed by references to a “dry and troubled country” beneath “Allah’s blessed rain,” which administration intelligence sources have, under condition of anonymity, conjectured may lie in the mountainous Tora-Bora region of Afghanistan. While collusion with anti-American militants may seem unlikely for a man of Springsteen’s fame and stature, Clinton campaign staffers have sent out emails reminding voters that Springsteen is the same man who once asked an accomplice to “pick up a little dynamite,” while he would “pick up a little gun.” While it’s not clear what his plan to “make that highway run” would have accomplished, his choice of co-conspirator, an otherwise unknown young woman named Rosalita, makes clear that his feelings regarding illegal immigration are not in keeping with the majority of the American public’s.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

These colors don't run

Oh, look, a quiz for all you media types out there. Read the quote, and then answer the following questions.
“I think religion has always tried to turn hatred towards gay people. Religion promotes the hatred and spite against gays...From my point of view, I would ban religion completely. Organized religion doesn't seem to work. It turns people into really hateful lemmings and it's not really compassionate.”

1. Who said it?

2. Which Democratic presidential candidate does he/she support?

Give up?

Well, Elton John said it, that fucking dangerous gay-ass hatemonger. And you know, some idiots would say that all gay people have a more than adequate reason to be suspicious of religion, but I say fuck that! How dare that intolerant asshole have the intolerance to call religion intolerant! He hates religion, is what, and I'm pretty sure it's not just because religion hated him first.

And secondly, didn't that seditious limey just host a big fundraiser for Hillary Clinton? Hm? Sooo...where are all the questions for Hillary questioning her ties to this terrorist fop? Huh? What about it, Misters Stephanopoulos and Gibson? Were you sleeping on the job last night, or what? I can't believe you can live with yourselves, asking...I think there must have been at least one policy question last night, right? Anyway, I can't believe you dared to ask about policy when there were questions to be raised about a candidate and her gay devil-worshiping campaign slave!

Well, let's hop to it, boys! No dozing allowed, when there are journalistic standards to be lowered! David Brooks, who gave you an "A" for your performance last night BTW, said in the New York Times that "the journalist’s job is to make politicians uncomfortable," which...okay... is a little weird to me, I must admit, because I kind of thought that the journalist's job was to report news, but hey! Far be it for me to lecture to a NEW YORK TIMES COLUMNIST about journalism!

Especially one who states that Michael Dukakis's veto of a measure requiring that the Pledge of Allegiance be recited by Massachusetts schoolchildren was quite rightly a key issue of the 1988 presidential campaign, or, as he puts it, "We may not like it, but issues like Jeremiah Wright, flag lapels and the Tuzla airport will be important in the fall. Remember how George H.W. Bush toured flag factories to expose Michael Dukakis. It’s legitimate to see how the candidates will respond to these sorts of symbolic issues."

Oh, he's so right! That's why he's a NEW YORK TIMES COLUMNIST, because he understands important issues like flags, and flag pins, and pledges to flags.

And as for the importance of making politicians uncomfortable, it is my sincere hope that Stephanopoulos, Gibson, and dear Mr. Brooks aren't all one day replaced by a urinary tract infection.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Bitters and tonic

Yes, I’ll admit that I was one of those that heard how horrible Obama’s recent comments were about some small-town Pennsylvania residents before I heard the actual comments. And then when I did hear them, I kept waiting for the horrible part.

For the record, here it is:

“But the truth is, is that, our challenge is to get people persuaded that we can make progress when there's not evidence of that in their daily lives. You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. So it's not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”

Now you point out to me the part of that that isn’t absofuckinglutely true.

Or call me elitist, I guess. But you’ll have to call me an elitist from a town exactly like the one that Obama is on about. And as for my knowledge of Pennsylvania, well, I can tell you that the guy putting his French fries under his sandwich bun is from Pittsburgh, and the gal buying Cheez Whiz is from Philly. I spent 6 years in Pennsylvania, and I’ve toured Erie, Scranton, Altoona, Lancaster, York, Reading, Wilkes-Barre, Johnstown, Harrisburg, and every tiny shithole in between. I’ve been broke down in the middle of the night on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, and subsequently spent two days cooling my heels in the flea-speck coal-mining town of Charleroi. I’ve been swimming in the Monongahela in my underwear, and I’ve stumbled out of club in Philly at 2 a.m. in a bad neighborhood and in bad company. And let me tell you, I sure did laugh out loud when I saw the young men in The Deer Hunter drinking Rolling Rock, because everyone knows, Mr. Cimino, that they should’ve been drinking Iron City.

Sorry about the PA-credential waving, but I’m getting a little tired of being accused of being a snob just because I think it’s better to face the truth about the futility of some people’s lives than to blow smoke up their ass about how all they need is Jesus, the flag, and a gun to call their own. Yes, those people are fucking bitter, and goddamn it, they have every fucking right to be. They got screwed. And no one has done a damn thing about it except promise them it will get better, but it never does.

The funny thing is, that if it were not for Reagan, who is still beloved by so many of the cluelessly bitter, things might have gone very differently for many of them. It was Reagan, more than any of the others, who unleashed the dogs of deregulation upon them, and yet most of them still regard him as someone who looked out for them in a fatherly kind of way, not as someone who pulled the rug out from under them and set them adrift in various bleak corners of America, where they have, over the years, become gradually more and more grateful for a job at the local Wal-Mart. Yeah, the Wal-Mart, where they can buy the very foreign-made products that are the reason their lives are in the crapper in the first place! Yeah! Fuckin’ irony! Woo hoo!

So what exactly does one say to people who still idolize those who screwed them? Do you say “Good for you, you god-fearing people! You are the salt of the earth!” Or, do you dare to be called elitist, and say something more along the lines of WAKE THE FUCK UP!!!!!

Not that it’s likely to do much good. I mean, this, this whole deal is some tough shit for humans. You see it all the time, you know, where someone is hurt in some way by a loved one, whether it’s a parent, or a spouse, or a lover, and when they’re abused, wounded, hurting, where do they go for comfort? Isn’t it frequently to that same loved one? It makes no sense, and yet, it is kind of who we are. It is the essence of being human, in a way, to look to those who have hurt us to make the hurting stop. Because who else can wound us as deeply as those who love us the most?

C’mon, y’all know what I’m talking about. Having learned where to go for love, it is a damn difficult thing to unlearn, no matter the urgency. And I’ll wager that there are a good many of us that have been struggling with some version of this dilemma our whole lives. And we’d be lucky, damn smart and lucky, if we ever figured it out. If we ever.

And there is some little nugget of that propensity at work in our social and political lives, isn’t there? Oh, one could argue, I suppose, that it was a politically unwise thing to do, for Obama to speak such truths. After all, the Democrats supposedly can’t win if we don’t pander to those who think that immigrants, gays and feminists are the cause of all their problems. But if Obama’s not the guy who speaks, as they say, the inconvenient truths, then who the fuck is he? Not the guy he started out to be.

So as far as I’m concerned, the antidote to too much truth is more fucking truth. And you know what? I’ll bet there are lots of voters out there who feel the same way. I’m starting to wonder if Obama isn’t the electoral embodiment of that old “what doesn’t kill me makes me stronger” chestnut. It’s certainly confounding to the Republicans that he is responding to these pseudo-scandals by refusing to tuck tail and hide, and hey, me likey whatever confounds the Republicans.

And lastly, I have to say that the my-every-campaign-move-is-one-big-sloppy-valentine-
to-the-Republicans award this week goes to Hillary. In trying to make hay out of Obama’s statements, Hillary referred to him as someone who, for example, “goes to a closed-door fundraiser in San Francisco, and makes comments that do seem elitist, out-of-touch, and frankly, patronizing.”

San Francisco.

Get it?

San Francisco.

Hillary very carefully makes sure we all know where he was. In San Francisco, that tried-and-true Republican code name for immoral latte-swilling immigrant sodomizing atheist liberals.

Except it’s Hillary saying it. It’s Hillary invoking the stereotype we usually have to go to a Sean Hannity or a Rush Limbaugh to enjoy. Hillary, calling forth the San Francisco bogeyman against another member of her own party.

I’m sorry, but of all the dirty names I could stomach her calling Obama, the one I least expected was “Democrat.”

Monday, April 14, 2008

'Cause if I ever get outta here, I'm going to Kathmandu


  • a democratic republic
  • a former monarchy
  • home to 8 of 10 of the highest mountains in the world
  • the world’s 83rd largest economy
  • primarily Hindu
  • an exporter of jute, leather, and carpets


  • Tibet

No, it’s not, no matter how many times (4, btw) our NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR (you know, the dude who assesses risks to the United States from foreign countries) mistakes one for the other.

Look Steve, sweetie, the Chinese are taking heat for Tibet. Tibet. You know, as in “Free Tibet.” You might have seen it on a bumper sticker or two. Tibet, as in Richard Gere and the Dalai Lama, and Buddhist monks, etc. Tibet! Everyone’s been talking about it for years.

I sure hope, if McCain gets elected, that he doesn’t retain Steve Hadley as his NSA director. Because between McCain, who can’t tell Shiite from Shinola, and this dude, I think…well, let’s just say that they definitely want to stay away from “World Geography” as their go-to Jeopardy! category.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Bad girlfriend

How could I have let this whole day go by without telling y'all that it's my Spooney's birthday today?

Uh-oh. Looks like my man's been celebrating a bit too hard, and he's done got hisself in trouble with the law. Gotta go sweet-talk a flatfoot, readers. Have a good weekend.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Come back, flesh-eating zombies, all is forgiven!

Boy, if there’s one thing that watching all those clips of the recently departed Charlton Heston’s movies has brought into stark relief, it’s what a bad actor he was. Witness:

Wowzie. You have to admit that the man was in a league of badness all his own. Even the Shatner has a kind of overblown brilliance about him, but Heston, man, it’s just brutal. Bad brutal. Like your high school drama club in Technicolor ECU.

But before y’all go assuming that I’m just hating on the late great Chuck Heston for the whole NRA thing, let me set you straight. I don’t disrespect him for letting the NRA make a doddering, rifle-waving fool out of him, I disrespect him for very nearly ruining one of my favorite movies of all time, Touch of Evil. In it, Mr. Heston, under a thick layer of Max Factor - Swarthy #23, plays a Mexican lawyer named Ramon Vargas.

In terms of credibility, I’d rank his performance right up there with Sean Connery as a Russian submarine commander.

And speaking of bad Heston films, I just watched the recent remake of Omega Man, this time called I Am Legend, and starring Will Smith. Like the first version, the only really interesting part of the movie is pre-zombie. Once the zombie shit starts blowing up, all the carefully constructed premises of the first half of the film are quickly abandoned in order to make shit blow up louder, faster, and bigger.

One thing that really bugged me about the movie, I have to say, is the boring chick that shows up for the second half. It’s completely unbelievable that such an excruciatingly tepid gal could’ve survived in zombie land for one day, let alone 3 years. They should’ve gotten a chick like Sigourney Weaver in Alien to play the part, you know, all tall and sweaty and kick-ass, and instead they got one like Audrey Tautou in Amelie - this chick’s idea of wounding you is to give you a really hurt look with her big brown eyes. And of course the plot demands that the hero (WARNING! SPOILER AHEAD! DO NOT READ FURTHER IF YOU ARE PLANNING TO SEE I AM LEGEND, AND FEEL THAT YOU ARE INTELLECTUALLY INCAPABLE OF GUESSING THE ENTIRE PLOT FIVE MINUTES INTO THE FILM LIKE EVERYONE ELSE DID!) die via self-inflicted hand grenade during a massive zombie attack, so that the snooze-inducing chick can go on to save humanity with the antidote to the zombie virus. Which is fine. I mean, lame, but fine, except that she also thinks that she is on a mission from God. I mean, literally, on a mission from God. She can’t shut up about it, in fact. And so then when this walking advertisement for Nytol makes it to the zombie-free camp safe in the wilds of Vermont (I know, could it be any whiter?), and hands off the antidote to the authorities, the camera cranes up (settle down, it’s CGI), and we see this huge white steepled church in the center of the compound, and, oh, just…arrrrrrgggh.

Seriously bummed out. Seriously.

Because, well, you know, humanity’s got a chance to start all over, with a clean slate, and no assumptions, and goddammit, they’re all going to be CHRISTIANS again?


You know, that would be just my luck, that I would survive the zombie-making plague, and then the flesh-eating zombies, only to find out I have to live in new world that’s even more Christian-y than the previous one.

Ooh, what a brave new world to look forward to, filled with people like Warren Jeffs, whose mission from God is to provide a place where old men can fuck and impregnate young girls with impunity.

And no doubt Illinois legislator Monique Davis will be there too, marching on in the name of the Lord on her mission to make sure that atheists everywhere are silenced and banned from public speaking, so that the innocent children of the earth shall never know that there are those for whom “reason” is not a dirty word.

And let’s not forget the Bush Administration, and their collective mission to establish their own version of Christianity where a secular government once stood. In this new world, no doubt they would succeed in funding a database on world health that denies that the word “abortion” even exists.

I sure hope that Mr. Legend saves one of those grenades for me.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

What's so bad about cherry-picking intelligence? I love cherries. Everyone does. Cherries are DELICIOUS.

I'm working on a longer post, but in the meantime please to enjoy this NPR Morning Edition interview with Iraq war architect Douglas "I heart Ahmed Chalabi" Feith. In it, he postulates that if forces within the State Dept. and the CIA had not attempted to exclude Chalabi, a known fabricator of false intelligence on Iraqi WMD, from discussions on Iraq war planning, then we would not be stuck still occupying Iraq.

Hilarious. I mean, in a "pathetic attempt at revisionist history from a discredited neocon hack who's doomed to live out the remainder of his life in ignominy and bitter recrimination" kind of way.

Friday, April 04, 2008


Forty years ago this evening, Bobby Kennedy, who was on the campaign trail, addressed a mostly black crowd in a poorer neighborhood in Indianapolis, Indiana. He did this in spite of the fact that his police detail, fearing violence, had refused to follow him there. Refused.

He told the crowd that Martin Luther King, Jr. had just been assassinated, and he improvised a remarkable 6 minute eulogy before entreating the crowd to return to their homes and pray.

Whether it was due to Kennedy’s influence that Indianapolis was spared the violence that rocked other large cities in the aftermath of the assassination is debatable, of course.

What’s plain, is that just like MLK, Kennedy was a man of extraordinary empathy and intelligence. In his attempt to console the anger and wild grief of his audience, he quotes his favorite poet – Aeschylus! He quotes Aeschylus - some ancient Greek dude in a chiton and sandals who wrote about the Trojan War and died 500 years before the birth of Christ - to an angry black urban crowd! Tell me, was there ever a politician who so persistently refused to speak down to people, who refused to play to the lowest common denominator?

Here’s what he quoted off the top of his head, a rather rough translation of a bit of a speech from the play Agamemnon:

In our sleep, pain which cannot forget
falls drop by drop upon the heart
until, in our own despair, against our will,
comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.

Fast forward to 2008, when, during his moronic and ridiculously macho-monikered show Hardball, Chris Matthews asks his guest if Obama can appeal to regular people, or just blacks and college graduates?

Well, since Mr. Matthews has just called me out for being non-regular, I would like to know when the media’s worship of stupid white people is going to end once and for all. Surely the fall of George W., the ultimate stupid white dude, is a signal that it is time to take our collective fingers off the pulse off the NASCAR set and put them back on those who actually fucking think about things.

Alas, I fear that the blind, the halt, and the lame as the go-to arbiters of national priorities will continue until it is proven that a smartypants in the White House can actually be a good thing. Al Gore couldn’t inspire the media to give him a lick of credit in 2000, and then we all had to sit around as every single prediction he made about the disasterous war in Iraq came to pass – in spades.

If only we had listened to a smart person. If only we had ignored the god-awful judgment of the willfully ignorant, and their insistence that the most important quality in a leader is his ability to not act high-falutin’.

Look, I have a lot of relatives in red states, and I understand that they get very upset when they feel like a politician is getting a little too big for his or her britches. But here’s the deal: THEY HAVE TO GET OVER IT.

This penchant that the “regular” voter has for thinking with his beer hand is not something to be admired and worshipped by the likes of Matthews. It is a deplorable state we have found ourselves in, when candidates must pretend to be ignorant or indifferent in order to be accepted. It is the electoral version of the cool kids in school, and it’s literally killing us.

But how can we hope to reverse this kind of thinking, when we must wake up to letters like this in the goddamn Wall Street Fucking Journal:

“You wrote that living in a Blue State reduces the odds of divorce. Democrats divorce at a lower rate than Republicans? I find that very difficult to believe.”

Yes, the breezy hatred of the letter is rather shocking, but perhaps worse is the opening sentence of the columnist’s response, in which she says “I can understand your skepticism.”

Stunning. She later goes on to attribute the effect to the high number of Catholics in Massachusetts.

What is it that these people think we are? Do they think we want to make over the country in the image of the Woodstock Festival, or the Haight, or downtown Detroit? Do they think our model for society is the decadence and immorality of the ancient Roman royal courts? Because let me tell you, if Caligula were alive today he would definitely vote Republican.

Perhaps, now that Matthews’s hard-on for our flight-suited Commander-in-Chief is waning, he and our other media leaders can adopt a more realistic approach toward those who wish to guide the direction of this country. But I wouldn’t hold my breath.

Kennedy, in that short speech many years ago, said to the crowd “Let us dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world.”

If Kennedy were running for president today, Matthews would no doubt not be impressed, and would rather dedicate his show to a discussion of Kennedy’s bowling prowess.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Nor all thy piety nor wit shall lure it back to cancel half a line

Uh-oh. Guess which black minister, recently in the news, has come out in opposition to the war? An excerpt:

"And don't let anybody make you think that God chose America as his divine, messianic force to be a sort of policeman of the whole world. God has a way of standing before the nations with judgment, and it seems that I can hear God saying to America, 'You're too arrogant! And if you don't change your ways, I will rise up and break the backbone of your power, and I'll place it in the hands of a nation that doesn't even know my name.'"

Heavy stuff. I'm sure any conservative reading the bit above would come away with only one thing - that the Reverend is threatening America with the very wrath of God. And who the fuck does he think he is?

And what does Obama have to say about all this?

To be honest, I don't think anyone's asked him.

They haven't asked for his opinion, because the above words are not those of his former minister, Reverend Wright. I took them from a speech by Martin Luther King called "Why I Am Opposed to the War in Vietnam."

Yeah, yeah, happy April Fool's Day and all that. But I must give all props to Tavis Smiley for this post, as it was his appearance on Real Time this week that reminded me that MLK was reviled for his position on Vietnam not only by southern bigots and his usual political opponents, but also by mainstream America. Referring to another of King's speeches on this same topic, the Washington Post said "King has diminished his usefulness to his cause, his country, his people," and Time called it "demagogic slander that sounded like a script for Radio Hanoi." Even King's own parishioners told him that they felt he was abandoning their cause. King, however, saw the larger picture, and proposed that "a nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death."

President Johnson, who formerly relied upon the personal counsel of MLK, and who signed the Civil Rights Act in 1964 with King looking over his shoulder, now barred him from the White House, as he would not truck with opponents of the war. King differentiated Johnson's personality from that of his predecessor, saying that "President Kennedy was a man who was big enough to admit when he was wrong-as he did after the Bay of Pigs incident." But, according to King, Johnson did not stop bombing Vietnam, although he could've easily have found the popular support to do so, because his administration was devoid of statesmanship, and "when creative statesmanship wanes, irrational militarism increases."

Ah. True dat.

So my point is not that Reverend Wright is a King in wolf's clothing, no, far from it. My point is simply that we might take the occasion of the upcoming 40th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to reflect on how people are often viewed by history quite differently than they were in their own times.

Or, in other words, and as we are often reminded every April 1st, things are not always what they seem.