Monday, June 28, 2004

IRAQ IS SOVREIGN? SURE...(and Don King just got a haircut)

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Also feel free to stop by the new "spinoff" blog: ("The R Spot")
Fooling No One

So, the U.S. government decides to grant Iraqi sovereignity a couple of days earlier. But there are still 160,000 plus troops and 14 U.S. military bases (which will probably be permanent) in Iraq. And a terrorist group is threatening to execute a Muslim U.S. GI if certain Iraqi prisoners aren't released. And there was another terrorist attack today. In other words, Different Day Same S**t but now the puppet is in charge instead of the master. (Yes, Dick Cheney is president there too).

What's interesting to me is how no one seems to be buying the Bush Administration's naked election year ploy even for a second. Fox News will undoubtedly trumpet how smoothly the transition is going and how the administration is to be commended for handing the reins over ahead of schedule, but even the most uneducated observer of the situation over in Iraq is aware that the body count keeps rising and that just because you gave the mess a new name, a constitution and a new figurehead means that you're any closer to cleaning up the mess. Bravo, though, to Bush and his cronies for having the balls to try and sell this bottle of Cold Duck as Dom Perignon. Too bad that swill is still swill.

Kerry's VP Interview of the Week

Bill Richardson, the former Democratic governor of New Mexico and Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission.

Odds against becoming the nominee: 200 to 1

Dissent Channel says: Nice to interview a minority, but no. Despite being a good moderate Democrat with a following among Latino voters in a part of the country that is generally Republican, the GOP will undoubtedly skewer Richardson for overseeing the AEC during one of its most embarrassing moments, when a scientist at Los Alamos was convicted of selling secrets to the Chinese. Also, Richardson doesn't have much of a national following.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004


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"I think [President Bush] would be more kindly remembered because he hasn't had as many scandals [as Clinton]." --Republican Shannon Miller, giving her opinion in a poll in which respondants were asked which President they would rate higher. (Sources: AP and Yahoo! News)

Guess that depends on what your definition of a scandal is:

Clinton - Whitewater, which led to Lewinskygate and the pardoning of Mark Rich (suspected embezzler, money launderer and friend of international terrorists).

Bush Jr. - Abu Ghraib prison and coverup; torture of prisoners in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantanamo Bay; the fabrication of reasons to go to war in Iraq; VP Cheney's ties to (and profiteering from) Halliburton; the exposure of a CIA-agent by administration officials (through Robert Novak) and escorting the bin Laden family out of the country on 9/11.

Pretty striking difference, but then you're reminded that Clinton was president for eight years, Bush has been in charge for 3 1/2 and it gets a lot more striking.

But at least he keeps his pants zipped (maybe even when he goes to the bathroom). Ah, the ability of people everywhere to see only exactly what they want to see...

My Day As An Emmy Voter

Today, I got the opportunity to have an impact on that most moribund of the "Grand Slam" entertainment awards shows, the Emmys. (In case you're wondering, the other three of that slam are of course the Oscars, the Tonys and the Grammys. The Tonys are the least watched but probably the classiest, the Oscars are the Super Bowl of awards shows, the Emmys are like your best friend's ugly sister who's pretty smart, but you still wouldn't want to see naked. The Grammys are the boorish nephew you wish would just go away, even if you're sometimes fascinated to see what he'll do next.)

But I digressed--I voted by proxy for an actual Academy member who was busy recovering from a stroke and so, while able to watch a lot of TV in the past year, they were unable to communicate their choices or fill out the ballot adequately. This is sad, but since I'm never at a loss for an opinion, this was a dream come true, even if I only got to vote in the "Best Show" categories!

On the ballot, you're allowed to nominate ten choices in each of the following categories comprised of nearly 400 eligible 2003-04 shows:

Outstanding Comedy Series
Outstanding Drama Series
Outstanding Reality Programming (Competitive)
Outstanding Non-Fiction Programming
Outstanding Variety, Talk Show
Outstanding Special (Variety, or something like that)
Outstanding Original Movie
Outstanding Miniseries
And A Bunch of other Categories I Didn't Pay Much Attention To And You Wouldn't Either

The top five votegetters in each category become the nominees with the top votegetter taking the winged lady home in September.

As best as I can remember them, since I'm sure you're waiting with baited breath, here were my choices in the Big Three categories--Drama, Comedy and Reality - Competitive, with my choice for the Best Show in parentheses:

DRAMA nominees - The Sopranos, The Shield, The West Wing, The Wire, Deadwood, CSI and 24. (The Sopranos by a smidge over The Shield. It had a really good year and has, along with the ineligible Six Feet Under, the best all-around cast of any of the other dramas. I wish they'd get rid of Lorraine Bracco though).

COMEDY nominees - Arrested Development, Sex and the City, Everybody Loves Raymond, Girlfriends, Friends, Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Bernie Mac Show. (Every single one of these shows had a somewhat off year, but if I had to pick the Best Comedy Series, I'd go with Sex and the City, even though it seemed more like a soap at times last year. I suspect Frasier is better than either Arrested Development or Bernie Mac, but who am I kidding, I haven't watched that show since 1997.)

REALITY/COMPETITIVE - Survivor, The Amazing Race, The Apprentice, America's Next Top Model, American Idol. (Believe it or not, I only regularly watch ANTM, so that would be my choice, although I'm sure the hearty, well-cast competitors of Survivor are more likeable).

Have I bored you yet? I'll find out how many of my choices make the final nominee cut in a couple of weeks. But just like Decision 2004, it's always nice to make a difference.

A Note for Future Blogs

Soon I will be taking my entertainment and sports related observations (including film reviews) and starting a new blog through (they're free people, get in on the act!) When I have it set up, I'll let you know if you're curious.

Another Quote from Orwell

This one is used effectively by Michael Moore in Fahrenheit 9/11:

"The war is not meant to be won. It is meant to be continuous."

Until next time, thanks for your time. You know who you are... :-)

Thursday, June 17, 2004


Feel free to respond to this blog at

To the reader who commented, half-jokingly, that having a girlfriend has "whipped me" and causes me to do "a half-ass, two paragraph blog", I retort that I'll be happy to read her thorough, lovingly crafted blog whenever she gets around to posting one.

So now enjoy this half-ass, notes & trivia style blog entry:

Fact #1
Iraq (or more properly at the time, Mesopotamia) is believed by ancient historians to be the birthplace of the zero, the foundation of modern math. (Contrary to the opinion of many liberals, zero is actually at least five points lower than the IQ of President Bush.)

Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States, did NOT free all the slaves. He freed the slaves in the rebelling Confederate states via the Emancipation Proclamation--territories over which he technically no longer had jurisdiction.

Fact 3
It's true: Detroit Pistons forward Tayshaun Prince's idol while playing high school and a year of college basketball--Kobe Bryant. Prince is 23 years old. Bryant is 25. Source: ABC Sports

Fact 4
The most recent study culled from U.S. Department of Labor statistics indicates that women have reached the highest pay rate relative to men in U.S. history...they now on average make about 75 cents for every dollar a man makes for the same job.

Fact 5
It's not just a bad Saturday Night Live skit--for at least a couple of years in the late 1960's, George W. Bush, John Kerry, Bill Clinton, Hilary Clinton and Howard Dean were all simultaneously students at Yale University.

Fact 6
The largest landholders in the United Kingdom are the royal family and the Church of England. The largest landholders in the U.S. are the Federal government and the Catholic Church. (Just what were we running away from in the 17th and 18th centuries again?)

Fact 7
There are now at least six times as many casualties in the Iraq War and Occupation than occurred in the Persian Gulf War in 1991, and twice as many casualties as occurred in the first year in Vietnam (1964-65).

Fact 8
The average cost of a Hollywood studio film in 2003 was over $44 million. In 1980, Michael Cimino's Heaven's Gate was called by many the biggest box office disaster of all time. It cost around $45 million, a record at the time. Sources: Daily Variety and my memory.

Fact 9
The cicadas currently mating in a cacophanous fashion across much of the Eastern and Southern states only emerge every 17 years and only live for a few weeks, leaving their eggs in the ground to begin the whole cycle again in 17 more years. (As an aside, I too once went 17 years without getting laid, but unfortunately lived to tell about it.) Source: NPR Radio

Fact 10
If Senator John Kerry is elected President, he will be the first president born in the State of Colorado and the only president born in a state that joined the union after the Civil War (1876).

This was fun. Until next time...

(Source material from The World Almanac, except where noted. Most of the comments in the parenthesis, if you haven't noticed, are the opinion of this blogger.)

Quote of the Week
"Relationships are like sharks--if they don't keep moving forward, they die."
---Woody Allen in Annie Hall

Wednesday, June 16, 2004


Time Management Is Not My Strong Point

First, a personal note...I feel I should apologize, because I have a lot of things I want to get off my chest, but not enough time to share them. And I really should call my girlfriend in about 15 minutes, since it's already kind of late--I mean, she's much more important and nobody reads this damn thing anyway--(where does three hours of time go??), so I'll try to remember to get to everything I don't get to tonight in future blogs over the next several days. Part of why I like blogging so much is that this is an exercise in discipline,discipline being important to a writer, so the blog should be done regularly but damn, who are these people who supposedly have full-time jobs, families, hobbies and still find time to blog every day? Is this the great technoliterary myth of the 2000's?

Back to the Primary Race

Did you see what happened there? I wasted nine minutes on that namby pamby, wussy-ass apology for NOTHING! How Democratic of me!

I haven't written about John Kerry, the 2004 elections and the main issues of the presidential race much lately and I will definitely get back into it. All I want to say for now is that I swear I will kick John Kerry's patrician ass myself if he manages to convince John McClain to become his running mate. I know, I know, it would be an unbeatable, bipartisan ticket, a first in the modern era of presidential politics I do believe, but the ramifications for liberal Democrats and presidential politics could be disastrous. How would McCain vote in the case of a tie? Would the Democrats be dragged even farther to the right? Would die hard liberals be more tempted to vote for Nader, further weakening Kerry's position?

I said it a month ago, I'll say it again: the answer for Kerry is John Edwards. Swallow the ego, do what's best for the ticket, make a challenge in the South and go kick Bush's ass in November. I think it's a no-brainer, which means the Dems will undoubtedly hem and haw over it right up until the next to last day of the convention (not that anybody would really pay too much attention, since most of the convention won't be on TV).

The Big Tease

Next up I'll write about pornography, drugs and video games. Well, probably not, but I need a big opening weekend if I want to franchise this blog and do well in the foreign markets. Stay tuned, my time is up and I'm getting ready to pick up the phone...

Friday, June 11, 2004


The Funeral

Before you think that all the hoopla and reportage regarding the death of Ronald Reagan is appropriate, ask yourself the following question: do you remember when Richard Nixon died?

I barely do...the passing was dutifully reported by all the news outlets of course, and there was the famous image of all the surviving ex-presidents sitting there at the funeral service, but the whole affair was over and done with in just a couple of days. Yet Nixon was in many ways the defining American politician of the last 35 years. He planted the seeds of neo-conservatism (along with Barry Goldwater) that Ronald Reagan fertilized into full bloom. Nixon was a much more sophisticated politician than Reagan was and he had a real, lasting positive impact on global politics that included opening up China for trade, the SALT treaties and progress in the Middle East. Reagan oversaw the greatest military buildup in the history of the world, in a two-pronged attempt to both spend the Soviet bloc into oblivion and make sure that the well-heeled military-industrial backers of the Republican party added several zeroes to their bottom line.

Certainly, Nixon had his Watergate and history has recorded that between that and Vietnam, American politics grew up and the people never looked at their government the same way again. But Reagan had Iran-Contra not to mention an odious deal to free the hostages in Tehran at the expense of the last days of Carter's presidency. But Nixon was an asshole and Reagan was charming. Nixon was the president worth reflecting on (among Republicans anyway), but Nixon resigned in disgrace and Reagan rode off into the sunset, even as his brain withered away in the early stages of Alzheimer's. All those people who idolized the values of the 50's which never really existed and the go-go, me-first, shameless anti-liberalism that Reagan embodied have seen their champion go into that Great Dark Night and now we have a week of mourning ad nauseum. When Carter dies, no one will mention it and when Clinton dies, everyone will remember the scandals but no one will try to put him on a $20 bill. So much for the so-called Liberal media bias and for sanity in the halls of the Federal government.

R.I.P. Ronnie and good riddance. Never mind the war, the torture of innocents abroad and here in the name of the War on Terrorism. Never mind the legacy of homelessness and corporate greed brought on by the policies of the Reagan-Bush cabal. Let's remember the Gipper, the one liners, the charm, the B-movies and wallow in some kind of false notion of a dead America that never really existed. Let's all wave goodbye and try not to be sick.

Quick Movie Reviews

Napolean Dynamite - A-, worth about $8 or $9. A droll, absurdist comedy about geeky losers in Idaho, just trying to find themselves and not get beat up every day. Not as original as the ads might make you think it is, this is nonetheless one weird, funny, offbeat movie. Check it out.

Saved! - B+, worth maybe $7. Biting comedy about holy rolling teens and the hypocrisies of being Born again, featuring sharp performances by Mandy Moore as a holier-than-though high school queen, Jena Malone as a good girl gone "astray" and McCauly Culkin (no, seriously) as Moore's sardonic, paralyzed younger brother who sees right through all the hypocrisy.

The Day After Tomorrow - D+. The only reasons I don't give it a failing grade: the jabs at the current Bush administration are sharp, funny and worth making and the special effects are out of this world. Just try to avoid listening to any of the dialogue or trying to believe any of the movie's dozen or so wooden performances. A classic Roland Emmerich B-movie.

Shrek 2 - A-/B+, if you have kids especially, worth full price. Not quite as fresh and funny as the first one, but the gags are still there, the animation is still terrific and Antonio Banderas almost steals the movie as the hilariously bold and catty, Puss N' Boots.

Feel free to drop us a line at the new email address listed above. Talk to you again after the weekend...

Monday, June 07, 2004


Pardon me if I'm not sufficiently teary-eyed. My political coming-of-age was during that vapid actor's reign. I blame him for everything, and especially for paving the way for this empty-headed buffoon with whom we are currently burdened, Buddha help us. I mean, NO ONE said anything about the g.d. Grating Communigipper's War on Poverty, War on Drugs, War on Latin America, War on Women, War on Black Folks (Apartheid here and abroad), Ignoring AIDS, Star effin' Wars, Nuclear Proliferation, Ketchup as a Vegetable, Iran-Contra, Hallucinations (remember how he'd personally liberated concentration camps??), and this is just off the top of my head! God forbid they'd get an actual historian and political scientist up there to discuss any of it. And his "optimism"???? Do not make me vomit. God. An ignorant, bigoted, opportunistic, hypocritical and manipulative faithmonger pitting the underprivileged classes against one another in a mad rush to make rich white folks richer? For fug's sake, Amerika deserves everything it gets if it insists on engaging in this sort of amnesia-fuelled hallucinatory hagiography. [Disclaimer: I do not believe, of course, that the narrative imposed on us by the right wing (let's face it) media speaks for "America," or for "Amerika," for that matter.]

Clouds and Harps or Flames and Screams for Ronnie?

Those who cannot stomach the tooth-crumbling hagiography of the weekend would do well to take a peek at Greg Palast's last post. Greg, refreshingly, is not afraid to call a union-busting anti-civil rights bigot a union-busting anti-civil rights bigot. All those boohooing over the President With Good Hair, I have two words for you: Rehnquist and Scalia. My God.
Sunday, June 6, 2004
by Greg Palast

You're not going to like this. You shouldn't speak ill of the dead. But in this case, someone's got to.

Ronald Reagan was a conman. Reagan was a coward. Reagan was a killer.

In 1987, I found myself stuck in a crappy little town in Nicaragua named Chaguitillo. The people were kind enough, though hungry, except for one surly young man. His wife had just died of tuberculosis.

People don't die of TB if they get some antibiotics. But Ronald Reagan, big hearted guy that he was, had put a lock-down embargo on medicine to Nicaragua because he didn't like the government that the people there had elected.

Ronnie grinned and cracked jokes while the young woman's lungs filled up and she stopped breathing. Reagan flashed that B-movie grin while they buried the mother of three.

And when Hezbollah terrorists struck and murdered hundreds of American marines in their sleep in Lebanon, the TV warrior ran away like a whipped dog ... then turned around and invaded Grenada. That little Club Med war was a murderous PR stunt so Ronnie could hold parades for gunning down Cubans building an airport.

I remember Nancy, a skull and crossbones prancing around in designer dresses, some of the "gifts" that flowed to the Reagans -- from hats to million-dollar homes -- from cronies well compensated with government loot. It used to be called bribery.

And all the while, Grandpa grinned, the grandfather who bleated on about "family values" but didn't bother to see his own grandchildren.

The New York Times today, in its canned obit, wrote that Reagan projected, "faith in small town America" and "old-time values." "Values" my ass. It was union busting and a declaration of war on the poor and anyone who couldn't buy designer dresses. It was the New Meanness, bringing starvation back to America so that every millionaire could get another million.

"Small town" values? From the movie star of the Pacific Palisades, the Malibu mogul? I want to throw up.

And all the while, in the White House basement, as his brain boiled away, his last conscious act was to condone a coup d'etat against our elected Congress. Reagan's Defense Secretary Casper the Ghost Weinberger with the crazed Colonel, Ollie North, plotted to give guns to the Monster of the Mideast, Ayatolla Khomeini.

Reagan's boys called Jimmy Carter a weanie and a wuss although Carter wouldn't give an inch to the Ayatolla. Reagan, with that film-fantasy tough-guy con in front of cameras, went begging like a coward cockroach to Khomeini pleading on bended knee for the release of our hostages.

Ollie North flew into Iran with a birthday cake for the maniac mullah -- no kidding --in the shape of a key. The key to Ronnie's heart.

Then the Reagan roaches mixed their cowardice with crime: taking cash from the hostage-takers to buy guns for the "contras" - the drug-runners of Nicaragua posing as freedom fighters.

I remember as a student in Berkeley the words screeching out of the bullhorn, "The Governor of the State of California, Ronald Reagan, hereby orders this demonstration to disburse" ... and then came the teargas and the truncheons. And all the while, that fang-hiding grin from the Gipper.

In Chaguitillo, all night long, the farmers stayed awake to guard their kids from attack from Reagan's Contra terrorists. The farmers weren't even Sandinistas, those 'Commies' that our cracked-brained President told us were 'only a 48-hour drive from Texas.' What the hell would they want with Texas, anyway?

Nevertheless, the farmers, and their families, were Ronnie's targets.

In the deserted darkness of Chaguitillo, a TV blared. Weirdly, it was that third-rate gangster movie, "Brother Rat." Starring Ronald Reagan.

Well, my friends, you can rest easier tonight: the Rat is dead.

Killer, coward, conman. Ronald Reagan, good-bye and good riddance.

Greg Palast is author of the New York Times bestseller, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004


"When your house is on fire, it is not the time to worry about redecorating."
--Arianna Huffington, talking about the Bush Administration's approach to the Iraq War and occupation.

Random Thought, Apropos of Nothing...

I did four posts in May. Four! That's pathetic. I resolve to do better... :-)

What This Feels Like

Let's say you own a house. You have a large dysfunctional family, but you have a big house and you want to take care of it and make sure that your family is well provided for. You're trying to choose between two competing comprehensive homeowner insurance policies. Two insurance agents come to your home at different times to try and sell you their policies. At first, they each seem somewhat similar to each other with just relatively minor differences here and there. Each policy costs the same. One agent is smart, detailed, knows everything about the policy but he is also somewhat aloof and you get the feeling he thinks he knows your house better than you do. Let's call this agent, Mr. A. The other agent is new to the insurance business. He is uncertain about his diction and when he presents the policy, he seems to be speaking from a rote memorized script. Yet this agent is warmer than Mr. A, more congenial and seems content to let you run the household the way you see fit, even if he eyes your pregnant teenage daughter with some suspicion. This agent we'll call Mr. B.

It is an agonizing decision for you and your family. The kids are disinterested and so is the retarded uncle who lets one of your rooms, but the rest of the family decides the best thing to do is to make a list of the merits of each policy as laid out by the agents and then vote to choose either Mr. A or Mr. B. After what seems like forever, the votes come in and the household has spoken--it's Mr. A's policy. Only, a couple of days later, a man in a dark suit knocks at the door and announces that Mr. A's policy is disallowed and you have to choose Mr. B's policy. You call Mr. A and he says that while he thinks the whole thing is bogus, there's nothing he can do, you're stuck with Mr. B and his policy. You're dubious, incredulous, but there seems to be no other recourse so you hope for the best.

In September, there's a home invasion at gunpoint and your oldest son, your cousin and the retarded uncle are all killed. All of your valuables are stolen and the grandfather clock in the foyer is toppled and smashed to pieces. You call the insurance company and find out that not only are you not covered for this ("read the fine print"), but the insurance company may have had something to do with giving your home address out to the invaders. The police and neighborhood security, working with you and the insurance company, begin searching every nook and cranny of the neighborhood to look for the attackers, even going so far as to look through the personal records of every single person in your house for possible connections. Later, you find out that several likely suspects mysteriously slipped through the cracks because the police were told by someone working for the insurance company that they were innocent. You are outraged, but you are stuck with this policy and hopeful that maybe you can still get some justice. And you don't want to move out of the neighborhood, because it's always been the safest neighborhood in town.

But Mr. B and the insurance company keeps pissing you off. Your grandma falls down the stairs when termites eat through a step and you wonder how the insurance company missed that. Then you find out that your health insurance (purchased through your same homeowner's insurance company) won't completely cover the cost of your grandmother's injuries. The power mysteriously goes out for two whole days because the energy company (which shares several board members with the top members of your insurance company, including Mr. B) shuts down your local power plant to make a few more dollars. You keep laying out more and more money for household repairs and finding out that less and less covered. Everytime you get Mr. B on the phone, he tells you more lies and half-truths and seems a lot less friendly than he did when he was shaking your hand in the living room. Mr. B informs you that your premiums are going up because of the home invasion but that the insurance company will work closely with the police to "smoke them out". Only the police seem to be more concerned with making asses of themselves and every day your neighborhood seems a little less safe and your home's security is a little more threatened.

Your grandma dies, you've lost your uncle, a son and a cousin and now your wife wants a divorce. Your teenage daughter wanted to get an abortion, but the insurance wouldn't cover that either. Your house is a mess, you're life is shit and you didn't even choose the insurance company you seem to be stuck with and nobody at the home office seems to give a damn, although they all have shiny new SUV's purchased with the hard earned cash they plucked from your pocket. Does this scenario seem bizarre and farfetched? If you've been halfway paying attention, then you will have noticed that this is exactly what it feels like to live in the United States today with George W. Bush as president, and yet if all the people still living in this mythical household were as reluctant to change insurance policies as the American people seem to be to get rid of our current president, you'd write them all off as idiots and say that they are getting what they deserved.

Well, do we deserve this?