December 31, 2006

"Girl Talk and Quite Desperation: Christopher Guest's Women"

Dan Callahan wrote these thoughts on Catherine O'Hara, Jennifer Coolidge, Jane Lynch and Parker Posey, and how Guest uses them, after viewing For Your Consideration.

Posted by armand at 11:19 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 30, 2006

The Republican Ranking Members in the Next US House

So to move away, briefly, from thoughts related to the movies ...

While most who are interested in the US House are understandably focused on what Democratic plans are in 2007, it's worth noting that there are a whole new set of Republicans who might weild at least a bit of authority over what occurs there. No, I'm obviously not taking about the GOP party leadership in the House (since the old team was largely reelected, minus Hastert and DeLay) - I'm talking about the new ranking members. The days of the textbook Congress are past of course, especially among Republicans, and seniority no longer guides who leads committees. So who have the Republicans named to be their ranking members on the top panels? Well, some are former chairmen who are now in the minority, like Jerry Lewis (CA) on Appropriations and Duncan Hunter (CA) on Armed Services. But there are a host of new faces too. Young Paul Ryan, 36, is the new top Republican on the Budget committee. There are a couple of Floridians who are newly well-placed too - John Mica is the new top Republican on the Transportation Committee and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen will be the new ranking member on International Relations. Spencer Bachus (AL) outhustled and outfundraised the more-senior Richard Baker (LA) for the top slot on the Financial Services Committee, and 83 year old Ralph Hall (TX), the oldest member of the House, will be the new ranking member of the Science Committee. Hall beat out former Science Committee chairman and current Judiciary Committee chairman Jim Sensenbrenner (WI) for that post. Lamar Smith (TX) is replacing Sensenbrenner as the top Republican on Judiciary.

Posted by armand at 02:56 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

A Damn Silly Reason to Criticize President Bush

Wtf? When there's so much to really criticize him for, so very, very much, why knock him for going to bed before the execution and not being awakened to hear that the deed was done? Why does the president need to be awake for that - or be awakened to hear that the deed was done? The course of events was known before he went to bed after all.

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December 29, 2006

Dickie Never Made It to 34

But happily Jude Law has - I say happily both because of his talent and for other reasons.

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The Best and Worst Best Actress Awards

As the year ends there's much talk of Oscars in the air - so what better time to run an Oscar-related survey?This year Edward Copeland is running a survey asking readers for their views of the 5 best Best Actress winners and the 5 worst Best Actress winners. Submit answers if you feel like it, or just click on the link to see who's won over the past several decades and consider the questions. Looking at that list of winners over the last several decades I thought it was interesting to see (to my eyes) so few dogs in the bunch. Yeah I could pick out a couple of awful performaces, but not many - and trying to narrow a list of the best of the best down to 5 is damn difficult as a lot of women have won for what really have been remarkably fine performances. I knock the Oscars a lot, and with good reason, but at least in the actress category they've gotten it right a fair number of times - though they've disappointed me (greatly) at times during the last decade.

So I ask you Bloodless Coup readers - which winning performances would you rate the best or the worst?

Posted by armand at 01:45 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 27, 2006

Armand's Christmas Weekend Football Observations

Coming in a few days late, as I only got back in town late last night. First, from what I've seen of the bowls so far the team that stood out most to me has been (surprisingly) Troy. Yeah, weak conference, you probably don't even know exactly where that school's located, and they were playing Rice - but still, damn. They dominated that bowl game. Were quite impressive on both sides of the ball. And sure, they are not the second coming of Michigan or Auburn, but if I was a big program AD I'd think twice (or three or four times) before adding them to my schedule.

As to the pros, I don't know the last time I saw an NFL team look as bad as the New York Giants do right now. This weekend's game was just plainly sad. Pathetic, lost losers - that's the phrase that comes to mind when thinking back on how they played. They probably should have lost by a score of about 80-7. They were just that bad. If Moon was watching - well, I'll be surprised if he didn't turn off the set in the 3rd quarter. Awful - they were truly awful.

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Gerald Ford - He Was Delicious

I've always thought this was one of the best SNL skits of the 1990's, and since the late president has died it seems appropriate to link to it.

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December 26, 2006

Houston, We've Left the Capsule...

I love arguing politics. I'm willing to do this with everybody. It's part of my civic evangelism: people who haven't been introduced to rational thinking and actual facts can't be held responsible for their incorrect voting. It's up to me to help them (which helps the country, as well). Yay citizens! It's not just a job, its an adventure.

Arguing politics with in-laws is more complicated. Several of my basic arguments have to be left behind in the name of familial collegiality (for example, I can't just club them over the head when they say something egregiously wrong).

Anyway, being away from the people I normally argue politics with has introduced me to the general level of political knowledge in the country. Which is, in case anyone cares, somewhere beyond "Bad" and veering close to "Fucking Awful." I'm chalking up my failure to understand how bad things are to my interacting with an insular community of political science geeks and majors daily, which are not your everyday citizens. I realize I should have known that political science majors are not your "average" person, but in my defense sometimes the lack of knowledge held by PoliSci majors is (also) so egregiously awful that I forget that majors are likely several levels above the idiocy of the average citizen. I admit my error.

So, the most frustrating argument I run into is the crowd-pleasing "Well, I voted what I thought was right." Uh, no. It's not a matter of voting "right." It's a matter of doing the right thing. Now, reasonable people can have reasonable disagreements about politics - I accept that. What isn't acceptable is a lack of knowledge on your part that leads to bad votes. Voting is an important civic responsibility, and one I care about because YOUR DAMN VOTE ENDS UP FUCKING UP MY COUNTRY.Sorry. Deep breath.

Look, I realize that politics is something most people don't give two shits about, and those (few) that do only give two shits for about an hour every November, but is it vaguely possible that I'm the only person who has noticed that the quality of our politicians is directly and inversely related to the level of general knowledge of politics by citizens? More simply: if you knew more, the politicians wouldn't be able to act like retarded drunken syphilitic monkeys. (If you are unclear if that "you" applies to you, assume it does.)

An in-law used this on me. I am reduced to making blog posts as a poor alternative to my first (aborted) response (violence).

I may actually be looking forward to returning to my capsule.

Posted by baltar at 02:13 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Jumbo Shrimp?

PunkAssBlog spreads the holiday cheer:

Feminists for Life.

Amanda writes about Feminists for Life a lot.

I am not a member of Feminists for Life.

I think that Feminists for Life is a very sneaky name.

Posted by binky at 01:53 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 24, 2006

Things I Love About Being Back in the South For Christmas

It reminds me of why I like living in the less populous, more rural state (which I sometimes complain about).

Doing yardwork in a bikini on Christmas Eve, and needing to take pool breaks to keep going because it's so hot.

Smelling the various kinds of pork being grilled outside all day all around the neighborhood.

Listening to the three competing salsa stations blaring from the neighbors' yards, as they get ready for the fiesta.

And for some sick, sad reason, seeing armadillos toes up on the side of the road sure does feel like home.

Happy holidays, y'all!

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December 19, 2006

Badger badger badger badger mushroom mushroom!


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At least he wasn't a political scientist or we'd never hear the end...

...about commie professors:

A psychology professor at Florida International University, Alvarez faces up to five years in prison for conspiracy to become an unregistered foreign agent.

Elsa Alvarez, who also worked at the university, faces up to three years in prison for concealing her husband's participation in that conspiracy.

The two are scheduled to be sentenced February 27.

When arrested in January, federal prosecutors said the FBI had covertly monitored Alvarez' ongoing communications with the Cuban Intelligence Service.

Authorities said U.S. agents eavesdropped as Alvarez received sophisticated communications equipment from Cuban intelligence designed to keep his activities secret.

Alvarez acknowledged Tuesday he had worked as a Cuban covert intelligence agent on behalf of the Havana government for nearly three decades.

Alvarez said he had gathered and transmitted information about Cuban exile groups to Cuban intelligence agents.

Interesting. I'll be curious to see what else comes out on this, because the charge sounds kind of strange. Basically he was spying on other private citizens (or legal immigrants?) and reporting that back to Cuba, so they are getting him on the "foreign agent" charges. I wonder what more is underneath there.

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Net Neutrality Video

From the StealthBadger, a link to a YouTUbe video.

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So this is one of those old movies from the 1960's that I'd heard good things about for years (in fact it just placed #2 on a recent list of 50 lost movies), but had never had a chance to see, because for a long time it wasn't on dvd. Well, now it is and I finally watched it and ... I'm not sure what to say about it. It's something that probably needs to be thought about at length. But I will say that I liked it a great deal, and it's probably something that every filmmaker should see. It's beautifully crafted, features great performances, and the way it's put together and the photography ... well, it is apparent that it's had a serious impact on more than a few people in the film industry in subsequent years, and deservedly so.

But I'm unsure of what exactly to say about it beyond that, so if you want opinions on it look here, here, here and here.

Posted by armand at 01:18 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 18, 2006

Maybe they ate too many soy bugs

Geckos can reproduce asexually:

The female mourning gecko has found a way to simulate sex and produce eggs, rendering her male counterpart redundant, scientists have found.

But the revolution has a downside, with the invading Asian reptiles reproducing at an alarming rate and threatening a native species of geckos in the Northern Territory who do things the more traditional way.

"They have an unusual reproductive strategy which allows populations to consist only of females," NT Environment Minister Marion Scrymgour said today.

"Males are not necessary to fertilise and initiate egg production (which) permits the mourning gecko to be a very successful invasive species."

Damn! You'd think the wingers would be into this what with the rapid repopulation and invasive abilities and what not. /snark

HT Shakespeare's Sister.

Posted by binky at 11:05 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

The Libruls Are Taking the 4th Circuit?

I realize that people will from time to time write incendiary articles to try and sell newspapers. But there's sensationalizing and then there's just plainly being a little bit dishonest, and I'm afraid this story in the Washington Post on changes at the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals falls into the latter category. This is the lead:

A growing list of vacancies on the federal appeals court in Richmond is heightening concern among Republicans that one of the nation's most conservative and influential courts could soon come under moderate or even liberal control, Republicans and legal scholars say.

Oh please.

George W. Bush is going to be president, and thereby in charge of who's nominated to this bench, for two more years, and the Court still features some of the most "conservative" circuit judges in the country: Karen Williams, J. Harvie Wilkinson and Paul Niemeyer, to name only three. Might the court become marginally less conservative and perhaps be replaced by the 5th Circuit or the DC Circuit as arguably the most aggressively "conservative" in the country? Sure. But the notion that it's going to suddenly turn liberal is a fantasy, and journalists employed at the Washington Post should know better than to put that kind of (ridiculous) assertion in their lead. The only people they quote in the article saying such a thing are Jan LaRue and Jay Sekulow, and why their wild-eyed fears should be the basis of the lead in this story is beyond me.

Posted by armand at 11:51 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

"I'm a good capitalist"

Hilzoy explains that there are preferences and then there are preferences.

One of the whole points of the market is that, absent market failures, it's a wonderful mechanism for transmitting information about consumer preferences to producers, and for giving producers an incentive to meet those preferences. For instance, I drink Diet Coke, and I prefer to drink it in cans, even though it would undoubtedly be cheaper if I bought it in those big two liter bottles. I assume that it's because there are enough people like me in the US that Diet Coke is available in cans. If people preferred it in some other form -- in little Diet Coke-soaked sponges that we could suck on, or Barney-shaped dinosaur containers, or IV drips, or whatever -- then I assume those would probably appear. But when I buy Diet Coke in cans, I don't normally hear about how strange and spooky it is for me to be trying to influence the market by buying the things I prefer. I don't get long lectures on how my decision to buy Diet Coke in cans will paradoxically cause cans to become unavailable. People normally just say: oh, right, cans. Fine. Some conservatives say: thank God you're allowing the market to register your choices, instead of setting up a central planning mechanism to decide on Diet Coke delivery systems. Some liberals add: I hope you recycle them. (I do.) But normally that's the end of it.

Just as I prefer Diet Coke in cans, I also prefer any product I buy not to be manufactured using child labor, or by slaves. Call me weird, but I do. And I see absolutely no difference, in principle, between taking this preference as a reason not to buy such products and taking my preference for Diet Coke in cans as a reason to buy Diet Coke in cans, except that since we generally don't know a lot about the labor used to manufacture the products we buy, it's not so instinctive. As far as I'm concerned, making decisions about what to buy in the absence of information about the conditions in which it was produced is sort of like buying food in the days before those lovely nutritional labels appeared: you do the best you can and hope it's enough, but more information would definitely be better, since it's information that allows me to more accurately register the preferences I actually have.

And the title is stolen from a common utterance of Baltar, who I often hear expressing a strong capitalist preference for buying from stores that please him, as opposed to those that irritate him.

Posted by binky at 09:18 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 17, 2006

Is It Love?

The song may be unremarkable but this Mr. Mister video has to be one of the most 80's-ish things ever created. There are so many observations about the styles of the era that are seen here - almost every frame and and pretty much every bit of the of costuming fits with some fashion of that decade. I mean sure there are things that much more fully encapsulate a certain bit of the 1980's (say, "Doctor Doctor" for example) but bits of the hair make-up etc. in this reflect or predict everything from the fallout of Adam Ant and Boy George to the rise of the Miami Vice look.

And speaking of the 80's - why wasn't "The Sun Always Shines on TV" a bigger hit? I mean given the tastes of the day, well, you'd have thought something this synth-heavy, featuring serious cheekbones and a cathedral filled with mannequins would have found a more receptive audience.

Posted by armand at 08:39 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

The US Is Loathed in the Arab World - And It's Getting Worse

Those are the only conclusions that one can draw from the latest study of public opinion in the Arab world (from Morocco to Saudi Arabia to Lebanon and Jordan). At a time when we need support in the region, desperately, people in the region can't stand us.

Posted by armand at 07:45 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

A Big Broom, Sunshine, and Chlorox

Those are what we need to take to the Department of Homeland Security. Is it really possible that a bureaucracy this young can already stink this much?

the Department of Homeland Security, which has opted to bar access to detainees by family members or lawyers

They can "opt" to bar people from contact with their attorneys?

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December 16, 2006

Where are they?

Right now, where are the legal immigrants that were rounded up in Homeland Security operations this week?

Where are they?

What's next? Maybe we should start a letter writing campaign, since trying to engage habeus corpus isn't necessarily going to get us anywhere. These are the guidelines AI lists for writing to governments on behalf of those imprisoned simply for their beliefs. It's not such a stretch that the guidelines would be appropriate for those imprisoned simply for the color of their skin.

There are a number of disturbing aspects of the recent Homeland Security raids intended to snare illegal immigrants at various workplaces suspected of hiring them, not the least of which, as TPM Muckracker's Justin Rood reports, is that a number of legal immigrants were caught up in the sweeps:

Cashen said that reports from all six states confirmed that legal immigrants were among those taken away, and have not been returned. "We're still trying to find out where the buses went," she said. "Children have been left at church day cares. Nobody knows where these people are."

But there is a second aspect of this that is equally disturbing: as Rood's followup report points out, racial profiling was in play during these raids:

DHS agents allegedly separated workers by their skin color -- light-skinned were considered citizens, dark-skinned got scrutiny. Predicatably, they swept up at least one dark-skinned U.S. citizen up with immigrant workers.

The Salt Lake Tribune report he cites contains a vivid illustration of what happened:

If only for a few minutes, Maria felt like an "illegal alien" in her homeland -- the United States of America.

She thought she was going on break from her job at the Swift &; Co. meat processing plant here [in Hyrem, Utah] on Tuesday, but instead she and others were forced to stand in a line by U.S. immigration agents. Non-Latinos and people with lighter skin were plucked out of line and given blue bracelets.

The rest, mostly Latinos with brown skin, waited until they were "cleared" or arrested by "la migra," the popular name in Spanish for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), employees said.

"I was in the line because of the color of my skin," she said, her voice shaking. "They're discriminating against me. I'm from the United States, and I didn't even get a blue bracelet."

The arrest of legal immigrants and citizens is the most obvious flaw in racial profiling like this. The larger problem is that racial profiling is wrong in principle, particularly as a matter of law enforcement. It contradicts the notion of equal protection under the law, and when applied in these circumstances, it underscores the institutional racism latent within immigration law itself.

This isn't the first time we've seen this kind of racial profiling in ICE raids. Back in August, as Citizen Steve reported, the ICE performed a similar raid on a Bellingham linen firm:

Where are they?

Posted by binky at 04:56 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

It'll Be a Republican Front Runner in 2008

So there's a little 2008 presidential race news this weekend - Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh has decided not to run, while former Oklahoma governor Frank Keating is publicly mulling a bid. But something that'll shape the race (on the Republican side) strikes me as still very much underreported. Basically, the Republicans are going to have a national primary, in a way we haven't seen before. They'll have Iowa and New Hampshire in late January, and then at least a dozen states will vote for the Republican nominee on February 5th (here's a list of those states - and keep in mind that other states are still considering moving to that day). Given the way that money and personnel are already being eaten up by and aligning with the McCain and Romney campaigns, and the requirements that'll come with that kind of national election, it's looking more and more like the Republican nominee will definitely be a favorite with good name ID and infrastructure. And at the moment I only see 4 people who can achieve that: McCain, Romney, Gingrich and Giuliani. And given that there'll surely be an anybody but Rudy turn in the race if he does well on the 5th of February, it's looking more and more like the nominee will be McCain, Romney or Gingrich.

Posted by armand at 09:32 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 15, 2006

The Evans-Novak Report Ponders Replacements for Justice Stevens

This is just silly, right? All things being equal, sure it's easier to get a senator through the confirmation process, so it makes some sense to consider senators in a 51-49 Senate. But several of these names would fly directly into what have become traditional hurdles any high Court nominee would have to overcome. Could the knuckle-draggers in the far-right media that sank Harriet Miers abide Lindsey Graham? Could the White House abide Lindsey Graham? Is there any way John Cornyn wouldn't be filibustered? I don't mean to sound all elitist, but most of the people who evalute Supreme Court nominees are, and Mike DeWine got his law degree from Ohio Northern (where?). Plus he turns 60 in a few weeks and many people in this White House like to nominate veritable infants to life-tenure seats on the federal bench.

The other two names seem somwhat more plausible, but are still problematic. The president might like to nominate the first Hispanic to the Court, and so Mel Martinez could make some sense. But he's 60, got his law degree at Florida State, and naming him would remove him from potential winning the Vice Presidential sweepstakes in 2008. Mike Crapo? Well, on paper he'd seem the most likely. His voting record is very, very conservative. He's the right age. He was graduated from Harvard Law and clerked for a judge on the 9th Circuit. Maybe Crapo would be an option - though it's worth noting I haven't heard him discussed as one before. And both Martinez and Crapo might raise religious concerns in the minds of some (a Martinez appointment would make the Court 2/3's Roman Catholic and Crapo is a Mormon), though I doubt those would block their appointment.

So, well one or two of these might be slight possibilities. But this is an option that's rarely (if ever) been discussed before now, and some of the names raised in this report are ... well, I'm highly dubious of the idea that we should take them seriously. All that said, since the president now fancies himself a latter day Harry Truman it's worth pointing out that Truman was the last president to name senators to the Court (Republican Harold Burton of Ohio and Democrat Sherman Minton of Indiana).

Posted by armand at 03:58 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

12 Screens + 12 Screens = the Same 12 Movies

So we are now hitting the end of the year, the period when a lot of the best movies are released. Now we have a good little 3-screen theater in town that shows critical favorites, and one of the 12-screen behemoths shows (briefly) some cool "indie" movies from time to time too. So if I've missed the likes of The Fountain , Stranger Than Fiction and Shortbus it's partially my fault - they were here, but I didn't make it to see them in time before they left. But there are still some films that have gotten raves that haven't come to town (like Little Children) and given the time of year and the quality of the releases, I find that irksome. And it annoys me all the more when I look at the movies playing at the two megaplexes in town and see that their offerings include 12 of the exact same movies. Can't someone think a little bit outside the box and offer a bit more variety?

Posted by armand at 03:14 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

A year of inane blather

Via PunkAssBlog, a blog meme. What's the first thing you wrote every month?


I missed this...but the Stealth Badger didn't:


Lawmakers in Indiana are trying to pass a bill establishing that life begins at conception.


Will anyone say "we told you so?"


Food for thought from A White Bear, who is minding the store over at Bitch PhD.


I am an history, in solidarity, in spirit.


Alrighty, finally back in the land of the stationary and regular access to internet that doesn't cost five bucks per half hour.


Pandagon has up a post using the face recognition software that matches you to a celebrity.


It's like wildfire.


Baltar's at APSA, and I'm going to visit my folks, so we're at reduced staff this weekend (go Armand go!).


Oh yes, let's just watch this one unfold. Watch the rats scurry.


Another excellent use of the "craptastic" descriptor.


There's something off about this quiz

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December 14, 2006

This may not be how I look...

...but it is definitely how I feel.

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The GOP Senate Committee Assignments for '07-'08

The new list of committee assignments for Republican senators was released yesterday. As there are so few new Republican senators (Bob Corker of Tennessee and ... is that it?) this list looks a lot like the current line-up, minus those senators who retired or were defeated. Changes? Well, the one that's probably of the most interest to us here at the Coup is Pat Roberts of Kansas snagging the one open seat on Finance (the most sought after committee assignment in recent years), and leaving the Intelligence Committee which he had been chairing. The new chairman of Intelligence is Christopher Bond of Missouri. Additionally, Senators Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Mel Martinez of Florida have both left Foreign Relations. Alexander got the one open GOP slot on Appropriations and Martinez got the one open GOP slot on Armed Services. And Foreign Relations will feature 4 new Republican members - actually 4 new Southern Republicans: Bob Corker of Tennessee, Jim DeMint of South Carolina, Johnny Isakson of Georgia and David Vitter of Louisiana.

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December 13, 2006

More House Dem Committee Assignments: Appropriations, Rules and the Fate of Bill Jefferson

The Hill brings us the latest list. The new Appropriations members include 3 Californians and a Marylander, plus a few rising stars in the caucus. Interestingly three representatives-elect will be joining Rules. And Bill Jefferson (D-LA) who lost his seat on Ways and Means to Artur Davis (D-AL) has been exiled to Siberia (aka the Small Business Committee).

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The War of the Imagination

If you haven't gotten to it yet, but are interested in how exactly we got into the mess that is is Iraq in December 2006, I recommend you go read Mark Danner's piece in The New York Review of Books. It's a review of recent works dealing with that subject by Bob Woodward, James Risen and Ronsuskind, and it does a fine job at threading the various stories and perspectives together. Really if you want to get the big picture (of the big disaster) in only 20-something pages it's a great place to start.

Posted by armand at 01:57 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Pelosi's Committee Picks: Ways and Means and Armed Services

The House Democratic leadership has begun assigning committee memberships. The Speaker (elect) put out this press release announcing the new members of a variety of committees, including Armed Services, Energy and Commerce and Ways and Means, and assignments some of the freshmen will receive.

Posted by armand at 09:47 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 12, 2006

Henry Bonilla (R-TX) Defeated!

The 2006 Democratic wave just got a little bit bigger - and in South Texas of all places. Henry Bonilla, a 14-year member of the US House and often the face of Hispanic Republicans, has been defeated in a run-off election by former US Rep. Ciro Rodriguez. For those of you keeping score at home this means that the Democrats have picked up 30 or 31 US House seats this fall (the difference between the two numbers depending on whether or not you count Vermont as a Democratic gain).

Posted by armand at 10:36 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Aroma of Jesus Christ

Faith, family, then country. That's the way to approach national defense.

Jesus fucking christ.

Posted by binky at 12:38 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

December 11, 2006

I got your holiday spirit...

...right here!

Posted by binky at 05:27 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Why We Shouldn't Trust Whitey - The Bill Jefferson (D-LA) Edition

Well this is interesting, guess where a big chunk of Bill Jefferson's winning margin came from this weekend? If you were thinking from suburban white folks, you would be correct.

Posted by armand at 09:45 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 10, 2006

Sunday Night Quiz

And there wasn't even a question about wardrobe!

Your Quirk Factor: 89%
You're beyond quirky... You're downright bizarre.
You've lost touch with social norms and what's appropriate. And you're loving every minute of it!
How Quirky Are You?

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Who's Paul Lynde? Is He Hot?

I guess I can kind of recommend Another Gay Movie solely on Jonathan Chase's pitch-perfect and so cute delivery of that line, and Jonah Blechman's disturbingly good Lynde impersonation that precedes and follows it. Chase is funny and cute and Blechman is basically Just Jack to the n-th power (minus a good bit of the supposed sluttiness, but happily often much funnier). Beyond that ... well, the movie is both shockingly sweet and filled with far too many easy, pueirle fart and shit jokes. Its four lead characters are all nice and enagaging (and often naked) gay guys, and they are put through all the expected Porky's and American Pie and riffing on every bit of teen-movie cliche nonsense: quiche instead of pie - hilarious!- not ... and what the hell is that Carrie dream sequence doing in this movie? And too often you just want to fast forward through the utterly predictable machinations the plot goes through (and yeah, I get that it's a satire and that's kind of the point, but that doesn't make it interesting). But that said, the cast really is game for a lot, and they are quite fun, and some of the writing is up to their efforts (I must remember to work "Aber-zombie" into my lexicon). Throw in some fun music (Nancy Sinatra sings the theme, and how can you not love a movie that starts with a bouncy, pop classic by Jason Korzen/Barcelona - "Everything Makes Me Think About Sex" has never been more appropriately used) and an extremely funny cameo by Graham Norton as the teacher who's the object of desire of the Jason Biggs-ish character and ... well, it's not amazing filmmaking that you should rush to the top of your NetFlix queue, but it's definitely got a few fun moments.

Oh, and be sure to watch the Mink Stole outtake on the dvd. She's not in the film, and I have NO IDEA WHATSOEVER why that scene was written or filmed for this movie. But she's hilarious. And c'mon, it's Mink Stole - and can you ever get enough of her? Say it with me now - PUSSY WILLOW!!!

Posted by armand at 10:33 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

This Sunday in the '06 Film Awards Season

The Los Angeles, Boston, and Washington DC film critics groups all announced their year end awards this weekend, as did the New York Film Critics Online and the American Film Institute. If you are interested in any of these awards for their own sake, for what they mean for the Oscar race, or simply as pointers toward what movies might be worth your time, the easiest place to find lists of all the winners is Oscarwatch.

The different groups differed considerably on what the best picture of the last year was, but there's a lot of agreement among the critics, so far, as to the best lead performances - Forest Whitaker (for The Last King of Scotland) and Helen Mirren (for The Queen) won a lot of awards today. There was also was a good deal agreement over the best foreign film of '06, with Pan's Labyrinth (from Mexico) winning several honors.

The next few days will continue the awards season, with the New York Film Critics Circle announcing their winners tomorrow, and the Golden Globe nominees being announced later in the week.

Posted by armand at 09:40 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Hasn't Joe Biden Already "Shot" His Credibility?

Ladies and gentlemen I give you the senior senator from Delaware, who's about to become Chairman of Senate Foreign Relations again. Should we laugh or cry?

Posted by armand at 05:46 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Pinochet Dies at 91

Good riddance:

Gen. Augusto Pinochet, who overthrew Chile's democratically elected Marxist president in a bloody coup and ruled the Andean nation for 17 years, died Sunday, dashing hopes of victims of his regime's abuses that he would be brought to justice. He was 91.

Pinochet suffered a heart attack a week ago and underwent an angioplasty, and the brief announcement by the Santiago Military hospital said his condition worsened suddenly on Sunday.

Dr. Juan Ignacio Vergara, spokesman for the medical team that had been treating him, said his family was with him when he died.

Police ringed the hospital, but a small group of Pinochet supporters remained at the entrance, shouting insults at people in passing cars. The supporters, including some weeping women, repeatedly called out "Long Live Pinochet!" and sang Chile's national anthem.

As the mustachioed Pinochet crushed dissent during his 1973-90 rule, he left little doubt about who was in charge. "Not a leaf moves in this country if I'm not moving it," he once said.


He disbanded Congress, banned political activity and started a harsh anti-leftist repression. At least 3,197 people were killed, more than 1,000 others are unaccounted for, and thousands more were arrested, tortured and forced into exile.

Within years, Chile and other South American countries with right-wing governments launched Operation Condor to eliminate leftist dissidents abroad. One of Operation Condor's victims was former Chilean Foreign Minister Orlando Letelier, who was killed along with his American aide, Ronni Moffitt, when a bomb shattered their car in Washington in 1976.

In May 2005, some of the strongest evidence against Pinochet emerged, when Gen. Manuel Contreras, the imprisoned head of the former dictatorship's secret police, gave Chile's Supreme Court a list describing the fate of more than 500 dissidents who disappeared after being arrested by the secret police. Most were killed, their bodies flung into the sea.


"I see myself as a good angel," he told a Miami Spanish-language television station in 2004.

With his raspy voice, he often spoke in a lower-class vernacular that comedians delighted in mimicking. But his off-the-cuff comments sometimes got him into trouble.

Once, he embarrassed the government by saying that the German army was made up of "marijuana smokers, homosexuals, long-haired unionists." On another occasion, he drew criticism by saying the discovery of coffins that each contained the bodies of two victims of his regime's repression was a show of "a good cemetery space-saving measure."

Posted by binky at 04:32 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Grameen Banker Wins Nobel Prize

This is a great choice for the Nobel Peace Prize:

Bangladeshi economist Muhammad Yunus accepted the Nobel Peace Prize on Sunday, saying he hoped the award would inspire "bold initiatives" to fight poverty and eradicate the root causes of terrorism.

Yunus, 66, shared the award with his Grameen Bank for helping people rise above poverty by giving them microcredit -- small, usually unsecured loans.

"I firmly believe that we can create a poverty free world if we collectively believe in it," Yunus said after accepting the prize at City Hall in Oslo, Norway. "The only place you would be able to see poverty is in a poverty museum."


Grameen Bank, set up in 1983, was the first lender to provide microcredit, giving very small loans to poor Bangladeshis who did not qualify for loans from conventional banks. No collateral is needed, and repayment is based on an honor system, with a nearly 100 percent repayment rate.

I have always loved the idea behind the Grameen bank, because it shows that capitalism isn't just Wal-Mart, that it can work for people at the grassroots, and that it isn't incompatible with community, trust and reaching out to those who have little experience in markets.

Posted by binky at 10:47 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

America's Kingdom by Robert Vitalis

For any of you interested in Saudi, ARAMCO, or the US-Saudi relationship, Robert Vitalis has a new book, America's Kingdom: Mythmaking on the Saudi Oil Frontier, that is getting rave reviews and much discussion over at Qahwa Sada. If it's a topic that interests you there are multiple threads discussing it over there, written by senior scholars.

What's the book about? While here's the basic rundown in the post Vitalis wrote:

America’s Kingdom is most basically about the organization of the labor process in the oil industry in Eastern Saudi Arabia during the time when the private U.S.-owned company known as ARAMCO was charge of exploration and production, starting in the 1930s. My book identifies the racist order built by ARAMCO in Dhahran and the other company campsites for what it is, a Jim Crow system, meaning that its white American executives pursued a purposeful, planned project of discrimination and forced segregation. I show that firms generally in the U.S. mining industry organized the labor process in this way in, among other places, what was then Indian territory, Arizona, “New” Mexico, and so on, beginning in the 1860s and 1870s in the copper industry, and, a decade or two later in the newly emerging oil industry, and when American oil firms move beyond the Caribbean Basin (Mexico, Trinidad, Colombia, Venezuela) and start to explore for oil in the Gulf and its surroundings.

At stake was what I call the “racial wage.” All firms paid miners, drillers, and other skilled and unskilled labor different wages according to race. And ending the racial wage became the issue that pitted the subordinate races against not only the white owners and managers but also the privileged caste of workers in strike after strike across the nineteenth and early twentieth century. The full panoply of Jim Crow institutions—segregated housing, differential access to services, let alone the degradation and humiliation of white supremacist thought—worked to buttress the labor control regime. The system was exported everywhere U.S. firms went, although it has not been noticed anywhere by anyone writing about oil in the past few decades, with one important exception. The historian Miguel Tinker Salas has been working on a similar project in the case of the Creole (Exxon’s subsidiary) camps in Maracaibo, Venezuela, when oil exploration began there in the 1920s.

I also explain the causes for, in this case, the halting and partial steps to dismantle the Jim Crow order inside the kingdom, which happens during the brief moment of a Saudi labor movement in the 1950s and what I call an incipient challenge to the hierarchy of the camps, the world oil market, and American hegemony launched for different reasons by a set of progressives in government and their allies in the royal family. It is a remarkable, wholly forgotten moment in modern Saudi Arabian history. In the last chapter of my book I tell the sad story of the end of this moment—a Saudi “revolution” is how more than one observer at the time referred to it—and the creation of what I call America’s Kingdom—consolidation of the power of the coalition known as the House of Fahd, which still rules today.

As to what made policies move, or prevented policies from moving, Vitalis focuses heavily on "mythmaking".

Posted by armand at 09:15 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 09, 2006

Catching Up

Binky pointed out to me that we haven't done much on recent political stories (our bread and butter), concentrating mostly on music, infotainment and other sundries. While this is true, I suspect our excuse is related to the fact that the fall semester at WVU is ending, and (in what little time we have to blog) we prefer to think about fun things like music, movies and other (not the depressing state of politics).

So; you want political commentary? (I don't have many links for these - you can find them if you want, or if you demand them in the comments I'll go hunting.)

1. The ISG report came out (see Belgravia for a mulit-part series discussing exerpts). The report recommends: reduce our expectations, talk to Syria and Iran, and try to put less religious figures in power in Iraq. These recommendations are very well intentioned, reasonable, and logical. They are also pretty much DOA because (a) the situation on the ground in Iraq has gone beyond bad and (b) the Prez had already rejected these ideas. Thus, things will continue to get worse. How much worse, nobody knows (if you believe this guy, much, much worse).

2. The Republican Party, continuing it's spiral to assholeness (if not, hopefully, oblivion), has saddled the incoming Democrats with the responsibility of passing 11 of 13 appropriation bills that fund the day-to-day activites of the Federal government. All appropration bills are ugly: they contain pork and earmarks that no one likes to see. By pushing this off to the Democratic Congress, the Republicans hope to be able to start complaining about their faults earlier than usual. It may work (complaining about Congress isn't hard), but the Republicans remain assholes. Perhaps others may forget, but I won't (expect to see me discuss this heavily as the new Congress begins).

3. While no one seems to know exactly what happened, the best-guess is that the Russian FSR (successor to the KGB) whacked a critic of Putin with radioactive poison in London. While whacking critics of Putin inside Russia isn't really unusual, killing people outside of Russia is somewhat more direct and disturbing. I'll go on record as predicting that Russia will get less democratic before they get more democratic (if ever), and won't be surprised if Putin either changes or ignores the Russian Constitution that forbids him from running again.

4. The new SecDef (Gates) sailed through hearings in the Senate, and was confirmed almost unanimously (the only negative votes were from some die-hard Republicans). While I certainly hope that removing Rumsfeld will improve any aspect of Iraq or general US military policy, put me on record as somewhat skeptical of the new SecDef. Gates isn't a Washington heavyweight (in the mould of a James Baker, a Rumsfeld, or a Kissenger), and i'm unsure if he will have enough clout to make sufficient change at the Pentagon. The goes double if Bush won't back him up (actually, it goes more than double: Gates is dead in the water if Bush won't back up whatever changes he wants to make).

5. In little noticed news, the idiotic Republicans broke 40-odd years of precedent and passed a treaty with India that gives them US nuclear fuel, even though they are not signatories of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Thus, India is bound by no treaty to refrain from turning US nuclear fuel into bombs. While I'm not thrilled with this deal with India, I can sort of live with it (I don't see India as a threat to proliferate the bombs or the techology to other states). The problem is the precedent this creates for negotiations with other states. I'll be very curious to see what Pakistan or Egypt asks for in the next few years (prediction: nothing good).

6. Recent photographs of Jose Padilla surfaced, courtesy of his lawyers, that showed him being transfered within the prison (from his normal cell to the infirmary). He was shackled, had noise-cancelling earphones on, and blacked-out goggles. Associated reports (again, from his lawyers) argue that his 3.5 years of solitary confinment (with associated loud-noise and sleep-deprivation torture) have more-or-less caused him to go insane (the lawyers are calling it "unable to participate in his own legal defense"). Remember: Padilla has never been convicted of any crime, and the most serious accusations against him (the dirty bomb charge) are not anywhere apart of the actual legal charges he faces. I think Andrew Sullivan had some sort of quote that noted that the death of habeus corpus (a legal tradition in Western society dating back over 800 years) was greeted with silence by the right-wing blogosphere. My only contribution is to note that the Main Stream Media seems to be complicit in that silence, as well.

7. Various Democrats (Clinton, Obama, some dude from Oklahoma (Vilsack?), and a few others) and various Republicans (Romney, McCain, Thompson, Brownback (shooting for the insanity vote, I guess), etc.) are manuvering to run for President in 2008. I'm having a great deal of difficulty getting excited by this.

8. After much delay, Pelosi has chosen the head of House Intelligence. While he does know the difference between Sunni and Shiite (a step up from the Republican), he does not know which Islamic sect Al Qaeda is. This is progress?

If anyone wants to argue about any of this, let me know in comments and I'll be glad to provide either some sort of linkage, or to help you understand why your opposing position is wrong. All part of our public service.

Posted by baltar at 11:10 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Dollar Bill Jefferson Reelected!?!

Over at MyDD they are reporting that channel 8 in New Orleans is calling the US House race for the gay-hating, bribe-taking incumbent. I'm appalled - though not really surprised.

And in other bad political news from Louisiana, in the state senate race in Baton Rouge "movement" Republican Bill Cassidy is far ahead of much-better Republican Bill Daniel in early returns.

I've got to say it's nights like this I'm really happy I don't live in either one of those cities any more. And of course it's nights like this that also make me seriously wonder about the future of New Orleans.

Posted by armand at 09:53 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Birth of Frasier

It almost starred Lisa Kudrow?

Just for Ryan, and any other big Frasier fans who read us, I'm going to take a second to point out that over on Ken Levine's blog there have been three long posts this week detailing how that classic sitcom was created. A unique feature of that creation was the degree to which the show's creators got a remarkably little interference from the network in designing the show. I wonder if there's any lesson there? I mean I know we're dealing with a N of 1, but ...

Posted by armand at 01:44 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

The Dozens of Songs Up for Oscar Consideration

I guess Binky should be afraid, "You Know My Name" is on the (lengthy) list. Does anyone have anything to say about any of these? I suppose I've heard a few of them but the only ones that I could identify are that song from Casino Royale, the Ben Folds songs from Over the Hedge and, of course, the song from Borat.

Posted by armand at 10:11 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 08, 2006

This totally needs to be on a IR blog

No offense to Pharyngula, of course.

Posted by binky at 06:43 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

This is the blog post I thought about writing today...

...but Farley did a better job than I would have with my lack of focus.

Posted by binky at 06:13 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Having Fun With a Nancy Meyers Movie

I bet you thought it couldn't be done, right? Well, the snark potential they raise is of course enormous, and this take on The Holiday is hilarious (though the film itself sounds predictably dreadful).

Not since sitting through Love Actually have I wanted to put my foot through a cinema screen as much as I did watching this horribly contrived, abysmally acted, bloated and self-important romcom ... The Holiday finds Meyers once again peddling a curiously reactionary view of female self-empowerment that she seems to have cut-and-pasted into the script from a glossy women's magazine article. The result is a film that insists women are smart and independent and able to live without men, yet provides no evidence of this on screen, preferring instead to reduce them to emotionally unstable and histrionic mewling morons who blame the opposite sex for all their problems yet still seek their approval.

Posted by armand at 12:06 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 07, 2006

Gnarls is the Only Correct Choice

In case you've had a lobotomy and actually care who the Grammy nominees are ...

Wow. There's a lot of crap out there. Award-worthy crap? Eh ... it's the Grammys. And who knew Elvis Costello and Lionel Richie were still working? Well, I so don't care about these, but if this respected body (cough) hopes to have any credibility whatsoever, they better throw multiple awards at Gnarls Barkley. I mean what else could even be considered for Record of the Year? But it is the Grammys, so you never know ...

Final thought - How in the hell are The Pussycat Dolls up against Death Cab for Cutie? You'd think The Black Eyed Peas would beat them both for the award, but that's not the point. To me comparing the Dolls and DCFC ... just contemplating how to begin to process such a comparison I feel like my brain my fall right out of my head or explode or something. What the hell?

Posted by armand at 03:28 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


As a general rule one should beware films that are autobiographical works created by a writer/director. The slo-mo's added for emotional impact, the usual dinner-table drama, the shots of the still natural landscape surrounding the intra-family turmoil. Done. To. Death. That said, there's no reason that something that's not all that new or inventive can't also have its entertaining moments, and so it is with this film which the writer/director (the actor Richard E. Grant) based on his youth in Swaziland. On the whole, I probably wouldn've give it more than a "6". It's not bad. But it's not wow-inducing either. It's perfectly fine, and if you are in the mood to watch the family drama surrounding a teen in the waning days of the Empire in Swaziland ...

And hey, it has one big thing going for it, and that's some great acting. The young man at the center of the action (who played Marcus in the wonderful About a Boy) is fine, but the people who really stand out are some of the women around him (I have little positive to say about Gabriel Byrne's hammy acting as his dangerously drunken father). Emily Watson and Julie Walters are both marvelous, wonderful, you really can't say enough good things about them. They are terrific. So if you are fans of either or both of them (and how can you not be?) you'll certainly enjoy at least parts of this movie.

Posted by armand at 12:37 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 06, 2006

The Destruction of Halifax

Another thing has been added to the list of things Armand did not know - the night after "the largest bomb in human history" exploded, wrecking the city of Halifax, Nova Scotia, a blizzard struck, trapping people in the rubble. There are cruel twists of fate, and then there are ... well, things that are even worse.

Posted by armand at 05:20 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


It's dead week, and 27 degrees, and I've been up every day at the ass crack of dawn grading. Rather than growl at everyone I'm just staying away for a couple of days.

Posted by binky at 06:48 AM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

December 05, 2006

Wesley Clark was NOT a Bad Candidate

Steve Benen is challenging the convetional wisdom that Wesley Clark was a bad candidate in 2004.

After the Iowa caucuses, which Clark chose not to compete in, the four main Democratic candidates — Kerry, Dean, Clark, and Edwards — met in eight primaries. Kerry won six and effectively wrapped up the nomination in the first week of February 2004. But taking a closer look, Clark did pretty well, particularly if you compare him to Edwards.

In those eight primaries, Clark finished ahead of Edwards in five (AZ, NH, NM, ND, and OK), while Edwards bettered Clark is just three of the eight (DE, MO, and SC). If you include Iowa, Clark still outperformed Edwards in five of the first nine contests.

In fact, in those first eight post-Iowa primaries, if we look only at top-two finishes (candidates who came in either first or second), Kerry had seven, Clark had four, Edwards had three, and Dean had one.

But the media was unimpressed. A day after Clark and Edwards each won their first primaries, and Clark outperformed Edwards in a majority of the mini-Super Tuesday contests, news outlets praised Edwards and dismissed Clark. Salon, for example, ran a major feature, taking a look at the race for the nomination. The headline: "And then there were two." A big picture accompanied the article with Kerry and Edwards. The article said Clark "posted disappointing numbers in the seven-state primary" and "may not be long for the game." Again, this was a day after Clark actually did slightly better than Edwards.

I also recall that Clark delivered a pretty solid speech at the DNC that year, widely considered one of the better speeches of the convention.

I strongly agree. Clark's gotten a bad rap. His problem in 2004 was quite simple - he got in the race far, far too late. Given the giant hole that put him in regarding resources (moeny and personnel) and name ID I think his results were rather impressive.

Posted by armand at 02:21 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Baltar's Best of 2006

If anyone cares, I suppose these are my "best of 2006" music selections. I say "suppose" because I've never really thought of which is better or worse, but I certainly have ones that I've played more than others. These are the ones I've played more than others. I've sort of vaguely put them in order from best to worse, but don't hold me to specific rankings.

"The Fox Confessor Brings the Flood" by Neko Case (March, 2006)

"The Crane Wife" by The Decemberists (October, 2006)

"Boys and Girls in America" by The Hold Steady (October, 2006)

"The Fall of Ideals" by All That Remains (July, 2006)

"Begin to Hope" by Regina Spektor (June, 2006)

"Game Theory" by The Roots (August, 2006)

"As Daylight Dies" by Killswitch Engage (November, 2006)

"Kezia" by Protest the Hero (April, 2006)

"Night Ripper" by Girl Talk (May 2006)

"Blood Mountain" by Mastodon (September, 2006)

"Fishscale" by Ghostface Killah (March, 2006)

Further down on the list, but worthy of mention, is Tool ("10,000"), Iron Maiden ("A Matter of Life and Death"), Drive by Truckers ("A Blessing and a Curse"; not their best, but still better than most everybody else), and CSS ("Cansei de Ser Sexy").

There was also a bunch of crap out this year, but we don't have to talk about that.

Posted by baltar at 01:36 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

December 04, 2006

The Anthony Kennedy Blue-Plate Special

Looks like those school desegregation plans that were before the Supreme Court today are going to get knocked down - and hard - in a 5-4 vote.

After relaying the blow-by-blow of this particular debate, Dahlia Lithwick launches into an analysis of (many would argue) the most powerful judge in the United States (and therefore, the world?):

He looks like he is about to write an opinion that says there is a compelling state interest in desegregating schools but that the systems in Louisville and Seattle give him the heebie-jeebies. He will add that he looks forward to some future hypothetical case in which some school district somehow remedies racial imbalances without accounting for race.

This brand of jurisprudence is the Kennedy blue-plate special. He is officially waiting for the perfect facts before he decides environmental cases, racial gerrymandering cases, and possibly voluntary desegregation cases, too. He'll agree with the liberals in theory, agree with the conservatives in specifics, and nobody will know what to do about anything.

Posted by armand at 10:03 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Supreme Court Justices as Rock Stars: Is Antonin Scalia Meat Loaf, Bruce Dickinson, or ... Who?

This is hilarious. And some of the comments are pretty funny too. And scarily enough, some of these thoughts get at these justice's styles a little too well.

Posted by armand at 01:19 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 03, 2006

The Presidential Ratings Continue - Bush is No Polk

So it seems like everyone is writing about presidential rankings this weekend. And if you want to read yet more on the subject, this comments thread contains some interesting thoughts. There are some points in there about Jackson (who've I've long considered overrated) and Wilson (a case is made that he's the worst ever) and the notion of presidential rankings themselves that are worth considering.

Posted by armand at 11:06 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

They're Watching You! (Private Sector Version)

This time, it's the MPAA, which used its clout to kill a bill that would have protected people from having their private information used and/or stolen. The reason? The MPAA said it would interfere with their investigations into piracy.

Excuse me?

They "need to pose as someone other than who [they] are to stop illegal downloading," according to a source quoted in the article.

Pardon me for questioning the MPAA - the geniuses who brought us PG-13 and other movie ratings logics that give a blessing to genital torture but not tits - but don't we have, you know, police and FBI and Interpol to deal with things like this? We get reminded of it in those non-fastforwardable sections on every DVD. And their powers wouldn't be eliminated by this bill, which would have given individuals the right to seek financial redress if their information was stolen and used.

What exactly is the MPAA up to? Am I going to have to write them a love letter too?

Posted by binky at 03:40 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Was the Korean War Hard to Avoid?

Micheal Lind's entry in to the "just how bad is George W. Bush?" discussion rates the current president as the fifth worst ever (after Buchanan, Andrew Johnson, Nixon and Madison). A key part of this rating stems from Bush waging an unnecessary and costly war. Over the course of describing those terms Lind remarks that Truman shouldn't be hurt by a low rating because Korea was "necessary or hard to avoid".

Hold on a minute there. Was that true of the war itself? Sure. Was that true of how the war was managed? I really don't think so. Maybe Baltar or one of the rest of our war-oriented readers could enlighten us on this, but it strikes me that the start of the Korean war was terribly mismanaged - in a way that led to a vastly worse and more bloody conflict than needed to take place. And as the trauma and costs that that put upon us led us to act in rigid, extremely costly ways later on (see Vietnam) - how are Truman's actions that made things worse later on any different than Buchanan's inactions that made things worse later on (and no, I'm not equating the Korean and Civil Wars, just following the logic of the point)?

I tend to put Truman's popularity and revived historical standing down to David McCullough's popularity and winning way with a pen. Am I being unfair? Did Truman not botch the early period of the Korean War as badly as I think? Was the Chinese involvement - and the following bloodbath and years-long stalemate - inevitable?

Posted by armand at 12:04 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

41-39 in Triple Overtime

Great googly moogly! Mountaineers win!

Posted by binky at 01:13 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

George W. Bush, the Herbert Hoover of Our Time

Douglas Brinkley takes a whack at the "worst president ever?" question.

Posted by armand at 12:12 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 02, 2006

Now this is getting a little interesting...

Oh yeah, my Gators just beat Arkansas. Whaddaya say, Armand?

Posted by binky at 09:56 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

"Our father is dying, and that's sad..."

"...even though we want him to go."

Posted by binky at 08:09 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

James Bond Songs - The Weirdest Oscar Snub Ever?

I just became aware of what's quite possibly the weirdest thing I've ever heard about who's won Oscars - or, rather, who hasn't won Oscars. Did you know that no James Bond theme song has ever won an Oscar? Given how well known many of them are (ok, not so much the songs from the last 10-15 years, but before then), the fact that musically many of them really are classics of their genres, and that many have been sung by big names - how on Earth did this occur? A few have been nominated of course (including "Nobody Does It Better" and "For Your Eyes Only" - the latter leading to perhaps the biggest and most over the top production number in the entire history of Oscar telecasts), but not a single one has ever won. Can Chris Cornell's "You Know My Name" beat that jinx? Hell, can it even get nominated?

Posted by armand at 05:44 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Worst President Ever?

Eric Foner makes the case for George W. Bush being a uniquely awful president. Why is he so bad? He has an unfortunate tendency to act in ways that pull together the worst tendencies of all the worst presidents that have come before him.

Posted by armand at 04:30 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Long Legged People are Suspicious

So the last post was a joke, but this one is sadly real. From a CNN video story (no link, sorry) about the data being collected on anyone who travels. Among other pieces of information, including where a person travels and if the ticket is one way, they are gathering data that leads them to believe that people with small bladders and long legs are more likely to be terrorists.

Posted by binky at 03:58 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

They're Watching You!

Really! And you can see what's on your record. Just enter your name here.

Posted by binky at 03:06 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Saturday Time Waster With a Cool Format

There's something off about this quiz:

But maybe it's because I haven't dated in well over a decade.

Via the StealthBadger.

Posted by binky at 12:24 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Bill Jefferson - Running as the "Values" Candidate

Should we be surprised? I mean where does bribery and naked self-interest really stack up on the list of "conservatives'" concerns when there's human cloning to be stopped. Oh, and he's also running to protect people from the gays. Jefferson's ad basically makes him the dream candidate of the Eagle Forum (well, if a black man could be their dream candidate ...).

Posted by armand at 10:17 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Woody Allen has long been uneven. Consider that the truly excellent Crimes and Misdemeanors and Husbands and Wives bookend the awful Alice and Shadows and Fog. But at least back in the 1980's and the 1990's Allen produced some very good, highly enjoyable works to balance out his misses (and when Allen misses, he can really miss). Sadly lately Allen fans (and I'd still count myself among them as his great works are great) have had to suffer through little but misses. The 1990's ended with Celebrity and Sweet and Lowdown and you can make an argument that Allen hasn't produced anything at even that level since (those were enjoyable, but not up there with his best work). Match Point was the best of his works since 1999 ... but since he's made 7 movies since 1999, and since they include some awful bombs, that's not the highest of praise (though Jonathan Rhy Meyers was very good in Match Point).

Why am I going into this? Well this week's Netflix movie for me was Allen's Scoop. And remember a couple of sentences ago when I said "awful bombs" ... This movie is lame, ridiculous, tiresome, not remotely engrossing ... I guess one could make an argument that it's not as gratingly bad as a couple of his other recent works (Anything Else and Small Time Crooks), but when a movie is making you long for The Curse of the Jade Scorpion (yep, Scoop's much worse than that), something is very wrong here. And it seems that Allen's work will never again reach the heights of Annie Hall, Manhattan and The Purple Rose of Cairo. Hell, at this rate we'll be fortunate if he returns to the "heights" of Celebrity.

Can I find anything nice to say about this movie? Hmmm - Hugh Jackman looks very good in Diesel jeans, it's nice to see Fenella Woolgar for a few seconds ... that's pretty much it. The rest of it is completely forgetable.

Posted by armand at 09:39 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

It's Election Day for Canada's Liberals

They believe they are electing the man who will become prime minister after the (expected) 2007 elections. And after a disappointing first ballot, it's looking more and more like that man might not be front-runner Michael Ignatieff. His 29% of the ballots far exceeds the totals posted by his rivals - but it's below expectations.

Posted by armand at 08:43 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

December 01, 2006

George Will, Not Just Pompous - Also Disingenuous and Manipulative

So Baltar and I have already whacked the George Will column that's seemingly a minor and petty swat at Senator-elect Webb's civility. But in doing so, we probably let Will off too easily, because we were likely too quick to support the impression of Will as nothing more than a Broder acolyte who lives in his own dull little fantasyland of a DC where civility is the be all and end all of DC politics.

Sadly, Will's a much more toxic presence in the DC political debates than that. Because while he might indeed be a too tightly wound prig - he's also got a nasty habit of engaging in partisan manipulation. And as Steve Benen notes here, Will's column engaged in some highly selective editing (and that's the nice way of putting it - it could also be accurate to say that Will's something of a liar, when it comes to his version of events) of the exchange between Webb and the president. And as the Benen link notes, it's not the first time Will has, uh, "selectively edited" a transcript to make a Democrat look bad. So it appears that the Will piece is indeed both of the things I mentioned before - 1) whiney pouting over a perceived breach of propriety/supplication before "The Decider", and 2) an aggressive and unfair hit piece against a brand new Democratic senator, who hasn't even been sworn in yet.

Posted by armand at 04:46 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Democracy Marches On

Via Iraq Updates, a Reuters story:

Iraq's parliament will bar the media from future sessions and began yesterday by refusing access to reporters and then cutting off television coverage as a debate on mounting sectarian violence became heated.

Spokesmen for the government and parliament said it was part of efforts, newly agreed by Iraq's National Security Council, to stop political leaders contradicting each other in public and prevent media coverage that was deemed to inflame conflicts.

"If there is any tension in the state, then the media should be kept out because it may increase tension," speaker Mahmoud Al Mashadani told lawmakers in a televised session after dozens of journalists were barred from the building by security guards.

When one lawmaker rose to object, Al Mashhadani, from the Sunni minority, ordered the cameras turned off, effectively shutting off public access to a legislature whose election was held up by the United States as a beacon for democracy in the Middle East.

No transcript is published and journalists and members of the public have always been barred from the chamber itself.

To summarize: the Iraqi parliament has (since it's inception, I guess) kept no transcripts of their actions, and members of the public could not attend to see what their government was doing (thought they could watch it on TV). Since that limited degree of democracy was seen as contributing to a civil war, the parliment has decided to ban the media from covering parliment based on the logic that displaying the leadership contradicting each other "inflamed" the conflict. Thus, the media has been banned from covering the Iraqi legislature. Just to make sure people understand this, the Iraqi parliment cut off media coverage of the debate over whether the media should be allowed to cover parliment.

If irony isn't dead, it's sure laying broken and bloody on the ground.

Posted by baltar at 09:01 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack