June 30, 2008

Isn't that the fucking truth

No word on exactly where teachers fall on the graph.

Posted by binky at 07:40 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Swiftboating McCain?

Oh please. As if. That's what Andrew Sullivan is calling General Clark's patently obvious assertion that getting shot down during the Vietnam War doesn't qualify you for the presidency. The media has blasted Clark, similarly clueless and seemingly unable to process the words in the English language that he actually said. Sadly, the Obama campaign has joined in on the Clark bashing.

Look, there's nothing remotely controversial in noting that McCain's service in Vietnam tells us little about whether or not he's prepared to be president today. You can both respect his service then, and say it doesn't make him qualified to be president. In fact that's what Clark actually said. Sullivan, the media, and of course the McCain campaign though seem intent on twisting Clark's words - and of course in the process ignoring the quite reasonable, and important, point he was making.

Posted by armand at 05:14 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Mike Allen on the Latest Republican Veep Buzz

Here. Romney's the favorite, though McCain doesn't like him. Also in the first tier are Portman and Thune (talk about your empty suit, though I guess he is a relatively hunky empty suit - and far right). Second tier? That'd be Ridge, Crist, Pawlenty and Cantor. To me Cantor makes more sense than Thune if you are looking for a strongly conservative, youngish, party loyalist. Well, at least Cantor has risen to the top of the House Republicans in a surprisingly short time. Aside from beating Daschle (in strongly Republican South Dakota), what's Thune ever done?

Posted by armand at 10:38 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

And However The Hell Many Years After It Went On The Air, FoxNews Has Done It's Job

From a story in today's WaPo:

On the television in his living room, Peterman has watched enough news and campaign advertisements to hear the truth: Sen. Barack Obama, born in Hawaii, is a Christian family man with a track record of public service. But on the Internet, in his grocery store, at his neighbor's house, at his son's auto shop, Peterman has also absorbed another version of the Democratic candidate's background, one that is entirely false: Barack Obama, born in Africa, is a possibly gay Muslim racist who refuses to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.

Does he choose to trust a TV commercial in which Obama talks about his "love of country"? Or his neighbor of 40 years, Don LeMaster, a Navy veteran who heard from a friend in Toledo that Obama refuses to wear an American-flag pin?

Does he trust a local newspaper article that details Obama's Christian faith? Or his friend Leroy Pollard, a devoted family man so convinced Obama is a radical Muslim that he threatened to stop talking to his daughter when he heard she might vote for him?

"I'll admit that I probably don't follow all of the election news like maybe I should," Peterman said. "I haven't read his books or studied up more than a little bit. But it's hard to ignore what you hear when everybody you know is saying it. These are good people, smart people, so can they really all be wrong?"

Yes. Yes, they can be all wrong.

I don't think Barack Obama is the second coming of Christ (or JFK); neither, however, is he Satan (or Mohamed). However, the fact that 1 in 10 Americans think that Obama is a (practicing) Muslim is not only disturbing but downright frightening.

FoxNews (and the related mindset found in all right-wing media) has managed to drive a factual wedge through this country. I can live with the ideological wedge; but when people believe things that are just plain wrong, how do you convince them otherwise?

It's going to be a long, sad election.

Posted by baltar at 10:33 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 29, 2008

We Need More Rita Skeeter

So don't ask me why this is occurring to me tonight since Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince doesn't come out until Thanksgiving, but I think one of the real missed opportunities of the films has been underutilizing Miranda Richardson. I think she's one of the best actresses working today, and her take on the malicious reporter Rita Skeeter has been hilarious. It's too bad she hasn't been a bigger part of the films.

Posted by armand at 08:53 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

US House Members Endangered in Summer Primaries

So far this year 3 members of the House have lost their bids for renomination to another term in Congress (2 in Maryland, 1 in Utah). Here CQ runs down more intra-party campaigns that could derail the hopes of several more incumbent members of Congress. I'm particularly worried about Steve Cohen in Tennessee.

Posted by armand at 02:58 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Definitely, Maybe and The Swimming Pool

Definitely don't. Since I saw the preview something like a dozen times, and since I like Reynolds, Weisz and Banks, I decided to give Definitely, Maybe a try. Bad idea. It gets points for getting the music of various parts of the 90's right (like "Unbelievable"), but it's a bore with nothing in particular to recommend it.

As to La Piscine (The Swimming Pool), well, it's better. But then how can watching a passionate Alain Delon and Romy Schneider hang around a pool near the Riviera in the 1960's not come with some pluses? On the whole it's not really all that interesting. But perhaps it's fitting for a slow, sunny summer afternoon.

Posted by armand at 02:39 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 28, 2008


It's blowing far past its estimated box office, and I can see why. Is it a "good" movie? Eh, no, I suppose not really. But I had a great time watching it. It's fun and quick, light on plot, and with an engaging starring turn by James McAvoy. And an appealing McAvoy surrounded by quick effects, a hitwoman played by Angelina Jolie, and Morgan Freeman playing another wise, authority figure ... is it any surprise the US would like it? I'd say it has one set piece that goes off the rails (ba-dum-ching!). But other than that - it's fun, Jolie is sexy, and I like McAvoy more and more with each passing second (which is not a minor compliment, as I've liked him enormously for years).

Posted by armand at 05:26 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

June 27, 2008

Problems With Giving the Death Penalty to Child Rapists

I've got to say that I agree with Matt Yglesias that as a matter of crime control policy, punishing child rapists with execution seems to be a bad idea if you actually want to save the lives of children. Additionally, it's bizarre (if completely understandable in our puritanical, sex-obsessed culture) that our laws would treat that as the worse thing that can be done to a child. Worse can be done, and often those that do such things get relatively little short sentences.

Posted by armand at 03:40 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Scalia sighting

I'm most of the way through Nixonland, and happened upon this paragraph:

(Part of a section describing Nixon's non-public actions to help secure his re-election in 1972)

"Meanwhile there were the broadcast networks to flay - four of them, now that PBS, which unlike the other was relatively free of the need to placate corporate sponsors, had matured into a fearless news powerhouse. The White House's Office of Telecommunications Policy was crafting a public broadcasting bill. OTP general counsel Antonin Scalia had drafted a series of memos on how the Corporation for Public Broadcasting might be made a more pliant vassal of the White House. "The best possibility for White House influence is through the Presidential appointees to the Board of Directors, " he wrote; the best way to shed the influence of "the liberal Establishment of the Northeast" would be to strengthen local stations at the expense of the national organization. Such subtleties were all well and good until Richard Nixon read in his news summary that Sander Vanocur, late of NBC, who'd been a Nixon bete noire since the 1960 presidential debates, was slated to co anchor a new PBS newsmagazine. Nixon issued a blunt dictate: "all funds for Public Broadcasting to be cut immediately."

A few comments: (1) Scalia worked in Public Broadcasting? (2) He worked in the Nixon Whitehouse and somehow still managed confirmation? (3) Nixon was a seriously crazy bastard.

Full review coming.

Posted by baltar at 02:42 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

McCain Wanting to Kick Russia Out of the G8 - Even Dumber Than It Sounds

Gotta agree with Hilzoy here.

Kicking Russia out would be dumb. Trying to kick Russia out when you can't even make good on your word adds a whole new layer of dumbness. When it would anger someone were you to try to do something, and you can't actually do that thing, then unless you actually want to make them mad, the wisest course is to just shut up about it.
Posted by armand at 01:09 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Luck Named to WVU's Board of Governors

Earlier this week Charles Vest, President Emeritus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was named to the BOG. The new member announced today is a former WVU and Houston Oilers' QB, Oliver Luck. He's currently President/General Manager of the Houston Dynamo Soccer Franchise.

Posted by armand at 12:33 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 26, 2008

Rick Hasen on FEC v. Davis

His initial thoughts conclude with this observation:

All in all, not a great day for those who believe, as I do, that "there is no good reason to allow disparities in wealth to be translated into disparities in political power. A well-functioning democracy distinguishes between market processes of purchase and sale on the one hand and political processes of voting and reason-giving on the other." (Dissent, quoting Sunstein 94 Colum. L. Rev 1390).
Posted by armand at 11:24 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

First Radishes

Once again it's the radish that wins the race for first edible crop. This time I tried using both pods and leaves. The latter went into a quick saute with some onions and collards (from the store), with butter and salt. The internets claimed that a quick saute in olive oil would "crisp up" the pods, but that was not the case at all, and the spicy flavor was considerably diminished. I think next time I will just toss them into a salad, or serve them in a cute little dish with some cheese and crackers as an app. They are too crunchy/zesty to destroy with heat. Unless perhaps a light beer batter...

Posted by binky at 12:26 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 25, 2008

The Cast of G.I. Joe (2009)

Okay, I had largely ignored the fact that a movie version of G.I. Joe was being made. I mean I knew it was, but figured it'd be a total mess devoid of any value. But the cast has suddenly put this on my must-see list. Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Cobra Commander? The Doctor, I mean Christopher Eccleston, as Destro? I am so all about that. Joe Reid offers his thoughts on the cast (including the terrible missed opportunity of the casting of the Baroness) here.

Oh, and no Xomat and Tomax? That's disappointing.

Posted by armand at 06:17 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Kennedy v. Louisiana

I know little about con law issues tied to the 8th Amendment, or variations in the historical application of the death penalty. But I agree with John Cole that the level of outrage over this decision is perplexing, and with Publius that death makes sense as a bright-line rule when it comes to when to apply capital punishment. I also agree with Scott Lemieux that Alito's argument about state legislators bowing down before dicta from past Supreme Court opinions is close to absurd. State legislators regularly pass laws that they are quite sure fly in the face of long-established Supreme Court precedents, much less dicta.

UPDATE: After reading the opinion, Publius changes his mind. He considers it a sloppy decision, and wrong.

Posted by armand at 05:56 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Over $80 Million for a Late Monet

Yes, it's a pretty painting, apparently it's an important painting, and sure, Roman Abramovich (the rumored buyer) has lots of money. But over $80 million? I guess this is a sign that there's still a big market for the masters of Impressionism.

Posted by armand at 05:49 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 24, 2008

Restoring the River of Grass

The state is spending $1.7 billion to buy agricultural land and let it return to the Everglades. This isn't the only thing that needs to be done, but it's a huge step in the right direction.

Posted by binky at 10:18 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Snitty McSnittersons

My bible! mine!

Posted by binky at 02:15 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

"It's Vetting Time!" - Ambinder Looks at the Veep Selection Process

This is a nice article on what goes into how a presidential campaign selects a vice presidential nominee. And if you read all the way to the end, there are some educated guesses about who seems to be on the short lists at the moment, and the processes the McCain and Obama campaigns are using to guide their selections. As to possible picks, for Obama Kaine, Sebelius, Webb and Napolitano are among the names. Pawlenty still seems the most obvious choice by the McCain campaign.

Posted by armand at 11:43 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Ding Dong Joe Bruno is Gone

New York's #1 obstructionist is out of office, apparently immediately. If you know anything about Albany you know the head of the Senate has enormous power, and Bruno has used it to block a lot of stuff progressives have sought (perhaps more notably more gay rights legislation). I know nothing about his successor, but it'll be interesting to see what opportunities this opens up - and what the state may now approve.

Posted by armand at 10:13 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 23, 2008

Eric Martin on John Bolton, Regarding Iran

Yes, there does seem to be something missing from the logic of our former ambassador to the UN:

So let me see if I have this straight: A country that is supposedly so irrational, reckless and religiously fanatical that its leaders would be willing to countenance the end of its very existence (and that of its population) in order to carry out an unprovoked nuclear strike against Israel will be too cautious to retaliate against an actual attack on its country for fear of economic hardship and conventional military counterattacks?

In other words, Bolton is arguing that Iran's leadership is comprised of rational actors with well-honed instincts for self-preservation capable of applying a typical - conservative even - cost-benefit calculus. Except we have to bomb them because the opposite is true. Or something.

Posted by armand at 12:59 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Will Heller Come Down on Wednesday?

Following this morning's opinions Tom Goldstein noted the following:

The only opinion remaining from the March sitting is Heller. The only Justice without a majority opinion from that sitting is Justice Scalia

Is Morris smiling?

Here's a handy reminder of what to watch for in the Supreme Court's biggest gun case in many years.

Posted by armand at 10:38 AM | Comments (16) | TrackBack


So yesterday I finally got around to watching Anton Corbijn's Control, a film about the life of Ian Curtis, based on a book written by his widow. It's a great-looking film. Corbijn and everyone involved in the cinematography and photography did very fine work. I'm more than happy to sing its praises on that score. But as to the rest of the film ... Well, I'd say I liked the movie, for the look if nothing else. But there wasn't much in terms of plot or dialogue. Curtis lounges shirtless. Curtis marries Debbie (Samantha Morton). Curtis works in an employment agency. He joins a band (which eventually becomes Joy Division, and then New Order after his death). Curtis suffers from epilepsy. He spirals into depression and isolation as the band gets more and more successful. He has a long-lasting affair, while his wife is stuck at home with their baby. He's unhappy and eventually kills himself. Basically the film is him moping for a couple hours, with some performances by the band inserted here and there.

That might be overly critical. It's not that the screenplay is bad - but it's probably a fair bit longer than it needs to be. And while the look of the thing saved it for me, if you aren't into pretty, long black-and-white shots ...

Sam Riley received lots of praise for his work in the lead role. And I can sort of see it - he does mope well, he sings well, and he looks good shirtless. But there's not a ton for him to do, or at least not a lot of variation required of him. So while I sort of see the praise for him, I think some of it might've been a bit much in a few cases (I'm thinking in particular of Jeff Wells' rapturous comments about him on Hollywood Elsewhere). To me James Anthony Pearson is the actor who makes a mark. He didn't have a ton to do playing Bernard Sumner, but my eyes kept being drawn to him nonetheless. He did a lot with a little.

Posted by armand at 10:22 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 22, 2008

Religion and Academics

While less religious than the general public, academics are still mostly religious. I'm not so sure about this though (emphasis mine):

It also reinforces my argument that academics' unfavorable views of Evangelical Christians and Mormons are mostly due to hostility to these groups' conservative political ideologies rather than a generalized antagonism to religion as such.

It would be interesting to correlate childhood factors with subsequent attitudes. Of course, I am thinking "were the people who are anti-religion now raised with religion then. " That strikes me as a good cause for future rejection (intimate experience, familiarity breeding contempt, what have you).


Posted by binky at 11:57 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

And they say people are too suspicious...

Can you imagine the sheer amount of data? And how tempting it would be to crack the security? And the burden on small business?

Washington, DC - Hidden deep in Senator Christopher Dodd's 630-page Senate housing legislation is a sweeping provision that affects the privacy and operation of nearly all of America’s small businesses. The provision, which was added by the bill's managers without debate this week, would require the nation's payment systems to track, aggregate, and report information on nearly every electronic transaction to the federal government.

Call Congress and Tell Them to Oppose The eBay Reporting Provision in the Housing Bill: 1-866-928-3035

FreedomWorks Chairman Dick Armey commented: "This is a provision with astonishing reach, and it was slipped into the bill just this week. Not only does it affect nearly every credit card transaction in America, such as Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express, but the bill specifically targets payment systems like eBay's PayPal, Amazon, and Google Checkout that are used by many small online businesses. The privacy implications for America's small businesses are breathtaking."

"Privacy groups like the Center for Democracy and Technology and small business organizations like the NFIB sharply criticized this idea when it first appeared earlier this year. What is the federal government's purpose with this kind of detailed data? How will this database be secured, and who will have access? Many small proprietors use their Social Security number as their tax ID. How will their privacy be protected? What compliance costs will this impose on businesses? Why is Sen. Chris Dodd putting this provision in a housing bailout bill? The bill also includes the creation of a new national fingerprint registry for mortgage brokers.

"At a time when concerns about both identity theft and government spying are paramount, Congress wants to create a new honey pot of private data that includes Social Security numbers. This bill reduces privacy across America's payment processing systems and treats every American small business or eBay power seller like a criminal on parole by requiring an unprecedented level of reporting to the federal government. This outrageous idea is another reason to delay the housing bailout legislation so that Senators and the public at large have time to examine its full implications."


Posted by binky at 04:43 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

June 20, 2008

Walking Through the Ando Building in Williamstown

Ah, the lovely simplicity of High Modernism. This new building in Williamstown, MA isn't on as grand a scale was the museum in Fort Worth, but it's still a good representation of the work of one of Japan's leading architects.

Posted by armand at 12:36 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Summer Reading

I'm partway through Nixonland, and am liking it. Perlstein is trying to wind together a bunch of different strands (social, political, economic, generational, foreign policy, etc.) into a cohesive telling of the seismic shifts in American politics between 1966 and 1972. I'm not sure he's going to be able to pull it off, but it is fascinating reading. I'll have a full report when I'm done.

Anyone else reading anything interesting?

Posted by baltar at 11:39 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Stockard Channing and Martha Plimpton in the Same Show!?!

I know a lot of you don't like musicals, but with a cast like this I'd so be up for seeing this revival of Pal Joey.

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

June 19, 2008

Air Force Procurement Woes

Don't know if anyone else noticed this: the US Air Force is having a great deal of difficultly buying airplanes.

The Air Force needs some new air-to-air tankers. These are the boring, unglamorous planes that are necessary. They are big gas stations in the sky: they fly around and refuel all the other planes. Boring as shit, but necessary to move things (tanks, people, bombs, relief supplies) around the globe in this globalized age. The tankers the Air Force has are about 30 or 40 years old (converted 707s, if I remember correctly).

A few years back, the Air Force put out a proposal for new tankers. Big ticket items (replacing all the tankers was expected to cost $30 to $40 billion) takes years, so no one was surprised when it moved slowly. Eventually, the Air Force decided on a solution: lease them from Boeing. This seemed strange (leasing makes some financial sense for, say, cars when the company is buying them for you, but less so for weapons systems), so various governmental agencies (Congress, GAO) and other (press) started looking a bit closer. They discovered that the Pentagon officials were a bit to close to Boeing (the chief procurement officer retired from the Air Force and started work at Boeing just after the contract), and that the contract wasn't fair/balanced. They told the Air Force to do it over again.

That took a few more years. The competition came down to Boeing (again) and a strange consortium of Northrup-Grumman and Airbus (a European airplane manufacturer, who directly competes with Boeing for passenger-plane sales globally). No leasing this time: the US Air Force was going to buy $40 billion worth of new tankers. These are always strange "competitions" in that neither Boeing nor NG/Airbus had an actual real plane to show; the competition was of plans and proposals. The Air Force thought about this for a few years, and (bucking the patriotism vote) went with the NG/Airbus plan. Boeing squawked, cried foul, and asked a higher power (the GAO) to investigate.

The GAO report came out a few days ago. They said the Air Force had tipped the competitive scales towards NG/Airbus unfairly, and that the decision could have gone the other way (to Boeing) if the Air Force had actually played fair. The Air Force had no immediate comment, Boeing celebrated, and NG/Airbus was unhappy. The GAO result isn't legally binding on the Air Force (they could ignore it), but they'll likely do it over again.

Thus, the Air Force has twice failed to buy planes, and is looking at a third go-round for what amounts to a simple purchase (compared to other planes, a tanker isn't really complicated). The official Air Force response is days (or weeks) away, but certainly this looks bad for them. And showcases how screwed up the procurement system is (and always has been).

Just thought you might be interested.

Posted by baltar at 03:37 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Welcome Guest Poster

We'd like to extend a warm welcome to our first guest poster! Jacflash is not only one of the regular commenters around here, but an old and dear friend IRL. I'll let him share whatever information he wants to about himself and his writing, but I'll say that I'm looking forward to seeing what he has to offer since he is both wicked smart and ornery to boot.

Posted by binky at 10:48 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 18, 2008

The AFI's 10 Top 10 Lists

AFI took it upon themselves to list the top 10 films in 10 film genres. Predictably, some of those listed are highly questionable choices. Mystery though includes lots of great movies (hmm, I should really watch Laura again), so I guess that's the genre for me.

Posted by armand at 01:13 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

The New York Times Profiles Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI)

I so like this guy, and he's a great face for the party. It's good to see him finally get some attention. And yes, he should be on the Veep short-list.

Posted by armand at 09:19 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

June 17, 2008


I am quite sure that Morris and I saw this when we were in grade school. However, except for that weapon, I remember nothing about it. Others, it appears, know it by heart. If you miss the so bad they're good movies of the 1980's, and maybe this one in particular, you've got to read this. It features some of the funniest lines I've read all week.

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

Sarkozy Proposes Massive Overhaul of France's Military

The American right's favorite Frenchie is slashing the size of his country's military, closing 50 bases, increasing spending on intelligence, and rejoining NATO's military command.

Posted by armand at 10:42 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


I hadn't thought of it as a battleground state for the fall, but 538 makes a good case. And I agree it'd make more sense to prioritize that state than it does to prioritize Georgia.

Posted by armand at 09:23 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Ousted for Failing to Go Along With KBR Rip-Offs

Shocking. Just shocking. Who'd have thought? Well, pretty much everyone with a pulse, but it's maddening nonetheless:

The Army official who managed the Pentagon's largest contract in Iraq says he was ousted from his job when he refused to approve paying more than $1 billion in questionable charges to KBR, the Houston-based company that has provided food, housing and other services to American troops.

The official, Charles M. Smith, was the senior civilian overseeing the multibillion-dollar contract with KBR during the first two years of the war. Speaking out for the first time, Mr. Smith said that he was forced from his job in 2004 after informing KBR officials that the Army would impose escalating financial penalties if they failed to improve their chaotic Iraqi operations.

Publius notes that KBR was essentially in a position to hold the Army hostage, given the degree to which we've privatized the Army - which is highly problematic.

Posted by armand at 09:03 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Stalnaker vs. Facemire (What Brought Down Romano) Was the State's Costliest Senate Contest

I noted earlier that the biggest bit of drama at the state's Democratic convention last week was the defeat of the state party's treasurer. That fight (which the incumbent treasurer lost decisively at in the state party's executive committee, though I believe he was Gov. Manchin's pick) appeared to stem mostly from the treasurer, Mike Romano, working hard to defeat Democratic Rep. Doug Stalnaker (who Romano didn't consider a "real Democrat") in a state senate primary that was held last month. The treasurer was successful in that his candidate, Doug Facemire, beat Stalnaker. And he likely played a major role in that primary being the most expensive in the state this cycle. But of course that success greatly bothered a host of Democrats who were backing Stalnaker, and his activism (bullying?) cost him his party post.

Posted by armand at 08:47 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

June 16, 2008

Minks? Or campaign ads?

How else could you accumulate that much credit card debt?

Senators John McCain and Barack Obama released their Senate financial disclosure statements on Friday, revealing that Mr. McCain and his wife had at least $225,000 in credit card debt and that Mr. Obama and his wife had put more than $200,000 into college funds for their daughters.

Also note the sensible planning for the future on Obama's part.


Posted by binky at 01:15 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Taliban Prison Break

Is it just me, or was this story oddly under-reported? Big, multi-part operation, several guards killed, hundreds of Taliban prisoners escape ... and in yesterday's edition of the local paper it was reported on page 7D.

Posted by armand at 12:38 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Cassandra's Dream

All I can say is "ewwww". I finally watched this Woody Allen film yesterday, and it's yet more evidence that his work in the last 10 year features a ton more misses than it does hits. Which is all the sadder when you think about how prolific he has been in the last decade.

It's awful. It's like the acting is from one movie, the setting from another, and the script from a third. Basically, it's abysmally executed, and I blame it all on Allen. I mean you can really see him botching the directing in scene after scene. It's an uninteresting mess that not even Ewan McGregor or Tom Wilkinson can save.

Posted by armand at 10:24 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 15, 2008

In other words, gay marriage is completely normal

From the NYT:

Four years after Massachusetts became the first state to allow gay couples to marry, there have been blissful unions, painful divorces and everything in between.

Some same-sex couples say being married has made a big difference, and some say it has made no difference at all. There are devoted couples who have decided marriage is not for them, couples whose lawyers or accountants advised them against marrying, and couples in which one partner wants to marry but the other does not.

Shocking. Shocking I tell you. Who would have imagined?! Gosh!

On a serious note, however, I wonder what will happen to the "pent up demand" statistics. I imagine that as a new generation grows up with the possibility of getting married, that the numbers will begin to climb.

Posted by binky at 03:27 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Why would anyone need or want to smoke a cigar at 7:30 am?

Posted by binky at 10:57 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

June 14, 2008

The West Virginia State Democratic Convention

So I am back from attending the state party convention in Charleston (my apologies for taking so long to approve the comments - didn't touch a computer while I was away). I might have more to say about it tomorrow. Actually I am sure I will. But for now I'll just say it was a great experience in that it was exciting to see so many people so energized about working to improve their state. The delegates were an interesting mix, and it was interesting to see the processes play out and be refreshingly democratic in a little "d" sense (this convention was the first of its kind) - though sure, the rules adopted at the convention were very friendly to the powers that be. I'm happy to report that both of the people elected by the 1st congressional district caucus to be Obama delegates at the national convention come from Mon County - Caprice Roberts and Jon Blair Hunter. And Mon County's own Charlene Marshall will also be a delegate for Obama in Denver, as a PLEO.

Not everything came as such pleasant surprises, but maybe I'll talk about that tomorrow. In the mean time, if you are looking for news from the convention look for stories next week on Mike Romano being kicked out of office as the state party's treasurer.

Posted by armand at 08:00 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

3 Top Foreign Relations Democrats Vie for Secretary of State

Mark Hosenball notes that the 3 top Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, all former presidential candidates, are "running" for Secretary of State - John Kerry, Joe Biden, and Chris Dodd. While Bill Richardson and others should certainly be in the mix for that job, both Kerry and Dodd certainly merit consideration and could do fine work in the post. As I've noted here recently, my opinion of Biden is a good bit less positive.

Posted by armand at 07:55 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 13, 2008

Joan Mondale Must Have Been More American Than Apple Pie

Because the wife of every Democratic presidential nominee since 1984 has been accused of being unpatriotic.

[Yes, the linked post is from last week, but I never got around to linking to it then.]

Posted by armand at 10:56 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Via Modern Fabulousity I see this - which such a slimy guy merits.

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

June 12, 2008

Words Fail Me (Part 2,304,201): Supreme Court Rulings Edition

From the NYT story on the Supreme Court rulings that struck down most of the Bush Administration's attempts to keep Al Qaeda out of our courts, comes this wonderful quote by our fearless Chief Justice of the Supreme Court:

And Chief Justice Roberts said the majority had struck down "the most generous set of procedural protections ever afforded aliens detained by this country as enemy combatants," and in doing so had left itself open to accusations of "judicial activism."

Two comments:

First, to my knowledge, the term "enemy combatants" has never been used formally and legally before. Thus, the set of "procedures and protections" that Mr. Chief Justice Roberts claims are the most generous "ever afforded...enemy combatants" is, in fact, accurate. This is because it is the ONLY set of "procedures and protections" we've ever had. There are no other set of procedures/protections for enemy combatants BECAUSE WE HAVEN"T HAD ANY BEFORE. Thus, this set is both the most generous and the least generous. It is the best, worst, middle, longest, shortest, most harsh, most lenient, the first to be eaten by my dog, the most purple and the bestest most wonderfulness set of procedures ever. It's all of those things because THERE ISN'T ANYTHING TO COMPARE IT TO. Mr. Chief Justice Carrot needs to find a few more brain cells, I think.

Second, we can now officially date the end of meaning for the phrase "judicial activism." It died today, Thursday, June 12, 2008. The conventional meaning of the term is when (unelected) judges create laws from the bench, and thus circumvent the traditional place where laws are made (legislatures). Today, however, Mr. Chief Justice Turnip used the phrase to describe the court striking down a law passed by Congress. The Supreme Court didn't make any new procedures or protections. It made no changes what so ever in how Enemy Combatants are treated; it merely said that the law that governed Enemy Combatants violated the Constitution, and hinted (strongly) that those folks down in Cuba might want to look at that 'ole 225-year-old document (there are a few copies around, for those unfamiliar with it) in order to figure out how to prove the terrorist are actually, you know, guilty. Thus, the phrase "judicial activism" now means not only legislating from the bench, but also striking down legislation from the bench. As best I can tell, this leaves judges' sole powers to be the ability to call for a lunch break. Thus, I declare, the end of meaning for this phrase. Mr. Chief Justice Parsnip will, one assumes, go along with this new judicial philosophy, and spend most of his time reading lunch menus, one hopes.

This administration cannot leave fast enough.

Posted by baltar at 04:54 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

David Davis Resigns Over the 42 Day Detention Policy

Wow. Can you imagine something like this happening in the US? The Shadow Home Secretary, who generally ran to David Cameron's right in the 2005 race for the leadership of the Conservative Party, is resigning his seat in parliament in protest. He's protesting what he views as the Labour's latest move against civil liberties. Can you imagine a similarly prominent member of our country's "conservative" party doing such a thing?

Posted by armand at 12:33 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

The Guggenheim, Vilnius

That's, uh, interesting.

Posted by armand at 11:08 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Bobby Jindal, the Exorcist

So I see that the national press is picking up on this story. Will it be enough to knock the governor of Louisiana off the list of vice presidential prospects?

Posted by armand at 10:18 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

June 11, 2008

Martin's Right, Let's Move Elections to Saturdays

Obviously those who want low turnout won't like it, but we really should vote on a Saturday.

Well, we should probably vote by mail, or have the ability to vote over several days, but if there has to be an "election day", it shouldn't be during what for most is the work week.

Posted by armand at 10:17 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

No patience for books?

Does the internet ruin books? For me, no, but it has ruined video and/or TV. If I click on a video and it's more than a couple of minutes long, forget it. For example, this clip of Bill Moyers giving the business to some guy sounded interesting, but nine minutes? Forget it.

Posted by binky at 12:24 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 10, 2008

Carry-over Cabinet Posts?

I'd just like to go on record as saying that whoever wins in November should keep Bob Gates around as SecDef. He's trying bring the Air Force in line, he's supported attempts to expand the Army, and he's making the right moves on UAVs.

All in all, his policies seems rational from the point of view of any party.

Posted by baltar at 09:13 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack



Posted by binky at 07:10 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Veep Chats With Congressional Democrats

MSNBC's Todd and Montanaro have this report on the long short list that has been discussed on Capitol Hill. They report 16 names have been discussed - Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, John Edwards, Evan Bayh, Kathleen Sebelius, Ted Strickland, Mark Warner, Tim Kaine, Jim Webb, Bill Nelson, Jack Reed, Joe Biden, Chris Dodd, Tom Daschle, Sam Nunn, and retired General James Jones. Anyone here surprise you? Any omissions surprise you (I note that Brian Schweitzer, Bill Richardson and Janet Napolitano aren't on the list)? I'm quite happy to see Jack Reed here. Of course not being on this list doesn't mean someone's not being considered. But this list might feature the favorites - though maybe not.

Posted by armand at 04:45 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Hitchcock Controls Your Brain

Well, not exactly, but "Bang! You're Dead" was a lot more successful at gripping viewers' minds than Curb Your Enthusiasm (via Morris).

Posted by armand at 12:21 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Does Oil Hurt Women's Rights?

There's a lot of work suggesting that oil wealth hurts the cause of democratization, so perhaps it's not too surprising that apparently it also has a negative effect on women's rights.

Posted by armand at 12:16 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Halperin on Underrated and Overrated Veep Qualifications

This is probably the best short piece Mark Halperin has put together in a long time. It's a short list, but there's a lot of truth in it.

Posted by armand at 08:50 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Dionne's Case for Biden - Which Is a Terrible Idea

This is dumb. E.J. Dionne makes the case for Joe Biden because he's a "happy warrior", who's "ready on day 1", and knows a ton about foreign policy.

To which I respond - duh, what?

How in the hell is Obama supposed to make the judgment-trumps-experience argument if he names as his running mate someone with lots of DC experience (like McCain), who admits to showing terrible judgment in trusting Bush (see the end of Dionne's piece), and voted for a war that most see as having gone terribly wrong (or at least most want to get out of). Of course there are other problems with Biden (his ties to the insurance/banking industry being perhaps the most prominent), but if Dionne's point is that it's important for Democrats to win foreign policy debates, why on Earth should Obama turn to Biden who showed terrible judgment on the dominant foreign policy issue of the era?

Posted by armand at 08:41 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

June 09, 2008

Apples and Oranges

Shakes may not be much of a 1930s wife, but I am a most excellent 1930s husband.


As a 1930s husband, I am
Very Superior

Take the test!

Posted by binky at 11:23 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Boneless Kittehs

I haz dem.

Seriously, it's like 90 inside and that's cool compared to the outside. The furbots are draped over anything not upholstered, and rotate themselves to cooler spots periodically.

Posted by binky at 05:25 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The New Team at the Top of the Air Force

There's a post on the nominees at Danger Room. The next Chief of Staff will not be a fighter pilot. I hear people interested in bureaucratic politics and role theory rushing to plan studies of how this affects the form and behavior of the service.

Posted by armand at 12:42 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Cardinal Antonelli's New Appointment

The late Cardinal Lopez Trujillo was one of the Church's most outspoken and controversial (in the United States) figures. Pope Benedict has named the Archbishop of Florence, a quite different cardinal, to succeed him as president of the Pontifical Council for the Family.

Posted by armand at 10:54 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Nadal Sure, Da' Tara?

In this weekend's sporting news we saw Rafa Nadal win his fourth straight French Open title, and an unknown post a shocking win in the Belmont Stakes. Nadal completely dominated Roger Federer to win his fourth straight French Open (Federer lost to him in the final for a thrid straight year). That Nadal would win is no great surprise, but the scale of his victory was remarkable.

As to Da'Tara, did anyone see him coming? True, any son of Tiznow should get a look, but if someone was going to beat Big Brown on Saturday I figured it would be Tale of Ekati or Dennis of Cork. Instead Da' Tara comes out of nowhere to be the Belmont's first wire-to-wire winner in 24 years. Congratulations to Nick Zito.

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

June 08, 2008

Sunday Night Warm Fuzzies

It is inconceivable that you will get all the answers right.


Posted by binky at 10:52 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

"Great, because the kids these days love existentialism"

Batman vs. Ironman.

Posted by binky at 10:34 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

My Mom's Final Word on the Garrison Scandal

She read about it in the local paper in Florida yesterday. I explained the broad outline and her response was:

"Well, it's a shame when one person can horse-ass up the reputation of the entire place."

Indeed it is, mom, indeed it is.

Posted by binky at 02:37 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 06, 2008

Cheney, Rumsfeld and Their Circle - Duped by Iran?

I can't decide which of these two paragraphs is more troubling.

A top aide to then-secretary of defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, however, shut down the 2003 investigation into the Pentagon officials' activities after only a month, and the Defense Department's top brass never followed up on the investigators' recommendation for a more thorough investigation, the Senate report said.

The revelation raises questions about whether Iran may have used a small cabal of officials in the Pentagon and in Vice President Dick Cheney's office to feed bogus intelligence on Iraq and Iran to senior policymakers in the Bush administration who were eager to oust the Iraqi dictator.

Is it worse to be a tool of the mullahs that Bush and Co. see as irrational and bent on destroying the world, or is it worse to cover up the possibility that senior US officials are being used by that crowd? Hmmm.

Posted by armand at 11:24 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Israel Promises to Attack Iran

"Unavoidable?" That's troubling, to put it mildly. Also troubling, this comment was made at the same time as meetings between Olmert and Bush in which Iran was the "dominant subject". I'd say we should fasten our seatbelts.

And it's interesting to consider how this is related to the Israel-Syria talks.

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

Garrison Resigns

At the Board of Governors meeting this morning, President Garrison announced he would stay in his position through September 1. Now It's time to clean up the mess, and move forward to rehabilitate WVU's reputation.

Posted by binky at 09:30 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Mike Garrison Has Resigned!

His resignation will take effect on Sept. 1.

Posted by armand at 09:29 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 05, 2008

"Obama's Star Wars"

I think this is an excellent strategy - and the name for it that Ben Smith uses is great too.

Posted by armand at 03:57 PM | Comments (32) | TrackBack

Vice President Ridge?

Ambinder runs down the pluses and minuses of Tom Ridge as a possible running-mate for John McCain. Personally, I think he's one of the strongest choices McCain could make.

Posted by armand at 03:27 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Most Unfortunate Phrase of the Day

Nothing I hear later today is going to top this (which I just heard said about 20 feet away). I think the guy's point was that senators haven't made successful presidents, but what he actually said was:

There have only been two senators elected, and both their administrations were short-lived.

Errr, yes, that's true.

Happily someone else just pointed out that some senators have accomplished a lot as president (LBJ and Nixon being his examples).

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

Obama and Bill Clinton's Secret Big Donors

Via Yglesias I ran across this, which would indeed seem to make an Obama-Clinton ticket extremely difficult. I mean Obama just banned the DNC from taking PAC money. Is he really going to cover for the Clintons on this stuff?

Some in the Clinton camp also noted a possible deal-breaker for a party-unity ticket: Bill Clinton may balk at releasing records of his business dealings and big donors to his presidential library.
Posted by armand at 10:40 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Yiddish Policemen's Union

Since I know some of you who check us out are Michael Chabon fans, I thought I'd mention that last night I finished The Yiddish Policemen's Union. It's not my favorite Chabon ever, but it is quite good. It was more of a murder mystery than I expected (in terms of what drives the players and the plot) - but really it's about its characters, and Chabon, per the norm, vividly paints them and their world. For a quick review, look at this.

Posted by armand at 10:08 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

A Summary of the Case

The other day I was talking to a neighbor about the Garrison/Bresch scandal, and I said that this whole thing made me feel like we were having the George Bush/he's either corrupt or incompetent discussion all over again. Turns out Hippie Killer has yet another excellent summary of the case against Garrison. Read the whole thing, but here's the final point:

And even if Mike Garrison had no idea of the misdeeds that went on under his watch on October 15 - the falsifying of Heather Bresch's transcript; the LIES told to the media to cover it up - that means Mike Garrison is utterly and totally incompetent. In which case the Board of Governors is DUTY BOUND to fire him, and begin the search for a new President.

As I've said before, if you're not reading the threads over there, you're missing out on all the good discussion.

Posted by binky at 09:35 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

June 04, 2008

The Easiest Arguments Against an Obama-Clinton Ticket

Can the candidate of change put a Clinton on his ticket? Can a candidate who's going to have to argue judgment matters more than experience (especially on foreign policy) put a person who voted for the Iraq war on his ticket? I'd say probably not. And I think those are the arguments (or at least among the arguments) that the Obama camp needs to get out there (starting yesterday) for why he'll eventually choose someone else to run with him.

I agree with the meme that he should make his choice known before too long. Because the longer he waits, the longer the news cycles will be dominated with talk of Obama-Clinton - and the more he'll have to explain why he doesn't pick her.

Posted by armand at 10:07 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 03, 2008

Wes Clark for Vice President?

Matt Stoller makes his case for the retired general. Mark Kleiman generally likes the idea, but he has a few concerns.

Posted by armand at 04:23 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Post-SATC: Warner's Takes Another Look at The Women

The remake makes me queasy given the brilliance of the original, and the limitations of Meg Ryan. But yeah, given the haul that Sex and the City brought in last weekend I'd say Warner's should definitely reconsider their strategy.

But the saddest bit of this story has to be sending Spring Breakdown straight to dvd. Posey, Poehler and Dratch? I'd have been in the theater the first weekend. That cast and that topic? Definite money-maker. But since the studio seems to think movies starring women can't make money ... well, they are idiots, and I'll have to settle for viewing it on the small screen.

Posted by armand at 03:55 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 02, 2008

Bad news, decent news, good news

Starting with me. The hiatus is over (which, depending on your perspective and enjoyment of my contributions, might be bad news). My old computer is dead. Turns out, it's not the getting wet that kills them, but the drying out. The tech guy said that if it ever happens again, rush immediately to get service without trying to dry anything. So, I pass that piece of information on to you as a public service, provided that you, like me, are dumb enough to leave your laptop on the floor next to an open window. The decent news about all that is that even if the computer drowns, the hard drive (usually) remains protected. There's a thingy you can buy for twenty bucks that you slide your hard drive into and presto-changeo! instant external drive. The good news is that someone wonderful took pity on my plight and helped me into a Mac, which is a joy. I bought my first Mac in 1989, and switched over to PC because at the time they were better for crunching data. All I have to say is, it's good to be home.

In non-me news, it's still acceptable to make fun of West Virginia about inbreeding. Not that there aren't enough embarrassing things to report on lately.

Posted by binky at 10:06 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Forbes' 20 Hottest Young Royals

Look, this should come as no surprise, but I think this list proves that Forbes shouldn't put itself in the business of listing the hottest anything. This bit of link trolling only considers unmarried royals under 35, but still ... c'mon. Prince William as #1? I don't think so. I think most people consider his brother to be hotter than him, and neither one of them should be in the top 2, much less 1 and 2. Both are above Carl Philip of Sweden? Uh, no. For my vote the Casiraghis are the hottest European royals these days, and yet they are well down the list. And Freddy Windsor doesn't even make the top 20? That's weird.

Posted by armand at 02:19 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Is the World War II Memorial That Bad?

So in the last few days Kingdaddy has written a post on why he hates the WWII Memorial, LGM linked to that, then Yglesias wrote a post saying he doesn't like it either, and linked to Robert Farley's old complaint against it. So dear readers, do you hate it too? I find the complaints against its form a little weird. Sure Nazis and Soviets used similar forms, but that's because the forms have been used for millenia. Building off the classics, I don't have much problem with that. I will agree that the design is perhaps to busy, and I'll definitely agree that it's too big, and I've never approved of its placement (smack in the middle of the mall). But while it's not a favorite of mine by any means, I can't say I'm really worked up about it. And hey, it is a perfectly nice place to sit and consider the history, I suppose.

For my money the best memorial at the moment is the one honoring Franklin Roosevelt. But I haven't been over to check out the Korean War Memorial yet.

Posted by armand at 10:39 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Who Won the Popular Vote - Clinton or Obama?

Poblano helps you figure it out, with a spread sheet in which you too can decide which votes count and which votes don't - just like the Clintons do!

Posted by armand at 10:16 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


So last night I finally got around to seeing Recount, the film about the Florida 2000 ... disaster? Mess? Debacle? Take your pick. I give it two thumbs up, way up. Danny Strong (best known as Buffy's Jonathan) is really responsible for that. He's written a really compelling script that makes the complicated easy to understand, and aquaints viewers with pretty much all the relevant topics, from ballot design, to federalism, to separation of powers, to the power of hacks and partisans running elections, etc., etc., etc. It's both dramatic and informative, while managing to avoid over-the-top readings of it (for the most part). The direction is fine, and some of the acting is pretty good (especially Tom Wilkinson as James A. Baker III), but really it's the story that makes this, and it's plotted very well. I really wish this was screend in high schools and colleges across the country. It would be good if more Americans understood just how flimsy and open to abuse our electoral system is.

Posted by armand at 10:09 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 01, 2008

Joe Klein on the Puerto Rico Primary

It will surprise no one that I agree with this:

And yet, there's Terry McAuliffe bloviating on CNN about how this adds to Clinton's popular vote "victory" - a victory only if you count states that violated party rules (Florida), didn't have Obama's name on the ballot (Michigan) or aren't even states (Puerto Rico).

This sort of thing is just plain annoying, and divisive. The impotent ferocity of the Clinton campaign over the past month has done neither herself or Barack Obama much good.

Posted by armand at 05:36 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

High School Musical 2

So a few weeks ago I finally watched High School Musical. The horror. Well, not entirely. As I told Ryan at the time, while I found it largely horrible, and reinforcing every norm Disney usually pushes down our society's collective throat, it did have a few saving graces - especially Sharpay (Ashley Tisdale) and Ryan (Lucas Grabeel). They were eminently more entertaining and watchable than the lead duet. So since I then learned that Sharpay and Ryan's characters had much more to do in High School Musical 2 (they were terribly underutilized in the first film), I decided, eh, why the hell not. Those two are entertaining, and it's summer, so I might as well give the second movie a try.

Turns out it is indeed a better movie. Now that's not saying much. The gender, race, and sexual politics of the film is still straight out of the most conservative take on the 1950's. And some of the actors are just appallingly bad (whoever plays Kelsi apparently is convinced that "acting" means making your eyes bigger and bigger to convey emotion). Just like in the first film Vanessa Hudgens is so lacking in charisma that you kind of forget she's there (I'm guessing she was cast primarily for her voice - and perhaps to a degree for her ethnicity). And of course this isn't the kind of movie in which you should expect things like plot continuity. But once again Ms. Tisdale and Mr. Grabeel save it from being a total waste of time. Actually I'm kind of surprised Grabeel hasn't become a bigger name since these films hit. The film's best bit, as was the case in the first film, is Sharpay's big production number. This time it involves Zac Efron, and not Grabeel. While I don't think it's as entertaining as the one in the first film, Efron getting more and more embarrassed and horrified at being caught up on the over-the-top display is pretty funny. As to Efron, obviously the centerpiece of both these films, well, I sort of get it. I mean I think he's better in Hairspray than in these. But you definitely see talent and charisma, and he plays the star role as he's supposed to, low-hanging Diesels and all.

Posted by armand at 05:03 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

If a Virginian Is Veep, Which of the 3 Is Best for Obama?

Lowell at Raising Kaine runs down the pros and cons of the 3 Virginians people mention as possible running mates for Sen. Obama. Mark Kleiman also touts Mark Warner, and has some questions about a Warner candidacy.

Posted by armand at 02:32 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack