Monday, April 24, 2006

The 9/11 Movie

United 93 opens in theaters this weekend and I have my thoughts about the fact that this movie is coming out, but I need to spend a bit more time sorting them out before I can put them down in a coherent post.

In short, I don't think this movie right now is a good thing. I don't particularly want to see it (certainly not in a theater). And I don't think we as a country are ready for it.

There's a short "Look Inside" video here, and it's compelling. I don't doubt the sincerity of many of the people involved in making this film. I also don't question the desire of many of the families to have the story told. They might be ready for it. they might need it, but that doesn't mean the rest of the country is ready or needs it.

It may have been five years since the events took place, but they are still much to enwined in the politics of today. We are still reminded daily of "the lessons of 9/11" by those who exploit it. I fear that this film will do more towards those ends than actually offering a healing experience. That dishonors those people and their families far more than this film could possibly honor them.

There's a good thread on this over at The Oh Really Factor. Check it out.

More to come from me later.

Desert Island—Circuit City Edition

From Otto, who got it from Shakes, who picked it up somewhere else I'm sure...

You know you are about to get dumped on a desert island. There will be a complete home entertainment center—solar-powered? Made of coconuts ala the Professor? 5:1 surround?—Doesn't matter. It works, and you have to select the following things to keep you going the rest of your days.

Complete television series

What'll it be?

Friday, April 21, 2006

Friday Random Ten

They opened a new library branch here in Ann Arbor, and outfitted it with all new stuff. New books, new DVDs, and best of all, new CDs. I have been burning a hole in my library card and ripping discs like a madman over the last couple weeks. It's like they tasked a college radio DJ wih stocking the shelves...MC5, Big Star, Killers, Modest Mouse, Fallout Boy...the list goes on and on.

Unfortunately, those tunes still reside on my hard drive and haven't made it into the Pod yet. Here goes...

1. "She Gave Me Love" - Getaway People
2. "Rose Colored Glasses" - School of Fish
3. "My Doorbell" - The White Stripes
4. "Silverfuck" - Smashing Pumpkins
5. "Monkey Man" - Rolling Stones
6. "Deaf, Dumb, Blind'" - NRBQ
7. "Louder Than A Bomb" - Public Enemy
8. "Oddfellows Local 151" - REM
9. "Girl From a Pawnshop (live)" - Black Crowes
10. "Colorful Revolution" - Red Walls

Proceed to the comments for the director's cut...

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Master and Commander. Of the Titanic.

In a brief column well worth reading, Greg Mitchell tries to prod the press into acknowledging the impending crisis that is three more years of Bush...
Our president, in a time of war, terrorism and nuclear intrigue, will likely remain in office for another 33 months, with crushingly low approval ratings that are still inching lower. Facing a similar problem, voters had a chance to quickly toss Jimmy Carter out of office, and did so. With a similar lengthy period left on his White House lease, Richard Nixon quit, facing impeachment. Neither outcome is at hand this time...

That is indeed a problem. And since Bush's primary motivation over the remainder of his tenure will likely be split between dodging scandals, gutting regulations and enriching himself and his cronies, there is little hope for any good to come of President Dubya regardless of the midterms. Mitchell then directs us to his canary in the media coalmine:
So let’s assume, as Nixon might put it, that we do have George Bush to kick around for another almost-three-years. How worried should we be about the possible damage he might inflict -- and what can the press do about it?

Consider Thomas Friedman’s column in The New York Times today, and its implications.

Friedman, who still supports the Iraq war, opens by declaring that given a choice between a nuclear Iran and an attack on that country engineered by the White House, he would choose the former. That’s how little he trusts the diplomatic and military chops of Bush, Rumsfeld, Condi and Co. He cites “the level of incompetence that the Bush team has displayed in Iraq, and its refusal to acknowledge any mistakes or remove those who made them.”

But then he goes on: “I look at the Bush national security officials much the way I look at drunken drivers. I just want to take away their foreign policy driver's licenses for the next three years. Sorry, boys and girls, you have to stay home now -- or take a taxi. ... You will not be driving alone. Not with my car.”

The problem -- the crisis -- is that Bush and Co. likely WILL be driving the “car” for 33 more months.

The fact that Friedman is right doesn't stop me from wanting to throw him around an alley filled with garbage cans like a renegade cop (or Easter Bunny) for coming up with this conclusion four years too late.

Bush's (and Rumsfeld & Cheney's) unique blend of stubborn incompetence and arrogance was readily apparent before we went into Iraq, and Friedman was among the biggest War cheerleaders. Just because a few pages of your "Flat Earth" book were interchangable with some PNAC binder does not mean these guys ever gave a shit about the greater good of the Middle East like you purport to.

So, Tom, nicely-made points taken, but your "told you so moment" never materialized—you were as wrong as Bush himself for believing in him. Now sit down and shut the fuck up. Okay?

Stopping McCain

There's been a bit of a debate over the last week or so between some on our side about John McCain and what he truly represents. There's a lot to digest on McCain, but the more I see him, the more it is apparent he is an orthodox Conservative in Progressive Maverick clothing. In many, many ways a McCain Presidency would be nothing more than a slightly improved extension of the Bush Administration. We all know we cannot afford that. A commenter responding to Ezra's post at The American Prospect pretty much nails it:
If bloggers on the same liberal site can't agree on whether or not McCain's a conservative, then it's clear that a Democratic nominee wouldn't be able to effectively portray him as out of the mainstream--which is all the more reason why we need to hope he loses in the primary. The good news is that despite his fondling of Falwell the fundies still don't trust him.

Yup. We cannot really hope to beat McCain in the general election. Unless the Republican Party becomes completely radioactive by 2008 (unlikely), I can see McCain mowing down anyone the Dems send up to bat against him. He needs to be derailed in the primaries or he will be the next President.

More Reading: Greg at The Talent Show, Kevin Drum and the Chait TNR story that advances the notion McCain is a closet liberal...

Ezra on Malkin. And McCain. And Lots of Other Stuff...

Ezra puts together one of the best, and most thoughtful, posts about the whole Malkin v. college protesters dust-up, here. He also takes on the topic of John McCain this week, continues his string of good posts on U.S. healthcare, and some other stuff too. Just go to the top of the page and scroll...

Friday, April 14, 2006

With [Same] Sex You Get Egg Roll

This is excellent.
Gay, lesbian parents to line up for Easter Egg Roll tickets
The White House Easter Egg Roll has been a Washington tradition since the mid-19th century.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Hundreds of gay and lesbian parents hoping to take their families to the annual White House Easter Egg Roll plan to start lining up Friday evening to make sure they get tickets for the Monday event.

Thousands of tickets -- an estimated 16,000 last year -- are given away on a first-come-first-served basis beginning at 7:30 a.m. Saturday.

National Park Service officials said Wednesday that children of all ages may attend as long as there is at least one child 7 years old or younger, and no more than two adults per group.

First lady Laura Bush's office issued a statement saying all families are welcome to attend.

Really, Mrs. First Lady? All families?
[...] Some say the gay and lesbian parents are playing politics.

"I think it's inappropriate to use a children's event to make a political statement,"
said Mark D. Tooley of the Institute on Religion and Democracy.

[...] The egg roll has been a Washington tradition since the mid-19th century. Children use spoons to push colored eggs through the grass in a race. Past events have included petting zoos and White House staff members in bunny costumes.

The president sometimes makes a brief appearance, and the first lady often reads a story. The White House has not announced plans for this year.

Something tells me that if the lawn is populated with gay families, George and Laura will find themselves otherwise occupied. Afraid of the gays or afraid of their base—it's all the same—they are chickenshits.

But good for the families making a statement. If coming out into broad daylight and enjoying something everyone else can do should be considered making a statement...

UPDATE: Well I was prepared to offer Bush some credit for showing up with Laura to kick off the Egg Roll, even posing for pictures, but it might be premature to do so. It seems the Bushes were long gone before the gay and lesbian families were allowed in. Despite getting the first tickets and waiting the longest, those families were given tickets for admission 11:00 a.m. — hours after the opening ceremony the Bushes attended. I'll find out more and get some links later...

Friday, April 07, 2006

->POP!<- Bubble Bursts

Bush has been venturing outside the protection of his invite-only, ass-kiss events and taking some unscripted questions at events open to anyone lately. I'll give him credit for that. At a time when he is truly embattled and hampered by the lowest numbers of his Presidency (yet--they're about to get lower), it is to his credit that he is facing the public. I'd honestly have expected him and Rove to retreat to full protection and propaganda mode.

There's a risk for Bush doing this, someone might actually call him out. And it happened to him yesterday...
Q: [from audience to Bush] You never stop talking about freedom, and I appreciate that. But while I listen to you talk about freedom, I see you assert your right to tap my telephone, to arrest me and hold me without charges, to try to preclude me from breathing clean air and drinking clean water and eating safe food. If I were a woman, you’d like to restrict my opportunity to make a choice and decision about whether I can abort a pregnancy on my own behalf. You are –

THE PRESIDENT: I’m not your favorite guy. Go ahead. (Laughter and applause.) Go on, what’s your question?

Q Okay, I don’t have a question. What I wanted to say to you is that I — in my lifetime, I have never felt more ashamed of, nor more frightened by my leadership in Washington, including the presidency, by the Senate, and –


THE PRESIDENT: No, wait a sec — let him speak.

Q And I would hope — I feel like despite your rhetoric, that compassion and common sense have been left far behind during your administration, and I would hope from time to time that you have the humility and the grace to be ashamed of yourself inside yourself. And I also want to say I really appreciate the courtesy of allowing me to speak what I’m saying to you right now. That is part of what this country is about.

THE PRESIDENT: It is, yes. (Applause.)

That was a North Carolina man named Harry Taylor. You should watch the video. He got off a pretty good shot at Bush, and managed to get quite a few topics in as well.

An how did Bush handle it? With some awkward bady language and one of his chuckling-at-himself jokes. Bush's joke was rude and completely innappropriate given the seriousness of this guy's comments, but it masterfully lightened the mood and impact of anything this guy was going to say for his supporters in the Hall and watching the video. He also squints and shields his eyes while listening to the comments—I think an attempt to diminish this guy's stature, making him seem small, insignificant and distant. In Bush's full response (transcript at the link) he further diminshes the guy, implying that his comments were unwelcome to most people... All in all, I'd say Bush weathers it fairly well, and goes into his stock rhetoric to "answer" the guy's "question", when it was really not a question but an indictment. It's unfortunate that Taylor looks like a wussy liberal straight from Central Casting, but he's got some stones behind those baggy pleats.

Anyway. Go watch the video and raise your glass to Harry Taylor tonite. He got his chance to say something to the President and he did. For all of us, and all of us to see.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Quick Opening Day Thoughts

I know it's officially been spring for a couple weeks, and we just passed the screw-job that is turning the clocks ahead, but I don't feel like it's really spring until I do some work in the yard, and I get to listen to the game while I do it.

I did the yard-work part this weekend, I look forward to the accompaniment of an AM broadcast next time out...

I really like the Sox this year. I know lots of people are boo-hooing over the departure of Johnny Damon, but I think Coco Crisp will be much better over the next four years than Damon will be.

Wily Mo Pena is just what Trot Nixon needs, a bashing right-handed platoon partner, and Keith Foulke looks like he's back to his old not-quite-dominating, yet somehow successful self.

It's hip to pick the Yanks this year, especially after signing Damon, but if you look at it, it's really just another past-the-prime free agent signing—the kind that has never worked for them yet...

Go Sox!

NOTE: Schilling will lose (hard) today in Texas, and the Sox bandwagon will get some more elbow room as people jump ship. That's fine by me. I know Schilling will be fine, and the Sox will prevail over thhe long haul. As an aside, knowing that Schilling is such a Republican, Bush-loving jackass, really makes it hard for me to like him.


This is crap. Jimmy Rollins might be a nice guy, and normally, I'd be happy to root for any Yankee-held record to fall, but I'm sorry, picking late August to start your hitting streak is just bad timing. As far as I am concerned, that streak ended when the 2005 season did.

Part of what makes the 56-game hitting streak an impressive and as yet unattainable record is the grind of having to get a hit every day for two months. Joe Dimaggio didn't get a 180-day break in the middle of his hitting streak. Tony Gwynn never got credit for hitting .400 even though he did it over a 162 game period (more than once, I believe). He had to hit .400 for the season, not just a hot second-half rolling over to a hot first half.

I cannot even believe that people are going to count this streak.


My new go-to baseball/Sox guy Chad Finn has a good season preview up.