Friday, February 23, 2007

 

Open Thread

Oh what a tangled thread we weave...

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Friday Comic Book Blogging

I'll be wasting precious time and money here this weekend:




If you're in town, feel free to walk up and say hello.

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Friday Trivia! Presidential Edition

Since everyone seemed to enjoy the Valentine's trivia, let's try a President's Day edition:

1. Which rock star contributed his hit
One Night Love Affair to the soundtrack of the 1985 film "Real Genius" (which starred Val Kilmer)?

2. What was the first name of Marcy's second husband on the sitcom
Married with Children?

3. Which R&B/jazz singer, nicknamed "Queen of the Blues", won a Grammy Award for her 1959 rendition of
What a Diff'rence a Day Makes?

4. Which former Pro Bowl offensive lineman for the Oakland Raiders and Atlanta Falcons (from 1993-2003) was nicknamed "The Oval Office"?

5. Which former major league pitcher was played by Ronald Reagan in the 1952 film
The Winning Team?

ANSWERS:
1. Bryan Adams
2. Jefferson
3. Dinah Washington
4. Lincoln Kennedy
5. Grover Cleveland Alexander

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And The Oscar Goes To...

Who knows?

But, once again, before Sunday's big night, check out The Felixes to put the Academy Awards in their proper perspective!

Don't be surprised if Little Miss Sunshine pulls off a few surprises.

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California, Here We Come

OK, so my most inexplicable guilty pleasure, The O.C., closed up shop last night.

No more silly teen brawling, no more cool comic-book geek references from Adam Brody, no more general trash. C'est la vie. The show jumped the shark a couple of years ago (which would have been midway through its second season), but great casting choices such as the aformentioned young Brody, Peter Gallagher and the underappreciated Rachel Bilson (Summer) made the whole thing still have a few sparkling moments in subsequent seasons. (Bilson was given the best line of the finale: Talking about "The Valley," the hit TV show that exists in The O.C. universe, Summer says, "It's been renewed for another five years; those teen soaps go on forever.")

Anyway, as
this piece points out, the real star of The O.C. was the music. When I was in DC, I was a part-time DJ for several years and managed to stay "plugged-in" with the latest sounds. However, after moving up to New York in 1999, I lost track (so to speak) of the music --- after being an alternative music fan for decades.

The OC helped bring to light some pretty cool tunes and artists that I would have otherwise missed. Yeah, much of it could be considered relatively "mainstream" considering the broad parameters of today's disjointed music scene. But, it also helped expose to a broader audience some relatively overlooked modern classics such as the decade-old, yet now-ubiquitous "Hallelujah" by died-much-too-young Jeff Buckley. And, of course, the show's theme -- Phantom Planet's "California" hooked you from the get-go.

And now, four years later, it's over. Smallville may now be the best option for a weekly dose of nice, atmospheric music mixed with teen sturm und drang. Alas, only its first season is available on CD -- whereas The O.C. spawned six "Mixes" in its four short years. A good guide to the music is
available here.

Bye, bye, Newport.

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Thursday, February 22, 2007

 

Godzilla vs. Mothra vs. Rodan vs. ?

So, with the news that Google is jumping fully into the wordprocessing and e-mail software suite business, Microsoft is suddenly challenged on all sides.

Perpetual nemesis Apple came up with the ultimate entertainment killer-ap six years ago with the introduction of the Ipod music player. Microsoft's Zune came on the market last year, but still lags far behind a product that has become an industry in and of itself -- sparking a proliferation of accessories and subsidiary items (essentially what Microsoft did twenty years ago). Indeed, no sooner as the Zune appears and Apple has already moved on to the pending iPhone. No wonder Steve Jobs openly mocked the Zune at last month's Macworld presentation.

Now, along comes Google to go at the heart of Microsoft's business -- productivity software. So, whether one is talking work or play, the world is moving away from a PC-grounded world. The hard lesson to be learned by the long-time computing leader: Mobility beats monopoly.

Maybe.

This being a full-fledged battle of the monsters, one cannot completely count out Godzilla.

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"Dust-up In The Desert"

I don't often link to ABC News' "The Note" (not out of any dislike -- they put out a fine product -- but, hey, I like to emphasize my own links around here!), but its partly-faux chronology of the Clinton-Obama spat is an amusing keeper.

Two other points that I believe are accurate though:

1) Also from the Note, George Stephanopolous -- who hosted the Obama-free Democratic debate in Nevada yesterday -- offered this bottom line reaction:
He also gave an indication of who could capitalize on the current drama saying, "with this race getting so negative so early, it leaves an opening for someone like an Al Gore to come in very late when people are sour on all the candidates in the race."
Yes, that would be same Al Gore who will likely win an Oscar this weekend for "An Inconvenient Truth" and possibly a Nobel Peace Prize later on this year. The same Al Gore of whose prospects a certain blogger speculated a year ago (though, admittedly, not seeing the Obama quick rise).

2) I also think my colleague John Podhoretz hits it right when he says that Obama ends up "losing" because the Clintons drew him into a mud fight -- when part of his message was about separating himself from the "usual politics":
All Team Barack needed to do was keep quiet and let Wolfson's bait remain hanging there. No serious person thinks Geffen speaks for Obama.

Instead, the Wolfson blast was met with an ugly Obama blast in response - which is the practice of any conventional campaign. Only Obama supposedly isn't running a conventional campaign.

He is supposed to transcend the normal rules of politics and sail sweetly through the Democratic primaries with his message of audacious hope, wonderful hope, glorious HOPE.

One night in Hollywood and it's all blasted to hell.
Yeah, one could say that the race for the White House officially began yesterday (especially given the McCain-Cheney-Rumsfeld undercard).

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

 

Ohio Über Alles

Madscribe:
Yes, those compassionate Democrats, having taken control of the House, Senate, and many governors' mansions, are remembering the immortal words of Emma Lazarus:

Give me your tired, your poor, / Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free / The wretched refuse of your teeming shore / Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me / I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

... Unless you're an Iraqi refugee, then go pound sand (literally).

Ohio's new governor, Neville Chamberlain Ted Strickland, an ordained minister that opposed the war in Iraq on moral grounds when a congressman, opposes war refugees even more than the war itself. He recently told President Bush that if the administration brings refugees from Iraq to the U.S., don't come knocking at the Governor's barn door. Funny how Democrats accuse the Bush administration of all sorts of evil in the Middle East, but apparently the Prime-Time Minister of Ohio forgot all that "Love Thy Neighbor" stuff when it came to brown-skinned refugees. In all fairness, Strickland did recant his Holocaust-like position a few days later. However, if I have to choose between criminal Ohio Republicans that steal , and immoral Democrats that condemn innocent women and children to death through benign neglect, give me the Republicans.

Meanwhile, fresh from his gubernatorial election drubbing against Strickland, Ken Blackwell finds a new home as the "Distinguished Fellow at the Buckeye Institute for Public Policy Solutions." Now, you don't have to be an Ohio State football fan to realize that, put together, the words "Distinguished Fellow" and "Buckeye Institute" have the same ring as "Granny said Jethro could take a dip in duh SEE-MINT POND." Perhaps he's warming up for his Fox News debut. If that's the case, Republican viewers will promise to watch him, and then flip the channel to Maury when Blackwell's show debuts.

Another FOX alumnus, former Ohio Republican Representative John Kasich, taking his cue from Democratic candidates duking it out a year before any caucus or primary, is already exploring a run as Republican candidate for governor in 2010. At this rate, we'll see on Hardball next week some kid in third grade declaring her candidacy for the 2032 A.D. presidential race.

Finally, can anybody tell me Where's Waldo?

UPDATE: Lest regular liberal commenters Rob and AIP accuse me of using the "N" Word (Teutonic kind) , maybe I should change the headline pun to "Strangers in a Strick-Land"; or "Strick Obstructionist"; or "Iraqi Presence to be Strick-ened from the Record"; or ....

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Wow, That Was Fast!

It's Hillary vs. Barack!!!

Maureen Dowd kicks things off, by quoting David Geffen slamming former President Bill Clinton. This line jumps right out:
"Everybody in politics lies, but they [the Clintons] do it with such ease, it’s troubling,” Geffen said.
It may remind longtime political junkies of this nugget from one-time rival, ex. Sen. Bob Kerrey, circa 1996: "Clinton is an unusually good liar. Unusually good." Of course, it sounds harsher coming from Geffen who was a former Clinton supporter.

Hillary Inc. blasts back -- hard, demanding Obama cut ties with Geffen.

Obama Corp. returns fire, bringing up the "Lincoln bedroom" -- and an early appearance of the race card!

Um, waiter, more popcorn please -- and you'd better make it a double!

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Pearls before Robert

Sunday's "Pearls before Swine" has Robert George written all over it:

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Um, Bush Was...Right?

If this is true, conservatives may owe Bush an apology:

Federal number crunchers said yesterday that the new Medicare drug benefit appears to be slowing the growth in national spending on prescription medicines because the drug plans are negotiating lower prices with drug companies.
And Democrats may have a tougher job in making the case for their "let-the-feds-negotiate-prescription-drugs" plan.

On this domestic policy issue, Bush may have just been right.

Though that doesn't justify the ham-handed semi-illegal vote back in 2003.

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Monday, February 19, 2007

 

Nancy's Consigliere

Bob Novak points out that, though Rep. John Murtha may have lost the majority leader election to Steny Hoyer, he is Speaker Nancy Pelosi's favorite -- and the point man on the Iraq War political strategy:
Murtha has made clear the nonbinding resolution, whose merely symbolic nature infuriates anti-war activists, was only the "first step." Murtha, chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee on Defense, did not hide the point of setting standards for training, equipping and resting troops: "They won't have the equipment, they don't have the training and they won't be able to do the work."
Of course, that language -- which is about as "defeatist" as one can imagine -- helped energize the House GOP and was likely the major reason why Republican defections on the resolution were kept at 17, when many predicted as many as 30 would vote to disapprove of the troops surge.

Now, were I an anti-war Democrat, strategically, Murtha is someone I would want out there, figuring out ways to block Bush's plans.

Tactically, however, Murtha is a nightmare: He has this inability to keep his mouth shut. Thus, here he blabs to the MoveOn crowd that this resolution is a "first step" before they move to shut off funds in other areas.

The week before, in "support" of Pelosi's request for an Air Force plane to transport her to and from her district, Murtha blatantly waved the defense appropriations process as a non-subtle threat to the Pentagon.

Add this to his checkered career as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Abscam scandal and his penchant for linking contributions and pork, and it is very easy for the average person to consider Murtha an elected thug and master shakedown artist. But this is the guy that Speaker Pelosi entrusts with coordinating the Iraq war policy?

The polls suggest that Democrats may be where the public is on trying chart a way out of Iraq, but John Murtha is about as horrific a front man as they could find.

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Dog Shoots Man

"Clinton wasn’t such a bad president," says Christopher Ruddy, a major architect of the "vast right-wing conspiracy". "In fact, he was a pretty good president in a lot of ways, and [Richard Mellon Scaife] feels that way today."

The observations of Ruddy and other veterans of the "Clinton Wars" are another indication why Hillary may not be as "unelectable" as many (including many Democrats) assume.
[Many] other conservative fund-raisers and organizers acknowledge that the grass-roots hatred for Mrs. Clinton and her husband has subsided substantially since they left the White House.

National efforts to raise money to stop Mrs. Clinton’s Senate campaigns in New York in 2000 and 2006 never got off the ground. Nor did plans to raise money for a “counter-Clinton” library in Little Rock. And conservatives note to their consternation that at the moment the woman they treat as the incarnation of 1960s liberalism appears to be campaigning as the least liberal of the Democratic front-runners.
If even the fires of her most full-throated fire-breathing enemies of the past have subsided, does this not suggest that a legitimate opening exists for her continue her ongoing "reintroduction" to the broader public?

As an aside, one must wonder if the cooling of some anti-Clinton passions has to do with the contrast between two very different presedencies. Joseph Bottum, editor of the conservative Catholic journal First Things, makes this observation (Hat tip, Andrew Sullivan):
Where [Bill] Clinton seemed a man of enormous political competence and no principle, Bush has been a man of principle and very little political competence. The security concerns after the attacks of September 11 and the general tide of American conservatism carried Republicans through the elections of 2002 and 2004. But by 2006 Bush had squandered his party’s advantages, until even the specter of Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House was not enough to keep the Republicans in power.

To abandon Iraq now would be the height of irresponsibility. It would lock in place the perception of defeat, with all the predictable consequences, and it would abandon the Iraqis to whom we promised freedom and democracy. President Bush has clearly done the right thing in refusing retreat and pledging to stay the course in Iraq.

But hasn’t that always been the problem? Again and again, he has done the right thing in the wrong way, until, at last, his wrongness has overwhelmed his rightness. How can conservatives continue to support this man in much of anything he tries to do? Iraq is not America’s failure, and it is not conservatism’s failure. We are where we are because of George W. Bush’s failure.

In retrospect, Clinton looks successful because he would make deals with political opponents when he could -- and co-opt their issues and rhetoric at every turn. Frankly, what also made Clinton a good president was that he was forced to deal with an energetic opposition with major oversight powers. While that may have been to the detriment of the country in certain ways, it also forced him to work within specific limits. Even with a narrow Democratic majority in the Senate for 18 months in 2001 and 2002, the legacy of 9/11 gave George W. Bush more unilateral political power than is healthy for any presidency.

UPDATE: Christopher Ruddy sends an e-mail:
Some clarifications: I told the Times reporter that, "In terms of domestic policy,Clinton was not a bad president..." -- citingwelfare reform, his cooperation with the GOP in restraining federal spending, etc.

Not mentioned in the article: I also added that I continue to stand behind my reporting about aspects of the Clinton scandals that I reported on during the 90s.
Additionally, I noted that Hillary will be a polarizing article -- and that NewsMax Magazine had devoted a recent cover storyto that subject.

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Sunday, February 18, 2007

 

No News Would Be Good News

Madscribe:
Although my dentist will tell you that I have a very high tolerance for pain, watching FOX News' entry in the "Humorous Take on Today's Issues," The Half Hour News Hour, was only slightly less pleasing than Laurence Olivier performing a root canal. And no, it wasn't safe. Since its inspiration, The Daily Show, is essentially a parody of "regular" TV news, and FOX's program is their take on Daily, you're stuck watching a parody of a parody of a TV show. Talk about a dog chasing its own tail.

I knew things were going to go downhill when Limbaugh opened the show as The President of the United States. Limbaugh was a death knell for his own TV show, why would you have him open yours? It just got worse from there. Imagine an SNL Weekend Update sketch from the worst season of NBC's flagship comedy, that goes on, and on, and on ... with a horrible laugh track that was probably composed of canned recordings of 1950s TV audiences, some of whom are now deceased. We have laws against desecrating the dead, you know.

Perhaps they're using a dollar store thesaurus, but "PREACHY" is not synonymous with "HUMOROUS." While there were a couple of good laughs (The Air America joke comes to mind), the show just got worse and worse, and the show's "news anchors" have no sense of comic rhythm or timing. The Ed Begley-in-an-electric-car idea might have gone over well as a sketch, but not a lame description of an idea as opposed to its actual execution.And you know you're grasping at straws when you use the 28-year-old "Shiite Happens" joke. Hoo boy, I've only heard that one about 34,875,269 times since the Iranians invaded the Embassy in 1979.

And yes, there are very funny ACLU jabs. For example, this one.

The irony is that while FOX News can't seem to find a funny bone its entire body politic, FOX Network still has some of the best prime-time comedy on the air: The Simpsons, MAD TV, Family Guy, King of the Hill. Tonight's episode of American Dad had a very intelligent and amusing take on a famous misperception about black scientist George Washington Carver AND idiots (of any race) that believe in historical conspiracies.

Note to Mr. Ailes: Ditch the losers that scripted your first episode's stinkeroo and start raiding your sister network for writing talent. Better yet, hire Robert A. George
, or read a book or two by P.J. O'Rourke or Christopher Buckley. Perhaps HBO can lend you some old tapes of Not Necessarily The News to study . Until then, the writers of The Half Hour News Hour might not only want to keep their day jobs. They might want to also see if Burger King needs extra fry cooks at night.

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