Friday, March 23, 2007

 

Have You Seen A Ford Lately?

The local Tennessee paper catches up with Harold Ford Jr. and finds life's pretty good:

His election to a House seat in 1996 was the first real job Ford had. In the four months since the election, he has four new ones — Merrill Lynch vice chairman, Fox News commentator, Vanderbilt guest professor and chairman of the Democratic Leadership Committee — the last a job that Bill Clinton used to lay the groundwork for his national political ambitions. Ford, who turns 37 next month, makes no secret of the fact that this hiatus from politics won't last long.
Single, making some pretty good money -- and not even 40 yet.

As Donna Brazile mentions, the one thing he needs to do to make himself an unstoppable political candidate next time around is to get married and have at least one kid. I maintain that the notorious "Playboy" ad undermined him, not because of racial factors, but that it made him look like too carefree a bachelor to be taken seriously as a senator.

It would have been one thing if he'd been 20 years older, but had a couple of adult kids -- and was single. But a young, never married bachelor was at a disadvantage in a southern state.

Anyway, it will be interesting watching Harold Ford over the next several years (the fact that liberals are attacking him for becoming a Fox contributor and think he's too Republican can only help him in Tennessee).

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Open Thread

A thread, a thread, my kingdom for a thread!!

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Another Request For Al to Be-Gonzo

Regular administration supporter Captain Ed (not to be confused with regular RT supporter "Ed, My Ed") links approvingly to Charles Krauthammer's column calling for the sacking of Gonzales.

To paraphrase an old political cliche: It's not the crime, it's the stupidity (or "incompetence", take your pick).

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Friday Comic Book Blogging

Yes, we all love our comic books and the fascinating discussions that they engender on contemporary real-world issues. However, the medium started out in what were once known as newspaper "funny pages."

Here then is a list of sequential art that puts the "comic" (unintentional, though it may be) in "comic book".

(Hat tip to reader Gerry).

Some similarly-themed humor can also be found at the always valuable Superdickery.com.

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Friday Trivia! Irish edition

1. Who originally did the song Take Me to the River which was later covered by the Talking Heads?

2. Which food company was originally formed as the Minnesota Valley Canning Company, and later purchased by General Mills?

3. What was the nickname of the Vermont Republic's militia led by Ethan Allen?

4. What Oscar-nominated 1991 film was based on a novel by Fannie Flagg?

5. Who wrote the 1940 novel The Power and the Glory?


ANSWERS:
1. Al Green
2. Green Giant
3. Green Mountain Boys
4. Fried Green Tomatoes
5. Graham Greene

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Retro Record Moment

And now from crazy black women (see below) to beautiful, talented and intelligent ones. Straight out of Compton, Port-au-Prince, comes this week's musical flashback, Hazel Scott. Like our gracious blog host, Ms. Scott was born in Trinidad and moved to New York City at a young age.

Though little known today among the listeners of monotonously repetitive tonic pop chords and shrill American Idol warblers, Ms. Scott was an accomplished jazz and classical pianist who was married to Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. at one time. Contrary to popular belief, Nat King Cole was NOT the first African-American entertainer with a national TV show, Ms. Scott was. Sit back and enjoy a woman of real talent, class, and multilingual ability from this 1955 clip. She's accompanied by some young bass fella that may have made a name for himself and Joni Mitchell in later years ...


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Thursday, March 22, 2007

 

How Stella Got Her Brokeback ...

... or, "For Colored Girls Who Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Was Too Much."

Madscribe:
Normally, I try to live by the adage of my military hero,
Admiral Hyman Rickover, that "Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people." However, as an Opinionated African-American Male Veteran that hates that whole line of garbage "He-Man Hatin' Black Earth Momma" lit, ranging from Toni Morrison to the spacey Alice Walker, I find the latest installment in Terry McMillan's "Mah Man Done Lef' Me fo' Another Man" saga to be funny as hell. Although RAG takes his fellow journalist-of-color to task in the post below for playing the race card, I think there is some merit to the argument. After all, the Black Community and the White Left have said little to nothing of Ms. McMillan's use of the F-WORD after finding out that her cradle-robbed dreamboat, the inspiration for Taye Digg's star-turn in How Stella Got Her Groove Back, was gay. Yet, Ann Coulter (far right-fully so) was excoriated for same such behavior. Looks like a racial double standard to me. If it was wrong for Coulter (and it was), then it was wrong for McMillan.

Ms. McMillan, in collusion with her "Sistah In Da Struggle," Oprah "Bigger Than Jesus AND John Lennon" Winfrey, has helped to create a new Salem Witch Trial mentality among black women with the whole
"Down Low" bugaboo. It was bad enough when angry hoes went after us straight bruthas in the "Color Purple" era. I guess they won't be happy until ALL black men, including the gay ones, are exterminated, castrated, or marginalized into oblivion.

Anyhoo, Ms. McMillan is claiming that her former husby's coming out of the closet has wrecked her, emotionally and professionally, to the tune of $40 Million. I expect this case to be thrown out of court, as public figures generally have less of a claim to defamation torts than Mr. Average Joe Citizen. Perhaps, Ms. McMillan, the fault lies not in the stars of Fire Island, but with thyself?

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Race Replaces Patriotism...

...in the "last-refuge-of-the-scoundrel" category (except those days when itis the first refuge).

I should have realized this before! AGAG (Attorney General Alberto Gonzales) is being attacked by Democrats because he's, of course, Latino:
The nation's first Hispanic attorney general is being pressured to resign by -- pick 'em -- Democrats trying to make hay, an elite media that long opposed him, civil libertarians who condemn administration policy on detainees and wiretaps, conservatives who think Gonzales is too liberal, and liberals who think he's too conservative.

The list even includes a pair of immigrant-baiting members of Congress -- Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-California and Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colorado -- who fell out with Gonzales over the prosecution of two ex-border patrol agents.

Leading this lynch mob are white liberals who resent Gonzales because they can't claim the credit for his life's accomplishments and because they can't get him to curtsy. Why should he? Gonzales doesn't owe them a damn thing.
Riiiight! Envy over Gonzales' role as an independent Hispanic is driving the calls for Gonzales' head!

Put aside whether there are legitimate merits to the U.S. attorneys' controversy. For the sake of argument, let's just say it's all political BS. Even then, the bias at play has NOTHING to do with Gonzales' ethnicity. It's because he's, um, how do I say this politely -- a Republican working for a Republican president and Congress is now filled with Democrats who are "biased" against Republicans!

Did Republicans go after Janet Reno because she was a woman -- or Mike Espy because he was black? No, it was because those two were Democrats -- and Congress was made up of Republicans (it may also have something to do with the fact that Reno was incompetent and Espy was corrupt)!

This is what OPPOSITION parties (especially those with subpoena power) do -- go after the other guy's guy.

It may be that he made a whopper here in trusting his No. 2 not to hand over the hiring and firing of U.S. attorneys to a political hack like Rove. But then, Gonzales' critics aren't after the truth. They're after him.
Oh, please.

Why would Gonzales be afraid of handing information over to "a political hack like Rove"? Gonzales is himself a "political hack" -- and a pretty poor one at that. White liberals (or white conservatives, for that matter) aren't out to "lynch" Gonzales because "they can't claim the credit for his life's accomplishments." Of course not, only George W. Bush can make that claim.

AGAG got his job the old-fashioned way-- his pal became president. And he's subject to criticism now for an old-fashioned way -- because his pal is the president.

And, yeah, he's an abominable manager whose agency screwed up -- at best -- the dismissal of federal prosecutors.

But it is nice to see a conservative columnist getting almost as good at playing the race-victim card as liberals!

Viva progress!

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R.I.P. Larry "Bud" Melman


According to CNN.com:
"The balding, bespectacled nebbish who gained cult status as the oddball Larry "Bud" Melman on David Letterman's late-night television shows has died after a long illness.

Brooklyn-born Calvert DeForest, who was 85, died Monday at a hospital on Long Island, the Letterman show announced Wednesday.
"

I always thought Melman was one of the funniest parts of the Letterman show. Melman's brutal sincerity made a nice complement to Letterman's tongue-in-cheek style. Melman brought a comic sledgehammer to Letterman's straight man setups.

The saddest part of the story:
"There will be no funeral service for DeForest, who left no survivors."

God bless you DeForest. You made a lot of people laugh, and that is a pretty good legacy to leave behind.

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Crito Alito

Madscribe:
Just on the basis of Justice Alito's statements this past week on the issue of the First Amendment and free speech rights (the so-called "Bong Hits for Jesus" case), I'm hesitantly willing to concede that George W. Bush may have actually gotten one thing, the nomination of
Samuel Alito, correct in his wretchedly pathetic presidency. I was particularly heartened by Justice Alito's critique of public schools using ambiguous arguments for the expansion of state power and curtailment of individual expression.

(Sidenote: With more than one scholarly Italian-American on today's court, maybe the idiots in Hollywood and the so-called "non-racist liberal" mainstream media will stop portraying them all as breakers of the law rather than defenders? Spike Lee, that means you too.)

I don't expect Justice Alito to be the Gatekeeper of Free Speech that Hugo Black was (a justice that took every word of "Congress shall make NO LAW" quite literally). It is a wonderful thing, however, to see that there is at least one Republican-nominee on the SCOTUS that can still faintly remember what constituted conservative jurisprudence, before the arrival of
Le Texan Terrible and his Son of Great Society endless welfare-warfare state.

For those of us who'd rather read and use their own brains, as opposed to accepting the facile regurgitations of Al Franken, Bill O'Reilly, Chris Matthews, Rush Limbaugh or other puerile pundits, you can access the oral arguments here.

As a side rant, those pebble-brained partisans (LEFT or RIGHT) that complain about the nature of our land's Highest Court should remember that one reason the Founding Fathers chose to make Supreme Court justices lifetime appointees was to give them an opportunity to decide matters of constitutional law with little fear of political repercussion, the popularity contest psychology and cognitive stupidity of elections, or having to appeal to the lowly IQs and jurisprudential ignorance of the moronic masses. On historical balance, this decision by the Constitution's Framers has done more good than harm.

Case in point: Earl Warren who, as governor of California in the 1940s was responsible for the unjust incarceration of the Japanese-American population in his state (somebody PLEASE bitchslap Michelle Malkin for me). As an elected official, Warren bowed to the pressures of elections, polls, and a racist idiot electorate. As a Supreme Court justice, however, he was able to humanely and sanely rule on integration in the 1950s, even at the point of death threats and physical intimidation, without the fear of electoral repercussion or financial support.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

 

An Animated Discussion

Madscribe:
A little mid-week humor. Apparently, illegal Mexican immigration has been a problem for quite some time, and for quite a few species. Amazing how you miss the subtext of these things when you're 7 years old ...

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A Critical Question...

...on the USA attorney firings is asked by Larry Kudlow:

Of course, the President has the political and constitutional authority to hire and fire these prosecutors. But why were these eight dumped? Why not the other eighty-five?
In other words, what's the criteria being used to dismiss these folks. Notably, that has yet to be found in the all the material tucked away in the DOJ data dump.

Kudlow also observes the strategic box that the failure to answer this question places the White House:

It seems to me if you use a press conference event to go over the heads of the mainstream media, and broadcast to the American public, you have to deliver a clear rationale for your actions.

Regrettably, I don’t think Mr. Bush did this.
Larry Kudlow is no enemy of this administration. That he remains so troubled by the WH's response shows just how deep a hole has been dug.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

 

Ghetto Not-So-Fab

Stanley Crouch's Monday column discusses how "ghetto" culture has been mainstreamed and universalized:

Rather brilliantly, what [author Cora Daniels] describes as "ghetto" behavior and thought is not color-coded. To Daniels, Britney Spears, Paris Hilton and Gwyneth Paltrow are, through their various ways and personal decisions, as "ghetto" as the stereotypical project tackhead with five children by five different men, not one of whom she married.

So when Daniels uses "ghetto" to describe something, she does not exclusively mean lower class or black. Nor does she only mean the super tacky bling of wealthy, upper-class black knuckleheads who couldn't recognize refined style if it slapped the taste out of their mouths.

No, her observations are mercilessly inclusive. They criticize and pull the covers off of a much larger problem that may rise most brutally out of projects across the nation, but have
not stayed there. These troubles are common to all colors and all classes. Every person in this nation is threatened by an especially obnoxious kind of narcissism that justifies all actions or ignores everyone else - including one's own children! - in the name of personal pleasure or profit or individual comfort.
Is Crouch right that the "ghetto" image is truly "universal" and not solely the provence of one "color" or community? I'm not so convinced.

Take the situation of Aleta Payne, an African American mother in North Carolina. She shares her frustrations over her son's white friends teasing him because he doesn't "act black":

Poised to start high school, Sam is at the age where he wants nothing more than
the acceptance of his peers. So this question staggered him. And while we
learned the basics of the story then, the details have emerged -- syllable by
reluctant syllable -- in the months since. That it had not happened that one
time but had built over months. That it was always the same small group of boys
who generally treated him as one of their buds. That he'd stopped being able to
laugh it off as the question wore at him.

"People think I should be able to rap or something," he said. "Like they see in movies and crap." Strong words from our almost silent son. "They want me to act like something I'm not."

Sam is studious and quiet, much as his father and I were at his age. He
inherited my light complexion and poor eyesight, his father's analytical mind
and love of tennis. Apparently his wire-rimmed glasses and athletic leanings
undermined any "street cred."
This is the flip-side of the oft-repeated tale of the studious black student teased by other blacks because he is perceived as "acting white." Where else, but from the popular culture would white middle-class kids get the idea that one of their black peers isn't "black enough" because he doesn't want go the "thug" route?

The white American love affair with black culture goes back generations. Indeed rock 'n' roll is was built upon it. Hip-hop has now taken its place. However, unlike with what happened with R&B -- appropriated and transformed into rock, whites have just adopted hip-hop culture and absorbed its tropes. Thus, the N-word is something whites feel they can casually call their black friends -- and each other. But, more importantly, it's not just the language: It's clothing, style, culture, etc. And it is pervasive: Most urban-oriented popular culture -- music, movies, sports -- gives one basic archetype of how black is supposed to look and act.

To be "hip-hop", "black" and "ghetto" is to be hard, scowl and have a fierce "edge." To be athletic, one has to be a "baller." Otherwise, you're not "really" black.

And, so what does one say to a black young man who seems to prefer being the next Arthur Ashe, rather than the next 50 cent? How do we tell him that he has become victimized by a self-generated black stereotype?

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Monday, March 19, 2007

 

Gonzo Daddy Gone

Stick a fork in AGAG, who is apparently dead to hill Republicans, says The Politico:


In a sign of Republican despair, GOP political strategists on Capitol Hill said that it is too late for Gonzales' departure to head off a full-scale Democratic investigation into the motives and timing behind the firing of eight U.S. attorneys.

"Democrats smell blood in the water, and (Gonzales') resignation won't stop them," said a well-connected Republican Senate aide. "And on our side, no one's going to defend him. All we can do is warn Democrats against overreaching."

A main reason Gonzales is finding few friends even among Republicans is that he has long been regarded with suspicion by conservatives who have questioned his ideological purity. In the past, these conservatives warned the White House against nominating him for the Supreme Court. Now they're using the controversy over the firing of eight federal prosecutors to take out their pent-up frustrations with how he has handled his leadership at Justice and how the White House has treated Congress.

Complaints range from his handling of immigration cases to his alleged ceding of power in the department to career officials instead of movement conservatives.
Clearly, I was an optimist on my view this morning on Gonzales' fate (though "less than 30 percent" is hardly any sort of endorsement). Given what my NCAA pool looks like, I shouldn't be surprised.

UPDATE (Tuesday 3/20) : The president announced his "strong backing" of Gonzales. Is it real? Or is it the equivalent of the baseball team owner giving his manager a strong "vote of confidence" -- before canning him a week later? We shall see.

What is fascinating about this story is how, sadly, it raises the "competence" issue with this administration -- an issue that has arisen on both the Iraq and Katrina stories. This has been the overarching problem, whether from a perspective of ideology or "politics." An administration is perfectly entitled to fire individuals for "political" reasons -- yet they haven't even been able to do that correctly. Let's take the argument at face value that say that initial plans to fire the USAs were hatched in late 2004 -- apparently confirmed by released DOJ e-mails. Fine: Go ahead and do it!

No one would have raised an eyebrow if Bush decided to do a mini-housecleaning right after he was re-elected (or re-inaugurated). Instead, for whatever reason, they waited until a time when it looked not just "political" in the good sense (i.e., getting rid of people who weren't executing admin policies), but "political" in the bad sense (getting rid of people investigating activities that could embarrass the administration -- or people who didn't want to use their office to go on political witch-hunts).

This is reminiscent of the botched handling of the Rumsfeld situation. My former boss, Newt Gingrich, has said that if Rummy had been canned in fall '06, Republicans could have held the Senate and reduced House losses by 10 (i.e. Democrats would have still taken the House, but only gained about 20 or seats). Instead, Bush waits until the day AFTER the election to do what nearly everyone in Washington -- and beyond -- (pro- and anti-war) knew was the right thing to do months beforehand.

As the latest issue of NR says, can't anyone here play this game?

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Burned By The USA?

As the fired prosecutor case continues to unfold, these details help support GOP criticisms of New Mexico U.S. Attorney David (don't call me Julio) Iglesias:
The first whiff of something suspicious came when a 15-year-old boy received a voter registration card in the mail. Soon a second one arrived. Then his 13-year-old neighbor got one, too.

Neither boy had applied for the cards, and it looked as if their signatures and birthdates had been forged. It was August 2004, and the local authorities quickly traced the problems to a canvasser for a liberal group that had signed up tens of thousands of voters for the presidential election in this swing state.

State Republican leaders demanded a criminal investigation. And with the television cameras rolling, the United States attorney, David C. Iglesias, a boyish-looking Republican, promised a thorough one. “It appears that mischief is afoot,” Mr. Iglesias said, “and questions are lurking in the shadows.”

The inquiry he began, however, never resulted in charges, so frustrating Republican officials here that they began an extraordinary campaign to get rid of him that reached all the way to President Bush.

Mr. Iglesias was the target of fierce criticism by lawmakers and political operatives, more so than any of the other seven prosecutors whose dismissals have set off a furor in Washington, interviews and a review of Justice Department documents show.
Conversely, Democratic accusations that the firings were orchestrated to cover Republican corruption appears bolstered by the treatment of Carol Lam (who indicted former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham):
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said in a television appearance yesterday that Lam "sent a notice to the Justice Department saying that there would be two search warrants" in a criminal investigation of defense contractor Brent R. Wilkes and Kyle "Dusty" Foggo, who had just quit as the CIA's top administrator amid questions about his ties to disgraced former GOP congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham.

The next day, on May 11, D. Kyle Sampson, then chief of staff to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, sent an e-mail message to William Kelley in the White House counsel's office saying that Lam should be removed as quickly as possible, according to documents turned over to Congress last week.

"Please call me at your convenience to discuss the following," Sampson wrote, referring to "[t]he real problem we have right now with Carol Lam that leads me to conclude that we should have someone ready to be nominated on 11/18, the day her 4-year term expires."

As subpoenas start getting sent out this week, the odds that Rove ends up testifying are slim and none (and slim just left town). On the other hand, the odds that Attorney Generaly Alberto Gonzales (AGAG?) is around one month from now are less than 30 percent. Not even Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.), perhaps the administration's strongest congressional defender, was willing to say that he still had confidence in Gonzales. Of course, one of the biggest problems that DOJ has is the bipartisan view that Justice officials -- particularly Deputy AG Paul McNulty -- were, ahem, "less than candid" when he testified before Congress that the USAs were sacked because of "performance-related" issues.

Meanwhile, kudos to Josh Marshall and the "TPMpire" for being the part of the blogosphere that hammered at this story from the start and pushed it into the broader mainstream media -- something that has just now been noticed by that media. On ABC's "This Week" on Sunday, Time magazine's Jay Carney credited Marshall and made a point to say that he (Carney) thought the story was much-ado-about-nothing initially, but now admits that he was wrong.

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Getting A Spartan Chance

On the basis of a late-evening Friday show, I helped keep 300 at the top of the box-office this weekend.

I generally liked it -- though it seems more akin in spirit to, say, The Lord of the Rings, than a true adaptation of an actual historical event. The various CGI-enhanced creatures that the Persians bring out to battle the Spartan fighter seem more cast from mythology and creator Frank Miller's comic-book roots than from reality. And, like great comics and classic films, there is a a black and white depiction of who the good guys are and who are the bad guys.

Still, the strong total embrace of the movie by conservatives, is mildly surprising.

Actually, in a sense it is not: Conservatives who are embracing the "values" of 300, are those who would rather elevate the "defense" and non-PC aspect of conservatism -- arguably, to the detriment of other parts of a contemporary conservative message:
Help me out here, because I’m having trouble wrapping my mind around a few things: When, early in the film, a sneering Persian emissary insults King Leonidas’s hot wife, threatens the kingdom, and rages about “blasphemy,” the king kicks him down a bottomless well. And yet nobody in Sparta asks, “Why do they hate us?” and seeks to find common ground with the Persians on their doorstep. Why not?

The Spartans mock the god-king Xerxes (whose traveling throne resembles a particularly louche Brazilian gay-pride carnival float), mow down his armored “immortal” holy warriors clad is nothing but red cloaks, loincloths, and sandals, and generally give their last full measure to defend Greek civilization against superstition and tyranny. Where are the liberal Spartan voices raised in protest against this blatant homophobia, xenophobia, and racism?

The only way this bunch of refugees from a Village People show can whup our heroes is by dangling some dubious hookers in front of a horny hunchback who makes Quasimodo look like Tom Cruise, and by bribing a corrupt legislator to tie up reinforcements with various legalistic maneuvers. When the queen finally kills the councilor, the others call him a “traitor.” Isn’t that both blaming the victim and questioning his patriotism?

You’d think 300 was a metaphor for something…

I heard the other day that one of the creators of this film is… yes, a closet conservative. And now he, whoever he is, is a rich closet conservative.
However, the very first statement heard in 300 are words that should disturb other more conventional conservatives. Forgive the SPOILERS that will come with this making this observation.

The narrator casually explains that Spartan baby boys are examined to see if they are healthy. Those that are not -- or are deemed weak or too sickly -- are, well, discarded. As in, tossed and left to die.

Call it complete post-birth abortion.

Furthermore, the film, arguably justifies this by -- another SPOILER COMING UP -- a plot point that turns one of the few survivors of this quaint cultural practice, ugly hunchback, into a traitor. Ephialtes betrays the Spartans by throwing in with Xerxes (after being told by Spartan King Leonidas that he is of too low a stature to be of help his fellow Greeks on the battlefield). So, there's a lesson for a "proper" military culture: Kill the weak and sickly -- lest they help destroy the best in your society.

That may be (in certain circumstances) an important message to be heard -- but it is by no means a conventionally "conservative", which is to say, a "pro-life" one.

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