Friday, August 12, 2005


Go See It


Great dialogue. Excellent chemistry among the leads. Cool homages to classic westerns. Fantastic soundtrack. So-so plot redeemed by tight editing and energetic pacing. John Singleton's best since
Boys N The Hood.

Oh, after Crash, Hustle & Flow, his supporting role in this movie and the upcoming 50 Cent bio-pic, has
Terrence Howard officially become the black Jude Law (in the "appears-in-every-movie" sense, not the "porking-the-nanny" sense)?

More in-depth review over the weekend.

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Clinton-Pirro Reality Check

The incredibly wise Erick at Red State accurately handicaps the New York GOP's chances against Sen. Hillary Clinton.

And he wrote this before Pirro's embarrassing "Do you have page 10"
flub that was a nicely-wrapped gift to tabloids, "Imus In the Morning" (he played the clip twice) and the New York State Democratic Party (happily posted it to their website).

Should a mistake like that be fatal to a campaign? No. And this one needn't be. But the reason why the state party practically dragooned Pirro into this contest (as opposed to running for attorney general, a race she actually would have a good shot at winning) is, only partly because she is female.

It is the whole package: A poised professional woman who has made a name for herself as an articulate district attorney prosecuting sex offenders. It wasn't essential for her to know all the issues off the bat.

All she had to do in her debut is to carry herself as a tough, charismatic woman unafraid to take on the tough, charismatic (as perceived by New York Democrats) incumbent. Instead, the prosecutor looked exposed without her script. The missing page suggested lack of preparation for a moment she knew was coming for weeks. Worse, one would expect that a seasoned lawyer would be able to improvise a few lines, until she got back to the right spot.

But, no, instead, an announcement that included a 32-second pause, ironically, on the phrase "Hillary Clinton," could not possibly have gone worse.

Yes, she can recover. But, she can't do it alone.

The best thing that can happen to Pirro and the other announced Republican candidates, John Spencer and Ed Cox, is for the state GOP to permit an actual primary to take place -- force the candidates to go across the state and make their case. The person who emerges from such a contest, rather than irredeembably wounded, could actually be battle-tested and much sharper to go after Hillary.

Would that person win? No.

But the race could be far more interesting and would at least force Sen. Clinton to spend some time campaigning.

But will the party allow a primary to occur? Contested Republican primaries are rare occurrences in New York. State party chair Stephen Minarik has already declared his preference for Pirro.

Well, given this Friday story to emerge on his declared "best candidate," Minarik might yet see the wisdom of having a wide-open process.

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Thursday, August 11, 2005


Savage Time

While not having a direct connection to my previous post, I should mention that Dan Savage is filling in for Andrew Sullivan this week. I do not necessarily endorse anything that Savage says, in terms of substance.

However, I will say that he is damn funny. The humor won't be to everyone's cup of tea, but it makes me laugh. I'm glad I read this AFTER the shuttle landed safely.

While Dan needs to work on his permalink skills, this conclusion to this post (scroll down to "The Perils of Heterosexuality") on Msgr. Eugene V. Clark's dalliances with a married woman crossed my mind as well: "If the past is any prologue, Msgr. Clark can expect to be transferred to another post any day now -- most likely to a Catholic girls -- school."

Savage demonstrates that he is more than just a potty-mouthed sex columnist. He needs to do some regular blogging himself.

Good stuff.

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Skeletons in Roberts' Closet?

Thought it was only a metaphorical term, dealing with the potential "surprises" due to the inherent vagueness of the Supreme Court nominee's background?

Think again!

Last week's
revelations that Roberts was a registered lobbyist for a cosmetics company AND did pro-bono work in support of the landmark Romer v. Evans gay-rights housing case put the phrase in a new light! As the saying goes: "Once is a fluke; twice is a coincidence; three times is a trend."

That adage has been restated by
others in a saucier, yet perhaps more oddly apt manner, as the Once-is-Cool-Twice-is-Queer (OICTIQ) principle: "In the realm of human behavior a single event can be dismissed as sporadic, but you have to take it seriously when you find a pattern repeated twice or more, especially within a short space of time."

Well, then, let's now add this almost-overlooked human-interest
nugget from the week after Roberts' nomination was announced:

Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts doesn't mention acting talent on his resume, but his role as Peppermint Patty in a high school play may say as much about him as his other achievements.

Friends said Roberts was one of the few students at his all-boys Roman Catholic boarding school who had the self-confidence to withstand the razzing from classmates after standing onstage in a dress.
Obviously, putting on a dress should not create an inference about one's private, ahem, leanings. However, there are females in the "Charlie Brown" universe -- and then there are females! He didn't play Lucy or Sally.
Peppermint Patty is, shall we say, somewhat unique and a never-ending fountain of cultural speculation.

Not mean and duplicitous like Lucy, Patty is a
pioneer or icon.

So, like the Romer case, John Roberts' stage role invites interesting questions: How much choice did Roberts have in the decision? Did it actually reflect his given preference or was the decision imposed from the outside? Natural inclination? Peer pressure? Did it "feel right"?

And, did his his childhood drag experience play a factor in his decision to go on the "down low" when it came to his cosmetics company/gay rights work? (Roberts neglected to mention either work in the Senate Judiciary Committee questionnaire following his 2001 nomination to the district court.) Did putting on a dress unconsciously drive him to pursue a professional career that would inevitably require him to wear robes? Did he, even then, realize how good he would look in black?

So who should really take the lead in questioning John Roberts?
Jeff Sessions? Chuck Schumer?

Or Carson Kressly?

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Truly Revealing Headlines!!

1) Bush to discuss Iraq, Gaza withdrawal, with top aides (AFP)

Betcha didn't know that not only is the administration considering withdrawing from Iraq -- but ALSO
from Gaza!!!

Scientists Crack DNA Code of Rice (AP)

Technology now exists to make multiple clones of the United States Secretary of State!!!

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Wednesday, August 10, 2005


Bush v. Rumsfeld

Bill Kristol has an interesting background.

In the first Bush administration, he was chief of staff to Vice President Dan Quayle -- a position that invariably caused some tension with the White House. In the first two years of the Clinton administration, Kristol's one-man "Project For The Republican Future" helped deep-six the Hillary health-plan with a series of tough strategy memos. In the mid-'90s, he founded the combative Weekly Standard, serving as editor and publisher. He helped pushed the idea of "American Greatness Conservatism" and applauded Clinton's decision to go into Kosovo -- even against congressional conservatives such as Tom DeLay.

In 2000, Kristol nominally supported McCain for president. However, he became one of the biggest boosters for the Iraq policy and the general war on terror. He still has many sources -- and former employees -- working in the administration.

However, he soured on Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld some time ago. Now comes this week's essay which says that the recent back and forth on "global war on terror" vs. "global struggle against violent extremism" shows that the president and the secretary now on different pages when it comes to the current conflict.

Kristol concludes:

The president knows we have to win this war. If some of his subordinates are trying to find ways to escape from it, he needs to assert control over them, overrule them, or replace them. Having corrected the silly effort by some of his advisers to say the war on terror is not fundamentally a war, he now has to deal with the more serious effort, emanating primarily from the civilian leadership in the Pentagon, to find an excuse not to pursue victory in Iraq. For if Iraq is the central front in the war on terror, we need to win there. And to win, the president needs a defense secretary who is willing to fight, and able to win.
However, the fact remains that this is not the first time that this split has been evident. In the weeks running up to last year's GOP convention, Bush himself sent both campaign advisors and administration officisals into conniptions by telling minority journalists that the war was "misnamed": “It ought to be a struggle against ideological extremists who do not believe in free society, who happen to use terror as a weapon to try to shape the conscience of the free world.”

(Given that construction, Rumsfeld's "GSAVE" is a model of rhetorical compactness.)

He followed that with interviews where he said the war on terror
couldn't be won and characterized the Iraq invasion as a "catastrophic success".

These pre-convention and election stumbles didn't prevent the Bush team from successfully portraying John Kerry as the candidate with a weak will on combatting terror -- partly because Kerry's own mangled rhetoric got in his way.

All that says though that it is difficult to accept that Rumsfeld (and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Richard Myers and National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley) were all free-lancing on the "GSAVE" shift. Bush last week finally re-declared his formulation that this is indeed a global war on terror that can be won -- a move that Kristol applauds.

But, the fact that this is playing out again -- nearly a year after Bush's own public demurrals -- suggest a real internal conflict.

Kristol lays the blame at Rumsfeld's feet. The secretary certainly has a lot to answer for in the conduct of the war, but it certainly seems this time that Rumsfeld and Co. are actually personifying a split that exists within Bush's own mind.

So is the real division "Bush vs. Rumsfeld" -- or "Bush vs. Bush"?

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Tuesday, August 09, 2005


Welcome Back!!!

Discovery touches down safely in California.
Vindication for NASA? No. Not with future shuttle flights grounded for the duration. But, a sweet testament to basic human courage, ingenuity and grace under pressure? Most definitely.

Congrats to Commander Eileen Collins -- the first woman to head a shuttle flight -- Steven "Mr.
'Extreme Makeover: Space Edition'" Robinson, Jim Kelly, Soichi Noguchi, Andy Thomas, Wendy Lawrence and Charlie Camarda.

Thanks to the Man upstairs for returning them to their loved ones, safe and sound.

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Sunday, August 07, 2005


Peter Jennings, 1938-2005

Succumbed to lung cancer, announced by Charlie Gibson, 11:40 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 7.

His passing also brings to a close the quarter-century of the "Big Three" anchors -- an era which will never be seen again.

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