Friday, March 31, 2006

Read This Book!

UNIVERSAL REMOTE

I just finished my favorite book in a long time, Max Barry's Company. It is a blistering satire of the corporate world. With its acute observations and round-about wordplay and logic, its Office Space meets Catch-22. It's only $15 at Amazon. The donut sub-plot is worth this price alone.

Some Daily411 contributors and readers may remember playing an internet game NationStates few years ago. That game was based on Barry's last book, Jennifer Government, which I now must read.

Go Gators!

SPORTING GOODS

Pardon my self-indulgence, but I stand to win a decent amount of money in the office pool if Florida wins tomorrow.

So, Cinderella story or not, I won't be rooting for the George Mason Patriots.

Snakes on a Plane: The Airline Policies

UNIVERSAL REMOTE

Here are some pretty funny crank calls made by nootropic to various airlines regarding their policies for snakes on their planes.

Southwest Airlines
American Airlines
Continental Airlines
Continental Airlines 2
Jet Blue
In retrospect, this sort of gag was inevitable. What stuns me is that none of the operators here seemed to get the joke. Jet Blue is my favorite.

PREVIOUS SNAKES ON A PLANE POSTS:
08/24/05 - Ssssssssssssss.....
10/04/05 - Snakes on a Plane UPDATE
11/08/05 - Snakes on a Plane UPDATE 2
11/24/05 - Snakes on a Plane UPDATE 3
11/30/05 - Snakes on a Plane: The Dialogues
03/17/06 - Snakes on a Plane: The Teaser
03/23/06 - Snakes on a Plane: The Artwork

Cannon fodder

MANIFESTO

Here's a hideous story:
Soldiers will no longer be allowed to wear body armor that was not issued by the military, Army officials said Thursday.

The order was prompted by concern that soldiers or their families were buying inadequate or untested armor from private companies, including the Dragon Skin gear made by Fresno-based Pinnacle Armor Inc., the Army officials said.
Look, I know we go to war with the supplies we have, but it's been long known that the military hasn't provided adequate protective gear for its soldiers. Now, with the Army dictating that soldiers can't even supply their own body armor, there's a sense that the powers that be not only want to place their underlings in harm's way, but don't even want them to be protected while they're there. It's really a disgusting mandate.

Connecticut's senior senator also sees it this way:
"Outrageously we've seen that [soldiers] haven't been getting what they need in terms of equipment and body armor," said Sen. Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.), who wrote legislation to provide reimbursement to troops for equipment purchases. "That's totally unacceptable, and why this directive by the Pentagon needs to be scrutinized in much greater detail."
Given the makeup of the volunteer army these days, it's one way for the oligarchs to control the immigrant population.

Barack Oblahma

MANIFESTO

Today's Hartford Courant features Illinois' junior senator's visit to the Constitution State yesterday wherein he endorsed Senator Sanctimony for re-election. Needless to say, I'm a little bummed that this occurred.

I wanted to see if I could somehow see a certain inconsistency here: You know, "Senator Obama has maintained that the Iraq occupation is an utter disaster" type stuff, but nothing of the kind can be found. He doesn't even have anything regarding Iraq on the issues portion of his website. I mean, it's not a pertinent issue for his constituents or anything.

A search for news stories where he speaks of Iraq repeats the same vacuous drivel that we in Connecticut are so tired of hearing.

No doubt the Illinois senator is himself running for a bigger prize. Thus, his unwillingness to actually state a position outside the tepid natterings of his fellow senators isn't surprising.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Re-evaluating the Mets' offseason

Sporting Goods

In the last week, the Mets announced that the fifth spot in their starting rotation is going to go to a rookie, Brian Bannister, with no major league experience and only six games in AAA. In typical Mets fashion, this was a short-sighted decision that highlights the biggest mistakes of the Mets offseason.

At the start of spring training, the spot was assumed to be Aaron Heilman's. Heilman was given a locker next to the four incumbent starting pitchers. Heilman was so dominant as a reliever and effective in 4 out of 6 starts before being moved to the bullpen last year that it was only logical that the Mets would try to get more innings out of him this year as a starter. Both Bannister and Heilman pitched equally well this spring, but Heilman is being sent to the bullpen.

On its face, the reason given is a sensible one given some assumptions. According to the Mets logic, Bannister and Heilman are similar as starting pitchers (an assumption), but they know that Heilman is a dominant reliever. Moving Heilman to the bullpen thus greatly strengthens the pen while not significantly affecting the rotation. The only way this works is if Bannister is an effective starter. Presumably, if he stinks in his first few starts, Heilman can be moved into the rotation without too much problem. (I imagine his arm won't be too distressed by the change if it happens in the next month -- another assumption.)

But the biggest assumption, and one ignored by the decision, is that no current starter will miss time this season. What happens if one of the Mets starters goes down to injury? There is no option in the minor leagues that can step in and pitch in. Right now, the Mets are trying out Jose Lima, who could not have been worse this spring. And if it happens in more than a month, it will likely be difficult to move Heilman out of the pen (an assumption). So the biggest question is, what is the likelihood that a Mets' starter will get hurt, or will need another starter? Let's look at the starters:

Pedro - He's got a bad toe that kept him out of much of spring training and a partially torn labrum. Let's assume he'll miss a couple of starts.

Tom Glavine - He's 40 but he's never really been hurt. Let's assume he'll be fine.

Steve Trachsel - 35 year old pitcher who missed most of last season after having back surgery. Enough said.

Victor Zambrano - average 165 innings in the last three years. Doesn't bode well.

Brian Bannister - rookie.

Now how would Bannister in AAA help this? He would be the first guy up in case of injury. He would gain more experience in AAA. He would be insurance.

Now, I hear you saying already, insurance is nice and all, but if the bullpen stinks, you aren't going to win games anyway, so what is the point. Fair enough. That assumes that the bullpen stinks without Heilman. What does the Mets bullpen without Heilman look like? Billy Wagner, Duaner Sanchez, Jorge Julio, Chad Bradford, Heath Bell, Yusaku Iriki, and Royce Ring as Heilman's replacement. Good/bad? I don't know. But I do know that the Mets brass must not have that much confidence in this bunch if they are willing to preemptively cash in their rotation insurance plan.

You'll notice two bold names: Sanchez and Julio. The Mets traded started Jae Seo for Sanchez and starter Kris Benson (and his soon to be ex-wife, thanks Sergio) for Julio. The Mets made these trades to accomplish two goals: (1) to open a spot up for Aaron Heilman in the rotation, and (2) to solidify the bullpen. Given that Heilman now has to be in the bullpen to solidify it (obviously taking him out of the rotation), it is apparent that these trades failed to accomplish their goals. At the end of spring training, they now have an untested rookie in the starting rotation and so little faith in either Sanchez or Julio (from all accounts, they don't trust Julio) that they had to move a starter to the pen.

Moreover, the cover their asses argument given by the Mets that Heilman is so dominant in the pen that it just makes sense to have him there is ridiculous on its face. Pedro would be dominant in the pen too but since he can start effectively, he is more valuable there. The goal is to get your best pitchers to pitch as many innings as they can, so long as they remain effective. I'd rather have 200 innings of Heilman the starter than 80 of Heilman as a reliever because I think Heilman will be a great starter. Maybe I'm wrong and he turns out to be mediocre. What would happen then? Well, then you move him to the bullpen where he is a dominant force. Bullpen guys only become bullpen guys when they prove than can't be effective starters, e.g. Mariano Rivera, (or in Mets history) Jason Isringhausen. Heilman was never given a chance because the Mets blew a couple of trades. Unbelievable. Heilman gets screwed to cover up the front office's mistakes.

Look, I hope that Bannister is lights out this year. I love seeing young guys perform well. And, now I hope that Heilman is in the pen all year. If these things happen, the Mets will be in contention for the playoffs. And nobody will even look to Minaya to explain. But if these things don't happen, something bad happened. And the Mets have no plan B. Maybe I look like the biggest pessimist with this post. But I like to have a backup plan. I still think the Mets can be great this year. I'm still really excited. But I'm more nervous than I should be or needed to be.

Can we get her husband back now?

SPORTING GOODS

From Metsblog, Anna Benson has filed for divorce from her husband (and one time Met) Kris Benson. She has stated that the marriage is "irretrievably broken."

As you may remember, Chill reported a few months ago that it is believed the Mets traded her husband because of her many antics. If that is true, and many people think it is, this is really a kick in the shins to Met fans.

Good God is this woman a pain in the ass.

The big 2-5


SPORTING GOODS

It must be baseball season because The New Yorker's current cover has to do with it. It's kind of an interesting take on the current state of the game.

By the way, rumor has it that George Foreman will have the lead role in The Barry Bonds Story.

The Wizard

SPORTING GOODS

I owe my own baseball numbers obsession to two people: Rob Neyer and Bill James. So you could say I owe it all to James, since Neyer is his protege. And I'm certainly not the only one.

Anyway, there's an interesting article about James, his work life, and his relationship with the Red Sox, in today's Globe. It's worth a read if you're interested in James or the Sox.

And I'm going to go out and pretend that "great minds think alike," and assume that Bill James was talking about John Flaherty here.
Do they make moves you don't recommend? ''Yes, sometimes I'm filing a minority report," such as this spring, when James argued vociferously against one player and the Sox invited him to spring training nonetheless.

Little Antonin, cont'd

MANIFESTO

The Boston Herald today has published the now infamous photograph of a particular Supreme Court justice on this past Sunday morning. And the Herald is standing by its original story.

Economic news

MANIFESTO

I have to admit I know absolutely nothing about this kind of stuff, but it doesn't make much sense to me that while "[t]he economy hit a soft patch in the final quarter of 2005, growing at an annual rate of just 1.7 percent ... the worst performance in three years," the Fed keeps on raising interest rates. Bernanke and his cohorts' latest decision indicates that they think inflation is a danger, but the latest Commerce Department report doesn't bear that out.

I'll be interested to see what my second favorite economist has to say about all this.

Lobbying "reform"

MANIFESTO

I suppose it shouldn't surprise anyone that, when allowed to create their own rules, the oligarchs in Washington will take advantage of the situation. So it is with the so-called "lobbying reform" bill that's currently being proposed by House Republicans.
With the spotlight turned elsewhere, Republicans this week backed off their vow to crack down on the relationship between lobbyists and Washington politics ...

The proposed new regulations stopped short of those offered weeks earlier when congressional leaders rushed to embrace reform in the wake of the political fallout from the scandal surrounding disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
So now that other issues have taken up the attention of the electorate, these jackals feel they can pass toothless legislation just to say that something was passed. Indeed, "Rep. David Dreier, R-Calif., who put the proposal together, called it 'real reform.'" Ho hum.

Maybe it's the increased allergens in the air, but stories like this are making me start to believe that Hobbes was right—that humans possess no real advantage over brutes except speech, and, like them, we are governed by irresistible appetites.

I trust I'll get over it.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

The mote in thy brother's eye

MANIFESTO

Why Mr. Danger doesn't like Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez:
"I judge the President based upon his honoring of the institutions that make democracy sound in Venezuela. I think it's very important for leaders to honor the freedom to worship, the freedom of the press, contracts, legal—to honor legal contracts, to allow people to express their opinion without fear. And it's very important for leaders throughout the hemisphere, whether they agree with America or not, to honor the tenets of democracy. And to the extent he doesn't do that, then I believe he should be subject to criticism."
Give me strength.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

He's made a huge mistake

UNIVERSAL REMOTE

Sorry all you Arrested Development fans, it looks like the series is dead. Creator Mitch Hurwitz has decided he will not be back to run the show if it is picked up by Showtime. Since he was the driving force behind the genius that was AD, it is highly doubtful Showtime is going to pay for it now.

Bow your heads in silent rememberance of one of the greatest shows in TV history.

Cleaning up the spilled milk

MANIFESTO

I meant to point this out earlier, but it was striking on Sunday to see Condi Rice on just about all the Sunday talk shows trying to disabuse the notion of American troops being in Iraq until at least 2009. Contrary to last Tuesday's "future presidents" rhetoric of Dear Leader, she noted that
"Iraqi forces are getting better; American forces are ceding territory, and I think it's entirely probable that we will see a significant drawdown of American forces over the next year—that's what [U.S. commander] General [George] Casey believes."
This kind of recovery effort is necessary when your moronic boss is without his teleprompter or his under-the-suit-jacket radio receiver.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Satire — R.I.P.

MANIFESTO

I see that Charles Fincher, the writer of my favorite illustrated blog, The Daily Scribble, has decided to fold up his tent. The reason? The Bushies are so inept that they simply can't be satirized.
"We seem to have a 'Groundhog Day' White House with Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld saying the same things and making the same excuses over and over, which can be creatively limiting to satire," said Fincher. "You'd think they'd consider a cartoonist's need for something new once in a while!"
Ah yes. How does one satirize that which is preposterous in the first place?

An' datsa fuh you!

MANIFESTO

Whoa baby!
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia startled reporters in Boston just minutes after attending a mass, by flipping a middle finger to his critics.

A Boston Herald reporter asked the 70-year-old conservative Roman Catholic if he faces much questioning over impartiality when it comes to issues separating church and state.

"You know what I say to those people?" Scalia replied, making the obscene gesture and explaining "That's Sicilian."
Apparently a UPI photographer caught the digital display. A libation of his/her choice to the first person who can post the scurrilous photograph on this site.

Little Antonin has really had a rough few days.

What did I miss?

WHATEVER

Looks like the most exciting thing I missed while on my honeymoon was the SoaP excitement. UConn goes out with a whimper in the Big East tourney before scaring its fans in three straight rounds of the NCAAs and finally losing in a thriller. Sox pick up Wily Mo Pena and Hee Seop Choi, which I think are good moves. USA Baseball can't get into the semi-finals, at home.

I went 10 days with no phone, no TV, no internet and no newspapers, before having limited access last week. Having no sports was essentially cancelled out by having no George W Bush. I highly recommend it.

And I highly recommend Costa Rica as a destination.

Strategy of a Madman

MANIFESTO

This morning's New York Times article concerning the conversation between Dear Leader and his poodle in January of 2003 is getting a lot of attention from the blogosphere this morning.

Among the revelations:
... [T]he president and the prime minister acknowledged that no unconventional weapons had been found inside Iraq. Faced with the possibility of not finding any before the planned invasion, Mr. Bush talked about several ways to provoke a confrontation, including a proposal to paint a United States surveillance plane in the colors of the United Nations in hopes of drawing fire ...
This would be absolutely hilarious if it weren't for the fact that it was the President of the United States proposing this imbecility.

It's as if William J. LePetomaine was the Commander-in-Chief.

Off the reservation

MANIFESTO

In its current issue, Time magazine has a raft of articles having to do with global warming. Even the fairly conservative Time-Warner conglomerate has to admit that the prognosis isn't good.

As one who's a generation older than the rest of the daily411 team—and as one who's a generation older than many bloggers—I have to admit my profound concern for the next generation and its successors. The notion of raping the environment has been around for decades, and the powers that be refuse to do anything about it, allowing environmentally hostile corporations to write legislation having to do with this life or death issue.

Kevin Drum provides a case in point.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Er, er

For highlights of the now infamous McEnroe/Lieberman interview of last week, give a listen here.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Bake sales

MANIFESTO

I've seen these bumper stickers every so often and given them the chuckle they deserve. Little did I know that a type of this sentiment might come true one day.

Today at the grocery stores in the hamlet where I live, veterans are soliciting donations from shoppers to "support" the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. According to a handout being distributed, the donations will go toward various creature comforts that'll make servicepeople's tours of duty less odious. (They haven't yet started to ask for donations for flak jackets and efficiently armored Humvees.)

While I certainly respect the veterans' efforts on this raw early spring day, I can't help but think that if GI George and his cohorts wouldn't be so damn insistent on cutting taxes for their oligarchic supporters, such bake sale-like exercises wouldn't be necessary. While I realize that the moronic Bushies truly believe that "you go to war with the Army you have," to ask for donations from private citizens for what should be a public endeavor shows just how vacuous the Bushies' policies are and how truly uncaring they are of the armed forces they've callously sent overseas.

Today's hypocrisy

MANIFESTO

Our democracy loving Dear Leader is bent out of shape over the fact that the recent Belarus election may not have been run fairly and that Belarusians are being impdeded from protesting their government's apparent lack of probity in the episode.

Sigh.

Friday, March 24, 2006

NCAA

Sporting Goods

Anybody else notice that there are a lot of empty seats for these Men's NCAA games? Is this normal? I don't remember this from any previous years. I'll update if I find a story confirming lower attendence this year.

Update: I'm an idiot. The reason for the poor crowds has to due with the time the games start in their local area. Forgive me, I'm a little slow on Friday nights.

Simpsons Live

UNIVERSAL REMOTE

A recent story indicates that
The longrunning animated Fox series "The Simpsons" ... will unveil a live-action opening sequence Sunday, 8 p.m. EST, a Fox spokeswoman announced Thursday.

In it, the dysfunctional cartoon family—Bart, Homer, Marge, Lisa and Maggie—will be seen as they would appear in real life, played by lookalike actors.
It sounds as if the intro will be what was referred to here two weeks ago.

SSS, cont'd

MANIFESTO

This morning's Hartford Courant takes a look at Senator Sanctimony's Wednesday afternoon radio appearance.

What I took out of the interview was not so much that Connecticut's junior senator "lost it"—I don't really think he did—but that he tried to defend himself in that whiny petulant tone of his that's driven me crazy for years. And his defense wasn't accurate anyway. While insisting that Colin McEnroe had taken his words out of context, it's clear that the paragraphs the senator referred to simply substantiated the point Mr. McEnroe was making: that the December speech showed that the senator, under the guise of "bipartisanship," actually was urging Americans, and fellow Democrats, to give GI George wide latitude in virtually any strategy having to do with the so-called terrorist threat.

The speech cannot be defended in the way Senator Sanctimony attempted on Wednesday. It can be defended as an apologia for the policies of the Bushies, but the senator, not surprisingly, wants to have it both ways: defending the policies of the Bushies while insisting that he really really really is a Democrat.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

More SOAP

UNIVERSAL REMOTE

Even National Public Radio is following the story. Take a look here.

Snakes on a Plane: The Reshoots

UNIVERSAL REMOTE

Today has been a wealth of new information about Snakes on a Plane. First the official artwork was revealed, now news of a reshoot. Today's Hollywood Reporter has a lengthy article about the background of the whole historic project as well as the skinny on recent reshoots that were in part a response to the overwhelming interest the movie has generated on the Internets. (I like to think I am part of this. After all, I do own a shirt.) Here's a Good Parts version of the story:

As film backstories go, this one is fairly serpentine. This month, New Line Cinema's Snakes on a Plane, which wrapped principal photography in September in Vancouver, went back before the cameras for five days of additional shooting at the Lot in Los Angeles...

...once production began, a funny thing happened. Movie fans...seized upon the title and started spontaneously creating fan sites, blogs, T-shirts, poems, fiction and songs. The title itself, sometimes abbreviated as SoaP, has emerged as Internet-speak for fatalistic sentiments that range from c'est la vie to "shit happens..."

In any event, Snakes-ophiles already were hard at work. Chris Rohan of Bethesda, Md., created an elaborate, R-rated audio trailer that lovingly mocks the title and movie. "It's a genius title," Rohan said. "It's so stupid it's great. It invites satire, but it's something you just love. It's something I can't explain. You either get it or you don't."

The audio bit uses a (Samuel L.) Jackson sound-alike shouting, "I want these motherf**king snakes off the motherf**king plane!" Soon, the growing legion of fans added their voices as they demanded that that phrase also appear in the movie.

Apparently, the studio got the hint. When (director David R.) Ellis assembled Jackson and others for the recent shoot, the filmmakers added more gore, more death, more nudity, more snakes and more death scenes. And they shot a scene where Jackson does utter the line that fans have demanded...the filmmakers do concede that the Jackson line will be in the movie for the sake of the fans.
Unfortunately I can't for the life of me find the "audio trailer" mentioned in the story. Neverthless, I've never heard of a studio shooting new footage based on fan suggestions. People are going to be cheering when Jackson utters his soon to be immortal line.

I know because I'll be one of them.

UPDATE (6:17 pm): The great Jeffrey Wells chimes and links to a great accoustic riff on the whole SoaP phenomenon. He also did a little digging and provides a priceless bit of info:
A New Line source told me this morning that they've added, for one example, a shot of "a guy being bitten by a snake on his Johnson." How does that happen exactly? He's taking a leak or...? "Mile-High Club," he answered.
He also reports there is a heavy debate about whether to move up SoaP's August release to the heart of the summer like June or July.

"(T)his is not a DVD thing," he writes. "Everyone is going to have to go to a theatre with their friends and bark like seals at the jokes and the shrieks and fangs-sinking-into-penis moments." And you, Daily411 readers, were hip to this from the beginning.

UPDATE (March 26):Here's a link to the aforementioned "audio trailer."

PREVIOUS SNAKES ON A PLANE POSTS:
08/24/05 - Ssssssssssssss.....
10/04/05 - Snakes on a Plane UPDATE
11/08/05 - Snakes on a Plane UPDATE 2
11/24/05 - Snakes on a Plane UPDATE 3
11/30/05 - Snakes on a Plane: The Dialogues
03/17/06 - Snakes on a Plane: The Teaser
03/23/06 - Snakes on a Plane: The Artwork

Naked Came the Vintner

INSERT JOKE HERE

Porn star Savannah Samson has produced a wine that has received a 90 to 91 rating (out of 100) from America's top wine critic. Here's a picture of the label.

Senator Sanctimony's Scare

MANIFESTO

Senator Sanctimony has appeared on both the morning and afternoon programs on Connecticut's most powerful AM radio station in the last two days. (He was treated much better on the former than he was on the latter.) This emergence from under his rock (the most he's been in public since his inane 2004 presidential bid) makes it appear as if he really thinks that a challenge to his Senate seat may be in the works.

And, indeed, as Atrios points out, Ned Lamont is starting to get some serious money from a groundswell movement. This could yet be an interesting primary race.

Speaking of Atrios, he's actually referred to Snakes on a Plane in the last few minutes. Alas, no reference to this blog.

Snakes on a Plane: The Artwork

UNIVERSAL REMOTE

In an effort to keep everyone up to date on all things SoaP, here is the official art. New Line reveals "the inspiration initially came from the Internet after [fans] did their own art." Keep it up SoaPers!

PREVIOUS SNAKES ON A PLANE POSTS:
08/24/05 - Ssssssssssssss.....
10/04/05 - Snakes on a Plane UPDATE
11/08/05 - Snakes on a Plane UPDATE 2
11/24/05 - Snakes on a Plane UPDATE 3
11/30/05 - Snakes on a Plane: The Dialogues
03/17/06 - Snakes on a Plane: The Teaser

Stupid Asinine Things

MANIFESTO

I've kind of been following the SAT fiasco out of the corner of my (good) eye for the past few days, and what a tawdry tale of utter incompetence it is. As of now, "4,411 ... students [have] received incorrectly low scores." This includes "the 1,600 exams [discovered] last week [after Pearson Educational Measurement stated] that it believed there would be no more problems." Who knows how many more incorrectly scored tests will be found.

Connecticut is certainly no stranger to standardized test snafus, but an unfortunate phenomenon has suddenly reared its ugly head—that of relating students' standardized test performance to teacher pay.
A new pay-for-performance program for Florida's teachers will tie raises and bonuses directly to pupils' standardized-test scores beginning next year, marking the first time a state has so closely linked the wages of individual school personnel to their students' exam results.
Given the frequent mishandling of standardized tests in the past, it seems ridiculous to peg teacher salaries to such an imprecise measure.

Save Our Bluths!

UNIVERSAL REMOTE

Good news for Arrested Development fans from Defamer. According to Jason Bateman:
Showtime has picked up the show for 2 years at 12 episodes a year (maybe it was 13) with a third year option...The ball is in (creator) Mitch (Hurwitz)'s court and Jason said Mitch will be making that decision within the next 24-48 hours...
Does that mean we can all get in line for some more frozen bananas?

I didn't do it.

Manifesto

From the New York Times story about Karl Rove and Andy Card:
By most accounts inside and outside the administration, Mr. Rove is relentlessly cheerful, presenting himself as an optimistic face in a gloomy White House. One person who met Mr. Rove said he attributed Mr. Bush's problems more to external events, in particular Hurricane Katrina and Iraq, than to anything the White House did wrong.
Does anybody else find the second sentence to be the most depressing thing they have ever read? Katrina and Iraq are "external events" and not "anything the White House did wrong?" I don't know if I'm more depressed about the arrogance of the view expressed by the unnamed White House source (although unsurprising) or that fact that the New York Times has no problem reciting the characterization that Katrina and Iraq are simply "external events" that were imposed on the White House. In simple terms, so we don't have to keep repeating ourselves, nobody is upset about Katrina happened but people are actually upset about the piss-poor response that allowed people to die as a result of the storm, among a myriad other tragedies. As for Iraq, people are rightly pissed about both its occurrence in the first place and the incompetence with which the entire operation has been run. The fact that the White House is framing these as "external events" should give Democrats more spine to run on these issues. But perhaps is it hard to get more of something that you don't have in the first place, with rare exceptions. Anybody else of the view that the Democratic party needs a serious bloodletting? Getting rid of Lieberman would be a good start.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Inasmuch as ye have done it ...

MANIFESTO



This cartoon pretty much sums up why I so loathe the Christian (almost exclusively Republican) right. Not only won't these morons walk the walk; they can't even talk the talk.

If you're interested, take a look at Matthew 25:34-45 for the allusion.

Dude looks like a patient

WHATEVER

From today's entertainment news:
Aerosmith singer Steven Tyler will undergo throat surgery this week, forcing the veteran rock band to scrap the remaining 12 dates on its North American tour, a spokeswoman said on Tuesday.

Tyler, who turns 58 on Sunday, will be unable to sing for two to three months following the operation. The spokeswoman declined to elaborate on his condition.

The band had already canceled eight shows since March 4.
Speaking as one who's almost as old as Mr. Tyler, I've got to say that there comes a time when these old rock and rollers should call it a career. This shrieking and gyrating on stage is definitely a young person's gig, and those who try to keep it up into their fifties (and, God help us, their sixties) are simply embarrassing themselves.

Desperate Times

MANIFESTO

To demonstrate just how panic-stricken Dear Leader is these days, he actually called on Hearst Newspapers' Helen Thomas, whom he's ignored at such events for the past three years, during his press conference yesterday. The exchange went about as one might've anticipated.
QUESTION: I'd like to ask you, Mr. President—your decision to invade Iraq has caused the deaths of thousands of Americans and Iraqis, wounds of Americans and Iraqis for a lifetime.

Every reason given, publicly at least, has turned out not to be true. My question is: Why did you really want to go to war? From the moment you stepped into the White House, your Cabinet officers, former Cabinet officers, intelligence people and so forth—but what's your real reason? You have said it wasn't oil, the quest for oil. It hasn't been Israel or anything else. What was it?

BUSH: I think your premise, in all due respect to your question and to you as a lifelong journalist—that I didn't want war. To assume I wanted war is just flat wrong, Helen, in all due respect.

QUESTION: And...

BUSH: Hold on for a second, please. Excuse me. Excuse me.

No president wants war. Everything you may have heard is that, but it's just simply not true.
I suppose that Ms. Thomas asked the question she's been hankering to ask for the last thirty-six months, but she couldn't have expected a forthright answer. Indeed, Dear Leader didn't disappoint with his platitudinous "No president wants war."

It can be demonstrated (it has been demonstrated) that this president and his coterie did want war—even before the 2000 election. From the sixteen infamous words in the 2003 State of the Union Address to Colin Powell's rigged UN report to the Downing Street Memo (and on and on and on), it's been clear that this administration has always had an agenda for invading Iraq. Needless to say, it had no idea what it'd do once the invasion transpired, but for GI George to suggest that he didn't want war is a baldfaced lie. Perhaps that's why Ms. Thomas asked him the question: so that Americans could once again see the mendacious—or is it psychotic?—nature of their president.

At any rate, Ms. Thomas couldn't have changed her opinion of Dear Leader as a result of his answer.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The long war

MANIFESTO

In his latest attempt to convince Americans that invading and occupying Iraq was the right thing to do, GI George has let it be known that the US should be prepared for what the Secretary of Defense has referred to as the long war. Specifically, our ADD-stricken Dear Leader let us all know this morning that he's really lost interest in the whole occupation thing and feels that others can eventually pick up the shards of civilization he and his cronies have spread all over the Mideast.
QUESTION: ... Will there come a day—and I'm not asking you when; I'm not asking for a timetable—will there come a day when there will be no more American forces in Iraq?

BUSH: That, of course, is an objective. And that will be decided by future presidents and future governments of Iraq.
And so, it looks as if we're in this quagmire until at least January, 2009 (unless, of course, a miracle happens and the House and Senate become Democratic, and we impeach the bastards—and I include Deadeye Dick in that category).

One might ask where the troops for such an elongated foray will come from. Many of the 133,000 troops currently serving in Iraq are National Guard or Reserve forces—many on their second or third tour of duty. Recruitment numbers have been down for months. Are the armed forces currently serving in Iraq really going to be asked to extend their tours yet again? Talk about a hostage situation.

And what of the idiots who put these poor men and women in harm's way? For all of GI George's protestations ("If I didn't believe we could succeed, I wouldn't be there. I wouldn't put those kids there."), let it never be forgotten that he was AWOL when he was asked to serve in one of the cushiest jobs the National Guard could provide him and that Uncle Dick "had better things to do" when he was asked to serve.

Molly Ivins discusses these issues much better than I can.

Wolverine!

UNIVERSAL REMOTE

The 1984 film, Red Dawn, is the subject of a number of posts on the blogosphere today. (Take a look here and here and here among others.) What all seem to have omitted in their posts, though, is that Red Dawn has the distinction of being the first movie to garner the new (for 1984) PG-13 rating.

I thought the movie buffs associated with this blog might appreciate that bit of trivia.

But Does It Come in HD?

WHATEVER

There was an interesting article at CNN.com today about rumors that Apple is about to discontinue the 60Gb video iPod. Why is this interesting? Because another rumor says they are going to be replacing it with a "wide-screen video iPod with Bluetooth headphones." According to Think Secret, "Apple's forthcoming "true" video iPod will feature a 4-inch display with a quarter-inch border." And here's the coolest part. "It features a digital click wheel, one that overlays the touch-sensitive display and appears when a finger touches it and disappears when the finger is removed."

Obviously, Apple is looking to do for video content what it did for digital music. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like CEO Steve Jobs is having any luck making a deal with movie studios that mirrors the so-simple-it's-genius $.99 a song/$9.99 an album plan he cut with the recording industry that literally changed the way people listen to music.

Expect an announcement around April 1, Apple's 30th anniversary as a company.

The Kiss of Death

MANIFESTO

I suppose I should say just a few words about Dear Leader's appearance in Cleveland yesterday: a disaster. To let you know just how desperate the Bushies have become, GI George actually took questions from an unfiltered audience. God, what a ghastly performance. ("Oh, and did I say we're making progress?") He was almost, though not quite, as bad as Ronald Reagan when the latter's folic acid level was low.

As noted earlier, any number of Ohio politicos refused to have anything to do with Mr. 36%, and that's what I really want to point out: Not only is Dear Leader poison to Republicans, but Uncle Dick is also. Viz.,
Vice President Dick Cheney was in Newark yesterday to raise $400,000 for Tom Kean Jr. and praise him as a "man of integrity," but the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate wasn't there to hear the gracious remarks.

He also wasn't there to have his photo taken with the No. 2 man in a Republican administration whose popularity among New Jersey voters is at an all-time low.

Kean arrived at his own fund-raiser just after 6 p.m., minutes after Cheney left. The state senator from Union County said he was caught in traffic on Route 1 after leaving a voting session in Trenton about 4 p.m.

"I have said I would not miss a vote to campaign," said Kean. "I left as soon as the last vote was cast ... I got up here as quickly as I could."

Kean said he was running down Atlantic Street toward the IDT building where the event was held just as the motorcade was whisking the vice president to the airport.
Damn that Route 1 traffic.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Six of one ...

MANIFESTO

Oh, that I were making this up. Apparently, at least one Republican in Connecticut is willing to take on Senator Sanctimony come November. Not surprisingly, the potential candidate is as small-minded and xenophobic as one would anticipate a contemporary Republican to be.
The first Republican willing to undertake the daunting task of unseating Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, D-Conn., will formally announce his candidacy Tuesday in West Hartford.

Paul F. Streitz, a Darien businessman who unsuccessfully sought his party's nomination for Senate in 2004, will challenge Lieberman on a platform primarily opposed to immigration from Mexico.

"It is time to get the troops out of Iraq and put them on the Mexican border," Streitz said in a statement. "Thousands of Mexicans and other illegal aliens from other countries come into this country every day. This is an invasion, not immigration."
Mr. Streitz seems not to care about the real invasion on everyone's mind these days. Be that as it may, a Lieberman-Streitz race would be an object lesson in "choose your poison."

The First Sign of Spring

FOOD FIGHT

Starting tomorrow, Shake Shack is lighting the BBQ. And you thought it wasn't warm enough to sit in the park yet. Burger me!


Sorry. Too busy.

MANIFESTO

Dear Leader travels to Cleveland today in yet another effort to bolster public support for the war in Iraq. Not so long ago, Republican officials in Ohio would have seen the event as a can't-miss opportunity to wrap themselves in the flag and around the president. So what will happen today? Here's the run-down from the Cleveland Plain Dealer:
Prominent Ohio Republicans including Sen. Mike DeWine, Sen. George Voinovich and Rep. Steve LaTourette say they're skipping Bush's speech because of prior commitments. DeWine is visiting his convalescing father in Florida and accompanying him to spring training baseball games. LaTourette previously scheduled a staff retreat in Washington. Voinovich has meetings in Washington that he couldn't reschedule. Gov. Bob Taft, whose popularity is even lower than Bush's, isn't expected to attend, either. Taft noted that he attended Bush's speech last month outside Columbus, as did Voinovich. Today's event isn't on the schedules of either Jim Petro or Ken Blackwell, the GOP candidates to replace Taft, their spokesmen said.
And that, folks, is what a 36% favorability rating will get you.

UPDATE — What's probably the primary reason for GI George's abysmal approval rating can be found here.

The heartbreak of ...

WHATEVER

As one who's had outbreaks of eczema for pretty much his entire life, I can't help but notice this interesting health development:
Eczema and asthma sufferers have been given increased hope of a cure today with the news that scientists have discovered a gene which causes dry skin.

It is hoped that the discovery could lead to treatments for the common conditions ...

University of Dundee experts say the gene they have identified produces a protein known as filaggrin, which is responsible for preventing skin dryness. A failure to produce this protein in adequate amounts can lead to dry and flaky skin.
To be sure, I don't have the condition as badly as many do (as I'm occasionally fond of saying, it only put me in the hospital once), but it's been a bother ever since I was crib-bound.

On the other hand, the condition was responsible for making me ineligible for the draft thirty-five years ago.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Sunday natterings


MANIFESTO

Today's events would be amusing if they weren't so disheartening. On the third anniversary of the Iraq invasion, GI George continues to insist that he's got a plan, although he concedes that the US hasn't been and won't be greeted as liberators.

For more on the day's foolishness, take a look here and here.

Not surprisingly, Digby pretty much puts his finger on where we are three years after the shock and awe of 2003:
The mantra on the right remains that everything changed after 9/11. (Dick Cheney said it again today.) Let's assume that's correct. If so, then undertaking this war was a recklessly dangerous experiment in psychological warfare that failed and left this country much weaker than it was before 9/11. All this money spent, all this fighting, all this messianic freedom rhetoric has actually made this country weaker than it has been at any time since the end of WWII. We have proven that we are a befuddled, undisciplined giant that allowed a radical political faction with half-baked delusions of grandeur to hijack the country. Either we make a precipitous course correction pretty soon, or the rest of the world will start banding together to get us under control.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

So help me Sam

MANIFESTO

For those who arrived late, a fairly thorough exposé of Wal-Mart's transgressions can be found here.

Boston Legal

UNIVERSAL REMOTE

I don't know the first thing about Boston Legal, but evidently it had an amazing epsisode last Tuesday. Click here to see an excerpt from the program.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Snakes on a Plane: The Teaser

UNIVERSAL REMOTE

There must have been something in the air today. I woke up on this lovely Friday morning and went I went to pick a shirt to wear, something told me to bust out my gold ol' Snakes on a Plane T-shirt. Not 30 minutes later do I receive an email that would change the course of my day forever.

It was from a friend of mine who is married to "Mike," whom you may remember as my sparring partner in the SoaP Dialogues. The subject line was intriguing. "Mike wanted me to send you this" was all it said. In the body of the message was a URL. Nothing has been the same today since I clicked it.

The official Snakes on a Plane teaser is finally here and it whets the appetite perfectly. There is no set up, no explanation about how or why the snakes are on the plane, just pure snake-driven mayhem. The immortal Sam Jackson opens with "Enough is enough. I've HAD it with these snakes!" as he cocks his pistol and commences to kill some motherf**king snakes. My favorite shot is the one of a snake entering the cockpit with a look on its face like it wants to fly the plane. Just the right amount of malice and humor. Well done, people at New Line. Bene.

Thank you "Mike;" you've literally made my day.

UPDATE: I've posted a new link to view the teaser. You must have Flash 8 installed to view. It is worth the trouble, believe me.

PREVIOUS SNAKES ON A PLANE POSTS:
08/24/05 - Ssssssssssssss.....
10/04/05 - Snakes on a Plane UPDATE
11/08/05 - Snakes on a Plane UPDATE 2
11/24/05 - Snakes on a Plane UPDATE 3
11/30/05 - Snakes on a Plane: The Dialogues

Thursday, March 16, 2006

An endless series of hobgoblins

Manifesto

I see that Dear Leader is continuing to maintain "the strike-first, or pre-emptive policy he first outlined in 2002."

However, there's a radical difference between GI George's 2002 stance and his latest one.
President Bush said [that] Iran may pose the greatest challenge to the United States and diplomacy to thwart the Islamic nation's nuclear program must prevail to avoid confrontation.
Say what?

If Dear Leader truly believes this, one might ask what the f**k the US is doing with nearly 150,000 troops in another country!

At any rate, it's clear that this is just another attempt to whip the American populace into a lather regarding yet another "threat" to American security. It goes without saying that Dear Leader and his cronies know which is the only political party that can save the country from such a parlous "enemy."

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

President Bush


Manifesto

Via Josh Marshall this video clip has to be one of the funnier things I've seen in a while. Don't forget to read the clip title.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

More idiocy


MANIFESTO

Notice that Dear Leader's speech of yesterday is getting virtually no publicity. Think Americans are getting tired of hearing the same old same old? Think ratings-savvy media outlets are aware of it?

How many times can you say "We will finish what we started in Iraq. We will complete the mission" and still hope to be taken seriously?

For all of Dear Leader's bluster,
A CNN poll released on Monday found that 57 percent of those polled believed that sending troops in Iraq was a mistake, while 42 percent felt the war was not a mistake. Sixty percent of Americans believed that things were going badly in Iraq, and 67 percent believe that President Bush does not have a clear plan for handling the war.
Thus, a large majority of Americans wonder how the Bushies can complete the mission if they don't know what the mission is.

Compare that idiocy with the absolute debacle that's become the Moussaoui trial. In their hysteria to kill someone—anyone—having to do with 9/11, the Bush prosecutors have subverted a judge's direct orders regarding the handling of the case. Moussaoui may yet live as a result of the utter incompetence and cavalier attitudes concerning the law that the Bushies have certainly shown before.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

So That Explains It ...

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Doh!

UNIVERSAL REMOTE

For the Simpsons fans among us, I heartily recommend visiting this site for "the greatest non-animated Simpsons-related video ever."

Light at the end of the tunnel

Via Josh Marshall, an absolute knock-'em-dead comparison between the Vietnam and Iraq conflicts written by someone who should know. As one who saw eerie similariities between the two almost as soon as the latter began, I can't help but feel justified.

Let's Roll

MANIFESTO

I've long believed that United Flight 93, which essentially became the poster child for Americans' resistance to terrorism, was shot down by US aircraft on the morning of September 11, 2001. Now, Ted Rall kind of ratchets this conspiracy theory up a notch by featuring it in his latest column.

Rall points out that a movie having to do with the jingoistic version of the episode will open on April 28.

(Bon voyage, Darlucky.)

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Americans and the government they deserve

MANIFESTO

Mencken's statement becomes more true than ever as
Rep. Tom DeLay, facing an unusual four-way Republican primary, won the party's nomination Tuesday, calling his victory a rejection by voters of "the politics of personal destruction."
I suppose we're supposed to infer by the last statement that he's never gotten involved in any personal destruction, but examples of his intimidating tactics are too numerous to recount here. After all, he's not called "The Hammer" for nothing.

I prefer to call him by another name.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Here's your gold watch, now hit the road!

SPORTING GOODS

So maybe nobody cares in the wake of the Barry Bonds bombshell (brought to my attention by Sergio), and with the World Baseball Classic kicking off in the US today.

But the Mets and Red Sox have had two events hit the transaction wire that should be greeted with joy by fans, even though the teams themselves may have not really done anything to make these events happen.

1. Bret Boone retired
2. John Flaherty retired

The retirement of each player means the same for each team. It means that rather than waste at-bats and innings in spring training on players who are no better than anyone either team has in the high minors, the Mets and Red Sox will be able to evaluate the younger guys fairly and give them valuable experience. Perhaps more importantly, neither player will be occupying a roster spot on opening day for no good reason.

Perhaps Bret Boone had more potential to bounce back, considering he was a star just a few years ago, but it was looking unlikely. See Sergio's previous post about Barry Bonds for the most likely explanation, though I am not one to throw out accusations.

Flaherty was just old, but I have another theory after reading that he gave no explanation for his retirement. I just think that he realized that it would be no fun to be Tim Wakefield's personal catcher. Let some younger guy with fresher legs chase those floaters all over the park, while Varitek gets the cushy job of catching Schilling and Beckett.

John Flaherty had a nice career, with his most memorable moment being the game-winning hit in the wild affair at Yankee Stadium that led to Nomar being booted out of Boston - the same game where Jeter did his famous dive into the stands. My favorite memory of him will be the weekly feature in a free NY sports paper that is no longer published, in which they would do a side-by-side comparison of John Flaherty and various pubs named Flaherty's, to see who had a better week. He held his own in those contests.

PS - forgot to mention, thanks to reader O for the heads up on Flaherty

EXCLUSIVE! Barry Bonds Did Steroids!


SPORTING GOODS

Okay, so this isn't news to any sports fan that hasn't been living on Mars for the last few years. But this book with this much detail is going to be all we talk about for the next few weeks.

WBC? What WBC?

This is no joke. These guys have documentaion on everything.

Blogosphere news

WHATEVER

Josh has a new Mac, and Kevin is still irate over the Democrats' inability to come up with a cogent national health care plan.

I agree with both of their positions.

Monday, March 06, 2006

A sad day.

R.I.P. Kirby Puckett. I loved watching you play baseball.

That may sound trite but Kirby made an indelible mark on my young life.

A new blog

I just found a blog (via a link on Atrios's site) that looks interesting.

Any blogger who describes himself as a "godless liberal" can't be all bad. At any rate, I've put it in the "Blogs" portion of my browser's favorites.

Oscar History (Revised)

UNIVERSAL REMOTE

2006 is going to go down as one of the great misfires in Oscar history. Crash beating out Brokeback Mountain for Best Picture is going to be a black eye, will be a black eye, on Hollywood for the next 20 years. This is a shame. This is a tragedy. This is Florida in 2000 corrupt.

Sure, Oscar has made some major goofs in the past. Dances with Wolves over GoodFellas in 1991. Rocky over Taxi Driver, All the President's Men and Network in 1977. Shakespeare in Love beating Saving Private Ryan in 1999. But this is much, much worse. Brokeback Mountain dominated the movies this year. It won the most awards, it entered "brokeback" into the lexicon, and gave late-night talk show hosts more material than anything since Dan Quayle was in office. It was the movie everyone was talking about, period. And it was great. It was transcendent. It was everything a Best Picture winner is supposed to be. Crash was none of these things. It was a well-done story with major holes in logic. It was a movie than prompted conversation but changed no one's mind. It simply was not as good. I hate to be dogging it like this because I liked it but it is nowhere near the level of Brokeback.

And we all know why Brokeback lost. There have been whisperings of it for weeks. Jeffrey Wells had been calling it the "Tony Curtis Factor." Older Academy voters, particularly men, were rejecting Brokeback because of fear. Because of homophobia. And nothing makes homophobes more uncomfortable than the idea of two men getting it on. For all the crap Hollywood gets about being "out of touch" or "in a bubble," they showed they can be as intolerant as any neo-con. And they've made history doing it. Shame on them.

I'm not the only one upset:
Kenneth Turan, L.A. Times: "...you could not take the pulse of the industry without realizing that this film made a number of people distinctly uncomfortable. ... In the privacy of the voting booth, as many political candidates who've led in polls only to lose elections have found out, people are free to act out the unspoken fears and unconscious prejudices that they would never breathe to another soul, or, likely, acknowledge to themselves. And at least this year, that acting out doomed Brokeback Mountain...(Hollywood) likes to pat itself on the back for the good it does in the world, but as Sunday night's ceremony proved, it is easier to congratulate yourself for a job well done in the past than to actually do that job in the present."

Wesley Morris, Boston Globe:"The memo from Hollywood seems clear enough. Better to reward the movie about people who clean our closets than the one about the men who live in them."

Tom Shales, Washington Post: "Film buffs and the politically minded...will be arguing this morning about whether the Best Picture Oscar to "Crash" was really for the film's merit or just a cop-out by the Motion Picture Academy so it wouldn't have to give the prize to "Brokeback Mountain."

Jack Matthews, New York Daily News: "...enough Academy voters found the gay subject matter of "Brokeback Mountain" too uncomfortable to sit through, meaning they abandoned their professional responsibility and didn't watch all five nominated films."

Jeffrey Wells, hollywood-elsewhere.com: "Most of the pundits are going to try to sidestep or soft-pedal what happened, and if you're looking for that kind of thing you know where to find it. This wasn't a replay of Shakespeare in Love beating out Saving Private Ryan. It was worse...a whole lot worse. Crash is a good film -- an emotional, well-tooled, sometimes profound look at several racist and heavily bruised Los Angelenos who somehow manage to listen now and then to the better angels of their nature. They do this infrequently and haphazardly, but just enough at the end of the day (and the film) to earn our compassion. Nice movie message -- now welcome to real life. The fact is that last night a lot of good-hearted people, bottom line, were essentially cheering the fact that a bunch of retro-graders and hang-backers in the Motion Picture Academy voted for Crash for the wrong reasons...The very thing that Crash laments -- prejudice against people of different stripes and persuasions -- is what tipped the vote and delivered the Big Prize."
Echoing Wells, the most important thing to point out here is this is not the same as the Academy voting for a sentimental favorite like Rocky or Shakespeare in Love. It is the fact that they voted for Crash because too many of them were too uncomfortable to watch Brokeback Mountain at all. Not to get too crazy, but we witnessed something like a hate crime last night. It's only a matter of time before Paul Haggis and the other very talented people behind Crash are forced to confront the fact that they won a tainted election. Their "victory" will be forever tarnished. It's a shame that these good people are going to be in the crossfire of this particular Culture War.

Plus ça change ...

UNIVERSAL REMOTE

The big business story of the day is that AT&T has become AT&T again with its purchase of BellSouth. I'm always nervous about amalgamations of this type, thinking that they might limit consumer choice, drive up prices, and cost jobs. We'll see if this happens in this instance.

At any rate,
AT&T's purchase of BellSouth isn't really about undoing regulatory action or increasing market cap. For that matter, it isn't even about phone service. This merger is about buying the lines that connect to the homes of BellSouth customers, and selling them everything you can squeeze down a fiber optic line, including television, Internet, movies and music.
The real issue right now has to do with ancillary services, including, most importantly, mobile services. (With this purchase, AT&T now owns all of Cingular wireless.)

Bottom line? We may yet see the mother of all corporate battles—that between the phone companies and the cable companies.

UPDATE — AT&T has already announced that it'll cut 10,000 jobs if the deal goes through.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Not on my tv, you don't

UNIVERSAL REMOTE

What Digby said.

Crappy and putrid things

MANIFESTO

Since the Connecticut Academic Performance Test is starting statewide for the state's 10th graders next week, a raft of stories have begun to appear about its efficacy. A story from Newtown, especially, caught my attention. Here's the deal: A mother has noticed that her children are severely stressed by the state's tests (she includes the Connecticut Mastery Test given to elementary and middle school students). She is, therefore, trying to sue various powers that be for taking away her liberty to protect her children from such duress as mandated by the 14th Amendment.
"As a parent, I am responsible for my child's physical well-being. Schools are, by law, responsible for reporting to the government any sign of physical child endangerment...which could lead to intervention from the government on behalf of my child," she pointed out. "So it simply doesn't make sense that the NCLB legislation legally restricts me from protecting my child's emotional well-being."

Beyond her hands-on experiences as a teacher and advocate, "having seen students break down in classrooms" during standardized testing, her personal concerns have motivated Ms Pierce to further examine the impact of test anxiety on children (lowered self-image, fear or dislike of school) and the validity of standardized tests in accurate student assessment.

"It is of grave concern that, as his parent, I cannot intervene and request that his exposure to standardized test be postponed a year or two until he is developmentally ready for such stress," she wrote in a letter to the state Civil Liberties Union. "I thought that the Constitution outlined my freedoms as a citizen and a parent specifically the First and 14th Amendments."
This is certainly one way to approach the foolishness of the tests. Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal has pricked his ears over this argument.

Iran nukes bad, India nukes good

MANIFESTO

Shorter George Bush on his decision to allow nuclear proliferation treaty non-signer India access to US nuclear technology and is rattling all kinds of sabers regarding nuclear proliferation treaty signer Iran: India has a potential consumer base of a billion people.

For this administration, money always trumps rational policy.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Dear Leader's Silence


MANIFESTO

A number of liberal media have raised the issue of Dear Leader's taciturnity during the infamous briefing prior to the destruction of New Orleans. Viz.,
[S]urely during this briefing about an impending natural disaster, the president would have had a few pointed inquiries. The experts assembled in boxes on his screen like guests on Hollywood Squares had just told him the coming hurricane "was the big one" and talked about "the greatest potential for large loss of life." Yet according to the Associated Press, which is the only press organization that has reviewed the video, Bush didn't ask a single question in the briefing, but told officials "we are fully prepared."
I can't help thinking that the president's lack of interest is hardly news. God knows, Bush fils has never been known as the brightest bulb in the box, and now to see his doltishness in full view is substantiating, but hardly earth shaking.

After all, this is the same moron who, when told a month before September 11, 2001, that "FBI information ... indicates patterns of suspicious activity [by al Qaeda] in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York," he just continued on with his brush cutting, or falling off bicycles, or whatever the hell he does when he's in Crawford.

Should we be concerned about Dear Leader's shallowness? Of course, but his intellectual laziness is nothing new. Should we be surprised? Of course not.

Explain it to me

UNIVERSAL REMOTE

Can one of our movie connoisseurs let me know what the joke is here?

Getting his ducks in a row?

MANIFESTO

I've kind of been touting Bob Ward of North Branford as Connecticut's Republicans' anti-Lieberman, and, sure enough, he announced yesterday that he won't be running again for the State House of Representatives in November. Now here's where the tricky part comes in. He also "said he has no immediate plans to seek higher office," which would seem to indicate that he's not interested in a US Senate run. More importantly, he doesn't seem to want to run with Governor Clubwoman for the Lieutenant Governor post, now held by Democrat Tom Sullivan as a result of the Rowland resignation. This is the real surprise since the state's esteemed governor is going to want some Republican to run with her.

I suppose we in the state can't count on Ward—or any reputable Republican—to run against Senator Sanctimony in the fall since even US House Republicans are encouraging their fellow Repubs to vote for the Republican-in-everything-but-name.

Thus, a Lamont-Lieberman primary, should it come to pass, looks like it would be the real Connecticut Senate election for 2006.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

One Star Short

FOOD FIGHT


Think I was gone? I kind of did. Coupled with really boring things you won't care about and some not so interesting food news, I'm back. I've been waiting for this. New York magazine already gave their thoughts and the food mags have been abuzz since day 1. Oh, sorry, you weren't that curious were you? Del Posto got its Times review!

Ok, this is important since it's no Italian restaurant has received 4 stars...and that hasn't been achieved here. He got 3 stars. Batali's had a 4-star goal and he was quite public about it from the get go. He has a huge presence in the food world and I think has kept on the good side of inventive creative food that you want to eat (as opposed to the foam, chemical movement where looking seems more appropriate). Babbo tops my NYC restaurant list, Otto is perfection due to the undescribably yummy olive oil gelato, and many of my favorite cookbooks have some of my families favorites. But the venture with Del Posto was met with excitement and skepticism. The plans for the large, operatic space decorated heavily with marble made it seem "soulless and spurious" and since Babbo was a universal hit (even if not a 4-star restaurant) people wondered if Batali could be a leader without going out on too big of a limb.

3 stars isn't chump change and he joins the ranks of a select group of restaurants. The food is universally well reviewed. It's less inventive and more classically Italian--his attempt to put Italian food at the level of classic French cuisine. If you can get a reservation by calling exactly 30 days prior, you'll need to a "quarum" to dine. A surprising number of dishes are available for two or four and elaborately carved and served tableside. This is interesting, but some say it doesn't work as well as you might think. The Time's biggest menu complaint was there was too much. I too worry about these big menu books. I mean, can you really do it all well? The valet parking out side was criticized as a little "suburban" which said in that snotty city way sounds very bad. Doesn't matter since to afford dinner, we'll all have to slum it on the subway. Desserts are lacking which is sad since I think that's most restaurants' downfall. These negatives are all fairly minor when you think about it, but then again, there is a reason the 4-star review is hard to attain.

Focusing on the yummy, here's what we need to eat when we go. To appreciate Batalli's "love of the offal", try the bucatini alla gricia or noodles mixed with guanciale (beef cheek, I believe), red onions and an emulsification of rendered guanciale fat and pecorino. Or try the Cauliflower sformato ("a puck of ethereal custard, rising above a salad of grapefruit and skate"); mixed grill with pork loin, a lamb chop, quail and a goose sausage; chestnut ravioli with pigeon; any of four risotto's (I'd opt for lobster risotto for two since that's been a highlight in other reviews), and spaghetti with crab and jalapeño. If you can even eat dessert, try the zabaglione, studded with green bits of pistachio-flavored amaretti that Lydia Bastianich (another partner) is said to whip up personally in the kitchen.

To end the meal, you get a little goodie bag. Unlike the mess of chocolates, bread, or breakfast items that some restaurants hand out, Frank Bruni's blog reports that they are giving out bags of breadcrumbs. That's a little weird, but I guess practical if you're a cook. And at $95 for a rack of lamb, you might need the incentive to cook at home the following weekend.

The Best of the Best

UNIVERSAL REMOTE

Of the 77 Best Picture winners, I’ve seen 43. (Not bad, could be better.) Here is my ranking of the ten best Best Picture winners. Incredibly, six are from the 1970s. What an amazing decade that was for filmmaking.

Note: All years denote the film's release. They all won Oscars in the following year's ceremony.

1. The Godfather (1972)
My favorite movie ever made and easily the best of the Best. The touchstone film in my movie-watching life. Getting up the courage to shake Coppola's hand a couple of years ago was one of the most nerve-wracking experiences of my life.

2. The Godfather, Part II (1974)
It is inconceivable to think of one without the other. Many think it is better than its predecessor, but I have to rate it a close second. You simply can’t overestimate Brando’s presence.

3. Casablanca (1943)
One of the most entertaining movies ever made. One of the few “classics” that still completely holds up today.

4. On the Waterfront (1954)
Brando's greatest performance in one of the best-acted films ever. His "contender" speech is probably the best monologue ever given.

5. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
The greatest thriller with the greatest villain in movie history.

6. The French Connection (1971)
All cop movies made since have owed a debt to Friedkin’s gritty masterpiece.

7. Annie Hall (1977)
One of the few comedies to win Best Picture and still one of the funniest movies ever.

8. The Deer Hunter (1978)
One of the most devastating films ever. Emotionally shattering.

9. Schindler's List (1993)
No one thought Speilberg had it in him.

10. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)
Classic Jack in a classic role.

Other True Greats: Unforgiven (1992), Platoon (1986), The Sting (1973), Patton (1970), Midnight Cowboy (1969), Lawrence of Arabia (1962), The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), Hamlet (1948)

I'm sorry there wasn’t more room on the bus for these. If there were an extra seat, it would have to go to The Sting. Redford and Newman remain the greatest duo ever.

Bush to Iraqis: Drop Dead

MANIFESTO

They were careless people ... They smashed up things and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made ...

—F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

In an interview with ABC News, the president was asked if U.S. troops will "step in more actively to stop" sectarian violence in Iraq. "No," Bush said. "The troops are chasing down terrorists. They're protecting themselves and protecting the people, and—but a major function is to train the Iraqis so they can do the work. I mean the ultimate success in Iraq—and I believe we're going to be successful—is for the Iraqi citizens to continue to demand unity."

Typical of the attention deficit syndrome epidemic that's overtaken the White House: Screw up a situation so bad that it's virtually irreparable, and then walk away from it.

It's no wonder that the vast majority of Americans are disaffected with these clowns.