Saturday, June 30, 2007

a night at the movies

Went to our local multiplex this evening, with Karen and a couple of friends. Before the previews began, the theater ran what amounted to an ad for the National Guard, praising its wonderful advantages and other benefits.

We all sat there muttering to ourselves, until someone had the courage to shout 'Bring them home now." The theater erupted in applause and cheers, and I turned to my friends and said "I love this town."

And then the movie began - Sicko.

We emerged from it depressed and enraged. You will, too. See it.

Canada is looking better all the time.

Friday, June 29, 2007

so much news, with many levels of importance

On KPOJ this morning (our local Air America affiliate), they presented an air-tight case for Impeachment, over the warrantless-wiretapping and attendant stonewalling and disregard of the Congressional oversight. Quite convincing.

Meanwhile, 5 more GIs dead in Iraq and the Bushie Supreme Court turns its back on its own precedents.

These, among others, are serious issues here in the human dimension.

And yet, my attention is drawn to the last three words in this headline.

Tick, tick, tick.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

obama, where are thou?


the solution to all our troubles

It appears clear that the strategy of the Democratic Party leadership is topermit the Bush Administration to 'run out the clock', rather than calling the Executives on their many, well-documented (and acknowledged) High Crimes.

I do understand the political calculus behind that decision, and a convincing argument can be made that, the longer the festering Bushies remain in power,the more rats will leave that sinking ship, the more outrageous abuses come tolight, and the more damage is inflicted on the already-crippled NeoCon/GOP regime.

With this, Democratic electoral prospects for 2008 are improved (given enough turnout to clearly overwhelm the finely-tuned election fraud techniques, that the Rovians have mastered, since the Coup of 2000).

The only downside that I can see, is that we face another 18 months of needless military deaths (a small price to pay for Power), blatant Defensei ndustry corruption (ho hum, nothing new there), and the continued transference of the nation's remaining wealth into the pockets of the already-hideously wealthy.

No problem.

I say, if we are going to be saddled with the Cheney/Bush Administration until January 2009, let's make some lemonade out of those lemons!

My remedy is simply to continue to go about our daily business. Let the Mainstream News Media continue to direct our attention to Missing and/or RichWhite Women, let the Stock Market continue to reflect the Good News of International Corporatism and Globalization, and, above all, let it stand that the Vice Presidency is a 'special' Constitutional position, with unlimited power to dictate (and enforce) national policies that were previously unthinkable.

We can let Clinton, Obama, and Edwards duke it out for the top slot. Heck, maybe we can even let Kucinich's voice be heard, for a change - what does it matter? The position of 'President' is, now, such a pre-9/11 concept.

Consider this: Al Gore for Vice President!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

surprise, surprise (not)

latest poll from New Hampshire shows Gore leading Hillary. Cool, eh?

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Cheney, Cheney, Cheney - scared you, didn't I?

Fooled again. DOH!

This has got to go down in history as the most-perfect expression of Self Actualization in modern times:

You are appointed to head the Find-a-Vice-President committee, by a know-nothing, frat-boy, scared-shitless figurehead, and you nominate yourself. Then, you take over all the controls, and let the figurehead President do all the ceremonial fluff jobs (that the VP traditionally handled).

I heard this morning that the Secret Service's code-name for Cheney was 'Back Seat'. Quite amusing - those guys sure have a finely-tuned sense of irony.

Bush was all-too-happy to let Dick run everything (more time to exercise and cut brush!) and, now that Cheney is a runaway train, it's too late to rein him in. He is The State, and the rest of us better shut up, and that includes you, too, George.

The perfect symbol of this: when Bush was called to testify before the 9-11 Committee, and The Administration (hmmm - who could that be?) insisted that Bush and Cheney appear together, not under oath.

The Edgar Bergen/Charlie McCarthy editorial cartoons were spot on.

Only now is it emerging that Back Seat considers himself as the Supreme Overlord, accountable to nobody and with limitless power, and, coincidentally, with a stock portfolio that, come 2009, will be in great shape.

It's hard to know if this is a case where the Bush Crime Family was outfoxed by the quiet guy from Wyoming, or if they are instead quite contented, in that Back Seat delivered the goods (think 'The Carlisle Group') far more effectively than W ever could have done.

Too soon to tell.

Friday, June 22, 2007

a very random thought, leading to a long digression

From time to time, I browse the offerings in the craigslist 'CD/DVD/VHS' category, to see if someone is offering the 'Vertigo' DVD for $2 (I can dream, can't I?), or anything else I'd be interested in. It always astonishes me (speaking here as a movie snob) how many times you see an ad like this:

"Must sell today - $5 each"

...followed by a list of 10-15 generally stupid and/or insipid 'popular' movies.

To me, this is a tribute to the Genius of American Marketing, which, somehow, convinced the dumbasses of Our Fine Country that it's reasonable to continually shell out good money to own a completely disposable film - one which is difficult to justify paying $8.50 to see in an actual theater.

I suppose that people feel that, by buying these DVDs, they are 'building a video library' that they will proudly display in their drawing room, to convince guests and potential paramours with their urbane sophistication. How else to explain this list, actually found in a craigslist ad today:

Billy Madison
Scary Movie 4
Stealing Harvard
Wedding Crashers unrated
War of The Worlds (New one)
Soul Plane
Family Guy Movie
Fun with dick and Jane
Stuck on You
Yours mine and ours
King Kong ( New one)
Date Movie
Saw II
The 40 year old virgin (New in plastic)
American Wedding
Die another day 007
NAtional Lampoons Black ball
Willy wonka and the chocolate factory
Malibus most wanted
The waterboy (Adam Sandler)
The benchwarmers
South Park Movie

Which leads me to mention the two most-recent DVDs I purchased for my video library. I bought them at my local Safeway, which had a 2-for-$10 special sale: 'Gettysburg' and 'Dr. Strangelove'.

I am an obsessive Civil War student. This goes back to the following experiences of my youth:

1) collecting the Civil War trading cards that are still fondly remembered

2) learning that my home town was the host to the prison camp that was called 'the Andersonville of the North'

3) discovering the weathered, stone block, along the curb in front of the Water Street house where my grandmother used to live, on which was carved something like 'boundary of the Elmira Prison camp - 1864'

4) and the Big Experience - visiting Gettysburg with my family, around 1958. I remember driving the battleground tour route, stopping at the key landmarks. I VIVIDLY remember the museum and the famous 'Electric Map' (with the narration using a phrase which was forever burned into my brain: "blood dripped in the Devil's Den".

But I digress.

I have read many books on Gettysburg, including the famous eye-witness account by Frank Haskell, and I was thrilled to see the film, produced by Ted Turner almost 15 years ago. For a measly $5, I could have a film that obsessed the writer/director for 15 years, that was partially filmed on the actual battlefield (apparently, they had to very carefully position actors and props to hide the innumerable monuments, statues, and markers), that involved thousands of volunteer re-enactors and equally-obsessive attention to detail, whose remarkable performance by Jeff Daniels completely erased all the bad karma from 'Dumb and Dumber', and, finally, whose eloquent and thoughtful script firmly established that Longstreet was right.

A couple of years ago, a chilly, snowy January, the Nature Conservancy sent me to Harrisburg, PA, to do some training on the Invasive Weed database I developed for them. I used that opportunity to use Baltimore as my base-of-operations (visiting friends there, from long ago), and I drove to Harrisburg via Gettysburg. I had an entire afternoon to drive around and had the place mostly to myself.

There were 3-6 inches of snow on the ground, but I spent a considerable time on Little Round Top

and at The Angle.

It was the first time I had been back there since my visit as an 8 year-old.

But I digress.

We look at Gettysburg knowing about World War I, and the profound futility of an infantry charging an entrenched line, that is well-supplied with (compared with the Napoleanic Wars) effective artillery and (relatively) easier-to-reload, accurate rifles. We today understand that Lee was blinded by his brilliance and successes of the preceeding campaigns (remember that his astonishing victory at Chancellorsville was only 2 months before). We understand (kinda) how 15,000 men could be convinced to obey the order to march a mile uphill, entirely exposed, in 90 degree heat, against Hancock's seasoned veterans, for glory and honor.

The 'Gettysburg' film was over 4 hours. I watched the first half (leading up to the 20th Maine's defense of Little Round Top - words cannot express this) at one sitting, and began the 2nd half. I paused it just as Longstreet gave his sad, silent nod to George Pickett, to prepare for the Charge.

It was appropriate to pause at that point, when it must have seemed within grasp that the Confederate army just might be on the verge of the final, decisive action, that would end (and win) the War, already in its 3rd bloody year.

I waited two days to watch the (now inevitable) finale. When it was over, Lee's gamble had been lost. Nobility and self-sacrifice were not enough to overcome, as Longstreet said, 'the mathematics'. The war would continue for two more years, and, if Gettysburg was a harbinger of the mass slaughter of World War I, even more horrifying battles were to come the following year, at Spottsylvania and (shudder) Cold Harbor.

But I digress.

Haven't watched the 'Dr. Strangelove' DVD yet. I've seen it many times. I'm waiting for the right moment, to savor it's many pleasures. Reading the Internet Movie Database page for that film, though, I did come across this delicious trivia tid-bit: Stanley Kubrick never told Slim Pickens that this was a comedy. Think about it.

I guess I can't end this post without shamelessly listing my own 'video library', in no particular order. These are films that I can watch over and over:

Lawrence of Arabia
Vertigo (VHS)
Stop Making Sense
Buster Keaton silents (a bunch - all VHS)
Rocky and Bullwinkle - Season 1 (3 DVD set)
The Producers
The Great Escape
Pee-Wee's Big Adventure

and, of course:

Dr. Strangelove

And now a couple that I picked up various places, that you can have for $2 apiece:

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (worth watching twice, but that's all)
Lifeboat (Hitchcock's ham-handed WWII propaganda - Karen won this in a contest - worth watching once)
Melinda and Melinda (hey, it was only $5)

Must sell today (or let me know and I'll give it to you the next time I see you).

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Just got one of those GOP robo-calls

Just like Randy Rhodes described a few days ago. The nice lady asked me if I would be able to answer a brief survey question, after listening to a brief message from Senator John Ensign. I naturally said 'sure', while quickly googling that Senator.

Of course, the recording was all about those damn liberals, especially Hillary and Obama, who want to destroy all the wonderful things that Our Great Leader, Ronald Reagan, stood for. You can imagine.

After a very brief delay, the lady came back on the line, and asked if I agreed that 'the country is on the wrong track, and we need to return to the ideals of St. Ronnie'.

I said, 'I certainly agree that the country is on the wrong track', but before she could launch into the "now I've got him" pitch, I added '...but not because of the reasons the Senator mentioned.'

'You see,' I continued, 'I believe the only President who has done more damage to America than George W Bush was Ronald Reagan.'

There was a short pause, and then the line went dead.

Wonder how they got my name and number. Obviously, they didn't go thru Homeland Security.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

so much good stuff on the 'net today

Just came across this astonishing interview with a former high-profile Israeli, who has written a book declaring that Israel should have moved beyond Zionism long ago, and, instead, has become a dark reincarnation of the Nazism that gave it both a Reason To Be and a lingering, destructive paranoia.

It echoes much of what I have come to feel about Israel, a land that was presented to my childhood eyes as a Shining Beacon of Hope, Righteousness and Optimism.

That vision was dashed after a visit from an old friend (probably 10 years ago or more), who has lived in Jerusalem for many years, in an Orthodox community. This person, born and raised on Long Island, who I've known since I was 18, sat in my kitchen and calmly asserted that 'all the Arabs are dogs, and should be killed.'

Something went wrong.

a revised Declaration

nicely done

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

first Kurt Vonnegut, and now this

Another of my childhood heroes is gone.

FLASH: Bush told the truth!

Remember, months ago, when he said, "Oceans no longer protect us"?

Apparently, this is correct. Now, they can kill us.

Monday, June 11, 2007

maybe we should have elections more often

Wonder of wonders - Gordon Smith voted with the Democrats in the Gonzales 'no confidence' issue. Nice to see him listening to his conscience.

Too bad the same thing can't be said for Lieberman, but that's another story.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Capitalism: the economic model with a sense of humor - Part II

Once again, we see that one of the many let's-give-the-appearance-of-doing-something-about-National-Security measures is relaxed, because the Travel Industry is taking a hit.

The best thing to come out of Homeland Security (sic) is that the TSA is able to offer plenty of people minimum-wage jobs, reminding air travelers to take their shoes off, and seriously searching grandmothers and overweight white guys.

Maybe we can get the Airlines to complain to the Members of Congress, that, somehow, these measures are costing them money, and that, unless some of this nonsense is relaxed, it's No More Contributions For You. That should do it.

And now for something completely different.

I read this, but couldn't quite understand the scientific explanation offered. I guess, if I read it again, it will remind me of something that I read previously.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

fun with scams

got one of these today:

Date: Wed, 06 Jun 2007 09:13:00 AM PDT
From: "Mapule Baloyi"

Good Day!

My Name is Mr.Mapule Baloyi, a credit officer of the Lloyds TSB Group plcUk.
I have a proposal to discuss with you concerning one of our latecustomer who is a national of your country.


You get the idea. I thought that the sender's name was so odd, that it had to be an anagram, so I fired up the Internet Anagram generator, and found some possibilities:


Guess I was wrong.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

music and terrorism

I separated the songs from our Seattle performance into individual tracks, so you don't have to listen to all the banter between songs (which you can still hear here - again, our group was called V'Chaverim).

The MP3s are all here, for your downloading and listening pleasure.

Now, to terrorism.

Last Wednesday, I flew from Portland to Minneapolis, and, in both the Portland and Minneapolis airports, the recorded voice informed me that the Homeland Security (sic) Department has set the current Terror Level to 'Orange'.

Last Monday, I flew back from Milwaukee to Portland, and, in both the Milwaukee and Minneapolis airports, the recorded voice informed me that the Homeland Security (sic) Department has set the current Terror Level to 'Orange'.

What happened between those two points in time? The Bush Administration (sic) announced they had foiled a serious plot to wreak havoc at Kennedy Airport.

You'd think that that news would have had an effect on the Terror Level, wouldn't you? Guess not.

Maybe it's going to Orange from now on.

Be perpetually afraid, and take off those shoes, buster!

UPDATE: maybe the Terror Level didn't change after the new Plot was disclosed, because the actual threat was disgustingly OVERSTATED.