Monthly Archives: July 2007

The Full Monty: Epilogue

MontydatesShow closings are always bittersweet for everyone involved, but I think for everyone associated with the LTWS/CTG production of The Full Monty, it was particularly hard.  Myself included.

It seems like years since we sat around on first rehearsal, with everyone stating their name and who they are playing.  But it was only a couple of months ago.  For me, it was some old and beloved friends and some new people I would grow to love and admire.

Since then, we’ve experienced our fair share of frustrations, laughs, wardrobe malfunctions, running jokes, feet going through walls, parades, promotional adds, etc.  It’s all been good.

The last week of the show was by far the best from a performance standpoint.  We had large and receptive audiences — even the closing show (a Sunday matinee!). 

We had a lot of two-timers and three-timers in the audience this week, people coming back to see it again.  That’s pretty cool.

I always marvel at how these things come together.  There’s a wonderful backstage dance that happens in productions like this, where things happen like clockwork.  A pen shows up in my hand just as I need it, right before I go onstage.  A cast member is there to help another cast member do a quick costume change.  Things like that.  They’re there; there reliable; you can count on these things.  Not much else about life that goes that way.

The nice thing about a four-week run is that the show gets really polished.  You’ve added things; you’ve changed things.  A subtle look here.  A pregnant pause here.  An added phrase.  You discover what works, and fix what hasn’t worked.  The last week of this show was, in my mind, twice as good as the first week, purely from a performance standpoint.

On Sunday’s matinee, the pre-show entertainment (a Triad Idol winner) sang the opening strains of "Tomorrow", and the cast — including seasoned vets — started to digest the impact of the upcoming 3 hours.  "Last time we’ll do this; last time I’ll say that".  It kind of got to us, but the curtain rose and we gave them a good show.  I was already primed for a letdown, having been reminded by Heather that we probably weren’t going to appear onstage together again (she’s moving to NYC).

But the show was a thrill, and fun, as always.

Then came strike, the ultimate anti-climax to a two-plus-month thrill ride.  It went suprisingly well and mercifully quick (as strikes go).  Then, exhausted, we mumbled goodbyes, made future plans to get together.

I got in my car and drove to Winston.  Seals & Crofts "Summer Breeze" blared from the iPod.  Sure I’ll see these people again (I hope), but not in that setting, not in that show.  Nothing like it ever again.  Tough to let go.

But what a journey, huh?

Previous Full Monty posts:

Roughly 70% of Soldiers Still Support Bush

Sampling size: two

The other 30% of the soldiers got blown off in Afghanistan and Iraq.

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More from the White House photo-op:

THE PRESIDENT: I’ve been running with Max and Allen — I mean, Neil. I met these guys at Walter Reed. Neil lost both legs, and he told me he’s going to run with me on the South Lawn of the White House. Max lost his leg, and he told me he was going to be jumping out of airplanes with the 101st Airborne.

***

Q How does it feel to be with the Commander-in-Chief running around the track?

SERGEANT DUNCAN: Fantastic. It’s an accomplishment. It’s like the pinnacle of recovery, I think. Being a wounded vet, coming of Afghanistan a little over a year-and-a-half ago, being here, running around this track is just amazing. I couldn’t ask for anything better.

THE PRESIDENT: Don’t ask him why he outran me.

Q Why did he outrun you?

THE PRESIDENT: Because he’s a faster runner. Anyway, thank you guys. It’s a proud moment for me, a proud moment.

What the News & Observer says — couldn’t be more true:

One hopes that the administration will go beyond an expression of interest. Bush should move without delay to carry out proposals in the commission’s final report, none of which are overly complicated or costly. Veterans are in need, right now. The Iraq war proceeds. Delay would be unconscionable.

Much of the work that the nine-member commission recommends is common sense and should have been implemented before the rush of casualties began to arrive in military hospitals and on Main Street. For instance, the report calls on the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs immediately to create comprehensive plans for the wounded, including the care needed, where it should be provided and the proper sequence. It says more needs to be done for service members suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. The process for granting disability needs reform.

The government needs to provide more support for the families of the wounded. Recent surveys show that two-thirds of injured soldiers have reported that family members or close friends spent extended periods of time with them during their hospitalization. One in five left a job to stay with a wounded service member. Certainly, families shouldn’t suffer financial distress in order to help military casualties heal.

Like You Need A Reason?

Researchers at the University of Texas surveyed people to find out why they had sex.  The total number of reasons: 237, everything from “I wanted to feel closer to God” to “I was drunk.”  The most cited reason: “I was attracted to the person.”

Well, yeah.  I would hope.

Now, there are a lot of reasons to have sex, and quite a few reasons not to have sex.  Of all the reasons not to have sex, I can’t get behind this one:

A  new phenomenon in New Zealand is taking the idea of you are what you eat to the extreme.

Vegansexuals are people who do not eat any meat or animal products, and who choose not to be sexually intimate with non-vegan partners whose bodies, they say, are made up of dead animals.

Many female respondents described being attracted to people who ate meat, but said they did not want to have sex with meat-eaters because their bodies were made up of animal carcasses.

"I don’t want to have sex with you because you’re body is composed of dead animal carcasses"? — Now that’s a rejection!

Policy Trumps Facts: Part XXVII

Yet another example emerges of the Bush Adminstration keeping you in the dark:

A surgeon general’s report in 2006 that called on Americans to help tackle global health problems has been kept from the public by a Bush political appointee without any background or expertise in medicine or public health, chiefly because the report did not promote the administration’s policy accomplishments, according to current and former public health officials.

The report described the link between poverty and poor health, urged the U.S. government to help combat widespread diseases as a key aim of its foreign policy, and called on corporations to help improve health conditions in the countries where they operate.

It’s nice that we have all these experts in government who are knowledgeable about things like global warming and health care, and the government KEEPS that information muzzled.

The report was blocked by a 37 year old guy named William R. Steiger, who is George H.W. Bush’s godson, and whose parents are friends with Rummy and Cheney.   What qualified him to 86 a report on global health?  Was he a doctor?  An epidemiologist?  Nah.  He’s a specialist in education and a scholar of Latin American history .

Enough Already!

Been kind of busy lately with the last week of "The Full Monty" (more on that in a post later-to-come), so I haven’t been watching the political news lately.  Apparently, I haven’t missed much.

Everybody is still talking about Hillary Clinton’s cleavage (or lack thereof): here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here

How Old Am I?

According to this place, I have 16 years left on this planet:

Biological Age:           44

Real Age*:                 51.4

Average Life Expectancy:        75

Your Life Expectancy:             67.6

Well, that’s a fine how-do-you-do!  Guess I gotta make some changes….

*Age based on health, lifestyle and habits

The Full Monty: Another Article

Hat tip to Heather for seeing this article (and from whom I am stealing this photo from our production, and yes, they’re naked here).  Yes, it does kind of act as a "spoiler" but not a severe one of the Harry Potter kind.  Besides, with three nights to go, any publicity at this point is a good thing, and this just might bring in the few people who were nervous about what they might be exposed to:

Fullmontygs0GREENSBORO — In many stage performances, actors must bare their souls to the audience. In tonight’s performance of "The Full Monty," the actors are going to bare, well, something else.

"The Full Monty," originally a British film about a group of unemployed steel workers who decide to strip for money, was adapted to a musical in 2000.
Since then, "The Full Monty" has been featured in touring acts, on Broadway and now, in a joint production between the Community Theatre of Greensboro and The Little Theatre of Winston-Salem, it can be seen in all its glory at the Carolina Theatre.

"It’s a fun play, but it calls for a certain kind of actor," says Mitchel Sommers, Community Theatre’s executive director. "I’m sure they had to go through some soul searching. At the end they are standing onstage completely naked."

Neil Shepherd, a 35-year acting veteran who plays the lead role of Jerry, agrees.

" ‘The Full Monty’ is a little more nerve-racking because you’re actually taking your clothes off in front of people," he says. "I don’t know why that’s different, but you feel more vulnerable."

Can I interject here a moment?  Neil is NOT the one to be giving this quote.  I’ve seen that boy naked in more plays than I’ve seen myself naked in the shower.

But I get his point.

But just because the actors are stripping doesn’t mean audiences should count on getting too much of an eyeful.

Bright lights behind the actors turn them into silhouettes just as they bare all in the final scene.

The trick to this, explains Sommers, is getting the timing down.

"If the light cue doesn’t work, the audience will get the full monty," he says.

And, as a Winston-Salem audience recently learned, sometimes not everything goes according to plan.

"There was one night … there was about two beats where the audience saw everything," says Sommers, laughing. "So, Greensboro better be prepared."

The audience members weren’t the only ones surprised, Shepherd says. "When the lights came up we could see their reaction."

The actors stress that although nudity is the most well-known part of the musical, the characters’ story of overcoming personal and professional obstacles is what they see gripping audiences.

"A lot of people are making a big deal of the nudity, but I see the audiences just eating it up and taking in the journey of these six guys," Shepherd says. "It’s all about these guys who decide to go for this, but at the same time they’re dealing with age and insecurity and being overweight."

Neil nails it.  Good show, Neil.

Though some arguably risqué shows have met protest from residents in the past, this one has yet to meet any resistance.

"When we first opened … and we could see some older people in the crowd, I was a little nervous about how they were going to take it," Shepherd admits. "But at the end they were standing up cheering. I fully attribute it to the story of the play."

Still, actors spend parts of the play wearing only underwear or G-strings, so attendees should count on seeing more skin than usual.

Promises Sommers: "For those that attend, they’re going so see something they’ve never seen before."

P.S.  One of our performers has a fan.

World’s Worst TV Interview

This trainwreck is difficult to watch:

The interviewee, Holly Hunter, is fine.  It’s the interviewer, Merry Miller, who seemingly can’t get it together.  AWwwwkward. 

At the end, she tips viewers to the NBC website for more information.  Problem is, she’s on ABC.

Bumfuzzled

I want so badly to make fun of Kaye Grogan’s latest screed, "Smoking mirrors . . . or a real firestorm?", but I seriously have no clue as to what she is talking about.  Apparently, though something serious is happening.

Classic Kaye Gorgan metaphor-mashing though.  Check out this paragraph toward the end:

We are rapidly moving toward the greatest firestorm ever in the history of America. And in the meantime, if you’re wondering why you’re choking — it’s the smoke billowing off of those old smoking mirrors.

Apparently, Kaye is trying to conjure the phrase "smoke and mirrors", but don’t tell her.  It’s funnier her way.

Saving Private Beauchamp

Beauchamp45The blogosphere is abuzz over Scott Thomas Beauchamp’s Iraq blogging. Mr. Beauchamp blogged some controversial posts about his military unit for The New Republic, under the pseudonym of Scott Thomas.

The posts were deeply disturbing.  In one, an Iraqi boy who calls himself James Bond has his tongue cut out for talking to Americans; in the other, dogs feast on a corpse in the street. Perhaps the most shocking was this account:

One private, infamous as a joker and troublemaker, found the top part of a human skull, which was almost perfectly preserved. It even had chunks of hair, which were stiff and matted down with dirt. He squealed as he placed it on his head like a crown. It was a perfect fit. As he marched around with the skull on his head, people dropped shovels and sandbags, folding in half with laughter. No one thought tell him to stop. No one was disgusted. Me included.

The right wing blogosphere went nuts, accusing TNR (a publication which has been, by the way, hawkish on the Iraq War) of fabricating a soldier and lying about his experiences. There were repeated attempts to prove that Scott Thomas was a fake.

But yesterday, Mr. Beauchamp unveiled himself, proving that he a) does exist and b) is in Iraq. Rather than admit they were wrong, the right-wing has now taken to slandering Mr. Beauchamp.  It has been vicious.  Here’s a typical example:

Scott Thomas is a lying sack of shit. Every unit has a Scott Thomas, the whiny pissant whose brilliance is never recognized and who is always being abused by the chain of command for stuff that’s not his fault. It would be normal to hear folks telling him to STFU and do his damn job.

The same milblogger also advices Scott Thomas to "watch his back".  His personal life has been probed.

The controversy has become so full blown that even the Washington Post covered it.

Digby, I think, is asbolutely right when she writes:

This soldier certainly had no idea what he was dealing with, and I suspect TNR didn’t either. (Up until now, the right has been sympathetic with their editorial line on the war, after all. For all the disdain for the blogofascists of the left, this is undoubtedly the first time TNR’s felt the full force of the wingnutosphere, which makes our little ideological disagreements look like kisses on the cheek. )

But this is bigger than blogospherics. There has been precious little good writing about the actual gritty experiences of average soldiers in these wars. Everything has been so packaged and marketed from the top that it’s very difficult to get a sense of what it’s like over there. I have no idea if this piece is accurate, but regardless it didn’t seem to me to be an indictment of the military in general, merely a description of the kind of gallows humor and garden variety cruelty that would be likely to escalate in violent circumstances. And so far, there has been nothing substantial brought forward to doubt his story — the shrieking nitpicking of the 101st keyboarders notwithstanding.

It certainly should not have have garnered this vicious right wing attack from everyone from Bill Kristol to the lowliest denizens of the right blogosphere. They want to destroy this soldier for describing things that have been described in war reporting since Homer so they can worship "the troops" without having to admit that the whole endeavor is a bloody, horrible mess that only briefly, and rarely, offers opportunity for heroic battlefield courage (which, of course, it sometimes does as well.)

She ends with these wonderful words:

I hear so much from the right about how they love the troops. But they don’t seem to love the actual human beings who wear the uniform, they love those little GI Joe dolls they played with as children which they could dress up in little costumes and contort into pretzels for their fun and amusement. If they loved the actual troops they wouldn’t require them to be like two dimensional John Waynes, withholding their real experiences and feelings for fear that a virtual armchair lynch mob would come after them.

Thank God Joseph Heller and James Jones and Erich Maria Remarque and countless others aren’t trying to write their books today. They’d be burned as heretics by a bunch of nasty boys and girls who have fetishized "the troops" into a strange form of Boy Band eroticism — that empty, nonthreatening form of masculinity the tweens use to bridge the scary gap between puberty and adolescence. Private Peter Pan reporting for duty.

The real men for them are the civilians on 24 torturing suspected terrorists for an hour each week, keeping the lil’est tough guys safe from harm with hard sadism and easy answers. That’s where this wingnut war is really being fought. With popcorn.

Greenwald calls this one of Digby’s best posts ever, and adds:

I would simply add that right-wing troop-exploiters always reserve their most hateful, vicious and deeply personal attacks for soldiers and veterans who deviate from their political church — Jack Murtha, John Kerry, Wes Clark, Max Cleland, Scott Beauchamp. Similarly, the minute Pat Tillman’s political views became known, the use they had for him vanished (and nobody has less interest in finding out what happened to Pat Tillman than they do). As Digby points out, they "support the troops" only to the extent that the troops are useful props for their political agenda.

Digby is quite right.  The right’s view of the war is that it is some clean, sanitized movie from the 1950’s.  But war was NEVER like that — only war movies.  And while they try to build heroes of our soldiers, they are fictional heroes, not authentic humans.  Pat Tillman is another example — once a darling of the right, it now appears that his death was, shall we say, somewhat less valourous than we were led to be believe (i.e., he wasn’t killed in combat so much as murdered by his own squad):

Army medical examiners were suspicious about the close proximity of the three bullet holes in Pat Tillman’s forehead and tried without success to get authorities to investigate whether the former NFL player’s death amounted to a crime, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.

“The medical evidence did not match up with the, with the scenario as described,” a doctor who examined Tillman’s body after he was killed on the battlefield in Afghanistan in 2004 told investigators.

The doctors — whose names were blacked out — said that the bullet holes were so close together that it appeared the Army Ranger was cut down by an M-16 fired from a mere 10 yards or so away.

Ultimately, the Pentagon did conduct a criminal investigation, and asked Tillman’s comrades whether he was disliked by his men and whether they had any reason to believe he was deliberately killed. The Pentagon eventually ruled that Tillman’s death at the hands of his comrades was a friendly-fire accident.

The Associated Press, through a FOIA request, received some information that is stunning — and raises the specter that Tillman might have been murdered by a U.S. colleague.

– In his last words moments before he was killed, Tillman snapped at a panicky comrade under fire to shut up and stop “sniveling.”

– Army attorneys sent each other congratulatory e-mails for keeping criminal investigators at bay as the Army conducted an internal friendly-fire investigation that resulted in administrative, or non-criminal, punishments.

– The three-star general who kept the truth about Tillman’s death from his family and the public told investigators some 70 times that he had a bad memory and couldn’t recall details of his actions.

– No evidence at all of enemy fire was found at the scene — no one was hit by enemy fire, nor was any government equipment struck.

I’m not a pacifist, but I think people who are so gung-ho for war ought to understand what war necessarily entails.  It’s NOT a freakin’ John Wayne movie.  These things happen, and anyone who is serious about talking about war should do from a reality-based perspective.  Support the troops?  Sure.  Fetishisize them?  No way.  As Farley writes:

Young men in war suffer incredible pressures, pressures that civilians can’t begin to comprehend. Sometimes they do horrible things, but they probably wouldn’t have done them if they hadn’t been placed in extraordinarily difficult situations. Facing criticism about such actions from people who cannot understand the context can be extremely unsettling. Nevertheless, horrific behavior on the part of soldiers is an inevitable part of war, and as such needs to be taken into account when we think about war. To do that, we need to face facts, and not pretend that awful things never happen.

See also, Tbogg: "We love our military except for that one guy. He sucks"

UPDATE: Andrew Sullivan is interesting:

"So why the craziness?

Partly, I think, new media hatred of TNR. Partly that Thomas is obviously a liberal Democrat who’s also a soldier. But mainly, it seems to me, the conservative blogosphere has taken such an almighty empirical beating this last year that they have an overwhelming psychic need to lash out at those still clinging to sanity on the war. This Scott Thomas story is a godsend for these people, a beautiful distraction from the reality they refuse to face.

It combines all the usual Weimar themes out there: treasonous MSM journalists, treasonous soldiers, stories of atrocities that undermine morale (regardless of whether they’re true or not), and blanket ideological denial. We have to understand that some people still do not believe that the U.S. is torturing or has tortured detainees, still do not believe that torture or murder or rape occurred at Abu Ghraib, still believe that everyone at Gitmo is a dangerous terrorist captured by US forces, and still believe we’re winning in Iraq. If you believe all this and face the mountains of evidence against you, you have to act ever more decisively and emphatically to refute any evidence that might undermine this worldview."

Sounds right to me.

The Full Monty: Closing Week

I walked through the stage door without much excitement.  We were about to enter Week 4 — the final week — of "Full Monty" performances.  Don’t get me wrong — I love doing the show, but I knew what to expect.  We had all been away from the show for over four days, so naturally, we weren’t going to be as crisp.  Plus, it was a Thursday night audience — typically not a large, nor vocal, audience.

Could I have been more wrong?

Last night’s audience was the largest we’ve had to date — in excess of 500 — and they were LOVING it. (UPDATE:  Just found out it was a benefit for a new shelter opening in G’boro).  More importantly, the cast was tight.  A substitute pianist — who was good, but different — was a little off-throwing (not that the audience noticed), but our new "flyboy" Robby (with whom I acted in "Miss Firecracker") handled the ropes like he’d been there all along.  Jamie (our esteemed director) commented that it was one of the best Thursday evening performances he’d seen of any show, and I have to agree — both from a performance perspective and from an audience-reaction perspective, it was top-notch.

I think the four days rest did everyone a lot of good.  We had been going full steam for quite a while — the second weekend of the Winston-Salem run, then the week of tech in Greensboro, then the first weekend in Greensboro.  It wears on everyong, especially the leads.

Only three performances left.  After the show last night, Allie, who was seeing the show for the second time, asked if I would miss it.  I thought for a second.  "Yeah, I really will".

But just because I will miss it doesn’t mean you should miss seeing it.  Or seeing it again.  Info for tickets on the right hand column.

High Flying, Adored

NASA astronauts flying in space …drunkAstronauts?!?

Hmmmmm…..

Scottiescotch Top Ten Signs Your Starship Captain is a Drunkard

10) When Spock mind probes him, Spock gets hammered.
9) Wakes up next to a Klingon chick at least once a week.
8) Starts the ship’s self-destruct sequence just to fuck with the yeoman who blew him off in the officer’s lounge.
7) Each time you discover a new planet he tells Spock to scan the surface for cheap scotch and loose females.
6) The first thing he says when negotiating with Romulans is, “So, what’s the ale situation?”
5) McCoy tells him, “I’m a doctor, Jim, not a bartender!”
4) He keeps slipping down to the engineering room to “discuss ancient Scottish traditions” with Scotty.
3) Giggles every time Spock says they should launch a “deep space probe.”
2) Whenever a female yeoman brings him a clipboard he tries to open a tab.
1) Is willing to make beer runs into the neutral zone.

LOL Cats

Time magazine focuses on the web phenomenon, icanhasacheezburger.com:

Take a picture of a cat doing something cute. Then make up a caption–something witty that the cat would be saying if cats could talk. Bear in mind that cats can’t spell all that well and that they’re not so hot on subject-verb agreement either. Photoshop the caption onto the image, and post your creation on a blog. What you get is lolcats: lol for laugh out loud, cats for cats.

It’s easier to show lolcats than to explain it. The oldest known example–which probably dates to 2006–is an image of a chubby gray kitty looking at the camera and asking plaintively, I CAN HAS CHEEZBURGER? Later came a shot of a kitten in a state of feline outrage, standing over a plate of what look like clementines and meowing DO NOT WANT. A ginger cat caught in midleap, hind legs pedaling furiously, appears over the words INVISIBLE BIKE. A fierce-looking tabby crouches in a well-stocked refrigerator: IM IN UR FRIDGE EATIN UR FOODZ. You get the idea.

Here’s the one that started the whole thing:

Cheezburger_410

Mental Floss has more on the origins of the lolcats phenomenon.

Anyway, it’s a very cute site.

Newshoe2big_2

Yerputterizreadynow

Whatchumeani2sml4chzbrgr

It’s even spawned a few spoofs, like LOL Trek:

Wehastrouble21

The Unauthorized “Christians United For Israel” Tour

Max Blumenthal has done it again.

He attended a conference of the "Christians United for Israel" people, and brought his camera.  What he saw was alarming.  Watch it.

Rapture Ready: The Unauthorized Christians United for Israel Tour from huffpost and Vimeo.

There is, of course, nothing inherently wrong with anybody being pro-Israel.  What makes me squirm about these people is that they are pro-Israel for the wrong reasons.  As Blumenthal explains:

CUFI has an ulterior agenda: its support for Israel derives from the belief of [CUFI founder and megachurch pastor] Hagee and his flock that Jesus will return to Jerusalem after the battle of Armageddon and cleanse the earth of evil. In the end, all the non-believers – Jews, Muslims, Hindus, mainline Christians, etc. – must convert or suffer the torture of eternal damnation.

As the members itself in this video reveal, it is not the Jews, or an inherent belief in a Jewish state, which drives their support for Israel.  In fact, Jews are — they’re quite clear about this — going to be damned for all time when the Rapture comes (unless they convert).  They merely support Israel because doing so will bring about the End Times.

As such, the group’s name "Christians United for Israel" is a bit of a misnomer.  What they are all about is "Israel for Christians".  Scary.

RELATED:  The Pope believes in evolution.

Gonzales: Another Bit Of Perjury Yesterday

This centers around a meeting held on March 10, 2004 with members of the Bush Administration and the "Gang of 8", members of Congress who head up intelligence committees.  The topic discussed was —  well, that’s the issue. Here’s what Alberto Gonzales said under oath on Tuesday:

At a heated Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday, Gonzales repeatedly testified that the issue at hand was not about the terrorist surveillance program….Instead, Gonzales said, the emergency meetings on March 10, 2004, focused on an intelligence program that he would not describe.

Gonzales, who was then serving as counsel to Bush, testified that the White House Situation Room briefing sought to inform congressional leaders about the pending expiration of the unidentified program and Justice Department objections to renew it.

…."Not the TSP?" responded Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y. "Come on. If you say it’s about other, that implies not. Now say it or not."

"It was not," Gonzales answered. "It was about other intelligence activities."

Other intelligence activities? Not the TSP? Despite the recollections of other participants that the meeting on that day was precisely about the TSP?

Well, guess what? It turns out the dates of all the TSP meetings were the subject of a memo from John Negroponte last year. So it’s all down on paper. And you know what date shows up? March 10, 2004.

Short version: Gonzales lied (again) before Congress.

Olbermann does a good job of breaking it down.  As the reporter says, "this is a really, really big deal and a big problem for Gonzales. … The legal expert I talked to tonight said this is a clear case of perjury."

CNN is on this, too.  Well, everybody is, I guess.  When the nation’s top lawyer commits perjury, you know the nation is deep in the crapper.

Luckovich

Hardin-Smith offers advice:

Here’s a tip for Bush Administration cronies:  if you are going to lie under oath, on the record, with a video camera in your face, don’t lie about something for which there is documentary evidence directly contradicting your statements.  It makes you look unprepared, panicked and sloppy.  Even petty thieves get their stories straighter than this in magistrate courts across the nation.  Juries still find them guilty, and see right through their lying skeezeball stories, but at least they have enough pride in their thievery to put a little work into covering their own asses.  It’s especially pathetic when you are given a number of the questions in advance.

Flashback a few months ago to an interesting conversation between Bill Moyers and Jon Stewart regarding Gonzales:

So prescient.

Glenn Greenwald on Gonzales: “That is what Alberto Gonzales does. He lies to protect the President. And the President will never fire him. Gonzales isn’t keeping his job despite his willingness to lie to Congress, but because of it. Congress has no choice but to act meaningfully — impeachment of Gonzales and a Special Prosecutor — and if they do not, then, I suppose, one could say that Congress deserves to be lied to.”

UPDATE:  Oh, man — as the day gets on, it gets even worse for Gonzales:

FBI Director Robert S. Mueller said Thursday the government’s terrorist surveillance program was the topic of a 2004 hospital room dispute between top Bush administration officials, contradicting Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’ sworn Senate testimony.

Mueller’s statement came hours after Senate Democrats called for a perjury investigation against Gonzales and subpoenaed top presidential aide Karl Rove in a deepening political and legal clash with the Bush administration.

Yeah! It’s THEIR Fault!

New study says you’re fat because your friends make you eat.

Fatfriends Obesity spreads through social networks, according to the study, so if your friends put on weight, you’re more likely to put on the pounds, too. Your family members or spouse can also influence you; as they get heavier, you’re more likely to gain along with them. But, your friends—even if they don’t live anywhere near you—have the most sway. A close friend’s weight gain can even be downright dangerous.

Harumph!  With friends like that, who needs anemia?  [Sorry, couldn’t resist]

Death-Predicting Cat?

Associated Press:

Capt_96b17ad5cd62406aa2eb555336079dPROVIDENCE, R.I. – Oscar the cat seems to have an uncanny knack for predicting when nursing home patients are going to die, by curling up next to them during their final hours. His accuracy, observed in 25 cases, has led the staff to call family members once he has chosen someone. It usually means they have less than four hours to live.

"He doesn’t make too many mistakes. He seems to understand when patients are about to die," said Dr. David Dosa in an interview. He describes the phenomenon in a poignant essay in Thursday’s issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

The 2-year-old feline was adopted as a kitten and grew up in a third-floor dementia unit at the Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. The facility treats people with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease and other illnesses.

After about six months, the staff noticed Oscar would make his own rounds, just like the doctors and nurses. He’d sniff and observe patients, then sit beside people who would wind up dying in a few hours.

Here’s my take on this story — the cat doesn’t "predict" deaths so much as cause them.

Picture this: Mabel is an elderly person at the Steere House Center.  She’s 94, very ill and feeble, and bed-ridden.  Suddenly, this loveable furball jumps on her bed.  "OMIGOD!" she thinks, "It’s OSCAR, the DEATH CAT!  Whoever that cat goes near, dies within a few hours."   Mabel goes into cardiac arrest, as anyone who would when visited by the Grim Reaper.

Might as well give that damn cat a hood and scythe.

Deathcat

About That Hurricane Season

Forecasters predicted a bad 2007 hurricane season, but it’s seemed pretty mild so far, yes?

Well, don’t un-duct-tape your windows yet, cowboy:

Worst of Atlantic hurricane season still to come

MIAMI (Reuters) – Nearly eight weeks have passed since the last tropical storm in the Atlantic-Caribbean region faded away, but banish any notion the 2007 hurricane season has been unusually slow and beware the coming months, experts say.

The peak of the six-month season is just around the corner and forecasters are still predicting a busy one.

"There’s absolutely nothing out of the ordinary," Gerry Bell, a hurricane forecaster for the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said of the Atlantic season’s first two months. "It’s not slow. It’s not fast."

On average, June and July produce zero to two named storms or hurricanes. So far this year there have been two. Andrea formed in early May, Barry on June 1.

There’s plenty of evidence the first two months are meaningless as an indicator for the rest of the season.

***

Historically, the Atlantic hurricane season peaks on September 10 and the period from August 20 until October 14 produces the greatest number of storms.

Katrina1545zc0508281kg12

Contempt!

MSNBC:

WASHINGTON – The House Judiciary Committee voted contempt of Congress citations Wednesday against White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten and President Bush’s former legal counselor, Harriet Miers.

The 22-17 vote, which would sanction the pair for failure to comply with subpoenas on the firings of several federal prosecutors, advanced the citations to the full House.

The full House will take it up after the August recess.

Fun fact:

The last time a full chamber of Congress voted on a contempt citation was 1983. The House voted 413-0 to cite former Environmental Protection Agency official Rita Lavelle for contempt of Congress for refusing to appear before a House committee. Lavelle was later acquitted in court of the contempt charge, but she was convicted of perjury in a separate trial.

413-0.  That was back in the day when the GOP had enough principles to put down its partisanship and simply enforce the law.  I don’t that could happen with today’s Republican Party.

Debunking An Email

There’s an email circulating — maybe you’ve seen it — that is so replete with factual inaccuracies that it cannot withstand even the slightest scrutiny.  Here it is, with my debunking:

This is worth remembering, because it is true. It’s familiar territory, but those of you that graduated from school after the early 60’s were probably never taught this. Our courts have seen to that!

Fact: There is not a single court case which has mandated the teaching of historical inaccuracies.

Did you know that 52 of the 55 signers of “The Declaration of Independence” were orthodox, deeply committed, Christians? That they all believed in the Bible as the divine truth, the God of scripture, and His personal intervention.

Well, there were 56 signers, but we’ll let that slide.  Maybe the writer of this email didn’t count the Catholic (Charles Caroll, of Maryland).  In any event, not enough is known about each of the signers to conclude — without reservation — that they ALL "believed in the Bible as the divine truth, the God of scripture, and His personal intervention". 

So let’s just focus on a couple of signers, one of whose name may be familiar to you — Thomas Jefferson.  Jefferson was a self-proclaimed "deist", hardly what you would call an "orthodox, deeply committed" Christian.  In fact, according to one Jefferson biographer:

Jefferson had real trouble with the Divinity of Christ and he had real trouble with the description of various events mentioned in both the New and the Old Testament so that he was an enlightened skeptic who was profoundly interested in the figure of Christ as a human being and as an ethical teacher. But he was not religious in any modern meaning of that word or any eighteenth century meaning of that word. He wasn’t a regular church goer and he never affiliated himself with a religious denomination–unlike Washington who actually did.

Moreover, Jefferson created his own version of the gospels; he was uncomfortable with any reference to miracles, so with two copies of the New Testament, he cut and pasted them together, excising all references to miracles, from turning water to wine, to the resurrection.

Jefferson lack of religious scruples is, of course, significant because not only was he one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence — he actaully WROTE the damn thing.

Ben Franklin, another signer, was also a Deist and held similar views as Jefferson.  John Adams rejected many fundamental doctrines of conventional Christianity, such as the Trinity and the divinity of Jesus, becoming a Unitarian.

But let’s turn to a contemporary historian to see what they were saying THEN about the makeup of the signers of the Declaration:

"Although it had its share of strenuous Christians… the gathering at Philadelphia was largely made up of men in whom the old fires were under control or had even flickered out. Most were nominally members of one of the traditional churches in their part of the country.. and most were men who could take their religion or leave it alone. Although no one in this sober gathering would have dreamed of invoking the Goddess of Reason, neither would anyone have dared to proclaim his opinions had the support of the God of Abraham and Paul. The Convention of 1787 was highly rationalist and even secular in spirit." (Clinton Rossiter, 1787; The Grand Convention, pp. 147-148.)

Back to the email….

It is the same Congress that formed the American Bible Society, immediately after creating the Declaration of Independence, the Continental Congress voted to purchase and import 20,000 copies of Scripture for the people of this nation.

Fact:  Odd, because the Declaration was adopted in 1776, and the American Bible Society — according to its own website — was formed in 1816.  As for importing the Bible, this happened in September 1777 (hardly "immediately" after the Declaration was "created").  The newly-minted United States was at war with Britain, and experiencing a shortage of many goods, due to blockades. There were few printing presses in America, and so all Bibles had to be imported (even before the war), and we certainly couldn’t import them from England. 

Despite what the email says, Congress did not vote on it; rather it was referred to a committee.  The motion to import Bibles, by the way, won by the narrowest of margins — 7 to 6.  Immediately thereafter, a subsequent motion was passed ordering "that the consideration thereof be postponed to Saturday next."  Nothing happened the following Saturday, and as far as historians know, no Bibles were imported.

Patrick Henry, who is called the firebrand of the American Revolution, is still remembered for his words, “Give me liberty or give me death”; but in current textbooks, the context of these words is omitted. Here is what he actually said: “An appeal to arms and the God of hosts is all that is left us. But we shall not fight our battle alone. There is a just God that presides over the destinies of nations. The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone. Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it Almighty God. I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death.”

Fact:  The author here is playing fast and loose with "context".  He has cherry picked part so of Henry’s actual speech, and mashed them all together.  There are sentences, even paragraphs, between each of the sentences in the quote above.  You want the real context?  Here it is.

These sentences have been erased from our textbooks.

Fact:  No, they haven’t.  I just linked to them.  And how do you erase sentences from textbooks anyway?  I mean, it’s a nice metaphor, but what is the reality?

Was Patrick Henry a Christian? The following year, 1776, he wrote this: “It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great Nation was founded not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For that reason alone, people of other faiths have been afforded freedom of worship here.”

Fact:  While Henry was a Christian (and, so what?) he never uttered those words.  It’s an urban legend.

Consider these words that Thomas Jefferson wrote in the front of his well-worn Bible: “I am a real Christian, that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus. I have little doubt that our whole country will soon be rallied to the unity of our creator.”

Fact:  Um, context problem again?  First of all, those words were not in the front of his well-worn Bible.  They were from a letter he wrote in 1816.  As you can see, Jefferson, as I noted above, was hardly an orthodox Christian.  Let’s put the "real Christian" quote in its original context:

"I, too, have made a wee-little book from the same materials, which I call the Philosophy of Jesus; it is a paradigma of his doctrines, made by cutting the texts out of the book, and arranging them on the pages of a blank book, in a certain order of time or subject. A more beautiful or precious morsel of ethics I have never seen; it is a document in proof that I am a real Christian, that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus, very different from the Platonists, who call me infidel and themselves Christians and preachers of the gospel, while they draw all their characteristic dogmas from what its author never said nor saw. They have compounded from the heathen mysteries a system beyond the comprehension of man, of which the great reformer of the vicious ethics and deism of the Jews, were he to return on earth, would not recognize one feature. If I had time I would add to my little book the Greek, Latin and French texts, in columns side by side."

So, Jefferson believed he was a "real Christian" by rejecting the Bible as it was written, and writing his own version.

He was also the chairman of the American Bible Society, which he considered his highest and most important role.

Fact:  Funny the ABS doesn’t acknowledge this.  Could it be, oh, made up?

On July 4, 1821, President Adams said, “The highest glory of the American Revolution was this: “It connected in one indissoluble bond the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity.”

Fact:  Adams never said this.  It comes from the preface of a book written in the 1860’s, in which the author, John Wingate Thornton, wrote:

The highest glory of the American Revolution, said John Quincy Adams, was this: it connected, in one indissoluble bond, the principles of civil government with the principle of Christianity

The italics are in the original.  There are no quotation marks around the "quote" from Adams — it is the author’s words.  He gives no source.  Over time however, Thorton’s conclusions about Adams have been distorted into actually being a Madison quote.

Back to the email…

Calvin Coolidge, our 30th President of the United States reaffirmed this truth when he wrote, "The foundations of our society and our government rest so much on the teachings of the Bible that it would be difficult to support them if faith in these teachings would cease to be practically universal in our country."

Coolidge?  You’re giving me Coolidge?

In 1782, the United States Congress voted this resolution: “The Congress of the United States recommends and approves the Holy Bible for use in all schools.”

Fact:  In 1782, the Congress merely recommended that a certain edition of the Bible, printed in America (known as the Aitken Bible), be made available to Americans who wished to read a Bible and authorized only that Aitken freely print the recommendation. Aitken was not officially solicited to print his work, the Congress paid him nothing for his efforts, and no legal statement was made by the government regarding the use of the Bible in public schools.  You can read the actual resolution here.

In any event, the United States in 1782 was operating under the now-defunct Articles of Confederation at the time.  The Constitution, and the separation-of-church-and-state doctrines it ebodies, had not yet been written and adopted.

William Holmes McGuffey is the author of the McGuffey Reader, which was used for over 100 years in our public schools with over 125 million copies sold until it was stopped in 1963. President Lincoln called him the “Schoolmaster of the Nation.” Listen to these words of Mr. McGuffey: “The Christian religion is the religion of our country. From it are derived our nation, on the character of God, on the great moral Governor of the universe. On its doctrines are founded the peculiarities of our free Institutions. From no source has the author drawn more conspicuously than from the sacred Scriptures. From all these extracts from the Bible, I make no apology.”

I don’t dispute this — it’s just not relevant, seeing as how Mr. McGuffey isn’t a founding father (nor, for that matter, is Mr. Lincoln).

Of the first 108 universities founded in America, 106 were distinctly Christian, including the first, Harvard University, chartered in 1636. In the original Harvard Student Handbook, rule number 1 was that students seeking entrance must know Latin and Greek so that they could study the Scriptures: “Let every student be plainly instructed and earnestly pressed to consider well, the main end of his life and studies, is, to know God and Jesus Christ, which is eternal life, John 17:3; and therefore to lay Jesus Christ as the only foundation for our children to follow the moral principles of the Ten Commandments.”

I don’t dispute this either.  I just don’t see the point.  You know what?  Of the first 108 federal judges appointed to the bench, all of them were white men who wore powdered wigs.  Does that mean we should only appoint white men to be judges, and they have to wear powdered wigs?

James Madison, the primary author of the Constitution of the United States, said this: “We have staked the whole future of all our political constitutions upon the capacity of each of ourselves to govern ourselves according to the moral principles of the Ten Commandments.”

Fact:  The only problem with the above is, no such quote has ever been found among any of James Madison’s writings. None of the biographers of Madison, past or present have ever run across such a quote, and most if not all would love to know where this false quote originated.  Robert Alley, an distinguished historian at the University of Richmond, has made an attempt to track down the origin of this quote. You can read about his effort in "Public Education and the Public Good," William and Mary Bill of Rights Journal,, Summer 1995, pp. 316-318.

Madison, however, did write the famous "Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments", which was a precursor to the notion of separation of church and state:

Because we hold it for a fundamental and undeniable truth, "that religion or the duty which we owe to our Creator and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence," The Religion then of every man must be left to the conviction and conscience of every man; and it is the right of every man to exercise it as these may dictate. This right is in its nature an unalienable right….

Because Religion be exempt from the authority of the Society at large, still less can it be subject to that of the Legislative Body. The latter are but the creatures and vicegerents of the former. Their jurisdiction is both derivative and limited: it is limited with regard to the co-ordinate departments, more necessarily is it limited with regard to the constituents. The preservation of a free Government requires not merely, that the metes and bounds which separate each department of power be invariably maintained; but more especially that neither of them be suffered to overleap the great Barrier which defends the rights of the people….

The free men of America did not wait till usurped power had strengthened itself by exercise, and entagled the question in precedents. They saw all the consequences in the principle, and they avoided the consequences by denying the principle. We revere this lesson too much soon to forget it. Who does not see that the same authority which can establish Christianity, in exclusion of all other Religions, may establish with the same ease any particular sect of Christians, in exclusion of all other Sects? that the same authority which can force a citizen to contribute three pence only of his property for the support of any one establishment, may force him to conform to any other establishment in all cases whatsoever?

Madison’s Memorial and Remonstrance was written in opposition to a bill, introduced into the General Assembly of Virginia, to levy a general assessment for the support of teachers of religions. It was, and remains, a powerful argument against state supported religion.

Back to the email…

Today, we are asking God to bless America. But, how can He bless a Nation that has departed so far from Him? Prior to September 11, He was not welcome in America. Most of what you read in this article has been erased from our textbooks. Revisionists have rewritten history to remove the truth about our country’s Christian roots.

"Revisionsist".  Pot. Kettle.

You are encouraged to share with others, so that the truth of our nation’s history will be told. John 3:16. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life!

This information shared is only a drop of cement to help secure a foundation that is crumbling daily in a losing war that most of the country doesn’t even know is raging on, in, and around them…

I don’t know.  It seems like this person is conducting a War against Truth.

Gonzales Follies

Hearing, watching or reading Gonzales’ tragically comical performance yesterday is painful.   TPM Muckraker has a good Youtubed roundup.

The best part, everyone seems to agree, is this exchange with Sen. Schumer.  Schumer is pointing out how Gonzales in his previous testimony — um — basically lied to the committee.  Watch how Gonzales, the Attorney General of the United States — the numero uno law enforcement official in the country — weasels and dodges:

SCHUMER: I’ll let you speak in a minute, but this is serious, because you’re getting right close to the edge right here.  You just said there was just one program — just one. So the letter, which was, sort of, intended to deceive, but doesn’t directly do so, because there are other intelligence activities, gets you off the hook, but you just put yourself right back on here.

GONZALES: I clarified my statement two days later with the reporter.

SCHUMER: What did you say to the reporter?

GONZALES: I did not speak directly to the reporter.

SCHUMER: Oh, wait a second — you did not. (LAUGHTER)  OK. What did your spokesperson say to the reporter?

GONZALES: I don’t know. But I told the spokesperson to go back and clarify my statement…

SCHUMER: Well, wait a minute, sir. Sir, with all due respect — and if I could have some order here, Mr. Chairman — in all due respect, you’re just saying, "Well, it was clarified with the reporter," and you don’t even know what he said. You don’t even know what the clarification is. Sir, how can you say that you should stay on as attorney general when we go through exercise like this, where you’re bobbing and weaving and ducking to avoid admitting that you deceived the committee? And now you don’t even know. I’ll give you another chance: You’re hanging your hat on the fact that you clarified the statement two days later. You’re now telling us that is was a spokesperson who did it. What did that spokesperson say? Tell me now, how do you clarify this?

GONZALES: I don’t know, but I’ll find out and get back to you.

As Slate’s Emily Bazelon explains:

Even after all these months of tacking and backtracking, Gonzales’ lack of command of the details is something to behold. He doesn’t know the total number of U.S. attorneys who were fired. He doesn’t recall his participation in reversing former U.S. Attorney Paul Charlton’s decision about whether to seek the death penalty in a case where all the evidence was circumstantial. He doesn’t know why DoJ’s new guide to prosecuting voter fraud removed or watered down key directives against pursuing cases in a way that could interfere with the outcome of an election. He doesn’t know why the Justice Department’s guidelines restricting communications with the White House now suddenly include a blanket exception for contact between the attorney general and the vice president and his counsel. And, of course, he doesn’t know who put the names of the U.S. attorneys on the list he approved for firing.

Of course, his incompetence is not criminal.  His lying under oath, however, is.  Gonzales was caught blatantly lying about disagreement at the Justice Department over warrantless domestic searches. He was also caught blatantly lying about the motivation behind the Ashcroft hospital visit.

In his testimony today, Alberto Gonzales blamed the Ashcroft hospital visit on Congress — particularly, the so-called Gang of Eight, the top congressional leadership and the leadership of the intelligence committees. As Spencer Ackerman noted late in the day, three members of the group — Democrats Daschle, Rockefeller and Pelosi — said Gonzales’ version of events isn’t true. In an interview with NPR, Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA) said the same thing — though she was a little ambiguous, suggesting that her ability to discuss the conversations in question were limited because they were classified.

So all four Democrats say Gonzales’ story is bunk.

Roll Call reported that some senators are taking this seriously.

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales may have put himself in legal jeopardy with his testimony Tuesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senators of both parties warned, as Members cast doubt on the truthfulness of his answers and suggested he may have improperly released classified information in his own defense.

Judiciary ranking member Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) told Gonzales at one point, “I do not find your testimony credible.”

He suggested the committee would “review your testimony to see whether your credibility has been breached to the point of being actionable,” an apparent threat to consider charges against the attorney general for lying to Congress. (emphasis added)

The Fifteen Most Frequently Used Words On Blogs

Not sure if this is true, but this guy, citing a Oxford University Press study, says the 15 most-used words on blogs are:

blogger
blog
stupid
me
myself
my
oh
yeah
ok
post
stuff
lovely
update
nice
shit

Oh, my.  Just thought I would post this stupid shit on my blog, okay?

UPDATE:  Yeah.  Lovely stuff, huh?  Nice.

Fan Mail

From a reader:

I typed in ‘latest news on ed brown’ into google and some how i got to this pathetic excuse for a website! wow the above statement is one of the stupidest things ive ever read; you say ‘false arguments’ for all those points but dont explain why theyre false (hint hint you cant prove that theyre false cause at least the 1st 4 are 100% fact). Do yourself a favor and watch the movie "America Freedom to Facism" I understand why the main-stream media reports so bias on this story but when joe-blow nobodies like yourself give theyre opinion after your supposed ‘research’ and still feel that the Browns are wrong, it makes me wonder if the US will ever straighten itself out. By the way the only celebrity you look like there is ofcourse chunky Newman.

He’s referring to this post about Ed Brown, the guy in New Hampshire who involved a months long standoff with the state and federal government for refusing to pay their taxes.

Thank you for sharing!

No Charges Against Katrina Doctor

I’m pretty sure I blogged about this a couple of years ago — the physician in New Orleans who was investigated for giving four terminally ill patients a "lethal cocktail" of morphine and midazolam hydrochloride as Hurricane Katrina bore down on them.

A mercy killing, if you will.

The grand jury refused to indict her, so she is in the clear.  Nurses were also cleared of charges last month.

Good.

Constitutional Showdown

It’s brewing:

The House Judiciary Committee announced yesterday that it will press toward a constitutional showdown with the Bush administration over the U.S. attorney firings scandal, even as embattled Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales vowed to stay on and "fix the problems" that have damaged the reputation and morale of the Justice Department.

John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), chairman of the committee, said it will vote on Wednesday on contempt citations for the White House chief of staff, Joshua B. Bolten, and former White House counsel Harriet E. Miers. Both refused congressional demands for information on the dismissals after President Bush invoked executive privilege.

The move puts House Democrats on a legal collision course with the White House, which said last week that it will not allow the Justice Department to prosecute executive branch officials for being in contempt of Congress.

For those of you not paying attention to this story (of only half-paying attention), these are the bulletpoint facts:

  • Failure to appear pursuant to a subpoena is a federal crime
  • This includes subpoenae issued by Congress for their congressional investigations
  • You can appear and refuse to testify to certain questions (i.e., plead the 5th Amendment privilege, or the executive privilege, or some other privilege), but you have to appear
  • If you invoke the privilege, it has to be, you know, a bona fide reason, and it must be in response to questions that are asked; there is no such thing as a "blanket" privilege
  • Congress was investigating the Department of Justice for their (alleged) use of hiring and firing attorneys based on their political party affiliation (and/or their willingness to prosecute Democrats)
  • Congress issued to subpoenae to (among others) Joshua Bolton and Harriet Miers
  • Both refused to appear (invoking a blanket "executive privilege")
  • Failing to appear in response to a subpoena is, on its face, "contempt of Congress" — a crime
  • But the Department of Justice (the object of the investigation) is the body that prosecutes such crimes
  • The Bush Administration has said that the DOJ will not prosecute itself, nor will Bush appoint a special independent prosecutor

In other words, if there is corruption in the Department of Justice, nobody can be brought to trial or charged, because the Department of Justice is the fox guarding the henhouse.

A serious constitutional problem.  In the past, other Presidents have put partisanship aside and appointed special prosecutors.  Bush is not doing that.

So who watches the watchers?

UPDATE:  Law Professor Frank Astin says Congress doesn’t need the Executive Branch or the DOJ to enforce their own subpoenae:

Yet under historic and undisturbed law, Congress can enforce its own orders against recalcitrant witnesses without involving the executive branch and without leaving open the possibility of presidential pardon.

And a Supreme Court majority would find it hard to object in the face of two entrenched legal principles.

First is the inherent power of Congress to require testimony on matters within its legislative oversight jurisdiction.

So long as Congress is investigating issues over which it has the power to legislate, it can compel witnesses to appear and respond to questions. That power has been affirmed over and over in prosecutions for contempt.

In modern times, this congressional power has been enforced by referring contempt cases to the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia for indictment and prosecution. That, of course, is the rub. It allows the president to exercise his plenary power under the Constitution to issue pardons "for offenses against the United States."

But no law says that indictment and prosecution by the Justice Department is the exclusive means to enforce congressional prerogative.

***

Instead of referring a contempt citation to the U.S. attorney, a house of Congress can order the sergeant-at-arms to take recalcitrant witnesses into custody and have them held until they agree to cooperate — i.e., an order of civil contempt. Technically, the witness could be imprisoned somewhere in the bowels of the Capitol, but historically the sergeant-at-arms has turned defendants over to the custody of the warden of the D.C. jail.

That was what was done in the landmark 1876 case Kilbourn v. Thompson, when the Supreme Court ruled that Congress had overstepped its bounds by investigating the private activities of the defendant in a matter in which it had no jurisdiction.

That decision, however, left no doubt of Congress’s power to punish for contempt those who defy lawful investigations.

So, far from being defenseless against the president’s refusal to prosecute or the threat of presidential pardon, Congress could take into its own custody defiant administration officials who refuse to cooperate with legitimate inquiries into executive malfeasance. Those targets would have the right to seek writs of habeas corpus from the federal courts, but as long as Congress could show a legitimate need for the information it was seeking pursuant to its legislative oversight functions, it would be standing on solid legal ground.

Photosynth

Using photos of oft-snapped subjects (like The Vatican) scraped from around the Web, Photosynth (based on Seadragon technology) creates breathtaking multidimensional spaces with zoom and navigation features that outstrip all expectation.

You gotta see it to believe it:

The Lesbian President

24, the hit show among the rightwing, is getting a woman president for the next season.  That’s going to ruffle the neo-con feathers a bit.  And she’s a lesbian.

Okay, that character won’t be a lesbian, but the actress will be.  The female president in the next season of 24 will be played by the esteemed Cherry Jones.

Journalism News

Weekly World News ending publication

While it isn’t strictly a genre publication, and it does bill itself as “The World’s Only Reliable Newspaper,” the editor has decided that this announcement does fall within SFScope’s purview:

American Media has decided to suspend publication of Weekly World News, both the print publication and the web site. No reason was given at press time, although reliable sources do tell us that management turned down at least one offer to buy the publication.

WWN devotees can always turn to Fox though…

Batboyfbi

Obstructionist GOP

In 2004, Americans elected a Democratic majority in Congress.  What was the GOP response?  To tie up bills, filibuster, and engage in other parliamentarian tactics to prevent reforms from even coming to a vote.

How bad is it?  Really bad.  At the present pace, the Republicans will be three times more obstructionist than any Congress in recent history.  Margaret Talev reports for McClatchey Newspapers on the GOP’s unprecedentedly frequent use of the filibuster. This chart, though, kind of says it all:

873046617_1aa6eb72d5_o

No wonder Congress is rated as so low….

Abstinence Education Report Card

It’s a D:

Experts worry nation’s on brink of teen sex surge

WASHINGTON — The long decline in sexual activity among U.S. teenagers, hailed as one of the nation’s most important social and public health successes, appears to have stalled.

After decreasing steadily and significantly for more than a decade, the percentage of teenagers having intercourse began to plateau in 2001 and has failed to budge since then, despite the intensified focus in recent years on encouraging sexual abstinence, according to a new analysis of data from a large federal survey.

The halt in the downward trend coincided with an increase in federal spending on programs focused exclusively on encouraging sexual abstinence until marriage, several experts pointed out. Congress is debating funding for such efforts, which receive about $175 million a year in federal money and have come under fire from some quarters for being ineffective.

The problem with abstinence education is that it doesn’t provide facts, which is what young adults need; it merely provides a course of action.

The Imperial Presidency And War Powers

This op-ed in the New York Times gets it right, both morally and historically:

The nation is heading toward a constitutional showdown over the Iraq war. Congress is moving closer to passing a bill to limit or end the war, but President Bush insists Congress doesn’t have the power to do it. “I don’t think Congress ought to be running the war,” he said at a recent press conference. “I think they ought to be funding the troops.” He added magnanimously: “I’m certainly interested in their opinion.”

The war is hardly the only area where the Bush administration is trying to expand its powers beyond all legal justification. But the danger of an imperial presidency is particularly great when a president takes the nation to war, something the founders understood well. In the looming showdown, the founders and the Constitution are firmly on Congress’s side.

Given how intent the president is on expanding his authority, it is startling to recall how the Constitution’s framers viewed presidential power. They were revolutionaries who detested kings, and their great concern when they established the United States was that they not accidentally create a kingdom. To guard against it, they sharply limited presidential authority, which Edmund Randolph, a Constitutional Convention delegate and the first attorney general, called “the foetus of monarchy.”

The founders were particularly wary of giving the president power over war. They were haunted by Europe’s history of conflicts started by self-aggrandizing kings. John Jay, the first chief justice of the United States, noted in Federalist No. 4 that “absolute monarchs will often make war when their nations are to get nothing by it, but for the purposes and objects merely personal.”

Many critics of the Iraq war are reluctant to suggest that President Bush went into it in anything but good faith. But James Madison, widely known as the father of the Constitution, might have been more skeptical. “In war, the honors and emoluments of office are to be multiplied; and it is the executive patronage under which they are to be enjoyed,” he warned. “It is in war, finally, that laurels are to be gathered; and it is the executive brow they are to encircle.”

When they drafted the Constitution, Madison and his colleagues wrote their skepticism into the text. In Britain, the king had the authority to declare war, and raise and support armies, among other war powers. The framers expressly rejected this model and gave these powers not to the president, but to Congress.

The Constitution does make the president “commander in chief,” a title President Bush often invokes. But it does not have the sweeping meaning he suggests. The framers took it from the British military, which used it to denote the highest-ranking official in a theater of battle. Alexander Hamilton emphasized in Federalist No. 69 that the president would be “nothing more” than “first general and admiral,” responsible for “command and direction” of military forces.

The founders would have been astonished by President Bush’s assertion that Congress should simply write him blank checks for war. They gave Congress the power of the purse so it would have leverage to force the president to execute their laws properly. Madison described Congress’s control over spending as “the most complete and effectual weapon with which any constitution can arm the immediate representatives of the people, for obtaining a redress of every grievance, and for carrying into effect every just and salutary measure.”

The framers expected Congress to keep the president on an especially short leash on military matters. The Constitution authorizes Congress to appropriate money for an army, but prohibits appropriations for longer than two years. Hamilton explained that the limitation prevented Congress from vesting “in the executive department permanent funds for the support of an army, if they were even incautious enough to be willing to repose in it so improper a confidence.”

As opinion turns more decisively against the war, the administration is becoming ever more dismissive of Congress’s role. Last week, Under Secretary of Defense Eric Edelman brusquely turned away Senator Hillary Clinton’s questions about how the Pentagon intended to plan for withdrawal from Iraq. "Premature and public discussion of the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq reinforces enemy propaganda that the United States will abandon its allies in Iraq,” he wrote. Mr. Edelman’s response showed contempt not merely for Congress, but for the system of government the founders carefully created.

The Constitution cannot enforce itself. It is, as the constitutional scholar Edwin Corwin famously observed, an “invitation to struggle” among the branches, but the founders wisely bequeathed to Congress some powerful tools for engaging in the struggle. It is no surprise that the current debate over a deeply unpopular war is arising in the context of a Congressional spending bill. That is precisely what the founders intended.

Members of Congress should not be intimidated into thinking that they are overstepping their constitutional bounds. If the founders were looking on now, it is not Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi who would strike them as out of line, but George W. Bush, who would seem less like a president than a king.

The Full Monty: Greensboro

Well, we’ve got two shows under out belt for the Greensboro run (not including the preview on Thursday night).

Two nice reviews — on in the Greensboro News & Record (not online apparently), and one in Yes Weekly, which you can read here.  (I’ll cut and paste below the fold).

The entire week we had been running the show for tech purposes.  It was a bit odd, having to run tech rehearsals when we had two weeks of performances under out belt.  Odd, because the energy of the audience simply wasn’t there.  All you could here was the proverbial crickets chirping.  It was, of course, necessary to do tech rehearsals, because the show was being worked for a new stage and new crew.  But it took it’s toll on an already-tired cast.

The Thursday night preview audience was small but appreciative.  It was nice to get that feedback, although it would have been nice to see more faces.  S’okay though — it’s a preview crowd.

Then something happened on Friday night.  It was a large house; just as large — if not larger — than anything we had in Winston-Salem.  But right from the start, it was clear that something was amiss.  They were there — we could hear them breathing — but they just weren’t responding.  What was going wrong?

We still gave it our best show.  A few technical glitches here and there, but nothing catastrophic.  No matter what, we simply couldn’t get them into it.  Or so it seemed.  We later learned it was "Angels" night — the night in which CTG’s major contributors often attend.  This was an over-70’s crowd.  We were told they really did enjoy the show.  But clearly, they weren’t the whoop-and-holler types.  Fair enough.

And — as if to cap off the dreadful evening with an act of symbolism — we even had an audience member pass out during the finale.  A young woman, I believe.  The paramedics were called in.

Yikes.

Last night was much more like it.  A very large house; a very LIVE house.  We have people coming back for a second and third time, bringing their friends.  They were very responsive.  Half the cast* had their noses buried in the new Harry Potter book — I suggested that we just go with it and have all the characters walk around with the book in one hand.

It was terrific to feel that energy again.  The show has evolved so much in both big and small ways since we opened.  I would really like to sit in the audience and watch it.

Today is the Sunday matinee.  When I left the cast party last night at around 1:30, the jello shots were still being knocked back.  I’m good to go; I hope the rest of the gang is.

Still time to get tickets.  Don’t miss out!  Info at the right….

*  I exaggerate

BREAKING NEWS: Hillary Clinton Has Boobs!

Apparently, the folks at the Washington Post are intrigued by the fact that — well, here’s the opening sentence of this hard-hitting news piece:

There was cleavage on display Wednesday afternoon on C-SPAN2. It belonged to Sen. Hillary Clinton.

You would think that the article would segue into something, oh, I dunno, relevant to oh, I dunno, something.  But no.  What followed was a 750 word essay about Clinton’s cleavage …even though, as we learn in the second paragraph:

There wasn’t an unseemly amount of cleavage showing, but there it was. Undeniable.

How old are these people?  Twelve?

Pray There Are No International Incidents Tomorrow

USAToday tells us that Bush is undergoing a 2-1/2 hours colonoscopy tomorrow, and during that time, Lord Voldemort Dick Cheney will be "Acting President".

I can see it now —

Saturday headline: Bush briefly transfers Presidential power to Cheney.

Sunday headline: The U.S. starts bombing Tehran.

The End Of Checkers

Like the much easier game tic-tac-toe, scientists have mathematically proved that every game of checkers will end in a draw if both players never make a mistake.  This means, essentially, that computers can be programmed to win (or at least, sustain a draw) in checkers.  And that’s where we are now, technological-speaking.

You can play checkers against this computer — and you will never ever win.

So Much For The Constitution

"A U.S. attorney would not be permitted to bring contempt charges or convene a grand jury in an executive privilege case," said a senior official, who said his remarks reflect a consensus within the administration. "And a U.S. attorney wouldn’t be permitted to argue against the reasoned legal opinion that the Justice Department provided. No one should expect that to happen."

The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the issue publicly, added: "It has long been understood that, in circumstances like these, the constitutional prerogatives of the president would make it a futile and purely political act for Congress to refer contempt citations to U.S. attorneys."

Mark J. Rozell, a professor of public policy at George Mason University who has written a book on executive-privilege issues, called the administration’s stance "astonishing."

"That’s a breathtakingly broad view of the president’s role in this system of separation of powers," Rozell said. "What this statement is saying is the president’s claim of executive privilege trumps all."

When you break this Washington Post article down to its essence, it says this:

"According to the Bush Administration, nobody in the Bush Administration can be prosecuted for contempt (i.e., failing to comply with a congressional subpoena) because the prosecutors themselves (i.e., the DOJ) are within the Bush Administration and must do the Bush Administration’s budding."

Or, put more simply, the Bush White House is now claiming that they can break the law, because they are the law.

Scary times we live in.  Eric Alterman thinks we’re dangerously close to a constitutional crisis:

So we have come this far: The president and vice president assert a right to defy the law, and if Congress lets them get away with it, then the law is not the law.

6 years ago, bin Laden wanted to destroy the fabric of America.  He took thousands of lives and some very expensive real estate, but he ultimately failed in destroying the things that America stood for.  Bush, on the other hand, has succeeded where bin Laden failed.

Greenwald nails it down:

What is most significant is, as always, the underlying theory on which this claim is based. From the Post article:

David B. Rifkin, who worked in the Justice Department and White House counsel’s office under presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, praised the position and said it is consistent with the idea of a "unitary executive." In practical terms, he said, "U.S. attorneys are emanations of a president’s will." And in constitutional terms, he said, "the president has decided, by virtue of invoking executive privilege, that is the correct policy for the entire executive branch."

Just contemplate what that actually means. One of the primary, defining attributes of a civilized society that lives under the rule of law is prosecutorial independence. Without that, political opponents of those in power can be prosecuted for political rather than legal reasons. And worse still, our most powerful political leaders are free to break the law with impunity because they control the prosecutorial process, which — in this warped view of our republic — means that presidents have an absolute power to block criminal prosecution of their subordinates who break the law, provided it was done at the President’s behest.

The administration’s theory is an absolute denial of prosecutorial independence. It means that federal prosecutors are nothing more than obedient servants of the President. They are not merely appointed by the President, but their specific decisions about whether to prosecute executive branch officials for criminal acts are controlled and dictated by the President. They are nothing more, as Rifkin said, than "emanations of the president’s will."

It is hard to overstate how threatening that posture is to the defining attribute of a government that lives under the rule of law.

He adds:

The theory they are touting places criminal Executive Branch employees beyond the reach of courts, and means that they would have the right to defy any court which rejects their theory and rules against them. Though they have not yet explicitly exercised that court-defying power, they clearly believe they possess it.

The Ed Brown Standoff

This story — about a couple of nutjobs in New Hampshire — just came up on my radar.  They’re in a months long standoff with the state and federal government for refusing to pay their taxes.

Wikipedia got me up to date.

I’ve had online debates with people who insist that the federal income tax is illegal.  The arguments advanced by these groups include:

  • False arguments that the 16th Amendment to the Constitution (authorizing the income tax) was not properly ratified

  • False arguments that the Internal Revenue Code was not properly enacted by Congress

  • False arguments that the Internal Revenue Service was not properly constituted by either Congress or the Department of the Treasury (and is therefore operating as an "illegal" entity)

  • False arguments that "income" cannot be defined, and therefore cannot be owed

  • False arguments that only foreigners and citizens of the United States (falsely limited to citizens of the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, etc.) are liable to pay income tax, and state citizens are not liable for income tax — i.e., false arguments that the payment of income tax is really "voluntary" (you’d have to be a real sucker to believe this one).

Each one of these arguments are demonstrably false.  I rank these people right up there with 9/11 conspiracy theorists.– total whackos.

The Browns argument seems to fall under the thoroughly-bogus "legal" argument that they are not "citizens" of the United States, since that term is not defined, and therefore they cannot be taxed as "citizens".  This is because the Constitution states that people are "citizens" of the state in which they reside.  People like the Browns don’t understand the concept of "CONCURRENT CITIZENSHIP", which means that we are citizens of the state in which we reside AND the country in which we reside.

In other words, people like the Browns are idiots.

Anyway, I’ll be keeping my eye on this story.  I think it’s going to end in bloodshed.

Lifted (and Other Things)

(1) I haven’t seen "Ratatouille", but I hear it’s really good.

I also hear that the animated short, "Lifted", that they show before the feature is pretty good too.  Not only do I hear it; I know it.  Because here it is…..

In my humble opinion, what Disney was to the 20th century, Pixar will be to the 21st.

(2)  A guy visited (and made purchases at) every Starbucks in Manhattan — in one day.  Anyone who has been to New York lately knows this is an incredible feat — there are 171 of them on that small island.  That means he had to visit one every seven minutes over the course of 20 hours.  He made a movie of it, which you can see on the 171 Starbucks website.

(3)  Reviews of "Xanadu" (I’m talking the new Broadway musical version) are pretty bad:

For the New York Times, Charles Isherwood writes that "’This is like children’s theater for 40-year-old gay people!’

Clive Barnes in the NY Post writes "…in the end, “Xanadu” reminded me of something, and it wasn’t “Starlight Express” or even disco. It was “Ishtar.”"

For Reuters and the Hollywood Reporter, Frank Scheck writes that "Unfortunately, such self-consciousness is not likely to increase your enjoyment of this slipshod enterprise, which belongs more in a fringe festival than on Broadway. Despite running a mere 90 minutes, it quickly proves wearisome in its one-note camp attitude."

Read more.

AL East A Little Too Interesting For My Liking

C’mon guys:

Just two weeks ago, Boston was cruising with a 12-game lead in the division. But after the Kansas City Royals beat the Red Sox 6-5 on Wednesday, and the Yankees beat the Toronto Blue Jays 6-1, the lead is down to seven — the closest it’s been since after games of May 12.

"Are the Yankees back in it?" Boston’s Coco Crisp said. "They were never out of it."

The Red Sox have led the AL East for 95 straight days and still have the biggest lead in any of the six divisions. But the Yankees have won eight of their last 10 games, while the Red Sox are 3-7 in that stretch.

East W L PCT GB Home Away DIV Streak
Boston 56 38 .596 31-18 25-20 21-11 Lost 2
NY Yankees 48 44 .522 7 29-18 19-26 14-18 Won 5
Toronto 45 49 .479 11 26-19 19-30 18-19 Lost 3
Baltimore 42 52 .447 14 22-22 20-30 14-11 Lost 1
Tampa Bay 37 56 .398 18 1/2 22-27 15-29 9-17 Won 2

Sex Scandal Du Jour

Today’s sex scandal comes from North Carolina.

Will it involve a GOP politician?  Or a Christian activist?

How about …both??

Cabarrus County Commissioner Coy Privette was charged this morning with six counts of aiding and abetting prostitution. He was released from the Rowan County Jail on a written promise to appear, police said.

Privette, a former N.C. State Representative and retired Baptist minister, could not immediately be reached for comment.

Privette, it turns out, was once director of the Christian Action League of North Carolina for 15 years, and is a crusader for the removal of all things alcoholic from North Carolina.

But he loooooves the ladies (of the evening).

UPDATE:  More info here

The allegations involve alleged meetings at Rowan County hotel rooms with the same prostitute, dating back several months. Privette on two occasions allegedly paid the prostitute with checks then reported those checks as stolen, officials said.

Kinda Like The Old Soviet Union, Huh?

Wonkette:

Here’s the latest “executive order” from your beloved somehow-not-yet-impeached president: “Blocking Property of Certain Persons Who Threaten Stabilization Efforts in Iraq.” What’s it say?  If the White House decides that you are in any way “undermining efforts” in Iraq, or related to Iraq or pretty much anything else, the Treasury Department is authorized to seize your money, property, stocks, etc. The pride is back!

Neocon Jokes

Reformed Iraq War supporter and Log Cabin Republican Andrew Sullivan made a neocon joke yesterday — now he’s started a stampede.

Some of my favorites:

Q.  How many neocons does it take to screw in a light bulb?

A.  Neocons don’t bother with light bulbs. They declare a War on Darkness and set the house on fire.

********************************************

Q.  How many neocons does it take to screw in a light bulb?

A.  That’s an interesting question, one that I’m sure future historians will investigate in detail.  Look, let me address this issue up front: I don’t know who’s been installing light bulbs or who hasn’t.  That’s none of my business.  There’s a lot of different views, there’s a range of views, and a lot of concerns, and we are working to accommodate those concerns.  We know at this point that we still have some work to do and we are working very hard to address these issues.  We’re not making estimates. At this point what you’ve had are some fairly — you had some dramatic testimony and comments — by the way, you can expect people to be ventilating these differing points of views in coming days.  Our view is you have to have a resolution that offers a solution.  And you’re going to have people — there is sometimes, you’ll be surprised to hear, a disparity between comments made in public for domestic audiences around the world, and comments made in private, as well.  In short, we don’t want to comment on an ongoing investigation.

********************************************

George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and Joe Lieberman are all flying over New Orleans in a Blackhawk, surveying the progress that has been made in rebuilding the city and the levees. As they fly over the Ninth Ward, Cheney looks out the window, grins, and says, "You know, I could throw a thousand-dollar bill out the window right now and make one of those poor bastards very happy."

Bush says, "Well, I could throw ten hundred-dollar bills out the window right now and make TEN people very happy."

Not to be outdone, Lieberman chimes in, "Oh yeah? Well, I could throw a hundred $10 bills out the window and make a HUNDRED Americans very happy."

Hearing this, the copter pilot rolls his eyes and says, "Man, I could throw all three of you out the window and make 300 million Americans very happy."

********************************************

Q. How many neocons does it take to screw in a light bulb.

A. None. George Bush predicts the light bulb will be fully capable of changing itself within 3 months.

********************************************

Q: What do you get when you cross a neocon with a lemming?

A: Peace.

Broadway Flashback

The original Broadway cast of You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown, performing on the Ed Sullivan Show.

Recognize anyone in the cast?  The role of Charlie Brown is played by Gary Burghoff ("Radar" on M*A*S*H*).  Some of you may also recognize Skip Hinnant (as "Snoopy") of the old TV show Electric Company (he played, among other things, "Fargo North, Decoder"), and Bob Balaban (as "Linus") of Best in Show and other Christopher Guest movies.

Sex Education For Kindergarteners

Our national media is so bad.  I mean, it is atrociously bad.

Check out this ABC News headline: Sex Ed for Kindergarteners ‘Right Thing to Do,’ Says Obama

The story begins:

ABC News’ Teddy Davis and Lindsey Ellerson Report: Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., told Planned Parenthood Tuesday that sex education for kindergarteners, as long as it is "age-appropriate," is "the right thing to do."

Now, if you look at that, you would think that Obama is thinking we should talk about erections and fallopian tubes and zygotes and, you know, intercourse — to five year olds.

Naturally, headlines like that serve as red meat for the right wing.  For example, Matt Margolis of GOP Bloggers writes:

This is absurd. There is no reason why we need the schools to teach kids that are five years old about something that should be left to the parents. What’s even scarier is that he told Planned Parenthood that sex education for kindergartners is "the right thing to do" as long as it is "age-appropriate." Oh yeah? And who gets to decide what is "age-appropriate?"

Gateway Pundit adds:

Of course, Barak has no idea how insulting his remarks are as he goes on about how six-year-olds can benefit from sex education.

Then there’s Right Wing News: "Obama Is A Radical Liberal Who Wants To Expose Kindergartners To Sex And Force You To Pay For Abortions"

UPDATE:  Now, Mitt Romney is lating into Obama about this:

You get the idea.

Jlvn344lBut, as is usually the case, you have to go deep into the story to realize that there is far LESS to the story than it appears:

When Obama’s campaign was asked by ABC News to explain what kind of sex education Obama considers "age appropriate" for kindergarteners, the Obama campaign pointed to an Oct. 6, 2004 story from the Daily Herald in which Obama had "moved to clarify" in his Senate campaign that he "does not support teaching explicit sex education to children in kindergarten. . . The legislation in question was a state Senate measure last year that aimed to update Illinois’ sex education standards with ‘medically accurate’ information . . . ‘Nobody’s suggesting that kindergartners are going to be getting information about sex in the way that we think about it,’ Obama said. ‘If they ask a teacher ‘where do babies come from,’ that providing information that the fact is that it’s not a stork is probably not an unhealthy thing. Although again, that’s going to be determined on a case by case basis by local communities and local school boards.’"

In addition to local schools informing kindergarteners that babies do not come from the stork, the state legislation Obama supported in Illinois, which contained an "opt out" provision for parents, also envisioned teaching kindergarteners about "inappropriate touching," according to Obama’s presidential campaign. Despite Obama’s support, the legislation was not enacted.

I acknowledge that there is room for reasonable disagreement about the level of "sex education" you give to children (and who gives it), but Barack Obama’s "sex education" suggestion merely amounts to:

  1. Warning kids about what constitutes a “bad touch”
  2. Telling kids that babies grow inside mommies, and are made by mommies and daddies — but not explaining exactly how they’re made, since that’s not really relevant
  3. Allowing parents to determine whether or not their kids should think the stork brings children

Where is the objection in any of that?

So what is the purpose of that headline — "Sex Ed for Kindergarteners ‘Right Thing to Do,’ Says Obama" — other than to enflame a controversy where virtually little exists?

UPDATE:  Kudos to Pat Robertson’s people for, you know, actually getting what Obama was saying.  From the CBN website:

So, at this point at least, what Obama is referring to is teaching five year olds about inappropriate touching. The Obama campaign also tells The Brody File that parents would be able to opt out. As for further details, the touching aspect seems to be the main idea here. Obama doesn’t want to hand out condoms to five year olds. He doesn’t want cucumber demonstrations as part of show and tell. The legitimate reasonable discussion here is whether the federal government and/or local school boards should get involved in providing these five year olds information about inappropriate touching or should it be left up to families only.

Still, The Romney campaign is already ripping Barack Obama. The campaign is sending out this You Tube video where Mitt Romney spoke about this last night in a Colorado Springs speech….

I must say that Romney’s comments suggesting that Obama wants to teach sex education to kindergarteners is a little misleading. Because he didn’t put in the proper context, many in the audience probably left thinking that Obama is ok with the condoms and cucumber approach.

Also, Misty at Shakesville adds:

I think certain adults get all freaked about it because sex = “naughty” or “dirty” fun. Hubba-hubba and all that. But kids don’t think of it that way and won’t associate all the “adultness” or “naughty fun” with it just by the simple explanation of how sex and the body work to “make a baby”. The truth of the matter is, it’s as non-sexy and non-a big deal as explaining digestion or breathing. It just simply IS.

Sounds right to me.

A Movie That Won’t Play Around Here

Too bad, because it looks good:

It’s no wonder that we can’t succeed in Iraq.  Our war administrators get fooled by actors:

In March, he was declared captured. In May, he was declared killed, and his purported corpse was displayed on state-run TV. But on Wednesday, Abu Omar Baghdadi, the supposed leader of an Al Qaeda-affiliated group in Iraq, was declared nonexistent by U.S. military officials, who said he was a fictional character created to give an Iraqi face to a foreign-run terrorist organization.

An Iraqi actor has been used to read statements attributed to Baghdadi, who since October has been identified as the leader of the Islamic State of Iraq group, said U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Kevin Bergner.

When the Iraqi militants start doing the your-shoe-is-untied gambit, we’re done for.

RELATED:  A short video about College Republicans who support the war but somehow find reasons for not actually enlisting and fighting (they also talk about "the gay" too):

I Wonder…

When this photo was taken, did the photographer know that he/she was possibly taking the picture of two future presidents?

Futurepresidents

Damn hippies.

The Wizard Of Oz (1910)

Yup, the classic movie "The Wizard of Oz" with Judy Garland was actually a re-make of this 1910 silent film, which runs about 13 minutes.

RELATED:  You might also enjoy these excepts from a really bad 1971 Turkish version of "The Wizard Of Oz"

3D Email

How many times have you been pouring through your email, thinking to yourself, "Gosh! I wish this email was in 3-D?"

Well, now you can enjoy your e-mail in 3-D.  Yes, FINALLY!

By the pool.

Where other swimmers and sunbathers represent your emails.

I guess.

Where spam (represented by thong-wearing fat guys?) gets fed to the virtual sharks.

I think.

Honestly, I can’t decide if this is cool or really really stupid.  Or maybe even a hoax?

Visit the 3D Mailbox website and figure it out for yourself:

Think of 3D Mailbox as email meets videogame. Or as an email metaverse. Do you love videogames? Are you passionate about email? Then 3D Mailbox is for you. It’s e-mail for the visual generation.

3D Mailbox turns your emails into people: In the first level, Miami Beach, beautiful models represent good email, and goofy Sumo guys represent spam. Chill with your email poolside and in private cabanas, and feed your spam to the sharks! The beautiful locales and Brazilian background music make you feel like you’re on vacation any time of the day.