Monthly Archives: August 2008

Experience

Cindy McCain:

STEPHANOPOULOS: But she has no national security experience.

McCAIN: You know, the experience that she comes from is what she’s done in government, and remember, Alaska is the closest part of our continent to Russia. It’s not as if she doesn’t understand what’s at stake here.

I lived in New Hampshire for over a decade.  Right next to Canada.

I oughta be Secretary of State.

UPDATE:  The vid…

Praying For Rain

Funny.

Here’s a video from last week of Stuart Shepard of Focus on the Family encouraging people to pray to God to send "rain of biblical proportions" to ruin the Democrat’s big night in Denver. 

Now, with Gustav bearing down on Louisiana and ruining the GOP convention, I think God has indeed sent a message…

… to Shepard.

Heh.

The Women-Vote-Getting Gambit Fails

First polls on Palin show women aren’t drawn to her:

The first national polls on John McCain’s pick of Sarah Palin yesterday came out today from Rasmussen and Gallup — and contrary to what the GOP probably hoped, she scored less well with women than men.

Here’s a finding from Gallup: Among Democratic women — including those who may be disappointed that Hillary Clinton did not win the Democratic nomination — 9% say Palin makes them more likely to support McCain, 15% less likely.

From Rasmussen: Some 38% of men said they were more likely to vote for McCain now, but only 32% of women. By a narrow 41% to 35% margin, men said she was not ready to be president — but women soundly rejected her, 48% to 25%.

Only 9% of Obama supporters said they might be more likely to vote for McCain.

Overall, voters expressed a favorable impression of her by a 53/26 margin, but there was a severe gender gap on this: Men embraced her at 58% to 23%, while for women it was 48/30.

And by a 29/44 margin, men and women together, they do not believe that she is ready to be President.

As for voters not affiliated with either major party, 37% are more likely to vote for McCain and 28% less likely to do so.

Gallup is now out with its own initial poll. It also shows women with a slightly less favorable view of Palin. An excerpt from USA Today:

There is wide uncertainty about whether she’s qualified to be president. In the poll, taken Friday, 39% say she is ready to serve as president if needed, 33% say she isn’t and 29% have no opinion.

That’s the lowest vote of confidence in a running mate since the elder George Bush chose then-Indiana senator Dan Quayle to join his ticket in 1988. In comparison, Delaware Sen. Joe Biden was seen as qualified by 57%-18% after Democrat Barack Obama chose him as a running mate last week…..

I guess people are seeing what Steven Benan so eloquently articulates here:

I don’t doubt for a moment that Sarah Palin is a nice person and probably a competent Alaskan governor. But she also has the thinnest background of any candidate for national office since 1908. Is McCain willing, with a straight face, to argue that Palin is the single "most prepared" person in the entire United States to assume the presidency should tragedy strike? Is anyone, anywhere, prepared to argue that McCain has put "country first"? Of course not; these ideas are literally laughable.

Palin’s qualifications are, to a very real degree, secondary to the issue at hand. What matters most right now is John McCain’s comically dangerous sense of judgment. He picked a running mate he met once for 15 minutes, who’s been the governor of a small state for a year and a half, and who is in the midst of an abuse-of-power investigation in which she appears to have lied rather blatantly. She has no obvious expertise in any area, and no record of any kind of federal issues. McCain doesn’t care.

Sensible people of sound mind and character simply don’t things like this. Leaders don’t do things like this. It’s the height of arrogance. It’s manifestly unserious. It’s reckless and irresponsible. It mocks the political process. Faced with a major presidential test, McCain thought it wise to tell an imprudent joke of lasting consequence.

Kevin noted:

This is all part of what I was talking about the other day when I noted that McCain is running such a palpably unserious campaign. Steve Schmidt seems solely interested in winning the daily news cycle; his staff spends its time gleefully churning out juvenile attack videos; McCain himself has retreated into robotic incantations of simpleminded talking points; and now he’s chosen a manifestly unqualified VP that he knows nothing about. I’ve honestly never seen anything like it.

No one has; it’s without precedent in modern American politics. The novelty and gimmickry might hold sway with those who base their votes on who they’d like to have a beer with, but that doesn’t make it any less of a joke.

Sullivan added, "Palin isn’t the issue here. McCain’s judgment is. It’s completely off the wall. Is there something wrong with him?"

That may sound like a flippant question, but it deserves a serious answer. Is there something wrong with him? Might this be evidence of some kind of impulse problem, as reflected in his shoot-first, think-second approach to foreign policy?

When I think about the respect that John McCain had worked so hard to develop, the stature he’d taken years to cultivate, and the reputation he’d built his career on, it’s breathtaking to see him throw it all away. If there’s a more complete collapse in modern political times, from hero to clown, I can’t think of it.

We’re poised to learn a great deal about Sarah Palin, but we’ve just learned even more about John McCain. He’s fundamentally unsuited for the presidency.

I think that’s right.  This isn’t about Palin.  It’s about McCain’s judgment.  Or lack thereof.  I wonder how much vetting went on.  Were the McCain people aware, for example, that the conservative Christian Sarah Palin’s first child was conceived out of wedlock?

Palin On Iraq

From a March 2007 interview:

ABM: We’ve lost a lot of Alaska’s military members to the war in Iraq. How do you feel about sending more troops into battle, as President Bush is suggesting?

Palin: I’ve been so focused on state government, I haven’t really focused much on the war in Iraq. I heard on the news about the new deployments, and while I support our president, Condoleezza Rice and the administration, I want to know that we have an exit plan in place; I want assurances that we are doing all we can to keep our troops safe.

Our potential new commander-in-chief…..

BONUS:  Audio from an interview with Palin two weeks ago… "Let’s make sure we have a plan here"….

Doesn’t sound very cohesive…

Oh, and she doesn’t really know what a VP does… from an interview before her selection.  Fun starts at 2:50 minutes in….

FURTHER THOUGHTS:

Clearly, McCain selected Palin to get the women vote — particularly, those disgruntled Hillary supporters.  But why her specifically?  Why not Condi Rice?  Or Olympia Snow?  Someone with more experience?  When McCain started his bid for the presidency, Palin wasn’t even governor of Alaska yet.

This is truly a bizarre choice, in that it reveals McCain’s desire to win, rather than his desire to do what is best (even on his own terms) for what is best for the country.  Hopefully, people will see through this transparently political choice.

Palin?

The buzz this morning is that McCain has picked 44 year old Alaska governor Sarah Palin to be his vice-presidential candidate on the Republican ticket for the White House in November.  In fact, CNN just went with the story minutes ago.

Never heard of her?  Me neither.

But already, I see a problem.

McCain is, in case you haven’t noticed, old.  And this means that Palin is one fragile heartbeat away from the presidency.  Someone you never heard of.

UPDATE:  For all their talk about Obama’s inexperience, Palin has only been Alaska governor since 2006.  They say that the first test of a presidential candidate is who he/she picks as VP.    McCain has made much in recent weeks of Obama’s relative lack of experience in foreign policy and defense matters, so I’m not sure McCain’s selection reflects prudent thinking on his part.  It’s clearly an attempt to pander to women.  What other qualifications might have warrented such a selection?

She’s also under investigation… the Alaska state legislature voted to hire an independent investigator to find out whether she tried to have a state official fire her ex-brother-in-law from his job as a state trooper.

UPDATE:  Yes, this is really her (with a little Sadly, No captioning…)

Vpilf

My $0.02 On The Obama Speech

Wow.

I had high expectations for Obama’s acceptance speech.  I wasn’t worried about him meeting those expectations, but I never — never — thought he would exceed them.

I knew he would have lofty rhetoric about "politics as usual" and finding common ground among the diverse political views of the nation, especially his appeal to independents and Republicans (for example, his references to "personal responsibility").  I knew he would talk about his view of government in (as Brian Williams pointed out) a very Aaron Sorkin-like way.  I knew he would go into some specifics about his plans and policies.  I knew he would effectively rebut the whole "elitism" and "celebrity" memes.

What I didn’t expect was the toughness against McCain and the rightwing political machine.  That part was brilliant.  It’s tricky to go on the offensive while maintaining an optimistic and inspirational tone, but that’s precisely what made Obama’s speech so effective. He didn’t just take the fight to McCain, he eviscerated McCain, his worldview, his party, and his record. This is not Kerry, not Dukakis, not even Gore.  He was less afraid and less calculating that Bill Clinton.  Obama is not only a great orator, but a street fighter.  The GOP will have their hands full, because Obama showed himself to be a pragmatic progressive, not just a liberal with a sackful of rhetorical flourishes about his "vision".

I thought MSNBC’s coverage — the gushing of Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann — was a bit embarrassing, although it was nice to watch Pat Buchanan acknowledge what a terrific speech it was.

Of course, from my couch, Obama was preaching to the converted.  Did it score with disenchanted Dems and Independents?  Time will tell, but I can’t think of a better speech to have accomplished that task.

By the way, the AP report on the speech is bizarre, as Yglesius points out:

As part of the AP’s continuing descent into absurdity they covered Barack Obama’s speech with this long, editorializing-heavy whine about an alleged lack of specifics. This in particular is bizarre:

He said he would “cut taxes for 95 percent of all working families,” but did not say how.

How? His staff would have to work with the staffs of the relevant members of congress on writing a bill. Then the bill needs to get out of committee, pass the House and the Senate, maybe go through a conference committee process and then be signed into law. What does he mean how?

Anyway, the GOP convention will be interesting.  While I hope that nothing seriously bad hits the Gulf Coast next week, I do find it rather amusing that Gustav plans to make a metaphorical appearance.

But for those who missed it, here’s the speech.  You really need to watch the whole thing to appreciate the arc of its craftsmanship, going from the generic acknowledgements, to the policy specifics, to the humility, to the attacks…. it hits all the notes in a wonderful symphony:

Sad To Say, This Was Inevitable

From Denver:

Denver’s U.S. attorney is expected to speak on Tuesday afternoon about the arrests of four people suspected in a possible plot to shoot Barack Obama at his Thursday night acceptance speech in Denver. All are being held on either drug or weapons charges.

One of those suspects spoke exclusively to CBS4 investigative reporter Brian Maass from inside the Denver City Jail late Monday night and said his friends had discussed killing Obama.

"So your friends were saying threatening things about Obama?" Maass asked.

"Yeah," Nathan Johnson replied.

"It sounded like they didn’t want him to be president?"

"Well, no," Johnson said.

Maass reported earlier Monday that one of the suspects told authorities they were "going to shoot Obama from a high vantage point using a … rifle … sighted at 750 yards."

Law enforcement sources told Maass that one of the suspects "was directly asked if they had come to Denver to kill Obama. He responded in the affirmative."

The story began emerging Sunday morning when Aurora police arrested Tharin Gartrell, 28. He was driving a rented pickup truck in an erratic manner, according to sources.

Sources told CBS4 police found two high-powered, scoped rifles in the car along with camouflage clothing, walkie-talkies, wigs, a bulletproof vest, a spotting scope, licenses in the names of other people and 44 grams of methamphetamine. One of the rifles is listed as stolen from Kansas.

Aurora police alerted federal officials because of heightened security surrounding the Democratic convention, Aurora police Det. Marcus Dudley said.

"Clearly we feel that there are federal implications — otherwise we would not have notified those agencies," Dudley said Monday night. "The weapons clearly would cause great concern."

Subsequently authorities went to the Cherry Creek Hotel in Glendale to contact an associate of Gartrell’s. But that man, identified as Shawn Robert Adolph, 33, who was wanted on numerous warrants, jumped out of a sixth floor hotel window. Law enforcement sources say Adolph broke an ankle in the fall and was captured moments later. Sources say he had a handcuff ring and was wearing a swastika, and is thought to have ties to white supremacist organizations.

Nathan Johnson, 32, an associate of Gartrell and Adolph, was also arrested Sunday morning. He told authorities that the two men had "planned to kill Barack Obama at his acceptance speech."

"He don’t belong in political office. Blacks don’t belong in political office. He ought to be shot," Johnson told Maass.

"Do you think they were really plotting to kill Obama?" Maass asked.

"I don’t want to say yes, but I don’t want to say no," he said.

Johnson’s girlfriend Natasha Gromek is also under arrest on drug charges.

The Secret Service, FBI, ATF and the joint terrorism task force are all investigating the alleged plot. Dudley didn’t say what tied the men together but said more arrests were possible.

Georgia10 from the DailyKos was at the same hotel, across the hall from the bust.

Ed O’Keefe from The Trail blog was right next door.

One gets the sense that this was a bunch of racist drugged-out redneck yahoos, rather than a serious well-funded assassination attempt.  But still….

Half-Watching-The-Convention Blogging

Random thoughts as they occur to me about Day 1 of the DNC convention:

*  I’m just (half)watching the live stream.  Can’t stand the commenters and pundits on CNN and MSNBC.

*  Love the band.  Doing lots of Earth Wind & Fire

*  Nancy Pelosi really is a poor speaker.  Plastic, stumbling, maudlin.

*  Wow.  They really gave the shaft to Carter.  They give him a tribute, and he’s not speaking????

*  I like Jesse Jackson Jr. better than I like his dad.

*  The CNN feed likes to show shots of white people who can’t dance.

*  The Teddy Kennedy moment certainly paled in comparison to the Bobby Kennedy moment (in 1964).  I wasn’t very impressed, but the man is sick….

McCain Doesn’t Know How Many Houses He Has

Seriously.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said in an interview Wednesday that he was uncertain how many houses he and his wife, Cindy, own.

"I think — I’ll have my staff get to you," McCain told Politico in Las Cruces, N.M. "It’s condominiums where — I’ll have them get to you."

Very VERY quick response from the Obama camp….

Actually, I think McCain owns more than seven…..

** UPDATE ** McCain has just officially played the POW card to a laughable degree:

The McCain campaign is road-testing a new argument in responding to Obama’s criticism of his number-of-houses gaffe, an approach the McCain camp has never tried before: The houses gaffe doesn’t matter because … he was a P.O.W.!

“This is a guy who lived in one house for five and a half years — in prison,” spokesman Brian Rogers told the Washington Post.

Sound familiar?  When the Rev. Kirbyjon Caldwell, a close Bush ally, publicly questioned McCain’s marital infidelities, the McCain campaign responded by highlighting McCain’s background as a prisoner of war.

When Dems attacked McCain’s healthcare plan in May, McCain responded by noting his background as a prisoner of war.

Asked by a local reporter about the first thing that comes to his mind when he thinks of Pittsburgh, McCain responded by talking about his background as a prisoner of war.

Accused of possibly having heard the questions in advance of Rick Warren’s recent candidate forum, the McCain campaign responded by highlighting McCain’s background as a prisoner of war.

I think that fountain has run dry.

Thoughts About Biden As VP

*  Lots of foreign policy experience.  This is good except that Obama has made hay of the argument that "experience" necessarily means one is right.  After all, Biden voted in favor of the Iraq invasion; Obama didn’t.  Obama was right; Biden wasn’t.  So bringing Biden on board for his "experience" seems to make Obamma’s lack of experience seem more like an admitted shortcoming than it probably is.

*  Biden brings no state.  Delaware?

*  Good attack dog.  It may be what the Obama campaign needs.  Let Obama be presidential and above-the-fray; let Biden in get in the mud.  As this race gets uglier, that might be a good combination.

*  Good debater.  One of the best.

*  Bit of a media whore.  Often puts foot in mouth.

BOTTOM LINE:  I can’t get revved up too much about Biden, but there are worse choices.  I still would prefer Kathleen Sebaleus.

Forever Young

Being stuck in a hospital has caused me to be a bit nostalgic.  So I’ve decided to upload my yearbook photos from years gone by…..

1950

Myyearbookphoto1950

1956

Myyearbookphoto1956

1960

Myyearbookphoto1960

1964

Myyearbookphoto1964

1970

Myyearbookphoto1970

1974

Myyearbookphoto1974

1978

Myyearbookphoto1978

1984

Myyearbookphoto1984

1988

Myyearbookphoto1988

1990

Myyearbookphoto1990

1994

Myyearbookphoto1994

2000

Myyearbookphoto2000_2

Sicko

Cheryl managed to smuggle in my laptop and I’ve hacked in to the Wake Forest Baptist Hospital computer, so I can inform the outside world of what’s going on.

Actually, Cheryl carried in my laptop and that have free Internet access….

What’s going on is…. hell if I know.

I went to my GP on Friday.  It was my second visit to him since the whole ER experience from the previous week, in which it was learned that I had an infected colon from diverticulitis.  The doctors had sent me home with some strong oral antibiotics.

After the results of some blood tests, it was clear to my GP that the antibiotics were not helping.  In fact, the raised white blood cell count indicated that, if anything, the infection in my colon was getting worse.  So he said to go back to the emergency room.

So, another Friday night, another visit to the LOVELY Wake Forest Baptist Hospital ER.  Xrays, CT Scans.

I was admitted to the hospital this time.  The two issues are these:

(1)  The infection, which was apparently so massive as to block all digestive "movement" and

(2)  The damage to the colon itself.

Now, as for #2, there’s not much to say because damage cannot be assessed until the infection is down.  It LOOKS like, from all indications, they will have to remove a section of my colon (making it a semicolon).   That operation will happen in a few weeks, all other things pending.  (The alternative to that is a collostemy bag, which is NOT cool).

So the focus here is on #1, which consists of me taking some IV antibiotics.  Plus, to clear out pressure from behind the infection/obstruction, they inserted a tube through my nose, down my throat and into my stomach to pump out bile or whatever.  This hellish thing has been running through my nose and into my stomach for about 40 hours now, and I hate it.

To speed up the process, it looked like they were going to insert a needle, but that might be on hold.

In any event, it’s getting better through the slow process of IV antibiotics.

But I could be here many more days.  Just lying here.

Probably wont do much blogging since im not paying attention to things and this isnt particualrly interesting

\

Yeah, So I Collapsed At Work…

…and was taken by ambulance to the emergency room, where I hung out for nine hours all told, and then was finally sent home me with the news that I had a ruptured colon.  [CLARIFICATION:  Ok, not that I had a ruptured colon…. more like an infected colon which could rupture if it hasn’t already, so I have to take anti biotics and anti-inflammatories…..]

Which means I probably won’t be much help in the team and individual qualifying events.

**** UPDATE — 8/14/08  9:15pm —

Still recuperating.  I have written in my mind an absolutely hysterical blog "pamphlet" entitled "SO YOU WANT TO HAVE DIVERTICULITIS", based on my experiences.  Sadly, it’s probably too nasty, and I lack the energy anyway.

Bottom line — light blogging for the next few days.  I woould love to share my feelings about many things (i.e., the Edwards affair — disappointing), but que sera sera.

Reality Check With Grant Swank

The Reverand Pastor Grant Swank had a great column yesterday.  A totally incomprehensible column full of ten dollar words….

Obama’s Cult

"’As you may know, not long ago a couple hundred thousand Berliners made a lot of noise for my opponent. I’ll take the roar of 50,000 Harleys any day,’ McCain said, referring to Democrat Barack Obama’s recent visit to the German capital" per AP.

John McCain was addressing the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. His speech was reality-based, far different than the fantasy-celebrity-Islamic B. Hussein Obama base.

Obama’s base is full of fantasy-celebrity Islamics?  What is that?  Like Sacha Baron Cohen’s Borat?  No, was he Islamic?

Reality. It’s becoming increasinly a strange virtue.

And Milk.  It’s not just for breakfast anymore.

Yet it is the power behind reality that guarantees its ultimate success with those genuinely seeking truth.

Yeah, I don’t know what that means either.  I guess reality runs on those batteries used by Energizer bunnies.

Cultures have been easily steared by the unreal. It does not take thought or perception to go that route. When cultures persist in that journey, they disintegrate.

Unreal?  You mean like an unseen God who sits on a throne up in the clouds, which you can visit after you die because he’s got your name scrolled in a book, and you can play with all your longlost dead pets?

Reality means sacrificing one’s own wishes for what is.

And virtual reality means sacrificing some of one’s own wishes for what is.  I think.

Reality dictates that self submit to the actual milieu rather than carve out a more convenient travel.

In other words, traveolocity.com is a ripoff.

Cults are built on fantasies. They wrap into their warp the thoughtless and weak. If reality tries to break through, there is unbelievable resistance for cults are structured on the extreme opposite of reality.

I need graphics to help me understand this.

There is a B. Hussein cult already formed. It is given to the craze. Its members don’t read, don’t heed. They simply cheer, stomp, cry, fall at their messiah’s feet and clamor for more. B. Hussein is most adept at providing them with the unreal.

Well, since more than half of polled Americans favor Obama, can it really be called a cult?

"Change." "Unite." Phrases like that don’t actually say anything when coming from a manipulative, controlling personage like B. Hussein.

Riiiiiight.  And calling him "B. Hussein", by the way, isn’t at all being manipulative.  Because in reality, that’s his name, right?

When McCain spoke to the bikers, he was more than in his element.

Yes, because McCain owns six houses, flies his own private jet, etc.  He’s a real Hell Angel, that John McCain.  Especially when he offered up his wife to appear in a topless beuaty pageant.

They would not tolerate for a second the contrived. McCain gave them reality. He spoke simply the facts. He became one of them.

He’s even getting a tat on his ass.

There were no suspicions. There was no hesitancy, no heckling, no madness.

Probably because most of them were getting a beer before the main attraction, Kid Rock, took the stage (it’s true!)

Interestingly and importantly, Cindy McCain brought about the same chemistry when taking the microphone. While quite the wealthy female, she stayed with the reality quotient and matched her audience in splendor.

Ah, yes.  The splendor of hundreds of drunk bikers in the summer heat, knocking back the beers and talking about their Harleys.  It’s kind of like an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel.

If America wants to remain on track, it must keep to the reality gear.

Not second or third gear, but the reality gear.

If America concludes to lose its way, it chooses the likes of B. Hussein. His cadre is already in place to usher in the throes of division and depression. That is what "Change" and "Unite" really mean in the B. Hussein lexicon.

Swank has obtained the secret B. Hussein decoder ring.

McCain’s reality is at America’s core.

With Stanley Tucci and Angeline Jolie.

It is what America has always held to when at the Republic’s best. It is what makes this democracy like none other, no matter the detractors’ derisions.

McCain’s reality speech to the bikers was clear and crisp. It was honorable because it was honest. Reality knows nothing but honesty.

True.  I especially like the "honest" part where McCain mocked Obama for suggesting that we can improve energy efficiency by keeping our tires inflated…. and then later (outside the rally) said he agreed with Obama about that.

It’s that kind of reality and honesty which is rare these days.

That is why the B. Hussein’s doctrine is the Loser Maximum.

Which sounds like a badly named power drink.

It is dishonest on so many multi-dimensional levels as to be frightening to the real-thinking citizens of this country.

Well, maybe not as dishonest as constantly mis-stating his name, huh>

B. Hussein has belonged to a dishonest political plant known as Jeremiah Wright’s church. B. Hussein has tied up with dishonest Muslims in Illinois via the Nation of Islam. B. Hussein’s biography is fraught with untruths. His birth certificate is dishonest — a fake. And so forth and so forth.

That’s all honest reality, my friends.  It’s honest.  And so forth and so forth.

The decision before this nation is to empower reality from Atlantic to Pacific or wed to the death wish. It is that stark a choice.

For real, Pastor Swank?  If we vote for Obama, we die?  C’mon.  Reeeeeally?

Theatrical Archives

Pretty cool:

The theater where "The Merchant of Venice" and "Romeo and Juliet" likely debuted and where William Shakespeare himself may have trodden the boards has likely been discovered in east London, archaeologists at the Museum of London said Wednesday.

I Support Obama…..

…. and I say so on this blog for free.

So it’s kind of sad to see that McCain, suffering from an "enthusiasm gap", needs to bribe bloggers to write nice things about him in return for prizes and gifts:

Spread John McCain’s official talking points around the Web — and you could win valuable prizes!

That, in essence, is the McCain campaign’s pitch to supporters to join its new online effort, one that combines the features of "AstroTurf" campaigning with the sort of customer-loyalty programs offered by airlines, hotel chains, restaurants and the occasional daily newspaper.

On McCain’s Web site, visitors are invited to "Spread the Word" about the presumptive Republican nominee by sending campaign-supplied comments to blogs and Web sites under the visitor’s screen name. The site offers sample comments ("John McCain has a comprehensive economic plan . . .") and a list of dozens of suggested destinations, conveniently broken down into "conservative," "liberal," "moderate" and "other" categories. Just cut and paste.

***

People who sign up for McCain’s program receive reward points each time they place a favorable comment on one of the listed Web sites (subject to verification by McCain’s webmasters). The points can be traded for prizes, such as books autographed by McCain, preferred seating at campaign events, even a ride with the candidate on his bus, known as the Straight Talk Express, according to campaign spokesman Brian Rogers.

Here’s a thought…. if you’re a McCain supporter, why don’t you write nice things about him because you’ll get the "prize" of a McCain presidency?!?

Olympic Fever — Catch It

But a little widget on my righthand column.  Won’t be operational until tomorrow.

For those who must resort to watching Olympics online, NBC, who has sole rights to Olympic broadcasts in the U.S., will be providing thousands of hours of content on the web at NBCOlympics.com.  They’ll have four live streams and 3,000 hours of on-demand video online, which should be enough.

And if it ain’t — well — these are the days of the Intertubes, so we don’t necessarily have to rely on NBC, do we.  No, we don’t.

TV Tonic. NBC paired with Wavexpress to offer event highlights on demand via a download service similar to iTunes. If you use Windows Media Center to watch TV you’ll see a link to this software marked as "NBC Olympics" in the Online Media strip. This will offer video ranging in quality from 840×480 progressive to 1080i HD. For 32-bit Windows Vista users only.

YouTube. Starting Wednesday, Google will provide approximately three hours of content each day from the Olympics Broadcasting Service on a channel dedicated to the games. The content will include highlight reels and daily wrap-ups, but no live coverage. The footage will be available in 77 territories, including South Korea, India and Nigeria, that aren’t officially covered by Olympic sponsors, according to an International Olympic Committee press release.

CCTVOlympics.com. CCTV will be supplying more than 5,000 hours of Olympic Games coverage for mainland China and Macau.

BBC Sports. The U.K.’s official Olympics broadcaster will offer six streaming channels showing coverage from BBC TV and BBC News Interactive. Channels will focus on on-demand daily highlights and athlete interviews.

Yahoo7. Australia’s official Olympics online portal offers live streams, video coverage on-demand and behind-the-scenes interviews, specials and features.

CBC Olympics. Canadians can tune into the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation online for supplemental live streams, video coverage on-demand and behind-the-scenes interviews, specials and features.

In most of these cases, users in the United States will be blocked from viewing the footage on the non-NBC sites. But you may be able to view clips or streams from other countries if you use a proxy server located within that country, or if you can otherwise trick the streaming server into thinking you’re from a country where it’s allowed.

Here’s how you would do it, although personally, I think it’s more trouble than its worth.

I Would Have Acquitted Ivins

Yesterday, the Federal Bureau of Investigation outlined a pattern of bizarre and deceptive conduct by Bruce E. Ivins, an Army microbiologist who killed himself last week, in an attempt to show, in the court of public opinion, that Ivins (and Ivins alone) was behind the 2001 anthrax-by-mail attacks which killed 6 people.

I’m not saying that Ivins was innocent.  I’m just saying that ALL the evidence against Ivins was circumstantial:

* The FBI Identified a "genetically unique" parent material used in attacks called RMR-1029 from single, specific flask; "created and solely maintained by Dr. Ivins;" "no one received material from that flask without going through Dr. Ivins;" ruled out all persons who could have had access to flask, except Ivins

The piece of evidence required the creation/refinement of new scientific techniques allowing more definitive identification of specific DNA family of anthrax used in mailings; these techniques were not available earlier in the case, until 2005 when the FBI had this "breakthrough".  So forensically, this "new scientific technique" is basically untried, and one has to wonder how flawed it might be.

* Ivins skilled in techniques necessary to create weaponized spores; Ivins had access to freeze-drying machine called "lyopholizer" used to create dry spores from wet material; other technicians consulted him on the proper use of this machinery, demonstrating his expertise

Yeah, he had access to a lyopholizer, because WaPo even acknowledged, Ivins:

did at least one project for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency that would have given him reason to use the drying equipment, according to a former colleague in his lab.

Glenn Greenwald did a little investigative work of his own on this matter:

This morning I spoke with Dr. Luke D. Jasenosky of the Harvard School of Medicine’s Immune Disease Institute. Dr. Jasenosky said that it is "very common" for someone engaged in the vaccine research of the type Ivins did to use a lyophilizer, and that he "would actually be surprised if they weren’t using one."

* In days leading up to each mailing, Ivins was working "inordinate" number of off-hours, particularly at night and also on weekends, in the lab; records show he did not work such hours either before or after the attacks; Ivins was never able to provide "satisfactory" answer as to why he was working strange hours

Circumstantial.  And of course, no answer would be "satisfactory" to an investigative body trying to pin a crime on someone

* Demonstrated "consciousness of guilt" — examples: during search, took "highly unusual" steps to hide book on DNA coding; submitted "questionable sample" of his parent spores to FBI when requested (presumably to deliberately get a false negative on a comparative test)

Circumstantial and a matter of opinion; hardly factual evidence

* Made "far-reaching" efforts to blame others and deflect attention from himself

Isn’t that what an innocent person might do, too?

* Made detailed threats to kill people in his group therapy sessions

This allegation comes exclusive from a social worker in those group therapy sessions, Jean Duley, who took out a retraining order against Ivins two weeks ago (a week before Ivins commited suicide).  But Duley is no model citizen; she’s got a string of DWI arrests, as well as charges for spousal battery, and possession of drug paraphenalia with intent to use.  Furthermore, her retraining order against Duley was made only after the FBI, who was targetting Ivins, suggest that she make it.

Duey, by the way, never actually heard Ivins make death threats.  She was told by some third party that Ivins made those threats.  THAT is what we call hearsay, and it would have been inadmissible in court.

* Ivins had a history of mental health problems

Well, depression and anxiety, for which he was treated with medication, which he took.  Like millions of other Americans. 

* Throughout his adult life, had frequently driven to other locations to send packages under assumed names to disguise his identity as the sender; admitted to using psuedonyms; was a prolific writer to Congress and the media (thus demonstrating his interests and habits seemed congruent with the "Amerithrax" mailer)

Actually, Ivins had PO boxes under an assumed name…. to receive porn.  Oooooohhhh.

* Envelopes used in attacks were all pre-franked sold only by post offices during 9-month period in 2001; analysis shows defects in ink on pre-printed portions of envelopes; this defect is similar to defects in printing sold by the post office in the Frederick, MD area (where Ivins lived and maintained a PO box); spokesman calls it "very likely" envelopes were purchased in Frederick MD

Why is it "very likely"?  Because both things have a connection to Frederick, MD?

Now, that’s just some of the so-called "evidence" against Ivins, and most of it is circumstantial.  The only forensic evidence was the questionable and untested "new scientific technique" which linked the anthrax to that particular lab, not necessarily to Ivins.  (In fact, the NYT today reports that more than 100 people had access to that particular strain of anthrax in the lab).

And, of course, Ivins use of the lyopholizer, which, as I said, he would have used anyway for legitimate purposes.

But what is more alarming is what the FBI couldn’t get in terms of hard evidence against Ivins:

*  The FBI couldn’t place him in Princeton NJ, where the anthrax letters were mailed

*  They couldn’t find a single spore of the particular anthrax strain in Ivin’s car or house.

All in all, not a whole lot of things there — certainly not enough to convict.  (And indeed, the Grand Jury still hadn’t handed down an indictment against Ivins, so there’s no telling if they were convinced).

It should also be remembered that the FBI set its sites on another suspect back in 2002 — Steven Hatfill.   Hatfill responded by fighting fire with fire — he held press conferences and initiated many legal efforts, culminiating in getting the FBI to not only back off.  In short, the FBI got it wrong.

But Ivins was a different kind of guy, a gentler man.  When he became the target, Ivins got depressed. Then killed himself, apparently.

Again, I’m not saying Ivins was innocent.  I’m just saying that, based on what the FBI has presented to date, I wouldn’t have convicted.

For some interesting reading on this subject, I suggest the blog of Dr. Meryl Ness, who is (like Ivins) a specialist in the field of anthrax vaccines.  And Glenn Greenwald (see link above) is all over it too.

Paris Hilton Campaign Ad

She just went up a couple of notches in my book…

What’s funny is that she totally pwns McCain.

Seriously, Senator McCain.  When Paris Hilton articulates an energy policy as a joke which is more substantive than yours, it’s time to bow out.

McCain Enters Wife In “Topless” Beauty Pageant

Here’s a video of John McCain saying he encouraged his wife to compete for the title of "Miss Buffalo Chip":

Maybe he didn’t know that the event was topless.  It’s kind of hard to believe that he would offer his wife, even as a joke, for something like that.  But that says a lot about McCain.  He’s trying to put himself out there as the biker’s best friend, but the truth is that he’s a $520-shoe wearing elitist.  He’s got nothing more in common with the Harley-riding bike ralliers and he knows it.  I mean, there’s pandering and then there’s humiliation.  This, I think, comes close to the second category.

Megan Carpentier at Jezebel thinks McCain knew full well what the "pageant" was about, but just has a "woman problem":

He didn’t do it just because she’s pretty or has an enviable body for a 54-year-old woman or because he’s proud of his wife’s brand of socialite beauty. He did it to pander to the crowd’s idea of appropriate masculinity, and that apparently includes over-sexualizing your wife and the mother of your children for the amusement of a few people in a crowd. McCain offered up the thought of his wife objectifying herself for the sexual gratification of others (at his suggestion) in order to get a couple of chuckles, inspire some male fantasy and make a few "friends." Fun!

And you might say that John McCain didn’t think of it as an objectification ritual, or that he didn’t know that it involved nudity and displays of stimulated sex acts or whatever. Well, then, why wasn’t he offering to get his very pretty daughter Meghan up on stage? Suggesting a 24-year-old woman participate in a just-a-beauty pageant wouldn’t be so outside the the norm, if he thought it would be just a beauty pageant. But he knew that it wasn’t, and he doesn’t think of his daughter in that way and wouldn’t in a million years as a father suggest or even intimate that his daughter should get on stage and flash her breasts, ass and (potentially) her external genitalia at a group of strange men for admiration, money or votes.

Ok.  That’s plausible, too.

Smell A Rat?

Alice Rocchio lives in Flushing, Queens, a modest blue-collar suburb, with her husband, Pasquale.  She works as an office manager in Manhatten; He’s an Amtrak foreman.

They rent their home.  They drive a 2003 Buick and a 1993 Chevrolet.  The average income for their zip code is $58,069.

Nothing unusual so far, huh?

But what if I told you that the couple contributed $61,600 to the McCain campaign this year, the maximum amount allowable by law?

A little curious, you must admit.  How can a middle class couple afford to contribute that much?

Now what if I told you that neither one of them has contributed to any federal political campaign before… ever?

Okay.  Still a little curious. 

NOW…. what if I told you that Alice Rocchio is an office manager for Hess Corporation and they donated most of that money on June 24, the same day that eight other high-level Hess execs and family members (including CEO John Hess and his wife) each shelled out the same amount at a fundraiser?

Oh, and June 24?  That was a few days after McCain reversed his position on offshore drilling.

Hmmmmm….

Now, there’s nothing wrong with oil executives giving money to the oil-friendly McCain campaign.  But you can’t legally give money to someone else to give to a political campaign as a way to circumvent legal contribution limits.

Anyway, TPM blogger Greg Sargant contacted Mrs. Rocchio, who denies any wrongdoing:

I just reached Ms Rocchio and she insisted adamantly that the contributions were theirs.

"It was my option to give," she told me. "This is my favorite candidate…I fully acknowledge that [the donation] was done by myself personally, my own doing." She added that the same went for her husband.

When I pointed out that the Rocchios’ job titles seemed to jar a bit with the size of their donations, Ms. Rocchio said that no one could guess the real income levels of other people.

"No one knows what someone’s income taxes say," she told me.

Ms. Rocchio declined to say whether the contributions had been bundled by another Hess employee or who bundled them.

Okay.  Stick with that story.  It’s true… we don’t know what the Rocchio income is.  But keep in mind….

A former FEC official said that it’s possible that the Rocchios had the means to make those hefty contributions — their first reported donations to a federal campaign. But the official, who declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter, said that their donations also could trigger a complaint or otherwise catch the eyes of the agency’s enforcement staff, tasked to ensure that companies or wealthy individuals don’t illegally circumvent contribution limits by using employees or other third parties as "conduits” for cash.

My guess?  She got "her" money from her boss with an implicit (wink, wink) understanding that it should be donated.  I think the FEC is going to look into this one…..

*** UPDATE ***  WaPo reports on some other possible fundraising shennanigans by Mr. Campaign Finance Reform

Mostly Male

Likelihood of you being FEMALE is 37%
Likelihood of you being MALE is 63%

That’s me.

It comes from a place on the Internet which reads your browsing history, and determines whether you are a man or a woman. 

Thank God I’ve made a few visits to mlb.com…..

I Think It’s Safe To Say Obama Won The “Tire Gauge” Battle

Obama, yesterday, in Berea, Ohio:

"Let me make a point about efficiency, because my Republican opponents – they don’t like to talk about efficiency…"

"You know the other day I was in a town hall meeting and I laid out my plans for investing $15 billion a year in energy efficient cars and a new electricity grid and somebody said, ‘well, what can I do? what can individuals do?’

"So I told them something simple… I said, ‘You know what? You can inflate your tires to the proper levels and that if everybody in America inflated their tires to the proper level, we would actually probably save more oil than all the oil we’d get from John McCain drilling right below his feet there, or wherever he was going to drill.’

"So now the Republicans are going around – this is the kind of thing they do. I don’t understand it! They’re going around, they’re sending like little tire gauges, making fun of this idea as if this is ‘Barack Obama’s energy plan.’

"Now two points, one, they know they’re lying about what my energy plan is, but the other thing is they’re making fun of a step that every expert says would absolutely reduce our oil consumption by 3 to 4 percent. It’s like these guys take pride in being ignorant.

"You know, they think it is funny that they are making fun of something that is actually true. They need to do their homework. Because this is serious business. Instead of running ads about Paris Hilton and Britney Spears they should go talk to some energy experts and actually make a difference."

(Emphasis mine)

McCain, later yesterday:

The surprise came during a telephone town hall meeting McCain held on Tuesday with voters in Pennsylvania.
   
“Obama said a couple of days ago says we all should inflate our tires. I don’t disagree with that. The American Automobile Association strongly recommends it,” McCain said.

So, to sum up, the McCain campain spent several days mocking Obama for a common-sensical answer to a question about "what we as individuals can do, right now, to help with the energy crisis", and then, after days of mocking Obama, agreed that Obama’s was actually correct and followed the advice of energy experts.

*******

Good analysis from Jonathan Singer:

The McCain campaign appears intent on trying to win the daily media battles — even to the bane of crafting a broader narrative on what their campaign is about, what their candidate stands for, and what type of President he would be. I’ve always thought this to be a risky strategy; as much as the daily ups and downs affect the ultimate outcome, in the end voters decide on the feelings they have on a candidate, which stem not only from the back and forth but even more from events like the debates and the conventions.

But it is a tremendously risky strategy when the meme starts to take hold that a candidate will say anything — even things that he distances himself from just days later — to get elected. We’ve already seen this from McCain, who has changed his position on almost every single major (and even minor) issue facing the country, and whose campaign has been forced to walk back criticisms of Obama (think the visit to the military base in Germany or the claims about Obama’s tax plan that were exposed as wholly false). Now McCain is being forced to back away from yet another claim, again feeding the story line that he will say anything (even claims he must walk back just days later) to become President. And as this meme takes hold, it gets that much more difficult for McCain to claw his way to the White House.

(Emphasis mine).

And indeed, it’s true.  I’ve picked up a new theme in the bowels of the lefty blogosphere: "McCain doesn’t speak for the McCain campaign".  That’s probably true, and should be repeated often.  It seems that McCain’s campaign is dead set on positioning McCain in ridiculous positions, mocking Obama, and then McCain walks back a few days later. 

Maybe this is intentional.  It’s a way of smearing Obama without having McCain smear Obama.  But if that’s the case, it’s not destined to work.  After all, few people are going to distinguish between the McCain campaign and McCain himself, especially when he uses attack ads that end with "I’m John McCain, and I approved this message".  It also is going to raise questions about the kind of leader McCain will make — I mean, if it appears that he cannot control the message being propogated by his campaign staff, then how can he lead a country?

*** UPDATE *** Obama is taking advantage.

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama on Wednesday taunted Republican candidate John McCain for agreeing on the importance of keeping tires inflated as an energy-conservation measure after having joined the GOP in mocking the idea.

“It will be interesting to watch this debate between John McCain and John McCain,” Obama said as he campaigned in Indiana with Sen. Evan Bayh, widely considered a top-tier candidate for running mate.

Mark Your Calendars — Just Released

First presidential debate
Friday, September 26
The University of Mississippi, Oxford, Miss.
Jim Lehrer
Executive Editor and Anchor, The NewsHour, PBS

Vice presidential debate
Thursday, October 2
Washington University in St. Louis, Mo.
Gwen Ifill
Senior Correspondent, The NewsHour, and Moderator and Managing Editor,
Washington Week, PBS

Second presidential debate (town meeting)
Tuesday, October 7
Belmont University, Nashville, Tenn.
Tom Brokaw
Special Correspondent, NBC News

Third presidential debate
Wednesday, October 15
Hofstra University, Hempstead, N.Y.
Bob Schieffer
CBS News Chief Washington Correspondent, and Host, Face the Nation

This Tire Gauge Thing Depresses Me

To summarize, Obama mentioned to voters in Missouri that there are things individuals can do to help conserve energy, including bringing their cars in for regular tune ups, and keeping their tires properly inflated. He added that the amount of energy to be saved by routine auto maintenance is comparable to the savings we’d get from the GOP’s coastal drilling policy.

Unhinged conservatives everywhere, including McCain himself, began to argue that keeping tires inflated was the sum total of Obama’s energy policy.  "Hahahaha, what an idiot!"  they cry.  "Obama thinks we can cure our energy problem and dependance on foreign oil merely by keeping our tires inflated?"

Well, no, morons.  What Obama said isn’t particularly difficult or nuanced.  He said there that keeping tires inflated is one of the many low-cost and easy things that we can, and should, be doing.  To say that it is the sum of his entire energy plan is, of course, insane.

Then, to a lesser extent, some on the right argued that Obama had exaggerated the potential efficiency benefits associated with tire care.  But this more reasoned argument, as it turns out, isn’t true either. Time’s Michael Grunwald sets the record straight.

[W]ho’s really out of touch? The Bush Administration estimates that expanded offshore drilling could increase oil production by 200,000 bbl. per day by 2030. We use about 20 million bbl. per day, so that would meet about 1% of our demand two decades from now. Meanwhile, efficiency experts say that keeping tires inflated can improve gas mileage 3%, and regular maintenance can add another 4%. Many drivers already follow their advice, but if everyone did, we could immediately reduce demand several percentage points. In other words: Obama is right. […]

The real problem with the attacks on his tire-gauge plan is that efforts to improve conservation and efficiency happen to be the best approaches to dealing with the energy crisis — the cheapest, cleanest, quickest and easiest ways to ease our addiction to oil, reduce our pain at the pump and address global warming. It’s a pretty simple concept: if our use of fossil fuels is increasing our reliance on Middle Eastern dictators while destroying the planet, maybe we ought to use less.

The RNC is trying to make the tire gauge a symbol of unseriousness, as if only the fatuous believed we could reduce our dependence on foreign oil without doing the bidding of Big Oil. But the tire gauge is really a symbol of a very serious piece of good news: we can use significantly less energy without significantly changing our lifestyle.

It creates an odd dynamic — conservative Republicans want Americans to believe there’s nothing individuals can do; they should just wait for the government to allow additional coastal drilling.

Grunwald added the right actually has this entire issue backwards.

[T]hings like tire gauges can reduce gas bills and carbon emissions now, with little pain and at little cost and without the ecological problems and oil-addiction problems associated with offshore drilling. These are the proverbial win-win-win solutions, reducing the pain of $100 trips to the gas station by reducing trips to the gas station.

Even if one disagrees with the numbers about keeping well-maintained cars, in the aggregate, will help, is there anyone who doubts that it will help conserve?  Anyone?  And isn’t it just plain irresponsbile for a presidential candidate to mock those ideas in a time of a national energy crisis?

So that’s why the whole tire gauge thing depresses me.  A sound, reasonable comment, which is undeniable gets turned into political fodder and makes countless thousands of Americans actually believe — incorrectly — that there is nothing we as individuals can do to help conserve energy.

Kiss The Girl

I’m still vaguely aware of popular songs on the charts, although typically, I’m not in that demographic anymore.  When I heard of a song called "I Kissed A Girl", sung by a woman (Katy Perry), I knew it was only a matter of time before the moral majority heads would spin.  And now that it is #1 on the Billboard charts, we have a winner.

Okay…. let’s just see what we’re talking about, before we go on…

From the blog of OneNewsNow (the media arm of the National Family Association), columnist Johnnie Moore has some (incoherent) things to say.

HEY!  LET’S MAKE MIDDLE SCHOOL LESBIANS!

by Johnnie Moore

Interesting title.  Nice phraseology.

Billboard Magazine just deemed Katy Perry’s debut single to be the “Song of Summer” after maintaining six straight weeks in the number one slot on their Hot 100’s chart.

What’s interesting is the song is anything, but “straight.”

Explanation of the joke:  See the song spent six straight weeks on the chart, but the song isn’t "straight", because it deals with girls kissing girls.  See, "straight" has multiple meanings.  Hahahaha!  Oh, that Johnnie Moore.  Such verbal wit.  Like Oscar Wilde…. although (presumably) not as gay.

It is, in fact, the next episode in the never-ending media agenda to make homosexual experimentation a kind of adolescent right of passage.

[UPDATE inspired by Bill’s comment:  Yeah, he wrote "right of passage".  Don’t worry.  It gets worse.]

I would like to know what if Johnnie really believes this.  How does this "agenda" come about?  Do people sit a room and plan this?  Do we have a bunch of media moguls, all dressed in feather boas and really nice shoes, sitting around a very stylish conference room table, asking each other, "Dammit!  We’re not doing enough to get teens to become gay!  What can we do?  Come on!  Think outside the box, people!"

To which one impeccably dressed executive named Steve says (in a faux foreign accent): "Why don’t we put a song out there, sung by a woman, about kissing another woman?" 

"No!" chimes in another.  "We’ve got to get the teens.  How about a girl kissing a girl?!?"

And so on….

This time, through lyrics like:
“drink in hand, lost my discretion…just wanna try you…I kissed a girl and I liked it, the taste of her cherry chap stick, I kissed a girl just to try it, I hope my boyfriend don’t mind it, it felt so wrong, it felt so right, Don’t mean I’m in love tonight, I kissed a girl and I liked it…No, I don’t even know your name, it doesn’t matter, You’re my experimental game…”

In a July 23rd Chicago Sun-Times article entitled, “Even Mild Girls go Wild for ‘I Kissed a Girl’” the music director of a Chicago station said, “I think it’s just a fluffy, light novelty pop song that has a slightly edgy lyric.” He also said he’d only received about two complaints about the song. The Sun-Times says this new song is “capitalizing on the casual kissing epidemic sweeping a generation.”

Kissing epidemic?  Oh damn.  I wasn’t even aware.  Shoot, I miss all the good stuff….

In order to get the full picture of the implications of this number one hit you might consider following around an average middle school or high school student this weekend. No doubt, the song will be blaring in every tween or teen store in your local mall, and you’ll most definitely hear its lyrics incoherently sung through the lips of plenty of teenagers.

And when I’m arrested for stalking, I’m sure the police will understand.

"No, you see, officer… I was following that teenage girl around the mall because I wanted to see if she was going to kiss another girl like the song says.  Surely you can understand that.  It was totally innocent, I swear!"

Now, I’m no legalistic.

You’re no grammatical either.

My iTunes library has its share of secular music intermingled among the latest Christian tunes, and Podcasts of every shape and size, but I just can’t handle this one.

I wasn’t aware that Podcasts have shapes.  See, the things you learn from the Christian right….

How long will all these media moguls be allowed to sit around board room tables and make decisions that alter the healthy development of our nation’s kids?

Hey, he does think they sit around boardroom tables and concoct this stuff.

This weekend there will be many thousands of young girls who will “playfully” choose to “kiss a girl to try it” after they are nonchalantly coaxed by this “fluffy” hit.

"And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth."

Seriously, Johnnie.  Get a grip.  The song isn’t about lesbianism.  Nor does it promote it.  It’s merely about a girl kissing a girl to see what it is like.  And I respectfully suggest that if a kiss is enough to make a girl bat for the other team, she probably had those tendancies in the first place.

And by the way, girls kissing girls isn’t exactly new or novel.  I know many grown women, all of them straight, who "practiced" kissing as a teenager with a girlfriend on one occasion.  It happens.  There’s nothing titillating about it; there’s nothing condemnable about it either.

From the California Supreme Court’s decisions regarding marriage, to the skyrocketing popularity of this song, to the nearly non-stop introduction of the homosexual agenda into almost every facet of our culture, we are facing the rise of the most homosexually friendly generation in history.

How Johnnie longs for the good ol’ old days when gay-hating was the norm, and you could lynch people like Matthew Sheppard and nobody cared.

Homosexual experimentation is also an epidemic. This is the fruit of years of marketing that has literally altered the worldviews of our nation’s 80 million millenials.

You gotta sympathize with Johnnie.  Christianity and the moral values folks have engaged in centuries of marketing, and then along comes this upstart "gay agenda" with its cleverly placed GAP ads and #1 songs, totally undoing everything Christianity set out to do, and making girls kiss other girls.

Oh, by the way, Katy Perry’s real name is Katy Hudson. You might remember her from the 2001 album bearing her name on Red Hill records; it was a Christian album.

True.  And both her parents are preachers, too.  But still, they were no match for those evil media executives and their devious scheme to turn innocent god-fearing Katy Hudson into girl-kissing harlot Katy Perry.  NOW just look at her…

Katyperry2

The vixon.

I have half a mind to follow her around the mall….

** BONUS **  Prediction of the decade, from ChristianMusic.com, on Katy Hudson’s debut album:

Katy Hudson’s debut easily could have been just another teen songwriter mimicking mainstream music trends with Christian lyrics. Instead, I hear a remarkable young talent emerging, a gifted songwriter in her own right who will almost certainly go far in this business. That name again is Katy Hudson. Trust me, you’ll be hearing it more and more in the next year.

Well, yeah….

The Seventh Sense Recommends…

NYC THEATRE

Boeing, Boeing

This farcical comedy was a real surprise for me.

Written by French playwright Marc Camoletti in 1958, the play never did well in the United States until its recent Broadway revival.  It is the most-performed French play throughout the world.  After taking Paris by storm in 1958, it was translated into English in 1963 and played in the West End for seven years.  But when it originally moved to Broadway in 1965, it closed after only 23 performances.

It then was made into a really bad Tony Curtis-Jerry Lewis movie.

So nobody wanted to touch it here in America until its most recent revival.

The plot is wildly 1960’s.  Bernard (played by Bradley Whitford of The West Wing), a successful architect in Paris, is a playboy of immense proportions.  He juggles three air-hostess fiancées: an American (Gloria — played by Katherine Hahn), and Italian (Gabriella – played by Gina Gershon) and a German (Gretchen — played by Mary McCormack of The West Wing).

Bernard tracks their airlines’ timetables so that no two fiancees will never be in town at the same time, and his long-suffering housekeeper, Bertha (played by Christine Baranski, most recently known for her role in the film version of Mamma Mia!), reluctantly resets the menus and bedroom decor depending on the arrivals and departures.

Bernard has been successful at convincing each girl that she is the only one. Bernard’s old school friend Robert (played by Mark Rylance) arrives unexpectedly, and Bernard proudly explains to his wide-eyed visitor how he makes his busy romantic schedule run smoothly. He also has a fallback plan for keeping his fiancées separate, involving his country house. Unfortunately for Bernard, a new, faster Boeing jet has been introduced, changing the timetable. Weather delays occur, and complications arise when the girls’ behavior does not match Bernard’s careful planning.

If this sounds very much like the plot for Don’t Dress For Dinner, don’t be surprised.  Don’t Dress is by the same author, although it didn’t enjoy as much international success as Boeing Boeing.

Robert steps in to help Bernard by keeping one or more of the girls busy as they arrive ahead of (or behind) schedule. It becomes more and more difficult for Bernard, Bertha and Robert to keep the girls separate once they all arrive, and the lies told become more and more difficult to reconcile.

The performances were outstanding, especially that of Mark Rylance as Robert.  Rylance’s Robert enters the play in a bewildered state — a cross between Emo Philips and Bob Newhart — so when the farce gets underway, he’s totally helpless.  Rylance deservedly took the Tony this year for Best Actor In A Revival.

The three fiancees are, in their own unique way, all deliciously over-the-top, but Mary McCormack probably is the most engaging.  A tall woman, that Mary, and she uses every inch of her imposing body, as well as a ridiculously heavy German accent, to command the stage and everybody on it.  When the shy withdrawn Robert tries to seduce her, it is pure comic gold, especially when he succeeds.  (McCormack was also nominated, but didn’t win, a Tony).

This is not a subtle comedy.  It is for broad acting, without the slightest bit of nuance or shading.  But it is hysterically funny and deserving of its Tony for Best Revival.  My personal theatre experience was heightened by the fact that I sat next to Nathan Lane (at least for the first act; he switched with his friend for Act Two).  Nathan didn’t laugh much.

Also recommended:  Well, you probably don’t need me to tell you about Jersey Boys at this juncture.  If you love, or merely even like, the music, you’ll love this show.  Explosive.  But the musical to see is In The Heights, which is being compared to a contemporary West Side Story.  It doesn’t have the graivitas of that musical classic, but it has an inner-city atmosphere which just penetrates inside you and warms you up top to bottom.  GREAT dancing and fantastic music.

Not so much recommended:  Fans of the movie Dog Day Afternoon might enjoy the stage adaptation of Dog Day Afternoon which (rumor has it) is extending its run to an off-Broadway theatre.  I know I did.  Sadly, the stage version is close enough to the movie versioj so that it invites comparison.  And seriously, how can anything compare to Pacino?  Also with no intermission and hard seats, it makes for a difficult sitting.

DOCUMENTARIES

(1)  MAN ON WIRE

200pxman_on_wire_ver2A documentary that chronicles the 1974 high-wire walk of Phillipe Petit between the Twin Towers of New York’s World Trade Center, as recalled by the participants.

Petit is engaging and energetic, as he was some 34 years ago, and his "partners in crime" also discuss the caper.  It was planned and rehearsed just like a bank robbery, which was the appeal back then.

Even if you are familiar with the story, you will probably learn some things, including how they did it.  The film wisely does not make any mention of what would happen to the Twin Towers several years later (presumably, the audience already knows, which makes it that much more interesting).  The 8mm film of the events, as well as the historical recreations, bring a sense of drama and excitement to the entire picture.

(2)  My Kid Could Paint That

A really interesting documentary, now out on DVD, telling the story and controversy sourrounding Marla Olmstead, a young girl from Binghamton, NY, who gained fame as a painting prodigy.

BildeThe documentary is fascinating on many levels.  For one thing, it makes the viewer question "What is art?"  Like many people, I look at many abstract painting — stuff like Jackson Pollack where he just splatters paint on a canvas — and I see those paintings sell for millions, and I get the sense that there is a real SCAM going on.

Then along comes Marla Olmstead doing basically the same thing at the age of four, and her paintings are selling for tens of thousands of dollars, and you kind of wonder: "Uh….gee… my kid could do that."

On the other hand, when you look at some of her paintings, you are struck by something.  They do evoke feelings, which is what art (I suppose) should do.

Interestingly, the people filming the documentary originally thought they were making a film about a child prodigy, but, during the course of their filming, controversy struck.  We watch them as they view an airing of 60 Minutes II, one of the many media outlets covering Marla.  But this 60 Minutes story isn’t a puff piece — it suggests that someone may have "helped" Marla with her art, either by telling her what to do, or touching it up.

Suddenly, the documentary film maker was in a dilemna.  He never really had footage of Marla completing a painting from beginning to end.  He also has some troubling footage suggesting that maybe Marla had indeed been getting "suggestions" from her father (an amateur painter).  And now there was friction between the filmmaker and the subject of his film.

Marla’s parents sought to quell the controversy by creating a DVD showing Marla creating one of her latest works called "Ocean", start to finish.  This, they were convinced, would put the controversy to rest.  The problem is, "Ocean" is, by comparison to Marla’s other works, pretty trite and childish.  (Of course, "art" is subjective, but *I* certainly wasn’t impressed with "Ocean", neither were the filmmakers, and neither was the art dealer who eventually bought it, complaining that "Ocean" simply doesn’t look lilke Marla’s other works).

Toward the end, the documentary gets very meta, as the filmmaker himself begins to question his art. 

How does the film resolve itself?  Roger Ebert wrote:

Is the little girl the star of a hoax by her family? Amir Bar-Lev, the maker of this film, says he doesn’t know, and the film has an open ending. He grew quite close to the Olmsteads, and at times worried that he was betraying their confidence. My own verdict as an outsider is, no, Marla didn’t paint those works, although she may have applied some of the paint.

But watch for yourself.  It’s a film that asks many interesting questions on many levels — not just about the originator of the "Marla" paintings, but the role of the media in creating (and then destroying) celebrities, and the nature of art itself when it collides with business.  Plus, it’s about an adorable four year girl.