Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Missing the ball

It seems that, at least once a week, we're gift-wrapped yet another instance of lying, or at least hypocricy, from our administration. The most recent one of course revolves around recently departed Treasury Sec'y John Snow, and whether or not "curious" George knew that he was going to be leaving in advance. Now, on May 25, GDub was part of a joint press conference with PM Blair, wherein he said the following words;

No, he has not talked to me about resignation. I think he's doing a fine job. After all, our economy is -- it's strong. We grew at 3.5 percent last year; a good, strong first quarter this year. We added five -- 2.5 million new jobs, we've got 4.7 percent unemployment rate nationwide. Productivity is up, home ownership is high, small businesses are doing well. He's done a fine job.

Well, now, from that we can see that GDub knew nothing about John Snow stepping down. But let's, for just a second, look at what Press Sec'y Tony Snow(job) said during a press briefing on the 30th of May;

Yes. The tick tock is the two of them met on the 20th of May and there was a conversation. And Hank Paulson accepted the job a day later.

Um, wait a minute. Isn't it supposed to be the Press Secretary's job to cover the collective ass of the administration when they're choking on their own loafers? And didn't Tony just, instead of throwing more lies and deceit on top of the issue, inadvertently out the President as a liar? But, as it turns out, it's all okay. The only reason that GDub "misled" the public in the first place was because he was concerned how the announcement would affect the markets.

Maybe they should've looked into how yet another piece of deceit would affect the market, since there's generally at least a little reflection of public sentiment involved in how the market fares.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

It's in the genes

Another day, another shotgun approach to finding things to focus my eyes and verbal assaults on.

First up, the news that DC Comics is bringing back one of their very old characters, the Batwoman. And they're recasting her in a new light. That light being, of course, of the attractive lesbian who "moonlights" as a crime-fighter. I know that comics readers are getting older, and that there needs to be new ways to open audiences, but is it really the best plan to convert a superhero that not too many people paid attention to (point of fact, the character hadn't been seen since 1979) into a potentially conflict-charged vehicle? To make things even weirder for the comic, it's going to be set in a world where DC mainstays aren't playing a key role. What's next, a "Batwoman" movie, starring Portia de Rossi?

Next up, it looks like the CIA is a bit upset with Mr. Kiefer Sutherland. Because he gets things done too fast. C'mon, folks. 24 is a television show. Things have to get done fast, so as to keep anything resembling a viewer base. If the show was based at all on actual CIA operatives, it might need to be called something like 2,400... and that would lead to grumpy viewers, especially in the realtime format.

Finally, scientists have started to discover why some people have more voracious sex drives than others. It appears to be tied into our genetic structure. Apparently varients in one of the receptor genes leads to differences in sexual drive, arousal, and function. Looking towards the future, perhaps this can lead to people deciding what gender they want their child to be, if they want to eliminate genetic diseases, and whether or not they should turn their precious baby into a nymphomaniac.

Of course, this could all lead to next season on 24, as Elisha Cuthbert shows up on camera, having an affair with Anne Heche, due to the fact that her D4 receptor is fairly active. And then we can all have a good cry over the world that makes these things news in the first place.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Something to play with

Hasbro recently announced that a proposed line of toys has been pulled from all thoughts of production. The toy giant has decided that maybe it's not really in the best interests of the company to release a line of toys based on The Pussycat Dolls. Something about the pop group "catering to a more mature audience."

Let's think about this for a second. The Pussycat Dolls, catering to an older crowd? Wow. Who would've thought for a second that a group of all-female popstars, which used to be a burlesque revue group, wouldn't be geared towards our highly impressionable young girls? Nevermind that they're plastered all over MTV, and their CD keeps flying off store shelves, with a lot of those discs quite possibly being bought by these same young girls, or at least by parents of these girls. As long as they continue to just make music, and sexually provocative videos, they're fine. But heaven forbid that a doll gets made out of them. And let's not even focus on the concept of the Bratz dolls, which are "original" creations that happen to resemble a lot of the characteristics that the Pussycats put forward.

Now, let's take a moment to analyze the phrase "more mature audience". Who are the Pussycat Dolls really marketed towards? That ever-so-hard-to-please group known as the 15-30 year old male. And I, for one, can't think of too many audiences that are LESS mature overall than that particular demographic.

So cheers, Hasbro. Congratulations for realizing that ex-burlesque stars probably shouldn't be toys. Now can we work on getting some toys that simply don't suck?

In random, quick-shot creepy news... Michael Jackson is going to be traveling/touring. And part of his itinerary features stops at orphanages. Possibly the worst idea he's had since going white....

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Poor Tom

Tom DeLay can't even tell what's satire anymore, and he obviously has no clue as to who exactly is on his side. Maybe he's trying to drum up supporters for this legal defense fund, which is, of course, an attempt to get other folks to pay his legal expenses for him. After all, regardless of whatever evidence may be surrounding him concerning the money-laundering and gerrymandering, it was really just a liberal attack against him. And a "highly partisan attack" is what DeLay is calling a new documentary produced by Robert Greenwald.

See, this new documentary, entitled "The Big Buy", is pretty much looking into what DeLay did to "assist" Republicans running for office in 2002. While it actually makes sense that DeLay would want to fire a volley back against the people who put this film together, maybe he should look a little more deeply into the ways he chooses to fight back. Just take a look at this...

I mean, seriously. Are the DeLay people so out of touch that they don't realize that Colbert is being satirical, even while conducting a pretty fair interview? Have they forgotten the press dinner where Colbert skewered the administration, the press, and anyone else who crossed his lens? And yes, there are people pointing out that Colbert did get some answers the GOP might like, and others are postulating that maybe the site was hacked, or was a fake. Although doing some digging on it, if it's a fake, it's a damned good one, and one that has an active link for making a donation to the fund.

Maybe it's just a sign that Colbert is doing far too good of a job creating a satirical version of people like Bill O'Reilly, so good in fact that the Neocons are unable to spot the ginormous wolf hiding amongst them, ready with wit and comedy.

DeLay: Betcha can't commit just one.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Get out the vote

Another day, another sampling of stories...

First on the docket for today is the recent news that Arizona is considering offering up a $1M prize. For what, you ask? Why, for voting. In one of the most bizarre attempts to get people to get off their collective behinds and into the polling booths, the state of Arizona is seriously considering offering the prize to one randomly chosen voter, with money coming from a pool of unclaimed lottery winnings. Almost makes you wonder if there will be other prizes offered as well, ranging from a new car all the way down Rice-a-Roni, the San Fransisco treat. Heck, why not offer to all the candidates who lose the races a free copy of the home game?

Second up, and still touching on voting issues, is the notion that Fran Drescher, she of the horrible screeching voice and ginormous hair, announced her hopes to run for public office in New York to Howard Stern. Nevermind the number of dogs that will immediately cringe anytime her campaign commercials come on, or the fact that hearing aids across the Capitol could be blown out by her nasally delivery, she still has a desire to seek either a Senate or House seat. At least there would be no concerns about her carpetbagging into NY to run, unlike some others. Besides, the campaign literature practically writes itself. "Fran promises that, if she doesn't get elected, she'll visit each and every person in the state for dinner." This could be a landslide, folks.

Finally, and this has nothing to do with voting, the hosts of The View are all sorts of pissed-off at the Dixie Chicks. Something about the Chicks deciding that they want to pursue "high-caliber, meaningful gigs", which The View is decidedly not. Of course, the banshees that host The View, are up in arms, declaring that they made the Chicks what they are today, and that the band didn't seem to have problems back in 1998. Nevermind that in the past 8 years, the Chicks have put together one heck of an impressive following (even some cross-over fans), lambasted the Bush administration, and decided to remain political with their newest CD with songs like "Not Ready to Make Nice". Yeah, they're perfect for The View. Maybe the Chicks are just worried that Rosie could do something vile to them during a commercial break. Like talk about Tom Cruise.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Fair, balanced, and soft

Just this past weekend, FOXNews had an interview between Chris Wallace and Sec'y of State Condeleeza Rice. And, in traditional fashion, the network decided to end the interview with some very hard-hitting questions. Well, not questions, so much as asking Sec'y Rice to play "Name That Tune", apparently using her own iPod to draw the source material from. To make matters worse, she was then grilled about who the members of Cream were.

Now, don't get me wrong. It's nice to see our talking heads out there reduced to the status of mere mortals. But there is a time and a place for that. While it certainly appears that the place for the current administration is in the FOXNews hotseat, the time is definitely not in the middle of some serious scandals, an unpopular war, and trying to find that one little country out in the world that won't instinctively pack up their house and move without giving us a forwarding address. Journalists are supposed to get answers to serious questions in serious time, not play a round of verbal patty-cake with them. And yet this is exactly what FOXNews and Chris Wallace did.

What's next? Are we going to see VeeP Cheney asked about his favorite films? Will Rick Santorum discuss which magazines he reads? How about getting Karl Rove to discuss the fall television line-up? While we're at it, we can get GDub to describe his favorite cartoons.

Whoa. That last one might be a little too hard hitting. Maybe GDub should just describe his favorite coloring book. If that's still too much, he can always just break it down to which crayon he thinks is the prettiest.

While we're at it, let's get entertainers to talk about foreign policy, and legislative issues. The trend is already going that direction... let's just tilt it completely over the edge. Who doesn't want to see a Campbell/Raimi '08 bumpersticker?

Monday, May 22, 2006

Pulling hair

Sometimes, there's just a story that's too good to pass up. As of late, a lot of those stories have been directed in some way towards our government, be it the bribery scandals, or the administration, or the new Snow-job moving into the Press Sec'y position.

And sometimes, it's what has to be one of the sissiest fights ever.

Apparently, at Rosario Dawson's recent birthday shindig, she invited some luminaries (of course she did... she's a celebrity, and we all know celebrities don't hang around normal people). The gathering featured rock stars, has-beens, and fashion designers.

And, in what was quite possibly the highlight of the evening, Tommy Hilfiger and W. Axl Rose got into a fight after W moved Tommy's drink. By all accounts, Hilfiger proceeded to land a number of punches square to Axl's head, including one just under his eye, and was eventually hauled away by his own security.

That's right, folks. A "rock star" got beat up by a fashion designer. Over a drink. This may actually have found a way to surpass Tonya Harding's "boxing" premiere as being the most ridiculous celebrity fight ever. Especially when you learn that Lenny Kravitz (himself no stranger to bizarre instances) sided with Hilfiger, and that Kid Rock (himself no stranger to getting the snot kicked out of him) sided with Rose.

This whole thing has the makings of a VH1/Bravo joint production... "Where Are the Queer Eyes Now?" Either that, or put it on FOX for "When Fashion Designers Attack..."

Friday, May 19, 2006

(No) Vacancy

Looks like the American government has decided to make things even more difficult on immigrants with some recent declarations and legislation. This is, of course, bringing people out of the woodwork, decrying recent activities as being "racist and un-American", and forcing people to trot out the tired old "nation of immigrants" rhetoric. Of course, the big thing that these detracters seem to not focus on is that a lot of the recent government activities have been attempts to curtail illegal immigration, and doesn't have as much to do with the legal immigrants.

Let me just go on the record quick to point out that I have absolutely no problems with people coming to America to study or live, provided that they actually do it legally, and make an effort to contribute to and join in the society. It's when people try to subvert the laws, or when they adamantly refuse to become "Americans" that I have issues. They want the national identity, but not the cultural identity.

That being said, let's look at some of the things recently done. First off, the movement of troops to the border. Not necessarily the best usage of our military force, but it may actually shore up the leaking damn that we call the Rio Grande. That, doubled with the new fencing proposals, could bring illegal immigration down severely. Not only could this bring our troops some potential conflict-management experience (necessary under our current war-mongering), but it would free up some of the law enforcement officials who are spending so much of their time chasing down and prosecuting folks who come (and stay) in our borders illegally. So this little push, for a more militaristic border, might not be all that bad of an idea. Besides, it's not like the world can hate us more than they already do. Sure, it might be better to try and find ways to improve global economic and health conditions, thereby prompting more people to stay in their home countries, but we all know that with The Decider in office, there's no way we'll try that.

There's also the capping of the number of guest-worker visas down to 200,000. This could be a good idea, as employers would be forced to rely more on American workers to fill the positions that were previously filled by foreign employees. This could also lead to a huge backlash, with either a tremendous drop in productivity (due to Americans being unwilling or unable to perform the jobs), or the companies packing up their toys and taking it overseas, where they can get lower overhead costs on what they produce, all the while charging more for their goods due to the increased cost for shipping. So yeah, this particular bit could bite the USoA in the ass.

And the most recent piece to come filtering down to the huddled masses from the Senate? America now has a "national language". While not as strong of a declaration as proclaiming English the official language, naming it the national one is a step in that direction. This also means that English is now (theoretically, at least) going to be promoted, and a good knowledge of the language will be required for citizenship tests. Overall, I can honestly say that this is the one piece that I firmly agree with. After all, if you travel to Germany, and try and work and live within the German state, you're going to have to learn how to speak German just to survive. They won't cater to you and make sure that they speak English when you're around so you can know what's going on. And yet, this is exactly what we here in the States have been doing for a variety of different languages (Spanish is the most obvious one, but there are others). The inception of a national language for the United States means, in some ways, that we've started to actually mature as a nation, and are forming our own identity, as opposed to being a complete and total melting pot of whoever happens to stroll by and set up a business on Main Street.

Although, maybe we should get someone to rewrite the message on the Statue of Liberty... "Give me your tired, your poor, your employable masses who already speak our language. But do it legally, or we'll shoot."

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Triple play

Whether or not it's coming from the candidate directly, or coming from another source, you've got to agree that this is pretty disgusting:

This is coming from a race for a State Assembly position in California. I know that I'm always more prone to vote for someone when part of the literature surrounding their campaign is "Vote of me, because the other guy's about to die."

Moving on from disgusting to bizarre. Pat Robertson, that lovable old kook, has just come out and said that God has given him some new insights as to disasters coming up in the future. Apparently, we can expect severe storms hitting the coastlines, if God's message to Robertson can be believed. There's also the threat that "there well may be something as bad as a tsunami in the Pacific Northwest." This from the same guy who called for an assassination, and then proceeded to deny it a short time later. And people across the country look to him as a beacon of religious light.

Finally, in light of things religious, "The DaVinci Code" movie, starring Tom Hanks, Ian McKellan, and Audrey Tautou is facing its share of troubles. Not only are critics panning it, but a number of cities are banning it, with other locations being threatened by various and sundry religious groups, citing the potential confusion between "fact" and "fiction" as being blasphemous. Let's see... movie based on a novel, which is itself a work of fiction, and carries messages (in a fictional way) that the church may not be happy with. Take out the novel portion and you find yourself with a list of other films that the Church and associated groups had problems with. A quick rundown of a few of them:

- "Last Temptation of Christ"; There were problems because Jesus was portrayed as having carnal desires. Wait a minute... wasn't the whole point of the film that it was portraying what Satan may have shown Jesus during his final moments on the cross? And didn't the film also show Jesus coming out and denying Satan? Should seem to me like the Church might want to support Jesus triumphing over Big Evil.

- "Stigmata"; Aside from the fact that this really isn't the greatest of films (it ties into a few too many different genres without settling strongly into one), the biggest controversy around this film seems to have been the references to the Gospel of St. Thomas. You know, worship wherever you want, because the Lord will alway be there. Given that the Church needs people to worship in specific locations, I can see how they might've been peeved. Bigger question. Why would any message of religious importance decide to channel itself through a member of Clan Arquette?

- "Dogma"; A comical look at things, and one of the biggest complaints was that Jesus was portrayed as having had brothers and sisters. Written by a former altar boy, if he can't have a sense of humor over it, then who can? Biggest sin this film committed? Forcing us to watch Affleck and Damon in another buddy pic, even if they were buddies as avenging angels.

In light of all that, maybe the biggest sin that "The DaVinci Code" is guilty of is being your typical Ron Howard film... overblown, talky, and ultimately boring. Not that I've seen it. Just going by word of mouth, like so many of the protesters out there. And the vehemence used by these people attacking the film is fairly disgusting.

And with that, we've come full circle.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

I bet you

This one comes from close to home.

As reported in the Pioneer Press, a 72-year old Minneapolis woman named Estelle Busch has just pulled the wool completely over the eyes of the state Supreme Court.

Basically, she convinced them that playing slot machines is her job, and that she should be allowed to deduct her gambling losses as expenses on her taxes. She was appealing the state of Minnesota having audited her tax returns and demanding over $100,000 in back taxes. The woman claimed that she had researched slot machines to find out the best way to "improve her skill", and then she tried applying that skill, while she also "kept detailed, businesslike records of her winnings and losings."

While I understand that there is a law on the books that says that taxpayers may claim an itemized deduction for gambling losses up to a certain point, I can't fathom how someone could go so far as to claim that gambling was a full-time job, let alone one that allowed her to sneak out of six-figures of back taxes. Especially given that, to my understanding, this woman won $1.5M while losing $1.7M over three years... that kind of scratch generally results with someone needing to pay the Individual Alternative Minimum Tax, which then makes them mostly exempt from that deductable for gambling losses.

So she played the slots for over 60 hours per week. And instead of being treated as someone with a potential gambling addiction, she was rewarded with being told that she basically had free non-tax money.

Makes me think I should quit my job and start "working" out at Canterbury's card club. After all, there's already a legal precedent to allow me to skimp on my taxes if I lose too much money.

...not as we do

Just a couple of weeks back, the US House of Representatives passed a bill that would require all lawmakers to attach their names to any pet projects, as opposed to leaving them anonymous. This is partially due to the recent scandals that have sprung up with regards to appropriations and potential bribery.

So why is it that, even after this bill was passed, there are still plenty of anonymous pet projects being pushed through the system?

Sure, there are some legislators that will admit to the projects right away, and others that will even go so far as to brag about what they've gotten earmarked (Martin Sabo of Minnesota is one of those... good to see a local boy follow the bill he helped pass), many others are preferring to leave their names off, and trying to come up with justification as to why.

The big question has got to be just that. "Why?" Why are they are allowed to continue anonymously getting these through? Why aren't they adhering to their own bills? One possible reason why they're pushing these pet projects through now is due to a legal loophole... the bill has passed, but it hasn't been signed into law yet. Therefore, while they may be violating en ethical stance, they certainly aren't breaking any laws. And, unfortunately, far too many legislators are willing to abandon anything resembling ethics just so long as they aren't going to spend time in prison.

Another belief is that, by admitting to who "owns" the pet projects, they will be brought to a halt, and that there will be a backlash towards the legislators who have their name appear more frequently than others. Our politicians are afraid of favoritism being shown towards any of them, which, while somewhat understandable, is rather deplorable. After all, shouldn't they be working together to improve the status of all, as opposed to only working to better certain areas that happen to be favored at that point? And shouldn't they be willing to take something of a backseat if a different legislator has more need for whichever pet project is being pushed at the time?

Or is this a case where, much like the Pres himself, a law doesn't mean anything if the people who signed it don't want it to apply to them?

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Not even one day of rain

The world has been turned completely topsy-turvy.

We've got politicos (KRove, to be specific) announcing that, while GDub's approval may be low, he still has likability on his side. We've got BellSouth refuting claims that they turned over phone records to the NSA like doctors giving lollipops to recently immunized children. We've got CNN being cued to air a speech early, and getting the blame for making the Pres look bad. And, in New York, we've got Julia Roberts getting snubbed for a Tony nomination.

Wait a minute. That last thing actually makes pretty darned good sense. After getting ripped apart by critics for her turn in "Three Days of Rain", it's nice to see that finally SOMEWHERE people realize exactly what type of a hack Ms. Roberts is. She's made a career out of playing herself on screen, and proceeded to beat us over the head with this fact in Ocean's Twelve. And yet, when she tried her hand on the stage, something other silver screeners have done successfully (think Hugh Jackman in Boy from Oz, Matthew Broderick in How to Succeed..., pretty much the entire cast of Spamalot), just about the best compliment she was able to get was that she appeared on stage.

And yet, there is already a bit of a clamor over the fact that she's been passed over for a Tony nomination. Not that she really deserved one, but that the field was so poor overall, that she might just sneak in. To make it worse, it seems like the biggest reason thrown around to give her a nomination was to try and get her to take part in the hosting of the festivities.

So thank goodness that the Tony voters won't have to make the difficult choice between Julia Roberts, who's always been below subpar as an actress, or anyone else that actually got nominated in the category. Maybe it will finally get her completely off of my television, too.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Do as we say...

In further weirdness surrounding the upcoming elections, large numbers of conservative Christians, including Dr. James C. Dobson, are coming out of the woodwork to throw their support behind...

Um, nobody, really.

Citing an overall failure by the GOP to carry out their stance on things running from gay marriage to stem-cell research, conservative Christian groups are now saying that, if the Republicans don't get in line and make these issues a priority, they will pull their backing from the upcoming elections. If they follow through and take their voting numbers away from the GOP, it could easily open the door for the Democrats to take control of both houses of Congress, a scenario that some pundits already see as being likely. This would also mean that the C.C.'s would have even less support in the higher levels of government to push their agendas.

This may seem to fly directly in the face of smart politics, but it has worked in the past. Truth be told, the C.C.'s regularly stump around in the months prior to an election, and denounce the Republican party for not sticking to their (and by their I mean the C.C., not the GOP) guns strongly enough in the past term, and threaten to pull their support. And what happens, more often than not?

Well, the members of the GOP who may be more moderate in their own views but know that they've got a tough election ahead of them may actually bow down to the C.C. stance, and make claims that they will push to outlaw gay marriage, and that they'll make sure that abortion is treated in as harsh of a light as first degree homicide. Then, when they actually get elected, they find that they are lightening their views, in order to get pet projects off the ground, and to keep their seats until the next time that Dobson and crew rail against them.

This is an unfortunate fact of political life, as sure of a cycle as spring following winter. The worst part about this is that everyone who's actually part of the cycle knows what the final result is going to be.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Telephones and phonies

Good to know that, in light of the quite-possibly-illegal spying going on in the good ol' USofA, as part of the highly questionable intelligence program, we can always count on telephone service providers to help out, and look out for privacy and security. Just as long as you don't get service from Verizon, BellSouth, or AT&T, because they handed over information at the governments request faster than you can dial into your voice mail. Qwest is currently the only company to come forward and say that they actually stood up for their subscriber's privacy, and refused to turn over the records. Of course, this is during a time where the new appointee for the position vacated by Porter Goss has proven that he doesn't know the 4th Amendment as well as he should.

And, oh, James Frey, have you learned nothing from your own case? As it turns out, the man who finally (after being hyped on Oprah) admitted that his book "A Million Little Pieces" was largely a work of fiction has now been forced to out himself again, in the paperback release of "My Friend Leonard". Yep. Once again, things he claimed to be true were merely the workings of his mind to create a better story. Is there an actual crime here? In my opinion, no, there's not. Sure, he misrepresented his books as being fairly autobiographical, but it's still his own writing, is it not? And he is admitting that the stories aren't completely true. It's not like he's a Harvard student getting paid a ton of cash to pull passages and characters from other author's works and claim them as his own. Heck, if Oprah hadn't pumped his book without getting the full facts, this wouldn't even be much of a blog-worthy piece.

Finally, a school teacher in Florida is getting into some hot water over pictures of her that have been circulating on the internet. First off, she's 25. Secondly, the pictures were taken a couple of years back (by all accounts) when she was doing some bikini and lingerie modelling to get money together. Thirdly, it's not like she's banging her students or anything. She had some sexy photos taken of her, and these were put up on a website. These pictures have proceeded to circulate for a couple of years, during which time nobody became any the wiser. Time passes, she starts teaching, and, eventually, a couple of students surfing the net run across the pictures. There are apparently talks that she may end up losing her job over this. Come on, people... so she took some sexy photos, and had thousands of men drooling over them. If there were more teachers like that, students may actually find themselves more inclined to actually go to class, and might even pay attention.

Not that it matters. She's moving on to become a bikini-modelling real estate agent. Probably without the bikini, though.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

A is for Apple

In a world where Ann Coulter may be facing prison time (please please please), where monkeys have been found to enjoy a little alcohol after a hard day (nature vs nurture?), and where Oprah Winfrey is being lumped together with Mother Teresa (I don't remember M.T. giving away cars, although she probably would have had as much patience with Cruise-azy), do we really need a 24-hour cable channel targeted directly at babies?

This is, of course, coming hot on the heels of spirited debates as to whether or not DVDs such as the Baby Einstein series are more positive than negative during those first couple of years out of the womb. DirectTV will be carrying BabyFirstTV as of Thursday, and cable providers will be getting it down the road. While proponents of BFTV are pointing out that infants are already watching television, opponents are just as quick to point out that the television set has become a surrogate parent in far too many households as is, and that having a channel devoted to newborns is merely going to intensify this.

Let's face it. We're a nation that has been suckled on the teats of NBC, ABC, and the rest of their cronies. Given that numerous parents are being forced to work extra hours to be able to simply provide for their families, the number of children that are latch-key at best is going to keep increasing. If BFTV can actually achieve it's aim of being educational, and not just tripe like some of the other children's programming of the last decade, then it could actually have a positive impact. We are a visual society, and we learn things by watching. While television may not be the best for teaching infants when compared to quality time with their parents, it may prove to be a decent substitute.

And, with the news stories mentioned above, and the fact that millions still tune in to shows like "Survivor", "America's Next Top Model", and "American Idol", maybe we could all benefit from a little educational programming. Let's just hope that FOXNews Jr. is still a long way off.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Keep it in the family

So GDub has made it known that he's such a great decider, he's decided who he thinks would be a good President.

Our Grand Poobah's belief? Let's give it up for Jeb Bush.

Really, this has to come as no surprise to pretty much anyone. After all, it's been well-documented how the two Bush boys get along with each other, and, with a career as a politician, it's not like Jeb is really suited to working in the private sector. Nevermind that the backlash against the Bush name is almost strong enough for people to rewrite history to demonize the FIRST Bush presidency. It also helps that Jeb is finishing his final term as governor of Florida, due to term limits, and therefore is open and searching for something new to occupy his time.

Possibly the scariest thing of all is that, even though it would be basically confirming the Presidential dynasty, and keeping the status quo relatively even, Jeb could actually end up being a relatively decent Chief, and easily the best Bush to rest his boots in the Oval Office (if you ignore GDub's daughters, who really only have looks on their side). Why am I already willing to surmise such things?

Jeb has stated in the past that he doesn't want the Presidency.

Seems I heard somewhere a while back that the folks you want to vote for are the one's who aren't crazy enough to run.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Bits and pieces

Just going to take a little time to touch on a few topics. A little too much recent news for me to be scathing in just one direction.

First off, the whole Gen. Hayden thing. If nothing else, this entire situation is proving just how out of touch GDub truly is, even with his own party. The vast majority of politicos that have weighed in on the subject are firmly opposed to Hayden taking the CIA position left vacant by Porter Goss, and, just recently, even House Speaker Dennis Hastert is against the appointment. This could just be a political move by Hastert, who's allying himself with House Intelligence Committe Chair Peter Hoekstra, or it could be a sign that, with his approval sitting at around 30%, nobody's giving GDub and his positions the time of day anymore. One of the biggest shocks in this entire thing has to be that there's finally a bipartisan stance being taken on something, as opposed to the elephants standing firmly behind the big bull, while the donkeys try and topple the tower.

Secondly, the whole David Blaine thing. He submerges himself in water for a week, then tries (unsuccessfully, thank goodness) to set a new world's record for holding his breath underwater while performing an escape trick. I'm willing to bet that a good portion of the people who tuned in to watch the end of the charade last night on ABC were doing so hoping that they'd see a much more severe ending than they got. It does make you wonder why this man keeps thinking that these are good ideas. It makes me wonder why he hasn't been locked up for being clinically insane... after all, he's practically tried to kill himself multiple times, and generally gets television cameras to cover his near-death experience. Oh, and he likens himself to the great Harry Houdini. Um, Mr. Blaine? Houdini was fairly well-respected during his lifetime, and people didn't tend to think that his escape acts were the publicity stunts of a self-aggrandizing ass.

Finally, the whole virginity pledge thing. Is it any shock that over half of the teens (and younger) who make this pledge do not actually uphold it and repeat the pledge the following year? Or that almost three quarters of those that take it initially and then admit to having had sex deny ever making the pledge in the first place? Wait... is it still surprising to anyone that teenagers are having sex? Come on. We live in a sexually charged world; a world where the human body is constantly being thrown out on display, and where sex is (relatively) socially acceptable, just as long as it's between a man and a woman. Teenagers, who are in the middle of one of the most hormonal periods of life, and are still learning things about their own bodies and the bodies of their peers, will always feel incredible pressure to get themselves a little nookie. This is pretty much a fact of life, and will remain one as long as humans drag themselves around the planet. Sex has become a more open topic of conversation, and the taboo factor has definitely gotten pushed aside. And, while abstinence is a good thing, and should be praised, it's not for everybody. This is exactly why there needs to be more education on the subject. Instead of preaching abstinence and hiding under the covers when the subject of contraception is mentioned, let's get out there and teach these kids everything we possibly can. Teach them about maintaining their virginity, but teach them about pills, and condoms, and every possible option, so that they can make an informed decision.

Course, looking at a lot of what is going on in the world, it's possible that the days of making informed decisions are long behind us. If that's the case, then hand me my shotgun, a vial of heroin, and some hookers. May as well go out with a bang.

Monday, May 08, 2006

He said, she said

It's happened again.

Just when you thought that the GDub administration couldn't get any wackier and more out of touch, it has happened again.

The key to this particular turn of events is the internal memo (which has, of course, filtered out to the media) requesting that all cabinet members put a positive spin on the war in Iraq into their speeches. Sure, I can understand the desire to get some solidarity out there. After all, when you're the Pres. and your approval rating is stuck below 40%, you want people to side with you, as opposed to lining up across the yard. And it even makes sense for some of the cabinet positions to incorporate the administrations points, even if they have to bold-faced lie to get the words out. Truly, there is no reason why the Sec'ys of State or Defense can not follow this practice, and stand firm with GDub and his positions.

But Agriculture? Housing and Urban Development? That's right. Every single cabinet position (and sub-cabinet position) needs to incorporate the administration's talking points about the war. This means that, in the middle of a speech about soybean futures or sub-standard housing, we could hear the words, "the President has a clear strategy for victory in Iraq."

Maybe they think the more we hear it, the more likely we are to finally believe it. Funny thing is, the only thing I'm really believing right now from the administration is what GDub has referred to as his best moment. "I would say the best moment of all was when I caught a 7.5 pound perch in my lake."

Funny, I'm not seeing any positive spin on the war in Iraq there.

Friday, May 05, 2006

It's hard out here for a pimp

So many things crossing over the news feeds today, and only one will get my caffeinated views. No, I'm not looking at GDub's decision to honor Cinco de Mayo by announcing that immigrants should learn English. I'm also avoiding stepping into the decision by Porter Goss to step down a mere 19 months into his term as CIA director, and how that impacts Pres. Decider's standing. And if you thought it was going to be a view into how, less than one week after Stephen Colbert ripped the press corps (and the Chief) a new one for how the media is pandering to the Oval Office, Paula Zahn practically attacked former CIA operative Ray McGovern for his calling out "Gin" Rummy on things he said, you were way off.

Looks like South Carolina may be about to step further into more adult material. Just one day after California started talking about banning people from having their own sonogram machines, Rep. Ralph Davenport (R-Boiling Springs) is trying to get legislation off the ground making sex toys illegal.

Right. Because the issue with the highest need for legislation is whether or not people can purchase vibrators, handcuffs, paddles, or anything else meant for sexual stimulation. After all, we can't just have people sitting in the privacy of their own home, pleasuring themselves, let alone pleasuring a willing partner, with rubber toys, or really much of anything that can run on a couple of batteries.

Seriously? South Carolina doesn't want there to be a sex toy industry? An industry that is mostly supported by upstanding citizens, who may or may not have a kinky side that tells them they can't get off without a good spanking, or a vibrating egg hidden and powered by remote control? What's next? Working on legislation to ban cellphones with a vibrate function? What about those back massaging chairs? And never mind the different cycles on the washing machine or pulsing shower heads.

Y'know, maybe they'll have some luck with this legislation if they try and focus on the "toy" portion of sex toy. Possibly by pointing out the choking hazards involved with "The Big One".

Just saying, is all.

Thursday, May 04, 2006


So it's become a pretty well-known fact that Tom Cruise has completely flipped his waffle, and is now living in some sort of fantasy world. This has been going on for a bit now, what with the whole Katie (oops, sorry, Kate) Holmes thing, the "is-it-staged-or-not" pregnancy, his declarations that he would eat the placenta, his jumping on couches, and his strict adherance to the documents of Scientology (a religion where, even if you get kicked out, you can't stop the mailings).

Well, apparently the state of California is worried that there may be more people that are just as whacked in the head as Tom is. They are currently looking to pass legislation preventing people from repeating one of TC's more lunatic ideas from the recent pregnancy affair.

That's right, folks. In California, it soon may become illegal to own your own home ultrasound machine.

*blink blink*

Seriously? There needs to be legislation for this? You mean the average person isn't automatically going to know that they have no idea how to operate properly an expensive medical device? That there are more people out there who are just as loony as TC and are planning on jumping off of furniture, doing their own sonograms, and then eating placentas?

Of course, this is California we're talking about. Any state that holds that many celebrities may truly have something in the water affecting logical and sound thinking. And yes, I'm looking at John Travolta and Isaac Hayes as being co-conspirators.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The oil see-saw

The House of Representatives has just recently passed legislation saying that it's perfectly acceptable to levy criminal penalties against energy companies found guilty of price-gouging. These penalties could end up being around $150M, which, given recently announced profits, is like fining Tom Cruise $80 for being insane. One of the most significant things about this legislation going through it that it may finally force the Federal Trade Commission to actually decide exactly what price-gouging is. And yes, this is all in light of service stations around the country being fined for selling fuel at prices deemed too low.

Come on, folks. Just like we know that the (purportedly) male half of TomKat is completely off his rocker, we know that the oil companies are engaging in inflating prices unnaturally. After all, while there is definitely an increase in the consumer base, that increase is not enough to justify and explain the ridiculous profits that these companies keep making. And these are record-shattering profits, mind you.

But does that mean that companies like Exxon will get slammed with fines, and punished for their money hungry ways? They've been investigated in the past, with nothing determined (apparently the current FTC ruling is that there has to be collusion between the companies before anything can be done). In fact, the chairman and CEO of Exxon Mobil Corp., Rex Tillerson, said about as much on the Todayshow.

"Obviously, the truth is we do not get together and manipulate prices, that would be illegal....The profit we earn is what the market gives us ... the price is set on the open market."

Funny, but to me, that language sounds a little like things we've heard before, although not from the oil companies. Something about a certain person being a decider.... and that proved itself wrong in the short run, too.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Plagiarism and prostitutes

So it seems that the Little Author Who Could really couldn't. First, Kaavya Viswanathan was found to have plagiarized passages from another author for her book "Opal". She even went so far as to admit it, but said it was "unconscious and unintentional". Well, there's always that chance that errors were made, and that somehow reading another's work caused full sentences and paragraphs to enter into your head and make it seem as though it was your own work. Heck, people might even be close to willing to forgive if it turns out it was just from one author, who maybe you happen to enjoy quite a bit.

But now to find out that she plagiarized ANOTHER author? Again, taking passages, altering them ever-so-slightly, and passing them off as her own? From the sounds of things, "Opal" wasn't so much a work of fiction as it was a research paper on the genre with an incomplete bibliography. Oh, with some artistic license thrown in. After all, this isn't "The Princess Bride", where Goldman admitted to translating as best he could, and then omitting the "boring parts" (nevermind the detail that S. Morgenstern was a pseudonym created by Goldman for the book... he "translated" something that had never existed). This is supposed to be her own creation... one that netted her a pretty penny from the publisher.

In other news of the day, we also find out that one of the top CIA officials (actually, third from the top... doesn't get too much higher than that) is pretty intricately connected with Congressman Randall "Duke" Cunningham. Given that the Duke was recently sentenced on a whole bunch of bribery charges, and that Kyle "Dusty" Foggo actually oversaw some of the contracts for companies involved in the bribery scandal, I'd say it goes pretty far to say that Number 3 had his hands in a very messy pie. Of course, the CIA is "looking into assertions" and that they are in no way "lending credibility to any allegation". Oh yeah, and Dusty gets to keep his job.

Hmm... Duke and Dusty. Sounds like characters from a buddy comedy. Set in Oz (the prison, not the fantasy setting).

Oh, and to Ms. Viswanathan. See those little quotation marks up there? That's how you denote when you're using someone else's words.

Fox versus Colbert

So Stephen Colbert, of Comedy Central fame, got the opportunity to speak at the White House Correspondant's Dinner over the past weekend. He popped on stage shortly after GDub and the GDub 1000, which I believe to be a liquid metal form of the Decider-in-Chief, had their exchange. From all accounts, Colbert delivered a pretty skewering address, attacking everything from the Pres to the press.

This morning, FOXNews, where "fair and balanced" mean neither, decided that Colbert was horribly inappropriate, and that he went far over the line. This should come as no shock to anyone, as FN has made it abundantly clear that they are less a media outlet and more a channel that panders and caters to every whim of the right. Heck, one of their guys is now press secretary. This is a channel that has been more critical of the police in Aruba than anything that the Republicans are doing, up until the point where it's so far into the game they need to own up to the faults and misdeeds. And sure, the Democrats aren't a bunch of perfect little angels out there, playing for the little guy, but at least they get skewered BEFORE Katie Couric gets to perk herself into the debate.

Funny thing is, Colbert made some mention about the press being willing to take a stance against the administration, to not simply suck up to anything and everything that they said and believed in. Below is some of his stuff on the media:

The greatest thing about this man is he's steady. You know where he stands. He believes the same thing Wednesday that he believed on Monday, no matter what happened Tuesday. Events can change; this man's beliefs never will. As excited as I am to be here with the president, I am appalled to be surrounded by the liberal media that is destroying America, with the exception of Fox News. Fox News gives you both sides of every story: the president's side, and the vice president's side.
But the rest of you, what are you thinking, reporting on NSA wiretapping or secret prisons in eastern Europe? Those things are secret for a very important reason: they're super-depressing. And if that's your goal, well, misery accomplished. Over the last five years you people were so good -- over tax cuts, WMD intelligence, the effect of global warming. We Americans didn't want to know, and you had the courtesy not to try to find out. Those were good times, as far as we knew.
But, listen, let's review the rules. Here's how it works: the president makes decisions. He's the decider. The press secretary announces those decisions, and you people of the press type those decisions down. Make, announce, type. Just put 'em through a spell check and go home. Get to know your family again. Make love to your wife. Write that novel you got kicking around in your head. You know, the one about the intrepid Washington reporter with the courage to stand up to the administration. You know - fiction!

Hmm... could it be the mention of FOX that got them disturbed in the first place? Or could it be the notion that Sean Hannity is one of the administration's lapdogs, and the first one in line for a Snow Job?