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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

What an idiot

From the What-Was-He-Thinking file, Ludacris (a guy I respect as an artist and an actor - he ROCKED in Crash and Hustle & Flow) released a rap song (lyrics below) called Politics, which, while intended to flatter Obama, also overtly insults Bush, McCain and Hillary Clinton (calling her a bitch). Of course the Obama campaign had to immediately denounce the song and distance themselves from the singer. Does Ludacris think he's helping his candidate this way? All this does is create a lot of fuss over nothing and distract from Obama's better qualities. Just like Wright - if you want to help, shut the fuck up. The lyrics:

I'm back on it like I just signed my record deal
Yeah the best is here,
the Bentley Coup paint is dripping wet,
it got sex appeal

Never should have hated
You never should've doubted him
With a slot in the president's iPod
Obama shattered 'em

Said I handled his biz and I'm one of his favorite rappers
Well give Luda a special pardon if I'm ever in the slammer

Better yet, put him in office, make me your vice president
Hillary hated on you, so that bitch is irrelevant

Jesse talking slick and apologizing for what?
If you said it then you meant it how you want it have a gut!

And all you other politicians trying to hate on my man,
watch us win a majority vote in every state on my man

You can't stop what's bout to happen, we bout to make history
The first black president is destined and it's meant to be

The threats ain't fazing us, the nooses or the jokes
So get off your ass, black people, it's time to get out and vote!

Paint the White House black and I'm sure that's got 'em terrified
McCain don't belong in any chair unless he's paralyzed

Yeah I said it cause Bush is mentally handicapped
Ball up all of his speeches and I throw 'em like candy wrap
'cause what you talking I hear nothing even relevant
and you the worst of all 43 presidents

Get out and vote or the end will be near
The world is ready for change because Obama is here!
'cause Obama is here
The world is ready for change because Obama is here!


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

First, kill all the liberals

It was inevitable, I suppose, that someone would take Michael Savage and Ann Coulter literally - seems that's what this man in Tennessee did. This is from Alternet, sent to me by my friend Janet:

When police searched the car of the gunman who opened fire in a Unitarian Church in Tennessee, they found a 4-page letter expressing his hatred of the "liberal movement." A regular consumer of Bill O'Reilly, Michael Savage and Sean Hannity, Jim David Adkisson was only following the arguments they make day in and day out to their logical conclusions. From the Knoxville News Sentinel:

Police found right-wing political books, brass knuckles, empty shotgun shell boxes and a handgun in the Powell home of a man who said he attacked a church in order to kill liberals "who are ruining the country," court records show.

Knoxville police Sunday evening searched the Levy Drive home of Jim David Adkisson after he allegedly entered the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church and killed two people and wounded six others during the presentation of a children's musical.

Adkisson targeted the church ... "because of its liberal teachings and his belief that all liberals should be killed because they were ruining the country, and that he felt that the Democrats had tied his country's hands in the war on terror and they had ruined every institution in America with the aid of media outlets."

Adkisson [said] that "he could not get to the leaders of the liberal movement that he would then target those that had voted them in to office."

[ . . . ]
David Neiwert calls it "eliminationist" rhetoric -- putting forth the idea that one's opponents are not simply in disagreement, do not simply have a different and competing political philosophy, do not just believe that their approach to solving problems is superior but are bent on destroying the country, the culture, even the family unit from within. And, more importantly, that they must be destroyed or exiled.

Consider the narratives we hear so frequently, from right-wing talk radio, to the right-blogs to Fox News. Liberals are traitors. Liberals hate the troops, stab them in the back, hate America. They are "anti-family", they hate God. They want America to be destroyed by its enemies, whether Soviet shock troops or "Islamofascist" terrorists.

I'm not denying for a second that progressives and liberals are filled with anumus towards the right, but it is an animus of a different nature. Most progressives believe that conservative leaders are greedy, self-interested and represent only the interests of the very wealthy, and their followers are simply chumps dazzled by social issues into voting against their own interests. We don't consider them to be bent on the destruction of our country (even if some of us believe that is the likely outcome of their governance).


I thought I was completely sickened, but there's more. I took this Alternet poster's advice:

You wanna get a take on the true feelings of the right wing followers that the Hannity's et al can't acknowledge? Go to liveleak.com and search "Tennessee shooting." And then, if your stomach can take it, read the comments section. You'll be amazed.

They weren't kidding! Stuff like "I'm not saying it was right, but if it had to happen, that was the place for it." That's a publically expressed opinion. Kinda leaves me speechless, it's so horrible and frightening.

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Monday, July 28, 2008

The fourth estate

I find it really frightening that CBS did this - splicing a different answer into the interview of McCain that they aired on their evening news broadcast. Thank goodness a fuss has been made - I heard about this on Keith Olbermann's Countdown and other places too. CBS said it was a "mistake" (as in an accident) but it seems awfully deliberate, especially considering how much it flattered McCain.

ADDENDUM 8/4/2008

Now the NY Sun has done something similar, leading other right wingers to use their misrepresentation of Obama's speech to their own advantage. This is from Media Matters:

In a July 25 editorial, The New York Sun said in reference to Sen. Barack Obama's July 24 speech in Berlin: "So Barack Obama, whose father is from Kenya and who attended school in Indonesia, now appears before a crowd of 200,000 cheering Germans in Berlin to proclaim himself a 'citizen of the world.' It makes you wonder whether he's running for president of America or secretary general of the United Nations." The Sun later asserted, "We'd settle for a president who is a citizen of America, thank you very much" -- falsely suggesting that Obama had referred to himself only as a "citizen of the world." In fact, during the speech, he described himself as "a citizen -- a proud citizen of the United States, and a fellow citizen of the world."

Similarly, in a July 25 article, the Sun cropped Obama's introduction, writing, "Introducing himself as a 'fellow citizen of the world,' the presumptive Democratic nominee stood in the German capital and called for Europe to stand with America in the fight against terrorism and forge a united front to eliminate nuclear weapons and curb the damage wrought by global climate change."

The Sun did not note in either the editorial or the article that in a June 17, 1982, speech to the United Nations General Assembly, Ronald Reagan introduced himself similarly, saying, "I speak today as both a citizen of the United States and of the world." President Richard Nixon, in a March 30, 1969, eulogy for President Dwight Eisenhower described him as "truly, the first citizen of the world."

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Saturday, July 26, 2008

Mamma Mia

Saw this movie tonight. I liked it - there were some great moments. But there were also some excruciating ones. Watching Meryl Streep writhe around is cutoff overalls during the title number just didn't work for me, though when she sang The Winner Takes It All, I had chills. It's a trade-off, I suppose.

The biggest problem I had was that the lead actors are all WAY too old - the daughter is 20 years old, so the mom, Donna, and her three suitors (the sexy-at-any-age Pierce Brosnan, Stellan Skarsgard, and the always watchable Colin Firth) should be what, 40 or 45 at the oldest? Meryl looks fabulous, but she's closer to 60, and the men are all in their 50s - that means their characters went through these youthful indiscretions and rebellions in their late 30s! I have to admit, I found that totally distracting. (I also wondered why Pierce was cast as the American. Of course he's delicious, but he's totally Irish. I guess there's just no sexy American actors of a certain age who were willing or available.)

As for the singing, the actress playing the daughter, Amanda Seyfried (probably best known for Mean Girls), has a lovely strong voice, and Meryl is also good, but none of the men sing all that well, and they really shouldn't be expected to carry whole musical numbers alone.

On the positive side, Christine Baranski is riveting - her number, Does Your Mamma Know, was one of the high points of the movie. And it was fun seeing Willoughby (Dominic Cooper) from the latest version of Sense and Sensibility, in a very different (though still adorable) role - as Sky, the groom. And the biggest bonus (SPOILER ALERT) - the truly passionate kiss between Donna (Meryl Streep) and Sam (Pierce Bronson) at the end, instead of some bullshit peck. You so rarely see passion between older characters, that was refreshing to say the least.

I never saw the stage show, and while musicals are not generally my cup of tea, I was surprised at how well the ABBA songs were fit into the story. Some better than others, of course - some felt really shoe-horned in. And it felt long. But what to take out? The numbers that I didn't care for could have been other people's favorites. I mostly remember ABBA's dance hits, but several of their lesser known ballads are truly beautiful (Lay Your Love on Me was a wonderful number). The movie gives these all-too-familiar songs a new depth and character, so that listening to them now, they have all new meaning.

Side note - ABBA's major composer, Benny Andersson (who has a cameo in the movie as a piano player), wrote some additional music for the movie's score, but because all the songs have been previously published, none are eligible for consideration when the Academy Award nominations roll around. Seems so unfair.


It's been 4 days and I'm still listening to my hubby's ABBA Gold album - even though I didn't adore the movie, the songs have become imprinted on my brain!


Friday, July 25, 2008

"Most Hated Pundits"

Gossipy, but fun piece on how their colleagues (producers, etc) view the top cable news personalities. Not especially surprising to hear that Keith Olbermann is an egotistical jerk, but I hadn't heard that Nancy Grace has significantly misrepresented the story of her fiancee's death back in 1998.


Thursday, July 24, 2008

Political thoughts

I watched Mike Murphy, a Republican political consultant, on MSNBC this morning - he said when Republicans ask him what he thinks about the fall Congressional elections, his response is "build an ark." Honestly, it bothers me a LOT less that McCain might win, knowing that the Dems are likely to make significant gains in Congress - I think that is likely to have a more lastly impact than a Democratic president. Though, of course, I would prefer both.

I'm particularly gleeful over the collapse of Karl Rove's vaulted "New Republican Majority." Ha! All partisan preferences aside, Americans do generally prefer progressive policies, like government regularion of the food industry, but they are distracted (quite deliberately) by rhetoric - patriotic, family values, whatever. And Americans do have more "conservative" tendencies in these areas (American exceptionalism, and so on), but that rhetoric is a lot less relevant to actually running the government than policy decisions are.


Well, shoot. My friend Mary pokes a big, gaping hole in my argument about Congress v. the presidency:

I would agree, except for the sticky question of Supreme Court justices. The President gets to choose, and it seems like even if we have a Dem Senate, they'll give in (they certainly gave in on Roberts, Alito, etc etc!). They have no backbone! I am excited about the prospects of getting more seats, but then I was so excited in 2006, and I am deflated - these damn Dems gave in to telecom immmunity on FISA, and pretty much everything else W has asked for, including huge funding for the Iraq war, and other than the brand new housing assistance bill, haven't passed much that's help to anyone.


Gay issues in the news

Gay issues are suddenly in the news again - I heard on both NPR and cable news stories about -

Once-a-decade Anglican (Episcopalean) church meeting riven by divisions over the status of gay clergy. American Bishop Gene Robinson from New Hampshire was forbidden from attending the Lambeth Conference in England (in hopes of diffusing the controversy), but he went anyway. Conservative church leaders held their own "hetero only" meeting in Jerusalem. A split has been expected for a long time.

Also, new hearings on Don't Ask Don't Tell on Capitol Hill (House Armed Services Committee). Legislation has been introduced to repeal this ridiculous rule, which has resulted in the discharge of TWELVE THOUSAND soldiers since it was instituted 15 years ago.

No backlash at all, as far as I can tell. Jon Steward mocked the Anglican conference on his show, but I haven't heard of any serious right wing posturing. $4 gas will do that - makes all those "family values" issues fade a bit.


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Bench-clearing brawl in the WNBA

It's true, the women were mixing it up and it was all over the news. The NPR sports commentator even suggested that it may improve the league's television ratings.


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Meaningless but fun

I know it's ridiculous to respond to this, it's totally irrelevant, but I just loved watching Obama sinking this three-pointer on his very first try.


The coverage of Obama's oversees trip has, not surprisingly, emphasized the visuals - he looks presidential. Of course that's important, and I'm so glad that's the narrative, but it's just a shame that it has to be this way - what he's saying should be so much more important that how he looks saying it.


Monday, July 21, 2008

Vanity Fair ribs The New Yorker

Sunday, July 20, 2008

A Vin-tage weekend

Sort of got obsessed (again!) with the delicious Vin Diesel after rewatching Pitch Black this week. Finally watched the sequel, The Chronicles of Riddick, which bombed at the box office, and I can see why - it's not a bad movie, but it's a big sprawling mess, like they crammed at least 2 or 3 sequel ideas into one movie. And (SPOILER ALERT) they killed off the woman at the end (again!) for no other reason than it was tradition. Bummer.

But in reading about those two movies, I discovered that Vin got discouraged by his film career not going anywhere, so he wrote and directed his own movie, Strays, which is recently available on video. So I watched that. Not bad. Not brilliant, but pretty decent, considering he wore all the hats, and he wasn't 30 years old when it was made. Maybe one scene too many of the homies hanging around shooting the shit, and it ends a bit abruptly, but those are minor complaints.

While doing this extensive research, I also read many raves for Find Me Guilty, a Sidney Lumet film that nobody watched, but which virtually all imdb commenters said is a gem, so I picked that up at the library and hope to watch it this week.
Vin is currently working on a film about Hannibal, also wearing both the director and lead actor hats - you have to admire the guy, he could coast on his macho image, but he keeps challenging himself.

I also watched Feast of Love, which was decent. Not quite what I expected, but worth watching, both for the cast and for some interesting stories, which were not really very "Hollywood" - in a good way. And here's a weird coincidence, French actress Alexa Davalos has a key role in this film and in Chronicles of Riddick. Weird to see two performances in one weekend by an actress I've never heard of before (she was terrific in both).
Also had a nice chat with my brother, Leo, who had just seen The Dark Knight. He found it very dark, which I had heard, almost too much so. Said it was clearly a post-9/11 movie and thought the film was explicitly exploring themes of what is justified when combating evil.
He and I of course talked about the death of Heath Ledger, who seemed unable to handle his own ability to inhabit dark characters, and we also discussed River Phoenix who seemed to similarly succumb to his own demons. Both were terrific actors and we agreed that we feel quite cheated out of the performances of theirs that we will never see.


Saturday, July 19, 2008

"God's Pharmacy"

Very interesting email, sent to me by my friend Jim - a list, about a dozen items, of food that resembles the body part it helps.

Here's an example:

A tomato, when sliced open, reveals four chambers, and a tomato is red. The heart has four chambers and is red. All of the research shows tomatoes are loaded with lycopine and are indeed pure food for the heart and blood.

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Manchurian Candidate

My friend Mary and I were talking about how frustrating it is that so many people are still accepting these ridiculous rumors about Obama. I thought this captured it perfectly:


Thursday, July 17, 2008

BNL singer Steve Page arrested

This was front page news in our local paper today:

Barenakes Ladies frontman Steve Page was arrested locally for cocaine posession. Sounds like he's in a self-destructive spiral - he split with his wife of 14 years and his girlfriend is 27 (he's 38). And get this: BNL just released a KIDS album - Snacktime - and BNL is scheduled to appear in the Disney "Block Party" tour in August.
Andy Dick was also arrested yesterday. Sad:

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Clay NY makes best small city list

This is where I live!!!


Clay named 59th best small place to live in U.S.
by Tom Leo

Money Magazine has named Clay the 59th best small city or metropolitan area to live in the United States. The top 100 is published in its August 2008 issue and also is available on www.cnn.com.

About Clay, the magazine said:"A small city in the central part of the state, Clay offers respite from typical New York urban hassles with sprawling flatlands and big blue skies. Low home prices and safe streets make Clay even more attractive. It is also bordered by the Oneida and Seneca rivers -- both havens for would-be fishermen. One caveat: Those who make their home here have to be prepared for long, icy winters."

Criteria for the list included cities or metropolitan areas with populations between 50,000 and 300,000.

The No. 1 place to live, according to the list, is Plymouth, Minn., followed by Fort Collins, Colo., Naperville, Ill., Irvine, Calif., and Franklin Township, N.J.


Several people have asked me - don't you live in Liverpool? It's totally bizarre and I don't even pretend to understand it - we live in the Town of Clay, but our post office is Liverpool (or part of Liverpool is in Clay, or something like that). I'm not completely clear about how this works. But I do know that our mailing address is Liverpool, while I recently voted on a controversial Town of Clay ballot question!


"A mother first"

This is perfect. My uncle, Dan (a total darling) sent me this, just days after I complained about this very issue in the movie, Hancock. These lines say it all:

". . . her own yearnings for more in her marriage and in her life . . ."

"She wanted me to be more than she had been . . ."

EXACTLY - the very reason why there was a feminist movement!

Chicken Soup for the Soul
A Mother First

by Harriet May Savitz

My mother did not work outside the home until later in life. And then she worked part-time in a bakery, waiting on people. She had me play where she could see me from the window, and often I would run inside to get a treat. At the time, she believed only her eyes were good enough to ensure my safety. She was always a mother first.

It was apparent to me, even at a young age, that wearing the title “mom” was my mother’s most important identity. I felt it in the way she looked at me, in her voice, and in her touch. From the beginning, almost to a fault, my mother offered me the most important part of her besides her love—her attention. In spite of the problems tossed her way, the distractions, her own yearnings for more in her marriage and in her life, she at least had attained one goal—to be a mother first.

Sometimes she would go overboard with her enthusiasm. If it was cold, I had on too many sweaters and never could be without my earmuffs. If it was hot, and our apartment was always hot, she would flee to the beaches and hurry me into the ocean. She was a worrying mother, and when a famous family lost their child in a kidnapping, my mother put bottles of coins on the window ledge so that, if they fell, she would be warned there was an intruder in the house. And if anyone threatened me at school with a schoolyard confrontation, my mother would square off with them if she found out. She was my protector, supporter, and the first person who ever made me feel as if I were special, as nowhere else in life.

I can still hear her voice encouraging me on my first date. “Go,” she ordered. “Have fun,” she smiled. “And don’t let him touch you,” she warned. And when I was older, and a date had left me waiting while he went out on the boardwalk with someone else, my mother found him and later told me, “I gave him a piece of my mind.” Though mortified at the time by her behavior, it is a memory I cherish.

Later in life, I wondered how she could know so much about me that I did not know about myself. She knew even though my marks were average in school, that I was just bored but smart enough. She believed in me even when I made mistakes that caused others to shudder. She wanted me to be more than she had been, when I thought she was everything I wanted to be.

Recently my children—a son and daughter—came to visit. In their forties now, they are married and with children of their own. Both were tired and soon fell asleep, one on the couch, the other on the bed. Carefully, while they slept, I took some blankets and tucked them in, as I had done so many times when they were young. I took the telephone off the receiver, so they would not be disturbed, lowered the shades, and for a precious moment, watched over them, grateful to be, just as my mother had been, a mother first.


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Muslim is just a polite word for . . .

Holy cannoli - I missed this connection somehow - provocative stuff from my favorite blog, Hullabaloo.


I've been wondering since 9/11 when the right would get around to conflating the Muslim terrorists with "black Muslims" and I think it may have finally happened in the couple of Barack and Michelle Obama. It would seem odd that the right wingers would smear him as being muslim - he's black, not arab, and it doesn't fit the stereotype. But it does fit the stereotype of the Farrakhan type of militant black muslims and that's what they're getting at with this. The image of the dangerous black radical is the purpose of the muslim smear, not the terrorist association. It's good old, All American racism.

Here's a transcript from a show this weekend on CNN in which one of their producers is traveling across the country asking people about the election:

HADAD: Next stop, Nashville, to talk American politics with fans of America's pastime. The crowd is fun, politically engaged and about split between Obama, McCain and undecided. But I meet two people that rattle me a bit.You've been a Democrat your entire voting life. And now, you're going to vote Republican. What is it that's making this huge switch for you after how many years of voting?

JANICE WOLFF, BASEBALL FAN: Well, I don't like the candidate. I think he's a Muslim.

HADAD: For the record, Obama is a Christian. She told me to talk to her friend, Tony, who was very into politics.

TONY SLAYDEN, BASEBALL FAN: Honestly I'm an old southern boy. And I just don't know if I can see a black man making a change. The only black man I've ever seen with change is with a cup in his hand.

HADAD: Whoa! Did he just say that?

See how seamless all that is? They're good friends. The women is more "genteel" and uses the more accepted "m" word. Her pal there doesn't try to hide behind the terrorist threat and just admits outright that he's an old fashioned racist. Muslim, militant, black man, cup in his hand, etc. "Muslim" is just a polite word for you know what.

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Monday, July 14, 2008

Books not bombs

This is almost encouraging - Nicholas Kristof's column in Sunday's NY Times where he discusses the sucess of Greg Mortenson, author of Three Cups of Tea, who has built schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan. His aid group, the Central Asia Institute, has 74 schools in operation. His focus is educating girls. Below is an excerpt and an link to the full essay.


July 13, 2008
NY Times
Op-Ed Columnist
It Takes a School, Not Missiles

[ . . . ]
Schools are a much more effective bang for the buck than missiles or chasing some Taliban around the country,” says Mr. Mortenson, who is an Army veteran.

Each Tomahawk missile that the United States fires in Afghanistan costs at least $500,000. That’s enough for local aid groups to build more than 20 schools, and in the long run those schools probably do more to destroy the Taliban.

The Pentagon, which has a much better appreciation for the limits of military power than the Bush administration as a whole, placed large orders for “Three Cups of Tea” and invited Mr. Mortenson to speak.

“I am convinced that the long-term solution to terrorism in general, and Afghanistan specifically, is education,” Lt. Col. Christopher Kolenda, who works on the Afghan front lines, said in an e-mail in which he raved about Mr. Mortenson’s work. “The conflict here will not be won with bombs but with books. ... The thirst for education here is palpable.”

Entering the 21st century

Wow, another uplifting story about progress, this one closer to home. I heard this story on NPR this evening. In Greene County, NC they were having no luck luring a factory so they decided to skip the industrial revolution and go straight to the technological revolution by committing to getting internet access for everyone in the county. They got a grant to help finance it, and started by giving laptops to every student in grades 6 - 12. They replaced their dial-up access with broadband, and conducted computer classes for seniors right on down.

Among other results, in just five years, the percentage of HS students who apply to college went from 27% to 84% and the county dropped from 2nd in teen pregancies to 18th. I find this totally inspiring. At this link, you can listen to the 8 min story or read the transcript:


Isolated N.C. County Gets Wired
by Alex Spiegel
Listen Now [7 min 45 sec]

All Things Considered, July 14, 2008 · Living in a rural community is a larger impediment to Internet use than either race or class. The isolated rural community of Greene County, N.C., turned itself upside down to get its citizens online in five short years


Sunday, July 13, 2008

Feminism at the movies

Went to see Hancock with some friends on Saturday night (only because there was nothing else worth seeing). Not a bad movie, some fun moments, but I agree with critics and other commenters that the third act doesn't really work, having a much darker tone from the rest of the movie.


My complaint has to do with Charlize Theron's character, Mary. If you don't know already, her character is another superhero, but after millennia of combat, she has chosen to live anonymously in an LA suburb, cooking spaghetti for her husband and stepson. It is her character who fills in the gaps for the troubled Hancock, suffering from amnesia for the past 80 years. Before these details are revealed, we must witness a battle between the superheroes (she assures Hancock that she is the stronger of the two). She kicks ass, and that's fun, and her character shows grit and courage in subsequent scenes. But in the end, she returns to suburban obscurity, after telling Hancock that his destiny is to fight crime. My question is, WTF? The audience is told that LA is controlled by drug dealers and gangs. In addition, her husband says that she watches the news "all the time." What are we supposed to think about this women, who is powerful beyond measure, who has the opportunity to help save countless people, but instead chooses to remain detached? I suppose you could make the case that she's earned a rest after many centuries of duty, but I still object quite strongly to this anti-feminist message - that when given a choice, even an extraordinary woman will choose domestic security over a life devoted to a larger purpose.

Then, tonight, we had family movie night - we watched Shrek the Third, which I hadn't seen. Besides having a charming subplot about what it takes to be a father, Fiona motivates her fellow princesses (Cinderella, Snow White and Sleeping Beauty) to go and fight for themselves, rather than waiting to be rescued. The message is neither subtle, nor obscured - it's explicit and part of the larger theme of the movie - be yourself! Incredibly refreshing! Sad that an animated movie gets it right while the "grown-up" movie falls back on outdated stereotypes. The only good news is that kids, who need to proactive message the most, are the ones getting it.


My friend Betsy, in response to my objections to Hancock, said, "Isn't Mary doing the Most Important Job in the World [raising a child]?" I don't really think so. There are thousands of kids born every day and the qualifications for raising them, unfortunately, are zilch. But if you have super powers, that makes you unique, and uniquely suited for the job of helping others on a larger scale - the job that Mary says is Hancock's job, even after she tells him that she's better at it than he is. You can't avoid it - it's a totally subversive message.

I also changed my mind about my final statement in the original post - while I think it's terribly important to give young girls the message that they should stick up for themselves, the audience for Hancock - teens and 20-somethings - are probably the female cohort that is most suseptible to a message that undermines their sense that they can do MORE than just support a man in his pursuits. Yuck, it's just so retro. It really bothers me, obviously.


Saturday, July 12, 2008

The double-click is a pre-requisite

I'd heard this story in various places, about how McCain can't get online, but I enjoyed the way it was presented on my favorite blog, Hullabaloo:


Surfing With Floaties
by dday

John McCain is aware of the Internets, but only dimly:

He said, ruefully, that he had not mastered how to use the Internet and relied on his wife and aides like Mark Salter, a senior adviser, and Brooke Buchanan, his press secretary, to get him online to read newspapers (though he prefers reading those the old-fashioned way) and political Web sites and blogs. "They go on for me," he said. "I am learning to get online myself, and I will have that down fairly soon, getting on myself. I don't expect to be a great communicator, I don't expect to set up my own blog, but I am becoming computer literate to the point where I can get the information that I need."
[ . . . ]
Getting online requires a double-click on the browser application. I don't necessarily need a President to be able to install the DSL system or a universal broadband card, but the double-click seems to me like a pre-requisite.

I apologize in advance for demeaning McCain's peerless, impeccable service to our country.


Friday, July 11, 2008

More on McCain

I've been having a lively email exchange with a friend in Philly, a moderate Democrat named Mike. He's quite fixated on Obama's inexperience, but mostly we've sparred over McCain.

Mike: I want a president who doesn't suffer fools, who calls it like he sees it, and who will have the courage to refuse to meet with sworn enemies of our people.

Danielle: "Sworn enemies"? What a quaint turn of phrase. It's so hard to keep track of our "enemies" status - it changes so quickly. Just the other day, North Korea dropped out of the Axis of Evil. And we hated Kaddafi until we didn't anymore. And of course we supported Saddam Hussein for decades, as long as he gave us access to his oil reserves. And we didn't care how the Taliban treated their women as long as they were fighting the Russians. Speaking of which, who can keep track of how we feel about Putin. It's just a lot more complicated than Good Guys and Bad Guys. The whole process of international relations is a delicate balance that requires a great deal more than a tough guy attitude. I put a lot more faith in a leader like Obama, who has lived abroad and who has a much more sophisticated world view, than someone like McCain, regardless of how much "experience" he may have.


It's official

Finally got my "free" bumpersticker from MoveOn.org (I made a donation). I wanted to be the first one in my neighborhood to make a visible stand.


Thursday, July 10, 2008

Me and my shadow

I took the kids to Williams Beach tonight, the weather was so perfect. I was taking photos of them swimming and realized that my shadow on the water made an arty shot.

Latinas for McCain

I heard this story tonight on NPR - it's downright depressing. Most of the women interviewed support McCain b/c they don't like Obama - one woman explains that he's rejected two religions - Islam for Christianity and then left his church. Holy cannoli - people this misinformed shouldn't be allowed to vote! At the site you can listen to the report (5 min) or read the transcript.


All Things Considered, July 10, 2008 · The group Latinas for McCain includes a mix of Republicans, Democrats and independents. For many, their choice has more to do with negative things they believe about Sen. Barack Obama, than positive things about Sen. John McCain.


Wednesday, July 09, 2008

The liberal stain

My uncle Dan sent me yet another Dick Morris rant, this one explaining how the liberal "stain" will infect Obama once he is elected, even as he attempts to move to the "center" right now, citing how Clinton went from the party leader to its "hostage" in the early years of his presidency. This is my reply:

I think this is ridiculous. The Democratic party, and Democratic members of Congress, are very different today compared with 15 years ago. Nancy Pelosi and especially Harry Reid, are not traditional liberals at all. There are a lot of "blue dog" Democrats - people with much more centrist ideologies - in Congress now. Is this an argument for voting against Obama, or just a rant about evil liberals?

All politicians, at all levels, from all parties, say things during campaigns that they believe will help them get elected, regardless of what they really plan to do, and regardless of what they know perfectly well will be the political reality once they get into office (Bush flipped on so many things - my personal favorite is his assertion that he'd have a "humble" foreign policy). And all presidents must compromise with the legislative branch - it's called checks and balances, and last I heard, it was considered a good thing!


National Texting Championship (yes, really)

Last year (the 1st year), the prize was $25,000. The winner was 13 year old Morgan Pozgar from Claysburg, PA (she said she sends 4000 text messages each month), who needed just 42 seconds to type this:

"Supercalifragilisticexpialidocios! Even though the sound of it is something quite atrocious. If you say it loud enough you'll always sound precocious."

This year the prize was $50,000! And the winner is 20 year old Nathan Schwartz of Clyde, Ohio, who needed 60 seconds to type this:

"Does everybody here know the alphabet? Let's text. Here it goes ... AbcDeFghiJKlmNoPQrStuvWXy & Z! Now I know my A-B-C's, next time won't you text with me?"

The contest is sponsored by LG electronics. The contest was called "Down and Dirty with the QWERTY" because the phones used have the full - QWERTY - keyboard rather than the traditional phone keypad.


Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Candidates' children

There's a quite a fuss being made about Obama "exploiting" his children by having them interviewed on Access Hollywood.

I'm struck that this complaint is fairly bizarre. He has kids, people are interested in them. In contrast, a lot of folks don't even know that John McCain has children, or perhaps they know he and his wife adopted a girl b/c she was exploited in a truly ugly way by the Bush campaign during the election in 2000. But he, in fact, has SEVEN children - he adopted his first wife's two sons (Doug and Andrew) and they had a daughter (Sidney) together. He and his second wife have two sons (Jack and Jimmy) and two daughters (Meghan and Bridget).

I discoved by reading this profile of Cindy McCain in Newsweek magazine that she stayed in Arizona all these years while he lived mostly in Washington. It's none of my business how they arrange their family life, but I do think the type of family life a person has reflects on their character. McCain has been a long distance father (to put it politely), and his wife has mostly raised their 4 children without him (and obviously his first wife raised their 3 kids on her own).

Andrew is a pilot for American Airlines, Doug works for Cindy's family business (the Henley company) and Sidney is a music company exec, living in Canada. Jack attended the Naval Academy, and the youngest son, Jimmy, joined the Marines and served in Iraq (McCain is always praised for not "exploiting" his son's service). His daughter, Meghan, has her own blog. This is the photo she has posted there on the profile page (though she looks much younger and less, er, worldly, in other photos on the site). => His youngest daughter (who is 16) was adopted from one of Mother Teresa's orphanages in Bangladesh - Cindy McCain is on the Board of Operation Smile (that fixes cleft palates for children in developing nations) and the daughter was a (rejected) patient at the clinic.


Monday, July 07, 2008

Democratic Convention

OMG!! I can't believe this. I just realized that I'll be visiting my grandmother in Boulder while the Democratic convention is taking place in Denver. I already bought the plane tickets, though I hadn't even thought about the convention when I arranged the trip - I knew it was in Denver and that it was in August, but I didn't put it together. My uncle Alfred, who lives in Boulder and once ran (unsuccessfully) for city council, says he can score us tickets to the big Barack acceptance speech at Mile High Stadium (Invesco Field) on Thursday night (we're there Tuesday through Saturday) - it's all who you know, right?!

Here's a map with the stadium

It certainly feels serendipitous that I'll be 28 miles away (I checked Google maps!) - I didn't plan it, yet I couldn't have planned it better. What could be more thrilling for a hard core political junkie? It may end up being a high point of my life, at least as far as my obsession with politics is concerned. It's HISTORY in the making. Sort of mind-boggling actually.

And get this:

Obama's speech on August 28 will be on the 45th anniversary of Martin Luther King's historic "I Have a Dream" address in Washington.


Sunday, July 06, 2008

First photo of water on Mars

My uncle Dan sent me this photo. Funny, but sort of cruel, since he knows I'm all excited about this news story!

Saturday, July 05, 2008

My latest crush

Check out this yummy actor, Todd Williams, who's a regular character on my current favorite TV show, In Plain Sight.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

The rich are destroying the earth.

My friend Janet sent me the link to this book, it sounds like a Must Read:

In this important primer on the link between global ecology and the global economy, Kempf makes the following observations: First, that the planet’s ecological situation is growing ever worse, despite the efforts of millions of engaged citizens around the world. And second, despite environmentalists’ emphasis that "we’re all in the same boat," the world’s economic elites—who continue to benefit by plundering the environment—have access to "lifeboats" that insulate them from the resulting catastrophes.
Bringing to bear more than twenty years of experience as an environmental journalist, Kempf describes the invincibility that many of the world’s wealthy feel in the face of global warming, and how their unchecked privilege is thwarting action on the single most vexing problem facing our world.


Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Facebook has its drawbacks

Holy cannoli. My friend Terri talked me into setting up a Facebook page, and after I did, I figured I might as well be "friends" with the only other person I know with a page - Matt. When I get to his page, this is one of the recent messages on his "wall" - from his 16 y.o. sister:

Samantha Girard (South Brunswick High School) wrote
at 8:01pm on June 8th, 2008
ur step mom thing is a skanky bitch

She's just a silly kid, but it's a bit of a shock to be talked about this way, in a rather public forum. It seems like his mom, and therefore his sister, have somehow decided that I'm poisoning his mind against them, though nothing could be further from the truth.

I know the site is all about "networking," but getting connected clearly has a downside!

By the by, I thought calling someone "skanky" had fallen out of favor years ago! Nice to know it's still common parlance - such a descriptive word!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Wes Clark attacks McCain

My favorite blog, Hullabaloo, nails it as usual (though this is a guest writer, not the owner of the blog):


The unquestionably worst thing about this Wes Clark incident is how it has obscured the rather remarkable statement uttered by a different guest on the very same episode of Face The Nation yesterday, Joe Lieberman.

Joe Lieberman, appearing on Face the Nation today, made the case for McCain with a blunt reminder."Our enemies will test the new president early," said Lieberman. "Remember that the truck bombing of the World Trade Center happened in the first year of the Clinton administration. 9/11 happened in the first year of the Bush administration."

The White House, by the way, endorsed this today. Being the kinder, gentler party of the two, I don't think a single important Democrat went after Joe Lieberman for these comments.

The most basic initiative in this so-called war on terror, to any reasonable individual, would be to seek out those who actually committed the act. Seven years later - seven years - they have been allowed to escape, rebuild, launch attacks, nearly take over large towns in Pakistan and most of the Afghan countryside, and generally return their operation to roughly the same level of force as it was before the 9-11 attacks. There has been no comprehensive strategy in seven years to counteract this.
[ . . . ]
Importantly, the substance of the argument here is never discussed - it's always about who among the political parties terrorism or a more dangerous world benefits, not which political party can bring about less terrorism or a less dangerous world. Because given the primary evidence, there is no possible way that answer can be Republicans.
[ . . . ]
But we're too focused on whether or not a distinguished retired general hurt John McCain's feelings to grapple with this. And Democratic fecklessness in the face of the hissy fit just ensures that such a conversation never takes place. Joe Lieberman, who will speak at the 2008 RNC, probably in a starring, prime-time role, will never face pressure for the comment he made. Wes Clark, who worked to elect his opponent and is as credible a national security voice as there is in the Party, gets the legs cut out from him by its leaders.


Brilliant con

I heard this story on NPR, and then Keith Olbermann covered it tonight in his "Worst Person in the World" segment - he likened it to The Producers - where the con men picked a sure loser so they could close the show and keep the money they raised.

Most recently, this firm raised over a million dollars for a sure loser in Georgia and then billed her for virtually all the money they raised. Apparently this is not illegal, but hopefully that will change. The Boston Globe has been covering this firm's shennanigans in Massachusetts.



. . . A report in the Sunday Globe said that Charles A. Morse, a Brookline Republican, retained BMW Direct Inc., based in Washington, D.C., in 2006 to run against US Representative Barney Frank. BMW Direct raised more than $700,000 in Morse's name and used 96 percent of the money to pay fees to itself, affiliated firms, and its contractors, while Morse barely campaigned and spent $30,000 on his own expenses.

BMW Direct raised more than $100,000 of those contributions in 2006 after Morse had failed to qualify for the general election ballot and suspended his campaign activities. That raised the ire of some contributors who said they would not have sent in their money if they knew Morse was no long running against Frank. BMW Direct has said it thought he was still running an independent write-in campaign.

The pattern in the Morse case has been reflected in other campaigns and political action committees that BMW has contracted with. The list includes work for Republican Ken Chase's failed 2006 challenge of Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, a 2006 congressional campaign in Georgia, and on behalf of a group that sought to raise questions about Senator John F. Kerry's war record during Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign.

"Clearly the donations weren't going to what the donors thought they were going to; it does warrant a look by an appropriate investigative agency," said Pamela Wilmot, executive director of Common Cause of Massachusetts. "The disparity between what was raised and what was actually spent on the campaign could spark fraud statutes."

Harshbarger said BMW Direct's operation was "quite blatant" in skirting campaign finance laws. "It clearly violates the spirit of any campaign finance laws and undermines confidence in our system of political fund-raising," he said. However, the legal issues are far from clear.