Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Don't Let The Accent Fool You

Now, I love a good British accent as much as the next girl - probably more. Yet I can't help but give new Daily Show reporter John Oliver a fair to poor funny rating. He gets more laughs because he's British. My American friends probably understand this phenomenon more than might my British friends. (Actually, right now, at least half my British friends are ever-so politely saying "English. Your English friends . . . .")

Oliver isn't bad - he's got respectably exercised comedic timing, and if he's writing some of his own material, it's not bad. But he gets bigger laughs solely because he delivers lines with an accent. It's a funny facade.

This Halloween, Party Like It's 2004

Tony Snow is scoring easy points for his cowardly, ignorant boss again - using old punching bag Kerry, a decorated war veteran to do it. As usual. Because the best way to hang a lantern on your administrations troubling lack of military experience is to use the lantern to try to set fire to the other guy. Noble, ain't it:

The White House accused Sen. John Kerry on Tuesday of troop-bashing, seizing on a comment the Democrat made to California students that those unable to navigate the country's education system "get stuck in Iraq."

"Senator Kerry not only owes an apology to those who are serving, but also to the families of those who've given their lives in this," White House press secretary Tony Snow said. "This is an absolute insult."
C'mon Tony, how about a little context?

The Massachusetts senator, who is considering another presidential run in 2008, had opened his speech at Pasadena City College with several one-liners, joking at one point that Bush had lived in Texas but now "lives in a state of denial."

Then he said: "You know, education, if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq."
Clearly, Snow's is the only viable interpretation, right? Bastard. So what else has the White House busied itself with this week?

Separately, the White House issued President Bush's Veterans' Day proclamation praising those who have served in the armed forces — a week and a half before the holiday.
Gee, I wonder why? Servicemen's blood is all that keeps this administration afloat, isn't it? Yet when those who have shed blood speak out against war - and specifically against this war, its motivations and leaders - well, that blood just doesn't count. Picky, aren't they.

P.S. John McCain - you're dead to me now. Is it possible that you suffer the same fate as John Kerry? Did you use up all your courage in the war? You deserve respect and admiration for your service and all that you endured, but why, why oh why, do you rise to defend Bush? Why do you back down for the fight for the future? Why do you join the ignorant choruses of those who spread lies and deceive Americans?

A potential rival to Kerry in 2008 — Republican Sen. John McCain — said in a statement that Kerry "owes an apology to the many thousands of Americans serving in Iraq, who answered their country's call because they are patriots and not because of any deficiencies in their education."
Oh you effing morons, is it possible that as part of a greater rant against George Bush and playing off the inadequacies of his educational background (gentleman's Cs, anyone?), that Senator Kerry, decorated veteran, implied that if you do not learn your history, your military strategy, or any of life's basic lessons, that you lead your armies into battle and get them stuck there? If we were all smarter WE - the royal, all of us in it together we - wouldn't be stuck in Iraq. I see nothing wrong with that statement.

And frankly, even if he meant it the other way, it'd be true as well. It'd have been better if he swapped smart for "cowardly" - then he'd really be on to something - but I don't recall Bush and Cheney getting their feet muddied anywhere.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Peculiar Northern Issues

Next year, our Daylight Savings Time will start earlier in the year and end later. In England, where summer time starts a bit earlier than has ours to this point, there are renewed calls for keeping the +1 summer schedule throughout the year, and raising that to a +2 in the summer months.

The Scots, as usual, hate the English idea. They are so far up that what would add some daylight to school kids' homeward commute would keep their kids in the dark during the morning. Latitude's a bitch.

Thursday, October 26, 2006


I'm supposed to care about Grey's Anatomy when they toss me a rerun after 3 new episodes?

As if.

What - is it baseball? The world series? When it's a west-v-west series, I'm supposed to put up with a nation's worth of "who cares no one will watch" condescension but two midwestern teams and we rerun basic programming. What am I supposed to scorn tonight?

(And The Office? And Earl? All reruns? Booo!)

Monday, October 23, 2006

'You're A Lawyer, Aren't You.'

(Bonus points if you can identify the source of the title quote.)

An anon-lawyer comments on OC Lettergate and how "A reasonable NATURALIZED immigrant could not possibly have been deterred from voting based on this letter."

I could not possibly disagree more. Add your two-cents, if you're so inclined.

Stags In The News

After 3 fellow Claremonters sent me the link to the following article, I have no choice but to post it. Not that I wouldn't have posted it. Sorry I was slow. Here you go: Fantasy Sports? Child’s Play. Here, Politics Is the Game.

. . . Now, she and fellow policy buffs have an outlet for their competitive urges. Fantasy Congress, a Web site created by four students at Claremont McKenna College in Southern California, made its debut three weeks ago. Through word of mouth and blog entries, it has attracted nearly 600 participants from states including Texas and Florida, from as far away as Denmark and, of course, from the Beltway.
Atta boys. Go Stags.

Update: Apparently, this story was #1 on the "Most Emailed" list at NYT yesterday. Rock on!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Yet Another Reason To Avoid The Boy Scouts

L.A. Boy Scouts new merit badge: 'Respect Copyrights'

Grey's Morality

Or lack there of.

I keep watching Grey's Anatomy because human beings can't avoid watching train wrecks. The series started promisingly: interesting looking people, fantastic soundtrack, Patrick Dempsey as a freakin' sex symbol. Yet the first season's novelty has quickly worn down into a nighttime suds-fest where the lack of moral grounding leaves the various arcs and storylines wobbling further and further from the center.

Make no mistake: this people are deeply, deeply confused. Not the normal medical drama confusion either. They come close to it - one patient is 17 seconds more senior on the transplant list, but what does that mean anyway; two patients are impaled on a steel rod, only one can survive; a scared woman leaves a bomb in the hands of another - self preservation vs. oaths and yadda yadda yadda.

These people, it became clear last night, have no soul. They have navels into which they peer with the intensity I'd rather hope they'd reserve for examinig x-rays or lab results during normal business hours. I don't fault them totally - it's their writers who should be taken out and beaten down.

Perhaps no episode has so well illustrated this complete moral confusing than last night's "Oh, the Guilt" which treated viewers to that old dramatic standby: do I confess an affair or do I stay mum? We've built to this point, of course. But the writers keep switching the rules of the game on us. They aren't carefully revealing character traits or narrative information, they are straight up rewriting the rules. That's not cool.

Follow along: McDreamy has a relationship with Meredith after he leaves the wife he loved and discovered in bed with his best friend. Yes, he is still married when he is with Meredith, so technically, he shouldn't be with her. But in today's divorce-friendly society where such technicalities are just that, technicalities, my guess is that 90% of viewers have no problem with the relationship because his marriage is,
except for the paperwork, over. Enter Addison. She's guilty. She wantshim back. So we go an entire season believing McDreamy is the good guy, doing right by his marital contract. We get one scene of a crying, horrified Addison - a scene meant to con the audience into believing that she isn't such a cheating bitch. It was one time. But it was still one time.

So then we get a mad McDreamy-Mer fumble and suddenly that pairing is no longer okay because we got a flashback that shows him coldly walking out on Addison - after she f-ed his best friend - but no mind. The writers give Addison the moral high ground so she can torment Meredith with the panties thing. Say what? Then Shephard goes to do the right thing, but Addy is back in the sack with the former best friend. And we're STILL supposed to buy that Shepard actually thinks his "relationship" made him
equally culpable for the dissolution of his marriage?

As if.

Now to the real point: last night, in the faux idealistic, traditional Hollywood manner, characters had to "come clean." It was the right thing to do. It was noble.

It was complete and utter bullshit.

Poor Derek, who was content to end his marriage and move on with life -mooning all day over Meredith and blithely going about his business, gets slammed to the ground by Addison who just cannot resist turning the knife one more time because she was just SO GUILTY over getting a brownstone. A brownstone. Just couldn't let it go. Just couldn't gift it back to him. Couldn't sell it and make a charitable donation in Derek's name. Just. had. to. tell. him. knowing full well that Derek's sole reason for being is looking noble - saving lives, doing the right thing by his women, etc - he LOVES it.

Even shows touted as being very real in their depictions of human interaction rely on a moral center in the show. Some kind of compass figure to give the audience a sense of perspective. It might be overkill to say a show like this seeks to teach us something, yet, all shows seek to deliver some sort of message. Whatever this one is trying to tell me, I don't know.

Except maybe for this: it's okay to be a selfish asshole 100% of the time. There are few repercussions because even if someone is hurt, you'll get to sit around and feel guilty. And stare at that lovely, concave navel again.

I think Derek and the gang jumped the shark last night. They can all be miserable and attempt to feel better without reforming themselves by confessing all their transgressions to each other, but I won't necessarily stick around to watch.

Afterthought: First, this is entirely too long a post on a television show. Second, it is possible that Bailey is the moral center. At one point during last night's episode, she very rightly told her idiot interns that they didn't get to apologize, they didn't get to shed their guilt. Damn straight. Now if only she could get the other grown-ups to abide by the same rules.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

What's In A Name

Recently, as you may have read, about 14,000 Democratic voters in central Orange County who happen to have last names like mine received a rather unfriendly letter. Unsurprisingly, officials investigated its source and are now calling for Rep. Loretta Sanchez's opponent, Tan D. Nguyen, to drop out of his [doomed] House bid. But as I read coverage of this developing story, I keep stumbling over the same part:

State and federal officials were investigating the letter, which was written in Spanish and mailed to an estimated 14,000 Democratic voters in central Orange County. It warns, "You are advised that if your residence in this country is illegal or you are an immigrant, voting in a federal election is a crime that could result in jail time."

Immigrants who are adult naturalized citizens are eligible to vote.
[Emphasis added.] As the article says, clearly, "immigrants" are by definition naturalized citizens who would then be eligible to register and to cast votes.

The letter's particularly sinister effect, of course, is to imply that even immigrants - those here legally and eligible to vote (if they've registered, etc) - are ineligible in the same way as those here illegally would be ineligible. As the article points out, a lot of effort goes into bringing immigrants into the political process and encouraging them to vote - so this kind letter draws its potential power right from the natural confusion facing some immigrants who are still navigating the rights and benefits of citizenship.

But here's the thing. If we hadn't, in our effort to scrub clean our language, swapped illegal immigrant for the un-PC illegal aliens moniker, would this letter have been as effective?

There's a lot of intra-community fighting right now, a lot of presumptions and misperceptions, about what The Latino Voter thinks and wants. There's a tendency as well to lump all Hispanics/Latinos/Mexican/Mexican Americans/pick this week's term (I don't even know what to call myself half the time) into one "pro-immigration" category that then gets used to paint us as soft-on-border-security and hippie-loving, knee-jerk lefty freaks.

Except that's wrong.

There's a world of difference between immigrants and those here illegally. That difference absolutely is not accurately conveyed right now with the terms immigration and illegal immigration. Illegal immigrants are not immigrants. They are here illegally.

So why aren't we calling it like it is? At one time, the thinking must have gone that softening "illegal alien" to "illegal immigrant" would humanize immigration policy and the view on those here illegally. Except I think we liberal types might have dug our own graves on that one. Now, no one understands what "immigrant" actually means - and the hundreds of thousands of people who have immigrated to this country have a lot more unnecessary explaining to do and a lot more of other people's baggage to work around.

Of course, we'll never really reform anything language-wise. This is why it's best to avoid rebranding our language. We can't control it too long and the natural consequence is, well, the Bush Administration which has seldom used a word correctly in nearly 6 years.

A side note of interest: this Nguyen guy is also an immigrant - one who used to be a Democrat, at that.

To Get Politics Out Of Science, Simply Get Rid Of Science

See, because if there's no science, then politics can't get into it.

Make sense to you? Makes sense to at least one Republican congressman.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid.

Number one on today's list of most-emailed NYT articles is this one - presented in its entireyy for those of you who won't register and read it yourselves:

October 17, 2006
Op-Ed Contributor
Can You Tell a Sunni From a Shiite?

FOR the past several months, I’ve been wrapping up lengthy interviews with Washington counterterrorism officials with a fundamental question: “Do you know the difference between a Sunni and a Shiite?”

A “gotcha” question? Perhaps. But if knowing your enemy is the most basic rule of war, I don’t think it’s out of bounds. And as I quickly explain to my subjects, I’m not looking for theological explanations, just the basics: Who’s on what side today, and what does each want?

After all, wouldn’t British counterterrorism officials responsible for Northern Ireland know the difference between Catholics and Protestants? In a remotely similar but far more lethal vein, the 1,400-year Sunni-Shiite rivalry is playing out in the streets of Baghdad, raising the specter of a breakup of Iraq into antagonistic states, one backed by Shiite Iran and the other by Saudi Arabia and other Sunni states.

A complete collapse in Iraq could provide a haven for Al Qaeda operatives within striking distance of Israel, even Europe. And the nature of the threat from Iran, a potential nuclear power with protégés in the Gulf states, northern Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories, is entirely different from that of Al Qaeda. It seems silly to have to argue that officials responsible for counterterrorism should be able to recognize opportunities for pitting these rivals against each other.

But so far, most American officials I’ve interviewed don’t have a clue. That includes not just intelligence and law enforcement officials, but also members of Congress who have important roles overseeing our spy agencies. How can they do their jobs without knowing the basics?

My curiosity about our policymakers’ grasp of Islam’s two major branches was piqued in 2005, when Jon Stewart and other TV comedians made hash out of depositions, taken in a whistleblower case, in which top F.B.I. officials drew blanks when asked basic questions about Islam. One of the bemused officials was Gary Bald, then the bureau’s counterterrorism chief. Such expertise, Mr. Bald maintained, wasn’t as important as being a good manager.

A few months later, I asked the F.B.I.’s spokesman, John Miller, about Mr. Bald’s comments. “A leader needs to drive the organization forward,” Mr. Miller told me. “If he is the executive in a counterterrorism operation in the post-9/11 world, he does not need to memorize the collected statements of Osama bin Laden, or be able to read Urdu to be effective. ... Playing ‘Islamic Trivial Pursuit’ was a cheap shot for the lawyers and a cheaper shot for the journalist. It’s just a gimmick.”

Of course, I hadn’t asked about reading Urdu or Mr. bin Laden’s writings.

A few weeks ago, I took the F.B.I.’s temperature again. At the end of a long interview, I asked Willie Hulon, chief of the bureau’s new national security branch, whether he thought that it was important for a man in his position to know the difference between Sunnis and Shiites. “Yes, sure, it’s right to know the difference,” he said. “It’s important to know who your targets are.”

That was a big advance over 2005. So next I asked him if he could tell me the difference. He was flummoxed. “The basics goes back to their beliefs and who they were following,” he said. “And the conflicts between the Sunnis and the Shia and the difference between who they were following.”

O.K., I asked, trying to help, what about today? Which one is Iran — Sunni or Shiite? He thought for a second. “Iran and Hezbollah,” I prompted. “Which are they?”

He took a stab: “Sunni.”


Al Qaeda? “Sunni.”


AND to his credit, Mr. Hulon, a distinguished agent who is up nights worrying about Al Qaeda while we safely sleep, did at least know that the vicious struggle between Islam’s Abel and Cain was driving Iraq into civil war. But then we pay him to know things like that, the same as some members of Congress.

Take Representative Terry Everett, a seven-term Alabama Republican who is vice chairman of the House intelligence subcommittee on technical and tactical intelligence.

“Do you know the difference between a Sunni and a Shiite?” I asked him a few weeks ago.

Mr. Everett responded with a low chuckle. He thought for a moment: “One’s in one location, another’s in another location. No, to be honest with you, I don’t know. I thought it was differences in their religion, different families or something.”

To his credit, he asked me to explain the differences. I told him briefly about the schism that developed after the death of the Prophet Muhammad, and how Iraq and Iran are majority Shiite nations while the rest of the Muslim world is mostly Sunni. “Now that you’ve explained it to me,” he replied, “what occurs to me is that it makes what we’re doing over there extremely difficult, not only in Iraq but that whole area.”

Representative Jo Ann Davis, a Virginia Republican who heads a House intelligence subcommittee charged with overseeing the C.I.A.’s performance in recruiting Islamic spies and analyzing information, was similarly dumbfounded when I asked her if she knew the difference between Sunnis and Shiites.

“Do I?” she asked me. A look of concentration came over her face. “You know, I should.” She took a stab at it: “It’s a difference in their fundamental religious beliefs. The Sunni are more radical than the Shia. Or vice versa. But I think it’s the Sunnis who’re more radical than the Shia.”

Did she know which branch Al Qaeda’s leaders follow?

“Al Qaeda is the one that’s most radical, so I think they’re Sunni,” she replied. “I may be wrong, but I think that’s right.”

Did she think that it was important, I asked, for members of Congress charged with oversight of the intelligence agencies, to know the answer to such questions, so they can cut through officials’ puffery when they came up to the Hill?

“Oh, I think it’s very important,” said Ms. Davis, “because Al Qaeda’s whole reason for being is based on their beliefs. And you’ve got to understand, and to know your enemy.”

It’s not all so grimly humorous. Some agency officials and members of Congress have easily handled my “gotcha” question. But as I keep asking it around Capitol Hill and the agencies, I get more and more blank stares. Too many officials in charge of the war on terrorism just don’t care to learn much, if anything, about the enemy we’re fighting. And that’s enough to keep anybody up at night.

Jeff Stein is the national security editor at Congressional Quarterly.

Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

And in case you now want to bone up on the basic facts - Sunni; Shiite.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Wait, Then You Really Can Be Too Thin?

This article on plus-size models and soon-to-be-banned twigs practically forms a pretzel on the screen for all its twisty inconsistencies. I say "nearly" because pretzels are just full of carbs. An article on models would never stand for such a thing.

At any rate - if I get a chance I'll comment on it further - but for the time being, any thoughts? Do you have a problem saying this creeps you out? But what about this?

The Classics Never Get Old

Neither classic books, nor classic jokes, nor classic post topics . . .

Phoblog reader pop-quiz:

True or False - I would agree with the following statement, taken from a reader comment: A politician is not supposed to be an educator, they are supposed to act as an agent for the people who elected them and then they are supposed to be accountable at election time.

Okay, clarifying point - to fully answer the question requires knowing more about the intended meaning of "agent." So first, define "agent." Then answer the question. Be sure to explain your answer.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Sarah Paulson, I Think I Just Fell In Love With You A Little

Dear Aaron Sorkin,

Tonight, for the first time, I really liked Studio 60. Enough to know that if - okay, when - it gets nixed, I'll miss it. There were stories about people tonight. I wasn't sure about the whole bible-crossed lovers thing. All that whining was getting old fast. On this ep, however, Harriet became a person. Sure it was through a tired, Sorkin-approved, here-use-this-clear-audience-surrogate-to-foward-the-narrative, but hey, when the story comes out so sweetly and so well acted, who can focus the rightful amount of ire on Christine "Don't Call Me C.J." Lahti's smug journo? Not me.

And the comedy! Okay, the Nicolas Cage bit went on WAY too long and wasn't funny. But the Nancy Grace bit - that was pretty good. Sarah Paulson's surprisingly good timing and expressive face are wasted in the genre, but if I let myself get lost in the show, well, brilliant. Too bad about SNL having its own Nancy Grace bit recently. Then again, that unholy, bellowing cow deserves all the skewering she can get, so lance on. That Jenny doesn't have a baby - or whatever - bit was good. Perhaps just because it rang a tad too close to home [readers: stuff the bio-clock jokes, women get why those jokes aren't actually funny or accurate. Men don't.] Lauren Graham had better material here than on her on show lately. True story! Note that the only funny show-within bits thus far have featured Harriet. Life imitating art imitating life? Who gives a crap. Start cutting all that other un-funny stuff you try so hard to convince us is funny. It never will be. Sparingly, Mr. Sorkin. Sparingly.

But anyway, thanks for showing that you can still write a damn good bit of talk and do so for people with real chemistry.

Too bad I still don't have much hope for the show. But I thought tonight was sweet, even as it remains sweetly flawed. I cared about the characters for the first time. And about T.V. And America. [unfurl Patton flag here.]


p.s. When it becomes available - check out the reel of last night's The Word on The Colbert Report. It pretty much captures my problem with American politics today.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

There's A Better Question Here

The Chron's question: Has the mayor's new girlfriend, who is only 20, been drinking?

My question: Should I care?

Though, in all seriousness, this does raise an important question about the Mayor's taste in women. Apparently, chickie had a myspace page that magically aged her from 19 to 26 overnight. Don't date people with myspace pages who are too politically naive to know that said page will be sought out and used against her - and him - in a court of public opinion.

Dear world: myspace is a public website. Anything you say there can, and will, be used against you in every way possible.

Back to the original question - I suppose the dutiful public servant's response is to decry her actions and pledge anew to uphold the rule of law. But the Italian in me says, honestly? Is this what we're going to use against him? Or her for that matter?

Which, by the way, reminds me: I really hate that the stupid pagegate situation is going to work possibly to unseat and disgrace some Reeps. "What did you know and when did you know it" seems so much more appropriate question about, like, say, I don't know, the f*cking Iraq war and our reasons for starting it? But sexy chat messages are so much easier to understand, condemn, and discuss. To my elementary school teachers who stiffed me on my "effort" grades (the achievement grades were As, thank you very much) - SEE! I told you so. The real rewards go to the easy winners - the ones who can convince us to focus on the dancing idiot and ignore the people killing hundreds of thousands in the name of . . . . hell, something, I can't remember anymore. I will thank my math teachers, however, for teaching me how to find the lowest common denominator. This is apparently the most important skill to getting yourself ahead in media and politics these days.

Thank god I don't have to think about foreign policy anymore.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Crap, Did Blake Get Shot Too?

Oh, what a lucky day for an American politico/TV junkie to be in England!

Last night, I caught the premiere of the controversial Death of a President - a docudrama, er, mockudrama, in which George W. Bush is assassinated in October of 2007. The mock-up looks back from an unknown near-future point and describes the immediate reaction to the incident.

If you get a chance to see the film - I don't know if there are plans to air it here - you should watch over the President's shoulder in the seconds before he gets it. Look! There's CMC non-grad and soon to be Harvard MBA student Blake Gottesman! He has a blue tie on and another victim felled by an assassin's bullet also wore a blue tie. I don't think it was actually him, but still. It's weird either way.

The film cuts archival footage of presidential speeches and appearances and mixes it with somber, mood-lit interviews with FBI and Secret Service agents, the wife of a possible assassin, and a family torn apart by the both Iraq wars.

The film avoids commenting on the international reaction to such an event and only vaguely alludes to what else has gone on in the world between now and October 2007. For American students of political science, popular culture, or current events, it will seem very much like the foreign film that it is. It winks at PATRIOT act content and extentions, anti-Muslim bias and resulting witch-hunting, uses Cheney/Syria as a thinly veiled analog for Bush/Iraq - and does it all with about 70% efficacy in getting its wink-wink-nudge-nudge message across. I'm still not sure what the take-away is other than Chicago breeds violent political demonstrations (1968, anyone?).

My English hosts were a bit shocked at the film and a nearly apologetic about it. I was fascinated at the chance to watch such a thing in a foreign country - so the academic aspect exceeded any patriotic indignation I might have felt. I certainly, duh, wouldn't cheer such a real event. In the wry-sense, it would prevent me from seeing him impeached (won't happen anyway). In the real sense - killing is bad. I'm against the war - more bloodshed doesn't help the cause. And, of course, making him a martyr leads to very bad things indeed. The film didn't get close to any of that either.

I'm back in the States now, eating mac'n'cheese out of fiestaware and feeling very American. But, as with each of these trips, more a part of the world than before.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Ugly Betty, Uglier Music

I'd like this show 100% more if they ditched the Housewives soundtrack - I hate that other show, no need to be reminded of it with a set of hit-em-over-the-head-obvious musical cues.

And yes, I understand the melodramatic source material, but no, that's not a viable excuse here.

And, just in case you hadn't had your fill of The Devil Wears Panchos, you'll get an explanation of "The Book" in this ep.

And, one more thing: the British invasion continues - UK's Dawn plays an E!-ish Reporter. Cheerio.

On second thought: The music might not matter. The storyline tonight is tedious. That might be an understatement. Nothing that has happened so far couldn't have easily fit into a half-hour sitcom. On the Disney Channel, it'd be fun. On network TV - crap, it's boring. Too bad. America Ferrera is wonderful. Okay, start by easing of the music and maybe I'll give it another week for her.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

What Does This Mean Exactly?

I think it means not only is this guy a wrong-headed sonofabitch, but he's also a weasel who will take spaghetti approach to salvaging his (his party's?) ass.

Check out this article on Foley's disclosure that he was sexually abused - by, you guessed it, a priest.

I'm not saying it didn't happen. But it's potential excuse number 2. Reason - perhaps. Excuse - absolutely not.

Same with the rehab trip. Is he an alcoholic? Maybe - but there's an undercurrent of implication out there that rehab is a PR bandaid meant to make him look like he's proactively addressing his demons. Foley's lawyer says Foley was never under the influence of alcohol while conducting business on the Hill, but "couldn't explain his previous statement that Foley was intoxicated when he sent the messages."

Wait, the lawyer's previous statements, or Foley's? If it was the lawyer's statement, was the lawyer just trying to save his client's ass, truth be damned?

But there's a larger problem here. Much, much larger:

Attorney David Roth said Foley was molested between ages 13 and 15. He declined to identify the clergyman or the church, but Foley is Roman Catholic.

He also acknowledged for the first time that the former congressman is gay, saying the disclosure was part of his client's "recovery."

"Mark Foley wants you to know he is a gay man," Roth told reporters as Republicans struggled with fallout from Foley's resignation.

Foley "does not blame the trauma he sustained as a young adolescent for his totally inappropriate e-mails" and instant messages, Roth said. "He continues to offer no excuse whatsoever for his conduct."
So let's get this, uh, straight. Once again, we have a story linking homosexuality with pedophilia. (Oh, the lawyer also says "Any suggestion that Mark Foley is a pedophile is false." Apparently, talky-no-touchy is A-Okay!) But there are more popular, dangerous narratives imbeded in this story.

Repressed sexuality makes you want to fondle kids. Homosexuals are pedophiles. Priests who are celibate have no choice but to fondle children. Catholics and homosexuals are sexualy repressed and would you just LOOK at the consequences. Excuse the free-association, but this article may make me vomit any second.

How does Foley not become an excuse for GOP bashing? Make him gay! Make him come out as gay! Then he isn't really one of them anyway. Was he gay all along, sure, yeah, everyone seems to wink-nod-wink know Foley is gay. Now, he "wants [us] to know he is a gay man."

So someone here is genius or slime. Or genius slime. Or a slimey genius. Either Foley is hoping - in the grand, ostrichy, but-I'm-an-elected-official tradition - to salvage his clearly ended public career OR GOP leaders need to make this guy such a horrible, defective other, that he can't possibly be connected to another human. Ever.

The numerous ways in which this highlights the existance of true immorality in our government is awesome. Not amorality. IMmorality. Not only do we have his actions to consider, but now we have this nuanced, elegantly sinister dance of irresponsibility. Make sure you're listening to what's really being said here. It should make you sick.

Monday, October 02, 2006

I Hope Professor Bilger Is Smiling

She is if she just watched the Studio 60 opener in which Amanda Peet's Jordan (questionably dressed for the first time in the series so far) references several classic comedic eras - placing Restoration comedy in both the right century (17th) and country (England).

And the skilled, understated Lucy Davis, The UK Office's Dawn (that'd be our Pam), makes an appearance. Between Davis on Studio 60 and Extra's Ashley Jensen turning up on ABC's Ugly Betty, I'm afraid the Brits will be out of funny ladies shortly.

Where To Begin . . . .

Winking Jesus: Local residents claim this image of the character known as "Buddy Christ" was left by U.S. forces after an early-morning raid in Baghdad's Sadr City.

This was part of the Day in Pictures over at the Chron today. I'm not sure what's the funniest or most disconcerting part of this image and caption pairing; could be either part, or both parts together. The image is, in fact, The Buddy Christ, from Kevin Smith's fine film, Dogma.

As you can tell, the Buddy Christ isn't exactly the average image of Jesus. So if it's a faked photo, the locals made an interesting, enlightened really, choice. If our boys left it behind, well, hard to know where to sart on that - but I think the end is somewhere far from the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Hatchery Bans Release Of Teddy Bears

Killer Teddy Bear Leaves 2,500 Fish Dead

Ah, the news . . . .

Why I Wouldn't Trust Ask.com - A Phoblog Nitpickers Report

So Ask.com is making a push to grab some of Google's market share with a major ad campaign describing its unique features - like previews of pages before you navigate to them (for people just too lazy to reach for the Back button).

So what's the problem?

In one ad, their PR firm uses the tried and true rule that Americans Love Monkeys - or apes or any primates, that is. Some research scientist holds an orangutan while getting a demonstration of Ask's new "tools." The message: tools are good. If we don't use tools, we would be uncivilized. Animal-like. Tools separate us from that orangutan, which of course, har har, speaks up to emphasize the point. Talking primates - we love those even more!

Unfortunately, as a simple Ask.com search confirms, orangutans do use tools, like many of our primate cousins. Sticks pull insects out of hiding places. Leaves serve a variety of functions. Primates (and many other animals) use tools all the time.

So, Ask.com, your ads do little to make me want to trust your site, since even you don't fact check your ads. They do make me feel bad for biologists, zoologists, and anthropologists who must weep for the lack of interest in animals and fun facts.

Nitpicking? Sure. But random facts are my passion, advertising a hobby, and when I have a chance to link the two, well, I will.

The TV Report

Don't count NBC out quite yet. The once supreme now struggling network scored a win for the meta-happy critics everywhere this evening as they brilliantly executed a high-brow comedic stunt that embodied the kind of corporate synergy tying together expansive network products.

See if you can follow: NBC's uber-hyped, prodigal-drama-returneth Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip this week featured a scene in which writers at the stuggling, fictionalized show-with-in-a-show throwing out clunker after clunker to knew head honchos Matt and Danny. President Bush blah blah, government blah blah, cigar, whatever. Each fell flatter than, uh, anything really, really flat.

So tonight, SNL ran skits with practically the same material! Terrible, unfunny. That Dane Cook guy - the one who isn't funny but I bet has a mySpace page and a million "friends?" He sucked! See what NBC is doing? They're using SNL as a "metaphor" for the drama on Studio 60. NBC has taken cross-over gimmicks to the next level. This is paradigm changing television here. Woo, NBC, I didn't know you had it in you.

What? Oh, it wasn't? Huh. Go figure.

But Brian Williams was funny. Hire that guy why don't you.