Friday, March 30, 2007

FAREWELL PAZ (1990-2007)

Becky had little Paz put to sleep on Wednesday. Here's some of what she wrote about it on her myspace blog:

At 17, her little body finally gave out. No specific disease, she just lost the desire to eat or drink, and veterinary attempts to change that the past couple of weeks didn't work. She became paralyzed sometime in the middle of the night, and my waivering about when to have her put to sleep was decided for me.

I adopted Paz from the Houston SPCA in December of 1990. She picked me, because as I approached her cage, she stuck out her paw and waved me down. Reaching out and pawing me for attention was something she did until just a couple of days before she died.

Paz moved from Houston to San Francisco with me in 1993, then back to Houston in 1995, then several places around Houston until I moved to Baton Rouge in 2003, and finally to New Orleans this past Labor Day. She was a good traveller and seldom complained. She adapted to new environments easily, and never got carsick.

Paz loved it when someone would whistle the Andy Griffith theme song, or "Pennies From Heaven". She was known to sing along with a great sense of timing.

Click here for the rest.

I knew Paz for ten of her seventeen years, and I was lucky enough to live with her for five of those years. She really was a wonderful little kitty. Becky never liked my doing it, but I always enjoyed squeezing Paz's tail, which often made her meow really loudly--it was my and Paz's little thing. She was one of those cats who seemed to have wisdom beyond what her feline status would allow. She could communicate a great deal of information with a simple look, and as she got older she played her role as tribal elder very nicely, offering her opinion on matters at hand when she was moved to do so.

I'll never forget how she grieved for my longtime cat Giskard when he died back in 2003. Giskard was extraordinarily hostile toward Paz and her companion cat Phil when Becky and I moved in together back in 2001, but after a while, Pazzie and Giskard-Kitty became fascinated with each other from a distance. When it was clear to her that he was gone forever, she ran around meowing on and off for hours. It made me feel a little better to know that I wasn't the only one whose life had been severely disrupted by his passing.

Becky picked up Paz's ashes from the vet earlier today.

From "The Once Again Prince" by Irving Townsend:

We who choose to surround ourselves with lives even more temporary than our own live within a fragile circle, easily and often breached. Unable to accept its awful gaps, we still would live no other way. We cherish memory as the only certain immortality, never fully understanding the necessary plan.
Goodbye Paz; I'll always love you, little girl.


"...urging a global prohibition on the public defamation of religion..."

From the AP via the Huffington Post courtesy of AlterNet:

Islamic countries pushed through a resolution at the U.N. Human Rights Council on Friday urging a global prohibition on the public defamation of religion _ a response largely to the furor last year over caricatures published in a Danish newspaper of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad.

The statement proposed by the Organization of Islamic Conference addressed what it called a "campaign" against Muslim minorities and the Islamic religion around the world since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States.

The resolution, which was opposed by a number of other non-Muslim countries, "expresses deep concern at attempts to identify Islam with terrorism, violence and human rights violations."

It makes no mention of any other religion besides Islam, but urges countries "to take resolute action to prohibit the dissemination of racist and xenophobic ideas and material aimed at any religion or its followers that constitute incitement and religious hatred, hostility, or violence."

Click here for more.

While I like trying to do something about the scapegoating of Muslims, I'm very troubled by this particular approach.

Back in the early 90s, when gay political activists were toying with the idea of targeting certain churches for their hateful AIDS pronouncements, my father, a fundamentalist Christian, told me that if you took the word "Christian" out of these activists' rhetoric and replaced it with the word "black," they would have absolutely no mainstream support. This is essentially the same kind of argument pushing forward this ill-considered UN resolution.

In order to give religion the same kind of status and respect as ethnicity, you have to completely ignore the fact that religion is inherently ideological. Yes, religion has some very strong cultural elements, and, to be sure, it is often deeply intertwined with ethnicity--in Texas, for instance, many Latinos are Catholic, and, obviously, most Arabs are Muslims. Furthermore, religion is deeply embedded in the individual identities of the faithful--attacking one's religion is often taken as attacking everybody who adheres to that religion. One ought to be respectful of people's religious affiliations, if only because it is polite to do so. But being a Christian or a Muslim is just not the same thing as being black or white. Nobody ever insists that everybody ought to be black; nobody ever insists that everybody ought to be white. No one believes that you are immoral or damned to Hell if you don't adhere to God's favorite ethnicity or race--well, okay, some people do, but they're marginalized idiots, and nobody's really listening to them.

Religions, especially Christianity and Islam, on the other hand, are exactly the opposite. Many religions aggressively insert themselves into the public sphere, often demanding that non-believers make themselves accountable to gods in which they do not believe. That is, religions tell people what to do and how to live their lives. That's blatantly political in nature, and, needless to say, political behavior is always in desperate need of heavy criticism. In other words, religion plays a dual role as both culture and ideology. It is generally unfair to defame culture, but it is honorable and desirable to defame ideology that is perceived as damaging or destructive. And because politics are so utterly subjective, it is often difficult to distinguish between attacks on culture and attacks on ideology when it comes to religion.

In short, if religion wants to join the political fray, religion simply has to deal with it. My take is that I need to be careful when criticizing religion, trying to avoid cheap shots and the like, but being brutal when it comes to ideology. But like I said, it's all very subjective, which is why this UN resolution is a really, really, really bad idea.

It's ironic that my dad, who seemed so angry that these activists were going after his own religion, always used to tell me when I was a kid that "if you play rough, you've got to expect to get hurt."


U2's Bono awarded British knighthood

From the AP via Yahoo courtesy of AlterNet:

Bono, 46, was named a Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in an informal, laugh-filled ceremony in the Dublin home of British Ambassador David Reddaway.

"You have permission to call me anything you want — except sir, all right? Lord of lords, your demigodness, that'll do," he told reporters afterward.

Because he is an Irish citizen, Bono won't have the title of "sir" before his name. That honor is reserved for citizens of the United Kingdom or British Commonwealth countries. Ireland left the Commonwealth when it became a republic in 1949.

Click here for the rest.

Well, I suppose it's about time that Brit rockers from when I was in high school and college start getting such honors. I mean, McCartney and Jagger were knighted years ago. When did Geldof get it? And Bono really does deserve the recognition. I don't really think that his activism has done much to dramatically change the way the world works, but his pact with American Nazi Jesse Helms to reduce third world debt is worth at least some kind of noble status.

Who's next? Robert Smith? Morrissey? Peter Murphy? Elvis Costello? That guy from the Eurythmics? Make 'em all knights, I say!

(AP Photo/Julien Behal/PA)


Ex-aide: Gonzales approved prosecutors' firings

From the AP via the Houston Chronicle:

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales was briefed regularly over two years on the firings of federal prosecutors, his former top aide said today, disputing Gonzales' claims he was not closely involved with the dismissals.

The testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee by Kyle Sampson, the attorney general's former chief of staff, newly undercut Gonzales' already shaky credibility.

Gonzales and former White House counsel Harriet Miers made the final decision on whether to fire the U.S. attorneys last year, Sampson said.

"I don't think the attorney general's statement that he was not involved in any discussions of U.S. attorney removals was accurate," Sampson told the committee as it inquired into whether the dismissals were politically motivated.

"I remember discussing with him this process of asking certain U.S. attorneys to resign," Sampson said.

Sampson's testimony for the first time put Gonzales at the heart of the firings amid ever-changing Justice Department accounts of how they were planned.

Click here for more.

Now, because I haven't been following this latest White House scandal as closely as I could I might be wrong on this, but I got the impression that AG Gonzales didn't deny involvement at simply a few press conferences; rather, he denied before Congress that he had anything to do with these US attorney firings while under oath. Like I said, I may be wrong, but if I'm right that's perjury. You know, perjury, the crime that Republicans in the House thought was bad enough to warrant impeaching President Clinton. Only this time, it's not about blowjobs. It's about political interference in the judicial process.

Why the hell is old "Waterboard" Gonzales still in office?


Thursday, March 29, 2007

Circuit City to cut nearly 3,500 jobs

From the AP via the Houston Chronicle:

Circuit City Stores Inc. said today it plans to cut costs by laying off about 3,400 store workers and hiring lower-paid employees to replace them, and by trimming about 130 corporate jobs.

Its shares rose 3 percent in morning trading.

Circuit City, the nation's No. 2 consumer electronics retailer behind Best Buy Co. Inc., the store workers being laid off were earning "well above the market-based salary range for their role." They will be replaced with employees who will be paid at the current market range, the company said in a news release.

Click here for the rest.

Well, clearly, this makes good business sense. Sort of. I mean, their stock shot up three points in only a few hours. On the other hand, you've just got to wonder what this does to employees' psyches. It's fair to assume that the reason these workers "were earning 'well above the market-based salary range'" is because they'd paid their dues, staying with Circuit City for enough years to get raises and whatnot. Firing them sends a clear corporate message: we don't give a shit about your loyalty and hard work; fuck off. And that message isn't simply to Circuit City workers. The stock surge shows that the entire corporate world thinks this way. They don't give a damn at all about how hard you work, or how many years you've put into the company. Higher wages and a better future are just out of the question.

How long is it going to take until Americans start to realize that if businesses don't give a shit about their employees, that workers shouldn't give a shit about their employers? That is, you're a fool if you don't take your boss for everything you can get, because you can be damned sure he's trying to do the same thing to you.

Somehow these wage-based firings don't seem like such a good idea in the long run.


Creation "Science" Is the Christian
Right's Trojan Horse Against Reason

From AlterNet:

The danger of creationism is that, like the pseudo-science of Nazi eugenics, it allows facts to be accepted or discarded according to the dictates of a preordained ideology. Creationism removes the follower from the rational, reality-based world. Signs, miracles and wonders occur not only in the daily life of Christians but in history, science, medicine and logic. The belief system becomes the basis to understand the world. Random facts and data are collected and made to fit into this belief system or discarded. When facts are treated as if they were opinions, when there is no universal standard to determine truth, in law, in science, in scholarship, or in the reporting of the events of the day, the world becomes a place where people can believe what they want to believe, where there is no possibility of reaching any conclusion not predetermined by those who interpret the official, divinely inspired text. This is the goal of creationists.

Click here for more.

Last Christmas, my younger brother, a conservative Christian, was saying that high school biology classes ought to "teach the controversy" over evolution and creationism. My response was that such a topic, which I do consider worth teaching to high school students, is much more suited to a religion or philosophy class. He persisted, so I observed that within science, there is no controversy, and including creationism in biology is tantamount to undermining science education in general. Nothing I said was persuasive to him.

This is pretty much the attitude among all creationists, as far as I can tell. They don't really appear to understand how science functions at its most elementary levels, which for them is just as well, I suppose, because such an understanding would make their religious belief in "creation" all the more difficult to maintain. And that's the problem. Creationism, and its advancement in the public sphere, isn't really about individual spiritual belief: creationism is a direct attack on how we, as a people, understand knowledge itself. Allowing creationism the same kind of social legitimacy as science would essentially be the end of science and reason as organizing principles for human knowledge and understanding.

The essay goes on to paint a very bleak picture of the ramifications for creation-triumphant, but I'll try to sum it up in a single sentence: adopting an authority driven method for understanding the universe over the observation and experimentation driven method that created the civilization we now enjoy would be a return to the Dark Ages. Seriously. We'd be burning witches within two generations.

And that's fucked up.


Wednesday, March 28, 2007

America's Next Top Controversy:
ANTM Features "Murdered" Models

From the Huffington Post courtesy of AlterNet:

Here's an item to make even the most hardened feminist weep in her latte: Last week's episode of America's Next Top Model featured a photoshoot in which the perennially waifish contestants were made up and posed to look like blood-spattered and mangled corpses. The causes of the graphic-but-always-photogenic deaths ranged from stabbing to strangulation to shooting to semi-decapitation.


Jennifer Pozner over at Women In Media & News offered this insight about the show (which she described as "a series that traffics in bottom-feeder humiliation, objectification and degradation of women in the name of fashion, fun and beauty for the deep profit of integrated marketers"):

For decades, media critics such as pioneering advertising theorist Jean Kilbourne have argued that ad imagery equating gruesome violence against women with beauty and glamour works to dehumanize women, making such acts in real life not only more palatable and less shocking, but even aspirational. ANTM's pretty-as-a-picture crime-scene challenge epitomized the worst of an insidious industry trend that, ahem, just won't die.
Click here for the rest.

Yeah. I actually got to see a moment or two of this episode. Not that I'm into the show or anything--for that matter, not that I'm into any reality TV at all. I was flipping around channels and saw these really hot models lying in pools of blood, and was pretty grossed out. Call me old fashioned, but I really hate the mixing of my sexual objectifying with extreme violence. It was a major turn-off, so I quickly watched something else, which, if it were a less gruesome night, I probably would have done anyway, but only after gawking at the hot babes for a few minutes. Anyway, I didn't think much about it afterwards. After all, high fashion was pushing "heroin chic" only a few years ago, and anorexia and cocaine abuse are also big parts of the industry, so I just chalked it up to how fucking stupid the world of haute couture is. The feminist angle totally evaded me. Probably because I'm a man. But these feminist writers are absolutely right to be outraged. This is waaaay fucked up, and I'm truly bothered by the fact that I was so accepting of it. Okay, I didn't really accept it, but you know what I mean. The point is that most Americans simply take in stride what the weirdos on TV offer us.

And, increasingly, they're offering us some truly heinous shit.



So, last week, as a sort of afterthought to a post on the Iraq War's fourth birthday, I dashed off an email to Louisiana's senior senator, Democrat Mary Landrieu:

Dear Senator Landrieu,

I'm very curious about what effort you are personally making in the Senate to end the US occupation of Iraq. Now that opinion polls have shown repeatedly that the majority of Americans want the war to end, it has been frustrating to watch Democrats on Capitol Hill seemingly drag their feet on the issue. I just got word that a student I knew when I was teaching high school in Texas a couple of years ago was recently killed over there. Another one, now a marine, ships out soon. How much longer will this be allowed to continue?

Thank you very much for your response.
Well, I got my response today:
Thank you for contacting me to express your views on what has to be the most challenging issue before our nation - the war in Iraq. I believe that our nation should take every appropriate step to bring peace and stability to the region while protecting our troops in the field and winning the war on terror. Over the last several months, important efforts to determine a way forward in Iraq have been presented to the American people. One of the most important was the report of the Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group. Following release of this report, the President announced that he would develop a new strategy for Iraq. During this process he held discussions with members of Congress, and I was invited to participate. The President indicated that his plan would involve a surge of additional troops into Baghdad in an effort to restore order to that warn-torn city. My argument to the President was that we should not send any additional personnel to Iraq until we have clear benchmarks to measure success - benchmarks that will keep our commitment to Iraq from becoming an open-ended morass. Regrettably, to date, objective benchmarks needed to gauge the success of our involvement have not been provided. Without these standards, we are just inviting further uncertainty that could spiral into further escalation without the results we hope to achieve. As a result, I have taken a clear stand in opposition to the President's approach and have gone on record in support of more effective strategies to achieve success in Iraq. I will continue to work to win the global war on terror, achieve success in Iraq, provide stability in the Middle East and speed the return of our troops home. I know we all pray for the safety of our men and women in uniform, now serving our nation so bravely.

With warmest regards, I am Sincerely,
A Mary L. Landrieu
United States Senator
I would have been personally satisfied if she had told me that she voted for the just-passed Senate bill tying war funding with withdrawal, but you know, she's a Senator, which means she had to bloviate for a while. I guess that goes with the territory. I must say, however, that it was most definitely some very fine bloviating. I mean, I hate her usage of the "war on terror" metaphor because war and saber-rattling only flame the fans of terrorism, but nailing Bush on his ignoring the Iraq Study Group report was some unexpected gold. Bashing the "surge" was nice, too. This was pretty cool, I must admit.

I also think that Landrieu is the cutest Senator on the Hill, but that's just my personal opinion.

Anyway, I used to think that writing your Congressmen was a waste of time, but, in association with more organized agitation, and because email now makes doing so easier, I'm beginning to think that it might do some good. You've got to assume that her office imagines that one letter probably represents at least ten constituents: if I'm riled up enough to actually sit down and deal with writing to her, then there are probably more people here in Louisiana who share the same view. So if she gets, say, one hundred anti-war letters, that means a thousand Louisianians are speaking out with me. Or something to that effect.

At any rate, writing your Congressman certainly doesn't hurt. I should write my Representative, who is a Republican. I wonder how he will respond.


Tuesday, March 27, 2007


From the LA Times via the Houston Chronicle, playwright and founder of the bombastic gay rights agit-prop group ACT UP, Larry Kramer, opines on hardcore homophobia and how it's not going away:

Gays do not realize that the more we become visible, the more we come out of the closet, the more we are hated. Don't those of you straights who claim not to hate us have a responsibility to denounce the hate? Why is it socially acceptable to joke about "girlie men" or to discriminate against us legally with "constitutional" amendments banning gay marriage? Because we cannot marry, we can pass on only a fraction of our estates, we do not have equal parenting rights and we cannot live with a foreigner we love who does not have government permission to stay in this country. These are the equal protections that the Bill of Rights proclaims for all?

Why do you hate us so much that you will not permit us to legally love? I am almost 72, and I have been hated all my life, and I don't see much change coming.

I think your hate is evil.

What do we do to you that is so awful? Why do you feel compelled to come after us with such frightful energy? Does this somehow make you feel safer and legitimate? What possible harm comes to you if we marry, or are taxed just like you, or are protected from assault by laws that say it is morally wrong to assault people out of hatred? The reasons always offered are religious ones, but certainly they are not based on the love all religions proclaim.

Click here for the rest.

There is no rhyme or reason to homophobia. It is totally irrational. People who hate and fear gays clearly have some heavy and weird psychological issues stuck deeply in their brains. As Kramer observes, religion, in terms of theology, cannot possibly justify the dehumanizing rhetoric, the violence, and the continued unabashed discrimination against homosexuals.

I was once homophobic myself, years ago, until I came into close contact with gay men when I entered the theater. I look back on those days and wonder what the hell was wrong with me that I would have such disdain for people who had never wronged me in any way. I have no answer. I have no idea why I felt that way. I mean, maybe it was social conditioning; maybe it was the way being tagged as gay in public school is the worst possible label a student can have. But that's no answer. It's just speculation.

One thing is clear. I got over my homophobia by being around lots of gay people, and by immersing myself in a subculture that tends to celebrate gayness. It strikes me that this is the key, somehow, to ending this psychotic scourge on our people. As far as specifics go, however, I have no idea.


Monday, March 26, 2007

Poll: Nearly Six In 10 Back
Congressional Troop
Withdrawal Deadline

From TPM Cafe courtesy of the Daily Kos:

One more time...attention, Congressional Dems: The American public has got your back when it comes to supporting a Congressionally-imposed deadline for withdrawal from Iraq. Check out this new poll that's just been released by Pew Research:

A solid majority of Americans say they want their congressional representative to support a bill calling for a withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq by August 2008. Nearly six-in-ten (59%) say they would like to see their representative vote for such legislation, compared with just 33% who want their representative to oppose it.

Democrats are united in their support of legislation calling for a U.S. troop withdrawal by August 2008, and most independents (61%) also favor this step. Most Republicans oppose this step, but there are substantial divisions within the GOP. More than four-in-ten moderate and liberal Republicans (44%) want their representative to vote for legislation calling for an August 2008 deadline for a troop withdrawal, compared with only about a quarter of conservative Republicans (26%).
Click here for the rest.

Well, I'm not surprised by the overall figure increasing; it's been hovering somewhere above 50% since at least last summer. What gets me grooving is that 44% of Republicans want out. That's pretty freakin' close to a majority. That absolutely amazes me. Indeed, for some time now it's been damned clear that pretty much the only people supporting the occupation were Republicans. I mean, there have been individual exceptions here and there, but for the most part, it's been all GOP as far as war support goes, and now even that's eroding.

The die-hards have lost faith. It's only a matter of time now.

On the other hand, Bush continues to be "the decider."


GOP lawmaker says impeachment an option for Bush

From the AP via the Houston Chronicle

GOP Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a frequent critic of the war, stopped short of calling for Bush's impeachment. But he made clear that some lawmakers viewed that as an option should Bush choose to push ahead despite public sentiment against the war.

"Any president who says, I don't care, or I will not respond to what the people of this country are saying about Iraq or anything else, or I don't care what the Congress does, I am going to proceed — if a president really believes that, then there are — what I was pointing out, there are ways to deal with that," said Hagel, who is considering a 2008 presidential run.


Today, Hagel said he was bothered by Bush's apparent disregard of congressional sentiment on Iraq, such as his decision to send additional troops. He said lawmakers now stood ready to stand up to the president when necessary.

In the April edition of Esquire magazine, Hagel described Bush as someone who doesn't believe he's accountable to anyone. "He's not accountable anymore, which isn't totally true. You can impeach him, and before this is over, you might see calls for his impeachment. I don't know. It depends on how this goes," Hagel told the magazine.

Click here for the rest.


Most of the Democrats have been running scared for years on the issue of impeachment, despite the fact that if we held old Chimpy to the Clinton impeachment standard, Bush would have been written up back in '04. Only Nixon could have gone to China, and only a Republican can seriously start the conversation about impeaching a Bush. The dam has burst. Impeachment is no longer unthinkable in mainstream politics. I mean, this doesn't mean it's going to happen, but Hagel has now cleared the way for the Democrats to pound their fists and scream and yell about it.

If they've got the balls to do so, that is.


Means "Who Polices the Police?"

From the AP via the Houston Chronicle:

Off-duty cops accused in bar attack

Authorities are investigating claims that six off-duty Chicago police officers were captured on video assaulting four men in a bar, the second report of police involved in an assault to surface in a week.

Adam Mastrucci, Scott Lowrance and brothers Aaron and Barry Gilfand were playing pool at the Jefferson Tap and Grille on Dec. 15 when the off-duty officers attacked them, their attorney Steven Fine said.

Patrol officers responded to a 911 call, but left after speaking to one of the off-duty officers, Fine said. One of the four men required reconstructive surgery for a broken nose and another had broken ribs, Fine said.

Lawyers did not say what may have prompted the alleged incident.

Click here for the rest.

Of course, it's entirely possible that these guys had it coming to them. Maybe it was a rough bar. Maybe they were all drunk and belligerent and the off-duty cops were trying to rein in a volatile situation. On the other hand, it also sounds like these cops went above and beyond the call of duty, beating the living shit out of these guys. What really happened? If the victims were breaking the law, then charges should have been filed against them. Did that happen? If not, why? And if these cops really were being violent assholes, why did the other cops called to the scene leave without doing anything? Well, that's easy: it would be the "code of silence" that makes good cops look the other way when bad cops do bad things.

Anyway, I'm very curious about this one. I hope we hear more.


Sunday, March 25, 2007

Moral Panic Comes 'Unhooked'

From AlterNet:

Her definitive conclusion is that casual college hookups have created a generation of women who don't care about love. She ends on an ominous tone, citing one study by the Pew Center for Internet Life, that shows the majority of young single women (ages 18-29) aren't looking for a partner. And she weakly refers to the proliferation of internet dating sites as additional proof that 20-somethings are having trouble dating. I'd argue that the rising popularity of sites like says just the opposite: that women (and men) in their mid-20s are actively looking for more serious relationships. If they wanted to keep casually hooking up, they would be out at a bar. Not to mention that young people today are simply very, very comfortable with using the internet to do just about anything, including dating.

Click here for more.

So this new book by a Washington Post writer, Unhooked: How Young Women Pursue Sex, Delay Love and Lose at Both, is out now and it strikes me as a chilling secular counterpoint to the fundamentalist anti-sex movement. Okay, so I haven't read it, and certainly don't plan to do so, but judging by the reviews it appears to be simply the latest whine-fest about young people having more sex than old people. That's not at all new, but it troubles me because it's being dropped right into the overall context of this long-term religious war on sex. It freely hands over to the loony fundamentalists, who oppose abortion, birth control, sex education, and women's rights, some reasonable-sounding, but thoroughly full-of-shit, arguments to suppport their psychotic cause.

I guess what really troubles me is that saying there is some kind of weird psychological danger in college sex is fucking stupid. Strangely, the mass media appear to be taking it seriously. I mean, the AlterNet essay refutes it and all, but, really, such a thought shouldn't even be dignified with a response. Well, okay, scratch that: the only dignified response here is something along the lines of "that's fucking stupid." In other words, serious news organizations ought to just ignore it.

I continue to be amazed by how fucking stupid all these "smart people" appear to be.


Conan Announces Cast of Valerie Plame Movie

Okay, so I don't really think Conan O'Brien's show is funny. I mean, I suppose I've always liked his writing on The Simpsons, but his on-screen persona is just too consciously dorky for me to really get behind his jokes. That is, I think his show is pretty dumb. Now, having said all that, like all artists who keep plugging away, he does produce some gold from time to time, and this is one of those instances. Thanks to Crooks and Liars, I recently saw a Conan bit about an upcoming, but entirely fictional, Valerie Plame leak scandal movie: the gag, which shows who's playing whom, is simple enough, featuring really silly choices for the key political players, but it's pretty F'ing brilliant in its visual simplicity.

Here's a sneak peek:

Yeah, that's right, Vermont's Senator Patrick Leahy, who was once told to go fuck himself by the Vice President, is being played by Statler from The Muppet Show. Perfect, if you ask me.

Go check the clip out. It's short but sweet.


Saturday, March 24, 2007


Of course, I had a post with the exact same title back in November of '04, but that was in reference to the PBS Frontline documentary Is Wal-Mart Good for America?; today, however, I'm writing about another documentary, and this one's waaay more aggressive and damning than anything meek and mild PBS would ever dare to present. Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price was released a year after the Frontline piece aired, and lemme tell ya, it's pretty F'ing great.

From the Wikipedia:

While the film begins with footage of Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott praising the corporation at a large employee convention, the film spends a majority of its running time on personal interviews. A variety of criticisms of the corporation emerge from these interviews. These include alledging anti-union practices, claims that Wal-Mart has a detrimental impact on small businesses, asserts that Wal-Mart has insufficient environmental protection policies, and claims Wal-Mart has a poor record on worker's rights in the United States and internationally. The film ends with interviews of community leaders that have prevented Wal-Mart stores from being built in their communities and an exhortation for others to do the same.

Click here for more.

If you read Real Art regularly, I'm sure you know where I'm heading with this. The film is now available, in its entirety, absolutely free of charge, on Throw Away Your TV for your viewing pleasure. It's great, so go check it out. Particularly poignant is the section talking about the extraordinarily high crime rate in Wal-Mart parking lots. They've only added security recently, and at only a few stores, because they were forced to do so by lawsuits. These guys really are total bastards.

Indeed, Wal-Mart sucks.


Friday, March 23, 2007






Be sure to check out Modulator's Friday Ark for more cat blogging!


Take this McJob, and...

From the Nation:

The Financial Times reports that McDonald's has launched a campaign to remove the word from the esteemed O.E.D. Now, the O.E.D. is obviously not out to slam McDonald's; its experts closely follow trends in the English language. A word gets into the O.E.D. because it is in widespread use. McDonald's could ask itself why it has become synonymous with dead-end, crappy employment, and seek to make life better for its workers. Instead, the company has launched a petition drive to persuade the O.E.D. to drop the term.

Click here for the rest.

Author Douglas Coupland's greatest contribution to pop culture is the word "McJob." It describes to a T the kind of shitty work that most Americans are being incrementally pushed into, and Coupland was utterly visionary when he coined the term in his early 90s novel Generation X. It was a stroke of brilliance coming up with the it--I mean, before that point, everybody knew what a McJob was, but no one could describe it so poignantly in a single solid word.

It's downright Orwellian, as well as completely true to form, that McDonald's is trying to erase the term from the English language.


Thursday, March 22, 2007

Supreme Court should err
on side of free speech

An op-ed from the Washington Post via the Houston Chronicle:

But as the 9th Circuit pointed out, establishing a standard that is too deferential to school administrators would make it legal, for example, to stop students from distributing copies of the Alaska Supreme Court's decision allowing personal marijuana use in the state. It is distressingly easy to see how such a precedent could apply to expressions of support for other activities that administrators might not condone, such as the distribution of pamphlets discussing civil disobedience or expressions of disagreement with standing laws.

The court should ensure that administrators cannot define a school's basic educational mission so broadly — inculcating "good citizenship," for example — that they have the power to suppress any meaningful speech with which they, or their school boards, disagree.

Click here for the rest.

This essay is in reference to the case coming out of Alaska where a high school student displayed a banner that said "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" during some sort of Dick Cheney drive-by appearance. Needless to say, this Christian marijuana enthusiast was immediately busted bigtime, and he sued, and the case made it all the way to the Supreme Court. Of course, I totally love this shit. It totally sets our understanding of what this country's about on its ear. That is, on the one hand we're supposed to be a free people, and, no doubt, our most important freedom is to speak our minds. On the other hand, there are some deeply authoritarian strains here, in both our culture and in our various government entities, especially the public education apparatus. We don't like to really talk about that authoritarianism so much because, you know, it contradicts the whole free-people concept, which means that, by and large, we just pretend that we're not really so authority-driven. But make no mistake about it: when push comes to shove, Americans love being told what to do, as well as telling others what to do. It's really fucked up.

That's why I love the "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" kid. His crime isn't so much that he was celebrating pot-smoking on one of the frontlines of the never-ending "War on Drugs," that is, public education, as much as that he was pointing out how utterly problematic our two-faced concept of freedom actually is, which drives the heavily-indoctrinated public education class insane.

And boy, do those motherfuckers have it coming. Good work "Bong Hits" dude. Even if you lose, you've already won.


Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Means "Who Polices the Police?"

From the Washington Post via the Houston Chronicle:

FBI may have violated law 3,000 times with data effort

The Justice Department's inspector general told a committee of angry House lawmakers Tuesday that the FBI may have violated the law or government policies as many as 3,000 times since 2003 as agents secretly collected the telephone, bank and credit card records of U.S. citizens and foreign nationals residing here.

Inspector General Glenn Fine said that according to the FBI's own calculations, as many as 600 of these violations could be "cases of serious misconduct" involving the improper use of "national security letters" to compel telephone companies, banks and credit institutions to produce records.

National security letters are comparable to subpoenas, but are issued directly by the bureau without court review.

Click here for the rest.

Of course, I posted on this last week, and don't really have much more to add, besides yet another "told ya so," except this: even I am a bit surprised by such a big number of violations. I mean, I suppose I shouldn't be surprised, for the reasons I mentioned last week, but I guess I still have something of an "it can't happen here" mentality about all this. I know I've been going on here for years now about the dangers of encroaching totalitarianism in the US, but I still find that, despite my usual outrage, I just can't get my arms around my country falling into despotism. I just can't really accept that it's definitely possible, especially right now, while the White House pushes a showdown with Congress over subpeonas in the federal prosecutor firings investigation, as Rascally Rob Salkowitz explains in his latest post over at Emphasis Added.

I guess I'm like most Americans in that respect: I just won't really believe it until the stormtroopers are kicking my door down in the middle of the night. Good thing I'm able to make a distinction between beliefs and facts, which admittedly won't stop the stormtroopers, but knowledge is power. Kind of.

Speaking of stormtroopers, from the AP via the Houston Chronicle:

Video captures Chicago officer beating female bartender

An off-duty police officer in street clothes was caught on video by a bar surveillance camera beating up a female bartender half his size, authorities said.

Anthony Abbate, a 12-year veteran of the Chicago force, was charged with aggravated battery and placed on leave pending an internal investigation in the attack Feb. 19 as several bystanders watched, department spokeswoman Monique Bond said today. She said Abbate is expected to be fired.

The video from Jessie's Short Stop Inn Tavern, shown on television around the nation, shows the 250-pound Abbate shouting at the 115-pound bartender, then walking behind the bar and punching, kicking and throwing her to the ground.

Click here for the rest.

So this falls into the general category of drunk-cop-on-the-rampage. Happens all the time, and, by itself, it's bad enough, but you can bet your butt that if it ever does "happen here," if the US goes fascist, this kind of behavior among cops, already waaaay out of control, will increase astronomically. Cops are deeply immersed in a black and white, hypermasculine, "we're always right because we're the good guys" culture. Just imagine what they'll be like without civil rights. That's right, there'd be very little difference between cops and Hitler's Brownshirts.

Yeah, yeah, it's unbelievable to me, too. But the potential really is there.


Cost-cutting, lax oversight blamed for deadly BP blast

From the Houston Chronicle:

Longstanding disregard of safety by BP management on every rung of the corporate ladder caused the fatal March 2005 explosion at its Texas City refinery, federal investigators said in a report issued today.

While hourly operators working on the doomed unit made critical mistakes, the deeper, root cause of the blast was management's lack of commitment to safety, largely evident through years of drastic cost-cutting at the refinery while turning a blind eye to repeated warning signs that a catastrophic event loomed, investigators with the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board said.

"The CSB conducted an examination of corporate safety culture, and we found BP's safety culture to be broken," said CSB lead investigator Don Holmstrom.

And although investigators stopped short of also laying blame at the feet of the Occupational Safety & Health Administration, they pointed to years of lax regulatory oversight at the plant, even after numerous fatalities there, and recommended that the agency significantly step up its enforcement of federal safety laws in the petroleum refining industry.

Click here for the rest.

So, I don't think I posted on this at the time of the explosion, but I'm sure that this is what I was thinking. I mean, okay, it's not fair to blame everything on corporate greed and government deregulation, but it was pretty easy and fair to do so in this case and lots of others. After many years of Republican rule, and after many years of a slow-but-sure rightward shift inside the Democrat Party, the corporations essentially run the country. Politicians see themselves more as corporate helpers than as representatives of citizens. Consequently, we're all just fodder if we happen to stand in the way of the big business agenda. Increasingly, just going to work or living in the wrong neighborhood constitutes standing in the way.

Or buying cat food, for that matter.

It really is all part of the same phenomenon, and neither Hillary nor Obama appear to be willing to do much about it. Certainly not McCain or Guiliani.


Why Conservatives Can't Govern

From AlterNet:

Second, conservatives are acutely aware that they represent a minority, not a majority, position in America. From Nixon to Lee Atwater to Karl Rove, they play politics and exploit America's divides with back-alley brass knuckles -- from Reagan's welfare queen to Bush's impugning the patriotism of Georgia Senator Max Cleland, a Vietnam War hero who literally sacrificed his limbs in the service of his country. They excel in the politics of personal destruction, as Democratic presidential candidates Michael Dukakis and John Kerry discovered. And in the grand tradition of the establishment in American politics, they are relentless in seeking to suppress the vote, particularly of the poor and minorities who would vote against them in large numbers.

Click here for more.

The essay's first point is that conservatives totally buy the concept of an all-powerful Presidency, especially during wars, which tends to erode the Constitutional balance of powers, and therefore US government, whenever they hold the Oval Office. I also would throw into the mix the point of view, well articulated elsewhere, that, since conservatives bought Reagan's line back in the 80s that "government is the problem," all they really know how to do is dismantle government, instead of running it effectively. But I like a great deal the idea expressed in the excerpt above: the right wing knows that if most Americans knew what they're really about they'd never, ever, ever hold office again, which is why they have to lie and smear rather than advance their views on merit alone.

That is the sole reason FOX News exists.


Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Four Years Later, George Bush’s War Drags On: How to Stop It?

From the Progressive:

Four years later, and George Bush’s Iraq War drags on.

Four years and 3,300 dead U.S. soldiers later, and George Bush’s Iraq War drags on.

Four years and 24,000 wounded U.S. soldiers later, and George Bush’s Iraq War drags on.

Four years and anywhere between 60,000 and more than 650,000 dead Iraqi civilians later, and George Bush’s Iraq War drags on.

Four years and $400 billion later, George Bush’s Iraq War drags on.

Four years and a badly tarnished U.S. reputation later, George Bush’s Iraq War drags on.

Four years and more acts of global terrorism later, George Bush’s Iraq War drags on.

How do we stop it?


Frankly, it’s hard to know what would be enough, at this point, given the “we-don’t-give-a-shit” attitude of Bush and Cheney.

But rest assured, if we did nothing, Bush and Cheney would be delighted.

So we’re going to have increase our militancy, I’m afraid. We’re going to need to engage in nonviolent civil disobedience, as many of our colleagues are, at legislators’ offices and in the streets. And we’re going to have to devise creative, nonviolent ways to stop business as usual. Because today that business is war.

Click here for the rest.

Yeah, how do we stop it? Congress isn't doing jack shit, which is very disappointing given that the GOP no longer controls it. My guess is that energies are best directed at the Democrats. They're really dragging their feet on this, and they most definitely could end the war if they put their minds to it--maybe they're still afraid of Republican cries of "unpatriotic." Bunch of cowards. The vast majority of this country now wants out, but our leaders are doing nothing about it. It's time to put the Donkey Party in thumbscrews.

UPDATE: I just emailed this to my Senator.

Dear Senator Landrieu,

I'm very curious about what effort you are personally making in the Senate to end the US occupation of Iraq. Now that opinion polls have shown repeatedly that the majority of Americans want the war to end, it has been frustrating to watch Democrats on Capitol Hill seemingly drag their feet on the issue. I just got word that a student I knew when I was teaching high school in Texas a couple of years ago was recently killed over there. Another one, now a marine, ships out soon. How much longer will this be allowed to continue?

Thank you very much for your response.
Not thumbscrews exactly, but it is something that everyone reading this can do right now with their own Senators and Representatives.


Monday, March 19, 2007

Support for Gonzales appears to collapse

From McClatchy courtesy of AlterNet:

The White House began floating the names of possible replacements for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales Monday as the Justice Department released more internal documents related to the firings of eight U.S. attorneys last year.

One prominent Republican, who earlier had predicted that Gonzales would survive the controversy, said he expected both Gonzales and Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty to resign soon. Another well-connected Republican said that White House officials have launched an aggressive search for Gonzales' replacement, though Bush hadn't decided whether to ask for his resignation.

Support for Gonzales appeared to be collapsing under the weight of questions about his truthfulness and his management ability. White House spokesman Tony Snow offered a tepid defense when asked if Gonzales would stay on the job until the end of President Bush's term.

Click here for the rest.

I just have no sense of timing for these things. When I first posted on this a few days back I predicted that Gonzales wouldn't last the summer: now it looks like he won't last the week, which is a very good thing because, you know, he's a big fucking sleaze bag, for many more reasons than this scandal and his lying to Congress about it. Anyway, his days are definitely numbered. All that's left is to worry about what other sleaze bag Bush will find to replace him. The article says that Homeland Security Czar Chertoff is on the short list. He, like Gonzales, is a total Bush loyalist. Remember how well he handled Katrina? Like I said, time to worry again.

Hopefully, if it comes to a Chertoff nomination, Congress will grill the hell out of him on New Orleans. That might be fun.



I just pulled these off of Facebook and I thought I'd post them here. After all, Merchant is one of the reasons that I've been resorting to so many reruns lately. Anyway, here you go:

Yes, Shylock does Tai Chi, in this version anyway. I was going through the first section of the form while negotiating Antonio's bond with Bassanio.

Here I am complaining to my daughter, Jessica, and my former servant, Launcelot, about how much I hate going to eat with Antonio and Bassanio.

Now I'm complaining to the same people as above about how much I hate Carnival.

This is something of a collage moment: I'm performing a Jewish Sabbath ritual without my daughter for the first time in years while mourning her running off with a Christian and taking lots of my money.

More Sabbath ritual.

Back to the Tai Chi scene.

Still more Sabbath ritual.

No, Shylock's not jonesing for heroin: he's saying "if you prick us do we not bleed?"

But maybe a little horse wouldn't be so bad...

The money shot: Shylock going for his "pound of flesh"

Thanks to Michael Beagle and Lindsay Lanson for the pics.


Sunday, March 18, 2007

Means "Who Polices the Police?"

From the Houston Chronicle:

North Forest police officer indicted

A grand jury indicted a North Forest school district police officer on Friday on a charge accusing him of exposing his genitals to a woman during his lunch break.

The indictment comes amid other troubles in the school system's police department, including an investigation of a police captain and a suspension of another officer who has admitted to looking at pictures of naked women on a computer at his previous workplace.

Click here for the rest.

When I was teaching high school, we had district security guards, rather than police, but these guys are the real deal, and the school district cop phenomenon is growing. I mean, they're not as impressive as other cops, I guess, but they're certainly badge and gun holders, which makes them dangerous when they break the law themselves. Fortunately, this latest act of cop abuse doesn't seem particularly menacing, but then, I wonder how I would react if an armed state security agent started playing with himself in front of me. Maybe this is particularly menacing. At any rate, he's busted, and that's a good thing.


Owners frantic over millions of recalled pet food

From the AP via the Houston Chronicle:

Pet owners were worried today that the pet food in their cupboard may be deadly after millions of containers of dog and cat food sold at major retailers across North America were recalled.

Menu Foods, the Ontario-based company that produced the pet food, said today it was recalling dog food sold under 46 brands and cat food sold under 37 brands including Iams, Nutro and Eukanuba. The food was distributed throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico by major retailers such as Wal-Mart, Kroger and Safeway.

An unknown number of cats and dogs had suffered kidney failure and about 10 died after eating the affected pet food, the company said.

Many stores that sold the affected brands frantically pulled packages off shelves.

Click here for more, and here for the recall list.

This really fucking pisses me off, especially because my brand, Winn-Dixie, is on the list, and my cat Frankie was sick today. Fortunately, little Frank is doing better this evening, and what I've been feeding him and his brother Sammy appears to not be part of the recall. Still, I was nervous all day.

Man, you just know this shit is along the same lines as the recent spinach and peanut butter scares, as well as the Taco Bell lettuce scare a couple of years back: a lax federal regulatory environmnet, coupled with a corporate desire to cut corners, in terms of safety, to squeeze out ever-increasing profits, is putting us all at risk, human, feline, and canine alike. This wouldn't have happened twenty years ago. The goddamned Republicans, and their little wannabe helpers, the Democrats, have totally gutted laws and enforcement programs that used to protect us from tainted food. It's back to Upton Sinclair's The Jungle. No, really, I'm serious. Check out the book Fast Food Nation for some more recent info on this. Things are bad with our food supply.

Expect more scares like this one in the future. And it will most likely be human food next time.

UPDATE: It's now pretty well confirmed that my classmate Derek, who lost his young cat recently to a mysterious kidney failure, was feeding her food that was on the recall list. Derek said he wasn't sure that's what killed her, but to me, this is a smoking gun. His vet speculated that little Rusty drank some anti-freeze, but that wasn't very likely: the point is that the pet doctor said it looked like a poisoning, and the symptoms were the same as with other pet deaths associated with the recall. Fucking bastards killed my friend's cat.


New Utah Law Targets Gay-Straight Alliances

From the Daily Kos:

Now Utah has introduced a new majestic equality into the law: It has forbidden mathletes and gay-straight alliances alike to discuss "human sexuality."

The law defines that term to mean "advocating or engaging in sexual activity outside of legal recognized marriage or forbidden by state law," and "presenting or discussing information relating to the use of contraceptive devices." - New York Times
Federal law requires that all extracurricular school groups be treated equally:
In a paradoxical twist missed by almost nobody in the clubs debate, the federal equal access law was co-sponsored by United States Senator Orrin G. Hatch, Republican of Utah, to make sure that religious and Bible study groups were not discriminated against by secular-minded principals.

The same protections mean that gay-straight alliances cannot be singled out, legal experts say, which is why the rules in the new schools law must be applied across the board to all clubs, no matter what they do or who joins them.
Click here for the rest.

Not that the math club was going to be talking about condoms and hot gay sex, but this really is yet another absurdist low to which the fundamentalists are willing to stoop in order to bash gays. It's also pretty absurd that "human sexuality" means sex outside of marriage and birth control. But what else can we expect from Utah? I mean, this makes my Southern Baptist dominated home state Texas look like San Francisco. All this does is make me think of last week's episode of South Park (part one here, part two here): Butters goes to one of those gay cure camps where suicide is beyond rampant. When all is said and done in Utah, that's what they're trying to do, kill off gay kids.

You bastards!

Okay, I really mean that.


Saturday, March 17, 2007

Wherein I Have Some Fun in a Quickie Media Debate

From Real Art comments in reference to this post from a day or two ago:

well, to be quite frank, i think that you are taking shots from foxnews and slanting them to your favor...

however, i am by no means trying to defend foxnews...they do, indeed, show these heinous clips--i challenge you to scrutinize cnn or msnbc in the same way...regardless of what media source you choose, they will all be laced with pompous, outlandish claims...oh wait, is that because a driving purpose of television is to draw in viewers? sorry, i'm getting too rhetorical.

these media magnates all have an innate agenda to rack up viewers...they, in essence, play the same stories, but narrate them in different lights...perhaps in lights that might be the most enticing to their target audience.

look, ron, don't hate the players...hate the game--it's bigger than you think

mustard fart in the wind
I'm not 100% sure on this, but I strongly suspect that Mr. Fart is one of the undergraduates to whom I teach beginning acting at LSU, and I think I know which one. But, hey, this is very cool. This is exactly the kind of discussion I'm always hoping Real Art starts. So discuss I will. Here's how I responded:
Mustard Fart:

I'm not even sure where to begin responding to you. There are quite a few assumptions embedded in your comment that I don't share. For starters, I think it's clear that you didn't click through any of the links in the post, which will show you something like five times as many screen shots as I showed. Nonetheless, fifteen to twenty pictures does not a statistical sample make, so you raise a good point. On the other hand, FOX's blatant right-wing propagandizing, on the whole, has been well documented elsewhere, see Alterman's book What Liberal Media?, Robert Greenwald's documentary video Outfoxed, and virtually the entire Media Matters for America website, for more on this.

Trust me, I don't have to do any slanting at all to condemn FOX "News." Such an exercise has by now become tantamount to "shooting fish in a barrel" as one essayist has recently observed. But a picture paints a thousand words, which is why I linked to the picture collections. It's good, hard-hitting stuff.

As for CNN or MSNBC, or even ABC or the New York Times for that matter, I have scrutinized them, repeatedly, over the years. The picture with these more "mainstream" news media outlets is more complicated than, but ultimately similar to, the FOX picture. That is, when all is said and done, virtually all of the so-called MSM has a major rightward tilt, by and large due to the fact that they are owned and run by major corporations and tend to favor their views, but there are other complicating issues as well, and, yes, one of them is that the news is far, far more about attracting audiences to advertisers than about providing important information to citizens in a democracy. See my post from some years back on Chomsky and Hermann's Propaganda Model, which is an institutional analysis of the news media business.

Finally, you say "don't hate the players...hate the game." I'm not really sure what you mean by that. There wouldn't be any "game" if people refused to play. That is, there isn't any real demarcation between "players" and "game." They're the same thing, and consequently both worthy of contempt.

On the whole, I'd say that it's pretty clear that this is much bigger than you think. Go do some more reading and then we can have a real debate.

I sincerely hope that Mr. Fart returns for more fun and games!


Friday, March 16, 2007




Frankie and Sammy

Be sure to check out Modulator's Friday Ark for more cat blogging!


Gonzales shut down probe of Gonzales last year

From AlterNet:

In a brand new article Murray Waas writes that Bush's Attorney General Alberto Gonzales recommended that the president shut down an investigation into domestic spying last year, knowing full well that a part of that investigation focused on Gonzales himself.

How many smoking guns can you fit in a Volkswagen Beetle?

Last year, in defending the president's decision to shut down the investigation, Gonzales noted that "the president of the United States makes the decision," writing to the Senate Judiciary Committee:

"The president decided that protecting the secrecy and security of the program requires that a strict limit be placed on the number of persons granted access to information about the program for non-operational reasons... Every additional security clearance that is granted for the [program] increases the risk that national security might be compromised."

Click here for the rest.

I'm too tired to go digging for it, but I remember posting at the time the investigation was shut down on how scandalous it all was. The whole "national security clearance" impediment was bullshit from the get-go. The White House could have easily granted clearance to investigators, and it really stretched credibility to the limit to suggest that Bush's own DOJ people couldn't be trusted. Now we know exactly why the resorted to such thinly veiled crapola: they were protecting Gonzales.

Man, what with the FBI Patriot Act abuses, the firings of federal prosecutors who refused to end Congressional corruption investigations, and now this, I cannot possibly imagine how Gonzales' career can last through the summer. But, then again, we live in an age of surrealism. I continue to be amazed that Bush himself isn't behind bars.


Disney introduces its first black princess

From the AP via CNN courtesy of AlterNet:

The Walt Disney Co. has started production on an animated musical fairy tale called "The Frog Princess," which will be set in New Orleans and feature the Walt Disney Studio's first black princess.

The company unveiled the plans at its annual shareholders' meeting in New Orleans.

John Lasseter, chief creative officer for Disney and the Disney-owned unit Pixar Animation Studios, said the movie would return to the classic hand-drawn animation process, instead of using computer animation that has become the industry standard. He called the film "an American fairy tale."

Click here for more.

Well, this is clearly a landmark event of sorts. For the first time, Disney is putting an African-American woman into the Snow White position. I do not recall the mega-entertainment corporation ever portraying a black woman in such a positive way. It's also good that the Big Easy is getting some much needed plugging; I mean, it really is something of a fairy tale town, anyway, so this is entirely appropriate. I'm also stoked about the old-school style of animation. I haven't made a point to see any Disney animated feature since I was a kid, but this is probably going to be an exception.

However, despite all my gushing about the upcoming Frog Princess, and the racial barrier it's crossing, here is the inevitable punchline:

Disney said its new animated princess -- Maddy -- will be added to its collection of animated princesses used at the company's theme parks and on consumer products.

No surprise there, of course, but it certainly does put such racial good-will into a different light. That is, in addition to revealing what is probably MouseCo's true motivation in going black with its princess franchise, profit rather than diversity, this last sentence also shows that being a Disney gal just ain't what it used to be. In other words, Maddy's ultimately going to be just another consumer product.

Surely, this is not what we mean when we say "multicultural."


Thursday, March 15, 2007

FOX NEWS, Crazy Right Wing Propaganda

From NO QUARTER courtesy of This Modern World:

If you had any lingering doubt about the propaganda and disinformation that spews forth regularly from the demon child fathered by Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes, just take a look. These are not isolated, out of context, screen shots. These are reflective of a mindset and standard of practice that is truly evil.

As a former Fox News analyst I have some first hand experience of dealing with the beast and have the satisfcation of knowing that Rupert Murdoch had me removed from Fox air for daring to suggest that invading Iraq would be a diversion in the war on terrorism.

Click here for the some really funny, but completely true, screen-captures from FOX.

NO QUARTER wants everybody to know that these pics were originally compiled by Welcome to Pottersville, and I think it's only right to pass on the credit. Besides, Pottersville continues to find more screen shots along these lines; go check 'em out. But you may be wondering what I'm talking about, so here are a few samples to whet your appetite:

So, it's not that FOX has a right-wing slant: it's that FOX is a straight-up right-wing propaganda apparatus. Any "liberals" who appear there serve only as straw men for conservative shadow boxing. Why anybody would ever, ever, ever consider FOX to be some kind of actual news organization is simply beyond me, but millions of Americans do believe their "fair and balanced" bullshit, which means that, despite the recent Dem takover of Congress, we're still, as a nation, in deep doo-doo.