Friday, May 30, 2008

Friday Kitten Blogging


I haz a tennet! Naow I arreddy to go kampin an hunt dowen a bare for fud!

Nobody Asked Me, But...

1) Them's some big-ass headstones, I tell you whut...

2) This WAS supposed to stop happening, after the tragedy earlier this year.

3) One question: why? And I ask that as someone who has actually appeared on the show!

4) I'm not sure, but I think this is one of those times I would just make the victim comfortable until the end...unless he was really fucking cute!

5) The story that STILL hasn't appeared in ANY New York City newspaper, three days later! I can't imagine why... Paging Larry Niven! Larry Niven! Filming to begin on "The Jigsaw Man" any moment now!

6) As life imitates art, so once again does MicroSoft imitate Apple. Dudes, stop buying and start building, mmmmmmmmmmmK?

7) Do you want to bet that Bush's position here will basically be "let 'em grow more food"?

8) Traffic is so bad in major American cities that more than a quarter of drivers give up and go home.

9) This was a tough week for icons of 1970s TV and movies.

10) Here we go again! Another Obamber preacher in hot water, forcing Obama to once again repudiate someone who's support he not only accepted, but sought out. WTF?

11) See for yourself. You know, the bit would actually have been funny if it had been in a comedy club, but watch the choir, and tell me these folks don't hate white people:

And Obombers? Tell me this one is taken out of context...go on!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Backpedal Begins

I'm not sure who is in charge of "message" in the Obama campaign, but this smacks of silliness:
WASHINGTON — With his experience and leadership credentials under sharp criticism, Senator Barack Obama and his advisers are trying to clarify what has emerged as a central tenet of his proposed foreign policy: a willingness to meet leaders of enemy nations.

In an interview on Wednesday, Mr. Obama, of Illinois, sought to emphasize, as he and his aides have done continually over the last few days, the difference between avoiding preconditions for talks with nations like Iran and Syria, and granting them automatic discussions at the presidential level.

While Mr. Obama has said he would depart from the Bush administration policy of refusing to meet with certain nations unless they meet preconditions, he has also said he would reserve the right to choose which leaders he would meet, should he choose to meet with them at all.
Let me get this straight: after six months of chiding from Clinton, Edwards, Biden, Dodd, Richardson, and now, John McCain, someone in Barack Obama's campaign finally woke up at 2 AM a couple of nights ago, slapped his forehead and said "HOLY SHIT! "NO PRECONDITIONS"???? WHAT ARE WE, IDIOTS?"

Now, "no preconditions" means "no preconditions," unless you are putting preconditions on the word "preconditions". Sort of like, "Depends on what your definition of 'is', is."

Apparently, it didn't really mean "no preconditions".

This is a rookie campaign being run by highly inexperienced operatives, and I can almost bet that by Denver (if not, after), Obama will be asked to make some serious changes to his senior staffing.

Or, to put it in flip flop terms, he was FOR appeasing Iran BEFORE he was against it:
This week, Mr. Obama said that he was still considering meeting with Iranian leaders, though he would not necessarily guarantee a direct meeting with Mr. Ahmadinejad.

“There is no reason why we would necessarily meet with Ahmadinejad before we know that he is actually in power,” Mr. Obama told reporters. “He is not the most powerful person in Iran.”

Last week, Mr. Obama offered a similarly nuanced explanation about meeting with President Raúl Castro of Cuba, saying he would do so only “at a time and place of my choosing.”

The caveats belie the simple answer Mr. Obama gave during a debate last summer, when the issue was first raised in a major public forum. Without hesitation or qualification, Mr. Obama said he would hold direct talks with America’s enemies, drawing strong and immediate criticism from his rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York.

“Would you be willing to meet separately, without precondition, during the first year of your administration, in Washington or anywhere else, with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea in order to bridge the gap that divides our countries?” asked Stephen Sixta, a video producer who submitted the question for the CNN/YouTube Democratic debate.

Mr. Obama, the first candidate to respond, answered, “I would.”

Several aides immediately thought it was a mistake and sought to dial back his answer. But on a conference call the morning after the debate, Mr. Obama told his advisers that he had meant what he said and thought the answer crystallized how he differed from his rivals.

“I think that it is an example of how stunted our foreign policy debates have become over the last eight years that this is an issue that political opponents try to seize on,” Mr. Obama said in an interview on Wednesday. “It is actually a pretty conventional view of how diplomacy should work traditionally that has fallen into disrepute in Republican circles and in Washington.”

Even after Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton called his position naïve, Mr. Obama refused to shy away from it, at times speaking explicitly in terms of a potential meeting with Mr. Ahmadinejad.
In other words, it would give Ahmadinejad a lot more credibility with the world community than it would with the US government and would do more for Iran than it would do for America, which is an awful way to go about diplomacy, which has long been defined as the art of letting someone get your way.

Now, at no time during this or any subsequent debate or Q&A on this point has Obama ever amended this statement: attack the conventional way of diplomacy and "no preconditions" to meeting world leaders.

So apparently, Senator Obama has come to his senses and joined the "reality based" community of conventional realpolitik!

Now if only the Democratic party would come to its senses...

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Good Luck With That, Chief!

The key issues of this Fall's campaign will largely center on the shepherding that George W. Bush has done, or more correctly, not done, these past seven years.

Too bad for John McCain, of course. Still he'll try:
When President Bush ventured here for a private fundraiser with John McCain on Tuesday night, his first real campaign appearance with the presumptive GOP nominee, the event was closed to the news media and their only joint public appearance was a photo op on the airport tarmac that lasted less than a minute.

The same ground rules will cover Bush's trip to Utah on Wednesday, where he will appear with former presidential candidate Mitt Romney to woo big-money Republican donors to McCain's cause.

The fleeting public appearances of an unpopular president on behalf of the potential heir to the leadership of the Republican Party underscore the delicate balance for McCain, who is trying to appeal to a restless GOP base that continues to embrace the president while reaching out to moderates and independents who want to move beyond the Bush administration. For now, the senator from Arizona remains locked in a tight race for the White House -- evidence that Americans see him as a brand apart from the GOP.
Democrats are not big on the "re-branding stuff," in other words, and so will have much work to do to make John McCain seem like the second coming of Dumbya.

Bush has one and only one major asset to lend the GOP and John McCain: his Rolodex. Here is a man who last night raised $3 million for the campaign. That's staggering when you realize that Obama has to work hard to pull in a million a day. Too, campaign finance rules have been loosened a little in that the party can now spend more money touting the Presidential candidate than ever before.

Despite the tumbling poll numbers for Bush and the Republicans in general, John McCain remains competitive against either of the Democratic candidates, with Clinton holding a slightly better advantage overall. Bush and his party hover somewhere in the low 30s. McCain consistently pulls in the mid-40s.

That's a testament to two things: First, his ability to appear on programs like The Daily Show and Saturday Night Live and not look lost in the camera, and second, his maverick image still sticks around, despite this photo:

Staggeringly, Obama is running a full ten points behind the Democratic Party in terms of his poll numbers. This is likely a testament to the fact that his candidacy represents a distinct disconnect between the kind of candidate the Democrats have actively sought over the past two elections cycles and Obama's more liberal policies and voting records (as well as the personal predicaments he has put himself in).

In short, it's going to take Obama a lot of effort to define himself for the general election, precious resources that could be used to combat McCain's image, and define McCain ahead of his campaign. It's clear that his image and Bush's image are not the same. That's going to be a very tough sell.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

In Memoriam

There are few people in Hollywood that I can honestly say have done nothing wrong, at least nothing that stands out in some glaring "Oh yea, there's that" fashion.

Sidney Pollack is one of those people. I'd never worked with him, either in front of or behind the camera, but I would have given an eye tooth for a chance to. An actor before Burt Lancaster suggested he direct, he was the consummate actor's director, understanding the craft of understatement as well as the actor's dilemma.

Too, his body of work as a director suggests he refused to make dumb choices. His Academy Award winning turn with "Out Of Africa" only highlighted his remarkable gift for even more realistic, humanistic movies like "Tootsie" or "The Way We Were."

In the hands of a lesser director, a drama that improbably casts Barbra Streisand as a romantic lead across from Robert Redford could easily have devolved into treacle at best and farce at worst, something on the order of "Shanghai Surprise" with Sean Penn and Madonna. Pollack's gift was in tearing away the facade of stardom in his casts to get the actors to act.

If this was all he had ever done, this body of work, mainly with Robert Redford, it would immediately install him in the pantheon of gods of Hollywood, but his acting abilities rivalled his eye and ear for storytelling.

As an example, rent "Michael Clayton," an intriguing story of a burnt-out lawyer who runs up against some powerful forces allied against him. The three major roles in the film all garnered Oscar nominations, and the two supporting actors, Tilda Swinton and Tom Wilkinson, won.

Pollack, playing Marty Bach, the head of the law firm, has one of the most interesting roles in film's recent memory, trying to juggle an out-of-control lawyer who has lost his mind, a "fixer" who is starting to realize that he's on the wrong side, and a merger of his firm with another.

His performance is, to be sure, nothing less than astounding, and yet, never mentioned when this film is talked about, the garish larger roles capturing the notices.

I think that's exactly the way Sid liked it.

I'm sorry to see you go, Sidney. You will be missed.

Cradle Of Life, Catching Fire

While you've been reading about this scuba diver getting lost at sea, or that skydiver missing his balloon, or this or that Presidential candidate making his forays into actual debate on an issue, a billion people are facing outright war.

Item 1 - Guinea soldiers seize chief over pay dispute:
The troops, who say they have been owed money for up to 12 years and protested over the same issue last year, also fired shots into the air.

The protests come the week after President Lansana Conte sacked Lansana Kouyate as prime minister.
(emphasis added)

Item 2 - Pipeline blown up in Niger delta:
The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (Mend) group said in an email that it had attacked the Royal Dutch Shell pipeline in Rivers State.

The militants, who want a greater share of oil revenues for the area, said they blew up a flow station and were retreating when soldiers opened fire.

Item 3 - Mozambicans flee South Africa riots:
Mozambique's government says about 20,000 of its citizens have fled South Africa because of the wave of attacks on foreigners in the past two weeks.

In South Africa, at least 50 people have died and a further 35,000 have sought shelter because of the attacks.
In a related item...

Item 4 - Death toll climbs in South African violence:
South Africa has given fresh figures on the numbers of people killed and displaced by the wave of attacks on foreigners over the past two weeks.

Safety and Security Minister Charles Nqakula told the BBC 56 people had been killed and more than 650 injured. Previously, 50 deaths were reported.

More than 30,000 had been displaced or forced from their homes, he said.

Other organisations said this was a gross under-estimation and that at least 80,000 had been displaced.

According to South Africa's Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR), as many as 100,000 Africans may have been driven from their houses.
...which is related to this item...

Item 5 - Tsvangirai confident of victory:
The Movement for Democratic Change leader accused the ruling Zanu-PF party of seeking to "decimate" opposition structures ahead of the vote.

His first engagement was to visit supporters hurt in political violence.

Mr Tsvangirai's return was delayed amid an alleged army plot to kill him, which the ruling party said was "fantasy".
Just imagine if Al Gore had to flee to Mexico in 2000, to get a sense of what this story means in Southern Africa. Or for a real world example, all you have to do is contemplate the asassination of Benazir Bhutto.

Item 6 - South Sudan on the brink of war:
Clashes in Sudan's oil-rich town of Abyei could pitch the north and south of the country into civil war again, a senior official from South Sudan says.

"We are on the brink of war," Pagan Amum, secretary general of the former rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), told the BBC.

Up to 90,000 people have fled after a week of fighting and the disputed town is now controlled by northern soldiers.
You may better know South Sudan as Darfur...

Item 7 - ANC calls to retake the streets:
The secretary general of South Africa's governing ANC has called on party members to form local committees to combat violence against foreigners.

Gwede Mantashe says that they should work to "take the streets back from criminals", whilst giving support to the police and help to the victims.

The unrest has now spread to Cape Town, with people assaulted and shops looted.
It is roughly a thousand miles from the Zimbabwean border, the source of all these refugees that are creating such a ruckus, to Cape Town, so imagine if riots over Cuban immigrants in Miami spread all up the East Coast to Washington, DC! And the ANC is effectively claiming the South Africa government, which has been curiously quiet through it all, is inadequate for calming the population down and is suggesting vigilante actions may be necessary.

Had enough? You are free to go back to debating the merits of the two Davids from American Idol. This has been your moment of waarheid