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June 21, 2008

ahh, my fillings! -- thx, netroots

Definitely stay away from your netroots websites today, as the uproar concerning Sen Obama's statement regarding the telecom immunity bill that passed the House yesterday is deafening.  Strike that -- nauseating is more the word I'm looking for.

The bill is a compromise, and therefore unpalatable to those of us (like the netroots) who value the Constitution and the protections granted therein.  So the response that I (and the netroots) would prefer would be more like, "Fuck that noise, I'd sooner chew off my own arm than vote yes on that abortion, and the only way it's going to pass the Senate will be in the back of an ambulance."  But Obama is running for president, but his response was more measured, which led to responses (which I will not link) of screaming and crying about how Obama sold out, same as the old boss, boo hoo hoo.

Dudes, there's no such thing as an elected official that will do exactly what you want every time.  This is what we call "Ah sweet mystery of life", and it's what makes chicken wings delicious and puppy dogs cute.  Sure, if I had my druthers, I'd have Obama react exactly how I want to.  That didn't happen; nor do I ever receive mail filled with $20 bills from an anonymous benefactor.  Somehow, I'll persist.

Plus also, Obama's response contained this sentence:

[The bill] does, however, grant retroactive immunity, and I will work in the Senate to remove this provision so that we can seek full accountability for past offenses.

If that is somehow code for Obama being for telecom immunity, then it's opposite day or some nonsense.  Reading is fundamental.

The wailing, the shirt-tearing, the buyer's remorse and the threatening to vote Green (that's a good one) is a waste of time, and it fritters away respectability.  The netroots should not behave like a three year-old that needs a nap if it wants to be taken seriously.

So, yes, avoid these sites until everyone can catch their breath and have make-up sex.  Until then, get back to work -- that novel's not going to wait forever.

Posted by mrbrent at 12:58 PM

June 20, 2008

dailykos does not make me laugh

Here is a longish post from Gawker that I agree with enough to link/pullquote -- Do Lefty Blogs Have To Be Boring?.  Actually, half-agree, half-not.  The author, Michael Weiss, begins with the astute observation that your hard-core lefty political sites (many of which are linked over there) are not exactly the first place you'd go for good writing.  I attribute this to shrillness, which may be the result of my seat in the choir here.  Weiss attributes this to a certain lack of funny:
The updated version of Miller's thesis [Is Bad Writing Necessary?], in this our dread age of blogorrhea, surely concerns the mirth factor.  Postmodernism is dead, but tragedy is not.  Even when the lefty blogs try to be cute or amusing, they fail horribly.  When did "wanker," MyDD's epithet of choice, become a mordant insult?  Two days ago, Think Progress teased me by promisingly titling a post "McCain Hates Condoms” (kudos to Cindy if they're even relevant in the marriage anymore) and then ending on this note: "Indeed, McCain is not what women want."

Indeed, no one saw that movie and Mel Gibson's not what they want anymore, either.  Stop perusing Congressional testimony and update your fucking Netflix queque.

Ah, touche!  But I agree -- even the lefty-site contributors (whom I will not name,) whose purported job is to post funny stuff to leaven the tone, are not so much funny as embarrassing, like watching your friend strike out at a bar.  A little bit too Catskills, a little bit too smug, definitely not funny enough.

But this sentiment I disagree with whole-heartedly:

Perhaps the problem is that a sense of humor is innately conservative, as G.K. Chesterton, Evelyn Waugh, P.G. Wodehouse, Kingsley Amis (after whom I named my Cocker Spaniel), Christopher Buckley, Judd Apatow and others have either explicitly or implicitly attested.  Even Mark Twain was at his best when he was fusty and backward-looking.

Whoa.  "A sense of humor is innately conservative" is a bit of a galloping overreach.  I'm not saying that Weiss' examples (or his cocker spaniel) are not good examples of a sense of humor, but the list is (a) comprised almost entirely (Judd Apatow?  Come on.) of Great Men of Letters, which, in a discussion of bloggery, is a bait and switch; and (b) um, incomplete.  Even if we stick to the Great Men of Letters, where are the James Thurbers, the E.B. Whites, the Hunter S. Thompsons, or even the Martin Amises?  And if Twain's "Letters From Earth" is "fusty", then I'm Jonathan Swift.

And, while you're at it, name the funny conservative stand-up comedian.  Dennis Miller?  Jeff Foxworthy?  Whatever your list, pick just two of my three -- Lenny Bruce, George Carlin, Bill Hicks -- and my list wins.

I've wondered why it is that (and I'm not accusing Weiss of doing this, though he flirts with it) conservatives in general keep trying to stick their flag in elements of culture and call it their own.  Is it a case of protesting too much?  A discussion for another time.

But, I do think it's important to point out when one of the writers at Gawker forgets where they work and actually posts a little substance, just in the way of encouragement.  So, Michael Weiss, good (provocative) job.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:09 AM

June 19, 2008

jerry manuel will cut you

I promise not to sprinkle too much baseball in these posts, as there are better places to go for such thing, but this may be of interest even to you terrorists out there who do not love baseball, or prefer the American League (in which pitchers throw from a seated position, and are carried to and from the mound) to the National League (in which the pitchers actually play baseball) -- the new manager of the New York Mets, Jerry Manuel, is freakin' awesome.

Why is he awesome?  Well, by all accounts, he is a "baseball guy", which is an inside-baseball way of saying that he is an egghead to the mysterious ways of the game.  Of course, most individuals drawing paychecks in the baseball industry are by some definition "baseball guys", but a "baseball guy" is considered in the top percentile.  "Class acts" and "clubhouse guys" are different, as their unbearable niceness or motivating skills (respectively) are stronger than their baseball acumen.  Accordingly, Jerry Manuel is smarter than you are, baseball-wise, and the Mets could use a little bit of that.

More importantly, Manuel is good with a quote, as follows:

I told [SS Jose Reyes] next time he does that [throw a tantrum] I'm going to get my blade out and cut him.  I'm a gangster.  You go gangster on me, I'm going to have to get you.  You do that again, I'm going to cut you right on the field.

Nothing more refreshing than a manager who makes you wonder, "He's kidding, right?"

It goes without saying, M-E-T-S, Mets, Mets, Mets.

Posted by mrbrent at 2:06 PM

heather thomas?

Am I out of my gourd if I recommend an interview with Heather Thomas?  Yes, that Heather Thomas, the one from "The Fall Guy" who sold a bizillion posters because she was wearing a bikini.  Is this thing, this interview with Heather Thomas, an unlikely thing to recommend.

See, she's being interviewed because she has a book coming out.  A novel.  And she's been screenwriting or something, and she's a smart interview:

Heather:  ...I still have notes on Disney stationery about my screenplay "School Slut" that read: "Jism is such a coarse word —- spooge is okay." RadarOnline:  What other words are off-limits? Heather:  Oh, the rules change with every successive executive.  When I had scripts at Disney, my [jism] experience was that no character is allowed excrete anything except tears.

Okay, so maybe not smart in the polymath sense, but is that what you'd of thought Heather Thomas would sound like in an interview twenty years later?

More accurately: is that what the fourteen year-old me thought the then tehn-twenty-ish Heather Thomas would sound like twenty years later?

Whatever.  The aging of our pin-ups is only a tangential issue.  She fit "Disney" and "jism" in the same sentence.  Credit where credit is due.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:35 AM

June 18, 2008

please don't stop using the word 'lecture', dnc

As much fun as it is to see Rudy Giuliani back on the national scene, as much fun as it is to read those magic integers nine and eleven again, which integers I missed, like that high school teacher you wonder where is, I had no idea that it would he would bring this much fun with him, as evidenced by the response of the Democratic National Committee:
“Democrats are not going to be lectured to on security by the mayor who failed to learn the lessons of the 1993 attacks, refused to prepare his own city’s first responders for the next attack, urged President Bush to put his corrupt crony in charge of our homeland security, and was too busy lobbying for his foreign clients to join the Iraq Study Group,” DNC spokeswoman Karen Finney said.  “Rudy Giuliani, can echo the McCain campaign’s false and misleading attacks, but he can’t change the fact that John McCain is promising four more years of President Bush’s flawed and failed policies on everything from energy security and the economy to the war in Iraq.”

Dude.  I missed the memo wherein the DNC grew balls.  Because I remember the last two elections, back when the DNC would respond to accusations of treason with, "Well, I wouldn't exactly use that word," and this response to Giuliani's proxy attack is a little more muscular.

Granted, they didn't mention the cousin-marrying or the public-affair-having, or even the shameless, post-mayoral speech-fee 9-11 profiteering, but it's a nice start.

Posted by mrbrent at 9:36 PM

teach the controversy/science!

I pretty much only wear the T-shirts I have (I'm lazy, but isn't XMas coming soon?), but were I to jump back in the practice of purchasing the fresh hot tees with the ironic graphics, I would have a hard time choosing between Amorphia Apparel's Science! line and their Teach The Controversy! line.

The Science! tees (fave: giant robot on lead guitar) are more iconic (which is fun), but the Teach The Controversy designs (fave: the devil planting fake dinosaur bones) blow truck-size holes in the arguments of Intelligent Design proponents (which is funner).

Plus also, being comprised mostly images, both design lines don't depend on linguistic skills to be understood, but remain smart enough that they will enrage stupid people, who will be unable to parse any of the shirts (which is not nice, but the most fun of all).

[Via io9 and Boing Boing.]

Posted by mrbrent at 12:30 PM

michelle obama's kung fu is strong

Just as I was thinking about how much of a fan of Michelle Obama I am (big ol' story on her in the NYTimes, see below), I scan the Yahoo! Box of Headlines and find out that my fandom is now newsy:
• Michelle Obama pulls ahead of Cindy McCain in polls

God, I had no idea that the two of them were running for something!  Whatever the prize, Michelle is going to crush Cindy -- Americans just don't like heiresses.  I sure hope that Sen. Barack Obama wins also, or that could get uncomfortable.

Why do I like Michelle Obama?  Is it maybe because she is the first potential First Lady to refuse to play the First Lady Candidate Game?  Because she has pretty much eschewed the smile-and-wave semaphore that makes all the First Ladies blend into one another no matter how relentlessly different from each other they were?  Yeah, that'd be a pretty big part of it.  From the <NYT's above-the-fold feature on her, responding to some of the vicious whispering campaign that follows her:

Referring to a character in a 1970s sitcom, she adds: “I mean, ‘whitey’?  That’s something that George Jefferson would say.  Anyone who says that doesn’t know me.  They don’t know the life I’ve lived.  They don’t know anything about me.”

Even with the reporter giving away the gag before the quote, you still have to have a healthy and/or wary respect for someone willing to reference "The Jeffersons" while her husband is running for president.

Also, none of this is meant to be a slap at Sen. Clinton, who obviously was once a First Lady herself.  But, then again, maybe this is one of those days that everything is a slap at Sen. Clinton.

Posted by mrbrent at 9:19 AM

June 17, 2008

way ta go, mets

I am a fan of the New York Metropolitans, a modest little National League baseball concern.  The "Mets", as they are known, have failed to excel this season, after an historic collapse out of the playoffs last season.  Consequently, for the past months, there have been whispers (or incomprehensible rants, rather) about how and when the manager, Willie Randolph, would be fired.

So finally last night, in a fine-tuned display of complete and utter class, the Mets let Willie go -- after beating the AL West-leading LA Angels (of Anaheim!), at the hotel, at 3am EST.

Willie may not have been the man for the job, but he certainly deserved better than being dumped, in the middle of the night, on the sidewalk of a world he never made.  This cloak-and-dagger nonsense is not the behavior I expect from the team of which I am a fan.  It is the act of a soulless and spoiled franchise, perhaps playing in the house that Babe Ruth built.

Willie is a class act, and I tip my hat.  I hope he lands on his feet.

I mean, come on.  His name is "Willie".  Shed a tear.

Posted by mrbrent at 9:21 AM

mugabe: as a hare, i am faster than you tortoises

It's good to see one of the world's bad guys wholeheartedly embrace the role of bad guy for once.
[Zimbabwe's] President Robert Mugabe, campaigning for re-election in a presidential runoff June 27, warned he would not cede power to Western-backed opponents, the state media reported Monday.

"We shed a lot of blood for this country.  We are not going to give up our country for a mere X on a ballot.  How can a ball point pen fight with a gun?" the Herald, a government mouthpiece, quoted Mugabe as saying.

No sniveling, no awkward rationalization for Mugabe!  He took Zimbabwe fair and square, and he dares you to take it back.  With a threat of force and a bwoo-ha-ha, he's off to be the cover boy for Bad Guy Illustrated (cover-date Aug 08).

Though it is an interesting choice of metaphor, the whole I-have-a-gun vs. you-have-a-pen thing.  I guess President Mugabe is also trying to move up the list of World's Dumbest Presidents?

Posted by mrbrent at 7:30 AM

June 16, 2008

only seven more months to write about the current adminstration

Somewhere in the White House, there is a to-do list.  It is a very old to-do list, written in pencil, on official White House stationery.  It has doodles on it -- Snoopy, from the same angle -- practice signatures, and one or two bullet points.  It is from late 2001.

And, apparently, while sorting through old matchbooks and ticket stubs, the president found it, just in time for his trip to Europe.

And when he read his old to-do list, he truly knew that there was something he kept meaning to do but totally forgot about -- he thought it was something about privatizing Social Security, but that didn't sound right at all.  And it came to him, somewhere between Italy and Great Britain.  "Dang," he thought to himself.

"Well, no time like the present," he continued.  "What's that new president of England's name again?"

President George W Bush has enlisted British special forces in a final attempt to capture Osama Bin Laden before he leaves the White House.

But who amongst us can blame a man for procrastinating?

And think of the benefits of actually crossing this off his list:

Defence [sic - GSTQ!] and intelligence sources in Washington and London confirmed that a renewed hunt was on for the leader of the September 11 attacks.  “If he [Bush] can say he has killed Saddam Hussein and captured Bin Laden, he can claim to have left the world a safer place,” said a US intelligence source.

Which is exactly the mandate the president was given when he was kind-of elected, and then sort-of reelected -- "Please view your actions in our interest through the prism of your legacy, and how big of a library you will build yourself."

Posted by mrbrent at 4:26 PM

tangentially about tim russert

Hello virtual digitalland.

The weekend was a little more media-free than I prefer, with a big wedding to attend, followed by sporadic but persistent napping.  But what little of the news I did catch was that Tim Russert passed away, very suddenly.  And that was not just the little of it.  That was the entirety of it, as the television news networks that happened to be on had room for little else.  Not so much odd, considering how many working television journalists were friends of Mr Russert, as it is notable.

I can only dream that when I go I might break a news cycle in half -- not for my own vanity (which will presumably die with me), but as something to make my parents proud of me.  (More proud of me -- sorry, mom and dad.)

Not to take anything away from the passing of Mr Russert, which was sudden, early and terrible.  The coverage, the extemporaneous obituaries, the rawness of the emotion were, and continue to be, moving.  It makes you wish that you too were a part of Mr Russert's life.  Plus also, ask yourself if you would've thought that there was anything that could make James Carville cry.

Posted by mrbrent at 1:10 PM