Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Beginning of the End

The democratic primary race has been such a distraction that the holes in McCain's prematurely sinking ship haven't gotten much coverage. But with Obama more or less running for real how, attention has turned to the Arizona septuagenarian's dubious track record of contradictions:


Monday, May 26, 2008

Poor Hillary!

There have been a number of pity-party posts and essays about Hillary Clinton as of late, like this new Times piece, but it took thisessay to put it all in perspective. Someone loses the presidential election every four years. Dozens lose the primary race. Deal with it. If Clinton can't handle failure, she had no place in the race to begin with. It just underscores the pettiness and vindictiveness of her personality. Some erroneously mistake it for perseverance or dedication, but there's something a lot more pathological coursing beneath the surface of the junior senator for New York.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Indiana Jones

I figured if I was going to see the new "Indiana Jones" flick, I better see it fast, before the bad buzz and backlash overwhelmed any pleasure the film might have to offer. Smart move, since I had a good time with it despite its obvious inadequacies. Someone somewhere wrote that one should think of "Raiders of the Lost Ark" as a stand-alone movie, and the next three films - "Temple of Doom," "Last Crusade" and "Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" - as the "Indiana Jones" trilogy. That works for me. The three films following "Raiders of the Lost Ark" are all pretty silly but enjoyable, and the new one is no exception.

That said, it is a pretty lazy movie. David Koepp in particular deserves a few minutes in the screenwriting penalty box, but in his defense maybe he did the best he could do. He's quickly become Spielberg's screenwriter of choice, and as such was dealt a pretty bad hand with "Crystal Skull." The movie had been in development forever, and went through several drafts from other prominent writers. It was Koepp's job to put all the disparate pieces together and satisfy taskmaster Lucas.

Here's a story for you. Years ago I interviewed Koepp. Right at the start I asked him about the mostly lame "Jurassic Park" sequel, which features a teenage girl using her gymnastics skills to best a killer beastie. "Whose dumb idea was that?" I more or less asked. Koepp took offense and got snippy. "Well, why don't you try writing something," he snapped. But later, after he mellowed out and I had proved I was more than just some jerk, he turned off my recorder and implied the sequence was totally out of his control, and he thought it was lame, too. He still took the check and the credit, mind. That's Hollywood for you.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Appalachia, so much to answer for

From the latest New Yorker:

“He’s a Muslim, isn’t he?” an aging mine electrician asked. “I won’t vote for a colored man. He’ll put too many coloreds in jobs. Colored are O.K.—they’ve done well, good for them, look where they came from. But radical coloreds, no—like that Farrakhan, or that senator from New York, Rangel. There’d be riots in the streets, like the sixties.”

Welcome to the 21st century, but stick to the mountain music and moonshine, guys.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Secretary of State

I think handing Clinton the VP slot would be a disaster, and so for many reasons won't happen. But I think Obama should give her the highest possible cabinet position, something like Secretary of State. I believe she would excel in that position, and put all her best qualities to good use. New York can easily get another Dem senator. Let Clinton move on the bigger, better things, away from elected office. A change, if you will.

Barack Obama, as quoted in Men's Vogue, 2006

"My attitude about something like the presidency is that you don't want to just be the president. You want to change the country. You want to make a unique contribution. You want to be a great president."

Time flies, but the guy has been nothing if not consistent.

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Friday, May 16, 2008

The Great Leap Forward

I've always suspected that my generation and below really couldn't be bothered by the racial, sexual and gender identity issues that so perplexed and challenged those who came of age in the turbulent '60s and before. That same boomer generation has always wagged its finger at Gen X, Y, Z, etc., preaching that those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it, but I think the assumption was that the younger generations were outright ignorant of polarizing political strife rather than indifferent to and beyond it. Those are two very different things. Barack Obama running for president (and likely winning), the slow expansion of equal rights of gay couples, environmental awareness and human rights issues ... these are the kinds of things that earn a shrug - "like, duh" - from young people but still get a rise out of the "before" generation, still fighting a losing battle of laws and rhetoric while younger Americans have increasingly muted the volume or changed the channel.

Well, I have a hunch this election cycle is one of the last gasps of that "before" generation, which, no matter who gets elected in November, will soon give way permanently to the "after" generation. There will always fundamentalists, reactionaries and extremists in self-imposed exile. But (West Virginian yokels aside) I suspect they're having more and more trouble hiding from humanism. They can keep their Bibles and "don't ask, don't tell" approach to anything that might differ from their ingrained but truly ignorant beliefs. The rest of us are, surely and steadily, moving on to a brighter future.

And that's not idealism, either. It's reality, which gets harder and harder to outlaw and legislate down to stalemate as time marches on.

Of course, some might argue our enlightened friends in Europe and elsewhere are there already, but I'm not so sure. The Europeans have the same generation gap that Americans have, but the young folks are, I suspect, more complacent, which in turn leads to stagnation. When you take progress for granted you stop progressing. America, on the other hand, really seems on the cusp of something. For the first time in at least a couple of decades if not as long as 60 years, we may have a chance to take the reigns of global leadership once again, but rather than use that power to rally troops and drop bombs, maybe for once we'll actually start trying to make the world a better place, not just for Americans but for everyone.

Now that, I'm afraid, is totally idealistic. But one can only hope, right?

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Thursday, May 15, 2008

Golfing in Hell

President Job, jackass that he is, claimed the sacrifice he himself made in light of all the men and women losing their lives in Iraq was to give up golfing. No, really. He actually said that. But like just about anything that comes out of Job's mouth, don't believe it. Indeed, apparentlyPresident Job couldn't quite resist the call of the clubs.

Could he be the worst President in U.S. history? Quite likely. Either way, the best thing about enduring eight long years of this destructive, divisive asshole is that I'll live to see his long descent into a sort of private hell. After all, his mistakes have already been more than adequately documented, yet obviously more and more mistakes, malfeasance and malicious activity will be unearthed once he leaves office and that shroud of arrogance and secrecy falls down around his ankles. Then the knives will come out. You think Nixon had it bad? You ain't seen nothing yet. This guy will have decades of shit dumped at his feet - if not on his head - again and again and again.

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008


Anyone like me, raised on "Looney Tunes," will recognize the Acme brand as, among other things, supplier of Wile E. Coyote's faulty arsenal of anti-Roadrunner devices. Well, explore and relive the Acme catalog here. Me, I'm saving for the Acme Correspondence School of Boxing.

Bear Neccesities

Finally, after much hemming and hawing, the administration has conceded that, yeah, the polar bear deserves endangered status due to its rapidly shrinking polar ice cap. This makes the polar bear the first animal protected on the endangered species act because of the threat and nature of global warming. Of course, the decision followed several months of dithering, and required the intervention of a Federal judge to force the government's hand. And this also comes from the same government tools constantly ignoring scientific findings for political purposes. And the same government trying to stop California from implementing emissions standards more stringent than Federal requirements. And so on. But hey, it's start.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Angry Earth

That's the headline at The Huffington Post, rounding up the natural global chaos as of that. Droughts, famines, tornadoes, cyclones ... I imagine one way or another many of these are linked to climate change, or at least could be. Earthquakes in China, on the other hand, can't be blamed on us dumb humans, though as I understand at least the Chinese government is making some effort to help out this time. Apparently, even they took a lot of shit for failing to respond quickly during the ice storms and surprise winter shock a year or two ago that killed thousands of farmers and other poor folks. This time, the Chinese leadership wants to be seen as if not responsible then certainly responsive. That certainly beats President Job sending out his wife to criticize the Burmese government over their response to the cyclone.

Yeah, like the current administration has been ace at responding to natural disaster.

Monday, May 12, 2008

When Kiwis Attack

Last night's Crowded House concert was predictably strong, with the reunited band in fine form and exceptional spirits. They even played a whopping six unreleased songs, nearly half a potential album's worth. Of course, the music is only part of the Crowded House live experience, which stresses hilarious banter as much as melody. At one point, after rambling for what seemed like several minutes, singer Neil Finn, rhetorically, "What do you do when you've said too much?"

He immediately answered: "If you're Hillary Clinton, you just keep talking."

"Don't know what to make of that one, do you?" he asked the crowd with the smug comfort level of someone who goes home safe and sound to New Zealand at the end of each tour, where "America" may as well be a reality TV show.

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Friday, May 09, 2008

The Age Card

John McCain is once again whining about people implying he's too old to be president. But unlike questionable criteria such as as race or gender, age (71!) seems to me a perfectly valid objection (among dozens) to McCain as president. After all, no president would ever need cede power to the VP because he's too black or she's too female (or, hell, because he's too female). None of those things affect one's performance in office. But age? You bet it does. There's an age requirement just to become president. Now, one shouldn't be disallowed from running because one is too old, nor should one necessarily be forbidden from serving because one is too old. But it is a perfectly legitimate issue to raise in a campaign. McCain may be a sharp old coot, but that can all change in an instant. We know how hard it is to impeach a fully cognizant president. Imagine how hard would it be to factor in the vague metrics of mental decline. It's tough enough keeping delusional old people from driving the wrong way down one-way streets. Now imagine those same folks heavily armed and with a near-limitless line of credit.

Vicious Junta Cycle

It's very ironic. The average American can't find Burma on a map. Hell, President Job likely can't find Burma on a map. Yet the paranoid military leaders of the poor country are so suspicious that allowing international aid to the millions of displaced, starving villagers will open the door to potential regime change that they've more or less shut and locked the door. Now here's the irony: Burmese regime change is no doubt toward the bottom of the U.S.'s long regime change to-do list (which, at this point, includes America as well). And yet, I can't imagine any more surefire way to drum up support around the world for so-called regime change than to deny the influx of basic aid following a natural disaster with a climbing death toll already possibly around 100,000 and likely higher in the near future once you factor in the imminent effects of disease and famine.

Of course, support for regime change only goes so far. North Korea and Zimbabwe, for example, are run by two of the most insidious, cut-throat, callous despots in the world, and they've stuck around for decades despite international condemnation. Indeed, everyone knows the surest way toward regime change, American-style, is not failure to accept what we have to give but failure to give us what we want.

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Dear Metallica: Get Better!

Supposedly, Dave Grohl (of Nirvana/Foo Fighters/Probot fame) wrote Metallica an open letter. Here's what it said:


Hey, it's Dave! Remember me? Yeah, I'm the guy that's been listening to your band faithfully since 1983. I bought your first album 'Kill 'Em All' from a mailorder catalogue called Under The Rainbow, I think. Actually I can't remember. It was 1983 for Christsakes! But that album changed my life and I've been listening to your albums ever since (even 'St Anger'!).

I can't wait to hear the new shit, and no matter what you guys do I'll always be first one at the shop waiting to hear it. I'm sure you'll come out and blow everybody's fuckin' minds, because you're fuckin' METALLICA!

Good luck. And don't release it until it's kick-ass.

Yours, Dave Grohl.

P.S. Are you finished recording the drums yet?"

"Blackened" randomly played on my iPod the other day. Couldn't agree with Grohl more (well, except for that listening to "St. Anger" part - that album is turgid).

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End It

Peggy Noonan is a political hack like all the rest, but she's been writing some perceptive, compelling columns about Hillary Clinton this past election cycle. This one is a doozy. Doesn't it mean something when even a Republican mouthpiece starts making sense and accusing Clinton of racially polarizing, destructive behavior? If a candidate (Clinton) literally has no way of legitimately winning, isn't her persistence the very epitome of patronizing and entitled? What, she's going to keep campaigning until she can find some way to destroy Barack Obama? And then what? Having destroying the vessel of change, the real alternative to the previous boomer generation of mechanical politics, what will she - and by extension, we - be left with? Demoralizing tatters of a future that once nearly was but suddenly seems farther away than ever before.

If Clinton doesn't end this - and she's the only one who can end this, really - she's going to find herself a pariah that makes Ralph Nader look reasonable.

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