Saturday, February 28, 2009

somewhere along the way

atop angels landing, zion national park, utah. june 2005.

you wanna fight? i be da man! (snap!)

we've become accustomed to watching political candidates make big promises during a campaign while at the same time thinking to ourselves "yeah, that'll never happen." there is an inherent filter, not so much of automatic distrust (many have that as well) but of hearing politi-speak and understanding, somewhere deep down, that "it just won't be that easy once you get there."

but this week, in his budget and in his video address to the nation, barack obama lays down the gauntlet. this is the sweeping change the country voted for, he says. c'mon! what did you think i was gonna do? i told you about all this stuff during the campaign...and now? what, you thought i wasn't gonna change the country?

remember when we thought this guy didn't have enough "fight" to him? take a look:

in case you missed it, my favorite economist has some pretty nifty things to say about obama's budget proposal. in the clatter of all the cable and internet sniping, it's nice to find a clear, trustworthy voice.

it seems as though obama's been in office much longer than a month and a week. every other day there's some major piece of legislation being signed, or another important speech. this week alone, there was the non-state-of-the-union speech, the release of the budget, and the beginning of the end of the war in iraq. obama began the week with his approval numbers dipping, for the first time ever, below 60% (the sky is falling! the sky is falling!) he's ended the week at a comfortable 67%, two points off his high.

like andrew sullivan, i've learned to stop second guessing obama. because every time i do, he surprises me. i'm not always adept at it, but it's best, i think, to sit back and watch the action from a distance – with some perspective. today might be a little rough and tumble, but just wait until tomorrow.

home on the free-range

after a lovely dinner tonight, i was reminded of this video featuring british chef/celeb jamie oliver demonstrating what had actually happened to my food before i ate it. that is, the most humane version of what happened to my food.

don't watch this video if you're squeamish, or if you're about to sit down to a dinner of chicken cordon bleu.

Friday, February 27, 2009

75 at 253 w. 125th

harlem's famed apollo theater turns 75 this year.

"there’s nothing like an audience at the apollo. they were wide awake early in the morning. they didn’t ask me what my style was, who i was, how i had evolved, where i’d come from, who influenced me, or anything. they just broke the house up."
– billie holiday

unhappy, table for two

yesterday, obama pissed off the right. today, he's pissed off the left. sounds to me like things are going along swimmingly.

jindalling the facts

remember that great story governor bobby jindal told on tuesday night, about hurricane katrina, the angry louisiana sheriff and some bureaucrat trying to stop rescue boats? "congressman jindal is here, and he says you can come and arrest him too!" the sheriff yelled into the phone, remember?

turns out the sheriff is dead, and the story is, well, you know, not true.
UPDATE 5:23 pm – the story has now turned into a blogger he said, she said. leave it to josh marshall to be the voice of reason.

breaking the moment

playbill gives us yet another interview with patti lupone, who spends three or four paragraphs talking about what audiences do to annoy her: take photos, talk on the phone, send text messages, put their programs on the edge of the stage, not enjoy her performance.

i can tell you from personal experience (as can a million other actors) all those things are annoying. but now, ms. lupone has brilliantly and graciously explained exactly why they are annoying:
"The thing it does is it breaks the theatrical moment. It breaks the theatricality of the [moment] for everybody, for the audience especially."
yes, patti. nothing like breaking the theatrical moment.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

"the democrat party"

it's usage can be traced back to the 1890's, but it was a favorite of republican party all-stars herbert hoover and joseph mccarthy. grammatical arguments aside, it's a dig, plain and simple. tonight, chris matthews gave a republican congressmen a tongue lashing on the subject. matthews's simple reasoning is one of the most honest, logical reasons why the phrase "the democrat party" is incorrect:

they're shutting down broadway!

from the new york times:
The city plans to close several blocks of Broadway to vehicle traffic through Times Square and Herald Square, an experiment that would turn swaths of the Great White Way into pedestrian malls and continue Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s effort to reduce traffic congestion in Midtown.
good idea?

santelli: waah, waah, waah

last week, cnbc's rick santelli went on a well-publicized rant on the floor of the chicago mercantile exchange, against the obama housing bill. much of santelli's rant focused on subsidizing "the loser's mortgages," bailing out your neighbor, etc. culimnating in an angry santelli basically mocking the adminstration, spouting "are you listening, president obama?" like a fussy school-boy.

agree or disagree with santelli's rant (and a great many agreed with it) he was certainly living – let's say basking in all the publicity surrounding his outburst.

until the white house news conference on friday. white house press secretary robert gibbs responded to santelli, by name, saying:
"I’ve watched Mr. Santelli on cable the past 24 hours or so. I’m not entirely sure where Mr. Santelli lives or in what house he lives but the American people are struggling every day to meet their mortgages, stay in their jobs, pay their bills, send their kids to school."
and gibbs went on, even inviting santelli to the white house to read the bill, offering to buy him a cup of coffee.

saturday, santelli claimed what gibbs said amounted to a "threat," and that "my kids are nervous to go to school."

on the today show this morning, matt lauer confronted santelli about it all, and santelli basically whined and curled up in a ball and said uncle:

hey santelli, if you're gonna step up to the plate, you gotta be in the game.

high school dropouts! u-rah-rah!

there was an interesting exchange this morning, between cnn anchor heidi collins and former education secretary bill bennett, while discussing what i thought was one of the best moments of president obama's speech to congress tuesday night:

(video from tuesday night)
dropping out of high school is no longer an option. it's not just quitting on yourself, it's quitting
on your country. and this country needs and values the talents of every american. that is why we will provide the support necessary for all young americans to complete college, and meet a new goal: by 2020 america will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world.

(shaking her head)
alright, so i don't know what he meant about, you know, 'letting down your country if you're unable to finish high school' –

(rolling his eyes)
. grrrrr.
(further soft grumbling)

– however when he talks about this goal in 2020, how realistic is that, what is the detail, what is he paying for, what is that support he's talking about?

look i'm generally in favor of education..."life is a race between education and catastrophe" h.g. wells said. but i don't agree with what the president said. there are some people who drop out of high school, and join the military, and make very good lives for themselves–

my father-in-law.

–and serve their country very, very well.

so, let's not encourage people to complete high school. really, dropping out of high school should be an option for you, especially if you're going to join the military.

did successful high school dropouts around the country take offense at that line from obama's address? are there a lot of high school dropouts who would encourage their own kids to follow in their footsteps? if we guarantee kids a college future, might some of them not drop out?

i understand, let's not be disparaging. the reasons kids drop out of high school are many, not all of them under their own control. but what if the president stood before the country and said "look, i'm all for education, but there are plenty of people who drop out of high school and do very, very well."

how would bill bennett have reacted to that?

urban-suburban hip-hop g.o.p.

listen as talk radio's michael gallagher interviews the new face of the republican national committee, chairman michael steele:

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

quote of the day

"Basically, the political philosophy of the GOP right now seems to consist of snickering at stuff that they think sounds funny. The party of ideas has become the party of Beavis and Butthead."

– nobel prize winning economist paul krugman

fast-forward idol

i'm going to dvr-blog american idol now. i know, the excitement is palpable. (did i mention i fast forward through most of the crap? do you all do that too? you know, missy hoo-ha grew up in south bend and she owns a horse. brian's mother is a one-armed midget who has a week to live.)

okay, here we go:
  • oh look, it's casual wednesdays.
  • do you think sex with randy jackson is all "come on now, bring it. oh, that kinda feels weird for me." (sorry, i know i just conjured an image. take a moment.)
  • the new girl just said "bring it" too. get your own catch phrase, newbie.
  • wait, the highest girl vote-getter and the highest guy vote-getter, plus the next highest vote-getter get through? so if the three highest vote getters from this group are all guys, one of them doesn't get through because we have to pick a girl? that blows. what's next, idol affirmative action?
  • i thought our girl jasmine was gonna sing foreigner's "cold as ice". hun, you're a little pitchy. too much riffing. bad song choice, right? why do these arrangements always end with the cheesy chord? like they're doing an act in the lounge on the love boat? not good. simon is right.
  • matt dueling-pianos guy. i have high hopes for him. yikes. has he had too many red bulls? this is a great song (coldplay.) not for matt though. too much riffing. judges? simon is right.
  • oh. jeanine vailes. "please don't say goodbye anymore." we won't. after tomorrow. way too much riffing. looked painful. taking a painful dump. (taylor hicks, anyone?) sang sharp. simon was right. again.
  • okay, i couldn't stand it anymore: i gave up. just put adam lambert through and send the rest home. in fact, let's just cut to the chase – next week, adam lambert vs. danny gokey. btw...if you like adam, here's plenty more of him.

bobby vs. the volcano

nate silver explains to louisiana's bobby jindal why volcano monitoring might actually be something that he can relate to.


don't you think while watching bobby jindal give the republican response to obama's speech tonight, sarah palin was overcome with a great sense of optimism and possibility for the future?

crying over milk

i saw "milk" tonight.

i found it incredibly moving, and uplifting. and i think sean penn proved more than deserving of the accolades, and the oscar.

the most startling and unexpected reaction i had was to a particular shot of mary ann white, supervisor dan white's wife (played by hope tuck.) supervisor white (josh brolin) is being interviewed by the local news, and his wife is standing directly behind him, nodding and watching. i recognized that face, knowing and secure in it's bigotry and discrimination, from experiences in my own life. nodding and watching. and it made me terribly, terribly sad.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

is bobby jindal kidding?

okay, the president came out tonight and talked to the nation – like he always does – as though we're really, really smart. like he is.

then, giving the republican response, louisiana governor bobby jindal shows up and talks to us like we're all in fourth third grade preschool.

i mean, i know nobody watched him, but...(and your reading of this next word should be way over the top)...REALLY? this is a joke, right? if jindal's chance at the republican nomination for president in 2012 doesn't at least dim after this performance, i will let jindal personally exorcise the dancing gay demons from my inner soul (and i like the ones who dance.) seriously, jindal's heritage is not indian, he's from mayberry! this is embarrassing, and it's the best the republican party can do. (and believe me, jindal's no goober.)

and...okay i must have heard this wrong (dvr says no) – jindal just said the government didn't help us out during katrina, so we know not to look to them for help during this economic crisis! hey, jindal. that was bush, remember? your president? the guy from your party? we had an election in november and he's gone.

seriously, how about this, bj: there are obvious times when we need government – say, a huge economic crisis, an oncoming depression, or a gigantic natural disaster – and we found during katrina that government didn't work very well, so we need to fix it.

no, no, beej, you're right. because bush royally screwed up katrina, don't go trusting government ever again. (thanks, by the way, for reminding us of that colossal failure.)

um. blah-blah-blah...our party is determined to regain your trust. but, you just told us you don't even trust the government, right? and aren't you part of the governmm...? ugh. i've stopped listening. oh, yes...great struggles/accomplishments of the united states, oh good. you forgot to mention the stonewall riots and the segway human transporter.

wait. did he just say we have the most "brazilian" economy?

UPDATE 11:20 p.m. ah-ha! here's where i've heard that voice before...

listen, and compare:

quote of the day

"I think abstinence is the...i don't know how to put it like...the main...everyone should be abstinent or whatever but it's not realistic at all."
bristol palin

the teacher and the student

this is why, for me, the guy standing at the podium is the president, and the guy sitting in class, being called on by the teacher, is not:

from monday's fiscal responsibility summit.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

quote of the day

"I heard the story of Harvey Milk and it gave me hope. It gave me the hope to live my life openly as who I am, and that one day I could even fall in love and get married.

I want to thank my mom, who has always loved me for who I am even when there was pressure not to.

But most of all, if Harvey had not been taken from us 30 years ago, I think he would want me to say to all of the gay and lesbian kids out there tonight who have been told that they are less than by their churches or by the government or by their families, that you are beautiful, wonderful creatures of value, and that no matter what anyone tells you God does love you and that very soon I promise you, you will have equal rights federally across this great nation of ours.

Thank you and thank you God for giving us Harvey Milk."

– dustin lance black
accepting the 2009 academy award
for best original screenplay for "milk"

Saturday, February 21, 2009

get on out the way!

south carolina governor mark sanford is standing up for what he believes in, putting (or refusing?) his money where his mouth is, showing the world his political cojones (eww) and, just like he said he would, he's going to refuse the stimulus money his state should receive to extend south carolina unemployment benefits. there's integrity we can believe in! go mark! you're my political hero!

p.s. unemployment in south carolina?
9.5% – the third highest in the country.
only seven other states saw their unemployment rates jump as much as south carolina's over the last year. in fact, the south carolina board of economic advisors predicts unemployment in the state will reach 14% by summer.

how do the folks in south carolina feel about sanford's stunt principled stand?
For some out-of-work South Carolinians, even the suggestion of rejecting bailout money fills them with outrage. William Williams, 38, a laid-off telecommunications worker, had a message for Sanford as he searched futilely through a computerized job bank in Marion County, a struggling industrial area where unemployment has reached 19%.

"Stop playing politics with my life," Williams said, looking at his unemployed brother James. "If you ain't going to help your people . . . "

"Then get on out the way," James said.
sanford's not alone. five other republican governors have said they may refuse at least some of the stimulus money headed their way.

california governor arnold schwartzenegger is not one of them:
"Every (governor) has their own way of thinking, I just hope they give me their funding."
UPDATE 2/22/02 –
way back in 2005, time magazine chose what it considered to be the best governors in the country. sanford was not among them. in fact, he was chosen as one of the three worst:
"Even G.O.P. bosses charge that he is worse at economic development than at grandstanding, as when he visited the legislature last year carrying piglets to protest what he considers pork-barrel spending."
sounds about right, doesn't it?

in researching info on south carolina, i realized something that may be pretty obvious, but hadn't occurred to me: three of the five governors threatening to refuse stimulus money are from three of the poorest, blackest states in the country: mississippi (haley barbour), louisiana (bobby jindal), and south carolina (sanford). huh. but rnc head michael steele is gonna hip-hop up the republican party, just you wait.

no line on the horizon

you can listen to the new album from U2, in it's entirety, on U2's myspace page until march 3. rolling stone:
"★ – U2's first album in nearly five years and their best, in its textural exploration and tenacious melodic grip, since 1991's Achtung Baby."
pre-order U2's no line on the horizon here.

a day late and month disappointed

yesterday marked one month since the hat.

one month since "my count...try tis of thee." magic 8-ball says the republican party is disappointed in president obama's first month. (i hear a collective, "awwww.") the republicans list several reasons to be disappointed on their website (a couple of which i actually agree with), but i picked out the ones i thought were the most fun.

here's a good one. this is one of the most important reasons they voted en masse against the stimulus bill. they talked about it all the time: nancy peolsi's field mouse! read carefully:
The Bill Even Includes $30 Million For Salt Marsh Harvest Mice In San Francisco. "Lawmakers and administration officials divulged Wednesday that the $789 billion economic stimulus bill being finalized behind closed doors in Congress includes $30 million for wetlands restoration that the Obama administration intends to spend in the San Francisco Bay Area to protect, among other things, the endangered salt marsh harvest mouse. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi represents the city of San Francisco and has previously championed preserving the mouse's habitat in the Bay Area." (S.A. Miller, "Pelosi's Mouse Slated For $30m Slice Of Cheese," The Washington Times, 2/12/09)
see that last part there? the part in italics (mine)? the part about what "lawmakers and administration officials" say that the "obama administration intends to spend" the money on? not in the bill.

that's a lie.

i know, get out my surprised face. despite being debunked over and over again, the republicans are still using the salt marsh mouse to mislead people (sound familiar?) but hold on one minute. what exactly could helping an endangered salt marsh harvest mouse mean for our economy, or for jobs? what exactly would wetland restoration entail?

well, it would entail hiring heavy equipment operators (bulldozers, front-end loaders, backhoes), hiring landscape architects, gardeners, project managers, biologists, hydrologists, ecologists, environmental engineers, geomorphologists, private mitigation bankers, computer support staff, real estate staff, attorneys, hydrologists, biologists, and ecologists.

for a start.

but you're right, republicans. i bet none of those people are struggling or out of work.

the g.o.p. disappointment list also includes obama's difficulty in appointing people to fill top positions in his administration. ouch. here, you're right republicans. tom daschle and nancy killefer both withdrew their names from nomination because of past unpaid tax issues (speaking of which, did you know that alaskan officials now say sarah palin, your nominee for vice president – oh, it seems so long ago! – owes in the neighborhood of $18,000 in back taxes? if she were vice-president right now could we withdraw her?)

add in bill richardson (withdrawn) and judd gregg (republican peer pressure) and there have been a total of four obama cabinet picks who all voluntarily withdrew their names from consideration. (obama's tied with our tenth president john tyler, but tyler's nominees did not withdraw, they were rejected.) yep, sucks. and shhhh...we won't talk about this last president picking people like linda chavez (labor - withdrawn), harriet meyers (supreme court - withdrawn), bernie kerik (homeland security - withdrawn), or alberto gonzalez (attorney general - resigned) for that matter.

the repubs also claim obama has not been the bipartisan leader he promised to be. interestingly enough, the american public, by a wide margin, seems to disagree. they give president obama an approval rating of 63%, while republicans in congress score 19% approval and democrats are at 43% in the latest gallup poll.

in the meantime, a vast majority of the country is focusing instead on what this new president has actually accomplished in only 30 days in office:

Thursday, February 19, 2009

update: a barrel full of monkeys!

this original post referred to a recent new york post editorial cartoon, which i felt clearly compared barack obama to a monkey (something that certainly isn't new in our nations history, or in barack obama's history either) and to a tape from fox news that appeared to reveal radio host john gibson comparing attorney general eric holder to an escaped monkey in seattle.

the video, posted at several respected news blogs, has since been proven to be dubbed and inaccurate.

while the new york post has since "apologized" for the racially charged cartoon it ran, the fact that this video made the rounds so quickly, and that it was, for many, not so far from believable, still says much about our country and race.

attorney general holder's comments earlier this week, that many in the u.s. are "cowards" when it comes to discussing race, has provoked much discussion and that's a good thing. sadly, it has too often revealed middle-aged white males bloviating about america being the "best place for african americans to live" and how "the african american community needs to take responsibility for itself." it seems to me that in all of the hot air from the pasty white folks there is barely an acknowledgement of the feelings, grievances, struggles or concerns of the other side, only a desire to shout louder and drown them out. in other words: "we've elected a black president, now sit down and shut up – what more do you want?"

here's my original post on the now debunked eric holder / john gibson / fox news video:
hey folks! it's madness and mayhem in washington 'cause not only is there a monkey in the white house, there's one running the justice department:

the punchline comes toward the end, from fox's john gibson...

quote of the day

"We missed the mark in the past, which is why we are in the crapper now. We need messengers to really capture that region - young, Hispanic, black, a cross section. We want to convey that the modern-day GOP looks like the conservative party that stands on principles, but we want to apply them to urban-suburban hip-hop settings. We need to uptick our image with everyone, including one-armed midgets."

– republican national committee chair michael steele

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

thanks for the java

i haven't mentioned it yet, but i'm a little overwhelmed by the response to the will blog for coffee feature recently added to this blog. thanks to everyone who's bought me a cup, a pound, or a full dinner and a nice decaf.

let the sunshine in

this is not transparency we can believe in.

but this is.

get ridda roland

this guy has got to go.

obama and the dead monkey

monday. stamford, connecticut. a pet monkey attacks it's owner's best friend, ripping the friend's face off. the owner stabs the monkey and after a terrifying 911 call, the monkey is eventually shot dead by police.

tuesday. denver, colorado. president barack obama signs the stimulus bill.

think there's no connection between the two? how about this:

(from the new york post's sean delonas)

so, the monkey is obama, right? naaaah.

the monkey is pelosi, reid and the democrats. okay, that doesn't quite work, does it?

the monkey was wild and needed to be killed (the stimulus.) doesn't work either – it's implied that the monkey wrote the stimulus bill.

(is this stamford monkey attack really part of the national conversation?)

do the laughable police (the g.o.p.) see the president (and his stimulus) as a crazed monkey that can only be stopped if it's shot to death (every house republican no vote)?

in other words, if this cartoon is offensive, is it offensive to the dead monkey, or to the g.o.p. (the policemen) because they can only see the president through racist eyes (he's a monkey) and the only way they know how to deal with him is to universally oppose him (shoot him)?

or is it offensive to people who keep monkeys as pets?

UPDATE 2/19/09the new york post, who published the cartoon, has...well...sort of apologized (the standard non-apology apology.) for the post, however, that's a pretty big deal.

something you should never do

never, under any circumstances, should you ever blow.

thou shalt not worship false ______.

thoughts on tonight's disaster show:

1. who comes up with the confusing idea "these 12 contestants and these 12 and these 12 and...from these 12 we pick three and then three more over here, and here, and that equals nine and then"...i mean...WHAT? this isn't college basketball.

2. watching this show is like every pre-screen audition happening in new york city every day of the week in that randy, paula and those other people are the casting directors who think they should be giving acting notes, but really end up saying ridiculous things like...well, pretty much anything they say.

3. so, this is new: the idol-wannabe-person sings their song, they get critiqued, and then ryan girlcrest starts an interview with the idol-person's parents or their girlfriend or their best friend's college roommate. shortly after the interview starts, ryan has to stop because the idol-person has arrived after running up the big hello dolly staircase and they want to hug their parents or girlfriend or whatever. aawwwwkward. stupid and awkward. i'm a dorky white guy who grew up in wisconsin and i could have told you in a matter of seconds that it wasn't gonna work.

4. here's what else doesn't work: ryan seacrest crossing his legs. dear ryan, if you have any hopes of pulling the wool over the eyes of the last three people in america who don't know your a queerbag (okay, a power-bi) you better uncross those legs, girrrl.

5. this stevie wright chick is gone with a capital buh-bye. this is karaoke (the kind i actually like, where the singer is bad.) and ohhh shit. she's gonna cry.

6. they're giving the anoop guy a pass. i'm not going there. why doesn't anyone call him "anoopy"?

7. no matter how charming these people are when they perform or get critiqued, and please – let's not beat around the bush, they're charming – what is most charming is watching them mug to the camera while ryan girlcrest is giving out their idol-wannabe phone number. making goo-goo eyes, tilting your head like a puppy and mouthing "vote one! one-one-one!" is really gonna convince me.

8. ry-ry g-crest keeps saying "if you like what you've heard so far, you can" go to itunes and throw money away or...ugh. so, my question of course is...what do i do if i haven't liked what i've heard so far?

9. the good news: danny gokey is coming up.

10. this dame from minneapolis is not very authentic. (wtf. authentic.)

11. barack obama is the president. na-na.

12. how many more times do we need to hear some dope sitting behind a table say "nooooobody goes near those songs, nobody touches _________." (fill in the blank with whatever original artist's song was just butchered.)

13. this poor mom. casey's mom? she's going way overboard saying "we love you" and "vote for casey!" and it's kind of embarrassing. really, why parents?

14. i would turn straight for one night for heidi klum.

15. michael sarver was a roughneck. no roughnecking by the pool.

16. simon is still usually right. he speaks truth to idols, calls out cheesy keyboards and cruise ship arrangements. paula isn't drunk anymore, which is unfortunate for america. randy still pulls crap out his ass on a regular basis. there are times i don't think even he knows what he means. the new girl: "kill it," and "you have to kill it," and "you killed it." ugh. i'm tired.

17. girlcrest just said the roughneck was wearing a pretty shirt.

18. attention ann marie bluedress: nobody goes near "natural woman," okay? (and good thing, neither did you. oy.)

19. i'm all critical of these people getting up there and singing and being on american idol...if it was me? i'd end up a blubbering mess in the corner. so. take it all with a grain of salt. that said...

20. kill it.

21. when one of the judges says any of these words – "for me..." "that song choice..." or "hotel singer" – things aren't going well.

22. i was kidding about heidi klum.

23. i have to fast forward now. nobody goes near michael jackson's "rock with you", okay?

24. ohmygod i didn't fast forward and now i think i'm gonna hurl.

25. what? tatiana? what? she was laughable, but none of those judges were laughing. some producer is telling them to keep her. she just rubbed ryan's shoulder, he pursed his lips and said he was distracted by it. (he was hoping it was tatiana's friend rubbing his shoulder.)

26. have they saved the best for last?

27. do we need to hear every week that danny gokey's wife just died? really? and now he's singing a song called "hero"? how much would we like it if we didn't know the wife story?

28. advice to every singer everywere (not just on idol) – less riffing please. or better yet: no riffing.

29. answer to number 26 – yes, by far. but simon was still right.

Monday, February 16, 2009

just say no (again)

dem strategist paul begala to south carolina gov. mark sanford: don't like the stimulus? don't take the money.

oh paul, c'mon. that would mean having some balls, wouldn't it?
UPDATE 12:33 p.m.neoavatara slaps down begala: "I would agree with him, with one caveat; don’t make us responsible for the debt involved, and then we won’t take any money."

hat tip: sundance

the stimulus money set aside for the national endowment for the arts – eliminated by the senate after republican whining – was eventually restored in committee and is part of the final bill president obama will sign in denver on tuesday. forty percent of the money will go directly to state arts agencies and regional arts organizations, while the remaining sixty percent will go to individual arts projects.

all thanks in no small part to new york's louise m. slaughter, wisconsin's david obey, and robert redford.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

somewhere along the way

life from the top of vernal falls in yosemite national park. spring 2003.

a short play

media to g.o.p: are you 'the party of "no"'?
g.o.p. response: no!

the end of the (r) world as we know it?

could the passage of this stimulus bill be the beginning of the end of the republican party as we know it?

will this strong show of republican unity against obama and the stim bill pay off hugely down the line or will it sink the party completely? if there is any evidence of economic recovery by 2010, obama and the democrats will have every right to point to this moment and claim victory. they will also have every right to point to the republicans (sans spector, snowe, and collins, all who voted in favor of the bill) and claim massive failure.

if there is no end to the downturn by then, if in fact the situation is much worse, the republicans will (and are certainly hoping to be able to) declare victory. positioning in washington is certainly not unusual, but one would hope that considering the dire straits we're in there might be something other than politics. still, it's always this way, right?

from nbc's mark murray:
"With zero House Republicans voting for the stimulus -- and with just three Senate Republicans expected to vote for it later this afternoon -- it's worth noting that 28 House Democrats and 12 Senate Democrats voted for the final passage of Bush's big tax cut in 2001. (And remember, too, that Bush had barely won the presidential election the year before.)

The size of that 2001 tax-cut package? $1.35 trillion."
and what about that show of republican unity?

republican senator arlen specter:
"When I came back to the cloak room after coming to the agreement a week ago today, one of my colleagues said, 'Arlen, I'm proud of you.' My Republican colleague said, 'Arlen, I'm proud of you.' I said, 'Are you going to vote with me?' And he said, 'No, I might have a primary.' And I said, 'Well, you know very well I'm going to have a primary.'

I think there are a lot of people in the Republican caucus who are glad to see this action taken without their fingerprints, without their participation."
but look, at least the republicans have the public on their side, right?

from politico:
"Obama’s approval rating remains well above 60 percent in tracking polls. A range of state pollsters said they’d seen no diminution in the president’s sky-high approval ratings, and no improvement in congressional Republicans’ dismal numbers.

A CBS News poll released February 5, for instance, found 81 percent of Americans said Obama is reaching out to congressional Republicans, while just 41 percent said the congressional Republicans were looking for bipartisanship."
and from gallup:
"Public support for an $800 billion economic stimulus package has increased to 59% in a USA Today/Gallup poll conducted Tuesday night, up from 52% in Gallup polling a week ago, as well as in late January."
make no mistake, obama now owns this economic stimulus bill in a big way (along with pelosi, reid, and the rest of the dems.) if it leads us into further decline, if there is no tiny pinprick of bright light at the end of the tunnel within the next two to four years, they are in trouble.

if there is some positive movement – fewer jobs being lost, bridges being built, roads being repaired, some type of upswing in the national mood – how do the republicans play that?

Friday, February 13, 2009

madison nixes

the madison repertory theater, madison, wisconsin's leading professional theatre company since 1987, performing five shows a year plus a new play festival, has cancelled the remainder of it's 2008-09 season.

zippo in michigan

michigan's state budget will come down hard on the arts in fiscal 2010. 'cause really, who needs arts programs for kids? and the news comes from a democratic governor. i wonder how jeff daniels feels about this:

"Gov. Jennifer Granholm's budget director, Bob Emerson, announced today that the administration will recommend eliminating nearly all arts-and-culture grants for the upcoming fiscal year, according to ArtServe Michigan, the statewide nonprofit that promotes the arts.

The elimination would slam groups great and small, from an arts program for kids in the Upper Peninsula, Keweenaw Krayons, to the Detroit Institute of Arts."

my home state is right across the lake. who's next?
UPDATE 2/14/09 - here's your answer.
(hat tip christopher)

follow, follow, follow

the follow this blog widget for tuesdays appears to be fixed. if you've tried using it in the past, with no success – try again.

(hat tip blogstar chuck)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

chain of fools

dear people in my life who forward chain emails:

no, no, no – not you. those "this will make your day" emails are adorable, i read every one, and in fact i feel a little depressed when i don't get one for a while.

i especially loved the one about the guy who spilled coffee on his suit, had to go home to change and was late for work on september 11th, 2001. wow. i'm not gonna feel so bad next time i spill coffee on myself, 'cause like you said, "i'm right where god wants me to be!" hey, i'm spilling coffee on myself right now! (but what about the people who didn't spill coffee, didn't stop to pick up donuts, or didn't miss the bus that day and ended up jumping out of the towers because they didn't want to burn to death...? i guess that's where god wanted them to be too! have a nice day!)

by the way, i have to tell you, i do just as you ask – i send every one of those chain emails to ten (sometimes fifteen!) of my friends. and as a result really good things keep happening to me!

so no, i don't mean you.

i mean the people who forwards those political emails.

no, no, no – not the ones that tell the funny jokes about hillary clinton, or black people in new orleans. no, keep those coming 'cause they are hi-larious.

i mean the ones that pretend to be news items, factual news items, that the media won't tell you about. like – barack obama wants to redesign the american flag, barack obama wants to adopt the coke theme song as the new national anthem, barack obama won't put his hand on his heart during the pledge of allegiance (if he was a secret muslim terrorist person and he was lying about being a s.m.t.p. don't you think he would go ahead and put his hand on his heart anyway, to trick you? ooooh no, that's where he draws the line. he'll lie about everything else, but put his hand on his heart during the pledge of allegiance or the national anthem? sorry. now you're asking too much.)

anyway, these new chain emails? the ones about nancy pelosi taxing your 401(k) and barack obama making soldiers take a loyalty oath to the president and not the constitution? you don't have to send me those. i've already read them.

but here's an idea. instead of forwarding these emails to your friends, get a blog! then you can just copy and paste the body of those emails onto your blog and pretend you wrote them!

see? i'm a problem-solver.

okay, this has been fun, but i have to go!
ten more forwards and i get my applebees gift certificate!

have a nice day!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

not that i'm watching...

...but only one of the milwaukee guys (danny gokey) made it through to the next round on american idol (the top 36.) and since we're on the subject:
  • i just wrote this sentence prematurely: thank god they nixed that completely annoying tatiana del toro girl. unfortunately, she's staying. (what douchbag producer thought it was a good idea to keep this girl?)
  • then there's sally crybaby. wow, he needed to go-go (guess what mary, everyone is one of those kids, okay?) but he's staying too. (she not gonna have time for therapy if she gotta be derin' idol, perples!)
  • both bears made it through (andrew sullivan will be happy) and both my personal favorites made it through.
  • these sing-off deals: since they were singing for their lives, do the losers get shipped to some foreign country where they will be waterboarded and put in stress positions?
  • one more thing: can alec baldwin win an award for acting in a commercial? did you see that hula ad? i haven't had a more enjoyable 60 seconds since...well, this morning.

it's that time of year

spring must be near: brett favre is retiring.

making republicans proud!

little eric cantor got targeted recently by pro-stimulus afscme and americans united for change in this advertising campaign. what's little eric's response? well, it should make all republicans proud to have someone like eric as a leader of their party. here's the video cantor's office is using to rebut the unions:

more on little eric's classy response here.

the loser

one of the losers from the westminster kennel club dog show.

(Photo: Barton Silverman/The New York Times)

follow this blog

have you tried to follow this blog?

the bible, the monkey guy, and magic

the vatican hearts charles darwin:
A leading official declared yesterday that Darwin’s theory of evolution was compatible with Christian faith, and could even be traced to St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas. “In fact, what we mean by evolution is the world as created by God,” said Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, head of the Pontifical Council for Culture.
darwin did not heart the church:
"I cannot really understand, either, how anyone might want to believe that Christianity were true, because if it were, then, in the plain terms of the text, it is said that people who do not believe would be punished for eternity, and that would include my father, my brother and almost all my best friends. And that is a terrible doctrine!"
the vatican and intelligent design? not so much:
"The committee (organizing the Vatican's upcoming Darwin conference) agreed to consider ID as a phenomenon of an ideological and cultural nature, thus worthy of a historic examination, but certainly not to be discussed on scientific, philosophical or theological grounds," said Saverio Forestiero, a conference organizer and professor of zoology at the University of Rome.

i'm not posting this abfab story

can you believe i was going to post something here, on my blog, about the new version of absolutely fabulous that will feature kathryn hahn as eddie and kristin johnston as patsy? i was going to say something like "there will never be another eddie and patsy!" or "kristin johnston went to whitefish bay high school in wisconsin!" or "i lived in whitefish bay for a couple of years!" or some stupid shit like that.

well. i changed my mind.

Monday, February 9, 2009

the tuesdays store

there aren't any tuesdays t-shirts or boxer shorts yet, and there's no cd of my greatest piano bar hits. still, i think it's a pretty cool idea: how can i share with you stuff that i love, or that is part of this blog?

tuesdays now has it's own amazon store (think of it as an expanded version of the "buy this stuff" ad.) the tuesdays store is loaded with stuff that i think you should own. to get there, click on that fancy logo (one will remain in the sidebar.)

check out the different categories, including: read 'em and weep (books i've actually read) the b.o.a.t. (the best of all time - my favorite albums, ever) and by popular demand, gay boy record party (stuff i made you listen to in my parents basement 30 years ago.) most items have a blurb from me telling you why you need to buy it. the lists and catagories will grow along with the blog.

what's in it for me? when you buy something, i get a suitcase of money from amazon. when you click on through to from the tuesdays store, i get a monkey (i've always wanted a monkey.) is there some birthday shopping you forgot to do? need a valentine's gift for your sweetie-pie? wanna do some early christmas/kwanza shopping? visit the tuesdays store and spend money in a recession, why don't you? or ignore my suggestions, click through to, and buy whatever you want (even if it's something i wish you wouldn't waste your money on.) if you buy enough stuff, amazon sends me the elephant man's bones.

what's the added cost to you? what's the catch?

nada. none. nix.

there's no difference in the price. there's absolutely no catch. you don't need to enter a code, wear a code, or know the password (swordfish.) you don't even have buy me coffee (but you still could.)

bookmark the tuesdays store, do all your shopping through tuesdays and we'll both be happy.


a president who speaks in full, clear, strikingly coherent sentences. not at all like "watching a drunk man trying to cross an icy road," – which is how paul begala described listening to george w. bush attempting to complete a sentence – "you're rooting for him but you know he just isn't going to make it."

what's even better are the poll numbers that came out today (no, not john mccain's email petition poll.) those numbers, the prime-time press conference and more are summed up nicely by josh marshall.
UPDATE 2/10/09 – i've now heard at least four republican pundit-types complain that obama is too well-spoken. (tee-hee!)

young and foolish

michael phelps has had a week long mea culpa for smoking pot at a college party during his three months off from swimming. i sincerely doubt that smoking pot before, during, or after getting in the pool enhances phelps' performance in any way. (it might make it more wacky, i don't know: "wow, dude! i'm underwater! i'm high and i'm underwater!") phelps couldn't very well deny it: some upstanding young college republican student* took photos and sold them to a british tabloid! (when do we get to meet him?)

on the other hand, the new york yankees' alex rodriguez has spent a long time now denying using any kind of performance enhancing drugs. oops. until today. today, in an interview with espn, a-rod finally fessed up:
“Back then it was a different culture. It was very loose. I was young, I was stupid, I was naïve.”
hey, a-rod, what about last week, when you were still denying using performance enhancing drugs? what about this interview with katie couric, from 2007? (or wait. were you loose, stupid and naïve then, too?)

as someone who was once loose, young, stupid, naive, and a number of other things, i can relate to feeling pressured into giving "the right" answer and, well...bending the truth. or ignoring it altogether. can't we all? but once you decide to...well, to not be stupid and naive anymore, one would hope you can take responsibility for not only your mistakes, but for the dishonesty in covering up those mistakes.

*c'mon – you seriously think a college democrat would do something like that?

always the bridesmaid

put the powder blue tux back in storage and save the money you'd spend on that tacky bridesmaids dress you'll only wear once in your life anyway: i ain't gettin' married this year.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

seth sets it straight

saturday night live's seth meyers delivers the message to kellogg's, u.s.a. swimming, and the kid who took the picture of michael phelps smoking pot.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

quote of the day

"A not-so-funny thing happened on the way to economic recovery.

Over the last two weeks, what should have been a deadly serious debate about how to save an economy in desperate straits turned, instead, into hackneyed political theater, with Republicans spouting all the old clichés about wasteful government spending and the wonders of tax cuts.

The American economy is on the edge of catastrophe, and much of the Republican Party is trying to push it over that edge."

UPDATE 2/8/09 krugman takes a look at what's happened to the stimulus bill in the senate over the last day or so, and doesn't like what he sees:
"My first cut says that the changes to the Senate bill will ensure that we have at least 600,000 fewer Americans employed over the next two years.

The real question now is whether Obama will be able to come back for more once it’s clear that the plan is way inadequate. My guess is no.

This is really, really bad."

Friday, February 6, 2009

we're all gonna die

one image: 100 meters long, 178 people, 20 days.

photographer simon hoegsberg has created an intriguing online image that i first saw about a week ago. it's a composite of photographs taken over the course of 20 days from the same spot on a railroad bridge in berlin (a fraction of which appears below.) at first glance, i thought it was interesting, but i moved on rather quickly.

over the course of the week i've returned to it time and again, sometimes without thinking. i've spent time with it, gotten to know it. each visit revealed something new, some new person, some new story to be told.

hoegsberg's title for the image, we're all gonna die – 100 meters of existence is nearly as intriguing as the image itself. the finality of that initial thought is not made any cheerier by labeling this an image merely of existence.

sometimes i expect to see myself in this image. sometimes i do. i see people i know, and people i've come to know. one particular face, one smirk or sideways look, can prove endlessly fascinating one day. the next day, another is much more interesting.

in many faces there appears to be a blissful ignorance – no immediate awareness of that statement: we're all gonna die. in a few – some sad, some stark, some content, some rebellious – there seems to be an unbelievably clear grasp of it.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

waiting for failure. or attack.

after reading this interview with former vice president dick cheney, tpm media's david kurtz, like me, is smelling the stench of "i told you so" hanging in the air:
"The GOP's plan to regain political viability in the short term rests on two disaster scenarios: the failure of the financial rescue efforts (stimulus, TARP, and other bailouts) to stave off complete economic collapse and a new mass casualty terrorist attack -- both of which they are positioning themselves to blame Obama for."

somewhere along the way

the "S" blinked off and on...slowly. st. louis, missouri. sometime in 2002.
(hat tip d. noble)

change i can believe in

not once during his eight years in office did our last president apologize for or even admit to making a mistake.

tonight, after fifteen days in office, our current president said: "i screwed up."

how's that for a change?

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

say yes to stimulation!

on sunday night, during the fourth quarter of the super bowl, thousands of tucson area comcast cable subscribers were inadvertently shown 28 seconds of porn. late in the quarter, larry fitzgerald scored to put the cardinals ahead and suddenly there's a man sitting on a sofa, unzipping his pants and "revealing his genitals." as an apology to their subscribers, comcast has offered to give $10 to each customer "who was impacted."

if someone gave me $10 every time i watched porn, i could retire by the end of the year.

fwd: say no to stimulation!

john "the fundamentals of our economy are strong" mccain has sent an email to his supporters asking them to "vote no" on the stimulus package. oh that's good. let's have a stimulus popularity contest.

guess what – we already have one. it's called the gallup organization, and their results show that 75% of americans support this stimulus package in one form or another. 56% of republicans want it passed, with changes. 20% of democrats and independents say reject the plan completely and only 35% of republicans agree with the scrap it and start over idea.

besides, doesn't john mccain already have a list of people who would vote no if he asked them to? aren't they called "the people who voted for him for president"? and does anyone really think this man has any credibility left on economic issues?

three four times a charm

little eric cantor's "dems don't mind raising your taxes 'cause they never pay 'em" joke ain't quite so funny anymore (for democrats, anyway.)

Monday, February 2, 2009

six more weeks

war v. art

the $50 million in the stimulus package, designated for the national endowment for the arts (undoubtedly one of the first things that will be cut this week, as the bill gets reshaped in the senate) is less than 1/6 of what we spend in iraq per day.

in fact, the cost of the iraq war to the taxpayers of milwaukee, wisconsin alone could have provided that community with 14,135 music and arts teachers for one year, 127,384 scholarships for university students for one year, or 552,407 people with health care for one year.

what, is it 1950?

michael phelps smoked some pot. at a college party in columbia, south carolina. a british tabloid newspaper published a photo of him doing it. (how those college kids at didn't notice the british guy with the camera wandering around the party...well, they were smoking pot.)

we get this reaction from the united states olympic committee:
"We are disappointed in the behavior recently exhibited by Michael Phelps. Michael is a role model, and he is well aware of the responsibilities and accountability that come with setting a positive example for others, particularly young people. In this instance, regrettably, he failed to fulfill those responsibilities. Michael has acknowledged that he made a mistake and apologized for his actions."
quite honestly, i think wally needs to be grounded, don't you ward?