Archive for March 12th, 2007

Parse For The Course

From Dubya’s press conference in Colombia, by way of The All-Seeing Eye Of Froomkin:

Q — Capitol Hill are finding it disconcerting that the number of U.S. troops deployed keeps climbing. Even the budget revisions that you announced a couple of days ago ordered up more. I’m wondering, do you think that the American citizens should now look at the troop buildup that you announced in January, the 21,500, as merely a starting point?

(…)

PRESIDENT BUSH: The troop announcement I made was over 20,000 combat troops. Secretary Gates and General Pace went up to Congress and testified to the effect that those combat troops are going to need some support. And that’s what the American people are seeing in terms of Iraq, the support troops necessary to help the reinforcements do their job.

I like how the original figure apparently didn’t include the troops that would be needed to support the troops. Reading between the lines a little bit, this sounds like an admission that the Iraqi troops aren’t doing squat. The Cunning Surge Plan, such as it was, was predicated on significant participation from Iraqi troops, and since that ain’t happenin’, Bush has seen fit to accelerate the total disintegration of the Army, and presumably the Guard and Reserves as well.

In other news, I made under a million dollars last year. Yay me!

2 comments March 12th, 2007 at 05:46pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Iraq,Wankers,War

Too Many Wankers!

Dammit, I can’t keep up with them all. Here’s Fred Barnes, again by way of The All-Seeing Eye Of Froomkin:

The White House staff reflects the president. This is obvious to the point of being a truism. Yet it needs to be remembered in the context of a Bush presidency smacked by Scooter Libby’s felony conviction, the Walter Reed Army Medical Center scandal, and the overblown flap over the firing of eight U.S. attorneys. And of course there’s still the war in Iraq, which remains unpopular. Given all this, why hasn’t the president’s staff drifted into despair and gloom and given up? Because President Bush hasn’t.

Bush’s relentlessly upbeat demeanor, which he flaunts at press conferences and other public events, infuriates his political opponents and much of the mainstream media. They want him to act like the broken man they think he should be. Sorry, but he’s a healthy man, mentally and physically. He’s bolstered by his religious faith, his sense of mission, his scorn for elite opinion, and what an aide calls “his really good physical shape.” Exercise and sleep help to “keep his spirits high,” the aide says.

Agh. Gak. Ptui.

I think Barnes’s man-crush is about to bubble over into full-blown stalking. “Die, Laura, die! He’s my husband! Mine, all mine! We’ll be together forever… and ever… and ever… and ever!”

3 comments March 12th, 2007 at 05:08pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Media,Politics,Republicans,Wankers

Un-Wanker Of The Day

Hey, remember a coupla weeks ago when the Delta Zeta national office booted two-thirds of their DePauw chapter for not being pretty enough, but claimed it was because they were lazy, uncommitted slackers? Let’s see how that’s working out for them…

DePauw University severed its ties today with a national sorority that attracted controversy when it evicted two-thirds of its DePauw members late last year. The sorority called the evictions an effort to improve its image for recruitment, but the evicted women described it as a purge of the unattractive or uncool.

“We at DePauw do not like the way our students were treated,” the president of the university, Robert G. Bottoms, said in a letter to the sorority, Delta Zeta. “We at DePauw believe that the values of our university and those of the national Delta Zeta sorority are incompatible.”

(…)

“Delta Zeta National apologizes to any of our women at DePauw who felt personally hurt by our actions,” the sorority said in a message posted earlier this month on its Web site. “It was never our intention to disparage or hurt any of our members during this chapter reorganization process.”

Well, at least they’re sorry, and hopefully they’ve learned a very valuable less-

In addition to the apology, the sorority also posted on its Web site statements critical of the women who were forced out of the DePauw chapter, and of faculty members who supported them.

Oh. So much for that apology. “We’re sorry their feelings were hurt, but they totally suck, and so does everyone who stood by them.” Niiiice.

In the letter the university sent to Delta Zeta today, Dr. Bottoms said the sorority’s decision to publicize that criticism of the women and faculty members contributed to his decision.

“The arrangement we have with Greek organizations is that they’re guests of ours, and we expect them to live up to university standards, and in this case Delta Zeta did not,” Dr. Bottoms said in the interview. “This means that sorority can’t exist on our campus as an organization, beginning in the fall.”

Gee, I guess those standards thingies cut both ways, huh. Adios, Shallow Evil Sorority.

The only reason Bottoms is merely an unwanker and not a doubleplusunwanker is that it took him three months to make this decision instead of three hours. But he did make the right one.

4 comments March 12th, 2007 at 04:31pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Wankers

More Gore At The Movies

Hopefully this is good news…

Tired of abuse by mankind, the earth is angry. Worse, the planet is out to even the score.

Audiences can expect a story along those lines when M. Night Shyamalan’s film “The Happening” reaches screens in the next year. The project, to which 20th Century Fox signed on last week, imagines a planet that is starting to act like the vigilante Travis Bickle from “Taxi Driver.”

“The Happening” will not be the only big-budget studio film to test a new kind of villainy, in which the real victim is the environment, and, whatever the plot variations, the enemy is all of us. Beginning this summer and for months after, movies as diverse as the “The Simpsons Movie,” “Transformers,” a remake of “Creature From the Black Lagoon,” and James Cameron’s “Avatar” will take on environmental themes.

Dumping popular Hollywood villains of the past — drug lords, aliens, North Korean dictators, even the news media — for an environmental bête noire carries risks for studios that don’t mind frightening viewers, as long as it’s all in fun. But it also hints at the possibility of more sophisticated entertainment, and perhaps even the kind of impact that “The China Syndrome,”Jane Fonda and Michael Douglas, exerted on the nuclear power industry when it came out in 1979. with

That an environmental consciousness should be slipping into the film industry’s prospective blockbusters is not surprising in an era when Al Gore and friends have picked up an Oscar (and hefty box-office returns) for their global-warming documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth,” and when the debate it fed has largely slipped its partisan moorings.

(…)

While acknowledging the delicacy of making all of us somehow responsible for villainy — will viewers squirm at the notion of humanity as a monster? — Jon Landau, who is producing the film with Mr. Cameron, described the twist as a natural one. “Good science fiction plays as a metaphor for our current world,” he said.

At the same time, Mr. Landau stressed that Mr. Cameron’s lifelong approach has been to treat social lessons as secondary to entertainment. “People who see the theme will get an important message” as something of a bonus, he said.

(A similar ploy succeeded in “The Day After Tomorrow,” Roland Emmerich’s 2004 thriller that initially generated controversy with its climate-change theme, but did well for Fox.)

An environmentalist China Syndrome that keeps people scared after they leave the theater would be ideal, but I don’t think any of these movies are going to do that. The China Syndrome was grittily realistic enough that viewers could easily imagine it happening in real life (as indeed it almost did), while this new crop of films are escapist fantasy, and will register on the consciousness as such. They are really not all that different from the nuclear monster movies of the fifties or the man-vs-nature movies of the seventies.

Even so, they should still move the needle a little bit, and start people to thinking about the environment more than they used to. My biggest worry is that we’ll learn the wrong lesson, and start viewing the Earth as an enemy to be defeated and subjugated. Assuming we’re not already there.

2 comments March 12th, 2007 at 11:15am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Environment,Movies

Wankers Of The Day

Samuel Popkin and Henry Kim in yesterday’s WaPo explain why the Democratic sweep in 2006 was good for Republicans, and generously offer the Democrats some helpful “advice”:

The Democrats’ road to the White House in 2008 runs through Congress, and it is uphill all the way. The last time either party captured the White House two years after wresting control of both House and Senate in midterm elections was in 1920. Democrats who think that it is their turn to expand their pet programs and please their core constituencies have forgotten how quickly congressional heavy-handedness can revive the president’s party.

Nice. They start out with a statistical argument that ignores the utter rock-bottom awfulness of this administration, then warn the Democrats to sit down and shut up if they know what’s good for ’em.

Presidents and their parties recover after midterm wipeouts because, as Clinton had to remind people in 1995, “The Constitution makes me relevant.”

The president’s party begins to recover when he wields his veto pen — especially if he can establish his relevance as a defender of the center against the other party’s excesses.

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! If you needed any proof that these guys are not serious, that was it right there. Unfortunately, they’re not done.

Each time since 1948 that one party has retaken one or more houses of Congress and then two years later lost the race for the White House, that party has scapegoated its candidate for the party’s sins. But in each case, the congressional party placed onerous burdens on the candidates. Would Truman have won without the “do-nothing Congress” to run against in 1948? Would anyone have known about the Dukakis-Willie Horton episode if the congressional Democrats had produced a defensible record on crime in 1988? Or if Democrats hadn’t pushed for a welfare bill that looked “soft on work,” would “tax and spend” have been such a powerful epithet in 1988?

he 2008 Democratic nominee is likely to be a current or former senator. That makes the legislative record of the next two years even more important to winning the White House. No clever slogans can help a candidate overcome legislative excess and partisan overkill.

Democrats cannot overplay their hand the way Republicans did in 1995 after taking both houses and Democrats did in 1987 after taking the Senate. To win the presidency, Democrats must use their control of the legislative agenda to keep Republicans divided and build a unifying record for 2008.

Now we get into specific recommendations. This one is my favorite:

o Use hearings to restore confidence in government, not to attack Republicans.

Democrats can now use hearings to expose sweetheart deals in Iraq and the Department of Homeland Security, hordes of incompetent appointees, the role of Halliburton and other favored beneficiaries of “privatization” policies, drug prices and Vice President Cheney’s energy task force.

They can bottle up extreme judicial nominees and they can publicize regulatory misdeeds. But such rebuffs of Republican excess will not demonstrate that Democrats can govern competently.

Too much emphasis on the negative makes Democrats look as though they care more about bringing down the GOP than making government serve ordinary people. And investigations without solutions risk generating an indictment of government itself. According to the Democracy Corps Poll last month, Americans consider government waste and inefficiency a bigger problem than they do misplaced spending priorities or the wealthy not paying enough taxes. If Democrats want to create new programs for health or education, they must convince people that they are restoring the basic competence of government.

How do you expose incompetent officials, second-rate appointments and poorly armed troops, then ask everyone to trust the same government to provide health care at a lower cost than in the current system? If everything Bush and Karl Rove touch has turned to dross, why throw good money after bad? Nothing will hurt the GOP more than a Democratic Party that fixes government, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the broken military hospital system.

Yes, God forbid that the Democrats should try to shine a light on six years of Republican criminality. It would just make people distrust the government and make the Democrats look like big ol’ meanies who don’t know how to govern. I agree that the Democrats should have a plan to fix what Bush and the Republicans have broken, but that’s no reason not to hold anyone accountable.

Popkin and Kim also issue some dire warnings against becoming captive to single-issue fanatics like those freaks who want us out of Iraq (you know, the ones who make up 65-70% of the population), or trying to redeploy the savings from ending the war to domestic programs (that would show they’re weak on defense!).

Their final two bullet points are about how insurance programs like Social Security and Medicare are good, but welfare is bad, as is any kind of insurance program where rich people don’t get more benefits than everyone else. (Um, can’t they afford supplemental insurance if the free government insurance isn’t enough for them? It’s not like the Democrats are going to outlaw private insurance…) They recommend advocating some kind of government subsidies of the uninsured instead of “one-size-fits-all” government health insurance for everybody.

I agree with them that the Democrats should force Bush into the position of vetoing popular legislation, but I’m just not buying their definition of popular. The whole thing reads like a DLC hit piece, or one of those Brooks or Novak columns where they offer Democrats free advice out of the goodness of their black little hearts.

The fundamental problem with the column is that Popkim completely ignore the message of the 2006 elections. They were an expression of voter disgust, anger, and frustration over six years of corruption, incompetence, lies, depravity, and disastrous war without end. Anyone who suggests that the Democrats should go easy on the administration for fear of backlash hasn’t been paying attention. The backlash is what will happen if the Democrats don’t attack. It’s what they were voted in for.

2 comments March 12th, 2007 at 07:49am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Democrats,Elections,Media,Politics,Wankers

Monday Media Blogging

By way of Pink Tentacle, the visionary insanity that is Koichiro Tsujikawa:

2004 Olympics promo:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rwtu77p4U_w

Fun with stop-motion:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7AeodCMHCFk

March 12th, 2007 at 06:25am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Monday Media Blogging


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