13 January 2006

News My Father Would Love

My father insists on calling my stepmother's favorite country music artist by his relationship to other people. He's known, for instance, as Faith Hill's Husband or Tug McGraw's Boy. I'm talking about Tim McGraw here, and it's possible that my father will soon have a new name for him: Bill Frist's Successor.

McGraw is considering entering politics sometime in the future, and before you start saying disparaging things about country music and NASCAR, wait a minute. Actually, mock country and NASCAR all you want, but mocking McGraw may be counterproductive: he's a Democrat. More interestingly, he's a Democrat with the support of Bill Clinton, whom McGraw calls the best President we ever had:
I think he's got it, Clinton says of McGraw in an Esquire magazine story that hits newsstands Monday. The Democrats need candidates whom people can relate to in a personal way, people who understand their lives and their concerns and share their values. And I think that's something Tim can do without even pretending.
Maybe McGraw was talking about health care when he wrote I like it, I love it, I want some more of it. Sorry, couldn't resist.

The Weekend Is Nigh

Billy: Peeing your pants is the coolest!
Old Lady: If peeing your pants is cool, consider me Miles Davis.
Billy: That's the grossest thing I've ever heard.

I'm going to be out of the office this afternoon, but that's no reason for me not to give you some of the Friday fun that you'll, hopefully, come to expect. Last Friday, it was THE ULTIMATE SHOWDOWN. This week, it's a live-action re-creation of Mike Tyson's PunchOut. Seriously. I'm not kidding.

My First Post/Year End Best Films

I thought it fitting to have my first post be a year in review of of film. So here goes:

Best films of the year:

Me You and Everyone We Know: Written, Directed and Featuring Miranda July.
When I heard that performance artist July was set to make her first feature film, I assumed it would be an assorted collection of montages with people throwing human excrement at walls and men drawing forest animals with homeless women’s' tampons. I was presently surprised to discover that it was, in fact, one of the most delicate character pieces of the year, exploring the connectedness of sexuality at all ages. With amazing performances from the entire cast including July herself in a semi-autobiographical role. This is a must see for people who don't enjoy crap.

Murderball: Directed by Henry Alex Rubin and Dana Adam Shapiro.
This is a documentary about quadriplegics who play a game of full-contact rugby in suped-up "Mad Max-style" wheelchairs. A thinking man's Jackass. The first time you see one dude, take out the other dude by smashing into him with his wheelchair, you are hooked.

The Squid and The Whale: Directed and Written by Noah Baumbach.
The best film I have ever seen about a family going through a divorce. Wonderful performances by all, especially Jeff Daniels in the role of the family's patriarch and child actors who don't make you want to walk outside and sucker punch a pregnant woman. It is also refreshing to see such an honest film about divorce, delivered with such unflinchingly raw humor, which is a great escape from the usual after-school special approach to divorce in film.

Rounding out the top-10.


Good Night, and Good Luck




40 Year Old Virgin


I will post further reviews of film and music as the year carries on but I'm afraid were in for a lot of crap at the box office until after the Oscars, so keep your fingers crossed.

11 January 2006

Jesus' General Reviews Women Who Make The World Worse

Good Lord, if there's any of Christ's soldiers that I consistently salute, it's old "Gen. J.C. Christian." He's reviewed right-wing, self-hating-woman Kate O'Beirne's new tract Women Who Make the World Worse: and How Their Radical Feminist Assault Is Ruining Our Schools, Families, Military and Sports at Amazon. Behold, the Glory of the the Lord is revealed:
But I think it's her frequent attacks against the television show, "Sex in the City," that I value most about this book. By promoting the myth that women should enjoy sex, that show has done more to destroy the institution of marriage than even homosexual unions. I think most men will agree with me when I say that there isn't a woman alive who isn't thoroughly repulsed by sex. Telling them that it should be a pleasant experience rather than a vomit-inducing one only serves to cause them to resent their husbands when the impossible isn't delivered. Hopefully, this book will help destroy that myth.
God Bless and Godspeed, General. Godspeed.

Also, no more post-midnight blogging for me.


Yes, we all love baseball. Yes, we all love the Red Sox. We love them. The promise of opening day is the only thing that keeps me alive from January to March. I'd love to craft some lengthy post on the comings and goings of their personnel (on and off the field) and the consequent effects on their record come spring. Sadly for me, I'm not Peter Gammons or Gordon Edes. Sadly for you, I'm neither of them and at some point in the next few months you'll be subjected to precisely that. But, luckily for you, I'm not Dan Shaughnessy either.

This post, however, has nothing directly to do with the Sox. As I lay me down to sleep this evening, the newest Fire Brand of the American League post landed in my Inbox. Andrew, a ridiculously intelligent gentleman on all things Red Sox(I also recommend his other site, 12eight,) listed his five favorite baseball movies. I'm no Lee1, but I've seen some movies in my day. I'll let you check Andrew's list on your own. Here's mine:

5. Eight Men Out - Sorry, not only do I like all things Olde Tyme Base Ball, but I think this flick worked on every level. It's an important moment in baseball history, back when ballplayers literally were the guys next door, only better. Gets the period down, and the acting, for a sports movie especially is pretty good. Also, you know John Cusack is in the movie and you're pretty sure he must play Shoeless Joe. He doesn't; D.B. Sweeney does.
4. The Sandlot "You're killin' me smalls!"; "Give 'em the cheese!"; "For-e-ver"; "You play ball like a girrrrrrrl!" Maybe it's an age thing, but I'm putting it ahead of Bad News Bears simply because I'd be posing if I pretended that Tanner and the boys made a real dent in my late-80s psyche.
3. Major League I think the Bruins are a five-game losing streak away from Patrice Bergeron pulling a Rick Vaughan, even though Mike Sullivan is not half as archetypical as James Gammon (played by Lou Brown). Also, the naked picture thing won't work with Jeremy Jacobs.
2. Field of Dreams I can't talk about this movie right now. I've got allergies. The neighbor's cat just walked out onto the porch and I can see it. James Earl Jones, the hot dog, the foul line. Really, it's the neighbor's cat.
1. The Natural I don't care what you say. It's really a toss-up between this and Field of Dreams and I'm going with this one simply because of the home-run: lights breaking, Roy Hobbs running the bases, crowd going crazy. Also, Hobbs wears Teddy Ballgame's number and wants to be known as "the greatest hitter who ever lived."

You might notice that Bull Durham isn't on my list. You know why? Robert Wuhl sucks. Tim Robbins couldn't throw a baseball if the lives of several Cambodian children depended on it and the stupid "Church of Baseball" crap makes me want to wish I'd never heard of church or baseball. I will concede the "candlesticks" scene is pretty amusing, the first time.

1Yes, this is a blatant attempt to goad him into writing something.

10 January 2006

The Transcript ...

... doesn't really do it justice. Alito seemed appalled at the line of questioning. I'm still not defending him, but I can't figure out what Graham was trying to do.
GRAHAM: For those who are watching who are not lawyers, generally speaking, in all of the wars that we've been involved in we don't let the people trying to kill us sue us. Right? And we're not going to let them go at an arbitrary time period if we think they're still dangerous because we don't want to go have to shoot at them again or let them shoot at us again.

Is that a good summary of the law of armed conflict?

ALITO: I don't know whether I'd put it quite that broadly, Senator.


The precedent that you -- the Johnson v. Eisentrager, of course, has been substantially modified, if not overruled. Ex Parte Quirin, of course, is still a precedent.

There was a lower precedent involving someone who fought with the Italian army. And I can't remember the exact name of it. And that was the case that I thought you were referring to when you first framed the question.

But those are the precedents in the area. Then, if you go back to the Civil War, there's Ex Parte Milligan and a few others.

GRAHAM: We don't have to go back that far.


ALITO: Well, in this area...

GRAHAM: Well...

ALITO: ... it's actually instructive to do it.
Since no one else is really mentioning it, maybe I'm the one who's gone off the deep end here. I just found, maybe not the questions themselves, but the manner in which they were delivered, to be out of context. He was giving a stump speech. Of course, this is also the first confirmation hearing to which I've had the luxury of paying close attention, so maybe this is the way it always goes down.

Ladies and Gentlemen ...

Lindsey Graham (R-SC). The esteemed gentleman from the Palmetto State is either torpedoing his own SCOTUS nominee or falling on the grenade to make said nominee look more liberal than should be expected. Alito looks downright uncomfortable with Graham's insistence that there should be no judicial recourse for enemy combatants, either US citizens or foreign nationals. He's cringing with the end of every question.

Graham is absolutely coming off, to me, as a total wingnut who thinks there are no differences between the GWOT and WWII while Alito is defending Hamdi and, if Graham would let him, Milligan. Now, I can only see two options here:

1. Graham doesn't care how this effects Alito's confirmation. He's got a stage and a mostly captive audience and he's going to use it however he wants. Given that Graham is batshit, this isn't necessarily unlikely.

2. He's intentionally camping on the extreme right and articulating a doctrine that's so utterly indefensible that it alters the perception of Alito's answers. In fact, I found myself at one point saying You're damned right, Sammy! Tell him! This would be an ingeneous play, and contains just enough smoke and mirrors that it would be impossible to prove. As I said before, Graham is batshit crazy, so anything's possible. I would say this is likely, but I don't think Graham would be the Senator to do it --- both Kyl and Cornyn are more likely to pull it off.

Once I find a transcript posted, I'll comb through it and post some of the best exchanges. Sadly, however, I doubt that they'll include [awkward pause] and [deep sigh].

UPDATE: John Aravosis thinks Graham's just evil, like the rest of the Rs in town.
UPDATE 2: I wasn't saying that Hamdi was good law or that I'm glad Alito was defending it ... I just ... umm ... I hope it will make sense when I post the transcript, otherwise I'll look like a tool.

Meet the New Boss?

Now, the Republicans are never going to find a Majority Leader that I'm comfortable with or that I like, mostly because I don't want them to have a Majority Leader at all. Of course, Tom Delay is one of the worst people ever, let alone what kind of politician he is. His troubles (i.e., his illegal, unethical and immoral behavior) have been well-documented over the last few months. So, one might be tempted to think that the House, even under Republican control, couldn't get a much worse Majority Leader than Ye Olde Hammer. DavidNYC at Swing State Project begs to differ:
If Blunt takes over for DeLay, it wouldn't be a succession so much as it would be a direct cloning process.

You see, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) has named Roy Blunt one of the thirteen most-corrupt members of Congress, at their appropriately-named site "Beyond DeLay." The rap sheet on Blunt is longer than an elephant's trunk. He's done all the usual things, like take money from DeLay and Abramoff.

But he's also taken a trip to Korea paid for by a registered foreign agent (that's against House rules); wrote a letter on gambling favorable to an Abramoff client after taking money from Abramoff (that would be against the law); and tried to insert a stealth amendment benefitting tobacco giant Philip Morris into a Homeland Security bill (that's just plain scummy). The Philip Morris stuff is actually very interesting, because his son Andrew lobbies for Philip Morris; his wife Abigail also lobbies for Philip Morris; his other sonMatt (governor of Missouri) has received tons of questionable Philip Morris cash; and - wait for it - Blunt's biggest campaign contributor is Philip Morris. See a pattern here?
Indeed I do. While we may be forced to put up with Roy Blunt, Majority Leader for about a year, we can at least do our best to make sure he's Minority Leader for the 110th Congress. And if we could clone Tip O'Neill and install him as Speaker, that'd be great too.

09 January 2006

Liberal Support for Alito

Really, I'm not certain what to make of this, but ... information wants to be free, so here you go:
The "deciding specific issues" approach to judicial decisionmaking has been associated with the Justice that Alito would replace, Sandra Day O'Connor. O'Connor is known for writing very narrow opinions that resolve little more than the precise set of facts presented to the Court - and some have criticized her for that practice, preferring that Justices write expansive opinions laying down broad rules for future cases. I asked Pringle whether she thought Alito was in "the O'Connor mold" in this respect. She thought that he was. She described Alito as "interested in focusing on the immediate case at hand. He is not someone who is eager to reach out and grab broad principles and institute them separate and apart from the case." I asked whether Alito might alter his case-by-case approach to judging on the Supreme Court. Pringle didn't think he would.


Moving into more dangerous territory, I asked Pringle whether she had any sense of how Alito would apply stare decisis (the doctrine counseling respect for precedent) on the Supreme Court. Her view is that, because of Alito's tremendous respect for the Supreme Court as an institution, he is unlikely to overturn precedent lightly. Rather, he will grapple with existing precedent, even when he might have decided the original case differently, and will give considerable importance to the opinions and approaches of the Justices that came before him. She thought that overall Alito's approach would probably resemble that described by now-Chief Justice Roberts in Roberts' confirmation hearings. As to specifics, Pringle was not willing to hazard a guess as to whether, given the chance, Alito would vote to overrule hot-button cases like Roe v. Wade and Lawrence v. Texas.


Pringle's bottom line is a pragmatic one. Of course, Alito would not have been on John Kerry's or any other Democrat's short list for the Supreme Court. But, as we all know, John Kerry didn't win in 2004, nor did the Democrats capture a majority in the Senate. Given that reality, Pringle said, "I'd rather have someone who has real intellectual ability, who has experience, who has a history of making these kinds of difficult decisions, and who has demonstrated respect for the Court as an institution, than a stealth candidate." And given the other candidates on the "conservative short list," Pringle is optimistic about Alito. She says that he will treat every case fairly, and that "we'll be proud to have him on the Court."
So there you have it. He's not my cup of tea, in fact I'd probably throw the cup out after, but I'm more than willing to entertain these counter-arguments until they're proven otherwise. That, after all, is what the rest of the week is all about.

Alito Poetry

Day 1 of the Alito Hearings in ... Haiku, from Hotline, via Kos.

My favorites, one R and one D:

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX)

Religious freedom
Rather than pornography
Cherish the former.

Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE)

You're Conservative
"We Can Pretend That's Not True"
But, Judge, Bro, it is.

Shorter Chuck Schumer

There are three reasons we'll be grilling you extra tough:

1. Your judicial opinions make you seem like a wingnut.
2. Sandra Day O'Connor was no wingnut.
3. Everyone who likes you is a wingnut.

Mr. Alito, are you a wingnut?

Monday (Not-So) Morning Notes

I had an awfully long post about a couple articles in the Globe this morning, but my computer froze and so it is lost to time. Suffice it to say:

1. Boston's homicide rate is not as bad as Baltimore or D.C., yet not as good as Austin, Portland or Seattle.

2. The defense should not have to prove anything to obtain grand jury records, or any records. The burden of proof is on the plaintiff in criminal cases and nothing should undermine that. That said, I do think that the prosecutor should be able to supress those records, given abundant reason to suspect ill action, specifically witness intimidation, will result. But it should be the prosecutor who seeks the supression not the defense who seeks the release. Then again, I'm not a lawyer, so I could be wrong.

3. Police, specifically increased numbers are them, are not the answer. Never have been and never will be. Concentrating existing law enforcement on new initiatives and projects, using them in more concerted efforts, is a potential solution, and one that has worked in other places and at other times.

4. Stop cutting programs that assist inner-city youth. How can anyone act surprised when we find out that the homicide rate skyrocketed, with mostly 15-24 year olds involved on both ends, at the same time we cut funding to programs designed precisely to aid and assist that population?

Okay, national news time. (You're beginning to imagine just how long the prior post was and thanking my computer for eating it, aren't you?) Sam Alito's confirmation hearings started today at noon. Well, introductions started at noon, which means the actual hearings will start tomorrow. Luckily enough, that gives you enough time to read this by ReddHedd of firedoglake. If you don't feel like you know as much as you want to know, or want to make sure you know what you think you know, check it out.

Lastly, and conveniently, though perhaps not coincidentally, BushvChoice and NARAL have combined their pro-choice powers to form Blog for Choice. Seems to me that this could be a valuable forum for advocating choice and combatting some of the arguments put out by anti-choice circles. They've got an incredible consortium over there, so if you're interested in it --- or in the future of privacy in the US --- hop over and read some of the best bloggers on the subject.

Okay, I'm done for now. Hope everyone had a good weekend and that your weeks are off to a good start as well.

Schwarzenegger and Son in Low-speed Motorcycle Accident

Andrew: Would you like a ride home?

Sam: Fine. But I'm not getting in that sidecar.

Andrew: Why not?

Sam: Sidecars are for bitches.

Really, the Governator and his son are fine.

08 January 2006

Everything You Know About Lemmings Is A Lie

Son of a bitch ...

Trivia for White Wilderness (1958):
"This picture was filmed in Alberta, Canada, which is not a native habitat for lemmings. They were imported from Manitoba for use in the film, and were purchased from Inuit children by the filmmakers. The Arctic rodents were placed on a snow-covered turntable and filmed from various angles to produce a 'migration' sequence; afterwards, the helpless creatures were transported to a cliff overlooking a river and herded into the water. The entire sequence was faked using a handful of lemmings deceptively photographed to create the illusion of a large herd of migrating creatures. This has become the basis of a widespread belief that lemmings commit suicide en masse when their numbers grow too large, which is not the case.
Disney. Leave it to Disney.