Wednesday, August 31, 2011

West Wing Wednesday

The week's halfway done, let's watch a little bit of the West Wing to take the edge off:

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Terrific Tuesday Tidings: Labor, Libya, and a Little Bible Study

It's Tuesday and that means it's time for my ongoing quest to become a more positive person. Here are the news stories that made me happy this week:
  • And proving that I can at least always count on Labor to stand up to the rightwing wackjobs, the Wisconsin Marathon County Central Labor Council has banned all local Republican electeds from taking part in their Labor Day Parade, because they voted for and/or endorsed Scott Walker's Union Busting Bill.  Actions should have consequences, and you shouldn't be able to vote to destroy organized labor one day and then get the goodwill and publicity in marking in a parade celebrating the contributions Unions have made to this country.
  • Senator Bernie Sanders wins the coveted elected official of the week award for suggesting that we make a modest increase in the Social Security tax cap to ensure that the program will last for at least another 75 years without needing cuts.  Which besides being good policy, shows just how absurd the Republican lie is that we need to cut or eliminate the program in order to 'save' it.
  • Proving once again that Republicans just use "waste and fraud" as an excuse to cut much needed welfare programs, Florida is spending thousands of dollars in drug tests to save hundreds of dollars in welfare going to people on drugs.  Sounds like fiscal responsibility to me.
  • Finally, I just want to give a shout out to both the federal judiciary and the four Christian ministers who have filed lawsuits against the racist Alabama immigration law which is most easily compared to the Fugitive Slave Act.  I (rightfully) spend a lot of time on this blog mocking and attacking the Religious Right, and so it's only fair that I give admiration and thanks to real Christian leaders who remember Gods command to "render true judgements, show kindness and mercy to one another; do not oppress the widow, the orphan, the alien, or the poor; and do not devise evil in your hearts against one another" (Zechariah 9-10).
That's all folks, have a great week!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Monday Makeover: Louie the Lilac

There are no bad characters, just characters that no one has spent far too much time thinking about how to make work.  I intend to fix that.

Louie the Lilac marks a first for the Monday Makeover, as he has no comic book appearances.  Instead, he has only made two appearances in the 1968 Batman show starring Adam West, both times played by Milton Berle.  In his premiere episode (appropriately entitled "Louie the Lilac"), Louie had what I honestly believe is the single most well thought out supervillain plan ever.  He would use mind control drugs (derived from his lilacs) to gain control over the hippies of Gotham City.  They were more than happy to take the drugs, and Louie reasoned that someday they would grow up to be in positions of power and influence, and then he'd basically own the city.  That's an internally consistent, logical (assuming you had mind controlled drugs derived from lilacs), plan that doesn't involve at any point taunting the police or Batman to catch you.  He was only caught through bad luck (Batgirl happened to be college friends with one of the hippies he kidnapped to test his drugs on).  With a mind that cunning, one has to wonder why Louie the Lilac isn't remembered as one of the classic Batman villains.  And the answer would be his second appearance (in "Louie's Lethal Lilac Time"), where he kidnapped Bruce Wayne in order to have him perform amateur veterinary surgery on endangered animals so that Louie could use their scent glands to make expensive perfume cheaply.  In contrast to his first plan, this is possibly the most idiotic supervillain plan I have ever seen.  And after that, Louie the Lilac was never seen or hear from again.

I want this.
I can't defend the fractured logic that makes one kidnap a billionaire playboy and his ward to perform veterinary surgery.  That's just stupid and incomprehensible, but so were most of the plans of the villains on the Adam West Batman show.  It was supposed to be silly and campy, and the villains were just there to let comedians like Milton Berle ham it up.  That's why I'm willing to ignore the stupidity of his second plan, and instead focus on his first.  Because all of the reasons that forgive his second scheme make the genius of his first more impressive.  And it is genius.  He had the foresight to realize that the flower children would grow out of their hippy ways and take up positions of power and authority.  If Louie were real and was able to control anyone who smoked his pot...I mean lilacs, he would have been directly running the United States since 1992, and indirectly since the 70s.  That's an opponent worthy of Batman.

Louie the Lilac was a patient man, he always had been.  It was a complete fluke that the strain he was working on in his parents basement caused a hypnotic effect in those who smoked it.  Most teenage boys would have probably tried to get a cheerleader high and ended up serving jail time.  Not Louie, he spent the next four years cornering the market at Gotham State University, and the most he ever used his influence for was to encourage his customers to share his product with their friends.  Twenty years down the line and every professional in Gotham with a craving was buying Lilac.  Not from Louie directly of course, no need to take that risk when he could just command his dealer's not to ever mention him.  Which is ironically what ultimately brought him onto Batman's radar, no street level dealer fails to give up his boss when dangling off the Kane Memorial Bridge, and certainly not three.  But even if (when) Batman finds him, Louie has plenty of powerful friends in his rolodex willing to do anything he asks.  And where do you find a judge, jury, and prosecutor who've never smoked up.  And even if you do, his never disloyal lieutenants will just keep the empire running until Louie finds a Blackgate Prison guard who lied on his application about his drug history.

Louie the Lilac has taken root in Gotham City, and he's not going anywhere.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Friday Freakshow Roundup: Crazies, Craigslist, and Qaddafi's Crush

In the political news system, the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups: the Republicans who do insane things, and this blogger who mocks them. These are their stories:

  • Rick Perry's decision to undergo an unsanctioned, experimental, dangerous back surgery is a troubling sign that he's willing to gamble with his own life.  His plan as governor to let Wall Street bet on when retired teachers will die show that he has no problem gambling with your life too.  Which may explain why he says it's "a fact" that Social Security and Medicare aren't going to exist for future generations.  Also why he backs a flat tax that besides encouraging black markets and smuggling, would bankrupt seniors.  But hey, if God is responsible for the recession, maybe in Perry's world He'll be responsible for taking care of all the people whose lives have been ruined.  If any of that sounds troubling, don't worry Perry has an explanation: he shouldn't be held responsible for the things he's said and written.  Which is similar to the American Family Association's defense of their refusal to attack Rick Perry for his pornographic past, that it happened before they were paying attention.
  • With stonewalling like that, it almost makes you respect Republicans like Rep. Randy Hultgren, who froze up when asked how the Bush Tax Cuts helped jobs, or Bob Turner (who's running for Anthony Weiner's old seat), who thinks that 9/11 rescue volunteers don't deserve healthcare.  Sure they're idiots, but at least they have the guts to say these stupid things to their constituents.  And Eric Cantor showed why he's their Majority Leader.  After the Japanese nuclear disaster caused by an earthquake earlier this year, he wanted to cut earthquake monitoring.  And showing that God has more of a sense of humor than Republicans ever give Him credit for, this week's earthquake was centered in Cantor's district and knocked out a nuclear plant there.  Don't worry though, in the wake of the quake, Cantor has already announced he opposes Federal Disaster Relief for his district, unless offset by cuts elsewhere in the budget.  So he's an internally consistent idiot.
  • In a change of pace from our usual Republican gay sex scandal, Missouri Lt. Governor Peter Kinder has realized that stalking strippers is not consistent with his Christian upbringing.  Maybe years of Catholic school gave me a head start on this, but was that really something that he needed to reflect on?
  • I'd hate for you to think that there wasn't any Republican gay sex scandal news this week, so a little followup on Craigslist John Indiana State Rep. Phillip Hinkle.  While ignoring calls for his resignation, he's now claiming that when he tried to pay a teenage boy to come to his house "for a good time", he was simply inviting him to come and talk about baseball.  Because lets face it, who among us has not offered to pay a boy on a casual sex website money to come talk about baseball?  That's completely normal.
  • And since you can't talk about gay Republicans without talking about bigots, the lawyer John Boehner hired to defend DOMA in court has been citing one of Paul Cameron's studies.  If Cameron's name is ringing a faint bell, that'd be because he's the guy who says we should tattoo the faces of AIDS patients, and if that doesn't work we should just round up and kill all gay people.  So that's a half million in tax payer dollars well spent.
  • In closeted gay Presidential candidate news, Rick Santorum explains why the Pursuit of Happiness doesn't count for gay people (is it a spoiler if I tell you it has something to do with changing the definitions of words and blaming God?).  And Rick Perry compares homosexuality to alcoholism, because all straight men fight the temptation to make out with another dude the same way an alcoholic has to fight the urge to pour themselves a drink.  Or is that just Rick Perry?
  • You can't have bigoted Republicans without racist Republicans (it's a fair and balanced things), so Texas Congressional candidate Roger Williams is this week entrant in the comparing welfare recipients to animals competition.  Not sure 'donkeys' is going to win it for him, but at least he has more plausible deniability than the Tea Party who demanded that New Mexico native Rep. Ben Ray Lujan "get out of politics and make room for an American."
  • Bigoted, racist, and Republican if I'd only been able to work in a story about them being old men, I could have saved the American Sociological Association a lot of time in drafting this study on the makeup of the Tea Party.
  • Tea Party Rep. Steve Southerland is complaining that he doesn't like his job and isn't paid enough in Congress.  Now it'd be easy for me to say he should just quit, but I'd like to offer him some constructive advice instead.  He should ask Donald Trump for a loan, after watching the guided tour of Trump's private jet, I'm pretty sure he has the money.  But if he's spent it all covering everything he owns in gold, Southerland should ask Mitt Romney for the cash.  I'm guessing after he gets done tripling the size of his vacation home, he'll still have money left over.
  • Now if you're not rich enough to run for President just to overcompensate for something, times are probably going to be a little tougher.  John Boehner refuses to let the Super Committee consider job creation measures, presumably under the logic of he already has a job.  Republicans realized they're ok with raising taxes as long as it's on the working poor, so they're opposing the extension of the Obama Payroll Taxcut (I know I would have wasted the thousand bucks on something like rent or food).  For the first time in California's history, the UC system will bring in more money through tuition than in state funding, which makes perfect sense for a system that was designed to be free for students.  Which is still better than working for Military Contractor KBR who are countersuing their former employee for the audacity of being upset that after a fellow employee raped her.
  • That was pretty dark, and I think we'd all probably like a drink (or in Rick Perry's case a cute guy).  If you're in the Wasilla, Alaska area I'd recommend giving City Councilman Steve Menard a call.  He went on a bender in a hotel room that "included urine on two mattresses and a chair, vomit on the carpet, ruined bedding, and a burned mattress."  With that high level of professionalism, is it any wonder that Levi Johnston has decided against a run for mayor?  As long as we're talking about Levi Johnston, his archenemies and other pathetic former Wasilla councilmember Sarah Palin just released an ad in Iowa, because normal people do that if they're not running for President.
  • Speaking of people who're clearly thinking of moving on up, everyone's favorite potential Vice Presidential candidate Marco Rubio says that Medicare and Social Security have made us lazy and "weakened us as a people".  I always thought getting sick of treatable disease weakened people, but I guess that's why I'm not going to be on the bottom of the Republican ticket.
  • In a startling confession, Fox News admitted that all of the facts point to global warming being real.  Before you get too worried that this is a sign of the apocalypse, they quickly followed up by saying that the facts don't matter.  Which may explain why Fox News viewers believe we should be preparing for an alien invasion before 'wasting time' fighting global warming.
  • But I wanted to leave you with a story far weirder than any alien invasion.  As Libyan rebels raided Muammar Qaddafi's compound this week, they found a binder full of pictures of Condoleezza Rice.  Unrequited love can make a man do a lot of strange things to try to get a woman's attention, but this may be the first time one has become a brutal dictator to get a former Secretary of State to notice him.
Have a great weekend everybody!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Tales from the Campaign Trail: The Machete

Last year I was up in Santa Maria helping out with a special election.  For those who are unfamiliar, Santa Maria is in a pretty conservative part of the county, so the name of the game was Democratic turnout.  I was out canvassing door to door reminding registered Democrats when the special election was going to be.  It could be a fair distance between Democratic households and I'd been out for a couple of hours when I got to a block that only had one targeted household way at the end of a cul de sac.  As I approached the house, I saw a man who looked about the right age to be my 68 year old target working in the garage.  So I shouted out a friendly hello and started going into my spiel.  It's only then as I got closer to him that I realized what he was doing in that garage, he was sharpening the biggest machete I'd ever seen.  Now I admit I'm a city boy and don't have a huge amount of experience with giant knives, but this thing was as long as my arm.  Trying to comprehend, I kind of stopped for a second and without looking up (or even pausing in sharpening the thing) the man spoke

"What Party are you from boy?"

I'm not going to lie, I had to think for a second about what the smartest way to answer that question was.  But I had a job to do, so I managed to stammer out

"well, I'm a Democrat."

That confession was then followed by possibly the longest single moment of my life during which he continued to sharpen the machete.  Entire civilizations rose and fell during that silence, and finally he ended it

"Good, if you said anything else, we'd have had a problem" before I could even contemplate that he added, "what do you want?"

So I started in about the importance of the special election and our candidate, when without ever looking up from his task, he interrupted me

"I know when the election is and I'm going to vote for him, you can go"

And so I moved on to the next house on the list....

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Terrific Tuesday Tidings: Pay Up, Pissed Off, Postal Workers

It's Tuesday and that means it's time for my ongoing quest to become a more positive person. Here are the news stories that made me happy this week:

  • I mentioned it last week, but it bears repeating: A California Superior Court Judge has ordered Steve Pappas to pay Doreen Farr $700,000 in attorney's fees stemming from his frivolous lawsuit attempting to disenfranchise every student at UC Santa Barbara.  Besides being immensely personally satisfying, it's also a win for voting rights.  Now I just want him to actually pay up.
  • Speaking of Republicans needing to pay up, Republican Henry Bloch, founder of financial giant H&R Block, said that "the wealthy have a debt to this country.  They can afford to pay it and they should."  Expect Fox News to be calling him a communist any moment now too.
  • The California ACLU released it's plan to reduce prison costs.  It pretty much boils down to keep kids from getting involved in crimes, looking at sound alternatives to incarceration for non-violent offenders, and provide services to released inmates to help keep them from returning to old patterns of behavior.  Really radical stuff.
  • Morgan Freeman, the only African-American President to face a threat bigger than the Tea Party (a giant asteroid), says it's time for Obama to get pissed off.  And if the President won't listen to God, who will he listen to?
  • The New York Times published an excellent in depth profile on the Tea Party.  Personal highlights include: "the Tea Party ranks lower than any of the 23 other groups we asked about", "the Tea Party's supporters today were highly partisan Republicans before the Tea Party was born", and of course "they are overwhelmingly white, but even compared to other white Republicans, they had a low regard for immigrants and blacks".  The whole thing is worth a read.
  • In other anti-voter suppression news, the League of Women Voters is challenging Wisconsin's Voter ID Law in court as unconstitutional.  Good luck ladies, and keep up the good work.
  • Fred Clark of Slacktivist reminded us that in the middle of a recession, maybe the small government freaks are wrong and we shouldn't be adding 120,000 postal workers to the unemployment line.
  • Finally, Jon Stewart brings that point home with an examination of whether there's really a class war going on in this country:

Have a happy week everybody!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Monday Makeover: The Gorilla Boss of Gotham City

George "Boss" Dyke, the man who would become the Gorilla Boss of Gotham City, first appeared in 1953's Batman #75.  He was a mob boss famous for only going after big time scores, so for example when he'd rob a bank, he'd only take the hundred dollar bills and leave the smaller denominations (it seems kind of wasteful to me, but I'm not a mob boss so what do I know).  George Dyke was eventually captured and sentenced to death for his crimes, but was remarkably jovial about the whole thing, up to and including his execution.  His body was then immediately handed over to his gang, who fulfilling his plan rushed him to a mad scientist who proceeded to transplant his brain into the body of a large gorilla.  Alive and retaining his intelligence, Boss Dyke found himself unable to communicate verbally with his gang, and so he wrote out his instructions for them: he would kidnap Batman and have the doctor transplant his brain into Batman's body (because one brain transplant surgery wasn't risky enough).  He then used his new found gorilla strength, coupled with his human cunning, to commit a series of spectacular crimes to lure Batman out.  While he succeeded in capturing Batman, his plan ultimately failed when Batman was able to subdue and impersonate the doctor before the surgery.  He was later kidnapped by Green Lantern villain Sinestro, who turned him into a planet sized brain to use as a weapon against Superman.  Superman came out on top, and the Gorilla Boss of Gotham got shrunk back down and re-gorilla-fied before later being mind-controlled by Flash villain Gorilla Grodd.  I'm also pretty sure that I remember him appearing briefly in the crossover event JLApe: Gorilla Warfare in which a bunch of superheroes, supervillains, and civilians were turned into gorillas and go to war, but who can keep track.

I'm going to be honest, I don't actually think that the Gorilla Boss of Gotham City needs much if any improvement as a character.  Either you're on board with the idea of an intelligent gorilla mob boss or you're not, and no amount of tweaking is ever going to change that.  So before I get to my suggestions on how he can be improved (and I do have a few), I want to first explore the reasons he should exist in the first place.  At the top of the list is the simple fact that people like monkeys.  They're fun and they're silly and sometimes comics should be fun and silly.  Admit it, the picture of a monkey in a suit makes you smile.  It's not just anecdotal either, DC Comics actually found that they got a noticeable sales bump any time a monkey appeared on the cover of an issue (which probably helps explain the existence of the Gorilla Boss of Gotham in the first place).  The other two reasons to keep him around are more Batman specific.  Whether it's the mindless Blockbuster, Professor Hugo Strange and his Monster Men, or even his first reoccurring supervillain Dr. Death, Batman has a long tradition of fighting mad scientist and their creations that seems to have fallen out of favor in recent years, a trend I'd like to see reversed.  The other has to do with the world Batman lives in.  Specifically, more and more Gotham City has become a town seemingly dominated by super-terrorists and serial killers.  While they certainly have their place, Gotham City should be the corrupt capital of organized crime with half a dozen gang wars raging at any given moment.  Rupert Thorne should be feuding with the Falcone Crime Family, who are moving in on the Penguin's territory, who's selling out the Triads to the False Face Society, who're in a temporary alliance with the Maroni Crime Family against an onslaught of rampaging Jokerz.  And that should be an unusually tame week.  In the constantly shifting battlefield that is Gotham City, you'd practically expect to find an intelligent ape consolidating his territory.

Having clearly earned his spot in the hallowed ranks of Gotham organized crime, the Gorilla Boss still could use some improvement.  Most obviously, his origin plan is overly complicated.  While attempting to cheat death through brain transplant is at least novel, since his end goal was to end up in a human body (Batman's) why did he get put into a gorilla at all?  Surely a man on death row has enough disdain for human life to sacrifice one of his lieutenants for a second chance at life.  Next, while logical, his inability to speak poses problems to his regular use.  In comics having to continuously cut to panels of his written instructions is annoying, in cartoons or other mediums it basically bans his use.  Finally, while significantly stronger than a human, a gorilla robbing a bank is more likely to get gunned down than get away with it.  One on one, it's obviously an advantage, but in terms of leading his crew on heists, the attention he would draw likely outweighs any benefit his increased strength might grant him.

Boss Dyke was ruthless and aggressive.  His territory was rapidly expanding, and the more established Families were starting to take notice.  That should have concerned Dyke, but it didn't.  Which was why the gunmen was able to find him alone.  As he felt the life draining out of him, he wondered who had put out the hit and how he'd been stupid enough to let it happen.  He was shocked when he opened his eyes, more so when he saw what should be his hand.  A man in a lab coat was shouting about the experiment being a success, but it was all too surreal for Dyke.  When the doctor approached, he attempted to grab him to demand answers, but unprepared for his new found strength Dyke accidentally snapped the doctor's neck.  With any chance of answers lost, Dyke knew he had to move forward.  Getting home proved easier than expected once he realized he could climb buildings and leap between rooftops.  Hiding behind a screen, he called his lieutenants to him and told them he'd been attacked, that he barely survived, and that they were going to war.  Boss Dyke wouldn't rest until he controlled the concrete jungle and found out who had ordered his execution.  But this time he'd be cautious and keep his secret close.  The only people he would let see him were his enemies foot soldiers brought to him for questioning.  Their screams were enough to keep Dyke's men from wanting to pry.  The Gorilla Boss of Gotham had been born.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Netflix Streaming Suggestion: Sherlock

Sometimes you just don't feel like going out and want to be a shut-in watching something good on Netflix.  I'm here to help.

"Sherlock Holmes is a great man.  And I think one day if we're very, very lucky, he might even be a good one."

BBC's Sherlock genesis came when show creators Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat realized that Dr. Watson had been a veteran of the British War in Afghanistan and that now more than a hundred years later, he could be again.  Originally envisioned as a six episode series, this modern retelling benefitted greatly from the decision to reduce the number of episodes to three but increase the length of each to an hour and a half, creating the feeling that you're watching a trilogy of films rather than a tv show (and much like most trilogies, the second is the weakest of the three though still enjoyable).

The titular Sherlock Holmes is masterly played by Benedict Cumberbatch (a name so perfectly British I couldn't make it up) as a bored, manic genius unable to relate to other people or resist a mystery.  His explosive outbursts are perfectly complimented by Martin Freeman's taciturn Dr. Watson who serves to ease the audience into Holmes world.  Together they bring literatures most famous partners seamlessly into the 21st century along with Moriarty, Mycroft, Inspector Lestrade, and all the rest.

The game is afoot! And it's streaming on Netflix now.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Missives From Universe B: Wedding Vows

Join me in exploring an alternate world where the Right isn't wrong!


My Dearest Shelly,

I am no one special.  Just a common man with common thoughts.  And I've led a common life.  There are no monuments dedicated to me and my name will soon be forgotten.  But in one respect, I have succeeded as gloriously as anyone who's ever lived.  I've loved another with all my heart and soul.  I love that you get cold sun yourself when it's 71 degrees out.  I love that it takes you an hour and a half to order a sandwich catch all your crickets.  I love that you get a little crinkle above your nose snout when you're looking at me like I'm nuts.  I came here today because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.

Sometimes I wish I knew how to quit you.  Because it's not going to be easy.  It's going to be really hard, and we're going to have to work at this every day.  But I want to do that because I want you.  I would rather have one breath of your hair shell, one kiss of your mouth, one touch of your hand claw, than eternity without it.  If you're a turtle, I'm a turtle.  You complete me.

They say that the best love is the kind that awakens the soul and makes us reach for more, that plants a fire in our hearts and brings peace to our minds.  And that's what you've given me.  You make me want to be a better man.  And so today, I'm just a boy, standing in front of a turtle, asking her to love him.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Friday Freakshow Roundup: Porn, Perry, and Pauls

In the political news system, the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups: the Republicans who do insane things, and this blogger who mocks them.  These are their stories:

  • Raise your hand if you think that Rick Perry investing in the nation's largest porn company which creates such family friendly titles as "Teens with Tits (vol. 1)" and "Teens Never Say No" will hurt him with his Republican evangelical christian base.  At least he's thinking of the children.
  • I know I've been harping on the fact that Rick Perry is dangerously insane (which may have something to do with the fact he refuses to confirm or deny whether he's carrying a gun right now), but you shouldn't worry.  Anti-tax zealot Grover Norquist assures us that he's far more scared of giant spiders eating New Jersey than he is of Rick Perry.
  • Evidence continues to mount for my Marcus Bachmann thesis that all homophobes are secretly gay as Indiana Rep. Phillip Hinkle (R-Duh) gets caught trying to hire a teenage boy for sex over Craigslist for $80.  He then offered him an iPad to keep quiet about it afterwards.  Personally I think if he'd offered an iPad 2 the kid might not have gone to the press.
  • Speaking of closeted gay homophobes, Rick Santorum blames gay marriage for the recession, because (and I can't make this up) it has destroyed the moral fabric of our society to the point where Wall Street didn't know what it was doing was wrong.  Famous witch Christine O'Donnell takes the much more mature position of being so freaked out by the topic of gay marriage she ran out of an interview when it was brought up.  Oh and this Ron Paul supporter is looking for anybody who's slept with Rick Perry, so come on fellas lets have some fun.
  • Fox News ask that hard hitting question everyone's been wondering, is multi-billionaire businessman Warren Buffet "completely a socialist"?  Because only a complete socialist could question the wisdom of Republican economic policy.  Oh ya, and about the wisdom of Republican economic policy? S&P Senior Director Joydeep Mukerji again reiterated this week that the fact Republicans were even considering a default was the major factor in downgrading the US credit rating.
  • Maybe more Republicans should be like Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin, who increased their States' credit rating by raising taxes while Governors.  At the very least they should be more like Rick Perry, who used Federal Stimulus Dollars to create 125,000 new goverment jobs, which explains why Texas's unemployment numbers are so good.  It's almost as if Democrats are right about how to fix the economy, and the Republicans should just shut up and let the grown ups fix things.
  • "Call me crazy" but Jon Huntsman is crazy if he thinks that supporting science and admitting that evolution and global warming are real is going to help him in the Republican Primary.
  • Karl Rove plans to attack President in the fall for driving around in a $1 million campaign bus that the Secret Service requested.  Which will probably be awkward for whoever the GOP nominee is, since they'll be riding in an identical bus.
  • There's a joke to be made about "palling around with terrorists" since one of Bachmann's staffers was arrested in Uganda as a terrorist in 2006, but it doesn't seem appropriate.  Mostly because she doesn't really seem like the kind of boss anyone would want to be friends with outside of work.  So let's instead make fun of the fact that before running for Congress she lied about being a Doctor, and just this week got called out by her mom for lying about attending a family reunion.  Frankly I already knew she didn't have great manners, because I still haven't gotten a thank you for my advice that she hire a country star to sing for her, which was instrumental in her winning the Ames Straw Poll.  Where's my call Michele?
  • Republican Rep. Doug "Tar Baby" Lamborn has put up a "No Protesting" sign outside his district office.  I can't actually decide if that's more or less pathetic than Paul Ryan charging constituents money to ask him questions.
  • Rand Paul draws on his inner Spartacus in support of Mitt Romney declaring that "We are all Corporations."  His father Ron Paul on the other hand, just thinks his life is a movie:

Have a great weekend everybody!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Steve Pappas, Isla Vista, and the New Jim Crow

Full Disclosure: At the time of the 2008 election, I was employed by another campaign as an organizer in Isla Vista, and both led and participated in voter registration activities.  I also extremely detest Steve Pappas.

California Superior Court Judge Judge Colleen K. Sterne ruled this week that Steve Pappas would have to pay Santa Barbara County Third District Supervisor Doreen Farr $700,000 in attorneys fees stemming from his court challenge of her 2008 election victory.  For those unfamiliar with all the details of the case, the Santa Barbara Independent did an excellent in-depth review of its history a few months back, but here's a basic summary:

In the 2008 Presidential General Election Steve Pappas lost to Doreen Farr in the race for Supervisor by 2.27%.  He lost in the student community of Isla Vista (directly adjacent to UC Santa Barbara) by more than 2-1.  Citing his gut feeling that he should have gotten more votes in IV, Pappas demanded a recount.  Which netted him exactly one extra vote.  Still not satisfied, he then sued to have ALL votes in Isla Vista thrown out, which would win him the election.  It should be noted that in three years and through numerous appeals, Pappas has yet to bring forth a single shred of evidence that any voter fraud took place, and admits that he cannot name a single person that he believes voted improperly.  Having now lost in Court four times and having his allegations dismissed by one judge as "frivolous and tantamount to an intentional misleading of the Court", Pappas has been ordered to pay Farr's legal fees.

Bankrupting Doreen Farr was the clear primary objective of the lawsuit from the beginning.  A quirk of California State Law meant that as the winning candidate, Farr was responsible for defending the election's outcome in court rather than the County Elections Office or the Secretary of State, even though at no point was she accused of doing anything improper.  With big money developers bankrolling him, Pappas could afford to keep the lawsuit going indefinitely, and every dollar Farr spent would not be available for her reelection campaign in 2012.  Which is why you can expect Pappas to be appealing Judge Sterne's ruling, it doesn't matter if he has to pay her as long as Farr doesn't have the money before her reelection campaign.

But there is a second more sinister motive to the lawsuit than a simple attempt to criminalize politics and bankrupt a political opponent.  Pappas v. Farr is simply one front in the Right's nationwide effort to disenfranchise young voters.  Speaking to a group of young activists, Former President Bill Clinton recently described it as
"one of the most pervasive political movements going on outside Washington today is the disciplined, passionate, determined effort of Republican governors and legislators to to keep most of you from voting next time [...] There has never been in my lifetime, since we got rid of the poll tax and all the Jim Crow burdens on voting, the determined effort to limit the franchise that we see today."
This movement is very real.  In Florida it's evident in a recently passed law that requires all those participating in voter registration activities to register in advance or face criminal charges.  The non-partisan League of Women Voters have already cancelled their voter registration drives in the state out of fear of legal repercussions, and the law will play havoc with college student drives.  In Maine, it is seen in the GOP legislature's attempt to ban out of state college students from voting in the communities that they live in for 4+ years.  In case anyone thinks there's anything but partisanship behind it, Republican Assembly Speaker O'Brien explained that college students "are basically doing what I did when I was a kid and foolish, voting as a liberal.  They don't have life experience and they just vote their feelings."  In Chico, CA it was the recently defeated Measure A, which attempted to move the City Council elections into the summer when student's wouldn't be there to vote.  Or when Newt Gingrich calls for a poll test for young voters.  And it's not going to stop.  Having realized that they can't win the votes of young people the Right has decided to try to bar them from voting.  Where that doesn't work, they'll try to make it harder to vote.  And when that fails they'll simply demonize young people as Pappas has.

Republicans are not going to stop, and so it's our job to fight them when they do it, make sure people know what's going on, and push for progressive reforms like same-day registration and vote-by-mail elections to make it easier, not harder for everyone to vote.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Terrific Tuesday Tidings: Jobs, Jabs, and Journalism

It's Tuesday and that means it's time for my ongoing quest to become a more positive person. Here are the news stories that made me happy this week:
  • Stephen Colbert's SuperPAC "Americans for a Better Tomorrow Tomorrow" released it's first tv ad in Iowa. Viva Rick Parry!
  • Finally, I want to give Meet the Press's David Gregory credit for actually being a journalist.  That means listening to Michele Bachmann's responses, and when you realize she didn't answer your question, asking it again.
That's all folks, hope we all have a positive week!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Monday Makeover: Maxie Zeus

Maximilian "Maxie" Zeus first appeared in 1979's Detective Comics #483.  He was a mild-mannered History professor until his wife died (writers never bothered to explain how), he had a psychotic break, started believing he was actually the Greek god Zeus, and decided that what Zeus needed to do was build a criminal empire in Gotham City.  Somehow he managed to convince a gang of crooks that it was a good life choice to follow the orders of a delusional teacher with a toga fetish (still probably a better life expectancy than working for the Joker), and had some initial success before eventually ending up in Arkham Asylum.  Upon inevitably escaping Maxie created a team of supervillains, the New Olympians, to help him kidnap an Olympic athlete and force her to marry him (what was in it for the others is unclear).  When Batman and the Outsiders showed up to rescue her, they compete in a series of Olympic-style contests that of course Maxie and the New Olympians lose.  He's not heard from much until being duped into joining with the real Greek god Ares' children to resurrect him and destroy Wonder Woman.  Only problem for Maxie is that he's not actually the real gods' king and is actually just a human sacrifice to complete the ritual.  He remained dead for several years before recently reappearing as a mentally unbalanced mob boss running an underground casino with his resurrection unexplained.

I won't pretend that Maxie Zeus is a great character, but I've had a soft spot for him ever since I was a kid watching him be returned to Arkham on Batman: The Animated Series.  It was the first time I remember thinking of supervillains as more than just the bad guy, but as symbols representative of larger and older ideas.  Which probably means that Maxie Zeus is at least partially responsible for this series of articles (whether you want to thank or curse him for that is up to you). His biggest problem are the holes in his premise.  Maybe it makes sense that he thinks he's Zeus, but why a life of crime?  How does someone with no criminal connections build a mob empire from scratch?  And how on earth does he keep it all running through his various bouts of sanity or incarceration in Arkham Asylum?  But any villain that can take a story from Point A to Point Batman Fights Guys in Togas deserves some answers.

Maximilian Zeus's family had owned and operated the Olympus Hotel and Casino for generations.  In it's heyday Olympus was the crown jewel of the Gotham social scene.  But that time was long before Maxie inherited it.  He yearned to return his family's legacy to it's former glory and tried everything he could think of to turn things around.  Unfortunately his thoughts tended towards grandiose spectacle rather than sound business planning.  He hired a veritable army of 'Spartan warriors' both to patrol the grounds and entertain guests.  He invested a small fortune into designing a staff that would allow him to shoot lightening like his namesake during their nightly stage show.  His attorney and confidant Apollo Montgomery advised him against all of it but Maxie never listened.  Soon Olympus was teetering on the edge of bankruptcy.  Maxie was inconsolable.  And that's when Carmine Falcone's man showed up with a proposition.  In return for letting the mob launder it's money through the casino, they'd let the Olympus keep a small percentage.  Again Montgomery advised against it, and while Maxie was terrified he'd get caught and lose everything, he didn't see another way.  It worked though, and Olympus finally moved out of the red.  Still, the stress started to get to Maxie.  He spent his nights pacing, while visions of life behind bars danced through his head.  Soon he started hearing whispers when he was alone.  He didn't think he could take much longer when another of Falcone's lieutenants arrived.  Black Mask's False Face Society had been muscling into Falcone's territory and they wanted to use Maxie's Spartan warriors to supplement their foot soldiers.  Maxie knew that he'd never be able to hide that, that'd he'd be exposed and lose everything.  He didn't know what to do, and then clarity struck like a lightening bolt, and the lieutenant's charred hit the ground.  Zeus knew who he was and ordered his disciples to go forth and conqueror a kingdom for him. Apollo Montgomery sighed, cleared out the body, and started preparing for the insanity defense.  He would assure the casino would continue to run in Maxie's absence, waiting for his release from Arkham.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Missives from Universe B: The Bill of Rights

Join me in exploring an alternate world where the Right isn't wrong!

From the Records of AmeriCo Industries:

The Bill of Rights
Amendment I
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of any religion but Christianity, or prohibiting the free exercise of any non-different religion; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, unless any of the above make the majority feel uncomfortable.

Amendment II

Amendment III
The government shall do whatever it deems necessary in the name of National Security.  Anyone who makes grievance against this is a terrorist.

Amendment IV
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized, unless said person is clearly guilty in which case the guilty should not be coddled and protected.

Amendment V
No innocent person shall be held without indictment; nor be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor be compelled to be a witness against himself; nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall corporate property be taken for public use, without just compensation; except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger, or if the person is clearly guilty and there is not enough evidence to convict them.

Amendment VI
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, unless a member of an unpopular segment of the population or the evidence has been coerced, and then they shall be held indefinitely without trial or tried in secret.

Amendment VII
In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, no corporate entity shall be held liable for punitive damages, nor shall legal actions be allowed to be brought forth in concert with others.

Amendment VIII
Excessive bail shall be required, or excessive fines imposed, or cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Amendment IX
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people, chief among them, the right to privacy.

Amendment X
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, unless such powers shall be used to facilitate policies that make people uncomfortable.

One Sentence Review of Rise of the Planet of the Apes

If humans weren't so cartoonishly evil and stupid, the apes wouldn't have to kill us; but we are, so they're probably going to rip our face off while we're sleeping (John Lithgow as always is good in everything).

Friday, August 12, 2011

Friday Freakshow Roundup: Perry, People, and Public Schools

In the political news system, the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups: the Republicans who do insane things, and this blogger who mocks them. These are their stories:

  • It would be easy to make fun of Rick Perry for his poor performance in college, but that was a long time ago and it's kind of a cheap shot.  It would be easy to point out that Rick Perry's former  moderate stance on immigration is going to be an albatross around his neck like healthcare is for Mitt Romney, but it would be a shame to attack the guy for the only halfway sane thing he's ever done.  It would be easy to attack Rick Perry for the religious extremists he calls his friends, but who amongst us has not called Oprah "a forerunner to the harlot movement."  No, instead I'm just going to point out that it appears he was a member of a Neo-Confederate Secessionist Organization.  That could be a problem.
  • I don't know why writing about Rick Perry reminded me of this, but GOP Senate Candidate in Nebraska Jon Bruning compared Welfare recipients to "scavenging raccoons."
  • Ironically (and unsurprisingly), Herman Cain finds himself taking a beating in the Republican primary for becoming less bigoted towards Muslims.  Sometimes you can't win but for losing.
  • In our last piece of race-related news of the week, just check out this Fox News Headline, I wouldn't want to spoil it for you.
  • We're going to slide right past S&P blaming the Republicans for the credit downgrade (don't worry the rest of the press will too), and instead focus on the fact that 2004 Romney argued to S&P that Massachusetts credit rating should be bumped up because they'd responsibly raised taxes and closed loopholes.  I don't think there's a stopwatch fast enough to time how long it'll take Romney to reverse himself on that one.
  • Speaking of Mitt Romney, he told a crowd today that it would be wrong to raise corporate taxes, because "corporations are people."  To be fair, some of Romney's best friends are corporations.  I'd hate for him to think I was picking on him though.  He's already mad at Obama for planning to attack him, the rest of us just call that "campaigning."
  • Leading the way into the more bizarre segment of the Roundup, Huckabee thinks that Obama should hire Donald Trump to replace Tim Geithner, because that would "shake things up."
  • While I'd be ok putting them all on a rocket and jettisoning them off into space, I'm not sure I can get behind the Tea Party's hatred of NASA and their new slogan "To Infini-TEA and Beyond."  No one should be allowed to do that to Toy Story.
  • I want to be clear that this is really Congressman Thaddeus McCotter.  I also want to be clear that Thaddeus McCotter is actually his real name, and not some prank he's pulling on the country.  And so this is really Thaddeus McCotter, who is really running for President, making bizarre breakfast puns about being left out of the Republican debate last night.
  • I'd hate for my favorite reader Michele Bachmann to think I'd forgotten her.  First, everyone needs to read this New Yorker article because it's simply fantastic.  Then people should watch these clips from a documentary Bachmann made 10 years ago about how public education is going to lead to a second holocaust and liberals are corrupting math to mind control our children.  There is no bottom to the rabbit hole.
Have a great weekend everybody!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Live-Blogging the Republican Iowa Presidential Debate

Fox News is hosting the first Republican Presidential Debate in Iowa starting in just a few minutes (6PM PST).  Eight candidates will be in attendance: Cain, Santorum, Paul, Romney, Pawlenty, Bachmann, Gingrich, and Huntsman. You can join me watching it live on, or simply follow my live commentary here:

5:56PM - Still the commentator's jabbering, should switch over to the stage any time now.

5:57PM - Thank you Fox News commentators for explaining that these debates often consist of platitudes and talking points, and that it's really important to all of the candidates to do well.

6:00PM - And HERE. WE. GO!

6:01PM - I almost feel sorry for Gingrich for getting more audible boo's than applause when he was introduced.

6:03PM - Question 1: Bachmann isn't it true that your plan to fix the country in 3 months is out of touch with reality? Answer: Screaming about the debt limit and Obama being A. ONE. TERM. PRESIDENT.  Romney following up with the 7 things that instantly come to mind, because I know when things come to mind they come in neatly numbered lists.

6:06PM - Question: Why did you hide from the debt limit debate Romney? Answer: I'm not going to address that and instead talk about how I always had a position, then a hotel bell is going to tell me that my time is up.  Oh and Obama is making the country "eat dog food".

6:08PM - OOOOO, first Ron Paul Question: what will you ever propose as President that isn't so insane that it might pass Congress? Answer: The country is bankrupt, and then stammering about how he would ever get anything through a divided Congress.  Literally stammering.  And there's the hotel buzzer again.

6:10PM - Herman Cain is sounding terrifyingly sane while talking about eliminating corporate taxes entirely.

6:12PM - Gingrich Question: What makes you more qualified than anyone else here who have actual experience? Answer: Ronald Reagan, Ronald Reagan, Ronald Reagan, and I stood up to Clinton 20 years ago.

6:15PM - Tim Pawlenty will cook your dinner or mow your lawn if you can tell him what Obama's plan on Social Security is.  I now really wish Obama was the kind of guy who would call him on it so we could get a picture of Pawlenty mowing the Rose Garden.

6:18PM - Pawlenty Question: Twitter wants to know if you think Michele Bachman is unqualified to lead the country or if you're just attacking her because she's beating you in the polls?  Answer: Pretty much she's never done anything in Congress.

6:20PM - Michele Bachmann responds with an intense talking point saying that Pawlenty's record in Minnesota is similar to Obama's record, her's is fighting Obama in Congress.  This is what happens when you've got Ed Rollins as your campaign manager.  Oh god, the lightbulb craziness as a qualification for President.  Pawlenty is getting boo'ed for calling Bachmann a liar.

6:24PM - Romney Question: Your business career consisted of gutting companies and firing people, and as governor your state was 48th in job creation, how are you going to create jobs as President? Answer: me and Herman Cain are the only one's with experience working in the private sector (you should seriously consider what it says that you and Herman "I released a Gospel Album" Cain are alone in a category).  I'm proud of my record.  And time for a commercial break.

6:26PM - To review no one has actually suggested how they would create jobs, and while Bachmann and Pawlenty are going at it like cats and dogs, no one has attacked Romney as hard as the moderator has.  And we're back.

6:29PM - Gingrich Question: If campaigns are like a trial run to see how you would manage the country, shouldn't we be terrified that your entire staff quit? Answer: I won't use talking points, stop with the gotcha questions.  Oh and here's a talking point about all the other campaigns that have had staff quit.  I don't need a staff, I have IDEAS.

6:30PM - And the audience boos the idea that candidates should be responsible for their records.  Republicans in a nutshell.

6:32PM - Huntsman Question: You're in favor of civil unions, cap and trade, and served in the Obama administration, are you maybe running in the wrong party? Answer: I served my country and want a Flat tax.

6:34PM - Cain Question: You don't seem to know a whole lot of important things, isn't that a problem? Answer: every time someone points out something I don't know, I go and learn about it, so now I'm more educated than ever.  I still don't fully trust Muslims.

6:36PM - Immigration time:
Huntsman: I'm not going to say if I'm in favor of Amnesty until we secure the border.
Romney: Of course I don't support my pro-immigration position from 3 years ago, don't you know I'm a different candidate now?  We should only bring people that companies ask us to bring (they're people don't you know)

6:38PM - Immigration continued
Cain: The crazy stuff I said before was a joke, really I want "open doors and tall walls"
Gingrich: Citizen Councils should who gets to stay in the country and who has to leave, because "Citizen Councils" have never had problems with racism in the past....wait a second.  Oh and Obama is a failure.
Paul: Business's shouldn't have to check the immigration status of it's workers, we wouldn't punish a church for giving them aide, why would we punish businesses for exploiting them?  End all foreign wars, bring the troops home.

6:41PM - Romney Question: You highlighted raising taxes to keep your credit rating from being lowered as Governor, so does raising taxes work? Answer: Oh God, why did you ask this, I cut taxes 19 times, proud of cutting taxes, cutting taxes, cutting taxes.  I will cut taxes.

6:43PM - Pawlenty Question: You compromised and raised taxes (fees), isn't that sometimes necessary? Answer: No, I shut down the government as governor and by god I would do it again.  I also regret compromising ever.

6:45PM - Bachmann Question: You voted for the same fee increase, what's up with that? Answer: It's Pawlenty's fault, he compromised and I was really opposing abortion.  Pawlenty still rabidly attacking Bachmann, it's kind of sad.

6:46PM - Pawlenty and Bachmann have hijacked the debate, this is awesome.  Santorum is literally begging to get a question.

6:48PM - Santorum Question: is there absolutely any amount of tax increases you would be willing to accept? Answer: Nope, I'm going to point to the decline in revenue over the past couple years as opposed to compared to historic rates, because that's the only way this talking point makes sense.

6:50PM - Would you be ok with a deal that's 10 to 1 spending cuts to tax increases? All of them say no, so that's special.  Oh and Gingrich actually makes a point that the Super Committee is a pretty stupid idea.

6:52PM - Healthcare Time:
Pawlenty: I don't want to screw up this chance to attack Romney again.  I'm still kind of scared to look towards 'Mitt' while I say it though.
Romney: "I liked Tim's answer at the last debate better."

6:58PM - Healthcare Continued
Romney: It's different when a governor does it than when a President does it.
Bachmann: I'm sure as hell not going to give Romney any 10th Amendment cover.  I will not rest until we repeal Obamacare.
Paul: I'm not going to give Romney any cover either.  Regulation of the Healthcare Industry is bad.
Santorum: Screw States Rights, States shouldn't have the right to marry gay people.  That somehow is an answer to a question on Healthcare.

6:59PM - Bathroom break

7:01PM - We're back for a lightening round and Bachmann is missing???

7:04PM - Bachmann is back and what about Rick Perry and Sarah Palin?
Paul: More candidates are great, I'm so far out of the mainstream that he'll just water down everyone else.
Cain: Perry's just one more politician compared to my business Pizza Empire
Huntsman: I hope he'll pray for all of us
Bachmann: Palin and me are friends, the more the marrier.
Gingrich: I think Guiliani should hop in too.

7:07PM - Foreign Policy
Pawlenty: We should withdraw from Afghanistan, but not on a schedule that could help Obama politically
Romney: I realize I was in favor of the war before I was against it, but really it's the same position somehow.

7:10PM - Foreign Policy Continued
Gingrich: Any question on my record is a gotcha question and I will get angry about it.
Romney: Hacking is cyber-warfare, because cyber-anything sounds all future-y and I will consider it an act of war.  Because declaring war on China is a good idea.

Pawlenty: I like Israel.
Paul: Worrying about Iran is stupid, we survived the Cold War.

Santorum: Why won't you give me any time, Moderators: Shut up, we're going to let Ron Paul take your time now.  I think Rick Santorum might cry.
Cain: If I talk about energy independence, I can avoid my lack of knowledge about the military

Bachmann: I need to be allowed to torture people.
Paul: I'm not Santorum, you will give me more time to make a principled stand against torture.

7:22PM - Ron Paul can yell impressively loud.  And it's break time.

7:29PM - Gingrich Question: What's this about loyalty tests? Answer: we should absolutely make sure everyone is loyal.
Cain Question: What's wrong with Romney's mormonism? Answer: I don't have a problem with it, but plenty of other people do.

7:31PM - Bachmann Question: You became a tax lawyer because God told you to be submissive to your husband, would you still be submissive to him as President? Answer: We've been married for almost 30 years, and I didn't actually answer the question

7:35PM - Gay Marriage
Romney: DOMA is unconstitutional (not those words, but that's his argument).  And we should have a federal gay marriage ban amendment
Huntsman: I supported civil unions in Utah, and believe it should be a state by state issue
Paul: Federal Government shouldn't be involved.  Polygamy is like slavery.  Let's eliminate the legal concept of marriage entirely.
Santorum: I really hate gay marriage a lot.

7:38PM Santorum Question: Are your views that abortion shouldn't be legal under any circumstances completely outside of the mainstream? Answer: yes, yes they are.
Pawlenty: I'm the most pro-life candidate based on results.

Romney: everyone should have their own unemployment savings account.  Because the average american can save enough money to support them for up to two years without work.  I know I can.
Huntsman: We don't make things in America anymore.  Let's not think about how that might link to weakening unions and big corporations shipping jobs overseas.

Bachmann: Let me completely misquote the S&P report on why they dropped our credit score.  I have always been right.
Cain Question: Tax cuts have never actually led to job creation, why would they work this time? Answer: you need to make them permanent. That's the missing key.

7:48PM - My sister came home and I missed some stuff, apparently about Reagan, so it's really breaking news.

7:51PM - Santorum Question: The tea party supports the gold standard, why don't you? Answer: I'm not going to insult them by explaining how completely insane that idea is, but I'll still get booed for saying I disagree with Ron Paul.

7:55PM - Bachmann: I want credit for being the leading voice attempting to destroy the global economy.

8:00PM - Closing Statements
Santorum: I pretty much live in Iowa now.  My family probably hates me.
Cain: I'm going to quote poetry.  Running a pizza chain qualifies me to be president
Paul: War is wrong because it's expensive, and we need to return to the gold standard
Romney: Obama doesn't understand how the economy works because he's never had a job.  I believe in America.  I love America.
Bachmann: Vote for me at the Ames Straw Poll (Ed Rollins again, she's the only one who did a shout out for the strawpoll)
Pawlenty: With great blessing comes great responsibility: I will be the Spider-Man President.  God Bless America.
Huntsman: I am running for President in case you've never heard of me.  Obama won on Hope, I'm going to win on solutions.
Gingrich: I couldn't actually make myself pay attention to what he said.

Thank you very much for tuning in, and come back tomorrow for our regularly scheduled Friday Freakshow Roundup, the Republicans have been extra crazy this week.

What Netflix Has Taught Me about Myself and Others

As most probably know, Netflix recommends movies to it's users.  What many are probably less familiar with is how they make the magic happen.  Counterintuitively, the suggestions are not based on similarities to movies that you've already rated, at least not directly.  Rather Netflix looks at the movies you rate, (anonymously) finds other users who've given the same movies the same ratings, and then recommends other movies that they rated highly.  They then classify these recommendations into categories based on traits associated with the movies.  The end result is pretty much the same, but it's a distinction worth remembering.  Especially given the recommended categories Netflix has been giving me over the past few weeks:

  • Fight the System TV Shows from the 1980s
  • Critically Acclaimed Dark Revenge Movies
  • Gritty Foreign Road Trip Movies
  • Imaginative TV Cartoons for Ages 8 to 10
  • Goofy Con Game Action Movies
  • Visually Striking Movies Based on a Book
  • Sentimental Gay and Lesbian Dramas
  • Understated Foreign Movies About Marriage
  • Cerebral Tortured Genius Movies Based on Real Life
  • Apparently any Category 'with a Strong Female Lead'

I'm streaming on Netflix, Clarice.

Now I'm fairly confident that I'm not actually a serial killer, but reading that list I can't help but think that a 'tortured genius' whose into 'fighting the system', 'dark revenge', and 'cartoons for ages 8 to 10' should probably have their basement checked to make sure they doesn't have a 'strong female lead' tied up down there.  On the other hand, I've enjoyed almost every movie Netflix has recommended to me (and also apparently every goofy con game movie ever made) so what do I know.  Anyone else had any weird experiences with Netflix recommendations, or any bizarrely specific movie categories?  Please, share in the comments.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

West Wing Wednesday

While I'm not going to defend the 5th Season of the West Wing, with the budget up again next month, it would be nice if Democrats actually meant it when they said they were going to play hard ball this time instead of just caving again.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Terrific Tuesday Tidings: Pay, Points, and Party Schools

It's Tuesday and that means it's time for my ongoing quest to become a more positive person.  Here are the news stories that made me happy this week.
  • Maybe it's that she's a strong progressive voice in media, maybe it's that I have a thing for women who have absolutely no interest in me at all.  Whatever it is, I'm glad that Rachel Maddow got her contract extended.
  • Matt Damon defended his mom, and teachers in general, from the absurd notion that all that's missing from our schools is more job insecurity.  Plus he can do dramatic, comedic AND action roles, and not everyone is a triple threat like that.
  • Sen. John Kerry called out the media on not actually doing it's job as a fact checker, and just blindly repeating Tea Party talking points.  I almost like this version of Kerry.
  • Finally, UCSB has been downgraded to the #5 Party School in the country.  As a former Gaucho, I figure moving down the ranks probably makes my degree more valuable, while still staying respectably high on the list.  But the real reason this story makes this weeks Tidings is that the picture accompanying the story, of a UCSB student registering to vote (image 16).
Alright, stay positive people.