Friday, January 30, 2009

Great, But What Will Rush Say?

Michael Steele has been elected, somehow, to be the new chair of the RNC. From his acceptance speech: "For those of you who wish to obstruct, get ready to get knocked over." Can't wait to see how this turns out!

BTW, we finally impeached Blagojevich, which means I smell a book deal! Woo hoo!

(h/t Swampland for the Steele quote)

Opening Gambit

Ever since Karl Rove did his subpeona-dodge to Fox News, the Republican party has lost control of the message. Witness this scenario - the president does extrordianary bi-partisan outreach, the stimulus bill is revised with Republican input in mind even though their votes really weren't needed. Republicans vote in lock-step against the bill. Even some Democrats vote against it. It still passes.

Message: no matter what concessions you make to us, we're taking our tiny ball and going home.

That'll teach those Democrats! Specifically, it'll teach them to stop making concessions. Which is too bad because I happen to prefer bi-partisan input into governing. I like compromise - it leads to better, fairer laws.

Republicans have to realize that they can't keep bluffing while they are holding a pair of 2s. Otherwise, they can just expect more bad hands for a long, long time to come. Maybe we'll wind up with a 3 party system - Democrats, Republicans and Far - Right Republicans, who think those plain Repblicans are terrorist crypto-socialists and won't even speak to them. Democrats, who'll include any weirdo at the drop of a hat, won't split up like that. So maybe it'll be a 40/20/20 distribution. And one of those 20's is going to insist on Palin-Bolton for 2012.

Count on me for a contribution!

Gotcha!

John McCain, September, calling on Rush Limbaugh to apologize for his "phony soldiers" comment:


If Mr. Limbaugh made the remark he is reported to have made, it reflects very poorly on him and not the objects of his offensive comment. I expect most Americans, whatever their political views, will have the same reaction. He would be well advised to retract it and apologize.
John McCain, this morning, talking about Obama's single criticism about Rush Limbaugh last week:


Mr. Limbaugh is a voice of a significant portion of our conservative movement in America. He has a very wide viewing audience. He is entitled to his views, and he has a lot of people who listen very carefully to him. I don’t know why that the President would take him on. He’s part of the political landscape, and he plays a role.
So taking McCain's most recent comments as the ones he believes, Rush should not be excoriated: if the thinks soldiers who speak out against the war should be excoriated, Rush is right.

My thinking is Rush shouldn't be censored, just listened to with the attitude that he is an extremist. Calibrate accordingly. Between McCain and that GOP spokesman who apologized after saying Rush didn't have that much influence on the party, I'm beginning to be reminded of Harry, the dude that Dick Cheney shot in the face. He publicly apologized, you'll recall, for getting the in the way of Dick's gun.

Why do you guys keep picking bullies to be your leaders?

The Map That Makes The Most Sense



Courtesy PURPLE AMERICA, h/t Adam Nash. It depicts the percentages of county results in the 2006 Congressional election. Few places are entirely red or entirely blue. In fact, none of them are.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

How A Center-Right Nation Looks ** Update **

According to the Gallup organization, it graphs like this:


"In order to rank the states on partisanship, Gallup analyzes "leaned" party identification by state. This measure adds partisan-leaning independents to the percentage who identify with either of the parties. Thus, the Republican total includes Republican identifiers and independents who lean Republican, and the Democratic total likewise includes Democratic identifiers and independents who lean Democratic."

What's great about this data is that Rush and Boehner are going to completely ignore it, and insist that the future of the party lies to keeping as far-right as possible. And Karl Rove will have acheived a perpetual one-party rule, just like he always wanted.

Details, details.

***Update*** In response to a challenge by Publius the esteemed WAMK, I give you this map:

2008 Election by County

Well, obviously I was mistaken. If that original map had been accurate, DEMOCRATS would be running running the government by now!

Actually this map (no source given oddly enough, but you can link to the blog is in the comments) proves something - the country IS center-right, but only if acreage gets to vote. Once you factor in population density, it looks a lot more like the first one. In other words, a county might have 1000 people but be the same physical size as Pittsburgh - that doesn't mean the same amount of people voted in both.

It does suggest that Republicans are isolated loners, and it would explain why AM talk radio holds such sway over them. Out there in the middle of the prairie, it's the only signal they can tune in. 

Quote of The Day

"With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion." - Steven Weinberg

Proof Of Global Warming

Here it is the end of January, and the Santa Ana winds are howling outside. We're expecting a high of 74 degrees. Therefore, using logic I've frequently seen around the net, global warming must exist.

I'm glad that's settled!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Republicans Do Something I Like!

This, I think, is pretty cool. And I know Obama was for it, but I don't care. Enough delays!


House Republicans Reject TV Delay Bill

By Greg Tarr -- TWICE, 1/28/2009 1:45:00 PM

Washington – The House of Representatives Wednesday voted down a bill to delay the DTV transition deadline.

The bill, which had passed the Senate by unanimous vote on Monday, failed to get the required two-thirds majority vote after U.S. Reps. Joe Barton (R-Texas) and Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) called for the measure, which would have moved the deadline from Feb. 17 to June 12, to be denied.

The legislators called for the analog TV spectrum to be turned over as planned for use by emergency first responders and wireless services carries that had purchased the vacated spectrum at auction.

More Signs That the Honeymoon is Already Over

Resolution Congratulating Obama Rejected in Committee

By Mark Carter 1/28/2009 11:00:01 AM

A resolution congratulating President Obama on his election was killed in the House Committee on State Agencies and Governmental Affairs on Wednesday.

These kinds of resolutions are considered standard operating procedure. But hey, whatever. You can't mandate good sportsmanship.

*update* See comments for more on this shocking bill!

Real Americans Love Gridlock

The talk on the hill is that most Republicans are going to take Rush Limbaugh's advice and oppose the latest stimulus package. Is it the best thing for the country? Whatever. The important thing is if it works, then Obama doesn't fail. And a successful Obama presidency is, by Limbaughian definition, bad for America. A worldwide economic depression, on the other hand: Good for America.

The thing that is bothersome about this... well actually there is little that isn't bothersome about it. But here's what's annoying to me. Republicans are opposing this plan and claiming that their input is being ignored, but they aren't offering alternatives. More tax cuts will save us! is the best they can cough up. We've had quite a few of them leading up to the meltdown. I'm not saying they caused it, but tax cuts haven't done anything to prevent it either. Similarly more deregulation isn't going to be any help. Not enforcing the financial regulations appears to be exactly what got us into this mess.

Why do they think this will help their brand? Digging their heels AND burying their heads in the sand at the same time, the Republican leadership is basically doing everything it can to keep out of power for another few years. And that, by my definition, is GOOD for America

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Good For the World, Bad For the Right

They say when you take office, the "firsts" you pick need to be well-chosen because they carry a lot of weight. Here's one that will freak out a few of my blogger pals: Obama has given his first formal interview as President with Hisham Melhem of al Arabiya television.

Among the more interesting pull quotes:

Now, my job is to communicate the fact that the United States has a stake in the well-being of the Muslim world...even as we are decisive in going after terrorist organizations that would kill innocent civilians, that we're going to do so on our terms, and we're going to do so respecting the rule of law that I think makes America great. ... I cannot respect terrorist organizations that would kill innocent civilians and we will hunt them down. But to the broader Muslim world what we are going to be offering is a hand of friendship.
This is going to anger a lot of people on the right, if Malkin or Limbaugh get their hands on it. It amounts to "nuance", this distinguishing of Muslim Terrorists from Muslims. Most Muslims have no interest in killing Americans. But if you insist that all Muslims are terrorists who must be killed, then what incentive do they have to behave differently? And yeah, I've heard that viewpoint expressed more than once, though if you try to pin 'em down they'll say only the majority of muslims are terrorists. If you think this, you are mistaken.

Look, if you imprisoned a few hundred Americans without trial, you could expect a little retaliation from America. If Iran posted soldiers around Boston, local Bostonians would try to remove them. These are not unreasonable responses.

The hand of friendship is going to make us a hell of a lot safer, if it's accepted at this late date, than all the bombs and rhetoric we can throw out there.

(h/t THINK PROGRESS)

We ARE Listening, Now Shut Up

I've been hearing a lot of whining from Congressional Republicans that they're not being allowed to participate in the lawmaking process by those mean Democrats. Here's a sign that perhaps they're mistaken.

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Democrats are likely to jettison family planning funds for the low-income from an $825 billion economic stimulus bill, officials said late Monday, following a personal appeal from President Barack Obama at a time the administration is courting Republican critics of the legislation.

Several officials said a final decision was expected on Tuesday, coinciding with Obama's scheduled visit to the Capitol for separate meetings with House and Senate Republicans.

...Under the provision, states no longer would be required to obtain federal permission to offer family planning services — including contraceptives — under Medicaid, the health program for the low-income.

..."How you can spend hundreds of millions of dollars on contraceptives how does that stimulate the economy?" House Republican Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio said on Friday after congressional leaders met with Obama at the White House. "You can go through a whole host of issues that have nothing to do with growing jobs in America and helping people keep their jobs."
Mr. Boehner's point is well taken, that this legislation doesn't belong in the stimulus package. However, it belongs somewhere. If you want to shrink government spending, it's just a fact that contraceptives cost less than poor people. Since they most likely won't buy them on their own, it behooves us as a nation to pass them out.

The acceptable alternative from a Republican standpoint is abstinence education, but that's not exactly 100% effective with the teens. It's a lot like locking cocaine addicts in a meth lab and telling them all they have to do is not touch the cocaine. So by itself, abstinence education just results in more kids on welfare. So let's eliminate welfare! That will stop poor people from breeding!

No it won't. It's just make America better resemble a third world country. If you like flies, let the poor fend for themselves.

Getting back to the stimulus package: enough with the tax cuts! We've had plenty of tax cuts over the last 8 years and I don't know if you've looked at the economy lately, but it doesn't seem to have helped much. Besides a third of the package IS tax cuts. That's probably as bipartisan as we need to be this month.

Monday, January 26, 2009

25 Random Things About Me

This is kind of a crosspost, but recently I was encouraged by my Facebook buddies to jot down 25 things of interest about myself. The fact that a man my age HAS Facebook buddies is a good place to start, but what I actually wrote follows.


1. At my heart, I worry that there aren't 25 things about me that are interesting.


2. On weekends, if I have the time, I bake my own bread. It doesn't save any money but the smell of fresh-baked bread is really appealing.


3. Since this time last year, I lost twenty pounds.


4. I made a video short in the nineties which won an award of some kind at SMOFI, a Polish film festival. They called to congratulate me at 4:00am. I have no idea what prize I took and googling the award now - well, as of 2002 they were accepting submissions in VHS only.


5. I was brought up Catholic but became an atheist at the age of 12 because the story just didn't hold together.


6. There's a scene in the first Star Wars movie (Han Solo and Chewie trying to hold down the prison detention center) that always seems fresh to me because when I saw it originally, I was making out with the girl I eventually lost my innocence to. It was great, but I still kind of regret missing a part of Star Wars.


7. Fear serves a purpose but for the most part it does more harm than good.


8. I have a younger brother and an older sister - you could conclude from conventional wisdom that I'm the stable one.


9. DARK MEAT: MUSIC FOR DEPRESSIVES is basically an extension of a thing I used to annoy my friends with. I have odd musical tastes and I was continually trying to get them to listen to the artists I like. It still isn't working, but at least I'm annoying strangers instead.


10. I have a fetish for cherry red appliances. Current inventory - a microwave oven, a toaster, a coffee ginder, a coffee maker, and a vacuum cleaner.


11. I've always looked younger than my age. At present the average guess is 10-15 years short.


12. My IQ is above-average.


13. I have written 13 (or so) screenplays and about 5 TV spec scripts. For a while I had an agent, though my career never quite took. 


14. My SEINFELD spec, as I recall, was terrible. I had only seen one episode of Seinfeld and I just didn't get it at all.


15. There was a show on UPN called THEY CAME FROM OUTER SPACE, a goofy comedy. I wrote a pretty good script for them and even managed to get it into their production office, but they were canceled later the same day.


16.  I don't need to spend as much time alone as I do. I suspect if I got out more, I might be quite popular.


17. Women who are too beautiful freak me out, the same way that people without limbs or disfigured people do. Try to keep to the center of the bell curve, people!


18. I'm not happy with most of my body, except my legs. The legs are golden.


19. When I got divorced and moved into my own apartment, I declined to get cable. Now it's over a year later and it just doesn't seem like a sensible investment. If I read about a good show, I'll just download it.


20. Numbers and statistics fascinate me. If I don't watch myself, I start to see everything in terms of ratios and percentages. It's not healthy.


21. Once I was on a cult radio show called SIMUL TREK, and this is the most famous I have ever been. It was ideal - there was praise from strangers, but you wouldn't recognize me on the street. If only there had been money also.


22. I hardly ever go to movies nowadays because I recognize the same six plots coming back over and over again.


23. Everything that is fun about photography - composition, subject, focus and exposure - is there if you shoot in black and white. Color is only an annoyance. Unfortunately, it's usually nicer to look at.


24. I prefer slow zombies to fast, or sprinting, zombies. 


25. Damn, I was right.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

We Could Have Done Better

Geithner got confirmed by the Senate. I'm disappointed. He better do a particularly good job because he's walkin' around with a cloud over him.

Exifaith Cutefully

If you were following the inauguration (and you may not have been, the ratings were high but not historic) you probably noticed a little problem with the swearing-in ceremony.

ROBERTS: I, Barack Hussein Obama --
OBAMA: I, Barack --
ROBERTS: -- do solemnly swear --
OBAMA: I, Barack Hussein Obama, do solemnly swear --
ROBERTS: -- that I will execute the office of president to the United States faithfully.
OBAMA: -- that I will execute --
ROBERTS: -- the offi -- faithfully the pres -- the office of president of the United States.
OBAMA: -- the office of president of the United States faithfully.
See, the order of the words there? It's supposed to be "faithfully execute." If you're the kind of person who insists that a short-form birth certificate is no proof of citizenship, that kind of detail can be very comforting.

My first paranoid thought is Justice Roberts was messing with Obama, or trying to lay the groundwork for some byzantine deal whereby Norm Coleman could get the Minnesota senate seat. But it's just as likely it was a mistake. Maybe Roberts didn't practice the night before.

It's a mostly moot point now, because a day later the two got together again and retook the oath. I'm saying "mostly" because obviously there are going to be some tinfoil hat types who will insist that the second time doesn't count and Obama isn't president until we have another election. I'm glad to let them have fresh material anyway, because the certificate thing was gettin' stale fast.

UPDATE: Speak of the devil in the details!

Today on his new Fox News show, Glenn Beck panicked about the re-do oath of office President Obama took last night, because Obama did not place his hand on a Bible. “I checked. We have never had a president sworn into office without a Bible,” he intoned dramatically.
The posting points out, by the way, that Teddy Roosevelt and John Quincy Adams swore in on non-bibles; plus Lyndon Johnson is rumored to have sworn in on a catholic missel because it was an emergency. So Beck is excited about nothin'.

Memory Lane

Hey, Rush Limbaugh states the obvious on Sean Hannity's show last night:

You know racism in this country is the exclusive province of the left. (Italics mine) We're witnessing racism all this week that led up to the inauguration. We're being told that we have to hope he succeeds.
He's absolutely right too. If it wasn't for those moonbats and their racism stuff like this wouldn't even have been controversial.

By the way, I don't have cable - what's the show called nowadays? HANNITY AND MORE HANNITY?

To be fair, it's possible to hope that Obama doesn't succeed but support the greater good of the nation. I'm not sure that's what is happening here. I think Rush is hoping for a big "I told you so" at the end of four years: he wants everything to go to hell so he can blame it on Obama. He wants the democracy in Iraq to collapse, he wants the economy to tank, he wants everyone investigated for sex crimes. If things don't go wrong, he wants to be able to make up figures that suggest they are anyway. Rush Limbaugh, american hero.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Kind Word For Cheney

I just found out that Dick Cheney attended the inauguration in a wheelchair. He pulled a back muscle or two moving boxes. I wish him well, and hope he gets better soon, if only because he needs the strength to fend off all those book deals.

Freedom Of Choice

So this morning I'm working, listening to the inauguration on the radio, and my boss' voice appeared on the intercom. "If anyone wants to see the inauguration, please come into the main conference room." I thought, that's pretty cool of him. Then a few minutes later there was a followup announcement. "If you're watching the inauguration on the Internet, please come to the conference room instead. We need the bandwidth."

I think this is still cool. It's something to celebrate about America: the idea that we can participate in Democracy but we don't have to. You know, Saddam Hussein was elected to his office several times, and each time it was with almost 100% participation and unanimous victories. In some other countries, conceivably my boss would have been required to marshall us all into the conference room, and perhaps pass out horns and flags. This system is better.

Also heartening is the incredible traffic jam of humanity in the national mall right now. Allowing that many people to show up for an event is an massive inconvenience, but DC is knuckling down and dealing with it because allowing people to participate if they want to is important too.

Perhaps the best thing about these United States is this: we can disagree about the flaws, the shortcomings, about how to fix them, about who will do the best job. And even if we disagree with the leaders of our nation, we won't be arrested for it. You can still be arrested for side issues, like throwing a SHOE at the president, but even then it's not like they'll beat you in prison and force you to sign a statement disavowing your actions. We don't do that here.

So good times. Best of luck to the new guy.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

How I Spent The Weekend

Well, let's see - I bought groceries, including a nice cut of salmon which I had for dinner. And I did some laundry and I watched a whole lotta TV. And I shaved off all my chest hair. Oh, and I was in the hospital for a couple of days.

Yeah, I might as well blog about this, because it'll save the me the trouble of relating it as an anecdote when people ask about the marks on my face. What happened was, I went to bed Thursday night, and woke up at around 2:00 am to go the the bathroom. I don't want to go into too much detail here, but I was basically doing something Elvis became famous for (it KILLED him) and I simply passed out. It was like this - sound of the ocean rushing in my ears, closing my eyes for a second, wondering why one side of my face was so cold, and realizing it was because that was the side against the tiles.

So I got back up, sound of the ocean, closed eyes, and realizing I was slumped against the shower door. Then I finished my business and crawled back into bed with my girlfriend.

I was driving her back to her place the next morning and I mentioned all this and she said "Jesus! Why the hell didn't you tell me?" I don't know, I said, I thought I needed the sleep. "What if you had a concussion! What's wrong with you!" And this got me thinking - most normal people would not shrug off a thing like this and go to work, they would get an ambulance to the emergency room. Since I was already driving, I just kept on going until I found the nearest emergency room covered by my insurance. I got to park in the emergency patients space! That was exciting.

So I checked myself in and they stuck a bunch of electrodes to my very, very hairy chest, and monitored me in ICU for four hours. I flirted with a couple of nurses to pass the time. Eventually a doctor came in and told me there was probably nothing all that wrong with me (sudden drop in blood pressure, happens now and then though usually to older people) but just in case they wanted to keep me overnight for observation. So I waited another two hours until they transferred me to a room, which I shared with a personable dialysis patient.

At least in the upstairs room I had an adjustable bed and a nice TV. Every time an orderly told me to expect something (MRI for example, or lunch) it was always two hours later than they said, and it always seemed to happen just at the climax of the movie I was watching. Late in the day I was told they were going to let me out Saturday afternoon, after the stress test. That's the treadmill one that you see all the time on HOUSE.

I slept surprisingly well considering there was a bulky IV hookup in my right hand and a heart rate monitor in my gown pocket, and it was noisy and people would show up in the middle of the night to take my blood pressure. 

Saturday morning I have never been so grateful for cable. Even though I felt fine I was essentially bed-ridden. Sure I could get up and walk around but they like to know where you are. And if you're not in your room when they bring breakfast, it might not come for another two hours. I don't have cable at home and let me tell you, Saturday morning is a wasteland. I have to admit I have grown fond of THE SWEET LIFE OF ZACK AND CODY, because Ashley Tisdale has great comic timing, but the rest is all CGI puppet shows and golf. So access to news channels made me feel a LOT better.

Some time around three the nurse told me that my doctor had an emergency and he probably couldn't get to the stress test until Sunday morning. I was tired of TV, my neck was sore from the adjustable bed, my cell phone was running low and I was worried about my car, still parked in the emergency space. I begged the nurse to talk someone into releasing me. I could go home, fast the next morning and come in for my stress test. And my doctor did show up around 6:30 and said he agreed with me. I'm making an appointment tomorrow for the test.

After that it was a short wait for the nurse to show up with the forms, and to unhook me from the Matrix. How long was that anyway? About two hours. Everybody kept asking me, "is someone picking you up?" I drove here myself, I replied. They looked at my like I was nuts. Yes, I'm used to that.

So I drove home, and the first thing I did was pull off those adhesive electrode points that they stick onto you for the EKGs. When I was done I had these holes in the fuzzy coat of hair on my chest. And since I know I'm going to be hosting those things again soon, I figured I'd shave it all off. Besides now and then I wonder what it would look like.

Trust me, it doesn't look good. The hair did a lot to camouflage the complete lack of muscle. I'm looking forward to having it back. Or I guess I could work out once in a while. I think I lost a pound too, the result of a controlled hospital diet. I should try to get a copy of that menu because it must be nutritious but it's sure not laden with calories.

My friends all have different theories about why it happened. One thinks I'm drinking too much water, and I need more potassium. Another thinks I simply lost too much weight lately. My girlfriend thinks it was the combination of steak, red wine and sex that made me dehydrated. I can avoid at least one of those things as long as I get the other two.

Anyway, I'm fine now, so stop worrying.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

. . . - - - . . . They're Coming In Too Fast!

A toy concept that never quite made it to the store:



Look there in the bottom left corner - it's the Star Wars Logo... it's the STAR WARS TELEGRAPH! Brilliant, as in brilliantly wrong. It wasn't until Warner Brothers licensed THE MATRIX buggy whip that a worse idea came along.

h/t Boing Boing

Gadget Lust Update

I wound up buying both of them. The coffee maker works fine once I cleaned it very, very thoroughly and swiped a filter basket from the floor model. Freshly ground coffee: slightly more delicious than its pre-ground cousin, but that smell of beans - fantastic. My life is better.

The iMac is sleek, fast and just thinking about it is giving me little shivers of pleasure. I installed Windows 7 last night just for kicks, and it runs like a champ, so far doing all those cool graphic tricks that Vista is famous for without the annoying security popups. The only thing I haven't been able to manage yet is installing my all-in-one fax/printer, on either system. That's gonna take some tech support calls. Well, I love meeting foreigners.

Is it irresponsible to be spending like a sailor when the economy is sinking like a stone? Whatever, I got the cash this month. Or rather, I had it until this week. I'll recoup some when I sell off the old iMac. The rest, maybe I'll sell coffee and processor time.

Throw Timmy From The Train

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Members of the Senate Finance Committee met Tuesday with treasury secretary nominee Tim Geithner over concerns involving his personal taxes and the immigration status of a former housekeeper, transition officials said.

Timothy Geithner has been nominated for the post of treasury secretary in the Obama administration.

The Geithners employed a housekeeper whose employment authorization document expired about three months before she stopped working for them in October 2005, according to a written statement from the Senate Finance Committee.
Later, the housekeeper, who is married to a U.S. citizen, was granted a green card, transition officials said.

The second concern involves Geithner's taxes while he worked for the International Monetary Fund (IMF). According to a statement released by the committee, Geithner failed to pay self-employment taxes while the IMF paid him from 2001 to 2004.

In 2006, the Internal Revenue Service audited Geithner for tax years 2003 and 2004, and he paid $16,732 for the taxes and interest for those years, the statement said. After Obama nominated him for treasury secretary, Geithner voluntarily amended his taxes for 2001 and 2002, paying $25,970 for those taxes and interest, the committee said.

Don't confirm him. Look, I know he has already paid the money back, and it probably was a mistake made in a 40-page tax document. However, we have RABID anti-Democrats out there (you can't really call 'em Republicans any more) and the last thing we need to do is give them material. Let's get Krugman or Reich for the job instead. Best of luck, Geith.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Everywhere He Goes, He Stays A Stranger

To hell with politics - Patrick McGoohan is dead.


That's right, The Prisoner. Dead at age 80, pictured here last week outside his Los Angeles home. Woulda made a great Number 2, I think.

McGoohan, if you don't know, played heavies in BRAVEHEART and SILVER STREAK but is best known for two TV series in the sixties, THE PRISONER and DANGER MAN, broadcast on these shores as SECRET AGENT. His TV work is magnificent, surprising and a continual revelation even today. In an era when spies were cool, witty and urbane, more interested in the good life and blowing stuff up than in actual, you know, spying, McGoohan's John Drake was straight out of Le Carre territory. Modest, strictly moral, and nearly driven insane by the demands of his clandestine life. 

There was always something of the nut-canister full of snakes about McGoohan. You never knew when the lid might come off and he'd pop into your face, but you always knew it was coming, and the lid wasn't securely fastened. This was especially true of THE PRISONER, which was among other things a seventeen-episode nervous breakdown. He was more under control in DANGER MAN, a kind of MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E for adults. If Drake had been partnered with Napoleon Solo, McGoohan would have had to hiss this line every episode: "Keep your head down, for pity's sake." 

McGoohan was a reminder that spying was serious, ugly business, morally treacherous and personally devastating. James Bond, by comparison, was a state-sponsored terrorist with a sex addiction problem.

We shall not see his mercurial like again, I fear. I raise a cup of tea to you, Paddy, and here's hoping it isn't spiked. 

Friday, January 09, 2009

Gadget Lust

I did a little shopping last night, looking for post-holiday bargains. None to be had. And weird experiences in both cases.

Case one: A new iMac. My old iMac is starting to show its age. The internal hard drive is near maxed out, the processor is slower than I'd like. Newer iMacs are neater. So I took a l'il trip to the Apple Store to discuss options. Ideally, I wanted to trick out a model (maximum memory, maximum storage) and walk out that night. Only, they don't do that in store. The guy in the store recommended I buy it online instead. What the hell is that? Well, I'll probably do it this weekend.

Case two: A coffee maker. I have a nice cheap Black & Decker unit already, works great, even has a timer. But it lacks one important quality - it's not red. I was in Target looking for a coffee grinder (I want fresh beans!) and there it was - the red Mr. Coffee maker of my dreams. I took it home with a matching Red grinder.

But I opened the factory sealed box, and it was soaking wet! Seriously, water all over the inside of those plastic bags. And the filter basket was missing. I'm taking it back tonight, getting a refund on the grounds of sheer weirdness.

The consumer economy is going to have to meet me halfway if it wants MY stimulus.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

The Slippery Slope Stops Here

The latest industry to petition congress for a bailout? Porn.


Allow me to pre-emptively answer your question and say no, tax dollars shouldn't keep Vivid Video and Hustler magazine going. Why? Because the porn industry can take care of itself.

Just like its clients.

Have A Seat

Welcome to the newest and most problematic member of the Senate, Roland Burris. Legally appointed by the shadiest character in recent political memory, Rod Blagojevich, Burris takes the seat vacated by Barack Obama, the one that Blago is so in trouble for putting up on eBay.

It's fortunate that Harry Reid doesn't favor the phrase "over my dead body!" because with all the stuff he's backed down on, we could legitimately build a footbridge over his grave. To be fair, there is little Reid could do legally to stop the appointment. In fact, after all the research they've been up to in the last few days, I bet they determined there is nothing.

I got nothing against Roland Burris, though I'm mighty uncomfortable with all the grandstanding he's done in the last few days. Here's looking a couple of years without scandal and legitimate election in 2010, and here's hoping the people of Chicago have the wisdom to break their streak and hire a Governer who just wants to serve the people.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Drudge Wins Pulitzer, Says Unnamed Source

Okay, I just noticed this one while arguing with GWK over at Where Are My Keys. Those guys are upset that Ann Coulter has been cut from NBC because they don't want people with an anti-Obama bias. How do they know that's why?

NBC CUTS COULTER; KEEPS PEREZ
Mon Jan 05 2009 17:50:57 ET

**Exclusive Details**

The nation's top selling conservative author has been banned from appearing on NBC, insiders tell the DRUDGE REPORT.

"We are just not going to have her on any more, it's over," a top network source explains.

But a second top suit strongly denies there is any "Coulter ban".

"Look for a re-invite, as soon as Wednesday," said the news executive, who asked not to be named.

NBC's TODAY show abruptly cut Ann Coulter from its planned Tuesday broadcast, claiming the schedule was overbooked.
As usual when Drudge reports on the media, no one spoke for attribution. Presumably this is because the MSM would instantly fire anyone who admitted to a liberal bias, like the way Slate fired anyone who said they'd vote for Obama last year. On the other hand, it could be because Drudge is makin' this stuff up. After all, his track record is a little less than accurate on stories. Like Obama's $30k ring. Or Oprah's participation in the Obama Informercial. Or the couple of times he informed us that we've caught Osama Bin Laden.

Drudge does, for a change, cite another source:

Coulter was also to appear on the TODAY's fourth hour. A host even teased the segment saying the 'conservative pit bull and bestselling author' would be a guest.
See that link? Here's the opening paragraph of the MediaBistro story he cites.

Drudge Report says Ann Coulter has been "banned for life" from NBC, quoting an anonymous NBC source saying, "We are just not going to have her on any more."

So somehow, Drudge manged to recursively source himself! Nice. Of course, the test here is whether the Today show re-books Ann Coulter. I'm putting my bets on yes. Of course, by Wednesday we'll all have forgotten this happened, and those who trust Drudge will have only a vague memory that the MSM doesn't allow conservatives on the airwaves. As the always do, 15 minutes after they see conservatives on the airwaves.

By the way, the MSM has failed to get organized again, and Coulter reportedly appeared on CBS's THE EARLY SHOW instead this morning.

Monday, January 05, 2009

At Least Lizard People Had The Grace to Step Aside

The Minnesota Recount results are officially in, and they favor Al Franken to the tune of 225 votes. You may recall at the beginning of the legally-mandated process (a requirement when the margin is within 1% of the population if I recall correctly) many convervatives called for Franken to concede, on the grounds that a long legally-mandated recount would hurt Minnesota. I wonder how they feel about this?

"Given our campaign’s unwavering commitment to ensuring that the vote of no Minnesotan is disenfranchised, today’s ruling by the Minnesota Supreme Court is both disappointing and disheartening,” Knaak said in a statement.

He also said: “Today’s ruling...ensures that an election contest is now inevitable. The Coleman campaign has consistently and continually fought to have every validly cast vote counted, and for the integrity of Minnesota’s election system, we will not stop now.”

Such a legal showdown could take weeks to resolve. In addition to the Coleman campaign’s request to have the absentee ballots reconsidered, a lawsuit also include claims by Coleman that some votes in Democratic-leaning areas were counted twice.
I'm going to take a stab that NOW, conservatives will say further challenges to the result are the only way to ensure the people of Minnesota are served. For my part, it looks like there is a new Senator in Minnesota, and you can call him Al.