Tuesday, December 28, 2010

2010: The Year At Your Cup of Joe

A quick look back at 2010 through a blog filter --

While recently reading through the information about those who visit and read here often, I learned that in 2010 this blog had landed on a site which declares Cup of Joe P. to be in the top 5 best political blogs in the country. And yes, that's certainly an wise observation. The reason, according to the writer(s) is that I am apparently the lone liberal in Tennessee pushing out political posts. Quote: "
The political experience of supporting the extremely minor party in what's essentially a single-party state is compelling." Which is not true. I think there's at least five of us here in Tennessee who write something other than the usual political hype.

But I won't link to the site that says this, as my browser advises me the site has a dubious quality (meaning it's probably a site full of malware) and it has the odd, odd title of 'guide to online schools' and seems, though flattering to me, just a strange aggregator of hackerish infamy.

A more reputable bit of praise came in 2010 from Knoxville's Metro Pulse newspaper, marking me as being a site worth bookmarking and reading, though they also noted I was somewhat of an 'old-fashioned' thing, a blog, while the modern now-a-go-go kids all Twitter instead. You know I've always hated the word blog but twitter sounds even sillier. I thank MP for the mention, though in truth, Knoxville-centered sites like the News Sentinel's No Silence Here and R. Neal's KnoxViews have been consistently supporting my work here since just about day one. Welcome to the Cup of Joe party, MP.

Of course, my family continues to look at me with a hairy eyeball since I do not earn big bucks with this page. Not that they ever read this page. My family has generally been supportive of my creative efforts since I made it my profession some 25 years ago, but they think I'm ten kinds of crazy to continue writing as I haven't made tons of income nor tons of fame and I admit I often have to look anywhere and everywhere for other ways to make money. (Pleasing family is hard/impossible.) And 2010 was a horrible year for writing work. Newspapers, magazines, online web sites and other places where I have usually made decent money all shut down their programs of paying for freelance writing. And then there was another writing job I took this year where someone else got all the credit for writing it. Thanks for the ego kick.

Writers just don't get much respect - even those who make big bucks have to wade through derisive assessments of their work (regardless of the quality). Here's a way of looking at this situation -- let's say you have need of a plumber, or attorney, or mechanic or consultant or etc. etc at your home or office. If you contact that professional you know, you know, that you will have to pay a fee just for getting them to examine your problem, then there is a steep hourly fee for work they do. But a writer - we work first, submit the work for someone to approve and only if said someone likes it will you get paid. And you don't get paid by the hour. They offer pennies per word. If I told the folks who ask me to write something that there is a non-refundable fee just for considering their request I would be brushed aside like some funny smelling leftover in the fridge.

And really, I knew since I started putting my writing efforts online, for anyone to read for free, that while I was bypassing all the kings who control publishing, I was going to have to endure long waits for a payoff. So be it. Great satisfaction arrives as I see that readers from such places as Great Britain, France, India, China, Australia, Chile, Morocco, and on and on, land on this page and read something I've written.

I don't feel bitter, even if a touch of bitterness is discernible in these words. I knew long, long ago this compulsion to write was a personal thing. And I have learned over the decades that I can (and so I do) demand certain levels of compensation and fees for my work. Especially if you seek me out to write something for you to use. The way I see it, such demands should make us both feel good that we are working for something of a higher quality.

(Now back to the topic proper)

In 2010, some of the posts which brought the most readers (note: while there were many posts which were of a serious nature and/or garnered state and national attention, it seems the odd and offbeat items I comment on are usually the top draws for visitors):

-- This post on Iran's legal/religious perspective on a mullet haircut was quite popular (especially since Instapundit and Pajamas Media made mention of it).

-- A consistent hit among Google searches this year came from this 2009 post wherein a theory is presented by comedian John Hodgman that President Obama is somehow linked to the fictional 'Kwisatz Haderach" from the Dune books by Frank Herbert and the tale wins my own personal award for Weird Political Delusions in a most delusional political year.

-- Cows invading a home also brought many thousands upon thousands of visitors, as is proper, it seems to me, when cows invade.

-- My favorite item here on this page is not my own creation - but this video, wherein doodles and flipbooks craft the vast tale from creation to the present day still amuses me greatly.

Meanwhile, here are a few other items from TN bloggers as they review the year 2010 -

Southern Beale has her take on the best in books/movies/music of 2010.

Newscoma is celebrating her 5th year of blogging (and really, I am working on finding another word besides "blog" to categorize the online writers/writing I am part of).

News stories, politics and more which held attention in 2010 at KnoxViews is presented here.

SEE ALSO: Google has compiled the info on the most popular searches on their system for 2010. The World Cup was the big winner, followed by disasters from around the world.

And here's to you, dear readers, for making a habit to visit and return often. I wish you each and everyone the very best 2011 possible.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Basil Marceaux Christmas Song

Well, at least ol' Basil did not become a lobbyist or something after attempting a run for governor of Tennessee in 2010. The video sort of makes clear he's plenty happy not to be in government though.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Surveillance Cams Turning U.S. Into Santa's Naughty-or-Nice Indicator?

Nationwide - and here in Tennessee - we've been watched and we are going to be watched even more in coming years, with a near-constant observation of everyone.

The story also details Memphis cops using military equipment to find license plates with warrants attached to the owners; a citizen taking pictures of a local police boat in California triggering an FBI datamining frenzy; local law enforcement officials instructed that "Most Muslims in the United States want to impose sharia law here"; and loads of vague useless scary reports tossed down to locals by federal DHS, and locals targeting lawful and harmless gatherings for intelligence fearmongering.

The Post story also explains what local "fusion centers" do with federal terror money in a land decidedly bereft of terror:

The fact that there has not been much terrorism to worry about is not evident on the Tennessee fusion center's Web site. Click on the incident map, and the state appears to be under attack.

Red icons of explosions dot Tennessee, along with blinking exclamation marks and flashing skulls. The map is labeled: "Terrorism Events and Other Suspicious Activity.

But if you roll over the icons, the explanations that pop up have nothing to do with major terrorist plots: "Johnson City police are investigating three 'bottle bombs' found at homes over the past three days," one description read recently. ". . . The explosives were made from plastic bottles with something inside that reacted chemically and caused the bottles to burst."

Another told a similar story: "The Scott County Courthouse is currently under evacuation after a bomb threat was called in Friday morning. Update: Authorities completed their sweep . . . and have called off the evacuation."

"Watch Everyone!" certainly appears to be the fearful policy guiding security in private and public business. I wonder if the following tale became a notation on the "anti-terror" networks:

"A Mid-South man was arrested after police said he broke into a Jackson, Tennessee school and danced in the nude early Tuesday morning.

Lt. Tyreece Miller with the Jackson Police Department said Dakotah Lamuska broke a window at Northeast Middle School. His nude dance was caught on surveillance camera.

"What it shows is a white man dancing in the nude," said Miller.

Miller said Lamuska started dancing for no apparent reason. He did not take anything from the school or destroy anything other than the window.

Jackson Police would not release the surveillance video of Lamuska dancing."

Well good, really, I don't wanna see it. But the suspect here seems guilty at best of breaking and entering with the added action of skinny dipping without anything to dip in.

Perhaps our safety does depend on us all being watched and recorded all the time whatever we do and wherever we go. But I'm not convinced yet.

And what about "watching the watchmen"? Congress surely does not abide for more than a very limited peek at what they are doing:

"House floor debates are currently televised by cameras owned, operated, and controlled by the House. Reaction shots and wide shots of the chamber are not permitted under House rules. C-SPAN, as well as other media outlets, must use the floor feed provided by the House in its coverage. Congressional policy does allow for C-SPAN's coverage of other Congressional events, such as committee hearings, press conferences, speeches, and the like, to be produced by its own cameras. C-SPAN argues that allowing its cameras to be installed in the House chamber would give the public a more complete and transparent view of Congressional debates. If granted permission to install cameras, C-SPAN proposes to make its feed available to accredited media and stream it live on its web site."

UPDATE: Tennessee "fusion centers" say Free Speech is suspicious activity.

Monday, December 20, 2010

One Last Christmas

There's a stunning wealth of music on the Internet, of course, but thanks to some who craft items for this digital domain, we also have many, many Christmas songs which are not repeated infinitely during this season. And in seeking those songs today, I discovered a bona fide Christmas miracle ... one you do not want to miss.

These seldom-heard or brand-new tunes of Christmas have always been quite fascinating to me, though I can't really explain why it holds such interest. The songs, perhaps, are like forgotten gifts.

First up for your listening pleasure is the podcast from WBEZ's Sound Opinions web site, from Christmas music collector Andy Cirzan. This podcast is the 20th annual Christmas collection spectacular, full of seasonal music which are described as "
Yowls & Yodels from the Yule Vortex...further adventures in holiday obscura."

The link to this dazzling podcast, about an hour long, is here. Free downloads are available until Jan. 1, 2011, but you can just listen to it at the link. Cirzan wisely includes a complete song list and footnotes for the collection too, which features tunes from Jimmy McGriff and Sunny Boy Williamson and opens with a great selection from a 1968 album recorded by the U.S. Air Force band with arrangements by The Free Design. Most unusual and fun stuff.

Another location to find amazing holiday music is at Stubby's House of Christmas, a blog devoted to holiday tunes and videos which can easily fill many hours. One of their recent selections is from R&B singer Tasha Taylor, daughter of the great Johnny Taylor ("Disco Lady", "Who's Makin' Love") which is best described as a "
an all new original--a simmering, steaming, hot buttered stoned-soul R&B Christmas miracle". Listen/watch the video here.

Stubby also has a real Christmas tear jerker via musician Matthew West and his song "One Last Christmas". It's a powerful true story, about an infant boy named Dax, diagnosed with leukemia and his parent's overwhelming desire to create one more Christmas for him. I'll let Stubby take the story:

Dax's family was determined to give the boy one last Christmas and started putting up their decorations early--like middle of summer early. The neighbors inquired and, when told the reason, began putting their decorations up as well. Soon, the whole town was decked out in full holiday style, well in advance of the actual holiday. A web site went up and pictures began coming from all over the world from people putting up their Christmas decorations early in honor of Dax. Dax lost his battle with Leukemia, but not without seeing a last Christmas. In Dax's memory, St. Jude's is trying to raise $1.6 million--the amount required to run St. Jude's for a single day. Go to DaxLocke.com and make a donation to St. Jude's so that other children might see Christmas and beyond."

Please donate if you can. And grab a handkerchief and watch this Christmas song for Dax.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Annual Christmas Monkey Caption Contest

Yes, we're just days away from Christmas, so it is time once again for our Annual Create A Christmas Caption Contest for the Annual Christmas Monkey!

Here's a caption to start things off:

"One does not refudiate the Christmas Monkey!!"

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Massive Strike Underway By Georgia Prison Inmates

UPDATE: The most recent info (Dec. 17) says the protest appears to have ended.

Details are few and far between, but apparently since Thursday, Dec. 9th, inmates in 6 to 11 Georgia state prisons have refused to leave their cells or do any work in a protest against a variety of conditions, the protest coordinated via cell phones and other social networking methods.

In the last 24 to 48 hours, the media has begun to pay attention and report on the situation, such as the Chattanooga Times Free Press to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

The state of Georgia does not pay anything to inmates for work - unlike Tennessee, which pays from 17 to 54 cents per hour to inmates for work they perform.

But inmates claim much more is at stake - including no educational opportunities beyond getting a GED, no skills-training or rehabilitation programs, little exercise, very low nutritional meals, and little, if any, health care.

This is a pretty big story getting very little attention as it affects thousands of inmates and numerous state prisons. Chances are if negotiations don't work soon, the situation could easily become tremendously volatile.

Monday, December 13, 2010

A Brief History of My Coffee Cup

I was reaching for my favorite coffee cup this morning when my half-asleep hands fumbled and the cup fell to the floor and broke into two halves, as if someone had sawed the darn thing right down the middle.

I really did like that coffee cup. It was a gift from my mother some years ago, with a hand-made fired clay look to it, all gnarled and dark brown and it had the word "Chickamauga" on it, and an image of some cannons and a stack of cannonballs. Best of all, it was the right size for the amount of coffee I wanted. Too many cups are barely thimbles for containing coffee, and some are like small buckets which hold too much. This one was "just right".

The name Chickamauga was most familiar to me - both my parents were from the Chattanooga area, and many summer days were spent at the TVA-created Nickajack and Chickamauga lakes with relatives, and often we would watch the operations of the massive river lock at the Nickajack Dam. The night-time operations were completely fascinating feats to witness.

Chickamauga also lends its name to a brutal, bloody Civil War with casualties second only to the battle of Gettysburg. Many of those youthful summers also brought chances to tour the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park which were created by acts of the Congress beginning back in 1890 to preserve the site of the deadly warfare - tens of thousands killed, injured and missing.

I'm not one of the Men of the South who act as some historical custodian of that war. But living in East Tennessee, one cannot escape awareness - on any casual summer day one could easily probe the landscape and find bullets or buttons or other remnants of the soldiers who roamed here with great purpose in mind, and there are also those grim, grey historical markers dotting the landscape wherever one travels here. I do have a more sympathetic affiliation, as I know the words Chickamauga and Nickajack were names of the Cherokee. I was always told our family had some distant genetic ties to those native Americans, so in my youthful imaginings, the untamed and wise way of those people seemed far more appealing than tattered and torn soldiers dying by the thousands.

I also read a most stunning short story growing up titled "Chickamauga" by Ambrose Bierce. It remains a vivid, powerful tale of a young boy out playing one day who gets lost amid the battle of Chickamauga. The story scared the bejesus out of me and it still has to power to conjure the most powerful emotions. You can read the tale here, and it won't take long to read but it will take your breath away.

But today, my favorite coffee cup, which had a word that held some imaginations for me, that cup is in two pieces. Searching for another to use today instead, I had to settle for a cup with a Santa picture on it and a handle shaped like a candy cane. I feel utterly ridiculous using it, even if it is seasonably appropriate.

So as I sip from my Santa cup (no dignity there), I decided to noodle about the Internet and see if I could find what definition the word Chickamauga had for the Cherokee. Apparently, there is no consensus, and much confusion. WikiPedia says at one time, folks thought it meant River of Death:

In popular histories, it is often said that Chickamauga is a Cherokee word meaning "river of death".[12] Peter Cozzens, who has written arguably the most definitive book on the battle, This Terrible Sound, wrote that this is the "loose translation".[13] Glenn Tucker presents the translations of "stagnant water" (from the "lower Cherokee tongue"), "good country" (from the Chickasaw) and, "river of death" (dialect of the "upcountry Cherokee"). Tucker claims that the "river of death" came by its name not from early warfare, but from the location that the Cherokee contracted smallpox.[14] James Mooney, in Myths of the Cherokee, wrote that Chickamauga is the more common spelling for Tsïkäma'gï, a name that has "lost any meaning in Cherokee and appears to be of foreign origin."[15]

Another collection of Tennessee tales offers the following:

CHICKAMAUGA: The name of two creeks in Hamilton county, entering Tennessee river from opposite sides a few miles above Chattanooga. A creek of the same name is one of the head-streams of Chattahoochee river, in White county, Georgia. The Cherokee pronounce, it Tsïkäma'gï, applying the name in Tennessee to the territory about the mouth of the southern, or principal, stream, where they formerly had a town, from which they removed in 1782. They state, however, that it is not a Cherokee word and has no meaning in their language. Filson, in 1793, erroneously states that it is from the Cherokee language and signifies "Boiling pot," referring to a dangerous whirlpool in the river near by, and later writers have improved upon this by translating it to mean "Whirlpool." The error arises from confounding this place with The Suck, a whirlpool in Tennessee river 15 miles farther down and known to the Cherokee as Ûñtiguhï', "Pot in the water" (see number 63, "Ûñtsaiyï', the Gambler"). On account of the hard fighting in the neighborhood during the Civil war, the stream was sometimes called, poetically, "The River of Death," the term being frequently given as a translation of the Indian word. It has been suggested that the name is derived from an Algonquian word referring to a fishing or fish-spearing place, in which case it may have originated with the Shawano, who formerly occupied middle Tennessee, and some of whom at a later period resided jointly with the Cherokee in the settlements along this part of the river. If not Shawano it is probably from the Creek or Chickasaw.

Concerning "Chickamauga gulch," a canyon on the northern stream of that name, a newspaper writer gives the following so-called legend, which it is hardly necessary to say is not genuine:

The Cherokees were a tribe singularly rich in tradition, and of course so wild, gloomy, and remarkable a spot was not without its legend. The descendants of the expatriated semi-barbarians believe to this day that in ages gone a great serpent made its den in the gulch, and that yearly he demanded of the red men ten of their most beautiful maidens as a sacrificial offering. Fearful of extermination, the demand was always complied with by the tribe, amid weeping and wailing by the women. On the day before the tribute was due the serpent announced its presence by a demoniacal hiss, and the next morning the fair ones who had been chosen to save the tribe were taken to the summit of a cliff and left to be swallowed by the scaly Moloch."

Yes, that last bit sounds like a crazy white man invention to cast harsh cruelties on the Cherokee.

And yes, you may be wondering why I would exert my efforts today to write about a broken cup. I simply really liked it, it was my companion as I wrote - and now it is gone. I'm not going to try and SuperGlue the pieces together, because a paranoid portion of my mind would always assume I was drinking some globs of glue with my coffee. So farewell to my favorite coffee cup. It once held the deep, dark marks of thousands of servings of coffee like geologic strata, etched with a name whose true meaning has been lost in time, and a name which holds many meanings.

For now, it's me and the Santa cup.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Camera Obscura: The Worst Santa Claus Movie Ever; 10 Best Unseen Movies of 2010

Before we get into the Good Stuff, a short jaunt into some truly odd and weird moments of the week.

For reasons unknown, this week CNN aired a story on the rather horrible illness of inflammatory bowel disease ... and to promo the story, they aired a clip from the movie "Dumb and Dumber", wherein the character played by Jeff Daniels experiences a thunderous blast of diarrhea. News anchor Ali Velshi was visibly stunned by the clip and said "We didn't just air that one live TV did we?"

Yes, you did. Cinematical has the story and the CNN clip.


What gift this holiday season might satisfy (or dumbfound) the Stanley Kubrick fan in your life? How about a toy version of the Space Monolith from "2001: A Space Odyssey"? Think Geek has one ready for sale (which they call an "action figure").

No word if it also plays the "Thus Spake Zarathustra" theme, but that would be cool. Now if I could just find a toy bone I could throw into the air which would transform into a spaceship. Are there other toys from "2001"?

Well, yes, and all Christmasy ones too -- eBay has the space shuttle Orion Christmas tree ornament: And also for sale, the EVA Pod Christmas tree ornament.


Now on to what is likely the worst Christmas movie I've ever run across - and you can watch it late tonite (around 2 a.m.) on Turner Classic Movies.

It's a 1959 Mexican-made feature called "Santa Claus", which is surely one of the oddest Christmas movies ever made. Forget all that "Santa Claus vs The Martians" nonsense. This feature is truly a bizarre entry, which actually did quite well when released in the U.S. back in the day. TCM's write up explains the tale, where Santa, living in a floating space castle, is trying to help a wee young girl get a doll for Christmas, only to find that Satan (that's Satan, not Santa) sends an envoy named Pitch to Earth to muck up the whole deal. But let's go to that TCM write-up:

Dividing the action between Earth, the heavens (Santa occupies a cloud-straddling castle cum Fortress of Solitude) and deep in the bowels of Hell (where horned demons with beatnik goatees caper like Fosse dancers as the damned trudge mournfully to tarnation), Santa Claus is all the more strange for honoring a holiday not at all native to Mexico.

"St. Nick's anthropomorphic toyshop (whose ordinances include a Nemoesque/Phibesian pipe organ cum communication console, a privacy-violating "master eye" and an alarmingly labial computer voice generator) points to the polymorphous perversity of key 80s era "new wave" productions, notably Stephen Sayadian's
Café Flesh (1982), Richard Elfman's Forbidden Zone (1982), David Cronenberg's Videodrome (1983), Rene Daalder's Population: 1 (1986) and even the popular CBS Saturday morning show Pee-Wee's Playhouse (1986-1990)."

The movie gained much fame one more time when the Mystery Science Theater 3000 folks spoofed the movie, and it is even funnier than the original film. And you can watch the MSTK3 send up for free online via Google video.

And speaking of TCM, the Movie Morelocks blog has an excellent list of movies from 2010 which too few have seen and all of which are very much worth seeking out. These aren't horribly weird movies, these are truly original movies which deserve far more attention and praise than they received.

The full list is here, and I have only seen one of them, which I really enjoyed. It's "The Killer Inside Me", starring Casey Affleck, Kate Hudson, Jessica Alba, Ned Beatty and directed by Michael Winterbottom. Based on the novel by Jim Thompson, it's a crime story like no other. Deputy Sheriff Lou Ford (Affleck) is a casual and brutal killer, who begins to accept the reality that his darkest side is growing and he ponders on how much enjoyment it brings him. The story has been filmed before (badly) and while I was skeptical at first at Affleck's casting, he captures a man of perfectly natural innocence and innate brutality exceptionally well. The movie does not veer much from the novel, which I confess was so rugged it was a gut-wrenching read. The movie doesn't flinch away either, resulting in a movie that boggles the senses and is hardly mainstream fare. But it remains a completely fascinating descent into the darkest of criminal minds. Thompson's genius is brought to vivid and horrifying life.

The full list is chock full of movies which should be on your list of must-sees. One other I look forward to watching is the animated (no CGI here) "The Illusionist," taken from French filmmaker Jacques Tati's last finished screenplay.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

WikiLeaks Outrage, Episode Number 137

image via http://www.designfloat.com

Some recent articles and comments on Julian Assange and WikiLeaks -

Glenn Greenwald:

Whatever you think of WikiLeaks, they have not been charged with a crime, let alone indicted or convicted. Yet look what has happened to them. They have been removed from Internet ... their funds have been frozen ... media figures and politicians have called for their assassination and to be labeled a terrorist organization. What is really going on here is a war over control of the Internet, and whether or not the Internet can actually serve its ultimate purpose - which is to allow citizens to band together and democratize the checks on the world's most powerful factions."

Ron Paul:

In a free society we're supposed to know the truth," Paul insisted. "In a society where truth becomes treason, then we're in big trouble. And now, people who are revealing the truth are getting into trouble for it."

Rush Limbaugh:

Where are the WikiLeaks cables proving that the CIA invented AIDS? Where is Obama's birth certificate? Where's the real good stuff? And how about all the hundreds of other left-wing lies we've been hearing about for years? [Is] WikiLeaks covering up for the United States?"

Oh and Twitter says the First Rule of WikiLeaks is you don't Tweet WikiLeaks tags.

Another viewpoint via James Moore:

I want information so that I can hold my government accountable. If my country acts improperly and in my name, I want the proof. I want to know if there actually is no evidence proving weapons of mass destruction. I want to know if America is working with Israel to overthrow Iran's leadership. I want data that has not been spun by reporters that work for publishers and broadcasters with political and business goals that conflict with the facts.

And Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann claims President Obama does not say the word "God" enough.

In Kurt Vonnegut Jr.'s novel "Breakfast of Champions", a character named Kilgore Trout, a sci-fi writer who claims that a "leak" or "taking a leak" actually means the speaker is about to steal a mirror, as mirrors are portals to other worlds. If nothing else, the WikiLeaks hysteria is aiming a mirror at the modern world revealing a most unflattering reflection.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Camera Obscura: Twin Peaks Reunion; Jeff Bridges As John Wayne; Fulci's 'The Beyond'

For one hour this week immense joy was created by television, as the great "Twin Peaks" show got a most entertaining reunion of sorts thanks to the USA Network series "Psych". Cast members from Peaks assembled for a comic poke at their iconic work, with plenty of references to pie and coffee. Oh, television, will you ever make something as good as "Twin Peaks" again?

NOTE: details about the episode, a commentary and more are here, and kudos to series star James Roday for writing this episode and gathering all the Peaks actors he could. Have a slab of pie James, you deserve it.


Jeff Bridges storms the cinemas this month with two movies which are both re-inventions of previous movies, one in which he starred he some 30 years ago and one where he takes on John Wayne.

I'm a bit more keen to see the second one, a remake of Wayne's Oscar-winner "True Grit" since it is the newest work from James and Ethan Coen, two of the best filmmakers in America. The Coen's version follows the novel by Charles Portis more closely, making better use of Portis' dialog. The way people speak is always a central feature in the Coen brothers films. And while many films have been made over the years aiming to mimic a John Wayne movie, as best I can tell this is the first time someone has done a straight-up remake. (Well, other than a very, very bad TV movie from 1978 called "True Grit" with Warren Oates in the Rooster Cogburn role in a sort of "continuing adventures of" story which is far worse than it sounds.)

Early reviews
are quite tantalizing - "
Let's get this out of the way right now: Jeff Bridges and Hailee Steinfeld own this film, every inch of it. The entire cast is fantastic, with special kudos to Josh Brolin and an unrecognizable Barry Pepper (see if you can spot him), but there's not a moment that goes by in the film when you're not itching to see Bridges' Marshal Reuben J. Cogburn and Steinfeld's Mattie Ross share the screen. The two make up the most memorable on-screen duo we've seen all year -- a beaten-up, smelly, drunken U.S. Marshal and a whip-smart 14-year-old negotiator -- and every scene they share is one you're going to want to watch again. One particular scene early in the film, which sees young Mattie Ross trying to sell back the horses her recently-assassinated father bought, is flawlessly executed and effortlessly charming."

The other new Bridges movie is a sequel to his 1982 Disney film "Tron", titled "Tron Legacy". The first film was pretty weak overall, but for myself (and for many others) the ideas in the movie were always quite inventive - a hacker is physically transported inside to the inside of a computer. The tech just did not exist in 1982 to bring the story the wow factor it needed, and the script was weak, but it has remained a sci-fi touchstone ever since.

In 2010, filmmakers have the wow factor down. And the sequel gets a great boost from the techno music throbbing rhythms of Daft Punk. Director Joseph Kosinski is also working on a remake of Disney's terrible space adventure "The Black Hole", so he surely has much riding on these two films.

Speaking of Bridges though, I did watch his Oscar-winning role from last year as an aging, drunken country music singer in "Crazy Heart" and was not very impressed. The story is a paint-by-numbers tale with little originality, and such half-heartedness really doesn't give Bridges much to work with. However, I give him much credit for making the most of it. He has such natural style and talent, he often makes silk purses from sow's ears.

The Dude abides.

Now let's get really obscure. Tonight/tomorrow at 2 a.m. Turner Classic Movies will air director Lucio Fulci's "The Beyond".

Fulci made some really cheesy and wonderful horror stories during his career, and many consider "The Beyond" to be his best. Director Quentin Tarantino helped revive the movie some years back and sent it round for midnight movies across the country and It arrives on TCM in all it's cheesy gory ... I mean glory.

Film critic Roger Ebert has the last word on this movie, which is about a woman who gets ownership of a New Orleans hotel only to find the basement is a doorway to hell. (And no, Lucio, there just are not any basements in New Orleans) Anyway, take it away Roger:

The Beyond'' does not disappoint. I have already mentioned the scene where the tarantulas eat eyeballs and lips. As the tarantulas tear away each morsel, we can clearly see the strands of latex and glue holding it to the model of a corpse's head. Strictly speaking, it is a scene of tarantulas eating makeup.

In a film filled with bad dialogue, it is hard to choose the most quotable line, but I think it may occur in Liza's conversations with Martin, the architect hired to renovate the hotel. ``You have carte blanche,'' she tells him, ``but not a blank check!''

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Fiscal Reform Commission FAIL

The panel has such a lofty title - the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform - but it's proposals seems mostly irresponsible.

A hodgepodge of limp proposals, including tax increases on gasoline, raising the retirement age, eliminating tax deductions for charities and mortgage interest, and many others all ignore the basic problems in the nation's financial structure.

Back in June, economist James K. Galbraith spoke about the inherent flaws in the entire project:

The President created the Commission while pressing for a stronger growth strategy, and has sent every discreet signal (notably in the commission’s minuscule operating budget) that the exercise should not be taken seriously.

Nevertheless, there is a danger that the Commission will take a path — “stimulate now but austerity later” – that will lead to unnecessary, economically-damaging and socially destructive cuts in Social Security and Medicare. And there is a danger that such cuts will be stampeded through Congress in the months immediately following the 2010 elections.


"Overwhelmingly, the present deficits are caused by the financial crisis. The financial crisis, the fall in asset (especially housing) values, and withdrawal of bank lending to business and households has meant a sharp decline in economic activity, and therefore a sharp decrease in tax revenues and an increase in automatic payments for unemployment insurance and the like. According to a new IMF staff analysis, fully half of the large increase in budget deficits in major economies around the world is due to collapsing tax revenues, and a further large share to low (often negative) growth in relation to interest payments on existing debt. Less than ten percent is due to increased discretionary public expenditure, as in stimulus packages.

This point is important because it shows that the claim that deficits have resulted from “overspending” is false, both in the United States and abroad."


"You are plainly not equipped by disposition or resources to take on the true cause of deficits now and in the future: the financial crisis. Recommendations based on CBO’s unrealistic budget and economic outlooks are destined to collapse in failure. Specifically, if cuts are proposed and enacted in Social Security and Medicare, they will hurt millions, weaken the economy, and the deficits will not decline. It’s a lose-lose proposition, with no gainers except a few predatory funds, insurance companies and such who would profit, for some time, from a chaotic private marketplace.

Thus the interesting twist in your situation is that the Republic would be better served by advancing no proposals at all."

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Metro Pulse Says I'm Worth Reading - And They're Right

Chalk up another instance of media attention for this blog -- this time from the latest issue of Metro Pulse.

My humble - cough, cough - efforts here have been cited by the newspaper as local political blog of note. I've been fortunate to have several news media sites in Tennessee and beyond pay attention to this blog, to be supportive and encouraging, and most importantly, to share my work with their audiences.

I thank Coury Turczyn and the MP staff for their interest. You can read their article online here, as I respond to some questions they asked. The article says:

A new blog’s life expectancy is sadly short; it begins with earnest intentions to strike a bold path of self-expression, and usually ends with a death knell of ennui. They die by the thousands each week. But even in this age of tweets, there are old-fashioned blogs worth seeking out—especially local ones."

Old-fashioned, eh? Well, yes, I suppose five years in Internet time is probably 100 years. So be it. Like I said in my answers to the MP's questions, I'm still here and I try to make this blog better every day.

They likewise note several other "blogs worth bookmarking" here, and it includes a few I had not heard about but will now begin to read.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Exposing Secrets the WikiLeaks Way

Some ludicrous, hysterical and poorly informed rantings and ravings have been made about the massive dump of U.S. diplomatic communications via the WikiLeaks organization. Reading and close examination of these documents has been taking place for some time by several news organizations - and while I (like you dear readers who might be interested in such matters) have barely begun to explore the information, there are some folks who are screaming for execution and murder even though these folks have not a clue and have not had anywhere near the time to explore what these documents reveal (and don't reveal).

Americans, by and large, are more concerned with issues close to home. Most of us cognizant of history and government know that diplomats and spies have been partners as long as there have been diplomats and spies. In essence, these leaks pose two very challenging questions -- Do you know what your government does? and Do you even care?

A most illuminating discussion of these documents and their impact is here, between reporter Amy Goodman and Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg; Greg Mitchell, who writes the Media Fix blog at The Nation; Carne Ross, a British diplomat for 15 years who resigned before the Iraq war; and As’ad AbuKhalil,
a professor of political science at California State University, Stanislaus.

Some excerpts:

Daniel Ellsberg: "
So it’s very early to judge, really, the value or the dangers, if any, of releasing that. Back in October when we were releasing or when he was releasing I think it was the Afghan documents at that point, they were still new to the process, and I think they made some mistakes in terms of releasing some names that they shouldn’t have released at that time and were properly criticized for that. As a result, it appears that the last batch before this one was redacted fairly heavily by Assange- by WikiLeaks- with the result that when the Pentagon said that there were 300 names that were endangered by that release, they said right away, based on their own files and their own knowledge of the cables, it turned out within a couple of days that WikiLeaks had released none of those names, that none of those had been redacted. They were not endangered. The upshot right now appears to be that as of now, with the hundreds of thousands of documents that WikiLeaks has put out, the Pentagon has had to acknowledge that not one single informant or soldier has been endangered. In fact, they have not even felt the need to protect one or inform one that he or she was in danger. So that risk, which we’re hearing again, now, right now has obviously been very largely overblown and is a lot of blather."

Carne Ross: "
The trouble with all of this is we tend to place government in this sort of superior, elite position; that they know things we do not know; that governments are entitled to know things that the public do not know. I think the balance is way too far in the government’s favor. Far more information should be released and made transparent. I’m not sure, however, that the way WikiLeaks has done this is the right way. This is a very random, blunt instrument to attack the problem of a lack of transparency of government. This should ideally be done through the mechanisms of democratic accountability. Of course, it’s not been done that way so far. Hence, WikiLeaks."


As'ad Abu Kahalill: "Yesterday, the main Saudi news organization, Arabia, kept promising viewers the leak of the document was imminent: "Ten minutes from now, we’re going to see all these documents!" And then once the documents were out, there was complete silence in that news organization. They figured that all these documentations are, in fact, an utter embarrassment to the image of their ruler the they try so hard to prop up in the eyes of the public. I think the Arab public today woke up wiser than before, more cynical than before, and certainly more critical of the government."

There is so very much to consider, obviously. And yet, hysterics, not surprisingly, flow from some corners of the Right. Sarah "I read everything I can get my hands on" Palin (ha!!), who, I promise you, has not read any of these documents, opines, as do others, some completely reckless reactions.

Tennessee radio shock talker Steve Gill says kill the leakers.

Tennessee blogger Doug McCaughan urges people to think before they advocate killing.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Non-Existent Hamblen Co. Ethics Committee Guilty of Violations

It's far too easy to be cynical about the verdict handed down in the case of Hamblen County government's Ethics Committee, as they were found guilty of violating the Tennessee Open Meetings Act.

On one hand, it is encouraging to see the court recognize and rule against such violations. Yet, on the other hand, the county's Ethics Committee was dissolved during the course of the lawsuit filed by a local resident. It doesn't exist anymore (most likely due to the fact is was the subject of a lawsuit). So the ruling from Judge included this odd admonition:

"Should the Hamblen County Ethics Committee be re-constituted, it shall abide by all requirements of the Tennessee Open Meetings Act, T.C.A. 8-44-101 et seq, including providing adequate notice of all public meetings in accordance with T.C.A. 8-44-101, including the time, place, and purpose of each meeting."

So while I'm glad to see the system work, the system is a very clunky machine.

Attorney and blogger Linda Noe has more details on the case and the ruling.

SEE ALSO: Plans are being made by some Tennessee legislators to confuse laws even more when it comes to public records - seems e-mails from government computers need their own legislative control.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Strange Moments In Thanksgiving History

Is is possible to cook an entire Thanksgiving meal using an Easy-Bake oven? I doubt it - however it has been attempted at least once. See what happens here.

Dinosaurs, Wayne Newton and Soupy Sales were featured in the 1966 Macy's Thanksgiving Parade, all captured on Super8 film. Is it just me or do the people on these rickety floats look like they are about to fall down?

I learned this year that cranberry sauce and Thanksgiving got together thanks to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and the Civil War.

What happens when you ask a science fiction writer to say Grace on Thanksgiving:

We also thank you for the world and that in your wisdom you have not stopped the Earth's core from rotating, collapsing our planet's magnetic field and causing microwaves from the sun to fry whole cities, requiring a plucky band of scientists to drill down through the mantle and start the core's rotation with nuclear bombs. That seems like a lot of work, so we are pleased you've kept the Earth's core as it is.

We also thank you for once again not allowing our technology to gain sentience, to launch our own missiles at us, to send a robot back in time to kill the mother of the human resistance, to enslave us all, and finally to use our bodies as batteries. That doesn't even make sense from an energy-management point of view, Lord, and you'd think the robots would know that. But in your wisdom, you haven't made it an issue yet, so thank you."

Here's hoping your holiday is bountiful, thankful and has no strange moments.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Katie Learns Star Wars Fans Have Her Covered

I'm really jammed for time right now, but this was such an interesting moment of solidarity I had to share it.

A young Chicago girl named Katie got intimidated and bullied by some boys at her school because she brought a Star Wars water bottle to school with her. Fearful of being an outsider and of being taunted, she began to hide from the problem, but her fearless mom took the problem in hand and the result was a galaxy of support for Katie and an online avalanche of appreciation.

Her mom posted

"Katie loves Star Wars, and she was very excited about her new items. For the first few months of school, she proudly filled her water bottle herself and helped me pack her lunch each morning.

But a week ago, as we were packing her lunch, Katie said, "My Star Wars water bottle is too small. It doesn't hold enough water. Can I take a different one?" She searched through the cupboard until she found a pink water bottle and said, "I'll bring this.

"I was perplexed. "Katie, that water bottle is no bigger than your Star Wars one. I think it is actually smaller."

"It's fine, I'll just take it," she insisted.

I kept pushing the issue, because it didn't make sense to me. Suddenly, Katie burst into tears.

She wailed, "The first grade boys are teasing me at lunch because I have a Star Wars water bottle. They say it's only for boys. Every day they make fun of me for drinking out of it. I want them to stop, so I'll just bring a pink water bottle."

I hugged her hard and felt my heart sink. Such a tender young age, and already she is embarrassed about the water bottle that brought her so much excitement and joy a few months ago.

"Katie, it is okay to be different. Not all girls need to drink out of pink water bottles," I told her.

"I don't want to be too different," Katie lamented. "I'm already different. Nobody else in my class wears glasses or a patch, and nobody else was adopted. Now I'm even more different, because of my Star Wars water bottle."

Over 1,200 comments have been left in support of Katie, to encourage her to be herself and be strong, to realize she's not done anything wrong and to celebrate herself and not fear the witless taunts of foolish boys.

Thousands upon thousands of Twitter folk now rally to her. Many celebrities are picking up the banner too.

A Google blog search today brings some 300,000 hits mentioning her and her defeat of the bullies.

The official Star Wars blog celebrates Katie too:

The Force is strong with Katie.

We got your back, girl!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Obama's Biggest Mistake

Writer and historian Rick Perlstein nails it - Limbaugh uses one tactic, lies, which the Obama camp has failed to challenge, thinking it would be wrong to respond, to "drop to his level of uncivil discourse". But he's very wrong.

We live in a mendocracy.

As in: rule by liars.

Political scientists are going crazy crunching the numbers to uncover the skeleton key to understanding the Republican victory [in the last primary elections].

But the only number that matters is the one demonstrating that by a two-to-one margin likely voters thought their taxes had gone up, when, for almost all of them, they had actually gone down. Republican politicians, and conservative commentators, told them Barack Obama was a tax-mad lunatic. They lied. The mainstream media did not do their job and correct them. The White House was too polite—"civil," just like Obama promised—to say much. So people believed the lie. From this all else follows.


"When it becomes "uncivil" to call out liars, lying becomes free.

And dammit, the essence of Obamaism as an ideology is that it is Uncivil to Call Out Liars.

So you find him at a press conference, the day after the midterm elections, saying with all apparent sincerity that he agreed the majority of Americans participated in a "fundamental rejection of his agenda"—who, that is, implicitly believe he raised their taxes.

When he really lowered them."

More here on the needed smackdown of media/political PR liars. And more here.

A stack of media headlines reading: "President Calls Limbaugh A Liar" would be a good start. The cost of doing otherwise should be vividly obvious.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The New E-Tomb

Because I could not Tweet for Death, Death kindly Tweeted me ....

One of the more popular design sites on the internet reports about the E-Tomb, powered by it's own solar panel, in great detail:

Faster and faster, we run to our digital heavens:

We used to talk about the "digital divide" between rural and underserved communities v. the rest of the broadband-enable world. Now the digital divide is really a generational divide between younger generations raised in an electronic world of interconnected information who have no problem giving up their privacy to stay connected v. us cranky old geezers who just want to be left alone."

Friday, November 12, 2010

Camera Obscura: The Zach Galifianakis Movie You Never Saw

Comedian Zach Galifianakis has been one of the busiest and most sought after actors in movies, turning in work on three different TV series, 8 movies in 2009, and much more on the way. He's hosted SNL after his breakout role in the movie "The Hangover", and has at least 5 more films ready for release next year.

By luck or fate, I saw his fantastically funny film from 2008, which was dumped on DVD last summer, because no one knew how to market this sharp-witted and horrifying dystopian comedy titled "Visioneers".

Zach plays George Washington Winsterhammerman, a numbed employee of the largest company in the world, which apparently runs everything, though we never really find out what they do. The movie has some similarities to Terry Gilliam's "Brazil", but first time filmmakers Jared and Brandon Drake don't go in for huge and crazy effects, they use the numb and understated world George inhabits to create their satire. And it is a brilliant satire touched with melancholy. "Visioneers" also shows off just how good an actor Zach can be. George may be dull, but we empathize with his search for meaning and the absurdity of a very sad nation. A growing cult of fans of his work will love this movie.

These drones of corporate living of the Jeffers Corporation in the movie are suffering a new and unexplainable epidemic - people are suddenly exploding. One of the symptoms, say doctors, is having dreams. Poor George has started to have them - and fears he too might explode. His wife, played by Judy Greer, blithely endures her dullness by shopping or putting butter on everything they eat or reading the self-help book "10,000 Things To Be Happy About."

But no one is happy - attempts to locate or feel such a thing, or to feel anything, is a near-criminal act. The corporate mindset so controls the world, all greetings are done by giving the "jeffers salute" - which is flipping a bird at someone. The legendary Jeffers can't pronounce the word "chaos" correctly, so everyone says it like he does, pronouncing the "ch" as in the word "church". Even the President is a dim drone who does as Jeffers commands.

There are so many expert jabs at our world today - a sleepless George surfing through television channels hits perfect marks; workdays are punctuated every 60 seconds with a recording of how many minutes of productivity are left before the weekend; productivity, in fact, is meant to be everyone's goal, since a profitable corporation is more important than anything else.

You can watch the complete movie for free at Fancast.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veterans Day: Past and Present

The cruel horrors of warfare are too many to list. The grueling conditions that marked the first World War are memorialized on this day - a day which now is held in remembrance for all veterans of war. Reading some history of Armistice Day in 1918, I discovered some words and images to share.

An Act (52 Stat. 351; 5 U. S. Code, Sec. 87a) approved May 13, 1938, made the 11th of November in each year a legal holiday—a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as "Armistice Day." Armistice Day was primarily a day set aside to honor veterans of World War I, but in 1954, after World War II had required the greatest mobilization of soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen in the Nation’s history; after American forces had fought aggression in Korea, the 83rd Congress, at the urging of the veterans service organizations, amended the Act of 1938 by striking out the word "Armistice" and inserting in its place the word "Veterans." With the approval of this legislation (Public Law 380) on June 1, 1954, November 11th became a day to honor American veterans of all wars." (via)

A Canadian physician, Lt. Colonel John McCrae, wrote a most memorable poem following the battle in Ypres in the Spring of 1915, titled "In Flanders Field". He writes of the enormous amount of red poppies visible across the landscape. Oddly, wild poppies will flower only when other plants in the area are dead, and on the day McRae composed his poem, the war had churned the earth so violently, that the deep red poppies were everywhere.

The poem almost never made it into public. He was unhappy with it, crumpled and tossed it away, but Lt. Colonel Edward Morrison retrieved it and sent it to the press. It was finally published in December of 1915. (More information about McCrae and his letters home to his mother, and much more history are here.and a variation on how it was kept and published is here.)

In Flanders Field

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing,fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie,

In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.

Below, a photo of Canadian stretcher bearers in Flanders Field, 1915

Today U.S. soldiers and soldiers from around the world remain in harm's way, fighting fiercely in Iraq and Afghanistan. From the website Boston.com, they have a series of powerful images of the war in Afghanistan taken during the month of October. In the image below, U.S. Air Force pararescuemen ride in the back of their medevac helicopter with the American flag-draped bodies of U.S. soldiers who were killed in a roadside bomb attack in Afghanistan's Kandahar province on October 10th, 2010. The pararescuemen and pilots from the 46th and 26th Expeditionary Rescue Squadrons had responded to the attack which killed two American soldiers and wounded three others. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder) (click image to enlarge)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

GOP To Save Money By Ending A Program Already Ended

For those hoping for even a modicum of competence from the upcoming House Republican majority, this does not bode well.

Note to the incoming Republican majority in the House: Eliminating government programs that do not exist does not save money.

Of the few specific cuts that Congressional Republicans have proposed in their promised assault on annual budget deficits, one of the biggest by far would save $25 billion over 10 years, they claim, by ending an emergency welfare fund.

The Republican Study Committee, which includes more than 100 of the most conservative House Republicans, promoted the idea in a statement this week, saying, "With the national debt quickly approaching $14 trillion, Washington needs to get serious about cutting spending."

Well, seriously, the fund expired Sept. 30.

Obviously, there's plenty of surface-level stupidity to marvel at here. The Republican Study Committee thinks it can save $25 billion by eliminating a program that doesn't exist. One would like to think these guys would put a little effort into their work, especially given the fact that spending cuts are presumably the issue they care about most.

But the layers of stupidity go much further. Note, for example, that the Republican Study Committee believes it can get $25 billion in savings from a program that cost $2.5 billion, which doesn't make any sense. Also note, RSC Chairman Tom Price (Ga.) called for eliminating the program as part of "welfare reform," which is completely crazy, given that the program is welfare reform.

And then there's the more fundamental question: why are right-wing congressional Republicans so anxious to kill effective jobs programs?

At issue here is something called the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Emergency Fund, which should have been one of the most popular programs in Congress. A key component of the Recovery Act, the fund subsidized jobs with private companies, nonprofits, and government agencies, and single handedly put more than 240,000 unemployed people back to work in 32 states and the District of Columbia.

Governors, including Mississippi's Haley Barbour (R), have sung its praises, and urged its extension. Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) called it an "important social safety net program." In July, CNN called the TANF Emergency Fund "a stimulus program even a Republican can love."

Except, Republicans didn't love it. After the House passed an extension, the Senate tried but came up short. Three times, Senate Democrats tried to keep the program going, and three times, the Senate GOP refused.

With unemployment near 10%, Republicans killed one of the most successful and cost-effective jobs programs in the country. And this week, because they don't believe in doing their homework, Republicans tried to kill it again, having forgotten that it's already dead.


Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Tennessee Most Depressed State In America

So says a report in the Tennessean newspaper:

Depression is a nationwide problem, but Tennesseans may be at even greater risk. The latest report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration showed that Tennessee had the country's highest rate of adults who have had a major depressive episode within the last year.

The report, based on 2006 and 2007 surveys, does not determine the reasons behind the statistics. However, Dr. Karen Rhea, chief medical officer of
Centerstone of Tennessee, said she suspects the state's overall poor health could play a role.

Tennessee consistently has high rates of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and prescription drug abuse, among others. People who suffer from depression are more likely to have other health problems as well, she said.

Sita Diehl, the director of state policy and advocacy for the National Alliance on Mental Illness, said it's difficult to determine if depression triggers other health issues or vice versa."

It's the chicken-or-the-egg scenario,"
Diehl said. "If you are depressed, you eat. If you are obese, you're depressed."

Friday, November 05, 2010

GOP's Pledge, Day 2: More Lying To Americans

The myths and lies from the Republican leaders - and their talking heads-of-state (Limbaugh, Beck, Hannity, etc) - have been a staple of their lives for so long, they're losing all contact with reality.

It did not just start with Limbaugh's pledge to do everything in his power to make the President Obama fail. The previous president, G.W. Bush, waved they myths and lies flag to claim there were clear reasons to go into war in Iraq, and to also claim "mission accomplished" in Iraq years before the goal had been reached.

The sad, sad truth is many Americans believe the lies and myths. Are they that gullible? That afraid? Or is it that they expect their leaders to be trustworthy?

Sarah Palin's sunrise is really a sunset run backwards.

Senators Corker and McConnell prefer fictions.

The news media can't seem to offer facts to challenge the lies.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

The GOP's Pledge: Keep Lying

Since the endless lies from Republicans just landed them success in this week's election, they obviously plan to keep lying to Americans.

Most recent lie: a Presidential trip to India will cost $200 million a day.

As pointed out here, this alleged cost is greater than the daily cost of the war in Afghanistan, which is estimated at $190 million a day. There is simply no truth to this ridiculous lie from Limbaugh and Beck and Hannity and Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann

Pathological lunacy.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Fictions Fuel Politics in 2010

The pure fiction and fantasy which mark the march to political power from Republicans and their imaginary Tea Party pals has been selling well this year. Fiction and fantasy often sell well when the economy is bad and public outrage is fanned by media outlets in search of more viewers/readers.

But here's a simple plain truth - there are many in power in many places who prefer to sell you a fiction rather than face facts. Fiction and fantasy are crafted with drama and romance, reality is a dull task.

And it is far, far simpler to make people fearful. I've been constantly reminded of that as I've been working at pretending to be a ghoulish thing for the last month at the haunted house known as Frightmare Manor here in East Tennessee. Making someone scared is incredibly easy - if you doubt it, then look at the general public response to someone who inspires greatness. Such a person is usually the subject of scorn and ridicule.

The fictions are thick this election year:

People have heard Republicans say "the failed stimulus" so often that many believe it. Again, according to the CBO, the (clearly inadequate) American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan resulted in approximately 3 million jobs, the difference between a lingering recession and a full-blown depression, most economists would say.

Also, many people swear Obama raised their taxes. Actually, he cut them. Almost one-third of the stimulus consisted of tax cuts, not spending. But because the money reached people in small increments through decreased withholding, most don't know it.

And, no, it wasn't the Obama administration that bailed out Wall Street. The Bush administration enacted TARP in October 2008, although most Democrats (Obama included) voted for it. We'd all like to see more high-flying Wall Street fraudsters locked up, but TARP did succeed in saving the financial system while paying for itself.

Ditto the auto industry bailouts, an unfortunate necessity also first initiated by the Bush administration that's basically worked. ...

Even so, "Things could have been much worse" isn't much of a campaign slogan. Moreover, Obama has only himself to blame for the oddly diffident way he's gone about explaining himself. Far from being a condescending elitist, the president has tended to give voters a lot more credit than they deserve.

Hence many of the same dreamers who convinced themselves that the merry-go-round of constantly rising real estate values would help them borrow their way to prosperity now trust that the simplistic nostrums of the Tea Party will lead us safely past Big Rock Candy Mountain and all the way back to Leave It to Beaver-Land. "

And I'm apparently hard-wired to view the political landscape with satiric eyes, since so many would-be power seekers (and those who buy the fictions) offer themselves up for skewering. The imaginary Tea Party movement is in reality a massively Republican funded operation claiming not to be Republican, they claim to be you, America. But they are not.

The double-and-tripled-jointed contortionists of these imaginary political movers and shakers are not new to American politics - they are just more hucksters looking to cash in.

As written by cartoonist Walt Kelly in the late 1960s, this twisting of fact and fiction has long been with us:

The candidate might be more attractive if he could prove himself insane.. To be sane in an insane world would be incongruous.

Porky Pine:
In congruous assembled, therefore, we affirm the world is insane an’ will elect a nutty leader to cope with it! Thereby givin’ him an out!

An out?

Sure.. No matter what he does he can be proven innocent by reason of insanity.

Since I'm old and most people don't know who Walt Kelly or Pogo is/was, then fire up your Google machine and seek them out. Or go the easy route and read up at WikiPedia.

You can also take in the following video from an old movie called "Network", which, more than ever, reveals the brutal weirdness of American media and exposes, through fiction, how corporate power is the One Ring which aims to rule us all.

And if you'd like to peer into the future, instead of the past, to understand what's about to happen to the political landscape, Republican leader Mitch McConnell lays it out - the GOP does not want solutions to the troubles of the nation, they want revenge for being removed from power:

McConnell implicitly argued that he intends to use the levers of power to ensure the president's political destruction. Indeed, instead of talking about job creation or national security as his top priority, McConnell described Obama's defeat as "the single most important thing we want to achieve."

And if, as expected, the followers of fiction prepare to throw out Democrats for their failures, it's worth noting that the failures did not come from Democratic legislation:

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