Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Sea Lion King

If birds, apes and even stingrays can rise up against mankind, then why not sea lions?

As AP recently pointed out, the creatures have been responsible for a recent spate of attacks along the California coastline:

"In the most frightening of the recent episodes, a single rogue sea lion bit 14 swimmers this month and chased 10 more out of the water at San Francisco's Aquatic Park, a sheltered lagoon that adjoins the bay. At least one victim suffered multiple puncture wounds.

"In Southern California in June, a sea lion charged several people on Manhattan Beach, then bit a man before waddling into the water and swimming away. And in Berkeley, a woman was hospitalized in the spring after a sea lion took a chunk out of her leg."

I can't help but wonder if this is the sort of thing that woolly mammoths or saber-toothed tigers said to each other (in their cute animalistic language, of course) in the Pleistocene Age about those newfangled human beings: You know, beasts making mental notes to themselves how these ex-apes, ever since walking erect, were starting to get a bit more aggressive, a bit more standoffish, a bit more cocky with their clubs and opposable thumbs and whatnot.

And then look what happened; we went and conquered the planet.

Hundreds of years from now, will this rash of attacks be remembered as the inchoate stages of the sea-lion revolution? Is it time to take preemptive measures?

Just a thought.

Update from the Forgotten War

By Cassandra D

Remember Afghanistan? Home of the Taliban, shielders of Osama bin Laden? Site of the original "War on Terror"? That war we all agreed on? How's that going?

Not well at all.

Pakistan says we should just admit that we were defeated by the Taliban. Surrender and negotiate, they advise.

Excellent.

Where is the outcry from our politicians and our populace? Where's all the talk about sending the right message to the terrorists? Where's the talk of securing a model democracy for the rest of the region? Do those ideals only apply to Iraq?

Why doesn't anybody seem to care that we are losing this chunk of the War on Terror, too?

The NSTA Responds

By Cassandra D

The National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) has issued a press release in response to the recent controversy over their decision not to distribute free "An Inconvenient Truth" DVD's to their members.

Key quote:

"Global warming is a very important science/societal issue. NSTA has always supported sound environmental science education. We regret this current controversy surrounding our decision not to mass distribute the DVD to our members, and we are working to promote the availability of the film." [the link is theirs]

My thanks go out to a loyal CTTC reader for emailing me with the updated info.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Ask Them to Reconsider

By Cassandra D

From the Washington Post: (via Crooks and Liars)

"At hundreds of screenings this year of An Inconvenient Truth, the first thing many viewers said after the lights came up was that every student in every school in the United States needed to see this movie.

"The producers of former vice president Al Gore's film about global warming, myself included, certainly agreed. So the company that made the documentary decided to offer 50,000 free DVDs to the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) for educators to use in their classrooms. It seemed like a no-brainer.

"The teachers had a different idea: Thanks but no thanks, they said.

"In their e-mail rejection, they expressed concern that other "special interests" might ask to distribute materials, too; they said they didn't want to offer "political" endorsement of the film; and they saw "little, if any, benefit to NSTA or its members" in accepting the free DVDs.

"Gore, however, is not running for office, and the film's theatrical run is long since over. As for classroom benefits, the movie has been enthusiastically endorsed by leading climate scientists worldwide, and is required viewing for all students in Norway and Sweden.

"Still, maybe the NSTA just being extra cautious. But there was one more curious argument in the e-mail: Accepting the DVDs, they wrote, would place "unnecessary risk upon the [NSTA] capital campaign, especially certain targeted supporters." One of those supporters, it turns out, is the Exxon Mobil Corp."

read on...

Even the oil and gas industry is coming to terms with the new political reality: the debate over global warming is over and it is past time to address the problem.

So contact the National Science Teacher's Association and ask them to reconsider their decision. An Inconvenient Truth explained global warming to me far better than anything else I have ever seen or read. It's time our children learned the nature of the problem we all face. We won't find a solution without them.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

He's Got No Problem with the Colored Folks ...

Note to self: If ever apologizing for a racist rant, try not to be contrite by using terms deemed politically incorrect about 30 years ago.












Hmm. We guess this explains the famous lost "Seinfeld" episode where Kramer and Newman end up in that wacky minstrel show.

And speaking of "Seinfeld," check out this.

Dear FOX ...

Dear Mr. Rupert Murdoch,

Amid the hand-wringing and outrage over the woulda-been, coulda-been O.J. Simpson interview on FOX, "If I Did It," let me be honest and say upfront: I'm sorry your network lost its nerve and scrapped the program.

I, for one, was very intrigued to know how the Juice would have murdered his ex-wife and her friend ... had he actually been the culprit.

Something tells me he would've been far too clever to leave a bloody glove at the crime scene. The O.J. Simpson I know, the legendary USC running back and even more legendary co-star of Capricorn One, would've dispatched his victims with decidedly more verve and panache.

There wouldn't have been any almost severing of the head with O.J. The man did everything to the hilt.

Shame on you, Rupert Murdoch. If anyone in the news media had the cojones to buck the timid voices of decency and good taste, it was you, sir.

This is not the FOX I know, the FOX of Bill O'Reilly and Neil Cavuto and Freddy Krueger. You've let us down. You've let us all down.

Thankfully, FOX is still full-steam ahead with its upcoming exclusive interview with George W. Bush, "If I Had Fucked Up the War on Terrorism ..."

Friday, November 17, 2006

Friday Random 10

Today's iPod shuffle is dedicated to compose Burt Bacharach, crappy Eighties songs I still have and, of course, our brave men and women of the armed forces.

1. Los Lobos, "Will the Wolf Survive?"
2. Tom Jones, "I'll Never Fall in Love Again"
3. Cake, "Meanwhile, Rick James ..."
4. Bruce Springsteen, "Backsteets"
5. Blind Melon, "No Rain"
6. The Stranglers, "Walk on By"
7. The Traveling Wilburys, "Handle with Care"
8. Toad the Wet Sprocket, "Good Intentions"
9. Don Henley, "All She Wants to Do Is Dance"
10. The Dead Kennedys, "Holiday in Cambodia"

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Slipped Down the Slope, Or Regular Abuse of Power?

By Cassandra D

UCLA campus police Tasered a student for not leaving the library fast enough when he didn't have his proper ID. Then they Tasered him again when he wouldn't stand up. The Daily Bruin has more disturbing details:

"As the student and the officers were struggling, bystanders repeatedly asked the police officers to stop, and at one point officers told the gathered crowd to stand back and threatened to use a Taser on anyone who got too close.

"Laila Gordy, a fourth-year economics student who was present in the library during the incident, said police officers threatened to shoot her with a Taser when she asked an officer for his name and his badge number."

I thought that in this nation, Tasers were used to protect people from violence, not as torture devices to get people to do what the police want.

Tasers cause muscles to spasm, which makes the person fall to the ground and renders physical violence impossible. Tasers also happen to cause severe pain. In this case, the Taser was used specifically to cause pain.

So, are we now living in a society that yawns at torture, or is this just another example of run-of-the-mill abuse of power?

Are we, as a nation, still able to see that this incident was wrong?

"As God Is My Witness, I'll Never Be [Insert Euphemism Here]"

Actions speak loud than words. Yeah, in fairy tales, maybe. In the lumbering machinations of federal bureaucracy, however, words are important enough to warrant constant Orwellian tinkering.

The latest examples comes from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which has determined that "hungry" is no longer an appropriate term to describe the 12 percent of Americans who go, umm ... without food at night. As the Washington Post reports, "the USDA has determined 'very low food security' to be a more scientifically palatable description for that group."

Nice (and typical) work from a White House administration that never ceases to amaze at its ability to shove its thumb up its, umm ... collective rectal hidey-hole.

Sex Tape Derby, Round 78

It's another installment of Sex Tape Derby, where you make the call. It's the choice of Solomon: You must view a homemade sex tape of celebrities in various stages of doing it the way they do it on the Discovery Channel. Who would be your choice to spread their wings and learn to, er, fly?

Post your selections in the comments section below.

CMA smackdown: Carrie Underwood or ...














Faith Hill?














Hip-hop hubba hubba: Ludacris or ...














Kanye West?

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

It Don't Fit

By Larry Mondello
Leave it to the Juice to pull me out of hibernation.

Story today that O.J. didn't do it, but to sell books and stroke the Heisman ego, he is doing a FOX interview to tell how he "would have done it"

Freedom of speech can really suck sometimes.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Better Than Steele?

By Cassandra D

So the RNC has named its new leader and it isn't Michael Steele. As I wrote before, I didn't think he was a good choice.

The winner is...Sen. Mel Martinez of Florida. Name ring a bell? Wondering why? Oh yeah, maybe because of this:

"Martinez started slowly in the Senate where he was embarrassed by a one-page unsigned memo that originated in his office. Written by a Martinez aide and disavowed by Senate Republicans, the memo laid out the political benefits to getting involved in the fate of
Terri Schiavo, a Florida woman whose end-of-life battle became a rallying cry for conservatives.


"'This is an important moral issue and the pro-life base will be excited that the Senate is debating this important issue,' said the memo. Its author resigned."

Say It Ain't So, Sacha

By Cassandra D

I'll admit it: I laughed until I cried when I watched Borat. As an Oklahoman, though, I feel sorry for Kazakhstan--the kinship of the unfairly maligned. And as an American, I'm just a little embarrassed that this movie is getting wide-spread international release.

It's hard not to feel sorry for the boobs in the picture. I hope that the antique store owner was paid well for his destroyed items, and I do feel a tiny bit sorry for the frat boys who claim to have been plied with liquor before giving their "consent" and revealing their racist ways. On the whole, though, I haven't felt that the movie's unwitting stars were owed much of anything from Mr. Cohen and his crew.

And then I read about the citizens of Glod, Romania, who were paid a pittance to be in a movie that they claim to have been told would be a documentary that would shed light on their plight.

"When Sacha Baron Cohen wanted a village to represent the impoverished Kazakh home of his character Borat, he found the perfect place in Glod: a remote mountain outpost with no sewerage or running water and where locals eke out meagre livings peddling scrap iron or working patches of land.

"But now the villagers of this tiny, close-knit community have angrily accused the comedian of exploiting them, after discovering his new blockbuster film portrays them as a backward group of rapists, abortionists and prostitutes, who happily engage in casual incest.

"They claim film-makers lied to them about the true nature of the project, which they believed would be a documentary about their hardship, rather than a comedy mocking their poverty and isolation.

"Villagers say they were paid just £3 each for this humiliation, for a film that took around £27million at the worldwide box office in its first week of release.

"Now they are planning to scrape together whatever modest sums they can muster to sue Baron Cohen and fellow film-makers, claiming they never gave their consent to be so cruelly misrepresented."


A proper Southern lady can surely take offense at being handed a bag of feces, but none of the pranks played on Americans seemed to me cruel. Not so this:

"Mr Tudorache, a deeply religious grandfather who lost his arm in an accident, was one of those who feels most humiliated. For one scene, a rubber sex toy in the shape of a fist was attached to the stump of his missing arm - but he had no idea what it was.

Only when The Mail on Sunday visited him did he find out. He said he was ashamed, confessing that he only agreed to be filmed because he hoped to top up his £70-a-month salary - although in the end he was paid just £3.


He invited us into his humble home and brought out the best food and drink his family had. Visibly disturbed, he said shakily: 'Someone from the council said these Americans need a man with no arm for some scenes. I said yes but I never imagined the whole country, or even the whole world, will see me in the cinemas ridiculed in this way. This is disgusting."

I think that 20th Century Fox and Cohen should use their mega-profits to give this town running water and an apology.

But part of me wonders if that desire for their better compensation is in itself a sign of my American paternalism, ridiculed so well by Borat. Is it actually more respectful to think that those poor folk are, in a weird way, equal to us? Just as worthy to be ridiculed?

I guess the difference is that the American dupes jumped into the tar and rolled around in the feathers, while Cohen himself applied them to the villagers of Glod.

Friday, November 10, 2006

The Math

By Daniel Gale-Grogan

"I'm looking at 68 polls a week, You may be looking at four or five public polls a week that talk about attitudes nationally, but that do not impact the outcome. I'm looking at all of these, Robert, and adding them up, and they add up to a Republican Senate and a Republican House. You may end up with a different math, but you're entitled to your math. I'm entitled to the math."
-- Karl Rove, speaking to NPR's Robert Siegel about the certainty of a Republican victory.










Click here.

Note To the RNC: Pick a Different Guy

By Cassandra D

So Ken Mehlman is stepping down and the RNC wants Maryland Lt. Governor, "'R' is the Scarlet Letter," Michael Steele to take over. If TPM Muckraker is correct and Mr. Steele is indeed responsible for abusing homeless people in his Senate campaign, the RNC should pick someone else. Surely there's a better way to end the perception of a culture of corruption.

That's something they should really think about, given this report:

"...when asked which issue was extremely important to their vote, more voters said corruption and ethics in government than any other issue, including the war, according to national exit polls."

Friday Random 10

Hey, kids, here's something to dig -- it's the iPod shuffle!

1. The Neville Brothers, "Voo Doo"
2. Little Milton, "Lonely No More"
3. Weezer, "Slave"
4. The Jam, "Strange Town"
5. The Fruit Bats, "This Little Acorn"
6. King Missile, "(Why Are We) Trapped?"
7. Elvis Costello, "Fish 'n' Chip Paper"
8. The Velvet Underground, "After Hours"
9. Bongwater, "The Power of Pussy"
10. Lone Justice, "After the Flood"

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Sex Tape Derby, Round 77

You are stuck in the Hatch with nothing to do except plug those damn numbers into the computer, and suddenly you see two videotapes with the Dharma logo on them, except they don't provide clues as to the devious plans of the Hanso Foundation or the Others -- they're sex tapes! Which do you watch?

"Lost" girls: Evangeline Lilly or...












Yunjin Kim?















"Heroes" heroes: Milo Ventimiglia or...















Adrian Pasdar?

Image of the Day

By Cassandra D



(Thanks, Firedoglake, for the link to the Snoopy dance!)

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Was It Just Me?

By Cassandra D

Did anyone else think that Bush was, um, you know, likeable in today's news conference? It seemed to me that the evil, propaganda-spewing robot had been replaced with that "uniter" we all thought we once knew. Even though I am wary, I must say that it feels nice to have the good clone back.

I did find sardonic humor in his assurances to the terrorists that the Democrats oppose them as much as do the Republicans, to the troops that the Democrats support them as much as do the Republicans, and to the Iraqi people that the Democrats are behind them as much as are the Republicans.

He would have done a great service to this country if he had acknowledged those things just a bit earlier. But better now than never.

Three Wishes

OK, let's recap.

The Democrats regain control of the House.

The Democrats might be taking control of the Senate.

Donald Rumsfeld steps down.











What wonderful miracle is next? An all-Nicole Kidman TV network? Money and cheeseburgers raining down from the heavens? Monkeys will wash my car?

Yea!

By Cassandra D

No time to blog...Gotta read the papers!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Prophets of Doom and Gloom

By Cassandra D

From the Rude Pundit:

"Shit, if Karl Rove's got any mojo left at all, the easiest thing would be not to hack a ton of machines to make the numbers go Busherific. No, no, the easy way would be to hack one machine, in, say, Virginia and make it jack up the Democratic votes as a way of discrediting and de-legitimizing the entire process around the country. Then, oh, how the cries will go out about black box voting and paper trails and, hey, Chief Justice Roberts, shouldn't we just shitcan the whole damn thing? There would be a manufactured uproar among conservatives not unlike the mad braying of charging hippos."

And if the Democrats do in fact win, Kathleen Reardon predicts a trap they must carefully avoid:

"When someone with an ounce of cleverness makes a terrible mess of things, they wisely welcome those with new power and invite their suggestions. These anxious-to-have a-say, often naïve, elated and optimistic, novice players usually fall into a trap. They provide options for recovery. The other side, knowing how deep a mess they're in, offers to implement these plans. The CATCH - they do so feebly and the result is failure. They get to say, 'That's what they wanted us to do and we did it. We cooperated and their plan failed.'

"I'm not suggesting that George Bush fix everything he has been unable to fix so far. I am, however, sharing a political quagmire potential for 2008 that the Democrats should carefully avoid. When you did not create a mess, you should do all you can to assure that those who did are visibly involved in the clean up -- reminding people of its creators. In fact, they, with the power and wisdom of their office, should be pushed to take the lead. Otherwise they'll surely trip you up all along the line. And guess who'll be pointing fingers and saying, 'We told you they couldn't do it'? It's a handy trap but one easily avoided with some foresight and savvy political thinking."

Republican Robocalling

By Cassandra D

In case you haven't heard about this campaign's big dirty trick from the Republicans, it is voter suppression via robocalling. Basically, they are calls that start off by saying, "I want to tell you something about ....(Democratic candidate)." This is followed by a big pause, during which most people hang up and are annoyed at the Democratic candidate, thinking the call originated there. The machine repeatedly calls back until the person listens to the whole thing, which turns out to attack the Democrat. Only at the end (contrary to federal law) is the originator of the call identified as the Republican Party. And the machines call during major sporting events, the dinner hour, etc. Josh Marshall has been all over it, but it hasn't made the mainstream news enough, I don't think, to counter the tactic.

Monday, November 06, 2006

"Freedom"

By Cassandra D

A little YouTube to get you in the mood for Election Day...



(via Andrew Sullivan)

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Sad Testimony

By Cassandra D

"There's a part of my life that is so repulsive and dark that I have been warring against it for all of my adult life."
-Rev. Ted Haggard in a letter to his congregation

You would think that this revelation about Mr. Haggard would make more people believe in the biological basis of homosexuality. Here is a man who wanted not to be gay with a passion that evolved into public, though veiled, condemnation of himself.

How terribly sad to be repulsed by who you are, to hate yourself. Surely at least some of his followers will know that if he could have changed his sexual orientation, he would have. And perhaps if they grow in that understanding, they will grow in their compassion and tolerance as well.

Priceless

By Cassandra D

I'm waiting (with breath unbated) for the New York Times-bashing crowd, so quick to cry "Treason!" at the publication of widely assumed tactics, to be as vocal in their outcry against President Bush, Congressional Republicans, and the right wing blogosphere for their rush to publish unexamined Iraqi documents that turned out to tell the terrorists how to build a nuclear bomb. In Arabic, no less. All so that the war's cheerleaders could try to prove that we were right to invade Iraq.

Sen. Rick Santorum took credit for putting the information out there, even as he acknowledged not knowing what was in the documents.

Where is the outrage from the right? And why isn't this all over the news? And where's the "thank you" to the New York Times, apparently responsible for getting the administration to pull down the website after warnings from U.S. scientists went unheeded?

"We'll fight them over there so that we can tell them how to fight us over here." Heckuva job, Mr. President!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Meatball Madness

By Cassandra D

Now this is true love and devotion:

"NEW YORK -- A detective suspended after testing positive for drugs says his wife served him meatballs spiked with marijuana because she wanted to keep him out of harm's way by forcing him to retire."

She substituted marijuana for the oregano. Mama mia, that's a spicy meatball!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Ending Oversight in Iraq (What Little There Was)

By Cassandra D

The New York Times today published a surprising article. Why surprising? Certainly not because it reports on Congress's squelching oversight in Iraq. The surprise is that we had any oversight there to begin with. Here's that little bit of good news; a watchdog has actually been doing his work for the American people:

"Investigations led by a Republican lawyer named Stuart W. Bowen Jr. in Iraq have sent American occupation officials to jail on bribery and conspiracy charges, exposed disastrously poor construction work by well-connected companies like Halliburton and Parsons, and discovered that the military did not properly track hundreds of thousands of weapons it shipped to Iraqi security forces."

If you are saying that this amazing bit of good government is too good to last, you are right. Here's the punch to the gut:

"And tucked away in a huge military authorization bill that President Bush signed two weeks ago is what some of Mr. Bowen’s supporters believe is his reward for repeatedly embarrassing the administration: a pink slip.

"The order comes in the form of an obscure provision that terminates his federal oversight agency, the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, on Oct. 1, 2007. The clause was inserted by the Republican side of the House Armed Services Committee over the objections of Democratic counterparts during a closed-door conference, and it has generated surprise and some outrage among lawmakers who say they had no idea it was in the final legislation."


Our government at work. I sure hope next Tuesday is the beginning of a change. How much more of this can our country take?

Friday Random 10

For the life of me, I don't ever remember downloading the Stills.

1. The Stills, "Helicopters"
2. Bloc Party, "Plans"
3. Green Day, "She"
4. Creedence Clearwater Revival, "Susie-Q"
5. Barbara George, "I Know You Don't Love Me No More"
6. The Shins, "Those to Come"
7. Johnny Cash, "Hey Porter"
8. Ben Folds, "Jesusland"
9. The Fabulous Thunderbirds, ""You Can't Judge a Book by Its Cover"
10. Cracker, "Don't Fuck Me Up (with Peace and Love)"

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Sex Tape Derby, Round 76

Sex Tape Derby is making a late-ish appearance this Thursday, but you can blame the good folks of Blogger for that. Anyway, better late than never, my grandpappy used to say.

Let's say you've gotta watch a homemade sex video, or DVD, if you will. Who would be your preference for the starring role? Post your selections in the comments section below.

Cate Blanchett or ...














Vera Farmiga?














Ryan Philippe or ...














Paul Walker?

Surly Go Bye-Bye

It is with a heavy heart that we at Cutting to the Chase bid goodbye to an erstwhile contributor, Surly. Apparently, booze, golf and misogyny leave a limited amount of time to blog.

Nevertheless, Surly, know that you are always welcome to knock around these parts and comment as you see fit.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Bush's Gift to the Democrats

By Cassandra D

John Kerry gives a gift to the Republicans, then Bush returns the favor to the Democrats with this:

"President Bush said Wednesday he wants Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Vice President Dick Cheney to remain in his administration until the end of his presidency, extending a job guarantee to two of the most-criticized members of his team.
...
"Bush said that 'both those men are doing fantastic jobs and I strongly support them.'"

Yep. Heckuvu job, Rummy!

Just Say No to Rush, Mr. President

By Cassandra D

From today's radio appearance by President Bush on Rush Limbaugh's show:

"RUSH: Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: Hey, Rush, how are you?


RUSH: Never better. It's a thrill to have you on the program today and many thanks for making time for us.


THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, sir, for giving me a chance to visit with you."


Our Commander-In-Chief is awfully darn chatty with the guy who has shown his true and hateful colors in his attack on Michael J. Fox.

Last week I was asking of Rush, "Have you no shame?" And now I want to ask Bush the same question. Why would he not shun that asshole? Why doesn't the mainstream media pounce all over him for going on the show of such a jerk?

We all know the answer. Bush's base loves that jerk. And Bush will pander to anyone to win an election.

So I guess what I really want to know is this: Does Bush at least know and believe that Rush is a jerk? Or does he agree with Rush's assessment of Michael J. Fox? Maybe someone from the media will ask him.

Bush, Media Abandon Soldier To Fight Kerry

By Cassandra D

The spinners and their dutiful scribes rant on about combat veteran Sen. Kerry's inadvertent comment about Iraq, while in the REAL WAR the Iraqi government has forced U.S. troops to abandon the search for our missing soldier.

And lest you think it is only "liberal" blogs like AMERICAblog that care, here's a similar entry from Andrew Sullivan on the subject. Great way to support the troops.

As Sullivan says, "And where, by the way, is McCain on this? Silent on Cheney's "no-brainer" on waterboarding. Silent recently on Iraq. But vocal - oh, how vocal - on Kerry. It tells you something about what has happened to him. And to America."