Thursday, September 25, 2008

Funnier Than A Saturday Night Parody

Here's Governor Barracuda valiantly struggling to explain to Katie Couric how Alaska being sandwiched between Russia and Canada gives her foreign policy experience. This is unreal! Now that Congress has agreed on a bail-out plan (and did so before McCain got there to "help,") what excuse is he going to use to try to keep Governor Barracuda from debating next week. I guarantee you that he will come up with something. She makes Bush sound glib.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Is the McCain Campaign Imploding?

Has John McCain completely lost it? After a day in which it is revealed that at the same time the McCain campaign was running false advertisements claiming that one of Obama's advisors was Howell Raines, the former head of the Fannie Mae loan agency, the director of McCain's campaign, Rick Davis, was getting $15,000 a month from Fannie Mae through his lobbying company; that Obama was taking a 9-point lead in the latest Washington Post-ABC poll and a 6-point lead in a Fox News (yes, Fox!) poll; McCain announces that the banking crisis is so bad, he is suspending campaigning, and he won't be at the debate scheduled for Friday. What kind of presidential leadership is that? So, a president can only do one thing? If a hurricane hits at the same time terrorists strike, he will tell the country, "I'm busy working on the hurricane right now, I can't deal with the terrorists?" David Letterman on whose program McCain was supposed to have been on tonight is just brutal. (It's long, but worth it.)

Later Update: Ah, there's a method to McCain's madness. According to CNN, the McCain camp is proposing moving this Friday's debate to next week when the vice presidential candidates were supposed to debate and postponing that debate to some other time -- like after the election? Palin has been avoiding the press like the plague, and everytime she does open her mouth, it is clear she is not ready for prime time. The McCain camp is doing everything it can to keep her under wraps. My theory is that this whole deal about suspending the campaign and the debates is an elaborate ruse to get her of our debate with Biden.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

George Will Nails It

I'm not a big fan of George Will. In fact, a few years ago when I found myself seated next to his table at a local restaurant, it was all I could do to restrain myself from leaning over and spitting in his soup. But his exasperation with John McCain's temperamental approach to governing has finally reached the boiling point, and he said this:
"It is arguable that, because of his inexperience, Obama is not ready for the presidency. It is arguable that McCain, because of his boiling moralism and bottomless reservoir of certitudes, is not suited to the presidency. Unreadiness can be corrected, although perhaps at great cost, by experience. Can a dismaying temperament be fixed?"

You can read the whole article here.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Saturday Night Live's Parody of Palin and Clinton

I didn't stay up last night to watch Saturday Night Live. But the opening with Tina Fey playing Governor Barracuda and Amy Poehler doing Hilary Clinton is available. It's pretty funny. Watch below.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Movie Report: Don't Burn This Movie

If you like Coen Brothers movies, you will love their latest film, Burn After Reading.

It has an understated dry humor reminiscent of Fargo. Frances McDormand, who played the odd sheriff, Madge, in Fargo is back as Linda Litzke, a slightly crazed gym employee who is intent on raising the money for a body remake. I love McDormand, and in this case she steals the movie from the bigger names, George Clooney, Brad Pitt and John Malkovich.

Malkovich plays a fired CIA agent trying to write his memoirs whose CIA secrets fall into the hands of the desperate McDormand and Pitt, a vapid co-worker at the gym. Pitt's performance as the empty-headed gum-chewing trainer is one of the best performances of his career. Clooney plays a U.S. treasury agent who carries a big gun and seduces all the women.

Like the other Coen movies, Burn After Reading is not slapstick humor, and few of the scenes had me laughing out loud (although a few did.) Rather, it is a sly humor based on odd characters and unexpected turns of events. It is a thinking person's humor. Like the other Coen movies, there are some scenes involving some blood, although none as bad as the end of Fargo, where a character gets put through a wood chipper.

I gave this movie my highest rating, five stars. From the reports I'm reading, it has opened strong at the box office its first weekend, edging out the new Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino movie, Righteous Kill which I saw tonight and also really liked. But that report will have to come later.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Ask John McCain: Is Governor Barracuda Qualified?

When John McCain was in the Republican primary, he said Rudy Giuliani's eight years as mayor of New York City was not enough experience to be president. And, the four years that Mitt Romney was governor of Massachusetts was not enough experience. Sarah Barracuda has less experience than Giuliani and Romney had at their jobs. She was mayor of Wasilla, Alaska (it's laughable to even compare that with being mayor of NYC) for six years, two less than Giuliani, and has been governor of Alaska for less than two years, two less than Romney. But don't believe me, watch what McCain said from his own mouth.

The main point though isn't so much whether Palin is qualified or not qualified as it is the willingness of John McCain to say whatever it takes to get votes, even if what he says directly contradicts what he has said before, and his impulsiveness in selecting a running mate without adequate vetting. Truth doesn't matter to the McCain campaign. They have adopted Karl Rove tactics, whole hog (and you can't put lipstick on that pig.)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

For Anyone For Whom Facts Matter; Watch the Vido

Truth Report: The Facts Don't Matter Anymore

It has been surprising to me that the McCain campaign keeps repeating lies it knows are untrue, like Governor Barracuda's opposition to the Bridge to Nowhere; selling the state plane on e-Bay for a profit, and on and on. Today's Washington Post has an article that clears up the mystery.
"John Feehery, a Republican strategist, said the campaign is entering a stage in which skirmishes over the facts are less important than the dominant themes that are forming voters' opinions of the candidates.

"The more the New York Times and The Washington Post go after Sarah Palin, the better off she is, because there's a bigger truth out there and the bigger truths are she's new, she's popular in Alaska and she is an insurgent," Feehery said. "As long as those are out there, these little facts don't really matter."

So it has really come to this. Just lie through your teeth. All that matters is that Governor Barracuda is new, is popular and is an insurgent. Unbelievable!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Barracuda Report: Palin Charges State To Stay In Her Own Home

Slowly, slowly, the truth is coming out. Governor Barracuda, who contrary to the McCain campaign's claims did not sell the Alaska state airplane on e-bay for a profit and did not oppose the Bridge to No-Where, has been charging Alaska taxpayers a per diem to stay in her own home. The Washington Post is reporting today that she has been paid almost $17,000 for staying in her own home 312 nights during her first 19 months in office. Per diems, as anyone knows who has to travel on business, are intended to reimburse employees who travel on business for meals and incidental expenses like taxi fares, without making them turn in receipts for every little thing. Do you get away with charging your employer a per diem when you stay at home? I doubt it. How does Sarah Barracuda get away with it? Well, the official governor's mansion is in Juneau. Governor Barracuda, like our own Governor Blowhardovich, prefers to live in her own home in Wasilla and work out of a state office building 45 miles away in Anchorage. As bad as Blowhardovich is, even he would not dare bill taxpayers for staying in his own house in Chicago.

Slowly, slowly, the Palin balloon will deflate as the vetting McCain did not do before his impulsive selection gets done by the press. Don't panic Obama supporters.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Theater Report: Another Roberts Hit

Our local community theater, The Station Theater, might well be aptly renamed the Mark Roberts Theater. Once again it is selling out as it is presenting the fifth Roberts play of the last two years, and the second one of this season.

Like Roberts' previous plays at the Station, Couples Counseling Killed Katie, is raw, made bearable only by non-stop humor, as exemplified in the Director's Note: "To open yourself up to someone completely is really scary. Not as scary as having your balls cut off and taken on a high speed chase."

"Opening yourself up" is the theme of all of the Roberts genre and what you see is not always a pretty sight. But Roberts never goes for maudlin, and just when you think you can't take any more emotion, he hits you with a joke.

The couples in the play, eight of them, are all seeing the same psychoanalyst, an unseen and unheard presence, to whom they spill their guts. While the last Roberts play, Where the Great Ones Run, was set in a diner with unbelievably realistic detail, this one consists of nothing but a couch, on stage, facing the audience. There is very little physical movement, mainly the actors sit on the couch talking with the audience playing the part of the therapist. (Is it too obvious to observe that is probably literally what is going on; the audience is Roberts's therapist in his plays?)

The play is done in one act, only about an hour long, with only two actors depicting eight couples, going off stage only briefly between scenes to change costumes and characters. Mike Trippiedi has acted in more than 50 productions at the Station over the last 30 years. Lindsay Markel is a relative newcomer. Both of them perform brilliantly, convincingly portraying not only different types of people, but different species.

This play is not for the faint hearted. The language goes beyond blue. Unlike three of the Roberts plays that have been done here recently, this one does not have a local connection. It was written by Roberts in 2000, presumably in Los Angeles, where it played for eight months, became a cult hit and was optioned as a television show. In a report in May, 2007 on an earlier Roberts play, Parasite Drag, I compared Roberts to Tennessee Williams. This play does nothing to make me have second thoughts about that comparison. It gets at least five stars.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Mongering Some Gossip

The real reason I bought the National Enquirer at the supermarket yesterday was to read the article "40 Way to Be Richer Next Year." I don't think I had ever bought a supermarket tabloid before, although I might have bought the issue in which I appeared 10 years or so ago. I am against gossip mongering since the Bible says gossip mongerers will spend eternity in hell, along with people who call their brothers fools. I don't want to stretch the count to two strikes, so I stay away from gossip mongering.

But when I discovered that the first tip on "40 Ways You Can Be Richer Next Year" is "Make sure the coils on your refrigerator are clean and dust-free" and the second tip is to "Skip Blockbuster or Netflix for your home movie entertainment," I was about to throw the magazine away, when it sort of happened to fall open on the article, "Sarah Palin's Dark Secrets: Affair That Nearly Ruined Her Career; How She Tried to Cover up Teen Daughter's Pregnancy; Family War That Exposed Her Lies." I am pretty sure that if I had bothered to read the other 38 ways you can be richer next year, one of them would have been, "Don't Throw Away, Without Reading, Trashy Tabloid That You Have Already Paid For," so I went ahead and skimmed the article.

So, here's what it said about the affair. In toto. "Another incredible allegation emerging from the family war is that Palin, a mother of five, had an affair with a former business associate of her fisherman husband, Todd. Todd discovered the affair and quickly dissolved his friendship and his business associations with the guy," charges an enemy. "Many people in Alaska are talking about the rumor and say "Todd swept it under the rug."

What?? That's it? I can find out more by reading The Smoking Gun, which has copies of a motion by a former Palin business associate, Scott Richter, to seal his divorce files. (Not that his divorce files contain any salacious details, he just wants the files closed so reporters won't have access to his telephone number and keep calling him.)

You probably already know about another Palin lie; that she sold the Alaska government jet on e-Bay, further embellished by John McCain that she made a profit on the sale. She didn't. As the Chicago Tribune and many other news outlets have reported, she listed it; got one bid and finally sold it through a broker (who happens to be a donor to her campaign) at a loss.

Oh well. If anyone has even one idea on how to be richer next year, let me know, I need all the help I can get. I've been investing in the Bush stock market the last eight years. But please don't tell me that if we get four more years of Republican economics, I would be better off burying my money in a coffee can in the back yard. I already know that.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Sarah Barracuda Strikes Back

One of the few things Alaska Governor Sarah Palin has said about herself that is actually true is that she was known as Sarah Barracuda in high school. After last night's speech at the Republican national convention we know why. She sure wasn't Miss Congeniality (whether she was Miss Congeniality in the Wasilla, Alaska queen contest is open to some question. Her Wikkipedia entry used to say she was. Then the St. Louis Post-Dispatch carried an article that a St. Louis woman, Amy Gwin, is saying that was false; Ms. Gwin was Miss Congeniality. Now, the Post-Dispatch article has been scrubbed of the paragraph about the Miss Congeniality dispute. So who knows. Maybe the Post-Dispatch got threatened with a lawsuit. More about Palin lawsuits below.)

What the speech last night told us is that Sarah Barracuda can read really well. The speech was actually written by the McCain campaign when the speech writers still thought the vice presidential candidate was going to be a man and was tweaked of course with some personal references. I thought her joke about the difference between a hockey mom and a pitbull being lipstick was probably something she inserted herself, maybe even ad libbed; it had that feeling of authenticity.

As regular readers know I have been underwhelmed by the choice of Joe Biden as Obama's running mate, and another thing last night's speech shows us is that she will eat Biden alive in the vice presidential debate coming up in October unless he has a major personality transplant. He is, as Karl Rove said, "a big blowhard doofus." When Biden tries to overwhelm the Barracuda with all of his "foreign policy experience," she will just wrinkle her pretty little nose, grin and say that she has lived "right next to Russia" all her life, and he won't know what to say. That is, if she lasts on the ticket long enough to debate Biden.

Gov. Barracuda has more skeletons in her closet than a Halloween costume shop. She is still making false statements, like the one again last night about opposing the Bridge to Nowhere, which is astonishing since it is well documented that she was all for it until Congress cut off the funds. Although McCain decided to go with his gut rather than bother to thoroughly vet her, the truth will out. We already know she lied about not pressuring the state police to fire her ex-brother-in-law (maybe the ex-brother-in-law, should have been fired, but that's not the point; the point is that Gov. Barracuda said she did not put pressure on the State Police and she did.) The Washington Post has now gotten hold of some of her emails. Now that the heat is on, she is refusing to be deposed under oath about what happened, after having once promised to cooperate with the investigation (which is by a Republican legislature, by the way.) The McCain campaign got the governor lawyered up, remembering what happened to Bill Clinton when he gave a deposition under oath.

Even more intriguingly, word is out that the McCain campaign is threatening the
National Enquirer with a lawsuit for printing that Gov. Barracuda had an affair with her husband's business partner. We all know you cannot believe a word the National Enquirer writes, just ask John Edwards.

Given the incredulity of the folks in Alaska to the Barracuda's sudden elevation to the national spotlight, I doubt we have heard the last of the revelations about her. I can hardly wait.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

JACK Report: A Recording Session

This has not turned into a political blog, although there is plenty more I could post about McCain's impulsive pick of the Ex-Beauty Queen as his vice presidential running mate. That will come later, but first some more important stuff.

As some of you know, Google helps me keep track of Son Number Two who is reticent about what he is doing. So, I have Google searches working 24/7 to find out anything they can find out about the JACK Quartet and Son Number Two, and to email me any alerts. Several days ago, I started getting alerts about entries in Kevin Keller's Journal about practices he was doing with JACK for an upcoming CD recording project. Keller is an established composer and recording artist with several CDs to his credit already. Anyway, he has posted a YouTube video of parts of the recording session with JACK on Sunday of his new piece called Riding the Purple Twilight.and here it is.

Son Number Two and The Girlfriend spent five days with us last week and did a house concert at the home of The Humble Philosopher. Here is a picture from the house concert. We had just under 40 people there. The music was accessible and the tips were generous, so I would say it was a successful concert. And while I'm posting pictures that will get me into trouble, here is one of the cute couple in our back yard.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Not A Good Day For The Ex Beauty Queen

My blogging friend, Patry Francis (if you've never visited her site, by all means follow the link and do so; she has some of the best writing on the internet, and also, buy her book) worries in a comment to my August 30 blog entry that McCain seems to have gotten a bounce in the polls with his pick of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his vice presidential nominee. In a response to her comment, I predicted that the bounce will soon disappear when the facts about Palin start coming out.

Seldom do my predictions come true so quickly, but as Josh Marshall points out, today was a very bad day for Sarah Palin. First, in order to knock down rumors that her four-month old baby is really her daughter, Bristol's baby, she had to announce that the 17-year-old Bristol is pregnant with her own baby. Obviously, Bristol's decision to have unprotected premarital sex has nothing to do with Governor's Palin's qualifications to be vice president, but it does reinforce the point that maybe Governor Palin's family needs her more right now than the country needs her. With her husband working on the North Slope of Alaska as an oil production worker, who exactly is looking after the family, not only the 17-year-old and five-year-old daughters, but the baby with Downs Syndrome?

Then, the main stream media is finally getting on the story that Governor Palin flatly lied at the speech in Ohio after she was introduced by McCain in claiming she had opposed the famous Bridge to Nowhere in Alaska.

And, it turns out that her claim to have fought corruption in Alaska by taking on politicians like the recently indicted Senator Ted Stephens is another lie. Far from opposing Senator Stephens, she was a director of his fund raising group.

There's more. She was a member of the Alaska Independent Party, a far right political group in Alaska (the John Birch Society is too liberal for its tastes)that wants Alaska to secede from the United States (treason anyone?) Here's a video of their recent convention in which the party's president says she was a member of the party and they were hoping she would be elected as governor.

And here's a video of Governor Palin welcoming people to the Alaska Independent Party's convention in June, 2008.

And then there's the simmering scandal of Governor Palin lying about not having placed pressure on the head of the Alaska State Police to fire her ex-brother-in-law. The main stream media still hasn't gotten on that one, but it is going to come out because there is an on-going investigation about which there is supposed to be a report in October.

All of the fun stuff about Governor Palin only highlights the fact that Senator McCain apparently picked her impulsively, without doing any extensive vetting. Only now are the Republicans sending a team of lawyers to Alaska to check her out.

Finally, the latest polls show Obama up by eight points, according to CBS and seven points according to USA/Today. I'm still not as sanguine as Debra Hope, but I'm optimistic that Obama is going to win and that Palin is going to be a drag on McCain.