Sunday, March 29, 2009

This Could Be The Start of Something Big

By Broadway Carl

Since the stalking of Think Progress' Amanda Terkel by the Bill O'Reilly Goon Squad, the website has started a campaign to let advertisers who use his show to peddle their wears know of O'Reilly's stalking tactics that make paparazzi look like upstanding citizens. Today, UPS has responded by ceasing to advertise during The O'Reilly Factor.
Thank you for sending an e-mail expressing concern about UPS advertising during the Bill O’Reilly show on FOX News. We do consider such comments as we review ad placement decisions which involve a variety of news, entertainment and sports programming. At this time, we have no plans to continue advertising during this show.
To add your name to e-mails being sent to advertisers to voice opposition of O'Reilly's stalking methods instead of just having them appear on his show for an honest discourse, as honest as O'Reilly can be anyway, head to the website and sign the petition.

UPDATE: It looks like Chrysler may be following suit.

Another in an ongoing series... my periodic plea for comments

I ask this every so often and it usually garners no response, but I'd like to try again. If you're reading this, whoever you are, feel free to comment.

Thank you!!

God is hiding his face

I find it a lot harder to believe in God than it used to be, the older I get and the more I read about things like this:

Dad jailed for setting baby ablaze
By Herald wire services
Thursday, March 12, 2009

A Dorchester man was sentenced to 50 years in jail for dousing his 14-month-old daughter with gasoline and setting her ablaze, permanently disfiguring the girl’s head, face and arms, prosecutors said.

Dung Van Tran, 38, was also convicted of burning her 66-year-old babysitter, and for attacking a man who tried to extinguish his daughter’s upper body in January 2007.

and, today, this:

Brother kills two sisters in Milton, police save the third
By Associated Press Sunday, March 29, 2009

MILTON - A man on a rampage fatally stabbed his 17-year-old sister, decapitated his 5-year-old sister in front of a police officer and then headed toward his 9-year-old sister with a knife in his hand before officers shot him amid what their chief described as "a killing field."

There was no clear motive for the events that unfolded Saturday in a tony Boston suburb that also is home to Gov. Deval Patrick. But there was no doubt at the carnage wrought by 23-year-old Kerby Revelus against his three sisters in the two-family home they shared with their parents and grandmother.

Bianca was killed as a cake for her fifth birthday sat on the kitchen table.

May there be a heaven for those departed girls, and a hell for Kerby Revelus and Dung Van Tran. But I wonder, which I never used to do.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Required reading

Here are some lovely, heartfelt posts, from women I deeply admire as people, writers and mothers...

Girl's Gone Child: The Pre Half-Birthday World

I cleaned out her drawers today. Plucked dresses from their sleeves and onesies from their stains and formerly white socks I accidentally dyed purple. And she watched me from the bed, her feet in her hands, gurgling with her tide pool sounds.
Antique Mommy: And Then I Bought Myself a Rubber Snake

After our picnic, I took him to Target to let him pick out a toy for no particular reason other than he’s been a really good and helpful boy lately. We’ve done some stringent expense cutting at our house since before Christmas and he has not once complained.

When we arrived in the toy department, a bin of rubber snakes caught his eye. For twenty minutes or more, he went through the entire nest of snakes, examining each one like a jeweler with a loop, looking for the most perfect and flawless of rubber snakes.

Rainy Day in May: Happy Birthday, Baby...

Just know, angel, as your eyes read this letter in your journal one day--that I love you ALWAYS. NO MATTER WHAT. Nothing changes this, ever. If the girl you are today is any indication of the woman you'll be at the end of these next ten years than I guess I have little to worry about.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


Ten years ago if you had predicted that today we'd be using the Internet to track (to varyingly obsessive degrees) our friends' every movement and life development, people would have thought you were crazy, yet here we are. Thanks to Facebook and Twitter, we're now all privy to everyone's changes in fortune live as they happen. I'm still trying to adjust to it, to be honest. (Hey, give me a break -- I'm 40. It's hard for people my age to get used to anything new.)

Thus I have learned that several good friends, veteran news reporters and photographers I’ve worked or gone to school with, are enduring unpaid furloughs in order to keep their jobs. In one case, a friend is on furlough from a part-time news reporting job. Meanwhile my formerly hellish metro-Boston commute has suddenly gotten a lot…lighter. Way fewer cars on the road in the overall Route 128 area, the last few months. Just as many of the major corporate layoffs kicked in.

While I’m amazingly thankful that my job, which is dependent on government contracts, is safe so far, the last few months I’ve felt like a hamster running on a tiny wheel. I’m really tired but not quite getting anywhere. Such is the nature of this place, and obviously being gainfully employed in this atmosphere, I have no right to complain. But right now what I would love is a furlough to someplace where I could park my ass on a beach chair for a week or so and read “In-Style” magazine while sipping a brightly-colored drink with an umbrella in it.

Monday, March 23, 2009

President Obama on 60 Minutes

By Broadway Carl

Here's why I like my new President. He tells people the truth. He tells people what the need to hear although it may not necessarity be what they want to hear.

President Obama sat down with Steve Kroft for a 60 Minutes interview to take his message directly to the American people. Yes, it's edited by CBS, but an extended interview is better than a 30 second sound bite from the cable chatter news networks.

Here's a question: Do you think another President would be honest enough admit to a fear of further "systemic risks" when interviewer Steve Kroft asked? I don't. I'm also happy that he got a chance to reply to the criticism Dick Cheney has been spewing of late, and exactly the reasons Cheney and the Bush administration were wrong when it came to the detainees at Guantanamo.

Watch CBS Videos Online

Here is the more complete response (bold indicates comments left out of video above):
"I fundamentally disagree with Dick Cheney. Not surprisingly. You know, I think that Vice President Cheney has been at the head of a movement whose notion is somehow that we can't reconcile our core values, our Constitution, our belief that we don't torture, with our national security interests. I think he's drawing the wrong lesson from history," Obama said.

"The facts don't bear him out. I think he is, that attitude, that philosophy has done incredible damage to our image and position in the world. I mean, the fact of the matter is after all these years how many convictions actually came out of Guantanamo? How many terrorists have actually been brought to justice under the philosophy that is being promoted by Vice President Cheney? It hasn't made us safer. What it has been is a great advertisement for anti-American sentiment. Which means that there is constant effective recruitment of Arab fighters and Muslim fighters against U.S. interests all around the world," he added.

"Some of it being organized by a few people who were released from Guantanamo," Kroft pointed out.

"Well, there is no doubt that we have not done a particularly effective job in sorting through who are truly dangerous individuals that we've got to make sure are not a threat to us, who are folks that we just swept up. The whole premise of Guantanamo promoted by Vice President Cheney was that somehow the American system of justice was not up to the task of dealing with these terrorists. I fundamentally disagree with that. Now, do these folks deserve Miranda rights? Do they deserve to be treated like a shoplifter down the block? Of course not," Obama said.

Asked what should be done with these people, Obama said, "Well, I think we're gonna have to figure out a mechanism to make sure that they not released and do us harm. But do so in a way that is consistent with both our traditions, sense of due process, international law. But this is the legacy that's been left behind. And, you know, I'm surprised that the vice president is eager to defend a legacy that was unsustainable. Let's assume that we didn't change these practices. How long are we gonna go? Are we gonna just keep on going until you know, the entire Muslim world and Arab world despises us? Do we think that's really gonna make us safer? I don't know a lot of thoughtful thinkers, liberal or conservative, who think that that was the right approach."

Of course, the only thing taken out of this interview by the right wing crazies today is that President Obama laughed and smiled through a couple of questions that were no laughing matter. Steve Kroft set them up for it, and the wingnuts swallowed it, hook, line and sinker.
"You're sitting here. And you are laughing. You are laughing about some of these problems. Are people gonna look at this and say, 'I mean, he's sitting there just making jokes about money.' How do you deal with, I mean, explain the…mood and your laughter," Kroft asked. "Are you punch drunk?"

"No, no. There's gotta be a little gallows humor to get you through the day," Obama explained. "You know, sometimes my team talks about the fact that if you had said to us a year ago that the least of my problems would be Iraq, which is still a pretty serious problem, I don't think anybody would have believed it. But we've got a lot on our plate. And a lot of difficult decisions that we're gonna have to make."

Steve Benen notes that this should be put in perspective, and if you did watch the interview, this is exactly the perspective that I drew.
About half-way through, Kroft brings up aid to the auto industry, and public opposition to additional government investment. The two share a laugh at the one-sided polling numbers, which led to Kroft's question about "laughing." As Steve M. explained, "[I]t's obvious -- the chuckling is mutual as they agree about the extraordinary unpopularity of bailing out the auto industry."

When you see reports today about the president laughing at economic hardship, keep this in mind.

Cross-posted at Broadway Carl's Blog-O-Mania!

Things I'll never get tired of watching

NOTE: This was originally posted in April 2008. Now I have an update...

This weekend Mr. Fraulein and I were talking about movies and old TV shows that hold up well on repeated viewings. Some movies you see in the theater and think, well, that was OK but I don't need to ever see it again. Others, you know you just have to have for your own collection. There's something so comforting about relaxing in front of a movie or show you already know will make you howl with laughter, think about Important Issues, or both! So here is my list of movies and a TV episode I can happily watch a million times:

1. Office Space. Have you ever had a job that, as somebody in a Dilbert cartoon once said, made you "long for the sweet release of death"? The kind of job where, if you were offered the choice between working for those people again or being waterboarded by Dick Cheney, you'd take your chances with the waterboarding? If so, like me, you will never get tired of this movie.

2. Galaxy Quest. If there is anything funnier than Alan Rickman's pained facial expression pretty much every moment he's on screen, I'd like to see it. An absolute classic.

3. Monsters Inc. When Sully thinks he'll never see Boo again, it makes me cry every time. Cute, funny, and creative.

4. His Girl Friday. I first saw this movie in Journalism 101 my freshman year at Boston University, and thus a newspaper career was born. The scene where Hildy chases down her interview subject (across a couple of lanes of traffic) and then tackles him (while wearing 1940s-era heels) still gives me the chills. Just awesome.

5. Ferris Bueller's Day Off. If you were in high school in the 80s, you have to love this one. It perfectly captures the joy of skipping out of school.

6. Stranger than Fiction. Turns out Will Ferrell can act. I completely adore the idea behind the plot of this one: a guy hearing a disembodied voice narrating his every move. This movie is underappreciated and sheer genius.

7. Orlando. My favorite Virginia Woolf novel can't have been a picnic to adapt for the big screen. With this one they did what I assumed was impossible: bringing the humor and humanity of one of literature's most fascinating characters vividly to life on screen. Tilda Swinton comes close to my exact vision of this character, with the exception of her red hair (Orlando is very explicitly a brunette in the novel).

8. Ratatouille. We rented this for the Peanut without realizing it's really a Big People Movie, although little people can appreciate it too. Not just one of my favorite animated movies -- one of my favorite movies period. Hilarious and moving at the same time.

9. Cars. How do the animators get the cars to look like they have emotions? Just brilliant.

10. The Office, Season Two: the "Office Olympics"episode: Can't find a link to this particular one. It's the episode where Michael buys his condo and while he and Dwight are out at the closing, Jim and Pam organize the Dunder Mifflin Olympics, featuring such events as races around the building with full cups of coffee. Oh, and "Flonkerton." I have seen this over and over on DVD and it still makes me laugh almost to the point of losing bladder control. Rainn Wilson outdoes himself in this one, which is saying something since he's always hilarious.

11. (2009 update) Tropic Thunder, baby. All hail the mighty Downey, who can literally do no wrong: "I'm head-to-toe legitimate."

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Obama's Tonight Show Appearance

by Broadway Carl

I watched President Obama's Tonight Show appearance with Jay Leno last night and I think he did a pretty good job. Reaching out to a television audience that isn't fixated to 24 hour cable news chatter and most likely not addicted to MSNBC or CNN, President Obama did a great job explaining the AIG bailout mess in clear, succinct, layman's terms for everyone to understand.

His one gaffe came toward the end of the interview when Leno asked him about his bowling skills. As he said that he'd been practicing and he bowled a 129, Leno sarcastically congratulated the President and amid the laughter and applause, Obama responded, "It's like the Special Olympics or something."

I had watched Countdown with Keith Olbermann previously and Olbermann had mentioned this possibly cringe inducing gaffe, but when watching the Leno interview, I have to admit that had I not been listening for it, I probably would have missed it as it was said in the middle of laughter and applause. Let's get one thing straight: the audience did not laugh at Obama's "joke" as some news articles suggest. They were already laughing and applauding at Leno making fun of the President's latest bowling score when he blurted out the unfortunate line. Here is the video.

Now there is yet more outrage from the right wing "teabaggers" about this line. All I had to do was go to Fox News online to see it as the headline on the main page. But let's break it down.

There is no excuse for what President Obama said. It was a dumb thing to say, and the President should be held to a higher standard. But if we're honest with ourselves, I think almost everyone has used some form of wording to imply mental or physical handicap in such a way. "Retard" (pronounced ree-tard) has been used forever until it became politically incorrect, but I occasionally still hear some older people and comedians use it. I remember using it in the playground as a kid and all through high school. It was another version of "dumbass" as far as I was concerned until you peel away what it really implies. "Duh" evolved from the same place when you exaggerate its pronunciation. And EVERYONE uses "duh."

Ultimately, Obama's "Special Olympics" comment wasn't said in a malicious way and he was making fun of himself, so yes, the faux outrage is a bit much. I mean it wasn't as if he was flailing his arms about making fun of people afflicted with Parkinson's disease or anything.

Bill Burton: “The president made an off-hand remark making fun of his own bowling that was in no way intended to disparage the Special Olympics,” White House deputy press secretary Bill Burton said. “He thinks the Special Olympics is a wonderful program that gives an opportunity for people with disabilities from around the world.”
If we're honest with ourselves, in an unguarded moment, anyone could have said it.

Cross-posted at Broadway Carl's Blog-O-Mania!

UPDATE: President Obama apologized before anyone knew about it.

Even before the taped program aired, Obama had already issued an apology.

On Air Force One, Obama called the chairman of the Special Olympics, Tim Shriver, and apologized.

"He expressed his disappointment and he apologized in a way that I think was very moving. He expressed that he did not intend to humiliate this population," Shriver said Friday on ABC's "Good Morning America."

...The White House said Friday Obama realizes his quip was a "thoughtless joke."

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said the president believes that the Special Olympics are "a triumph of the human spirit."

Gibbs added that Obama "understands that they deserve a lot better than the thoughtless joke that he made last night."

Monday, March 16, 2009

Market Down? Blame Obama - Market Up? Credit Bush

by Broadway Carl

No... seriously.

Huff Po: Former White House spokesperson Dana Perino said on Sunday that the Bush administration, while presiding over the start of the current recession, nevertheless deserved some credit for the modest uptick that Wall Street experienced this past week.

Appearing on CSPAN's Washington Journal, the last of Bush's press secretaries said it was "not a secret" that the current economic mess started under her boss's watch. But, she cautioned, the public had yet to realize the full extent to which the past president's policies "alleviat[ed] the downturn."

..."You were just speaking earlier about the possibility that since we had a little bit of a better week on Wall Street does that spell a turnaround?" Perino said. "Can all the credit go specifically to President Obama? Well, I would say no. We will just have to take a while to let all of this settle down and let the policies that our administration and the new administration are trying to put in place have a chance to work."


...Cheney agrees that Obama did indeed came into power amid very difficult economic circumstances.

But Cheney says he doesn't think the Bush administration can be blamed for creating the economic woes. Cheney says it's a global financial problem.

So is it an "Obama recession" or not? They can't claim that Obama's policies are sinking the economy if the Bush policies haven't been realized to their full extent.

And the Bush Legacy Project continues...

Cross-posted at Broadway Carl's Blog-O-Mania!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Silence Was Deafening

MSNBC Barely Touches Stewart vs. Cramer

By Broadway Carl

Every time someone uses the phrase,"liberal media," I look for the nearest brick wall on which to pound my head against.

In anticipation for the Jon Stewart/Jim Cramer knock-down-drag-out, Cramer took to the airwaves of the morning shows in his defense to attempt to rehabilitate his image and rebut his main critic with a specific message: "A comedian’s attacking me. Wow. He runs a variety show." I remember him saying it at least twice. He appeared on the Today show, got Joe Scarborough to shill for him on Morning Joe, and even pounded dough with Martha Stewart.

After the bloodletting, Joe Scarborough was touting an exclusive interview with Cramer on Morning Joke™ using Twitter.

I even got up at an ungodly hour to watch. No Cramer. Then this.

So much for Jim Cramer taking it like a man. Did he no-show or was he cancelled? Maybe the latter.

..."MSNBC producers were asked not to incorporate the Jim Cramer/Jon Stewart interview into their shows today." In fact, the only time it came up on MSNBC was during the White House briefing, when a member of the press corps asked Press Secretary Robert Gibbs if Pres. Obama watched. Gibbs wasn't sure if the president had, but Gibbs did. "I enjoyed it thoroughly," the Press Secretary said.

Keith... Keith... Why have you forsaken us?

The biggest disappointment in all of this is that the "liberal media" (namely MSNBC according to its detractors) took its marching orders with the culmination of Keith Olbermann completely ignoring what was probably one of the best journalism pieces this short year. Not. A. Word. And the silence was deafening.

Now we all know what side KO's bread is buttered on, but I think this qualified as a pretty big news story and if Olbermann doesn't think he can mention it because of a conflict of interest with separate NBC network entities, then he actually did no better than Jim Cramer.

Luckily, there is still one person on the MSNBC line up that kept her integrity.

Yes, Rachel Maddow framed the feature of this "Dust Up!" story in regards to what millions were interested in, in comparison to other newsworthy stories... but she mentioned it. She didn't ignore it like the rest of the day of MSNBC programming, from Morning Joke™ to hours of inane coverage of that missing Halleigh girl to even more news of Anna Nicole Smith two years after her death. That's what they talked about. But something that happened to one of their own in the NBC family? Mum's the word.

Chris Matthews, who got his own drubbing in my opinion with the Ari Fleischer crapfest, ignored it. David Shuster? Did he mention it? Apparently not, since it seems to be the talk of the intertubes that except for Maddow, the Cramer story was ignored (please correct me if I'm wrong).

Let's not forget that this isn't some little side story about television personality rumbles. This was the true outing of the lack of financial oversight and regulations that have put our government in an economic crisis that we all fear, an admission from a former hedge fund manager as to how the inside game is played because the SEC doesn't understand it, as well as a complete deficiency of investigative journalism on the part of the financial "reporters" on financial news networks like CNBC and Fox Business Channel. If they have doubts about a certain company, do they seriously expect a CEO of said company to come on their show for an interview and be honest?

As for Jim Cramer, he was the only other NBC regular that actually mentioned "what happened yesterday" on his Friday broadcast, proving to all that it was going to be "business as usual" on his show, bell, whistles, red buttoned sound effects, plastic sledgehammers and all. So much for the promise of change, Mr. Cramer. So much for the promise of change.

Excuse me while I go find a brick wall.

Cross-posted at Broadway Carl's Blog-O-Mania!

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Pictures of Bevin: remembering my friend

Originally posted March 8, 2005. Yesterday marked five years since Bevin left us.

Your image is everywhere in the photographic history of my life. There we are together in 1990 in Paris and in Ireland. There is your smile, beaming out at me across the years. There you are, happy, celebrating, on all those Christmases, Thanksgivings and Fourths of July our families spent together. And, heartbreakingly, there you are in my wedding album, in the background of the picture of my first dance with Mr. Fraulein. It’s been a year since you left us, and the hole in my heart is still there. I think it may be permanent. You never got to meet Little Peanut. I don’t even think you knew I was pregnant when you died.

It’s never going to go away, this feeling of wrongness. Something cracked in the universe when you left, and it’s never going to be put right. How I wanted to dance at your wedding. How I wanted to get to know your children. How very much I wanted you to be a part of my daughter’s life.

But now you’re elsewhere. I still think about you all the time. I just want to sit down and have a beer with you again. Someday, in another place, we will meet again and have that drink – I know that we will. In the meantime, I try to take some comfort in knowing that you are out there somewhere, a guardian angel for your niece and nephew, and hopefully for Little Peanut as well.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

The Sky Is Falling! Blame Obama

Guest posted by Broadway Carl

The Dow Jones average fell below 7000 for the first time since 1997. And it's Obama's fault. At least that's what the corporatists and right wing would like you to believe. The fast and furious mudslinging doesn't stop, nor will it ever in my opinion. Anything bad that happens? It Obama's fault.

Nevermind the fact that it's taken years to reach the financial tsunami, this perfect storm of a crisis. It's Obama's fault. Even the Rupert Murdoch owned Wall Street Journal, a financial paper that used to have some credibility has jumped on the "Blame Obama" bandwagon.
As 2009 opened, three weeks before Barack Obama took office, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 9034 on January 2, its highest level since the autumn panic. Yesterday the Dow fell another 4.24% to 6763, for an overall decline of 25% in two months and to its lowest level since 1997. The dismaying message here is that President Obama's policies have become part of the economy's problem.
January 2nd? But President Obama didn't take office until January 20th, when the Dow closed at 7949. Kinda blows a whole in the numbers, doesn't it? So not only is it bad enough for the WSJ editors to fudge numbers to make it look worse since Obama took office, they are now saying he's had enough time to fix the economy. Why can't Obama close the deal?
But after five weeks in office, it’s become clear that Mr. Obama’s policies are slowing, if not stopping, what would otherwise be the normal process of economic recovery. From punishing business to squandering scarce national public resources, Team Obama is creating more uncertainty and less confidence — and thus a longer period of recession or subpar growth.
Yes, because after eight years of deregulation, ponzi schemes, major tax cuts for the wealthy causing a continuing disparity between the upper crust and the middle class, and during war time no less, it only takes five weeks to clean up the mess, doesn't it...

You'd think some serious ideas to help solve the problem instead of being the Party of No would behoove these people, but why should I continue to be surprised?

Cross-posted at Broadway Carl's Blog-O-Mania!

I'm not that old...

The Peanut has been very into dinosaurs lately. We've gotten a bunch of books about dinosaurs from the library, and she is very interested in learning about how big they were and what they looked like and what they ate. She still can't quite wrap her mind around the idea that they lived millions of years ago, though. To a 4-year-old, "a long time ago" is relative.

Thus yesterday's Question of the Day: "Mommy, were the dinosaurs still around when you were a kid?"

Though I have learned from Facebook that I looked vastly younger in 1993, fortunately I am not THAT old.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Sorry for light posting

Work combined with an unexpected snow day are kicking my ass right now. So for the few who are reading this, sorry for light posting at the moment. Hopefully regularly scheduled political rants/observations on the Peanut will resume shortly. Fortunately for me I have the talented Broadway Carl to pick up my slack! If you haven't yet checked out his blog, where I also contribute occasionally, please do so.