Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A tale of three little girls

We always tell the Peanut she has beautiful, chocolate-colored eyes (because this is their exact color -- just like the very darkest chocolate). Yesterday morning as I stood in the bathroom brushing my teeth, she stood beside me, looking in the mirror.

"I love my chocolate eyes. They're awesome!" she said. She was so clearly excited about her own beauty, which makes me very happy, to say the least.

I thought of this later in the day when I overheard the following exchange between a man and a woman:

Woman: Oh, I see your friend dropped off those pictures of your daughters from last Halloween.

Man: Yeah. They're ugly, ugly children, aren't they?

It was his idea of a joke. There are some things in life I will never understand, and this is one of them.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Psyched for "The Soloist"

As I've mentioned before, I only get excited about new movies a couple of times a year, since Hollywood seems to pump out so much crap. But I can't wait to see "The Soloist," partly because Robert Downey, Jr. is in it, and as far as I'm concerned he's achieved "I'd buy a movie ticket to watch him read the phone book" status. But I'm also intrigued by the story of a journalist writing about a homeless schizophrenic person, because when I was a newspaper reporter, I once got a very similar story.
It was the mid-1990s and I was covering Morristown, N.J., for a mid-sized daily newspaper. The beat reporter's job involves a lot of walking around--going from the firehouses to the mayor's office to the police stations to local stores and restaurants, trying to ferret out interesting nuggets of information. On my jaunts through Morristown, I used to see the same woman over and over again. You couldn't help but notice her, as all of her visible skin--her face, neck, arms and hands--was covered in what looked like either dark theatrical makeup or shoe polish. Her close-cropped hair was usually covered in the same substance.
At first it wasn't clear what she was up to, as she appeared to be white. Was this performance art, some misguided attempt to shock and alarm by parading the town in blackface? I started asking questions. People shrugged their shoulders. "That's Marianne," they'd say. "This is just what she does." And then: "She lives in the park, you know." And not only that, but: "Look at her close up and you'll see how pretty she is. She used to be a model."
Marianne was schizophrenic, according to her family. The local cops kept an eye on her; restaurant owners sometimes gave her food. Occasionally she would walk, straight as an arrow, down the yellow lines in the middle of the traffic. Her relatives would bring her warm clothes. But she was suspicious of the homeless shelters. When I attempted to interview her, it didn't go too well. Her answers didn't make a lot of sense. Except for when she said: "Why do you want to write about me? There's nothing special about me."
Over the years I've often wondered whatever happened to her. This movie should be an interesting look at a journalist interacting with a person like Marianne; I hope it does the ailing newspaper business justice.
And on a related note: Why does every journalist ever portrayed in the movies have to look like such a schlub?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

DHS Report Nothing New

by Broadway Carl

Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean no one's out to get you. But in this case being a paranoid conservative means you should think everyone is out to get you. Even when no one is.

And thus the noise from conservatives is painfully loud at the Department of Homeland Security report entitled, "Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment" because for conservatives, it's all about them.

This has become instant fodder for Republicans and conservatives as an attack on them. Michelle Malkin calls it an "Obama DHS hit job" even though it was the Bush administration that ordered the report before leaving office. Nevermind that there isn't one mention of "conservatives" or "Republicans" in the report. Nevermind that there was a DHS report on "Leftwing Extremists" released in January. This is just another excuse to cry foul.

There are mentions of "rightwing extremists, including militias and white supremacists" but for the life of me, I don't have the first clue as to why conservatives and Republicans would define themselves as "rightwingers" and take offense. Do they not believe that there are neo-Nazi hate groups or white supremacy groups like the KKK in existence? Why would they be so quick to assume that rightwing extremists = conservative?

Amazingly, Shepard Smith of Fox News blew their conspiracy theories out of the water. the end of last year, prior to the inauguration, the Department of Homeland Security under the Bush administration was sounding the alarm about the potential for right-wing groups to act, specifically because of the economy, and also because America was going to have its first African-American president.

...we were able to obtain [a leftwing extremist] bulletin as well. It came out in January, and... didn't get the same attention. It looked specifically at groups like the Earth Liberation Front, or ELF, groups that in the opinion of Homeland Security, in the future will try and attack economic targets and specifically use cyber-attacks, because they see that is sympatico, or in concert with some of their other beliefs.

So there are two assessments. The one on the left, the one on the right is the one that's getting the attention because of the leak.

... I would point out that both of these assessments, Shep, were commissioned under the Bush administration. It takes some time to do them. They only came out after he left office.

An Ass Kicking of Epic Proportions

by Broadway Carl

Rachel Maddow usually gets her shit straight. And it seems that if you try to correct her to save face, she'll gladly check to see if she was mistaken. If she sees she wasn't mistaken, then you are in deep shit as Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) found out last night. It's sort of like poking a hornet's nest or a crime suspect making a cop run after them. Burr got his ass kicked but good. The fun starts at 1:20.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

President Obama Passed The Test, Douchebags

by Broadway Carl

Oh, that sorry, sorry GOP. Taking a tragic circumstance like the kidnapping of a cargo ship captain by pirates and turning it into a political strategy to discredit the Obama administration and his decision making is now the new low point for this excuse for a political party.

And all the questioning was rather ridiculous. Glenn Beck (what a surprise) was his usual smirky, sarcastic self while, as Bob Cesca notes, criticizing the Navy... you know, not supporting the troops.

Newt Gingrich who, unless I am mistaken, is not currently involved in any official capacity as an elected politician and therefore not privy to intelligence (of any kind), assumes that President Obama is frozen, the administration is in a panic, and not doing anything in the hopes that someone else will take care of the situation so they won't have to make hard decisions.

Talking heads on Fox News wonder why Obama, "the most powerful man in the world" isn't publicly commenting on the situation in real time. Maybe because he's actually doing something in the back rooms instead of added face time on TV pretending to do something.

"The US does not negotiate with terrorists. Are pirates somehow different?" ...Uh, yeah. They're not terrorists. They're pirates. Terrorists have political objectives. Pirates, or at least these Somali pirates have never, to my knowledge, demanded anything but ransom.

The most dismal and disgusting part of all these sad sacks questioning and doubting is that it seems they have no regard for the safety of the hostage. It seems that since we didn't blow the lifeboat out of the water within the first couple of hours, that translated as President Obama trying not to make a hard decision. Captain Phillips? Eh, collateral damage. Why isn't this over yet?

Well, I would say that if this was a "test" for President Obama, he passed - and that's got to stick in the craw of the Newt Gingriches and the Glenn Becks of the world. To his credit, Rush Limbaugh has praised the President for the rescue effort. Yes, he patted himself on the back in the process, but he congratulated the President nonetheless. I'm awaiting Beck's and Gingrich's praise with bated breath.

ADDING... Hannity fail! I'm expecting a lot more of this.


If anyone is still reading this, just wanted to say thanks for continuing to check in. Work and life craziness have made it all but impossible for me to keep up with this blog lately, which is a shame because as always, I feel like I have so much that I want to say about motherhood and work and friendship and politics. I think for the time being when I can manage to post on political issues, I'm going to do it over at my buddy Broadway Carl's place, as he has so kindly invited me to do, since the discussion is always a lively one there. Of course you'll still see Carl's contributions here too.
With any luck I will be able to get back to regularly scheduled posting soon.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Newt's Friggin' Lasers

by Broadway Carl

Can you throw Newt a friggin' bone here?

Newt Gingrich has stated that if it were up to him, he would have done everything possible to prevent North Korea's rocket launch failure this past week. Even by using friggin' lasers. Well, thank Jebus it wasn't up to him. A war on three fronts? Good thinking, Newt.

Now some are trying to say that Newt's reference to "lasers" was to laser-guided missiles. To which I call bullshit. If you watch the original video in the VanSusteren interview, Gingrich first talks about an "electromagnetic pulse attack." Not the possibility of it mind you, just the scenario of it set in book that a friend of his wrote. Seriously. A book plug. He's not mentioning some scientific study on the effects of EMP which have been around since the 1960s by the way, he's mentioning what I assume to be a Doomsday book about what would happen to us in such a case.

At the end of the interview Gingrich does say that he would use any means necessary to stop the launch test, "either a small team go in, or a way to deliver either a laser or another kind of device..." If he's talking about laser-guided missiles, why didn't he just say so?

Either Gingrich isn't using his words carefully enough or he knows exactly what kind of audience he's speaking to. When talking about "lasers," not missiles, it's a lot easier to get your idea to stick if you're not talking about shooting missiles pre-emptively into another country. That sounds bad. But lasers? Friggin' awesome!

Finally, it's odd to me that this would be a feasible idea to the same people that were shocked, SHOCK I TELL YOU!, at the use of drones on terrorist camps in Pakistani territory. Is Newt's idea okay for North Korea's failure of a satellite launch but not okay for specific terrorist training camp targets in the ideology formerly known as the "War on Terror"?

On the other hand, I hear these lasers are relatively inexpensive. One. Million. Dollars.

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