Saturday, November 25, 2006

My Manifesto

OK, it's been a while since I wrote for this here blog. Can't have Eric getting all the glory now can we. The election is over. No one has a mandate except for one or two small items.

First, it was a referendum on Iraq. Anyone with a half a brain understands that the shia's, the sunni's and the kurds ain't getting along. So that means we get out as quickly as possible and turn over the controls to you guessed it, those who are now the elected officials of that country. We can forget about having permanent bases and all that stuff. It isn't worth it. Remember, the current administration didn't serve in Vietnam. Colin Powell did, but when he realized that he had been had, he split. Alot of current and former military leaders are saying that this has been a mistake. Rumsfeld resigned. Thats a good first step. Now it is time for the Vice President to resign. Or he can fall under item two.

Item two. It is time to start talking about impeaching the president and the vice-president. Time to face some facts, they lied and manipulated intelligence to further their desire for regime change in Iraq. Check out the Office of Special Plans. Check out PNAC. PNAC wanted this well before they even got into office. Anyone who checked out Ahmed Chalabi's background knew he couldn't be trusted to provide intelligence on Iraq. But our own government paid him alot for information on weapons of mass destruction. And guess what, have we found any WMD's? NO. Now comes the hard part. Impeachment is a ugly process. But I fear that if we don't, the rest of the world is going to view the US as war criminals. We have already given ourselves a black eye for our go it alone approach. And if your politician doesn't want to impeach the president, we still have one thing we can do. Start a recall effort. If that means every member of congress and the senate has to run again. So be it. We own this country, they work for us. Do not become complacent and think this can't be done. Gray Davis was recalled. He was a govenor. A congress critter has to be much easier. Senators are going to be a pain in the ass. Get rid of the war enablers.

Now we come to what I think this election was really about. It was a bit of populism. Ain't you sick and tired of all the scandals. Abramoff bribing folks. Duke Cunningham. Foley. Ney. Delay. All these folks are getting caught either bribing someone or taking a bribe for a vote. We have real serious problems in this country. They won't get fixed untill we fix the reason these occur in the first place. And we have been lax in our being vigilant. My solutions are below.

1) No more Political Action Committee money. Corporations are not people, neither are not for profits (or NGO's for that matter). I don't give a shit what the supreme court ruled back in the 1800's. Corporations may have the rights of an individual except for one. They are not a person. They cannot vote. So why let them donate money to your elected official? Deny the corporations the right to donate to your politician. if we don't, then the corporations will continue to give money to candidates that will give them what they want. At your expense. And they get to give at 5 grand every congressional cycle. You only get to give a grand.

2) No outside of state funds (except for President). None whatsoever. From dogcatcher to senator. People should be elected on the merits of their ability. Not on who raises the most money. You want to run in Texas, get texans money. The only office one should be able to donate to outside of their state is president. And that means a CEO should be able to donate the same as you or me. A Grand every two years. Thats a congressional election cycle to the nOOb. And I think we should have automatic disqualification for those who accept and use outside money.

3) Equal ballot access. The Democrats and the Republicans have written the rules to get on the ballot to favor, yeah you guessed it, THEM. If they only have to pay a fee, everyone else has to jump through hurdles. Why shouldn't the rest of the parties out there have it as easy? I'm a paleoconservative and I think it's a crock that the other parties are kept at the fringes through ballot access. The reason they don't want to give you a choice is because they are afraid that they will lose their hold on power. And they should be afraid. Alot of democrats and republicans voted for the debacle in Iraq.

These are 3 first good steps. More are sure to follow. I have to go drink alot and forget I was mad about this.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Michael Richards and Spongebob: Racist Bastards?

Let's get at least one ground rule established about Michael Richards' career suicide: anybody who tries to justify his meltdown by saying "Lenny Bruce used the n-word all the time. What the hell, man?" should be beaten like an old rug, because they obviously have no idea who the hell Lenny Bruce was or what he did. Personally, I think ex-Kramer went into verbal street fighter mode, went for a blow below the belt, and he did it in the worst way possible, after which he did the worst possible job of covering his ass.

But somehow--and this probably says awful things about where my head goes at 4 a.m., or how much I really care about this crap--the whole mess reminds me of a Spongebob Squarepants cartoon. The episode in question featured Spongebob as a budding stand-up comedian bombing horribly until he strikes on the idea of making jokes about the stupidity of squirrels. Spongebob instantly becomes a superstar, but at the expense of Sandy the Squirrel, who is now being treated like a moron by the sea creatures who should know better. (If you've never seen Spongebob: yes, there is a squirrel at the bottom of this ocean, she's Spongebob's friend, and she's a super genius. In spite of all that, she still hasn't figured out how to lick that hibernation thing.)

Sandy decides to take the active approach, by overloading Spongebob on "stupid squirrel" until he gets it through his thick, water-absorbent head that stereotyping is wrong. All good and well, but wait, there's more: the next night, Spongebob busts out some fresh material about squirrels, himself, and all the different types of fish. Everybody laughs, fade to black.

Now, at the risk of reading too much into what was supposed to be a pro-social cartoon, what the hell is the lesson here? The only one I'm getting is "If you're going to make race jokes, you better be ready to make them about everybody. Especially if they suck."

Today, that young sponge is known as Carlos Mencia. And now you know the rest of the story. Good day.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Goodwill To Men?

Back to a more altruistic mode... and to offer my benediction for the whole season.

Like the buildup to the holiday, the phony war on Christmas has started earlier this year, so in my small way, I'd like to pre-empt the trumped-up media-manufactured firestorm against anybody who would rather say "Happy Holidays" in the only way I know how: with the gift of Dickens.

My text comes from chapter two of A Christmas Carol, the section where Scrooge is wandering the streets of London with the Ghost of Christmas Present, who is busy spreading good cheer from his torch. If you're wondering, Dickens was talking about a particular blue law proposed in Parliament which would shutter places of amusement on Sundays in an era where the lower classes worked intensely long hours Monday through Saturday, and would have deprived them of what little joy they could achieve on their only day of rest. The main point, however, is much more universal.

“Is there a peculiar flavour in what you sprinkle from your torch?” asked Scrooge.

“There is. My own.”

“Would it apply to any kind of dinner on this day?” asked Scrooge.

“To any kindly given. To a poor one most.”

“Why to a poor one most?” asked Scrooge.

“Because it needs it most.”

“Spirit,” said Scrooge, after a moment’s thought, “I wonder you, of all the beings in the many worlds about us, should desire to cramp these people’s opportunities of innocent enjoyment.”

“I!” cried the Spirit.

“You would deprive them of their means of dining every seventh day, often the only day on which they can be said to dine at all,” said Scrooge. “Wouldn’t you?”

“I!” cried the Spirit.

“You seek to close these places on the Seventh Day?” said Scrooge. “And it comes to the same thing.”

“I seek!” exclaimed the Spirit.

“Forgive me if I am wrong. It has been done in your name, or at least in that of your family,” said Scrooge.

“There are some upon this earth of yours,” returned the Spirit, “who lay
claim to know us, and who do their deeds of passion, pride, ill-will, hatred, envy, bigotry, and selfishness in our name, who are as strange to us and all our kith and kin, as if they had never lived. Remember that, and charge their doings on themselves, not us.”

Keep this in mind when the assault of the talking heads begins. One of the many goals of Christmas is to stop being a jerk for a day, or a whole month, with an option to give it up forever. Abusing a door greeter or a cashier because a man on the radio or television tells you the phrase "Happy Holidays" is a conspiracy of the secular left, instead of a different way of passing on the same age old message of goodwill, isn't the reason for the season. If we must take back the holiday, we should take it back from the forces of hate and division.

Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin here.

Show Me The Channel Changer!

If nothing else, Show Me The Money (which debuted on ABC tonight at 10pm) is environmentally sound, since it's made of 100% recycled elements. We'll get to that in a moment.

The rules and gameplay are pretty convoluted, although it's not that hard to follow if you're paying attention: you are given the opening word or phrase of a possible question, and you have to choose one of three questions blind. You can pass on two questions, but if you do, you are required to give an answer to the third. Then, after "locking in" your answer, you have to choose a dollar amount from one of thirteen dancers. While the totals could add up to $1 million, thirteen is an appropriate number, because one dancer is holding a sort of "whammy" card that takes away everything you earned so far if you don't answer correctly, and then you have to answer a "sudden death" question to stay in the game. Otherwise, if you answer correctly, the dollar amount is added to your total; if not, it's taken away from your total. You have to keep playing until you either get five correct answers or five wrong answers.

As I mentioned, you'd be hard pressed to find a single original idea in this program. The title, of course, is a movie catchphrase connected with absolutely nobody you see on the screen at any time; Cuba Gooding Jr. obviously came down with a case of good taste when this was presented to him. The gorgeous women (and yes, the dancers do have poles available to them at all times) and the dramatic set dressing are a direct swipe from Deal or No Deal. There's a touch of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire because of a quiz element, and the host's "Are you locking in?" request is a blatant "Is that your final answer?" ripoff. The money deduction for wrong answers feels too much like Jeopardy. As for the dancer who takes all your money away (life imitates art for some of you, I'm sure), I'm trying to decide if that's more of a Press Your Luck swipe or the Bankrupt option on Wheel of Fortune. It's all so depressingly familiar, even if you have a better chance of walking away with big money than on DOND. Your host is William Shatner, and dammit, of all the times for him to stop with the overacting, this was the worst possible moment. This program cries out for a double serving of ham, Bill. It's down to you.

In summary: What an awful show. What an awful, awful, awful, awful, awful, awful, AWWWWWWWWWWWWWFUL show. It's the laziest type of bad television, a Frankenstein monster strung together from pieces of more successful shows, as if the producers couldn't choose a gameshow trend to jump on, so they decided to use them all. They'd have to try harder to be unambitious. The only reason I watched any of it is because I assume this show will be gone in a few weeks, to make room for Full Contact Roller Derby With the B-List Stars, or whatever desperation move ABC tries to whip on us next.

A note to west coasters: John Laroquette is on House tonight. If you want to gawk at the car wreck, there will still be an hour available after Doctor House gets through risking a patient's life. Make the right choice.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Unsettling Corporate Trend of the Moment

When I first heard the word "crowdsourcing" applied to the way Ganett was going to run its newspapers from now on, I thought to myself, "FINALLY, print journalism with the integrity and oversight of your typical Wikipedia page!"

Yeah, I know it has to be more involved that, but the whole concept just sounds so chintzy. It's one thing for CNN to invite "citizen journalists" to contribute news videos and another to hand a huge chunk of the newsroom over to presumably unpaid regular people. As a recovering wrestling fan, and reader of wrestling news sites, I'm very familiar with the level of quality you can expect from amateurs who suddenly have an overinflated sense of self importance. A lot of it is awful enough to read for free, but buying a subscription for home delivery? That just hurts.

(Wait just a second..."amateur", "overinflated sense of self importance", "awful to read"... If it wasn't for the fact that I only pretend that people read this, that could be used against me. And if you do, add "false modesty" to that list.)

All that aside, it also sounds like a great way for a clever person with a vendetta to screw somebody over in a most public way, and as history has taught us, that should be left only to trained professionals.

(Edit on 11/7: And now, an opposing viewpoint...)

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Catching The Infamous Six Word Story Meme

A lot of people are being inspired by the Very Short Stories from this month's Wired, so for once, I'm jumping on to a trend before the ass end reaches me:
  • Sorry, wrong house. Don't shoot again.
  • My leg's gone! Tasted good, though.
  • My double lives in my pancreas.
  • Parallel world: Katherine Harris, beloved televangelist.

The last one was a cheap shot, I know...sorry televangelists, I won't do it again. Today.