Archive for February, 2009

Arrested Development Movie: No Need For A Stand-In

Posted by Matt on Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

According to Eonline, Michael Cera is no longer a holdout for the movie adaptation of Arrested Development.  Previous reports indicated Cera had been the only holdout from the ensemble cast.  I’m not sure if that means  Bob Loblaw or not.

It’s a shame it took this long, but I’m hoping it will be worth the wait.  In fairness to George Michael Bluth, he has clearly had the most success following the show’s cancellation.  And Pop-Pop will probably be happy that his voice has dropped.  

Expect the movie about a year from now.

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Revisionist History: Smearing FDR

Posted by Matt on Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

Here’s Missouri Congressman Roy Blunt:

All of the Republicans agreed that the plan is a spending boondoggle that won’t turn the economy around. U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt made the most pointed criticism of it in his speech Friday night: “I guess you can’t be Franklin Roosevelt if you don’t create a depression,” he said of President Barack Obama.

If you repeat a lie enough times, you can at least blur the truth.  Give Republicans credit. They are very good at lock-step opposition.  They are great at dramatic repetition of fallacies. No one is better at “playing the victim.”

Since Obama’s election, voices on the right have attempted to undermine his attempts to assist the failing economy by claiming the New Deal failed, and the “liberal” policies of FDR damaged the country. Thus, through “guilt-by-liberal-association” any sort of Obama-backed government spending will be detrimental to our country’s interest.

To wit, Brit Hume on January 7:

“the New Deal — everybody agrees, I think, on both sides of the spectrum now, that the New Deal failed.” 

If you look hard enough and pay the right price, you can probably find an economist who will claim the American economy will rise and fall on the price elasticity of adult diapers.  I believe the “sides of the spectrum” Mr. Hume refers to are “far-right” and “farther-right.”  

George Will?  

“Before we go into a new New Deal, can we just acknowledge that the first New Deal didn’t work?” He added: “That is, the biggest collapse in industrial production in history occurred in 1937, eight years after the stock market collapse of 1929, five years into the New Deal.”

While Will cherry-picks the “industrial production” statistic, he fails to mention that 1937 was the year FDR significantly scaled back government spending in an attempt to balance the budget and appease the anti-spending conservatives.  It also ignores the fact that most people were better off in 1937 than 1933.

Which brings me back to Congressman (and ’10 Senate candidate) Roy Blunt.  Unfortunately, to speak using factual assertions is not a prerequisite for any politician.  Neither is a working knowledge of American history.  Blunt’s comment indicates he believes FDR created the Great Depression.

I’ll keep the timeline pretty simple for Congressman Blunt:

1929:  Hoover innaugerated.  Recession begins in the fall. Stock market crashes October 29.

1929-1932:  Lots of government inaction.  A deteriorating economy. Americans suffer.

1932: GNP falls a record 13.4 percent; unemployment rises to 23.6 percent.  GNP has also fallen 31 percent since 1929.

At this point, it’s safe to say the Great Depression is indeed very Great, and very depressed.

1933:  FDR is inaugurated.  Stay with me.  This means that the Depression existed prior to FDR’s presidency.  A flury of activity occurs within the “first 100 days.”  The richest of the rich attempt to overthrow the government for trying to help the millions of American in need.

1934:  GNP rises 7.7 percent, and unemployment falls to 21.7 percent. 

1936: GNP grows a record 14.1 percent; unemployment falls to 16.9 percent.

1937:  Roosevelt, fears an unbalanced budget and cuts spending for 1937. That summer, the nation plunges into another recession. However, the yearly GNP rises 5.0 percent, and unemployment falls to 14.3 percent.  George Will omits this fact.

The middling economy continues until the start of WWII in a couple years.

I’m not sure if  Blunt’s complete bullshit is successful in undermining Obama or scores points with his constituents.  I guess it depends on your opinion of the people of Missouri.  No comment.  

Certainly, fire-breathing uber-conservatives use “intellectual” and “academic” as insults against liberals.  It’s ridiculous and counter-intuitive. It’s also true.  So it’s not surprising that intellectual dishonesty comes natural to Republicans.

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I Agree With This

Posted by Matt on Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

Fox News “war games” the coming civil war

(updated below)

Bill Clinton’s election in 1992 gave rise to the American “militia movement”:  hordes of overwhelmingly white, middle-aged men from suburban and rural areas who convinced themselves they were defending the American way of life from the “liberals” and ”leftists” running the country by dressing up in military costumes on weekends, wobbling around together with guns, and play-acting the role of patriot-warriors.  Those theater groups — the cultural precursor to George Bush’s prancing 2003 performance dressed in a fighter pilot outfit on Mission Accomplished Day — spawned the decade of the so-called ”Angry White Male,” the movement behind the 1994 takeover of the U.S. Congress by Newt Gingrich and his band of federal-government-cursing, pseudo-revolutionary, play-acting tough guys.

What was most remarkable about this allegedly “anti-government” movement was that — with some isolated and principled exceptions – it completely vanished upon the election of Republican George Bush, and it stayed invisible even as Bush presided over the most extreme and invasive expansion of federal government power in memory.  Even as Bush seized and used all of the powers which that movement claimed in the 1990s to find so tyrannical and unconstitutional — limitless, unchecked surveillance activities, detention powers with no oversight, expanding federal police powers, secret prison camps, even massively exploding and debt-financed domestic spending – they meekly submitted to all of it, even enthusiastically cheered it all on.  

They’re the same people who embraced and justified full-scale, impenetrable federal government secrecy and comprehensive domestic spying databases conducted in the dark and against the law when perpetrated by a Republican President — but have spent the last week flamboyantly pretending to be scandalized and outraged by the snooping which Bill Moyers did 45 years ago (literally) as part of a Democratic administration.  They’re the people who relentlessly opposed and impugned Clinton’s military deployments and then turned around and insisted that only those who are anti-American would question or oppose Bush’s decision to start wars. 

They’re the same people who believed that Bill Clinton’s use of the FISA court to obtain warrants to eavesdrop on Americans was a grave threat to liberty, but believed that George Bush’s warrantless eavesdropping on Americans in violation of the law was a profound defense of freedom.  In sum, they dressed up in warrior clothing to fight against Bill Clinton’s supposed tyranny, and then underwent a major costume change on January 20, 2001, thereafter dressing up in cheerleader costumes to glorify George Bush’s far more extreme acquisitions of federal power.

In doing so, they revealed themselves as motivated by no ideological principles or political values of any kind.  It was a purely tribalistic movement motivated by fear of losing its cultural and demographic supremacy.  In that sense — the only sense that mattered — George Bush was one of them, even though, with his actions, he did everything they long claimed to fear and despise.  Nonetheless, his mere occupancy of the White House was sufficient to pacify them and convert them almost overnight from limited-government militants into foot soldiers supporting the endless expansion of federal government power.

But now, only four weeks into the presidency of Barack Obama, they are back — angrier and more chest-beating than ever.  Actually, the mere threat of an Obama presidency was enough to revitalize them from their eight-year slumber, awaken them from their camouflaged, well-armed suburban caves.  The disturbingly ugly atmosphere that marked virtually every Sarah Palin rally had its roots in this cultural resentment, which is why her fear-mongering cultural warnings about Obama’s exotic, threatening otherness – he’s a Muslim-loving, Terrorist-embracing, Rev.-Wright-following Marxist:  who is the real Barack Obama? – resonated so stingingly with the rabid lynch mobs that cheered her on.

With Obama now actually in the Oval Office — and a financial crisis in full force that is generating the exact type of widespread, intense anxiety that typically inflames these cultural resentments — their mask is dropping, has dropped, and they’ve suddenly re-discovered their righteous “principles.”  The week-long CNBC Revolt of the Traders led by McCain voter Rick Santelli and the fledgling little Tea Party movement promoted by the Michelle Malkins of the world are obvious outgrowths of this 1990s mentality, now fortified by the most powerful fuel:  deep economic fear.  But as feisty and fire-breathing as those outbursts are, nothing can match — for pure, illustrative derangement — the discussion below from Glenn Beck’s new Fox show this week, in which he and an array of ex-military and CIA guests ponder (and plot and plan) “war games” for the coming Civil War against Obama-led tyranny.  It really has to be seen to be believed.

Before presenting that to you, a few caveats are in order:  There is nothing inherently wrong or illegitimate with citizens expressing extreme anger towards the Government and the ruling political class.  There isn’t even anything wrong or illegitimate with citizens organizing themselves into a movement that — whether by design or effect — is threatening to entrenched elites.  If anything, we’ve had too little of that.  In fact, it’s only a complete lack of fear of a meek, passive and impotent citizenry on the part of political and financial rulers — a certainty that there will be no consequences no matter what they do — that could have given rise to the endless corruption, deceit, lawbreaking, destruction, and outright thievery of the last eight years.  A political and financial elite that perceives itself as invulnerable from threat or consequence will inevitably vest itself with more power and more riches.  That’s what we’ve had and, largely, still have.

But this Rush-Limbaugh/Fox-News/nationalistic movement isn’t driven by anything noble or principled or even really anything political.  If it were, they would have been extra angry and threatening and rebellious during the Bush years instead of complicit and meek and supportive to the point of cult-like adoration.  Instead, they’re just basically Republican dead-enders (at least what remains of the regional/extremist GOP), grounded in tribal allegiances that are fueled by their cultural, ethnic and religious identities and by perceived threats to past prerogatives — now spiced with legitimate economic anxiety and an African-American President who, they were continuously warned for the last two years, is a Marxist, Terrorist-sympathizing black nationalist radical who wants to re-distribute their hard-earned money to welfare queens and illegal immigrants (and is now doing exactly that).

That’s the context for this Glenn Beck “War Games” show on Fox News this week — one promoted, with some mild and obligatory caveats, by Michelle Malkin’s Hot Air.  In the segment below, he convened a panel that includes former CIA officer Michael Scheuer and Ret. U.S. Army Sgt. Major Tim Strong.  They discuss a coming “civil war” led by American “Bubba” militias — Beck says he ”believes we’re on this road” — and they contemplate whether the U.S. military would follow the President’s orders to subdue civil unrest or would instead join with “the people” in defense of their Constitutional rights against the Government (they agree that the U.S. military would be with “the people”):

They don’t seem very interested in bipartisanship and in transcending ideological divisions.

Immediately prior to that segment, Fox viewers were warned (as usual) that the unruly, uncivilized, violent Muslims are coming, and only Benjamin Netanyahu will be able to subdue them with a massive attack:

In one sense, all of this drooling rage is nothing more than the familiar face of extreme right-wing paranoia, as Richard Hofstadter famously described 45 years ago:

The paranoid spokesman sees the fate of conspiracy in apocalyptic terms—he traffics in the birth and death of whole worlds, whole political orders, whole systems of human values. He is always manning the barricades of civilization. He constantly lives at a turning point. Like religious millenialists he expresses the anxiety of those who are living through the last days and he is sometimes disposed to set a date fort the apocalypse. (“Time is running out,” said Welch in 1951. “Evidence is piling up on many sides and from many sources that October 1952 is the fatal month when Stalin will attack.”)

But it’s now inflamed by declining imperial power, genuine economic crises, an exotic Other occupying the White House, and potent technology harnessed by right-wing corporations such as Fox News to broadcast and disseminate it widely and continuously.  At the very least, it’s worth taking note of.  And I wonder what would happen if MSNBC broadcast a similar discussion of leftists plotting and planning the imminent, violent Socialist Revolution against the U.S. Government.

 

UPDATE:  Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs and “Pajamas Media”:

Glenn Beck: The End is Nigh . . . .

Is it irresponsible for Fox News to be airing this over the top, creepy alarmist stuff during a financial crisis? Well, yeah, I think so.

If someone like that – like this – thinks that Fox News is being irresponsibly, even dangerously, inflammatory, then that’s a pretty compelling sign of how far over the line they actually are.

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Douchenozzle(s) of the Week

Posted by Matt on Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

#1:  No one has ever claimed Bud Selig injected Barry Bonds in the ass with Durabolin, or that he helped Mark McGuire apply Proactiv to his pock-marked face.  But, poor Bud. His feelings are really hurt.  Quite possibly, the innocent victim of a crazy “witch-hunt.” Or something.

Today, Bud is all over the place claiming the following:

“I don’t want to hear the commissioner turned a blind eye to this or he didn’t care about it,” Selig said. “That annoys the you-know-what out of me. You bet I’m sensitive to the criticism. The reason I’m so frustrated is, if you look at our whole body of work, I think we’ve come farther than anyone ever dreamed possible.”

Let’s see. Bud Selig, acting commissioner 1992-1998.  Commissioner, 1998-present.  When MLB resurrected itself in the late-90s, largely due to the gaudy HR numbers put up by the triumvirate of juice – McGuire, Sosa and Bonds, Bud Selig loved the camera.  He loved taking credit.  And baseball has enjoyed a huge comeback.  The MLB set attendance records in 2007, and almost again last year.

Ken Caminiti admitted to using steroids in ’02.  He claimed 1/2 of MLB players are users.  In 2005, MLB finally instituted a collectively-bargained drug policy.  What does Bud say?  

“Starting in 1995, I tried to institute a steroid policy,” Selig said. “Needless to say, it was met with strong resistance. We were fought by the union every step of the way.”

Strange, I’m pretty sure Bud would have a hard time coming up with evidence to support that. While Donald Fehr and the Players’ Union

Oh my God, you irritate the hell out of me.

Oh my God, you irritate the hell out of me.

 are certainly as culpable as the MLB, the job to protect the integrity of the game + properly manage the league lies with the Commissioner’s office.  He has done nothing but turn a blind eye.  And that “annoys the you know what out of me.”

He then states:

“They all told me none of them ever saw it in the clubhouses and that their players never spoke about it,” Selig said. “[Padres CEO] Sandy Alderson, as good a baseball man as you’ll find, was convinced it was the bat. Others were convinced it was the ball. So a lot of people didn’t know.”

If no one knew, then why did you try to institute a steroid policy in 1995?  It’s the bat.  It’s the ball.  It’s Gary Gaetti in the clutch. Which is it, you sanctimonious douchenozzle?

You may ask, ‘Why would he turn the other way?’  Well, there’s no need to “rock the boat” when you cleared over $18 million in 2007.

#2.  The 2nd Douchenozzle of the week needs no introduction.  He’s one of the 4 players that made more than Bud last year. 

Though I’ve always been very far from feeling sorry for him, until today I was reluctant to pile on ARod.  First of all, the Union seriously messed up in allowing the results of an “anonymous” test to be released.  Second, over 100 other players tested positive, but I haven’t heard a peep about any of them.  Where’s the outrage over Brady Anderson?!  Too soon?  Too late?  I guarantee his First Response Home Steroid Test either came up blue, or had a “plus-sign.”  But those are different issues altogether.

ARod’s “prepared statement” today was epic in it’s bullshit + typical in its failure to take responsibility.  A couple of highlights:

Rodriguez said his cousin introduced him to “boli,” saying it was an over-the-counter substance in the Dominican Republic. From 2001 until 2003 with Texas, he said his cousin injected him about twice a month during six-month cycles to get an energy boost.

“I didn’t think they were steroids,” he said. “That’s again part of being young and stupid. It was over the counter. It was pretty simple.”

“All these years I never thought I did anything wrong.”

2 problems with this.  First, he failed to identify his “cousin.”  One reason may be because he wants to protect him.  Personally, I don’t think this “cousin” exists.  He’s just blaming it on some random Dominican no one will be able to locate.  Prove me wrong, Dateline.

Second, he pulls the Barry Bonds/Brian Roberts, “I didn’t think they were steroids”-card.  This fully contradicts his initial interview with apologist and guitarist Peter Gammons, where ARod indicated he took drugs because of the pressure of his big contract.  Which is it?  Jesus. Won’t someone just come clean + say, “I did it. It’s wrong.  I regret it. Don’t do it children. Everyone have an ice cream, on me!”  

Invariably it goes like this (after the player is confronted with iron clad proof), “It was an accident.  

D-Rod.

D-Rod.

 Someone else gave it to me. I didn’t know what it was. I’m sorry I got caught. Can I keep my endorsements?”

I could go on, but I’m sure this will be over-examined. It goes something like:  i was naive, blah blah blah, talks about himself in the 3rd person, blah blah, sorry to my teammates. 

Apparently, Pitchers, catchers and douchenozzles have all reported to Camp.

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Red from Shawshank Narrates My Day

Posted by Matt on Saturday, February 14th, 2009

images1

 

It was 9 o’clock in the morning when Matt woke up that grey Winter day, the year of our Lord 2009.  And boy, did he have to piss somethin’ awful.  Like I said, the hard part about the prostate exam ain’t the business of knowin’.

Matt had a cup of coffee.  2 cups maybe.  By the time they tested the siren, Matt figured he should get to the gym.  Of course, it would be hard gettin’ in the snow that had fallen that previous night.  And my Lord, had that snow fallen like a virgin’s tears frozen crisp in time through the magnanimity of Mother Nature herself.  

The truth is, Matt never did get to the gym that day.

After reading a little bit about the fat cats and over-paid athletes, Matt turned on the television.  As it turned out, they was playing a Law & Order marathon on cable.  So after some watchin’, he took to it pretty well.  Before long, Matt was  3 episodes deep, and for the briefest of moments felt as one with Detective Briscoe, may God rest his soul.  They ain’t never made a procedural crime drama that could carry the water of Dick Wolf’s divine creation.

I wish I could tell you that Matt got off the couch that day.  I wish I could tell you Matt went down to the food depository and volunteered his time.  I wish I could tell you he still don’t have cereal in his facial hair from the breakfast he ate 7 hours ago.  But this is no fairy tale.

 In the Winter of’ ’09, ol’ Matt watched 12 straight hours of Law & Order.  

I’ve had some long nights during my time, but ain’t nothing like 12 hours of tv formula wrapped nicely in  separate one hour packets, each ripped from the headlines and shown so that the worst of human nature can be displayed for all who care to look, like a full Moon herself.  

I like to think that Matt solved all the mysteries by the midway point of each episode.  But that ain’t true.  Sometimes it makes me sad, but then I remind myself that he loves the surprise endings, the fork in the road where the truth is divulged from the mystery, the veil cast off, the butterfly emerging from its cocoon of intrigue.  I guess I just miss Lenny too.

Like I said, in the criminal justice system, the people are represented by 2 separate yet equally  important groups: the police who investigate crime and the district attorneys who prosecute the offenders.  But I guess maybe some things are better left unsaid.  

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One Sentence Album Review via Wine Descriptors – Heartless Bastards

Posted by Matt on Wednesday, February 11th, 2009

HEARTLESS BASTARDS – THE MOUNTAIN    

Sip It Live.

Recommended: Sip It Live.

Like previous vintages, this is highly accessible and toasty.

GRADE:  B+

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The Father, the Son, and the Holy Beagle

Posted by Matt on Wednesday, February 11th, 2009

150 years following On the Origin of Species, the Vatican has finally recognized Darwin’s “theory of  evolution” as being compatible with Catholic teachings.

 

Pope Fabulous

Pope Fabulous

 “In fact, what we mean by evolution is the world as created by God,” said Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, head of the Pontifical Council for Culture. 

The recognition of evolution is the most controversial proclamation from the  Pontifical Council of Culture since it named Pope Urban VIII the “Best Dressed Pontiff of the 17th Century” (see right).

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