June 9, 2004 - June 2, 2004
Wednesday, June 09, 2004
The Big Picture
TIME TO STAND BACK
This fellow named Howard
decided to draw a Picture
. Here's just a fraction of what he includes in the
list of picture elements:
If I started drawing cartoon
characters, why not add all the cartoons I could think of as well? And
aren't The Beatles cartoons? Then why not all the rock stars?! And
movie stars! And space ships, fantasy buildings, historical figures and
places! And why not all the religious figures and iconography? Think
about all the famous vehicles from movies and TV, you have to put those
in... And video game characters!
It's hard to tell if he's succeeded or what constitutes success in such
an endeavor. But it's impossible not to admire the vision, the
ambition, the enthusiasm involved in pursuing the work to completion.
That's why it's time for all of us to stand back for a moment from our
usual myopic view of life and ask a few hard questions of ourselves.
When is the last time we
undertook some huge overreaching effort? When is the last time we tried
to see it all whole, understand it all, comprehend the way it all fits
together? (If you need an explanation of the antecedent for "it" here,
give it up; you're already out of the running.) When is the last time
we left off criticizing the gigantic efforts made by others to
appreciate the beauty of their daring and courage in trying at all?
I find it rather therapeutic to examine Mr. Hallis's painting in
detail, which his website has been crafted to enable us to do. If you
can put aside today's headlines and op-eds and other media trivia for a
half hour or so, you might find it rewarding to discover what all has
to go into a Picture
. File it away for reference when you launch your
next superhuman effort in
whatver arena you choose to call your own.
Here endeth the lesson.
Tuesday, June 08, 2004
The News Between the
A NIGHT OF CALM
Perhaps it's not even
worth writing about, but an odd thing happened on Fox News Channel's
prime time lineup last night. No shouting. No blustering. No ranting or
raving. And no vicious political attacks from left or right. How come?
O'Reilly Factor and the Hannity and Colmes show devoted almost every
segment to remembering Ronald Reagan.
O'Reilly interviewed Newt
Gingrich, Jerry Brown, and others about their memories and assessments
of Reagan. In particular, he was pursuing similarities and differences
between Reagan and G. W. Bush, as well as lessons Bush might take from
Reagan. All real partisanship seemed to be on hold. Gingrich, obviously
positive about Reagan, nevertheless highlighted some foreign policy
errors, and he was serious in his critique of Bush, observing that the
President would do well to follow Reagan's example in avoiding negative
campaigning. Jerry Brown, whose father lost the governorship of
California to Reagan, evinced very much the same tone, acknowledging
his respect and affection for Reagan and pointing out that liberals
have been too monolithic in their characterization of his policies.
Brown noted that Reagan was a strong environmentalist while governor of
California and lamented that he had chosen James Watt as his interior
secretary. The next guest was Ellis Henican, usually the sneermaster
among opinion columnists, and even though his segment concerned the G8
summit rather than Reagan, the moderate mood established previously
seemed to continue. Henican and O'Reilly were both reasonable about
their differences, neither raised his voice, and the sense of
Hannity and Colmes did not succeed so well as O'Reilly in mixing real
analysis with reverence, but their guests -- principally, Alexander
Haig, George Schultz, and Ed Meese -- related anecdotes that were more
intimately revealing than worshipful. Schultz recalled the careful
setup of the first meeting between Gorbachev and Reagan, the two of
them seated alone in front of a drawing room fireplace. The schedule
called for a 10-minute face to face, but the 10 minutes became an hour
and then the two leaders went to another location in Geneva, where they
spent the entire afternoon alone together, talking. Schultz recalled
that Gorbachev seemed astonished and pleased to discover that he
genuinely liked his erstwhile adversary. For once, Hannity was not
cocky but respectful and restrained. Colmes took no potshots. Each
segment began and ended with a clip of Reagan: scenes from his movies,
excerpts of his speeches, and key moments in his presidential debates.
His sunny spirit really seemed to pervade the evening, which somehow
resulted in a feeling of sadness. The usual political fare of our day
-- hateful charges, repetitious cant, angry crosstalk, and unending
resentment -- contrasts so miserably with the intermission brought
about by Reagan's death that it's impossible not to wonder how far
we've fallen in 20 short years.
The lighter side of both programs was provided by show business guests
with personal recollections of Reagan. On Hannity and Colmes, actor
Robert Conrad, now on the cusp of 70, recalled receiving a phone call
from the President to praise him for a movie the first couple had just
seen in the White House. On O'Reilly, Mickey Rooney told of meeting
Reagan for the first time. Rooney was just fifteen and remembered the
two of them saving a dog who had just been run down in the street. The
third show business guest was the voice via telephone of Doris Day, who
also received a presidential phone call after she had criticized the
Reagans for leaving their dog in Santa Barbara instead of taking it
home to the White House. Her criticism appeared in a print interview,
and about a month later, Reagan called her to explain that the dog was
miserable at the White House -- no room to run, no time off the leash
-- and really preferred Santa Barbara where he had wide open spaces,
plenty of other dogs to pal around with, and other human friends as
The story was charming, but equally so was the voice of Doris Day, long
gone from the public ear. It is still musical, breathy, and lilting,
still somehow young. It made me remember what a phenomenal talent she
was: the very best female vocalist to come out of the Big Band era, her
voice surpisingly powerful and utterly at ease throughout its range.
For those who don't remember, and for those who do, here's a sample of
was, once upon a time. (Wait for it to load; it's worth it.)
We'll be back in the jungle soon enough.
Monday, June 07, 2004
Our New Protector
you heard of him? He's the one who started out as a card-carrying
member of the right-wing
, wrote a not nice
about Anita Hill, and then suddenly remembered that he should be a
liberal instead. Now the mainstream media love
him, and he's leveraging his newfound acceptability into a crusade
against the right-wing bias of the mass media??? Does this mean he's as
dumb as he looks? Yes. All you have to do to prove it to yourself is
check out his new website MediaMatters.org, conceived as an antidote to
the Media Research Center
and loaded to the gunwales with takedowns of conservative lies and
propaganda in the Bush-loving media. The only problem is, if you look
think that the mass media consist only of Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly,
and the rest of the Fox News hosts and analysts. Given that this leaves
out the New York Times, Washington
Post, LA Times, Time, Newsweek
, NBC, ABC, CBS, PBS, and NPR, it
would seem that David needs a pair of specs so those beady eyes of his
can see where the real Goliath is.
We tried to count the total number of references to O'Reilly, Limbaugh,
and Fox News on the site's main page, but not being liberal enough to
do fancy arithmetic, we gave up well into the double digits. Without
these targets, Brock would have nothing on his page but a couple of
lame protests about CNN, MSNBC, and a handful of opinion journalists
who are known for criticizing both sides of the political spectrum.
Here are the rare gems of this sort we we were able to find (hyperlinks
On the June 3 edition of CNN's Inside
, CNN congressional correspondent Ed Henry
of progressive financier, philanthropist, and
political activist George Soros's June 3 speech
at the Campaign for America's Future "Take Back
" conference, reporting as fact the right-wing talking point
that Soros "equated the Iraqi prisoner abuse to the 9/11 attacks."
[Excuse us, David, but he did
equate the two.]
During a report by CNN correspondent Tom
Foreman on the June 2 edition of Wolf
Blitzer Reports, Deputy Assistant Defense Secretary for
Internal Communications Allison Barber defended continued broadcasts of
The Rush Limbaugh Show by the American
Forces Radio and Television Service, stating that AFRTS programming
"is based on popularity here in the states." [If only they could ditch
the popularity requirement, AFRTS could broadcast Air America.]
On June 3, MSNBC went for the real deal,
substituting Scarborough Country host Joe Scarborough, a former Republican
member of Congress from Florida, with guest host John
D. "J.D." Hayworth, a current Republican member of Congress from
Arizona. [Yawn. Does anybody anywhere on the right or the left watch
MSNBC? Oh, that's right. David does.]
Author Christopher Hitchens joined the chorus of
right-wing pundits purporting to diagnose former Vice President Al
Gore's psychiatric state following Gore's May 26 speech
about U.S. policy in Iraq. Hitchens, appearing on MSNBC's Scarborough
Country on June 3, said, "Al Gore's been making speeches that make
him look and sound completely nuts." [Would that be the prominent
right-wing piglet who just ridiculed
Ronald Reagan upon the occasion of his death? Just wondering, David.]
The main theme of the page appears to be Brock's outrage that Bill
O'Reilly is saying so many bad things about George Soros. He also seems
peeved that O'Reilly called Molly Ivins a socialist. Uh, isn't she?
Guess not, because O'Reilly apologized on the air. (Just because
someone is a socialist doesn't mean you have to mention it in public.
Manners, you know.) Which brings us to another point. How many
conservatives truly believe Bill O'Reilly is a conservative? Some
nights he is. Some nights he's anything but. He's a... what's the right
word?... muckraker. Or maybe it's loudmouth. We keep getting those two
confused. But if Brock wants to allocate 60 percent of his website to
hectoring O'Reilly, we suspect a lot of the real right-wingers are
going to be snickering up their sleeves. Who knew O'Reilly could
actually be of use for anything?
Thanks for the laughs, David. We'll be frequent visitors to your site.
Sunday, June 06, 2004
. I will
never forget election
night 1980. He was leading in the polls, but not by much, and the press
was doing its best to conjure up a comeback miracle for the worst
president in U.S. history. Then the polls began closing, and the
network anchormen seemed nearly mute with grief. The landslide was
enormous, a nationwide rumble that kept growing louder all evening. The
unthinkable had happened. A genuine conservative had been elected
president with a thundering mandate for change. He delivered on his
promise. A country which had become cynical and pessimistic in the
aftermath of Vietnam, Watergate, and the embarrassing midget named
Carter began to feel hope and pride again. The Berlin Wall and the
Soviet Union fell, and then he rode off into his long and painful
sunset. The sense of loss arrived long before today. Shuteye Nation put
it this way in 2000:
. An American Dream,
glimmering away. He really believed all that
rhetoric about making America great again, and he made a lot of other
believe it, too. What's more, he actually tried. He cut taxes°
He stood up proudly against an enemy everybody had been too afraid to
about in anything higher than a whisper for years. He took a bullet and
lied through his clenched teeth about how slightly injured he was. For
this he was treated with continuous, sneering contempt by all the
who believed in the good°
when he left office eight years later, the last chance for America had
invisibly and completely. What had he accomplished? The government and
the federal budget°
had grown in
every year of his administration—inexorably, ineluctably, inhumanly.
good people smiled and are smiling still, trying hard not to laugh out
loud at the ignominy of his failing, emptying light. But when he passes
last, it is our
light which will be buried in the past.
Now he is gone. Godspeed, Mr. Reagan.
hearing from liberals that it's the Republicans who are nasty and
mean-spirited. Here is the page from Democraticunderground.com in which
those kindly, humanity-loving lefties offer their thoughts
on the death of Reagan. It's notable for two things. First, the bile
isn't limited to one or two hardcore haters; it's practically uniform
throughout. Second, if you scroll down the list of messages (please
do), you will see that there
are multiple deleted messages, each representing a defender of Reagan
who decried the general disrespect for the dead. How can we be so sure?
Because the vicious replies to the deleted messages are still there. Do
we need any other evidence to form an opinion of the left's real
devotion to freedom of expression, tolerance, and fair-minded public
Saturday, June 05, 2004
Words fail us...
Friday, June 04, 2004
Gross, the illustrious daughter of Howdy Doody
. It's been
a distinguished week for some of the biggest practitioners of objective
reporting. On Tuesday, Terry Gross interviewed Donna Brazile about her
new book on the NPR show Fresh
. Terry was so hot to begin Bush-bashing, she couldn't even
exchange pleasantries with Brazile before soliciting her defense of Al
Gore's latest womanish outburst about Bush's "incompetence." Brazile
is, of course, the political mastermind who helped the campaigns of
Mondale, Dukakis, and Gore accomplish their electoral defeats. Standing
atop this mountain of failure, she pronounced Gore's shrieking odium a
fine and positive contribution to the political debate. Her book,
incidentally, is called Cooking with
. Sound appetizing to you? Yet it's all sweet in the mouth
of Terry Gross, who managed to read the most excoriating libels against
the president in the same saccharine voice she uses to stroke Lesbian
poets suckling at the NPR tit in hopes of selling a twentieth copy of
their latest collection of hogwash. Why is it that after listening to
Fresh Air, one feels in immediate need of... fresh air?
Then, on Thursday, Mike Wallace deigned to appear on the O'Reilly
, where he defended his statements about the Iraq War at the Smithsonian celebration
of World War II vets.
(The second link is to a video clip of Wallace's remarks; if you want
to see unscripted journalistic eloquence, please watch it. Note how
much trouble the great man has formulating a coherent sentence.) With an
audience of veterans, many of whom he must have known would be supporters
of President Bush, he nevertheless marred a proceeding that should have
focused on the shared experience of World War II by implying that Mr.
Bush was 'invalid' as commander-in-chief and that the war in Iraq was
'not a noble enterprise.' His buddy Al Neuharth, formerly head of USA
, went on to suggest that no president who had not seen
should be commander-in-chief. (Has he heard of the constitution, we
wonder? Or this
Amazingly, O'Reilly succeeded in
obtaining a concession or two from Wallace in the following exchange:
“Do you think it was the proper venue to make those comments because,
you know, it was a celebratory situation where, and you knew that some
World War II veterans were going to disagree with you, so was it the
Wallace: “It seemed to, it seemed both to
Neuharth and to me that it was the right venue, because we talked about
it ahead of time, it was a venue in which we are celebrating a war in
which so many people died, but they died in the service of something
that they deeply believed in, and they were not alone, I mean, we were
not alone in that, our allies and so forth. The, this is not a war, I’m
candid to admit it as much as I’ve already said so as I had no idea
C-SPAN was there, it is not a war that I believe in. We don’t have
allies. We didn’t.”
O’Reilly: “Yeah, but the people who are
dying over there believe in it, and, you know, was it your turn to
maybe denigrate their sacrifice? I’ll give you the last word on it, but
I think that was the opposition to what you said.”
“Well, that’s perfectly sensible, perfectly sensible criticism, free
country. That’s the kind of business we do. Mind you, I should not
probably have said it there.”
Once again, note the tangled syntax of the unscripted Wallace. It has
long been our suspicion that the Grand Inquisitor of 60 Minutes would
not be quite so
invincible without a teleprompter. Here's what we said in Shuteye
Nation 2000, where the
names are all changed for the hell of it:
feared TV journalist in Ameria.
Why, when the producers sit Mike down in front of that camera and he
reading off the questions the bad guys didn't answer right in last
interview, the terror in special interest
land is palpable.
Oh. One more thing. A slap on the wrist for O'Reilly too. When
Wallace claimed we don't have allies in Iraq, the Great Mouth replied,
"Yeah, but..." A glitch in the "No Spin Zone"? Yeah. All right. Two
hours of detention. Silent
InstaPunk assigns Bill O'Reilly two
hours of detention
Thursday, June 03, 2004
For Sale Cheap! One Pharaoh Phake Hound.
It's believed pharaoh hounds
were the inspiration for the image of Anubis. Or vice versa.
Scientists are pretty sure that modern humans are related to Lucy,
the three-foot-tall primate who walked sort of erect in the
African savannah umpty-thousand years ago and left a half dozen bones
behind for Harvard to glue back together. Okay. Dog experts have been
pretty sure that the pharaoh hound and the Ibizan hound are direct
descendants of the most ancient dogs rendered in art, namely the Anubis
figures of Egypt. But now it turns out that the dog experts are wrong:
Both breeds, along with several others
that dog aficionados
have long believed dated back thousands of years, are actually much
more modern animals -- re-creations that were probably produced by
The findings have sent
reverberations though the ranks
of dog fanciers, who primp and preen their beloved companions for shows
and take great pride in their pedigrees.
"This is clearly going to raise
some eyebrows in the
Pharaoh hound world," said Greg Witt, vice president of the Pharaoh
Hound Club of America. "It goes against our belief system. People are
pretty passionate about their dogs. There is going to be disbelief."
The findings come from the first
detailed genetic comparison of the genes of purebred dogs.
If you're wondering who else is sporting a fraudulent coat of arms,
here they are: Norwegian Elkhounds (not Vikings) and German Shepherds
(not wolf cousins).
And there's more to the story. DNA analysis suggests that the dogs
which are most closely related to each other, and to wolves, are the
Samoyed, basenji, Saluki, Afghan, Lhasa apso, Pekingese, Shar-Pei, Shih
Tzu and Akita.
These guys don't look much like wolves.
They don't look much like each other. So why do scientists think Lucy
is related to us? Fossils don't have DNA. It must be because she's
bipedal and therefore looks (to scientists) somewhat human. Just like a
German Shepherd looks (to us) like a wolf. Maybe it's more than dog
breeders who have some rethinking to do. Who knows what else might turn
up in the human family tree?
What didn't Darwin know and when
didn't he know it?
Wednesday, June 02, 2004
Modesty? I never saw it, but I think I know what you mean.
Return to Modesty?
girls don't like this look for some reason. Whatever.
. CNN is
claiming that there's a teenage girl who doesn't want to be half naked
when fully dressed
Here's an excerpt:
During a recent shopping trip to
Nordstrom, 11-year-old Ella Gunderson became frustrated with all the
low-cut hip-huggers and skintight tops.
So she wrote to the Seattle-based chain's
see all of these girls who walk around with pants that show their belly
button and underwear," she wrote. "Your clearks (sic) sugjest (sic)
that there is only one look. If that is true, then girls are suppost
(sic) to walk around half naked."
Nordstrom executives wrote back and
promised Ella the company would try to provide a variety of fashions
This is promising, provided Ella isn't the only girl who thinks
looking like a slut isn't the be-all and end-all of fashion. We
suspect, however, that modesty is but a brief niche market (pun
intended). Note that CNN doesn't quite approve of Ella, going out of
its way to embarrass her by reproducing her (probably normal)
misspellings. When a professional or presumptuous adult botches his
spelling, we can see the value of that lordly "[sic]," but it's a mite
heavy-handed to insert into the prose of an 11-year-old.
The fashion mavens seem a bit patronizing too. Here's how the new
modest look is characterized by an editor at Seventeen:
"We like to call this new girl Miss
Modesty," said Gigi Solif
Schanen, fashion editor at Seventeen magazine. "It's such a different
feeling but still very pretty and feminine and sexy. It's just a little
more covered up."
Shoppers are starting to see higher
and lower hemlines, and tweeds, fitted blazers and layers are expected
to be big this fall, Schanen said.
"It's kind of like a sexy take
on a librarian," she said. "I think people are tired of seeing so much
skin and want to leave a little more to the imagination."
A librarian? Uh, sure. Every girl would want to look like a
librarian. And are we starting to understand why CNN launched the
"[sic]" weapon? Ella wants to look like a librarian and can't spell.
She must be one of those fake girls, you know, the ones who don't want
to be a shouting TV lawyer or slutty singer.
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