Friday, February 17, 2006

Boston Legal rocks!

Can I just say that one of my favorite shows on TV these days is Boston Legal and I feel it incumbent upon myself to defend it from the NYT. Alessandra Stanley writes that David E. Kelley should drop the "liberal talk show" bit and work on his writing skills. If you've seen the show, you'll know that Allen Shore's "uninterrupted" rants are extremely eloquent and well written. I don't know much about entertainment criticism, so I'm not going to attempt to go toe to toe with Stanley in her realm of expertise, but in this case, I don't think her article is as much of as a critique as it is a hatchet job. Her problem with the show seems to be that she doesn't think a sitcom should have characters calling the credit card industry a "pack of Hyenas crunching on the bones of the poor" or cutting the fingers off priests who protect child molesters.

Too bad. If David E. Kelley thinks he's carrying the "torch" for liberal ideology in one of the only places where it still thrives, then so be it. Should he just write mindless babble for the "masses" instead, would that make Stanley happier? Now more than ever we need Allen Shore to let the insurance industry and the Pharmaceutical companies have it. Sitcoms have always been a way of getting the message out to the masses. Back in the 50's a lot of TV writers were forced to work behind phony names because they were black listed. They got their message out by hiding it in Sci-fi stories in the Twilight Zone or by cloaking it in Grandpa's cape in the Munsters. This idea that Allan Shore shouldn't be sacrificed on "the alter of politics" is nonsense.

And if she actually watched the show she might know that Denny Crane (played by William Shatner) has lost most of his mind to Alzheimer's, not mad cow. The mad cow thing is just his way of dealing with his fears of losing control. Alzheimer’s is going to effect millions of Americans in the coming decades and it’s a theme Kelley uses again and again. Is Alzheimer's a liberal issue now, too?

And one more thing: Stanley sort of misses the point that Crane the right winger and Shore the liberal are "soul mates;" there's a message in itself, we can all get along. Pretty radical stuff.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Brain drain.

Yesterday W. went to an Ohio Wendy's to promote what the WaPo calls "incremental changes to the health care system this year." His bold new plan is to give "working people" tax breaks to invest in "health savings accounts." Of course, if you're making $15,000 a year, you're barely going to be able to put any money away at all never mind in a medical rainly day fund. By the way, why could people just do this type of thing on their own if they wanted?

Anyway, "Bush is selling the accounts as a way to provide consumers more control over their money and to transition away from what he calls a costly and unsustainable program." Yes, because when I'm sick I'm not a patient anymore, I'm a consumer. If my head goes through the wind shield, I can shop around for the best price at my local hospitals and force the more expensive ones to bring down their prices.

Not that W. really cares about health care anyway. He's been president for 5 years now and every year another million people lose their health insurance. I know, maybe preventive health care might be the answer to these shyrocketing medical costs!

Nope. the WaPo reported two days ago that Bush's "Proposed budget for next year would zero out popular health projects that supporters say target more mundane, but more certain, killers. If enacted, the 2007 budget would eliminate federal programs that support inner-city Indian health clinics, defibrillators in rural areas, an educational campaign about Alzheimer's disease, centers for traumatic brain injuries, and a nationwide registry for Lou Gehrig's disease. It would cut close to $1 billion in health care grants to states and would kill the entire budget of the Christopher and Dana Reeve Paralysis Resource Center."

Take that Superman!

The Post says on the choppinhg block is "$12 million in state grants for community-based Alzheimer's care and a $1.6 million "Maintain Your Brain" campaign run out of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention." See, this is necessary for Heimat Security. If people can remember that the NSA is spying on them they might not say things that are incriminating.

Bush, Bongo and Mohamad.

The L.A. Times reports Jack Abramoff helped former Malaysian PM Mahathir Mohamad get a visit with Bush. Tom Hamburger and Peter Wallsten write: " When the government of Malaysia sought to repair its tarnished image in the U.S. by arranging a meeting between President Bush and its controversial prime minister in 2002, it followed the same strategy as many other well-heeled interests in Washington: It called on lobbyist Jack Abramoff for help." Not that W. knows who Abramoff is or anything or asked why Mahathir was showing up on his door step. He's not a very curious George.

Surprisingly enough, "Abramoff contacted presidential advisor Karl Rove on at least four occasions to help arrange a meeting. Finally...Rove's office called to tell Abramoff that the Malaysian leader soon would be getting an official White House invitation....A White House spokeswoman, Erin Healy, said Tuesday that Rove had 'no recollection' of any conversations with Abramoff regarding the Malaysian meeting." It's amazing how into every aspect of the president's business Rove is, but can't seem to remember anything about anything.

Imagine the great friend of Israel having someone like Mahathir to the White House! Remember the Jews rule the world speech in 2003? 'They survived 2,000 years of pogroms not by hitting back but by thinking," Mahathir said of the Jews. From SMH: 'They invented socialism, communism, human rights and democracy so that persecuting them would appear to be wrong, so that they can enjoy equal rights with others. the world's orld's 1.3 billion Muslims 'cannot be defeated by a few million Jews,' but suggested the use of political and economic tactics instead of violence to achieve a 'final victory.' In today's world, we wield a lot of political, economic and financial clout, enough to make up for our weaknesses in military terms,' he said."


And then of course, there was the whole arrest and bogus trial of Anwar Ibrahim, but that was before Bush was on the scene. In that case, instead of having him over to the White House, Al Gore went there and blasted him in a speech at the Apec summit in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur in 1998.

Bongo a-go-go.

I wonder if Boy Genius remembers anything about the visit of President Omar Bongo of Gabon, who gave Abramoff $9 million to meet Bush on May 26, 2004. The WaPo reports: "White House and State Department officials described Mr. Bush's meeting with President Bongo, whose government is regularly accused by the United States of human rights abuses, as routine." Yeah, right, Bush meeting with human rights abusers is pretty routine. He even had King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia to his ranch in Waco, so meeting a dictator like Bongo is no big whoop.

Army of one recruiting criminals and drug addicts.

The U.S. Army is apparently finding it more and more difficult to get even young and impressional kids who think the military is a video game to sign up, so they've decided to lower their standards a little bit.

The Baltimore Sun reports: "Last year, almost one in six Army recruits had a problem in their background that would have disqualified them from military service. In order to accept them, the Army granted special exceptions, known as recruiting waivers. In all, the Army granted waivers to 11,018 recruits in the 12-month period ending Sept. 30, 2005, or 15 percent of those accepted into the service that year. Those figures are up sharply from 2004, when 9,300 waivers were granted, or about 12 percent of those joining the Army.

There was a significant increase in the number of recruits with what the Army terms "serious criminal misconduct" in their background. That category includes aggravated assault, robbery, vehicular manslaughter, receiving stolen property and making terrorist threats, according to Douglas Smith, a spokesman for the Army Recruiting Command at Fort Knox, Ky."

I have an idea, why not go hunting for recruits in those boot camps for delinguints? I hear there's a particularly good one in Florida that really does a good job in simulating Abu Ghraib conditions. A 14-year old boy was beaten to death there just last week.

The Miami Herald reports: "The Bay County Boot Camp, where a 14-year-old boy may have received a fatal beating by guards, is one of Florida's poorest-performing juvenile camps and allows guards to use deadly force, chemical agents and pressure points to subdue kids, a committee of lawmakers was told Wednesday. Of the five juvenile camps in Florida, the Panama City facility is among the two that consistently graduate the highest percentage of youths who then commit another crime, or are convicted, within a year of release, according to Department of Juvenile Justice statistics.

A Florida State University criminologist...said boot camps are largely ineffective and inefficient..." Sounds like it's good enough for the Army work.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Vice shooter would only get hand slapped if hunter dies.

I'm sure this Harry Whittington fellow that Cheney shot is probably your typical hardnosed republican bastard, but I'm really starting to feel sorry for him. Cheney's minions are already busy swift-sliming him and claiming he's the one to blame for getting in Darth's way and now---to add insult to peppering---people are actually speculating on what happens if he dies. (Cheney & Co. have probably already made it clear to him he'd be better off dead if he says anything other than it was an accident and entirely his fault.)

AP: "DALLAS - If the man wounded by Dick Cheney dies, the vice president could -- in theory at least --face criminal charges, even though the shooting was an accident. Dallas defense attorney David Finn, who has been a state and a federal prosecutor, said Wednesday that a Texas grand jury could bring a charge of criminally negligent homicide if there is evidence the vice president knew or should have known 'there was a substantial or unjustifiable risk that his actions would result in him shooting a fellow hunter.'The charge carries up to two years behind bars, but with no previous felonies Cheney would be eligible for probation, the former prosecutor said."

Great! So you see, he could continue on as the vice-president just like Aaron Burr did. George Washington intercepted mail and Burr killed Alexander Hamilton, there's plenty of evidence that the vice-executive has the right to kill anyone he wants.

Cheney shares other similarities to Burr: The history of the US Senate says that Burr, "Became one of the most maligned and mistrusted figures of his era and, without question, the most controversial vice president of the early republic."

Probably the only vice president more controversial than Burr in the 19th century anyway, was Richard Johnson, Van Buren's vice who "openly acknowledged his slave mistress and mulatto daughters and devoted himself more to the customers of his tavern than to his Senate duties." Johnson, in fact sold his first slave mistress into slavery when he found out she was playing around on him and then took up with her sister. Quite a guy.

See, so Cheney isn't that bad. If he was younger though, you never know...

Monday, February 13, 2006

I'm at the other place.

See my humorous take on today's news stories at Let's Talk About Democracy.
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