Wednesday, June 07, 2006


I think you'll like my new TypePad home. This page will remain to store my old archives, but everything new can be found at:

The NEW and IMPROVED ATL Malcontent

See you there.

Photo of the day

The Aurora Austrails, captured over the South Pole Station in Antarctica

More fun with numbers

Creepy stuff from the old country --

Horror film fan Suzanne Cooper yesterday named her baby Damien after the devil child in the "The Omen," who was also born on June 6.

Suzanne went one better than the movie by hitting the full Number of the Beast with the date - 6/6/06.

Special needs teacher Suzanne, 36, was also induced for six days before Damien arrived at 6:59 a.m., tipping the scales at a spine-chilling 6lb 6oz.

She said: "We are overjoyed about the baby. The Omen is one of our favourite films and that's why I was keeping my legs crossed for a birth on the 6th.

"It does seem a bit weird I suppose, but he's a perfect baby - nothing at all like Damien in The Omen."

Mea culpa, sort of

Finally admitting it capitulated to Chinese censors, Google offered a tortured apology Tuesday, as in "we're sorry, but everyone's doing it."

Google Inc. co-founder Sergey Brin acknowledged Tuesday the dominant Internet company has compromised its principles by accommodating Chinese censorship demands. He said Google is wrestling to make the deal work before deciding whether to reverse course.

Meeting with reporters near Capitol Hill, Brin said Google had agreed to the censorship demands only after Chinese authorities blocked its service in that country. Google's rivals accommodated the same demands — which Brin described as "a set of rules that we weren't comfortable with" — without international criticism, he said.

"We felt that perhaps we could compromise our principles but provide ultimately more information for the Chinese and be a more effective service and perhaps make more of a difference," Brin said.

Won't someone please think about the children?

Fundamentalist tight asses in Boston have taken time out from the gay marriage debate to deal with another impending cultural crisis: queer mannequins.

See, they were right. The slope just keeps getting slicker. What's next, a gay Ken doll?

Macy’s department store found itself mired in a fierce national debate between conservatives and gay activists when it bowed to complaints and removed part of a window display marking Boston Pride Week.

The Downtown Crossing store display featured two male mannequins - one wearing a gay pride rainbow flag around its waist - standing near a list of several planned Boston Pride events. ...

But the store yanked the mannequins from the window after MassResistance, the conservative group formerly named Article 8 Alliance which has also campaigned against sex education and gay-themed books in public schools, complained the display was offensive.

"They were male mannequins with enlarged breasts, and one was wearing a skirt, said MassResistance president Brian Camenker, referring to the gay pride flag wrapped around one figure, cinched with a white belt. "It was really disgusting."

Gay imagery, in a department store? Where will the madness end?

No surprise that Macy's bowed to pressure from the Helen Lovejoy crowd.

Elina Kazan, New York-based spokeswoman for Macy’s, said the decision to pull the dummies, but leave the rest of the display, was an effort to strike a balance.

"We believe in diversity, and our customers are very important to us," Kazan told the Herald, adding that displays supporting Pride Week in previous years did not use mannequins. "But (the display) did offend a few of our customers, and we had to reexamine it."

In other words, we believe in diversity as long as it doesn't damage our bottom line.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The incredible shrinking base

To be fair, radio yakker Neal Boortz is more libertarian than conservative, but he definitely skews right -- far right much of the time. Glad to see he's not buying George W.'s craven attempt at appealing to the haters:

I think that it is perfectly fitting for us to use the United States Constitution, a document that is dedicated to the preservation of our inalienable rights, to tell a certain specific group of people what they cannot do, rather than tell the government what it cannot do.

We don't need tax reform. We don't need an end to earmark pork spending in Congress. We don't need smaller government and school choice. We don't need real reform that would put medical care back into the competitive marketplace. We need none of those things. All is fine! What we need is a Constitutional Amendment that will keep two people who love each other, but who we don't consider to be normal -- not by our standards anyway -- to marry.

I know I'll sleep better tonight.

How to watch "American Idol"

Never thought I'd be doing a follow-up to this story, but the details are too juicy to ignore.

(His mother) claims Favreau was attempting to rumple up her hair when he mistakenly cut her head open with the bottle opener, which had been a free gift with the purchase of two packs of Camel cigarettes.

The bottle opener consists of a bike chain attached to a cross-shaped, sharpened medallion bearing the West Coast Choppers insignia.

"He always goes by and messes my hair up, just to get on my nerves," Chagnon said.

She claims that because her son was under the influence of drugs and alcohol, he forgot he was holding onto the bottle opener at the time.

"He was having a relapse from his drug addiction," she continued, explaining that Favreau in the past has been treated for addiction to painkillers.

Chagnon said Favreau had taken "a bunch of hydrocodones throughout the day" and one pill of Klonopin, a medication used to treat panic disorders. She said he was also drinking 160-proof vodka while they watched the "American Idol" finale.

Chagnon, who said by the time of the alleged assault she had consumed five beers herself, told Plattsburgh City Police officers the night of Favreau's arrest that she did not want to press charges, claiming he had no intention of hurting her.

Hey, who can blame a guy for getting high watching "AI"? Do people actually watch that crap sober?

Today's quote

"I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use."

-- Galileo

Fun with numbers

Paul Porter was born on June 6. He was always good with numbers. He just didn't realize how good.

"A couple of weeks ago, I happened to think about the irony of 6-6-06. And I'll be 66 and I'm 6 feet, 6 inches."

The state of discourse

I try not to pay attention to rhetorical bomb throwers, much like I try to ignore screaming children. But you can't tell babies to shut up -- at least not out loud. No such reservations with pulp fiction author Ann Coulter.

Check out her take on 9/11 widows who criticize George W. (from this morning's "Today" show) --

"These broads are millionaires, lionized on TV and in articles about them, reveling in their status as celebrities and stalked by griefparrazis. I have never seen people enjoying their husband’s death so much."

Monday, June 05, 2006

At the 'Copa

Truly, I think this is a brilliant idea. The Aussies deserve an A+ for ingenuity:

In Britain, the Asbo is wielded to curtail the antics of hooligans. In Australia they have a different, though not necessarily more humane, means of control: the music of Barry Manilow.

For the next six months the ears of the youth of Rockdale, a suburb south of Sydney, will be subjected to the sounds of the singer's back catalogue after the local council resolved to get tough on antisocial behaviour. Councillors hope piping Manilow hits such as Mandy and Copacabana through a loudspeaker into a car park troublespot will kill the atmosphere and force the youths to move on.

Or they could ship them to Vegas and make them sit in on a Manilow show. Nah, too cruel.

Candy colored clown they call the sandman

Riding out the last hours before the Apocalypse, I count myself lucky to end on a really high note. No, I'm not referencing "Cheech and Chong" (not directly, anyway), but "In Dreams," a fantastic Roy Orbison documentary. My soul may be damned, but it will be soothed.

I didn't discover Orbison until my first viewing of "Blue Velvet." Sure, I had heard of him, but I was still at that age when anyone associated with the 1950s held no interest. But there was no ignoring the fact that "In Dreams" was inherently cool, regardless of its era. (By association, the scene in "Blue Velvet" framed by that song -- with Dean Stockwell's groupies dancing on top of a car -- rates as the coolest in filmdom.

"I thought all along it was going to be 'Crying' in 'Blue Velvet,'" said David Lynch, who changed his mind after buying an Orbison greatest hits cassette and hearing "In Dreams" for the first time. After that, "I completely forgot about 'Crying.'")

It remains my favorite Orbison song, with "Running Scared" close behind. As I watched the doc, songwriter Bernie Taupin clued me into something about the latter tune I had never considered -- there's no chorus. It thrives on Orbison's incomprable voice, a chrous in itself. It stands alone otherwise as being one of the few Orbison songs where Roy gets the girl.

As popular as "The Big O" was, imagine if he had looked, and moved, like Elvis, and vice-versa. No one would be going to Graceland; instead, the pilgrims would be headed to Vernon, Texas, birthplace of the greatest voice we'll ever know.

My Top 10 Orbison songs:

*"In Dreams"

*"Running Scared"



*"Love Hurts"

*"It's Over"

*"Blue Bayou"


*"The Crowd"


Only three hours left

Delicious coincidence, or evidence that we're living on heavily leveraged time. From an otherwise benign story about decreasing mortgage demand --

Borrowing costs on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages, excluding fees, averaged 6.66%, up 0.05 percentage point from the previous week, and matching a four-year high touched two weeks ago.

The real third rail

It ain't social security ...

It's the corruption, stupid! Lobbyists continue to control our politics, yet no one seems to give a damn. Sometimes, cliches are approrpiate -- we get the Congress we deserve. And American voters don't deserve much.

Members of the U.S. Congress and their aides took free trips worth nearly $50 million paid for by corporations, trade associations and other private groups between January 2000 and June 2005, according to a study released on Monday.

Some of the 23,000 trips featured $500-a-night hotel rooms, $25,000 corporate jet rides and visits to popular spots such as Paris, Hawaii and Colorado ski resorts, said the study, by the Center for Public Integrity, American Public Media and Northwestern University's Medill News Service.

"In many instances, trip sponsors appeared to be buying access to elected officials or their advisors," the study said.

While some excursions were legitimate fact-finding missions, others appeared to have been little more than "pricey vacations" wrapped around speeches or seminars in which the lawmaker was joined by family members, the study said.

The data emerged from a nine-month-long review of congressional travel disclosure forms and coincided with ongoing federal investigations of political corruption and efforts to clean up how Congress does business.

No surprise who took the most free trips:

Former House Majority Leader Rep. Tom DeLay and his staffers accepted about a half million dollars in trips during the period under review -- more than any other congressional office, the study said.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Bush's D-List

And you thought Hollywood was full of nothing but liberal Democrats ...

"George (Bush) is doing a hell of a job during very difficult times, more power to him. Screw all them people who don't like him."

--Mickey Rourke, who's starting to look a lot like his "Barfly" co-star Faye Dunaway, and vice-versa, after their respective stints under the surgeon's knife.

Actually, you could make a decent made-for-bad-cable movie with the cast of actors who stand with the president.

Bush's Tinsletown supporters include Danny Aiello, Dean Cain, Robert Conrad, Charlton Heston and Chuck Norris. The crop's a little thinner among actresses, so Bo Derek, Shannen Doherty and Heather Locklear will have to do.

I see a remake of the "The Towering Inferno" in their future.

Song for a Sunday night

"Mime Van Osen" by Rachel's, off the "Music for Egon Schiele" album.

Would've fit seamlessly within "Being There." I can't think of a finer compliment.

I can be a cruel SOB

Evidenced below, as I continue torturing your eyes with yet another glimpse of Carrot Top Piscopo --

Is this some strange attempt by yours truly to drive away my loyal readers? Might I actually consider posting a nude shot of Robin Williams bent over, spread eagle? Just how far will I go?

Worse than Robertson

The Rev. Pat makes for a convenient villain, and he's typically deserving of the label. But the Malcontent plays fair, and it's time to give the preacher with the massive glutes a break.

No such luck for James Dobson, who is starting to make his evangelical counterparts look like Mother Teresa in comparison --

Since its founding in 2001, the Swiss-based Global Fund has spent $2 billion on programs that offer medical treatment and education in 130 countries, according to a representative. The U.S. government has provided 30 percent of the public-private foundation's finances through 2005 and appropriated $445 million for 2006.

Some of the programs bankrolled through the Global Fund --- such as those that distribute condoms to prostitutes or provide clean needles to drug addicts --- have drawn fire from conservative evangelicals. Hard-line conservatives favor President Bush's policy of abstinence and emphasis on fidelity in marriage. Others take a more pragmatic approach and say that exporting Western morality to foreign countries is ineffective at best and calamitous at worst.

After the Senate passed a nonbinding budget amendment last March to increase the U.S. contribution to the Global Fund to $866 million in 2007, Dobson lambasted the international foundation, saying it promotes "legalized prostitution and all kinds of wickedness around the world." ...

The Global Fund released its own letter on May 24 that quoted Scripture, detailing the foundation's accomplishments and listing supportive signatures of prominent Christian leaders like Call to Renewal founder Jim Wallis, (Tony) Campolo and, yes, Pat Robertson. ...

"Robertson would be the first to admit that we don't agree on many issues. But there are certain issues that get people together all across the theological spectrum and this is one of them," said Campolo, who heads the Evangelical Association for the Promotion of Education.

Glad to see Robertson is at least somewhat rational in his approach to dealing with AIDS. Dobson, it appears, doesn't have a rational bone in his body.

Vote for Robinson: He's has kids, and his wrist is firm

The other day I spotlighted the audacious campaign techniques of Vernon Robinson, a Republican challenger for a House seat currently occuped by Brad Miller (D-NC).

Robinson, a five-time loser in North Carolina politics, charged that the incumbent "voted to allow ... illegals to burn the American flag while waving the Mexican flag."

According to a Robinson ad, Miller "sponsored a bill to let American homosexuals bring their foreign homosexual lovers to this country on a visa."

And there's more room in the Republican candidate's gutter --

Soon after winning the GOP primary in the 13th District in May, Robinson mailed literature to more than 400,000 households portraying Miller's voting record and personal life as being out of the mainstream.

Among many other things, the literature calls Miller a "childless, middle-aged personal injury lawyer." ...

Miller said his wife of nearly 25 years, Esther Hall, could not bear children because she had endometriosis and then a hysterectomy at age 27 before the couple were married.

Robinson said he brought up the Millers' childlessness in the broader context of showing that Miller was outside the mainstream. He said being childless might influence Miller's votes, citing Miller's opposition to providing vouchers to allow children in Washington, D.C., to attend private schools.

"Those were stated in the context to explain why he takes these lunatic positions," Robinson said. "If he had a child, he would not have voted against all the poor children of the District of Columbia who need to get out of the failing dangerous schools they were in."

The Robinson mailing also seeks to tie Miller to Markos Moulitsas Zuniga, a Californian who runs The Daily Kos, the nation's largest liberal Internet blog. The Robinson literature describes Moulitsas, who is a married Army veteran, as a "militant homosexual rights advocate" under the headline: "Brad Miller's San Francisco Soul Mate." ...

Miller said Robinson has a history of implying that his opponents are gay, noting that in 2004, he described GOP opponent Ed Broyhill as "limp wristed." (Robinson distributed a campaign letter quoting a woman calling Broyhill a "limp wristed millionaire.") Robinson said he was not questioning Miller's sexuality.

"I did not say the guy is a homosexual ...," Robinson said. "We were talking about the left-wing wacko friends he runs around with."

Despite the hatemongering, Robinson is getting plenty of support from Republican donors; two years ago he raised $3 million in an unsuccessful bid for Congress.

Republican humor

Granted, Al Gore takes himself way too seriously, and his global warming crusade is not without opportunistic hyperbole. That said, Gore has evidence on his side, and the Republican approach of mocking the alarmists instead of offering rational solutions to a growing crisis makes them all the more vulnerable to electoral catastrophe.

Freeze out cataclysmic environmental scare tactics with a little humor. The Oklahoma University College Republicans gave out free snow cones to students for an event they called "Global Cooling Day."

Stage an event like this one to grab the attention of your campus and raise awareness on the falsities of the global warming phenomenon. Engage with students and debunk some of the myths and cool the hyperbole surrounding the issue. ...

Prior to your "Global Cooling Day" event, arm your College Republican chapter with solid talking points on the issue, and then kick-back and enjoy the sun. The facts are on your side.

And where do those "talking points" come from?

Dr. Jay Lehr is an internationally known scientist, motivational speaker, and author. He is considered the world’s leading authority on groundwater hydrology. ... Dr. Lehr is Science Director for the Heartland Institute, a non-profit think tank based in Chicago, Illinois, and he’s ready to speak to your College Republican chapter.

I can't vouch for or debunk Lehr's qualifications, but when you combine motivational speaking with science I suspect ulterior motives. As in, pay me to disprove what you don't want to believe.

Have you hugger your Hummer today?

Friday, June 02, 2006

On Japanese and gingers

Desperate for a theme to reintroduce a most hypnotic song unheard by these ears in years -- although I pretty much memorized it over many LONG nights in Hollywood -- I turn again to that horrific picture of Carrot Top posted earlier.

The tune to which I refer: "In Particular," by Blonde Redhead. Get it -- redhead, Carrot Top? ... There's my balanced theme: bad redhead/Carrot Top, good redhead/Blonde Redhead.

"This Is Not" is another favorite off of "Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons," one of the best albums of 2000. I saw Blonde Redhead live in an intimate L.A. setting about five years ago and was hooked, although at the time I did have a considerable weakness for bands fronted by Japanese chanteuses (Melt Banana and Cibo Matto being the others, before Sean Lennon pulled a reverse Yoko and broke the up latter duo ... actually I don't know that to be true, but it has been six years since "Stereotype A.")

Tanned, rested and dead

A new Quinnipiac University poll places George W. Bush atop the list of worst American presidents since 1945.

When you beat Nixon two-to-one in this race, you got troubles.

Bush is named by 34 percent of voters, followed by Richard Nixon at 17 percent and Bill Clinton at 16 percent.

The current president is ranked worst by 56 percent of Democrats, 35 percent of independent voters and 7 percent of Republicans, the poll finds.

Among young voters, 42 percent list Bush as worst. Clinton tops the "worst" list among white Protestants - 24 percent, and white evangelical Christians - 29 percent.

Slippery slope

What's next, same-sex marriage?

A woman who fell in love with a snake has reportedly married the reptile at a traditional Hindu wedding celebrated by 2,000 guests in India's Orissa state.

Bimbala Das wore a silk saree for the ceremony Wednesday at Atala village near the Orissa state capital Bhubaneswar.

Priests chanted mantras to seal the union, but the snake failed to come out of a nearby ant hill where it lives, the Press Trust of India (PTI) said.

A brass replica snake stood in for the hesitant groom.

"Though snakes cannot speak nor understand, we communicate in a peculiar way," Das, 30, told the agency.

"Whenever I put milk near the ant hill where the cobra lives, it always comes out to drink.

"I always get to see it every time I go near the ant hill. It has never harmed me," she added. ...

Das has moved into a hut built close to the ant hill since the wedding.

Earlier this year, a tribal girl was married off to a dog on the outskirts of Bhubaneswar.

By the way, homosexuality is still technically illegal in India.

***As menacing as the happy groom looks, a shirtless Carrot Top (see below) frightens me more.

I wish I was blind

Apparently Carrot Top is on the Barry Bonds diet.

Guess he's following the career path of Joe Piscopo, another alleged comic turned musclehead. Wonder when Gallagher will start hitting the weights?

Hecklers beware.

Greetings from hell

Send your checks to Focus on the Family, care of James Dobson. The fate of mankind depends on your generous contribution --

On Tuesday, during his daily radio show, "Family News in Focus," Focus on the Family Chairman James Dobson said: " you all very well know, marriage is under vicious attack now, I think from the forces of hell itself. And it's either going to continue to decline, and as I told you in my office a few minutes ago, I believe with that destruction of marriage will come the decline of Western civilization itself....We're really in a crisis point, right now, right now...where the family is either going to survive or it's going to fall apart and it will happen in the next few years...." In the past, Dobson has said same-sex marriage will destroy the U.S., destroy the earth, and is more important than the war on terror. He also has compared marriage equality advocates to Hitler and the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Will that kind of over-the-top rhetoric work? Sadly, it has a winning track record.

Boycott of the week

Hopefully American journalists will join in. I'll do my part -- and since I don't use Yahoo already, it shouldn't be much of a challenge.

The union representing journalists in the UK and Ireland called on its 40,000 members to boycott all Yahoo Inc. products and services to protest the Internet company's reported actions in China.

The National Union of Journalists said it sent a letter on Friday to Dominique Vidal, Yahoo Europe's vice president, denouncing the company for allegedly providing information to Chinese authorities about journalists. The union also said it would stop using all Yahoo-operated services.

Yahoo has been cited in court decisions as supplying China's government with information to help them identify, prosecute and jail writers advocating democracy.

"The NUJ regards Yahoo!'s actions as a completely unacceptable endorsement of the Chinese authorities," wrote Jemima Kiss, chairman of the NUJ new media council in the letter to Vidal.

Heaven help me. I love a psychotic!

If only Eve Harrington had thought of a stunt like this, she wouldn't have had to sleep with creepy theater critic Addison DeWitt --

A Texas teenager angling for the lead role in a school play is facing charges that she spiked a competing actress's drink with Clorox. Katherine Smith, 18, was arrested this week and hit with a felony rap for tampering with a consumer product (in this case a bottle of Mountain Dew she gave to a 15-year-old rival). According to a Tarrant County arrest warrant, a copy of which you'll find below, Smith was the understudy of the teen victim in a play called "Ha."

Thursday, June 01, 2006

George Bernard Shaw gives good quote

More wisdom from the famed dramatist and literary critic --

"The power of accurate observation is frequently called cynicism by those who don't have it."

Vote for Robinson: He hates fags and Mexicans

It's an arch example, but one you're sure to hear repeated -- a bit more subtly, I suspect -- in congressional races around the country.

Republican challenger Vernon Robinson has a new campaign ad alleging that incumbent Brad Miller (D-NC) "voted to allow ... illegals to burn the American flag while waving the Mexican flag."

Surely you remember the "amnesty for flag burning illegals" bill?

And it gets worse. According to the ad, Miller "sponsored a bill to let American homosexuals bring their foreign homosexual lovers to this country on a visa."

It concludes, "(i)f Miller had his way America would be nothing but one big fiesta for illegal aliens and homosexuals. But if you elect Vernon Robinson, that party's over."

I bet he's soft on pedophile illegals, too. Somewhere, Lester Maddox and Orval Faubus are offering hearty attaboys.

Listen to the full ad here. Note the oh-so-clever use of a mariachi band in the background.

More than this

Homosexuality is but one facet in the debate over the proposed federal marriage amendment. Much more is at stake than simply outlawing same-sex unions.

Will literalist religious dogma dictate our laws? Are conservatives going to be true to their historical ideology of limited government and state supremacy or bow to the inconsistent ideology (see: Terri Schiavo) of the fundamentalist right? Odds are against the FMA passing, but those in the middle will face intense pressure from the likes of Dobson and Falwell. It'll be a fascinating process to observe, one that will reveal much about the future of the conservative movement.

Blogger and law professor Dale Carpenter presents a convincing, and sober, argument against the amendment --

A person who opposes same-sex marriage on policy grounds can and should also oppose a constitutional amendment foreclosing it, on grounds of federalism, confidence that opponents will prevail without an amendment, or a belief that public policy issues should only rarely be determined at the constitutional level.

There are four main arguments against the FMA. First, a constitutional amendment is unnecessary because federal and state laws, combined with the present state of the relevant constitutional doctrines, already make court-ordered nationwide same-sex marriage unlikely for the foreseeable future. An amendment banning same-sex marriage is a solution in search of a problem.

Second, a constitutional amendment defining marriage would be a radical intrusion on the nation's founding commitment to federalism in an area traditionally reserved for state regulation, family law. There has been no showing that federalism has been unworkable in the area of family law.

Third, a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage would be an unprecedented form of amendment, cutting short an ongoing national debate over what privileges and benefits, if any, ought to be conferred on same-sex couples and preventing democratic processes from recognizing more individual rights.

Fourth, the amendment as proposed is constitutional overkill that reaches well beyond the stated concerns of its proponents, foreclosing not just courts but also state legislatures from recognizing same-sex marriages and perhaps other forms of legal support for same-sex relationships. Whatever one thinks of same-sex marriage as a matter of policy, no person who cares about our Constitution and public policy should support this unnecessary, radical, unprecedented, and overly broad departure from the nation's traditions and history.

Movies worth seeing: hypermasculine edition

"Straw Dogs" is an opera of violence, ambiguity and macho bullshit, but brilliant nonetheless. Renowned critic Pauline Kael called it "the first American film that is a fascist work of art." I'm still not sure what legendary director Sam Peckinpah was trying to say with this movie, but its fascinating from beginning to end.

Ardent feminists may want to avoid it; Peckinpah lets loose with the misogny here, as he so often does, though much of it is directed towards Dustin Hoffman's neutered mathematician.

Banned for many years in the UK, "Straw Dogs" was "much influenced by Robert Ardrey's macho-anthropological tract, The Territorial Imperative. Its take on Cornish village life is fairly bizarre -- this is a Western in all but name -- and many critics balked at the transposition of Peckinpah's trademark blood-and-guts to the supposed peace of the British countryside. A scene where Amy is raped caused particular outrage, not least since it's hinted she consents to it."

Peckinpah may have a warped take on sexuality, but he's a master filmmaker, badly missed in this era of metrosexual action directors such as Michael Bay and, gag, McG.

Gettin' Whiggy

Outside of the most partisan Democrats and Republicans, I'd wager there's a consensus in America that a third party is needed. Count former Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan among a growing majority:

Right now the Republicans and Democrats in Washington seem, from the outside, to be an elite colluding against the voter. They're in agreement: immigration should not be controlled but increased, spending will increase, etc.
Are there some dramatic differences? Yes. But both parties act as if they see them not as important questions (gay marriage, for instance) but as wedge issues. Which is, actually, abusive of people on both sides of the question. If it's a serious issue, face it. Don't play with it.

I don't see any potential party, or potential candidate, on the scene right now who can harness the disaffection of growing portions of the electorate. But a new group or entity that could define the problem correctly--that sees the big divide not as something between the parties but between America's ruling elite and its people--would be making long strides in putting third party ideas in play in America again.

The dangers of "American Idol"

This story reminds me of the time I was arguing with a friend over the future of former "AI" runner-up Justin Guarini. He predicted stardom for the former Atlanta police chief's son, so I hit him over the head with a jagged wooden plank.

Otherwise, this fulfills my agenda to reprint as much negative press about "American Idol" as possible.

A Plattsburgh man is facing felony charges for allegedly striking his mother in the head with a sharp object hooked to a bicycle chain after she made a comment about "American Idol."

Cory K. Favreau, 24, of 200A Margaret St. was discussing the television show "American Idol" with his mother, Jan M. Chagnon, on May 24 at about 10:15 p.m., according to Plattsburgh City Court records.

At that time, Chagnon told Favreau that a particular contestant, Katharine McPhee, was going to have a successful career despite losing to another contestant, Taylor Hicks.

Favreau allegedly stood up, made a malicious comment to his mother and struck her in the head with a sharpened, cross-shaped object attached to a bicycle chain.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Christian right overload

I'll make a deal with the fundamentalist crowd -- stop giving me so much material and I'll stop writing about you.

The following vividly demonstrates the cost of dissent within the Christian right:

In his consulting room in a suburb of Montgomery, Alabama, gastrologist Randy Brinson is a worried man. A staunch Republican and devout Baptist, Dr Brinson can claim substantial credit for getting George Bush re-elected in 2004. It was his Redeem the Vote initiative that may have persuaded up to 25 million people to turn out for President Bush. Yet his wife is receiving threats from anonymous conservative activists warning her husband to stay away from politics.

"They've been calling my house, threatening my wife," said Dr Brinson. "The first time was on a day when I was going up to Washington to speak to Republicans in Congress. Only they knew I'd be away from home. The Republicans were advised not to turn up to listen to me, so only three did so."

The reason he has fallen foul of men whose candidate he helped re-elect is that he has dared to question the partisan tactics of the religious right. "Conservatives speak in tones that they have got power and they can do what they want. Only 23% of the population embraces those positions but if someone questions their mandate or wants to articulate a different case, for the moderate right, they are totally ridiculed."

In his office in Washington DC, Rich Cizik, vice-president of the National Association of Evangelicals, the largest such umbrella group in the US, is also feeling battered. His mistake has been to become interested in the environment, and he has been told that is not on the religious right's agenda.

Mr Cizik, an ordained minister of the Evangelical Presbyterian church and otherwise impeccably conservative on social issues such as abortion, stem-cell research and homosexuality, believes concern for the environment arises from Biblical injunctions about the stewardship of the Earth. The movement's political leadership, however, sees the issue as a distraction from its main tactical priorities: getting more conservatives on the supreme court, banning gay marriages and overturning Roe v Wade, the 1973 abortion ruling.

"It is supposed to be counterproductive even to consider this. I guess they do not want to part company with the president. This is nothing more than political assassination. I may lose my job. Twenty-five church leaders asked me not to take a political position on this issue but I am a fighter," he said.

Another Washington lobbyist on the religious right told the Guardian: "Rich is just being stupid on this issue. There may be a debate to be had but ... people can only sustain so many moral movements in their lifetime. Is God really going to let the Earth burn up?"

Well if that's the case, why worry about Iran getting nukes? After all, God wouldn't let the Earth burn up, would he?

Cash quote: "I would rather put my .38 pistol in a child's room than put a computer or a television set there. The devil's crowd is working how to get to your children," declared Brother Richard Emmett in his Mothering Sunday sermon, broadcast to audiences in eastern Tennessee.

My penis made me do it

A man serving a life sentence for the murder of his wife is asking a federal judge to order the state to pay for a sex-change operation for him, saying that denying him the surgery amounts to cruel and unusual punishment.

A psychiatrist testified Tuesday that he believes Robert Kosilek will kill himself if state correction officials refuse to allow the surgery and Kosilek is unable to complete his transformation into a woman.

Kosilek, 57, was convicted of strangling his wife, Cheryl, in 1990.

I prefer the suicide option. If LBGT activists start lobbying for Kosilek's right to become Roberta, I give up. Sadly, I suspect some will.

Kosilek sued the Department of Correction for the second time last year, saying that numerous psychiatrists who had examined him -- including two of the DOC's own experts -- had determined that a sex- change operation is "medically necessary."

"We ask that gender identity disorder be treated like any other medical condition," said Kosilek's attorney, Frances Cohen.

Kick me out of the club if you like, but gender identity disorder is not like any other medical condition, particularly if you're a convicted murderer.

First grade felon

Zero tolerance strikes again, as stupidity continues to reign within our public education system --

A 6-year-old special education student who kicked a Naples teacher's aide and spent several hous in juvenile jail is facing felony battery charges. ...

Takovia Allen suffers from behavioral problems and attends a special class at Lely Elementary in Naples.

According to an arrest report, on May 2, a teacher was trying to line up students to go to music class. Takovia refused to go and kicked the teacher's aide in the ankle.

After a discussion among school officials and two law enforcement officials called to the school, the girl was arrested.

Takovia was taken to juvenile jail and held there for several hours before being released to her mother.

She is being charged with battery on a public education employee.

It's possible she will enter a program that includes counseling. If she completes the program successfully the charges could be dropped.

I suggest the school officials and cops who made the decision to arrest the six-year-old be required to enter counseling.

Can Jesus throw a curveball?

Fascinating story in the USA TODAY about baseball's Colorado Rockies, who are seeking divine intervention to reverse the franchise's porous history.

On the field, the Rockies are trying to make the playoffs for the first time in 11 seasons and only the second time in their 14-year history. Behind the scenes, they quietly have become an organization guided by Christianity — open to other religious beliefs but embracing a Christian-based code of conduct they believe will bring them focus and success.

From ownership on down, it's an approach the Rockies are proud of — and something they are wary about publicizing. "We're nervous, to be honest with you," Rockies general manager Dan O'Dowd says. "It's the first time we ever talked about these issues publicly. The last thing we want to do is offend anyone because of our beliefs."

So I guess God has been a Yankees fan all these years. Could he be changing allegiance?

"You look at things that have happened to us this year," O'Dowd says. "You look at some of the moves we made and didn't make. You look at some of the games we're winning. Those aren't just a coincidence. God has definitely had a hand in this."

As opposed to player development, smart free agent signings and judicious trades. And here I thought John Schuerholz was responsible for the Braves' success.

You have to wonder how other major leaguers feel about playing in Colorado. What about Jewish players? Think Sandy Koufax would've been comfortable in the Rockies chapel, er, clubhouse?

"They have a great group of guys over there, but I've never been in a clubhouse where Christianity is the main purpose," says San Francisco Giants first baseman-outfielder Mark Sweeney, a veteran of seven organizations who spent 2003 and 2004 with the Rockies. "You wonder if some people are going along with it just to keep their jobs."

"Look, I pray every day," Sweeney says. "I have faith. It's always been part of my life. But I don't want something forced on me. Do they really have to check to see whether I have a Playboy in my locker?"

Let's put it this way: I'd take nine Babe Ruths over nine evangelicals between the lines any day.

Interesting irony: the Rockies play their home games in Coors -- as in beer, as in Lucifer Juice -- Field.

Hide the children

Better sedate Hannity and Limbaugh. Now they're singing the Spanish version of the "The Star-Spangled Banner" at Ellis Island --

"We chose Ellis Island because of the obvious symbolism it has for the whole American immigrant experience," said New York-based British music producer Adam Kidron.

Kidron, 46, provoked a heated debate last month when his recording label, Urban Box Office (UBO), released "Nuestro Himno" (Our Anthem), a Spanish version of "The Star-Spangled Banner" which he hoped would become a rallying song for protest marches against immigration reform.

Shouldn't we be happy someone actually wants to sing the anthem, the most lyrically tortured of all national theme songs (and the most metrosexual ... "spangled?!?")?

Might as well call it "The Star-Bedazzled Banner."