May 20, 2005

Just asking...who is Kylie Minogue?

May 19, 2005

Santorum Time: It's about time someone went after those little Eichmans in the Senate supporting the filibuster....
Ed Wood Lives: That howlingly bad script Julie Delpy was pitching about the legendary Countess Bathory last year is finally set to come to life, starring the bland/blonde French actress, who will also make her directorial debut, and her frequent screen collaborator, Ethan Hawke.

May 18, 2005

Credit Where It's Due: Here's one area where No Child Left Behind has been an unqualified success....
Almost four years ago, less than a week after 9/11, Andrew Sullivan made this especially disturbing attack on the patriotically incorrect:
The middle part of the country - the great red zone that voted for Bush - is clearly ready for war. The decadent Left in its enclaves on the coasts is not dead - and may well mount what amounts to a fifth column. But by striking at the heart of New York City, the terrorists ensured that at least one deep segment of the country ill-disposed toward a new president is now the most passionate in his defense.
As someone who lives in one of those coastal enclaves (Los Angeles) and matriculated at another (Berkeley), I took that very personally. Having studied American history, I knew that civil liberties are often a casualty of war, and Sullivan's broadside set off alarms to those of us who were not willing to bow down unquestioningly at the feet of our Maximum Leader. The sentiments expressed in that column was one of the reasons I decided to start this website back in April of 2002.

Having said that, I cannot think of anything that is less important to the issues of 1) Gay civil rights; 2) our use of torture and human rights deprivations at Abu Ghraib, G-mo and elsewhere; 3) the efforts by the Bush Administration to quash the free press when it attempts to look behind the curtains; 4) the troubling state of the Catholic Church, and its declining moral relevance; and 5) whatever else he may be expounding on this week, than what Andrew Sullivan wrote four days after the collapse of the Towers. Certainly, Sullivan's opinions carry no greater weight by how far he has apparently traveled in the past four years, but neither are his eloquent opinions on the above issues diminished in any way by what he said just after the Towers collapsed.

OK, so he had a louder megaphone than the rest of us did four years ago, and in the heat of the moment, he was too quick to find a scapegoat. Like so many other people, he was hopeful when he should have been skeptical, and he got suckered by the Bushies. All of that might be an interesting chapter to his biography, but it also just so happens that the GayCatholicTory is writing the most interesting s*** in the blogosphere lately. What he said four years ago should be no more germane to the present topics than Earl Warren's support for the internment of the Japanese during WWII was at the time of the Brown decision, or Robert Byrd's opinions on civil rights six decades ago are during today's filibuster debate. Grow up.
The Good German: Glenn Reynolds defends the soft-on-torture position.

May 17, 2005

L.A. Mayor: Absentee returns give Villaraigosa a narrow margin (<3%) over Hahn. A bit of a surprise, considering that the polls consistently gave the challenger a double-digit lead over the incumbent, but it still seems likely Los Angeles will have a new Mayor. The L.A. Times has a group blog covering the election, and Villaraigosa has the support of Hugh Hewitt, who feels Antonio V. is a nice, charismatic guy who will get clobbered in any gubernatorial run.

UPDATE: About a quarter of the vote is in, and Villaraigosa now has a 16+% lead. It's over.
The most frustrating type of fandom is to be an American fan of a British stage actress. If she's really good at what she does, she will spend her career doing plays at the West End, or the odd TV-movie for Channel Four, and never feel the need to go Hollywood or do anything that will make its way to my small corner of the world. While less-talented performers will come over to this country, become stars, and fade away into obscurity after their fortieth birthday, she'll be perfecting her craft, playing for the long haul.

Thus, the bittersweet discovery this week that the woman pictured at the top right corner of my website, Phoebe Nicholls, is set to appear in a play opening at the Hampstead Theatre in London, commencing in mid-June. No movies, no TV, as far as I can tell, just a performance in the one medium I have absolutely no access to, thousands of miles away. Any true fanatical interest in the work of an actor or director, whether great or mediocre, compels a desire to be a completist, to see anything and everything he's done, in order to gain a more detailed perspective of his career, to compare performances, but mainly just to indulge some idiosyncratic weirdness in oneself. Yet with Mrs. Sturridge, I can't see the one avenue in which she has most excelled; its almost like having access only to Shakespeare's sonnets, and not his plays. Sigh.

Lord, I'm pathetic....
Andrew Sullivan calls Scotty McLellan's bluff on G-mo.
It's easy to forget how stupid the Far Right is, especially when they always seem to win national elections. They do seem to have a knack for appealing to base public sentiments, and I suppose religious demogoguery does entail a certain genius, but when it comes to the actual skills necessary to govern, these people just don't have it.

Witness the on-going tour de farce concerning the Senate sub-committee investigating the "Oil-for-Food Scandal". The investigation, designed to score cheap political points against the U.N. (wow, there's corruption in the Middle East; who knew?), has now completely boomeranged. This morning's revelation by the committee that more than half of the money went to American oil companies, and was signed off by the Bush Administration, has finally caught the attention of the media. And as if that wasn't bad enough, today was the day that Loony Left M.P. George Galloway was called to testify in open session about allegations he personally received kickbacks from Saddam. There was only one problem: the committee was relying on evidence that seems to have originated from the same mill that produced the Killian Documents. Quote the Beeb:
[A] spokesman for Mr Galloway's Respect party told a press conference the document used by the Senate hearing was a forgery. The spokesman said: "The actual first document, we don't know where it is, they don't know where it is and all they have is a photocopy handed over by an unnamed source." Typographical analysis showed Mr Galloway's name was in a different typeface, a lighter shade and at a different angle to the rest of the document, he said. The spokesman suggested Mr Galloway's name had been stuck to the bottom of the list, and the document photocopied. He also cited testimony from an Iraqi who claimed he forged lists of people who profited from the oil for food scheme.
Galloway, who won a libel suit against the Daily Telegraph after revealing a similar scam, then tore the sub-committee chairman, Norman Coleman, a new one, before forcing the rest of the Republicans to strip naked and stacked into a human pyramid.
Hey, look who's got a blog...just in time, too. [link via WOC]

May 16, 2005

Query: Isn't the fact that the Bushies are "categorically" denying the Flushed Koran story strong evidence that the allegations are true? They haven't told the truth about anything else....

UPDATE: More examples of the allegation that predate the Newsweek story, here, here, and here. I don't know if this story is true, or if it is an Islamic version of the urban myth that war protesters spat on returning vets after Vietnam, but I do believe that the publishers of Newsweek should politely tell Scott McClellan where to shove his demands for a full retraction.

UPDATE [II]: TalkLeft has an even more thorough review of the allegations, all published before Newsweek ran its story, that should give the soft-on-torture crowd some pause.
Attn. Nerds This morning brings four pivotal reviews for Revenge of the Sith: the LA Times (qualified thumbs-up), the New Yorker (pan), the NY Times (full-throated rave), and Newsweek (ditto).
The problem with using Newsweek's entirely honorable correction of its story that the Pentagon was about to admit in a report that some of its soldiers had flushed the Koran down the toilet during interrogation of POW's, as yet another excuse for lib'rul media bashing, is that the story has been around for some time:

Afghan men freed today after spending months in legal limbo as U.S. prisoners in the war on terrorism said they were generally well-fed and given medical care, but housed in cramped cells and sometimes shackled, hit and humiliated.


Some of the men released today were close-shaven, but most kept their beards. The men who wore their beards in the long fashion of the Taliban complained most about poor treatment at the hands of Americans and insults against Islam. Ehsannullah, 29, said American soldiers who initially questioned him in Kandahar before shipping him to Guantanamo hit him and taunted him by dumping the Koran in a toilet. "It was a very bad situation for us," said Ehsannullah, who comes from the home region of the Taliban leader, Mohammad Omar. "We cried so much and shouted, 'Please do not do that to the Holy Koran.'"

Merza Khan, who had been captured in northern Afghanistan while fighting for the Taliban, said Americans in Kandahar tied him up and alternately forced him to lie face down on the ground, then squat with his hands on his head for hours. He also said he saw American soldiers throw the Koran on the ground and sit on it while in Kandahar. (emphasis mine)

--Washington Post, March 26, 2003 [link via Atrios/Avedon Carol]

May 15, 2005

Atlanta 5, Los Angeles [N] 1: Disappointing night at my first trip to the Stadium this season. Probably the best seats I've ever been legally allowed to sit in (field level, right behind home plate) merely gave me the opportunity to witness a boring, uneventful loss. Eric Gagne made his seasonal debut, allowed back-to-back home runs to the Jones Boys to start the ninth inning, then struck out the side. Julio Franco, who no doubt roomed with Otis Nixon and Cool Papa Bell in the old Negro Leagues, stole a base off the pathetic Jason Phillips. Celebrity spottings: Pat Sajak, Dodger exec Howard Sunkin*, the B.P.L.A., and "TV's Shane", Walt Goggins. No cannabis, gang tats, or drunken, belligerent, shirtless fans, but otherwise, a routine night at the ballpark.

*Classmate of author, Harvard H.S. '81.