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June 06, 2005

Six Feet Under Finally Returns!

By Andrew Dobbs

It has been almost a year, but it will be worth the wait. Television's best drama, HBO's Six Feet Under, is finally back. I had heard good things for a long time, but finally started watching last season and I was hooked. If you can watch an episode of two of the ongoings of the Fisher and Diaz Funeral Home and not want to see the entire season (it's last, sadly), you are a stronger person than I am.

Show starts at 8 PM Central on HBO. Get the skinny on the characters here (though their bios skip over the last season), and catch up on old episodes here. And if anyone calls me between 8 and 9, do not expect an answer.

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June 05, 2005

The Tooncinator

By Jim Dallas

Perhaps a little late, since everyone's already seen the Revenge of the Sith, but here's one more cheap shot at the folks, both right and left (examples here, here, and here) who went bonkers over Star Wars being "anti-Bush."

To be sure, George Lucas made a few comments which added fuel to the fire (perhaps knowing that it would sell movie tickets), but given that the entire back-story for Star Wars was kicking around in Lucas's head thirty years ago, it's perhaps a bit of a stretch to read the movie as a critique of the Bush administration. Sometimes, a cigar is just a cigar.

That said, I found this old Saturday Night Live skit (episode guide | windows video), which while conceived and written fifteen years ago is nonetheless clearly a political statement about the current conflict between the moderate, Schwarzenegger wing of the GOP and the religious right wing lead by Senate Majority Leader Bill "Pussy Cat" Frist.

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June 01, 2005

The Da Vinci Code and Christianity in America

By Andrew Dobbs

This has nothing to do with politics, but I felt that we should have a post today. I love writing for this blog because it offers me the opportunity to speak my mind on a variety of subjects.

Right now I am reading William Faulkner's masterful The Sound and the Fury in part because I had never read it (I'm not much of a novel reader), but largely to make up for the literary sin I committed this weekend. This weekend I read the best-selling hardback novel in history-- Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code. It was just sitting there and I was bored, so I innocently picked it up. And though it was atrocious, something about it kept me reading. Perhaps it was the fact that I could read the thing in two sittings and I wanted to see what all of the hype was about. All I can say is that it is the absolute worst book I have ever read cover-to-cover.

To begin, the writing is horrendous at best. Written to a 6th grade reading level with all the literary power of a Harlequin Romance Novel, The Da Vinci Code has a paucity of character development and is filled with two and three page chapters full of "excitement." The characters are supposed to be among the most brilliant people around-- a Harvard professor, a French crack cryptologyist and a former British Royal Historian-- who are so incredibly inane that you feel yourself screaming at them when they fail to solve one of the puzzles for a dozen pages. The prose is vile, the story unbelievable, the pace paradoxically frenetic and boring at the same time. It is filler, a book for an air plane that will occupy your time coasting over the Atlantic and will fit nicely in a trash can once you reach your destination.

But the writing is not what worries me. It is the fact that this book is seen as a masterpiece by a whole class of undereducated Oprah-lovers across middle America. Apparantly the book's outlandish claims regarding Christianity are shaking the faith of these once good Christians. You see, the basic crux of the book is that members of Opus Dei-- a real-life conservative Catholic group-- are murdering members of a secret society known as the Priory of Sion (also real, but rather than going back to the Middle Ages it was most likely started in the 1950s or so) in order to get at the Holy Grail. So far, so contrived. But Brown shakes things up by cribbing heavily from the 1980s book Holy Blood, Holy Grail which claims that the Holy Grail isn't actually a cup, but is in fact the "vessel of Christ"-- his wife Mary Magdalene, who gave birth to his child and whose bloodline exists to this day-- and that they wish to return the world to a time of Goddess worship. This worship apparantly flourished in early Christianity, which did not view Christ as divine until the EEEEEVIL Council of Nicea in AD 325 pulled a fast one and made Jesus god, destroyed the "true" gospels which claimed that he was just a dude kickin' it with his wife Mary and brutally snuffed out Goddess worship.

Now, this story is so clearly fictional that you would think that no one could POSSIBLY believe it. But you would be wrong. Brown made his book a bit more interesting by putting a page in the front that says "FACT" and proceeds to inform us that all of the history in the book is accurate. And since many Americans will only read a history book if it has the word "NOVEL" plastered on the front of it and is sold in an airport, people are starting to believe it. The New York Times reported on April 27, 2004 (the article is no longer available online, I found it on Lexis-Nexis):

One reader, Rob Bellinger, 22, who was raised Catholic and attended Jesuit schools in New York City, read ''The Da Vinci Code'' and said, ''I don't believe it's 100 percent factual, but it did get me thinking about a lot of things.''

For example, Mr. Bellinger said, ''if you just look at the contemporary church, it's really hard not to raise questions,'' like why no women are priests. (...)

There is evidence that Mr. Brown's novel may be shaping the beliefs of a generation that is famously biblically illiterate. Michael S. Martin, a high school French teacher in Burlington, Vt., said he decided to read the novel when he noticed that his students were reading it in Harry Potter proportions.

''We like conspiracy theories, so whether it's J.F.K. or Jesus, people want to think there's something more than what they are telling us -- the they in this case being the church,'' Mr. Martin said. ''The church has a long and documented history of really trying to crush the whole feminine side, the pagan side. I think that's really hard to debate.''

Alright, now for the people who are as stupid as these two guys. Brown claims that before the fourth century there were no writings that claimed the divinity of Christ. I'm sure that would have surprised Paul, who was a contemporary of the original apostles and a prominent leader of the early Church. His epistles predate the gospels and were written from about AD 48-62 (with several attributed to him probably written after his death in the late first and early second centuries) and are chock full of references to Christ's deity. So for Christians worried that that evil woman-hating sonofabitch Constantine foisted Christ's divinity on all of us, don't worry-- Christ's contemporaries were claiming the same thing long before then.

Secondly, the claims that Mary Magdalene and Jesus were married has scant evidence in its favor. Holy Blood, Holy Christ was based largely on documents from French archives that turned out (unbeknownst to the authors) to be hoaxes. There are two or three passages in non-canonical gospels discovered in the Dead Sea Scrolls and at Nag Hammadi that claim she was his "companion." Yet these same documents also say at one point that women must "make themselves male" to enter heaven (a ridiculous and meaningless verse that largely explains why these books were rejected from the canon) and say absolutely nothing about their bearing a child. The books that were chosen for the canon were the ones most widely used among Christians already. Furthermore, a quick read of non-canonical gospels will make it clear that they are full of ridiculous statements and contradictory information. It had nothing to do with Constantine's efforts to eliminate goddess worship.

So don't worry fellow Christians, Dan Brown is a fiction-writer. He is a very bad at it, yet mysteriously successful. You can go back to church, I promise it is not a gigantic millenia-long hoax based on suppressing women. The book reminded me of another wildly popular yet atrocious book from a few years back-- The Celestine Prophecy (bet you hadn't thought about THAT one in a while). The fact of the matter is that every few years some piece of horrendously written New Age clap-trap hits the shelves and a bunch of overweight and undereducated housewives in sweatpants and sensible shoes run out to read it up between loads of laundry and episodes of their favorite soap operas. In four or five years everyone will have forgotten The Da Vinci Code and will be replaced with some other over-hyped piece of garbage. The whole thing is much more a sign of the apocolypse than any dramatic murders in the middle of the Louvre, and unfortunately a bunch of middle school level word puzzles won't save us all this time.

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May 24, 2005

Revenge of the Sith

By Andrew Dobbs

WARNING: the following film review contains excessive dorkiness and a few spoilers. Still, as one writer I saw noted, if you don't know what happens in Revenge of the Sith, you probably were surprised by the ending of Passion of the Christ.

I've been meaning to write this post for a couple of days now, as I saw Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith for the first time on Saturday. Yes, for the first time as I went to see it yet again on Sunday night. I hope I get to see it a time or two more on the big screen, as this film is easily the best Star Wars feature since The Empire Strikes Back and lightyears away from the first two prequels, which were staggering in their awfulness and devastating in their disappointment.

Revenge of the Sith is much like Empire in that they both end darkly. At the end of Empire, the Federation has been weakened by a resurgent Galactic Empire, Luke Skywalker is maimed by Darth Vader who promptly informs him that he is his father. The likelihood that peace and freedom will return to the galaxy and balance returned to the Force looks grim indeed. In this film, the "Chosen One"-- Anakin Skywalker-- allows his jealousy, selfishness, self-doubt and anger to turn him to the Dark Side, being crowned Darth Vader by the Chancellor (soon thereafter Emporer) Palpatine, aka Darth Sidious, before participating in some unspeakable crimes. The darkness of the film gives it a far more serious feel and less artificial tone than the last two films, and since the struggle is largely internal the over-the-top lightsaber battles are frequently punctuated by compelling dialogue.

That's right, I said "compelling dialogue", something the last two films were criminally lacking. Indeed, there are some flops of lines-- virtually all of the exchanges between Anakin and Padme are wooden and slightly embarassing-- but the performances of the superb Ian McDiarmind (the Emporer) and Ewan McGregor (Obi-Wan Kenobi) and the fantastic direction of a much more interesting Hayden Christiansen (Anakin/Vader) more than make up for these shortfalls.

I will say, however, that Lucas depends far too much on technical wizardry. Shortly after I saw the movie on Saturday I watched the original Star Wars (heretofore known as A New Hope, the episode's title) and the difference in the films was stark. Where the lightsaber battles in the new films are so fast paced they are practically epileptic, the ultimate battle in New Hope between Vader and Kenobi was subdued and classic. While the dogfighting scenes in the new films are cluttered with thousands of computer-generated bits of irrelevance, the old films had a simple and conservative look that made the scenes that much more compelling. And because the landscapes of the far off worlds of the original trilogy had to be so simplistic the writing and acting took on greater meaning. Lucas has made a great film in Sith, but it takes about 45 minutes to get good. Before that you feel the same dread you felt sitting in Phantom Menace or Attack of the Clones; afterwards you feel the excitement of the original films-- particularly New Hope and Empire. Were I Lucas' boss, I would have started out by cutting the special effects budget by about 75% and told him to find a way to make it work. The film would have been the best of all the films. As it stands, I'd say it is probably the third best-- significantly behind Empire and New Hope but slightly ahead of Jedi (the film where Lucas began his habit of substituting special effects for plot).

Briefly, there has been some talk of the politics of the movie. I think that Lucas tries too hard to quickly slip an anti-Bush message into the movie. My biggest problem is that he handles it poorly-- he could have easily made it the tale of a power-hungry leader undermining traditional democratic institutions in order to establish a brutal colonial order across the galaxy and the liberal-minded Jedi fighting him off. Instead, he takes the same old storyline (with few parallels to today's situation) and tries to throw in some one-liners that fall flat. Padme's tearful rejoinder as the Galactic Senate cheers on Palpatine's grasp for power of "So this is how freedom dies: to thunderous applause" is gripping; but when Anakin says that "if you aren't with me you are my enemy" and Obi-Wan responds that "only a Sith thinks in absolutes" seems to go against the grain of the story. The Jedi are fearless defenders of liberty and the light side of the force against the encroachments of the Dark Side. That seems pretty absolutist to me. Rather, Lucas should have either left the politics at the door (the best option) or had him respond with something to the effect of "I will proudly be called the enemy of the Dark Side." The message is muddled and unnecessary.

In the end, the film is interesting, morally complex, emotionally engaging and exciting. I would recomend it to all fans of the series. It will restore your faith in the series after the previous two dreadful movies and get your blood pumping for the beautiful mythology of the Star Wars story. May the Force be with you.

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May 13, 2005

Making Homes

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

So, have you ever spent time at the Homemakers for America website? Sad to say, this place is serious. And even though I would really love to get a "Women of Freedom" candle, I'm more interested in their poll they have running, "Does NOW (National Organization of Women) speak for you?"

Results are at 4% yes. You know you want to vote in it (middle left side). That would be near the Fox News petition and CitizenUSA newspaper info. Oh boy.

Update: Looks like they pulled the poll, and now are asking if Hillary would make a suitable President. Yes, naturally, so go vote.

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April 12, 2005

A Book I'll Have to Read

By Andrew Dobbs

The New York Times has a wonderful review of Sen. Bob Dole's new memoirs, entitled One Soldier's Story. The book covers Dole's childhood in Kansas, his service in World War II and his recovery from the brutal injuries he received while over there. It sounds like a great book about one of America's most prominent leaders.

The shame is that today's kids grow up without knowing the names of past leaders unless they were president. As a history major and someone who loves the study of America's past, I deplore the state of history education in our public schools today. Too often it is just a string of presidents and wars, with little discussion of what happened in between and the important leaders on other levels. I don't remember ever hearing the names Sam Rayburn, Richard Russell, Cactus Jack Garner, Marcus Hanna or many of the other giants of our nation's history that never rose to the office of president in my public education. Bob Dole desperately wanted to be president, but because he never was he'll be forgotten in a generation.

This is a shame. I am a Democrat and he is a Republican, and I would not have voted for him. But he was a far different kind of Republican from the kind we see today. I am struck by the memory from the 1996 campaign of President Clinton and Senator Dole walking side by side, cordially talking to one another during budget negotiations while they were running against one another for president. He had class, and for every boneheaded partisan blast he put forth (1976's "Democrat wars" statement comes to mind), he also said some very classy things (such as when he refused to talk about Clinton's personal life in 1996, though it would have helped his campaign). He wanted to get things done for the people of this country, and was willing to work with Democrats to do that. He is someone I can respect.

So I'll get his new book and give it a read. His service to his country in the House and Senate and as the leader of his party was second only to his service in the Second World War, where he lost the use of his right arm, most of the feeling in his left arm and spent 39 months in hospitals learning how to walk again. An excerpt from the review shows what a hero sounds like:

When he was a teenage soda jerk in Russell, Kan., Bob Dole liked to give his customers at Dawson's Drugstore "the flip." A star athlete at the local high school, he would toss a scoop of ice cream in the air, where it turned a few somersaults, and then catch it in a cup before putting the finishing touches on a sundae or a milkshake. Norman Rockwell should have been there.

After the war, Mr. Dole returned to Dawson's. Badly wounded under heavy fire in the hills of northern Italy, he had spent 39 months in military hospitals. Step by agonizing step, his right arm strapped to a heavy triangular brace, he walked from his house to Main Street and made his way to the soda fountain. "Bob, you're a real hero," a customer told him. Mr. Dole shrugged him off, saying, "The heroes are still over there."

Even though he's from a different party, and even though I would disagree with him on many important issues, I'll tell my children about Bob Dole- in the hopes that even if they don't share his politics, they'll share his character. With Tom DeLay and Rick Santorum and a host of other crooked, autocratic, ignorant leaders in that party today, the GOP took a big dive when Bob Dole retired. Let's hope we have more like him in both parties-- our country deserves it.

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March 27, 2005

That's the way life goes in the 'hood (and FOX News)

By Jim Dallas

This has been a busy day for rap in the blogosphere. The American Prospect has a review-commentary on the recent Fifty Cent-The Game "feud" and now Crooks and Liars posts on the escalation in the Ludacris-Bill O'Reilly squabble.

Meanwhile in the world of lucha, Brad DeLong and Wonkette tag-team Michael Barone's latest, which is neither social realism nor art. According to Barone the alleged scourge of "limousine liberals" is a new and important observation of the Almanac of American Politics 2006. If I wanted to hear some busta spinning cliched conflict narrative, I'd buy me a rap album full of guns and gangs and (pardon) bitches, thank you very much.

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February 27, 2005

Bush... wins?

By Jim Dallas

George W. Bush was awarded the Golden Raspberry for worst.president.ever worst actor last night:

George W. Bush won the "Razzie" worst actor of the year award on Saturday for his performance as president in "Fahrenheit 9/11" but his moment in Hollywood's dubious spotlight was eclipsed by Halle Berry, who actually turned up to receive her embarrassing accolade.

Berry was named worst actress of 2004 by the Golden Raspberry Award Foundation for her performance in "Catwoman" and she showed up to accept her "Razzie" carrying the Oscar she won in 2002 for "Monster's Ball."

"They can't take this away from me, it's got my name on it!" she quipped. A raucous crowd cheered her on as she gave a stirring recreation of her Academy Award acceptance speech, including tears.

She thanked everyone involved in "Catwoman," a film she said took her from the top of her profession to the bottom.

"I want to thank Warner Brothers for casting me in this piece of shit," she said as she dragged her agent on stage and warned him "next time read the script first."

It is rare for a Razzie winner to show up at the spoof awards held on the night before Oscars -- but Berry did, saying her mother taught her that to be "a good winner you had to be a good loser first." She received a standing ovation.

Bush, beating such established Hollywood heroes as Colin Farrell and Vin Diesel, won the Razzie for worst actor of the year for his appearance in Michael Moore's documentary "Fahrenheit 9/11."

Bush, two members of his administration, Britney Spears and the storybook about a goat that the president was reading to children as the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks were taking place all took top honors at the "Razzie" awards, now in their 25th year.

"Catwoman" tied with "Fahrenheit 9/11" by winning four "Razzies" -- worst picture, worst directing, worst screenplay and worst performance by an actress for Berry and her "berry bad" work.

If I'm ever awarded a Raspberry, or win an election for that matter, I intend to channel Sally Field.

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January 25, 2005

Academy Award Nominations

By Jim Dallas


The Aviator has been nominated for eleven awards.

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It's actually all a big lie

By Jim Dallas

Instapundit makes a funny and Kevin Drum agrees.

Actually, planets are not necessarily spherical in shape. Earth is pear-shaped, with an equatorial bulge of a few dozen kilometers (not enough to make it look out-of-round in pictures, mind you). And the southern hemisphere is a tad fatter than the northern.

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January 20, 2005

Worst. Movies. Ever.

By Jim Dallas

Kuff asks us how many bad movies I've seen.

The answer? Eight.Nine.

(Battlefield Earth, Spice World, The Master of Disguise, Street Fighter, Mr. Nanny, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie, Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, Surf Ninjas, The Avengers)

I object to the inclusion of many of these items; Battlefield Earth was funny as hell, and Master of Disguise was too, in a sort of unintentional way.

"Am I not turtley enough for the turtle club?!?! Turtle, turtle, turtle!"

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January 12, 2005

Ye shall (not) know the Truth

By Jim Dallas

Jesus wept:

How did this happen? How did one of the most religious countries in the world become a nation of religious illiterates? Religious congregations are surely at fault. Churches and synagogues that once inculcated the "fourth R" are now telling the faithful stories "ripped from the headlines" rather than teaching them the Ten Commandments or parsing the Sermon on the Mount (which was delivered, as only one in three Americans can tell you, by Jesus). But most of the fault lies in our elementary and secondary schools.

In a majority opinion in a 1963 church-state case (Abington vs. Schempp), Supreme Court Justice Tom Clark wrote, "It might well be said that one's education is not complete without a study of comparative religion … and its relationship to the advance of civilization." If so, the education of nearly every public school student in the nation is woefully inadequate.

Because of misunderstandings about the 1st Amendment, religious studies are seldom taught in public schools. When they are, instruction typically begins only in high school and with teachers not trained in the subtle distinction between teaching religion (unconstitutional) and teaching about religion (essential).

Though state educational standards no longer ignore religion as they did a decade or so ago, coverage of religion in history and social science textbooks is spotty at best. According to Charles Haynes, senior scholar at the First Amendment Center in Arlington, Va., "It is as if we got freedom of religion in 1791 and then we were free from religion after that."

Now that the religious right has triumphed over the secular left, every politician seems determined to get religion. They're all asking "What Would Jesus Do?" — about the war in Iraq, gay marriage, poverty and Social Security. And though the ACLU may rage, it is not un-American to bring religious reasoning into our public debates. In fact, that has been happening ever since George Washington put his hand on a Bible and swore to uphold the Constitution. What is un-American is to give those debates over to televangelists of either the secular or the religious variety, to absent ourselves from the discussion by ignorance.

Via Kevin Drum.

This isn't necessarily surprising. Religion for many Americans today is largely about experience and about personal identity.

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January 05, 2005

Is liberal democracy three laws safe?

By Jim Dallas

I'm not providing an answer to that question, but I will note that watching I, Robot on DVD was more than a little bit like sitting through the political philosophy course I took in college.

Of course, further reading only brought up more flashbacks from lectures about social contracts and consent-based government.

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Tuesday's with Tucker Carlson: It's still Tuesday in the 5th Dimension

By Nathan Nance

Guest post by Nate Nance

Tomorrow should be Tucker Carlson's last day at the ill-fated Crossfire. CNN's new president apparently wanted to keep Bow Tie Boy on by giving him his own show, but TVNewser is reporting that Carlson will be getting his own show in the 9 PM timeslot (that's 8 PM for us in Texas) at MSNBC. So he'll be replacing Deborah Norville, which is good because she sucks. I watched her show once before the election. She had a segment on 'Security Moms' and how they were going to swing the election for Bush because security was the president's strongest hand. The security mom favoring Kerry was more worried about the war in Iraq and that mess, the security mom for Bush was not that concerned about security and the poll in the women's magazine she cited showed most women were concerned about Iraq and Health Care. Terrorism was rated fifth. So I'll be glad to see her go.

That does mean a lot more Tucker, though, and he just upsets me so much sometimes. When he made that "jacuzzi case" comment about the little girl who was evicerated by a defective pool filter and was represented by John Edwards, I literally started throwing stuff at the TV and yelling very ugly words.

Hopefully, without Bob Novak's bad influences he'll mellow out a little, and so will I. However, if he wears that damned bow tie every day, I might write a letter of complaint.

This is a guest post from Nathan Nance. He can be reached at nate_nance@yahoo.com.

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December 23, 2004

The Real World... Austin?

By Nathan Nance

Guest post by Nate Nance

Yes, the 16th season of MTV's the Real World is to be shot in Austin. Said the executive vp for series entertainment Lois Curren, "As the live-music capital of the nation and home to a thriving college community, Austin is the perfect backdrop for 'The Real World's' 16th season."

Now everytime I drive down to Austin to eat at Pappsito's I've got to worry if a film crew is going to be there. Great.

This is a guest post by Nathan Nance. He can be reached at nate_nance@yahoo.com.

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December 21, 2004

Under new management

By Nathan Nance

Guest post by Nate Nance

It's official now, the Washington Post Company has purchased Slate, the online magazine. Other than changing who signs the payroll checks for the editors, nothing is supposed to change in their coverage or their editorial independence. I guess that makes this a non-story, but you should know anyway.

This is a guest post by Nathan Nance. He can be reached at nate_nance@yahoo.com

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December 19, 2004

Man of the Year?

By Nathan Nance

Guest post by Nate Nance

I can't believe that Time picked George W. Bush as their man of the year for 2004. Their rationale?

For sticking to his guns (literally and figuratively), for reshaping the rules of politics to fit his ten-gallon-hat leadership style and for persuading a majority of voters that he deserved to be in the White House for another four years, George W. Bush is TIME's 2004 Person of the Year

Dear Lord. Sometimes I swear I'm really in Bizarro World where everything is totally ass-backwards. Being a complete moron makes you a good leader and not even acknowledging the mistakes you've made qualifies you for the highest job in the land.

This is a guest post by Nathan Nance. Nate is a sports/news clerk at the Waco Tribune-Herald and writer/editor of Common Sense a Texas-based Democratic Web log. He can be reached at nate_nance@yahoo.com

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December 09, 2004

Arsenic and Old Movie Blog

By Nathan Nance

Guest post by Nate Nance

From time to time at my blog, Common Sense, I like to post movie reviews. I pick out a title of an old movie, stick the phrase Movie Blog in there and give you my two cents worth. I mean, it can't be all politics.

So I decided to do something like that only more special for BOR, I'm actually going to review a movie that opened nationwide last night, Blade Trinity.

Now, of course, my first choice of a movie to review would be SpongeBob SquarePants. But even at 2 in the afternoon that theater was packed. Besides, the one time I watch SpongeBob, I was at my friend Charlotte's house and we were watching with her little sister. I swear to God, SpongeBob went on a riff about the proletariat overthrowing the corrupt bourgeoise and creating a worker's paradise. I got a little weirded out.

But back to Blade. Byron and Karl told me it was all right to say this so my review is summed up in two words: Fucking Sweet.

I mean we got action, we got hot techno music and we got Jessica Biel in halter tops and whatnot. I know some people will be shocked and amazed, but I really wanted to see this movie because of her. She's the reason I went to see Texas Chainsaw Massacre, her and her wet tank top. She kicks ass in this movie, just beating the crap out of people all over the place.

And no crappy cgi fight scenes like in No. 2. All wire work and sharp camera angles the way God intended. The well-choreographed sword fight between Blade and Drake, played by Dominic Purcell who I don't think I've ever heard of, really makes up for the kind of plot twist of Biel playing Kris Kristoferson's daughter.

Then there is Ryan Reynolds. I liked Van Wylder as much as anybody, but he went a little too far with the wisecracking. After a while it just wasn't funny anymore. There was a great scene between him and Parker Posey where the two are arguing over a past relationship. Triple H of the WWE is standing nearby with his vampire pomeranian and Reynolds is going on an on about a homing beacon in his butt cheeks. Posey finally yells that it isn't funny anymore (where had she been, it hadn't been funny for a while) when Reynolds redeems himself by saying "It's about to get a lot less funny you cock-juggling thunder cunt." Please don't write letters; I just repeat what I hear on TV.

Good soundtrack, lots of action and all kinds of crazy gadgets for them to kill vampires with. Blade Trinity has something for the whole family, as long as your whole family is above the age of 17 and enjoys wisecracks about lewd sex acts and extreme violence to a techno beat.

Nate gives it an 8.5

This is a guest post from Nate Nance. Nate is a sports/news clerk at the Waco Tribune-Herald and writer/editor of Common Sense a Texas-based Democratic Web log. He can be reached at nate_nance@yahoo.com.

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December 08, 2004

Late night viewing

By Nathan Nance

Guest post by Nate Nance

I'm really eager to find out what happened on tonight's West Wing. Wait, wait don't tell me. I was recording it with my DVR and I'm watching it when I get home. I also noticed that Jon Stewart was on tonight's Larry King Live. I had to call my mom and tell her to set it up to record the replay later tonight. And I'm not sure, but it looked like Salma Hayek was going to be on Letterman. I would so marry her and be her love slave, it's not even funny. I probably should keep that to myself, though.

Just thought I would update everybody on what was going on outside the blogosphere. I'm going to get back to work so I can go home. I have a few more things I will post either late tonight or early tomorrow morning. Stay tuned. Same bat time, same bat channel.

This is a guest post by Nate Nance. Nate is a sports/news clerk at the Waco Tribune-Herald and writer/editor of Common Sense a texas-based Democratic Web log. He can be reached at nate_nance@yahoo.com.

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December 04, 2004

Capitalist Anti-Communists Against the Capitalist Exploitation of Communists

By Jim Dallas

I am sure Che is turning in his grave:

Val Prieto raises the red flag (as in “Hold up! Wait a minute!") on a featured ad in Time Magazine, and on the usually capitalistic Burlington Coat Factory. Fortunately, the media and the world are taking notice.

It now appears that lionizing the bloody legacy of Che Guevara has hit an all-time low in the literal sense. Onesies and t-shirts emblazoned with the infamous “cool-looking revolutionary in a beret” image are now on sale for infants and toddlers.

What’s really ironic about manufacturers of Che swag in general is the mind-boggling premise that they choose to ignore the truth about a man who murdered thousands of Cubans and dedicated his shortened life to destroying liberty – even denouncing the very capitalist system that are allowing the swagsters to make a buck off of whitewashing the same man who, if he were alive today, would probably put bullets to the back of their heads for the mere thought of profiting from the masses.

Two questions. One, do they get the irony? Two, why are they not using this opportunity to once again remind us about how "liberal" the north east is (Get it - Burlington - Vermont - COMMUNISM!).

This is all very post-modern. As such, I'm pretty sure there's no way I can make a sensible judgment about it (damn you philosophers!).

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November 21, 2004


By Jim Dallas

Here's the current list of Wikipedia articles which are being disputed for lack of a neutral point of view.

It's kind of amusing to see what sort of nonsense stuff people throw around.

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November 15, 2004

KBH on Jon Stewart

By Byron LaMasters

KBH = Kay Bailey Hutchison. This ought to be fun... or really boring. It'll be hard to beat the past Texas Republican on the show.

Update: The verdict? She joins the ranks of Bill O'Reilly with a boring Daily Show appearance. And that woman wants to be president? Haha. She has less charisma than (pre-2004) Al Gore.

Update #2: This Dkos diary has some more critical thoughts.

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The Radio Station Blues

By Byron LaMasters

Jim isn't the only one in mourning over the loss of a radio station. The Houston Chronicle has more on the end of Houston's KLOL today.

Dallas also sort of lost a good station. When I was in town over the weekend, I flipped to 106.7 KKDL for some good dance music. Didn't happen. They apparently went from good dance / techno / trance / house music (my kinda music) to 90% hip-hop / R&B / Rap now (not my kinda music). How worthless. They don't even let you give listener feedback anymore.

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November 08, 2004

Girlie Men

By Jim Dallas

I'm sorry, but I can't take claims of male victimhood stemming from (and lets face it) cutesy advertisement too seriously.

The whole joke of the ad being complained about here isn't that men are inferior. The joke is that its natural for men to have a fascination with gadgetry, it's natural for adults not to understand said gadgetry as well as adults, and its okay for men to be on the receiving end of some soft jabs, because, dammit, we're men, we can take it, at the end of the day its still our world. Since the dawn of humanity there's always been the ol' man, and I imagine that every non-reactionary society since has had some kind of well-meaning dad jokes.

P.S.: Incidentally, I note that most of the people who get all pissy about this sort of thing seem to be pushing reactionary social agendas (e.g. "its unfair that women get to decide about abortions." -- maybe when men get pregnant, we'll have a right to complain?).

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November 06, 2004


By Jim Dallas

I was supposed to meet some people to watch the OSU game. They didn't show. So instead of getting drunk and yelling at a big screen TV, I did the next best thing. I went to Super Target.

I had heard (from Atrios among others) that Brian Wilson's Smile was either the best album ever made, or simple "good", or somewhere in between.

I'd never been much of a devotee of the Beach Boys, but as an amateur Beatle-ologist, my interest was piqued insofar as Smile was originally conceived to "one-up" Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

I have to say I am very impressed with the album, and have to join the millions of people who wonder just how music history might have changed had Brian Wilson not gone nuts, and this album had been released in the late 1960s.

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September 30, 2004

Sugary, Marshmallowy, Honeyfied Goodness... Now with Whole Wheat

By Jim Dallas

This is good news. If Burger King started to use organically-grown tomatoes in making their triple Whoppers, we'd really defeat this obesity thing.

Disclaimer: I love triple whoppers just the way they are, thank you very much.

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September 16, 2004

Just when you thought you've seen it all...

By Byron LaMasters

There's Votergasm.

Isn't America great?


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September 06, 2004

Hezbollah, Castro Promote Farenheit 9/11

By Andrew Dobbs

As many of you know, I crossed over into the world of liberal heresy this summer by saying that I hated Farenheit 9/11. I felt it to be disrespectful to our servicemen, unpatriotic and to have a strong anti-American bias. And it looks like I'm not the only one. From the Guardian of London (hardly a bastion of conservativism):

Meanwhile, in the United Arab Emirates, the film is being offered the kind of support it doesn't need. According to Screen International, the UAE-based distributor Front Row Entertainment has been contacted by organisations related to the Hezbollah in Lebanon with offers of help.

And from the News section of the Helsinki Film Festival's website (a bit obscure, but once again, hardly an anti-Moore source):

In terms of marketing the film, Front Row is getting a boost from organisations related to Hezbollah which have rung up from Lebanon to ask if there is anything they can do to support the film. And although Chacra says he and his company feel strongly that Fahrenheit is not anti-American, but anti-Bush, “we can’t go against these organisations as they could strongly boycott the film in Lebanon and Syria.”

Hezbollah, you'll remember, twice bombed US Marine barracks in the early 1980s, killing almost 300 servicemen between the two attacks. They also have been responsible for the hijacking of an American airliner (where they murdered another American serviceman), dozens of kidnappings of American officials (many of whom they murdered) and has worked with Al Quaida on logistics and training in the past. I looked around Michael Moore's website and he had nothing to say about the fact that a heinous group of terrorists is pumping his movie with the cooperation or at least acquiesence of his distributor.

And Hezbollah isn't the only group of anti-American psychos pumping Moore's movie. From the Knight-Ridder News Service (sorry no link, found it on Lexis-Nexis):

Weeks after Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11" became a controversial blockbuster in the United States, the film and its maker are generating a new wave of attention this time from Cubans on both sides of the Florida Straits.

In Cuba, where leader Fidel Castro is in a heightened war of words with President Bush, bootlegged copies of Moore's Bush-bashing documentary were shown to packed cinemas for a week, and the film was aired on state-run television July 29. (...)

Shawn Sachs, Moore's spokesman in New York, said Moore declined to comment.

"Fahrenheit 9/11" reached Cuban homes and 120 cinemas "from an unauthorized, pirated copy" broadcast without prior knowledge of Moore or the film's distributors, their representatives said.

So while Moore (who claims he was fired from Mother Jones magazine once for being too pro-Sandinista) won't speak out against a ruthless communist dictator using his film as a piece of anti-American propaganda at least the suits at his distribution company spoke up. Maybe it was because the pirated copies cost them money while Hezbollah's activities stand to make some for them. Looks like the bottom line trumps again.

I doubted these stories at first because I only saw them in conservative sources but the 10 minutes of research I did made me mad. Hezbollah is second only to Al Quaida in its reach, determination and hatred of America. They do not want a free world, they want a world based on the subjugation of women and free speech, the violent supression of individuality. Fidel Castro does not want a "progressive movement." He wants to repress and kill anyone who desires to be something more than a peon under his paternalistic glare. These men hate America, hate our ideals, hate our success- yet they love Michael Moore and his movie.

Mama always said you can judge a person by the company they keep. Ask yourself- when the people supporting Moore's movie kill innocent women, children and the elderly what does that say about him?

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September 01, 2004

Genocide and the GOP

By Andrew Dobbs

Via Atrios, it appears that the National Review has chosen as one of its "Editors' Picks" a book by the spokesman for former Serbian war criminal Radovan Karadzic. Readers are reminded that Karadzic is the architect of the "ethnic cleansing" of Croats and Muslims that was perpetrated by the Serbs.

Hear the National Review's thoughts on the book:

Since the attacks of September 11, dozens of books have been rushed to market purporting to "explain" the religion in whose name the terrorists acted. Most of them strike a common theme: "true" Islam -- as opposed to the "fundamentalist" variety of the hijackers -- is a "religion of peace" that promotes charity, tolerance, freedom, and culture no less than "true" Christianity. (...)

To correct this, Trifkovic gives us the unvarnished, "politically incorrect" truth about Islam -- including the shocking facts about its founder, Mohammed; its rise through bloody conquest; its sanctioning of theft, deceit, lust and murder; its persecutions of Christians, Jews, Hindus and other "infidels"; its cruel mistreatment of women; the colossal myth of its cultural "golden age"; its irreformable commitment to global conquest by any means necessary; the broad sweep of the military, political, moral, and spiritual struggle that faces us; and what we must do if we wish to survive.

If the vicious slaughter and mass rape of Srebrenica is any indication (an unholy massacre that this book's author was a part of), killing off all the Muslims and raping their women probably plays some part in "what we must do if we wish to survive." The National Review has stooped to a new level with this one. The Joseph Goebbels of the Yugoslav Civil War deserves much worse than a National Review Editor's Pick- he deserves a firing squad.

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August 16, 2004

On the Trail for Juan Valdez

By Jim Dallas

The most important poll of our lifetime is currently underway, and I want to say a few words about the truly iconic nominee I am supporting.

Juan Valdez is a true man of the people. He's never afraid to talk to people in grocery stores, restaraunts, or subway stations.

Mr. Valdez has committed his life to ensuring that the American people have access to rich, flavorful Colombian coffee. He doesn't just talk the talk, he walks the walk (except when he's riding his donkey).

Cast your vote for Juan Valdez.

(Also, the Pillsbury Doughboy is a pervert, the Energizer Bunny is too robotic, and the Kool-Aid Man is a Red.)

Thank you.

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August 01, 2004

Ted Turner on media reform

By Jim Dallas

The Mouth of the South writes a few words about the eeeeeeeeevils of media consolidation in the Washington Monthly:

I freely admit: When I was in the media business, especially after the federal government changed the rules to favor large companies, I tried to sweep the board, and I came within one move of owning every link up and down the media chain. Yet I felt then, as I do now, that the government was not doing its job. The role of the government ought to be like the role of a referee in boxing, keeping the big guys from killing the little guys. If the little guy gets knocked down, the referee should send the big guy to his corner, count the little guy out, and then help him back up. But today the government has cast down its duty, and media competition is less like boxing and more like professional wrestling: The wrestler and the referee are both kicking the guy on the canvas.

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July 29, 2004

More BOR Rumor Mongering!

By Jim Dallas

Yahoo!News via Kuff:

Speaking during a weekend panel at San Diego's Comic-Con convention, show producers dropped a bomb: An upcoming Simpsons story line will focus on what happens when Springfield legalizes gay marriage.

"We have a show where, to raise money, Springfield legalizes gay marriage," producer Al Jean told comic book fans. "Homer becomes a minister by going on the Internet and filling out a form. A longtime character comes out of the closet, but I'm not saying who."

And with that, Simpsons aficionados got their gaydar on and began winnowing down the list of potential suspects.

The early favorite appears to be billionaire Monty Burns' ever-devoted sidekick, Waylon Smithers, who--aside from being a yes-man--has been known to collect Malibu Stacy dolls, lives in the gay part of town (where Homer once shacked up with two gay guys), has a Mr. Burns screensaver and dreams of a naked Mr. Burns jumping out of a birthday cake.

But that might be too easy. According to online fan scuttlebutt, there are other characters who might be secretly having a gay old time in Springfield, including Homer's regular-guy cohorts at the nuclear plant, Carl and Lenny, as well as Moe the bartender, the Reverend Lovejoy, Principal Skinner and Comic Book Guy. Of course, the producers didn't rule out a lesbian wedding, either.

If it's not Smithers, I'll be shocked.

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July 26, 2004

Meanwhile, in Red America...

By Jim Dallas

We break from our usually scheduled program to bring you this mundane news from Texas.

I was down at Wal-Mart (still breaking in the moped; when I have her chugging along nicely, I'll revert back to my usual Target-patronizing, Wal-Mart-bashing virtuousity) -- and so anyway I saw a big sign advertising the first season of The Jeff Foxworthy Show on DVD.

Now I remember seeing about one episode of that show and I recall I was not pleased. Not as formulaic and unfunny as many sit-coms, but still, it was not a good career move for Jeff Foxworthy. You know, kinda why you didn't see Foxworthy between 1996 (the peak of "You Might Be A Redneck"-itis) and the early-2000s Blue Collar Comedy Tour.

At any rate, I see the sign, and what do I see -- pre-Sixth Sense Haley Joel Osment! Could it be that tinseltown's favorite tyke was in that stinker sitcom?!?

Yes. But I guess everyone must start somewhere. (Also pre-Jerry McGuire Jonathan Lipnicki had a part in the second season.)

Now, back to enlightening BOR Boston blog-a-rama from K-T and Byron!

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July 23, 2004

Books for Boston

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

I just bought about $15 worth of books online on Amazon for the "Campaign for Literacy- Books for Boston Project" for Boston Public Schools. It's on of the mailings that came with all the Convention Invitations and me, being me, could not turn down a chance to do some 'service above self'. So I bought them The Scarlet Letter and The Giver. Yep, the book I can't stand the most and one that I love the best. I figure their needs before my tastes.

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July 17, 2004

Red or Blue

By Byron LaMasters

Surprise, surprise... I'm in the middle on this one.

Take the Red or Blue test from Slate.

Via Greg's Opinion

Update: I happen to agree with several commenters that found this test to be utterly silly. But, I always find tests interesting for their questions and methodology. Whatever you think of these types of tests, go ahead and take a look at it, and decide for yourself. If you're outraged, do what one commenter did, and email the author of the test your distaste. If you find it interesting, let me know how you scored.

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July 14, 2004

Digital Cameras are Really Cool

By Byron LaMasters

My parents gave me a digital camera yesterday as one of my birthday presents. I'm really excited about it, because tomorrow I'm heading to Vancouver with them for a family vacation, and then of course the week after next I'll be headed to Boston for the convention. Anyway, I decided to test out the camera tonight at our Dallas County Young Democrats meeting. There were a few kinks, and I still have to figure out how to use all the features on the camera, but I'm excited to have it. I'm certainly looking forward to the opportunity to get as many pictures as I can of politicians and celebrities at the convention. Anyway, tell me what you think so far....

DCYD Treasurer David Hardt, State Rep. candidate Katy Hubener and yours truly (DCYD Executive Director).

My friends David (at his house before the meeting), Ali and Andy (all from the UT Democrats). Notice their shirts. David's is the hero (accompanied by a picture of John Kerry in uniform) / zero (with Dubya) shirt. Ali is wearing her Good Bush / Bad Bush t-shirt, and Andy is wearing his "I support the Homosexual Agenda" shirt.

Them again.

The Elbow Room sign on Gaston Ave. in east Dallas where we have our monthly DCYD meetings.

DCYD Vice President, Kara Engstrom.

Dallas County Democratic Party Executive Director Daniel Clayton speaks to the club.

Dallas for Kerry organizer Danny Henley speaks to the DCYD's about their groups efforts.

State Rep. Candidate Katy Hubener speaks with DCYD Treasurer David Hardt after the meeting.

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July 13, 2004

SCLM Coddles Racist

By Andrew Dobbs

Tired of hearing wingers tell you that Fox News has to be conservative to balance out that awful liberal CNN? Well bust this out on them. On Lou Dobbs (no relation, thank God) this evening they had a whole segment about our "broken borders"- the crisis of immigration. Now, talking about immigration isn't a bad thing, its an important issue that gets little talk time because it is so rife with controversy. But the foundation of the segment was an interview with an immigration expert named Otis Graham, author of the book "Unguarded Gates." Here's an excerpt from the piece:

In your book, which is very interesting, you point to a second wave of immigration. The first wave, we're all familiar with from our grade school class, history class, of the great immigration wave. Now we're in a second one. Why is this any different than the first? The first went fairly well.

OTIS GRAHAM, AUTHOR, "UNGUARDED GATES": The first was restricted after 40 years of argument and it did go rather well, partially because it was restricted and we had time to assimilate those 30 million people who came in those years. The situation is very different for the second wave that began arriving in the 1960s.

First of all, the source countries are profoundly different. The first wave came from Europe. They were western people however different we thought that they were and they seemed to be. The source countries are now very different.

The largest single source country -- there was no one single source country in the first wave. In the second wave, Mexico and Latin America generally, but Mexico is a very large component, sustained component coming from a country with a poor economy, a troubled economy, and a fast-growing population. 2,000-mile border between the two so that coming and going back and forth, the cultural reinforcement, the language reinforcement, these circumstances didn't apply 100 years ago.

A third thing I would mention as a difference, 100 years ago, when immigrants came into the U.S., we were a culture and a society that insisted on Americanization. English, learn our ways, learn our history. Now we've changed for reasons which we don't need to go into now given our time. But we're a society which is much less emphasis on a common language. There's multi-culturalism as an intellectual current which welcomes all cultures and doesn't insist on Americanization.

So whether the assimilation process is working well is not a question that applies in the same way as the first wave. So the second wave and the first wave are about the same in size, and they've both been running about four decades. Whether we can curb and control the second wave, as we did the first wave, is a very open question, I think.

Okay, so doesn't sound overtly ignorant but the dichotomy drawn between the "successful" or good immigration of "Westerners" versus the "very different" second wave of mostly Latino people that needs to be "curbed or controlled" is pretty disturbing. I heard this piece, which went unchallenged either from an opposing theorist or from the guest host, Kitty Pilgrim. So I decided to do a little detective work.

First stop, the Anti-Defamation League, one of the top watchdogs for hate groups in the country. I ran a search on Graham's name and found a report on the group he founded, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). Here's what they say:

The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR),* headquartered in Washington, D.C., describes itself as “a national, non-profit, public interest organization of concerned citizens who share a common belief that the unforeseen mass immigration that has occurred over the last 30 years should not continue.” Its stated goal is “to end illegal immigration” and “to set legal immigration at the lowest feasible levels consistent with the demographic, economic, social, and environmental realities….”

However, in recent years, FAIR has:
• acknowledged and defended having received grants reportedly totaling around
$600,000 from the Pioneer Fund, which has been described by The New York Times as having been established for the express purpose of promoting research into eugenics, and which has sponsored projects based on the notion that Blacks are genetically less intelligent than whites.

• expressed support for an anti-immigration op-ed article by John Tanton, a FAIR founder and board member, in which immigrants were compared to bacteria. (Linda Chavez, a former official of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, has called Tanton’s views “anti-Hispanic, anti-Catholic, and not excusable.”)

• reflected hostility toward Hispanics and the Catholic Church when FAIR’s executive director, Dan Stein, told an interviewer, “Certainly we would encourage people in other countries to have small families. Otherwise they’ll all be coming here, because there’s no room at the Vatican… Many [immigrants] hate America, hate everything the United States stands for. Talk to some of these Central Americans.”

• Sponsored a newspaper ad critical of a U. S. Senator’s position on immigration legislation, in which a photo of the Senator, who is of Lebanese ancestry, was juxtaposed with one of a notorious Middle East terrorist; the ad suggested that the senator’s position would cause Americans to be “needlessly exposed to the threat of terrorism from criminals like Osama bin Laden.” The Detroit Free Press recently described FAIR’s ad campaign regarding the senator (Spencer Abraham, R-MI) as “hysterical rhetoric … disingenuous and nativistic. It comes perilously close to a smear.”

• expressed approval of China’s forced abortion policy (in a column by Ben
Wattenberg quoting Dan Stein) as an “international family planning program.”

• Provided a link on its Internet web site to that of the California-based Voice of
Citizens Together (VCT), a strident anti-immigration group whose web site has
referred to “Mexico’s invasion of the United States,” and predicted that “California will be taken over by Third World forces, led by Mexico, who have an axe to grind against European Americans.” (...)

Critics of FAIR have accused the group of engaging in old-fashioned nativism and xenophobia in its single-minded pursuit of immigration control, and of using racism to promote its message. In addition, the group has been accused of anti-Hispanic and anti-Catholic bias, based on comments made by some of its leaders. The group has rejected such allegations. Moreover, FAIR has been criticized for accepting financial support of approximately $600,000 from the Pioneer Fund, a controversial New York-based taxexempt foundation that has promoted eugenics.** In 1994 Daniel Stein told The New York Times that such contributions to FAIR came without any strings attached. More recently Stein said his job was “to get every dime of Pioneer’s money.”

Okay, so pretty scary stuff. Futhermore, the other big hate group watchdog, the Southern Poverty Law Center has grouped them together with David Duke's group and other hate groups. Here's what they had to say:

Today, FAIR claims a staggering 70,000 members, although that number is almost certainly inflated. Tanton remains on FAIR's board and also is the publisher of The Social Contract Press, which sells racist anti-immigrant tracts.

Dan Stein, the group's executive director, has warned that certain immigrant groups are engaged in "competitive breeding" aimed at diminishing white power. Rick Oltman, FAIR's western representative, has spoken before and worked with the racist Council of Conservative Citizens.

Garrett Hardin, a FAIR board member, has argued that aiding starving Africans is counterproductive and will only "encourage population growth." Overall, FAIR blames immigrants for crime, poverty, disease, urban sprawl and increasing racial tensions in America, and calls for a drastic cut in the numbers of those allowed in.

The ADL article cites Otis Graham, the man who was on Lou Dobbs, as the cofounder of FAIR. So, let's connect the dots here. Otis Graham is the cofounder and spokesperson for a group that is identified by both the ADL and the SPLC as a white supremacist group and he goes on CNN and is treated like a normal scholar and his claims go unchallenged.

Some liberal media, huh?

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July 10, 2004


By Jim Dallas

I finally own a (legal!) copy of Europa Universalis -- if indeed their is a true PC heir to Avalon Hill's Diplomacy board game, it is not Microprose's Diplomacy for Windows but rather Strategy First's EU.

If, of course, any readers in the Houston-Galveston area have a copy of the original Dip board game, please e-mail me so that we can schedule a face-to-face game, OK? I had a copy in college but lost it somewhere in moving back home from Austin.

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July 08, 2004

Why I Hated Farenheit 9/11

By Andrew Dobbs

So yeah, I really disliked Michael Moore's new movie Farenheit 9/11. I know that in the world of liberal blogging that is akin to saying that you have sex with animals or burn down synagogues or something but its the truth- I think that it was contradictory, demagogic, disrespectful to American soldiers, slanderous and annoying.

To begin, let me note that I am most likely the most conservative author on this blog. That is not to say I'm a conservative- I like to joke that I'm a liberal trapped in a conservative's body. I have a conservative temperament and outlook but I come to liberal conclusions. Perhaps it is just a case of proving FDR's adage that a liberal is nothing more than a far-sighted conservative, but I know that the far left really pisses me off and Michael Moore is among my top sources of annoyance.

The movie is really quite disingenuous to begin with. When it gets to talking about the War in Iraq it begins with scenes of idyllic, happy, peaceful Iraq. It shows children playing and laughing, old women shopping and smiling, a restaurant full of cheery people, families all peaceful and wonderful. It then cuts to the bombing, suggesting that it was the US that ruined their lives. This is dishonest to the point of apologetics for Saddam's regime. While its true that children may have been running around happily, what about the thousands that starved while Saddam stole aid money to build palaces? While it might be accurate that old women shopped peacefully, where is the condemnation of the man who stole their sons and daughters in the middle of the night to torture and kill them? While people might have had the opportunity to sit down for a meal at a restaurant, where are the images of Kurds, Shi'ites and others who were brutally gassed by the monster who ruled their country? To suggest that Iraq was a nice place to live before we came there and we ruined it is bullshit and is disgusting.

Furthermore, after the bombings begin he shows families whose homes were destroyed- including one woman who wishes for terrorism to occur against the US. He shows her in a sympathetic light, never contradicting or addressing this. He cuts it into a scene where she is made to look like someone the audience is supposed to sympathize for and then she spews forth anti-American garbage. He also shows soldiers arresting a young man as his family cries for him and makes the soldiers look like bad guys while the young man is portrayed as "just a college student." For all we know this guy could be a terrorist but Moore never makes it clear, suggesting that our soldiers are to be blamed for doing their jobs.

He also, in his unique way, makes soldiers look like heartless fools. He shows the bodies of dead Iraqis and then shows grinning soldiers. He shows devastation and then shows soldiers who listen to heavy metal and portrays them as hicks and murderers. He never explicitly says anything about them but his editing and visual montage suggests that they are bad for being over there. He then shows Marine recruiters in a negative light, implicitly criticizing them for looking for recruits in the poorer parts of town. He makes them look like fools who are taking advantage of young people. Moore's disdain for servicemen and women is shocking.

And then he does a complete 180. After an hour of showing Iraqis as innocent victims (and many are) and soldiers as uncultured killers he talks about how sad it is that they have to be over there and shows injured soldiers and most dramatically the mother of a soldier killed in Iraq. The contradiction is glaring to anyone who sees the movie with anything other than frothing-at-the-mouth partisanship. To cut a whole half hour of the movie making soldiers looking like dolts and then turn around and cast them as heroes is sloppy filmmaking and the fact that this won the Palme d'Or really just proves that the French are more interested in hating Americans than they are in promoting anything useful.

The other part of the movie deals with Bush's ties to the Saudis, the bin Ladens, the Taliban and others. The implicit (and often explicit) suggestion is that Bush was glad that 9/11 happened, that he consciously let it happen and perhaps even had some inkling of when it was coming. It shows the 7 minutes between when Bush was told of the attacks and when he left the classroom he was in- something Moore suggests was sinister in nature- and he says "I wonder what he was thinking? Maybe- I've been hanging with the wrong crowd." Essentially, he says that Bush was affiliated with the conspirators of 9/11. This is slander at its worst. I hate George Bush, but I do not believe that he wanted 9/11 to happen, that he knew it would happen the way that it did or that he was glad that it happened. This is worse than when GOPers suggested that Bill Clinton killed Vince Foster. Where is the left's outrage at Moore's viciousness? Yes, Bush had some pretty vague ties to bin Laden's dad in the 1970s- Salem bin Laden had James R. Bath invest his money in Texas, Bath- being in the oil business like Bush- came to know Bush and put some money into Bush's doomed oil exploration business. To try and draw a line- either explicitly or implicitly- from this to 9/11 is idiotic and despicable.

Finally, he also is terribly inaccurate. When he is decrying the USA PATRIOT Act- something that is probably justified, though it is not nearly as bad as most of the left says it is- he cites two cases of post-Patriot Act overstepping by the authorities. The first is the case of an undercover Fresno (CA) police officer infiltrating a local peace group and the second is the case of a man whose friends called the FBI after he suggested that Bush was as bad as bin Laden (a disgusting bit of slander that Moore lets go unchallenged). The problem with this is that neither of these two cases have anything to do with the Patriot Act. Long before the Act police officers could infiltrate whatever groups they wanted to, provided they didn't violate anyone's constitutional rights, and long before that people could rat their friends out the the FBI and the FBI could question those friends. He suggests that these are the result of the Patriot Act, but in fact they have absolutely nothing to do with the law, a case of either willful dishonesty or of lazy filmmaking on Moore's part.

This all adds up to one thing- demagoguery. Moore is no better, and in fact may be worse, than Rush Limbaugh or Michael Savage or Sean Hannity. He makes very tenuous connections, outrageous statements and unbridled ideology to slander his political opponents and to appeal to the worst instincts in his base of support. He may be worse because he essentially indicts Bush in the deaths of 3,000 Americans on 9/11. I hated this movie and I promise to never pay to see another Michael Moore movie ever again.

I'm surprised the Republians haven't raised a much bigger stink about this. All they'd have to do is talk about how he portrays Baathist Iraq as a happy place and then suggests that we are worse than Saddam, or the portrayal of our soldiers, or the implication that Bush let 9/11 happen, or the fact that towards the end of the movie he lets a woman calls Bush "the real terrorist" and suggests that he is worse than bin Laden and the claim goes unchallenged, or the factual inaccuracies. Any one of these would make Moore and all of his left-wing standard-bearers look ridiculous, which frankly they already do.

This movie angered me and the response to it is even more enervating and I think that it is important that my opinion be put on the record as well. So here it is- right in the middle of liberal land. I hate Farenheit 9/11 and I think that it is shameful that we would embrace such a piece of despicable garbage.

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June 15, 2004

And the winner...

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

This week's winner of the contest (most 'interesting' web ad) I created simply for the sake of posting this entry (a contest that will probably end after this entry) is Betty Castor for US Senate. She's in a primary battle in Florida. And she has the ever (oddly) hip and cool Janet Reno on her side.

Go here, and on the front page check out the ad on the right where you can see Reno's web ad for Betty. You will be underwhelmed at first, but keep watching it and you too will have to agree that it deserves to win my silly contest.

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June 08, 2004

Keep More Than Austin Weird

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Keep Austin Weird. It's a wonderful slogan, and I like Austin being weird. It's refreshing in this age of sameness. So when I saw the following the other day, I just had to act. (Click on it for the full size image)

It gave me an oppertunity to finally upload my Snow Pictures from the Big Snowstorm of February 2003. Those include some, ahem, interesting ones as well as the more artistic. Remember these when you start sweating in July and August (and June and September and October and now and...)

So do you part and help send a little "Austin Weirdness" across the Atlantic to our friends the Brits.

In addition, you could always help out another 'weird' project (Geoff collecting 50 pences (or dollar value) to buy an iPod) that I have partaken in of which I was contributor 399. He's so close to 500 contributors and it would make me very happy to have some of our Burnt Orange readers finish it off. Go see it.

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June 02, 2004

While we're waiting...

By Jim Dallas

While we're waiting for the final election results to come in from South Dakota (Herseth is up by 2100 votes with about 40 precincts - including the Reservation Boxes - still out), I'm going to take a moment to do some cinematic criticism. Mostly this is just improv rambling; my karaoke skills don't translate well on the Internet.

Upon re-viewing Kill Bill, Volume 1, it occurred to me that one of the major themes of the series is the exposure of children to violent images. This occurs in several pivotal scenes:

  • Chapter One ("2"): Cottonmouth is assasinated by The Bride in front of her daughter, Nikki.
  • Chapter Three ("The Origin of O-Ren Ishii"): O-Ren's parents are killed by Boss Matsumoto in the "anime" interlude.
  • Chapter Five ('Showdown at the House of Blue Leaves'): Seventeen year-old Gogo, O-Ren's protege, seems caught between childlike innocence and "adult reality" (yes, the almost absurd level of violence in the film is the "adult reality" I speak of).
  • Chapter Ten: The last scenes of Volume 2, in which The Bride busts in on Bill -- and her daughter.

In several interviews, Tarentino has suggested that The Bride is semi-autobiographical; is he starting to get old and "parental"?

Anyhow, the Kill Bill movies could make for endless essay excitement for freshman English students next fall. At least if they have cool TAs.

Now, back to bidness...

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May 31, 2004

From Across the Pond

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

I received this e-mail from a friend of mine the other day who had the chance to live in Cannes for the past four months and thus was around all the films that were screened this past month. He has some great thoughts on Michael Moore's latest as well...

I have just got back from Cannes after four months of 'studying' (hence my inability to type coherently due to different types of keyboard), and really feel my French has made a great improvement.

I also feel a bit of an insider in the film world due to the lucky chances I had to go and see a few of the films, such as The Ladykillers (on which, I feel the critics have been a little too harsh, and which for me was both funny and time well spent - possibly because I haven't seen the original), the Assassination of Richard Nixon (OK, a little similar to Mystic River with Sean Penn's part, though with funny moments as wel) and a few French or Italian films that are probably of no interest to the rest of the world, though the Italian film, my chance to go properly on the tapis rouge, was actually quite good.

On Monday, howver, I managed to get an invitation for a special screening of the winner of the Palme d'Or for this year for people living and studying in Cannes. Follow this advice - go see it, whatever your political persuasions and/or opinions on Michael Moore, as soon as possible, for a few reasons.

Firstly, the cinematic value. I am sceptical about the idea of documentary as film, but the film has been well put together. I'm not saying it was worth the biggest prize in internqtional cinema, however, which is something I will leave you to decide.

Secondly, it is, I think, better than Moore's other work, from my experience of Stupid White Men and Bowling For columbine. In Fahrenheit 9/11 he lets the images (or merely the sounds in one scene) speak for themselves. This is unlike Columbine, where we see far more of Moore talking to people and in doing so, dominating the scene. In some ways it is not Moore who fires the anti-Bush salvoes, but more the president shooting himself in the foot, with the aid of his administration, such as, for example, Condy stating in Feb 2000 that "Iraq has no weapons of mass destruction"

Thirdly, it is actually a reasonable piece of investigative journalism on his part, though some Moorish exaggeration does creep in,

But also because you should see it before you make your own opinions. As I said, it is unlike his other work in some respects, with better usage of images, sounds and even the infamous on screen appearences that he limits in this film. To damn it or to praise it beforehand would be foolish.

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May 26, 2004

Political Survivor

By Byron LaMasters

I watched some of the first season of Survivor, and then I think I've watched one episode since then. It was interesting and innovative when it started, then it just got old, but today, for the second time this month, a game of political Survivor has popped up on the Internet.

First it was Politics 1. It allows viewers to decide who to vote off the hypothetical island that you're stuck on with George W. Bush, John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Dick Cheney, Howard Dean, Ralph Nader, Tom DeLay, Al Sharpton, John McCain and Zell Miller. Bush was booted in round one, Kerry in round two, and Clinton was narrowly kicked off in round three over Cheney. We're trying to kick Cheney off in round four, so go over to Polotics 1 to vote to boot him off.

Today, the DCCC started the D TRIP TV, which features a Republican Survivor show featuring George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Ann Coulter, John Ashcroft, Katherine Harris and Tom DeLay. They'll give you a "pass" to see all the episodes begining June 3rd if you sign up for their email list. Currently, they just have the trailer up, which is rather funny in a cute sort of way. Anyway, check it out.

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May 13, 2004

Kuff Rocks!

By Jim Dallas

Apparently Charles and I have similar tastes in music. Yes, 93.7 KKRW is the best station in Houston. Hands down.

Not as good as KLBJ or KGSR in Austin, but actually good. One of the few listenable stations in the Houston market (94.5 the Buzz KTBZ ceased to be cool when they started playing "all angst all the time"; listening to alternative rock these days makes me want to shoot myself).

While I wince a little bit about promotion of Arrowfest -- honestly, while there is a good deal of classic rock, listening to Nixon-era "Grand Stunk" and Blue Oyster Cult is more funny these days than cool -- you have to appreciate really good music. And the late 60s and early 70s really did produce some excellent stuff.

And I have faith that the classic rock genre will live forever.

Perhaps, though, Kuff will lose some faith in me when I reveal that I am gaining appreciation for 80s New Wave music, too. I guess I'm a head of the retro curve?

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April 28, 2004

NewInteresting Intellectual Property Paradigm

By Jim Dallas

I'm sure you've heard of freeware, shareware, and adware.

But have you ever heard of cardware?

Orbitron is a Cardware! It means you can use it free of charge but if you have found it useful, or/and you think I have done a good job creating it, please send me a postcard with your city/region view

It may not put the food on the table, but since I was once a pretty avid postcard collector myself, I guess I can relate.

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April 04, 2004

Historical Politics in Ads

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

I am busy this weekend with studying, so I as well have been low on posting.

I did run across a very cool thing last month. It is a compilation of the advertising on television for past presidential campaigns. It's a neat format and you can spend hours looking at these things. A new version launches this summer but in the meantime, go here to see what is up at "The Living Room Candidate".

In addition to that, HotPot Software has two incredibly addictive games. One dealing with interoffice cubical wars, the other a very detailed simulation of running for president where you control advertising, themes, money, state by state activities. It's really cool, but addictive.

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March 31, 2004

Listen to The O'Franken Factor Now!

By Byron LaMasters

Al Franken is live on Air America Radio. You can't get it on the radio in Texas, yet, but check out the live stream on the Internet.

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March 30, 2004

The Howard Stern Voting Block

By Byron LaMasters

We hear so much about the "soccer moms" and the "Office Park" or "NASCAR" dads. What about the 8.5 million fans of Howard Stern? Perhaps the "indecent" and "pervert" vote? Hmm... or something like that?

Well, Howard Stern - a previous supporter of Republicans George Pataki and Christie Whitman is now furious with President Bush over the new FCC regulations, and he has an audience of 8.5 million of mostly swing voters or non-voters that listen to him. Might this have an impact in November? It's up in the air, but the Dallas Morning News reports on that possibility:

No longer content with simply rocking the boat, Howard Stern is aiming to rock the vote.

"You've got to vote Bush out to send a message as a Howard Stern fan," he tells his listeners.

Here's what you had to say about Howard Stern's anti-Bush campaign
Republicans have dismissed Mr. Stern's recent political tirades, deeming his Bush bashing as inconsequential as the flatulence jokes that precede it. But media experts caution against underestimating the self-proclaimed "King of All Media."

Talk radio heavyweights Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity are preaching to the converted, they said. Mr. Stern has 8.5 million potential swing voters tuned in, and his loyal listeners have shown a willingness to do stunts far more outlandish than going to the polls at the shock jock's urging.


Matthew Felling, media director for the Center for Media and Public Affairs, said the New York radio host is as clever as he is crass. And, he said, if Mr. Stern keeps up his anti-Bush drumbeat, he could have a greater impact on the presidential election than independent candidate Ralph Nader.

"The average talk show listener is extremely suggestible – they will do a lot for their radio afternoon or drive-time buddy," Mr. Felling said.

Mr. Stern is counting on his fans to feel insulted by what he says is a GOP-led effort to muzzle him.

So far, listeners have responded with a flood of supportive phone calls, online petitions and Web sites trying to "Save Howard." In Dallas, where the show is broadcast from 6 to 11 a.m. on KLLI-FM (105.3), Stern fans have been calling in at a clip of a couple hundred per day.

Once a vocal backer of Mr. Bush's decision to go to war, Mr. Stern shifted gears several weeks ago and took aim at the leader he now calls a "Jesus freak."

Then, when Clear Channel Communications announced that it was dropping The Howard Stern Show from six of its stations and Congress began considering increasing fines for indecency, Mr. Stern launched a full-on assault on those who would rein in his raunch.

Day after day, hour after hour, he rails against Republicans and what he perceives as their attempt to make radio broadcasts bland.

"It's going to be one sickeningly sweet America," Mr. Stern said last week. "All of the shows will be filled with people who got kicked off Survivor."

Now, in the midst of broadcasting bodily functions and exhorting his guests to remove their underwear, Mr. Stern will segue from strippers to the one thing that offends him: President Bush's policies.

"He's his own jihad," Mr. Stern said. "He's as bad as these maniacs in Palestine."

The outburst ends as quickly as it began, and Mr. Stern returns his listeners to their regularly scheduled programming – in this case, a contest to determine who can pass gas the longest.

By adding just a sprinkle of partisan politics to his usual titillating fare, Mr. Stern keeps his listeners coming back – and gives them something to think about, Mr. Felling said.

"If he tosses in less than an hour of political talk, it will be that teaspoon of medicine along with all that sugar going down," he said. "The strippers will always be there. That's the beautiful thing about Howard Stern. He will not beat this horse to death."

This is not Mr. Stern's first foray into politics. He backed the gubernatorial bids of Republicans George Pataki and Christie Whitman (she thanked him by naming a rest stop for him).

But Mr. Stern, who is heard on 35 stations nationwide, has never brought this level of commitment to a cause. His Web site (www.howardstern.com) includes reams of information explaining how to register to vote, contact a congressman or write the Federal Communications Commission.

So what, you might say. Will Howard Stern's listeners actually vote? And if they do, would they vote for John Kerry? How is Howard Stern's political message any different from the conservative political shows that dominate the airwaves? Michael Harrison makes an important point:

The fact that Mr. Stern's fans aren't seeking political rhetoric could be the very reason they listen to his anti-Republican riffs, said Michael Harrison, editor and publisher of the industry magazine Talkers.

"When every day you're doing politics, and you have an agenda, people expect it," he said. "It doesn't have as much influence as a trusted person who is so moved to speak out that he breaks his own format."

Mr. Stern offers only faint praise for Democrat John Kerry but says that the Massachusetts senator must be better than the status quo. "My audience is the swing vote," he told his listeners Friday.

Mr. Harrison said the pointed criticism is bound to raise doubts about the commander-in-chief among some listeners.

"Stern's change of position on George W. Bush is one of the most significant political developments in talk radio," Mr. Harrison said.

It will be interesting to see if John Kerry does anything to court Howard Stern voters. I seriously doubt that he would overtly court them, as there would surely be a backlash, but some sort of courting of Stern's listeners covertly or through surrogates could prove effective. Any thoughts? Or can anyone think of what the Howard Stern swing voter should be called?

And for those of you who believe that the FCC is getting carried away with broadcast regulations and fines for "indecency", check out Stop FCC.com for more information.

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Bill O'Reilly is a Racist

By Andrew Dobbs

I don't like to throw the word "racist" around a whole lot- I think that people on the left over use it. I doubt that very many Republicans are actual racists, in fact, I would say that in all of the US Congress, maybe 5 or 6 of them could be considered straight up racists and we have a couple of our own I'm sure. I think that there is danger in using that word frivolously, but even worse is to ignore real ignorance and hate when you see it. It seems as though Mr. Bill O'Reilly might be an honest-to-god racist.

From Atrios:

O'REILLY: Thanks for staying with us. I'm Bill O'Reilly.

In THE FACTOR "Follow-Up" Segment tonight, we've been following the various demographic shifts throughout America, and now the Census Bureau estimates, by the year 2050, white Americans will make up less than 50 percent of the population. How will that change the USA?

Joining us now from Washington is Dr. William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution. Here in the studio, John McManus, the editor in chief of "American Demographics" magazine.

So I guess this is being driven by Hispanics, right, with all the illegal immigration, millions of people coming in here and the higher birth rate among Hispanics in America. That's what's driving this?

JOHN MCMANUS, "AMERICAN DEMOGRAPHICS": The Hispanic population is the greatest increase that we'll see over the time period that we're talking about. Illegal immigration is a portion of the story, but it's the increase in -- rapid increase in immigration and birth rate in people of Hispanic origin that we'll see.

O'REILLY: All right. Because black birth rate is fairly stable, right?

MCMANUS: Proportionately, black birth rate and increases in their population will level out and be less significant in growth in that time period. I think Bill will be able to address the numbers better than I can, but...

O'REILLY: OK. And how about Asian? What's the situation with that?

MCMANUS: Asian -- we're going to see a 213 percent increase, according to the Census Bureau projection, and so that will be a very rapid increase of the percentage of their population in the U.S. as well.

O'REILLY: All right. Now, Doctor, the Census Bureau really doesn't tell us how this is going to affect the country. Do you have any theories on it?

WILLIAM FREY, PH.D., BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: Well, I really think what's happening is going to be this phasing out or fading out of the white baby boom population. It is a 50-year time period we're talking about...

O'REILLY: Yes. We'll all be dead. Thank God, right?

Now, I don't have the rest of the transcript, so O'Reilly might just be waxing at how he hopes he dies sometime soon (and I'm sure there are some out there who would join him in that sentiment), but it seems pretty clear that O'Reilly is spouting off some pretty harsh anti-immigrant, anti-minority sentiment. I don't know if O'Reilly really is a white supremecist or if he's just an idiot, but fact of the matter is, this stuff is out there and we need to see some outrage at this sort of ignorance.

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February 25, 2004

Shame on Urban Outfitters

By Byron LaMasters

This is NOT COOL.

Yeah, it's via Drudge. Grrr. If I see someone wearing one, I'll have a few choice words to say the least (and that's if I'm having a good day)...

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February 12, 2004

Helping a Brother Out

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Though I never had a chance to write about it on this blog, while in Iowa I was part of a special group called the PrAP-C, the Pre-Arrival Processing Center, which I described in more detail in my original writings.

One of the people that was part of that group was a guy by the name of Anthony D'Amato, a singer beyond my imagination who was in the Top 100 for the latest round of American Idol this year.

I received an e-mail from him the other day about something great that has happened in his life and wanted to share it with you because it's one of those things in life that is so unpredictable that it makes you just smile. Anthony has been asked to emcee/host for the first national Clay Aiken Convention (of American Idol 2, if you remember). As a friend, fellow Dean supporter, and believer in the power of the Internet to bring people and ideas together, I offer you his story...


Okay, folks, here's my situation. I was recently asked to join in being an emcee/host for the first national Clayvention (yes, you got it... a huge gathering of Clay Aiken fans or "Claymates", from around the country) in Raleigh, North Carolina. As a fan of Clay, this will be a great experience and opportunity, and I will get to meet many of the people I have been interacting with for a long time. Also, it will be a great addition to the resume. However... I have a problem...


I can't afford it. Although some arrangements are being taken care of for me, it seems like I won't be able to afford it in time. I have to fly myself down and take care of a few things down there. What is a poor, starving artist to do?


Some friends decided that I should ask for donations through my website, and offer something in the near future in return, and that's what I've decided to do. I've spent the past few months working locally and nationally for the Howard Dean campaign, all of which is volunteer. I've met some great people and have learned things that I have never known; these things may lead to a future career. Also, I've been spending a lot of time writing original music that will soon be available... trying to further my career as a vocal musician. Though jobs have come and gone, I don't have one right now... and getting one before the event will be near impossible due to TOO many scheduled conflicts.


I'm asking for a donation... of any kind, large or small. Help a brother out! You've all helped me so much in the past, and I do what I can to help you back. If you think I should have this great chance, please donate whatever you can by clicking the donation link and moving the meter up!

* a signed copy of Anthony's soon to be recorded demo, which will feature original songs and covers.

* a complimentary ticket to an upcoming solo show in the near future, OR a LIVE RECORDING of that show.
* a signed copy of Anthony's soon to be recorded demo, which will feature original songs and covers.


I will, of course, accept anything large or small. $1, less or more, anything you can do so that I can reach my goal. I can't thank you enough for even visiting the site and perhaps being interested for one second. The people who support me early on in my career will never be forgotten, for you are the people who have fueled my energy and creativity throughout the years.


I really hope that some of you will consider this and spread the word if you wish. I have attached a picture of us two in the extended entry as proof that this is the "Real Deal".

(You didn't think I was really going to make it through an entry without some political humor, did you?)

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January 07, 2004

Lying about Lattes

By Jim Dallas

As noted by Atrios, there are exactly two Starbucks retail locations in the state of Vermont.

Let's do a little more research here.

There are 395 locations in Texas. There are nearly 200 times as many Starbucks locations in Texas.

Even when you work this out on a per-capita basis, there is one Starbucks location in Vermont for every 307,000 Vermonters, versus one Texas location for every 53,987 Texans. In other words, there are over five times as many Starbucks locations on a per-person basis in Texas than there are in Vermont.

Since the market would never lie to us, we can safely assume who the real latte-sippers are.

This is only the beginning of the the untrue stereotypes offered by the newest Club for Growth ad, which offers this wisdom:

"Howard Dean should take his tax-hiking, government-expanding, latte-drinking, sushi-eating, Volvo-driving, New York Times-reading ..." before the farmer's wife then finishes the sentence: "... Hollywood-loving, left-wing freak show back to Vermont, where it belongs!"

Some of these facts are easy to refute. As Governor, Howard Dean cut taxes in Vermont on multiple occasions. And between 1995 and 2001, Vermont state government expenditures grew at roughly the same annual rate as state government expenditures in Texas (about 9 percent for Vermont; about 7 percent for Texas).

According to the SuperPages.Com yellow pages informs us that there are not a single sushi restaraunt listed in Vermont! By comparison, there are dozens of sushi restaraunts listed in Texas.

Sushiref.com yields a different result. According to that site, there are two restaraunts which offer sushi in Burlington, and two in Rutland. A total of four locations.

In contrast, there are more sushi restaraunts in Austin (home of so many Bushies, e.g. Scott McClellan and Karl Rove.) alone, which has roughly the same population as the state of Vermont. There are 86 sushi restaraunt locations in Texas.

I don't conveniently have any statistics on vehicle registrations, New York Times subscriptions (which would probably be internal information anyway), or any means to effectively quantify "Hollywood-loving".

But it seems to me that many of the same attributes the Club for Growth would ascribe to Dean and his supporters could apply equally to Bush and his supporters.

Now, when can we expect George W. Bush to take his government-expanding, latte-drinking, sushi-eating, Volvo-driving, New York Times-reading, Hollywood-loving, right-wing freak show back to Texas, where it belongs?"

Perhaps a better question might be, when will we get past our shallow regional stereotypes about "cultural elitist" New Englanders (and the equally disingenuous stereotype that all Red Staters are "just folks")?

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December 02, 2003

Redheads: Move to Austin

By Byron LaMasters

Looking for love? Check out the results of the Match.com survey as reported by CNN

Men and women with red hair, for instance, are most in demand in Austin, Texas, and least in demand in Miami, according to the Match.com data.

Check it out for more interesting tidbits about where to find your match!

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November 20, 2003

The Diary of A Long-Suffering Astros Fan

By Jim Dallas

Charles Kuffner takes a look at how the Astros might have blown a chance to pick up free-agent Andy Pettite for next year.

Not only would the Astros benefit from having a star like Pettite, but it would also perhaps encourage some people (like a certain family member of mine) who are Yankess fans "because they've got all the hot guys" to come on home to Minute Maid Park.

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October 29, 2003

Two shameless plugs

By Jim Dallas

First, I encourage the entire Burnt Orange Report readership to watch CBS's miniseries The Reagans, which will air next month.

The first reason why this is mission critical is because it will piss off Mark Harden (which is practically an end-in-itself).

The second reason is because, despite reactionary whinings about "distortions" and "bias", it may very well present an engaging portrait of what Washington was really like in the go-go 80s (much the same way that Billy Lee Brammer's The Gay Place was said to capture a better caricature of Lyndon Johnson that any of his official biographers ever did; and much the same way that Joe Klein's Primary Colors captures Clinton). Sometimes a little interpolation and "creative writing" is necessary to express what's in somebody's soul, and as Ronald Reagan has been one of the most bedeviling great men of our era to pigeon-hole, perhaps a little "distortion" is necessary.

In any case, a miniseries ought to be judged as art (containing the truth in broad strokes) and not as history, accurate down to the last detail.

(And for pete's sake, the claim that Reagan is being played by "Barbara Streisand's husband" is just stupid. How many actors can pass as Ronald Reagan these days, besides James Brolin?)

The second shameless plug of the evening is a quickie. It's roll call time again in the National Government Simulation (Sign In | Home Page | Sim Democratic Party HQ). It's sort of like an Internet version of a model Congress/model UN -- or would be if we had enough people to make it function properly. Until then, we'll probably sit around in our virtual Tavern and talk about how hopelessly emo we all are. Woe is us.

Everyone who wants to participate is welcome, especially if you can help me pass my national healthcare reform package, my gay-rights bill, and education funding bill. Every vote on the "floor" and in committee helps. Not to mention the fact I'm gonna need to register some new "voters" to get re-elected as the Senior Senator from Texas in December (ha! how's that for subverting the dominant paradigm!)

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September 27, 2003

More on Metrosexuality

By Byron LaMasters

Here's another test you can try. My first post on the topic is here. Or you can just read Maureen Dowd's parody on Arnold the Metrosexual.

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September 12, 2003

Man in Black passes on at age 71

By Jim Dallas

From CBS (thanks also to Atrios):

(CBS/AP) The entertainment world Friday mourned the passing of legendary country music star Johnny Cash and well-known television actor John Ritter.

Cash, a towering figure in American music, died early Friday at the age of 71.

"Johnny died due to complications from diabetes, which resulted in respiratory failure," said Cash's manager, Lou Robin, in a press release issued by Baptist Hospital in Nashville.

Cash had been released from Baptist on Wednesday where he had spent two weeks being treated for an unspecified stomach ailment.

"I hope that friends and fans of Johnny will pray for the Cash family to find comfort during this very difficult time," Robin said.

Cash's career spanned country, rock and folk.

"Johnny Cash was a giant," Rolling Stone magazine contributing editor Anthony DeCurtis told CBS Radio News. "Johnny Cash was in there at the beginning with Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis and Sam Phillips at Sun Records. Making a record like 'I Walk The Line' really helped define the early days of rock 'n roll."

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September 07, 2003

Where's the Outrage?

By Byron LaMasters

I've been impressed with several of the opinion columns in the Daily Texan already this semester, and here's another. Rafael Mittlefehldt asks why is the right-wing not outraged over the kiss between Madonna and Britney Spears? Personally, I thought that it was pretty hot, but it's interesting that the right has been relatively quiet on it.

If there's one part of pop-culture that makes me think the world is going to hell, it's the recent exponential growth of reality shows. However, there are dozens of things about pop-culture that make me think the world is going to hell. This week, it was the MTV Video Music Awards ceremony.

Shows like this make me glad my little 13-inch isn't cable-ready. If you've read a newspaper, used the Internet or watched TV in the last week, you have seen the picture of Madonna French-kissing Britney Spears. If not, you were probably looking for it. Pervert.

I realized the other day why all the news about the kiss annoyed me so much. It's because the only media outlets reporting on it with any sort of enthusiasm are, say, MTV News or Teen People. These guys are in the entertainment business, and their brand of glossy fabu-reporting reflects that. That's fine, because that's what they're paid to do, but I realized I was only disappointed because I was looking for real political debate. Yet all the stories out there about the event have been about the actual kiss, not any reaction.

This silence is rather significant. There is no lamentation from the pope. There's no call to arms from Billy Graham. The president has not hinted that perhaps the Video Music Awards ought to be codified in some way. There aren't any stories about the reaction, because there isn't any reaction.

This might not seem so out of the ordinary, since it was just a stupid show that no one takes seriously anyway. Then again, there's almost always a very public reaction to publicized homosexual behavior. This time, an entire sector of the religious community known for stepping in at times like these has decided to leave the entertainment industry alone. Eerily enough, no one's made a sound. Why?

Well, I took a sociology class a couple years ago, so I know why. It's because the homoeroticism in question involved women rather than men.

A friend of mine pointed out that if it had been two guys kissing at the awards ceremony, people would've gone nuts. Religious leaders everywhere would have called thousands of press conferences to officially denounce MTV. Bill O'Reilly would be booked through next April. Millions of old people across America would have written letters to the editor.

The reason for this blatantly conditional response is simple: Lesbians are just a lot cooler than gay men - in the eyes of conservative America. Notice how a vast majority of religious and conservative political leaders are male. There's little need to explain this in any great detail. Regardless of their views on homosexuality, a photo of attractive women kissing probably affects them more than they're willing to admit. Lesbian eroticism is still highly popular among homophobes.

Besides, they do have a lot more biblical support than most people might believe. Think the Bible condemns all homosexuality? You'd be wrong. It only condemns male homosexuality. Look at Leviticus 18:22: "You shall not lie with a man as with a woman. That is an abomination." The passage is clearly speaking only to one gender. Similarly, the story of Sodom in Genesis, Chapter 19, only describes the attempted gang-rape of men by men. And yeah, there might be something in Romans 1:26 that mentions passive lesbianism, but two out of three is pretty good. The first two books are older anyway.

Clearly, homosexuality isn't really in question at all. Reverse sexism is the real issue. Men everywhere - gay or straight - should be unwilling to stand for this, and demand equal treatment from the subtly oppressive opposite sex.

We'll all be watching the awards ceremony closely next year. Only when Jack Black and Snoop Dogg make their own headlines can we be assured a victory.

Posted at 07:39 PM to Pop Culture | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack

August 26, 2003

Freshman Diaries in Person

By Byron LaMasters

I may just go to this. I blogged on the show earlier, here. Anyone want to go with me?

Emmy Award-winning executive producer R.J. Cutler and Showtime go to college with “Freshman Diaries”

Free sneak preview screening of the first episode of Showtime’s “Freshman Diaries,” a documentary television series focusing on the lives of University of Texas at Austin freshmen produced on campus from September 2002 to May 2003. The series premieres on Showtime, Sunday, Aug. 31.

The 12 University of Texas at Austin students starring in the documentary will be on hand, along with Emmy Award-winning executive producer and director R.J. Cutler, to introduce the documentary and answer questions. The series follows the lives of a group of students from move-in day to finals, taking the audience on a journey of what it means to be an adult for the very first time.

The shooting style is pure documentary filmmaking; the aim—to become part of the woodwork. Tiny crews of just two or three people closely follow the day-to-day lives of the students. Small cameras and minimal sound gear is used, and there is never any lighting, cables or heavy equipment whatsoever. The filmmakers pride themselves on being unobtrusive and consider it critical that they impact the environment in which they work as minimally as possible.

The sneak preview screening is sponsored by the College of Communication, the Department of Radio-Television-Film and The University of Texas Film Institute

Free sneak preview screening tickets will be available starting Wednesday, Aug. 27 at the Student Events Center ticket office on the fourth floor of the Texas Union (room 4.300). First come, first serve. A University of Texas ID is required. Limit two tickets per person.

WHEN: 6 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 28

WHERE: Texas Union Theater, The University of Texas at Austin

Posted at 11:45 PM to Pop Culture | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 20, 2003

Cell Phones

By Byron LaMasters

I got a new cell phone the other day. It's always a hassle to re-enter-in everyone, but it's also amusing to go through and find people that you have absolutely no clue who they were, or how you met them. And other people who you see in there and chuckle to yourself wondering why they're still in your phone book since you haven't seen or talked to them in months.. or years. I'm proud to say that I almost shrunk my cell phone list in half - from 138 to 71 now that I've completed my transfer.

Posted at 11:15 PM to Pop Culture | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

August 13, 2003

Scientists Plot Hubble's Demise

By Jim Dallas

And now for something totally different...

Sky and Telescope has an interesting story on what lies ahead for the Hubble Space Telescope.

After 13 years on-orbit, the HST is one of a shrinking pool of accomplishments NASA can point to these days (even after its initial vision impairment brought embarassment to the space agency). It's kind of like a celebrity, just like J. Lo. Well, maybe not exactly.

In any case, all good things must come to an end, and Hubble is going to have to go if NASA is going to afford bigger and better space telescopes. But when and how NASA is going to kill its school-bus-sized satellite is a matter of much controversy...

Grab your propeller-cap and pocket-protector and just read the S&T article, OK?

Posted at 04:53 PM to Pop Culture | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 07, 2003

And I thought Texas Politics was Bizarre

By Byron LaMasters

Get your Georgy for Governor Thong!

And the sad thing is that she's one of the "normal" candidates. Just wait to see what the porn star and the smut peddler will be offering to sell on their campaign sites. *Sigh*

Posted at 02:13 AM to National Politics | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

July 25, 2003

Okie from Muskogee blasts Bush's war

By Jim Dallas

Back when I posted on the Dixie Chick baring all, I took a little heat for being out of touch with the legends of country music.

Well... that problem didn't take long to fix.

Merle Haggard, who is probably best known for berating hippies and Vietnam protesters in songs like "The Fightin' Side of Me," and "Proud to be an Okie from Muskogee" (parodied by Kinky Friedman in "Asshole from El Paso"), has broken into the news again - and this time he's not so bellicose.

(In fairness, Haggard did a lot of other stuff too, "Rainbow Stew" and various collaborations of "Pancho and Lefty" being favorites).

Last month, Haggard expressed doubts about Iraqi WMDs and the war on terrorism:

"When you're tearing down our country, whether it's from the inside or the outside, I'm against it. I'd like to see America proud and unafraid again,” he said. “And I don't know if that will ever occur in my lifetime ... But that's what I hope."


And Haggard says he has questions about the aftermath of the war in Iraq and the war on terror.

“I wish we could find some weapons of mass destruction and I wish we could find Saddam Hussein (search). I wish we could find Usama bin Laden (search), and is it really going to happen, is there a chance of that, or is it just going to be swept under the carpet and forgot about?”

The cut of "That's the News" (part of a forthcoming new Merle album, to be released in September) reflects a lot of those doubts - and goes a lot farther than the Fox News story (above) last month suggested.

Nonetheless, audience reaction to Haggard was positive in Southern California (as the LA Times reports):

Just moments after 1,000 or so fans attending the Electric Barnyard tour cheered a spirited rendition of "Fightin' Side," a hush fell as Haggard began the new song in this agricultural center, where an electronic sign on the edge of town states the time, the temperature and "God Bless America":

Suddenly it's over

The war is finally done

Soldiers in the desert sand

Still clinging to a gun.

No one is the winner

And everyone must lose

Suddenly the war is over

That's the news.

It's usually hard for audiences to absorb a song on first listening, and a few fans sitting on lawn chairs in front of the stage seemed puzzled about references to "tabloids" being back in style and "someone missing in Modesto." But the crowd applauded strongly at the end. A few even held their beer cups high in salute.

The song's key line is the one about the news, Haggard said earlier in the week in San Bernardino, another stop on the ambitious, grass-roots tour that fellow singer Marty Stuart designed to reexamine country music's small-town roots.

"It's terrible what happened to that woman and her baby, but on the stage of world topics, how can that be the biggest news every day?" Haggard asked, referring to the apparent murder last December of Laci Peterson and her unborn son.

"Where is the importance? Who is calling the shots at the media, saying 'Let's take that feed from Modesto'? Doesn't that make you want to say, 'Hold it, we've got these men and women over there in Iraq'?"

Haggard was standing in the back of his custom tour bus on the National Orange Show Events Center grounds, and it was clear that he's also frustrated by many of the issues surrounding the war —including the country's long-range policy.

In another line in the song, Haggard sings:

Politicians do all the talking

Soldiers pay the dues

Suddenly the war is over

That's the news.

"I'm the 'fightin side of me,' " Haggard said. "I'm gung-ho about everything our armed forces do. God bless them. They are over there and we ought to be proud. I hope they still have some over here, protecting us. We seem to be spreading ourselves too thin. We are talking about going into some other country, going to liberate somebody else.

"What is this? Are we just sort of stumbling around in the dark? Is there any long-term plan at all or are we just running our own wars as we go?"

Asked if he feels there is any contradiction between the questioning of "That's the News" and the flag-waving of songs such as "Okie From Muskogee" and "The Fightin' Side of Me," Haggard looked surprised.

"I think the guy who wrote 'Fightin' Side of Me' was a patriotic American and I think the guy who wrote this new song is also a patriotic American," he said.

In an editorial on his Web site, Haggard writes:

My closest buddy in 1951, had just got out of the Marine Corps, because they found out he was to young to be a Marine. Besides that, he received an undesirable discharge for whippin' his sergeant. He wanted to reenlist because he was now 18. He straightened up his past don't you see. I was 14 and we thought it might be better to change our names. We enlisted under the names of Bobby Eugene and Roy Leslie Davis. Point being we wanted more than anything to be Marines during the Korean conflict. My older brother James L and cousin Gerald harp were both decorated Marines and saw active battle in world war 2 in the battle of Okinawa, Iwo Jima, and Patalou, I went to both of their funerals with my family. I still get goose bumps when I think about the 21-gun salute and the Marine with a tear in his eye who handed the flag to my brother's wife, Fran. I doubt there are few who care more about the flag than I do.

I went to volunteer for the Marines at the tender age of 14 and I'm convinced I would have given my life. I'm sure if necessary. I'd do the same today. But 14-year olds don't ask questions and they certainly don't begin to understand politics. This nation has a history of being a warrior. Young men always pay the dues. And it was America's way to always be behind what America was doing. And the issues and the reasons why were always argued after the fact. Speaking of after the fact it's a national shame the way we treat our vets. You see, to be an American you want to respect everything you know about this great country. Those who have the gumption to investigate, know that the reputation of honesty between the government and the people cannot reflect the reason for a single man to have confidence in what were doing in current day conditions. I'm suspicious, I'm paranoid, and I'm afraid. And the person who says he isn't has not looked up or around lately.

I don't even know the Dixie chicks, but I find it an insult for all the men and women who fought and died in past wars when almost the majority of America jumped down their throats for voicing an opinion. It was like a verbal witch-hunt and lynching. Whether I agree with their comments or not has no bearing. And in the same breath let me say that I have become a fan of this new little kid, Toby Keith. There is some humor in me calling Toby Keith little. God bless this great country and I pray he keeps a close eye on us in these last days. And God knows the headlines of today surely indicate that were living in that time now. Seems lately we're awfully quick to criticize and pleased with ourselves to be part of the majority. As a country we need to look inward for the answers to the energy of the future. We need to bring down our demands for oil, rebuild some bridges and highways and allow the farmers to grow something that replenishes the soil. Those who don't know what that is, should do some research. The problem is not in Iraq and the answers are not in Iran. I hope were not buried alive beneath this pending financial collapse if the pipeline doesn't get through. Surely everything doesn't depend on oil!

So to summarize, we've got one of the greatest country music stars of all time (and not Willie Nelson, either!) saying that the war in Iraq is:

  • about politics and oil
  • putting our troops at risk
  • making America less safe
  • sowing division and discord

Sounds like Bush is walking on the fightin' side of him - and let's not forget, Haggard almost singularly gave us the patriotic catchphrase "Love it Or Leave It."

Posted at 06:09 PM to Pop Culture | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack

July 20, 2003

Jimbo's Grab Bag, 20.July.03

By Jim Dallas

DCI marches through Texas; The Houston Press says 2003 might be "Turner time"; Michael Berry goes nuts; and the Houston Chronicle says NASA is lost in space.

Get your roll (and your tap, and your flam, and your diddle) on

I had an opportunity to go up to Rice Stadium in Houston on Friday to catch this year's "ExSightment of Sound", which brought down five Division I drum and bugle corps including the Cavaliers of Rosemont, Ill., the defending world champions. Thanks to my roommate and buddy Dave for letting me in on this.

The San Antonio Revolution, a Division II corps, also performed.

The Boston Crusaders and Cadets (Bergenfield, NJ) are both doing "Malaguena" this year. The piece has probably been done umpteen gajillion times in the past, but both corps still made it fun. As usual, the Santa Clara Vanguard show was weird, but far more accessible to non-musicians such as myself than last year's.

About 6000 people - mostly high-school band kids - were in attendance.

Drum corps also made stops this last week in Leander, Midland, Dallas, El Paso and San Antonio.

Everything you ever wanted to know about Sylvester Turner*
*But were afraid to ask.

Tim Fleck of the Houston Press has a piece on Sylvester Turner this week which ought to be required reading for those following the Houston mayoral race.

It's kind of puffy though, be warned:

Snaking with his entourage through the chanting crowd of 1,500 or so, the candidate seemed more like a heavyweight boxer headed to the ring of some Vegas prize fight. Sylvester Turner, the still-youthful-looking state representative ready for his mayoral rematch, mounted the Hyatt Regency stage in front of an imposing red-and-black graphic of the Houston skyline, while Tina Turner's "Simply the Best" thundered over the PA. As he began to speak, those who had closely followed his 1991 campaign must have had the sensation they were switching on a TV and catching an early scene from an all-too-familiar movie.

"My dad taught me something in living and dying," Turner declared in his lilting orator's voice. "When you get knocked down, you got to learn how to pull yourself right back up. This evening I offer myself as a candidate for mayor of this great city."

In this remake, the character at the ballroom microphone is the squeaky-clean Horatio Alger Sylvester, the sixth of nine children born to a painter and a Rice Hotel maid, the brilliant student who starred from Klein High School to the University of Houston to Harvard Law School. From there the story shifts to the contract law offices of Barnes & Turner and successful attorney Sylvester, who won his north Houston seat in the Texas House and carved a legislative record to be envied by his peers.

Then the script begins to diverge from the 1991 version. Legislator Sylvester touts his recent elevation by Republican House Speaker Tom Craddick to speaker pro tempore, and his advancing to become one of ten lawmakers on the powerful appropriations committee faced with solving massive budget deficits.

There are other plot improvements. This time around, Sylvester is blessedly free of an embittered wife. She'd made token, sour-faced appearances on the campaign trail clutching their little girl, but had secretly retained a private eye to investigate her husband. And other than a legal misstep last year -- he was fined by the Texas State Bar for inadequately representing a client in a divorce -- the candidate's professional life has not provided grist for negative media stories.

The half-million or so Houston voters who weren't around in 1991 may need a quick synopsis of the original Sylvester flick: An overachieving, innocent homeboy is within a whisker of becoming Houston's first black mayor. Then he's attacked for personal flaws such as failing to pay a college loan, magnified by a media blitz from a hardball opponent.

On the eve of a tight runoff election, Channel 13 investigative reporter Wayne Dolcefino drops allegations that our hero may have been in on an insurance fraud scheme. The stories are never confirmed; Turner is never charged with anything; but the news reports are devastating. He narrowly loses to former mayor Bob Lanier and then wages a legal jihad against Channel 13 in a showcase libel suit.

By reminding me of Wayne Dolcefino - who in other parts of his ignominious career with Channel 13 has probably managed to tick of just about everyone in the KTRK viewing area - Fleck has managed to make me pretty sympathetic to Turner. Sort of the same way I always root for any football team that can beat the Dallas Cowboys.

For more on the candidates check out Off the Kuff, the other "must read" for spectators of Houston politics.

Call in the Cavalry, or send in the clowns?

Speaking of Houston politics, Michael Berry is running a really - uh, silly - campaign commercial on Houston radio right now. Despite being a bit behind in the money race, Berry decided to try to use humor (well, I suppose this is humorous?!?) to stake out turf as the "fiscally responsible" candidate:

Download the ad here.

It's great to use a little humor to dull the edge of political attacks, but the cartoonishness of this ad makes it hard to believe. Everytime I hear this commercial at work, I giggle like a schoolgirl. It's that bad.

But then again, who's supposed to believe that Berry knows what he's doing, anyway? (Thanks Kuff!)

Danger Will Robinson! Danger Danger!

Finally, 34 years after putting men on the moon, NASA is facing some pretty hefty charges from... the hometown paper. The Houston Chronicle is running a six-part series on how NASA is mismanaging the nation's space program:

Twice before, the space agency dealt with human tragedy and moved on, making changes to hardware and management practices. There was no widespread clamor for a new direction or a call to justify the mission at hand.

The same cannot be said today. The Columbia tragedy has forced into the open long-standing concerns that the nation's human space program is seriously adrift and needs far more repair than a new skin on the shuttle. Scores of interviews with space advocates, policy experts, congressional committee staff, members of Congress, industry executives and former NASA officials -- as well as a nationwide survey of the public conducted for the Chronicle -- give voice to a notion previously unthinkable: Astronauts may have died pursuing goals that are not worthy.

But... the Weekly World News provides ammunition for those who would think otherwise, with a full story on President Bush's plan to invade the moon and make it the fifty-first state!

Best damned investigative reporting on the planet, indeed!

Posted at 01:00 PM to Pop Culture | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 11, 2003

UT Reality TV!

By Byron LaMasters

A friend of a friend of mine was one of the people filmed for this show. I remember, because I has having a party / get together at my apartment, and my friend asked if her friend, and a cameraman could come, because she was part of this TV show. I'll probably be watching the series this fall on Showtime. The Houston Chronicle has the story:

They go to bars. They party hearty. They have sex. Oh, they also go to class -- at the University of Texas.

They are 15 young people who agreed to have their lives documented on camera, from move-in day to final exams of school year 2002-2003, for a Showtime series called Freshman Diaries. The 10-episode reality show, produced by R.J. Cutler, will premiere Aug. 31 on Showtime.

Parents, man your checkbooks. You're about to get a taste of just what your kids are up to when you live here and they live there -- on your dime, in most cases. Actually, I've seen only a few clips of the show, and they were relatively tame -- for 18- and 19-year-olds still trying to find themselves, that is.

Like Neil McGurk of Plano. He's certain he's into guys, but finds himself uncomfortably attracted to a, gulp, girl in one of the clips shown here at the Television Critics Association's summer press tour.

Then there's Joshua McGinnis from Tarkington, near Cleveland (that's Texas, not Ohio). What will the future hold when he learns he's about to become an unwed father?

Neil, Josh and the other freshmen were familiar with Cutler's American High series, which documented the lives of some Illinois high-schoolers. They enthusiastically agreed to participate. Camera crews followed them around, and they became video diarists on their own. Each was given a camera and learned how to make videos of themselves as they coped with class, sex, roommates and UT's humongous campus.

Posted at 01:48 PM to Pop Culture | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

July 07, 2003

Legally Blonde 2: A Burnt Movie Review

By Jim Dallas

Coincidentally, it seems, both Byron and I happen to have the same taste in movies. I say this because, in this last Terminator-dominated weekend, both of us decided to indulge our silly sides by checking out Reese Witherspoon in Legally Blonde 2: Red White and Blonde.

After a phone chat yesterday with Byron yesterday, I've put together some talking points for Austin-based chick-flick connoisseurs:

  • Rep. Libby Hauser (who is played by Dana Ivey), the tough-as-nails ranking member on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, is referenced several times in the dialogue as a Texan. A scene during which Elle and her comrades lobby Hauser in the hallway clearly shows that the glass door of her office reads "10th District of Texas" (although another scene later in the movie reads "31st District of Texas"). Both districts include parts of the Austin metropolitan area.

  • Hauser is also apparently a Democrat, as she is the ranking member on the committee chaired by "conservative, NRA spokesman" Alabama Republican Stan Marks (Bruce McGill). Hmmm, a fictional doggie-loving congresswoman representing Lloyd Doggett's district?

  • Byron notes that while Elle is brought to Washington by the (fictional) Rep. Victoria Rudd (Sally Field), there are no woman currently serving in congress from the state of Massachusetts. So while one is cautioned never to underestimate a woman with a Harvard Law degree and a French manicure, one can safely assume that Rudd is not modeled on a real-life Bay State rep.

  • Despite the fact that in the fantasy Washington of LB2 there is more cheery-eyed fluff than since the last time Nancy Reagan was in town, the movie earned a PG-13 from the folks over at the MPAA. It seems that middle America may not yet be ready for gay (yes, gay!) dog jokes. Consider this otherwise-postive review from Crosswalk.com:

    The one element in this otherwise well-written story that I found to be unnecessary and typical of Hollywood writers these days is when screenwriter Kate Kondell felt it necessary to infuse the script with gay-related themes. Elle's personal assistant in her law firm is portrayed as stereotypically gay. Then there's a whole running gag about gay dogs … I kid you not … gay dogs. When a dog groomer caring for both Bruiser and a Congressman's dog tells Elle and the Congressman that the dogs were trying to "hump" each other and that she supports a "healthy curiosity" among dogs, she then declares, "Your dogs are gay." The conservative congressman (McGill ) then asks, "Why me?" stating that he told his wife not to buy the dog in Dupont Circle (a large gay neighborhood in Washington, D.C.). He ends up joining Elle and supporting her bill because of the incident, later declaring to his constituents gathered to pass Elle's bill that his dog is a "flamer". The scene was ridiculous and the premise didn't work with the rest of the movie; it would have been a better movie without it. Not only is that whole subplot silly, but it smacks of the "political incorrectness" of writers these days who are trying to bring "awareness" to the gay agenda, even if it's using dogs as the subjects.

    In fairness, the folks over at Crosswalk.com are level-headed, intelligent, mainstream people. But I'll bet money that Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson will make some silly comment about "gay dogs taking over America." Particularly if LB2 outgrosses the first Legally Blonde, which made $97 million. So far the sequel has drawn $39.1 million since opening last Wednesday (it was second behind T3 at the box office this weekend).

Until next time, this is the Burnt Orange Movie Critic, signing off...

Posted at 06:06 PM to Pop Culture | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack

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