Monday, November 27, 2006

News to America: It's a Civil War


If this is not a civil war, Wolf, I don't want to see one when it comes.
-- CNN Correspondent Michael Ware in Baghdad to the Situation Room's Wolf Blitzer.
Today's news has several stories on whether what's happening in Iraq can now be called a Civil War. News Flash, Newsmedia: This question of "Is Iraq a civil war," was predicted for Iraq in 2004. I guess now that the violence has reached a point today were NBC can declare 'officially' that "Civil War" is the correct term for what's happening in Iraq, we can all freaking agree that it's a Civil War! Whooboy, thanks for that clarification, you news reporting, vanilla ice cream brain frozen media numbnuts, because I thought for the past few years that I was just going out of my fucking mind, cause to me, it looked like a Civil War a while ago. Dear Flying Spaghetti Monster in the beer mountain firmament, who in their right mind COULD NOT THINK A CIVIL WAR WAS A'COMING NOT TO MENTION, ALREADY HERE?!?

Jiminy freaking cricket!
Jumping jehosophat!

Ack.

I guess now we can 'safely' discuss the facts of this war.

The facts as I personally see them are:
Fact #1: We started this Civil War.
Fact #2: We started this fucking Civil War because our leaders are incompetent boobs who lied to us and adeptly went about this war to help their bottom line.
Fact #3: It's a Civil War. End of story. Move on.
Fact #4: We Americans, as a unified nation (some fucking how) have got to get off of our asses and really tackle the problem of Iraq. Together.
Fact #5: Unfortunately, we have no fucking clue what to do to fix the problem.
Fact #6: We're all fucked.

OK, there are some things we can do to fix Fact #5:
1. Get out of Iraq. I don't know what's going to happen to the people of Iraq. I do care about what happens to the people of Iraq. I care about what happens to our men and women there as well. I know that us staying there is not the solution and is only making the problem worse.
2. Go back to the drawing board. Go back to the place where we dropped the ball first: Afghanistan. Shore that up now.
3. Start talking to not only the Israelis, but the Palestinians, the Syrians, the Russians (and shall I add, tell them to stop killing journalists and ex-spies), the Saudis, the Koreans, the wooly space monsters. Talk to anyone about anything. Talk about the weather, for all I care, just start talking.
4. Start using diplomacy. God, I wish Colin Powell were at least still Secretary of State. Condi is too contaminated to be affective anymore. Powell still has some modicum of respect in the world, if only an iota.
5. Smack the American people up side the head to get them involved in this war thing. How do you do that? The draft legislation that Rep. Charles Rangel, of New York, talks about might be one thing to do, but another way is to actually have an administration that will stop using bullheaded rhetoric laced with Christian eschatology. Lou Dobbs tonight asked three former military leaders what they thought our biggest mistakes have been in Iraq. Retired General Bernard Trainor said, "We have failed to mobilize the Nation." To do what, I don't know, but it's better than not even knowing we are at war.

Here's some more coherent things we can do, as suggested by this 'gold-leafed' er, "blue ribbon" (whatever) panel, the Iraq Study Group.

Other that, I got nothing. I'm willing to put my head together with the rest of the Nation to figure this crap out. Fact #6, though, is that we're still all fucked. It's mindboggling. But at least we now know it's a freaking Civil War.


iOblivious t-shirt, in the RottenApples series, may be purchased from Good Storm.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Sanjay Gupta, MD: Mythic TV Doctor Billboard


While on my little adventure last week trying to find David Blaine, I ended up in Times Square. I did two things (besides not seeing Blaine because I was two days too early).

First, I visited the much heralded "Charmin Holiday Toilettes," and secondly,


I saw the giant billboard of CNN's own Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and started laughing.

He makes house calls around the world. I wonder if he goes to Peoria?

Notice that Dr. Gupta is "investigating, examining, reporting." Am I the only one disturbed by the lack of curing? And yes, I know, that Dr. Gupta is a dedicated brain surgeon. He looks like he cures, yes? Well, at least he looks earnest. I like Dr. Gupta, just not so sure about the larger than life advertising campaign.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Black Friday 2006: Fur at Bergdorf Edition

Anti-fur Protestors Start the Holiday Season at Bergdorf-Goodman, Fifth Avenue and 58th Street, Black Friday, 2006

One of my favorite things to do during the Holidays (of which, I have learned, there are both many holidays and many favorite things to do from October - December), is walking through New York looking at all the pretty things.

Pretty thing Number One, is the windows of Fifth Avenue and Herald Square! The longstanding Christmas Window Battle of Bergdorf, Saks, Lord & Taylor, Macy's and Bloomingdale's is historically funny. Each classic shoppe goes out of their way each year to make more elaborately intricate and fantastical window displays; it's a tradition and tourist attraction in New York as each retailer battles for your hard-earned buckaroos. Cartier has outdone themselves this year with a lava of lavish red boxes cascading down the front of its building, ending in a humongous Cartier box that romantically springs open every now and then, blazing synthesized Christmas musical gradeur out and about, and revealing its lush, but alas, diamond-less white satin interior. Fuckers.

Anyhoo, I don't make a habit of seeing the windows every year, but I just got a new camera (a Panasonic DMC-FX50 to replace my old Nikon 3200), and I wanted to test it out. I'm not the maestro of photography, but I do like to take a picture or two.

I got my days confused a few nights ago as I was trying to find David Blaine, who was gyroscoping somewhere in Times Square. I was two days too early. I should really pay attention to dates. Whoops.

Before heading toward my unsuccessful destination in the Square, I traveled to the Plaza Hotel, hopping off of the 6 train at 59th and Lexington first, then walking west towards Fifth Avenue. I wanted to see how the construction looked at the Plaza at night, and I like roaming around there just after dark, especially since the Apple Store opened.

(It was my first night shot, so shoot me.)

So, there's the Plaza at night! You'll notice that that pesky little Eloise will get to run around the re-hauled Plaza yet again when the residential units are opened. Damn her. Sigh.

I walked around the little plaza outside the Plaza, going slightly South toward Bergdorf-Goodman, that beautifully elegant and lush store, which I've only been in once. That one time, I saw Ivana Trump in a suit with gold-fringed epaulets. The sight unnerved the hell out of me, and I've been afraid of going back in ever since. I still shiver at the thought of it. Brrrrr.

The Bergdorf windows were amazing! The ones that faced the plaza were full of little mechanical machines mixed in with the glamourous silks and glittering fake diamonds. There were intricate metal-worked machines, wonderwheels, animals, and fantastical creatures!

I walked around to the front of Bergdorf, on the Fifth Avenue side, at the corner of 58th Street. I looked up, and before me was a lush display, full of light and play and color.

The horses were finely detailed, the lights just perfect, and the mannikin was dressed in a circuslike dressage outfit, complete with whip. I don't know anyone who would actually wear the outfit out, but I don't think that's necessarily the point. In fact, most of the garments in the Bergdorf windows on any given day aren't necessarily for everyday fashion, unless, of course, you are part of the fashionista mafia, and can afford such outrageously beautiful designs. Gold epaulets, anyone? Eek.

Anyway, the Fifth Avenue windows (as opposed to the 58th Street windows, which were amazing, as opposed to Fifth Avenue's magnificient), included two black and white windows, and one with a cascade of sweets and delicacies in every sepia tone available. Included in this display was an oversized curio cabinet inlaid with mother-of-pearl and filled with fake cakes and treats. I could eat the carefully constructed cakes and muffins, even if they were made of glue and paper.

I was completely in awe of how the displays were concieved, created, and mounted. Bravo, Bergdorf-Goodman, bravo!





The window that most caught my attention was the second black and white window that portrayed a bow-tied, humanoid polar bear, elegantly opening a glass door to a fur-clad woman seeking entrance to his abode. Looking at the window, I was immediately drawn to an allusion from an amazing series of children's book with grown-up appeal: Philip Pullman's, "His Dark Materials." The set of three books includes The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass.

I first read the Pullman books on vacation in Martha's Vineyard in 2004 (the series was first published in 1998). I decided to reread them again when I heard that Daniel Craig would be featured in the upcoming film adaptation as Lord Asriel (Craig is perfect for the part... oh hell, he's just perfect), the paternal connection to the lead character, Lyra Balacqua, a child who fights to keep the Gobblers from cutting away children's daemons. The story is a wide-sweeping tale set in an interdimensional Europe where everyone has a visible soul companion in the form of animals or daemons, and visible to others. Lyra sets off from Oxford to the North to rescue the children from the Gobblers and her Uncle from the Slavbard armoured bears. There's a lot of talk in the books about animal skins and furs as the good and bad guys head toward the cold Northern reaches. Lyra eventually confronts the evil Mrs. Coulter (played by Nicole Kidman) and meets the inestimable armoured bear, Iorek Byrnison, a noble outcast from the bear kingdom. Eventually, Mrs. Coulter meets the King of the bears, and the window clearly plays on that theme. It's a beautiful display.



Which brings us back to the protestors. As you see from the photograph, both the bear and the beauty are wearing fur. And fashion fur in New York is a hot topic. The group, Caring Activists Against Fur (CAAF), protested Bergdorf on Black Friday, and will protest at other venues now until Feburary: Steven Corn Furs, Antonovich Furs, Macy's, Lord & Taylor, and Saks. (More info here, scroll down.)

Now, I can appreciate fashion fur. Fur is beautiful, and in certain situations (those artic ones with indigenous human populations that need fur to survive the cold weather conditions), I can understand its use. I'm tentative regarding fur in high fashion, however. My mom offered me one of her mink furs when I was younger, and I turned it down. I did, however, accept a lambskin short coat with fox cuffs. I accepted it more for nostalgia, as it's my mom's coat from the 1950s and it's way pretty. However, I've never been comfortable wearing it. (I'm uncomfortable in real-life dress-up anyway. I really much prefer stage dress-up. That's me in the photo, right, at the bottom in a production of "A Man's A Man.")

I cringe a bit when I see folks in New York wearing fashion fur, even in cold weather. It's a natural reaction to feeling that the mink and the fox would much rather have preferred keeping their fur to themselves. But that's a little hypocritical of me because I do wear leather. Are the cows no less... animal?

I didn't write this post to down fur or defend Berfdorf-Goodman's use of it in its windows. I think I wrote it mostly to highlight the intersection of beauty and horror that can occupy a single space. I had been in search of a Pretty Thing in New York, and I did find it. When I saw the "Entertain" window (two nights prior to the protest, which I hadn't known about), my immediate thought was of the Pullman books and secondly, the fur. I thought to myself: somebody is going to have feelings about that fur. I had feelings about the fur; it was beautiful on the bear (not sure if it was real or not) and it was unnecessarily clad about the figure of the woman, but nonetheless, beautiful.

Animal protestors get a bum rap because they can be over the top and confrontational in their rhetoric. To them, it's a matter of life and death, as many things in this world are. Humans do kill an awful lot of animals for personal use: food, fashion, hunting. I am not of the opinion that all animal use is anathema, obviously. I can, however, understand the feelings of those completely opposed to the use of animals. I can also appreciate both sides of the argument. When you see a clothing item intricately made out of animal furs, you can't help but see the beauty in them, either. Again, though, I think the animals would much rather prefer to keep their fur. Don't you?

Black Friday is always full of interesting little things. Anyway, go and read my friend, Jennifer Michael Hecht's reverie on Black Friday in the New York Times. If, of course, you can get behind the Times Select Wall. Happy Holidays!

Friday, November 24, 2006

Friday Cat Blogging


I'm serious about the non-political postings for a bit. Sometimes you just have to take a mental vacation from the weight of the world.
So... here's Paikea! Happy Friday Cat Blogging!
(And finally, I remembered to do this on a Friday! Geesh.)

Saturday, November 18, 2006

This James Bond is So Hot...


... that I thought
I would
spontaneously explode.

I saw the new James Bond movie, "Casino Royale" earlier today. I don't care what anyone says about Daniel Craig, he's fantastic. He might walk a little chunky like with the bulked-up shoulders, but hell, that's really neither here nor there. Those shoulders are golden works of art.

This new Bond is a man's Bond: he runs, he tackles, he plays a hot hand of poker, and shows the bruises of his battles on his face. For the ladys: he loves, he's a smooth talker, and surprisingly tender. And oh my God, does he look smashing in a beautiful suit.

I breathessly await your return, Mr. Bond.

Now excuse me, I have to go take a cold shower.

Worst Places to Take a Dump in New York

I've gotten a bit political lately, and frankly, I'm tired of it. So, on to something really important!

It's rather difficult to find a public toilet in NYC. I mean, REALLY DIFFICULT. One of the golden places use to be the Plaza Hotel. You could walk into the lobby, obstentiously to look at the interior or just be a tourist, but then wander 'round to the olde toilette located on the first floor. New Yorkers used the public restrooms at the Plaza for those times when you just happened to be in the neighborhood and needed someplace to go. Oh well, those days are over at the Plaza: It was bought by a group that will turn it into condominiums and an updated hotel. So, I have the feeling that for 2.5 million dollar residencies, there'll be no more free dumps there.


Anyway, Gothamist.com (I love those guys!), posted a link to some guy who is doing an envaluable public service in letting us know where not to go if you need to go. I have the feeling the bathrooms on his site are either Unisex or Men Only (but if the men's room is bad, I can only imagine what the Woman's Room is like!) Unfortunately, when you have to go, you just have to... go. Oh well. Hold your nose, take some practical advice, and visit New York City and NY's "Wost Places to Take a Dump."

Ick!

Friday, November 10, 2006

Thumping the Democrats, with Love

My friend, Carl Skutsch, sent me the wonderfully funny, happy, and poignant photograph that he took to the left. I was so giddy when I opened my email and saw the photograph. The last six years have been utter hell (and if you count the Clinton impeachment fiasco, the last 8 years), made moreso by an obviously partisan President and hoodlum Republican Party.

It's been a nightmare from the right, but it's been a nightmare from the left sometimes as well. In fact, I was so fed up with the Democratic Party after Bill Clinton (who I love dearly, even when I want to slap him upside the head), that I ended up voting for Ralph Nader over Al Gore. I was safely enconsed in New York State, so I figured I was safe voting for a third party.

I wish Al Gore were President. My bad.

The last six years have been particularly hard, mostly because I never had trust in President Bush to rule in a way that would be wise before 9/11, and he proved me right in the horrific aftermath of 9/11. Unfortunately, I had lost faith in the Democratic Party as well, but I looked to them some how and in some way, to act as a lever against the craziness of Bush and his Republican Party.

It's not easy to be a Democrat in America sometimes. I believe in their platform of government for the people, benevolent government that helps the people without being too much involved in their personal lives. That means healthcare, jobs, a sane foreign policy. Unfortunately, there's always a pull between the left of the Party and the right of the Party, but it's a damn big Democratic tent, and the only way you move forward is to listen to both realms of the spectrum, attempt to get along and attempt to work out problems for the good of the People. Then, you go to the Republicans and ask them what they think. Unfortunately, you've got to listen to them to, even if they were really bad at that in the last few years themselves.

So, it was a shock yesterday, after receiving Carl's photograph, to have to read a story about bonehead, James Carville, making a play for the head of the Democratic National Committee, Howard Dean.

Dean, hailing from Vermont as he does, represents the more progressive side of the Democratic Party. It was Dean's idea to begin a 50-State Strategy, a brilliant plan to actually start talking with people in States that Democrats have thought were lost to their influence, the Red States of the Northwest, Southwest, and the South. The strategy, to put it in a nutshell, actually worked. Go figure!

Carville is a political shill for Hillary Clinton's presidential run and mainstream Democratism. (Clinton is my Senator, and I voted for her.) So, since Dean isn't running for President in 2008 and doesn't necessarily represent the mainstream of the Democratic Party, but rather the ENTIRE Democratic Party with a focus on the progressive side of the Party, Carville decided to fire the opening gambit in an attempt to displace Dean as the Chairman of the DNC. Carville floated the idea of running the losing candidate in the Tennessee Senatorial race of last week, Harold Ford. Why? Well, allegedly, Dean didn't bring in enough money and didn't readily genuflect to the DCCC or the DSCC. Ford is a center-right candidate that would probably sit well with that good old Mainstream of America, the MoA. It's whispered that Ford would help Hillary more in her MoA run that Dean would.

Well, la-de-da.

I don't know if Dean didn't bring in a record amount of money, or bested the Republican National Committee machine (numbers make my head swim, and there's a lot of spin in regards to this), but one thing I do know, whatever Dean did, or whatever Chuck Schumer (head of the DSCC) did or whatever Rahm Emmanuel (head of the DCCC) did, WE won. Together.

Dean rewired and reconnected the network of the Democratic Party with the actual people, while Chuck and Rahm helped bring home the bacon. Finally, the Democratic bigwigs in Washington were able to actually talk with their constituents in States that the Party left behind (because, let's face, we in the Northwest tend to make fun of everyone else), and lit a fire in their hearts. Ford may be able to that too, but frankly, he's so far to the right, you might as call him a Republican.

Carville has been getting on my nerves for a good while now. I think Jon Stewart's appearance on Crossfire kinda brought the whole thing home to me. Yea, Carville wasn't the interviewee that day (Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson were), but still, remove Begala and replace him with his co-host Carville, and my head would still explode.

It took barely 24 hours after the Democrats won the Senate for Carville to begin the power play. The glow was still glowing, the feelings of happiness were still happy, and for the first time in months, the Democratic Party felt like a Party again. And then, BAM, like some sucker punch to the head, Carville comes out and starts the "divide the party" tactics immediately. Can't we let the Republicans do that for us again? It would feel much better.

I've got a piece of advice for my Party: if they want me to still be part of the Party (which may be somewhat doubtful on both their part and mine), then they need to shut the fuck up about removing Dean as head of the DNC. Carville needs to take a step back, just like his wife, Marlene Matalin (his counterpart mouth for the Republican Party) and realize that both of them have lost their power because 1) the Democrats have found their power in the people and 2) the Republicans have lost their power to currently rule.

Chuck Schumer, on Real Time with Bill Maher last night, congratulated Dean on his work. Joe Conanson in Salon wrote, "Rebuilding the Democratic Party in every state is as much a matter of pragmatism as principle. There would have been much less for the Democrats to celebrate on Election Night if Howard Dean hadn't been so "crazy" -- and so persistent."

So, for the record, Mr. Carville, keep your opinions and your candidates for a job you can't wrestle control of to yourself, because no one really gives a crap what you think right now.

I love you, Democratic Party, now shut up and change. Consider yourself thumped.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Thank You, America

From the New York Times, which has it just about right. You've got the House now, Dems, don't fuck it up. Rule sanely, if you can, caucus when you need to, kick their asses when you have to. Don't run too far to the right or you'll be in hot water. Gain the trust of the American people by doing the right thing. No corruption, be careful of those damned dirty lobbyists, too

Good luck. You're gonna need it.

The Democratic House
Published: November 8, 2006

There was only one explanation for the crazy-quilt combination of victories around the country that gave the Democrats control of the House of Representatives last night: an angry shout of repudiation of the Bush White House and the abysmal way the Republican majority has run Congress.

It was a satisfying expression of the basic democratic principle of accountability. A government that performs badly is supposed to be punished by the electorate. And this government has performed badly on so many counts.

The Republicans created their defeat by focusing obsessively on the right-wing “base,” ostracizing not only the Democrats but their own party’s more moderate legislators. The conflict between the extremist House and the conservative Senate created a phony center, far to the right of the general public’s idea of where the middle ought to be. Yesterday, moderate Republicans in heavily Democratic states were done in by their party’s excesses. In Rhode Island, more than 60 percent of the voters told pollsters that they liked their Republican senator, Lincoln Chafee. But he was soundly defeated anyway.

The Democrats won a negative victory, riding on the wave of public anger about Republicans. The new House majority will certainly call the administration to account on any number of issues, but it will have to do far more than run investigations if it is to build on its victory.

For years now, the Democrats have been not only the minority party, but a particularly powerless minority, elbowed out of virtually any role other than that of critic. The House Democrats will have to shift from the role of tactical opposition to shadow government. They will have to pass bills — bills that might not make it into law, but that would provide a clear idea of what their party would do if it were really in control.

And while they are trying to build a new majority, the Democrats need to remember what happens when a party in power loses its way.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Vote

Today's the day. Vote. That's about all I can say. You know who I want you to vote for, so I won't even say it again. All I can say is please don't abandon yourself, America. Please. Have a great day, and I believe in you. Don't let me down.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Save the Comics, Vote Republican

Who's Exploiting the Situation?

It's 2:05 AM here in NYC, and I'm up awaiting the forgone verdict on the guilt of Saddam Hussein mid-afternoon and a billion miles away in Iraq. It's funny how this verdict has been manipulated to coincide with the U.S. election. I've heard a lot of chirping lately from Republicans about Democrats manipulating this and blurting out that in an effort to sway the election. I guess what's good for the goose isn't good for the gander. What a crock of shit.

All I know is that if or when a verdict of guilt and a sentence of death comes out, all hell will break lose in Iraq. God be with us all when it does.

If you don't think this is all an effort on the part of the Bush Administration to manipulate the current election situation here in the States, then you just haven't been paying attention to how this administration works.

UPDATE: Rare88 has brought up a good point: Hussein was convicted for atrocities committed in 1982, when he shook hands with Rummy and was a considered a friend of America's. Not many journalists are bringing this point out. Robert Fisk has:

This was a guilty verdict on America as well

Published: 06 November 2006

So America's one-time ally has been sentenced to death for war crimes he committed when he was Washington's best friend in the Arab world. America knew all about his atrocities and even supplied the gas - along with the British, of course - yet there we were yesterday declaring it to be, in the White House's words, another "great day for Iraq". That's what Tony Blair announced when Saddam Hussein al-Tikriti was pulled from his hole in the ground on 13 December 2003. And now we're going to string him up, and it's another great day.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Abandoned in Iraq

The Bush Administration has abandoned us in the States; now they have abandoned a soldier in Iraq.

While President Bush is making puns out of John Kerry's missed punch line, a kidnapped American soldier in Iraq is lost in Sadr City [Times Delete]. American soldiers closed down Sadr City, but things got hotter within that hotbed, and Iraq President Maliki demanded that American soldiers be pulled out of Sadr City. The kidnapped soldier is still missing.

In the crazy times we live in, you can't make this shit up. 103 soldiers died in the month of October. One is missing in Sadr City. And the President of Crazytown plays political word games.

Jack Cafferty spoke about the soldier tonight:

You've got a choice to make come Tuesday, November 7. This war has been run badly from day one. We were lied into this war, and every step of the way it's been mismanaged and prosecuted. Our soldiers have not been able to do their job properly as the Republican goons in Washington, D.C. decide to play at war they have never been near. There is no accountability in Washington, no oversight, no give and take, no voice, no damned sense.

Change course by changing at least the House. The Senate would be icing on the cake. Bring back some oversight or we are going to head down a road that is darker and nastier than the one we're already on.

America: don't abandon yourself. There's already enough people in Washington to do that for you.