Thursday, June 30, 2005

Signing off for now . . .

Vacation time. I've got a lot of stuff to take care of before heading Southways, so I'm leaving you with an image to meditate upon in my absence:


"I hope he can see this 'cause I'm doing it as hard as I can."

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

What do ya know . . .

This explains a lot.



From the product description:
"Words include: eagle, together, diverse, dream and America."

If the set comes with about a thousand magnets with "September 11, 2001" I think we've found ourselves the real "speechwriter."

I give 'em all three goddamns . . .



So Dex found me free comp tickets to see the Rock and Roll Soldiers at the Bluebird last night, so I took the little sis and we had a grand time.

The Bluebird is on East Colfax, a part of town that used to be a lot seedier than it is now, but still holds on to that patina of a "bad" neighborhood. I kinda dig it. But the actual block that the Bluebird sits on is pretty nice. So when we tried to get into the theatre and we were all of 10 minutes early, it wasn't so bad when they told us that we'd have to wait outside. Since there wasn't a line, we decided to do some exploring and come back when we noticed that the place across the street had a banner in the window proclaiming their victory in Westword Magazine as having the Best Margaritas in Denver.

Me: "You wanna get a margarita?"
Little Sis: "Sure."

They were pretty awesome margaritas. And the restaurant itself was pretty cool, a little texmex joint called Mescal. And they were doing free tequila tastings. What kind of place gives away tequila on a Tuesday night? Answer: my new favorite place.

The first band was pretty good- a little group of beer punks called "Self Service." The second, "Gina Go Faster" had a great name but little else to offer . . . unless you're into that kind of Ministry hard rock, neck-vein-popping-vocal style.

And then there were the Soldiers, who were, as usual, really good. Most of the people at the 'Bird were seeing the band for the first time, so that was kinda interesting. This one really drunk girl kept dancing with my sister and I and slurring comments about the lead singer's ass and giving us both big, drunk-girl bear hugs.

After the set, the lead singer, Marty, was chilling at the bar, and in my margarita-plus-two-Stella-Artois-emboldened state, I went up and tapped him on the shoulder and told him that it was a great set. In the words of little sis, "he smiled and it was pretty."

So overall, a great night for a Tuesday and one that made me about a thousand times antsier to get my ass down to the city for good.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

I don't mean to be a bitch, but . . .

How about instead of making yet another case for the war, Bush tries to make a plan for getting us the fuck out of there?

How many cases does he have to make? It doesn't matter. He lied and people are dying and now would be a good time to stop trying to come up with a new reason why we went in in the first place. We already have a lot of those. It's time to think of a course of action. Now.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Put that in your toaster, Bill Owens!

From Planned Parenthood:
Last April, Governor Owens vetoed House Bill 1042, which required all hospitals to inform rape victims about emergency contraception. As it stands now, hospitals are not required to educate rape victims about this option to prevent unintended pregnancy.

On behalf of rape victims denied access to EC, Planned Parenthood is offering women one free pack of EC-to-go to keep at home—just in case. The offer is for Friday, July 1, and is available at all of our Colorado health centers, including Longmont. Emergency contraception is the best way to prevent unintended pregnancy in cases of rape, incest or contraceptive failure. Planned Parenthood believes ALL women should have access to it.

Emergency contraception can only be effective if women are informed about and have prompt access to it. If legislators want to reduce the number of abortions, they should support access to emergency contraception. Experts estimate that wider access to EC could prevent 1.7 million unintended pregnancies and 800,000 abortions every year.

I have a feeling this is only going to get worse.

$60 bucks a barrel. I thought that since we annexed Iraq, we'd get a break on this.

The whole car thing is such a complicated issue for me. On one hand, the car culture is based on a wasteful, unsustainable, craven industry that exploits nations, falsely inflates oil prices and ships jobs overseas while placing our own country at the mercy of oil-producing countries. Not to mention the pollution and laziness that it creates. I know all of this, and yet . . .

I love cars. I can't seem to stop loving them. I can't get myself away from the intensely fond memories of being at my Grandfather's car dealership, playing around his antique car collection, hearing the well-engineered click of a Cadillac door closing and marvelling at the complete silence inside. I can't NOT feel happy when I'm driving my own car with the top down, remembering how we zipped through the Minnesota corn fields (the old farm, the one my ancestors established when they came over from Germany) in my grandfather's Lincoln Continental. White with red vinyl interior. I've been drunk, pierced and loved up . . . but the feeling of punching the accelerator on a highway and feeling the g-forces take over is still one of my favorite highs.

There is part of me that knows that Americans need to give up the car culture. Exurbs are bad for everyone, commuting is a horrible thing (although I'll be doing that in the near future every day) and the oil-based economy is going to collapse faster than a bad facelift when peak oil passes us by. But a big part of me will miss it. If we see the end of cars in my lifetime, I think I will be in mourning for at least a little while. Since their inception, cars have promised a kind of freedom. When you first get your drivers' license, there's a brilliant moment where you realize that you can go anywhere you want. You have to work within the constraints of gas money and time, but you can go anywhere from coast to coast if you want to. It's a great moment, and for some of us, that notion, the idea that at any moment, you can pick a highway and just burn rubber out of town . . . it never really goes away.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Happy early birthday to me!

After I almost bought the "Harvey Birdman" DVD for myself last night, my family announced that they had bought it for me.

Which makes VV a very happy girl.

I have heard tell that Stephen Colbert will have his own show, a spinoff of The Daily Show and based on the premise of "The O'Reilly Factor."

I just really hope they keep "This Week In God." It is one of the small joys I find in an otherwise crazy, mixed-up world.

Gotta git back to work- suddenly I'm all in-demand and stuff and have a column for the real paper, a column for a free Denver 'Zine called "Needles for Teeth" and a seamstressing job on the side, as well as moving preparations and trying to balance out time to spend with the sister before she heads out in search of the Heart of Darkness.

So blogging may be lighter than usual. I'll refer you to the triad of snark: World O'Crap, Sadly, No! and Norbizness to tide you over with biting commentary on the crazier wingnuts, a cavalcade of ugly kittens and RenewAmerica Noir and highly astute musical ponderings, respectively.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Camille Paglia, eh?

At last count, we had Ashcroft covering up Justice's boobies, Ben Shapiro arguing that his own generation is so sex-addled that we'll be meeting the fate of the Romans and its all Bill Clinton's fault, and you have Brent Bozell arguing that television is the downfall of Western civilization. It would seem that porn was fighting a losing battle against the rising power of the religious right. But I don't think that is the case.

Why the obsession? What harm does porn really do? I mean, it has been around since the beginning of art, which is close to the beginning of history as we know it. There are all of the old arguments about the denigration of women, the de-personalization of sex, blah blah. But I would argue that the entire porn industry doesn't do half the damage to feminism that is done by such lovely programs as "Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire" and "Desperate Housewives" because porn is direct. Porn is about sex and it has the singular purpose of getting people off.

The mainstream programs that are billed as entertainment are more insidious because they are more or less supposed to represent a certain reality and reinforce society's idea of gender roles. Women will marry for money. Women are spiteful, irrational golddiggers. Women are shrill nags that are only worth tolerating because they do your laundry and are available for sex. These are the ideas that are put forth by nearly every sitcom and reality show on TV. And advertisements- how many variations on the "guy pisses off woman, guy buys woman something, all is forgiven" plot can there be? Every Valentines Day, we are reminded that women are whores for diamonds. How many products are sold using this concept?

More dangerous still is the fact that while one usually has to seek out porn on the web, at the video store or through Pay Per View, stuff like "Fear Factor" is beamed into homes for free. And what kinds of ideas does "Fear Factor" promote? That people will do anything for money, and that women will do anything for money while wearing bikinis.

Porn is alive and well. It's not going away, no matter how much -ahem- research Ben Shapiro does.

I see the anti-porn crowd as yet another group being played by the so-called "Moral Values" face the current administration likes to wear. If you are on the side of censorship, you can be seen as promoting a moral culture and casting out decadent, sleazy elements from the society. If you are on the side of free speech, you can be painted as a smutmonger and a moral degenerate. It's another issue the Republicans can use to garner heartland votes and limit First Amendment Rights while having no real intention of doing anything to slow the multibillion dollar porn industry.

Need proof? Ask Mary Carey how the chicken was at the White House.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

I heart the Daily Show

This is an excellent little bit of video editing. Plus, I think that we should definitely use the name "Primesident Blush" to describe Bush and Blair on as many occasions as possible.

The thing is, Stewart doesn't even really need to do anything to most of the Bush clips. The jokes write themselves- or would, if Bush wasn't such a joke to begin with.

What did he think about meeting the president of the EU?

In terms of your Prime Minister, he's an interesting guy. He's a lot of fun to be around. He promotes serious business in a way that endears himself to people. And so I think his presidency has been an important presidency for the EU during difficult times, and he's handled it well. And I was going to say he's a piece of work, but that might not translate too well. Is that all right, if I call you a piece of work?


And of course, while Bush was uttering this perfectly assinine little nugget of backhanded, faux-hayseed cultural ignorance, the EU president did that classic face that all foreign politicians get around Bush. That face that says: "I am completely disgusted and terrified at the same time. This idiot man-child has the last say in the most heavily armed and wealthiest nation on the planet. How did this guy make it through the airport, much less four and a half years of a presidency?"

Like this:

and this:

and this:

Well that narrows it down

So the CIA knows where Bin Laden is.

(here's a hint- NOT Iraq)

Fantastic. So . . . when are we, ya know . . . gonna get him?

I'm guessing uh, never.

Every Big Brother needs a Goldstein. The football-fan public needs that dichotomy. So we'll keep catching those "Number 3 in Al Qaeda!" guys, so the headlines will continue to look good.

But as for the big guy himself, he's as necessary to maintain the Republican voter base as abortion and gay marriage. As long as those three things are around- the big, scary brown man, the suffering fetuses and the threat to traditional marriage, there will people who will fall for the idea that Republicans are the only ones fit to do battle for them against the looming threat of terror, abortion and teh g4ys.

(and if we really knew where he was, do ya really think that Porter Goss would go on national and international teevee and say that we did?)

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

science fiction, double feature

Oh how I wish I had Starz Encore. Because of this:

Starz Encore has commissioned the production of an original documentary "Midnight Movies: From the Margin to the Mainstream" focusing on the phenomenon of 1970's cult films, and the major continuing influence they have had on pop culture and modern society. The special, based on the book of the same name by noted film scholar and documentary filmmaker Stuart Samuels (who produces and directs), is set to air on Encore in Summer 2005. Appearing in the documentary are directors John Waters ("Pink Flamingos"), David Lynch ("Eraserhead"), George Romero ("Night of the Living Dead"), A. Jodorowsky ("El Topo"), Perry Henzell ("The Harder
They Come") and Richard O'Brien (creator and star of "Rocky Horror Picture Show"). Encore will present a host of "midnight movies" to accompany the special, including "Rocky Horror Picture Show," "Pink Flamingos," and "Night of the Living Dead" during the month.


Oh, someone in the greater Denver Metro area PLEASE tell me they have premium cable!

I'll bring popcorn and soda!

Get your shots

Good piece in the NYT magazine this past week about the opposition to gay marriage. Good in that it exposes the outwardly normal looking people who so vehemently protest gay marriage as the ignorant, paranoid, dogmatic people that they are.

Here's what is interesting to me. You have a whole group of hardcore Christians (Not people who actually believe in the whole love and peace Christ, instead believing that everything Jesus said can be more or less ignored but that three or four lines in Leviticus justifies their fear and loathing of all things gay) who essentially equate homosexuality to a disease. A disease that seeks to perpetuate itself through the notion that being gay is an OK way to be. OK, so if gayness is a destructive disease that cuts down youth in their prime, destroys families and civilizations and erodes at the basic moral fiber of society, than what is fundamentalism?

It is transferred from parent to child in a familial structure that emphasizes obedience and conformity, and encourages the birth of as many offspring as possible to spread the word.

Fundamentalism has destroyed governments and encourages the rise of theocratic dictatorships.

Fundamentalism discourages critical thought and the academic pursuit, causing societies that embrace fundamentalism to be generally less innovative and less able to compete globally in a free market (unless, of course, said theocratic dictatorship happens to sit on the world's largest oil reserves).

Fundamentalism is a known killer, causing suicidal and homicidal behavior.

I had a Marxist friend who used to say that religion was a poison (he grew up in Utah, so I can't imagine the kind of baggage he had. Ex-Mormons are like Ex-Smokers, nobody hates the old habit as much as they do) and I don't know that I'd go that far. But I would say that fundamentalism is a disease. And if you compared the numbers of people killed by fundamentalists in all of human history's various Crusades, Inquisitions, Jihads and witch hunts, I am sure that it is among one of the most deadly and most contagious diseases. And among the most adaptive.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Hagel breaks ranks, Condi says "Oh, no you din't!"

Here is what Hagel had to say. A choice bit:

Hagel, a top Senate Republican said to have presidential aspirations, said in an interview in US News and World Report, set to hit newsstands Monday, that US troops are "losing" the Iraq war, and that "things aren't getting better, they're getting worse."

"The White House is completely disconnected from reality," said Hagel. "It's like they're just making it up as they go along. The reality is that we're losing in Iraq," said Hagel, who added that increasingly, fellow Republicans are coming to share his view.


Here's what Condi had to say:
"If you're looking at what is happening politically in Iraq, these people are moving toward a different kind of future than Saddam Hussein could ever have given them," she told CNN.


I'll give her that yes, it is a different kind of future than Saddam could have given them. The question remains to be answered whether it is a good future or a bad future. In the Midwest, people always use the phrase "that's different" to describe something they dislike, because it is a passive aggressive but polite way to criticise something and leave no room for rebuttal. Like say your Aunt Lois just redid her living room with spiderweb wallpaper and those awful 70s Scandinavian chairs that you have to kneel on. Your Aunt Violet might come in and say, "well, that's . . . different."

I mean, if we had nuked Iraq twelve times to next Tuesday you could say that was a "different kind of future than Saddam Hussein could ever have given them." If we'd paved it and created a nation-sized WalMart SuperCenter, that would have been "different." That doesn't mean it's any better.

At any rate, good for Chuck. We'll see how far he get before he's given the same brain chip they gave to Laura.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Glamourpuss

Oh, Bill.

From the "we can dish it out but we can't take it" department:

Bill O'Reilly sez:
"Only I get to be angry and shrill!!"

EXTREME DEAN

You heard the man! Extreeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeme!

This week, a bunch of newspapers in places like Cincinnati and Pittsburgh tried to rally support for the beleaguered Howard Dean, and I am with them -- well, somewhat.

"A bunch of newspapers in Cincinnati and Pittsburg," wow, way to nail down your sources, Billy. Could you put a few more qualifiers in that paragraph? In fact, I think the above statement is about as ambivalent as it gets.

The thing you've got to love about Howard Dean is that he is sincere in his hate. No phony he, Dean despises Republicans, and everything for which they stand. If it were up to Dean, those white, Christian layabouts would be shunned, scorned and mocked. Come to think of it, it is up to Dean. As the DNC chief, he is launching personal attacks against Republicans all over the place.

Yeah, we have the House, the Senate, the White House and soon the judiciary, but Dean keep launching those mean old personal attacks! All over the place! Wah!

Honestly, where would Howard Dean be without hate? Last year, it made him the darling of the far-left Internet crowd, who poured millions into his presidential campaign. Dean's loathing of the GOP sent the self-described "Deaniacs" into ecstasy. The more Dean poured on the vitriol, the more money came rolling in. Dean embraced abhorrence with a vengeance Joseph McCarthy would have admired.

Yeah, and we all know how little the Right likes to use hate in their campaigns. Like when *someone* accidentally left all those fliers around that church saying that McCain had an illegitimate black child and was a little crazy. And like when all those T-shirts came out in '04 linking Kerry supporters to terrorists.

Oh, that's not hate, that's just good-natured ribbin'!

But that was then, and this is now. Some Democrats like John Edwards and Sen. Joseph Biden have recently criticized Dean's personal attacks, but that's akin to ordering salmon for dinner and then, when it arrives, complaining that you don't like fish. Democrats knew Dean was a character assassin when they elected him chairman of the Democratic National Committee. This is like the scene in "Casablanca" when Claude Rains announces he's "shocked" there is gambling going on in Rick's Place.

Yeah, if you aren't a Republicrat wussy, then you're just a hatemonger.

The truth is that hate has been very good to Howard Dean. Without his animus, he'd probably be running a bed and breakfast in Bennington, Vt. Dean broke away from the bland political crowd by being a mean guy. He relished calling people names and surrounded himself with media smear merchants. Can you imagine a responsible politician saying publicly that he "hates" Republicans? That's alienating about half the country with one sentence. So much for Dean's insistence that the Democrats are the party of "inclusion."

Uh, first of all . . . is Bill O'Reilly really admonishing Howard Dean for namecalling and surrounding himself with media smear merchants? Wouldn't that kinda be like Cher calling out Wayne Newton for getting too much plastic surgery?

Second of all, can you imagine a responsible politician telling someone to fuck off?

I can't.

To be fair, at the height of the Clinton bashing hysteria there were Republican politicians throwing defamation bombs all over the place. But they were very specific. Clinton was the devil. The GOP did not expand its hatred to include Sally and Joe, who voted for the man. They kept their fire concentrated on Bill Clinton and pretty much left the civilians alone.

Yep, comparing Clinton to the Devil, a mythical embodiment of all evil, is better than calling out Republicans as a predominatley white, Christian, wealthy party because it is more "specific." Uh huh.

Fair-minded Americans know trafficking in hate is foolish and destructive. Howard Dean's anger may be amusing, but the unintended consequence is it has made him a joke. Dean can command a forum of true believers now, but America has always fismissed haters over time. And that's what will happen with Dean and anyone else who deals in character assassination.

Uh . . . Bill? YOU deal in character assassination.

I know some readers will disagree with that assessment because the hate industry can be very profitable. But there's a price to pay for blood money. Let's look at two examples -- one from each side. Ultra-right-wing radio talk show host Michael Savage was recently ignored by most media when he attempted to hawk his new book, a kindly tome in which he says liberalism is a "mental disorder." Savage couldn't get booked anywhere in the national media. His use of personal attacks has made him radioactive.

Uh, actually, the fact that Michael Savage is a bile-spewing assclown with all the writing ability of a ritalin-addled third-grader with a chip on his shoulder has made him radioactive. But if you want to boil it down to hate, I guess that's OK, too.

Far-left guttersnipe Al Franken, whose defamation skills dwarf those of Savage, still has access to some media (which says something about industry bias), but in the last presidential campaign, John Kerry's handlers kept their candidate far away from Franken. Jimmy Carter took major heat for sitting close to Michael Moore at the Democratic Convention, and Kerry's advisors took note. Extremist associations are not good for any candidate.

O'Reilly goes all Yosemite Sam upon the mention of Franken's name. Oooooh! I hates that varmint!

But really,I don't think that extremist associations have been bad for Bush. I mean, he keeps Savage and Coulter and Limbaugh at arm's length, but he doesn't go out of his way to actively dissassociate himself from what they stand for- or the audiences they get. He barely did so with the actual character assassination that went on during the swift boat ads. He's done nothing to denounce the foaming accusations from people like this who believe that anyone with a natural tan darker than Jenna's are a threat to life, liberty and the Christo-American way. Bush may not actively engage in hate- at least not in public, in front of the cameras- but be sure that he profits from it and he stands with those who do, time and time again.

Which is why Howard Dean's conduct is so strange. Do you think Hillary Clinton or any other Democratic candidate for president in 2008 will want Howard campaigning for them? I can just hear it now: "I hate Republicans, and so does Hillary! Hooorah!"

OK, so Howard said "I hate Republicans and all they stand for," (but if you read this, it will show that it is a bit more nuanced than that). Whatever. But let's have a looky at what little buddy Tom Delay said:

Howard Dean is a cruel and extremist demagogue. And Howard Dean is as ignorant on John Ashcroft as he is on national security. If this cruel, loudmouth extremist is the cream of the Democrat crop, next November's going to make the 1984 election look like a squeaker.

-Tom DeLay


Huh. Sounds like a duel at 20 paces is in order, no? Nah, we'll leave that kind of talk to Old Man Zell.

Despite the absurdity of Dean's demeanor and the chorus of fellow Democrats who want him to button it, the governor remains unrepentant and seemingly untroubled with his tactics. Many in the left-wing press are solidly behind him, and the guy continues to talk the trash talk.

I just love it when people talk about the "left wing press." Do you need some help down from that cross, Bill? Oh, poor Bill, the only scion of balance in the vast, leftist dogma-machine that is the American Media. Please.

And do two democrats really a "chorus" make? It seems that Deano still has plenty of support from the party.

He does this because ol' Howard Dean knows something that many of us do not know: Hate means never having to say you're sorry.

Way to turn a phrase, Bill.

I just don't even know what else to say. Here we have a man who has made a career on inflammatory, slanderous and idiotic remarks that pander to the lowest common denominator of TV audiences (and that's pretty low) and he's calling someone else out on their supposed "hate."

He's compared the ACLU to a terrorist organization, he's told gays that the best way to live- for society as well as themselves- is in the closet, he's said that black people need to "avoid the pack mentality" of drugs and booze.

I realize that Bill is not a politician, but he uses hate to promote an agenda and that's what he's accusing Howard Dean of doing. It'd be funny to watch him do this if I didn't know that he is 100 percent serious when he does.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Your scheduled reminder:

Bob Beauprez is an ass.

Exhibit A, regarding the extradtition of a Mexican man accused of shooting and killing a police officer:

At a meeting Monday with Sen. Wayne Allard, R-Colo., Mexico's ambassador to the U.S., Carlos de Icaza, reportedly pledged to expedite a decision on extradition. Allard said that process would take one to three years, and there was no guarantee on which country would host a trial. The ambassador reportedly told Allard: "We are very serious about our international agreements, and we are very serious about applying justice." That does not satisfy Beauprez, who scoffed at the one- to three-year time frame.

"I've vacationed in Mexico before. I know exactly what 'Mexican time' is," Beauprez said. "If I was Mrs. Young or if I was Mitch Morrissey, I would think that was painfully slow. If we are good neighbors, and I think we are, this should be a relatively straightforward, easy process."



Well done, Bob. You spend a few summers in Cabo and you feel justified in stereotyping a whole nation. As Ralph says, don't think that little gem won't come up later when you begin your gubernatorial campaign.

Another reason I'm gonna have to get cable

Morgan Spurlock has a new show called 30 days, in which he or another regular person changes places and enters someone else's reality for 30 days. Kinda like he did with "Supersize Me."

Last night, he and his girlfriend Alex worked minimum wage jobs in Columbus, Ohio, for a month. And they had a really, really hard time.

One thing that struck me was a laborer who had once had a GM job (hey, notice that GM is doing that whole "employee discount" promotion right as they are laying off 25,000 workers? Classy.) back in the 70s. He was doing a landscape job for less in 2004 than he was making at GM in 1979.

What blew me away, as someone who has been raised in a primarily small town and suburban environment, was this one man Morgan met at a homeless shelter. Here was a guy with kids, who was working 40 hours per week, and he was homeless. In Columbus, Ohio. In America.

It shouldn't be possible in America to work and still be homeless. I know I'm sounding a little Pollyanna-ish here- but honestly, the whole notion of employed people who have no means of housing escaped me somehow.

I did some research (uh, yeah, I googled the term "working homeless") and found that 44 percent (a tricky figure to get, I'm sure, but an estimated 44 percent) of homeless people actually ARE employed.

Here's the thing- I'm sure plenty of people already knew about just how many people find themselves employed but underemployed to the point where they can't afford a place to live. This blog, for me, is kind of an outlet for the revelations I make as I learn more about the world. But the more I learn, the more angry I tend to become. Especially when I learn that the minimum wage has been the same since 1997 and that every measure to raise it has been shot down in Congress but that congressmen themselves have accepted cost-of-living raises for three of the four years between 1998 and 2001.

It's particularly angering when you know who is working keeping the minimum wage at the level it currently sits. The big voice on the Right concerning minimum wage law is Rick "Man on Dog" Santorum, whose oh-so-Christian attitude toward poverty led him to endorsethis bill back in March, which technically raised the wage, but was basically a Trojan horse for workers:
The Republicans’ minimum wage proposal was offered by Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), who Kennedy noted has voted against raising the minimum wage 17 times in the past decade. The amendment coupled the small wage increase with a provision to end the 40-hour workweek and replace it with an 80-hour, two-week work period. That would weaken overtime protection for workers who remain eligible for overtime pay after the Bush administration gutted the Fair Labor Standards Act’s (FLSA’s) overtime protections in 2004.

Santorum’s proposal also would have denied minimum wage, overtime and equal pay protections to as many as 10 million workers by doubling from $500,000 to $1 million the annual revenue level at which businesses are required to abide by the wage provisions of the FLSA. The Republican proposal also would have nullified state protections for workers who receive tips, allowing their employers to pay them as little as $2.13 per hour. Further, Santorum’s proposal also would have weakened safety and health protections by excusing reporting violations under certain circumstances, according to the EPI.


Anyone could find themselves having to eke out a living on minimum wage. Anyone. Something drastic needs to happen here . . .

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Das Neocon

I'm often guilty of being a bit nation-centric in my imaginings of the power of the Neocon movement. I tend to think that this is an American phenomenon, borne of phenomena more or less unique to the U.S., like the KKK, Focus on the Family, the homesteader mindset and the kind of blind, sportsfan, flagwaving patriotism that shows much but means little. But the key difference here between old-school conservativism and the new brand is that the Neocons have designs on the world. They are not the isolationists that their fathers and grandfathers were. As Recidivist, a UK-based blogger shows, the Neocons are trying to imply that Europe's problems in hammering out the EU constitution is a show of support for the Right and a sign of agreement with the Bush administration. But as Recidivist points out, nothing could be further from the truth.

First, here's part of the quote from William Kristol:
In Europe today, there are signs of Giuliani-Gingrich-ism in the rise of Nicolas Sarkozy in France, and of some fresh-thinking young (dare I call them) neoconservatives throughout Europe

But so far the fresh thinkers haven't been able to break through. It is as if it were in 1996, and there had been no Clintonian redefinition of the Democrats, and Bob Michel were still leading the House Republicans, and there had been no Giuliani mayoralty in New York, and no welfare reform from Congress, and no American intervention in Bosnia--and the alternative news media were still in their infancy, and no academic counterculture had emerged. That's Europe today.

This is a moment of hope for the prospects for a strong, pro-American, pro-liberty, more or less free-market and free-trade, socially and morally reinvigorated Europe.
(emphasis mine)

Uh huh. And here's what Recidivist has to say about that:

There is no sudden lurch to the right for the general population. In fact the general trend is still towards the left. What has happened – and what delights the neocons so much - is that yet another section of the selfish right has tipped in to neofascism.

He also ommits [sic] to tell you that by far the largest section of the 'NO' vote in both France and the Netherlands was a Socialist vote, because the constitution didn't go far enough for them .. and that if Poland rejects it, it will be because the majority of the population are harking back to the days of socialism, a stronger economy and near full employment.


What is troubling is that these guys have shown that if they keep saying something, it will become truth for large segments of the population. These are the salesmen who convinced 70 percent of Americans that Saddam was behind 9/11. While they probably will not convince Europe that they are, in fact, becoming the "strong, pro-American, pro-liberty, more or less free-market and free-trade, socially and morally reinvigorated Europe" that Kristol imagines, there will probably be at least a modest success rate for peddling that idea within the US. The entire Neocon agenda is predicated on perceived power and the awesome strength of groupthink. If you keep saying it, people will start to believe it.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

vacation, all I ever wanted . . .

I think you're all fucked in the head. We're ten hours from the fucking fun park and you want to bail out. Well I'll tell you something. This is no longer a vacation. It's a quest. It's a quest for fun. I'm gonna have fun and you're gonna have fun. We're all gonna have so much fucking fun we'll need plastic surgeory to remove our godamn smiles. You'll be whistling 'Zip-A-Dee Doo-Dah' out of you're assholes! I gotta be crazy! I'm on a pilgrimage to see a moose. Praise Marty Moose! Holy Shit!


Yep, another big Family Road Trip is rolling around over the weekend of the Fourth. Possible destinations so far might include Austin, Glacier NP or horrible fates as yet unimagined. Should be fun!

Nah, I kid, but it always is fun. Sister Vespa is back in town, rested and ready to party before the Peace Corps sends us her marching orders. Maybe we'll take her up to a lodge in the Catskills where she'll find true love with a bad boy dance instructor and he will tell us gruffly not to put her in a corner. And I'll sing a horrible rendition of Ado Annie in the resort show.

Or not.

Sorry, feeling a little loopy today, mostly just kind of pleased that my nuclear family is back in the same time zone.

In other news, the apartment search continues to go well and so I was running through the numbers involved with my commute. Funny story.

Tom Servo the Wundersaab gets around 30-32 mpg, highway.
It is around 75 miles round trip per day for the commute.
Ergo, we're talking about 2.41 gallons of gasoline per day (choke!). At around $2 per gallon, that gets you to about five dollars a day for a commute.
I work approximately 22 days per month. So, the monthly gas costs I'm looking at will be about $100-$110 per month.

Ouch, I think. But then, I go to the RTD web site to look at monthly passes. Get this. A monthly regional pass, which I'd need to get on the "L" bus to Longmont:

$135.

Or, if I were to just go ahead and pay the $3.75 each way to ride the bus and not get the pass, it would be $165.

I'll actually save $20 and an hour of my time daily by just driving my poor ass up and down I-25 myself. I honestly had faith in public transportation. Used it all the time in college and in NYC. But the system here actually makes it more economical to take your own car. I mean, I was thinking it would be great to sit around, read my books and magazines on the way, and be pleased with myself for not polluting with my own vehicle. But I'm not about to shell out $20 for that privilege.

Pretty sad, really.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Oh no, no no NO NO!!!

No.

Not that it will happen. It would almost be comical to see Tancredo try and court the Hispanic vote.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Now THAT's a mandate

Salt Lake Tribune - Nation and World

Can we start calling it a disapproval rating yet?

As in, George W. Bush has a 57 percent disapproval rating. As in, there is an overlap of 6% of people who voted for Fredo and still think he's failing.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Friday random ten: unexpected covers edition

New column is here.


Random covers:

1. Johnny Cash, "We'll Meet Again"
2. The Donnas, "I'm Gonna Keep On Loving You"
3. The Gourds, "Gin and Juice"
4. The Cardigans, "Iron Man"
5. The Scissor Sisters, "Comfortably Numb"
6. The White Stripes, "Jolene"
7. Tom Waits "Hokey Pokey"
8. Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, "Science Fiction, Double Feature"
9. Travis, "Be My Baby"
10. Janis Joplin "Summer Time (And the Livin' is Easy)"

*Updated to fix link*

Top of [insert town name here]

I'm not a subscriber to 5280 but I do like the occasional copy. They're big on lists, and so am I. The latest list is a their annual "top of the town" roundup of the best of what Denver has to offer. And while it's been going on for a while, the 2005 edition shows what I see as the culmination of a disturbing trend- the editors always pick the local hotspots, one-of-a-kind, unique places like nowhere else in America. And then there is the readers' choice, which is nearly always for some huge, multinational chain that you can find anywhere from Riverside, Calif., to Buffalo, N.Y.

Case in point: coffee.

Even in areas most infiltrated by corporate chains, there is usually at least ONE independent coffeehouse. Even Highlands Ranch has Peaberry's, a Colorado chain. And yet, the readers choice for best coffee in Denver:

Starbucks. (It won best espresso from the readers, too).

Best Italian? Denver is a mining town, and so are many of its surrounding communities. Mining towns brought in huge numbers of Italian immigrants, who besides getting black lung in the coal mines of Erie and Summit County, opened fabulous Italian restaurants, places like The Blue Parrot in Louisville. And yet, the readers' choice for best spaghetti?

Maggiano's. Another chain.

There are some good choices, like Pete's Kitchen for top hash browns, Spicy Pickle for top sandwich. But Christ, Village Inn for top french toast in a town that has The Denver Diner AND a breakfast place staffed by drag queens(every weekend, it's called "petticoat bruncheon" )? Mrs. Fields for top cookie? And the kickers- Gap for best place to buy jeans and McDonalds for top French fries.

I guess I can get why people like consistency, but at the same time, why bother even filling out the form for a survey about the best your town has to offer if you are just gonna vote for stuff you can find anywhere else? Criminy- if you think the best french fries in Denver are at Mickey Ds, you really need to get out more.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Dr. Dean, by Rude Pundit.

I direct you away from here again, sadly, as I have neither the time nor the inclination to post something insightful today. But everyone who even pretends to care what I have to say should go here to read. Rude Pundit sums up how I've been feeling about Howard Dean lately . . . and of course, in that subtle, dry, Oscar-Wildean manner in which he operates.

Of course.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Blog props

I've been poking around a few of my favorite sites lately and while every blog sees sort of an ebb and flow of good and bad, I have to say that lately, Sadly, No! has been on fire. Here are a couple of examples:

From Gavin M.:

It makes you feel kind of like how Ann Coulter must feel. Imagine being the famous and high-powered Coulter, launching full firepower at academic prion Ward Churchill. That's the crux of why Ann is such a wrong thing: It's not her politics or her gigantic mouth (or the fact that she looks like a Christian Dior stick insect). All of those things are tolerable, if unwholesome. It's her heat-seeking talent for being on the side with the most power at the moment, and lashing out at those weaker than herself. She doesn't choose fair fights, but piles on an adversary, Richard III-style, after it's already clear how the battle is likely to end -- and fucks up largely by going too rabid in the attack (not by choosing it rashly or failing to consider qui bono). I'm not aware of a single courageous, if wrong-headed, stand that she's taken to advance the GOP cause. If the wind shifted tomorrow away from the evangelicals, the wowsers, the William Jennings Bryan conservatives, and toward the Christine Whitman patrician set, Coulter's kite-like frame would turn with it.


From Brad R.:
It seems strange that G-rated movies are part of God's divine plan. I mean, if you made a movie of the Old Testament, it'd warrant a sextuple-X rating. Leviticus alone features animal sacrifices, people being stoned to death for blasphemy, and instructions for cleaning jizz off your clothes.


There are more, but the "Christian Dior stick insect" and MPAA rating for the Bible are my favorites. As they used to say in the early days, Go Read.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

The answer, my friend, is B'l Owens in the wind . . .

I don't mean to harp on the veto thing here, but Ralph makes a good point- you can't read this and NOT think that Owens is at least the worst *Colorado* governor ever.

But doing some poking around on Bill Owens site (I know, it took a couple of hits of a Grey Goose martini before I could stomach it) I found a rather interesting tidbit- his letter on the much-touted "Ownership Society":

Government is notorious as the last institution to recognize changing times. Though this will probably always be true, it is becoming increasingly evident these days that even government is waking up to a new reality: 21st century Americans are savvy, discerning folks who are demanding greater flexibility in making the most important decisions that affect their lives.

Uh huh. Demanding flexibility in decisionmaking is definitely a "new reality." Remember the old days when you had to call ol' Bill up just to see what pants you should wear?

We are beginning to see a shift in public policy from top-down, bureaucratic solutions to self- directed approaches tailored to the individual. This shift will transform American culture and government: We are moving from an entitlement society to an ownership society.

Yes, away from a society where all you have to do to get decent housing and healthcare is to ask for it, and wallow in your complacent glory as the government hands it over. The free ride is over, friends!

This transformation is the result of changing economic conditions and a more sophisticated workforce. It is also the result of innovative thinking by policy experts and forward-looking leadership. Most notably, President George W. Bush has devoted a good deal of time to promoting new ideas.

Oh no you didn't just put "ideas" and "George W. Bush" in the same sentence.

Economic times are indeed changing. Americans are much more mobile: They change jobs, switch careers, and move across the country. The average American changes careers three to five times during his or her lifetime, and switches jobs 19 times. This remarkable transformation has contributed to the dynamism and vitality of the American economy.

So, if you can't find a job here, move to Kansas!

Unfortunately, due to our antiquated and bureaucratic social security, health care and pension systems, this greater mobility sometimes brings greater insecurity for individuals. (A good example of this is the worker who is between jobs and has no health care because health care follows the job rather than the individual.) Americans are becoming increasingly aware of the deficiencies of a bureaucracy established for 1950s America – when the job market was much less fluid.

Um. I don't mean to be picky, but didn't Social Security come around in the 30s?

In Colorado, we have taken several important steps toward an ownership society. Changing economic times have prompted us to elevate how government can give citizens the freedom to make decisions concerning health care, retirement, pension and a college education.

Uh huh. Just how do you "elevate how government can give citizens" freedom to do anything? It sounds like break-up talk to me.

"No, no it's not like that at all! I'm uh, elevating, uh, how I can give you freedom. To make decisions."

"You're breaking up with me?"

"No, I . . . uh, I'm giving you the decisionmaking freedom you demand as a mobile, dynamic American."

This year, we established health-savings accounts (HSAs). HSAs offer both employees and employers flexibility and freedom. Under an HSA, a high-deductible health plan is coupled with a savings account to pay for qualified medical expenses that are not covered by the insurance policy. Employees invest funds in the tax-free account for medical treatment and in CDs, money-market funds, mutual funds and other investment vehicles.

Unlike similar tax-saving vehicles of the past, outstanding balances at the end of the year roll over to the next year. And, HSAs are highly portable: they follow the individual who changes jobs or even moves to another state. Private health accounts will help control soaring health- insurance costs for employers while simultaneously empowering workers to make their own decisions.


*Bill Owens voice*: Uh, are you buying this? Because really it's just a way to make my friends in the pharmaceutical sector rich . . .

In order to improve health care, Colorado has also developed the Consumer Directed Attendant Support Program. This empowers Medicaid recipients with disabilities to direct their own home- care services. They hire and supervise their own attendants. They set their own attendant schedules and determine what services the attendants provide. And at the end of the year, individuals keep half of any unused funds. They can put these funds toward future medical expenses that improve their quality of life (and they return the other half to the state).

They get monkey butlers and lots of frosty beverages with bendy straws!

Consumers thus become more self-sufficient, gain a greater sense of personal responsibility, and lead healthier lives. We are hoping in the coming year to extend this policy to the developmentally disabled.

All through the *magic* of ownership. Riiiight.

Colorado has also applied the ownership philosophy to pension plans. For decades, Colorado state employees were locked into a defined benefit retirement plan designed in 1931. The plan offered little flexibility and penalized short-term workers. In the present economic climate, the "one size fits all" approach is no longer the appropriate retirement formula. This year, I signed legislation expanding defined contribution plan options to all new employees hired on or after Jan. 1, 2006. Employees will have a choice of mutual funds in which to invest their money. They will also be fully vested from Day One. The plan is portable and transferable; it follows employees as they change jobs and careers.

Of course, none of this really matters because it is the end times.

Last, but certainly not least, in May, Colorado became the first state in the country to send students to college with vouchers. Previously, state funds for tuition came in the form of block subsidies to our public institutions of higher education. We changed the funding equation, splitting those grants into thousands of individual vouchers that follow students to the institutions of their choice (including three private colleges). As a result, schools will now compete for student funds. The College Opportunity Fund is an important step toward making public institutions more accountable to students and taxpayers.

Way to end on a high note, Bill. Especially seeing as how our own state school is so successfully competing for student funds that tuition is going up by 28%.

I am proud of our efforts in Colorado to give our citizens greater freedom and the ability to plan for their future. These reforms have been long in coming, but they are absolutely essential in our ever-changing economy. Fortunately, the tide is turning from an administrative state that dispenses entitlements to a streamlined, competitive system that emphasizes choice, free markets, and the active, educated participation of individual citizens.

And by "ever changing" economy, I mean nosediving economy. Boy, that whole free markets, active participation schpiel sounds pretty great, doesn't it. It's like Bill is trying to sell us 76 trombones or something.

And dang, where was I when they were dispensing entitlements?

Americans no longer look to government for economic security; rather, they look to their portfolios. The American people are well aware that they can do a far better job than government at protecting their families' interests.

Yeah, so next on the ownership society table is national security. You'll need a rifle and $300,000 worth of surveillance equipment, but if you manage your portfolio right, you should have more than enough. Remember what the motto of any ownership society is: "You're own your own, Sucka!"

List, part Deux

OK, so after bouncing about the news websites for a while, I realized that an even better list was out there, just waiting to be organized:

BETTER HEADLINES REGARDING THE RECENT MEDICINAL MARIJUANA RULING:

1. No Chronic As a Tonic
2. The Court On High (and it's on the National Review, no less! And it's WF Buckley!!)
3. Court sends legal pot up in smoke
4. Court's ruling on marijuana reeks of 'reefer madness'
5. Court snuffs medicinal pot
6. Court’s medical marijuana ruling may do little to clear the air
7. What Were Those Justices Smoking?
8. Reefer madness: Is sanity breaking out?
9. Judges weed out medical cannabis
10. Justices uproot medical pot

Tuesday Lists- "Pigeons or Catholics" Edition

"I think people should mate for life, like pigeons, or Catholics."

So, I just got Woody Allen's "Manhattan" from the local library (God bless them and their DVD section) and I think so far it is my favorite Woody Allen film. This is for a number of reasons, chief among them being that Allen's character is actually loveable in "Manhattan" and not as contemptible as he can be in his other films. I like the whole setup- the characters coming to terms with the fact that they can't be as perfect as they want to be.

And I like that moment, the whole NYC, 1979 moment before New York became a theme park, before they shot John Lennon. It's a time defined by the fact that it was the end of something. Like the year before the stock market crashed. I like the ways the different characters deal with the whole notion of the absurd, of understanding at once the insignificance of their own lives while aspiring to something bigger.

But my favorite part is where Isaac is dictating his reasons to go on living:

Why is life worth living? It's a very good question. Um...Well, There are certain things I guess that make it worthwhile. uh...Like what... okay...um...For me, uh... ooh... I would say ... what, Groucho Marx, to name one thing... uh...um... and Wilie Mays... and um ... the 2nd movement of the Jupiter Symphony ... and um... Louis Armstrong, recording of Potato Head Blues ... um ... Swedish movies, naturally ... Sentimental Education by Flaubert ... uh... Marlon Brando, Frank Sinatra ... um ... those incredible Apples and Pears by Cezanne... uh...the crabs at Sam Wo's... uh... Tracy's face ...


So here, for the Tuesday list, are my reasons to go on living.

- Swedish movies, naturally
- Tabbouli
- Etta James
- Summer evenings in Colorado
- David Sedaris books
- Venture Brothers cartoons
- Grand Prix racing
- Cats (the animal, not the musical)
- Rock shows in shady bars
- New Mexico green chile
- Midwestern boys
- Vintage clothes
- Proto's pizza
- My sister
- Terrible sci-fi movies
- DeBussy
- Night swimming
- Driving nowhere in the foothills with the top down
- Surprises

Monday, June 06, 2005

mystery link

I keep getting hits from tidd.att.com/~smb/yowza.html.

Who is this? Every time I click that link, I get a "cannot find server" error.

Leaving no stone unturned . . .

You know, it is just comical to me (or rather, it would be comical to me if it weren't so angering and depressing) how the gubernatorial race continues to be contested in Washington State. Hey, does any of this sound familiar?

Republicans say Democrat Christine Gregoire only beat Dino Rossi through a series of election errors, illegal votes and fraud. They want the election to be held again.


"This is the biggest mess I've ever seen," GOP attorney Dale Foreman said in his opening statement as the trial began last month. "The system is broken and it must be fixed."


"This is a historic moment," Republican attorney Dale Foreman said in his opening statement. He said the judge has "a historic opportunity to do justice and to restore the people's faith in our election system."


Why is it that Republicans can get away with contesting a statewide election, claiming fraud and gross incompetence, and yet whenever the same concerns are raised by Democrats, we're labeled conspiracy theorists and whackjobs?

Mr. Foreman, when we can get an injunction to thoroughly examine the Diebold machines in Ohio, when we can get the nationwide press to run stories about the tactics used in Ohio and Florida to deter minority voters at the polls, then we can talk about restoring faith in the election system. Right now, Washington is just another GOP power grab.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Friday vacation pic blogging- "B and T" Edition



Liz at 826NYC's "Superhero Supply Store" in Brooklyn

I had a dream that I lived in New York. Even in my dream I couldn't afford my rent.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Just Say No

Bill Owens is veto-happy. He seems to really enjoy the status quo, which means he has voted down bills that:

Would prevent private road-builders from condemning property (thereby protecting low-income renters).

Make attacks on gays and lesbians a hate crime.

Limit the power of homeowner associations.

Increase funding to libraries.

Protect gays and lesbians from employment discrimination.

Cap gifts that legislators can receive.

Encourage the production and purchase of energy-efficient appliances.

And of course, the bill that would require all hospitals to notify rape victims of the ability to obtain morning-after pills.

There are more specific examples here.

Roemer still holds claim to more vetoes (27) than Owens, but it seems that Bill just can't help himself. He likes things the way they are: with religious zealots witholding information from rape victims, with homophobic supervisors legally firing their gay employees, with industrial giants "self-regulating" their energy standards and with the poor living in fear of the destruction of their apartment buildings. He could do without that Churchill fellow in Boulder, of course, but as far as everything else goes, it's easy to be Governor Owens. Just pay attention to your friends and say "no" to everything that suggests that a change should be made in the way things are done.

What's my point? Well, the thing is, we can't just rely on the new Democratic state legislature to get things done here in Colorado. We need a governor who, unlike Owens, sees the potential in changing the status quo. If Beauprez is elected governor, there will be very little our elected dems can do to break through the brick wall that is the Governor's veto.

Just for clarity:


Bill Owens



Scary Ventriloquist Dummy

(I get them confused all the time)

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

A special day in any WT boy's life

So, the downstairs neighbor who had the testicles on his Star Spangled Bullshit truck apparently gave the plastic glands to his son, who now sports them on his black truck, the one with the silouhetted "curvy lady" appliqu├ęs and the "Git R Done" sticker on the back.

I imagined this teary-eyed, Hallmark Channel exchange, where the elder redneck lovingly bestowed the plastic truck balls to his NASCAR-jacketed son, telling him that now, he was a man.

Oy.