Thursday, October 23, 2008

Recommended Reading

Connecting a few related strands from previous posts, here's Maureen Dowd's latest column, in which she speaks with Colin Powell regarding his endorsement of Obama and his rejection of the GOP's anti-Muslim hysteria. Here's a selection that aptly demonstrates not only the depth of his thinking on this matter, but also the depth of stupidity that's out there:

[Powell] told Tom Brokaw that he was troubled by what other Republicans, not McCain, had said: “ ‘Well, you know that Mr. Obama is a Muslim.’ Well, the correct answer is, he is not a Muslim. He’s a Christian. He’s always been a Christian. But the really right answer is, what if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer’s no. That’s not America. Is something wrong with some 7-year-old Muslim-American kid believing that he or she could be president?”

Powell got a note from Feroze Khan this week thanking him for telling the world that Muslim-Americans are as good as any others. But he also received more e-mails insisting that Obama is a Muslim and one calling him “unconstitutional and unbiblical” for daring to support a socialist. He got a mass e-mail from a man wanting to spread the word that Obama was reading a book about the end of America written by a fellow Muslim.

“Holy cow!” Powell thought. Upon checking, he saw that it was a reference to Fareed Zakaria, a Muslim who writes a Newsweek column and hosts a CNN foreign affairs show. His latest book is “The Post-American World.”
Seriously, it's almost comical at this point.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

McCain's Muslims

Here's an interesing vid, courtesy of the American News Project, of a Muslim (inexplicably) working for John McCain's campaign who confronts one of those far right loons of the type that regularly turn up at Palin rallies, spewing all kinds of anti-Muslim hate. Eventually, enough fellow McCain supporters, including several more Muslims, take umbrage to this idiot, and he's turned out of the place, box of hate-slogan bumper stickers in hand. Yay, let's hear it for common sense.

Ah, but before you get too warm and fuzzy, here comes the ironic epilogue to this whole thing:
CNN host Rick Sanchez said he was "mystified" by a last minute decision by the McCain campaign to pull a Muslim grassroots organizer from appearing on his show.

The aide, Daniel Zubairi, had been scheduled to appear on Sanchez's mid-day program after he was caught on video talking down an anti-Muslim protester outside a McCain rally in Woodbridge, Virginia. But, even after telling the network that an interview was "good to go," the McCain shop pulled Zubairi at the last minute, leaving Sanchez in limbo on live TV.

So, near as I can figure, the McCain camp looked at the tea leaves and figured that, given the choice between alienating those few Muslims that are (again, inexplicably) actually supporting him, and the anti-Muslim nutbars who spew hate at their rallies, they came down on the side of the nutbars. Don't wanna tick off that part of the base, I guess. Surreal.

As a further aside: At this stage of the game, I find it absolutely astounding that any Muslim would be so willing to vote against their own best interests in support of a John McCain administration (and, in all fairness, there are a few in my own family). Ultimately they're free to support whoever they choose, but that doesn't make it any less of a head-scratcher for me.

I mean, we're a far cry from the 2K election, where a few perfunctory, placebo promises from George Bush led America's Muslim community to block vote in huge numbers for the GOP (good call, that). This is eight years later, and if two terms of systemic political marginalization wasn't enough, if two years of "Obama=Muslim=Bad" smear-mongering wasn't enough, if the bizarre hate fest at the Republican convention -- led by St. Rudy of 9/11 -- wasn't enough, what the hell else does it take? Seriously, we're starting to enter Ike-and-Tina territory here.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

"Condescending Elitism"

A new special comment from Olbermann in which he lays waste to the past few days of various McCain appendages proclaiming that certain parts of America are more "real" than others. Says Keith, quoting Sarah Palin:

"'We believe that the best of America is not all in Washington D.C.,' Gov. Palin told a fund-raiser in North Carolina last Thursday, to kick off this orgy of condescending elitism. 'We believe that the best of America is in these small towns that we get to visit, and in these wonderful little pockets of what I call the real America, being here with all of you hard working very patriotic, very pro-America areas of this great nation.'

"Governor, your prejudice is overwhelming. It is not just 'pockets' of this country that are 'pro-America' Governor. America is 'pro-America.' And the 'Real America' of yours, Governor, is where people at your rallies shout threats of violence, against other Americans, and you say nothing about them or to them."

Great stuff.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

A General Endorsement

Last week, Bill Maher had director Oliver Stone on his show to promote the then-impending release of his film W. In talking about his attempt to gain an insight into George W. Bush's thinking, Stone mentioned something that stuck out to me; his conclusion (hardly a revolutionary one) that Bush lives in a completely blissful, completely guilt-free bubble, content in the certainty of his righteousness, and blissfully oblivious to the havoc he's wrought on his country and his world.

I've often wondered if the other denizens of the Bush inner circle live similarly guilt-free lives in the stark and damning face of history. Certainly I've wondered that about Colin Powell. Before, during, and after his time in the W Administration, he's always been portrayed as the cooler head that never prevailed, having originated the now-famous "You break it, you own it" warning in advance of Iraq, and who ultimately left his post as Secretary of State in a supposed bout of conscience.

And yet, overshadowing all of his supposed thoughtfulness and supposed cautiousness, his image as the stoic, noble soldier, is the fact that he sat in front of the UN in early '03 and either willfully or ignorantly misled the world into believing a threat existed and there was none. Knowing what happened in the invasion's aftermath, knowing the physical, political, and moral capital our country has lost, I've often wondered if Powell feels a sense of guilt for his part in perpetuating the Bush agenda.

Now, the last thing I want is to psychoanalyze the guy, but I wonder if today's interview with Meet the Press, in which Powell issued a full-throated endorsement for Barack Obama's candidacy, and a full-throated denunciation of John McCain's campaign tactics (if not the man himself), is Powell's way, in some small fashion, of making amends for his part in Bush's Iraq fiasco -- at least in his own mind.

Regardless of what his intentions may or may not be, there's no question that this endorsement is a bad thing for John McCain, no matter how he and his minions try to spin it. A war hero like Powell backing Obama effectively cuts the leg out from the under the "Pals around with terrorists" stuff the Republicans are using to cement the low-info vote.

The question I have is what the far right loons who protested just a little bit too much that they aren't racist, that they'd gladly vote for a Condi Rice or a Colin Powell, are going to say now.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

TREK to the Past

You have to give JJ Abrams and his team credit for the well-choreographed radio silence they've maintained in regards to the upcoming Star Trek remake/reboot/sequel/whatever-the-hell that's due out next May. Up 'till now they've played it pretty close to the chest as far as what to expect from the hoped-for franchise restart.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Final Debate

I think that after tonight we know who the next president will be. Let's see how right or wrong I turn out to be in three weeks.

Sunday, October 12, 2008


When I was a kid, one of my favorite sci-fi franchises was the fascism parable V. Created by Kenneth Johnson, he of the Incredible Hulk TV series, the concept began its life as a four-hour miniseries which tracked the aftermath of Earth's first alien arrival. While the red-clad Visitors at first seem benign, their true reptilian nature is soon revealed, as is their plan to siphon Earth's water and turn humankind into their food supply. Basically, take Sinclair Lewis's It Can't Happen Here, toss in some of the "To Serve Man" episode of The Twilight Zone, and you end up with something like this.

That first mini racked up huge numbers -- like, Roots-huge -- which in turn led to an inevitable sequel, V - The Final Battle. Of course, by then, those famous Hollywood "creative differences" led Ken Johnson to depart the project, and he took most of the social commentary and hard edge with him. The Johnson-free Final Battle was still a huge success though, which led NBC to greenlight a still-Johnson-free weekly that came and went inside of one season, and sadly V has been mostly forgotten since its mid '80s heyday. Except by, y'know, people like me, who still have the V comic books from DC. And the various V tie-in novels. And bought the DVDs the day they came out.

Though there'd been occasional rumblings of a V reboot in the intervening two decades, including an early '90s take by J. Michael Straczynski (who hadn't yet brought Babylon 5 to the world), the only movement on the V front for the past several years had been a proposed sequel by Johnson himself, that would ignore the second mini and TV series, and pick up twenty years after the first miniseries. Nothing came of this attempt, but he did turn his sequel script into a novel that came out last year. I haven't read it yet, but it's sitting on my nightstand for a while now, and I'm sure I'll get to it one of these days.

Anyway, there's new word that the Visitors may be invading the Earth all over again with a report from Variety that ABC has greenlit a V "reboot," still Johnson-free, which will attempt to do with the concept what Sci-Fi Channel did with Battlestar Galactica. Of course, NBC tried something similar with The Bionic Woman last year and...well, yeah.

Right now I'm of two minds on the subject of a V redux. Certainly, the original concept of encroaching fascism remains as relevant as ever (maybe moreso, based on the video clip in the post below this one), but on the other hand, whenever a big studio meets a high concept, biting social commentary is usually the first thing that hits the bricks. Plus, the fact that they've (again) kicked Ken Johnson to the curb is also not cause for celebration. I mean, he only created the thing, after all.

As always with these things, we'll just have to wait and see.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Contagious Stupidity

A cross-section of the Republican base. This should send a cold chill down the spines of thinking, rational people of any political stripe:

Sick. Just sick.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Sundance on Butch

Legendary Paul Newman collaborator Robert Redford remembers his late friend.

The Veep Debate

Gotta say, while I felt the first one was close, this one was anything but. Sure, Palin over-performed relative to the lowered expectations she'd managed to set for herself these past few weeks, but then again she could have done that just by showing up and not tripping on her way to the podium, which she didn't, and so she did. The one candidate who walked away with this one though was Joe Biden, no question about it. Relatable, knowledgeable, articulate, and compassionate, he did everything the campaign could have asked of him and then some. This race just got a lot harder for John McCain.