Tuesday, February 28, 2006

And the winner is...

Oscar time. It is my firm belief that all oscar winners for Best Actor/Best Actress can be grouped into six simple categories:

PORTRAYING CHARACTERS WITH A DISABILITY OR DISEASE: This is the sure-fire, number one way to get yourself an Oscar, if you are even the least bit convincing in the role. Winners include Al Pacino (playing a blind man,)Dustin Hoffman (idiot-savant), Daniel Day-Lewis (Cerebral Palsy), Geoffrey Rush (Autistic), Nicholas Cage (addict) Tom Hanks (AIDS), Tom Hanks (retarded), Cliff Robertson (retarded), Jon Voight (paraplegic)Holly Hunter (mute), and Marlie Matlin (deaf). I understand that Matlin actually is deaf, but she did play a deaf character nonetheless.

PORTRAYING A PSYCHOTIC: Closely related to the disability category. Winners include Kathy Bates, Anthony Hopkins, Jack Nicholson, Jack Nicholson again (As Good as it Gets- not psychotic, but definitely a nut job), Peter Finch, Charlize Theron, Vivien Leigh (Teetering on psychotic in "Streetcar Named Desire")

PORTRAYING A REAL LIFE PERSON- Jamie Foxx, Julia Roberts, Jodie Foster, Susan Sarandon, Ben Kingsley, F. Murray Abraham, Hillary Swank, Robert DeNiro, George C. Scott, Nicole Kidman, Sissy Spacek, Gary Cooper, James Cagney, Anne Bancroft, Barbara Streisand

PLAYING A CHARACTER THAT GOES THROUGH A LIFE-CHANGING EVENT AND MUST NOW RE-DISCOVER HIM/HERSELF: Dustin Hoffman (wife leaves him, connects with his son) Meryl Streep (Sophie's Choice) Halle Berry (Husband is executed, son dies) Russel Crowe (wife and son murdered), Robert Duvall (wife dies), Jane Fonda (husband paralyzed)

PLAYING A BADASS/NOT-SO-INNOCENT PERSON- Denzel Washington (corrupt cop,)Gene Hackman (narcotics detective), Jeremy Irons (Klaus von Bulow), Michael Douglas (scoundrel), William Holden

BE OLD AND NEVER HAVE WON BEFORE- Geraldine Page, Paul Newman, Jessica Tandy, Don Ameche (supporting), Jack Pallance (supporting), Henry Fonda, John Wayne

I realize not all winners can fit neatly in these categories, but I think it's some good advice for actors who want to hear their name read off that envelope. Take roles that fit into these six categories, and your day will come!

Friday, February 24, 2006

It will come as a surprise to no one to find out I despise Ann Coulter.

Now, you will know why.

It's not just what she stands for- it's how she does it. At the most base level, all she does is spew forth hatred, catch-phrases, propaganda, and insults. She offers little in the way of intellect, ideas, or vision.

There are plenty of conservatives, journalists at that, (Ms. Coulter is not a journalist, she's a blond with a website) who I respect. They are professional, calculated, intellectual, and can back up their ideas with thought and logic. George Will, Bill Kristoll, William Safire, William F. Buckley. These are intelligent people who do their homework and make plausible arguments.

Ms. Coulter's comments from earlier this week:

"The idea that the Democrats have any meaningful interest in America's national security is a joke, so I'm perfectly willing to believe there's more to this port story. "

Why is that a joke? Democrats don't care if America is safe? Democrats like Senator Inouye, who lost an arm defending his country? Bob Kerrey, who lost a leg? Max Cleland, who lost both? Wesley Clark, a four-star general? Jimmy Carter, who served his country at Annapolis and in the Navy? Those Democrats?

"But Bush is going to need a better justification for turning over management of our ports to an Arab country than he's come up with so far — especially now that Jimmy Carter has said it's a good idea. Judging from his life's work to date, Carter's definition of a good idea is "an idea likely to hurt America and/or help its enemies." "

Jimmy Carter's ideas hurt America? Like building houses for the poor? Terrible idea. Yes, Ann, overseeing a democratic election in Haiti really helps our enemies. Ticks 'em off real good. The Carter Center is dedicated to fighting disease and standing up for human rights. The nerve of some people! Then again, I can see how YOU might think that fighting for human rights is an affront to the current administration. Oh, and by the way, check the scoreboard:

Nobel Prizes:
Jimmy Carter- One
All Republican Presidents, ever: Zero.

"Needless to say, the Treason Times won't show the cartoons that have incited mass rioting around the globe. At least The New York Times has a good excuse: It's too busy printing national security secrets that will get Americans killed."

As for making matters of national security that could get people killed a matter of public record, go have a little talk with Scooter Libby, not the New York Times. In addition, the New York Times has never been charged with treason.

I will make a bold prediction: Ann, when your looks go, so will your career, because you can't write worth a damn. Bill Safire (formerly of the "Treason Times") ain't no looker, but he's still getting published. George Will ain't appearing in a Brut add anytime soon. I read his columns evey week and will continue to until he can't type anymore.

Can't wait to see how you're career is doing when you're pushing 70!

Thursday, February 23, 2006

It used to be that the U.S. military got involved in other nation's military affairs to help END a civil war- Bosnia comes to mind. If I recall right, President Clinton took a lot of heat over that one. However, although the situation in the Balkans is far from perfect, it seems vastly improved over 10 years ago. I do not know how many U.S. troops died in the nine years they stayed in Bosnia, but it was considerably less than TWO THOUSAND!!!

Seems now that we have STARTED a civil war.

This is not what most would consider progress.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Al Neri: Loyal servant of Michale Corleone, killer of Don Barzini, the man who framed Senator Geray.



Saturday, February 18, 2006

Many supporters of the Vice President- whether media, bloggers, or other- have come upon an interesting comparison. Dick Cheney, they say, has at the very least admitted he was wrong, which is more than Ted Kennedy did after his infamous car accident in 1969.


Does this mean Dick Cheney is a better man than Teddy? Does this mean that Dick Cheney did NOT shoot a man in the face, albeit accidentally? By comparing the two, are these commentators conceding that Chapaquidick was indeed an accident? Because if it wasn't, the two are not comparable.

In order to be comparable, events must have something in common. So if you're going to compare these two events, either they were both accidents, or they were both heinously intentional. Take your pick.

Rush Limbaugh said he's rather going hunting with Cheney than driving with Teddy. Know what? I'd do either, so long as Rush stays away from my medicine chest.

A tribute that is long overdue:


Wednesday, February 15, 2006

I'm not much of a conspiracy theorist.

Friday, Feb. 10- The AP reports " A former top aide to Vice President Dick Cheney told a federal grand jury that his superiors authorized him to give secret information to reporters as part of the Bush administration's defense of intelligence used to justify invading Iraq, according to court papers.

Special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald said in documents filed last month that he plans to introduce evidence that I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Cheney's former chief of staff, disclosed to reporters the contents of a classified National Intelligence Estimate in the summer of 2003."

Saturday, Feb 11- Dick Cheney shoots another man in a hunting accident. Another man standing 30 yards away. In the chest. While aiming at birds, who usually spend their time above chest-level. For the last 4 days, that's all anyone in the national media has talked about.

Like I said, I'm not a conspiracy theorist. Just pointing out some facts (tongue-in-cheek, I might add)

I'm sure it was just a coincidence. At least, 99% sure.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Ok, so Vice President Cheney shot another man on a hunting trip. It was an accident. Accidents happen.

The accident took place on a ranch owned by Katharine Armstrong, a long-time friend of the Bush family.

From www.tpj.org:

"In 2004 she [Katharine Armstrong] reported three Texas lobby contracts, led by construction company Parsons Technology and Dannenbaum Engineering, a major contractor for Texas water projects. That year she teamed up with Pioneer Karen Johnson to lobby the Bush administration."

The Vice President was a guest at the home of a lobbyist with an interest in the actions of the administration. I guess there's no law against it. The Vice President is entitled to have friends and stay at their houses.

What gets me is the arrogance of it all. With the Abramoff scandal still fresh, with the House and Senate vowing to make ethical reforms, with the party in power has one of its leaders under indictment, Cheney does not think twice about associating recreationally with someone who lobbies the White House.

Can you imagine Tom DeLay going to eat dinner at Signatures while his case is pending?

It gets better.

According to http://www.ethics.state.tx.us/ Ms. Armstrong represents a group called Parsons Advanced Technologies. Get a load of this, all taken directly from Parson's website.

Parsons continues to be a key player in Iraq
By Kevin Smith Staff Writer
PASADENA -- When it comes to contracts, Parsons Corp. tends to do things in a big way.
And lately, the Pasadena-based engineering and construction firm has been awarded several major contracts
to help rebuild war-torn Iraq. Jim McNulty, the company's chairman and chief executive officer, said it's been a natural progression. "We've been working in the Middle East for over 40 years,' he said. "We've done a significant amount of
work in Saudi Arabia on the oil and gas side of things helping ARAMCO, Saudi Arabia's nationalized oil company.' In the 1960s and 1970s, the privately held company built an entire industrial city on the western side of the
Red Sea called Yanbu, McNulty said.
"All of the oil is on the eastern side of Saudi Arabia and they wanted to be able to send it over in a pipeline across the desert. The city was built to receive and process the oil for use in petrochemical plants and for
importing. We also provided places to live for all the people who work there....'

Over the past 30 years, the company also has done a broad range of design and construction management work in the United Arab Emirates.
"We did design and management for almost every inch of roadway that's been put in place in Abu Dhabi and Dubai,' McNulty said. "Before that it was a very rural area. But both communities have developed over the
last 30 years into two major cities - it's spectacular.'
Parsons and other Pasadena- based engineering firms like Tetra Tech Inc. and Jacobs Engineering Group Inc., have found vast opportunities in the Middle East, according to Jack Kyser, chief economist for the Los
Angeles County Economic Development Corp.
"Iraq's oil industry infrastructure is old and didn't receive good attention under Saddam Hussein,' Kyser said.

Last month, Parsons was awarded a $28 million contract to reconstruct and renovate the Tadji military base and Iraqi Armed Forces recruiting stations. The contract was awarded through the company's Worldwide Environmental Restoration Contract with the
Air Force Center for Environmental Excellence. The Tadji based project - deemed critical to maintaining security in Iraq while its infrastructure is rebuilt -
will include building renovation, repair of wastewater treatment plants and installation of sewer lines.
Major Gen. Paul D. Easton, U.S. Army commanding general for the Coalition Military Assistance and Training Team, agreed.
"A key benefit of completing this project is giving the Iraqi armed forces the facilities they need for the defense of their country,' Easton said in a prepared statement. Parsons will hire and train local Iraqi contractors, suppliers and labor for the project. That contract comes on the heels of another announced earlier in January from the United States Army Corps
of Engineers. Parsons Corp. was part of a team awarded a contract for future work in restoring the oil infrastructure in northern Iraq to pre-war production levels.
The contract, valued at $500,000 to as much as $800 million, covers a variety of services including the cleanup and restoration of oil fields, pipelines and refineries.
The two-year agreement also has three one-year options, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Draw your own conclusions.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

The President released his budget for the Fiscal Year 2007 on Monday. Normally, cuts in education and social services are enough to get me upset on their own. But my frustration is high, as hypocrisy has entered the picture. I've been around politics long enough to know that everyone in D.C. can be hypocritical given the right circumstances. But the President made his bed on January 31. By February 6, he wasn't lying anywhere near it.

Many programs were cut, citing "ineffectiveness." Programs that would promote students to go into health professions? Cut, because it was found to be "ineffective."

"The Department of Education’s 2006 appropriation terminated
funding for five programs totaling $26 million and included significant reductions to ineffective and low-priority programs"

Remember that word- "ineffective."

Flash back to the State of the Union, delivered less than a week before the budget was released.

"To overcome dangers in our world, we must also take the offensive by encouraging economic progress, and fighting disease, and spreading hope in hopeless lands."

Fight disease! Yay! On a CDC budget cut by over $160 million.

"Tonight I propose to train 70,000 high school teachers to lead advanced-placement courses in math and science, bring 30,000 math and science professionals to teach in classrooms, and give early help to students who struggle with math, so they have a better chance at good, high-wage jobs."

Grants for teacher training and incentive remain level when compared to FY 2006. Factor in inflation, and the result is a loss in real dollars for these programs.

"we need to encourage children to take more math and science, and to make sure those courses are rigorous enough to compete with other nations. "

The President's budget cuts outlays for the Department of Education by $19 billion. Discretionary spending is cut by $2 billion. There are specific programs for math and science which receive funding, but the total for these new programs is $15 million. Sound like a lot? Ask anyone in D.C. how you're supposed to run a nationwide program on $15 million. They'll turn around and walk away, but not before doubling over with laughter.

Pell grants face a cut of over $5 billion.
Federal direct student loans and Federal family education loans face cuts if the President's budget is adopted as is.

What good is high school math and science if you can't take it to the next level?

"Wise policies, such as welfare reform and drug education and support for abstinence and adoption have made a difference in the character of our country."

I'm not an expert on welfare reform or abstinence only education. But I know my drug policy. If drug education has made such a difference, why did the President ask for cuts to the budget of the National Institute on Drug Abuse? As well as cuts for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration? $350 million in requested cuts from the Safe and Drug Free Schools Block Grant program? Is the war on drugs over? did we win?

Ok, tangent time. The following SOTU excerpts have nothing to do with the budget.

"Tonight I ask you to pass legislation to prohibit the most egregious abuses of medical research: human cloning in all its forms, creating or implanting embryos for experiments, creating human-animal hybrids..."

Human-animal hybrids? Did I miss the U.S.A.'s transformation into the Island of Dr. Moreau?

"Human life is a gift from our Creator."

Seems like your not to thrilled with the gift from said creator. Otherwise you wouldn't be so careless in taking it. I don't care what your reasons were for the war, but you sent over 2,000 Americans, and tens of thousands or Iraqis, to their deaths.

Don't preach about the sanctity of life, and then turn a deaf ear and blind eye to Darfur.


Back to the budget. As always, the devil is in the details (that's a metaphor, not a reference to Vice President Cheney.) The budget repeatedly cites as a reason for budget cuts to educational and social services are that certain programs are "ineffective," and as a result no longer deserve to be funded.

Yet the president asked for a large increase in FEMA's budget. Granted, FEMA needs some help. In my opinion, no government agency or program proved itself to be more ineffective than FEMA in 2005. Besides the ill-fated response to Katrina, FEMA repeatedly missed Congressional deadlines for reports, disclosures, testimony, etc. Some people from the gulf coast region may be reading this, and in no way do I want you to think that I do not support the rebuilding of the region and continued efforts to help people regain their lives. But if other programs are ineffective and they get cut, it would follow logically the if FEMA were ineffective, it too should receive budget cuts.

I recognize that it would be political suicide for Bush NOT to ask for an increase for FEMA. That being said, maybe his administration, in order to be consistent, should have come up with some different explanations for cutting other programs that are "ineffective." Maybe the following messages would have been closer to the truth:

We just really don't like poor people.

Too many children have been left behind, so screw it.

You didn't really think we'd keep our word, did you?

As long as the homeland is safe, we don't care if everyone in it is sick and stupid.

We're trying to fight meth, and math is only one letter off, so we're fighting that too.

This administration seems to think that American's can't handle the truth. Whether it be about weapons of mass destruction, the death of Pat Tillman, when the White House actually knew about the levees breaking, or take your pick. Did the President actually think he could say one thing, do another, and American's wouldn't notice? Probably.

Some may not have noticed. But some did.

Friday, February 03, 2006

May I have your attention please for a very important announcement?


That is all. Thank you.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

When I was a student at Washington University in St. Louis, our chancellor was William H. Danforth. To the students, he was "Chan Dan," an established, respected, imposing figure. Very tall and distinguished, he spoke with a voice of infinite calm and enormous depth.

His brother is John Danforth, former Senator from the Show Me State. When John was in the senate, he was what was known as a "moderate" Republican. There were lots of those in the early 1990s- Mark Hatfield, John Chaffee, Mr. Danforth, the list goes on. There were even senators before that known as "liberal" Republicans- Lowell Weiker, Jacob Javits. Some moderates are still around today, but I do not believe they are as moderate- or as influential- as senators like Danforth were.

Here is a great article from the Washington Post about Mr. Danforth and his opinions on the current political climate.


Wednesday, February 01, 2006

an open letter from Cindy Sheehan, posted on www.michaelmoore.com

Dear Friends,

As most of you have probably heard, I was arrested before the State of the Union Address tonight.

I am speechless with fury at what happened and with grief over what we have lost in our country.

There have been lies from the police and distortions by the press. (Shocker) So this is what really happened:

This afternoon at the People's State of the Union Address in DC where I was joined by Congresspersons Lynn Woolsey and John Conyers, Ann Wright, Malik Rahim and John Cavanagh. Lynn brought me a ticket to the State of the Union Address. At that time, I was wearing the shirt that said: 2,245 Dead. How many more?

After the PSOTU press conference, I was having second thoughts about going to the SOTU at the Capitol. I didn't feel comfortable going. I knew George Bush would say things that would hurt me and anger me and I knew that I couldn't disrupt the address because Lynn had given me the ticket and I didn't want to be disruptive out of respect for her. I, in fact, had given the ticket to John Bruhns who is in Iraq Veterans Against the War. However, Lynn's office had already called the media and everyone knew I was going to be there so I sucked it up and went.

I got the ticket back from John, and I met one of Congresswoman Barbara Lee's staffers in the Longworth Congressional Office building and we went to the Capitol via the underground tunnel. I went through security once, then had to use the rest room and went through security again.

My ticket was in the 5th gallery, front row, fourth seat in. The person who in a few minutes was to arrest me, helped me to my seat.

I had just sat down and I was warm from climbing 3 flights of stairs back up from the bathroom so I unzipped my jacket. I turned to the right to take my left arm out, when the same officer saw my shirt and yelled, "Protester." He then ran over to me, hauled me out of my seat and roughly (with my hands behind my back) shoved me up the stairs. I said something like, "I'm going, do you have to be so rough?" By the way, his name is Mike Weight.

The officer ran with me to the elevators yelling at everyone to move out of the way. When we got to the elevators, he cuffed me and took me outside to await a squad car. On the way out, someone behind me said, "That's Cindy Sheehan." At which point the officer who arrested me said, "Take these steps slowly." I said, "You didn't care about being careful when you were dragging me up the other steps." He said, "That's because you were protesting." Wow, I get hauled out of the People's House because I was, "Protesting."

I was never told that I couldn't wear that shirt into the Congress. I was never asked to take it off or zip my jacket back up. If I had been asked to do any of those things...I would have, and written about the suppression of my freedom of speech later. I was immediately, and roughly (I have the bruises and muscle spasms to prove it) hauled off and arrested for "unlawful conduct."

After I had my personal items inventoried and my fingers printed, a nice Sgt. came in and looked at my shirt and said, "2,245, huh? I just got back from there."

I told him that my son died there. That's when the enormity of my loss hit me. I have lost my son. I have lost my First Amendment rights. I have lost the country that I love. Where did America go? I started crying in pain.

What did Casey die for? What did the 2,244 other brave young Americans die for? What are tens of thousands of them over there in harm's way for still? For this? I can't even wear a shirt that has the number of troops on it that George Bush and his arrogant and ignorant policies are responsible for killing.

I wore the shirt to make a statement. The press knew I was going to be there and I thought every once in awhile they would show me and I would have the shirt on. I did not wear it to be disruptive, or I would have unzipped my jacket during George's speech. If I had any idea what happens to people who wear shirts that make the neocons uncomfortable...that I would be arrested...maybe I would have, but I didn't.

There have already been many wild stories out there.

I have some lawyers looking into filing a First Amendment lawsuit against the government for what happened tonight. I will file it. It is time to take our freedoms and our country back.

I don't want to live in a country that prohibits any person, whether he/she has paid the ultimate price for that country, from wearing, saying, writing, or telephoning any negative statements about the government. That's why I am going to take my freedoms and liberties back. That's why I am not going to let Bushco take anything else away from me...or you.

I am so appreciative of the couple of hundred protesters who came to the jail while I was locked up to show their support....we have so much potential for good...there is so much good in so many people.

Four hours and 2 jails after I was arrested, I was let out. Again, I am so upset and sore it is hard to think straight.

Keep up the struggle...I promise you I will too.

Love and peace soon,

Southpaw Spot salutes you Cindy. You're son is somewhere smiling, very proud of his very brave mother.