Monday, May 31, 2010

An imperfect analogy, but I'm going with it

Let's say that back in August 2005, a flotilla of ships carrying relief supplies was headed to New Orleans to help ease the suffering in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Let's also say that all the ships originated from nations inimical to US interests...Venezuela, North Korea, Iran, and so on.

One would understand if US authorities wanted the ships to dock at a specific location so that the freight could be inspected and then transported where it was needed. One would also understand that if those wishes were communicated to the ships and the ships' captains disregarded them that we would impose our wishes on the ships' captains, by force if necessary.

In a nutshell, that's just what happened when Israel's navy commandos intercepted the ships bound for Gaza. Israel ordered the ships to sail for Haifa, where the cargo could be inspected for weapons before legitimate humanitarian supplies could be sent along to Gaza.

The "crews" of these ships - far many more than you'd expect to see on a legitimate cargo ship - set out to provoke Israel into a military response. If they're looking for sympathy, they can find it in the dictionary somewhere between shit and syphilis.

Update: The port Israel ordered the ship to may have been Ashdod, and not Haifa. The first article I'd read said Haifa, but others mention Ashdod, and that's closer to Gaza and seems to be where routine (read, actual) humanitarian aid shipments arrive.

Friday, May 28, 2010

New politics...yay!

Barack Obama campaigned on the idea of a "new" kind of politics, full of transparency and free of corruption and the old political hackery. But after months of stonewalling, the White House has finally admitted to trying to coerce Joe Sestak into dropping his primary bid against Arlen Specter by offering him alternative employment.
President Obama’s chief of staff used former President Bill Clinton as an intermediary to see if Representative Joe Sestak would drop out of a Senate primary if given a prominent, but unpaid, advisory position, people briefed on the matter said Friday.

Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff, asked Mr. Clinton to explore the possibilities last summer, according to the briefed individuals, who insisted on anonymity to discuss the politically charged situation. Mr. Sestak said no and went on to win last week’s Pennsylvania Democratic primary against Senator Arlen Specter.
The White House is trying to spin and mitigate the seriousness by (1) saying that someone not officially in their employ communicated the offer and that (2) the offer was for an unpaid position.

As for the first "mitigating" factor, the communications medium is irrelevant. It doesn't matter whether the offer was made via messenger, a phone call, an e-mail, or by Pony Express, the offer was still made by the White House to Joe Sestak.

As for the second, again, it makes no difference. They may be trying to get around the language of Title 18 of the US Code which refers to "anything of value" in such a quid pro quo, which brings to mind Whoopi Goldberg's defense of Roman Polanski (it wasn't rape rape!). In any event, I have serious doubts that this administration would be stupid enough to offer an unpaid position in exchange for giving up a chance at a Senate seat.

And this is just the corruption to which they're admitting. What other sleaze do we not know about?

New politics, indeed.

Update: Verdict, GUILTY.
Whoever, directly or indirectly, promises any employment, position, compensation, contract, appointment, or other benefit, provided for or made possible in whole or in part by any Act of Congress, or any special consideration in obtaining any such benefit, to any person as consideration, favor, or reward for any political activity or for the support of or opposition to any candidate or any political party in connection with any general or special election to any political office, or in connection with any primary election or political convention or caucus held to select candidates for any political office, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.
Update 2: I think the "made possible in whole or in part by any Act of Congress" bit might be the out, IF in fact the position offered was an unpaid one, and not SecNav as has been speculated.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A night at the movies

I don't go out to the movies much. Since the days of the VCR, I've found I much prefer to wait for the video release and watch at home. Just the same, Mrs. Poolbar occasionally gets me to agree to catching one at a theater, so last night we went and caught "Robin Hood" at the new Muvico Village theaters here in Fredericksburg. I'll come back to the movie in a moment, but first a quick word about the theater complex.

Muvico is in the new area being built at Spotsylvania Towne Center mall. Besides the theaters, it also boasts bowling alleys and the Chatterbox Lounge, a bar that's part of the "Premier VIP" movie theater seating. You can grab your alcoholic beverages of choice at the bar and bring them with you to your oh-so-spacious and comfortable lounge chair for the movie. If you don't mind spending $15 for a movie ticket, it's great. My only complaint is that the air conditioning seemed to be running at full blast, and there I was in shorts, flip-flops and a t-shirt. Anyway, back to the movie.

I don't do movie reviews, so this isn't one. I don't really have a critical eye for cinematography and the like, and short of pathetically poor acting, I can't tell an Oscar-winning performance from a ho-hum average one. For me, movies get one of three ratings: "Great", "OK" or "Sucks". A "great" movie is any of the Lord Of The Rings movies, or The Caine Mutiny or something like that. Most romantic comedies Mrs. Poolbar puts on the tube are "OK", except for those that "suck". Other movies that "suck" are Mulholland Drive and Punch-Drunk Love.

Now that you have a basis for what movies I like and don't like, I'll tell you that Robin Hood is "great". It's fun with good action scenes, a good story line (and a more historically plausible back story for the Robin Hood character than traditional tellings) and has villains you love to hate and heroes you want to cheer on. If some of the sub-plots are a little hurried and a bit sketchily filled in, they can be forgiven for the ambitious effort of laying out the complex medieval politics of the day.

I'm not going to give away any plot spoilers, but DON'T READ THIS PART if you want to keep something of a visual surprise near the end. When France invades England in the film's climactic battle scene, Ridley Scott pays a bit of an homage to Saving Private Ryan, complete with 12th century landing craft suspiciously reminiscent of those used in World War 2. Truth be told, they look just like those boats, but with oars. The homage is made complete with underwater footage of disembarking French soldiers dying under a shit-storm of arrows, blood-streaked water and helmets and what-not sinking to the bottom.

As I said, the Robin Hood back story is more historically plausible to me in this telling than in the traditional ones. The whole movie is about what turned a man into Robin Hood, and ends where the traditional tellings begin with Robin Hood, Lady Marian and the Merry Men living as outlaws and leaves open the possibility of a Robin Hood movie franchise to continue the story.

Fun stuff, highly recommended.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

You don't see ads like these anymore

Got these from a buddy today via e-mail. I'm old enough to actually remember a couple of them, and some of them just scream "What the fuck?!".

I vaguely remember these ads. Nothing too outrageous for the day.

A typically deliciously sexist ad from the late '60s-early '70s.

Remember when I said some of them scream "What the fuck?!"
Seriously, I have NO idea what this ad is about.

Here's another one I sort of remember. The text reads:

Though she was a tiger lady,

our hero didn't have to fire a shot to floor her. After one look at

his Mr. Leggs slacks, she was ready to have him walk all over

her. That noble styling sure soothes the savage heart! If you'd

like your own doll-to-doll carpeting, hunt up a pair of these he-

man Mr. Leggs slacks. Such as our new automatic wash wear

blend of 65% "Dacron®" and 35% rayon-incomparably wrinkle-

resistant. About $12.95 at plush-carpeted stores.

You don't even SEE cigarette ads anymore, let alone something like this

I definitely remember this ad campaign. Love's Baby Soft was popular
with young teens, and only now does this ad seem really creepy.

Gloria Steinem, please call your office

Kellogg's vitamins for women? Really?

I wasn't sure at first if this was an ad or a Village People album cover

You don't hate your wife, do you? Now go and buy her some of this crap.

Who knew there was a "Soda Pop Board of America" to make sure we got hooked young?

I've been a very naughty girl for buying stale coffee, and I deserve a spanking!
I may have to start watching "Mad Men" to get a glimpse of the guys who came
up with ads like this one.

Smoke two packs and call me in the morning.

More "get 'em while they're young"! An excerpt from the text:

this young man is 11 months old - and

he isn't our youngest customer by any means. For 7-Up is so pure, so wholesome,

you can even give it to babies and feel good about it. - By the way, Mom, when it

comes to toddlers - if they like to be coaxed to drink their milk, try this: Add 7-Up

to the milk in equal parts, pouring the 7-Up gently into the milk. It's a wholesome

combination - and it works!"

Monday, May 17, 2010

Sovereignty? We don't need no stinkin' sovereignty!

When the Arizona state legislature passed an immigration enforcement bill which Gov. Jan Brewer subsequently signed into law, the public reaction was immediate, predictable and fierce. With images of cops randomly stopping people and demanding their papers, Arizonans were instantly branded as racists and fascists, and accusations of "racial profiling" were tossed around like confetti.

The Obama administration piled on before the DoJ even reviewed the new law, using it to demogogue the hell out of their political opponents. Municipal governments in other states jumped on the bandwagon, laying boycotts on Arizona, with San Francisco going so far as barring all but unavoidable official travel to the fascist state. One girls' high school basketball team even cancelled their participation in a tournament there.

And for what? A state law that requires police to check up on the immigration status of individuals in the course of "lawful contact" when an officer has reason to suspect the person's immigration status. Nothing in the law authorizes a cop to demand "papers" from people at random, and the law does nothing to expand the definition of "lawful contact" into areas incompatible with constitutional rights. Here's a link to the bill (SB1070), and you can see for yourself.

My own misgivings about the bill were around cops who might target Hispanics for "lawful contact" on some pretext, until it occurred to me that cops who are predisposed to that kind of thing don't need this law in order to do that. A bad cop is a bad cop, and this law won't turn a good cop bad.

I suspect the most vociferous opponents of the law fall into one (or more) of the following categories:
  • La Raza: These are the folks (and their sympathizers) who view California and the Southwest United States as their own land, and all you white honky fuckers are on their soil.
  • The Open Borders crowd: The idiots who don't believe in such archaic concepts as national sovereignty, artificial political borders, and - hey! pass the bong, dude!
  • The average, garden-variety Leftist: Many of these also fall into the open borders category, but most of them simply view everything - everything - through the prism of race. And you're a racist right-wing pig for even thinking of enforcing immigration law.
What they all have in common is that their opposition is less about common sense than it is about driving a political agenda.

And, just as I was ready to hit "publish", Hot Air reports that California has had strikingly similar language in their state laws for years.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Faisal Shahzad, heartbreaker

When the identity of last weekend's Times Square (would-be) bomber was revealed as an ethnic Pakistani Muslim bent on killing Americans, hearts all across the Lefty world were shattered. Oh, how their hopes soared when initial surveillance video suggested the perpetrator was a white male; surely this was their Great White Teabagging Hope who would prove their thesis that Teapartiers are a rabid pack of violent racists. Even New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg speculated idly (and spectacularly irresponsibly) that it might be “somebody with a political agenda who doesn’t like the health care bill or something."

But when the distinctly non-WASPish sounding name Faisal Shahzad surfaced as the prime suspect, their hopes were dashed on the rocks of their own hatred. MSNBC anchor Contessa Brewer - evidently as stupid as she is beautiful - actually gave voice to her incoherent thoughts of disappointment and frustration:
I mean the thing is is that and I get frustrated and there was part of me that was hoping this was not going to be anybody with ties to any kind of Islamic country because there are a lot of people who want to use this terrorist intent to justify writing off people who believe in a certain way or come from certain countries or whose skin color is a certain way. I mean they use it as justification for really outdated bigotry.

And so there was part of me was really hoping this would not be the case that here would be somebody who is not the defined. I mean he’s accused he’s arrested you know I don’t want to convict him before it’s time to do so. He’s the guy authorities say is involved. But that being said I mean we know even in recent history you have the Hutaree militia from Michigan who have plans to let’s face it create terror.
Yes, Contessa, I do want to write off "people who believe in a certain way" if that "certain way" is that innocent people must die just for being Infidels. But in Contessa Land, it's just dandy to want to write off as violent, teabagging racists anyone who opposes their political agenda.

While Brewer was wetting herself over the possibility of a militia or Tea Party culprit, a contributor over at Lefty blog Daily Kos put up a now-embarrassing survey asking readers who they thought was responsible for the attempted bombing. The early results - before the suspect was known - are about what you'd expect:
An al Qaeda terrorist ---4%

An American sympathetic to al Qaeda ---5%

A militia wackjob ---30%

A teapartier ---32%

A religious (anti-abortion) wackjob ---9%
Got that? Before Shahzad was implicated, 71% of Kos readers were pretty excited about a right-wing connection to the Times Square bombing attempt. Here's a screen shot of the poll results from this morning, days after Shahzad became known...not a big improvement:

Even after the facts were known, there was too much stupidity to overcome to get the poll results to even approach reality.

But the poll is revelatory in one respect:

Religious whack-job (top or left depending on screen res) and not-a-religious-whack-job (right or bottom depending on screen res).
(Source: Leftist's Guide To Modern Thought)

Yeah, I made up that "source". So sue me.