Monday, November 09, 2009

How to Argue Like a Conservative, Part I: An Ignorant GOP Manifesto

How to Argue Like a Conservative, Part I:An Ignorant GOP Manifesto

1. Ignore the facts. If Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity say it's true, it's good enough for me!

2. Label everything as socialist, Nazi, Marxist, communist, etc. Using powerful words like that means the opposition has to explain what something is not, versus what something actually is. Don’t worry about accuracy – see #1 for details.

3. Deny all science. After all, Al Gore personally invented global warming one day when he woke up 40 years ago as a college student. He then bribed 90% of all world scientists to go along with his shrewd plan based on irrefutable scientific evidence. There’s no need to allow science to intervene in the market place of ideas, or even rational thought. Besides, everyone knows that the best way to make money in America is to talk about global warming and be as exciting as Al Gore is. I mean, c’mon!

4. Don’t bother mentioning that tax-and-spend is actually the function of government – to collect revenues from citizens and municipalities and distribute them towards services.

5. Whenever government tries to help, say the government is taking over “everything.” That way, your opponent has to waste his or her time explaining the actual facts.

6. Stick up for the rich! The wealthiest citizens became millionaires and billionaires all by themselves and had no help whatsoever from hundreds or thousands of others who did most of the work for them, making them rich. The wealthy are under attack in this nation by a government that taxes them a few whole percentage points above working class people. Enough is enough.

7. Start yelling “Boooo!” whenever someone calmly begins explaining facts. Yelling “boo!” is a great way to ensure the issues aren’t discussed or debated clearly. We don’t want the truth to get out there.

8. Blame others for your mistakes, especially when those liberal goons try to fix them for you. Think of it this way: when you spill the milk, why shouldn’t someone else spend his or her time cleaning it up? For eight years, we worked ever so hard to create giant messes that some Democrats also voted for. Now that they’ve had control for ten months, it’s high time they explain just why they haven’t cleaned up the gigantic and huge messes we created and sustained for the better part of a decade.

9. Remind everyone that environmentalists = nutcases. People who believe in keeping the planet clean and free of pollution and want to do something positive about it for both business and the inhabitants of the earth --- dude, to hell with those freaks!

10. Blame the ex-president – only if that ex-president is a Democrat. Applicable for all financial and military disasters. When the 1990s saw unprecedented economic growth, it was solely due to the GOP regaining the Congress – but when the small recession hit in 2000 from the dot-com blowout, that therefore had nothing to do with the GOP Congressional takeover – it was ALL Clinton’s fault. Ditto to 9/11.

Special Bonus: (11) When those lefties try to offer a health care plan that might actually benefit others, make certain you do NOT mention that (a) government officials are already on the same plan, (b) it’d be a lot like Medicare, (c) your taxes will go up, especially if you’re a rich person, and (c) we Republicans didn’t do anything for 12 years of Congressional control to fix the issue – so naturally we can fix it now!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The New Generation

What a night.

Forget the historical significance of electing the Junior Senator from Illinois, Barack Hussein Obama, as the first African-American (and biracial) person as President of the United States.

Forget the litany of smears he endured (being called a "terrorist," "socialist," "communist," "elitist," you name it) and overcame. Forget the smearing of his middle name. Forget the nonstop, guilt-by-association attacks from the opposition, which didn't work in the primaries and failed in the general election.

A good, decent man was elected as President of the United States of America, by overwhelming margins and victories, and our election cycle and map has changed. An equally good, very intelligent and uncommonly decent man was elected as his running mate, Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware, who has overcome the horrors of life for a richly deserved victory.

Through it all, we did not allow a single state to dictate the outcome of the election. All over the nation, people came out in droves. Wow.

A new generation of Americans are proud of their country. A new generation is excited. A new generation is thrilled. A new generation will get involved in ways we haven't for decades. At least one hopes.

The scores of cheers and applause was emotional, exciting and profound. You can't fake it. Check it out yourself below. The single act of electing this man might have made substantial gains in repairing our nation's image at home and abroad.

Look at the contrast. We go from Bush to Obama. Think about it.

Has there ever been a more disastrous, reckless time in our recent history than the past 8 years? George W. Bush "wins" the 2000 election, after an unjust and pathetic voter suppression effort in Florida and refusal to fully count the votes. Months later, Bush takes the longest vacation of any sitting President, only days later for our nation to be changed with the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York. He responds with the nation fully behind him, but then diverts to Iraq, a nation that never attacked us, under the calculated and false pretense of weapons of mass destruction.

The nightmare continued with the erosion of civil liberties and the presence of sheer incompetence at all levels would continue. Warrant-less wiretaps, often tapping members of the GOP opposition, were exposed and hidden under the guise of "terrorist surveillance." Federal attorneys fired in unprecedented numbers because of their personal and political beliefs, often at odds with the administration's. One disgraced member of the Administration and Congress after the other resigns or is managed out.

Spending goes out of control. The Republican Party, under their president, spends more money than any other political party in American history and bankrupts the nation to the tune of trillions and trillions. And now our nation is experiencing the worst economic crisis in several decades. In the process of all this, we lost a major city, New Orleans, after a Republican government sat on its ass for days and days while people suffered, starved and died.

Naturally, the Republicans of today blame the Democrats, ignoring their continual support of Bush's bad economic and foreign policies, and anyone who ever dared speak out against them, rationally or irrationally, was anti-America and un-American. What a disgrace.

What a spectacular presidency Bush has had. Spectacular is not a good word here. It is an honest one. Bush has been a spectacular President in the worst way possible. He is hated all over the planet, and severely disliked by many in his party. Sadly, he has truly earned this scorn.

We now have, as President-elect, a man who believes in working with people and listening to all points of view. A young, brilliant, accomplished man who previously worked on a wide variety of legislation on major issues, from ethics to nukes. A man who will piss off members of his own party if it means doing the right thing. A man who did not, as President Bush did after he "won" re-election in 2004, claim a "mandate," but reached across the broad spectrum of America.

What a sad, sorry excuse for a party the current day Republican Party is. I say this not to be gleeful or spiteful. In 2000, they had a great American run as candidate for their party's nomination for President. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), then 64 and in much better health and physical condition than he is now, was widely admired across the nation and looked to be a promising candidate for the Presidency. He deserved his party's nomination. Bush and Rove used their shameless tactics to dishonestly grab the nomination.

McCain's image did not improve in 2004 when he supported Bush for re-election. It began a long, sad, even pathetic downward spiral towards the fringe right-wing base of the Republican Party to capture the nomination eight years after he first sought it. He ran a poorly managed campaign, full of strategic blunders and the worst vice presidential selection of modern times. It was sad to see him sink to new depths and lows in the smearing of his opponent.

Last night, McCain began the long and necessary process of redeeming his image by offering the perhaps most eloquent, gracious, emotional speech of his career. It was masterful. He acknowledged the special significance of Obama's victory, pledged to work with him to solve the problems of our nation, and took full responsibility for the poor campaign he ran. It was a great, unifying moment.

Few moments in recent memory were as joyful or emotionally powerful as seeing the crowd of maybe 100,000 or 200,000-plus people in Grant Park erupt in cheers and applause when Obama was announced President-elect. Then there was Obama's typically superb victory speech, where he continued and joined in taking the high road with McCain. Absolutely marvelous.

It began as a tense night. Obama won a lot early on, but didn't flip a single red state. McCain was still in this thing. Then he wins Ohio, and then it was basically over: the West Coast, where I live, would likely go for Obama pushing him over the top. At 8:00 pm PT, it was official: Obama won.

Obama has earned this victory. He ran the most disciplined, organized, far-reaching campaign I've ever seen, though I'm young. Despite what Ralph Nader says, he's not in the pockets of the corporations. The average donation was like $106 or so, from millions of people who never before donated. The Democrats, who have widely expanded their majorities in the House and the Senate, need to immediately deliver on the promises they have failed at for several years. They have got to stop demonizing all Republicans. They must stop making excuses. They must embrace the will of the American people. They must deliver.

And my generation is pumped. We are hungry for a new leader, a potentially great leader. We have had three presidential elections for our generation, and Bush won two of them. We needed this election to be ours. We won it.

But we have to work for it. We can't expect government to do the work for us. We can't continue to simply blame our Congressmen, Senators and President when things go badly. We have to be on the phone calling or emailing them. We have to continue to volunteer, hold rallies, march, think, and be open to other points of view. We have to not treat others the way Republicans have treated us, with their Hannity-Limbaugh talking points and lies. We have to fight and win with the truth, but also be honest and hold the Democrats accountable for their failures (Bush didn't get all he got without support from them, after all).

That said, I have to take special delight in ridiculing the fat, ugly, mean, cruel, sad and pathetic excuse for a human being Karl Rove is. He, along with Dick Cheney and (to a sort of lesser extent) George W. Bush have destroyed their once-great party. People finally tired of their nonsense. Rove has failed. Let him be at FOX News forever, smearing the Democrats and liberals and progressives and independents (like me) who are long tired of his tactics. Ditto to soon-to-be-former Sen. Liddy Dole, an often despicable woman, who lost big time after smearing someone falsely for being "Godless." The GOP as we know it is deservedly in shambles.

No longer can they tell us that we "blame America first." No longer can they tell the world which parts of the nation, rural or urban, are "more American" than the rest. Those days are ending. They have lost that argument -- finally, and long overdue. We have to be better than they have been to us.

Before the night began, I had no clue if Obama would actually win. It was almost too hard to fathom seeing him win. McCain is a beloved figure in American politics and ran a vigorous race until the very end. I pledged to try and support him as best as possible, and put my Bush-hating aside, if he won.

But he didn't. The right candidate was selected. History was made. A new page has turned. The mother of all elections has come to a close.

And a defining moment for my generation has begun.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

It Looks Good Now, But.... The Case for Showing Up in the Bluest of Blue States

Think back to 2000.

Vice President Al Gore, Jr., a Democrat, and George W. Bush, the Republican Governor of Texas and son of an admired former Vice President and one-term President, were engaged in one of the nation's closest and most divisive elections. The race came down to one state, Florida.

Weeks later, Bush prevailed after a series of controversial court decisions that ultimately stopped a recount. Gore, who fought hard, lost the electoral college but won the popular vote tally by more than half a million votes.

Think forward to 2008.

Things now look very, very good for Sen. Barack Obama. It's been a tough, long -- make that very long -- campaign. It's gotten ugly, with accusations against the patriotism, honesty and integrity of the candidates.

But people can't be too confident, not after 2000 or 2004. Things can and change dramatically at any given moment, even up to days before the majority of the votes are cast.

You can't count John McCain out at all, particularly given his feisty knack for one comeback story after the other, personally, professionally and politically. The guy's a machine, not always well-oiled, but able to carry on and survive the final cut.

Voter turnout is notoriously difficult for Democrats, liberals and independents to get wrap their fingers around. The sheer act of putting down the Xbox controller, setting your alarm, waking up and heading to the polls is too great a challenge for many Americans. Coupled with routine Democratic overconfidence, this could create a nightmare scenario.

Here's why it's important to turn out in the blue states. Yes, not just the light-blue states like New Mexico or Colorado, but in the hard, hard blue states like California and New York. People telling themselves that they won't vote because "my state will go for Obama anyway" are to be ridiculed and scorned --- after you change their opinion and haul their ass off to the voting booth.

If Al Gore had netted an extra five, ten, fifteen million votes in the popular vote, the GOP wouldn't have had a mandate and it might have been tougher for them to "win" Florida. Gore would have been able to powerfully make his case for the recount to carry on in full, with tens of millions behind him in support.

Further, strong voter turnout and a major victory in the popular vote sends a message. It creates a mandate to help shape policy and direction. It helps promote (dare I say this annoying word) "change."

So, tell people to vote. In the Blue States. In large numbers and small. Carpool. Drive people to the polls. Drive many people the polls over and over. Skip work. Stay home. Call in sick.

Don't mess this one up.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Why Barack Obama Will Win the 2008 Election (A Scenario - Part II)

I did this weeks back, and now it's time to do it again: this is a scenario, not necessarily a prediction. Political campaigns change by the day, so anything can happen, and no lead in the polls is permanent.

But let's say it bluntly: Barack Obama will decisively win the 2008 election for President of the United States. It might be, as today's polls predict, a landslide.

Here's why.

It's the economy, stupid. What a cliched line. But it's true. The economy is as bad as it's been in decades. It's serious news. McCain's response was erratic, childish, a totally obvious stunt: he "suspended" his campaign, went to Washington, got nothing accomplished.

He voted FOR the $700 billion "bailout package" (which I am opposed to, and which Obama also supports). The problem: this was the perfect chance, which McCain blundered, to vote AGAINST a bill which has BILLIONS of ridiculous, pork barrel projects attached to it. McCain could have THEN said HE had the real solution, not these idiots in our Congress. This might be the most critical double-whopper of his candidacy, and he totally, completely, utterly belw it.

Obama has bounced back. John McCain destroyed Obama's big Convention speech almost as soon as Obama gave it when he introduced Gov. Sarah Palin (R-Mooseville, USA) as his running mate. The focus was on McCain and his "maverick" sensibilities, and they absolutely rallied their base. But since then, a litany of bad news has hit McCain, his running mate has been exposed and lampooned as a virtual buffoon, and McCain has resorted to desperate campaign tactics. They don't appear to be effective.

Maverick is the name of a character in a Tom Cruise movie, and McCain isn't Tom Cruise. That's another way of saying that the myth of a maverick is just that, a myth. Or at least a long forgotten memory. When Obama reminds folks that McCain has voted with Bush 90% of the time, McCain NEVER really has a response. He simply says that, in the past, he's stood against his party and Obama hasn't. But he doesn't really answer the question. Because he can't.

In the first chunk of Bush's presidency, McCain was more of a maverick, the guy who DID stand up to his party. That quickly changed, and it was cemented quite horrifically in 2004, when McCain bear-hugged Bush on a stage, gave the keynote speech at the 2004 Republican National Convention, and since then has gone out of his way to consistently support most of Bush's policies.

The simple conclusion: McCain was against Bush when it was popular to like him, and supported Bush when it was popular to dislike him (Bush's approval is now in the low to mid-20 percent range).

Obama is leading in virtually every state poll that matters. In Ohio, Florida, and Pennsylvania, Barack Obama is comfortably leading. But he's also leading in states President Bush won in 2004: Virginia, Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico and Iowa. He's also, incredibly, made Missouri and North Carolina, two other states Bush easily won, extremely competitive states.

Let's look again at one of those states, Virginia. No Democrat has ever won Virginia since 1964 in a Presidential race. Obama's lead is now growing significant, as much as 8 or 12 points in some polls. Virginia is this year's Ohio, I think.

McCain pulled out of Michigan. A few weeks ago, I read articles on how Michigan was the most critical battle ground state this year, perhaps this year's "Florida" or "Ohio." The polls were tied, things looked bad for Obama. Days ago, McCain pulled out of the most economically hard hit region in the nation. That's a blunt admission that his economic message isn't working, and the national and state polls confirm this.

Obama is kicking ass in the polls. The national polls are one thing, but the sate polls are another. In every measure, Obama is just dominating. The sad economy seems to be working to his advantage, not McCain's (though it's kind of pathetic that it takes a total disaster for a Democrat to win).

McCain is telegraphing his attacks. In 2004, Karl Rove never made a phone call to his opponent or a major newspaper and laid out, in precise detail, the exact attack strategy they'd employ. They just went on the attack, brilliantly and dishonestly and effectively. The geniuses in the McCain camp did interviews with major news outlets essentially giving away their attack strategy, which was the same one Hillary Clinton did during the primary season. So, not only does Obama know what attacks are coming up, he's fighting them off again. If they failed before, they can fail again, particularly if you have a second chance to correct a false impression.

Obama is dominating, part deux. Check out It shows this guy named Barack Obama with 320+ electoral votes, winning in every region but the South.

Let's get even more brutal: McCain is from Arizona, the Southwest. Right next to him are Nevada, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico. Utah is reliably red, red, red. Colorado and New Mexico are Obama states, and Nevada, while more of a toss-up, has shown several polls leaning Obama. If you can't win in your backyard handily, you've got problems. Big problems.

McCain has had one "Hail Mary" pass too many. His selection of Sarah Palin was a stunt, and it was confirmed, by McCain and his staff, that he had spoken with Palin only once before in person and then via phone before offering her the job. It first paid off, but has gone downhill. His latest stunt, suspending his campaign, was a joke and received the scorn it deserved. You can't keep pulling the rabbit out of the hat. Enough already.

Women (and some men) want to have sex with Barack Obama. Sure, John McCain was a total hottie in his 1960s pictures. But now he's 72, does not appear to be visibly in good health, and it shows. Campaigning is tough stuff, and nobody wants to see anything bad happen to McCain. But let's face it: studies have proven (I'll dig up evidence later) that people vote on appearance and sex appeal. I know plenty of women who think Barack is hot (not to mention his wife), and his attractive smile wins them over. I'm not endorsing it, but you can't deny its appeal. Similarly, Democrat John Kerry wasn't exactly "visually appealing" to most of the women I know, who called him weird-looking and boring. I'm not making this stuff up or endorsing it, I'm just commenting. And I know I'm right, and you do, too.

Americans are just sick, sick, sick of the Republican Party (even if the Democratic Party has major issues of its own). Forget the failure that is Nancy Pelosi or the stupidity that is Harry Reid. The Republican Party has been hit with a special brand of cancer, one in which it brought upon itself, and one which is going to cost them even more seats in the House and the Senate.

Take a look at the map below. This is where the election is now. Less than a month remains. Plenty of time for McCain to turn it around, but it's hard to see how he's going to do it. Only time will tell if my first or second scenario was correct, but I am starting to believe Obama was right all along.

There's something happening in America.

Friday, October 03, 2008

The Sarah Palin Wink Wink Comedy Variety Hour! (with Guest Star Joe Biden as the Smart Guy)

Ooohhhhh man!

I wish I had written a blog yesterday prior to the debate saying not to misunderestimate the Gov from Alaska, Sarah Palin. Let's face it: her disastrous-beyond-all-measure appearances in TV interviews with Charles "Charlie" Gibson and Katie Couric weren't a prologue for a debate.

In one-on-one interviews, you have to think on your feet.

In a debate, you've got a stage, an audience, lotsa enthusiasm, lotsa opportunity to connect with "Joe Sixpack."

What we saw last night, I believe, was The Sarah Palin Wink Wink Comedy Variety Hour!, with Joe Biden as the special guest star. He was the straight man to Sarah's comedienne. Against her, it was sort of a farce, with Sarah cracking jokes, making little asides meant to showcase her wit and not answering questions directly and instead spouting well-prepared, well-scripted one-liners that attempted to showcase her intellectual horsepower.

Let's make one thing clear: Sarah Palin did not do a bad job. She performed well on the level of performer. Biden, for the most part, was masterful. His command of the issues was presidential, his behavior was gentlemanly and he was able to do with Barack Obama was not: connect in an emotional way with the audience.

He and Palin were both very cordial to each other; I even smiled when Palin came out, microphone turned on, and enthusiastically asked Biden: "Can I call you Joe?!"

So why compare Palin's work here to a comedy hour? Because she was so obviously, so totally scripted. Because she misspoke on Sunni versus Shia (it's OK, so did her running mate). Because she dropped the "g" in words ending in "ing" at almost every turn. Because she called the general in Afghanistan McClellan (I even caught that one; it was clarified as Gen. David McKiernan later on). Because she continually accused Obama of voting the wrong way --- and comic foil Joe Biden pointed out, again and again, that McCain voted the same damn way. Because she said the word "maverick" so many times, if you played a drinking game, you'd be hospitalized for a toxic level of booze. Because she, like the president, cannot pronounce the word nuclear.

Because McCain's first choice for vice president, Sen. Joe Lieberman, couldn't admit on TV last night that Palin is less intelligent than Biden ("It's not an IQ test," he said).

But no matter: I doubt few viewers took her as seriously as she wanted to be. Gov. Palin hammed up the folksy charm to its zenith, and I couldn't stop laughing. She was expected to lose this with flying colors. When you're down that low, you have nowhere else to go but up, up, up!

There was more fun stuff, delivered in pretty condescending manner by Palin. Her "white flag of surrender" line was a clunky as it gets, and she pointed out that Biden kept referencing the Bush Administration and Sen. McCain's close ties and voting record supporting it, as if the past eight years don't matter and have nothing to do with the financial and political hole our country is stuck in. Great stuff, Sarah. Biden was mostly able to handle this with ease.

Were viewers moved? My brilliant friend suggests just the opposite on his marvelous blog. In fact, although Biden didn't score the knockout punch everyone predicted, he essentially won the debate by being better, smarter, more adult, more mature, more presidential and more command of the issues than Gov. Palin. He rocked the house in the second half.

That said, there were small disappointments. Biden could have more aggressively gone after her, but my hunch is that the campaign staff took him in a dark room, tied him to a chair and held a gun to his face forcing and demanding him not to mess up in the debate. You could tell he was on a very short leash and wasn't totally able to be the Biden we know and love until this moving moment where he choked up talking about his dearly departed first wife and daughter. Biden is the perfect mix of Washington experience and the "average guy" that Palin sucks up to. He was more polished and poised than I first gave credit.

Look. After 2004, it's impossible to predict how an election will turn out. But just before the debate yesterday, McCain announced something startling: that he is essentially writing off the state of Michigan, which just a couple of weeks ago was a hotly contested, game-changing swing state on the level of Florida in 2000 or Ohio in 2004. That means his campaign is having problems, especially when you factor in Obama's commanding leads in three states Kerry lost: Colorado, New Mexico and Iowa. Obama is also up in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, is narrowly up in Virginia -- this year's most crucial swing state -- and he's even made North Caro-frickin-lina a swing state. Nevada, too, is also looking like a very real possibility for an Obama victory.

At the end of the night, Sarah Palin helped herself, after weeks of members from her own party calling for her to resign. She was annoying, snarky and rude, and yet she probably didn't help McCain. But anyone with any rational sense of history or truth or facts knew who the smartest, most effective leader was at the end of the night: a guy named Joe.

I'd love to tune in again to The Sarah Palin Wink Wink Comedy Variety Hour! again some time, if only she'd agree to do interviews and news conferences.

Wink wink, governor. Can I call you Sarah?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Thumpin'

Did I watch the same debate that the pundits did?

Last night, in front of millions, I watched a junior Senator from Illinois pulverize, again and again, the senior Senator from Arizona, known for his toughness and tenacity.  On the vital issues of our time -- the economy and national security and foreign policy -- I though Barack Obama wiped the floor clean with John McCain, even if the scrappy McCain continually pulled himself back up and fought the good fight.

The pundits on TV hammered at Obama for losing many opportunities.  They criticized him for not talking about his personal story and for saying "I agree with you, John" way too many times.  I loved all of that.  I loved that McCain talks the talk about "bringing the parties together" and all that bipartisan hooey, while Obama actually did it, you know, like a grownup.

Yes, I am a partisan when it comes to this election.  I am a registered independent voter, but I am unabashedly pro-Obama.  I believe Sen. McCain acted like an ill-tempered, errant brat on national television last night, and the polls of viewers reflect major gains for Obama, who I believe decisively won the debate on almost all fronts.  He looked, appeared and behaved like a president, a statesman.

And I loved that Obama gave specific, forceful examples, fought back hard and reminded the world that McCain was among the many, many people who said this war would be quick and easy, something McCain denies to this day even though he said it on national television.

Don't believe me?  Here's a quote:

"I believe we can win an overwhelming victory in a very short period of time."

Here's a clip:

On that issue, I believe the pundits have it wrong.  Yes, McCain is correct that our next president won't lead on whether or not we go into Iraq, but where we go in the future.  But judgement is central, as Obama pointed out.  We should not have gone into Iraq to begin with, they had nothing to do with 9/11, and Al-Qaeda was not in Iraq until we got there.

Both men made good points throughout the debate, but Obama absolutely owned the facts and the issues.  McCain seemed to have two sets of talking points: one were old line items from his past debates and town halls, and the others were seemingly embellished war stories that, although moving, have virtually nothing to do with the issues of our time.

I find it amazing that the pundits are criticizing Obama for sticking to foreign policy points when this was a foreign policy debate.

For a superb, near minute-by-minute itemization of the debate, check out my friend's blog right here.

I think Obama won this debate hand's down, but I don't think McCain essentially lost it.  I think McCain won't gain voters and I think Obama might.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Oh, For Fuck's Sake

Suspending your campaign?  Really?  Are you that blatantly shameless?

More to come later.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

"Slacker Uprising" Review

MovieWeb - Movie Photos, Videos & More

Ahh, Michael Moore. I honestly have mixed feelings towards him. On the one hand, nobody can deny what a skilled, professional, inventive documentary filmmaker he is. He is a man of the people, a muckraking journalist who may be worth millions but hasn't lost sight of where he's from or who he is.

He cares about issues, understands them, is unabashedly liberal in his politics and is unafraid to challenge long as that authority remains on the other side of the aisle. Let's face it: Moore has his tactics and like a savvy PR person, he often leaves out details or information that might conflict with his central thesis. (In "Fahrenheit 9/11," for example, he took a letter to the editor and re-printed it for his film to make it look like a headline to a major article).

Overall, though, I think he hits the right notes and makes important points.

His newest film is something of an oddity, a film designed solely for partisan campaign purposes and released online and available for download, streaming, you name it. This is not entirely a bad idea and moves the medium forward in an interesting new way.

"Slacker Uprising" is less documentary and sort of like a concert film, revolving around Moore's ambitious 62-city tour he conducted in 2004 in a failed effort to unseat President Bush.

It's not a great film, and it's easy to see why he put it straight to the web, but it's not at all a failed effort and it ultimately works as a love paean to the youth of America -- the slackers -- who literally have the power to heavily influence and shape current and future elections.

The review, in short: A lot of the footage is interesting, if egotistical (how many standing ovations and cheering audiences do we need to see), there are some poignant star cameos by musicians (Eddie Vedder, Steve Earle and Joan Baez are given full screen time to sing), and there's something fundamentally fascinating about a filmmaker confronting his success and failures. Although Bush won re-election (interestingly, Moore doesn't examine or engage in voter fraud theories regarding the controversial Ohio victory eeked out by Bush) by the slimmest majority of any sitting incumbent president, Moore's attempt worked: 54 of the 62 cities he visited voted overwhelmingly for Kerry, and young people did it.

The film's best scenes revolve around these types of contrast. Aside from the sobering conclusion to Moore's (and others) efforts, there's a lot of good stuff here where people with opposing views are allowed to present their viewpoint. Some of it is rational, well-intentioned (if misguided). Some is pure hatred. The film does a good job of showing Moore's response, but also the various lawsuits filed to stop Moore from speaking and using "illegal tactics" (read: giving people clean underwear and ramen noodles -- literally -- to register for vote).

At times, I wanted more from "Slacker Uprising" as a legitimate documentary. It plays like a lot of cut footage or extras you'd find on a DVD, but that's the point: this is a movie about the young people, and there are some good short stories of young citizens who have lost a loved one or returned from the war, four years ago, and were already fed up with it.

"Slacker Uprising" won't go down as one of the great documentaries, but it does exactly what it sets out to do, moves quickly, is entertaining for most of its length, showcases the young voters of America fairly well, and provides a new way to market movies to the instant download generation. I'd call that progress.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

How to Successfully Debate a Typical Right-Winger

I had extra time on my hands, but check out how I "debated" some right-wingers on in a group I created devoted to debunking the myth behind the "experience" of Gov. Sarah Palin.

One right wing post was from a liar, and one was from a plagiarist.  

Ahh, Republicans.

Here it goes...I've deleted last names and schools to protect the...liars.  Note that I've left spelling errors in tact and have not edited their comments, just our names.  I also think I might be wrong in one of my assertions below (I believe I put 2007 for the listing of Obama's bills in the U.S. Senate when that might be the entirety of his bills, though I see conflicting information online).

Here's the short "debate" followed by how I was tipped off and how I researched.

Josh wrote
at 2:24pm on September 18th, 2008
Groups like these demonstrate how stupid obama supporters are, you really want to make the focus be about how unqaulified Palin & Obama both are? I would hope someone running for President would be more qualifed than a VP choice. But Palinbeing Govenor gives her more executive experince which is more valuable and she is only VP.

Paul (me!!!) wrote
at 9:35am yesterday
Way to go on the "stupid" -- awesome stuff. We're all so stupid, aren't we? Palin is giving a scripted stump speech and if anythign is stupid, it's the way evangelical right-wingers are now suddenly voting for McCain becuase of Palin's addition to the ticket. McCain is elderly and has had bouts with cancer, meaning there was always going to be more focus on his running mate. (On the reverse side, it's fair game to point out Biden's health issues from two decades ago as point of concern).

"Executive experience" at Palin's level is absolutley not more legitimate or significant than the decades of experience from ANYONE else running. Obama has had nearly 24 years of experience at various levels --- yes, that community organizing stuff, but also for 12 years as a Constitutional law professor, seven years as a State Senator and nearly 4 years in the US Senate. He's sponsored or co-sponsored nearly 150 bills and has more experience than people are leading on.

Blake (the plagiarist) wrote
at 7:40pm yesterday
Don't dismiss the fact that Sarah Palin is Commander of the Alaska National Guard-- consider this.
Alaska is the first line of defense in our missile interceptor defense system. The 49th Missile Defense Battalion of the Alaska National Guard is the unit that protects the entire nation from ballistic missile attacks. It's on permanent active duty, unlike other Guard units. 
As governor of Alaska , Palin is briefed on highly classified military issues, homeland security, and counterterrorism. Her exposure to classified material may rival even Biden's and certainly by far exceeds Obama's. She's also the commander in chief of the Alaska State Defense Force (ASDF), a federally recognized militia incorporated into Homeland Security's counterterrorism plans. 
Palin is privy to military and intelligence secrets that are vital to the entire country's defense. Given Alaska 's proximity to Russia , she may have security clearances we don't even know about. 

Paul (that's me again!) wrote
at 10:01am
Way to plagiarize, Blake. Your exact words have been posted all over the net. Were you to think on your own or do research, you'd realize:

The National Guard is FEDERALIZED. Palin & Co. certainly have their roles, but they don’t control and play no role in defense operations. They have nothing to do with training tactics or any other information, and like all Governors, she instead commands the Guard for domestic purposes (like a natural disaster, etc).

Conversely, Joe Biden has known for decades significant foreign leaders and diplomats vital to our interests. Obama has also met with these people and brings judgment, clarity and real world experience. 

For more on Blake's blatant plaigarism, please visit the below link, which shows you that the Right Wingers are copying and plagiarizing all over the place on forums.
Ian-Charles (the liar) wrote
at 7:44pm
The Number 2.....It's how many books Obama has written
The Number 0.....The number of legislation he has passed

Ian-Charles (the liar) wrote
at 7:48pm
It's all a number game...

A simple fact-check shows yet another lie from another presumed right-winger.

Since 2007:

The Number 130...# of legislation Obama has sponsored/co-sponsored
The Number 113...# of bills he personally sponsored
The Number 4…bills by sponsored by Obama that have been signed into law
The number 2…proposals by Obama that became incorporated into new bills signed into law
The Number 1...the # of lies Ian-Charles told on this forum
The Number 0...the # of minutes researched by Ian-Charles

It's all a number game...


(NOTE: Some sources say his work has lead to 15+ bills, but I'll let you all decide through the various sources).

Nice try, Ian :)

Ian-Charles (the liar, unable to think of a rebuttal) wrote
at 10:51pm
1- Paul, the load that should have been swallowed

So you're caught blatantly lying, I prove it and you come back with a perverted sex joke? What's up with that?

So between the two postings we have a liar and a plagiarist. Can't wait to see what's next
So basically, what we have here is a perfect example of the way many, if not most, Republicans and far-right people argue.  They attack the messenger, make shit up, repeat the shit that was made up that they heard that they didn't fact-check themselves, and then get defensive.  (For the uninitiated, when Ian-Charles speaks of the load I needed to swallow, he's referring to either a penis -- and a substantially large one -- or a big mouth full of male bodily fluid (I'll let you guess what kind).

At no time did either of them have even a cursory command of the issues or the facts.

And that's all you need to know when you debate these fools.  CHECK things out yourself.

You must be asking, "How did he figure out Blake was not being honest?"

Well, when Blake (the plagiarist who would make Ann Coulter proud) wrote his stuff, it sounded almost intelligent -- too intelligent, and too good to be true, and not something your average high school senior student would just write on his own in a message board.

So I took just one of the key sentences he wrote and did a search on it.  For the sake of accuracy, I put quotes around his sentence to preserve the wording.  And presto!  Google populated a raft of searches, other sites where this information had first originated and it shined a light on the fact that Right Wing Radicals are using these false talking points on other websites and forums.

The idea, no doubt, is to intimidate people with a load of information.  But that's the glory of the internet: you can research on your own and usually get the right stuff.

That's what I did with Ian-Charles, who recited Sarah Palin's debunked talking points about Obama writing two memoirs but no actual legislation.  Again, that's false and a lie.  I went to the Library of Congress' actual website with archived information and easily found the bills Obama sponsored or co-sponsored (note that Senators do this a lot, so it's not all that special).  Then, I found information on the bills he passed in the U.S. Senate alone.

Do you have any idea, dear readers (all four of you or so), how hard it is to pass a bill in the Senate?  Not easy, and Obama has about four of them, plus a couple more that originated from his proposals that were later adopted by other Senators.

Also, Sen. Obama is currently number eleven on the list of the 100 Senators and their ranking by effectiveness and influence.

Here's a fair way to read this: when a party is in power, people in that party rank near the top in effectiveness.  So naturally, Ted Kennedy is number one, Sen. Harry Reid (who I can't stand) follows.  McCain is number ten, which is appropriate for his tenure.  Obama is eleven, despite being a rookie newcomer to Washington and having run for President since January 2007.  That's fairly impressive stuff.

It's time to hold people accountable.  Democrats included (I'm a registered independent).  Enough is enough.

Monday, September 15, 2008

It's Tina Fey's world...we just live in it

Dear Tina Fey,

I love you!*


* but I love my fiance even more