Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Poverty in America

President Bush is trumpetting the fact that the poverty level fell three tenths of a percent last year. Actually, this is pretty good news. But check out this interesting article on poverty from Steven Pearlstein in the Washington Post:

Fuck the Poor

David Cross does this great riff about how much he hates batty little old ladies who leave millions of dollars to their pets. He considers them to be the most vile people on earth, and insists that their wills should always end with "p.s. Fuck the poor." (yes, I'm aware that Hunter Thompson first attributed that quote to Nixon, but that's another tale).

As if we needed confirmation that she was going to rot in Hell for all eternity, the lead story in both the tabloids this morning was that Leona Helmsley left 12 Million dollars to her disgusting little rat dog, while leaving nothing to her grandchildren. The post was priceless, they had a picture of the late Queen of Mean holding the walking mop with the headline "Rich Bitch." It's one of the best Post front pages ever. David Cross should be called in to pound the final nail in Leona Helmsley's coffin.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Dead Puppies

There are actually a couple of good things coming out of the Michael Vick fiasco. I've read a number of people piping up to say that they are appalled that so much media attention is being devoted to Michael Vick when other players have been found guilty of spousal abuse and even murder and it barely causes a ripple outside of Sportscenter. I've also heard a couple of people say that there is a bias in the media and among prosecutors toward athletes (don't believe me, go to the whiny, weaselly website And there has been a serious discussion of race revolving around this case, with some people noting that when white people are calling for a strong black man to be lynched (read some of the signs outside the courtroom) that race is obviously a factor in some of the reaction. Meanwhile Charles Barkley is angrily denouncing people who try to claim that dogfighting and other criminality is part of black culture (it's not, but there is some argument that it is part of the violence inherent in gangsta culture).

But the best thing to come out of all of the coverage is that it is shining a light on the actions of those fucking nazis over at PETA. Yesterday, after PETA urged the NFL to add "cruelty to animals in all its forms" to it's banned conduct policy, a number of papers ran an oped piece by Star Parker, director of the ultra-conservative Coalition for Urban Renewal and Education, titled "PETA: Sicker than Vick." Star pointed out that since PETA maintains that using animals for entertainment, food, or clothing is cruelty, that eating a burger, wearing a leather belt (or a leather helmet), or owning a cat would all get you banned from the NFL if they took PETA's request seriously. Parker noted that PETA has absolutely no problem with the exploitation of humans, just animals. Most damning of all, Parker takes PETA at their word when they refer people on their website to the writings of Peter Singer, author of "Animal Liberation" who, in other writings, has offered a justification for infanticide.

Now Parker is a raving lunatic reactionary, but makes some good points about PETA's hypocrisy, and her oped piece was carried in such rabid conservative rags as the New York Post. There was also a full page add in the supposedly liberal New York Times by a group called "" comparing the number of animals killed by Michael Vick (8) to the number killed by PETA (14,440 since 1998 at their headquarters shelter in Virginia). Another disclaimer is in order: is a website maintained by the Center for Consumer Freedom, a consumer rights group backed by the restaurant and tobacco industries.

That both of these complaints about the far-left PETA are coming from far-right organizations like CURE and CCF should make us stop to consider the source, but it doesn't mean that they are incorrect. PETA refers to itself as a bunch of "media sluts" and they are, but their antics also cast a well deserved spotlight on their activities. When you actually listen to the things PETA says they show themselves to be a bunch of hypocrites.

Final dislaimer: I eat meat, support hunting and fishing rights, Circuses and rodeos, so my own opinions are probably suspect as well.

Friday, August 24, 2007

One Qustion

In his recent speech to the Vetrans of Foreign Wars, presidnet Bush finally did what liberals have been doing for years, and compared Iraq to Viet Nam, but in one of the most bald-faced lies of his adminstration to date (and that's saying someting) he said that Viet Nam had been worth fighting, that withdrawl had led to millions of deaths in Cambodia, and that withdrawl from Iraq would do the same. The message was clear: as long as he is president America is not leaving Iraq.

I've got one question for Mr. Bush: if Viet Nam was so worth fighitng, why didn't you go and fight it yourself?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Tough Guys

In an effort to run away from their more moderate pasts, Mitt Romeny and Rudy Guiliani, two Republican politicians from predominantly Democratic areas, are trying to out demagogue each other on immigration. Both these guys deserve a smackdown at the polls.


My favorite headline of the day is "Ryan Seacrest gets to host the Emmys for some reasn."


When did Fred Thompson become the "Presumptive Republican Presidential Nominee?" Answer: when FOX new started writing about him. I guess we know where Murdoch has cast his lot.

That 15% really worries me.

There are 15% of the people in the United States who really worry me. They are not the same as the 20% of people who believe that God guided George Bush to invade Iraq and will back him no matter what. Those people are scary too, but them I can understand. No this is the 15% of people who show up on AOL as total loonies.

They popped up today in the case of two teenage boys who were on trial for felony adolescence. Cory Mashburn and Ryan Cornelison were on trial in Oregon for felony sexual harassment for having slapped the bottoms and poked at the breasts of some of their female classmates (right up front I will confess to having been guilty of the same behavior myself), actions which should have landed them in the principle’s office, but not an the registered sex offenders list for the rest of their lives. The charges were so ridiculous that even the alleged victims asked that they be dropped. Well, yesterday the judge fell victim to common sense and dismissed the charges. AOL, as it always does, ran a poll of readers to ask who agrees with the decision, and 15% of the respondents wanted to throw the little guttersnipes in jail.

AOL runs these polls all the time about everything. They ask things like “Was Live Schreiber out of line to push the photographer,” or “How long will Cameron and John last?” They are not scientific and tell us nothing but how the people how use the AOL service feel about things. The have about a plus or minus 50% chance of error. The only thing they consistently prove it that there is a 15% block of people out there who are total morons. (for the record 15% of the people think Cameron and John will last more than 6 months, and slightly over 15% -- 19% actually --think Live Schreiber was out of line for shoving a paparazzi: I can only imaging that the extra 4% are photographers. Morons).

It was the Michael Vick survey yesterday that really got me thinking about that 15%. In that case, 15% of the people responding to the poll believed that Michael Vick was being unfairly prosecuted. Fifteen percent!!! This is a guy who has admitted to running a dog fighting ring, to gambling on dog fights, and to killing underperforming dogs by hanging, shooting, drowning, or electrocution. His crimes are abominable. Everybody who reads this site knows that I hate PETA, that I eat meat and wear fur, that I support hunting, that I support coursing, that I support bull fighting, and that I think most animal rights activists are Nazis. I'm also on record as saying that celebrity justice is almost impossible to obtain, and that I thin Kobe Bryant, Michael Jackson, the Duke Lacrosse team were railroaded like Fatty Arbuckle. Yet even I think Michael Vick should go to jail. Anybody with a brain can see that Vick broke the law in a horrible, cruel, vicious manner and deserves to be called to task. So what am I to make of the 15% who are still behind Michael Vick? Besotted Falcons fans? People who breed fighting dogs themselves? Cats with keyboards? How about just acknowledging that 15% of the people out there on the internet are a bunch of absolute idiots?

Monday, August 20, 2007

The Bronx is Burning

I’ve been watching The Bronx is Burning lately. Ok. I watched the first episode. It looks great. It’s got a great cast. Oliver Plat as Steinbrenner and John Turturo as Billy Martin are perfect. It is about the Bronx in 1977—not just the Yankees World Championship season, but everything that was happening in that, one of the weirdest and worst years in New York. It focuses everything, especially the Son of Sam killings, through the lens of the Yankees. Thing is, all of that ground was covered much better in Spike Lee’s Summer of Sam.

As I think I blogged at the time, that summer was a big deal to me. Reggie Jackson, my favorite baseball player (well, him and Willie Macovey) had just moved to the Yankees. I’d abandoned the As when Charlie O broke them up, and suddenly found myself a Yankees fan. I figured I would root for a team any more. If my favorite pitcher and my favorite hitter wee both on the Yankees I’d root for them. I only watched baseball in October because that’s when the Yankees could be seen on the West Coast.

That summer—the pennant race, the Son of Sam, the blackout, especially the son of Sam—played strongly in California. We were fascinated and terrified by what was going on in New York. That two big media projects have been launched about I in the last few years shows how iconic that summer was for the entire nation.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Shoot Em Up

So there's this new video game out, released by Hezbolah, in which you get points for shooting down Israeli helicopters and killing Israeli soldiers. The game was released to celebrate the anniversary of the Israeli Hezbolah war last year. It was all over the news networks today and the reaction was one of shock and outrage. They wanted to know if the Israeli government had an statement to make, and what the Lebanese government had to say about it. I think it's ridiculous.

The thing I think is ridiculous about it is that when Arnold Schwarzenegger makes a movie in which a bunch of Arab terrorists hijack a soviet warhead and plant it in downtown Miami and he goes around killing lots and lots of them they are not outraged. That's just drama (a drama which George Bush Sr. once recommended for its positive family values--even though Schwarzenegger spends 15 years lying to his wife, turns her into a prostitute, and has the romantic climax of the film in front of a mushroom cloud)(for the record, I loved True Lies). I've heard the people complain about the violence in video games, but this isn't the complaint about the new Hezbolah game. The complaint is that it teaches kids to kill Israelis. Well, we've been teaching our kids for years to kill Iraqis, Viet Namese, Russians, Iranians, Mexicans, and zombie vampire Nazis, and while I don't expect to hear complaints about the sensitivities of zombie vampire Nazis, the other folks might have a beef. We teach our children to kill Arabs in video games and nobody bats an eye. Hezbolah teaches Palestinian children to kill Israelis in a video game and it's a scandal worthy of international news coverage. Pardon me while I wretch. Shut up and cover some real news for Christ's sake!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

All Out of Coconuts

Well, Merv Griffen died today, and why should we care? After all: he wasn't Diddy or even Donald Trump. He was a crooner, for God's sake, who was best known as a talk show host. What's the big deal?

Well, for one thing, he is an example of how, if you are willing to get into the business side of entertainment--where the real money is--you can parley a modicum of notoriety into a powerful career. Griffen was as much a tycoon as Hearst or Murdoch, and that's an accomplishment for a guy who started his career as the on-air vocalist at KFRC in San Francisco in the 40s for $100 a week. All successful entertainers start out small, but it was where Griffen went that was amazing. After a singing career he became a talk show host. Then he invented two of the most successful shows on television, Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune. When he sold the rights to these for $250 million plus a cut of the profits, he invested in real estate, bought the Beverly Hilton, and then wrested control of Resorts International from Trump. I was at the Breeder's Cup in 2005 when his horse Steviewonderboy won the juvenile. He played the crowd like the pro he was. He was great.

Here's what I learned from Merv Griffen: the rich don't technically make that much money. When People profiled him back in the 80s as a media tycoon, he noted that while he lived in a big house and had nice cars and a limo with a driver, that his salary was only $600 a week, which was his spending money. I made almost that much in 1998. It was an eye opener on how money really works.

I always admired Merv Griffen. He'll be missed. One day we'll probably be talking about Diddy and Jay Z in the same way.