Sunday, December 21, 2014

Mike Kelly, Elitist Teabagger From Pennsylvania-- A Lump Of Coal


Mike Kelly?

PA-03, the northwest corner of Pennsylvania (Erie, Meadville, New Castle, down to Pittsburgh's northern suburbs) has traditionally been a swing district. When weak, worthless anti-Choice Blue Dog, Kathy Dahlkemper, beat Phil English in 2008. the PVI was R+2. Dahlkemper beat him 52-48% after running up a 14 point lead in mammoth Erie County while Obama was pummelling McCain there 57-41%. The Republican state legislature immediately redistricted, primarily by taking half of Erie County out of the district and tossing it in the deep red GOP wasteland next door (PA-05), where it's voice will be completely diluted and made meaningless. In 2010 Mike Kelly too out the hapless Dahlkemper out 111,909 (55.7%) to 88,924 (44.3%) in a set of circumstances that included disillusionment from base Democratic voters with Dahlkemper's short, ugly conservative record. The district went from an R+2 to an R+8, nice and safe for a corrupt Chamber of Commerce/Wall Street/Big Oil shill and religious crackpot like Mike Kelly.

Kelly was born rich and he's one of Congress' wealthy and most self-entitled elitist multi-millionaires. He took over the family business of selling cheap Korea cars to Americans and has been relentlessly pushing unfair trade deals with Korea that would benefit his own investments, while devastating his own constituents. But his dad's car dealership and his deals with the Koreans aren't the only things that made Kelly so rich. He married an heir to the Phillips Petroleum fortune. Do you think the millions of dollars in natural gas and oil stocks his wife owns has influenced Kelly's approach to his job in Congress? The guy who didn't talk about his Kia and Hyundai dealerships when he was lobbying for the South Korea Free Trade Agreement, has been as dedicated to Big Oil's toxic agenda as any Texas or Oklahoma crooked congressman. Predictably, Kelly is one of the least green Members of Congress
Some people really hate the Chevy Volt, though we suspect few people hate it as much as Chevrolet-Cadillac dealership owner, and freshman Republican Congressman Mike Kelly. After repeatedly going on record declaring that there is “no market” for the Chevy Volt, on the eve of December 30th, the oil-rich Kelly introduced legislation to repeal the $7,500 tax credit for electric vehicles.

Kelly, who inherited his father’s car dealership in 1995, and married the heiress of the Phillips-Conoco oil company, has introduced legislation repealing the $7,500 tax credit, declaring it wasteful spending. This, despite voting to keep much-more generous subsidies and tax credits for hugely profitable oil companies. Kelly’s reasoning? “We want companies to be profitable.” Opps, looks like he let a little too much truth slip out there!

Then again why would Kelly, who has over $6 million in oil-related assets, want to end these generous subsidies for companies that make him money? How this is not a clear conflict of interest, I do not know, but even Kelly’s own constituents already seem fed up with him, as this video from a July town hall session shows.

In the video above, Kelly talks about poverty and how factories have gone under, yet he seems to have no problem bashing the very people who make the cars he sells. Kelly also tries to deflect the question with a question about pensions and portfolios, before going off on a spiel regarding rich vs. poor, have vs. have-nots, and rather than talk about oil companies he starts talking about GE not paying taxes, and at no point does he answer the actual question.

For a guy who inherited a car dealership, and married an oil heiress, Rep. Mike Kelly certainly has a lot of whining to do about the tax code.

So Saturday, when Boehner let him give the GOP weekly response to President Obama, shouldn't have surprised anyone. Like the horrid Strooge he is, he offered President Obama-- and presumably the American people who elected him twice-- a lump of coal for Christmas. That's white happens when overly rich, white elites get their dander up about a Black person in the White House trying to help ordinary working families. A raging, hysterical enemy of the EPA, Kelly has done all he could to try to gut that agency and he never ceases pushing last century's carbon-based energy sources, which plays conveniently into increasing his own net worth. He is apoplectic that the EPA released new climate regulations on carbon pollution from existing power plants, rules that require force dirty plants cut carbon dioxide emission 30% by 2030 from 2005 levels. He can't wait to vote for the Keystone XL Pipeline again next year.

This cycle, the DCCC didn't contest Kelly's reelection and he beat Democrat Dan La Vallee, 112,406 (60.5%) to 73,240 (39.5%). With no help from the DCCC, LaVallee raised $408,296 to Kelly's $1,617,901. With Steve Israel sidelined, will Ben Ray Luján do something different?

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TV Watch: So this is what the dastardly N. Korean hackers were after -- Paul Reiser's cri du coeur about "Mad About You"


Why so pensive, Murray? Paul and Jamie Buchman (Paul Reiser and Helen Hunt) of Mad About You, with the greatest of all TV dogs, Murray. (I didn't say the smartest, just the greatest. Go get the mouse, Murray!)

"As you know, for seven years I put every ounce of my life-blood into Mad About You and remain enormously proud of what we all accomplished. I think it more than stands the test of time, and still shines. Traveling the country and hearing people's enthusiasm for the show only confirms for me its huge impact of its legacy, and I'd like to think that it's a proud part of Sony's success and legacy too."
-- Paul Reiser, in a hacked e-mail to Sony
Pictures Television President Steve Mosko

by Ken

Oh, quit your whining, Reiser! Mad About You was made, when, in the '90s? Have you looked at a calendar lately? Or a clock? As Tad Friend tells us in a piece on the brave new world of viral video in the December 15 New Yorker, "Hollywood and Vine," people today -- teens and tweens, especially -- can't be bothered chaining themselves to some lame hour or even half-hour programs programmed by some lame old-style TV fogeys.

No, no less a personage than DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg, 63, whose company last year bought AwesomenessTV ("a company that manages YouTube stars, for thirty-three million dollars," and "a wave of old-media investment followed") assures us: "Within five years, YouTube will be the biggest media platform of any, by far, in the entire world." But even that, we learn soon enough from Tad that "YouTube’s primacy as the place teen-agers go after school is already being challenged, especially by Vine, an app of looping six-second videos that launched last year." (A founder of Vine, Rus Yusupov, explains that part of his group's original thinking was: "Nobody's going to complain that you wasted six seconds of your time.")

The six-second length apparently suits the Youth of Today, and while it might have hamstrung, say, old Will Shakespeare, Tad introduces us to one of the shining lights of Vine, Andrew Bachelor, known as "Bach" (pronounced "Batch," I assume, as in "Bach-elor"), or "KingBach," who "knew since third grade I wanted to be Jim Carrey." He seems to think making mindless six-second videos is either it or the path to it. ("He'd tried YouTube, but it required a modicum of technical expertise, as well as sincerity and a crusading mind-set." Screw that!) I'm guessing that hardly anyone would be more surprised than Jim Carrey.

So I hate to rain on Reiser's parade, all the more since this memo was unearthed in the stash of Sony e-mails hacked by those dastardly North Koreans, by Gawker's Sam Biddle, who calls it "one of the most depressing emails you'll ever read" -- which sounds more touching if we stop here than if we continue with his "from a man wondering why more people can't buy his 90s sitcom." (Is it my imagination that this tends to make the guy sound like some pathetic old self-regarder?)

In the e-mail, Paul tells his old pal Steve,
Not sure if you even know about this, but I had been trying for the longest time to try and get some clarity as to why Mad About You was not available in its entirety. (Seasons 6 and 7 were never released on dvd at all. iTunes offers only season 3, and seasons that had been made available were now very difficult to find.)

I had not even known any of this till I started performing on the road again over the last two years, and people kept asking me why they couldn't get this season or that season. (Apparently there are more than a few people out there who want these shows.)
He explains that he's learned that part of the problem is rights clearances on a couple of songs, and tells Steve that he and a couple of his people met with a group of Sony people to see what could be done.
As I explained to the group yesterday, my motivation here is not financial (though if we could relaunch interest in the show, that would surely be nice for everyone involved.) The truth is, I just wanted to rectify the crazy-making situation in which we now find ourselves stuck.

As you know, for seven years I put every ounce of my life-blood into Mad About You and remain enormously proud of what we all accomplished. I think it more than stands the test of time, and still shines. Traveling the country and hearing people's enthusiasm for the show only confirms for me its huge impact of its legacy, and I'd like to think that it's a proud part of Sony's success and legacy too.

So, while I don't underestimate the obstacles we need to clear to make this happen, I remain confident that between everyone's talent, ingenuity and good will, we can get the show out there into the hands and libraries of the people that would like to enjoy (and own) it for themselves.

It would be heartbreaking to say the least if all that hard work and quality television languished for posterity on the shelves -- all because we couldn't get the clearance rights to a couple of songs.


Who cares about "hard work" or "quality television"? Come on, I've watched every single episode to date of the nearing-completion season of The Comeback. It's a pretty lousy show, but one that nevertheless somehow has kept me watching, as it has spun its second tale of crass people ranging from paycheck slackers through out-and-out psychopaths coming together to produce a god-awful show, this time for HBO. That's where it's really at, isn't it?

Actually, I'm very afraid that that's more where it's at than any of us might like to think, which I guess is what kept me watching the damned show. That and a morbid curiosity to see just how thoroughly humiliated Valerie could be.

As it happens, I happen to love Mad About You, and recently rewatched the whole of Season 1, via the really lousy DVDs finally grudgingly issued -- on two instead of three discs, thus ensuring that the technical quality would be mediocre. That along with the high price and the absence of any DVD extras (obviously Sony wasn't going to spend an extra dime on the damned thing) ensured that even people who wanted to buy the show would hesitate, and amazingly, sales of Season 1 were too poor to warrant further releases. When Seasons 2 through 5 were finally issued, in technically far better form though still without any extras, as Paul note they were difficult to impossible to come by.

I remembered Season 1 as being really special, and here to tell you that it isn't "as good as" I remembered; it's better, way better. Even on the cruddy crammed Sony DVDs, it's magical. And there are special features on a bizarre "Best of" DVD anthology Sony eventually issued, where we get to see a little of how people as talented as Paul Reiser and Helen Hunt accomplished what they did. Why, it's as if a bunch of really, really talented people got together and poured all that talent, poured their bodies, hearts, and souls, into making quality television.

I don't mind as much as Paul that Seasons 6 and 7 still haven't been made available. My recollection is that things were already going downhill in Season 6, and by Season 7 had pretty much fallen apart. But those earlier seasons not only are hilarious, but in their shrewd look at a new marriage -- and the complications of living life as if it mattered give the viewer some reason to feel a little better about the human race and its prospects.

Unlike Tad Friend's New Yorker piece, which I'm sorry to say I haven't been able to finish yet. The portrait it paints of the once-and-future video consumer is so horrible that one tries to remember, recalling forecasts of the doom of the human race, what exactly the downside might be.


Crackpot Utopia: The Year in Republican Crazy, Part 3


• Using fear, loathing, and paranoia to sell stuff
• Arizona legalizes crack!
• Crazyspeak of the Year nominee No. 3: old reliable Bill O’Reilly

Noah worries, will 40 days and nights be enough?

Crackpot Utopia: A dream world as envisioned by republicans; a manifestation or expression of the deranged, warped alternate universe inhabited by republicans, at least in their minds. See also: Bachmannism, Boehneresque.

by Noah

1. Using fear, loathing, and paranoia to sell stuff

I've long been suspicious of drug companies flogging all sorts of medications on the teevee, specifically medications for ailments we never heard of as little as five years ago. So many of these ads can easily awaken the power of suggestion in any of us, sometimes to the point where any little pain in the head gets some folks worrying about brain tumors.

As for my own life, I know now that I probably had ADHD. I sat in class and my overactive daydreaming mind went places, wonderful places. The cure then was a teacher that could keep my attention. I learned how to focus, when I wanted to. Today, they would scare my parents and drug me. I turned out fine without the little pills.

Now the righties are doing the pharma companies one better when it comes to scaring people into buying things. Take the Info Wars online store. Check out their “Wake Up America Immune Support and Patriot Blend coffees! Better yet, maybe you need their Info Wars Fluoride Shield -- you know, remember that stuff that the commies were wanting to put in our water in the 1950s and 1960s? Well, the commies musta won, since it's now in our toothpaste. Still, it's not too late! You can buy that little Info Wars bottle and -- problem solved! Well, I'll give them credit for not running off 100 words of disclaimers like Big Pharma does.

But wait, there's more: You'll be needing your five-DVD set of the Book of Revelations [sadly, apparently no longer available -- Ed.!

Bad, government-induced times are a-comin'! Remember, the Info Wars people are the folks that told us that President Obama created Superstorm Sandy in order to get reelected!

And, no Doomsday Prepper's wardrobe is complete without the Info Wars "OBAMA IS A TYRANT" T-shirt!

Spread the word!

Best of all, though, may be the 40 Day/Night food supply! (We saw the "pail" it comes in at the top of this post; here's a glimpse of the organic yummies inside.)

Downright biblical! This is the 1950s bomb-shelter mentality all over again. However, when the crap hits the fan, is a mere "40 Day/Night Organic Preparedness Pail” really gonna save you? Better buy a truckload! Do it today! Tomorrow may be too late! Way too late! You may be screwed, screwed beyond all comprehension! Nothing will save your sorry ass! (Be warned, though, that the website now cautions: "Important Notice:  Due to extremely high demand caused by the recent Ebola incident, please allow an additional week for shipment.")

Damn, if the wackos only knew that the “40 Day/Night” motif in those old tales comes from the ancient Arabs. You know, like “40 Days and 40 Nights” -- or, more appropriately in this case, “Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves.”

2. Arizona legalizes crack!

Well, it certainly does appear that rather than legalize marijuana, the state of Arizona has made the smoking of crack A-OK! Something has to explain how the state ended up with a legislature that came up with the Arizona Religious Freedom Bill. This is a classic case of bigots saying, "Hey, what about my rights?"

Huh, there are people against the right to discriminate?

As if previous legislation designed to fill Arizona's privately owned jails with immigrants for profit wasn't bad enough, this new bill would allow business owners to refuse service to gay people. It seems so-called Christians in Arizona love this law.

In the end, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed the law. But the law, as passed by the state's republican House by a 33-27 vote and by the state's Senate by a vote of 17-13, is designed to make it OK, or rather encourage, people to refuse service to gay people at restaurants, or in fact any retail location or anywhere else in the state.

It's not just gays, though. The wording is loose enough that it can refer to anyone that republicans just don't take a shine to -- anyone who "looks different," if you know what I mean. Governor Brewer also vetoed a previous incarnation of the bill, so I wouldn't expect a mere gubernatorial veto to cause Arizona's republicans to give up on their crusade.

Let's also keep in mind those republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives that also support those African "kill the gays" laws. Ask yourself, is it only a matter of time before Arizona republicans, or all republicans everywhere, start acting out their darkest dreams under cover of such laws?

Republicans in other states, such as Idaho, Tennessee, Mississippi, and South Dakota, have proposed laws similar to Arizona's "right to refuse service" law. Even Ohio, under neo-fascist Gov. John Kasich, is now in the game. But what is setting Arizona apart is that they have actually passed their bill and sent it to their governor. Rush Limbaugh whined about Brewer being bullied by lefties to veto the bill. FOX, of course, considers any criticism of the bill as being part of their claimed War on Religion!

Under the law, had I gone into a store in Arizona to buy a jacket, the first thing I could have been asked is if I'm straight or gay or Christian and, if so, even what kind. The wording of the bill would have opened one hell of a Pandora's box.

Funny thing is, the jacket fits the same and costs the same regardless of the details of my personal or spiritual life. In future years I think we can expect some tinkering with these proposed republican laws to allow a retailer the option of selling the jacket to a gay person but at a higher price. They can call it the Arizona Tax on Being Gay Act. "Hey, we don't discriminate, it's just going to cost you a little more if you choose the gay lifestyle."

As the movement gains momentum, will there one day be statues of Lester Maddox in Arizona's public parks? How far will they go? Keep in mind that no less than U.S. House Speaker John Boehner hand-picked the man behind the “No Gays Allowed” bill, Arizona House Speaker Andy Tobin, to be on his list of prime U.S. House candidates! Think about that next time some nutter tells you Boehner isn’t an extremist.

Where does this kind of thing end? Will republicans soon demand that gay people wear lavender stars? Maybe they’ll even add special box cars to the ends of the trains. Step by step, republicans are revealing what they want for the future. It’s there for all to see, but so many, too many, just don’t want to see it. They've already made great gains in voter suppression. What will America look like by the time republicans are done with their “social engineering”?

All aboard for the crazy train!

3. Crazyspeak of the Year nominee No. 3:
Bill O'Reilly, the Joe McCarthy of punditry

President Obama is interviewed by Bill-O, a legend in his own mind.

It's hard to zero in on just one example of FOX's Archie Bunker showing off his crazy. O'Reilly is TV's most smugly pompous megalomaniac. Here he is at his defensive and most self-serving best (worst), referring to his childishly rude and pathetic "interview" of President Obama.
I'm going to predict that that interview I did is going to go down in journalistic history as what should be done. . . . It takes a certain skill to pose questions in a factual way and be persistent without being disrespectful.
Bill-O rightly took much criticism for his 10-minute foolishness, and saw the need, even more than a week later, to defend himself. He obviously has no idea what an interview is, since he sat there and rapid-fired question after question at the president without pausing to even wait for an answer, because, after all, what FOX viewer wants to hear what President Obama has to say about anything? He was trying to provoke the president, and the president was incredibly gracious, when half the country would not have blamed him for throwing a punch at Bobblehead Bill. But that's pretty much what Bill-O wanted. He was performing for his geriatric audience, who just want the President to "go back to Kenya."

That O'Liely feels he has to sneak in the word "factual" to describe his questions shows that even he knows they are anything but factual. To use the word "persistent" as a substitute for "belligerent" is to rewrite the thesaurus.

Despite his over-the-top delusions of grandeur and more, O'Reilly will go down in "journalistic history" as a smug, pompous, megalomaniacal "Joe McCarthy of punditry." Yeah, he dreams of a 40-foot-high statue of himself outside of Fox "News" headquarters after he's gone, a statue much bigger than the life-size statue of Roberto Clemente, a man who actually did something good with his life and died doing it, which stands outside of the Pittsburgh Pirates' ballpark.

I piss in your urn, Bill.

TOMORROW IN PART 4: A celebration of Michele Bachmann: Pray away the crazy?; What War on Women?; The Obama angle on Malaysian Flight 370

Crackpot Utopia: The Year in Republican Crazy

Part 1: Princess Liz Cheney -- 2014's Smoothie of the Year?; "Miss Beck regrets" -- Crazyspeak of the Year nominee No. 1, Glenn Beck; and the Crackpot Party reacts to President Obama's SOTU [Friday]

Part 2: Repugs wonder why normal people call them racists (featuring Crazyspeak of the Year nominee No. 2, the Rockin' Racist, Ted Nugent); Sean Hannity wants to self-deport; and the First Annual Mr. Burns Award [Saturday]

Part 3: Using fear, loathing, and paranoia to sell stuff; Arizona legalizes crack!; Crazyspeak of the Year nominee No. 3: Bill O’Reilly [today]

A Prayer to the Janitor of Lunacy

For listings and links, see Part 1 of this year's series.

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A cluster of explosive young talents explode in "On the Town"


For the 1960 recording, Betty and Adolph reprised their
1944 roles, anthropologist Claire de Loon and sailor Ozzie

Act I, "Carried Away"

Betty Comden, Claire; Adolph Green, Ozzie; 1960 studio cast recording, Leonard Bernstein, cond. Columbia-CBS-Sony

by Ken

On a daily basis we're assaulted by so much slop and slime that I worry about insufficient attention being paid when we're given worthwhile stuff. So it has been on my mind to call your attention, as I mentioned last night, to a really outstanding piece in the November issue of Vanity Fair called "Innocents on Broadway," in which Adam Green gives us a richly and beautifully detailed portrait of the early life and early career of his father, the great lyricist (and sometime actor) Adolph Green, which also includes similarly rich portraits of a band of remarkably talented people whose rising careers were intertwined with his -- notably his eventual writing partner of 60 years, Betty Comden; his best friend, Leonard Bernstein; and the amazing actress Judy Holiday.

"This year would have been my father’s 100th birthday," Adam G writes early on,
and it would have made him indecently proud to see it marked by productions of so many of the musicals that he and his partner, Betty Comden, wrote in their 60-year collaboration: a stage adaptation of their 1953 MGM movie, The Band Wagon, as part of the Encores! series at New York’s City Center; a live broadcast on NBC of their 1954 version of Peter Pan; the first Broadway revival of their 1978 screwball operetta, On the Twentieth Century. Most of all, though, he would have been thrilled to see the ebullient revival, also on Broadway, of On the Town, their 1944 musical, about the amorous exploits of three sailors on 24-hour shore leave in the big city, which introduced the phrase “New York, New York, a helluva town” into the American lexicon and announced the arrival of a new generation in the American musical theater.


Read more »


Will Illinois Democrats Blow The Race Against Sitting Duck Mark Kirk By Nominating Someone From The Republican Wing Of The Democratic Party?


Mark Kirk, who lies about military decorations he never got, wants to teach North Korea a lesson-- with a campaign fundraiser

In theory, Mark Kirk has one of the most vulnerable Republican-held seats coming up in 2016. Illinois has tended to elect Democrats to the U.S. Senate. Since Paul Douglas defeated GOP incumbent Charles Brooks in 1948, only one Republican, anti-war liberal Chuck Percy, held that seat, currently held by Dick Durbin, who won reelection last month 1,850,862 (53.1%) to 1,503,942 (43.1%).

The other Senate seat was won by the legendary Everett Dirksen in 1950 until he died in office on September 7, 1969. Republican Gov. Richard Ogilvie appointed Ralph Smith, also a Republican, to the seat 10 days after Dirksen died and scheduled a special election 2 months later. Adlai Stevenson crushed him 58% to 42% and held the seat until 1981 when he retired and the seat was won by conservative Democrat Alan Dixon who was successfully primaried in 1992 by Carol Moseley Braun after he joined the GOP in confirming right-wing sex predator Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court. Six years later Peter Fitzgerald became the first Republican in two decades to hold an Illinois Senate seat by beating Braun, although very narrowly and with only 50.35% of the vote. He was widely considered to have no chance at reelection and retired after one term, replaced by Barack Obama. When Obama left the seat to become president, grotesquely corrupt Democratic Governor Rod Blagojevich sold the seat to Roland Burris (January 12, 2009). Burris' short tenure was plagued with calls for him to resign, not just by Republicans but by Democrats like Governor Pat Quinn and U.S. Senator Dick Durbin. He was officially admonished by the Senate Ethics Committee and there was no chance he could run again-- he only raised $845 forces campaign and withdrew. Democrats replaced him with state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, who was steeped in the stench of corruption from his involvement with predatory banksters and political mobster Tony Rezko. Because of the corruption the mediocre Republican candidate, Mark Kirk, managed to beat him 1,778,698 (48.0%) to 1,719,478 (46.4%), a Green candidate polling 117,914 (3.2%), enough to deny Giannoulias and the transactional corrupt Machine Democrats the seat. And that's how we come to have Republican Mark Kirk in office now.

Kirk should be relatively easy to defeat-- but he won't be because Democrats are hurtling towards nominating an opponent from the thoroughly corrupt Republican wing of the Democratic Party, either reactionary Blue Dog Cheri Bustos, corporate shill and New Dem Bill Foster or conservative-leaning Tammy Duckworth. How bad are the 3 Democrats posturing about running against Kirk? Below are their Progressive Punch lifetime crucial vote scores; in way of comparison Jan Schakowsky's score is 96.59 and Danny Davis' is 93.00.
Duckworth- 65.20
Foster- 55.30
Bustos- 44.49
All three run Republican-lite campaigns and none are even remotely fit to represent Democratic Party values and vision in any kind of a campaign anywhere. Bustos has the single worst voting record of any Illinois Democratic congressmember, so expect her to be the DCCC's first choice. It would be pretty amazing-- and unexpected-- if DSCC chair Jon Tester tried recruiting Jan Schakowsky instead.

On the other hand, Kirk is really a vile, slithery creature and his desperate attempts to raise money off SONY's tragi-comedy with Kim Jong-un and The Interview is probably offending plenty of Illinois voters who can't be terribly thrilled with his record of accomplishing nothing on their behalf. He says Sony, which is after all, run from Tokyo, not from Washington or even Los Angeles, shouldn't have pulled the movie from theaters, forgetting, perhaps, that it was the theaters that said they wouldn't show the film. He's scrambling to be THE FIRST IN THE NATION to hold a "big fundraiser" for himself showing the movie to donors-- and to teach North Korea a lesson. He took to the twitter machine and did an intreview with WBEZ-FM (91.5) trying to turn the Korea thing into part of his reelection campaign.
Kirk, in the radio interview, said he wanted to show the North Koreans that "you cannot edit what we want to see and do in the United States under the First Amendment."

The senator's spokeswoman did not respond to Tribune requests for comment.

It was unclear how Kirk planned to get a copy of the film. There has been widespread speculation that pirated copies of the film ultimately will be available even if Sony does not release it.

Peter DiCola, an associate professor of law at Northwestern University, said typically film studios own the copyright to films and then grant licenses to theaters for public performances.

Ordinarily, a campaign event would constitute a public performance, DiCola said, but because Kirk has invoked the First Amendment, the lawmaker could argue that he doesn't need a license to show the film because of the fair-use doctrine.

The fair-use doctrine may allow for the dissemination of a copyrighted work without a license if the use is deemed to be in the public interest, DiCola said. "Fair use is meant to be the safety valve for free speech concerns," he said.

DiCola said he thought that in today's world of file sharing, the movie is likely to be leaked, especially since it has been publicly screened in Los Angeles.

"Somebody at Sony or someone at the (Los Angeles) theater is going to agree with the politics of making the movie available to the public," he said.

Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, suggested in a tweet Wednesday that Sony should distribute The Interview online globally for free and that viewers be asked for a voluntary $5 contribution to fight Ebola.

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Saturday, December 20, 2014

"New York, New York, it's a helluva town"


In June 1992, lyricists Betty Comden and Adolph Green narrated a famous London concert performance of On the Town at the Barbican Centre with the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas. (An audio recording made at the same time is still available, but there doesn't seem to be a DVD issue of the concert.) Here Comden and Green introduce the opening number, as our three sailors, let loose for a single day on the city, sing "New York, New York," with Thomas Hampson as Gabey, Kurt Ollman as Chip, and David Garrison as Ozzie.

"On the Town was a landmark, the first show by a bunch of bright upstarts -- [Leonard] Bernstein, [Betty] Comden and [Adolph] Green, and Jerome Robbins, all still in their 20s -- who would go on, together and apart, to help shape the cultural landscape of the 20th century."
-- Adam Green, in "Innocents on Broadway,"
in the November issue of Vanity Fair

by Ken

After a six-year stint at DeWitt Clinton High School in the Bronx, he headed out into the world with this inspiring send-off from a teacher who had seen him perform in the class show he had written and directed: "I hope you've got enough talent to make a living at that, because otherwise you're in big trouble."

We have no way of knowing how many people in similar circumstances we never hear more about, either because they just weren't good enough or, more poignantly, because they just never found a way to impress their talents on a big, uncaring world. In this case, though, "he" was Adolph Green, and not only he but a tight circle of his intimates were headed for great things, which came into focus for a number of them when On the Town opened on Broadway on December 28, 1944.

Green's son, Adam, has written a really wonderful piece for Vanity Fair about the history that culminated in that historic night, with both Adolph Green and Betty Comden, who had written the lyrics and who would go on to enjoy a 60-year partnership, in the cast (in roles they had sensibly written for themselves), and with music by Adoph's best friend, Leonard Bernstein. It's such a good story that I want to offer a closer glimpse of it tomorrow, but for tonight I thought we'd hear a musical preview.


including a number of members of the original cast, among them Betty and Adolph -- for a studio recording of On the Town with the composer conducting. I thought we'd hear the opening number from that classic recording.

Adolph Green and Leonard Bernstein at the recording session, with producer Goddard Lieberson in the background

BERNSTEIN, COMDEN, and GREEN: On the Town: Introduction (including "New York, New York")

John Reardon, Gabey; Cris Alexander, Chip; Adolph Green, Ozzie; 1960 studio cast recording, Leonard Bernstein, cond. Columbia-CBS-Sony

TOMORROW: "A cluster of explosive young talents explode in On the Town"


Will "Twerp" Stick To Marco Rubio Forever?



Marco Rubio was born in the U.S. Like many Americans, his parents were economic refugees from Cuba, looking for better opportunities for their family. Rubio has stopped, but he used to routinely lie and tell people they were political refugees fleeing Castro. Eventually someone pointed out that when they arrived, the political refugees were fleeing the U.S.-backed right-wing dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista, whose fascist regime wasn't toppled by Castro until 1959, years after the Rubios were settled in America.

Since President Obama's announcement of a very popular new path forward between the U.S. and Cuba, Rubio has tried to make himself-- even more than Ted Cruz-- the spokesperson of old-line opposition. He isn't persuading anyone that he has any worthwhile ideas about U.S.-Cuba relations. And he's coming across to a public that has largely barely heard of him as an hysterical, unhinged, nasty-minded twerp. When Rand Paul announced that he supports Obama's policy on Cuba, Rubio came unglued.
Rubio isn’t mincing words when it comes to his Republican colleague Sen. Rand Paul’s support for the U.S.’s new Cuba policy.

"Like many people who have been opining, he has no idea what he’s talking about," Rubio said Thursday on Fox News’ The Kelly Report.

..."The 50-year embargo just hasn’t worked, if the goal was regime change, it sure doesn’t seem to be working," Paul, Kentucky’s junior senator, said during an interview this week. "Probably, it punishes the people more than the regime because the regime can blame the embargo for hardship."

But Rubio pushed back on Paul’s claim, saying, "I would expect that people would understand that if they just took a moment to analyze that, they would realize that the embargo is not what’s hurting the Cuban people, it’s the lack of freedom and the lack of competent leaders."
Polling shows that a broad spectrum of Americans want to move forward on Cuba-- even among Cuban-Americans in Florida!
A Florida International University poll of Cuban-Americans from June found that a strong majority-- 68 percent-- favors reestablishing diplomatic relations with the island country, and 69 percent favor lifting travel restrictions.

The same poll from 2004 found that only 39 percent of Cuban-Americans favored reestablishing diplomatic ties with Cuba, with 52 percent in opposition. In 1993, the same poll found that 80 percent favored the policy of no diplomatic ties with Cuba.

In addition, 52 percent of Cuban-Americans now oppose the U.S. trade embargo, with 71 percent saying it hasn’t worked. The same poll from 2004 found that strong majority-- 59 percent-- in favor of continuing the trade restrictions. In 1993, 85 percent favored tightening the embargo.

The trends among Cuban-Americans in Florida mirror how voters nationally view U.S. policy toward Cuba.
It certainly helps with U.S. foreign relations in the rest of Latin America, where Obama's move is being widely cheered. Dilma Rousseff, President of Brazil: "We never thought we would see this moment... a moment which marks a change in civilization." Even Venezuela's President Nicolás Maduro was impressed: "We have to recognize the gesture of President Barack Obama, a brave gesture and historically necessary, perhaps the most important step of his presidency."

Rubio, meanwhile, comes across as angry and wedded to outdated, failed policies and special interests that conflict with American national interests. "I don’t care," he hissed, "if the polls say that 99 percent of people believe we should normalize relations in Cuba." Rubio has turned himself into a national joke, representing the perspective primarily of elderly-- pretty much much over retirement age-- right-wing Cubans and of the U.S. sugar producers, who fear open markets, who have helped finance his career.

Of course, Rubio isn't alone here. Many South Florida Republican politicians have used the Cuba issue as the basis for their entire careers and, like Rubio, have been financed by the Fanjul brothers, the sugar barons who know their empire will collapse if less expensive Cuban sugar is sold in the U.S. (This is also why crooked Democrats like Fanjul-pawn Debbie Wasserman Schultz is, once again, standing with the GOP against progress. Her Florida House colleagues from across the aisle are coming across as crazy and, frankly, unAmerican, as Rubio. Foolishly, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Mario Diaz-Balart are sticking with Rubio.
Ros-Lehtinen and Diaz-Balart said the Republican Congress would seek to maintain economic sanctions.

“There are a lot of questions about the legality of what he says,” Ros-Lehtinen said of Obama’s action.

She added that she finds it “ironic” that the Cuban revolution was premised on saving the island from the rich. She argued that corporations are poised to benefit most from the opening of economic activity with the U.S.

“We are saying to the Yankee imperialist pigs, come and own a piece of Cuba, we are for sale, and those who have money, come on over because it’s a fire sale,” Ros-Lehtinen said.

...Diaz-Balart accused the Obama administration, including former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, of lying about their negotiations with Cuba.

“Yesterday they did exactly what they claimed they would never do,” re-establish ties without significant concessions toward democracy including a free press, Diaz-Balart said.

“It shows a deep level of cynicism to then claim he is doing this to help the Cuban people,” he said.
Diaz-Balart has a relatively safe seat. The only thing safe about Ros-Lehtinen's is the protection she's gotten from Wasserman Schultz and Steve Israel. She is one of the most vulnerable Republicans in the House, sitting in district where Obama beat Romney 130,020 (53%) to 114,096 (47%). It was the bluest district in the country Steve Israel and his corrupt DCCC refused to contest in 2014. With Wasserman Schultz having lost political clout within the Democratic Party, there's no reason to think she can continue preventing the DCCC from taking out Ros-Lehtinen. Now would be a great time to start recruiting. I wonder if Annette Taddeo would be willing to try again.

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Crackpot Utopia: The Year in Republican Crazy, Part 2


• Repugs wonder why normal people call them racists
• Sean Hannity wants to self-deport
• And the First Annual Mr. Burns Award

Crazyspeak of the Year nominee No. 2 --
the Rockin' Racist, Ted Nugent

Crackpot Utopia: A dream world as envisioned by republicans; a manifestation or expression of the deranged, warped alternate universe inhabited by republicans, at least in their minds. See also: Bachmannism, Boehneresque.

by Noah

1. And Republicans claim to wonder why normal people call them racists (featuring Crazyspeak of the Year nominee No. 2: the Rockin' Racist, Ted Nugent)

I always tell them that the best way to stop being thought a racist is to stop saying and doing racist things.

As promised in Part 1, here's the Rockin' Racist, Ted Nugent, vying for his Republican Crazyspeak of the Year Award. Ted is a very commercially successful recording artist, and, like most successful recording artists, he has a way of expressing the thoughts of his constituency; in this case, his fellow republicans. There's a reason why he's a star on FOX. Even Anderson Cooper, on FOX-Lite CNN, enjoys having him on as a guest from time to time.
I have obviously failed to galvanize and prod, if not shame, enough Americans to be ever vigilant not to let a Chicago communist-raised, communist-educated, communist-nurtured subhuman mongrel like the ACORN community-organizer gangster Barack Hussein Obama to weasel his way into the top office of authority in the United States of America.
Nugent was just warming up.
A lotta people call that inflammatory speech. Well, I would call it inflammatory speech when it's your job to protect Americans and you actually look into the television camera saying what difference does it make that I failed in my job to provide security and we have four dead Americans. What difference does that make? Not to a chimpanzee or, a, to Hillary Clinton. I guess it doesn't matter.
Yep. "Subhuman," "mongrel," "chimpanzee." When republicans talk like this about our first African-American president, they are still, no doubt, seething with frustration that they can't just scream out the N-word from the rooftops. A couple of years ago I posted a list of 30 or so words that republicans use because they can't scream the N-word. I hadn't thought of "subhuman mongrel" or "chimpanzee." Maybe those were just too old-fashioned to make the list.

I also missed out on "thug," but so did Ted. "Thug" is the new N-word. It's become the latest buzzword on FOX. If viewers were watching FOX and playing a drinking game where one took a shot of booze every time some cretin on FOX spat out the word "thug," they'd be dead of alcohol poisoning in no time. Note to repugs: Please play the drinking game!

The Rockin' Racist even managed to mention ACORN and the other new FOX buzzword of the year, "Benghazi." Never mind that the real Benghazi cover-up is the fact that it was the Republican Congress that stripped away the money ($79 million) for our embassy security, thus enabling the murder of those four Americans in Benghazi. It's all about the misdirection game.

One wonders where Nugent and his fellow FOX vermin were when 6o Americans died in 12 similar attacks under Bush's watch. Not much calling for hearings then, eh? Gee, Ted. You also forgot "secret Muslim."

Yeah, we've all met republicans that claim to not be racists, that they know some African-Americans, etc. I've heard people say that Sean Hannity isn't a racist because he sometimes has black people on his show. But that's like the KKK saying it isn't racist because they once booked the great Solomon Burke to provide the entertainment at one of their famous twilight picnics. That, however, was accidental. They had thought he was white, but they had him sing anyway, as all the guests arrived in full KKK garb. How nice of them. They even paid him. See, no racism!

When they were somehow hired by the KKK, Solomon Burke and his band played "Down in the Valley" (as they do here at Norway's Notodden Blues Festival in 2005) for "at least 45 minutes," wondering, "Are we gonna get out of here alive?"

2. Sean Hannity wants to self-deport

From The Daily Show with Jon Stewart

Jon and the gang pulled out all the stops to implore Sean H to "Stay, Mr. Hannity, Stay."

Almost a year ago now, Sean Hannity went on a semi-literate rant about how he didn't like New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. He finished up by threatening to self-deport to Florida or Texas.

Hey, I don't like Andrew Cuomo either. He's cut from the Conservadem cloth and has tried his best to ruin New York's famous drinking water by letting his Big Gas buddies frack all over the state. Eventually, he got the message, after New Yorkers managed to tell him where he can stick the idea, no matter how much was being paid in "campaign contributions" to push it.

Hannity's problem with Cuomo? He doesn't like paying state taxes. Like any republican, he'd rather be a freeloader. Hence, the proposed move to the "taker" state of his choice. Go ahead, make our day, you whining, crap-stirring buffoon! In Texas they don't have state taxes, but what they do have is an ever-growing mountainous shortfall that's so serious, they are literally letting many of their paved roads revert to dirt roads.

I suggest Sean choose Florida. May he be gobbled up by a sinkhole or one of the state's huge constrictor snakes. If he chooses Texas, someone should get him high, dress him up as a stereotype Mexican mariachi musician and leave him along the highway to play frogger with a bunch of bigoted Texas truck drivers bearing down on him. Benghazi that, moron!

3. The First Annual Mr. Burns Award

An award given not just for being an insensitive assclown -- the winner must also exhibit extreme callousness, a dangerously low IQ, and, a measure of contempt for humanity that, at the, borders on psychopathy. At this time, I would like to nominate one Kevin O'Leary, one of the "sharks" of ABC's Shark Tank.

When told, on the CBC's Lang and O'Leary Exchange (which he cohosted with Amanda Lang from 2009 until his departure this past August), that the wealth of the world's 85 richest people was equal to the wealth of 3½ billion of the world's poorest people, venture capitalist O'Leary revealed his insanity, his Romneyesque contempt for others, and his downright psychopathic tendencies by stating:
It's fantastic! And this is a great thing because it inspires everybody, gets some motivation to look up to the 1 percent and say, "I want to be one of those people. I'm going to fight hard to get up to the top." This is fantastic news, and of course I applaud it.
Knowing he wasn't being very convincing, he paused while viewers and on-air partner Amanda Lang cringed, then added:
What could be wrong with this?
I'm surprised he didn't say the poor should kiss his feet too. This is why I should have a button on my remote that inflicts instant migraines or dumps buckets of blood à la Carrie on such "people" when they appear on my TV. How long can this world tolerate not having a fair and legal remedy for people like Kevin O'Leary? I'd put this assclown on one of those big rotating wooden wheels that circus knife-throwers use. Then, after fastening him securely, I would declare it "Amateur Night" and invite throwers from the studio audience to come on up to the stage.

TOMORROW IN PART 3: Using fear, loathing, and paranoia to sell stuff; Arizona legalizes crack!; and the next Crazyspeak of the Year nominee (an old reliable)

Crackpot Utopia: The Year in Republican Crazy

Part 1: Princess Liz Cheney -- 2014's Smoothie of the Year?; "Miss Beck regrets" -- Crazyspeak of the Year nominee No. 1, Glenn Beck; and the Crackpot Party reacts to President Obama's SOTU [Friday]

Part 2: Repugs wonder why normal people call them racists (featuring Crazyspeak of the Year nominee No. 2, the Rockin' Racist, Ted Nugent); Sean Hannity wants to self-deport; and the First Annual Mr. Burns Award [Saturday]

Part 3: Using fear, loathing, and paranoia to sell stuff; Arizona legalizes crack!; Crazyspeak of the Year nominee No. 3: Bill O’Reilly [Sunday]

A Prayer to the Janitor of Lunacy

For listings and links, see Part 1 of this year's series.

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Kerry Bentivolio Kicked Out Of The GOP Cult-- And Forced To Sell All His Reindeer


"This is what happens," groused Kerry Bentivolio, "when a regular guy gets an opportunity to come to Congress." He's feeling pretty aggrieved all around. Not many Republicans lost their seats this year. But Bentivolio did-- and he lost ugly to Michigan's foreclosure king, who unleashed a torrent of cash-- over $4,000,000, including $3,623,402 from his own bank account-- to smear him mercilessly from Canton, Livonia and Novi to Auburn Hills and Washington, DC. In the end Trott and his Establishment allies beat him 138,229 (56.1%) to 100,665 (40.8%). Bentivolio calls himself a "a regular guy," but that's a bit of a stretch. He's an unconventional guy with a typical Tea Party sense of victimhood and way to independent-minded to fit in with garden variety, button-downed Republicans. He never really fit in anywhere in DC and, as disgusting as everyone acknowledges Trott is, not many are going to cry in their beers over the premature end of Bentivolio's accidental ascension to Congress.

Some Republican thugs are going in the opposite direction-- trying to wipe out the memory that he ever existed! Trott sent out word that he wouldn't be interested in any Bentivolio staffers and that he wouldn't look favorably on anyone else who hired any of them.

Bentivolio had hired a martial arts trainer from Ann Arbor, Robert Dindoffer, as his senior advisor and then gave him the job of campaign manager, firing him 7 months later. Dindoffer is widely considered a real scumbag and he's one of the leading forces behind Michigan Republicans' efforts to steal electoral votes by changing the way the state apportions them between candidates. When Bentivolio fired him-- basically for submitting false expenses and stealing from the campaign-- Dindoffier sued over some weird contract with a typically Republican type scam to extract more money from the campaign than is normal. Republicans always do this to each other.

Although he isn't willing to talk about it, Bentivolio has made it clear that Dindoffer wasn't just scamming the cash-strapped campaign for money but was also disloyal and looking out for himself, not his boss. This week a local judge ruled that Bentivolio has to pay Dindoffer $120,000.
Dindoffer’s attorney said on Wednesday both sides had reached a confidential settlement agreement this summer and Bentivolio had made some but not all payments as required by a Nov. 30 deadline, which prompted the Dec. 15 consent judgment by Oakland Circuit Judge James Alexander.

“It was confidential until he (Bentivolio) stopped making payments,” said Dindoffer’s attorney Kevin J. Stoops.

Bentivolio, 63, will leave office next month. He was defeated in the Republican primary and then ran unsuccessfully as a write-in candidate.

The judgment is against Bentivolio, and two of his campaign committees, Kerry Bentivolio for US Congress and Bentivolio for Congress. The judgment, which represents 1.5 times the amount due and owed to Dindoffer, resolves the last pending claim and closes the case, Alexander said in his ruling.

In an interview off the House floor last week, Bentivolio told the Detroit News that he was facing financial troubles in the face of the significant judgment. He criticized the conduct of his former campaign manager and questioned the bills and his loyalty.

But he acknowledged agreeing to settle the case earlier this year to reduce possible additional losses and said he had not been able to make payments.

“What can I do? I’m in the middle of a campaign. I’ve got all these people telling me to settle,” Bentivolio said last week, saying he was looking to reduce additional losses.

Bentivolio, a former school teacher who drew attention for being a part-time reindeer farmer, said he sold his reindeer earlier this year to pay bills and fund his campaign along with borrowing from his retirement fund. He said he has been “beat up” by establishment Republicans and the media.

“This is what happens when a regular guy gets an opportunity to come to Congress,” he said.

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Truth In Settlements Act


In the video above, Elizabeth Warren explains why she introduced the Truth in Settlements Act (S.1898) as soon as Congress got back to work last January. She also explains why it was never sent to President Obama's desk to be signed. It would help just about anyone understand why there is so much grassroots support for electing a president like Warren instead of just another tired political hack like Clinton or Bush who doesn't stand for anything that means squat for the well-being of the 99%.

She introduced the bill, co-sponsored by "Senator No"-- AKA-Tom Coburn (R-OK)-- and what it does is require "federal agencies to publicly disclose certain basic information about the major settlements they enter into with corporations. Information like whether a settlement is going to be tax deductible or whether it lets companies claim [financial] credit for things they're already doing... The idea behind the bill is straight-forward: if the government is going to cut deals on behalf of the American people, the American people are entitled to know what kind of a deal they're getting. That's the only way that the public can hold agencies accountable."

When the bill came before the Homeland Securities and Governmental Affairs Committee in July, it was approved unanimously. She asked unanimous consent for the Senate to vote on it. If you listen to the tape you will hear one dissenting voice-- and it's former derivatives trade and egregiously corrupt Wall Street whore Pat Toomey (R-PA), objecting on behalf of himself and, Cornyn (R-TX). and the Chamber of Commerce. So it died, at least for 2014. Senator Warren vows to keep introducing it until it passes.

Thursday supporters of Warren were out in force, both in DC and in New York, where they gathered at the midtown headquarters of Citigroup, the firm took the most in TARP bailout funds (over $45 billion) and that wrote and paid for the derivatives deregulation that passed last week as part of the CRomnibus. Later they took the show to Lazard at Rockefeller Center, the office of Obama's wretched Wall Street shill Antonio Weiss who he is trying to get confirmed as a Treasury Undersecretary. "Enough is enough with Wall Street insiders getting key position after key position and the kind of cronyism that we have seen in the executive branch," said Warren on the Senate floor.
"If I had a Warren, I’d end too big to fail," a circle of protesters sang to the tune of Pete Seeger’s "If I Had a Hammer." "I’d strengthen Volcker, bring back Glass-Steagall too! Use those laws to help my brothers and sisters all over this land."

...The firms also enjoy too many ties to the government, the protesters said. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew worked for Citigroup, his Washington predecessor Robert Rubin was paid more than $100 million when he worked there, and Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer was a Citigroup vice chairman.

Mitt Romney faced criticism of his Wall Street ties during his 2012 presidential run, and Hillary Clinton, a presumptive frontrunner for 2016, has been faulted by both Republicans and some fellow Democrats for being too close to the financial elite. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who has said he may run, will give up his senior adviser role at Barclays Plc at the end of the year, a person with knowledge of the move said today.

“Ask Hillary Clinton,” [Zephyr] Teachout said. “Ask Jeb Bush. Where do you stand on The Citigroup Question?”

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Friday, December 19, 2014

Let's see how quickly Dwight has a submission picked for the New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest


by Ken

"Got this e-mail the other day," writes New Yorker cartoon editor Bob Mankoff, adding, "It’s not the first of its kind."
This reader is completely non-plussed by the premature deadlines for your cartoon contest, in that they are dated one day before the cover publication date of the magazine, which in my case is often not delivered in the mail until too late to enter.

What exactly is the point of this kind of discouragement to your enthusiastic subscribers? I hope and pray you will not ignore this complaint in an all too common post-modern electronic game of passive aggression.

Dwight (last name not given, because I forgot it)
Wouldn't you like to see our Mr. Bob wriggle his way out of this one? The contest deadline "one day before the cover publication date of the magazine"! Well, it turns out that he doesn't so much wriggle his way out of this one as wriggle his way around it.

First he stalls:
Actually, a postmodern electronic game of passive aggression is now available as an app. You can try to download it, but it takes an endless amount of time to load, flashing you the message “I’m loading. Give me a minute, or, if you can’t wait, cancel it if you want—I won’t be mad. Really.”
Hey there, Mr. Bob, focus! Remember? The contest deadline "one day before the cover publication date of the magazine"? Mailed copy of magazine delivered too late to enter? Sound familiar? Huh?

Okay, here goes. "Look," he says, "the short answer to this problem is that there is no problem."
You can enter the Cartoon Caption Contest online (which is the only way you can enter it) at the stroke of midnight Eastern Standard Time. You don’t have to wait for it to appear in your mailbox.
Note that what he means by "you don’t have to wait for it to appear in your mailbox" is: You're a damn fool if you wait for it to appear in your mailbox, and there isn't a damn thing I can do for you. Actually go back to where he says, "You can enter the Cartoon Caption Contest online," and then immediately adds parenthetically what he really means: that you have to it online, there's no other damn way of doing it. Viewed this way, Mr. Bob isn't so much helping Dwight as taunting him. I suppose it's fair to note that Dwight posed his question via e-mail, and so if he can do that, presumably he can check out the Cartoon Contest online and enter it online -- again remembering that he has to enter it online.

At this point, claiming that "I really do want to help," Mr. Bob goes into a "step-by-step guide for all the Dwights out there. The first two steps are fairly straightforward, at least once Dwight accepts if he waits for his mailed subscription copy of the magazine, he's cooked.
1. Go to

2. Look at the cartoon there, and come up with an ingenious caption.
An alert observer might point out that going to the Contest page might not be as automatic as Mr. Bob is suggesting, if Dwight has used up his month's worth of free articles. In theory, of course, as a subscriber Dwight has unlimited access to the website, but as I've pointed out, this isn't necessarily the case. I (to pick a random example) am unable to sign in to my account in Safari or Firefox, and while I have the word of Sharon in Customer Care (I think it was Sharon; I'll be damned if I'm going to dig out the e-mails to rub my own nose in the futility) that work is proceeding on a fix for the Safari problem, a fat lot of good that does me while work on this massive project proceed.

Okay, even though one might assume that a higher percentage of New Yorker subscribers than of other demographic groups use Macs and are trying to connect via Safari or Firefox, let's assume that Dwight has snuck around this hurdle and can actually get onto the contest page. Presumably, he at least thinks he's got No. 2 covered as well. If he didn't think he could come up with an ingenious caption, he wouldn't have gotten involved with this whole problem.

(In which connection I might point out that, at least in the judgment of the judges, Dwight is very likely kidding himself about the ingenuity of his putative caption submissions. Just think of all the enterers who go thousands of contests without getting a peep out of the judges. Remember the experience of the late Roger Ebert? It could be that Dwight's logistical obstacle to entering the contest has spared him countless hours of heartache.)

If Dwight gets through No. 2, No. 3 is a virtual gimme:
3. Write the caption in the box provided—just one, please. Multiple entries are not permitted, and fray our nerves.
After No. 3, however, the steps get trickier -- mostly having to do with either having or having to establish a contest-entering account -- that entail not only Nos. 4, 4a, and 4b, but a whole bunch of other things that don't have numbers, and include a section of "Potential problems," and in the extreme case we seem to wind up on "the password-reset page."

At this point, says Mr. Bob, "If all this doesn’t work, contact Dwight. He’s got it down pat by now." Maybe, maybe not. It seems to me entirely possible that by now Dwight has given up and is spending his time playing online poker.

Okay, it's possible that I sound a bit bitter. This could be because I am a bit bitter. I hope Dwight is making out better than I am.

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Ringing sleighbells and roasting chestnuts tell us it's that time of year: Be afraid for the holidays


by Ken

It's Friday, and I realize many of you were probably in such a hurry to get wherever you were going for the weekend -- and possibly beyond, with those two skeletal work weeks coming up surrounding the holidays -- that you missed this news. So as a public service, DWT wants to be sure you've heard the latest from your State Dept., courtesy of the Washington Post "In the Loop" team:
State Department warns travelers about worldwide terror threat

By Colby Itkowitz | December 19 at 5:30 PM

It’s the Friday before Christmas, but the State Department is not spreading holiday cheer.

The agency sent a downright dreary travel advisory warning Americans that the threat of terrorism is everywhere.

In light of the “lone wolf attack” at a cafe in Sydney, Australia this week, State said Americans need to be “extra cautious.”

“An analysis of past attacks and threat reporting strongly suggests a focus by terrorists not only on the targeting of U.S. government facilities but also on hotels, shopping areas, places of worship and schools, among other targets during or coinciding with this holiday period,” State warns. “U.S. citizens abroad should be mindful that terrorists groups and those inspired by them can pose unpredictable threats in public venues.”

So be alert for “signs of danger,” State says.

Well, happy holidays.


The caption from the website "Totally Looks Alike" reads: "Charles Krauthammer / Leprechaun (movie monster)." But I think that that's backwards, that the really hideous and terrifying image on the right is the real Chucky "The Hammer." (Anyone know for sure?)

As if the events themselves weren't horrible enough, we have to listen now to media bloviators digest them for us. And I can't think of many things creepier than the Washington Post's own "Mr. Crazy," aka "Dr. Evil," Chucky "The Hammer" Krauthammer, sounding off on "How to fight the lone wolf." I don't know about you, but I've always figured that if Chucky hadn't figured out how to make such a posh career out of spreading The Crazy, he'd be a prime candidate to turn up in a tower or a school library armed to the teeth with automatic weapons.

No, I haven't read the piece. Isn't it enough that I've provided you with a link if you feel you must? I will tell you, though, that the basic premise is: "There are two kinds of lone wolves -- the crazy and the evil -- and the distinction is important." I suppose you could argue that if anybody knows about the crazy and the evil, it's "Mr. Crazy," aka "Dr. Evil." On the whole, though, I'd rather be having the State Dept. scaring the stuffing out of me.

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Crackpot Utopia: The Year in Republican Crazy, Part 1


• Princess Liz Cheney -- 2014's Smoothie of the Year?
• "Miss Beck regrets" -- Crazyspeak of the Year nominee No. 1
• And the Crackpot Party reacts to President Obama's SOTU

The Curious Case of the Princess and the Senator (see No. 1)

Crackpot Utopia: A dream world as envisioned by republicans; a manifestation or expression of the deranged, warped alternate universe inhabited by republicans, at least in their minds. See also: Bachmannism, Boehneresque.

by Noah

1. Princess Liz Cheney tries for the Smoothie of the Year Award

Since we're talkin' about crazy crackpot folks, why not start back in early January with the Cheney Princess, Liz, and her surprising -- and then surprisingly brief -- candidacy for the office of U.S. senator from Wyoming, the old home state of her Dr. Strangelovean Daddy Dick. Liz coulda been a contenda, or at least she thought so . . . at least for a while.

First, for purposes of frame of reference, here's a sample of Princess Liz speaking the crazy via Twitter:
Rarely do I disagree with best VP ever* but @SarahPalinUSA is more qualified than Obama and Biden combined. Huge respect 4 all she's done 4 GOP.
-  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -
* "Best VP ever" = Daddy Dick -- Ed.
You see, incumbent republican Sen. Mike Enzi (there are only republicans in Wyoming) was thinking of retirement. All Dark Princess Liz had to do was be gracious, courteous, and professional, or even just one of those three, and go ask him if the rumors were true and say that, if so, she would like to run for his seat. If he said that yes, he wanted to retire, she could ask for his blessing which those in the know say would have come.

But nooo! The arrogance apple doesn't fall far from the tree. She just called Senator Enzi and let it be known that she was going to run against him in the republican primary. That didn't sit well with the senator, who went all "Nobody's gonna push me out -- screw you!" on Princess Liz's royal ass. Strike One!

Now, the citizens of Wyoming happen to like Old School things, such as respect for elders, class, and earning your stripes, so Liz's bull-in-a-china-shop approach just didn't play in her state, especially when it turned out that Wyoming wasn't even really "her" state. That became clear when she thought she'd put a veneer of "local" on herself and apply for a Wyoming fishing license. She also bought a $1.9 million mini-castle in Jackson Hole, a place that real Wyoming folks regard as Hollywood East. She even bought brand-new boots and squeaky brand-new blue jeans to "look the part," and claimed to be a resident, but it turned out that Beltway Liz hadn't lived in Wyoming enough to claim resident status. She got fined $220 for her untruthfulness (another family trait!). Nothin' like finding new ways to say "I'm a carpetbagger!" Oh well, at least she didn't go and shoot one of her friends in the face on a fake bird hunt.

Princess Liz did manage, however, to wish death upon the local media when they didn't bend to her will and ran with the fish story. Now, who works in the local media? Local voters, that's who. She later said that she was referring to the liberal national media. Strike Two!

Then there was the open-range dispute with her gay sister Mary over marriage equality. The battle flew all over social and cable media. The princess mouthed the usual "marriage is between one man and one woman" crapola. It got ugly, and if you turn on your own family, why should Wyoming voters think you'll always have their back? Strike Three!

Tanking polls! You're out! Even FOX "News," trying desperately to give her some sort of gravitas, could not save her. Mike Enzi is still senator. He ought to thank Liz for making him look good by comparison. Back to the Beltway, Princess Liz!

Next time, the Cheney family might want to consider running Princess Mary the Gay. She's actually less of a princess than Liz. She's a little better-adjusted, and maybe her party could make an exception and back an openly gay person for national office. Hey, I'm not sayin' this would be sometime in this decade, but maybe in 30 years or so. Her dad will still be around due to his 15th pacemaker, an artificial liver, plenty of Depends, a jet-propelled wheelchair, and a suit made of nicotine patches. Mary's campaign slogan could be: "Wyoming, I Just Can't Quit You!"

2. "Miss Beck regrets" --
Crazyspeak of the Year nominee No. 1: Glenn Beck

Also back in January, eternal misanthrope and conspiracy theorist Glenn Beck put on a faux hairshirt and went on Faux News to confess to Mistress Megyn Kelly about his role in polarizing the United States Of America better than Tokyo Rose ever dreamed.
I remember it as an awful lot of fun and that I made an awful lot of mistakes, and I wish I could go back and be more uniting in my language. . . . I think I played a role, unfortunately, in helping tear the country apart and it's not who we are.
I'm moved, I tell ya. I'm moved! Why, this is almost like little Idi Amin saying he's sorry he ate all those people!

Will Beck be giving back some of the millions he's made in the service of evil? What's next? Charlie Manson says he regrets that hot August night at Sharon Tate's? Too harsh? OK, maybe Beck was just trying to chat up Mistress Megyn by showing a "sensitive side."

3. The Crackpot Party reacts to President Obama's State of the Union speech

On January 28th, President Obama gave the annual State of the Union speech. Several republican voices, including foaming-at-the-mouth talk-radio wacko Mark Levin and Judicial Watch's Tom Fitton had encouraged republican senators and representatives to boycott the speech over such issues as "amnesty," the president's "luxurious travels," and of course (say the magic word!) Benghazi. Feeling that a boycott of the speech was appropriate, Fitton said:
Imagine if half the chamber is empty.
Well, for one thing, no goofballs would be mouthing: "You lie!"

The medication-free Mark Levin went even further over the top:
Since these men and women will not use the U.S. Constitution to defend this nation, since they will not use the Constitution to confront a lawless President, worse yet, since they're funding his activities with these omnibus bills filled with all kinds of crap, what the Republicans should do is boycott the State of the Union . . . so half of the House floor, because that's where they meet, is empty.
The immensely reality-challenged Levin rambled on semi-coherently with phrases like "threatens the Republic" and "liberty and tyranny" -- all the usual republican insanity.

Seems to me that if President Obama were half the tyrant these people think he is, they wouldn't have their radio shows, columns, etc. But hey, playing the victim card can rile up the critical-thinking-challenged disciples and rake in piles of money.

In the end, just about everybody,other than far right "Supreme" Court Justices Alito, Thomas, and Scalia showed up, but republican Rep. Steve Stockman did indulge in his version of Crackpot Theater when he got up and walked out halfway through the speech, saying he did it over the usual perceived abuses of the Constitution, Obama's not mentioning Benghazi, Obama's alleged "wholesale violation of his oath," "failed policies," blah, blah, blah. He's from Texas, so say no more -- except, well, he did bring the rockin' racist Ted Nugent as his date. (More on Ted in the next installment of "Crackpot Utopia.")

Another one of Texas's finest, Rep. Randy Weber, tweeted out something about Obama being the Kommandant-in-Chef. Chef? There go those Texas schoolbooks again. But who ever said you needed to know how to spell in order to go into politics? As outgoing Gov. Rick Perry says, it's not an IQ test.

The media reactions were just as bad. FOX's Erick Erickson blanched at the thought of equal pay for women in a tweet during the speech, while Bush's brain Karl Rove reached all the way back to 2005 to find something to whine about on his Twit account.
The man who threatened the full faith and credit of US now lectures congress on the issue.
The biggest media farce, though, occurred the very next day on FOX-Lite CNN, where republican shill Wolf Blitzer was seen tossing soft and fluffy questions to one of his most favorite guests, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), who had given one of the not-the-historically-usual-one-or-even-two-but-three SOTU rebuttals that the laughably called "liberal media" had afforded their republican friends. On his day-after show, Wolfboy asked Cathy if she supported "equal pay for equal work."

"Absolutely!" came the response. She blathered on and on about how the GOP supports pay equality for women in the workplace, etc., etc., blah-blah-blah. Did Wolfie the bearded wonder shill then ask her why she has voted against equal pay four times? Nope, but hey, that's not what he's there to do. He just plays a journalist on TV.

I wonder if McMorris Rodgers handed her interviewer a bag o'cash after the show. "Keep up the good work, Wolfie! Reince loves you! Kiss, kiss!"

•     •     •

Well, that's it for Part 1 of "Crackpot Utopia." And I'm not even done with January yet.

TOMORROW IN PART 2: Republicans wonder why normal people call them racists; Sean Hannity wants to self-deport; and the First Annual Mr. Burns Award

Crackpot Utopia: The Year in Republican Crazy

Part 1: Princess Liz Cheney -- 2014's Smoothie of the Year?; "Miss Beck regrets" -- Crazyspeak of the Year nominee No. 1, Glenn Beck; and the Crackpot Party reacts to President Obama's SOTU [Friday]

Part 2: Repugs wonder why normal people call them racists (featuring Crazyspeak of the Year nominee No. 2, the Rockin' Racist, Ted Nugent); Sean Hannity wants to self-deport; and the First Annual Mr. Burns Award [Saturday]

Part 3: Using fear, loathing, and paranoia to sell stuff; Arizona legalizes crack!; Crazyspeak of the Year nominee No. 3: Bill O’Reilly [Sunday]

A Prayer to the Janitor of Lunacy*

Part 1: Take a bow, Repugs! (*including Nico's "Janitor of Lunacy") [12/30/2013]

Part 2: Remember when Reagan cut funds for insane asylums? (Storms, guns, bombs, free stuff, and the secret gay life of Obma: Some top Republican lies of 2013) [12/31/2013]

Part 3: No Cruz control (Rafael "Ted" Cruz in his own words) [1/1/2014]

Part 4: A great anniversary approaches! (plus more "Quote of the Year nominees") [1/2/2014]

Part 5: Everyone's a critic, including me -- Some people really try my patience (Bill-O, Howie Kurtz, E. W. Jackson, et al.) [1/3/2014]

Part 6 (and last): In the words of Dan Quayle, "What a waste it is to lose one's mind" (Exploiting tragedy for a buck; Miss America's not American?; "Quote of the Year" winner) [1/4/2014]

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