Monday, November 28, 2005

Nightline - how far have we fallen?

I've been sort of interested in all the huzzah's being directed at Ted Koppel and Nightline the last couple of weeks, but I recall that back at the time, the opinions were more circumspect. For perspective, here's Tom Shales of WaPo reviewing the first episode of the program renamed 'Nightline' on day 142 of the Iranian Hostage Crisis.

Late-Night Newsohol on ABC's Diluted Report
by Tom Shales
The Washington Post
Wednesday, March 26, 1980

No less a world figure -- and no more -- than the Iranian charge d'affaires, Ali Agah, took note of the fact that Day 142 of the Iranian crisis saw an end to the ABC News broadcast hysterically, titled "America Held Hostage" and a beginning for a new Monday-through-Thursday late report called "ABC News Nightline."

The new program is the first regularly scheduled and permanent (in the transitory TV sense of the world) late-night network news report, but to judge from the Monday premiere, it is not likely to see America Held Spellbound.

Ali Agah found some encouragement in the change of title for the show. Could it be we have turned yet another corner in what has become a ridiculous maze? Probably not, though network news reports have had the crisis turning about one corner a week.

As for the program, it represents at best a great leap sideways and at worst a pratfall backwards for network news. The premiere did not provide viewers with anything worth knowing.

Worse, it was highlighted by a contrived confrontation between Agah and Dorothea Morefield, wife of an American hostage. When anchor Ted Koppel announced that "for the first time" on live TV such a clash would occur, he sounded like a host of one of the old heart-tug and humiliation TV shows of the '50s -- the "Strike It Rich" and "This Is Your Life" sort of thing.

The gimmick was cheaply theatrical, hokey, mawkish and self-promotional. It was preceded by a soap operatic taped report on the Morefield family of San Diego; cameras even glimpsed them watching a previous ABC News report on the crisis.

Then Koppel said, "Well, Mrs. Morefield, we'll give you the opportunity to speak to an Iranian official in a moment." But first a word from the sponsors. All they needed was a wheel of fortune and cash prizes to come up with the first news game show in TV.

It wasn't news, of course; it was the new news, neo-news, non-news, a sugary news substitute. Newsohol. In fact the program was produced like an entertainment show, starting with its dizzy, busy, outer-spaced motif at the outset -- a virtual duplicate of the outer-space motif used on the late-night "Wide World of Entertainment" shows.

Because the pointless Agah-Morefield split-screen spat ran long, a report on the Ted Kennedy Candidacy was eliminated. "Live television" was to blame, Koppel said, through there's no law that says the broadcast couldn't have run overtime and delayed the "Barney Miller" rerun by a few minutes. Who would have minded? It would simply have been a little less situation comedy and a little more of Roone Arledge's situation news.

vietnam 8...driving miss daisy

A friend of mine is on a trip to various parts for Southeast Asia. Topher and his buddy Michael are currently in Vietnam and have been sending messages of their trip. I find them quite humorous and thought that I would post the most current one. Topher is writing a book, so he has been letting Michael do the honors of the journal.

The introduction is Topher's work... the entry is Michaels.

for those at the faint of heart please do not read further past my notes but . . .

not to worry, the difficulty in breathing, loss of consciousness, violent convulsions and staring in the face of death has subsided . . . moments after I told the band we were breaking up and there would be no reunion tour, assured Michael I never really liked him and I was just riding his shirt tails as long as I could stand his constant whining, tried to negotiate a contract with the driver to represent him as an agent for the formula 1 circuit, and told everyone I was gay (if you believe that you need to watch "almost famous" once again), we pulled up in front of the hotel and the sai gon boys choir greeted us with somewhat of a Buddhist hallelujah . . . . oh my buddha . . . serenity now, serinety now

vietnam 8...driving miss daisy

First off let me say that although many of these stories are filled with sarcastic humor I have to tell you that my experiences over here have been unbelievably positive and the people are incredible.

But the way they drive...........oh mama

We booked a car to drive us the 180 kilometers from Mui Ne to Saigon today......
the spelling errors are due to me shaking......and I'm smokin a cigarette and pondering my life...everyday from now on is just gravy as I feel that we cheated death today.

The ride starts out with us careening wildly down the problem...we've experienced that before but then we hit traffic. This guy was passing trucks just before the crest of every hill, on blind turns and hairpin curves. Several times as we were passing a bus, a semi came over the hill and we were looking at an impossibly large grill screaming down on us with the horn blazing and the trucks lights flashing. I'm yelling "Mother F....." at the top of my lungs and Topher is repeatedly trying to push his left foot through the passenger side floorboard in a brake response.

Thank god the truck drivers weren't hell bent on winning this insane game of chicken and didn't take it as unmanly that our little rent a car was pushing their semi trucks way out onto the shoulder of the road.

After screaming at the guy....who is tickled pink by our reaction and is seemingly unfazed by by the yelling of other vietnamese drivers and the hand gestures that we were fairly certain were not greeting signs by the drivers we passed, we convinced him to pull over at a gas station. I needed something for my pounding temples and Topher needed some ointment for his lip that he bit through as he contemplated eternity before impact. Staring death in the face is no picnic brother. It takes a toll on you.

As the driver fills up the gas tank, we notice there is a steady stream of gasoline leaking from somewhere under the car. We point this out to him and he lets us know that he is aware of it and that's why he is smoking his cigarette some distance from the car.

When Topher and I refuse to get back in the car a couple mechanics come over, take a look at it....spray the leak with a water hose and give us the thumbs up signal. Well at least the undercarriage is clean now. These guys must double shift for an HMO overseas in the states

As we are in the middle of nowhere we decide our options are few and get back in although the leak is still going strong and the fragrance of wildflowers is strangely sweet mixed wth the pungent smell of gasoline in the air. We figure a fiery explosion is probably no worse than a mangled wreckage of steel so its 1/2 dozen of one and 6 of the other.

So off we about 45 minutes later as the rain and wind really start picking up Topher notices our driver is dozing off at the wheel (no I am not making this shit up) so we decide we better stop and get him some coffee. We stop at a rest stop where the kids are scared of Topher's size but intrigued at the same time. They run far away everytime he tries to take their picture but then run back up to him to see what the picture looks like and then they turn around and run away again. It was pretty funny to watch this ritual repeat itself for the whole time we are there.

The rest stops here have hammocks set up under cabanas and as the rain turned into a downpour, all the hammocks filled up as moped drivers pulled in and stayed, waiting out the deluge. This is an idea ahead of its time.

Needless to say.....the industrial strength coffee did not help our driver's patience or defensive driving habits. Finally we're on the outskirts of the city. At this point our flight or fight response has been on overdrive for so long that we are both exhausted. Topher is complaining about neck pain, erratic breathing and his left leg is numb from flexing against the floorboards. My stomach is sore from staying bunched up and I realize my face is sore from being frozen in a death grimace all the way from Mui Ne. We stop for a bathroom break and come out to find our driver examining the still flowing gas leak with one hand while holding his lit cigarette in his other. He smiles and asks if we are ready? That's it. We're done.
What do you say? We just got in and said lets go.

Ok so maybe it was all a blessing....I mean how many car rides have you had that when you sprang out of the car, hugged the first human you saw and wept with joy just because you were ALIVE! The valet at the hotel still thinks we're a little off.

So .......hug the first human you see after this email and give thanks for LIFE! It's gonna be a great day and every day after this is a bonus!!!

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Why John Murtha is Right!

My buddy Benny Ricardo sent this link to me last night. I came back to my hotel room after and very long day and got this email and was completely blown away by the concise argument, that has yet to be made by any politician... except Murtha.

Why John Murtha Is Right!
By Larry Johnson
Booman Tribune

Friday 18 November 2005

John Murtha's courageous call for American troops to leave Iraq is the right policy at the right time. The Bush chickenhawks already are impugning Murtha's patriotism, but when you have a purple heart and a silver star compared to a President with a spotty attendance record with the National Guard and a Vice President with five deferments, that dog don't hunt.

The situation in Iraq is clear. The United States does not have enough troops on the ground to contain and destroy the insurgency. The Iraqi insurgency consists of at least 26 different groups and draws upon as many as 250,000 supporters. These groups represent a spectrum of beliefs ranging from secular nationalists to hard core jihadists. The only thing they agree on is that they hate the invader; which is us.

To defeat the insurgency we will need at least 400,000 troops on the ground. At the present time, the United States does not have sufficient troop strength to ramp up to that level. Our choice is simple - either we come up with the additional forces and commit ourselves to an effort that will stretch on for at least five years with 400,000 plus soldiers and marines in theatre or we withdraw.

How do we get 400,000 troops on the ground? That will require a draft or a commitment by NATO forces and other countries to provide forces. Even if we start a draft tomorrow, we will not be able to field combat capable divisions for at least two years. Basic training requires 10 weeks. Advance infantry training adds an additional six months. Once the troops are trained they need to train as units. The unit training, starting with companies and working up to division level exercises, will require at least 18 months (and that is an optimistic scenario).

In the interim we would need to call upon NATO forces to deploy to Iraq and conduct a coordinated counter insurgency effort. This effort, over the next two years, will likely produce at least 10,000 fatalities and 80,000 wounded. Are we willing as a country to pay that price? I don't think so.

Meanwhile, our efforts on the ground are succeeding in killing and capturing a large number of suspected insurgents. But our kill capture effort is producing a blowback - Iraqis who are incarcerated and the surviving relatives of those killed respond to our effort by joining the insurgents. Instead of reducing the insurgency our efforts are providing a catalyst that recruits new insurgents faster than we can kill them.

There also is no doubt that our efforts are providing a recruiting poster for jihadists. Last year, for example, the number of terrorist attacks that resulted in people being killed and wounded was the highest number ever recorded since the CIA started keeping statistics in 1968. The Al Qaeda groups have reduced the planning time required for mass casualty attacks. Prior to 9-11, Al Qaeda carried out such attacks every 18 months. Now, they are able to mount operations in only three or four months. The trend line is going in the wrong direction

I see no political will on the part of the American public to accept a draft and to accept 90,000 casualties during the next four years. The elections in December will not produce a political outcome that will persuade the various insurgents to lay down their weapons and focus their energies on political debate in a legislature and in newspapers.

Our best alternative is to withdraw from Iraq and establish covert relations with the secular insurgents. Over the long run our interest as a nation is to prevent the religious jihadists from consolidating their control over Iraq and forging a closer relationship with Iran. The question is not, will there be a civil war? A civil war is already underway. Rather, the proper question is what can we do as a nation to protect our longterm interests?

We have two key long term strategic interests. First, we want to promote a secular society. The current Iraqi constitution enshrines the Quran as the law of the land and encourages sectarian strife. Second, we must enlist the support of Russia, China, Europe, and the Muslim nations in rooting out and destroying the jihadists. Most of that effort can be handled with intelligence and law enforcement work rather than military operations. The Beatles had it right - we can get by with some help from our friends.

Given these facts, John Murtha is right. We must withdraw, sooner rather than later, from Iraq. Otherwise, we will find ourselves in a quagmire reminiscent of Vietnam. Only this time, the jihadists who are carrying out urban combat operations will be equipped and trained through their experience to carry out future attacks against our interests around the world. John Murtha and Chuck Hagel are patriots who understand this dilemma. We have lit a fuse on the next generation of jihadist terrorism. We must douse the fuse with water, and put it out sooner rather than later.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Van Damme Wanted to Fight Terrorism

Belgian movie hardman Jean-Claude Van Damme is being head-hunted to solve the world's terrorism problems, by North Korean leader Kim Jong Il's son and potential successor.

Jong Il's 24-year-old heir Kim Jong Chol has reportedly been dismissed by his father as "too girlish" to rule the country, but is a leading contender as his elder brother is currently in self-imposed exile in Europe.

And North Koreans will be interested in Kim Jong Chol's defence and foreign policies - which he proposes should be lead by the 'Muscles From Brussels'.

Inspired by Van Damme's terrorist-busting performance in 1995 film 'Sudden Death', he says: "I'd not allow weapons or atom bombs any more. I'd destroy all terrorists with the Hollywood star Jean-Claude Van Damme."

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Freak Tornado Hits Culver City!

Tuesday Evening at approximately 4:40 PM a rare tornado touched down in Culver City, California.
Eyewitnesses stated that they saw the tornado head towards the mobile home park about a mile from this home, as expected.
Suddenly the whirlwind changed paths and headed towards this Jackson Ave home.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

What's Playing on Your iPod?

As I stated in this post on October 20th with the addition of video playback to the iPod, we now have the advantage of having porn with us 24/7. Now it gets even better... at least for the girls.

When I'm traveling I always like to ask people what they are listening to on their iPod. I will pay particular attention to the ladies from now on.

From The Sun:

APPLE'S iPod is set to bring even more pleasure to music lovers this Christmas - after boffins invented a vibrator that moves in time with the songs.

The £25 iBuzz connects up to the gizmo and pulses while each tune is played.

When the volume is pumped up, the vibrations get faster as the music gets louder.

Ali Carnegie, of adult-store, said the firm is already on the verge of selling out of the bullet-sized device before Christmas.

She said its inconspicuous design has been a big winner with women and claims the sex toy, totally unrelated to Apple, is perfect for giving users "big smiles on their way to work".

Jessamy Hawley, of Gadget Candy - a technology website aimed at women - believes combining two female passions is sure to prove a No1 hit.

She added: "The iPod is this era'’s must-have accessory, while a vibrator is a timeless addition to every girl's gadget drawer.

"Entwine the two and you'’ve got the ultimate cheeky Christmas stocking filler."

The iBuzz is not the first tech-inspired vibrator.

Earlier this year, the Internet Enabled Rabbit was released, which allows lovers to hook up through cyberspace, while another on sale connects to a mobile phone and vibrates when a text message is received.

Monday, November 14, 2005


My friend Rose passed this forward. This is a poem made up entirely of actual quotations from George W. Bush, and arranged by Washington Post writer Richard Thompson.


I think we all agree, the past is over.
This is still a dangerous world.
It's a world of madmen and uncertainty
And potential mental losses.

Rarely is the question asked
Is our children learning?
Will the highways of the Internet
Become more few?

How many hands have I shaked?
They misunderestimate me.
I am a pitbull on the pant leg of opportunity.

I know that the human being
And the fish can coexist.
Families is where our nation finds hope,
Where our wings take dream.

Put food on your family!
Knock down the tollbooth!
Vulcanize society!
Make the pie higher!

Make the pie higher!

(Feel free to pass this on. Help cure Mad Cowboy Disease.)

Friday, November 11, 2005

"...You fucked up -- you trusted us!"

I quote Tri-Delt President Eric "Otter" Stratton on this occasion because I think this is how Bush should open every speech for the next 1166 days...

President Ass-clown was out to launch the "Blame the Democrats" phase of his propaganda campaign. I guess the fact that more people believe Elvis is alive than believe that Bush is competent has been weighing heavily on his mind.

``It is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how the war began,'' Bush said in a Veterans Day speech today to military families at Tobyhanna Army Depot near Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.
``More than 100 Democrats in the House and Senate who had access to the same intelligence voted to remove Saddam Hussein from power,'' the president said.
First - The intel was "worked" to make the case for war by the war-pigs. Second - All through the fall of 2002, Bush repeatedly insisted that this authorization was only to use force as a last resort - that the vote served as his "stick" which would force Saddam to cooperate with inspections. We now know that he did cooperate, and he didn't really have much in the way of weapons, or an Army for that matter.

Today, friends, we are all Flounder, and Otter has destroyed our brother Fred's Cadillac...

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


As Hunter says, and I agree, I think it should be a stated goal of United States policy to not melt the skin off of children. For any number of reasons, but the primary being because "it fucking melts the skin off of children."

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Dream Baby Dream

This weekend I am in Tampa for the forth year doing the WILD Last Damn Show 007, a hip hop extravaganza featuring Lil Jon and a host of other b level hip hop artists. I found out Wednesday that Bruce was playing in Tampa on Friday night, the day that I arrived, so I went on the ticketing site and was able to find a great seat for the show. My seat was in the loge level, right next to the stage, five rows up. This is the closest I have ever sat for a Bruce show. My flight arrived at 7 pm and the show was scheduled to start at 7:30, but I figured the show wouldn't start until 8:15 and I was right. I arrived right at 8:15 and I saw the whole show. Although I had to wait until after the third song to be seated. As usual Bruce rocked. I was also pleased to be treated to a very different set than when I saw him in Phoenix back in April.

Here is the set list from last night:

Fade Away
Reason To Believe
Devils And Dust
Empty Sky
Long Time Comin'
Be True
Atlantic City
State Trooper
Ain't Got You
One Step Up
Wreck On The Highway
Real World
My Hometown
The Rising
Lucky Town
Jesus Was An Only Son
Two Hearts
The Hitter
Matamoros Banks
I Wanna Marry You
Blinded By The Light
Land Of Hope And Dreams
The Promised Land
Dream Baby Dream

The Phoenix show was the third date on the tour, while the show last night was around show #40. There were a few things that struck me about the experience. The first was that Bruce's 'deconstructing' of his classic tunes has devolved even more. To a true Bruce fan it can be a very exciting to hear some of their favorite songs performed in a new, more personal manner. Although for the casual Bruce fan, I can see how the experience could be frustrating hearing a familiar melody line meander around the new rhythms and go places that they have never gone. The other most striking moment of the show for me was how Bruce closed the show. He stepped behind a foot pump organ and began to play Dream, a Roy Orbison song that I have never heard and one that Bruce has only begun to play in May. It was a slow repetitive song that became a meditation. Now I've been to LOTS of Bruce shows both with the band, (both of them), and solo acoustic and I must say that a couple of minutes into Dream, I surveyed the audience and it was the most focused and attentive I have ever seen a Bruce audience. It was Bruce live at his finest. The preacher taking his flock to a better place.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

John Madden - TurDucken = Tim Russert

Richard Bradley blogs a funny anecdote on Huffington Post about the man who wouldn't know a follow-up question if it...well, let's just say he wouldn't know a follow-up question...
The Tim Russert Story Todd Purdum Wouldn't Tell You
by Richard Bradley

Like Arianna, I was bemused by the big wet kiss the Times' Todd Purdum gave Russert on Sunday. So here's one little anecdote that I would have loved to see worked into the Russert profile.

Last June Russert gave the Class Day address at Harvard. He was invited primarily because the Harvard administration was upset about the raunchy speech given by comedian Ali G the previous year.

But students were unhappy about the invitation to Russert, because they rightly considered him the officially-sanctioned speaker and because they knew that Russert gave a ton of commencement speeches.

So one group of enterprising students dug up the graduation speeches Russert had given...and found that they were pretty much exactly alike.

Suspecting more of the same, they printed up bingo cards with Russert's phrasing in the squares. "You know, I'm often asked my favorite Meet the Press stories...." Or: "As Justice Frankfurter admonished...." Or: "So I called Whitey Ford...."

The Bingo cards were distributed to members of the graduating class in the audience. And after a few minutes, you started to hear cries of "Bingo!" interrupting Russert's speech every time he uttered a line like, "My late colleague David Brinkley once reminisced..." Or. "Mother Teresa....she's a modern-day saint."

Until finally the "Bingo!" was almost as loud as the quite confused Russert, who wrapped up his speech in a hurry.

It's not the most important story in the world. But it does show that a bunch of college kids had a little more skepticism about and perspective on the power of Washington journalists than did a reporter from the New York Times.

I'm just wild about Harry (not that there's anything wrong with that)...

Why did Harry Reid do what he did today?
Before the Election: Pat Roberts on completing Phase 2 of the Senate Intel report (July 9, 2004): "It is a priority. I made my commitment and it will get done."
After the Election: Pat Roberts on the Phase 2 Report:

- "I don't think there should be any doubt that we have now heard it all regarding prewar intelligence. I think that it would be a monumental waste of time to replow this ground any further." (March 31, 2005)

- "To go though that exercise, it seems to me, in a post-election environment--we didn't see how we could do that and achieve any possible progress. I think everybody pretty well gets it." (March 31, 2005)

- "[Phase 2] is basically on the back burner." (March 10, 2005)