Thursday, December 31, 2009


Take a close look at the web page about Rush Limbaugh's chest pains as it was captured late night, December 31, 2009.

Here was my post to the thread minutes later:

This is the way the thread looked this morning:

It's called a "hat tip," Colby. I know, you just couldn't remember the phrase for it.

You're welcome.

UPDATE: Colby Hall responds on the thread:


Monday, December 28, 2009


James Brown - "Hot Pants"


Bruce Springsteen - "I'm On Fire"

Buster Poindexter - "Hot Hot Hot"

Debbie Harry - "Backfired"

Queen - "Put Out The Fire"

Madonna - "Burning Up"

Tony Camillo's Bazuka - "Dynomite"

and the one you knew was coming...

Jerry Lee Lewis - "Great Balls of Fire"

Saturday, December 26, 2009


I was shocked to discover that the man who doused the flames begun by self-described Al-Qaeda operative Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab in his apparent attempt to blow up Northwest Flight 253 over American soil was, of all people, a "Dutch video director" named Jasper Schuringa (at right in a Facebook photo). Why? Because it was another Dutch director whose untimely demise on November 2, 2004 set the current tone of cowardice in the art world toward criticism of Islamist extremism.

Director Theodor "Theo" Van Gogh, great-grandnephew of legendary painter Vincent Van Gogh, died on an Amsterdam sidewalk after being shot off of his bicycle, stabbed in the chest multiple times as he begged for his life, shot and stabbed again, and finally, having a knife plunged in his chest by his assailant.

What provoked the deadly attack? Van Gogh had directed and co-produced a 10-minute film titled Submission (which is "Islam" translated into English) from a script written by Dutch Member of Parliament Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali-born woman who rejected Islam. The film portrayed a composite veiled Muslim woman (wearing a partially transparent burqa) speaking aloud the prayers of four females mistreated by faithful Muslim men in their lives in seeming accord with the Qu'ran. Passages that purportedly condone or authorize whipping as punishment for fornication, forced marriage, domestic violence and sexual molestation are written across parts of women's beaten bodies in the film.

As a prominent politician, Hirsi Ali was entitled to some sort of security. Civilian Van Gogh, on the other hand, received death threats after the film's release, but didn't take them seriously, dismissing the idea that he should employ a bodyguard. Obviously, he should have; the knife that you can see sticking out of Van Gogh's chest as he bled to death on the street was more than just the murderer's coup de grace, it attached a five-page document to him that included an open letter to Hirsi Ali. The message: You're next.

Who killed Van Gogh? A radical Muslim Dutch-Moroccan named Mohammed Bouyeri (below in mugshot), then 26, who was apprehended soon after he fled the scene of the crime. He was wearing a djelleba, a long traditional Muslim formal garment, and on his person, he had a copy of a poem anticipating his glorious death in a shootout, which, of course, didn't work out for him (sound familiar?)

Bouyeri refused to speak in his own defense at his trial because he didn't recognize the authority of the Dutch government. He did have this to say to Van Gogh's mother after he was sentenced: "I don’t feel your pain. I don’t have any sympathy for you. I can’t feel for you because I think you’re a non-believer." No regrets from Bouyeri either: "I take complete responsibility for my actions. I acted purely in the name of my religion ... I can assure you that one day, should I be set free, I would do exactly the same, exactly the same." He was sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole, the most severe sentence the Netherlands could have given him.

The brutal murder of Van Gogh and the deadly Islamist violence that targeted Denmark and Danish interests after the publication of political cartoons satirizing the prophet Mohammed have served to muzzle artists around the world who pride themselves on being bravely acerbic on the topic of religious fanaticism. Their generally-agreed upon standards of artistic integrity ought to have them shining a light and holding a magnifying glass over the terrorism, oppression, and violent abuses against women radical Islam tolerates. Instead, with the image of Van Gogh's corpse sprawled on a downtown Amsterdam street fresh in their minds as if yesterday (if their memories of the fatwa against novelist Salman Rushdie were forgotten), they cower and surrender the principles they want you to believe they value more than anything.

Producers and directors' fear of reprisals for treating Muslim terrorists the way they regularly target (and often slander) Christians and Jews has made itself manifest in many ways. Just a sample: The switch of the nuke-wielding Palestinian terrorists of Tom Clancy's novel The Sum of All Fears to neo-Nazis in the film version; Clancy protege Vince Flynn revealing that none of his best-selling spy novels had yet been turned into movies because he demanded that the terrorist villains remain Arab fanatics and not -- in one change proposed by a studio executive -- Filipinos (not making it up, folks); Viacom's Comedy Central cable channel allowing the animators of South Park to splatter an image of Jesus Christ in excrement, but censoring an image of Mohammed simply standing in a doorway (more on that here and here); director Roland Emmerich's admission that while St. Peter's Basilica and the massive Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro were OK to CGI-obliterate in his latest end-of-the-world flick 2012, he pulled his punch when it came to the Grand Mosque in Saudi Arabia.

Call it serendipity, call it synchronicity, call it karma, call it divine intervention, call it what you want. That one Dutch film director should be killed by a Muslim terrorist while another Dutch film director possibly saved at least hundreds of lives from a Muslim terrorist is a remarkable coincidence. And one that you will likely read about only in places like mine, an unremarkable blog, because the mainstream media is also caught up in the same political-correctness game as the so-called art world.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

THE KEVIN GOTKIN PROBLEM: Columnist Plays The "You Really Hate Me!" Game

NOTE: The following is my reaction to this editorial from's Kevin Gotkin, who takes on the Wall Street Journal's Peggy Noonan after she wrote this December 19, 2009 column titled "The Adam Lambert Problem" regarding the controversy over the shocking performance by the 2009 American Idol runner-up on ABC-TV's live broadcast of the 2009 American Music Awards.

Mr. Gotkin:

Before reading your column, I read the Peggy Noonan piece at your link. Then I returned and finished reading your reaction, and noted this comment:

This is [a] story of poor journalism.

I agree wholeheartedly. But the poor journalism is not Noonan's, it's yours. (Not that this is new to Mediaite).

First of all, the illustration you chose to accompany your editorial would be fitting if you were taking on Rev. Pat Robertson, Dr. James Dobson, or Phyllis Schafly, whose objections to the expanding influence of the gay rights movement are deeply based in religious belief. Peggy Noonan is not of that sandwich-board ilk, and it's dishonest of you (or the person who chose that image) to imply that she is somehow.

Then, you employ the deceitful device used increasingly by professional opinionators left and right: “code language.” That is, to make the words of someone with whom you disagree seem more objectionable to the uninformed by suggesting the reader shouldn't believe the words that were actually spoken. No, readers should ignore the actual meaning of words, and instead embrace your perception of what their darker inner thoughts must be.

You wrote, “Noonan’s problem is that she hinges on homophobia.” Then, after quoting a paragraph in which Noonan almost apologizes for making Lambert's perverted display the topic of a column (“I don't mean to make too much of it”) you wrote:
“Translation from poorly codified indiscretion: Gay people are ruining America.”

Those are just your warm-up pitches, as you continue:

I can’t ignore disturbing shorthand homophobia. It’s a not-so-subtle way of talking that allows people of like minds to say just about everything except the offensive things they actually want to say.

Of course, Kevin, it never seem to occur to people like you that perhaps the reason why they don't say “the offensive things” is because they actually don't want to say them.

This is eerily reminiscent of another writer who hears things that weren't actually said – The New York Times' Maureen Dowd, who made a fool of herself when she wrote that “Fair or not,” she “heard” Congressman Joe Wilson silently call President Obama “boy” in his “You lie!” outburst in Obama's health care speech. Dowd can be found on that Pulitzer Prize list you linked, and her continued presence on it devalues its prestige.

This is also the main weapon used by the likes of Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, and other race hustlers (let me interject at this point that I am a black man); they are cocked and ready to accuse people of bias or bigotry without a shred of evidence, sometimes demanding a ransom of millions (in “donations”) to remove the tar they've slathered on their targets.

All such arguments are predicated on the idea that one knows what other people are really thinking if they don't accept (or openly reject) your values. Joe Wilson calls Obama a liar (accurately)? He's a white guy from South Carolina, so he's a bigot – he just doesn't say “boy” out loud. A cartoonist draws up a gag about a mad chimpanzee being the author of the stimulus bill? Obviously, the chimp represents Obama, even though Obama didn't write the bill, and the cartoonist said that wasn't his intent at all. Carrie Prejean doesn't think same-sex marriage should be instituted into law, so that must mean that she secretly despised the gay men that helped her win Miss California USA.

See, there's so much you can learn about people's true motives and feelings by what they don't say. Right?

Your argument against Noonan falls apart like a Jenga puzzle when you start defending gay values. I'm not saying that gays don't have values, I'm saying that in her piece Noonan never accused gays of not having them. Once again, that was your perception of Noonan, fair or not. She was specifically focused on the deliberately provocative performance by Lambert ("faux oral sex" featuring "S&M play," "bondage gear," "same-sex makeouts" and "walking a man and woman around the stage on a leash”) and the fact that it all took place on broadcast – that is to say “free” -- television. As Noonan wrote well before she specifically addressed Lambert:

For years now, without anyone declaring it or even noticing it, we've had a compromise on television. Do you want, or will you allow into your home, dramas and comedies that, however good or bad, are graphically violent, highly sexualized, or reflective of cultural messages that you believe may be destructive? Fine, get cable. Pay for it. Buy your premium package, it's your money, spend it as you like.

But the big broadcast networks are for everyone. They are free, they are available on every television set in the nation, and we watch them with our children. The whole family's watching. Higher, stricter standards must maintain.

You responded by suggesting this was evidence of Noonan's "poor journalism" because of her shaky "reasoning," and that:

Without distrust for the “alternative” lifestyle Adam Lambert now represents, Noonan’s piece comes across as aloof and out of touch. But with it, she rallies the base. Proof? That fact that she didn’t write this article after the Britney and Madonna kiss.

If you knew as much about Peggy Noonan as I do, you would know that she's not a big fan of "rallying the base" -- she did just the opposite a year ago, joining a chorus of urban intellectual conservatives in extolling the potential of Barack Obama to be a great centrist Chief Executive. I knew that wouldn't happen.

I never went to J-school, (I'm presuming that you did, Kevin -- maybe I'm wrong) but I always try to check my facts. Sometimes I fall short, and write something that is technically inaccurate, but I always try to get the big honking hippopotamus facts right. Such as the fact that the Britney-Madonna liplock was NOT on broadcast television, it was ... on cable, specifically the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards.

Another huge error of yours was linking a 1993 Andrew Sullivan NYT editorial about gays serving in the armed services openly as an example of "Gay Values, Truly Conservative." I won't go into the salacious details of Mr. Sullivan's values in practice (all of you who have the stomach for that can Google his name with the phrase "milky loads" or "power glutes"), but I wouldn't cite a man obsessed with Sarah Palin's uterus as a good way to get people OVER homophobia.

But I guess such dead-end rhetorical devices are a part of what you call "journalism that speaks through ingenuity instead of ignorance..." Is that what you believe you've accomplished here, Mr. Gotkin, this collection of prejudicial, presumptive, stereotypical assertions based in a gelatinous foundation? You are mistaken.

Friday, November 27, 2009


From the Edinburgh (Scotland) Evening News:

Man dug up wife's corpse and slept beside it for five years 'for hugs'

Published Date:
26 November 2009

A Vietnamese man dug up his wife's corpse and slept beside it for five years because he wanted to hug her in bed, an online newspaper says.

The 55-year-old man from a small town in the central province of Quang Nam opened up his wife's grave in 2004, moulded clay around the remains to give the figure of a woman, put clothes on her and then placed her in his bed, said.

The man, Le Van, told the website that after his wife died in 2003 he slept on top of her grave, but about 20 months later he worried about rain, wind and cold, so he decided to dig a tunnel into the grave "to sleep with her".

His children found out, though, and prevented him from going to the grave. So one night in November 2004 he dug up his wife's remains and took them home, Vietnamnet reported.

The website carried a photo of Van with the figure of his wife, which is still in his home.

The father of seven said neighbours did not dare visit the house for several years.

"I'm a person that does things differently. I'm not like normal people," he was quoted as saying.

"Not like normal people?" No (ahem) kidding, Sherlock.

Just as weird as this story is (if it's true - for all I know, this is a joke on everyone who can't read Vietnamese), it's even weirder to those of us who have heard what has been called one of the worst songs (albeit a novelty song) ever recorded: "I Want My Baby Back" by Jimmy Cross, released in 1965. It was a parody of the mini-trend of pop songs in the era about young romances that came to sudden and violent ends ("Teen Angel" by Mark Dinning, "Last Kiss" by Wayne Cochran, and "Leader of The Pack" by The Shangri-Las, among others).

A bit of additional trivia about "I Want My Baby Back": Directing the music behind the singing and narration of Cross were Gil Garfield and Perry Botkin Jr. Botkin later worked behind the scenes as an arranger for such luminaries as Barbra Streisand, Bobby Darin, Carly Simon, and the vastly underrated Maureen McGovern, but is best-known for the song millions hear every weekday: The theme song of the long-running CBS soap opera The Young & The Restless (written with collaborator Barry DeVorzon) which was released as a single in 1976 under the title "Nadia's Theme" and peaked at #8.

If you're still creeped out by the Nam dude, you may want to cleanse your palate by listening to "Nadia's Theme" and watching the great Nadia Comaneci in action.

Saturday, October 17, 2009


So you're an ambitious but barely-talented singer with a voice that gets annoying in large doses. You got away with being cute and playfully naughty early in your career, but your protestations that you were preserving your virginity like a good Christian Southern girl should went up in smoke when your Lotharian ex-boyfriend (who also is a singer with an annoying voice) blew the whistle.

Faced with the fact that there are other pretty singers on the scene popping up regularly, what can you do to stay relevant?

Obvious answer: You act like a you're a whore on stage and in your videos. Stuff like cooing squeaking your uncontrollable desire for some guy while wearing almost nothing and carrying a snake around (get it?). You lock lips with a 40-something woman on national television who is already known worldwide as a whore. Then on your next CD you include a song about pleasuring yourself, even though that's been done before by more accomplished songstresses.

But what if that gets old, you get older, and the talented (some more than others) youngsters keep coming to steal what you believe is rightfully your thunder?

You act like a whore in real life, too -- going out to clubs while your (second) ex-husband cares for your two young children, being very careful to be seen getting out of automobiles wearing a miniskirt and nothing underneath. Soon enough, there is a minimum five-figure bounty on pics of you in states of undress, and breathless paparazzi follow you around as if they were pigeons and you were a leaking bag of bird seed. You capitalize on that by releasing a collection of songs about your hyperdriven notoriety as if this wasn't what you should have known you were cultivating all along.

But now, there's another girl who has become the belle of the ball; not only is she another good Southern girl, she actually cut a Christian pop CD that barely sold any copies. She took a page out of your book, sluttied up her image, changed her last name and became a heroine to teen girls experimenting with lesbianism.

And she is a better singer than you are. She needs just a little bit of computerized sweetening -- she doesn't have to sound like an android to hit the right notes like you do.

What are you going to do to stay on top?

Apparently, this. From

Britney Spears is making the most of her sex symbol status, again. This morning (Sept. 29), the one-time Disney Channel child star whose personal life has at times eclipsed her musical output ["at times??"-LNS], premiered "3," a new single about the pleasures of polyamory, on New York radio station Z-100. The song goes to radio everywhere today and is part of "Britney Spears The Singles Collection," a hits compilation due Nov. 24 on Jive.

Produced by Swedish hitmaker Max Martin (Katy Perry, Kelly Clarkson), "3" finds Spears singing about the racy subject of a ménage a trios (sic) with her signature coy delivery. "Three is a charm, two is not the same," Spears coos seductively on the verse. "I don't see the harm, so are you game?"

Here are some more of the lyrics:

Merrier the more
Triple fun that way
Twister on the floor
What do you ... say?

Are ... you in
Livin' in sin is the new thing (yeah)
Are ... you in
I-I-I-I am countin'!

1, 2, 3
Not only you and me
Got one eighty degrees
And I'm caught in between

1, 2, 3
Peter, Paul & Mary
Gettin' down with 3P
Everybody loves [edited]


Three is a charm
Two is not the same
I don't see the harm
So are you ... game?

Lets' make a team
Make 'em say my name
Lovin' the extreme
Now are you ... game?


What we do is innocent
Just for fun and nothin' meant
If you don't like the company
Let's just do it you and me
You and me...
Or three....
Or four....
- On the floor!

Yeah, that's the stuff. Never mind pussyfooting around with smooching girls while boozing. No silly games of strip poker. You're going for a threesome, and maybe even a foursome! Let's see the newbies top THAT!

Never mind that it's likely that kind of activity (by you and others around you) that has made your life a shambles when you're off stage. You know, your "real" life. The one in which you treated marriage like it was meaningless, made a foolish decision about whom you chose to father your children, which you almost lost due to your literally insane behavior.

Never mind that you're promoting promiscuity as innocent fun. It's not like it hasn't been done before, and besides, you're not responsible for the influence you wield on your devoted fans.

Keep telling yourself that. I mean, it's not like you were influenced by Madonna, or something.

But seriously, can the strategy work? Is making a hit record really as easy as being really, really, really easy?
Looks like it.

"3" has entered Billboard magazine's Hot 100 on top of the chart, making it the first recording NOT featuring an American Idol finalist to achieve #1 in its first week since 1998 ("Doo Wop (That Thing)" by Lauryn Hill, whose CD The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill swept the Grammy Awards).

All this despite the fact that "3" is a crappy record. Even for you.

God only knows what the video will look like.

P.S. to Chris Crocker: No, I won't. Deal with it.


Friday, October 09, 2009


The following is my reaction to San Francisco Chronicle writer Carla Marinucci's whitewashing of that profane outburst against Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (RINO-California) by California State Assemblyman (and former stand-up comedian) Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco), a flamboyant homosexual.

The original comment can be found here,
if it hasn't yet been deleted by a
Chron moderator (who have in the past abused their own TOS to delete posts critical of reporters).


Carla, Carla, Carla, you're a liar.

How dare you call yourself a legitimate journalist and pretend that Tom Ammiano said something as benign as "Kiss my gay ass" when in fact, he said "Kiss my f*ggot ass." Twice. And then he took the podium and dropped the f-bomb. Twice. You didn't even mention that part.

This is how stupid you think your readers are, Carla: You posted the video on your blog that proves you're a liar! You obviously thought nobody would think to click on it and listen (or at the least READ THE CAPTION)!

BTW, don't try to tell us that you couldn't publish the word "f*ggot" in the Chron -- back in March 2007, when Ann Coulter used the slur to make an unfunny joke about Democrat Presidential candidate John Edwards, the word was printed in full. Here's a link to such a story, this one written by a Chron writer you might be familiar with: "Carla Marinucci."

Even worse than lying about what was said is the way you spin it as a tee-hee-hee lighthearted only-in-San Francisco incident: "Looks like a good time was had by all." Yeah, right -- I'm sure you would have been just fine with a South Carolina newspaper laughing off Joe Wilson's "You lie!" shout like that.

Leftitorialists all over the nation were ascribing Wilson's rude outburst to racism and his Southern heritage. Would it be fair, then, to suggest Ammiano was motivated by a desire to systematically destroy the nuclear family?

The NY Times' Maureen Dowd wrote that she "heard" Wilson call Obama "boy." You, Carla, want us to believe you DIDN'T hear Ammiano say "f*ggot." I think you both should either get cochlear implants, or better yet, start only writing about what you actually hear, not what you *wish* you heard!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

INDOCTR-O-NATION CONTINUES IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS - Another Pro-Bama Children's Hymn Revealed

Brian Griffith of Red Maryland has revealed how a Columbia, MD public elementary school had children sing one of those paeans to the greatness of Barack Obama. In response to the revelation, Patti Caplan -- a spokesperson from the school district of Howard County, MD -- issued a terse statement criticizing an unnamed parent for publicly distributing the lyrics of the song, and refused to address criticism of the song as "worshipful" to Obama:

The Howard County Public School System respects the right of individuals to disagree with the words of the song and/or even the use of the song in this context. However, the idea that a public school system would have a “policy” to force students to “worship” the President is so ludicrous it deserves no response.

Oh, it deserves a response. Ms. Caplan only says that it doesn't because she can't possibly provide a response that doesn't lead to more questions.

For example: Caplan asserted earlier in her statement "The focus of the lesson was on the children and positive behavior, not the President. There was no intention or attempt to glorify or worship the President."

Uh huh.

Here's a sample of the lyrics to this song:

"Barack Obama--Oh yes he rates,
The first Black President in the United States!
He's smart and he's--so so good!
He'll lead this country as he should!

He wants us all to work together,
To make this country even better!
Prez' Obama says--'Yes We Can!'
Make the US better--hand in hand!"

It apparently never occurred to the educators involved in approving this song that perhaps the parents of Longfellow Elementary students voted for John McCain, and don't share their enthusiasm for Obama's leadership. Well, they should have; Howard County election records show that of the 667 votes cast at the school on election night 2008, 166 were for the McCain/Palin ticket. At least 24.92% of the people who walked through the doors of Longfellow on election night -- that's nearly one-fourth, for you poor math students -- didn't vote for Obama. Nobody thought that some of those voters might have been parents of Longfellow pupils?

Perhaps the people who conceived of the song just didn't care what the parents think, or thought they could just get away with it because what happens in the classroom usually stays in the classroom. It's not without precedent. On October 9, 2003, the Wall Street Journal's James Taranto made note of an unintended glimpse into the ways some teachers introduce unsuspecting children to agitprop. The October 2003 issue of the journal Teacher described this scene at the U.S. Institute of Peace after a speech by pacifist educator Colman McCarthy to an audience of teachers (bold and emphasis mine):

McCarthy reluctantly wrapped up his speech at the 45-minute mark and was mobbed by several teachers who wanted to buy his books. Another group gathered in the back of the room to discuss what they'd just heard. While agreeing that McCarthy's in-your-face comments wouldn't fly with most school boards or parents, they excitedly talked about how radical pacifist ideas could enliven their own classes.

An elegant-looking teacher in her 40s wandered up and joined the conversation.
The truth, she said conspiratorially, is that when you close your classroom door, you're in charge and there's a lot you can get away with. The others nodded in agreement.

Suddenly, the teacher registered with alarm that a reporter's tape recorder was running. She declared that her comments were off the record and abruptly walked away from the group.
Reconsidering their candor, one by one other teachers in the circle requested that their comments, too, be considered off the record. Peace may have a chance in America's schools. But at least for now, the revolution will not be broadcast.

Once again, Taranto's chronicling of this attitude (which was not a surprise to many of us) was five years ago Friday. A lot has changed in those five years -- Obama was on nobody's radar back then, and now he's The Leader of The Free World. Maybe the broadcast of a revolution is in the works as we speak.

Sunday, October 04, 2009


Details are emerging about David Letterman's sexcapades with women in his employ other than his acknowledged longtime girlfriend Regina Lasko, mother of his now five-year-old son Harry.

CBS News producer Robert J. "Joe" Halderman, the man who was arrested for allegedly attempting to extort $2,000,000 out of Letterman by threatening to write a screenplay detailing uncomfortable aspects of Dave's dalliances, is a former boyfriend of Stephanie Birkett, a former Letterman personal assistant.

I have already gone on record as saying that after watching Letterman going back to my days working graveyard in the eighties, I gave up on him and his show after he became more focused on persecuting George W. Bush than being funny. As things deteriorated to that point, Late Show fans were introduced to Ms. Birkett in an unbelievably lame weekly segment called "Know Your Current Events." The premise: Members of the audience are selected to pretend they know the answer to unknowable questions on the index cards Dave has in his hand. In fact, the guests are simply reading (off camera) the punchlines Dave's writers have provided. Bringing prizes when the attendees correctly answered was Birkett, who would give her best shot at acting, failing miserably every time.

Here is a video of one of Birkett's appearances in "Current Events" circa 2005 via YouTube (It's subtitled by the YT user in Norwegian, or something):

Here's another example of Birkett's show-killing skills, as she re-enacts an embarrassing dance an old college boyfriend of hers used to do. This just cracks Dave up to no end, and he scuttles the planned gag ("Would You Like To [ahem] Eat a Sandwich In Dave's Office?") so viewers can be treated to Birkett and other Late Show regulars imitating her monkey-dancing ex ... again and again and again.

(NOTE: The original clip of this scene -- which ran over five minutes at least -- was deleted from YouTube due to a copyright claim by CBS. Below is a shorter video of the failed bit, still online as of June 3, 2011.)

On the right of the screen is Dr. Louis Aronne, whom Letterman credits with having saved his life by recognizing in him the hereditary heart condition that killed his father at an early age (Letterman has now lived longer than his father had). Within days, Dave had emergency bypass surgery, which sidelined him for weeks in 1999. It's only fitting that Birkett be alongside Dr. Aronne because she is about as funny as a heart attack.

It wasn't always like this with Letterman. Back in his NBC days, he pioneered the formula: Find non-professionals and/or crew members with no training as performers (at least, none discernible), give them the opportunity to make fools of themselves, and enjoy the results. Just thinking about the past work of Dave's stage manager Biff Henderson and associate director Pete "Who Gives a Rat's ..." Fatovich gives me the chuckles. Of course, the anti-superstar of Letterman's early years was the late Calvert DeForest (aka Larry "Bud" Melman), the bespectacled, elderly, pudgy drug counselor whose appearance in a short student film led to an acting career -- sort of -- in his twilight years.

Beating Letterman at his own game nowadays is Jimmy Kimmel, whose Jimmy Kimmel Live! show makes great use of the broken English of Guillermo Diaz, his lovably dorky Mexican parking lot attendant. Unlike many professional comedians nowadays (hello, Jay Leno), Guillermo is unafraid to go to great lengths for a laugh, always up for dressing in outlandish costumes or in drag.

But even Guillermo pales before Kimmel's real-life uncle, former NYPD officer Frank Potenza, who may be the unintentionally funniest man alive.

I am sure many who find Birkett uninspiring (to say the least) might be tempted to say something along the lines of "We know how she got to be on TV," and I can't argue that it's an unfair question. But the possibility that human Clinton-joke factory Letterman has a casting couch somewhere in the Ed Sullivan Theatre is not as big a deal to me as his apparent decision years ago that his personal satisfaction is more important than the quality of his product. In other words, Dave has shown contempt for his audience: I'll plop anything on a plate, call it "comedy," and you dummies will lap it up because it has my name on it.

It is that attitude has led to the rapid cooling-off of many a hot comedian (Jerry Lewis, Chevy Chase, Keenan Ivory Wayans, Jim Carrey, Robin Williams, etc.) It is yet to be seen if a sexy scandal (as opposed to a full-fledged Woody Allen-like sex scandal) can fell a funnyman in post-Polanski Hollywood.


P.S. For all the praise Dave has lavished on his glamorous female guests over the decades, it's seems that in real life, he tends to prefer his women (Merrill Markoe, Regina Lasko, Birkitt) to be on the plain side. FWIW.


Saturday, September 12, 2009


To the surprise of nobody who is paying attention, tonight actress/writer Tina Fey won a 2009 Primetime Emmy Award (Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series) for her portrayal on Saturday Night Live of her doppelganger, former Alaska Governor and GOP Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin.

IMHO, Fey's victory was a foregone conclusion before the nominations were even released. While her performance was skillful and spirited, the key component of its impact was not Fey's talent, it was the fact that her demeaning lampoon of Governor Palin crossed over from the entertainment world into the nightly newscasts. Fey's turns as a clueless caricature of Palin -- aided greatly by the uncanny physical resemblance between the two -- largely became the commonly-repeated narrative among the general public still learning about Palin, taking the place of Palin's rapid and unlikely rise from PTA volunteer to Mayor of Wasilla, AK, to Alaska Oil & Gas Conservation Commissioner to Governor of America's largest state.

An illustration of how Fey's negative Palin impersonation overtook reality can be seen in the 2009 documentary Media Malpractice: How Obama Got Elected and Palin Was Targeted, produced by radio talkhost John Ziegler. What became that film began with Ziegler setting up a camera up outside a polling place on Election Day 2008. He invited people who had just finished voting for the Obama/Biden ticket questions a reasonably well-informed citizen would know. The topics: The balance of power in Washington, the leadership and power-brokers of the political parties, and historical information about the candidates for President and Vice President. Ziegler also asked where they got the bulk of their news.

This is the result.

To counter accusations from a chorus of leftist bloggers that he had cherry-picked the responses seen in his video, Ziegler commissioned a third party --respected poll organization Zogby International -- to determine how informed Obama voters actually were.

The results were shocking. From the Zogby site, published November 18, 2008:

Obama voters did not fare [] well overall when asked to answer questions about statements or stories associated with Obama or Biden -- 83% failed to correctly answer that Obama had won his first election by getting all of his opponents removed from the ballot, and 88% did not correctly associate Obama with his statement that his energy policies would likely bankrupt the coal industry. Most (56%) were also not able to correctly answer that Obama started his political career at the home of two former members of the Weather Underground.

It's already legendary how the mainstream media cast aside its cynicism and investigative instinct and openly cheered for a historic Obama victory, and that's reflected in the ignorance about chinks in Shining Knight Obama's armor. When it came to questions about Palin, the story was different. The overwhelming majority of folks surveyed knew all the negative stuff about her.

Even negative stuff that wasn't true.

Ninety-four percent of Obama voters correctly identified Palin as the candidate with a pregnant teenage daughter, 86% correctly identified Palin as the candidate associated with a $150,000 wardrobe purchased by her political party, and 81% chose McCain as the candidate who was unable to identify the number of houses he owned. When asked which candidate said they could "see Russia from their house," 87% chose Palin, although the quote actually is attributed to Saturday Night Live's Tina Fey during her portrayal of Palin during the campaign...

As I noted in my previous blog entry inspired by David Letterman's disgusting remarks about Palin's daughter(s), it would be an understatement to say that Barack Obama has gotten an a free pass from serious, stinging satire. Saturday Night Live's writers are no different from their gag-writing brethren in their eggshell walk through Barack Obama's candidacy and Presidency. Even as BHO's approval rating sank to below 50% in some polls recently, almost no TV comedy shows can bear to treat him as they did George W. Bush when his numbers took a similar downturn. But according to the Zogby results, Fey's Palin did more than make viewers laugh; it made (ahem) underinformed people think -- knowingly or not -- they were being seriously instructed about Palin's true nature.

This was not lost on some anti-Palin people. Once again, ABC Sports reporter Suzy Shuster's open letter to Tina Fey in her column at the Huffington Post, published September 23, 2008:

[...] From the Friday before the skit on SNL aired to the following Tuesday, Palin’s approval rating dropped ten points. Coincidence? I think not. After all, people in this country are tending to be more influenced by who or what they see on entertainment television, more so than on broadcast news or in print. Americans tune into Jon Stewart for their political appetites more than ever (and why not). So when you, Ms. Fey, don your Palin wig, you influence millions of voters more than Charles (”Charlie”) Gibson or Brian Williams, Paul Begala or that anorexic blond McCain spokeswoman ever could.

And I think its your responsibility to do so, or else we face the consequence of a woman in the White House who would strive to take away your daughter Alice’s right to choose along with every other woman’s in this country.

Most of us who read the Post are already scared out of our wits of what this woman could “accomplish,” should she reach the Vice Presidency or beyond. Abortion outlawed even in the case of incest or rape. Global warming research dismissed. Polar bears left unprotected, not to mention moose murder celebrated.

But you, Ms. Fey, have the ability, with just a wink and a smirk, to change the minds of millions of casual viewers and even more casual voters, to educate them.

[...M]any swing-state voters get their information and cue from you, Ms. Fey, and you need to provide as much of it as one woman possibly can, before the election is upon us and it is too late.

Comedy can cure and comedy can enlighten, but it must be a constant to reach enough ears to change the hearts and minds of this country, Ms. Fey, and not a minute more can afford to be wasted. So smear on your lipstick, get that slightly crazy look on your face, sharpen your No. 2 shotgun and get to work…

That's what made Fey a shoo-in from the moment she stood alongside Amy Poehler doing her impressive Hillary impression: It was a cathartic moment for Hollywood's overwhelmingly leftist creative community, the people who do the voting for the Emmy Awards. Most of you don't need a Weatherman to know which way the wind blows when it comes to politics in La-La Land (or, for that matter, "Live from New York!"): Among the glitteratti, Republicans aren't popular at all.

But if you are in need more evidence of that fact, consider what happened in January 2009 at the last Golden Globe Awards ceremony, when there was an award (Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television) given to different actress for her insulting portrayal of another conservative woman slimed by the left as a menace to society. I'm talking, of course, about former GOP Congresswoman Katherine Harris, who was the Secretary of State of Florida in 2000.

It was SoS Harris that stood up for the rule of Florida law against Democrat Party demands that she refuse to certify the pivotal Florida victory of GWB over Al Gore. Saturday Night Live had a lot of fun trashing Harris at the time, but that was nothing compared to the outrageous whacking she took from scenery chewing hack-tress Laura Dern in HBO's Recount, a laughably partisan imagination of the dramatic days between Election Night 2000 up to the Bush vs. Gore Supreme Court decision that affirmed Bush had been legally elected President.

Here's a representative sample of Dern's shameful mocking of Harris:

Now, witness the towering intellect of Ms. Dern on display in the post-ceremony photo session and press conference, in which she gladly received two questions demeaning Governor Palin (and gushed like a schoolgirl about the "real" Michelle Obama):

In the interest of full disclosure, I must note that defying my bold prediction, the Emmy voters for the 2008 season did not award Laura Dern the Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie trophy. The winner was Dame Eileen Atkins (who?) for Cranford, a BBC production (I never heard of it either). However, Recount director Jay Roach -- who replaced Academy Award-winning filmmaker Sydney Pollack (Out of Africa, Tootsie, etc.) when the latter took ill with the case of stomach cancer that would take his life -- won a shocking victory over odds-on favorite Tom Hooper, director of the blockbuster miniseries John Adams.

Pollack died the morning after Recount made its May 25, 2008 debut on HBO. But for all its firepower with its all-star cast (Kevin Spacey, Tom Wilkinson, Bob Balaban, Ed Begley Jr., Denis Leary, John Hurt, and Dern), the viewing public didn't give a rat-tail comb seven and a half years later. Recount drew approximately one million viewers that night, a woeful showing for an HBO movie promoted as heavily as it was. It's likely more people watched The O'Reilly Factor. America at large has long gotten over Florida. Hollywoodniks still haven't, and have shown no sign they will any time soon.

BTW, don't be too surprised if Tina Fey takes more golden statuettes home. She's up for her own sitcom 30 Rock for acting, writing and producing an Outstanding Comedy Series nominee. As was proved by the slathering of undeserved glory given the Dixie Chicks at the Grammys in 2007, the Show-cialists aren't above valuing politics over performance.


P.S.: In my previous post quoting Ms. Shuster, I called her "proudly ill-informed." What else could one say about someone who notes the significant percentage of the American public that gets its news from Jon Stewart by saying "why not?" Apparently, such a responsible approach to newsgathering has led Suzy to believe there is a basis for her suggestion that President Palin could somehow have "outlawed" abortion. In reality, no President has the power to do such a thing. Shuster's hysterical charge (can I say that?) is reminiscent of Cameron Diaz's 2004 plea to female Oprah viewers to vote (Democrat) if they didn't want to see rape become legal.

No, I didn't make that up.

If Shuster knew a maddog thing about Roe vs. Wade, she would know that abortion was not outlawed throughout the nation before that fateful day in 1973 and would not be in the event that Roe was overturned. On the other hand, perhaps Ms. Shuster is fully aware of that fact, and just intended to scare the living daylights out of her libertine friends who mistakenly think the legal right to abortion infanticide of the pre-cute could end with a stroke of a pen or a single slam of a gavel.

About the celebration of "moose murder" and "polar bears left unprotected," only Shuster herself knows what the devil she's blathering on about. And they call Palin crazy!

Sunday, August 30, 2009


At left is the handiwork of Politics Daily writer Christopher Weber, who on the morning of August 1, 2009 dutifully carbon-copied unsourced, anonymous and detailed rumors suggesting that Sarah and Todd Palin were headed for divorce.

I was formulating my second comment on the thread when I hit "Preview" and discovered the article had been flushed down The Memory Hole by Politics Daily. Fortunately, I had the screen still active in another tab of my browser. Sorry, Christopher Weber, the plunger will do you no good -- it's here to stay, to your everlasting shame.

Meghan Stapleton, Sarah Palin's official spokesperson, smacked down the rumor with great prejudice within hours. Strangely, she has been chided (along with her boss) by's Jonathan Martin and other MSM figures because she, it is implied, unnecessarily stooped to respond to totally baseless rumors that the former Governor of Alaska was leaving her husband of two decades.

You see, the leftist, media elitist Palin critics -- the same ones that had trouble containing their hot-and-runny enthusiasm for the candidacy and election of Barack Obama -- don't appreciate being "bashed." They act as if they are perpetually blameless, and complain that she is unfairly tarring responsible "journalists" by saying they are in the habit of "making things up" about her. Their defense is, in part, that she is in reality responding to less-reputable non-professional sources, and lumping professionals in among them.

Here's how Martin put it in a supposed hard news story from Saturday, August 1, 2009 titled "Sarah Palin beats press to blog claim":

By having her spokeswoman repeat the charges to rebut them in a public form (sic), Palin effectively guaranteed coverage from the mainstream media that otherwise would not report claims attributed to unnamed sources on an anonymous blog.

Last month, just after announcing that she would resign, Palin similarly had her attorney issue a stinging letter threatening news organizations with defamation lawsuits if they reported on blog rumors that she was facing federal indictment. In doing so, Palin’s attorney recounted in detail the issue at the center of the accusations – that as Wasilla mayor she embezzled money from the construction of a town sports arena. Until the letter, the rumor had been confined to blogs. (Justice Department officials subsequently said there was no investigation.)

Going public with denials of these sort of charges may represent an odd sort of preemptive defense.

Maybe it's "odd" to a longtime Washington writer, but to this longtime news consumer, not so much. What is so strange about rooting out the chaff from the wheat before the public can't tell the difference? After all, in the thick of 2008 Presidential campaign, Mr. Martin (along with his Politico colleague Ben Smith) wasn't at all critical of the Obama campaign when it first took direct action against viral emails alleging that the then-freshman Senator was either Muslim, unpatriotic, or foreign-born.

From The Politico, May 21, 2008:

The main obstacle standing between Barack Obama and the White House was distilled into five words by a local television correspondent in South Charleston, W.Va., earlier this month.

Prefacing a question about the challenges of winning over white, blue-collar voters, the reporter offered this observation: “They think you are un-American,” he said.

Such questions, asked by reporters and plainly on the minds of voters in Appalachia and elsewhere, are the fruits of an unprecedented, subterranean e-mail campaign.

What began as a demonstrably false attempt to cast Obama as a Muslim has now metastasized into something far more threatening to the likely Democratic nominee. The spurious claims about his faith have spiraled into a broader assault that questions his patriotism and citizenship and generally portrays him as a threat to mainstream, white America.


[T]his [anti-Obama smear campaign] would be a shameful but largely irrelevant mark on this historic election but for one thing: Voters widely and repeatedly cite information that has been gleaned directly or indirectly from the e-mails to explain why they won’t support Obama.

It seems that Martin & Smith and their media brethren felt compelled to take action to debunk, disprove, and expose (and perhaps malign) spreaders of internet inaccuracies about Obama. On the other hand, when it came to the sliming of Sarah Palin, they felt they were acting professionally and responsibly by simply by refusing to relay the lies, leaving it (for the most part) to the McCain campaign to play Whack-a-Smear all by itself. And now, more than a year later, Palin is not supposed to be preventing people from "cit[ing] information that has been gleaned directly or indirectly from the e-mails" slandering her.

Perhaps Mr. Martin can explain what is "odd" about Palin's recent aggressive strategy, since this latest malicious divorce rumor would be far from the first time scurrilous, sensational Web rumors and/or grievous factual errors about Palin and her family crossed over into the world of professional "journalism."

The most famous example of how web-borne anti-Palin propaganda leached into "legitimate" news is the way ABC News anchor Charles Gibson, in his ballyhooed first in-depth TV interview with the newly-crowned Vice Presidential candidate aired September 11, 2008, falsely suggested that Palin might believe that the Iraq War was -- in his words, not hers --"a holy war."

Below are video evidence of how The Big "Task From God" Lie went from the Internet to the MSM to right in front of Sarah Palin's face, with Charles Gibson demanding she explain why she said something she never said, and how ABC News covered up how it was duped into believing it.

Here is the way ABC News first presented this portion of the full interview on the September 11, 2008 edition of ABC World News with Charles Gibson:

NOTE: The full transcript of that part of the Gibson interview revealed that Palin rightly disputed he was quoting her correctly. ABC News either knew or should have known by World News' air time 9/11/08 that Gibson's characterization of her remarks was deceptive, but ran that portion of the eagerly-anticpated interview anyway.

Giving Gibson the benefit of the doubt that he did NOT deliberately attempt to smear the Governor or edit the video to distort her meaning, he at the very least had fallen for a deceptively-edited YouTube video of her June 2008 appearance at a commencement ceremony at Wasilla Assembly of God church. That video clip is used to this day by Obama supporters to bolster other dubious anecdotes to portray Palin as a "bible thumper" who would -- should she become President -- wage "holy war" based on her personal interpretation of God's will (a hysterical charge made against every Republican Commander-in-Chief since Reagan).

Here is the original video of her statement, in context, followed by my verbatim transcript:

“My oldest, my son Track, he's a soldier in the United States Army now, he's an infantryman. And, uh, and so Track sends his love also, to his former nanny, Christie (sp?). And Track -- Pray for our military! He's going to be deployed in September to Iraq. Pray for our military men and women, who are striving to do what is right. Also, for this country, that our leaders, our national leaders, are sending them out on a task that is from God. That’s what we have to make sure that we’re praying for, that there is a plan and that that plan is God’s plan. And so, bless them with your prayers, your prayers of protection over our soldiers."

To any intelligent, intellectually honest observer, it's crystal clear that Palin was taking a moment out of her planned remarks to the graduates to request prayers to God to 1) protect American soldiers in Iraq, and 2) to "also" guide the decisions of the nation's leaders in Washington. No honest interpretation of her words suggests that Palin was in her remarks endorsing the Iraq War as "a holy war." But that ridiculous idea was promoted from Net Natterings to Important Issue before a national TV audience by none other than NBC anchor Brian Williams.

Here's video evidence of that fact. The video goes over ground covered above because it is cross-posted on YouTube, and the details are new to folks who haven't read this blog entry.

(NOTE: This video contains scenes from John Ziegler's 2009 documentary Media Malpractice: How Obama Got Elected and Palin Was Targeted, available on DVD at

Joe Klein's inaccurate claim that Palin "tried to ban books" in Wasilla's Public Library was traced to a solitary emailer -- an anti-Palin Wasilla resident -- and it got embellished as it was retold in "Telephone Game" fashion until a lengthy list of books Palin supposedly wanted removed from the shelves criss-crossed the web. The rumor started losing steam when it was pointed out that the "ban list" contained books published AFTER Palin's terms in Wasilla ended.

The Wall Street Journal's James Taranto had all the debunking details by the morning of September 9, nearly a week after Palin's blockbuster acceptance speech. By that time, Joe Klein & Brian Williams had lent credence to the tall tale before millions of NBC News watchers and whichever concerned (yet gullible) folks were activated by it.

So for Jonathan Martin and all those who suggest that Sarah Palin was actually spreading the divorce rumor further and faster than "legitimate" news sources would have allowed, here are the facts (as if you didn't know): Palin news is gold. It spreads like wildfire regardless of the gravitas of the source. Everybody seems to have a desire to either report or opine about her, professionals and amateurs alike. This is not limited to the National Enquirer & Us Weekly crowd, as much as a lot of reports regarding her belong there; "hard" news loves Sarah Palin just as much because she stirs up passion, positive or negative. That translates into magazine and newspaper sales and web traffic. To wit: For most of the month of July, the front page of had a "Sarah Palin" link right next to its "Michael Jackson" link. That's right, next to the late King of Pop. Not bad for someone that -- according to conventional wisdom -- is a has-been that nobody serious took seriously.

If Mr. Martin from The Politico wants to argue that a story in Politics Daily (operated by America Online, America's third-largest Internet Provider) isn't the same as if it was in, say, The Politico, he should consider -- or, to be more precise, acknowledge -- that since AOL's MediaGlow division introduced Politics Daily in April, its readership has shot like a rocket past that of The Politico.

Here's analysis from ComScore, published on June 20, 2009. Click to enlarge and look at the chart. See the red line? That's the readership of dating back to May 2008. It's like a roller coaster, peaking in late October 2008 at about 2.4 million unique views, and sliding down after the November election to slightly over the million view-level since then. Now, take a look at that blue line all the way to the right of the chart. THAT is Politics Daily, and its trajectory is like a rocket, zooming up to 2.4 million in less than two months. Based on that information, it is possible that more people read Politics Daily writer Christopher Weber's shameful re-routing of the blog-borne Palin divorce rumors (before it was deleted later that afternoon) than Martin's half-hearted quashing of the rumor on The Politico.

Probably even more read the of the divorce fantasy via Jeanne Devon (aka AK Muckraker), a rabid anti-Palin blogger cross-posted on the (inexplicably) popular Huffington Post. Devon was one of those Alaska bloggers who published promises that Palin's resignation would eventually be proved to be due to that apocryphal Federal investigation into embezzlement by the Palins. No less an authority than the FBI ended those rumors by saying there was no truth to them and that the Palins were and are NOT under investigation. This time around, Devon did publish Stapleton's complete and categorical denial of the divorce rumor, but she pretended it was only partial.

The tech revolution that makes every individual a potential journalist -- or, at the least, a widely-read writer -- cuts the old news source/news consumer paradigm with a two-edged sword. When you sign on to the Wild Wild Web, you might find yourself the beneficiary of a private individual who scoops the entire world (a la Matt Drudge's tip on The Lewinsky Affair, or the Iranian Tweeters) or the victim of someone who goes off half-cocked and hits "send" too early (Drudge falsely claiming Clinton staffer Sidney Blumenthal was arrested for domestic violence, false Tweets that actor Jeff Goldblum died). Remember that most people heard about the death of Michael Jackson from, which was the first to confirm it, but weeks later, TMZ falsely confirmed that the alive-and-well "mixed martial arts" fighter Kimo Leopoldo had died.

(For a thorough decimation of the haters' sewerful of lies about Palin, there's only one place to go:

The democratization of publishing that began with Johannes Gutenberg's loosening the grip of the clergy on the Holy Bible has now diluted the traditional monoliths' authority as news sources. There once was a time when there was the newspaper, there was television, and there was the Internet, and never the three would meet. No more. Print and video have given way to the modern miracle of the Internet, and must be assimilated to assure their survival in a hypercompetitive market. Because all the news now comes out of the same pipeline as malicious mendacities penned by bilious bloggers, what was once was easily dismissed by most as mere gossip is accepted by too many as pure gospel.

Mark Twain is credited with saying that that "A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes." Ponder the fact that during most of Twain's existence, the fastest communication medium was the telegraph! Maybe Mr. Martin thinks it only sporting to grant the Palinphobes a head start. Governor Palin -- that is, Mrs. Palin, current and future --has little left to lose at present, and has no problem rewarding those charging from the blocks before the starter's pistol with a warning shot of her own. Get used to the sound, Mr. Martin -- Click, click! BOOM!

Lest someone think that the failures of uncredentialed web scrawlers is a case for the continued dominance of the self-righteous J-schoolers of the media titans, not so fast. Walter Cronkite has passed away, but even before his heart stopped beating, the concept of an individual being deemed "The Most Trusted Man in America" beat him to his grave. The general public has no handbook giving them guidance as to which information source out of the new myriads are believable and which are not. Such a publication would have come in handy when weeding out the Charles Foster Kane-era "Remember the Maine" reports from Hearst newspapers, Walter Duranty's Pulitzer-winning Potemkin Village reports for the New York Times, Janet Cooke's Pulitzer-winning fictional pre-teen smack addict story for the Washington Post, Stephen Glass's amazing tales of conservative decadence and idiocy for The New Republic, and Jayson Blair's NYT eyewitness reportage by "remote viewing." "The news" is now more than ever unworthy of being consumed so thoughtlessly.

Even if there was such a handbook, it likely wouldn't have prepared the public in 2004 for CBS News' living legend Dan Rather (and its signature broadcast 60 Minutes) using forged Texas Air National Guard documents to smear President George W. Bush a month-and-a-half before Election Day. The last thing that idyllic guide would have done is predict that Free Republic -- a commonly-condemned "right-wing" news forum -- would expose Rather and CBS News, leading eventually to his resignation in disgrace, and causing damage to the CBS brand that endures to this day.

Watch yourself, Jonathan Martin. You don't want to be the next Dan Rather. Ask Christopher Weber.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


I gave in to the rave reviews and checked out Mad Men in episode three of last season and was hooked by its multilayered characters, its authentic sixties look and its glimpse into the offices and boardrooms, complete with no-we're-not-going-to-catch-you-up shop talk. The inclusion of Robert Morse, who burst on the scene four decades ago as the archetypal sixties' corporate climber in the musical How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying, was inspired casting.

I had high hopes for the third season, and while they haven't been exactly dashed, let's just put it this way: Starting pitcher Matthew Weiner (series creator and sole writer of Sunday's episode) wasn't properly warmed up, and had a rough first inning. Really rough. There's plenty of time left in the game, but the home team has to rally -- the sooner the better.


I had to hit "Replay" on my DVR at least a dozen times to figure out what the Sam Hill was going on with Don/Dick's flashback, which wasn't really a flashback because he wasn't around to view his own accidental conception and birth. I mean, what is, this, The Dead Zone?

Think that months of preparing to be a father for the third time by a woman who took him back after a disgraceful affair might have tempered Don's passion for illicit flings? Apparently not. On a short trip to Baltimore, he gives in to a beautiful but bimbonic stewardess with the subtlety of a steamroller. He doesn't seem to be conflicted for even a second until she confesses in her soused state that she's engaged. Might Don put on the brakes as well? If he even tapped them, he then hit the gas in telling her it's his birthday. Then she gets into her birthday suit.

The cringe when we were shown a second of viewing a stillborn child was nothing compared to the never-ending makeout scene with Sal and The Bellboy With Industrial-Strength Gaydar. "Aw geez, here it is over yet? Ahhh! ... Oh, for crying out loud! ... Ewwww! ... Make it stop!" Thank goodness for that fire alarm! Talk about "saved by the bell!" But Don and his hostess hottie escape through the window (Huh? Was that SOP back then?) and somehow, he knows just where the window in Sal's room is from the outside. Holy Wee Willie Winkie, Batman! Was it that easy to be a Peeping Tom back then?

That situation does bring up a bit of intrigue, since Don already knew Sal's secret. But, how does he actually handle the knowledge of what Sal was up to in his hotel room? In the early sixties, is Don such a libertine that he thinks nothing of it? Evidently. When Sal thinks the boom is going to be lowered on him (whatever implications that might have), it just turns out Don is simply pitching his concept for a print ad. Or is he? Time to hit the replay button again! "Limit your exposure" -- is that some sort of code?

Well, I guess. But then the ad Don pitched is drawn up by Sal and he gets compliments for it as if it is genius. IMHO, it stinks! How is a young woman flashing on a subway car supposed to sell raincoats? It doesn't make any sense at all, which is very un-Don Draper, and very un-Mad Men.

(Also un-Mad Men is the inclusion of contemporary expressions in a show set two full generations ago. I want to know when the word "gynocracy" was first recorded in print. Somehow, I doubt it was during the Kennedy Administration.)

It all had the feel of the pique of political outrage in Hollywood borne out of the placing of Proposition 8 (the same-sex marriage repeal) on the California ballot, which seemed to inspire the creators of Boston Legal and The New Adventures of Old Christine to marry their main characters to their best friends. Prop 8 passed, of course, and it looks like the first thing on Weiner's agenda was to do as much as he could for the cause within Mad Men's retro framework. He will probably get away with that self-indulgence with critics and industry insiders, since Weiner can do no wrong to them; the highly-acclaimed but low-rated reigning Best Drama Series is lined up for more Emmy trophies next go-round than any other program. How unsuspecting, uninitiated first-time viewers will react may be a different story.

P.S. As much as I enjoy Mad Men, I believe Breaking Bad is a superior show. It kills me that while FOUR episodes of Mad took up all but one of the writing nominations for a drama series, John Shiban didn't get an Emmy nod for his screenplay for the Breaking episode "Peek-a-Boo," which made the latest TV Guide "100 Greatest Episodes Ever" list and is one of the most magnificent hours of television I have ever witnessed.

P.P.S.: Click here to see what the President of the United States and Don Draper have in common: Barack Obama: 'Mad Man' With a Tan

Friday, July 24, 2009

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Tiger Woods? Or Michelle Wie?

This is my reaction to a Patterico's Pontifications comment in this thread on the topic of what is acceptable commentary on the brief arrest of Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates on charges of disorderly conduct by Cambridge, MA police. In his July 23, 2009 press conference pushing for universal health care, President Obama said the police "acted stupidly."

voiceofreason2 wrote:

The most disappointing thing for me about Obama is the lost opportunity he had to really bridge some of the gaps in our racially sensitive society. Had he focused on the fact that he is biracial and been willing to acknowledge that all racial groups have bad apples whose behavior is not acceptable he would have won me over.

Contrast him with Tiger Woods who has been notably absent in the “national dialog” on race because it is just not that important to him. He accomplished his feats through hard work and perserverance and is a good role model for anyone.

Here’s what I wrote about Tiger Woods — and tennis’ emerging stars, Venus & Serena Williams — back in September 2000:

I wasted about a year rooting against Tiger Woods because I thought that if he was as successful as he has turned out to be, he and his father Earl would do for golf what the Williams family has done for tennis: make it a racial battleground on which everyone who doesn’t cheer their in-your-face attitude is suspected — or flat out accused — of being a bigot…


[Tiger] has gained the admiration and respect of his peers not just because of his extraordinary talent, but because of his classiness … [On] his way up, he never engaged in the Williamsian taunting of the game’s reigning players, and his talk about his chances for winning whatever tournament he was in never seemed like an attempt at chest-beating intimidation — not when he would time and time again back up what he said by winning as he predicted.

It is my belief that had it not been for Tiger Woods, Obama wouldn’t have become President. I am incapable of proving it, but I am sure that if you hooked up Obama’s mentors and imagemakers to a sodium pentathol drip, they would admit their “high concept” of his candidacy took into consideration the admiration and respect the articulate, tall, half-black, and nearly unflappable Woods has generated for himself across not only America, but the entire planet.

Here’s the problem: Barack Obama isn’t Tiger Woods. Woods’ raw talent garnered multi-million dollar endorsements which he parlayed into a billion dollar empire (and a $30 million dollar charitable foundation) by first meeting and then far exceeding all reasonable expectations.

Obama is more like his putative fellow Honolulu native Michelle Wie.

Since she was ten years old, Wie was heavily promoted as The Female Tiger, bound to shatter gender barriers the way Woods did racial ones. In 2005 — having not won a tournament in two-and-a-quarter years — the statuesque Wie, after turning pro at the tender age of 15 on the strength of her otherworldly 300-yard-long tee shots, was handed an approximate 22 million in endorsement cash. Instantly, she was one of the world’s richest teenagers. But as golf fans know, the game isn’t just about hitting the ball far away, it’s about hitting it into a four-and-a-quarter inch diameter hole far away, which is harder. Compounding her obstacles were her ambitious parents, who allowed her to pursue her folly of entering men's tournaments rather than going against other women. She not only never credibly competed for a title in her attempts to beat men, she made a cut only once, finishing at or near the bottom several times. Wie did enter some major LPGA events, but only contended for a win one time. Accomplished female pros were either silent or supportive at first, but as Wie continued to blow off women’s tournaments only to bring up the rear battling the men, they grew weary of the way she sucked all the air out of the small room reserved for them. Neither did they appreciate her treatment of the women’s tour as being almost irrelevant. All of this, mind you, while getting paid more than any female individual athlete in history who hadn’t won a darn thing.

Now, the irrelevant one is Michelle Wie. While the sports world’s cameras were focused on the supposed future of women’s golf shanking, bogeying, and losing against men, other young ladies were actually, y’know, winning on the LPGA tour. Paula Creamer won a tourney the age of 18 years, 11 days, and Morgan Pressel took a major LPGA event at 18/313. This year, finally concentrating solely on the women’s tour, the improving yet winless Wie will turn 20 in October, too old to be worthy of the years of hype and dozens of millions of dollars. That’s money and attention she’s never going to see again unless she rallies and becomes the greatest golfer in history. But thusfar, she hasn’t proved she’s capable of overcoming her mistakes.

That’s where Obama is now. He’s been treated as if he’s the Tiger Woods of Presidents. But he’s sliced himself into a trillion dollar sand trap, and will be have to be extremely lucky to save par.

Who wants to take that bet?