16 September 2007

There's something about Debat

"Alexis Debat is a strange character, with a resume that changes depending on who he is talking to."

"For six years Alexis Debat, who falsely claimed to have earned a PhD at the Sorbonne and worked as an adviser to the French defence ministry, operated as an expert on national security in the world of Washington thinktanks, US network television and French intellectual journals."

16 January 2007

Sen. Barack Obama explores the inevitable

Sen. Barack Obama announced today that his exploratory committee is fueled up and ready to roll. The rumor mill was churning with news that Obama would announce his decision to run for president on the Oprah Winfrey show later this week.

Fortunately, Obama took his message directly to the people with a videotaped message posted on his Web site. The Washington Post reports that Obama is in Washington today and has no public appearances planned.

True to Obama form, it appears that the Senator will let his Internet statement speak for itself and allow the media to carry his message and wring their hands for a while. Obama says he will say more on Feb. 10 in Illinois.

His strategy is PR gold. Obama's less-is-more style is sure to resonate with voters who are accustomed to having even their spin spun. If he paces himself properly and continues to state the obvious, I would advise the GOP and even old-school Dems to stand clear.

The Bush administration's misteps and the people's lack of faith may result in a powerful shift that will have re-invigorated voters telling masters of the status quo, "don't let the pendulum hit you in the ass on your way out."

-Casey Cavalier, Arrivals & Departures

,, , ,

16 February 2006

English: I wish I knew how to quit you! - - - - - - - French: Si seulement je pouvais te quitter

Translating English into French can be tricky. Turning the vernacular (especially cowboy speech) into French must have been quite a challenge for the people working to dub Brokeback Mountain. Follow this link to see the French language preview for Le Secret De Brokeback Mountain."

Follow along with this guide to three famous Brokeback quotes:

"If you can't fix it, you got to stand it."
Si tu ne peaux rien y changer, fault t'y faire.

"I wish I knew how to quit you!"
Si seulement je pouvais te quitter!

"It's nobody's business but ours."
Ce ne regarde que nous

, , , , , , , ,

13 February 2006

Madison: "I Hate Valentine's Day"

Bennett Madison, who says Valentine's Day causes stress, poses in New York on Friday, February 10, 2006. Madison has spent a lot of time thinking about this. In fact, he's written a book, too. It's called 'I Hate Valentine's Day.' (AP Photo/Jim Cooper)

28 January 2006

Everything is Beautiful to Designer John Galliano

I am not fashionable and don't attend many fashion shows. But, if I were such a chap I would have sold my soul to have seen John Galliano's spring/summer 2006 collection presented in Paris last October.

I ran into some photos and video of the show on British Vogue's Web site. For all of the grief people give models and the fashion industry this was a show that asserted "Everything is Beautiful." Contrasting pairs of real people in all shapes and sizes made this an interesting concept. It seems the show was well received and I doubt that anything quite like it will ever happen again. It had an Argentinian-Old Cinema-Cirque du Fellini sort of vibe. Clever!

(Check the photos and if you want to watch the video keep in mind that you can advance it if you want to skip to the actual show.)

13 January 2006

Wal-Mart benefits formula drains Medicaid funds

Maryland's Senate voted Thursday to enact a first-in-the-nation requirement that Wal-Mart Stores Inc. spend more on employee health care despite the governor's veto of the legislation. The measure, touted as a money-saver for Medicaid, now goes to the House for a vote. At least 30 state legislatures are considering similar bills.

08 January 2006

Larry King and Andy Rooney on Katie Couric (figuratively)

Should this woman deliver the news? (right)

LARRY KING interviewed ANDY ROONEY recently. They discussed, among other things, CBS executives' dream to plant KATIE COURIC at the CBS News anchor desk (you know, the desk that WALTER CRONKITE sat behind for 19 years?) As the CNN transcript proves, Rooney had a much better idea.

KING: No, OK. Who is going to replace Schieffer?

ROONEY: Well, maybe Schieffer, you know, he's embarrassing the hell out of CBS.

KING: He's doing good.

ROONEY: The ratings keep going up. And they keep talking about replacing him for somebody. I mean, you know, they're talking about giving Katie Couric $20 million. I say take that $20 million you could buy 40 reporters, 40 new reporters. You could give them each $250,000.

I mean, there are hundreds of reporters who would jump at getting $250,000. So take that $20 million don't give to it Katie. Give it to a bunch of reporters and make CBS news the best news report in the world.

KING: Have them everywhere.

ROONEY: Have them everywhere. Open up the bureaus we used to have in Buenos Aires and Warsaw, Poland. We used to have them everywhere. Open those up again with that $20 million. Katie will be all right without it.

KING: And keep Schieffer?

ROONEY: Keep Schieffer, of course.

07 January 2006

Bush calls great political minds to WH...and listens to them for 5 to 10 minutes?

"But if it was a bipartisan consultation, as advertised by the White House, it was a brief one. Mr. Bush allowed 5 to 10 minutes for interchange with the group - which included three veterans of the Vietnam era...before herding the whole group into the Oval Office for what he called a 'family picture.'

But a lot of bitterness remains, and several of the former cabinet members invited on Thursday observed that Mr. Bush had waited more than 1,000 days into the war in Iraq - and after many mistakes had been made - to gather together the men and one woman who once held their own skull sessions in that room, and who once used the West Wing as a backdrop for arguments over Vietnam and Somalia, the Balkans and the 1991 Gulf war."

-- New York Times (photo: New York Times)

05 January 2006

DOLPHINS: A threat to heterosexual marriage?

My friend Karin has a short list of (known) peeves. She does not like musicals or any situations where people spontaneously break out in song, she does not like Renaissance Faires, she does not like it when my dog slobbers in or on her car, she does not like it when the food on her plate blends together and she definitely does not like swimming with the dolphins or anybody who swims - or swam - with the dolphins. When I saw the story below, I just had to forward it to Karin.
"British tourist Sharon Tendler has finally made her dream match - by "marrying" a dolphin she has been visiting for 15 years in the Israeli resort of Eilat, the mass-circulation Yediot Ahronot daily reported. Tendler, 41, has been visiting the city on the Gulf of Aqaba two or three times a year to spend time with her 35-year-old underwater sweetheart."
-- Sydney Morning Herald

(full story)
(slideshow & video)

04 January 2006

Lose weight on the WaPo diet

Give yourself a fright. Try the Washington Post's
Fast Food calorie and fat counter
You'll be sad you did!

02 January 2006

Best Sex Writing of 2005: Bah Humpbug

End of the year journalism can be routine and predicatable. I complain about assignments that involve the assembly of "best of" lists and end-of-year "roundups." My lists and round-ups usually involve movies and the looming awards season.

Thank heavens I don't have to compile an anthology of sex writing. I can think of nothing worse. It is a sad fact that "best of" lists involve wading through the "worst of" and the "so-so."

I can't complain, but still do. When it comes to cinema, I can almost always find something valuable in a film. Even the worst of films can have excellent lighting or a lone character worthy of attention.

11 December 2005

Paramount buys DreamWorks for $1.6 billion

Q: What'd ya do this weekend?
A: I bought some new shoes and a CD. What'd you do?
Q: I bought Steven Spielberg, David Geffen and Jeffrey Katzenberg...and a pair of sunglasses.

"We couldn't be more excited about having Steven Spielberg and David Geffen and the amazing roster of talent at DreamWorks join the Paramount family, and we look forward to our new partnership with Jeffrey Katzenberg and DreamWorks Animation," said Tom Freston, co-President and co-Chief Operating Officer of Viacom. "This is a major milestone in our efforts to re-establish Paramount as an industry leader."

05 December 2005

Sixty journalists killed in Iraq since March 2003

"Sixty journalists have been killed covering the Iraq war since the March 2003 invasion, including at least 13 killed by U.S. forces, according to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists. Another 22 media workers such as drivers and translators also have been killed, the group says."

"Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. John Warner, a Virginia Republican, pressed Rumsfeld in September to address concerns about the increased detentions and shootings by U.S. forces of reporters in Iraq." -- Will Dunham, Reuters

Reporters sans Frontieres (RSF)cites similar figures saying 75 journalists and media assistants have been killed in the same 33-month time frame.
"A ce jour, au moins 75 journalistes et collaborateurs des médias ont été tués en Irak depuis le déclenchement de la guerre en mars 2003." -- Reporters Without Borders

30 November 2005


Le commerce peut être facteur de développement. Il peut aussi détruire toute chance pour les pays de Sud, d’assurer à leurs populations un revenu minimum leur permettant de subvenir à leurs besoins fondamentaux.

28 November 2005

The kiss of death

A 15-year-old girl with a peanut allergy died after kissing her boyfriend, who had just eaten a peanut butter snack, hospital officials said Monday. Christina Desforges died in a Quebec hospital Wednesday after doctors were unable to treat her allergic reaction to the kiss the previous weekend.
-- AP

22 November 2005

1:38 p.m. - the beginning of the end


15 November 2005

Bush v. Bush

10 November 2005

HuffPo: ExxonMobil begrudges fishermen

"After sixteen years, ExxonMobil has still not compensated Alaska fishermen five billion dollars for damages caused by the eleven million gallons of crude oil dumped in Prince William Sound during the 1989 tanker spill.

ExxonMobil was ordered to pay the five billion dollars in a 1994 lawsuit. Since then, the company has been appealing the case in the Ninth Court Of Appeals.

More than 700 miles of coastline, used as the primary source of income for Alaska’s fishing and boating industries, were affected by the spill. Greenpeace sent out press releases yesterday to call on Exxon to compensate the fishermen.

ExxonMobil reported record high 75 per cent profit growth to almost ten billion dollars in the latest earnings quarter."

-- The Huffington Post

09 November 2005

Martin Short as Nathan Thurm (left)

Paul Waldman is a bright chap who knows The District and frequently contributed to "The Gadflyer." Waldman invented The Nathan Thurm Memorial Mendacity Medal. He has probably considered bestowing the honor on WH Press Secretary Scott McClellan as the P-Sec performs some amusing bob & weave footwork while trying to deny saying something that a room full of cameras, tape recorders and reporters-with-pens clearly observed and recorded.
"As you might remember, Nathan Thurm was a character played by Martin Short in a 1980s Saturday Night Live parody of 60 Minutes, a sleazy lawyer defending corporate criminals. Sweating profusely and chain-smoking, Thurm would respond to questions with a defensive "I knew that," then make a ridiculous assertion and immediately deny he had said anything of the sort."
--- Paul Waldman, The Gadflyer, Feb. 10, 2004

04 November 2005

CAFTA: If you build it, they will come...to protest globalism and burn stuff

"Free trade means big U.S. and European corporations gobbling up our companies and national interests," said Pedro Moreira, a 69-year-old unemployed Argentine who carried a sign reading "Get out Bush. Another world is possible." -- Reuters

01 November 2005

Rule 21: Desperate times, desperate measures

Something had to give. With multiple scandals jockying for media position and years of curiosity about claims used to sell a war, the house of cards at 1600 Penn. Ave. appears to be teetering.

Exasperation must have caught up with senate Democrats today. Their Tuesday Surprise invoking Rule 21 called attention to a report that should have reached the light of day more than a year ago. Today's coup, albeit dramatic, will get information out of a Republican senator's bottom drawer and into the public record. The Washington Post reports...
"With no warning in the mid-afternoon, the Senate's top Democrat invoked the little-used Rule 21, which forced aides to turn off the chamber's cameras and close its massive doors after evicting all visitors, reporters and most staffers....Friday's indictment of top White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby on perjury and obstruction charges gave Democrats a new opening to demand that more light be shed on these issues, including administration efforts to discredit a key critic of the prewar claims of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction...within two hours, Republicans appointed a bipartisan panel to report on the progress of a Senate intelligence committee report on prewar intelligence, which Democrats say has been delayed for nearly a year." -- Washington Post (photo:AFP)

Minority Leader Harry Reid wins the day

Democratic Senator Harry Reid (pictured with his constituents who've served in Iraq and Kuwait) turned the tables on the Republican senate this afternoon. An investigation into misleading claims leading up to the Iraq war had been stalled by Republicans for more than a year. Today the stalled investigation and report came off the back burner as a result of Reid's actions.

You can post a message for Sen. Reid on his senate Web site.

U.S. loses big fish before prison abuse testimony

Four months after it happened, the mysterious loss of key player is revealed in Pentagon leak.
"A man once considered a top al-Qaida operative escaped from a U.S.-run detention facility in Afghanistan and cannot testify against the soldier who allegedly mistreated him, a defense lawyer involved in a prison abuse case said Tuesday...A Pentagon official in Washington confirmed Tuesday evening that al-Farouq escaped from a U.S. detention facility in Bagram, Afghanistan, on July 10. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information." -- AP

31 October 2005

Wal-Mart prepares for documentary with Washington-style war room and a team of politicos

"Wal-Mart has quietly recruited former presidential advisers, including Michael Deaver, who was Ronald Reagan's image-meister, and one of Bill Clinton's media consultants, Leslie Dach, to set up a rapid-response public relations team in Arkansas...The group works out of an old conference room on the second floor, christened Action Alley...The first big challenge of the strategy will come Nov. 1 with the premiere of an unflattering documentary. 'Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price.'" -- New York Times

28 October 2005

"Driving Mister Libby"

Leaking the names of CIA agents is not politics; it is a crime. Lying to congress about evidence for a war is not politics; it is a crime. Failing to tell a grand jury that you met with a reporter and talked about the CIA agent is not forgetfullness; it is a crime. Deceiving your entire nation and frightening children and adults with images of nuclear explosions in order to get them to support a bloody invasion of another country is not politics; it is a crime. Anyone other than Karl Rove and Lewis Libby and Tom Delay who does not get this, please raise your hand. The three of you will need to stay after class for further instruction in civics.
-- James Moore (journalist/author)

27 October 2005

The poor dear: caught in prosecutor's headlights

The oldest PR trick in the book has come to the White House. First we had Dick Cheney sporting a walking cane. Now it's Lewis Libby, Cheney's soon-to-be-former Chief of Staff who is jumping on the "poor me" bandwagon with a pair of crutches. Scooter has added to the equation a handsome woman carrying his stuff.

Sure he (and Cheney) are likely nursing legitimate wounds, but the two of them remind me of people who show up to court in a wheel-chair or wearing a neck brace. Illiciting sympathy is usually the goal. Even Michael Jackson used this trick on the day his victim was due to take the stand. Then he used it over and over again, until it was obvious. But then...if one does not have a nose - per se - one could easily catch the flu or some such malady.

I guess the crutches mean Libby will not be able to carry the proverbial Xerox box full of his personal effects from the West Wing out to his car on Friday night. Perhaps his friend Karl might be headed to the carpark, too? OR...maybe whichever energy company his Cheney-built golden parachute lands on - can buy him all new stuff when he gets there.

25 October 2005

ON LOCATION: Boys in Suits - Portland, ME

These two teenagers were apparently attending a formal event. As we walked behind them, it was obvious they had borrowed their wardrobe from the same guy. Despite the height difference, they wore identical suits. One guy's suit was too big, the other guy's suit was too small.

20 October 2005

Trapped in a Red State: Fear, loathing and misinformation

It's extremely difficult to imagine that an adult can accept the misinformation quoted below as fact. Texas is a frightening place once your wheels leave the Interstate. Ignorance and faith have collided in a very dangerous way. The Sugarland woman quoted also spouted some random and clearly fabricated statistics about fetish-like sex acts that she claims are prevelant among gay men. I imagine somebody, including heterosexuals, are doing these odd things somewhere,but she presents it as if it is normal activity for all mainstream "homosexuals."

"The median age of homosexual men dying with AIDS is 39 years old; that's wrong, not natural. The median age of all other homosexual men dying from other causes is 42. Do you consider 42 young? I consider it extremely young since I'm one year away from it. The median age of death for lesbians is 45 years old -- of lesbians. That compares to 75 years old for heterosexual men and 79 for heterosexual women. Only one percent of homosexuals die of old age; only three percent ever live to age 55. Think about it, and then tell me that God doesn't have some problem with this whole thing -- that God isn't speaking. It's unnecessary to put my name in the paper -- you can just say that 'God said,' and here's the statistics."

-- Mary Ann Markarian,Sugar Land, TX

18 October 2005

UI's "STACEY P." - - American. Idiot?

"The school system needs a reality check; most students aren't going to be mathematicians, historians, or chemists. So why do we have to take these classes?"
-- Stacey P., UI's Adler School of Journalism
Readers of the "Daily Iowan" may have been quite surprised to learn that one of their student journalists claims to have no idea why core classes are relevant to her education. In an opinion published Oct. 13, the student said that general education courses "waste my time and money, but they also hurt my GPA." (full article permanently archived here)

On having to take required coursework, the student insists that "being forced to take classes makes them less interesting. If they aren't interesting, you won't do well in them." But, all problems have a solution. "Statistics and astronomy bored me, so I opted not to attend class and neglected to study for them." She may not have time for history, math or english, but at least Perk - the pride of Palos Park - has time for her Greek activities.

The third-year student's dream is to work at Glamour Magazine. I think she's been put on their "no-hire list" by now. Maybe the intelligent minds at Barbie Magazine (above) will throw Perk a bone. Can you say..."mailroom"...anyone?

At least Iowa locals and her fellow students smacked her back to momentary reality with their letters to the editor.

Predicition: Cheney will be sent to pasture before 2006

"Have you seen my smoke...or my mirrors? I swear they were just here after the Miers nomination, or was it the FEMA fiasco?"
-- fictitous WH strategist.
The walking cane that Vice-President Dick Cheney has been using lately intrigues me. We all know he had knee surgery a while back. But, if the WH strategists want us to feel secure about the Veep's excellent health and prove that he's ready to take on the nation's problems, they wouldn't repeatedly send old Dick outside to face cameras with that Colonel Sanders-looking-cane.

He looks feeble. And that's quite possibly the whole point. I'm not one to point fingers, but it seems something is not right on Pennsylvania Ave. A few desks may be emptied in the coming weeks -- but it will be presented to us as a natural occurance while cameras are trained on something unrelated and sensational. "Oh my God! Don't turn around but, there is a hurricane, earthquake, flood, fire, and flu-ridden bird behind you!"

It's a safe bet that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will be proposed as a mid-season replacement for rickety Dick. A health concern, real or imagined, is a perfect reason to resign from the nation's "No. 2 job." Next best is a need to spend more time with one's family. But that excuse is getting pretty tired. The last choice is to be fingered in a special prosecutor's report about lying in the West Wing and other unsavory practices.

Cheney's departure could be the "New Leaf" (well, "New Deal" was already taken.) that desperately needs to be turned over in the midst of a half-dozen scandals plaguing the WH and the GOP. Rice and Chief of Staff Andrew Card could wheel Cheney out the back door and pack him into a cab headed for those corporate arms that love him so. Forewarn Dick that he'll need to take some of the heat in exchange for lining hundreds of pockets with billions of dollars. Then, the administration can get on with its remaining two years. Maybe some sort of legacy could be fashioned out of Post-Its and chewing gum before Karl Rove brings the curtain down on a thoroughly clever performance. (I feel an audit coming on.)

It's a Condi v. Hillary race in 2008, unless the old-school political machinery gears up and knocks them both off the list. The current administration has paved the way for just about anybody to run for the presidency.

Conspiracy theorists gather 'round! (exhibit A)

A potential threat to privacy, reported by Matthew Wheeland at Alternet.org, claims that "if you own a Xerox DocuColor -- and many other kinds of color printers -- then every document you print is uniquely tagged to trace right back to your desk."

Can the information be shared? According to Wheeler's post, "Xerox, the Secret Service, and other printer manufacturers have confirmed that their machines are built to include a coded pattern of yellow dots, invisible to the naked eye, that indicate the date, time and printer's serial number for any color laser printout."

An Electronic Frontier Foundation attorney, Lee Tien, said "This technology makes it easier for governments to find dissenters. Even worse, it shows how the government and private industry make backroom deals to weaken our privacy by compromising everyday equipment like printers. The logical next question is: what other deals have been or are being made to ensure that our technology rats on us?"

16 October 2005

Covering a cover-up

The New York Times had to build an elaborate multimedia presentation to provide a TIMELINE of the PLAME-WILSON leak case. When is a scandal really a scandal? When it can't be described on one page.
"If someone committed a crime, they will no longer work in my administration." -- George W. Bush, July 18, 2005

12 October 2005

Time for Dutch regime change?

(source: The Onion, Oct.12)

11 October 2005

Ask AND tell!

Once again it's National Coming Out Day. So, come out, come out, wherever you are. (VOID where prohibited, not available in all areas, some restrictions apply. Side effects include gaybashing, hate-crimes, crushed civil liberties, schoolyard bullying, termination of employment, high suicide rate, increased chance of alcohol and drug addiction, irrational blame for ruining heterosexual marriage, erosion of constitutional guarantees, sketchy hospital visitation rights, no legal standing on inheritance matters or housing issues, higher tax brackets, prohibitive action by government limiting possibilty of parenthood and extreme restrictions on opportunity to serve and defend one's country, likelihood of excommunication, withdrawl of right to donate blood and organs, greater chance of marginalization, high incidence of media manipulation and corporate patronization; some assembly required;proven to cause chaffing in most Red States. Near fatal reaction to reparative therapy. Please stay in your seat, with seatbelts fastened, until your dignity has come to a complete stop. Be careful when opening overhead bins, as your self-esteem may have shifted in flight. We know you have a choice in oppressors and we thank you for chosing BushAmerica where we hate the "sin"...even more than the "sinner." If homosexuality makes contact with your skin wash thoroughly and contact your preacher; keep out of reach of children; gay Americans can be harmful to GOP candidates, use caution when operating heavy gay machinery; take gays daily with meals, discontinue if diziness occurs.)

06 October 2005

TV: Sentimentality is to women, what pornography is to men

"To this day, the sob story works like this: You find a needy person or family, you tell their story in a way that wrings the emotion out of it, you make sure the protagonists cry on camera, you promote yourselves by helping them, and you provide lots of plugs for the sponsors providing the goods and services. These shows convert pathos into bathos, a strategy to lure a female audience. Sentimentality is to women, what pornography is to men. Just as porn is designed to arouse a physical response in men, so the sob story is designed to create an emotional catharsis for women."
--- Roy Peter Clark, Senior Scholar, Poynter Institute

04 October 2005

When to say when

In journalism we learn not to focus too much attention on someone's "look." You might bring up their physical appearance when it is noteworthy, perhaps by mentioning in a business profile that "Mr. Blank showed up at the company's July beach party wearing a blue pinstripe suit while others frolicked in shorts and tank tops." That sort of statement is factual and hints at Mr. Blank's personality, particularly if Mr. Blank is not an executive.

But what of a professional woman who needs to be told that her eyeliner is scaring a good many people? (see photo above). Who should be the one to tell her? Maybe the same person who taught Condi Rice to smile instead of scowl is available for a consult. (But don't over do it.)

28 September 2005

Henson offspring pimp Kermit to Disney

MUPPETS GO CORPORATE AT DISNEY: "Kermit the Frog is to celebrate 50 years in showbiz with a 50-stop world tour. The green amphibian will kick off his global adventure and relaunch the Muppets brand next month in the town of Kermit, Texas." -- Daily Star UK

24 September 2005

And now this

"In a caravan of 20 cars, the Ruben family and their neighbors in the coastal town of Texas City had tried to obey the state's mandatory hurricane evacuation order. With full gas tanks, food and water, they left on a designated evacuation highway on Wednesday at 11:30 p.m., hoping to beat the rush and avoid the heat.Seventeen hours later, they had traveled just 60 miles..." (Blaine Harden, Washingon Post)

21 September 2005

Hip Hop Politics

Given the origins of rap music, it won't surprise anyone that music and politics have intersected yet again. Alternet blogger Jan Frel provided a link to a post-Katrina tune that leaves no doubt about the artist's feelings.

"It's an underground remix of Kanye West's song 'Gold Digger'," said Frel.

If your hip hop vocabulary has you feeling wack, this dictionary may come in handy.

18 September 2005

National Coming Out Day on October 11

"Come out, come out, wherever you are!" Or, at least read about it.