mardi 11 juillet 2006

Hey, David Brooks! Now THIS is an Inquisition!

That doesn't look like either Ned Lamont OR Markos Moulitsas in the red robe. And I don't think either one of those guys is a tummler.

(hat tip: Pachacutec at firedoglake)

Movie Break: Weepies Edition

This morning I was watching the end of Field of Dreams while drinking my vanilla yogurt/flaxseed/wheatgerm/banana breakfast smoothie, and damn it if the damn thing didn't make me go all goopy AGAIN?

What are your favorite weepies (male and female categories)? Which weepies can you watch over and over again, and which have lost their charm? ARE there any male weepies other than Field of Dreams and Brian's Song?

Bush Monarchy Watch for Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The latest trial balloon:

Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has frequently said he won't run for president in 2008, but he's never ruled out being a running mate.

And he didn't Monday when asked about teaming up with Arizona Sen. John McCain.
"I like Sen. McCain. I think he's a good guy," Bush told reporters after returning from a holiday in Maine with his family.

Bush, 53, would provide some age balance on such a ticket. McCain turns 70 next month.

When prodded about the likelihood of a McCain-Bush ticket, Bush hedged just slightly.
"There's all sorts of time to worry about the 2008 election," he said. Bush is prohibited from seeking a third consecutive term as governor by Florida law.

There's your quid pro quo, folks. McCain gets the endorsement of the Christofascist Zombie Brigade over the unacceptable Rudolph Giuliani in exchange for putting Bush the Youngest in the #2 spot.

If McCain is dumb enough to make yet another Bush scion his running mate, he'd better hire someone to taste his food before he eats it.

And the Democrats ought to stop this bullshit about appealing to evangelicals and start rehearsing how best to hang the corpse of Terri Schiavo around Jebbie's neck -- along with the mug shots and police reports of his children..

Best New Flavor

MMMMMmmmmmmmm.......tea. [/Homer]

(hat tip: Digby)

Ned Lamont: Bringing the Funny

Via Hoffmania comes this terrific campaign ad from Connecticut Senate candidate Ned Lamont:

This reminds me of an SNL sketch that Al Franken did back in the days when he was funny. He and Tom Davis played rival political candidates, each making ever-more scurrilous and increasingly ridiculous claims about the other. I don't remember the particulars, other than one of them claiming "We'll kill criminals BEFORE they can commit crimes", and Franken's tag line: "Vote for me. Pete Tagliani."

I suspect that Lamont's people remember that sketch too.

Why do people let it get to this point?

In 1971, unemployed accountant John List killed his wife, mother, and three children in Westfield, New Jersey, then disappeared for eighteen years until he was apprehended largely because the television program America's Most Wanted did a profile on the case.

I was sixteen, a classmate/peripheral friend of Patricia List. We were both in the community theatre group that had her father convinced that she was headed down the wrong path, away from Jesus. This was my first real experience with death, and my first experience with the Christofascist Zombie Brigade. It was a horrific crime that gained national attention and spawned a television movie and a slew of books.

We've seen high-profile cases in recent years of women killing their children -- Susan Smith pushing her car into a lake with her two children inside after receiving a Dear John letter from her lover stating that he didn't want to deal with them; a clearly unhinged Andrea Yates drowning her children in the bathtub. But it's been a while since we've seen another case that even approached the horror and grotesquerie of the List case.

Until yesterday, when a Bergen County man shot his two sons, age 20 and 14, while they slept, then turned the gun on himself.

It's virtually the same story -- a family living in the most prestigious section of a tree-lined suburban town, a 46-year-old father with financial worries, guns in the house, and interviews with shocked neighbors saying they had no idea there was anything wrong. At least Thomas Frazza had the decency to include himself in the carnage. Frazza's wife and 19-year-old daughter were at the family's shore house at the time, or they too would no doubt have been carted out with sheets over their faces.

John List was an accountant who couldn't seem to hold a job, living in a majestic house he couldn't afford. Frazza apparently ran a company that installs and maintains pay phones, which of course has not exactly been a banner business in recent years, living in a house he could no longer afford, with a beach house he was having problems selling in a soft real estate market. Perhaps he had succumbed to the siren song of the home equity loan to buy the SUVs and the wide-screen TVs that seem to be mandatory accessories of upscale suburban life. And now, with his business in tatters and a lifestyle he was unable to sustain, at an age when opportunities to shift gears are limited at best, he saw no other way out.

John List was a religious nutcase, but this seems to be a case of pure economics: a father so distraught at his inability to continue to provide his children with the lifestyle to which they'd become accustomed that he decided that they -- and he -- would be better off dead.

All of northern Bergen County has been a beehive of conspicuous consumption for the last few years. It seems that every block has a new McMansion, or an older home with a dumpster in front of it and an add-a-level AND a two-story addition in progress. It is a land of multi-car driveways and manicured lawns and more SUVs than there are licensed drivers in the household. It's not cheap to live like this, and the tendency is to borrow money for all this consumption rather than to save up to pay cash.

Two years ago, after four years of saving money, we had a new roof, new windows, and new siding installed on our house, along with some other minor work. Everyone who knows that almost nothing in my house had been updated by the previous owners wondered why we didn't just borrow the money and have the kitchen and baths remodeled while we were at it. After all, rates were cheap, why not get what we really want NOW?

Because sometimes you can't have everything you want NOW. Because sometimes you have to wait, or compromise, or do without, so that you don't find yourself drowning in debt. After all, a nice new kitchen doesn't do you a whole lot of good if you lose your job and you're lying awake nights feeling like monsters are gnawing on your intestines wondering how you're going to repay all the loans. But in these Jersey suburban towns, the "keeping up with the Joneses" is utterly ferocious. In my neighborhood, there are two guys whose families have been friends for years. One of them had a pool that he never used. He and his wife divorced, he remarried a woman with kids, and now they use the pool. A year after he started using his pool, the other guy decided HE had to have a pool too. We put a new roof, siding, and windows on our house two years ago because we had leaky windows and asbestos shingle siding that was cracking, and almost immediately THIS guy started making plans for doing even MORE remodeling of his already-updated house.

Most towns in Bergen County have undergone a revaluation in the last two years, and some have just received their new tax bills. The town in which this murder took place is one of them.

$3.00 gasoline. Four-figure property tax increases. Layoffs. Pensions being dismantled. Skyrocketing fuel costs. Rising borrowing costs. A flat real estate market. And the borrowing to keep up appearances continues.

Why do I think we're going to see more stories like this?

lundi 10 juillet 2006

I guess the Freepers will say that this one asked for it too

Child rape: It isn't just for Iraqi girls anymore:

The rape of an 11-year-old girl may have involved as many as 10 men, most of whom are football players at local community colleges, police said.

Police arrested two men in connection with the rape Saturday night, and officials said they identified eight others as persons of interest in the case. Most or all are students at either Fresno City College or Reedley College, police said.

The victim, a runaway from a group home, went to a Fresno apartment complex Saturday night to visit an acquaintance, said police spokesman Jeff Cardinale.

While she was inside one of the units, she allegedly was sexually assaulted multiple times by several men, he said.

The girl then fled the apartment and sought help from a couple on the street who called police, Cardinale said.

One could argue that what happened in Iraq is the product of burnt-out, emotionally damaged soldiers stop-lossed into monstrousness by war. What the hell is THESE guys' excuse?

(hat tip: Pam's House Blend)