Saturday, December 05, 2009

Christmas lists

Five years ago I made a list of my favorite Christmas music and it hasn't changed much since then.
Today, I might add Burl Ives: The Christmas Collection as well as the trio of classical classics - Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite; Handel's Messiah and Bach's Christmas Oratorio.

Lately, I've seen a number of lists of favorite Christmas movies popping up on the Web and so I thought I would take a crack at my own. First off, I will seperate out the animated TV specials into their own list rather than clumping them together with the feature films like everyone else.
So, here first is my list of the 10 best animated TV Christmas specials.

1. Charlie Brown Christmas
2. How the Grinch Stole Christmas
3. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
4. Santa Claus is Coming to Town
5. Frosty the Snowman
6. The Little Drummer Boy
7. Twas the Night Before Christmas
8. The Year Without a Santa Claus
9. Prep and Landing
10. Mr. Magoo's A Christmas Carol

And now my list of favorite Christmas movies - feature length films:

1. It's a Wonderful Life
2. Miracle on 34th Street
3. White Christmas
4. A Christmas Carol
5. Christmas in Connecticut
6. The Polar Express
7. A Christmas Story
8. The Santa Clause
9. A Nightmare Before Christmas
10. Christmas Vacation

For me, a Christmas movie has to be mostly about Christmas in some way and not just be a film about something else that just happens to include scenes during Christmas. So movies like Die Hard, Gremlins and Trading Places, while good movies, don't qualify as true Christmas movies in my book.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Obama: Yes We Khandahar!

I would have preferred to hear Obama announce the immediate withdrawal of all troops from Iraq and Afghanistan. But I understand why he is moving forward with a "surge" in Afghanistan and, as Steve Benen notes, he told us this is what he was going to do during his presidential campaign.
Military realists generally win out on foreign policy and military issues such as this which is why things don't change that much from one administration to the next. I'm sure Obama is counting on the surge in Afghanistan to provide a level of stability to that country that has been lacking to this point and will then allow us to withdraw with our heads held high. If it works (and health care reform passes) Obama will be unbeatable for reelection in 2012.

Hacked emails and conspiracy nonsense

The idea that some hacked email accounts at some university in Great Britain have exposed a grand conspiracy among scientists around the globe to manufacture an elaborate hoax about global warming is completely ludicrous. People that are buying into this nonsense are those who don’t care about the science behind climate change and have already made up their minds based in large part on what they have heard from Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Faux News.
Fortunately, Media Matters for America has done us all a great favor by going through all of the sundry claims and allegations being made by wingnuts in relation to the emails and knocking them down one by one. Not that it will make any difference to brainwashed dittoheads and tea party radicals.

Kevin Drum has more to say on the subject as well.

As near as I can tell, ClimateGate is almost entirely a tempest in a teacup.... So on a substantive level, there’s really very little to this. Certainly nothing that changes the actual science of climate change even a little. The earth is still warming and disaster is still highly likely if we sit around and do nothing.

Former rightwing blogger reclaims his sanity

Charles Johnson, the man behind the popular wingnut blog Little Green Footballs, has cut ties with the wingnutosphere.

He explained his decision in this post on his blog – Why I Parted Ways With The Right

1. Support for fascists, both in America (see: Pat Buchanan, Robert Stacy McCain, etc.) and in Europe (see: Vlaams Belang, BNP, SIOE, Pat Buchanan, etc.)

2. Support for bigotry, hatred, and white supremacism (see: Pat Buchanan, Ann Coulter, Robert Stacy McCain, Lew Rockwell, etc.)

3. Support for throwing women back into the Dark Ages, and general religious fanaticism (see: Operation Rescue, anti-abortion groups, James Dobson, Pat Robertson, Tony Perkins, the entire religious right, etc.)

4. Support for anti-science bad craziness (see: creationism, climate change denialism, Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, James Inhofe, etc.)

5. Support for homophobic bigotry (see: Sarah Palin, Dobson, the entire religious right, etc.)

6. Support for anti-government lunacy (see: tea parties, militias, Fox News, Glenn Beck, etc.)

7. Support for conspiracy theories and hate speech (see: Alex Jones, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Birthers, creationists, climate deniers, etc.)

8. A right-wing blogosphere that is almost universally dominated by raging hate speech (see: Hot Air, Free Republic, Ace of Spades, etc.)

9. Anti-Islamic bigotry that goes far beyond simply criticizing radical Islam, into support for fascism, violence, and genocide (see: Pamela Geller, Robert Spencer, etc.)

10. Hatred for President Obama that goes far beyond simply criticizing his policies, into racism, hate speech, and bizarre conspiracy theories (see: witch doctor pictures, tea parties, Birthers, Michelle Malkin, Fox News, World Net Daily, Newsmax, and every other right wing source)

And much, much more. The American right wing has gone off the rails, into the bushes, and off the cliff.

I won’t be going over the cliff with them.

Maybe there's hope for other people who went all looney tunes after 9/11.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Texas Republicans caught with pants down on military contract deal

Texas is losing a big military contract to Wisconsin and Republican politicians across the state are now left with egg on their face.

The Pentagon's decision to shift the production of Army trucks from Texas to Wisconsin after 17 years caught Texas' elected officials by surprise, raising questions about overconfidence, a loss of political clout and the impact of economic incentives provided to the winning company by Wisconsin's Democratic governor.

Overconfidence is putting it nicely. How about political cluelessness and incompetence. Those are the real factors that allowed this deal to slip through Texas' fingers.

Texas Republican Gov. Rick Perry and the 34-member Senate-House delegation are rallying to salvage a deal for BAE Systems that could be worth $2.6 billion and sustain 10,000 direct and indirect jobs around the sprawling truck manufacturing plant in Sealy.

Rallying. Yeah, right. A British-owned company that bid 10 percent higher than its competitor. That right there is enough to make this a no-brainer call by the Pentagon without even getting into the politics.
But when you throw in the politics it becomes so much clearer how badly Texas is now being represented by the clueless, government-despising, rightwing idealogues now in charge. In Wisconsin, the Democratic governor pulled every string he could to give his state's company every advantage. In Texas, Gov. Goodhair did squat. I guess he was too busy trashing the United States at some wild-eyed, radical Tea Party gathering and talking about seccession to notice that 10,000 state jobs were about to vanish.

The 92-year-old Oshkosh Corp. undercut BAE Systems' bid by roughly 10 percent. The Wisconsin company had support by a predominantly Democratic congressional delegation that helped Barack Obama carry the state last November. And the truck builder reaped the benefits of state assistance crafted by Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle.
Elected officials in Texas assumed the contract would remain in their state, relied on networks of support built up during Republican control of the White House and Congress and did not provide BAE Systems any state assistance.

They "assumed" the contract would remain in their state. And we all know what it means when you assume.... (You make an ASS out of U and ME).

This used to be a bipartisan state which allowed us to shift with the changing political tide in Washington in such a way that we were always able to protect Texas' interests. But no longer. Today we have a rightwing Republican governor who delights in sticking his finger in the president's eye at every opportunity, and two Republican Senators and a majority Republican House delegation that filibusters EVERY single thing the new administration tries to do regardless.
Even if moving the work to Wisconsin wasn't saving the government a huge chung of money (10 percent of $2.6 billion is a LOT of money), it would still be understandable just on the grounds of political payback. Why on Earth would the current administration want to do a special favor for a district in a Red state that voted overwhelmingly against them and just threw out a Democratic congressman in the last election?
But, even with all that said, it would still have been possible to salvage the deal and keep those jobs in Texas if our current political leadership were even halfway intelligent and even slightly competent. But that is clearly not the case.