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  • January 29, 2007

    A Bad Day for Racing

    [Posted by ]

    Today is a black day for horse racing fans. Barbaro is gone. In some ways it's sadder that it happened now because I think we all started to believe he was going to make it. In most other ways, however, these last 8 months have been a blessing. Barbaro got a chance to survive and forge bonds with people who came to love him (and vice versa). He died peacefully, surrounded by thess people, instead of in pain and scared on the track immediately after his injury. For other horses, the attention (and donations to equine care) that Barbaro's plight generated means that they may someday benefit from significant advances in veterinary medicine. For sports fans, Barbaro was a compelling reminder that racehorses are living, breathing creatures, not just numbers on a program.

    Of course, some people (and by "people" I mean "asshats") don't see it that way. For those people, the sadness people feel about Barbaro is sick and wrong. Reading the latest on Tim Woolley's site I came across this note from a troll:

    All of you shuddering at work, getting cold chills, etc... Rethink your values.

    Barbaro is a horse... but even more so, he's property. These people didn't keep him alive so he could live a happy life... or by some humanitarian need to save him. They kept the horse alive to gather its sperm to sell. Breeding rights for a horse of his caliber are astoundingly expensive to procure.

    Meanwhile, you're all sitting in work in some big shiny office building downtown... and on the streets of your town there are people freezing as they sleep on the pavement. There are schools in your city that have conditions you wouldn't send your most hated rival into on a daily basis. There are wars going on now killing hundreds of people a day. There are significant issues with poverty and hunger worldwide, including again right in your own backyards.

    Do you care about any of this? Does that bother you? No, you sleep easily in your beds at night in spite of it. But a horse dies... a horse you've never met, never touched, only seen whipped on TV... and you suddenly care so much you can't function?

    Simply terrible.

    Posted by: Greg at January 29, 2007 6:25 PM

    In other words: "How dare you care about what you care about! Care about what I care about! Waaaa!!!".

    People don't love racehorses because of the money they can bring them. Even if Barbaro had survived, it was a longshot that he could breed. At this point, the insurance policy was probably worth more than the horse.

    People loved Barbaro (and other racehorses like Secretariat or Ruffian or Seattle Slew) because he was perfect. Great racehorses are as close to perfection as nature gets. They're beautiful and fast and wild and every other adjective that sets your heart afire.

    There's nothing wrong with caring about a horse. Don't let the asshats of the world tell you anything different.

    Posted by at 01:07 PM | Comments (3)     
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    January 28, 2007

    The Lamest Things of All Time

    [Posted by ]

    Jiblog pointed me to Maxim's list of the 50 lamest things of all time this morning. While I agree with many things on the list (dogs in handbags, premium gas, and the tail on the puck), I thought I'd make some additions to the list:

    10. College bands with flag twirlers: The flag twirler is the marching band equivalent of the token hot chick tambourine player. If you're any good you don't need to distract your audience with some cheap T&A.

    9. He's not my President bumper stickers: Unless you're not an American citizen, yes he is. Suck it up and deal with it. Denying reality doesn't make it any less true.

    8. Scrunchies: I'm just as guilty of sporting a scrunchy as most women of a certain age. But, just because you could make super cute ones out of the most adorable fabric doesn't mean that you should have. Sorry.

    7. My cell phone: I'm rightfully embarrassed to answer it in public. Any suggestions for a new one?

    6. Pet Glamour Shots: Dogs and cats lick their own butts, how glamourous can they (and should they) really be?

    5. Wearing clothing promoting the latest "it" TV show: I enjoy "Heroes" as much as the next person, but even I realize that sporting a "Save the cheerleader. Save the world." t-shirt is going to make me look like a giant jackass in a couple of months.

    4. Fantasy-fantasy baseball: As if fantasy sports weren't lame enough, some folks out there play fantasy games not based on real stats, but on computer-generated stats of fake players. It's all so confusing and so very, very lame.

    3. Company-mandated picture ID badges: Unless your company is deeply involved in some kind of super secret quasi-governmental project you don't need them. No one cares about your grandiose plans to dominate the world's small appliance market.

    2. Bartime roses: Is there anything less lame than drunkenly purchasing a flower for Ms. Right Now from some shady vendor hawking them in a bar or on the street? Actually there is: accepting the rose as a gesture of affection rather than as a last-ditch attempt to close the deal.

    1. Athletic workwear: You see it all the time - women dressed up for work but with white tube socks & bulky white tennis shoes on their feet. You're walking a couple of blocks from the bus or subway, not running a marathon. If your heels are so uncomfortable, then get better dress shoes. You look ridiculous.

    Posted by at 11:57 AM | Comments (0)     
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    January 27, 2007

    The Hysterical Ravings of Smokers

    [Posted by ]

    The Asian Badger writes one of my favorite Wisconsin blogs, but one of his latest posts "Seig Doyle" is simply ridiculous. As the title implies, he compares Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle's plan to ban smoking in all public buildings, workplaces, restaurants and taverns to something the Nazis would do. Let's see...Hitler killed at least 11 million people. Doyle wants to prohibit Wisconsinites from doing something in public that will not only kill them, but could kill innocent bystanders. That's comparable.

    Look, I'm no fan of the nanny state, but to compare a smoking ban to the work of the Nazis is not only ridiculous, it's insulting to everyone who went through real suffering and hardship at the hands of Hitler. To escape the Nazis, Jews, Gypsies, Poles, Catholics and the von Trapp family gave up everything and risked their lives. To escape of the wrath of Herr Doyle's brownshirts, Wisconsinites just have to go home or gasp!, go outside.

    Suck it up.

    Posted by at 02:36 PM | Comments (1)     
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    January 17, 2007

    Putting Ideology Above The Law

    [Posted by ]

    The powers that be in Madison, Wisconsin have decided to embarrass themselves yet again. Upset by the passage of Wisconsin's constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage in November, the Madison Common Council voted last night to "allow elected or appointed officials to protest the ban while taking their oath of office and swearing to uphold the Wisconsin and U.S. constitutions.The approved measure gives officials the option of signing a statement that they took the oath 'under protest'. They can also pledge to fight to overturn the amendment."

    Well that's just dandy. Apparently my elected officials only feel the need to uphold the laws that they personally agree with. Unfortunately for them, upholding state law is an essential part of their jobs. Like pharmacists who don't want to prescribe birth control pills or cabbies who don't want to transport liquor or service animals, I suggest they find a line of work that won't cause their ideology to interfere with their livelihood. If members of the Madison Common Council are so horrified by the new Wisconsin constitution, then I suggest that they resign their positions and devote their political lives to overturning the amendment or at least working to overturn the portion that bans civil unions.

    Supporters of this measure point to the fact that Madison voters overwhelmingly rejected the gay marriage ban and that therefore the city's elected officials are only obeying the wishes of their constituents. That's true, but last time I checked Madison was still bound by Wisconsin law, unless we seceded from the state while I wasn't paying attention. I'm not saying it couldn't happen! Maybe that is the answer. Madison should secede, but not just from Wisconsin, but rather from the entire United States. After all, "we" didn't vote for George W. Bush, why the hell should he be our President? Of course, all of this would necessarily require that we give up state and federal money, so ah, maybe not. Wow, it's hard to be "70 square miles surrounded by reality".

    Maybe I'm looking at this all wrong. Instead of making fun of the Madison Common Council, should I be praising them for their trailblazing ways? Could they be ushering in a whole new era of truth in electoral advertising? If Madison voters know that their elected officials intend to ignore certain laws, maybe other officials will make their intentions clear too. A sheriff or district attorney can run on the fact that he won't arrest or prosecute individuals for underage drinking or speeding or a House candidate can be let it known that she, in fact, is for sale to the highest bidder. This could be the first step toward exactly the kind of transparency we need in government. I take it all back. Thanks Madison Common Council, you're clearly ahead of your time!

    Posted by at 10:52 AM | Comments (8)     
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    January 09, 2007

    College Football Review

    [Posted by ]

    With 235 days separating me from the next Badger football home game, there's a long offseason to ask myself "what if?". What if college football had a playoff? Florida took care of the Ohio State University without much trouble, but would Boise State, Louisville or even Wisconsin have done the same, given the opportunity?

    In the past, college football bigwigs could diffuse the playoff talk after the season. Sure, there may have been a slew of 1-loss teams vying for a slot in the National Championship game, but when the dust settled, the team that everyone expected to win, did win. Pundits could point out that, in the end, it didn't matter who was #2 because #1 was so darn good. All was right in the college football universe. But that didn't happen this year. Sure, Florida won the title game, but the field was littered with teams with just as good of credentials that didn't get their shot. The way the Ohio State Buckeyes played last night, any good team would have beaten them. Florida was just lucky to get on the same field.

    I love college football. Absolutely nothing in the sporting universe compares to the atmosphere of a big-time college game. But, for a game that gets so many things right, it gets the end of the season so, so wrong. It's not even just the lack of a playoff, it's also the incredibly long layoff between the regular season and the bowls. Teams get sloppy and players get hurt. The whole thing is an anti-climatic mess.

    235 days is a long time to have such a bitter taste in your mouth.

    Posted by at 10:06 AM | Comments (10)     
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    January 06, 2007

    The State of the Packers – 2007

    [Posted by BVBigBro]

    For the Green Bay Packers, the 2006 season is over. The team will not reach the Super Bowl, or even the playoffs. The Packers finished 8-8. Realistically, the team outplayed its’ opponents in 8 games: Miami, Arizona, Buffalo, Minnesota-1, San Francisco, Detroit-2, Minnesota-2, and Chicago-2. They were outplayed in four games: Chicago-1, Philadelphia, New England and the New York Jets (all playoff teams). Four games were toss ups: New Orleans, Detroit-1, St. Louis and Seattle. If we assume that on average you should win the games in which you outplay your opponent, lose the games in which you are outplayed, and split the toss ups, the Packers would have finished 10-6. That 10-6 would not be a claim to being a good team, but an indication the NFL of 2007 is a vast ocean of mediocrity. Of the 32 teams in the league, there are maybe 3-5 really good teams, 3-5 really bad teams, and 22-26 average teams that are basically interchangeable. The Packers fall squarely in the middle of the average group.

    The 8-8 record that actually occurred was a big improvement over their previous years’ 4-12, but the team still has many holes to fill. Nevertheless, the 2006 season was one of progress; or maybe more precisely, progress on more fronts than not. The 2006 Packers were better than their 2005 counterparts in most areas, but the team regressed in some key areas. Here’s my take:

    Management:

    After the 2005 season Ted Thompson signed only two significant free agents, Charles Woodson and Ryan Pickett. There were not a lot of big free agents available, and the Packers did not overspend for mediocre talent. The result is that the Packers are now way under the salary cap and have a much better grasp of their true needs in a year that promises to have much higher quality players available. This was a very good move.

    The 2006 draft has the potential to be the Packers best in a couple of decades. The Packers pulled five first year starters out of the draft, and a couple more long term prospects. With continued development of these players, the 2006 draft will be remembered as one that made the franchise.

    Fundamentally I believe that the draft should be used solely to address the long term needs of the franchise, while the short term needs should be addressed through free agency. This assures that the team continually tries to improve everywhere and has the side effect of giving the team some depth, something the Packers have been missing for several years. The Packers feel the same way so I can’t complain here. A couple more years of this philosophy and the Packers will be on top in the division.

    Coaching:

    New coach Mike McCarthy took over in 2006 and overall he should receive a high grade. The Packers were more aggressive on offense in spite of possibly having less talent, and that paid off with more wins. The Packers will need a new offensive coordinator next year, and maintaining some continuity will be crucial to the continued success of the offense.

    Defensively the Packers were terrible for most of the year. This was due to their infatuation with zone coverage and zone blitzing. The zone blitz has never beaten a good team, and competent quarterbacks laugh at zone coverage. The Packers defensive improvement at the end of the year can be attributed in large part to their abandonment of the zone. If their intent next year is to play man to man then they will be better even with the same personnel. If they insist on going back to a system ill suited to their personnel, expect more mayhem.

    Quarterback:

    Brett Favre had another good year in spite of what various pundits may claim. No one is better at avoiding the sack and this was crucial in a year when the Packers were starting three rookies on the offensive line. In addition, the entire team has confidence in the man. Think about it. Today, a good quarterback has maybe two actual good years, a couple more OK years and the rest is mediocrity. Among current QBs only Favre, Peyton Manning, Brady and maybe McNabb have shown long term greatness. Favre throws a few too many interceptions this late in his career, but most of those are desperation attempts which need to be thrown if the game is to be won. Favre is utterly unconcerned with statistics, and this has served him and the Packers well.

    Speaking of statistics, Favre is in many ways the anti fantasy football player, and I love him for it. Far too often in today’s NFL we hear statistics quoted which have little or nothing to do with actually winning real games. This is due to the influence of fantasy football on how real football is perceived. Players in the real league should never be judged by their fantasy stats. Football remains a team sport of blocking and tackling, and nowhere does fantasy football begin to address those qualities.

    Favre, of course, may not return next year and the Packers will be worse if he does not. Aaron Rodgers has shown nothing in two years and may turn out to be a bust. Ingle Martin may be the Packers next quarterback, but he is a total unknown. Don’t be surprised if the packers pick up a free agent (Jeff Garcia?) if Favre retires.

    Running Backs:

    Ahman Green recovered from his injury, is still effective, and remains the Packers best back. Green runs hard every down, punishes tacklers and does not avoid physical contact. If the offensive line continues to develop he is still capable of having a monster year. He still has a couple of years left in him and the Packers need to keep him happy until the day comes when he can no longer perform. Vernon Morency is a nice complement to Green’s running style, and is more than adequate to spell him on occasion. I am not yet convinced, however, that he is the solution to the Packers future running back needs. Noah Herron remains the number three back and is a solid special teams player.

    At fullback, William Henderson is at the end of his career, and Brandon Miree may not be the answer. The Packers need to find a good blocking back immediately. In addition, because Morency does not appear to be the pass catcher Green is, it would pay to find a fullback who can catch.

    Receivers:

    Donald Driver followed up a great season last year with a Pro Bowl year this year. Driver is a great receiver who is also a team player, a rare quality in starting receivers. Robert Ferguson suffered his usual season ending injury and this time it will likely end his career as a Packer. Gregg Jennings was the number 2 man and the second half of his season was a disappointment. He was a non factor in most of the last eight games. Jennings will need to step up his play significantly to retain a starting spot next season. Jennings was a rookie, and big improvements are the norm for second year starting receivers. After Jennings the Pack featured the Waiver Wire Wonders: Koren Robinson, Carlyle Holiday, Ruvell Martin, Chris Francies and others. Martin was the best of these and is capable of playing in the NFL in some capacity. The remainder are players who will likely be on waivers next season as well.

    The Packers need help and depth here. Given that rookie wide receivers rarely have an impact, look for the Packers to sign at least one free agent wideout in the off season. Whoever quarterbacks this team next year will need more to throw to than this group.

    Compounding the Packers receiving woes was the expectedly poor play from the tight end position. David Martin was hurt again and ineffective when he did play. Bubba Franks, who I thought needed replacing last season, was invisible most of the year. Bubba’s invisibility cloak was removed in Week 15 against the Vikings when he was revealed as the worst starting tight end in football. (Actually the cloak was only partially removed. This was the game that no one saw because it was on the NFL network which no one gets. The NFL wants cable companies to fork over additional money to carry their worthless station. It isn’t enough anymore to get free stadiums, free road improvements, exemption from certain anti-trust regulations and a share of every possible stadium revenue. The NFL found out that there are fans who still have loose change in their pockets. They want that money and will do anything to get it. Please tell your local cable company not to pony up for the NFL.) Bubba came up one penalty short of completing the NFL triple double in this game: at least two fumbles, two dropped passes and two penalties. Replacing Bubba Franks needs to be the Packers number one personnel priority. If the Packers start Aaron Rodgers or Ingle Martin next year, the situation will be even worse. The tight end is the traditional receiver of last resort for first year starting quarterbacks, and they will need something more than the Bubba and David show in order to keep the offense on the field.

    Offensive Line:


    The offensive line was the Packers biggest success story of 2006. At the end of last season this unit needed at least 2 new starters and had no depth. Now it has solid, if unspectacular starters everywhere and some depth. Draft picks Daryn Colledge, Jason Spitz and Tony Moll all started and played more than half the year. While all three need to develop further, they now know the system and there is every reason to expect improvement next year. Mark Tauscher and Chad Clifton also started at tackle and both are solid starters for now. Tauscher is better than Clifton, and Clifton has shown signs of aging and may need to be replaced before too long. At center Scott Wells greatly improved his play from last season.

    All in all this is a unit that successfully protected Favre and was able to run block effectively against about half the teams the Packers played. The larger defensive lines had their way against the Packers offensive line, and the Packers offensive lineman must improve their strength and consistency to compete against the top teams in the league. Favre’s ability to avoid the sack also made this unit look better than it actually was. If the Packers start a new QB next season the offensive line will have to improve just to have the same results as this season.

    Defensive Line:

    The Packers defensive line regressed a bit from last year. Aaron Kampman had another great year, but the rest of the unit was inconsistent. At defensive tackle Ryan Pickett and Corey Williams saw most of the playing time. Williams was solid against the run and occasionally provided a pass rush. Pickett was average against the run and provided no pass rush. The Packers need a big defensive tackle to complement Williams and occupy blockers to free up their linebackers. Expect the Packers to go free agent here to solve this problem.

    At end Kampman had a Pro Bowl year. He is good against the run and is the Packers only consistent pass rush threat. Kabeer Gbaja Biamila continued his decline as an every down player until he was finally replaced by Cullen Jenkins in the last few games. Jenkins was far more effective against both the run and pass than KGB, but that may have been due to the lower caliber of competition he faced. If the Packers believe that Jenkins can succeed as at end, he may be the long term solution. If not, the Packers need a new starting defensive end and we can expect them to look at the free agents at this position.

    Interestingly, freed of playing every down, KGB became an effective situational pass rusher again in the last three games of the season. If the price is right, it would be worth it for the Packers to bring him back as a pass rushing specialist. KGB has been a good man for the Packers on and off the field and I hope they find a spot for him.

    Last year the defensive line was a position of depth. Some of those players have not improved or have actually declined. Today this is a very thin group for the Packers and they will likely seek free agent help for their defensive line.

    Linebacker:

    The Packer linebackers remain hard to judge. Outside linebacker AJ Hawk will be a player. He is a consistent tackler and became better as the season wore on against the pass. Rarely was Hawk responsible for the defensive breakdowns we saw this season.

    The other outside starter was Brady Poppinga. Poppinga started out the year poorly but played better as the season wore on. Because the Packers have little depth at linebacker, I expect Poppinga will get the nod again next season, but I also expect the Packers to supplement their current linebackers with draft choices and free agents. If Poppinga starts out slowly next year he will probably lose his starting job.

    At middle linebacker the Packers have Nick Barnett. Barnett’s only real flaw is a tendency to over commit on running plays to the side, allowing too many cutbacks inside. Barnett, though, might look a lot better if the Packers had a dominating inside defensive lineman. Barnett is a free agent and may require big money to stay in Green Bay. I have mixed feelings about this. Barnett is rarely a dominant player, but they have no one to replace him and there is no denying the Packers were worse defensively when he was hurt briefly this year and the Packers were forced to play Abdul Hodge. The Pack may have to bite the bullet and give Barnett what he wants.

    Abdul Hodge and Ben Taylor are the backups. Taylor is solid, the Packers had trouble when Hodge played. The Packers remain thin at the linebacker spot.

    Secondary:

    This unit got shelled for three quarters of the year and then played as we expected the last four games. As stated already, the reason for this team’s defensive woes was the zone defense. Virtually every defensive breakdown the Packers suffered occurred while the playing some variation of the zone. It may be poor coaching, it may be personnel unsuited to the zone, it may be both, but the Packers are simply far better when they play man coverage. I understand the Packers may have wanted to play some zone to protect their young starting linebackers, but it should have been obvious early in the season that the cure was far worse than the original problem could ever have been. In addition, the zone results in a lot of short completions and a lot of tackling by the secondary, which takes a physical toll on players.

    At cornerback, the Packers start Al Harris and Charles Woodson. Both men are Pro Bowl caliber players when they play one on one with a receiver, and invisible when the packers play zone. It’s really that simple. If the Packers coaches are going to insist on playing zone then they need to be replaced. The coaches, that is. Patrick Dendy is the nickel back and I think he is also quite good. He was burned several times this year, but it was almost always by good passes, not by busted coverage.

    Both Harris and Woodson are now getting old. Within the next 3 to 4 years both will have to be replaced by younger players. The Packers have a very limited window of opportunity for success while these two are still in their prime. The Packers off season moves will be a pretty good indication if they are looking for short term success or are rebuilding long term.

    At safety, the Packers had Marquand Manuel and Nick Collins. Both men had terrible years. Collins finally had a good game against Chicago, but that hardly made up for the other fifteen games. Collins may be a much better player in man coverage, but that is very much an issue in doubt. Manuel needs to be replaced immediately.

    Safety is a position where you can feature a team leader and a freelancing player who takes risks and improvises to make good plays. The Packers simply do not have this at safety. They need at least one new starter at safety and possibly two.

    Special Teams:

    The Packers replaced punter BJ Sander and kicker Ryan Longwell with Jon Ryan and Dave Rayner. Both men were improvements over their predecessors. Ryan is only an average punter, but that is far superior to Sander. He will likely face competition in the preseason next year. Rayner developed into a reliable kicker who is infinitely better than Longwell on kickoffs and at least as good on field goals.

    The Packer coverage teams improved over last season. This is a reflection of the teams’ increased depth overall. It is the backups who do most of the special teams work and thus no depth means poor special teams.

    The Packer return teams remain poor. Woodson is OK as a punt returner, but I fear an injury every time he fields a punt and the Packers need him at cornerback. A committee was used on kick returns and none of them are capable of breaking a big return. Return men can be found in the draft and this is one of the few positions where a rookie can have an immediate impact. Expect the Packers to draft at least one return specialist and possibly a receiver who has return skills.

    Conclusion:

    That, my friends, is the state of the Packers. They are a better team than they were a year ago, but still have holes to fill. They are a very young team that we should expect to improve with proper coaching. On the other hand, they have aging veterans at both quarterback and cornerback and may feel a sense of urgency to achieve something now. The past year has seen them increase their depth, but they are still relatively thin across the board.

    The first priority for the Packers is convincing Favre to return for another season. The next priority is signing Barnett to a new deal. After that, the Packers need to take a long look at the free agents that are available. On defense the Packers need a new safety, a big defensive tackle, possibly a defensive end and possibly another starting linebacker. The Packers have had poor luck with free agent safeties. On the other hand, they have had good luck with free agent defensive lineman and this is a position they have had trouble drafting. They will have difficulty finding a good starting linebacker in the free agent market.

    On offense the Packers need receivers, at least one tight end, a fullback and depth on the offensive line. The free agent wide receivers that are available tend to require teams to overpay for their services, so I expect the Packers will pass on receivers and instead focus on finding a new tight end. Backup offensive lineman and fullbacks can be had cheap, so they will likely also bring some veterans into camp to contend for these positions. The Packers may also take a look at a veteran quarterback if Favre retires.

    Return men can be found as free agents, but they tend to have a lot of miles on them, so I expect the Packers will pass here as well.

    The final step will be the draft. The Packers will look long term in the draft with the possible exception of finding a return man. They still need help and depth on both offense and defense everywhere so I expect that they will not draft by position and instead focus on improving the team everywhere.

    The 2007 Packer season will be determined by three things: First, this years’ young players must continue to improve. The offensive line has to get better for the team to score against the better teams, the linebackers need to step up and becomes forces on defense, and Gregg Jennings need to shoot for a 1,000 yard season.

    Second, the team needs to develop a defensive scheme that does not involve zone coverage and implement it for a full season. The Packers have the personnel to rank in the top third of the league defensively, and this needs to happen.

    Finally, Favre must return for another year. It is difficult to see this team bettering this years’ 8-8 record with a new quarterback even if they do improve everywhere else.

    If Favre returns anything short of a playoff berth next year will be a big disappointment.

    Posted by BVBigBro at 11:02 AM | Comments (7)     
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    January 03, 2007

    Oscar Hypocrisy

    [Posted by ]

    The New York Times reports on the latest crop of documentaries vying for an Oscar. Come Oscar night, I have no doubt some smug Hollywood liberal will wax poetic about the continuing role of film makers in courageously expressing dissent. Then, someone like Laura Poitras will get a standing ovation when she wins. Of course, Poitras claims that she didn't go to Iraq to make a point:

    “I didn’t go there to make a point,” said Laura Poitras, a documentary filmmaker, about traveling in Iraq to make “My Country, My Country,” one of four documentaries about the war contending for Oscar nominations this year.

    “I don’t think I would risk my life to make a point,” she added, seated in her comfortable TriBeCa office early last month. “But I did feel it was important to understand this war — and to document it — and I didn’t think that the mass media was going to do it.”

    Ms. Poitras, 42, used her own camera and recorded sound herself as she followed an Iraqi physician for eight months. An outspoken Sunni critic of the American occupation, he was seeking a seat on the Baghdad Provincial Council during the national elections in January 2005, but did not win.

    Please understand what she's saying here. She's not just making a point. Oh no, she's unveiling the truth:

    She cited a scene she had shot at the Abu Ghraib detention center: a 9-year-old Iraqi boy is being held for some unspecified reason by American Army officers who call him a dangerous juvenile. Moments such as these, she said, “will bring a sense of questioning and shame about some of the things we are doing in Iraq.”

    I really have nothing against Poitras and it may well be true that she made an outstanding documentary. What I get so annoyed with are people patting themselves on the back for having the "courage" to disagree with the U.S. government.

    I got news for you all. Americans don't come and kill you when you question the government's actions. If Hollywood wants to talk about courageous film making, then talk about the likes of Theo Van Gogh or Ayaan Hirsi Ali for once. If not, then stick to entertaining me and looking pretty on the red carpet.

    No preaching. No pontificating.

    Posted by at 12:59 PM | Comments (1)     
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    Will Monica Lewinsky Find True Love?

    [Posted by ]

    Ann Althouse, the blogger Madison liberals love to hate, linked to a Washington Post article that bemoaned the lack of a man for Monica Lewinsky. The author, Richard Cohen, complains that Lewinsky is "a victim of publicity, and her life has been a trial -- enough to floor almost anyone". Personally, I think Lewinsky is a victim of her own bad decisions.

    To her credit, she's emerged from the tawdriness of her Clinton-era antics and just recently graduated with a Master's degree from the London School of Economics. Good for her. She's risen above her past, but I hardly think there's anything wrong with men who don't want to get attached to her (side note - does anyone even know for sure that Lewinsky is unattached?). As Cohen himself says:

    She is a branded woman, not an adulterer but something even worse -- a girl toy, a trivial thing, a punch line. Yet she did what so many women at that age would do. She seduced (or so she thought) an older man. She fantasized that he would leave his wife for her. Here was her crime: She was a girl besotted. It happens even to Republicans.

    Do that many young women really seduce older married men? Or do older married men just wish they could get seduced by a younger woman? I think it's the latter and I frankly resent someone trying to excuse Lewinsky's behavior by pretending it's commonplace.

    It sounds like Lewinsky has grown up, but would you want to take her home to meet your parents? Would you want to explain to your children why Mommy is (in)famous? Cohen calls for a man "brave enough, strong enough, admirable enough to take her as his wife". Why is loving Lewinsky brave & admirable? Monica Lewinsky doesn't need some strong, brave man, she just needs someone who loves her enough to take her for himself, flaws and all. Let's not put her on a pedestal in order to make the whole scandal sound better. Her hypothetical potential husband is no better than any other man. He's just another fool in love.

    Posted by at 08:35 AM | Comments (2)     
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    January 02, 2007

    New Guest Writer: Princess Midwest

    [Posted by ]

    With American Idol just two weeks away, Dummocrats is proud to welcome a new guest recapper, Princess Midwest!

    The Princess will bring her performer's ear to this season of American Idol. Although she sings bourbon-soaked acoustic country-folk songs, P.M. has the skills to evaluate all kinds of performers, from Carrie Underwood wannabes to that ever-elusive next coming of Marvin Sease. Rumor has it she also brings home the bacon, fries it up in a pan and never lets you forget you're a man.

    So please, give it up for Princess Midwest!

    Posted by at 10:07 PM | Comments (0)     
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    January 01, 2007

    Saddam: To Watch or not To Watch

    [Posted by ]

    The inevitable video of Saddam Hussein's hanging has hit the internet. Will you watch it? I won't. I thought about it but then I decided not to. I have a feeling it would be something I wouldn't forget seeing. Some people may think they need to be a virtual witness to his execution. Not me. I'll take their word for it. What about the rest of you?

    Posted by at 06:00 PM | Comments (3)     
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