Saturday, December 30, 2006

Aren't I Clever?

The greatest fear of Liberals is that they will wake up one morning to find jackbooted thugs goose-stepping down Main Street, USA.

The greatest fear of Conservatives is that Liberals will take their jackboots away.

-ADB, December 30, 2006

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Rip and Read Weekly Report

alt egoGood Day, and welcome to this week's edition of Rip and Read with Walter Wrenchall. This week: Killer Teddy Bears, Teachers, and the First Amendment. Plus A Stolen Bus.

If the player on this site doesn't work, you can also hear Walter by clicking this link: Rip and Read Audio

Look for Walter back again next Week!

Killer Teddy Bears
Ritchie Calvin Davis

Friday, December 22, 2006

Christmas Gift Idea

drunken uncleChristmas Giving Idea ... from me to you.

If the player on this site doesn't work, you can also hear the bit by clicking this link: Rip and Read Audio

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Letters From Santa Email (reprint from forwarded crap I receive 6 times a year, but what the hell, it's funny.)

Sorry I've been a little too busy to put Walter up this week (Maybe later today If I'm lucky.) But, in the meantime, I got a touching christmas email from my good friend John. That's John. John J. Jackson. 55 Hollyhill Way, Bumfrig, VT 058000. Enjoy! Send him lettters, tell him how much you enjoyed it.

deer santa:

I wud like a kool toy space ranjur fer Xmas. Iv ben a gud boy all yeer.
Yer Frend,

Dear Billy,
Nice spelling. You're on your way to a career in lawn care. How about I
you a frigging book so you can learn to read and write? I'm giving your
older brother the space ranger. At least HE can spell!


Dear Santa,
I have been a good girl all year, and the only thing I ask for is peace
and joy in the world for everybody!

Dear Sarah,
Your parents smoked pot when they had you, didn't they?

Dear Santa,
I don't know if you can do this, but for Christmas, I'd like for my mommy
and daddy to get back together. Please see what you can do.

Dear Teddy,
Look, your dad's banging the babysitter like a screen door in a hurricane.
Do you think he's gonna give that up to come back to your frigid, fat mom,
who rides his ass constantly? It's time to give up that dream. Let me get
you some nice Legos instead. Maybe you can build yourself a family with


Dear Santa,
I want a new bike, a Playstation, a train, some G.I. Joes, a dog, a drum
kit, a pony and a tuba.

Dear Francis,
Who names their kid "Francis" nowadays? I bet you're gay.


Dear Santa,
I left milk and cookies for you under the tree, and I left carrots for
reindeer outside the back door.

Dear Susan,
Milk gives me the shits and carrots make the deer fart in my face when
riding in the sleigh. You want to do me a favor? Two words, Jim Beam.


Dear Santa,
What do you do the other 364 days of the year? Are you busy making toys?
Your friend,

Dear Thomas,
All the toys are made by little kids like you in China Every year I give
them a slice of bread as a Christmas bonus. I have a condo in Vegas, where
spend most of my time making low-budget porno films. I unwind by drinking
myself silly and squeezing the asses of cocktail waitresses while losing
money at the craps table.

Tell your mom she got the part


Dear Santa,
Do you see us when we're sleeping, do you really know when we're awake,
in the song?

Dear Jessica,
Are you really that gullible? I'm skipping
your house.


Dear Santa,
I really really want a puppy this year. Please please please PLEASE PLEASE
could I have one?

That whiney begging shit may work with your folks, but that crap doesn't
work with me. You're getting an ugly sweater again.


Dearest Santa,
We don't have a chimney in our house, how do you get into our home?

First, stop calling yourself "Marky", that's why you're getting your ass
kicked at school. Second, you don't live in a house, you live in a
ghetto apartment complex. Third, I get inside your pad just like all the
burglars do, through your bedroom window.
Sweet Dreams,

Sunday, December 17, 2006

That Damned Liberal Media

Yesterday, I received an email from an online acquaintance who is a staunch supporter of President Bush.

The general gist goes like this:

Did you know this?? -
  • Did you know that 47 countries' have reestablished their embassies in Iraq ?
  • Did you know that the Iraqi government currently employs 12 million Iraqi people?
  • Did you know that 96% of Iraqi children under the age of 5 have received the first 2 series o f polio vaccinations?
  • Did you know that 4.3 million Iraqi children were enrolled in primary school by mid October?

You can read the whole email here: Did You Know?

The kicker of the email, however is the closing paragraphs:




Instead of reflecting our love for our country, we get photos of flag burning incidents at Abu Ghraib and people throwing snowballs at the presidential motorcades.

Tragically, the lack of accentuating the positive in Iraq serves two purposes:
1. It is intended to undermine the world's perception of the United States, thus minimizing consequent support, and 2. It is intended to discourage American citizens and keep them off guard.

In response, I tried to envision what the media would be like if we followed the directive to "accentuate the positive".

Here's what I got:

SMITHFEILD- Although the Jones Family Home was burned to the ground last night, all the contents of their tool shed were saved, said Fire Department officials. Garden stakes, tomato cages, and the wheelbarrow came through the blaze unharmed.

"Clearly," said Fire Chief Dalton Duffus, "The saving of the tool shed shows that our policy of defending the outlying buildings before attacking the fire in the main residence is yielding tremendous results."

Yes...I can see how the morning paper would be a more pleasant experience if we followed this advice.

Incidently, there is an excellent response to the "Did You Know?" email here:
Mid-East Analysis Dot Com.

If you want to read more about how newspaper editors tackled this email, check this story out: Editors Ponder How to Present a Broad Picture of Iraq

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Mister, You Really Need to Work On Your Closing Technique

I just opened up My Yahoo and read the headline that Peter Boyle passed away. Coincidently, just before going to be last night, I watched the first half of "Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose", the X-Files episode for which he won the Emmy.

I've always loved this bittersweet little story of a man who, because he possesses the physic ability to foresee the death of other people is unable to relate to his fellow man or find happiness. It's a strange story, but in an odd way, uplifting. I don't think any other actor would have been able to pull it off. (Great Review Here:http://www.munchkyn.com/xf-rvws/bruckman.html)

It'll be a little sadder to watch the rest of the episode tonight. Thanks for all the laughs, Mr. Boyle.

Your Personal Richness Feedback

I got some really nice feed back on the "Richer Than You Think" link the other day. I wanted to share two of these items with you.

My step-brother, Rene , posted a very thought provoking post on on WherezIt.com. Entitled: "The Importance of Want to our Children" this little piece is well worth reading.

Also, Friend Russell, in the heart of New York City had a good little post on NYCStories in which a trip to Best Buy turns into a long look into the heart of consumerism.

Of course, I am a little dismayed, loyal readers, that in the midst of all of this none of you commented on the fact this THIS WAR PRESIDENT seems to have nothing better to do than take time to make a movie with his DOG.

Speaking of Bush, my dad sent me a link to a very funny (and very tasteless so be careful if you are watching this at work, with young family members or if you have any Christians visiting) movie in which a young couple engages in sexual role playing...THE POLITICAL WAY!! Oooohh Baby!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Rip And Read: The President's Dog Barney

alt egoGood Day, and welcome to this week's edition of Rip and Read with Walter Wrenchall. This week: The President's Dog Barney.

See Barney's Holiday Extravaganza by clicking the title- Video link is on the right side of the page.

If the player on this site doesn't work, you can also hear Walter by clicking this link: Rip and Read Audio

Look for Walter back again next Week!

Bush's Dog

Iraq Troops


Marie Antoinette

Richer Than You Think

Here is a sobering link I found over atGreen Mountain Daily, posted by Jack McCullough.

Go to http://www.globalrichlist.com/; choose your national currency on the drop down list; round off your annual salary to the nearest dollar; watch as the calculator tells you how wealthy you are compared to the rest of the world's population.

As with anything, you must take these figures with a grain of salt, still, in the most GENERAL terms, I believe them to be fairly accurate.

The only thing is, I'm not sure if this makes me feel better...or worse.


If you haven't seen it yet, check out Russell's post today:
It's pretty weird and funny, and, well, just plain odd.

Also, old friend Heather gives it to me on HER blog today. Not quite sure what I did to deserve that...well, okay, I know.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Great Quote from T.R.

Yesterday, I quoted Theodore Roosevelt in jest. However, in looking for that quote, I found the following quote...wish I'd had it memorized about two or three years ago:

"The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the Nation as a whole. Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right. Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile. To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or any one else. But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about any one else." [emphasis mine]

"Roosevelt in the Kansas City Star", 149
May 7, 1918

There are more great T.R. quotes here:


and here:


Friday, December 08, 2006

Alex Ball: Yella Dawgs, Greased Pigs and Political Punditry

I was having a cup of coffee this morning with Powerbloggers Philip Baruth and Neil Jensen plotting the next edition of Audio Dream Theater (yes...I'm sorry, but there IS going to be a next one!) and we did have a moment...brief, though it was, of sympathy for Politicians and Public Figures.

"How maddening must it be", we wondered, "to live in a world were you were NEVER off camera, where there was ALWAYS an open mike?" The stress must be pretty incredible, we thought.

And then we changed the subject.

When I returned to my email, a little later, I found a note from my friend Heather:
Did you really tell a reporter that you would sooner vote for a greased pig if it had been an option?

I vaguely remember talking to some person with a note pad at the Vermont Democratic Victory Party on Election night...and I think I remember saying something about being willing to vote for a pig before I was willing to vote for a republican...but how would somebody in another state know that?

And So I "Googled" it...and sure enough...if you search "Alex Ball" and "Greased Pig" you will find the article.

Wow! Quoted in the Valley News...

I have arrived. I have achieved pundit status. It's been a long climb, and, you know, it is lonely here at the top, but I'll deal with it.

After all, as Teddy Roosevelt said:
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles...The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood...who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

Yes. Fame. It's a heavy price to pay for being me, but one I am willing to bear.

By the way, have I mentioned that there are now SEVEN blogs that link to this one?

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Rip And Read Weekly Report: Bong Hits for Jesus

alt egoGood Day, and welcome to this week's edition of Rip and Read with Walter Wrenchall. This week: Bong Hits For Jesus.

If the player on this site doesn't work, you can also hear Walter by clicking this link: Rip and Read Audio

Look for Walter back again next Week!

San Jose Mercury News
Supreme Court agrees to consider free-speech case

High court takes "Bong Hits for Jesus" Case.

CBS News
Whitewater: Case Closed September 20, 2000

Ray: Insufficient evidence to prosecute Clintons in Whitewater probe

Monday, December 04, 2006

Farewell to a Friend.

I'm holding off on the Walter Wrenchall piece today because I just wanted to say farewell to Philip Kraus. Philip passed away on October 21, but I only learned of his death this morning.

Some of my friends may have heard me speak of Philip in the past...he was a gentleman of the old school: an elegant and hard living actor with style, poise and grace. They don't make 'em like that anymore. For many years he worked in New York City, doing big market voiceovers and "small" acting jobs on stage, movies and TV. At some point, if you watched TV at all during the last 25 years you would have seen or heard Philip Kraus.

I always looked forward to a day when a recording session with Philip was on the calendar. When he took the mike, we were guaranteed of putting out top notch-work, which always made our clients happy.

In our description of Philip's voice, we wrote "smooth warmth and sophistication" - that was him to a T. He once told me that a director said to him: "Phil, you got a voice that either says Darien, Connecticut or U-boats"...and it was true- Philip's voice could radiate either incredibly effete snob appeal, or the cold hearted aristocratic sneer of a crack submarine skipper. The only thing Philip couldn't do was normal.

Philip was a consummate professional, and took what ever he was doing seriously... it didn't matter if was a national voice-over for a major brand, or a spot for a local theater company.

More than that, a recording session with Philip meant the chance for a great visit with a friend. It was easy to sit, listening in wrapped attention, to Philip's fascinating stories of his days in New York as an actor and voice-over artist. As a younger actor and producer, I got insights into the business from Philip from which I will profit for the rest of my career.

We had fun discussing his passion for aviation and there was also usually a little time to talk about history, and engage in a round of Churchillian quotations.

And of course, there was always a little time left over to talk about our families. Philip knew my fiancee, Bobbi, because her job requires her to travel often. He took a great pleasure in squiring her through the Burlington airport and making sure she was well treated.

Anyway, I will really really miss hearing the sound of Philip's voice. He was a class act, and we won't see his like again.

Here's a collection of outtakes with Philip.

10/27/2006 PHILIP H. KRAUS CHARLOTTE: Philip H. Kraus passed away Oct. 21, 2006. Born May 10, 1949, in Springville, N.Y., he pursued careers in acting, broadcasting and aviation. He eventually relocated to Westport, N.Y., where he met his wife, Liesel. Philip will always be remembered as a loving husband, a brother, an uncle and an aviator. We love you always and forever. Surviving are his wife, Liesel Kraus of Charlotte; brother Keith Roy Kraus and wife Elsa M. Kraus of Clifton Park, N.Y.; sister Loni Jean Kraus of Fulton, Mo.; two nieces Elaine M. Kraus and Dawn M. Rosenthal of Clifton Park. A private family memorial will be held on Oct. 28. A memorial for friends will be held at a later date. Contributions in lieu of flowers can be sent to the Charlotte Library, P.O. Box 120, Charlotte, VT 05445.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

James Bond- They Finally Did It.

James Bond picI love James Bond movies...but, I have to admit, since the end of the cold war, the super spy has really lost his relevance. Nothing, it seems, that they tried really worked to bring Fleming's hero into the modern world.

But Casino Royale....works. Big time. And, interestingly enough, they did it by ditching almost everything we thing of as "Bond". Gone are the gadgets, gone (almost completely) are the one liners. Gone are the great old British character actors.

There are some people who will not like this new Bond. A review, breif and to the point, on Movies.com says simply:
If you're a true bond fan, you will not like this film. It lacks many essential
components to a bond film, such as the traditional opening, the bond theme,
Moneypenny, Q, high tech gadets. And I'm sorry but, you can't have a blond bond.
This has to be the worst bond film yet.

And that is fair warning...but to me, it was those old conventions which were just not working anymore. It was fun to watch Sean Connery hop from bed to bed in the 1960s. (It still is.) But when Pierce Brosnan did it in the 2000s, I found myself thinking: "ugh. He's gonna catch something and die."

There is another thing, too. When Sean Connery or Rodger Moore behaved they way they did, it was easy to overlook...hell, they didn't know any better. But again, through no fault of the actor, when Brosnan did it, there was something really sick about it- not much different from the careless sadism of Grand Theft Auto.

The more light and carefree the movie makers tried to be, the more they tried to inject the sixties flippancy into the modern movies...the more uncomfortable I found them to watch.

This new movie has ditched almost all traces of what made a Connery or Moore film so much fun.

What has arisen in its place as a gritty, ugly kind of reality (or at least, by Bond standards) and a Bond who is all but "soul-less" in his cold, deadly efficiency. Instead of being flippant about it, this new Bond has to deal with his sickness at every turn and make a decision about embracing it or abandoning it. Neither is clearly the correct choice.

In a post 9-11, post Iraq world, where those of us who wear the white hats have had to face up to the fact that we have done unspeakable things in the name of "self-defense" , this new ambiguous Bond is just about the only choice possible.

Oddly enough, the flick is still a lot of fun.

I won't spoil it by giving away the plot (well, there really isn't a plot, but in this movie, it almost doesn't matter) and ... well seen on a big screen, first action sequence following the credits is worth the price of admission AND a big bucket of pop-corn.

Anybody want to go again?

Saturday, December 02, 2006

What the --- uh, Heck? Who said What Now?

Mos DougGood Gracious, I just read Friday's Freyne , did you? It seems that the recent edition of AARP gives Jim Douglas mostly ALL the credit for having gotten the Catamount Healthcare Program through against the impossible odds of Montpelier Partisan Gridlock.

The title of the Article is "Jim Douglas: Putting Health Care Before Politics". He has been recognized with an Impact Award from the Magazine, which puts him in the company of such luminaries as Robert DeNiro, David Hyde-Pierce, and Marlo Thomas *(god...I thought she was dead.)

Now, like Freyne, like many, I had only one reaction to this bit of news: You have GOT to be kidding me!

It was my recollection that Douglas fought very hard to KEEP the law from being one of "the most progressive in the country" and that the running battle for health care reform took more than one session of the Legislature ...thanks to the Governor's resistance.

On Freyne's post there is a comment from a reader, Liane Allen. She writes:

I got a phone call today around 4:30. My husband was in a car accident - in a tiny Acura Integra, which encountered an SUV...

The front of the car went under the SUV.

Think about how you would react as these images run through your mind, if you had no health insurance.

Did you catch your breath?


Every day, that's the tension felt by families all over this state and this country...

...In one damp moment on a dark road, we came 12 inches from losing everything. We came 12 inches from facing a life of new and terrible choices: food or physical therapy, homelessness or hounding by bill collectors?

And, as Ms. Allen goes on to correctly point out, we have not emerged from the woods yet. The other day, I was talking with a small business owner: "I used to to look at people who had no health insurance and wonder how they did it." [I am paraphrasing, but this is close to exactly what he said.] "Now, I've had to drop my health insurance due to prohibitive payments. Sooner or later, those who are voting to keep their precious tax cuts will feel the bite of this issue too."

We agreed that this is a rising toxic tide: before you know it the ground you thought was high and dry is flooded, and you, too, are swept away...along with the rest of the so-called middle class.

Now, I have to admit a certain affection for "Mos Doug" . When you put him up against the kind of right-wing vipers that infested the halls of Congress until last November, he is exactly the kind of Republican I wish there were more of. ..Someone you can respect on a personal level while vehemently disagreeing with most everything else they put forward. A worthy opponent.

Still, giving Douglas an award for the work that was so clearly done by Gaye Symington, John Tracy and other Democrats is laying it on a BIT thick, don't you think?

A visit to the ARRP site is worth the trip...there's a picture of Jim Douglas sitting in the middle of a heard of cows. I can only assume that the deep, deep piles of bullshit have been photo-shopped out.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Speculations on The Liberal Media

truth,justice, yada, yadaRight-wing journalism. At the Fox Network, it's a business plan. Rupert Murdoch will, I believe, sell what he thinks makes money for his company. This is also the same network that gave us the Simpsons and the X-Files (where, back in the 1990s, the cell phone wielding, blue state dwelling, well manicured looking Mulder and Scully never, ever seemed to venture into the American Heartland without meeting a redneck with no teeth and a demon possession problem.)
But, while Fox charted a course, the rest of the media seems to have followed more or less blindly, more out of instinct and a pathetic need to be popular (this, even while the Right Wing STILL continues to squeeze mileage out of that old canard about the "liberal media").

Yesterday, Neil Jensen at What's the Point linked to an article that describes the phenomenon in almost laughable detail.

In 1994, skillful pseudo-conservative think-tanks generated talking-points which made "midnight basketball" sound like a troubling sop to the blacks. Then, scripted serfs on pseudo-con radio pimped these points to the skies. And here's where the key transaction occurred: members of Edsall's "establishment media" soon began to pimp these points too! At the time, they didn't say that Dems had proposed modest funding in pursuit of a "laudable goal." Instead, they rolled over, put their feet in the air and recited words from Rush Limbaugh's mouth. " Soon, ' midnight basketball' became a liability." Twelve years later, Edsall recalls how "laudable" the idea really was.

What's interesting here is Edsall's reaction to this familiar process. Does he suggest that we stop the "establishment media" from reciting talk radio's points? No! His solution is vastly different! He suggests that Democrats should drop their pursuit of such laudable goals! That way, Rush won't have to come up with his points-and Edsall's colleagues won't have to repeat them! Things will be simpler all around if they'll just give up their proposals!

The point that Mr. Jensen helps to raise is fairly simple: Rather than castigate the Democratic Party for championing "laudable" ( and liberal) goals, why the hell doesn't the mainstream stop babbling RushMush and start telling the story straight?

At the The New Republic, I found an possible answer. In an article entitled Southern Discomfort, Rick Perlstein writes about the book Whistling Past Dixie. This notion about whether to abandon or embrace the South is a fascinating debate in it's own right, but what caught my attention was a paragraph in the article about the Press and the Ugly Epiphany of 1968:

It happened in a moment of trauma. After the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, all the top news executives sent a wire to Mayor Richard J. Daley protesting the way their employees "were repeatedly singled out by policemen and deliberately beaten." Such was their presumption of cultural authority they couldn't imagine how anyone could disagree. Then Mayor Daley went on Walter Cronkite's show and shocked the media establishment by refusing to apologize to the beaten reporters: "Many of them are hippies themselves. They're part of this movement." Polls revealed 60 percent of Americans agreed with Daley. [emphasis mine]For the press, it triggered a dark night of the soul. In an enormously influential column, the pundit Joseph Kraft, shaken, wrote, "Mayor Daley and his supporters have a point. Most of us in what is called the communication field are not rooted in the great mass of ordinary Americans--in Middle America."

That air of alienation--that helpless feeling that we have no idea what's going on out there--has structured elite discourse about the rest of the country ever since. A set of constructs about what "the great mass of ordinary Americans" supposedly believes--much more conservative things than any media elitist would believe, basically--became reified. Pundits like Kraft--a social class that spends much of their time among people like themselves, inside the Beltway--learned to bend over backward to be fair, lest they advertise their own alienation from everyone else. On subjects that chafed them--say, the relevance of certain ugly folkways of the South in electoral politics--they just had to bend harder. Or ignore the matter altogether.

It can produce in today's TV talking head a twisted kind of neurosis: an instinctual distrust of the political appeal of anything that can be categorized as liberal, even in defiance of the actual data.

That is as plausible an explanation as any I've heard.

In an interesting footnote, by the way, the "Can We Abandon The South" debate seems to be creating a very interesting set of allies.

Centrist Democrat, New Donkey, writes:

In the end, I'm with Howard Dean: In this closely divided national electorate in which red states still outnumber blue states, Democrats should pursue a 50-state strategy with a common progressive message, tolerating some regional differences, and let individual candidates, especially those running for president, target their resources and appeals as opportunities dictate.

Now, to think that I would see the day (even if it only lasts a second) when Ed Kilgore AND the good folks over at Green Mountain Daily would agree on ANYTHING, let alone "fiddy state" Dean ... well...that's just interesting!