Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Not an Andrew Hatah

My last couple of posts have been (or could be interpreted as) swipes at Andrew Sullivan. Don't take this as hostility towards Andrew though. I like 'im. I read his stuff daily. I don't always agree with what he has to say, but I usually find it interesting. It just so happened that I had something to say about those particular posts in quick succession!

Helping out the AG

Andrew Sullivan points out the irony of Alberto Gonzales not knowing whether his grandparents came to Mexico legally or illegally:
GONZALES: Well, three of my grandparents were born in Mexico. They came to Texas. My parents — both my parents were born in Texas extremely poor. My mother…

BLITZER: When they came to Texas, were they legally documented, were they un-legally documented?

GONZALES: You know what? It’s unclear. It’s unclear... And I’ve looked at this issue, I’ve talked to my parents about it and it’s just not clear.

Huh. For a lawyer, Gonzales is somewhat unclear on the law (and I'm not referring to the torture memos or any of the other arguably tortured readings of the law he's provided as fig leafs for administration actions). He didn't need to go to his parents, he just needed to go to the law itself.

Well, let me help Alberto, Andrew, Wolf, and anyone else who's curious out. Simply by looking at Alberto's biography, we can determine that his parents, who were born in the United States, were born sometime before 1955, since Alberto himself was born in 1955. That means that Alberto's grandparents immigrated to the United States sometime before 1955. And consulting the law, we can see that the Immigration and Nationality Act Amendments of 1965
"plac[ed] a ceiling on Western Hemisphere immigration (120,000) for the first time."

In other words, since Gonzales's grandparents definitely came to the United States before 1965, by definition they came here legally, since prior to that year there were no restrictions on migration from south of the border.

Glad I could help clear up your family history, Alberto.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Fiction != Lies

Hopefully the new "ecumenical breakthrough" and idiotic protests over The Da Vinci Code movie will make Andrew Sullivan rethink his earlier silliness on the matter:
No Da Vinci Disclaimer: A pity, I think. It's hack fiction. People might actually believe it.... But on its own, it's fictional dreck and Hollywood hooey.
No kidding! Of course it's fictional dreck (full disclosure: I listened to The Da Vinci Code on audiobook on the long roadtrips between L.A. and Phoenix and L.A. and S.F.). So why does it need a disclaimer? Its very existence is its own disclaimer.

People might actually believe the story laid out in the book and movie? Then those people are stupid.

People might actually claim that it is "'blasphemous' because it spreads 'lies' about Jesus Christ"? To some, it's "lies," to others it's "fiction."

"One Roman Catholic activist has gone on what he says is a 'hunger strike until death' unless the film is banned." You know what? That's his business. I'm offended by the sentiment expressed in the Left Behind books, but I'm not going to go on hunger strike until Tim Lahaye and Kurt Cameron are banned from polite society. Do you know why? Because I AM NOT AN IDIOT. And if you are not an idiot, you do not need a disclaimer to distinguish fiction from lies. You don't have to read the book. You don't have to watch the movie. You don't have to listen to the heated blathering of some fool who uses the material as the launching point for his own fevered conspiracy theories. You are completely free to ignore anything and everything to do with the material! And this does not require a disclaimer so that you can determine once and for all whether or not the work in question is a silly summer beach read or the recounting of a sinister historical plot.

A novel does not require a disclaimer distinguishing it from reality. And the novel's relative literary quality (or lack thereof) plays absolutely no part in whether it needs to distinguish itself for people. Shame on Sullivan for siding with morons and zealots and suggesting otherwise.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Interesting perspective on new CIA nominee

From Steve Clemons at the Washington Note, a couple of challenges to the conventional wisdom on John Negroponte's reasons for Michael Hayden's nomination. I think, in the microview, this is a good thing: Rummy's a dick and we're better off keeping him from consolidating complete control of all of the intelligence crayons. On the other hand, this is John Negroponte we're talking about here, as in Central American death squads, Iran-Contra John Negroponte. But I guess the fact that we have him as DNI means we've already accepted that as part of the package...

I'm not sure that I'm as non-chalant as Steve in regards to the military guy heading up the CIA, but I do think the idea that he's been selected specifically to thwart DoD's schemes on the CIA is interesting...

Monday, May 01, 2006

Stephen Colbert is my hero

I now have a raging man-crush on Stephen Colbert. He just savages Bush, savages him, while looking Bush in the face and talking directly to him. Absolutely brilliant.

And, as noted here, the coverage of this has been a bit slow in coming, as compared to when Imus skewered Clinton in '96. But some stuff is trickling out. Fox News, surprisingly, didn't find it amusing. One of the guys quoted in there says: "Today in Lloyd Grove’s column, he says that Colbert 'bombed badly.' It was not very funny." From what I heard on Stephanie Miller's show today, it did bomb badly, but that does not mean that it wasn't very funny. However, take a bit like this:
But, listen, let's review the rules. Here's how it works: the president makes decisions. He's the decider. The press secretary announces those decisions, and you people of the press type those decisions down. Make, announce, type. Just put 'em through a spell check and go home. Get to know your family again. Make love to your wife. Write that novel you got kicking around in your head. You know, the one about the intrepid Washington reporter with the courage to stand up to the administration. You know - fiction!
I'm not saying that the White House correspondents don't deserve this type of skewering (I also suspect that there are many of them that are not the tools they appear to be, but the gig is such that you can't do much pro-actively; investigative reporting is another thing entirely). I'm just saying that that's why it bombed. The live audience was not going to be amused. But many people outside that auditorium are...

Update: Chris Durang on the Huffington Post makes an observation that I sort of intimated but didn't say directly and that needs to be said: "Colbert stood on the dais near the President and kept making eye contact with him as he said truly biting comic remarks.... It's very witty when you read the text; but actuality as Colbert says these things to the President's face, it's very uncomfortable. Watching it, it's like Hamlet forcing King Claudius to watch the play that accuses him of murder... Colbert's was a brave and shocking performance..."

I absolutely agree. The chance to figuratively spit in the eye of Bush or Cheney, to tell them to their face what evil and reprehensible people they are, is something that occupies my daydreams pretty frequently. Stephen Colbert just did that last Saturday night.