Tuesday Reads: Tim Burton, Presidential Polls, Romney on Spain, and More

Good Morning!!

Before I get going with the news, I want to recommend a wonderful movie. Yesterday afternoon, I took my nephews to see Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie, and I loved it! Trust me, it isn’t just for kids. It’s a funny, touching story about a boy and his dog as well as a great homage to horror movies. There’s even a scene where the science teacher, who looks like Vincent Price and talks like Bela Lugosi, tells a meeting of parents complaining about his class that they’re ignorant and prefer fantasy to science.

The Boston Globe reviewer gave the movie four stars, which is unheard of for a film aimed at children. There’s a wonderful backstory too:

In 1984, when he was an eccentric young animator working for Disney, the young Burton made a 30-minute live-action short called “Frankenweenie,” about a boy named Victor and the scrappy pet he brings back to life after it’s hit by a car. The movie was weird, it was inventive, and it spooked the bejesus out of Disney executives, who refused to release it and fired Burton. After the director became famous in the wake of “Edward Scissorhands,” the company put it out on VHS; it now can be found as an extra on the “Nightmare Before Christmas” DVD.

The current entertainment landscape has been effectively Burton-ized; this season alone, there are two pallid family-film imitations, “ParaNorman” and “Hotel Transylvania,” that arguably wouldn’t exist had the director not made the world safe for light pop-goth gloom. The new, improved “Frankenweenie” is thus not only revenge served sweetly — it’s being released by Disney, tail between its legs — but a reminder that, at his best, Burton belongs in the same bleakly charming league as Charles Addams and Edward Gorey.

Now I think I need to watch Ed Wood again.

That was such a nice break from all the depressing news about Mitt Romney and other insane Republicans. Now lets see what’s in the news today.

Everyone is talking about the latest Pew Poll which has Romney leading by 4–quite a shock. Even more shocking, TPM’s polltracker average now has Romney ahead of Obama by close to 3 points. On the other hand, today’s Gallup tracking polls shows Obama ahead by 5 points. Weird.

Now for a little expert analysis. Nate Silver advises: Amid Volatile Polling, Keep an Eye on Election Fundamentals

Mr. Obama got a bounce coming out of Charlotte, and it had some staying power — with his national lead appearing to peak at about five or six percentage points. But polling released immediately after the debate seemed to suggest that Mr. Romney had drawn into a rough national tie.

By the weekend, however — after the release of a favorable jobs report last Friday — Mr. Romney’s bounce seemed to be receding some. Tracking polls released on Monday by Gallup and Rasmussen Reports actually showed a shift back toward Mr. Obama, although another poll by Pew Research showed Mr. Romney with a four-point lead among likely voters.

Polling data is often very noisy, and not all polls use equally rigorous methodology. But the polls, as a whole, remain consistent with the idea that they may end up settling where they were before the conventions, with Mr. Obama ahead by about two points. Such an outcome would be in line with what history and the fundamentals of the economy would lead you to expect.

Keep in mind:

Challengers also generally profit from the first debate: in 8 of the 10 election cycles since 1976, the polls moved against the incumbent, and a net gain of two or three percentage points for the challenger is a reasonably typical figure.

At the same time, incumbent presidents just aren’t that easy to defeat. Mr. Obama’s approval ratings are now hovering around 50 percent and don’t seem to have been negatively affected by his performance in Denver. Although Mr. Obama’s approval ratings may be slightly lower among those most likely to vote — meaning that Mr. Romney could win with a strong turnout — historically that number has been just good enough to re-elect an incumbent.

David Adkins of Hullabaloo took a look at the internals of the Pew poll and found some interesting tidbits:

– For starters, a full two-thirds of the respondents were over 50 years old. Is that likely to be the shape of the electorate? Very likely not.

– A full 77% of the respondents were white. That is almost certainly not going to reflect the final electorate.

– A large preponderance of the respondents were from the South (449), with the next highest total from the Midwest (294), and only 219 from the Northeast and 239 from the West. There will not be twice as many voters from the South in the election as from the Northeast or the West.

– Finally, more respondents claimed to be Republicans than Democrats, which would destroy the President’s chances in November automatically. It’s possible for the final electorate to resemble that Party ID, but unlikely.

Read the rest at the link. I found it helpful. Markos also had a good post on the polls yesterday, if you don’t mind going to the orange place. He noted that the PPP poll to be released today will also have Romney in the lead nationally.

Paul Waldman asks the same question I ask myself every Monday: Why Do the Sunday Shows Suck So Much?

In the American media landscape, there is no single forum more prestigious than the Sunday shows—particularly the three network programs, and to a slightly lesser extent “Fox News Sunday” and CNN’s “State of the Union.” The Sunday shows are where “newsmakers” face the music, where Washington’s most important people are validated for their importance, where issues are probed in depth. So, why do they suck so much?

I live and breathe politics, yet I find these programs absolutely unwatchable, and I can’t be the only one. On a typical episode, there is nothing to learn, no insight to be gained, no interesting perspective on offer, nothing but an endless spew of talking points and squabbling. Let’s take, for instance, yesterday’s installment of “This Week With George Stephanopoulos.” We start off with dueling interviews with Obama adviser Robert Gibbs and Romney adviser Ed Gillespie. Were you expecting some candid talk from these two political veterans? Of course you weren’t. “If you’re willing to say anything to get elected president,” Gibbs says about Mitt Romney, “if you are willing to make up your positions and walk away from them, I think the American people have to understand, how can they trust you if you are elected president.” Which just happens to be precisely the message of a new Obama ad. What a fascinating coincidence! And you’ll be shocked to learn that Gillespie thought Romney did a great job in the debate: “Governor Romney laid out a plan for turning this economy around, getting things moving again. He had a fact-based critique of President Obama’s failed policies that the president was unable to respond to.” You don’t say!

Go read the whole thing. It’s not long.

As you know, Mitt Romney gave a foreign policy speech yesterday, and it isn’t getting great reviews except among the ultra-right wingers. Dakinkat wrote about it yesterday afternoon. This story is a few days old, but I wanted to call attention to it because it didn’t get a whole lot of coverage. During the debate last Wednesday, Romney made some (inaccurate, natch) remarks about Spain that caused some outrage over there. Here’s what he said:

“Spain spends 42 percent of their total economy on government. We’re now spending 42 percent of our economy on government. I don’t want to go down the path of Spain. I want to put more Americans to work.”

That did not go over well in Spain, where it was seen as on a par with the bumbling, insulting remarks Romney made when he was in Great Britain for the Olympics. Some reactions:

Fox News Latino: Mitt Romney Spain Jab Adds to Foreign Policy Woes

It has become apparent to some that Mitt Romney is in need of a crash course in Diplomacy 101.

He irritated Britons and Palestinians during a summer tour abroad and has declared Russia to be America’s No. 1 geopolitical foe. Just last week, the Republican candidate, who plans a foreign policy speech Monday, raised eyebrows in Spain by holding it up as a prime example of government spending run amok.
That left Spaniards confused, and threatened to reinforce Romney’s perceived handicap in international affairs….

Spanish reaction to Romney was swift.
“What I see is ignorance of what is reality, but especially of the potential of the Spanish economy,” said Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria.

Maria Dolores Cospedal, leader of Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s Popular Party, noted that “Spain is not on fire from all sides like some on the outside have suggested.” Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia Margallo called it “very unfortunate that other countries should be put up as examples” when the facts are skewed.

At HuffPo, former Clinton economic adviser Laura Tyson corrected Romney’s inaccuracies:

Mitt Romney made a wildly inaccurate claim during Wednesday’s presidential debate, and Laura Tyson, a former top economic adviser to President Bill Clinton, is calling him out….

But according to Romney’s campaign website, government spending accounted for only 24 percent of gross domestic product last year. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says that government spending is 23 percent of GDP.

“I have no idea where that number came from,” Tyson, a professor at the University of California at Berkeley, told The Huffington Post after the debate. “That is certainly not a number that is consistent with the facts.”

Tyson said she couldn’t tell whether Romney said it “knowing it was wrong” or whether he “mixed the numbers up in his head.” But nonetheless, she said, “It’s clearly wrong.”

Tyson added that when it comes to taxes, “we’re not anywhere near countries like Spain.”

The Boston Globe reports that as many as 13,000 people may have gotten tainted steroid injections from a Framingham, MA pharmacy and could be at risk of getting meningitis.

US health officials on Monday said that 13,000 patients in 23 states, including Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire, have been injected with a potentially tainted steroid treatment made by a Framingham pharmacy, more information can be found here and linked to a national outbreak of meningitis.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gave its sweeping estimate of the reach of the crisis as it reported 14 new cases of the disease, and another death in Tennessee, which appears to be the hardest hit among the states where the rare and serious form of fungal meningitis has been confirmed.

“We know that 13,000 people received the injection,” said Jamila Jones, a public affairs specilialist for the CDC in Atlanta. “They received it at facilities across the country. They are at risk.”

So far, 105 cases and eight deaths have been confirmed nationally, the agency said.

The steroid, called methylprednisolone acetate, was made by New England Compounding Center in Framingham, which voluntarily ceased operations Oct. 3 amid a widening probe of the treatment and its use at dozens of health care facilities from New Hampshire to California.

Very scary.

Now it’s your turn. What are you reading and blogging about today? I look forward to clicking on your links!

Late Night Evening Reads: Chimp with a rock and Disappointment at the Movies…

Vintage artwork from the story of Cinderella…

Good Evening!

Yes, Friday is finally here…and unfortunately so am I. Today was the opening of Dark Shadows, and as you are well aware, I have been anxiously waiting for this day to come. I had planned to get myself out of Banjoville and head down to Atlanta to see the film on a big IMAX screen.

But little did I know that the reviews would be so damn bad, and from critics who I trust.

Here are a few links to reviews via Rotten Tomatoes, but I can sum it up like this…As critic, Jay Sherman, so aptly put into words… Tim Burton and Johnny Depp’s new movie Dark Shadows?

It Stinks!

Roger Ebert:

It offers wonderful things, but they aren’t what’s important. It’s as if Burton directed at arm’s length, unwilling to find juice in the story.” — Chicago Sun-Times

Posted May 10, 2012

Manohla Dargis:

“Dark Shadows” isn’t among Mr. Burton’s most richly realized works, but it’s very enjoyable, visually sumptuous and, despite its lugubrious source material and a sporadic tremor of violence, surprisingly effervescent.” — New York Times

Posted May 10, 2012

Leonard Maltin:

‘Dark Shadows’ is an amusing piece of high camp, stoked by Depp’s deadpan star performance and the kind of elaborate trappings one would expect from Burton.” — Leonard Maltin’s Picks

Posted May 11, 2012
Steven Cole:
Dark Shadows’ only meaningful relationship is between Depp and his audience. He’s a persona now, no longer an actor.” — Globe and Mail

Posted May 11, 2012
Tom Long:
Eric D. Snider: (Just a Side note, I trust Snider…big time.)
Keith Turan:
Two from NPR…First, Bob Mondello:
And then David Edelstein:
Peter Travers:
And finally…Richard Roeper:
Oh…the horrors! It looks like the only good parts were clipped in the previews!
Most of the reviews I have read speak highly of the sets and costumes, and also give good reviews of Eva Green’s performance, but with reviews like that, how could I justify driving down three hours to Atlanta and spend so much money on tickets and gas? So, I decided to see it tomorrow here in Banjoland…at the matinee, so I will let you know exactly what I thought about it on Sunday morning…or if it really sucks and therefore truly pisses me off, I will write about it Saturday night.
Just one more link for you tonight…a few days ago I wrote about a couple orangutans using iPads. So, I want to follow that up with a story about a chimpanzee who has given some animal behavioral scientist something to write papers about. Check it out: Stone-Throwing Chimp Thinks Ahead | Wired Science | Wired.com
Three years ago, a stone-throwing chimpanzee named Santino jolted the research community by providing some of the strongest evidence yet that nonhumans could plan ahead. Santino, a resident of the Furuvik Zoo in Gävle, Sweden, calmly gathered stones in the mornings and put them into neat piles, apparently saving them to hurl at visitors when the zoo opened as part of angry and aggressive “dominance displays.”
But some researchers were skeptical that Santino really was planning for a future emotional outburst. Perhaps he was just repeating previously learned responses to the zoo visitors, via a cognitively simpler process called associative learning. And it is normal behavior for dominant male chimps to throw things at visitors, such as sticks, branches, rocks, and even feces. Now Santino is back in the scientific literature, the subject of new claims that he has begun to conceal the stones so he can get a closer aim at his targets—further evidence that he is thinking ahead like humans do.
Yup, Santino is a chimp after my own heart. I think I may take a lesson from him and bring some rocks when I go to see Dark Shadows tomorrow…
primatologist Mathias Osvath of Lund University in Sweden—author of the earlier Santino paper—teams up with Lund University primatologist Elin Karvonen to report new observations of Santino’s behavior during 2010. Santino’s first attempts to throw stones during 2010 came during the May preseason. As a zoo guide led visitors toward Santino’s island compound, the chimpanzee began to engage in a typical dominance display: screeching, standing on two feet, and carrying a stone in his hand. The guide and the visitors retreated before Santino began hurling the stones, and then advanced again for a total of three approaches. When the people returned about 3 hours later, Santino advanced toward them, holding two stones, but he did not act aggressively, even picking up an apple from the water surrounding the island and nonchalantly munching on it. But when Santino got within close range, he suddenly threw one of the stones. (It didn’t hit anyone.)The next day, Santino again threatened visitors with stones, but the group again backed away to avoid being hit. Santino was then observed pulling a heap of hay from inside his enclosure and placing it on the island close to where the visitors approached. He put several stones under the hay and waited until the group returned about an hour later. Then, without performing a dominance display, Santino pulled a stone from under the hay and threw it. Later, he pulled a stone that he had apparently hidden behind a log and tried to hit the visitors with that, as well.Over the course of the summer, Osvath and Karvonen observed repeated episodes of this behavior, and also recovered stones that Santino had hidden under hay or logs, racking up 114 days of observation. They recovered a total of 35 projectiles that Santino had apparently concealed: 15 under hay heaps, 18 behind logs, and two behind a rock structure on the island. The researchers conclude that Santino deliberately engaged in deceptive concealment of the stones, and that this was a new, innovative behavior on his part: Before 2010, Santino had never put stones under hay piles or behind logs.This innovation, the team argues, is further evidence that Santino plans ahead for how he will react to the visitors’ approach to his compound, and that this is inconsistent with interpretations that he cached the stones for some other reason and then just happened to have them at hand when he got mad. By hiding the stones and then trying to deceive zoo visitors into thinking that his intentions were peaceful, Osvath and Karvonen argue, Santino was actually anticipating and planning for a future situation rather than simply responding repetitively to a past one.And because the team was able to observe this new behavior from its very beginning, Osvath and Karvonen argue, the new study overcomes some of the objections to the earlier report. “No matter what mechanisms lie behind the behavior,” Osvath says, Santino is engaging in planning for the future, and “that is not trivial.”
Well, the science community is not completely rolled over by the study, but still…you gotta admit, that is one hell of a way to get your point across. Hmmm…have to remember to bring some hay with me tomorrow, along with a little arsenal of rocks and rotten tomatoes. Perhaps a few slime covered, fuzzy pieces of fruit tossed towards Johnny Depp and those long pointy fingers will help me to release my frustration and disappointment in Burton’s latest flop. Who knows?
I think I will sit and brood a bit…This is an open thread, have a wonderful night!
(…dammit, I knew I should not have gotten myself so excited about this Dark Shadows remake, ugh.)

SDB Evening News Reads for 092611: Baby, Baby, Baby…

Good evening!

I have a basket full of links for you today, with so much discussion going on, it seems fitting to catch you up on things.

There is still a protest going on in the Financial District of Manhattan. I especially like the image that is used on this post from FDL.

Obama’s speech to the CBC is getting plenty notice in the left leaning blogosphere. Blue Texan has a little round up on what is being said here.

Over at C&L, Susie Madrak points out that a recent Washington Post/ABC News Poll shows Obama’s numbers of approval are dropping among the black community.  Perhaps the tone of his speech on Saturday was the wrong tack to take?

And as for the questions of racism, this is what Madrak has to say:

Once again, a member of the media/academic Village misses the obvious: We didn’t have all these people struggling to find work during the Clinton administration. In fact, unemployment was at 4.7 percent – not like the double-digit, long-term unemployment we have now. Not this sense of hopelessness.

It’s still the economy. Racism didn’t magically disappear, but the economy still matters more than anything else.

Also on C&L, this from Jon Perr: Cherry-Picked Patriotism or Only Hating the Wrong Kind of Americans 

Liberals, as the tired conservative slander goes, hate America. This, of course, is nonsense. Liberals simply want to deliver on the national promise of a more perfect union, to shorten the distance, as Bruce Springsteen aptly put it, “between American ideals and American reality.”

But if the past three Republican presidential debates are any indicator, it would appear that conservatives hate Americans. Or more precisely, some Americans. As audiences of the faithful booed an active duty U.S. soldier because he is gay and cheered the deaths of executed prisoners and the uninsured alike, the GOP White House hopefuls on stage remained silent. All because, it seems, they had to. Sadly, that complicity is apparently now a requirement to lead a Republican Party in which demonizing gays, minorities, immigrants and Muslims – that is, hating Americans – is increasingly a centerpiece of its politics.

It is a rather long piece, so give it a quick once over.

The news from FEMA is not very encouraging: FEMA says disaster fund will run dry on Tuesday or Wednesday 

With the House and Senate at odds over a stopgap spending bill that includes more money for natural disaster relief, the agency that needs the money says it can hold out for a few more days.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has $175 million in its disaster relief fund and the balance could reach zero by Tuesday or Wednesday, an agency spokeswoman said.

The timing is key because the Senate is not expected to vote until late Monday afternoon on an amendment to a House-passed spending bill that includes funding to replenish the FEMA coffers. Republican and Democratic leaders were arguing on Friday about the bill and when exactly the agency will run out of money.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) had warned on Thursday night that FEMA would run dry as early as Monday, but the next morning, he said he talked to the agency’s director and been told that FEMA was not running out that early.

GOP leaders took up the call, however, and on Friday they repeated warnings that the agency’s funding expired on Monday.

“If Congress does allow the balance of the Disaster Relief Fund to reach zero, there are laws that govern federal agency operations in the absence of funding,” FEMA spokeswoman Rachel Racusen said. “Under law, FEMA would be forced to temporarily shut down disaster recovery and assistance operations, including financial assistance to individuals until Congress appropriated more funds.  This would include all past and current FEMA recovery operations.”

To imagine that elected officials will bicker over emergency funding is outrageous. I am completely disgusted with all of them swamp critters.

This from Major Garrett, Congress Is Failing …

Remember the time when being a political junkie meant you had an insatiable curiosity about the twists and turns in the policies, personalities, ideas, debates, and outcomes in Washington?

Now it means you just sift junk.

Today’s daggers-drawn standoff over disaster funding and keeping the government open is but the latest tragic-comedy manifestation of a legislative and political system mired in madness.

By all accounts, the Disaster Relief Fund within the Federal Emergency Management Agency will run out of money as early as Monday. It may stay afloat until Wednesday. That means by the middle of next week, the world’s most powerful economy, sickened and weakened by declining consumer confidence and persistent unemployment, will consciously decide not to help its citizens and businesses recover from natural disasters–thereby prolonging economic and emotional misery in dozens of states. What’s more, this same government appears headed for another shutdown or, at minimum, a period of insecurity about a shutdown that will only intensify economic jitters.

There are, of course, legislative and political reasons behind this stalemate. The question, though, is do they make any sense outside of the 202 area code?

Ah…the idea that any of the idiots in DC actually pay attention to the people back home? It is nice to think so isn’t it?

Does anyone honestly believe a victim of Hurricane Irene floodwaters cares whether or not House and Senate Democrats have found unity in their fight with Republicans over disaster funding? Washington tends toward insularity and always has. It always feels a bit alien and characterized by inordinate navel-gazing, partisan high-fiving, and slow-moving legislative chess matches. But even by these standards, this week’s stalemate appears to have reached a new low of cloakroom craziness–where something that seems justified in the cloakroom (building party unity, scoring legislative points, shielding sacred cows) looks like malpractice to the average taxpayer.


Everyone is to blame: The administration was slow to move on disaster funding, ignoring House GOP demands to engage on the question as the House drafted and passed in June a Homeland Security spending bill that boosted disaster aid over Obama’s request by $2 billion. Senate Democrats did almost nothing to move a Homeland Security spending bill in response to the House bill. House Republicans chose to offset some of its disaster funding by cutting funding to a program it knew the administration valued–the Advanced Vehicle Manufacturing Loan program that seeks to fund the development of fuel-efficient vehicles. The House GOP didn’t cut any of its favored programs, only one it knew the administration wanted to protect.


…this debate is no longer about how much money to give the Federal Emergency Management Agency. It’s about the parties wanting to lay down markers about unity, their ability to defend turf, and their willingness to fight over the smallest issues–even if it means threatening for the second time this year a government shutdown and leaving penniless the Disaster Relief Fund and the victims it serves.

That may make sense in the House and Senate cloakrooms. It may make for tight sound-bites at the microphones. But it looks and sounds like a Beltway culture that’s lost sight of the people it is meant to serve and the rudimentary tasks of governing it is obligated to carry out.

I want to move on to some items about woman’s issues now.

First, today the first African woman to win a Nobel Peace Price has died.  Wangari Maathai, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Dies at 71 – NYTimes.com

Wangari Maathai, the Kenyan environmentalist who began a movement to reforest her country by paying poor women a few shillings to plant trees and who went on to become the first African woman to win a Nobel Peace Prize, died here on Sunday. She was 71.


Dr. Maathai, one of the most widely respected women on the continent, played many roles — environmentalist, feminist, politician, professor, rabble-rouser, human rights advocate and head of the Green Belt Movement, which she founded in 1977. Its mission was to plant trees across Kenya to fight erosion and to create firewood for fuel and jobs for women.

Dr. Maathai was as comfortable in the gritty streets of Nairobi’s slums or the muddy hillsides of central Kenya as she was hobnobbing with heads of state. She won the Peace Prize in 2004 for what the Nobel committee called “her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace.” It was a moment of immense pride in Kenya and across Africa.

Hillary Clinton had this to say, via the State Department Blog Dipnote: The Passing of Dr. Wangari Maathai | U.S. Department of State Blog

Wangari Maathai on stage at the Nobel Peace Prize Concert in Oslo on December 11, 2004. [AP File Photo]

“I was deeply saddened to learn of the death of Wangari Maathai. The world has lost a powerful force for peace, democracy and women’s rights.

“From early on, Dr. Maathai was a tireless advocate for the environment, for women and for all those in the developing world who are unable to realize their potential. She founded the Green Belt Movement that has planted millions of trees and helped women throughout Africa improve their lives and the futures of their families and their communities. She understood the deep connection between local and global problems, and she helped give ordinary citizens a voice. Her death has left a gaping hole among the ranks of women leaders, but she leaves behind a solid foundation for others to build upon. I was inspired by her story and proud to call her my friend.

“My thoughts and prayers are with her three children, Waweru, Wanjira and Muta, and her granddaughter, Ruth Wangari.”

This next two articles over at RH Reality Check caught my eye, first Give Planned Parenthood Funds To Churches!

We’ve been hearing the argument for months now that Planned Parenthood shouldn’t receive federal funds. Women never need abortions (not that Planned Parenthood could use federal funds for that, anyway), doctors can work out payment plans with patients, “pregnancy centers” can give women all the support they need to give birth, contraception isn’t a necessity anyway, etc.

Normally, the reasons rattled off all lead to “defund reproductive health, give money to crisis pregnancy centers.”  Not this time, though.

Via the Concord Monitor:

I would like to see a budget from Planned Parenthood. How much money goes into the pocket of policy advisers and how much to the abortion provider? How much really goes to the “poor” women?

I find it contradictory that we are in New Hampshire, one with the lowest poverty rate, yet we need $1 million to cover poor women.

In the name of “help” do any people volunteer at Planned Parenthood like Care Net [Pregnancy Center]?

I raised five sons well as a “poor” woman with hard work and budgeting and found Care Net to be there to help with clothing and education. Also, the churches were a wealth of resources. Let’s give them $1 million!

Federally funded churches?  Now, how did no one ever think of that?

And this next one: My How Things Change! President Bush Praises Family Planning… 

If you thought the whole “he was for it before he was against it” thing was an artifact of the John Kerry campaign, think again.  As United States Ambassador to the United Nations under the Nixon Administration, President George H.W. Bush (the first President Bush) wrote a letter to Alan Guttmacher (founder of the Guttmacher Institute) congratulating him on creation of a “family planning” stamp commemorating (gasp!!) Margaret Sanger.

This was in the good ol’ days: Republicans were for it before they were against it.  The Bush family sat on the board of Planned Parenthood and in numerous and sundry other ways supported global efforts to promote access to family planning services.

While women’s rights have always been political, this was before it became fashionable and politically expedient to quite obviously sacrifice both evidence and women’s bodies openly on the altar of electoral gains.

The letter is from March 28, 1972…

This just gets me giggling…how things change.

On to some “progressive” men, and their misogynistic approach to feminist talking points, so succinctly discussed by Historiann.  So-called “progressive” Michael Moore shows how to shut down a feminist critique 

I clicked on this link because RealClearPolitics has it headlined “Jane Harman Calls Out Bill Maher’s Sexism.”  Unfortunately, it’s more effective as an object lesson in how so-called “progressive” men like Maher and Moore maneuver to shut down feminist viewpoints and conversations.  Former Congresswoman Jane Harman gives up on her challenge to Maher’s sexist description of a “blonde twink” on Fox News Channel, and her observation that she’s one of one women invited to last week’s show.  She does this even after noting that the dynamic is identical to that described in “the book of the month” by Ron Suskind, with its description of the gender politics in the Obama White HouseCheck it out, with permission to shut down the conversation about sexism granted by Bill Maher and an assist by John Avlon.

Be sure to play it through to the end, where Moore accuses Maher of being “secretly attracted to” the “blonde twink” referenced earlier in the conversation, and the two joke around about Maher’s horndoggery with conservative women.  Awesome!!!  Of course, sex bias isn’t operative here, because Moore loves his wife, and Maher loves him his “blonde twinks.”  Move along, sweeties, nothing to see here. . .

This weekend, the Saudi King made news by suggesting women will get the right to vote some day in Saudi Arabia…but today, this is the kind of news coming from a Saudi lawyer and rights advocate. Trial of Saudi woman for violating ban on female drivers reveals limits of king’s reform drive 

…authorities will bring a Saudi activist to trial for defying the kingdom’s female driving ban.

The attorney, Waleed Aboul Khair, says Najalaa Harrir was summoned for questioning by the prosecutor general in the port city of Jeddah on Sunday, the same day that Saudi King Abdullah introduced reforms giving women the right to vote and run in local elections four years from now.

Harrir is one of dozens of Saudi female activists behind a campaign called “My Right, My Dignity” that is aimed at ending discrimination against women, including the driving ban, in the ultraconservative Islamic country.

Whoa…that was a few amusing and disturbing items wasn’t it?

I am going to veer away from the heavy stuff and indulge in a few different bits of interest…

The recent changes on Facebook are getting annoying…and now I read this and wonder if the PATRIOT Act is not the only thing stepping all over our privacy rights.  Facebook Cookies are Tracking You Even When You Log Out | Geekosystem

If the frictionless (read: permission-less) sharing involved with the new Facebook Timeline weirds you out a little, blogger Nik Cubrilovic has some more unsettling news for you. As it turns out, Facebook has cookies that will track the website you go to for its own purposes in addition to purposes that could arguably be for “sharing.” If you log out, the cookies are not deleted, but instead modified and will still able to track letting Facebook keep an eye on the websites you visit.

Cubrilovic had been working on a project involving fake Facebook accounts when he was tipped off to the situation. Despite the fact that his fake Facebook accounts were unconnected to his real account and that none of them were ever signed in simultaneously, Facebook started listing his real account as a suggested friend for his fake accounts. Facebook was keeping track of who was logging in and from where.

This isn’t the first time that people have started to get concerned about Facebook’s ability to track user activity, logged in or not. In fact, the German state Schleswig-Holstein outlawed embedded “like” buttons on its state websites for exactly that reason; they send information about the user on the site back to Facebook. The discovery that this behavior does not only apply to sites with Facebook functionality but just sites in general plus browser information is a little worrisome.


There’s no telling how Facebook will respond to the issue, if it ever does, but in the meantime users are stuck with the choice of letting Facebook see their information or getting in the habit of performing a meticulous clean-up ritual. With any luck, maybe all this will inspire a nice, up-to-date, 3rd party Facebook client with an emphasis on user security. Either way, for now, just be aware that you’re being watched.

(via Sydney Morning Herald)

Ah, being watched by Facebook…creeps me out something fierce!

The next couple of links are personal in nature, in that they bring about excited anticipation…and one hell of a good laugh.

When I was a kid, I absolutely loved Dark Shadows and the main character Barnabas Collins, played by Jonathan Frid. (Those remakes during the 80’s and 90’s where crap…with a capital CRAP.)  I never saw the show live, but they had syndicated re-runs on the local Tampa station channel 44…the same place to check out the old “Creature Feature’s with Dr. Paul Bearer.”  I used to hold my old tape recorder up to the TV to get the opening sequence theme music…made up goofy lyrics to the song “Betty Davis Eyes” with the obvious changes referring to “Julia Hoffman Eyes.”  That included the stuttering way the great Grayson Hall pronounced B…bbbbbb….b…Barnabas.

Yes, I had pictures of Jonathan Frid hanging up on my wall above my bed, while everyone else was crazy for the big hair bands, Michael Jackson and Tom Cruise…I was nuts for a dark character portrayed by an aging Canadian actor. Even when I was in college, I had a pet cockatiel that could sing that opening theme song I used to record on the old tape recorder perfectly…weird in a pathetic sort of way isn’t it?

So it was so thrilling for me to see this article about the 2012 release of Dark Shadows directed by Tim Burton and starring Johnny Depp:  Johnny Depp’s ‘Dark Shadows’ vampire revealed! | Inside Movies | EW.com

Photo by Leah Gallo

Behold the real visage of Johnny Depp’s vampire from Dark Shadows!

Last week, long-range paparazzi shots of the actor wearing ghostly white makeup, large sunglasses and a pulled down fedora made fans of the original 1966-71 supernatural soap opera bristle nervously, with complaints he looked simply too strange.

Nevermind that he’s playing a 200-year-old vampire, which is strange enough.

As you can see from this cast shot, Depp’s bloodsucking pater familias Barnabas Collins actually borrows heavily from the aged-little boy look of original Dark Shadows star Jonathan Frid — not that anyone would be happy to see this guy show up as your prom date either.

Still, this official First Look may reassure those die-hard fans of the original series, memorably offbeat ABC daytime drama about a vampire whose extended family are bedeviled by ghosts, witches, and other gothic woes.

Depp, who fought for years to make this movie, is one of those fans. “I do remember, very vividly, practically sprinting home from school in the afternoon to see Jonathan Frid play Barnabas Collins,” the actor says. “Even then, at that age, I knew — this has got to be weird.”

Weird certainly sums up this particular family portrait — a shot director Tim Burton, who also obsessed over Dark Shadows as a boy, staged in the early days of production.

“I remember seeing a group photograph of the cast of the original series,” he tells EW. “For me it captured the weird Dark Shadows vibe in a single image. I had a brief window of opportunity to have our cast present at the same time, the day before principle photography began. We decided to stage a similar picture instead of rehearsing, to see if we captured the Dark Shadows feeling.”

Here’s who those family members are, one by one.

Click that link up top to read the little bits of commentary on each character. I can’t wait to see it!

I am going to end with this tribute from South Park to Justin Bieber.  It made me laugh to think of my own Barnabas fantasies, when compared with the young fantasies of today’s tweens.  This clip is hilarious, I hope you enjoy it…

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Well, that is what I have for you this evening.  Catch y’all later in the comments, until then…”Ooooooo Baby, Baby, Baby….Oooooooo!”