Green Voicemail

Friday, July 02, 2004

Marlon Brando, 1924-2004

I was reading my daily Collective Sigh and learned that Marlon Brando has passed away. He was eighty.

I really don't know where the pic above comes from, I suspect it is a studio pic. I wanted to use a pic not associated with any of the multiple great movies he starred in, including "The Wild One", "Apocalypse Now", "Last Tango in Paris", and of course, "The Godfather, Part I".

The last time I saw Marlon Brando "act" was a brief appearance in one of Michael Jackson's 15 minute music videos, post "Bad". It was an awful song, with awful dancing, and a Brando that looked like the Michelin Man. I suspect that a string had to be tied to Brando's ankle to keep him from rising up and floating off the set. He played a gangster, wearing a pinstriped suit, a hat at a cocky angle, and he had no speaking lines. He just whistled. (Homage to "Guys and Dolls"?)

Marlon Brando was considered in the 1950s to be the epitome of raw, brutish sensuality. He was the person who put the school of "method acting" on the map, and his talent was obvious. Unfortunately, his personal idiosyncracies and his battle with weight made him a joke in his later years, and his last twenty years or so were spent on an isolated island somewhere in Tahiti (I might not be right about that).

I remember someone speaking about "The Godfather" and the decisions to cast the part that Brando played, the patriarch of the Mafia family, Don Vito Corleone. Laurence Olivier did a reading for the part. He was surprisingly good. They said that Olivier had a sort of cocky. joyful style that played Corleone as a New World Wise Guy made good.

When Brando did his readings with the other actors, James Caan and Al Pacino, the story was that when Brando did his reading...he COMMANDED. The other actors were aghast. Clearly, the casting of Brando was the right choice, a better choice than even Olivier.

Brando was cool before cool was cool. Let's try to forget the embarrassing years, and remember the good movies. Rest in Peace, Johnny.

posted by Green Voicemail 7/02/2004 10:56:00 AM

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Too Close for Comfort

From Daily Kos , two very similar op-ed articles appeared in major US papers today. One comes out in the Washington Post, called (subscription) Why We Need the Draft Back , by Noel Koch. The other came out yesterday in USA Today, called Bring Back The (Don't Say 'Draft') , by Don Campbell.

The articles attempt to convince the reader that the draft is, well...good for America! Combined, both articles try to couch an argument for the Draft in liberal terms.

Like...the draft brings the races together!

Rich and poor serve together!

People need to learn the meaning of sacrifice for a common goal!

John Kerry called for more troops in Iraq !!

My answer to Mr. Koch and Mr. Campbell is: how fucking stupid do you think we are?

posted by Green Voicemail 7/01/2004 06:51:00 PM

New Kickass Blog Title

Just discovered a new kickass blog. Short, and to the point. It's called the Current Events Monitor , and if you're too lazy to point and click, it will also go into the right column for a little while.

Great cartoon from the site, and there's a new cartoon every day, it seems!

Hear ye, hear ye, check it out. As for the OLD Kickass Blog Title, The Fulcrum will go up on the right side (!) for a little while, too.

posted by Green Voicemail 7/01/2004 06:34:00 PM

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Sell! Sell! For God's Sakes, Sell!!


I found out that somehow, a site called BlogShares had me listed as a blog which one could "buy" or "sell" stock in. Apparently, blogshares is a game where you can buy shares in the most popular blogs depending on whether or not other popular blogs link to you, a process not unlike the tables at a high school cafeteria.

So I linked to their game and voted my blog as a "liberal" blog. I've not ever checked out well GVM is doing in the infamous "Ecosystem". Funny, a Green-leaning blog looking for feedback from the capitalists instead of the environment.

So,while setting up the BlogShares site to recognize me, I removed one of my "bloggers who blog good" links because I wasn't visiting the site that much. I replaced it with Steve Gilliard, one of those writers about whom you say, "Boy, I wish I could write like that!!"

It's funny. Of course, I've done a Google search on myself. I have one other major hobby other than political blogging, which is my fanatical devotion to a not-so-well known cartoon.

I've been following the cartoon for four YEARS.

I've been a political blogger for six MONTHS.

My Google results for the political blog are DOUBLE my results from my contributions to the cartoon fandom, which shall be nameless for now.

Will someone please step on my ego? Say, someone from any of the blogs that visit this site, which are much better than this one? I tell you, the more of your blogs I read out there, the harder I have to work! And by the way, if you own any BlogShares in Green Voicemail, I promise I'll work very hard to earn my salary!

posted by Green Voicemail 6/30/2004 10:34:00 PM

A Pitcher of Warm Spit

It's summer, and a young man's fancy turns to the Democratic Vice-Presidential nominee. (Okay. It doesn't turn there. Be that way.)

With every one -- both conservatives and progressives -- bloviating about who the choice is going to be, I decided to go to the pseudoultimate authority: the betting guys at Tradesports , the friendliest off-shore betting corporation you'll ever meet.

To wit, here are the front runners, followed by strength of shares. 0=no chance, 100=dead certain:

1. John Edwards -- 52

2. "Somebody Else" -- 15

3. Hillary Clinton -- 12

4. Dick Gephardt -- 10

5. Bill Richardson -- 5

From my brief experience on this earth, Vice-Presidents are chosen for only one of three reasons:

1. To bring the party together,

2. To appeal to some base that the presidential nominee can't appeal to, or

3. To be a completely useless schmo in order to make the nominee look all that much better.

(Cheney's choice was an exception, since Cheney was actually chosen to be the President, not the Vice-President.)

If there's any real division in the party, it's with Kerry and the progressive wing of the party. The progressive wing supports Kerry pragmatically and almost reluctantly. Kerry can basically be assured of as much support as he's going to get. He doesn't dare pick anyone seen as a progressive, since that would alienate centrist-leaning Democrats.

The only base that the nominee can't appeal to would be white males. As a matter of fact, one could simply rename the Republican Party the "party of white males" and you wouldn't be far from the truth. If you look at just white males, you'd probably get Dole and Bush winning the last two elections easily; if you look at anyone who isn't a white male, it's Clinton and Gore easily.

As for "useless schmo", I don't think that's going to work. The Bush Administration is the administration of useless schmoes; what Kerry needs to exude is competency.

Kerry doesn't like Edwards, and Hillary's not a male. Hate to say it, but that's the way it goes.

Furthermore, there's talk from the Kerry camp of him needing someone that he can "work with". Supposedly Kerry doesn't like Edwards personally and hates Clark because Clark tried to capitalize on "Interngate". This leads one to lead to either Dick Gephardt or Bill Richardson.

I suspect Kerry will pick Gephardt, the Fucking Lead Balloon of the Democratic Party. All of Gephardt's campaigns have been failures and as House Majority Leader, he was a tool. If Kerry picks Gephardt, well, good luck John Kerry.

This leaves two choices for Kerry. Bill Richardson and "Someone Else". "Someone Else" is not Gephardt, Clark, Clinton, Edwards, Richardson, Gore, Bayh, Breaux, Graham, Biden, or Feinstein, Rockefeller, Nelson, or even Howard Dean.

"Someone Else" is Walter Mondale, Geraldine Ferraro, Dan Quayle, Jack Kemp, Dick Cheney. Only two of the "Someone Elses" have ever been Vice-President, and one was for only one term and they were seriously considering dumping Quayle.

If it's "Someone Else", I'll worry. If it's Gephardt, I'll sigh. If it's Richardson, I'll scratch my head.

Kerry needs to either settle with John Edwards (who is probably the candidate with the widest appeal) or with Wesley Clark (two Vietnam-War vets versus two draft dodgers). Anything else is just confusion or madness.

posted by Green Voicemail 6/30/2004 09:38:00 PM

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Run Out on a Rail

There is a great post -- actually two great posts -- at the Defense and the National Interest website by Martin van Creveld. Creveld is a military historian who has written a biography of Israeli general Moshe Dayan.

In these two posts -- "Into the Abyss" and "Why Iraq Will End as Vietnam Did" -- van Creveld draws three powerful conclusions that explain why we are not only losing the war in Iraq, but that America's fate is to be the same as that of the Russians in Afghanistan, but this time, it will be US driving across the Kuwaiti border chased by an angry mob waving their fists at us:

1. Poor intelligence . We've been in Iraq for over a year and frankly, we not only don't know who we're fighting, we don't know how to get to them or how to stop them. We describe the forces arrayed against us as "a loose coalition" or "Ba'ath remnants" or "Saddam's generals" or "bitter enders", but WE DON'T KNOW WHO THEY ARE OR HOW THEY OPERATE. Boy George and President Cheney have claimed for over a year, "al-Qaeda, al-Qaeda, al-Qaeda", and finally, we know that al-Qaeda is there (who could resist such an invitation, given the mess we've made of things?), but even then, the who, what, where, why, and when questions remain completely unanswered.

Most importantly, because we have zero accurate ground intelligence, we end up killing and torturing innocent civilians entirely by mistake. Part of it is frustration, and part of it is having no clear direction from the higher-ups (re: Rumsfeld). When we meet the real enemy, he melts into the population and the more innocents we kill in Iraqnam (or torture in an unnamed prison), the more of a reason we give Iraqi citizens to make common cause with the real bad guys.

2. Hearts and Minds . The dream that we could remake Iraq into the fifty-first state was that -- a dream. It's a traditional American failing, to believe that our culture is so obviously the model of the world that people will just jump at the chance to conform to our way of life.

The problem is you cannot change someone's cultural traditions no matter what physical assistance you give them, and because America's traditions are not Iraq's traditions, Americans will be treated as outsiders -- tolerable misguided nice guys at best, troublesome occupiers at worst. Van Creveld talks about a lot of the chatter from the right wing during the Vietnam Era -- this many schools built, that many immunizations. The Viet Cong burned down the schools. It came to naught.

3. The 'Beating the Weak' Argument . You, I, and my Aunt Gertrude know that the Iraqis, man to man, have no chance against us. They have no navy, no airforce, and a lot of 1980s weaponry. We are the greatest fighting force ever put on the face of the Earth. Paradoxically, this is exactly why we will lose in Iraq.

"To kill an opponent who is much weaker than yourself is unnecessary and therefore cruel; to let that opponent kill you is unnecessary and therefore foolish." In short, if we kill the Iraqi insurgents, we won't be seen as heroes -- not in Iraq, not in the world, and not in many parts of the United States. And if they kills us, well, God forbid. Sooner or later, van Creveld writes, the stronger force begans to collapse from the weight of the dillema.

If there's any essay you should read...well, hell, read BOTH of them.

posted by Green Voicemail 6/27/2004 08:31:00 PM

Go Back to Work, Ralph

From The AP :

MILWAUKEE -- The Green Party nominated Texas attorney David Cobb as its candidate for president Saturday, rejecting Ralph Nader's efforts to secure the party's formal endorsement and likely access to the ballot in key states such as Wisconsin and California.

Nader, the party's candidate in 1996 and 2000, had told Green officials months ago he would not accept the party's nomination for president, preferring to build a coalition of third-party groups and independents rather than running under one banner.

Still, he openly courted their formal endorsement as a means to get on the ballot in the 22 states and Washington, D.C., where the party has a ballot line.

Nice try, Suicide Ralph. Better hire some more Republicans to get your petitions signed.

The choice of Peter Camejo was an odd one. It's true that Camejo only pulled about 7 percent in the recent crazy gubernatorial election in California, but the GP would love to be able to crank out 7 percent results on a regular basis nationally. However, he wants to believe -- or rather, wants to convince his fellow Greens -- that "(Cobb's supporters) continuously try to charge Ralph Nader and the Green Party of accepting Republican money. We accept money from individuals who support us. There is no Republican money or support coming in to Ralph Nader's campaign. That's a lie." Maybe Mr. Camejo should read the papers a bit more.

Indeed, the big knock on Cobb from Camejo's more radical supporters is that Cobb is a member of an imaginary group called the "Demogreens" -- the term is used to describe anyone consider to be a "fellow traveller" with the Democrats, I suppose in the sense that there are some Greens out there that don't think they can make common cause out there with anyone calling himself or herself a Democrat. Indeed, "Demogreen" is not only used as a term of scorn, but one of vicious scorn.

However, Cobb is a firm believer in building the Green Party from the ground up, and not the top down as so many Greens want to do. Furthermore, he's not a radical ideologue like the GP-Nader contingent, the people who seem to demand litmus tests to Green Party loyalty. I hate ideologues. I can't stand them. I hate Republican ideologues. I hate Democratic ideologues. And I hate Green ideologues just as much. I firmly believe that when you say you're a Green, it doesn't mean that you've earned the right to wear a chain and a collar.

Which is why I like Cobb, and can't stand Camejo.

"Demogreens", hm? Well, what do you know? There's a Yahoo! Group called "Demogreens"...seems like some mighty smart people there...I think I'll join....

posted by Green Voicemail 6/27/2004 08:58:00 AM

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