Target Centermass

9/28/2005

Serenity Now!

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:40 pm

No, wait, make that Serenity later.

Yeah, I know I promised a review tonight, but the oncall pager is going off and I’ve got work to do. Besides, as my guest to the early screening, I took a friend and co-worker who was already a fan of the Firefly series on which the movie was based. I want more of his input on my review.

In other words, I’m procrastinating. I will say this, though: go see the movie.

DeLay Blames ‘Fanatic’ DA for Indictment

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:26 pm

Just as a cooling front finally reaches the Lone Star State, a firestorm has erupted in Texas politics, a conflagration with dramatic national ramifications.

A Travis County grand jury today indicted U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Sugar Land on a single count of felony criminal conspiracy involving an exchange of money that made corporate cash available to Republican Texas House candidates in 2002.

“I have done nothing wrong … I am innocent,” DeLay told a Capitol Hill news conference in which he repeatedly criticized the prosecutor, Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle. DeLay called Earle a “unabashed partisan zealot,” and “fanatic,” and described the charges as “one of the weakest and most baseless indictments in American history.”

In Austin, Earle told reporters, “Our job is to prosecute abuses of power and to bring those abuses to the public.” He has noted previously that he has prosecuted many Democrats in the past.

While DeLay retains his seat representing Texas’ 22nd congressional district, the suburbs southwest of Houston, he announced he would temporarily step aside as majority leader. House Republican rules forced him to do so while he fights the charge.

Republicans selected Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., the current Republican whip — No. 3 in the leadership ranks — to fill the vacancy temporarily.

[…]

DeLay has said he believes the investigation by Earle, a Democrat, was politically motivated.

One of DeLay’s lawyers, Bill White, said prior to the indictment being returned that the facts of the case would not support an indictment against DeLay.

“It’s a skunky indictment, if they have one, a dead skunk in the middle of the road, stinking to high heaven,” White said.

The investigation focuses on the activities of a political action committee DeLay formed in 2001 — Texans for a Republican Majority.

It was run by Colyandro with the assistance of Ellis, who is the director of DeLay’s Americans for a Republican Majority.

TRMPAC raised and spent almost $650,000 in corporate money to influence the 2002 Texas House races. State law restricts the use of corporate and labor union money in races for elective office.

The indictment claims DeLay, Ellis and Colyandro conspired to raise $190,000 in corporate money for TRMPAC. The money was then sent to the Republican National Committee and was converted into donations from individual donors, which would have been legal under Texas law for use by a candidate.

The RNC then sent the money to seven specific Texas House candidates, the indictment alleges. Two of the Republicans listed in the indictments are from the Houston area, state Reps. Dwayne Bohac of Houston and Larry Taylor of Friendswood.

Winning control of the Texas House was critical for the election of Tom Craddick of Midland as speaker by a Republican House majority in 2002.

The state House majority also set the stage for Delay to push through a congressional. redistricting plan to draw districts that would give the GOP a majority in the state’s congressional delegation after the 2004 elections

Dr. Steven Taylor at PoliBlog provides a “DeLay Charges for Dummies” (no offense intended, as I actually respect the “… for Dummies” series as helpful introductions to a variety of topics) look at the charges, closing with the following:

If anything, it seems to me that this whole case will underscore the labyrinthine nature of campaign finance rules and regulations.

Translated: if this case goes to trial, it will be one heck of a boring trial. However, the circus outside the courtroom promises to be electric.

James Joyner of Outside the Beltway has a round-up of reactions from both the left and right side of the blogosphere.

I will withhold comment for now. For disclosure’s sake, I will state that, back in the day, my hometown of Angleton was part of Rep. DeLay’s congressional district. I will forever be grateful to the man for honoring me with a dual nomination to both West Point and Annapolis my senior year of high school, even though I eventually chose Texas A&M over those fine American military institutions.

Fall is Here, Chili is Near

Filed under: — Gunner @ 10:24 pm

Autumn has finally reached the DFW region.

After high temperatures last week hovered around the hundred-degree mark, a front is currently sweeping through with the first fall weather of the season. Tonight’s low is predicted to be only 63 degrees, tomorrow’s high won’t even hit eighty and tomorrow night will bring the fall’s first fifties.

Ah, now we’re creeping up on chili season, and once again I’d like to point you towards my recipe for Target Centermass Texas Chili (one update to the recipe post, as “fiancee” should be substituted for “girlfriend” in the opening rambling). I’m telling y’all now, this is some damned fine grub.

Chili is very important to Texans, but all too often it brings forth the old debate — beans or no beans. Now, I’m not quite the purist on the matter that others can be. I have no problem with adding beans or rice or Fritos to my chili; however, please realize at that point it ceases to be chili and instead morphs into chili with beans, chili with rice or frito pie, respectively. As flexible as I may be, I do have my limits. Scott at The Fat Guy has the news of a collection of chili abominations, including for-the-love-of-Pete!-pineapples. Scott, I so did not need this info.

Museum Dropped From WTC Site for Now

Filed under: — Gunner @ 9:39 pm

Good.

Bowing to pressure from furious Sept. 11 families, Gov. George Pataki on Wednesday removed a proposed freedom center from the space reserved for it near the planned World Trade Center memorial, saying the museum project had aroused “too much opposition, too much controversy.”

Pataki initially said the state would help the International Freedom Center find another home, but center officials said they weren’t interested and considered the project dead.

The decision followed months of acrimony, with some Sept. 11 families and politicians saying that such a museum would overshadow and take space from a separate memorial devoted to the 2,749 World Trade Center dead and would dishonor them by fostering debate about the attacks and other world events.

“Freedom should unify us. This center has not,” Pataki said. “Today there remains too much opposition, too much controversy over the programming of the IFC. … We must move forward with our first priority, the creation of an inspiring memorial to pay tribute to our lost loved ones and tell their stories to the world.”

The deserved hammering came from the families, but it may well have been Hillary who chipped in with the final nail for the IFC’s coffin.

Carnival of Liberty XIII

Filed under: — Gunner @ 9:20 pm

Let’s make it a baker’s dozen.

This week’s installment of the Life, Liberty, Property community‘s Carnival of Liberty is up over at Forward Biased. Go read another fine collection of posts from a libertarian slant.

9/27/2005

Just Back from the Serenity Screening

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:19 pm

Just a quick review tonight, followed by a longer write-up tomorrow and a little on my evening playing the role of the press.

First thoughts: Serenity is quite an impressive piece of science fiction that I heartily recommend. There was action, humor, intensity, plot and quality, unforced dialogue aplenty — quite possibly enough of each to distribute among all three of the Star Wars prequels and salvage each of them. The audience surrounding me, a mixture of longtime fans of the Firefly television series that served as the movie’s foundation and those like myself, newcomers to the world we were being shown, certainly seemed receptive, relishing the multiple laugh-out-loud moments and wrapping up the flick with an enthusiastic round of applause.

England Convicted, Awaiting Sentence

Filed under: — Gunner @ 12:49 am

As if the overly-publicisized photos weren’t enough, there’s finally a guilty verdict to the case of the Abu Ghraib scandal’s poster girl.

Army Pfc. Lynndie England, whose smiling poses in photos of detainee abuse at Baghdad’s Abu Ghraib prison made her the face of the scandal, was convicted Monday by a military jury on six of seven counts.

England, 22, was found guilty of one count of conspiracy, four counts of maltreating detainees and one count of committing an indecent act. She was acquitted on a second conspiracy count.

The jury of five male Army officers took about two hours to reach its verdict. Her case now moves to the sentencing phase, which will be heard by the same jury beginning Tuesday.

England tried to plead guilty in May to the same counts she faced this month in exchange for an undisclosed sentencing cap, but a judge threw out the plea deal. She now faces a maximum 10 years in prison.

I’m glad the smitten-moron defense didn’t carry the day. Now, I hope for the maximum penalty for a woman who did everything she certainly knew was wrong. Granted, she had no clue what the impact on global affairs would be, but she certainly knew the UCMJ and her lawful orders.

9/26/2005

Update on the Serenity Screening

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:11 pm

In advance of its pending national opening, the movie Serenity has become the subject of an internet experiment. As I mentioned here, the marketers of the movie have invited bloggers to a limited number of screenings. I signed up, as did who the heck knows just how many others.

The marketers responded, and at least one potential blog-screening participant, Steve H. at Hog on Ice, was chagrined.

The more I think about it, the more I think I should blow off the bloggers-only screening of the movie Serenity.

It’s nice to be treated like a professional writer, and to be given a seat at a free showing of a movie. But that isn’t what’s happening here.

The confirmation email I got from Grace Hill Media says I have to show up 45 minutes before the movie, find a Universal rep, produce the email showing that I’m part of the “Blogger Bonanza,” and see if they want to give me a seat. And I have to do this on a Tuesday night, after driving over 20 miles through rush-hour traffic.

That’s not how you treat someone you respect. They’re hoping I’ll write a review which will be seen by a few thousand people, hundreds of whom will presumably buy tickets after reading what I write. In other words, they’re hoping I’ll provide a service that will benefit them economically. In return, I’m entitled to a guaranteed seat.

Certainly, Steve has some valid points here. Nevertheless, as did Rick Blaine, in this case I understand the point of view of both the hound and the fox. In a campaign seeking attention from bloggers, Steve has to be considered one of the big guns, having passed the one million mark for hits on his SiteMeter. Still, the Serenity marketers are treading their way through unexplored territory. Perhaps a scattershot welcoming of the blogosphere is the best way to build a groundswell of publicity, or maybe targeting particular large bloggers is the better route. Who knows?

As for myself, I’ve once before been to a no-guarantee screening, for a late-’90s movie that I cannot recall (I can only remember being glad I had only stood in line at a co-worker’s urging rather than actually spending money on the drivel). I will comply with the marketing requirements, if only because I’m a sci-fi buff (goodness knows I’ve pimped out Battlestar Galactica enough on this blog). Actually, I’m intrigued by both this marketing concept and this movie. The required synopsis is as follows:

Joss Whedon, the Oscar® – and Emmy – nominated writer/director responsible for the worldwide television phenomena of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE, ANGEL and FIREFLY, now applies his trademark compassion and wit to a small band of galactic outcasts 500 years in the future in his feature film directorial debut, Serenity. The film centers around Captain Malcolm Reynolds, a hardened veteran (on the losing side) of a galactic civil war, who now ekes out a living pulling off small crimes and transport-for-hire aboard his ship, Serenity. He leads a small, eclectic crew who are the closest thing he has left to family –squabbling, insubordinate and undyingly loyal.

I have not seen a single episode of Firefly, upon which this movie is based. I will be taking with me to the screening a co-worker who is a fan of the series for feedback from an insider’s perspective. Expect a spoiler-free review here tomorrow or Wednesday. If the blogger screeing is bungled and I don’t catch the flick, expect some vitriol instead.

Sheehan: Busted by the Left and the Law

Filed under: — Gunner @ 10:07 pm

Regarding Gold Star mom Cindy Sheehan, the dear Mother Sheehan of the anti-war movement, I recently blogged that she was fighting tooth and nail for a sixteenth minute of fame.

Meanwhile, my lingering question about Gold Star mom Cindy Sheehan is this: Is there some sort of methadone equivalent for limelight addiction?

I guess I did not know then the extent of her adult attention desire disorder, nor the lengths that Gold Star mom Cindy Sheehan would go to in her need to feed on publicity.

First, Angry in the Great White North catches Gold Star mom Cindy Sheehan whining over the weekend at the Daily Kos. Her complaint? Hurricane Rita was getting too much coverage, leaving one to conclude just who Gold Star mom Cindy Sheehan felt was robbed by this.

i am watching cnn and it is 100 percent rita…even though it is a little wind and a little rain…it is bad, but there are other things going on in this country today…and in the world!!!!

Even for the Kos leftists, this is childishly too far. Angry in the GWN has selected several comments that I wish you would read. Here’s a small taste:

Give it a rest

Sorry Cindy, but I must say that the suffering in Texas right now is quite pertinent. In fact, at a time when we have people suffering, left homeless and devastated from “a little wind and a little rain,” I think you can take a break from the camera just for a moment.

That wasn’t enough to slow Gold Star mom Cindy Sheehan, though. After getting appropriately rebuffed by the left, Gold Star mom Cindy Sheehan today decided to fight the law.

A leading anti-Iraq war activist has been arrested outside the White House for what supporters say was as an act of civil disobedience.

Anti-war protesters ended three days of demonstrations in Washington by congregating at one of the main gates to the White House.

Police asked them several times to move on, saying they were gathering in a restricted area. When they refused, they were arrested.

The first to be taken into custody was Cindy Sheehan, the mother of a soldier who was killed in Iraq and a leader of the anti-war campaign. She moved to the public arena last month when she staged a vigil outside the Bush family ranch in Texas, demanding a meeting with the president.

As her supporters applauded, she was taken away by police and was expected to be released after being processed on minor charges.

The law won.

So, too, did Gold Star mom Cindy Sheehan. Currently, a Google News search for her name and the word “arrested” returns 1,130 articles and many more related entries. Ahhhh … Gold Star mom Cindy Sheehan scored another attention fix at last!

Still, John Hinderaker at Power Line finds reason to question Gold Star mom Cindy Sheehan’s judgement in this little circus of civil disobediance.

I may be wrong about this, but I don’t think it is wise for Sheehan to go out of her way to cultivate associations between her anti-war protest and similar events in the 1960s. I really don’t think that images of her being carried away by policemen, hobnobbing with Communists, marching with Joan Baez and Jesse Jackson, etc., are helpful to her cause. I think such actions will cause light bulbs to go on in many Americans’ heads as they realize, “Oh, she’s one of those!” [emphasis in original]

So true, but also true is the concern that the media will fail to convey to the public the radically out-of-the-mainstream nature of Gold Star mom Cindy Sheehan’s statements and associates. Had the media already been willing to objectively do so, Mother Sheehan would have been but a pitied blip on the nation’s radar.

9/25/2005

D.C. Protests: Associated Press Picks Side

In straight news reporting, the lede is everything. The opening paragraph should carry the gist of the entire article and answer all of the fundamental questions of who, what, when, where and how. Why is questionable, as it can paint a bias on the story or be immediately undetermined.

This weekend, the American capital of Washington, D.C. saw back-to-back gatherings of anti-war and pro-troop rallies. The Associated Press’ lede paragraph for today’s rally in support of the U.S. efforts in Iraq is as follows:

Support for U.S. troops fighting abroad mixed with anger toward anti-war demonstrators at home as hundreds of people, far fewer than organizers had expected, rallied Sunday on the National Mall just a day after a massive protest against the war in Iraq.

My attention is immediately drawn towards the mention of anger. Actually, my first reaction is that I dare you to diagram that rather poorly written sentence. Past that, I’m taken by the mention of anger in the lede. Why? Well, let’s look at the lede from the AP’s coverage of Saturday’s rally.

Opponents of the war in Iraq rallied by the thousands Saturday to demand the return of U.S. troops, staging a day of protest, song and remembrance of the dead in marches through Washington and other American and European cities.

What? Song and remembrance? No anger?

Well, judging by photoblogging by Michelle Malkin and Davids Medienkritik, I would beg to differ. There seems to have been a great deal of unreported anger at Saturday’s shin dig. Meanwhile, Gateway Pundit followed Saturday’s speeches and seems to have identified a great deal of anger, as well as a great deal of failed leftist talking points.

So why no mention of anger Saturday while it made the lede Sunday? Well, I’ll leave it to one of the best bloggers out there, Jeff Goldstein, to absolutely rip the puff piece that was Saturday’s “news” story by the A.P. Suffice it to say that the A.P. has happily allowed the slant of their writers to overwhelm their supposed straight news reporting.

As the Indepundit allows a Marine in Iraq to point out, this weekend was critical for the home front of the war against the radical Islamist movement and our efforts in Iraq.

Thanks for doing this. The battlefield this weekend will be on the homefront. The only thing that truly concerns me is that the seditionist groups will succeed in causing the American people to lose their will and the enemy will win politically the victory we have denied them militarily.

Let there be no mistake: we are winning here. Morale is outstanding and we are successfully taking the fight to the enemy. You will see a successful referendum in less than 3 weeks and a successfull election in less than 3 months. I see the positive resuts of our actions everyday. The MSM ignores or denigrates almost every piece of positive news, exaggerates every negative and makes the enemy and his actions out to be more than they are.

They absolutely cannot defeat us militarily and have no strategic vision except the destruction of all who oppose them. A strategy based on such a negative is doomed to fail, unless we cut and run. That is the enemy’s only chance to win. The biggest threat we face is a determined enemy who will not quit because, like the Vietnamese they see the possibility of victory because of a perceived willingness to quit at home.

Folks, in the war the Marine describes, the A.P. has long since chosen sides. This weekend, they made it very freakin’ obvious.

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