Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Nobody Left to Watch

By Sniffles

Contrary to what you may have heard — particularly from those folks who sell videos of goldfish and birds — cats don't watch a lot of television. Good thing, too, because we're left with precious few TV shows from which we feel confident about getting our news.

Why? Perhaps you saw this lengthy New York Times story on April 20. It details how the Pentagon, with the full cooperation of broadcast and cable news networks, has planted allegedly objective "military analysts" on news shows to generate positive coverage of the Iraq war. These "military analysts" have appeared repeatedly, without the behind-the-scenes relationships revealed, and without any hard questions from the pundits and anchors interviewing them. In short, take Armstrong Williams' little payoff to promote the Education Department's programs, and multiply it a thousandfold, and this is what you've got.

Big story, right? Don't bet on it. If you only get your news from the networks that the Times story names — such as Fox, CNN, NBC, CBS or ABC — you wouldn't know a thing about this. Silence has reigned supreme.

Print journalists like Howard Kurtz at The Washington Post and bloggers like Glenn Greenwald have criticized the networks (and in Greenwald's case, inspired an army of angry readers of Brian Williams' blog to force the NBC anchor to address the subject, at least online). But we've yet to see any substantial coverage of this important story.

Of course, what the Chris Matthewses and Wolf Blitzers of the world have recently given us is wall-to-wall coverage of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Now, that's news you need to know!

Although we cats are inveterate optimists, this depresses us. If this kind of sorry media performance continues, what reliable sources will we be able to turn to for our news? Right now, we think it's down to National Public Radio, "The Daily Show" and the NewsHour on PBS. And, of course, the Internet.

Hey, Brian, Katie, Charlie, Wolf, Chris and the rest of you guys: We're not just HISSing at you for this. We're turning around, with our tails high in the air, and walking away.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The New 100-Year War

By Zamboni

We cats, as always, are completely relaxed today — curled up on our favorite sofa, grooming our ears from time to time — even while the Jeremiah Wright firestorm erupts around us.

That's because we know there are many more important issues on the minds of American voters than the fulminations of Rev. Wright.

One of them is the war in Iraq.

Back in 2003, Bush, Cheney, Rice, Powell, Rove, Addington, Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, et. al., invaded a sovereign nation on a pack of lies. Now, the U.S. is engaged in an all-consuming occupation of a country that had nothing to do with Sept. 11 — a move that historians already are calling the biggest foreign policy mistake in the history of the United States.

The presumptive Republican nominee, John McCain, appears ready to continue Bush's ruinous policies in Iraq. Here's what the latest DNC ad has to say about it:

Iraq informs all the issues that American voters care about right now. Even if you don't have a friend or loved one fighting there, the war will affect our economy, and our influence around the world, profoundly — for years to come.

You think things are bad with $4-per-gallon gas? Brace yourself. Unless we get out of Iraq, the worst is yet to come.

But — we're just cats. You humans hold the purse strings. Think we'll nod off for another catnap now — while you worry about your children's future.

Before we do, though, a huge HISS and SNARL to the lying liars who should be impeached for this illegal war. You know who you are.

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Word "Democrat" is a Noun, Part II

By Baxter

Zamboni is allowing me to post about The Miami Herald's latest grammar problem. It appears that the paper is only capable of taking baby steps when it comes to using the word "Democrat" properly.

Yesterday's hard-copy edition had a lovely front-page, below-the-fold story that warmed our hearts. In fact, it made us happier than sleeping on top of the dishwasher while it's on the "HOT-DRY" cycle.

Here's the headline: "Democratic challengers buoyed by voter trends." (It's a follow-up story about how U.S. Representatives Lincoln and Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Republicans all, will have some serious competition in their re-election campaigns — for a change!)

Anyway, The Herald's front-page headline is correct. When you need to describe the nation's oldest political party, use "Democratic." Don't say "Democrat," which is a noun — and which Republicans, from George W. Bush to his water carriers on right-wing radio, use pejoratively as an adjective.

However — alas. Just when we're getting ready to purr approvingly, we see the story's jump on page 12A. The headline reads: "GOP-leaning districts see Democrat [sic] numbers surge."

An irritated thump of the tail and a little growl to The Miami Herald for almost getting it right. Keep working on it, guys.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Pants on Fire

By Sniffles

Seems that TIME has taken the Secretary of State's side in the Great Condoleezza Rice v. Jimmy Carter Debate. The magazine's May 5 issue states that on his recent Middle East trip, President Carter met with Hamas, the Palestinian group legally elected to govern in the Gaza Strip, "after the Bush Administration warned him not to." President Carter has said he received no such instruction from the State Department.

TIME's blithe characterization of these alleged facts amazes us cats. First, President Carter has a rock-solid reputation for telling the truth. In fact, we're certain that it helped cost him his re-election in 1980. Secretary Rice, on the other hand, had a starring role in the giant fib-fest that led to the U.S. invasion of Iraq. (Say, who's more believable — Mr. "I'll Never Lie to You" or Little Miss Mushroom Cloud?)

But we also have confidence in the former President because we recently attended the annual Presidential briefing at The Carter Center. It was the first time that cats were allowed — and although we almost got stepped on during one of the coffee breaks, we enjoyed ourselves immensely.

President Carter reminded us that with the help of Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Soliman, both the U.S. and Israel have been secretly negotiating with Hamas for some time now. Both nations insist on publicly denying this relationship. But now that — dare we say it? — the cat is out of the bag, we're puzzled as to why Secretary Rice would continue the charade. "I just don't want there to be any confusion," she said. "The United States is not going to deal with Hamas."

"The problem is not that we met [with Hamas] but that the U.S. and Israeli governments refuse to... making peace harder if not impossible to achieve," President Carter said. The American and Israeli criticism of Carter's meeting with Syrian President Bashar al Assad is equally counterproductive, he said. "Our talks in Syria have led us to conclude that peace with Israel could be within reach, with Syria being the next country to recognize Israel."

We don't know why the Bush Administration and the Israeli government continue to shoot themselves in the foot. But we agreed with Jimmy Carter when he told us, "The people of Israel want peace. But there's no indication of that in the current negotiations. And that's a crying shame."

Cats don't cry, but we sure can HISS. We send a big nasty one to Condoleezza Rice, the other lying liars at the State Department, and to TIME magazine for buying their story lock, stock and barrel.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

If Not Hillary, Then...

By Zamboni

Now that the Pennsylvania Democratic primary is over, we cats are settling down in a patch of sun on our owner's favorite wing chair, licking our fur in quiet content. Our relaxed demeanor doesn't mean, however, that we don't have a highly charged opinion on yesterday's events.

We think that perhaps the person who most benefited from the results of the primary election is Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell — a strong supporter of Senator Clinton's candidacy.

Here's why.

The size of Senator Clinton's winning margin (10 points) and the traditionally Democratic demographics she won — and, just as importantly, the so-called "Reagan Democrats" whom Senator Obama convincingly lost — argue that, if Senator Obama is the nominee, he now would be wise to choose a Vice President from the ranks of hardcore Clinton partisans. Particularly a white male Clinton partisan with impeccable blue-collar credentials in a big swing state.

Governor Rendell best fits that profile. Of course, we Democratic Cats would prefer that Senator Obama ask Senator Clinton herself to be his veep (and vice versa). After all, the future of civilization — not to mention the entire planet — is at stake this election. But if they can't work it out, the Pennsylvania results make a strong argument for Governor Rendell to join with Senator Obama in the fall.

(This assumes, naturally, that Senator Clinton — or former Vice President Al Gore, for that matter — is not the nominee.)

You heard it here first.

In the meantime, we send a loving PURR to Governor Ed Rendell — for being such a Democratic trouper, and for making it clear that whatever the composition of the ticket in 2008, the important thing is that WE WIN.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

"Remain Calm. All is Well."

By Baxter

There really are only six degrees of separation between actor Kevin Bacon and the rest of the world. In election 2008, it's between Mr. Bacon and presumptive GOP nominee John McCain.

Remember Mr. Bacon's futile attempts to quell the the riot at the end of the movie Animal House? This is essentially what Senator McCain is doing today — trying to tell the country that everything is hunky dory as the American economy tanks all around us.

Just see for yourself. Here's the latest ad from the Democratic National Committee:

Now, we cats are known to be a little skeptical, so it doesn't surprise us that a guy who's married to a beer heiress would be out of touch with the economic problems of most Americans. (Mrs. McCain won't release her tax returns, but she's reported to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars. That kind of money buys a lot of Friskies — not to mention homes, cars, vacations, college educations, and tanks and tanks of gas.)

And Senator McCain isn't even mentioning here the billions of dollars that we're wasting in Iraq — a war he's willing to have go on for 100 years, and which The New York Times Magazine predicted in April 2003 would explode the deficit and cripple the country.

Oh, well, never mind all that. Remain calm.

We HISS at Senator John McCain, for his less-than-straight talk to the American people. And we PURR at Howard Dean and the DNC for holding Senator McCain's feet to the economic fire.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Forget Osama — It's Katrina

By Sniffles

We like Senator Clinton's new "Kitchen" ad.

Now, now, everybody just calm down. This ad is NOT playing "the Osama card." This is a positive ad about why people in Pennsylvania should vote for Senator Clinton tomorrow. And since we're practicing putting videos into our blog, we'll probably post a video for Senator Obama at some point, too.

But back to "Kitchen." The reason we cats like it is that it includes footage from a disaster that — in our view — isn't talked about nearly enough these days: How the Bush Administration left the city of New Orleans to drown after Hurricane Katrina.

In addition to thousands of human beings — most of whom were African American, by the way — Katrina threatened thousands of pets. Many of them were rescued by fabulous organizations like the Best Friends Animal Society — but many died, or were abandoned to die.

Believe us, when it comes to Katrina, We. Cats. Will. Never. Forget.

A soft, grateful PURR to the Clinton campaign for reminding voters of the incredible awfulness of "Brownie" and the whole Bush gang.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Tories: Locker-Room Lamebrains

By Zamboni

Baxter wanted to write this post but it is I, Zamboni, who comments on Canadian politics. And it seems that Stephen Harper’s Conservative government has its very own “Bitter-gate” on its hands.

What should we call it? In the interest of good taste, let’s refer to it as “Lukiwski-gate.”

Tom Lukiwski is a Conservative member of Parliament from the western province of Saskatchewan. In 1991, drinking beer in his party’s campaign office, he allowed himself to be videotaped making a revolting anti-gay slur.

The — shall we say, vintage? — tape was found by members of the National Democratic Party when they moved into their provincial legislative offices. No word on who had been careless enough to leave it there, but as the NDP has released the tape to the world, you can see it on YouTube.

(Warning: We don’t approve the language Mr. Lukiwski uses on this tape. It's offensive to humans, cats and all other species that inhabit this planet.)

Well, now that the tape is out, Mr. Lukiwski has just fallen all over himself to apologize, and said he wishes he could take his terrible homophobic words back. George Bush’s good friend, Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper, has called the comments “unacceptable” but refuses to discipline his wayward MP.

Despite the disgusting nature of Mr. Lukiwski’s remarks, what offends us most is his immaturity. We don’t care that this little beer party happened 17 years ago. Mr. Lukiwski and his fellow Conservatives, clearly adults, are behaving like a bunch of 13-year-old morons who just discovered how much fun it is to videotape themselves saying dirty, bigoted things.

These are the people running Canada these days?

A giant HISS — and a swipe of the unsheathed claws — to the wildly unappealing Tom Lukiwski and to Stephen Harper, his tone-deaf PM.

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Lady from Rome

By Baxter

Pope Benedict’s visit to the U.S. reminds us of a favorite joke. A gay guy in church whispers to the priest, who is passing up the aisle swinging the incense, “Honey, I love your dress, but your purse is on fire.”

No offense to our Democratic friends who are Catholic — like our Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, whom we spied doing a bit of ring-kissing yesterday. It’s just that the visit, and the credulous hoopla around it, have been so dispiriting that we’re forced to find refuge in irreverent humor.

Particularly objectionable is the fact that the pontiff held a closed-door meeting with a small, hand-picked number of victims of priestly sexual abuse. Looks like Benedict has adopted the Bushian practice of only meeting with friendly, vetted audiences who won’t cause any “trouble.” (Oh, and be sure to keep other folks out, by keeping the whole thing a big secret.)

This disturbs us cats. We’ve always been told that humans occupy the highest rung of the ladder of sentient beings — able to think and reason, right wrongs, correct injustices, and recognize their own reflections when they see them in a mirror.

Guess Benny’s not realizing how the Church’s image is striking people these days. He can run around apologizing and hold surprise meetings with abuse victims all he wants — but the hypocrisy is pretty rampant since he’s been a big backer of one of the most egregious pedophile protectors, Cardinal Edward Egan of New York. He even appointed Egan to the high Vatican court that disciplines wayward priests.

So, Your Holiness, because you’re talking the talk but still not quite walking the walk, we choose to neither HISS nor PURR at you today. Instead, we gaze at you suspiciously and switch our tails.

And by the way, we think your purse is still on fire.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

ABC News Misses the Box

By Sniffles

As cats, we hate it when our aim is off. Even if there’s old newspaper under the litter box to catch any accidents, we’re still embarrassed.

And that’s how ABC News should be feeling today.

Last night’s so-called Democratic "debate" in Pennsylvania was a disgrace to the political process and to journalism, and it’s all Charlie Gibson’s and George Stephanopoulos’ fault. Although the event started at 8 p.m. Eastern time, it wasn’t until 9:04 p.m. that Little Georgie finally raised what was, as he himself said, the most important issue on the minds of American voters — the economy.

What?? A full 64 minutes into a debate? What could they possibly have asked Senators Clinton and Obama about prior to that?

You got it: minutiae. Bosnia and “bitter,” pastors and pins. Stuff that’s been hashed over ad nauseum not just for days, but for weeks. Senator Obama’s remarks to a closed-door fundraiser in San Francisco. The sermons of Rev. Jeremiah Wright (how old is that story now?). And — unbelievably — why doesn’t Senator Obama wear the American flag in his lapel? This allegedly burning issue was brought up via video by a woman named “Nash.” (What, did her parents conceive her in the car?)

In other words, for more than an hour, Charlie and Georgie neglected to ask the candidates about the housing crisis, the credit crunch, the turmoil on Wall Street, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, nuclear proliferation, Iran, global warming… my goodness, we can go on and on.

Looks like ABC is letting the shouters on cable TV and talk radio — not to mention clueless Pennsylvania voters with silly names — set their debate agenda for them. And this, from the network that broke the White-House-principals-meet-on-torture story.

We send a big HISS to Gibson and Stephanopoulos for wasting precious minutes of airtime on worthless trivia.

And we PURR warmly in the direction of all those elected officials who believe that serving the people is more important than wearing cheap jewelry.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Word "Democrat" Is a Noun

By Zamboni

We are so sick and tired of the media adopting the Republicans' little game of using the word "Democrat" as an adjective. It's nothing more than a silly — and apparently very effective — GOP tactic of turning the name of the nation's oldest political party into a pejorative.

The latest offender: today's edition of The Miami Herald, to which we've been alerted by a fan and avid reader.

A headline in the hard-copy Metro & State section declares, "Democrat Challengers Fill Coffers." We hope it ends up under litter boxes all over South Florida.

Don't get us wrong. We're very pleased that the always-irritating Republicans Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Lincoln & Mario Diaz-Balart are going to have to fight for their Congressional seats this time around. But when the media embrace this disgusting GOP strategy, it makes our hair stand on end.

A big HISS to The Miami Herald for taking its editorial direction from George W. Bush!