Sales of Festivus Poles Booming

Sales of Festivus Poles are reportedly booming this year. The holiday, which was popularized in a 1997 episode of Seinfeld, occurs on December 23 and celebration observance of the holiday includes the traditional Festivus Pole, the airing of grievances, and feats of strength.

In observance of the Festivus holiday, Liberal Values will be airing our grievances Saturday morning.

Miller Defends Blogosphere Against Rago’s Attacks

Rich Miller has a column at the Chicago Sun-Times responding to Joseph Rago’s attack on the blogosphere which I discussed earlier this week. I had noted that some of the same attacks which Rago makes on the blogosphere also apply to the mainstream media. Miller also appears to realize this when he asks, “What is it about the Internet that makes some political pundits, columnists and reporters so goofy? It seems like almost every time I read a mainstream media story about political Web sites and bloggers, the pieces are full of ill-informed junk.”

Miller gives some examples of poor coverage of the blogosphere by the mainstream media, and also notes the diversity among bloggers:

I don’t think Rago has spent much time on blogs or he’d know that several specialize in, and are very good at, taking on complex topics that the mainstream media barely skim. Others promote citizen reporting that is often better than anything you’ll find in a newspaper. Others are hilariously funny, on purpose, and others are drenched in irony.

Look, there’s a lot of bizarre behavior on the Internet. And there’s no shortage of vitriol, either. Some people are just strange. But much of the harsh language about politicians and the reporters and columnists who cover them are more than justified…

This phenomenon is not going away, no matter how much it is dismissed or chastised. The Internet has been seized on as a democratizing tool by millions of perpetually democracy-hungry Americans. Bloggers should definitely be open to criticism by the mainstream media. That’s America. But lumping everyone together with the crackpots is neither fair nor honest. And the fact that so many reporters and pundits can’t seem to get the story right just proves the bloggers’ point that too many of them don’t know what they’re talking about on everything else.

SciFi Friday: Daleks, Cybermen, Harry Potter, President Chelsea Clinton, and Lizzy McGuire

Last week Doctor Who ended with The Doctor sensing a storm of global proportions coming. Tonight the second season ends with two episodes, Army of Ghosts and Doomsday, which involve the Daleks and Cybermen turning the Earth into a battlefield. The Doctor must make a great sacrifice to protect the Earth.

Perhaps the Daleks and Cyberman could be seen as robots fighting for their rights. As previously discussed (here and here) the British government has commissioned a report on the ramifications of artificial intelligence.

Every morning Brett Hopper woke up and it was the same morning again–the morning in which he was framed for murder. The cycle ended this week as Brett Hopper did not awaken on that day but it wasn’t due to solving the mystery. ABC pulled Daybreak due to poor ratings. Wednesday doesn’t appear to be a good day for shows other than Lost as The Nine has also been placed on hiatus, with claims that the remaining episodes will be shown later this season. ABC has mentioned plans to release the remainder of the episodes of Daybreak in some other format, such as streaming video or DVD.

Alternatives to conventional broadcasts have become increasingly common this season. I caught Heroes on the SciFi Channel after missing its network premiere, and watched the first half of the season of Jerhico on streaming video. Last summer I caught some of this season’s episodes of Doctor Who thanks to bit torrent but soon such shows will even be available legally as the BBC has announced plans to make many of its shows available on file sharing sites.

The title for the final Harry Potter book has been revealed: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. The title has fueled speculation that Harry would be killed off in the final installment.

For those who prefer more politically oriented books, although from the right, The Los Angeles Times reviewed several conservative dystopias:

Be afraid, conservatives. If you survived the victory speeches of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid and allowed yourself to think, “Things can’t get any worse,” get over it. They can.

Two years from now, terrorists under the banner of the “Progressive

Restoration” will take over Manhattan in a larger attempt to overthrow the government. Thirteen years later, President Chelsea Clinton and Vice President Michael Moore will haul out the good White House china for Osama bin Laden’s state visit. By fiddling with your radio, you may be able to catch an underground broadcast by Sean Hannity. If you own a radio, that is; folks living in states that are under Sharia law won’t even be that lucky.

These aren’t my fantasies or nightmares. All of these vignettes are ripped from science fiction thrillers that have hit shelves in just the last 18 months. Sharia comes to the United States in Robert Ferrigno’s potboiler, “Prayers for the Assassin.” In Joel C. Rosenberg’s “Last Jihad” trilogy, a steel-spined U.S. president nukes Baghdad, then combats a Russo-Iranian axis, all in fulfillment of Scripture (or so we’re told in the nail-biting third book, “The Ezekiel Option”). Hannity and his stone-jawed sidekick, G. Gordon Liddy, battle the Clinton restoration in Mike Mackey and Donny Lin’s comic book, “Liberality for All.” The Second American Civil War is breaking out in Orson Scott Card’s “Empire” (book out now, video game on the way).

If it all sounds a little strange and crazed, that’s because it is. The right’s sleep of reason is bringing forth dark, futuristic political thrillers.

A bit off topic, but I couldn’t end without mentioning that Matel has announced that they will be making a Hillary Duff Barby Doll. Although Duff has moved beyond her Lizzy McGuire days, I find the concept of a Hillary Duff Barbie Doll to be strangely redundant.

SciFi Friday is a weekly feature of Liberal Values. This week’s edition was a Featured Post at Memeorandum on Friday afternoon.

Civics 101 For Conservatives

I’ve often noted the authoritarian tendencies of the right wing as they see the Executive Branch as above the law and ignore the separation of powers and checks and balances envisioned by the founding fathers. Blog Critics asks why our tax dollars are being spent to send Senators Kerry and Dodd to Damascus, and questions the fact that they are meeting with Syrian leaders writing, “I never knew that congress discussed foreign policy matters with the leaders of other nations, especially those who are considered to be America’s ‘enemies.'”

What they forget is that the government has three branches, and the duties of the Legislative Branch include both involvement in foreign policy and oversight of the Executive Branch. John Kerry and Christopher Dodd are both members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Here’s an overview of their responsibilities in an introduction written by the outgoing Republican Chairman of the committee:

Welcome to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee website. Our Committee is responsible for the foreign policy activities of the U.S. Senate. We evaluate all treaties with foreign governments; approve all diplomatic nominations; and write legislation pertaining to U.S. foreign policy, the State Department, Foreign Assistance programs, and many associated topics. I hope that you find this website to be a valuable resource in following our activities and understanding the role of the Senate in foreign policy.