Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: What! You too? I thought I was the only one.

-C.S. Lewis

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Suppressing Inconvenient Facts

Does every administration do this stuff? I'm not old enough to remember actual politics before Clinton and I didn't really pay much attention even then. It seems that the Bush Administration suppresses an inconvenient study about every other week.

The Labor Department's condemnation drew a quick rebuke from Senator Byron L. Dorgan, a North Dakota Democrat. "The reports describe labor conditions that would be harmful, not helpful, for passage of Cafta," he said, referring to the Central American Free Trade Agreement. "So they decided to deep-six it."
Say what you will about trade agreements, myself I'm not prepared to say they're a bad thing, even in places with horrible conditions. But for God's sake let people read what's out there and make up their own minds. Either a) you're confident that you're right and any information out there is simply going to back you up, b) you're unsure of yourself to such an extent that you're afraid a poorly timed report will sink your proposal, or, and this is the one that strikes me as the most plausible in Bush's case, c) you don't care whether you're right or wrong, you've got buddies that stand to make a lot of money on this and you'll do anything it takes to make sure it goes through.

GOP Pointing Fingers

This via DailyKos. Money quote:

Families are discouraging young men and women from enlisting "because of all the negative media that's out there," Sen. James Inhofe, an Oklahoma Republican, said at a U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.

Inhofe also said that other senators' criticism of the war contributed to the propaganda of U.S. enemies. He did not name the senators.
To Mr. Inhofe, one of our most consistently despicable Senators, I have three words: GO. FUCK. YOURSELF. The day your own kids take a scalding hot piece of shrapnel right through the eye is the day you can bitch and moan about not having enough troops. I'm sure it has never occurred to James Fuckhofe that perhaps the reason kids aren't signing up for duty is because they don't feel like dying for a lie.

And this too:
"With the deluge of negative news that we get daily, it's just amazing to me that anybody would want to sign up," said Sen. Pat Roberts, a Kansas Republican.
I don't know, Pat. Could be the deluge of insurgents that come to blow our poor kids up everyday. Maybe that's it. No, you're probably right. It's my fault. I call it like I see it, which is a bloody sodding disaster, and since my depiction isn't sufficiently rosy, it's affecting recruitment. You're a sharp one, Pat. Seriously, though. You know what would be amazing? If your own precious kids signed up. I don't see why they shouldn't. They've obviously got the inside track to the "real" story over there. Tell them what a picnic it is outside the Green Zone and I'm sure they'll drop everything and sign right up. You make me sick, Senator Roberts.

Portia De Rossi

I learn via The Superficial that Portia De Rossi is gay. Did anyone else know this? Why is Ellen DeGeneres the only option for blonde Hollywood lesbians? Just asking.

Flag Burning Amendment

I don’t think that there is a single lawmaker who, after having voted for the flag-burning amendment, could ever again convince me that the reason he or she does not support legislation is because it is too broad, poorly worded, too radical, anti-American, caters to special interest groups, or any other pejorative description of a bill. This bill is two votes short of passing? This offense to the very idea of America should be voted down by 100 nays. I think lawmakers forget that what they are trying to amend sits under glass at a museum.

US and India

U.S. is more closely allying itself with India. To my mind, this is puts pressure on bordering nuclear powers China and Pakistan and I've got to believe that this is a good thing. I would think that this type of passive aggressive posturing is generally effective. By strengthening a military and economic alliance that would make sense even without the strategic benefits, you disguise the fact that this is probably the strongest move against powerful potential enemies that the U.S. could possibly make at this point. It makes so much sense it’s almost a no brainer, so I’m not sure why I’m even praising the move. But then again, this is the Bush Administration we’re talking about. I wonder what the other world powers will make of this decision. Surely they will see through it as a tactical manoeuvre. Should we expect to see new meaningful alliances between them?


  1. God Only Knows

  2. Good Vibrations

  3. Wouldn’t It Be Nice

  4. Sloop John B

  5. Help Me Rhonda


  1. Mazda Miata

  2. Calculator Watches

  3. Christian Slater

  4. Ska

  5. 3D

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Democrats Vs. Republicans

Democrats: Want to spend money on social programs in the United States.

Republicans: Want to spend money on social programs in Iraq.

Hat tip: exclab

Rejection of Multiculturalism?

As is often the case, a post over at Echidne got me thinking. She riffed on the possible punitive qualities of rape that come to light when considering the gang rape of Mukthar Mai.

But it's still punishment. The debates about whether rape is sex or violence or both seldom address the possibility that there might be a touch of punitiveness about rape, a desire to remind the victim of the limits that she or he has crossed by going out/dressing a certain way/being in a certain place.

In Mukthar's case, this was actual punishment doled out by the village elders. The cultural traditions at play here are explicitly complicit (there has to be a better way to say that) in the crime. On a similar note, Glenn Reynolds linked to this item about an American aid worker being pelted with stones when she tried to breastfeed her child:

U2 frontman BONO was horrified during a visit to Ethiopia, when he saw local women pelting a breast-feeding aid worker with stones.

The American woman was oblivious of the offence she was causing, and had to escape the angry onslaught from female Muslims who had no qualms about injuring her or her baby.

The anecdote Glenn cites here is curious in that it is another instance where cultural sensitivity seems to trump common sense. The woman and other aid workers were essentially apologizing for having provoked an attack. I’d be surprised if many liberals, who, after having heard only the non-violent parts of this story, and even though very much in favor of public breastfeeding, did not feel some sympathy towards the validity of a foreign culture that disapproved. Add the violence done to the breastfeeder, though, and, for me at least, the importance of preserving a culture that would condone the stoning of a woman and her baby sort of falls away. But why would it have seemed acceptable without the violence? Isn’t violence towards and oppression of women already contained in such a culture? Our standards are pretty low if it takes a public stoning to sway our opinion.

Advocating for more cultural imperialism will probably not win many supporters on the left. For the most part we’re the ones arguing for the preservation and co-existence of traditional customs within our society. But then again, southerners who lived through the Civil War, heck maybe even some still today, might have told you that ending slavery was cultural imperialism. I have yet to meet a liberal who is sorry for that projection of moral superiority. But getting back to the gang rape in Pakistan, if a culture is so inherently misogynistic that not only does it provide an environment for rape to occur but in fact, officially approves and encourages such behavior, what is left to do but to reject the validity of that culture wholesale? If part of the job of preventing rape is dismantling the structures in which it thrives, then traditions and cultures that do that very thing must be discarded. In other words, it appears from this scenario that liberals might have to place a value judgment on whether certain cultural traditions are compatible with a modern society. The dilemma is not really a matter of “which one to choose.” When faced with the choice of preserving cultural traditions or preventing oppression, most liberals would put greater value on preventing oppression. To me the dilemma isn’t a choice, but simply how to reevaluate the importance and the utility of cultural sensitivity.

But to reject culture, who decides? For Pakistani immigrants in the US, the village council would not have the same authority, but the community structures that would have publicly approved rape back home might simply supply safe haven for it here. One could probably raise the objection, “But why only foreign cultures? Couldn’t the same things be said of our own American culture?” I’d answer simply because it is easier to spot what is unacceptable in foreign cultures rather than our own. Also, it’s not like we don’t try to root out the unacceptable elements in our own culture. Unfortunately, the prospect of looking inward, at least in the form of the desire to be “politically correct,” to find these prejudices within ourselves does not always meet with the best success. Maybe we could try a little harder, but I think we do try. In any case, are our own failures looking inward any reason to refrain from continuing to look outward? I suppose this line of reasoning could logically extend to cultures where suicide bombing is more or less accepted. The same choice presents itself. At what point must a value judgment be placed on a culture in the interest of preventing institutionalized violence and oppression? I find myself in unfamiliar territory. When I start thinking of political correctness as a domestic form of cultural imperialism, and I’m perfectly OK with that, I know it’s time to stop.

Joshua Tree Chopped Down

I think Spin is a pretty good magazine and their latest list is pretty good too. But honestly, how can you possibly put together a list of the 100 Greatest Albums of the last 20 years and forget to include The Joshua Tree? Even if were the top 50 albums of the last 50 years, for The Joshua Tree not to own a spot is unconscionable.

Negotiating with...whomever polls well

Through a close reading of Bush's speech last night (eeewwww), Billmon has detected a slight but telling shift in rhetoric. Sounds like Rove's leaving a window open to the possibility of negotiating with insurgents. Who, of course, were terrorists just last Saturday.

Iraqi forces have fought bravely – helping to capture terrorists and insurgents in Najaf, Samarra, Fallujah, and Mosul. (emphasis added)

To complete the mission, we will continue to hunt down the terrorists and insurgents (emphasis added)

Today Iraqi Security Forces are at different levels of readiness. Some are capable of taking on the terrorists and insurgents by themselves. (emphasis added)

Hugh Hewitt, on the other hand, didn't listen so closely.

That is the key point in the speech, the key point in the debate, and the president's clarity in making it made it a very successful speech. Over and over again he and his Administration, his supporters and the military must make that point again and again: It is all one war.

I wonder how the right will react when negotiations, inevitably, begin?

Tuesday, June 28, 2005


  1. Key Lime

  2. Apple

  3. Pumpkin

  4. Blueberry

  5. Peach


  1. Shark attacks

  2. Missing adults

  3. Local criminal trials

  4. Movie box office rankings

  5. Celebrity couples

Monday, June 27, 2005

The Task Ahead

If we stop banging our heads against the wall, the wall will win. It’s what the wall wants us to do. The wall will always be there. That is why we must always be ready to bang our heads against it. The question is, who is stronger? The wall or our heads? We will not back down. We must show the wall that we are firmly resolved to continue banging our heads. The question of how long to bang our heads is not nearly as important as our commitment to bang our heads against any wall that dares to stand against us. We will continue to bang our heads for exactly as long as it takes and not one bang more. You’re either with the wall or you’re with our heads. Young people get it. They realize that even when all seems lost, even when it seems you’re just banging your head against a wall, that we will never tire, we will never quit and, against all odds, we will never fail to bang our heads against a wall. I never said it was going to be easy. We could be banging our heads against a wall for a long time. It’s going to hurt. There are going to be some bumps and bruises along the way. But, make no mistake, we will win. This is a generational commitment. Many years from now, fathers will stop banging their heads and hand the task to their children, who will start banging their heads with twice the ferocity of the forebears. We will continue to bang our heads on that wall for as long as it takes. It is a wall. It will never quit. That is why we must never quit.

How will history view us? That is for the historians to decide. Really, I don’t care. We’ll all be dead. I’m firmly resolved that banging our heads is the right thing to do. To those who say, “stop, look around, we’re not paying attention to the war on terror,” I say that is exactly what the wall wants. Use your head, people. The wall hates us. It hates freedom. It wants to keep us from doing our duty. A wall doesn’t have think. It’s easy being a wall. What we’re doing, it’s hard. Some say the wall is getting harder, that it hurts more than ever to bang our heads against it. To me, that’s a sign of desperation. It’s afraid that we might never back down. We’re winning. It's going to take a strong body and a strong mind, but we’re up to the task. Some will say I’m bullheaded, but I don’t look at it that way. People might disagree with me, but I’m committed to freedom. There are some types out there who dismiss the challenge we face, and that’s fine, see that’s what’s so beautiful about America. We’re free. Free to dissent. That means people don’t agree. You try to talk to ‘em, but I gotta say it’s like talking to a wall sometimes. But I’ve never governed based on a focus group. I stick to my gut. And I lead with my head.

P.S. Friends, Americans, countrymen and women, lend me your ears!!! Disclaimer time! 1) To all you heroic soldiers currently engaged in head banging in Iraq, please know that what I think of the orders you’ve been given do nothing to diminish my gratitude for your willingness to bravely follow the commands of your officers and president. Like Viper said, “you do not make policy, you are the instruments of that policy.” In that regard, you are the finest instruments in the world. It is they who misuse such honor and devotion with impunity who deserve and receive the sum of my contempt. 2) This is not meant to diminish the importance of the War on Terror. It is meant to illustrate that combating an endless and soon to be “generational” insurgency in Iraq is as about far from advancing an anti-terror agenda as declaring war on tomato soup.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Paging College Republicans...

There is a lot of talk on the left side of the blogosphere that war supporters should put their money where their mouth is and sign up. Of course, the war supporters come right back and say that supporting a war and enlisting to fight in said war are not inseverable conditions. Fine, fair enough. I agree that if a military objective arises that is within the capability of our standing army, there is no inherent responsibility to enlist within one's support for such an action.

BUT, if there are not enough troops to accomplish the objective, if this problem is so pronounced that the reserves are de facto active duty, if soldiers' tours are being extended for longer than was originally agreed, if the army does not meet its recruiting goals for month after month, if morale is low because soldiers have been fighting for too long and need to be relieved, if, after all that, you still insist that we must "stay the course," then yes, if you are between the ages of 18 and 35, you chicken-nutted sack of shit, you must stop demanding that your countrymen and women die for you. You must march over to the recruiting station, sign your sorry ass up, and go die yourself. And if the prospect of dying for a cause seems excessive, than that means either you are a coward or the cause really isn't all that important to you. War is either worth dying for or not worth dying for. Either way, if you won't enlist, at least please shut the hell up.

Iraq Didn't Make The List

Chrenkoff seems to think that this interview with Alice Cooper (via Instapundit) shows that he has a "keener grasp of basic new millennium geopolitics" than most Democrats. He also seems to indicate that his wearing mascara would somehow make that more unlikely, but I digress. What Alice is saying here is certainly fair, and I even would go so far as to say I half way agree with him. Money quote:

INTERVIEWER: The one thing we do know about 9/11 is that nobody involved in it actually came from Iraq. That's probably the one thing we absolutely know.

ALICE COOPER: Well, it's probably true, but I can't see them going, "Oh, gosh." The guys in Iraq going, "Gee, how horrible for America." I think there's a general feeling in that world that if America falls they'll be in a much better state, so we have to view those people in the same boat. I don't see much difference between the al-Qaeda and Iraq - not the people, I'm talking about the governments. The people, the poor people, are the victims.

But whether a "cigar was going around" after 9/11, as Alice says moments later in the interview, whether the destruction of the World Trade Center and murder of nearly 3,000 people made Saddam crack a smile is irrelevant. In 2001, we already had Saddam in a vice grip. We simply didn't need to attack. There were about ten other things that we could have done that would have been a more effective strategy against terror than invading the neutered Iraq. I don't particularly care that certain organizations or countries might have been profiting off the status quo in that situation, the fact is that the US really does have limited (bigger than everyone else, but still limited) terror fighting resources. And I don't care if Saddam let out a little chuckle when he heard about the attacks. I can't see how this could be news, actually. I hardly could have disliked Saddam any more than I did, so the fact that he might have been just pleased as punch with al-Qaida on that day would just confirm my opinion of him, not change it.

But, as I've said before, unfortunately for everyone who would have had the US take actual steps towards fighting terror, there are far more profitable enterprises in this world.

If the bar is set so low as to include "pleased with 9/11" as an equivalent for "responsible for 9/11," then I think our list should be a lot longer than Iraq, Iran, Syria, et al. Hell, it probably is already. Even so, I expect our leadership to undertake action that has the most terror-fighting bang for our buck. They should have made a list of the most effective tactics and just started at the top. In 2002, that was a list that invading Iraq simply should not have been on. Bush and the gang should have carefully considered the situation and taken the most important steps first. Instead, our leaders chose not be effective terror fighters, but to take the unique opportunity for action that 9/11 sadly afforded us and make themselves and their friends a little bit of money.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Save the Children

I think this is a good move from Yahoo. I'm not sure what purpose general chat rooms serve these days other than to provide an easy outlet for twisted predators to go trolling for kids. Practically every topic you can think of has their own message forums, so I don't see any great loss if they just disappeared. I don't think you could legislate the "teen chat" message boards away, but it certainly seems possible that with enough pressure, the companies would fold.

I'm wrong about things like this as often as I'm right, but I think Democrats could take this issue and run with it. It would be a stand against sexual assault of course, but more than that, it would allow the Dems to capture a little of the "we're helping to protect your children" meme back from the GOP. The right has been moaning for years about Hollywood and how its corrupting influence runs rampant in our society. It's a stupid complaint of course, but as much as we hate to admit it, it really does connect with the moms and dads who fear they are not quite in control of the things their kids see. We can say "Well, turn it off" all we want (and we'd be right), but we all know that the TVs in the kitchen, in the den, and in little Johnny's bedroom are staying on. So by challenging the big online media companies to shut down their general purpose chat rooms, we could pick up the standard for "protecting families," we force the GOP to choose between big media conglomerates and "the children," and we begin the process of reconnecting with many married women who vote Republican.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Trap or No Trap

There is a lot of chatter on the right about how Democrats have "taken the bait" in terms of their outrage to the mud slung recently by Karl Rove. I refuse to be cowed by this. Rove's comments were outrageous, and if I am somehow "springing the trap" by becoming enraged, so be it. To me, this is simply an ideological call to arms. Even if public opinion on Democrats and liberals is indeed soured by this episode, my sincere hope is that this is the moment when we on the left vow that a Durbinesque apology will never happen again.

This White House, and all future GOP White Houses for that matter (since I doubt they will abandon such an effective strategy), is playing by samurai rules. At the slightest show of weakness, they plunge the sword in up to the hilt. The time for weakness is over. I, for one, am from this moment utterly unconcerned with the faux outrage of the right. The time has come to speak the truth. If the truth is derided, denounced, or defamed, I hope all Democrats learn from Rove what their strategy must be: say it again, only this time through a megaphone.

Response to Rove

Karl Rove is slime. He recently suggested that liberals, as a group, somehow differed from the predominant mood of the country in the aftermath of 9/11. And not only did he suggest that I, as a proud and patriotic liberal, simply differed from the majority opinion, but did so in a way that was fundamentally harmful to our country’s interests. This accusation is a near mortal insult to me. In the days and weeks after 9/11 this country was united as never before. Practically every American citizen, including myself and other liberals, wanted swift and terrible justice for the horrifying acts of that day. We wanted to find out who hijacked those airplanes, who supported them on the ground, who financed their operations, what countries dared to support such efforts. For Karl Rove to suggest otherwise is to demonstrate to the world what dirty scum he is.

Incidentally, with his disgusting statements, Karl Rove touched on a nugget of truth. Indeed there was a group of Americans that was not steeling itself for justice, that gave only passing interest in attacking the root causes of foreign terror, that never intended to apprehend the masterminds behind the assault on America. I would be inclined to say that the only significant group of people not completely united in demanding that those responsible for the terror atone for their actions was Karl Rove and the rest of the Bush Administration. Handed a nearly unanimous national and international mandate for punishing the Taliban in Afghanistan for its central role in harboring and fomenting terror operations, the Bush team chose instead to go down a more lucrative path. Unfortunately for America, there is no money to be made by simply fighting against terror. Yes, some al Qaida operatives have been nabbed, but this was never the objective. The lion’s share of our resources have been used to invade and occupy Iraq. We have spent over 200 billion dollars, one fifth of a trillion dollars, to finance this project. Remember this figure whenever you hear about the heroic veterans who come home to reduced benefits, and a cold shoulder from underfunded VA hospitals. I would argue that even if Iraq became a model of liberal democracy in the next few years, this will still have been nothing short of an astonishing misallocation of funds. The invasion of Iraq was the nexus of the oil lobby’s economic, energy, and foreign policy. They had fantasized about overthrowing Saddam since 1991. All they needed was a public hungry enough for justice to believe the bald faced lie that Iraq posed a threat.

Let us say this once again: Iraq in 2002 had nothing to do with the war on terrorism. We could have strong armed Saudi Arabia (which, unlike Iraq, actually was a breeding ground of Islamist hatred) into taking real steps towards democracy. We could have stationed 150,000 brave soldiers in Afghanistan to ensure that those who comprised the Taliban never again glimpsed power. Our presence in Afghanistan could have put added pressure on neighboring Pakistan to cooperate with us in rooting out violent terror cells. We could have meaningfully advanced the creation of a Palestinian state, using our military might to protect Israel, police the borders, and support elections. But, as we know, we did none of that. Osama Bin Laden is still at large because no one ever intended to capture him. Instead, we invaded Iraq and Exxon, Halliburton and Bechtel got their payday. As I have said many times before, I make no judgment on the corporations themselves. After all, a corporation is an amoral entity with a single goal: to make money for its shareholders. I would even go so far as to say that this is a good thing. All of my contempt is reserved for the politician who allows, encourages, cooperates in and, at last, benefits from this profiteering. We may never know the extent of their greed, and we may never know actual mechanics of their rationale behind invading Iraq. If it was about fighting terrorism at all, it was merely tangential, a “by the way, this might help defeat terror a little bit, too,” but I refuse to be so naïve as to believe that it was anything but money that motivated them.

There is no depth to which Karl Rove will not sink to advance his corrupt and corporatist agenda. His apology, which I know not to expect, would fall on deaf ears if he gave it. He represents the most venal, most depraved, and most exploitative inclinations of government. Karl says that liberals do not love their country and would wish it harm. It hardly needs to be said, but liberals love America more than many narrow minds could ever hope to understand, so much so that we seek to defend it from the likes of Mr. Rove.

P.S. They're just playing the "chase the new lie" game now. The latest Fox-News-funneled spin from the White House seems to be that Karl was just talking about liberal "groups" like and "why would Democrats want to stand up for fringe groups like that?" Of course this is a blatant lie. Karl very cleary said, and I'm paraphrasing here, "after 9/11 conservatives did X and liberals did Y." He didn't say "some liberal groups," he said liberals, and, call me crazy, to put liberals in opposition to conservatives without qualifying anything sort of implies liberals in general and conservatives in general. If not, then what conservative "groups" was he comparing to the liberal "groups?"

Wednesday, June 22, 2005


  • Potato Salad

  • Corn on the Cob

  • Watermelon

  • Hot Dog (Chicago style)

  • BBQ Ribs


  • Chicago Blackhawks Sweater – Away Red

  • New York Yankees Jersey – Home Pinstripes

  • Detroit Tigers Cap

  • Toronto Maple Leafs Sweater – Home White

  • St. Louis Cardinals Jersey – Home White

Exxon Gets Its Way

Pete Domenici reminds me of those two nobles in Braveheart who betray Mel Gibson in the middle of a battle that seems, according to the soundtrack musical cues and my complete lack of the actual history of the Battle of Falkirk notwithstanding, winnable. The English nobles watching the battle with the king express some surprise at the Scots betrayal of their own, but when the king tells them he gave them all kinds of lands, titles, women, money, etc. the nobles chuckle knowingly to themselves at the tenuous nature of the Scots newfound (again, this is movie history) resolve.

This from Reuters:

Pete Domenici of New Mexico, chairman of the Senate Energy Committee, last week said he might co-sponsor Democrat Jeff Bingaman's plan to slow the growth of U.S. carbon emissions with an emissions trading program beginning in 2010.

But late Monday night, Domenici announced in a brief statement that he would not support the measure.

"This is just too tough to do quickly," Domenici said, adding that he believes some action on climate change is needed.

"I expect we will have a series of hearings and I hope we can reach some sort of accommodation on all aspects of a climate proposal. But that will take time," he said.

Domenici refused to break ranks with the White House on climate change, after meeting with Vice President Dick Cheney last week and fellow Republican lawmakers on Monday.

The Bush administration opposes any form of carbon dioxide limits, preferring voluntary measures by utilities, manufacturing plants and other emitters. President Bush in 2001 pulled the United States out of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, citing its economic cost.
Much to the chagrin of Exxon spokesperson Iain Murray, Domenici had gotten religion on the idea of CO2 emissions and had declared his backing for new legislation co-sponsored by his fellow New Mexican, Democratic Senator Bingaman. That is, he did until Dick Cheney got him all alone in his office. I’m sure the pork that Cheney threw to New Mexico was substantial. Or maybe he just has a few pictures that Pete would rather not see all over the cover of the Albuquerque Journal. Or maybe he just told him what happens to those who go against the energy companies in this country. After all, business is booming, why be such a wet blanket?

It's not about money, you say? I'd say you've been watching too much propaganda on Fox News. Occam’s Razor is a very simple principle that instructs us to favor the simplest explanation. Money is always the simplest explanation.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Flag Burning Amendment

On this date in 1989, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Texas vs. Johnson that flag burning laws violated citizens’ constitutionally protected right to free speech. So what do the fringe groups (a.k.a. current GOP) do when a decision comes down from the Supreme Court that they don’t like? They rephrase the unpopular initiative so it polls well and try to get it slapped onto the end of the constitution! That way, the courts can't interfere!!!

What a stupid idea to amend the Constitution like this. First of all, what does “burning” mean? Is just burning illegal? So that means I can pour acid on it? Throw paint all over it? Fart on it? Scowl at it? Second, what does “flag” mean? Just flags on flagpoles? How about mini flags that they hand out by the hundreds on July 4th and then throw away? How about flag bikinis? Or flag robes for patriotic boxers? Or flag decals? Or paper flags? The only day I will ever burn the American flag, and it will probably bring tears to my eyes even then, is the day that flag burning is banned.

No, you right-wing lunatics, I am not for or pro or amateur flag burning. I just think that free speech is a wonderful, painful thing that is way more important than any sanctimonious sniveling over a flaming piece of cloth, even if that piece of cloth happens to have particular symbolic value.

War on Knowledge

More news from the front lines of the war against science, rationality and using the large brains that God gave us. Money quote:

Earlier this year, the Museum of Science and History of Fort Worth, Texas, refused to show the volcano film after a screening for a test audience.

"At the time, we had better choices that scored better in our screening tests," said Margaret Ritsch, the museum's Director of Public Affairs.

She admitted, however, that some people had made comments about the theory of evolution.

Valentine Kass, a science education program director at the National Science Foundation (NSF) which helped finance the film, hit out at the campaign against the IMAX movie.

"It is very troubling if science museums don't want to promote what we consider totally accepted ideas of science. It is not a positive trend at all."
I get it. Snap your fingers and all that annoying, "elitist" science just disappears. I really don't know what to say.

Via Drudge.

La Shawn Barber Blues

Yesterday I was banned from La Shawn Barber’s blog for making untoward comments. I had just got done telling her to “go right ahead and shut down the comments” advising that she join the ranks of other conservative bloggers who have no forum for discourse on their site. She responded to one of my profanity-free posts (that she had just deleted) with some claptrap about how “if she reads just one more blah blah blah, then I’m going to shut these comments down for good." “It’d be a good thing, too,” I responded in another comment (also deleted) right before she banished me forever, “because most of you ultra right-wingers get migranes at the sight of your own contradictions.” Sort of like programming R2D2 to divide by zero. After a while, a little plume of smoke appears over their heads and “they’re just gone, man.” I didn’t even say anything offensive. All I said was John Cole’s take on Dick Durbin was probably the right one; the response should not be to "cheer for more"/"laugh at" torture. I asked how torture squared with her Christian beliefs; she made some irrelevant noise about rape rooms and beheadings. Yes, I'm sure that on judgment day Jesus will ask you about those toenails you pulled out saying, “but what did he do to you first?”

Oh well, so much the better. I was spending way too much time over there anyway. Silly me for seeking out an alternate point of view. I normally don’t assume that people who disagree with me are completely insane, so I figured that I’d try to see what made La Shawn, an uber-Christian former liberal, tick. And when I say uber, I mean über. She actually believes in the divine right of kings (quick look at watch, yes 21st century, yes King Louis XIV is dead). Paul the Apostle was a great guy and everything, but I can’t resist pointing out that if his pronouncements in his letter to the Romans about “anything the king does is good” are to be taken on face value, it sort of undercuts the idea of dethroning Saddam. Which, of course, they were for. Because the Bible told them so? Or maybe it was Fox News. I’m sure they’d break me off a little Bible Code where something like Saddam, palace, righteous, explosion, I <3 Gitmo, was hidden deep in chapter 12 of Ezekiel. I won’t even point out that here in the good ol’ USA we have a government of the people, the power of which is manifested in their duly chosen representatives. So if anyone’s got a divine right here, it’s me. Or maybe I will point it out.

It really is amazing if you think about it. Here is a blog that is comparatively ranked with the mighty Eschaton in the “blog ecosystem,” and we’ve got the author of said blog trolling around her own message boards busily refuting and deleting. Does Atrios do this? I don’t think so. Of course what initially attracted me to her blog was the idea that I would be able to engage the author in an active discussion over the merits of her arguments, which were, on the whole, utterly ridiculous and in need of some serious taking down. She probably sensed that, though. Still, why not just be confident in the merit of your arguments and just discuss? How does shutting off my voice make the quality of discourse any stronger? On the rare occasions when they’re not spouting jingoistic hogwash, I actually quite enjoy the contributions of those on my right. We liberals can be just as knee-jerk as they can so it’s good to hear something out of the box. Usually you hear someone who’s out of their mind, of course, but all in all it’s a good trade-off: suffer the ravings of whack-jobs for the nugget of unconsidered wisdom that will come along every once in a while.

But I guess La Shawn and the rest of the Christublicans and Moral Socialists don’t want that type of exchange on their websites. It shouldn’t surprise me, because it really does fit with their overall world view. These are the same people who want to ban science, the purest form of agenda-free inquiry, from being taught in Kansas. Keep in mind that I’m not talking about conservatism, which is, like liberalism, merely an approach from which to begin a consideration. You’ve got to begin somewhere, and for me it just happens to be the liberal starting point that has served me best. After all, I do believe in what government can do, and since it’s apparently here to stay, we may as well get stuff like healthcare and public transit in addition to the garden variety corruption. No, this is about The Faithful, not to Christ but to a very narrow, Dick Cheney approved worldview in which there is no contradiction. It must be nice to have a deflector field that protects against all cognitive dissonance, to have a filter that blocks all shades of gray, to believe so strongly in a thought process that would hardly challenge a ten year old.

I respect La Shawn, not only for her wildly successful website, but because I think she is a reasonably intelligent person. Not that she cares about what I think, though. She did ban me from her site, you remember. Maybe she’ll let me back on if I start towing the line a little bit. Here goes: “Yay torture! I hate gay people! Jesus told me to bomb that mosque!”

Update (6-22-05): Still banned.

Update 2 (6-22-05): Back on line. Vow to behave self.

Monday, June 20, 2005


So now that support for the War in Iraq is in the thirties, you think maybe the press will stop pretending that the American people are behind it? Naaa, me neither.

Via the one and only Atrios.

Nuts! Bolton Blocked

John Bolton, in whose person the Senate and White House are engaged in a proxy war, was blocked as Bill Frist failed to muster enough votes to close debate. Good for the Senate Democrats. They finally managed to grow some spine on this one. Like I've said before, "obstructionist" charges won't stick because no one except us pol junkies even know who John Bolton is.

The Dems shouldn't give one inch. They have virtually nothing to lose. They get no bad press for being obstinate, and what's more, Bush is going to be an ass and bypass the Senate while they're on recess anyway, so any kind of compromise is totally out the window. What's more, any recess appointment could certainly create some backlash for its impropriety. By holding firm the Senate Dems re-establish the filibuster as a regular tactic, force Bush to roll the dice on a recess appointment, and once again humiliate Bill Frist and the GOP.

And about that Frist. Wow. To steal a line from Lloyd Christmas, "Mr. Frist, you are one pathetic loser."

Down This Road Before

Andrew Sullivan says that gays are the new Jews. I can't say that I disagree with him.

Hatred is not an American value.

Advice and Do Whatever You Want

Bush version of an up-or-down vote: no downs or else no vote!!!

Shopping in the Banana Republic might soon just mean going to the mall.

GOP Hates Veterans

Freaking bastards. The GOP chickenhawk cowards are screwing combat vets out of their healthcare. With as much bending over as our veterans have to do, I cannot believe, as in do a double take and rub my eyes, as in I am absolutely shocked and amazed anew each time I hear about it, that veterans supported Bush in the 2004 election.

Via the ever dangerous Suburban Guerrilla.

Agency in Lebanon

If someone blew up my house and a piece of debris from the rec room was rocketed across the neighborhood and flew past a mugger just as he was about to rip off some old lady’s purse, and the piece distracted him just enough to allow the old lady to administer a donkey kick right to his balls, while I would be pretty mad about my house (as in, not being for blowing it up) I would have to admit that the lady got a pretty good deal. This same lady, after the fact, might not even feel too terrible about what happened to my house. This is basically how I feel about what’s going on in Lebanon. Hariri Sr.’s assassination notwithstanding, and for as much as I disagree with the rationale behind war in Iraq, I must concede that U.S. involvement in Iraq, however unjustified and harmful in itself, provided the backdrop for a positive step for democratic self-rule in Lebanon.

For those of you who are still unconvinced as to agency, consider this situation from the wonderful and magical game of baseball. A pitcher gives up a single, then the runner steals second. Now if the pitcher walks the next batter, some would be tempted to say that the steal was rendered useless, because the runner would have moved over anyway when the next guy walked. While it is impossible to prove either way, what remains true is that the pitcher had to face a batter with a man on second. This was the environment in which the second batter’s plate appearance (not an at-bat, cause he walked) took place. We cannot say definitively that it caused the walk, but the fact is that we just don’t know what would have happened if the pitcher had faced the next man with the first man still on first base. Maybe he would have thrown sinkers trying to induce a double-play grounder instead of unsuccessfully pecking at the corners for the strikeout trying to prevent the runner from advancing to third with one out. Environment counts for a lot, and, at the end of the day, it is value neutral. Every action has countless ramifications, some good and some bad. One is not forced to be “for” something when one says that it helped to cause good.

Mastercard Is Taking Names

5 floors of data server racks: $12 million

Payoffs to grinning congressmembers: $80 million

Stealing your customers’ information: Priceless

How about this, Mastercard? And I won’t limit it to Mastercard, because I’m not naïve enough to think that every other card company isn’t busily backing up to local drives then deleting their network databases at this very moment. So how about this, credit-card industry in general? Since you have taken it upon yourselves to steal my information and then allow said information to be subsequently stolen from you, how about you take care of my payments for a year? How about that? For being accessory to virtual B & E, and since you didn't know, or care for that matter, how large my credit limit was, you set me up with as many transactions as your little servers (what's left of them anyway) can handle in one year. That would be even, fellas. That'd be about square.

I have to really try hard in this case not to get mad at the card industry itself. Yes of course I want justice, but I really can't be angry at them per se. After all, it’s doing what any other large amoral entity with a mob mentality would do – anything and everything within its power to make money for its shareholders. And no matter how hard I whine and moan about it, it's never going to change. But the energy expended restraining myself thus will of course be channeled to a righteous fury at those patrons of loan-sharking, those corrupt politicians, who, flush with campaign cash, allow, enable and even vote for these things to continue. At least I can vote these jerks out of office. I think...

Biden Runs for President

So Sen. Joe Biden’s running for president. A little early to announce, no? I guess that explains that vote for MBNA. What’s with all these Senators being bandied about as presidential candidates? Don’t people realize that Senators are virtually NEVER elected president? Being a good Senator and campaigning well for president are an entirely different skill set, and I wish my Democratic colleagues would stop thinking of our bench of presidential potentials consisted entirely of Senators. But back to Biden, I really can’t think of any better news that could have greeted me this Monday morning. He says he’s testing the water for money and support. He’ll get it of course, although in limited amounts, but enough to keep him going. He’ll be the “frontrunner” by dint of the simple fact he was first to call the big blind, as well as being pretty high profile. He won’t win a single primary, hopefully his candidacy will be like a Left Jab, stunning the media just enough to keep them off balance. This is not to say that a Joe Biden run wasn’t about as inevitable as a giant dump Friday after Thanksgiving, it was, just that his presence makes smearing lesser known candidates tougher to do. Such a high profile candidate, with such a microwaveable smearing point as his plagiarism spat, will groggy up a lazy media so that when the Right Cross hits them, they won’t know which way is up. Now if we could only find Mr. Right…

P.S. Glenn Reynolds has more.

Sunday, June 19, 2005


Happy Juneteenth.

"But, if this part of our history could be told in such a way that those chains of the past, those shackles that physically bound us together against our wills could, in the telling, become spiritual links that willingly bind us together now and into the future - then that painful Middle Passage could become, ironically, a positive connecting line to all of us whether living inside or outside the continent of Africa..."

- Tom Feelings

Sweet Freedom:
A simple share
Of the glorious breathing of free air.


  • Cliff Huxtable

  • Howard Cunningham

  • Mike Brady

  • Andy Taylor

  • Charles Ingalls

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Civil Disobedience in Oregon

So let me get this straight: Hardy Meyers, the Attorney General of the State of Oregon, is assuring Oregon doctors that they can go back to issuing medical "pot" cards in the wake of the recent 6-3 ruling by the Supreme Court because even though they confirmed pot smoking was illegal, he's just pretty darn sure federal agents won't do anything about it.

Oregon officials continued to process applications while they waited for assurance from state Attorney General Hardy Meyers that they were not violating federal law. They approved 547 applications in the interim and began Friday mailing 100 to 150 cards a day to catch up, Higginson said.

The high court decision upheld a position that federal officials have taken since Oregon's law passed in 1998 -- that they have the authority to go after medical marijuana users, even if the users are protected from state prosecution.

As a practical matter, federal drug agents, who focus on large-scale drug traffickers, rarely choose to arrest small backyard growers typical of those using marijuana for medical reasons.

So nobody cares if it happens, it's taking place under the supervision of a doctor, and it's not hurting anyone. "Quick, somebody please put an end to this madness! Drugs are bad! (takes drag from cigaratte, sips morning coffee)"

I can't think of a better example of laws existing for the sole purpose of making depraved, self-righteous hypocrites feel good about themselves.

Tyco Execs Guilty

Kozlowski and Swartz are facing up to 30 years in prison for stealing $600 million from Tyco, their former company. How much do you want to bet that Kozlowski gets sentenced to 10 years or less, is paroled in half that time, and within five years of getting out is regularly appearing on Fox News? Hey, if it worked for Oliver North and G. Gordon Liddy, why not him? I think I'd be willing to lay down about $200 on this. Any takers?

P.S. Mandatory minimums seem like a good idea all of a sudden. Fifteen years for every $10 million sounds about right.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Downing Street Memo

Headline from a CSM article on DSM:

Is 'Downing Street Memo' a smoking gun?

Bush critics say it shows he lied to Americans about Iraq, but others say memo offers nothing new.

If by "nothing new," you mean we've known all along that Bush was lying to us sexing up the intelligence in order to shoehorn a neo-conservative wetdream into an unrelated circumstance, well then, yes, I guess you have a point.

The Haitian Project

Click on the link to visit The Haitian Project, the organization which runs A Louverture Cleary, a private high school in Haiti. They are currently conducting an emergency fundraising drive for five graduates who, due to civil unrest, find themselves unable to pay for the second semester of university this year. The new college students must pay before their final exams or they will lose their year of credit as well as their first semester payment. The emergency fund seeks to raise approximately $10,000 for the five A Louverture Cleary graduates.

Please consider a donation to this worthy cause.

Better PR!!!

I just love the header on Arianna Huffington's post on Huffington Post. So true. And no doubt the problem with the Edsel was: bad salesmen!!!

P.S. from now on here at the 12 sided blog, Huffington Post posts will be called "articles" or "items." Anything but posts.

Fight or Flight

Americans are jumping off the Bush bandwagon like it were on fire. So what does Bush do? Slow down? Ask for water? Nope, he steps on the gas. Check out this quote from CBS News (Via Drudge).

President Bush's solution? Not to change tack on Iraq - or drop Social Security like some Republicans want. Instead - he'll sharpen his focus and ramp up his sales pitch in the coming weeks. Telling Americans why it's important to stay the course in Iraq - pressuring Congress to get some of his agenda passed by the August recess.

I, for one, would hope that this most recent bout of stubborness fans the flames a bit (to take this metaphor about as far as it can possibly go), but it’s worth commenting on this guy’s resolve, misguided or no. To me, Bush’s compulsion to prove he’s right is a profound weakness in his ability to lead and a big reason for his being so unpopular. But in terms of his political fight or flight instincts, I think the Democrats would be wise to take a page from his playbook. I’d like to see, every now and again, the Dems be as fearless, if not as bullheaded, as the president.

Thursday, June 16, 2005


Over at Echidne, there is a running exchange about the underlying cultural and sexual mores in the case of the missing girl in Aruba. What went wrong? Should she have done anything differently? Are we wrong even to ask that question? As is often the case in heated discussions, both “sides” basically agree with one another on the main points. Of course it is agreed that the only culpable parties are the men who committed the crimes. Also more or less universally accepted is that women cannot be said to have provoked or deserved or expected any form of assault as a result of their dress, conversation, manner, or otherwise. The only real disagreement is one of balance. To my mind, the extremes on the spectrum of What To Do About Sexual Assault are, on one hand, to wrap up women in burqas, protecting the males from “temptation,” but denying the women’s very femininity, and, on the other hand, to stride headlong into danger, righteously defiant, in a red dress and six inch heels. Most of the contention arises when someone believes another is leaning too far toward one of these extremes and seeks to reel them back. For the record, I don’t claim that there’s any moral equivalence between the two extremes. Clearly, forcing women to cover themselves is much worse than a woman merely throwing caution to the wind.

Obviously, no one is championing either extreme (at least I don’t think so), so the question becomes “What does the middle ground look like?” And from that question, there springs another: “What do we do once we get there?” Indeed, the true goal of the middle ground in this case is not readily apparent. It seems that most of what is being discussed are standards of behavior operative only after the assault has occurred. This almost seeks to be a framework for channeling blame to its proper recipients. In this context, we look upon sexual assault as something that always already has occurred. All we can hope to do is shield the victim from further trauma by deflecting any attempt to assault her with culpability as well. While to protect the victim from further harm is certainly desirable, to look at sexual assault in this way, as a foregone conclusion over which control can be exerted only in its aftermath, carries a sense of fundamental powerlessness. There is nothing that can be done about the assault because it already happened.

There is something problematic about the very nature of the spectrum of responses that were under discussion. If we assume that the middle of the spectrum is somewhat like the ends, then we’re left to conclude that all of our responses to sexual assault have to do with what women are doing. Seeing as the perpetrators of sexual assault are nearly always men, the protests of women who say that the most common response to rape is to even further attempt to control women seem confirmed. The language that is missing from our discussion is a substantive way to address the behavior of men. Of course the fatalism of seeking to control only the aftermath completely removes the man from consideration because, of course, the assault has already occurred. But if people are correct to complain about the “The man’s is 100% at fault, but…” line, and I think they are, then the discussion needs to center on what happens before the assault occurs. If we only speak in terms of post-assault, then there really is no need to “address” the man’s behavior, because the only appropriate framework for the man at this point is the criminal justice system.

So what now? If we’re going to talk about the man’s role in the sexual assault, then we necessarily must talk about it from a pre-assault mindset. At this point it’s common to fall into the trap of talking about the woman’s behavior exclusively – her outfit, her judgment, her attitude, her level of intoxication. Why? Because it seems much easier to control the behavior of the woman than that of the unruly man. To be honest, I have absolutely no idea what a substantive discussion about modifying men’s behavior would sound like. What can we do (and, at last, that must be what the point of this whole exercise is) to stop men from raping women? What can the community do to raise a young man who will be more respectful of women and less likely to commit rape? Because these questions are so broad and so general, we tend to stop short of the worthy challenge they present to us. So instead of tackling questions that may well be unanswerable, we move to something relatively easily accomplished like insisting that the women not go out alone, that our daughter wear a different sweater, that our sister never give out real name or number. Of course, more demurely dressed, mild mannered women than you can count are raped in "safe" spaces every year. They didn't wear the wrong clothes, talk with too sassy a tone, and they didn't leave their house. What are those women to do? I'm sure there is some way to effect large scale changes that reduce the likelihood of men committing rape, but finding out how will be a hard task indeed. Like with so many other things, we take the easy way out.


  • Billie Jean

  • P.Y.T.

  • Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough

  • The Way You Make Me Feel

  • Rock With You


  • Se7en

  • Raiders of the Lost Ark

  • Silence of the Lambs

  • The Sixth Sense

  • Jaws

Evolution and Name Calling

Michael Shermer has a very perceptive article in the Huffington Post about the bid to ban the teaching of science in Kansas. Money quote:

By contrast, a scientist would want to know how ID [Intelligent Design] did it. Did ID use known principles of chemical bonding and self-organization to create the first DNA molecule? If so, then ID appears indistinguishable from nature. Is this the God IDers worship? No. IDers want a supernatural God who uses unknown forces to create life. But what will IDers do when science discovers those forces? If they join in the research on them then they will be doing science. If they continue to eschew all attempts to provide a naturalistic explanation for the natural phenomena under question, IDers will have abandoned science altogether. This is, in fact, what they have done.

This is an excellent point, and something which has been largely overlooked. This is not just about evolution vs. creation. This isn’t even a debate over which is “correct,” religion or science. (In fact, the previous question is impossible to answer, since the goals of science and religion have so little in common. A somewhat similar divide-by-zero type of question would be to weigh the “correctness” of politics and mathematics.) This is about the desire to affect a willful ignorance and ascribe the workings of otherwise knowable processes to “magic.” This is about the active resistance of the dispassionate inquiry that is the scientific process. It’s as if nothing that God does can possibly take place within the confines of the physical and mathematical rules that He made in the first place. It strikes me as very odd that these defenders of God seem to have so little faith that any explanation of natural happenings that does not involve a poof of white smoke and a temporary suspension of the laws of physics threatens their belief system.

I hear so often from Democratic insiders and strategists that “we can’t dismiss the cultural conservatives as stupid. We’re the ones who are stupid.” I certainly wouldn’t dispute that the modern Democratic party has rightly earned that label. But in the face of a story like this, it really is a Herculean challenge not to dismiss the almost monolithically Republican proponents of ID as stupid, because, well, they are stupid. It debases one’s own intellegence as well as the collective insight of centuries of scientific tradition to engage in a “debate” with these people over the veracity of the theory of evolution. Even if scientists condescended so low as to address the issue of non-scientists claiming decades of evidence to be “inconclusive,” the natural give and take of any real debate would be impossible since the creationists have completely disavowed the scientific methods of disinterested observation, hypothetical inquiry, and careful experimentation. They always already know that they’re right regardless of the evidence. If these people were a fringe group, they'd be ignored. But they're not. They actually get to decide what our children learn. What’s left for one to do but call names?

P.S. Volokh has a pretty good take on this (via Instapundit).

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

David A. Blundell Award

I have decided to institute my first award category. I will name it the David A. Blundell Award in honor of our intrepid drunk ice-cream truck driver from Milwaukee. The award will be given to that man or woman who, after being caught in the act, displays the most seamless facade of incredulousness that they should receive any punishment whatsoever. The prize will be awarded on an annual basis.

Please feel free to submit nominees as you see fit.

What an Idiot!!!

Well this guy sure is a prizewinner!

Best quote:

"I'm driving and selling ice cream to kids, you know, and it's like, dude gave me a beer and I dumped it out and I shot it on the ground," he said. "Why I grabbed it I had no idea. That was just stupid. Then I realized, `I got to get rid of this, it's not good.'"

Blundell said he didn't know why the result of his Breathalyzer test was three times the level considered evidence of intoxication.

"I told (the officer) there was something wrong with that machine," he said. "He said there wasn't."

Schiavo Autopsy

Let's set aside for a moment the moral aspects of end of life issues. Because in light of information gained from the recent autopsy of Terry Schaivo, it is abundantly clear that Bill Frist, Tom DeLay, their friends in the GOP caucus and the Fox News propaganda machine were not interested in debating the moral issues in question. They must not have considered their arguments to be very sound, since instead of talking about actual moral issues at stake, they resorted to a campaign to lie to everyone who would listen about the specifics of Schiavo's condition. See, it makes it easier to build the mouthbreathers into a froth if they think that Terry's just sitting there minding her business, looking around the room, drinkin' a milkshake, whatever, than if she's actually brain dead. Which, of course, she was. In effect, instead of just shooting the free throw, the GOP tried to paint a new free throw line. They trotted out quack after absolute quack to slobber all over Fox News microphones. They made the disgraceful accusations that Mr. Schaivo (possibly?!?! could it be?!?! more on My Word with Jon Gibson!) was the one who put his wife in her condition in the first place. And let's not forget how Dr. Frist shamed himself, his profession, not to mention the entire scientific method by his ridiculous "TV diagnosis." All this, of course, to try to prop up the bald faced lie that Terry was completely lucid, that if you just put your ear close to her mouth and listened long enough she'd ask you to grab her a burrito.

Circle of Life

Via Huffington Post we have this little gem about the fine art of backscratching.

From lobbying to policymaking:

Before coming to the White House, Cooney worked as lobbyist at the American Petroleum Institute, which is the chief representative of the oil and gas industry.

From policymaking to industry:

Cooney, most recently the chief of staff to President Bush's Council on Environmental Quality, left [for a post at Exxon] amid claims by critics that he edited reports on global warming to downplay concerns raised by the scientific community.

And I'm sure that when the jig is up at Exxon, there'll be a nice desk waiting for him once again on K Street to complete the circle. Industry to lobbying.

Now I've said this before and I'll say it again: I've got absolutely no problem with a guy like Cooney doing what he has to do to get by. In fact, his career path really does make a lot of sense. He may or may not be a total scumbag, but that it pretty much irrelevant. What I simply cannot tolerate is the Republican politicians who allow this personnel recycling to happen. These guys just don't care that policy these days is of, by and for Corporate America. They don't even bother to make it look otherwise.

Not only does the GOP allow it to happen, it is encouraged! The current environment is what Tom DeLay has been working for years to establish. The simple fact is that stoking this incestuous and clearly corrupt circle of influence has become the defining characteristic of the modern Republican party. They are in government to get themselves and their friends extremely rich. And while they're at it, they cut their own taxes for good measure.

This Week's Sign Of The Apocalypse

Now they have fake mud that you can spray onto your SUV. So when you cruise down your needlessly curvy street in your subdivision named for an Elizabethan English manor and you pull into your driveway, engine humming $2.15 gas at worse than 10 miles a gallon, the trunk packed with sale price TV dinners and 80-count cases of Sam’s Club TP, all of your sun-burned neighbors will look up from their mowing, and see how much fun you had on your fake fishing trip.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Batman Begins

I can't wait for Batman Begins. I have a feeling we have a great film in store for us. Hopefully this stab at creating a Batman cycle turns out a little bit better than the last one. It's amazing when you think about, but in less than 200 minutes of screen time after Joker fell from the cathedral steeple, we went from cool, edgy hyperbole to pathetic, campy, claptrap worse than anything Adam West could have ever dreamed of.

I hope that after this film, they can keep their hands firmly on the steering wheel of this bus. For some reason, the Batman franchise has a tendency to veer into the great sewage ditch of bad jokes and gray tights.

GOP Wants To Abolish Social Security

So Bush is back to begging for "ideas" (code for: taxes he can accuse the Democrats of trying to raise). Isn't this the same guy who said "I want to lead" about 10 times during a bumbling appearance on Meet the Press last year?

Here's my response if I'm Harry Reid and Bush asks me for "ideas" on Social Security: "I'm troubled by the push to abolish Social Security. We want to preserve Social Security for future generations." Make it completely clear to anyone listening that this isn't about ideas. This is about whether to abolish Social Security or to keep it. Democrats should poll that question and publicize the 85% "keep" number they would get.

We shouldn't let up on this one because you can be damn sure Bush won't.

Death Penalty

Surprise, surprise. A miscarraige of justice in death row cases? Couldn't be. Racial bias contributing to the execution of black prisoners? Impossible. Cleaning out this fridge seems to have uncovered a big tupperware bowl full of old grimy stank, not that we hadn't been smelling it for a while. In a shocking turn of events, the Supreme Court found that actual injustice was taking place in the Texas criminal justice system, leading them to commute an inmate's death sentence. Since what they were ruling on is pretty much a standard practice, it's not too much of a stretch to say that other inmates, perhaps even some of those already put to death, are probably in the same boat. Of course, I think we all know who was happily putting prisoner after prisoner to death during most of the 1990s. Again, not sure if any of those guys maybe got a raw deal, but I'll leave you to be the judge of that.

I'm not too educated on the subject, but it seems to me that peremptory challenges should be eliminated altogether. As the Tribune article indicates, the late Chief Justice Marshall favored banning them too, so I don't feel too bad about throwing in with him. Legislation to that end would, of course, actually be a step foward for civil rights, in contrast to the lip-service that the recent apology for failure to enact anti-lynching laws represents. Personally, I could care less if they're sorry or not. If they're not going to address any actual issues, I don't want to hear it.

P.S. Note that it was the long-gone 5th Circuit Court of Appeals that repeatedly rejected the defendant's claims. Welcome aboard, Priscilla Owen. Assholes.

Mad Cow Disease

Is there any reason why we don't have testing for mad cow disease in this country? Oh yeah, Republicans. I forgot.

Hat tip: Christopher Heiser

Monday, June 13, 2005

Big Time Howard

I want to send out a big THANK YOU to Howard Dean for what has to be the best quote of 2005.

Dean was asked to react to the punch from the vice president.

"My view is that Fox News is a propaganda outlet for the Republican Party and I don't comment on Fox News."

Business vs. Free Market

This post from Dan Drezner’s blog reminded me of something I’ve felt for a while. I don’t understand how legislation written for business by business isn’t widely considered inherently antithetical to the principles of the free market. The goal for any corporation is a 100% market share. To become a monopoly is what every big corporation is working for. And it is well that they should, for what else are they to do? Unless you are pushing your advantage to the absolute maximum, you are on the decline. I have no quarrel with the corporations who try their darndest to get favorable legislation signed, but I do have a problem with people who seem to think it’s anti-capitalism to oppose such measures. The free market is an essentially consumer oriented experience. It is from the buyer’s frame of reference that the market is free. The less control the sellers have over their environment, the better for the buyer. Unfortunately, the corporations who write the laws, the lobbyists who push the laws, and the (usually) GOP legislators who pass the laws in exchange for lots and lots of money, have managed to convince most people that their agenda is the one championing capitalism.

Just one more reason you should tell your friends that the Democrats are the party of the free market, the party of competition, the party of the consumer. Hammer it home and eventually people believe it. Hey, if it works for lies, why shouldn’t it work for the truth?

Save the Children

Click to fight against state-sanctioned child abuse. Kids simply should not be treated this way. After yet another example of the hatred and violence directed towards gays, how anyone could possibly think that homosexuality is a choice is beyond me. Why would someone “choose” that? The irony is that what ends up happening half the time is these kids who realize they are homosexual try to “opt” out, escape, “choose” a different path by killing themselves, which, according to the founder of Love In Action, is A-O-K.

The Christian Right just can’t get over the fact that there will always be gays in the world. I suppose their evangelical nature compels them to try to “save” the poor gays, but as Thoreau once wisely said of such people, “if someone comes to you offering help you, run away,” or something like that.


  1. The Shins

  2. The Libertines

  3. The Beta Band

  4. The Arcade Fire

  5. Keane

New Coldplay

X & Y is very, very good. Gets better with repeated listening. These guys really do have their own sound. I don't think I need to say how tough that is to pull off.


  • Till Kingdom Come

  • Speed of Sound

  • Fix You

  • Talk

  • Square One

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Wherefore Dean Bashing

Is it surprising at all that Democratic beltway insiders' political instincts are/were way off when it comes to belittling Howard Dean for some incendiary remarks? Is it any wonder that these same bozos who haven't won a damn thing in a decade (Clinton doesn't count because he did it all himself, he could have won with a cadre of marmosets for a staff. Wait...) didn't want to associate themselves with anything even resembling a fight? They're a bunch of cowering losers! What else could we have possibly expected of them? When Republicans say stupid shit and get called on it, every single member of the GOP caucus, marching orders in hand, goes to the press and at the very least highlights the basic truth in what their guy was "getting at." They certainly don't make him look bad/stupid/rash/uninfluential in front of the media.

The takeaway from this story is that we on the net are ON OUR OWN. The party brass in Washington simply doesn't have the balls/brains to take us where we need to be. Many thanks to good Dr. Dean for making that all too clear. Newsflash to all Democratic loss-meisters: If you yourself think the GOP is full of bullshit and someone else (maybe the party chair?) goes on TV and says that they're full of horseshit, when it's your turn to be on TV you nod and agree and say that "yes, they're full of shit." You don't argue whether it was a bull or a horse.

Third World Debt

Glad to see some progress being made on forgiving third world debt. Check out this blurb from the article vis-a-vis eligibility:

Under the agreement, 18 countries would receive immediate forgiveness on more than $40 billion that they owe in coming years, a combined savings for those countries estimated at $1.5 billion a year.

Most are in Africa: Benin, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. Four others -- Bolivia, Guyana, Honduras and Nicaragua -- are in Latin America. Another nine African nations are likely to qualify soon, once they satisfy IMF and World Bank requirements for improving their governance and economic policies. Another 11 countries could also benefit eventually.

So it seems the debt service of the countries not eligible for relief have effectively become economic sanctions. I've never really understood the thought process behind these kinds of penalties. Sort of like telling the playground bully that you're going to beat the living hell out of all the geeks if he doesn't stop stealing the geeks' lunch money. I'm sure the bully thinks to himself, "Great, now when I steal their money, they get beat up too! How could life be any better?"

I suppose you can't just write off debt without demanding something in return, but these criteria seem awfully "inside the box" to me. How about this as a "punishment" for defaulting: not lending them any more money! Just write off the entire debt, tell them they're on their own, and leave it at that. Would it have that large an negative impact on the world economy? That could not possibly be a worse situation for them than the present one. Right now, they have negative foreign aid. Getting back to no foreign aid at all would be an improvement. Plus, it's not like once they're back at zero, they're going to steal the IMF's Banana Republic store card and buy new uniforms for the army.

Unless someone blatanly has the money and the wherewithal and just doesn't pay, my sympathies in loan default situations lie mostly with the lendee. If the lender writes a bad loan, shame on him! Lenders already have their risk/reward scenarios embedded in the interest rates. Since that natural market balance (free market you stupid Republican hypocrites!!!) is already in place, bankruptcy laws that favor the lender don't make too much sense. Essentially, you preserve all the benefits of the reward scenario while hedging most of the lender's risk. Pretty good deal for the lender! And a perfect environment in which to write knowingly bad, predatory loans! Good work, MBNA! Anyway, it would probably be tougher to get a loan in my world, since bankruptcy laws would favor the lendee so much, but on the whole, I have to believe that widespread loansharking is much worse than tougher requirements to get your hands on capital.

Wedding Bells

This from the WaPo AP wire:

When asked by the interviewer if he's going to propose to Holmes, Cruise whispered, "It's gonna happen, man. It'll happen."

What the hell kind of a thing to say is that? "Yeah, man, when I get around to it, I'm popping the question like it's never been popped before." Women, take it from me, a regular guy, that if a man says something like that to/about you, two things are undeniably true. 1) The guy is full of shit. 2) You should dump him faster than a racehorse on laxatives.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Paul Anka

Who on earth chose the songs that Paul Anka sings on his new record? Is he kidding? He must be. There’s really no other explanation. Is Paul Anka really looking to break into the joke-lounge genre? Did Dick Cheese himself produce this album? I can’t imagine a worse line-up of tunes for the guy. Paul Anka has a really good voice. Surely there are songs, even “oh, that’s interesting” songs, that he could have sung of the non-convulsive-laughter-producing variety. Smells Like Teen Spirit? Eye of the Tiger? Jump?!?! The guys mixing the tracks in the studio must have hardly been able to contain themselves. “Paul, take it…hold on…wait…(hysterics)…dude, shut up…hey, Paul, could you take it from ‘an albino?’ (sound of production crew absolutely losing it).” This is like that weird girl from The Apprentice who was cast to be on another reality show, except for the fact that it wasn’t a reality show at all, but a show about people getting duped into thinking they were on a reality show. I feel bad for Paulie. He doesn’t deserve this. This is the work of truly evil people. Seriously, whoever orchestrated this atrocity has about the same moral compass as the guys who did Bumfights. I suppose someone might have honestly thought that they could replicate the relative success of William Shatner by getting an old crooner to sing the musical equivalent of a chimp putting on deodorant. At least Shatner is fully in control of the unintentional comedy that radiates from him like so many beta particles. Poor Paul Anka. Someone should pay for this. Wait…

(Hat tip: Corrente)

A Thoughtful And Christian Approach

Jeff Jarvis links to a great article that argues something that I've been saying for years (mumbled in low tones to myself, that is). Listen up all "religious" zealots (as if it mattered what type of zealot you are)! You can't legislate morality!

Is anyone else freaked out by that commercial where celebrities wearing white t-shirts appear on the screen one after another to say now’s our big chance to end hunger and poverty forever? Let me quote Dr. Evil on that one, “Riiiiiight.” What the hell are they talking about? I try to listen to what they’re saying, Tom Hanks , Dennis Hopper and Jamie Foxx draw me in, but then Al Pacino, and Benecio Del Toro (did someone actually call him a poor man’s Brad Pitt?!?!) lurch onto the screen with haggard, flashlight-to-the-chin chiaroscuro and horrify me back to the point of bewilderment. So I’m back to square one. And now here’s Pat Robertson! They must have had to put him in a different hotel from the rest of the Hollywood celebrities. I’m thinking the producers of the commercial stuck him in there unbeknownst to anyone else involved, trying to Lysol the slight lefty aroma of the rest of the lineup with a bit of bi-partisanship. For your average wingnut, seeing Pat Robertson’s prayerful mug right in the middle of a Hollywood induced froth is like taking a foaming pot of boiling potatoes off the range – instant calm. I’m glad they got Tom Hanks to say “we’re not asking for your money” at the end, because otherwise I wouldn’t have believed it. Actually, I still don’t believe it. I'm sure some of these guys are serious about this, but it seems to me like an excuse for celebrities to wear wristbands.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005


  1. Desire

  2. I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For

  3. Pride (In The Name Of Love)

  4. One Tree Hill

  5. Mysterious Ways



Poll Timeline

  1. Poll is released

  2. Results pounced on by bloggers pleased with results

  3. Skeptical bloggers of opposite political stripe deride poor quality of poll

  4. Skeptical bloggers tell readers to "take poll with grain of salt"

  5. Intrepid blogger breaks down party ID, religion, income, etc. as percentage of responders, reassures readers that poll cannot be trusted since it does not match exit polling

  6. Rinse

  7. Repeat

9-11 Memorial

Jeff Jarvis is angry about the seeming politicization of the proposed memorial for the 9-11 site. I myself think that anything other than a celebration of the victims lives is utterly inappropriate. No agenda-laced paeans to freedom, no pictures of any blue-fingered Iraqis, no remembrances of injustices suffered or perpetrated, just the people who died and the lives they led.

Personally, I think the best idea for a memorial comes from Donald Trump. His idea of another set of twin towers, only this time done bigger, badder, and better seems about right to me. No agenda, just the indomitable spirit of America.

Osama Bin Laden

As of today, the architect of the nearly 3,000 murders in New York City on September 11, 2001 has been at large for 3 years, 8 months, and 29 days.

Just a little reminder in case anyone else cares.

Amnesty International

Anne Applebaum criticizes Amnesty International today for being anti-American. For my part, I fail to see how identifying injustice is anything but anti-injustice. America is not immune from perpetrating injustice, and pointing this out doesn’t not mean that one is anti-American. Perhaps the use of the word gulag seems excessive. But that it “equates” our leaders with Stalin? That’s a pretty huge intellectual jump there. Certainly the modern day U.S. is a way way way to the nth degree way better place to be than Stalin’s Russia. But I’m not sure that a solitary person, deprived of freedom indefinitely without having been charged, really cares where the leaders of the country that imprisoned him stand on the spectrum of world pariahs. From his lone perspective, how big the overall operation is, whether it’s limited to one prison in Cuba or all of Siberia, whether it is national policy or a national embarrassment, really doesn’t matter. All he knows is that he can’t get out. Amnesty is a prisoners’ rights group. Truly shocking that they would have taken a prisoner’s point of view. Gulag may be a loaded word, but its excess is mainly in contrast to many conservatives’ dismissiveness and even glee at the allegations of prisoner abuse and suspension of the rule of law.

Howard Dean

Drudge's headline is "CAUGHT ON TAPE: DEM CHAIR DEAN CALLS GOP 'WHITE CHRISTIAN PARTY.'" Now aside from the fact that Dean's statement (and thus Drudge's headline) is utterly unremarkable, I have just one question: does an item qualify as "caught on tape" if one speaks said item directly into a microphone?

Tuesday, June 07, 2005


I felt like I needed to atone for the God-awful Billboard list with a list of my own. Some overlap, but that's inevitable.

  • Madonna

  • Joan Jett

  • Chrissy Hynde

  • Missy Elliot

  • Sleater-Kinney

  • Alicia Keys

  • Karen O

  • Bjork

  • M.I.A.

  • Chan Marshall

  • Honorable Mentions:

  • Norah Jones

  • Tori Amos

  • Gwen Stefani

P.S. Special mention for music legend Patti Smith, whom I forgot to include in a complete lapse of right judgment. (Hat Tip: Yardo)

Bad Political Instincts

Can there be any doubt that Kerry's not releasing his records was by far the worst mistake of either campaign? Sure, the Swift Boat crap would have gained a lot less traction, since the whole thing was fueled on speculation. But the real winner in those documents were Kerry’s lackluster grades. Seeing all those C’s and D’s would have totally defused the whole regular guy vs. genius-in-the-front-row-that-everyone-hated thing that was basically the theme of Bush’s campaign. Kerry’s seeming “smarter” than Bush probably cost him more votes than it gained him. I bet that idiot Shrum had something to do with this.

Right-Wing "Christians"

Taking a cue from Hannibal Lecter, I ask of the modern Christian Right: “What is it, in itself, what is its na-ture? What does it do, this Christian Right?” My answer: It judges. Everything about the Christian Right flows from this. They define their own righteousness not in terms of their own accomplishments, but in opposition to the wrongness of others. The Christian Right is not nearly so sure that they themselves are saved as they are sure that certain others are not saved. It is at least as important to be sure who you should have nothing to do with as who your brethren are. The idea of community consists mainly of marking various peoples as Samaritans with whom one should not associate. The more accurately one judges and identifies those who should be outcast, the purer the company one keeps and the more acceptable the community. Taken to an extreme, this philosophy becomes the fetishization of the idea of victim, which is at its root a framework for identifying, condemning, and ascribing predatory power to those they see as evil. Those who are marked and judged are then portrayed as threatening and willing to do harm. The world is not populated by God’s children, seen as basically good, but by rampaging enemies of the faith that must defeated. Theologically, it is much more important to know the devil than to know the Lord. The devil is systematically assigned to various bad habits, behaviors, attitudes, lifestyles and the Christian Right trains its own to know what they are and avoid them, or at least make a show of doing so, because demonstrating a public revulsion for the evil condemns it more properly than actually avoiding the evil would. In fact, public condemnation of perceived evil is the most cherished value of the Christian Right. The foundation of their theology is to stand in hopeful contrast against a backdrop of declared evil. The mission of the Christian Right is not to found hospitals or to minister to the sick or to visit the imprisoned. Again, the primary function of the Christian Right is to judge. If an activity involves the positive force of unconditional love in action, the Christian Right is nowhere to be seen. But if it involves condemning someone, carrying signs, lobbying for discriminatory laws, they’ll be first in line. This is what they do.

Medical Marijuana

On this day in 1776, Richard Henry Lee, patriot, presented to the Continental Congress the “Lee Resolution,” which was the motion to declare independence from Great Britain. I wonder what Mr. Lee, as the brains behind the 10th Amendment, would make of the latest invocation of the Interstate Commerce Clause.


Of the decision, Justice Stevens said there are other legal options for patients, "but perhaps even more important than these legal avenues is the democratic process, in which the voices of voters allied with these respondents may one day be heard in the halls of Congress."

As a pretty consistent liberal, I don’t have any ideological issues with this ruling in terms of its favoring national over local laws. Even so, to invoke “interstate commerce” to regulate private cultivation, possession and use of a substance seems a little bit of a stretch. I’m mainly a pragmatist on the subject of states' rights. I’m for national healthcare, if only because it doesn’t make much sense to have 50 mini-healthcares. For the most part, states' rights have been invoked when the state in question is doing something particularly revolting. But, seeing as our country is so large and people’s needs are somewhat different depending on where they live, I don’t think that the rights of the states to pass laws that make sense for their citizens should be abridged on mere principle. After all, the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution does in fact exist.

What practical purpose does this decision serve other than to reinforce the feel-good (how ironic) pronouncement that “drugs are bad?” If the justices, acting as though their hands were tied, ruled the way they did because existing national laws against marijuana possession trumped the local ones, it’s not exactly like they couldn’t have just ruled the other way, saying that the national prohibition was unconstitutional. But perhaps they weren’t ready for such a sweeping decision a la Roe v. Wade? Perhaps wherefore Justice Stevens' curious call to legislative action.

Still, I wonder what Justice Stevens thinks happened in Alaska, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, and California? What about the halls of their Congresses? Did the medical marijuana legislation fall from the sky?

P.S. I'll make a confession here. I don't know what the hell I'm talking about. But, in any case, this seems like one of those times when allegiance to a certain ideology may have got the better of common sense.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Randy and Ellie

Greetings to visitors coming from! Congratulations once again to my sister, Eleanor, and her fiancé, Randy. Great website, guys. It’ll be a lot of fun keeping up with all the details as you plan your wedding. Best of luck!

Quick quiz:

Which is worse: doing something shameful or capturing said shameful thing on film?

When incriminating footage is released, which makes more sense: wishing that said footage was never released or wishing that said shameful action was never committed?

Which is the right thing to do: to stop the injustice or to stop the publication of the evidence?

Which is the easier thing to do?

Which is the American thing to do?

Oh, You of little faith

If and/or when America is ever involved in perpetrating injustice, how is it unpatriotic, undesirable, or even inappropriate to wish/hope/demand that our great country, founded on the principles of liberty and equality, cease and desist immediately and take the high road? Someone explain this to me. Yes we can defeat Islamist extremism without resorting to injustice. If you think America is incapable of doing that, perhaps you really do hate America. Or, at the very least, you give it very little credit.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

This from Andrew Sullivan:

Absolutely. That's why a belief in neutral government is deeply linked to the idea of limited government - far more limited than the statist free-for-all that we have today. And that's why George Bush has been so damaging to the principles of limited, neutral government. He has both massively expanded government's reach and size, while making it far less value-neutral. He has deployed the old methods of the big government left for a religious agenda. His assault on classical conservatism is therefore perhaps more profound than those of the left - because he has also given it the imprimatur of conservatism.

Sometimes I think that Andrew is the only conservative who's intellectually honest enough to admit that Bush is about as far from traditional conservatism as Lenin. OK, not that far. But almost.

Entertainer Vs. Entertainer

Many conservative pundits are accustomed to belittling the contributions of actors, musicians, et al., to the public political discourse, particularly those contributing to the left side. "The Hollywood types should stick to subjects they know," they say. Fair enough, I suppose. If someone is particularly unqualified to speak on a topic, why should they get to use their high profile to foist their uninformed opinions on the rest of us. Setting aside for a moment that one could say much the same thing about the sitting president, I can see at least a marginal sum of logic in this line of reasoning. OK, if it's time for the amateurs to clear the floor, you’ll get no argument from me (although I would probably be one of those asked to leave). But here’s my question, in what meaningful way do the pundits, especially in today’s TV-centered media, differ from the entertainers they deride? What qualifications does Sean Hannity have that, say, Sean Penn lacks? What credentials does Rush Limbaugh have that are beyond the reach of someone like Tom Hanks? Elton John? Janeane Garofalo? Didn’t Natalie Portman go to Harvard? Isn’t Harvard a good school? I’m not sure what classes she took but it’s certainly possible that she once took a class in political science. Let’s say she did. So now Sean gets to flap his trap on Fox News and Natalie does her best to say Padme’s lines with a straight face. Now who’s more qualified to talk politics? Regardless of the answer to that question, something tells me if Natalie said that we should get out of Iraq (and she could be a Goldwater Republican for all I know), Sean would dismiss her comment as typical hysterical Hollywood blather. I’m not saying that criticism of the more ridiculous statements made by Hollywood types is unfounded. Hollywood types DO say stupid things. Quite often, in fact. My only point is that many of the pundits dismissing the Hollywood types as “mere entertainers,” ARE MERE ENTERTAINERS THEMSELVES!!! Entertainers criticizing entertainers for being entertainers makes about as much sense as a horsefly complaining that his dinner tastes like horseshit.

This blog is based on a true story.