Sunday, December 09, 2007

Rudy on MTP

Giuliani just told Tim Russert that he's opposed to mandating a 35 mpg standard for automobiles by 2020 because congress should concentrate on nuclear and hydroelectric power instead.

Huh?

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Mike Huckabee - nauseating liar

In 1992, Mike Huckabee was running for the Republican US Senate seat from Arkansas when he said AIDS patients should be quarantined. Fast forward 15 years and Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee is running for his party's nomination for President. And he has some splainin' to do:
Before a disease can be cured and contained we need to know exactly how and with near certainty what level of contact transmits the disease. There was still too much confusion about HIV transmission in those early years. Recall that in 1991, Kimberly Bergalis testified in front of Congress after contracting HIV from her dentist, and that summer a study was published showing that HIV was transmitted through breastmilk more easily than had been thought. But the federal government provided some guidelines: Also in 1991 the Centers for Disease Control recommended restrictions on the practice of HIV-positive health care workers.
Huckabee is lying. HIV's transmission routes and epidemiology were fairly well understood by 1985. Reagan's Surgeon General C. Everett Koop took the lead in educating the public about the nature of the disease at least four years before Huckabee misled Arkansas voters.

It is asinine for Huckabee to claim he was advocating the "same public health protocols" as used for other diseases. Somebody should ask Huckabee to name a single disease where public health policy calls for quarantining victims. By 1992, it was well known that quarantines would have done little to stem the AIDS epidemic, since a person can carry the virus for years without showing symptoms.

But Huckabee wasn't concerned about public health policy in 1992 - he just wanted to appeal to his base's prejudice against people living with HIV/AIDS and those at risk for it.

Anti-evolution. Pro abstinence-only sex ed. Scientific illiterate. Yep, Republicans are going to love this guy.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

The shadow candidate

Does every Massachusetts politician think he's the ghost of JFK? Is there something in the water in the Bay State? Willard Romney (and stop calling him Mitt, everyone) spoke directly to undecided Iowa Republicans today to put them at ease about his Mormon faith. Unfortunately for Willard, the rest of the country was watching when he said this:
We separate church and state affairs in this country, and for good reason. No religion should dictate to the state nor should the state interfere with the free practice of religion. But in recent years, the notion of the separation of church and state has been taken by some well beyond its original meaning. They seek to remove from the public domain any acknowledgment of God. Religion is seen as merely a private affair with no place in public life. It's as if they are intent on establishing a new religion in America - the religion of secularism. They are wrong.
What utter hogwash. Willard Romney is selling two contradictory ideas in the same paragraph. First, that government should not interfere with religion, and vice versa. Then, in the next breath, that government should not be afraid to embrace religion.


Because that's what behind his sweeping generality about those who "seek to remove from the public domain any acknowledgment of God." What the hell is Willard talking about? The public airwaves are filled to the brim with God talk. Church groups are free to congregate on public lands for worship, baptism, or creation science scavenger hunts. Our coins bear the words "In God We Trust", despite apocryphal emails to the contrary. But the greatest testimony to Willard's mandacity is when our public domain news media give Romney a free pass out of respect for his religious faith. No lie is big enough that the media won't scurry for cover when uttered in the shadow of the cross.

John F. Kennedy famously spoke to an assembly of Texan religious leaders during the 1960 Presidential campaign, and it was JFK's memory that Willard Romney hoped to evoke in Thursday's speech, also in Texas. But when Kennedy spoke, he made it clear there were bigger issues at play than a candidate's choice of religious faith. Romney claims just the opposite, that a candidate's faith is important, but not which religion he belongs to. You can watch JFK's speech here:

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Bangkok market



Bangkok's official population is 6 million, but many experts think it could be three times that. Space, obviously, is at a premium.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

First Lego League




I had a great time last Sunday helping to judge the First Lego League competition at Mukwonago High School.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Laura Bush greets "Beekeeper of the Year"



Celebrating 200 years of American apiculture.

Monday, October 22, 2007

We do not torture

On Sept. 11, 2001, an Egyptian national named Abdallah Higazy was staying in a New York City hotel room when the planes hit. Higazy and other guests quickly evacuated the building, and a short time later hotel workers found a device in Higazy's room that enables a person to communicate with airline pilots.

Authorities suspected Higazy was involved in the 9/11 plot and arrested him. So far, so good.

But the FBI got a little crazy and threatened Higazy's family with extradition to an Egyptian torture chamber if he didn't confess. Higazy at first denied any knowledge of the strange device, but he couldn't hold out for long. He finally confessed, thus sparing his wife and children. A despondent, shocked Higazy headed for the bowels of the New York City justice system.

Meanwhile, an airline pilot showed up at Higazy's hotel and asked if anyone had seen the radio that he accidentally left in the hotel room closet.

So the courts free Higazy (Hey guy, sorry about that. No hard feelings, right?), and Higazy lawyers up and sue the hotel and the fascist prick FBI agent that threatened his wife and kids.

Now the story gets real interesting. Steve Bergstein, a legal blogger at Psychsound, was checking federal court decisions one day not long ago and came across a 44-page document on the Higazy case. Then he posted the story on his blog as he ate lunch, cause that's what blogging lawyers do. Then, well, I'll let Steve tell the story:

Then something strange happened: a few minutes after I posted the blog, the opinion vanished from the Court of Appeals website! I had never seen this before, and what made all the more strange was that it involved a coerced confession over 9/11. What the hell was going on?

I let some other legal bloggers know about this, particularly the How Appealing blog and Appellate Law and Practice. They both ran a commentary on the missing opinion. Then someone sent How Appealing a PDF of the decision (probably very few of them were floating around since the opinion was posted for a brief period of time) and How Appealing posted the decision.

Then things got even stranger. The Court of Appeals actually phoned How Appealing to request that he remove the opinion from his website since it contained classified information. The Court said that a revised opinion would come out the next day without the classified information. How Appealing actually refused to remove the opinion. Through it all, hundreds of people came to my legal blog to see my summary of the opinion. It was either my blog or printing out and reading a 44 page epic.

The next day, the Court of Appeals reissued the Higazy opinion. With a redaction. The court simply omitted from the revised decision facts about how the FBI agent extracted the false confession from Higazy. For some reason, this information is classified. Just as the opinion gets interesting, when we are about to learn how an FBI agent named Templeton squeezed the "truth" out of Higazy, the opinion reads at page 7: "This opinion has been redacted because portions of the record are under seal. For the purposes of the summary judgment motion, Templeton did not contest that Higazy's statements were coerced."
Fortunately, the US Court of Appeals for Manhattan ruled for Higazy, so his suit can proceed.

More global warming denialist comments

Because some people were put on Earth for my amusement:
The sun is hotter now, the earth has warmed because of increased solar activity. That seems so simple to me, why would anyone believe that a naturaly accuring gas like CO2 could raise the earths temp?
Because some borderline retarded, self serving, pompous, hipocrit tells you it does?
Global warming is real, we cannot stop it, we need to stop wasting resorces on prevention and start working towards a nation that thrives in the warmer climate.
Such as investing in Florida waterfront property, currently located in Georgia.
Gore was very pissed after 2000 elections and he wanted to fight those that beat him. Bush being an oil man made Gore choose Global Warming as his platform.If Gore had won that election all this Global Warming fear would not have been an issue. That is as political as it gets Gore!
Don't leave out the Decline and Fall of the American Empire fear. Or the Arrest and Detention Without a Warrant Fear.
It is politically motivated and has already cost Americans billions of dollars.Power companies have had to retro-fit power plants to remove emissions that volcanos around the world spit out at a rates higher than all plants combined. Just one example of how it is political.
Volcanoes are Republicans?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

What can brown do for you?

How does a non-white candidate for office overcome racism to become governor of the poorest, least-educated state in the union? By acting more ignorant than his constituents!

Bobby Jindal, the son of Indian immigrants, was elected governor of Louisiana yesterday. Jindal, 36, is Oxford educated, yet supports teaching intelligent design as an alternative to evolution, and banning all abortions. No word on whether he plans to marry his first cousin, too.

Lousiana hasn't elected a non-white governor in over 100 years, but this time things are different:
Yet Mr. Jindal, with his decisive victory on Saturday, appears to have overcome a significant racial hurdle that blocked him in 2003, according to analysts: race-based opposition in the deeply conservative northern and eastern parishes of Louisiana that once supported the Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke.

A born-again Roman Catholic, Mr. Jindal made a particular campaign target of these areas, visiting them frequently and bringing his brand of devout Christianity to their rural churches. His social-conservative message — teaching “intelligent design” as an alternative to evolution in public schools, a total ban on abortion, repealing hate-crimes laws — would have been welcome in these areas.
Also welcome in "these areas" - non-uppity minorities. Mr. Jindal will fit in perfectly.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Meet Trent Wisecup



This is what panic looks like.

Trent Wisecup, the chief of staff to Rep. Joe Knollenberg (R-Bush's BFF), runs interference for his boss when a constituent starts asking questions. Apparently Wisecup's idea of constituent service is to channel Sean Hannity on a bad day. A sample of Wisecup's witty remarks:

"You're pro-Toyota and you live in Detroit."
"You're blinded by your hatred of this country."
"You're a political activited with a poilitical agenda."
"Go away. We don't want you here."

This really is how they think.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Congratulations Mr. Gore

A Nobel Peace Prize for Al Gore is small consolation for a stolen election, but I'll settle for that, plus the sound of Rush Limbaugh's head exploding.

Man's contribution to global warming is as close to scientific certainty as it's going to get. Only fools and scientific illiterates disagree. And here's what they're saying:
After looking through the comments it seems everyone has rightly realized that Gore's arguments are see-through.

i believe the same tactics are used in arguing for evolution. all this crap about scientific consensus and how all other people who disagree are flat earth people. its just plain brainwashing.
I blame Galileo. Stupid empiricism.
answer this question ... you have an Olympic sized swimming pool (50m x 25m x 2m) filled with the current atmosphere. 2,500,000 liters worth. How many of these liters are man-made greenhouse gases? (CO2, CH4, N2O, CFCm CCl4, CH3CCl3, CHF3, etc.)
Does this mean we'll have to wear Speedos and shower before we go outside?
I've studied the problem and done the math. The amount of green house gases in the atmosphere are man-made is less than 0.002% of the total. That's a tiny tiny amount, yet, we've been led to believe this amount is some how the tipping factor to global warming. What a crock. The problem is that these lies have been promoted as the truth, and the real truth is some kind of oil industry smear campaign. That IS the problem.
And I'll be presenting my data at the Cletus County Adult Education Science Fair tomorrow night.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Clifford May: liar and coward

That's right, Mr. May. Deal with it.
Can someone tell me what controversial procedures have been used at Guantanamo Bay? As far as I'm aware there is not a shred of hard evidence — and certainly no proof — that torture or even enhanced interrogation methods have been employed there.

Hey, we all make mistakes. But only creepy little fascists like Clifford May make mistakes and then stick by their words. He has a President to protect.

This is what I don't get about the neo-con right. They had this vision for how to project American power in a way that assured "an American century". I was OK with that, on a very abstract level. I mean I'd rather live the rest of my life in an American century than a Chinese century or a Brazilian century. And American values of free-speech and respect for human rights have had a pretty good run for the last 100 years or so.

But the neo-con vision didn't work out quite the way May and the other pukes planned it, and thinking people have tossed their fetid ideology in the compost bin of history, where it will slowly decompose with the dessicated orange rinds of communism and the stale coffee grounds of fascism. But still the neo-cons fight on with one ridiculous lie after another. We do not torture! The terrorists will follow us home!

It's not reasonable to expect corrupt wantwits like Clifford May to correct themselves, to admit what everybody already knows. They are not about accountability, or self respect, or contributing to the marketplace of ideas. For Clifford May and the rest, it's about saving their hides, the one thing about America least worth saving.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Taps for Larry Craig

A Minnesota judge today ruled that Sen. Larry Craig's (R-Closet) guilty plea to disorderly conduct was "accurate, voluntary and intelligent" and "the conviction is supported by the evidence."

It may be a while before Craig is called intelligent again. Senate Republicans are pledging their own ethics investigation into Senator Wide Stance, because (a) they want him out of their party and (b) a GOP show trial will divert the public's attention from Republican scandals involving the US Attorney firings, mercenaries running AMOK with no accountability, the administration's war crimes involving torture of prisoners, and several others I won't add because this sentence is already too long.

The case may seem open and shut, much like a bathroom stall door, but the ACLU has lined up behind Craig, figuratively anyway. Craig pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct, a charge which has been used for decades against gays and other minorities to quell dissent and quash otherwise harmless behavior.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Limbaugh clarifies

His "phony soldier" comment was only directed at people who pretend to be soldiers, but never were. To clarify his point further, Limbaugh explained that Rep. Jack Murtha, a decorated Vietnam combat vet, is an example of a phony soldier.


Got that?

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Weak-end warrior

Where's the outrage? Where's the House and Senate Censure resolutions?

Rush Limbaugh says the US military is riddled with "phony soldiers":
During the September 26 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, Rush Limbaugh called service members who advocate U.S. withdrawal from Iraq “phony soldiers.” He made the comment while discussing with a caller a conversation he had with a previous caller, “Mike from Chicago,” who said he “used to be military,” and “believe[s] that we should pull out of Iraq.” Limbaugh told the second caller, whom he identified as “Mike, this one from Olympia, Washington,” that “[t]here’s a lot” that people who favor U.S. withdrawal “don’t understand” and that when asked why the United States should pull out, their only answer is, ” ‘Well, we just gotta bring the troops home.’ … ‘Save the — keeps the troops safe’ or whatever,” adding, “[I]t’s not possible, intellectually, to follow these people.” “Mike” from Olympia replied, “No, it’s not, and what’s really funny is, they never talk to real soldiers. They like to pull these soldiers that come up out of the blue and talk to the media.” Limbaugh interjected, “The phony soldiers.” The caller, who had earlier said, “I am a serving American military, in the Army,” agreed, replying, “The phony soldiers.”
Limbaugh speaks with authority on the subject of phone soldiers. He avoided the Vietnam draft by claiming a pilonidal cyst.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Eat cheese or die!

I just want to give a shout out to both of my state's US Senators. Russ Feingold (D-Freakin' Awesome) and Herb Kohl (D-Better than McCain) have thrown their support to the Habeus Corpus Restoration Act. But alas, only 52 senators are on record for this important bill. We need eight more patriots to override President Bush's expected veto.

Habeus corpus guarantees that the government can't throw us in jail without letting us know the charges. Totalitarian dictators, police states, and the Republican Party have no use for habeus.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Bring our troop home

Among President Bush's many head scratching-moments during his Thursday night address to the nation was when he thanked the 36 nations that support the American mission in Iraq. That numbers falls to 35 after October 1 when Iceland pulls its man out of Baghdad. That's right - one guy:
Foreign Minister Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir has decided to remove an Icelandic Crisis Response Unit (ICRU) member from a NATO training program for the Iraqi army in Baghdad next month, causing disappointment among NATO leaders.

The ICRU member has been working in Baghdad for the last two years, primarily as a media representative, and will cease working there October 1, Morgunbladid reports.

John Craddock, the Supreme Allied Commander Europe for NATO and the US European Command, said at a press conference in Iceland yesterday that Iceland is an important and active NATO member and that he was disappointed with Gísladóttir’s decision.

But Craddock added that he understands that NATO member nations have to make decisions according to their best interests and “estimate what they can do and what they cannot do, what they want to do and what they don’t.”
Can you imagine a country with a leader that makes decisions based on "what they can do and what they cannot do, what they want to do and what they don’t?"

We are all Icelanders now.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

GOP to America: "We own 9/11, dammit!"

I was going to write about Ann Coulter and Rudy Giuliani appearing together at a 9/11 commemoration tonight, and what a God-awful idea that was. But then I had second thoughts. It seemed hypocritical for me to attack these two 9/11 fetishists for not remembering the day properly, while I'm venting just as much rage right back at them. President Bush and his Republican attack poodles have been milking that tragedy for six years now, and it's brought us to a point where the GOP has the country convinced it owns 9/11.

I was going to write about Ann Coulter and Rudy Giuliani, but then I read this from Milwaukee blogger Illusory Tenant:
Every once in awhile we need to be reminded that there are thoughtful and even scholarly conservative Republicans, as opposed to the contingent of moronic dipshits that populates the blogosphere and wake up every morning to go and see what Michelle Malkin commands them to be outraged about today.

Despite George Bush's best efforts to make us forget, Americans of every political stripe walk among us who can put 9/11 in its proper perspective. They know that liberals don't want to offer counseling to al Qaeda terrorists; that dissent is patriotic; and that democracies prevail because of, not despite, the rule of law. They know outrage, a natural consequence of the 9/11 attacks, becomes toxic when used to rally the base instead of the country.

Of course you won't hear these words on "conservative" talk radio, or read them on Powerline, except as a punchline to a joke. Only conservatives can make up jokes about 9/11, and Coulter and Giuliani will be knocking 'em dead tonight.

Conspiracy theories

People who think 9/11 was an inside job seriously need to have their heads examined. They cherry pick evidence that supports their asinine suspicions and ignore the mountain of data that goes against them. Debating these loons is like playing Wack-a-Mole - as soon as you knock one dubious claim on the head with the hammer of evidence, another claim pops up.

That said, if it weren't for 9/11 conspiracy nuts we wouldn't have 11 Settembre, a fascinating blog by an Italian skeptic with impressive technological skills. Enjoy.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Iraqi doctors surge to border

Maybe Brit Hume will ask White House Surge Spokesman David "On Board" Petraeus about this during their one hour Fox News love fest:
According to the Iraqi Medical Association (IMA), the shortage of doctors and nurses in Iraq is now critical and having a devastating effect, especially on small towns and villages.

“Our latest research shows that up to 75 percent of doctors, pharmacists and nurses have left their jobs at universities, clinics and hospitals,” Walid Rafi, a senior member of the IMA, told IRIN. Of these, at least 55 percent have fled abroad, he added.

According to Rafi, low salaries and the shortage of equipment and medicines, are other push factors. “Medical staff earn US$50-300 per month. They might persevere for a while but if the opportunity arises, they don’t think twice and leave the country,” Rafi said.
Here's another question that won't be asked: Why are Iraqis fleeing their country for the safety of neighboring military dictatorship Syria, if Iraq is so much better off without Saddam? What about all those purple thumbs - are they pointing up, or pointing down, when it comes to the surge?

Thursday, September 06, 2007

GOP meltdown

Ordinarily, you have to read the comments at Redstate.com or Powerline to see how truly inane the Republican base has become these days. But last night the GOP Presidential debates did just as well.

Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Thumb Screws) actually said "I would do waterboarding - I don't believe that that is 'quote' torture." Admittedly, Tancredo's bloodlust is toned down from what one finds at Redstate, where sunshine patriots not only endorse waterboarding terror suspects, but for the cashier at the all night convenience store down the street as well who may or may not be Muslim. But I still find Tancredo's comment astonishing given that the entire civilized world recognizes waterboarding as torture.

The GOP debate is also a rich source of found humor. Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-Who?), got into an interesting back and forth with Rep. Ron Paul (R-Can't Win) over Iraq. Paul, the only anti-war candidate in the GOP field, said the war was destroying the Party of Lincoln. Huckabee countered that the US was committed to Iraq, and said "Even if we lose elections we should not lose the honor of the Republican Party." One indication of the GOP's deep state of denial over the last seven years is that no one on the stage, or the entire audience, laughed.

Gov. Mitt Romney, with an inadvertent nod to empiricism, said the surge is "apparently" working. Big mistake. Sen. John McCain (R-Bankrupt) pounced:
"The surge is working. Not apparently working. It is working. It's working because we have a great general, we have a good strategy, in Anbar Province things have improved. The Malaki government is not doing the things we want it to do. The police are not functioning the way we want them to do. But we are succeeding. And the great debate is not whether it's apparently working or not. The great debate will take place on the floor of the United State Senate in the middle of this month, and it's going to be whether we set a date for withdrawal which will be a date for surrender, or whether we will let this surge continue and succeed and I can assure you it's more than apparent. It is working."
I feel better already.

UPDATE

Sean Hannity lied to Fox viewers about Dr. Ron Paul's showing in the network's post debate poll. Fox invited viewers to text message their vote for favorite candidate, and Paul outpolled the competition with 33%. The next favorite candidate was Gov.Mike Huckabee with less than 17%.

But Hannity cautioned Fox viewers, with no evidence, that Paul's numbers were due to overzealous supporters text messaging multiple votes for their candidate. That was a lie - Fox only allowed one vote per text messaging cell phone.

Evildoer-fighting progress report

A Congressional Research Office report has concluded that Iraq's government is on the verge of collapse, and the report's author concludes there are no real prospects for political reconciliation.

The report, which was commissioned by the House and Senate, questions the troop surge and further casts doubt on President Bush's claim of military progress.

Meanwhile the President, with support from Senate and House Republicans, continue to bamboozle the American people and their media with made up statistics and rosy scenarios.

In other news, the real criminal, Sen. Larry Craig (R-Wide Stance), is fighting a misdemeanor charge arising from soliciting sex in the one place where soliciting sex is illegal.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Freedom marching news

Via Newsweek:
The militia's sectarian-cleansing campaign is far too lucrative to be given up easily. When Sunni homeowners flee, say U.S. soldiers, their furniture is often locked up and their houses listed at local Sadr offices. Shiite families—many of them displaced earlier from Sunni neighborhoods—can peruse the listings, sometimes even photos of the property. For around 110,000 Iraqi dinars (about $88) per month, they can rent a furnished home and receive deliveries of cooking oil from the Mahdi Army. The militiamen earn even more money by controlling the gas stations in various neighborhoods, and by carjacking the nicest vehicles—usually, but not always, driven by Sunnis—at the checkpoints they set up.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Stall tactics

Sen. Larry Craig's stated intent to fight his guilty plea to disorderly conduct stemming from an airport restroom sex sting could cause Democrats more problems than l'affaire Craig has already caused the GOP.

Much has been written about Republican hypocrisy in this case - that Craig, an apparently gay man, had been making life miserable for gays for most of his legislative career. But few are talking about the facts of Craig's arrest and asking the simple question "What did Craig do wrong?" Esquivalience asks the right questions:
Ok, he placed his bag against the stall door, which is, apparently, something "those intending to commit lewd acts" do. Also those who don't want to leave their bag by the sink, and have it stolen or detonated. It's a cubicle. He's supposed to maybe balance the bag on his head?

By the cop's own admission, he (the cop) "pumped his foot slowly up and down in response." In other words, Craig asked for sex using an arcane code extremely unlikely to "alarm, anger, or disturb" -- according to the the equally arcane code defining disorderly conduct in Minnesota -- an uninitiated fellow-lavator, and the cop knew what it meant and said yes.

Where's the victim?
Of course the Republican law and order crowd doesn't want to ask these questions. Craig plead guilty to disorderly conduct, which is the legal system's equivalent of Put Them in Jail Free card. The DC charge has been used for decades to harass and arrest gay people, the criminal code equivalent of fire hoses and police dogs. And for decades society has looked the other way when it's applied to men cruising for icky restroom sex.

Until now. Craig's high profile arrest, and his publicly-stated intent to fight his guilty plea, promises to keep icky restroom sex in the headlines for months to come, possibly through the 2008 elections. That's where things could get interesting.

Though I don't expect to see Craig marching in San Francisco anytime soon, the former Idaho senator and homophobe is positioned to become a champion for gay rights by virtue of hiring a legal team to take on an allegedly discriminatory application of the law. I can't pretend to know how serious Craig is about clearing his name. It would be easier if he just came out - it's not like anyone believes he isn't gay.

But should he fight the charge (and not being a laywer, I'm not sure what he can do to change a guilty plea), he will unwittingly become the poster boy for the civil rights of men who choose to have icky restroom sex. That could become a huge problem for the Democrats next year.

It's easy for Republicans distance themselves from Senator Wide Stance. There's no political cost since most Republicans are comfortable with their gay bashing party. And so far Democrats have had the luxury of sitting back and enjoying the spectable of the GOP throwing one of its own under the proverbial bus.

But that dynamic will change on Sept. 30, the day Craig officially vacates his Senate seat, and slouches back to Boise, an outed, gay, 62-year-old man in denial. At that point the GOP spin machine will make sure he becomes the Democratic Party's problem. And the spin might get enough traction to help Republicans next year.

The secret is to position icky restroom sex one foot tap away from gay marriage, no big deal for the GOP spin machine and its media echo chamber. With Craig's pathetic legal challenge slowly winding its way through the courts, Fox News, Rush and the rest will have plenty of ammo.

That will leave the Democrats with little choice but to distance themselves from Craig's own fight for justice, which will leave them open to charges of hypocricy and cause problems with their own base.

Of course none of this will happen if Craig admitted what everyone already knows, that's he's a gay man trapped in misery by icky red state politics as well as by his own denial. And by his curious loyalty to a party that pitched him overboard for no good reason.

Larry Craig joke

What is the difference between a barnstorming pilot and Larry Craig?

A barnstorming pilot pulls out of a stall, and Craig pulls out in a stall.


Heraldblog: contributing to public understanding of important social issues since 2003.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Male bathroom etiquette



Too late for Sen. Craig, but the rest of us can be saved.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Gonzo gone

It's official - the Bush White House is in total meltdown. Let's summarize just some of the crises that have paralyzed the worst President since Warren G. Harding.

The new AG will have to be vetted by a Democratic congress, and one of the many questions put to him/her will be "Will you cooperate with our investigation of the USA firing scandal, and if not, why not?" It's a loaded question that comes down to the nominees views of executive privilege, separation of powers, and above all else, personal integrity. Bush will have little choice but to either let an underling function as interim AG for the next 16 months (if there's anyone left), or appoint a rat.

The September 11 troop surge report is sure to bring additional GOP defections, and shave a few more points off Bush's Nixonesque approval ratings. The President who swears we will stay the course will be forced by his own party to relent to troop drawdowns by Christmas.

And then there's this.

Grab the popcorn. It couldn't happen to a nicer guy.

Update: Josh said Gonzales quit so he can spend more time with his defense lawyer. Let the snark begin!

Friday, August 24, 2007

A very small man in a very big country

Josh says President Bush's interests in Iraq are not the same as the people he purports to lead. Rather than act in the best interest of the United States, Bush is acting to shore up his legacy as President. It's a chilling thought when put in the context of lives lost, and damage to national prestige:
And here I think we get back to the root of the matter: We are bigger than Iraq.

By that I do not mean we, as America, are bigger or better than Iraq as a country. I mean that that sum of our national existence is not bound up in what happens there. The country will go on. Whatever happens, we'll recover from it. And whatever might happen, there are things that matter much more to this country's future -- like whether we have a functioning military any more, whether our economy is wrecked, whether this country tears itself apart over this catastrophe. But we'll go on and look back at this and judge what happened.

Not so for the president. For him, this is it. He's not bigger than this. His entire legacy as president is bound up in Iraq. Which is another way of saying that his legacy is pretty clearly an irrecoverable shambles. That is why, as the folly of the enterprise becomes more clear, he must continually puff it up into more and more melodramatic and world-historical dimensions. A century long ideological struggle and the like. For the president a one in a thousand shot at some better outcome is well worth it, no matter what the cost. Because at least that's a one in a thousand shot at not ending his presidency with the crushing verdict history now has in store. It's also worth just letting things keep on going as they are forever because, like Micawber, something better might turn up. Going double or nothing by expanding the war into Iran might be worth it too for the same reason. For him, how can it get worse?

And when you boil all this down what it comes down to is that the president now has very different interests than the country he purports to lead.
His speech other day in front of the VFW was hard to watch. Every time the President steps up to a mic, it reminds me of a perp sitting down for a chat with Lenny Brisco on the old Law and Order series. First comes the denial (I don't know nuthin' bout no gun!), then then anger (I got nuthin' to say to you pricks.) Then the bargaining (OK. OK. Let's say I did have a gun. Maybe it's not the same gun.) Finally, the perp sinks into depression and despair, buries his ruddy face in his greasy little hands, and lawyers up.

Bush jumbled syntax gives the appearance of a perp bouncing from one stage of grief to another, like a human version of pong. He clings deperately to his denial, but easily slips into anger at those who oppose him. His less-than-lame Vietman analogy was an effort to bargain his way out of the hole he's dug for his Presidency. All the while, his depression envelopes him like the cloud of dirt that follows Pig Pen in that old comic strip, Peanuts.

Only acceptance can now save George W. Bush's soul, and ours. Let us close with a prayer:

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

They like me! Imaginary people really like me!

President Bush likes to say that since he will be vindicated by history, it doesn't matter what his critics say today. So what looks like a failed war effort and wasted treasure this year will smell like victory in an unspecified number of years. Of course you can say that about anything. In the year 2108, historians might look favorably upon Jimmy Carter, or the Boy Band era of the 90s. We just don't know, but more importantly, it just doesn't matter.

So why is Bush so quick to condemn America's withdrawal from Vietnam? It's been 30 years since the last US troops left that battered and bloody land, and Vietman has normal diplomatic ties with the US, and an emerging capitalist economy. The Vietnamese are not invading their neighbors. No dominoes fell.


Looking for vindication by people not yet conceived, in the context of a world not conceivable, is a coward's way of ducking accountability. Shame on the former governor of Texas. Shame on us for staying silent.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Am I missing something?

Is it too cynical to suggest the White House has ulterior motives because it chose Harry Connick, Jr.'s 40th birthday to release General Petraeus' "progress" report? I mean not everybody knows the New Orleans native was born on Sept. 11, 1967, but they will now! And that's supposed to divert America's attention from what is most likely another well spun version of the truth? Ha! Or as Harry might say:
I forget what happens on the Fourth of July
Or when the rent is due
Dates and deadlines just float by
But I always remember you

h/t to Harry Connick fan Blue Gal

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Give it a rest, Gibby

Fox News Comb-Over Model John Gibson is making it very clear that he doesn't like John Stewart. What he's not so clear on is why he doesn't like the popular host of The Daily Show.

Gibson's hissy fit started last week when he made fun of Stewart for expressing grief in the wake of 9/11. You see, Republicans own 9/11, and anybody who steps out of line is immediately stripped of their patriotism, sincerity, and ability to be taken seriously. Stewart and other critics of President Bush are not allowed to grieve 9/11 without being mocked by Gibson and other barking media loons.

Stewart's response was brief and to the point: "Some idiot from Fox was "playing the tape of me after September 11th and calling me a phony because, apparently, my grief didn't mean acquiescence."

Gibson thinks this is unfair because
"He's a -- he's a comedian doing the news. He should expect some shots once in a while. I want to know, where is the Jon Stewart that was so grief-stricken, and why does he think what I think are reasonable measures to fight the war on terror like wiretapping, like going after Iraq, like Guantánamo Bay -- I think those are reasonable measures."
Let me break it down for you Gibby:

Wiretapping.
FISA, as currently proposed by the Bush administration, violates the fourth amendment of the constitution. A simple fix is for the federal government to seek warrants for wiretaps on American citizens. Those warrants can be sought retroactively. But that's not reasonable enough for you, Mr. Gibson. You think it's reasonable to trash the fourth amendment, and give serial perjurer Alberto Gonzales authority to spy on any American, any time, for any reason, with zero accountability. Go ahead and say it Mr. Gibson.

Iraq: 3,800 dead Americans. A half million dead Iraqis. One trillion dollars. Four years of war and no end in sight. It takes one fevered imagination to claim that Bush's management of the Iraq War is a reasonable measure to fight terrorism.

Gitmo: The FBI's own study concluded that there is no credible evidence to suspect that the majority of Guantanamo detainees are involved in terrorism. How is that reasonable, and what does it have to do with convincing a billion Muslims there is an advantage to siding with the US?

John Gibson started a feud for no good reason, then screamed foul when Stewart hit back. How pathetic. Gibson should be careful about attacking comedians, because he is one himself. But Stewart has the honesty to call himself a comic. Gibson wouldn't know honest if it squirted him in the face with a bottle of seltzer.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Foul play at the Peacock Network

I will confess to watching Datelines's To Catch a Predator from time to time. Chris Hansen's smarmy self righteousness is a perfect compliment to the lowlifes and sexual miscreants he snags. It's a guilty pleasure which I am drawn to as the Hansen's victims are drawn to the jailbait decoy. Fortunately, there is no law against trash TV. But I'll never see NBC's schtick the same after reading Luke Dittrich's piece in this month'sEsquire Magazine about a Dateline bust that went very, very wrong.

NBC is being sued by the sister of a man who committed suicide after he was caught in a Predator sting operation. The victim, a career Texas prosecutor named Bill Conradt, shot himself after he saw Hansen and the Dateline crew on his property, and just as a SWAT team was closing in. This is going to be very embarrassing for NBC, as the facts of the case come to light.

It's a long article, but exceptionally well written and worth it.

Sexual predator and Fox blowhard Bill O'Reilly, who hates NBC, is oozing schadenfreude over the case, but he's not smart enough to understand this is about legal due process and vigilatism disguised as entertainment. O'Reilly and his mad dogs at Fox think due process is for suckers, while the vigilante mindset is a fuel that keeps the Fox News engine running.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Deep in the heart of Texas

That didn't take long. Don McLeroy, the recently appointed chairman of the Texas Board of Education, went on a anti-evolution jihad the other day, telling church goers to lie about the theological underpinnings of "intelligent design":
Following a long spiel about biblical truth, McLeroy told the audience to ignore intelligent design’s religious foundation when talking to the general public. Not to worry though, the “time to address [Biblical issues] will be after we have separated materialistic prejudice from scientific fact.”

The second step, he said, is to point out that evolution wrongly depends on “naturalism;” that supernaturalism or divine influences are unfairly excluded from the conversation. Finally, forget the scientists and target people without a firm grasp on evolutionary theory.
McLeroy was recently appointed by Texas Governor Rick Perry, who is, of course, a Republican.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Bill O' the Shill O'

Heraldblog extends a hearty note of appreciation to fascist Fox News clown Bill O'Reilly for attacking the YearlyKos convention, now underway in Chicago. Bill O' has been hyperventilating all week about the "hatred" oozing from the Daily Kos website, which is frequented by a half-million readers each day.

O'Reilly's rage couldn't come at a better time. The country has turned against the Bush Republicans, and Democrats are finally showing some discipline. Kos and other liberal sites deserve much of the credit, in the same way Limbaugh galvanzied the red meat right in the early 90s. A.J. Dionne connects the dots in todays WaPo:
O'Reilly is irate that the leading Democratic presidential candidates are showing up this weekend. "The far left
wants a quasi-socialistic economy and a one-world foreign policy, where national security decisions are made only with the approval of other countries," O'Reilly fumed. "So that's the soup the Democratic presidential candidates will be dining on when they show up at the Kos convention."

I'm not in the habit of giving advice to Bill O'Reilly, but there's always a first time: Liberal rage at Rush Limbaugh not only was useless, but it actually strengthened his credibility with the right. (I speak from experience.) Bill, I bet Markos loves what you're doing.
Keep up the good work, Falafel Man!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Brave Michelle and The Case of the Mysterious Collapse



The right's Fighting Keyboarders are crossing their manicured fingers and praying to St. George of the Dubya that the Minneapolis bridge collapse is the work of terrorists. Brave little Michelle Malkin opines:
DHS issued a statement that the collapse “does not appear to be an act of terrorism.” Isn’t it too early to say anything meaningful about what it “appears” to be? Couldn’t they maybe, I dunno, say nothing until they actually know something?
I mean, c'mon guys, we're losing valuable fear factor here! Malkin and other Bush cheerleaders could milk this disaster for three or four news cycles, reminding us all that we need to get 100% behind President Bush unless we want more traffic detours.

Bush butt boy John Hinderaker, who once called the President a genius, observes
"Bridges like these don’t collapse in the US, especially when they’re only 40 years old. It’s hard to say what could have brought it down, but hopefully the DoT will have more information.”
Yes, it's hard to say what brought it down, but it's easy to suggest that it "might" be the work of the bearded anarchists who hang out in a St. Paul mosque, speaking in strange tongues and, hey, look, what was that?!??!

If Hinderacker, Malkin, et.al. want to dwell on mysterious collapses, they could write more honestly about the Bush Administration which has been in free fall for, oh, I don't know, three years. The death toll is now up to a million people, yet the investigation is stalled by a lack of cooperation and denial.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Say five Hail Marys and vote for Obama

My brother in North Carolina sent me this link:
Last week I had the fortune/misfortune* of visiting Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado. Through a series of machinations I needn't elaborate here, I ended up "filling in" for one of two park rangers guiding a tour group to the (stunning) ruins. As such, the (real) ranger briefly introduced me and noted my day job in the Political Science department at IU.

At the conclusion of the tour, a very sunburnt gentleman with an overpowering Dixie accent (I'd soon learn that he hails from Birmingham, AL) approached me quite urgently and said "I need to know who you think is going to win the presidential election." Taken slightly aback, I gave him a thoroughly noncommittal but accurate answer: it's too early to say, but the lay of the land certainly looks unfavorable for the GOP. However, the nomination of Hillary Clinton could be a wild-card because of her high negative numbers.



Following that stock response, he began to unburden himself in what I have decided to call the Republican Unburdening of the Soul ritual. He started telling me about how he is an upper-middle class (pilot for NW Airlines, apparently) white guy from the Bible Belt who has been a Republican since he could walk, he voted for George Bush (twice), he supported the War in Iraq, etc etc. But the RUotS always ends as familiarly as it begins. After describing his lifelong committment to Republican principles, he revealed that he now despises George W. Bush and loathes the failed Iraq debacle.

I have decided to name this ritual because it is happening so damn frequently lately. Its source is quite obvious: a major, major case of the guilts coupled with the embarassment of having been misled (or having deluded oneself) so thoroughly and easily. I swear to God, today's average Republican cannot avoid telling every liberal they meet how much they hate the war and the president. They're like sinners desperately seeking absolution and willing to solicit it from strangers. Failing absolution, they'll settle for conscience balm. Both ordinary people and elected officials (note the "rats fleeing a sinking ship" Senators like Lugar suddenly condemning the war they blindly supported for 4 years) are performing the RUotS lately.

Back to this gentleman, I (gently, and as non-confrontationally as possible) joked that I can't figure out why he voted for Bush a second time if he felt this way. He replied that his faith in the party and its principles was strong enough to trust Bush with more time to achieve a favorable outcome. While this is singularly piss-poor logic, I nonetheless understood his response as a reasonable emotional one. Then he said something that floored me in several respects:

"See, you (meaning 'liberals', even though I had not offered him any political affiliation; all academics are liberals) hate George Bush because he represents everything you hate. I hate George Bush because he represents everything I believe in being completely fucked up and ruined."
The profundity of that struck me. I've not yet heard a more concise, eloquent explanation of what the non-brainwashed part of the right-leaning electorate is experiencing these days. It also struck me as incredible that this is what political discourse v2007 sounds like: two people of opposing ideologies arguing about who hates George Bush more.

Unfortunately but predictably, the conversation ended with him describing his openness to Democratic candidates in 2008....but not without the caveat of his hatred of Hillary Clinton. And therein lies the disingenuousness of the RUotS ritual and conservative hand-wringing in general. They're like fat people who are always about to start dieting and exercising "tomorrow." They go on and on about how much they hate Bush, the war, and their more extreme party compatriots...but not without conjuring up a reason to vote for them again anyway. In short, this gentleman told me that he's completely disillusioned with his party while implying "I will use HRC as an excuse to vote for them again anyway."

It's a very convenient, and cowardly, coulda-woulda-shoulda defense. "I was totally ready to jump ship, but that Hillary Clinton was just too awful so I had to vote for the guy who baited me with more tax cuts." Pardon me if, under such qualified circumstances, I decline to end such conversations with "Ego te absolvo, my son."

I don't think a national party has melted down so quickly in recent history. Even the Republican misfortunes after Watergate were not as precipitous. With Bush's approval ratings hovering at one in four voters, one would think more GOP lawmakers would be abandoning ship, or at least looking for a new way forward for the Party of Lincoln. Instead, we get GOP Presidential hopefuls who are still pandering to the same inbred crackers who brought the party to such ruin in the first place.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Pope is a primate


Study: Multiple Stab Wounds May Be Harmful To Monkeys

I have a theory: Any scenario, no matter how grim, can be made funny by inserting the word "monkey".

Limbaugh lies again

Facts are funny things:
We went into Afghanistan. It was pure fear. It wasn't diplomacy. It was the fear of God (or fear of Allah) that was put into the mind of Khadafy. Don't forget, he's already sitting there quaking in his boots because Reagan bombed his tent, after Khadafy was widely held responsible when Pan Am flight 103 went down over Lockerbie, Scotland. Reagan sent a couple of F-18 Hornets and such over there. We had to fly around the Iberian Peninsula because the French and the Spanish wouldn't give us permission to fly over, so we had to go around, up the tunnel, into the Mediterranean, handsome pilots targeting the tent, and Khadafy's daughter happened to be in there. So that's when it started. That is not diplomacy.
Lockerbie happened after Reagan bombed Khadafy. You can look it up. So can Limbaugh.

Handsome pilots? What's with Rush?

h/t Folkbum

Monday, July 30, 2007

Paul Hill Days

I caught up with Missionaries to the Preborn as they paraded south down Prospect Ave. Sixty protesters in all, nearly half of them children, followed a festive, yellow banner that proclaimed Paul Hill Days. Those at the front of the line marched, beat drums, played hymns on a ragtag assortment of wind instruments, and called out a military-sounding cadence in honor of their hero, an assassin who gunned down a doctor and his escort 13 years ago.



Half clown troupe, half street ministry, the procession was largely ignored by passers by. A young man from the local technical college followed with a small videocam. At one point, a man getting into a parked car shouted "Children shouldn't have to see those pictures." He was holding two young boys as they stared up at a poster of an aborted fetus. "Maybe we need to see more of these pictures," a protester yelled back.

The troupe reached the large, orange Sunrise sculpture at the point where Wisconsin Ave. meets the lakefront. They marched around the sculpture, then stopped, forming a ragtag semi-circle. Their apparent leader, a bearded, mountain-man type named Drew Heiss, led the group in song and prayer. "There is power in the blood of the lamb," they sang. Then Drew officially concluded "The First Annual Paul Hill Days", and reminded everyone to walk to a nearby park for the Subway sandwiches they had ordered earlier.



During the walk, I met Andy Wilson, the son of George Wilson who organized Paul Hill Days. Wilson, Sr., a former Presbyterian Minister, died of a heart attack earlier that week at age 55. I expressed my condolences, then asked Andy if his group was discouraged by President Bush's inability to promote Wilson's religious agenda. "Bush's heart is in the right place, but there's not much he can do," he answered.

At the park, some of the children discovered a crabapple tree on top of the bluff that overlooks Lake Michigan. The boys shimmied up the trunk, and shook the branches until the fruit fell on the ground. "Yuck, they're sour," said a young girl. "They're crabapples," said a boy. A plump, blonde-haired woman walked over and scolded the children. "He told us to," said one of the boys, pointing at me. "I guess that makes me the serpent," I said. Mom did not seem amused, but remained pleasant.



Colin, a thin man with large glasses that gave him a lost expression said Paul Hill Days was about "making people see what was happening." I asked if he thought the protest was persuading people, and he said he didn't know. "Most people are apathetic, but you have to start somewhere. You have to show them what is happening."



The man said he traveled frequently with the Missionaries, disrupting clinics and "showing what is happening" by way of the group's lurid posters. I asked what he did for a living. "Oh, I do odd jobs here and there. Mostly I travel with the Missionaries to the Preborn." He pulled a small plastic fetus out of his pocket. "I take this with me everywhere I go," he said. I asked if promoting murder was a persuasive way to draw people to their cause. "Sometimes I wonder if there is a more effective way," he said, looking even more lost as he thought about the question.

The group said grace over their sub sandwiches, including a shout out to their hero, Paul Hill, a "Godly man" whom the state of Florida executed in 2003 for shooting down two men he didn't even know.

I later asked Drew Heiss if he was concerned about teaching children that it was acceptable to murder people you disagree with. He didn't appear that he had spent much time thinking about the question. "Well, we try to teach our kids the difference between right and wrong, and Biblical principles," he said, before entering more familiar territory - the "real meaning" of the sixth commandment, which he identified as "Thou Shalt Not Murder".

"If I fail to stop a murderer from murdering, then I am also guilty of murdering?" he seemed to wonder aloud. He said he invited some of his friends to march in Paul Hill days, but he's not sure how they feel about it. "Will they stop being my friends if they know what I am for?"

He was dead serious.



h/t Illusory Tenant

Friday, July 27, 2007

And on the seventh day, the Texas GOP rested

I'm shocked, shocked I tell you, that the chairman of the Texas State Board of Education !http://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gif
Don McLeroy, a dentist, was named chairman of the panel by Gov. Rick Perry, to please the religious bigots and cretins who run Texas.

(McLeroy) is one of the board members aligned with social conservative groups known for their strong stands on evolution, sexual abstinence and other heated topics covered in textbooks. One of four board members who voted against current high school biology books because of their failure to list weaknesses in the theory of evolution.
It's like a pre-literate society theme park down there, isn't it?

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

US Army unleashes Bat Boy
on Shia, Sunni extremists!

From our "Say It Ain't So" department - The Weekly World News is going under. And by under, we don't mean 500 miles beneath the Earth's crust where an ancient race of rock people plot their violent return to the surface. We mean shutting its doors:
American Media has decided to suspend publication of Weekly World News, both the print publication and the web site. No reason was given at press time, although reliable sources do tell us that management turned down at least one offer to buy the publication.

The weekly supermarket tabloid—known as the home of "Bat Boy" and other less-than-probable stories—has long had staffing connections with the science fiction, fantasy, and horror fields.
It seems counterintuitive, bothering to source a claim that a sleazy publication is going out of business. The only thing reliable about WWN is the date on the front page, and knowing that a new issue would be staring out from the checkout line every week.

Yet in some ways, the paper was a forerunner of the fake news genre favored today by millions. Before there was The Onion, or the Daily Show, or Fox News, there was WWN, with "Naked granny scares thieves!", or "Mars Observer Photographed Giant Fish in Space!". To be sure there was little redeeming quality about WWN's fakesness. It's hard to imagine forming a coherent opinion about anything when you read "Dead organ donor wakes up after surgeons remove his eyes, a kidney and his left lung!"

Monday, July 23, 2007

The war that dare not speak its name

Apparently our President is such a bumbling fool that even Newt Gingrich realizes it, and he has some advice for Dubya: don't say anything about the war.
Newt Gingrich is offering President Bush some interesting advice about winning support for the Iraq war: The president, he says, should stop talking about it. “Simply be quiet, say nothing” is what the former Republican leader is urging. Mr. Bush instead should leave the war talk to General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker, who have much more credibility with both Democrats and Republicans. […]

“Petraeus and Crocker will get a better deal on Iraq than Bush, and it will be much harder for the Democrats to oppose Petraeus and Crocker,” Mr. Gingrich said.
Now I know what you're thinking - why just keep quiet about the war? I mean, what about those other low points in his presidency, i.e. Katrina, habeus corpus, the US Attorneys, or Walter Reed Hospital.

In fact, given that everything this President touches turns to crap, maybe Bush shouldn't say anything at all, apart from an occassional "How are y'all doing?", or "Five polyps. Didn't see 'em. Felt 'em though. Ha ha ha. Cancer free. That's a good thing. Gotta go."

Personally, I like it when the George Bush speaks. When my grandkids ask me one day "Grandpa, what was it like living under the worst President in US History?", I'll need more material than a David Petraeus quote.

Après la guerre


"I guess while I was there, the general attitude was, A dead Iraqi is just another dead Iraqi," said Spc. Jeff Englehart, 26, of Grand Junction, Colorado. Specialist Englehart served with the Third Brigade, First Infantry Division, in Baquba, about thirty-five miles northeast of Baghdad, for a year beginning in February 2004. "You know, so what?... The soldiers honestly thought we were trying to help the people and they were mad because it was almost like a betrayal. Like here we are trying to help you, here I am, you know, thousands of miles away from home and my family, and I have to be here for a year and work every day on these missions. Well, we're trying to help you and you just turn around and try to kill us."

from The Other War: Iraq Vets Bear Witness, in The Nation

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Stigmata sold separately

From Cliff Schechter, via C&L:
Wal-Mart said Tuesday it will test sales in some stores of biblical action figures whose makers say they are aimed at Christian parents who prefer their children play with Samson, David or Noah rather than with a comic book character or Bratz doll.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. spokeswoman Melissa O'Brien said the toys made by One2believe, a Valencia, California, company, will be offered in 425 of Wal-Mart's 3,376 discount stores...

One-believe Chief Executive David Socha said his products were part of a "battle for the toy box" with dolls and figures that he said carry negative messages.

"If you're very religious, it's a battle for your children's minds and what they're playing with and pretending. There are remakes out there of Satan and evil things," Socha said.
Playing and pretending are important to any child's develop,ent, and while I'm not crazy about the crap that passes for children' toys these days, I am certain that Biblical action toys have the same potential crapiness built in. The key to childhood development is imagination: through plays, children imagine ways to adapt to the real world in all its permutations.

Imaginative play teaches children the skills they will need to develop into functioning, productive adults, including literacy, mathematical reasoning, creativity and social skills. Those social skills include the ability to share, negotiate, compromise, make and revise rules, and adapt the perspective of others.

Biblical action figures by themselves are not bad, unless combined with a dogmatic interpretation of the owners manual, The Bible. In fact, dogma of any type is anathema to imagination. Let's face it - the real world is a non-dogmatic, random, imaginative, disheveled, scary place. If everybody did exactly what the Bible tells them to do, think about how much less frightening it would be. This is the dream of Biblical literalists - a return to a world that never existed, and most likely never will, where uncertainty is vanquished like the Philistines, and the rule of law is indistinguishable from the word of God.

Talk about imaginative play.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Photoblogging



Photo by Heraldblog

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Real journalist spotted in White House



Administration urges calm.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Saturday, July 07, 2007

The metaphor defense

How good to know that in our dumbed down world, literary analysis has clawed its way into the news cycle not once, but twice this past week. The metaphor, favored by poets, hopeless romantics, and slimy defense attorneys, has found new life as an excuse for saying stupid things. First there was neo-con apologist Fouad Ajami's non-metaphorical explanation that he was merely being metaphorical when he compared convicted felon Scooter Libby to a slain American soldier. CNBC's David Schuster tore Ajami a new one, with the help of a literal Iraqi-War vet who pointed out the obvious - that Libby is a metaphorical lying sac du merde, unlike the honorable men and women who risk their lives in combat.

The other metaphorical shoe hit the ground today when finance professor Don Chance explained he was merely being metaphorical when he blamed that libertine pleasure-seeking Mr. Rogers for an epidemic of youthful narcissism that is ruining America's future.
Signs of narcissism among college students have been rising for 25 years, according to a recent study led by a San Diego State University psychologist. Obviously, Mr. Rogers alone can't be blamed for this. But as Prof. Chance sees it, "he's representative of a culture of excessive doting."

Prof. Chance teaches many Asian-born students, and says they accept whatever grade they're given; they see B's and C's as an indication that they must work harder, and that their elders assessed them accurately. They didn't grow up with Mr. Rogers or anyone else telling them they were born special.

By contrast, American students often view lower grades as a reason to "hit you up for an A because they came to class and feel they worked hard," says Prof. Chance. He wishes more parents would offer kids this perspective: "The world owes you nothing. You have to work and compete. If you want to be special, you'll have to prove it."
Chance later explained that he doesn't know what he's talking about, and besides, he was just being metaphorical:
The reference to Mr. Rogers was just a metaphor. I have no professional qualifications to evaluate the real problems or propose solutions. Mr. Rogers was a great American. I watched him with my children and wouldn’t hesitate to do so again if I had young children.
The metaphor defense is obviously catching on, its application broadened to explain the numerous gaffes, malapropisms and dissembling that led America to an ill-advised war.
For instance, when George Tenet said the evidence for WMD was a "slam dunk", he wasn't speaking literally, unless there was backboard and hoop installed in the Oval Office. He was speaking metaphorically, comparing the case for WMDs to the actions of a 7-foot tall power forward on a court full of 6-footers.

President Bush was likewise waxing metaphorical when he told America that the smoking gun of terrorism would come in the shape of a mushroom cloud. I mean, c'mon, terrorists don't use guns anymore, and who cares if they smoke anyway? We have laws against smoking in public, remember?

Friday, July 06, 2007

Don't bother us with facts - we're Republicans

Zachary at Internal Monologue links to Jeff Weintraub's post regarding immigration and crime. In case you've been listening to Fox News, it's not what you think.
[A]mong men age 18-39 (who comprise the vast majority of the prison population), the incarceration rate of the native-born is much higher than the incarceration rate of the foreign-born.

Immigrants in every ethnic group in the United States have lower rates of crime and imprisonment than do the native born. This is true for all immigrant groups ­- including the Mexicans, Salvadorans, and Guatemalans who comprise most of the undocumented immigrants in the country. Even though immigrants from these countries are far more likely than natives to have less than a high-school education and to live in poverty, they are far less likely to be behind bars or to commit crimes. Moreover, teenage immigrants are much less likely than native-born adolescents to engage in risk behaviors such as delinquency, violence, and substance abuse that often lead to imprisonment.

The problem of violent crime in the United States is not caused by immigrants, regardless of their legal status. [....]

There are real dangers inherent in the myth that immigrants are more prone to criminality than are the native-born. [....] We, as sociologists, criminologists, legal scholars and other social scientists, both academics and practitioners in the criminal justice system, including prosecutors, police officers, and criminal attorneys, strongly urge state and national policymakers who are drafting laws that affect immigrants to base these laws on demonstrated facts rather than on false assumptions.
Basing laws on demonstrated facts rather than false assumptions - now where I have heard that one before? Isn't that how the Iraq War started? When the facts don't line up just so for the lizard-brain right, false assumptions will just have to do.

We see false assumptions every day. Fox News is telling us that socialized medicine will lead to more foreign born doctors, some of whom may be jihadists! So addition that hernia exam ("Turn your head and die, American devil!") you'll also be contributing to the downfall of Christianity when you pay your doctor.

Meanwhile, proto-fascist nativists are alienating more and more Hispanics, many of whom agree that our immigration laws need fixing. President Bush attracted 40 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2004 - these days, only 11 percent of Hispanics identify themselves as Republicans, while three times as many lean Democrat.

Even more telling: all the Democratic contenders accepted invitations to address NALEO, the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, held recently in Orlando.

All of the Republican candidates declined invitations to join a NALEO forum held a day earlier, citing scheduling conflicts.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Sickening

Bill Kristol: Liar

Tony Snow: Liar

President George W. Bush: Liar

The only consolation to the Libby pardon is that Bush was acting out of fear. White knuckle, fill your pants, crawl into a closet and curl into a fetal position fear. It's the end of the republic as we know it.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Could be both

From today's WaPo:
"You don't get any feeling of somebody crouching down in the bunker," said Irwin M. Stelzer, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute who was part of one group of scholars who met with Bush. "This is either extraordinary self-confidence or out of touch with reality. I can't tell you which."
Bush has self confidence in spades, but it doesn't come from a belief in his own competence. Dear Leader is a True Believer whose religiosity has created its own reality, far afield from the world he was elected to deal with.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Guantanamo, mon amour

Who else would describe Gitmo as a clean, safe, and humane facility, other than the poor military prosecutor who drew the short straw? Col. Morris Davis, who would also torture kittens if ordered by a superior, tries his hand at packaged vacation brochure writing in today's New York Times:
Today, most of the detainees are housed in new buildings modeled after civilian prisons in Indiana and Michigan. Detainees receive three culturally appropriate meals a day. Each has a copy of the Koran. Guards maintain respectful silence during Islam’s five daily prayer periods, and medical care is provided by the same practitioners who treat American service members. Detainees are offered at least two hours of outdoor recreation each day, double that allowed inmates, including convicted terrorists, at the “supermax” federal penitentiary in Florence, Colo.
Davis omits the fact that the majority of Gitmo prisoners, I mean, guests, have been held for years on little or no evidence. Or that the Bush Administration claimed that the Geneva Conventions don't apply to The War Against Terror®. Or that the CIA own's operatives have reported the same tales of abuse as the detainees themselves.

Davis tells us that Australian David Hicks told his sentencing judge that he had been treated humanely - more evidence of the benign nature of indefinite detention without charges at Club Dread. But Davis knows the US agreed to a shorter sentence (nine months) if Hicks agreed to lie about his treatment. The only reason Hicks even received a "trial" was because the Australian prime minister pressured Dick Cheney on the issue.

If we doubled Guantanamo, as Mitt Romney suggested, does that mean the US has to lie twice as much about what is happening there?

Glenn Greenwald has more.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Immigration is hard work

Expect to hear more about the 1965 Immigration Act in the weeks to come, as the right revs up to full indignation mode over the influx of non-white people crossing our borders. Lloyd Billingsley at the execrable Front Page is worried that brown people will demand to be treated fairly, and that just ain't right.

Why all the fuss? Here's a little background.

The Immigration Act of 1965 essentially repealed the immigration act of 1924. The '65 law had the support of Dems and Republicans.


The 1924 Immigration Act was a product of its time - namely, it was racist. It excluded certain ethnic groups, especially Chinese. America was all freaked out about communism in 1924, and KKK 2.0 had been recently rolled out as a user friendly Christian organization that attracted millions of white people. So naturally Congress gave America the immigration act it wanted.

But the issue today is illegal immigration. The 1965 act set quotas on legal immigration. But that's how the right argues. It conflates one thing with another. So Al Qaeda is the same as Shiites, and illegal border crossers are the same as foreigners with green cards.

As far as I can tell, critics of the 1965 act are upset because it lets in too many brown people. This is very upsetting to Republicans who think the US is meant to look like the cast of a Frank Capra movie. But the really cool part about America is that every nationality has contributed something to our culture. I challenge you to go one day without brushing against something that was brought to our shores by a non-white ethnic group. Jazz, margaritas, sushi, hummus, Pokemon, peanut butter, canoes, kung fu all vie for our time and dollars in the great American marketplace.

Immigrant fears and American xenophobia are nothing knew. Virtually every immigrant group suffered the wrath of ignoramuses at some point in the long American experience. Even the Swedes were abused at some point. How do you make fun of a Swede, for God sakes! "Hey Lars, we don't need your, uh, things that you do around here. Go back."

The Republican right talks a great game when it comes to staying the course in Iraq. The standard answer to every criticism of the war is "Don't be a quitter", and dissent is equated with treason. But the right's patriotic mettle turns to limp rigatoni when the issue is non-white people living here. Suddenly the knuckledragging wantwits who make up Bush's base turn white with fear, and dishonor 200 years of immigration history. "Oh no, immigration is hard work!"

We can't have that now, can we?

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Goat fences make goat neighbors

Trent Lott (R-There's a Nigra on Ma Roof!), hasn't quite figured out the immigration question, but he has rolled out an important analogy: brown people are like goats.
"Now people are at least as smart as goats," Lott continued. "Maybe not as agile. Build a fence. We should have a virtual fence. Now one of the ways I keep those goats in the fence is I electrified them. Once they got popped a couple of times they quit trying to jump it.

"I'm not proposing an electrified goat fence," Lott added quickly, "I'm just trying, there's an analogy there."

Asked for clarification as to what exactly the analogy was, Lott spokesman Lee Youngblood said that the senator supported a variety of measures in the immigration bill, including unmanned aerial surveillance vehicles, radar and more border patrol agents, as well as a fence to reduce the flow of illegal immigration.

"A fence in and of itself is not enough," said Youngblood. "You can have technology to support the fence and to supplement the fence."
Analogies sure are fun. I think I'll try one. OK, how about this: Trent Lott is to the US Senate, as a turd is to a swimming pool.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Museum of Bad Art

In troubled times such as these, when a corrupt President subverts the constitution while his cronies line up for more lucre, it is comforting to know we have place to turn. I'm talking about bad art.



UNSEEN FORCES #12
Think Again
Acrylic on canvas by Unknown
Acquired by Scott Wilson from trash

This disturbing work "makes an offer you can't refuse". The chilling, matter-of-fact manner in which the subject presents the severed head to us is a poignant reminder of just how numb we have become. The understated violence implicit in the scene speaks volumes on our own desensitization, our society's reflexive use of force, and the artist's inability to deal with the hindquarters of the animal.

Alas, one day reason and honor will return to our nation's capital, and the need for bad art will slip away. But until then, enjoy!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Clinton's war on terror

The next time some right wing revisionist blames Clinton for Bush's War, tell him to STFU. A comment left at Carpetbagger Report tells us why:
CLINTON Developed the nation’s first anti-terrorism policy, and appointed first national coordinator of anti-terrorist efforts.

CLINTON Stopped cold the Al Qaeda millennium hijacking and bombing plots.

CLINTON Stopped cold the planned attack to kill the Pope

CLINTON Stopped cold the planned attack to blow up 12 U.S. jetliners simultaneously

CLINTON Stopped cold the planned attack to blow up UN Headquarters

CLINTON Stopped cold the planned attack to blow up FBI Headquarters

CLINTON Stopped cold the planned attack to blow up the Israeli Embassy in Washington

CLINTON Stopped cold the planned attack to blow up Boston airport

CLINTON Stopped cold the planned attack to blow up Lincoln and Holland Tunnels in NY

CLINTON Stopped cold the planned attack to blow up the George Washington Bridge

CLINTON Stopped cold the planned attack to blow up the US Embassy in Albania

– Tried to kill Osama bin Laden and disrupt Al Qaeda through preemptive strikes (efforts denounced by the G.O.P.).

– Brought perpetrators of first World Trade Center bombing and CIA killings to justice.

– Did not blame Bush I administration for first World Trade Center bombing even though it occurred 38 days after Bush left office. Instead, worked hard, even obsessively — and successfully — to stop future terrorist attacks.

–Named the Hart-Rudman commission to report on nature of terrorist threats and major steps to be taken to combat terrorism.

- Clinton sent legislation to Congress to TIGHTEN AIRPORT SECURITY. (Remember, this is before 9/11) The legislation was defeated by the Republicans because of opposition from the airlines.

- Clinton sent legislation to Congress to allow for BETTER TRACKING OF TERRORIST FUNDING. It was defeated by Republicans in the Senate because of opposition from banking interests.

- Clinton sent legislation to Congress to add tagents to explosives, to allow for BETTER TRACKING OF EXPLOSIVES USED BY TERRORISTS. It was defeated by the Republicans because of opposition from the NRA.

- Clinton increased the military budget by an average of 14 per cent, reversing the trend under Bush I.

- Clinton tripled the budget of the FBI for counterterrorism and doubled overall funding for counterterrorism

-Clinton detected and destroyed cells of Al Qaeda in over 20 countries

-Clinton created national stockpile of drugs and vaccines including 40 million doses of smallpox vaccine.

-Of Clinton’s efforts says Robert Oakley, Reagan Ambassador for Counterterrorism: “Overall, I give them very high marks” and “The only major criticism I have is the obsession with Osama”

-Paul Bremer, Bush’s appointed leader (Civilian Administrator) of Iraq disagreed slightly with Robert Oakley as he believed the Clinton Administration had “correctly focused on bin Laden.

-Barton Gellman in the Washington Post put it best, “By any measure available, Clinton left office having given greater priority to terrorism than any president before him” and was the “first administration to undertake a systematic anti-terrorist effort”