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Sunday, November 30, 2003
Rules for thee, but not for me.
Noted junkie Rush Limbaugh has posted an article (originally from Free Republic) sarcastically comparing his potential money laundering problems with consistently driving just under the speed limit. What a funny guy.

via Hesiod

Saturday, November 29, 2003
People we miss.
A good article which wonders, as many of us do, "What is Bill Watterson up to these days?"
We have nothing to fear but fearmongering
Fearmongers by Charley Reese:
"The essence of the RNC's first commercial was that if you don't re-elect Bush, the big, bad boogeyman will get you. You should remember that it was on Mr. Bush's watch that the big, bad boogeyman got us on Sept. 11, 2001. So far as we know, Mr. Bush didn't have a clue.

You should also remember that two years later, the Bush administration has: (1) failed to identify and capture the anthrax killer; (2) failed to capture or kill Osama bin Laden, the actual boogeyman who got us; (3) failed to capture or kill Saddam Hussein; and (4) failed to capture or kill Mullah Omar of Taliban fame.

Worse, rather than going after the terrorists who actually attacked us, Mr. Bush has invited all of the world's terrorists to attack us by declaring war on them and has gotten us bogged down in two guerrilla wars. Whatever happened to the peace dividends? You certainly can't find them in our $400 billion military budget."

I would note in passing that this is from a source that in no way could be described as "liberal".
There is no need to be $6 trillion in debt, there is no need to maintain a $400 billion defense budget, and there is darn sure no need to give up our liberty in the name of security.
Of course, there's no way that the current Administration could be accurately described as "conservative".
Albany priests seek optional celibacy
This is interesting to me because it's my local diocese. I think the Church is going to have to do something about the problem of not having enough priests, and sooner rather than later. I don't think the current Pope is likely to address the issue at this point, though.
Newsday.com - Albany priests seek optional celibacy:
"A group of priests from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany signed a letter urging optional celibacy for new priests, the latest in a string of similar letters to Catholic authorities, according to a diocese newspaper."
Friday, November 28, 2003
For your listening pleasure (and possibly to attach to various annoying cow-orkers' machines), it's The Big Lebowski sound board.
One well -known Dean Delegate...
Salon.com News | Rocker Joan Jett a Howard Dean delegate:
"Does Howard Dean love rock 'n' roll? He'd better or he may hear from one of his potential national convention delegates.

A slate of convention delegate candidates from New York made public by the Dean presidential campaign includes Joan Jett, whose 1981 song with the Blackhearts 'I Love Rock-n-Roll' has become a rock anthem."

Thanks to Steve...

The Three Phases of Parenting
I've mentioned our two boys a couple of times here. I don't think I've mentioned my theory that with your first child, you want everything to be just right; by the fourth one, you're happy if he's not carried off by eagles. Erik Deckers at The American Reporter elaborates on this theory a bit. Here's my favorite:
First Child: Don't run in the house. You could fall and hurt yourself.
Second Child: Don't run with scissors.
Third Child: Don't play with Daddy's good chainsaw.
Idiot watch, post-prandial edition
A "Christian talk show host" in Alabama is suing to get noted loony Judge Roy Moore reinstated.
Montgomery Advertiser : : State & Govt.:
"Mobile lawyer Jim Zeigler filed the suit on behalf of Christian talk show host Kelly McGinley of Mobile, who alleges that she has been 'disenfranchised' as a voter by the removal of Moore. The Court of the Judiciary expelled Moore for his refusal to obey a federal court order to move his Ten Commandments monument from the state Judicial Building rotunda."
Just another bit of evidence that the right wing doesn't see Lady Justice as holding a balance, but a whip to drive the heathens.
Why National Review is the best buy for your comedy dollar.
Michael Graham, on Bush's visit to Baghdad:
WHAT CAN PRESIDENT BUSH DO IN BAGHDAD THAT SADDAM HUSSEIN CAN'T? Appear in public. If that doesn't send a message to the Ba'athists and their would-be allies, I don't know what does.
That would be pretty impressive if Bush had appeared in public. Or stayed more than a few hours. Or hadn't had to fly in under tight secrecy with all the lights out on Air Force One.
Ever wonder what pilots in Louisiana do when they can't fly?

Thanks to Wright Machine Tools

I'm not sure how I'd describe this...
"Creepy" may come closest, though. It's an online dating site for the Ayn Rand cult. I'm not up to signing up just to take a browse around the site, but perhaps there's a single reader out there who'd like to take a look and let me know?
Thursday, November 27, 2003
Bush has Thanksgiving dinner in Baghdad
I'm seriously pretty impressed that Bush went to Baghdad and had dinner with at least some of the troops there. I was particularly impressed at seeing the video this morning and how "unstaged" it looked. It was right in all the ways the USS Lincoln appearance wasn't.

Mind you, I still think he's the worst thing that's happened to the country since at least Nixon, but he gets points for doing the right thing this time.

Addendum: And let's not forget that four years ago, Bill Clinton went to Kosovo for Thanksgiving with the troops only five months after "the end of major combat operations" there and not only had dinner with the troops, but met with local people and was heartily cheered.

The right wing secret: never stop
Kathryn Lopez, over at the Kiddie Corner, asks again who Joe Wilson is working for (if you must), based on a US News article with nothing more seditious than printing his opinion about how Saddam might hide out. Gee, and why would a diplomat who served in Iraq have an opinion about something like that?

Once more, it doesn't matter. Yes, this is a smear on Joe Wilson, who served honorably in the foreign service under both Republican and Democratic Presidents. But even if it wasn't, that wouldn't change the fact that somebody in the White House exposed an undercover CIA agent. That is a felony, and one that's now gone unexplained for four months.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003
Lies, and the Lying Liars Who... #6
President Bush, at Fort Collins, CO, 24 November 2003:
Working with a fine coalition, our military went to Afghanistan, destroyed the training camps of al Qaeda, and put the Taliban out of business forever.
Sydney Morning Herald, 25 November 2003:
Afghanistan's ousted Taliban say they were behind a blast at the capital's largest hotel and warned that there would be more attacks on foreigners.
Another "what if..."
Shock and Awe has a nice piece about Gao Zhan, who turns out to be the second person to turn up with links to the GOP and the Communist Chinese (remember Katrina Leung?). Between that and Neil Bush's hoovering up their cash for...what, exactly?...one is left wondering what folks like Bill O'Reilly, Rush, and Tom DeLay would be saying if Bill Clinton had been in office when things like this were happening. I think they'd probably have gone past impeachment at this point and would be calling for him to be burned at the stake.
What Geneva Convention?
Yahoo! News - U.S. Arrests Wife of Saddam Deputy :
"American troops hunting for a top Saddam Hussein (news - web sites) deputy suspected of masterminding anti-U.S. attacks arrested his wife and daughter, the military said Wednesday, in an apparent attempt to pressure his surrender."
Look, friends, this isn't even close. It's a clear violation of the Geneva Convention. What we're doing here is basically taking hostages. Can't somebody tell these clowns that just saying "we're the good guys" isn't enough to actually make you the good guys?
One Thanksgiving recipe we won't be trying this year.
White Castle turkey stuffing.
Bozos on parade
New Scientist:
"Cash dispensing ATMs belonging to two US financial institutions were shut down when the computer worm Welchia invaded their embedded Windows XP operating systems in August. Diebold, the Ohio-based company that makes the machines, revealed the security breach on Tuesday.

It is the first known case of a worm actually installing itself on individual ATM operating systems, says Peter Lind, a security expert at Spire Security in Malvern, Pennsylvania. Earlier in 2003, the Blaster worm shut down Bank of America ATMs, but only by causing a flood of traffic that clogged the network's bandwidth."

Why is this important? Because Diebold is one of the companies making electronic voting systems, and they're being particularly obnoxious about any claims that their systems might have security issues.

via Boing Boing

Tuesday, November 25, 2003
OK, This is funny.
The snow globe from hell.

via Dave Barry.

Hall of Shame
Is your Senator on this list? These are the Democrats who voted for cloture on the Medicare bill. If your senator is there, click on their name and send them a little thank-you note for putting the interests of the drug companies ahead of everything else.

On the other hand, if your senator is

Send them a real thank you note for choosing country over party, and voting no on cloture.
Yes, reservation for "Rosy Scenario", please? That's S-C-E-N...
Congressional Memo: Spending Discipline Proves Unfashionable This Year: " The Medicare bill about to clear Congress is the latest example of how budget discipline is being given short shrift at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, critics here and on Wall Street say.

By official calculations, the tax cuts and increases in benefits enacted this year alone will increase the national debt by more than $750 billion over the next decade, and the actual amount could be much larger."

"[T]he actual amount could be much larger." That's kind of like "your mileage may vary", or "professional driver on closed course". Or "the check is in the mail."

This has gone beyond mere questions of whether a balanced budget is the right policy to pursue. The policy of the current Congress and administration is simply paying off their campaign contributors and bribing voters with the taxpayers' money, and devil take the hindmost. I'm starting to think that Bush is already convinced he's going to lose in 2004, because I can't imagine him wanting to be in office when some of these budget chickens come home to roost. Or maybe he thinks he can just do the "aw, shucks"-and-jive bit indefinitely. Or maybe Condi isn't reading him anything but the funnies.

New Model Army
Billmon compares the New Iraqi Army (Improved! With 50% fewer Baathists!) with the ARVN. Particularly telling, I thought, was this quote:
"My family's already made a reservation on a plot of land to bury me," said Yusuf, 29, breaking into a grin as the men traded barbs tinged with gallows humor. "As soon as [the Americans] leave, I'm taking off my hat," he said, tipping his red baseball cap emblazoned with the corps' emblem, "and putting on a yashmak," the head scarf sometimes worn by resistance fighters.
The sad reality is that the Bushies may think they can hand over the governance of Iraq by next summer -- and they may be able to hand over the symbols of government by then -- but the power behind the throne will be wearing US Army uniforms for quite a while.
Best thing I got in email today...
"Go Read It" for Nov. 25
Kevin Drum at Calpundit on the rise of pork "earmarks" in the Republican Congress.
Breast Intentions
Breast Intentions
Earlier this month, Kate Geary took her infant daughter to a Utah Burger King. When she started breastfeeding the tot, a customer complained. A manager was summoned, and Geary was told to stop committing public nourishment or have the decency to repair to the bathroom. This whole incident might have remained a piece of small town gossip, except that women who breastfeed are extremely protective of their right to feed their kids mother’s milk whenever their tykes are hungry.
And well they should be! The column is actually very pro-breastfeeding, describing it as "the first-ever healthy meal actually being consumed in the fast food chain" as well as pointing out that the manager who told her to feed her baby in the bathroom was violating Utah state law. New York, I'm proud to say, had the first law protecting the right of mothers to nurse their babies in public. If you're going to have a baby, please make breastfeeding your first choice. It's best for mom, best for baby, best for the world. And a lot cheaper than buying formula.

Contact La Leche League for information or help with breastfeeding.

Monday, November 24, 2003
There's still hope....
Jesse Orosco, now 46, has signed a minor league contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks to pitch next year. This means there may still be at least one Major Leaguer older than I am.
Think they're enjoying their freedom yet?
Like, for example, that wonderful free press we've been told they have:
Iraqi Council Closes Arab TV Bureau (washingtonpost.com):
"The U.S.-appointed Governing Council banned a popular Arab satellite news channel from broadcasting from Iraq and seized equipment from its bureau in Baghdad on Monday after it aired a taped message purportedly from former president Saddam Hussein calling for attacks on Iraqis cooperating with the U.S. occupation.

L. Paul Bremer, the U.S. administrator, approved and authorized the move against al-Arabiya, which competes with al-Jazeera as the most influential news channel in both Iraq and the rest of the Arab world, an official with the U.S.-led administration said. Jalal Talabani, the council's current president, announced the order and said legal action against the station may follow."

al-Arabiya and al-Jazeera are the two most popular Arab television networks, and they're considerably more "free" than any of the state-run media in the countries surrounding Iraq.
Earth to Rush....
He may be off the Oxycontin, but it's not helped his connection to reality very much.
Limbaugh Signs On Again, Sharing Life's Tough Lessons:
"Rather, he said, he tried to incorporate what he had learned about himself and use it to psychoanalyze his opponents. Among the problems with liberals, Mr. Limbaugh said he had discovered, is that 'they don't like themselves.'

'You ever see liberals smile about anything?' he asked."

I'll skip the obvious shot about how many liberals were smiling with they saw his story in the National Enquirer, and suggest this. Here's a smile I hope Rush has a nice, long time to get used to:

Sunday, November 23, 2003
Just in case you'd started sleeping well at night...
Here are some words of "wisdom" from former CENTCOM commander Tommy Franks (courtesy of NewsMax (Motto: For people who think Fox News is "probably not all communists")).
Gen. Tommy Franks says that if the United States is hit with a weapon of mass destruction that inflicts large casualties, the Constitution will likely be discarded in favor of a military form of government.
“It means the potential of a weapon of mass destruction and a terrorist, massive, casualty-producing event somewhere in the Western world – it may be in the United States of America – that causes our population to question our own Constitution and to begin to militarize our country in order to avoid a repeat of another mass, casualty-producing event. Which in fact, then begins to unravel the fabric of our Constitution. Two steps, very, very important.”
Already, critics of the U.S. Patriot Act, rushed through Congress in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, have argued that the law aims to curtail civil liberties and sets a dangerous precedent.

But Franks’ scenario goes much further. He is the first high-ranking official to openly speculate that the Constitution could be scrapped in favor of a military form of government.

There were no quotes about "precious bodily fluids".
"Go Read It" for Nov. 23
Brad DeLong on the NY Times "coverage" of the Medicare and Energy bills. My favorite bit:
And why in God's name give Tom Scully space to tell out-and-out lies like "[Bush] clearly understood all the angles,'' Mr. Scully said. "He could definitely pick every issue in this bill and mix it up with the most intense policy wonk"?
Obviously a misquote, IMO. He meant "...could definitely pick every issue in this bill and mix up the most intense policy wonk."
It's the thought that counts

You can get it (and similar kits) at Subversive Cross Stitch.

Saturday, November 22, 2003
Blog of the Week
Boy, the folks over at the Kiddie Corner should read this. They could get some good pointers on improving their content.
Friday, November 21, 2003
Lose Bush now!
Ask me how!

Click for full bumper-sticker-sized image.

What must his father be thinking?
The National Embarrassment in Merrie Olde England, representing our nation as best he can. Sigh.
Texan on the Thames: President Bush Treated Royally (washingtonpost.com) :
"But here he was, seated next to the Queen of England, amid Corinthian columns and gold-enriched pilasters, before a red velvet throne used for the coronation of King Edward VII. The Yeomen of the Guard, with their red robes and long spears, stood at attention. The Puligny-Montrachet '96 was flowing. And the president was having trouble with the toasts.

The queen gave her toast, noting that, unlike presidents, she was not term-limited. The president smiled, Prince Charles did not. When the queen finished, the president raised his glass, but Her Majesty did not return the gesture, instead waiting for the American national anthem to begin. Hearing the music, Bush put down his glass and placed his hand on his heart, then took it off, then put it on again. 'The Star-Spangled Banner' over, he clinked glasses with the queen, then turned to clink glasses with Princess Anne, who was already sipping from hers.

The awkwardness continued after Bush's toast, when he again picked up his glass to clink with the queen, who stood motionless, waiting for her own national anthem. Bush put his glass back down and, as the orchestra played 'God Save the Queen,' winked at somebody in the audience. Finally, the anthem finished, president and queen consummated their clinks."

Remember, for all the "good old boy" image, George Bush is from an "old money" family. He grew up with Congressmen and Ambassadors. His father, whatever other failings he might have had, would never have "winked at somebody in the audience" while listening to God Save the Queen in the presence of Her Majesty.

I've alluded before to Nicholas von Hoffman's description of Richard Nixon, and how apt it sometimes seems for Bush, but never given the entire quote. von Hoffman was on the original "Point/Counterpoint" segment of 60 minutes, and on one episode said, "Mr. Nixon is the dead mouse on the kitchen floor, and the American family, in slippers and bathrobe, is gathered around him arguing over who will pick him up by his tail and drop him in the trash." Mr. Bush is perhaps not quite dead, but more and more of us think he's pinin' for the fjords.

Looking for...
Some of the recent search engine strings that have led people here. No, I don't get it either.
Oh, now this is funny.
The big advantages of the Republicans holding their convention so late are
  1. They get to use unlimited primary funds as long as possible, and
  2. they put it close to 9/11.
The big disadvantage is that it puts the selection of the nominee after the deadline for getting on the ballot in some states. Like Illinois, where the Democrats seem to be both having some fun and getting their money's worth out of the experience.
To get the deal done Republicans in the House had to agree to two things. First, they had to waive more than $900,000 in election fines - nearly all of them levied against Democrat Secretary of State Jesse White. Second, they had to agree that in next year's elections, any paper ballots containing "dimpled" or "hanging" chads are counted as yes votes for a candidate. Sound familiar?

The really fun part comes when you learn that the bill is going to be considered in the state Senate along with an ethics bill, and some Republicans are considering scuttling it. Illinois is probably a safe Democratic state in the general election, but wouldn't it be a kick if Bush wasn't even on the ballot?

via RealClearPolitics.

Oh no, this is nothing like Vietnam
Rockets Hit 2 Baghdad Hotels, Oil Ministry (washingtonpost.com):
" Insurgents deploying rocket-launcher-equipped donkey carts [emphasis mine] attacked symbolically important and well-fortified buildings in Baghdad Friday, just hours after a top U.S. commander proclaimed progress in the military's newly aggressive high-tech counter-insurgency operation.

The donkey-cart offensive hit the Sheraton and Palestine hotels here, which house reporters and American contractors, including employees of a subsidiary of Halliburton, Inc., as well as the Iraqi oil ministry, where bureaucrats displaced from a number of government departments do their work.

The damage to buildings and the injuries to people were relatively contained. Few people were at work early Friday, a holy day here.

The damage to the military's reputation here could not be measured.

The rockets came 'one after another,' complained Abu Mustaffa Abbas, whose home faces the oil ministry, one of the rocketed facilities. 'There is no security. They cannot even protect themselves. So why are they here?'"

Visit the Victorian Internet....
Just for the record...
I want to say that I could not care less about Michael Jackson, and I think that while the charges against him are serious and, if true, a tragedy for the victims, that this is clearly a "dog bites man" story and should be on page A12 or so. How about some coverage of the (lack of) progress in discovering who leaked Valerie Plame's identity? And what's going on with Katrina Leung these days?
You go, girl!
I didn't know much about Mary Landrieu before, but reading this transcript of her speaking during the 30-hour performance of Bad Republican Theater gives me a lot of respect for her.
The basic laws of human stupidity
By Carlo M. Cipollo:
  1. Always and inevitably everyone underestimates the number of stupid individuals in circulation.
  2. The probability that a certain person will be stupid is independent of any other characteristic of that person.
  3. A stupid person is a person who causes losses to another person or to a group of persons while himself deriving no gain and even possibly incurring losses.
  4. Non-stupid people always underestimate the damaging power of stupid individuals. In particular non-stupid people constantly forget that at all times and places and under any circumstances to deal and/or associate with stupid people always turns out to be a costly mistake.
  5. A stupid person is the most dangerous type of person.
It's well worth reading the whole thing.

via Pharyngula

Thursday, November 20, 2003
Having a party?
If you are looking for a place to get just all sorts of cool....stuff, Oriental Trading is the place for you.

Do you need that  coconut bra?

That roll of   dinosaur stickers?

Set of small traffic cones?

Can't live without that rubber chicken or set of wind-up chattering teeth?

Is your home really complete without the glow in the dark fuzzy dice, disco ball, and light up pink flamingos? I didn't think so.

I mean, don't you need this stuff? It's worth getting on their mailing list just to see what's in the new catalogs.

Having a party?
If you are looking for a place to get just all sorts of cool....stuff, Oriental Trading is the place for you.

 Need that Coconut bra?

 That roll of dinosaur stickers?

 Set of small traffic cones?

Can't live without that rubber chicken or set of wind-up chattering teeth?

I mean, don't you need this stuff? It's worth getting on their mailing list just to see what's in the new catalogs.

"Go read it" for Nov. 20
Check out what Oliver Willis has to say about the Democratic Party. I think his idea of fixing it, like mine, starts with President Dean.
I'm sure it's just coincidence
I mean, everybody knows Republicans are better for the economy, right?
Economic Scene: Which Party in the White House Means Good Times for Investors?:
"Professors Santa-Clara and Valkanov look at the excess market return - the difference between a broad index of stock prices (similar to the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index) and the three-month Treasury bill rate - between 1927 and 1998. The excess return measures how attractive stock investments are compared with completely safe investments like short-term T-bills.

Using this measure, they find that during those 72 years the stock market returned about 11 percent more a year under Democratic presidents and 2 percent more under Republicans - a striking difference."

I guess it's possible that Republicans always manage to get voted out of office just as their brilliant economic policies are taking effect, or that they're really, really unluckly.

But I wouldn't bet on it.

Nothing is beneath them.
Ann Coulter: The party of ideas
Howard Dean talks about his brother Charlie's murder at the hands of North Vietnamese communists. Bizarrely, after working on the failed George McGovern campaign, Charlie Dean went to Indochina in 1974 to witness the ravages of the war he had opposed. Not long after he arrived, the apparently ungrateful communists captured and killed him. Hey fellas! I'm on your s-- CLUNK!

Howard Dean wears his brother's battered 1960s belt every day. (By contrast, Ted Kennedy honors the memory of his deceased family members with several belts every day.) Dean told Dan Rather about his brother's death at some length on CBS News: "It gave me a sense that you ought to live for the moment with people; that you really – you really need to tell people you love them if you love them. It was certainly the most awful thing that ever happened to our family. It was terrible for my parents; it was even worse for them than it was for us."

But remember, it's the liberals who are dragging down the political discussion in this country, because we hate Bush so much.
Weasel of the day
USATODAY.com - Daschle says he will vote for energy bill:
"Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle is ready to support the broad energy bill and will oppose attempts to scuttle it by a filibuster, one of the senator's aides said Wednesday."
What doth it benefit a man if he should gain ethanol subsidies and lose his soul?
Weasel of the day
USATODAY.com - Daschle says he will vote for energy bill:
"Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle is ready to support the broad energy bill and will oppose attempts to scuttle it by a filibuster, one of the senator's aides said Wednesday."
What doth it benefit a man if he should gain ethanol subsidies and lose his soul?
Wednesday, November 19, 2003
See you in the Hague, Mr. Perle
Um, wow. Richard Perle admits that the invasion of Iraq was illegal under international law.
Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | War critics astonished as US hawk admits invasion was illegal:
"In a startling break with the official White House and Downing Street lines, Mr Perle told an audience in London: 'I think in this case international law stood in the way of doing the right thing.'"
Again I quote Michael Kinsley: "A gaffe is when a politician unintentionally tells the truth." Here's a classic.
Pathetic. Just pathetic.
From the Glasgow Herald
THEY say there's a president in this town. Having spent a day looking for the man, I can't be sure. Presumably he was the grey figure one could almost make out in the morning, being greeted by an old lady at the front of Buckingham Palace. And after that? Who knows? Convoys came in, convoys went out. He must have been in one of them. Mustn't he?
Outside the palace, Constable YE 369 wasn't so sure. "No telling where he is. Got to watch his back though, eh? Book depository? Grassy knoll? That'd be a lark, wouldn't it?" Perhaps. But it seemed unlikely. By my calculations, there were roughly 13 million policeman milling around the capital.
When Bush (or at least his car) entered Banqueting House at lunchtime, a sniper could be seen, resting his rifle on the parapet and eyeballing the meagre crowd across the road. To be part of this lucky few you had to be frisked, a process from which the lunch in my pocket ("Half a chicken salad sandwich, officer. No, please. Don't squeeze …") never quite recovered. But it was worth it. This was the closest to our guest any "civilian" would get all day. As night fell outside the palace, the mood changed. Numbers swelled and the smell of burning filled the air. A US flag was torched. Minor scuffles broke out between protesters and police. It was all rather grubby.
Perhaps that old lady was up there, at one of the darkened windows, sadly regarding the angry mob that her house guest had brought to her gates. Assuming, that is, that she actually had one.
Will he ever appear in public again? Who knows, maybe they're playing an elaborate Weekend at Bernie's joke on us all with stunt doubles and computer graphics?

Naah. Nobody in this administration has that much imagination.

"Go read it" for Nov. 19
Kevin Drum over at Calpundit has a good take on the Medicare "reform" bill, and wonders why Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) is worried about it raising costs for people in his state because of competition. Gee, isn't that supposed to work the other way around?
Just wondering...
I was thinking about this, and I realized that I don't know the answer: When was the last time Bush appeared at a truly public event? That is to say, at one where the audience was not selected?
Statistic of the day
Number of policemen assigned to Bush's security detail: 14,000.
Number of coalition troops in the entire country of Afghanistan: 11,000.

via Democratic Veteran

"Let's hope they're having fun with us" of the day.
Turkey and Gravy Soda. I think they're kidding. At least, I hope so.
Tuesday, November 18, 2003
Great Ideas (not) of The Past
The Double Barrelled Cannon.
The Energizer Idiots
They keep going and going and going....
The Corner on National Review Online:
"Here's the political reality, and let's see if the media ignore it. Judges favor what proponents call 'emancipation,' but energized democratic majorities tend to reject it. It's Unelected Judges vs. Democratic Majorities. If the first AP reports are any indication, all the emphasis could be on abolitionist celebrating, and not on the majority."
Ok, he actually said "gay 'marriage'", not "emancipation," and "gay activist", not "abolitionist", but what's 135 years between friends?
Lies, and the lying liars who...
President Bush, being interviewed by Sir David Frost:
And David Kay found evidence of weapons programs. He found some biological weapons -- evidence of biological weapons. It doesn't take much time --
It's sort of like watching a car wreck.
You want to look away, but you just can't. Tim Graham, over at The Kiddie Corner:
Friday’s CBS Evening News didn’t utter a syllable about Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry opting out of the federal campaign finance matching fund system for the primaries, but devoted a full story to how Republicans Tom DeLay and Bill Frist, as Dan Rather put it, were “looking for loopholes to rake in donations” by subverting “the new campaign finance law designed to limit the power of special interests.” (It didn't matter much to Rather if these lobbyists ended up helping DeLay's work with abused and neglected kids or Frist's fight on global AIDS.) Reporter Bob Orr concluded by lecturing the conservatives even as the network ignored Kerry: “Even if the charity fund-raising activities don't violate the letter of the law, there's no doubt about what's being offered. For big contributions, high rollers can still buy access to the powerful. It's the same old political game with a slightly new wrinkle.”
Righto, Tim. Nice job of describing DeLay and Frist's new scams as though they weren't new organizations that have just been set up (or in Frist's case, haven't even been set up yet). And the comparing them to Kerry's entirely legal campaign decision! A stroke of brilliance!

I continue to be amazed that Bill Buckley lets this crap be published in a magazine he founded. There's a lot I don't agree with about Buckley, but he at least had some moral scruples. At this point, National Review is a house organ for the Republican Party, nothing more.

It's the Plumber. He's Come to Fix the Sink.
More leakage info. Unlike the silly flap over the Rumsfeld memo leak, which some wingers tried to compare to the outing of Valerie Plame despite the fact that it wasn't even classified, this is another real one.
CIA Seeks Probe of Iraq-Al Qaeda Memo Leak (washingtonpost.com):
"The CIA will ask the Justice Department to investigate the leak of a 16-page classified Pentagon memo that listed and briefly described raw agency intelligence on any relationship between Saddam Hussein's Iraqi government and Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda terrorist network, according to congressional and administration sources.

In addition, the leaders of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) and Vice Chairman John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), are considering making their own request for a Justice investigation."

I haven't written anything about the Feith memo, as published by the Weekly Standard, because if there's much to it, it's A Big Deal and I wanted to wait until the dust settles a bit. Even if there's a fair bit of truth in it, though, I think it raises as many questions as it answers. But beyond that, here's an interesting question: Who's more likely to have leaked to the Weekly Standard, a Democrat on the Intelligence Committee or a neocon in Feith's Office of Special Plans?
You go, General
I'm a Dean guy, but Wes Clark justifiably unloads on Fox News (video clip) in a way more Democrats ought to.
Drugs Along the Potomac
First it was Rush....

Colin Powell in an interview with a Saudi newspaper:

A Memorial to Politics (washingtonpost.com):
"'So do you use sleeping tablets to organize yourself?' Al-Rashed asked.

'Yes. Well, I wouldn't call them that,' Powell said. 'They're a wonderful medication -- not medication. How would you call it? They're called Ambien, which is very good. You don't use Ambien? Everybody here uses Ambien. [emphasis mine]'"

How would you call it? Here's how the manufacturer calls it: Ambien is the #1 prescribed sleep aid in America. They also say
AMBIEN is classified as a Schedule IV substance by government regulation. Please ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have questions about this. People who abuse prescription sleep aids may become dependent. When you first start taking AMBIEN, use extreme care while doing anything that requires complete alertness until you know how you will react to this medication.
Some special concerns that may arise while taking sleep medicines include memory problems, tolerance, dependence, withdrawal, and changes in behavior and thinking.

I really, really wonder who he means when he says "Everybody here uses Ambien".

Monday, November 17, 2003
Rush is back on the air...
...proving, once again, that the US is a nation of laws, not men, unless the men happen to be rich.

That "click" you hear is brains all over the country switching off.

Sunday, November 16, 2003
Hope for the next generation.
My boys are very curious - I think all kids are. And we encourage them to express themselves. A few days ago, I got the following:

This is a drawing of a Howard Dean rally by AJ, who's nearly 5. There's a flagpole at left with a US flag above a "Dean" flag. Just to the right of the flag, there's a person on a platform with "sound waves" over his head as he speaks. The stars in the center are fireworks, and the purple squiggle on the right is a snake. AJ appears to have confused Dr. Dean with St. Patrick, as the rally is driving the snake away.

Nick, who's 8, was a bit more ambitious. His stapled-together book, Right Wing: What do you think you're doing? is already a New York Times best-seller. Opening the book, we find this:

What this book is about:

This book is about politics and right wing propiganda and the war in Iraq. And how-to-select candidate running for presedent. [spelling and punctuation faithfully reproduced. -ed]
Chapter 1: The Lies Bush Said
Chapter 2: How to Select Your Candidate, with sections on Howard Dean, John Kerry, Wesley Clark, John Gepart, and Bush (for Reelection).
Chapter 3: What Bush Did Wrong

I didn't put them up to any of it, or help out at all. Hmm. Must be all that NPR, and the fact that their Mom and I actually discuss political issues around them. I'm tremendously proud of them.

RSS feeds
If you blog -- particularly if you want me to read your blog, though I can't imagine why you'd care -- please consider getting an RSS feed. There are a few places to get one freely and easily; I have experience with two of them. I get my feed from blogmatrix.com, and have been very happy with them. I (tried to) read a few blogs who get feeds through myRSS, and I hate the fact that they want to show you an ad before the feed. There are, plain and simple, more interesting blogs than there are hours in the day to read them. Using an RSS aggregator (I like bloglines) lets me look at more of them than I could otherwise.
What a difference six years makes.
Bill Clinton, 1997:
Cheering crowds greeted President Clinton this morning as he strolled through Sarajevo’s streets. His visit was one more sign that a semblance of peace as returned to Bosnia’s once war-torn capital. Mr. Clinton’s friendly welcome included a handmade sweater, the gift of a street vendor who expressed thanks to the President for America’s continuing military presence. Peace came to Bosnia two years ago after the signing of the Dayton Accords in Ohio. That agreement brought an end to three and a half years of civil conflict.

George W. Bush, 2003:

Home Secretary David Blunkett has refused to grant diplomatic immunity to armed American special agents and snipers travelling to Britain as part of President Bush's entourage this week.

In the case of the accidental shooting of a protester, the Americans in Bush's protection squad will face justice in a British court as would any other visitor, the Home Office has confirmed.

The issue of immunity is one of a series of extraordinary US demands turned down by Ministers and Downing Street during preparations for the Bush visit.

These included the closure of the Tube network, the use of US air force planes and helicopters and the shipping in of battlefield weaponry to use against rioters.

In return, the British authorities agreed numerous concessions, including the creation of a 'sterile zone' around the President with a series of road closures in central London and a security cordon keeping the public away from his cavalcade.

Saturday, November 15, 2003
In the Middle Class, More Are Deprived Of Health Insurance
And people say "if the economy improves, what are the Democrats going to run on?" Well, how about this:
In the Middle Class, More Are Deprived Of Health Insurance:
"Mr. Thornton is one of more than 43 million people in the United States who lack health insurance, and their numbers are rapidly increasing because of ever soaring cost and job losses. Many states, including Texas, are also cutting back on subsidies for health care, further increasing the number of people with no coverage.

The majority of the uninsured are neither poor by official standards nor unemployed. They are accountants like Mr. Thornton, employees of small businesses, civil servants, single working mothers and those working part time or on contract.

'Now it's hitting people who look like you and me, dress like you and me, drive nice cars and live in nice houses but can't afford $1,000 a month for health insurance for their families,' said R. King Hillier, director of legislative relations for Harris County, which includes Houston.

Paying for health insurance is becoming a middle-class problem, and not just here. 'After paying for health insurance, you take home less than minimum wage,' says a poster in New York City subways sponsored by Working Today, a nonprofit agency that offers health insurance to independent contractors in New York. 'Welcome to middle-class poverty.' In Southern California, 70,000 supermarket workers have been on strike for five weeks over plans to cut their health benefits."

There's a good model for managing health care costs more sanely, and all we have to do is look north to find it. Yes, medical care is rationed in Canada. The dirty little secret is, it's rationed in the US, too. Read that NYT article about how "Mr. Thornton" couldn't afford some of the tests his doctor thought he needed. The medical industry in the US isn't a free market, it's heavily regulated. The problem is that the regulation is all for the benefit of the medical industry, especially the large HMO's, insurers, and pharmaceutical companies.
Today's Go Read It!
Dave Johnson, over at Seeing the Forest, on "Who is our economy for?"
For fans of snopes.com and Junkyard Wars
I haven't seen it yet, but this looks pretty cool. Mythbusters is a new Discovery Channel show where these two guys actually try out various urban legends. Don't miss the photo of the rocket-powered Chevy Impala.....
Shorter David Brooks
There's a lot of partisan bickering in Washington. The Democrats should end it by surrendering.
One number isn't enough
There's a good piece by the Economic Policy Institute on why the current labor slump is worse than it looks based on just the unemployment rate. Going back to 1945, It's worth reading the rest. Then you may want to give a couple of bucks to the Democratic Party, or to Howard Dean.
Friday, November 14, 2003
And not to be outdone...
...by K-Lo (see previous item), Kiddie Peter Robinson whines on about the Confederate flag posters "advertising" Gov. Dean's visit to Dartmouth and claiming to have been created by "Generation Dean". A Dean spokesman said "And it's sad that whoever is behind this felt forced to resort to misrepresentation." Quoth Petey,
The Corner on National Review Online:
"'Misrepresentation?' What was the meaning of that remark? Didn't the doctor tell us he wanted to become the candidate of Confederate flag-wavers?"
One would have thought that a Dartmouth education would have enabled Petey to see that the misrepresentation was that whoever created the posters claimed they were created by Generation Dean.
Politics? Heavens!
You can't make this stuff up. K-Lo from the Kiddie Corner:
The Corner on National Review Online:
"Rick Santorum a few minutes ago pleaded with his Dem colleagues to 'Stop now.' He warned that if they don't stop the filibustering, when there is a Democratic president, the GOP will never allow another liberal top pass through the Senate. No more Ruth Bader Ginsburgs. Etc. I know what he was aiming for, but I'm just hoping the evening newscasts don't pick that up as their soundbite. The message will be: BOTH parties are all about partisan politics. Pols being pols. Yada. If only there were a soundbite of Charlie Schumer or one of the California Babses admitting that women and minorities who are conservative are simply unacceptable."
Classic up-is-down-ism. Let's hope the news doesn't pick up what our guy actually said, while wishing there was a soundbite of what we wish the other guys said. But it's the other side that's partisan.
Just amazing
Different Strings picks up an item from the Beeb that says that Bush is going to meet with families of British solders who have been killed in Iraq during his state visit there.

Of course, he hasn't met with any of the families of US soldiers killed in Iraq. Or gone to any of their funerals. Or even sent Dick. Guess they're too busy fundraising.

The sort of vermin that other vermin cross the street to avoid
CBS News | GOP's DeLay Using Kids To Get $$$? | November 14, 2003 12:33:27
House Majority Leader Tom DeLay has organized a charity that benefits abused and neglected children – and the Republican Party, the New York Times reports.

The newspaper said potential donors were being asked to give up to $500,000 to spend time with DeLay at the GOP convention in New York City next year. DeLay's office said most of the funds collected will go to children, but money from the charity will also be used to pay for GOP yacht cruises, convention parties and a luxury suite.

Bill Frist is apparently considering a similar deal with a charity to "benefit" AIDS victims. This has the benefit of making contributions tax-deductible. It's also viewed as a way for campaigns to play fast and loose with the regulations covering "soft money" donations.

Personally, I think you have to be a moral imbecile not to think there's something wrong with soliciting funds for abused children and using that as a tool for access to a Congressman.

Bad political theater
Gee, it turns out that after having had them brought in with as much media fanfare as they could muster, the Republicans didn't use the cots they had set up outside the Senate chamber at all.

Color me....not surprised.

Black box voting
Nice catch over at MemeMachineGo about how the black-box voting bill is stuck in committee despite having 61 cosponsors. I'm sure that the fact that all 61 cosponsors are Democrats has no relationship whatsoever to the fact that the voting machine companies are all owned by folks who have made large contributions to the Republicans.
Friends, the brain cell trend out there is not encouraging
BBC NEWS | Americas | US babies get global brand names :
"Americans are increasingly turning to the world of popular culture to name their children, a study has found."
Someone at the Beeb went through Social Security records and found, among other things, According to psychology professor Cleveland Evans, "It is no different from the 19th century when parents named their children Ruby or Opal... it reflects their aspirations."
Thursday, November 13, 2003
Dems with a sense of humor
The Democratic Senators had t-shirts made that say We confirmed 98% of Bush's judges... (front)

...and all we got was this lousy t-shirt.

Hey, thanks for keeping the rest of us from getting the lousy judges, guys.

More 9/11 hijinx from the administration
Different Strings has some good thoughts about the "arrangement" the White House has offered the 9/11 investigating committee about the President's daily briefings. Come on, guys, just let them see the whole thing. What have you got to hide?
The 180 is official
Not that they'll ever admit to changing their minds, even when there's a good reason, but it looks like we've officially done a 180 now on Iraqi elections. After months of "Constitution, then elections" (which has the benefit of making sense), we're changing to "elections first" (which appears to have the benefit of being what the Iraqis want).

The only thing that really worries me about this is that I don't know to what extent the "clamor" for early elections is being orchestrated by the puppets on the IGC, who seem to be absent from Iraq as often as not. If they manage to have real elections of some sort -- with the non-trivial question of "elections for what?" still hanging out there -- that will be A Good Thing. If it turns out to be another attempt to coronate Ahmad Chalabi, well, then, it won't.

The other disturbing thought that comes to mind about this is that if we don't have the "insurgency" settled by time for the election, it will make a great opportunity for disruption. And what will the effect on the Iraqis be if we announce a date for elections then have to delay it for security reasons?

FGoPx News?
Mike02's Xanga Site:
"'It is important to double efforts to get your boss to S-230 on time ... Fox News Channel is really excited about this marathon and Brit Hume at 6 would love to open with all our 51 senators walking onto the floor -- the producer wants to know will we walk in exactly at 6:02 when the show starts so they get it live to open Brit Hume's show? Or if not, can we give them an exact time for the walk-in start?'"
Who knew that relaxing the media ownership rules would let Fox own the GOP?

via Atrios

Who's giving to whom?
Here's an interesting application. This map uses a two-color scale to show which counties have been giving to Republicans and which to Democrats during this primary season. You can also ask it which counties are giving the most to particular campaigns. The data is also available at the state and first-3-digits-of-ZIP-code levels.
Domestic Terrorism Update
CNN.com - Suspected abortion clinic bomb plotter arrested - Nov. 12, 2003:
"A man arrested on suspicion of plotting to bomb abortion clinics came 'perilously close to carrying out his plans' after casing clinics, studying bomb-making and buying material that could be used in an attack, according to the FBI and court documents.

Stephen John Jordi, 35, was arrested Tuesday after agents arranged a meeting aboard a boat, FBI spokeswoman Beverly Esselbach said. He jumped overboard and was pulled from the ocean by the Coast Guard a half-hour later.

Jordi was in the final stages of planning imminent attacks, U.S. Attorney Marcos Jimenez said. A criminal complaint said Jordi cased several South Florida clinics and discussed bombing one in Macon, Ga.

On Tuesday, Jordi and an FBI source bought gasoline cans, flares, starter fluid and propane tanks -- including a large one filled with propane gas, the affidavit said. The source also provided Jordi a .45-caliber pistol, silencer and empty magazines in exchange for $200, the affidavit says. Jordi was arrested later that day.

The affidavit said Jordi had discussed with an FBI source possibly using C-4 plastic explosives, propane tank bombs or pipe bombs and had studied bombing methods throughout the fall. "

Well, well, well. Good news indeed, and kudos to Ashcroft and the Department of Justice for actually preventing a terrorist act. But read on....
Jordi was charged with solicitation to commit a crime of violence; distribution of information relating to making and using explosives for arson; and possession of an unregistered firearm or destructive device.
Jordi's brother, Michael Jordi, said by telephone Wednesday that he told the FBI of the plot after learning about it in July. He said he and his brother have a poor relationship, and called him mentally unstable. He said the allegations didn't surprise him.
They didn't need the Patriot Act to catch this guy. And even though the Joint Terrorism Task Force was apparently heading up the investigation, there are no terrorism charges there. It really makes you wonder about double standards.

via Counterspin Central

Republican Senators...
...and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Night.
Thanks, Larry!
The wonderful Larry Niven story, Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex is now available online with Larry's permission.
Wednesday, November 12, 2003
Do as I say, not as I do?

thanks to The People's Republic of Seabrook

Notes from the Kiddie Corner
K-Lo reports about some outfit called the Committee for Justice, which allegedly "debunks" Tom Daschle's statement, “The use of the filibuster is not unprecedented; there have been numerous votes on cloture on judges in recent years.” And how do they do this? I'm glad you asked. They define the filibusters by Republicans as temporary filibusters (try and find that one in your copy of Senate Rules for Dummies), and claim that since Johnson withdrew the nomination of Abe Fortas after the cloture vote on him failed, that he was "not blocked by the minority".

The proper term for this would seem to be somewhere on a line between "baldfaced lie" and "bullshit".

Why should we have a third party?
Here's what folks in Canada were thinking. And yeah, in a lot of ways I think we could use a live third party in the US. Not the Greens as presently constituted, though.
Wow. Just wow.
ESPN.com - Gammons: Just the facts:
"Pedro Martinez leads all active pitchers in career ERA, winning percentage, lowest opponents' batting average, fewest baserunners per nine innings, lowest opponents' on-base, slugging and OPS. He has held opponents in his career to a .583 OPS -- which means every batter he has faced is slightly less dangerous than Cesar Izturis, whose career OPS is .589."
Dulce et Decorum
Absolute must-read, don't-miss-it, item of the day.
Had enough of Bush?
Take heart. Perhaps the world will end soon. Here's a list of end-of-the-world predictions for the near future.

Nice catalog of lots of past predictions, too.

The Matrix in 6 Minutes
With Legos. No, I'm not kidding.
Ah, those fiscally responsible Republicans
Government Outgrows Cap Set by President (washingtonpost.com):
"Confounding President Bush's pledges to rein in government growth, federal discretionary spending expanded by 12.5 percent in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, capping a two-year bulge that saw the government grow by more than 27 percent, according to preliminary spending figures from congressional budget panels.

The sudden rise in spending subject to Congress's annual discretion stands in marked contrast to the 1990s, when such discretionary spending rose an average of 2.4 percent a year. Not since 1980 and 1981 has federal spending risen at a similar clip. Before those two years, spending increases of this magnitude occurred at the height of the Vietnam War, 1966 to 1968."

I wonder how they're going to blame this one on Bill Clinton.
Baseball awards rant
And they haven't even gotten to the MVP yet. Sheesh.

First, let me say that I don't really have a problem with Roy Halladay winning the Cy Young. I think you can make a rational case for him, for Tim Hudson, and for Pedro Martinez. Personally, I'd put them Hudson-Martinez-Halladay, but they're realy all pretty close. So what's Esteban Loiaza doing in second place in the voting? Who are the 14 idiots who don't think Pedro Martinez was one of the top 3 pitchers in the league last year? And the 21 who don't think Hudson was? What are these people smoking?

It's OK, just let me catch my breath.

All right, AL Rookie of the Year. Let's get the idiots out of the way first: The two guys who left Matsui off their ballots, and the two guys who left Berroa off their ballots. I think Berroa was the right choice, but MLB really needs to fix two things:

  1. Clarify, once and for all, whether players from Japanese leagues are "rookies". Either make a statement that the Japanese leagues are considered comparable to MLB and therefore they're not rookies, or confirm that anyone playing their first year in MLB is a rookie regardless of whether they've played in a comparable league or not. The Japanese, in case you don't know, are very insulted by the notion that their players can come here and excel in MLB but still be considered "rookies" as though they'd never played at an MLB level before.
  2. Fix the writers. Writers who don't follow the rules should lose their votes. Matsui, by the rules, was a rookie this year. Anybody who publicly goes against the rules (like the people, every year it seems, who won't vote for a pitcher for MVP) should lose their votes. It's that simple.
Warning: major rant to come when Alex Rodriguez does not win the AL MVP.
The future's so bright, he's gotta wear shades
SunHerald.com - Your Biloxi Everything Guide :
"A new, top-secret CIA report from Iraq warns that growing numbers of Iraqis are concluding that the U.S.-led coalition can be defeated and are supporting the resistance.

The report paints a bleak picture of the political and security situation in Iraq and cautions that the U.S.-led drive to rebuild the country as a democracy could collapse unless corrective actions are taken immediately.

L. Paul Bremer, head of the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq, who arrived unexpectedly in Washington for strategy sessions on Tuesday, essentially endorsed the CIA's findings, said a senior administration official."

One could plausibly assume that, like Larry Lindsey, Anthony Zinni, and Erik Shinseki before him, Bremer is being "taken to the woodshed" for daring to dissent from the Approved Party Line that, well, everything is wonderful and the things that aren't are so much better than they were before and we've got the terrorists on the run and hey, what about that tax cut?
They don't make 'em like that any more
This, well, is your father's shirt advertisement.
Tuesday, November 11, 2003
And a partridge in a pear tree....

Great Whomping Jeebus, what do you do with 150 national security advisers and 200 "representatives from other US departments"? And a personal chef? Are you kidding me? Is this the president of the United States or the Holy Roman Emperor?


And this is for a visit to one of our allies
"American officials want a virtual three-day shutdown of central London in a bid to foil disruption of the visit by anti-war protestors. They are demanding that police ban all marches and seal off the city centre."
Ah, for the days when an American president was welcomed with open arms almost everywhere in the world.
More thoughts about veterans
Making the troops pay twice:
"If you notice there are more veterans to honor this Veterans Day than there were last year, thank the Bush administration and the Republican Congress.

If you want more help for those veterans, better ask the Democrats.

They're fighting President Bush, the Defense Department, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the GOP congressional leadership just to keep a shamefully inadequate veterans support system from getting worse.

When Democrats tried to insert health insurance and other personnel benefits into the $87 billion appropriation for Iraq and Afghanistan, the White House shot them down.

When Democrats tried to replace $1.3 billion of the $1.8 billion shortfall in the pending VA health care budget bill, the White House threatened a veto.

On and on it goes. Waits of six months to two years for some seekers of health care, even as the VA moves to close down facilities. Multiple hikes in drug co-pays. Exclusion of more than 160,000 'low-priority' vets from the health care system because the money's not there to cover them. Non-mandatory funding, meaning the budget must be fought for anew every year by those who care."

Hey, what did you expect from a President who couldn't even finish his Air National Guard duty?

Sure wish we had this guy in office instead.

Merriam-Webster defines "surrender"
Merriam-Webster has apparently removed the listing for "McJobs" from their listing of new words at their web site. Though they say they haven't removed it from the online dictionary available by subscription.

Huzzah for the Google cache.

previous item

What you get for trusting the GOP
New York City - GOP Eyes Ship For '04 Delegates:
"Republicans, including Majority Leader Tom DeLay and Rep. Vito Fossella, are considering docking a luxury cruise ship in New York Harbor where members of Congress and lobbyists could stay and play during the GOP convention next summer."
Mayor Bloomberg, who touted the increased revenue to NYC hotels and restaurants as one of the benefits of having the convention there, is reportedly "not amused".

When I think about the Republican congresscritters having a hidey-hole to go with their lobbyist buddies, safe from the prying eyes of the public and the press, I'm "not amused" either.

via Bad Culture

More freedom in Iraq?
Aljazeera.Net - Iraqi bound and gagged for protest :
"Asked on Tuesday why the man had been arrested and put into the back of a Humvee vehicle on Tahrir Square, the commanding officer told Reuters at the scene: 'This man has been detained for making anti-coalition statements.'"

Somehow, I don't think this is in the "winning hearts and minds" manual.

Veterans: Thank you.
Thank you to all who have served our country in the military, in both peacetime and in war.
Ted Rall's Crystal Ball
Which Founding Father Are You?

Which Founding Father Are You?
Take the quiz

via Ink from the Squid

The Mind Boggles
The Johns Hopkins News-Letter - Ann Coulter raises cheers, boos at MSE:
"Coulter also spoke at length in support of racial profiling. 'In the past twenty years, one-hundred percent of terrorist attacks against this country have been by Muslim extremists,' she said. 'Naturally, the democrats won't let us look for Muslim extremists. When there is a one-hundred percent chance that the next terrorist attack will be made by a Muslim extremist, it's no longer a profile, it's a description of the suspect.'"
Um...Ann...ever hear of Timothy McVeigh?
This is pretty sad
Adrants Steve Hall's Advertising Weblog including, internet marketing and online advertising with news, commentary, and opinion. :
"Following several prank calls and a query as to whether she offered it in chocalate, a Salt Lake City woman pulled a classified ad offering for sale, her excess breast milk. The 23-year-old woman said she was just trying to help those in need by selling her milk for one dollar per ounce or $350 for 400 onces.

The Salt Lake City Tribune has said it will not accept anymore ads for breast milk."

It's really a shame that we can't accept something as natural as breastfeeding as the normal state of things and treat it like adults.
Cheap Fun
Yes, it's the make-your-own-church-sign page.

via Dohiyi Mir

The National Review Cruise of....Death!
Absolute not-to-be-missed item of the day from World O'Crap.
Monday, November 10, 2003
Revenge for the Tank
I'm looking forward to seeing if we can't turn Bush's little costume party into the Dukakis-in-the-tank moment of 2004.
Boston.com / News / Politics / To Dean, a Bush image is fodder:
" Presidential contender Howard Dean plans to air television commercials showing footage of President Bush's landing on the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln -- images Bush deployed as a triumphant visual coda to the Iraq conflict but which Dean says are now powerful reminders of a war gone wrong."
Talking sense about the drug war
Mark Klieman has a very, very sane item about how the politicians and pundits who support both Rush and the War on Drugs should have to explain just why Florida law should not be enforced against him (to the fullest, since he's such a public figure and (ugh) role model).
Who's the "Candidate for the Common Man"?

via Atrios

When you can't even make your own puppets dance....
Alternatives to Iraqi Council Eyed (washingtonpost.com):
"Increasingly alarmed by the failure of Iraq's Governing Council to take decisive action, the Bush administration is developing possible alternatives to the council to ensure that the United States can turn over political power at the same time and pace that troops are withdrawn, according to senior U.S. officials here and in Baghdad.

The United States is deeply frustrated with its hand-picked council members because they have spent more time on their own political or economic interests than in planning for Iraq's political future, especially selecting a committee to write a new constitution, the officials added."

Amazing. They hand-picked these guys and put them in power, and now less than six months later they're preparing to throw them under the bus. And how stupid do you have to be to pick a bunch of guys who represent their own political and economic interests and then complain when they continue to do so? I mean, isn't that the Republican way?
Lies, and the Lying Liars Who...
Ocala Star Banner:
"In the lead-up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said U.S. forces would be welcomed by the Iraqi citizenry and that Saddam Hussein had large stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons.

Now, after both statements have been shown to be either incorrect or vastly exaggerated, Rumsfeld - with the same trademark confidence that he exuded before the war - is denying that he ever made such assertions.

In recent testy exchanges with reporters, Rumsfeld interrupted the questioners and attacked the premise of the questions if they dealt with his pre-war comments about weapons of mass destruction and Americans-as-liberators."

What I really don't understand is this: why do these people seem to feel the need to lie about practically everything, and why aren't more people upset about it?
43 Million People without Health Insurance
Yahoo! News - N.C. Woman Explains Anthrax Hoax : "
A woman charged with addressing a letter marked 'anthrax' to the White House told federal investigators she did it because she thought she could get better medical care in prison.

Rhonda Kay Smith told a Secret Service agent that she 'decided to make a plan to commit crimes until she was arrested in September in order to receive better medical treatment,' according to documents filed in federal court.

Smith was indicted last month on charges of using the mail to threaten the president and of threatening to use a weapon of mass destruction against the U.S. Postal Service.

Smith's letter, which tested negative for anthrax, read: 'I'm going to kill you! Mr. President Enjoy the Anthrax.'

Smith suffers from diabetes and lung problems. Her lawyer, Stephen Lindsay, said his client requires oxygen and takes various medications.

'I think it's fair to conclude that if you put all that together, you have another person like so many people in the country who, by the time they pay for their serious health problems, have nothing left to live on,' Lindsay said."
In an interview at Broughton [mental hospital], Smith told another Secret Service agent that she had seen a news report in which a doctor said "there are people who fall through the cracks in medical treatment and that prisoners receive better treatment than many people on the streets."

And people ask me how the Democrats can run against Bush if the economy improves?
If the Shoe Fits Dept.
Yahoo! News - McDonald's Decries Webster Over 'McJob' :
"McDonald's says it deserves a break from the unflattering way the latest Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary depicts its job opportunities. Among some 10,000 new additions to an updated version released in June was the term 'McJob,' defined as 'low paying and dead-end work.'

In an open letter to Merriam-Webster, McDonald's CEO Jim Cantalupo said the term is 'an inaccurate description of restaurant employment' and 'a slap in the face to the 12 million men and women' who work in the restaurant industry.
Walt Riker, a spokesman for McDonald's, said the Oak Brook, Ill.-based fast-food giant also is concerned that 'McJob' closely resembles McJOBS, the company's training program for mentally and physically challenged people.

'McJOBS is trademarked and we've notified them that legally that's an issue for us as well,' Riker said."

I see. This is a "slap in the face", but actually giving these people low paying, dead-end jobs with no benefits isn't. Oh, and the trademark issue is complete nonsense.
Sunday, November 09, 2003
Latest from the Freeway Blogger

via Billmon

Saturday, November 08, 2003
Digby hits one out of the park.
Over at Hullabaloo, you can see how Pentagon officals and officers including John Stenbit, the Assistant Secretary of Defense ($68,000), and Jack Dyer Crouch, another Assistant Secretary ($70,000) used Government money on first class airline tickets to which they were not entitled, while soldiers being flown home from Iraq had to pay for the last leg of their trips home out of their own pockets.

Support the troops. Get the Republicans out of office.

Politicizing Intelligence
Kevin Drum has a good analysis of why the flap over the Senate Intelligence Committee memo is a tempest in a teapot.
More Prince News
OK, this is funny.
Cut to the chase...
Whatever it is that Prince Charles is allegedly up to, Neil Gaiman gets right to the bottom of it (so to speak):
Not only are the allegations untrue but:
a) the goat was not, in fact, Spanish, but Portuguese, and is currently living safely in a wildlife preserve in East Molesey.

b) The Tango is a dance made famous in Argentina. "Erotic licking" plays no part in the Tango. Neither, of course, do balloons.

c) only a lunatic would apply shoe-polish to a weasel.

d) if the alleged incidents had in fact occurred in broad daylight during a car-boot sale in Harrow then there would be photographs, and quite possibly a plaster cast.

e) by now the "Use by" stamps on the yoghurt would have expired, indicating it as unfit for human consumption.

How much more of this success can we stand?
Welcome to AJC!: "An Army Black Hawk helicopter crashed Friday _ apparently shot down by insurgents--killing all six U.S. soldiers aboard and capping the bloodiest seven days in Iraq for Americans since the fall of Baghdad.

In retaliation, American troops backed by Bradley fighting vehicles swept through Iraqi neighborhoods before dawn Saturday, blasting houses suspected of being insurgent hideouts with machine guns and heavy weapons fire.

``This is to remind the town that we have teeth and claws and we will use them,'' said Lt. Col. Steven Russell, commander of the 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment."

Somehow, I'm dubious that "blasting houses suspected of being insurgent hideouts with machine guns and heavy weapons fire" is in the instruction manual for "how to win the hearts and minds of an occupied population" nor, I suspect, is it highly recommended in the Geneva Conventions. What's next, knocking down the houses of "suspected insurgents" and dumping their families in the streets? That's worked so well for the Israelis, after all....
Friday, November 07, 2003
The Times Stretches, Rubs its Eyes, and...
...actually looks at the world for a change. A fine, fine article by Michael R. Gordon hits a lot of important points, but I'll give you the money quote first:
Dispatches: Sending the Guard: "No doubt the Defense Department projects that the occupation force in 2005 will be a fraction of the current troop presence. But that is what the Defense Department initially projected for September 2003."
Other good things in the article:
For months, soldiers at Camp Doha, Kuwait, have been wearing T-shirts that say, "Operation Iraqi Freedom: Mission Accomplished." But recently a new T-shirt has appeared suggesting that the mission may be more open-ended.

It reads, "Operation Iraqi Freedom: Established 2003."

I'm a multimedia guy...
Today, the Times Union published my letter in response to this:
I'm really baffled by some of the sentiments expressed in the Nov. 2 letter saying liberals should get off Bush's back.

Most Americans -- including liberals -- didn't oppose going to war in Afghanistan, because there was a clear link between the Taliban and the attack on the World Trade Center. Many of us opposed going to war in Iraq for a number of reasons, but the most important ones were that it took resources from the hunt for Osama bin Laden and the remnants of al-Qaida in Afghanistan and that there was no clear case for going to war there.

There was never a realistic fear of an attack that "would cause millions of casualties in the U.S.A."; such an attack would have to be nuclear, and many people in the government knew that Saddam had no viable nuclear program, even if they were ignored by the people at the top.

So, now, six months after "mission accomplished," we have the Taliban regrouping in Afghanistan, no bin Laden, no Saddam, no evidence of cooperation between Saddam and al-Qaida, no weapons of mass destruction, not even any "WMD programs" and U.S. troops dying at a rate of better than one every day. And that's before looking at the deficit or the 2.6 million jobs lost since Bush has been in office.

Yes, I'm a liberal. And, yes, I'm politically opposed to George W. Bush. But I'm even more opposed to U.S. soldiers dying in the service of lies, which is exactly what's going on now in Iraq.

The more you learn, the more you don't know....
Turns out we apparently don't know what causes lighting, after all...
ScienceDaily News Release: Thunderstorm Research Shocks Conventional Theories; Florida Tech Physicist Throws Open Debate On Lightning's Cause:
"'What we've discovered is a new limit in nature. Just as a bucket can only hold so much water, the atmosphere can only hold a certain sized electric field. Beyond that, the electric field is stunted by the rapid creation of gamma-rays and a form of anti-matter called positrons,' he said."
The theory for years has been that "large" electrical fields existed in storm clouds, but no one has ever found them.
Hey, somebody else noticed!
I had some words earlier about the, um, contrast between Bush's rhetoric and his support of the death penalty. Turns out I wasn't the only one to notice it. From the 5 November press briefing....
"Q: Okay. If the administration is taking steps to build a culture of life, could you explain why the President supports the death penalty?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, again, because the President believes that it ultimately saves innocent lives. And that's why he supports it."

Umm, yeah. More midevalism ("the President believes" is clearly more significant than any stubborn facts), and a complete misreading or misuse of the phrase "the culture of life", which comes directly from the Evangelium Vitae encyclical. Say, how many encyclicals do you think Bush has read, anyway?
A public service
I'm sure all of you rolling in the returns from your Federal tax break will appreciate this. There's a new IRS form for direct deposit of tax refunds over $1,000,000.
Latest from the House of Really, Really Bad Ideas
White House Puts Limits on Queries From Democrats (washingtonpost.com):
"The Bush White House, irritated by pesky questions from congressional Democrats about how the administration is using taxpayer money, has developed an efficient solution: It will not entertain any more questions from opposition lawmakers.

The decision -- one that Democrats and scholars said is highly unusual -- was announced in an e-mail sent Wednesday to the staff of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees. House committee Democrats had just asked for information about how much the White House spent making and installing the 'Mission Accomplished' banner for President Bush's May 1 speech aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln."

Basically, rather than answering embarassing questions from the Democrats, they've decided to give the committee chairmen (all Republicans, of course) the power to decide what questions get asked. Jeebus, this is looking more and more like the way the Communist Party ran Russia every day.
Good(?) jobs news
September's payroll news was revised from 57,000 to 126,000 new jobs, and October's says 125,000 new jobs. Sound good? Well, better than back during the summer, and not bad until you compare it to what was promised as a result of Dr. Dubya's Magical Tax Cut Elixir:

Good news for HHttG fans (and aren't we all)?
The Register:
"Radio dramatisations of creator Douglas Adams' last three Hitch-hikers novels are now in production, with the first of the trio, Life, the Universe and Everything, due to be broadcast next Spring."
Good Union News for Dean!
Diverse Union Decides Dean Is Its Candidate: "One day after Howard Dean scrambled to stanch a controversy over his remarks about the Confederate flag, he secured a critical endorsement from the most diverse labor group in the country, the 1.6-million-member Service Employees International Union.

Dr. Dean, the Democratic former governor of Vermont, also learned on Thursday that the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, was likely to endorse him next week."

Some good news about Texas for a change
Kudos to these folks. As one of the largest states, the decisions Texas makes regarding textbooks effectively govern what is available for other states to use.
CNN.com - Texas textbook vote ruffles religious activists - Nov. 6, 2003 : "The State Board of Education voted Thursday to approve biology textbooks, despite criticism from religious activists who say the books as written fail to present the anti-evolution point of view."
Thursday, November 06, 2003
The Economist: liberal media?
Economist.com | America's deficits
This time the turnaround will be much tougher. There will be no “peace dividend” from the end of the cold war (indeed, the pressure on military spending may continue to increase). America is unlikely to see another stockmarket bubble, with its surge in tax revenues. As baby-boomers retire, the pressure from entitlement spending will be more acute. Set against this background, the path back to a sustainable fiscal policy will be extremely painful, even without any dramatic fiscal crisis. Long after Dubya is back on his ranch, Americans will be trying to recover from the mess he created.
via Atrios
Loopier than the average bear...
Yes, it appears to be entirely serious.


Let's see if I can reproduce the effect....

The non-moving earth 

& anti-evolution web page...


Read all about the Copernican and Darwinian Myths

(and their many ramifications all the way to Big Bangism!)

Kinsley, Goldberg, Dean, and the Confederate Flag
Michael Kinsley, a writer whose pens Jonah Goldberg is not fit to fill with ink, famously defined a "gaffe" as when someone unintentionally tells the truth. Herewith, an illustration (emphasis mine):
Jonah Goldberg's Goldberg File on National Review Online
If Dean had studied the Republican line more closely, he'd know that Republicans don't embrace the flag because it is racist — or at least they never, ever, say that — but explicitly because it represents things other than race: heritage, pride, honor, etc.

I haven't said much about the Dean flap over the Confederate flag, largely because it's been well covered in a lot of other places. But since I am a Dean supporter and grew up in the South (North Carolina), I suppose I should say something.

Not everybody in the South is racist, but a lot of people still are. Not in a virulent, lynch mob sort of way, but in a more genteel sort of racism that guarantees that (for example) Al Sharpton couldn't get elected governor of a Southern state if the guy running against him was convicted of molesting young girls. During the campaign.

Not everybody who displays a Confederate flag is a racist. When I left to go to college in upstate New York, my parents gave me a Confederate flag to hang up in my dorm room. It was mostly a joke. Mostly. The problem is that the people who really are the racists, who have used that Confederate battle flag as an emblem of many truly evil things, were also for a long time the people who ran things across a lot of the South. Remember, George Wallace and Lester Maddox were governors of their states. Jesse Helms was a long-time Senator. Some of them (Wallace, Strom Thurmond) I believe made an honest effort to change their stripes, with more or less success. Some (Helms) just learned to hide it. But the problem is that these people are the ones who established the Stars and Bars as the symbol of "Southern-ness". It's as though there was no symbol of Germany for people to display other than the Swastika, to use an imperfect analogy. So what we have is people who, in looking for a symbol of cultural identity, have no real alternative other than to promulgate the symbol of the racists.

Should a Democratic candidate want the votes of these people? What a stupid question. Of course we should want the votes of these people. We should want the votes of everybody. What we shouldn't do is pander to them in order to get their votes, same as anybody else. In fact, by effectively attacking these people, by talking like there's something inherently wrong with displaying the Confederate flag, we're only going to drive them more deeply into the shell of ignorance (of its true meaning) and defiance. If we want to change these people - and I'd certainly argue that we should do that - we need to make common ground with them. As Dean said, point out to them that their kids are without health insurance just like the African-American kids in their town. Then we can talk to them about change.

By their fruits you shall know them....
Now, I'm not going to suggest that anyone should vote a particular way just because of this, but for the geeks in the audience, here's a tidbit from Linux Journal about campaign web sites: Oh, and the Republican National Committee runs IIS/Windows 2000, while the Democratic National Committee runs Apache/Linux.

As Doc Searls says, "Draw your own conclusions."

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