Thursday, November 30, 2006

I love Defamer's writing on movies:
Hollywood Out Of Ideas, Now They're Really, Really Out Of Ideas, We Mean It This Time Edition: Paramount, Eddie Murphy, and producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura will work closely to "reinvigorate" and "update" the Beverly Hills Cop franchise. We expect that Paramount will immediately hire Moby to re-record the "Axel F" theme, put in a call to Josh Hartnett's people to gauge his interest in being "the next Judge Reinhold," and deposit $30 million in Murphy's bank account to prove to the star how important retaining the integrity of the franchise is to them.


Oh, Christ, now they've got al-Maliki talking in Friedmans!
"Tell Me the Best Sci Fi You've Read Recently" lists are always fun, especially when they're on Pharyngula

Not Good Vs. Evil

I think that one reason, at least, that Bush is so hesitant to give up the battle against the civil war moniker is that civils wars are not, in my understanding, battles of civilization vs. barbarism, at least from the perspective of history. There is barbarism inherent in civil war (see, well, all of 'em), but they are battles between groups of people, between "different" civilizations, each with their own fringe and centrist and pacifist and brutal groups.

Bush would no role to play in such a world stage, because he has only one note, and that does not include reconciliation between disagreeing parties that both have a right to exist.

Another Post to Demonstrate My "Ineffable" Tag

This glorious image is from a Sadly, No! post called "A Thursday Jim Nabors Moment." The caption there is:
“Surpraaahs, surpraaahs!”

Pony Plan

John Arovosis tries to summarize the Iraq Study Group's recommendations (as they were described today in the Times):
Tell the Iraqis we're pulling out, yes we are, but don't make any real plans to pull out because that would be setting a deadline/timetable, and those are bad things, unless they're good things. The fact that the Iraqis think WE have a deadline, that's good, because it will inspire them to fight harder. (I suppose we're just assuming that the Iraqis are stupid and that they don't read the New York Times and thus they don't know that Bush's threat to withdraw is apparently a feint.) But at the same time, the insurgency won't, somehow (I'm assuming with the help of magic pixie dust) find out that we have set a timetable for withdrawal (or then again, we haven't) and thus insurgents won't just wait for us to cut and run before they fight even harder.

A bit more trouble on the horizon, the plan wants us to kind of, sort of withdraw some of our troops, maybe to big bases in Iraq, or even to move them to surrounding countries. Well, that doesn't sound like bringing our boys home, and let's not forget, this war is costing us hundreds of billions of dollars that we don't have, and our military is already overstretched and can't really fight any more wars, so how does this solution solve those problems? It doesn't. It also begs the very large question of, if our troops are withdrawing to finally get them the hell out of Iraq, then why deploy them on the periphery of Iraq, unless you're considering sending them back in, if needed, and if you are, then here we go all over again.

And finally, to the extent Bush does adopt a partial troop withdrawal, where does that leave the remaining tens of thousands of US service members still in Iraq? It leaves them with fewer comrades to support them. So in that sense, this is Vietnam in reverse. Rather than upping our engagement slowly, to death, we're going to withdraw-but-not-withdraw slowly, to death.

GaETC Evening Social

GaETC Evening Social, originally uploaded by Old Shoe Woman.

(via Suicide Bots)

In All Her Glory

Glistening Death, originally uploaded by furryscalyman.

(Original title was "Glistening Death")

Ken Levine:
I’m only sorry Kurt Cobain left us before he could give the world his Christmas album.

Beirut Tension

From Angry Arab:
My friend in Lebanon today told me that he went into an internet cafe in Beirut. On the door, there was a sign. It said: "It is strictly forbidden to discuss politics inside." That is how tense the situation is. At IC (a private high school in Beirut), students were instructed that they can't discuss political affairs.

Not an Eavesddropping Scandal, but a Lawbreaking Scandal

One more time, with gusto!

Glenn Greenwald:
It is truly astounding to watch people incapable of understanding the point that the reason it is wrong and dangerous for the President to eavesdrop on Americans without warrants is because doing so is against the law. Shouldn't that be a simple enough proposition that every functioning adult ought to be capable of understanding it? It doesn't mean that everyone has to agree with that proposition -- if people want to continue to cling to the theory that the President is unbound by the law concerning matters of national security, obviously they are free to do so.

But there is no excuse for failing to comprehend the objections to the President's behavior, particularly since the central objection is not all that complicated. To the contrary, it is what we all learn in seventh-grade civics. One more time: the principal problem with the President's warrantless eavesdropping is not that he is abusing the secret eavesdropping powers he seized (that is something we do not yet know, because the Congress has not yet investigated that question). Instead, the "problem" is that the President is engaging in the very conduct which the American people, through their Congress almost 30 years ago, made it a felony to engage in, punishable by up to five years in prison -- that is, eavesdropping on Americans without judicial oversight.

Shrine for CopyBot

In the Guardian article "Real Life Crashes into Second Life," Alex Krotoski is worshipping the virus/chaos-maker CopyBot:
Second Life has reached a philosophical crisis and the result is potential civil war.

The formerly libertarian landscape has been overrun by rampaging nouveau-capitalists. They want centralised governance and stern economic ruling. Everyone is a potential thief. Fingers are being pointed and, in some extreme cases, avatars are being attacked. The digital idyll has become a world of accusations, violence and bitter political dispute.

And so, once again, the real world comes crashing in. Sooner or later, most online communities reach this crisis point because the ideals of the founders are replaced by regulations demanded by the different types of people who interact in them. We shouldn't be surprised; what we do when we interact online is replicate the social practices we are familiar with offline. Inspired by this milestone, I'm going to add a wing to my new lab. And inside will be a shrine to CopyBot, the little hack that transformed Second Life into a real world.

("Real Life" is not just an ignorant article writer's comment on the relative importance of Second Life, but actually a technical term to Second Life users. RL, for short, as opposed to SL. )

Early Words on an Open Source Second Life

A different post about Second Life worries that the innovative platform is too closed, and suggests that it's time to build an open source version of Second Life. The reasons why aren't that well supported in the post, but it does seem like a realization that the big problem with Second Life (as with any similar world) is that they really are run under the dictatorship control of whoever created the world -- and that can create a lot of problems and limitations, because any time there's a central controlling entity, no matter how "free" they are, it can cause problems. Remember a year ago when Second Life threatened to have someone arrested after that person exploited Linden Labs' own security flaw? Perhaps one way to think of it is that Second Life is similar to the early closed online services like Prodigy, AOL and Delphi. Eventually, they all were forced to move towards the open internet that no one controlled (some slower than others). An "open source" Second Life could certainly represent the internet in such a scenario, taking away the more limited situation of Second Life, and allowing for much more interesting social and economic experiments.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Discourse Is Getting Worse, Post-Election

This Blame Iraq First shit is making me sick. Comments like "the problem is fundamentally the ability of the Iraq government to maintain law and order in their own country!" are some of most vile being made right now. Could there be any worse direction to look as this whole disaster grows? Keep an eye out.

Also, I'm believing that the Wall Street Journal's OpinionJournal is one the bastions of the most nauseous op-eds around. Victor Davis Hanson writes:
Losing the Enlightenment
A civilization that has lost confidence in itself cannot confront the Islamists.

Our current crisis is not yet a catastrophe, but a real loss of confidence of the spirit. The hard-won effort of the Western Enlightenment of some 2,500 years that, along with Judeo-Christian benevolence, is the foundation of our material progress, common decency, and scientific excellence, is at risk in this new millennium.


In the most affluent, and leisured age in the history of Western civilization--never more powerful in its military reach, never more prosperous in our material bounty--we have become complacent, and then scared of the most recent face of barbarism from the primordial extremists of the Middle East.

Or does the anger stem from the fact, that until last week, the Democrats had not elected congressional majorities in 12 years, and they've occupied the White House in only eight of the last 26 years. The left's current unruliness seems a way of scapegoating others for a more elemental frustration--that without scandal or an unpopular war they cannot so easily gain a national majority based on European-based beliefs. More entitlements, higher taxes to pay for them, gay marriage, de facto quotas in affirmative action, open borders, abortion on demand, and radical secularism--these liberal issues, at least for the moment, still don't tend to resonate with most Americans and so must be masked by opponents' scandals or overshadowed by a controversial war.


What are the proximate causes here in America that send liberal criticism over the edge into pathological hysteria? Is it only that George Bush is a singular polarizing figure of Christian and Texan demeanor? Or is the current left-wing savagery also a legacy of the tribal 1960s, when out-of-power protestors felt that expressions of speaking bluntly, even crudely, were at least preferable to "artificial" cultural restraint?


By past definitions of relative power, al-Qaeda and its epigones were weak and could not defeat the West militarily. But their genius was knowing of our own self-loathing, of our inability to determine their evil from our good, of our mistaken belief that Islamists were confused about, rather than intent to destroy, the West, and most of all, of our own terror that we might lose, if even for a brief moment, the enjoyment of our good life to defeat the terrorists. In learning what the Islamists are, many of us, and for the first time, are also learning what we are not. And in fighting these fascists, we are to learn whether our freedom can prove stronger than their suicide belts and improvised explosive devices. So we have been given a reprieve of sorts with this war, to regroup; and, in our enemies, to see our own past failings and present challenges; and to rediscover our strengths and remember our origins. We can relearn that we are not fighting for George Bush or Wal-Mart alone, but also for the very notion of the Enlightenment--and, yes, in the Christian sense for the good souls of those among us who have forgotten all that as they censor cartoons and compare American soldiers to Nazis.
I've watched and listened to a lot of terrible people with horrifying thoughts. I've tried to understand whether I am "like my enemy" to describe them as such. And I've developed a strong stomach for such dark-hearted vitriol.

But the discussions arising post-election are really stunning to me.

"That's Between Me and My Boy, Mr. President,"

James Webb: Don't buddy-buddy with me, asshole.

The Strategic Complexity of a Children's Bedtime Story

In writing on Bush's suggestion that somehow it's Al-Qaeda that's causing the "tough" situation in Iraq right now, Josh Marshall writes:
I really never thought this country could be run for a significant period of time by a president who seems captive of dingbat conspiracy theories and the strategic complexity of a children's bedtime story."
He adds, however:
To the extent that we can read 'al Qaida' as a gloss for 'people blowing things up' this is no doubt true to a certain extent. But that's sort of like the president saying not to blame the Katrina debacle on him when it was mainly the hurricane's fault.
(via The Reaction)

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Bill Keller, executive editor of the NY Times, acknowledging that the paper will use the term "civil war":
We expect to use the phrase sparingly and carefully, not to the exclusion of other formulations, not for dramatic effect. The main shortcoming of “civil war” is that, like other labels, it fails to capture the complexity of what is happening on the ground. The war in Iraq is, in addition to being a civil war, an occupation, a Baathist insurgency, a sectarian conflict, a front in a war against terrorists, a scene of criminal gangsterism and a cycle of vengeance. We believe “civil war” should not become reductionist shorthand for a war that is colossally complicated.

In My Opinion

You can always tell when Bush is saying something that he knows to be bullshit. He includes "in my opinion," as if his opinion on, say, the forces underlying violence in the Middle East is worth jack shit. Bush in his useless blatherings today:
There's a lot of sectarian violence taking place, fomented in my opinion because of the attacks by al Qaeda, causing people to seek reprisal.
Completely lost.
We can accept nothing less than victory for our children and our grandchildren.
Another example from the same press conference today ("Estonia is a strong ally in the War on Terror"):
That's why you see violence in Lebanon. There's a young democracy in Lebanon, run by Prime Minister Siniora. And that government is being undermined, in my opinion, by extremist forces encouraged out of Syria and Iran. Why? Because a democracy will be a major defeat for those who articulate extremist points of view.
Tristero writes a post called "Just How Sick Is the Discourse in this Country?":
This sick. The influential right sez, "Fine, just blow the place up." A leading liberal hawk sez, "Bring back Saddam Hussein!"

And there you have it, specific proposals from the right and the left about what to do in the Middle East. Blow it up? Or put it back the way it was? Let's put on our most somber mien and discuss it!

And they call those of us who knew this thing was crazy from the start "third-rate minds."

No wonder "sober centrists" congeal around adding 20,000 troops and waiting one more Friedman Unit to see what happens. If these are the only alternatives on the table - because the people who were right all along are all but entirely excluded from the mass media and the government - is it any wonder that the middle position between two stupid ideas is an equally stupid idea?

Special note to the cognitively impaired who read the above and concluded I think Chait somehow represents the left or liberals. I am well aware that while Limbaugh accurately represents the right in all its Cro-Magnon stupidity, Chait is speaking only for himself. However, in the msm, Chait is the prototypical liberal hawk. So his semi-serious - according to him - proposal to return Saddam to power will be considered as a liberal idea, and denounced as, you've got it, a perfect example of how unserious and dictatorial liberals are. Kee-rist, what a fucking moron.

Press != Stenographers for Governments

ThinkProgress notes a non-NBC news organization's attempts to explain why they aren't calling the war in Iraq a civil war:
Today on MSNBC’s Hardball, Washington Post national security reporter Dana Priest explained that her newspaper does not use the phrase “civil war” to describe the current violence in Iraq in part because Iraqi government officials say it is not a civil war.

Priest said she “absolutely” believes the “level of violence [in Iraq] equals a civil war.” But she acknowledged that the Post has “not labeled it a civil war,” explaining, “We try to avoid the labels, particularly when the elected government itself does not call its situation a civil war.”

Government officials in Iraq have a direct interest in avoiding the characterization of violence there as a civil war. The Washington Post’s job is not to act as stenographers for officials in positions of power, but rather to report facts as they exist on the ground.
It hurts! Please, please, please stop using the title "String Theory" as a half-assed pun when you're writing an article or an editorial about something related to a stringed instrument.

It's just not clever anymore, and it just makes me feel really sleepy.

Monday, November 27, 2006

They Say That Late at Night, the Hippies Still Walk the Halls

One thing that should be noted is that Chait, like many of his DC brethren, has what seems to be temperamental aversion to the dirty hippies of the left. During the Bush years he has gone slightly cuckoo over Deaniacs, anti-war protesters, Lieberman ousters and grassroots troublemakers in general. I don't know the guy, but from reading his stuff it appears to be the result of a reflexive emotional reaction.

This is one of the fault lines that exists in liberalism today --- the knee jerk assumptions by the elites about the grassroots populists and vice versa. The problem for the party, however, is that opinion makers like Chait are taken seriously by policymakers while the grassroots troublemakers are not and the result is that their visceral dislike of our ilk comes into play in important ways. I happen to think that Chait's disgust with the activist left leads him to make incorrect decisions. He's not in the same league as someone like Richard Cohen, but then Richard Cohen has become something of a joke, whose inexplicable sinecure on the op-ed pages of the Washington Post mostly serves as fishwrap. TNR, on the other hand, is listened to by Democratic policymakers and Chait's overheated reactions to the grassroots should be addressed.

He and others -- he's far from alone --- should try to see things with clearer eyes. This is not the early 70's and grassroots progressivism in 2006 isn't a youth or a social movement. It is passionate and it is populist, at least in a stylistic sense but it is not radical or anti-intellectual. The liberal pundit class is making a number of errors in judgments at least in part because they are emotionally recoiling from being associated with what they see as dirty hippies. This is a problem.
An astonishing litany: Calling Bullshit on America.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

That One Time I Got To Wear That Army Jacket

George W. Bush, Thanksgiving 2003
"Surprise" visit

(thanks, Americablog)
For certain concepts like Net Neutrality, it's valuable to keep on working on ways to more clearly describe it. Cory Doctorow, in a BoingBoing post on the even non-neutrality would have on online gaming:
Net Neutrality is the idea that your ISP sends you the packets you ask for as well as it can. A non-neutral net is one where ISPs take bribes to make some services better and degrade the rest.
I'm a big fan of the series of Dunkin' Donuts ads with They Might Be Giants songs - they're fun, they're odd, and it's great to see TMBG back in the public eye. But the new one, focusing on the
strange mix of French and Italian used in coffeeshops like Starbucks, completely rubs me the wrong way.

It's too literal, and too mean-spirited. Its the equivalent of a negative campaign ad in the course of their generally positive sequence.

They're trying for that "we're down to earth American-ness" thing, as opposed to some elite, European advertising straw man, but in this country of immigration debate and Minutemen, mentioning explicitly that people should come to Dunkin Donuts because they "speak English" rings a little xenophobic, or worse.
Bush stops off in Hawaii as he returns to his loving country, and things go badly for those around him.
Three police motorcycle officers were injured when they crashed on slick pavement while escorting his motorcade on Tuesday. Two were taken by ambulance to a local hospital, where one was described as in serious condition and another was described as stable.

Does this stuff happen often?
Also, acting White House Travel Office Director Gregg Pitts was beaten and robbed by at least two men while out in Honolulu Monday night. Pitts suffered head and other injuries in the attack. He was awake and alert but remained behind at a Honolulu hospital because of a possible concussion, White House spokesman Tony Fratto said.

"Games for Girls" Gets Worse, Glamour-Style

Glamour magazine tries to get into the game - the game being that condescending "Games for Girls" bullshit that Gamestop is already playing.

I'm all for Nintendo making money with larger markets, but this is a terrible piece. The lede reads:
Game On
Want a night to remember? Turf the boys out, turn the lights low and throw a cocktail party your friends will never forget. How? It's easy with Nintendo Wii...

Kotaku, whom I got this ad from, helpfully transcribes the "5 Reasons why every girl needs a Wii?"
  • 1. Because isn't about time we had something he wants, but can't get his hands on?
  • 2. Price per play it's cheaper than a swanky gym membership
  • 3. Price per laugh it's better than a night out on the town
  • 4. It's one more reason for the girls to come round and the boys to go out
  • 5. Forget a designer sofa, this is the only home accessory a girl needs
Sheesh, Glamour. Didn't you forget #6, "You can use the Wii box for your overflowing shoe collection?"

Don't miss the copy from the article:
Choose from dozens of glamorous, female-friendly computer games...

Do Not Misunderstand, Do Not Forget, Do Not Repeat

Glenn Greenwald, in a post called "Whitewashing Iraq on the Washington Post Op-Ed Page," sees an Op-Ed by Robert Kaplan as illustrative of a particularly dangerous revisionism on Iraq:
What the failure of Iraq demonstrates is not -- as Kaplan so earnestly suggests today -- that the rosy-eyed, slightly naive but well-intentioned neonconservative idealists just need to be a little more restrained in their desire to do Good in the world. It demonstrates that they are deceitful, radical and untrustworthy warmongers who led this country into the worst strategic disaster in its history and should never be trusted with anything ever again. And it equally demonstrates that starting wars with no justification and with no notion of self-defense is an idea that is as destructive as it is unjust.

There is really no limit to the willingness of neonconservatives and the pro-war foreign policy geniuses who enabled them to spew untruths in an attempt to rehabilitate themselves and their militarism. Here Kaplan is making claims that are the exact opposite -- literally -- of what actually happened that led to the war and what those, like him, argued to justify that war. That they are still given space to do this by The Washington Post, and treated as "serious" foreign policy scholars, remains one of the most perplexing and dangerous outcomes of this war.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

For Your Quiver

92 year-old Donald Crowdis, from the Don to Earth blog, relates this marvelous tale:
A young clergyman had preached a trial sermon at a prominent, not to say prosperous, church, and he was sure it had gone well. After the service, he stood at the door and shook hands with the parishioners as they filed out. At the end of the line was a little old lady, who held his hand, looked up at him, and quavered, "Young man, has anyone ever told you how wonderful you are?" "Why no," he said, nearly choking in his attempt to be modest. She replied, "Then how did you ever get the idea?" Now how could anyone improve on that put-down?

Is There A Draft?

Greenwald notes what "Franklin Roosevelt, an actual 'War President' -- as opposed to one who plays that role for political profit and personal fulfillment -- said when he accepted the Democratic nomination to run for President again in 1940. He expressly ran on a platform of re-instating the draft."

Monday, November 20, 2006

I love Techdirt's titles: If You Liked This Post, Perhaps You'd Like To Look At The History Of Failed Recommendation Systems

Who Else Could Have Won? Nobody Does It Better

Michael Bérubé presents some important awards:

The NCTE Doublespeak Award, established in 1974, is an ironic tribute to public speakers who have perpetuated language that is grossly deceptive, evasive, euphemistic, confusing, or self-centered.

This year’s Doublespeak Award recognizes George W. Bush for the extraordinary speech he delivered in Jackson Square, New Orleans, on September 15, 2005. After two weeks in which the Gulf Coast was devastated, first by Hurricane Katrina and floodwaters and then by an incompetent federal response, President Bush arrived in New Orleans for a series of emergency photo ops orchestrated to give the impression that something was being done, that somebody was in charge. At one point, a team of firefighters, flown from Atlanta to Biloxi as disaster-relief reinforcements, was actually assigned to follow the President around as he walked through the area with his sleeves rolled up.

President Bush capped off his administration’s response to Katrina in a nationally televised speech in which he said:

“In the work of rebuilding, as many jobs as possible should go to the men and women who live in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.. When communities are rebuilt, they must be even better and stronger than before the storm. Within the Gulf region are some of the most beautiful and historic places in America. As all of us saw on television, there’s also some deep, persistent poverty in this region, as well. That poverty has roots in a history of racial discrimination, which cut off generations from the opportunity of America. We have a duty to confront this poverty with bold action. So let us restore all that we have cherished from yesterday, and let us rise above the legacy of inequality.”

A week earlier, on September 8, the President had issued an executive order suspending the 1931 Davis-Bacon Act, thereby allowing federal contractors rebuilding in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina to pay below the prevailing wage.

Perhaps most remarkably, the President’s speech included the words, “I also want to know all the facts about the government response to Hurricane Katrina.” The Doublespeak Award was created to recognize public speakers who have perpetuated language that is grossly deceptive, and for his Jackson Square speech, we find George W. Bush a most worthy recipient for 2006.
People blog for a lot of different reasons.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Have a Good Weekend

The definitive "ineffable"-tag post:

Digby Rules

After quoting some National Journal shit saying the media's excited to cover Democrats cuz they're "messier, louder, looser-lipped, more colorful, newsier, and, for the media class's purposes, more fun," Digby responds.

Here are, basically, the National Journal points, courtesy of one William Powers:
• "Running wild. Generally speaking, Republicans have an executive temperament; they like order and control. Democrats, in contrast, are legislative beasts."
• "Infighting...Even today, they often seem more interested in warring among themselves than against the other party. It's happy talk and hugs right now, but just wait a few months."
• "Who am I? While Republicans seem to know basically who they are and what their purpose is, modern Democrats are filled with doubt."
• "Tough love. Journalists are more aggressive under Democratic rule...When Democrats are in power, there's a huge incentive for reporters not to appear too sympathetic and thereby confirm the old liberal-bias charge."
• "Duck soup. Democrats are always on the edge of comedy. There's a madcap, Marx Brothers quality to this party."

Digby writes:
What can I say? This is what we are dealing with and there's no getting around it. These are not serious people, they are immature fools. And apparently, they are proud of it.

We have had a president for the last six years who is so stupid he can barely eat and breathe and who has single handedly destroyed more than 50 years of American leadership in the world. The American people have spoken loudly and clearly and have elected a new congress to provide some checks and balances to his reign of incompetence and executive power-mongering. They did not elect Democrats to provide the puerile putzes of the DC press corps with entertainment.

If these blindered fools can't see how many real stories are now potentially theirs for the taking, they should get out of the business. This could be the most fertile time for investigative reporting since Watergate --- Republicans are talking out of school for the first time in six long years. And the Democrats have the investigative tools to get to information that's been hidden. It should be great moment for DC journalism if DC journalism actually existed. Instead we are already back in the truthiness and fake news business, which they do very badly (particularly since we now have professional comedians who do truthiness and fake news far more entertainingly than these witless bores could ever hope to.)

The shallow cliches in that article are not just lighthearted good times. They illustrate the narrative that cost Al Gore an election and motivated an eight year media withchunt against President Clinton. But it's no joke, which events of the last six years should have pounded home to every person who works in the journalism business. This sophomoric approach to covering politics was largely responsible for the empowerment of the most destructive political leadership in American history.

And apparently they haven't learned a damned thing.

I Am the Learner (Updated)

The lesson Bush says we have learned from the Vietnam War, and how it relates to Iraq:
"We'll succeed," Bush added, "unless we quit."
What? Really? Oh, right. That day when North Vietnam surrendered and renounced Communism. Yeah, that was sweet.

(Oh, my. Could it actually be that Bush meant that we did quit in Vietnam, and that's why we "lost?")

I'm reminded of Kevin Kline ("the American") and John Cleese in A Fish Called Wanda:
Cleese: Winners. Like North Vietnam??
Kline (exasperated): Shut Up. We didn't lose Vietnam. It was a tie!
Update: ThinkProgress agrees:

The lesson from Vietnam is exactly the opposite of what Bush suggested. In fact, we can succeed by leaving. Bush acknowledged as much, stating Vietnam has shown progress in recent years. Vietnam’s recovery demonstrates that a U.S. withdrawal does not doom a country to civil strife. America’s venture in Vietnam failed not because we left too soon, but because we left too late.

He's the Inhoffiest!

He was the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works! Still is, although he's thankfully "outgoing"...

He is the one and only James Inhofe (R-OK) - soon to be replaced as Chairman by Barbara Boxer.

Jimmy speaks this morning:
INHOFE: Now look, God’s still up there. We still have these natural changes, and this is what’s going on right now. New science comes out. I had a news conference yesterday, Brian, and the reason I did is because we were going to go over to Nairobi, take a bunch of scientists to get the true science over there, only to find out that the registration had dropped off. Almost no media was over there. So we had the same news conference yesterday right here in Washington, D.C.

We had all these scientists and all of them came to the conclusion, yes, part of the globe is warming. Let’s keep in mind, now, the southern hemisphere has never been warming and changing in the last 25 years. The last time I checked that’s part of the globe.

But if the northern hemisphere is warming up, it’s not due to manmade gases. And that’s what these people all come to the conclusion. And yet the other side, the far left, the George Soros, the Hollywood elitists, the far left environmentalists on the committee that I chair — all of them want us to believe the science is settled and it’s not.

By the way, there’s all kinds of new things. Gretchen, you’ll enjoy this. Get your violin out and get ready. They came out with a great discovery just a few weeks ago. And this came from the geophysical research letters and you know what they said? Hold on now! They said the warming is due to the sun. Isn’t that remarkable?

(via ThinkProgress)

(marvelous illustration from here)

I Like It

From Belle:
Singapore has what is actually a rather charming zoning/religious harmony measure which ensures that in a given neighborhood all of the places of worship will be put side by side; there is an Indian temple, two Chinese temples and a Protestant church all next to each other up the road from us. I often walk between another Indian temple and a big Catholic church, and sometimes there are having ceremonies at the same time. I tend to feel the worshippers at the temple are getting the best of it, since the music is louder and more thrilling, shirtless men are blowing on conch shells with silver mouthpieces, and vast clouds of incense are pouring out. On the other hand, transubstantiation.

(Click to enlarge)

Only The Beginning

In the face of all this The Democrats Are Fighting! bluster, it's nice to get reminders like this from Michael Bérubé:
My friends, what did you expect? Did you really think that we would win a bunch of elections—and that the entire apparatus of American media would reform itself the next day? Did you think that the K Street wing of the WAAGNFNP, which has been in thrall to defense contractors for decades, would just pack its briefcases, tidy up its offices, and go home

What I told you on election night was the simple unvarnished truth: this is only the beginning. Remember that it took the Republicans a full generation to transform their party. Even the election of Reagan didn’t quite do it, in retrospect: sure, it set the tone, and solidified the Southern Strategy, but when Reagan was president there were still unacceptably reasonable Republicans in the Senate, like Howard Baker and Nancy Kassebaum. Replacing them with hardcore wingnuts like Bill Frist and Sam Brownback took years of hard, hard work. The kind of work will have to undertake now.
Read the whole thing.

Greenwald writes:
The mindless group-think driving the media's caricatures of Nancy Pelosi is truly astounding to behold, even considering the source. She's not even Speaker yet, and they've already pronounced her to be a bitchy, vindictive shrew incapable of leading because she's consumed by petty personal bickering rather than serious and substantive considerations. And all of this is based on nothing.

Unsurprisingly, all of this has been concocted by the herd of all-knowing Beltway analysts who fancy themselves to be such high-minded warriors against conventional wisdom even though they are its most obedient vessels.

The Roots of the Fishing Industry

From a set of engineering sketches by Mariano Taccola, an antecedent to da Vinci, posted on the marvelous BibliOdyssey.

Roll a crane up to the water...dangle some hooks in the water...catch fish. Seems like a good plan.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

"We gonna give it to the world, Peace, Love and Gap!" - Common, in his new Gap ad.
My Left Wing writer Occams Hatchet notes the perfect irony of Trent Lott being elected "Minority Whip."

PopSci Future Lounge in Second Life

"The first 100 avatars at the party will get a special gadget."

My email to CNN on Glenn Beck's comments:
I think Glenn Beck's comments to Keith Ellison, the first ever Muslim US congressman, were shameful, and Mr. Ellison deserves an apology. The comment, again, was "W]hat I feel like saying is, 'Sir, prove to me that you are not working with our enemies'". This is not courage on Glenn's part. This is not honesty. This is provincial prejudice, and CNN should not hire people with these kind of hateful views. It is unbecoming of an international news organization.
The comment form.
NY City Council votes itself a Twenty-Five Percent pay raise.

I have nothing against you voting yourself a raise, but how about not pissing off the whole city - how about an also-inappropriate, say, 8%?

Quoth NY1:
“Nice work if you can get it,” added another New Yorker.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Time Magazine gives its "All-TIME 100 Albums."


Elvis Presely #1s in the 2000s?

REM's "Out of Time?"

Paul Simon's "Graceland?"

Well, whatever. But what's the point?


No, no, no. That's not acceptable. You are not allowed to use the word "cewebrity*" EVER.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Do You Want to Live In Purgatory?

Why is it so hard? Why do people have to keep us suspended in nonsensical misdirection, talking about nothing and never helping or accomplishing anything?

Media Matters has the report of CNN host John Roberts referring to Democrats' interest in reviewing the soon-to-be-released recommendations of the Iraq Study Group "hoping that somebody else might do the work for them."

Have you forgotten what it means to talk about what is really happening in the world? Is it boring to you? Do you think that saying stupid shit like this, in the face of the overwhelming American electorate's call for Democratic leadership, is somehow "neutrality" or "independence?"

Monday, November 13, 2006


The existence of the WFMU blog is one of the reasons I'm a happy person. This post provides rips of a split single of disco hits from Big Bird and Cookie Monster.


Being "bipartisan" won't "win" the war in Iraq

Jeff Huber, at My Left Wing, in a post about McCain and Lieberman:
Being "bipartisan" won't "win" the war in Iraq. Being smart might, but not if it's the bipartisan kind of smart that comes from the likes of McCain and Lieberman. We're not losing the war at home, Joe. We're losing it in Iraq, and we're not losing it because of lack of "discussion with the American people." We're losing it because of the arrogant incompetence of the commander in chief, his secretary of defense, their yes men generals, and bent-over-the-table politicians like you and McCain who continue to support the cockamamie waste of American blood and treasure on a failed project foisted on the world by a sinister cabal of neoconservative megalomaniacs.

About Face

Glenn Greenwald:
It is completely incoherent for a political movement that selected its own leaders and propped them up and supported them for years to suddenly insist -- once those leaders become wildly unpopular and are revealed as failures -- that somehow they are not "real" members of that political movement. Nobody forced George Bush on conservatives. They picked him, stuck by him, and long into his presidency, insisted that he was their leader and the face of conservatism. And so he is.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Hypocrisy, Desperation-Style

Bush (11/11) to "US Enemies":
Do not confuse the workings of American democracy with a lack of American will.
Who the fuck was, you partisan whiner?

Bush (10/30):
However they put it, the Democrat approach in Iraq comes down to this: The terrorists win and America loses...That's what's at stake in this election. The Democrat goal is to get out of Iraq. The Republican goal is to win in Iraq.

You Like Ponys and Pink, Right?

A kiosk from a Gamestop - could this be any more fucking condescending?

Full picture from the Wired blog.

Superior Greene

Superior Greene, originally uploaded by Los Dragónnes.

Awesome "archival" image of Fort Greene from, apparently, over 15 years ago.

Friday, November 10, 2006

If You Say So

SusanG writes beautifully on how to take all the "Conservatives Won" talk:

These are "conservative" ideas? Cool. I'm hinky with it. Call them what you like, just implement them.

So go ahead, Blowhard Boys and Girls, keep saying it: "Conservative Democrats won on Tuesday, which proves that America is really conservative."

And please, don't catch on that every time you insist that "conservative Democrats" won, every time you couple the words, "conservative" and "Democrat," not only does an angel get its wings, some voter in Mississippi is getting the message that there is a natural home for conservatives in the Democratic Party. Make it crystal clear, repeatedly, from now until 2008, that citizens in the Mountain West and the Midwest who cast their votes next to a "D" for perhaps the first time in their lives were NOT betraying "traditional values," but were, in fact, reinforcing them.

If the right-wing devotes thousands of hours to this "conservatives really won by electing a Democratic majority" in the next two years, they'll have softened the South up enough for us to canvass in 2008 with the simple statement, "Hey, I'm a Democrat and I want your value vote," and it will make perfect sense.

So thanks, Rush, Sean, O'Reilly and the whole gang at National Review: You're saving Democrats a boatload of cash two years from now that would have been spent on re-representing our party as the natural home for those with true American values. We couldn't get this message out without you.
Although I still don't know what the word "hinky" means.

"They were so nervous that they could kill anyone in front of them"

These are real people, George. From an account from last week:
Day one:

I was going back home one day when clashes between US forces and armed men erupted in front of us. The bus didn’t go further, so I decided to walk through one of the shortcuts to our house. The clashes were near the gas station [which is a little bit far from the shortcut]. Suddenly an American soldier showed up pointing his gun at me. He asked me and the six other people to stop and so we did. He looked so nervous. He was shouting in English and all I could understand was the word “fuck” coming out his mouth. He was followed by three other soldiers who were looking around. It seems they were expecting bullets from snipers who might have been hiding in the houses.

The nervous soldier asked us to turn our backs. The man next to me told me not to say a word because [the soldiers] may do something stupid and kill us. They were so nervous that they could kill anyone in front of them.

One of the three soldiers searched my pockets as he asked me to raise my hands up. He pulled my wallet from my back pocket, saw what was inside and then threw it on the floor. It was windy and I was afraid that some of the identification might be lost. I wanted to lift them up but couldn’t do it as it might cause my life.

Then the same soldier came and took me near his humvee hummer. He asked me several questions and looked at my ID. He and the other soldiers interrogated all of us for two and a half hours. After that they let us go.

Day two:

I was in the garden alone. As usual, shootings and explosion rocked the neighborhood next to ours. But there was something weird. The sound of the shootings was coming closer. I didn’t really care that much because it is not something new. So I stayed there but the shooting started coming closer. Suddenly, armed groups took positions in the neighborhood. Then the a convoy of about ten pickups loaded with the Mahdi Army broke into the neighborhood and started shooting randomly. I couldn’t feel but the bullets at my house’s front door. So I ran inside the house away from the clashes. My neighbor said bullets broke his window but he was unhurt.

Day three:

Almost the same thing happened today but it was by armed men wearing army uniform in white pickups. They were shooting randomly at the houses in my neighborhood. We didn’t know whether these were army or interior ministry forces or men disguising in their uniform. In all cases, the front fence and door were riddled with bullets again. This time I was inside the house. I ran to warn my brothers and parents and we all gathered in the house corridor away form the windows. We found out later that two old men were killed as they were chatting in one of their gardens.

Day four:

Fourteen young men were kidnapped by the [interior ministry] commandos form the neighborhood. They young men were in a KIA minibus and were going to different areas. Their bodies were found dead, tortured and thrown under the highway bridge.
Read the rest.

Purity Balls. Now I Know.


I've never heard of Purity Balls. Maybe you have. It is some kind of event where fathers celebrate the chastity of their kid, and the daughters promise to be pure or something.

And Pandagon's got a promotional trailer for one of them.

There are people in this country more alien to me than squid. Explains the video:
Because their daughters yearn for that affection, for that affection from a male. And they're either going for get it from their father, or they're going to seek it in other relationships.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Oh, PZ, I love you:
All right, stop it now. This is getting ridiculous. Tuesday, we watch the Republicans collapse in the elections. Wednesday, Rumsfeld folds up and goes home. Today, Allen concedes, giving Democrats the Senate. What next? Tomorrow, Bush and Cheney are abducted by aliens, who broadcast the anal probing to the whole planet's television networks? The day after, it rains ponies?

Remembering How to Say No

From My Left Wing, a comparison of Pelosi and Reid's position now to that of Supernanny - changing the routine and teaching children the meaning of the word No.
Ms. Nancy and Mr. Harry will be in charge now, and don't be surprised if you're not allowed to stay up as late as you want, and eat as much candy as you want, and run around the house screaming, and beat up on your little brothers, and destroy all the furniture.

And don't be surprised if there are a few other things you want that you won't be allowed to have:

You want Bob Gates for Secretary of Defense?


You want to appoint another radical-right justice to the Supreme Court?


You want to appoint another John Bolton as U.N. Ambassador?


You want to continue awarding contracts to corrupt, incompetent, criminal, thieving corporations doing business in Iraq? You want us to forget about all the theft, abuse and mismanagement that's already happened in Iraq?

NO and NO.

Starting to see how this works?

You want to forget about the Valerie Plame/Brewster Jennings treason?


You want us to forget how you got us into the Iraq war?


You want to cut veterans' benefits?


Getting tired of hearing, "No"?

Too bad.

You want to be allowed to arrest anyone you want, throw them into prison, torture them for the rest of their lives, and never tell anyone about it?


You want to be allowed to try to violate the Constitution with ridiculous "signing statements"?


You want to forget about Jack Abramoff and his 60 or so pals in Congress who robbed the American people?


You want us to forget that Alberto Gonzales lied to Congress?


You want us to forget that the tobacco company executives lied to Congress?


You want us to forget about the secret energy task force meetings?


You want to keep compromising Americans' security in favor of your cronies' profits?


Not as much fun, is it? You liked it better when you could always get your way, didn't you?

You want to give away federal lands to your cronies?


You want us to let your cronies pollute more?


You want your pals at Diebold to keep delivering elections to you?


You want unfettered media consolidation?


You want to keep enabling obscene profits for your pals in healthcare and insurance, at the expense of the vast majority of Americans?


You want to privatize Social Security?


You want to continue to subsidize the lifestyles of the absolute wealthiest Americans on the backs of this and future generations of average Americans?


This is starting to sound like Not Much Fun, isn't it, Republicans? Well, get used to it. You'll be hearing the word "NO" a lot more in the future.

Oh, sure, go ahead - you can stomp your feet and pound your fists, and scream, "Endless investigations! Endless investigations!" all you want - it's not going to change the fact that the Democrats are here to set things right in this house ? the house that you have had the run of for six years, and have essentially left a ruin.

Now, this is not to say that teaching you Republican miscreants the meaning of the word "NO" is the limit to which proper governance goes. Oh, no, no, no, no, no.

Once your mess has been cleaned up and your atrocious behavior brought to a halt, your new Democratic nannies will have an opportunity to teach some positive lessons.

Among other things, you're going to learn how to play nice with the neighbor kids. That's right: not only do you have to stop being mean to your own brothers and sisters; you've also gotta learn how to get along with people whose culture and values might not be the same as yours.

You're also going to have to read that 9/11 Commission Report, and then do a project on it. Your project? Implement its recommendations.

You're going to learn to become accountable. You're going to learn to not spend all of your allowance, and then steal from the other kids' lunch money.

There's a bunch of other stuff you'll learn - but let's get this place cleaned up first.
Dick Armey contributes to the GOP efforts to build a story that there's only one party with a real personality, that the American people were tricked into voting for Democrats cuz they looked like Republicans, and that there must be more to the Election than the fact that American decisively asked Democrats to lead them.
The question Republicans now need to answer is: How do we once again convince the public that we are in fact the party many Democrats successfully pretended to be in this election?

Tityus bahiensis

Tityus bahiensis, originally uploaded by Techuser.

That's one of the most beautiful scorpion shots I've ever seen...Thanks, Techuser!

BibliOdyssey posts some Butterfly People:

Bush: "I Thought the American People Would Understand the Importance of Taxes and the Importance Of Security"

Awesome question from the "Go Rummy" conference yesterday:
Q: You said you were surprised, you didn't see it coming, you were disappointed in the outcome. Does that indicate that after six years in the Oval Office, you're out of touch with America for something like this kind of wave to come and you not expect it?


Bush: ...I'm an optimistic person, is what I am. And I knew we were going to lose seats, I just didn't know how many.

Q How could you not know that and not be out of touch?

THE PRESIDENT: You didn't know it, either.

Q A lot of polls showed it.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, there was a -- I read those same polls, and I believe that -- I thought when it was all said and done, the American people would understand the importance of taxes and the importance of security. But the people have spoken, and now it's time for us to move on.

Nope, I guess we don't. We're all dumb and have been tricked.

Does Bush use his "optimism" in his Iraq planning? I know about 2800 families that would like to know.

Catch and Release

From Bush's "Rummy OUT!" conference yesterday. Isn't this a fishing term?
I would hope Republicans have recognized that we've taken very strong security measures to address one aspect of comprehensive immigration reform. And I was talking to Secretary Chertoff today; he thinks that these measures we're taking are beginning to have measurable effects, and that catch and release has virtually been ended over the past couple of months. And that's positive.
Seems kind of gross to be applying this term to human beings.
Digby's also fed up with the the "We Are All Conservative Now" meme.
Roger Ailes (not that one):
Cut and Rum
So Don Rummy gets to go home to one of his villas in Chicago, Taos, Santa Fe, Santo Domingo and/or Las Vegas, having ensured that his old pal Saddam no longer has more palaces than he does. Meanwhile, 2,800 Americans have returned home to slightly less spacious accomodations, having predeceased Bush's belated interest in "thoughtful conversations" and "new, fresh ideas."

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Kos: For Now, Savor the Victory

But, as the cliché has it, a journey starts with a single step. That step was taken yesterday. For a couple of days, try to avoid getting tied up in knots about how not every Democrat who won is exactly who you want her or him to be. Don't get caught up in the knowledge that after a few months of putting up a mostly unified front, we'll soon be doing what Democrats do best, sniping at each other. For now, savor the victory.
Bush is incredible. He has been lying and petulant and condescending so long that "it got stuck," and he can't stop.
Bush: "To our enemies, do not be joyful."

Fuck you, duck.
I've been listing some tales that are been spun about what happened yesterday or is happening now in the USA. But I'm just a hack. Glenn Greenwald is a professional. selects a photo to lead with this morning.

That Way Easy

Michael Bérubé:
And all it took was the Abramoff scandal, the Foley scandal, the Haggard scandal, the suspension of habeas corpus, the creation of the Cheney Archipelago of secret torture sites, a criminally incompetent response to one of the worst natural disasters in US history, and a hopeless war that has killed thousands of US troops and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, and may well go down as the single worst foreign policy blunder in the history of the republic.

The Right Foot

Suggestion to the Democrats: Immediately pass a bill funding more body armor for the troops.

Boom, Boom, Lacka Lacka Lacka Boom!

The most irritating story coming from the Losing Side seems to be that voters did not reject "conservative values," but rather that Republicans stopped being good Republicans and Democracts won because they became better Republicans.

No, it's not about you anymore.

Responsible, competent, cooperative government is not a specifically "Republican" or "conservative" concept.
Given the other Wall Of Evidence, we better not hear anyone claim that Lieberman's win represents mixed feelings on the War.

I think Joe's win represents his own successful campaign of fear - oh, and the majority of his supporters being Republicans helped, too.

If It Walks Like A Duck

From David Horsey:

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

BillBennet on CNN: "You will see a movement to draft Santorum for President"

Who files for divorce on Election Day? On THIS Election Day?

But Do You Have Any OTHER Stories?

The story of Democrats winning a lot of seats is not interesting enough to the TV news, apparently. So they're sitting around the campfire telling other stories they like better.


If Democrats win big, then over the next few years the responsibility for the Iraq quagmire will slowly shift over - partially - to their shoulders, and that will help Republicans in their 2008 bid.

The Democratic candidates that are doing well this cycle are the most conservative ones, the ones that "sound more like Jerry Falwell than Jane Fonda." (Tucker Carlson)

This election is really a test of whether Democrats have learned how to conduct their own Get-Out-The-Vote campaign.

What defines victory for the two parties this election?

Bonus segway, as only FOX News can do it:
"We've been talking about this actress, murdered in was an illegal immigrant that did it. Immigration hasn't been as much of an issue recently..."

Digby notes a few other Funny Tales...

Monday, November 06, 2006

Go Away. Nobody Likes You.

How unbelievably satisfying is it to see Bush being treated like the little kid that no one wants to play with...

Bush: "Hey, guys, whatcha talking about? Can I play, too?....Hey, what are you doin there?"

GOP: "Nothing. Go Away. Nobody Likes You."

Go play with Governor Rick Perry.
It hurts! It hurts! I love this comic writer so much.

Long Live XKCD

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Treasure of Baghdad writes:
Here we are today. Our former dictator is sentenced to death. For me, it is not a big deal. Death for him is something that is going to make him rest. I believe he should not be dead. He should be tortured like the ones he and his men tortured. He should be humiliated like how he humiliated his people. Then, he should be hanged. Where? In al-Tahrir square where he once hanged victims in public. This is the kind of justice that should be done.

The question remains: what will happen next? Does it even matter if he is dead or not? I don’t think so. He is gone. He’ll never be back. We should concentrate on the present. Some people accused me of being a “Saddamist” and “Baathist” because of my views against the occupation and the mess it caused since 2003. When I said his era was better than this era, it doesn’t mean I want him back. It was a comparison to tell the people that what is going on now is worse than before where everything was almost bad as well. I always mention that because instead of one tyrant, we have multiple tyrants now whom are ALSO supported by the Americans. And please, do not tell me that Hakim, Barzani, Maliki, Jafari, and many others in the parliament and government are “the new good leaders” of Iraq. They are new leaders, right! But they are the NEW TYRANTS OF IRAQ. Yes! They were elected by the people but like Saddam, they let their people down AGAIN.

Hors D'Oeuvres

20061029sarakham0001, originally uploaded by cbuddha.

I know I post a lot of these, but they're fascinating!


cranbrookfallingwater, originally uploaded by Auberon.

Very beautiful shot from my childhood home, Cranbrook School in Michigan.

Check out more of Auberon's photos...

NYTImes: Republicans Achience "Burned-Out, Brain-Dead Status

NYTimes endorses zero-Republicans for the "first time in our memory," notes the party's "burned-out, brain-dead status."

The Fall & Mitsubishi

Holy fucking god lord almighty. Watching the NYC marathon this morning, and the fucking Fall song "Blindness" was the soundtrack on a Mitsubishi ad.

Even more surreal, they actually included a short snippet of the vocal part. The dirty bassline definitely has a Dodge-"Hit It!"-Take-Life-By-The-Horns feel, but I guess someone thought it was also interesting that he says "I was walking down the - - street"...

About as clever as the NBC broadcast's selection of Springsteen's "Born To Run" to use in interstitials.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Gunpowder Falls State Park

Gunpowder Falls State Park, originally uploaded by Eric E Haas.

Thank you, Flickr...

You Can't Hurt Any More Children

From BoingBoing:
Kent "Dr. Dino" Hovind, founder of Creation Science Evangelism and the Dinosaur Adventure Land creationist theme park in Florida ("where Dinosaurs and the Bible meet!"), and his wife face more than 200 years in jail for tax fraud.
(photos from the
Dinosaur Adventure Land site)

It Looks Like Science

So, apparently the US government left posted online publicly some Iraqi documents providing some degree of how-to information on building nuclear bombs. This information was from Saddam's secret weapons program from before the 1991 Gulf War.

A totally fucked up indicator of US government incompetency, sure, sure, but now some rightwingers are freaking out about how this somehow indicates that Iraq Did Have WMDs!!!

When we invaded. In 2002.

Dependable Renegade summarizes:
In the right pinheadosphere, if A=B, and C=D, then A=D.

Hilary and Sharia

Hooray! The Poor Man Institute has posted another edition of Keyboard Kommando Komics.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Frank Schaeffer: I should be supporting Allen. Instead, I'm leaving the party.

A Republican in Dallas comments on a George Allen campaign mailing.
I'm a Christian, a writer, a military parent and a registered Republican.

On all those counts, I was disgusted by an e-mail I just received that's being circulated by campaign supporters of Republican George Allen, who's trying to retain his Senate seat in Virginia.

The message goes like this: "First, it was the Catholic priests, then it was Mark Foley, and now Jim Webb, whose sleazy novels discuss sex between very young teenagers. ... Hmmm, sounds like a perverted pedophile to me! Pass the word that we do not need any more pedophiles in office." Democrat James Webb is a war hero and former Marine, wounded in Vietnam and winner of the Navy Cross. He was writing about class and military issues long before me and has articulated the issue of how the elites have dropped the ball on military service in his classic novel Fields of Fire. By the way, that's a book Tom Wolfe calls "the greatest of the Vietnam novels."


My wife and I have reached the tipping point. We plan to go to town hall to dump our Republican voter registration and reregister as independents. I don't care anymore what party someone is in. These days, what I care about is what they're made of.

Wartime demands leaders with character and moral authority. The political party smearing Mr. Webb proves it has neither.


NYTimes on "The Great Divider"

I know, I know. Why am I even here?

New York Times is getting almost Olbermann fierce here. After all the Kerryness, I needed this to cheer me up.

As President Bush throws himself into the final days of a particularly nasty campaign season, he’s settled into a familiar pattern of ugly behavior. Since he can’t defend the real world created by his policies and his decisions, Mr. Bush is inventing a fantasy world in which to campaign on phony issues against fake enemies.

In Mr. Bush’s world, America is making real progress in Iraq. In the real world, as Michael Gordon reported in yesterday’s Times, the index that generals use to track developments shows an inexorable slide toward chaos. In Mr. Bush’s world, his administration is marching arm in arm with Iraqi officials committed to democracy and to staving off civil war. In the real world, the prime minister of Iraq orders the removal of American checkpoints in Baghdad and abets the sectarian militias that are slicing and dicing their country.

In Mr. Bush’s world, there are only two kinds of Americans: those who are against terrorism, and those who somehow are all right with it. Some Americans want to win in Iraq and some don’t. There are Americans who support the troops and Americans who don’t support the troops. And at the root of it all is the hideously damaging fantasy that there is a gulf between Americans who love their country and those who question his leadership.

Mr. Bush has been pushing these divisive themes all over the nation, offering up the ludicrous notion the other day that if Democrats manage to control even one house of Congress, America will lose and the terrorists will win. But he hit a particularly creepy low when he decided to distort a lame joke lamely delivered by Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts. Mr. Kerry warned college students that the punishment for not learning your lessons was to “get stuck in Iraq.” In context, it was obviously an attempt to disparage Mr. Bush’s intelligence. That’s impolitic and impolite, but it’s not as bad as Mr. Bush’s response. Knowing full well what Mr. Kerry meant, the president and his team cried out that the senator was disparaging the troops. It was a depressing replay of the way the Bush campaign Swift-boated Americans in 2004 into believing that Mr. Kerry, who went to war, was a coward and Mr. Bush, who stayed home, was a hero.

It’s not the least bit surprising or objectionable that Mr. Bush would hit the trail hard at this point, trying to salvage his party’s control of Congress and, by extension, his last two years in office. And we’re not naïve enough to believe that either party has been running a positive campaign that focuses on the issues.

But when candidates for lower office make their opponents out to be friends of Osama bin Laden, or try to turn a minor gaffe into a near felony, that’s just depressing. When the president of the United States gleefully bathes in the muck to divide Americans into those who love their country and those who don’t, it is destructive to the fabric of the nation he is supposed to be leading.

This is hardly the first time that Mr. Bush has played the politics of fear, anger and division; if he’s ever missed a chance to wave the bloody flag of 9/11, we can’t think of when. But Mr. Bush’s latest outbursts go way beyond that. They leave us wondering whether this president will ever be willing or able to make room for bipartisanship, compromise and statesmanship in the two years he has left in office.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Nothing More to Say

Good for Kerry.

As a combat veteran, I want to make it clear to anyone in uniform and to their loved ones: my poorly stated joke at a rally was not about, and never intended to refer to any troop.

I sincerely regret that my words were misinterpreted to wrongly imply anything negative about those in uniform, and I personally apologize to any service member, family member, or American who was offended.

It is clear the Republican Party would rather talk about anything but their failed security policy. I don’t want my verbal slip to be a diversion from the real issues. I will continue to fight for a change of course to provide real security for our country, and a winning strategy for our troops.

It's only Wednesday. Plenty to swirl into the country's consciousness to replace this non-story in the next 6 days. Like Iraq. And Iraq. And also Iraq.
The Most Nauseating Interview of All Time.

Rush interviews Bush.

This Is Why We Say Step Aside

Glenn Reynolds attempts to really understand the psyche of the terrorist mind.

WHY THEY HATE US: In my seminar the other day, one of my students remarked that terrorism is probably based on sexual frustration. She may be right:

People in western countries tend to have more sexual partners than those in the developing world, a study says. . . .

This was despite developing countries having higher rates of sexually transmitted infections and HIV.

Fewer partners, more disease. That would make me mad . . . .
Now Come On. You must be just trying to get a rise!