May 31, 2006

Julian Sanchez Goes Shag

Since my bathroom's looked something like this for four years (ok, not quite so garish, but very Shag friendly) I guess I have to approve of this blog design.

Posted by armand at 02:14 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Nipples, Labia, and the FCC

Sticking with my television roll of posts, I've got a puzzler for you today. Well, not for you, 'cause all y'all are thinking people. But, you know what I mean.

As we all know, nipples are verboten on TV especially after Janet Jackson. As you might imagine, labia are also on the no-no list.

Even when they are shreds of skin that are unattached to a body.

See, I was watching Dr. 90210 and they did a reconstruction for a woman who had a difficult childbirth and was torn six ways from Sunday, including splitting her labia so badly that they would not heal. The cameras blurred out out the surgery, naturally, but then when there was a little blob of tissue lying on the tray? They blurred that out too. Now, scant moments before they had shown - in another surgery - the doctor holding up a flap of skin as big as my entire torso, and you couldn't tell what it was, it was just remnant skin. But because the little flaps and bits were labia (ooh! evil! bad!) they had to be blurred.

Even more interesting was the MTF getting ready for top surgery. She had been living as a woman for some time, and wanted implants to take the next step in her transition. She had a woman's name, dressed as a woman, presented as a woman, and came in with her lesbian partner.

When she took her top off, they showed her nipples on TV. Why? No doubt because she was really a man in the censors' eyes. During the surgery, they showed the nipples being cut, and the implants being inserted (which they don't show for the "real" women on the show.

You know what's coming now, right?

In the after photos, they blurred the nipples.

I am so glad I don't have television.

Posted by binky at 10:52 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Shelley Moore Capito and Jack Abramoff?

Much like I think it's still too early to suggest there's much to the story behind Alan Mollohan's supposed wrong-doing, I think it's too early to make much of this either. But it's worth keeping an eye on. Down the road the West Virginia GOP might have to find a new rising star.

Posted by armand at 10:16 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

May 30, 2006

And Will It Be McCain for the Republicans in '08?

OK, so even though the cable news channels often discuss '08 as if Hillary vs. McCain is the race we're almost certain to see, some of you have doubts about Hillary being the Democratic nominee (well at least if Gore runs). Do you have similar doubts about McCain, or is his front-runner status on firmer ground?

Posted by armand at 06:23 PM | Comments (15) | TrackBack

Will Sen. Clinton Be the Democratic Nominee in '08?

I'm just throwing this out there to see what readers think. Will it be her? How certain are you of you opinion? With her name ID and giant piles of campaign cash I think she has to be the front-runner. And an even-earlier than usual primary calendar would seem to work in her favor too. So ... you'd think it would have to be her. But at the same time I don't think I know a soul (and I lots of Democrats) who's excited about that - in fact I know lots of people who think it's a terrible idea. So ... well, will she be the nominee or not?

Posted by armand at 01:56 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

Justice O'Connor Please Come Back! The Ceballos Ruling

Yes, I regularly bashed her writing and her reasoning - but Alito?!?!? That's not really an improvement (and yes, I did say Alito was possibly the best choice the Bush administration could make - but I was saying that in terms of fostering their interests, both political and substantive, not yours and mine). So what do we get with this change in justices? Well, one thing we get is today's Ceballos ruling (which maybe she would have joined - but maybe not). It's damn ugly - both in terms of its holding and in taking away (it would appear) a swath of 1st Amendment protections from government employees (a set which of course includes a huge number of Americans). It's more complicated than that (sort of a mess really - it's important to read the caveats) so read this post by Marty Lederman for the disturbing details. But the central reasoning of the Court appears to move us away from freedom of speech and the protection of whistle blowers.

The looming question in the case was not so much the outcome but the Court's rationale -- and, in particular, the question whether the Court would hold that a government employee's speech in her "official capacity" is entitled to no constitutional protection -- not even of the modest Pickering/Connick/Waters variety. The Solicitor General urged the Court to hold that "the First Amendment has nothing to say about actions based on [a] public employee's performance of his duties."

Today, the Court took that very signifiant step, holding that "when public employees make statements pursuant to their official duties, the employees are not speaking as citizens for First Amendment purposes, and the Constitution does not insulate their communications from employer discipline." This apparently means that employees may be disciplined for their official capacity speech, without any First Amendment scrutiny, and without regard to whether it touches on matters of "public concern" -- a very significant doctrinal development.

UPDATE: And what does this mean for teachers?

And what does this decision protend for the constitutional rights of teachers in their classroom speech and in their scholarship? The answer is not yet clear. Here's Justice Kennedy again: "There is some argument that expression related to academic scholarship or classroom instruction implicates additional constitutional interests that are not fully accounted for by this Court’s customary employee-speech jurisprudence. We need not, and for that reason do not, decide whether the analysis we conduct today would apply in the same manner to a case involving speech related to scholarship or teaching."

UPDATE #2: Jack Balkin points out one of the (seemingly) oddest results of this opinion:

Instead, the Court has retreated to a vision of employee speech cases where employees are protected only where they are least likely to be in a position to know what they are talking about, as in the case of Rankin v. McPherson .... All the doctrine does now is protect people like the dispatcher in Rankin v. McPherson, who is contributing nothing to information about the government's operations, but is just blowing off steam. Perhaps the dispatcher does deserve First Amendment protection, but the doctrine shouldn't be organized around her.
Posted by armand at 10:52 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Tony Knowles Will Run Against Frank Murkowski

I'm a little sad by this since I'm an American and not an Alaskan and would therefore see more benefits if Knowles were in the US Senate instead of the governor's mansion. But for Alaskans, this is a good day. Knowles (a former 2-term governor) is probably among my top 10 favorite US politicians (maybe even the top half dozen). He's been a good governor before - so why shouldn't Alaskans turn to him again, especially since Gov. Murkowski is extremely unpopular? This would seem to suddenly be one of the Democrats' best pick-up opportunities in the country (even if we are talking about ruby Red Alaska).

Posted by armand at 10:41 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 29, 2006

Mike Erlandson: If You Heckle, He Will Run

Is there more than one way to spell pathetic - because things like this make me think there should be.

Going into the convention, Erlandson said he would abide by the endorsement. But during his speech at the convention, Erlandson said he changed his mind because of what he considered disrespectful heckling.


Posted by armand at 03:29 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Kill the Wabbit?!?

Ever wondered just which operas were drawn on for which parts of What's Opera, Doc? This lays it out for you line by line.

I so love Bugs as Brunhilde.

Posted by armand at 12:16 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Top Commerce Job and Cronyism

Matt's pretty funny, discussing the possibility of former Commerce chief (and bestest buddy of the POTUS) Don Evans becoming the next Secretary of the Treasury.

Evans was Commerce Secretary in the first term, a job that traditionally goes to a Presidential crony unqualified for a real job. Obviously, they put lots of unqualified cronies in important jobs, so being the crony so cronyish that you had to get the post actually designed for a crony is a real achievement. Putting him in charge of the Treasury Department would be ridiculous but, hey, you never know. Also under consideration is the current Commerce Secretary, Carlos Gutierrez, who used to sell breakfast cereal and appears to have no relevant experience whatsoever.

This whole search really is reaching (has already reached?) the level of farce. A slew of people with actual careers and accomplishments have turned the job down, one of the few truly impressive guys with a senior post in this administration wants the job, but they won't give it to him (too competent?) - so are we really facing the croniest of the cronies? Eh, even if we are, it's hard to imagine him being worse than the current Secretary.

Posted by armand at 11:50 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Team Bush - Weakening US Economic Sovereignty

The Cunning Realist makes this interesting point that's all too often overlooked - by running up giant deficits the Bush administration is putting the control of our interests rates in the hand of foreigners!

What's troubling is that we don't determine our own interest rates at this point. Essentially, the rest of the world is telling us that if we want to borrow to pay for preemptive wars and a reckless fiscal policy, we can---but other nations won't underwrite it on favorable terms. Think about that the next time your mortgage or credit card payment increases. President Bush gets blamed for a lot, and justifiably so. But this de facto ceding of monetary power to foreigners is an inexcusable and dangerous screw-up. It didn't have to happen.

Maybe that's a bit overstated, maybe not. But I think there's something to that - something that you would think would worry the xenophobic, uber-nationalists in the US House.

Posted by armand at 11:38 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 27, 2006

A Big Weekend in Celebrity Childbirth

Two babies born this weekend are likely to get serious attention from the paparazzi - who can now update us every time Shiloh Nouvel Jolie-Pitt and Kingston Rossdale go up another shoe size or burp on one of mommy's designer dresses. I really couldn't care less about this stuff - but hey, if people have to fill those rags they sell at the check-out stands across America, I suppose they might as well be people who are likely to be much, much better looking than average.

Posted by armand at 11:37 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Putin's Not the Only Leader Blocking Freedom in Russia

For our readers interested in Russian politics - 70 people were arrested in Moscow for trying to hold the city's first gay-rights rally.

Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov said he had banned the march because he believed homosexuality was not natural and because the event would cause outrage in society - a position supported by many Christian and Muslim groups. He said that as long as he was mayor he would not allow such events to take place.

Freedom of speech and freedom of association are of course usually considered (by Americans) to be the bedrock components of democratic regimes that respect the people's liberty. Coming on the heels of several of attacks in Russia against gays, immigrants and ethnic minorities it appears obvious that some Russians have even fewer political freedoms than the average Russian does.

Posted by armand at 11:29 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

The Best in Mass-Market Novels

This post from Drezner is almost a week old, but I figured I'd link to it in case you were interested in taking a stroll through the comments thread before picking out some summer beach reading. The question is what's the best mass-market paperback of the last 25 years. The commenters make a lot of suggestions that I think are quite worthy: Ender's Game, Foucault's Pendulum, Snow Crash, The Stand - though out of those listed repeatedly I'd likely pick Neuromancer. Though in terms of the best book in the entire post, I'd likely go for the first book Drezner lists among those that have grabbed him in the last several years, Rushdie's The Moor's Last Sigh. That's one of my all-time favorites.

Any additions to the mass-market list you'd propose?

Posted by armand at 07:09 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

The Best Blog Sentence of the Week?

I'm very amused (in a sort of horrified way) by how Scott Lemieux concludes a post on Joe Lieberman and political messages on license plates:

Shorter Tennessee government: "We proudly endorse treason in defense of slavery and white supremacy, but supporting a woman's reproductive freedom is beyond the pale!"
Posted by armand at 06:04 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Americans Killed Innocents in Haditha

This is precisely the sort of event that's behind why I'll always have grave doubts about using warfare as a means for bringing "freedom" or the like to an oppressed people. War inevitably leads to malicious, deadly horrors (often disturbingly many), and it corrupts some who enter into it hoping to do good.

Marines from Camp Pendleton wantonly killed unarmed Iraqi civilians, including women and children, and then tried to cover up the slayings in the insurgent stronghold of Haditha, military investigations have found.

Officials who have seen the findings of the investigations said the filing of criminal charges, including some murder counts, was expected, which would make the Nov. 19 incident the most serious case of alleged U.S. war crimes in Iraq.

An administrative inquiry overseen by Army Maj. Gen. Eldon Bargewell found that several infantry Marines fatally shot as many as 24 Iraqis and that other Marines either failed to stop them or filed misleading or blatantly false reports.

Posted by armand at 02:43 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Pakistan and the Taliban - A Friendship Renewed?

The markedly high level of this month's violence in Afghanistan suggests that the power of the Taliban is increasing. Is one reason for this increasing support for the Taliban from Pakistan?

Posted by armand at 02:18 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 26, 2006

Canadian Reporters - More Than Government Stenographers

Don't you wish the DC press corps had this kind of spine?

Posted by armand at 01:52 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Current Fights Over Controversial Appeals Court Nominees

Bloomberg has an update on where things stand. It looks like Judge Boyle might not get his promotion, and that the Haynes nomination might fail too. But the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh was approved today. The 41 year old former Kennedy and Kozinski clerk and Kirkland & Ellis partner(and mostly notoriously Ken Starr's Associate Counsel) was confirmed today to a life-time seat on the powerful US Appeals Court for the District of Columbia. The vote was 57-36. For our most regular readers - Sens. Byrd, Landrieu, Vitter, Santorum, Specter, Bond and Talent all voted to support the nomination (actually every Republican voted for him); Sen. Rockefeller is still recuperating and didn't vote.

Posted by armand at 01:40 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

What to Do About the Democrats' Image Problems on Security?

Jonathan Zasloff has this post which raises a few key points. One (just for Morris) is that one party often implements the other party's program, and that voters might prefer one party's policies and still vote for the other party. But the big point is that the public (maybe) isn't sure about Democrats' instincts even if they prefer their policies. So the Democrats need to hit Bush hard on security:

But I think that attacking Bush on energy dependency and obsequiousness toward the Saudis is the way to start. The general idea is to outflank the Republicans on what is erroneously called "the right." The protest over the Dubai port deal was a prime example of this. Attack them on port security. Attack on body armor. Attack on the Bush administration's fecklessness on securing loose nukes. Over and over again. A few more, and there might not be a problem.

I agree with this (as a political matter) and am still completely flumoxed by the Democrats inability to play the Saudi issue better in the last campaign, not to mention the host of security proposals that they proposed and the White House blocked in the wake of 9/11 (from much tougher port security to better protecting airliners). And a lot of those could play even better in that they dove-tail into the "Party of the Rich/Special Interest/Big Corporate Interests, not American Interests" attacks that could be waged on the GOP (yeah sure they like security - as long as it doesn't inconvenience their fat cat donors who make hundreds of millions while you can't afford to drive your kids to soccer practice any more). As to why Democrats can't seem to manage this - maybe the problem is the messenger - both in the sense of their candidates and in how the media covers security (generally the presumption, regardless of the pundit or network, is that the Democrat side is the weak, concilatory side). Maybe nominating someone like Wesley Clark in '08 would help. But you'd think there must be a way the Democrats can win on security issues, especially now.

Posted by armand at 11:29 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

A Good Weekend at The Warner

OK, I loathed Friends With Money (except for the ever delightful Joan Cusack), but everything else showing at the downtown theater is very good or looks interesting (Thank You for Smoking, Art School Confidential, United 93 - though I don't partcularly want to see that last one) - and now they've even got a documentary (Why We Fight). Now if they'd only pick up Brick ...

Posted by armand at 09:04 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 25, 2006

The Club for Growth is on a Roll and Lovin' Barney Frank

So I saw this link on Wonkette, had to click on it, and it's true! The far-right ultimate friends of business have seen electoral successes of late (the candidates they backed won Republicanprimary races for open seats in Idaho and Nebraska) - and now they've seen the light and are praising Barney Frank. Well, at least one speech of his excoriating our ridiculous sugar subsidies. A snippet:

... there is no greater contrast in America today than between the free enterprise rhetoric of so many conservatives and the statist, subsidized, inflationary, protectionist, anti-consumer agricultural policies ...

So yes, occasionally people on both the far left and the far right can be right - though you'd never know that from watching "news" shows on television.

Posted by armand at 11:35 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Nexon Takes Apart Hanson

Victor David Hanson is one of those gifts that keeps on giving. Well, he is in the sense that Caitlin Flanagan or Ms. Malkin (and her ghost writers) are also gifts. And by gifts I mean writers who are so hack-tackular and who fill their work with so many absurd assumptions and illogical arguments that taking them apart piece by piece reminds us just who's sane and has a clue and who, sadly, doesn't. That people like this are published so widely is in some ways one of the saddest things about public discourse in the USA today. But hey, if you can find some humor or awe in the scope of that sort of inanity, check out Dan Nexon taking apart one of Hanson's latest unhinged essays.

Posted by armand at 02:14 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 24, 2006

Observations on Television

Who knew Sebastian Bach still had a career? Evidently it is as middle aged poster boy for VH1, because every time you click by he's on one show or another.

Meat is extremely popular, and manly. Or, at least judging by commercials, someone wants you to think that and buy some at crap chain restaurants.

Sad stories about abused animals are popular, given the proliferation of Animal Cops shows on Animal Planet. It used to be just NY, and now there is Detroit, San Francisco, and Miami.

There's still nothing on. I haven't watched TV (except the L-Word from time to time) since last year's vacation, and after a week, I feel like I'm totally caught up.

Posted by binky at 12:04 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Senator Kyl in Trouble?

I still have serious doubts about whether the Democrats can pick up this seat (Pennsylavina, Montana, Missouri and Rhode Island look like much better pick-up opportunities) - but these trend lines are quite intereting. Kyl's never that popular, and his disapproval numbers have been steadily rising. He hasn't had to run a tough time race in a long time (he was essentially unopposed in 2000 and first won his seat in the Republican tidal wave year of 1994). And he's in line to replace Sen. Specter as the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, so this race matters a lot. If I was working for the DNC or DSCC I'd be seriously considering raising it on the party's list of priorities.

Posted by armand at 08:20 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 23, 2006

Do Not Travel With Andre Bauer!

Now he's crashing planes! And of course he used to get pulled over for speeding (several times - and I mean REALLY speeding) and shout at the police who dared do that. Yeah, I'm sure he's impressive in his way - handsome (for a politician), 30-something, the Lt. Gov. of South Carolina (though he's being challenged in the GOP primary by another 30-something, Mike Campbell, portly son of former Gov. Carroll Campbell) - but unless you want to crash into something at a high speed, or come damn close to doing that, I suggest you stay the hell away from him.

Posted by armand at 10:33 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Low-Tech Solutions

[Begin Telegram]

On vacation (stop) Weather good (stop) Fish for dinner better (stop) Neighbors irritating (stop) Dogs keep trying to catch seagulls (stop) Haven't yet succeeded (stop) Internet only through dial-up (stop) Very slow (stop) May try semaphore (stop) Send good gin (full stop)

[End Telegram]

Posted by baltar at 02:48 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Mark Salter's Comment - Another Reason to Loathe McCain

As if one was needed - but hey, if you want another reason to dislike the big-govenment-lovin', Bush-huggin', Iraq-War cheerleader (oops, I mean the "distinguished" senior senator from Arizona), check out what kind of a man he'd likely replace Karl Rove with - the kind of man who spends his time writing unfair, nasty personal attacks in the comments section at The Huffington Post. Seriously. I'm not making that up. Mr. Salter, don't you have anything better to do? Or are you such a vile petty weasel that you can't help yourself? And Sen. McCain, are you going to disassociate yourself from this asshole's behavior? No, of course you won't - but you should.

Posted by armand at 08:10 AM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

The Last Morning of Sping?

So I think it supposedly got down to 39 last night. And today's the last day when the high might be under 70 until ... the fall? Supposedly we might see 90 this weekend. With that in mind I finished off my hot chocolate this morning. I'm going to miss the cool nights and mornings.

Posted by armand at 07:57 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 22, 2006

Go Fug Yourself on the Eurovision Song Contest

OK, so they are usually funny - but of course they are extra funny when given the multitudes of horrors to work with that this media travesty produces. My favorite line:

All I know is, I never trust a woman with marabou straps unless her name is Alexis Carrington Colby Dexter Rowan and she is threatening to take away my South China Sea oil leases.
Posted by armand at 09:32 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The House of Yes

I had a great time last night. I hope the pair I was hanging out with did too (since the one who I know reads this blog passed out relatively early I can’t be sure, but … I hope so). Anyway, among the night’s entertaining activities was a viewing of The House of Yes, one of the classics of 1990’s cinema. I do I love it so – I can barely count the ways. But I sure as hell can quote the lines. In honor of the night and the movie - some of the highlights, lines worth remembering:

A person offers a little constructive criticism and a person gets lectured on the nature of things.

No, sweetheart, you just have to do something in some other location.

Don’t leave this girl alone with any handsome death mutes Marty, that’s my advice to you.

Were you poor? Did you eat chicken pot pies?

Do they have paintings in Pennsylvania? … I’ve never even met anyone who’s been to Pennsylvania, much less been from Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania is just this state that gets in your way when you have to go someplace else.

There’s something I’ve been meaning to ask you. There’s this thing I’ve heard and if I thought for one second that it might be true I’d probably kill myself. Does your fiancée work in a donut shop?

Croissants, they are in the kitchen. They are filled with something, I forget what.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to baste the turkey and hide the kitchen knives.

I don’t recognize the past tense.

You and I Marty have a great deal in common – parents, DNA, bone structure.

Goo is what tape is all about.

Mama- Marty, a word. Marty - A word mama, or many words?

Mama - I’ll tell you what the subject is not. Marty - No mama, that’s too broad a category. Tell me what the subject is.

Normalcy is coursing through my veins.

A person gets their heart set on a certain thing. A person gets their heart set on a certain thing. And if a certain person can’t have a certain thing a certain person goes insane.

You raise cattle. Children just happen.

Love is for tiny people with tiny lives.

People buy matches Anthony, but not people like us.

Anthony - Would you like a glass of Liebfraumilch? Leslie - No, thank you, I’ll just have a glass of wine. Marty - That’s the name of the wine. Leslie - Oh – hee-hee. I don’t speak French. Jackie – Who does? Anthony – You do. Jackie – Oh that’s right I do. Leslie – So what does that name mean? Jackie – In French? I think it means something German. Leslie – Oh. Marty – It means loving mother’s milk. Leslie – You speak French? Marty – No, German.

Mama- What is it doing there? Jackie – Just being gun-like, gun-esque, gun-onic. Mama – Where did it come from? Jackie – God?

Jackie - I suppose you think I’m going insane just to be fashionable Leslie - I don’t think you’re insane. Jackie - You don’t think I’m insane? Leslie - No. Jackie - You don’t think I’m an eensie-weensie bit insane? Leslie - I don’t think you’re insane, I think you’re just spoiled. Jackie - Oh please, if people are start telling the truth around here I’m going to bed.

Posted by armand at 09:12 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Wisconsin Republicans Have an '08 Straw Poll

So the latest snapshot of the fluid race for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008 comes from Wisconsin, where the state Republican convention conducted a straw poll last weekend. The outcome?

US Senator George Allen - 61 votes, former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani - 60, former US House Speaker Newt Gingrich - 53, Secretary of State Condi Rice - 50, Governor Mitt Romney - 40, US Senator John McCain - 37, US Senator Sam Brownback - 11, US Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and Congressman Tom Tancredo tied with 8 each, Governor George Pataki - 4, Governor Mike Huckabee - 2, US Senator Chuck Hagel - 1.

Yep, John McCain came in 6th place, while Newt Gingrich came in 3rd. This is just a "beauty contest" of course, but it gives us some sense of how party activists see this race shaping up in that section of the country.

Posted by armand at 08:02 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 21, 2006

The Frivolous Post

I like to think that I am immune to advertising. Mostly, I think it’s because I can resist the lure of TV ads. Of course, normally, I don’t watch television. I have a television, but use it only for things like Ratchet and Clank: Going Commando or watching Ronin one more time.

Being on vacation, I have access to things that I normally don’t. Like sun and surf, of course, but also, television. I’ve been seeing horrible commercials, and there are plenty of them, including the meat lovers (what is it? Chilis? Shenanigans? where the dudes all growl their entrees until the “unmanly” one says vegetable medley?) one that Twisty wrote about last week.

Thus, it is with a heavy heart, that I admit my weakness and lay down my will to resist the almighty KFC commercial.

I want that fucking bowl.

Oh yeah, that bowl. The one in the commercial where the list of ingredients reads like a heart attack casserole. I want it.

Mashed potatoes. Corn. Deep fried chicken bits. Gravy. Topped with cheese.

And the kicker? Now that I am ready to admit my powerlessness over the KFC? The local franchise in the town where I am enjoying the above sand and surf?

Closed for renovations.

It’s a cruel, cruel summer.

Posted by binky at 11:36 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

The Serious Post

As the post above notes, I am on vacation, and have television. Cable even, with HBO.

Baghdad ER is incredibly gripping. Graphic, heroic, depressing. Difficult to watch, but worth it.

Posted by binky at 11:35 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Volokh on Iran's Jewish Parlimentarian

Who knew? Uh, anyone who's taken my class on the region's politics, anyone who's read most basic, introductory reports or chapters on the nature, workings and composition of the Iranian government ... This post serves as a reminder that when discussing Iran even the highly-educated lack much knowoledge of that regime (which many of them want us to go to war against - so, you know, reading an introductory chapter on its government might be worthwhile).

But what I found really telling about this post was the following phrase - "the presence of a non-set-aside Jewish politician would be much better evidence of social tolerance than the presence of a set-aside one". I agree with the sentiment - but if he's going to use that as a reason to disapprove of the Iranian regime, what must he think of the USA? How many African-Americans are elected to Congress from districts not specifically designed to ensure that? A tiny handful. Hispanics or gays? The same thing. If we use that rule to measure a society's level of social tolerance, the United States comes across as a strikingly intolerant place. So I'd be wary of casting stones against others on that basis.

Posted by armand at 01:49 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Frere-Jones - an Idiotic Asshole; Merritt - an Actual Artist

Any respect I ever had for Sasha Frere-Jones's opinions (or merely confidence in his ability to think and reason) ended today. His campaign to label Stephin Merritt a racist is possibly the meanest and most pathetic thing I've learned about in the last 24 hours. And really, it's just plain STUPID. If he doesn't appreciate Beyonce's singing or Outkast OF COURSE he hates black people. Crikey. So many people are so dumb (and obnoxiously certain of and loud about their idiocy) that at times I wonder how the rest of us muster the strength to leave the house.

Posted by armand at 01:09 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 20, 2006

Nagin Reelected?

The mayor of New Orleans has won another term? The final results aren't in - but it looks like he's going to eke out a win over Mitch Landrieu. Honestly, I'm really surprised. And I'm wondering what Mitch is going to do next. Running for reelection as Lt. Governor in '07 is the obvious choice - but that's also a dangerous move given that the GOP is expected to do very well in next year's statewide races (including likely electing Bobby Jindal as the state's next governor).

In other race results it looks like the mother of the great actress Patricia Clarkson isn't going to win in her bid for an at-large seat on the City Council (she'd been on the Council before from a district-based seat).

Posted by armand at 11:34 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Ms. Bradshaw's Wardrobe

So I'm now down to just 4 more episodes of Sex and the City, then I'll have seen them all. A lot happened on the last dvd I watched (Samanthat got cancer, Miranda got married, Charlotte got a King Charles spaniel, Smith shaved off his hair) - but personally I think the highlight was what Carrie wore to Miranda's wedding. That was one of her best outfits ever (right up there with that dress that blew up in Marilyn-esque fashion on that gusty day a couple seasons before).

Posted by armand at 11:15 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Can We Stop the Cowardly Torturers Who Run the Country?

I like this idea, in terms of a political movement. I think it's got a lot of potential. One of the most loathsome things about George W. Bush is that when he finds time to stop lifting weights or chopping wood on his "ranch" he spends far too much of his time scaring the country, and noting that the bad-new-days are here and will remain. It's time for someone with a way with words to adopt a more Lincoln-esque or FDR-esque line about how Americans are stronger (and better) people than that. We don't have give up all of what we stand for to fight a gang of murderous gang of killers - that might be the way of a weak-minded, inept president, but it's not the American way.

As to that Court decision - again, I lack words. This president has turned the United States of American into Argentina in the bad-old-days. He is a vile human being - and a horrid, bullying leader.

Posted by armand at 01:02 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 19, 2006

Two Words

No, make that four:

Beach good.

Dialup baaaaaad.

I believe I will pay a visit to Cappuchino by the Sea to see if they have wireless.

Posted by binky at 11:18 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Preakness

I won't be watching it as it seems every person I know with cable is out of town this weekend. I won't be betting either. I think Barbaro will win, and if he doesn't it'll be one of the other two horses that ran in the Derby. No good prices there. But if Barbaro wins - exciting! You'd have to think that someday another horse will win the Triple Crown and why not this year? Barbaro looked great two weeks ago. [Why not? B/c Brother Derek had a dreadful trip in the Derby and Barbaro will be facing grueling back to back races at a rate he's never had to run before ... but hey, it's still possible].

Posted by armand at 04:02 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Philip Tetlock's Expert Political Judgment

Expert Political Judgment: How Good Is It? How Can We Know examines who makes decisions, how they make decisions, what good judgment is and what types of people show the best ‘judgment”. If you are interested in these questions, he tackles them at length using a broad, varied set of methodologies. I'd say that his central findings is that usually you are going to want “foxes” in charge of decision-making, not “hedgehogs”. This is appears clear quite early in the work. But Tetlock goes through chapter after chapter, redefining judgment in various ways and considering who makes better choices in different kinds of circumstances giving hedgehogs every possible doubt and argument in their favor. In the end, foxes still usually show better judgment, regardless of the specific definition of the dependent variable or the circumstances involved.

These selections from pp.117-119 state his findings clearly (emphasis mine):

“Quantitative and qualitative methods converge on a common conclusion: foxes have better judgment than hedgehogs. Better judgment does not mean great judgment … none of them can hold a candle to formal statistical models. But foxes do avoid many of the big mistakes that drive down the probability scores of hedgehogs to approximate parity with dart-throwing chimps. And this accomplishment is rooted in foxes’ more balanced style of thinking about the world – a style of thought that elevates no thought above criticism … By contrast, hedgehogs dig themselves into intellectual holes. The deeper they dig, the harder it gets to climb out and see what is happening outside, and the more tempting it becomes to keep on doing what they know how to do … Hedgehogs are thus at continual risk of becoming prisoners of their preconceptions, trapped in self-reinforcing cycles in which their initial ideological disposition stimulates thoughts that further justify that inclination which, in turn, stimulates further supportive thoughts … foxes do better because they are moderates who factor conflicting considerations – in a flexible, weighted-averaging fashion – into their final judgments.”

So basically you should beware putting hedgehogs in places where they are charged with making many decisions, particularly in a changing world. But even so it should come as no surprise that when the media is looking for experts and decision makers to discuss the day’s events and frame the problems facing the country, they seek out hedgehogs. No wonder the quality of public discourse has fallen and the serious consideration of silly, ideological ideas has proliferated.

Posted by armand at 03:43 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

There Simply Are No Words for John Derbyshire

Ladies and gentleman, I bring you a man with a regular publication outlet in one of the best known conservative media outlets in the country. He's a severely messed-up man, with all sorts of purient sexual obsessions. That's been clear for ages. But this - what's left to say? And how in the hell does he keep getting published? I'm wondering if there's a special ring in the hell these people hope exists for Ms. Malkin, Ms. Flanagan and Mr. Derbyshire.

Posted by armand at 11:00 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

The Senate Votes to Make English the "National Language"

Nativist, xenophobic pandering of the first order. Not a single Republican voted against it (and I think a special recognition of shameful conduct and cowardice should be thrown at Sen. Martinez of Florida who didn't vote on the measure). Not that senators like Carper, Lincoln, Landrieu and our own Robert C. Byrd shouldn't also be taken to task for voting for this bill, sponsored by Jim Inhofe (R-OK). What I find most curious in the vote though is that all the Democrats from the Dakotas and Montana (and of course the Republicans from there too) voted for the Inhofe amendment too. Is this kind of pandering really needed that far North? Apparently, the answer is yes.

Posted by armand at 10:27 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 18, 2006

Will & Grace Ends

There were eight seasons of Will & Grace? The show ends tonight? Who knew?

I'll be interested to see Megan Mullally moves on to do anything else of interest (Karen was far and away the best thing about this show - perfectly non-threatening camp that would reassure and slightly amuse the core audience for this show).

Posted by armand at 03:52 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

What Judy Miller Never Wrote in the Summer of '01

This is an interesting piece - Judith Miller recounts following the threat of al Qaeda from July 2001 forward, but never writing the big story she hoped to write prior to the attacks. It's clear that many in the intelligence community were terribly worried about an attack (particularly around the 4th of July). This isn't news. Countless works have pointed out the veritable obsession that George Tenet and Richard Clarke had with al Qaeda prior to 9/11 (with good reason it turns it, but Condi and Rummy weren't all that worried ... too bad for us). But the tale of why Miller didn't write about that threat that summer is rather interesting for what it says about journalism, journalists, and how national security issues are covered by the press.

Posted by armand at 01:31 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 17, 2006

A.O. Scott Reviews The DaVinci Code

Ouch. That's brutal, but well worth your time if you want a laugh. The mocking of Dan Brown's writing is simply delicious (in a seemingly deservedly cruel way). Though actually, it makes me want to see the film, since it makes it even less likely that I'd ever willingly pick up the book - and it seems I should have some idea of what all the fuss is about. Watching a bad movie would seem to save both time and stress on my nerves (which couldn't withstand many pages of writing that's that bad).

Posted by armand at 11:06 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

The Golden Compass

Okay, I am going to have to read books 2 & 3 in the His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman because book 1 (The Golden Compass)was quite good. This book is mostly an adventure story that sets up the world Lyra has grown up in, and introduces you to its forms (including armored bears and zepplins!) and mysteries. It only starts to get into the religious nature of the series (I've never read Milton, but I'm guessing these books draw heavily on Paradise Lost). But all in all it's very good work, definitely a book that while perhaps aimed at young adults older adults can enjoy very much. It's engrossing and very well-written.

Posted by armand at 06:13 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Senators Boxer and Sessions: United Against "Guest Workers"

Rarely do I notice that I agree with both Barbara Boxer and Jeff Sessions when it comes to a major legislative initiative. So it seems a noteworthy week since I strongly agree with both of them that a guest worker program is a horrible idea. I'd say it's perhaps the worst thing in any of the proposed (and remotely passable) immigration bills currently before Congress. Sadly, the great majority of senators though disagree with me, Boxer and Sessions.

Posted by armand at 01:55 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Yay Us!

We've breached the 25,000 mark, with a visitor from Doha, Qatar!

And of course, we completely forgot to congratulate ourselves for making it to two years of blogging on May 1. That's what grading final exams does to a person (or three).

Posted by binky at 09:56 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 16, 2006

The 2006 Tony Award Nominees

The big winner - The Drowsy Chaperone which scored 13 nominations. Can't say I'm surprised as I haven't heard anything but praise for it. John Lahr reviews that musical and the also widely praised revival of Faith Healer (starring two of today's nominees, Ralph Fiennes and Emperor Palpatine) here.

I could just link you to a basic list of the nominees, but I'll link to Gabriel's list/analysis since it comes with deservedly cutting comments about Andrew Lloyd Webber and Alan Cumming and understandable sadness about Cyndi Lauper not being nominated.

Posted by armand at 12:37 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Rauch's "Stoking the Beast"

For those of you interested in a little more reading on Voodoo economics and the effects of tax cuts ...

Jonathan Rauch has a good little comment in the June issue of The Atlantic. To give you a taste:

Niskanen recently analyzed data from 1981 to 2005 and found his hunch strongly confirmed. When he performed a statistical regression that controlled for unemployment (which independently influences spending and taxes), he found, he says, “no sign that deficits have ever acted as a constraint on spending.” To the contrary: judging by the last twenty-five years (plenty of time for a fair test), a tax cut of 1 percent of the GDP increases the rate of spending growth by about 0.15 percent of the GDP a year. A comparable tax hike reduces spending growth by the same amount.

Again looking at 1981 to 2005, Niskanen then asked at what level taxes neither increase nor decrease spending. The answer: about 19 percent of the GDP. In other words, taxation above that level shrinks government, and taxation below it makes government grow. Thanks to the Bush tax cuts, revenues have been well below 19 percent since 2002 (17.8 percent last year). Perhaps not surprisingly, government spending has risen under Bush ...

The conservative movement is in no position to accept or even acknowledge those implications, now that tax cutting has become the long pole in the Republican tent. Therein lies the element of tragedy. By turning a limited-government movement into an anti-tax movement, conservatism has effectively gone into business with the Big Government that it claims to oppose. It is not starving the beast. It is fueling the beast’s appetite. And the beast has a credit card.

Posted by armand at 09:54 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Pope's Hatchet Man Gets a Promotion

Pope Benedict XVI has accepted the retirement of Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick as Archbishop of the Washington Archdiocese and appointed Pittsburgh Bishop Donald W. Wuerl as his successor, the Vatican announced this morning.

I hope our friend Stalin is lurking around to comment on this. He is the one from whom I picked up the lovely apellation for Wuerl, who oversaw the slicing and dicing of all the traditional Pittsburgh parishes and ethnic language masses in a big consolidation.

Posted by binky at 09:40 AM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

vee oh oh dee oh oh

Anyone? Anyone?

Posted by binky at 12:01 AM | Comments (13) | TrackBack

May 15, 2006


"We are a nation of laws, and we must enforce our laws."

Posted by binky at 11:13 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Tinfoil, anyone?

Posted without comment, but what's your opinion?

The leader in the field of what is called "data mining," is a company, formed in 1997, called, "ChoicePoint, Inc," which has sucked up over a billion dollars in national security contracts.


I first ran across these guys in 2000 in Florida when our Guardian/BBC team discovered the list of 94,000 "felons" that Katherine Harris had ordered removed from Florida's voter rolls before the election. Virtually every voter purged was innocent of any crime except, in most cases, Voting While Black. Who came up with this electoral hit list that gave Bush the White House? ChoicePoint, Inc.

And worse, they KNEW the racially-tainted list of felons was bogus. And when we caught them, they lied about it. While they've since apologized to the NAACP, ChoicePoint's ethnic cleansing of voter rolls has been amply rewarded by the man the company elected.

And now ChoicePoint and George Bush want your blood. Forget your phone bill. ChoicePoint, a sickened executive of the company told us in confidence, "hope[s] to build a database of DNA samples from every person in the United States …linked to all the other information held by CP [ChoicePoint]" from medical to voting records.

And ChoicePoint lied about that too. The company publicly denied they gave DNA to the Feds -- but then told our investigator, pretending to seek work, that ChoicePoint was "the number one" provider of DNA info to the FBI.

" And that scares the hell out of me," said the executive (who has since left the company), because ChoicePoint gets it WRONG so often. We are not contracting out our Homeland Security to James Bond here. It's more like Austin Powers, Inc. Besides the 97% error rate in finding Florida "felons," Illinois State Police fired the company after discovering ChoicePoint had produced test "results" on rape case evidence … that didn't exist. And ChoicePoint just got hit with the largest fine in Federal Trade Commission history for letting identity thieves purchase 145,000 credit card records.

Posted by binky at 11:08 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

I am confused about this Godwin's law thing

So, when the wingnuts start writing columns in which they suggest that Nazi Germany provides a positive example, when does Godwin's Law get invoked?

Referring to W's speech tonight:

And he will be lying, again, just as he lied when he said: "Massive deportation of the people here is unrealistic – it's just not going to work."

Not only will it work, but one can easily estimate how long it would take. If it took the Germans less than four years to rid themselves of 6 million Jews, many of whom spoke German and were fully integrated into German society, it couldn't possibly take more than eight years to deport 12 million illegal aliens, many of whom don't speak English and are not integrated into American society.

So, hey, the Nazis were able to "rid themselves" of undesireables, W is misunderestimating the US's capabilities.

Sweet motherfucking Jesus!

Posted by binky at 10:56 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Oh, so it's Georgia who claims to have standards

"University of Georgia President Michael Adams objects to the phrase "World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party" to describe the annual Georgia-Florida football game.

And he has asked CBS Television and the city of Jacksonville, Fla., to not use the phrase when promoting the game the network televises each year."

I predict backlash.

And of course, Every Day Should be Saturday has the best title for a related post: "UGA PRESIDENT MICHAEL ADAMS: IXNAY ON THE UNFAY." In fact, they're running a little competition for a new slogan.

It’s on, fucktard. It. Is. On. UGA and UF fans had no common enemy before, but Michael Adams has given us what Mother Nature and centuries of redneck competition couldn’t. We propose that instead of referring to the party as the “World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party,” we use the following “better” images instead:

–”World’s Largest Fisting Party”
–”World’s Largest Coke Orgy”
–”World’s Largest Herp-fest”
–”World’s Largest Jorts Convention”
–”World’s Largest Outdoor Middle Aged Swingers’ Ball”

Like I said. Backlash.

Posted by binky at 10:37 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Do you think now maybe the press will get pissed enough to do something?

ABC News:

A senior federal law enforcement official tells ABC News the government is tracking the phone numbers we (Brian Ross and Richard Esposito) call in an effort to root out confidential sources.

"It's time for you to get some new cell phones, quick," the source told us in an in-person conversation.

ABC News does not know how the government determined who we are calling, or whether our phone records were provided to the government as part of the recently-disclosed NSA collection of domestic phone calls.

Via Digby.

Posted by binky at 02:56 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Libya - Now Just Like Any Other State

While it's far (very, very far) from being a paradise or all one would hope to find in a state, today's move to normalize relations between the US and Libya makes sense. I don't care for Libya's leader, but we deal with all sorts of nasty world leaders, including many who are much worse than Libya's. And offering rewards for "good behavior" is a course we are pursuing in trying to reform several other problematic states.

Posted by armand at 02:43 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Chungking Express

Since I absolutely loved the gorgeous and moving 2046, and liked and admired the richly-colored Happy Together, I decided to watch Chungking Express last night. That's an earlier film by Wong Kar-Wai. Honestly, I don't think it's nearly as good as those later movies, but hey, it's still a Wong Kar-Wai film. It's the story of two romances. Sort of. Neither is really a regular romance. And the principals involved in the romances aren't really "together". It gets a bit tedious near the end (well, the Faye Wong character's antics just go on and on and on ...), but it's well acted, and I certainly didn't hate it. It's a sort of 2.5 stars kind of a movie. So ... watch 2046 instead.

Posted by armand at 10:50 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 14, 2006

A Disservice to the Troops

Denied treatment, forced to fight:

The Hartford Courant, citing records obtained under the federal Freedom of Information Act and more than 100 interviews of families and military personnel, reported numerous cases in which the military failed to follow its own regulations in screening, treating and evacuating mentally unfit troops from Iraq.

In 1997, Congress ordered the military to assess the mental health of all deploying troops. The newspaper, citing Pentagon statistics, said fewer than 1 in 300 service members were referred to a mental health professional before shipping out for Iraq as of October 2005.

Twenty-two U.S. troops committed suicide in Iraq last year. That number accounts for nearly one in five of all noncombat deaths and was the highest suicide rate since the war started, the newspaper said.

The paper reported that some service members who committed suicide in 2004 or 2005 were kept on duty despite clear signs of mental distress, sometimes after being prescribed antidepressants with little or no mental health counseling or monitoring. Those findings conflict with regulations adopted last year by the Army that caution against the use of antidepressants for "extended deployments."

Although Defense Department standards for enlistment disqualify recruits who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, the military also is redeploying service members to Iraq who fit that criteria, the newspaper said.

"I can't imagine something more irresponsible than putting a soldier suffering from stress on (antidepressants), when you know these drugs can cause people to become suicidal and homicidal," said Vera Sharav, president of the Alliance for Human Research Protection, a New York-based advocacy group. "You're creating chemically activated time bombs."

Posted by binky at 12:14 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 13, 2006


This year I am really feeling the move towards a new season. I'm always glad to see winter go, delighted to see light outside when I get up in the morning, glad not to put on fifteen gazillion layers or wear a tobaggan in the house. This comes, no doubt, from growing up in the subtropics, and living in Brazil. But this spring feels more full of excitement and energy than many a year.

To celebrate, I've been in the garden. I'm not a dainty gardener, but a filthy gardener. I hate using gloves. I'll stick my hand in anything, which probably isn't such a good idea. I come in looking like I've been in a cat fight, with scratches all up and down my arms. Fingernails? Forget it. First of all, I cut them off to nubs (the combined sports of gardening, rock climbing and pottery are all no nails activities). Even so, I manage to embed grime. The closest thing I can think of to my permanent gardener's "outline" I can think of is from when my brother worked at a gas station, and had mechanic's grime. It's not uncommon for people to say to me, "oh, I see you bite your nails too."

In our zone, it's not really safe to put in a garden until May first, and even then I keep out some old bed sheets and blankets in case there is a snap frost, and I have to run out and cover things up. Even so, it's not really warm yet, and some things are having a hard time getting sprouted. I've re-potted all the house plants. Scraped off the scale. Hosed out the whiteflies and all the other baddies that accumulate inside over the 6-7 months of sadness. I've got three trees that are begging for bigger pots, but I'm afraid that if I upgrade, I won't be able to move them anymore, and then they'll either have to stay in (which they don't reallly like year round) or build a greenhouse (where oh where? and won't the assholes next door complain?).

Feeling optimistic nevertheless, I overbought on seeds and seedlings. I have a "thinning" problem. I have trouble being cruel to be kind, and ripping out those little greenies that are trying so hard, but will end up crowding out all the others, and ultimately killing all of each other off. I know for sure I bought too many tomatoes. Especially since I also have three egg cartons full of seeds I started from scratch from the heirlooms I grew in past years.

I suppose I ought to divulge that I live on a small city lot, and that my soil is heavily clay. No lie, I dug some up, and it was gray and creamy, with some orange iron streaks in it. I even took them to the pot shop, and made some little test vases, and fired them at various temperatures. The trash can smoke fire left them yellowish...not really vitrified. I tried them at cone 10-12, and they melted into puddles. The real beauty came out at cone 6, a nice rich, coppery rust color. No suprise of course, given the iron streaks. However, not much good for the garden.

Which brings me to the subject of raised beds. Oh how I love raised beds. The only thing I love more than raised beds, is compost. Did I mention the small city lot? I have three compost piles. It's not really organic, even though I've been gardening sans chemicals for eight years, because I compost non-organic stuff like Chiquita banana peels. It's close though, and I'm also working towards eliminating any remaining lawn. I keep a small stretch for the dogs to poop on, but otherwise it's getting to be more and more beds, and in the flat bits, white clover. Even the strip between the sidewalk and the street has now been converted.

This of course, annoys the asshole neighbors no end. They mow. A lot. And when they mow, they often sweep the lawn of detritus when they finish. Oh, you heard right. Now, they also like to aim their mower right for my car in the driveway, and as their lot is about four feet higher than mine, spray the whole side with grass and crap. Lovely. Let's just say that there's not a lot of aesthetic consonsance happening here. They actually prompted one of their workmen to ask me one time "you mean to tell me you actually plant wild carrots [ed note: Queen Anne's Lace]?

So, what will I prouduce this year, from my clay soil, infested with slugs - and yes, I've done the beer, done the diatomaceous earth, done it all, but they still come? Let's see working in a full circle around the house, I've got (mixing all categories, and not repeating things making several appearances):

Potatoes (small purple), columbine, french hollyhock, kale (two kinds) endive, sansiveris, sweet woodruff, solomon's seal, harry lauder's walking stick, all manner of hostas, lily of the valley, wild clematis, lovage, bee balm, lemon balm, romaine, three kinds of "spring mix" lettuce, arugula, comfrey, tomatoes (eight kinds), bush beans, various and sundry zinnias, cosmos, asters, sunflowers, hollyhocks, four o'clocks, rudbeckia, yucca, daylilies, sedum, one rose, asiatic lilies, pennyroyal and rue (the abortionist's garden), Queen Anne's lace, root fennel, florence fennel, lamb's ear, kerea, peonies (three colors), nasturtiums, echinacea, basil (tons), chives, tarragon, lavender, haricots verts, watermelon, honeydew melon, thyme (three kinds), sage (three kinds), sorrel, catnip, mint (four kinds), cilantro, flat leaf parsley, marjoram, oregano, beets (two kinds), peas, salvia, dill, and more on the porch steps in pots but who is counting?

Goosenecked loosetrife is the bane of my existence. With the loosestrife, I'm like the dad with the furnace in A Christmas Story. The people who lived here before put it in, and it keeps coming back, sprouting up in the midst of everything.

Right now, all the annuals are mostly still sleeping, but a few things are peeking out (the spring lettuce) and I can't stay away. I've got to be out fidgeting. Picking weeds. Breaking the odd clod of soil with my fingertips. It's like having a snoozing baby in the house. You have to keep checking. Just to see if she's awake yet.

Oh, yes, spring. She is waking up!

Posted by binky at 06:44 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Did you know...

...that Fort Sam Houston has a Howitzer Street?

Does anyone know what the HCSSA is?

Posted by binky at 04:04 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

So, about all this phone company business

Are we really surprised that the big phone companies (but not Qwest) meekly rolled over for the NSA database? Not even condsidering cynical thoughts like quid pro quo over ending Net Neutrality, can you imagine any major corporation that wouldn't cave rather than threaten the friendly relationship with government? Oh wait, there are a couple.

Atrios is plugging Working Assets, a company which donates to progressive charities and opposed the NSA database. I've had working assets over more than a decade in four states, and wouldn't switch for anything. When my long distance service was slammed by a lying (they said I switched the service for pro-life values) criminal (slamming is illegal) whackjob (associated with Randall Terry) pro-life (well, anti-abortion, but they called themselved pro-life) phone company, not only was Working Assets the ones to let me know, but they called to ask if they had done something wrong, and how could they make it right. Then they helped me get the Attorney General's office involved.

Just sayin'.

Posted by binky at 11:19 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Bill Clinton's MUCH More Popular Than George Bush

Who better protected national security? Clinton 46, Bush 42. And yes, that's your war-time decider's supposed strength with the people. When it comes to who has done more for average Americans, or for the US economy, or on pursuing affairs, or for tax policy, or for not dividing Americans Clinton blows Bush away. It's not remotely close. The last president is vastly more highly thought of than the current president.

Posted by armand at 10:57 AM | Comments (22) | TrackBack

No, That's Not The Way It Works

I may have missed a previous occurance of this, but as far as I know this is the first recorded instance of Iraqi Army units fighting each other.

This is bad news. It is, in fact, very bad news. It shouldn't surprise anyone (click through to the story) that it was Kurds fighting Shiites. It is clearly not open warfare (only one military and one civilian death), but it does showcase the hostility between the groups, and the utter lack of command and control that anyone (American or Iraqi) has over organized units (left obviously unsaid is the fact that they are willing to start shooting each other).

Not a good milestone.

Posted by baltar at 01:58 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

But choose wisely...

...for while the true Grail will bring you life, the false Grail will take it from you.

You have chosen... wisely.

Posted by binky at 12:44 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 12, 2006

Linkage in Lieu of Bloggage

Yeah, yeah, graduation is Sunday.

Echidne of the Snakes visits our recent topic du jour, the oppressed white christian male. Who knew that black lesbian feminists ruled the world?

Amanda takes on the LaTimes piece making the rounds about why women don't want to reproduce. Click through to the original article. Amanda also lives with a violent niphead.

Pseudo-Adrienne highlights an un-talked about aspect of the pre-Roe United States: the girls who went away.

In a post that hits close to my heart on the issue, Angry Black Bitch has a call to active citienship, including the responsibilities we all have.

Jon Stewart reminds us how many "right men--at this critical moment--in our nation's history" there have been.

Feministing finds a buried story that reveals that contrary to standard policy, the White House was exerting pressure on the FDA over Plan B.

The Boston Progressive spreads the word from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: you might not be able to get Plan B in time, so get an advance prescription.

As always, The Rude Pundit delivers with true profane mastery: Michael Hayden: Yet Another Motherfucker For America.

I'm not the biggest fan of Wikipedia, but was intrigued by the "random article" link (on the left side between "recent changes" and "help"). I got Mario Jardel.

Did you hear? Charlie moved to the woods.

And last but not least, Boys in Makeup! Suits! And a speedo!.

Posted by binky at 08:14 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 11, 2006

Gov. Ernie Fletcher (R-KY) Indicted

It's not every day that a sitting governor is indicted. If the stories I've seen so far are accurate it had never happened before in the history of Kentucky (which of course became a state back in the 1700's). That is, it had never happened until today.

Posted by armand at 05:44 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

And while the party in power spends its time worrying about sluts and homos...

...Russia is engaging in a little signalling:

The main themes of Putin's speech were the importance of the Russian army and the need to increase the country's birthrate, calling the persistent population decline one of the most serious problems facing the country.

Putin also called for Russia to focus on investment and innovation to win its deserved place in the world economy. He also called for more work to tackle alcoholism.

Devoting much of the hour-long speech to defense, Putin stressed that Russia needs a strong military not only to guard against terrorism and attacks but also to resist political pressure from abroad. He noted that Russia's military budget was 25 times lower than that of the United States.

"Their house is their fortress -- good for them," he said. "But that means that we also must make our house strong and reliable."

"We must always be ready to counter any attempts to pressure Russia in order to strengthen positions at our expense," Putin said. "The stronger our military is, the less temptation there will be to exert such pressure on us."

Putin said the government would work to strengthen the nation's nuclear deterrent as well as conventional military forces without repeating the mistakes of the Cold War era, when a costly arms race against the United States drained Soviet resources.

"Our response must be based on intellectual advantage, it must be asymmetrical and less costly while increasing the reliability and efficiency of our nuclear triad," Putin said, adding that the nation will strengthen all its components -- long-range aviation, land-based strategic missile forces and nuclear submarines.

He said Russia would soon commission two nuclear submarines equipped with the new Bulava intercontinental ballistic missiles -- the nation's first since Soviet times -- while the land-based strategic missile forces will get their first unit of mobile Topol-M missiles.

Ah, but maybe there is common ground after all. Putin did issue a "plea for more babies.

Posted by binky at 01:22 AM | Comments (13) | TrackBack

Who's Left?

Via Echidne, we find a link to an AP wire blurb indicating that the Justice Deparment has given up investigating the legality of the NSA wiretapping program. Why did Justice give up?

"We have been unable to make any meaningful progress in our investigation because OPR [Office of Professional Responsibility] has been denied security clearances for access to information about the NSA program," OPR counsel H. Marshall Jarrett wrote to Hinchey. Hinchey's office shared the letter with The Associated Press. Jarrett wrote that beginning in January 2006, his office has made a series of requests for the necessary clearances. Those requests were denied Tuesday. "Without these clearances, we cannot investigate this matter and therefore have closed our investigation," wrote Jarrett.

So, if Congress can't investigate it (Prez has authority to do what he wants; Congress can't interfere), the Press can't talk about it (gives info to our enemies), and the Justice Department can't see if any laws were broken (NSA won't give them clearances to investigate), is anyone left standing who can see if (perhaps) any actual laws or parts of the two-fucking-hundred year old founding-fucking-document US Constitution were violated?

Just wondering.

Posted by baltar at 12:55 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Well, Florida's Gonna Have a Wacky Six Months

It's official: Katherine Harris will not be challenged for the Republican nomination for US Senate. Thus, she will face off against Nelson.

She will lose. The more interesting question is what silliness will occur around her campaign in the process of losing.

Should be a strange ride.

Posted by baltar at 12:18 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 10, 2006

Anti-Abortion Pill

The Onion:

Pfizer, manufacturer of UR-86—dubbed the "last-morning-ever pill"—said the drug is intended only for occasions when the mind-set or politics of the mother threaten the life of the fetus.

"This drug is designed for extreme cases in which the mother cannot or should not be saved, or when her health has been placed before that of her unborn child," Pfizer spokesman Anthony Wright said.


Tuesday night, South Dakota legislators introduced a bill to impose a five-day waiting period for teenage girls and women before they can buy the pill, claiming its use does not adequately safeguard the lifestyle of the father, the laundry of the father, or the favorite meals of the father. The legislators cited Pfizer's own published list of side effects of UR-86, which include domestic messiness, already-born-child neglect, and inadequate stocking of the fridge.

Still, Pfizer anticipates not only that the drug will be popular with husbands, but also that, once available over the counter, UR-86 will likely find a large consumer base in mothers-in-law, downstairs neighbors, and extramarital lovers.

Via Twisty.

Posted by binky at 03:28 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Friends With Money

I didn't love Lovely and Amazing. In fact I found Catherine Keener's lead unusually easy to dislike. So much so that if she'd walked in front of a speeding bus halfway through the film I would have been thrilled. But that film dealt with some interesting relationships and featured some nice characters and good performances when it came to the women who surrounded Keener's character. So I was curious to see what writer/director Nicole Holofcener's follow-up, Friends With Money, would be like. I deeply regret that decision.

The movie has nothing to say, really. It doesn't take you anywhere or show you anything of the slightest interest. It's dull, unenlightening and in parts just weird (and not in a good way). I mean what's the point of the Simon McBurney metrosexual character? But much, much worse than these (considerable) sins and weaknesses are (again) the characters Holofcener writes. Joan Cusack's is fine, but I hated the other three at positiving seething levels. I mean I DESPISED them. Well, at the end not Aniston's becomes she's such a passive, tiresome, bored entity that it's hard to maintain seething hatred towards her. But the Keener and McDormand characters - walking in front of a speeding bus would have been far too good for them. I don't normally advocate torture, but ...

What I find really peculiar about Holofcener writing characters like this is that they are so awful in ways that personify some of the worst supposedly-feminine stereotypes - cranky, bossy and nasty for no good reason (though of course acting this way is done in the name of supposedly good aims), hopelessly (and stupidly) misreading men, happliy letting men walk all over them, drastic mood changes and turning against their own previous decisions, irrational, too relationship-centered ... I could go on. At length. But I find it curious that a woman would write these women - who "irritating" doesn't begin (not even close) to describe - and make them so obnoxious by employing the worst traits men often attribute to women. Maybe that's not so strange, but I find it peculiar.

Anyway, avoid this film - avoid it like the plague - unless you are a sadist.

Posted by armand at 01:17 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Primary Results in Nebraska - No McCain Effect

OK, so I don't really have a terribly strong interest in who serves as the governor of Nebraska. But I am happy to see that the winner of the GOP primary (the incumbent governor) was the guy endorsed by Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) and not the guy endorsed by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ). McCain endorsed Congressman (and ex-Cornhuskers coach) Tom Osborne - and for once Osborne lost in Big 12 country.

Posted by armand at 10:49 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 09, 2006

And since we're kind of on a roll here...

Jacflash and I were talking, in the comments, about the supposed and much balleyhooed (no bedbugs) persecution of Christians. I suggested that rather than persecution, what is unnerving to certain members of the faith - and is a flame being fanned by some craven reactionaries - is the perceived threat to hegemonic dominance.

Reflecting on my Methodist upbringing, I recalled the sense of superiority over other religions.

And totally forgot the problem of those pesky atheists:

I was stunned when I read the results of a survey that was recently conducted by the University of Minnesota’s department of sociology about atheism. It seems that Americans are distrusting of atheists although, from the study, it appears that they have little idea what it means. According to most of the 2000 Americans surveyed, we are self-centered, prone to criminal behavior, materialistic, untrustworthy, don’t have core values, don’t care about our fellow citizens let alone the rest of humanity and you shouldn’t let your sons and daughters marry us. Glad to know we’re so highly regarded by our fellow Americans.


There seems to be a sense that if you don’t believe in God, you must believe instead in the opposite of God. I guess this is a function of our polarized society and our vain attempts to order the world into black and white. I have no problem with others having faith in God, I have faith in things too. I just don’t kid myself that there are any absolutes.


This week, Christians are gathering in Washington D.C. to formulate a strategy for fighting back in the “War on Christians”, but who is persecuting them? Atheists? Not likely, considering we are a disconnected and highly unorganized group. What are they so afraid of? If the word “God” is erased from our money, our courtrooms and our public places, does that really have any effect on their faith? Do they need non-believers to validate their belief in God? Having “God” on our money and in our public squares has not made me believe in His existence, so how could it possibly have the opposite effect?

The separation of Church and State is a protection for all of us. Government can’t mandate religion and it can’t infringe upon religious institutions either. Legislating morality is un-American and it doesn’t work, this is what atheists know and what Christians must learn. Atheism doesn’t mean amoral, it just means that external forces are not necessary for the formation of, and adherence to, a moral code. In most cases, we share a common vision of American society. It’s just how we get there where the difference is found.

And that reminded me of a recent conversation I had with a family member, about someone another family member associated with on a regular basis. In the conversation judgmental pity - with a heaping side order of tsk tsking - was offered in the general direction of the poor girl, and how the family member shouldn't really associate with people like that in any significant way (e.g. dating), but wasn't so sad about her life. You see, the poor girl wasn't a christian [ed note: I have no idea whether this was actually true, but the young woman in question didn't talk constantly about being a christian and did not - apparently - attend church on a regular basis] and therefore - ready? are you sure? positive? - had no morals.

That's right. Not a christian=has no morals.

Being the fact loving girl that I am, I tried the "but what about the Buddhist respect for life? The Jewish faith? The Golden Rule? The Hippocratic Oath? Rational ethics?"

Well, you know what I mean.

Why, yes, I'm afraid I do.

And that's why I'm extremely skeptical of not only all of this persecution nonsense, but most of that whole ball of wax.

And as Jacflash pointed out, the Vatican - and Opus Dei too - are trying to make sure the flames of the persecution complex start flicking towards criticism too.

Posted by binky at 11:38 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 08, 2006

Thrice Science

"Caesar demands a building permit."

It may have been built with heavenly intentions, but a judge has ruled that the creationism theme park known as Dinosaur Adventure Land still must obey earthly laws.

Escambia County authorities this week locked up a museum building at the theme park on North Palafox Street in Pensacola after Circuit Judge Michael Allen ruled the owners were in contempt of court.

Owners of the park, which shows how dinosaurs may have roamed the Earth just a few thousand years ago, did not obtain a building permit before constructing the building in 2002. They have argued in and out of court that it violates their "deeply held" religious beliefs, and that the church-run facility does not have to obtain permits.

After almost four years of litigation, the judge disagreed and said the county has the authority to close the building until the owners comply with regulations.

The judge also fined two church leaders $500 each per day for every day the building is used or occupied. If church officials continue to refuse to comply with local ordinances, the judge may decide that the building can be razed, Allen's ruling said.

County commissioners showed no sympathy to members of the Creation Science Evangelism ministry who spoke out Thursday night at a commission meeting about the county's actions.

"Scripture also says 'Render unto Caesar what Caesar demands.' And right now, Caesar demands a building permit," County Commission Chairman Mike Whitehead said.

A building permit and inspection by county authorities is vital to ensuring the theme park is safe for the thousands of people who reportedly visit the park and museum every year, Whitehead said.

Church leader Kent Hovind vowed to appeal the case.

"We will continue our legal fight," Hovind said Thursday.

"This is pure religious persecution," said Glen Stoll, who works closely with Hovind on legal issues.

Legal questions are nothing new for Dinosaur Adventure Land and the leaders of the church group that operates it:

· In 2004, The Internal Revenue Service raided Hovind's home and businesses. Agents said Hovind had failed to pay taxes. That case is pending, and federal attorneys declined to comment about it.

· While the building permit case was in court, the ownership of the theme park was transferred to Stoll, who resides in Washington State, according to court papers. Stoll has been investigated at least twice by federal authorities, court records show.

Last year, the U.S. attorney in Seattle filed a lawsuit against Stoll, charging him with promoting a scheme encouraging people to avoid paying taxes by claiming to be religious entities, according to news reports.

Oh, the patriots, who payeth not their taxes and care less for thine safety when visiting dinosaur-land to see what a trickster good old Jehovah is to hide those fake dinosaur bones!

Have these guys ever heard of Loki?

Via Pharyngula.

Posted by binky at 10:00 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

More Science!

And just as likely to be disregarded as inconvenient:

As much as we may like to believe that mother animals are designed to nurture and protect their young, to fight to the death, if need be, to keep their offspring alive, in fact, nature abounds with mothers that defy the standard maternal script in a raft of macabre ways. There are mothers that zestily eat their young and mothers that drink their young's blood. Mothers that pit one young against the other in a fight to the death and mothers that raise one set of their babies on the flesh of their siblings.

Doesn't quite fit with the script. Then again, the script says we are supposed to be separate from and dominant of nature and all that. Jesus helps us with that, right?


Posted by binky at 09:41 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Not that the wingnuts will pay any attention to this:

In both cases the findings add weight to the idea that homosexuality has a physical basis and is not learned behavior.

"It shows sexual orientation may very well have a different basis between men and women ... this is not just a mirror image situation," said Sandra Witelson, an expert on brain anatomy and sexual orientation at the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.

"The important thing is to be open to the likely situation that there are biological factors that contribute to sexual orientation," added Witelson, who was not part of the research team.

Because, of course, science and facts are associated with that whole, liberal, reality, thingamabob.

Posted by binky at 09:37 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

In the days before good lip synching...

...but after makeup and hairspray:

Posted by binky at 08:48 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

The End of the CIA?

I think this is a truly terrible idea, particularly at this point in time. I mean really, do we want Donald Rumsfeld in charge of more national security activities? Especially these activities? Who is going to feel safer and more secure? Or even expect simple competence in our policies and their implementation?

Posted by armand at 05:39 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Tony Blair's Horrible Reshuffle

I didn't like it, but this (unusually cleverly written) analysis of Tony Blair's reshuffling of his cabinet is devastating. It's well worth your time if you are interested in British politics. And it really makes one wonder - has Blair finally lost it?

Posted by armand at 05:33 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

He Can't Even Fake it Anymore

Everyone else is talking about the president's big fish. This is the best summary yet:

see how three presidents answered the question "what was the best moment of your presidency?"

to summarize:

carter: the camp david negotiations

clinton: the resolution of the kosovo crisis

bush: that time i caught a big fish on my ranch


Posted by binky at 11:43 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

A Times-Dispatch Hit Piece on Jim Webb

The headline blares: Webb speech praised Confederate Army.

But if you actually read the article it's clear that Webb wasn't doing anything of the kind in the way that the headline implies. Given the pro-Republican bent of the paper, perhaps this isn't surprising. But it's shameful that a publication that you would think exists to better inform and educate its readers would present information in such a biased and misleading way. And they seem to suggest that this in some way balances the grotesque past Confederate lovin' behavior of (California-bred) US Senator George Allen. That's ridiculous. Allen's quite possibly a sadist and in his youth (in California) delighted in wearing a Confederate flag pin. What Webb was talking about here, in a measured way, was how a country deals with its past and what you are fighting for when you fight for it. Allen the bully and Webb the patriot are in no way alike.

Posted by armand at 10:04 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Stupidity in Florida

Oh, shucks, how could we have guessed there'd be a picture of Jeb?

The Florida Legislature gave final approval to a bill Thursday that requires high school students to declare a major, similar to college students.

The measure now goes to Governor Jeb Bush, who pushed the requirement as part of a sweeping education overhaul approved by the House 90-24. The Senate passed it earlier in the day 39-1.

"It's important because it'll make the high school experience more relevant for a broader range of students," Bush said. "This will give them a chance to pursue education where their interests lie. ... There still will be core curricula credits that they'll need to pass."

How do I hate this? Let me count the ways...

1) If college students can't figure out what they want to do with their lives, how can high school students?

2) Since adolescents' brains aren't fully developed until they reach their early twenties, how can anyone know what they want or can do with their lives?

3) If we don't start paying to attract decent teachers to high schools, how are we going to attract the kind of specialists that majors will require?

4) Why don't we try actually teaching the children to read, write and do math and science first?

5) Does this mean the current mandatory major for high school students in Florida, how to pass the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, will be one of the options? [ed note: I kid you not, my nephew had a class in high school, a class, like any other, on how to pass the FCAT.

6) Can students major in Religion and Pseudoscience?

7) Will a full range of majors be available at all Florida schools, or just in the white suburban Republican districts?

Ah fuck it. I don't know why I'm worried. With the way things are going with global warming, some big hurricane is going to blow all the schools and kids in Florida away anyway.

Posted by binky at 12:21 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 07, 2006

The Pill=Satan

No, I am not "shitting you."

"I cannot imagine any development in human history, after the Fall, that has had a greater impact on human beings than the pill," Mohler continued. "

So, remember when I was telling you about how it wasn't just a pro-"baby" thing?

The wheels of history have a tendency to roll back over the same ground. For the past 33 years — since, as they see it, the wanton era of the 1960's culminated in the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision in 1973 — American social conservatives have been on an unyielding campaign against abortion. But recently, as the conservative tide has continued to swell, this campaign has taken on a broader scope. Its true beginning point may not be Roe but Griswold v. Connecticut, the 1965 case that had the effect of legalizing contraception. "We see a direct connection between the practice of contraception and the practice of abortion," says Judie Brown, president of the American Life League, an organization that has battled abortion for 27 years but that, like others, now has a larger mission. "The mind-set that invites a couple to use contraception is an antichild mind-set," she told me. "So when a baby is conceived accidentally, the couple already have this negative attitude toward the child. Therefore seeking an abortion is a natural outcome. We oppose all forms of contraception."

The American Life League is a lay Catholic organization, and for years — especially since Pope Paul VI's "Humanae Vitae" encyclical of 1968 forbade "any action which either before, at the moment of or after sexual intercourse, is specifically intended to prevent procreation" — being anti-contraception was largely a Catholic thing. Protestants and other non-Catholics tended to look on curiously as they took part in the general societywide acceptance of various forms of birth control. But no longer. Organizations like the Christian Medical and Dental Associations, which inject a mixture of religion and medicine into the social sphere, operate from a broadly Christian perspective that includes opposition to some forms of birth control. Edward R. Martin Jr., a lawyer for the public-interest law firm Americans United for Life, whose work includes seeking to restrict abortion at the state level and representing pharmacists who have refused to prescribe emergency contraception, told me: "We see contraception and abortion as part of a mind-set that's worrisome in terms of respecting life. If you're trying to build a culture of life, then you have to start from the very beginning of life, from conception, and you have to include how we think and act with regard to sexuality and contraception." Dr. Joseph B. Stanford, who was appointed by President Bush in 2002 to the F.D.A.'s Reproductive Health Drugs Advisory Committee despite (or perhaps because of) his opposition to contraception, sounded not a little like Daniel Defoe in a 1999 essay he wrote: "Sexual union in marriage ought to be a complete giving of each spouse to the other, and when fertility (or potential fertility) is deliberately excluded from that giving I am convinced that something valuable is lost. A husband will sometimes begin to see his wife as an object of sexual pleasure who should always be available for gratification."


Many Christians who are active in the evolving anti-birth-control arena state frankly that what links their efforts is a religious commitment to altering the moral landscape of the country. In particular, and not to put too fine a point on it, they want to change the way Americans have sex. Dr. Stanford, the F.D.A. adviser on reproductive-health drugs, proclaimed himself "fully committed to promoting an understanding of human sexuality and procreation radically at odds with the prevailing views and practices of our contemporary culture." Focus on the Family posts a kind of contraceptive warning label on its Web site: "Modern contraceptive inventions have given many an exaggerated sense of safety and prompted more people than ever before to move sexual expression outside the marriage boundary." Contraception, by this logic, encourages sexual promiscuity, sexual deviance (like homosexuality) and a preoccupation with sex that is unhealthful even within marriage.

"Unhealthful." Define that one for us, please, do.

"There is evidence that there is a contraceptive effect of breast feeding after fertilization. While a woman is breast feeding, the first ovulation is characterized by a short luteal phase, or second half of the cycle. It's thought that because of that, implantation does not occur." In other words, if the emergency contraception pill causes abortions by blocking implantation, then by the same definition breast feeding may as well.

So, the reactionaries that are squicked out by the La Leche mom's public feedings now have pro-life ammunition. Sheesh. Not that they might think, oh, well, then, plan B isn't so different than nature.

Oh wait, did I say nature? My bad. There should have been some reference to Divine Design.

Here's a guy who doesn't understand the basic principle underlying his job.

Ron Stephens is both a pharmacist and a Republican state legislator in Illinois, one of the states that are currently battlegrounds between pharmacists who claim the right to refuse to fill prescriptions for emergency contraceptives and women's and civil rights groups that argue that pharmacists must fill all prescriptions presented to them. Stephens not only supports the pharmacists' right of refusal but he also refuses to fill prescriptions for emergency contraception himself. He does, however, fill prescriptions for the birth control pill. When I asked him recently to explain his thinking on the two drugs, he said: "It's the difference between stopping a pregnancy from happening and ending a pregnancy. My understanding of the science is that the morning-after pill can end a pregnancy, whereas birth control pills will make a woman's body believe she is already pregnant so that the egg will not be fertilized." And what if studies show that, in fact, both drugs can prevent implantation? "Everyone has their natural prejudice," Stephens replied. "I'm going to understand it my way, and the issue is that you should not be forced to do something you believe is immoral."

Do you think a mason who didn't believe in the optimal mixing ratio of water to cement would keep his job? Or an aeronautic engineer who denied the existence of downforce? Because this guy, talking about "his understanding of science" is pretty much showing he doesn't have an understanding of science.

In the current, evolving movement against contraception, therefore, some groups soft-pedal their position. "Concerned Women for America does not take a position regarding birth control," Wendy Wright, president of that influential, 500,000-member, biblically-based organization, told me. She went on to say, however, that C.W.A. does "educate regarding how certain birth control methods operate." Specifically, the group offers a brochure titled "High-Tech Birth Control: Health Care or Health Risk?" to those who call seeking guidance. Most methods of birth control can pose health risks. A 2005 World Health Organization study, for instance, found a connection between some forms of the pill and cancer. But the C.W.A. brochure goes well beyond this. Its section on emergency contraception advises that "its main function is to abort a living human embryo." One function of the birth control pill, it states, is to induce "a chemical abortion." The section on the IUD indicates none of its practical benefits (its 99 percent effectiveness in preventing pregnancy, its reversibility) and consists mostly of a litany of health complications, many of which health experts refute.

Gee, what a surprise. Because of course, we know that experts are all liberals who think that things like facts and science actually mean something.

And check the arrogant authoritarianism out here:

An editorial in the conservative magazine Human Events characterized the effect of such legislation as "enabling more low-income women to have consequence-free sex."

Got it? If you're poor, you need to be punished and burdened by the consequences of sex.

Oh, wait, isn't the consequence of sex a desired and loved bundle of joy that's God's own blessing?

Fucking hypocrite assholes.

And I'm just skipping over the whole "purity ball" creep out. Check out Digby and Digby again, not to mention Feministe, Hugo, etc and so forth.

Abstinence education, meanwhile, gets withering criticism from the other side. "There is still not a single, sound peer-reviewed study that shows abstinence programs work," says William Smith of Siecus. Peter Bearman, director of the Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy at Columbia University, who has analyzed virginity pledge programs including Rector's, says: "The money being poured into these programs is out of control. And the thing is this is not about public health. It's a moral revolution. The goal is not stopping unwanted pregnancy but stopping sexual expression."

Well, duh.

In much of Western Europe, abortion and contraception are available and fully covered by insurance. The dark side of this, according to some commentators, is the declining birth rate in Europe. It takes an average of 2.1 children per woman to keep a population constant. Italy and Spain are tied for the lowest fertility rate in Western Europe, at 1.28. Even Ireland, the country with the highest birth rate, at 1.86, is suffering a population drain. (The U.S. rate is 2.09.) From 1994 to 2004, the average age at which European women became mothers rose by about 16 months, to 28.2. This, according to social conservatives, is the black hole into which the contraceptive mentality is drawn.

So, it's a dark-sided thing that women aren't forced to bear children they don't want. I can see it now, the quasi-Martha slogan: Repressing women's free's a good thing.

And, around the world, countries in which abortion is legal and contraception is widely available tend to rank among the lowest in rate of abortion, while those that outlaw abortion — notably in Central and South America and Africa — have rates that are among the highest. According to Stanley K. Henshaw of the Guttmacher Institute, recent drops in abortion rates in Eastern Europe are due to improved access to contraceptives. The U.S. falls somewhere in the middle in rate of abortion: at 21 per 1,000 women of reproductive age, it is roughly on par with Nigeria (25), much better than Peru (56) but far worse than the Netherlands (9).

Oh, damn those pesky facts again! They interfere with religious absolutism every fucking time!

And, now, regular readers will once again hear me say what I've been talking about for a long time, that the social conservatives in this country are more like communists than anything else. Why?

The problem with this, as far as American social conservatives are concerned, is that it treats symptoms rather than what they see as the underlying disease: an outlook that is focused on the individual at the expense of family and society. Their ultimate goal is not a number — the percentage of abortions or unintended pregnancies — but an ideal, a way for people to think and behave.

Voila! The New Socialist Man New Fundamentalist American.

It's too bad there isn't a hell, I suppose. At least then we could take comfort that these sanctimonious assholes who want to tell you that your wife shouldn't give you a blowjob are going to be frying in the fiery depths right next to their ideological papa, Stalin.

Posted by binky at 11:42 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


After an adventure to buy tomato plants and herbs a few towns away, there's nothing better than asking the locals for a spot to eat, and getting an awesome chili-cheese hotdog for $1.99 at the local gas station slash diner.

Summer's almost here, oh yes indeed.

Posted by binky at 09:11 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Politicizing Science: The CDC Version

Republican representative forces scientific panel on the failure of abstinence programs to include pro-abstinence speakers and bumps a panelist who was to present on how abstinence campaigns cause STDs to increase:

Researchers organizing a federal panel on sexually transmitted diseases say the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention allowed a congressman to include two abstinence-only proponents, bypassing the scientific approval process. Rep. Mark Souder, R-Ind., who chairs the House subcommittee on drug policy, questioned the balance of the original panel, which focused on the failure of abstinence-until-marriage programs. In e-mail to Health and Human Services officials, his office asked whether the CDC was "clear about the controversial nature of this session and its obvious anti-abstinence objective."

Last week the title of the panel was changed and two members were replaced. One of them was a Penn State student who was going to talk about how abstinence programs were tied to rising STD rates.


Scientists have complained about increasing government interference. Last year, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration officials told coordinators of a conference on suicide prevention to remove the words gay, lesbian and bisexual from its program and add a session on faith-based suicide prevention.

This was the first time, conference organizers said, that a single politician had so clearly interfered and achieved such dramatic results. The concern, they said, was that studies on sexual behavior would not be made public if they jarred with the administration's views on abstinence and other public-health issues.

"At the CDC, they're beside themselves," said Jonathan Zenilman, president of the American Sexually Transmitted Diseases Association and conference organizer. "These people aren't scientists; they haven't written anything. The only reason they're here is because of political pressure from the administration."

Neither of the new speakers -- Patricia Sulak, an ob/gyn and director of the Worth the Wait program, and Eric Walsh, a California physician -- went through the peer-review process required of other participants, although CDC officials did not explain why. Both panelists were funded by the HHS, although others said they were told they had to pay their own way.


Oster was called last week and told she would not be on the panel, where she was going to talk about how abstinence programs were tied to rising STD rates.

"It absolutely scares me," she said, "that there's this pressure to eliminate viable research from a professional conference."

Later, a representative from the office of Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla.) criticized her work in an e-mail message.

Coburn spokesman John Hart questioned why the CDC would present data that contradict the administration's policy.

Let's just savor that last sentence, shall we?

Via AmericaBlog.

Posted by binky at 08:26 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Altman's A Wedding

First off, Morris, you should tell dad that this is now on dvd. I remember him once saying that this was one of his favorite films, and since he's likely not seen it in years (or decades) he might want to check it out again.

And why might my father want to check it out again? Because it's a pretty cool movie - far from perfect, but quite interesting. My knowledge of Altman pre-The Player is woefully thin. Until I watched this I'd only seen MASH (which is, of course, great) and The Long Goodbye (which I can admire to some extent, but don't particularly like). Nonetheless, I think I've got a pretty good feel for what "Altmanesque" means, and if you like those kinds of movies, you'll likely enjoy this. There are dozens of characters, there's not a lot of plot, more illustration and observation and layered sounds. You are just dropped into a world without much context, and allowed to glimpse key moments and events. In this case the setting is a wedding (that's the first thing in the movie, and is over in less than 10 minutes), and then you actually meet the people and learn their stories. Some of it is deadly serious. There's also direct social commentary. There is ridiculous (but really funny) humor. And some bits are left a bit mysterious (like the Mia Farrow character, Buffy). My favorite bit by far is the hilarious would-be romance between Carol Burnett's Tulip, the mother of the bride, and Pat McCormick's Mac Goddard, an uncle of the groom. It's not remotely realistic, but it's a scream, and it really makes me wish I was alive when Ms. Burnett was working more regularly. But that's certainly not the only good bit. The backstory of the parents of the groom is touching (and sad). And the initial interaction between the bride and the groom's ex (played by Pam Dawber) is perfectly malicious.

In the end I'm not sure how well this all works when put together, and Altman might overplay it all in the film's final sequences. I'd say he probably does. But it's interesting, and if you like his work you'll want to see this movie.

Posted by armand at 05:40 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

WV for Democracy & the Mon Democratic Exec Committee

As some of you know, I occasionally attend meetings of WV for Democracy, a group of people who got to know each other during the 2004 campaign season, and who work on various political projects. One thing that a lot of people in the group wanted to do after the '04 campaign cycle was to get some new people on the Democratic Party's Executive Committee for Monongalia County. Basically, too many of the old guard are simply inactive and completely unresponsive. So Professor Peterson took charge of getting people across the county to volunteer to serve (and actually be active, if they are elected). Not every name on the list is a new person. There are incumbents on the board like Carey Blaney who've been doing a great job. But far too many of the incumbents have stayed in their positions too long and not done enough. So if you are interested in reinvigorating the Democrats of Mon County, I hope you consider voting for the candidates that WV for Democracy has endorsed in the election on May 9th. They are:

District 1 - Buffy Vehse; District 2 - Carroll Wetzel Wilkinson, John Lozier; District 3 - Carolyn Nelson, Carl Rotter; District 4 - Kathy Abate, Dave Hall; District 5 - Ron Allen; District 7 - Anita Mayer, Andrew Cockburn; District 9 - Judy Sirk, Donald D. Longfellow Jr.; District 10 - Carey Blaney, Karl Diefenbach; District 12 - Paul Martinelli.

Posted by armand at 12:13 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Bachmann Wins the Republican Endorsement in MN-6

Last year I wrote two posts on the bizarre and scary behavior of Minnesota State Senator Michelle Bachmann, who is probably the best known (and in her own unfortunate way, the wackiest) "social conservative" (punitive and reactionary) member of that state's legislature. Well guess who the Republicans have endorsed to replace Mark Kennedy (R-MN) in Congress.

Posted by armand at 11:57 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


That was some performance yesterday. He won the Kentucky Derby by the largest margin since Assault won by 8 lengths in 1946.

Posted by armand at 11:37 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 06, 2006

So Much Garbage, So Little Time

Really, there just isn't time. But on the other hand, the idiocy is so obvious, it's not even necessary to take the time.

Involuntary Sexual Arousal and Touching: Say that someone intentionally taps you on the shoulder to get your attention, or intentionally pats you on the back to compliment you, or even touches your arm in conversation or hugs you when parting. You might be slightly put off, at least under some circumstances, but the law would (and, I think, should) consider this to be well within the boundaries of permissible behavior. Not all unwanted touchings are batteries.

Say, on the other hand, that someone intentionally touches your genitals, or intentionally caresses your breasts (if you're a woman). In many circumstances, this would be considered a crime. Why the difference? I think that here too there is a connection with sexual arousal -- either the possibility that you might be involuntarily sexually aroused, or the likelihood that the other person is deriving some sort of sexual arousal from touching you.

Of course, unlike in the public nudity / public sex context, here there is unwanted touching; I don't want to overstate the force of the analogy. But as the first paragraph suggested, unwanted touching isn't always improper. What it is it about touching of genitals or women's breasts that makes it improper.

Some might argue that the distinction has to do with a pure implied license theory: (1) The law should prohibit touching that is unwanted and offensive to the touched person. , (2) We can presume -- regardless of the reason for the distinction, but simply as a matter of empirical generalizations about people's actual preferences -- that shoulder taps and pats, and parting hugs, are wanted, while touching of genitals and breasts (without some more specific reason to infer permission) is unwanted. (3) Therefore the former shouldn't be outlawed but the latter should be. Yet can that really be right? Say that someone makes clear that he doesn't like hugs or pats on the back; even if we might punish someone who hugs or pats the person over the person's objections, should we really punish him to nearly the same degree as someone who touches another's genitalia over that person's objections?

So while I'm not positive, it seems to me that there's something interesting and possibly important in play here: Some conduct that involuntarily sexually arouses another (or seriously risks doing so) may be improper, even if similar conduct in which involuntary sexual arousal is absent is generally fine.

I know some of you read this blog on a regular basis, but I have never understood why. This post is further evidence of its uselessness.

No really, it's that women are afraid of admitting they're being involuntarily aroused.

Wait, wait, I can't see. My eyes are rolled so far back in my head.

Via Pandagon.

Posted by binky at 07:08 PM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

Is Our Iraqi Government Set to Allow an Anti-Gay Genocide?

I don't use that word lightly - but since "Grand Ayatollah Sistani recently issued a fatwa on his website calling for the execution of gays in the 'worst, most severe way'" - the Shiite militias (which to all intents and purposes run much of the country) have stepped up attacks on gays and are calling for "calling for the eradication of homosexuals". This has been going on for some time, and it's getting worse. I'm beyond disgusted that Americans are being murdered, and we expending billions of dollars that could be spent on educating and healing millions of Americans, to put evil people like this in power. Beyond disgusted.

Posted by armand at 11:03 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

What the Hell?

Via Digby, comes this story in today's WaPo (that I missed):

The Air Force is investigating whether a two-star general violated military regulations by urging fellow Air Force Academy graduates to make campaign contributions to a Republican candidate for Congress in Colorado, Pentagon officials said yesterday.

Maj. Gen. Jack J. Catton Jr., who is on active duty at Langley Air Force Base, sent the fundraising appeal on Thursday from his official e-mail account to more than 200 fellow members of the academy's class of 1976, many of whom are also on active duty.

"We are certainly in need of Christian men with integrity and military experience in Congress," Catton wrote.


"The lack of any Air Force presence within the Congress was particularly telling over the last few years," Rayburn wrote, referring to controversy over proselytizing at the Air Force Academy and new Air Force regulations on religious expression. "For those of us who are Christians, there is that whole other side of the coin that recognizes that we need more Christian influence in Congress."

The story goes on to say that the candidate (Rayburn - a Republican candidate for the House seat where the Air Force Academy is, in Colorado) and Catton (the Air Force General who did this idiocy) are both claiming the only thing wrong is that Catton sent the email out on his "official" email account, and that if he'd sent it from his "personal" email account, it would have been fine.

Sometimes I wonder if I'm the only sane person left on the planet, and everyone else is nutzo. Active duty military people (of any rank) should not and cannot endorse any candidate. Period. Full stop. No discussion.

Retired military can do whatever they want. Freedom of speach and all that. But in our system, active duty military cannot be involved in politics (it is a short step from endorsing a candidate to running oneself as a candidate: if you can't see the fundamental wrongness of that, you need to re-take civics class). And I'm not even going to touch the (obviously as frightening) religious aspect of this.

That both an active-duty General and a candidate for US House don't seem to be aware of these basic concepts is frightening.

Posted by baltar at 11:00 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

The Best Prices in the Kentucky Derby

Not that I'd ever gamble, and gambling on this year's unusually competitive Kentucky Derby is even more of a gamble than usual, but A.P. Warrior at 15-1 seems a great price, as does Bluegrass Cat at 30-1. Yeah, he's possibly the hardest horse in the field to figure out, but 30-1? And obviously a lot of the people who follow this more closely than I do can't believe the price on Keyed Entry either. And there are a number of horses that would seem to have a very real shot at winning (Sweetnorthernsaint, Point Determined, Sinister Minister) that are around 10-1 or 12-1. Some people should make quite a profit on this unpredictable field.

Posted by armand at 10:31 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Daily Mail Endorses Ex-Republican Richie Robb

Charleston's Republican newspaper enthusiatically lauds Charleston's Republican congresswoman, and in the Democratic primary endorses the man who was until recently a Republican.

I'm shocked, just shocked.

What I find particularly amusing though is their description of Mark Hunt, and why they apparently think he shouldn't win the Democratic primary. This is all the editorial says about him: "Hunt is better known to voters, having represented the 31st District in the state House of Delegates. He is experienced in the legislative process. But he is a wealthy trial lawyer, unlikely to help rein in the excesses of an overly litigious society." I see - so apparently rich lawyers shouldn't be in Congress. Wouldn't adopting that criteria nationwide basically empty the Capitol?

Oh, and apparently Mike Callaghan shouldn't win the Democratic primary b/c ... he's a Democrat. The Daily Mail does write some priceless editorials.

UPDATE: By the way, I suppose I should note that the Gazette (Charleston's traditionally Democratic paper) endorsed Mike Callaghan in the primary to take on Rep. Capito.

Posted by armand at 10:16 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

May 05, 2006

There are days when I think about quitting

There's no matching this genius:

Indeed. It would be highly taxpayer-subsidized gay orgy to imply otherwise.

… I’m sorry, did I say “taxpayer-subsidized gay orgy”? I don’t know what I could have been thinking. Naturally, what I meant to say was “hot middle-aged Congressman-on-lobbyist XXX action”.

… Sorry again. Where is my head today? I should have said “irresponsible”. It would be highly irresponsible to imply otherwise. That’s all I wanted to say. Just that, and nothing at all about a fifteen-year-long homosexual coke-n-hookers-n-dogs-n-box turtles Republican party scene which would make a lost weekend on Fire Island look like an early-afternoon meeting of your grandmother’s penny-ante bridge club. So, please, let’s try to be professional about this.

… Thank you, Oh Merciful and Just Shakira’s Ass.

Posted by binky at 07:46 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

If The Left didn't already have a guaranteed ticket...

...I'd damn him to hell.

OK, so he gets props for the Tomita, but I've been making myself ill all afternoon being unable to rid myself of uh-oh, it's magic!.

Heck, I'll do it anyway. Damn you Norbizness!

Posted by binky at 06:58 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Privatization of the Army's food supply?

So Nick Andoscia went to Iraq. And hunger soon followed.

"I got a letter," says Karen. "And he had called me before that. He said 'send lots of tuna.' "

Nick told his mother that he and the men in his unit were all about 10 pounds lighter in their first few weeks in Iraq. They were pulling 22-hour patrol shifts. They were getting two meals a day and they were not meals to remember.

"He told me the two meals just weren't cutting it. He said the Iraqi food was usually better. They were going to the Iraqis and basically saying 'feed me.' "

Pounds and pounds of food started showing up amid the daily business of loans and deposits and withdrawals. Marianne Barao, the branch manager, said it could be done, the credit union could become the place where people help feed hungry Marines who are risking their lives on a skimpy diet.

"We sent out 51 pounds this week," says Karen. "There are customers coming in saying, 'What do you need?' "

The credit union is paying the cost of packing and shipping.


The last thing he should have to worry about is an empty stomach. The last thing he should have to do is approach Iraqis and ask for food.

Posted by binky at 05:42 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Tony Blair's Cabinet Reshuffle

A lot of Labourites (and especially Gordon Brown fans) must be pissed today (I mean the American version of "pissed" though maybe that'll lead to them becoming the British version of "pissed"). Prime Minister Tony Blair has carried out the kind of deep and extensive reshuffle that certainly would seem to point to him planning on sticking around for another year - or more. And that is of course something that a lot of Labour members (and especially Gordon Brown fans) don't want - at all.

My quick reactions:

Poor Jack Straw. He's a good and pretty capable guy and he gets pushed out as Foreign Secretary because Blair thinks he needs a new face presenting foreign policy. The prime minister should be informed that it's his foreign policy that people don't like, not the guy charged with administering it.

There had never been a female British Foreign Secretary until now? Huh. I hadn't realized that. Margaret Beckett's loyal and capable so she should do a decent job, though she's probably the last person on Great Britain you'd turn to if you really wanted a new face.

Why is John Prescott still Deputy Prime Minister? I mean I know why - but it's still rather embarrassing.

A big promotion for David Miliband. I'm sure people are going to read all kinds of things into that apropos of Blair/Brown politics.

You could make a strong argument that John Reid is the best fixer in the cabinet - but can even he run the Home Office effectively?

From the files of dog-bites-man - Ruth Kelly remains in the cabinet but gets reassigned from Education, and Education is turned over to another Blairite.

All in all this is an interesting move by the prime minister, and he likely needed to do something akin to this to get through 2006 (though I still don't think the FCO change was exactly the right call). But even with these changes, how much longer can Blair last? And how much longer can Brown wait? The summer of 2007 should be interesting.

Posted by armand at 05:35 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Filing Deadline in Rhode Island is June 28

You know, in case anyone feels like trying to defeat a young Kennedy this year (to give him some extra time for rehab?). Kennedy's always got one of the biggest campaign warchests among the members of the US House, but if the Republicans ever want to beat him, maybe this could be their year?

Posted by armand at 04:18 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 04, 2006

This Is Our Next President?

President Frist?

It is a story, as well, of how concepts and plans can be reduced to sound bites that make them seem absurd. And it is yet another example of how Senator Frist, who is contemplating a bid for the White House in 2008, has stumbled at the pinnacle of Senate power.

Mr. Frist failed to air the plan with all of his Republican colleagues, a serious oversight in the eyes of lawmakers who were caught off guard when they heard about it. One Republican, Senator John E. Sununu of New Hampshire, said that after he caught wind of it he quietly tried to steer leadership aides away.

How am I supposed to take Frist seriously?

Posted by baltar at 11:40 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Wednesday Still Grading Tests Test

The Ardent Atheist
The results are in, and it appears that you have scored 74%...
You are an atheist, pure and simple. You think God is just one big lie, and consider religious people to be both annoying and beneath you. Ardent atheists will argue tooth and claw for their position, and have no truck with people that won't listen. You think being an atheist is the only way to lead an honest life, and see no reason to accept the pleas of faith. Ardent atheists are the backbone of atheism. Be proud.

My test tracked 1 variable How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 99% on pentagrams
Link: The Atheist Test written by chi_the_cynic on Ok Cupid, home of the 32-Type Dating Test

Via PZ Myers.

Posted by binky at 06:19 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Color Me UNsurprised

Unintended pregnancies and abortions are up among poor women, probably a consequence of cutbacks in family planning funding to throw money away on abstinence only programs.

Based on nationwide data collected by the National Center for Health Statistics and other sources, the researchers found that from 1994 through 2001, the rate of unplanned pregnancy increased by almost 30 percent for women below the federal poverty line. For women in families comfortably above poverty (now $16,000 annually for a family of three), the rate of unplanned pregnancies fell by 20 percent during the same time.

Asked what was driving the trends, the authors noted that some state and federal reproductive health programs have been cut and made more restrictive in recent years, and the decline in contraceptive use could be a result of those changes. Both have increasingly focused on abstinence rather than contraception, and some have argued that switch is also leading to reduced contraceptive use and more unintended pregnancies. Many social conservatives argue, however, that contraceptives all have limitations and that the only way a woman can ensure she will not have an unintended pregnancy is to refrain from sexual intercourse until she is ready to have a child.

The finding that poor and wealthier women are having such increasingly different experiences with unintended pregnancy is part of a larger study of pregnancy and abortion. It found that the overall abortion rate has declined steadily for years and that a higher percentage of women with unintended pregnancies are carrying them to birth. It also concluded that women who do get abortions are doing so considerably earlier in their pregnancies, when it is safer for the woman, than in the past.

But as with unintended pregnancies generally, the differences between the experiences of poor and more affluent women in these categories were diverging, too. Among poor women, the proportion of unintended pregnancies that resulted in live births increased by almost 50 percent between 1994 and 2001, while it declined for women in families whose income was at least twice the official poverty level. Poor women who had abortions did so on average six days later in their pregnancy than women of greater means.

Next up, pathetically insufficient aid to those women and their children, and "welfare queen" rhetoric.

Posted by binky at 12:13 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 03, 2006

John McCain Has No Patience for the 1st Amendment

I know ya'll know this, but I thought I'd just mention it again given this - I loathe the senior senator from Arizona (or, I loathe his unlimited daddy-state, regulations-for-everything politics).

Posted by armand at 08:55 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Scholarship pre-reqs

I'm not sure what I think about this. On the one hand, scholarships have requirements. On the other, these seem to skew/restrict the eligibility quite a bit.

Students will qualify if they:

  • Have an advanced or honors high school diploma, as offered in at least 19 states.
  • Completed the courses of the State Scholars Initiative, a congressionally backed program. It requires students to take four years of English, three years of math, three years of lab science, three and a half years of social studies, and two years of a language other than English. Fourteen states have the program now, and eight more are starting soon.
  • Finished a set of courses similar to the State Scholars curriculum.
  • Taken at least two Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate courses and passed the tests in both subjects.
  • Posted by binky at 07:02 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    I should have just stayed in South America

    The Bush administration has driven government to the same levels of bloat, corruption and inefficiency. And next thing you know, even more of our seniors are going to be living in poverty.

    Federal investigators posing as senior citizens found that Medicare's operators routinely failed to give callers accurate and complete information about the government's new drug benefit, prompting Democratic critics of the Bush administration program to again request an extension of an approaching enrollment deadline.

    The investigators said that about one-third of their calls resulted in faulty responses or no response at all because of disconnected calls. The accuracy rates varied a great deal based on the question, but when it came to one of the most important questions, operators provided the right answer only 41 percent of the time. That question concerned which drug plan cost the least for a beneficiary based on certain drug needs.

    And if that isn't enough for you, look at this chart on how many people in the US are going without healthcare.

    Posted by binky at 05:37 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

    Juan Cole Totally Smokes Hitchens

    And then goes on to make a case against war in Iran. Wow.

    I'd like to take this opportunity to complain about the profoundly dishonest character of "attack journalism." Journalists are supposed to interview the subjects about which they write. Mr. Hitchens never contacted me about this piece. He never sought clarification of anything. He never asked permission to quote my private mail. Major journalists have a privileged position. Not just anyone can be published in Slate. Most academics could not get a gig there (I've never been asked to write for it). Hitchens is paid to publish there because he is a prominent journalist. But then he should behave like a journalist, not like a hired gun for the far Right, smearing hapless targets of his ire. That isn't journalism. For some reason it drives the Right absolutely crazy that I keep this little web log, and so they keep trotting out these clowns in amateurish sniping attacks. It is rather sad, that one person standing up to them puts them into such piranha-like frenzy.

    The precise reason for Hitchens' theft and publication of my private mail is that I object to the characterization of Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as having "threatened to wipe Israel off the map." I object to this translation of what he said on two grounds. First, it gives the impression that he wants to play Hitler to Israel's Poland, mobilizing an armored corps to move in and kill people.

    But the actual quote, which comes from an old speech of Khomeini, does not imply military action, or killing anyone at all. The second reason is that it is just an inexact translation. The phrase is almost metaphysical. He quoted Khomeini that "the occupation regime over Jerusalem should vanish from the page of time." It is in fact probably a reference to some phrase in a medieval Persian poem. It is not about tanks.

    It's long, but wow, damn.

    Posted by binky at 04:54 PM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

    The Family Stone

    As I was telling Baltar last night, there can be utterly conventional movies that are still interesting, honestly sweet and oddly captivating, even if you know from the first frame what'll hapen. To me, last year's In Her Shoes was an example of that movie. You know the journeys the two main characters would take. But the acting, the way it was shot and, most importantly the script worked in ways that led you to really care and be interested in those people. In contrast, The Family Stone was perfectly dreadful. You saw every, and I mean EVERY, turn a mile away because of the heavy-handed direction, and most of the action was hopelessly under-explained (when it was not just random or plain stupid). If I think about this movie too long I'll just get mad. So I'll let it suffice to think it's a real shame when a talented cast decides to waste their time on such a ridiculous, insipid and poorly constructed script. There's predictable you buy and that moves you. And then there's simply rehashing cliches in a short-hand that doesn't remotely work. The Family Stone is the latter - avoid it if you see it in a dvd store near you.

    Posted by armand at 02:26 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    What to do with your $100 bribe

    That is, if Fristy and Friends can push it through:

    The Republicans will, then, have instituted de facto public campaign financing on a scale that could rival any formal campaign finance reform proposal. If one million households were to honor the pledge suggested above, one hundred million dollars ($100,000,000) would flow into the coffers of the Democrats, the Greens, and other non-Republicans for the 2006/2008 election cycle. If the Republicans in Congress chose not to back down from their hare-brained, transparent vote-buying scheme, they would stand their shaky ground knowing very well that the commitment of non-Republicans to use their checks this way would be far greater than that of Republican voters to use their checks to support the GOP, especially considering how unpopular the Republicans are as we head into the jaws of the 2006 campaign season.

    Follow the link to see the image accompanying the Dark Wraith's post.

    Posted by binky at 02:08 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Violet has a question

    Why the difference?

    A 17-year-old Hispanic boy was allegedly attacked, sodomized with a pole, and burned with cigarettes by a couple of skinhead freaks in Houston. The two skinheads, who are charged with aggravated sexual assault, encountered the victim at a party.

    Interestingly, no one so far has suggested that the alleged victim may have actually agreed to be sodomized and later changed his mind. Nobody’s said a word about whether the victim was drinking, and as far as I can tell, there are no reports on whether he was a virgin or had any kind of reputation for sexual activity. Defense attorneys have not suggested that the victim was leading the skinheads on, giving off signals that he wanted to be sodomized with a metal pole; nor have they floated the possibility that the whole “assault” was something the victim asked the skinheads to do in order to help him launch his porn career. Most surprising of all, no one is focusing on the obvious point that the victim went to that party willingly.

    Posted by binky at 11:43 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    May 02, 2006

    Random Heavy Metal

    For, as best I can tell, no particular reason, Crooks and Liars has posted Metallica's "One". I think they want you to believe this has some relevant anti-war message.

    The video clearly lays out an anti-war position, but it was made over a decade ago, and can't really be taken as present political positions by the band.

    Of more relevance, this was the last "great" album Metallica made (everything else has been "shit" to use the modern, technical term). Enjoy the music, take the politics with a grain of salt.

    Posted by baltar at 11:10 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


    I hate grading.

    And yes, that is something of an excuse for the lack of both quantity and quality blogging.

    Posted by binky at 11:05 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Maybe It Isn't That Bad?

    Via the NY Times, a story about how the Roberts Supreme Court is different from the Renquist Court.

    Short answer: more debate, less predictability:

    In another distinction between the Roberts and Rehnquist styles, Chief Justice Roberts is reliably said to be presiding over the justices' private after-argument conferences with a lighter hand, not watching the clock as closely and permitting more conversation.

    That might account for the changed tone of the arguments, Ms. Brinkmann speculated. "If you know you'll be able to make your point in conference, you don't have to make it on the bench," she said.

    I'd hate to say it, but this might actually be an improvement (attributably to a Bush appointee, no less).

    Posted by baltar at 11:03 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    I wonder if these Kampus Kops feel powerful now

    Stupid, mean, and ultimately useless.

    And you know what? I'll be it's going to back fire on the university from parents who are pissed that instead of protecting kids from campus crime problems like theft and rape, they're fucking up their kids access to student loans and future employment.

    Posted by binky at 10:48 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    Worst Nightmare Indeed

    So, yeah, Evo Morales got up to some nationalization hijinks.

    The US has been ignoring Latin America for awhile now. I think old Evo's found a formula to get our attention, eh? A chip off the old bloque bolivariano.

    Posted by binky at 10:38 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    More Hurrahs

    And while I'm handing out congratulations to the co-bloggers, we should join in sharing Armand's new joy: his first house!

    Posted by binky at 10:19 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


    Looks like shit.


    And as long as I'm picking on other people's leaders:


    Posted by binky at 02:13 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack


    No idea why, but we are teh popular with the military today:

    Naval Ocean Systems Center, 23,803

    Randolph Air Force Base, 23,855

    Air Mobility Command Comp/Systems Squadron, 23,867

    Army Information Systems Command, 23,882

    SSG/SINO, 23,889

    SSG/SINO, 23,890

    Goodfellow AFB, 23,899

    C'mon! Join in!

    And while I'm at it, I'll note that we've had a big uptick in international hits in the last couple of weeks. C'mon! Join in! De-lurk!

    Posted by binky at 12:16 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Hollywood is officially bereft of new ideas

    They are remaking Revenge of the Nerds

    How can they ever top: "We have no room here... Fuck off!"

    Wait, that was the second Revenge of the Nerds movie, where they go on spring break, right?

    Posted by binky at 12:03 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    May 01, 2006

    Charles Peters Does Two-Level Games in 1940

    I read Five Days in Philadelphia (by Charleston native Charles Peters) over the weekend. I was under the impression that the history was focused upon how Wendell Willkie secured the Republican nomination for president in 1940. It starts off that way, presenting the man, the time and the convention in a grandfatherly voice with vivid detail. How Willkie reached such political heights even though he had long been a Democrat (perhaps as late as 1940) is an interesting tale. But Willkie has secured the nomination by the time you are halfway through the book, and it’s at this point that it becomes clear that what Peters is really examining in this text is how internationalists came to control foreign policy making in DC in 1940. This was a time when their rise was absolutely essential if the country was to prepare to fight the evil world powers – but a time when their rise was be no means easy or even necessarily likely. The 1940 Republican convention was a crucial part of this shift. It’s troubling to think of what might have occurred if Sen. Robert Taft (“Mr. Republican”) had won his party’s nomination instead, and he very well might have. Peters thinks that there was only one week that Willkie could have won – so in a way the timing of the Fall of France worked out well for both Willkie, the British (who we were eventually able to aid in 1940 in the nick of time) and the United States.

    The book links the party conventions, “Destroyers for Bases”, the draft, and “Lend-Lease”, arguing that they had to build on each other, and that a few people with great foresight and a good bit of luck enabled the country to move forward in a way that put it in a much stronger position for when it did fight the Axis powers later on. I think 1940 is one of the most interesting political years of the twentieth century, and this book illustrates a number of reasons for that. And along the way it also tells some interesting sidebars – for example, the fate of the French aircraft carrier Bearn and its cargo, or Willkie witnessing (and marveling at) a parliamentary debate going on in which a Labour member berated the government for criticizing the Daily Worker, while bombs exploded outside the palace of Westminster. It’s a quick read, and I recommend it if you are interested in US politics in this era.

    Posted by armand at 04:20 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    I am an immigrant history, in solidarity, in spirit.

    My grandmother came here on "the boat," fleeing a war and seeking better economic opportunity, got her name changed, endured anti-immigrant attitudes, and worked hard her whole life. That's just the most recent link in the chain, but her story is my story, and the story of the vast majority of people in this country.

    The critics of immigrants have no leg to stand on, with their selfish "I got mine" attitude, their view that we don't need or want immigrants, and their disdain for the hard work done by immigrants and that keeps this country running.

    Sí, se puede.

    Posted by binky at 09:58 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack