June 30, 2006

New Comment Rules

The new comment spam catcher has been letting some stuff through, so I've turned it up. It runs on a scale from -10 to +10 (just like the Polity score!) and we had it set at 0. I've turned it up to +4. So, let me know if you get caught, and I'll turn it back down.

If that doesn't work I can do either of two things: 1) make you all use a valid email address or 2) enable comments for "trusted" users only (and I decide who is trusted, but you know how liberal I am about that).

Thoughts?

Posted by binky at 09:47 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Oh now I get it

It's the whole, "both sides of the debate" thing. Let's hear it for false equivalence.

Posted by binky at 06:25 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

File Under: Duh!

From CNN, for all those of you who know the feeling of stomach-churning/burning and the pressure creeping up your neck throughout the day.

In a study that followed more than 6,719 white-collar workers for 7.5 years, Canadian researchers found that those with high job demands, and reported low levels of social support in the office, tended to have higher blood pressure than other workers.

The relationship was stronger among men than among women. As a group, men with high job strain had higher blood pressure and were at greater risk of blood pressure increases over time than those with less stressful work.

In addition, the study found that men and women who said they got little support from their bosses and co-workers seemed particularly vulnerable to the blood pressure effects of job strain.

"Our study supports the hypothesis that job strain, particularly in workers with low social support at work, may contribute to increased blood pressure," lead author Dr. Chantal Guimont of Laval University in Quebec told Reuters Health.

Not that academics have low levels of social support and high stress on the job, or anything.

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

Another one of the 894,873,674 ways in which wider acceptance of feminism would be good for men

Re-emphasizing the "not demonizing moms for working" would also be an essential component.

Richard Castellini, senior career adviser for CareerBuilder.com, reports that the company's recent "Working Dads 2006" survey showed that 40% of working dads would stay home with their children if their spouse or partner earned enough to support their families. The survey included more than 225 men, employed full-time, with children under 18 living at home.

According to Castellini, three out of 10 dads say they spend less than two hours per day with their children after work; 10 percent spend less than one hour. Forty percent of working dads report that they bring work home at least once a week. Fifty-eight percent missed at least one special event in their children's lives because of work in the last year and 19 percent missed five or more. Not surprisingly, 28 percent of working dads say their job is hurting their relationships with their children.

Fewer dads than moms said their companies offer flexible work arrangements, 40 percent to 53 percent.

From the WaPo.

Posted by binky at 12:55 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Clarence Thomas: Does he have a clue?

From Crooks and Liars (emphasis mine):

Loyalty:

[In the Hamdan decision,] Justice Thomas refers to Justice Stevens’ "unfamiliarity with the realities of warfare"; but Stevens served in the U.S. Navy from 1942 to 1945, during World War II. Thomas’s official bio, by contrast, contains no experience of military service.

Wow.

Posted by binky at 12:28 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

June 29, 2006

How long do you think before this hits wingnutteria?

Fidel Castro's niece (Raul's daughter) is campaigning for an end to homophobia in Cuba. To that end, she championed a telenovela with a bisexual storyline, and is now advocating for free surgery and hormone therapy for transsexuals.

Castro said many people ask her if she plans to push legalization of gay marriages.

"We do not know what we will propose. It depends on what we identify as homosexuals' and lesbians' main needs," Castro said.

"Marriage is not as important in Cuba as in other more Catholic countries. Here consensual pairing is more important," she said, "What matters is love."

If this is really true, this would be a big step for Cuba, which has a terrible record on the rights of the LGBTQ community, including its approach to AIDS and public health. Mariela Castro has the kind of connections to make headway, especially legally, however it remains to be seen whether this marks a real initiative.

Now let's see how long before libruls and teh gays get painted with this particular commie brush.

Posted by binky at 09:05 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Donate Money to Charity, Get Compared to Mengele

Emphasis mine:

Warren Buffett's new philanthropic alliance with fellow billionaire Bill Gates won widespread praise this week, but anti-abortion activists did not join in, instead assailing the two donors for their longtime support of Planned Parenthood and international birth-control programs.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, to which Buffett has pledged the bulk of his $44-billion fortune, devotes the vast majority of its funding to combating disease and poverty in developing countries. Less than 1 percent has gone to Planned Parenthood over the years. And the Gates Foundation does not permit its gifts to Planned Parenthood to be used for abortion services.

"The merger of Gates and Buffett may spell doom for the families of the developing world," said the Rev. Thomas Euteneuer, a Roman Catholic priest who is president of Human Life International.

Unlike, say, malaria, poverty, waterborne disease, AIDS, and all the other stuff their money is going to combat.

Referring to Josef Mengele, the infamous Nazi death camp doctor, Euteneuer said Buffett "will be known as the Dr. Mengele of philanthropy unless he repents."

To three or four complete whack jobs, sure.

Feldt confirmed that the Gates Foundation stipulated that its gifts to Planned Parenthood not be used for abortion services. But that policy has not spared Bill Gates' Microsoft Corp. from anti-abortion protests over the years.

At the 2003 annual shareholders meeting, anti-abortion activists cited Microsoft's support for Planned Parenthood during an unsuccessful attempt to stop the company from directly contributing to charities.

Beyond the issue of abortion, some critics oppose the Buffett and Gates foundations' support for global family-planning and population control programs.

Because they love the foreigners so? Then they must be calling for the borders to be opened, so that the children of the world might come to receive the love!

"Some of the wealthiest men in the world descend like avenging angels on the populations of the developing world," wrote Population Research Institute president Steven Mosher, a frequent critic of Gates and Buffett. "They seek to decimate their numbers, to foist upon vulnerable people abortion, sterilization and contraception."

I'm getting confused here...are they Satan's handmaids or avenging angels? Or Nazis? And are Nazis angels or devils? Mixing up similes... ouch!

And the last comment in bold shows the complete ignorance of the PRI guy. Women in the developing world, like most women, want to control their fertillity, not destroy it. The availability of affordable family planning lets women do just that: plan their families. When they can't get access to contraception, then the rates of abortion go up, sterilization too. The fastest way to reduce abortion and elective sterilization would be to distribute contraception.

Which is exactly what Buffet's and Gates' money is going to do.

Posted by binky at 08:48 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

This week in liberty

Great news from the Supreme Court about Guantanamo and the limits on the Bush administration. Marginal news from Congress, where there are plenty of sheep who are willing to pander to the lowest common - and anti-American - denominator about flag desecration. Rather than quote to you from Ben Franklin, here's a little message about war and flag desecration.

I kind of miss the BushCo montage in the background, but hey, the flag speaks volumes.

Posted by binky at 06:33 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 28, 2006

The Top Actors/Actresses of the Aughts

Nathaniel at Film Experience has been running two polls for some time now that I thought I'd mention here, just because they ask impossibly difficult questions - who is the best actor and who is the best actress of 2000-2005 (judged only by their film work in that period). Even though those are terribly difficult and subjective questions, I played along of course. Kate Winslet edged Patricia Clarkson for my vote among the women, and Gael Garcia Bernal edged Johnny Depp and Ralph Fiennes for my top choice among the men. But really when you get to that level of talent, your are splitting hairs by ranking them.

Nonetheless - who would you say should be ranked #1, solely on the basis of their work in that time period?

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

Abstinence only educators...

...love love love the patriarchy!

The U.S. government has a solution for unwanted pregnancies, AIDS and cervical cancer. It's called abstinence education, and the government funds it to the tune of around $178 million per year. The only problem is that study after study shows that abstinence education has no effect on the rates of premarital sex or STD infection. Perhaps that's because, as a 2004 report [pdf] from Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., showed, over 80 percent of federally funded abstinence programs contain false or misleading information about sex and reproductive health. But then abstinence-only education isn't about keeping teens safe -- it's about reinforcing traditional gender roles and ensuring girls are "pure."

Martha Kempner, vice president for information and communications at the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS), says that abstinence-only programs aren't giving a health message, they're giving a social one. "This is a social agenda masquerading as teen pregnancy prevention," says Kempner. "They're going so far backwards in the messages they're giving women -- that purity is the most important thing and what you should be striving for is a wedding. Saying that the most important thing you can do is get married and have children isn't the most empowering message."

SIECUS has been keeping track of abstinence-only education programs and dissecting their curriculum -- their findings are terrifying. The shame- and fear-based teachings are chock-full of sexist stereotypes, outdated notions of gender roles and even dangerous messages about sexual assault.

...

​ ​​​​The only messages put forward about boys' sexuality is the idea that their urges are uncontrollable, and it's up to young women not to "tease" them. "A guy who wants to respect girls is distracted by sexy clothes and remembers her for one thing. Is it fair that guys are turned on by their senses and women by their hearts?" (Sex Respect) Another classroom activity tells the story of Stephanie and Drew, a couple trying to save sex until marriage. Stephanie is too affectionate and wears tight clothing: "Drew likes her a lot, but lately keeping his hands off her has been a real job!" Even though Stephanie has been clear that she doesn't want to have sex, "her actions, however, are not matching her words." (Why kNOw?) No means yes, anyone? In fact, when abstinence curricula contains information about sexual abuse or assault (which they often don't), the message is similar. Girls should be preventing it, not boys.

Other teachings reinforce traditional gender roles that have nothing to do with sex. A program highlighted in the Waxman report teaches that women need "financial support" and men need "admiration." Another says: "Women gauge their happiness and judge their success on their relationships. Men's happiness and success hinge on their accomplishments."

"[These programs] are about getting to this '50s vision of a family with a mom who stays home and dad who works," Kempner notes. "And no gays, ever."

And this return to traditional gender roles is not just being pushed in our schools. The same conservative religious organizations that are creating and promoting abstinence-only education programs are also doing their best to insert themselves in family life.

You only need look at the increase of social programs and events specifically created for young girls, like Father-Daughter Purity Balls. Perhaps the most disturbing attempt at enforcing sexual "purity," these events feature young girls making abstinence pledges to their fathers in a prom-like event. One abstinence organization, the BRAVEheart Teen Initiative, features the following message to girls considering taking part in the ball:

"Have you ever wanted an opportunity to grow closer to your daddy? The Father-Daughter Purity Ball is the stellar event for you to be honored as his beautiful princess."

Oddly, there are no Mother-Son purity balls.

Yeah, oddly enough.

Posted by binky at 10:39 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Net Neutrality

Contact your Congresscritter:

In terms of the vote, well, we pretty much expected this, though we weren't sure whether we could keep the Dems unified.  They held under intense lobbying pressure from the telecoms.  I think it's fair to say that we've reversed the momentum on this issue, turning it from a little noticed 23-8 subcommittee vote in the House on April 5 to today's 11-11 tie in Commerce Committee and clearly what will be a contentious floor fight.  There's now a primary challenger against Al Wynn in MD-04, Donna Edwards, and the Verizon/AT&T/Comcast/Cox giants are in the process of turning their brand names into Walmart level territory.

George Allen, maverick McCain, and Conrad Burns all voted against a free internet.  Here's the amount of money they took from telecom PACs and associated individuals:

George Allen: $72,000
John McCain: $44,250
Conrad Burns: $162,600

Of course McCain sold out the goo goo groups when it mattered, and went with the corporate wing of the party.  No surprise there.

It's important to keep the pressure up prior to the floor fight.  If you live in one of these states, call your Senator and thank them/chide them for their vote on Snowe-Dorgan.  I've bolded the good guys.

Chairman Ted Stevens (AK): (202) 224-3004; (202) 224-2354 FAX
John McCain (AZ):  (202) 224-2235; Fax: (202) 228-2862
Conrad Burns (MT):  202-224-2644; Fax: 202-224-8594
Trent Lott (MS): (202) 224-6253; Fax: (202) 224-2262
Kay Bailey Hutchison (TX): 202-224-5922; 202-224-0776 (FAX)
Olympia J. Snowe (ME):  (202) 224-5344; FAX (202) 224-1946
Gordon H. Smith (OR):  202.224.3753; Fax: 202.228.3997
John Ensign (NV):  (202) 224-6244; Fax: (202) 228-2193
George Allen (VA):  (202) 224-4024; Fax: (202) 224-5432
John E. Sununu (NH):  (202) 224-2841; FAX (202) 228-4131
Jim DeMint (SC):  202-224-6121; Fax: 202-228-5143
David Vitter (LA):  (202) 224-4623; Fax: (202) 228-5061

Co-Chairman Daniel K. Inouye (HI): 202-224-3934; Fax: 202-224-6747
Jay Rockefeller (WV):  (202) 224-6472; (202) 224-7665 Fax
John F. Kerry (MA):  (202) 224-2742 - Phone; (202) 224-8525 - Fax
Byron L. Dorgan (ND):  202-224-2551; Fax: 202-224-1193
Barbara Boxer (CA): 202-224-3553
Bill Nelson (FL):  202-224-5274; Fax: 202-228-2183
Maria Cantwell (WA):  202-224-3441; 202-228-0514 - FAX
Frank R. Lautenberg (NJ):  (202) 224-3224; Fax: (202) 228-4054
E. Benjamin Nelson (NE):  Tel: (202) 224-6551; Fax: (202) 228-0012
Mark Pryor (AR):  (202) 224-2353; Fax: (202) 228-0908

Posted by binky at 10:14 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Wait, Is the Wall Street Journal Treasonous Too?

Is this right? Did the WSJ cover this story the same way on the same day that the NYT did? If so - has anyone in Congress proposed legislation sanctioning it too?

As to the merits of the supposed terrorist-lovin'-media story - I can't believe it's a story. Well, I can believe it's a story - but it's really embarrassing anyone who's not paid to take it seriously would take it seriously. It seems entirely appropriate that the public know what we are doing to fight terrorism, and if a newspaper can get a score of informed government agents and officials to talk to them about it, uh, how secret/dangerous-if-disclosed can it be? I'm also continually bemused by how dumb people seem to think terrorists are (while at the same time supposedly being terrified of the threat they pose). What, you don't think terrorists would just assume the US government is doing stuff like this? If so, I think you are selling their intelligence (or simple common sense) short.

Posted by armand at 09:46 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Movies This Weekend

Won't be seeing Superman (h/t norbizness).

Hope to finish season two of Buffy (cheaply shot, no special effects, actual plot and dialog).

On Deck: Season two of Batltle Star Galactica.

Posted by baltar at 09:46 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

CNN is off the f&%@*&g reservation

Yes, more cussing.

CNN has gone beyond the utter stupidity of hiring Glenn Beck, a raving lunatic and now has up a commentary "special to CNN" by Dr. James Dobson, creepy shill for all things reactionary.

The man has an "earned" PhD. What on earth is an earned PhD?

What are they thinking?

Maybe they ought to think about something like this, a reminder of the history of the same kind of attitude that Dobson promotes.

Or perhaps they ought to think, and perhaps remind Dobson, about the real threats to marriage - which are higher among the supposed people of faith he claims to represent - like divorce, violence against women, and alcoholism. Not gay marriage.

No, wait. There can't possibly be thinking involved.

Posted by binky at 09:30 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

George Bush is...

...pro flag-desecration.

Posted by binky at 06:13 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

What an idea

More blogs should have musical interludes.

Posted by binky at 06:02 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

If only more political history started like this

On this day in 1914, a cap was popped in the ass of the Archduke Ferdinand.

Posted by binky at 05:32 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

The Texas Redistricting Case Opinons Are Out!

Along with most of the other remaining decisions from this term at the Supreme Court (the decision in Hamdan comes out tomorrow, and Stevens appears sure to be writing it!) - a quick summary of the results can be found here (SCOTUSBlog of course).

I've only had a chance to read the syllabus, but it looks like a sensible ruling to me (though given, yet again, the large number of opinions and the splintered nature of the decision I guess maybe "ruling" isn't the best word to use). Justice Kennedy wrote the lead opinion of course. Among the things the Court did and didn't do: they still haven't decided if they can rule on partisan gerrymandering claims or not (or the circumstances that would require them to do so); they struck down District 23 (Henry Bonilla's district) in light of egregious moves by the state of Texas to obviously limit the voting rights of Hispanics (the fix to that that Texas will likely have to pursue will likely also affect District 25 - Lloyd Doggett's district); they are ok with the Dallas area redistricting (the African-American population there wasn't large enough to affect the outcome of the district whose alteration they were challenging - the one that used to elect Martin Frost - a key matter given the text of the section that the claim was being brought under); and they threw out the claims against mid-decade redistricting (one multiple grounds) - probably the most predictable part of the decision.

UPDATE: Confused by the opinion, at least in terms of who voted for what? I'm not at all surprised. Here's a helpful post counting the voting on the various parts of it - a number of parts of it are 5-4, with Kennedy always in the majority, but not always with the same group of justices behind him. It appears that appeals against partisan gerrymandering are dead until Kennedy figures out some clear way to deal with the problem - and, not surprisingly, he hasn't figured that out yet. But the more I look at this (though I haven't looked at it much yet) Part III is where the real news is in these rulings (at least in terms of who this tells us about future election-law rulings from the Roberts Court). That's the section where by a 5-4 vote (Kennedy and the supposed "liberals") District 23 was struck down. That it appears that there were four justices (including to the 2 newest/3 youngest) who opposed that move - well, my initial reaction is to say that Alito replacing O'Connor is going to be EXTREMELY bad news to racial minorities pressing claims under the Voting Rights Act. But like I said, I've still got to read this more thoroughly to be sure of the scope of the bad news for such people.

UPDATE II: OK, just what the hell is up with this decision and District 25? If you know, tell me. What am I talking about? See the last few paragraphs in Michael Kang's analysis and Rick Pildes on this "fascinating error".

Posted by armand at 11:46 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Don't Talk to Baltar

He's in mourning..

Posted by binky at 10:05 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

June 27, 2006

An Inconvenient Truth Is Coming to Morgantown

Fyi, for those of you who might want to see it in town, the global warming documentary will be shown at the Warner starting this Friday.

I hope it's much better than Why We Fight (the last film I saw there). Moon has, of course, praised it at length. Oh, and Roger Ebert too, if you care about his opinion.

Posted by armand at 06:17 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Criterion Is Going to Release Kicking and Screaming!

Via Norbizness I've learned today that come August the world is going to be a better place.

There are a handful of old movies that I've never seen that I wish I could see on dvd (If ..., The Heiress, Last Year at Marienbad), but really I think I'm more annoyed by my inability to see those few (relatively) recent movies that I fell in love with when I saw them, but which haven't yet made it to dvd. Well the movie out of that set, the one I've most longed to see again, is finally going to be released courtesy of the folks at Criterion - Noah Baumbach's superb Kicking and Screaming. It's perhaps the finest film about what happens (or, rather, doesn't) after you graduate from college - and if not the finest, it's surely the funniest. I am so buying this. Now if someone would just release The Last Days of Disco on dvd as well ...

Posted by armand at 02:27 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

The Best of Times in Men's Tennis

Rafael Nadal (who is all of 20, and barely that) is in the midst of (by far) the longest clay court winning streak in the Open Era, and now Roger Federer (who is still just 24) is in the midst of the longest grass court winning streak in the Open Era. With his win today he's won 42 straight matches on grass, surpassing the mark set by Bjorn Borg from 1976-1981. Next up for Federer at Wimbledon is Tim Henman.

Posted by armand at 01:28 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Rowling to Kill 2 Characters in Book 7

Let the prognostications of death and destruction begin (just as Professor Trelawney would want it)! Who is Rowling going to kill off in Book 7?

Posted by armand at 10:44 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

No. Just, No.

I wake this morning to discover, via the New York Times that the august US Senate (the deliberative, thoughtful half of our legislative branch) is within a single vote of amending the US constitution to ban the burning of the American flag.

Senator Arlen Specter, Republican of Pennsylvania and chairman of the committee, said the amendment was not meant to alter the Bill of Rights but to right an incorrect decision by the Supreme Court.

Mr. Specter said flag burning should not be considered speech protected by the First Amendment, but an action "designed to antagonize, designed to hurt," not "designed to persuade."

"The First Amendment of the United States Constitution protecting speech, religion, press, assembly is inviolate," he said. "That is not to say the decisions of the Supreme Court have that same status."

Uh, no. This republic has stood for 222 years without the Constitution specifically banning the burning of the flag. We've fought multiple wars (including two hot world wars, and a larger cold war), survived several international economic depressions, witchhunts for various mythical internal subversives, and a major civil war without a Constitution that bans burning the flag. Now, however, we need to change that. Spector (head of the judiciary committee) puts forth the transparently absurd argument that burning the flag should be banned because is it designed to "antagonize" and "hurt", not "persuade". Last I checked, the First Amendment to the Constitution was pretty clear that all speech was protected (subject to the limits of libel and harm to others: yelling "fire" in a crowded theater, when there is no fire, for example), not just speech that "persuades". Your "antagonism" may be my "persuasion", and vice versa. The US Constitution protects both, and forces the government to avoid choosing between forms of arguments (thus, protecting free speech).

This is a transparently election-year move to shore up support for "values". I had thought that, perhaps, the US Constitution was beyond the bounds of election year tomfoolery. I was clearly mistaken. Fiddling with the Constitution for the sake of elections is a very dangerous road to walk down. And very difficult to turn around, once begun.

(This ends the reasonable, calm, non-profanity-laced portion of the post. Those with weak stomachs may want to cease reading at this point.)

What the FUCK. Fucking "values". Fuck "values". "Values" allowed us to enslave an entire race of people for a hundred years. "Values" allowed us to treat them as second-class citizens in law for another hundred. "Values" allowed us to lock up US Citizens 'cause they looked like Japs (thanks Roosevelt, and fuck Malkin while we're at it). "Values" allowed us to hunt for "Communists" without due process, the law, or any hint of reasonableness. "Values" allowed the fucking President of the United States to spy on his political opponents for his gain (fucking Nixon), and then be fucking rehabilitated years later, as if the cocksucker hadn't done anything worse than stealing fucking candy. This country was founded on LAWS, people, not fucking "values." LAWS fixed all those problems listed above, not fucking "values." If you pox-ridden flaming sacks of shit can't figure that out, then it's time to re-think term limits (except those are fucking unconstitutional, too, though that fucking can be fucking changed fucking easily it seems).

Keep your plague-ridden hands off the damn Constitution over fucking trivial matters, assholes. Once you've fucking figured out Iraq, the deficit, and healthcare, then we'll let you fucking talk for a while about fucking flag burning.

Posted by baltar at 09:53 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

June 26, 2006

The Damned Heretik

Pretty damned funny. Dammit.

I dare you to lose that earworm, plus imagery.

Posted by binky at 08:05 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Sam Alito

Pro-life.

Posted by binky at 06:11 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Great Googly Moogly

UPDATE: OK, we're looking good now. My new request is for feedback so we can see how this is working. Regulars, time to do your duty and post some test comments in this thread so we can see how it's going.

UPDATE (the second): And a round of applause for the wonderful server folk, who got us through this quickly and painlessly. Baltar, time to bring some chocolate cake down to HQ again.

Posted by binky at 04:38 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Shut Up Already

UPDATE: Order rescinded. You may now return to talking amongst yourselves. There are likely to be kinks for a bit, so if you have issues, email me.

Our wonderful server folk are about to upgrade the site, and to make things easier on them, we're asking everyone to please cease and desist commenting for an hour or so. Much obliged.

Posted by binky at 03:51 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Coal Sucks

I realize no one outside of West Virginia will care about this, but WVU and Marshall (the two major universities in WV) have recently agreed to play football once a year against each other. This hasn't happened in a very long time (ever? I'm not a sports guy). Why do we care? The new game will be called the "Friends of Coal Bowl".

Fuck coal.

West Virginia produces lots of coal. They do so through various processes that tend to wreck the environment. This produces lots of money (some of which is paid to the coal miners, some of which is paid in taxes to West Virginia, most of which leaves this state and goes to energy corporations). However, coal isn't renewable (you can only burn a ton of coal once). West Virginia also produces tourism. We're only a little over three hours from DC, and only six or so from everything from New York City to Philly. Tourism is a renewable resource (many people can pay to look at the same mountain over and over again). Tourism and coal don't mix (no one will pay to look at the hole where the mountain used to be). While granting that coal does produce money and jobs in WV, many people feel that coal is not the future of WV, but that tourism is. The more we promote coal today (and let it continue to flatten mountains to dig up the coal), the more we hurt our future revenues in tourism (fewer mountains to look at means fewer tourists in the future).

The coal industry, of course, disagrees. Thus, they advertise (heavily) to promote how wonderful their industry is, and how it benefits everybody (taxes, jobs, flat places to put outlet malls, etc.). One result of the coal industry's advertising is this new "Friends of Coal Bowl."

I'm annoyed that my employer seems to be promoting coal by appearing in this game (which isn't a bowl game, since the same two teams will always be in it).

Fuck the "Friends of Coal".

Posted by baltar at 03:23 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

Comment Denial Partially Solved

Some bad spammers used "ad" as a URL and got banned. Hence, anything anyone wrote that had "ad" in it, including "read," "bad," etc. got dinged. Hope this helps. We're still working on a upgrade.

Posted by binky at 03:12 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

And as long as we are talking about marriage...

...last week when I was visiting my parents I saw tons of these:

Holy Mother of...

Ladies in pants need not apply, I guess.

Posted by binky at 02:34 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

How to tie a Flaming Lips lyric to reproductive choice

Anyone ever listen to Five Stop Mother Superior Rain?

I started hearing it in my head while reading this article about the timing of motherhood. It seems that no matter what women do, they incur criticism.

In a country where the fertility rate has fallen from 2.95 children per woman in 1964 to just 1.77 in 2004, and where experts have acknowledged that we need to start having more children in order to maintain the current population, it is quite a surprise that anyone willing and able to have a child would be criticised for doing so.

It's not just women over the age of 40 who get given a tough time in the press for becoming pregnant, though.

...

Non-mothers, like myself, are also criticised for not having babies in a country with an ageing population that needs to increase its birth rate.

Ah yes, You're fucked if you do, and you're fucked if you don't.

Posted by binky at 01:08 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Blogospheric Dust-Up

Can anyone explain to me, using small words and short sentences, what the whole DailyKos/TNR spat is about? Every blog I read is talking about it, but it looks like a silly fight, and thus not worth my time to read the mounds of steaming text to figure it out.

(Bonus points to anyone who can explain David Brooks to me, as he seems to be picking on Kos as well. Brooks is behind a subscription wall, and is an idiot to boot, so I generally ignore him. Is there anything in what he says to warrant any interest by me?)

Posted by baltar at 01:08 PM | Comments (18) | TrackBack

Responsible Adults

This (PDF) letter has been making the rounds (Feministing, Feministe, Pandagon):

This Administration supports the availability of safe and effective products and services to assist responsible adults in making decisions about preventing or delaying conception. The Department of Health and Human Services faithfully executes laws establishing Federal programs to provide contraception and family planning services. The Title X Family Planning Program and Medicaid are each significant providers of family planning services.

Additionally, this Administration strongly supports teaching abstinence to young people as the only 100 percent effective means of preventing pregnancy, HIV, and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

With all the twigging on the phrase, I thought it might be fun to translate. Mine is: responsible adults=married christian people. What say you?

Posted by binky at 12:00 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Slug

It's another rainy day, and this pretty much sums up my feelings about that.

Posted by binky at 11:56 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Vermont's Campaign Spending and Donation Limits Are Struck Down

I thought that would be the outcome - but I didn't think that their would be 6 opinions issued from the Court on that case. That should make for some interesting reading (and interpreting) - especially to see what Justice Kennedy is supporting (as he is apparently the new "swing" justice on many election law matters).

With Justice Breyer writing the lead opinion in the Vermont case, previous analysis of the Court's working patterns would suggest that Justice Kennedy is writing the majority opinion in the Texas redistricting case (or maybe it is Justice Scalia). The next decision day is Wednesday.

UPDATE: Rick Hasen's initial analysis is here.

Posted by armand at 10:22 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 25, 2006

They're little, but they're not green!

Aliens!

Also via the Goddess.

Posted by binky at 05:38 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Well, what do you know...

...about the Bible?

I got about half. Remember, I grew up with Hippie Jesus, and the quiz draws from Old Testament ferocity. And I'll warn you, there are a couple of trick questions on there.

Via The Goddess.

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

TWO More Chabon Novels to Be Filmed

To my mind Wonder Boys was both a four-star book and a four-star film - a combination you almost never experience in this world (and if you haven't read it or seen it, I extremely strongly recommend both). So don't get your hopes up too high in terms of how these movies will turn out, but apparently movies are going to be made out of both The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay and The Mysteries of Pittsburgh. The former received much more acclaim (including the 2001 Pulitzer Prize), but I'm actually much more excited about the filming of the latter (since I could easily see it as a superb movie, while a good deal of Kavalier & Clay will no doubt have to be chopped out when it's turned into a script). In any event, this source material is vastly superior to what most films are based on, so that's at least a hopeful sign as to the eventual quality of these films.

Posted by armand at 03:44 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Biden on Cheney - "He Has No Credibility"

Exactly. This is what the American people think, and if more politicians would just say this directly it would allow for a both more honest political debate and one that might produce a better opinion of the Democrats' competence and ability to lead. Cheney's gotten virtually everything about this war wrong, and Democrats should stop engaging him and simply, directly label him the dangerously inept (among other things) man that he is.

Posted by armand at 03:13 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Ninja Neutrality

Ask a Ninja about net neutrality.

Via Majikthise.

Posted by binky at 02:11 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Gay Smear

Picked this up over at Hullabaloo. Reminds me of the flyer that came out in WV with the guys holding hands. Really despicable.

Posted by binky at 12:22 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Comment Denials Rife!

Yes, we know. And our activity log has grown so large it crashes my computer everytime I try to open it to see what the grounds of your denials are. After searching around the web, I've found that our software (MTBlacklist) which has served us well, is now obsolete and no longer supported. We are going to have to upgrade, and that will involve talking to our wonderful server folk during business house (aka, not late Sunday morning). Bear with us, we're working on it.

Posted by binky at 10:48 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Defeatism by the Iraqi Embassy

Still catching up on all the fun stuff I missed. Via The Cunning Realist, I read this (warning: pdf) cable/message from Khalilzad to the State Department Headquarters sent last week. It's depressing stuff: among the Iraqi employees of the embassy, there is a moral problem due to increasing violence, religious persecution and gas/electricity shortages. In short, among the Iraqis who should be the happiest (working for the Americans gets them more money than the average Iraqi, thus they should have more resources to get around the problems), they are depressed and getting more depressed.

Worth reading (its not long).

Posted by baltar at 10:30 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The End of the 2005-2006 Term at the Supreme Court

Several major decisions are going to be announced in the coming week.

Posted by armand at 09:46 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Sullivan and Wright in Madison

This morning Ann Althouse posted a few pictures of some of the architectural gems of Madison, Wisconsin - including a couple of shots of Wright's "Airplane House", and (are you sitting down?) a picture of a frat house designed by Louis Sullivan. I'm not often surprised, but I never expected to type that last phrase.

Posted by armand at 09:06 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

June 24, 2006

Censorship in KY

Start here and read through all the updates. Apparently the state government dislikes being criticized (so it censored the bluegrassreport). And also dislikes being criticized for disliking being criticized (so it censored TPM Muckraker and Atrios for picking up the story). And claims it's only censoring blogs that waste state employees' time. Except the administration doesn't block Rush Limbaugh and other blogs that don't rake it over the coals on a daily basis. Really, start here and keep paging through. What a hack job of suppressing access to provocative and critical speech.

Shoulda 'tipped the Badger.

Posted by binky at 09:12 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Tantrums by North Korea

While I've been away, things do not seem to have changed a great deal (Bad: Iraq, US Soccer, Afghanistan, inflation, heat waves; Good: Bush's approval rating inching up, no actual all-out civil war in Iraq, not much else).

However, that may change. North Korea is supposed to be about to launch a big rocket. Big enough to possibly reach the continental US. Everyone is in a tizzy about this. I'll grant that it's interesting, but no more. First, the technological leap from having a rocket that can reach the US to having a rocket that can reach the US and deliver a nuclear weapon is a fairly major step (and a step that involves testing, which they haven't done, so we know they don't have one now). Second, we're not really sure they have nukes (they haven't tested one). Third, the payload for one of these things is fairly small - a couple of tons at most. Failing to have a nuke as payload (see point one, above), North Korea can't really hope to do anything resembling damage to the US. Sure, they could pack a couple of tons of anthrax or Sarin into the thing, but that would just burn up on re-entry and fail to harm anyone (as I noted above, the technological leap from having a vehicle that will go intercontinental distances to having one that will drop a warhead accurately and carefully enough so the warhead will go off where you want it to is a huge step, one the North Koreans have shown no ability to bridge). Fourth, if they did toss one at us, we could see it coming (the NKs use a liquid fueled rocket, meaning they have to pour the liquid fuel into the thing, which takes a few days to do carefully, which is what we're observing now - thus, there is no element of surprise here), and would respond by blowing up most of the country (legitimately). Kim isn't crazy, and wouldn't deliberately do harm to himself.

This launch/fake launch/launch prep (or whatever it is) is most likely a form of protest by Kim. He wants things from the rest of the world (agreements, money, trade), and the world is generally ignoring him these days. He's throwing a tantrum in order to get the attention back where he thinks it should be: on him.

This isn't a call to ignore this, but only a cautionary post to argue that we shouldn't overreact to this. It's only a single rocket (if it goes up, and there is some debate about whether it will or not), not a fleet of ICBMs. The problem is, the US has few to no options to punish North Korea for doing any of this. We have no trade with them, or any other economic or political leverage to cut off. We can encourage other states (China, South Korea) to curtail their activities with North Korea, but we've been doing that for years with little success. Thus, US policy is the same place it's been for years: backed into a corner. Either we negotiate with them (which would involve giving them something they want), or not (which will get us nothing). This missle-scare changes nothing with respect to the very limited options the US possesses to try to get North Korea to change.

Posted by baltar at 01:17 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

And now for something completely different...

I'm thinking about dumping Polanyi.

It's not that I dislike the book. And I don't get into the economists' debate about whether he over-romanticizes "primitive" reciprocal trading networks over self-regulating markets. It isn't even that I find the detailed discussion of Speenhamland and the Corn Laws dull.

OK, I find those to be a bit dull.

The main problem I have with Polanyi is that I don't think my students read it. And when they do read it, I don't think they really get it.

The bright ones of you are thinking right now, "But that is what lecture and discussion is for!"

Quite right, except when I lecture before they are supposed to do the readings, then they don't read it, assuming they know what I find to be important. Now, this isn't universal, and there are generally a couple of PhD students and maybe a future PhD track MA student who will dive in, but the majority could care less.

This is one of those battles that I always have with myself, and that I think most teachers also have, about how to balance one's own expectations with what the market will bear. It comes down to my ideas about what is appropriate for a doctoral level course and what I think the students are capable of versus the abilities of those students and whether or not they choose to engage them. I've tried to resist the temptation to give in, to dumb down, and to adopt the opinion held by a lot of professors that students are lazy, undisciplined, unengaged with the material and content to get by without challenging themselves. Part of the problem is that we have a dearth of theory courses to prepare them to think about big questions, and that in their preparation "methods" are privileged over - nearly to the exclusion of - broad historical analysis. Plus, because we offer so few courses, we mix first year MA students in with more advanced PhD students, creating a wild mix of advanced discussion and remedial political economy. If that wasn't enough, I have to jam in IPE and CPE and PED in one semester.

Hence the dilemma about Polanyi, and whether the book's costs of time, difficulty, and the intangible "groan factor" are worth the benefit of a spending the time on a great piece of historical political economy that not only does a fantastic job of unraveling the evolution of the modern market system, but that also shows the students the embeddedness of markets in political and social systems, and why political economy is a key part of the field of international relations.

Thoughts?

Posted by binky at 09:42 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

June 23, 2006

Wet Hot American Summer

I just finished watching it again. I really love this movie. It's so wonderfully silly and stupid, with some great little comedic turns by the likes of Amy Poehler, Molly Shannon and Paul Rudd (and others too - it's a big cast). It's guaranteed to turn a frown upside-down, even if, like me, you can barely breathe while you are watching it. Great stuff. So good. I really should buy it.

And hey, if you think you are above it, and it's just too stupid for you or too immoral or whatever - well, at the very least it's got Elizabeth Banks (Heights) in a bikini. And that's nothing to sneeze at. But beyond that - well, if you don't love this movie I think you may have a sadly limited sense of fun. Or perhaps your taste is so good that you simply can't abide that wonderfully/horribly 1981 artistic design.

Posted by armand at 10:48 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Friday Night Link Dump

Long time no dump, so in the spirit of "I spent most of the day driving and can't think straight anymore," some linkage:

We're not racists, we just don't care about Black people. Or their voting rights.

Cancel my account. Cancel the account. Cancel the account. Via Pandagon. Oh yes, I love my hometown Labyrinth.

Are you sure you don't like the Brazilian futbol team?

Homosexuality, mental retardation...it's all the same to us!

I remember when this was the best Brazilian airline.

Well, come on, he had to find something to do while he was waiting to drown government!

Guess what kiddies!? it's confirmed! Bird flu passes from human to human!

All that driving...I think I've got a crick in my...

Posted by binky at 06:52 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Love and Loathing

I love my family.

I love my family in small doses.

I love my family in small doses, and possibly could do without the teenagers.

I love my family, including the teenagers, and have turned into a crabby old fart.

People are annoying.

I am annoying.

Sigh.

The dogs had a good time.

I love my family.

Posted by binky at 04:21 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

At Home With Amy Sedaris

Should she meet you and find you sufficiently genial, she will have you over for chili, baked ham or spanakopita (a Greek spinach pie, her mother's recipe), and she will undoubtedly bake.

How can you not love her? I can't wait to see the Strangers With Candy movie.

Posted by armand at 03:57 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

John Edwards and the Fight Against Poverty

There's no question what's going to be the theme of his presidential campaign. It's a noble cause, and it's worth following since Edwards is one of the three or four Democrats who are most likely to win their party's presidential nomination in 2008. Is this a platform that can lead him 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.? I'm not at all sure about that. But it will be interesting to see how this plays out, and maybe some real good can come from it.

Posted by armand at 09:53 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

June 22, 2006

Landon Donovan's Defeat?

In case you don't know, the US World Cup team lost to Ghana today, and we've been eliminated from the tournament. But is it all Landon Donovan's fault? I realize his play in both games is attracting a lot of criticism, and some of that's understandable. But it seems a bit cruel that a picture of a shirtless, defeated Donovan bending forward at a 90 degree angle (worn out and saddened by the loss) is currently dominating the homepages of both The Washington Post and The New York Times. In terms of a sports news photo it says a lot, and kudos to the photographer. It's a successful and striking piece of work. But the breadth of the photo's posting ... I mean the image really does seems to suggest that Donovan's to blame, and soccer is a team sport.

Posted by armand at 02:49 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Levin-Reed: An Opportunity for the Dems? A Missed Opportunity for Bush?

The party out of power has little if any power to get the media (and thereby the country) to pay attention to its policy proposals. One of the things I find so funny about the powers-that-be (or the powers-that-perceive-themselves-to-be) constantly harping on the Democrats being without vision or strategy is that they release policy positions with some frequency - but since they aren't in charge of any part of the government they go largely ignored by the media - and therefore, when it comes to the national political dialogue, they don't exist (a win I guess for theories of constructivism!). I fear that will be the fate of Levin-Reed, a sober, sensible proposal on the Iraq War if ever there was one. If it gets coverage and gets identified with the Democrats - I think there's a lot there to further entrench unhappiness with the president's plan (or lack thereof) and make the Democrats look like they are being serious about the conflict. And their proposal fits, seemingly with what the US populartion wants - they want the war to end eventually, they want the Iraqis to become responsible for their own security, but they are wary of constraining the president's power too tightly (and hence falling into possible arguments about putting troops at risk by limiting the president's mobility) and deadlines that can't be moved. This proposal pushes the country toward achieving those ends, and pushes us past meaningless catch-phrases like "stay the course". As I say, I think the media might largely ignore this and the public might not see much of it - but if they do, I think this is a winner for the Democrats (and probably the country).

That said, knowing that something like this was coming down the road, I can't imagine a reason (other than obstinancy and bull-headedness, and of course that explains a lot in this administration) why the White House didn't have the president announce a limited set of troop cuts last week. Even if it was only 10,000 or so. I mean he could have spun the FINALLY appointed prime minister FINALLY finishing appointing his cabinet and the death of Zarqawi in ways that would suggest that everything had turned a corner - Iraq was now DEMOCRATIC and TERRORISTS were killed. But instead of an action like that which would have conveyed at least a limited victory, a policy success, increasing US security, substantive accomplishments, bringing (some) of the troops home victorious, and of course further associated terrorism and Iraq in people's minds (which the White House loves of course) - instead of that we got ... words. Again. More talk, but no clear substantive benefits behind the hot air. And that was followed by more dead American soldiers (this time, tortured ones). Clearly Bush is going to keep massive levels of troops in Iraq until he leaves office. He's said that much. But the opportunities of this month seem to me to have presented the possibility of a much bigger "Zarqawi bounce", and the outflanking of the Democrats on moves like Levin-Reed. A win-win for the White House. This White House is politically adept at (just barely) winning elections. But otherwise I really question their political skills.

Posted by armand at 11:02 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 21, 2006

Was Killing Zarqawi Really a "Win" for the US?

Uh-oh.

As Spencer Ackerman noted, there are indications that Zarqawi's replacement might be "just as barbaric as Zarqawi, but not as stupid." It's the "not as stupid part" that is a cause for concern.

This is potentially bad - potentially very bad. Remember that Zarqawi signed onto the al Qaeda program (to the degree he did) rather late in the game. For many years he's spent his life trying to undermine the Jordanian monarchy. He wasn't particularly close to UBL and Zawahiri. And clearly he didn't bother to learn the #1 lesson of much terrorism in the region (don't kill people potential supporters may feel connections with, kill foreigners and "others"). If this new guy is someone who actually has paid attention to what's worked in the realm of terrorism (or at least learned what's best avoided) and is more in-line with Zawahiri's priorities and tactics, we might (very sadly) soon see a rather more effective "al Qaeda in Iraq."

Posted by armand at 09:24 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Republican Congress: Happy to Increase Their Own Salaries, But Not Those of the Working Poor

There were 52 votes in the Senate in favor of raising the minimum wage, but the Republican leadership still blocked it. For the record the wage hasn't been raised in 9 years. Tell you what, if they are going to refuse to raise the minimum wage - how about we revoke their own cost-of-living raises for that 9 year period too - including interest of course. Seems only fair - and actually not nearly fair enough given that mmany members of Congress are exceedingly wealthy and even those few that aren't still don't have to live in the same desperate manner as those who have to rely on the minimum wage.

One thing that gets me in all this is that the GOP constantly brings out the same old tired canards about how it hurts business - but there's a lot of research to suggest that it doesn't, and it certainly doesn't hurt the economy generally (these people are so poor that they have to spend everything they make right back into the economy). And all that is to say nothing of the moral issue at hand.

But isn't it a moral issue when more than 36 million Americans live in poverty and more than 40 million people in the wealthiest county in the world lack health insurance? Many major religious denominations support raising the minimum wage. The US Conference of Catholic Bishops says that Catholic social teaching regards work as a reflection of our human dignity, and that receiving poverty wages is an affront to individual self-respect.

And isn't it immoral that Congress--which has given itself a cost-of-living pay raise for the past five years in a row--has allowed the federal minimum wage to lose its purchasing power, so that minimum-wage workers today are worse off now than they have been in decades? At its peak in 1968, the minimum wage was worth the equivalent of almost $7 an hour today. That was also the last year that the minimum wage was above the nation's poverty line. The effect of the last increase in the federal minimum wage, to $5.15 in 1997, has been completely eroded by inflation. That figure (which equals $10,700 a year) is now less than one-third of the average hourly wage of American workers, the lowest level since 1949. If the federal minimum wage were increased to just $7 an hour, at least 7.4 million workers would receive a wage boost. If the minimum wage were pegged at $9.50, millions more would be lifted out of poverty. The largest group of beneficiaries would be children, whose parents would have more money for rent, food, clothing and other basic necessities.

Business leaders still trot out economists to claim that raising the minimum wage will destroy jobs and hurt small businesses. But the evidence, based on studies of the effects of past increases in both the federal and state minimum-wage levels (twelve states have minimum wages higher than the federal level), shows otherwise. Because the working poor spend everything they earn, every penny of a minimum-wage increase goes back into the economy, increasing consumer demand and adding at least as many jobs as are lost. Most employers actually gain, absorbing the increase through decreased absenteeism, lower recruiting and training costs, higher productivity and increased worker morale.

And of course it is also worth noting (if you believe in a progressive society or meritocracy with rewards going to those who work hard) that in this country the gaps between rich and poor are much greater in this country than in similarly "rich" Europe, and social mobility is considerably less here than it is there.

All in all there are a multitude of reasons to raise this (for the first time in 9 years), and the Senate Republicans should be ashamed of themselves for making it that much harder for the working poor to scrape by - while they happily pocket more of the tax dollars of hard-working Americans to increase their own 6-figure salaries.

Posted by armand at 08:37 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Republican Senate: Lazy, Ass-Covering or Pro-War Profiteering? Or All Three?

Remember back when Congress believed in oversight? Think hard - way back in the 1990's or 1980's or 1970's ... I guess it's an idea that's out of fashion in the new millenium (maybe oversight = hating America these days; I can't be sure because the number of things that = hating America seems to grow daily, and I'm not on the listserv that would keep me updated). Anyway, since the Republican Congress has shown a (pathetic) lack of interest in investgiating the misuse of taxpayer money (your money) in conducting the war in Iraq, Sen. Byron Dorgan proposed setting up a Truman Committee-style investigatory panel to look into spending abuses. Needless to say, that proposal was defeated, with Sen. Chafee casting the only vote for it from the GOP side of the aisle. Senator Frist and friends won't hold major oversight hearings, and they don't want anyone else holding them either.

But that's the Republicans in Congress for you - avidly anti-accountability; strongly pro-massive (unregulated) payouts to some of their best campaign contributors. I mean who needs to make sure that our money is being spent effectively? It's not like there's a war on or a big budget deficit at the moment.

UPDATE: Of course just to be clear the White House and Justice Department are engaged in similar (arguably even worse) cover-ups for businesses that are robbing the people blind and failing to provide much needed supplies and services to our troops fighting abroad: "The administration has invoked an obscure part of the False Claims Act to prevent all but one of more than 50 whistleblower suits brought by employees of U.S. contractors in Iraq from moving forward to trial."

Posted by armand at 03:07 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

The Steely Spine of Melanie Wilkes

Olivia de Haviland is only turning 90? That barely seems possible. I mean she starred in Gone With the Wind and was playing a majestic older lady as far back as Airport '77 (now that was a cast for a 1970's disaster movie - incredibly gifted older actors, 70's chew-the-scenery icons like Lee Grant and Brenda Vaccaro, Christopher Lee on hand to look creepy and remind you that death surrounds these people and George Kennedy because ... well if it's a 1970's disaster movie you have to have George Kennedy, it's some kind of law of physics).

Anyway, whether she was playing kindly or cunning and cruel I've usually liked her as an actress. But far too few people know about the important role she played in increasing the legal rights of actors, back in the bad old days of the studio system. So, to honor her 90th, David Thomson reminds us of the legal breakthroughs she helped secure.

Posted by armand at 09:22 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Coming Turnover on New York's Top Court

Given that it's New York, that state's top court receives more than average attention. So it's probably worth noting that in the next seventeen months more than half of the membership of that court could change (either due to judges hitting the mandatory retirement age of 70, or due to judges' 14-year terms expiring). Governor Pataki will name a replacement for George Bundy Smith, the court's most liberal judge and it's only African-American, later this year. And then the next governor (presumably Democrat Eliot Spitzer) will have the opportunity to replace three more members of the court (including Chief Judge Judith Kaye) shortly after taking office. It will be interesting to see what kinds of judges Spitzer appoints.

Posted by armand at 09:08 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 20, 2006

Did You Hear Homosexuality is a Mental Disorder - Again!

Who says? Why no, not the medical community, who've held for decades that it's not. And true, most people do turn to doctors when they want to what is and isn't a mental disorder - but really, who decided that the American Psychiatric Association is so great and should get to make all those decisions. There must be other legitimate sources of knowledge than those "experts" and "doctors" and "researchers", right? Or at least there must be if you don't like the long-held view of the APA. So what bastion of scientific research and medical expertise is claiming that homosexuality really is a mental disorder? Why - the Pentagon of course! I eagerly await the casa de Rumsfeld's memos announcing that you can get AIDS from merely being in the same buidling as one of the gays. That should be enough to start allowing the government to start sending 'em (well, those who aren't on the White House staff or related to the Vice President) off to Gitmo.

Posted by armand at 11:31 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Justice Scalia Loves Webster's Dictionary

Oh, and judicial power too of course.

Publius has a review of Scalia's Rapanos opinion here. It's worth a look. It cuts through some of the "complete and total crap", and includes some classic Publius language like "Last I checked, lynch mobs werent suppressing the vote of floppy-haired guys named Preston and Dalton." Environmental regulations are an area where the Court would seem poised to lurch to the right (and drag the country with it), so it's best to keep an eye on decisions like this one.

Posted by armand at 09:28 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 19, 2006

"And Katharine, Our Presiding Bishop ..."

Wow. In several parts of the Anglican Communion women can't even be priests, and in only three of its thirty-eight provinces are there any female bishops. But over the weekend the US Episcopal Convention elected a female bishop (Katharine Jefferts Schori, the bishop of Nevada) to take the helm of the church. She will serve as Presiding Bishop for the next 9 years. Her election is seen as making a schism within the Communion more likely, but personally I think it's a very exciting development.

Posted by armand at 09:49 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Race to Lead the UN: A Contest of Individuals or Nations?

If you haven't been following the contest that's afoot over who will succeed Kofi Annan, Chapter 15 is your best source for information. Today they have this interesting post on the degree to which this race is about the qualities and strengths of the individual candidates versus the degree to which it is a contest among states.

Posted by armand at 09:22 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Ronald Lauder Buys Klimt Masterpiece for $135 Million

I've been a big fan of that painting for a very long time - but I'm not that much of a fan of it. 135 million. Wow. It will be going to the Neue Gallerie in Manhattan.

Posted by armand at 01:15 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Blanco Signs LA's Post-Roe Abortion Ban

If the Supreme Court strikes down Roe (this is of course the BIG way in which this law differs from the South Dakota law), most abortions will be illegal in Louisiana.

The measure, sponsored by Sen. Ben Nevers, D-Bogalusa, includes no exceptions for cases of rape or incest. It would allow abortion only to save the life or the health of the mother. Doctors found guilty of performing abortions under other circumstances would face up to 10 years in prison and fines of $100,000.

This of course makes me wonder (as I often wonder) which Democrats are going to step up to the plate and challenge Governor Kathleen Blanco (the incumbent) and Congressman Bobby Jindal (a Republican, and surely the favorite to win at this point in the race) in the 2007 gubenatorial race in Louisiana.

Posted by armand at 11:14 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Zoellick's Off to Goldman Sachs

It's a bad day for the Bush administration and the country. The Deputy Secretary of State, one of the ablest senior officials in the Bush administration is leaving his position to take a job at Goldman Sachs.

Two things strike me as interesting about this. One, you've gotta love that revolving door. The guy who wanted to be Secretary of the Treasury is off to Goldman, while the guy who became Treasury Secretary just left Goldman. Secondly, who's the replacement going to be - a Rice person or a Cheney person? Will the White House try (again) to put John Bolton in this job? Watching who fills this job could tell us a lot about what faction currently has power in the White House.

Posted by armand at 10:45 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 18, 2006

If You Like Golf ...

Get to a TV immediately and watch the end of the US Open. It looks like it's headed to a really exciting finish, even without Tiger. At the moment Geoff Ogilvy has a one shot lead over four others including Furyk, Mickelson and Montgomerie, and Harrington and Singh are two shots back. There's still a lot of golf to be played and for my money (especially given how interesting/difficult Winged Foot is this year) this is possibly the most exciting late-Sunday leaderboard in a major I've seen in years.

You know, if you can find golf exciting.

Posted by armand at 05:04 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

The Bush Administration and Iran: When to Negotiate

What Kevin says.

That demonstrates some savvy foreign policy insight, doesn't it? Turn down an unprecedented offer from Iran when they're weak and we're strong, and then three years later reluctantly agree to much narrower talks when they're stronger and we're weaker. Great job, guys.
Posted by armand at 04:43 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Happy Birthday Mikey!

I hope your next year is your best yet. And if there's anything I can ever offer you or do to help you achieve that, never hesitate to let me know.

Posted by armand at 11:54 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 17, 2006

The Bush Admin. VA: Refusing to Respect the Religious Beliefs of Our Fallen Heroes

I read this hours ago and didn't expect to link to it - but more than anything else I read this morning I can't get it out of my head. I'm annoyed. Really annoyed. For as much as the president says he supports the troops, for as much as he's praised the mission in Afghanistan, and as much as he gives lip service to religious liberty - well if I think about his constant hammering on those points and then combine them with this, I think the hypocrisy will make my head explode. So I keep trying not to think about it, but ... I can't stop. I mean this guy was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart for service in Afghanistan. How about giving his family some peace and respecting his religious beliefs?

Posted by armand at 02:30 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Watering and Warm Rays

Inspired by Binky's post below, I just thought I'd share the following thought - one of the really nice feelings summer gives you is the feeling of the sun's light hitting your neck and thighs while you are out in the garden watering, early on a summer morning.

Posted by armand at 10:16 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Garden Update

There are good and bad things about going away for a few weeks right after you've planted the garden. On the one hand, you miss you on all the little changes and have lots of weeding to do when you get home. On the other, when you arrive back things have exploded and are grown enough to impress you, and the weeds are still not so bad that they have taken hold.

Then there are the mysteries. Did those things just not come up? Were they eaten by slugs? Crowded out by the proliferating fennel?

This year, I think I got an answer to why the four o-clocks I have planted for many years running never do seem to come up. The answer is that they come up, but something is destroying them. Slugs are my go-to pest, and we've got them here, bad. This year, I found one sad, shredded little four o'clock, hanging in there. With giganto chomp marks out of the leaves. We must be slug heaven or something.

I also try to move things around, to keep down the growth of fungal pests blights in the same place, but I'm not always successful. For one thing, nothing ever seems to both the chives, and they are in a clump like an oak tree, so they get to stay whereever. They are trying to spread, and I am having to get more ruthless with them. [take note Armand, those chives I brought for your garden bear watching] And I commit the cardinal sin of not moving my tomatoes, because there is really only one spot that is good for them in the whole yard. So far so good, and that's the spot that I keep piling on the compost to keep the soil rich. The only down side to the tomato area is that with the cages and wood stakes, all the local birdies like to sit there. This, in itself, isn't a problem, as I love birdies, and so do the dogs and kitties who gaze fondly at them. However the birds eat anything in the yard that grows seeds - see where this is going? - and now everything that grows anywhere else, now comes up in the tomato zone. One plus to that is that I now have catnip, which came from who knows where, but started coming up gangbusters around the tomatoes, and which I have now moved elsewhere.

Alas, with all this goodness, I have to leave again for a few days. Hopefully the slugs will stay at bay and the weather will be cooperative. Maybe when I get back I will mobilize for some photos.

Posted by binky at 09:10 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 16, 2006

Lieberman's Lamont "Bear Cub" Ad

So I read all the negative press the Lieberman anti-Lamont (or anti-Weicker?) ad was getting, and eventually my morbid curiousity got the better of me. Wow. It really is that bad. When that picture of Joe's face comes up at the end with the "I'm Joe Lieberman and I approved this message" line - I actually almost felt bad for the senator. Almost. What is that campaign thinking? At the moment this is the only explanation that makes much sense.

Posted by armand at 10:49 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

4 stars!

Well maybe 3.9, the ending is a little long, but ... 3.9 stars!

This film, the directorial debut of screenwriter Shane Black is hugely fun. It's an homage to the works of Raymond Chandler (adapted from a more recent noir-ish novel), and if you like mystery, action, comedy and a high body count, this is the movie for you. The acting is superb, the script is sharp, funny and as convoluted as it should be, the photogrpahy is gorgeous, the artistic design too (nice credits!), and basically I could go on and on. But I'll simply let it suffice to say that if you have any interest in comedy/crime/mystery type films, any interest whatsoever, you really should see this. It's great - too bad it didn't get a wider release. With better marketing I think this could actually have drawn in not insignificant crowds.

Of course the one other thought it brings to mind is that it's a terrible shame that Robert Downey Jr. hasn't had a more successful career. He's a great actor - and when he really takes hold of a role he's just a tremendous success and hugely appealing.

Posted by armand at 10:34 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

The House Approves of Mom, Apple Pie and the War on Terrorism

What's next - a vote on whether people think kittens are cute? The House took a really controversial stand today. Not.

The nonbinding resolution, which declares "that the United States will prevail in the Global War on Terror," passed by a vote of 256 to 153, with five lawmakers voting "present" and 19 others not participating. Forty-two Democrats sided with 214 Republicans in supporting the measure. Three Republicans and one independent joined 149 Democrats in voting against it ... Republicans defended the resolution as necessary to show support for U.S. and allied troops fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan ... It "honors the sacrifices" of U.S. and allied forces in Iraq and Afghanistan and "declares that it is not in the national security interest of the United States to set an arbitrary date for the withdrawal or redeployment" of U.S. troops from Iraq ... The resolution also "declares that the United States is committed to the completion of the mission to create a sovereign, free, secure and united Iraq," and it congratulates the new Iraqi prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, and the Iraqi people for participating in the 2005 elections and forming the first democratic government under Iraq's new constitution.

Now there are several points in this that I think people could rightly vote against it over - most notably the ridiculously broad wording, particularly as it pertains to our commitment to Iraq (actually that would would be an excellent reason to vote against it) and the wording that assumes members of Congress are seers with psychic power. But, c'mon folks. How about having actual hearings and real policy discussions, and engaging in much-needed oversight. I realize that's too much to ask - apparently, at least. But it's this wild dream I have. Stop voting on these entirely substantively meaningless resolutions - we all like elections and the troops, and few people if any are arguing for "arbitrary" troop withdrawals. Do your job and stop showboating.

Oh, in case you were wondering the No votes among the Republicans came from Leach (IA), Paul (TX) and Duncan (TN). Republicans Jones (NC) and McCotter (MI) voted present (along with Democrats Miller of NC, Sherman of CA and Boyd of FL).

Posted by armand at 12:58 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Orin Kerr on Hudson v. Michigan

Since Binky has shown an interest in this week's Supreme Court ruling on the knock-and-announce requirement (well, former requirement) I thought I'd mention that Orin Kerr has a few good posts on this, including one in which he asks what exactly the Court's holding is, and one in which he takes Justice Scalia for task for seeming to employ a not very originalist view of the 4th Amendment in his opinion. As Kerr amusingly writes, Scalia seems to think, the Fourth Amendment - "it's alive!"

Of course to be fair to Scalia he usually describes himself as a textualist (Thomas is the Court's #1 originalist) - but since he does defend originalism from time to time I think it's fair to note this seeming inconsistency.

Posted by armand at 11:46 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Martin Heinrich, The Hottest Guy in US Politics

The results of the Politics1 survey I linked to earlier this week are in, and despite an organized conservative lobbying campaign pushing US Senator John Thune of South Dakota (who came in 4th), the winner was Martin Heinrich, the chairman of the city council in Albuquerque. From his bio it sounds like he's a pretty interesting and effective politician.

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

More Quizzy Non-Surprises

You scored as Either. You brain is neither specifically male nor female in the way you perceive things. As bad as this sounds it can easily mean that you are capable of combining both gender aspects to your advantage. Rather than being genderless you are possibly able think freely. This does not mean that you are bisexual or androgynous or indecisive, but it might.

Either

82%

Male

54%

Female

54%

Neither

43%

Should you be MALE or FEMALE?*
created with QuizFarm.com

Courtesy of Violet Socks.

Posted by binky at 12:05 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

June 15, 2006

Red

No...black.

Via Feminist Law Profs.

Posted by binky at 11:55 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Where's my red pen?

I mean, I know it's summer, but this might be fun!

Ann Coulter has a bad habit. And that habit, as mentioned before by the Rude Pundit (followed up by Raw Story), is that she appears to like to copy whole sentences from other sources without putting them in as quotes or even citing where she might have "paraphrased" from. You judge for yourself:

Here's Coulter from Chapter 1 of Godless: The massive Dickey-Lincoln Dam, a $227 million hydroelectric project proposed on upper St. John River in Maine, was halted by the discovery of the Furbish lousewort, a plant previously believed to be extinct.

Here's the Portland Press Herald, from the year 2000, in its list of the "Maine Stories of the Century": The massive Dickey-Lincoln Dam, a $227 million hydroelectric project proposed on upper St. John River, is halted by the discovery of the Furbish lousewort, a plant believed to be extinct.

Strangely similar, no? By the way, that's a story from 1976. Coulter doesn't tell you that little tidbit, making you think it happened last week. The next one's from 1977:

Here's Coulter writing about an attack on the Alaska pipeline: A few years after oil drilling began in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, a saboteur set off an explosion blowing a hole in the pipeline and releasing an estimated 550,000 gallons of oil.

Here's something from the History Channel: The only major oil spill on land occurred when an unknown saboteur blew a hole in the pipe near Fairbanks, and 550,000 gallons of oil spilled onto the ground.

Why, in this age of the "terrorist," would Coulter use "saboteur," a quaint term, to be sure? Could it be a cut and paste job with a couple of words changed, like a good college freshman?

And PZ Myers blasts the creationist falsehoods too.

Posted by binky at 08:07 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

If looks could kill...

...Byrd's eye!.

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

The Light in the Piazza - On TV!

If you love the theater and you have PBS, watching that should (on Live From Lincoln Center) is what you should do tonight. It's very rare for these shows to get on nation-wide TV - and even rarer for a show that's gotten the critical acclaim this one has to be televised.

Posted by armand at 12:13 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Knock Knock

Oh, wait, nevermind.

The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that police armed with a warrant can barge into homes and seize evidence even if they don't knock, a huge government victory that was decided by President Bush's new justices.

The 5-4 ruling clearly signals the court's conservative shift following the departure of moderate Sandra Day O'Connor.

The case tested previous court rulings that police armed with warrants generally must knock and announce themselves or they run afoul of the Constitution's Fourth Amendment ban on unreasonable searches.

Posted by binky at 11:39 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Democratic Seniority in the Senate If We Ditch Lieberman

More and more I'm coming to believe that Lieberman may lose his primary race. If that happens it'll clearly be the biggest upset of the 2006 election cycle - a truly stunning turn of events. But given the poll numbers of late and the education lobbies turning against him that stunning turn of events is looking like a real possibility.

What would that mean? Lots of good things, starting with one of the president's biggest enablers being out of the US Senate. But there are other good things too. Lieberman's been around long enough to be in a position where he's already the top Democrat on one committee - Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. That's a committee that, if the Democrats won the Senate, would play a lead role in investigating, for example, GOP mucking about with the FDA or other science-related agencies, or the competence of Homeland Security. Do we want the president's favorite Democrat deciding what does and doesn't get investigated? If you are an environmentalist it might interest you that with Jefford retiring Lieberman could take over as the top Democrat on Environment and Public Works next year. Lieberman's got a good record on conservation and environmental protection issues, but who would take over if he doesn't? Barbara Boxer. I'm not sure what I think of that, personally - but I'm betting most Democrats would likely prefer her heading that committee. Finally, and most importantly, Carl Levin can't stay in office forever. When the senior senator from Michigan retires, who is in line to be the Democrats leading voice on military matters in Congress? Joe Lieberman - the president's favorite Democrat, and one of the Iraq war's biggest cheerleaders. If Lieberman wasn't around, Jack Reed would replace Levin. And Jack Reed would be a dream come true for the party (or at least be a vast improvement over Lieberman). He's a frequent opponent of the president and critic of his foreign and military policies, and one with the just about the best resume imagineable.

After graduating from LaSalle Academy in Providence, he attended the United States Military Academy at West Point where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in 1971. Following his graduation from West Point and receiving an active duty commission in the United States Army, Reed attended the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University where he received a Masters of Public Policy. Reed, an Army Ranger and a paratrooper, served in the 82nd Airborne Division as an Infantry Platoon leader, a Company Commander and a Battalion Staff Officer. He returned to West Point in 1978 as an Associate Professor in the Department of Social Sciences. Reed resigned from the Army as a Captain in 1979 and enrolled in Harvard Law School.

Reed's views are much more in line with most Democrats, and his background allows him to speak with an authority Lieberman doesn't have.

So more and more I'm wondering - unless you are a personal friend of Lieberman, why would a Democrat vote for him in a primary against Ned Lamont?

Posted by armand at 11:26 AM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

Ready to Lead? What the Hell is Chuck Todd Talking About?

OK, I realize when people sign on to write regular columns for national political publications they will often fall back on conventional wisdom or whatever they heard at last night's poker party for story ideas. Somedays you just aren't going to wake up with a good idea for a new column. But this column goes far beyond the lack of a good idea and/or a new idea. I'm simply left wondering - what the hell is Todd talking about? Uh, the fact that there are divisions in the Democratic Party means they can't lead? What kind of nonsense is that? There have been divisions in it for well over a century - but somehow Clinton, LBJ and FDR muddled through and accomplished a few things. What the hell does the fact that a handful of Bill Jefferson's friends choosing to defend him, or Ned Lamont launching a Senate race against an incumbent mean for the party's "ability to lead"? What, did Senator Sununu taking out Senator Smith in a primary in New Hampshire kill the Republicans' "leadership"? If Todd's problem with them (at least partially) is that their "voice" is all over the place - wouldn't replacing Lieberman clarify that voice and help them lead? And the worst thing that can happen to California Democrats is that they'll win the 2006 elections? Then exactly what the hell would the best thing for them be? That they lose? This - is - just - silly.

Sorry if I seem to be blowing up over a mindless, silly column - but this one is just so plainly bizarre - and from a writer and publication that normally provide vastly better analysis than this - that I am vexed by it.

Posted by armand at 10:35 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Hmmm...Amnesty?

Via today's WaPo, we see that Maliki (the new Iraqi Prime Minister) is making a serious attempt at fixing the security situation by both increasing troops (Baghdad is filled with Iraqi police and military) and by political strategy - he is offering a potential amnesty to those Iraqis who have done violence to Americans (but not to Iraqis).

Smart politically, but I'm not sure how well this will play out here. I can't see Americans getting behind this (not that it matters, since Iraq is a separate country and can do what it wants, theoretically). Beyond the political issues, however, this seems like a smart strategy for actually doing something. No guaratees it will work, but a good first step.

Posted by baltar at 10:22 AM | Comments (24) | TrackBack

George W. Bush - Annoyed When Not Worshiped

This raises so many issues for me - and none of them reflect well on the president - the insecure, bullying, rude president.

Posted by armand at 08:22 AM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

June 14, 2006

Tonight's Skyscraper Fact

As a guy who's pretty interested in skyscrapers I found the recent article on them in The Economist to be very disappointing - not much illuminating in that. But it did contain an interesting piece of skyscraper trivia - 40% of the world's 200 tallest buildings have been completed since 2000. It's definitely a heady time for that business.

Posted by armand at 11:47 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Desire for Something Touched by Royalty

OK, I can understand the Poltimore tiara going for 820,000 pounds. Well, maybe not - but it's damn pretty as such things go, so I won't get too bent out of shape over that. But some of the other prices that the lots in the auction of Princess Margaret's possessions have fetched? You've got to be kidding. Really. Things going for 100 times the high end of the pre-auction estimates? I suppose in a way it's reassuring that it's all princesses whose possessions are craved, not simply ones who love to play the "news" media. But in another way that makes it all the more perplexing. Do fairytales still have that much of an effect on people?

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

Not All of the CBC is Defending William Jefferson

Urgh - how I hate sloppy political reporting. I have only learned tonight - after a couple of weeks of stories in the press noting how the Congressional Black Caucus is opposed to removing Rep. William Jefferson from the House Ways and Means Committee - that two of the most prominent members of that group (and for that matter, of the US House) have been working to remove Jefferson, and one of them even made the motion to remove him. Those members are Charlie Rangel and John Lewis, who it should be noted are also two of the most senior members of the Democratic side of Ways and Means (Rangel is the senior Democrat). Now if the CBC's official policy is to defend Jefferson, the press stories haven't been wrong - but to omit that the organization was divided and that the two men who are arguably the most powerful and most respected African-American members of the US House want to strip Jefferson of his position strikes me as a rather big omission in those press stories.

Posted by armand at 09:46 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

OMG! Can the Democrats Really Win the US House?

I honestly haven't closely considered the issue in many weeks. Last time I did, I figured the likely end result was going to be something close to a tie between the two parties (Democratic gains of 12-15 seats). But maybe the political winds really are moving more strongly in the Democrats' direction after all. I say that because of these new rankings of vulnerable House seats from the National Journal (about as non-partisan an analysis unit as you can find). Take a look - of the 18 seats they see as the most likely to switch in November, 17 are held by Republicans. I still have my doubts this will happen, and even if they did pick up, say, 17 seats, that would leave the Democrats with only a very small margin of "control". But ... maybe the House Republicans will be swept from power after all. That would certainly make the last two years of the Bush administration more interesting.

Posted by armand at 01:27 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Yet One More Negative Thing About Dallas, Texas

At the end of a post on crime trends (all of which are troubling - violent crime is up, the incarceration rate is weirdly high, and while this is going on, Bush's government is cutting aid to the nation's police forces), Mark Kleiman writes the joke line I've most enjoyed reading today: "New York is now the lowest-crime big city in the country, and Dallas the highest-crime. Must be all those criminal-coddling liberal Democratic judges in Dallas." Uh, yeah, uh-huh - ha.

Posted by armand at 01:03 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Crazy, but that's how it goes...

It's a little overwhelming to try to catch up on a month of blog reading and world events. One thing caught my eye reading over at Pandagon this morning, because it's a subject on which I have commented from time to time: just because you're paranoid doesn't mean "they" aren't watching you.

And now it's Dr. Peter Rost who has been checking into who has been checking into him.

Posted by binky at 12:58 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

June 13, 2006

Our "Keystone Stasi"

The Department of Homeland Security - try to say that phrase without laughing after you read this.

Posted by armand at 03:56 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Jim Lindgren is Unusually Moronic Today

Yes I could make a joke right here, but moving to his comments ... responding to the news that Karl Rove won't be indicted he writes - "It would be interesting to compare the false statements made by Rove and Libby to the investigators with the false statements made by Joe Wilson to the press and the public." [emphasis added]

Well gee Mr. Lindgren, if that's going to be the standard (and it's hard to imagine a more ridiculous one - lies to the public and lies to federal investigators aren't remotely the same thing) let's compare Rove's comments not just to Wilson's comments but to the lies publicly paraded at length in front of the American people by Messrs. Cheney, Bush and Rumseld, and of course Secretary Rice. I mean if the goal is to really see who is being mendacious ...

Posted by armand at 11:48 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Back in the Saddle

Alrighty, finally back in the land of the stationary and regular access to internet that doesn't cost five bucks per half hour. Looks like Baltar will be back in a day or two also, so the full strength team will be back in business.

Many thanks to Armand for holding down the fort in such fine style.

Posted by binky at 09:20 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 12, 2006

The Referendum is Set, While the Palestine Authority Feuds

In case you haven't noticed it amid the coverage of the World Cup, the French Open, the start of hurricane season, and the Steelers' QB's motorcycle accident - it looks like the Palestine Authority is collapsing into civil war, or something like it.

In a dramatic escalation of violence that has been simmering for several days, hundreds of gunmen loyal to President Abbas' Fatah Party set fire to the West Bank office of Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh in Ramallah. The office is unoccupied because Israeli travel restrictions prevent Hamas leaders from traveling from Gaza to the West Bank. A short while later gunmen loyal to Fatah, fired on the Palestinian Parliament building in Ramallah, setting it on fire ...

Tensions have risen dramatically since Saturday when President Abbas ordered a referendum to be held on July 26th, when Palestinians will be asked to approve a measure that calls for a Palestinian state to exist alongside Israel. The measure, if approved, would in effect call on Hamas to recognize Israel -- something Hamas has refused to do.

Posted by armand at 10:09 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

The Hottest Man in US Politics

Judging our public servants by their looks - its not just women being ranked any more.

Hot guy blogging is popular on the web, of course. But to my knowledge hot male politicians are still a very rare breed - but somehow Ron's' found two or three. Vote for the hottest to continue to reinforce our society's deep love of polls and prettiness.

Posted by armand at 01:17 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Mercedes!

Sweet - whoever was in charge of casting Aquamom made the perfect choice. Jemery Piven's Ari Gold still makes the show of course, and Jimmy Woods was fantastic in the season premiere, but I never get tired of Ms. Ruehl.

Posted by armand at 01:04 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

What's Wrong With the Tony Awards

Now it's nice that Emperor Palpatine and Cynthia Nixon (Miranda!) won last night, but when it comes to the big prizes, the Tony Awards all too often go to the wrong shows. Witness last night's win by Jersey Boys for Best Musical. The only non-acting prize it won (other than the big one) was for lighting, and I haven't heard of a soul who thinks it deserved the top prize - yet it's win isn't at all surprising given the dynamics behind the voting. But those dynamics aren't logical and someone should wake up to that (actually lots of people should). As Nathaniel explains:

There can be general consensus that a show will be regarded as a classic and they'll still ignore it for a touristy moneymaker. It's the reason they gave the big prize to Spamalot! over Light in the Piazza last year and the reason Jersey Boys took the big prize from Drowsy Chaperone this year and Pajama Game beat Sweeney Todd, too. In all of those cases, it's a crying shame. The really puzzling thing about this voting trend is that you'll always hear that this happens due to the touring company voting block. They want the ability to advertise the blockbusters on the road as being "Best Musical" winners. That would make perfect sense if they needed that title. The truth is these blockbuster shows that they vote for don't need awards. They usually come ready made for mass public appeal. You can't tell me that a show about a beloved cult film and a jukebox musical about the Four Seasons can't be marketed without that Tony-winning hook. It's the real deal new musicals like Piazza and Chaperone that need this boost.
Posted by armand at 11:52 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

(Some) US House Members Demand Reforms from Mubarak

The Bushadministration/GOP Congress continues to talk-up "democratic reforms" while taking no firm actions against a number of major non-democratic states - in fact, firmly arguing against punishing these opponents of democratic reforms. This is the story again in again in our relationships around the world right now. But it's rarely more obvious (and kind of embarrassing) than it is in the Arab world. But some members of Congress aren't on board with this seeming hypocrisy, and actually think we should back up our words with firm action. The US House (not surprisingly) defeated an attempt to slash $100 million from the US taxpayers dollars that we send to that clearly undemocratic regime - but the critics of continuing to send our money to that government were vociferous and showed surprising strength.

Posted by armand at 11:08 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 11, 2006

The New UN General Assembly President

The last time a woman was elected to lead the UN General Assembly (1969), Bahrain wasn't even an independent state - but last week a Bahraini diplomat and legal pioneer was elected to lead that body. Haya Rashed al Khalifah will be the General Assembly's third female president. It's interesting that the first woman to head the Assembly in decades comes from a kingdom where women only received voting rights in 2002.

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

Move Along

So I joined the masses who've bought the All-American Rejects' album today. And I like it. Though I fear it - when I play the title track in the car I can't help but dance around like a wildly energized kid on a host of stimulants. Not that that's not fun, but I imagine I look pretty damn ridiculous. But whatever - it's too good at being perfect fun, driving music not to do that.

Posted by armand at 08:21 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Jesus is Magic

She's got impeccable timing, is very cute and could well turn out to be quite an impressive actress. Add that to comedy that is oh so wrong, so very very wrong, but so right (so much more offensive and so much funnier than say Parker & Stone, and I say that as someone who likes South Park more often than not), and you've got the funniest comic on stage performance (well, that's most of what the movie is) I've seen in ages. She's better than just about anyone not named Lewis Black - and in some ways funnier than him (hard to compare as their styles are so different. So I stronly recommend Jesus is Magic. Extremely strongly - if you can take the subject matter. For a taste - "You're Gonna Die Soon".

And be sure to watch "Bring the Jew Girl Toys" on the extras - very funny.

Posted by armand at 01:17 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Polling the '08 Iowa Democratic Caucus

John Edwards is slightly ahead of Hillary Clinton! That's very interesting. As to the rest, John Kerry is a distant third, and Iowa governor Tom Vilsack is in fourth place. Just how well does Vilsack have to do in his home state if he's going to run?

Posted by armand at 10:30 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

June 09, 2006

Federer's In The French Final

As expected, the top seed in the men's draw (and probably the greatest men's tennis player playing today) has made it into the finals at the French Open. If he wins that (and that's a big "if" since Nadal is still out there and Ljubicic is quite talenetd too), it'll be a truly historic weekend in tennis:

If Federer wins the title, he would become only the third man to hold all four Grand Slam titles at the same time, joining Don Budge and Rod Laver. He would also become the sixth man to achieve a career Slam by winning all four majors.

As a huge Federer fan, I'd love to see that happen.

And how about Martina Navratilova making it all the way to the semifinals in the mixed doubles? Not bad for a 49 year old - or for anyone else for that matter.

Posted by armand at 11:40 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Your 1980's YouTube for June 9th

I think that ABC is actually pretty underrated in terms of their pop abilities. Which doesn't necessarily make them any more listenable for those who don't like pop - but if you can take it, their stuff seem like more classic representations of that era in the genre than they seem to get credit for. But as much as I can admire (in its way) their songcraft and really sincerely enjoy some of their songs, the design of some of their videos - wow. Again, they are sooooo classic in the way they are shot and in the art design that they deserve time capsule status - but ther are soooo painfully classic that they are somewhere between cringe-causing and hilarious. Still, some of the songs are pretty good, and if you can see value in the camp and nostalgia of the videos, watch Be Near Me.

And then for a change of pace, how about Pat Benatar's Sex as a Weapon? I'm not the biggest fan of that, but it is Pat Benatar (so pretty much all flaws are forgiven), and seems somehow appropriate to post given a few couples I know.

Posted by armand at 11:16 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 08, 2006

More Good Political News!

Zarqawi's terrorism is ended. The Senate kills the effort to permanently repeal the estate tax. And the FDA has finally approved Merck's Gardasil (anti-HPV) vaccine. It's a good day. You'd almost think competent people were running the country's government.

Posted by armand at 05:35 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

So Zarqawi Finally Outlived His Usefulness?

OK, with news this big, I'm afraid I've got to post today.

Make no mistake, I think bringing a vicious killer to justice is a good thing (though I think people need to be very cautious about seeing this as something that's going to push Iraq in any particular direction). But maybe it would have been nice to get rid of him before he became the head of al Qaeda in Iraq (remember UBL only bestowed that "honor" on him in late December 2004, long, long, long after we launched the war). It's worth remembering that people in the White House apparently didn't want to kill him or other terrorists in Iraq before they launched the invasion, though they seem to have had the intelligence and opportunity to do so. Such a tough man of action who wants to strike before the terrorists have a chance to, our president.

Posted by armand at 10:55 AM | Comments (18) | TrackBack

June 07, 2006

The Worst Thing About Terrorism Is Our Response to It

Read this.

I won't post anything tomorrow, and since Baltar and Binky are still out of town for a few more days, this might stay at the top of the page for a little bit. And that's entirely appropriate. It makes some key points about how we deal with terrorism, a matter of great importance. And it strikes me as something that's all too rare in that it's insightful, important AND accessible. I'll be interested to hear what you think of it.

Posted by armand at 10:37 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

The Anti-Gay Marriage Constitutional Amendment, The Democratic Support

So just because it can't pass the Senate, doesn't mean the US House won't also take up the measure. They are expected to vote on it in July. And in the reading I've done on that vote, I've noticed something that's too often overlooked in US politics. The people who are going to vote for the measure are mostly Republicans (like our own Rep. Capito), but there are a lot of Democrats supporting it too. Saying that you probably think I mean the Blue Dogs, the moderate/conservative white Democrats from the South. And yes, a lot of them are planning to vote for it - people like Ben Chandler who might well be the next governor of Kentucky, Chet Edwards, Charlie Melancon, Jim Cooper, John Tanner, Jim Marshall, Marion Berry and quite possibly every other member of that crowd in the Democratic caucus. There are also other white guys from the general area who might be viewed as more moderate or moderate/liberal than conservative (Rick Boucher from SW Virginia, Nick Joe Rahall from Southern WV) who will be voting for it too. As will the odd non-Southern Democrat who has a terrible voting record on gay rights issues (with Tony Hall and Lipinski the elder no longer in the House, I guess the leader of that set might be Collin Peterson of Minnesota) and Democrats like Stephanie Herseth who represent non-Southern, blood-red areas. But there's one other noticeable block supporting the amendment as well - a chunk of the black Democrats from the South. Men like Harold Ford of Tennessee (why people are excited about his Senate race perplexes me), Reps. Scott and Bishop of Georgia, Jefferson of Louisiana (I guess the entire Louisiana delegation will be voting for this) and Thompson of Mississippi (who was the more liberal candidate in yesterday's primary). Too many people forget that a lot of black Americans view the civil rights battles for gays to be quite different than the civil rights fights for blacks. And of course the influence of churches in those communities must not be forgotten. In other words, the voting patterns on this matter in the House aren't going to fall entirely along the ideological lines some might expect. And there are a few black Democrats in the House who are much more conservative than many people realize.

Posted by armand at 04:08 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Your Wednesday YouTube

Let's return to the 80's - better still, A-ha meets James Bond!The Living Daylights. As I recall, I liked that movie. And if I'm linking to 80's Bond themes you know I've got to link to A View to a Kill.

Posted by armand at 02:05 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Spring Evaluations

So I got my student evaluations for my Spring classes today. Most of them were raves (yes, go me!). But I thought I'd share part of the most negative one (hey, they are anonymous, so why not?) since I think it says so much about a certain group of today's college students:

I also felt like his tests were too hard and I'm even an honors student. He required us to read too much as well & expected us to know details from readings.

Yes, the poor honors student had to read, take (HARD!) tests and actually remember a few details from the readings. What has college come to?

Posted by armand at 01:16 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Anti-Gay Marriage Constitutional Amendment and Sen. Byrd

I'll have more to say on this later, but for the record - it failed. The vote was 49-48. Seven Republicans (including McCain! gosh I'm going to have to say something nice about him) voted against it (and Hagel didn't vote) - two Democrats vote for it, Nelson of Nebraska and our own Robert C. Byrd.

Sen. Byrd voted for this thing ... now John Raese is a jackass and a joke and spoiled, polluting Floridian ... but I might just start to think about voting for him this fall. I've never been a Byrd fan, not remotely, but this might just push me over the edge from simply not voting in this fall's Senate race.

Posted by armand at 11:56 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

June 06, 2006

Your Tuesday YouTube

There is no video for the song that made my morning - getting in the car on a sunny, warm summer morning to The Magnetic Fields's "Grand Canyon" is a very nice way to start the day (and of course that starts a string of the best of Stephin Merrit on Vol. 2 of 69 Love Songs, and the best of Stephin Merrit is almost impossibly good). So instead I'll link to another pretty song, the title track off one of my favorite albums of the last couple of years - Trial of the Century. The video's not much really (though I like the blue and soft lighting), but it's a nice song (if not the album's best).

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

Minority Leader Emanuel?

A number of bloggers on the left side of the blogosphere were upset with a possibility raised in Bob Novak's weekend column - the possibility that if the Democrats fail to win back the House this fall, Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) could be replaced by Rahm Emanuel (D-Chicago) as the leader of the Democrats in the House. Their outrage with the idea stemmed from the fact that this would supposedly be rewarding failure - how dare DC Democrats consider naming the guy charged with winning this fall's elections (since Emanuel heads the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee) - if he doesn't win back the House he's failed to do his job and so he shouldn't be rewarded. To these critics of this idea (which, to my knowledge, is indeed being considered in some circles) I respond - are you high? Do you really think which party controls the US House really depends on who heads the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. That's an absurd notion. Emanuel could do a superb job (and by all accounts he's hugely talented and has been extremely aggressive in his leadership of the committee - for both good and ill) in his position, and the Democrats could still fail to win back the House in November for a host of reasons. Evaluate the merits of these people by how well they perform in the jobs they fill - not by outcomes that are in many ways beyond their control.

Posted by armand at 09:40 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Gingrich Posts BIG Win in Minnesota Straw Poll

Moon's pick for '08 did well in a straw poll conducted at the Minnesota Republican Convention last weekend. Very well. Former Speaker of the House newt Gingrich got more than twice as many votes as any of the possible '08 Republican candidates (Gingrich won 40% of the vote, his next closest opponent - Virginia Sen. George Allen - only won 15% of the vote).

Posted by armand at 09:36 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

The Human Rights Campaign Endorsed Lieberman?

Business. As. Usual.

At one level this doesn't suprise me - the HRC didn't get to be one of the leading lobbies backing "leftist" causes by continually bucking the powerful. But their endorsement of Joe Lieberman is nothing they should be proud of (or done in the first place). Yes, I can see why the country's leading gay rights organization (and one of the leading abortion rights organizations) would back Joe Lieberman given that he has a long history of casting votes that are on "their side" on the floor of the Senate. But two things should have stopped them from issuing their endorsement. First, while Lieberman often votes the right way from their perspective, the very essence of Lieberman's politics enables the biggest opponents of the gay rights and abortion rights movements. His political discourse, his constant moralizing, frames politics in ways that give power to the HRC's opponents - power that is arguably much more important than Lieberman's individual vote (which is just 1 of 100). Secondly, his opponent, Ned Lamont, seems sure to be BETTER ON THEIR ISSUES. Why in the hell endorse an okay incumbent, when you could have a strikingly good replacement for him? I know why - b/c the HRC succumbed to the go-along-to-get-along mantras that pervade DC. But that kind of politics as usual is not helpful to their cause. They are backing a dangerous mediocrity over a true supporter, even leader, of the causes that they supposedly prioritize.

I'd actually just gotten some literature from them asking me to join. I'm now very glad I hadn't sent that back. There's no way I'll be joining them, though I do give Lambda Legal money. I agree with Christopher Durang (who until this column I had no idea was political). If you hope for an America in which gay Americans have the same rights and protections as straight Americans, support that group. Don't give your money to the Human Rights Campaign.

Posted by armand at 09:17 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 05, 2006

Your Monday Morning YouTube

Since YouTube's old videos seem to be entertaining everyone (I'd honestly forgotten just how much I really like "Just Another Day", and now it's just a click away) here are a few more for your entertainment:

Let's see, You Spin Me Round always puts me in a good mood (literally - every time I hear it) and the video is amusing. I don't know if Luke ever visits here or not, but if so, here's some Erasure. And Morris, I was actually thinking of linking to one for you too - and I thought Mr. Mister would be right. Sadly YouTube doesn't have my favorite video of theirs (Is It Love) and I just can't bring myself to link to Kyrie. Actually the more I've hunted the more I see they don't have videos I wish they had (like, say, The Au Pairs singing "It's Obvious" - but maybe there was never any video for that in the first place). But hey they do have things I never saw before and never thought I'd see - like this so serious and campy video for "Dominion" by Sisters of Mercy. Given my recently renewed interest in The Exorcist and others' upcoming trips to Jordan, eh, that sort of aesthetic is on my mind.

Posted by armand at 11:10 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

June 04, 2006

Dana L.'s Story

The conservative politics of the Bush administration forced me to have an abortion I didn't want. Well, not literally, but let me explain.

If more women told these experiences I'd have to think that the idiotic zealotry that curtails their freedom would weaken, at least a bit. So good to her for speaking out on the consquences of the Republicans' (and some Democrats') supposedly anti-abortion policies.

But I feel that this administration gave me practically no choice but to have an unwanted abortion because the way it has politicized religion made it well-nigh impossible for me to get emergency contraception that would have prevented the pregnancy in the first place.
Posted by armand at 10:48 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Subtle Knife

The Golden Compass might have been slightly better as a novel, taken individually. But The Subtle Knife has what you want in the middle book in a three book series - growth in the themes and stylization, intriguing new characters, new mysteries, and lots and lots of action. To borrow from Gregory Maguire's review:

Children will read ''The Subtle Knife'' as an adventure story rather than as an extended riff on liberty and free will derived from Books 5 and 6 of ''Paradise Lost.'' And adventure is abundant: cowboy shootouts, exploding dirigibles, break-ins at English country homes, tortures and assassinations, communication with spirits on computer monitors. The story gallops with such ferocious momentum that one almost forgives such cliffhangers as watching Mary Malone, a former nun turned Oxford scientist, disappear through a window into a new world, never to be heard from again -- yet.

I'm enjoying these books, and I might not read book 3 for a couple of weeks, simply because I don't really want to be done with the series. The ideas (about science, religion, adulthood, human motivations, power and ethics) are treated with unusual depth (well I presume that to be the case - but I'll have to finish book 3 to be sure). And they are extraordinarily well-written books. Not just in the prose, but in the use of a variety of key design points that allow for an unusual level of tension, excitment and meaning in the text (like the overlapping worlds). I recommend them.

Posted by armand at 10:16 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 03, 2006

Clyde Frog, Elmo, Big Bird and DHS Funding

I think the outrage over the cut in the anti-terrorism funding for DC and New York is a bit misplaced. There are much more general issues about our anti-terrorism funding (both in terms of where it's going and where it's not going) that should have people riled up (and should have people riled up before the 2002 and 2004 elections, but if the people aren't paying close attention ...). Still, some of those bigger problems are evident in this whole story - and the most amusing take yet written on the story has to be this post by Publius. You've gotta laugh - b/c a) it is funny and b) if you don't you might end up seething with rage.

Posted by armand at 07:44 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 02, 2006

Was He Just a Simple Cobbler From Connecticut?

Cue the dancing founders Connecicut! Connecticut! - oh, wait this is about Roger Shermans behavior at that big political convention in 1787, not the one in 1776. Sorry.

To me, the most interesting thing in the May 2006 issue of the American Political Science Review is a brief forum comprising two articles on the role played by Roger Sherman at the Constitutional Convention. In the first Keith Dougherty and Jac Heckelman suggest that Roger Shermans role in the convention has been overstated somewhat, and that a large part of why he was influential in that body was that he was a pivotal member from a pivotal state. They argue that if this hadnt been the case Sherman would likely have had less of an impact on the convention (yes, you and I can file this away in the file marked perfectly obvious, but they make their point with spatial models, and who doesnt love spatial models?).

The real gem is the following piece by David Brian Robertson. He politely notes that the work the previous authors were critiquing was investigating rather different matters, and he uses his six pages to make a good case for methodological pluralism. While doing this he brings up several fundamental flaws that infest far too much research involving voting behavior (though Dougherty and Heckelmans work is even more problematic than usual in that they build their spatial models from Shermans voting behavior in Congress, not the Constitutional Convention, a completely different body), and renews William Rikers call for more research into heresthetics (political manipulation framing, the sequencing of votes, things like that). This last point is one thats always stuck me as vital to keep in mind when studying politicians and political bodies (especially legislators and legislatures) and Im pleased whenever it gets its due in the APSR.

Posted by armand at 11:44 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

"Just Like the STASI, But You Are Safer and We Care!"

This has John Cole outraged. And I have to agree with him - our rights to be secure in our homes seem to be weakening by the hour.

Police may enter Californians' homes without warrants to arrest those suspected of driving under the influence, the California Supreme Court ruled Thursday in a case testing the scope of the Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures ...

The case concerned the 2003 Santa Barbara arrest of Daniel Thompson, whom a neighbor suspected was driving drunk and notified authorities. They found a parked car matching the description the neighbor provided and went to the front door of the adjoining residence during a summer evening. The door was open and a woman said the car's driver was asleep. Moments later, Thompson walked by the officers and they entered the house and arrested him. The neighbor confirmed it was the person she suspected of driving intoxicated and throwing an empty vodka bottle out the car door.

If this nanny-state nonsense is all it takes to dispense with warrants you'd have to wonder if their days are numbered (at least in California).

Posted by armand at 10:17 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Just Another Day, but not just any Election Day

The Oingo Boingo song remains a true classic of the 1980's, one that I love. But the video raises an interesting artistic/business question. How is it possible that no one on the creative team realized it was a bad idea for a member of the band to wear a buttoned-down, tucked-in, plaid shirt in a music video? That's not even fun bad 1980's fashion. He just looks like he showed up to be in a video on the way home from doing some data entry.

Thankfully some people in the 1980's would never make such a dreadfully dreary fashion faux pas - and some of those people were Arcadia. Now there were some guys who knew how to make the most of the era's absurdities (and touches fun and glam).

Posted by armand at 02:42 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

How Liz Cheney Got Her Job

I've been famously cynical since ... birth? Something like that. But perhaps that's not always a bad thing, and maybe it's hitting positively healthy levels these days. I mean there is something to be said for comments like this making me laugh out loud, instead of leading me to lower my head in depression and shame at what the country has become (OK, that's a slightly different thing to be ashamed of - but I'd say it's connected to the possibility of things like Cheney's appointment happening). I mean I'm sure I'll dwell on the latter again - but my first reaction to that line was that it was quite amusingly straightforward.

Posted by armand at 01:44 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Cardinal Pell: Don't Look at My Intolerance, Look at His

Way to defend your church, Cardinal Pell.

You said, "Considered on its own terms, Islam is not a tolerant religion." What did you mean?

I'd been thinking about the general historical and political record of Islam. Now you might say that for a lot of our history, we weren't particularly tolerant either. To that objection, I'd say, 'Show me where they're tolerant.'

Posted by armand at 11:32 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

If DeMille Had Made His Easter Classic 50 Years Later

Just for Mikey (though some of the rest of you might find it damn funny too) - Ten Things I Hate About Commandments.

Posted by armand at 10:09 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 01, 2006

Is Larry Sabato Right About Vietnam and 1966?

The king of political science soundbites is out with a pithy/overly-simplistic analysis of mid-term elections (what else would you expect from the king of political science soundbites?). I suppose I could knock this piece in a number of ways (particularly his exists-or-doesn't-exist measurement of his key variables), but who has the time, and something else in it bugs me more than his usual desire extreme simplicity and arguments you can fit on the head of a pin. Isn't his discussion of the 1966 election just flat-out inaccurate? I could be wrong, not him - but this doesn't seem right to me at all:

Already by 1966, voters were turning against the president's conduct of the war, and it cost the Democrats 47 House seats and two Senate seats--though not overall control of Congress.

Voters were turning against the war in 1966? Really? And they were turning against the war in such numbers that it cost the Democrats 49 seats in Congress? There weren't domestic reasons for that shift? If I'm wrong, please educate me (and I mean that) - but that sentence (errr, analysis) strikes me as a seriously deficient explanation of the 1966 mid-term election.

Posted by armand at 01:12 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Ceballos: Much Ado About Not Much?

Kermit Roosevelt thinks the fretting over the Ceballos opinion is excessive. He sees a very narrow opinion that's not a catastrophe, particularly given the morass of that section of the law.

I think that it takes essentially the right view of the problem of public employee speech. At the least, to damn with faint praise, it's not the worst thing about the Court's employee speech jurisprudence ...

If we think of the issue this way, the majority opinion in Ceballos is essentially doing nothing more than following a syllogism. The government can fire employees based on job performance. When employees speak as part of their employment duties, they are performing the job. Therefore, they can be fired for such speech.

Posted by armand at 10:56 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Scott Varner to Be the Next House Speaker?

It looks like the Majority Whip of the House of Delegates is going to succeed long-time Speaker Bob Kiss. Varner, from Marshall County, would be the first Speaker from the Northern Panhandle in 80 years.

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

My Worst Traffic Experience in a Long Time

There's a new rule for life in Morgantown - don't try to drive on High St. above Walnut on weekday afternoons, for any reason, ever. Additional and supporting rule - don't try to drive on streets (like Willey or Fayette or even Spruce below Willey) that people use to turn onto that section of High St. If you do, you'll be sitting in your car, in the summer heat, for what feels like hours, days, even months.

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