September 30, 2006

Canada's Liberals Have Their "Super Weekend"

So far the results are largely what was widely expected - former Harvard professor Michael Ignatieff has taken the lead, but it's not a commanding lead. Voting will continue throughout the weekend.

Posted by armand at 11:46 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Pakistan Has Made the Taliban Stronger (Again)

A U.S. military official said Wednesday that American troops on Afghanistan's eastern border have seen a threefold increase in attacks since a recent truce between Pakistani troops and pro-Taliban tribesmen that was supposed to have stopped cross-border raids by the militants.

OK, someone remind me - why was the president of Pakistan just feted at the White House? Why was the president of Afghanistan forced (by us) to play nice with him there? Why are we increasingly toughening our rhetoric again the president of Afghanistan, and but seemingly softening our language on Pakistan?

Maybe this is why - but of course no one in the Bush administration could ever admit to actually needing a dictator, so our incomprehensible policy toward Pakistan is likely to remain incomprehensible.

Posted by armand at 11:18 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 29, 2006

A New Discovery

In the midst of national mourning over the blow dealt to civil liberties and the constitution, perhaps we all need to console ourselves with a little comfort food. No?

Posted by binky at 05:27 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Mark Foley (R-FL) Resigns!

Wow - I did not see this coming. The Mark Foley e-mail scandal that started brewing a couple of days ago turned up about 300 degrees today - and now he's resigned. Foley was relatively moderate by House Republican standards (he was somewhat pro-choice), and was best known (aside from allegations about his personal life) for being one of the House's most successful fundraisers - and relatedly, one of the best friends of the big entertainment and telecommunications corporations in Congress. He was expected to win reelection, but this would seem to give his Democratic challenger a great shot at winning the seat (the Democrat is a self-funder and the seat isn't terribly Republican, though it did vote for Bush in '04). The magic number for House Democrats may have just become 14 instead of 15.

Posted by armand at 03:33 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Democratization: Nossel's 10 Rules to Remember

They're good ones.

Posted by armand at 02:27 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Senate Dems Who Voted for the Detainee Bill

In case you wanted to keep track of who voted how.

Every Republican voted for this monstrosity, except for Chafee (Olympia Snowe - the gutless wonder from Maine - didn't vote). All but twelve Democrats voted against it. So who are your anti-habeas corpus, pro-torture Democrats?

Well, Bush-brown-noser-in-chief J Lieberman is on that list, of course. As are continual moderates like Salazar, Pryor, Nelson of Florida and Carper (senators who are always on the right-wing of their party when it comes to close votes). You've also got Johnson, Landrieu and Nelson of Nebraska, three senators from blood-red states (it might not have been scarlet pre-Katrina, but Louisiana was moving that way - and I think we'll soon see it's firmly red in the wake of the storm). When it comes to national security votes Jay Rockefeller often leans to the right (or to presidential deference), so I guess his vote isn't a total surprise, though it's at least mildly surprising. Finally we come to the votes I don't understand at all. Debbie Stabenow? What's that about? My guess is that her internal polling is weak (she's up for reelection in 5 or 6 weeks), and she's trying to firm up support among the moderates that the president as carefully terrified on the terrorism issue. And I suppose that's also the reason Bob Menendez, the Senate's most endangered Democrat voted the way he did. But Frank Lautenberg? FRANK LAUTENBERG!?! I've only got 3 letters for that - W-T-F? His is the weirdest vote, by far. That'll screw up Poole and Rosenthal.

Oh and a final thought - now aren't you glad Dan Akaka won his primary in Hawaii? We need more people that we can be sure we can count on to vote the right way on votes like this. And lets give a moment to salute the Democrats from red (or at least pink) states who've put themselves at risk of being Max Cleland-ed, but who clearly voted to reaffirm and protect the American way of life - Lincoln, Dorgan and Conrad, Baucus, Bayh, and heck, even ancient Robert C. Byrd.

Posted by armand at 12:06 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Is South Korea Buying the Office of Secretary General?

There's more than a little evidence to suggest that they are.

And the South Korean candidate continues to lead in the straw polls. In yesterday's poll Ban received 13 "encourage votes, 1 "discourage" and 1 "no opinion". India's Sashi Tharoor came in second, again. The next poll is on Monday, and will include color-coded ballots to mark the opinions of the states that have a veto.

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

September 28, 2006


And so, it becomes official: The United States Senate voted the "compromise" detainee bill out this evening. The House of Representatives voted it out previously. It will become law within a matter of days.

The bill establishes a legal foundation for non-judicial trials of "enemy combatants," legally dis-allows the United States from avoiding the prohibitions of the Geneva Conventions, and codifies that enemy combatants cannot challenge their detention or trials in US courts.

The bill (soon to become law) is an abomination.

Perhaps the least offensive part are the procedures for the military tribunals that will soon be underway in Guantanamo (anyone want to lay odds of whether Khalid Sheik Mohammed goes on trial before election?): the procedures used are heaviliy tilted in favor of the government, at the expense of the accused.

While the legislation does codify that the United States cannot avoid the prohibitions of the Geneva Convention, it does allow the President (alone) to interpret the words of the Geneva Convention (meaning Bush can "allow" any procedure he wants), and also (to make matters worse) specifically disallows prosecutions of individuals for any violations of those laws. Thus, if anyone has broken a law by torturing someone, they cannot be arrested, tried or punished for those violations.

The bill also removes habeus corpus; the ability of any detainee or enemy combatant to challenge their detention or trial in the US judicial system. This was done to prevent any of the terrorists from "attacking us through our legal system" as some Senators have claimed would be the result if we didn't take this action. That is a farce. This provision means that any genuinely innocent individual cannot prove that they are innocent; they must show their innocence to a military that thought them guilty enough to capture them in the first place. How likely is that?

Finally, the legislation defines that the President alone has the undisputed, unchallenged, and unappealable right to define any individual as an enemy combatant. This would include US citizens. Thus, for the first time in US history, a law has been passed that would allow the President to throw any person in jail, and keep them there (incommunicado) for the rest of their life. No appeal. No trial. No oversight. No show of evidence. No part of the US justice system involved.

This entire bill is as complete an abomination as I have ever seen pass the US Congress. It perverts just about every right all the US military deaths of the last 217 years were fighting for. It is a travesty of unbelievable proportions, and clearly violates several parts of the US Constitution, as well as both the letter and spirit of the "rule of law" (to say nothing about violating both the letter and spirit of "checks and balances").

My only hope (a forlorn one) is that this represents the nadir of the political backlash following 9/11, and that the country can fight its way clear of this insanity in the next few years. Needless to say, I think history will look back on this leglislation as some of the worst ever passed, and we will be embarrased by it in the same way we are about Japanese internment camps and segregation.

Osama Bin Laden is laughing in his grave or cave (whichever it is).

The fact that the entire "libertarian" wing of the Republican Party didn't collectively walk out today shows that they truely don't know what "libertarian" means.

One of my Senators, Rockefeller, voted for this. I will never vote for him for any elected office, ever.

I can't believe I thought the Patriot Act was as bad as it could get.

Posted by baltar at 11:01 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Snapshot Project

George Takei and Pink are participating in the Snapshot Project, designed to spark conversations about LGBT equality. You can participate too, and upload your photo to the site for Coming Out Day, October 11.

Posted by binky at 10:58 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The "Moderate" Senators from Maine?

Can we please stop calling them that now? Pro-choice doesn't equal "moderate", and except for that issue, how reliably moderate are they? Today Specter and Leahy proposed an amendment to strip the Detainee bill of its provisions that strip away habeas corpus rights. Did the senators from Maine back that - no. Respecting a centuries old tradition that's a bedrock of civil liberties and the US legal system would seem to me to be a prerequisite for being a moderate American politician - I mean what's more American than upholding a central right and our legal system? But the senators from Maine chose not to respect and uphold those all-American traditions.

And why am I harping on those two? Because if they'd voted the moderate, traditionally American way - Specter and Leahy's proposal would have passed. But they didn't, and it failed - 48-51.

Posted by armand at 02:13 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Chief Judge Boggs Knows 1453 Too

The answer to question 56 is 1453, as my trivia buddies know. As to the rest - wow. I think I'd do better on this test than a lot of people, but I really wonder how many of the correct answers are provided by the people Chief Judge Boggs hires as clerks.

Oh, this is a general knowledge test that Danny Boggs, Chief Judge of the US Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, gives to clerkship applicants.

Posted by armand at 01:17 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Paris in Boots

I rarely link to Paris Hilton stories, because they are so easy and common, or to Go Fug Yourself, because it's such a national treasure that you should know to check it every day. That said, how could I not link to this? If you need a laugh today, you really should click that link.

Posted by armand at 12:51 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

This Morning's Comment from the Idiot Grad Students

As some of you are aware, several of the first year grad students are social morons, who also are incredibly dull and tiresome. And they come to class an hour early and talk about the most uninteresting and inappropriate things imagineable - in very loud, distracting voices. You'd think they'd know better, or take clear hints to stop or close the door, but no ... their endless awful, loud chit-chat continues to permeate the hall.

Today's topics and comments have included - is law school like Legally Blonde?, "she had sex with a dog", a mist-deep discussion of graduation speeches, and talk about whether or not you'd be a good heroin addict (which apparently depends on whether or not you are afraid of needles!).

What is with these people?

Posted by armand at 09:18 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Lefties worse than McVeigh?

No? So then why is the left fringe, but not right, mentioned specifically in the NIE?

The recently declassified NIE report on terrorism contains an interesting paragraph:

"Anti-U.S. and anti-globalization sentiment is on the rise and fueling other radical ideologies. This could prompt some leftist, nationalist, or separatist groups to adopt terrorist methods to attack US interests. The radicalization process is occurring more quickly, more widely, and more anonymously in the Internet age, raising the likelihood of surprise attacks by unknown groups whose members and supporters may be difficult to pinpoint." It continues: "We judge that groups of all stripes will increasingly use the Internet to communicate, propagandize, recruit, train and obtain logistical and financial support."

As Glenn Greenwald points out, the report says nothing about right-wing terrorist groups (remember Timothy McVeigh?).

Why does this matter? Because of this:

That this claim about "leftist" terrorist groups made it into the NIE summary is particularly significant in light of the torture and detention bill that is likely soon to be enacted into law. That bill defines "enemy combatant" very broadly (and the definition may be even broader by the time it is enacted) and could easily encompass domestic groups perceived by the administration to be supporting a "terrorist agenda."

Combine this with the disappearance of habeas corpus and you would have the beginnings of a police state. It is very important to understand how individuals are defined as "enemy combatants" in the proposed bill and to make certain that this definition isn't general enough to allow almost anyone to be caught in the net and then "disappeared". Even if the government wouldn't do such a thing, what safeguards do we have against individuals working in the system committing just such acts against their own private enemies?
Here are the House votes on the bill.

Now there's a depressing way to start the day. I'm going back to my previous post.

Posted by binky at 07:26 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Back From the Dead!

Radio Indie Rock, or at least a version of it, has been resurrected. DJs Steven and Schroeder have started streams at Live365.

Go. Listen. Now.

Long live Radio Indie Rock. Viva! Viva!

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

September 27, 2006

Your 2008 Summer Travel Plans ...

... may have just become clearer. Apparently the Republicans have decided to hold their presidential nominating convention that year in the Twin Cities. Minneapolis/St. Paul had been a leading candidate to host the Democratic convention that year as well, but now that won't happen. So it looks like the Democrats are now faced with a choice of either New York or Denver.

Posted by armand at 03:15 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 26, 2006

Beyond Guilty Pleasures

Bands. Bands you don't want to like. Bands you actively try not to like. Bands for whom you can come up with a list of reasons not to like, starting with pretentious and running all the way to melodramatic and back to really bad hair by way of cliche videos. Bands you somehow can't banish.

Not that I know any bands like this. Nope. Not me.

Posted by binky at 11:33 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

This is the kind of thing that stirs my inner libertarian

...or is that just my bullshit-o-meter going off?

The city health department unveiled a proposal Tuesday that would bar cooks at any of the city's 24,600 food service establishments from using ingredients that contain the artery-clogging substance, commonly listed on food labels as partially hydrogenated oil.

Artificial trans fats are found in some shortenings, margarine and frying oils and turn up in foods from pie crusts to french fries to doughnuts.

Doctors agree that trans fats are unhealthy in nearly any amount, but a spokesman for the restaurant industry said he was stunned the city would seek to ban a legal ingredient found in millions of American kitchens.

"Labeling is one thing, but when they totally ban a product, it goes well beyond what we think is prudent and acceptable," said Chuck Hunt, executive vice president of the city's chapter of the New York State Restaurant Association.

He said the proposal could create havoc: Cooks would be forced to discard old recipes and scrutinize every ingredient in their pantry. A restaurant could face a fine if an inspector finds the wrong type of vegetable shortening on its shelves.

The proposal also would create a huge problem for national chains. Among the fast foods that would need to get an overhaul or face a ban: McDonald's french fries, Kentucky Fried Chicken and several varieties of Dunkin' Donuts.

First they take the coconut palm oil (and feast your eyes on this for a view of some mouthwatering heart stopping deliciousness) and now they're going after our donuts and french fries?

Could this be the end for my new favorite food of the gods?

Posted by binky at 08:52 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

NIE online

Excerpts here and a link to the PDF file.

Posted by binky at 08:34 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Politicizing Science Again (and Again)

From Crooks and Liars a link to this:

The Bush administration has blocked release of a report that suggests global warming is contributing to the frequency and strength of hurricanes, the journal Nature reported Tuesday.

Well kiss my grits! I can't hardly believe it!

In May, when the report was expected to be released, panel chair Ants Leetmaa received an e-mail from a Commerce official saying the report needed to be made less technical and was not to be released, Nature reported.

"Less technical." You know, like, with fewer, oh, what do you call those... facts? conclusions?

NOAA Administrator Conrad Lautenbacher is currently out of the country, but Nature quoted him as saying the report was merely an internal document and could not be released because the agency could not take an official position on the issue.

However, the journal said in its online report that the study was merely a discussion of the current state of hurricane science and did not contain any policy or position statements.

The report drew a prompt response from Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg (news, bio, voting record), D-N.J., who charged that "the administration has effectively declared war on science and truth to advance its anti-environment agenda ... the Bush administration continues to censor scientists who have documented the current impacts of global warming."

Because if we don't admit conditions are contributing to stronger hurricanes, then they won't happen, right?

Posted by binky at 08:06 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

So who's the [edit]bitch[/edit] here?

I vote for the record store exec (emphasis mine):

"I complained at the NARM [the National Association of Recording Merchandisers] convention that [For Your Entertainment's] record prices were too high," Shears told MTV News over the weekend at Baltimore's Virgin Festival. "A few months ago, I went to go buy the new Raconteurs album, and it was like $18.99. Of course, I rounded it up to $20 when I made the comments, and now they're denying it. They said, 'Our records are not $20, they're $19.99.' And so now they're not carrying our new record. I mean, even Wal-Mart is carrying it, but FYE is not."

But Shears is only partially accurate, because FYE isn't the only chain that won't be carrying the New York band's Ta-Dah — neither will Sam Goody, Strawberries, Wherehouse, Specs or Coconuts. Like FYE, those chains are owned by Trans World Entertainment, an Albany, New York, entertainment conglomerate that is one of the largest retailers of music, video and video games in the U.S.

According to Trans World President and CEO Jim Litwak, his company was just expressing its displeasure at Shears' comments, which he said were untrue and unfair. And furthermore, he said the whole situation could've been avoided had the band bothered to pick up the phone and call him.

[ed note: oh boo fucking hoo hoo hoo]

"Mr. Shears said that he tried to buy a Raconteurs album but didn't because it was too expensive," Litwak told MTV News. "But he didn't bring it up to register, because if he did, he would've seen that the CD was on sale.

"So Mr. Shears made an incorrect statement at a convention instead of reaching out to us, to discuss our pricing," Litwak continued. "We decided that it would've been nice to get an apology from them, so we reached out to their distribution company [Universal Music Group Distribution] to let them know we were displeased, and we never heard back from them. So we made the decision not to carry the band's new release."

Waaaah! That mean mean singer hurt our fee fees!

Posted by binky at 07:31 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

Insert Your Own Condi-Lies-A Rice Headline Here

Not content with merely being the worst National Security Advisor in years (well that certainly should be her reputation, but like John McCain, she gets fawning press coverage no matter what she actually does), she's decided to once again try to compete for the prize of biggest liar in Washington.

"What we did in the eight months was at least as aggressive as what the Clinton administration did in the preceding years," Rice added.

Now at this point in the story a serious journalist would point out the history, and give the readers some facts about what Bush and Clinton did. Sadly, Condi had agreed to an exclusive with the New York Post, so ... well, actually being called out on her ridiculous ass-covering lie was never in the cards in this interview. But it would be nice if we lived in a press world where this kind of thing wasn't allowed to go unchallenged.

UPDATE: Sorry, forgot to add the link.

Posted by armand at 02:34 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

September 25, 2006

Did you know...

...that there is a town called "Truth or Consequences" NM?

Posted by binky at 11:40 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

What the Hell is Wrong With Newsweek?

This is wrong on multiple levels. I mean if the title of your rag has news in the title, shouldn't you put a news story on the cover? And if the point is to raise more cash (the point of most media outfits) - isn't a cover with scary words, a dark-skinned guy and a rocket going to sell better? I mean outside of mostly coastal or artist elites, do many people even know who Annie is? If they don't, why would they buy this, and if they do ... well even among those sets, isn't she basically like three day old fish at this point?

Oh and yeah, in terms of what's good for creating an informed society ... well, clearly Newsweek isn't interested in helping that along in the US.

Posted by armand at 12:19 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Your Liberal Media

Afghan women's affairs chief dead (credited to Reuters):

Gunmen riding motorcycles shot dead the head of a women's department in the southern Afghan province of Kandahar on Monday, a security official and a relative said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the shooting of Safia Ama Jan. Taliban insurgents have killed numerous government officials as part of their war against the government and foreign forces supporting it.

Ama Jan was on her way to work, getting into a car outside her house, when the gunmen struck, said her nephew, who identified himself as just Farhad.

"She died on the spot," he told reporters.

Farhad declined to speculate on the identity or motive of the gunmen, except to say: "We had no personal enmity with anyone."

Ama Jan had served as the head of the province's women's affairs department since shortly after U.S.-led troops overthrew the Taliban in 2001.

A security official said no arrests had been made and an investigation had been launched.

Kandahar was the Taliban's main bastion of support during the 1990s when the militia emerged from Islamic schools on the Pakistani border and swept to power in Kabul.

The province is at the heart of an increasingly vicious Taliban insurgency.

Their liberal media: Afghan women's official shot dead

A leading Afghan official working on women's rights has been shot dead in the southern province of Kandahar.

Safia Amajan, head of the province's women's department, was leaving her home for work when a gunman on a motorcycle opened fire, police said.

She may have been targeted by Taleban militants because of their opposition to women taking part in politics and education, the BBC's Dan Isaacs says.

Hundreds have died in clashes between troops and Taleban fighters this year.

Nato-led forces have been battling a resurgent Taleban militia, with some of the fiercest fighting taking place in the south of the country.

Nobody has claimed responsibility for the attack on Safia Amajan.

She had served as head of women's affairs in Kandahar's provincial government since the Taleban government was toppled by US-led forces in 2001.

In her speeches, she had openly condemned the Taleban for their treatment of women.

Her requests for secure official transport and personal bodyguards had not been granted by the government.

At the time of the attack, she was travelling in a taxi.

A spokesman for the UN agency overseeing development in Afghanistan condemned the "senseless murder of a woman who was simply working to ensure that all Afghan women play a full and equal part in the future of Afghanistan".

A little different, eh? Even looking past the idea of quoting UN officials.

Posted by binky at 09:25 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

September 24, 2006


It really depresses me sometimes, that with shit like this , I'm really glad that every day brings me closer to menopause. If my mom is any guide to the timeline, unfortunately, I've got about 20 more years of menstruation to worry about.

Emboldened by the anti-abortion movement's success in restricting access to abortion, an increasingly vocal group of Christian conservatives is arguing that it's time to mount a concerted attack on contraception.

Their voices were raised in Rosemont on Friday and Saturday at an unusual anti-abortion meeting that drew 250 people from around the nation to condemn artificial birth control. Experts at the gathering assailed contraception on the grounds that it devalues children, harms relationships between men and women, promotes sexual promiscuity and leads to falling birth rates, among social ills.

"Contraception is more the root cause of abortion than anything else," Joseph Scheidler, an anti-abortion veteran whose Pro-Life Action League sponsored the conference, said in an interview.


"It is clear there is a major rethinking going on among evangelicals on this issue, especially among young people" disenchanted with the sexual revolution, said Rev. R. Albert Mohler, Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. "There is a real push back against the contraceptive culture now."

Whether or not Mohler is right about young people, the sympathetic sentiments of a key leader in the nation's largest Protestant denomination adds fuel to the debate.

"It's always been a touchy subject, but you have to stand strong on your beliefs. Contraception is the root cause of the explosion of the amount of abortions in the world," Mazur said.

OK, let's review that one for a second. Contraception is the root cause of the explosion of the amount of abortions in the world. Oooo-kay. Maybe on planet "Stick my fingers in my ears and sing la la la la la" it is.

"It's new to some aspects of the pro-life world, and it's old news in other parts of the pro-life world. It's just beginning to be embraced more fully by the whole pro-life world," said Mary Turner, 42, of La Crosse, Wis.

That possibility alarms abortion-rights advocates, who warn that birth control, taken for granted by millions of women, could become a battleground.

"You would think that the pro-life community would agree that the best way to reduce abortion is to reduce unintended pregnancies, and the best way to do that is make sure contraception is widely available," said Larry Finer of the Guttmacher Institute, a public policy group.

"But clearly, that is not the case. Instead, we see groups extending their traditional position on abortion into the realm of contraception."

Yes, but this requires us to make the assumption that they really care about reducing unintended pregnancies. That's not what they want. They want to create the reproductive version of the New Socialist Man, but she's a Reproductionist Woman.

It's the difference between good old fashioned authoritarianism and totalitarianism. Thugs generally don't care so much what you do with your own life, especially in private, as long as it doesn't get in their way, and doesn't impede the cash flow they plan to use on their villa in the French Riviera. For the totalitarians, especially the communists, that's not good enough. Not only do they want you to not get in their way, they want you to help with their program... to join up. And even worse, they want you, need for you, to believe what they believe. Or at least do an outstanding job pretending that you do. And if they can't make you, well, they can at least beat you down so hard that you don't have time to worry about your beliefs, because they've manipulated the system and forced you into a de facto adoption of their behaviors.

And the first ones to be brought on board are those without the resources to flee, find other routes, or "corrupt" the zealots behind the scenes.

Unlike abortion, birth control is part of the daily lives of most women of childbearing age in America. A stunning 98 percent of women 15 to 44 who have had sex report using at least one method of contraception; almost 40 million women of that age use birth control, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

Meanwhile, 91 percent of Americans agreed that couples should "have access to birth-control options" in a new Harris Interactive poll of 1,001 likely voters, conducted in July.

"You're going to tell women they can't try to prevent unwanted pregnancies, they can't take steps to make sure they're economically and emotionally ready to have a child? No way," said Kirsten Moore, president of the Reproductive Health Technologies Project.

What's more likely, experts suggest, is an ongoing "chipping away" at access to contraceptive services. This could entail cuts to federal programs that pay for birth control.

That's right, the poor women who already receive so much compassionate care and attention from the dogmatists are going to be the first to lose access. Like the low income and rural women who have already lost access to abortion, and are unable to access emergency contraception already.

Likely it also would involve a state-by-state push to allow pharmacists to refuse to fill birth-control prescriptions for reasons of "conscience."

Rev. Thomas Euteneuer, president of Human Life International, opened Saturday's session with a clear tactical agenda for the budding movement: "It's time to get serious about denying Planned Parenthood funding for birth control or sex education and abortion. We need to hold them accountable for this contraceptive welfare. We have to work very carefully to keep that sword away from Planned Parenthood."

Euteneuer believes a single argument holds the greatest potential for changing how the anti-abortion community thinks about birth control.

"Chemical contraception doesn't prevent abortions, it causes abortion," he said in an interview. "If we believe life begins at the moment of conception, we have to defend it against [this] chemical attack."

And it sounds like they believe conception happens at the moment of ejaculation. You know what's next on the hit list then, don't you? Teh Masturbation!

Euteneuer was referring to the possibility that hormonal birth control, including the pill, the patch, injections and some IUDs, might prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in a womb. Scientific evidence suggests that this occurs infrequently, if at all, and that birth control works primarily by preventing a woman from ovulating.

But there is no way to prove that interference with implantation doesn't occur, which disturbs anti-abortion supporters.

"We can't say it's true, and we can't say it's not true, because there is no test for fertilization" and therefore no opportunity to study the question in humans, said James Trussell, director of Princeton University's Office of Population Research.

Another line of argument against contraception, that it harms relationships between men and women, is advanced by Janet Smith, professor of moral theology at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit.

"When people use contraception, they're not asking themselves, do I want a lifetime relationship with this person or would this person be a good parent," Smith explains. "They're simply hooking up, typically because of sex, and sliding into marriage."

The result, Smith says, is disappointment and divorce.

Which is never the result for people who were virgins until marriage, who married for lifetime commitment, or who have so many children they can barely feed them. No, never any disappointment there.

Damon Clarke Owens, another speaker and president of New Jersey Natural Family Planning, believes contraception changes sex from a "unconditional gift of self" to a conditional act that turns away from "God's gift of children."

"If the sex act has nothing to do with a child, then what happens if contraception fails?" he asked. "Abortion becomes a backup for failed contraception, another way of getting rid of the unwanted and devalued child."


But Scheidler is anxious to take advantage of the anti-abortion movement's successes.

"We've been trained to steer clear of discussing contraception, as if it were a distraction," he said. "I'm tired of this `Don't get off the subject' mentality. Contraception is the subject."

"It's not just a side issue from pro-life, it's the core issue," Libby Gray Macke, director of Project Reality, an abstinence program in Illinois, told the crowd Friday evening. "Abstinence is the way to prevent abortion."

"Abstinence is the way to prevent abortion." Except that it's not. And never has been. And never will be. Going back to planet "Stick my fingers in my ears and sing la la la la la" might help with the self-delusion, but it's not going to make abstinence effective.

Not that reality is any obstacle to the truly delusional, or more likely in this case, the dogmatic totalitarians. If they won't join you, beat 'em.


Posted by binky at 11:47 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Who Brings a Smile to Mitch McConnell's Face?

Tom Kean, Jr.

I've always understood why Gov. Corzine thought he had to name Bob Menendez to fill his Senate seat, but I've also always thought it was a disasterous choice. In the latest poll Senator Menendez has a mere 38% support, to 44% for son of Kean. Even as unexpected chances for Democratic pick-ups emerge and strengthen in other Senate races, Bob Menendez's weaknesses make it harder to think that the Democrats have any shot at winning control of the US Senate. And if they don't, they'll have to face a much more wily and skilled leader in Mitch McConnell who will be a much tougher foe than the hapless Bill Frist.

Posted by armand at 09:16 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Fashion, Style, Trends, Fads

The NYT has a story about how midcentury modern is on the way out, partly due to pricing soaring into oblivion and the resulting scarcity of pieces, and partly because the resurgence has simply run its course. You can look at that as good news or bad, depending on your appreciation for modern design.

The prediction of the coming trend, and especially the accompanying photos, look like bad news to me. The text talks about Chinese influenced design, but also the nineteenth century and the turn to the twentieth. The photos are of art nouveau furniture, and the prediction is of the coming popularity of the period.

Art nouveau has always been my favorite. Sure, I can appreciate other things, but I love the organic flow of art nouveau, especially the furniture and decorative trimwork in interior spaces. At the National Museum of History in Rio, I used to go look at the collection of art nouveau furniture, and gaze longingly at the vitrines.

So why bad news? At first it won't be so bad, because all of a sudden, things I like will be "in" which means increased visibility. It might even mean design touches will start showing up in everyday new items. Which is all well and good, I suppose. Except that will also mean saturation. Or worse, maladaptation. And with popularity comes expense. Which makes me think about that sofa I need to get recovered, and how much more it will cost (if I can afford it at all).

So much for just being out of step with fashion, in obscurity.

Posted by binky at 12:34 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

David Broder Is Unhinged

Again I say, put the old fart out of his misery. His last column extolling the rise of a supposed independence movement in Washington was inane. Today's just might be worse. Just were exactly is there any evidence for what Broder's talking about? And even if there was evidence for it - why is that necessarily such a good thing? The man apparently loathes partisanship, but loves Washington and US history - a very peculiar combination (to put it mildly) since Washington has worked according to the politics of faction since the days of Hamilton and Jefferson. And this movement that he sees away from that ... well it flies in the face of over a decade of scholarship in political science showing that the country is getting more polarized and partisan. In other words, Mr. Broder has left the reality-based community. Now if only he'd leave the Washington Post.

Posted by armand at 11:05 AM | Comments (14) | TrackBack

Why The Democrats Will Lose Seats In This November's Elections.*

(* And If They Don't, Why They Deserve To.)

Dear Democratic Party,

We (the country) recently had an interesting debate about torture. It was called something besides torture (stress positions, "cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment", whatever the hell the latest buzzwords are), but that's what it is. I'm against it, though that isn't relevant to this post.

On one side of this debate was the President. His position has been manifestly clear for several years now: in order to win this war, he have to have as much discretion as he needs to do whatever is necessary to defeat the evildoers (note: this position is applicable not only to torture, or the War On Terror directly, but also, it seems, to all foreign and domestic policy; that, too, is a debate for another day). Thus, the President wanted Congress to pass legislation that would allow him greater latitude to do what he considers necessary (i.e., torture) and those that he ordered to do this would be legally absolved of their acts. As it stands, the US is a signatory to the Geneva Conventions, and that international treaty (which, once we signed it, has the force of law for us) forbids treatment that is torture, and like torture. The President, seeing that the US Supreme Court was disagreeing with him on a few terrorism related issues, wanted to be safely within the law. Thus, he requested that Congress pass a bill legalizing all the things he wanted to do; torture, military tribunals, etc.

The House was fine with this. The House has been useless for a few years now (arguably, 1994; but I digress), so this wasn't a surprise. The Senate, however, showed signs of life. A few Senators querulously put their hands up and asked if granting more-or-less unlimited power to the executive might not be bad for the Constitution (not to mention the poor bastards we hold as "enemy combatants"). Thus, they asked, might it be possible for the President to, oh, actually not torture people (as the rest of the civilized world does - and, yes, I know that's a loaded term), and, maybe, when trying the enemy combatants, could they at least hear the evidence against them, as opposed to being told "You're guilty, but we can't tell you why." (It should be noted that both side agreed that no actual judge should have any say what so ever in this legal proceding, and the resulting law codifies that position.) Bush and the Senate did a few rounds, and the resulting "compromise" at least allows the accused to know what evidence is being used against them (though, for reasons of national security, they can't know precisely who has given evidence against them, which tends to cut down on rebuttal witnesses and cross-examination). The compromise, however, does nothing to prevent torture. The President agreed that the US wouldn't actually reject the Geneva Conventions, while the Senate agreed that the President alone gets to define the words in the treaty any way he wants, and no other branch of government can review the President's interpretation. And everyone goes home happy. (The compromise is horrible; that too, isn't the point.)

Notice that in this whole recitation I never used the word "Democrat." Not once. NOT ONCE. What the flying fuck is up with the party that represents (last time we polled) about 49.7% of the electorate? You might think you folks would have a position on TORTURE. You might think that six weeks before a national election, when the President and (only) Republican Senators are busy scribbling over Rousseau and Locke with crayons, that the party that took us through World War I (Wilson), the Great Depression (Roosevelt), World War II (Roosevelt), the important part of Korea (Truman), and Vietnam (Kennedy/Johnson) might fucking have something to say about a bill to allow the US to torture people. Oh, yeah, and the party of the fucking Civil Rights Movement. The party used to have standards and ideals. Hell, a few weeks ago I even figured you would at least want to get back in power (at least, Dean, Reid and Pelosi keep claiming that). Now, eh, not so much.

Look, you cocksucking fucking assholes: have a god damned position on torture (I suggest: against). Just get a fucking position. I suspect that, whatever position you take, it will be better than the Presidents (reminder: pro-torture). Hell, if you make the position public, then maybe the KlownKlub wing of the Republican Senate might actually come and talk to you (we know Bush won't). Hell, even if they ignore you, the fucking media will likely cover it, which is FREE ADVERTISING SIX WEEKS BEFORE AN ELECTION. It never hurts to remind the voters that you are there, and they do have the choice to vote for you. As it stands now:

President's Position: Torture.

"Maverick" Senate Republican Position: Oh, OK, still torture.

Democratic Position: (sound of a dead fish).

Is this starting to get through to you? You are a national party. You are running to take back one or both houses of Congress. Assuming you do, you'll be expected to have positions on issues ('cause, you remember, that's what the majority does. Go dredge up Tip O'Neils animated corpse and ask him for a refresher). You could start practicing, oh, say, NOW. That way, you'll actually have something to say if you are in charge in January (fat chance).

I realize, Democrats, that you are nervous about having a position on anything. If you have a position, you think to yourself (you can't say anything outloud, 'cause then it might be construed as an actual position, so you talk to yourself in your head often), "If we have a position, then the Republicans can criticize it." This is, unfortunately, true. However, THEY WILL CRITICIZE YOU ANYWAY. THAT'S WHAT THEY DO. IF YOU DON'T TAKE A POSITION, THEY WILL ASSIGN YOU ONE, AND, HEY, GUESS WHAT, IT WILL BE A LOUSY ONE. Like, "Democrats are pro-terrorism." That's a lousy position. You don't want to be associated with that one. Or, "Democrats are weak on national security." That's a really fucking lousy one. You don't want that either. Or, hey, maybe the Republicans will assign both of them to you. See, if you don't have your own position, then they get to give you one. Thus, a position is a good thing. It at least cuts down the odds that whatever position you defend, it won't be a for-sure loser ("Democrats support cutting and running from Iraq," - another loser position, for example).

The really great thing, is that it actually doesn't really matter what position you take. Bush has this strange power, that whatever position he takes, it sucks. No matter what. Name one thing he's done that's gone right (there might be something back in 2000, but that's far enough back that no one can remember). You can't. So no matter what your position it, it will be better than his.

I really thought you had a chance here on the torture thing. I mean, come on, who is in favor of torture? Sure, sure, we get bent out of shape over 9/11, but it's been five years. Go pay Maher Arar a bunch of money, stick him in front of a camera, and let him explain what the Syrians did to him for a year. Then do a voice over, explaining that he is innocent, and that the idiot Republicans turned him over to the Syrians (the same Syrians who are busy shoveling money, guns and explosives over the border into Iraq, which are used to blow up American soldiers). You could conclude the ad by wondering out loud why the Republicans are Pro-Syria (hey, that way YOU could assign THEM a lousy position). Or maybe you could pay Mr. Khan to explain what he went through at Guantanamo Bay for the last three years. He looks like an Islamic Santa Claus, for Christ's sake (a fucking crippled Islamic Santa Claus, to boot). We held him for three and a half years, then released him with no warning (what, he just suddenly stopped being dangerous one day?). HE FUCKING HAD A STROKE FIFTEEN YEARS AGO. Stick him in front of a camera. Explain that not once in the three plus years that he was held did he get a chance to sit in anything resembling a courtroom and try to explain to an impartial judge that he wasn't guilty. He never got to explain his side because the US never presented their side, because there isn't any courtroom. This is justice?, the voice-over can say.

(I realize we're treading dangerously close to an actual Position here, but you could advocate that if you are ever put back in power that you will immediately send legislation to the President calling for a complete review of every case in Guantanamo: if they are guilty, you want them tried immediately and the maximum penalty for their crimes sought. If they are innocent, then they should be immediately freed. As part of the legislation, you could argue that by the time three and half years had gone by in World War II (under a Democrat, by the way - you could work that in), we had utterly defeated both Germany and Japan. Five years into the War On Terror, we haven't even tried the people we pretty much know are guilty. How hard can it be to run a couple of trials, if we were able to beat the snot out of two major powers? See, you would have a position (pro-justice for bad guys), and make the Republicans look bad.)

Now, I'll grant you the Iraq thing is complicated. If we stay, we lose more soldiers (but the country avoids completely falling apart); if we withdraw, we don't lose soldiers (but Al Qaeda claims a victory, Iraq collapses into a civil war, Iran extends their influence, and Saudi Arabia edges towards being destabilized). It's tricky. There are no easy answers here (there were easier answers a few years ago, but you idiots fucked up those elections, so here we are). However, once again, you need some sort of position. Once again, though, whatever position you pick (leave soon versus pour more resources in) is guaranteed to be better than Bush's position (don't change anything). We know that isn't working. Remember: if you avoid taking a position, you will be assigned one by Karl Rove, and you won't like it.

I'm about done. I don't think you have enough time before the elections to salvage this, but, hey, that's just my opinion. I think you've managed to come across as useless assholes. In a comparison between useless assholes and a retarded kid with a god-complex, you'll lose. If you win, it will only be by the grace of God and some fairly stiff hatred of Republicans by most of the country. The polls look good for you on that. However, how the fuck are you going to govern, after winning on a "we're not them" platform? Moreover, if you DO win something, you do realize that Rove/Bush are going to immediately blame you for everything. At that point, you will actually have some power, and the Republicans are going to line up around the block at Fox news to point out that everything that goes wrong is your fault for not fixing it first. Again, if you fail to have a position, they will assign you one.

One last thing: if you do take the House or the Senate, whomever is running for Prez in '08 as a Democrat is going to be defending your record (Rove will ensure that). Thus, the more you fuck around, the harder it's going to be for you in '08. And if you fuck up '08, we've probably got another 8 years of Republicans setting everything they touch on fire. In short: stop fucking around.

However, based on this latest farce, I don't think you have too much to worry about. I think the Republicans won't lose too many seats, if any. I think you've fucked yourself enough times over the past six years that one more will just seem natural. Moreover, it's easier to be an out-of-power opposition party. No worries, no responsibilities. Just show up at the networks, get your makeup done, bitch about the (actually) awful things the Republicans are doing, then go home and relax. You've got no authority, no power, and no worries.

Keep thinking that, sport; it'll make the next two years pass much easier.



Posted by baltar at 12:11 AM | Comments (19) | TrackBack

September 23, 2006

Rainy Saturday Quiz for the Home Team

Modern, Cool Nerd
86 % Nerd, 52% Geek, 47% Dork
For The Record:

A Nerd is someone who is passionate about learning/being smart/academia.
A Geek is someone who is passionate about some particular area or subject, often an obscure or difficult one.
A Dork is someone who has difficulty with common social expectations/interactions.
You scored better than half in Nerd and Geek, earning you the title of: Modern, Cool Nerd.

Nerds didn't use to be cool, but in the 90's that all changed. It used to be that, if you were a computer expert, you had to wear plaid or a pocket protector or suspenders or something that announced to the world that you couldn't quite fit in. Not anymore. Now, the intelligent and geeky have eked out for themselves a modicum of respect at the very least, and "geek is chic." The Modern, Cool Nerd is intelligent, knowledgable and always the person to call in a crisis (needing computer advice/an arcane bit of trivia knowledge). They are the one you want as your lifeline in Who Wants to Be a Millionaire (or the one up there, winning the million bucks)!


Thanks Again! -- THE NERD? GEEK? OR DORK? TEST

My test tracked 3 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 99% on nerdiness
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 99% on geekosity
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 99% on dork points
Link: The Nerd? Geek? or Dork? Test written by donathos on OkCupid, home of the The Dating Persona Test

Found at the PunkAssBlog.

Posted by binky at 12:11 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Will Kinky's Race "Jokes" Shake Up the Race in Texas?

Charles notes that there seems every reason to think he might lose some progressive and minority support to Chris Bell, but he might pick up a little Anglo support from Rick Perry. If that happens, we're going to finally see a tighter race for governor of Texas.

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


The topic of white privilege and male privilege are subjects that most of us have heard about while reading in the left blogosphere.

This morning I read an article at CNN about the indignation of the creators of Veggie Tales when they found that their product had been edited for television.

But now that the vegetable stars have hit network television, they cannot speak as freely as they once did, and that has got the Parents Television Council steamed.

The conservative media-watchdog group issued a statement Wednesday blasting NBC, which airs "VeggieTales," for editing out some references to God from the children's animated show.

"What struck me and continues to strike me is the inanity of ripping the heart and soul out of a successful product and not thinking that there will be consequences to it," said L. Brent Bozell, president of the Parents Television Council. "The series is successful because of its biblical world view, not in spite of it.

This cry of censorship from an organization that the Cato Institute called "relentless censorship advocates" rings a bit hollow. Of course it is easy to shout back "Hypocrites!" but it might be more accurate to think about the blindness of religious privilege.

It's not as common to find discussions of religious (and in this society, that means Christian) privilege as it is for those about race or gender. Lo and behold, someone has made a Christian privilege checklist. I think some of the items are debatable, but in general it captures the way that being on top, the most accepted, and not subject to the kind of restriction that those same people on top would apply to others is taken for granted. Austin Cline did an piece on religious privilege for their atheism section, and it's not a deep thinking kind of article (it is after all) but he does get this part:

Most "battles" in the Christian Right's so-called Culture Wars can be best understood if seen, at least in part, as attempts to reassert and enforce Christian privilege in modern society. One of the hallmarks of modernity has been the rooting out of various forms of illegitimate privilege, with Christian and religious privilege being among the last.


A common defense of Christian privilege is the idea that Christians are a majority, and in a democracy, the majority rules. If Christians want to shape legal, political, and cultural institutions to express their religious values and to privilege both Christianity, that's what being a Christian Nation is all about. In a liberal democracy, however, the rights and equality of all are protected. Christians can no more vote to privilege Christianity than whites can vote to privilege their race.

Of course what I was thinking while reading the CNN story was how privilege has blinded them to the Golden Rule and Proverbs 16-18: Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.

Posted by binky at 07:53 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 22, 2006

Too Much Time on Your Hands?

Not anymore.

Blame Pandagon for finding the seal generator..


Posted by binky at 10:06 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Struggle for an Excerpt

There were so many, it was hard to pick only one.

Last shift I worked. This is a crazy story, but it happens almost every day now. This psychiatric stuff, people going crazy. I had a man…police had a man who had knife in his hand for whatever reason. They were called to the scene. They started chasing him. He ran away, and as he's running away he starts stabbing himself. He stabbed himself in his neck, in his chest, he stabbed himself in his leg three times, he cut both of his wrists, he stabbed his hands. And then he proceeded to run head-on into oncoming traffic and got hit by a car doing about fifty.


You know, stuff like that did not happen before Katrina. Well, every once in a while stuff like that would happen, but it's just…the stress, the stress level is so high that people snap. A lot of people snapping and doing things they wouldn't normally do. A lot of craziness.

From the Media Bloodhound interview with Ben Marble, the ER doctor who told Dick Cheney to go fuck himself in Mississippi. It's long, but a gripping interview. And he's got a sense of humor... check out the comment he posted at the end of the interview. Hat tip to Crooks and Liars.

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

John McCain Has a Spine of Jelly?

Agree or disagree? It does appear that the supposed Republican rebels folded without being all that rebelious - at least on some supposedly key points.

And on the first point highlighted in the Publius post, well I've got to say I think it's more evidence that our president is a really belligerent coward. I'm not sure if higher ups might not still be (potentially) found at fault given the word "conspires" in that highlighted phrase - but given the placement of the commas, I bet they wouldn't be. And I've got to say on behalf of the people who are NOT carrying out "torture" (wink, wink) on behalf of the American government, Mr. President, if you are going to still leave the door still ajar (if only slightly so) to them being prosecuted for doing their job - you really ought to leave open the door to prosecute people who give the orders to engage in this program which you've called the most vital tool the country has to protect Americans (and 1) how fucked up is that? and 2) how deluded is the president? on second thought, don't answer that ...). To blame the people who engage in not-torture, when it's you and your cronies who are forcing them to do the not-torture ... yet again your love of your cronies and your opposition to personal accountability (when it comes to your friends) is crystal clear.

Posted by armand at 11:22 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 21, 2006

Why Hasn't Lynette Scavo Been Hit By a Bus?

I am now finally all but 2 episodes from the end of season 2 of Desperate Housewives. And I've got to concur with what I take to be the general opinion - it's not nearly as good as season 1. I mean, multiple characters deciding that the best way to get over their problems is murder? Susan cooking up two kooky insurance fraud schemes within about a half dozen episodes of each other? Susan endlessly engaging in every funny, nice-girl tv/movie cliche imagineable (writing a letter that cotains a deep dark secret, then putting it in the US mail - though it was going down the block - and then conspiring to get it back from the postman ...)? Bree, so often weak? I could go on ... and on and on and on ... but I'll spare you. The season's not been a total loss - Gabby's had some good moments and the Bree vs. Andrew battles have been fun, but all in all it's definitely lacked the spirit of Season 1.

And of course the most irritating thing about the show remains alive and well - Ms. Huffman's character Lynette Scavo. Look up harridan in the dictionary and you'll see Lynette. She's petty. Judgemental. Controling. EVERYTHING must always be her way, including what anyone else may do or thing - all the time. She's smug, manipulative (in appalling and boring ways), and all and all despicable, really. But she's continually written like she's some sort of put upon, misunderstood, unappreciated victim when she's really not remotely likeable or admirable in any way. And in the last episode I watched the writers have had the nerve to make her the victim of a cheating spouse. They have to stoop low - really low at this point - to make me even start to have any sympathy for her. And writers, fyi, that's not nearly low enough. Gotta say, I think Mike could do vastly better so I hope they stay split up (though with him on the show - he's one of the better things about season 2). And I'd love to see her have to squirm through life as a single. No one would ever meet her preposterous and tiresome personal standards. And seeing her go through disappointment after disappointment week after week - well that might actually be a little fun to watch. But personally, I think I'm too tired of her to even enjoy that (much), so I really wish she'd be hit by a speeding bus or maybe some toliet seat flying in from space at a deadly speed.

Posted by armand at 09:12 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Ha Ha Funny, or Funny Funny, You make the call

Whilst checking out my wireless connection during a momentary power fluctuation, I noted that one of my neighbors has named his/her network "Rim Jobs Anonymous."

Posted by binky at 01:55 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Shoot Him Now! Shoot Him Now!

Yep, who but David Broder can bring out the full Daffy Duck side to my personality. I'd rather read Malkin's work (illogical is at least perplexing which will likely lead to one or two brain cells firing; insipid is just boring, predictable and groan-worthy).

He sees in Senators Warner, McCain and Graham the growth of a new "independence party", a party that will stand up for the Declaration of independence's ideas. What. A. Low. Bar. Not standing up for the Declaration mind you - but standing up to upholding US treaties, US laws and a recent Supreme Court opinion. Such bravery! Such boldness! So much to admire! And who is in this party that's taken the bold step of arguing for upholding Supreme Court opinions, US law and opposing torture (apparently respecting habeas corpus is no longer something the Declaration stands for, b/c these guys don't seem to value that)? Why it's those three GOP senators, Mayor Bloomberg, Colin Powell, Joe Lieberman and Mike DeWine. Yes, apparently Democrats, all Democrats (every single Democrat in the Senate stands for these) don't merit including in this bold new party that respects what the country stands for. Why? Well maybe it has something to do with the fact that Broder admits to personally disliking know-it-alls like John Kerry and Al Gore. Hmmm, so he doesn't like know-it-alls but he's got a hard-on for men who want to trash habeas corpus and create a situation in which thousands of innocent people can be held indefinitely by the US government. Yep, this is exactly the guy we should rely on to trumpet who's really doing the liberty-supporting work that the Founders would be proud of in DC.

The mind reels. He rejects one party out of hand because he has a personal distaste for the party's leaders (even though that's the party that uniformly stands for exactly what he's supposedly praising), he praises the creation of a new party that doesn't and won't exist, and in so doing praises a set of people who, for the most part, have little power, many of whom may have none whatsoever in a year or two. This man and his columns are so pointless (aside from serving as convenient bits of free press for GOP candidates). But that's self-evident, right? He gets on my nerves, and as he himself says, if people are annoying no one should bother taking them, their policies, or the possibility that they might be right remotely seriously. So ... why does the Post still employ this self-important crank?

Posted by armand at 11:30 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 20, 2006

The Duck Quacks Well.

Over at the Duck of Minerva, PTJ argues that 9/11 didn't really change the world, but 9/20 (2001) did. What happened on 9/20? The President gave a (no famous) speech. In it, he proclaimed that the US would pursue terrorists anywhere and everywhere, and that any state that harbored them was just as liable as the terrorists themselves. The consequences of that now-famous speech include the fact that we can date the beginnings of the American Empire precisely: 9/20/2001:

The reason that 20 September 2001 is so important is that on that day Bush did something that I'd been joking with my IR classes about for years. "What would it take for the US to stop being a sovereign state?" I'd ask them, and eventually we'd arrive at the answer: if the US declared that it wasn't going to play by the rules of sovereignty any more, if it was going to stop recognizing other states and declare that it would violate territorial integrity whenever it felt like it, it wouldn't be a sovereign state any longer, it would be an empire. Why an empire? Because empires have frontiers, not borders, and they don't recognize any regime other than their own as really legitimate.

A declaration of empire.

I don't think I disagree with this, though I'm not sure the follow-through is working out well. We have really only invaded a single state (Afghanistan) for terrorism directly, and a second (Iraq) for reasons that are honestly unclear to me at this point (perhaps a legitimate fear of WMD, perhaps something else). There are likely other successes where the US has not had to directly invade, but states have fallen into line more or less willingly (Libya comes to mind). Overall, the US is something close to an empire, if not one.

However, remaining an empire is tricky. There is a certain degree of ruthlessness that is necessary, and I'm not sure we have that as a society or whomever gets the Oval Office next will have it. (Technically, I'd argue you need competant ruthlessness, and that may disqualify the present Oval Office occupant, which may explain why, five years after 9/20, the American Empire looks to be creaking a bit.) There is a further question as to whether we want to be an empire, but that's a different post.

In any event, go read the Duck.

Posted by baltar at 10:56 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

What's the matter with Kansas?

Who cares?! These days, it's what's the matter with Ohio!?

As many of you may know, my friend and fellow AmericanStreet blogger Jeff Coryell has had his photographic work stolen and used in a lying attack ad by Republican Rep. Earl Martin (Ohio House 57th). Now, that is pretty bad especially when you consider that Jeffs Blog Ohio2006 clearly has a Creative Commons License displayed. The Creative Commons License states that Jeffs work can only be used under certain circumstances one being that the user must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor and two - that the work may not be altered, transformed, or built upon. There are other conditions as well but, these two were most certainly violated by Earl Martin. Originally, I thought well perhaps Martin was lazy and incompetent and “overlooked” the clearly displayed “This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 License” statement and graphic. Ya know, accidents can happen. But, this is not just a case of your average incompentent Republican, this is much more, this is an example of what is wrong with the entire Republican party. Let me explain -

As the Ohio Blogosphere was trying to help protect Jeffs rights by asking Rep. Martin to abide by the Creative Commons License, Mr. Martin and the Ohio Republican Party responded: First, they gave Jeff the bureaucratic run around. You are familiar with this technique, they put you on hold for hours and then when you get through - say, that they can't help you and transfer you to another dept where you wait on hold and so on and so on in circles until you give up. So. that was a jerk move - All they had to do was be friendly to Jeff, He is an easy guy to get along with and I am sure they could have worked out something. But that isn't the worst of it, the next thing they did kinda shocked me.

When an Elyria Chronicle reporter picked up the story, the Ohio Republicans finally gave a response and what was it - they don't care if they broke the law or not

Ohio2006Blog via StealthBadger.

Posted by binky at 10:44 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Hang Up Calls

In the last couple of hours, I have received three phone calls from someone who hangs up when I answer, and who is blocking caller ID.

Stalker? or Telemarketer?

I'm going stalker (or less malicious human weirdness). The telemarketer hangup is usually dead air until disconnect.

Posted by binky at 07:34 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

A great "sour grapes" line for anyone who's never published in the APSR

It contributes to bias in the field.

HT Crooked Timber and Lawyers, Guns and Money.

Posted by binky at 06:23 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Not a bad idea...

...on a shitty cold dreary day, when I have been overtaken by The Pestilence:

What are you grateful for? (And you'd better come up with five things. I know you can do it! If you're in a bind, there's always the weather, the new TV season, and the seasonal waning of heat and humidity.)

At this moment I am grateful for my dogs, who are piled all over me keeping me (somewhat) cozy as I work on my laptop. They're such a trial sometimes, but they are all extra sweet and always willing to pitch in to help the humans feel better.

I am grateful for my friends, who are the most loving, interesting, intelligent and fun people on the planet (this includes co-bloggers).

I am grateful for my little affordable house in my little affordable town, and even though the plaster is cracked and the floors aren't level, this place is the setting for a terrific life.

I am grateful to have a strong and loving relationship with my parents, even though they still make me a little nuts at times. And for my family, who love each other anyway.

And, I am grateful for my love, who is loyal and true, and encourages me to do whatever my heart desires, and means it when saying to any roadblocks "Don't worry... we'll work it out."

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

"he was out of the country and could not be reached for comment"

Larry Summers, when asked for a comment about the study discussed in this article.

For 30 years, the report says, women have earned at least 30 percent of the nation's doctorates in social and behavioral sciences, and at least 20 percent of the doctorates in life sciences. Yet they appear among full professors in those fields at less than half those levels. Women from minority groups are "virtually absent," it adds.

The report also dismisses other commonly held beliefs - that women are uncompetitive or less productive, that they take too much time off for their families. Instead, it says, extensive previous research showed a pattern of unconscious but pervasive bias, "arbitrary and subjective" evaluation processes and a work environment in which "anyone lacking the work and family support traditionally provided by a 'wife' is at a serious disadvantage."

And as we've discussed before, Their mistakes become magnified and their successes minimized. Or It was because I was a girl and so I thought that when I failed, I was a failure; if I succeeded, it was because of luck or outside help.

Hat tip to BitchPhD.

Posted by binky at 05:41 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Most Loathsome Member of Congress?

John Boehner, Marsha Blackburn, Denny Hastert ... there are a depressing number of people whose recent behavior "earns" them consideration for that ignominious "honor". There's nasty, there's partisan ... and then there's claiming the Democrats are loyal to Osama bin Laden.

Posted by armand at 04:08 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Go Frist Go!

Those are three words you will rarely hear me say, but when it comes to this ...

Posted by armand at 02:41 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

The Next Mubarak Wants Egypt to Go Nuclear?

Oh boy, one of our strongest allies (and by that I mean a military/family/party dictatorship that's received billions from us and has an active and seemingly widely-supported banned Islamist opposition that would do great if free elections were allowed) in the Middle East wants to go nuclear. Oy - this is highly problematic - and yet so utterly predictable:

"Why should the U.S. assist India in its nuclear program and not Egypt?"
Posted by armand at 02:01 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Inflammatory Language and No Logic at All? Must Be Malkin

Do any newspapers still publish her silly screeds? And if so, why on Earth? I mean given her inability to think through pretty much any thought in remotely realistic terms, or to notice the elephant sized holes in her arguments, given her previous arguments ...

Posted by armand at 08:26 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

September 19, 2006

The People's Choice in Texas

Don't you just love democracy/representative government? It appears that the people of Texas have made up their minds about the candidates for governor (only 4% are undecided?), and they are choosing to reelect Governor Perry by a wide margin. Of course Governor Perry (aka Gov. Good Hair) at this point only has the support of about 1/3 of the Texans who are going to bother to vote - but apparently that's all it's going to take to score a commanding victory this year.

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

In Memoriam

Fuck. How do you miss the fact that a site that you always think of as your very very favorite(est), has gone dark?

Probably for some of the same reasons it went dark. Grown up life. Being away from home. Paying ten bucks for a half hour of internet (see my lame-o posts from this summer for evidence).

I'm sad to say that Radio Indie Rock has gone off the air, and it happened a few months ago.

Just now, I was sitting down to do some reading with my computer in front of me (something I haven't been doing in a while). I wanted one of Schroeder's playlists for accompaniment. While I liked and appreciated the selections of the others, Schroeder's aim was always true for what I wanted to hear. Interesting, eclectic, never pretentious, intelligent, fun.

The man played Tender Trap's "That Girl" like a fiend. He definitely knows fun.

It was more than fun though. Before it was Radio Indie Rock it was Invisible Radio (and my hopeless real life homepage which I haven't upated in years still carries the broken link). I exchanged an email or two with Schroeder when the RIAA, under the sway of corporate gluttony, moved to shut out the hobbyists like Invisible Radio by trying to charge a per song per listener fee for webcasts. I got fired up to write a few blistering letters to Senators Byrd and Rockefeller. I'll bet that was a head scratcher in the Senate office building.

I'm sorry you missed out on the chance to hear Radio Indie Rock. And I'm sad that I missed out listening over the last year. Real life intervened for everyone, it seems.

So goodbye to Radio Indie Rock, and a deep deep thank you to the DJs who made it happen and kept it going until the end. And especially to Schroeder, who was responsible for reigniting a dormant ember in my brain. His enthusiam for Yoshimi was infectious.

And we all know what happened next.

Posted by binky at 08:51 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Is This Good or Bad?

The Thai military has launched a coup to remove the Prime Minister, who has been accused of corruption and abuse of power. The Prime Minister was in New York, for the UN General Assembly. There has been no reported blood shed.

Uh...huh? I don't think this is good, but I could be convinced otherwise.

Posted by baltar at 12:45 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack


It's Talk Like A Pirate Day!

Check out PZ's place for a helpful instructional video.

Posted by binky at 12:20 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 18, 2006

How do these questions affect my health?

Pandagon links to a real eye-opener from Biting Beaver about ignorance, discrimination and the old saw that men who hate women become ObGyns.

Soooo, I phoned my doctors office which informed me that the office was closed and that I had to call the local hospital and have her paged in order to reach her on the weekend. So I called her and had them page her. A little while later she called back and I answered the phone immediately. She sounded tired and really grumpy; I apologized for having to page her for a thing like this and then asked her if I could get a prescription for EC. She explained that I needed to go to the Emergency Room to get it.

My heart fell, the ER has a 100$ co-pay attached to it. "Well," I thought to myself, "that's still better than the price of a kid" so I called the Emergency Room to verify the information and to ask what their procedures were. When I called the hospital they transferred me to the ER. I asked the nurse what the procedure was for EC and what would be the best time to come down there (I didn't want to wind up behind 3 critical people and end up waiting for 12 hours). The nurse responded in a small, questioning voice, "EC?" and so I explained. "Yes, Emergency Contraception. Plan B. You know, right?"

"Oh" she replies. "Hold on just a sec" and she puts me on hold.

A few moments later another nurse answers the phone. "Can I help you" he says.

"Yes," I reply "My name is BB and I was told that I need to come here to get a scrip for Plan B."

"Oh," he says, "Can you hang on a second?"

"Sure" I reply, becoming decidedly nervous.

He puts me on hold and I sit on the edge of the bed frowning and fiddling with a pen. I wait on hold for 15 minutes before he finally comes back on.

"Have you talked to your doctor?" he asks.

"Yes, I talked to her this morning and she told me to go to the ER" I reply.

"Oh, so she won't prescribe it for you?" he asks.

This possibility hadn't occurred to me. I just assumed that the ER was standard procedure, "Hmmm" I say, "Well, I guess not. It's not just standard procedure to go to the ER?"

"No, not really. We don't really have this happen much." He replies and then he says, "Well I called the pharmacy to ask them because I had heard that it was going over the counter. They told me that they won't sell it til the first of the year" I finished the sentence with him and explained that I had called the pharmacy first thing this morning and was told the very same thing.

"Well see," he begins, his voice dropping a little, "the problem is that you have to meet the doctor’s criteria before he'll dispense it to you."

"Criteria?" I question.

"Well," the nurse sounds decidedly nervous as though what he really wanted to do was hang up the phone completely, "Yes, his criteria. I mean...ummm...well, are you ok? Is there any, ummm....trauma?" he asks me.

My face changes expression and I hurry to explain, "No, no" I said, "No. I haven't been raped. This was consensual sex."

"Oh..." he trails off.

I wait expectantly.

"Well, ummm....*clears throat*...So you haven't been raped?" he asks again.

"No. I have not been raped. The condom broke". I state, becoming very frustrated at this point and wondering what the hell is going on.

"Ok, well ummm....Are you married?" he mumbles the words so low I can barely hear them.

Suddenly I get this image of the poor nurse standing at the hospital reading from a cue card that was given to him by a doctor.

"No." I state plainly. "I am not married. I've been in a relationship for several years and I have three children, I don't want a fourth." I respond tersely.

"Oh, I see." He says and then he hurries on, "Well, see. *I* understand. I want you to know that I understand what you're saying. But see, the problem is that we have 4 doctors here right now but only one of them ever writes EC prescriptions. But see, the thing is that he'll interview you and see if you meet his criteria. Now, I called the pharmacy but I also talked to him and well....*clears throat* can come down and try to get it. You know, if you meet his criteria he'll give you a prescription, I mean, there's really no harm in trying." the nurse trails off, his voice falters as I realize what I'm being told.

He continues, almost over eager at this point to distance himself from the hospital, "See, I understand what you're saying and all. I think it's a good thing that it's going over the counter. I just thought I should tell you what he told me. You know, you'll just have to have an interview with him and he'll see if you meet his criteria. He'll only be on duty until 2pm today though and you should ask for him if you decide to come down because he's really your only chance."

I sigh and thank him before hanging up. I know exactly what he was telling me. If I wasn't raped and wasn't married then too damn bad for me.

I opened the phone book again and called the Urgent Care in my county. Who knows, maybe they'll do it for me. "No," the nurse said, "We don't prescribe the abortion pill here".

"No, wait I'm not asking for the abortion pill. I'm asking for EC!" I say, "It's not the same thing."

"Well, we use the words interchangeably here. Sorry, we don't prescribe it". She all but races to get off the phone with me.

I start looking through the telephone book, dialing hospitals from counties all around me. It seems that nobody will prescribe it to me. None of the hospitals are willing to touch me, of the ones that will prescribe it I am asked a series of questions to 'screen' me before I come to the hospital. The results aren't good. I'm not married and wasn't raped, so there's very little they can do for me. But I can try the nurses tell me uncomfortably.

"But if I go through all this and I can't get it will I still be charged the co-pay?"

"Well....ummmm...yeah. I'm afraid so Ma'am." comes the reply.

I called every hospital in every surrounding county and none of them would prescribe me EC. Not even ONE. Of the 2 that said that they sometimes will their 'criteria' was clearly not my situation.

Next I tried Planned Parenthood. None of them were open. Not one. Every Planned Parenthood in Ohio was either closed on Saturday or would be closed before I could drive the 100 miles to them.

I was told by every urgent care I called and every emergency room that I was shit out of luck. I was asked my age. My marital status. How many children I had. If I had been raped and when I became uncomfortable with the questions I was told, "Well Ma'am, try to understand that you will be interviewed and the doctor has 'criteria' that you need to meet before he will prescribe it for you."

When I asked about what 'criteria' there was that I had to meet, the reply was, "Well, he's kind of old fashioned". I was told that I might be able to 'talk him into it' anyway and that it can't hurt to try (except for the fact that each and every time I try it I'll have to pay $100 co-pay).

It's brave of her to share this story, and essential that people know what is happening out there.

Posted by binky at 10:07 PM | Comments (21) | TrackBack

Being Asked if You Are Jewish is "Casting Aspersions"?

Senator Allen (R-VA) responds to a question about whether or not he's Jewish here. Clearly he thinks that he shouldn't be asked that question. Fine. But what I find odd here is that the moderator asked for a simple factual answer - and at the very end of Allen's indignant response you see that apparently he thinks that simply asking him if he's Jewish is "casting aspersions" on him. Hmmmm - racist much? Brendan Nyhan might not call him a racist, even given his history, but it's little wonder that a lot of other people see him that way.

Posted by armand at 05:20 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

A New Frame for the Torture Debate: Bush is no Reagan

Since I know a lot of people on the Right seem to have no love for Lindsey Graham and John McCain, and since I'm guessing some of them are thinking John Warner is showing senility instead of backbone (and class and basic human decency) by trying to block President Bush's latest power grab/love of torture/trashing of the Geneva Convention - here's a suggestion for a new way to try to win over independents and conservatives and independents on this issue (if we want to - as Publius notes getting the worst bill imagineable might not be a bad thing). Who else is against this move by President Bush? Let's see. There's Jack Vessey (JCS chief under Reagan). There's Colin Powell (National Secuirty Advisor under Reagan). There's George Shultz (Secretary of State under Reagan, and the man who can in most instances rightly be said to have directed Reagan foreign policy). See a theme here? Yet again, George Bush is no Ronald Reagan. I think it's something that someone in some political PR office can run with - Bush is willing to toss aside the kind of values and protection of US troops that Reagan stood for, in pursuit of the kind of all-powerful and secretive, liberty-imperiling state that Reagan fought against (at least in the mind of the voters such a strategy would be aimed at).

Posted by armand at 05:03 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Why We Should NOT Clarify Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions

Radley Balko gets to the heart of the matter:

In any case, the vagueness of the phrase "outrages on personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment" is a real strength of the Convention, not a flaw. Why? Because those who hold prisoners captured on battlefields everywhere will have to think long and hard about what activities might violate that provision and lead them later to be charged with war crimes. It encourages military and other jailers to err on the side of caution when it comes to their treatment of prisoners. This is a point that Republican Senators McCain, Graham and Warner have made repeatedly—we would want those holding captured American soldiers as prisoners to treat them well physically and with the utmost respect for their rights. Also, the fact that some CIA operatives are buying legal insurance in order to pay for their legal costs should they have to defend themselves in court from accusations that they committed war crimes is evidence that Article III is working as intended.
Posted by armand at 01:20 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

"The Stans" Commit to Being Nuclear-Weapons-Free

Woo-hoo! Some good news in the world of IR, if, like me, you consider the proliferation of nuclear weapons to be a grave threat to national security. The five Stans have agreed to making their countries a nuclear-weapons-free zone. I think that's a good thing - especially when you consider that these states border Iran, Russia, China, and Afghanistan.

Posted by armand at 12:24 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Yoo's "Not Even Trying Hard Any More"

Indeed - Yoo's latest is simply pathetic, on its "ahistorical truthiness" alone.

And it's another example of why I think the administration's best friends, not matter what they might say about them, are the mainstream media. Their firm belief in presenting both sides of a story (b/c you know there are always two sides, and no more than two, to every story) encourages serious consideration of inane comments and falsehoods like Yoo's.

Posted by armand at 10:34 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 17, 2006

Running across the savanna

My dog is running with the cheetahs. He turns on the speed. Toes flex and grip, thigh muscles contract, bulge, extend. His whiskers twitch. His breathing is deep, yet rapid, as he inhales the scent of the chase. The rhythm of his stride bounces his body across the blankets?

Wake up dummy! You're shaking my bed!

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

More Movement in the Race to Succeed Annan at the UN

In the wake of a straw poll that seemed to suggest that South Korea's Ban was on an inside track to become the next Secretary-General (depending on exactly who voted against him), the United States has expressed some concern with the current list of candidates, and now two new people are being nominated as contenders. The first was the president of Latvia (who I would think is going nowhere as I can't see either China or Russia, much less both, agreeing to support her), and now Ashraf Ghani, the former Afghan finance minister, is to be nominated. So even though Ban has 14 "encouraging" votes, this contest does not appear to be over.

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

Ann Richards

Molly Ivins wrote a touching obit, and Ryan has up a wonderful photo of the lady. Bitch PhD says she should have been the first woman president.

Not being from Texas, I don't have much to say about her policy sucesses and failures. As a young woman, however, seeing Ann Richards elected Governor of Texas gave me hope. And as a somewhat older woman, I've come to appreciate her abilty to combine steel, humility, strength and human frailty. She wasn't perfect, but she'd also be the first to say it.

That alone is enough to make us wish the path from Texas Governor to the White House had been walked in her pumps.

Posted by binky at 02:46 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Not even a touchdown? Not even one? There were some great moments in football yesterday from Michigan crushing Notre Dame to Florida's narrow win over Tennessee, but to me the biggest surprise was TCU's win over Texas Tech. No, I'm not surprised TCU won. But I am surprised that their defense could hold Tech's vaunted scoring machine to a mere 3 points. I think the Red Raiders were surprised too.

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

Words Fail Me.

We blew up a country, parked 130,000 of our own troops (and several tens of thousands of our allies) on it, declared we owned the place, and then hired politically loyal but supremely incompetant idiots to rebuild it:

Many of those chosen by O'Beirne's office to work for the Coalition Provisional Authority, which ran Iraq's government from April 2003 to June 2004, lacked vital skills and experience. A 24-year-old who had never worked in finance -- but had applied for a White House job -- was sent to reopen Baghdad's stock exchange. The daughter of a prominent neoconservative commentator and a recent graduate from an evangelical university for home-schooled children were tapped to manage Iraq's $13 billion budget, even though they didn't have a background in accounting.

Read the whole thing. It alternatively makes me want to strangle someone or break down weeping. I think, at this point, I'm closer to weeping.

Posted by baltar at 12:13 AM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

September 16, 2006

The Incredibly Stupid Star-Bulletin Endorsement of Ed Case

The Honolulu Star-Bulletin has chosen to endorse Congressman Ed Case, who is challenging 16-year veteran senator Daniel Akaka in the Democratic primary. The primary will be held a week from Tuesday, and whoever wins it will no doubt be formally elected to the Senate in November. I disagree with this endorsement. Case strikes me as the sort of Democrat who backs DLC positions when the DLC is wrong (on Iraq, the Bankruptcy bill, things like that). The sort of politician who gives centrists a bad name. But it's not the fact that the paper is endorsing Case that really annoys me - it's that they are endorsing him, in part, for an amazingly stupid reason - seniority.

Now that's not the only reason of course. They go on to praise the DLC, and say they agree with Case on all issues of consequence. But over half of their argument is spent on the seniority issue - which is completely absurd. Does seniority matter? Sure, to a degree. But this isn't the 1950's when old Southern bulls jealously guarded their power and maintained control through the committee system. The Senate has changed. But sadly it appears that the editors of this newspaper haven't read anything about how the Senate actually works since ... well, maybe when they read text books in the 1950's. Today the Senate is different, and how long you've been there is not the determinant of your effectiveness. George Mitchell, Tom Daschle and Bill Frist all won the position of Majority Leader even though none had been in the Senate for a decade when they took power. People like Chuck Schumer and Lindsey Graham are viewed as among the most effective senators working today, though they are only in their second and first terms respectively. The notion that you should vote for someone today because they might have a little power in Washington 20 years from now (the paper dismisses Akaka's 16 years of seniority as "modest" though he could chair a committee next year if the Democrats take control of the Senate) is damn silly - and not only because it would seem to lock the newspaper into endorsing every incumbent senator in almost every instance (the one exception apparently being when both senators are veterans, and you want to open up one seat so that you can build future seniority ... but hey, if it's seniority that matters, do you really want to put someone out to pasture when they've finally attained plenty of it?). If they want to endorse Case for his politics, that's fine. But this "seniority" argument is built on false assumptions, and their use of it is inane.

Posted by armand at 04:22 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 15, 2006

Somehow I missed this bit of news

Apparently, there are still people out there who read Ann Althouse.

I know. Total shocker.

Anyway...her attitude reminds me of something. Hmmm, wait, what could it be. Hmmm.... oh yes, I have it now...

Now now young ladies, don't you know you should hide your girl parts in photos?

Posted by binky at 07:56 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

While I'm picking on CNN

I might as well add that the idiot who writes the photo captions can join the fool who select the photos in the warm glow of scorn:


Marianne Faithfull is 59 years old, has numerous albums, and all CNN can come up with is "best known for being a former girlfriend of Mick Jagger."

Posted by binky at 05:04 PM | Comments (24) | TrackBack

Spinach, E. Coli and CNN's poor choice of photos

By now everyone has heard about the E. Coli outbreak. If you've got bagged spinach in your fridge, toss it. You could get very sick, and better safe than sorry.

CNN, in its vast wisdom, chooses to run a photo of the kind of spinach you should buy and eat. Non-bagged spinach.


Posted by binky at 04:59 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


It turns out they provided us with the (newly discovered) first writing in the hemisphere.

Posted by binky at 04:29 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Counter-Terrorism Technology from 500 B.C.

Via the New York Times:

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- Iraqi security forces will dig trenches around Baghdad and set up checkpoints along all roads leading into the city to try to reduce some of the violence plaguing the capital, the Interior Ministry said Friday.


"'We will leave only 28 inlets to Baghdad while all other inlets will be blocked. Supports will be added to the trenches to hinder the movements of people and vehicles. The trenches will be under our watch,"' he said.

He did not have any details, but did say that there would be no concrete walls or razor wire. Khalaf also did not know how deep or wide the trenches would be.

"'They will surround Baghdad," he said of the trenches.

Yup, that's what we're reduced to. Digging trenches. They used to be called "moats", and there were effective at slowing people down as they approached population centers, which allowed those centers to defend themselves more easily. They were developed quite a long time ago (likely before 500 B.C., but I went with that number for the title).

They really ought to re-think the ban on concrete and razor wire. If you use concrete to build up a high barrier on the inside of the moat, er, trench, you could stand on it, and shoot down at the people trying to get in (or, in this case, smuggle stuff and/or people in). You could call them "walls," and stand on them to get a better line-of-sight on the people trying to break in. Being high up is really useful when defending against attacking people. You could even fill the "trench" (moat) with water, and really slow them down.

Are we really reduced to re-inventing fortification technology from over a thousand years ago in order to fight this war more effectively?

Posted by baltar at 12:14 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

September 14, 2006

Who Learns About Attempts to Distort US Intelligence?

I find it interesting, that as Emptywheel notes, Dafna Linzer's story on the IAEA saying that the craptacular and inflammatory report on Iran's nuclear capabilities that has emerged from under the dankest rock at the House Intelligence Committee is on page A17 of the Washington Post. You know, the paper of record in the nation's capitol. Where is the IAEA's response to what they see as an "erroneous" and "misleading" document playing on BBC News? Why it would be the top story on their website. I guess we could file this as one more data point supporting the position that people outside the US often know more about US foreign policy than Americans do.

Posted by armand at 12:42 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

A Good National Security Strategy for the Democrats?

That's not what Korb and Ogden's piece is about, but I think it could prove effective.

The solution is to do two things that the Bush administration has not: permanently increase the number of troops in the active Army and fully fund its equipment needs. Let this, not the expenditure of more blood and treasure in Iraq, be the "courageous act of presidential leadership" that Kristol and Lowry desire.
Posted by armand at 11:51 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Latest Straw Poll in the Race for Secretary-General

Are we really going to have a South Korean Secretary-General? It's looking more and more like that's going to happen. And I'm surprised Prince Zeid didn't do better (and that the Sri Lankan is still bothering to stay in the race).

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

Age and One's Perspective on the Fall Election

Chris Bowers notes that Charlie Cook sees a big split on how people are forecasting the November election. Those under 40 see much better prospects for the GOP than those over 40. I think Bowers' read on this is quite right - that people in these two age groups have grown up with different understandings of the "natural ruling party", and use different elections as key analogies when looking to November 2006. But I think it also goes a bit farther than what Bowers is saying. Politics in the 1980's and before strikes me as quite a bit different than today, in terms of what now seems to determine elections. Changes in gerrymandering are part of this of course (and the number of competitive seats), as are changes in campaign communications, financing, and the nature of get out the vote efforts. But even that might not be the whole story. Do you have any thoughts on what might explain this split?

Posted by armand at 09:41 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 13, 2006


There is a student who is in both my class and Baltar's, who was discussing the possibility of skipping class to attend the Journey/Def Leppard show. A smart guy, who could skip many classes with no worries. I was worried, however, about the wisdom of seeing Journey sans Steve Perry.

I know, I know. None of these bands have all the original dudes. And the new Journey singer was a fan, who supposedly sounds just like Perry. His name is even Steve. And the only real difference is that he has curly hair. And, if you've never seen the Behind the Music episode, it sounds like Attila the Hun would be easier to work with than Steve Perry (who comes close to Dennis DeYoung as the biggest drama queen of any BtM episode).

Anyway, we got onto a discussion about Journey, and original members versus later additions. Of course, Neil Schon, the guitar "prodigy" was original. As was Gregg Rolie (the other guy who did lead vocals, before Steve Perry became The Voice). And Ross Valory, and some other guys who didn't play with Santana.

So a few minutes ago, thinking about this, I pulled out my copy of Infinity, which I remembered as the album (yes, children, it's vinyl) where Perry and Rolie shared vocals. Of course it's got the scarab beetle and wings.

And then I flipped it over.

And then there was a Spinal Tap [really, look at the Spinal Tap link] moment.

All I can say is I both wish you could see the white pants clearly to understand what I'm talking about, and am glad you can't for the sake of your eyeballs.

Gregg Rolie. The man in the white pants. He couldn't match Perry on the high notes, but the man had other, not so hidden, assets.

1978. It wasn't the year of the cock, but it might as well have been.

Posted by binky at 09:59 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

And in the totally random video category...

Birds. It features slo mo dogs. Just go with it.

Posted by binky at 06:51 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

New Jersey Senate 2006 - A Reprise of 2002?

Oh how I so dearly wish Gov. Corzine would have named Congressman Holt to succeed him in the Senate. I understand why he didn't (Bob Menendez's political clout and giant campaign treasury), but with Holt ... well we wouldn't be hearing an all too familiar echo of corruption that might well cost them a Senate seat in blue state (I really can't imagine Sen. Menendez agreeing to drop out of the race a la 2002).

Posted by armand at 06:46 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

While we're worrying about what Mickey Rat is up to...

...Congress is busy working to protect our rights.

While refusing to give the president a blank check to prosecute the war on terrorism, Republicans in the Senate Judiciary Committee kept to the White House's condition that a bill giving legal status to the surveillance program pass unamended.

And we can distinguish this from a blank check how?

HT BatCotE.

Posted by binky at 06:04 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Don't Take Harvey Mansfield Seriously

I strongly agree. And don't take sad, reactionary Samuel Huntington seriously either.

Posted by armand at 05:22 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Never Sing at the Mike if you Don't Know the Words

Ladies and gentlemen, the Speaker of the House.

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

This sounds like a great idea, doesn't it?

I had started a post about this before I left for work this morning, and come back to find Pandagon did the work so I don't have to (just like scrubbing bubbles). A brief quote:

"If we're not willing to use it here against our fellow citizens, then we should not be willing to use it in a wartime situation," said Wynne.

Oh boy.

Posted by binky at 04:10 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 12, 2006

At least they weren't burning it, right?


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

Things Unavailable

My life is not a hardship of wanting.

There have been years where things have been difficult. And there was a time, when separating from a bad breakup in which the ex in question maneuvered to control the the collective finances, that things were very difficult. I'll never forget when after talking to a friend about the innumerable packages of ramen I had been eating, he went out and bought me a bag of fresh oranges. The luxury.

And after that time, came the time of debt.

It's not an unusual story, of a woman, in graduate school, doing everything she can to support her partner, in graduate school, especially when the partner already had maxed out on student loans, and the woman, well, the woman had been thrifty and never taken a one. Scholarships. Work study jobs. Parental help even. So when loans were needed for the collective, the woman takes them, knowing that in a few short years, the partner will be out of graduate school, pulling down six figures and she some hopefully moderately good figures in the fives. Even though she is funded with prestigious fellowships. And of course, she puts the partner's name on her credit cards for emergencies. Or a few large household items that are otherwise difficult to acquire, like a bed for a couple, or a dining room table for that cute little duplex they rent. And why not buy new things, of course, since in a couple of short years, the partner will be earning six figures?

And, of course, in a few short years the partner was earning six figures. However the partner had decided that the six figure earning would require the woman to give up a dissertation, produce heirs, pick up dry-cleaning, and become support staff to the six figure earning. And had decided to become rather forceful about the communication of that necessity. And the woman decided that no fault freedom was worth far more than the cash she'd be out by dragging out the process.

And out of cash she was.

And yet, and yet... my life is not a hardship of wanting. I have everything I need. Really, I have more than I need. Especially I have things that I might oneday need, because you'll never know when you need them. Because when you need them, knowing that life tosses things in our way, like manipulative relationships or downsizing or medical leave, you might not have the ability to buy them. So useful things, sturdy things, and most especially free useful things start accumulating.

Free or thrift store things like mismatched, but very funky chairs. Forty year old italian espresso pots. Couches. And no, they are not for burning. I've got at least one couch on every floor. Actually, I take that back. I have at least two couches on every floor of my house. And I did not pay for a single one. Not the love seat in the attic. Not the futon couch in my office. Not the art nouveau sofa. Not the 1940s chartreuse velour semi circular sofa. None of them.

So when I read a blog post about buying a couch, and see the picture and think, hmm, that's a cute couch, and click through to the online catalog of furniture, and check out the price coming in just under two grand, after my eyes go booiiinnnngggg in sticker shock, while my brain tells them to calm down that it's probably a quite reasonable (modest?) price, I think...

I wonder what it's like to be able to buy a new couch?

And then I think...


Posted by binky at 06:34 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Emptywheel is Disappointed in Hubris

I haven't been following the Plame scandal all that closely lately, but here's an argument that Corn and Isikoff are missing something might important in their widely talked-about book Hubris. Do all roads still lead back to the vice president?

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

A Rowdy Debate in Montana

A cry of "psycho" filled the air, and the Democrat is talking about "Red China" ...

Wow. This debate was far livelier than any I've ever attended. By the way, am I the only person who's starting to see elements of Jim Bunning in 2004 in Conrad Burns's, ummm, interesting comments? Burns might not be that paranoid, yet, but he's been acting more than a little peculiar.

Posted by armand at 01:54 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The September 12 Primaries

This is of course the last of the mega-primary days in the '06 calendar. Nine states and DC are holding elections, and there are lots and lots of meaningful races. What will I be following the most closely? The Senate races in Maryland and Rhode Island, the mayoral race in DC (though that's likely to be really predictable), the New York AG race (sadly, really, really sadly, that's also easy to predict), MD Comptroller, and House races in AZ-8, NY-10, NY-11, MD-3, MD-4, MN-5, and heck, RI-2 too, though I'm surely going to be disappointed there (why do I care about that one? in 2 words - stem cells). Oh, and as long as I'm mentioning that one, I might as mention Rhode Island Secretary of State too. I know nothing of the candidates, but I am curious to see if someone named Guillaume de Ramel can actually win statewide office.

Anyway, consider this a thread to spout out any predictions or comments you might want to about today's primaries.

Posted by armand at 12:40 PM | Comments (14) | TrackBack

September 11, 2006

Bill Jefferson's (D-LA) Poor Re-Elect Numbers

If you scroll down this list of Louisiana political tidbits, under the section on the possibility that Rep. Melancon (D-LA) wil run for governor (a rumor I've heard is being taken seriously), you'll see numbers in the race for the 2nd congressional district, provided by a well-known Louisiana pollster. Simply put, Jefferson's numbers (25%) are atrocious. It looks like he can easily be pushed into a run-off and you'd have to think that whoever is in it with him might have a good chance of winning. Keep in mind that Louisiana's primary is everyone else's general election day, so we probably will not know the who's going to fill this seat in the next Congress until after a run-off in December.

Posted by armand at 10:20 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Monday Quiz

They forgot to add a question about nerds taking nerd tests at 6am on Monday mornings.

I am nerdier than 87% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!

Calculator tip to Historical Implications.

Posted by binky at 06:00 AM | Comments (15) | TrackBack

September 10, 2006

Who'll Be in the Championship Game on January 8th?

For months and months all we've read about is how this is the most open and unpredictable year that college football has seen in a long time. Well, it looks like that's all changed over the last 8 days. Why do I say it's changed? Well, in the latest AP poll the top teams are Ohio St., Notre Dame, USC, Auburn and WVU. If you look at the schedules and the way the teams have looked so far, Ohio St. doesn't face a top foe until it closes out the season against Michigan. Notre Dame should win every game it plays prior to facing USC in late November. Auburn is (sadly for it) in the SEC and therefore will find it a much tougher thing to finish the season undefeated. WVU though is another team that looks like it only has one clear challenge this fall, Louisville (though Rutgers has certainly impressed some folks over the last two weeks). So really it already looks like we know who'll be in the championship, more or less - it'll be the USC/Notre Dame winner against Ohio St., or possibly WVU if Ohio St. falls. Right? I mean, yeah, of course you never know what's going to happen on a particular weekend, and maybe I've just been bored into faith in the expected given all of yesterday's blowouts, but ...

Posted by armand at 03:24 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Schumacher to Retire

Baltar will have more to say about this as our resident F1 guy. Plus, Schumacher is not the one I think of when I hear the words "greatest driver of all time."

Posted by binky at 01:38 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack


I called my sister in Atlanta. Contrary to the CNN report she said she didn't feel the earthquake at all.

Posted by binky at 01:35 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Bias or Bad Day?

The "above the fold" stories in today's (paper versions) New York Times and Washington Post:

New York Times:

At a Secret Interrogation, Dispute Flared Over Tactics, about the internal debate among the CIA, FBI and other agencies about the legalities and utility of "harsh interrogation tactics" (aka "torture).

To Hold Senate, GOP Bolsters Its Most Liberal, about how the GOP heads in DC are trying to keep Chafee in the Senate, even to the point of pre-emptively announcing that if the wingnut candidate wins the primary, the GOP will concede RI to the Democrats (!?!?!?).

Darfur Trembles as Peacekeepers' Exit Looms, about how the genocide in Darfur continues, and could get worse if the mission of the Africa Union Peacekeepers ends (as the Sudanese government has requested).

A blub that tells you to go to the "Week in Review" section to read Adding Up the Ounces of Prevention, which discusses whether the US's counterterrorism efforts have been effective, or just if there haven't been any further attempts to attack the US directly.

At the Washington Post:

In a Pivotal Year, GOP Plans to Get Personal, about how the GOP will spend the vast majority of their campaign funds on opposition research and negative adds in order to hold onto the House and Senate in this election cycle.

Bin Laden Trail 'Stone Cold', about how the US hasn't had a credible lead to where Bin Laden is in over two years, and we're further away from catching him than we were five years ago.

Now, is this "Liberal bias in the media causes a whole bunch of anti-GOP/anti-Bush stories" or is this "The present administration has so screwed things up that even the complacent main-stream-media is starting to notice"?

Posted by baltar at 12:05 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


As the attack flyers have been rolling into my mailbox, it's made me wonder why on earth some California economic fund is so exercised over Allan Mollohan. I mean, looking at their website, how could they be unhappy with anything? They have flags! and eagles! and bunting clad porches! and flags!

Now, I can relax, having been pointed to this article by Steve Gilliard. It's just part of a banner year for mud and slime. Check out the first Georgia mailer. Hmmm, every red blooded patriot male's worst nightmare.

It makes perfect sense. When the country's overwhelmingly pissed, and you've got control of the government so there's no one else to blame, it must be time to try to obfuscate with nastiness.

Posted by binky at 09:27 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Sunday Morning Funnies

If you find it amusing to laugh at The Rat, and its recent support of fictionalization. Driftglass, with a little discussion of why Mickey makes a good substitute for Lenin.

Is it fair and factual to depict Mickey as the founder of one of the most infamously (or infa-mousely) oppressive regimes of the 20th Century? As one of modern history's greatest villains, along with Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot, and anyone who asks hard questions of the Dear Leader?

No, of course it isn't.

But since Disney has decided to throw its corporate weight and wallet behind ABCs docudogma (see how its just roooolls off the tongue) and throw facts to the four winds when it comes to reporting on the actual events as they actually happened surrounding one of the most important and thoroughly documented events in the actual history of our actual country…why the fuck shouldn't I?

After all, as Steve Gilliard points out, lie or not, "in the interest of drama, we can say he was."

If only we could get Justin, Britney and Xtina to sing the song.

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

September 09, 2006

Postwar plan = grounds for dismissal?

There are some times when you see something like this, you just move on, 'cause you know it's a weak link. Or you think, this can't possibly be true. Just no way.

On the other hand, it's Crooks and Liars linking to the Washington Post quoting a Brigadier General.

Long before the United States invaded Iraq in 2003, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld forbade military strategists to develop plans for securing a postwar Iraq, the retiring commander of the Army Transportation Corps said.

Brig. Gen. Mark E. Scheid told the Newport News Daily Press in an interview published yesterday that Rumsfeld had said "he would fire the next person" who talked about the need for a postwar plan.

Everyone and her mother is on the "fire Rummy" bandwagon now, so there's no need to add fuel to the fire. I'm just stupified.

Perhaps we should revisit Baltar's post from May 7, 2004.

Posted by binky at 12:05 PM | Comments (13) | TrackBack

Warrior Effect

So tell me, which of these sounds more like a warrior (from two stories posted next to each other)?

New research has shown that men bond together and cooperate well in the face of adversity to protect their interests more than women, which could explain why war is almost exclusively a male business, according to Professor Mark van Vugt of the University of Kent in southern England.

"Men respond more strongly to outward threats, we've labeled that the 'man warrior effect'," he told the British Association for the Advancement of Science meeting.


But when a mugger tried to grab a chain off her neck Friday, the wheelchair-bound 56-year-old pulled out her licensed .357 pistol and shot him, police said.


Posted by binky at 11:01 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 08, 2006

"Left Wing Blog"

That's what I heard from my brother when I was home visiting family a couple of weeks ago. What's this I hear from [our niece] about your left wing blog?

Ooh. Scary. Left wing.

It's not like none of us - or no one else in the blogosphere - has thought about or commented about shifting and hence useless political labels. And I've thought about this before, especially when some random link to Bloodless pops up referring to us as a "liberal blog."

Even though we've been clear about this being a bipartisan group in lots of posts, there is no big banner headline that says it.

And I'll freely admit that we all got a little frothy around the election, which is pretty much the only outlet we foreign policy voters have. I still remember getting polled, and when they asked what my top voting priorities were, I said "foreign policy" and the questioner asked me to repeat myself. I could almost hear the check mark in the box marked "other."

If anyone asked me what I considered myself, I would say a moderate pragmatist/strong civil libertarian. I've actually had people say to me - based on what evidence I don't clothes or something? - things like "well, you probably don't believe in the free market, so..." What the fuck? I don't believe in the free market? And this isn't a subtle conversation with fellow IR types who might be implying that states will always resist to a degree to protect certain industries thus inhibiting the absolute triumph of free market economics. No, these are people who are implying you're a commie.

This is tremendously amusing, especially for the "I now get to laugh at stupid presumptuous people" part, but it's also sad.

And I think about why people assume that I'm a commie. Aside from the beret and red star, of course. Seriously though, it's the civil liberties. I remember meeting Baltar back in the day, having heard about the new guy in the department. The libertarian. Thinking back, he and some of the other people I hung with (the super anti-authoritarian, the Anglophile gay conservative) were all civil libertarian types. And the really funny thing was that all the real leftie people and crypto-commies I knew thought that something was wrong with me, that I was some kind of closet conservative, or mealy moderate because I was hanging with the libertarian dudes.

Well, that and that I don't oppose war as inherently evil. On that I'm a pragmatist. I don't think war is either evil or good, necessarily. War is something states do. Period. I'd prefer that my states not get involved in stupid, unwinnable wars (and based on the headlines today, let me just say, did we not pay any attention to the history of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan?), or that if a state is going to be the hegemon, act like a fucking hegemon and build up all kinds of power including moral influence.

Oh and also that I do believe in the free market and economic competition. It's the economic competition part that causes the rub, of course, because that means being against things like monopolies, and corrupt alliances with government to manipulate markets. That brings up the nasty "r" word, I know, and that's what puts me in the "moderate" section. It's funny, every time I take one of those libertarian tests, I end up smack dab in the middle, halfway between Gandhi and Milton Friedman, but way more libertarian than either (especially Friedman... go figure).

Am I a libertarian? No. As Baltar and I have had discussions about numerous times, I find serious flaws in the ideology. Read around the web, there are plenty of other people who have written about it. I'm also a big believer in the "American Dream" as supported by our tax dollars. I don't want to pay for everything, but there is a collective benefit from holding the social fabric together through public works and public education. I've been to too many countries where the government doesn't take care of things like sewers and roads, and what passes for public education does nothing but remind regular people how unequal they are, sowing seeds for future political upheaval. We pay for that stuff, and hell yes we could stand to improve public education, but we get a lot more out of it than reading and writing. I'm happy to pay for that. It's an investment in national security from the inside. Again, that puts me squarely in the middle.

Ultimately the thing that makes this a "left-wing blog" (to my family at least) is the one part of my, and I'd say our (correct me if I'm wrong, comrades), ideology that spikes away from pragmatic moderate land. I'm with Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. If I had to choose one over the other, I'd take liberty over equality, because liberty at least gives the people a fighting chance at equality, where forced equality gives no such thing.

So I'm a commie, and this is a left wing blog simply because I don't think it's anyone's business what god anyone prays to, what people do in their bedrooms, what people do with their bodies. If you wanna buy it sell it drink it shoot it snort it abort it tie it up and spank it I don't care it's no one's business but yours.

Which as I recall, is about as diametrically opposed to "commie" as you can get.

Posted by binky at 01:21 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

September 07, 2006

Won't ANYONE Put David Broder Out to Pasture? Please!

Yet another data point for my case (as if another one were needed) that David Broder is an unfortunate combination of a pointless sap and someone who doesn't seem to know the first thing about the way politics and Washington actually work in 2006. He's too attached to the bipartisan/nonpartisan "civil" never-neverland that exists only amid the cobwebs in his mind. And that's before we even get to his seeming inability to get his facts straight (because of course those would get in the way of his dull,dearest fantasies about how DC really was, and should again, be as bland and congenial as a Methodist church social in rural Kansas). Ugh. What a continual waste of column inches. Why? Well, this fairly succinctly gets at the problem.

And in case any of you think I'm being a little nasty, consider Broder's column in which he makes a nasty swipe at Patrick Fitzgerald ... which he neglects to back up with even the vaguest shred of a fact or explanation. I think Broder should explain himself - or he should be the one apologizing, to Fitzgerald.

Posted by armand at 04:36 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Creative Insults

I've just started Fiasco by Tom Ricks, a book I've assigned as extra credit for my "Global Political Issues" class. I'm only a few pages in, but I did find this aside somewhat entertaining:

[Wolfowitz's] soft voice and mild manner frequently surprise those who have braced themselves for the encounter. "I actually was surprised to find, the first time I met him, that he wsa pretty likeable, which surprised me, becuse I hate him," said Paul Arcangeli, who served as an Army officer in Iraq before being medically retired. (His loathing, he explained, is a policy matter: "I blame him for all this shit in Iraq. Even more than Rumsfeld, I blame him." his bottom line on Wolfowitz: "Dangerously idealistic. And crack-smoking stupid."

"Crack-smoking stupid." Nice turn of phrase. I might have to start using that.

(I should note that just about everything else I've read about Wolfowitz argues that he's very bright, almost brilliant, though very idealistic (and clearly wrong about just about everything on Iraq). I mostly just like the blunt turn of phrase.)

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

The Irrestible (Fun to Watch) Demise of Tony Blair

As Kevin has noted at Political Animal, if you aren't following the escalating intra-party brawl surrounding just exactly when Tony Blair will step down as prime minister, you are missing a highly-entertaining show.

On the substance of this, Brown is of course quite right. Blair is extremely unpopular and his leadership has pushed his party down to levels of popularity not seen since Mrs. Thatcher's last election (yes, Labour is THAT unpopular right now). And I suppose by so openly swinging at the prime minister he might be doing himself some good come election time (on the theory that if he's seen as the guy responsible for dumping an unpopular leader, well, some voters will appreciate that, and of course since he wants to contest the next national election he'd like more time to raise the public's opinion of his party). Of course there may be more to Blair's tirades than a feeling that he's not leaving No. 10 unless he's dragged kicking and screaming out of the place (of course he already seems to be kicking and screaming ...). By raising the venom up to charges of "blackmail" he could be trying to lay the groundwork for one of his acolytes to wrest the party leadership from Brown's grasp.

In any event, you don't want to miss the show.

Posted by armand at 09:27 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 06, 2006


Not the dreaded nerd-off.

Think IR geeks can give them a run for their money?

Posted by binky at 10:44 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Add to the list....

of the ultimate blog posts. A sample:

Daily Kos: Bush caught in three-way with Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh.

Little Green Footballs: Bush enjoys triumphant three-way with Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh.

Gawker: Paris Hilton does pretty much anything.

Cute Overload: A kitten licks a puppy while the puppy licks a bunny.

Fleshbot: Same as Cute Overload, only with coeds.

MacRumors: Apple is going to sue us for revealing that Apple is going to sue us.

MAKE blog: How to create a nuclear accelerator using a Flash drive, a Commodore 64 and a guy named Roger.

Much fun to be had by all.

Posted by binky at 10:31 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Good Numbers for House Democrats

Independent polling of 27 US House races, and the Democrats have to like these numbers. While I would have expected better figures for them in a couple of races, on the whole these are excellent for them - and show real opportunities in places that weren't at all obvious 6 months ago. I mean just look at Pennsylvania 10, Virginia 2 and Washington 8. Those are all surprisingly good numbers for the Democrats - and they better hold on to and strengthen those figures if they hope to take back the House (which is still much less of a sure thing than the punditocracy is describing it of late).

In terms of the local angle, Rep. Mollohan (D-WV) is ahead - but only 52-42. That's going to be a close race.

Posted by armand at 03:44 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Who Gets to Choose Zambia's Next Leader?

Zambians or China? Yet another illustration of China's growing influence in the developing world, especially in mineral-rich Africa ...

Posted by armand at 11:15 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 05, 2006

Is That Blood On The Floor?

Belgravia Dispatch


When the moderates loathe you, it's time to hang it up.

Posted by baltar at 09:51 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Pakistan, Safe Haven to the Bad Guys

Not content with merely housing the world's number 1 nuclear-arms proliferator in palatial luxury, Pakistan has now publicly stated that it is giving Osama Bin Laden free rein to do what he likes in Pakistan without fear of arrest, provided he promises not to be a very bad boy. Pakistan looking the other way on this isn't too shocking - but how explicit the remark/protection is surprises me. The General must be in serious trouble.

Posted by armand at 09:29 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

El Presidente?

As expected, the Federal Electoral Tribunal declared Calderon the winner of the Mexican presidential election.

Lopez Obrador said that he won't accept the result, and he has millions of supporters behind him. The US press hasn't been covering this very much, but protestors had congress locked down, and Vicente Fox had to give up on his final state of the union speech after Obrador's supporters in Congress kept Fox from coming in to deliver the speech.

Summing up, this is ugly, and Lopez Obrador has the potential to cause significant havoc to what - a short time ago - looked like a very promising democratization.

The court rejected Lopez Obrador's "dirty campaign" allegations but said Fox put the election at risk with his comments on the campaign.

Lopez Obrador had argued that an ad campaign comparing him to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez illegally affected the elections. But the court said that while the ads had a strong impact, it was not enough to change the result. It also pointed out that Lopez Obrador used attack ads against Calderon.

The court said there was "no logical connection" to Lopez Obrador's claim that television ads by pro-Calderon businesses had subliminal messages in favor of Calderon. It also rejected claims that the popular soap opera "La Fea Mas Bella," or "The Prettiest Ugly Girl," indirectly supported Calderon, and said there was no evidence electoral authorities were biased against the leftist.

The court's president, Leonel Castillo, called on Mexicans to unite and heal the deep divisions the election revealed.

"I hope we conclude this electoral process leaving confrontation behind," he said.

Neither candidate was at the session. Lopez Obrador ate breakfast with lawmakers from his Democratic Revolution Party, then arrived at his protest tent in Mexico City's Zocalo plaza, where he has been sleeping for nearly two months.

What Mexico needs is strong democratic institutions. This electoral struggle has managed to politicize - and potentially weaken - the presidency, the courts, and the congress.

Posted by binky at 05:44 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

A Good Sport

So, everyone is talking about Steve Irwin. The comments I've seen in various places seem to be fairly evenly divided between those who don't care, those who will miss his enthusiasm, and those who think he harassed animals to make a buck and therefore good riddance.

Count me in the "missing his enthusiasm" category. It's not like I was some kind of huge fan, but I did think he consistently displayed a very genuine excitement and awe about animals, as well as the desire to educate people about the benefits of preserving nature.

So what if his show was a little over the top or gimmicky? What nature show isn't? And on top of it, his ebullient curiosity was perfect to get kids interested in the subject.

Finally, he was a good enough sport to make fun of himself. That says a lot about a media figure.

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

Primary Day in Florida

For all you past, present and future Floridians ...

It's primary day, so if you want to follow the races, the commentary, and the latest idiocy from occasional scary or crazy candidate, you might want to check out Florida Politics today and tomorrow. Of course if all you want is a snapshot of the campaigns this election day, Ron Gunzburger, a native Floridian, has that at Politics1 in his usual succinct style. I'll be very happy to see Crist, Davis and Castor win, as seems likely, and of course I'm going to be thrilled if Congresswoman Harris wins her Senate primary. I mean it would be terribly cruel of Floridians to deny the rest of us two more months of her hilariously awful Senate bid.

Posted by armand at 01:47 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 04, 2006

Go away for the weekend and the blogosphere starts sucking

Liz, at Granny Gets a Vibrator has deleted her blog.

Massive suckage. I hope her treatment goes well, even if she can't keep writing.

Posted by binky at 07:28 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Tired. Very Tired.

I've been at the American Political Science Association Annual Meeting. I left at noon on Thursday, and got back at midnight Saturday (and got 11 hours of sleep in the middle). Some comments:

1. Political scientists are mostly boring. Everyone wanted to stay around the convention hotel and chat about inside baseball (political sciency things), but not about politics. Few, if any, wanted to argue about American foreign policy, or the upcoming elections, or something interesting. They mostly wanted to talk about who was moving to which departments and about whose article got accepted where.

2. Political scientists dress badly. Lots of blue blazers. Lots of khaki. (The male/female ratio was at least 60/40, if not 65/35; the women didn't dress as badly as the men, but there weren't any fashionistas either.)

3. I did not go to a single panel. I spent my time in the large (ugly) basement-like (it had open ductwork for a ceiling) room attempting to interview for jobs. There are approximately 100 tables set up, with a college at each table. There is a small section where interviewees sit. When the colleges are ready, they come over and get you, and take you back to the table, where you chat about how wonderful you are for half an hour. They never actually tell you if the really liked you, or are just pretending. Thus, interviewees have no actual evaluatory process for determining if the interview went well, or not. At the end of the interview, you either sit and wait for your next one (they are scheduled in advance, so you are not just sitting around hoping to be called), or (if you have sufficient time before your next interview) go off and either see a panel or go wander around downtown Philadelphia. My interviews were mostly an hour apart (leaving neither enough time to go to panels, nor time to wander), except lunch (I had three or four hours there, but there are no panels in the early afternoon).

4. The process for being called for an interview is awful. The convention issues everyone badges, which have your name in large letters on them. So most of the colleges (or, technically, the people representing them) would wander around the interviewees, staring at their chests (I wonder how this went over for the women), and then introduce themselves to the right person. You (the interviewee) were just supposed to sit there and wait for someone to come and get you. Being both passive-aggressive and easily annoyed, I didn't like this system. Thus, I turned my badge over, depriving everyone the ability to just "see" me and get me. They were forced to actually call out my name. I have little power in this job search, but at least I made them say my name. Ha. It's the small victories that make life rewarding.

5. Phily is a nice town. I saw it while the remnants of Ernesto were blowing through, so it was wet and windy. Still, the downtown was nice. I had good food (Pasion and Le Bec-Fin; the former was neuvo latino and very creative, the latter was good, but not great (I expected better, at least) - considering it's reputation), and enjoyed wandering around the area. Not sure if I'd go back for a vacation, but it was a decent conference city.

6. Phily Cheese-Steaks are over-rated. Or, at least, the one I ate (at a highly recommended place) was.

7. Have I mentioned how much I hate the Pennsylvania Liquor/Wine system? Socialism at it's finest: the state buys all the liqour and wine, and then sells it to the public. Thus, you can only choose what wines some bureaucrat has decided are worthy to sell in the state. Staggeringly bad idea. Needless to say, even in some of the finest restaurants in the city (with full time sommeliers), their wine lists were worse than what I could put together in twenty minutes on the internet.

Now that the conference is over, once I catch up on all the work I blew off to get ready for it, blogging should increase in tempo.

Speaking of which, since I was out of touch for four days or so, can anyone explain the Lee Siegel thing to me (I saw it here and here)?

Posted by baltar at 01:50 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

September 03, 2006

The Iraqi Flag Is Banned ... in Northern Iraq

The head of Iraqi Kurdistan has banned the national Iraqi flag from being flown in the region. One more step toward the collapse of what remains of the central government's control over the country?

Posted by armand at 03:41 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 02, 2006

The Video for "The Kill" by 30 Seconds to Mars

Okay, I might be rather late to this party. I didn't even know until this week that Jared Leto had a band. But having been made aware of that fact and having finally seen this video, I have the following question. Should some execs or maybe a video director get some special award for this? I ask because how do you take a man who's one of the best looking guys in the country (ok used to be - but he could be again) outfit him with a band and obviously spend a fair bit of cash on an homage to Stanley Kubrick's brilliant The Shining ... and come up with something so stultifying and dull? It's a neat trick - if a most unfortunate one. OK, true, the oh-so average song can be "awarded" for doing half the work. But still you'd think given all the visual possibilities, well you'd think they could have easily come up with something at least slightly more interesting.

I don't hate this by any means. I'm always in favor of honoring The Shining. But would a little originality have killed them?

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

September 01, 2006

Pittsburgh's Mayor Has Died

Bob O'Connor's brief tenure as mayor has ended. He died at 8:55 tonight.

Former City Council President Luke Ravenstahl was just sworn in as the new mayor. Mayor Ravenstahl had set a record as the youngest person ever elected to the city council. I don't know this for a fact, but I am guessing that he may now be Pittsburgh's youngest mayor. He's a 2002 graduate of Washington and Jefferson College.

UPDATE: Yes, he is the youngest mayor Pittsburgh's had.

Posted by armand at 10:47 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Tonight's Hypothetical - What Kind of SCOTUS Nominee Would a Democrat Appoint?

Well I imagine a lot of people will be traveling over the weekend and not reading the blog. But I'm guessing that among our regular readers at least of couple of you who have (or are working on) law degrees and have an interest in national politics will check in on it, so I bring up the following question.

Say a Democrat is elected president in 2008, and say that there have been no changes in the make-up of the Supreme Court between now and then (that might very well not be the case, but for the sake of argument ...). When President Democrat is sworn on there will be 5 justices who are at least 70 years old (Stevens will be 88, Ginsburg 75, Kennedy and Scalia 72 and Breyer 70). It would seem highly likely that President Democrat would get to name at least one or two judges to the Supreme Court. My question for you is this. What kind of people would President Democrat appoint? And I mean, from what walk of life? This comes up because for well over 30 years every new member of the Supreme Court except for Justice O'Connor has been promoted from a US Circuit Court. However in 2009, that will be an exceedingly thin pool for a Democratic president to choose from. Unless there's a plausible nominee on the 9th Circuit (I don't know a great deal about some of the Clinton appointees on that Circuit) I can think of only 3 Circuit judges (Sotomayor and male judicial hottie Katzmann of the 2nd Circuit and Garland of the DC Circuit) who will be both young enough to be considered and will have the type of legal reputation you would think a Supreme Court nominee will be expected to have. Judge Sotomayor would seem to be an exceedingly likely pick for promotion. But beyond that handful of judges, well, that's a very small pool from which to choose. So if President Democrat was likely to look beyond it, what sort of nominee (and hey, name specific names if you like) do you think they would be likely to choose? A law professor? A state court judge? Someone in private practice? What are your thoughts?

For what it's worth, my guess on this is that the top legal academics will get a long hard look (and wouldn't it be fun if a blogger was consider? someone like a Balkin or a Lessig? though I suppose a Sullivan, Koh or Amar may be more likely), but given that these will be relatively unchartered waters, well, that's just a guess.

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

Is the Fourth Circuit Acting Inconsistently on Religious Speech?

Marci Hamilton argues that it is:

In April of 2005, the Fourth Circuit held, in Simpson v. Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors, that local government can intentionally and publicly discriminate against minority religious denominations. But this month, the Fourth Circuit held in Child Evangelism Fellowship v. Montgomery County Public Schools, that a public school's refusal to permit Christian evangelistic literature in its take-home flyer program was potentially viewpoint discrimination, and, therefore, unconstitutional ...

Perhaps the Fourth Circuit is comfortable with the political universe within which it has been led by these two decisions, or perhaps doctrinal blinders have made it difficult for the court to see the internal inconsistency of these two decisions. Either way, it's made a serious error: The CEF and Simpson cases are not only contrary to the evolution of the Supreme Court's precedent and thinking over the years, they are also in conflict with each other. When the two decisions are taken together, the one internal consistency is that they both benefit Christians.

For whatever it's worth, the panel that ruled in Child Envagelism Fellowship (Judges, Motz, Michael and Shedd) was not a particularly conservative one by the standards of the Fourth Circuit, and included two Clinton appointees. All three judges on the Simpson panel though are indeed staunch conservatives - Williams, Wilkinson and Niemeyer.

Posted by armand at 07:37 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Jay-Z's HP Ad

I really think that the HP Pavilion Notebook ad starring Jay-Z is the best new commercial I've seen on TV in weeks - maybe months.

Posted by armand at 07:13 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Lebanon War - A Boon for Syria as Israel's Blockade Continues?

Far too much of the press coverage on Lebanon since the cease-fire has seemed to suggest - hey, Lebanon can now get on with rebuilding. Well, no, not yet it can't. The Israeli blockade continues and vital shipments of goods are not getting through to those who are still suffering. This problem is likely worse than many realize given that Lebanon imports 85% of its consumer goods. But one interesting point in this nightmare that I haven't seen reported on much if at all on this side of the Atlantic is how this is strengthing Syria - that it's now become a vital transportation conduit, and the sectors of Syria's economy connected to transportation and trade are surging now that Lebanon's ports can't be used.

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

The World's Most Powerful Women?

Agree or disagree - the CEOs of Sara Lee and RiteAid are more powerful than Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and the president of Chile? I ask because apparently Forbes believes that, given the make-up of their list of the most powerful women in the world. Chancellor Merkel tops of the list. Agree? If you were making this list, would you do it differently?

Posted by armand at 01:51 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Light posting weekend

Baltar's at APSA, and I'm going to visit my folks, so we're at reduced staff this weekend (go Armand go!). Rest well, drive safe, and see you next week.

Posted by binky at 11:41 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack