You know sometimes I think criticism of the WVU campus paper goes a wee bit too far. It's not necessarily a fine paper, but it's no worse that many other campus dailies, and is better than some. But today they deserve tons, tons, TONS of criticism. The lead story starts off as follows - "New Jersey became the second state to recognize gay marriage last Wednesday ...". Uh-huh. Except of course ... they didn't actually do that. In fact the majority opinion explicitly stressed it wasn't doing that. Kathryn Gregory (who wrote the DA story) might want to actually look at a judicial opinion before she writes about it. To get something so basic so wrong, and in her first phrase ... lousy journalism.
How was your weekend?
Drive By Truckers (and they seriously gave my favorite band on the planet a run for their money on best show ever)
Duran Duran (who unlike the Cure are neither bloated nor at all boring)
Hot 8 Brass Band
WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED!!!???!!!
I thought X2 was great, but I rented this over the weekend and ... well "atrocity" is the word that leaps to mind. I don't know the last time I saw a movie that bad. Honestly, one doesn't occur to me. Too many of the effects looked stupid, the "acting" is best not mentioned, and the writing is worse than the acting. Painful, so very very painful. And what the hell were some of those characters doing in that movie? Not that I have anything against the characters - but if you get 30 seconds of screen time and have nothing to offer the plot ... uh, why are you there?
Whoever turned this franchise over to Brett Ratner shouldn't be allowed near any Marvel product again, and ... well I'm just at a loss for words. I never imagine that even a bad X-Men movie could be anywhere near that bad.
In case all you've heard about Israeli politics lately is the rape charges being made against President Katsav ...
Avigodr Lieberman is joining the government. Not only that - he's becoming Deputy Prime Minister and Strategic Threats Minister. While most of the Labor leadership is acquiescing to adding Yisrael Beiteinu to the ruling coalition, it's too much for Ophir Pines-Paz to bear. His principles won't let him sit in government with Lieberman, so he's resigning his seat in the cabinet and has announced he'll run for the Labor leadership.
While there seems to be a broad consensus including most everyone outside his family and political organization that the congressman from New Orleans should be denied another term, I'm having some trouble figuring out who I think should replace him. There is a Republican candidate, but several GOP bigwigs, like former Congressman Billy Tauzin, state Sen. (and possible gubenatorial candidate) Walter Boasso, and money chieftan/ party pooh-bah Boysie Bollinger are backing Democratic state Rep. Karen Carter. Carter also has the endorsement of the Times-Picayune and such leaders of the good ole boy side of her party as former US senators John Breaux and Bennett Johnston and former congressman Chris John, plus that of US Senator Mary Landrieu - perhaps no great shock as she's been on the DLC's 100 to Watch list. And of course she's got her family's usual political allies, and several prominent New Orleanian politicians like Jim Singleton and City Council President Oliver Thomas, probably the most popular politician in Orleans Parish. Now that's broad and varied support, but it's being cut into by former city councilman Troy Carter's candidacy. Geographically, he and Karen Carter (no relation) have a similar base, he's polling better than expected, and he has the support of Councilman Arnie Fielkow who's probably the most popular new face in the city's political scence. Which leaves us with state Sen. Derrick Sheperd, who's known to be a more aggressive figure than Karen Carter (she's more of a traditional deal maker and policy wonk), and is also known for his impressively fast rise in political circles over the last few years. He's mostly backed by figures in his West Bank/Jefferson Parish base (which is likely to be a much bigger force in the district post-Katrina), but he's also snagged a few significant endorsements from New Orleans figures like Jackie Clarkson (former city council member and mother of the divine actress) and Audubon Institute head Ron Forman (who was the choice of a lot of the Republican/business-friendly estabilishment in this year's mayoral race). Put all that together and ... I don't know, what do you get? A race in which the cues are confusing, that's for sure.
The pundits seems to be predicting a Karen Carter/Bill Jefferson run-off that Carter will win handily. But at this point it's unclear what's going to happen here. And the polls aren't clarifying the matter.
Nine days from now many of us will be glued to our seats, watching the election returns pour in. There seems to be a wide consensus on both (party) sides of the political pundit class that the Democrats will win control of the US House, though perhaps by only a small margin. The Senate? That seems much less clear. So, I turn it over to you, our dear readers, to tell us what you expect the Senate to look like in 2007. It appears that at this point most of the attention is focused on four races - those in Missouri, Virginia, Tennessee and New Jersey. Sure Debbie Stabenow could be upset or Lincoln Chafee could hang on - but most of the pundit have more or less suggested that the other 29 races clearly lean in one direction or another. But these four have seemed to be toss-ups for weeks. If the Democrats win three of them they'll probably have a Senate majority next year. If not, Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will be the new Senate Majority Leader and the Democrats will have to deal with a much savier fellow running the place than the hapless retiring senator from Tennessee. So which is it going to be? Share your thoughts below.
Just for amusement value, play this in the background while you are surfing the web (yes, it's a video; no, that's not important - the audio track is the important part).
Remember, this was 1986. While this is "Crossfire" (CNN's cancelled-after-John-Stewart-shredded-it show), it's mostly a three-on-one pile on Frank Zappa. His defense is fairly simple: words are free - it's in the Constitution. It's moderately entertaining that 20-years later, we're still arguing about this, and the 1st Amendment is still under attack.
One can debate Zappa's argument that "the greatest threat to America isn't Communism, but a theocratic fascism," (while the videos are clearly more suggestive (score for freedom), the debate over what it is appropriate seems closer to fascism (score for Zappa's Nostradamus abilities)). What no one can deny is that this 20-year-old tape could be played today and not seem dated.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
(Geek Note: Rush noted this over twenty years ago, but who's counting?)
(Hat Tip: The Cunning Realist.)
The problems of New Orleans remain far, far, far from fixed. The latest example of this? Planning is already underway for Mardi Gras 2007 of course, and a big brouhaha has developed over parade routes. Basically, the city doesn't have enough policy to patrol 2 parade routes on the same day (and to be clear Endymion rolls at night while Tucks and Iris roll during the day, so we're not even talking about 2 routes simultaneously). To repeat, the NOPD says it won't have enough police to patrol 2 parade routes in February 2007. Yes, that's a year and a half after Katrina hit.
Stating that Donald Rumsfeld is the best thing to happen to the Pentagon in 25 years ... well, it's such a bizarre notion I don't even know where to begin to critique it. Something akin to saying that Curly Joe was the bestest of the Stooges, and if only the studio would have highlighted him more, love for American comedy would have swept the world in such a wave that the Soviet Union would have crumbled decades earlier. Yeah, the best thing "in 25 years" comment is about as unhinged from reality as that notion.
But apart from the stupidity of the comment, what's with the Republican House Majority Leader apparently taking a huge swipe at the Reagan administration's Pentagon, and the guy who led George H.W. Bush's Pentagon? Have those views suddenly become acceptable among staunch conservatives?
I don't want to count my upsets before they hatch, especially given that last weekend it seemed like half of the top 25 saved itself in the last 3 minutes of their respective games. That said, the Trojans are going to have to come out of a deep hole if they are going to remain undefeated.
I ask, because today Temple won a football game (poor, sad Bowling Green).
Abu Aardvark has a post on the famed Stanford political scientist testifying before a House subcommittee on the nature of civil wars and the situation in Iraq. His appraisal of the situation - depressing but illuminating.
This thread can serve as a general discussion thread for the 2006 election races in our local area. But I'm adding it right now because I have a specific question. Does anyone know anything about the Republican candidate for County Commission? As you know, I'm not a fan of the incumbent Democrat, so I was wondering if there was any reason to think the Republican might be an improvement.
I sometimes think that the importance of newspaper endorsements in high-profile races is overstated. They can matter, but it definitely depends on the circumstances. WIth that in mind I think this one might matter, if only slightly (and slightly matters in a race that's essentially tied). Why? It's a well-known and widely read paper in what's arguably the most "purple" area of the state. And if people read the editorial, not merely the headline, a lot of the reasons they are supporting him are reasons not always associated with Democratoc positions (at least not in parts of Virginia). A lot of it is very personal, and couched in terms that will appeal to independents and even conservatives - so he could gain supporters outside the typical Democratic base.
So with Clemson's loss last night, at the moment it looks like the ACC Championship game will feature the winner of Boston College and Wake Forest (played at Wake on the night of November 4th) playing Georgia Tech. Is this a sign of increasing parity? Or it is that perhaps the ACC is the least impressive major football conference this season?
Since the NJ decision regarding civil unions, and my parents are still married and I can't marry my cat.
An interesting Lieberman-related tidbit from a piece on The Washington Note:
I was in Senator Jay Rockefeller's office the day that Joe Lieberman lambasted on the Senate floor President Clinton for his affair with Monica Lewinsky. Rockefeller was furious with Lieberman and roared that Lieberman had just issued his first salvo in a quest to be Gore's VP running mate. The Lieberman speech happened way before anyone thought he had a chance at the VP slot -- all except Rockefeller, and Lieberman.
This is a few days old, but I think it's still well worth linking to this Olbermann Special Comment (via Crooks and Liars). Of course I'm prone to like it as it hits on what probably bothers me more than anything else about how George W. Bush has run this country for the last 5 years. But I've rarely seen the point better made. The president is indeed a nasty, incompetent bully who's clung to power by scaring the US populace out of its freakin' skull. And for that he should be ashamed of himself - all the more so since the party he leads continues to do it. And since they continue to do it, it behooves the rest of us to call them on their hypocrises, pathetic performance, and scare tactics.
Increased independence on the part of the government:
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki lashed out at the United States Wednesday, saying his popularly elected government would not bend to U.S.-imposed benchmarks and timelines and criticizing a U.S. and Iraqi military operation in a Shiite slum of Baghdad that left at least five people dead and 20 wounded.
Something to keep in mind on election night, especially since so many pundits are predicting small margins of victory, is that winning control that night doesn't mean you'll have it for a full two years. We saw this most recently in 2001 when Senator Jefford left the Republican Party and switched control to the Democrats. But perhaps the best example of this in the last 100 years was what happened in the US Senate in 1953 and 1954 when not one, not two, not three, but nine senators died during that Congress (and another one resigned). In fact both senators from Nebraska died within 3 months of each other. Now I'm not predicting something like this will happen (and I'm surely not hoping for it), but it's just something to keep in mind. Narrow margins of control don't always hold, even in fixed-term election systems.
In case you are looking for reasons join the junior senator from Illinois' bandwagon, Hilzoy can provide you with lots of them.
Well, this is about law, but close enough to The Academy...the Goldilocks problem:
"Women attorneys are criticized for being too little of this or too much of that; not confident enough or too confident; not aggressive enough or too aggressive; not ambitious enough or too ambitious. But women are seldom just right," said Ms. Luce, who also chairs the "Hidden Brain Drain," a task force that helps employers retain women.
The root of the problem is gender bias, and virtually all of us are offenders. Our biases are often unconscious. They operate automatically, distorting information and reinforcing themselves by giving salience to information that is consistent and dismissing that which is not. As a result, our biases skew our first impressions of others, our judgments about their competence, and which facts we recall about their performance.
But when are women vulnerable to gender bias and how do we remove it from our decision-making?
The problem begins with how we view success. The qualities associated with success in law, like other historically male-dominated professions, are defined in stereotypical masculine terms. A successful attorney or businessman is aggressive, assertive and competitive. He's decisive and authoritative. He has unflagging dedication to his career. But stereotypical female qualities seem at odds with this definition of success.
Both men and women judge professional effectiveness according to these gender stereotypes. Women professionals are considered superior at stereotypical female "take care" behaviors like team-building, but men are viewed superior at stereotypical masculine "take charge" behaviors like delegating and influencing superiors, according to the 2005 study "Women 'Take Care,' Men 'Take Charge': Stereotyping of U.S. Business Leaders Exposed" by Catalyst, a research and advisory organization that works to build inclusive environments and expand opportunities for women at work.
Unfortunately for women, "take charge" behaviors are those associated with success in male-dominated professions like law.
As leaders of the legal profession, men also are presumed to be more competent, but lower status groups like women are implicitly assumed to be less competent, said Ellen Ostrow, a psychologist and the founder of Lawyers Life Coach, an organization providing career coaching to women attorneys. Several psychological studies have found that women leaders are judged more negatively than equally skilled men in male-dominated fields but equally competent in female-dominated fields.
Because we tend to remember information that confirms our presumptions, errors committed by female attorneys may be more salient and therefore more likely to be remembered than those committed by male attorneys, who are presumed more competent.
Still, stereotypes regarding male and female professional abilities remain.
"When a moment of low confidence or uncertainty comes from a man, who we presume to be naturally confident, we are more likely to dismiss it than when it comes from a woman, who doesn't benefit from the same presumption," said Ms. Ostrow.
When a woman seems uncertain, speaking softly or using qualifiers, her behavior may reinforce the belief that she is not sufficiently assertive or confident. Supervisors may even begin to question her competence, interpreting a hesitant style as questionable ability.
"My friend was told during her review [at a New York City firm] that her work was excellent but her speaking style made her sound 'unintelligent,'" said an attorney who has worked at two national firms. She explained that her friend frequently uses qualifiers and couches her statements as questions.
Often, women face criticisms and questions of ability that "tend to be about assumptions and expectations regarding appropriate style rather than about the quality of a woman's work-product," said Ms. Luce. For example, if a woman is a consensus-builder and solicits her team's opinion, she may be described as weak. If a woman is friendly or easy-going, colleagues may question whether she is capable of tough negotiation.
Even criticisms that seem gender-neutral, for example, if a woman is viewed as insufficiently proactive or responsive, may be the product of bias and selective recall of information consistent with stereotypes.
Women attorneys "walk a fine line," noted Ms. Ostrow. Qualities that are seen as desirable or acceptable in a man are often criticized in a woman.
"If women behave in ways that are inconsistent with their gender stereotypes, there is often a backlash," she said.
"If a woman is aggressive, she's often seen as too aggressive," Ms. Luce explained, "but a man is a great leader if he's aggressive." If a woman is very demanding, or not particularly nurturing or supportive, subordinates may complain she is difficult to get along with.
If a woman is not overly social, she may be seen as rude.
"Firm leadership criticized me for being difficult to get along with. They said I 'built a wall around myself,'" said a senior associate about her time in the Miami office of a national firm.
Although her work received excellent reviews and she had brought business to the firm, she explained, "I didn't schmooze like my male peers and wasn't flirtatious like my female peers."
Not Less Committed
Women are also disadvantaged by the commonly held stereotype that they are less committed to their careers than men.
When a third-year associate returned to her New York City firm after the birth of her first child, she was given "tedious and boring small assignments," unlike the high-profile work she received before maternity leave, she said. The assigning partner later told the new mother he had given her "low-key" assignments so she could spend more time with her baby.
"I appreciated his intentions," she said, "but, truthfully, I was more angry than grateful. If low-profile work was an option, it should have been my option and not his."
Presumptions regarding commitment, like those regarding style or ability, are deeply embedded. To avoid the influence of bias on decision-making, supervisors must continually re-evaluate their judgments about junior attorneys' competence and performance. Firms also should provide specific training in implicit stereotypes.
Both individuals and firms should pay particular attention to evaluations, which often exaggerate the influence of bias. Supervisors are less likely to focus on hard facts and specific examples in evaluations, and more likely to rely on vague recollections and inaccurate samplings of junior attorneys' behavior. Instead, evaluators should conduct a full and deliberate review of junior attorneys' behavior and work-product.
In addition, "employers need to get underneath soft criticisms and find out what is happening," said Ms. Luce. A junior attorney may simply need a coach or an evaluating attorney may need training in implicit stereotypes or managerial skills.
They almost had me until the "coach" part. Let's see, your employer discriminates against you and engages in (subtle) bias, so you need to spend a fortune hiring a coach to teach you how to appeal to those who discriminate. Riiight.
*A comment I once heard about a female academic. For the unenlightened, the APSR is The Top Journal of the discipline.
Found at Feministing. Which now always makes me think about fisting, thank you Ann Althouse. But I guess that's OK, since I still read Feministing and never really read the pseudo-feminist (law) professor anyway.
When I lived in Brazil, I always bought a calendar/agenda/planner thingy from the anarchists. It was the best calendar I ever had, with everything I needed and nothing I didn't. It also came in fun colors with a sturdy cardboard cover, and was chock full of poems (the last one I got had a bunch of Paulo Leminsky), drawings, quotes, and other goodies.
Today I was wondering if they even make these anymore (a cursory web search gave no satisfaction) and if so, how is it that anarchists make the best planners ever?
GAO report critical of abstinence only sex education. Some addition tidbits:
According to Columbia University researchers, virginity pledge programs increase pledge-takers' risk for STIs and pregnancy. The study concluded that 88 percent of pledge-takers initiated sex prior to marriage even though some delayed sex for a while. Rates of STIs among pledge-takers and non-pledgers were similar, even though pledge-takers initiated sex later. Pledge-takers were less likely to seek STI testing and less likely to use contraception when they did have sex.[20,21] Evaluations of the effectiveness of state-funded abstinence-only-until-marriage programs found no delay in first sex. In fact, of six evaluations that assessed short-term changes in behavior, three found no changes, two found increased sexual activity from pre- to post-test, and one showed mixed results. Five evaluations looked for but found no long-term impact in reducing teens' sexual activity. Analysis of data from Youth Risk Behavior surveys found that sexual activity among high school youth declined significantly from 1991 to 1997, prior to large-scale funding of abstinence-only-until-marriage programs, but changed little from 1999 to 2003 with federal funding of such programs. Analysis of federally funded abstinence-only curricula found that over 80 percent of curricula supported by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services contained false, misleading, or distorted information about reproductive health. Specifically, they conveyed:
- False information about the effectiveness of contraceptives;
- False information about the risks of abortion;
- Religious beliefs as scientific fact;
- Stereotypes about boys and girls as scientific fact; and
- Medical and scientific errors of fact.
And yes, I'm busier than busy, and getting ready to be out of town for a few days. Sorry for the light blogging.
If you enjoy someone who deserves derision being methodically taken apart bit by bit by bit, and receiving the scorn he so richly deserves, you won't want to miss Greg's response to Michael Rubin. To say that the AEI crowd takes it on the chin in this response would be to not give the precise cutting and critique that takes place the respect it deserves. It's a beautifully written and comprehensive take down - positively delicious, and richly deserved.
An interesting ad from the Ned Lamont campaign. I sort of wonder how much of an effect it will have though on people under 40 who don't even vaguely remember Nixon. But it could move those who are wary of another Vietnam.
It's been a while since we've welcomed specific visitors. But hey, a warm welcome to the Intelligence Center Online Network Visitor number 34,007!
army.mil ? (Military) IP Address (Army Information Systems Command) ISP Army Information Systems Command Location
Continent : North America Country : United States (Facts) State : Arizona City : Sierra Vista Lat/Long : 31.5498, -110.1936 (Map) Language unknown Operating System Microsoft WinXP Browser Internet Explorer 6.0
Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1; SV1; .NET CLR 1.1.4322; InfoPath.1)
For old visits, page through the site notes search page.
Uh, What He Said.
I was thinking this, but he said it first:If there's been one thing most galling about the Worst President Ever's era, by the way, it's been having to care about the opinions of rank idiots. That somebody jollily febrile enough to rationalize torture - torture! - or question evolution - evolution?! - is actually in a position to influence my own life one way or another is flat fucking offensive to my strong sense of idiot-free self-deterrmination (very libertarian democrat!). One of the reasons I have a hard time cranking out wingnut takedowns is because, well, they're crazy idiots, and there's only so many ways you can say that before it starts feeling repetitive. I feel bad for Roy, Brad, et al even as I read them: these so-called "wingnuts" - you know, the ones currently wielding every extant lever of power in this country - are self-satisfied fools. All of them! Reading what they have to say, listening to them endlessly recycle the same stale fallacies, cheerfully lying: it can literally make you dumber. It's designed to, their talking points are designed to make you stupid. Wingnuts make stupid arguments because they are not good at thinking. They work, poorly, from incorrect first principles to lousy conclusions. Every time! And I have to care about these people. And we all have to care about what these malignantly stupid fools think. Let us fix this soon! It's embarrassing. All of us who are not like that, which by all evidence should include most people, should be working really hard to not have to care about them, the crazy things they think, and that's sort of the end of the story. Ideology, ideas, whatever. Those people are dangerously deluded and foolish. Let's the rest of us stop them.
I have nothing more to add, other than "When do the grown-ups come back?"
Mini link dump
A couple of interesting things, about which I have been meaning to post, but haven't the time, both in my areas of interest. Hopefully I'll get back to them:
Recess appointment of former Massey Coal exec as the head of MSHA. Yet another ugly tale of the Bush administration.
From Gordo at the Liberal Avenger, a link to the Old Brit speculating about Bush interest in Paraguay. That aquifer is BIG, and something I've studied peripherally. Comments from our regular Southern Cone visitor (you know who you are... de-lurk already)?
Where Are the Schiavo Ads?
Am I the only one surprised that that Schiavo controversy hasn't been used by more Democrats in this year's elections? Apart from Hurricane Katrina I'd be hard pressed to think of a controverys that got people more riled up and got them more riled up on the side of the Democrats. And yet to my knowledge it's only been brought up in a handful of ads across the country. Isn't that surprising - especially since (unlike Katrina) many House Republicans actually have votes they have to explain on the issue?
Yes, it means what Yglesias says it means, not what Mallaby and Team Bush seem to think it means (that behavior is called "talking"). Sadly for the country, Team Bush rarely, if ever, does diplomacy. And of course in more than a few instances they are even opposed to talking.
Pearls on the shore
The NYT titled its article "Stand or Fall."
"As Baghdad goes, so goes Iraq," observed Lt. Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, who commands American forces throughout Iraq.
Like any good child of the 80s, to escape the depression on thinking that it's come to this...salvaging Baghdad... my mind went here:
October 22, 2006
The Prestige vs. The Illusionist
In the battle of the 2006 magician movies I say that The Prestige is the clear winner. The Illusionist was pretty and reasonably diverting entertainment, but it was also predictable and rather light. Not bad by any means, but neither was it exceedingly enlightening or entertaining. The Prestige is much deeper, much darker, and features a lot more twists and turns. If you pay attention you can figure it out (or parts of it at least), but thankfully it's not nearly as obvious as The Illusionist. Christian Bale is excellent, too. So ... neither movie is bad, but if you are looking for twists and depth and a piece of entertainment that'll command your attention throughout, I'd pick the Prestige.
Oh, btw, I finally used NetFlix for a feature film again, and watched Art School Confidential. Yawn. The acting was good, but the script was dull and obvious.
Rising Blogging Insanity
So, there is this big blogging thing happening over at Feministe, where Ann Bartow seems to have threatened to sue one of the owners of Feministe for libel, and reveal the "real" name/address of her as well (see here, here, here, and comentary here).
I can't make any definitive statement about the libel; I'm not a lawyer, and in our justice system anyone can sue anyone for anything - that's the rule. To my untrained eye, what zuzu said about Bartow doesn't look to be libelous.
But I don't want to talk about that. I want to make some comments about blogging "anonymously." There have been blog-fights about this issue before (Atrios and Tacitus come to mind), and I just don't understand why the bloggers-with-real-names get so worked up against the bloggers-with-fake-names. Pseudonymous (fake-name) blogging isn't anonymous. Anonymous implies that no one knows who wrote something, and there is no way to question or hold responsible whoever blogged. That mostly isn't the case on the internet: most pseudonymous bloggers leave an ample email/blog/web presence that allows anyone to contact them. Thus, not anonymous.
People use pseudonyms for a variety of reasons. Some of them may be really legitimate, some not (of course, one person's "legitimate" is another person's "illegitimate"). But there are bloggers who would pay (in reality) for some of the positions they take on the web: the reality is that disagreeing with someone who has power over you (promotions, raises, keeping your job, getting a job, etc.) can result in that power being abused. Thus, some people blog pseudonymously.
(I should note that I blog pseudonymously for a different reason: I teach college. I want my students to form their own opinions on political matters, and I don't want my opinions to become the focus of the class. Thus, I try hard to be neutral in class (how well I succeed is another debate), and blog under a pseudonym so I can talk about politics without the students finding out what my own political beliefs are. It should also be worth noting that the other members of BloodlessCoup may have different reasons for their pseudonyms, or may not. They are fully capable of telling their own stories.)
In the end, it seems, that complaints about "anonymous blogging" are the refuge of people who don't want to engage the ideas of the blogger, but instead seek to use irrelevancies to argue that the blogger's "real" identity is somehow relevant to the larger intellectual discussion. This is just wrong. Ideas are worth debating, and identities are (usually) irrelevant (we'll leave sockpuppetry out of this). Who cares if the person who is wrong about Iraq (or the NFL, or baseball, or the Democratic party, or whatever) is named Fred Smith or RightWingBubba? Does that really matter? Does it really affect any debate you might have?
Let zuzu be zuzu. She probably has a decent reason to go by "zuzu," and not whatever-her-real-name-is.
October 21, 2006
Waiting for the Gay Marriage Ruling in New Jersey
It strikes me that there are only a few things that could happen in the next two and a half weeks that could possibly save the Republican majority in the US House. A pro-gay marriage ruling in New Jersey next week might very well be at the top of that short list. And it's possible we'll see that next week - though it's also possible we won't.
Have you been reading Echidne's series on statistics? If you're not stats jocks like us overtrained ICPSR monkeys, and if you've ever wondered what exactly some stat or poll means, you should read her series of posts (links to the earlier ones inside the post I linked to).
Another "We're All Gonna Die!" Moment - The Korean War?
OMG - things have apparently gotten so bad that the new Republican spin is that not only is Bush Truman (which is an idea they've pushed before, though it's an odd choice given how unpopular he was) but now the Iraq War is the Korean War. There are similarities sure - distasterous choices made by US officials, US officials misreading the likely actions of foreign governments (in ways that gravely harmed US interests and made the situation worse), the place becoming a prolonged, stagnant killing zone. But it's a bizarre choice (unhinged?) to use as the best argument for why the American people should "stay the course". If this is the best analogy they can use for why we should have to current policies and why the American people should stick with those policies ... well I'd say they are definitely going to lose at least one House of Congress next month, and the war is just going to become more unpopular.
October 20, 2006
That fucking Dalai Lama is like my shadow or something
Every quiz I take, he's one of the two people closest to me.
As always, he blinds us with science (in a good way, of course).
As if you had any doubt that the Bush administration hates the Constitution
Moving quickly to implement the bill signed by President Bush this week that authorizes military trials of enemy combatants, the administration has formally notified the U.S. District Court here that it no longer has jurisdiction to consider hundreds of habeas corpus petitions filed by inmates at the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba.
A sad but knowing hat tip to Born at the Crest of the Empire.
This is so what it feels like
the purgatorio of the dissertation, a phase of human devolution about which I have absolutely nothing positive or inspiring to offer. For much of the 3.5 years I spent working on mine, I greeted each morning with a millstone of despair hanging around my neck, the weight lifted only slightly by the realization that I might be flattened at any moment by a city bus or a plummeting aircraft. However small that chance might have been, it offered me a reason to shuffle out of bed. One day while I was staring numbly at the walls, a group of marginally literate gnomes broke into my apartment and wrote 314 pages of prose, which I promptly submitted under my own name to the University of Minnesota.
Yet More Proof That John Yoo Doesn't Belong in Positions of Power, and Probably Shouldn't Be in the Classroom
Moron - mean-spirited, presumptuous and nasty too, but the key problem of course is that he seems to lack the slightest (accurate) understanding of one of the most important Supreme Court rulings in years.
October 19, 2006
YouTube Is Going to Be the Death of Me
Or me as a productive member of society ...
But c'mon, as a long-time fan of Mama's Family how could I not spend 22 minutes watching an episode ("Rashomama") that not only features Betty White and Carol Burnett, but is based on a classic of 20th century cinema?
J.D. Hayworth (R-AZ) Has Always Been Oafish, But Still ...
... this is freakin' incredible. And that last word is chosen carefully. That something like this could occur in our political reality takes a moment to get one's head around.
When Mark Foley Was a Teenager ...
Ummm, can anyone explain to me why this is currently the lead story on The Washington Post's website?
October 18, 2006
University ballrooms are not the best venues, confirmed tonight before leaving the Wilco show early. Plus, I hate to say it, but Wilco was boring. Especially after seeing Drive By Truckers on Sunday. That the sound mix was like mud did not help.
At least Baltar can redeem himself by seeing Gwar tomorrow night. Maybe he will take and post pictures. We could have a Gwar corollary to my report from patchouliland. Baltar reports in from spewing-meat-and-gushing-blood land?
Music Scenes and Nostalgia
I'm sitting here getting ready to go see Wilco tonight at the university ballroom. I'm a little apprehensive, as anything in a university ballroom is likely to be a little too squeaky and bright.
It's got me thinking about the last times I saw something in a university ballroom. Outside at the university? I cought two songs of the Roots a couple of months ago. In a basketball arena? I saw the Flaming Lips in Fairfax on the Yoshimi tour. And I saw the Monkees at the O-Dome in Gainesville. The Reitz Union ballroom was the last time I've seen a show at a student union (until tonight, that is). And who did I see at the Reitz Union?
Debbie GIbson and the Violent Femmes
No! Not together!
I got dragged to see Debbie Gibson by the cute boy Dave from next door in Beatty Towers, the one who wasn't out yet, but we were all waiting and hoping would be able to be soon (except one of my roommates who was waiting and hoping for him to be straight so he could be hers). Debbie Gibson was still a kid, and she wasn't bad at all. Very much a showperson, and it doesn't surprise me at all that she ended up on Broadway. She even did a really lively version of Crocodile Rock, probably because someone on her team thought it would be cute to play a song about crocodiles for a bunch of Gators.
And I saw the Violent Femmes with a boy named Rusty, who was a fellow poli sci major. I was really fond of Rusty, which, reading that now, you must know means the kiss of death, and every boy-who-invites-a-girl-to-a-concert's least favorite words, along with "I really like you as a friend." I don't know what it was about Rusty. He was definitely hot. He was dark and brooding. He was an artist, but tortured, because he had to be in ROTC to pay for school, and they didn't let you major in stuff like art. And he had chosen the Marines (I remember he said that he did it for the challenge) so he was really fit. He was unerringly polite, and very sweet. He was very very smart. And I was totally clueless. We would study together. I went to his apartment complex to swim in the pool and study. We went to a show. But somehow, the day that he leaned over and kissed me, it was a total surprise. I wasn't repulsed or offended. I wasn't thrilled. I just... wasn't. And when he told me that on his summer vacation to Berlin he had spray-painted my name on the Berlin Wall, I felt like the biggest shithead ever.
My involvement with the regular music scene in Gainesville was more peripheral. It seemed like everyone I lived around was in a band. One of the guys on the hall was in a band called Bumble. It was bass led, and as I recall, there weren't really any vocals to speak of. His girlfriend Karin had a band called Touch and Go Bullethead. She was close with my roomie Jen, and they were all close friends with and hung out with the Mutley Chix at the Blue House downtown. The story was that Jen even met the members of the Red Hot Chili Peppers at an after party there, and ended up driving around Florida with them on part of their tour. There were bands with great names that totally didn't live up to them, like Aching Void (industrial... I think they were beating on pieces of metal or something... very arty, but not my thing so maybe they were good after all). Or dumb names that were still really fun and appropriate for the time, like the Trash Chute Arsonists (people who lived in Beatty and other dorms would send flaming pizza boxes down the trash chutes both to watch them go and to cause fire alarms in the middle of the night to make all the dorm dwellers head outside in their jammies). People used to go to MFP (My Friends Place) which was a gay bar, then an "alternative" scene, and ended up getting taken over by frat boys like everything else in Gainesville. We'd eat at Kesel's Coney Island down by the Hippodrome. People went dancing at the Vatican, the protoGoths calling themselves Progressives, back in the day when there was still a lot of earnest distinction about the difference between kinds of skinheads (racist and not) by the color of their bootlaces. Jen would come hom covered in bruises from slam-dancing, and then stay up to paint on acid. I remember walking around the neighborhood behind the Krystal burger (where Brother Jed supposedly converted the future Sister Cindy to Jesus and a path to being proud of being her husband's servant) with Jen when she didn't want to be alone eating maybe too many mushrooms.
Again, I was totally clueless. I'll never forget Karin saying to me "you're pretty cool for a preppie." I didn't even know I was a preppie. Fuck, I didn't know that there was such a thing as a preppie. I was just a kid from the south Florida suburbs.
So, yeah, I was a preppie.
And once, just once, I tried my hand at charity concert promoting. I was getting into the Latin American student activism thing, and protesting apartheid, and trying to save the world from Gainesville. There were Mayan refugees in Florida, near Indiantown, who had moved their whole town from Guatemala to escape the genocide. One of my professors worked with their community, and I had been to the Yucatan part of Mexico near Chiapas and Guatemala. Needless to say, I was very earnest. And so I'm not sure how it happened, but I volunteered or was volunteered to organize this benefit concert, that would start with Mayan marimba players, and end with local bands.
Have I said, I was totally clueless?
It was at the Hogsbreath Saloon on 13th Street. I never thought to see if any of the bands had their own amps, and the Hogsbreath pretty much extorted money from the charity concert to cover rental of their built in equipment. I ran the door and checked ID. The folks from Guatemala came early, and left quickly, as did the professors. The only band I remember for sure playing was Touch and Go Bullethead, with Karin. In the fog I remember some guy named Rusty who had blond dreads. I'm pretty he played in both Bumble and TaGB, but I wouldn't swear. I think we were there for hours, and made like three hundred bucks. But we felt really noble. And my poor older sister came over from Tampa and sat through some of it like a good sibling, until she went home to my little apartment with the tiny Guatemalan ladies who had come up for the event and were staying there for the night.
And in thinking of all this, I went seaching for an old website called the Gainesville Bands Family Tree, that listed all those bands, and people, and their connections. There was even a movie that included the Gainesville punk scene. It looks like, in the last year, that the family tree has faded away. But while searching for it I found Snarkland, which is mostly not about the Gainesville music scene, but had a thread which turned into old home week of Gainesille bands. Some of them I had seen, some that I had heard, some I wished I had seen, and of course, Aleka's Attic which was famous mostly because it had River Phoenix in it. The list had the Smegmas, which were one of the most well-known in the area at the time, Less Than Jake, which is one of the best known over all, and the Psychic Violents, who my roomie Jen talked about all the time. The thread even had a dust up with a guy using the name Rusty, who I have to assume was the white kid with the blond dreads.
There was no mention of Cindy Brady's Lisp, but hey, who ever said the internets had to indulge my nostalgia?
More stuff not to forget
FBI Director Robert Mueller on Tuesday called on Internet service providers to record their customers' online activities, a move that anticipates a fierce debate over privacy and law enforcement in Washington next year.
"Terrorists coordinate their plans cloaked in the anonymity of the Internet, as do violent sexual predators prowling chat rooms," Mueller said in a speech at the International Association of Chiefs of Police conference in Boston.
Because anyone who wants not to be monitored or opposes this kind of surveillance must be a terrorist or a pedophile.
The speech to the law enforcement group, which approved a resolution on the topic earlier in the day, echoes other calls from Bush administration officials to force private firms to record information about customers. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, for instance, told Congress last month that "this is a national problem that requires federal legislation."
Justice Department officials admit privately that data retention legislation is controversial enough that there wasn't time to ease it through the U.S. Congress before politicians left to campaign for re-election. Instead, the idea is expected to surface in early 2007, and one Democratic politician has already promised legislation.
Oh yeah, that was my emphasis. "Ease it through." Just reading that makes me feel like I need a bath.
The End of Admiral Cain
So over the last couple of days I took a break from my recent dvd trend (episode after episode of Veroncia Mars, season 1) to take a look at the first few episodes of Battlestar Galactica 2.5 (an irritating marketing gimic). Since I know some of you have already watched these, I'm just throwing a question out there: What do you think of what they did to Admiral Cain (such subtle naming those writers employ)? To me that was way too easy and basically a cheat. And this on one of the few (very, very, very few) series that purports to deal with really serious topics and deep moral problems. Were ya'll as underwhelmed as I was? Does it make more sense later on?
Who Gets Congressional Pensions?
A same-sex spouse of a member of Congress who's died? No. A member of Congress who's facing 10 years in jail for taking bribes? Yes.
How Does One Explain Nicole Richie?
Oh, now I get it.
October 17, 2006
Venezuela and Guatemala - The Fight on First Avenue
Hey if it worked in Florida in 2000 ...''In the year 2000, I spent 31 days in Florida,'' Bolton told reporters at one point, referring to the long U.S. presidential election recount. ``This has just begun.''
Nonetheless, you'd hope that voting at the UN over a seat on the Security Council wouldn't be compared to one of the low points in American democracy. And you'd really hope that the comparison wouldn't be made by the US Ambassador to the United Nations. But sadly ...
I feel a little bad for Guatemala. I imagine the US strong-arming on this issue might be doing them more harm than good. But perhaps they will still prevail. They have been in the lead, but have been unable to secure the 2/3's vote needed to win the seat on the Security Council. There have already been 10 rounds of voting, and there's still no winner for this seat (for the place on the Security Council currently filled by Argentina - Peru will fill the other Americas seat through 2007). The countries that have been elected to serve on the Security Council in 2007-2008 are South Africa, Indonesia, Italy and Belgium. Of those four, only Indonesia faced a contested race, and it easily beat Nepal.
Who even knew it was possible to have a quarterback rating of 10.7? But two things NFL fans know well, are that 1) the Cardinals often find a way to lose, and 2) the Bears have a tremendous defense. So even though Rex Grossman played one of the worst games an NFL quarterback has ever had, and his team was down 20 points in the 3rd quarter, well, the Bears still found a way to win. Final score: Chicago 24, Arizona 23.
October 16, 2006
Evidently "bushit" is obscene
This is why I harp not on the intent behind laws, but also the consequences of having idiots and authoritarians enforcing them:
Denise Grier, 47, of Athens, Georgia, got a $100 ticket in March after a DeKalb County police officer spotted the bumper sticker, which read "I'm Tired Of All The BUSH**."
Levinson's "Our Broken Constitution"
Since Moon and I are going back and forth on the presidential succession I figured it would be a good time to link to this op-ed in today's Los Angeles Times on our remarkably undemocratic founding documnet. Parts of it may merit veneration, but parts of it are a mix of a trainwreck and a travesty, and those should be changed - soon.
Small venue: check.
Older-than-18-years, non-wet-behind-the-ears, enthusiastic crowd: check.
Pyro: Nope.Lasers: Huh?
Smoke: only from cigarettes.
Cigarettes: so many that it looked like professional smoke.
Video Screens: No.
Disco Balls: None.
Velvet Elvis in front of the Drum Kit: Yup.
Elaborate set bringing to life themes from recent CD: Uh, they had two paper mache crows with light-up eyes that didn't work right. That's high art for them.
Three guitars: check. (Plus a pedal steel.)
References to Molly Hatchet: check.
Beers consumed by band: Oh, about half a case.
Liquor Consumed by Band: bottle of Jack Daniels.
How long did it last: about two-thirds of the way through the set. Then they asked for another.
How soon should I go see them: Soonish. They'll die of liver failure or lung cancer before they'll stop touring, but given how much of both they were consuming, that might not be long.
Massive drum kit: No. Looks like he had about six drums, and three cymbals.
Massive number of guitars piled next to the stage: yes, but they only used about four.
Number of times the band thanked the audience for coming out on a Sunday night: about half a dozen.
Number of times you felt they actually meant it: every time.
Number of tamborines, flutes, organs, kazoos, harmonicas, or other unnecessary crap: None.
Two-and-a-half-hour set on a Sunday night before only about 500 people: Check.
Did they care that they didn't sell out a stadium: Nope.
Ticket price, with all charges, fees, and everything: $22.50. (Fuck you, Rolling Stones.)
Seeing great set of no-frills musicians play their asses off: priceless.
God Damn, that was a good show. Drive By Truckers.
Not paying attention
That means I totally missed this:
In a little-noticed action taken nearly four years ago, the House amended its rules dealing with the "continuity of Congress" in emergencies and the succession of speakers. The rule, cited recently in Roll Call, directs the speaker to "deliver to the Clerk a list of Members in the order in which each shall act as Speaker pro tempore . . . in the case of a vacancy in the office of Speaker."
Normally, "speaker pro tempore" is the title given for a few hours at a time to various members of the majority who preside over House sessions. But the rules revision made in January 2003, in response to worries about terrorist strikes that could wipe out large numbers of elected officials, appears to bestow upon a newly named replacement all the powers enjoyed by a full-time speaker elected by his peers.
That would include standing behind only the vice president in the line of presidential succession, said Sally Collins, spokeswoman for House administrators. But other House officials said it is extremely unlikely that a speaker pro tempore could assume the presidency before Congress would reconvene and elect a new speaker.
One thing is certain: The identity of the speaker-in-waiting is a closely held secret. Hastert's office declined to discuss the matter, citing security concerns, and the clerk's office confirmed only that Hastert's list is not made public.
Perhaps the biggest question, some lawyers say, is whether a House speaker -- full time or pro tempore -- can assume and keep the presidency under any circumstance. A statute, not the Constitution, lists the speaker's place in the line succession.
A case can be made that no one in Congress qualifies as an "officer" eligible to assume the presidency under Article II of the Constitution, said Neil Kinkopf, a professor of law at Georgia State University. The question may never be settled, he said, because the Supreme Court would take it up only if a speaker became president and someone challenged the action in court.
As for nightmarish constitutional what-ifs, Kinkopf said, "Imagine where the presidency falls not to the speaker, but to somebody on the speaker's secret list."
October 15, 2006
The Oct. 21 Tilt Between the Big East Cinderellas
There are a lot of things no one would have predicted at the start of the year. Joe Lieberman loses the Democratic primary in Connecticut? The implosion of the Tom Reilly campaign and the momentum behind the Deval Patrick campaign in Massachusetts? Crash wins Best Picture? Okay, maybe that last one wasn't entirely unpredictable (though it remains so very, very wrong). But way up there near the top of the list of things you didn't think you'd see in '06 has to be an undefeated Rutgers team facing a one-loss Pittsburgh team in late October. It's hard for me to get my head around that reality.
Ugly Periods in US (well, Massachusetts) History - Executing Quakers
Massachusetts Bay Colony was a loathsome place: freedom of speech - no; freedom of travel - no; freedom of religion - no; freedom from religion - no; execution for believing in your religion - yes.
October 14, 2006
In lieu of writing
An on-target post from Amanda:
In terms of actual use, hormonal contraception reminds me most of insulin. Insulin was invented to deal with an inborn medical issue that could, in theory, be controlled through abstemious behavior. But in real world terms, abstaining from eating all but a bit of meat here and there was not workable and was also a huge quality of life issue. It’s eventually fatal for a lot of diabetics, even if they do follow the strict diet, but it’s also noteworthy that repeated child-bearing isn’t so good for your health, either, and has been fatal in the past. But even if diabetes wasn’t life-threatening, I doubt anyone would actually begrudge diabetics their insulin, or begrudge them the drastic improvement to their quality of life, even just because they can eat more food and more varieties of food. If you suggested to a diabetic that eating a sandwich was wildly irresponsible, as if they aren’t demonstrating responsibility by measuring their blood sugar and dosing themselves with insulin, you’d rightly be called an asshole. And probably crazy.
There are other things going on keeping us from the keyboard. Armand hosting out of town guests, Baltar filling in for a colleague with a family emergency, and me both with an out-of_town guest and a disgusting broken washing machine which I have spent the last hour bailing/siphoning of its pungent contents in preparation for the nice delivery people from Lowes for which I am also clearning all the shit (figuratively speaking) blocking the doors in the basement and am about to go outside to clear the shit (real, dog variety) in the yard blocking the path to the basement doors.
Have a nice weekend, folks.
October 12, 2006
You've Got a Bit of a Shoplifting Prolem
So I began watching Veronica Mars on dvd a couple of weeks ago. And between her spunkiness, her crime-solving abilities and her acerbic wit I'd already become a Veronica Mars fan. And considering the writing and the appealing cast I'd become a Veronica Mars fan too. But I just finished episode 12 of season 1 last night, and I've got to say that when she started sining a Blondie song I almost lost it. I mean, what can't she do? I'm really looking forward to the rest of the season - and the series.
It really is neat
John McCain's Lame Attacks on Clinton Over North Korea
John McCain (R-Media & Big Government) is frequently a proponent of scary and/or potentially disasterous policy proposals - but my oh my does he play politics well. And for that the media goes all rhapsodic over his every (wrong) word.
Or most of it does. It's nice that we still have Fred Kaplan to call him on his bullshit:
It should be noted that the bomb that the North Koreans set off on Sunday was apparently a plutonium bomb, not a uranium bomb. In other words, it was a bomb made entirely in Bush's time, not at all in Clinton's ...
At the end of 2002, when the North Koreans really did unlock the rods and kick out the inspectors—when they crossed what Clinton had called the "red line"—Bush didn't take military action, he didn't call for sanctions, nor did he try diplomacy. It's Bush, not Clinton, who did nothing.
And while we're on the subject of Bushes doing nothing, George H.W. Bush, the president's father, had just moved into the White House in 1989 when the CIA discovered that the North Koreans were building a reprocessing facility near their nuclear reactor at Yongbyon—the facility that could manufacture plutonium from the fuel rods. Five years later, Bill Clinton stopped them from moving the rods into this facility. Eight years after that, George W. Bush let them go ahead.
The rest is history. John McCain would do well to read up on it sometime.
The Government of Turkey is Having an Awful Week
Between Orhan Pamuk winning the Nobel literature prize, and France's new law (or probable law - it's been approved by the lower house of parliament) making it illegal deny the Armenian genocide you've got to figure a lot of painkillers are getting passed around in Ankara - and the ever growing tide of Turkish nationalism is likely getting stronger too.
Mark Warner Decides NOT to Run!?!
Wow - this would be big news, presuming it's accurate (and we'll know soon). And my first impression is to say that it's yet another bright spot in John Edwards' 2006 (the guy is having an amazing political year).
October 11, 2006
W and the Saudis (or at least Bandar)
Quite a lot of the left-leaning blogs have noted the section of the latest Bob Woodward book were presidential candidate George W. Bush is deeply befuddled about why he should care about North Korea (and, relatedly, his deep disdain for the idea that he should read reports or even history (gasp!) on the subject. Now I think it's entirely fair to note this and show it as yet another sign of a clueless, disinterested, incurious president who doesn't want to be bothered with detail and can only see things in somewhat sloppy 96-point terms (a situation that every foreign policy decision making scholar would tell you is rife for foreign policy catastrophes, but hey, the FPDM section at ISA doesn't get to pick the president). But that's ground we've covered before, and his disinterest in North Korea has long been clear. I think the appalling, perhaps most deeply troubling thing, about the passage though is this - the current president of the United States relying on the expertise of the Saudi ambassador to the United States to create his worldview. Ummm, isn't that a wee bit of a problem? Maybe I should pay more attention to those books about the Bush family and the Saudis.
Of freedom, country, and military service.
The Navy lawyer who led a successful Supreme Court challenge of the Bush administration's military tribunals for detainees at Guantanamo Bay has been passed over for promotion and will have to leave the military, The Miami Herald reported Sunday.
Lt. Cmdr. Charles Swift, 44, will retire in March or April under the military's "up or out" promotion system. Swift said last week he was notified he would not be promoted to commander.
He said the notification came about two weeks after the Supreme Court sided with him and against the White House in the case involving Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a Yemeni who was Osama bin Laden's driver.
Swift's supervisor said he served with distinction.
"Charlie has obviously done an exceptional job, a really extraordinary job," said Marine Col. Dwight Sullivan, the Pentagon's chief defense counsel for Military Commissions. He added it was "quite a coincidence" that Swift was passed over for a promotion "within two weeks of the Supreme Court opinion."
Washington, D.C., attorney Eugene Fidell, president of the National Institute of Military Justice, said Swift was "a no-brainer for promotion." Swift joins many other distinguished Navy officers over the years who have seen their careers end prematurely, Fidell said.
"He brought real credit to the Navy," Fidell said. "It's too bad that it's unrequited love."
Hat tip to Hoffmania.
October 10, 2006
And in contrast to the serious post on race...
...we have animated album art.
Stolen from a Non-Lipper, as usual.
Out of my area of expertise
Since I'm not a critical theorist and don't have a whole lot of training in race and culture, there's not a lot of context I can put on this, but this whole Angelina Jolie as Marianne Pearl thing is bothering me.
On the one hand, Pearl herself has been said to be fine with the choice of actress. I mean, hell, if they even made a movie with me in it, I'd be glad if Phyllis Diller was cast as me.
More seriously, on the other hand, did they have to go the white-actress-in-dark-makeup-and-ethnic-hair route? If they went white actress, there would be accusations of erasing a woman of color. I get that. And not knowing Pearl's personal politics of race, or much at all about the casting, it's presumptuous of me to suggest that they should get a Black actress, because that is equally as problematic in that it would be outsiders assigning race. One of the things I do know about multicultural identity is that there are serious problems associated with the highly offensive "what are you" question, and the likelihood that anyone who identifies as Black plus anything else is assumed to be Black (with associated negative stereotypes). So far be it from me to be the arbiter of Pearl's race or racial identity.
I've already seen a good bit of criticism of the decision to cast Jolie. And I'm not sure how to engage this discussion. However it strikes me as (at minimum) a tone deaf move on the part of the studios, and at worst (or as normal) an indication of the status of actors of color (invisible?).
Bush on North Korea - "It Takes Time"
"Maybe you know more than I do ..."
If you can endure it - deal with the chills that run down your spine as you flash to one of those "we are so fucked" or "we're all gonna die!" moments - you really should read this exchange between the president and the press.
October 09, 2006
So Who Got Foreign Policy Right? And Where Should You Study IR?
I spent part of the afternoon filling out a survey which included a number of interesting questions. Among them two made me really ponder the question for a moment, and I'd be interested to hear what ya'll would say about them (these aren't the precise questions, but this is the gist of 'em). First, since 1901 which 3 presidents have done the best job at foreign policy? Second, which 5 universities would you say would best train a graduate student for an academic career in IR?
As to the first question, well, FDR is the obvious #1 to me, given that his work designed so much of the (very successful from the US perspective) world that we live in today. I picked Eisenhower second, and for my 3rd pick I went with Theodore Roosevelt - though it was kind of a toss-up between him and Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush.
As to my answers on the second question I picked Columbia, UCSD (or the UCSD of a few years ago at least - I'm not up on its ins and outs just lately), Ohio State, the University of Washington , and ... I forget my 5th school. Minnesota maybe?
Anyway, to some degree those were top-of-the-head responses. But I thought they were interesting questions. So what do you think?
Jordan's "Really Great Strides"
Oy. So is this yet another example of 1) Condi lying, 2) Condi being incompetent and not knowing what's going on in the world, or 3) the Bush administration's shockingly low standards for political "evolution"?
Don't Panic, Yet.
Uh, don't look now, but I think we have a fairly significant foreign policy crisis:
North Korea said Monday it has performed its first-ever nuclear weapons test and the blast had been successfully set off underground with no radioactive leakage from the site.
An official at South Korea's seismic monitoring center confirmed a magnitude-3.6 tremor felt at the time North Korea said it conducted the test was not a natural occurrence. The official spoke to The Associated Press on condition his name not be used, because he was not authorized to talk about the sensitive information to the media.
Note to Pundits and Politicians: Can we please stop talking about Foley, now, and discuss this? It's sort of important.
October 08, 2006
What Katrina Wrought - The Destruction of the Trees
I can't imagine New Orleans without its trees. It was so verdant, so lush, the green canopy was so deep ... but, sadly, no more.Jean Fahr, executive director of the New Orleans nonprofit Parkway Partners Program, said some foresters project that the city lost 70 percent of its urban forest. “We’ve never seen such a loss in the history of the United States,’’ she said, noting that the southern Florida area struck by Hurricane Andrew in 1992 lost 45 percent of its tree canopy.
October 07, 2006
An Actual Democratic Plan (And a Self-Inflicted Heimlich Manuever)
Via Crooks and Lians, an actual Pelosi-endorsed plan for when the Democrats take back the House of Representatives:
As in the first 100 hours the House meets after Democrats - in her fondest wish - win control in the Nov. 7 midterm elections and Pelosi takes the gavel as the first Madam Speaker in history.
Day One: Put new rules in place to "break the link between lobbyists and legislation."
Day Two: Enact all the recommendations made by the commission that investigated the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Time remaining until 100 hours: Raise the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour, maybe in one step. Cut the interest rate on student loans in half. Allow the government to negotiate directly with the pharmaceutical companies for lower drug prices for Medicare patients.
Broaden the types of stem cell research allowed with federal funds — "I hope with a veto-proof majority," she added in an Associated Press interview Thursday.
All the days after that: "Pay as you go," meaning no increasing the deficit, whether the issue is middle class tax relief, health care or some other priority.
These are all fairly reasonable positions. You can certainly debate their usefullness, but at least the Republicans shouldn't be able to claim that the Democrats don't have a plan. I'll note that the entire list is domestic, expect for implementing the 9/11 Commission recommendations (which is mostly domestic, but refers to terrorism, which is international).
[Cough. Hack.] Sorry, must have something stuck in my throat. [Hack. Cough. Cough.]
WHAT ABOUT IRAQ? YOU KNOW, THE DAMN COUNTRY WHERE 130,000+ AMERICAN SOLDERS ARE LIVING, AND DON'T SEEM TO EITHER BE WINNING OR COMING HOME. HOW CAN YOU PUT OUT A SET OF POLICY POSITIONS AND NOT ADDRESS THE SINGLE LARGEST FOREIGN POLICY ISSUE THAT FACES THIS COUNTRY. ARE YOU MORONS? THIS IS WHY, IN THE FACE OF MASSIVE REPUBLICAN IDIOCY AND CORRUPTION, THE DEMOCRATS CONTINUE TO STRUGGLE TO GAIN VOTES. WAKE UP YOU ASSHOLES, OR YOU WILL LOSE THIS ELECTION.
Damn. No wonder I was choking. Sorry about that.
[Mutters under breath, to self] Fucking Democrats couldn't win an election if they were the only ones running.
Argentina's Least Favorite Ships in Brazil's Navy?
Ah the things you learn on Wikipedia. For example, did you know that two Brazilian frigates (the Greenhalgh and the Dodsworth) were once British warships (the Broadsword and the Brilliant)and fought in the Falklands War (against, of course, Brazil's regional rival, Argentina)?
The Daily Show Is More Substantive Than Network News
Of course you already knew that, didn't you? But it's always nice to have a research project confirm one's knowledge.
CVN 77 is Christened
Can we please call it the "H W"? I'd really hate to think that the navy is going to be saddled for decades with a six billion dollar warship that's regularly called the George Bush. Plus, doesn't that name basically plaster a giant target on its side? Blah. I hate naming navy ships after politicians (and yes, I realize that the president's father was a navy pilot - but if you are going to play that card to defend the use of the name, then by tradition it would be much more appropriate to name a destroyer after the former president).
October 06, 2006
Yum - Anise Almond Biscotti and Liquid Eggplant
Uh, no - I don't mean together. But hey, in the last 24 hours I've discovered two tasty treats in Morgantown. The anise almond biscotti at The Blue Moose Cafe, and the eggplant soup at Mercury. OK, maybe neither one is fall-on-your-knees-and-worship-it food (like the pot de creme at Mercury) - but both are quite tasty and very satisfying for ... well, the kinds of cravings they are supposed to sate.
A List! We Have A List! Who To Blame for the Decline Of Western Civilization!
Now we can name names:
The next morning, Mr. Luce led the crowd in an exercise in which they wrote on scraps of paper all the negative cultural influences, brand names, products and television shows that they planned to excise from their lives. Again they streamed down the aisles, this time to throw away the "cultural garbage."
Trash cans filled with folded pieces of paper on which the teenagers had scribbled things like Ryan Seacrest, Louis Vuitton, "Gilmore Girls," "Days of Our Lives," Iron Maiden, Harry Potter, "need for a boyfriend" and "my perfect teeth obsession." One had written in tiny letters: "fornication."
Now we know. When America goes down the cultural shitter, we can blame soap operas, heavy metal (gee, PMRC never died, did it?), good leather, fictional magical boys, and fucking. I had no idea. Well, I suppose we always new Vuitton was up to no good: he was such a shifty bastard. I'm not surprised he's trying to ruin everything.
The context of this is a NYT article with the headline "Evangelicals Fear the Loss of their Teenagers," and the story describes a recent (disputed) study that finds that only 4% of Christian teenagers are likely to remain Christian as they grow up. This statistic is causing panic among Christian parents, who fear losing their children (whom they have worked so hard to isolate from the rest of society in order to save their souls). As a consequence of this, there is a rising tide of "Pop Culture" Christian gatherings (my phrase), where an evangelical religious message is combined with all the "popular" elements of today's culture: music, videos, stage shows (with pyro!), and other theatrics. It is hoped that this will stave off armegeddon.
I suppose one way of keeping the faith would be for evangelicals to practice more Christian values, like loving their neighbor, forgiveness, charity, and service. And perhaps less non-Christian values like hate, division, persecution, fear and isolation. That way, living a worthy and lauditory lifestyle, with charity and compassion for all, you'll encourage more people (young and old) to follow in those footsteps.
Naw. It's probably easier to ban Harry Potter.
(The irony here is that, as I compose this, I'm listening to the new Iron Maiden, which is their strongest release in years. I don't feel satanic. Is that tingly, or more of a burning sensation?)
It Didn't Take Long, Part III
"State of Denial," page 254.
It was all Bremer's fault.
No, seriously. That's the claim that the people Woodward interviews are making. A remarkably large number of people are going on record (again, both directly and indirectly) as saying that Bremer was a control freak, lacked management skills, failed to tell Washington DC what he was doing, and made up his own policies (didn't take direction from DC). People running with this line: Gingrich, Rice, Wolfowitz (not so clearly), and a few important-but-unknown people in Republican foreign policy circles.
Woodward reports that everyone in Washington saw two potential plans for how to run Iraq: a MacArthur-In-Japan model where Bremer was basically a dictator, and a Karzai-in-Afghanistan model where as quickly as is humanly possible local officials are given power and authority. According to Woodward, everyone in Washington agreed that the Karzai model was the right one to follow (including Bremer in his pre-going-to-Iraq discussions), but that Bremer unilaterally choose the MacArthur model (without consulting or even informing anyone in DC). Bremer didn't participate in Woodward's book, so all Woodward can do to defend Bremer is quote from Bremer's book. This is insufficient as a defense, since people are making specific allegations to Woodward about Bremer, and Bremer's book isn't a defense against those allegations. Bremer comes off looking like an idiot, and primarily at fault for the whole mess.
Be interesting to know if any of this was actually true, wouldn't it.
Oh, Rumsfeld remains a complete idiot. By September of 2003 he has completely washed his hands of any active involvement in Iraq, even though Bremer's chain of command goes directly to him.
Almost half way through!
October 05, 2006
It Didn't Take Long, Part II.
State of Denial, by Woodward, page 179.
This is really a facinating book. It's very different from "Bush at War" and "Plan of Attack" (previous books by Woodward; the first about Afghanistan, the second about Iraq up to the day of invasion); in this, Woodward clearly interjects himself. There are often asides about what "he" (Woodward) was doing, or whom he was interviewing, or the interview process ("I asked Rumseld about this in 2006..."). This is not the approach Woodward used in the two previous books. I'm not sure what this means (I'm only a third of the way through), but my anecdotal take is that Woodward is arguing that there were some serious screwups, mostly in the Pentagon. The first two books clearly attempted to be neutral (the first, "Bush at War," was seen by Bush supporters as favoring the President; the second, "Plan of Attack," was used by partisans on both sides as evidence of either Bush's successes or failures, depending on your political persuasion.) This book ("State of Denial"), however, is clearly more antagonistic to the administration. Woodward's interjections of himself into the narrative seem to be a way for Woodward to take a position on the decisions (a negative one).
A scorecard: Rumsfeld - Bad like you can't believe; Cheney - Mysterious and Powerful; Bush - Out of His Depth (though Bush is only a minor character so far); Rice - Way, Way out of Her Depth; Garner - the Tragic Hero; the Uniformed Military - Abused Endlessly by Rumsfeld.
The interesting thing about Rumsfeld is that the book reinforces an idea I've had for a while: Rumsfeld is the right man in the wrong place. He is very serious about "miltary transformation" (what might be called a "revolution in military affairs"; that's the buzzword if you want to google it). The book makes clear that Rumsfeld is/was very successful in forcing the military to re-think many of their assumptions about the multiplier effects of technology, which translates into a smaller, more lethal, more agile military. And Rumsfeld was right: he exceeded the military successes of 1991 in 2003 with a force a third the size. The problem was, Afghanistan and Iraq (the insurgency parts of both) clearly articulate that a "transformed" military isn't really very effective at fighting low-insurgency operations.
In other words: Rumsfeld is succeeding at producing a military that will absolutely destroy the Soviets as they come through the Fulda Gap (if you didn't understand that analogy, that's good: the point was the "Fulda Gap" problem was a military problem back in the 1970s and 1980s, not a present day one). Rumsfeld is successfullly transforming the military to be a more efficient version of the one prepared to fight the Soviets and their massed armored hordes. This is wonderful if you expect the US to fight some massed armored hordes anytime in the next decade or two, and much less so if you foresee the US involved in one low-intensity guerilla war after another over the next decade or so.
Further updates as necessary.
It Didn't Take Long.
I'm on page 71 of "State of Denial" by Woodward.
Rumsfeld has managed to be a complete idiot once, and a partial idiot twice. Chronologically, we haven't even gotten to August, 2001.
Gonna be a long book.
(Oh, Woodward's usual pattern is to use lots of anonymous sourcing. He is breaking that pattern here. Lots and lots of people are either being quoted directly ("Fry said to Rumsfeld...") or quoted indirectly (as in, Bush is speaking alone to Prince/Ambassador Bandar from Saudi Arabia, and Woodward then quotes the conversation. Since it is clear that Bush didn't provide details of the conversation (he refused to participate in this Woodward project), that leaves the other guy in the room at the time as the source for Woodward, even though he isn't quoted directly. Bandar must be supremely pissed at Bush to be quoted so frequently, openly, and clearly while Bush is still in office.)
Full report later.
Crazy stupid, or stupid crazy?
In the wake of school shootings in Wisconsin, Colorado and Pennsylvania during the last two weeks, a state legislator says he plans to introduce legislation that would allow teachers, principals, administrators and other school personnel to carry concealed weapons.
Rep. Frank Lasee, a Republican, said Wednesday that, while his idea may not be politically correct, it has worked effectively in other countries.
"To make our schools safe for our students to learn, all options should be on the table," he said. "Israel and Thailand have well-trained teachers carrying weapons and keeping their children safe from harm. It can work in Wisconsin."
C'mon people, you knew this was coming.
The Predatory Wasp of the Palisades is Out to Get Us!
Since Binky has tried to movie the blog back in a musical direction in the last week (or at least in more of a Radio Indie Rock direction) I just thought I'd say, apropos of pretty much nothing, that my favorite song this week seems to be "The Predatory Wasp of the Palisades is Out to Get Us!" by Sufjan Stevens (and no, not just for the title - though that rocks). I keep playing it, in a variety of moods and setting. I find the music to be a delightful combo of wacky and majestic, and the lyrics and sentiment are lovely.
Oh, #2 on Armand's songs of the week would be Veruca Salt's "Volcano Girls". That has little if anything in common with Sufjan's song - but a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, right?
"New Secret Diet Pill"
Huh. I thought it was just speed or coke. Who knew?
That other B-word
Dear Annie: How can I achieve a balance between standing up for myself at work and being regarded by colleagues as a bitch? Overall, I'm a pretty easygoing person, I try to help others out when I can, and I volunteer for assignments. The problem: When I need to say "no" or point out that I just can't take on anything else because I'm already buried in work, I get accused of being uncooperative, not a team player, or "bitchy." But when my male counterparts do and say the same things, no one seems to mind. What am I doing wrong, or what can I do to change the perception? -No Prima Donna
Dear NPD: "When men speak up for themselves, they usually do it in a very business-based, proactive way, and without emotion," notes Rebecca Shambaugh, head of the Shambaugh Leadership Group, a McLean, Va., consulting firm that has worked with IBM, Marriott, Northrop Grumman, and many other companies on how to develop and retain female managers. "They'll say, 'Sorry, fellas, I just can't take this one on.' Women, though, often tend to be more reactive, sometimes even bordering on feeling like a victim: 'Don't they know how much work I've already got?' My guess is that this is what you're doing, probably without being aware of it - and that your resentment is coming across loud and clear."
Of course! It's 'cause we're whiney bitches who feel like victims and can't keep our feelings under wraps! So we need to more closely monitor our every thought and word and expressive gesture lest it offend the menfolk by letter our true bitchiness come out! It had nothing - nothing! - to do with perceptions, oh no sirree!
Hastert Names Louis Freeh to Investigate the Mark Foley Scandal?
What - was Michael "Brownie" Brown unavailable?
UPDATE: Scratch that - seems Nancy Pelosi wouldn't agree to that idiotic idea, so it's not going forward. Good for her.
"Not New" is a Defense?
Seriously? This is the defense her office is putting out? The defense that implies that the Bush administration long knew (long knew before July 10, 2001) that al Qaeda was determined to attack the US? I realize there are pages to interview, but I think this deserves to be bumped up above the fold.
October 04, 2006
Stupidity on the March
Or, Harry Potter is evil, part 10,376:
Laura Mallory, a mother of four, told a hearing officer for the Gwinnett County Board of Education on Tuesday that the popular fiction books are an ''evil'' attempt to indoctrinate children in the Wicca religion.
And we all know the next step is becoming a lesbian.
Board of Education attorney Victoria Sweeny said that if schools were to remove all books containing reference to witches, they would have to ban ''Macbeth'' and ''Cinderella.''
Well, duh, of course not, because those books show witches as evil nasty crones the way they are supposed to. Gosh!
And not that I am all that interested in either Foley or Fox news...
...but why am I suspicious about Fox labeling Foley as a democrat?
Fluffy something or others to the StealthBadger.
OMG... the real Foley IMs
File under laugh so you don't cry.
October 03, 2006
Does this look good to you?
The Hold Steady - Barfruit Blues [3:32] - Almost Killed Me
Destroyer - Priest's Knees [3:09] - Destroyer's Rubies
Talib Kweli - Flash Gordon [4:12] - Right About Now
Robert Pollard - Kick Me And Cancel [2:10] - From A Compound Eye
Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton - The Lottery [3:46] - Knives Don't Have Your Back
The Thermals - I Might Need For You To Kill [2:27] - The Body, The Blood, The Machine
TV On The Radio - Hours [3:55] - Return To Cookie Mountain
Kelley Stoltz - Ever Thought Of Coming Back [2:58] - Below The Branches
The Rogers Sisters - The Clock [2:56] - The Invisible Deck
Be Your Own Pet - Bunk Trunk Skunk [1:29] - Be Your Own Pet
Mr. Lif - Murs Iz My Manager Featuring Murs [4:20] - Mo' Mega
The New Pornographers - These Are The Fables [3:29] - Twin Cinema
Get thee to Radio Indie Rock!
Anal sex is a "bad habit for people to have"
Wait for the last word from Molly Ivins.
Found at I Blame the Patriarchy.
Baltar was ahead of the curve
Isn't There Anyone To Stop Chaka Khan?
The ____________ of Liberty
OMG - if you don't think there's any fun to be had from a member of Congress writing naughty e-mails (Tony Snow's term) to a congressional page, you've obviously missed The Daily Show. You should fix that. I laughed out loud at least a half dozen times.
OK, if Reid needs his vote to become Majority Leader, I can see promising Lieberman a chairmanship. Especially since he's an unprincipled weasel who'll jump to the GOP if Reid doesn't bow down before him:“Caucuses like to keep as many members as they can, not discourage membership,” implying that leaders risk his defection to the GOP if they strip him of seniority.
That said, if the Democrats have a 2 vote majority or remain in the minority - there is no fucking way in hell that Bush's #1 toadie should be given the top opposition slot on the Senate's #1 oversight and investigatory committee. No-way-in-hell.
October 02, 2006
House Liberals Not Lining Up Behind Murtha's Leadership Bid
So reports The Hill - and to which I say, good. The Pelosi/Hoyer team seems to have done a good job in keeping a pretty diverse caucus together most of the time, and Steny Hoyer has proven to be a bridge-builder. He appears, to me, to have done a good job as whip. And the article rightly notes that a lots of Democrats, no matter what they think of the war, are looking for competent leaders who can effectively manage the caucus. They aren't demanding ideological purity. And even if they were, as the article points out, on a lot of issues Jack Murtha isn't remotely liberal.
And/or chattering magpies.
They are at it again, and I am trying to drown them out with Girl Talk. It's not working. I can still hear the hee hawing.
No, the other Georgia.
Georgia, acting to defuse its worst crisis with Russia for years, said on Monday it would hand over to European mediators four Russian army officers arrested on spying charges.
But reports that Moscow had suddenly ordered all Russian transport links with Georgia to be severed appeared to show that the crisis was far from over.
Russian news agencies quoted sources at the transport and communications ministries as saying air, rail, road and sea links to Georgia would be cut, as would postal services. A transport ministry spokeswoman refused to comment.
Tension built up after the Georgians arrested the Russian officers last Wednesday, leading to a war of words between Moscow and Tbilisi, including a sharp verbal attack by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
So many barnyard metaphors, so little time
After letting the fox guard the henhouse, now Hastert wants to shut the barn door now that the
newshorse already got out.
Lula in Runoff
Even though some had predicted that Lula would win in the first round, he will face Alkman in a runoff. His administration has been plagued by scandal, but has delivered in ways the voters approve of.
There's an old saying in Brazil: ele rouba, mas faz. It's indicative of a pragmatic view of otherwise unsavory administrations (and/or a historical inability to change administrations to anything better).
The other interesting thing about the PT, is that it was long seen as a different kind of party, based on meritocratic promotion, and untainted by the decades of power and corruption that sapped the intergrity of the other parties. Some feared that when reality hit, the party would suffer worse for that view. This vote, a decade and a half later, shows otherwise.
October 01, 2006
The 30-Something VA Approved Headstone Markers
One of Binky's least favorite bloggers has this post which shows us the multitude of religious symbols that the VA will allow placed on headstones. There is, of course, as of yet no Wiccan symbol allowed. But hey, they've got 'em for atheists, humanists, and even Unitarians (plus lots and lots of various crosses for assorted Christian religions).
A geographical electoral note
Baltar and I were having an off-blog discussion about Foley's district, the 16th.
And some census data to go along with it.
Note that it leaves out some areas to the east in Palm Beach county, and some areas in the middle that are rural, and stops well before it gets to Belle Glade or Pahokee. It stretches down, west of West Palm Beach to include Wellington (think: polo), and Loxahatchee/Royal Palm beach which are locally known as being "redneck-y." Quite the handy gerrymander for the anti-tax/family values coalition.
Not surprisingly, given the drawing of the district, it is comparatively white (see the census data page). It skirts the 23rd, represented by Democrat Alcee Hastings (census data here). The district went 55% support for Bush in 2004.
Nothing really explained, but this gives some background. For fun, here are maps of all Florida districts.
Pumpkin Spice Latte
Not even a vague coffee flavor, and mostly tastes like cloying syrup.
I couldn't even drink half, it was so gross.
Plus, it was still September.
Boehner + Hastert = COVERUP
Among those who became aware earlier this year of the fall 2005 communications between Mr. Foley and the 16-year-old page, who worked for Representative Rodney Alexander, Republican of Louisiana, were Representative John A. Boehner, the majority leader, and Representative Thomas M. Reynolds of New York, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee. Mr. Reynolds said in a statement Saturday that he had also personally raised the issue with Speaker J. Dennis Hastert.
Oh yes, let's just watch this one unfold. Watch the rats scurry.
Did I say rats? Maybe I meant roaches.