October 31, 2007

Lou Dobbs and Benjamin Wittes, Predictably Wrong

Governor Spitzer and Matthew Yglesias take a little time out of their respective days - here and here - to put two frequently maddening pundits in their place.

Posted by armand at 11:21 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Senator Clinton Is ...

Nelson Rockefeller in a dress

I think there's something to that comment from a thread at LGM. Agree? Disagree?

Posted by armand at 10:48 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

October 30, 2007

A Democratic Running Mate

So Bill Safire's bizarre ramblings (DiFi? wtf? and exactly what's with expecting insights into the mind of the Democrats from Safire in the first place) have led to a number of posts on possible Democratic running mates. Of course at this point, thinking about that for any candidate beyond Hillary Clinton is kind of silly. And as to Sen. Clinton, I think Ezra's got it right - Tom Vilsack or Wesley Clark. Though the idea of Ted Strickland makes some sense too. If I was putting money on it, i'd say it would be one of those three.

Posted by armand at 06:14 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

O Mickey Feio

The beauty of ugly, via Neatorama.

Posted by binky at 01:23 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Frost, pumpkin, you know the drill

Every year I tell myself that I am going to have my shit together and have my plants put away and protected before the first frost comes. Those plans alternate between constructing a greenhouse from all the storm windows I have scavenged off of other people's trash piles and just biting the bullet and buying a small one I could stick in my driveway (the only really flat, unused place in my yard) or on my little patio (where normally I have 4 chairs cramped in). What happens instead is that I drag in dozens of potted plants, including several trees, and they suffer through the winter in my living room.

We all know where this is going.

The last two nights have been the first frosts of the year. And my plants sit, huddled up against the front and back porch, wrapped in old blankets and sheets.

If anyone asks, I'm saying they are ghosts.

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

October 29, 2007

A Description That Would Likely Annoy Fall Out Boy

But hey, I think it's funny, especially since it comes from Jonathan Adler of all people:

what I would describe as a clever-but-juvenile, hard-edged blend of Panic! at the Disco and Bowling for Soup
Posted by armand at 03:03 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Mitch McConnell Is In Trouble

Of course no one ever expects him to win by overwhelming margins, but the leader of the Senate Republicans (and perhaps Big Coal's biggest friend in Congress) clearly looks to be in serious trouble. It's really interesting that his numbers are so steady across that field of potential opponents - and so steady in the mid-40s. The implosion of the Republicans in Kentucky might very well bring him down next year.

Posted by armand at 10:28 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Romney Gets Sen. Gregg's Endorsement

In one more move that keeps Mitt Romney ahead of his rivals in the early contests, he is set to receive the formal endorsement of Judd Gregg, the state's senior senator and a former governor. Rudy Giuliani might be ahead in the national polls, but as long as Romney wins both Iowa and New Hampshire (as he seems set to do), personally, I still see him as the guy to beat in this race - though I understand others still have faith in the Giuliani and Huckabee campaigns. And of course though I'd rate Romney the favorite for the nomination, I still consider him beatable.

Posted by armand at 10:19 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 28, 2007

Trinity (Texas) Winning by Laterals

If you haven't clicked on the footage of the end of the Trinity-Millsaps game you really should. It's incredible. Truly incredible. And the fact that this was done to a team coached by Mike DuBose makes it even a touch more fun.

Posted by armand at 07:59 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

October 26, 2007

Carnival of the Liberals #50

Over at That is so Queer. Very cool format for an ongoing series.

Posted by binky at 04:11 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Chris Shays Hearts Condi Rice

Wow, what a revolting performance. Shays can't get kicked out of the House fast enough. Well, only about a year and a week until the voters have a chance to bounce him out.

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

Get ready to dig in

I'm with Farley. I can't wait to read these posts:

Our host has been kind enough to provide me a bully pulpit for the next several weeks as I take down one of the most profound perverts of the historical record in the modern era, Mr. Victor Davis Hanson.

If you are not familiar with him, Hanson, or "VDH" as he sometimes styles himself, is a historian of classical Greece, or at least he was a historian of that place and era. Now he is something different. Since 2001 he has laid claims to being a military and cultural historian for the ages, in addition to becoming a columnist for the National Review Online and other hyper-conservative outlets. Personally, I do not care what he writes in an op-ed, so long as he does not torture historical facts in order to validate his own pet theories. But Hanson does exactly that, and so, from my seat, he is the worst sort of polemicist: one who claims academic credentials as a neutral observer, but then insidiously inserts political interpretations of his own present-day biases into the historical record.


Hanson's dismissals of those who would correct the record he distorted are based upon two biases: "Campus liberals" would engage in culture wars, and "non-military historians" don't know about military history and are thus unqualified to speak on the topic at hand. Well, Victor, I am afraid that I'm not going to be so easy to dismiss. Although I teach at Georgetown now, I used to teach at West Point, and the topic I taught is the same that I have studied for 18 years, military history. It is one thing for you to brush off an inhabitant of, say, the history departments at Yale or the University of Wisconsin as knowing nothing of the military or military history. It is quite another to attempt the same with an Army Airborne Ranger who also happens to be an academic historian and who thinks that your personal signal work is a pile of poorly constructed, deliberately misleading, intellectually dishonest feces.

Posted by binky at 01:12 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Is John Aravosis On Anyone Else's Last Nerve?

I don't read AMERICABlog all that often, and it looks like it's going to stay that way. Does anyone else find his anti-Obama crusade of late a bit over the top? I get his point. It's not good to have bigots as part of your campaign. But I also get Obama's point. It's good to engage people who don't agree with you, and take the big tent concept seriously - especially if the good that might come out of it makes people less likely to be bigots. Am I giving Obama too much credit here? Is Aravosis right about this? He's gotten so shrill on the topic that it's possible I'm finding him one-note and wrong just because his self-assuredness and accusatory style as gotten really tiresome.

Posted by armand at 10:50 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Bob Odom Drops Out

Louisiana's long-time Agriculture Commissioner is dropping out of his race for reelection. Republican Mike Strain will replace him. Odom's departure means Louisiana will have only 2-3 statewide elected Democrats next year: definitely the two Landrieus, and possibly Buddy Caldwell - if he wins the run-off for Attorney General. And of course Mary Landrieu is up for reelection next year, and is probably the Republicans #1 target among Democrats in Congress.

Posted by armand at 08:32 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Consoling Turkey With Warships

Sure we've been annoying them no end of late - but maybe giving them two Perry-class frigates and two minesweepers (3 for free, one at a greatly reduced price) will take the edge off that a tiny bit. Looks like we're going to try that.

Posted by armand at 08:18 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Treatment

Hmmm, what to say about that movie? I don't really know. I guess if you are into Freudian ideas you might like it and get more out of it than I did (or maybe you wouldn't - as I'm not an expert I can't say). I pretty much always like Chris Eigeman and Famke Janssen so it wasn't an unpleasant thing to watch. It just wasn't terribly interesting. So I'd give it a C I guess. Perfectly fine to watch if it's on in front of you and you don't have anything particularly better to do. I do sort of wish though that the movie had been about Eigeman and his father, played by Harris Yulin. I really like both actors, and was interested in the dynamic between their characters.

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

October 25, 2007

Wayne's Weather

The Flaming 7-Day Forecast:


I love that band.

Posted by binky at 09:52 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Dirt Under the Rock

Last night Baltar and I drove to Cleveland and back (yes, that's a couple hundred miles each way) to see the Drive by Truckers. It was the shortest set I've seen them play yet, and Patterson Hood was in a self-confessed bad mood and wanted to break the spotlights that were annoying him. Plus, instead of a Dirt Underneath show...

... it was rock show (bonus, if you look really closely, you can see me and Baltar getting sweat on, front fow center):

But shit, I can't complain. I've seen this band like ten times in the last year, and at every show I am still hearing songs that I have never heard live before.

October 15, 2006

October 28a

October 28b

December 30

December 31

March 29

April 28

June 23

July 13

October 24

And we're going again on Sunday night, for the last date of the Dirt Underneath tour.

The only band I've ever really been into seeing this consistently is the Flaming Lips, and frankly, their live shows have started to bore me a little because they haven't changed up their set very much since Yoshimi. Plus, with their newfound popularity, they are playing bigger venues, and huge festivals, which are really a lot less fun. I don't begrudge them their success. I am not one of those people to cry "sellout!" or say they aren't cool anymore. I still love their music, I just don't love the scene that develops when a band hits it really big.

That's one of the reasons I love DBT, and why I am filled with apprehension and hope at the same time. Look, Wayne Coyne worked at Long John Silvers for fifteen fucking years while the Flaming Lips labored to make it. I hope they are raking in the cash from their Dell deals and car commercials, and that Wayne and his wife can now afford the most premium kibble and expensive rubber bugs their dogs could ever imagine ripping to shreds. I hope that the DBT folks can make a pantsload of money and be comfortable. But the idea that we won't be able to see them in tiny shitty little clubs where I can stand this close to Mike Cooley, is kind of a bummer.

The short story is, I'm ambivalent about encouraging the readership here to go check 'em out. On the one hand, they're a great band, an amazing band, maybe the best live band out there, the band that will save rock and roll, at a very interesting point in the band's evolution, having lost (yet another) member, and both gained some perspective and reconnected with their roots. I want you to buy their music, and their shirts, and all the awesome posters that Wes Freed works up. On the other, I don't want the hipsters to catch on and hang around being indier than thou at shows.

Thank goodness we have like five readers.

Too bad I only had 2 1/2 hours of sleep after getting home from the show. Otherwise, this might be a little more coherent.

In any case, if you're close to the last couple of nights of the Dirt Underneath (NYC, DC), try to grab a ticket. They are still reasonable. And dig into the catalog (may I recommend the Dirty South or Southern Rock Opera) until the new record, Brighter Than Creation's Dark, comes out on January 22nd. And if you're into soul music, the DBT just backed Bettye LaVette on her latest album... good stuff. Otherwise, mark your calendars for the new year, when the record comes out and this touring band gets back on the road behind it.

And by the way, I've been thinking, since Armand and I go to movies, and Baltar and I go to concerts, the two of you need to come up with a hobby to do together without me.

Posted by binky at 09:36 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


This probably tells more about me than I should reveal, but when I was a kid, I loved this shit:

Yes, even though I think The Rat is evil.

Posted by binky at 09:19 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Ooh, google memes...

Saw this at Shakesville and couldn't resist. Top five google searches that return Bloodless Coup as the #1 link:

"J. David Singer Rules"

"the Troyeans"


"sneaky bastages"

"shot while being strangled"

For the record, found at 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.

Posted by binky at 08:13 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Cate's Worst Fashion Choice Ever

She's a beautiful woman and of course a talented actress, but ... egads.

Posted by armand at 03:46 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Is Our SGA President Learning (to Communicate)?

David Kirkpatrick took to the pages of the school paper today to press for faculty to be more responsive to students. Next up he'll no doubt argue on behalf of puppies, mothers and America. But even in the midst of his largely yawn-inducing letter a couple things stood out. For example, there was his odd slam at the faculty:

The continuous dissatisfaction from the Faculty Senate suggests faculty members aren’t happy with their jobs, and they are unappreciative of the improvements that have been made in their favor this year. Yet they teach students that it is a privilege to be part of this University?

Ummm, since when is it the job of any faculty member to a) rejoice at the status quo, b) express satisfaction at marginal improvements, or c) teach students that "it is a privilege to be part of this University". But at least I could follow that odd argument. Does anyone know what the following means?

The division of administration, faculty, staff and students hinders WVU’s potential to make the best decisions for everyone.

I'm not entirely clear on that one.

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

October 24, 2007

Leslie Southwick Confirmed to Serve on the 5th Circuit

Earlier this month the Senate voted to confirm 41 year old Jennifer Elrod to a lifetime seat on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, considered by many to be the most conservative federal appealate court in the United States. Now the Senate has approved another Bush nominee to that court, the controversial Leslie Southwick of Mississippi. The vote on Southwick was 59-38, with the Democrats voting in favor of him being an odd mix. Feinstein, Byrd, Lincoln, Pryor and Nelson of Nebraska were all fairly predictable votes in his favor. But Akaka, Conrad and Dorgan? That's kind of odd. Interestingly, Mary Landrieu voted against the nomination, All Republicans voted in favor of Southwick (yes, including "moderates" like Specter, Snowe, Collins and Gordon Smith).

Posted by armand at 12:51 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

This Isn't Really Funny, But ...

Spencer Ackerman's tips for Blackwater, as it apparently needs sensitivity training:

Lesson One: Don't drunkenly murder bodyguards of Iraqi dignitaries.

Lesson Two: Should Lesson One fail, don't hire those who drunkenly murder bodyguards of Iraqi dignitaries.

Lesson Three: Don't shoot people as they flee in terror from your orgy of destruction.

Lesson Four: Don't force terrified civilians off the road with your reckless convoys.

Lesson Five: Don't fire your weapons at members of the U.S. military.

Lesson Six: Don't broadcast your orgy of destruction on YouTube while set to music meant to show what a bad ass you are.

Posted by armand at 12:44 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

(Appropriately) Mocking Mitt's Reagan Love

You probably read Yglesias, so you've probably already seen him mocking these Romeny slides - the Reagan Zone of Economic Freedom (which is neither a zone, nor in any way connected to Ronald Reagan) and his chart noting that the only 3 things that apparently affected US economic prosperity since the 1920's were Smoot-Hawley, GATT and Reagan's election (which is nonsense as a general matter, and the data Mitt uses shows you could easily make the same argument about Clinton's election) - but if you haven't, click on the links to be amused and a little disgusted. Posted by armand at 12:17 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 23, 2007

Gov.-Elect Jindal's First Appointments

Crikey. It's not as if the pro-gun, pro-forced pregnancy Gov. Kathleen Blanco had a far leftist staff in Baton Rouge, but these quick biographies of Bobby Jindal's first two appointees suggest they'll be taking the state to the right - far to the right.

His campaign manager, Timmy Teepell, will be chief of staff when Jindal takes office in January. Teepell also will direct the transition team. Teepell, 32, is a Baton Rouge native who served as chief of staff in Jindal’s congressional office. Before joining Jindal’s staff, he worked for the Republican National Committee. He also worked for the Madison Project, a Washington, D.C., group whose Web site says it raises money for candidates endorsing their stands on "Pro-Life, Pro-Family, Limited Government, (and) Defenders of Religious Freedom." Growing up, Teepell was home schooled during part of his formative years. Unlike his boss, a Rhodes scholar with a degree from Brown University, Teepell never graduated from college. "(I) studied on my own. I’m what you call a road scholar," Teepell said.

Another campaign aide, Stephen Waguespack, will be deputy chief of staff for policy. For the next two months, he will be deputy director of the transition team. Waguespack, 33, was policy director for Jindal’s gubernatorial campaign. He also worked as an aide to U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, a Texas Republican who is on the House energy committee, and as a lobbyist for The Alpine Group in Washington, D.C., which largely focuses on energy issues. He graduated from LSU and has a law degree from Columbus School of Law at Catholic University in Washington, D.C. Teepell and Waguespack spent the bulk of their careers on Capitol Hill working for Republicans in Washington’s partisan political climate.

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

Dave Treen for Congress!

Apparently the 79 year old former governor (Louisiana's first Republican governor since Reconstruction) is going to run for the US Congress again, seeking to fill the seat of newly elected governor Bobby Jindal. He last sought that seat after former House Speaker designate Bob Livingston suddenly resigned. In that race he lost the Republican nomination to David Vitter, who has of course moved on to the US Senate. I don't expect him to be any more successful this time. While the field hasn't taken shape yet, I'd think the Steve Scalise, Kevin Davis and Tom Schedler are more likely to win.

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

October 22, 2007

Colbert Is Running in Both South Carolina Primaries?

I get running in the Republican race, but his tv character doesn't seem to me like someone who should be running in the Democratic primary as well. Am I alone in thinking that?

Posted by armand at 11:04 AM | Comments (17) | TrackBack

October 20, 2007

The "Values Voters" Straw Poll

Interesting. Score another win for Team Romney. Though there were good results for Mike Huckabee too.

By one half of one percent, by 30 votes, ex-MA Gov. Mitt Romney won the Family Research Council's straw poll, besting Fred Thompson, whose surrogates attacked Romney with pamphlets, by more than 1,000 votes. But Huckabee won the majority of votes from activists who attended the FRC's Washington, D.C. briefing this weekend -- 488, or 51%. About 80 percent of ballots were cast by FRC members online, and Romney's narrow victory comes from those votes.

And in third place - Ron Paul. That's also interesting. Giuliani and McCain's atrocious numbers (less than 2% in each case) ranked them behind the likes of Tom Tancredo and Duncan Hunter.

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

Go Commodores!

So we are seeing yet another week in college football featuring top teams going down to defeat. South Florida lost earlier in the week, and already today we've seen #23 Cincinnati lose to Pitt and #6 South Carolina lose to Vanderbilt. And in a few minutes #20 Tennessee will have been (crushingly) defeated by Alabama. Is this a fun season or what?

Posted by armand at 03:49 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Involuntary Manslaughter Is a Misdemeanor?

Something to add to the list of things I've recently learned about West Virginia: If you are convicted of involuntary manslaughter the maximum sentence you can receive is one year in jail.

Posted by armand at 03:45 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Russia Calls the US a Bunch of Hypocrites

If an unchecked presidency and human rights violations are okay for the US, Russia wonders why it can't engage in similar practices.

And yes, perhaps Secretary Rice should have thought twice before going there.

Posted by armand at 03:20 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

America's Constitution: A Biography

So I finally finished reading my non-fiction book of the moment this morning, Akhil Reed Amar's The Constitution: A Biography. It's a superb piece of work that I should buy at some point. I learned a great deal about both the document, and the founding period. And Amar's arguments are really quite interesting, and make a good case for the document having been surprisingly democratic in many respects given the times (for example, when it came to the requirements for voting or serving in Congress), and also for having produced a much stronger president than many would've thought likely, given the norms of the time (though of course nothing remotely similar to today's "imperial presidency"). Some other topics include how the document became more democratic over time partially as a result of national crises and public discontent, and how who held the office of president varied at least in part on changing structure of the constitution, and the relative strength of the United States on the world stage. There are also some interesting "what ifs?" (for example, if the South hadn't decided to secede in 1861 - what would've happened on the slavery question?). And the discussion of issues tied to slavery is also one of the book's most interesting topics Amar forcefully argues that the Constitution didn't merely permit slavery, it encouraged it, and that even in 1787 a more strongly anti-slavery constitution could've been produced.

Posted by armand at 02:03 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Election Day in Louisiana

It's election day in Louisiana. Candidates who receive more than 50% of the vote win, otherwise the top 2 finishers will advance to a run-off in November. It's widely anticipated that today will feature low turnout, and possibly an outright victory by 36 year old congressman Bobby Jindal in the gubenatorial contest. That's the one statewide race without an incumbent. Politics1 (of course) has a list of the various statewide candidates.

Posted by armand at 01:02 PM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

October 19, 2007

Good Question!

Ask the GOP:

From our thread yesterday, a couple more good questions the rabble-rousers here at Balloon Juice would like to see posed to the GOP candidates.:

1.) "Would you have sex with a man to stop a terrorist attack?"

2.) "If lowering taxes results in increased revenues then would lowering taxes to zero result in infinite revenues?"

3.) "If you had a time machine, would you travel back in time and abort Bin Laden?"

As they say, read the rest...

Posted by binky at 02:07 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Mukasey: Hold More Hearings and/or Block Him

I have to agree with Mark Kleiman here. Why on Earth would someone confirm Mukasey, given what we know so far?

Posted by armand at 01:00 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Well, I feel safer (part 137)

Border patrol is keeping us safe from indie rock:

The guitarist for indie pop rockers Death Cab for Cutie still expects to release his solo album in January even though federal border agents seized a computer hard drive containing the master tracks.

A courier was headed to Seattle-based Barsuk Records from a studio in Vancouver, British Columbia, when U.S. Border Patrol agents seized the hard drive Sept. 19, Chris Walla said Wednesday.

"I don't know what red flag could possibly have gone up at the border," Walla said in a phone interview from Portland, Ore. "It's so baffling to me."

Walla said he had been in British Columbia working on the album called "Field Manual." Barsuk needed the music to meet its production schedule, and a Hipposonic Studios employee volunteered to drive the mixed songs, on tape, and the original master tracks, on a computer hard drive.

Guards at the Peace Arch border crossing in Blaine let the courier keep the tapes but seized the hard drive for examination by computer forensics experts, according to Walla and Hipposonic President Rob Darch.

HT to Alabama Ass Whuppin'.

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

October 18, 2007

We Own the Night

Though I enjoyed James Gray's last film, The Yards, I wasn't expecting too much out of this one as its ad campaign made it look like a rather ordinarcy police/crime drama, fused with family tension (brother versus brother, and son versus father). Happily, it's more than that. What you have is a story centered around Joaquin Phoenix's character, Bobby. He just wants to have fun, run a night club, and enjoy life (including sex with Eva Mendes). But events make that impossible. Soon his family and past run up against the life he's trying to lead in the present, and the film is basically about the choices Bobby makes, as well as those made by some compelling, if not terribly complex, side characters. There are some bizarrely off matters in the production. The music and some of the clothes really don't seem to be from 1988 when the film is supposedly set, and given that year, are Russians mobsters really the appropriate villains in a story like this? Well, regardless, the film is able to overcome such things. It's well acted, and Gray definitely has a way with staging things that combines a certain real-life grittiness with the occasional key note of elegance. I was enjoying it more and more as it moved on. So if you like this kind of thing, I recommend it.

Posted by armand at 10:29 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Peter Bergen's "War of Error"

Or "How Osama Bin Laden Beat George W. Bush".

Yes on occasion good articles can be found inside The New Republic, and this one is insightful. The general tale is familiar, but the details are enlightening and deeply depressing.

Posted by armand at 12:33 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Washing a Locomotive

I absolutely love this photo.

Posted by armand at 11:07 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Analyzing Benedict XVI Next Additions to the College of Cardinals

John Allen notes the obvious points: 1) There is an an appreciation in Rome that the future of the US church lies in the South and Southwest and among the country's Hispanics, and 2) The pope is happy to continue, and even increase, the vast overrepresentation of men from Europe and the United States in the College.

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

Fucking Democrats

I'm having trouble expressing my level of disdain for the Congressional Democrats in the English language. "Sniveling" might work, but doesn't have enough banal evilness in it. "Evil" gives them to much credit for actually doing something (takes effort to be evil, and the Democrats don't have that). "Useless" sort of implies that they just didn't do anything, and they are clearly helping this along.

WaPo today:

Senate Democrats and Republicans reached agreement with the Bush administration yesterday on the terms of new legislation to control the federal government's domestic surveillance program, which includes a highly controversial grant of legal immunity to telecommunications companies that have assisted the program, according to congressional sources.


The collapse marked the first time since Democrats took control of the chamber that a major bill was withdrawn from consideration before a scheduled vote. It was a victory for President Bush, whose aides lobbied heavily against the Democrats' bill, and an embarrassment for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who had pushed for the measure's passage.

The draft Senate bill has the support of the intelligence committee's chairman, John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), and Bush's director of national intelligence, Mike McConnell. It will include full immunity for those companies that can demonstrate to a court that they acted pursuant to a legal directive in helping the government with surveillance in the United States.

Fucking useless. The rest of the story indicates that the only concessions the Democrats got were that the bill would expire in six years (big deal), and that the FISA court would review the governments "procedures for deciding who is to be the subject of warrantless surveillance." More fucking useless. The FISA court operates outside the public eye; we don't get to know what they decide. Plus, they don't have to actually, you know, ask the FISA court for actual warrants; they just have to let the FISA court know what the program is (you know, the WARRANTLESS program, where the government gets to listen to people without a WARRANT).

The Democrats have completely caved on this. I cannot find the words in the English language to express my disdain and disgust.

Posted by baltar at 09:31 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

October 17, 2007


For a good cause, sure, but still...

Posted by binky at 11:04 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Can Petri dishes be pregnant?

This has always been one of those head slappers for me: if pregnancy occurs when the sperm meets the egg, who is it that's pregnant during the in vitro process before implantation? the Petri dish?

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

What Happens When The Atlantic's Bloggers Argue

The tone of this Yglesias post lightened my mood. He's so sure he's won (and he definitely appears to) he's retelling events like he's recounting a fight, punch by punch, completely assured of his play throughout,. And then he completes his win with a knockout in the 4th round that leaves McCardle face down on the mat, not moving, while his arms are lifted in victory, and Queen starts playing over the sound system.

Posted by armand at 07:54 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Obviously drawn by a cat owner

Posted by binky at 06:21 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

October 16, 2007

Niki Tsongas Will Join the Congress

Tonight Niki Tsongas, probably best known as the widow of the late former US Senator Paul Tsongas, was elected to Congress. If my memory serves (and I'm usually pretty good with political trivia) she'll be only the third woman to ever represent Massachusetts in the US House, the first in a quarter century, and the state's first female Democratic member of Congress.

Posted by armand at 10:48 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Is Ron Paul's America Ross Perot's America?

This map of where Ron Paul is getting his money looks quite similar to where Ross Perot got his votes in 1992 (well, if you drop out that Tennessee to New Jersey corridor of funders that Paul has). Go to Dave Leip's atlas for 1992 and see if you disagree. I guess it's not that surprising - but it is striking.

Posted by armand at 04:08 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Right Wingers Ponder Who to Target Next

Let's see, the family of a twelve year old who needs medical insurance? Check. The family of a sick two year old? Check. Yeah, now that those pressing threats have been dealt with it's time to move on to the real villains - puppies and kittens.

We kid. But then again at this rate ...

Posted by armand at 03:16 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 15, 2007

Want to Stay Healthy?

Then don't make your bed.

1.5 million of 'em ... ewww.

Posted by armand at 06:15 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Thank goodness I prefer filth and lumber...

... and sacks of dirt, because we have a nice regular Lowe's right here in town, saving me from ever having to consider wasting a dime of my money at Home Depot.

Hat Tip to Shakespeare's Sister, and a crapload of other places also snorting in disbelief.

Posted by binky at 02:41 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Does the Media Hate Ron Paul?

That seems to be what Andrew Sullivan is implying in pointing out this headline. Paul won by a big margin - but the story is that Romney lost?

Posted by armand at 01:16 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

We're Noting a Genocide to End the War In Iraq?

That's what John Cole seems to think the Democrats are up to. I think that's flat-out wrong. If the Democratic leadership in the Congress really wanted to end war in Iraq there are several other things they could do that would be more likely to work, and the reason this is up now is because the Democrats (who are more naturally allied with the Wilsonian sentiments at the heart of this proposal) are now in charge of the congressional agenda and are going to force a vote on it. This may or may not be a good idea, but I think he's really reading the Democratic leadership incorrectly on this.

Though if this is what they are up to, it makes President Bush's lack of a strong response to this even weirder. I mean he's willing to take his party over a cliff by opposing children's health care, but he won't turn the screws to ensure that a vote on a proposal that could badly weaken his war fails?

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

Have We Defeated al-Qaeda in Iraq?

Some generals say it's time to declare victory.

The U.S. military believes it has dealt devastating and perhaps irreversible blows to al-Qaeda in Iraq in recent months, leading some generals to advocate a declaration of victory over the group, which the Bush administration has long described as the most lethal U.S. adversary in Iraq.

But as the White House and its military commanders plan the next phase of the war, other officials have cautioned against taking what they see as a premature step that could create strategic and political difficulties for the United States. Such a declaration could fuel criticism that the Iraq conflict has become a civil war in which U.S. combat forces should not be involved. At the same time, the intelligence community, and some in the military itself, worry about underestimating an enemy that has shown great resilience in the past.

Posted by armand at 10:05 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Showings of Once More with Feeling featuring Rocky Horror-style audience participation have been killed by Fox.

Not thinking about the new generations that could get turned on to buy seven seasons of DVDs, are they? More likely thinking anything they can do to thwart Whedon's popularity since he dissed them.

Posted by binky at 10:03 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

The World of BDM

If you want to learn about one of the most prominent political scientists there is, I give you this profile which compares Bruce Bueno de Mesquita to Nostradamus (seemingly in a positive way).

Posted by armand at 10:01 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 14, 2007

Colbert Replaces Dowd!

Okay, it's only for one column - but damn wouldn't it be great if it was actually permanent? I think I'd have to start reading New York Times op-eds again.

Posted by armand at 06:38 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

None come close

These desks are supposedly messy. None come even close to the masterpiece that was the desk of Bill Keefe. If he sat in his chair, you could not see him behind the piles of articles. And they were not stacked neatly, either. They might have looked like they would topple, except that there were so many, they formed a range of self-reinforcing support. On the other hand, if you asked him for an article he referred you to read, he could magically extend his hand, seemingly at random, into the pile, and on the first try, extract exactly what he was looking for. Of all the people I took classes from, even though his field was outside the scope of my dissertation, I still remember what he said in classes, his encouragements, and his questions on my comps (!). He was the man who convinced me I could teach.

So much for tidy desks.

Posted by binky at 12:25 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 13, 2007

Lyonel Feiniger

To balance out the sports post below, here are some beautiful (to my eyes) paintings. I really like these.

Posted by armand at 06:50 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

College Football on October 13th

The early games have restored the natural order of the Big Ten - Illinois losing at football, and Ohio State and Michigan standing alone atop the conference standings. Both the Buckeyes and the Wolverines won by huge margins today, so that season-ending game at Michigan Stadium remains as important as ever.

Posted by armand at 03:24 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

October 12, 2007

The TV Set

If you are looking for a comedy, or a film that deals with what goes on before a tv series hits the air, I can recommend Jake Kasdan's The TV Set. It's a very amusing tale of the rather sad and twisted world of tv writers, execs, and actors (and to a small degree, tech people). A lot of the people in it are really good, and it features some of my favorite actresses (Judy Greer, Lindsay Sloane, Justine Bateman) and the charming Ioan Gruffudd (as a poor guy who's brought in from BBC America to class-up the network). But the undeniable star of the show is Sigourney Weaver. She's perfect. I'd presume she'd be in the running for some end of the year acting honors. She should be. It's a great comic performance.

Posted by armand at 11:01 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 11, 2007

Why Is Sam Brownback Still Running for President?

Seriously, why? He's been in it for months and has gotten no traction. There's no remotely obvious issue he has or wedge to improve his chances. He's not doing it for future political gain (he's already made clear he's leaving the Senate when his term expires). So, why not drop out? Does he love the rubber chicken circuit that much?

Posted by armand at 08:24 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Who'd Be Hurt If Gore Got In It?

I should say up front that I'd be completely stunned if he entered the race. But there's an interesting on-line poll at Daily Kos looking at the possible effect of such an entry. There are lots of choices but essential it comes down to "I like candidate X and would stay with her" or "I'm supporting X, but I'll dump her for Gore if Gore joined the race". Why is the poll interesting? Well Daily Kos is always a good place to get a sense of netroots opinion, and among them (with 7800 votes tallied) most supporters of Clinton and Obama would stay with their favored candidate. Only 38% of Clinton backers would move to Gore, and only 42% of Obama backers would. However, Edwards would lose over 2/3's of his support. It would appear he has the most to lose from a Gore candidacy (not that one is going to happen).

Posted by armand at 07:23 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Senator Obama, Her Name Is Hillary Clinton

Senator, please stop saying "some" or "some Democrats". Either people know who you mean and find it irritating that you won't criticize her directly when you are clearly criticizing her, or people have no idea what you mean, and that greatly weakens the impact of your criticisms. So please stop the vague attacks. They aren't doing you any good.

Posted by armand at 07:11 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Lithwick Discusses Medellin v. Texas

It's an interesting and complicated case.

Medellin v. Texas could be a law-school exam unto itself. It touches on the separation of powers and the supremacy clause, international treaties and state criminal codes, federalism and the reach of the president's diplomatic authority, all wrapped up in fundamental questions about the scope of judicial review. But really, the best part of Medellin is that if you are a casual spectator attempting to pick out the "good guys," here's your choice: the state of Texas and its relentless quest to execute its people without regard to moral, international, or legal norms, versus the Bush administration and its claim to broad new executive authority to boss around state judges. It's like having to choose between being clawed to ribbons by a grizzly bear or gnawed to death by a killer whale.

But obviously amid presenting the complications, Lithwick still manages to present zingers that are both funny and disturbingly on point. Another example:

It does make you wonder whether the president's Christmas lists and the doodles beside his phone also carry the force of law.

I read a lot of the transcript yesterday. Interesting stuff. And Ted Cruz (the young, famously conservative Solicitor General of Texas) was very good.

Posted by armand at 08:30 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Lessing Wins the Nobel in Literature

So Doris Lessing has won the Nobel Prize in LIterature. Huh. I was sort of thinking they'd go for a poet this year, and hoping they'd go for Margaret Atwood (out of the names that are often discussed as potential winners). Anyway, I don't really know Lessing's work. Would you recommend it, or not? Thoughts on this prize?

Posted by armand at 08:01 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

October 10, 2007

"Note to the dogs"

Are you reading Passive Aggressive Notes yet? You should be. They also have links to the "Blog" of "Unnecessary" Quotation Mark and to the Best of Craig's list, where I found this:

Dear Dogs of Mine,

It seems that lately things have gotten a smidge slack around here. I feel it is time to remind you of the rules that heretofore we have operated under. You are both cute dogs, but your continued cuteness in no way negates our previous agreement. Let me remind you of a few details of this agreement.

1. In exchange for room and board, you are to guard the kingdom. That would be guarding the kingdom from any and all bad guys, robbers, serial killers, etc. Feel free to bark maniacally at any of those that should appear in the yard. Guarding the kingdom does NOT include barking maniacally at bunnies, squirrels, cows, sheep and invisible things that only you can see, especially between the hours of 5am (when I stumble out of bed to let you out) and 8am (when I actually have to be out of bed to get to work). (And let me take a moment here to remind you that the pizza guy is a potential bad guy. He is not your friend. Just because he comes bearing food does not allow him free and easy access to the kingdom. He is potentially way more dangerous than the bunnies that you threaten to tear limb from limb.)

2. All of the stuff that lives in the toy basket is yours. Everything else is mine. Yours includes squeaky balls, random bones, partially unstuffed stuffed animals and chew ropes. Mine includes any and all shoes on the floor (especially the expensive leather ones), underwear that missed the hamper, bras, socks, dishtowels, the remote, the cell phone, the legs of my grandmother's antique chair and the vacuum. Did I mention shoes? ALL the shoes are mine. They come in pairs, not quads, for a reason.

3. The cat gets to sleep on the bed. You do not. You each weigh 50 pounds. The cat weighs 12. You sleep smack dab in the middle of the bed with all four feet spread out covering approximately 12 square feet apiece. The cat sleeps in a neat little ball covering about 2 square feet. The cat does not bring fleas into the house. You do. You, dogs, will never be allowed to sleep on the bed. Quit sneaking up when you think I'm not looking. Your 50 pounds of dogginess negates your stealth superpowers. I know you are up there!!


6. If you find something in the garbage can, assume that I intend for it to be there. Platic tampon shells are not chew toys. Don't eat them.

7. Also not for doggy consumption- anything you find in the litter box. This is why you no longer get to kiss me.

Have fun reading the rest.

Posted by binky at 10:36 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

A Tale of 2 Chairmen: Waxman and Lieberman

I was wondering when someone was going to get around to writing a story on this. The differences in the behavior of the two main oversight committees in Congress is staggering. Henry Waxman hired a staff of virtually all former prosecutors and has vigorously used his committee to uncover abuses and inefficiency, whether it's the administration's shameful treatment of veterans at Walter Reed, or the Blackwater controversy. Joe Lieberman's committee though, over there on the Senate side you can practically hear the crickets chirping.

Lieberman said he gets “angry when I hear about fraud or corruption in the spending of American dollars,” but it’s not one of his “priorities.”
Hmmmm. Maybe it's just me, but I was under the impression that doing something about such fraud and corruption was part of the senator's job as head of the Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee. Ah well, maybe he's just biding his time until Senator Clinton assumes the presidency, and then he'll put his committee to work. Actually with that in mind (and Lieberman's general lack of loyalty to the party), I'd think Harry Reid and the Democrats would be fairly likely to strip the junior senator from Connecticut of his gavel in the next Congress and turn it over to Daniel Akaka.

Posted by armand at 07:10 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Any Favorites for the Nobel Peace Prize?

So I think the Literature award will be announced tomorrow, and the Peace Prize announcement is just days away. Do ya'll really think Al Gore will win it? Are there other possibilities you think are strong candidates? Personally, I think I'd lean toward Lidia Yusupova, but I'm not well-versed enough in the worlds of human rights and conflict resolution and the like to know who all the leading candidates are.

Posted by armand at 02:18 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

When the WV Supreme Court Hears Cases Involving Massey Energy

So I am not an expert on the practices and ethics of judges recusing themselves. But this story on a major case before the West Virginia Supreme Court did make me wonder - Should judges hear cases involving close friends? If one man basically bankrolled your election campaign, should you judge cases involving him? And is the decision to recuse or not recuse affected by the fact that these justices serve on a 5 member court (so one on which one or two justices stepping aside could clearly affect the outcome)?

Posted by armand at 11:45 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 09, 2007

On the subject of personality types...

LesboProf has started a list of annoying academics: The Parent, The Cynic, The Slug... Check out the whole list.

Posted by binky at 10:13 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Hillary Clinton's a Feminist?

Not according to Andrew Sullivan.

While I'm at it: Several of you have emailed claiming that my antipathy to the Clinton Restoration is a function of my discomfort with women in power. This argument is a little weak since my entire interest in politics was born out of an unhealthy devotion to the career and achievements of Margaret Thatcher, a truly powerful woman and a far more impressive feminist than Hillary Rodham Clinton. Thatcher was not a willing and knowing accomplice to a man who routinely sexually abused and harassed the women in his orbit. Nor was she fully involved in the subsequent smearing of such women. Hillary was. Her feminism extends only to the extent that it advances her and her husband's power.

My. Though Thatcher is about the last person I'd think of to describe as a feminist. The picture I always think of when I think of her is one of her sitting at the center of her hand-picked cabinet - the only woman in a sea of 20-odd men.

Posted by armand at 05:46 PM | Comments (22) | TrackBack

Goldstein on Justice Thomas and "Stare Indecisis"

Tom Goldstein has this interesting post on the jurisprudence of Justice Thomas, the justice most willing to overturn Court precedents.

Posted by armand at 12:49 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Story Changes in the Film of The Golden Compass

Given how the The Golden Compass ends I was perplexed how they were going to turn it into a blockbuster that would make a fortune and attract millions of children. Now I know - they've chopped off that part of the book.

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

October 07, 2007

The Saudi King Checks Conservative Clerics

The rule of law (or what looks more like it to American eyes) is coming to Saudi Arabia.

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

Death and Hospitalizations at the Chicago Marathon

Even though 10,000 of 45,000 registered runners dropped out before the race began, officials closed the course after 4 hours and told people to turn back.


I started half-heartedly training for a half-marathon this fall and gave it up for business and laziness, but there have been some of these hot weeks where I have been really, really glad not to be training for anything.

Posted by binky at 06:53 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

WWII Interrogators Condemn Current Techniques

"We extracted information in a battle of the wits. I'm proud to say I never compromised my humanity."


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

Eastern Promises

I think I speak for Binky as well in saying that it's really good. The story is rather straightforward, though it takes one or two (quite possibly unnecessary) turns. But it's quite well made, and the acting is really good. Very very. Though I did hear some complaints last night along the lines of - "What? They couldn't find a single Russian actor for even one of those roles?" But personally I don't care about that. Good movie. Quite.

Posted by armand at 09:53 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 06, 2007

Does the lottery really support education?

I'm betting you already knew the answer was no.

Posted by binky at 03:23 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Che and George Will had a baby!

Several years ago, in my ongoing quest to make the outside of my house more livable than the inside, I built a pond in the back yard. I say "I built" but it was really a team effort, involving neighbors, friends, family, and a student of mine whose parents had just purchased twenty rocky acres in central West Virginia and whose dad dreamed of a smooth lawn. Every time it rained, more rocks showed up in his "lawn," nice big, flat ones. So I took my three quarter ton pickup down there and brought back two brimming beds full, and built an above ground, rubber lined, two hundred and fifty gallon pond.

Thus began the saga of the Communist Fish, and George Will.

Down at the local pond shop, the lady who runs the place figured that four fish that were between two and three inches long would be the appropriate population. When she scooped 'em up out of the holding tank, I pointed out to her that she had accidentally given us a fifth, a runty little grey guy, less than an inch long. She said not to worry, that it was a feeder fish, and would be free. Looking at these fish, the one that stood out the most was a beautiful white koi with a red cap, jauntily positioned slightly off to one side.

Che it was.

Then there were the two calicos, virtually indistinguishable from each other. They became Marx and Engels.

The last of the four full-sized fish was eventually the first to die, the other three unaffected, keeping their distance. Perhaps I doomed poor Leon with a name.

But what to do with the feeder fish? A dull, grey balance to the splashy revolutionaries, if small, and a latecomer to the struggle. Hence, George Will.

After Trotsky went, Engels was the next to go. For awhile, Che and Karl swam around, mostly ignoring George, who kept lurking about in the shadows. At one point, he concealed himself so well that he almost got discarded with pond goop , but was quickly retrieved, flopping, from a pile of detritus. Eventually, Karl went too, leaving George, who by this time was quite a bit bigger, larger than Che had been when brought home, and Che, who had doubled in size.

Just over a year ago, something interesting started happening to George. Whether it was maturity, new food, or a change in ideology as dissatisfaction with the Bush administration started to creep into his columns. George started changing color, slowly at first. When spring arrived and the ice on the top of the pond melted and he made his appearance, George was now a vibrant red-orange. And Che was relentlessly chasing George around the pond. This happened for months. I thought that since they were down to two, and since Che was bigger - despite George's new brilliance - he was picking on the little guy. As the summer wore on, I cleaned the pond, got new plants, picked up handfuls of goop from murk, hosed out the clogged filters, adjusted the waterfall. And I never saw anything, until today.

I went out to feed the fish, thinking that this would be one of the last feedings of the season, since once the temperature goes below fifty too many nutrients can build up and make the pond toxic. I also have to disassemble the waterfall and let the water circulate inside the pond, so that passing through the chilled air doesn't make the pump system freeze up, or risk letting the whole pond freeze for lack of moving water in th depths. All this was going through my head as I shook out some floating food, and noticed a couple of lava rocks that had spilled from the pump filter system onto the bottom of the pond. As I reached down to get them, the flesh of my hand a sharp contrast against the greenish black surface of the bottom, a runty little grey fish, about three quarters of an inch long, swam across the top of my hand. Had I not been reaching to the bottom, I never would have seen it.

So, Che and George Will had a baby. Against the odds, perhaps, and several years in the making. I'm hoping that there are others lurking down there in the murk.

Posted by binky at 01:42 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

In honor of the RIAA...

...and the $9250 song, a repost of my love letter:

Dear RIAA,

I am writing to express my deepest gratitude for all your efforts in lobbying Congress to change the rules governing internet radio. I confess that at first I thought that it was selfish corporate greed that motivated your organization to go after the little guys, who out of love for music, spent their spare time putting up freely available radio shows and playlists with no commercial intent or profit-motive.

I thought your persecution of internet DJs - hobbyists who loved music and recording/transmitting technology enough to spend vast sums and most of their free time assembling programs that were essentially free advertising for musicians – especially shortsighted, as they were not only doing work (i.e. playing and promoting new music) that some of you paid for both legally and illegally but also were doing it for artists that many of you barely promoted at all. I thought your insistence that internet radio stations pay outrageous fees unlike anything charged to regular radio stations (per minute per listener per song, no less) was a not-even-thinly-veiled attempt to force out those who were not big enough to swing profits your way.

Oh how wrong I was!

Now I see that you were really thinking of me and my best interests. Rather than being motivated by corporate greed, you were really concerned about my spending habits, and about my productive writing time. What at the time I thought epitomized the worst of corrupt crony capitalism was in reality the RIAA reaching out to help many thousands – perhaps millions - of people like me: people who spent too much time listening to music, and then spent too much time and money acquiring it.

How did you know about the seconds per hour I frittered away at my desk, glancing at the computer screen and then jotting down the names of songs off of playlists? And the precious milliseconds I squandered by slowing my word processor's speed by running one other program to play music that kept me awake at my desk? And the paper – oh the horror – that I wasted at a rate of a page a week to list the many music purchases I wanted to make?

The time was only the beginning, and it was my financial position that you were truly concerned for, I realize now. That wasted page a week of new CDs to buy was a major part of my expenditures. I budgeted and planned and waited for the chance to buy new music. Was I an addict? Perhaps, but with your help I have put that behavior behind me. I see your point now, and instead of buying CDs based on the tantalizing songs I heard on internet radio, well, I use the money to buy beer and listen to the same old Irish drinking tunes down at the local pub.

And it's not only me you've helped. I know there must be millions of others that your hard lobbying work has clearly helped lead away from excessive spending on new CDs. The July 2005 issue of Rolling Stone shows how successful you've been in helping people break the chains of music buying, and what a sacrifice you've all made (album sales down 7.5 percent this year from last) to assist us in our self-restraint.

Yes, I see now, that you selflessly sacrificed your profits to help me. I am spending less time listening to and less money buying new music. You helped me balance my checkbook and manage my time, and for that, I am eternally grateful.

Yours truly, A Recovering Music Buyer

Posted by binky at 12:11 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 05, 2007

Lapel Pins?

Okay if egg-head types want to engage in meandering discussions of what is "patriotism" they can knock themselves out. But any news reporter, station or show that treats this brouhaha about what lapel pins Sen. Obama will or will not wear as a serious matter does not deserve to be taken seriously. At all. Ever again. People, there's a war on. Tens of millions of Americans are without health insurance. Christianists are blocking the development of stem cell technology and advising that could lead to a lot fewer unwanted pregnancies (and hence fewer abortions). We are locking away our fellow citizens at a record pace, often for consensual crimes. The country is engaging in torture. The fundamentals of the economy are too scary to consider at length. And these "pundits", "reporters", and other serious people are discussing plastic trinkets that likely don't even feature all 50 stars. I'd have soooo much more faith in America if most of the nightly blowhards would call bullshit on this supposed story. Sadly, I don't expect that will happen.

Posted by armand at 05:55 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


I rarely link to other people's blog posts. I figure anyone on the net (who stumbles across this little corner of it) is likely reading most of the major blogs anyway, so I don't need to point out what others are saying (besides, armand does it better than me).

That being said, John Cole seems right on point here:

Seriously- what does the current Republican party stand for? Permanent war, fear, the nanny state, big spending, torture, execution on demand, complete paranoia regarding the media, control over your body, denial of evolution and outright rejection of science, AND ZOMG THEY ARE GONNA MAKE US WEAR BURKHAS, all the while demanding that in order to be a good American I have to spend most of every damned day condemning half my fellow Americans as terrorist appeasers.

And that isn't even getting into the COMPLETE and TOTAL corruption of our political processes at every level. The shit is really going to hit the fan after we vote these jackasses out of power in 2008.

Screw them. I got out. They can have their party. I will vote for Democrats and little L libertarians and isolationists until the crazy people aren't running the GOP. The threat of higher taxes in the short term isn't enough to keep me from voting out crazy people and voting for sane people with whom I merely disagree regarding policy. Hillarycare doesn't scare me as much as Frank Gaffney having a line to the person with the nuclear football or Dobson and company crafting domestic policy.

That is why the Republican party is in shambles. The majority of us have decided that the movers and shakers in the GOP and the blogospheric right are certified lunatics who, in a decent and sane society, we would have in controlled environments in rocking chairs under shade trees for most of the day, wheeled in at night for tapioca pudding and some karaoke.

If you click through, you can see Cole making fun of David Brooks, as an added bonus.

I think Cole says, more or less, what I'd say. I used to be Republican. I suppose I still am (in that I'm still registered as an "R"), but that's mostly strategic (I'm waiting to decide which party's primary I want to vote in). In any event, there really isn't anything out there that will get me to vote Republican this year (perhaps never again, but I'll think about that). I'm genuinely scared of the people running the Republican party these days, and wish they would leave sooner. Many of the scary ones have (Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Feith), but many remain (Cheney, Rice, Bush). I sort of feel like a parent with a missing kid in a china shop: I expect a very loud (and expensive) crash at any second, and I'm just left hoping it will only cost a great deal to fix, not indentured servitude as payment. I won't stop feeling that way until late January, 2009.

David Brooks remains a boob.

UPDATE: ...And this is exactly what I was talking about: the usual gaggle of wingnuts who are up in arms because Obama doesn't wear an "American Flag" pin on his suit. Is this what patriotism has come to? You're unfit to be American if you won't wear a cheap trinket (likely made in China) on your clothes? Patriotism is what you wear, not what you do? The Republican party is dead to me.

Posted by baltar at 02:10 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack


Deaths from amoebas are in the news, garnering attention because of public health concerns, and their possible relation to climate change.

While in the last few years, if anyone had mentioned amoebas to me, I would have thought about intestinal distress, and shrugged, given that I lived through a cholera epidemic soaking my veggies in chlorox water. These amoeba stories take me back to my childhood.

I always worried that my big brother was going to die from amoebas.

Crazy, right? Where does a little kid get an idea like that?

Her mother.

See, growing up in South Florida, there are lots of canals. And while many of them are disgusting and full of trash, or choked with algae, or scary with critters, some actually looked appealing (or did when I was a kid). I remember going fishing with my dad and brother in the canals west of town, out towards the 'Glades. I remember the time that my brother (my dad? I think they both reeled on it) thought he had hooked The Big One, only to find out that it was a bench seat from some 1970s monster vehicle. Thinking back, we're probably lucky we didn't hook into something else.

Anyway, my big brother was over a decade older than me, and a bit of a wild thing. He got himself into more than a few scrapes, which probably worried me, because I followed him around like a puppy. I remember taking a blanket into his room and sleeping in his royal blue metallic bean bag chair just to be near him.

But of all the things it could have been, I can remember my mom telling him (loose paraphrase):

You better not be waterskiing in those canals because they have amoebas that will get in your ears and into your brain and kill you!

It's funny what a kid's brain seizes on, and how that becomes one of the things you remember. The good news is, he never did get those amoebas, and not only did he survive them, he survived all the other scrapes with trees and motorcycles and barnacles and bridges and who-knows-what-we-never-even-heard about. And today is his 50th birthday, so I'll just say:

Happy Birthday Jimmy! I'm glad the amoebas didn't get you!

Posted by binky at 01:14 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

That's Goddess

NerdTests.com says I'm a Mega-Dorky Nerd God.  What are you?  Click here!

Hat tip to my fellow Mega-Dorky Nerd God.

Posted by binky at 01:00 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Way to Support the Families of the Troops: Deport Their Wives

Saw this on Balloon Juice, and I then wondered if I was dreaming. But sadly no, this is actually going on in real life.

Eduardo Gonzalez, a petty officer second class with the U.S. Navy, is about to be deployed overseas for a third time. Making his deployment even tougher is the fact his wife may not be around when he comes back.

His wife faces deportation to Guatemala - her home country that she hasn't seen since 1989. He also doesn't know what would happen to his young son, Eduardo Jr., if that happens.

"I like being in uniform and serving my country, but if she goes back I'm going to have to give it all up and just get out and take care of my son and get a job," he said.

"Defending the country that's trying to kick my family out is a thought that always runs through my mind."

Posted by armand at 10:07 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Mental illness, addiction, arrest

The spin is on in the case of Carol Ann Gotbaum's death while in police custody. What I don't get about the whole thing, is why they took her to a holding cell, and not to the emergency room or the psych ward.

The woman was screaming she was sick, and needed help. Her family members were trying to contact authorities to let them know about her condition:

According to the police report released Thursday, Gotbaum's husband, Noah, called the airport several times that night, trying to reach his wife or the airport police, telling them they didn't know the circumstances involving his wife, whom he described as suicidal.

I understand the urgency of the authorities to remove her from the center of the terminal, but what I don't get is why they didn't take her to a hospital. Watching all the available video, it's easy for a casual observer to see that the woman is disturbed. Police deal with criminals, yes, but unfortunately they are also on the front line in dealing with folks who have severe mental health disturbances in public.

This is something that interests me as part of my concern about the aftermath of the Iraq war. Mental health, addiction, and homelessness are a huge problem for veterans:

76 percent of currently homeless veterans surveyed had an active alcohol, drug or mental health problem, or some combination thereof. Of this total, 49 percent reported an alcohol problem, 40 percent a mental health problem, and 31 percent a drug problem. When the time frame is expanded to a full year, 83 percent of currently homeless veterans reported an alcohol, drug or mental health problem, or some combination thereof. Fifty-eight percent of the homeless veterans surveyed reported an alcohol problem, 46 percent a mental health problem and 40 percent a drug problem.

Often, it's the police who are called in to deal with the mentally ill or addicted homeless. Trying to remove someone who is actively hallucinating or experiencing some other kind of distress, whether ideal or not, is part of their job.

Withdrawal symptoms (emphasis mine):

However, within six to 48 hours after not drinking, hallucinations may develop. These usually are visual hallucinations but they can also involve sounds and smells. They can last for a few hours up to weeks at a time.

Also within this time frame after quitting, convulsions or seizures can occur, which is the point at which alcohol withdrawal can become dangerous, if not medically treated. The symptoms may progress to delirium tremens (DT's) after three to five days without alcohol. The symptoms of DT's include profound confusion, disorientation, hallucinations, hyperactivity, and extreme cardiovascular disturbances .

Once DT's begin, there is no known medical treatment to stop them. Grand mal seizures, heart attacks and stroke can occur during the DT's, all of which can be fatal.

The investigation into Carol Ann Gotbaum's death has just begun, and what really happened may not ever be fully revealed. However this case should be a warning, as the country prepares to deal with part of the aftermath of the Iraq war: the mental health needs and addiction of veterans.

Posted by binky at 08:53 AM | Comments (14) | TrackBack

October 04, 2007

The Frontrunners' Foreign Policy Advisors

Interesting lists. Clinton's and McCain's are pretty much what/who you'd expect, solid establishment names from the last few decades (with McCain's including a few names that prompt the thought - oh, X is still alive and active?). Obama's is really impressive, and includes an awful lot of people who once worked in the (Bill) Clinton circle as well as some bright new faces. Romney's is an interesting mix. Edwards' list is light. And Giuliani's list is as scary as you'd predict. Okay, there's the voice of sanity or two, Stephen Peter Rosen I suppose, but there are far too many names on it that make you fear for the nation.

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

The Older Ones Sounded Better

If you like cars, F1 racing or Ferraris, you can't help but like this ad.

As I said, the old ones sound much better than the new ones...

Posted by baltar at 08:46 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

More From Justice Thomas on Race and Judges

I don't think Justice Thomas is doing himself any favors in these interviews he's doing, even when they are with Jan Crawford Greenburg who's about the most supportive audience and reporter he could find. He thinks that race is the reason people complained about him replacing Justice Marshall, and points to the fact that similar concerns weren't raised when Justice Ginsburg was appointed? Yeah Clarence, sure, that was the only reason people weren't up in arms about her nomination like they were about yours. Putting aside the Anita Hill issues, there's the fact that many (reasonably) thought you were far from the best qualified nominee for your job. You were barely 40 and had been a judge for a year. Justice Ginsburg was 60 and had gained the respect of a wide spectrum of legal experts after a stellar career that included 13 years on what's often considered the 2nd highest court in the land.

And you obviously haven't taken Justice White's words (about forgetting how you got to the Court) to heart. I mean if you kept for years a list of the senators who voted against you ...

I really think he needs to stop holding these interviews. I don't know who he thinks they are helping.

Posted by armand at 04:40 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Bernanke Gets an F

From the Cunning Realist, that is.

couldn't believe the Fed would be so breathtakingly reckless as to deliver a big rate cut with the dollar at an all-time low, gold at a quarter-century high, oil at an all-time high, and the stock indices near multi-year and all-time highs.

The Fed is bailing out Wall Street, but that's producing loads of problems for the rest of us. And as far as how this fits into the broader scope of history, you might want to check out this earlier post of his.

Posted by armand at 12:23 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 03, 2007

Anita Hill Should Consider a Libel Suit

So says Mark Kleiman in a fun post that takes digs at David Bernstein, Straussians, Ayn Rand, Joe Biden ("competence and courage"), and most especially Justice Clarence Thomas.

Posted by armand at 10:47 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Lucky Montana



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

Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM) to Retire

Big news out of New Mexico. Given the state's swing status this should be another excellent pick-up opportunity for the Democrats. I assume the Republican nominee will be one of the state's members of Congress. It'll be interesting to see if they run against each other (if I was betting, I'd bet they will). Domenici himself has supposedly long favored Rep. Heather Wilson as his successor. If she vacates her House seat Martin Heinrich instantly becomes one of the top 3-5 Democratic House challengers in the country. As to who the Democrats will run for the Senate seat, that's unclear at this point - as it's been unclear all cycle. If I was asked to pick a favorite though I'd bet it'll be Albuquerque mayor Marty Chavez.

Posted by armand at 05:52 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Is Mike Huckabee Done?

I mean if he can only raise 1/5th of what Ron Paul's raised ...

Posted by armand at 03:36 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Wanted: Another Downtown Coffee Shop

Because I can't be the only person who's rather bored with the milieu of my current place, and I am all too often reminded of Cartman's dream when I go there.

Only three more hours, sea people. Only three more hours and you can take me away from this crappy goddamn planet full of hippies.

True, I want a downtown bakery and a downtown diner and a downtown Mercury-esque place more than I want another coffee shop ... but a new coffee place seems more realistic.

Posted by armand at 03:13 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

The Very Secret (From Some, Like Comey) Terrorist Surveilance Program

Jack Goldsmith was testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday. Marty Lederman summarizes some of the extreme measures the Bush/Cheney White House took to keep the Department of Justice out of the loop here.

Think about that for a second. Numerous telecommunications executives and technicians were informed about this top-secret program, and (presumably) were given some account of why their participation would be legal notwtihstanding FISA. But the Administration continues to refuse to inform Congress about that legal justification (even though it is now asking Congress to immunize the telecoms for having relied on the legal advice that Congress itself cannot see!); and moreover, the White House would not allow the Deputy Attorney General or the General Counsel of the NSA itself to be let in on the secret!

Obviously, the reason these officials were not "read into" the program until Goldsmith and Ashcroft insisted upon it was not fear that they would leak vital information to Al Qaeda, but instead that the legal justification was so transparently flawed that it could not withstand any independent review at all -- a judgment that turned out to be true, of course: As soon as anyone outside the Cheney/Gonzales/Yoo circle saw the legal analysis, they realized it was so extreme and untenable that they would have to resign if the President continued to act in reliance upon it. Goldsmith testified today that the NSA program was "the biggest legal mess I encountered [at OLC]." In light of the August 2002 Torture opinion, that's really saying something!

You don't need to be an expert on decision making to know that that's a terrible way to run a government.

Posted by armand at 01:07 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 01, 2007

It's always a good idea to know the vegetable you are cooking...

...before you start cooking it.

Hmmm, I think I'll finally use a couple of those yellow squashes that came off that vine that I thought was pumpkin, then decided was yellow squash.

Yes, sauteeed in olive oil, sounds delicious.

Well, that was a tough cut. I know it's kind of dark outside, but these sqush feel really hairy, and that thin part kind of felt more like stem. But, you know, I left it on the vine a long time, so maybe that's why it looks so globular instead of the yellow squash shape.

[Inside, in the light]

Wow. That yellow squash is really globular and hairy. And what's this? That really is stem?!

But. It's yellow. Pale yellow.


Hmph. For yellow squash, that really smells pumpkin-y.

Well, I guess I must be psyching myself out that these might be pumpkins, because they are clearly yellow squash.

[Heating olive oil...]

[Toss in "yellow squash."]

Hmph. That smells kind of sweet.



La de dah... butter! Cumin!

[Saute saute saute]

Voila! For dinner, we have fresh young pumpkin from the garden, with butter and cumin!


Posted by binky at 10:59 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Leave it to Wonkette to create this term. And sure, she's something of a hottie. Are there any other PMILFs out there? I can't think of any off the top of my head (though the PM of Portugal, Jose Socrates, is still rather handsome at 50). Ideas? C'mon, you don't really want to be working right now do you?

Posted by armand at 02:56 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Justice Thomas Thinks Very Little of White Folks

Under affirmative action, Thomas says, whites will forever believe blacks enroll in top schools or hold good jobs only because the institutions lowered their standards to accept them - regardless of whatever qualifications an individual may actually have. The assumption is that blacks, Thomas says, are not and cannot be as good as whites.

So is he projecting, or something - or are his views of white people as deeply negative as the grudges he holds against the senators who voted against him?

Posted by armand at 01:05 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Ben Wittes Mystified That John Roberts Is Staunchly Ideolgical

Apparently he really thought that Roberts would value turning the Court into a land of cuddly, buy-the-world-a-coke unanimity over pursuing his own ideological agenda.

The chief justice's own work was mystifying. He knew what was at stake: In an interview published in The Atlantic early last term, he argued, "If the Court in [the fourth chief justice John] Marshall's era had issued decisions in important cases the way this Court has over the past thirty years, we would not have a Supreme Court today of the sort that we have." That, he said, "suggests that what the Court's been doing over the past thirty years has been eroding, to some extent, the capital that Marshall built up." If the court does not "refocus on functioning as an institution," he argued, "it's going to lose its credibility and legitimacy as an institution."

Yet even having staked some of his prestige on unanimity, Roberts seemed willing to give up next to nothing jurisprudentially to achieve it. To be sure, he has largely refrained from piling on by writing concurring opinions or duplicative dissents. And he has sometimes declined to overturn precedents other conservatives wish to attack; for example, he and Alito did not vote to overturn the court's decision upholding the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law, preferring instead to carve out a yawning exemption from its strictures for certain types of "issue ads." Still, on the big votes, Roberts was just as predictable as every other justice last term, and he did not shy away from aggressive action he must have known would provoke liberal colleagues. Indeed, it was Roberts and Justice Stephen Breyer who, with equal fervor, went mano a mano over the legacy of Brown.

I'm once again glad I let my subscription to The Atlantic expire. Between Wittes and Flanagan and Hitchens ... the obtuseness, it burns!

Posted by armand at 12:21 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

What is Barbara Walters Up To?

Debbie Matenopoulos, Star Jones, Elisabeth Hasselbeck and now this idiot? Is Ms. Walters the power behind some SPECTRE like organization secretly plotting to dumb down (and/or seriously annoy) America? And if not, why does she keep inflicting these people on her viewers?

Posted by armand at 09:59 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Marion Cotillard

Last night Binky and I went to see La Vie En Rose. It won't surprise me in the slightest if the film's star gets a Best Actress nomination. But that said I'd say I enjoyed the film and found the performance quite interesting, more than I really liked either one. Don't get me wrong, neither are bad - not at all - but the way they are constructed, the work has a sort of wall around it that makes it hard to connect to. Though maybe if I was French ...

Posted by armand at 09:12 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack