December 31, 2007

Wait, Nagourney Thinks Iowa Should Be Decisive?

There's something really wrong with journalism (hardly a shock, I know) when one of the top political reporters at what purports to be the paper of record implies that the Democratic nominee for president should be decided on a cold winter night in the midst of holiday season, according to voting rules that occur nowhere else in the country, and by the actions of only 100,000 or so people. What if nothing's decided in Iowa? Errr, why should one tiny state decide it? Why does the press blow it all out of proportion. You mean the voters in the other 49 states won't have a clear cue on who to support? The horror!

Seriously, these people should be forced to work only 26 weeks a year, because they could clearly use some time outside the bubble. That said, any guesses as to how it'll turn out? I bet the margins will be so small that they shouldn't be newsworthy (though the press will make them so), but if I was betting on it today I'd predict it'll come out Edwards-Clinton-Obama. But then I don't know anything about what's going on there beyond the big polls. What do you think?

Posted by armand at 12:00 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 30, 2007

"Islam's Bloody Innards? Religion and Political Terror, 1980-2000"

How odd. I was reading through the new issue of International Studies Quarterly (a big deal in poli sci and IR circles as it's the lead journal of the International Studies Association) and came across an article with this provocative title. Obviously the (possible) link between a country's religion and the incidence of political terror is a sexy topic, one that would appeal to quite a number of readers. But isn't the time frame of this study rather peculiar? As we all know there's been a good deal of terrorism in the 21st century, a good deal of it in the Islamic world ... am I the only one who finds it odd that a top journal would publish something like this with only kinda sorta timely data?

Anyway, in case you you were wondering, the authors (Indra de Soysa and Ragnhild Nordas) find that religious variables don't have a great deal of explanatory power when it comes to explaining whether or not a country suffers from political terror. Political and economic factors matter a lot more. Being in the Arab region hurts, but over the 20 year time period they study Latin America has a more powerful effect when it comes to a regional influence. And countries containing a larger share of Catholics suffered worse than those with a larger share of Muslims.

Posted by armand at 11:50 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Film Bitch Awards Begin

If you like movies, both appreciating them and laughing at them, you'll want to check out Nathaniel R's place over the next few days. He's started his year end "honors" with the 2007 Cinematic Hall of Shame. I agree with a lot of this (though not all of it), and am made close to ill at having to remember the shameless, awful prancing of "Hammy McHammerson" (damn that was a horrid performance, though I liked the movie). But mostly I'm linking to this for Ryan, because there's no such thing as throwing too many barbs at Lynette.

Posted by armand at 04:52 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


So my first Netflix of the weekend was this charmer. And I've got to say that while I liked it well enough, I think the accolades have been a bit extreme. It ends up being quite endearing and a nice journey, but I found much of the first half pretty uncomfortable to watch. Now, true, maybe that just means it was real and accurate - but that didn't make it pleasant or enjoyable. But once I was under the spell of it, I enjoyed it, and I liked some of the songs a good deal, especially the ones in the studio, "When Your Mind's Made Up" and "Fallen from the Sky". Though, sure, "Falling Slowly" is understandably the one that'll be up for awards. And really I'd think it'd have to be a heavy favorite for the Best Song Oscar (especially since Hairspray's "Ladies Choice" won't be nominated).

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

Juno: Taking the Anti-Choice Side in the Abortion Wars?

Yowza, talk about seeing what you want to see. From some reason I click on Ross Douthat's blog and this is what I see:

And while Juno may not be moved by thoughts of her embryo's "hallowed rights," exactly, she certainly seems to be moved by the unremitting grossness of the abortion clinic (complete with a pathetic-seeming girl receptionist who tells her that they need to know about "every sore and every score") - and more importantly, by the declaration, from a pro-life Asian classmate keeping a lonely vigil outside the clinic, that her child-to-be "already has fingernails." (Careful viewers will note that while Juno sits in the clinic, filling out paperwork, the camera zooms in on the fingernails of the other people in the waiting room.) Just as the movie as a whole charms viewers (and particularly critics) with Juno's hyper-articulate tomboy cynicism, but ultimately asks us to admire the idealism at work under the cynical shell, so too does the scene at the abortion clinic invite the audience to giggle at the Asian girl's pro-life idealism ("all babies want to get borned," is her lisping chant), while simultaneously giving her the sincere line that makes all the difference in Juno's decision.

Ummm, no, this scene isn't showing that the anti-choice side is somehow virtuous and persuasive. The problem is that it's probably the worst written scene in the film, and some people are trying to read a political message into it. Juno decides to have the baby for no discernible or rational reason. It's perhaps the one time in the film that I actually believed she was only 16. Cody gives a laughably non-confrontational picketer, a depiction of a health clinic that deserves to be ridiculed (I've never seen anything like that in my life), a character who at this point we really still don't know, a woman who seems to be as gullible, irrational and weak-minded as Justice Kennedy seems to think women are, and we're supposed to draw some political message relative to non-fictional society from it? Errr, don't think that's a very good idea.

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

December 29, 2007

Daniel Handler's Adverbs

When he's not playing the accordian for The Magnetic Fields, or writing ghastly, amusing children's tales as Lemony Snicket, Daniel Handler writes rather more adult oriented fiction. His The Basic Eight is one of my favorite books ever. Adverbs didn't amuse me as much as that book did, but it's funny and clever and sometimes nails many feelings associated with that hard to describe thing called love. It's a collection of sometime overlapping short stories all dealing with some form of love. The idea of the book is a good one, and the emotions it conveys are sometimes quite real, but what really makes the book standout to me is the prose. Handler's a really funny and sharp writer.

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

"The Bush Administration's Dumbest Legal Arguments of the Year"

This list compiled by Dahlia Lithwick might be my favorite Top 10 of the season. That these outrageouse acts haven't provoked more outrage is deeply depressing. Hard to say which is the worst of these, though I'm partial to numbers 2-5.

Posted by armand at 01:50 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Breaking and Entering

My Netflix movie of the week was this beauty by Anthony Minghella. I say "beauty" because it looks freakin' beautiful, pretty much all the time. The cast is quite attractive of course, but more than that the way he frames his shots and fills the screen ... well, suffice to say that this is a very pretty film. It's also a film I enjoyed much more than I expected to. It's rather cold and hard, but as the plot unfolds it's really rather interesting, and I like where the movie eventually takes you - even if it's slow to get there and it's a less than pleasant journey along the way.

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

December 28, 2007

Juno and The Golden Compass

As I am now back from Christmas with the family I thought I'd post my thoughts on a couple of films I saw over the last week. First, as to Juno, believe the hype. Don't believe the premise - I never for a second bought that the wise-cracking lead was actually 16 - but put that aside and watch a really good film. The script is sharp, and it pulls off being funny, sweet and moving. And both the music and direction are great. While she was quite good I'm a little surprised at all the awards Ellen Page is winning. If she's winning honors ahead of Marion Cotillard (and she is) well that's ... odd. But she's good - and the supporting cast is even better, my favorites being Allison Janney, J.K. Simmons and Jason Bateman. All in all I recommend it, and I can certainly see why it's showing up on a lot of 10 best lists.

As to The Golden Compass, I enjoyed it, even if they messed with the book a great deal. It's still a nice diversion, and it's well played and looks great. The two main highlights are the perfectly cast Nicole Kidman and Ms. Kidman's wardrobe. But it has several other positive qualities and is a fun adventure film, appropriate for kids and adults alike. It's too heavy on exposition and doesn't explain "dust" effectively despite several discussions of it, but those are relatively minor flaws. I didn't like it as much as Juno, but I still liked it.

Posted by armand at 11:22 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 25, 2007

Happy Holidays

We're all off visiting family, and hoping you are enjoying the holidays.

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

December 22, 2007

Does Robert Novak Employ Fox News Fact Checkers?

Yes, Novakula still writes a weekend column, a short little thing with (would be) pithy attacks on Democrats, and against Republicans who don't tow his line. And I emphasize short and little, because since it is so short you'd think he could do a tiny bit of fact checking, no? Well, no, apparently not - at least not when it might prevent an attack on Democrats.

One of the largest among 12,000 new earmarks in the omnibus bill is $1,645,000 to purchase bulletproof vests for the city of Bastrop, La., though vests for the entire police department are estimated to cost only $700 to $800. The earmark was requested by Sen. Mary Landrieu and Rep. Rodney Alexander, both Louisiana Democrats.

Sure Novak is known to be facts-impaired, but changing Alexander from a Republican to a Democrat is a rather bold bit of misinformation, even for him.

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

December 21, 2007

Japan Cancels Humpback Whale Hunt

And apparently US criticism played a part in their decision.

Japan dropped the planned taking of 50 humpbacks - which have been off-limits to commercial hunting since 1966 - at the behest of the United States, the chair of the International Whaling Commission, said Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura.
Posted by armand at 05:26 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Jamie Lynn Spear and Venn Diagrams

I couldn't care less that Britney's sister is pregnant, and that this is deemed newsworthy speaks ill of the country. That said, at least this has created a little humor.

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

December 20, 2007

The SAG Award Nominations

No Atonement? No Sweeney Todd? The acting branch of course has a major influence on the Oscars, so the SAG awards nominations might tell us something about who'll be nominated for the little gold men. And some supposed favorites are missing from their list. But they also nominated so great performances that haven't received a lot of awards yet (like Ryan Gosling's and Viggo Mortensen's). Nathaniel R has the list, and his commenters discuss the implications.

Posted by armand at 10:21 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 18, 2007

Meowy Whiskmas

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

Tired of reporters asking pesky questions?

Shoot their dog.

Posted by binky at 08:29 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Not Associated With Hillary Clinton ...

... in any way you'll be able to trace. Stranahan's latest fake campaign ad is his best one yet.

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

No Movie Clips at the Oscars?

So they are going to have a show honoring movies that they can't show? Ummm yeah, that's going to be ... different.

Posted by armand at 12:59 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Pushing Robert C. Byrd Out of the Appropriations Chair?

I'm not sure I trust this story, especially since it names Patty Murray as his likely successor because for some undisclosed reason it would create "controversy" to name Tom Harkin, Barbara Mikulski or Herb Kohl to replace Byrd (all rank abover Murray on the committee), but The Politico is running a story that Democrats are considering easing the senior member of the US Senate out of the chairmanship of the Appropriations Committee.

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

Will & Grace, Season 7

So over the last couple of weeks I watched the penultimate season of Will & Grace on dvd. I often watch latter seasons of shows I give up on this way. And I've got to say that at least going off of this season, I was right to give up on this show. Will and Grace were never interesting, and at this point Jack's boring and Karen's turned into ... a 200 year old drunk robot? Well, it's some kind of gag, but I'm not sure I get it.

What still on occasion saves individual episodes though is the show's never-ending parade of guest stars. They milked that for years. Often the results were yawn-inducing (like Sharon Stone's therapist and Eric Stoltz as a man from Grace's past), but sometimes it actually works. Nothing in season 7 matched the success of "Last Ex to Brooklyn", the high point of season 6, starring Mira Sorvino, but there were some fun turns: Luke Perry as an unrecognizable HGN (the rarest of gays - the hot gay nerd), Lily Tomlin's cruel attorney, and Stuart Townsend's incredibly hot pastry chef. And simply casting Michelle Lee and Chita Rivera was so strange that it was kind of interesting.

The best of the best at this point in the show's run is a recurring character, Blythe Danner's Marilyn. She's great, as appealing as Megan Mullally's character was before she became too self-referential (Karen's still the best of the leads - by far - but she's drifted into the realm of being sometimes more kooky than funny). And knowing that she'll still be around, as will Karen and some interesting walk-ons means I'll still watch season 8 when it's released on dvd.

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

December 17, 2007

Kick Ass

A small thing, but it still kicks ass. Not that it's going to help the Dodd Squad much.

Posted by binky at 10:46 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

Sandy Claws

It won't just be ham, potato salad and sweet tea...

There's also Scared of Santa, a South Florida tradition.

And while not having anything to do with Florida, this does have fine examples of the kind of stylin' sweaters I'm sure I'll be seeing:

Posted by binky at 10:08 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Who'll Replace Rich Rod?

While our current coach packs his bags to begin a career that'll hopefully involve many losses to the Buckeyes, talk is building about who'll replace him. The Daily Mail describes likely candidates here. Out of those I'd say Doc Holliday looks the best bet, though Butch Jones could be a future star, and though they don't give him him a write-up (and even have him coaching the wrong school) I'd give Chris Hatcher a look too.

Posted by armand at 10:49 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

No Dick, Hillary Clinton Can Campaign

Andrew Sullivan, the go-to stop for all things anti-Hillary Clinton, links approvingly to this Dick Morris column stating the reason Hillary Clinton's lead has crumbled is that she doesn't know how to campaign and has never really had to, since Rick Lazio was a replacement candidate in 2000.

Now I know Sullivan likes Clinton even less than I do, but he should know better than to link approvingly to Dick Morris. Because ... as if. Morris ignores the fact that Senator Clinton played a prominent role in her husband's two (successful) national campaigns, and his 67 statewide campaigns (or however many it was), and she has been elected to the US Senate twice. And that first Senate race was far from a given, and Lazio was far from a pathetic opponent (and he raised about has much money as she did - a massive $40 million). Are her poll numbers sliding at the moment? Sure, but it's not because she doesn't know how to campaign. But if Morris had to go into why her message isn't selling that well ... well then maybe he'd have to write the kind of column that FoxNews wouldn't want to run.

Posted by armand at 09:07 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 16, 2007


I tried a new single malt Scotch tonight that I highly recommend - the 15 year old Balvenie. That is really tasty. It's both a great treat and a good way to warm up on a snowy night.

Posted by armand at 10:36 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

For the Miami Dolphins, the 14th Time is the Charm

They avoided going 0-16 this season! They just beat the Baltimore Ravens in overtime, 22-16, and now have a record of 1 win and 13 losses.

Posted by armand at 04:19 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Drezner on Mike Huckabee's Foreign Policy

Dan Drezner takes a look at Huckabee's essay in Foreign Affairs and comes away less than impressed. Actually that's putting it mildly. Take this for example:

Really, you just have to stand back and marvel at the contradiction of sentiments contained in that paragraph. It's endemic to the entire essay - for someone who claims he wants to get rid of the bunker mentality, Huckabee offers no concrete ideas for how to do that, and a lot of policies (rejecting the Law of the Sea Treaty, using force in Pakistan, boosting defense spending by 50%) that will ensure anti-Americanism for years to come.

And the hits continue from there.

In other 2008 election news John McCain has won the endorsements of both the Boston Globe and the Des Moines Register (for whatever good that'll do him). On the Democratic side the Boston paper went with Obama and the Des Moines paper recommends Clinton.

Posted by armand at 01:19 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 14, 2007

Little things

For many years, I have been a customer of Working Assets long distance. They have been a wonderful phone company, and I credit them immensely for helping me discover that I had been "slammed" by a pro-life phone company that proceeded to try to extort money from me. That's another story, though.

My beef today is with the marketing geniuses that decided "Working Assets" was somehow not right, and that they would change their name to Credo instead. Credo? What the... ? Credo? Ick. All I can think of now is that my phone bills are going to come with the message It's too late. You should have paid us at the first chance you had!

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

What the Oscars Are Really About

Nice leather bags.

Posted by armand at 11:26 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 13, 2007

The Huckabees - Too Ugly for the White House?

This is a serious question. One thing that's always bouncing about in my head is how our view of physical appearance has changed since the 1980's. People who then were viewed as amazing sex symbols would be today's wallflowers. Seriously, go back and look at the old music videos. Major objects of desire would, in a world 20 years later, be roasted for being too fat or too pale or lacking muscle tone. That said, is there any way that the country that we've become would vote to put a family that looks like this in the White House? Thankfully for Huckabee I presume those children are now grown and out of sight. But really, could a family that looked like that win?

Oh, and I too hope the puppy survived the photo shoot.

Posted by armand at 11:58 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

The 2007 Golden Globe Nominations

Here. Yeah, everyone considers them to be a giant joke. And with those John Travolta and Julia Roberts nominations we see that yeah they are. But hey any group that choose to nominate Viggo and Eastern Promises, Nikki Blonsky, Marion Cotillard, Amy Adams, Tilda Swinton, Ryan Gosling, George Clooney and Michael Clayton, well, they can work their whorish ways to support good films and performances too. So bravo to them for that.

And interesting that nothing from Hairspray was nominated for best song. Though since the song from that that's gotten the most attention so far in awards season is that slow Queen Latifah thing that slows down the movie considerably (brings it to a crashing halt?), I'm fine with that omission. Instead, among their song nominees are "Walk Hard" and song by Eddie Vedder and Shakira.

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

How to Restore America's Good Name in the World? Impeachment Hearings!

Actually, that's not a bad idea. Hey, if nothing else it's a bit of insurance against the killing blow to our image abroad that electing another Republican in November would be. And it's not like Vice President Cheney hasn't presented us with cause for such hearings. Sure, it's not going to happen, but maybe it should.

Posted by armand at 10:52 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 12, 2007

Huckabee's Aphorisms: Moronic, but ... well, Moronic


"A country can only be free if it can do three things ... feed itself, fight for itself and fuel itself."

I'd like to introduce Mr. Huckabee to a little thing I like to call Japan. It's one of the most successful countries on the planet, free by most any definition of the term, and last time I checked only able to do, at most, one of those. In fact, most of the free countries of the world can't do those three things. But for whatever reason saying things like this seems to have no consequence on his support. I guess people hear what they want to hear, facts be damned.

Posted by armand at 03:32 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Meet the Robinsons

So last night's Netflix was this very family-friendly Disney film about an orphan inventor. While it might well bore many people out of their mind, I will say it was very well-crafted and if this is the kind of thing you are looking for, well, it's well done. Beyond that I only have two thoughts. First, isn't it amazing what animation can do now? I mean I was just watching What's Opera Doc? yesterday and how far we've come (in terms of the technology and what one can do with it) is most impressive. Secondly, the bowler-hat man is one of my favorite Disney villains ever. He's hilarious.

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

Well that's a fucking pisser

Pratchett has Alzheimer's.

Posted by binky at 11:58 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 11, 2007

McCain and Edwards Are Their Party's Strongest Candidates

If by strongest one means who's most likely to win. I find that completely unsurprising. That said, I think in the grand scheme of things, looking out 11 months, Edwards' strengths are actually not much (if any) better than Obama's given that he's announced he'll accept the limits that come with public financing. I don't think any Democrat who wants to win in November 2008 should support a candidate who'll be doing that. But if he hadn't decided to go that route I think he'd be the strongest Democrat. Which is of course why early on we saw the puff/attack stories we did on his hair and his house.

Posted by armand at 04:55 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Fred Thompson Drops Out of New Hampshire

So, think he'll be back on Law & Order next season? Because it's looking bad for his campaign.

Posted by armand at 03:25 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Gitlin's Questions for Huckabee

Of course there are a lot more he should be asked (especially about freeing that murderer/rapist), but these aren't bad ideas. I especially like 3, 5, 7, the 8. His giant sales tax scheme deserves much more discussion (and derision), and all supposed Christians should be forced to defend their views on women's rights, contraception and abortion (like why they are willing to let women who engage in a conspiracy to commit murder - that is, in their eyes, women who have abortions - get off for their crime without imprisonment). If the media actually forced candidates to go on the record about these things and point out the logical wholes in their arguments I sincerely believe a lot of the silliness and danger in our current political discourse could be overcome. But the media never does that, sadly. They'd rather talk about Hillary's pantsuits, or the latest 3 point swing in the polls. But maybe lists like Gitlin's will get them to finally deal with issues like these.

Posted by armand at 01:22 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Office Christmas Parties

You'd think employers would ban them. They can't be good for their health plans (or the health and fitness of their employees). I'm now stuffed with meats and cakes and a cookie and a brownie and ... well, you get the idea.

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

December 10, 2007

Both US House Members from New Hampshire Back Obama

Interesting. As I believe the governor is going to stay neutral this means that both of the states US prominent elected officials who'll take sides in the primary are siding with the senator from Illinois.

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

"Young, thin and cute"

This is from a nice post taking down the "I didn't get hired because I'm a Repubican" whine/OpEd that people are talking about today, but I like this description:

Anyone who's spent any time in academia knows the grim reality: an overwhelming reliance on paid-per-course temps; the rarity of permanent jobs in any field in any given year; the hundreds of applications that get sent in response to any one of those jobs; the almost incredible number of hoops that any applicant has to jump through even to make the semi-final cut. You have a slightly better chance these days of making it as a rock star. Oh, and the qualifications for an entry-level academic job these days -- they're more or less equivalent to what the qualifications for an endowed chair used to be a generation ago. And no, it really doesn't hurt if you're also young, thin, and cute.

Posted by binky at 01:45 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Kimbrough and Gall

Two big sentencing decisions were handed down by the Supreme Court today. The dissenters in each decision were Justices Thomas and Alito.

The Supreme Court on Monday gave federal judges new authority to set sentences for crack cocaine crimes below the range of punishment set by federal guidelines - a major restoration of flexibility for trial judges in drug cases. It ruled 7-2 that the federal guidelines on sentencing for cocaine violations are advisory only, rejecting a lower court ruling that they are effectively mandatory. Judges must consider the Guideline range for a cocaine violation, the Court said, but may conclude that they are too harsh and may sentence below the range by considering the wide disparity between punishment for crack cocaine and cocaine in powder form. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote the decision in Kimbrough v. U.S. (06-6330).

The ruling validates the view of the U.S. Sentencing Commission that the 100-to-1 crack v. powder cocaine disparity may exaggerate the seriousness of crack crimes. The Court decision Monday rejected the Bush Administration argument that, because Congress had written the ratio into federal law, federal judges could not depart from it. The law, the Court concluded, onoly sets maximum and minimum sentences. "The statute says nothing about appropriate sentences within these brackets, and this Court declines to read any implicit directive into the congressional silence," it declared.

Ruling in a second Guidelines case, Gall v. U.S. (06-7949), the Court - also by a 7-2 vote - cleared the way for judges to impose sentences below the specified range and still have such punishment regarded as "reasonable." The Justices, in an opinion written by Justice John Paul Stevens, told federal appeals courts to use a "deferential abuse-of-discretion standard" even when a trial sets sets a punishment below the range. Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., announced the opinion in Stevens’ absence.

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

Want to Prevent Nuclear Proliferation? Negotiate!

That's Robert Farley's advice, and it's good advice.

Just about any nuclear program can be negotiated away.

Iraq gave up its nuclear program (as well as its other WMD programs) years before the U.S. invasion of 2003. Libya began steps to give up its nascent program as early as 2001, and completed them in 2003. Iran suspended its program in 2003, and North Korea, after years of diplomatic ineptitude on both sides, decided to give up its program (if not necessarily all of its weapons) earlier this year ...

This isn't to say that every nuclear program can be negotiated away; it would have been very hard, I think, to convince either Pakistan or India to give up their programs in the context of superpower competition. But these programs are far more contingent than hawks seem to believe.

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

McCain Calls February 24, 1996 an Act of Cuban Terrorism

Uh, what? I can think of a number of ways to describe Cuba shooting down those Brothers to the Rescue planes, but "terrorism" certainly isn't on my short list. Am I wrong? Or is it the case that Sen. McCain's pandering dial (and would-be tough-guy image) just went up a couple more notches?

Posted by armand at 08:04 AM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

December 09, 2007

Is He George W. Huckabee or Fidel Huckabee? Or Both?

Those are new names being floated by Andrew Sullivan and Mark Kleiman to describe the former Arkansas governor. Actually I think there are a lot of stories that could be written on the similarities between Bush and Huckabee (the big government Christianist who knows very little about foreign policy, but who the press decides is the "guy you'd want to have a beer with"), but "Fidel Huckabee" has got to be my favorite political label/name of late. It's sadly (horrifyingly) so on target, and given what's at issue I'd say it beats out "Sex on the City" and "The Club for Greed".

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

Mike Huckabee: No Abortions for 15 Year Old Incest Victims!

Crikey. I don't think I knew about this before, but saw it in a post by Neil the Ethical Werewolf.

Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas today refused to authorize a Medicaid payment for an abortion for a 15-year-old girl whose stepfather has been charged with incest, despite a Federal judge's order that such payments were required by Federal law.

So, yes, no following federal law either!

Am I allowed to call Huckabee odious now? And more and more I don't see why he gets discussed as the Republican nominee Democrats should fear. The one they should fear is John McCain. But happily the Republicans seem unlikely to nominate him.

Posted by armand at 10:44 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

As if those national championships weren't enough

Tebow wins the Heisman.

Posted by binky at 01:37 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

December 08, 2007

Huckabee Wanted to Quarantine Americans With AIDS?

Ugh, the more I learn about this guy, the more appalling I learn he is. I didn't think there was a Republican candidate (a real one, not a Hunter or Tancredo) I could like less than Rduy or Mitt, but Huckabee is giving them a run for it.

Huckabee responds. It would appear that he was poorly informed on key issues in 1992 as he is on key issues in 2007. The notion that there was any kind of scientific consenses then that would call for quarantines is ... well, a lie. And implying that opposition to quarantines is nothing more than "political correctness" is the kind of authoritarian statement that you'd expect of a Stalin (or some such person). And he chose not to qualify or retract his anti-gay statements at all. This is the "nice guy" in the Republican field?

Posted by armand at 02:09 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Rep. Jim McCrery (R-LA) to Retire

Wow. It's been perfectly obvious for some time that a lot of Republicans don't like serving in the minority in Congress and are choosing to leave rather than seek reelection. Still, it's rather big news when my old congressman, the top Republican on Ways and Means, chooses to retire. The Republicans not only don't expect to win the majority back in 2008, it looks like they doubt their ability to win it back for some time to come.

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

December 07, 2007

Does the Destruction of the Interrogation Tapes Hide a Saudi-9/11 Link?

That's what Gerald Posner is raising. And while I'm not often given to thinking there's much to "conspiracy theories" the deaths of those princes have always looked really peculiar.

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

Grading time out

Mel Brooks...

Posted by binky at 11:31 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Very Busy.

Sorry for the light posting; I'm very busy. Should get easier if I can find a good set of stairs.

Posted by baltar at 09:06 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 06, 2007


Since I know Ryan and maybe Moon were interested in my thoughts on the latest Disney and Amy Adams extravaganza ...

Honestly, I was disappointed. I thought it was going to be more of a satire of Disney classics. Instead, it's really more of a riff on them. There are several moments (several? make that lots and lots and lots) and numbers throughtout the film where you think, oh that's the update of X, or oh, that's shot just like Y. So if you are a Disney fan, you'll love this. Hell, you might well worship it. But for the rest of us it's pretty typical Disney, if still very well made and easy to like Disney. Amy Adams is as enchanting as she should be, James Marsden continues his habit of late of playing his roles just right (be it this or Superman Returns or Hairspray or Heights), the chipmunk is cute and funny, and Patrick Dempsey is an appealing leading man/straight man (this is very much his movie and Adams', the other players get much less screen time). It's all well done, the production design, the acting, the songs - I was just expecting something with a bit more bite. But this is a film where irony is explicitly the enemy. Oh, and a film about New York looking really good in the summer.

So is it worth seeing? Eh, sure I guess, if you are in the mood for sweeter than sweet. And it is well crafted. It's just not the divergence from the Disney canon that I was expecting. Hopefully I'll like The Golden Compass more.

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

Huckabee Claims He's God's Latest Miracle

More or less. He says what's causing his rise in the polls is what caused there to be more loaves and fish, and that he's gaining because people are praying for his success. So ... does God hate Romney, McCain, Paul, Giuliani and Thompson? Would God still like Huckabee if people weren't praying for him? Or ... what? And won't it be entertaining if some tv anchor tonight compares/contrasts this with Romney's speech today?

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


Freedom requires religion...

Not that he ever had a snowball's chance in hell to get my vote, but good grief. He might as well spit on the Constitution.

Posted by binky at 12:34 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

100 Years Ago Today - The Monongah Mining Disaster

Given our state's history it seems appropriate to note the anniversary of the worst mining disaster in our country's history. The next time you hear an argument about how bad unions, regulations, and limiting big business are, keep in mind things like this.

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

Romney Won't Talk About His Religion

Oh please.

"When I place my hand on the Bible and take the oath of office, that oath becomes my highest promise to God. If I am fortunate to become your president, I will serve no one religion, no one group, no one cause, and no one interest. A President must serve only the common cause of the people of the United States."

"There are some who would have a presidential candidate describe and explain his church's distinctive doctrines. To do so would enable the very religious test the founders prohibited in the Constitution. No candidate should become the spokesman for his faith. For if he becomes President he will need the prayers of the people of all faiths."

It strikes me that there are lots of logical holes in the longer excerpt at the link to Marc Ambinder's blog. But just given how he talks about the oath above, and his ridiculous conflation of talking about one's church with a religious test ... I wouldn't trust this guy farther than my fat cat could throw him. And it seems entirely appropriate to ask a believer (much less a bishop, as Mitt is) their views on these matters as they obviously will influence their views on morality and public policy, which are clearly relevant to how he would lead the country. The is lame, sniveling, and seeking to win the embrace of the religious while saying nothing about his religion. He might well make a better president than some of his opponents, but as a leader he leaves a lot to be desired.

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

Home for the Holidays

The joy of the academic schedule is the "time off" around the holidays. As most of us find, however, breaks aren't really breaks, just breaks from some kinds of work that allow us to get other kinds of work done (and which we have been putting off for far too long).

This year, however, I am really looking forward to the holiday break, and spending a lot of time with my family. Yes, I get crazy because people follow you to the bathroom to keep talking to you when you are just trying to be alone fo a few moments by faking intestinal distress. And about every other day I end up bitching at someone in frustration. But my mom and I have already talked about baking some of my grandmother's more obscure cookies. I'm sure there's going to be ham and potato salad and sweat tea on Christmas.

Mmmmm. Sweet tea. Not "sweetened" tea. Sweet tea. Mmmmmm.

Even more than drinking so much iced tea I won't be able to sleep from the caffeine, the perfect weather for drinking it is also on my wish list. I'm not leaving for almost two weeks, but the ten day forecast shows highs ranging between 78 and 82 and no lows below 60. And I am hoping it's going to be hot. I'd settle for warm.

Hell, right now? I'd settle for not having ice on the inside of my bedroom window, and for it to be something that isn't the 9 freaking degrees it is outside this morning.

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

Ed Lazarus - Let's Dial Back the Hatin' on Justice Kennedy

Sure he's flawed, but Ed Lazarus makes the case that Justice Kennedy doesn't deserve the vitriol thrown at him on a regular basis. And that some of the other justices merit as much (if not more) criticism. He ends by contrasting the love and praise former Justice O'Connor gets, with the hate Justice Kennedy gets, and finds it strange given what many people purportedly want in a justice.

O'Connor's jurisprudential style reduced an awful lot of important questions to her own personal judgment, as well as her sense of the public's mood. Kennedy, by contrast, is endlessly struggling (albeit with mixed success) to subjugate his personal views to some larger principle, and he does so in a way that is largely independent of the vicissitudes of public opinion.
Posted by armand at 09:21 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 05, 2007

Clinton on Iran in 2006 - The Bush White House Is Too Weak!

So last year Clinton was berating Bush, Cheney and company for not being unilateral or forceful enough on Iran. Yes, let me repeat that - she was berating Bush, Cheney and company for not being unilateral of forceful enough on Iran. And of course after that she voted for Kyl-Lieberman. Is this really the kind of person Democrats want to replace President Bush with? Someone who wants to be more aggressive than the current White House on foreign policy?

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

Is It Ever Going to Stop Snowing Today?

I decided hours ago that I wouldn't go to the office today. But I'm supposed to go to Granville tonight to see Enchanted. Will I? Maybe - but it remains to be seen whether or not I'll be able to move my car later as the snow just won't stop.

Posted by armand at 12:15 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Mike Huckabee, the Rapist/Killer, and the Letters from the Victims

The sound you hear is the Huckabee campaign going "gulp". Letters from rape victims that Gov. Huckabee's denied existed and covered up have come to light - letters from victims urging Huckabee not to release a rapist who he choose to release, and who then went on to rape and kill.

As governor of Arkansas, Mike Huckabee aggressively pushed for the early release of a convicted rapist despite being warned by numerous women that the convict had sexually assaulted them or their family members, and would likely strike again. The convict went on to rape and murder at least one other woman.

Confidential Arkansas state government records, including letters from these women, obtained by the Huffington Post and revealed publicly for the first time, directly contradict the version of events now being put forward by Huckabee ...

Thanks to Huckabee's intervention, conducted in concert with a right-wing tabloid campaign on Dumond's behalf, Dumond was let out of prison 25 years before his sentence would have ended.

"There's nothing any of us could ever do," Huckabee said Sunday on CNN when asked to reflect on the horrific outcome caused by the prisoner's release. "None of us could've predicted what [Dumond] could've done when he got out."

But the confidential files obtained by the Huffington Post show that Huckabee was provided letters from several women who had been sexually assaulted by Dumond and who indeed predicted that he would rape again - and perhaps murder - if released ...

Huckabee kept these and other documents secret because they were politically damaging, according to a former aide who worked for him in Arkansas ...The aide also believes that Huckabee, for political reasons, has deliberately attempted to cover up his knowledge of Dumond's other sexual assaults.

"There were no letters sent to the governor's office from any rape victims," Huckabee campaign spokesperson Alice Stewart said on Tuesday when contacted by the Huffington Post.

Waas notes that he received these letters from a Republican staffer to Gov. Huckabee in 2002, but is only disclsoing them now because of their relevance to his presidential candidacy.

UPDATE: Andrew Sullivan has Huckabee's explanation - apparently it was all Bill Clinton and Jim Guy Tucker's fault (how many times does he say their names? lots). My reaction to that, borrowed from Mrs. Slocum - "Weak as water."

UPDATE 2: And he doesn't know anything about the Iran NIE, and he's going on Don "Nappy" Imus' new show (sadly Chris Dodd's done that to, as has - completely expectedly - Bill Richardson), Huckabee's a real prize, eh?

Posted by armand at 09:55 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 04, 2007

Cute on strike

Posted by binky at 09:04 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

You know your economy's in bad shape

When the Brazilians start heading for home (bold is mine):

That decision - to give up on life in the United States - is being made by more and more Brazilians across the country, according to consular officials, travel agencies swamped by one-way ticket bookings, and community leaders in the neighborhoods that Brazilian immigrants have transformed, from Boston to Pompano Beach, Fla.

No one can say how many are leaving. But in the last half year, the reverse migration has become unmistakable among Brazilians in the United States, a population estimated at 1.1 million by Brazil’s government - four to five times the official census figures.

To explain an often wrenching decision to pull up stakes, homeward-bound Brazilians point to a rising fear of deportation and a slumping American economy. Many cite the expiration of driver's licenses that can no longer be renewed under tougher rules, coupled with the steep drop in the value of the dollar against the currency of Brazil, where the economy has improved.

"You put it all together, and why should you stay in an environment like that if you have a place like Brazil, where there’s hope, a light at the end of the tunnel and it's not a train to run you over?" said Pedro Coelho, a businessman in Mount Vernon, N.Y., who is known as the mayor of Brazilians in Westchester County. "Are they leaving? Yes, by the hundreds."

O pais do futuro chegou no presente.

Posted by binky at 02:11 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

And if you don't believe me, I'm going to hold my breath

And then you'll be sorry!

Iran remains a danger to the world even though it stopped a program to develop a nuclear weapon four years ago, President Bush said today. "Iran was dangerous, Iran is dangerous and Iran will be dangerous if they have the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon," Bush said

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

I heard the news this morning

There was a story about how US rankings on math and science internationally have dropped yet again.

Yeah, Texas, you keep going with that, and drag the rest of us with you.

Posted by binky at 10:53 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

First Lady of the Hamptons

I don't know what to say about this except - can you imagine the response of FoxNews, Rush and Malking would be if it was Teresa Heinz Kerry in this photo? This isn't why I don't think Giuliani will be the Republican nominee, but the many little things like this make it all the more unlikely.

Posted by armand at 09:25 AM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

December 03, 2007

Saving my pennies

This is probably off most of y'alls' radar, but I know we have a couple of readers - at least one across the pond - who will be eager to know that there are now 30 second teasers up for all the the songs off Brighter Than Creation's Dark.

I've heard most of these songs live as they worked them up on tour over the last several months, and I'm really looking forward to seeing what the studio mixes sound like. As I've said before, Shonna Tucker's been holding out on us, and she's got a great voice, that sometimes sounds like classic country and others like Neko Case (especially on The Purgatory Line). I totally dig Goode's Field Road, because it's a real stomper live. Checkout time in Vegas, which contributed the title with one of its lines, is wonderful Cooley storytelling. There's a whole bunch of more good stuff on there, but I just picked out my favorites (so far, based on the live act). Check 'em out yourself (and jacflash, 3 Dimes Down sounds like your kind of groove to me).

Hat tip to ScottyG from the Nine Bullets Forums.

Posted by binky at 10:30 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

We Don't Hate It When Our Friends Become Successful ...

And it makes no difference whether or not they are Northern ...

An old buddy has made the front page of YouTube! Here's the Safe Sex Juntoon.

Posted by armand at 04:27 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

"We Try To Be Less Annoying Than PBS"

With a slogan like that, how can you say no?

Gary Farber of Amygdala is fundraising.

Update: Chris Clarke too.

Posted by binky at 01:54 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

The New Iran NIE

It appears that the intelligence community still hates the Bush administration. Oh, and that Iran's nuclear weapons program was halted 4 years ago.

A new assessment by American intelligence agencies concludes that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003 and that the program remains on hold, contradicting an assessment two years ago that Tehran was working inexorably toward building a bomb.

I think Dana Perino should have a rough afternoon. Of course whether or not she does remains to be seen.

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

Because You All Hate Musicals

I thought it would be fun to link to List Universe's choices as the Top 10 Movie Musicals. What's 1 versus 6 or 9 doesn't seem remotely important, but what titles you would or wouldn't put on a Top 10 list ... comments on that? See I'm trying to get a couple of you to admit that there's some musical out there in the universe that you actually enjoy.

I think a lot of their picks make a good deal of sense when seen from the scope of history and the genre. Singin' in the Rain, Grease, Mary Poppins, West Side Story, and yeah even Rocky Horror I'm fine with. I've never liked Cabaret and I think The Lion King is overrated - and is The Wizard of Oz really a musical? So, others I might put in their place? Hmmm. Tommy, Hairspray, 1776 (yeah, I'm a dork), Moulin Rouge all seen possibilities, as does South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut (which I really should watch again soon - haven't seen it in ages). As for something more classic ... maybe Guys and Dolls? I don't know, what do you think? Are there any you like even a little bit?

Posted by armand at 11:19 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Lebanon Gets a New President

The leaders of March 14 are extremely annoyed, and Hariri wasn't even informed, but pressure from the French, the Egyptians and the Saudis was enough to get a new president elected in Lebanon. Joshua Landis has the story and a guess at why events unfolded as they did.

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

Back to Square 1 in Negotiations Over Iran's Nuclear Program?

While there could be more going on here than meets the eye given the intricacies of Iranian politics, the New York Times sure doesn't show us that. In fact, it's just the opposite. They paint this turn as bleak and definitive.

In a sign that Iran has hardened its position on its nuclear program, its new nuclear negotiator said in talks in London on Friday that all proposals made in past negotiations were irrelevant and that further discussion of a curb on Iran’s uranium enrichment was unnecessary, senior officials briefed on the meeting said ...

When Mr. Solana, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, said that he was under the assumption that there would be continuity in the talks, Mr. Jalili told him that was wrong.

After the meeting, Mr. Solana abandoned his habitual optimistic stance, telling reporters that he was "disappointed."

The French official described the meeting as "a disaster," adding "Jalili essentially said, 'Everything that Larijani has proposed is a dead letter and we have to start from zero.'"

The official also said that Mr. Jalili had declared, "There is no longer an Iranian nuclear problem," and had added that the only interlocutor recognized by Iran from now on would be the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The hard-line position from the Iranian side was clear confirmation that Iran would not compromise on this issue, the French official said, adding, "We have in front of us the real Iran."

An official involved in the talks put it even more bluntly, saying, "We can’t do business with these guys at this point."

Over at his blog Ezra Klein is suggesting it would be a good time to put the presidential candidates on the record as to what they'd do if an Iranian nuclear weapons program couldn't be negotiated away. He might very well be right.

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

December 02, 2007

College Bowl Season 2007-2008

The match-ups are set. Does anyone care? There should be one or two interesting games (Georgia vs. Hawaii in the Sugar Bowl is the one I'm most interested to see), but it's a rather ho-hum affair, and of course the championship game is like to annoy as many people as it pleases. But at least some will likely watch that. Does anyone whose job doesn't depend on the game, or whose children don't play on the teams, likely to pay the slightest bit of attention to the Orange Bowl? Virgina Tech vs. Kansas? It puts me to sleep thinking about it.

My hometown bowl game will be a monster match-up of 6-6 teams, Colorado vs. Alabama. What? They couldn't find a team with a winning record to take part in it? Not even 1 team?

Posted by armand at 09:54 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

So Are the French or Chinese Allowed to Kidnap You and I?

The Bush administration is once again showing off its unique way of winning friends and influencing people:

America has told Britain that it can "kidnap" British citizens if they are wanted for crimes in the United States. A senior lawyer for the American government has told the Court of Appeal in London that kidnapping foreign citizens is permissible under American law because the US Supreme Court has sanctioned it ...

Until now it was commonly assumed that US law permitted kidnapping only in the "extraordinary rendition" of terrorist suspects. The American government has for the first time made it clear in a British court that the law applies to anyone, British or otherwise, suspected of a crime by Washington.

Posted by armand at 07:00 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


I have little to say about it, aside from the fact that I liked it, and I am surprised it wasn't nominated for Best Animated Film at the last Academy Award. Not sure what I think of the film's sexual politics, but the animation is great and the story is fun and interesting. It's easy to fall under its spell.

Posted by armand at 01:37 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Hillary Stands Apart on Criminal Law/Sentences for Drug Crimes

And in bad, bad way. She, unlike Obama and Edwards, doesn't want to make the sentencing reforms retroactive.

Posted by armand at 01:32 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Replace "in medical school and residency"

With "when I was working on my PhD," and "summer camp/athletic" with "high school/girlie" and Jay could be writing about my experience:

[T]here were years of my life when I would have agreed with Valen about the menace of being with women in a group. For me the sorority house was a summer camp bunk, where I spent four years as the misfit fat kid with no athletic inclinations, a ridiculously adult vocabulary and a remarkable lack of social skills. At least once a summer some girl would pretend to be my friend only to turn around and use the information she'd gained to taunt me. It's not surprising that in high school and college I had mostly male friends. There were girls in the mixed groups I hung out with, and I actually had close relationships with my roommates my last two years of college, but I would no more have joined a sorority than I would have jumped off the roof, even if there had been sororities at my college. There was a Women's Center, but I never once set foot in the place. My advisors and mentors were men; my professional role models were men. I didn't identify as a feminist, in large part because I couldn't identify with other women.

That all changed for me in medical school and residency, when I realized that my experiences were deeply different than those of my male classmates, and I saw the inequities in the ways women were treated as patients and as professionals. I began to identify as feminist during my third-year OB/Gyn rotation, and began to seek out women as mentors and friends during residency.

While this is likely true for many women, I'm betting for nerd girls, it's particularly relevant.

Posted by binky at 11:47 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 01, 2007

The Pitt Game, for the National Championship Game

We're down 10-7 at the end of the 3rd quarter. Are we going to lose this thing?

UPDATE: Yeah, I guess we are. The Curse of being #2 strikes again. Seriously - has the #2 team in the country lost more often than it's won in this topsy-turvy season? If not, they can't be batting much better than .500.

Posted by armand at 10:11 PM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

End Of Year Lists

Just an informational post: I found this website which is keeping track of a whole mess of "best of 2007" lists. Everything from books to music to architecture to stereo components. It's a work-in-progress, so new stuff gets added all the time. Interesting stuff.

Posted by baltar at 12:29 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack