Saturday, October 22, 2005

There will be no jokes about Thomas Dolby in this post

The winners in this year's Visions of Science Photographic Awards, a competition sponsored by Novartis and The Daily Telegraph, have been announced. You can see them all via the BBC News site, what follows are a few of my favorites with commentary.

"I've heard of men who are all hands, but this is ridiculous! Thank you! Goodnight!"

Migraine attacks can cause a variety of visual symptoms (aura) as well as the notorious stabbing head pain. This is a representation of a barn seen during an attack, painted by an artist and migraine sufferer.

You'd almost think it was worth it...

The fine cellular structure of the stem of a sunflower is revealed here, including red vascular areas and blue supportive tissue. This systematic regularity contrasts with the sweeping outline of the butterfly.

"Every minute of every hour..."

(Hey, I said no Thomas Dolby, not no Tears For Fears)

Papa's got a brand new bag

One or two blogs have been cautioning those of us on the left that indictments in the Plame scandal may not, in fact, be forthcoming. Some have raised the possibility, which seems to me quite likely, that the president will just pardon anyone who is prosecuted. It's a question of whether he can afford the political hit right now.

Of course, it's always possible Cheney & Co will spend a few years in prison & Bush will pardon them at the end of his term. I could live with that.

Others have reached back in their memories to when President Richard Nixon ordered Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox fired when he insisted on obtaining the secret White House tapes. In the infamous "Saturday Night Massacre," the Attorney General and his deputy both resigned rather than carry out the order, but future Supreme Court reject Robert Bork was only too happy to comply. As I imagine Alberto "Geneva convention? What Geneva convention?" Gonzales would be.

Could President Bush fire Fitzgerald? Of course he could, but would he? Again, the question is, can Bush expend the political capital he would lose making such a self-serving move? Remember, according to some, it was the fallout from firing Cox that made calls for Nixon's impeachment overwhelm his Presidency.

Can Bush afford such a risk, with only seven out of 50 states currently giving him a positive approval rating? I tend to think that he can't, but acknowledge that this may be wishful thinking on my part.

So: Here's The News Blog with a post that responds and links to, and quotes from, posts from billmon and John Dean. Dean thinks Fitzgerald won't prosecute, TNB (and billmon) disagree:

What also needs to be understood is that if there are indictments, serious political damage would have been done. It's not Watergate, this is national security and the idea that aides to the President and VP violated national security for a political grudge is intensely damaging.

Given Bush's record, people keep looking for the deus ex machina. The problem is that there probably isn't one. Bush is in a tight position and he can't bail out Rove and friends without taking a hit, and Bush doesn't take hits for himself, much less staff.

I think TNB is right; but, as they also both say, Dean has been right about a lot of this, and deserves a hearing. Reads and makes up your own minds.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Ah ha...ah ha ha ha..ah ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha...

A rapist was captured after he forced his victim to write him a check and then tried to cash it, police said.

Anthony R. Roberts, 25, was arrested Wednesday night outside a check cashing store, minutes after he left the woman's apartment, police said. Police said Roberts forced his way into her apartment at gunpoint, bound her with tape and raped her. But first he forced her to make out a $1,400 check in his name, and told her to write on it that it was for electrical work, authorities said.

That's hysterical.

Some sweet hypnosis and the world just slips away

Terry Gross from the NPR program Fresh Air is featuring a couple of interviews with George Carlin and Steve Martin. I think you'll find them interesting; I did. It's the first time I've heard Martin speak at length about writing.

Even a broken clock is right twice a day

Like Maureen Dowd, Arianna Huffington is a writer I don't like as much as some of my liberal brethren. I consider her to be at best, untrustworthy. At worst, a contemptible opportunist who cynically changed sides when it looked like there wasn't enough room in the spotlight as a conservative. And the liberals promptly forgot about everything she'd said about Clinton and/or done to try to get her empty suit of a husband elected.

All that said, this blog post is dead-on.
In the Times' Sunday Judy-Culpa, Judy Miller said of her woeful pre-war reporting: "WMD -- I got it totally wrong... The analysts, the experts and the journalists who covered them -- we were all wrong."

To which a growing number of journalists are responding: No, we weren't.

This is no time for rewriting history, or for allowing those who helped the Bush White House market the war to fall back on the comfort and safety of a collective "we all screwed up."

Judy Miller needs to find a new rationalization. The "everyone was wrong, so no one was wrong" line is as thoroughly discredited as the administration's prewar claims... and Judy Miller's obliging reporting of them.

Among the many dreams I have for the next weeks, months, and years, is that representatives of the Main-Stream Media, and both political parties, will have no other choice but to start standing up & saying just who was wrong and who was right in the lead-up to war.

Call it a fantasy.

"Sunrise, Sunset"

Early and often in his autobiography, This Terrible Business Has Been Good To Me, which I have just finished, movie director Norman Jewison speaks about his identification with Jews and black Americans. This has driven his desire to help tell their stories.

Although he is white and Canadian, some of Jewison's best-known and most-awarded films are about the black American experience (In The Heat of The Night, The Hurricane, others.). Although he is Goyim, another is about Jews (Fiddler on the Roof). Many of these films are considered classics.

It got me thinking once again about why I feel a similar identification with my two lesbian characters, Keitha & Annabel. I mean, there's part of me that thinks I'm crazy (or rather, fears that I will be thought crazy): By what right do I presume that I can identify with, and relate to "the lesbian experience?"

One answer is I don't know about "the lesbian experience," I only know about my girls. Another answer is I don't know by what right...but I do so identify. So I guess I just want to say that Jewison's book, while a quick read--took me less than a full day--was kind of inspirational to me.

As is a quote with which he ends the book:
...after the premiere of Waiting For Godot, Samuel Beckett was asked why he had written such a depressing play. He replied, "Great art can never be an act of pessimism. Art comes from hope. The very act of writing something anticipating an audience is an act of hope."

That's the kind of thinking that keeps me getting out of bed in the morning...

Good Night, And Good Luck

The RT consensus for this film reads,

This is a passionate and concise civics lesson from the past, arriving with much political and cultural relevance to today.

That's true, and it's what I expected, but it's not the kind of review that's gonna get the Fog audience ("Civics lesson? Cultural relevance? Ew!"). So, what I want to talk about a little bit here is what I didn't expect.

The film is surprisingly tense and moving, even if you're familiar with the events it dramatizes, which I am. Clooney's script (co-written with Grant Heslov) resists the urge to have its characters embark on long soliloquies, and uses mostly their own, publically recorded words.

Everything else is suggested in performance.That's a tribute to the casting and the subtle performances Clooney got from his actors. David Strathairn in particular performs one of the most remarkable re-creations of a real person I've ever seen as Ed Murrow, but it's not a Rich Little-style impression.

Rather, it's a carefully assembled lesson in the art and craft of acting. Not a showy, "Oscar-bait" performance (think Jodie Foster in Nell), though IMO he deserves a nomination, but a disciplined, nuanced one that makes the audience come to him.

Similarly, Clooney is also to be commended for his low-key performance; this is no vanity project designed to show a movie star in the best light. He acts, as Fred Friendly reportedly acted, as Murrow's steady, supportive collaborator.

Another of the film's real achievements is that it reminds us of what a great writer Edward R. Murrow was; he almost deserves a co-screenwriting credit. And this invites us via inference to mourn the fact that we have no such men or women writing for the television news today.

I'm not speaking of political speechmaking, merely of writing, and it's a craft that Murrow practiced with the skill of Norman Corwin and maybe even of Sorkin. The film is a respectful tribute to him and if there is one thing I would like to see most as fallout? It is a new generation of journalists who know that we have had, and can and must have again, a better news media than we have today.

We interupt this blog for an unpaid political announcement

(again, a tip o'the hat to Egalia, who has a good eye for a funny graphic)

And this is the greatest conspiracy theory I have ever seen in my whole entire life

I swear I am absolutely not making this up. Someone on the conservative site Free Republic actually posted:
I don't know .. the whole thing is such a mess - I still say this "mess" has Hillary's fingerprints all over it.

Bill Clinton knew this was going down when he and Hillary were perusing Europe trying to sell her book. At a London function, Clinton was overheard to say to Blair, "If you don't stop supporting Bush and his war, you will not be able to win your next election". Within a few days of that exchange of words, the Wilson story broke.

And it just goes on like that. Well, it's official: The conservatives have crossed that line between everyday villainy and cartoonish super-villainy.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Oh...what the hell. For old times sake.

Let's kick Michael Brown in the head a little more...because he deserves it more than we ever dreamed.
Marty Bahamonde, a FEMA regional director, told a Senate panel investigating the government's response to the disaster that he gave regular updates to people in contact with then-FEMA Director Michael Brown as early as Aug. 28, one day before Katrina made landfall.

...on Aug. 31, Bahamonde frantically e-mailed Brown to tell him that thousands are evacuees were gathering in the streets with no food or water and that "estimates are many will die within hours."

"Sir, I know that you know the situation is past critical," Bahamonde wrote.

Less than three hours later, however, Brown's press secretary wrote colleagues to complain that the FEMA director needed more time to eat dinner at a Baton Rouge restaurant that evening. "He needs much more that (sic) 20 or 30 minutes," wrote Brown aide Sharon Worthy.

"We now have traffic to encounter to go to and from a location of his choise (sic), followed by wait service from the restaurant staff, eating, etc. Thank you."

Two things:

One: Gotta love an aide with such a unique connection to literacy.

Two...who else remembers the scene from The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King where Pippin...who knows the situation is past Denethor eat dinner? And sings:

Home is behind
The world ahead
And there are many paths to tread
Through shadow
Through the edge of night
Until the stars are all alight

Mist and shadow
Cloud and shape
Hope shall fade
Hope shall fail

"He was." Wow. hear about this former aide to Colin Powell who is just going off on Cheney, Rumsfeld, et all? It really makes for some, well, I don't know if you'd call it amusing reading, but I think you'll enjoy it.

Excerpts follow.
Lawrence Wilkerson, a retired colonel, also charged that, as national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice was "part of the problem" by not ensuring that the policy-making process was open to all relevant participants.

"Wilkerson embodies Powell and [Powell's deputy secretary of state, Richard] Armitage," who is also a retired military officer, said Steve Clemons, who organized Wilkerson's NAF appearance. "That's how his remarks should be seen."

If so, it appears that Powell and Armitage have little but disdain for Rice's performance as national security adviser, although Wilkerson was more complimentary about her subsequent work at the State Department and the relative success she has enjoyed in steering US policy in a less-confrontational direction compared to the frustrations that dogged Powell.

Wilkerson attributed her success to several factors, including her "intimacy with the president" and the fact that the administration "finds itself in some fairly desperate straits politically and otherwise".

Wilkerson was particularly scathing about the former under secretary of defense for policy, Douglas Feith, citing (retired general) Tommy Frank's famous description of the neo-conservative ideologue as the " stupidest guy on the planet".
"Let me testify to that," he said. "He was. Seldom in my life have I met a dumber man. And yet, and yet, after the [Pentagon is given] control, at least in the immediate post-war period in Iraq, this man is put in charge. Not only is he put in charge, he is given carte blanche to tell the State Department to go screw themselves in a closet somewhere ... That's telling you how decisions were made and ... how things got accomplished."

He also denounced the abuse of detainees and said that Powell was particularly upset by it. "Ten years from now, when we have the whole story, we are going to be ashamed," he said. "This is not us. This is not the way we do business. I don't think in our history we've ever had a presidential involvement, a secretarial involvement, a vice presidential involvement, an attorney general's involvement in telling our troops essentially, 'Carte blanche is the way you should feel. You should not have any qualms because this is a different kind of conflict'

Wilkerson also contrasted Bush's diplomacy very unfavorably with his father's. Referring to Bush's first meeting with former South Korean president, Kim Dae-jung, Wilkerson noted, "When you put your feet up on a hassock and look at the man who's won the Nobel Prize and is currently president of South Korea and tell him in a very insulting way that you don't agree with his assessment of what is necessary to be reconciled with the North, that's not diplomacy; that's cowboyism."

Right. Now that we've all enjoyed that, here's John from AmericaBlog with a note of caution:
Overall, this is a great article...Colin Powell's former chief of staff just SAVAGES Cheney and Rummy. But then he says something that is simply untrue. Powell is upset at him for speaking up because Powell is the world's most loyal soldier.

Powell wasn't the world's most loyal soldier when he publicly took on his commander in chief in that commander's first days in office in early 1993. And he wasn't the world's most loyal soldier when he savaged that commander in his subsequent memoirs.

Colin Powell is many things, including an opportunist who got burned selling his soul to the devil, but a loyal soldier he is not. And frankly, I wonder how upset Powell really is that his close friend is spilling the beans on how all of this mess is NOT Powell's fault. Uh huh.

So...I'd say, take a little from column A, and a little from column B. Sure, it's fun to watch more and more people dogpile on the CIC...but you always gotta consider the source.

And keep a dream alive

Atrios has a good post linking to and commenting on an article by Sam Rosenfeld and Matthew Yglesias about "liberal hawks." They write:
The incompetence critique is, in short, a dodge -- a way for liberal hawks to acknowledge the obviously grim reality of the war without rethinking any of the premises that led them to support it in the first place. In part, the dodge helps protect its exponents from personal embarrassment. But it also serves a more important, and dangerous, function: Liberal hawks see themselves as defenders of the legitimacy of humanitarian intervention -- such as the Clinton-era military campaigns in Haiti and the Balkans -- and as advocates for the role of idealism and values in foreign policy. The dodgers believe that to reject the idea of the Iraq War is, necessarily, to embrace either isolationism or, even worse in their worldview, realism -- the notion, introduced to America by Hans Morgenthau and epitomized (not for the better) by the statecraft of Henry Kissinger, that U.S. foreign policy should concern itself exclusively with the national interest and exclude consideration of human rights and liberal values. Liberal hawk John Lloyd of the Financial Times has gone so far as to equate attacks on his support for the war with doing damage to “the idea, and ideal, of freedom itself.”

It sounds alluring. But it’s backward: An honest reckoning with this war’s failure does not threaten the future of liberal interventionism. Instead, it is liberal interventionism’s only hope. By erecting a false dichotomy between support for the current bad war and a Kissingerian amoralism, the dodgers run the risk of merely driving ever-larger numbers of liberals into the realist camp. Left-of-center opinion neither will nor should follow a group of people who continue to insist that the march to Baghdad was, in principle, the height of moral policy thinking. If interventionism is to be saved, it must first be saved from the interventionists.

To which Atrios adds:
When the Bush administration kicked the soccer ball away from Afghanistan and towards Iraq the media and the "liberal hawks" and the country dutifully followed, aborting what could have been the greatest humanitarian triumph in history. One which, given the speed at which books about the place were selling after 9/11, would've had the full support of the country. I was somewhat surprised but deeply proud of the fact that post-9/11 much of the country seemed to buy into the idea that bad people had taken over a country of good people. There was a heartwarming generosity after 9/11, a sense that we must help those people - not the bad people, but the ones under their thumb.

Yes, we're still in Afghanistan, but we haven't exactly thrown all possible resources into bringing that country into modernity. We had our chance, but Iraq was a much shinier toy.


as if he hoped the answer would change

Via War and Piece, an LA Times article about Cheney and his staff's war with the CIA:
When Cheney visited the CIA, Iraq was his main focus, particularly in the months before the war. Unlike Libby and others working with the vice president, Cheney was reportedly always polite. But in his quiet way, he was insistent, sometimes asking the same question again and again as if he hoped the answer would change, according to people familiar with his contacts with the CIA.

Lately I keep thinking about the famous line from the Sherlock Holmes stories,
"It is a capital mistake to theorise before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts..."

That's what I think about when I'm having conversations with Republicans who believe Delay's troubles stem from nothing more than a vindictive and partisan prosecutor. That's what I think about the WHIG.

True, we all make Holmes' capital mistake from time to time. Trouble is...very few of us are in a position to have any deaths result from it.

It's fundraising day. Please consider a small donation...

If you look over to the right there and click the View my complete profile link you'll find, among other things, a link to my Wish List. If you're amazed at the quality of posts on this site (I know I am), please consider making a small donation to the Buy Ben Those Books And CDs He Can't Score Through The Ink 19 Gig Fund. I thank you.

Why The Internet Was Invented, Part Two

So we could have sites like this one, an entire site devoted to one of the most classic, most fan-favorite and most well-known cartoons ever made...Chuck Jones and Michael Maltese's One Froggy Evening. You've seen it, you love it, you've always wondered about it...

That's the most disturbing picture I've ever seen in my whole entire life

Firedoglake has an entry about the relationship between Judith Miller and the WHIG (White House Iraq Group). But if you're anything like me, you'll have trouble getting past the picture they use to start it off.

Let's just say it illustrates that relationship as it pertains to Miller and Dick Cheney in a a dirty, visual...oh just have a look. You know you want to now, you pervs.

ETA, on the other hand, this one, courtesy of TGW, made me smile:

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Leonard Cohen~I Came so Far for Beauty

I came so far for beauty
I left so much behind
My patience and my family
My masterpiece unsigned

I thought I'd be rewarded
For such a lonely choice
And maybe she would answer
To such a hopeless voice

But no, I could not touch her
With such a heavy hand
Her star beyond my order
Her nakedness unmanned

I came so far for beauty
I left so much behind
My patience and my family
My masterpiece unsigned

You eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeediots! (as Ren would say)


The latest idiot unmasked is Slate's Jacob Weisberg.

No one disputes that Bush officials negligently and stupidly revealed Valerie Plame's undercover status. But after two years of digging, no evidence has emerged that anyone who worked for Bush and talked to reporters about Plame--namely Rove or Scooter Libby, the vice president's chief of staff--knew she was undercover.

I didn't realize Weisberg had access to Fitzgerald's files.

The problem for these idiots is that they long for a Ken Starr-type investigation, with investigators leaking like sieves. They can't stand a prosecutor who conducts his campaign with the type of professionalism and -- yes -- secrecy, that doing his job right requires.

Say, remember that Bill Bennett thing?

Sure you do. Bill "Book of Virtues" Bennett said that aborting all African-American babies, while "an impossible, ridiculous, and morally reprehensible thing to do," would make the crime rate go down.

A probably at least latently racist, but certainly stupid, unfortunate and hurtful comment. But it happened at least three weeks ago, which is like two years in blog time. However, a timely fellow named Todd Manzi has just joined the conversation. He begins:
Everyone is weighing in on what Bill Bennett said on his radio program. Everyone is eager to offer their opinion on his words and whether or not he should have said them. Everyone is missing the point.

Um, no, Todd. Everyone was weighing in and eager to offer their opinion over two weeks ago. Now we're a little more interested in things like:

Bush knowing Rove was the CIA leak
Tom Delay's lawyer making claims he can't justify
Bush's patently unqualified nominee to the supreme court

But none of that lets you work up a head of steam about liberal Democrats, does it? As others have in the past, Manzi contrives to disingenuously miss what many found offensive about Bennett's remarks: The way his brain is apparently wired, black=criminal.

He continues at some length (to the tune of 2,906 words), but his basic point is contained in his affecting to be shocked-shocked! that:

Democrat Congressman John Conyers in a press release disguised as a letter to Salem Radio Network said:

. . . we simply cannot countenance statements and shows that are replete with racism, stereotyping, and profiling. Mr. Bennett’s statement is insulting to all of us and has no place on the nation’s public air waves.

Keep in mind that Conyers released his letter to a wire service with the hope that the story, now with him in it, would get play on the air waves. Conyers was attempting to gain more exposure of Bennett’s statement.

Dear god. You mean...a politican attempted to take advantage of a clumsy remark made by someone on the other side, and get himself a little media spotlight in the bargain? Say it ain't so. Manfred, bring me my smelling salts...

ETA: Oliver Willis adds to the chorus of horror:
It’s not like the right-wing has several hundred non-profit groups and politicians and media outlets that jump on an issue and bray like dogs in heat until it gets covered by the mainstream press no matter how sketchy the actual substance of the issue is - right?

The poor babies.

Yaz~Winter Kills

in your love
on bright days
You grew sun blind
you thought me unkind
To remind you
how winter kills

in daydreams
you drove too fast
and got nowhere
You rode on half fare
when you got too scared
How winter kills

Tear at me searching for weak scenes

in your eyes
makes me cruel
Makes me spiteful
tears are delightful
welcome your nightfall
How winter kills

I'll tear at you searching for weak scenes...

How winter kills

Some interesting poems

Blogs I find through the wonders of Site Meter, part three: Dirt Road Journey's.
Slice of Watermelon
Juicy escapee
running down your chin

Arched back
Soft conversation
Breathy serenade
in liason

I'd make you dinner
if you could make me.
Bury your face in my neck
I'll pour the cognac.

You know I can't
take constructive criticism.
Tell my pride to have
a seat.
Because it isn't you,
it's just me.

All of a sudden
I think of
Alex P. Keaton
I need my chucks,
something to put my feet in.

A little lesson in misrepresentative linking

Okay. As we know, the strategy of Tom Delay's team and his supporters is to claim that Texas DA Ronnie Earle is "vindictive and partisan." All Delay's legal issues stem from this liberal attack, and not from any real wrongdoing, they say.

One of the "facts" those who believe this use to support their theory is Delay's lawyer alleging that Earle "participated in grand jury deliberations" or "shopping." Only trouble is, there's no evidence of this. And Delay's lawyer admits it.

In fact, funny thing is, almost all the claims of impropriety on Earle's part come from...hold your breath, I know you'll be surprised...Delay's lawyers. Who...let's face it, they're not unbiased (obviously, laughably not unbiased). Which, again, is fine--it's their job to spin. But people not being paid who-knows-how-many dollars to create a smokescreen for him should not be taking their statements so uncriticaly.

Which brings me to the misrepresentative linking. Our friends over at the Media Blog On National Review Online are, of course, conservatives. So to them, every question raised about the legality of Earle's actions and/or his ethics is Gospel Truth. No matter who raised it or what self-apparently transparent motives they might have.

Which is why their link to the story that says Delay's lawyer has no evidence of grand-jury shopping is contained in this paragraph:
Now it's looking like the tables might be turned, as DeLay's attorney, top Texas lawyer Dick DeGuerin, is looking into Earle's grand-jury shopping and possible misconduct. As much as the media would like to fit the DeLay indictment into their portrait of GOP corruption, it's looking like this puzzle piece just won't fit.

You get that? They're making a claim while providing a link to a story that casts doubt upon their claim. I don't know, maybe they just expect their readers not to follow the links. Or maybe they know that most National Review-type conservatives learned a long time ago how to juggle denial and delusion when necessary.

If I had to put money down, I'd put it on the latter.


About this "Bush and Cheney's hands are dirty up to their wrists in this. I think Libby and Rove are essentially throwing themselves in front of the train." theory of mine.

From the NY Daily News:
Other sources confirmed, however, that Bush was initially furious with Rove in 2003 when his deputy chief of staff conceded he had talked to the press about the Plame leak....

A second well-placed source said some recently published reports implying Rove had deceived Bush about his involvement in the Wilson counterattack were incorrect and were leaked by White House aides trying to protect the President.

"Bush did not feel misled so much by Karl and others as believing that they handled it in a ham-handed and bush-league way," the source said.

Emphasis mine, of course. If this is true, then the answer to the classic question "what did the president know, and when did he know it," is: He knew Rove was the leaker in 2003. The President of the United States has been protecting a man he knew to have comitted treason.

ETA: Oh! And I can't believe I missed this! ReddHedd at firedoglake caught, in that last quoted paragraph:
Bush-league? Man, was that a poor choice of words! Running like rats from a sinking ship, and the indictments haven't even hit yet.

Acknowledgement to AmericaBlog, where I first found this little bombshell. They also mention the words: Obstruction of justice...

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

You cannot force democracy at the point of a gun.

My man James finds:

Yet another reason for war falls
Has another Bush doctrine bitten the dust?

David E. Sanger writes in the New York Times: "For most of the 30 months since American-led forces ousted Saddam Hussein, the Bush administration has argued that as democracy took hold in Iraq, the insurgency would lose steam because Al Qaeda and the opponents of the country's interim government had nothing to offer Iraqis or the people of the Middle East. . . .

"But inside the administration, that belief provides less solace than it once did. Senior officials say the intelligence reports flowing over their desks in recent months argue that even if democratic institutions take hold, the insurgency may strengthen. And that possibility has created a quandary for an administration that desperately wants to equate democracy-building with winning the war, but so far has not been able to match the two."

You cannot force democracy at the point of a gun. Even fraudulent democracy.

Even Tennessee has figured it out

From TGW:

According to the latest 50 state Survey USA poll, Bush has a positive net job approval rating (approval minus disapproval) in only SEVEN states.

Rhode Island gives Dubya the lowest job approval score at -41 percent. In the red state of Tennessee, Bush scores a whopping -17 percent.

In Washington, he's -21%. Neah, we hate him more.

Media Girl points out a potential silver lining

Vice President Rice?
By media girl -- posted October 18, 2005 - 12:06pm
There are rumors afoot.

If it were to happen -- and these are only rumors -- it makes Bush much less impeachment-proof. (The spectre of President Cheney is too frightening for most folks who aren't in league with Satan.)

and Good Luck

Terry Gross has a good interview on Fresh Air with George Clooney . At the risk of sounding like a starry-eyed teenybopper, I like Clooney. He's the kind of movie star that it's hard to resent because...well, it's a cliche, but the (straight) women want to fool around with him, and the (again, straight) men want to hang around with him.

I'm a straight man (no, really, no matter what you've heard), so I just want to hang out with him. He seems like such a...guy. He also comes off as pretty smart (I mean...for an actor) in this interview and others, with a good sense of humor about himself, and genuinely thoughtful.

The interview is mainly about his new movie about Murrow and McCarthy, but it wanders afield a bit to some interesting places. I hope to see the film this weekend, then I'll blog about it and you probably won't have to "listen" to me talk about it any more.

from all these rumors I can't take it no more

Sparked by today's Washington Post story that suggests Vice President Cheney's office is involved in the Plame-CIA spy link investigation, government officials and advisers passed around rumors that the vice president might step aside and that President Bush would elevate Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

"It's certainly an interesting but I still think highly doubtful scenario," said a Bush insider. "And if that should happen," added the official, "there will undoubtedly be those who believe the whole thing was orchestrated – another brilliant Machiavellian move by the VP."

My god. It's so ironic, it's perfect. Cheney resigns, Bush elevates Condi to the vice-presidency. A few months later, Bush resigns, citing "health issues" which everyone understands to mean a return to the bottle.

The first black woman in the white house is a republican whom nobody elected, an Alice in a Wonderland beyond Lewis Carrol's imagination. Then when she runs in 2008, any and all criticism is deflected as sexism and/or racism.

That's exactly what's going to happen.

Oh, my god

President Bush's job approval rating has slipped to 39%, the lowest measure of his presidency, according to a USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll

As Matthew Gross says, it's getting harder for we leftie blogs to know what to say about things like this. Fortunately, we don't have nearly the worries of right-wing bloggers like Don Surber.

Surber's response to the poll is positively surly (the headline: Yea? Well Bush Is Only 39% Happy With You, Too) in its insistence on blaming, to coin a phrase: "Anyone but Bush."

Liberals never got over 2000. That's why Bush can't sell it anymore.
Traitorous conservatives are turning against him cause of Miers. That's why Bush can't sell it anymore.
Bush nobly sacrificed his political capital trying to save Social Security. That's why he can't sell it anymore.

He goes on in this vein for 17 paragraphs, and only mentions once, in passing, the issue that, it seems obvious to me, is most responsible for Bush's failing fortunes: Iraq! However, he does find space for one or two cheap shots at Clinton. That's only to be expected from the right.

Still, as I say, this post did strike me as unusually surly, even for a right-wing blogger, even for Surber, who I've read before. If I had to speculate as to why, I'd say it's because he knows something in his gut:

The storm is gathering.
the NY Daily News will report in tomorrow's edition that a well-placed source within the WH has flipped and has been helping Fitzgerald. And that all eyes are absolutely on Dick Cheney. Haven't see the NYDaily News piece yet. No idea what it says. But I swear, my birthday may be coming a day early this year if it is true.

Update: Here's the story. It's true. =)

Another reason to stop shopping at Albertson's

Of course, those of you who who read my old blog stopped shopping there when they started letting their pharmacists let "conscience" be their guide in filling prescriptions for birth control pills.

Well, now there's more. In the October issue of Seventeen magazine, there is an article called "Vagina 101." Sounds like a class I wish I could have taken in college, but this is a health article. However...

You see it coming, don't you?

The October issue of Seventeen magazine has been pulled from the shelves at 2,500 Albertsons stores because of an article titled "Vagina 101" that includes graphic photos of female genitalia.

Seventeen was not on the shelves of the Durango Albertsons on Friday, but it did have Men’s Health (“Sex: Her hottest hot spots”), Cosmopolitan (“101 sex tips”) and Jane (“Do miniskirts and major cleavage still pay dividends? We dress like whores to find out!”).
An Albertsons spokeswoman did not immediately return phone calls Friday requesting comment.

Remember: Your vaginas are dirty and nasty. Sluts.

And now, it's time to play a special awkward edition of everybody's favorite game show...

That's right, ladies and gentlemen, it's...

"Who said it?"

What is most troubling about this whole affair, however, is the way the administration has gone about trying to demonize [those] who have raised questions about Ms. Miers. It began from day one to attack personally the motives, loyalty and judgment of anyone who questioned the wisdom of the nomination. Since then, the ad hominem attacks on Miers’s...critics have been unconscionably heavy-handed and will haunt the president regardless of how the nomination fight turns out.

Now then...who said it? Was it:

A representative of the demon MSM, such as the Washington Post?
A mayor of the former New Orleans?
Maggie Thatcher?

Or was it...

TV Update Six

The Colbert Report launched tonight, and I'll give it a solid B-, with the full expectation that as it continues and they get the bugs out, it'll improve. Ways I'd do that: Change the look and the music of the show, especially in the opening segment, so that it looks and sounds like less of a "Daily Show" spinoff. I know that's what it is, but there's ways to de-emphasize the connection so that the show stands more on its own.

To be fair, they're walking a line, like any spinoff. You want the show to please the original audience, but you don't want it to be a slavish copy.

Stephen Colbert's sense of humor, out from under the Jon Stewart umbrella, seems to have a larger streak of pure silliness. This came to the fore in the second and third segments, first in an interview with Stone Phillps. This took place at a "Charlie Rose" style round table, the dignity of which didn't stop the two men from trying to "out award" each other.

Colbert to Phillips: Do you keep your Emmy next to your...Peabody?

In the third segment the two competed in an increasingly surreal "gravitas-off," reading first news copy and then tongue twisters (he thrusts his fists against the post...) with suitably somber sobriety.

Not that anyone from the show's likely to be reading this, but if they do stumble across it: If it was me, I'd cultivate that note of silliness, which is delightfully antic, and leave the satire to the parent program.

Not because Colbert can't do it, but because we already have Jon for that.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Bwa ha...bwa ha ha...bwa ha ha ha ha ha ha ha...

Okay, one of the bigger stories bouncing around the blogs today is this at Cheney May Be Entangled in CIA Leak Investigation. It's good stuff for those of you jonesing to know the latest.

But buried way down at the bottom was the little piece of info that got me chuckling like a Disney cartoon villain...
In an interview yesterday, Wilson said that once the criminal questions are settled, he and his wife may file a civil lawsuit against Bush, Cheney and others seeking damages for the alleged harm done to Plame's career.

If they do so, the current state of the law makes it likely that the suit will be allowed to proceed -- and Bush and Cheney will face questioning under oath -- while they are in office. The reason for that is a unanimous 1997 U.S. Supreme Court decision ruling that Paula Jones' sexual harassment suit against then- President Bill Clinton could go forward immediately, a decision that was hailed by conservatives at the time.

Turns out Bush and I have something in common after all

From the NY Post via Erza Klein:
THEY'RE saying the President, spending inordinate time working on handling his multiple problems of Iraq, Supreme Court, Karl Rove, gas prices, sliding polls, economy, has begun rehearsing answers to questions that might come up at a press conference. More importantly, he's even watching reruns of "West Wing."

I don't even know what to say about this one...

The good news and the bad news

Update: Via TalkLeft, part of the report that I missed:
Marijuana arrests set a new record in 2004, totaling 771,605. Eighty-nine percent of these arrests were for marijuana possession, not sale or manufacture. In contrast, arrests for all violent crimes combined totalled 590,258—a decline from 2003.

For the record, I've never smoked marijuana and probably never will, but I support its legalization. I've yet to hear a convincing reason why it should be illegal and drinks and cigarettes should not.

Original post: The report on violent crime statistics from the FBI is out. The good news is, we're killing each other less. The bad news...

From the Associated Press:

Murders across the United States fell for the first time in five years, while rapes increased slightly last year, the FBI reported Monday.

Overall, the number of violent crimes, which also include aggravated assaults and robberies, fell by 1.2 percent last year. Property crimes _ burglaries, larceny/theft and car theft _ dropped 1.1 percent in 2004, compared to 2003.

There were 16,137 murders in the United States in 2004, the last full year for which statistics are available. That was about 350 fewer than in 2003, according to the FBI data. The decrease is the first since 1999, although smaller than what the FBI reported in June. Chicago was largely responsible for the drop, recording 150 fewer murders in 2004 than in 2003.

The number of rapes, however, has increased in three of the past four years, according to the FBI data.

If I find anything that seems credible speculating on why this should be, I'll post it.

There are times when my mind is an explosion of feelings

From the Washington Post via Feministing...

"Kill whitey!" yells Tha Pumpsta into the microphone as he bounces to the beat. "What . . . gonna . . . do dance . . ." he raps to the beat. "Kill whitey!"
The kid by the bar busts out with a break-dancing move. Women drop their booties and the guys slide in close. Tha Pumpsta struts around in an all-white outfit from his headband to his high tops, shouting it again: " Kill whitey

Guess what, everyone at the party is white. It gets even better...

His proclaimed goal, in between spinning booty-bass, Miami-style frenetically danceable hip-hop records that are low on lyrical depth and high on raunchiness, is to "kill the whiteness inside."

What that means, precisely, is debatable, but it has something to do with young white hipsters believing they can shed white privilege by parodying the black hip-hop life. In this way, they hope to escape their uptight conditioning and get in touch with the looser soul within them

Because the opposite of whiteness is black hip hop. Because shaking your ass to culturally appropriated music makes you understand how your life and priviledge are directly connected to the oppression of people of color in your own little gentrified hood.

Fortunately, the sound of my soul just happens to come from white Europeans with synthesizers. And I'm okay with that.
"I'm throwing this party, and it's obvious that I'm white and I'm kind of appropriating this culture but in an ironic way," said Tha Pumpsta, whose name is Jeremy Parker. The 25-year-old takes his Pumpsta moniker from his high-top sneakers. "Kinda poking fun at myself and my origins and white people in general," he said.

You know, sometimes I'm not such a big fan of irony.

Gephardt exhibits the kind of political courage for which the Democrats are so well known

Last week, here in Seattle, Dick Gephardt admitted that his concessions to Bush in the run-up to war were a mistake, and that he was wrong. To which my first reaction might be: Well done, Dick. As they say, it takes a brave man to admit that.

Trouble is, as Kos points out,
...since Gephardt is literally history, it's not as if he wins any awards for courage for finally admitting his error. Witness Al Gore liberated from elected office, or all those retired Republicans bashing Bush and the modern Republican Party. Elected office will muzzle the best intentioned politician, retirement liberates them.

Speaking of Gore, when I see that Gephardt made this admission in Seattle, I'm reminded of what my reaction was when Gore made one of his early "firebrand" speeches in San Francisco. Way to go out on that political limb, Dick.

When Democrats have (I think this is going to be a theme today) the brains or the balls to tell audiences in Ohio that supporting the war was a mistake, that's when we'll be getting somewhere.

you better listen to the voice of reason

John from AmericaBlog has written a good post about the real implications of the Republicans attempting to spin their way out of the spy outing case. As you read, try to imagine what it would be like if there were any Democrats with the brains or the balls to give it as a speech.

Here's the first two or three paragraphs to get you started.

If a senior White House staffer had intentionally outed an American spy during World War II, he'd have been shot.

We're at war, George Bush keeps reminding us. We cannot continue with business as usual. A pre-9/11 mentality is deadly. Putting the lives of our troops at risk is treason.

Then why is the White House and the Republican party engaged in a concerted campaign to make treason acceptable during a time of war? That's exactly what they're doing.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

act of one forced by horror to retreat

Did you ever have one of those nights where in every book you pick up you seem to find quotes that have hidden, or maybe not so hidden, meaning for you personally? I did. Three in a day and night.

If, as Kafka suggested, art is an ax with which to break up the frozen sea within us...
-Found on page 264 of The Lives Of The Muses, by Francine Prose.

The first was from Camus. "One never says a quarter of what one knows; otherwise, all will collapse. How little one says and they are already screaming."
-Found on page 437 of Truman Capote, by George Plimpton

Between the second and third I composed a whimsical little Haiku.

You must understand
I'm standing on paper walls
If I move I'll fall

And finally:
To deal with the world, as difficult as it may be, is to lay down the burden of self. To attempt to reorder the world, to recast all of its secrets into a personally accessible form, is psychosis-the act of one forced by horror to retreat.
-Found on page 62 of Jafsie and John Henry, by David Mamet

They've got elephants!

I have to admit I'm curious to see this for the obvious reason, though I'll further admit my hopes are not high. It's not just enough to take swipes at themes I want to take swipes at to be parody; you must also be funny.


"Asterix and the Falling Sky" -- the 33rd album based on the adventures of the diminutive Gallic warrior -- went on sale around the world Friday, surprising some readers with a none-too-subtle lampoon of the United States.
In a controversial departure, author and illustrator Albert Uderzo, 78, introduces creatures from outer space who visit the famous village on the Brittany coast in search of its strength-inducing magic potion.
The creatures are led by a cuddly toy who has at his beck and call an army of dim superman clones in tights and capes. They announce they are from a planet called TADSYLWINE -- an anagram of Walt Disney -- and that their "sage" goes by the name of HUBS -- an anagram of Bush.
In an interview with France-Soir newspaper, Uderzo -- who has created the comic books single-handed since the death of author Rene Goscinny in 1977 -- admitted he was dabbling for the first time in international politics.

In Belgium, where comic-strips are treated with great seriousness, critic and cartoon expert Hugues Dayez said the album "completely goes against the spirit of Asterix and Obelix."
"The two heroes are reduced to walk-on parts while two hordes of extraterrestrials invade the village. Visibly short of ideas, Uderzo has written an idiotic script full of gimmicks worthy of a theme-park," he said.
"The spirit of parody is dead and buried. All the jokes fall flat," said La Libre Belgique newspaper.
- The Tocqueville Connection

All very interesting. I had a small collection of Asterix comic books as a younger man.* I'm also a fan of the cartoon films from the '60s, especially "Asterix and Cleopatra."

Still, I've read one or two of those done by Uderzo alone and no, they're not as good. But...

*And I just requested a bakers dozen of them from the library. Push-button nostalgia. Gotta love it.

From revelation to revolution, and attention must be paid

Here's what John in DC, writing in AmericaBlog, thinks is the big revelation in the new Judy Miller NYT article.
So President Bush ordered the White House staff to cooperate fully, tell everything they knew, and waive any reporter privileges they had. Scooter Libby turned around and behind the President's back told Judy Miller, ignore the president and don't accept my waiver.

Why is Scooter Libby still working in the White House after directly undercutting the president on a direct order?

For what it's worth, I still think Bush and Cheney's hands are dirty up to their wrists in this. I think Libby and Rove are essentially throwing themselves in front of the train. But as Frank Rich wrote today (thank you, Hoffmania), even if Bush & Cheney were innocent of any knowledge of what their "brain" and Chief Of Staff did...
Now, as always, what matters most in this case is not whether Mr. Rove and Lewis Libby engaged in a petty conspiracy to seek revenge on a whistle-blower, Joseph Wilson, by unmasking his wife, Valerie, a covert C.I.A. officer. What makes Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation compelling, whatever its outcome, is its illumination of a conspiracy that was not at all petty: the one that took us on false premises into a reckless and wasteful war in Iraq. That conspiracy was instigated by Mr. Rove's boss, George W. Bush, and Mr. Libby's boss, Dick Cheney.

Just a little reminder (to you and myself) to keep our eyes on the ball. Speaking of, Rich further goes on to say,
"Bush's Brain" is the title of James Moore and Wayne Slater's definitive account of Mr. Rove's political career. But Mr. Rove is less his boss's brain than another alliterative organ (or organs), that which provides testosterone. As we learn in "Bush's Brain," bad things (usually character assassination) often happen to Bush foes, whether Ann Richards or John McCain. On such occasions, Mr. Bush stays compassionately above the fray while the ruthless Mr. Rove operates below the radar, always separated by "a layer of operatives" from any ill behavior that might implicate him. "There is no crime, just a victim," Mr. Moore and Mr. Slater write of this repeated pattern.

Hello, Earle

I'm having the beginnings of an interesting conversation in the comments at JunkYardBlog. Though that's a Republican blog, I don't mean "interesting" sarcastically; I'm trying to be at my civil best and I'm being treated in kind.

The discussion started in response to a post about this idea of "criminalizing politics;" I've included the link above if you wish to check it out. But what I really wanted to pass on to you here is this (related) story I found that ran in the Christian Science Monitor last year.

The CSM is not, I hope you'll agree, thought to be “left-wing lunatics”, as some feel the Post and the Times are. Nor are they Republicans, like say PowerLine.

The story is about Ronnie Earle, the Texas D.A. prosecuting Tom Delay. The one Delay and his supporters claim is "vindictive and partisan." Here's (part of) what they said:

Justice of the Peace Guy Herman was sitting in his office one day when a prosecutor walked in to file charges for improper campaign-finance reporting. Against himself.
The man was Ronnie Earle, the Travis County district attorney, bringing a self-incriminating complaint for tardy reporting in 1981 and 1982.

Mr. DeLay calls the Democratic Earle "vindictive and partisan." So far, three of DeLay's associates have been indicted on charges of illegally funneling hundreds of thousands of corporate dollars to state GOP candidates in 2002. The Republican sweep that year fueled redistricting efforts in Texas that deepened Congressional control in 2004.

Unlike most states, Texas does not give its attorney general the power to prosecute criminal acts at the state level. That task goes to the Travis County district attorney - a responsibility Earle took on, forming a public-integrity unit to look into such abuses.

Democrats, for their part, are still upset over the prosecution of Attorney General Jim Mattox for bribery in 1985. While pushing a state lawsuit against Mobil Oil Co., the Democratic AG argued with Mobil's lawyers, which led to his indictment.

He was acquitted and years later, Jim Marston, a civil lawyer in Austin and friend of Mr. Mattox, asked Earle why he went ahead with the questionable case.

"I said, 'Ronnie, how can it be an abuse of power to threaten a lawyer? We threaten each other all the time.' He told me that elected officials are held to a higher standard. They are supposed to be [above suspicion] like Caesar's wife." It was then that Mr. Marston realized how deep Earle's principles run. "Ronnie Earle is a Boy Scout who is offended by wrongdoings, chief among them, public officials' abuse of power."

It's kind of a companion piece to the Pat Fitzgerald profile I posted last week--right down to the Boy Scout comparison.

Kristol clear

Bill Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard, commenting on Fox News Sunday about the leak scandal:

KRISTOL: But talking to people pretty close to both Libby and Rove outside of government, who therefore can talk about it, I think they expect the worse now. I think they –

WALLACE: That both Libby and Rove will be indicted.

KRISTOL: I believe, if I had to predict – and I don’t know more this than anybody else reading the papers – that both Libby and Rove will be indicted, not for what the original referral was about but for some combination of disclosing classified information or perhaps failing to be fully candid with federal investigators or with the grand jury.

What's wrong with this picture? There's at least two things, and I admit I had to read it twice before they jumped out at me. See what you think, then read the commentary at Think Progress.

Oh, "man on dog," why hast thou forsaken me?

From the KRT Wire:

Americans "deserve better" than President Bush's "trust me" approach to the Supreme Court nomination of Harriet Miers, Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., said Friday, making his sharpest critique yet amid a right-wing revolt over the pick.

Santorum added, however, that he had not decided to oppose Miers and hoped to learn more about her views during confirmation hearings.

"There is a lot of heat. I think there is a lot of disappointment that the president didn't put someone up there with a record we could examine," Santorum said on a local radio show.

"It is what I term the president's second faith-based initiative, which is `trust me,'" Santorum said. "I think, candidly, we deserve better than that."

And as we all know, as goes "man on dog," so goes the country.

Oh, good. Vox Day is back.

Oh, happy day. You constant readers will remember Mr. Day from a couple of months ago...he's the self-proclaimed expert on women's rights which include, according to him, the right to murder. You remember, one or two of you started making lists?

Anyway, I know you ladies have been wondering how you could get through your days without more wisdom from the master, and I admit I've been lax in passing on his bons mots to you. I'd like to correct that now.

From commentary published about a week ago:
a woman foolish enough to wait more than two decades before attempting to have children has no one to blame but herself. As for the likelihood that the technological future will eventually solve such problems, it is worth noting that no society that possesses artificial wombs, robot sex dolls, multiplayer video games and 24-hour sports networks is one in which men are likely to show a tremendous amount of interest in relationships or the opposite sex.

He's right, of course. The only flaw in his argument would be if there were any reason to have sex besides procreation, or any men who would rather have sex than play video games or watch sports. And who want to have it with women who want to have sex with them because they're attracted to them sexually, not because they're programmed to do so.

Since none of that is true, there's nothing in that paragraph to fire upon.

Now, onto the serious stuff. I know that 96% of you gals reading this must be planning the ways in which you can catch a man. Fortunately, Vox is here to help.

there are a number of steps that a woman whose priority remains marriage and children can take in order to happily achieve those goals:

Don't engage in casual dating relationships after 18. They're fun, and they'll also prevent you from pursuing more fruitful relationships.

Stupid fun orgasms...

Make those potential long-term relationships your top priority. If you put college or your job first, there's a reasonable chance that a job is all you'll have at 40 ... and 60. Consider the president's new Supreme Court nominee. The unmarried and childless Creepy McCrypto is on the verge of becoming one of the two most powerful professional women in the country – does she really represent the ideal American woman?

No, that would be Veronica Mars. Or Holly Hunter.

Don't hesitate to end relationships that aren't leading toward marriage, or with men who are less than completely positive about the near-term prospect of children. If he hasn't proposed in 18 months, he has no intention of doing so. Cut your losses. Most men know how to string women along and know they'll have no problem replacing you when you finally call their bluff. Never confuse the masculine desire for conflict avoidance with malleability.

Wait, conflict avoidance is a masculine desire? Damn. Another way in which I'm just a big woman.

Shed your man-hating friends, as well as those who buy seriously into the Equalitarian dogma. Misery loves company and miserable women like nothing better than to make everyone within a five-mile radius miserable, too.

But if you put it to a catchy beat, there's a market in it.

If you want the odds of easily bearing healthy children to be in your favor, set a goal of marrying by 25. You can always go back to school, you can't go back in time.

I don't know. You seem to be living in the 1950s.

Remember that love is a choice, an action and a commitment, it is not a feeling.

I think I'm beginning to understand why he finds the notion of robot sex dolls so appealing. Well, as you might imagine, one of my many blogger crushes Amanda Marcotte had some things to say about this article in Pandagon.

Best of all, she let me know something she says "most of you probably know by now," but I didn't, namely Vox Day's secret identity. All I had on him was that he is
a novelist and Christian libertarian. He is a member of the SFWA, Mensa and the Southern Baptist church

And as I remarked a couple of months ago, Christian, libertarian, sci-Fi writer, Mensa and Baptist strikes me as a really good combination. But wait, there's more. Amanda?
As most of you probably know by now, the supposed "libertarian" Vox Day is actually a spoiled rich brat named Theodore Beale. And of course he's never had to work hard for a day in his life--the delusion that one could be completely self-reliant in a libertarian paradise pretty much requires that you've never had to rely on yourself for anything, or it would fall to pieces. But the important thing to remember here is that Beale is rich as shit, and he's rich in a society where those rare women willing to trade in complete submission for marriage go to the highest bidder. You everyday misogynist slobs who listen to Vox's bullshit about what you supposedly deserve and will get from a woman--cringing servitude--pay very close attention. Vox can buy that sort of self-hating woman. You can't.

Ahhhhhhhh. It's going to be a good Sunday...


Via AmericaBlog:

Think Progress has Condi's statement today on Meet the Press to explain the Bush Iraq strategy:
The fact of the matter is that when we were attacked on September 11, we had a choice to make. We could decide that the proximate cause was al Qaeda and the people who flew those planes into buildings and, therefore, we would go after al Qaeda…or we could take a bolder approach.

Thanks for clearing that up, Condi.