Saturday, November 05, 2005

I am hard to please (musically that is ha ha ha)

More music meme categories, courtesy of Bill Sherman:

Favorite Alt-Country Song: None.

So far as I know, I don't know many alt-country songs.

Favorite Cramps Song: None.


Favorite Instrumental (Rock): "Nocturne #2"-Joe Jackson

Okay, I grant you, almost by definition, it's not rock. But I don't care, I love it.

Favorite Kinks Song: "Days"

On a technicality--it is, of course, the Kirsty MacColl version that has my heart.

Favorite Nick Lowe Song: "Cruel to Be Kind"

Yeah, probably.

Favorite One-Hit Wonder:

Oh, man...there's too many to choose from. I'm an '80s music fan, for god's sake and between the Living in Oblivion and Just Can't Get Enough series...

Favorite Post-Punk Song:

To be honest I've never really been sure what "Post-Punk" means. My favorite songs are by groups like My Favorite, Joe Jackson and Naked Eyes, and I don't think they qualify.

Bill chose Joy Divison's "Love Will Tear Us Apart," and I tend to annoy Joy Divison fans by telling them I prefer the Paul Young version. Still do.

Favorite Ramones Song: "Judy Is A Punk"

But only 'cos it's on Keoki's underrated Kill The DJ compliation.

Favorite Otis Redding Song: "(Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay"

This is another one of those things where I won't apologize for a seemingly obvious choice. One of the great soul songs of all time--and I've long thought it was about a man considering, and then rejecting suicide.

Favorite Roxy Music Song: "More Than This"

Roxy is a group you'd think I'd like more of than I do considering that they essentially midwived rock and roll as I know it. Bowie, of course, being the inventor. But except for this sensuous song that makes me nostalgic for a time I never really knew given that I was little more than 10 when it came out, no.

And when I say something makes me nostalgic for a time I never really knew, this may or may not be an original thought, but: I think I mean it makes me nostalgic for the adult world I thought existed then.

One of these days maybe I'll do a post about all the songs like this that are on my "need-to-get" list. The ones by groups that I don't like or know enough of to want a whole "greatest hits," but can't find on a good multi-artist compilation, either.

What do I mean by "good" multi-artist compilations? Well, also on this mostly-hypothetical list would be Yes' "Owner Of A Lonely Heart," Toto's "Africa" and Laura Brannigan's "Self-Control." All of these actually appear on two or three of the Grand Theft Auto: Vice City video game soundtracks.

But you understand-I just can''s the principle of the thing...

Favorite Steely Dan Song: None.

Walter Becker produced an airy, dreamy toe-tapper for China Crisis in "King In A Catholic Style (Wake Up)", though. And I dig the cover of "King Of The World" that's on Joe Jackson's Summer In The City-Live In New York album.

Favorite Frank Zappa Song: None.

Sorry, not a fan.

And one for Johnny B-

Favorite Alice Cooper song: "He's Back (The Man Behind The Mask)"

Compare and contrast

Think Progress-
2005 Summit of the Americas:

Thousands of demonstrators flooded the streets of this seaside resort Friday chanting “Get out Bush” as the U.S. president sought to promote free trade at a divided Summit of the Americas. Protests turned violent with about 1,000 people shattering shopfronts with clubs and pelting riot police with stones. … Demonstrators took to the streets hours before the summit started, shouting insults about Bush and chanting “Fascist Bush! You are the terrorist!” [AP, 11/4/05]

1998 Summit of the Americas:

At one point, Clinton walked in hazy sunshine down Gran Avenida, a busy commercial street lined with thousands of people, including schoolchildren in blue and white uniforms, many of them chanting “Clinton, Clinton.” A few bystanders chanted “Kennedy,” apparently in reference to the popular former U.S. president. [CNN, 4/16/98]

Not like any of the news media is looking in, but just in case, boys: Bush=unpopular president. Clinton=popular president. Get it? Got it? Good.

All you do to me is...

Mark Evanier has a good post about Al Franken's Air America show and left-wing radio in general. I mostly agree with it, and would add that I think Franken really thought that with his help, the Democrats would sail to success in the 2004 election.

Unfortunately, he hadn't counted on the stupidity of the Democrats, and election night knocked the wind out of him. I still count his appearance on the Sundance Channel that evening as among the saddest things I have ever seen.

Here's Mark:
I liked Al Franken's show its first few months when (I have the feeling) it was all new and exciting to him. I think the filling of three hours per day is getting to the guy and the loss of his co-host has made it more evident that he lacks certain broadcasting skills. Say what you will about Rush but he's been at it for a long time and if he gets bored with his own program -- and I'm sure he does -- he's learned not to let it show. Franken's great as a guest on talk shows and he was especially good with Leno the other night. I've enjoyed his past books and based on this week's New York Times best seller list, I'm obviously not the only one. But there are certain skills one needs to sustain on the radio, especially when you have to fill 15 hours a week, and I don't think Al has them. Maybe he'll make a better senator.

What he said.

Alien vs. Predator

Just caught this movie via HBO on-demand. While of course it can't hold a candle to the first two Aliens movies or even the first Predator, it was more exciting than I'd expected. Or at least more watchable.

My emotional involvement for the Aliens series was nullified by the idiotic decision to kill Newt at the beginning of the third film. And my expectations for the Predator series were never that high. So I was able to enjoy this movie on this basis:

I picked up early on that it was basically a 21st century version of the kind of 1950's science fiction movies beloved by MST3K. Think Rocketship X-M. Surprisingly cheap looking special F/X? Check. Big, strapping white men? Check-although, in a nod to current sensibilities, there's a big strapping black man along for the ride too.

The "shock" ending (which I will not reveal) also answered a question I posed last year in my old blog. I predicted:
Someone, somewhere is going to do a joke about ALIEN VS. PREDATOR that spins them as Democrats vs. Republicans. But which are they?

The end of AVP answers this question. The Republicans are the Aliens. They're bossed around by big queens, enjoy whipping, and do not support a woman's right to choose what she will carry around in her belly.

The Democrats are the Predators. They cloak their real motives in the shadows and although they can be a friend if you have a common enemy, they are extremely stupid. Trust me. If you see the ending, you'll know what I'm talking about.

Whoever wins... We lose.

That's the way to inspire confidence in your staff

From the Washington Post:
According to a memo sent to aides yesterday, Bush expects all White House staff to adhere to the "spirit as well as the letter" of all ethics laws and rules. As a result, "the White House counsel's office will conduct a series of presentations next week that will provide refresher lectures on general ethics rules, including the rules of governing the protection of classified information," according to the memo, a copy of which was provided to The Washington Post by a senior White House aide.

How comforting. The White House staff needs a "refresher course" on ethics. You know, if I were on the White House staff, I think I'd be quitting about now so the secret service didn't have to take me out for screaming at the president.

"I didn't leak classified information, you prick! I'm not breaking my promise to fire those who did. I didn't obstruct justice and risk 30 years in prison just to put your incompetent ass in the oval office for another four years. I'm not keeping a known security risk employed in the White House just because I'm not man enough to make decisions without my "brain." And you're telling me I need a refresher course on ethics? Fuck you."

"I understand that there is a preoccupation by polls by some," the president said. "The way you earn credibility with the American people is to declare an agenda that everybody can understand, an agenda that relates to their lives, and get the job done."

ETA: The Political Teen says something I just knew some conservative was going to say.
Liberals complain that there are no ethics in the White House, and what do they do when the White House tries to promote ethics? They complain again.

Dude, if Bush really wanted to promote ethics he'd have fired Libby and Rove (at a minimum) months ago. It's called actions speak louder than words. And how can announcing to the world that your White House needs a refresher course on ethics not be something for people who oppose you to complain about?

As always, the quick quiz is, what would you be doing if the Clinton White House had made such an announcement? Would you be thanking them for "promoting ethics" or would you be complaining? Uh-huh.

Bush has no credibility with the majority of the American people right now, and this is why: Because they can see what his agenda is, and it's protecting his friends at the cost of getting to the truth.

He is incapable of calling them to task and holding them accountable. And Americans can see that, and Americans understand that. And that's why so few of us believe him, or think he can get the job done.

Friday, November 04, 2005

A trivial comment on a story that is anything but II

This is a photo of an Ohio meeting of Virgina Nazis. But is it just me, or does it look more like the end of a musical number?

"Come on, gang!"

"The day will come when the world is mine, tomorrow belongs, tomorow belongs to me!"

"And now it's springtime for Hitler and Germany..."

Tapping the Tapped

Matthew Yglesias has a couple of good paragraphs about Sam Alito:
One of the more bizarre spectacles in recent days has been the phenomenon of conservative commentators "defending" Sam Alito against liberals' outlandish "distortions" of his record designed to make people think Alito is hostile to abortion rights (today's Charles Krauthammer column, for example). The trouble here is that liberals aren't accusing Alito of being a child molester or something; we're accusing Alito of supporting long-held conservative goals for the judiciary. Krauthammer is on record as deploring Roe v. Wade and calling for it to be overturned. If he believed that Alito was really innocent of the charges against him, he'd be against Alito.

This touches on something I've been talking about here in the past couple days: The way in which conservatives have been campaigning by playing down their conservativism. I suppose you could say the same about some liberals.

Wouldn't it be great if people could just say, this is what I believe, and this is why, and didn't feel they had to tailor their comments for whatever audience?

Ah heh heh...

Via Feministing...

A Dutch designer has created a wall of fake breasts to help male shoppers buy bras that fit their wives or girlfriends.
Wendy Rameckers works at the Piet Zwart Institute for Retail and Design in Rotterdam, reports Het Nieuwsblad.

"Most men have a selective memory," she explained. "They know all about their car, but never seem to know their wife's bra size.

"When trying to buy a sexy bra for their wife or girlfriend, usually they point to other women in the shop or, when asked about size, they say a 'handful'."

The wall consists of rows of silicon breasts in all sizes. By look and touch, male shoppers can work out the right size, she says.

You know it's true, I've had about 11 girlfriends (give-or-take), and I think I only knew the bra size of one of them. And that was just pride--they were 34D, for god's sake (oh, those were the days...)

Americans REALLY want Bush impeached (UPDATED)

The amount of people who want Bush impeached if he lied about why we went to war in Iraq has increased to 51 or 53%, depnding on which blog you read. The Left Coaster says it's 51, and:
...before you dismiss this talk because the GOP controls all the government machinery, take a look at what Zogby says about Bush’s troubles amongst his base now, and then think about the possibility that Democrats could reclaim one or both houses of Congress next year, making those concerns about GOP control irrelevant.

The 39% job performance is the lowest we have registered so far for Mr. Bush. Behind those numbers are some troubling trends for his party. He is rated positively by only 43% of men, 48% of gun owners, 44% of NASCAR fans, 46% among those who attend a place of worship weekly, 39% of Catholics, 48% of Protestants -- including just 59% among self-described 'Born Again' Protestants, 41% of armed services households, 47% of married voters, and just 72% of conservatives (his lowest yet). These are all groups that have provided strong support for him in the past. He gets only 76% of Republicans (again his lowest in our polls), with just 11% of Democrats and 28% of Independents. His support among Hispanic voters is down to 21% and only 6% among African Americans.

At A Tiny Revolution, we find that: (one of the members of the After Downing Street coalition) has launched Impeach Pac, a political action committee trying to raise $100,000 for 2006 candidates who'll promise to support the impeachment of Bush and Cheney.

Via AmericaBlog, who seems to know best what they're talking about:

New Zogby poll: 53% of Americans say Congress should consider impeaching Bush if he lied about why we went to war in Iraq

But 51 or 53%, as Coaster also says,
[Even] 51% is a significant number when talking about considering impeachment, and is a far bigger number than was registered when Clinton was in the midst of his worst days over his stupidity with Lewinsky. And for anyone who says 51% means nothing, I would remind you that an alleged 51% was considered a “mandate” by the wingers just a year ago.

Let me remind you too that a majority of U.S. adults already believe Bush did lie. It may be that this is gonna be, in the end, what bites the Republicans in the ass about the Clinton impeachment. They lowered the standard for impeachment so far that now they haven't a leg to stand on when it comes to defending their guy. Because we do remember.

I still say, if the Republicans want to stay ahead of the curve on this, they ought to be the first ones to bring it up. If they wait until the '06 election and Democrats re-take the senate... then again, why am I helping them?

A little something you might want to send to any friends or relations who voted for Bush

Unless, of course, you're non-confrontational, as I am. Think Progress has put together a dandy little timeline of What’s Happened Since Bush’s Reelection. Everything from:
November 3: Bush Pledges To Reach Out the Whole Nation In Second Term. Bush: “So today I want to speak to every person who voted for my opponent: To make this nation stronger and better I will need your support, and I will work to earn it. I will do all I can do to deserve your trust. A new term is a new opportunity to reach out to the whole nation.”

November 8: Federal Judge Rules Bush Overstepped Constitutional Grounds In Brushing Aside Geneva Conventions In Treatment of Detainees.

November 9: Presidential Election Revealed Major Voting System Failures.


September 23: SEC Launches Probe into Stock Sales Of Sen. Bill Frist.

September 28: Tom DeLay Indicted, Resigns Leadership Position.

October 3: Harriet Miers Nominated to the Supreme Court.

October 4: Bush Admits Defeat on Social Security. In a press conference, Bush said, “There seems to be a diminished appetite in the short term” for dealing with Social Security.

October 25: Harriet Miers’ Nomination Withdrawn.

October 25: U.S. Military Suffers 2,000th Fatality in Iraq.

October 28: I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby Charged With Five-Count Indictment.

Yes, it has been quite a year.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Holy shit!

We spend a lot of time around here mocking the fact that Bush's job approval keeps hitting new lows, for example by quoting CBS News:

The plunge in poll numbers is another dose of bad news for a White House mired in it. The only recent president lower at this point in their second term was Richard Nixon.

Or Egalia, who thinks:
Maybe Bush and Cheney want to give Gore a call and beg him to come to their rescue. Failure is hard work.
And don't expect that trend to change anytime soon.

But I ask myself, is that really fair? Are you, my vast reading audience, really getting the whole story? Well, the answer is no, probably not. There are certainly people, high-ups in goverment even, who have it even worse in the job approval department than George W. Bush.

This one's for them.

So. What's worse than being President Bush, with a job approval rating of 35%?

Being the Republican-controlled Congress, with a rating of 34%.

What's worse than being the Republican-controlled Congress?

Being Vice President Cheney, with a rating of...


You heard me, 19%.

Ahhh. This balance is so refreshing!

Do women really care this much about fashion?

Okay, remember a few months back when I posted about a couple of feminist LiveJournals and/or blogs that were both addressing this funny, funny t-shirt? Well, the ladies of Feministing and Feministe found the shirt today.

Jill at the latter says,

Who are the people who buy these shirts? Promoting female stupidity, vapidity and competition is awesome.
I thought then, and am still inclined to think now, they may have been overreacting. Even recognizing that I'm a man and may just not get it.

Although my friend Moya thought the shirt was a hoot. And rightly pointed out that she's smart and does math for a living (and I'll rightly point out that she's also pretty). I was pleased to see a handful of women commenting at Feministe (where there's a selection of similarly "funny" t-shirts) who agreed.

These are bloggers I read daily and respect, but my feeling is still that this is something they need to just lighten up on. For my money Shakespeare's Sister has the best perspective on this.
A group of female high school students in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania have started a girlcott of Abercrombie & Fitch because of a series of t-shirts featuring phrases, in addition to the one pictured, such as “Blondes are adored; brunettes are ignored,” [and]“Do I make you look fat?”

The shirts are stupid, and I would likewise consider anyone who wore them with a modicum of sincerity rather a dullard, but, in these cases, a big kerfuffle usually just means higher sales for the vendor of the stupid item. (Just ask Bill O’Reilly how his lawsuit against Al Franken went. Better yet, ask Al Franken about his subsequent book sales.)

That's pretty much how I feel, even about t-shirts that offend me far worse than these (like those that say "If I want your opinion I'll take my dick out of your mouth.") It's the kind of thing you either think is funny as hell or just stupid. But if you think they're just stupid, the only thing stupider is making " a big kerfuffle" about them.

Also, all three of the blog posts spend a little time allowing for the fact that the shirts, if "worn with irony," might, in fact, be funny. They're just concerned that some women might be wearing them without irony. This is a little too close to the "Of course, I'm smart enough to know the's the rest of you potato eaters..." thing. Which never flies very far with me.

I suppose it's just a combination of naivety mixed with my desire to put women on pedestals. But I don't think it would ever occur to me, if I saw a woman wearing one of these t-shirts, that she didn't mean it to be funny and ironic. I wouldn't think "Hey, there's a bimbo," I'd think "Hey, there's a woman with a sense of humor."

Sometimes I think I think women are smarter and stronger than they even think they are.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Heading towards being a fucking theocracy?

Amee, my sort-of-kind-of-in-a-way ex, and certainly my friend, commented tonight that that's where she thinks the country is going.

While I wouldn't say not to worry about it at all (eternal vigilance!), I'm not as worried about it as I was.

I linked to the whole latest CBS News poll earlier, but now I want to quote some interesting specific data.

A sizable segment of the public is concerned about the President's ties to evangelical Christians; 34 percent think evangelicals have too much influence in Bush's decisions. 14 percent think they have too little influence, while 25 percent think their influence is about right. 45 percent of white evangelicals themselves think they have about the right amount of influence, while another 25 percent think they have too little.

This is yet another reason Bush is fucked right now, and not in a good way. As has often been said, one of the ways he won is by concealing just how much of an influence evangelical Christianity had on his views.

Now, the more he shows his hand, the more the percentage of people across the nation who don't share those views say "Oh no, you don't." Which is most of us. And with his approval ratings in the mid '30s, he simply cannot afford--nor do I think his party leadership would allow him to--piss us off any further.

But meanwhile, the white evangelicals themselves feel, not unreasonably from their point of view, that Bush is their puppy. And if he doesn't do what they want they will hit him in the nose with a rolled-up newspaper. As with Miers.

So...he's fucked. If he does what they want him to do, he risks alienating the rest of us at a time when he can ill afford it. But if he doesn't, he finds himself in the crosshairs of weapons that he (and Rove, etc) to a large extent created.

Another poll to which I linked in passing earler today says this about "Scalito:"

If it becomes clear Alito would vote to reverse Roe v. Wade, Americans would not want the Senate to confirm him, by 53% to 37%.

This underscores something that most feminist blogs will tell you: Polls have consistenly shown that people in this country support Roe v. Wade. And despite what Bush may say about not caring about polls, I suspect he knows that.

Yeah, maybe the Bush of 2002-2004 could have kept on acting as though he had the support of the majority. But the Bush of 2005 cannot, and I doubt very much the Bush of 2006-2008 will be able to either (especially if we "pass" that mid-term).

What I'm saying is that Bush, iin a very real sense, is reaping what he has sown. And to coin a phrase...bring it on.

ETA: On the other hand, I know a way Bush could win back a lot of goodwill. Announce a public event in which Michael Brown will be tied to the ground, and members of the public can line up to smack him in the face. Hard. With a book, if necessary. Repeatedly.

Yes, some more Katrina-related documents, specifically e-mails, have come to light:
On Sept. 2, Brown received an e-mail saying that 42-foot trailers full of beds, wheelchairs and oxygen concentrators were waiting to be deployed but needed direction. Brown waited four days before finally forwarding the message to other FEMA officials, saying only: "Can we use these people?"

On Aug. 30 - the day after the storm hit and New Orleans was submerged in flood waters - Brown sent an e-mail to his assistant asking if he knew anyone who could watch his dogs.

In other e-mail exchanges, Brown expressed concern that his reputation was being tarnished. The e-mails show he spent time trying to find people to vouch for him.

And on Sept. 4, Brown's press secretary, Sharon Worthy, wrote him an e-mail about his physical appearance. "Please roll up the sleeves of your shirt ... all shirts," Worthy said. "Even the president rolled his sleeves to just below the elbow. In this crises and on TV you just need to look more hard-working ... ROLL UP THE SLEEVES!"

You know, as an '80s man, it pains me to say this...but there are times when substance is more important than style.


Here's another column and blog entry about that business yesterday in D.C. The column is by Dana Milbank of the Washington Post, the blog entry is by ReddHedd of firedoglake.
It was a cheap trick -- and it worked brilliantly. Reporters dropped their stories about Alito and covered the melee in the Senate. CNN titled the episode "Congress in Crisis." MSNBC displayed a live shot of a mostly empty hallway outside the Senate chamber and a clock showing elapsed time since the Senate went into closed session.

Cheap trick my ass -- this was a brilliant maneuver and it was executed flawlessly. And they achieved exactly what they wanted -- changing the subject back to the fact that the Republicans in Congress haven't been doing their jobs, that the Administration has had a free pass far too long, and that Pat Roberts was aiding and abetting them all along.

Yesteday I thought this might actually have forced the Senators to do said jobs, rather than posing pretty for the cameras. Unfortunately, it turns out they are (from both parties) addicted like heroin:
It was clear something was up after lunchtime, because a dozen Democrats took their seats -- an unusual number in the typically empty chamber -- to hear Reid's 20-minute stemwinder condemning the administration. Frist, catching on to the Democrats' plan, huddled in the back with GOP senators. Sen Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) tried to derail Reid. "Would the senator yield?"

Reid ignored him and, two minutes later, sprang his Rule 21 trap. Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) leapt up to second the motion. The sergeant at arms was ordered to "clear all galleries." The lights were dimmed. Reporters were told to leave. The precautions were hardly necessary because the senators, rather than discussing sensitive information as Rule 21 envisioned, spent the next two hours bickering -- and rushing outside to give impromptu news conferences before the cameras. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) alone gave three in as many hours.

"Republicans are outraged," Sen. Christopher Bond (R-Mo.) reported. "I just ate lunch, and it's upset my stomach."

Let me get this straight? The fact that the Republican chairman of the Intelligence Committee has been stimying real oversight into potentially jimmied and forged intelligence foisted on the American public and the Congress in order to drum up a war in Iraq which has cost more than 2,026 American lives and counting (not to mention injured soldiers), didn't bother you one bit.

But Kit Bond's lunch was disturbed because his party was called on their rubber stamping?!? THAT upsets his lunch?!?

How about this for a concept? How about the folks in Congress start actually doing their jobs -- even the Republicans -- instead of allowing Dick Cheney and his little band of cronies to tell them what to do. After all, the Executive Branch and the Legislative Branch are supposed to be separate and distinct. It's called "checks and balances" for a reason -- we aren't a damned monarchy.

For the record, I agree with the ReddHedd.

Caption This Photo

Awww, whatsa matter, gonna cry baby? Come on, cry. Cry! One-two-three-cry! One-two-three-cry!

Smile, Darn Ya, Smile

God bless 'im, Bill from Daily Kos has put together a round-up of things the pundits and others in the press were saying last year about Bush's "broad nationwide victory."

"Bush now has a mandate."
---Bill Bennett

"It is a mandate."
---Tucker Carlson

"He has, I would argue, a mandate now."
---Peggy Noonan

"He's going to say he's got a mandate from the American people, and by all accounts he does."
---Wolf Blitzer, CNN

"Mr. Bush has been given the kind of mandate that few politicians are ever fortunate enough to receive."
---The Wall Street Journal

"In one sense, we think it an even larger and clearer mandate than those won in the landslide reelection campaigns of Nixon in 1972, Reagan in 1984, and Clinton in 1996."
---Bill Kristol

For his part, Bush displayed his trademark modesty:

Let me put it to you this way: I earned capital in the campaign, political capital, and now I intend to spend it.

Today, the president's Political Capital Visa card is maxed out, and the new bankruptcy bill he signed can't bail him out (smart move, pal).

As I, and Steve Gilliard, and Al Franken, and many others have been saying, Bush may have won, but he did not have a mandate. Come on, it's math so simple even I can do it. When almost half of the country doesn't vote for you, you do not have a mandate.

Still, it's one thing, and almost permissible, to claim a mandate in public statements, to crow in your victory and rub your opponents noses in it a little. But Bush behaved as if he believed he actually had a mandate, and that has been his downfall.

Because the country knows for damn sure what they did and didn't vote for. They didn't vote for blindly continuing his most insane, illegal policies and generally acting as though the neocons were the nation. And they've consistently shown that on issues from Terri Schiavo to Alito.

There's a saying about Bush, and I can't remember now who coined it, but it goes that he's a man who was born on third and thought he hit a triple. Similarly, I submit that he's a man who thought he was Ronald Reagan, when he was really Dan Quayle.

And there's a lesson here to be learned about believing your own press. In Bush's case, when I say his own press, I mean his owned press.

Bush is no Dennis Rodman

I mean, that guy could rebound.

Two blogs that are new to me, The Next Hurrah and Pacific Views, link to and comment on a story that ran in The Washington Post about the public's disenchantment with Bush. From the orginal article:
The public's loss of faith in Bush goes back many months to the early weeks of the Iraq war, when nearly two-thirds of Americans found him trustworthy. Less than half felt that way in October, according to the Pew Research Center.

One issue is the failure to find weapons of mass destruction, Bush's chief rationale for overthrowing Saddam Hussein. Rather than admit a mistake, Bush emphasized other reasons for war.

"DemFromCT," of The Last Hurrah, writes:
He promised to fire the Plame leakers but hasn't fired Rove, something not lost on Reid, who seems to be in the middle of WH agita. For a straight-talking cowboy, Bush is doing a whole lot of shucking and jiving, ain't he? And he's looking mighty lost not just to Republican allies, but to the American people.

That's why Bush keeps trying to change the subject. The subject is the war. It's always been about the war. Plame leaks are about the war. Bush's credibility loss is over the war. And Bush is going to learn that you can't just change the subject on this.

Going back to the original article, we find:

The building blocks of President Bush's career _ his credibility and image as a strong and competent leader _ have been severely undercut by self-inflicted wounds, leading close allies to fret about his presidency. They say he's lost his way.

These senior Republicans, including past and current White House advisers, say they believe the president can find his way back into people's hearts but extreme measures need to be taken. Shake up his staff, unveil fresh policies, travel the country and be more accountable for his mistakes _ these and other solutions are being discussed at the highest levels of the GOP.

Pacific Views' Mary looks at it this way:
That's right. These people think that George's misfortunes can be papered over and people will once more see him as a strong capable leader. They must not think much of the American public if they believe that.

To which I would add that it's not just that they don't think much of the American public, they think too much of George W. Bush. They're asking him to do that which he is incapable of doing. He can't shake up his staff, because they're the only ones holding up his suit. He no longer has the support in Congress to get any fresh policies passed. He traveled the county trying to sell his Social Security plan and no one bought it. "Accountability" is a word he doesn't know the meaning of, and I mean that literally.

In short, and I think this is the deep dark truth currently being faced by whatever few at the highest levels of the GOP are capable of facing it: The only way for George W. Bush to course-correct his presidency is for him not to be George W. Bush.

I remain convinced that discussions are still being held about an early exit strategy. For "health" reasons, no doubt.

Mary continues:

Can Americans get over their disaffection for Bush? There are few examples of politicians reclaiming the high ground after such a disastrous landing. Bush's legacy is pretty well set and it would take a miracle for Bush to pull out of the hole he has dug for himself. As the old saying says: You can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can't fool all the people all the time. In order for him to regain the highground would take a catastrophe. Oh wait, that's been done already.

More fun with Conservatives in denial

Ah, to be a Conservative today.

Over 2,000 men and women have died fighting in a war that you won't dirty your hands with.

Even though you claim to support this war, unlike most of your countrymen.

Your president is weak, getting weaker and his approval ratings keep finding new lows.

There's a perception, shared by most, that his presidency is a failure.

High-ups in his administration, if not he himself, betrayed a goverment agent.

His new selection to the Supreme Court is flopping with the public.

The opposition party (I'm as shocked as you are) seems to have found their "balls."

What do you do? What do you do?

Well, if you're Sister Toldjah or La Shawn Barber among a remarkable number of others, you cast your mind back longingly to one year ago today, when:

The President stunned his critics both home and abroad by getting re-elected. The guy many of them thought (and still think) is the biggest idiot on the planet managed to win the election - which spoke implied volumes about their candidate, sending the opposition into denial, fits of apoplexy and, and of course the inevitable chants of: “he stole it” - a chant which still persists in some circles today.

Oh, there are people we think are bigger idiots. As Ben Kenobi said, "Who's the bigger fool, the fool, or the fool who follows him?" And all this over a one-percent margin of victory?
George Bush emerged from the 2004 presidential election victoriously. I’ve been giving him a hard time lately, but between him and John Kerry, I still think the better man won.

George Bush can’t be all men to all people. He’s only one man, doing what he thinks is best, I suppose. I hate his amnesty-for-illegal-aliens plan, but I’m glad he’s in the White House screwing up instead of John Kerry.

Amazing, isn't it? You know, if Egalia and Reid and I are right and we really are in the last days of the republican party, this will be the reason. An unwillingness bordering on inability to see when the elephant needs to be shot.

Sing out loud, sing out strong

I picked this up from Tosy and Cosh via Tom the Dog via Pop Culture Gadabout (everybody got that?) and like them, I'll be leaving blanks where I either don't know the artist or have no strong opinions.

Favorite Beatles song: "Strawberry Fields Forever"
A lot of the books about Lennon and/or the Beatles spout a lot of theories about what the surrealistic lyrics of this song means, but they always made perfect sense to me. I also like the cover by Candy Flip that, on the cassete/CD single version, contains a mix with a keyboard solo at the end that suddenly morphs into "Hey Jude."

Favorite solo song by a former Beatle:
Hmm...good question. I don't know if I can pick a song, but I'll cheat by mentioning a couple of favorite solo albums by former Beatles that I think are underrated: Paul's "Press To Play" and George's "Cloud Nine."

The former was McCartney's worst-selling solo album but contains several noteworthy collaborations with Eric Stewart of 10cc. The latter was successful in its day--it's the one with "When We Was Fab" and "Got My Mind Set On You" on it--but seems to be forgotten. It was the only LP not represented at the otherwise-wonderful Concert For George.

Favorite Bob Dylan song:
You guys remember what I said about not giving a ratfucking piss about the Rolling Stones? I care less about Bob Dylan.

Favorite Pixies song: The only Pixies song I know is the version of "Wave of Mutilation" on the Pump Up The Volume soundtrack, which is kinda nice.

Favorite Prince song:
Oh dear. Let's say "Let's Go Crazy," because I heard it recently and I'm still in awe of that guitar solo at the end.

Favorite Michael Jackson song:
Hmm...probably "Thriller." The production is so great, it scarely even needs Jackson.

Favorite Metallica song:
None, but that Documentary was pretty cool.

Favorite Public Enemy song: "Bring the Noize"
The collaboration with Anthrax version. Hear the drummer get wicked!

Favorite Depeche Mode song: "Dreaming of Me"/"Never Let Me Down"
One from the early, Vince Clarke years, and one from the later, Martin Gore years. The latter is also hands-down their best ever video.

Favorite Cure song: "Harold and Joe."
I don't like the Cure very much & this song is one of the only exceptions.

Favorite song that most of your friends haven't heard: "The Boy On The Bridge"
By Chaz Jankel. And yes, friends who've read my first play, there's a connection.

Favorite Beastie Boys song: "Intergalactic."

Favorite Police song: "Don't Stand So Close To Me"
Believe it or not, in the '86 re-recording that I think 99% of everybody else hates.

Favorite Sex Pistols song: None.
Always more of a P.I.L. fan than Sex Pistols, especially "Seattle" ("Get out of my world!")

Favorite song from a movie: "As Long As You Hold Me."
Kirsty MacColl. It's on the soundtrack to the underrated Mad Love, and I have rarely been able to listen to it without crying.

Favorite Blondie song: "Heart of Glass"
Sorry to be a cliche...

Favorite Genesis song:
There actually was a time in the early '80s when I was quite into Genesis, but I don't know if I could pick a favorite song now. I liked their later albums, say Abacab through Invisible Touch.

Favorite Led Zeppelin song:
You're kidding, right?

Favorite INXS song: Once again I find myself thinking less of specific songs than of an era. As I've said before, I think you have to have been 16 or 17 in 1987 to know just how big INXS were.

Favorite Weird Al song:
Weird Al is one of those things like Mad Magazine that even if I've "outgrown" it, I'm always glad to see carrying on.

Favorite Pink Floyd song:
I don't have a favorite Pink Floyd song, I only have a favorite Pink Floyd title, and I couldn't tell you how the song goes. "Several Species Of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together In A Cave And Grooving With a Pict."

Favorite cover song:

Favorite dance song:
Again, imposible to seriously pick, but it's almost certainly something by Pet Shop Boys.

Favorite U2 song: "Sunday Bloody Sunday"
Not a big U2 fan, but it was either this or "I Will Follow."

Favorite disco song: "Show Me"
By ABC. Probably not what they're talking about, but...

Favorite The Who song:
Not a Who fan, really.

Favorite Elton John song: "20th Century Blues"
Featured on an album of Noel Coward covers coproduced by Neil Tennant of Pet Shop Boys.

Favorite Clash song: "London Calling"
I'm a very populist Clash fan, but I didn't want to be so common as to pick "Should I Stay Or Should I Go" or even "Train In Vain."

Favorite David Bowie song:
I know I'm cheating all over this list, but again it's hard to single out specific songs. When I think of Bowie I think of the '90 "Farewell Tour" and the unjustly underrated Black Tie/White Noise album from a few years later.

Favorite Nirvana song: "Smells Like Teen Spirit"
And here I don't apologize for choosing something obvious; this is simply one of the greatest recordings ever made.

Favorite Snoop Dogg song: Don't make

Favorite Ice Cube song: Me laugh

Favorite Johnny Cash song: "Hurt."
And the video is an absolute work of art.

Favorite R.E.M. song: "Losing My Religion."
Or "Watching Ginger's Wedding," as it always will be to me.

Favorite Elvis song: "There's a Guy Works Down The Chip Shop Swears He's Elvis"
By Kirsty MacColl. Or is songs about Elvis not what they meant?

Favorite cheesy-ass country song:
None, but I'm going to hijack this one and turn it into Favorite cheesy-ass Depeche Mode rip-off: "The Great Commandment," Camouflage.

Favorite Billy Joel song: "Pressure"
Either that or something off Innocent Man.

Favorite Bruce Springsteen song: "Born In The USA"
Sorry. When it comes to rock (as opposed to synth-pop) I'm a commoner.

Favorite Big Audio Dynamite song:
This is another toughy. It's either something off the original bands last album (Megatop Phoenix) or their first (This is BAD)

Favorite New Order song:
Again I find myself wanting to point to an underrated album instead: Republic.

Favorite Neil Diamond song: "Red Red Wine"
UB40 version, naturally. Like most rght-thinking people, I prefer Diamond as a songwriter rather than performer. "I'm A Believer" could also have made it.

Favorite Squeeze song:
Argh! Again, I'm sorry to be almost Hamlet-like in my indecision, but this is one of the great bands of the '80s...

Favorite Smiths song: "How Soon Is Now?"

Favorite Beach Boys song: "Good Vibrations."

Favorite Dave Matthews Band song
And with that, he burst out laughing (although to be fair, his collaboartion with Blue Man Group is fun.

Favorite Dire Straits song: "Brothers In Arms"
If only for the West Wing connection.

Favorite Elvis Costello song:
Costello is kind of like Neil Daimone to me, in that with a few exceptions, I like his songs more when others sing them.

Favorite Guns 'N Roses song:
None, but did you know that Axl was a Pet Shop Boys fan?

Favorite Jimi Hendrix song: None.

Favorite John Mellencamp song: None.
"R-O-C-K in the U-S-A," my ass. There's a special place in hell for people who write songs like that.

Favorite Living Colour song: "Glamour Boy"
If only for a killer performance on the old Aresenio Hall Show that ended with the lead singer saying "Truth hurths, don't it Arsenio?" Arsenio looked pissed.

Favorite Neil Young song:
Not a Neil Young fan, really.

Favorite Paul Simon song:
Something off Graceland if not One-Trick Pony.

Favorite Simon & Garfunkel song: "Only Living Boy In New York"
Especially the cover by Everything But The Girl.

Favorite Queen song:
Not a big Queen fan, really....and yet I like Erasure...

Favorite Radiohead song: None.
Didn't like 'em then, don't like 'em now.

Favorite Van Morrison song: "Gloria"
But only because it's in the movie of The Outsiders.

Favorite XTC song:
Oh man...maybe, maybe "King For A Day..."

Oh, man

President "Cos" Bush shows once again that to him, putting people lives in danger is funny, funny, funny. From a roundtable interview with foreign print media.:
THE PRESIDENT: Please don't tell me that the government leaks secrets about conversations to the --

Q Well, I have my sources in the government.

THE PRESIDENT: You do? Okay, well I'm not going to ask you who they are, of course. (Laughter.)

Q No, please.

THE PRESIDENT: Inside joke here, for my team. (Laughter.)

Ha ha, ha ha, ha.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

I think Egalia's onto something about Reid being...

From TGW:

The Death of the Republican Party

"I think [Bush has] done a terrible job as president. I think he's going to be known, perhaps, as being the Millard Fillmore of the last 100 years."

--Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid

Fillmore was the last president of the Whig Party before it died in the 1850s.

I think Harry Reid is on to something. The death of the Republican Party is the best thing that could happen to a party that gets all its ideas from dead white men, and, consequently, runs candidates who promote intolerance and hatred.

But wait, there's more

Via Shakespeare's Sister, more excerpts from the New Yorker's take on Scooter Libby's novel:
One passage goes, “At length he walked around to the deer’s head and, reaching into his pants, struggled for a moment and then pulled out his penis. He began to piss in the snow just in front of the deer’s nostrils.”
Eugh. And it gets worse. The passage “He asked if they should fuck the deer.” is quoted, to which, The New Yorker notes, “The answer, reader, is yes.”

Shakes goes on to draw certain conclusions about the kind of mind which comes up with this stuff...

See if this doesn't put a smile on your face.

Give a scan to these posts from Republican blogs about today's biggest news item. Alamo Nation (avoid the obvious joke) says, in a truly bravura run-on sentence,

In an effort to divert attention away from the positive momentum behind the Alito nomination and to hold their breath until they turn blue because they're upset Karl Rove wasn't taken to the Rotunda and executed over the Valerie Plame non-outting, the leftists have now locked the Senate doors to force Republicans to discuss the "lies" behind the Iraq war.

Oblogatory Anecdotes, a blog with an ugly logo, is of the opinion that this is an outrageous move.

This Constitutes a major abuse of the taxpayer’s time and money by calling in the entire Senate as a means to embarrass the Republicans.

I'm guessing there'll be polls within a week saying this is exactly how the taxpayers want the senate to spend their time and our money. LMAO (again, resist the temptation) resorts to actual lying.

The Democrats have called for a closed door session on Iraq, the first time such a thing has happened in 25 years. Apparently it's some sort of stunt or something and Frist is pissed as this came out of nowhere.

From AmericaBlog via Pandagon:

Since 1929, the Senate has held 53 secret sessions, generally for reasons of national security.

* For example, in 1997 the Senate held a secret session to consider the Chemical Weapons Convention (treaty).
* In 1992, the Senate met in secret session to consider “most favored nation” trade status for China.
* In 1988, a session was held to consider the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and in 1983 a session was held on Nicaragua.

Six of the most recent secret sessions, however, were held during the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton.
So, um, first time in 25 years? Not so much. Ace of Spades HQ, meanwhile, says

It's about that time. Actually, it was that time four years ago. It's time for a political advertisement knitting together Clinton's, Gore's, Hillary!'s, Rockefeller's, Kerry's, etc.'s various statements over the years warning against Saddam's bio, chem, and nuclear programs.

And fucking blitz it. I'm sick of this. And I'm angry at the stupid fucking GOP for not doing its fucking job and ridiculing these people the way they should be ridiculed.

A lot of the conservative blogs are bringing that up. Of course, as I noted here not long ago in a similar context, whether or not Kerry, Gore or any Democrats believed Saddam had WMDs doesn't matter. Only George Bush and the Republicans knowingly lied about and went to war over it. It happened on your watch, guys, you broke it, you bought it.

Note too the phrase "stupid fucking GOP." And that's a conservative blogger speaking. Get the feeling the the Alito nomination hasn't quite re-unified the party as much as they might like? Speaking of which, Blogs for Bush, my favorite members of the reality-based community, live in a world where:

This is all part of the Democrats plan to retake the Senate by scandalizing Bush and the Republicans so that they can avoid offering any constructive ideas of their own.

Um, fellas? Let me explain. We don't have to "scandalize" Bush. He does it himself (and don't think we don't appreciate it).

Then there's Real Teen.

In a dazzling display of desperation, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid called for a closed session of Congress. Turbin Durbin of Illinois seconded the vote, and the cameras had to shut off, the public was forced out, Senators went to their seats on the floor, and it began.

Um, Teen? The majority of the country is now against a war that your party started on bogus information. Your side has just had to basically beat your own president into doing your bidding on a Supreme Court nomination. Your vice-president's chief of staff has been indicted...and replaced by at least one person who is also linked to said bogus information.

If I were you, I wouldn't be as quick to throw words like "desperation" around, is what I'm saying. But, kudos for showing you absorbed the talking point about "shutting the public out." I also commend your valiant effort at matching Alamo's sentence, but you failed miserably.

Don't feel too bad, kid. It's not the size of a sentence that counts. It's what you do with it.

Okay, one from our side. The Mahablog notes

Republicans had no relevant talking points ready and had to fall back on boilerplate.

Taken by surprise, Republicans derided the move as a political stunt.

“The United States Senate has been hijacked by the Democratic leadership,” said Majority Leader Bill Frist. “They have no convictions, they have no principles, they have no ideas,” the Republican leader said.

As Reid spoke, Majority Leader Bill Frist met in the back of the chamber with a half-dozen senior GOP senators, including Intelligence Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, who bore the brunt of Reid’s criticism. Reid said Roberts reneged on a promise to fully investigate whether the administration exaggerated and manipulated intelligence leading up to the war.

Frist: “We need some new talking points, fast.”

Well I'll be damned...

Update: Jane Hamsher has her take about this at firedoglake.
Durbin was on C-Span 2 answering stupid questions about whether this is an attempt to "politicize" the Special Counsel's investigation. Durbin quite rightly noted that since this is the first time in 130 years a member of a White House administration had been indicted, it was hardly a matter of "politicizing" it.

Frist went on and bellyached about how the Senate was "hijacked" by the Democratic leadership. He's stammering all over the place. Started talking about how the American people were pushed out of the process. Would Bill REALLY like that session to be open? Wow, they really are terrible when they try to freelance this shit.

Original post: See what happens when I spend part of a day running errands and such instead of being chained to my computer? Democratic Senator Harry Reid made an absolutely killer statement on the Senate floor today. AmericaBlog has it, but here's the opening remarks.
This past weekend, we witnessed the indictment of the I. Lewis Libby, the Vice President’s Chief of Staff and a senior Advisor to President Bush. Libby is the first sitting White House staffer to be indicted in 135 years. This indictment raises very serious charges. It asserts this Administration engaged in actions that both harmed our national security and are morally repugnant.

The decision to place U.S. soldiers in harm’s way is the most significant responsibility the Constitution invests in the Congress. The Libby indictment provides a window into what this is really about: how the Administration manufactured and manipulated intelligence in order to sell the war in Iraq and attempted to destroy those who dared to challenge its actions.

Trust me, read the whole thing. Meanwhile, the Republicans, as personified by Senator Bill Frist, are reacting like, for lack of a better phrase, a bunch of girls. Or I should say, like the fragile little flowers they think girls are.

And then...(also via AmericaBlog)
The Democrats have forced the Senate into a closed session, to shut down the Senate and go behind closed doors for national security reasons, in order to discuss what the hell happened with Rove and ScooterGate.

Holy shit. CNN just said that by invoking Rule 21, Reid just shut down the Senate, all 100 Senators are called to the Senate floor, they have to turn over their cell phones, blackberries, etc.

And the real big news. This just knocked Judge Alito off his game. The story is now the Democrats showing balls on national security. Reid just changed the subject from Judge Alito to the White House's scandals on Iraq and the RoveGate CIA leaks. Absolutely brilliant.

CNN's Bill Schneider: "This is a revolt, Wolf." Now a paraphrase: "t's a signal to the Republican majority, if the Republicans even think of trying to take away the filibuster, the Democrats are saying 'look what we can do.'"

CNN's Jack Cafferty: "The Democrats got that bird flu new conference out of the news in about four hours. They smelled blood... first White House staffer indicted in 135 years... was there a nuclear weapons program? Were there chemical and biological weapons?... the 9/11 commission made a whole list of recommendations, many of which have been ignored by the administration, the senate intelligence committee has promised an investigation, which is hasn't done."

Fuck yeah. The Democrats are making the Republicans do their job away from the television cameras!

Those wiley Methodists

From The Nation's Sweet Victory Blog:

Last week, the United Methodist Church Board of Church and Society--the social action committee of the church that both President Bush and Vice President Cheney belong to--resoundingly passed a resolution calling for withdrawal with only two 'no' votes and one abstention.

"As people of faith, we raise our voice in protest against the tragedy of the unjust war in Iraq," the statement read. "Thousands of lives have been lost and hundreds of billions of dollars wasted in a war the United States initiated and should never have fought.... We grieve for all those whose lives have been lost or destroyed in this needless and avoidable tragedy. Military families have suffered undue hardship from prolonged troop rotations in Iraq and loss of loved ones. It is time to bring them home."

Great, right? They're acting in a way consistent with what I think most people would say are the core values of Christ's teachings: Care for others and be compassionate. Well, in the immortal words of George Carlin, go look for consistency in organized religion. From the NY Times:

Methodist Court Removes Openly Lesbian Minister

In a pair of decisions that bolstered conservatives, the highest court of the United Methodist Church defrocked an openly lesbian minister yesterday and reinstated a pastor who had been suspended for refusing to allow a gay man to become a member of his congregation.

I need to sleep on this...two steps forward, three steps back...

Ever notice how guys have got to have theories about...everything?

Here's two I like. They both appeared on The News Blog, but only the first comes from the trust of half of that site's brain, Steve Gilliard. From They think liberals are stupid:
Alito has taken some pretty ugly positions over the years. This may well turn into Bork II. The unpopular president picks a reactionary judge.

My favorite is that conservatives, faced with facts, like to say liberals are hate-filled people who want to kill babies and keep negroes on the plantation.

That would be compelling, except for one thing: they have no credibility.

For the sponsor of the Bell Curve to call a black man racist is like me calling Michael Moore fat. How that can be a credible argument is beyond me. It literally is like waving kryptonite at Batman. What is he supposed to do, run?

Second, written by a Kos diarist with the nome-de-blog "gaije:"

Alito: Bush's Desparate Cry for Help

They say dry drunks are ticking time bombs of self-destruction. They've white knuckled it through the DT's, but haven't acquired the skills needed to build and maintain stable successful lives. They may put on a good show for a while, but stability & success make them anxious. Eventually they'll find a way to self-destruct themselves back into the chaos & failure with with they're so much more comfortable. Alito's nomination tells us Bush's time bomb has detonated.

He's broken the official GOP rules of engagement with the religious right.

Follow the links and read the rest, especially of the second one.

You're not really here to hunt, are you?

Via firedoglake:

Lloyd Grove at the New York Daily News has a quick overview of Laura Collins' New Yorker summary of Scooter Libby's fiction debut, the 1996 novel "The Apprentice." The story is a thriller set in turn-of-the-century Japan, but Collins writes that "certain passages can better be described as reminiscent of Penthouse Forum." For instance: "The main female character, Yukiko, draws hair on the 'mound' of a little girl," and the "brothers of a dead samurai have sex with his daughter." Collins says that "other sex scenes are less conventional," and quotes one longer passage: "At age 10 the madam put the child in a cage with a bear trained to couple with young girls so the girls would be frigid and not fall in love with their patrons. They fed her through the bars and aroused the bear with a stick when it seemed to lose interest."


From the Rude Pundit via AmericaBlog.
...according to the Washington Post, on September 24, 1986, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Sam "Motherfucker-in-training" Alito helped author a Justice Department policy that "said that discrimination based on insufficient medical knowledge was not prohibited by federal laws protecting the handicapped. Employers, it said, may legally fire AIDS victims because of a 'fear of contagion whether reasonable or not.'" The Justice Department's position was rejected by many states, including some that reacted by barring discrimination against people with AIDS. Alito, whose work helped foster some of the hysteria about AIDS during the Reagan era, said, "We certainly did not want to encourage irrational discrimination," but the reaction to it "hasn't shaken our belief in the rightness of our opinion."

Monday, October 31, 2005

Voices heard in fields of green, Joy and calm and luxury

Voices heard in fields of green
Joy and calm and luxury
I'm lost within the wanderings of my mind

I'm cutting branches from the trees
Shaped by years of memories
To exorcise the ghosts from inside of me

The sound of waves in a pool of water
I'm drowning in my nostalgia

~David Sylvian

The leadership myth

Egalia has Paul Krugman's latest NYT column. First he stands at the administration's grave and tramps the dirt down. But that's not why I'm linking to it. It's a lot of fun to play "the blame game" with the Bush administration, and all of it's deserved.

But Krugman also says there's enough blame to spare some for politicians of both parties and the news media as well, and he's right. Herewith, a few excerpts.

Katrina ended the leadership myth, which was already fading as the war dragged on. There was a time when a photo of Mr. Bush looking out the window of Air Force One on 9/11 became an iconic image of leadership. Now, a similar image of Mr. Bush looking out at a flooded New Orleans has become an iconic image of his lack of connection. Pundits may try to resurrect Mr. Bush's reputation, but his cult of personality is dead - and the inscription on the tombstone reads, "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job."

Apologists can shout all they like that no laws were broken, that hardball politics is nothing new, or whatever. The fact remains that officials close to both Mr. Cheney and Mr. Bush leaked the identity of an undercover operative for political reasons. Whether or not that act was illegal, it was clearly unpatriotic.

First, politicians will have to admit that they were misled. Second, the news media will have to face up to their role in allowing incompetents to pose as leaders and political apparatchiks to pose as patriots.

...the long nightmare won't really be over until journalists ask themselves: what did we know, when did we know it, and why didn't we tell the public?"

A failed presidency

It's as official as it gets.
After fumbling the nomination of a Supreme Court justice and defending an unpopular war that has now cost more than 2,000 American lives, Bush finds his presidency at a new low. A USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll taken Friday through Sunday shows that a solid majority of Americans, 55%, now judge Bush's presidency to be a failure.

"The real question for President Bush is going to be: Is he going to be like (Richard) Nixon — hunker down, get into the bunker, admit no mistakes," Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said on CBS' Face the Nation, "or, like Reagan, who actually admitted mistakes, did a mid-course correction and brought in new people, bipartisan people, people above ethical reproach, into the White House."

"It's difficult to know where President Bush goes for a major national or international initiative right now — an initiative he can actually achieve," says David Gergen, an adviser to four presidents. He calls the situation "a Category 4 storm for the Bush White House."

There's more. Follow the link above.

A trivial comment on a story that is anything but

I watched 60 Minutes' story last night on the exposure of Valerie Plame. Following that link will lead you to a written version, or the video is here.

I don't think it told me anything I didn't already know from following the story on the blogs and such; but it was interesting to put a face or two to some names. And given that 60 Minutes is still a top-10 rated show, I hope it underscored for a few million households that this was and is a very big deal. No matter what you think of our current goverment, this is a very big deal.

But now on to my trivial observation about a story that is anthing but. When the inevitable movie or made-for-TV movie is made, I know who should play Plame's husband, Joe Wilson: John "Q" De Lancie.

That was a very excellent reference

I'm linking to this column that appeared in Editor & Publisher for two reasons. One, it is a good take on the ostrich-like behavior of many of the Bushies, using New York Times columnists John Tierney and especially David Brooks as examples.

It begins:
David Brooks no doubt benefits from context. At The New York Times’ Op-Ed page his only reliably conservative brother is the hapless John Tierney, which often allows Brooks to appear reasoned, thoughtful, and moderate in comparison (except when he urges women to fulfill their destiny as babymakers). How could Brooks not come off well in that kind of company?

In Tierney’s latest example of addled thinking, this past Saturday, he called the leak of Valerie Plame’s CIA employment an “accident.” It might have been many things, but one thing it wasn’t: an “accident.”

My second, more self-indulgent reason is because I like the headline--Our Myth Brooks. For those of you who don't know, which I assume is most of you, this is a reference to Our Miss Brooks, a famous radio show in the '40s and '50s.

It starred Eve Arden (best known to our generation as the principal in the two Grease films) as a high school English teacher who was smart and funny. In some ways the character was more than half a century ahead of her time.

I'm an old time radio fan, as one or two of you know, and this show is a favorite. It was also on television, where I believe it was actually even more popular, but I haven't seen that version.

Hoo boy...oh, for the love of god

Update in Firedoglake:
President Bush has nominated Samuel Alito, judge of the 3rd Circuit, to the US Supreme Court. Alito is the third nominee to be named to replace Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.

Alito is 55, was a selection for the Federal bench from Bush I, and had previously served as a US Attorney in New Jersey. He also previously served as assistant to the Solicitor General, Rex Lee, during the early years of the Regan Administration and (this should give you a cold shiver) was deputy assitant Attorney General to Edwin Meese.

He is a Princeton undergrad, and a Yale Law grad, and a proud member of the Federalist Society. His nickname is "Scalito," because of his similarity in approach to the law to Justice Antonin Scalito. (Yep, more cold shivers here.)


White House, Frist politicizing Rosa Parks Tribute with Alito
by Joe in DC - 10/31/2005 08:46:00 AM

AP reports that Alito is being taken to the Capitol for a photo op at the casket of Rosa Parks:
Wasting no time, the White House arranged for Alito to go to the Capitol after the announcement.The schedule called for Senate Majority Leader Bill First to greet him and accompany the nominee to the Capitol Rotunda to go to the coffin of the late civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks.

That is especially callous given Alito's record on the bench, via Think Progress:
ALITO WOULD ALLOW RACE-BASED DISCRIMINATION: Alito dissented from a decision in favor of a Marriott Hotel manager who said she had been discriminated against on the basis of race. The majority explained that Alito would have protected racist employers...

And so it begins, anew...

ETA: Shakespeare's Sister has a point.
You know, the thing that makes me angriest about this is that Bush is still playing to his base, that 30% or so who think that Adam and Eve rode dinosaurs to church, as if he’s still running for something. It’s always, always politics; it’s all they know how to do. Never has there come a time when he has seemed to recognize that he needs to govern instead of campaign, or that he’s president of the entire United States. He has never even remotely acknowledged that he is supposed to be a steward of this country for all of us, instead of turning the country into a utopian paradise for its cruelest and most self-interested elements. Prick.

ETA, again, off of Taegan's Political Wire:
...with the Bush administration operating in crisis mode -- and midterm elections just one year away -- it's not clear Bush has much ability to force fence sitters to vote for Alito. As we noted before, the reaction to a new nominee during the first few hours are the most important predictor of confirmation. Initial reaction is that Democrats will fight hard.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

debasing the Holy Phallus by getting girl cooties on it

Say, you know who I haven't quoted and linked to here for far too long? Amanda at Pandagon. Let's correct that, because she's found a dandy article about how birth control pills took all the romance out of sex.

I don't know about you, but I came of sexual age in the early '90s in the San Francisco Bay Area; birth control pills were the last of my problems. I can count the number of times I've had sex without a condom on the fingers of one hand.

And yes, I have had more sex than that. Smartass.

In what follows, quotes from the original article are in italics, and Amanda is in bold. Just as a woman like her should be.
Woman on the pill is thus not only freed from the practical risk of pregnancy; she has, wittingly or not, begun to redefine the meaning of her own womanliness.
Indeed, it's hard to remember you're female unless you're pregnant all the time. Luckily, we porn liberal feminists have figured out a way to help you in case you forget that you're a woman because you contracept like the Big Pharma witch you are. Men, please avert your eyes while I share this female secret...M-U-L-T-I-P-L-E-O-R-G-A-S-M-S. Surefire way to remember you're a woman if being not-pregnant has left you in a state of doubt. If that isn't enough to convince you, then I'm sure a handheld mirror will do the trick.

Sex education in our elementary and secondary schools is an independent yet related obstacle to courtship and marriage. Taking for granted, and thereby ratifying, precocious sexual activity among teenagers (and even pre-teens), most programs of sex education in public schools have a twofold aim: the prevention of teenage pregnancy and the prevention of venereal disease, especially AIDS. While some programs also encourage abstinence or non-coital sex, most are concerned with teaching techniques for "safe sex"; offspring (and disease) are thus treated as (equally) avoidable side effects of sexuality, whose true purpose is only individual pleasure. (This I myself did not learn until our younger daughter so enlightened me, after she learned it from her seventh-grade biology teacher.)
Kass swiftly corrected his daughter. "My god, no! Sex is not for pleasure! How could anything that involves a man debasing the Holy Phallus by getting girl cooties on it have any relationship to pleasure? It's nothing more than an odious task undertaken by men at great personal expense only to make sure that women are kept pregnant so they can't move very quickly."

No effort is made to teach the importance of marriage as the proper home for sexual intimacy.
Module Ten in the new, improved, pro-marriage, anti-pill class: "Why Pulling Out and Coming on the Sheets if You Can After Fucking Your Tense and Worried Wife Is the Heart of Intimacy".

But perhaps still worse than such amorality — and amorality on this subject is itself morally culpable is the failure of sex education to attempt to inform and elevate the erotic imagination of the young. On the contrary, the very attention to physiology and technique is deadly to the imagination.
That is, if you live in a world where people aren't capable of having elaborate sexual fantasies despite knowing that basic shape and look of people's genitals. I want to live in that world, because I hear in that world, men ejaculate calorie-free chocolate instead of sperm, making oral sex way more fun.

Oh, how I've missed that woman.

Somehow I think I should be insulted

The right-wing Parents Television Council has released their Top Ten Best and Worst Shows for family viewing. This is, like, so embarassing. Not only are none of the shows I like in the "worst," but one I actually do-Everybody Hates Chris-is in the top five of the "best."

I'll never live this down. Come on, guys, don't you know how smutty Boston Legal is? And Gilmore Girls, why, Lorelei Gilmore enjoys a drink and so does her just-21 daughter, and they both have filthy, filthy minds and never go to church except on special occasions. On 24, Jack Bauer, well, he's just a roughneck and a one-time drug user. Surely Supernatural is much too violent for our little ones. And what about that bus going over a cliff on the season premiere of Veronica Mars? To say nothing of the fact that Mars plotlines both this season and last have involved statutory rape and murder.

What does a show have to do...I ask you, what does a show have to do?


Shakespeare's Sister found another piece of news that slipped past us:
Even on a regular Friday, this story may well have been missed, but particularly on Fitzmas Day, when there seemed to be no other news at all, it had no chance of being acknowledged, despite its importance as well as the irony that bad news for the White House is undoubtedly what prompted it. The story? The Federal Marriage Amendment has been resurrected.

I've nothing to add right now. Reacting to bad news by turning it into open season on using a perfectly nice group of people as political scapegoats gives me a headache. The news item she quotes adds,
"This has been and always will be about cynical politics," said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese.

"Political games in Washington are common, but when the lives of millions of American families are at state, these hearings are an affront to American values."

I'll let Shakes have the last word.

With the possibility that they may be successful in making this an issue yet again, the Dems need to stop punting; semantic contortions about civil unions versus marriage are both unnecessary and unproductive. It’s time for a firm, simply stated position on the right of equality for all Americans, which should be about the least controversial position one could imagine.

And this is a "why Maureen Dowd is a writer I don't like as much as some of my liberal brethren" post

Speaking of an article Dowd wrote for the New York Times magazine, Roger L. Simon posts:

...this time Dowd is baring her soul in a sense, trying to make heads or tales of the fact that some attractive, intelligent, powerful women like her find themselves alone in their fifties. Men, as she tells it, are threatened by them and would prefer to marry the likes of the Latina maid in "Spanglish." Dowd seems to have missed the key detail that the maid's daughter was headed off to an Ivy League education, but no matter. The movie wasn't Brooks' best anyway. Meanwhile, to augment Dowd's view, she trucks out some statistics to show that feminism is dead and that we're all sliding back to the land of Ozzie & Harriet. Evidence of this is that a few more women these days are staying with their maiden names after marriage. Ms. is out and Mrs. is making a comeback.

This all reminds me of a time I found myself out with my best friend's girl and a group of her friends. At one point during the evening they were all complaining about how they thought they were good girlfriends, and the men in their lives should treat them better.

And I found myself saying, "Well, maybe you're with the wrong guys. Did you think of that?" I'm also reminded of one of my favorite speeches from one of my favorite romantic comedies, Steve Martin's "Roxanne". When Martin is asking Daryl Hannah how she could have been so foolish as not to realize that the letters that made her fall in love with her hunky but clunky boyfriend were in fact written by him (Martin).

He says (this is approximate), "You wanted it all, didn't you? All wrapped up into a pretty little package...with a cute little ass; and a cute little nose." My point is: My sympathy for women who claim they can't find men who love them for their minds is not that high.

Ladies, we're out here. I swear to you, we're out here. Men who have as one of our life's goals the desire to find a good woman and treat her as well as we can for as long as we can. And "good woman" means "smart woman."

The thing is, in my experience, you smart women are just as likely to be caught up in lust for that hunk who has never had to treat a woman right in his life as a man is for the likes of Daryl Hannah (one of the most wicked jokes in Roxanne is that she plays, literally, a rocket scientist). And then you complain that he doesn't treat you right.

Or you go for the man with (I'm sorry, but it happens) money and power and a nice house and a nice car. Well, honey, the man with money and power and the nice house and the nice car doesn't need to treat you right, because there's a long line of girls where you come from.

Like Simon, I'm just sick unto death of hearing that the reason these poor, miserable lonely women can't find themselves a real man is because we're threatened by smart women. Fuck you, real men aren't threatened by smart women. Almost by definition.

I realize personal stories may have little relevance in the grand scheme of things, but from my own experience I'm highly suspicious of the assertion that most men are looking for dumb, unsuccessful women as mates, whatever statistics might say (I'd want to have a serious look at the questions that were asked). In my case it's quite the reverse and I doubt that I'm that weird (well, a little weird). Almost all of us have made a few mistakes in our lives, but serious adults - male and female - finally come to the conclusion that if you marry someone, you're going to have to live with him or her for a long time. You're going to have to talk to them before and after sex, negotiate and share thousands of things. In my case I always preferred intelligent women. And they're a hundred times sexier, especially after the first twenty minutes or so and maybe even before that.

Ladies, your problem is, you're looking for real men in the bodies (and brains) of boys. I'm not saying men don't do the reverse (although, you know, there is that whole "women are more mature than men" thing).

Or that you're not entitled to get out there and have a little fun. By all means. But just don't come whining to me because the jarhead high school drop-out with washboard abs dumped your ass for your best friend. If you want to be treated like a lady, date a gentleman. If you want to date a punk, be preapared to be treated the way a punk treats girls.

Elsewhere, in a blog with the great title of What Would Phoebe Do?--I was hoping it was a reference to Phoebe "definition of nubile" Cates or even Phoebe Buffay, but no lucksuch--we find this entry:

It seems the whole Kass, etc., debate is really about this: young women are not planning for the future. Reasonably attractive college-age women have endless options, from abstinence to promiscuity, but older women either have a spouse or they don't. Too much emphasis on pleasure among young women will lead to a fun 20s but a lonely 50s. Men can be convinced that their college girlfriends won't put out until getting a ring, but they cannot be convinced that older women are as desirable as young.

Sez you. Of course, it depends a lot upon who the older or young women actually are. For instance, Blythe Danner has always been more desirable to me than her daughter, Gwyneth Paltrow...

I can live with that

You're Brigitte Bardot!

What Classic Pin-Up Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

And God Created Me. I'm ready for my close-up, Mr. Vadim...

It can't be him...

[He] attributed Republicans' control of Congress to Democratic candidates' inability or unwillingness to "stand up and be heard" on issues that matter to people. For example, he said, Democrats too often are unwilling to talk about abortion because they're afraid of virulent reactions from anti-abortion groups.

"So how come we can't talk about it?" he asked. "Because we basically let political ads turn every player in this drama into a two-dimensional cartoon instead of a three-dimensional person."

[He] also criticized political reporters and authors for failing to use reason and common sense in their writing and failing to dig deeply into stories. Instead, he said, reporters let officials get away with saying things that aren't true so stories include comment from both sides.

So who is this wise man?

William Jefferson Clinton.

Yes, I was shocked too. But I know what you're saying. Given his legendary political bravery, surely Mr. Clinton made these remarks in some Democratic stronghold like Rhode Island, right? Not so much.

Texas, baby.

Clinton, whose 2004 memoir "My Life" was a best seller, drew roaring applause during his speech from the several hundred people gathered in the Texas House chamber to kick off the 10th annual Texas Book Festival, an event started by first lady Laura Bush when her husband was governor.

The event, which raises money for public libraries, is expected to draw as many as 30,000 people and authors including novelist Salman Rushdie, historian David McCullough and children's author Lemony Snicket.

(Actually, this explains a great deal. Texas or not, Clinton knew he was speaking to a group of people who were literate, who read. No wonder he felt free to show a little more steel in his speech.) Ah, the reminders of what his presidency could have been...'s something that I missed

Mr. Fitzgerald was spotted Friday morning outside the office of James Sharp, Mr. Bush's personal lawyer. Mr. Bush was interviewed about the case by Mr. Fitzgerald last year. It is not known what discussions, if any, were taking place between the prosecutor and Mr. Sharp. Mr. Sharp did not return a phone call, and Mr. Fitzgerald's spokesman, Randall Samborn, declined to comment.

Oh, my my my my my...what does he have? To continue my earlier poker metaphor, I never, ever want to play poker with Mr. Fitzgerald. Even if I played poker...

A quick visual take on the prosecution of Libby

And what it really is.



It's a scene in which a young supplicant, an aspiring poet, somebody like that, seeks out this knowledgeable old philospher-kind of a Bukowski or Henry Miller figure-in Paris or New York or some such bustling metropolitan situs...and the kid comes to the old guru in his ratty apartment, and he sorta kinda asks him that old saw about the meaning of life. Correction: LIFE. He squats there and says to the old man, "What's it all about? What's it mean? Huh?"
And the old man purses his lips and beetles his brow; he perceives the kid is really serious about this; it's not just jerk-off time. So he nods sagely, and clasps his hands behind his back, and he walks to the window and stares out at the deep city for a while, and sorta kinda ponders for a while. And finally, he turns to the kid and he says, with core seriousness, "You know, there's a lotta bastards out there."

Ellison, of course, meant "bastard" in the slang sense of "A person...who is held to be mean or disagreeable." But I was reminded of that passage, one of my favorites by one of my favorite writers, when I read this news item about a new study:

A record number of babies — nearly 1.5 million — were born to unmarried women in the U.S. last year. And those moms were more likely to be 20-somethings than teenagers, according to new federal data released Friday.

"There's been a sea change in terms of expectations around marriage and babies," says Dorian Solot, co-founder of the Alternatives to Marriage Project, an advocacy organization for the unmarried.

Solot says unmarried mothers present very different scenarios for their children, depending upon whether they are the single, professional parent-by-choice, a cohabiting couple, or a poor woman living alone.

"It's really unfair to children," says David Popenoe, a sociology professor at Rutgers University who has studied the effects of marriage and cohabitation on children. He co-directs the National Marriage Project at Rutgers.

"One thing you don't know from these data is whether the births are to lone women or to a cohabiting women," he says.

For the record (such as it is), I tend to agree with Professor Popenoe. I grew up without a father, and in a very real sense I deal with it every single day. I don't think marriage is necessarily one of the most important things in life, but I do think that taking care of a child is much too important a thing in life for one person.

I wish these data told me how many of these women are "single" only by virtue of their not having "a ring on their finger," because it makes a difference. It really does make a difference. This difference having little to do with reproductive rights or anything like it; rather the fact that the trouble with parenting is it's far too easy a job to get; any fool can do it.

It's a long long while ....From May to December

Blogenlust found a point or two that would seem to refute Scooter Libby's "I didn't recall" defense. Quoting from and then commenting on a Yahoo! News/LA Times item:
"Scooter had a plan to counter Wilson and a passionate desire to do so," said a second person, a former White House official familiar with the internal deliberations. Like other former White House staff, this person spoke on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing criminal investigation.

"Scooter is the most methodical, detail-oriented and comprehensive worker of anybody I've ever worked with in my life," said Mary Matalin, a former Cheney advisor who worked as a consultant on the 2004 campaign.

Essentially, the defense's case asks us to believe that Libby forgot the details of conversations he had about his obsession. I suppose it's possible, but highly unlikely. The time period between the day Libby asked for information on Wilson and his first appearance before the grand jury was less than one year. If the vice president's chief of staff can't remember details about something so big in that short of time, then maybe he shouldn't have been the chief of staff in the first place.