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Thursday, June 30, 2005
Shut 'Er Down

With a state government shutdown now all but a fait accompli, I think it's time to fix blame on the real culprits here, the real reason for the interminable budget stalemate.

It's the voters.

We voters elected Tim Pawlenty in 2002 knowing that he was unwilling to ever raise taxes, but kept the DFL entrenched in the Senate. Then, in 2004, we emboldened the DFLers by restoring them to near-parity in the House.

This, of course, cannot stand. Because both sides think they've got the voters on their side.

It's our fault, folks. If we want government to function smoothly, we should've voted straight-ticket all the way.

Of course, I've never cared much about a smoothly functioning government; I don't worry about the shutdown. They'll pass a budget soon enough.

But if it's smoothness you want, pick your party and vote for 'em. Divided government doesn't breed harmony, folks--and the divided government is our fault.

Thursday Sports Blogging

I've decided to implement a new feature here at the Blog of the Moderate Left (soon to be Moderate Left Magazine!). It's Thursday Sports Blogging. Of course, I may blog sports on other days, too, but I'll try to always blog 'em on Thursdays. And a tearful nation celebrated....

Tice Fined $100K in Ticket Debacle

Vikings' Head Coach Mike Tice has been fined $100,000 for scalping Super Bowl tickets. Two assistant coaches were fined $10,000 each. This is a big fine for Tice; he's the lowest-paid head coach in the NFL. This probably actually hurts the big lunkhead.

At least it's over; the last thing the Vikes needed was this to linger into next season.

McCants the New Moss?

Minnesota sports fans have seen their share of enigmatic stars: Hershel Walker. Chris Doleman. Chuck Knoblauch. Isaiah "Junior" "J.R." "J." Rider, Christian Laettner, and of course, Randy Moss.

And now, maybe, Rashad McCants, the newest Timberwolf.

McCants is by all accounts a formidable talent and complete basket case; he's fought with teammates, compared NCAA basketball to jail, and--shades of J.R. Rider--showed up late to his first press conference with the Wolves. Then again, he was arguably the most talented player on the best team in college basketball.

Maybe he'll be great. I hope so. But I think I speak for most Minnesota fans when I say that the last thing we wanted was another talented nutjob. Where have you gone, James "Hollywood" Robinson? A state turns its lonely eyes to you.

Down, Down, Down We Go....

Well, that was fun. George's big primetime speech? Not ready for prime time. Here are the gory details. Not a bump in site. Worse, 42% of Americans are now ready to impeach Dubya--a bad number, considering I'm not even among them.

As I said the other day, the day when Dubya could simply say "9/11" and expect a big bounce is over. He's overdrawn at the bank of credibility--and he's not going to be able to float any more checks for a while.

Jeff's Top Five
National Anthems

1. "La Marseillaise," France
2. "O Canada," Canada
3. "Gimn Rossiyskoy Federatsii," Russia
4. "The Star Spangled Banner," United States of America
5. "Kimigayo," Japan

Wednesday, June 29, 2005
Magic in the Moonlight

Archibald "Moonlight" Graham was a doctor in Chisholm, Minnesota. He also was--for just a moment--a right fielder for the New York Giants. He appeared as a defensive replacement for a half-inning, and never played again. His story was told in the book and movie Field of Dreams. Today is the 100th anniversary of Doc Graham's one inning of major-league ball. Jim Caple has an entertaining look at what Graham's career would've looked like today. But I still think the best part of the story is this little exchange:

RAY KINSELLA: Fifty years ago, for five minutes you came within... y-you came this close. It would KILL some men to get so close to their dream and not touch it. God, they'd consider it a tragedy.

DOCTOR ARCHIBALD "MOONLIGHT" GRAHAM: Son, if I'd only gotten to be a doctor for five minutes... now that would have been a tragedy.

Congrats, Doc. Happy anniversary.

Saddam and Osama are Married! A Friend of My Cousin's Neighbor's Sister Said So!

You know the best part of Bush's speech yesterday? Watching all the wingnuts trip over themselves to say that Saddam was too behind 9/11, honest. Because...uh...Zarqawi! And they both Hate Our Freedom! And WMD!, er, look over there!

But even the most desperate spinning of Hindrocket, Big Trunk, and the Other Guy can't compare to the latest bit of wingnuttery--from Rep. Robin Hayes (R-NC).

Hayes, the Vice Chair of the Armed Services Committee, evidently has secret evidence that Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11 after all:

"Saddam Hussein and people like him were very much involved in 9/11," Rep. Robin Hayes said.

Told no investigation had ever found evidence to link Saddam and 9/11, Hayes responded, "I'm sorry, but you must have looked in the wrong places."

Hayes, the vice chairman of the House subcommittee on terrorism, said legislators have access to evidence others do not.

Shazam! He's got us in a box now!

Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, said that Saddam was a dangerous man, but when asked about Hayes' statement, would not link the deposed Iraqi ruler to the terrorist attacks on New York, the Pentagon and Pennsylvania.

"I haven't seen compelling evidence of that," McCain, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told CNN.

...or not.

Now, I know Rep. Hayes is only a U.S. Congressman. It's not like he's, say, an obscure professor of Indian studies at a third-tier college.

But can we just state flatly that he's an idiot nonpareil? And that maybe, just maybe, he should have to answer for his statements?

At the very least, he should talk to Bush. I'm sure if George knew that Saddam secretly conspired with Tom Cruise, Elvis Presley, the Trilateral Commission, and Tupac to stage the attacks on 9/11, that he'd be mentioning it now and again.

Oh, That Nixon!

You've gotta love Tricky Dick. He described former Indian Prime Minister Indira Ghandi as an old witch, and all Indians as "slippery, treacherous people." Henry Kissinger--swell guy, I'm sure we all agree--followed up by calling Indians "bastards" and saying, "They are the most aggressive goddamn people around there."

Nixon made good, though, by stating that Pakistanis were "straightforward and sometimes extremely stupid."

Oh, that Nixon! You've gotta love him. Even though he was evil, and corrupt, and racist, and anti-Semetic, and....


...Well, you just do! At least he never got a blowjob in the Oval Office. I mean, that would've been a disgrace!

Tuesday, June 28, 2005
Rowley to Challenge Kline

Former FBI agent turned 9/11 whistleblower Coleen Rowley will challenge John Kline for U.S. Congress in Minnesota's second Congressional district.

Rowley brings a bit of luster to the Democratic side of the ledger; her presence will bring money to the race, for sure. Nevertheless, the second is prime GOP territory; if Rowley wins this race, it would be as part of a deep and wide repudiation across the nation. It probably won't happen even then.

That said, I'll be happy to have Rowley in the race. The second is not always a fun place to be a Democrat. At the very least, she should bring the Democrats within shouting distance. That will make the race one worth watching and working for.

Desperate Times Call For More Lies

A good liar can keep his bluff going for a long time.

Oh, it's not easy. There are a lot of balls to keep in the air. He has to make sure that each lie is backed up by another lie, that the story hangs together effectively. If even one little thing goes wrong, all the balls fall.

A good liar can keep going for a long time. But eventually, he makes a misstep, a bobble. And then the whole facade comes crashing down.

Maybe the liar picks up and starts lying again. If those he's trying to dupe want to believe badly enough, maybe they can convince themselves that he's telling the truth. But most people will start to realize that it's not just one lie--it's dozens. And that's when they begin to tune out.

President Bush's speech tonight is a desperate move. But it's warranted. His approval rating is at its nadir--an anemic 45% approval, with 53% disapproving in the latest CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll. Worse, Gulf War II: The Vengeance enjoys only 40% approval--as compared to 58% disapproval. Only 41% approve of his handling of the economy. Only 31% support him on Social Security (as compared to 64% opposed).

One might expect Bush to try something new. Maybe tell the truth.


Instead, it's more boilerplate--we don't have more troops in Iraq because our commanders don't need 'em, we're fighting in Iraq to prevent another 9/11, there are other countries involved, we Americans stay the course, blah, blah, blah.

Maybe once upon a time, Bush's speech tonight would ring true. Maybe once upon a time, Americans would listen and change their opinions based on it.

I think that day has passed, though.

The wingnuts will tell us how Bush triumphed tonight. They will tell us how he showed his resolve, how he came out swinging. They have to. They need to believe the liar.

The rest of us, though, don't believe anymore. We've heard these lies before, and we've seen them proven false. And we've long since stopped believing them.

Friday, June 24, 2005
I'll Tell You Everything....

It's not bad enough that Tom Cruise had to star in the worst movie of all time. No, he has to be a Scientologist. I won't get into all of the insanity of Scientology, because to truly delve into the depths of that religion would take all night. Go check Operation Clambake if you're curious.

Being a famous Scientologist, unfortunately, means people ask you questions and take you somewhat seriously. Which is why Cruise's alternately hilarious and depressing meltdown on the Today show merits notice.

Now, I'm not a mindless zombie automoton for Big Pharma; I think that one can ask legitimate questions about putting kids on antidepressants. That's fine.

But to argue--as Cruise does--that there's "no such thing as a chemical imbalance" and that nobody should be on antidepressants...well, that's just stupid.

Look, I'm currently dealing with my own two chemical imbalances; I'm taking 80mg of Strattera a day for ADHD, and 30mg of fluoxetine for depression. Is it magic? No. But it helps, and with therapy, it helps more.

Guess what, Tom? I don't care if the drugs are curing me or merely masking the alien engrams that came out of the volcano. I'm happier and more productive on them. SSRIs and SNRIs are good for me. They may not be good for everyone--that's a fine question to ask. But I'm living proof that they're not bad for everyone.

Santorum of Justice

I'm extremely hard on the gentleman from Pennsylvania, so it behooves me to note a time when he actually does something right:

While Kay Bailey Hutchinson’s staff told us she agrees with Rove’s remarks, Rick Santorum's communications director, Robert Traynham, suggested that the Pennsylvanian had a different reaction. He told me: “Karl Rove speaks for himself. He doesn’t speak for the senator. On 9-11, there was no such thing as a Republican or a Democrat, and that’s what the senator believes.”

Good for Rick. Just for that, I will not link his name to Dan Savage's site. For this post, at least.

Sully On Rove

Unlike some on the left, I've always liked Andrew Sullivan. I've disagreed with him at times--still do, on a number of issues--but unlike too many bloggers, Sullivan's never been one to be pigeonholed--or to let his leanings stand in the way of looking at things anew.

That, and he's a superlative writer, as this takedown of Karl Rove shows:

We face at least three more grueling years of warfare in Iraq with our current troop level, and it's not at all clear that the public is prepared to go along with it, given the incremental progress we are making. Rove knows this. He also knows that the haphazard way in which the White House prepared for the war, its chronic under-manning of the occupation, its failure, as Abizaid conceded yesterday, to make any progress against the insurgency over the past six months despite the enormous psychological boost of the January election: all these have made the administration unable to really shift the blame. Rove's strategic decision to make social security reform the center-piece of the second term has also, shall we say, not gone according to plan. So what to do? You do what you always do. You create a scenario in which you cannot be out-demagogued. You deflect from the awful fall-out from the decision to exempt terror suspects from bans on cruel and inhumane treatment to a senator's analogy to the Gulag. And instead of leveling with the country about the real difficulty of the war we're in, acknowledging error and sketching a unifying vision for winning, you divide the country into good folk and "liberals" and hope it works as well as it always has. If you want to know how well the administration really believes the war is going, listen to their rhetoric. And start worrying.

I won't have to start, Andrew. I won't have to start.

Why Is Half Of America Made Up Of Traitors?

In possibly my favorite poll ever 49 % of Americans now say that Bush was more responsible for provoking Gulf War II: The Vengeance, compared with 44% who blame Saddam Hussein more.

Why does half of America Hate Freedom?

Friday Random Ten
Sky of Fullness, Sky of Blessed Light

1. "The Rising," Bruce Springsteen
2. "Peaches and Cream," Beck
3. "Annie Waits," Ben Folds
4. "Your Mom's Alright," They Might Be Giants with Mike Doughty
5. "Rare Star Ball," Soul Coughing
6. "Peek-a-boo" Siouxie and the Banshees
7. "What a Shame About Me," Steely Dan
8. "Track 2," Soundtrack Of Our Lives
9. "Take Me Home, Country Roads," John Denver
10. "Glad and Sorry," Golden Smog

Letters, They Get Letters

US Army to Markos: fuck Karl Rove.

Thursday, June 23, 2005
Oh, And Fuck You Too, Hindrocket

Now, I like to flash my moderate cred from time to time. I may not have condemned Dick Durbin's Nazi gaffe, but I didn't exactly give him kudos for effective metaphor construction. The Nazi comment was dumb. He shouldn't have said it. It completely obscured his point, and it hurt the cause he was advocating, albeit only slightly; I'm not horrified by it or anything, but it wasn't exactly his finest moment, either.

Okay, whatever, nevermind. One would think it wouldn't be too hard for a right-winger to take a look at Rove's comments and think, "Yeah, Karl, I see what you're saying, I don't think that it's a good thing to decry all liberals as traitors." I mean, that's not asking too much, is it?

Well, yeah, I guess it is, if you look at the big righty blogs.

  • Power Line: "That's a pretty accurate, if slightly hyperbolic, characterization of the opposing camps; any number of liberals have called for 'understanding' the terrorists' grievances against us."
  • Captain Ed: "While many of us on the Right think that this analysis is spot on, especially given all the hue and cry (literally, from Dick Durbin) over detaining terrorists at Guantanamo Bay, these words have Democrats steaming. Despite the fact that Senator Durbin still has not retracted his original statement analogizing the military's management of Camp X-Ray to the Nazi concentration camps, the Soviet gulags, and the killing fields of the Khmer Rouge, Democrats now want Rove to apologize for being ... divisive?"
  • The Wingnutty Professor: "Trouble is, those demands just provide an excuse for Republicans to repeat every single stupid or unpatriotic thing that every Democratic politician ever said. And there are a lot of those....And because the usual suspects in the media could be expected to pick up on the Rove story much faster than the Durbin story (as they did) now there's a news hook."

Yep, they're just plain idiots, folks.

Of course, the right will be able to find people on the left who've said dumb things about the war on terror; I mean, gee, yeah, Noam Chomsky's a moron about it. Michael Moore says dumb things from time to time. I'm willing to bet probably had some random dumb thing up somewhere.

So yeah, they'll be able to find some dumb quotes from lefties, Glenn. Dumb quotes like this:

JERRY FALWELL: And I agree totally with you that the Lord has protected us so wonderfully these 225 years. And since 1812, this is the first time that we've been attacked on our soil and by far the worst results. And I fear, as Donald Rumsfeld, the Secretary of Defense, said yesterday, that this is only the beginning. And with biological warfare available to these monsters - the Husseins, the Bin Ladens, the Arafats--what we saw on Tuesday, as terrible as it is, could be miniscule if, in fact--if, in fact--God continues to lift the curtain and allow the enemies of America to give us probably what we deserve.
PAT ROBERTSON: Jerry, that's my feeling. I think we've just seen the antechamber to terror. We haven't even begun to see what they can do to the major population.

JERRY FALWELL: The ACLU's got to take a lot of blame for this.


JERRY FALWELL: And, I know that I'll hear from them for this. But, throwing God out successfully with the help of the federal court system, throwing God out of the public square, out of the schools. The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad. I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way--all of them who have tried to secularize America--I point the finger in their face and say "you helped this happen."

PAT ROBERTSON: Well, I totally concur, and the problem is we have adopted that agenda at the highest levels of our government. And so we're responsible as a free society for what the top people do. And, the top people, of course, is the court system.

JERRY FALWELL: Pat, did you notice yesterday the ACLU, and all the Christ-haters, People For the American Way, NOW, etc. were totally disregarded by the Democrats and the Republicans in both houses of Congress as they went out on the steps and called out on to God in prayer and sang "God Bless America" and said "let the ACLU be hanged"? In other words, when the nation is on its knees, the only normal and natural and spiritual thing to do is what we ought to be doing all the time--calling upon God.


Why do they Hate America?

At least John Cole continues to prove that you can be both conservative and sane:

One says that certain acts of abuse are reminiscent of tyrannical and murderous dictatorships (and admittedly over-the-top statement) but not as asserted, a smear of all American soldiers. The other claims that all liberals want to put our troops in danger, an outright smear and slur if there ever was one.

The hubris deepens.


Fuck You, Karl Rove

Those who follow this blog know I don't often use profanity. It's not that I'm opposed to it. It's just that there's usually a better way to express oneself than falling back on naughty words.

Then again, sometimes profanity is the only way you can really get your point across. Which is why I have no problem saying that Deputy White House Chief of Staff Karl Rove can go fuck himself.

"Liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers." Really? 'Cause you know, I seem to remember that every single U.S. Senator--including, one would assume, every single Democratic U.S. Senator--voted to go to war in Afghanistan. I seem to remember everyone to the right of Noam Chomsky (i.e. everyone) being in favor of beating the snot out of the Taliban. I've stated in this blog on multiple occasions that I look forward to the day that we place Osama bin Laden's head on a goddamn pike--and I'm not being melodramatic or speaking metaphorically, I believe that we should, in fact, put his head on that pike as soon as humanly possible, unless someone has a better idea for how we can abuse his corpse.

No, most liberals were as furious as most conservatives after the attacks in September of 2001. We weren't calling for "moderation and restraint," and we didn't feel it, either. No, like everyone else, we wanted blood.

The only difference is that we also thought it might be a good idea not to declare every Muslim an enemy, and maybe we should find out nonmilitary ways to beat al Qaeda, too--because we figured anything that led to the destruction of al Qaeda was a good thing.

No, where the left and right part company is not over the war in Afghanistan--a just war, a proper war, a righteous war--nor in the War on Terror--which is a war of self-defense, first and foremost.

No, we part company over Iraq. Why? Because it's been a foolish waste of troops. Saddam Hussein wasn't in the top twenty threats to the United States. We're fighting the biggest war we've fought since Vietnam because...well, no particular reason, actually. The WMDs weren't there. Iraq and al Qaeda weren't particularly chummy (not like, say, Pakistan and al Qaeda, or Saudi Arabia and al Qaeda). Saddam was a bastard, but he was a garden variety bastard; everyone from Qadaffi to Mugabe to Putin will have to be ousted by U.S. troops if Hussein is the standard of evil. I don't see that happening anytime soon.

But Iraq is not the War on Terror. It's a dangerous distraction from it. I support destroying al Qaeda. I support killing bin Laden. But fighting in Iraq has hurt, not helped, those causes.

If that makes me weak-willed in the eyes of Karl Rove, fine. He's a scumbag who just called 59% of Americans traitors for opposing Gulf War II: The Vengeance. He's a petty, evil little man. And if he wants to hate me, fine.

But Karl, like it or not, I do love my country. I do want us to succeed. I most emphatically do not want to see troops killed. Indeed, I can't put it any better than Duncan Black: "For the record, my motives aren't to get more troops killed. If those were my motives I'd ship them off to a war on false pretenses without sufficient equipment to keep them safe."

Science Even My Friend Andy Could Love

PZ Meyers details the evolution of fermentation, proof indeed that the Flying Spaghetti Monster loves us.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005
In Praise of Not Protesting

I've never been a big fan of anti-war protesters. The anti-war protesters have too often fallen into that lazy "No Blood For Oil! Free Mumia! Smash the Patriarchy!" model of liberal protest that sets everyone's teeth on edge. And frankly, I've always felt that the nutty lefty protesters turn off more people than they attract.

Well, Harold Meyerson agrees with me--and points out that in some ways, the fact that there hasn't been a large, organized protest movement against Gulf War II: The Vengeance has helped Americans turn against the war.

In Iraq, however, the situation clarified. What had looked like a choice between occupation and mayhem was something even grimmer: The mayhem proceeds, and will proceed, occupation or no. It will doubtless grow worse if we pull up stakes, but our presence has failed to guarantee stability in politics or daily life. More than two years after Saddam Hussein's statue was toppled, the drive from downtown Baghdad to the airport is still a crapshoot with death.

Absent a discernible trajectory of progress, the American people are giving up on the occupation. In last week's CBS News/New York Times poll, 59 percent of respondents said the war was going badly, and just 37 percent approved of President Bush's handling of Iraq. A Gallup poll showed six in 10 Americans favoring full or partial withdrawal of U.S. forces.

These figures already match the polling in the middle and late years of the war in Vietnam -- even though that war was fought with vastly higher casualties and a conscript army. In a series of polls taken in November and December of 1969, the Gallup Organization found that 49 percent of Americans favored a withdrawal of U.S. forces and 78 percent believed that the Nixon administration's rate of withdrawal was "too slow." But there was one other crucial finding: 77 percent disapproved of the antiwar demonstrations, which were then at their height.

That disapproval was key to Nixon's political strategy. He didn't so much defend the war as attack its critics, making common cause with what he termed the "silent majority" against a mainstream movement with a large, raucous and sometimes senseless fringe. When Nixon won reelection in a landslide, it was clear that the strategy had worked -- and it has been fundamental Republican strategy ever since. Though the public sides with the Democrats on more key issues than it does with Republicans, it's Republicans who have won more elections, in good measure because the GOP has raised its ad hominem attacks on Democrats' character and patriotism to a science.

Last week, Kevin Drum mused that a debacle in Iraq could backfire on the Democrats. The reasoning was rational--Democrats opposed the war, and if Democratic pressure or a Democratic President forces the withdrawl of US troops and a collapse in Iraq, Americans will blame Democrats. It's what happened in Vietnam.

But of course, if Americans were going to blame anyone for withdrawing from Vietnam, it should've been the Republicans--the troops came home during the Ford administration. But they didn't. Why not? Because the Republicans successfully tied the anti-war protesters (a long-haired group proud of being the "counterculture") to the rational anti-war debate. Even though Johnson was tough enough to send the troops in, and Ford wimpy enough to pull out, the liberal anti-war protesters were the people identified with the decision.

But who to blame this time? Look at how hard the GOP is trying to demonize Dick Durbin, for example. (Latest spin via the Wingnutty Professor: his apology lacked a certain je ne sais qua.) Even after Durbin's apology, they can't let it go. Why? Because he's all they've got. There haven't been wacky statements from off-the-reservation Democrats of consequence. There haven't been crazed Gen-Yers marching in the street, taking ecstacy and talking about fighting the man. There haven't been anti-war riots, or people spitting on soldiers (real or imagined), or Americans fleeing to Canada to avoid service.

All there's been is Iraq, and a fairly calm and reasoned policy debate. And as that war has gone on, that's what the people have judged--the war, not those opposed to it. And the people have decided it's been a really, really bad idea.

That doesn't mean that the best thing for Democrats to do is just shut up. Reasoned, even impassioned debate is more than warranted when it comes to war. But we should keep doing what we've been doing--simply telling the truth. What's happened, and what's happening in Iraq is bad enough on its own. It doesn't need embelishment. No, we should simply tell the truth about what's happening, and tell a difficult truth to the American people--that if we're unwilling to double our troop commitment (and we are), we may as well bring the troops home because they're not going to win. The best they're going to do is fight to a long and brutal draw.

No, we've ousted Saddam and eliminated Iraq's potential WMD threat, and given that those were the only two real reasons to fight it out there, we've succeeded. It's time to bring our troops home so that they're ready to fight the next battle in the War on Terror.

But as we say this, let's remember that saying that in paragraph form, calmly, reasonably, like adults--that's something our neighbors will be willing to listen to. Screaming in their faces about "Bush=Hitler" and "Smash Capitalism!" is bound to fail.

Airborne Pasta Design

Via P.Z., a new and vibrant counterpoint to both evolution and soi-disant intelligent design: Flying Spaghetti Monsterism:

We have evidence that a Flying Spaghetti Monster created the universe. None of us, of course, were around to see it, but we have written accounts of it. We have several lengthy volumes explaining all details of His power. Also, you may be surprised to hear that there are over 10 million of us, and growing. We tend to be very secretive, as many people claim our beliefs are not substantiated by observable evidence. What these people don’t understand is that He built the world to make us think the earth is older than it really is. For example, a scientist may perform a carbon-dating process on an artifact. He finds that approximately 75% of the Carbon-14 has decayed by electron emission to Nitrogen-14, and infers that this artifact is approximately 10,000 years old, as the half-life of Carbon-14 appears to be 5,730 years. But what our scientist does not realize is that every time he makes a measurement, the Flying Spaghetti Monster is there changing the results with His Noodly Appendage. We have numerous texts that describe in detail how this can be possible and the reasons why He does this. He is of course invisible and can pass through normal matter with ease.

I'm not sure about it. But they do seem to have more evidence than Michael Behe.

Last Throes

Kevin Drum notes that things seem to be getting better in Iraq, if by "better" you mean "worse."

Nazi, Nazi, Nazi.

Okay, Dick Durbin has apologized for referencing Nazis, Pol Pot, et. al. in his speech about Guantanamo Bay.

And good. I'm on record as saying that any comparison of anything at all to the Nazis is a bad idea. Even in passing. Of course, Durbin's minor rhetorical excess was nothing compared to, say, Rick Santorum comparing the filibuster to Hitler in Paris, but still, I don't like bringing up the Nazis.

So Durbin's apologized. Good.

Now that's done, and we can actually focus on what he was saying.

Look, I will be the first to say that what the U.S. is doing in Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib and everywhere else is not Gulag-like, and not Nazi-like. We'd have to lose our souls much more than we have to reach that point.

No, we're better than Stalin.

Which of course begs the question: when did we start defining ourselves by the example of Josef Stalin?

There was a time when America was a shining beacon on a hill, the nation that the world looked to when it came to liberty and freedom. A nation that was renowned for its commitment to the rule of law and the dignity of man. A nation that prided itself on treating the lowest of the low with basic human dignity because that was what this country was about.

I am angry. I'm angry that Durbin's comment wasn't laughable. I'm angry that the comparison to the Nazis, while ham-handed, wasn't completely beyond the realm of reason.

I don't want to be compared to the Nazis, even if it's only to say that we're not as bad as them.

We shouldn't be in the same universe as them.

We shouldn't be in the same discussion--because we should be aspiring to so much more.

Again and again, the wingnuts say that we're treating our prisoners better than the Nazis.

There was a time our country would've been ashamed to say that.

Heck, you know what? I think our country still is.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005



Why does 59% of America Hate America?

Monday, June 20, 2005
Pro-Choice on End-of-Life

This is a great story. A husband is keeping his pregnant, brain-dead wife alive to give the fetus a chance of living.

His wife will die--nothing can change that. But the child will still have a chance. Yeah, that's probably what she would've wanted.

This is what it means to leave end-of-life decisions to the direct family members involved. I doubt this husband would be keeping his wife around if not for the baby--his exact quote is "I hate seeing her on those darned machines, and I hate using her as a husk, a carrying case, because she herself is worth so much more."

He's right, and I doubt many would disagree with anything he's doing. He's honoring his wife's memory by using her body to give their child a chance at life. But he's got no illusions that his wife is still inside. The woman she was is gone. Which is why when their child is born, for good or ill, I'm sure he'll remove her from those machines, and let her body pass on. That's a loving decision, you see.

Or it's murder. Right?

Poorly Kerned, but Spreading Quickly

ShakeSis has some good notes on the Downing Street Memo, which even Powerline is conceding is legit.

As for the memo itself, it is both more and less than meets the eye. It's less because, of course, it doesn't state that Bush intentionally cooked data vis a vis Iraqi WMD. It doesn't state this because, of course, I don't think Bush did. Any reasonable person looking at the data knows that the problem before the Gulf War was not that there was no evidence whatsoever of WMDs, but rather that any contrary evidence was being ignored.

Bush wanted Saddam out. And we all thought Saddam probably had WMDs, so an invasion could be justified by their existence with evidence discovered in Iraq.

Ah, but post hoc, ergo propter hoc. There were no WMDs in Iraq. After this became clear, we were told that there had always been the intention of creating democracy in Iraq.

And here is where the Downing Street Memo is more than it appears. Because as Kevin Drum rightly notes, post-war plans mentioned in the memo were hardly awash with democratic sentiment. Indeed, the two options on the table were a Sunni-led "democracy lite," and a Sunni strongman. The Shi'a were supposed to be held down no matter what; perhaps there'd be some room for Kurdish autonomy.

Sounds like a ringing endorsement of Freedom On The March, no?

And this is where the Downing Street Memo becomes sticky. All along, those of us who were ambivalent on the war (for the record--I was for the war before I was against it) have stated that our initial support was based on the supposed threat Iraq posed, and the fact that it actually posed no threat is a significant complication for us. "Forget what your memories say," the 101st Fighting Keyboarders have assuaged us. "It was all about the democracy."

No, it wasn't. And if the Downing Street Memo does nothing else, it should end that debate once and for all. We are in Iraq to stop a regime from possessing WMDs in violation of UN resolutions. There were no WMDs there in the first place--and we had some cause to realize that, had we but looked, or better yet, given the inspectors just a little more time back in March of 2003.

But we didn't. Instead, we launched an ill-conceived war that is grinding on with no end in sight. I suppose we have robbed Saddam of his WMDs.

I can also keep elephants away by banging these two sticks together.


What? You doubt me? You don't see any elephants around, do you?

Sunday, June 19, 2005
But...but the Kerning!

Oh, Lordy. Captain's Quarters takes note of the fact that the Downing Street Memo had been retyped by the reporter (to protect his source), and off we go into Rathergateland. The only problem of course is that the Downing Street Memo's authenticity has already been confirmed by multple sources.

Of course, this bolsters the case that the memo is damaging; the old wingnut meme was that the memo was completely undamaging. Now it must be fake!

Friday, June 17, 2005
Gender, Anatomy, and Einstein's Brain

An incredibly fascinating look at brain architechture in the Los Angeles Times. A Canadian researcher discovers that women's brains are smaller and more efficient than men's, that Einstein had a one-in-a-billion brain, and that at least some of the differences in brain anatomy between men and women are present from birth.

Misleading Congress is an Impeachable Offense


Lucky for Bush he didn't mislead 'em about a blowjob; he'd really be in for it then.

Friday Random Ten
Doesn't it Make You Feel Better?

1. "Short Skirt/Long Jacket," Cake
2. "Desolation Girl," Swamp Zombies
3. "Windfall," Son Volt
4. "March of the Pigs," Nine Inch Nails
5. "Delicious," Semisonic
6. "Stars," Love Jones
7. "Boxing," Ben Folds Five
8. "Stutter," Elastica
9. "Song 2," Blur
10. "Mood Swing," Luscious Jackson

Thursday, June 16, 2005
Where the White Women At?

Hey, did you know that there's actually a missing African-American woman? And that she's been missing since...uh...June of 2004?

Haven't heard much coverage of that over the past year. But we've heard about approximately 438 missing white women.

I just can't imagine what's different about this case....

Wednesday, June 15, 2005
Massive and Irreversable Brain Damage

It was about three months ago that the whole Teri Schiavo debacle was foisted upon us by Randall Terry and the Prolifers. At the time, we who believed in the rule of law and sanctity of marriage were told how Michael Schiavo had undoubtedly tried to murder Teri; how she was not only not in a PVR, but that she was "minimally conscious;" That she recognized her family when they entered a room; that she had hope for recovery.

Darkly, those who supported prolonging her life derided us as Nazis. "Michael Schiavo is trying to destroy the evidence!" they'd fling, unsupported, into the ether. "She's alive! She followed the balloon on the video! Murderers!"

Well, Michael Schiavo won the day, as we all know. And he did a smart thing--he agreed to let his late wife be autopsied, and agreed to let the results be publicized.

So what was Teri Schiavo's condition at the time of her death?
  • She was, indeed, in a persistent vegetative state.
  • There was no evidence that she had been strangled or abused, or indeed that she'd had any trauma inflicted upon her prior to her collapse.
  • There was "massive atrophy" of the cerebral cortex.
  • The vision centers of her brain were dead, meaning that she was blind.

Now, that last bullet point is the one you should fixate on.

Remember what we were told--that she was "recognizing her parents."

She wasn't.

Even had there been a consciousness to process the images, it couldn't have--because there was nothing left to process them.

Teri Schiavo was dead. Long dead. All that she was had left. Her parents simply succeeded in prolonging her passing, and nothing more.

And the prolifers owe Michael Schiavo an abject apology.

But if I was him, I wouldn't be holding my breath.

Where the White Women At?

Pandamanda has some thoughts about whether the missing woman in Aruba was askin' for it. It already seems to be a deveolping theme--"Hey! Kids go to Aruba and get drunk and party and stuff! She went with her alleged attackers willingly! And she may have been drinkin'!"

Okay, maybe this woman made some poor decisions. But hell, she was eighteen. Nobody makes good decisions when they're eighteen. And yeah, maybe she didn't minimize her risk as well as she could've.

But let's all be really, really clear about this--nothing this woman could have done would justify her being drugged and raped. Nothing. Yeah, maybe she could've made better decisions. But she wasn't the one who decided to drug and rape (and possibly murder) someone.

Sunday, June 12, 2005
Say Uncle!

Congratulations to Craig and Jennifer Pittman on the birth of their daughter, Anna Lynne Pittman, 7 lbs. 1 oz., 20 3/4 inches. My first niece (and my daughter's first cousin!)

Pics to follow....

Saturday, June 11, 2005
The Persecuted Religious Right

Via Sully, the story of a gay youth receiving Christian love. Go and show some support. And I agree with Andrew--this is child abuse.

Friday, June 10, 2005
Friday Random Ten
What About Those Who Swing Both Ways? AC/DCs?

1. "Where It's At," Beck
2. "Nightgown of the Sullen Moon," They Might Be Giants
3. "Lonesome Day," Bruce Springsteen
4. "$300," Soul Coughing
5. "Help Wanted," Love Jones
6. "All the Dirt," Mike Doughty
7. "A Thousand Miles," Vanessa Carlton
8. "The Other Side," David Gray
9. "She's Actual Size (New Live Version)," They Might Be Giants
10. "You to Thank," Ben Folds

Thursday, June 09, 2005
Deutschland, Here We Come

Fans of men's soccer can be proud--a U.S. berth in the 2006 World Cup is all but assured. The U.S. need only win twice in its last five qualifiers to qualify out of the CONCACAF region. The U.S. is second in their region (one point behind Mexico, five ahead of Costa Rica) and should qualify easily for their fifth straight cup.

Of course, once they get there things get a bit more dicey. But the U.S. team is currently ranked tenth in the world, tied with the Azzurri--no small feat, that. Victory in 2006 is far from assured. But the U.S. squad should be competitive. And that will be fun.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005
Damn It to the Last Damn Damn

Those who have frequented this blog may have noticed lately that I've been somewhat less than loquacious. To some extent, I plead ennui; I mean, really, am I supposed to be outraged that it turns out, say that the Big John Kerry Military Coverup was hiding...absolutely nothing? Am I supposed to express surprise that the most states'-rights Supreme Court in two generations somehow found that growing marijuana on your own land for your own personal use somehow violated interstate commerce? Am I supposed to express deep satisfaction that Bush continues to be an extremely unpopular lame duck?

Really, I may as well get agitated about the Sun rising in the East, and setting in the West.

So anyhow, I've decided that instead of trying to get all feisty and stuff, I'll just inaugurate yet another of this blog's semi-regular departments. Presenting....

Things That Do Not Suck

Yes, it's the first fun foray into discussions of those random things that I've come across and enjoy enough to recommend. Here, in no particular order, we go....

Diet Coke with Splenda

Diet Coke with Splenda annoys me. It annoys me because it's as good as regular Diet Coke isn't.

Regular Diet Coke is horrible. Not so much the initial taste--that's barely passable. But the horrid, aspartame-laden aftertaste had all but wrecked me for zero-calorie Coca-Cola products forever. Though I prefer Coke to Pepsi, Diet Pepsi is infinitely better than plain old Diet Coke.

When a friend recommended Diet Coke with Splenda, I was skeptical; how much difference can sucralose make?

A whole lot, that's how much.

Without aspartame, Diet Coke with Splenda tastes like Coke! Almost exactly, when it's cold, and pretty close when it warms up a bit. It's infinitely better than Diet Coke.

Which, of course, makes me angry. Coke finally upgrades their crappy diet drink, and what do they do? Marginalize it, a la Coke II. Yes, I know the New Coke fiasco is still having a ripple effect in Atlanta, but my God, folks, you've got an easy choice here. Cancel the NutraSweet contracts, and bring in the Splenda.

"Haughty Melodic," Mike Doughty (ATO)

I'll freely admit that I was predisposed to like this album. I've been a Mike Doughty fan since he was fronting Soul Coughing back in the 90s.

For those who don't live in Minnesota and/or those who never listened to the late, great Rev 105, Soul Coughing was the kind of band that defied categorization--which, of course, is a problem given the sorry state of radio. Nevertheless, the band created on Yuval Gabay's steady rhythms, Mark de Gli Antoni's psychadelic keyboard work, Sebastian Steinberg's upright bass, and M. Doughty's beat-poet lyrics drew a decent following, especially here in Minnesota.

Soul Coughing released three albums. Their first two, Ruby Vroom and Irresistable Bliss, were phenomenal; their last release, 1998's El Oso, was an uneven effort, though it did give the band its most attention, spawning the minor hit "Circles." Behind the scenes, the band was cracking up, due in no small part to Doughty's addiction to heroin. The band broke up in March of 1999.

For fans of Soul Coughing, that appeared to be it; certainly, there was no way that any other release would inspire the way they had.

Then, a funny thing happened. Mike Doughty got off the smack, and started touring on his 1995 solo indie release Skittish. Playing "small rock" tours, just him and a guitar, Doughty gradually found himself again as a solo artist. In 2003, he released the Rockity Roll EP, and began working on a new album with former Semisonic frontman Dan Wilson.

The result was Haughty Melodic, an album that ranks with the best stuff Doughty created with Soul Coughing.

Those who've followed Doughty these last few years will recognize some of the tunes; "Looking at the World from the Bottom of a Well," the first song on the album, has been a mainstay during Doughty's recent tours, and has been floating around the internet in mp3 format. "Busting Up a Starbucks" and "Madeline and Nine" appeared on his live Smofe and Smang album.

But with Wilson in the producer's chair, the songs that Doughty created as spare creations gain depth and nuance. Fans of Semisonic will hear echoes of the band, especially on "American Car," which has just a touch of "Falling" in it.

More than just music, though, Doughy's wordsmithing has never been in finer form. From "Damn it to the last damn damn" on "White Lexus," to the infectious "I Hear the Bells," where Doughty warbles, "You snooze you lose/Well I have snost and lost," to this wonderful lyric from "Sunken-Eyed Girl:"

Sunken-eyed girl on Delancey Street
Bulletproof glass in the KFC to
Keep the man safe in his paper hat
Keep the wrong hands off the biscuit fortune

Doughty writes some of the most consistently entertaining lyrics in music today.

All is not perfect, of course; "Madeline and Nine" has been blown up perhaps more than it needed to be; it worked well as a simple accoustic piece, and isn't as affecting as the sonic marvel that Wilson has wrought. But all in all, the album is an incredibly entertaining ATO debut. If there's justice, Mike Doughty will rise above the #175 he's currently peaked at on the Billboard charts; this album deserves a wider audience.

Shaquille O'Neal (C, Miami Heat)

Someday soon, Shaq will retire, and people will struggle to put him in the proper perspective. Sure, he's won three titles, and sure, he's been most dominant center of the last twenty years, but still, people will talk about how he had Penny Hardaway and Kobe Bryant and Dwayne Wade to take the pressure off, how he never had to do it by himself. And they'll talk about how he's just a big man; how he's not, you know, a basketball player.

Fine. Let them carp. In twenty-five years, when people talk about basketball in the late nineties and early twenty-first century, they'll be talking about one player above everyone else. I'll give you a hint: it won't be Tim Duncan. Shaq will go into the pantheon of greats with Wilt, Jordan, Magic, Larry Legend, Bill, Kareem, and George.

George, you ask? Who's George?

Mikan, you idiot, center for the Minneapolis Lakers. The best basketball player of the first half of the twentieth century. One of the best ever to play the game. Yes, he was a 6'10" white guy; yes, the game was different then.

But there's one guy who understands what Mikan meant. That man is Shaquille O'Neal.

A few years ago, O'Neal met Mikan, and the two posed for a photo wearing each others' uniforms. O'Neal gave a copy to Mikan, signed with the inscription, "If there wasn't you, there'd be no me.''

George Mikan died last week, after years of struggle with diabetes. As a pre-1965 player, he was drawing a pension of less than $2,000 a month--criminal, given the amount of money flowing through the NBA. His family wasn't broke, but they were hurting given the cost of health care.

And so in one last gesture, Shaquille O'Neal offered to pay for Mikan's funeral.

And that, my friends, is why Shaq doesn't suck. It's because he shows respect for the game, for his teammates (save Kobe--but come on, who respects Kobe anymore?), and for those who came before him.

It's that kind of respect that makes O'Neal a player worth celebrating and enjoying.

Sharwood's Tikka Stir-Fry Sauce

I loves me the Indian food. But I hates me the cost of ordering out for Indian food. What's a guy to do? Buy this delicious, easy stir-fry sauce.

It's not so much that the sauce is really, really easy (dump it on your food...and voila!), but that it's actually really tasty. It actually ranked with mid-grade Indian restaurant food. And that's no small feat. Even better, there's no need to marinade, no need to buy yogurt, and it's not horrible for you.

Now, if I can just figure out how to make naan...

Fisking Katherine Kersten

Craig Westover does so--from the right. And I really can't do better than that.

Monday, June 06, 2005
Suck It, J Robinson

The Supreme Court upheld Title IX today, denying cert to an appeal by the National Wrestling Coaches Association that argued that--yep--Title IX is discriminatory.

Sorry, boys. When as many people show up for a Gophers' men's wrestling event as show up for a Gophers' women's basketball event, I'll start caring.

(Of course, it actually has nothing to do with that. But you made that crappy argument for so long that I can't resist hurling it back at you now.)

Maybe--just maybe--we can accept that if universities are going to have sports teams because of their *ahem* educational purposes, that women have to have an equal shot at that educational experience. Now, if you want to argue that we should abolish college athletics altogether, I'll listen. But if you just want to whine because your crappy non-revenue sport is losing out to some other crappy non-revenue sport, I'm sorry. For decades, women weren't allowed to set foot on the floor of their schools' gymnasiums. They're the aggrieved class here. Not you, J.