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Friday, July 29, 2005
That'll Learn 'Em

FOX News: That Brazillian guy who the London police shot and killed? He must've been an al Qaeda decoy.

Hey, when you've been praising his execution for a week, there's gonna be a little cognative dissonance when you realize he was completely innocent....


Friday Kid Blogging

In the Kids' Area at the Minnesota Zoo, right after our first real success at being potty trained!

Friday Random Ten
Get ya freak on at my freaky food festival

1. "Turning Japanese," The Vapors
2. "I'm Still Drinking In My Dreams," Mike Doughty
3. "My Sister," Juliana Hatfield Three
4. "They Might Be Giants," They Might Be Giants
5. "4 Da Shorteez," MC Chris (as Sir Loin)
6. "Hey Nineteen," Steely Dan
7. "To The Teeth (live)," Ani DiFranco
8. "Boat of a Car," They Might Be Giants
9. "No Peace Los Angeles," Mike Doughty
10. "You Don't Know How It Feels," Tom Petty

Thursday, July 28, 2005
Forgive us, O Lord, for this, our dreadful toadying

You just can't make it up:

It must be very strange to be President Bush. A man of extraordinary vision and brilliance approaching to genius, he can't get anyone to notice. He is like a great painter or musician who is ahead of his time, and who unveils one masterpiece after another to a reception that, when not bored, is hostile.

Hindrocket is right! We shouldn't view Bush as a modern-day Warren G. Harding (corrupt, ineffectual, and stupid), but as a modern van Gogh! Yep, George is batshit crazy and unappreciated in his own time. Thanks, Hindrocket! Now we know!

Liar, Liar

Oh, prospective Ambassador John Bolton, it's not nice to fool the United States Senate.

So now, in addition to everything, Bolton has perjured himself before Congress. (Has too! If Bill Clinton perjured himself by saying he didn't have "sex" with Monica Lewinsky when all he had was "oral sex," I think Bolton perjured himself when he said he "had not" been interviewed or testified in any investigations when he "had.")

This is the guy Republicans want representing America in the UN?

Wetterling to Drop Out of Senate Race?

That's a definite maybe--if so she'd evidently be seeking the seat Kennedy is vacating in the 6th.

That, of course, would be good news for the Democrats (as Wetterling would be a stronger candidate than El Tinklenberg), and great news for Amy Klobuchar, who would, IMHO, have a mortal lock on the DFL endorsement.

This bears watching....

Wednesday, July 27, 2005
In Fairness, Bush Asked Karl What He Should Do....

Hey, you know who deserves a raise? Karl Rove and Scooter Libby! Hey, you think it's easy to find guys willing to leak classified information for minimal political gain? Au contraire!

Where The White Women At?

A pregnant woman is missing, and a mom to boot. What? She's black? That's not a story. Because, uh...look! Runaway bride!

Plamegate? Rovegate? Douchebagate?

Best we figure out what word gets the -gate treatment (I vote for "scootergate"), because this thing might get really, really big:

The special prosecutor in the CIA leak probe has interviewed a wider range of administration officials than was previously known, part of an effort to determine whether anyone broke laws during a White House effort two years ago to discredit allegations that President Bush used faulty intelligence to justify the Iraq war, according to several officials familiar with the case.

Prosecutors have questioned former CIA director George J. Tenet and deputy director John E. McLaughlin, former CIA spokesman Bill Harlow, State Department officials, and even a stranger who approached columnist Robert D. Novak on the street.

In doing so, special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald has asked not only about how CIA operative Valerie Plame's name was leaked but also how the administration went about shifting responsibility from the White House to the CIA for having included 16 words in the 2003 State of the Union address about Iraqi efforts to acquire uranium from Africa, an assertion that was later disputed.

Nothing to see here, folks. Move along. It's not like anyone had sex with an intern....

Saturday, July 23, 2005
Things That Do Not Suck

Yep, it's that time again--time for me to tell you about things which are actually not bad. Enjoy!

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, by J.K. Rowling

There are certain cultural markers that make one question our society's sanity. The enduring popularity of boy bands, Fat Guy/Skinny Woman sitcoms, and Fear Factor always lead me to incredulousness. How can such a wide swath of society like these things?

Then, every so often, something comes along that deserves all the attention and accolades--a cultural phenomenon that deserves it. The Harry Potter series is one of those things. And the latest installment, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, is the best book that J.K. Rowling has yet produced.

The Harry Potter series has caught on with adults, and why not? At its heart, the story is a classic Hero Quest--a young orphan discovering he has a higher calling, going off to a world of wonder he scarcely dreamed of, fighting and leading battles against the forces of evil, mentored along the way by a God-Teacher, who shows him the ways of the world.

If that plot sounds familiar, it's because it has animated stories from Gilgamesh to Star Wars. It is a recurring pattern in our species' literary tradition; a story that resonates with something deeply human. Any adaptation of this story will ring somewhat true, but in the hands of a gifted artist, it will ring real. So it was with Lucas' Star Wars, and so it is with this story.

In Half-Blood Prince, Rowling has written a book with an almost eerie feel. From the beginning, glimpses of things half-seen--an injury to Dumbledore's hand, a meeting taken by Severus Snape, a meeting between the Muggle Prime Minister and the newly installed Minister of Magic--foretell the doom that infuses the story.

Not that this is a relentless dirge. There are amusing moments--the subplot with the engagement of Bill Weasley and Fleur Delacour is highly entertaining. And the quickly morphing pairings of teenage couples ring true to those of us who remember being sixteen. The new professor replacing the former Defense of Dark Arts teacher is Horace Slughorn, a self-important social climber and former professor at Hogwarts; Dumbledore lures him out of retirement with the possiblity of adding Harry Potter to his collection of important former students.

But while the scenes of Slughorn trying to suck up to Harry are funny, there is undoubtedly a sense of dread throughout the book. As per usual, Draco Malfoy is up to no good. And Dumbledore is teaching Harry directly now--showing him scenes of Voldemort's life to prepare Harry for the battle ahead. Like any good God-Teacher, Dumbledore teaches Harry the important lesson that his battle with Voldemort is not fated due to prophecy, but due to Harry's need to fight; the fight is not being forced upon Harry, but he is choosing it.

The climax of the book--beginning with a horriffic mission undertaken by Harry and Dumbledore together--is too superbly crafted for me to even hint at. I wouldn't dare deprive you the ending, which is at turns shocking, distressing, and heartbreaking. We end in a place we are unfamiliar with; book seven could go in any number of ways given the state Rowling has left her world in. I look forward to reading it with great eagerness.

The best children's literature is literature that respects children. The Chronicles of Narnia, the Wrinkle in Time series--these and stories like them talked about the really big issues in a way that spoke not to children, not to adults, but to humans; life, death, good, evil, loss, heartbreak, and ultimately, triumphantly, love. The Harry Potter series will outlive Rowling by centuries. She has crafted a series that deals with good and evil in a way that speaks to humans. My grandchildren will read them, and no doubt theirs will as well.

Lance Armstrong

Like the Harry Potter series, Lance Armstrong has certainly received no shortage of plaudits. And like Rowling, he's deserved them. Armstrong today sealed his seventh consecutive tour victory; only tomorrow's ceremonial ride on the Champs-Élysées remains.

Armstrong's story, of course, is well-known: testicular cancer that had spread to his brain, chemotherapy, trying simply to survive, only to come back better than ever and to win the Tour de France more times than any other cyclist. Armstrong's accomplishment is like DiMaggio's hitting streak, or Rice's touchdown mark; it is a feat that may never be equalled. He has established himself, not just as the best rider of his generation, but as the best rider in cycling history. As such, he has transcended his sport--a niche sport by any measure--and become an international superstar. While he was at it, he put in the best cameo in motion picture history:

Lance Armstrong: Ya, that's me. But I'm a big fan of yours.

Peter La Fleur: Really?

Lance Armstrong: Ya, I've been watching the dodgeball tournament on the Ocho. ESPN 8. I just can't get enough of it. Good luck in the tournament. I'm really pulling for you against those jerks from Globo Gym. I think you better hurry up or you're gonna be late.

Peter La Fleur: Uh, actually I decided to quit... Lance.

Lance Armstrong: Quit? You know, once I was thinking of quitting when I was diagnosed with brain, lung and testicular cancer all at the same time. But with the love and support of my friends and family, I got back on the bike and won the Tour de France five times in a row. But I'm sure you have a good reason to quit. So what are you dying of that's keeping you from the finals?

Peter La Fleur: Right now it feels a little bit like... shame.

Lance Armstrong: Well, I guess if a person never quit when the going got tough, they wouldn't have anything to regret for the rest of their life. Well good luck to you Peter. I'm sure this decision won't haunt you forever.

Really, how do you top that? Armstrong will finish his career tomorrow, and ride off into the sunset. I'll flip on OLN and watch it--because it's a moment like Jordan's last shot against Utah. You're watching greatness leaving at the top. It doesn't get better in sports. At least until Tiger Woods wins his nineteenth major.

MC Hawking

Who hasn't wondered what it would be like if Dr. Stephen Hawking was a gangsta rapper? Well, everyone. But that doesn't diminish the pure humor of the concept. From the Hawkman rapping about busting some caps into some punk-ass bitches from MIT, to giving props to all his homies toiling in the fields--of evolutionary science, to explaining the concept of entropy to the tune of "OPP," the Hawkman will make you laugh. Especially on "Fuck the Creationists:"
Fuck the damn creationists I say it with authority,
because kicking their punk asses be me paramount priority.
Them wack-ass bitches say, "evolution's just a theory",
they best step off, them brainless fools, I'll give them cause to fear me.
The cosmos is expanding every second, every day,
but their minds are shrinking as they close their eyes and pray.
They call their bullshit science like the word could give them cred,
if them bitches be scientists then cap me in the head.
Imagine that in Stephen Hawking's robotic voice--that's the shiznit.

Signposts In Our Society's Decline

Great googly moogly, in what universe is the decision by three members of the Northwestern women's lacrosse team to wear flip-flops to the White House news? I've seen many a sports team White House photo op over the years, and many a sports team that was dressed in their jerseys, t-shirts, and so forth. The women in question were wearing tasteful summer dresses. Their footwear was somewhat casual? Who cares?

We live in the era of "business casual." The suit is on its way out except in rare circumstances. Flip-flops are common footwear on women in office environments--just as boots are common on men, especially in winter.

Maybe it's a generational thing, but I don't think so. I'm a strong believer that you should dress up to go visit the President.

These women did. That three of them chose matching shoes that happened to be flip-flops is not even worth mentioning. I'm just wondering how many men's sports team members wore tennis shoes to their photo op--and why we haven't heard people condemning them.

Friday, July 22, 2005
Bombing in Egypt

In Sharm el-Sheikh. 25 dead, 110 injured are the preliminary numbers.

Sharm el-Sheikh is a tourist resort area; a hotel appears to be the epicenter. One suspects al Qaeda in a blast in Antarctica. One assumes al Qaeda in a blast in Egypt.

We're Never Gonna Survive Unless We Get a Little Crazy

Oh, Mr. Vice President, you had me at "planning to nuke Iran."

Friday Random Ten
Keep the Wrong Hands From the Biscuit Fortune

1. "Spider Webs," Cold Play
2. "Wildflowers," Tom Petty
3. "Damn, I Wish I Was Your Lover," Sophie B. Hawkins
4. "Man It's So Loud In Here (2002 Remix)," They Might Be Giants
5. "Sunken Eyed Girl (Live from Sommerville, MA)," Mike Doughty
6. "Einstein on the Beach," Counting Crows
7. "Casiotone Nation," Soul Coughing
8. "Take the Skinheads Bowling," Camper Van Beethoven
9. "Like a Fortress," Honeydogs
10. "How Bizarre," OMC

Thursday, July 21, 2005
Oh When the Frogs...Come Marchin' In...Oh When the Frogs Come Marchin' In....

Karl! Scooter! How's it going? Doing well, are we? Then this is gonna be a bummer:

Two top White House aides have given accounts to the special prosecutor about how reporters told them the identity of a CIA agent that are at odds with what the reporters have said, according to persons familiar with the case.

Lewis “Scooter'’ Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, told special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald that he first learned from NBC News reporter Tim Russert of the identity of CIA agent Valerie Plame, the wife of former ambassador and Bush administration critic Joseph Wilson. Russert has testified before
a federal grand jury that he didn’t tell Libby of Plame’s identity.

White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove told Fitzgerald that he first learned the identity of the CIA agent from syndicated columnist Robert Novak, who was first to report Plame’s name and connection to Wilson. Novak, according to a source familiar with the matter, has given a somewhat different version to the special prosecutor.

These discrepancies may be important because one issue Fitzgerald is investigating is whether Libby, Rove, or other administration officials made false statements during the course of the investigation. The Plame case has its genesis in whether any administration officials violated a 1982 law making it illegal to knowingly reveal the name of a CIA agent.

The fact that it may be perjury that undoes Karl and Scooter...well that just makes me believe in karma all the more. A No-Prize to the first wingnut who complains that perjury is not a serious offense.

Of course, look for wingers to quickly declare that Punkinhead and The Douchebag of Liberty actually were trying to destroy Rove and Libby, because of course being reporters, they are automatically liberal.

If this is borne out, then one can expect these two to be indicted. Convicted? Doesn't matter. If they are, Bush'll pardon them. But an indictment would force Rove out of the Bush administration--because there's no way Bush can keep Rove on if indicted, can he?

Better ask Karl.

The Stupidity...It Burns....

Black men have surrounded my house.

Billboards of black men, that is. If you've been downtown lately, you've no doubt noticed the ads for Dove soap, featuring black men exercising and sweating.

There's no doubt the ads are attention-getting. Let's put it this way: this is the first time in 3,000-plus posts that I've ever mentioned Dove soap.

Now here's where I'm supposed to say that I find it refreshing to see "people of color" on billboards, given that our culture is so predominantly caucasian, and that most billboards feature impossibly rich and suave white people who have been airbrushed to a level of perfection that 99.9 percent of the population can never reach.

But the raw truth is, I find these Dove ads a little unsettling. If I want to see black people, I'll go to Taste of Minnesota, OK? I'll walk down Hennepin Avenue, go out to the Mall of America. When we're talking men on billboards outside my living room windows, give me the white people, please.

If that makes me sound superficial, shallow and racist--well yes, I'm a white guy.

* * *

No, I haven't lost my mind. You know who has? Richard Roeper. You know him as the loveable "Guy Who's Not Ebert" on the "Ebert and That Guy Who Replaced Siskel After He Died" show. You and I thought he was just a random movie revierwer. Au contraire! He's also a social commentator for the Chicago Sun-Times. And he--well, just read:

Chunky women in their underwear have surrounded my house.

Billboards of chunky women, that is. If you've been downtown lately, you've no doubt noticed the ads for Dove soap, featuring regular-sized women in bras and panties. It's part of a nationwide "Campaign for Real Beauty," and it's drawing waves of attention from the media....

Now here's where I'm supposed to say that I find it refreshing to see "real people" on billboards, given that our culture is so obsessed with youth and beauty, and that most billboards feature impossibly gorgeous, ridiculously thin women who have been airbrushed to a level of perfection that 99.9 percent of the population can never reach.

But the raw truth is, I find these Dove ads a little unsettling. If I want to see plump gals baring too much skin, I'll go to Taste of Chicago, OK? I'll walk down Michigan Avenue or go to Navy Pier. When we're talking women in their underwear on billboards outside my living room windows, give me the fantasy babes, please.

If that makes me sound superficial, shallow and sexist -- well yes, I'm a man. And I'll have to point out that most of the men who appear on billboards and in magazines and on TV commercials are just as genetically blessed as their female counterparts.

Now, first, let's leave aside the fact that these ads are not, as such, aimed at Mr. Roeper. Also, let's forget the fact that the women in these ads are far from unattractive--and far from chunky, to boot.

The thing I hate most about Roeper's piece is the flip way that he says, "Well, yeah, men are all sexist. Right boys?"

Wrong, Dick!

Look, I'm a male, and I'll freely admit that I'm attracted to women--often. I think all men are. And yeah, it's great to see the Size -2 Victoria's Secret model with the 44DD breats and stuff. But that's as far as it goes. It's nice to see.

But--and I know this may surprise some of you--women also serve other purposes than simply being eye candy. For one thing, as sentient beings capable of rational thought, they're actually as important as men! Crazy, I know. And an ad campaign aimed primarily at women really doesn't have anything to do with men.

Essentially, Roeper's argument is that all visual depictions of women must be of the clone-o-matic waifs we see...well, everywhere. Really? 'Cause you know, Dick, I actually like seeing a variety of women. More than that, I like that Dove is taking some baby steps toward saying that women can be attractive even if they're (gasp) a size eight!

Because anyone with two brain cells to rub together knows they can.

Besides, it's not like the billboards feature Randy Johnson or Roseanne Barr; 90% of men would seriously be outkicking their coverage if they ended up with any of those women. In the end, that's what makes Roeper's column all the dumber.

(Oh, incidentally, pretty much everything here makes me ashamed to have a Y chromosome.)

Bombings in London

Appear to be minor. Only one injury. Makes me wonder if this is someone other than al Qaeda; say what you will, those guys are usually more lethal than this.

It Depends On What the Meaning of "Secret" Is

Oh, Karl. It's been fun. We've laughed, we've cried, we've read memos which clearly showed that Valerie Plame's CIA position was not to be disseminated....

I don't know as orange is your color. Still, best to get used to it.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005
Congrats Flip

Former Timberwolves' Head Coach Flip Saunders has reportedly agreed to replace Larry Brown in Detroit.

Good for Flip. Saunders didn't deserve to be fired this season; the problems with the Wolves were related to Sam Cassell and Latrell Sprewell. Kevin McHale certainly didn't get the job done as interim coach. Saunders will have pretty high expectations--after all, the Pistons have been to the finals two years in a row--but he's a good enough coach to get the job done.

The Dread Justice Roberts

All right, I've been thinking about it for a day or so, and I've come to the following conclusion:

There is nothing the Democrats can do to stop Roberts' eventual confirmation.

Moreover, there is nothing the Democrats should do to stop Roberts' eventual confirmation.

I know, I know: his position on Roe is sketchy at best. He's bought-and-paid-for by corporations. He's certainly not as moderate as O'Connor. He will pull the court rightward.

All true. But to my mind, the Democrats should only put up a strong fight on a Supreme Court nominee under the following three circumstances:
  1. The nominee is crazy. Not literally. But you know what I mean: the kind of nominee that really believes the "Constitution-in-Exile" stuff. The kind of nominee who openly denigrates Roe and states his or her intention to reverse that decision. The kind of nominee who makes Antonin Scalia look like a liberal nutball. If a nominee is so right-wing that they will represent a serious danger if placed on the court, then the Democrats have to oppose the nominee no matter the fallout. Now, Roberts doesn't fit this description--he's conservative, but not scary. So that brings us to number two....

  2. The nominee is scandal-plagued. This goes in the unknown category for now. If it turns out that John Roberts' favorite pastime was doing blow with Bill Bennett in Vegas while Ann Coulter whipped Jonah Goldberg...well, that would at least be interesting. If Roberts is actually ethically challenged, then he shouldn't be on the court. There is no evidence of this, mind you; this only becomes operative if something comes out in the next few weeks. Assuming it doesn't, there's only one reason left....

  3. Opposing the nominee will have political benefit to the Democrats. And you know what? It won't. Not unless the candidate is crazy or scandal-plagued; Clarence Thomas' confirmation wasn't held up because it seemed like a good idea. It was held up because of Long Dong Silver. And even then, the Democrats didn't filibuster.

I know, I know, Roberts isn't good, yada yada. Hey, I'd much prefer John Kerry's nominees to the bench. But guess what? Kerry isn't President. Bush is. And much as that pains me, it doesn't give us license to stop everything just because we can. There are nominees worth filibustering; there are nominees worth fighting tooth and nail.

Roberts isn't one of them.

Now, the Democrats shouldn't roll over here. There need to be a few pointed questions asked of Roberts, especially on Roe. But I think Ezra says it best:

So the battle, as it begins, should be about one thing: making this guy answer questions. His comments on Roe, which spoke for the first Bush Administration, should be used as evidence that he must answer our questions. Otherwise, we have to assume those are his opinions. His odd cases, his tough decisions, his offensive quotes: these must all be broadcast, but only as part of a single, crystal-clear demand that Roberts sit in the Senate and offer simple, declarative answers to questions. Once that's done, we can decide how he looks and what to do. But if we don't show a genuine desire to get there first, public opinion will never allow us to get anywhere else.
Exactly. There may turn out to be a reason to oppose Roberts. And I think asking a future Supreme Court Justice to forthrightly answer to the United States Senate is not only important, but requisite. But charging headlong into battle over a nominee who, at least at first blush, seems about as good as one could reasonably expect is not just stupid. It's suicidal. If we ever want a Democratic Senate confirming a Democratic President's nominees, we would do well to remember those powers are earned at the ballot box.

James Montgomery Doohan, 1920-2005

"All I can say is...they don't make them like they used ta."

Tuesday, July 19, 2005
Better Than a Sharp Stick in the Eye

Well, now that George W. Bush has nominated the whitest man in America to the Supreme Court, what now?

John G. Roberts, Jr. is not the type of Justice I'd want in my perfect world; he's not even the best Bush could've done. (The short-lived nomination of Edith Brown Clement held more promise.) Certainly, Roberts' stand on Roe v. Wade is far from encouraging.

That said, I was expecting that; I think the Democrats should be asking pointed questions about Roe. But Roberts' position on Roe should not be make-or-break.

That's because the President gets to nominate Supreme Court Justices. And while Roberts may be at a Rehnquist level of conservatism, there are at least some signs he's not another Scalia.

So does that mean we just wave the white flag and let him through? No. But it does mean we should be very careful before we charge in and start a long, bitter fight over Roberts.

Roberts is too conservative. But he's not so conservative that it's frightening. If I'm the Democratic caucus, I plan some hard questions, I make some grand speeches, and absent a scandal, I probably let him through.

But the hard questions need to be asked.

It's Only Perjury if it's About Blowjobs

Did Karl Rove intentionally mislead the FBI during the Plame investigation? If Murray Waas' sources are right, the answer is yes.


If John Cole is right, and Edith Brown Clement is indeed O'Connor's replacement, then I think Bush may actually be doing something good. At least at first blush, Clement sounds somewhat independent. Now, I'm not stupid; she's going to be conservative, probably to the right of O'Connor. But so is absolutely every possible nominee. If Clement is the nominee, I'd lean confirm right off the bat.

We're not gonna get Warren Burger, folks. I'll take anyone to the left of Thomas, frankly.

Schlafly: Beating On Women? Go For It!

I can't say anything that Amanda hasn't, other than to say hey, conservatives, go after the Violence Against Women Act. Vote it down. That's a great idea. I'm sure the American people will love that you're pro-wifebeating.

Abused women won't, but hey, they were askin' for it, right?

Monday, July 18, 2005
Poll Watch
Uff Da, Karl Rove

That's gotta hurt:

ABC News Poll, 7/13/05-7/17/05, 1,008 Adults, MOE +/- 3%

Is Rove matter serious?

Very 42%
Somewhat 33%
Not Too 11%
Not at All 8%
Not Sure 6%
Total Serious 75%
Total Not Serious 19%

Is White House Fully Cooperating?

Is 25%
Is Not 47%
Unsure 28%

If Rove Leaked, Fire Him?

Yes 75%
No 15%
Unsure 10%

There ain't no spinning these numbers, Turd Blossom. Those are some seriously, seriously bad polling results. As I stated before, the tortured reasoning of the right on this matter may yet save Rove from being frog-marched away. But the political damage this is doing to the Bush administration is incalculable.

White Woman's Burden

It's hard to get good help these days.

At least, I assume it is; I'm actually more in the category of "hired help" than "captain of industry." Nevertheless, one can certainly sympathize with someone who finds out their employee is some sort of scofflaw or goldbricker. Or, you know, has an active sex life, and a pseudonymous blog.

The latter may not seem like the worst thing in the world, especially if the employee in question is a 26-year-old nanny. After all, anybody who's met any 26-year-olds and/or nannies knows that they may, in fact, be having sex or occasionally drinking. Or both at once. It's far from unusual.

But for Helane Olen, it's a fireable offense.

Now, I should lay bare my prejudices up front. I can't abide people who seek out nannies. If you really didn't want the kids to interfere with your career, choose a different career. And I'm not just talking to moms; dads, too, have to make a choice in life whether their jobs are more or less important than their children.

I'm not talking about families where the choice is have both parents work or keep the lights on; you do what you have to do. But when you're contemplating whether $40,000 of your money can go to an employee to watch the kids, it's time to start wondering whether for a $50,000 pay cut you could actually see your kids once in a while.

So naturally, I start out with this story from a slightly biased standpoint. Thankfully, Mrs. Olen manages to take my predjudices to the next level. And then some.

Olen wanted to be the hip, happening employer. She encouraged her nanny to share her personal life with her, and her nanny pointed her hip, happening employer to her blog. Now, the nanny's blog is not PG-rated. She talks about lesbian sex, self-gratification while reading the New Yorker, and most disturbing of all, sexual fantasies involving Tucker Carlson. But it was the nanny's personal diary, shared with others.

At first, Olen loved the blog, sharing all the tidbits of it with her friends over tea and crumpets while the nanny watched the children. (I assume.) Her husband wanted to fire the nanny straight away. (How dare that hot young nanny have sex [with someone else]?)

But then, the worst thing in the world happened. The nanny actually treated her a job.

She noted that child-rearing wasn't always fun. She actually dared to suggest that she was contemplating sterilization.

Well, I'm a dad who loves his daughter more than life itself, and there are days I feel the same way--and my daughter is pretty darn well-behaved for a 2 1/2-year-old, and I only have her 2-3 days a week. Yeah, I think it's okay if an employee occasionally expresses frustration about her job.

But the last straw was a poem the nanny posted about a fighting couple. The last straw. The husband let her go.

Of course, unfortunately, the fighting couple was not the Olens. But no matter; the young nanny was sent away. Strumpet! Ingrate! The Olen family shall not sit idly by while a woman writes stuff that doesn't actually have anything to do with them!

But still, Helene was empty. Her young, hip friend had betrayed her--or something. So Helene did what anyone would do.

She wrote an article for the New York Times

Now, you may ask why, if it was horrid for a woman to write about her personal life in an anonymous blog read by literally ones of people a day, it was therefore all right for her ex-employer to write under her own byline about a woman she'd employed. You may ask why; I may too. But Helene Olen--she never asked why. Nor the New York Times' Style editor. No, this was a Nanny Who Had Done Her Better Wrong--and who could help but feel for the poor, downtrodden socialite?


Let's not pretend here: this is all about class. All about a woman who saw herself as a protector of a lesser being, a woman who was incapable of reading a fictional post on her employee's website without seeing herself in it, a woman--and, let's not forget, a man--who saw writings about the drudgery of work as a betrayal of personal trust and friendship. And then did what friends always do--fire their friends.


Well, Helaine Olen has received a rather different reaction than I think she expected; most of us, Mr. and Mrs. Olen, are not debating whether to fire the nanny because she has sex with her boyfriend on the floor of his loft while she's off-duty. Most of us are more wondering where our grocery money is coming from. But hey--life's tough all over. I really feel sorry for ya.

It must suck to be that conceited.

In the end, I suppose the Olens were within their rights; this is a person watching their children, after all. So if they disapprove of the nanny they befriended, well, fine.

But there is nothing on this planet that excuses this article. And Mr. and Mrs. Olen should be ashamed of that far more than the nanny should be of her conduct.

Santorum: Sex With 12-Year-Olds is A-OK!

Well, maybe not exactly...but it's hard not to draw that inference from this blame-the-victim moment from the Rickster.

Sex with 12-year-old dogs, however....

Friday, July 15, 2005

Some days, it just doesn't pay to read. Evidently, we find out that companies think there's no worse employee than a mom.

I suppose on the plus side, they think there's no better employee than a childless woman.

Damn those mothers, having children and ensuring the survival of our species while still attempting to have a life outside their families. Serves 'em right.

Excuse me, I'm gonna go scream for a while.

Poll Watch
Ruh Roh, Rorge

Associated Press/Ipsos, 7/11/05-7/13/05, 1000 Adults, MOE +/- 3%

Approve of Bush Handling of Job?

Yes 42% (-1)
No 56% (+1)
Mixed/Unsure 3% (-1)

Right Track/Wrong Track?

Right Track 36% (+1)
Wrong Track 59% (unc)
Not Sure 5% (-1)

Essentially it's unchanged from the last poll, but there's something interesting about that lack of change.


I expected Bush to get a small-but-noticable jump out of the London bombings--the rally 'round the flag effect.

He didn't. At all.

Which suggests that at long last, Americans have had it with Bush once and for all.

They don't even run back to him out of fear of terrorism. They sure aren't going to go running back out of support for the economy (42%), Education (42%), Iraq (40%), or Social Security (35%).

And now come the scandals.

I knew Bush would end up a lame duck at some point.

I just figured he'd make it more than six months into his second term.

Best Opening Paragraph Ever


John Gibson of Fox News says that Karl Rove should be given a medal. I agree: Mr. Rove should receive a medal from the American Political Science Association for his pioneering discoveries about modern American politics. The medal can, if necessary, be delivered to his prison cell.

The rest is worth reading too.

Also, what Kevin says.

It's been noticed more than once that I'm pretty partisan for a "moderate" lefty. For those of you wondering, go back and read some of my stuff from 2002, 2003. I am a moderate. When I started this blog I was more a member of the Independence Party than the DFL. And my positions on issues really haven't moved. There are plenty of good Republicans out there; not all conservative ideas are bad ones; certainly not all liberal ideas are good ones.

But in the past four years I've seen the GOP change, and that change can be laid at the feet of Karl Rove, Dick Cheney, and yes, George W. Bush.

These are the people who decided that using 9/11 for temporal political advantage was more important than governing--people who truly believe that what's good for the Republican party is good for America, even if that means abandoning principles that defined the GOP.

The day will come when the pendulum will swing back; it always, always does. And I imagine in a less-charged environment--be it under President Clinton or President McCain--that I could see myself drifting back to moderation.

But right now, there are people out there who believe that it is more important for them to build their party than protect a country; more important to use classified information to damage a political opponent than safeguard national security; more important to try to build a "permanent" political majority than to ensure our nation's future stability.

It must be said: the President and those around him are not interested in protecting this nation. They are interested in building their party.

I, for one, have always believed that America is more important than any political party. When Bill Clinton was impeached, despite the lunacy of the situation, I opined that he should resign, and spare the country the spectacle. That he didn't was his mistake--I believed it then, I believe it now. The Democrats are not pure.

But I know that. And when my party has erred, I have not hesitated to say so--because that is what an American does. Put country before party. Every--single--time.

Where are the Republicans who will look at Karl Rove's actions and call them what they are?

Where are the honorable Republicans, at long last?

I urge you to search your soul on this. No man is perfect, no party flawless. Karl Rove outed a CIA agent (She wasn't undercover anymore? That's the debate you want to have?) in order to slightly damage a political opponent.

During wartime.

That's not honorable. That may be as dishonorable a thing as a man can do.

I'm angry; I can tell I'm starting to rant. So I'm just going to stop now. I'll just close with this:

I am not angry about the GOP being in power. These things happen. I have faith in the voters.

I am not angry about policy happening that I oppose. My job is to oppose it because I'm in opposition, but again, the voters made their choice. All I can do is work toward 2006 and 2008.

I am not angry because of Iraq, because of the way the economy is still limping, because I fear we've lost our way vis-a-vis the War on Terror. I am, I should say, but that anger doesn't animate this post.

I'm angry because the President's right-hand man put politics above national security.

And the people in his party have decided that's okay.

I'm angry at the people I used to believe were decent Republicans. Angry that they have been swept up in this--and that they do not at long last have the decency to simply look at the situation honestly.

Simply ask the question: if Sandy Berger had done this, what would your reaction be?

And then act accordingly.

I already am.

Friday Random Ten
Nameless Gnaw of My Pain

1. "Private Idaho," B-52s
2. "Zero," Smashing Pumpkins
3. "Don't Need a Reason," Beth Orton
4. "New York, New York," Ryan Adams
5. "Trusted," Ben Folds
6. "Deacon Blues," Steely Dan
7. "She's Got My Number," Semisonic
8. "Buddy Holly," Weezer
9. "Wooly Imbibe," Soul Coughing
10. "Tremendous Brunettes," Mike Doughty with Dave Matthews

Thursday, July 14, 2005
Rove Confirmed Plame to Novak
But Who Leaked to Novak First?

Yes, I think if true, this story would seem to put the nail in Rove's coffin. I can't see how Rove confirming that Joe Wilson's CIA operative wife was in fact in the CIA gets Rove off.

But it does beg an interesting question, doesn't it? After all, if Novakula had this information and was having Rove confirm it, who leaked the information in the first place?

After all, Novak sourced his column to two senior White House sources. Rove was one of 'em.

Who was the other?

Karl Rove Worse Than Nixon

This is now officially objective truth.

Oh. My. God.

Beyond a doubt, this is the most disturbing thing I've ever seen.

If that's your vision of childhood, I weep for you.

99% Better at Holding Rove's Jock!

Ah, Nahm. I've had a longstanding love/hate relationship with the Junior Senator from the Great State of Minnesota. He was a good mayor of St. Paul. He occasionally shows signs of being an okay Senator.

And then, out of nowhere, the spineless creature that is Nahm reappears--this time as Karl Rove's designated water-carrier.

Of course, Norm owes his current position to Karl Rove as much as to an ill-timed plane crash; if not for Turd Blossom, TPaw would've sought out the Senate, and Norm would've either had to beat out Pawlenty or run for Governor against Brian Sullivan--an endorsement Coleman may not have won. So in some ways, it's understandable that Norm is bootlicking.

Nevertheless, let's not forget Norm on October 1st, 2003:

What we're hearing is a little rank political hypocrisy when it comes to claims about a special prosecutor, and I also want to note, the president of the United States has been very, very, very clear. If someone in his administration leaked information or did something that is illegal, they will be held accountable.

I think the or is the operative word there. I think Norm is trying to forget he ever said it.

Poll Watch

Uff da, TPaw:

SurveyUSA, 7/8/05-7/10/05, 600 Adults, MOE +/- 4.1%:

Approve of job Pawlenty doing as Governor?

Yes 43% (-5)
No 50% (+4)
Not Sure 7% (-1)

Yes 48% (-3)
No 46% (+2)

Yes 40% (-5)
No 53% (+4)

There's no spinning this--the government shutdown was an absolute debacle for Gov. Timmy. Indeed, this poll if anything understates how much he's been hurt--he had an approval rating of 54% as recently as May.

Now, obviously one would expect Pawlenty will not remain mired at 43%; as the bad memories of this summer fade Pawlenty will climb back up toward 50%. Nevertheless, we can now say what we could not in January: Tim Pawlenty is in critical jeopardy of getting beaten in 2006.

Pawlenty's problems will be exacerbated should Mike Hatch be his opponent. While a legislator such as Dean Johnson would have to dig out of the same pit of despair as Pawlenty, Hatch was able to sit on the sidelines while TPaw, SSvig, and DJohns drove the ship of state into the reef. Hatch's only appearance was to move to keep the state open--and Pawlenty's moves to paint Hatch as somehow opposed to that hurt Pawlenty more than Hatch.

Certainly, 2006 is hardly a foregone conclusion for the DFL; this is a party that hasn't won a governor's race since 1986. They've snatched defeat from the jaws of victory enough times that I have developed an abiding faith in their ability to screw up. Moreover, Pawlenty remains a talented politician--wrong about pretty much everything, but talented nevertheless.

Pawlenty's been hurt, though, for the first time in his tenure as the state's chief executive. From that standpoint, the DFL did what they set out to do at the start of this session. An incumbent under 50% approval in an election year usually loses--not always, but usually. Pawlenty will have some digging to do between now and November of 2006 if he wishes to keep his star on the rise.

Things To Come

Mark A.R. Kleiman lays out a compelling case that Karl Rove is not just morally bankrupt, but legally guilty as sin. I tend to have a feeling that Rove will at least be indicted; Fitzgerald is certainly working hard for a case that has nothing going for it. And if Rove is indicted--it's been fun, Karl. Say "hi" to Lee when you get to Hell.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005
The Pushback

ShakeSis has the definitive take on the GOP pushback on Turd Blossom:

Their cunning strategy is to try to discredit Joe Wilson. Too bad it doesn’t matter if Joe Wilson were a sociopathic, machete-wielding, two-headed baboon with a leather fetish. What matters is that his wife was an undercover CIA operative, information that was not (and should not have been) part of the public record until Rove opened his yap.

That pretty neatly sums it up. Joe Wilson has a few credibility problems. So what? The question is not whether Wilson was correct--ever. The question is whether Valerie Plame was outed inappropriately (leave aside legality--it was wrong for Rove to leak her existence no matter what.)

Tuesday, July 12, 2005
Another Douchebag of Liberty

John Gibson: If Rove outed Plame, he deserves a medal.

And a Little Canary To Boot....

So why is Bob Novak not in jail right now? Because he evidently sang like a canary.

Sometimes, One Line Says It All

Jesse Taylor: "They're children, people, not morons." Heh-indeedy.

Monday, July 11, 2005
Trillin's Back!

And he's grumpy. As well he should be.

Pass the Vindaloo

Curry helps prevent skin cancer. I didn't need an excuse to eat Indian food, but I'll gladly take one....

So Hey Blogiteers....

So I'm thinking I may be starting to get the carpal tunnel syndrome, given that my right thumb is basically numb. I'm gonna try a wrist brace, but does anyone else have any suggestions on good things that I could do to preserve my precious, precious sense of feeling? Thanks in advance.

Meanwhile, In Iraq....

Hey, remember how much fun napalm can be?

Are you interested in joining? The benefits are terrific. The trick is not to get killed. That's really the key to the benefit program.

For some reason, the whole emerging Karl Rove/Plamegate conjunction has me thinking of the movie The In-Laws.

Not the cruddy 2003 remake; that was a tepid affair at best. No, the 1979 version with Peter Falk and Alan Arkin, hands-down one of the funniest movies ever recorded on celluloid.

In the movie, Falk plays a (possibly disgraced) CIA Agent working on a convoluted plan to entrap a Latin American dictator in a plot to forment worldwide inflation.

Of course, his family doesn't know he's in the CIA; neither does the family of his son's fiancee. Indeed, while we know he's up to something, the first moment we know for sure what is when Falk tells a cabbie of his occupation--appropos of nothing.

Of course, The In-Laws was farce; Rove's involvement in the Plame affair is imitating it, though.

There are always two tracks to any political scandal. The first is the legal track. On this track, Rove may indeed be somewhat safe; the best evidence mustered so far is that Rove didn't tell reporters that Valerie Plame was a CIA agent, but that Joe Wilson's wife was a CIA agent. Now, you may realize that if I tell you that Tim Pawlenty's wife is a judge, you can probably find out pretty quickly that I'm talking about Judge Mary Pawlenty. And you may suggest that this would represent a fig leaf at best for Rove.

That's true. But a fig leaf may be enough to keep him out of prison.

That said, the legal dimension of a scandal is far and away the less important track. The most important is the political track. And on that track, Rove is completely screwed.

The White House was opining early and often that whoever leaked Plame's name to the press was destined to be fired--President Bush himself said so. Of course, the White House was also swearing that the leaker just couldn't be Rove. But evidently, it could.

So now, the White House will have all its quotes thrown back in its face. Yes, Rove disclosing only that Joe Wilson's wife was in the CIA may prove to be enough to keep Rove out of jail. But it's not going to be enough to keep him safe in the court of public opinion--especially now that the press smells blood in the water.

That doesn't mean that Rove can't survive this; all it would take for him to keep his job is for Bush not to fire him. But it's unlikely that he will survive this, at least in the position he's in. It will damage the White House significantly to have them keep Rove on, when doing so clearly contradicts what they were saying on the record two years ago.

The conservatives will chop the law into fine pieces to show Rove wasn't technically guilty of a crime, or attempt to rationalize away why it doesn't really matter that Rove was the leaker. Bully. In the end, Turd Blossom may avoid prison. But like so many before him, prison isn't the worst fate Rove can endure. It's a loss of power and efficacy. And that appears to be inevitable.

Watch Out, PZ Myers!

John J. Miller is coming to get you!

Really, every time I think the right can't get any more insane....

(And yes, I think he was kidding. But it's moronic no matter how you slice it.)

It Depends on What the Meaning of 'Involved' Is

I'll have more thoughts on the Rove revelations later, but for now, let's just cast our minds back to September 29, 2003:

Q: You said this morning, quote, "The president knows that Karl Rove wasn't involved." How does he know that?

A: Well, I've made it very clear that it was a ridiculous suggestion in the first place. ... I've said that it's not true. ... And I have spoken with Karl Rove.

Q: It doesn't take much for the president to ask a senior official working for him, to just lay the question out for a few people and end this controversy today.

A: Do you have specific information to bring to our attention? ... Are we supposed to chase down every anonymous report in the newspaper? We'd spend all our time doing that."

Q: When you talked to Mr. Rove, did you discuss, "Did you ever have this information?"

A: I've made it very clear, he was not involved, that there's no truth to the suggestion that he was.

Now, I'm just a liberal blogger, but that would appear to be what we in the Anglosphere refer to as a "lie."

Sunday, July 10, 2005
Oliver Stone 9/11 Movie

Only one question: will al Qaeda have been acting to cover up U.S. complicity in JFK's assassination, which allowed Johnson to invade Vietnam and led to Nixon erasing the tapes and being forced from office?

'Cause that would be cool. Especially if Woody Harrelson is in it, and Tarrantino writes the script and then disavows it.

Friday, July 08, 2005
Good News for m Ex-Wife

Hey, look, it's artificial meat.

The question, of course, is what vegetarians like my ex would think of this; I suspect most would be okay with the idea of eating meat that was never more alive than your average amoeba. Then again, I think there are quite a few non-vegetarians who would feel the same way. (I, myself, have always been able to eat meat by pretending that it was mined; I think the vegetarians, morally, are right. I just like turkey too much to give it up.)

We're a long way from success here, but there are plenty of other goods other than just reducing the number of cows killed to make burgers. Manufactured meat would be cheaper in the long run and more environmentally-friendly; cows produce a lot of methane. Energy used to make cells would be focused on the soft tissues people eat, and not the bones, brains, and hooves we don't. And of course, if we're playing with meat, we could make it better for us.

Undoubtedly the anti-GMO folks will go all atwitter now; let 'em. I think this is a great idea, and even if it takes us twenty years or so to get there, it's a journey worth taking.

The Hard Lessons of Senselessness

I've waited to write more on the attacks in London until now deliberately.

The attacks have been a sort of Rorschach test for left and right. That's to be expected, I suppose. Lefties saw proof that the war in Iraq was not keeping us from fighting it here (as Britain is certainly "here" by any rational understanding); Righties saw proof that we needed to stay the course in Iraq, smash the terrorists and anyone else who gets in our way.

It's tempting to rush to the conclusion that agrees with your preconceptions.

I didn't want to do that.

Terrorist attacks, rather than being cause for hurled accusations, should be a moment for us to reflect. It should give us pause, slow us down, cause us to question. And then, once we've thought, it should give us motivation to do what must be done.

Of course, "what must be done" is subjective; there may be an objective way to destroy al Qaeda, but the truth is that neither the liberals nor the conservatives hold a monopoly on the "right" answer.

The attacks in London should cause us to look hard at what works, and what doesn't. London is a battle-hardened city. It survived the Blitz, it survived the IRA. London today is the most surveiled western city in the world. That didn't stop the terrorists.

There is a lesson there: they can't be stopped. Not completely.

That's not a fun lesson to contemplate. Better that the answer is that if we just fight hard enough in Iraq, or withdraw from Iraq, or get rid of Blair, or Bush, or keep Blair, or Bush, if only we just do that one thing, it will give us our victory.

It won't.

As long as someone is determined to trade their life for the lives of others, they will be able to. Not every time. Not even most times. But sometimes. And sometimes--only three times in four years in three countries--is horriffic nonetheless.

So do we throw our hands up in surrender? Of course not. Stopping terror most of the time is obviously a worthy goal. We just should not be surprised when we don't. We are in a war, of sorts. In a war, the enemy wins the occasional battle. It's just important they not win the big ones.

What impact does the London bombing have on policy? None, that I can see. Iraq is still a distraction, but because it's only tangentally connected to the War on Terror, its rectitude is neither strengthened nor diminished by these actions. We need to root out al Qaeda and destroy it, but that's not new, either; that's been the case since 1993 and before.

The truth is that London doesn't prove anything, other than that the terrorists are still around, and that will not change no matter what. If we pull out of Iraq because of the bombings, we embolden the terrorists; that its true, no matter what some on the left may think. If we push harder in Iraq, we may be creating the same sort of incubator for terror that the Soviets created in Afghanistan in the 1980's; that's true too, no matter what some on the right may think.

The truth is that all we can do, for good or ill, is continue doing what we're doing, for the most part. Keep working with our friends the French and the Brits and the rest of our European allies; keep trying to dismantle al Qaeda one bit at a time; keep pressing for democratic reforms in "friendly" nations like Egypt and Saudi Arabia. These things are the right policies. They will pay dividends.

What we should not do is use this as an excuse to turn the screws more. Civil liberties in London had already been scaled back below a level most Americans would find acceptable; that didn't stop these bombers.

In the end, we need to remember that the function of terror is to warp and destroy the fabric of society. We must not surrender our essential American--or British, or Spanish, or French--character to "stop" the terrorists.

That is what they want us to do.

We can't let them have the satisfaction.

Rehnquist Out?

It looks that way. Unlike the O'Connor vacancy, this wouldn't swing the court much one way or the other; Rehnquist is a fairly consistent conservtive, part of the troika with Scalia and Thomas that is almost always on the righthand side of the ledger. Almost no matter who Bush nominates to take his place, the ideological bent of the court will be unaffected--unlike O'Connor.

This does, however, raise the question of who Bush names as Chief Justice. The existing Justices would have to be reconfirmed by the Senate to the position, meaning that a third confirmation hearing would be launched. Does Bush want to put Antonin Scalia or Clarence Thomas (the only two potential candidates) through that?

Certainly not Thomas--the last time around was bruising enough. But Scalia might be worth it. I certainly disagree with Scalia about 95% of the time, but there's no question that he's a brilliant jurist. He would be a tremendously influential conservative Chief Justice following a tremendously influential conservative Chief Justice. If I'm Bush, I'd roll the dice; it will be hard for the Democrats to filibuster a sitting Justice.

The other option is simply to appoint someone directly into the role of Chief Justice, which is far from unprecedented. Of course, that makes the question of who gets the nod for which seat on the court very important. For example, Bush may be able to sneak Alberto Gonzalez onto the court as an Associate Justice, but it's doubtful the right would forgive him for appointing Gonzalez Chief Justice.

It will be interesting, indeed. My bet is that Bush does try to appoint Scalia to succeed Rehnquist, and you know what? He should be confirmed. The court's swinging right. I don't like it, but that's the consequences of elections. There's nobody in America more qualified for the post than Scalia, and while I may not like his ideology, it's not like Bush is going to appoint the ghost of Earl Warren otherwise.

Friday Random Ten
God is an American

1. "I'm Afraid of Americans," David Bowie with Trent Reznor
2. "Hovering Sombrero," They Might Be Giants
3. "Milk and Honey," Beck
4. "Mexico," The Refreshments
5. "One Thing," Luscious Jackson
6. "Bang Your Head," Quiet Riot
7. "You to Thank," Ben Folds
8. "Delicious," Semisonic
9. "The Road," Tenacious D
10. "London Calling," The Clash

...and yes, I know how random that last one is....

Thursday, July 07, 2005
Fuck Yeah

Go read.

Our Oldest Allies

Matt Yglesias has some thoughts on "...the first or second most important partner we have in actual counterterrorism operations." Who is it? Not who you think.


I agree with Kevin Drum:

If I could have one small wish for today, it would be for the blogosphere on both left and right to refrain from political point scoring over the London attacks. Just for a day. Isn't tomorrow soon enough to return to our usual arguments?

I think so.

UPDATE: Too late. Powerline, natch.

The Fog of Terror

It's too early to draw too many conclusions about the horriffic events in London. While al Qaeda is certainly among the list of suspects, one shouldn't forget that there are certainly other terror groups active in Britain. This could be the work of what's left of the IRA, it could be the work of anti-globalization idiots.

That said, my reaction is the same as it was in 2001. The goal of terrorists is to create terror. It is to frighten us, to force us into living our lives differently, to force us into living our lives in fear. I refused to be frightened in 2001. I refuse to be frightened now. I will die someday; we all will. But I refuse to live my life afraid that it will end tomorrow. It could, from a terrorist or a car or a bit of water on the floor of the shower. But living afraid is not living, and I will not give those bastards the satisfaction.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005
Adm. James Stockdale (ret.), 1923-2005

In some respects, the worst thing to happen to James Stockdale was his brief foray into national politics.

An accident of petitions made James Stockdale the running mate of Ross Perot during the 1992 election. Peitioners seeking to draft Perot to run chose Stockdale as his running mate for the ballot, and by the time Perot threw his hat in the ring, he essentially had to keep Stockdale on or lose ballot access in dozens of states.

Not that Stockdale was a chump or anything. He was only a Congresssional Medal of Honor recipient, a man who endured seven years in a North Vietnamese prison camp, who would mutilate his own face and break his own legs rather than submit to being shown in propaganda films, a man who nearly killed himself in a successful bid to shame his captors into lessening their torture of his fellow prisoners. After he won his freedom, he returned to head the Naval War College and the Citadel.

Of course, to political junkies like me, James Stockdale was a punchline. His rambling performance in the Vice Presidential Debate against Al Gore and Dan Quayle was the stuff of infamy. He was parodied on SNL, lampooned by left and right alike. Of course, Stockdale's chief failing--an inability to speak in polished soundbiteese--was hardly a great sin. Nevertheless, mention James Stockdale today and odds are that you'll get a "Who am I? Why am I here?" out of some wonk.

That's tragic. James Stockdale did far more for this country than I ever will; likely far more than you ever will. His death today should not bring up the memories of one imperfect debate; instead, we should remember a sailor who endured a hell most of us can barely imagine, and chose to endure more than he had to, simply to avoid defaming his country. That is a man who has earned our respect, our admiration, and our undying gratitude.

Help Skippy Top 1,000,000 Hits

A worthy clickthru, methinks.

(I'd try the same thing here, but in order to hit 1,000,000 hits by November I'm gonna need...about 930,000 hits.)

Tuesday, July 05, 2005
Don't You Worry Your Pretty Little Head About Such Things

The junior Senator from Pennsylvania is sure a great mind. His latest genius? Those feminists are making women work! Let's stop educating women, and then they'll stop working!

Oh, Sen. Santorum, you had me at "repression."

Folks, those of you who think the nuts on the right will be satisfied with simply dismantling gay rights should read Santorum's words, and give them great weight; they want to destroy women's rights as well. They're just biding their time.

Monday, July 04, 2005
Happy Independence Day

My comments from last year are pretty much what I'd be saying agan this year, so I'll point you in that direction.

Friday, July 01, 2005
Luther Vandross, R.I.P.

The cause of gettin' it on was dealt a serious blow today with the death of Luther Vandross. Vandross, who struggled with obesity, had suffered a stroke two years ago, and likely died from complications. He was 54 years old.

Next Retirement: Souter?

Radley Balko says that David Souter might be the next justice after O'Connor to retire. I hope not. David Souter has been my favorite justice since his opinion in Campbell v. Acuff Rose Music. Losing both O'Connor and Souter would alter the composition of the court radically--and not for the better. Let's hope Balko is wrong.

Well, Liberty Was Fun While It Lasted....

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor will retire from the Supreme Court, effective immediately.

Given that O'Connor has been the swing vote on...well, pretty much everything, this sets up an epic clash between left and right over Bush's potential nominee.

There's no doubt that the court will swing rightward because of this. Atrios is already writing Roe's obituary. But truthfully, I'm unconcerned about Roe's future. I strongly doubt that Roe v. Wade will be overturned anytime soon. For all the code words he threw out, for all the questions of partial-birth abortion and parental notification, the basic right to abortion is overwhelmingly supported in this country. The anti-abortion folks have a head-start in organizing because they've had to do so. Pro-choicers have the advantage of having abortion be a Constitutional right. If Roe gets overturned, that difference will evaporate overnight. It's one thing to talk about parental notification. It's quite another to talk about outlawing abortion altogether.

The last time Roe was at risk was during the previous Bush administration. Remember who ultimately was confirmed for that seat on the court? That would be Justice David Souter, who has been a reliable pro-choice vote ever since. I don't believe that's accidental. I believe that the GOP knows that overturning Roe would flip the political equation on abortion. It would be a very short-term win; long-term it would be devastating.

No, it's not the loss of Roe I fear. Even if it goes, I have faith that the opinion of the majority will win out in the end. I'm concerned about the future of gay rights, of civil liberties, and the tension between federal and states' rights. I'm concerned about the amount of deference that may be given to corporations vs. citizens, to the executive branch vs. the legislative branch, to the rich vs. the poor.

These are the issues that concern me, and should concern everyone. Yes, one can hope that Bush would replace O'Connor with a libertarian; I'd love to see, say, Eugene Volokh get the nod. That's not going to happen. The appointee will be a doctrinaire conservative. It's just a question of how conservative they are.

At the end of the day, this sets up a massive fight. The nuclear option will be back in play, and then some. But the one thing the Democrats have going for them is that Bush is going to be putting forth a nominee at the absolute nadir of his Presidency, at a time when he isn't obviously able to get anything accomplished. That's a level playing field, I think.

Hypocrisy, Thy Name is WSJ

You know, sometimes people should read what they write:

It may be that he too has concluded that talking to the press is no crime, in which case he may by now only be pursuing a perjury rap against the leaker. If that's true, Mr. Fitzgerald will have earned a place in the Overzealous Hall of Fame.

I don't think that requires comment, do you?

Friday Random Ten
God Is Empty, Just Like Me

1. "Zero," Smashing Pumpkins
2. "The Million You Never Made," Ani DiFranco
3. "Time After Time," Eva Cassidy
4. "Queen of the Air," Everclear
5. "Catching On," Son Volt
6. "Looks," Mike Doughty
7. "Rolling," Soul Coughing
8. "Fuel," Ani DiFranco
9. "Semi-Charmed Life," Third Eye Blind
10. "Wonderboy," Tenacious D