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Monday, October 31, 2005
When It Rains, It Snows

Well, just in case you thought the Vikings' season couldn't possibly get worse, it looks like Daunte Culpepper is out for the season.

The idiots who were claiming Brad Johnson was somehow this team's savior will soon get their wish. I'm predicitng 3-13, but 2-14 wouldn't surprise me at this point.

Shut Up

Dear NCPs:

Stop whining about child support.

That is all.

Reid Already Wary on Alito

I think you'll see more Dems take this tack soon.

Thanks Everyone!

Hey, thanks to everone who helped make this month the busiest in this site's history. Yes, 3500 visitors may not be much by the big blogs' standards, but it's still nice to hit it. Thanks!

Why Buy the Cow When You Get the Sex for Free?

Neil the Ethical Werewolf (guesting for Ezra) makes a good point on the whole "men don't marry girls who give them TEH SEX" thing:

Why would a single man marry a woman who's already having sex with him? Obviously, because he loves her, and wants her to be with him for the rest of his life. Maybe he also wants to be the father of her children. Being in love inspires men to do big things like marrying a woman and raising a family with her. Women have many wonderful attributes beyond being people whom one can have sex with. Some of these attributes might cause one to wish to be in a particular woman's company for the rest of one's life. (I feel like I'm stating excessively obvious things here, but the conservative view seems to depend on denying them. So I state the obvious things.)

Quite frankly, I'm not sure who should be more deeply offended by this recently reappearing argument. Should it be the women, told that they are doomed to be depressed and single should they allow men to touch them before marriage? Or should it be men, who are told that they can feel no emotion deeper than lust? Quite frankly, both arguments are so anathema to my concept of love and marriage that I can barely fathom that anyone actually believes them.

Also, Part Ownership of the Spleen is Implied

I've gotta say, I'd be extremely leery of a Justice who believed that a woman's uterus was partly owned by her husband. Yes, yes, half of the potential child is yours genetically, yada yada, until you have to carry it around for nine months and then endure the pain of childbirth, you don't have any right to diddly squat.

Oh, Alito is also horrible on civil rights.

And civil liberties.

Yeah, if the right wanted a fight, a guy who would allow race-baced discrimination, force women to notify their husbands before getting the abortions that will soon be illegal, and thinks allowing warrantless strip-searches is a-ok should get them that. You called down the thunder, well now you've got it.

Alito seems to fit two of my three criteria for opposition: he's crazy (ideologically speaking), and opposing his nomination may pay dividends for the Democrats. Especially after conservatives torpedoed Miers, the Democrats should be able to step forward and state their opposition clearly and loudly. I'm not opposed to conservatives on the court--I supported Roberts, remember--but there's a difference between conservative and reactionary.

Alito is reactionary. Quite frankly, he is the type of nominee the Democrats should oppose at all costs.

The Nuclear Option

It's going to be Scalito--er, Samuel Alito. Qualified? Yes. Insane? Yes. Confirmable? No. One would expect him to be filibustered.

Friday, October 28, 2005
After Fitzmas

So I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby has been indicted. He is innocent until proven guilty, of course, but the indictment (pdf) is pretty grim for him.

The schadenfreude has been fun, indeed, but we should not view this as a victory for anyone. It is not. It is yet another strike against the prorpiety of our government, a piece with the scandals of Watergate, Iran-Contra, and yes, the Monica Lewinsky affair. One can argue which particular scandal was the "worst," but that of course obscures the fact that they're all bad.

Our government is based on trust--trust that the officials we elect, and the officials they appoint, will first serve the public. Scooter Libby, at least, forgot his job. He believed it was more important to score political points than to safeguard classified information. For that, he deserves his comeuppance, just as Richard Nixon deserved to be forced from office, with many of his advisors jailed; just as Bill Clinton deserved to have opprobrium heaped upon him.

Ethics should not be a partisan affair. For example, one can argue that Bill Clinton should not have been impeached for his actions in the Paula Jones case, but one cannot reasonably argue that his actions were in any way proper. There have been, and will be, Republican and Democratic scandals, because there are people in both parties who believe that their own political power is more important than serving the country.

In this case, Scooter Libby placed the needs of the Bush administration ahead of the needs of his country. That is not a cause for celebration. Fitzmas has been fun and all, but now it is time for us to get serious. Libby deserves to be indicted for lying to a grand jury. Perhaps others do too--and perhaps they do not.

Either way, it is now incumbent on the President and the Vice President to seriously assess the ethical lapse of a senior advisor. Believe it or not, I am prepared to give Bush and Cheney credit should they use this incident as a means to clean up their administration's act.

I don't expect them to. The sad thing about scandal is that it often sweeps in those who were not involved in the original offense--ethically, if not legally. Bush has not shown any signs of cutting loose anyone who is unindicted. Ethically, that gives his stamp of approval to the actions of Karl "Official A" Rove, and to anyone else who may have been involved in the leak. That is not a good sign.

Bush should take the example of Ronald Reagan to heart. After Iran-Contra, he fired much of his staff and brought in Howard Baker to serve as Chief of Staff. It saved his presidency. Bush is at a similar crossroads--and what he does in the next few weeks will tell us whether he chooses to lead an ethical administration, or whether he wishes to cast his lot with the leakers.

Fitzgerald Press Conference

I will say flatly: Fitzgerald is doing a great job with this, and his explanation of why he charged Libby with obstruction, and not leaking, is terriffic. And he is being scrupulously fair about disclosing information. Good for him.

Bolton Eyed

If you think this is the end of the story, wake up. This is just the beginning.

Also, it's important to note that Fitzgerald intended to indict Rove, but has held off for now. Why? It's impossible to know. Maybe there is exculpatory evidence that clears Turd Blossom. Maybe Rove flipped. Maybe some of the last-minute deals made pushed the investigation down a different corridor. The fact that Rove has not been cleared, however, is a strong signal that this investigation is not over by a long shot.

Finally, to those on the right dragging out the lame defense that Joe Wilson is a bit of a glory hound--tell me something I didn't know. The fact that he's in love with the sound of his own voice doesn't mean that Scooter didn't lie. Joe Wilson could be a compulsive nun-rapist, and that wouldn't mean that Scooter didn't lie.


Libby Indicted

Two counts of perjury, two of making false statements, one of obstruction. The investigation will continue.

Merry Fitzmas!

Scooter Was Lying to Protect Cheney

Via Atrios, evidently the lies and obstruction came when Libby said he learned of Plame from reporters, when he actually learned it from Cheney. Which begs the question--is Scooter taking the fall to protect Big Time from something worse?

Developing hard....

Rosa Parks to Lay in State

Let me start by saying screw you, Strom Thurmond.

No particular reason. Just because.

Rosa Parks will become the first woman to lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda, and one of the few private citizens so honored.

There is a part of me that hopes that the ghosts of segregation past, who haunted our Capitol as recently as 2003, will be forced to watch a black woman honored by this nation for helping to destroy the criminal institutions they fought so hard to save. Our nation is far from perfect, but we have come a long way in fifty years.

At Least "Mayor Coleman" Won't Sound Weird

Flash has the new St. Paul mayoral poll, which showl Chris Coleman destroying incumbent Randy Kelly by a 61%-28% margin. I volunteered for Kelly in 2001, and would be working for Coleman this year were I living in St. Paul, so I can believe this--other than opening the Ayd Mill Route, Kelly has been largely unimpressive (though better than Jay Benananv would've been). And his endorsement of Bush in 2004 was, let's be blunt, colossally stupid in a city with a significant DFL majority.

Unless Coleman flames out in spectacular fashion, it's hard to see how he loses.

Ann Coulter is a Vapid Idiot

That said, she believes a Libby indictment/Rove twisting outcome is the worst-case scenario. A very Merry Fitzmas, indeed!

More on Takei

HalleysComet is right--this will be God's gift to slash writers.

Announcement at 11, Press Conference at 1

That's Central Daylight Time. If you want to go all UTC, then the announcement's at 1600, and the press conference is at 1800.

Merry Fitzmas, everyone!

Merry Fitzmas

It's looking increasingly like Scooter will be indicted, but Karl won't be--yet. Additionally, it's looking like what Scooter might be indicted for the actual leak, not just the cover-up.

Much as I'd like to see Karl frogmarched forthwith, this strikes me as a pretty good outcome. Scooter goes down, Rove continues to twist in the wind, and the whole GOP noisefest about perjury being a made-up crime goes out the window. If that's my Fitzmas present, I'll be pretty happy. We'll know soon.

Friday Random Ten
And I Know Tomorrow I'll Regret All These Things I Did

1. "Twitch," The Honeydogs
2. "Track 2," Soundtrack of Our Lives
3. "Kyle Took a Bullet For Me," Tenacious D
4. "Ain't That a Kick In the Head," Dean Martin
5. "Temptation," Semisonic
6. "The Bells are Ringing," They Might Be Giants
7. "The Prize," Semisonic
8. "La Cienga Just Smiled," Ryan Adams
9. "Drank So Much (Just Feel Stupid)," Gear Daddies
10. "American Car," Mike Doughty

Thursday, October 27, 2005
George Takei Comes Out

The guy who played Mr. Sulu is gay. It's impressive that he'd come out at age 68--and too bad that he couldn't feel comfortable doing so before now. Good for him.

Old Habits Die Hard

"I think the President should look across the country and find the most qualified man, woman--or minority!"

Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS)

The End of Code

Dahlia Lithwick, brilliant as always:

The Miers nomination went off the rails about seven seconds after it was announced, in large part because President Bush tried to mollify his base in code. The nominee had no background or record as a movement conservative and no written promises to be the kind of right-wing activist who would spearhead a Supreme Court counterrevolution. What she had—according to the president—was a "good heart." She was a religious person and she was loyal to him. That, Bush thought, would suffice to assure everyone that she had it in for Roe v. Wade.

But it didn't suffice, because movement conservatives weren't willing to settle for a coded message anymore. They have built up a strong and capable stable of thinkers and jurists who are not speaking in half-promises or symbols. And they wanted a nominee with the brains and brawn to overturn Roe because it's bad law rather than just because it's "a sin." The code also didn't suffice because the right had heard the same coded promises about Justices Sandra Day O'Connor, Anthony Kennedy, and David Souter—and had dejectedly watched them go on to uphold Roe. Sick and tired of ambiguous messages and middle-of-the-road nominees, they would not be placated by anyone who wasn't willing to say, as are Janice Rodgers Brown or Priscilla Owen or Edith Jones, that Roe must die now.

Lithwick is, as always, a must-read.

Harriet Miers' Withdrawl Letter




The Plot Thickens

This could be a very merry Fitzmas indeed:

The Chicago-based prosecutor has obtained new information from officials targeted in the leak probe, who are now interested in entering into plea discussions, they added.

Fitzgerald intended to announce that he had secured indictments against I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, and Karl Rove, President Bush's deputy chief of staff, Wednesday afternoon as well as two people who work outside of the administration, those close to the case said.

But his office was contacted late Tuesday by attorneys representing figures outside the White House, lawyers said, who expressed interest in entering into plea talks with the prosecutor. Several have agreed to enter into last-minute plea negotiations with Fitzgerald in exchange for providing testimony that could result in criminal charges being brought against additional officials inside the White House, they added.

Rove was offered a deal when his lawyer met with Fitzgerald Tuesday, but did not accept, the sources said. Fitzgerald has sought indictments to charge Rove with perjury and obstruction of justice, they asserted.

An eleventh-hour deal could help Fitzgerald "build a strong case against some very senior officials in the office of the vice president," one attorney said.

Fitzmas delayed is certainly not Fitzmas denied.

What if the Grinch Steals Fitzmas?

Yes, we're all having fun with the Fitzmas thing, but it does beg a question: what should the reaction be toward Patrick Fitzgerald should he fail to indict someone?

Though this looks increasingly unlikely, should Fitzgerald choose not to seek indictments, I hope that those of us on the left refrain from a whiplash-inducing about-face. I can see my fellow travelers hurling epithets already. We should not.

A prosecutor's first duty is to do justice; his or her job is not just to convict wrongdoers, but also to refrain from charging those who have not committed crimes. Yes, I think Karl Rove and Scooter Libby at least have violated the law, but that's my opinion based on what I've read. I'm not an attorney, and I'm not tasked with determining whether it's true. I'm not on the Grand Jury, and I haven't been privy to the testimony that has gone on behind closed doors.

In short, while I suspect guilt, I have no means of proving it.

Fitzgerald does. And I'm going to rely on his judgement. A prosecutor does justice no favors by indicting on a weak case; indeed, a prosecutor does justice far better by walking away from such a case. As much as I want to see Karl, Scooter, and Dick frogmarched, I want to see them frogmarched for crimes they've committed--not for acts we wish they had.

When Your Opponent is Drowning, Throw Him an Anchor

Matt Yglesias has contended that Harry Reid goaded Bush into nominating Miers in order to precipitate just the disaster we've seen. Maybe, maybe not, but whether by accident or design, this could hardly have worked out better. So it's nice to see that Reid is willing to twist the knife a bit more:

The radical right wing of the Republican Party killed the Harriet Miers nomination. Apparently, Ms. Miers did not satisfy those who want to pack the Supreme Court with rigid ideologues.

I had recommended that the President consider nominating Ms. Miers because I was impressed with her record of achievement as the managing partner of a major Texas law firm and the first woman president of the Texas Bar Association. In those roles she was a strong supporter of law firm diversity policies and a leader in promoting legal services for the poor. But these credentials are not good enough for the right wing: they want a nominee with a proven record of supporting their skewed goals.

In choosing a replacement for Ms. Miers, President Bush should not reward the bad behavior of his right wing base. He should reject the demands of a few extremists and choose a justice who will protect the constitutional rights of all Americans.

Note-perfect! There's no reason for Democrats to attack Miers anymore, and a great deal of reason for us to contend that she would have been a great justice. After all, whomever Bush nominates next will almost certainly be more conservative--and more obviously conservative--than Miers. Pinning this fiasco on intra-party squabbling, and painting Democrats as willing to compromise for the right nominee--well, that just sets things up perfectly for the next battle, doesn't it?

In the meantime, the longer the Democrats hold out, the longer O'Connor stays on the court--not a bad consolation prize, all things considered. Well done, Sen. Reid. Well done.

Fitzmas Tomorrow

Get your last minute shopping done.

Have You Heard About the Lindbergh Baby?

Hindrocket links to five-month-old story as proof of new, dramatic growth.


Uncaring. Unfeeling. Unloved.

Harriet Miers, exit, stage right.

Available evidence is that Bush will try to play the blame game:

President Bush said he reluctantly accepted her decision to withdraw, after weeks of insisting that he did not want her to step down. He blamed her withdrawal on calls in the Senate for the release of internal White House documents that the administration has insisted were protected by executive privilege.

Poppycock. The GOP controlled the Senate. That wasn't an insoluble problem. Miers was a flaming trainwreck, unqualified for the job and too squishy on Roe for the base to swallow.

It will be interesting to see where Bush goes from here. A true-blue firebreather like the right wants will trigger L'Option Nucleaire, and one doubts that Bush can find another stealth nominee without enraging his base even further.

What this does do, in the end, is destroy the ability of the right to paint the Democrats as partisan should the next nominee be filibustered. While the spin from the right will be that Miers was scuttled due to Democratic opposition, nobody is going to buy it. It was the right that prevented Miers from getting her "up or down" vote. That makes it harder for them to complain the next time the left takes similar action.

My Theory *ahem* That Belongs to Me....

William Saletan shreds Michael Behe by referencing Monty Python. Heh-deedy.

Breaking: Miers Withdrawing

Reported on NPR. Via Holly in Cincinatti. More assuredly to follow.

Well, It's Probably the Local Officials' Fault. Oh, Wait....

Four million people without power for months, dwindling supplies, FEMA and state-level incompetence. Just the aftermath of Wilma in Florida. Why do I think the Feds will be a bit slower to pin this on the Governor there?

Wednesday, October 26, 2005
CNN: No Announcement Today

That doesn't mean, of course, no indictments today. Indeed, this is pretty much what we heard yesterday.

Liar, Liar

Scotty Mac was lied to by Karl and Scooter. Unless, of course, Scotty Mac is lying now. Which is, of course, entirely possible.

Rove, Libby to be Indicted?

So says Raw Story.

Wow, that's almost everything I wanted for Fitzmas! I'd like a Cheney too, but I don't really think I'm gonna get one.

Fitzmas Comes But Once a Year

Per Judd, CBS reporting that Fitzgerald will make indictments today.

Ho ho ho!

The Nightmare Before Fitzmas

Merry Fitzmas Eve, everybody.

Heardhearted Harbinger of Haggis

Well, if this is Harriet Miers' philosophy, I'd support her. But I misdoubt that the right is going to go ballistic over this:

Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers said in a speech more than a decade ago that "self-determination" should guide decisions about abortion and school prayer and that in cases where scientific facts are disputed and religious beliefs vary, "government should not act."

In a 1993 speech to a Dallas women's group, Miers talked about abortion, the separation of church and state, and how the issues play out in the legal system. "The underlying theme in most of these cases is the insistence of more self-determination," she said. "And the more I think about these issues, the more self-determination makes sense."

In that speech and others in the early 1990s when she was president of the Texas Bar Association, Miers also defended judges who order lawmakers to address social concerns. While judicial activism is derided by many conservatives, Miers said that sometimes "officials would rather abandon to the courts the hard questions so they can respond to constituents: I did not want to do that -- the court is making me."

I can't see the right standing by her after that. But maybe the left will bail her out.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005
Delicious Yellow Cake

Josh's story blowed up real good.

Merry Fitzmas

According to Raw Story, Fitzgerald to seek at least two indictments, most likely in the perjury/obstruction spectrum. Fortunately, according to Sen. Hutchison, that's like a parking ticket, so hey, no big deal.


I generally make it a point not to post someone else's stuff in its entirety, but I'm not sure how to excerpt this post from Josh Marshall:

Very explosive news out of Italy today on the Niger/uranium front. More soon.

So...there you go. I think that it will turn out that Ahmed Chalabi is really Dick Cheney, and he would've gotten away with it too, if it wasn't for those meddling kids. Of course, I could be wrong.


What can be said about this? I'm sorry we asked you to sacrifice for this, and I thank you for being willing to do so.

Minnesota Democrats Exposed Exposed!

Not that I particularly care, but he's evidently Michael Brodkorp, a former GOP spokesperson. (Via Smartie through several others.)

The Party of Fiscal Responsibility

This interview with Sen. Connie Mack (R-FL) reads like satire, but it isn't:

Well, the U.S. government has to get money from somewhere. As a two-term former Republican senator from Florida, where do you suggest we get money from?

What money?

The money to run this country.

We'll borrow it.

I never understand where all this money comes from. When the president says we need another $200 billion for Katrina repairs, does he just go and borrow it from the Saudis?

In a sense, we do. Maybe the Chinese.

Is that fair to our children? If we keep borrowing at this level, won't the Arabs or the Chinese eventually own this country?

I am not worried about that. We are a huge country producing enormous assets day in and day out. We have great strength, and we have always adjusted to difficulties that faced us, and we will continue to do so.

Yeah, why worry, Sen. Mack? I mean, by the time our Saudi and Chinese owners divide the country down the middle, you'll be dead, and it will just be my daughter and her generation who suffer. So, win-win, right?

At least he's honest; we're going to cut taxes on the super-rich and get our kids to pay for them. I'm sure everyone's behind that. Oh well. I, for one, welcome our new Saudi and Chinese overlords.

Big Time Liar

Not that I'm surprised.

Rosa Parks, 1913-2005

It has been said that if Rosa Parks had not taken the actions she did, someone else would have. Perhaps. But Rosa Parks did, choosing to stand up for her dignity and the dignity of her fellow citizens by refusing to move to the back of the segregated bus she was riding on--and her actions sparked the civil rights movement, and began a process that ultimately forced our nation to end the despicable, apartheid-like system that was Jim Crow.

Parks died yesterday at the age of 92, a woman defined by the action she took in 1955. As well she should be, for standing up to institutionalized evil may be right, but it is not undaunting. Her action is remembered, and will be remembered generations from now. Not because of what it started, but because of what it began to end.

Big Time


I. Lewis Libby Jr., Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, first learned about the C.I.A. officer at the heart of the leak investigation in a conversation with Mr. Cheney weeks before her identity became public in 2003, lawyers involved in the case said Monday.

Notes of the previously undisclosed conversation between Mr. Libby and Mr. Cheney on June 12, 2003, appear to differ from Mr. Libby’s testimony to a federal grand jury that he initially learned about the C.I.A. officer, Valerie Wilson, from journalists, the lawyers said.

The notes, taken by Mr. Libby during the conversation, for the first time place Mr. Cheney in the middle of an effort by the White House to learn about Ms. Wilson’s husband, Joseph C. Wilson IV, who was questioning the administration’s handling of intelligence about Iraq’s nuclear program to justify the war.

Larry Johnson has more. As does Jane Hamsher.

Heck, I'd be okay with unindicted co-conspirator.

Monday, October 24, 2005
Up Or Down! Up Or Down!

I guess irony can be pretty ironic sometimes.

There Were Two Teams That Wanted To Lose, and When That Happens, Only One of Them Can Lose

As nice as it is to beat the Packers (and Packers--you lost to the Vikings. How embarassing is that?), it's good for Vikes fans to keep this in perspective. Mike Tice is still a bad coach, the Love Boat is still an embarassment to the state, and the Vikings vanquished a 1-5 team.

Still, it's always nice to beat the Packers, if only to annoy the Packer Backers.

Paging Josh Marshall

TPM should be all over this:

The CIA leak inquiry that threatens senior White House aides has now widened to include the forgery of documents on African uranium that started the investigation, according to NAT0 intelligence sources.

This suggests the inquiry by special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald into the leaking of the identity of undercover CIA officer Valerie Plame has now widened to embrace part of the broader question about the way the Iraq war was justified by the Bush administration.

It's the most wonderful time of the year....

UPDATE: Told ya.

It Depends On What the Meaning of Perjury Is

In 1999, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) voted to remove a sitting president from office for perjury and obstruction of justice.

Though the president in question--Bill Clinton--was not ultimately removed, he had been impeached the preceding December by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, only the second president ever to suffer such a fate. At the time, Hutchison explained her vote, saying "I was reminded as well, however [sic], that the laws of our Country are applicable to us all, including the President, and they must be obeyed. The concept of equal justice under law and the importance of absolute truth in legal proceedings is the foundation of our justice system in the courts."

So obviously, perjury and obstruction of justice are incredibly serious offenses. Or at least they are when the person being tried is a Democrat. When they're a Republican, it's just not that big a deal:

Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, Republican of Texas, speaking on NBC's "Meet the Press," compared the leak investigation to the case of Martha Stewart, "where they couldn't find a crime and they indict on something that she said about something that wasn't a crime."

Senator Hutchison said she hoped "that if there is going to be an indictment that says something happened, that it is an indictment on a crime and not some perjury technicality where they couldn't indict on the crime and so they go to something just to show that their two years of investigation was not a waste of time and taxpayer dollars."
So to sum up: Bill Clinton dissembles in a civil suit, and it shakes the foundations of our entire judicial system. Scooter Libby lies in the investigation into a leak of a CIA agent? Who hasn't?

What's saddest about this, of course, is that this is evidently the new GOP strategy: decry any indictments as "technicalities" that are just sour grapes from Fitzgerald. As with Hutchison, however, the GOP is burdened with their actions in the impeachment trial of Bill Clinton. They put this country through a wrenching drama that nobody really wanted to hear about over something unrelated to Bill Clinton's conduct in office. (I'll leave it to the reader to decide whether Clinton himself was culpable, though I'll remind you that Clinton wasn't indicted in the end.) If perjury in a civil case was worth impeaching Clinton for, perjury in a criminal case is worth indicting Scooter, Karl, and the gang for.

I will accept the GOP line if--and only if--they admit once and for all that the impeachment of Bill Clinton was politically motivated thuggery. But I'm not holding my breath.

The Buck Stops There

George Bush, self-aware as ever.

Wilma Back to Cat 3

She's a major hurricane again just before landfall in Florida. Meanwhile, while mercifully only seven people are confirmed dead in Mexico, Wilma battered Cancun, and may have shuttered the tourist industry there entirely through Christmas. I'm not so much concerned about the tourists (there's always somewhere else for them to go) as I am for the people who will be thrown out of work by this.

At any rate, if you know anyone down in Florida, think good thoughts for them tonight. After Florida, Wilma and Tropical Storm Alpha are expected to merge and drive northward into New England, bringing gales and winter storm conditions to the area in the middle of the week.

Douchebag of Liberty

As followers of L'Affaire Plame remember, there was some question at the time of Judy's unpleasant incarceration as to why the guy at the center of the whole thing--professional douchebag and troll Bob Novak(ula)--was not also going to jail to protect his source. Speculation at the time was that Novak must have sung.

Speculation was right:

A critical early success for Fitzgerald was winning the cooperation of Robert D. Novak, the Chicago Sun-Times columnist who named Plame in a July 2003 story and attributed key information to "two senior administration officials." Legal sources said Novak avoided a fight and quietly helped the special counsel's inquiry, although neither the columnist nor his attorney have said so publicly.

Well, he wouldn't, would he?

Saturday, October 22, 2005
Wilma and Alpha: BFF?

Here's an extremely unfun scenario:

Notice them both off the Carolina coast? The GFDL model is calling for this to turn into a real mess. Below is a shot of the GFDL model on Monday afternoon. The box on the right is zoomed in on 'Alpha' at that time. In the shot, Hurricane Wilma is over central Florida while Alpha is a Category 3 hurricane to the northeast of the Bahamas.

Very quickly these two hurricanes are merged together right over the Gulf Steam. The combined hurricane travels right up the Gulf Stream (battering the East Coast on the way) and a day later (Tuesday afternoon) there is a weakening Category 2 hurricane right off of Cape Cod.

Sounds super terriffic, no? Of course, predicting what one tropical storm does is hard enough; I've got to imagine the margin of error here is high. Still, Hurricane Alma doesn't sound like much fun....

Uncharted Waters

Tropical Storm Alpha forms, the twenty-second named storm of the year. That's the first time in history that 22 named storms have formed. Alpha could dump 8-12 inches of rain on Haiti even if she doesn't get organized into a hurricane.

Meanwhile, Wilma continues to batter Cancun. Though she's down to a Cat 2, she's still sitting on the northeast tip of the Yucatan Peninsula, where she has been since yesterday. I shudder to think what's going to be left there when she finally moves on later today.

It's Really Hard

Wow. I mean, I know Harriet Miers is largely unqualified for her seat, but she should at least know the kind of stuff they teach in Constitutional Law:

At one point, Miers described her service on the Dallas City Council in 1989. When the city was sued on allegations that it violated the Voting Rights Act, she said, "the council had to be sure to comply with the proportional representation requirement of the Equal Protection Clause."

But the Supreme Court repeatedly has said the Constitution's guarantee of "equal protection of the laws" does not mean that city councils or state legislatures must have the same proportion of blacks, Latinos and Asians as the voting population.

"That's a terrible answer. There is no proportional representation requirement under the equal protection clause," said New York University law professor Burt Neuborne, a voting rights expert. "If a first-year law student wrote that and submitted it in class, I would send it back and say it was unacceptable."

Yes, Professor Neuborne. But Harriet Miers isn't a law student. She's a White House Counsel and Supreme Court Nominee.

Amid signs that Bush is searching for an exit strategy on Miers somewhat more assiduously than he is in Iraq, I think it's prudent to remember the good times. Ah, Harriet. You'll always have Austin.

Like Hanson. Only Evil.

NTodd reminds us that unfortunately, Prussian Blue is still around. I just want to know where you get one of those Hitler smiley-face shirts.

Friday, October 21, 2005
Damascus Linked to Hariri Assassination

This is beyond troubling, and for once I'll say I think Bush is right. If this is true, then there has to be some sort of sanction pursued against Syria.

Bird Flu in UK

Bad news.


Wow, does Pajamas Media ever sound like the Titanic of multiblog media thingies.

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Fitzmas

Okay, first of all, I agree with Smartie. While all the schadenfreude we lefties are enjoying over the ethical problems of the right is great, we shouldn't lose sight of the fact that it does us no good if we can't parlay it into electoral success over the next few years.

That said, schadenfreude is still fun. So join with me, folks, in anticipation. Today's hint: Patrick J. Fitzgerald's new, shiny website. Now why would Patrick Fitzgerald suddenly have need of a website? Why, oh why, oh why oh why? I mean, websites are good for posting interviews, and images, and indictm--


If taking pleasure in the sorrow of Karl, Scooter, and so forth is wrong...I don't want to be right!

Leon Kass is Batshit Insane

I'd love to fisk this piece of dreck by Kass, but how can I when World o' Crap has already done such a masterful job?

Still, I just have to touch on this:

The change most immediately devastating for wooing is probably the sexual revolution. For why would a man court a woman for marriage when she may be sexually enjoyed, and regularly, without it?

You know what? I'm tired of this old chestnut. Will men go have sex with willing women a bit too willingly? Yes. Are we a bit too wired for it? Yes.

But you know what? Millions upon millions of men do marry. Is it just to get the sex? Well, Kass himself admits not:

Many, perhaps even most, men in earlier times avidly sought sexual pleasure prior to and outside of marriage. But they usually distinguished, as did the culture generally, between women one fooled around with and women one married, between a woman of easy virtue and a woman of virtue simply.

The men were getting sex! All the damn time! Why would they date women then?

Because marriage and love are not just about sex.

Jebus, Kass' ilk are fond of telling us that, so why don't they act like they believe it? Love and marriage are a higher and greater thing than lust and dating. You know what? I know that. The kids ten years younger than me know that. Generations from now, people will know that.

What Kass is angry about is obvious, of course. In the old days, it was just the men going to screw prostitutes and women of "easy virtue." The women were either Madonnas or whores, and there could be no overlap between them.

Today, women actually do the same things as men--they date, they have sex, they try relationships. Some work. Some fail. But through it all, women are approaching some rough form of parity. Another generation or two, they may actually have it.

Kass acts like women will be incapable of dealing with this--he describes them as uniformly sad, incapable of marrying. But I know many women, and to a one they've managed to make the turn toward domesticity with no more difficulty than any men I've known. Even those who haven't found Mr. Right are buoyed by career, by other interests, and the fact that they're not simply discarded as "old maids." Indeed, some who haven't found Mr. Right are happier than some who thought they had.

Kass closes on the dumbest note ever:

Once female modesty became a first casualty of the sexual revolution, even women eager for marriage lost their greatest power to hold and to discipline their prospective mates. For it is a woman's refusal of sexual importunings, coupled with hints or promises of later gratification, that is generally a necessary condition of transforming a man's lust into love.

I don't know, Leon; love is a many-splendored thing. And sometimes, rather than a woman playing coy, it's built on such things as mutual respect, shared interests, common goals, and friendship. Of course, that's a different paradigm of partnership than existed a hundred years ago, when I would've found my mate by going to her dad and giving him some cattle. But it's a damn sight fairer to women, and a damn sight more rewarding for men.

Wilma Comes Ashore

A shot of beautiful Cozumel, the most recent image I've found.

Wilma is definitely going to go over the tip of the Yucatan Peninsula, and is going to devastate the area. The question now is what happens next; if Wilma stalls out just over land or takes a westward jog, she'll weaken significantly and spare Florida a major hurricane--while, needless to say, repetitively pounding Mexico. Good if you're a Floridian, bad if you're a Mexican.

If Wilma doesn't stall, or stalls out over water, she'll hit Florida as a much stronger storm.

The worst-case scenario looks slightly less likely--that would be Wilma stalling just off the coast, remaining strong and battering Mexico for days before being pushed northeast. It now appears all but certain that she'll at least cross the peninsula and that will weaken her somewhat. It's all down to timing at this point--how long she stays over land will determine how much damage she does, both to Mexico and Florida.

Friday Random Ten
Speak Softly, Drive a Sherman Tank

1. "Brick," Ben Folds Five
2. "World Waits for You," Son Volt
3. "You Blues," Juliana Hatfield Three
4. "Dead Promises,"Jay Farrar
5. "Rhythm Section Want Ad," They Might Be Giants
6. "Soft Serve," Soul Coughing
7. "J.A.R. (Jason Andrew Relva)," Green Day
8. "Somehow, Someday," Ryan Adams
9. "Aspera," Erin McKeown
10. "Someone's Daughter," Beth Orton

Target Letters

No, not this kind. This kind!

Plame Indictments So Likely....

Even Power Line can't deny it.

Wilma Moving Due North

That would be very bad news for Florida; it looks like it may not go aground long in the Yucatan at all.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

It looks more and more like the Yucatan is going to take a direct hit from a Cat 5 Hurricane. The big question is whether Wilma's eye sits over land or stays just out in the water. If Wilma comes ashore and stays ashore it will help Florida out. If she stays just off the coast, however, she'll devastate Mexico and then move on to hit Florida as a Cat 3 Hurricane.

Neither sounds particularly good.

Happy to Be Indicted

Tom DeLay--enjoying his experience in jail.

With Friends Like These

Josh Marshall seeks to answer the question of why the White House would leak that Bush knew about Rove's involvement in L'Affaire Plame two years ago:

According to knowledgeable sources, those White House officials behind that story were trying to help the president, not hurt him. The story, in their view, was about his unhappiness with what Rove had done but his loyalty to those who work for him.

Now, the first thing you have to say on this is that there are some folks in the White House who are pretty stupid. Even a cursory knowledge of where the live wires lay in this story would tell you that those bits of information would lead to someone getting a very big shock.

Ordinarily, such an elementary mistake just wouldn't happen.

This part is just inference, not reporting. But I suspect that what we're seeing here is an example of various players in the White House trying to manage damage control without central direction, perhaps without the requisite experience in some cases and even more likely without all the key facts at hand.

Well, when your brain is otherwise occupied, it can cause you problems.

Heckuva Job, Brownie

Mike Brown ignored warnings from his regional FEMA chief--who has the emails to prove it.

Here's my favorite part, written by one of Brown's aides regarding dinner in Baton Rouge on August 31, two days after landfall:

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

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

Yeah. It sure sucks to only have half an hour to eat dinner at a sit-down restaurant while people are drowning an hour away. Poor Brownie. I bet he couldn't even get truffles there.

Objectively Anti-Woman

Target has yet to respond to my missive of yesterday, but they've been responding to others with the same form letter, so it's only a matter of time before I get this response from "Jennifer Hanson":

Dear Target Guest,

Target places a high priority on our role as a community pharmacy and our obligation to meet the needs of the patients we serve. We expect all our team members, including our pharmacists, to provide respectful service to our guests, particularly when it comes to their health care needs.

Like many other retailers, Target has a policy that ensures a guest’s prescription for emergency contraception is filled, whether at Target or at a different pharmacy, in a timely and respectful manner. This policy meets the health care needs of our guests while respecting the diversity of our team members.

Your thoughts help us learn more about what our guests expect, so I’ll be sure to share your feedback with our pharmacy executives.

Thanks for taking the time to share your questions, thoughts and comments.

I hope we’llsee you again soon at Target.

Jennifer Hanson
Target Executive Offices

That's pretty easy to interperet: we let our pharmacists refuse to fill prescription. But we won't just come out and say that--we'll pretty it up by talking about "diversity."

I worked for a little while as a night stocker at Target. At the time, I was under the impression that I was supposed to do my job, that if I had a moral objection to stocking cereal or speaking to brunettes, I was still supposed to do so. Guess not.

It isn't "diversity" to support your employees' refusal to do their jobs. It's placing your employees above your customers. And it is a good way to go out of business. Sorry, Target. You'll have to do better than this.

Throw Scooter From the Train

When danger faced Sir Karl, brave Sir Karl ran away:

White House adviser Karl Rove told the grand jury in the CIA leak case that I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, may have told him that CIA operative Valerie Plame worked for the intelligence agency before her identity was revealed, a source familiar with Rove's account said yesterday.

In a talk that took place in the days before Plame's CIA employment was revealed in 2003, Rove and Libby discussed conversations they had had with reporters in which Plame and her marriage to Iraq war critic Joseph C. Wilson IV were raised, the source said. Rove told the grand jury the talk was confined to information the two men heard from reporters, the source said.

Interesting. Is Karl looking to save his own skin? Stay tuned.

Wilma Could Hit Massachusetts as a Cat 2

It looks like Wilma may now graze the Yucatan as a Cat 4, and hit Florida as a Cat 3--sweeping rapidly up the Eastern seaboard before coming ashore again somewhere between Connecticut and Cape Cod.


This from Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, former Chief of Staff for former Secretary of State Colin Powell:

In a scathing attack on the record of President George W. Bush, Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, chief of staff to Mr Powell until last January, said: “What I saw was a cabal between the vice-president of the United States, Richard Cheney, and the secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld, on critical issues that made decisions that the bureaucracy did not know were being made.

“Now it is paying the consequences of making those decisions in secret, but far more telling to me is America is paying the consequences.”


Wednesday, October 19, 2005
Good News, Bad News

Good News: Wilma may not hit Florida hard after all.

Bad News: That means it's going to absolutely pound Mexico.

I guess it's good if America dodges one of these things, but I'm not sure that humanity is better served if the Yucatan Peninsula gets slammed by a Cat 4 storm.

Bush Knew Rove Leaked in '03?

That could well be the case. If so, Karl's going down in a big, big way--and George has some 'splaining to do.

Glad I Transferred My Prescriptions

Target refuses to fill a woman's birth control prescription. Target has just lost my business. All my business.


This is getting ridiculous.

Wilma is currently a Category Five Hurricane, the third hurricane this year to hit that level--and based on pressure, is the strongest Hurricane ever measured in the Atlantic--stronger than Katrina, stronger than Rita.

Three of the five strongest storms ever recorded have been this year.

Now, as we saw with Rita, just because Wilma has hit Cat 5 doesn't mean it will cause massive devastation--at least not on an apocalyptic scale like Katrina. But Dr. Jeff Masters notes, flatly, "There has never been a hurricane like Wilma before."

Nor a season like this.

Wilma has already claimed ten lives in Haiti. Let's hope she doesn't claim more.

Good luck to everyone in her path.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005
Cheney Resignation Rumors!

No, I don't believe this. But I think it's hilarious.

"Go f--- yourself"

Nothing to See Here

Uh-oh, Dick: flip-floping isn't just for John Kerry anymore:

Individuals familiar with Fitzgerald’s case tell RAW STORY that John Hannah, a senior national security aide on loan to Vice President Dick Cheney from the offices of then-Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs, John Bolton, was named as a target of Fitzgerald’s probe. They say he was told in recent weeks that he could face imminent indictment for his role in leaking Plame-Wilson’s name to reporters unless he cooperated with the investigation.

Look for stories on Hannah's alcohol abuse, Democratic ties, and secret love of al-Qaeda; not so much because any of that is true, but because the noise machine's gonna have to destroy him somehow.

Rocked You Like a....


Why I Blog About Hurricanes

The other day, someone asked me a reasonable question: why do you blog so much about hurricanes? After all, I live in Minnesota, which is in nearly the exact center of North America; I'm in literally the safest place in the Western Hemisphere if I want to avoid facing a hurricane's wrath. Obviously, Katrina was a story, as was Rita, but why am I noting, say, the formation of Tropical Storm Wilma?

This is why:

Extreme weather events -- including heat waves, floods and drought -- are likely to become more common over the next century in the United States because of human-generated greenhouse gas emissions, according to a new study by Purdue University researchers.

The analysis, which is being published online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science, examines how heat-trapping gases linked to climate change may intensify precipitation, drought and other weather conditions. Instances of extreme heat will probably increase throughout the country, the scientists concluded, and many areas will experience heavier downpours even if rain becomes less frequent.

"I would be thrilled to be wrong," said Noah S. Diffenbaugh, a climate scientist at the Purdue Climate Change Research Center and the university's department of earth and atmospheric sciences. "It's definitely going to be more extreme hot temperatures."

About a month ago, I wrote about my fears that something seemed to be up with the weather, and nothing I've read or seen since then has convinced my my feelings of unease are misplaced. We've seen open water in the arctic, and we've tied the all-time record for named tropical storms. Wilma should become a hurricane today, and the next tropical storm to form will be Tropical Storm Alpha--because they've run out of names.

Everything I've read about global warming has suggested that at some point, the effects will start to become apparent--and that by then, a fairly large amount of climactic destruction will be inevitable, because we will have reached a tipping point. What we are seeing now is suggestive that maybe we're at that point. I hope not--but I'm pessimistic.

If we have reached that tipping point, then the next century will not be dominated by stories of Islam vs. the West, or of the rising European Hegemony, or of the Culture Wars. The story will be of the destruction wrought by the weather. I fear that in 2105, a writer somewhere will look back at our actions with horror. I fear that she will be right to do so.

Reading the Tea Leaves

The next 48 hours or so appear to be very interesting for those of us following L'Affaire Plame. Josh Marshall tries to find the hidden ledes in today's Washington Post article. Among his thoughts:
  • There's mention of this involving Cheney again, which suggests strongly that the Vice President might end up (at least) an Unindicted Co-Conspirator. It's also possible the Vice President could be indicted; the protections a president enjoys against indictment do not apply to the office of the vice president.
  • Fitzgerald's office made a point of noting that when an announcement is made on indictments, it will be made in Washington (where the Grand Jury is empaneled) and not in Chicago (where Fitzgerald is based). Why is that significant? Because it suggests that an announcement is imminent--after all, there's no reason to announce where an announcement will take place unless an announcement is about to take place.
  • There are a series of names mentioned as interviewees, including Mary Matalin, Catherine Martin, and Jennifer Millerwise, about whom much detail appears, apropos of nothing, mid-article. Why would the article note that "she talked with the prosecutor more than two years ago but never appeared before the grand jury"? It's unclear, but it's redolent of a deeper story.

At any rate, things appear to be reaching their crescendo, and pace James Tarranto, it appears this is going to be big. Maybe even Big Time.

Monday, October 17, 2005
Wednesday Indictments?

That's what Wonkette hears.

None Dare Call it Treason

John is right--it continues to astound me how the right somehow thinks outing a CIA agent in wartime is no big deal. If Bill Clinton had done what Scooter, Turd Blossom, and Big Time are alleged to have done, he would have been ridden out of town on a rail. And it would've been the right decision.

I have no time for people who want to smear the left's love of country while simultaneously declaring that the leak of a CIA agent's identity is understandable, even laudatory.

It was wrong then, it is wrong now. And hopefully, we are approaching the day when justice is done.

Big Time

This story just works on so many levels:

special counsel is focusing on whether Vice President Dick Cheney played a role in leaking a covert CIA agent's name, according to people familiar with the probe that already threatens top White House aides Karl Rove and Lewis Libby.

The special counsel, Patrick Fitzgerald, has questioned current and former officials of President George W. Bush's administration about whether Cheney was involved in an effort to discredit the agent's husband, Iraq war critic and former U.S. diplomat Joseph Wilson, according to the people.


Fitzgerald has told lawyers involved in the case that he hopes to conclude soon -- the grand jury's term expires Oct. 28, although it could be extended -- and there is a growing sense among knowledgeable observers that the outcome will involve serious criminal charges. ``Fitzgerald is putting together a big case,'' Washington attorney Robert Bennett, who represents Miller, said on the ABC-TV program ``This Week'' yesterday.


Fitzgerald, 45, has also questioned administration officials about any knowledge Bush may have had of the campaign against Wilson. Yet most administration observers have noted that on Iraq, as with most matters, it's Cheney who has played the more hands-on role.

One lawyer intimately involved in the case, who like the others demanded anonymity, said one reason Fitzgerald was willing to send Miller to jail to compel testimony was because he was pursuing evidence the vice president may have been aware of the specifics of the anti-Wilson strategy.

And both U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Hogan and an appellate-court panel -- including David Tatel, a First Amendment advocate -- said they ruled in Fitzgerald's favor because of the gravity of the case.

I'll take unindicted co-conspirator for Big Time. But an indictment would make my year.




Looks like by this time tomorrow this could officially be tied for the worst hurricane season on record, should Tropical Depression 24 become, as expected, Tropical Storm Wilma. It's expected to be Hurricane Wilma by Wednesday.

A Bolder Approach


Sunday, October 16, 2005
Fire Judy

So says Greg Mitchell. Frankly, she deserves to be for this alone:

But equally damning, from her own first-person account: Revealing her working methods, perhaps too clearly, Miller writes that at her second meeting with Libby on this matter, on July 8, 2003, he asked her to modify their prior understanding that she would attribute information from him to an unnamed "senior administration official." Now, in talking about Joseph Wilson (and his wife), he requested that he be identified only as a "former Hill staffer." This was obviously to deflect attention from the Cheney office's effort to hurt Wilson.

Surely Judy wouldn’t go along with this? Alas, Miller admits, "I agreed to the new ground rules because I knew that Mr. Libby had once worked on Capitol Hill."

That's like attributing something to George W. Bush as a "retired Air Force pilot." Come on, Judy. That's not even in the universe of standard journalistic practices. At best, it's a lie to protect a source. At worst, it's a fabrication meant to cover up a criminal conspiracy. My money's on the latter. I'm guessing Fitzgerald's is, too.

Either way, Miller should be fired. Immediately. The damage she's done to the Times makes the Jayson Blair affair look quaint.

Big Time

Tom Watson suggests that Miller and the Times article suggest strongly that Cheney is a target. It is beyond curious that Miller can't remember who it was who gave her the name she noted as "Valerie Flame." As Joe Gandelman says, "It's as conceivable for a journalist to be unable to recall who gave her/him/it a crucial piece of information on a huge story as it is for a fired or resigned journalist to forget pick up her/his/its severence pay — something Miller may soon have to do...."

Certainly, Fitzgerald seems to be angling for something. At this point, indictments of somebody seem assured; there's enough swirling around that conspiracy seems possible. At this point, the future legal problems of Scooter and Turd Blossom seem all but assured; Libby, especially, seems to be toast. The only question at this point: what will the charges be, and who else will be on the hook?

Bye, Jesse

Jesse Taylor is leaving Pandagon, the blog he founded, to go work as Director of Online Communications for Ohio gubernatorial candidate Ted Strickalnd. Strickland's gain is the blogosphere's loss, I suppose, but it's nice to see someone of obvious talent get rewarded. Good luck to Jesse. We shall watch your career with interest.

Saturday, October 15, 2005
When the Frogs Go Marching In

Looks like Rove's legal team is anticipating indictments in the next two weeks.

I'm not Catholic, but I may go light a candle anyhow.

Friday, October 14, 2005
Not Everybody Does It, But Everybody Should

Of all the anecdotes coming out of Fellategate '05, my favorite is the assertion by an unnamed Viking who said that the law couldn't touch them because Lake Minnetonka was international waters. You really can't top that.

As I noted the other day, I'm fairly libertarian in my beliefs. I'm an absolute believer in the idea that what happens between consenting adults in private is nobody's business but theirs. I'm even in favor of legalizing prostitution, because it would help get the 14-year-old junkies out of the business.

But when you hire out-of-state strippers to come to your party and perform more services than just stripping, you are breaking the law. And when you do so on a rented boat, and allegedly solicit the boat's crew, you're breaking the first principle of liberarianism--your rights end where your fist hits my nose, or where your sex acts take place on my boat.

More than that, though--when you engage in lewd acts in public, you forfeit your right to privacy. The judgement that might be withheld if you did things in your home will come out when you do so on a private boat that is not yours. And let's be frank--the allegations don't comport with most people's ideas of proper behavior, or the way that women should be treated.

Not all Vikings went to this party; not all who did are guilty of anything. The investigation should go forth. But if the allegations are correct, there's no question that the guilty should be punished. This is not acceptable public behavior.


Okay, nothing really surprises me anymore, but hey, it's good to know the Bushies can no longer adequately stage a photo op. After all, that was the one thing they could actually do. If they can't even stage a fake photo op, then they really are adrift.

Oh, and Atrios is right; this might just be the dumbest thing Bush has ever said:

I wish I could be there to see you face to face and thank you personally. Probably a little early for me to go to Tikrit. Perhaps one of these days the situation will be such that I'll be able to get back to Iraq.

Remember that one next time Glenn starts rambling on about schools.

Friday Random Ten
He Is Our Hero

1. "Rocketman," Elton John
2. "Gone Daddy Gone," Violent Femmes
3. "Elevation," U2
4. "Endless War," Son Volt
5. "Battle of Who Could Care Less," Ben Folds Five
6. "Texarkana," REM
7. "Spider," They Might Be Giants
8. "Bastard," Ben Folds
9. "Thank God I'm a Country Boy," John Denver
10. "Spy (New Live Version)," They Might Be Giants

Thursday, October 13, 2005
If Only 'Twere So

The Onion: Bush To Appoint Someone To Be In Charge Of Country. Of course, he'd just appoint Brownie.


That's Bush's approval rating among African Americans. Overall, it's a robust 39%.

He's the coolest lame duck in history, though.

Nothing to See Here

Bill Frist receives a subpoena from the SEC. But who hasn't, right?

Discrimination, Pure and Simple

If you read an article about a coach who assured a parent, "You can rest assured that there will be no black individuals on my basketball team," you'd expect him or her to be ridden out of town on a rail. You'd expect the college that employed them to fire them before the ink was dry. You'd expect outrage and fury. And you'd be right.

This is no different:

She hadn’t even started high school yet, but Jennifer Harris decided back in 1999 that she wanted to play basketball at Pennsylvania State University. Her mother had gone to Penn State, her older sister had gone to Penn State, and she would too. Now, she’s left the university, as have other players, because they maintain the coach is against lesbians — and people assumed to be lesbians.

But looking back on her first conversation that year with Penn State women’s basketball coach, Rene Portland, Pearl Harris, Jennifer’s mother, recalls a passing comment by Portland that she took little note of at the time, but which she now sees as a sign of events that culminated in her daughter leaving Penn State last spring, toward the end of her sophomore year.

“She said I could rest assured that there were no gay individuals on her basketball team,” Pearl Harris recalled. At the time, Jennifer was also considering another university, and Portland told her that the coach at the other institution recruited lesbians – a scare tactic that may not be uncommon.

It may not be uncommon, but it is reprehensible. I've noted before that my sister played soccer for Kansas. Some of her teammates were lesbians. It didn't affect team team cohesion whatsoever--and aside from noting that a particular player was gay if it came up, my sister never appeared to care.

It seems to me that's the way 90% of people would react. And the other 10% needs to grow up and realize that there are gay players--male and female--in every league in America.

Incidentally, this isn't the first time Portland has made anti-gay comments:

Portland is known as a top women’s basketball coach. She’s also known for her anti-gay comments, which go back much further than Harris. In the late 1980s and up until 1991, Portland acknowledged in newspaper articles that she did not want lesbians on her team. A profile of Portland in 1991 by The Philadelphia Inquirer prompted Penn State to expand its anti-discrimination policy to cover sexual orientation. After that, Portland, the two-time Women’s Basketball Coaches Association coach of the year, said she would abide by the policy.

If there's any truth to this at all--and given that three players quit, I'd say there is--then Portland should be fired. Now.

Jesus is the Reason for the Profession

John Cole is dead right. Bush has crossed the line by flatly stating that Harriet Miers' religion is the reason he appointed her:

[A]n attempt was made to portray those who opposed Bush’s nominees as having a religious qualification test. It was an outright lie, it was offensive, and as I remarked earlier it was as if they were saying “If you don’t share our politics, you hate the baby Jesus. If you don’t share our politics, you hate religious people.”

Republicans waxed eloquent about the establishment cause, about how people could serve on the court and not have their religious beliefs interfere with their judgement, about how Democrats and other were against people of faith, and so on. I didn’t buy it then, and felt that it was simply an attempt to bully nominees through by using religion as a blunt instrument against political opposition.

But, oh, how the times have changed these past few months. It turns out that now, in fact, religion IS a partial qualification and that the religious views of a candidate are a material aspect of their fitness to serve. After all, as Bush himself has stated, “Part of Harriet Miers’ life is her religion.”

Cole closes with a warning--and something Democrats should be cognizant of:

And if anyone is pissed at this latest bit of nonsense, it should be the evangelical base. After this, they can have Justice Sunday every god damned Sunday for the rest of their lives, and they can’t say a damned thing if Democrats ask whether a person’s religious beliefs may unduly influence their judgement. When Joe Biden is up there talking at length about whether or not Harriet Miers can judge Roe fairly with her religious beliefs such an important part of her life, before James Dobson’s head explodes, he best remember who is to blame- Bush and the White House.

After all- if a person’s religious beliefs are enough of a reason to confirm someone- shouldn’t it reason that those same religious beliefs could be used to deny confirmation?

Of course, religion should be neither a qualification nor a barrier to a political appointment. But if Bush wants to make it a qualification, it is certainly fair to ask what that religious belief entails, and how it squares with the role of a Supreme Court justice.

P.S. No More Public Scatology

The Harriet and George Letters, in all their adolescent crapulence.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005
Judy Had a Second Source

Ooh, tingly. Who was it?

And as Jane says, obviously Judy was lying her tail off when she said this was just about Scooter.

Purple Pride!

I was born in northwestern Illinois, in a smallish town called Freeport. Though I moved up to Minnesota at age five, I was a fan of Chicago sports for several years thereafter. I've never given up on the Cubs, but sometime in the mid-to-late eighties, without really being aware of it, I stopped being a Bears fan and started to love the Vikings.

There have been many times since that I've wondered whether I made the right decision. Today is one of them:

The Hennepin County Sheriff's department is investigating allegations of criminal sexual conduct by Vikings players after a boat cruise on Lake Minnetonka devolved into an out-of-control party including lap dances and sexual acts, according to an attorney for the charter boat company.

Stephen Doyle, a lawyer representing the owners of Al and Alma's, a company that charters cruises on the lake, said cornerback Fred Smoot and another Vikings player, whom he declined to name, reserved two boats for a night-time excursion last Thursday.

A woman called Mound police Thursday night to report allegations of "possible prostitution, drugs and live sex acts" on the two boats.

Ah, all class, that Vikings organization. According to cleversponge, when the boats turned around, one player asked, "Are the girls going to switch boats now?" Ah, variety, the spice of life.

Look, I'm far from a puritan. What adults do in private is none of my business. It's not news that pro athletes like sex, and it's not news that there are women who like sex with pro athletes. If everyone involved was an adult, then it's their decision.

But there's a place for orgiastic behavior, and that place is in private. Obviously there's an investigation, innocent until guilty, yada yada.

But the Vikings have been dysfunctional since a drunken Keith Millard told an arresting officer, "My arms are stronger than your bullets." From Todd Bouman possibly molesting a woman at Vikings Arctic Blast to Tommy Kramer drunk on Chicago radio to Mike Tice scalping tickets to Randy Moss being Randy Moss, the Vikings have made antisocial behavior a hallmark of the team.

This season was depressing enough so far on the field. With what's happening off the field, it's going to just get worse. At least Tice should get fired at season's end. I guess there's a bright side.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005
Vince Makes History

This completely abnormal hurricane season continues to be abnormal. Tropical Storm Vince (which peaked as a weak Hurricane) made landfall in Spain--the first time a tropical cyclone system has ever been recorded making landfall on the Iberian peninsula. Indeed, only once before has a tropical cyclone even hit Europe.

Oh, yes: Vince. Yes, there is only one name left for storms. After Wilma forms, we will be into the Greek alphabet, and this will officially be the worst hurricane season on record.

Too Good To Check

Oh, please:

The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg are working on stories that point to Vice President Dick Cheney as the target of special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation into the leaking of CIA operative Valerie Plame's name.

Oh, please. This would be the best Christmas present ever....

UPDATE: Also, WTF? Is Karl Rove dead? Or does the Times know something?

Always Toughest on the Kids

It appears Dick and George may be splitsville.

1:16 PM

Nobel Prize v. Some Guy With A Website.

But You are So Strong and, Well, Just So Super Fantastic

Well, you've gotta say this for Harriet Miers: she sure knows the definition of sycophant:

"You are the best governor ever - deserving of great respect," Harriet E. Miers wrote to George W. Bush days after his 51st birthday in July 1997. She also found him "cool," said he and his wife, Laura, were "the greatest!" and told him: "Keep up the great work. Texas is blessed."

Rumors that she praised Bush for making the sun rise each day and making ice cream tasty have not been confirmed.

Criminalizing Politics

Duncan Black says that this is the upcoming weekend meme from the right.

Now, claiming that anyone is "criminalizing politics" is laughable. The use of scandal and the criminal justice system against one's opponents dates back to ancient Greece; just in the past four decades we've had the Plame affair, Whitewater and all its sundry offshoots, the Savings and Loan scandal, Iran-Contra, and Watergate--and those are just scandals that affected the White House directly. Indeed, since Nixon, only Ford and Carter have had administrations untouched by some scandal or another. Criminalizing politics is something both parties do enthusiastically.

Of course, right now it's the right complaining about it now because they're in power, and they're the target. But anyone with a memory that spans the past ten years will remember the disaster of Monicagate, where the GOP (led, ironically, by Tom DeLay) thought that possible perjury in a civil trial was worth impeaching a president for only the second time in American history. That was certainly "criminalizing politics" by any rational standard.

The truth is that both parties have pursued criminal action against their opponents, but conversely, both parties have from time to time been guilty of criminal activity. Dan Rostenkowski was guilty as sin. So was Richard Nixon. Both deserved to go down; Nixon deserved more punishment than he got. The truth is that "criminalizing politics" happens when politicians forget that the laws they write apply to themselves.

The Charles Manson Defense

My ex-wife is often infuriatingly right.

One of the traits I had (and still, lamentably, have) that drove her moderately insane was my tendency to answer a charge by noting I had not committed a far more grievous act. For example, the charge might be, "Why didn't you take out the garbage like you said you would?" to which my response could be, "Well, at least I didn't let garbage pile up for years like that one guy on that junk house on television."

Which was true, of course, but sort of beside the point.

This became known as the "Charles Manson Defense"--yeah, I may have done something bad, but I hadn't actually engaged in ritual murder, so hey, I was better than Charles Manson.

I bring this up because I've noticed an instance of creeping Charles Manson Defensism that shouldn't escape notice. It starts with this post from Jill at Feministe, detailing the plight of a Saudi soap star whose husband tried to kill her by smashing her face in with a brick. She spoke out, amazingly, and got justice--her husband will have to spend three whole months in jail.

It's a horriffic story, and highlights the horrors that too many women in too many parts of the world experience; I thank God daily that my daughter wasn't born in Saudi Arabia.

Jill closes with a thought:

It’s too easy to read a story like this and respond, “Wow, they sure are backwards over there in Saudi Arabia,” thus exoticising domestic crimes and excusing yourself (ourselves) from any ownership over this society, which also tacitly excuses violence against women. Yes, women in the United States have far more resources than Saudi women when trying to escape abusive situations, and the cult of silence around such violence has had holes poked in it here. For that, we can all thank feminism. But to claim that the cultural ills which promote and allow intimate partner violence exist there and not here is delusional to the point of being dangerous.

Seems reasonable enough. After all, one need look no further than Dear Abby to see examples of women being abused and degraded by men who should be protecting them. So Jill's comments may push a strident button or two, but they're not wrong.

Ah, but Jill failed to remember the Charles Manson Defense:

Is America perfect? Yes, compared to the land of Saud, we are. You do a disservice to the battle against violence of women by even noting our problems in the same post as Saudi Arabia. America bashing is always fun, I’m sure, but it makes us take the problems of Saudi Arabia much less seriously when you draw a moral equivalence between what happens here and what happens there. It’s actually a classic liberal problem, to be unable to criticize anything without first criticizing America. It makes people tune you out and not to take you seriously and whatever point you were trying to make becomes muddled or irrelevant under that equivalence.

Ah, yes. Women have civil rights in America, and we're starting (within the last generation or so) to take domestic violence seriously, and within the next generation we might even start taking date rape seriously, so...we're better than Saudi Arabia!

Woo-hoo. Party like it's 1649.

Of course women in America have it better than women in Saudi Arabia. As my ex would say, that's not the point. The point is that women in America still have to suffer indignities that men in this country do not--and that is unacceptable. Period.

Let's close with a topical analogy: In Pakistan, an earthquake has just killed at least 30,000 people. Meanwhile, in the Gulf Coast, it appears that Hurricane Katrina only killed 1500.

Obviously, the building codes in Pakistan are not up to snuff, and compared to that the construction of the levees in New Orleans was "perfect."

So shut up, you whiners. You've got it better than people in a third-world country. Hey, isn't that the American Dream--to be better than Pakistan?

UPDATE: As for Blame-America-Firstism, Dave notes that Jill blamed America second.

Monday, October 10, 2005
Looking for Work?

Via Flash, here's a good service, provided you're capable of claiming George W. Bush is the most brilliant man in the history of the universe with a straight face.


Via Tom, just--uh--well--

Conservatives of all stripes dominated the Sunday talk shows. And while, nothing groundbreaking was suggested on any of the shows, this one quote from Robertson, according to a transcript of CNN's "Late Edition," was surely startling to us when we read it:

"The elimination of Roe v. Wade won't stop abortion. Abortion's a private decision. But I just think it shouldn't be federalized."

Yep. Pat Robertson. On the record. Abortion's a private decision.

No, I have no idea what to make of this. I'm waiting for the universe to implode. Anything's possible now--up is down, black is white, the Red Sox have won a world series, and Pat Robertson is at least somewhat pro-choice.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Frank Rich tells us why the right hates Miers:

To understand why the right is rebelling against Harriet Miers, don't waste time boning up on her glory days with the Texas Lottery Commission. The real story in this dust-up is not the Supreme Court candidate, but the man who picked her. The Miers nomination, whatever its fate, will be remembered as the flashpoint when the faith-based Bush base finally started to lose faith in our propaganda president and join the apostate American majority.

Exactly. What Miers has finally proven is that the right doesn't trust Bush any more than the left. After all, Bush's entire selling point on Miers thus far has been "trust me." Now, that's not going to work with me, but you would expect that to work with the right. They've been claiming that the left is just out to get poor, misunderstood George for five years now.

But the truth is, they don't believe him any more than I do. They've pretended to, of course--they dutifully have found evidence of WMDs in every jug of bleach in Iraq, they patiently have claimed that Bush's tax cuts won't explode the defecit, they calmly attacked the left for daring to suggest that Bush's credibility was somewhere south of Johnny Finagle's.

But the right has been engaging in that most dangerous of lies--self-deceit. Because a lying, incompetent leader is not what a party wants, they chose to tell themselves that Bush was strong, just, honest.

But now, the moment of truth has come. They now have been asked to accept faith-based leadership on an issue dear to their hearts. And they have no choice but to ask themselves: can we trust this guy?

Any sane person knows the answer is no. And unfortunately for the president, there are actually sane conservatives out there. Bush has managed to convince his few true believers that he is, in fact, the liar most of us know him to be.

Saturday, October 08, 2005
H5N1 Reaches Bird Population in Europe

This is not good. The more widely this virus is spread, the better the chance it mutates into a human-to-human transmittable version.

18,000 Dead in Pakistan Quake

This is just awful.

Rah, Rah, Rah, for Ski U Mah!

For the first time since I was twelve, the Minnesota Golden Gophers have won the Little Brown Jug, the oldest trophy in Division I-A football, dating back to 1903, which I believe Michigan has won 342 times in the last hundred years.

For Gopher football fans--especially those of us who saw the incredible meltdown against Michigan in 2003 (possibly the worst ending to a game I've ever attended), it was nice vindication to finally see the Gophers hoist the jug.

Here's hoping they hoist it again before 2024.

Friday, October 07, 2005
He Screamed in the Night Air Like a Fireman Going to a Window That Has No Fire

Ah, Harriet. You're unloved. The right hates you, the left doesn't know what to make of you. The only one who loves you is the most brilliantest man in the world, who is currently only slightly more popular than pond scum.

Oh, and your defenders come up with incredibly stupid theories of why you'll be confirmed:

"Conservatives love a fight with liberals," the strategist said. "And one of the things liberals are scared to death of is organized religion. And Harriet Miers is a born-again Christian. When liberal groups and others begin to read about her affirming the Texas sodomy law, contributing to pro-life groups and her religious faith, they're going to go crazy. It's already happening now."

It is? Really? Because frankly, right now the only people going crazy are the conservatives. The liberals are keeping their powder dry, or cautiously endorsing you. Not that they like you. But they think you're better than the alternatives, and besides, "stealth" candidates like you tend to end up as liberals. No, they do--look at Souter. Look at Kennedy. Look at O'Connor, for cripes' sake, or Burger, or Warren.

As for me, Harriet, I'm just not sure what to think. One minute I read that you're a biblical literalist, the next I'm reading that you sponsored a feminist lecture series. Are you pro-gay and anti-Roe? Pro-death penalty and anti-gun? O Harriet, why canst thou not be constant?

In the end, Harriet, this moderate liberal thinks he supports you. Oh, you're not the most qualified for the post--indeed, your appointment brings to mind such luminaries as Brownie himself--but you're a cipher of a crony, and even if you're a crazy firebreathing lunatic, your lack of Constitutional law experience means that you may add a vote on the right, but not much ideological heft. In short, you will end up being a justice not in the mold of Scalia, but perhaps in the mold of Thomas.

Good enough for me, Harriet. Frankly, it's as good as we on the left could hope for.