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229 posts from October 2005

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Rosa Parks Dead At 92


Pictured: Rosa Parks being booked.

There's not much to say about Rosa Parks that hasn't already been said.  Many admire her for being the catalyst for an idealistic, peaceful movement for racial equality. But we like her because she was pissed, and simply said "Enough is enough".  It was a small gesture -- one that has been repeated again and again since then.  Her name is synonymous with anyone who takes a stand against the injustices of their time and place (see, e.g., "the Rosa Parks of the anti-war movement", the Rosa Parks of Pakistan", the Rosa Parks of the Jewish deaf world", the Rosa Parks of housing", etc.).  Truly, an icon.


Reuters obit

Wikipedia entry

P.S.  I assume that I heard this news over the radio while I slept, because I dreamt last night that she died and I was the funeral director.

Plamegate Spotlight On Cheney

The New York Times doesn't quite come out and directly implicate Cheney, but if this is true, it certainly hurts Cheney politically.

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.

Lawyers involved in the case, who described the notes to The New York Times, said they showed that Mr. Cheney knew that Ms. Wilson worked at the C.I.A. more than a month before her identity was made public and her undercover status was disclosed in a syndicated column by Robert D. Novak on July 14, 2003.

Mr. Libby's notes indicate that Mr. Cheney had gotten his information about Ms. Wilson from George J. Tenet, the director of central intelligence, in response to questions from the vice president about Mr. Wilson. But they contain no suggestion that either Mr. Cheney or Mr. Libby knew at the time of Ms. Wilson's undercover status or that her identity was classified. Disclosing a covert agent's identity can be a crime, but only if the person who discloses it knows the agent's undercover status.

It would not be illegal for either Mr. Cheney or Mr. Libby, both of whom are presumably cleared to know the government's deepest secrets, to discuss a C.I.A. officer or her link to a critic of the administration.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Musical About Primordial Goo

Primordialsoup Well, why not?

Greg Kotis and Mark Hollmann's Yeast Nation, a new comic musical about single-celled yeast organisms and their struggles in the timeline of Earth's evolution, was heard in a private industry reading in New York City Oct. 21.

The Tony Award-winning writers are known for their satiric Broadway musical, Urinetown. The starry Manhattan Theatre Club presentation of Yeast Nation included contributions by two of the earlier show's stars (Hunter Foster and Nancy Opel) as well as its director, John Rando.

In 2002, Kotis won a Tony Award for his book to Urinetown and Hollmann and Kotis shared a Best Score Tony for the show (Hollmann is the composer and co-lyricist, Kotis is the co-lyricist). John Rando won a Best Direction Tony for Urinetown.

The ensemble-oriented Yeast Nation is about a kingdom of one-celled yeast blobs (all of them named Jan - pronounced "yon") and how they reach for a new food source in the process of evolution. Within the community is a pair of daffy lovers, a leader, a villain, and more.

Bush: "The Buck Stops Everywhere But Here"

Looks like the Bubble Boy is mad at the bubble.  The Daily News writes about Bush's edge-of-meltdown demeanor:

Facing the darkest days of his presidency, President Bush is frustrated, sometimes angry and even bitter, his associates say.

With a seemingly uncontrollable insurgency in Iraq, the White House is bracing for the political fallout from a grim milestone that could come any day: the combat death of the 2,000th American G.I.

Last week alone, 23 military personnel were killed in Iraq, and five were wounded yesterday in a relentless series of attacks across the country.

This week could also bring a special prosecutor's decision that could shake the foundations of the Bush government.

The President's top political guru, Karl Rove, and Vice President Cheney's right-hand man, Lewis (Scooter) Libby, are at the center of a two-year criminal probe into the leak of a CIA agent's identity. Many Bush staffers believe indictments are likely.

"He's like the lion in winter," observed a political friend of Bush. "He's frustrated. He remains quite confident in the decisions he has made. But this is a guy who wanted to do big things in a second term. Given his nature, there's no way he'd be happy about the way things have gone."

Bush usually reserves his celebrated temper for senior aides because he knows they can take it. Lately, however, some junior staffers have also faced the boss' wrath.

"This is not some manager at McDonald's chewing out the help," said a source with close ties to the White House when told about these outbursts. "This is the President of the United States, and it's not a pleasant sight."


"The President is just unhappy in general and casting blame all about," said one Bush insider. "Andy [Card, the chief of staff] gets his share. Karl gets his share. Even Cheney gets his share. And the press gets a big share."

The vice president remains Bush's most trusted political confidant. Even so, the Daily News has learned Bush has told associates Cheney was overly involved in intelligence issues in the runup to the Iraq war that have been seized on by Bush critics.

Bush is so dismayed that "the only person escaping blame is the President himself," said a sympathetic official, who delicately termed such self-exoneration "illogical."

I wouldn't call it "illogical"; more like "denial".

Iraq Full Of Ingrates

With the U.S. death toll approaching 2,000, let's take a brief sstop to see exactly how Iraqis feel about their liberation.  From Britain’s Sunday Telegram:

Millions of Iraqis believe that suicide attacks against British troops are justified, a secret military poll commissioned by senior officers has revealed.

The poll, undertaken for the Ministry of Defence and seen by The Sunday Telegraph, shows that up to 65 per cent of Iraqi citizens support attacks and fewer than one per cent think Allied military involvement is helping to improve security in their country.

It demonstrates for the first time the true strength of anti-Western feeling in Iraq after more than two and a half years of bloody occupation.

The nationwide survey also suggests that the coalition has lost the battle to win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people, which Tony Blair and George W Bush believed was fundamental to creating a safe and secure country.

That's pretty bad.  Here's more:

The survey was conducted by an Iraqi university research team that, for security reasons, was not told the data it compiled would be used by coalition forces. It reveals:

• Forty-five per cent of Iraqis believe attacks against British and American troops are justified - rising to 65 per cent in the British-controlled Maysan province;

82 per cent are “strongly opposed” to the presence of coalition troops;

• less than one per cent of the population believes coalition forces are responsible for any improvement in security;

67 per cent of Iraqis feel less secure because of the occupation;

• 43 per cent of Iraqis believe conditions for peace and stability have worsened;

72 per cent do not have confidence in the multi-national forces.

The opinion poll, carried out in August, also debunks claims by both the US and British governments that the general well-being of the average Iraqi is improving in post-Saddam Iraq.

Think we've overstayed our welcome yet?

Now I Know Why I People Don't Read My Blog More

From Harper's, via Atrios:

Number of erotic Harry Potter fan-fiction stories posted on a website run by an Illinois woman: 1,750

Average number of hits the site receives each day: 198,000

Frist Is A Lying Bastard

You know how Frist was saying that he was never aware of his stock holdings, so he can't be held responsible for the tremendous profit he made on their sale based on what would generally be acknowledged as insider information? 

Well, it turns out that, in the reality world, Frist was . . . uh . . . you know . . . aware of his stock holdings.

Fitzmas, Fitzmas Time Is Here

RonK at Next Hurrah has some thoughts about Fitzmas, scheduled (most say) to arrive this week:

The goose is cooked, the ox is gored, the chickens are coming home to roost. The kiddies are giddy with visions of sugarplums, marching frogs, TV specials, seasonal trappings and wrappings piled so deep you can't find the dog in the living room.

Fitzmas is coming -- all holidays rolled into one! The extravagance of Mardi Gras plus Thanksgiving plus Boxing Day plus Purim plus Halloween ... the weightier meditations and rededications of 4th of July, Yom Kippur, New Year's Eve, Good Friday, Memorial Day and Pesach (not to mention St. Swithin's and Groundhog's Days, with their traditional over-reading of omens).

Most of us celebrate the shallow Fitzmas, a fireworks-and-mincemeat festival of over-indulgence. Sweet revenge, fat targets, overcooked intelligence. Eat, drink and be merry, tomorrow we diet.

But I beg your indulgence for a note of perspective, a look at the deeper meanings of Fitzmas. Sure, the Big Day looms big ... until you look at the monumental developments that surround it. Fitzmas is not the beginning nor the end, just one spike in a sawtooth chain of events that lashed back and wrapped around the ankles of reckless vandals who came to DC to tear the town a new one. (They'll wish they'd stuck with ordinary hatchets.)

For starters, balance your expectations. Anticipation can bring disappointment, especially if you write too much detail into your Fitzmas Wish List.

  • You don't know who Fitzgerald will indict. I don't know. He may not know ... yet. A target-rich environment means immense discretion, not just in intensity (what to charge, to what degree, for what penalty) but tactical and even stylistic. Who will he turn against whom, and in what sequence? Public ambush, or slow, crushing constriction? Let them plead out and leave in disgrace, or lay out the whole record in formal court?
  • First-round indictments will not be the last. Fitzmas is the first scouring breach of a system of levees that protected a regime sunk below ethical sea level. The first break leads to more breaks in quick succession, followed by slow, desperate struggles for survival ... and for status among the ruins.
  • Things take time. The first trophy kills strike fear into the unindicted, who become more malleable. Rats eagerly spill their guts, taking the story in unexpected directions. Whole new scandals may surface. Defensive facades will crumble as reliable retainers desert their posts, and a new generation of prosecutors, journalists and politicians gets the hang of the enterprise.
  • Remember, too, the Joys of Fitzmas could be followed by the agonies of a Saturday Night Massacre or a Parade of Presidential Pardons.

Again, balance. Let's not obsess on the Plame outing. They nailed Al Capone for tax evasion, but there are bigger crimes afoot. Burning a CIA NOC is only the tip of just one iceberg in a sea of troubles. America has been done real and enduring harm, on monumental scale, and the Plame Affair is a flyspeck in a shitstorm.

Fair enough.

White House Goes After The Onion

Truth is funnier than satire sometimes:

You might have thought that the White House had enough on its plate late last month, what with its search for a new Supreme Court nominee, the continuing war in Iraq and the C.I.A. leak investigation. But it found time to add another item to its agenda - stopping The Onion, the satirical newspaper, from using the presidential seal.

The newspaper regularly produces a parody of President Bush's weekly radio address on its Web site (, where it has a picture of President Bush and the official insignia.

"It has come to my attention that The Onion is using the presidential seal on its Web site," Grant M. Dixton, associate counsel to the president, wrote to The Onion on Sept. 28. (At the time, Mr. Dixton's office was also helping Mr. Bush find a Supreme Court nominee; days later his boss, Harriet E. Miers, was nominated.)

Citing the United States Code, Mr. Dixton wrote that the seal "is not to be used in connection with commercial ventures or products in any way that suggests presidential support or endorsement." Exceptions may be made, he noted, but The Onion had never applied for such an exception.

Seal1Mmmmm.  Maybe The Onion never sought an exception because nobody who reads The Onion could ever possibly think it was a commercial venture supported or endorsed by the President.


The Onion was amused. "I'm surprised the president deems it wise to spend taxpayer money for his lawyer to write letters to The Onion," Scott Dikkers, editor in chief, wrote to Mr. Dixton. He suggested the money be used instead for tax breaks for satirists.

Heh.  Even The Onion's lawyers are funny.

** Use of the Presidential Seal in this post does not represent an endorsement by the President of the views contained herein.  We just do it because it amuses us.  Seriously.  Plus, we're kind of hoping to get a letter from the Justice Department.

We Saw This Coming

I'm not sure who it was, but somebody expected that Republicans would downplay the possibility that members of the Bush Administration would be indicted for "only" perjury.  Yet, when it was Clinton, perjury was a terrible terrible thing.

Well, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson wins the award.  Via Think Progress, we learn what she said in February 1999:

[S]omething needs to be said that is a clear message that our rule of law is intact and the standards for perjury and obstruction of justice are not gray....  [O]ur system of criminal justice depends on people telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. That is the lynch pin of our criminal justice system and I don’t want it to be faded in any way.

But now, in light of the pending perjury indictments against members of the administration, perjury is reduced to a mere legal "technicality":

"...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."

Flip.  Flop.  IOKIYAR (It's Okay If You're A Republican...)

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Fun With Kaye

Time to see what one of our favorite wingnut columnists thinks about this whole Miers nomination thing.  So bring out Mrs. Kaye Grogan:

If President Bush picked Jesus Christ for the U.S. Supreme Court, the liberals would crucify him again.

You mean crucify Jesus again . . . right?  As opposed to, you know, Bush?  Because I don't think we liberals crucified Bush before, so I don't see how we could do it "again". 

Come to think of it, I don't think we liberals crucified Jesus either.  At least I didn't read about that at Daily Kos.

It is obvious no matter who the president selects to fill vacant spots on the high court there will be many who will insist they are not qualified, even if the nominees are overqualified. And since no one is perfect (except in their own eyes) the nay-sayers will press on intentionally trying to discredit everything and everybody associated with the Bush administration.

Unlike the conservatives who were so forgiving and supportive of Clinton, despite his flaws.

HA . . . as if they could do better!

That's telling 'em, Kaye!

The liberals want justices legislating from the bench, who will make their own laws favoring their way-out agenda, while the conservatives want justices who will interpret the laws correctly and rule accordingly.

"Accordingly" to what?

And betwixt the two — common ground will never be reached.

'Tis true.  Methinks Kaye has a point.

Not only do I find it appalling that Harriet Miers has been attacked by the anti-Christian folks — I take it as a personal attack on all Christians. The anti-Christian groups are "infringing" upon the rights of Christians to worship freely.

Well, the people attacking Miers include such "anti-Christians" such as Alan Keyes, for whom you write your syndicated column.

Be that as it may, how does attacking an unqualified judge infringe on your ability to worship freely?  I mean, if you are so inclined to worship Harriet Miers, criticism of her does not infringe your ability to do so.  Yes?

This is a "blatant" disregard of Amendment I of the "Bill of Rights" where it states that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.   

You heard it hear first, folks:   Criticizing Harriet Miers violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amemdment.  And why?  Because Kaye takes such attacks as a "personal attack on all Christians".

It is also up to congress to protect the religious rights of Americans — but the silence is deafening in the "halls of Congress" as they avoid confronting the abuse of Christians at the hands of the "godless" folks.

I hate deafening silence.  I "really" do.  It's so loud, I can "hardly" hear anything.  Well, except the wails and cries of the Christians that I am abusing.  They sure can scream in agony.

Let's "dissect" in laymen's terms what religious freedom means.

Yes, "let's".

(1) Congress cannot establish a mandatory religion and force it upon the citizens. (2) People of faith have a right to worship freely and openly without any restrictions. (3) It is up to the leaders to see that these inalienable rights are not infringed upon.

It also means that people of NON-faith are free not to have religion imposed upon them by the government.

I find it amusing that the anti-God folks are still using the feeble excuse to take "under God" out of the "Pledge of Allegiance" making the ridiculous argument that saying God in the pledge establishes a religion by the government.  Now, most of us know that these troublemakers know better, they are just trying to get rid of what they view as hindrances — so they can be bad little boys and girls.

Right.  Because those two words in the Pledge ("under God") are the only thing that keeps us troublemakers from being bad people.  We all know that prior to 1954 (the year that "under God" was inserted into the Pledge), the entire country was full of bad little boys and girls.  Including, our founding fathers.

If the little "fly on the wall" at the meeting of the Democrats could talk, it might say...

WTF did I just read?  The "meeting of Democrats"?  A "fly on the wall"?  A talking fly on the wall?  I sometimes wonder what, if anything, is between betwixt Kaye's ears.

If the little "fly on the wall" at the meeting of the Democrats could talk, it might say: "many of the Democrats are supporting Harriet Miers, because her nomination is sparking a belligerent attitude toward President Bush by many of the Republican conservatives, particularly the Christian Republicans. Besides, since when has the Democrats supported anything the Bush administration has proposed?"

Okay.  So let me get this straight. 

According to the talking fly, Christian Republicans are belligerant toward Bush/Miers, and many Democrats are supporting Miers.  Yet, mere paragraphs before, Kaye found it "appalling that Harriet Miers has been attacked by the anti-Christian folks". 

So Kaye/fly, I guess I'm confused.  Are you saying that Christian Republicans are anti-Christian?

Wise fly I would say — now if only it could actually talk.

You are free to worship the almighty talking fly, Kaye.  Unless we bad little liberal boys and girls change the Pledge.

No matter what President Bush does the anti-Bush activists are geared up in their determination to try and make him appear in a bad light.

Well, he is making our job easy.

In a memo to Condoleezza Rice where he jotted down that he may have to go to the bathroom during a meeting — a big deal was made about this. This is pathetic!

Ummmmm... weren't we talking about Harriet Miers?

And no matter what he did during the hurricane disasters — he was ridiculed.

Well, he didn't do anything during Katrina.  Or for a while thereafter either.  That's why he was ridiculed.

If he didn't jet down to New Orleans, every day he was thoughtless and ignoring the citizens, because many are black and poor.

No, he wasn't thoughtless and ignoring the citizens every day.  Not after it was pointed out to him.

If he went to New Orleans, he was just grandstanding for photo opts.

Or sometimes even photo ops.

This reminds me of a bad comedy routine orchestrated by the Democrats.

The Aristocrats?!?

Everything that President Bush says in his speeches, Senator (D) Dick Durbin is waiting to rant and rave about what he (intentionally) views as discrepancies or misleading untruths.

Just lurking there, that Durbin.  Always waiting for Bush to wrap up so he can (intentionally) point out where Bush was wrong.  Tch!

God help us if Durbin was in control of something as serious as the Iraqi invasion or anything else of a substantive nature.

Right.  Durbin would have screwed the whole Iraqi thing up.  Unlike Bush.

Evidently, Durbin is oblivious to how his rants are publicly bringing into question his ability to be effective in any type of leadership.


If his primary goal is to set himself up to run for president — he might consider retiring from the political arena instead.

Duly noted.

It is painstakingly obvious that the Democrats view abortion and other privacy rights much more important than the actual knowledge of the law a potential judicial nominee may possess.

Oh, I'm sorry.  Are we back to Miers now? 

Good grief . . . just give Harriet Miers an up or down vote — and be done with it!

Apparently, Kaye thinks there is a "filibuster" happening now (a "filibuster" being something Kaye read about a few months back).

And that's just my opinion!

Or an incongruous hodgepodge of opinions, as the case may be.  Thank you for sharing, Kaye!


I haven't joined the sudoku craze, but for those who have, did you know it is possible to play with pictures instead of numbers?


GaedeThis, from Pandagon, really hurts to read:

"We're proud of being white, we want to keep being white. We want our people to stay white … we don't want to just be, you know, a big muddle. We just want to preserve our race."

-- Thirteen-year-old Lynx Gaede, who, with her sister Lamb, are white nationalist singing group "Prussian Blue"

Oy, this is sad and sick. It makes you want to hurl:

The girls from Bakersfield, Calif., have been performing songs about white nationalism before all-white crowds since they were nine.

...Lynx and Lamb have been nurtured on racist beliefs since birth by their mother April. "They need to have the background to understand why certain things are happening," said April, a stay-at-home mom who no longer lives with the twins' father. "I'm going to give them, give them my opinion just like any, any parent would."

More to make you cringe...:

April home-schools the girls, teaching them her own unique perspective on everything from current to historical events. In addition, April's father surrounds the family with symbols of his beliefs — specifically the Nazi swastika. It appears on his belt buckle, on the side of his pick-up truck and he's even registered it as his cattle brand with the Bureau of Livestock Identification.

...Songs like "Sacrifice" — a tribute to Nazi Rudolf Hess, Hitler's deputy Fuhrer — clearly show the effect of the girls' upbringing. The lyrics praise Hess as a "man of peace who wouldn't give up."

Littwin To Testify!!

Earlier this month, I blogged a post entitled: "Who Is Larry Littwin And Why Should He Testify At The Miers Confirmation Hearings?"

I encourage you to read that link for the full story, but suffice it to say, Littwin is a guy who may have a lot of unpleasant dirt about The Texas Lottery Commission scandal and its relationship to certain cover-ups about Bush's military record cover-up.

Well, Josh Marshall is reporting that Littwin is going to testify at the Miers hearings.  Could be some major fireworks.

Unless, of course, the scuttlebutt is true that the White House will quietly withdraw Miers' name.

Mano a Mano 2.0?

Perhaps you once read about the time Dubya had a little scrape with his Dad:

There was at least one incident that his parents witnessed. When he was 26, he returned home inebriated one night to his parents' home in Washington – with his then-teenage brother Marvin in tow – and plowed his car into a neighbor's garbage can, dragging it down the street. When his father asked to see him, George W. challenged him to go "mano a mano" outside. The senior Bush promptly got his son a job at a social service program in Houston, helping underprivileged kids.

"My dad was not happy," recalled his sister, Dorothy Bush Koch, who witnessed the episode. "My dad did not think that was attractive or funny or nice."

Well, one wonders if Dubya and the senior Bush might come to blows again.  Looks like the latest issue of The New Yorker is going to focus on Brent Scowcroft (NSA Chief of the Bush 41 Administration) and his harsh criticisms of the present administration.  Ouch.

But there's more, according to this source.  The criticial article will also contain:

some incredibly juicy commentary from President George H.W. Bush on the performance of his son's national security team.

Ouch again.  Poor Daddy Bush may be taking little George to the woodshed.

Wingnuts At Powerline Discover "Thought"

Quote of the week:

As I've been suggesting, the fascinating thing about the Miers nomination is the way it forces politicians, pundits, and bloggers into uncharted territory, requiring them/us to think, whereas it's normally enough just to react.

Speak for yourself, pal.

But it's nice to see an actual admission that Powerline contributors don't think before they opine.

More Miers' Bad Answer

Mier's answer to the constitutional law question of her questionnaire is generating some press.  I blogged about it two days ago (Miers Doesn't Know Shit About Con Law).  My law school prof chimes in here:

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."

He would have, too.

On other Miers-related fronts, this is raising a few eyebrows:

Campaign records show Bush's Texas gubernatorial campaigns paid Miers a total of $163,000 in legal fees, most of it for work done during the future president's 1998 re-election bid.


Reports filed with the Texas Ethics Commission show that two payments of $70,000 were made to Miers' Locke, Purnell, Rain and Harrell firm in Dallas within a month of each other during the 1998 campaign. Another $16,000 in payments were made between March and December 1999.

The 1998 totals dwarfed the $7,000 Bush paid Miers' firm during his first run for governor in 1994, and are extremely large for campaign legal work in Texas, an expert said.

"I'm baffled," said Randall B. Wood, a partner in the Austin firm of Ray, Wood and Bonilla, and former director of Common Cause of Texas. "I've never seen that kind of money spent on a campaign lawyer. It's unprecedented."


Former Texas Land Commissioner Garry Mauro, a Democrat who was defeated handily by Bush in the 1998 campaign, said both the amount and the timing of the payments are curious. In late September, when Miers' firm received the first of two $70,000 payments, Mauro said he trailed Bush in the polls by 35 points.

"If they're spending that kind of money," said Mauro, now an Austin attorney who estimates he spent less than $20,000 on legal fees during the campaign, "they're spending it to protect themselves from something."

C'mon.  We all know what that "something" is.  Bush's past -- his military record, drug use, etc.  Let's not be obtuse about this.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Local Church Harrasses Pretty Lady For Getting Into Halloween Spirit

5129232_1 More butt-in-skys who think it is their calling to make everybody be like them:

ELLETTSVILLE, Ind. -- An Ellettsville family whose home is decorated for Halloween contacted police after someone placed on its porch a flier that suggests Halloween praises the devil.

Dalene Gully said she took offense to the flier, which was placed outside her home by the House of Prayer Church of Bloomington.

"I started reading it, and I was very, very upset by it. I found it very accusatory and very threatening," Gully told RTV6's Ben Morriston on Wednesday.

The church's pastor, Larry Mitchell, said the people who left the flier would have preferred to talk with Gully, but she wasn't there.


Mitchell said the church didn't intend to upset the Gully family, but rather tell people that Halloween isn't harmless fun.

"Halloween is not fantasy," Mitchell said. "We're training up our children, and obviously this lady was trained up in this. Halloween seems like it is taking just as much prominence as Christmas."

I wonder where one goes to get "trained up" on Halloween.

Alright. I Give Up.

I'm going to start using the phrase "Merry Fiztmas" too.

Things That Make You Go "Hmmmmm"

What do this newspaper editorial, this one, this one, and this one all have in common?

All of them are unsigned editorials, which makes it look like they're original opinion pieces for each paper. (The Colorado Gazette even says it's "our view.")

And they all happen to say exactly the same thing, beginning with this paragraph:

One of the smartest things President Bush did to reduce recovery costs in the aftermath of hurricanes Katrina and Rita was to suspend Davis-Bacon Act rules in the hardest hit states. But Congress is frantically trying to overrule the president, which would add billions of dollars to the already staggering recovery costs.

Amazing that newspapers from California, Colorado, and North Carolina could be channeling, simultaneously and in complete harmony, the Bush administration line for cutting wages for workers rebuilding the Gulf Coast.


The Only Worthwhile Debate On Intelligent Design

Too busy to blog, but I'll blogwhore a great post from The Abstract Factory entitled "The only debate on Intelligent Design that is worthy of its  subject":

Moderator: We're here today to debate the hot new topic, evolution versus Intelligent Des---

(Scientist pulls out baseball bat.)

Moderator: Hey, what are you doing?

(Scientist breaks Intelligent Design advocate's kneecap.)


Scientist: Perhaps it only appears that I broke your kneecap. Certainly, all the evidence points to the hypothesis I broke your kneecap. For example, your kneecap is broken; it appears to be a fresh wound; and I am holding a baseball bat, which is spattered with your blood. However, a mere preponderance of evidence doesn't mean anything. Perhaps your kneecap was designed that way. Certainly, there are some features of the current situation that are inexplicable according to the "naturalistic" explanation you have just advanced, such as the exact contours of the excruciating pain that you are experiencing right now.

Intelligent Design advocate: AAAAH! THE PAIN!

Scientist: Frankly, I personally find it completely implausible that the random actions of a scientist such as myself could cause pain of this particular kind. I have no precise explanation for why I find this hypothesis implausible --- it just is. Your knee must have been designed that way!

Intelligent Design advocate: YOU BASTARD! YOU KNOW YOU DID IT!

Scientist: I surely do not. How can we know anything for certain? Frankly, I think we should expose people to all points of view. Furthermore, you should really re-examine whether your hypothesis is scientific at all: the breaking of your kneecap happened in the past, so we can't rewind and run it over again, like a laboratory experiment. Even if we could, it wouldn't prove that I broke your kneecap the previous time. Plus, let's not even get into the fact that the entire universe might have just popped into existence right before I said this sentence, with all the evidence of my alleged kneecap-breaking already pre-formed.

Intelligent Design advocate: That's a load of bullshit sophistry! Get me a doctor and a lawyer, not necessarily in that order, and we'll see how that plays in court!

Scientist (turning to audience): And so we see, ladies and gentlemen, when push comes to shove, advocates of Intelligent Design do not actually believe any of the arguments that they profess to believe. When it comes to matters that hit home, they prefer evidence, the scientific method, testable hypotheses, and naturalistic explanations. In fact, they strongly privilege naturalistic explanations over supernatural hocus-pocus or metaphysical wankery. It is only within the reality-distortion field of their ideological crusade that they give credence to the flimsy, ridiculous arguments which we so commonly see on display. I must confess, it kind of felt good, for once, to be the one spouting free-form bullshit; it's so terribly easy and relaxing, compared to marshaling rigorous arguments backed up by empirical evidence. But I fear that if I were to continue, then it would be habit-forming, and bad for my soul. Therefore, I bid you adieu.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

"I'll Never Fall For Bush Aga-ai-ai-ain"

You know we live in strange times when anti-war songs are being penned by . . . Burt Bacharach.  On his new album, in which he writes lyrics (as opposed to just music) for the first time:

the most stridently political number, "Who Are These People?" [is] sung by Elvis Costello.

That song, expressing disillusionment with the war in Iraq, forcefully asks, "Who are these people that keep telling us lies and how did these people get control of our lives and who'll stop the violence 'cause it's out of control? Make 'em stop."

"Stuff just kept going more wrong and more wrong here as I was writing," explained Bacharach, still looking youthful in a blue sweat suit accentuating his bright blue eyes.

Brown Dined While People Died

I thought Katrina-related Michael Brown stories were soooo September 2005, but I was wrong.  The amount of indifference and incompetence is scary:

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

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

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

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

Oh my God.

Congress Hearts Guns, Cheeseburgers

Why do free market conservatives hate the free market?

Look, I understand that consumers have responsibilities.  If you smoke, and get cancer, you really have nobody to blame but yourself.  You knew the risks, and you took them.

The same is true for fast foods.

I think Americans of all political stripes understand that.  So if you want to sue McDonald's for "making you fat", your case will get thrown out of court, because you are an idiot trying to make money off of your stupidity about basic health care. 

In other words, the legal system will work.

So why does the Republican Congress have to step in and pass laws which shield the fast food industry and the gun manufacturers from lawsuits?  Why not let the free market play itself out?

The answer, of course, is that the lobbyists for those industries donate heavily in political campaigns, whereas there are no deep pockets in fat people and people with bullets in them.  It's shameful.  Congress is elected by people and is supposed to protect the interests of people.  Not legal fictions like multi-billion dollar corporations.

It's 1973 All Over Again

"[I]t is true that, as far as capacity to govern in concerned, that to be under a constant barrage 12 to 15 minutes a night on each of the three major networks for four months tends to raise some questions in the people's mind with regard to the President and it may raise some questions with regard to the capacity to govern. The point that I make now is that we are proceeding as best we know how to get all those guilty brought to justice in Watergate. But now, we must move on from Watergate to the business of the people. And the business of the people is continuing with the initiatives we began in the first Administration."

- Richard Nixon during press conference, Summer 1973, in response to a question about his ability to govern in the midst of controversy about his administration

"There is some background noise here, a lot of chatter, a lot of speculation and opining, but the American people expect me to do my job and I'm going to."

- George Bush during press conference, today, in response to a question about his ability to govern in the midst of controversy about his administration

Miers Doesn't Know Shit About Con Law

I browsed through the Harriet Miers questionnaire submitted to Congress yesterday evening, pausing only to read matters that were interesting.

I spotted this question:

17. Constitutional Issues: Please describe in detail any cases or matters you addressed as an attorney or public official which involved constitutional questions. For each case or matter, please describe in detail the constitutional issue you dealt with, the context in which you dealt with it, and the substance of any positions you took related to that issue.

And here was part of her answer:

While I was an at-large member of the Dallas City Council, I dealt with issues that involved constitutional questions. For instance, when addressing a lawsuit under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, the council had to be sure to comply with the proportional representation requirement of the Equal Protection Clause.

Now, many of you are going to have to trust me on this: there is no proportional representation requirement in the Equal Protection Clause!  Furthermore, no court has ever required a proportional representation requirement pursuant to the EP Clause.

"Proportional representation" is a concept that says that elected officials must be comprised of the same features as their constituents.  For example, a 10-member city council with proportional representation -- in a city which is 20% Hispanic -- would have 2 Hispanic seats.   Virtuous as that my or may not be, the Constitution simply does not require this.

So what the hell was Miers talking about?

UPDATEThis explains it, I guess:

Meanwhile, several constitutional law scholars said they were surprised and puzzled by Miers's response to the committee's request for information on cases she has handled dealing with constitutional issues. In describing one matter on the Dallas City Council, Miers referred to "the proportional representation requirement of the Equal Protection Clause" as it relates to the Voting Rights Act.

"There is no proportional representation requirement in the Equal Protection Clause," said Cass R. Sunstein, a constitutional law professor at the University of Chicago. He and several other scholars said it appeared that Miers was confusing proportional representation -- which typically deals with ethnic groups having members on elected bodies -- with the one-man, one-vote Supreme Court ruling that requires, for example, legislative districts to have equal populations.

Still, confusing these two concepts is the type of mistake that a law student might make, and not a very good law student at that.  It speaks volumes about Miers' lack of qualifications.

UPDATE: Conservative top-tier groupblogger Leon H of RedState enters the fray with an "Aaaaaaarrrrrgh!":

I know that I've promised to stay out of this fray, but this is really a bit much. Leaving aside the question of whether mandatory representation by ethnicity (read: quotas) is a good idea, or a conservative idea, or the hallmark of a conservative judge - to claim in a written response that it is mandated by the Equal Protection Clause is just... just... well, as [constitutional law professor] Patterico says, it's stunningly wrong.

I Think I Saw This Scene

ShelleyposeidonShelley Winters Suffers A Heart Attack

No, I'm not trying to make light.  I like Shelley Winters.

To show you want a classy broad she is, she donated her Oscar (for "The Diary Of Anne Frank") to the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam.

You go, girl.

Here's hoping she's okay.

Manipulated Intelligence

Color me unsurprised:

The lengthy account by New York Times reporter Judy Miller about her grand jury testimony in the CIA  leak case inadvertently provides a revealing window into how the Bush administration manipulated  journalists about intelligence on Iraq’s nonexistent weapons of mass destruction.

Whatever the implications for special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald’s probe, Miller describes a conversation with Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff,  Lewis (Scooter) Libby, on July 8, 2003, where he appears to significantly misrepresent the contents of still-classified material from a crucial prewar intelligence-community document about Iraq. 

With no weapons of mass destruction having been found in Iraq and new questions being raised about the case for war, Libby assured Miller that day that the still-classified document, a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), contained even stronger evidence that would support the White House’s conclusions about Iraq’s weapons programs, according to Miller’s account. 

In fact, a declassified version of the NIE was publicly released just 10 days later, and it showed almost precisely the opposite. The NIE, it turned out, contained caveats and qualifiers that had never been publicly acknowledged by the administration prior to the invasion of Iraq.  It also included key dissents by State Department intelligence analysts, Energy Department scientists and Air Force technical experts about some important aspects of the administration’s case

RELATED:  A speech by ex-Powell aide Larry Wilkinson is the talk of the leftosphere.  He spoke at the New America Foundation, delivering a speech excoriating the WH's pre-war decision-making: "What I saw was a cabal between" Cheney and Defense Sec. Don Rumsfeld, "on critical issues that made decisions that the bureaucracy did not know were being made." As the Financial Times reports, Wilkerson "said his decision to go public had led to a personal falling out" with Powell, though Wilkerson still said: "I admire this in him, he is the world's most loyal soldier."   Tim Dunlop, at The Road to Surfdom says:

"As much as I'm happy to see these high-level people coming out and calling a spade a spade in regard to the Bush administration, it would've been nice if they'd had the decency to spill the beans a couple of years back, back when it really mattered."

How true.

What Tipped Them Off?

Tollbooth workers stop driver who had dead man impaled in his windshield

Happy Days: The Musical

No kidding.


NASA Timelapse Video of 2005 Hurricane Season

This is so totally cool (mpeg)



Then try to draw yourself as a police sketch.

Democratic Ideas - No. 10 (Last in a Series)

Putting Prevention First.  Democrats are committed to reducing unintended pregnancies by increasing access to family planning services and improving contraceptive coverage.  We will increase funding for family planning and empower states to enable more women to take responsibility for their health.  We will also improve contraceptive coverage by assuring equity in prescription drug insurance.


Democratic Idea No. 1: Standing With Our Troops

Democratic Idea No. 2: Targeting The Terrorists More Effectively

Democratic Idea No. 3: Fulfilling Our Duty to America’s Veterans

Democratic Idea No. 4: Expanding Economic Opportunity

Democratic Idea No. 5: Quality Education For All

Democratic Idea No. 6: Making Health Care More Affordable

Democratic Idea No. 7: Democracy Begins At Home

Democratic Idea No. 8: Meeting Our Responsibility To Medicare Beneficiaries

Democratic Idea No. 9: Fiscal Responsibility For A Sound Future

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Connecting The Dots

Let's take two pieces of information, as reported by different people at different times.  Even if you haven't followed the Plamegate story closely, you can follow this logic:

(1)  Murray Waas in his October 7 article: "In his own interview with prosecutors on June 24, 2004, Bush testified that Rove assured him he had not disclosed Plame as a CIA employee and had said nothing to the press to discredit Wilson, according to sources familiar with the president's interview."

(2)  Today's New York Daily News story:  "Bush was initially furious with Rove in 2003 when his deputy chief of staff conceded he had talked to the press about the Plame leak."

Now, either or both assertions (in bold above) could be true . . . or false. 

But here's the thing.  If they are BOTH TRUE  -- that is:

(1) if Rove told Bush "I did it"


(2) if Bush testified that Rove denied doing it...

...then Bush deceived the prosecutors and Grand Jury. 

And that's what we call "obstruction of justice", my friends.

Granted, there is a lot of wiggle room in both these admittedly threadbare accounts, and both are based on unnamed "inside" sources.  But, nevertheless, it should give the White House pause. 

So if I were Bush -- even if I believed I was innocent -- I would be talking to my personal lawyer right about now.

Too bad she's busy cramming for her confirmation hearings.  Heh.

Ingenious Solution Is Pretty Stupid

As you all know, one of the difficulties in traveling to the moon is cargo weight.  There is only so much a spacecraft can handle.  You have to pack fuel, oxygen, and so on.

And if you are planning to explore the moon in a vehicle, like the Apollo Moon Rover, that's even more weight to consider.

What if we were able to combine resources?  What do you get?

Yup, an edible moon vehicle:

"Overall, going to the moon is a daunting project because of the amount of fuel it takes to send a payload from Earth," said Walter Smith, a Ball State biology professor overseeing the class project.

"If you build a vehicle made of food, you can cut down on the amount of materials and fuel needed to go to the moon. We are telling the students to consider the viability of having a vehicle that can be eaten as you travel across the moon.

"The working model will probably be made from fruit or a breakfast cereal, while the wheels will be made from lollipops," he said.

Mmmmm.  Lollipops covered with moon dust argararaagah!

Plamegate: Bush Knew All Along

Remember when the Plame leak scandal broke and Bush reassured the nation that he was going to get to the bottom of it?  Here's what he said on September 30, 2002:

"I don't know of anybody in my administration who leaked classified information. If somebody did leak classified information, I'd like to know it, and we'll take the appropriate action."

White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan explained that "appropriate action" meant "[i]f anyone in this administration was involved in it, they would no longer be in this administration," adding that Karl Rove had specifically assured McClellan that he was not involved, and that "the President expects his administration to adhere to the highest standards of conduct and the highest ethics."

So Bush didn't know?  Well, that looks like bullshit.  Bush knew as far back as two years ago about Rove's involvement, the NY Daily News reveals:

An angry President Bush rebuked chief political guru Karl Rove two years ago for his role in the Valerie Plame affair, sources told the Daily News.

"He made his displeasure known to Karl," a presidential counselor told The News. "He made his life miserable about this."

Bush has nevertheless remained doggedly loyal to Rove, who friends and even political adversaries acknowledge is the architect of the President's rise from baseball owner to leader of the free world.

So here's the political math:

"I don't know of anybody in my administration who leaked classified information" = "I did not have sex with that woman".

But here's the REAL lede.  The President wasn't angry about the leak; he was angry because they got caught.

Bush has always known that Rove often talks with reporters anonymously and he generally approved of such contacts, one source said.

But the President felt Rove and other members of the White House damage-control team did a clumsy job in their campaign to discredit Plame's husband, Joseph Wilson, the ex-diplomat who criticized Bush's claim that Saddam Hussen tried to buy weapons-grade uranium in Niger.

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

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

But here's the REAL heavy-duty implication, from Josh Marshall:

Patrick Fitzgerald interviewed President Bush (at least, he was interviewed by his team; I don't remember whether it was Fitzgerald specifically who conducted it, though I would assume it was. ...Still, though, an interview took place and at the top of the list of questions must have been just what happened and what the president knew.

Did President Bush say that he knew Rove was involved? Did he deny it?

Obviously, we have many more questions than answers here. But if President Bush knew about Rove's role from the beginning, then all of these interviews and grand jury appearances and the almost inevitable contradictions between them become real trouble for the White House.

So could Bush be facing perjury?  Sadly, no.  When Bush was interviewed as part of Fitzgerald's probe, he was not under oath.  But that does not mean he will avoid legal troubles.  Here's an arguably relevant statute:

TITLE 18 > PART I > CHAPTER 47 > § 1001

§ 1001. Statements or entries generally

(a) Except as otherwise provided in this section, whoever, in any matter within the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative, or judicial branch of the Government of the United States, knowingly and willfully—
(1) falsifies, conceals, or covers up by any trick, scheme, or device a material fact;
(2) makes any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation; or
(3) makes or uses any false writing or document knowing the same to contain any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or entry;
shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both.
(b) Subsection (a) does not apply to a party to a judicial proceeding, or that party’s counsel, for statements, representations, writings or documents submitted by such party or counsel to a judge or magistrate in that proceeding.
(c) With respect to any matter within the jurisdiction of the legislative branch, subsection (a) shall apply only to—
(1) administrative matters, including a claim for payment, a matter related to the procurement of property or services, personnel or employment practices, or support services, or a document required by law, rule, or regulation to be submitted to the Congress or any office or officer within the legislative branch; or
(2) any investigation or review, conducted pursuant to the authority of any committee, subcommittee, commission or office of the Congress, consistent with applicable rules of the House or Senate.

UPDATE:  Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) writes a letter to Bush, asking him for an explanation.

Astrology And Palm-Reading Are Sciences Too

AstrologyaI love this opening paragraph from the New York Times story about the "Intelligent Design" case in Dover, PA:

A leading architect of the intelligent-design movement defended his ideas in a federal courtroom on Tuesday and acknowledged that under his definition of a scientific theory, astrology would fit as neatly as intelligent design.

Yes, professor.  And that's the problem.  Astrology isn't a science either.  Expanding the definition of "scientific theory" to include intelligent design is an admission that intelligent design, as it stands now, isn't science.

Scientific theory requires that hypotheses be tested, so that they can be discovered as "true" or "false".  In other words, any scientific theory must be falsifiable.  "Intelligent design", which attributes the origins of life to a mysterious intelligence (i.e., God -- wink, wink) is not provable or disprovable.  The leading witness, Dr.  Michael Bebe, even admits this:

In an attempt to pin Professor Behe down, Mr. Rothschild asked, "What is the mechanism that intelligent design is proposing?"

Mr. Behe said: "It does not propose a mechanism in the sense of a step-by-step description of how these structures arose." He added that "the word 'mechanism' can be used broadly" and said the mechanism was "intelligent activity."

Mr. Rothschild concluded, "Sounds pretty tautological, Professor Behe."

Indeed, it is tautological.

And then there's this gem:

Listening from the front row of the courtroom, a school board members [sic] said he found Professor Behe's testimony reaffirming. "Doesn't it sound like he knows what he's talking about?" said the Rev. Ed Rowand, a board member and church pastor.

Why, Reverand?  Because Behe uses big words that you don't understand that kinda sorta sound quasi-scientific?

The York Daily Record covers the same story, with snarkiness notably missing from the New York Times:

Dr. Michael Behe, leading intellectual light of the intelligent design movement, faced a dilemma.

In order to call intelligent design a "scientific theory," he had to change the definition of the term. It seemed the definition offered by the National Academy of Science, the largest and most prestigious organization of scientists in the Western world, was inadequate to contain the scope and splendor and just plain gee-willigerness of intelligent design.

So he devised his own definition of theory, expanding upon the definition of those stuck-in-the-21st-century scientists, those scientists who ridicule him and call his "theory" creationism in a cheap suit.

He'd show them. He'd come up with his own definition.

Details aside, his definition was broader and more inclusive of ideas that are "outside the box."

So, as we learned Tuesday, during Day 11 of the Dover Panda Trial, under his definition of a scientific theory, astrology would be a scientific theory.


Who knew that Jacqueline Bigar, syndicated astrology columnist, was on par with Lehigh University biochemist Michael Behe?

Eric Rothschild, attorney for the plaintiffs, asked Behe about whether astrology was science. And Behe, after hemming and hawing and launching into an abbreviated history of astrology and science, said, under his definition, it is. He said he wasn't a science historian, but the definition of astrology in the dictionary referred to its 15th-century roots, when it was equated with astronomy, which, according to the National Academy of Science, is a science.

So, taking a short logical leap, something Behe would certainly endorse since he does it a lot himself, you could say that intelligent design is on par with 15th-century science.

Sounds about right.

Fred Flintstone's Wife Is A Real Bitch

Oh, great -- more Bush photo-ops:

Wilma Now Most Intense Atlantic Storm Ever

Hurricane Wilma brought heavy rains to Central America and Mexico on Wednesday as it swirled into the most intense Atlantic storm ever recorded, a Category 5 monster packing 175 mph winds that forecasters warned was "extremely dangerous."


One Freaky-Looking Dinosaur


It's called the Caulkicephalus trimicrodon, remains of which were discovered three years ago on a beach on the Isle of Wight, off the south coast of England. The reptile's name was chosen by University of Portsmouth palaeobiologists in southern England, as Caulkhead is the informal name for natives of the Isle of Wight.

This is an artist's impression.  It's kind of a cross between a pelican, a bat, and an alligator.  That's one seriously fucked-up creature.

Action Alert: Boycott Target

Here's why:

A 26-year-old Missouri woman was refused EC when she handed her prescription to a pharmacist at a Target store in Fenton, MO, on September 30. The woman was told by the pharmacist, “I won’t fill it. It’s my right not to fill it.” She was told that she could go to a local Walgreens instead. The woman said, “When the pharmacist told me she wouldn't [fill the prescription], I went from disbelief to shock to anger. I guess I'm still pretty angry. It seems unbelievable to me that a medical professional could/would deny access to a federally approved drug and impose their personal beliefs in a professional setting. I am also grateful that I did not need it filled at that time. I don't know how it would be if I had just been raped or if the condom broke and I was a feeling confusion and panic anyway -- and then was denied access and told to go across the street.”

The national headquarters of Target has not responded to three PPFA attempts to clarify its policy on pharmacist refusals.

Bush Polls, State By State

The SUSA poll is out.

50 states of Bush numbers. The highlights?

  • Bush is above 50 percent in only six states -- Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Alaska, Nebraska and Oklahoma. Utah, at 61/36, is the only state above 60 percent. In May, Bush was above 50 percent in  13 states. In September, it was 10 states.

  • 25 states are below 40 percent. Rhode Island, Vermont, and Massachusetts are all under 30 percent. Bush is 29/70 in Rhode Island.

  • Overall, Bush is at 38/59.

    From the SUSA press release:

    In just the past 30 days, Bush's Net Job Approval has fallen by 10 points or more in:

    Texas                      From Plus 7 to Minus 12, a 19-point drop
    South Carolina      From Minus 4 to Minus 18, a 14-point drop
    Mississippi           From Plus 12 to Zero, a 12-point drop
    Tennessee             From Minus 5 to Minus 17, a 12-point drop
    Michigan               From Minus 21 to Minus 32, a 12-point drop
    Illinois                    From Minus 23 to Minus 34, an 11-point drop
    North Carolina      From Minus 5 to Minus 15, a 10-point drop

    In key Swing States, Bush's support is eroding among Regular Church Goers. See for example the trendlines in:

    New Mexico

  • Wow.  I guess Bush really is a unify-er.

    Support The Troops!

    The Pentagon has reneged on its offer to pay a $15,000 bonus to members of the National Guard and Army Reserve who agree to extend their enlistments by six years, according to Sen. Patty Murray (D-Seattle).

    The bonuses were offered in January to Active Guard and Reserve and military technician soldiers who were serving overseas. In April, the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs ordered the bonuses stopped, Murray said.


    Terrorism Hysteria

    CrywolfCathy Young has posted a very sane analysis of the recent phenomenon of prominent right-wing bloggers jonesing for a new domestic terrorist attack.  (Via Is That Legal):

    Michelle Malkin, Powerline, and The Jawa Report flogged the story relentlessly, picking up every sensational detail and railing against the "mainstream media" for ignoring and covering up the story. In a typical passage her October 12 syndicated column, Malkin wrote:

    Nothing to see here. Move along. Islam is a peaceful religion. Stop asking so many damned questions.

    Such is the attitude of the national media, which seems to believe that 'tis better to live in ignorance and indulge in hindsight later than to offend the gods of political correctness.

    On October 13, The Wall Street Journal published an article debunking the alleged terrorist angle and taking the bloggers to the woodshed for spreading hysteria about the story.  Malkin, Powerline, and The Jawa Report claim that the blogs have not made any assertions, merely asked questions. First of all, that's a common, and rather poor, excuse for irresponsible speculation. If a prominent left-wing blog ran an item titled, "Did George W. Bush know in advance about the 9/11 attacks?", I doubt that Malkin & Co. would consider the question mark to be much of an attenuating circumstance.

    Second, some of the blogs that pushed the "jihadi terrorism in the heartland" angle on the Hinrich story went much further than merely ask questions.


    There is another question one might ask: When we're in the middle of the War on Terror, isn't it better to be too vigilant than not vigilant enough? Where's the harm in trying to "connect the dots"?

    First of all, reporting unfounded rumors is not "connecting the dots." Equating a Pakistani roommate and an apartment in close proximity to a mosque with Islamic terrorist ties is not "connecting the dots." It's irresponsible speculation.

    Second, the harm in crying wolf should be pretty obvious.

    Plamegate Update: Indictments Really Close?

    The latest on the investigation from the New York Times:

    The special counsel in the C.I.A. leak case has told associates he has no plans to issue a final report about the results of the investigation, heightening the expectation that he intends to bring indictments, lawyers in the case and law enforcement officials said yesterday.

    ....By signaling that he had no plans to issue the grand jury's findings in such detail, Mr. Fitzgerald appeared to narrow his options either to indictments or closing his investigation with no public disclosure of his findings, a choice that would set off a political firestorm.

    I have a funny feeling Fitzgerald isn't about to close up shop.

    More from Larry Johnson (ex-CIA) and his blog No Quarter:

    Had lunch today with a person who has a direct tie to one of the folks facing indictment in the Plame affair. There are 22 files that Fitzgerald is looking at for potential indictment . These include Stephen Hadley, Karl Rove, Lewis Libby, Dick Cheney, and Mary Matalin (there are others of course). Hadley has told friends he expects to be indicted. No wonder folks are nervous at the White House.

    And Rove is clearing his calendar:

    Juggling appearances before a grand jury and conservative admirers didn’t seem to make sense, so presidential adviser Karl Rove has canceled three such outings as he waits to hear whether he or anyone else will be indicted in the leak of a CIA officer’s identity.

    Rove canceled plans to attend two Republican fund-raisers, the national party confirmed Tuesday. And he did not give his scheduled speech to the conservative Hudson Institute think tank on Oct. 11.

    How Am I Doing?

    This article list the top ten blogging design "usability issues":

    1. No Author Biographies

    Unless you're a business blog, you probably don't need a full-fledged "about us" section the way a corporate site does. That said, the basic rationale for "about us" translates directly into the need for an "about me" page on a weblog: users want to know who they're dealing with.

    I have this.

    2. No Author Photo

    Even weblogs that provide author bios often omit the author photo. A photo is important for two reasons:

    • It offers a more personable impression of the author. You enhance your credibility by the simple fact that you're not trying to hide. Also, users relate more easily to somebody they've seen.
    • It connects the virtual and physical worlds. People who've met you before will recognize your photo, and people who've read your site will recognize you when you meet in person (say, at a conference).

    Nope.  No photo of me.  But I don't think it is that important.

    3. Nondescript Posting Titles

    Sadly, even though weblogs are native to the Web, authors rarely follow the guidelines for writing for the Web in terms of making content scannable. This applies to a posting's body text, but it's even more important with headlines. Users must be able to grasp the gist of an article by reading its headline. Avoid cute or humorous headlines that make no sense out of context.

    I fall short on this.  Okay, I'll work on it.

    4. Links Don't Say Where They Go

    Many weblog authors seem to think it's cool to write link anchors like: "some people think" or "there's more here and here." Remember one of the basics of the Web: Life is too short to click on an unknown. Tell people where they're going and what they'll find at the other end of the link.

    I'm pretty good about this.  Next...

    5. Classic Hits are Buried

    Hopefully, you'll write some pieces with lasting value for readers outside your fan base. Don't relegate such classics to the archives, where people can only find something if they know you posted it, say, in May 2003.

    Highlight a few evergreens in your navigation system and link directly to them.

    Good idea, but I'm not sure I have any standout posts yet.

    6. The Calendar is the Only Navigation

    A timeline is rarely the best information architecture, yet it's the default way to navigate weblogs. Most weblog software provides a way to categorize postings so users can easily get a list of all postings on a certain topic. Do use categorization, but avoid the common mistake of tagging a posting with almost all of your categories. Be selective. Decide on a few places where a posting most belongs.

    I do categorization well IMHO.

    7. Irregular Publishing Frequency

    Establishing and meeting user expectations is one of the fundamental principles of Web usability. For a weblog, users must be able to anticipate when and how often updates will occur.

    For most weblogs, daily updates are probably best, but weekly or even monthly updates might work as well, depending on your topic. In either case, pick a publication schedule and stick to it.

    I'm pretty regular now, but I think I need to do less posts in terms of quantity, and more posts with thought and analysis.

    8. Mixing Topics

    If you publish on many different topics, you're less likely to attract a loyal audience of high-value users. Busy people might visit a blog to read an entry about a topic that interests them. They're unlikely to return, however, if their target topic appears only sporadically among a massive range of postings on other topics. The only people who read everything are those with too much time on their hands (a low-value demographic).

    Yes, I am a but eclectic.  Then again, Emily says "All you have is politics shit", so maybe not.

    9. Forgetting That You Write for Your Future Boss

    Whenever you post anything to the Internet -- whether on a weblog, in a discussion group, or even in an email -- think about how it will look to a hiring manager in ten years. Once stuff's out, it's archived, cached, and indexed in many services that you might never be aware of.

    Does not apply.

    10. Having a Domain Name Owned by a Weblog Service

    Having a weblog address ending in,, etc. will soon be the equivalent of having an email address or a Geocities website: the mark of a naïve beginner who shouldn't be taken too seriously.

    I'm, but it forwards to  That's good enough.

    Democratic Ideas - No. 9

    Fiscal Responsibility for a Sound Future.  Democrats know that fiscal mismanagement today only leads to greater problems for our children.  It is our responsibility to address the fiscal irresponsibility of the current Administration by imposing discipline today and Democrats are united to strengthen budgeting rules that require the government to live within its means. 


    Democratic Idea No. 1: Standing With Our Troops

    Democratic Idea No. 2: Targeting The Terrorists More Effectively

    Democratic Idea No. 3: Fulfilling Our Duty to America’s Veterans

    Democratic Idea No. 4: Expanding Economic Opportunity

    Democratic Idea No. 5: Quality Education For All

    Democratic Idea No. 6: Making Health Care More Affordable

    Democratic Idea No. 7: Democracy Begins At Home

    Democratic Idea No. 8: Meeting Our Responsibility To Medicare Beneficiaries

    Tuesday, October 18, 2005

    The Dover Trial

    Regrettably, I have not been able to follow the Kitzmiller v. Dover trial as closely as I would have liked.  (The case relates to the teaching of "intelligent design" in Pennsylvania public schools).

    But I do recommend this rant by Plutonium Page at The Next Hurrah, discussing the ID defense "expert" who doesn't know the concept of scientific method from his ass.

    "Welcome To Our World, You Dosey Prick"

    That's what Shake's Sister says about this column written by David Keane, chairman of the American Conservative Union, a guy who has "got his nose all out of joint because conservatives who oppose Miers’ nomination are finding themselves at the business end of the administration’s smear gun".  Keane writes:

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

    SS responds to Keane:

    That’s Tactic #1 for the Bush gang, who have been utilizing it against liberal and moderate dissenters (not to mention their opposition—go ask John McCain) since before they even stepped foot inside the White House. Considering you’ve had no problem with this schoolyard bully strategy all along, I can’t imagine why on earth should anyone else be concerned on your behalf now, just because it’s being used against you. If you had no inclination that at the first sign of stumbling out of lockstep, you’d be treated to the same dishonorable tactics, then you’re not only a hypocrite, but foolish, too.

    Read it all.

    Biological Attack? By Who? Against Whom?

    I blogged about it here, but there was little national attention to it.

    But Salon is picking up on the story.  From Sploid:


    It is the most perplexing "non story" of the American terror era: For the first time ever, a half-dozen of the bioweapons air sensors installed around Washington, D.C., all set off alarms. Over a single 24-hour period, each had collected evidence of airborne quantities of the deadly bacteria francisella tularensis.

    The bacteria is "one of six biological weapons most likely to be used against the United States," according to the federal government. It causes a deadly disease known as tularemia, which responds to treatment with antibiotics but otherwise kills half of its victims ... many of whom would assume they had common flu until it was too late.


    Today, revisits the possible bioweapons attack on the nation's capital. Experts are bewildered by the lack of government concern, and raise a question that should have sent the American news media into a frenzy:

    Another possibility is that somebody was testing U.S. biological weapons defenses. How sensitive are the sensors? How quickly and effectively can the government react?

    "The Department of Homeland Security would have to consider the possibility that it was neither natural nor an attack, but that it was a testing of the system," says Alan Pearson, a former DHS official, who is now the biological and chemical weapons director at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, a nonpartisan organization. "Was somebody trying to see what would happen?"

    "Somebody" testing U.S. biological weapons defenses ... on Washington's Mall, on the very day an estimated 300,000 Americans gathered to protest the White House's endless war. If somebody within the government was running an experiment to "see what would happen," were they satisfied that the news media would all but ignore the event if not directed to cause hysteria?

    The Bangor (Maine) Daily News seems to be the only other publication to revisit what could have been either the biggest biological terror attack in U.S. history or a government "drill" using live bioweapons on citizens who oppose the nation's wars.

    * * *

    While government health officials say it's all fine, as nobody got tularemia, people did get sick at the Mall. Some of those who spoke to say they were treated with antibiotics for flu-like symptoms, the same medicines that would be used to kill tularemia.

    Slow Down, You Burn Too Fast

    59th Street Bridge on fire

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