Wednesday, November 30, 2005

I'm Not Sure Which Half Of This Combination Is Scarier...

Family Circus + Cthulhu = SUCCESS!!!

Belated hat tip to Spear and Magic.

Cognitive Dissonance? What Cognitive Dissonance?

A week after writing a great column about how our terrible foreign policy is making us hated around the world, David Ignatius returns to the wank mines with a rave review of Condi's brilliant performance as Secretary of State. Oookay.

High praise indeed:

Colleagues say... that she's as good at administering her own agency as she was bad at coordinating interagency disputes when she was national security adviser.

If only everyone in the Bush administration could be as competent in their second term as they were incompetent in their first...

Sinking Ship, Meet Rats.

Funny, this sort of thing never used to bother them before...

Must be something in the water.

Like Their Own Blood.

Inaugural Late-Night Tripod Blogging

Well, tonight was the maiden voyage of my new Slik Sprint tripod, and what did I use it for?

Creepy light-up nativity photos!

I have a sneaking suspicion that one of the Three Kings may be of the Burger variety... Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Now I Can Die Happy.

My blog is not just the top result, but the top TWO results if you Google light up codpiece.

My entire life has meaning now.

(Must not dwell on why someone was searching for light-up codpieces, must not dwell on why someone was searching for light-up codpieces, must not dwell...)

Almost Unbearable Cuteness

Baby panda video, courtesy of USA Today.

I wonder what qualifications you need to be an Assistant Curator for Pandas.

Chim Chim Cheree...

I have just been informed that chimney sweeps will be coming to my apartment sometime in the next week or two, despite its advanced state of non-fireplace-havingness.

I am not making this up.

It's something to do with checking the heating vents, apparently. Alas, I will not be home at the time, so I won't get to see if their breath is all sooty like in the FedEx commercial.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Duke, Duke, Duke, Duke Of Jail...

One down, 200-something to go...

Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham pleaded guilty Monday to conspiracy and tax charges and tearfully resigned from office, admitting he took $2.4 million in bribes to steer defense contracts to conspirators.


Cunningham answered "yes, Your Honor" when asked by U.S. District Judge Larry Burns if he had accepted bribes from someone in exchange for his performance of official duties.

Later, at a news conference, he wiped away tears as he announced his resignation.

"I can't undo what I have done but I can atone," he said.


"He did the worst thing an elected official can do -- he enriched himself through his position and violated the trust of those who put him there," U.S. Attorney Carol Lam said....

The case began when authorities started investigating whether Cunningham and his wife, Nancy, used the proceeds from the $1,675,000 sale to defense contractor Mitchell Wade to buy the $2.55 million mansion in Rancho Santa Fe. Wade put the Del Mar house back on the market and sold it after nearly a year for $975,000 -- a loss of $700,000.

The last paragraph is my favorite:

Cunningham's pleas came amid a series of GOP scandals. Rep. Tom DeLay of Texas had to step down as majority leader after he was indicted in a campaign finance case; a stock sale by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is being looked at by regulators; and Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff was indicted in the CIA leak case.

I hope this is a sign that the Republican teflon is finally wearing off, but we need more like this. Much more. I want congresscritters to be a lot more wary about whose money they take and what they grant in return, and I want ethics rules with some teeth. Frankly, even if some Democrats go down, I don't really care. I just want someone to clean House. And Senate.

Just Call Me Wanker Of The Morning

Ugh. Yet another reminder of why I can't stand conservatives.

Today's NYT has an op-ed piece by National Review writer John J. Miller, who starts out eulogizing the conservative, recently-liquidated Olin Foundation and what structural and strategic lessons it offers the liberal foundations trying to emulate it.

Okay, so far, so good. But then he abruptly puts the wank pedal to the metal:

So, is it possible to create a liberal version of the John M. Olin Foundation? I have my doubts. The success of any idea certainly depends to some extent on whether it can muster financial support, and it may also benefit from effective marketing. But in the end, not all ideas are equal. Some are simply better than others. After all, if money were everything, then liberalism would have nothing to worry about: the Ford Foundation's coffers alone dwarf the combined resources of the conservative grant makers.

Conservatives never would have risen to prominence without their compelling critique of the welfare state, their faith in the power of free markets to create economic prosperity, and their belief that religion can play a constructive role in the public square.

The economist Thomas Sowell once joked that Hank Aaron was a lucky man, because he was always stepping up to the plate when a home run was about to be hit. Likewise, conservative ideas took flight not because wealthy philanthropists were suddenly willing to finance them, but because they identified actual problems and offered sensible solutions.

If liberals now want to create a counter-counterintelligentsia, it's going to take more than money; what they truly need is a set of really good ideas.

Oh yeah, those conservative ideas are great. They've worked out really really well for us. Much better than silly liberal notions like Medicare and Social Security and not blowing up other countries for no damn reason. Arrrrgggh.

Welcome To My Nightmare

Last night I dreamt that I was walking home and I saw this absolutely spectacular view of the full moon lighting up the clouds in the night sky like they were a stage. I ran the rest of the way home to grab my camera to get the shot, and when I got there, I realized that my camera was sitting face-up with its lenscap off. When I took a closer look, sure enough the lens had all kinds of crud on it, and when I tried to gently brush it away, it left greasy streaks so that the lens would need a thorough cleaning, by which time the beauty moon/clouds shot would be long gone.



(Look at me; I'm so traumatized I can't even make a joke about shudder speeds...)

And before anyone asks why I didn't have my camera with me, there are certain occasions where I don't bring it along, like if it's raining, or I'm getting groceries, or I'm snooping around a secret underground complex trying to copy data about aliens onto my USB flash drive.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

It's, Ah, "In Development"...

I have a movie title that I know will be box office dynamite if anyone decides to run with it:

Anaïs Ninja.

I don't believe any further explication is necessary.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Friday Quote & Cat Blogging

"And then two small bladders came out of their mouths. Just as she was starting to hum, too."

From The World Of Henry Orient, where two teenage fangirls sort-of-stalk concert pianist Peter Sellers.

I have no idea what the quote means.

And, of course, there'll be other people's cats...

The triumphant return of the Amazing Black & White Mocha! Posted by Picasa

Thank You, Science!!!

A bit of Friday meta-cat-blogging: my blog is the first result if you search Google for scientifically cats reasons why having mustaches...

Good to know.

Good For You, Robot Monkey Heads!

The shadowy and mysterious Codename V. has some extremely compelling and important thoughts to share on the subject of Robot Monkey Heads.

Go. Read. Now.


Oh, Snap!

I almost missed this! From the NY Daily News' Rush & Molloy gossip column's reportage of the White House turkey-pardoning ceremony, by way of The All-Seeing Eye Of Froomkin:

The President peered into Marshmallow's eyes and stroked the bird's fluffy white feathers with a tenderness usually reserved for members of the Saudi royal family.

It has been my observation that the NY Daily News trends a wee bit to the left of its Post-y counterpart...

Ignatius Nails It... Mostly

I seem to recall him saying some jerky things about war critics recently, but David Ignatius is almost completely spot-on in his latest WaPo column:

When I lived abroad, Thanksgiving was always my favorite holiday. It was a chance to scrounge up a turkey, gather foreign and American friends, and celebrate what America represented to the world. I liked to give a sentimental toast when the turkey arrived at the table, and more than once I had my foreign guests in tears. They loved the American dream as much as I did.

(Okay, that's laying it on a little thick, but stay with me here)

I don't think Americans realize how much we have tarnished those ideals in the eyes of the rest of the world these past few years. The public opinion polls tell us that America isn't just disliked or feared overseas -- it is reviled. We are seen as hypocrites who boast of our democratic values but who behave lawlessly and with contempt for others. I hate this America-bashing, but when I try to defend the United States and its values in my travels abroad, I find foreigners increasingly are dismissive. How do you deny the reality of Abu Ghraib, they ask, when the vice president of the United States is actively lobbying against rules that would ban torture?

Of all the reversals the United States has suffered in recent years, this may be the worst. We are slowly shredding the fabric that defines what it means to be an American.

(I snipped some good stuff about how torturing and disappearing people used to be what other countries did)

The United States must begin to replenish this stock of support for America in the world. I would love to see the Bush administration take the lead, but its officials seem not to understand the problem. Even if they turned course, much of the world wouldn't believe them. Sadly, when President Bush eloquently evokes our values, the world seems to tune out. So this task falls instead to the American public. It's a job that involves traveling, sharing, living our values, encouraging our children to learn foreign languages and work and study abroad. In short, it means giving something back to the world.

(We're screwed.)

We must stop behaving as if we are in a permanent state of war, in which any practice is justified by the exigencies of the moment. That's my biggest problem with Vice President Cheney's anything-goes jeremiads against terrorism. They suggest we will always be at war, and so it doesn't matter what the world thinks of our behavior. That's a dangerously mistaken view. We are in a long war but not an endless one, and we need to begin rebuilding the bridges to normal life.

Ignatius hones in perfectly on the mentality that has led to America's flirtation with The Dark Side, but I'm skeptical about his prescription for what we, the people can do about it. Sure, raising our kids as world citizens wouldn't hurt, but I don't think it would be much of a counterweight against a malevolent, out-of-control government.

The only way it could solve the problem would be indirectly, by spawning a new generation of American voters raised with a global, big-picture, humanist perspective who would vote the crazies out. Of course, the rest of us have to hold the line against the nation-at-war-so-anything-goes mentality enough so that we still have meaningful elections by the time the new generation is old enough to vote.

Masters Of Irony

It always amazes me that Republicans can maintain a straight face when they say this sort of thing. In this case, they're referring to Bush's tumbling poll numbers (especially on honesty and integrity) following Democratic accusations that the administration lied us into Iraq:

"I do think that it demonstrates that if you spend enough money and repeat the charge enough, the old political axiom in Washington can come true: that charges left unanswered can stick," he said. "That's why we felt it important to marshal a vigorous defense by calling out our critics and the transparency of their charges."

Well, yeah, Dan. You guys wrote that chapter of the textbook. I wish Kerry and Shrum had bothered to read it...

Ratings Advisory Of The Week

From the NYT review of the new Usher movie, In The Mix:

"In the Mix" is rated PG-13 (Parental guidance suggested). It has strong language, sexual situations, considerable gunfire and one unfortunate accident involving a shiny disco ball.

Do not taunt Happy Disco Ball.

You Go, Girl!

Good news/bad news from NY Newsday:

South America's latest beauty queen won't be campaigning abroad for world peace any time soon, unless, of course, she's granted early parole.

Angelica Macua, a statuesque Angolan serving five years on international drug smuggling charges, on Thursday was voted Miss Penitentiary 2005 after a six-hour contest pitting 40 women inmates from 10 prisons around Brazil's largest city, Sao Paulo.

"People told me, 'You're tall; you should enter the contest,' so that's why I entered," Macua said. "I've always been interested in fashion."

I just watch it for the jumpsuit competition.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Basking In The Glow

Yes, I am a happy happy blogger today. Not only did the WSJ release the most encouraging poll numbers ever, not only was my blog the number one Google search result for both an althouse batshit crazy and hot liberal blogger, but The All-Seeing Eye Of Froomkin has winked kindly upon me. The very last item in his WaPo online chat session this afternoon:

Pittsburgh, Pa.: Longtime huge fan -- your column is one of my favorite reads.

My question is, as all these revelations [come out] about how the administration gamed the intelligence used to justify the invasion of Iraq, why haven't the Downing Street Memos resurfaced? Not necessarily as a story in their own right, but as more of a data point, or an old story that has now been vindicated? I haven't see any mention of it in either the conventional media or the blogosphere.

Dan Froomkin: I do think it's about time for a retelling of the whole story, and from what I can tell, most of the facts support the Downing Street Memo version of things. (I have yet to see a single piece of evidence that Bush or his aides were, privately, even contemplating not going to war, for instance.)

Senator John Kerry mentioned the memo the other day, actually, which I suspect was a first for him. So maybe that's a sign.

Woohoo! Okay, I'm done grinding my wee axe. I think. For now.

I'm pretty sure I've also set a new personal record for most links in a single post. Huzzah!

Poll Lotta Trouble For The Republicans

Wow. Maybe we really have turned the corner. Latest WSJ poll, by way of The All-Seeing Eye Of Froomkin (more on him later today):

"A majority of U.S. adults believe the Bush administration generally misleads the public on current issues, while fewer than a third of Americans believe the information provided by the administration is generally accurate, the latest Harris Interactive poll finds."

Overall, 64 percent of Americans believe the Bush administration "generally misleads the American public on current issues to achieve its own ends" -- including 91 percent of Democrats, 73 percent of independents and 28 percent of Republicans.

The Journal also reports: "When asked about former Vice Presidential Chief of Staff Lewis 'Scooter' Libby, who has been indicted on charges of perjury, obstruction of justice and making false statements, more than half of U.S. adults say the situation indicates 'a larger problem in the Bush administration,' while 35% say it was an 'isolated incident.' About 82% of Democrats say it indicates a larger problem, while 70% of Republicans feel the Libby case is an isolated incident."

This really is huge. Public perceptions that the Bushies or Republicans in general are lying on a specific issue are damaging, but as long as they're seen as isolated incidents rather than part of a pattern of Republican behavior, the damage can be contained. But now, even without any high-profile Democratic effort to frame each scandal as part of an underlying pattern of Republican dishonesty and incompetence, that message is clearly getting through to all but the most diehard and unreachable of the Kool-Aid drinkers. I think it's telling that these questions were even asked, and by the WSJ, no less.

I can't understate this enough: Even as Bush's approval rating slouches toward 30%, this is the most encouraging poll result I've seen in the 5 long years of the Bush II Dynasty. There is one last remaining step that I am eagerly awaiting: for the cancer on the presidency to metastasize and begin rupturing red cells outside the White House. It would be the first time cancer ever made its host healthier.

Apolitical Patheticness

Maybe there's more to this story that Tim Smith is leaving out, but this sure does sound pretty weak:

When the fund-raisers were soliciting contributions to help build the new Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville, they contacted prominent professional athletes - Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, Shaquille O'Neal. The answers all came back the same: "Sorry, but I'm all tapped out."

It was one of the few disappointments for Lonnie Ali when she talked about the long road to getting the center for her husband completed.

...What does it say about the modern American millionaire athlete that he can't reach into his pocket and peel off a couple thousand for a good cause? These guys spend more money settling bets on the golf course.


...I'm sure they get hit on for charitable contributions all the time. And I know they all have their own foundations that do charitable things. But when someone calls from the Muhammad Ali Center you take the call. You do some homework. Then you write a check. It's tax-deductible.

Come on! It's Muhammad Ali, for crying out loud.

I could see if you disagree with his politics or his religion and you didn't want to contribute on moral grounds. The athletes who didn't contribute don't fall into this category. They're just cheap.


How many of them would take the kind of stand for a moral principle and sacrifice financial gain the way Ali did in the prime of his career? Perhaps the same number that contributed to his center.

"If Muhammad Ali didn't stick by his goals and his religion, a lot of athletes wouldn't be where they are today," [boxer Lennox] Lewis said.

Lennox Lewis was the only athlete who contributed, and he isn't even American.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

More Fun Ways To Get To My Blog

It's been a while since I've seen any really interesting incoming searches hitting my blog, but today I got one that was incongruous in the extreme, and another that was just flat bizarre.

Yes, my blog is in fact on the second page of results if you search Yahoo for irony of being a mom (I bet someone was pretty darn disappointed there) and on the first page of Google results for...

Wait for it...


Alrighty then. I'll just be over here if anyone needs me. You know how to find me.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Looking For A Brassy Noel

As a political junkie and blog addict, it's often hard to put on my Everyman hat and remember that the news stories the general public is seeing are not the same as the ones that we're seeing, nor are they necessarily interpreting them in the same way.

However, with the latest frantic hysteria over the weekend, with Rep. Murtha's great speech at the center (increasingly stepped-up dissent-is-treason/cowardice rhetoric and attempts to weasel out of it after the fact; the sham withdrawal resolution; another indictment looming on the horizon), it looks like the Republicans are becoming increasingly desperate. It feels to me like things are about to come to a head, that all but the most diehard true believers are on the verge of realizing just how horribly this country has gone astray under Republican rule.

It would be interesting to see just how much damage such a realization would do to the Republican party in the short-term and long-term, as well as to the corporate media and right-wing pundits who serve as the Republicans' censors and memory-scrubbers. Also, what happens if the Republicans' last hurrah is to get Alito or someone similar confirmed to the Supreme Court? What happens if we have a Democratic executive and legislature, but a resolutely Republican judiciary? Will the Democrats be able to use the Republicans' "judicial activism" rhetoric against them when the courts start striking down Democratic legislation?

But I digress a bit from my intended point, which is to ask the question: As more and more revelations about dodgy intelligence surface (Curveball, al-Libi, discrepancies between the intelligence the administration saw vs. the intelligence they showed Congress), why haven't the Downing Street Memos made a comeback? Maybe I've just missed it, but I haven't seen a single post about them since midyear, when the Big Brass Alliance was hammering away at them relentlessly. I think they usefully crystallize what this country is just now learning, that the intelligence was "fixed around the policy," and that it was a nudge-nudge-wink-wink open secret. The memos reinforce the more recent evidence of fixed intelligence and vice versa, and I think we should start reminding people about them again.

Thanks to my coworker who put this idea in my head, and wants to see the Democrats rub the Republicans' noses in it every time they prattle about how "the Democrats saw the same intelligence and drew the same conclusions."

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Light-Up Night Photoblogging, Part II

Some more photos from Light-Up Night, capturing a bit more of the Core Festiveness.

Not really a Light-Up Night pic, just streetlight and car reflections on a metal sign, but the tripod was such a hassle to use, I'd hate for it to go to waste...

Skating around the freshly-lit tree (fun with long exposures).

A lesser illuminated tree, and the main tower of PPG Place.

And some festive lights in search of a tree. Posted by Picasa

Light-Up Night Photoblogging, Part I

Okay, so, there's this annual tradition in Pittsburgh called "Light-Up Night," where all the office buildings downtown are supposed to leave their lights on, and there's all kinds of other lights and festiveness, and the Pittsburgh Christmas Tree gets lit up while kids ice-skate around it. I'll probably post those pictures later on, but for now I'm just going to focus on some of the more peripheral festiveness.

This was also supposed to be the big test for my tripod, which could lead to more night photography. Sad to say, it failed miserably. The legs wouldn't stay extended, but they wouldn't collapse all the way either, not without lots of cajoling and beating, and the thought of repeatedly tinkering and wrestling with something vaguely rifle-shaped in the low-light situation seemed like kind of a bad idea. I managed to get pretty decent hand-held results at 1/30 of a second, and even 1/15, but I still plan to get myself a Slik Sprint Pro tripod, which seems to strike a pretty good balance between portability and non-crapness.

Light-Up Night concession stands. I did not partake, to my eternal regret.

Giant inflatable lightbulb, generously provided by the local electrical company.

A very festive garbage can, and its equally festive shadow. Posted by Picasa

Friday, November 18, 2005

Friday Quote & Cat Blogging

Once again, a quote from Dan Simmons' Olympos (sequel to Ilium):

"Thinketh, he made the ____ _____ out of sweet clay for His son to bite and eat, add honeycomb and pods, chewing her neck until froth rises bladdery, quick, quick, till maggots scamper through my brain."

Gotta love Caliban.

And of course, there'll be other people's cats:

Another picture of the cat my coworker found and took care of until her sister adopted him. Posted by Picasa

Least Believable Quote By A Non-Politician

From an NYT article about a preserved cadaver exhibit at South Street Seaport (which sounds way cool, by the way):

"This is not a freak show," Dr. Glover said, standing beside the musculature of a man who is holding hands with his own removed skeleton.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Stay Away From Atlanta!!!

Incredibly alarming Newsday sports headline:

Bates, Satan lead romp in Atlanta

Unfortunately, the article itself has a more mundane headline, but that's the one that's on the front page of the sports section.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

A Savage Proposal

Dan Savage has a very good common-sense suggestion in today's NYT:

Problematically, however, a right to privacy is not explicitly mentioned in the Constitution. The majority in Griswold held that it was among the unenumerated rights implied by the Constitution's "penumbras".... The Griswold case didn't settle the matter, and the right to privacy quickly became the Tinkerbell of constitutional rights: clap your hands if you believe.

Liberals clap. We love the right to privacy because we believe adults should have access to birth control, abortion services and pornography as well as the right to engage in gay sex. Social conservatives hate the right to privacy for the very same reason, as they seek to regulate private behaviors from access to birth control to masturbation.


Well, if the right to privacy is so difficult for some people to locate in the Constitution, why don't we just stick it in there? Wouldn't that make it easier to find?

If the Republicans can propose a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, why can't the Democrats propose a right to privacy amendment? Making this implicit right explicit would forever end the debate about whether there is a right to privacy. And the debate over the bill would force Republicans who opposed it to explain why they don't think Americans deserve a right to privacy - which would alienate not only moderates, but also those libertarian, small-government conservatives who survive only in isolated pockets on the Eastern Seaboard and the American West.

I think this is a great idea. Not only would such an amendment reinforce the Bill Of Rights, but, as Savage notes, the effort to pass it would put Republicans on the record as opposing something that I believe most people consider eminently reasonable (much like election reform, which is why I'm baffled that the Democrats don't make a bigger deal about it).

Ironically, I suspect that the defense that the Republicans will use is that the right to privacy is already in the Constitution, and an amendment to further codify it would just be unnecessary clutter to This Great And Hallowed American Document. That approach sure would make future judicial confirmation hearings entertaining...

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Spooky, Spooky Night...

More fun with night (or at least early evening) photography...

The building colors are all wrong, and it's kinda dim, but I find I'm kinda diggin' it. Posted by Picasa

Monday, November 14, 2005

He's Got The Whole Moon In His Hands...

You don't even wanna know how much of a pain in the ass it was to get this shot...

Not quite exactly what I was hoping for, but it's close enough to still be pretty cool... Posted by Picasa

"Why'd you say Myanmar?" "I panicked."

This is kinda... weird:
At precisely 6:37 a.m. last Sunday, according to one account - with a shout of "Let's go!" - a convoy of trucks began a huge, expensive and baffling transfer of the government of Myanmar from the capital to a secret mountain compound 200 miles to the north.

Diplomats and foreign analysts were left groping a week later for an explanation of the unannounced move. In a country as secretive and eccentric as Myanmar, it is a full-time job to try to tease the truth from the swirl of rumors and guesswork, relying on few facts and many theories. The leading theories now have to do with astrological predictions and fears of invasion by the United States. The relocation, which the government announced to reporters and foreign diplomats a day after it began, but not yet to the public through the state-controlled media, had been rumored for years.


The military junta that runs the former Burma offered little explanation for its mystery move. "Due to changed circumstances, where Myanmar is trying to develop a modern nation, a more centrally located government seat has become a necessity," it said in a statement.

That left plenty of room for theories, and it was difficult to find one that seemed rational. Astrology seemed to make as much sense as anything.


Seen from [the junta's] perspective, the notion of an American invasion might not seem far-fetched. They are a ruling clique of soldiers whose background is jungle warfare and who know little of the outside world.


In January, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice included Myanmar in a list of "outposts of tyranny," along with North Korea, Cuba, Iran, Zimbabwe and Belarus.

Officials in Myanmar sometimes offer visitors a list of their own: Panama, Grenada, Somalia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq - places where the United States has sent armed forces.

Well, I guess I can see why they might fear an American attack, but they really are out of touch and paranoid if they think we can spare enough troops to invade a country that doesn't have any oil.

Guilty Even After Proven Innocent

Very disturbing column in today's Washington Post, written by P. Sabin Willett, a defense lawyer for some of the Gitmo detainees:

As the Senate prepared to vote Thursday to abolish the writ of habeas corpus, Sens. Lindsey Graham and Jon Kyl were railing about lawyers like me. Filing lawsuits on behalf of the terrorists at Guantanamo Bay. Terrorists! Kyl must have said the word 30 times.

As I listened, I wished the senators could meet my client Adel.

Adel is innocent. I don't mean he claims to be. I mean the military says so. It held a secret tribunal and ruled that he is not al Qaeda, not Taliban, not a terrorist. The whole thing was a mistake: The Pentagon paid $5,000 to a bounty hunter, and it got taken.

The military people reached this conclusion, and they wrote it down on a memo, and then they classified the memo and Adel went from the hearing room back to his prison cell. He is a prisoner today, eight months later. And these facts would still be a secret but for one thing: habeas corpus.

Only habeas corpus got Adel a chance to tell a federal judge what had happened. Only habeas corpus revealed that it wasn't just Adel who was innocent -- it was Abu Bakker and Ahmet and Ayoub and Zakerjain and Sadiq -- all Guantanamo "terrorists" whom the military has found innocent.


In a wiser past, we tried Nazi war criminals in the sunlight. Summing up for the prosecution at Nuremberg, Robert Jackson said that "the future will never have to ask, with misgiving: 'What could the Nazis have said in their favor?' History will know that whatever could be said, they were allowed to say.... The extraordinary fairness of these hearings is an attribute of our strength."


The secretary of defense chained Adel, took him to Cuba, imprisoned him and sends teams of lawyers to fight any effort to get his case heard. Now the Senate has voted to lock down his only hope, the courts, and to throw away the key forever. Before they do this, I have a last request on his behalf. I make it to the 49 senators who voted for this amendment.

The technical detail here is that Adel is an Uighur, a member of China's repressed Muslim minority, and therefore might not be safe in his home country. But the DoD has been saying this for over two years now, while claiming to be searching for a safe haven for him. This would be a lotmore believable if they weren't trying to cover up his status and suppress his attempts to gain release. It sounds like an excuse to keep an inconvenient and embarrassing person under wraps; not sincere concern for his well-being.

In other words, not only are we holding people prisoner indefinitely who have not been convicted of terrorism, we are also indefinitely holding people who have been acquitted of terrorism. The Republican gremlins (and some of their allegedly Democratic friends) are nibbling away at the Constitution while America sleeps. Will there be anything left when we wake up?

Tell Me Again What Durbin Apologized For?

Interesting Op-Ed piece in the NYT today:

Fearful of future terrorist attacks and frustrated by the slow progress of intelligence-gathering from prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Pentagon officials turned to the closest thing on their organizational charts to a school for torture. That was a classified program at Fort Bragg, N.C., known as SERE, for Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape. Based on studies of North Korean and Vietnamese efforts to break American prisoners, SERE was intended to train American soldiers to resist the abuse they might face in enemy custody.

The Pentagon appears to have flipped SERE's teachings on their head, mining the program not for resistance techniques but for interrogation methods. At a June 2004 briefing, the chief of the United States Southern Command, Gen. James T. Hill, said a team from Guantánamo went "up to our SERE school and developed a list of techniques" for "high-profile, high-value" detainees. General Hill had sent this list - which included prolonged isolation and sleep deprivation, stress positions, physical assault and the exploitation of detainees' phobias - to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who approved most of the tactics in December 2002.

Some within the Pentagon warned that these tactics constituted torture, but a top adviser to Secretary Rumsfeld justified them by pointing to their use in SERE training, a senior Pentagon official told us last month.


SERE methods are classified, but the program's principles are known. It sought to recreate the brutal conditions American prisoners of war experienced in Korea and Vietnam, where Communist interrogators forced false confessions from some detainees, and broke the spirits of many more, through Pavlovian and other conditioning. Prolonged isolation, sleep deprivation, painful body positions and punitive control over life's most intimate functions produced overwhelming stress in these prisoners. Stress led in turn to despair, uncontrollable anxiety and a collapse of self-esteem. Sometimes hallucinations and delusions ensued. Prisoners who had been through this treatment became pliable and craved companionship, easing the way for captors to obtain the "confessions" they sought.

...At Guantánamo, SERE-trained mental health professionals [worked] with guards and medical personnel to uncover resistant prisoners' vulnerabilities. "We know if you've been despondent; we know if you've been homesick," General Hill said. "That is given to interrogators and that helps the interrogators' make their plans."


A full account of how our leaders reacted to terrorism by re-engineering Red Army methods must await an independent inquiry. But the SERE model's embrace by the Pentagon's civilian leaders is further evidence that abuse tantamount to torture was national policy, not merely the product of rogue freelancers. After the shock of 9/11 - when Americans desperately wanted mastery over a world that suddenly seemed terrifying - this policy had visceral appeal. But it's the task of command authority to connect means and ends rationally. The Bush administration has too frequently failed to do this. And so it is urgent that Congress step in to tie our detainee policy to our national interest.

So when Dick Durbin compared our treatment of detainees to that of Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union and was subsequently vilified to the point of tearful apology for it, it was not hyperbole - it was quite literally true. We have become the enemy.

Also note that this utterly obliterates the "few bad apples" defense that the military and the administration shamefully and successfully deployed when the Abu Ghraib torture photos first surfaced. There are some other interesting nuggets as well, such as an observation that the primary goal of the Communist torturers SERE emulated was false confessions, not actionable intelligence.

Sunday, November 13, 2005


Money quote from today's "Beware Of Alito" editorial in the NYT:
As the Democrats refine their message for next year's elections, the first thing they need to be able to say to the American people is that they did not sit by idly while the far right took over the Supreme Court and began dismantling fundamental rights and freedoms.
This is true not only of judicial nominations, but all Republican policies. I would hope that the Iraqi invasionhas taught the Democrats just how difficult and awkward it is to criticize a policy or nominee after you've voted in favor of it.

It's entirely possible, even inevitable, that the Democrats will not win every battle. But that doesn't mean they shouldn't even bother to fight them.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Serendipitous Saturday Photoblogging

Okay, it's not brilliant or anything, but I just happened to notice the light reflecting off my blinds onto the door of my closet just so, and I thought it looked pretty cool. Alas, it was a little more centered when I saw it, but by the time I grabbed my camera and got myself all set up, it had drifted a bit.

I literally just looked up, and there it was... Posted by Picasa

Oh, Please Let This Be Right...

From Chris Bowers at MyDD, via metacomments:
[following a summary of Bush's consistently sub-40 approval ratings and increasingly 60+ disapproval ratings]

So where does all this lead? We busted through the 40 point floor a long time ago. We have now busted the 60% disapproval ceiling. What's next--29% disapproval? Is that our goal? And after that, is it another arbitrary number? Or is Bush's resignation / impeachment our goal?

In a word, no. Now that we have passed 60% disapproval, there are no more numeric goals when it comes to Bush's disapproval. Sub-35 would be nice, but it is not necessary. The goal now is realignment. Bush's disapproval is so high, and his position as the face of the Republican Party is so assured, that it is now possible to envision a vast national realignment away from the Republican Party based primarily on backlash against Bush-ism (aka, contemporary conservatism). [Examples from '66-'68, '80, and '92-'94]

Bush's approval is now low enough for a realignment to take place in 2006 and 2008. A realignment is far more important to Democrats and progressives than Bush's impeachment or resignation could ever be. This is a generational event and, considering the timing of previous realignments, 1968, 1980 and 1992-4, the timing also suggests that the opportunity is ripe. Also, the realignment will clearly come from Independents, not disaffected Republicans, as Jerome first envisioned several months ago, and as I have also documented as well. As Ruy Teixiera has called it, the opportunity before us is the Indycrat realignment.

This is it. This is our chance--our once in a generation window. If we keep Bush's approval low, results like we saw for Paul Hackett on August 2nd and across the country on November 8th will become the norm. Apart from withdrawal, I'm not even sure we need a major platform adjustment or roll-out. People pretty much already know what we stand for. As long as they grow convinced that Bushism doesn't work, they will come over to our side.

This is the scenario that we must have. I have been repeating over and over again that impeachment is not that important, that it could even be counterproductive if there's not a public clamor for it. Yes, it would tarnish Bush's reputation, but that ship has already sailed, in case you hadn't noticed. Assuming Democrats retake the House next year (possible but far from inevitable), I'm guessing that by the time impeachment proceedings forced Bush out one way or another, and assuming that Cheney is gone as well and has not been replaced, then yes, we could shave a year off of Bush's term. Big whoop.

What's important is not getting rid of Bush; what's important is getting rid of the Republicans, or at the very least shattering their current stranglehold on power. And for that to happen, Bush must be synonymous with Republicans in voters' minds. I hope Chris is right about Bush being the face of the Republican party, because as things get worse for him, Republicans are going to start trying harder and harder to distance themselves from him. It's going to be up to their Democratic opponents to keep reminding voters of all the times Senator Dubya-Doesn't-Speak-For-Me (R-Weaselvania) stood with Dubya and said he could do no wrong, and voted for every single one of his disastrous policies. The same goes for capitulators like Lieberman and Biden and Landrieu, because we need an effective, voting majority, not just a nominal one.

As Chris says, it's up to the Democrats to capitalize on this golden opportunity. Will sitting back and letting the Republicans implode be enough? It might be, but why leave it to chance? If the roles were reversed, the Republicans would be merrily kicking us in the crotch, so why not return the favor? Reid gets this, and Dean gets this, but the Democratic party is still full of Shrums and Braziles and DLC sellouts who don't. We have to win the battle for the soul of the Democratic party before we can even begin to fight the battle for the soul of the country.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Friday Quote & Foot Blogging

Going to stretch the format a little bit today, and use a book quote instead of a movie quote, and use, um, slightly hairy feet instead of cats.

Other than that, it's all perfectly normal, business as usual.

"Books... were merely nodes in a near-infinite matrix of information that exists in four dimensions, evolving toward the idea of the concept of the approximation of the shadow of Truth vertically through time as well as longitudinally through knowledge."

This is the realization of one of the main characters in Dan Simmons' Olympos (sequel to Ilium), as he is drowned in a crystal cabinet of golden knowledge near the ceiling of a giant Taj Mahal replica on top of Mount Everest, which he got to via a giant Eiffel-Tower cablecar network.

And of course, there'll be feet. You can thank Attaturk and watertiger's new joint venture, Rising Hegemon -- After Dark, with its soon-to-be-recurring "Feet Of The Blogosphere" feature. I have taken several pictures in various peductive poses, and I now realize that my feet are extremely ugly.

This is pretty much the only picture of my feet that doesn't make me kinda... queasy. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Bush's Top Secret Avian Flu Plan Revealed

I have managed to obtain a highly classified copy of the Bush administration's strategy for countering a potential avian flu epidemic.

Phase 1: Invade Turkey.

Phase 2: Invade Geese.

Phase 3: Bomb Parrots and Chicken Itza into smithereens.

Phase 4: Declare victory. Medals for everyone!

Guinea, New Guinea, and Guinea-Bissau are tiptoeing around and hoping no-one remembers they exist.

Euphemism Of The Day

From Bloomberg, by way of The All-Seeing Eye Of Froomkin:

Republican congressional leaders don't want to confront voters in an election year with hard choices such as trimming homeownership tax breaks to help abolish the alternative minimum tax, as a presidential panel has recommended, according to strategists.

I've agonized over this, and I just can't decide whether this qualifies as a euphemism or outright doublespeak. Are there any experts out there who can give me some guidance on this?

You Forgot Poll-Land!

The polling just continues to get worse and worse for the Republicans (for the life of me, I can't imagine why...). The latest train wreck is the latest NBC/WSJ poll, in which BushCo. plumbs new depths in overall (38%) and topical approval ratings.

One of the sections I found particularly interesting charts the progression of "Who would do a better job of handling ________, Democrats or Republicans?" The Democrats have taken the lead on issues that the Republicans have owned for over a decade.

o Dealing with taxes: 10% edge for the Dems after solid R's going back to 1993.

o Dealing with foreign policy: 9% edge for the Dems.
Republicans have owned since 1992.

o Dealing with Iraq: 3% edge after sizable Republican margins going back to 10/02.

o Protecting America's interests on trade issues: 10% edge after trailing since 1990. This one kinda surprised me, actually - I thought most people were already aligned with the Dems on this.

o Still trailing on "Dealing with the war on terrorism", but it's narrowed from a 36-point gap in 10/02, to 26 in 12/03, to 18 in 12/04, to 9 currently. If the Dems ever overtake the Republicans on this one, it's all over.

All in all, very encouraging. There are also some tantalizing similarities to '93-94 in the "Does your representative deserve to be re-elected" results.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Hell Hath No Fury... I Hope

This is another one of those posts where I try to crystallize some thoughts I've expressed here and there in Eschaton comments. I initially lumped it in with some post-VA/NJ election musings, but it didn't really fit there, plus it ended up being long enough to rate its own post.

As Bush's approval rating drills resolutely towards the Earth's core, one of the interesting trends has been the erosion of his support among his own party. While still inexplicably high, it has dropped noticeably, from 89% to 77% since the start of the year, according to Pew.

So, assuming more Republican voters manage to piss the remaining Bush Kool-Aid out of their systems, is the backlash against him going to be worse than it would be for, say, George The First? Bush has achieved a truly scary level of trust from those who believe him to be a righteous, religious man - will their disappointment be magnified into anger by this added layer of deception?

Bush has not only lied about his policies, but he has lied about WHO HE IS. If they ever pierce the veil of lies, I think the evangelicals who still have some shred of sanity left may well react like jilted, deceived lovers, rather than just constituents whose elected representatives have let them down yet again (I mean, what can you expect from politicians, right?).

Again, of course, the key to all this is to connect a discredited Bush to Republican candidates in 2006 & 2008. Remind the voters of every time they stood by him and vouched for his sincerity and character while he smirked and lied about everything. Remind them that the Republicans are accomplices.

And if some primary challengers want to use this same strategy against, say, Joe Biden and/or Joe Lieberman, well, I'd be willing to look the other way. Hell, I might even be persuaded to slip them a few bucks on the down-low.

Door, Meet Ass

Good riddance to bad rubbish:

The New York Times and Judith Miller, a veteran reporter for the paper, reached an agreement today that ends her 28-year career at the newspaper and caps more than two weeks of negotiations.


Lawyers for Ms. Miller and the paper negotiated a severance package, the details of which they would not disclose. Under the agreement, Ms. Miller will retire from the newspaper, and The Times will print a letter she wrote to the editor explaining her position. Ms. Miller originally demanded that she be able to write an essay for the paper's Op-Ed page challenging the allegations against her. The Times refused that demand - Gail Collins, editor of the editorial page, said, "We don't use the Op-Ed page for back and forth between one part of the paper and another" - but agreed to let her write the letter.

In that letter, to be published in The New York Times on Thursday under the heading, "Judith Miller's Farewell," Ms. Miller said she was leaving partly because some of her colleagues disagreed with her decision to testify in the C.I.A. leak case.

"But mainly," she wrote, "I have chosen to resign because over the last few months, I have become the news, something a New York Times reporter never wants to be."

She noted that even before going to jail, she had "become a lightning rod for public fury over the intelligence failures that helped lead our country to war." She said she regretted "that I was not permitted to pursue answers' to questions about those intelligence failures."

Poor, persecuted Judy. Such poignant regrets. She doesn't even get a chance to find the real killers.

Whatever happened to a simple old-fashioned, "You're fired"? Or even, "We've decided to go in a different direction"?

I wish they would.

Virginia Monologue

Some thoughts and questions inspired by the outcome of the VA and NJ gubernatorial elections:

Didn't the pre-election polling in both states make both elections look pretty close? And yet the reality ended up being pretty overwhelmingly Democrat. Is there any underlying message we can divine from this? When we had the exact opposite discrepancy in 2004, I assumed that it reflected voter turnout, which can't be adequately predicted by phone polling.

So does this mean that the Democrats won the turnout battle in VA & NJ? Does it mean that Democratic voters are becoming more energized and Republican ones more demoralized? Or is this just what elections look like without concerted tampering or voter suppression efforts?

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Oh. Nevermind.

Sorry, got excited there for a second when I saw the NYT headline, "G.O.P. Leaders Seek Inquiry on Leaks of Government Secrets," but it was just about the revelation about the secret overseas torture prisons.

Senator Bill Frist of Tennessee, the Senate majority leader, and Speaker J. Dennis Hastert of Illinois wrote in a letter to intelligence committee chairmen that leaking such information "could have long-term and far-reaching damaging and dangerous consequences" for the security of the United States.

The letter, to Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas, and his House counterpart, Representative Peter Hoekstra of Michigan, both Republicans, complained that the leaking of classified information by government employees appeared to have increased, "establishing a dangerous trend that, if not addressed swiftly and firmly, likely will worsen."

I don't see what they're getting so worked up about. This leak business just looks like good old-fashioned hardball politics to me. Besides, everyone already knew about the secret torture prisons anyway.

And need I mention that the administration has already established a clear precedent on just exactly how to address security leaks "swiftly and firmly"?

Monday, November 07, 2005

Monday MP3 Blogging

Four-year-old twins, The Humbards, singing "I've Found A Hiding Place."

Horrible, just horrible.
If you feel like screaming and beating your head against a wall by the one minute mark, do not worry, this is completely normal. Refrain from hurting yourself and instead hurt others by turning up VERY LOUD and pretend to feel the glory and power of the twins.
Thanks (sort of) to

Questions For Republicans

Just a couple of very similar questions I'd like to ask:

1) If our electoral process is completely untainted (or if Democrats are the only ones who are cheating), why are you opposed to election reform? Wouldn't you want to prove that our elections are as clean and aboveboard as you know them to be?

2) If the US is not torturing anyone, why are Bush and Cheney pushing to either defeat the anti-torture resolution, or to add an exemption for the CIA? Why oppose a law that forbids something you're not doing?

I eagerly await cogent, well-reasoned responses devoid of spin and talking points.

I Am So Sick Of This Excuse

As the heat has turned up on the Plame investigation and the increasingly-obvious dodginess of the pre-war intelligence used to justify the invasion of Iraq, I am seeing a revival of the "Everyone thought Saddam had WMDs; even Clinton thought so!" canard.

I just want to point out two things that these arguments oh-so-conveniently overlook:

1) Assuming Jonah Goldberg's cutesy little gotcha piece is representative, Clinton's belief in Saddam's WMDs is past-tense, as his sanctions and inspections were instrumental in eliminating them. It's a bit like Truman using FDR's warnings about Hitler as a rationale to invade Germany in 1947 ("Even FDR thought Germany was a threat!").

2) The "everyone" who thought Saddam had WMDs was not privy to all the CIA warnings and caveats about Saddam's alleged WMDs, including those about the unreliability of sources like Chalabi, "Curveball", and al-Libi, who the administration nevertheless relied heavily upon in building their case for war. This, to me, is far more damning than the timeshift dodge, because it speaks directly to the Bush administration's fundamental duplicity. It knowingly promoted flawed intel while suppressing knowledge of said flaws, then used the wool-pulling result of its own deceptions as the cover of consensus.

If this doesn't come crashing down around Bush and the Republicans, this country is in deep, deep trouble. I estimate our chances are 50-50 at best (see previous post on the parlous paucity of the pauper press).

Not Sure If This Is Good Or Bad...

Howie Kurtz leads today's Media Notes column with examples of how the press's diminished reputation and credibility is beginning to have a concrete effect: staffing cuts.

The journalism business is suffering from a double-barreled depression that stretches far beyond the travails of a single paper. If the industry were a person, a shrink would prescribe Prozac.

The methods and ethics of reporters, and their coziness with unnamed sources, is under attack as never before, just as mounting financial woes are prompting top news organizations to agonize over why their audience continues to shrink. Anyone who thinks these trends are unconnected hasn't spent time in a newsroom lately.

The indictment of Lewis "Scooter" Libby over his you-didn't-get-this-from-me discussions with Tim Russert, Matt Cooper and Miller has dramatized the sagging reputation of reporters. Rather than digging out vital information, they are seen as conduits for political sniping and worse. The poster children for the press right now are Miller and Robert Novak, who has refused to discuss why he helped two senior administration officials in the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame.

As Michael Hiltzik of the Los Angeles Times writes: "The Libby indictment shows that this administration has made monkeys of the Washington press corps by playing on its desire for access, for party chatter, for being on the inside looking out instead of the outside looking in."

(insert brief pause for wankery about how the Iraq war wasn't the press's fault because the administration was so gosh-darn determined to invade that an informed public wouldn't have made a lick of difference)

While this debate rages, the industry's own news has been relentlessly downbeat. The Philadelphia Inquirer just lost 15 percent of its editorial staff to buyouts and isn't guaranteeing that others can keep their beats, prompting veteran reporter Daniel Rubin to write: "We're having so many meetings, it's a wonder we can get the paper out." The Boston Globe is dismantling its national staff. Nearly 12 percent of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's editorial staff just accepted buyouts. The Baltimore Sun has closed two of its five foreign bureaus, shrunk its Washington bureau from 15 to seven and laid off columnist Jules Witcover. Knight Ridder's largest shareholder called last week for the sale of the company. Goldman Sachs says this "is shaping up as the industry's worst year" since the 2001 recession.

Of course, most newspapers still make plenty of money, just not enough to satisfy Wall Street. But the net effect is a downsizing wave that will hurt the core product.

While it's great from a schadenfreude perspective that the media are beginning to reap what their complicit laziness has sown, I'm having trouble getting excited about them cutting their reportorial resources back even more, since lack of actual reporting is what got them and the country into their respective messes in the first place. So even if the media really has learned its lesson, does it still have the manpower to do anything about it?

I can't help but wonder if this is all part of a master plan to provide the media a permanent alibi for not doing their jobs, but a conspiracy theory is probably not necessary when simple incompetence and small-mindedness is explanation enough (See: Hurricane Katrina, President Bush, and black people).

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Bush & Powell, Al Qaeda Collaborators

I'm seeing a lot of buzz about this NYT article here:
A top member of Al Qaeda in American custody was identified as a likely fabricator months before the Bush administration began to use his statements as the foundation for its claims that Iraq trained Al Qaeda members to use biological and chemical weapons, according to newly declassified portions of a Defense Intelligence Agency document.

The document, an intelligence report from February 2002, said it was probable that the prisoner, Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, “was intentionally misleading the debriefers’’ in making claims about Iraqi support for Al Qaeda’s work with illicit weapons.

The document provides the earliest and strongest indication of doubts voiced by American intelligence agencies about Mr. Libi’s credibility. Without mentioning him by name, President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Colin L. Powell, then secretary of state, and other administration officials repeatedly cited Mr. Libi’s information as “credible’’ evidence that Iraq was training Al Qaeda members in the use of explosives and illicit weapons.

Among the first and most prominent assertions was one by Mr. Bush, who said in a major speech in Cincinnati in October 2002 that “we’ve learned that Iraq has trained Al Qaeda members in bomb making and poisons and gases.’’


In outlining reasons for its skepticism, the D.I.A. report noted that Mr. Libi’s claims lacked specific details about the Iraqis involved, the illicit weapons used and the location where the training was to have taken place.

“It is possible he does not know any further details; it is more likely this individual is intentionally misleading the debriefers,’’ the February 2002 report said. “Ibn al-Shaykh has been undergoing debriefs for several weeks and may be describing scenarios to the debriefers that he knows will retain their interest.’’

Mr. Powell relied heavily on accounts provided by Mr. Libi for his speech to the United Nations Security Council on Feb. 5, 2003, saying that he was tracing “the story of a senior terrorist operative telling how Iraq provided training in these weapons to Al Qaeda.’’

The prevailing reaction that I've seen to this story is that it proves that the administration knowingly misled the public about the intelligence justifying the invasion of Iraq, which is certainly true. But what's even more disturbing to me is that this article very strongly suggests that al Qaeda wanted us to invade Iraq (presumably because they knew it would become precisely the terrorist recruiting, breeding, and training ground that it now is), the administration knew that they wanted us to invade Iraq, and they went ahead and did it anyway. I for one would be very very wary of doing anything that al Qaeda wanted me to do, but BushCo. was positively enthusiastic about it.

So, so far, we have evidence that the invasion served the interests of Israel, Iran, and now al Qaeda, but no evidence at all that it served the interests of the United States. BushCo. got played by everybody, and by extension, so did we.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

3D Loot!

And here is some of my three-dimensional loot, with special emphasis on the Full Moon figurines I purchased in my bid to become an executive producer.

The Blade and The Tunneler, from the Puppet Master movies.

The Killer Pimp from Blood Dolls. Feather, knife, and Pimp Sceptre are all removable. Not sure about the cow-pattern platform shoes...

It's, um, the lamp in my bedroom. And some happy wrapping paper. Mrs. Lamp is in the living room. Posted by Picasa

2D Loot!

Inspired by the various Worst Album Covers Of All Time posts floating around, and the truly amazing toy photo collection that Phila linked to, I felt compelled to offer up my own pathetically inadequate contributions to the genre. I have arbitrarily decided to divvy them up between two-dimensional and three-dimensional kitschy loot.

All credit to the shadowy and mysterious Codename V. for spotting the album covers at the South Side Goodwill store, but the plaque is all me.

A very daring and provocative cover, I must say! Black and white and color!

From the back of the Woody Simmons album, and the point at which I became convinced Woody was not a guy (turns out I was right)...

The Archers are apparently from The Eighties Future, and are ready to blast off in their Big Art Deco rocket just as soon as they finish their sultry pose-down. Well, Blue and Pink are kinda sultry; Red just looks kinda baffled. Apparently Hands In Jacket Pockets = Sultry; Hands In Pants Pockets = Baffled. I must try to keep this in mind, no matter how hot it gets in the summer.

There's really not a whole lot I can add to this. It's just... horrible. So I had to have it. Posted by Picasa

Friday, November 04, 2005

Friday Quote & Cat Blogging

Today's quote:

"Anyway, it's not certain that we will die, and if we do, it's not certain that they'll be hideous deaths."

Tim Robbins attempting to give a pep talk to his fellow Vikings in Erik The Viking, and failing rather miserably.

And of course, there'll be other people's cats...

The Shadowy & Mysterious Codename F. uses her wily chameleonic powers to blend into the linoleum. Posted by Picasa

Oy And Double Oy

Two more nuggets of Dubyific horribleness from Newsweek, by way of The All-Seeing Eye Of Froomkin:

President Bush last week appointed nine campaign contributors, including three longtime fund-raisers, to his Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, a 16-member panel of individuals from the private sector who advise the president on the quality and effectiveness of U.S. intelligence efforts. After watching the fate of Michael Brown as head of FEMA and Harriet Miers as Supreme Court nominee, you might think the president would be wary about the appearance of cronyism -- especially with a critical national-security issue such as intelligence.

(Which reminds me to offer a parenthetical apology for not commenting on Brownie's inexplicable and inappropriate sartorial e-mails, but really, what could I possibly add to that?)

But wait, it gets worse (from a separate item in the same Newsweek column):

One Argentine reporter told the president that sources in Argentina'’s government suggested they would ask Bush for more help in dealing with the IMF. Bush’'s response: "Please don'’t tell me that the government leaks secrets about conversations," he began to joke. When the reporter insisted that he had his own sources, the president quipped "You do? OK, well, I'’m not going to ask you who they are, of course." In case anyone missed the reference, Bush helpfully explained: “"Inside joke here, for my team."

It’'s not the first time the president has sounded so, well, insensitive before a foreign trip. Just before his visit to Denmark in July, Bush was interviewed by Danish TV. As a softball final question, the Danish reporter asked what he was looking forward to most about visiting Copenhagen. Bush struggled to answer, explaining that he wouldn’'t have time to be a tourist, before ending with this: "I'’m looking forward to a good night’'s sleep on the soil of a friend."

(That would make it... the night soil of a friend, right?)

Makes your heart just swell with pride, doesn't it? Makes you want to point to him and shout to the heavens, "That's my president! God, I love him so!"


Thursday, November 03, 2005


On my overall "People I Respect" rankings, Kevin "K-Fed" Spears, er, Federline is way down near the bottom, maybe a notch or two below Paris Hilton and a notch or two above Kobe Bryant.

So, naturally I enjoyed the rather choice mockery from the NY Daily News's Lowdown gossip column:

A track titled "Y'all Ain't Ready" - from Mr. Britney Spears' as-yet-unreleased hip-hop album - has hit the World Wide Web.

In the song, the 27-year-old father of three boasts about his status-heavy marriage, his notoriety and his sales ambitions, and even demands that we call him, well, "Daddy."

To wit: "Back then they called me K-Fed/ But you can call me Daddy instead."

Over a crude beat, Daddy raps: "Go ahead and say whatcha wanna/ I'm gonna sell about 2 mil, oh, then I'm a goner ... I know you all wish you was in my position/Cause I keep gettin' in situations that you wish you was in, cousin ... Steppin' in this game and y'all ain't got a clue ... Getting anxious? Go take a peep/ I'm starrin' in your magazines now every day and week ... But maybe baby you can wait and see/ Until then all these Pavarottis followin' me."

To be fair, "paparazzi" is a very difficult word to pronounce if you're an unemployed backup dancer from Fresno.

Daddy's debut was greeted by a chorus of scathing reviews.

"That's not hot," wrote one Internet critic. "My ears are bleeding," noted another. "You're sure this isn't something off Vanilla Ice's 'Hard to Swallow' album?" asks a third. "I'm about ready to start shaving stripes in my eyebrows."

Neither reps for Daddy nor, for that matter, Mommy - who reportedly laughed derisively when she heard the track - responded to Lowdown's detailed messages.

I think the last paragraph is my favorite.

Yes. Yes, it is. That, and calling photographers "Pavarottis." BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Because I Am Soon To Be An Executive Producer...

I have this idea for a movie about gambling in outer space... I would call it Starship Croupiers.

(I considered a movie about space fish called Starship Groupers, but I'm pretty sure it would be crappie)

I figure I could also make some extra cash marketing the outtakes as a separate film, Starship Bloopers.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

I Guess We Did Hear That Right...

For those of us who watched the Bills-Pats game on ESPN, or perhaps for those who didn't, an assist from the NY Daily News:

Since NFL refs first used wireless microphones to broadcast penalty calls there have been some strange announcements. However, none more bizarre than the one voiced by Ron Winter Sunday night during the first quarter of ESPN's Bills-Pats cablecast.

With 8:55 left, Winter, calling a penalty against New England, turned on his microphone and said: "Delay of game - defense. Performing an unnatural act, not common to the game, in an attempt to get the offense to false start."

The next sound was laughter coming out of ESPN's booth.

"That (Winter's call) sounded obscene to me," Paul Maguire said.

Too bad Winter wasn't around to describe Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction.

This easily eclipses my previous favorite, where a ref explained that a penalty was for "giving [another player] the business."

How can anyone not love football???

Weirdy Allen

Not really a whole lot I can add to this. Just... wow.

Woody Allen may be Soon-Yi Previn's husband, but he's still her daddy. "It's got a more paternal feeling to it," the reclusive director tells Vanity Fair of his once-scandalous romance.


Allen, soon to be 70 years old, now calls Farrow's discovery of his nude pictures of Soon-Yi "one of the great pieces of luck in my life."

"All the women I went out with were basically my age," he says. "Now, here, it just works like magic. The very inequality of me being older and much more accomplished, much more experienced, takes away any real meaningful conflict."

Umm... Okay, dude. Whatever turns you on. That's one couple I would really hate to have dinner with. And I really like dinner.

More Fitzbits

Just a couple of thoughts that occurred to me as I was talking to a coworker about the Plame investigation:

1) How is it that there doesn't appear to be any criminal statute that simply covers revealing classified information, regardless of intent? Also, law aside, how many employees could avoid being fired for revealing confidential information with the excuse that they didn't know it was confidential? I know if I tried that with my boss, the response would be, "You should have checked.

(Note: I don't buy that that this is actually the case here. It seems highly unlikely that Libby did not know Plame was covert. I believe Josh Marshall pointed out that Libby knew that her counterproliferation group was under the Directorate Of Operations, which is Spyworld, plus if he was on that Air Force Two flight with the memo about her, there's a good chance he saw the notation that explicitly stated that her identity was secret.)

2) What would have happened if Novak declined to report that Plame was CIA? Would Rove & Libby have just shrugged and said, "Oh well, we did our best to out a covert operative for cheap political payback, but it was just not to be," or would they have just kept shopping it around to progressively less scrupulous "journalists" until a Drudge or Limbaugh or Coulter or Hannity or Malkin (Phew! There sure are a lot of them, aren't there?) took the bait? Would they trust them to display the same kind of *snort* journalistic integrity as Judy Miller? *snicker* Would they have paid Armstrong Williams or one of their fake news anchors to get the word out? Held a press conference? What?

Update: I talked to my coworker again, and he suggested that they simply would have searched for new ways to slander Wilson, once their first choice (treason is always the first option that comes to my mind, but I'm a liberal) fell through.

Crazy As An Althouse Rat

So I see Ann Althouse, one of those phony "reasonable moderates," has an op-ed piece in the New York Times today telling us crazy hysterical liberals not to get our panties in a bunch just because Alito has a teensy-weensy handful of oh-so-insignificant batshit insane court rulings under his belt. In fact, this whole "Scalito" nickname thing is just as terribly unfair as when Justices Burger and Blackmun were lumped together just because they were both from Minnesota (oh yes, this is just exactly like that, isn't it...).

Her sole piece of evidence to "prove" that Alito is more liberal than Scalia is their interpretation of the First Amendment's protections of religion. Scalia wrote the Employment Division v. Smith decision which ruled that "neutral, generally applicable" laws cannot be considered infringements on religious rights.

Ah, but Alito found loopholes that allowed him to rule in favor of Muslim policemen whose religion obligated them to grow beards, and "a Lakota Indian who claimed he derived spiritual powers from two black bears." This is all very well and good, but does it really prove that he's not a conservative extremist, or merely that he defers to religion wherever possible? It's admirable that he would be so accommodating to non-Christians, but it's not much of a stretch to believe that he was thinking of precedents for future cases where Christian spiritual practices are being infringed. I must admit, it's hard for me to imagine any law infringing on Christians ever getting passed anywhere, but why take chances?

After getting her, ahem, substantive argument out of the way, she then proceeds to the real wanking:

Yes, chances are that a Justice Alito will please conservatives more often than liberals. Doubtless, many liberals will anguish over Judge Alito's opinion, in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, that would have upheld a law requiring that husbands be notified when their wives seek abortions. Still, they should give serious study to his record; they may discover that there are varieties of judicial conservatives, just as there are varieties of political conservatives, and that Samuel Alito is not Antonin Scalia.

Well, that certainly puts my mind at ease.

In a more general sense, President Bush should be commended for nominating someone with so substantial a judicial record. In the decades since the defeat of Robert Bork's nomination, presidents have unfortunately tended toward "stealth" nominees out of fear that actual evidence of the person's jurisprudence would only give ammunition to his opponents.

Oh yeah, nominating an in-your-face nutzoid conservative is ever so much more noble than nominating a stealth nutzoid conservative. Huzzah.

Those Democrats who are already insisting that Judge Alito's record on the bench makes him unacceptable should keep in mind that someday they, too, will have a president with a Supreme Court seat to fill, and it would serve the country well if that president wasn't forced to choose only among candidates with no paper trail. To oppose Judge Alito because his record is conservative is to condemn us to a succession of bland nominees and to deprive future presidents of the opportunity to choose from the men and women who have dedicated long years to judicial work.

So, if I'm reading this correctly, Ann is advocating that both sides nominate only ideological extremists instead of boring, "bland" moderates? I guess it doesn't trouble her that this would turn the Supreme Court into something resembling a nine-member Senate, except of course that it would wield absolute power over the other two branches of government, and all the members would be appointed for life rather than being periodically accountable to the voting public.

Oh well, different strokes for different folks, I suppose. At least we wouldn't have any more of that annoying suspense about how the Supreme Court might rule in any given case, right?