Tuesday, January 31, 2006

I Just Don't Get It. And I'm Pissed.

I know I'm not the only person perplexed and pissed off about this, but I wanted to get it off my chest nonetheless:

WHY did the Senate Democrats cave on Alito when the President's approval ratings are in the toilet? What possible political price did they think they would pay for standing up to an unpopular president?

Worse yet, do they not realize just how much this craven capitulation would disgust and alienate their base? When the Democrats are up for election this year and in 2008, what are they going to campaign on if they can't even say they opposed the Republicans? Are they just going to say that they'll carry out the Republican agenda more competently and efficiently?

I think this was a huge mistake on every level. They've allowed a weak president to push through a hard-right Supreme Court nominee who will sit on the Court for the next 30-40 years. They've (once again) sacrificed their credibility as an opposition party. And when the Alito appointment starts bearing bitter and oppressive fruit, they've forfeited the right to beat the Republicans over the head with him. As with the invasion of Iraq, how can they make an aggressive campaign issue out of something/someone THEY THEMSELVES VOTED FOR?

I just don't understand their thinking, I really don't. I suppose it could be fear of the "nuclear option," but if they never filibuster for fear of the nuclear option, then the nuclear option is already in effect. But by not forcing the issue, they let the Republicans avoid paying any political price at all, either for imposing it, or for conveniently repealing it the second that Democrats retake control of the White House and Senate. Should such a thing ever actually happen.

The only other reason I can think of is some misguided notion of collegiality - that the President is entitled to a large measure of deference in his judicial nominations, but that's just plain stupid. The Republicans have declared war on the Democrats, the Constitution, and most of the American people, and the Democrats still think they're playing a genteel game of badminton or croquet. And they act surprised each time they get kicked in the nuts.

Getting back to electoral considerations: Who do you really think most Americans are going to vote for? The party that fights dirty, or the party that doesn't fight at all? Or, at best, the party that sometimes fights sort-of-halfheartedly if thousands of people scream and yell at them and light their shorts on fire?

It angers and depresses me to see all the dedicated and passionate progressives phoning, writing, and e-mailing their hearts out, trying to influence a sad-sack party establishment that brushes us aside time and time again. It's like watching a swarm of ants and mosquitos trying to turn aside a blind elephant (or very large donkey, as the case may be) lumbering towards the edge of a cliff. Don't get me wrong; I'm very glad that our tribe is fighting - I just wish we didn't have to fight for the attention of our own fucking party. I'll continue voting Democrat and try to do what I can, but only because there is no other viable alternative.

Alito really was it for me - I have lost the last of what little faith I had left in the Democratic party. I now think it's a distinct possibility that they will lose seats this year, and just like in 2002 and 2004, they won't know why. But I will.

Monday, January 30, 2006


Useless bloody wankers didn't even try to make it look good.

Once again, the Democrats gleefully embrace their identity as the party of ineffectual chumps. Thanks a lot, guys. Way to keep that flame of democracy burning. I'm sure all you spineless, clueless Dems who voted for cloture will actually have the nerve to brag about how you voted against Alito's confirmation when you run for re-election, too. I hope you're all up against junkyard-dog Paul Hackett clones in your primaries, 'cause they will call you on that bullshit and rip your shit UP.

(Um, can some Dem scientist get to work on an army of Hackett clones ASAP? Or maybe an army of Wellstone clones with some Clinton charisma DNA grafted in? That would be ever so keen, thanks.)

In other news, American Idol gets more popular every year.

I can't help but think that these two stories are somehow related...

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Patriotic NYC Photoblogging

Ahh, patriotic icons. I gotcher George W. (the good one), and even an American flag! Please put your hand over your heart and hum The Star-Spangled Banner to yourself. Make sure no-one's around when you get to the "and the rockets red glare" part unless you are a trained soprano.

I wanted to reprise this picture of George W. fending off the paparazzi I took for my high school NYC slideshow, but the vantage point I needed was under construction (res tells me it's structural damage from 9/11).

George W. in a contemplative mood.

Does using Photoshop count as flag desecration? Posted by Picasa

Hello From Amtrak!

I got nothin', really. But hey, my train is stopped somewhere in the middle of PA where there's a tenuous unsecured wireless network (there's also a secured one called "Aidan=Dumbass", which I think is absolutely brilliant), so I figured I might as well check in to say that I have nothing to say.

I should have lots of NYC photoblogging (I took 444 shots yesterday), and some Pittsburgh photoblogging as well when I get home.

Did I mention I'm on a train?

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Early Friday Quote & Cat Blogging

Going to be away from the internets again most of tomorrow, so I figured I should get the Friday Quote & Cat Blogging out of the way tonight.

This week's quote:

"Don't upset me, Steve - unless you want to make me less horny."

From A Night At The Roxbury, the cheesy but-but-IMHO-underrated SNL movie based on the recurring sketch with Will Ferrell, Chris Kattan, and whoever the host is, bobbing their necks unnaturally, crashing various parties and driving around with Haddaway's "What Is Love?" playing continuously.

And, of course, there'll be cats. Sort of.

Now, who does he remind me of... Posted by Picasa

Cranky TravAlito Blogging

Been travelling (9 hours on a train), so not much opportunity for blogging - currently lounging around my Dad's house playing Mambo Kurt and Richard Cheese for my little sister. Probably won't be around much until Sunday night.

I was going to ask whether it was possible that the Senate Democrats are playing possum on Alito, softpedaling the filibuster talk so as to catch the Republicans off guard, without a chance to disseminate their talking points in advance. But if Byrd (and Tim Johnson) is on board with Alito, I don't think a filibuster's going to happen.

I just don't understand why - what are they seeing in him that I'm not? Please tell me they're not thinking "Once the American people see a Republican Supreme Court in action, they'll finally understand what's at stake!", because, um, by that point it's kinda too late. Even if it propels them to control of Congress and the White House, the Republicans have assured themselves of 30-40 years of veto power by the judicial branch. Sure, there'll be some entertainment value watching the Republicans explain how it's not judicial activism when their guys do it, but I'd really rather just watch Family Guy.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006


I'm not sure if anyone remembers this post from last June, about how when I take photographs of orange things, they tend to... disappear, or things around them do.

Well, I recently learned that this phenomenon appears to work in reverse (inverse? converse? contrapositive?) as well.

Remember the naked bankers?

Well, they're gone. Replaced by something... orange (Orange isn't even Parkvale's color! All their other stuff is green!).

But, on the plus side, I totally found out where the HOT SEX is.

Like I said... Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Are We Not Crap?

There. Is. No. God.

Hat tip to Bill... I think.

Spot The Looney

Yes, it's the exciting home game of the popular British gameshow, Spot The Looney!

See if you can Spot The Looney among these six New York Times letters to the editor!

*peppy-yet-contemplative Spot The Looney musical interlude*

If you answered "Letter Number Six, by Andre Huzsvai," you have correctly Spotted The Looney! Well done! You win a lifetime supply of saucepans and rubber tubing!

It is impossible not to agree with William Saletan that abortion is bad. Contrary to the popular belief, it is not a judgment forced on us by the "Christian right"; it is not even a religious issue per se, merely that of basic fairness, decency and humanness.

No cultures known to mankind, including non-Christian and pre-Christian ones, would have allowed the mere thought of killing a new life in the mother's womb.

With life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as core rights, the right of a fetus to be born clearly trumps the mother's liberty to choose otherwise.

Alas, discussion is of no use. The solutions offered by Mr. Saletan will lead to nowhere for a very simple reason: abortion is far more than a "choice" as professed by its advocates; it is the only ace card of the feminist establishment in asserting power in the face of male "chauvinist" dominance, and it will fight tooth and nail to the last to preserve it.

I'm not sure if I've just won at Spot The Looney, or failed miserably at Spot The Parody... It's just so damned hard to tell the difference these days.

Wednesday Saintblogging

More fun with St. Bartholomew, the patron saint of lazy photographers.

I knew yelling "HEY!!!" really loud just before every shot would pay off eventually...

...And a slightly different angle. No birds, tho. Posted by Picasa

Monday, January 23, 2006

Republicans Vs. Democracy In 2006

"Editorial Observer" du jour Adam Cohen had an interesting piece about Alexis de Tocqueville's "Democracy In America" (which I really must get around to reading someday) in today's NYT, and how even 170 years later, it still illuminates the American character, and the reasons for both fear and hope about American democracy's future:
He worried that the state's power would end up concentrated in a single authority, until its citizens were "reduced to nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd." He feared the majority would trample on minorities, like the mob that attacked the Baltimore editors, or the whites of Pennsylvania who intimidated blacks into not voting. And he was concerned about tyranny of opinion, saying he knew of no country with "less independence of mind and true freedom of discussion" than America.

Tocqueville pointed to some bulwarks against tyranny. He was a firm supporter of checks and balances. He believed in the power of American law to limit the excesses of the ruler - the exact issue in today's debate over the warrantless wiretapping of American citizens. He had great hopes for the judiciary. "The courts correct the aberrations of democracy," he wrote, and "though they can never stop the movements of the majority, they do succeed in checking and directing them." Tocqueville would not be surprised that the Supreme Court has limited the Bush administration's excesses in the war on terror - or that the administration has been eager to nominate justices with an expansive view of presidential power.

Tocqueville would not have been distracted by all the talk that warrantless wiretaps, indefinite detainment of enemy combatants and other civil liberties incursions are serving the cause of freedom. He understood that the newest incarnation of despotism was likely to be ushered in by the "avowed lover of liberty" who is a "hidden servant of tyranny."

Nor, though, would he be likely to despair. One reason "Democracy in America" has remained so popular is that despite his fears, Tocqueville remained nervously optimistic about democracy. He knew that the kind of equality that had taken hold in America could lead to tyranny, but he also believed that it gave people a "taste for free institutions," which would lead them to resist. Equality "insinuates deep into the heart and mind of every man some vague notion and some instinctive inclination toward political freedom," he insisted, "thereby preparing the antidote for the ill which it has produced."

I believe it is time for the Democrats to put that last statement to the test. Make the 2006 election a referendum on the rule of law, the Constitution, and Democracy itself. Make an issue of the Constitutional ramifications of unchecked, illegal spying. Talk about the corruption and rot the Abramoff case has exposed in the legislature. Hang Alito's hard-right, extremist views around their necks like a millstone whether he's confirmed or not (if he is confirmed, this millstone will be a lot more substantial... but that's not really a good thing).

If possible, tie it all together with the unifying theme that the Republicans have corrupted all three branches of our government, and the only way to begin cleaning it up and repairing the damage is to vote the bums out. Tell the voters, over and over again, "If you want to live in a democracy, vote Democrat. If you want to live in a police state and spend the rest of your life jumping at your own shadow, vote Republican."

If the American people are still committed to the democratic ideal, make it as hard as possible for them to vote for Republicans. And if after all that, they still decide to vote for a police state, well, Soviet- er, I mean, so be it. They'll have made an informed choice, and as Hecate so eloquently said, they can't say we didn't warn them.

*shivers with antici... pation*

Your move, NTodd. Your move.

You will be mine, my precious. Oh yes.

(Did I mention that it's 10.2 megapixels... cut?)

UPDATE: Crap. RitzCamera is full of shit. They said they had it in stock, but it's actually back-ordered for 2-3 weeks. Wankers. At least they let me take the overnight shipping off...

Sunday, January 22, 2006

What A Strange, Strange Meme...

Ol' Froth has hit me with a rather unusual meme, which I'm kinda liking because it doesn't require me to think very hard:

1. Go into your archives.
2. Find your 23rd post.
3. Post the fifth sentence (or closest to it).
4. Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions.
5. Tag five other people to do the same thing.

Hell, I can do that...

Rick theorizes that this was used to awe citizens into deep respect for (and therefore obedience of) the priesthood.

Now, let's see... Who shall I bestow the joy of this meme upon?

1. The shadowy and mysterious Codename V.

2. NTodd.

3. Thersites.

4. NYMary.

5. watertiger.

Farewell NYC Photoblogging

Okay, that's it for NYC photoblogging. I think there might be a few good shots left (judge for yourself here and here - and if you want to go all the way back to 1987 when fisheyes roamed the earth... here), but I have to clear the decks for more Pittsburgh stuff.

It's not really the "WE ARE SLAVES" that perplexes me, so much as the #274 after it. Is this the 274th intercom they've tagged? Is this the 274th person in a vast network of intercom taggers? Is this crypto-revolutionary slogan #274? Truly, the mysteries of life are without limit.

While my plastic tubing gently bleeds...

If you liked "Tube", you'll love "Cable"!

Awned!!! Posted by Picasa

Saturday, January 21, 2006


More fun with Google searches that can take you to my blog:

karen hughes sexy


"boy gets eaten"

I'm not entirely convinced that they're unrelated.

Rove Nails It.

Karl Rove lays down some hard-hitting truthtelling (another hat tip to watertiger):
The GOP's progress... is a stunning political achievement. But it is also a cautionary tale of what happens to a dominant party... when its thinking becomes ossified; when its energy begins to drain; when an entitlement mentality takes over; and when political power becomes an end in itself rather than a mean to achieve the common goal.
Who knew Karl Rove was so perceptive and wise? Well, okay, he thought he was talking about the Democrats, but other than that, he really is spot-on.

Friday, January 20, 2006

What Do They Tell Themselves?

The spineless, conciliatory, triangulating, go-along-to-get-along Democrats like Dianne Feinstein, Ben Nelson, Hillary Clinton, Joe Lieberman, Joe Biden, and God knows how many others...

What do they tell themselves when Al Gore or Molly Ivins tells them to forgodsake stand up and fight for what they believe in, to fight for the Constitution, to oppose the Republicans and call them on their lies? Do they convince themselves that these people (i.e., the former two-term Vice President of the United States) simply don't understand political realities? That they must be talking about someone else? Or do they just stick their fingers in their ears and go "Lalalalalalalalalala" until the Bad Man or Bad Woman stops talking?

I just don't get it. I'd like to think that they still have some shame, that they have twinges of remorse for their vanished pride and integrity, but for the life of me, I cannot see it.

Friday Quote & Lizard Blogging

This week's quote:

"Mr. Stinky bit me! BAD Mr. Stinky!"

From Return Of The Living Dead 5: Rave To The Grave, quite possibly the greatest cheesy zombie movie of all time (hat tip to Sallyh for reminding me). Here, for no particular reason and in no particular order, are the things that make this movie great:

1) Bumbling, zombie-canister-seeking Russian henchmen who like Krispy Kreme.

2) Bumbling Russian henchmen, zombies, hippies, grenade launchers, and opera, all in one scene.

3) Bumbling Russian henchmen at a rave, dressed as scantily-clad Valkyries.

4) The normally dour Peter Coyote wearing a bizarre, fixed grin throughout his entire brief appearance (likewise in the much-weaker preceding movie, Return Of The Living Dead 4: Necropolis).

5) Mr. Stinky, the genius zombie rat. I just can't say "Mr. Stinky, the genius zombie rat" enough - it never gets old.

6) The pizza delivery zombie who is not only still carrying his last delivery, but keeps it upright at all times, even while getting his ass kicked.

7) The (presumably) horny zombie who bites a cheerleader on the ass instead of the head.

8) The gloppy skeletal canister zombie attempting to hitchhike with a crudely lettered "RAVE OR BUST" sign (with some of the letters backwards).

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

Spike in action. This was a total accident, really. Posted by Picasa

More Like This, Please.

Good stuff from an evangelical professor of religion in today's NYT:

IN the past several years, American evangelicals, and I am one of them, have amassed greater political power than at any time in our history. But at what cost to our witness and the integrity of our message?

Recently, I took a few days to reread the war sermons delivered by influential evangelical ministers during the lead up to the Iraq war. That period, from the fall of 2002 through the spring of 2003, is not one I will remember fondly. Many of the most respected voices in American evangelical circles blessed the president's war plans, even when doing so required them to recast Christian doctrine.

(Several disturbing examples follow, including a Jerry Falwell essay titled "God is pro-war")

The war sermons rallied the evangelical congregations behind the invasion of Iraq. An astonishing 87 percent of all white evangelical Christians in the United States supported the president's decision in April 2003. Recent polls indicate that 68 percent of white evangelicals continue to support the war. But what surprised me, looking at these sermons nearly three years later, was how little attention they paid to actual Christian moral doctrine. Some tried to square the American invasion with Christian "just war" theory, but such efforts could never quite reckon with the criterion that force must only be used as a last resort. As a result, many ministers dismissed the theory as no longer relevant.Some preachers tried to link Saddam Hussein with wicked King Nebuchadnezzar of Biblical fame, but these arguments depended on esoteric interpretations of the Old Testament book of II Kings and could not easily be reduced to the kinds of catchy phrases that are projected onto video screens in vast evangelical churches. The single common theme among the war sermons appeared to be this: our president is a real brother in Christ, and because he has discerned that God's will is for our nation to be at war against Iraq, we shall gloriously comply.


"Privately, in the days preceding the invasion, I had hoped that no action would be taken without United Nations authorization," [Jon Stott, according to David Brooks the closest thing to an evangelical pope] told me. "I believed then and now that the American and British governments erred in proceeding without United Nations approval." Reverend Stott referred me to "War and Rumors of War," a chapter from his 1999 book, "New Issues Facing Christians Today," as the best account of his position. In that essay he wrote that the Christian community's primary mission must be "to hunger for righteousness, to pursue peace, to forbear revenge, to love enemies, in other words, to be marked by the cross."

What will it take for evangelicals in the United States to recognize our mistaken loyalty? We have increasingly isolated ourselves from the shared faith of the global Church, and there is no denying that our Faustian bargain for access and power has undermined the credibility of our moral and evangelistic witness in the world. The Hebrew prophets might call us to repentance, but repentance is a tough demand for a people utterly convinced of their righteousness.

Essays and op-ed pieces like this are incredibly important, because I do not believe evangelicals take external criticism seriously. Coming from a non-evangelical or, worse yet, non-Christian such as myself, this sort of criticism can be dismissed as anti-religious or anti-Jesus. Of course, their own hatred and lust for blood and power makes them far more anti-Jesus than a Jewgnostic like myself.

Just as we must wait and hope for moderate Muslims to denounce their fundamentalist crazies, so too must we wait and hope for moderate Christians and evangelicals to do the same. And then hope that the calm, reasonable voices of Jesus's true followers can be heard over the insistent shouts of the false gods of intolerance and rage.

Do I Have To Explain Everything To Mr. Krugman???

Paul Krugman, by way of Atrios:
So I have a question for my colleagues in the news media: Why isn't the decision by the White House to stonewall on the largest corruption scandal since Warren Harding considered major news?
Well, if we suspend disbelief long enough to accept the premise that the media is easily distracted by shiny objects as opposed to being active collaborators in the Republican War On Truth, then the answer is quite simple:

The Bush White House stonewalling in the face of scandal is hardly newsworthy. Now, if they were open and honest about a scandal, that story would be front page all the way to Mars!


Thursday, January 19, 2006

Penultimate NYC Photoblogging

I think I'll do one more NYC post after this one, and then go back to exploring the natural wonders of Pittsburgh...

Give my regards to Roadway...

A city bus, ah, dissuaded me from my original plan of photographing the pothole up close - hooray for zoom lenses!

In retrospect, 1600 ISO and point-blank flash was probably not a smart combination, but I kinda like how it turned out. Posted by Picasa

Anybody Else Feel The Sudden Urge To Clear Some Brush?

Bin Laden Threatens Attack, Offers Truce

My favorite bit:
The United States will not let up in the war on terror despite the threats on the tape, said White House press secretary Scott McClellan. "We do not negotiate with terrorists," McClellan said. "We put them out of business."
Umm... When?

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Zork Meets Dork

Oh, this is just brilliant:

Iraqi Invasion: A Text Misadventure

(Thanks to Bill for the tip!)

Poke The Bubble

My last post got me to thinking, that the Bush White House has handed us a great agitation strategy. We need more activist groups attempting to deliver letters to the White House and having them palmed off on hazmat teams. The Republicans love to use words like "confront," and "courage," and "resolve," but whenever a Sheehan or a Cleland shows up their doorstep, Big Strong Tough Man Bush hunkers down and hides like a scared little mouse. Sadly, it's our whole country in microcosm: fear negates function.

I would just like to see what would happen to Bush's approval rating if Countdown or The Daily Show ran some footage of hazmatstronauts whisking away a letter from Max Cleland or Cindy Sheehan or Kristin Breitweiser, or some sort of "Concerned Grandmothers Against War" type organization. Or if a mainstream media outlet actually picked up on the story while their Republican Loyalty Officer was out sick or on vacation.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Bubble Madness!!!

I just wanted to highlight one particular bit of insanity that's sort of buried in watertiger's post about a "citizen's tribunal" being convened in NYC to try President Bush for war crimes.
Witnesses at the Tribunal include: former commander of Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, former British ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray who exposed the use of information gathered through torture, former arms inspector Scott Ritter, ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern, Dahr Jamail (journalist who has reported extensively from Iraq), Guantanamo prisoners' lawyer Michael Ratner, Katrina survivors, former State Department officer Ann Wright, among many more.
But that's not really the interesting part... to me, at least. This is the interesting part:
January's hearings will be the second and final session of the Commission. Indictments from the first session were formally delivered to George W. Bush at the White House on January 10. Bush's staff would not receive the indictments at the gate, saying that the president "will not accept any materials from the public." As TV cameras rolled, a hazmat squad was called in by White House personnel to remove the envelope.
A Hazmat Squad??? "Will not accept any materials from the public"? I think it's time to stop comparing our resolute, courageous Commander-In-Chief to Richard Nixon, and time to start comparing him to Howard Hughes.

Also: If TV cameras were rolling when this happened, did it get covered at all on Countdown or The Daily Show? I know it would be too much to expect any conventional media outlets to mention it, but I would think they would be all over something like this. It's got the same batshit crazy paranoid feeling as when the citizens of Grapevine, Texas were forbidden to look out of their windows to gaze upon his Royal Splendor as the imperial motorcade passed through.

Briefly-Home-For-Lunch NYC Photoblogging

Just home for a few minutes, so no time to write anything intelligent. But just enough time to post some more NYC photos!

I think I have maybe one or two more NYC posts left in me, then I can start getting caught up on Pittsburgh...

I am absolutely certain that I am the only person on earth who has ever taken this shot.

Mmm... Refuse...

See how it yearns to breathe free!

The sleek and alluring lines of the traditional NYC street vendor's cart. Posted by Picasa

Monday, January 16, 2006

Gore's Roar, The Revenge: They Get E-Mails

Here's my e-mail to CNN, for all the good it will do:
I hope you will be covering Al Gore's speech today, and that you give it more than a 15-second soundbite and a "that wacky Al Gore" shake of the head in between shark attacks and Aruba updates. A former vice president accusing a sitting president of criminality and incompetence, and the Congress and media of abdicating their responsibilities, should be big news in any universe.

Assuming that you do have some talking-head point-counterpoint analysis, I implore you to provide genuine representation for the liberal/Democrat point of view. I know it's tempting to trot out Joe Lieberman to stick a knife in his old running-mate's back, but please don't do it. If you must put "sensible" faux-liberals like Lieberman or Richard Cohen or Joe Klein up there to tut-tut about how "Al Gore is a fine man, but History has passed him by, and he is treading dangerously close to treason by not supporting the President in this time of peril," at least give some real liberals like Dean or Clark or Krugman an opportunity to rebut them.

This is very important, powerful material, and it is your duty to give it a fair hearing. I dare you.
Here goes nothin'.

Gore's Roar

Go. Read. Now.

Hopefully later on I'll have something more coherent to say about it than "BRAVO!!!" and "More like this, please."

UPDATE: Changed link to point to Hecate's post on the speech, which is also excellent, and reminds us of what's morally at stake.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

NYC Building Blogging, Part II

More architectural diversions from NYC.

More fun at Rockefeller Center...

Visibility was sometimes kinda funky.

NYC's tallest remaining building - can't really see any of the good stuff from this angle, unfortunately. I just count myself lucky I wasn't arrested on the spot... Posted by Picasa

Life In Pittsburgh

Courtesy of Ol' Froth, who heard this on his police scanner:
(car#) County, (address). Complainant says a man, possibly a teenager, came to his house dressed as a chicken.
Well, alrighty then. (I have an alibi, I swear)

Perhaps this will help you to visualize. And possibly give you nightmares for the rest of your life.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

NYC Building Blogging, Part I

Architecture! One of my favorite photographic subjects, and one of the things I was most looking forward to on my NYC photo walkabout. I don't think I had quite as much success with that side of it as I had hoped for, but I still managed to get a few shots I'm fairly satisfied with.

Hey, it kinda looks like a W. behind bars. Sweet!

I like how it looks like the window-washer is hovering in mid-air over the reflected building...

That's... asymmetrical. Posted by Picasa

Friday, January 13, 2006

Friday Quote & Cat Blogging

This week's quote:

"Who knows, if you get your tongue fixed, you could make millions of people happy."

From... The Muppet Movie, that prurient paragon of perviness. I have no recollection of what the quote means, so I'm just going to take it at face value.

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

Christmas Kitty! My step-aunt's kitty looked grumpy, but was actually kinda friendly. Or itchy. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Well, You Said You Wanted An American-Style Democracy...

The NYT editorial page is on a roll today. First they nail Alito to the wall with a nice rundown of some of his biggest red flags, and challenge allegedly "moderate" Republicans to take heed. Briefly:

"EVIDENCE OF EXTREMISM" (Praise of Bork; membership in the racist, sexist Concerned Alumni of Princeton)

"OPPOSITION TO ROE V. WADE (1985 memos; refusal to give Roe v. Wade same level of deference as Roberts did)

"SUPPORT FOR AN IMPERIAL PRESIDENCY" ("Unitary executive"; warrantless wiretaps a-okay)

"INSENSITIVITY TO ORDINARY AMERICANS" (Consistently rules against women & minorities, and in favor of corporations)

"DOUBTS ABOUT THE NOMINEE'S HONESTY" (Reneged on promise to recuse himself from cases involving mutual fund in which he had holdings; claims to not remember his membership in CAP; claims to have not really meant what he said in 1985)

Next they express concern about how the head of Iraq's fundamentalist Shi'ite party (which is firmly in control of Iraq's government) has backed away from his promise to allow significant changes to the Iraqi constitution, thus assuring the Sunnis of an opportunity to improve their standing in post-Saddam Iraq:
Mr. Hakim's latest position is a prescription for a national breakup and an endless civil war. It is also a provocative challenge to Washington, which helped broker the original promise of significant constitutional changes. On the basis of that promise, Sunni voters turned out in large numbers, both for the constitutional referendum and for last month's parliamentary vote. Drawing Sunni voters into democratic politics is vital to creating the stable, peaceful Iraq that President Bush has declared to be the precondition for an American military withdrawal. The most unacceptable defect of the new constitution for Sunnis is its provision for radically decentralizing national political and economic power, dispersing it to separate regions.

In a quirk of geology, most of Iraq's known oil deposits lie under provinces dominated by Shiites or Kurds, while the Sunni provinces of the west and north are resource-poor and landlocked. Iraq as a whole is rich enough to support all of its people relatively comfortably. But a radically decentralized Iraq would leave the Sunnis impoverished, aggrieved and desperate, driving them into the arms of radical Sunni groups in neighboring lands.

Although Sunnis are a minority in Iraq, they are an overwhelming majority in the Arab world. An irreconcilable split between Iraq's Shiites and Sunnis would leave the Shiites even more dependent than they are now on Iran and American troops.

Constitutional changes are needed in other areas as well, especially in regard to women's rights and the overly broad prohibitions against former members of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party. But decentralization is the most dangerously explosive issue right now. Mr. Hakim seems perversely determined to inflame it.
In my view, these two editorials reflect two sides of the same coin: They both show what happens when political parties represent nothing more than the naked pursuit of power instead of sincere competing visions of the country's best interests. Republicans, even moderate ones, are willing to confirm a dishonest right-wing extremist to the Supreme Court because he's a member of "their team" and can be counted on to always distort the Constitution in their favor; Shi'ites are willing to court civil war and regional isolation rather than cede any power to the Sunnis.

I have to wonder, if the political situation in this country became so volatile that the Republicans had to choose between, say, outlawing the filibuster, and the possibility of outright civil war, what decision would they make? I also have to wonder if the Iraqi Shi'ites would be making this same power play if our own ruling party showed any signs of accommodation to its opposition. My gut feeling is no, but just as the U.S. can no longer credibly condemn torture and civil rights abuses, the arrogance of our own ruling party makes it very difficult to demand more enlightened behavior from their Iraqi counterpart.

You may have noticed, I am a little ambiguous about whether the emphasis on party power over national well-being is a uniquely Republican character flaw. I wish I could say that it was, but in the world of elected officials I'm just not so sure. I see a lot of Democrats who are unwilling to rock the boat by opposing obviously damaging legislation or presidential nominees, which suggests to me that the safety and security of their own butts trumps the safety and security of anyone else's. At the voter level, it's a little harder to say. I don't think I've encountered any liberals who are more concerned with power than America's well-being, but it is unfortunately not possible to preserve or enhance that well-being without power.

If pressed, I would say that most Democratic supporters view power as a means to an end, whereas most Republican supporters view power, with its attendant opportunities for self-enrichment, as an end unto itself. And for the many Republican fans who are not personally being enriched, they seem to derive enormous satisfaction from simply being on the winning team.

(Just a side thought: Ya know, this country will be a hell of a lot healthier when voters and media stop viewing politics as just another sport...)

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Cranky NYC Photoblogging

Too aggravated by the apparent Alito mo' (well, and grocery shopping) to say much of anything articulate. So... some more NYC photos! Huzzah!

Inhabitants of the Mirror Universe take a leisurely stroll, probably discussing President Gore's latest Supreme Court nominee. Lucky bastards.

Emptiness and ennui consumes me...

If anyone needs me, I'll be sulking in my room... Posted by Picasa

Too-Late Lollipopblogging

This is more of a lament than a photoblog, really. I have a soft spot for the offbeat architecture of Two Columbus Circle, and I've blogged once or twice before about how it's on the verge of getting a really lame, characterless makeover. I made Columbus Circle the first stop of my NYC Walkabout, in hopes of getting some pictures of the condemned facade before it was too late.

Unfortunately, while I think the facade is still intact, it's completely covered up, so I was unable to take the photographic portraits I had hoped for (click the link above to see 2CC in all its naked glory). I was still able to get a few shots, but nothing like what I had hoped for:

The Lollipop Building, also known as Two Columbus Circle, shrouded in mystery... and scaffolding.

The lollipops are still sorta visible under the scaffolding...

But soon they will be gone or hidden completely. And that makes me a saaaad lollipop. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Incoming Links Of The Day

Here are some more intriguing Google searches that will take you to my blog...

chimp pant hoot mp3

alien spider moth dna

Transdimensional breathing

All of these are easier to remember than "multi medium"... but somewhat less easier than my all-time personal favorite, sexy photoblogging...

Monday, January 09, 2006

Music Appreciation

While I am not as serious a music fan as some people, I thought I would just take a moment to mention a couple of things that I am musically grateful for:

1. That Anne Bancroft's character in The Graduate was not named Mrs. Abramowitz.

2. That there were no Taco Bells when Chuck Barry wrote "You Never Can Tell."

Transmission ends.

More Like This, Please. Maybe.

From an NYT letter responding to David Brooks's annual "The Republicans might want to rethink this whole rampant corruption thing" column:

I was a Republican once, before the party shifted to appease the extreme right and corporate America at the expense of the rest of the citizenry. I used to think that Barry Goldwater was right wing, but today he would be a moderate.


It is high time that Republicans who remember and embrace the values of the party Mr. Brooks describes wake up and take stock of today's Republican Party. It is a shell of its former self - corrupt, incompetent, self-serving, partisan in the extreme and damaging to our country.

I always love to read stuff like this, and it's just amazing to me that Bush still has a 70-80% approval rating among Republicans, even if he's on "their team."

However, the question remains in my mind: Given the choice between a corrupt pseudo-conservative Republican candidate and a principled liberal Democratic one, which one would this presumptively honorable Republican vote for? Or would he just stay home?

Or, if you want to be really diabolical, are all of the "reasonable conservatives" just a trap, a honey pot to lure the Democrats into embracing ineffectual DLC centrism in the vain hope of picking up disaffected Republicans? It's certainly not a stretch to imagine that there are a lot of conservatives and Republicans who are disgusted with their current leadership, but it's also not a stretch to say that Rove & Co. are masters of dirty tricks and deceit.

My recommendation to the Democrats is: Take heart from testimonials such as this one, but don't count on anything more than a non-vote on Election Day. Let the Republicans worry about trying to be the new "honorable Republican party" - focus on trying to be the new "honorable Democratic party," and let the voters sort it out. These are potentially very good times to be a Democrat if you play your cards right (clear and forceful message, more Dean, less Shrum/Brazile), so please don't give up your advantage in a quixotic pursuit of possibly mythological disillusioned Republicans.

Spam And Joke Of The Day

From: eBay Inc
Subject: Customer Notice: Instructions for Client

in 1998 Star Wars News in 1866 and make them better?

Just between you and me, eBay really needs to make their client instructions a lot clearer. And that question mark at the end? It makes it look like they can't even stand behind their incomprehensible gibberish. How this once-proud company has fallen.

*shakes head sadly*

And now, a riddle, to lighten the mood:

What do you call a Hitchcock starlet with an inordinate fondness for Halloween pranks?

T.P. Hedren.

Thank you, I'll be here all week. Try the veal!

Okay, okay, I promise I'll try to cobble together some more political stuff - I've been kind of coasting on the NYC photos for a while now (not that I'm ready to stop or anything...).

Exit Strategy?

I'm sure it's all perfectly innocent and above-board, move-along, nothing-to-see-here, but the MachiavEli in me just can't help but wonder if they're setting the stage for Cheney to quietly and regretfully retire from the vice-presidency for "health-related reasons":
Vice President Dick Cheney was hospitalized briefly this morning after suffering from shortness of breath.

He returned home after a four-hour stay. Doctors said the problem resulted from medication he was taking for a foot ailment and was not related to his long-standing heart ailments, according to a statement issued by his office.

The statement said that Mr. Cheney was taken to George Washington University Hospital in Washington about 3 a.m.

After performing an electrocardiogram, or EKG test, doctors found no... heart.

(Okay, okay, it was "no change in the functioning of Mr. Cheney's heart," but if the Republicans can have fun with selective quoting, why oh why can't I?)

I mainly just wanted to use that "MachiavEli" thing...

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Not-So-NYCreepy Photoblogging

Okay, I'm pretty much out of creepy NYC photos, but that doesn't mean I'm done yet...

Cameras really do see light completely differently than we do, which can be fun to exploit.

This came out much better than I expected. Or maybe I'm fooling myself...

Mmm... Shadows... Posted by Picasa