Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Stat Nuggets

Granted, I am not a professional statiatrist, but I finally got around to looking at all of the now-notorious "34%" CBS poll (warning: PDF), and a number of interesting things jump out at me, the underlying theme of which is that Bush's base is the only thing keeping him afloat right now. As bad as Bush's numbers are (and they are baaaad), they are much, much worse when you look at the breakouts by party affiliation.

This may be terribly boring and eye-glazing stuff, or someone smarter and interestinger than me may have already covered it, but hey, it was new and interesting to me...

Bush approval rating among Republicans: 72%. Dems: 9%. Independents... 29%.

Favorability rating among Republicans: 65%. Dems: 8%. Indies... 23%.

As I said, I'm no expert, but it looks to me like Bush's approval/favorability rating among non-Republicans has to be somewhere in the teens. Yeah, Republicans like Bush, but everyone else thinks he's an asshole. (Here's a side question: What's Bush's approval/favorability rating among Democrats in Congress?)

Most important problem facing the U.S. today:

Terrorism? Republicans: 14%. Dems: 5%. Indies: 8%.
Moral Values? Republicans: 7%. Dems: 0%. Indies: 2%.
George Bush? Republicans: 2%. Dems: 8%. Indies: 4%.

(Generally speaking, Iraq and the economy were the two biggest problems, but Republicans were the only ones who ranked terrorism ahead of the economy, 14 to 11.)

I'm just going to simplify from this point on, and focus in on independents as the bellwether of the ordinary American with no particular dog in the partisan fight.

Approval of Bush on the economy: 26% approve/62% disapprove.
Approval of Bush on Iraq: 25/69.
Approval of Bush on terrorism (his, ahem, "strength"): 39/53.
Approval of Bush on energy: 20/66.

Approval of Congress: 22/68. Interestingly, lower than Republicans or Democrats, who are both in the low 30s. It might signal disgust with partisan squabbling instead of productive debate, oversight and lawmaking, but it could also signal disgust with the Republican agenda and the Democrats' total failure to oppose it.

People in government's willingness to take responsibility for their actions: 5/90. Again, lower than both Republicans and Democrats.

Bush administration too secretive: 60/33.

Now, this last one is to me the most inexplicable result of all. CBS asked for opinions on warrantless wiretaps in two different ways (half samples): One version included the Bushies' claim that they were needed to fight terrorism, the other didn't. Both the Republicans and Democrats, unsurprisingly, supported the wiretaps at a higher percentage with the addition of the terrorism verbiage, but the Independents didn't. With the terrorism language included, Independents overwhelmingly opposed warrantless wiretapping, 57 to 42. Without it, they narrowly favored it, 48 to 47.

The only two explanations I can think of are that it's either some kind of sampling aberration, or (pleasepleaseplease) that the Independents are becoming conditioned to associate "War On Terror" with "Republican Bullshit". Any statisticians in the hizzy? Can someone help me out here?

Now, of course, the other shoe with all of this is, What should the Democrats do to capitalize on it? I have already gone on record saying that they should not tack to the center to attract moderate voters. But hey: I said it. I meant it. I stand behind it. What the poll numbers are telling me is that the moderates/Independents are so thoroughly disgusted with Bush that they might as well be Democrats at this point, so why tack to the center at all? To me it's an invitation to be a proudly aggressive and adversarial opposition party, and if the Republicans want to squeal about how mean and obstructionist the Democrats are, let 'em. The "mushy middle" will be grateful that someone is finally trying to stop the Republican juggernaut of corruption and incompetence. The Independents are begging for a strong, viable alternative, so please, please for the love of God and all that is holy, GIVE THEM ONE.

(Um... What?)^2: Froomkin Edition

Two eye-catching and mind-bending items in today's White House Briefing:
Caroline Daniel writes in the Financial Times: "President George W. Bush yesterday stepped up his rhetoric about US dependence on oil from the Middle East, warning about the dangers of being dependent on countries where 'tyrants control the spigots'."
What about letting them control our ports? Is that okay? Or does this only apply to bad Arab countries, like... Saudi Arabia?

"The [New Delhi Sheraton] has just received a brief from the White House on what President Bush likes on his dining table. 'President Bush loves Indian food and what's more he knows it very well. He likes flavoured Indian food but does not like it too spicy, greasy or oily. Chicken and lamb are his favourites and he loves kebabs,' says Executive Chef Amit Chaudhary. . . .

" 'We are told he spent some two months in the Capital in his younger days and he still recalls the food he had here with great relish. Our attempt will be to make the food here a good memory for him for years to come.' "

Wait -- Bush spent two months in New Delhi in his youth? Is that for real? When? What was he doing?

Are they talking about the right capital? Or maybe he meant "the new deli" down the street from the Alabama campaign offices he was sort of working at while he was not participating in the Air National Guard? Anyway, I was pretty sure the sum total of Bush's pre-White House furrin travel was Mexico and maybe one trip to Europe. Who knew?


Well, this brings the percentage of the Bill Of Rights that the Republicans are in favor of all the way up to 20%, although if too many Democrats start buying guns, look for some "enemy of the state" exclusions to get carved out...
General [Geoffrey "Gitmoize Me"] Miller has denied recommending the use of guard dogs to intimidate prisoners during interrogations in Iraq. He also recently said he would not testify in the courts-martial of Sergeants Cardona and Smith, invoking his right to avoid self-incrimination. As someone who voluntarily spoke at length about my actions in Iraq to investigators, without a lawyer present, I can't have a favorable opinion of General Miller. By doing the military equivalent of "taking the Fifth," he's decided to protect himself, apparently happy to let two dog handlers take the fall — a stunning betrayal of his subordinates and Army values.
Read the whole piece, which is a chilling insider's look at the torture and deliberate graying-out of moral and legal values at Abu Ghraib. But I thought this paragraph was particularly striking, since to me it sounds an awful lot like an admission of guilt at a very senior command level (this would be especially interesting if the new release of Abu Ghraib photos were getting any traction, which they sadly are not). But I guess as long as you don't actually get charged with anything, it doesn't count. Bygones!

UPDATE: The incomparable and out-of-nowhere Glenn Greenwald explains all about the Republicans' deep and lasting commitment to personal responsibility.

(greenwald tip thinks to Atrios)


What can I add to this, really?

By way of Lloyd Grove's Lowdown column in the NY Daily News.

Monday, February 27, 2006

You Are SO Not Thanked.

Atrios is too kind (and I'm a bit of a whiner). I didn't actually tip him to the Andy Sullivan column, I just answered his Googly call to arms (or fingers, as the case may be). But now that I'm actually looking at said noxious column, I feel a bit of a rant coming on...
You're welcome. And as I read this and other Iraqi blogs written by people who lived under a kind of terror that we in the West have no way to understand or truly empathize with, I feel a lump in my throat. I am so proud of the country I was born in and the country I have made my home. I have never been prouder to be an Anglo-American, to have done in our time what so many before us have done - to broaden the possibilities of liberty, to bring hope, to restrain the violent men and evil ideologies that are each generation's responsibility. The men and women in our armed forces did the hardest work. They deserve our immeasurable thanks. But we all played our part. By facing down the evil, the cowardly and the simply misguided, we have done a great good.
Great. Fabulous. Sure. Whatever. That stuff I bolded? That is precisely what you and your Republican ilk have miserably failed to do in this country. You have, in fact, aggressively pursued the exact opposite. You have enabled and apologized for the violent men and evil ideologies that are destroying our country. You are the the evil, the cowardly, and the "simply misguided," and you have done a great wrong that may not be righted for decades, if ever.

So fuck you very much.

Random Mostly Blue-Sky NYC Photoblogging

Yet more fun from NYC. I think I might be running out of steam. Maybe one or two more posts left.

Looking out from a very small coffeeshop.

If you look very closely (psst - you can click on these for a larger view), you can see the flowers in the window.

Mmm... Buildings... blue sky... shadows... stark geometrical shapes... I'm in Photo Heaven. Posted by Picasa

Stolen Cuteness

Courtesy of NTodd (and one of his readers):

Kitty LOVES Rooster!!!

Kitty possibly a bit... confused.

Quote Of The Day

Courtesy of... JOE KLEIN???

For what it's worth, he just repeats it. He didn't actually come up with it. By way of The All-Seeing Eye Of Froomkin:
"The media are wondering what ever happened to the Bushies' political antennae," a prominent Republican told me. "They don't have antennae. They just have a transmitter -- and the party is beginning to tune them out."
That's gotta leave a mark...

Sunday, February 26, 2006

NYC Signageblogging

Random signs from NYC.

Um, pretend I said something profound about linguistics and modes of communication...

Res and Kenosha Kid made me take it.

Umm... WTF?

I feel like I should have something metaphorical to say about this... Posted by Picasa

Bacon Loves Rabbi!

My mom just sent me this very intriguing LA Times article/book review about how the religious right has co-opted the belongingness-and-meaning needs of religious people who would otherwise trend liberal. I'm going to quote, well, liberally, because this piece is a week old already and I'm not sure how long it'll be out there for free:
[Rabbi Michael] Lerner believes America is in the grip of a spiritual crisis.

On the one hand, there is what scholar Walter Brueggemann calls "the imperial consciousness." This right-wing mind-set worships its own power — an act of idolatry, according to Lerner. Its adherents ignore the groans of the poor, the oppressed and the marginalized, conducting business as usual as though no one were hurting and there were no groans.

On the other, an impotent liberal cohort lacks the moral courage and political savvy to resist a culture of imperial domination in both church and state. The compromises made by the left because of political expediency result in a political lassitude, which amounts to complicity with the forces of empire.

But Lerner is chiefly concerned with the millions of people who are not conservative ideologues but who have in recent elections voted that way because they yearn for the "purpose-driven life of meaning" promised by the communities of the religious right. There they find a sense of belonging, of dignity, of outrage at meaningless marketplace thinking — and (in Lerner's indictment of his own liberal tribe) a respectful absence of condescension. The irony that begs for explanation is the phenomenon of this group voting against its own enlightened self-interest.

....What he and his colleagues discovered was "that many people need what anthropologist Clifford Geertz once termed a 'politics of meaning' and what I now call a spiritual politics — a spiritual framework that can lend meaning to their lives [and] allow them to serve something beyond personal goals and economic self-interest. If they don't find this sense of purpose on the Left, they will look for it on the Right." With consistent passion, Lerner insists on respect for this group of people. The left sabotages its efforts every time it views them as somehow less intelligent and evolved than, say, the liberal elite.

For Lerner, the key is something he calls "meaning needs." The left has to recognize "that people hunger for a world that has meaning and love; for a sense of aliveness, energy, and authenticity; for a life embedded in a community in which they are valued for who they most deeply are, with all their warts and limitations, and feel genuinely seen and recognized; for a sense of contributing to the good; and for a life that is about something more than just money and accumulating material goods." The right, he maintains, has supplied all this in a variety of ways. The left is clueless, unaware that such needs even exist.

At the core of Lerner's argument is his description of two competing theologies.

The theology of the "right hand of God" gives conservative ideologues their religious credibility. This theology "sees the universe as a fundamentally scary place filled with evil forces…. God is the avenger, the big man in heaven who can be invoked to use violence to overcome those evil forces, either right now or in some future ultimate reckoning….[T]he world is filled with constant dangers and the rational way to live is to dominate and control others before they dominate and control us."

The "left hand of God" theology sees God as "the loving, kind, and generous energy in the universe" and "encourages us to be like this loving God."

....The scriptural passages often used to justify a dominionist position... were originally written to empower the oppressed with assurances that God would hear their cries and come in power to liberate them and establish a reign of justice and peace. Thus, he argues, the hard-core religious right has perverted religion: They distort scriptural texts and ancient theologies written for the powerless and use them to theologically undergird the powerful. Lerner sees this core as a relatively small part of American society. The much larger populace that votes with the religious right does so in support of what it sees as "a community that gives priority to spiritual aliveness and is affirming and loving. That is the experience they are looking for, and for that they are willing to hear God's voice in the way the Religious Right hears it."

Lerner's solution is to call for the redemption of religion in the thinking of the secular left, along with the establishment of a politics that refuses to allow the values of the commonwealth to be trumped by the powers protecting private wealth. He advocates the development of a "spiritual left" as a coherent alternative to religious triumphalism. Were we to adopt this "spiritual-political alternative" and bring together three groups he has identified on the left — the secular, the "spiritual but not religious" and the "progressive religious" — then America could be rescued.
Although admittedly not the slightest bit religious or even spiritual, I have to say that this rings pretty true as a plausible diagnosis of what has gone wrong, and how Christianity in America has become twisted into a religion of intolerance and authoritarian power. But the prescription for what to do about it unfortunately seems a little vague - hopefully it's spelled out a little more in the book itself (giving it away in the review would be a disservice to the author, after all).

Even without a specific solution, just a deeper and more empathetic awareness of what's going on in the religious community would serve the Democratic party well. I found the references to the need for community especially intriguing, because that actually is something that the left does well, despite its own party.

While the Democratic party itself is completely insular and closed to any feedback from the common folk, the common folk have carved out a pretty cozy community for themselves in the world of blogs and their comments pages. Unfortunately, the contempt for Christians who vote Republican is very strong in that world (I myself am as guilty as any; I simply cannot stomach so-called Christians who vote against compassion and peace), and presents a very forbidding barrier to entry to that rich and otherwise welcoming community.

And that's where I'm stuck. I believe any Christians who come to, say, the Eschaton comments pages (hey, it's what I know) looking for an alternative to the Dobsons and Robertsons and *shudder* Phelpses would be welcomed with open arms. But the question is, how do we get them to A) Realize that they're worshipping the wrong God, and B) Convince them that we liberals don't hate religion? Fortunately, there are much smarter and religiouser people than me out there in the liberal blogosphere, and I'm hopeful that they will be able to figure something out.


More humorous spamminess, not-so-fresh from my mailbox (don't worry; spam keeps forever):

Abital Earp
Druid C. Bessie
Spiniest U. Habits
Bookworm V. Tenderizing
Standardization I. Whittier
Thump F. Lounging
Retinae V. Deduction
Piroska Whittle (Subject: Re: Pharama cy quacksalver)
Apollonia Cunha (Subject: Re: Ph aramacy tweezer)
Hyun Nettleton (Subject: anemoscope purify)
Capote I. Butted
April G. Superscript
Estonia E. Auctioneer
Leather C. Builds
Scriptures F. Baseboards (not sure why I didn't include this one in the George W. Bush Spam Tribute...)

So to all you spammers out there: If you have a funny fake name or subject, I still won't click on you, but at least I won't delete you right away, and I might even make you immortal! Like Highlander!

Saturday, February 25, 2006

You Tell 'Em, Winnie!

From Stanford:
Mathematics has a public relations problem in this country, particularly among some girls and women, according to Hollywood actress Danica McKellar.

"Nobody out there is saying that smart is sexy and smart is important," said McKellar, the co-author of a mathematical proof. "Role models like Paris Hilton have everything to do with why this country is being dumbed down. We need better PR."

It's a bigger problem for women, but it's certainly not unique to them. Being smart is just not cool. If you don't believe that, just look at the results of the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections. And if you don't believe it's a problem, just look at the results of the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections.

I Am Grandma Millie's Smirking Revenge

Some sad, sad news out of Houston today...
Once at the pinnacle of Houston's financial and political elite with a fortune worth as much as $400 million, Mr. Lay, the former chairman of the Enron Corporation, is now facing financial ruin.

While he has talked about his shrinking wealth since Enron's collapse, he has managed to keep up appearances, continuing to live in a full-floor apartment in the city's affluent River Oaks section. But already, according to personal financial records obtained by The New York Times, Mr. Lay has fallen out of the ranks of the city's millionaires, with a stated net worth of less than $650,000.

And that financial assessment is probably on the optimistic side. His assets, for example, include $1.9 million held in a trust that is almost sure to be eaten up by legal fees.

In addition, Mr. Lay, 63, faces potential liability from lawsuits that were filed against him by shareholders and others after Enron's collapse that would almost certainly force him into personal bankruptcy. Mr. Lay may also be forced to forfeit his remaining home, along with some other assets, if he is convicted in the criminal fraud trial that is now taking place in Houston.

This just makes my heart so sad. Why do these things always have to happen to such good people?

Random NYC Photoblogging

More NYC photos! I don't really have a theme; basically just the first three photos I could find that didn't seem to suck too badly (how's that for shameless self-promotion?)...

More buildings! Yippee!!!

JP Morgan Chase again.

What's an NYC photo shoot without at least one of these sawhorse thingies? Posted by Picasa

Friday, February 24, 2006

Friday Quote & Lizard Blogging

Today's quote is from A Clockwork Orange, a dystopia set in the fairly near future:

"When a man cannot choose, he ceases to be a man."

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

Spike looking sultry. Posted by Picasa

Asshole Projection

I'm seconding Atrios seconding Yglesias.

The problem with the ports deal is not the "A" in "UAE", it's the "OBL BFF" in "UAE".

For those of you who don't speak Abbrevish, this is not about "you can't trust the Arabs," at least not from our side of the spectrum. It's about "you can't trust a country whose royal family diplomatically recognized the Taliban, and hung out with Osama bin Laden, and generally seems to be a pretty cozy staging ground for terrorists." Any attempts to paint our objections as xenophobic are disingenuous and dishonest.

But this sort of thing is one of the Republicans' favorite tricks. Democrats are "racist" for opposing the judicial nominations of Clarence Thomas and Janice Rogers Brown, or for pointing out that Condi is an incompetent liar, or for "dishonoring" Coretta Scott King's memorial service by being mean to our poor resolute president.

Or "sexist" for opposing Harriet Miers (who was sunk by Republicans, by the way).

Or "homophobic" for saying that a male prostitute with a fake name and no journalistic credentials has no place in the White House press corps.

For the Republicans, "projection" isn't a psychological condition; it's a deliberate strategy.

Thursday, February 23, 2006


Media Matters (by way of Atrios) calls out Russert for flogging the Republican spin that the Democrats are soft on national security, and are just trying to score cheap political points by objecting to the sellout of America's ports to UAOBLBFFE:
During the interview, Russert asserted that Democrats are acting on what "they have learned from the Bush administration" about the need for a "post-September 11th mentality," and by objecting to the DPW deal, they are "playing it." He said further, "Democrats believe they can look tough on national security" by opposing the current port deal.


However, in suggesting that Democrats have now found a national security issue they can use for political gain, Russert ignored the fact that, for the past several years, Democrats have stressed the need for greater port security and have urged Congress and the administration to act....

Furthermore, most Republicans in Congress have resisted Democrats' efforts to secure U.S. ports. As the Senate Democratic Policy Committee has documented, since 9-11, Senate Republicans have voted to defeat Democratic measures to increase funding for port security. For example, Schumer's amendment to the 2004 Department of Homeland Security Appropriations bill to provide $70 million for research and development to stop nuclear materials from entering U.S. ports was defeated by a 51-45 near-party-line vote. Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) introduced an amendment to the same bill that would have provided $100 million in port and maritime security grants. The Republican Senate rejected Byrd's measure by a near party-line vote of 51-45. Republicans also defeated former Sen. Ernest Hollings's (D-SC) amendment to the 2004 Homeland Security Appropriations bill, which would have provided $300 million in maritime security grants, by a 50-48 largely party-line vote. In addition, for the 2003 War Supplemental Appropriations bill, Hollings's amendment to increase port security funding by $1 billion was defeated by a 52-47 vote largely along party lines.

And as the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has noted, many of the Senate Republicans now calling for the Bush administration to revoke the DPW port deal have continually voted against Democratic attempts to strengthen port security in the United States.

I know it's probably too much to hope for, but this is the kind of thing the Democrats need to make hay on come November and 2008. Yes, the Republicans have a prohibitive majority and can push through (or block) almost anything they want, but the Democrats have to hold them electorally accountable for those votes. And since they were all basically party-line votes against port security, that means a whole lot of incumbent Republicans are vulnerable on this.

I want to see Democratic candidates taking on Republican incumbents with ad campaigns highlighting all the Republican's votes against national security and questioning whether the Republicans are really keeping the country safe. And if the Republican has accused Democrats of posturing, that's even better: bracket the vote information with "Joe Republican says Democrats are using the ports controversy to pretend they're tough on national security. [insert voting history here] Now who's pretending?"

Of course, calling Republicans weak on security would be mean and impolite, so it'll probably never happen. But I thought I'd throw some free advice out there anyway, just in case someone wants to display some ballitude.

Look, if the Republicans want to fuck up the country and leave us exposed to terrorists, fine, there's not much Democrats can do. But make them own it.

Political Spamphiteatre

I have been lax in my spam-mining efforts of late, so I have a bit of a backlog. I'm going to ease back into it in installments, so as not to strain anything.

Installment The First Of Humorous Spammer Fake Names is dedicated to our fearless and heroic war preznit:

Vacua B. Noise
Accountability M. Torses
Distiller T. Lots
Insistent O. Balmiest
Crunch G. Misrule
Totalities U. Illiberal
Snuffbox V. Chimp
Turmoiling U. Trevor (not to be confused with Magical Trevor, whom everyone loves)
Marrying H. Deviate
Slaver U. Heisted
Abolition A. Damaged
Mewl S. Disgrace

Who says spam has no redeeming social or political value?

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

You've Got It All Backwards!

No, no, no! You're supposed to give the country away to rich old white guys, and shoot Arabs in the face!

Jesus, how many times do I have to explain this to you people???

NYC Buildingblogging

New York City has lots of buildings. I like to take pictures of buildings. So it all kinda works out.

Buildings! Did I mention I like buildings?

The New York Stock Exchange is MOONING me! Jeez, what is it with these financial types?

I suspect that the distressedness may be fake, but it still looks pretty cool... Posted by Picasa

Journalists Need Not Apply.

Editor & Publisher (by way of Howie Kurtz) blows the whistle on some choice NYT sleaziness:

Kejal Vyas, one of my best journalism students at Rutgers-Newark, in Newark, N.J., was in Delhi completing some academic work when he received this Feb. 1 e-mail from Nancy Sharkey, senior editor/recruiting for The New York Times, responding to his inquiry about an internship:

“"Hi Kejal, Based on what Allan Wolper has written about us, I cannot imagine that he would want one of his students to intern here. I guess if we need students from New Jersey, we will go elsewhere. Best, Nancy."

Well, maybe the offending professor is some kind of right-wing propagandist? I could understand if NYT wouldn't want an aspiring Rush Limbaugh interning with them. What kind of uncouth criticisms did Wolper unleash upon that eminent publication?

If the Times had [complained to E&P], I might know which of the columns or articles I had written about them in past years had caused them to “look elsewhere” for interns. Here is a summary of some of them:

-- A column detailing how the Times published a huge ad in the sports section promoting Crestor, a cholesterol drug, on the same day they ran a much smaller front page story on its serious side effects.

-- A column that questioned whether the Times Co.'s $100 million stake in the Boston Red Sox had anything to do with its weak coverage of the steroid issue in baseball.

-- An article in Columbia Journalism Review followed by a column in E&P disclosing that the Times gave a reporter covering the CIA permission to write a book that was edited, in part, by the secret agency.

-- A column last week pointing out that for 14 months the Times had obscured the fact that one of its sports writers was a central figure in a messy sexual harassment suit against Madison Square Garden.

None of that sounds particularly ideological to me, except maybe the CIA story. The common thread (ironically, or perhaps prophetically) is Editorial Integrity, Lack Of.

Which makes it all the sadder that they rejected Wolper's intern. They might have learned something from him.

(And why does the New York Times have a $100 million investment in the Red Sox? Does the Washington Post own a piece of the Cowboys?)

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


So, not long after reading about President Bush's staunch defense of the corporations of the United Arab Emirates as plucky entrepreneurs who deserve the same opportunities as Great Britain, and strongly implies that it's the forces of racism and intolerance holding them back, I see this little gem in today's White House Briefing OPINION column, in reference to Al Gore's denunciation of post-9/11 American abuses against the Arab world in (gasp!)... Saudi Arabia:
The comments stirred an angry reaction on the right and in the blogosphere, and also drew a rebuke from Peter Wehner, director of the White House Office of Strategic Initiatives, which was e-mailed to reporters and others Tuesday. "It is noteworthy that Mr. Gore would travel to Saudi Arabia -- a repressive society which is the home of Osama bin Laden and most of the terrorists who executed the worst attack on the American homeland in our history -- to criticize (inaccurately) our government's response to that attack."
Umm... so which is it? Are Arab nations the underdog standardbearers of free enterprise, swimming against the tide of racism and paranoia, or are they hateful enemies of democracy who want to destroy us for our freedoms?

For me personally, there's not a whole lot of difference between Saudi Arabia and UAE. I think they're both unreliable and faithless "allies," but in terms of where they stand with BushCo, I'm pretty sure the country that got slammed is far more favored and influential. As Froomkin helpfully reminds us:
But doesn't the White House's new get-tough rhetoric on Saudia Arabia clash somewhat with this memorable photo of Bush holding Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah's hand as the two men walked through a field of bluebonnets at Bush's Crawford ranch last spring?
Mwahahahaha... You just can't make this shit up.

Bush Takes A Principled Stand In Favor Of Terrorism

So much for the ignorance defense...

President Bush said Tuesday that the deal allowing an Arab company to take over six major U.S. seaports should go forward and that he would veto any congressional effort to stop it.

"After careful review by our government, I believe the transaction ought to go forward," Bush told reporters who had traveled with him on Air Force One to Washington. "I want those who are questioning it to step up and explain why all of a sudden a Middle Eastern company is held to a different standard than a Great British company. I am trying to conduct foreign policy now by saying to the people of the world, 'We'll treat you fairly.' "

*steps up*

Because Great Britain is not a terrorist breeding ground, and ports and military shipments are the kind of things you don't want to let terrorists anywhere near, ever.

("Great British"??? Jesus wept.)

But hey, George, if that's where you want to draw your line in the sand, if you want to use your first-ever veto to facilitate terrorist access to our major ports and shipments of military supplies, please, you just go right ahead. If we're really lucky, your veto gets overruled, and you get a double whammy: You reveal the insincerity of your war on terror for all to see, and you get publicly emasculated by your own tame Republican Congress (and maybe one less American city gets slagged by a container nuke, which, contrary to popular belief, we liberals are not in favor of).

You're Doin' A Heckuva Job, Snowy!


The Dubai firm that won Bush administration backing to run six U.S. ports has at least two ties to the White House.

One is Treasury Secretary John Snow, whose agency heads the federal panel that signed off on the $6.8 billion sale of an English company to government-owned Dubai Ports World - giving it control of Manhattan's cruise ship terminal and Newark's container port.

Snow was chairman of the CSX rail firm that sold its own international port operations to DP World for $1.15 billion in 2004, the year after Snow left for President Bush's cabinet.

The other connection is David Sanborn, who runs DP World's European and Latin American operations and was tapped by Bush last month to head the U.S. Maritime Administration.


The Daily News has learned that lawmakers also want to know if a detailed 45-day probe should have been conducted instead of one that lasted no more than 25 days.

According to a 1993 congressional measure, the longer review is mandated when the company is owned by a foreign government and the purchase "could result in control of a person engaged in interstate commerce in the U.S. that could affect the national security of the U.S."

No, fast-tracking the turning over of port control to a terrorist country isn't fishy at all; no reason this should impact Bush's anti-terror bona fides at all, right? This new whiff of complicity and favoritism makes it even more, well, true to form.

But why am I reading about this in the NY Daily News and not the NY Times?

Monday, February 20, 2006

Monday Not-Quite-NYC Photoblogging

Well, before the trip into NYC, there was dinner at a sushi restaurant in NJ with my dad and all three of my sisters. Of course, I meticulously documented everything except for the actual dinner and family...

Christmas lights outside the sushi restaurant.

Sorta-chandelier thingy inside the sushi restaurant.

Waiting for the ATM; might as well take some pitchers... Posted by Picasa

Good To Know.

My blog is the #1 AltaVista search result for Electrovaginogram.

That's almost as good as being the #1 hit for sexy photoblogging!

Multi Medium, for all your sexy electrovaginogram photoblogging needs.

Encounters In Pittsblogging

Just wanted to make a quick mention of Saturday's dinner with spork_incident and visiting blogger Blue Gal. We went to Pittsburgh Drinking Liberally hangout Finnigan's Wake, and generally had a lovely time. Huzzah!

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Sunday Alien Invasion Blogging

I think I may have forgotten to mention, that while I was last visiting NYC, there was a shocking and horrific Alien Attack. Fortunately, I had my camera handy, and was able to document the apalling carnage and somehow escape with my life.

First photograph of the Alien Creature as it lands in front of Trinity Church and begins menacing the saints with its Evil Tentacles... OF DOOM!

The Alien lashes out with its Nefarious Grasping Claws!

The Alien's true purpose becomes apparent, as it begins to suck nourishment from the very pavement itself, rendering it pale and brittle. Posted by Picasa

I Blame Gay Marriage.

From The Smoking Gun, by way of NTodd and watertiger, a completely and utterly insane "Contract of Wifely Expectations," which is alarmingly specific about how and when pubic hair is to be shaved, timing of nakedness (within 20 minutes after the kids are in bed), expected sexual practices, periods of utter subservience called "Me-Time," and what actions can be used to earn "Good Behavior Days," or "GBDs," that would allow the wife to get out of some of her obligations for a day. Be sure to note the font used in the section headings, and the fact that the wife is required to be in her "sleepwear" (generally either skimpy lingerie or nothing at all) before she can attempt to renegotiate any terms of the "contract."

The whole thing reads like some kind of twisted adolescent sexual fantasy of what the ideal marriage would be like, which is how I think it started out. It's so elaborate and well-thought-out (in a psychotic, detached-from-reality kind of way) that I think he just kept refining it and embellishing it over the years, and never took a step back far enough to realize that it was pathological, and not what normal adults expect from their wives. On the other hand, he is clearly one of those guys who loves sex but hates women, so maybe he just didn't care, and figured hey, it's worth a shot.

I suppose the wife deserves some credit for not signing the thing, but why on Earth would she not head for the hills the second her husband put this mad document in front of her? Isn't there some minimum level of self-esteem required to keep the heart pumping and the lungs breathing?

Saturday, February 18, 2006

NYCircular Photoblogging II

Blogginess runs in a circular motion, blogs are like a little boat upon the sea...

Some sort of rock sculpture in the general Wall Street/JP Morgan Chase area.

Pretty sure this was near the George Washington statue, still in the Wall Street vicinity.

Manhole. What can ya do.

Mmm... ducts... Posted by Picasa

So If Today's Your Blogiversary... Happy Blogiversary!

Multi Medium appears to be one year old today.

Woo. Hoo.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Friday Quote & Puppy Blogging

Today's quote is actually from a review of the Nikon D200 digital SLR, which should be showing up on my doorstep any month now. Ken Rockwell, who is a huge Nikon fan (and possible shill, if you read some of the digital photography forums) and a little... odd, had a whole section of his review titled "Fudge Packing (Filling memory cards to 100%)", with numerous references to fudge packing and fudge packers, finally concluding with this explanation:
The specific reference to packing fudge, as opposed to pencils, oranges or cameras, comes from the confectionary industry. Fudge needs to be packed completely into containers without airspaces. Airspaces might create dry segments in the otherwise delicious fudge.
The things you learn on the internets.

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

The shadowy and mysterious Codename L. scratches an unfathomable itch. Posted by Picasa

Executive Pepperage

Am I the only one wondering if The Beerhunter spent a good chunk of that missing 18-20 hours frantically calling up Republican lawyers, trying to find one willing to argue that executive privilege secrecy extends to shooting people in the face?

"If the president and vice-president are forced to disclose to the public every time they shoot someone in the face, it will have a chilling effect on their future ability to shoot people in the face. Such unvarnished face-shooting is essential to a robust executive decision-making process."

Nah, on second thought, it's a crazy theory. John Yoo can't be that hard to reach.

Ratings Advisory Of The Week

From NYT's review of (bleagh) Eight Below, about ultra-cute sled dogs triumphing over adversity and making their war home after being stranded:

"...even grown-ups will be startled by the attack of the computer-generated leopard seal."

Thursday, February 16, 2006

NYCircular Photoblogging I

Still more photos from NYC, with a circular theme. These are just the color ones - I'll have a post or two of B&W ones as well.

I like circles.

Reflections and circular lights in the general Wall St. area.

Possibly the same building, as viewed through a hole in a large red cube.

Circles almost sorta within circles... Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Oh Well.

I suppose it's only fitting that the worst president of all time should
have the worst vice president of all time...

Zing You I Can, Yes...

From the Rush & Molloy gossip column in today's NY Daily News:

"The emperor works behind Darth Vader, he doesn't actually stand in front," [George] Lucas said. "I say that in fear of getting hit with a lot of buckshot."

Apparently he wasn't too thrilled about the "spoof video portraying House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi as the evil 'Darth Nancy,' pursued by virtuous GOP rebels" shown at a House retreat the week before Bush presented him with the National Medal of Technology (we have that?).

But wait, it gets better:

Republican staffers, dressed in "Star Wars" costumes, showed up outside [Lucas's] press conference to inveigh against the Democratic evil empire trying to take control of Congress.

Um, guys? You really don't want to pursue this angle, mmmkay?

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

What Republicans Understand That Democrats Don't

This is a point I've danced around on occasion, that finally crystallized at Drinking Liberally tonight:

Republicans understand that voters in "the base" turn out if motivated, and the undecideds in the middle do not. Consequently, they tailor their electoral strategy to pumping up their base to maximize that turnout, and they don't worry about the middle all that much because they're proportionally less of a factor. The Democrats, on the other hand, repeatedly throw their base under the bus in pursuit of those fickle undecideds who probably aren't voting anyway.

In other words, Republicans understand that turnout is a force multiplier. Democrats are satisfied with just being ahead in opinion polls, implicitly assuming that voter turnout is homogeneous.

And this is why the ballot results never quite live up to the poll results for the Democrats. The Democrats are alienating voters by chasing after non-voters.

"I Said It. I Meant It. I Stand Behind It."

I forgot to include this in my previous post about the Democratic party establishment screwing over Paul Hackett, but I think it deserves its own post anyway:

Various bloggers (I could have sworn Digby was one of them, but I can't find the post I was thinking of) have lamented the Democrats' unfortunate and self-destructive practice of sabotaging their best and most forceful messengers, but that doesn't go quite far enough. The core problem with the Democrats, individually and collectively, is their reluctance to say, "I said it. I meant it. I stand behind it." By apologizing, "clarifying," or backpedaling away from their statements every time the Republicans and their creatures raise a fake uproar, the Democrats marginalize themselves and their message.

By apologizing, they are saying, "Yes, you're right, that was not a valid point I was making." By backpedaling, they are saying, "I routinely say things that I don't really mean, and I just hope that no-one calls me on it."

On the other hand, standing firm and repeating "I said it. I meant it. I stand behind it," or better yet, "We said it. We meant it. We stand behind it," every time they are challenged, the Democrats would send the message that their positions are valid and deserving of respect, that they never say anything they don't mean, and that they will not back down in the face of intimidation.

Of course, the Republican noise machine would howl about how angry and unreasonable the Democrats are. Let them. I believe the Democrats would regain the respect of their base, and the admiration of those undecideds who are disgusted with the Republicans but don't see a viable alternative.

If Hackett is through with seeking public office, maybe the Democrats could hire him as a speech coach.

Your Stupid Minds! Stupid, Stupid!

I sure hope the Democrats know what they're doing...

Paul Hackett, an Iraq war veteran and popular Democratic candidate in Ohio's closely watched Senate contest, said yesterday that he was dropping out of the race and leaving politics altogether as a result of pressure from party leaders.

Mr. Hackett said Senators Charles E. Schumer of New York and Harry Reid of Nevada, the same party leaders who he said persuaded him last August to enter the Senate race, had pushed him to step aside so that Representative Sherrod Brown, a longtime member of Congress, could take on Senator Mike DeWine, the Republican incumbent.


"For me, this is a second betrayal," Mr. Hackett said. "First, my government misused and mismanaged the military in Iraq, and now my own party is afraid to support candidates like me."

Mr. Hackett was the first Iraq war veteran to seek national office, and the decision to steer him away from the Senate race has surprised those who see him as a symbol for Democrats who oppose the war but want to appear strong on national security.

"Alienating Hackett is not just a bad idea for the party, but it also sends a chill through the rest of the 56 or so veterans that we've worked to run for Congress," said Mike Lyon, executive director for the Band of Brothers, a group dedicated to electing Democratic veterans to national office. "Now is a time for Democrats to be courting, not blocking, veterans who want to run."


Mr. Hackett was widely criticized last year for using indecent language to describe President Bush. Last month, state Republicans attacked Mr. Hackett for saying their party had been hijacked by religious extremists who he said "aren't a whole lot different than Osama bin Laden."

Though Republicans called for an apology, Mr. Hackett repeated the mantra of his early campaign: "I said it. I meant it. I stand behind it."

"I said it. I meant it. I stand behind it." Are you listening, Democrats? That should be your response every single time the Republicans and all their media zombies whine and rage and demand an apology from you for not rolling over and playing dead. And this is the guy you push out of the Senate race? The guy who is exactly the kind of breath-of-fresh-air candidate your spineless party needs? What the hell are you THINKING???

I'd say that this has made me lose all faith in the Democratic party's leadership, except their fold-job on Alito already took care of that. What they don't appear to understand is that, in addition to the obvious, immediate tactical disadvantages of opposing Hackett and not Alito, there is also a less obvious, but even more significant negative impact on the party's grass roots and base, who become increasingly disgusted and disillusioned with the Democrats, and consequently less willing to donate time or money, or to turn out in droves on Election Day.

And just who is the brilliant political mastermind behind this daring new Democratic strategy? It wasn't easy, but I pulled some strings, and was able to get this exclusive picture of the Democrats' new chief political advisor, Robert Karl:

You're doin' a heckuva job, uh, Karlie.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Reflective NYC Photoblogging

Well, I haven't completely forgotten about my latest batch of New York City photos. I don't think they're as good as the first batch, but there's still some halfway decent stuff in there.

Shard of something reflective (might have been marble or something marble-ish?) next to a sidewalk grate.

JP Morgan Chase: We bring good things to light. No, wait, I think that's Pepsi.

ATM! ATM! There's no place like home! There's no place like home!

Buildings! Reflected in, um... another building!

I got nothin'.

This Is Well Worth Watching.

Today's WaPo Online features a chat with Martin Nicholas about his Nature program, "True Adventures of a Spider Hunter," which debuted last night (nice promotion work, guys). The chat certainly piqued my interest, if for no other reason than to see this guy holding a 12-inch Goliath spider... and talking to Stan Lee (but not, alas, at the same time).

I strongly recommend checking your listings for the next rebroadcast on your local PBS affiliate (1AM tonight for me! Woohoo!), especially if you have any kind of fascination with creepy crawlies, or just want to gross out that special someone.

Many thanks to the shadowy and mysterious Codename V. for the graphic, scanned from some bizarre spider-hunting book many years ago.

Sunday, February 12, 2006


Holy shit!!!
Vice President Dick Cheney accidentally shot and injured a man during a weekend quail hunting trip in Texas, his spokeswoman said Sunday.

Harry Whittington, 78, was ''alert and doing fine'' after Cheney sprayed Whittington with shotgun pellets on Saturday at the Armstrong Ranch in south Texas, said property owner Katharine Armstrong.

Armstrong said Cheney turned to shoot a bird and accidentally hit Whittington. She said Whittington was taken to Corpus Christi Memorial Hospital by ambulance.

Cheney's spokeswoman, Lea Anne McBride, said the vice president was with Whittington, a lawyer from Austin, Texas, and his wife at the hospital on Sunday afternoon.

Kinda sounds like it was one of his hunting buddies, so I don't think much will come of it.

Saturday, February 11, 2006


God bless Froomkin and all his little Froomkinites. Last week he asked his readers to send him questions for the White House press corps and any interviewers to ask the preznit, specifically addressing the issue of his credibility (or lack thereof). Yesterday he published the highlights in his White House Briefing column, and it's really excellent stuff. Check it out if you haven't already.

I'm wondering, would it be worthwhile to start a mass e-mail campaign to send these questions to every single member of the press corps, and anyone who is about to interview the preznit, or would it just lead to a lifetime of wiretapping and audits for everyone whose question got published?

Friday, February 10, 2006

Friday Quote & Cat Blogging

This week's quote:

"My body is a roadmap of pain... but pain has its rewards."

From Peter Jackon's The Frighteners, starring Trini Alvarado (one of the most genuinely sweet people ever to go to Professional Children's School), Michael J. Fox, Jake Busey, and the immortal Jeffrey Combs (speaking).

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

Christmas Kitty with Number Two Sister. Again: Friendly? Or just itchy? Um, Christmas Kitty, that is.

Save Our Santorums

It's a sad commentary on my connectedness to PA politics that I learned about this through an NYT editorial:

Under current Pennsylvania law, people can vote once they leave prison. But a bill pending in the Legislature would disenfranchise those on parole or probation. The bill would go further and bar convicts from voting until the dates when their maximum sentences would expire — even if they had been fully released from the system much earlier.

Pennsylvania, a swing state that will hold some critical elections this fall, is being barraged by legislation, championed by Republican lawmakers, that would raise voting barriers, especially for groups that tend to be Democratic. One measure would institute one of the most restrictive voter-identification laws in the nation, in a state that currently requires only first-time voters to prove their identities. Pennsylvanians — who have been at the forefront of fairness in voting rights issues — should not allow partisanship to erase that legacy.

Wow, they're pulling out all the stops - they must be really worried for Santorum, eh?

(Do governors have veto power? You know, like little mini-preznits?)

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Good Evening, Moon

Well, the moon is full enough and early enough to offer some intriguing possibilities, so I did a little moonstalking on my way home this evening.

Remember this picture from a few months ago? Where are they now, I'm sure you're all wondering.

Here's what they look in the (more or less) daylight! Either the moon's gotten a lot smaller, or the saint's gotten a lot bigger.

Some more fun with Mr. Moon...

The moon again, viewed through some kind of railing thingie. As I mentioned earlier, I'm a little shaky when it comes to color...

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Headline Of The Day

Restaurant attorney says flying shrimp not to blame for death

Complex, Nuanced Bioethics Question

What about human-Garanimal hybrids, or "Garanimanimals"? Are those okay, or would they be banned as well?

Obligatory Steelers Photoblogging

Okay, so, my coworkers kinda prodded me into taking pictures of the Steelers victory parade yesterday. That's really not my thing, and left to my own devices I would have ignored it completely, even if it had been, say, the Giants or the Yankees. I made a go of it, and decided to stay inside and rely on my powers of telephoto zoominess, calculating that even long shots would still be better than shots of the backs of people's heads.

Unfortunately, that decision didn't work out so well. For one thing, I was looking down on the proceedings, and most of the players were wearing baseball caps. Worse yet, the windows are tinted, which throws off the color balance (I suck at color, so I have a hard time correcting it), kills the contrast, and chokes off the light, which means slow shutter speeds and high ISOs, which means grainy and blurry, which is not a great combination. Still, I got a few entertaining shots (mostly of non-Steeler-related subjects), even if there was only one that I would consider "good" by any stretch of the imagination.

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

A pair of determined blonde businesswomen stride purposefully toward their rendezvous with Gamera on Moon Station Zero.

Troy Polamalu signing autographs after the parade. Great player, seems like a nice enough guy - it's not his fault his name is the basis for The Worst Thing Ever.

(This is probably the only picture of the bunch that I'm completely satisfied with, because it was free of all that window-related overhead)

Hey, look! Bananaman is a Steelers fan! Who knew?

My relentless search for "the decisive moment" finally bears sweet, sweet fruit... HEY!