Saturday, September 30, 2006

I Keep Coming Back To This...

If a Democrat somehow manages to win the White House in 2008, and the Democrats somehow manage to take/hold both houses of Congress...

Will they have enough power to restore some semblance of democracy? Arresting and detaining some of the viler Republicans and their pet pundits as terrorist enablers would probably be a big help, but I just don't see it happening. And it would probably be wrong. Probably.

Bear in mind, they would probably only have 2-4 years to work, as they would undoubtedly be blamed for the inevitable terrorist attacks and economic collapse engendered by eight years of Republican misrule. They need to start working on that restoration-and-recovery plan now.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Even Worse Badness

Mark Foley (R-NAMBLA) being a gross old horndog with underage boys on the internets? Just a bad apple.

Republican leadership knowing about it for a year and not doing anything about it? Time for a new barrel.

This is, of course, assuming that the media reports on that aspect of it (we all remember how excited they were about the pedophiles in the DHS, right?), and the Democrats find a way to run with (and on) it. When combined with the Abramoff/Mehlman story which also came out today (and, y'know, that whole "Torture Good, Habeas Corpus Bad" thing), it drives home the message that the Republican party is corrupt and amoral to the core. Hopefully America is finally ready to listen.


Don't look at me, I just report it.
Earlier this month, Himawari Dairy began selling space yogurt, which is made using two types of lactic acid bacteria that spent 10 days in space aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket last spring. The yogurt, called Uchu O Tabi Shita Yogurt (literally: “yogurt that travelled in space”), is now available in Shikoku’s four prefectures. The space yogurt follows Tosa Space Sake, which hit shelves last spring, as the second space-related product created to stimulate business in Kochi prefecture.


According to Himawari Dairy President Bunjiro Yoshizawa, about half of the bacteria died in the agar medium due to the harsh environment inside the rocket. The strong, surviving bacteria gives the space yogurt a more full-bodied flavor compared to yogurt made with standard earthbound bacteria.
My regular earth yogurt seems so puny and unevolved now. Maybe I should start exposing it to harsh environments to whip it into shape.

Oh, This Is Bad.

And by "Bad," I mean "Good." Take it away, TPM Muckraker:

From The Washington Post:

One exchange of e-mails cited in the report suggests that former Abramoff lobbying team member Tony C. Rudy succeeded in getting Mehlman to press reluctant Justice Department appointees to release millions of dollars in congressionally earmarked funds for a new jail for the Mississippi Choctaw tribe, an Abramoff client. Rudy wrote Abramoff in November 2001 e-mails that Mehlman said he would "take care of" the funding holdup at Justice after learning from Rudy that the tribe made large donations to the GOP.

So in exchange for political contributions, Mehlman made sure the Choctaw got their $16 million contract. I believe that's called a quid pro quo.

It's by no means the only example of Mehlman's favors.

In 2001, he made sure a State Department official wasn't re-nominated for his post -- the official, Allen Stayman was a long-time foe of Abramoff's.

And according to a report from the Justice Department's Inspector General, Mehlman ordered one of his suboordinates at the White House to keep Abramoff updated on issues related to Guam; Abramoff was keen to see the U.S. Attorney there replaced.

I think this is especially significant because we're talking about the RNC Chair rather than some random congresscritter. It makes it harder to dismiss the Abramoff scandal as a few bad apples when there is, essentially, an operational relationship between Abramoff and someone who represents the Republican party as a whole.

On the other hand, no-one outside the blogosphere has any idea who Ken Mehlman is. Best to refer to him as "the chairman of the Republican National Committee," just to be on the safe side.

(hat tip to Atrios)

Friday Duck Blogging

This week's quote is from the unfairly underrated Cabin Boy, and no, it doesn't have any special personal meaning for me:
"She seems completely uninterested in me despite my smoldering obsessiveness."

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

They were just kinda walking around in circles for no apparent reason.

Mallard, I think.

Um, can ducks interbreed with turkeys?

Thursday, September 28, 2006

In The Year 2525...

Future historians will look back on this decade as an era of collective insanity, and will struggle to explain how Senators and Representatives on both sides of the aisle so willingly gave up the democratic principles this country was founded on. Or why the majority of the American public did not notice, or simply did not care.

Tonight We're Gonna Party Like It's 1199

Just when I thought the Senate in general, and the Democratic caucus in particular, couldn't be any more craven than when they confirmed Alito to the Supreme Court, they go and top themselves spectacularly.

The 12 so-called Democrats who voted for this abomination against democracy should be ashamed of themselves, and I hope they all get primaried into oblivion when they're up for re-election. Carper (DE), Johnson (SD), Landrieu (LA), Lautenberg (NJ), Lieberman (there's a shock), Menendez (NJ), Nelson (FL), Nelson (NE), Pryor (AR), Rockefeller (WV), Salazar (CO), and Stabenow (MI) are all dead to me. I don't care if some of them are in red states. They can all go to hell for all I care, and they probably will.

I'd also like to know if Harry Reid even bothered to twist arms to try to pull a filibuster together, or if he said, "Eh, just vote however you feel like. Who gives a shit about party unity or due process." He should have - genuine weakness in the war against tyranny will ultimately hurt the Democrats far more than trumped-up weakness in the war against terror. Instead of sending the message that they're tough on terrorists, they have merely sent the message that they're scared of Republicans. Sad.

As for the Republicans who are up for re-election this year and even in 2008 (except Chafee, who voted against), I hope their opponents have the brains and spine to call them out for caving in to the Bush administration's lust for truly dictatorial power, not to mention it's desperate need for retroactive immunity for its past criminal behavior. We'll soon find out whether the American electorate is more disgusted by Republican criminality or Democratic appeasement.

I wish I could say I'm surprised, but I'm really not. Once the Democrats ceded the field to The Heroic Anti-Torture Wink-Wink Trio, it became pretty clear that they were afraid to be identified with unpopular causes like human rights or constitutional democracy. Pathetic. No shame. No courage. No sense of decency. Yes, most of them voted against it, and some of them even spoke out against it. But not all of them. Not even almost all of them. Not even enough of them to filibuster this monstrosity. If the Democrats can't pull together 41 emphatic nays in the face of one of the most truly awful bills of all time, I consider that to be a collective failure of the party and its leadership. Perhaps that's unfair, but to me it simply doesn't look like they put up much of a fight.

Oh well, at least the Supreme Court will overturn it for being blatantly unconstitutional, right?


B&W Charlotte Photoblogging

I've been waiting for a chance to slip in some pictures from my business trip to Charlotte, and I guess this is it.

Sort-of awning at the Hilton, where I was not staying.

Leaves greet the water
In black and white reflections
Now they're on my blog.

Bridge thingy and duck.

And another duck.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Food For Thought

So... If the new torture "compromise" allows the government to imprison someone indefinitely without trial for aiding and abetting terrorists...

And the latest NIE says that the invasion and occupation of Iraq is aiding and abetting terrorists...

I'm thinking that if a Democrat wins in '08, Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld will be on a plane to Israel the day before inauguration...

Wednesday Why-I-Love-The-Weekly-World-News Blogging

This is helpful, but a lot of it is just common sense, really:
MOST people have been abducted by aliens, say some UFO experts -- so odds are you're one of them.

"Extraterrestrials possess the ability to wipe human memory clean," said Dr. J. Albert Longneck, a UFO investigator from Houston, Texas. "You could be kidnapped once or twice a week and you wouldn't remember a thing."

But there are detectable signs that you've been taken aboard a spacecraft and examined, according to Dr. Longneck. Here is a revealing excerpt from his upcoming book Did I Forget I Was Kidnapped By Aliens?

•You're drunk a lot -- Aliens take advantage of boozers because they're used to forgetting huge blocks of time and some really embarrassing stuff, said Dr. Longneck. ETs appreciate drunks because they don't have to waste their memory-wiper ammunition, which is expensive. They pick up a lot of people stumbling out of bars.
•You are mentally ill -- No one believes a psycho when he says he was in a space ship. Extraterrestrials take advantage of that fact by lurking around insane asylums and psychiatrist offices.
•During an X-ray, your doctor discovers you are missing an internal organ you know you were born with -- "A lot of times aliens take out spleens, a lung, a kidney, an appendix so they can examine them closely," explained Dr. Longneck. Despite their advanced intellect, sometimes they simply forget to put them back.
•You wake up and can't remember everyday things like your name, the year, your address, your spouse's name, etc. -- "The alien scientists have sliced out a vital part of your brain," said Dr. Longneck.
•You cut yourself and your blood is green -- "This is when they've accidentally sucked out too much of your blood and had to give you a blood transfusion from their own blood bank," explained the expert.
•You suddenly find yourself in a foreign country thousands of miles from where you live -- "Aliens have a very bad sense of direction and can't read maps worth a damn," said Dr. Longneck. "They'll circle around the globe a lot, then get disgusted and just give their human abductees the boot when it's dinnertime -- alien wives are not very understanding."
•You look in the mirror and see that your nose is suddenly smaller -- "Many extraterrestrials are interested in plastic surgery techniques and will try them out on their captives," said Dr. Longneck.
•You suddenly discover you are missing a limb -- "You know you started out the day with two arms and two legs, and yet, when it's time to go to bed, one is missing," said Dr. Longneck. "This is an indication they have kept one of your limbs for dissection purposes."
I don't think any of those apply to me, but I should probably buy the book just to be sure.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Question Of The Day

So, given the Republicans' eagerness to do away with the requirement of habeas corpus, and the Democrats' apparent willingness to let them ("Please don't hit us again! We promise we'll be good!"), I have to ask:

Which is worse - a pre-9/11 mindset, or a pre-1215 mindset?

Farewell-To-NYC Aerial Photoblogging

I did take a handful of shots from the plane back from NYC, most of which were somewhere between Flawed and Mediocre, including my one good look at Manhattan which was hopelessly out of focus. But there were a couple that were reasonably salvageable.

Umm... clouds. And a plane wing. (Note To Self: Start booking seats in front of wing)

I'm pretty sure the woman next to me thought I was insane when I frantically grabbed for my camera every time the plane banked to the left...

Niche Marketing

If I had any musical talent whatsoever, I would market myself as the world's first gangsta crooner, using the nom de mic "Bling Crosby."

Monday, September 25, 2006

Commapassionate Conservatism

Conan The Grammarian speaks:
I like to tell people when the final history is written on Iraq, it will look like just a comma because there is — my point is, there's a strong will for democracy.

My take on this latest spectacular display of callous indifference is that human lives just aren't very important to Bush, not as measured against the glorious big-picture fantasy playing out in his head. You know, the one where a democratic utopia radiates out from Iraq and the entire Middle East, nay, the entire world, sings Bush's praises as The Great Democracybringer.

On the other hand, I think Bush could happily sacrifice several thousand lives for a choice Starbuck's franchising opportunity and still not understand what all the fuss is about.

This is yet another visceral reminder of why the Democrats need to retake Congress - so they can start turning that comma into some sentences. Long ones.

I Feel So Much Better Now...

Arlen Specter is on the case:
President Bush is pushing Congress to put the agreement into law before adjourning for the midterm elections, but Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., said Sunday he "vigorously" disagrees with the habeas corpus provision of the bill.

The provision would allow legal counsel and a day in court to only those detainees selected by the Pentagon for prosecution. Other terror suspects could be held indefinitely without a hearing.

"The courts have traditionally been open to make sure that individual rights are protected, and that is fundamental," Specter said on CNN's "Late Edition. "And the Constitution says when you can suspend the writ of habeas corpus, in time of rebellion or invasion. And we don't have either. So that has to be changed, in my opinion."

Of course, Specter being Specter, he will ultimately conclude that the only acceptable resolution for this kind of affront to the Constitution is to... rewrite the law to make it retroactively legal. I have to wonder if his problem is truly with the Bush administration's contempt for the law, or with the law's narrow-minded reluctance to accommodate Bush's brilliance.

Specter is like a DA whose genius idea to eliminate all crime is to simply make everything legal. Problem solved!

Monday Media Blogging - Tragedies Of The Digital Age Edition

Courtesy of Pink Tentacle, here are a couple of videos that poignantly capture the depth and beauty of the world of physical experience that the age of computers will soon render extinct. Plus the music is kinda catchy...

Sunday, September 24, 2006

My Views On Religion

Well, since someone posted a long and barely relevant anti-religion screed under my previous post, it seemed like this might be an opportune time to try to briefly describe where I stand on the subject of religion and its followers. You can decide for yourself whether I am the implacable enemy of all things religious that Republicans claim we liberals are.

My own personal religious views are somewhere between atheist and agnostic (or "Jewgnostic," as the case may be), but I have nothing but the utmost respect for those who strive to follow the teachings of compassion and tolerance and sacrifice contained in most of the world's religions. They are far more evolved than I.

But those who pore over their sacred texts looking for mirrors of their own ignorance and hate and greed? They are like trolls in a cave of gold, searching for nuggets of coal and filth, and I feel nothing but contempt for them. If I believed in Hell, I would send them straight to it.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Quick Comments On Torture

Just a few quick thoughts on the "compromise," and the Bush administration's love of torture in general. I suppose if my brain wasn't taking a much-needed weekend off I could probably weave them both together into some kind of coherent narrative, but today is just not the day.

1) If I understand the "compromise" correctly, it means a prisoner can only be tortured if the president says it's okay. That should certainly cut down on abuses, right?

2) I'm not sure how useful it is to argue that torture is not very effective at garnering usable intelligence, because that's not really what it's for. In reality, torture as practiced by the Bush administration has two main functions:

The first is to punish Arabs and Muslims for having the temerity to attack us, or to sympathize with those who attack us, or to look like those who attack us. It satisfies a deep-seated, atavistic desire for vengeance against the Muslim world in general.

The second is to gather politically useful intelligence. Torture is a very effective way to get someone to tell you what you want to hear (Bush must use it on his subordinates on a regular basis...). If you capture some poor schmuck off the street and torture him long enough, he will eventually admit to being a Big Scary Terrorist, and give you all kinds of juicy leads to nonexistent plots that you can crow about. And if the FBI wastes a few man-years chasing them all down the rabbit hole, well, it helps them stay crisp.

3) I would like to see the Democrats go out on a limb and say that torture, as well as warrantless wiretapping, is immoral, and should be prosecuted instead of retroactively legalized. This would be a good time to remind America that the Republicans marketed themselves as the Christian Moral Values Party, and between torture, illegal wiretaps, and rampant corruption, they haven't exactly been living up to it. Challenge Americans to rediscover their sense of right and wrong. Remind them that Clinton stopped the Millenium Plot and put away the WTC bombers without ripping up the Constitution.

I fear that too many voters this November will say, "If the Democrats won't take a stand on torture, what on earth will they take a stand on?"

SayoNYara Photoblogging

Alright, time to wrap up the NYC photoblogging. This is pretty much everything I have left that's blogworthy, plus a bonus shot from California, for reasons that will soon become apparent.

Full collection of NYC photos from this trip can be found here and here.

La Jolla...

Lincoln Center. Should I be alarmed?


What could be better than some father-son kayaking? Dad pulling his weight, maybe. Slacker.

Okay, gonna go take a break now.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Don't Fuck With The Clenis

Ouch. You do not want to try to blindside Bill Clinton - he will HURT you:

WALLACE: When we announced that you were going to be on Fox News Sunday, I got a lot of email from viewers, and I got to say I was surprised most of them wanted me to ask you this question. Why didn’t you do more to put Bin Laden and al Qaeda out of business when you were President?


[T]he question is why didn’t you do more, connect the dots and put them out of business?

CLINTON: OK, let’s talk about it. I will answer all of those things on the merits but I want to talk about the context of which this arises. I’m being asked this on the FOX network…ABC just had a right wing conservative on the Path to 9/11 falsely claim that it was based on the 9/11 Commission report with three things asserted against me that are directly contradicted by the 9/11 Commission report. I think it’s very interesting that all the conservative Republicans who now say that I didn’t do enough, claimed that I was obsessed with Bin Laden. All of President Bush’s neocons claimed that I was too obsessed with finding Bin Laden when they didn’t have a single meeting about Bin Laden for the nine months after I left office. All the right wingers who now say that I didn’t do enough said that I did too much. Same people.

WALLACE: Do you think you did enough sir?

CLINTON: No, because I didn’t get him.


CLINTON: But at least I tried. That’s the difference in me and some, including all the right wingers who are attacking me now. They ridiculed me for trying. They had eight months to try and they didn’t…I tried. So I tried and failed. When I failed I left a comprehensive anti-terror strategy and the best guy in the country, Dick Clarke… So you did FOX’s bidding on this show. You did you nice little conservative hit job on me. But what I want to know..

WALLACE: Now wait a minute sir…


WALLACE: I asked a question. You don’t think that’s a legitimate question?

CLINTON: It was a perfectly legitimate question but I want to know how many people in the Bush administration you asked this question of. I want to know how many people in the Bush administration you asked: Why didn’t you do anything about the Cole? I want to know how many you asked: Why did you fire Dick Clarke? I want to know…

WALLACE: We asked…


WALLACE: Do you ever watch Fox News Sunday sir?

CLINTON: I don’t believe you ask them that.

WALLACE: We ask plenty of questions of…

CLINTON: You didn’t ask that did you? Tell the truth.

WALLACE: About the USS Cole?

CLINTON: Tell the truth.

WALLACE: I…with Iraq and Afghanistan there’s plenty of stuff to ask.

CLINTON: Did you ever ask that? You set this meeting up because you were going to get a lot of criticism from your viewers because Rupert Murdoch is going to get a lot of criticism from your viewers for supporting my work on climate change. And you came here under false pretenses and said that you’d spend half the time talking about…

WALLACE: [laughs]

CLINTON: You said you’d spend half the time talking about what we did out there to raise $7 billion dollars plus over three days from 215 different commitments. And you don’t care.

What did I do? I worked hard to try and kill him. I authorized a finding for the CIA to kill him. We contracted with people to kill him. I got closer to killing him than anybody has gotten since. And if I were still president we’d have more than 20,000 troops there trying to kill him. Now I never criticized President Bush and I don’t think this is useful. But you know we do have a government that thinks Afghanistan is 1/7 as important as Iraq. And you ask me about terror and Al Qaeda with that sort of dismissive theme when all you have to do is read Richard Clarke’s book to look at what we did in a comprehensive systematic way to try to protect the country against terror. And you’ve got that little smirk on your face. It looks like you’re so clever…

WALLACE: [Laughs]

CLINTON: I had responsibility for trying to protect this country. I tried and I failed to get Bin Laden. I regret it but I did try. And I did everything I thought I responsibly could. The entire military was against sending special forces into Afghanistan and refueling by helicopter and no one thought we could do it otherwise…We could not get the CIA and the FBI to certify that Al Qaeda was responsible while I was President. Until I left office. And yet I get asked about this all the time and they had three times as much time to get him as I did and no one ever asks them about this. I think that’s strange.

Don't make him angry. You wouldn't like him when he's angry. He might even demolish your bogus Bush-tough-on-terror narrative. And that would be bad.

My prediction is that they air the question in full, and cut Clinton's response to shreds to make him sound petulant and ineffectual (i.e., maybe just leaving in the parts where he talks about Wallace's smirk, and about how he "tried" to get bin Laden and failed). Hopefully the fact that Think Progress obtained a leaked transcript will make them think twice about it, but I don't think they'll care - they wear their journalistic dishonesty like a badge of honor.

(hat tip to RevDeb in FDL comments)

Friday Quote & Cat Blogging

This week's quote is from a bizarre Japanese sci-fi movie called Wicked City. I'm pretty sure it's the live-action one and not the anime one, but I couldn't swear to it.
Hello! How are you? You're inside of me and welcome.

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

Most of my pictures of Gollum involve one of us rolling around on the ground. And no, I haven't seen him since our initial encounter.

Oh Dear.

Via Kyklops, some extreme weirdness from Japan:
Japan has recently claimed the world air guitar championship, but Weekly Playboy (10/2) notes that less well known is that Japan already had a world champ in another virtual sport -- air sex!

Just like air guitar pits competitors prancing around on stage empty handed but acting as though they were playing a hot riff, air sex requires players to simulate sauciness as though with a partner, but actually while alone.


"You must be warned, though... air sex can be very dangerous," Sugisaku says. "Normally what happens with a display is that you perform the same way you normally would when having sex. I've seen guys who put on air sex shows that clearly display they're still virgins. I've also seen other guys perform such incredibly authentic fake fellatio that nobody has been left in any doubt that they could only be bisexual. Let me reiterate: Air sex can be dangerous."

Japan's reigning air sex world champion is a fella who goes by the name of Cobra. His theory for successful air sex is that it involves more than just blowing.

"On the day that I reached the top, the day I became world champion, I was thinking of my girlfriend. No, my ex-girlfriend. She'd just dumped me two days before the contest," Cobra tells Weekly Playboy. "The air sex display I put on that day was, in my mind at least, supposed to be the farewell fling I really wanted to have with my girlfriend. It was the best possible condition I could have been in going into the competition."

Cobra then proceeds to put on an 8 1/2-minute display of air sex for the weekly, with moves including ear nibbling, sphincter licking, attaching a condom while kissing, ejaculation and afterglow. Cobra says that the knack of bogus bonking lies in openness.

"You can't care about what women watching your performance are thinking about you. When you get down to air sex, you've got to immerse yourself in the air sex world," Cobra says. "Air sex can't be performed in half-measures. If it is, you're only asking for trouble."

So, I have to ask... do they achieve airgasm?

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Just A Quick Thought

John McCain is Arlen Specter with panache, plus the adoration of the media.

They'll both talk a good game about holding the administration in check, and then hand them everything they want on a silver platter under the fig leaf of "compromise."

Lord, deliver us from false moderates.

More Thoughts On Narrative

This is perhaps getting a bit too recursive, but when Blue Gal reacted to the term "scandal fatigue" in my post yesterday talking about Swopa talking about Swopa talking about Peter Daou, it reminded me of a post from late last year, where I took exception to an earlier "scandal fatigue" formulation by Peter Daou, both in the main post and in the comments.

To recap, Daou basically said that there are so many Republican scandals that they've lost their impact. My rebuttal was that:

A) Prosecutors and juries don't care about the Republican or media spin, and indictments and convictions are kinda hard for the media to not report. Plus they pretty effectively take the guilty or indicted person out of circulation for a while.

B) Each additional scandal may have less impact, but they still add to a great big honking Pile O' Scandal, and contribute to an uneasy feeling that maybe, just maybe, the Republicans are less than honest. Of course, a lot of people will probably just shrug it off as "those damn corrupt politicians at it again" without making party distinctions. Which brings me to my final point.

Swopa was trying to come up with a narrative frame that would tie all Republican actions together, so that everything they do would reinforce that narrative, the way the Republicans frame all Democratic actions in terms of either weakness or flip-flopping/inauthenticity. Frankly, "Republicans have dangerously bad judgment" doesn't really resonate for me, although it certainly can be applied to almost everything they do.

So I asked myself, What are the most distinctive Republican traits in the Bush Era? And I came up with Greed, Lust For Power, Contempt For The Law, and Negligence/Incompetence. Attempting to pull all of this together, my narrative recommendation is something along the lines of "Republicans are selfish. They care more about their own enrichment and power than they do about protecting this country or respecting its laws."

It could use some fine-tuning, but I think the basic structure is sound: Republicans always put their own interests ahead of America's. Hmm, maybe I should just stop there...

Riverside Architectural Photoblogging


I don't remember these being here. Somehow I suspect they have Trump's name on them.

But hey, at least they have cool architectural stuff underneath.

And cool shadows.

And even sport!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Swopa Dope

It's all about the narrative:
On Sunday at Needlenose, I posted the first part of a long-procrastinated long-planned series on how Democrats can turn the 2006 elections from a one-time opportunity to take advantage of disastrous Republican negligence into the start of a long-term adjustment in how the American electorate views both parties — overturning the "frames" that have increasingly straitjacketed the donkey party over the past few decades.

Citing my Labor Day post here and Peter Daou’s well-noted essay on scandal fatigue, I wrote:

If Democrats don’t find a way to hang together through a unifying narrative, they’re at much greater risk of having Karl Rove hang them all separately in November. And from the standpoint of rehabilitating the Democratic brand — and weaving a common line of argument than helps Democrats nationwide withstand the barrage of below-the-belt attack ads — the answer to Daou’s dilemma isn’t to pick one or three issues and drive them home, it’s to make all of them one issue, which is what a successful narrative can do.

. . . consider Peter Daou’s cri de couer over NSA spying. Let’s suppose that, rather than simply hammering on the issue independent of any others, Democrats were tying it into a larger argument — saying that it was another reckless, irresponsible example of a president with dangerously bad judgment , which needed to be remedied by electing Democrats who would bring common sense back to Washington.

If that was the case, when a couple of days after Daou’s essay, VP Big Dick Cheney accidentally shoots a hunting companion, it’s not a distraction – it’s exactly the same issue, and an event that powerfully reinforces the contrast of identities that Democrats are presenting.

My point was (and is) that Democrats don’t have to change their beliefs, or cover them up, to build a stronger brand identity — all they have to do is communicate the core values that separate them from Republicans in simpler, more consistent language.


If someone is interested enough ask what our "better way" is, particularly with regard to torture and NSA spying, an added soundbite I would throw in is that the best way to defend America is to be America. The other day at Needlenose, I quoted Ron Suskind on the real front line against terrorism, which is ordinary citizens in obscure locations around the world who might get wind of a plot against the U.S. — if those random citizens react by thinking, "F—ing Americans, they deserve it" instead of "That’s terrible, I should tell the police," America is less safe. When our country is an example of freedom and tolerance across the world — the kind of nation that drew the world’s sympathy after September 11th — America is safer.

There's more, and it's all great stuff - be sure to read that Needlenose post from Sunday. This is not exactly what Swopa said, but I would really like to see Democrats focus their narrative on what an awful job Bush and the Republicans have done on national security. They have done almost nothing to improve our security, merely taken advantage of our fears to excuse tactics that are as unnecessary and counterproductive as they are illegal and evil.

Torture? Against the Geneva Conventions and Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Warrantless wiretapping? FISA allows for 72 hours to obtain a retroactive warrant, which is only an impediment to illegal wiretapping.

Gratuitous unprovoked war? Morally bankrupt, distracted from the far more relevant effort in Afghanistan (we were capture/kill bin Laden and create a model democratic state in Middle East there, remember?), terrorist recruiting/training bonanza.

I'm not sure exactly how to pull that into a coherent narrative, though. Saying that "Given a choice between pragmatism and evil, Republicans will always choose evil," or "Republicans have sold out your safety and your freedom just to make themselves look tough" is probably a bit too strong...

Wednesday Why-I-Love-The-Weekly-World-News Blogging

WASHINGTON D.C. -- Since the advent of the telescope, astronomers have been trying to answer the question "Are we alone in the universe?" Scientists still don't have the answer. But Dr. Al Ternet of the Institute for Miscellaneous Technology has answered a different question.

"I've always asked, 'Is our universe alone?' Now, I have proven the existence of a polyverse, an infinite number of universes, each with a slightly different version of Earth."

To make the concept easy to understand, Dr. Ternet described all existence as a roulette wheel, with each number being a different universe. "If you were a ball, you'd see a different reality every time the wheel was spun. I've managed to become that ball.

"I've created a device I call the Multi-Dimensional Revealer (MDR). Using a combination of sound and light at high frequencies, directed through a prism at certain intervals, I can open a small hole into the dimension that sits right beside our own on the universal roulette wheel."

We asked Dr. Ternet for a demonstration.

"You will be forced to change preconceived ideas about people and events," he warned.

We watched, astounded, as Dr. Ternet carefully chose latitudes and longitudes on the neighboring Earth -- called Earth B -- and showed us shocking sights:

•Bill Clinton was a celibate priest.
• George Bush was a college professor.
•A balding Donald Trump worked as a cashier in a pet shop.
•Paris Hilton ran a soup kitchen in the Third World.
•Britney Spears was a singer.

Among some of the political and cultural differences we saw on Earth B:

•The new Star Wars movie was good.
•Marijuana was legal but coffee was not.
•Iraq was our 51st state.
•Mexico possessed weapons of mass destruction.
Weekly World News was on every library shelf and quoted on evening news programs.

Stunned by the demonstration, we asked Dr. Ternet how civilization will benefit from his invention.

"Civilization?" he said. "I intend to find an Earth where geniuses are considered sexier than rock stars and athletes. Then I'm going to live there."
Heh heh heh. "Dr. Al Ternet." God, I love these people.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


Yo ho ho and a bottle of Dr Pepper, 'tis Talk Like A Pirate Day, me hearties, and me salty blog be the first place to look for scurvy lubbers! 'Twas a frustrating day for a photo pirate, as the skies be bonnie, but the camera be back in port. D'yahhrrr.

Here be some saucy pirate videos to ease the pain:

More Riverside Photoblogging

More blogging from A PROMENADE DOWN BY THE RIVER! Probably not the last of them, since this was where most of my best NYC shots came from.

It's a Lone Duck! By the docks!

A different Lone Duck shakes its head at me.

I think this was some kind of floating walkway, but I'm not really sure what purpose it served, what with being right next to an actual walkway...

Practice makes perfect.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Monday Media Blogging, Part II - Quiz Show Edition





That's Numberwang!

Well, more or less.

(Hat tip to the shadowy and mysterious Codename V. for all three)

Monday Media Blogging - Special Commemorative Mr. T Edition

A Very Special Episode of Monday Media Blogging, celebrating the timeless wisdom of Mr. T, a True American Hero.

Mr. T knows you don't need a lot of money to look like a million bucks (bling tip to Sadly No!).

Mr. T understands how important mothers are.

Unfortunately, Mr. T doesn't know squat about ninjas - apparently only Asian people do.

My New Favorite RealiT Show

Awesome. Yes, I know I use the A-word entirely too often, but I believe that even the most cynical and jaded among you will agree that it is completely appropriate here.

If you're not excited yet, maybe this will help.

I think all reasonable people can agree that Dr. Phil is a sucka.

This Is... Disturbing.

My blog is the number one search result for Republican manliness.


Shouldn't it be Jesus's General or something?

Sunday, September 17, 2006

More Election Musings

I haven't really had a whole lot to say about the Bush administration's desperate efforts to legalize torture and warrantless wiretapping, in order to retroactively make themselves not criminals anymore. (Which is, of course, a tacit admission that they currently are criminals.) It's not that I haven't wanted to, it's just very daunting in its scope, and I'm really not the best person to talk about all the legal ramifications. That would be Glenn Greenwald, who is absolutely amazing and should be read by everybody.

This is a huge turning point in American history, with the United States government on the verge of enshrining the tactics of dictatorship into American law. That congressional Democrats are not railing and fighting against this with everything they've got is shameful and a huge mistake. This is not about fighting against terrorists, this is about fighting for democracy, and I think they're going to lose a lot of votes by shying away from this battle.

A few posts ago, I talked about the Democrats using Bush as a club against congressional Republicans trying to get elected or re-elected. But I think they should do the reverse as well: Demand that their Republican opponents declare how they will vote on the various bills to legalize torture and warrantless wiretapping. If the Republican candidates are trying to distance themselves from Bush, force them to back it up with their votes. If they pressure the Republicans to bring those bills to a vote before the election, they might even be able to stampede the Republicans towards sanity and the rule of law in much the same way the Republicans stampeded the Democrats away from it in 2002 and 2004.

Of course, the key will be to couch it in terms of accountability, core American values, and reciprocal treatment of captured troops (inviting enemies to waterboard them is not exactly "supporting the troops," now is it?). Oh, and be sure to remind everyone that the warrant requirement is retroactive by 72 hours, since no-one else ever bothers to mention it. The Democrats need to use every lever at their disposal to stop the Republicans from completing their desecration of our national character, and Dubya's lame-albatross status is one of the biggest.

As Brad R. at Sadly No! says, grow a pair.

Sunday Softball Blogging - The Last Hurrah Whimper

Well, this was our last game of the season, and I totally sucked - I'm just useless if I don't get batting practice before the game. I ended up 3-for-9 with 2 runs and an RBI. Basically I hit seven really weak ground balls, one bullet ground ball for a hit, and one bullet line drive to right-centerfield gap for a hit that probably would have been a double if no-one had been on base. Anyway, I lost 20 points on my average, and my slugging percentage dipped below 1.000 by one at-bat (or base). Sigh. This'll probably be my career year, too.

Oddly enough, I didn't get a single fly ball in left until the bottom of the ninth, when I got two, and couldn't handle either of them. The second one ricocheted about 20-30 feet off of my knee, which now looks like it just had surgery.

Final 2006 Stats: 20 games, .622 BA (79-127), .992 SLG, 15 2B, 4 3B, 8 HR, 48 runs, 45 RBI.

Career Stats: 47 games, .593 BA (191-322), .807 SLG, 32 2B, 5 3B, 9 HR, 109 runs, 85 RBI.

A very dynamic pitching style.

I just love the accidental-giant-head shots...

Now that's a swing.

Buchanan Calls For Impeachment!

Seriously, Pat Buchanan thinks Bush should be impeached:
Republican firebrand Patrick Buchanan said yesterday that President Bush should be impeached for failing to stem the "invasion" of illegal immigrants across America's Southern border.

"I think he's committed an impeachable offense in refusing to enforce the immigration laws and in failing to uphold the Constitution by defending the states against this invasion," Buchanan told radio talk show host Curt Smith in an interview broadcast yesterday on National Public Radio stations in Buffalo and Rochester.
Um... okay. So lying us into a war that's destroying our military and our moral standing, and violating the law and the Constitution willy-nilly are no big deal, but not erecting a 60-foot electrified iron wall and laser-shark moat along the Mexican border is an impeachable offense?


Still, it's good to see that Bush is even losing the batshit-insane vote now.

Don't Think Of A Painted Elephant.



A LIVE Asian elephant, painted in pink and gold, stands in a makeshift living room. Giant cockroaches swarm over copies of Paris Hilton's pop CD. A dummy angel wearing a gas mask and a white parachute flaps in the blue skies.

Even in free-wheeling Los Angeles, they'd never seen anything quite like this.

British graffiti artist and prankster Banksy has opened his first Los Angeles show in an obscure warehouse in industrial downtown, bringing his subversive humour and anti-capitalist message to a city better known for wealth and self-obsession.


Tai, 38, looms large in a room decked out with a sofa, a television, rugs on the floor and a man and woman sitting reading obliviously on the couch. It is titled Home Sweet Home.

"We are sitting on the couch not seeing her. From what I understand, the elephant is a symbol of all the world's problems being ignored," said Kari Johnson, Tai's caretaker. Mr Johnson said Tai lives on a private southern California elephant ranch and has appeared in several commercials. "The paint is non-toxic and washable and does not hurt a bit," he said.

Banksy, as is his custom, was not around to discuss his show.

It was not known whether Hilton would be visiting the show, which according to local media reports, has been seen by Hollywood celebrities.

Alrighty then. I don't really have anything to add to this...

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Ad Nags Nags Ads

From the reliably hacktacular Adam Nagourney:
From Rhode Island to New Mexico, from Connecticut to Tennessee, President Bush is emerging as the marquee name in this fall’s Congressional elections — courtesy not of his Republican Party but of the Democrats.

A review of dozens of campaign commercials finds that Mr. Bush has become the star of the Democrats’ advertisement war this fall. He is pictured standing alone and next to Republican senators and members of Congress, his name intoned by ominous-sounding announcers. Republican candidates are damned in the advertisements by the number of times they have voted with Mr. Bush in Congress.


There is Mr. Bush on television screens in Colorado... leaning over to plant a big kiss on the forehead of Representative Marilyn Musgrave, a Republican.

There is Mr. Bush on the television screens in New Mexico, standing on a stage shoulder-to-shoulder with Representative Heather A. Wilson, a Republican struggling to keep her seat. “Heather Wilson supports George Bush on the war in Iraq with no questions asked,” the announcer says, in an advertisement for Patricia Madrid, the Democrat.


The strategy has risks. In part, the goal of the Democrats’ advertisements is to rile up their base. But Glen Bolger, a Republican pollster, said that the constant attacks on Mr. Bush appeared to be accomplishing something Republicans had been unable to do: riling up Republican base voters.

“One thing we are seeing in our polling is that the Democratic campaign is helping to jazz up Republican voters,” Mr. Bolger said. “There are two concerns among Republicans: Is our base going to turn out, and how are we going to get out swing voters. The Democrats are taking care of our first concern.”

Many Republicans, and some Democrats [true to form, Ad Nags does not name any], say it will be hard for Democrats to win unless they go beyond attacking Republicans and offer a program of their own. And Ken Mehlman, the Republican national chairman, said the Republicans’ own experience in politics suggested that running against someone who is not on the ballot is challenging. “The last time this kind of morph ad was tried was in ’98 when we tried to nationalize the races against Clinton and it didn’t work,” he said.


Mr. Bush’s image this fall is being invoked by Democrats as a proxy for Americans who want change in Washington; who oppose the war in Iraq; who think Mr. Bush has not done enough to protect the nation from future terrorist attacks; or who are angry with changes Mr. Bush has pressed in Medicare.

“It’s not just photos,” said John Lapp, who runs the Democratic campaign committee’s independent advertising program. “It’s statements and actions and votes that show a pattern of people being with Bush.”
Basically, everyone in the article who says this strategy will not work is a Republican. Hmm, I wonder why that might be...

Personally, I think this is exactly what the Democrats should be doing. It is not a reach to tie Republican incumbents to Bush - they have enabled him for the past six years. They have looked the other way, and even actively covered for him, and that makes them accessories to his crimes.

Keep it up, Democrats. More and more voters are realizing that George W. Bush is driving this country over a cliff, but you need to remind them who gave him the keys. Tie the Dubyatross around all their necks.

I'm actually starting to feel a little bit optimistic now...

Museum Of Natural History Photoblogging

And yet still more NYC photos, this time from wandering around the grounds of the Museum Of Natural History (one of my all-time favorites) with the fabulous res ipsa loquitur.

The American Museum Of Natural History is now the permanent residence of the bottle city of Kandor, last remnant of Krypton.

My inexplicable love affair with drinking fountains continues.

A cozy nook, currently unclaimed.

Teddy Roosevelt again! When life hands me backlighting, I make, um, backlightingade.

Oh, look. Nature.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Friday Quote & Squirrel Action Sequence Blogging

This week's quote is from The House Of Yes, a peculiar indie film where Parker Posey thinks she's Jackie Onassis. Also it has Freddie Prinze Jr. Feh.

"Pennsylvania's just this state that gets in the way when you want to go someplace else."

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

I'm really not entirely sure what his plan was...

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Where's Holden?

From the always-fascinating and sometimes-alarming Pink Tentacle, it's My Little Robot Pony!
Dreaming of owning a pony, but anxious about taking on the necessary responsibilities? Fret no more, there’s an alternative. By the end of the year, Sega Toys will begin selling a life-sized robotic pony.

The 1.2-meter tall, battery-operated Dream Pony (Yume-Kouma) is outfitted with sensors that enable it to react to its environment. Pet the pony’s neck and back and it shakes it head and moves its ears and tail in appreciation, just like the real deal. Dream Pony also responds to audio and visual stimuli with a whole repetoire of reactions — including an anxious-sounding whinny when the room becomes dark and a jerk of the head in response to a sudden loud noise. Dream Pony also comes with a plastic carrot that it attempts to eat when held in front of its face.


Another of Sega’s recent mechanical pets is the popular Dream Cat Smile (Yume-Neko Sumairu), previously known as Near Me (Nyaa Mii is a Japanese play on words mimicking the sound a cat makes). There is a fantastic video (.wmv) on the Near Me homepage (near the bottom) that is worth a look. Another video of Dream Cat Smile can be found on YouTube here. The fluffy white feline is priced at just over 8,000 yen (US$70).

Sega Toys has made significant progress in carving out a market for alternative pets for families unable to keep real animals, and the company is now developing virtual dogs and birds to capitalize on the rising demand for “healing” pet robots. Blade Runner, here we come.
Creepy or cool? What say you?

Quote Of The Week

From Matt Stoller:
Put Karl Rove in charge of the Democratic Party, and we would still lose badly. Put Bob Shrum in charge of the Republican Party, and, well, actually, seriously, please put Bob Shrum in charge of the Republican party.
Heh. Indeed. And amen.

They Get E-Mails

Swim/Hope at Deep Confusion has a lengthy post up about the importance of electoral reform, which is a subject near and dear to my heart. The Democratic party has frustrated and infuriated me with its complacent passivity about election reform; yeah, I'm sort of dimly aware that they're working on it behind the scenes, but where's the urgency? Where's the passion? Why aren't they making a big deal about this and forcing the Republicans to defend their antidemocratic position?

In the post comments, Swim/Hope has urged everyone to write their congresscritters, in hopes that if enough people do so, the Democrats might actually sit up and take notice. So here's my attempt, directed at Representative Mike Doyle, PA-14 (my Senators are Specter and Santorum, so not much point there...):
Where do you stand on election reform (i.e., open, accessible, and accountable elections)? Democrats cannot afford to let Republicans tilt the playing field by weeding out, intimidating, and otherwise discouraging Democratic voters; or possibly even electronically tampering with votes outright.

I know congressional Democrats are working on this, but they're doing it very slowly and quietly, when this is something that should be a high-profile and urgent issue. I understand that there is probably wariness about being labeled sore-loser conspiracy theorists, but that is easily countered by pointing out that the world's greatest democracy should have elections that are above reproach or question, not clouded by mystery and suspicion. If our elections are truly free and fair, the Republicans should want everyone in the world to see it. Force them to either give in to election reform, or else explain why they are so opposed to the ideals of democracy that they profess to love and want to spread across the globe.

Please, I beg of you, take up this cause. Light a fire under your fellow Democratic congressmen and congresswomen. This country cannot afford to let the Republicans mute or distort the voice of the people any longer.
I don't know if he'll do anything with it, but maybe he can slip it to Conyers or Waxman or Waters...

Happy Burghday To Me!

It just occurred to me today, that as of, um, sometime this week I will have been in Pittsburgh for 15 years.

Wow. Where did all the time go?

...In A Photoblogging Down By The River!

Some photos from Riverside Park and, well, the riverside.

They're coming for you...

I know that the human and the cyclist can coexist peacefully.

We're sorry, but the river is currently under construction. Please come back another time.

New York has seagulls too! I had no idea.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Operation "We Meant To Do That" Continues

Diane at cab drollery spots an interesting bit of spin from our intrepid Homeland Security Czar:
Osama bin Laden, Mr. Chertoff said, has made it clear that scaring the United States into an unsustainable spending spree is one of his aims. In a 2004 video, Mr. bin Laden, the Qaeda leader, spoke of “bleeding America to the point of bankruptcy.”

“He understood that one tool he had in waging war against the United States was to drive us crazy, into bankruptcy, trying to defend ourselves against every conceivable threat,” Mr. Chertoff said at a hearing of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. “We have to be realistic about what we expect and what we do. We do have limits, and we do have choices to make.”


Mr. Chertoff said his message was not political, but simply a recognition of reality and the tough choices he must make.

Moving ahead will require billions of dollars in spending to finish installation of radiation detection equipment at ports by next year, build fences or high-tech barriers at borders to control illegal immigration, enhance railroad safety programs and install new explosives detection equipment at airports.


But the list of initiatives cannot be limitless, Mr. Chertoff said. A mandate, for example, that every cargo container headed into the United States be X-rayed and subject to a radiation scan before it leaves a foreign port to search for a possible nuclear bomb is not now feasible, he said.
So, basically, the insidiously diabolical Osama bin Laden is trying to trick us into securing our ports and plants, but Chertoff and the Bush administration are too canny and resolute to fall into his clever trap:
Mr. Chertoff, since he was named secretary in February 2005, has talked of the need to make spending risk-based, but his department has also been lambasted for compiling a list of possible targets that included a petting zoo, a bourbon festival and a popcorn factory, while at the same time it cut antiterrorism grants to high-risk cities like Washington and New York.
Thank God we have a government that knows how to focus on the bare essentials, and which understands that the only truly effective strategies against terror are unnecessary wars and tax cuts. Although, come to think of it, I'm pretty sure that dismantling Social Security would be a dagger to the heart that al Qaeda would never recover from.

More Fun With Google

In the top 5 or 6 results for disturbing moments, and (I am particularly proud of this one) #1 result for simultaneous wedgies.

Yes, that's right: If you type in simultaneous wedgies and then click "I'm feeling lucky", it should take you right to my blog. Which I think is as it should be.

Wednesday Why-I-Love-The-Weekly-World-News Blogging

Well, I'm sure this will come in handy...
THE RESULTS of an exciting new survey reveal the 10 best opening lines most effective in convincing a Republican woman to offer a man a night of bed-pounding, backscratching, hot monkey love!

..."In addition to the opening lines, we discovered a number of surprising insights," reveals Dr. Leland. "For instance, three times as many Democrat men as Republicans want to sleep with Republican women.

"When we asked them why, the Democrats responded that they had a strong urge to do to these women what the Republican party is doing to the country."

Here are the survey's 10 best opening lines to get Republican women in bed:

1 You know, in this light you look like you could be Laura Bush's younger, more desirable sister.

2 Sorry if I seem aggravated -- I'm still upset about that world-class jerk, Michael Moore.

3 Allow me to buy you a drink. After all, thanks to our beloved President, the economy has never been better!

4 I'd love to hang out with you, but I can't make it a late night -- I'm shipping out to Falluja in the morning.

5 The tattoo on my manhood spells "RAN." But when I get excited, it spells "REPUBLICAN."

6 To see you naked, I would turn in my own mother to the Department of Homeland Security.

7 If I had to choose between having a Republican President in the White House for the rest of this century, or never being able to see your cleavage again, I'd be stumped.

8 I'm all for No Child Left Behind. I'm even more for your child-like behind.

9 Just as the Republican Party boldly confronts big challenges, nothing would please me more than you confronting the big challenge rapidly growing right now in my pants.

10 Because of President Bush's leadership, we are strong; because of his vision, we will be even stronger; and because I can't stop thinking about your ass, I haven't been able to stand up for the last half hour.
I think the last three are definitely the best. Totally can't-miss.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006


I know I'm hardly the first to ask either of these, but I'm going to throw them out there anyway:

1) What happens if BushCo. continues to increase the power of the Executive... and then a Democrat gets elected? Would the Republicans try to undo everything real quick if they saw the writing on the wall? Would the Democratic president be willing or able to use their extraordinary powers to fix the extraordinary mess the Bushies left behind?

2) Where are all the congressional Abramoff indictments? Please tell me the prosecutors aren't stalling until after the midterm elections.

A Thought Occurs

As much of a disaster as a Tony Snow presidency would be, I have to admit that I would be tickled to read about the "Snow White House" in the news every day.

Celebration Of Achievement

I bow my head in deepest respect:
Teenage boys — and a lot of grown men — could learn a lot from Thomas Vogel. On Saturday, the German man displayed dazzling dexterity to break the Guinness world record for the most brassieres unhooked in one minute using one hand, shattering the record with an eye- and clasp-popping 56 opened bras in 60 seconds.

The Bavarian bra-buster did so on the set of a TV show in Cologne, with a bevy of bra-covered beauties lined up to assist him. Vogel bested the Guinness world record previously held by Aussie Rick Canzler, who unhooked 42 bras on June 19 of last year in Sydney....

*holds lighter aloft in silent salute*

The article also has some pointers on improving one's... technique, and some not-especially-funny celebrity bra stories from not-really-celebrities.

Not Sure How I Feel About This...

Apparently my blog is the #1 Google search result for human gonad photos.

My gut feeling is that no good can come of this.

More Personal Nostalgic Photoblogging

Some photos that are probably meaningful only to me...

There used to be a perfectly normal apartment building about a block away from where I lived, and it was torn down and replaced with a building that looked like a television. I don't remember there being a VCR on top; maybe they added that later.

A more extreme angle on the TV Building. Did I mention it's a school?

My old apartment building. Our apartment was HUGE.

My old grade school. Note that it does not look like a television.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Nostalgic Photoblogging

From 1987, my senior year in high school, back when I was still a New Yorker and knew the towers would stand forever.