Monday, July 31, 2006


Most of the time, I'm an extraordinarily good Christian.

--Ann Coulter, interview at

You have to read the whole thing. It's a train wreck -- the questions are serious, and Coulter has clearly crammed for the test, but she can't break out of the riffing-Vegas-insult-comic rhythm:

... You say that the Episcopal Church is "barely even a church." Why?

Because it's become increasingly difficult to distinguish the pronouncements of the Episcopal Church from the latest Madonna video.

Are churches that don't agree with your politics or religious beliefs not really churches?

Correct: They're called "mosques." ...

It's Christian apologetics with a two-drink minimum. She's Andrew "Dice" Aquinas.

Bonus: Ann Coulter's Favorite Bible Verses. No, really.

Qana You Sink Any Lower, Confederate Yankee?
Bobo Owens Claims Airstrike Deaths Were Staged

According to wingnut extraordinaire Bobowens of Confederate Yankee, the Lebanese civilians who died this past weekend at Qana staged their own deaths just to make Israel look bad. Or something like that.

Inspired by an article posted on a rightwing Israeli website , Bobowens and sundry likeminded jackals have apparently been spending an inordinate amount of time mired in gory photographs documenting the horrors committed at Qana.

Based on just the web posting, a Wikipedia entry on rigor mortis, and his own, keen CSI skillset, Bobowens reaches his harsh verdict:
I, for one, see clear evidence of a most revolting Hezbollah fraud.
Suicide most foul!
The whole thing was staged! Who knew Hezbollah was so devilishly ingenious? Oh, the author of the rightwing Israeli website piece knew it, and he even has a word for it: Hezbollywood.

Careful, though--regarding Bobowens' verdict as that of a crazed conspiracy theorist just might get you IDed as Hezbollah yourself (and eligible for prompt bombing by the IDF?):
Assuredly, Hezbollah's supporters will accuse those questioning the Qana attacks as conspiracy theorists, so I simply advise that viewers view the evidence with their own eyes, and draw their own conclusions from there.
Just trust your eyes, wingers, that's where you'll find the truthiness of the matter.

The Newest Threat to Our Military:

Jon Swift has notified us of a new danger within the ranks of our very own military -- community theater actors! He tells us the terrifying story of Bleu Copas, a soldier who was accused in an anonymous email of being gay, a strict no-no in this man's army. In following up on the accusations, army investigators asked Copas if he acted in community theater, and his positive response was all they needed to boot him out of the service for good.
It turns out that while he was serving in the military, unbeknownst to his superiors, Bleu Copas (whose name sounds like a stage name, which should have been a clue) had acted in three community theater musical productions: 'Ragtime', 'Children of Eden', and 'Beauty and the Beast'. And apparently he has not reformed his theatrical ways since being drummed out of the military as he has just been cast as the male lead in a production of 'Bye, Bye Birdie'. I don't know how many of you have seen a community theater production, but I can tell you from horrifying first-hand experience that community theater is not very good at all. The thought of one of our fighting men tromping around onstage with a bunch of amateur actors in front of slapped together plywood scenery singing wretched show tunes is just too horrible to imagine. I don't know how many other soldiers are currently involved in community theater but I think the Pentagon needs to launch a full-scale investigation immediately. If it turns out that there is a cabal of thespians in the military recruiting other soldiers to perform in sad little theaters across the country, it needs to be nipped in the bud as soon as possible for the safety of our country.
Agreed. Which is why is was extra-horrifying to read in the treasonous newspaper of record, the New York Times, about a theater program in Maine which teaches storytelling and acting to wounded soldiers as a way to assist in their rehabilitation. So, on one hand, we are kicking them out of the military if they are actors and on the other hand we are 'helping' them by teaching them acting? This sounds like a commie moonbat plot!

And once we realize the program is a plot, we are not surprised to learn that the originator of the program is a Catholic monk.
The idea for the program came from Brother Rick Curry, a Jesuit who founded the workshop 19 years ago to provide what he simply calls 'options' for disabled theater artists. About 3,000 disabled students have participated in acting, music, dance and writing classes since 1977, said Brother Curry, 63, but the program had never before specifically sought out veterans. Last July, however, he met an Iraq war veteran whose leg had been amputated above the knee. Brother Curry, who often wears a clerical collar, recalled that the veteran "pulled me aside and said: 'Brother, I don't know where I am. I'm more scared than I was in Iraq.'"
As if that is going to happen. As if one of our brave, wounded veterans is going to have any doubts at all even if they have left body parts behind in Iraq.
Brother Curry wondered if theater might help the soldier find his way. "I thought that a writing program would work," he explained. "They all have a story to tell, and telling a story theatrically gives you a voice that you can share. It emboldens you."

He speaks from experience. He was born without a right hand and forearm. When he was 6, his father enrolled him in an acting class near their home in Philadelphia to help him eliminate a stutter. Brother Curry said he experienced 'the transformative power of the arts.' He recalls the class as 'a watershed in his life,' saying acting inspired him with confidence.
Once we realize the depths to which the obviously deranged moonbat crackpots have sunk, we should be concerned about what they are going to do to our brave wounded veterans!
The staff members had their reservations as well. "I was concerned at first," said Jerome McGill, an alumnus of the acting program who now serves as a resident playwright and mentor. "I thought these guys have kind of a macho sensibility." But the program's communal lifestyle and rigorous morning-to-evening schedule helped the two groups quickly integrate. "I realized after the first day that they really did fit in," Mr. McGill said.
So, the deranged moonbat lunatics are forcing our brave soldiers to live communally as if they were just abject communists. And they are forcing them to follow a rigorous daily schedule. What other indignities are they imposing on these brave young men?
Mr. Conforti's work is supported by that staple of creative writing workshops everywhere: peer criticism. Faculty and students take meals together. Trading ideas and stories throughout the day, the veterans describe the program as a "full-immersion" experience.
Isn't 'full immersion' considered torture now? And the brave soldiers have to tolerate the additional torture of constant and unrelenting criticism -- at breakfast, lunch and dinner!
And what is the ultimate nefarious goal of the disturbed moonbat head cases?
Mr. McGill said the work's impact would go beyond the individuals who create it. "We're going to have a whole new population of people with disabilities helping to create a body of dramatic literature about disability," he said. "It's going to enrich the literature we create."
Sounds like a plan for world domination to me!

Cross posted to Little Green Fascists.
Julia would like to remind you that if anti-war Democrats really were engaging in a "purge," a certain other non-peacenik Northeastern marquee-name Senate Democrat who's up for reelection would be feeling the wrath of the Stalinists, which is decidedly not the case.


Leftist Plans Sit-Ins to Challenge Mexico Vote

Maybe they can teach us something about how democracy works.
Living in Europe with its numerous political parties makes the failure of third parties in the US even more striking and quizzical for me. At Sadly,No! , Retardo Montalban wades into the contentitious issue of third party politics, and admirably avoids getting bogged down in a discussion of 2000 and the attendant finger-pointing. He concludes with:

I agree that as a practical matter, supporting a third party is suicidal. But until it's acknowledged what drives the Left into the arms of third parties and something's done about it, it'll keep happening. The Left always gets killed; the height of cruelty is to demand that it shouldn't die at least on its own terms.

As one who has felt driven out of the Democratic Party for the last several elections (to the point of driving me out of the US), I can say that one problem is the utter refusal of the Party leadership to engage substantively in the issues which I deem important. The namby-pambying about Iraq is only Exhibit ZZ in a long line of major disappointments from the supposedly "centrist" Dems who supposedly know how to win elections (alternative energy, major electoral reform, education, blah blah, you can list your own).

And don't tell me to work within the established structure. I tried that in New York, Indiana and California, and there was almost zero input into national policy at the local party level. I understand that under Dean that has changed somewhat, but the DLC are still not welcoming us with open arms, which is a stark contrast to how the GOP wooed Southern conservative voters. Without wanting to replay 2000, I would dare to say that if Gore had made any acknowledgements of the concerns of Nader voters (he wouldn't even mention Nader's name until the very late days) about the environment, consumer protection, et al., that he wouldn't have lost Florida (assuming those votes would have been counted correctly).

Look, Dem leaders, I'm here to tell you that we progressives can be bought cheap. Really. Just tell us, as Clinton did, that you are concerned about our issues, and we'll be right there with you. We just want to be listened to (and loved). Is that so wrong?

Rock star Ted Nugent is speaking out again, this time for Michigan Republican U-S Senate candidate Mike Bouchard.

Nugent and Bouchard, the Oakland County, Michigan, sheriff, met with supporters tonight before the "Motor City Madman" performed at a Sault Sainte Marie casino.

Bouchard faces Troy minister Keith Butler in the August-eighth G-O-P primary. The winner will face incumbent Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow in November...


Longtime readers of my blog have seen most of these already, but here are a few of Nugent's most charming quips:

"My being there (South Africa) isn't going to affect any political structure. Besides, apartheid isn't that cut-and-dry. All men are not created equal." - Detroit Free Press Magazine , July 15, 1990

"...Yeah, we want to go to Saudi Arabia, man, and see if we can't get a four iron and knock people's laundry off the top of their heads. Wear laundry on your head and die, is the basic theme of the Damn Yankees ... (The Damn Yankees was Ted's band in the '90s)" - WRIF-FM, Detroit, Ted Nugent as guest D.J., September 25, 1990

"... Yeah they love me (in Japan) - they're still assholes. These people they don't know what life is. I don't have a following, they need me; they don't like me they need me ... Foreigners are assholes; foreigners are scum; I don't like 'em; I don't want 'em in this country; I don't want 'em selling me doughnuts; I don't want 'em pumping my gas; I don't want 'em downwind of my life-OK? So anyhow-and I'm dead serious ..." - WRIF-FM, Detroit, Ted Nugent as guest D.J., November 19, 1992

About Hillary Clinton: "You probably can't use the term 'toxic cunt' in your magazine, but that's what she is. Her very existence insults the spirit of individualism in this country. This bitch is nothing but a two-bit whore for Fidel Castro." - Westword Newspaper , Denver, Colorado, July 27, 1994

... Interviewed in late '92 on WRIF-FM ... he referred to Heidi Prescott (of The Fund for Animals) as a 'worhtless whore' and a 'shallow slut' and suggested 'Who needs to club a seal, when you could club Heidi?' Detroit Free Press , April 5, 1995

More here.

Bouchard leads Butler in the polls.

Forget Ann Coulter -- why is Nugent not beyond the pale? Because he rawks?


This weekend, the Israeli Defense Force bombed a compound in Qana where two large extended Lebanese families had taken shelter from Israel's reign of death and destruction. The dead are in the dozens, mostly children.

Will Martin Peretz allow me to note that those who murder innocent people are not innocent? Will Alan Dershowitz permit me to point out that the man whose five children, aged two to fifteen, perished, is indeed a victim undeserving of the horror brought on him, even though on NPR I heard him swear allegiance to Hizbullah and Nasrallah? Will Leon Wieseltier, Peter Beinart, and Marshall Wittman sanction my right to speak about the Israeli Brigadier General who attempted to justify the so-called 48-hour hiatus in bombing when even the IDF admits it is no such thing? The general simply could not answer the question about how the "hiatus" differs from the status quo. Are Al From and his friends Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman going to call me anti-Semitic for labeling this IDF general, and by extension, the Israeli power establishment, as the apotheosis of Orwellian?

If there's one thing to take from this episode, other than the starkly frightening voice of the Lebanese man who said on the radio "Israel will be razed. It will be cancelled from the map," it is that Joe Lieberman must be destroyed. Because Israel must suffer a defeat after this; we cannot allow it to move beyond this unscathed, and Lieberman's defeat will be a defeat for Israel, only without the death of innocents. God knows that Joe Lieberman, along with Peretz, Dershowitz, Wieseltier, Beinart, Wittman, From, Rosen, and Weissman, not to mention that Brigadier General, are not innocent.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Stupidly fighting a war in a way that radicalizes the populace, destabilizes the region, and almost certainly threatens to create more terrorists? Check:

An Israeli air raid on the southern Lebanese town of Qana killed dozens of civilians on Sunday, many of them children, marking the bloodiest day of this conflict....

... there is ... pressure from allied Arab nations like Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, who want to see Hezbollah diminished but who sense rising anger about the civilian death toll in Lebanon among their populations.

Demonstrators in Beirut attacked a United Nations building, breaking windows and ransacking some floors. They carried signs reading: "Arabs, you chickens," and "American-made bombs, dropped by Israeli planes, with Arab cover."...

The crowd chanted slogans against the Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak, saying: "Zionist, oh Zionist, Hosni Mubarak is a Zionist."...

Losing ground when you were sure your tactics would bring a quick, glorious victory? Check:

On Sunday, Hezbollah fired more than 156 rockets into northern Israel, the Israeli Army said, the highest total so far in the fighting....

It almost seems as if America was jealous of Islamicist groups like Al Qaeda that seem to have exported their war-fighting style to other fighters -- so we exported ours to Israel.

More Good News Out of Iraq!

BAGHDAD, Iraq, July 29 - The State Department agency in charge of $1.4 billion in reconstruction money in Iraq used an accounting shell game to hide ballooning cost overruns on its projects there and knowingly withheld information on schedule delays from Congress, a federal audit released late Friday has found.

The [United States Agency for International Development] hid construction overruns by listing them as overhead or administrative costs, according to the audit, written by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, an independent office that reports to Congress, the Pentagon and the State Department...

The findings appeared in an audit of a children's hospital in Basra, but they referred to the wider reconstruction activities of the development agency in Iraq.
But they asked permission to count it that way:

In March 2005, A.I.D. asked the Iraq Reconstruction and Management Office at the United States Embassy in Baghdad for permission to downsize some projects to ease widespread financing problems. In its request, it said that it had to "absorb greatly increased construction costs" at the Basra hospital and that it would make a modest shift of priorities and reduce "contractor overhead" on the project.

The embassy office approved the request. But the audit found that the agency interpreted the document as permission to change reporting of costs across its program.

Referring to the embassy office's approval, the inspector general wrote, "The memorandum was not intended to give U.S.A.I.D. blanket permission to change the reporting of all indirect costs."
I wonder if some former Enron executives were involved.

The report said it suspected that other unreported costs on the hospital could drive the tab even higher. In another case cited in the report, a power station project in Musayyib, the direct construction cost cited by the development agency was $6.6 million, while the overhead cost was $27.6 million.

One result is that the project's overhead, a figure that normally runs to a maximum of 30 percent, was a stunning 418 percent.
Meanwhile, Sergeant Lucas Murray managed to build a playground for Iraqi kids using no Federal funds at all:

The constant weapons raids and roadside bomb explosions began to weigh on the mind of Sergeant Lucas Murray during his year in Iraq. Watching local children play soccer, with artillery shells marking the goals, made the Boston parks architect think he could make a lasting contribution to the community simply by doing what he did for a living back home.

He built a playground.

With donations from a playground equipment company and muscle from friends in the National Guard, he constructed the park he had dreamed of, giving the children of Abraham Jaffas, north of Baghdad, somewhere to play other than trash heaps in a town still devastated from the invasion three years ago.

"The children of Iraq are the ones we want to grow up seeing us as the good guys, as opposed to an organization that came in to remove a dictator and left them worse off," Murray said. "This was my strategy for helping the war effort on a humanitarian level. We built something permanent to leave behind."
I'm thinking we put Murray in charge of reconstruction and there might actually be some hope for Iraq.


The Basra hospital mentioned was championed by Laura Bush and Condoleeza Rice. This is what Dr. Chasib Latif Ali, executive director of the Health Ministry, said about that project and others:

"The Americans have made a lot of promises to us, but not even 10 percent of them have materialized."

He said that, of nearly 180 medical facilities promised by the U.S., contracts were awarded for 142. Only six have been completed and turned over to the Iraqis and those "are not even fully complete."

"This comes as a sharp contrast to the Japanese," Ali said. "They have promised and delivered 13 hospitals around the country, including three cutting-edge cancer centers. The Japanese have been very faithful to us, unfortunately, the Americans aren't like that."
I guess the problem is that we promised too much to the Iraqis. Maybe if we promised 6 hospitals to them and 136 to Bechtel, we could have delivered. Or we could have promised playgrounds to the Iraqis. Now, there's an idea!

Bomb their infrastructure to kingdom come and then build playgrounds. That'll work!

I have been meaning to write "lighter" post about living in Austria, amongs the "Wieners" focusing (as is my wont) on the strange and bizarre aspects of being here. While I hate the typical "Oh my God, these people do things differently from us, isn't that kooky!" type of narrative that afflicts Slate's (among others) travel writers, there are some things that I find rather inexplicable from a culture so similar to the one I know from the US. Chief among these:

It's a great town for dogs but they don't pick up their dogs' shit. Having a very cute Labrador, I am grateful that Vienna has a lot of parks and green space which are open to dogs, and that dogs are allowed on the buses, trains and in restaurants (I can feel all you dog haters crossing Vienna off your itineraries right now). BUT, even though this is a clean city where people don't throw trash on the streets, dog owners do NOT clean up their dog poops. Even though they all eventually step in some other doggies' do, it does not occur to them to, as Gandhi said, "be the change they want." I have no explanation for this, unless it is related to the fact that:

Wieners openly and unashamedly break their own laws. One friend of mine here was commenting about driving in America and was amazed how much Americans mind the speed limits as compared to Austrians (even thought heir speed limits are higher). I, in turn, was amazed that he thought this, but it made me realize that most Americans break laws guiltily, whereas here they do it without qualms. On any given bus or train about 80% of the people are "Schwartzfaherer", i.e., those who ride without paying. There are occasional inspectors, but there are also websites that list the stations at which the inspectors will be on a given day.

Wieners are generally pretty grumpy people. When even Germans complain that Wieners are dour, you know something is amiss. For a people who invented the term Gemütlichkeit, they don't seem to be enjoying themselves very much. Again, I have no explanation for this. This is a clean (except see above) attractive well-run city with a good economy and a better climate than most of central Europe. I think it may have something to do with the fact they still haven't gotten over going from the largest empire in Europe at one time to a country the size of Maryland. Another Wiener friend of mine commented that "we don't like the Germans, we don't like the Swiss, we don't like the Italians, and we don't like ourselves very much either." The only ones they tolerate are the Hungarians, their partners in lost empiredom. This sense-of-superiority-while-looking-for-something-to-feel-superior-to feeds (I believe) into the following tendency:

Wieners like telling other people what to do. Again, when Germans complain that Wieners nag too much, you know it's a serious problem. These nags are particularly (it seems) sharp when it's over something that doesn't concern them in the slightest. E.g., when I ride my bike with my dog next to me on the leash, I always receive someone yelling at me about how I am endangering his life, even though if I were in an accident, the first thing I would do would be let go of the leash so he wouldn't be dragged into it.

And, the thing I find most annoying (OK, besides stepping in other dogs' crap):

Wieners are notorious line-cutters. Anyone who has ever been in a queue in the Third World will recognize the "triangle formation" of most Wien queues, with the apex somewhere at the end of the line and the base at the front, where numerous people are trying to edge their way in. The old ladies are particularly good at this, it seems. Also, if you are in line at a supermarket, and another cash register opens, sprint as quickly as you can to the new line, because everyone else is. None of this "I can help the next person," stuff here. By the way, if you think American sales clerks hate their jobs, wait until you see the ones here. And while we're on the subject:

Most bars and many restaurants here do not have cash registers. This can cause getting drinks at bars to be agonizingly slow, as the ubiquitous leather money pouch must be opened and the correct change pulled from the mass of coins inside. Again, I have no explanation why this is so. The technology exists, I have seen it.

OK, disclaimers: I have largely enjoyed my time here. As I said, this is a very livable and affordable city, with a lot of stuff going on, and once you make some friends, you make very deep and lasting friendships. But it is always the things one doesn't expect that stand out.

One final warning: if you are here and it is your birthday, don't mention it in a bar unless you want to buy a round for the house. That is the tradition here, the reverse of what we are used to (fortunately, on my birthday my friends here understood this and bought me a round - my tradition rules!) . I am told it is this way in most of Europe except England, so it is not specific to Vienna, but I thought it a useful bit of advice for my fellow travelers - it can save you a lot of money.

God, Can't Imagine How THAT Happened

The NY Times, still clinging to the quaint notion that some civility might be shamed out of the Bush administration, bemoans the partisan divide over Iraq which, according to some polls cited, exceeds that over Vietnam. And of course they are concerned about this affecting the famed congeniality of the Senate. In good Times fashion, they go first to Inside-the-Beltway types for money quotes.

"The old idea that politics stops at the water's edge is no longer with us, and I think we've lost something as a result," said John C. Danforth, a former senator and an ambassador to the United Nations under President Bush.

Well, gosh and golly, J.C., why do you suppose that is.? Could it be because YOUR former boss made it a partisan issue? That he has consistently portrayed the Democrats as acting against American interests when they cast doubt (in the mildest terms possible) on any of his nitwitted foreign policy ventures? Or because the Republicans control the Executive and the Legislature and have rammed through idiotic proposals without even consulting the Democrats (or giving them time to read the legislation) and then acucsing the Dems of being obstructionist?

This is not meant to rag on John Danforth who is a good and decent man (even if his name does sound suspiciously like John Danforth (Dan) Quayle) and has taken the Bush administration to task in the NY Times. But to rue the loss of this mythic bipartisanship and not to point out who is to blame is telling half the story at best

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Herr Perfesser: Filthy Liar

Josh Marshall has the "dark and shameful" details.

Update: (I'm slow on the uptake here--Atrios linked to this hours ago. But I'm going to leave it up anyway. I like the look of it.)

Update 2: Digby's got great post up on this topic, and Atrios has more .

Update 3: Roy Edroso dramatizes the case nicely.
Breaking: Now We Will Win In Iraq!

BAGHDAD, Iraq - The U.S. command confirmed Saturday that it will move about 3,700 troops to Baghdad to try to quell violence in the capital.

The 172nd Stryker Brigade, which had been due to leave Iraq after a year's assignment, will be sent from northern Iraq to the capital, Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the top U.S. commander in Iraq, said.
They'll be all rested and refreshed when they get to Baghdad, so this transfer means we will definitely win the war, now! And Casey agrees with me:
"This will place our most experienced unit with our most mobile and agile systems in support of our main effort," Casey said. "With the rest of the elements of the plan, this gives us a potentially decisive capability to affect security in Baghdad."

The statement followed President Bush's decision this week to bolster American forces in Baghdad to try to stem the tide of Sunni-Shiite violence - now seen as a greater threat to Iraq than the Sunni-led insurgency.
I just can't wait until we win the war and that sweet Iraqi crude starts flowing again. I'm going to buy me a Hummer when that happens!

Cross-posted to Little Green Fascists. It's hard work to write posts for both blogs, as LGF, as we like to call it, is much less sophisticated than Roger's blog!
But We're Safer From Terrorism Now, Right?

(AP) Undercover government investigators purchased sensitive surplus military equipment such as launcher mounts for shoulder-fired missiles and guided missile radar test sets from a Defense Department contractor...

In June, two GAO investigators spent $1.1 million on such equipment at two excess property warehouses. Their purchases included several types of body armor inserts used by troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, an all-band antenna used to track aircraft, and a digital signal converter used in naval surveillance.

"The body armor could be used by terrorists or other criminal activity," noted the report, obtained Friday by The Associated Press.

"Many of the other military items have weapons applications that would also be useful to terrorists." Thousands of items that should have been destroyed were sold to the public, the report said. Much of the equipment was sold for pennies on the dollar...

At least 2,669 sensitive military items were sold to 79 buyers in 216 sales transactions from November 2005 to June 2006.

It wouldn't be so bad if the GAO had just discovered the problem, but this isn't the first time they have told the Defense Department about it:

"During previous hearings we learned DOD was a bargain basement for would-be terrorists due to lax security screening of excess military equipment," [Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Conn., chairman of the House Government Reform Committee's national security panel,] said in a statement Friday. "Based on GAO's most recent undercover investigation it looks like the store is still open."

Heck of a job, Dubya Administration!
Seattle Erupts Into Holy War
Wingnuts man battlestations, prepare for long hard slog

Pajamas Media
(no link, on second thought) makes first contact with the enemy and--surprise!--it's the MSM:
22:48 PDT Let the Spin Begin! The AP is already being careful in its reporting on the Seattle shootings: "The gunman, who employees said claimed to be a Muslim angry at Israel." Emphasis added [sic].
AP being careful. Can you effing imagine? Don't these idiots know we're at war? The Constitution's not a suicide pact, after all, yada yada yada.

And then there's this:
23:26 PDT Champion of Free "Expression." The New York Times begins its first story on the Seattle shootings thus: "Five people were injured and one was killed Friday afternoon when a man who expressed anger toward Jews opened fire in the offices of the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle, the authorities said." Story is handled at the bottom of the page under "More News." At the top of the page with full color illustration: Casualties of War: Lebanon's Trees, Air and Sea. (NYT)
You can't make this stuff up. We're trying to fight WWIII here and these cheese-eating French surrender monkeys would have us humping foreign trees, etc. Jesus wept!

More later as the fighting unfolds...

Update: Steve M. in comments points us to reaction from the ne plus ultra of wingnuttery, Michelle Malkin. Says Malkin of the FBI's conclusion that the shooting is probably not terrorism-related: "Crikey."

Update 2: Steve M. has much more on this story, as does Tom Hilton.

[Edited incessantly.]

Friday, July 28, 2006

More Correct Facts from Ann Coulter

The other day, Coulter displayed the careful fact checking which has made her a household name. Chris Matthews didn't even notice:

On the July 27 edition of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews, in addition to asserting that former Vice President Al Gore is a "total fag" and suggesting that the American people would like to see the U.N. headquarters bombed, right-wing pundit Ann Coulter also pronounced herself "in awe of the voters of South Carolina" -- a pronouncement that might be true, if by "Carolina," she meant "Dakota," and if by "in awe of," she meant "disgusted with." Coulter was erroneously crediting activists who oppose abortion rights with garnering enough public support to place an abortion ban on the ballot. In fact, it was supporters -- not opponents -- of abortion rights in South Dakota -- not Carolina -- who placed a measure on the November ballot that would allow voters to uphold or strike down a state law banning most abortions.

Contact Sporty: theskewer(at)[the extremely warm] if you wish.
Breaking: George W. Bush Apologizes ... Sort Of

Staff at Prestwick Airport in Scotland have been uncomfortable with handling the flights of American planes stopping there for re-fueling because the planes are carrying bombs for Israel. This issue is being investigated by the British government and it appears there have been procedural errors in notifying the Scots about the planes' cargo. The matter came up in discussion at Tony Blair's meetings with the President at the White House today:

Briefing reporters after the discussions, Mr Blair's official spokesman told reporters: "President Bush did apologise for the fact that proper procedures were not followed, but that was all.

"It was just one line. As part of the introduction, the president said sorry there was a problem.

"It was a gracious thing to do."
Friday Cat Blogging!

Greatest Cat of All Time

Not the Greatest Cat of All Time
Bilmon Says it Best About Israel in Lebanon

"The military and political leaders of the Jewish state are doing and saying things that go way beyond the blustering arrogance of a powerful nation at war. Not to put too fine a point on it, but they are behaving like a gang of miltaristic thugs -- whose reply to any criticism or reproach is an expletive deleted and the smash of an iron fist...

This all might be considered normal military behavior for, oh say, a Bosnian Serb militia captain, circa 1991, but when the political and military leaders of an allegedly civilized state start talking this way, something big is going on, and going wrong. The dehumanization of the enemy (much of the Israeli press routinely uses the word "terrorist" to refer to any Hizbullah fighter or Palestinian militant), combined with the rage and humiliation at not being able to stop the rain of rockets falling on northern Israel, are knocking the props out from under whatever remains of Israel's claim to be different from, and morally superior to, its enemies...

If there's one thing that should be obvious from this God awful tragedy in the making, it's that history has a savage sense of irony -- cruel and pitiless almost beyond belief. That Israel, haven to Holocaust survivors, should find itself in this situation, and respond to it in this way, is enough to make the very walls of Jerusalem weep. As I weep now."

Go read if you haven't already.

...Er, sort of. She's finally found a candidate who's not embarrassed to be seen with her on the campaign trail:

This guy.

He's Jeffers MacArthur Dodge and he's running for ... er, well, he's only running for the California State Assembly (warning: utterly inappropriate audio -- a cover version of Midnight Oil's not-even-remotely-right-wing "Beds Are Burning"). Ann's kicking off his campaign with a fund-raiser at Culver Studios -- which, as Mr. Dodge gleefully points out, is the site of Tara from the movie Gone with the Wind.

(Hey, Ann -- your guy picks this site for a fund-raiser and you're making wisecracks about Clinton and Gore's heterosexuality?)

Mr. Dodge makes videos and engineers music for such Z-listers as Michael McCarthy and the Beautiful Fools and Rainlord. He also provides Web services, e.g., for Media Drool. (Which really might be the ugliest site ever designed.) And he made this utterly incoherent 9/11 video, which seems to suggest that on that day Hitler flew airplanes from Saturn into the lower floors of the Twin Towers, after which the terrorists fled, leading their camels. (I may be garbling a few plot points.)

Despite my offensive snark a couple of paragraphs up, Mr. D. is very much anti-gay -- so much so that he wants to prevent businesses from choosing to offer benefits to domestic partners. (Being pro-capitalist doesn't mean letting capitalist enterprises decide these things for themselves -- not when there are yahoos to pander to!) He's also "Against Transsexual/Cross Dressing in Workplace."

He thinks it's important to "secure the boarder." He compares the ACLU to the Nazi Party under Hitler. Oh, and his policy on transportation?

"Flintstones" vs. "The Jetsons" - The choice is yours.

Er ... yeah, right. Got it.

Ann, I think you've found a guy who is to public service what you are to human decency.


The Austrian Connection

One of the four UN observers killed in the Israelei airstrike in Lebanon was an Austrian brigadier. Here in Wien it is a major topic of conversation. Well, if they truly want to get some UN troops to act as peacekeepers there, I know one nation that is definitely not going to volunteer troops. Another triumph for diplomacy (I know John Bolton would heartily approve).

Also, I think this is a telling headline "Bush-Blair discuss Middle East discord." Do you think they were talking about how to make more of it?

Shorter Peter Beinart: "Ditto Joe Lieberman: 'We undermine the president's credibility at our nation's peril.'"

Update: Is it me, or has that photo drifted to the right?

Thursday, July 27, 2006

The Unborn, Like The Undead, May Always Be With Us (Updated)

I was winning an argument about economic policy with a guy from Tennessee* on July Fourth. So, he got desperate and tried to change the subject to one not so dependent on facts by asking, "What do you think about 'The Unborn'?"

I replied, "What do you mean, 'The Unborn'? Is that like 'The Undead'?"

Needless to say, he wasn't very pleased. But it did get me thinking about The Unborn and The Undead and not just because goo is often involved in both. They have much in common:

  • Both are catch-all terms for groups which have a lot of variety -- The Unborn range from a just-fertilized egg to a 36 week-old fetus able to live outside the womb. The Undead range from vampires through mummies to zombies. Now that is quite the variety since I have it on good authority that zombies just love sunlight while sunlight turns vampires to dust.

  • Both are scary -- The Unborn are scary if you don't want to be a parent and are pregnant or if you do want to be a parent and something goes wrong or you do want to be a parent but you don't know if you can handle it... and The Undead, of course, are scary because they want to tear us limb from limb, drink our blood and/or eat our brains.

  • Both have had movies made about them.

  • Both can be invisible -- Have you ever seen The Undead in real life? Of course not. And if you said yes, it was just some kid dressed up as a zombie on Halloween. Similarly, The Unborn can be very, very small -- about a tenth of the size of the period at the end of this sentence. [Heh. 'Period'. Get it?]

  • Both are tricky -- Does the vampire warn you before she bites you? No! Do you even know if one of The Unborn in fertilized egg form is floating around in you unless it implants and you start getting symptoms? Of course not!

  • Both are relentless -- The Undead will not give up at all. Think about the zombie films you've seen where The Undead just keep coming back in their ferocious search for brains. Think of Nosferatu unable to resist his craving for blood. That is just like a pregnancy. The Unborn will do what it takes to become The Born because they are programmed for survival. Well, unless there is a lethal defect so embryo doesn't implant correctly or develop properly. Or the mother's health and nutrition won't support a pregnancy. Or... well, we all know that not every pregnancy ends happily. [Warning: one of the following links freaked out D. Sidhe, who will never have sex again] And those molar pregnancies are some some scary stuff -- just like zombies.

  • Both The Unborn and The Undead are vulnerable to flames, stakes and/or electrocution.
Finally, although both are funny looking and have dedicated fan base, neither 'The Unborn' nor 'The Undead' is an conclusive description of human beings. 'The Unborn' is just another inaccurate label and I rightly wiped the floor with that Tennessee guy's butt* when he tried to get all sanctimonious on me.

* not hard to do since he started the whole debate by saying, "I come from one of the richest states in the country!" (look at the state tenth from the bottom)

Update: Thanks to commenter Geezer, I now realize I've been channeling B-film maker Roger Corman for this article. The proof is here and here. Direct all comments to Roger Roger's estate. No, not that Roger! Roger Corman!

Contact Sporty: theskewer(at)[the extremely warm]

And now a message from the American Family Association and Agape Press:

"Good news! We found yet another thing for right-wing Christians to be angry about even though it doesn't affect them in any way, shape or form!"

Prospective applicants to prestigious Harvard Business School no longer have to be of the male or female gender. One pro-family leader in Washington, DC, is criticizing the school for legitimizing transgenderism.

Before completing an application, students looking to enter the Harvard Business School MBA program are asked to fill out an online profile that offers three choices of gender: female, male, or transgender. The form also asks prospective applicants if they would be interested in learning more about the school's "lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender" community.

(It's true -- check out the "Gender" pull-down menu on the application.)

Bob Knight, director of the Culture and Family Institute (CFI) at Concerned Women for America, says "it's not compassionate" for Harvard to encourage people to reject their "God-given natures." But then Knight considers the source.

"I'm not surprised it's coming out of Harvard," he says, "because they've flirted with the idea that, in terms of sexuality, anything goes, and they've given intellectual respectability to it." ...

My advice to Harvard Business School? Admit the transgendered. But stop admitting the ignorant, self-satisfied cokehead frat boys with politically prominent parents.


(X-posted at NMMNB.)
Shorter David S. Broder: "Hate the sin [Bush White House], love the sinners [who put him there]."
Hewitt and Reynolds Agree:
Jews Control the Press

I don't actually have anything to add to what I posted on this yesterday, but I didn't want my attempt at "school of Roger" styling in that earlier post to steal the emphasis from this Instapundit slur (Reynolds citing Hewitt):
UPDATE: Indeed: "When next the elders of the MSM tribe gather to moan the loss of civility in politics, I hope somebody brings along this tape."
So there it is again for your viewing pleasure. I have the password and carte blanche from Roger, so I may post this one a few more times for good measure. Although chances are Reynolds will put up some fresh new outrage for us today.
Shorter Peggy Noonan: "George W. Bush needs to grow the hell up. Or maybe he can just spin his way out of it."
Andrew Sullivan is never wrong

So Andrew Sullivan finally admits that Al Gore is right about global warming. But lest you think that might be a moment of soul-searching after Sullivan compared Gore to Dick Cheney and the entirely fabricated argument for war in Iraq, Andrew makes sure to spend more time bashing Gore for be insufficiently pro-active on this issue than he does crediting Gore for being right, oh, forty years and counting before the ruling party.

Keep in mind that for basically his entire pundit career, Sullivan has scorned the global warming movement and laughed at those who critically examined the evidence and came away in agreement with 100% of the peer-reviewed studies of climate change. But wait!

"I think a serious gas tax and a tough increase in mandatory fuel economy standards in the U.S. are essential to prompting the technological breakthroughs that alone can ameliorate this. And yet Gore balked. Just like he did when he was in power."

First of all, make no mistake, if Gore were President he would have kept our signature on the Kyoto Protocol and spent significant political capital on ramming it up James Inhofe's ass.

Secondly, Andrew Sullivan takes up a stance in opposition to a leader of the movement that will, if successful, enact the measures needed to combat global warming, even though he just said that radical measures need to be adopted. That is both inexplicable and mind-bogglingly inept politics. And this man is actually paid to write on the subject about which he evidently knows so little?
THE best-kept secret in global diplomacy is out - US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will perform a piano recital at the annual gala of Asia's top security meeting, diplomats and reports said....

Rice ... is expected to perform a work from one of her favourite composers, who include Brahms and Shostakovich, the New Straits Times said.... News

Accompanied, presumably, by Nero on fiddle.

(Cross-posted at No More Mister Nice Blog.)


So, Fran Mainella, head of the National Park Service is resigning, "...ending a five-year tenure at an agency often at odds with environmentalists and Westerners." Her stated reason for resigning was "to spend more time with her family." Of course the cyncial amongst us note that is the excuse for resigning whenever a government official is caught taking brides, a Congressman's fondling of a female staffer is unveiled, or a Cabiner member proves to be disloyal to George Bush. The extremely uncharitable (you talkin' to me?) might note that that Mainella has made great headway in her goal of having no more National Parks to service, and like the Lone Ranger, her work here is done.

But let's take her at her word. So does that mean her loved ones been languishing in neglect while she was busy selling off parcels of land with a view of Old Faithful? What does that mean for a "family values" administration? I can imagine the scene today at the Mainella household*:

[*NOTE: from what I could determine, Fran Mainella was recently remarried after having lost her first husband of 28 years, and I could not tell if she has any children. So let's take an archetypal female government employee who just resigned to spend more time with her family and call her, oh, "Fran Mainella"]

She: Who are those ill-behaved brats?

He: Those are our children, dear. You gave birth to them, remember?

She: Impossible! I gave birth to cute little gook-covered red dolls! What happened to them?? There were two, right?

And let's zoom in on a therapist's office, circa 2015:

"Life was OK, just us and Dad, and then this woman appeared, claiming she was our Mom and wanting to spend more time with us. But she had been away so long, she had no idea what we were like, and all she did was get testy with us. It was when she proposed thinning our numbers that things got really horrific..."

We can't let this kind of neglect go on! For the sake of the children, I propose that ALL adminsitration officials with families IMMEDIATELY resign to spend more time with them! And those who don't have families yet (paging Ken Mehlman) well, go out and get one! It's your duty, after all!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The Protocols of the Elders of Wingnuttia

Chris Matthews' recent and long-overdue public smelling of the coffee drives Instacracker firmly into the arms of homeys Don Imus and Hugh Hewitt:

Here's the best reaction Instabigot can come up with for himself:

[Matthews] has a rather shaky grasp of reality, judging by these comments.

So he turns for support to the incontinent sputterings of an old fart:
I can't do better than quote Don Imus's observation: "That is really just an...that is just an absurd, ridiculous position. I'm just...I'm almost embarrassed that you've said that."
Before finally plumbing the bottom together with Hewitt the nitwit in a typical wingnuttian anti-Semitic smear:
Indeed: "When next the elders of the MSM tribe gather to moan the loss of civility in politics, I hope somebody brings along this tape." Though the problem is less a lack of civility than a lack of coherence.
I'm sorry to say that this one's no forgery, folks. It's just the idle chatter of another eminently civil and coherent day atop the freeper dungheap.
In Blinders

More low-hanging fruit from The Corner:
On Blunders [John J. Miller]
Herman's essay on Suez raises an interesting question: What have been the biggest foreign policy blunders in American history? The Suez response and the War of 1812 are both very good candidates. I might add the failure to grab more of Mexico in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, the failure to make Cuba a state in the 19th century, and possibly Wilson's performance at Versailles.
Posted at 11:49 AM
Intriguing question. Hmmm...the biggest foreign policy blunders in American history...

Dunno. But I'm pretty sure the Clenis was in on most of them.

Roger's readers, can you best the geniuses over at The Corner and name the biggest foreign policy blunder in American history? Something a bit more recent than the War of 1812?

(Hint: it started near Waco.)

Senate Removes Abortion Option for Young Girls

Well, it's nice to know that the Republicans are still wasting Senate time focusing on symbolic legislation against acts that may never really happen (no one knows for sure how many minors are taken across state lines to avoid parental notification laws), and it's nice to know the Democras still let them do it. God knows, it's not like anything pressing needs dealing with. And of course 14 Dems voted for the bill. Most are not surprising (sadly, Harry Reid was one). But Evan Bayh voted for it, and he is in a critical position, since he wants to run for Pres in 2008. This is the kind of thing we should not forget.

Oh yeah, just to show that they have their priorities straight, a proposal to create new pregnancy prevention grants was defeated on a 51-to-48 vote.

PS I was sort of hoping that Joe Loserman would have voted for the bill, esp. since Barbara Boxer went out of her way to endorse him (and lie about his record on abortion) yesterday. But he voted against it. OK, we'll give you this one, Joe, but all is NOT forgiven.
Jurassic Snark
Hwang Woo-suk [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
tried to clone a mammoth.
Posted at 3:55 PM
But all he got was blogged by a Cro-Magnon gal.
I don't think Frances FitzGerald, who wrote this week's New Yorker story about Ken Blackwell and his Republican/theocrat run for Ohio governor, quite gets this charming line from Blackwell's preacher pal Rod Parsley:

Conservative Pentecostal pastors often use military metaphors, but Parsley's sermons are notable for their graphic detail. At the service that I attended, he spoke of the moment when "God broke into the world through the bloody flanks of a fourteen-year-old virgin." This puzzled me, until I understood that he was picturing Mary as a teen-ager who chose not to have an abortion.

Er, Frances? I don't think he's focusing on abortion here -- I think he's fixating on the virgin part.

And he seems to be really, really digging that image.

Ladies, I wouldn't go on a date with this guy without a police escort.

(Yes, I know -- he's married, though not, perhaps to her regret, to his good pal Ann Coulter.)

FitzGerald heard the sermon and I didn't, but I don't quite see how this constitutes a "military metaphor." And I'm not sure I want to know.

(Cross-posted at No More Mister Nice Blog.)

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Guy Pistol-Whips Wife, Gets Elected Mayor Anyway

BLACK HAWK, Colo. -- A former city councilman in Black Hawk, Colo., who pleaded guilty last week to pistol-whipping his wife was sworn in Wednesday as town mayor.

David Spellman entered the guilty plea to felony menacing and third-degree assault charges after police said he hit his wife in the head several times with a .380-caliber handgun and fired three shots, the Rocky Mountain News reported in its Wednesday editions.
The funny thing is, many people in the town were willing to give him the benefit of the doubt because he had no history of assault... well, except for the assault on his wife.

There are two interesting quotes from the article:

"We don't think it detracts from his ability to be mayor, and will probably, in the long run, make him a better human being," said Ford.
Spellman's election by the six-member City Council came after the death last month of Kathern Eccker, who had served as mayor for the past 15 years.
We can only wonder if she was pistol-whipped.
World War Four

Is it really still up for debate the George Bush's foreign policy has harmed this country's national security? Two news items infringe upon my morning revery, first, that Condi wants a strong multi-national force in southern Lebanon but no one will pony up, certainly not him or these guys. Second, that Pakistan is building a heavy water reactor to ramp up plutonium output.

Though Israel's activities in Lebanon are so far beyond the pale even Dershowitz needs to revise and extend the bullshit philosophical structure that magically morphs to re-classify Israel's actions as justified ex post, there really does need to be some decisive move to mitigate the threat posed by Hizbullah in southern Lebanon. Fox News tells me that Condi even wants a "new Middle East." But isn't this stuff just crazytalk at this point? Whose army? Whose honest negotiations? Are these people on crack?

But as we know, Bush will be President for another two and a half years, and we undermine his credibility at our nation's peril.

Then we come to nuclear proliferation and Pakistan's blatant (though undisclosed) building of a heavy water reactor. Meanwhile, we're not only turning a blind eye to the proliferation, we're actually doing the proliferating by sharing nuclear technology outright with India. Not to mention that after a meaningless wrist-slap, AQ Khan and his friends are still very much in business with the full sanction of the Pakistani state. Do we even have a foreign policy? And the governing party is the one that's comfortable with the idea of a strong America with an active role to play in world affairs?

"Science is facts; just as houses are made of stone, so is science made of facts; but a pile of stones is not a house, and a collection of facts is not necessarily science."
Jules Henri Poincaré (1854-1912) French mathematician.

Pity the scientific community. Either people are complaining that the scientists can't decide what they think, or that they are just restating the obvious or they are outright wrong about major findings. And speaking from experience, the pay in science isn't enough to make it all the fuss worth the while.

While all of these accusations have been true at some point (DISCLAIMER: not necessarily in the cases I linked to!!), casting doubt on science has been one of the major efforts of the Bush administration, for the obvious reason that most findings of science have not been to their liking. This has been successful in part because people misunderstand the nature of scientific inquiry and the validity of the conclusions from science.

The short version is that science is about testing hypotheses in a rigorous manner. As Poincare said, a collection of facts is not a scientific theory. Are the conclusions from science "true"? If the process is done correctly (which entails peer review and replication), they are as close to true as the laws of inference will allow. Are they sometimes wrong? Yes, but when a large group of scientists is operating under completely false premises, there are usually some warning bells in terms of contradictory evidence, or the necessity for incredibly complex theories to explain the phenomena in question (see,e.g., the Ptolemic theory of planetary orbits). So scientists must always be asking themselves: Does the theory explain the data sufficiently well? What data are not explained by the theory? What predictions can be generated and tested by this theory?

Unfortunately, due to the politics of science and research funding (both very real) these safeguards are sometimes overlooked, both to sustain a untenable theory or to cast doubt on an undesirable one. To bring this back to a specific instance, the consensus of climate scientists is that a) global warming is real, b) a major cause, perhaps the major cause, has been human activity, and c) it will change life on this planet severely and irrevocably. This theory fits the data well, explains most of the available data, and it does generate hypothesis, some benign and others quite disturbing if they prove true (sorry about that, polar bears!). To argue otherwise is to throw random facts like rocks against a stone house.

Monday, July 24, 2006


The other Roger Ailes:

Fox News Channel chairman and CEO Roger Ailes responded to Keith Olbermann's latest critical volley against Bill O'Reilly on Monday, saying the MSNBC host's behavior "is over the line."

...Olbermann opened his Saturday session at the critics' meeting by whipping out a mask of O'Reilly and giving a Nazi salute.

"I really think that's over the line," Ailes said....

O'Reilly compares secularists to Hitler, Stalin, Castro, and Mao.

O'Reilly says, "Hitler would be a card-carrying ACLU member."

O'Reilly compares advocates of withdrawal in Iraq to Hitler appeasers.

O'Reilly compares Michael Moore to Goebbels.

Bite me, Roger.

(Cross-posted at No More Mister Nice Blog.)
Well, That's One Way to Reduce the Deficit!

Sorry for the caps; this is actually how healthcare providers get messages from Medicare. I added punctuation to make it easier to read:

Translation: We, the Federal Government, are going to reduce the deficit which gets reported at the end of this fiscal year, by not paying 9 days worth of our debts to you, the hard-working hospitals, health centers, home healthcare associations, hospices and nursing homes of America. We'll pay you after the start of the new fiscal year, when it's easier for us to hide the deficit.

Keep in mind that for a large hospital, this delay might mean $500,000 to $1,000,000 a day in revenue. And it just doesn't work for a hospital to say to its staff and suppliers that it will pay them 9 days late in September of this year. So, you won't see it, but every healthcare provider in America will be scrambling to make ends meet for nine days this September.

Heck of a job, Congress! Heck of a job, Dubya!

For the Zeitgeist it is a-Changin'

[Edited and reposted in proper sequence, I hope]

Apparently you can use a Letterman to know which way the wind blows. Corner blowhard Jonah prophesizes with his pen:

NYT In Trouble [Jonah Goldberg]
From a reader:
Am I the only one who saw this?

David Letterman's to ten list 7/19/06 which seems to have just been pulled off the net

Top Ten Signs There's Trouble At The New York Times

10. Extensive coverage of recent fighting between the Israelis and the lesbians

9. Pages 2 through 20 are corrections of previous edition

8. Every sentence begins "So, like"

7. TV listings only for Zorro

6. Weather forecast reads "Look outside dumbass"

5. Multiple references to "President Gore"

4. Obituary includes list of people they wish were dead

3. Headlines fold over to create surprise mad magazine-type hidden message

2. Restaurant critic recently gave IHOP four stars

1. Reporting that Oprah isn't gay, but Letterman is

Posted at 7:42 AM

People really should not criticize what they can't understand. (Apologies to Bob Dylan for torturing all these lyrics.)

This is comedy, Jonah. Teh funny! Tame, mass market absurdities. If there's any subtlety at all to Letterman's list, it's ironic. Think about it for ten seconds. Your great conservative hobbyhorse, "the liberal press," has become the palaver of a dying late night comedy show. Nice career you've got there.

(Okay, Roger I'm not... But is this not pretty decent work from a temp? I'll close my first ever blogging post by thanking God my mom is just my mom and not an agent of history like Lucienne. This way (until now, at least) I've risked making an ass out of myself on a normal human scale and not like Jonah all over the Internets and in the nation's great newspapers. And I'd also like to thank Roger for however foolishy raising me up from his blog comments and letting me drive this nice shiny blog around the block a few times. I hereby officially release him from responsibility for my posts. I'm out here on purely a frolic of my own. To recap, then: thank you God and Roger.)

Buen dia amigos y amigas, this is the Frito Pundito (or as my "friends" call me, "Freet") guest posting for Roger while he is sitting on the verAHnda twinkling an umbrella in a fruity drink. However, back home there are pressing issues, like the absurd bill Arlen Specter is pushing which will legalize, ex post facto, the wiretapping the administration has done in contravention of the FISA provisions. Aside from the Kafkaesque tactic of changing the rules to suit ones actions, the bill also endorses an extreme version of executive power that even Alberto Gonzalez stops short of. Glenn has an incredibly well-written exegesis of this horrid piece of legislation from a "moderate" (cough) Republican.

Christy at Firedoglake has info about how to call your Senator. This is muy importante, folks. I live in Austria (couldn't ya tell) but I once lived in Indiana, New York, Oregon and California, and I am contacting the Senators in all those states.

Lighter funnier stuff, making fun of Austrians, to follow

The damn Ay-rabs may want to kill us all and cut off our oil, but at least our Japanese pals still want to let Americans be Americans:

...Panasonic said last week that it would begin selling a 103-inch flat-panel plasma television in the United States in time for the holiday season. The TV, about as big as a queen-size bed and, Panasonic says, the largest on the market, will sell for $70,000....

The screen's 90-inch length and 48-inch height makes it equivalent in size to four 50-inch TV's, the company said. With the frame and speakers, it measures nearly nine feet by six feet. It weighs about 450 pounds and has to be shipped in a box with a specially designed suspension system....

The sets have to be professionally installed because of their size and weight....

103 inches? Well, thank God America's TVs will still larger than America's waistlines.

If only by a few inches.

Not that there's, y'know, a connection between the two or anything like that.

Needless to say, the new Panasonic is expected to be a niche product.

"Sales will be limited in scope because of its weight and size," said Andrew Nelkin, vice president of the display group at Panasonic Consumer Electronics....

"I'm not sure a 103-inch TV will ever hit the mainstream," said Mr. Nelkin....

Yeah, I'm sure that's what they said about the SUV.

(Cross-posted at No More Mister Nice Blog.)
Court Philosopher

Has there every been a more vile collection of captive ideologists assembled to fluff up the atrocities of the powerful? Dershowitz would be right at home on the reviewing stand, just to the right and a step behind the Leader, watching the conscripted proles goose-stepping past.
"I[f] there's one thing that helps you survive war and heat waves, it's a sense of humor," writes Roger Simon, "so for your amusement I will provide this anecdote of my hood in extreme times."

Now I know how my grandparents felt when Ed Sullivan would say, "And now, for our next act, a man who spins plates..."

(PS: I, too, genuflect in Ailes' direction. To snipe at Roger Simon from on high is indeed a privilege.)
Cronies and Christians Have Civil Rights Too

Filed under "The Dubya Legacy":

WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration is quietly remaking the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, filling the permanent ranks with lawyers who have strong conservative credentials but little experience in civil rights, according to job application materials obtained by the [Boston] Globe.

The documents show that only 42 percent of the lawyers hired since 2003, after the administration changed the rules to give political appointees more influence in the hiring process, have civil rights experience. In the two years before the change, 77 percent of those who were hired had civil rights backgrounds.
But who needs a background in the job they will be doing for our government? After all, Brownie did just fine at FEMA with his previous experience in the International Arabian Horse Association.
...At the same time, the kinds of cases the Civil Rights Division is bringing have undergone a shift. The division is bringing fewer voting rights and employment cases involving systematic discrimination against African-Americans, and more alleging reverse discrimination against whites and religious discrimination against Christians.
Because whites and Christians - most especially white Christians - are such a persecuted minority in this country.
"There has been a sea change in the types of cases brought by the division, and that is not likely to change in a new administration because they are hiring people who don't have an expressed interest in traditional civil rights enforcement," said Richard Ugelow, a 29-year career veteran who left the division in 2002.
That's the other thing - experienced civil rights lawyers are leaving in larger numbers. But who needs experienced lawyers for litigation and stuff?
...staffers say, morale has plunged and experienced lawyers are leaving the division. Last year, the administration offered longtime civil rights attorneys a buyout. Department figures show that 63 division attorneys left in 2005 -- nearly twice the average annual number of departures since the late 990s.
Next, look for a special new sub-division which protects the civil rights of cronies, oil company executives and Dick Cheney.

P.S. I want to thank Roger for giving us this opportunity to take over his blog. I hope he's havin' a heck of a vacation!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Well, I'm Off

But don't despair. There will be an amazing group of guest bloggers here, beginning tomorrow.

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

What size tumor does it take to cause you to believe that the Bush White House is more concerned about CAIR, La Raza and the NAACP than its own base?

Hot Enough For You?

Well, I've already failed to pursue one of these:

Consumers can pursue several strategies to conserve power:

-- Set the thermostats on air conditioners to 78 degrees or higher.

-- Use appliances such as washers, dryers, dishwashers and vacuum cleaners only after 6:00 p.m.

-- Refrain from using electronic devices such as computers and televisions until evening.

And it's a Spare the Air day too.

Oh well, there's always reading books and sex.

I always thought snowflake babies were those things adhering to Larry Kudlow's nose hairs.

Mikey Medved Pumps His Way Into His Hat

The "new" Clownhall's slogan should be "Now With 50 Percent More Plugs For D-List Salem Radio Network Hosts." But there are some new, substantive features.

For example, they've got Michael Medved blogging about shampoo. He hasn't launched his own brand, "Gee, the Oil Companies Smell Anti-Semitic." No, he's talking about the free market revolution and the impending death of individual-sized hotel shampoo and soaps.

I've been a frequent traveler all my adult life, crossing the country for lectures or book tours, and over the course of more than 30 years I've developed the stupid habit of bringing home those little soaps and shampoos. In order to get fresh little bottles or bars of soap to my collection, I'll remove the half-used soaps and hair supplies from view so that the hotel cleaning staff will provide new, unopened amenities. Then I'll bring out the partially-used supplies so I can stuff the fresh little bottles into my luggage.


Those supplies now amount to an insanely over-developed collection -- with two huge drawers crammed with hotel soaps from around the world (London, Berlin, Jerusalem, Mexico City, even Warsaw) plus all the states of the union. Unless I live way beyond the normal life expectancy, I've already acquired more than enough exotic soaps to keep me clean the rest of my days. There's also another overflowing drawer in my bathroom crammed with shampoos and conditioners (I stopped bringing home hand and body lotion some years ago).

I suspect that there are others out there (you don't have to admit it but you know who you are) who have built up similarly impressive accumulations of these bathroom "souvenirs." Picking up these supplies is nearly irresistible (to many of us) because they are handed out "free" -- but of course they are not free to the hotels. To paraphrase the famous statement about "free lunch" -- there is no such thing as a free hotel soap sample.

In fact, looking at the literally hundreds of soaps in my drawers, the total cost to the hotels that purchased them might well be substantial. In other words, the hotel is paying real money -- but no one is receiving real benefit (I can't even use up all the soaps) -- so it's a classic case of inefficiency. Moreover, even as an unusually soap-and-shampoo-conscious consumer, the lack of such "free" supplies would in no way discourage me from patronizing a given hostelry. I'm more eager now to use accommodations that follow the pump-bottle-on-the-wall approach, because efficiency appeals to me far more than meaningless free goodies I really don't need.
You're a genius, Mikey. A cheap motherfucking genius. Ripping off all that shampoo -- it's a wonder these hotels are still in business. How -- HOW!?! -- will they ever recover all those lost profits?

I'll bet Medved takes full-sized empty bottles to these new places and fills them from the pumps. (I know he reserves a single and then sneaks Daniel Lapin and Huge Hewitt into his room to save money.)

You should list all the hotels where you've used the pump-bottle-on-the-wall hand lotion, Mikey. So we can avoid them at all costs.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Honor and Dignity

Kudos to the Connecticut G.O.P.

Last time they ran a corrupt mayor and child rapist against Lieberman.

This time, they're running a gambling addict and deadbeat against Lamont.

It's nice to see they've raised their standards.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Survey Says

Bloggers say the darnedest things:

About 34 percent see their blogging as a form of journalism; 65 percent disagreed. Just over a third of bloggers said they engage often in journalistic activities such as verifying facts and linking to source material.

More than 40 percent of bloggers said they never quote sources or other media directly. Eleven percent said they post corrections. Sixty-one percent said they rarely or never get permission to use copyrighted material.

Fifty-five percent of bloggers write under a pseudonym. Nearly nine out of ten bloggers invite comments from other readers. Four out of five blogs use text, while 72 percent display photos and audio links play on 30 percent of blogs.

Eighty-two percent of bloggers think they will still be blogging in a year. Three percent say they have quit.

The Pew report was based on a telephone survey of 233 self-identified bloggers conducted between July 2005 and February 2006. The error margin was 6.7 percent.
Twenty percent of blogs don't use text, but only ten percent don't invite comments from readers. That means 10 percent of blogs invite comments from readers without using text. How do they do it, with a friggin' rebus?

And why did it take eight months to survey 233 readers?

The Senator From Bechtel

Holy Joe won't run as a Republican, he'll just take Republican money and vote like one.

Anyone looking for evidence of Mr. Lieberman's bipartisan appeal can find it in his roster of recent contributors, which includes organizations that traditionally give more to Republicans. They include engineering and construction firms, some with contracts in Iraq. Those firms include Bechtel, Fluor International and Siemens, which support Republicans 64 to 70 percent of the time, according to data compiled by PoliticalMoneyLine, which tracks campaign and lobbying activities.

Florida Power and Light, which supports Republicans 84 percent of the time, gave $5,000 to Mr. Lieberman. Areva Cogema, a builder of nuclear power plants that gives 70 percent of its contributions to Republicans, contributed $1,000.

An Ohio law firm that directs 80 percent of its donations to Republicans gave $1,000. SRA International, a technology consultant that favors Republicans 66 percent of the time, gave $1,000. America's Health Insurance Plans, representing health insurers, gives to Republicans 71 percent of the time and donated $2,000 to Mr. Lieberman.

A regular graftroots movement.

Why Jack Abramoff Wasn't Ralph Reed's Scummiest Pal

Marshall Wittmann, the DLC blogger better known as the Bullshit Moose, is joining those celebrating the electoral defeat of sleazebag lobbyist Ralph Reed.

What the Bullshit Moose doesn't tell you is that he was blowing Ralph for a job just a few years ago:

But Bush lost in 1992 and Wittmann was out of a job. By then, he had a young son and his wife was pregnant with their daughter. He was desperate to find work and when he heard that Pat Robertson's Christian Coalition was hiring, he thought, " Hmmm, a Jew goes to the Christian Coalition, that might be interesting."

He was savvy enough to figure that the Christian Coalition might want to hire a Jew just to show it wasn't bigoted. He wrote to Ralph Reed, the group's executive director, and asked for a job. Reed took him to lunch at Bullfeathers and hired him.

"I said, 'Great!' " Wittmann recalls. "

Now that Reed can't do anything for him, the Senior Asshole dumped him for other crushes, including John McCain and Joe Leiberman:

Wittmann is absolutely gaga over McCain. "My great belief is that John McCain is the living embodiment of Teddy Roosevelt," he says.

He also says this: "I would crawl over a field of broken glass for him."

Don't let us stop you, you slimy Moosefucker.

That endorsement alone prevents me from even considering a vote for McCain.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Putting You To Work

In a little over a week's time, I'll be spending at least four hours in a cyndrilical* tube, breathing recycled air and trying to avoid eye and thigh contact with total strangers seated uncomfortably close to me. And at least a hour in the airport beforehand.

I'm looking for something entertaining to read on a semi-cross-country flight, preferably something that wouldn't be sold in an airport gift shop/bookstore. If you've read something (such as a book) recently that you've enjoyed, feel free to leave the details in comments.

* I should have said "tubular."

Update (7/20): Thanks to everyone for your suggestions, and for making my choice so difficult.