Friday, July 29, 2005

Friday Not-My-Pet Blogging Mark IV

OK, there's not actually any pets involved in this story at all.

Circumcision prevents urinary tract infection

It's a misleading headline, though.
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - The results of a new report confirm that circumcision reduces the risk of urinary tract infection -- but the authors estimate that more than 100 boys need to be circumcised to prevent one infection.
Look, can't people just let it go that it's a matter of religion or aesthetics and it doesn't *have* to have a medical benefit? Just as long as it doesn't do medical harm, I'm fine with it.

Of course, I don't have a personal stake in it. That's probably why.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Thieving Bastards

Is this true? Because if it is, then DeLay's even more of a stinking, opportunistic, dishonest thief than I already though he was.

$1.5 Billion Giveaway Secretly Slipped into Energy Bill, Waxman Says
I am writing to draw to your attention a provision in the Energy Conference Report that raises serious procedural and substantive concerns. At its essence, this provision is a $1.5 billion giveaway to the oil industry, Halliburton, and Sugar Land, Texas. The provision was inserted into the energy legislation after the conference was closed, so members of the conference committee had no opportunity to consider or reject this measure. Before the final energy legislation is brought to the House floor, this provision should be deleted.
The subtitle appears to steer the administration of 75% of the $1.5 billion fund to a private consortium located in the district of Majority Leader Tom DeLay. Ordinarily, a large fund like this would be administered directly by the government. The subtitle, however, directs the Department to "contract with a corporation that is constructed as a consortium." The leading contender for this contract appears to be the Research Partnership to Secure Energy for America (RPSEA) consortium, housed in the Texas Energy Center in Sugar Land, Texas. Halliburton is a member of RPSEA and sits on the board, as does Marathon Oil Company. The subtitle provides that the consortium can keep up to 10% of the funds - in this case, over $100 million - in administrative expenses.

The subtitle further provides that members of the consortium, such as Halliburton and Marathon Oil, can receive awards from the over $1 billion fund administered by the consortium.

In short, the subtitle provides that taxpayers will hire a private consortium controlled by the oil and gas industry to hand out over $1 billion to oil and gas companies. There is no conceivable rationale for this extraordinary largess. The oil and gas industry is reporting record income and profits. According to one analyst, the net income of the top oil companies will total $230 billion in 2005. If Congress has an extra $1.5 billion to give away, the money should be used to help families struggling to pay for soaring gasoline prices - not to further enrich oil and gas companies that are rolling in profits.
I can't even see straight, right now.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Still Not Able to Get Serious

This summer, I was addicted to a reality show. I know, I've left you gasping for air, and you can't believe that I said that, but it's true. Which one? Dancing With the Stars. Holy cow, did I enjoy that show. And I voted, every week! I fully admit that had I known that Kelly Monaco stood a chance of winning, I would have voted for John O'Hurley, but I thought I was sticking up for the underdog! She was just so cute in her determination to get better - like a Scottie dog or something. And she *did* get better.

Wow. I didn't realize I could talk so much about that. Don't worry, I've cut myself off.

Anyway, in between my catch-up reading in the political arena (e.g. Forrester still isn't a guy I want to vote for, searching our bags is really iffy when you think about the fourth amendment), I popped over to the Washington Post and found this delightful piece of writing:

Might as Well Dance
"I would believe only in a God that knows how to dance," said the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, who had so many pithy things to say about dance that I've come to think of him as "Twinkletoes." Another of his aphorisms: "I do not know what the spirit of a philosopher could more wish to be than a good dancer."
The point of the article rang true - when things are grim, dancing's the thing to do.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Sneaking one in

Okay, I know I shouldn't post here anymore, but Tami didn't say I couldn't and I just had to say this, since CostCo is all over New Jersey.

It's over 90 degrees out and I just came back from CostCo and the Berry Smoothie is terrific, but if I had three ounces of rum the Berry Smoothie would be so perfect I would never have come back to work.

Just Messing Around

I know, you're eager to hear me talk about something of substance. I
will, I will, but for now I want to test posting from an email.

Here, read this excellent article about why abortion
is wonderful
. Wait - only read that if you're not adamant about the
life of the child being more important than the life of the mother. If
that's the case, you should instead spend your time trying to figure
out why you feel that a possible life is more important than an actual

Monday, July 25, 2005

And THEN... things took a turn

I lie in the darkness, splayed out on my stomach, staring at the keyboard, feeling the darkness coming on. It's a familiar feeling. This is probably going to be a bad one.

I feel the need to guest blog something on The One True Tami's blog... but the gremlins from the corner have crawled up on my shoulder, warning, "Don't do it. The darkness comes. It can only end in tears."

I can feel it happening. The One True Tami diagnosed me years ago. She said it happens when I drink Jack Daniels. (Hereafter referred to as "JD" for you civilians in the psychic wars.) JD generally has a distorting effect on people. One comedian commented that, while many liquors come with free gifts such as glassware, shirts or posters, JD should come with bail money. Not for moi, however. I'm not the violent type. The One True Tami proclaimed that I was a "maudlin drunk" on JD. I fall into a pit of blackness. It never worries me, though. I'm familiar with the route and I know all the soft spots to land.

But what to do? Today is Monday. The One True Tami was supposed to return, yet her blog lies barren, like the empty darkness of my soul. Oh, I could take comfort in the company of my fellow guest bloggers... G.D. Frogsdong and Shakespeare's Sister. And good company they be. But what of the True One? What could have happened?

Has one of the many Brazilian Soccer players who tried to woo her on her exotic cruise simply offered her a deal she couldn't refuse? Too many diamonds and stuffed lobster dinners? Is she, even now, dozing on a beach in Rio de' Janeiro while muscular young athletes rub coconut scented tanning lotion into her back? Will she awake smiling, only to shout out in some sick Demosthenes parody above the ocean's roar, "HA! Too bad! I'm not coming back! The guest bloggers can take care of my blog. Screw them! I'M STAYING! MUA HA HA HA!!!!"

And this, of course, brings us to today's topic... smoking. Apparently New Jersey is now considering a ban on smoking while driving.
Ashtrays have been disappearing in cars like fins on Cadillacs, and so could smoking while driving in New Jersey, under a measure introduced in the Legislature.
If you're a smoker, this little essay isn't for you. It's for the non-smokers. Let's stop and consider the situation rationally for a moment, shall we? We have (up here in New York) a ban on cell phone use while driving. "Hurray!" many people cried. Particularly those without cell phones. Is driving while talking on a cell phone more dangerous than driving without a phone, your hands firmly clamped on the wheel at 10 o'clock and 2 o'clock? It probably is.

Is driving while smoking (or lighting) a cigarette less safe than driving while not smoking? Again, I'm sure it is.

The smokers, of course, will be up in arms. (Disclosure... I smoke.) Smokers are a favorite target for *everyone*, as this article points out.

Although the measure faces long odds, it still has smokers incensed and arguing itÂ’s a Big Brother intrusion that threatens to take away one of the few places they can enjoy their habit.

“The day a politician wants to tell me I can’t smoke in my car, that’s the day he takes over my lease payments,” said John Cito, a financial planner from Hackensack with a taste for $20 cigars.

Smokers, feeling like easy targets, say enough already. They argue theyÂ’ve been forced outside office buildings, run off the grounds of public facilities, and asked to pony up more in per-pack excise taxes when states feel a budget squeeze.

“With smoking, it’s becoming increasingly fashionable to target legislation or prohibitions,” said George Koodray, a member of the Metropolitan Cigar Society, a 100-strong group that meets in Paterson for dinner and a smoke.

But back to my point... let's say, for the sake of argument, that we can all agree that smoking and talking on the phone make a driver less safe than a driver who is doing neither. What about putting on make-up? Combing/brushing your hair? Changing the radio station or switching CD's in the deck, or just rocking out and singing along to your favorite band instead of paying 100% attention to the road? (Yeah... let's see Detroit and the nation's drivers get behind a ban on all radios and music playing devices. Like that's gonna happen.) Drinking hot coffee from one of those custom designed road mugs, when you may dump hot liquid on your crotch at any moment?

How about that guy who just bought three cheeseburgers at the McDonald's DRIVE THROUGH and is trying to unwrap his third burger and put more ketchup on it (because they never put enough on in the store) while doing 65 up I-95? I think a valid argument could be made that a guy who has had three beers and has a blood alcohol content of .081 (illegal) but is staring intently at the road with his hands on the wheel is in better control of the vehicle than the hungry bastard with the burgers.

My point is, how are we to define this? In every instance I cited above, I defy you to say that the person is 100% as safe of a driver as the dead sober person with perfect vision and no mental impairments who has his hands at 10 o'clock and 2 o'clock and is thinking of nothing but driving. That's a pretty damned big "gray area" to deal with, isn't it? So either we need to scrap all of these laws and make a new one saying that you must be fully alert, holding the wheel and doing nothing but driving, or we have to codify exactly what else you can be doing and still be considered "safe" to drive.

Or shall we just pass two hundred laws for things that aren't "socially acceptable" or valued by big business, but give a pass to the rest? Your thoughts?

Home Again, Home Again...

...Jiggety Jig.
Well, I'm back. I have no idea why I came back, Bermuda is pretty much paradise. If any of you readers out there live in Bermuda and want me to come live with you, let me know, I'm on the next plane faster than you can say "moongate".

I hope you all enjoyed the posts put up here by my kind and giving guest bloggers, Jazz, G.D. Frogsdong, and Shakespeare's Sister. Thank you all so much for keeping my blog going while I was gone!

Back to catching up with real life now. Soon, I'll be back to complaining about the state of the world like you expect me to.

Pull the string and I'll wink at you, I'm your puppet
I'll do funny things if you want me to, I'm your puppet

As the Forrester campaign begins to look more and more like a submissive slave to the Chauncey Gardiner administration, Darth Cheney appeared last week to raise money for Forrester. This follows Traitor Rove's visit to the Garden State to raise money for Forrester. If Chauncey didn't exist, would Forrester? While Cheney made a point of mentioning the Forrester campaign "message", once again we were given the message without the meaning. So far, months and months into the campaign, and after fighting his way through the primaries, Forrester still refuses to say anything substantive about his plans as governor. If you check his web site, you find nothing of substance about his plans, but plenty of attacks on Jon Corzine. The vast majority of his site's information is just hot air. Does the man have an actual idea about anything? Does he want to be governor in order to accomplish anything, or just to "be governor"? As the months drag on and Forrester supplies no more information on his intentions, his campaign begins to look more and more like a vanity campaign. He apparently just wants a fancy title so he can feel like a bigshot.

Only Forrester's plans with respect to property taxes have any substance to them, and they were thoroughly refuted by his own Republican adversaries in the primaries. Curiously, wrong and meaningless as those "plans" are, Forrester still hasn't made any adjustments to them.

The question remains: will Forrester be New Jersey's governor or the federal administration's? After all, Rove and Cheney are raising the money for him. And why, if he can't articulate any sort of intentions as governor, does Forrester want to be governor? There's something fishy in that.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Everyone has questions

... but does Bush have any answers? The Paper of Record's Richard Stevenson has summed some of them up nicely this weekend.

Yet Mr. Bush has yet to address some uncomfortable questions that he may not be able to evade indefinitely.

For starters, did Mr. Bush know in the fall of 2003, when he was telling the public that no one wanted to get to the bottom of the case more than he did, that Mr. Rove, his longtime strategist and senior adviser, and I. Lewis Libby Jr., Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, had touched on the C.I.A. officer's identity in conversations with journalists before the officer's name became public? If not, when did they tell him, and what would the delay say in particular about his relationship with Mr. Rove, whose career and Mr. Bush's have been intertwined for decades?

For me this question keeps circling around the same runway and never coming in for a landing. Helen Thomas, the battle hardened veteran of the the White House press gaggle, was the one and only person to hit the nail on the head when she asked, "What the hell's wrong with him? Can't he just call [Rove] in and ask him?"

Come on, people. Is there really anyone, be they ever so drunk on Neocon koolaid, who believes that this is coming as a surprise to Dear Misleader™ two years later? Bush and Rove don't change brands of toilet paper to wipe their bums without consulting each other extensively first.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Welcome back.... to that same old place you used to laugh about

It's far too early in the day to have the theme music for Welcome Back Kotter stuck in my head. I hereby curse my brain's annoying ability to dredge up useless seventies trivia while being unable to master the complexities of opening this damned childproof aspirin lid.

With that said, we are approaching the return of the One True Tami from her tropical hiatus. Along with my fellow guest bloggers, I would like to welcome Tami back and say how much I've enjoyed having a new place to vent some of my more obscure musings and observations. We've tried to keep the place tidy. (Don't mind the mess in the corner... the cat's been a bit ill since she ate the Gouda.)

I hope that your tropical trip did you well and left you refreshed and ready to resume your pithy ponderings here on your blog.

And we damned well expect souvenirs. Or at least photos of some of the soccer players who tried to woo you.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Unhappy Birthday

I’ve come to wish you an unhappy birthday
‘Cause you’re evil
And you lie
And if you should die
I may feel slightly sad
(but I won’t cry)

-- The Smiths, “Unhappy Birthday”

Tomorrow is the third birthday of the Downing Street Memo. (If you can, celebrate DSM Day at an event in your area.)

It’s been three years since President Bush and UK Prime Minister Tony Blair began to construct a case for a war in Iraq.

It’s been three years since they fooled (many of) the people they ostensibly represent into believing that the war was a necessary evil, in spite of its being an unnecessary but inevitable consequence of a collective foregone conclusion, at best.

It’s been three years since the governments of two of the most powerful nations in the world conspired to provoke Saddam Hussein into a war, used the UN to deliver an ultimatum that had no out clause, and fixed the facts and intelligence around an unprecedented policy of preemption.

It’s been three years since crucial resources were diverted from pursuing the real culprits behind 9/11 (and now, 7/7) to embark on an unrelated folly.

It's been three years since Bush and Blair realized that their war was illegal, and decided they didn't really mind. (The Green Knight)

It's been three years since Bush and Blair decided that the most basic features of democracy -- an open and transparent government answerable to an accurately informed public -- didn't matter so much anymore. (The Green Knight)

It’s been three years since nearly 2,000 American soldiers and countless Iraqis were sentenced to die.

It’s been three years of fearmongering, divisive politicking, mistreatment of prisoners, encroachments on civil liberties, hiding the realities of the war, manipulating and controlling the media, marginalizing dissenters, seeking revenge on critics, and lies.

Lies and more lies.

Three years.

Unhappy birthday.

(Crossposted at Shakespeare's Sister.)

Five things to love about Joisey ... errr, ... I mean Jersey

DISCLAIMER: I'm not a native born Jersey guy, and I don't live there now. I did, however, live there for a full decade. I made camp in a number of different areas of the state, ranging from Plainsfield in the North, down to Pittman, Cherry Hill, Gloucester, and all the way to Barnegat Bay. I spent plenty of time in Atlantic City, and drove around the swamps in the South and the Pine Barrens. One night, with far too much Jack Daniels in me, I swore I'd seen the Jersey Devil out in the Cranberry bogs.

To this day I still think that leaving Jersey was the best thing I ever did - not so much in the sense of "Oh my God I've got to get OUT of this hellhole!", (though at the time a fair case could be made for that motive) but more because the move brought me to a place where I finally met and married the one true love of my life.

The state surely holds some awful memories for me as well. I survived one of the more horrific motorcycle crashes you'd ever want to witness in Jersey, but I'll spare you the details. The other dark memories mostly dwell around the fact that Jersey is where where I met my ex-wife. It was one of the shorter marriages on record, I'm sure, but much like the cactus that you don't see until you're flying over the handle bars of your bike, it left some deep scar tissue. She was a beautiful young thing with the face and body of a professional model. Unfortunately, they hid the soul of a succubus and her heart was a blackened, tiny little thing which would probably taste of camphor should cannibals ever be unfortunate enough to catch and eat her.

That's not to say I don't still think about her from time to time. I mean, you can't go through that much of a major life experience and not have occasions, in years to come, where you begin asking yourself those hard "what if" questions. Generally they run along the lines of, "You know... if I'd just shot your whore ass when you got off the plane with your boyfriend that day, I'd probably be out on parole by now. Hell... with a couple of divorced guys on the jury I might have even walked."

But I digress. Where was I? Oh, yes. I was going to list some of the things I love about The Garden State. (Where in the hell did they come up with that name? That's what I want to know.) So, without further ado... or much of it anyway, Jazz's list of five things to love about Joisey.

1. The Jets. Yes, they're technically a New York team in name, but they play in Jersey and North Jersey lovingly adopts this pack of perennial losers the same way that South Jersey adopts the Eagles. Broadway Joe, with his mink coats and pantyhose commercials, may have been the urban, public face of the Jets, but their heart and soul was a scarred up guy from Newark who would just as soon hit you with a tire iron as intercept the ball.

2. Jersey Girls. I really believe that only outsiders who move to Jersey can truly appreciate Jersey Girls... far more so than guys who grow up there. I was an outsider, so I never took the fierce nationalistic pride of native Jerseyites to heart. I could hear the endless litany of Jersey Girl jokes and just keep on giggling at them, while still appreciating the women themselves. ("What's the difference between a Jersey Girl and a catfish? One has whiskers and cold slimy skin. The other is a fish.") Jersey Girls tend to be true, home grown beauties, but not in that flashy, cover girl kind of way. It's more of a "I still look damn hot in jeans and a t-shirt after I just changed the oil in my own motorcycle" kind of good looks. All jokes not withstanding, Jersey Girls rock.

3. The Food. Jersey, to my knowledge, doesn't really have it's own, unique, regional food specialty like many other areas do. But what they have is - in the finest tradition of the melting pot of America - access to a bunch of other regional culinary treats which they've simply stolen - whenever the Newark guys weren't already tied up carjacking your SUV, anyway. It was the first place where I had seriously good crabs cooked in somebody's back yard. (Imported from Delaware and Maryland.) Crab cakes too. And from Philly, there were big, dripping meaty sandwiches and Philly cheesesteaks. Dining was always an adventure in Jersey, and I'll confess I miss it.

4. Frank's Chicken Ranch. For those not familiar, Frank's is (or maybe was? Is it even still there?) a stripper club. But it's not like those glitzy, expensive places you find in New York. Frank's didn't even mess around with having a liquor license. The girls danced stark naked in one of the most horrific, squalid environments I'd ever seen. Some of them showed up with fresh stitches in their heads, and this seemed, strangely, to be a selling point. They served food at Frank's, but only chicken. I never ate it. I simply didn't have the nerve. I brought my own bottle of booze (which they thoughtfully sold back to you after you turned it over to them) and I never touched the glasses without rinsing them first in raw alcohol. A trip to Frank's with my friends wasn't a treat as much as it was a dare. I only went two or three times in all those years, but it's seared into my memory like a branding iron.

5. The Boardwalk. If you're ever in Atlantic City and can tear yourself away from the slot machines for a few minutes, walk out in back of Ceaser's (or most of the main casinos) and take in the Atlantic City Boardwalk. It's everything you've heard an more. Coney Island doesn't hold a candle to it. The sights, the sounds, the smells, the rides, the attractions, the gift shops... you can spend a whole day walking around that place and still see fifty new things the next time you come back. Oh, and the collection of freaks that you'll run into nearly every time is also worth the price of admission. (Which is free.)

There you have it. Five great things about Jersey. A great place to be from and an even better place to visit.

I'm not a big weekend poster

Hello, my friends...and you are my friends. I have been delighted to be a guest here at The One True Tami's place this week, but I'm not a big poster on the weekends, so this may be my last posting here.

It's a lovely day in my corner of New Jersey. A beach day. Hot, but with relatively low humidity. A fine day to hang out down the shore. I expect the Parkway will be very crowded this evening with people heading down there on "this warm July." Politics doesn't seem very important to me at this very moment.

Down in town the circuit's full of switchblade lovers, so fast, so shiny, so sharp
As the wizards play down on Pinball Way on the boardwalk way past dark

I'm feeling pretty nostalgic. I used to live in Long Branch. I'm not much of a beach guy, mind you. I don't like laying on the sand, roasting my skin, slathered in oil. But living down the shore was heavenly. I don't know if it's the same these days. I hear that the coast at Long Branch has been covered in condos, trying to mimic Miami I guess. Prices have gone sky-high. And maybe it has gotten more like north Jersey, the pace of life more frenetic, rushed, intense. When I lived down the shore there was this fine, semi-rundown, lazy feeling to it. I loved it for the ambience, the spirit, the ease of it all.

Weekends like this I would ride my bike out and around Sandy Hook, riding in the street and avoiding both the heavy traffic and the wide storm drains that could wreck your wheels, out to the end of the Hook, the old military installations, the tip of the Hook taking a pounding from the Atlantic, back around on the Shrewsbury side, the boats moored in the river, riding at anchor in the bays, looking up at the Highlands, people across the water eating steamers on the deck at Moby's. There was always a strong headwind coming from one point of the compass or the other and I'd hope that the wind was offshore so I would have an easier time on the ride back, through Sea Bright where it floods every year and the residents complain that it floods every year like they are somehow surprised by it, stopping off in Monmouth Beach to pick up an Italian ice at a mom-and-pop, riding with one hand while trying to eat a lemon ice with the other and not drip on my clothes, turning back into Long Branch by the Hilton (except I think it's a Sheraton now), up Broadway past Joe and Maggie's Bistro, turning up Norwood, where I used to live.

Long Branch was a fine place to live fifteen years ago, when Red Bank was first declared "the hippest town in New Jersey" before it was overrun with too many coffee shops, trying to become the Seattle of the East or something equally as pointless. Long Branch had a poor reputation and maybe it wasn't a great town if you had children in school, but I liked it. It wasn't a place to impose itself on you. There were lots of shops, all of them with that "rundown but working" shore look, a boardwalk where folks would stroll in the evenings and on the weekends, batting cages and a few pinball arcades eking out a living. It was a that made live-and-let-live seemed like the moral code of the whole world. There was a condo development near Seven Presidents Park that had gotten just so far and no farther; the story I heard was that the developer had run out of money. It stood, unfinished, the walls up and painted but without windows, like a creature with empty eyes, for years. It seemed the perfect metaphor for that area. Maybe it would get finished, maybe it wouldn't, maybe it would be something a little better, maybe it would fall into decay, eaten by the salt in the air, or maybe it would just stay exactly like that, neither prospering nor failing, but nobody caring, either. The days were fine and the nights pleasant and every now and then a storm would come off the sea and, if you had a mind to do it, you could ride out to the boardwalk and watch the clouds, roiling, black, miles offshore, as the storm approached. Then you'd ride your bike double-quick back to your apartment just before the storm broke and turn off all the lights, listen to the thunder, watch the lightning, and enjoy the power of a storm just off the ocean.

In the summertime
And oh the wonder
Felt the lightning
And we waited on the thunder
Waited on the thunder

That was my Long Branch. That was my shore life. And maybe it was the time and place and maybe it was just me, younger, single.

Sandy, the aurora is risin' behind us
Those pier lights, our carnival life forever
Oh, love me tonight and I promise I'll love you forever

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Ok all you neocons.... CHARGE!

Stop by Middle Earth Journal for my report on how the Army is now moving to allow people to enlist for the Iraq war up to age 42. This should allow almost all of your favorite American Taliban, Hypnochrist™, neocon bloggers to go enlist and head on over to get blown up in Fallujah. Unless, of course, they'd rather sit on their fat asses at home snarfing Cheetos and writing about the war they love so much, rather than fighting it.

I would write more today, but work has been simply hell. I haven't even been able to write in my own blog and I'm very sad. Hoist up a tasty beverage for me, please, and I'll try to do better tomorrow. Man... I knew I should have stowed away in Tami's luggage.

W is for Women: Part of a Continuing Series (of Complaints) about How the World’s Women Suffer Under the Bush Regime

The New York Times:
A working draft of Iraq's new constitution would cede a strong role to Islamic law and could sharply curb women's rights, particularly in personal matters like divorce and family inheritance.

The document's writers are also debating whether to drop or phase out a measure enshrined in the interim constitution, co-written last year by the Americans, requiring that women make up at least a quarter of the parliament.

The draft of a chapter of the new constitution obtained by The New York Times on Tuesday guarantees equal rights for women as long as those rights do not "violate Shariah," or Koranic law.

The Americans and secular Iraqis banished such explicit references to religious law from the interim constitution adopted early last year.

The draft chapter, circulated discreetly in recent days, has ignited outrage among women's groups, which held a protest on Tuesday morning in downtown Baghdad at the square where a statue of Saddam Hussein was pulled down by American marines in April 2003.

One of the critical passages is in Article 14 of the chapter, a sweeping measure that would require court cases dealing with matters like marriage, divorce and inheritance to be judged according to the law practiced by the family's sect or religion.

Under that measure, Shiite women in Iraq, no matter what their age, generally could not marry without their families' permission. Under some interpretations of Shariah, men could attain a divorce simply by stating their intention three times in their wives' presence.

Article 14 would replace a body of Iraqi law that has for decades been considered one of the most progressive in the Middle East in protecting the rights of women, giving them the freedom to choose a husband and requiring divorce cases to be decided by a judge.
There is, of course, more.

The interesting thing about this article to me is that the “liberation” of Iraq at our hands has in fact not liberated Iraqi women at all, but seems instead likely to roll back rights they have been guaranteed for decades. And if Americans had the foggiest idea of what made Iraqis different from Afghanis, for example, and what life was really like before the war for the average Iraqi, which, despite what you’d think if you listened to the American media and our government, consisted of (shockingly!) the full spectrum of human experience and more than just 24 hours a day of rape rooms and torture chambers, they’d be outraged about what is now happening to Iraqi women. But to be outraged about what they’ve lost, people would have to be aware of exactly what that is, and they don’t know, and they don’t care.

I’m honestly too pissed about this to write anything especially thoughtful.

The Heretik, however, has a great post and a round-up of women (and yes, so far it’s all women) who are blogging about this. Check it out.

(Crossposted at Shakespeare's Sister--and posted here in honor of Tami, one of many women who remind us all daily of the importance of giving women freedom and a voice.)

Culture of Corruption News

While it's no crime, Mike Ferguson, Representative in the NJ-7th, can't be considered entirely ethical when he condemns stem cell research in the strongest terms and then accepts campaign contributions from companies that engage in stem cell research. This is like an anti-choice politician accepted money from NARAL. It would be an interesting exercise to see how many politicians who condemn stem cell research, as Mike Ferguson does, actually take money from companies that perform stem cell research.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Bloggin', got my chips cashed in

Hidy-ho! This is not Tami again. Yup. Frogsdong. That's me. I may or may not have heard from The One True Tami on double super secret background. I'm not sure. I got this tiny umbrella like you get in those tropical drinks and the words, "the lunatic is on the grass" were scrawled on it, but I don't know what it means.

I am also not sure what this means. Forecasters at Rutgers predict that "Job growth in New Jersey will weaken over the next five years, and many of the new jobs will come in the lower-paying restaurant, leisure and social services sectors."

The five year outlook for New Jersey, at least according to the article, is not as dire as it may at first appear. New Jersey's job growth and economy in general have been outperforming the nation's in th epast. In addition, the Rutgers forecast is based on current circumstances and trends, but cannot possibly take unforeseen circumstances into account. For example, if Senator Corzine is elected and is able to bring his plans to fruition, things could improve even more in this state, even as we have been outperforming the country as a whole for some time and with little help from the federal government. If the Democrats were to strengthen their position in House and Senate in 2006 (can we all say a collective "Dump Mike", referring to Mike Ferguson in the NJ-7th?), New Jersey could reap significant benefits in improved federal funding. Last year, the state received only $0.57 back for every $1.00 we sent to D.C. That's a number that could be improved considerably with a friendlier Congress.

I recommend you read the entire article in for the ups and downs (it's very short) and, if you have the time and inclination, read the actual forecast, which has a rosier tone in general.

Anybody want to take a stab at explaining what it all means? Or even just that "lunatic is on the grass" bit?

All the news that's printed to give you fits

With all of the attention being paid to the new SCOTUS nominee, Rove and Plame, and the war, so many truly important stories are simply falling by the wayside. Fear not! Followers of The One True Tami shall not go uninformed!

Apparently, in Shapleigh, Maine, you can't sell hot dogs from an illegally parked vendor stand. Well, unless, of course, you're a woman in a bikini.
The bikini-clad hot dog vendor near Mousam Lake in Shapleigh who ran afoul of a parking ordinance has cut a deal with state and local officials.

Under terms of the compromise, Schultze will be able to remain in her spot this season. But she'll have to move next year when she opens for business with a modified cart that she can wheel across the street.
So the bikini babe can still hand out weiners. No word yet as to whether or not "Speedo Sam" will be able to resume selling donuts.

Moving right along... what will senior citizens do after Bush finishes gutting the Social Security system? Well, industrious golden girls will stop whining and find themselves a new gig.

Woman, 76, arrested for selling drugs from second story window

A 76-year-old woman was arrested for selling crack cocaine by putting the drugs in her purse and lowering them by rope from her second-floor window.

Minnie Perlotte Collins was arrested on Friday on charges of possession and sale of a controlled substance, but she paid the $10,003 bail and was freed.
Damn. And up until then her plan had seemed foolproof.

There's been a major break in the stolen garden gnome case. And here I thought all of the little bastards had just run off and gotten jobs with Travelocity.

Some people seem like they're probably never going to make the breakthrough and move up to a major city newspaper. For example, when you publish a 16 point headline like this.


Memorial boys track and field coach taking over girls cross country team

We'll be back later with your "cows being run over by trains in Scotland" update.

Enjoy your hump day. And don't even get me started on that.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

In science the smart money is always on surprise.

While most readers seem to focus on the political, my co-conspirator at Running Scared, Ron Beasely and I also like to wander off to the world of science and technology blogging. Today I've run across a story that involves both! The Paper of Record has a wonderful, long science piece on the search for other life in the galaxy which incorporates more sinister moves by our dear friends in the "intelligent design" community. (If you're not familiar with them, they're pretty much like the Reality Based Community, except that they're ... errr... not.)

The article starts off with the results to date of the search for extrasolar planets. (We've found more than 150 to date, believe it or not.) It then goes on to talk about the fact that we've yet to come up with any that are remotely like Earth, in terms of a potential biosphere and conditions suitable for supporting human life, or at least of growing their own form of intelligent life. Fortunately, the author points out that most of the early planetary discoveries were made using the "wobble theory" where the presence of an unseen planet is inferred by the "wobble" it gravitationally induces in its star.
In retrospect, it seems only natural that the first planetary systems these astronomers discovered were psychotic beasts unlike anything previously imagined. The more massive a planet is and the more tightly it circles its star, the bigger the wobble and thus the easier it is to detect. As a result, the first planets were so-called "hot Jupiters," orbiting their suns in a matter of days instead of years, lethally searing and dense.
To be realistic, however, we also can't allow ourselves to fall into a trap of thinking that you can't swing a dead cat without hitting a star harboring an earthlike planet. There are some minimum requirements you need to meet.

The list of astronomical requirements for life gets longer and more exacting every year: the home star has to be far enough from the galactic center to be away from lethal black hole pyrotechnics, for example, but not so far into the galactic sticks that stellar evolution has not yet produced enough of the heavier elements like oxygen and iron needed for planets and life.

Among other things, its planet has to have liquid water, a magnetic field to keep away cosmic rays, plate tectonics to keep things stirred, a giant outer planet to keep away comets and asteroids and perhaps a big moon to stabilize its rotation axis.

Of the 200 billion or so stars in the galaxy, what fraction have the lucky combo to win this cosmic lottery? Faced with the same paltry data, different astronomers get vastly different conclusions, ranging from hundreds of thousands to one, namely our own.

If there's a chance that habitable planets are rare, you could probably have predicted that the Hypnochrists™ would seize on that as support for intelligent design and a new chance to dis Darwin. So did it happen? Oh, you betcha, Sparky.

This would merely be an interesting academic argument except for a film that is going around, and which I recently viewed, called "The Privileged Planet," which suggests that the Earth's nice qualities are no accident.

The film, produced by Illustra Media in California, is based on a book of the same name by Guillermo Gonzalez, an astronomer at Iowa State, and Jay W. Richards, a philosopher and vice president of the Discovery Institute in Seattle.

The "Discovery Institute", eh? Sounds scientific enough. I wonder who they are?

It argues that Earth is so special and unlikely that it must be the work of an intelligent designer. "What if it's not a cosmic lottery?" Dr. Richards asks in the film.

The Discovery Institute advocates "intelligent design," a notion that posits the intervention by a designer, whether divine or not, in the origin and history of life, as an alternative to standard evolutionary biology. Illustra Media has produced a series of videos in support of this idea.

The showing of the film at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History last month exacerbated the worries of many astronomers that the Big Bang would be next on the hit list of creationists.

There's the next thing to put on your watch list, progressives. Once the Evangelicals are done ripping Darwin a new rectum they're coming after the Big Bang. This article, however, closes on a comfortingly rationale note, leading to the title of this blog entry. All is not lost. I'll leave you with the closing bits, but recommend you follow the link and read the original. It's a very good piece.

But the argument from design, many scientists say, is circular. Charles Stevenson, a planetary scientist at Caltech, said that it was no surprise that the Earth appears suited to our needs. "That's what Darwinian evolution tells us should happen. We are adapted to our world," Dr. Stevenson said.

Who knows what powers atoms in their collective and complex majesty have to respond to their environments over time?

Lacking anything approaching a final theory of physics, or of how planetary systems form, and of more than one example of life - the biosphere on Earth - scientists have no way of actually knowing how unlikely various properties of life and the universe are. In science the smart money is always on surprise.

Everybody agrees that intelligent technological life is a much greater leap, but it might be instructive to consider who is laying down bets on at least looking for it. Among the financial angels of the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, or SETI, have been people like Paul Allen, the co-founder of Microsoft; the late Barney Oliver, William Hewlett and David Packard, leaders of Hewlett-Packard; Gordon Moore, the founder of Intel; and the novelist Arthur C. Clarke, who invented the idea of the communications satellite.

The smart money isn't always right, but this is certainly smart money.

CNN Will Keep Novak

Shakes here, with a question: What's wrong with CNN?

I know. Lots of things. The thing in particular I have in mind at the moment is the announcement of their decision to stand by Robert Novak—also known as Boob Novakula: Traitorous Sh*theel, so-named by Maru the Crankpot (scroll up)—in spite of his willingness to aid and abet the commission of a crime by reporting the name of a covert CIA operative.

For a moment, let’s forget that he may well be part of a criminal conspiracy that reaches all the way to the upper echelons of the White House (and believe me, CNN is all too willing to forget, or at least deny, invoking the same bullhooey “wait and see, ongoing investigation, blahbiddy blah blah” statement as McClellan offers on a loop), and instead focus on the fact that Novak is a tool of the administration. Whether he was feeding info to Rove, or Rove was feeding info to him, or whether they were both feeding each other marshmallows roasted on sticks in the fireplace of a romantic getaway in the Appalachians to the sound of Dueling Banjos, doesn’t really matter a whit. Novak is a pawn and an administration mouthpiece—that much is evident without necessitating any formal investigation. So why does CNN want people like that working for them?

Credibility schmedibility. Who needs it when you’re racing Fox to the bottom of the scum-covered barrel?

Others on Boob Novakula: Traitorous Sh*theel…

Pam notes Novakula Gets to Keep His Coffin and features a lovely picture of the undead commentator care of Radical Russ.

Billmon goes completely haywire on Novakula, to hugely entertaining results:
One industry insider speculated that CNN would use advanced refrigeration technology to try to keep Novak's corpse from completely falling apart while it waits for Larry King to pass over into the undead state.
Read the rest here.

(Crossposted at Shakespeare's Sister, except with all the bad language intact, where the tenor of discourse is already so objectionable it just doesn't matter.)

Monday, July 18, 2005

Ahoy, True Tami Devotees!

Shakespeare's Sister here, joining my esteemed colleages Jazz and Frogsdong. Even I don't know who else might show up; what fun--I love mysteries!

I'll start with a question as my inaugural post: Is there a bigger idiot than Tom Tancredo? I think perhaps not. I'll leave you to discuss while I tune in to Rushbo and wait with bated breath to see if this GOP Congressman is treated to the same savaging that Dick Durbin was.

Ha ha, just kidding. Everyone knows that suggesting we bomb Mecca doesn't endanger the troops. Not when Tom Tancredo says it, anyway. I hear he's got a bumper magnet that says he supports the troops, so you know it's true.

I Believe

Everyone needs something to believe in.

  • that big business and the Federal government have been in bed together since before I was born. But in "the old days" they at least tried to hide it. Now they're doing it right out in the open like two big dogs shagging in the park.
  • that future generations of presidential historians will be shocked and appalled at the corruption and mendacity of the current administration, but we won't find out about it until the culprits are long since dead and buried.
  • that the current two party system has replaced government in the best interest of the governed with the high tech "sport" of politics, where winning is all that matters. And there's not a damned thing we can do about it because we'll just keep on electing career politicians who are more loyal to their "team" than to the people they represent.
  • that robots are stealing my luggage. (Ok... I stole that one from Steve Martin.)
  • that the giants strides of progressive social reform which were achieved from the sixties through the eighties are slowly eroding. Without major changes in who we elect to power we won't see them again any time soon.
  • that the oil is going to effectively run out by the end of this century and our grandchildren will live to see the beginning of the next, permanent stone age because we're not doing a fraction of the work we need to accomplish to get away from non-renewable energy sources.
  • that there is a showdown looming between the United States and one or more of the other nations who we continue to anger in our arrogance. My money is on China.
  • that we'll be lucky if most of us are left to blog about all of these events as they unfold.
Yes... everyone needs something to believe in. Right now I believe I'll have a drink.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

To walk with Death and Morning on the silver horns

The title is from a poem by Tennyson titled "Come down, O Maid." Follow the link if you feel inspired to read the entire piece, but here's the portion of interest today.
For Love is of the valley, come thou down
And find him; by the happy threshold, he,

Or hand in hand with Plenty in the maize,

Or red with spirited purple of the vats,

Or foxlike in the vine; nor cares to walk

With Death and Morning on the silver horns,

Nor wilt thou snare him in the white ravine,

Nor find him dropt upon the firths of ice,
That huddling slant in furrow-cloven falls

To roll the torrent out of dusky doors
Where do you look when in search of love, friendship, meaning or spirit? One school of thought would tell you that every search must begin within one's self, and there is certainly something to be said for that. Critical self examination and appreciate are very likely prerequisite to the ability to appreciate others. Tennyson, however, goes beyond that stage. He insists that we must leave our own haunts and travel new roads if we are in search of such an elusive goal. Also, that we should avoid those who embrace the negative, which they will only reflect back on us if we allow it.

nor cares to walk with Death and Morning on the silver horns

This guy was born nearly 200 years ago. (1809 -1890) It's funny how people back then could look through a simpler, cleaner lens than we seem to be able to muster today. The visions they found there were somehow more beautiful as well.

What am I on about today, you ask? I have no idea. Just something simple and lovely for a Saturday morning which I thought you might like to ruminate upon.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Redundant Announcement

Well, Jazz has let the cat out of the bag already, but I'm gonna say it anyway: I'll be on vacation starting Sunday. I'm cruising to Bermuda, for those of you who would ask. I assume that those of you who would ask are a different subset than the really-big-eyes crowd.

Anyway, I have, indeed, asked a few bloggers from around blogtopia (skippy reference!) who I think are particularly ginchy if they'd pinch hit for me. OK, I asked 2, Jazz asked the rest. Will they write? I hope so. Who will it be? Well, that's for you to find out if and when they post, right? I will say this about the guests - they're all swell lookers, and none of them is Chinese.


Fibbus Interruptus

Hi there! For those of you who don't recognize me and were expecting to see another post from The One True Tami, I'm not her. That doesn't mean I haven't often wished to be her... but I'm not and I've come to terms with that and am at peace. No... my name is Jazz. I'm the proprietor of the blog Running Scared, and Tami has asked me, along with a few other authors, to help her out by filling in with some guest blogging while she is on vacation over the next week or so. (No, no... I'm sorry. No autograhs just now. We can try to get to that after the Q & A session following the presentation. Thank you.)

First of all, I can't even describe how overwhelmingly grateful I am for Tami's invitation. This priceless opportunity will give me the chance to have yet another place where I have to think up something to write for the edification and amusement of a group of anonymous internet strangers, as I sit in my stuffy office with broken air conditioning, while Tami ..... relaxes ....

... in the tropics.

Ok. It's possible that "overwhelmingly grateful" may have been a stretch. But let's press on, shall we? I come before you today armed with a brief diatribe, not on the social dangers of neoconservative dogma, as is my usual choice, but the social dangers posed by the Interrupting Fibber. Some of you may already be familiar with this creature, either having one currently plaguing your life, or having had a previous encounter from which you escaped. But for the benefit of those most at risk - the dangerously uninformed- I offer this cautionary tale as a warning from which you may someday benefit.

The Interrupting Fibber (I.F.) is a person who will suddenly disrupt any conversation among other people, blurting out some incredible, outrageous tale designed to top whatever incident is being discussed. This is likely an attempt to make their own shallow, dull pointless life suddenly look appealing or even enviable to their peers. What the I.F. fails to realize is that absolutely nobody is believing this incredible, steaming pile of horse dung and, rather than being fascinated and engaged in the story, are actually silently wondering what sort of traumatic, psychologically damaging incident during their childhood could have led to this sociopathic behavior.

Sadly, I have an I.F. in my life at this time. You see, along with three of my good friends - Cliff, John and Kirby - I am part of a dart team that participates in a local league held at various pubs in the area. This has led to many fine times, a lot of enjoyment, and the opportunity for all of us to meet new friends in each other's social circles. Sadly, this has also led to my recent acquisition of a new "friend".... Brett - the Interrupting Fibber.

Let's say that our team is having a practice session down at the pub, having a few cocktails, tossing some darts, and just chatting. Then Brett shows up. Inevitably the conversation will devolve into something like this:

Jazz: "Say, Cliff. Where were you last Friday night? We didn't see you all evening."

Cliff: "Last Friday? Oh, didn't I tell you? I finally got a date with Melissa, that girl who tends bar down at TGIFridays."

John: "Wow. Really? How'd that go?"

Cliff: "It was pretty good actually. She seems really nice. We went to see an early movie, and after that...."

Brett: (Interrupting rudely.) "Melissa? Ha! Are you kidding me? Didn't I tell you what happened to me last weekend? Man, you wouldn't believe it."
[ed: We already don't]
Brett: " I had a date with TWINS! Yep... twin sisters. And they were both models for Penthouse a couple years ago. Man, were they wild. Check it out... so I've got them back in my apartment, and they're in the bedroom, naked, and rubbing bacon all over each other. I come walking out of the bathroom carrying a saddle and a set of jumper cables...."
Sadly, that really isn't much of an exaggeration for the kind of stuff this guy says. And he does it all the time. What is possibly even more sad is the fact that none of us ever challenge him or question his stories. In fact, most times we don't say a damned thing. Personally, I feel unable to. It's kind of like watching a car wreck in slow motion... you just can't look away.

It gets to the point where we just stare at him blankly. Rather than the obviously hoped for response of shock or admiration, Brett watches us go completely silent and turn back to our drinks and tossing darts. Frankly, I'm afraid to even order another beverage at that point because I absolutely know that he will immediately go into a tale about how he's getting ready to take over Seagrams Corp. International in a leverage buyout next week. (An amazingly dexterous financial feat for somebody who rents a very cheap, one bedroom walkup flat.)

So have a care, gentle readers. Should you run into an I.F. in the future, now you know the warning signs. At that point, as most evolutionary anthropologists would recommend, you should drop into "fight or flight" mode. If you are not suited for confrontation, run away quickly and avoid this beast. Or, if you are more aggressive in nature, stand up to the I.F. immediately and call his/her bluff. Don't make the mistake I did and allow them to get away with it, because soon you'll be trapped in a social hell of your own making.

Later this week I'll be back with another installment of my occasional series, "What's that smell like." I know you'll want to stop by for that.


Is It Too Soon To Hope?

When Mahmoud Abbas was elected as the new Palestinian leader, I put forth the opinion that he would only be able to do his people any good if he was willing to actually police those Palestinians who were using terror and acts of extreme (military?) violence to make their points. Firing rockets during cease-fires, sending teenagers with explosives strapped to their bodies, I'm of the opinion that these activities don't foster peace.

Today, over on BBC News, there's a piece that depicts Abbas as doing exactly what I was looking for:
Our correspondent says he has always been very reluctant to use force, but pressure to take decisive action grew after the Israeli woman was killed by a missile fired from Gaza.

His administration has now said that it is determined to take firm measures to impose order.


Soon after the rocket attacks, Palestinian police, reportedly acting on orders to stop further rocket fire, clashed with Hamas members in northern Gaza.
It is my dearest wish that the Palestinian people will come to realize that killing each other is not their goal, and that this will bring them to a place where killing anyone seems like less of an option.

Whether or not it's too soon, I'm going to allow myself to hope, today.

Comment Corner

Every once in a while you get a really good discussion going in the comments section of your blog. I think that happened here, yesterday, on my "Right and Wrong" post. It's a reasonable (shocking, I know!) debate about government, choice and Iraq. It's here, and of course at the comment link from the post, and I think it's really worth a read. People voicing thoughts and opinions, and no one calling anyone else a monkey.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Right and Wrong

It has come to my attention that some people might not understand what drives my opinions - why I think that some things are right, and some things are wrong. "How do you determine which is which?", you seem to ask me with you large, round, imploring eyes. At least, that's how I picture you in my head. Very kid-on-black-velvet-painting-that-I-bought-at-a-gas-station, if you know what I mean. Anyway, like I said - you're confused.

(If you're not confused, I don't mean you. Get over it.)

What makes something right:
It allows people to live in the manner that they choose, including the condition that they do not choose to infringe on *other* people's rights. You think the only way to live is on a farm where you get up at 4:30 to milk animals? Go ahead. You think the only way to live is helping messed-up rich people with their problems until you become a messed-up rich person yourself? Go ahead. No sex without marriage? Fine. No marriage? Fine. No sex? Well, you'll die out unless you get a lot of recruits, but that's OK with me, too. Love computers? Hate zippers? All of that is all right with me. Laws that let people choose these things? Yes.

What makes something wrong:
It infringes on someone else's right to live in the manner that they choose. Any law that affects what consenting adults do (non-lethal) to each other behind closed doors? No. Taking money away from the poor to fund things that will "make our economy stronger"? No. Love illegal dumping? No. Hate biracial marriage? No. Want to impose your country's system of government on the entire world? No.

Really, no. I love the US, and I love democracy. I don't love that it's brought me to this particular point today, but not everything is bad. Sometimes you have to try new ideas out to find out if they work or not, especially when you know that problems exist that aren't being solved. True, new things often don't work, but that doesn't mean that trying them is wrong. I think our system is a great system that is growing, and evolving with the world around it, but that assuming that everyone wants to live this way is arrogant. Some people like church and state all wrapped up together. Some people find too much freedom chaotic, and need to live somewhere more ordered. Let them - as long as they, too, don't try to impose their ideals on the entire world.

What does not make something wrong: If you don't agree with someting that doesn't affect you, it is not automatically "wrong". That's why I feel the way I do about other countries choosing their own form of government. It's like people choosing to paint their den chartreuse and orange. I don't want to be in that room, but I don't have to be, now, do I.

What does not make something right: If other people have done wrong things before, and no one complained. It doesn't make those wrong things all right, and it doesn't make the new wrong things all right. Someone (possibly even me) may be a hypocrite, but that doesn't make what they're saying any less true, if it's true.

Maybe there are extenuating circumstances, and maybe I don't understand exactly how everything needs to play out. The world exists in shades of grey, I get that. But it still doesn't mean that the answer to "person 2 did something wrong" is "person one did something else wrong and you defended person 1". Whether or not I was wrong then doesn't mean I'm not right, now.

I get the feeling I may have said all this before.

So, are you less confused now? Yes? Would you mind making the big-eyed face a little longer, anyway? It's just so darned cute...

Wednesday, July 13, 2005


It's like the other people in the country don't count to the current administration. And when I say "other people", I mean the Senate and the House, too.

Jazz, posting at Middle Earth Journal, says it very well, in his post "Bolton back in the news".
I don't believe that anyone ever anticipated a sitting president acting in such a glaringly abusive fashion. This situation points out a hole in our federal legal system. Whether it's done through a constitutional amendment, or via federal legislation, checks need to be put on the Executive Branch's power of the recess appointment.
Feel free to read the whole thing, he makes good points, Jazz does.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Nothing on Earth is Funnier

...than a monkey with a cigarette. I don't know why. I don't even smoke anymore and I still think it's funny.

(Hat tip Mu at Running Scared)

'Human-brained' Monkeys

Sure, the story is frightening, and sounds like something out of a comic book, but man, the picture is funny.

Downing Street, Rove, Other People's Words

First of all, thanks to everyone who sent me good wishes. That was pretty awesome, really.

Next, I realize that I haven't said anything at all about Karl Rove, nor have I posted about the Downing Street Memo in days and days.

Third, I'm very lazy so I figured that once again I'd just steal completely from Shakespeare's sister, and today's dispatch for the BBA:

the big story today continues to be Karl Rove and his role in the Plame affair. Some people have expressed concern that this story has the potential to eclipse the Downing Street Memos, but I don'’t think we ought to be viewing them as separate issues. Instead, we need to view this as an opportunity to create a narrative that ties the two together.

My post on that issue is here:,
and says, in part:

"[R]ather than viewing the Plame issue, and particularly Rove's role in it, as separate from the issues raised by the Downing Street Memos, it's important to see them all as part and parcel of one larger issue. Practically and factually, that issue is information manipulation and message control, and allowing ideologically-driven and designed propaganda to trump fact-based intelligence. Philosophically, that issue is a severe and appalling breech of ethics, most notably the betrayal of the trust of the American people."

One thing that's working in our favor is the media's heightened interest in the Rove part of this narrative (check out the lede on this AP report: We need to work our tails off to connect these two stories, so that each time a story is filed about Rove's involvement in the Plame affair, there's a mention of its most important aspect: that the Bush administration feels politics is more important than national security- —as has already been amply demonstrated by the Downing Street Memos (among other things). It is our job to hammer away at this, never letting one be spoken without the other, to demonstrate that each is part and parcel of a pattern of behavior for which the Bush administration must be held accountable.

The media has taken interest in the Rove story (see here
for a transcript of today'’s press briefing and here for video- it'’s truly unbelievable the change in tone over this story), and that's half the battle. Now we must just connect the dots for them as to how this is indicative of an overarching problem.

We should be pushing this narrative as much as we did the Downing Street Memos and keep calling for accountability.

I have to say I agree 100% with this assessment. When a President lies, it hurts the country. I understand that you can't tell everyone everything, that's a security nightmare, but you can't pull this crap, either. Why are we living in a country where the administration hides its true intentions from the citizens of that country? Is it because if the true plans were revealed that no one would want to go along with them? Instead of plain dealing, we get lies and denials. The spin machine has spun too far. When will our administration level with us? When will people doing illegal or immoral (no, immoral does not always imply sex) things be fired for their activities, or even punished? When?

Monday, July 11, 2005

Sorry I've Been Gone

Sorry I've been MIA. I was under the weather on Friday, and if I'm going to be honest about it, I'm not that great today, either. I'm finding it hard to concentrate enough to read, so I don't think I'm going to try and give out my informed or uninformed opinions today. Hopefully, tomorrow.

Thursday, July 7, 2005

You're Hired!

Tony Blair on terrorism today:
Mr. Blair says the attacks that rocked London's transport system are particularly barbaric since they came when world leaders are trying to focus on combating poverty in Africa and the effects of climate change.

The prime minister said he will rush back to London to assess the situation, but the summit meeting will continue.

And he vows that terrorism will be defeated.

"It is important that those engaged in terrorism realize that our determination to defend our values and our way of life is greater than their determination to cause death and destruction to innocent people in a desire to impose extremism on the world," he said.
I heard him say these words on the radio this morning, and it was a very moving statement. No childish slogans about good vs. evil, no misspoken words, no "down home charm". Just an honest expression of the will to maintain reason.

I would like to hire his speechwriter away from him, with the hopes that he could make listening to my own leader a less painful experience.

Wednesday, July 6, 2005

Why Now Is Different Than Then

I read an article on Raw Story pointed out to those of us in the BBA by Shakespeare's Sister today. It's about how Clinton bombed Iraq more than Bush did in the days before the war.

At first glance, this would seem to be a story that tells people that those of us decrying Bush's foreign policies are just over reacting. If Clinton bombed Iraq even *more* than Bush, doesn't that indicate that it's just business as usual? Of course now that I've said that, you know my answer is "no".

Clinton's orders were to bomb Iraq in response to planes flying over the no-fly zone. There were rules established, and Hussein was violating them knowingly. Personally, I suspect him of purposefully antagonizing the US and Great Britain, though I have no actual proof of that. There *is* proof, though, of those planes flying in airspace that was expressly forbidden to them, with the knowledge that it would bring retaliation. Well, retaliate we did.

The Bush bombings? Were they reported to us as a response to a no-fly violation? Were the bombings being executed to retaliate against Iraqis committing acts that were specifically "flying in the face" of U.N. sanctions? No. These bombings were done to clear the way for a ground war - a war based on the concept that we were going in to get the WMD that Hussein was so obviously hiding. Except, of course, that he wasn't.

I remember hearing about the bombings in the news. I remember wondering why in the world the Iraqis continued to send planes into the no-fly zone, and why they were inviting people to attack them in response. Never did I get this same sinking feeling that I have now, the feeling that the military actions of the US are keeping the country torn apart and in a state of extensive chaos. To me, that's the big difference.

Friday, July 1, 2005

Good night, Day (O'Connor)

Sandra Day O'Connor leaving Supreme Court

Well, Hell. I'd heard the rumor, and it's actually true.

Who will be the new appointee?
Possible replacements include Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and federal courts of appeals judges J. Michael Luttig, John Roberts, Samuel A. Alito Jr., Michael McConnell, Emilio Garza and James Harvie Wilkinson III. Others mentioned are former Solicitor General Theodore Olson, lawyer Miguel Estrada and former deputy attorney general Larry Thompson, but Bush's pick could be a surprise choice not well known in legal circles.

Another prospective candidate is Edith Hollan Jones, a judge on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals who was also considered for a Supreme Court vacancy by President Bush's father.
My favorite like is the one about the "surprise choice" option. Oy.

I don't think it will be Gonzales. I do actually think it will be a woman. If I know bush - a minority woman. A minority woman willing to sell out every other person of her kind in order to grab that power, baby. That sounds about right for what we'll get. You know, based on what I've already seen these past 4 years.