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August 31, 2004

Repub Convention So Far

I think the three biggest messages I'm getting so far from the Republican convention are these:

  • We're very caring people.

  • You're free to vote for us even if you don't agree with our platform.

  • It's the way in which we tell you that it's "our way or the highway" that matters.
With only minor word changes, one of the Republicans said almost exactly what I did in the third bullet.

I wish interviewers in the media would be more challenging on the logic of the interviewee—it would impede the mendacity. "You mean that the Democrats don't want X?" "You say Y, but how does your policy actually demonstrate that?"

I wish the Republican party mascot was a large, angry bull.

Pleasure Boat Captains for Truth

Learn the real truth about W's pre-born-again "reckless" and "irresponsible" years as told by the Pleasure Boat Captains for Truth. (Click on the "Low Tolerance" link.)

August 30, 2004

Gov McGreevey, meet Rep. Schrock

And the #@*! continues to hit the fan...this time it is a Republican. Ah, justice, how sweet you smell.

Va. Legislator Ends Bid for 3rd Term
Schrock Cites Unspecified Allegations Questioning His Ability to Serve

By Michael D. Shear and Chris L. Jenkins
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, August 31, 2004; Page A02

Rep. Edward L. Schrock (R-Va.) abruptly dropped out of his race for a third term yesterday, citing unspecified "allegations" that he said called into question his ability to represent his Virginia Beach district.

In a statement, Schrock, 63, did not address the nature of the allegations, but he said they "will not allow my campaign to focus on the real issues facing our nation and region." His chief of staff, Tom Gordy, refused any further comment last night.

Schrock's announcement came after a gay activist claimed on a Web site on Aug. 19 that Schrock is secretly gay.

Michael Rogers said his claims about Schrock were motivated by anger over what he said was the hypocrisy of the congressman's opposition to gay rights while leading a gay life. He said the purpose of his Web site is to make public the names of lawmakers and other politicians who engage in such hypocrisy.

"Why should my community protect him?" Rogers asked. "He's the enemy."

Rogers said on his Web site that Schrock had been recorded several years ago using a telephone service on which men place ads to arrange liaisons with other men. Rogers posted an audio link of an unidentified man placing an ad. Rogers said the man is Schrock, who is married and has a child.

The accusation by Rogers had circulated widely among Republicans in the state during the past 10 days and spurred rounds of talks among members of Congress, House leaders and local party leaders.

"We were unable to get any facts. It was all rumors and conjecture," said one Republican familiar with the talks who spoke on condition of anonymity. "No one wanted to believe the rumors. Everyone wanted to stand with Ed."

Last week, Gordy called Rogers's accusations "unsubstantiated rumors" and insisted that Schrock would stand for reelection as planned.

But party leaders in the district began planning a meeting in case they needed to review their nomination. The 2nd District Republican Party is scheduled to meet tonight to select a new nominee.

Mark L. McKinney, chairman of the Virginia Beach Republican Committee, said he had not talked directly to Schrock. "It's a shame that he had to resign because of a Web site that is trying to push a point of view . . . but . . . I have to believe that this was the reason why he stepped down."

Schrock's announcement came on the first night of the Republican National Convention in New York.

Virginia's top Republicans publicly ignored the sexual allegations and offered kind words about Schrock's service in Congress. Schrock, a Navy veteran of the Vietnam War, was elected in 2000 to represent Virginia's 2nd District, a conservative part of the state that includes Virginia Beach, parts of Norfolk and Hampton and Virginia's Eastern Shore.

The area is home to many military bases and a large number of active-duty service people and veterans.

Schrock retired from the Navy in 1988 and later became an investment broker, resigning in 1995 to run successfully for the Virginia Senate.

In Congress, Schrock has served on the House Armed Services Committee. In 2001, he was elected president of the Republican House freshman class.

In 2000, the Virginian-Pilot said of Schrock that he favored ending the Clinton administration's "Don't ask, don't tell" policy on gays in the military. He supported asking enlistees whether they have had homosexual experiences in an effort to try to keep gays from serving.

"You're in the showers with them, you're in the bunk room with them, you're in staterooms with them," Schrock told the Virginian-Pilot. "You just hope no harm would come by folks who are of that persuasion. It's a discipline thing."

Sen. George Allen (Va.), speaking from the Republican convention in New York, said through a spokesman "I have enjoyed working with Ed Schrock for many years as governor and as senator. I respect his service to Virginia as well as the personal decision he made today."

Attorney General Jerry W. Kilgore, the Republican Party's presumptive nominee for governor next year, said in a statement, "I think we should all thank Rep. Schrock for his tireless and devoted efforts on behalf of the Commonwealth."

The congressman's decision has prompted what the state's top elections official called "a scramble" to nominate a new candidate. Democrats have nominated David B. Ashe, an Iraq war veteran, as their candidate.

Politicians considered the seat a safe one for the Republican incumbent.

Jean Jensen, secretary of the Virginia State Board of Elections, said Republicans have until 5 p.m. Friday to replace Schrock.

Several state Republican lawmakers said they are considering seeking Schrock's seat.

The leading candidates are state Sen. Kenneth W. Stolle (Virginia Beach) and Del. Thelma Drake (Norfolk), according to several Republican sources who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the events surrounding Schrock's sudden decision. Del. John J. Welch III (Virginia Beach) also said he is considering a bid.

A clash between Stolle and Drake could exacerbate a philosophical split that erupted earlier this year over taxes. Stolle supported higher taxes; Drake fervently opposed them.

Republican Party Chairman Kate Obenshain Griffin, who presides over a state organization that has been rocked by one scandal after another in the past several years, said she hoped that her party would come together quickly to move on.

"It is now important for Virginia Republicans to unite behind our nominee and work hard to ensure the 2nd District continues to be represented by a Republican," she said.

What's the Frequency Kenneth?

So last night, I'm watching the news about the convention in NYC, right? And here's the thing I notice right away: What's with the headsets, Dan? Over on NBC, Tom Brokaw and his crew aren't wearing headsets, and look, there's Brian Williams down on the floor with a big ol' microphone. But all of Dan Rather's crew? Wearing those dorky headsets. Why? Are they trying to show us they're mobile and wired? Plus, why are they so BIG?

Tangentailly related: On the same news broadcast, a story about the helmet cams the well dressed riot cops in Manhattan are wearing. The guy answering questions said it was so they could see if action on the streets is as bad as the cops are saying, but the paranoiac (is that a word?) in me thinks it's so they can ID the protestors.

I'm focusing on the trivial so I can choke down the RNC. I really think I should know more about what rhetoric the opposition is using.

Meet the Backyard bloggers

Well, the The Seattle Times today launched Backyard Bloggers, of which I am one. My first post should appear today... we'll see what the editing looks like. If it's really different, I'll post the original here. I can already tell which of these folks I'll be arguing with. In general, though, it seems like a pretty cool and interesting crowd.

If everyone can help me out by posting with links from the Times, I'll have a good excuse to link to your post and, as they say, flog the blog.

W, the new Major?

Could George W Bush become the next John Major? Major's narrow re-election as UK PM in 1992 was, by all accounts, a disaster for the British Conservative Party. In this intriguing (but arithmetically-challenged: fourteen years ago?) article, Niall Ferguson argues a GWB re-election could be equally devastating for the Republican Party.

Cheap secrets

How do you spot an air marshal, those super-secret officers protecting our skies from terrorists? Just look for the guy asking for the Air Marshal's Discount at the check-in desk.

I don't know what's more disturbing: that we're willing to risk exposing the marshals to save a few bucks, or that we've downgraded a frontline in the War on Terror (TM) from Sheraton to Super 8. Ugh.

August 27, 2004

What goes around, comes around

Al French, a prosecutor in the Portland area, recently joined in the "Swift Boaters are Liars" mess when he swore that John Kerry was lying about his Vietnam record. French was there, but had no part in the specific events, nor did he have personal knowledge about the events. After this attorney was challenged about the veracity of his affidavit, he admitted that his testimony was based on his very good friends' knowledge. Oh, OK, then.

Well, turns out that Mr. French has had a problem with telling the truth on more than this occasion. He is being placed on leave because it turns out that he lied about having an affair with a secretary (this would have been grounds for dismissal as it violated the office rules). He lied to keep his job and has now been busted. Also seems that he was fired before (and later reinstated by a new boss) for taking an unauthorized four-week leave.

Let me just state for the record: "Other attorneys hate guys like this. He is not representative of those of us with integrity."

Read the whole Oregonian article here.

August 25, 2004

Related to Nothing

I got a new camera. Plus, the tomatoes are getting ripe. I just wanted to share.

"He kept rolling away from me. He's quite mobile."

Talking Points Memo has a priceless entry about Bush, his pals, and their sense of humor.

As we wrote earlier, Max Cleland and Jim Rassman went to the president's "ranch" today to present him with a letter Cleland got stopped a the first roadblock.

He tried to give the letter to secret service officials guarding (giving the word rather a new meaning) the president. But the president got a political ally from Texas, Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson -- who is also a vet -- to show up and offer to take the letter, if Cleland would take a letter from him in exchange.

(The press accounts I've seen thus far don't mention what the Bush campaign letter said.)

Cleland told him never mind; he'd rather stick it in the mail.

That prompted Patterson to utter this pricelessly unlovely retort ...

"I tried to accept that letter and he would not give it to me," said Patterson. "He would not face me. He kept rolling away from me. He's quite mobile."

Yes, quite mobile. Classic.

Did I mention that President Bush is addicted to having others do his dirty work for him?

Am I honor-bound to thank him for giving me this priceless example?

I don't want to be accused of not doing my duty.

So a former Senator who lost three limbs in Vietnam is just a funny joke to Bush and his friends. Makes my blood boil.

Forget Spit and Swallow....Just Breathe

With all the fuss of scent and bouquet of wines, with the chance of bruising your vodka, and the damning offense of not warming your cognac properly, you would of thought that someone would have thought of vaporizing alcohol sooner. Now a British company has done just that. The machine that converts alcohol into breathable mist, the one that supposedly creates a low-calorie, hangover-free buzz, is apparently perfectly legal, according to state officials. AWOL, or Alcohol WithOut Liquid, has hit our shores. Well chock another one up for the British invasion, and just when I was getting used to Snorts.

August 24, 2004

Absentee Ballots

Get one. If you live in King County, get yours here.

August 23, 2004

Erm, thanks ever so, old chap, but I couldn't possibly!

TBogg picks up the news about the latest wrinkle in the "special relationship."

BRITISH Prime Minister Tony Blair is refusing to fly to the US to receive a medal bestowed on him by the nation for his support over last year's Iraq war, a London newspaper reported today.

US President George W. Bush has put huge pressure on his closest ally to pick up the Congressional Medal of Honour in person, the Sunday Mirror said, quoting a senior British government source.

Mr Blair is immensely popular with large sections of the American public for his staunch support of the Iraq war and the White House believes a visit by the prime minister now would provide a much-needed boost to Mr Bush's re-election campaign, the weekly said.

"There has been a lot of telephone traffic between the White House and Downing Street over the medal in recent week," the Sunday Mirror quoted a senior government source as saying.

"George Bush wants the prime minister to come to Washington and pick up the medal, which is the highest honour America can bestow on a foreigner.

"But he has refused for more than a year now and for good reason. He cannot possibly accept an award for the Iraq war when British and American troops continue to risk their lives there."

Super Dingo

Super Dingo,
Many Cattle
Australian Outback,
Blood Splattle

A Super Dingo may eat more babies!!!!

August 20, 2004

Hey, now, where do you think you're going?

Not sure what's wrong with those no-fly lists? Get a load of this.

August 19, 2004

Bear Beer Bash

CNN has a funny story about an alcoholic bear. But he doesn't drink just anything:

It turns out the bear was a bit of a beer sophisticate. He tried a mass-market Busch beer, but switched to Rainier Beer, a local ale, and stuck with it for his drinking binge.

August 18, 2004

Yo! GOP Raps!

This short imagines W & Co as another variety of thugs. Just be glad they didn't include the hos. Safe for my work, but probably not yours. (Thanks for the link, Jason!)

Go Freedom

Go far, far from liberated Iraq! Just like al-Jazeera.

August 17, 2004

The Adventures of Action Item

What would happen if superheroes used Microsoft Outlook? Find out here.

August 13, 2004

Jennings, Brokaw, Rather Apologize for Inadequate Questioning of Bush Administration

Ah, we can dream, can't we? In The Globe and Mail today is a story about The Washington Post apologizing for being "strikingly one-sided at times" about Iraq's weapons in the months leading up to the invasion (though they were hardly the worst offenders). This is somewhat similar to an article in the New York Times in May about its own inadequacies during that period. At the end of the piece in The Globe and Mail is this note: "Representatives of the three major U.S. television networks yesterday said their news divisions were not engaged in formal reassessments of coverage."

More Overkill: 10 Reasons to Cheer Naked

I hope this leads to legal action, to highlight the stupidity in a practical way. A cheerleading coach for a university-aged team was fired for giving permission to his team to wear T-shirts that read and listed "10 Reasons to Cheer Naked". Apparently, he didn't make the shirts, he didn't distribute the shirts, and there was no actual nudity. But someone complained to Florida's University Athletic Association.

August 12, 2004


I can't believe this!! The married governor of New Jersey resigns because the shit is about to hit the fan that he is gay-- and acted on it. It's about time that the news got juicy!!

I just saw this news, so I can't say I have processed it. I am sad that being gay is such a negative factor in his life, stunned that he was holding hands with his wife at the press conference, and proud that he admits it. I guess everyone thought he was resigning because he is corrupt, so it's cool that he is outing himself instead of just going with the flow. He has a bunch of kids, how sad for them that he didn't admit it to himself earlier before involving two wives and his kids in the lie.

And the horse you rode in on

I'd like to send a nice big "Fuck you!" to the California Supreme Court for being lily-livered cowards and giving in to the unreasoned bigotry of Christian extremists who brought suit against the city of San Francisco for issues marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Let's just hope that the Washington Supreme Court, as it reviews the case recently won in King County, is capable of thinking rationally and acting fairly.

Choose your condiments carefully

Because this time, it's political. As the Web site for W Ketchup reminds us, everytime we buy that more nationally recognized brand of burger lubrication, we're supporting Teresa Heinz's liberal causes and John Kerry's 57 varieties of flip flopping.

At least now I have proof that conservatives are crazy. I mean, even more, irrefutable proof.

As an aside, last night Ali G was talking to an Earth Firster about protesting MacDonald's in England because they started charging for ketchup packets. Maybe that's just another example of those tax and spend liberals gone wild.

No president left behind

This would be funny, if it wasn't so incredibly sad.

August 11, 2004

Those crazy spammers

This was posted as a comment to this post about optical illusions:

"Or think again of the fact that everybody (usa visa) nowadays loves The Carpenters, but we almost (accept credit card) inevitably listen to them through the prism (green card) of Karen's illness and death, thus reading all (green card) lottery"
Posted by: merchant account on August 11, 2004 05:11 PM

I view spammers through the prism of their illness. Then I despam their comments in about 1 second and ban their IPs.

"Build a better Bush"

This is funny. If you give him "drunk eyes," thinning hair and a little bit of stubble, you probably have a fair approximation of what he'll look like in 2006 after a couple of years all alone at the Crawford Ranch with his old flame, Wild Turkey.

SL Trib to press: "drop dead"

More, now, of our continuing coverage of the press covering the press's coverage... First Draft (a great new blog) points us to the unceremonious slapdown delivered by the Salt Lake Tribune to the media vultures who keep flogging the story of the guy who killed his wife. (The headline? "Go Away.") I tried to edit it down, but it's all so good. So here goes:

Police have determined that a young woman reported missing a couple of weeks ago was murdered. They say her husband did it. Even the suspect's family says he has confessed. He is in jail.

Hundreds of volunteers who were scouring the foothills and putting up posters have been thanked and sent home. Police are left to dig through the local landfill.

Incessant national media attention no longer serves any purpose.

Unlike the Elizabeth Smart case, there is no reason to hope that Lori Hacking will be spotted at a truck stop in North Platte, or a trailer park in Yakima, no point in spreading the all-points bulletin to everyone with a television set and a cell phone.

So, with all due respect and thanks, we have a simple message to the national media paratroops who have parachuted into Salt Lake City for another juicy story on a missing white woman:

Go away.

This is a local story, involving the pain of local people, investigated and prosecuted by local officials and thoroughly covered by the local media. Further reporting of this story for any other audience, beyond short updates, is a waste of videotape, ink and, most of all, time.

When this story is all over it might, in the hands of a perceptive writer, make a good magazine article. But it really appears no different than the sad tales of hundreds of other women who, each year, are killed by those they trusted the most.

For Fox News, MSNBC and, most disappointing of all, CNN - the Network of Record - to be spending so much time hashing, rehashing and, most of all, speculating on the gory details of this single case is an excellent example of what's wrong with the mass media today.

Every minute spent by Larry King or Fox News on Lori Hacking or Laci Peterson is a minute they don't spend on health care, education, environmental quality, national security, the economy or other real issues that should be the center of public attention, especially in an election year.

A nation full of people who know more about Scott Peterson's defense strategy than they do about Donald Rumsfeld's is not a nation that shows much ability to govern itself.

Local folks have a right and a duty to look over the shoulder of their criminal justice system as it does its job. Reporters from other media outlets can and should be available to backstop the locals whenever there is reason to believe that those closest to the story were seduced into joining either a lynch mob or a whitewash.

But for so much of the talent, time and resources of our worldwide media to be spent on a story of strictly local importance displays no courage and little imagination. Instead, it is a symptom of a perverse laziness on the part of both the media and its audience.

So it's time for the circus to pack up and leave town. Don't worry. If anything happens, we'll let you know.

Enough said... except to add one note from First Draft's commentary: "This says everything I could say about Lori Hacking and Laci Peterson. Why do I know how to spell their names? I've avoided news coverage of their killings because every single fucking day in my town young black men are shot to death on the street and we can't even get our own media to descend on the scene ... The only reason we know Laci Peterson and Lori Hacking is because they're white, pretty and dead. And that's revolting."

"Why am I the only honest bigot?"

Slate has a thoughtful article on how our disavowal of racism makes it harder to confront our own racist impulses. It's quite a confessional on the part of the author, who has more credentials than 99% of us if she wanted to simply declaim "I am not a racist." She also goes in a bit more for class struggle than is fashionable these days--and props for that. It's a good read, ending with this observation:

"It's not bigotry per se that hamstrings us in the struggle to achieve a just society. It's our inability to talk about and think our way through our preconceptions. We have to learn how to forgive each other, and more importantly ourselves, when we're stupid."

Cops confiscate D&D book on NJ-NY ferry

From BoingBoing comes a pretty terrifying story that should telegraph to everyone just how severely our rights have been eroded. I'm no D&D fan, but there is no way the book in question is "dangerous" or "inappropriate."

A BB reader sez: "Thanks to the RNC, there are manditory bag searches happening on the NJ-NY Ferry. This fellow first got hassled with a re-search for carrying The Player's Guide to Faerun a D&D book, and then the next day, security tried to confiscate his copy of Exalted: The Abyssals as 'inappropriate.'" He reports:

This morning, they're doing bag searches again to get on the ferry. And the guy doing the searches pulls me aside and says, "Sir, I feel that I need to confiscate this book."

I pause and say, in that tone of voice that most people would recognize as meaning, "have you lost your grip completely, chuckles?": "You need to confiscate... a book."

"Yes. I feel it's inappropriate for the other people on the ferry to be exposed to it."
He gets all pissy at me and says, "Don't you understand this is for your safety?"

"Confiscating someone's gun or bomb is for my safety. Perhaps confiscating someone's pocketknife or nailfile may be for my safety. What's so damn dangerous about my book?"


So now a book doesn't have to be seditious or obscene... it only has to freak out a rent-a-cop or TSA agent. If they are coming for the comic books, what do you think they'd do if you had a copy of this? I almost want to find out.

Somebody remind me again how we got here? And don't tell me "Sept. 11" because I'm pretty sure it's the fanatical Islamists who want to censor and sanitize everything. If this is what it takes to win, we've already lost.

Rugby W style: lies and penalties

The New York Daily News Daily Dish & Gossip column today has a bit on Bush lying about playing "varsity rugby" at Yale. Ha.

Varsity mendacity?: With all the controversy about John Kerry's Vietnam medals and ribbons, who'd have thought that loyal George W. Bush aide Karen Hughes would be the one to catch the President fibbing about a supposed varsity letter? In her new book, "Ten Minutes From Normal," Hughes recounts a conversation with Bush after Russian President Vladimir Putin grilled him on his Yale days.

"President Putin knew you had played rugby, but he didn't have the context. I mean, you just played for one semester in college, right?" Hughes said.

Bush corrected: "I played for a year, and it was the varsity."

Yesterday, a Yale spokeswoman confirmed that there's no such thing as varsity rugby at Yale - not when Bush was an undergrad in the 1960s and not today.

There is, however, this record of W suckerpunching a fellow rugger. (I bet he was a back, too.) Here's Kos's quote from the yearbook caption about that photo:

Incidentally, while rugby is a contact sport, every player knows that tackling above the shoulders is a foul. So is leaving your feet during a tackle. Either of these is serious enough that the other team is immediately awarded a penalty kick, often directly resulting in points for the other team.

So even without throwing a punch, Bush is already well outside fair play.

Grasping an opponent by the back of the head and punching him in the face is beyond the pale -- I've watched rugby avidly for years, and I've never seen it during an open-field tackle like this, honest -- and will typically result in a player being immediately sent off.

That's it--let's red-card the bastard for suckerpunching our democracy, sending soldiers to needless death, and of course, for that chimpy little smirk we all see in our nightmares now.

August 10, 2004

Bag Borrow or Steal

Bag Borrow or Steal: like Netflix for purses. Have fun, ladies!

August 09, 2004

Safety Second

This chart from the NYT (also cached for posterity here) sums up better than I ever could the utter falsity of the justification of the War on Iraq as a broadside in the War on Terror. Just look at what real safety $140 billion could have got us. And this doesn't even count the cost of inflaming Arab hostility to the US that the war actually caused.

Fast Food Nation

On Sunday I went to see Supersize Me at the Crest. (I was pretty surprised at how entertained I was. I'd expected mostly to be grossed out, but it was a pretty good tale.) And last year in carpool/reading group we all read Fast Food Nation, a first rate read about the history and direction of the fast food industry in the America. Thus educated, I ain't buying the statement in the Seattle Times that "Subway would fit into the parks system." Fast Food nation took a pretty heavy handed swing at Subway's business practices. And one of the most heart-breaking scenes in the Supersize Me is when an overweight teenager is expressing her frustration because she can't afford to eat at Subway twice a day.

I shouldn't be surprised. After all, one of the places that's being given the Subway contract is the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way. I guess if Weyarhaeuser can be considered an environmental company, then Subway can be considered to be a company that "promotes healthy alternatives."

Just in case you, too, want to ask the King County Parks if they've really done their homework around this decision, here's the email address for Tom Tiegan, the enterprise manager for the parks department.

Disclaimer: Yes, of course, there are other places with MUCH worse food. And I've eaten and Subway out of road trip fueled desparation. I just don't think we should pretend that they're an excellent augumentation to the park system.

Seattle Times "backyard blog" project

The Seattle Times emailed today to let me know that I will be one of the bloggers in their Backyard Blog project starting Aug. 23 and running through the election. I don't think I'll be allowed to use all the bad words that the Badministration provokes me to, and it sounds like our posts (and comments) will be highly edited but it should be interesting. More to come.

Politics first, intelligence... never

So The Poor Man tells us all about the Bush administration's other Pakistani "Stop the Presses!"--and how it also may have compromised the goals of good intelligence. The al Qaeda bad guy they announced having nabbed at the end of the Democratic convention last month had actually been nabbed four days earlier (inconveniently, at a time with less news value for the Badministration). The only problem is, the expedient time to released that information came before intelligence officials had fully interrogated him. Even those crazy Pakistanits knew what a bad idea this was:

Though there is no policy governing how long to keep such arrests secret, standard intelligence practices dictate that the capture should not have been made public until investigators had finished with Ghailani (and the laptop and computer disks he had been captured with). Indeed, Ghailani may still talk, but some current and former American officials fear that, by broadcasting his name around the world, the Pakistanis have reduced the value of the intelligence that interrogators can extract from him. "Now, anything that he was involved in is being shredded, burned, and thrown in a river," a senior counterterrorism official told the Los Angeles Times. "We have to assume anyone affiliated with this guy is on the run ... when, usually, we can get great stuff as long as we can keep it quiet." Adds former CIA operative Robert Baer: "It makes no sense to make the announcement then. Presumably, everything [Al Qaeda] does is compartmented. By announcing to everybody in the world that we have this guy, and he is talking, you have to assume that you shoot tactics. To keep these guys off-balance, a lot of this stuff should be kept in secret. You get no benefit from announcing an arrest like this. You always want to get these guys when they are on vacation, when they are not expecting you."

Strong leader. Safer America. Turning a corner. Full of shit.

August 07, 2004

Fire someone, already, W!

Juan Cole informs us that in defending their politicized terror alert last week, the Bushies (specifically Ridge) outed another importance intelligence source. Loose lips, etc., right? What's important is that W get reelected--protecting sources deep in al Qaeda is cleearly secondary to that!

Forget Berger, meet Shelby

This post by Digby is terribly interesting. Republican Senator Richard Shelby--who has strenuously argued for prosection of leakers--is now revealed as a leaker himself.... of highly sensitive 9/11-related information, no less. Not shockingly, the people calling for Sandy Berger's head over copies of a few memos (which contained nothing truly shocking) are trying to help cover up what Shelby did to avoid an embarrassing scene. I think the phrase is: hoist by your own petard. Great blogging.

More Fox News randomness

I love this blog: Boing Boing: Fox News attacks Disney for insufficient homophobia

Fox News's review of the Disney PC contained a totally random hysterical condemnation of the company for permitting the annual Gay Day events at its parks.

VARNEY: Well, you know, I -- exactly. I mean, in June you have "Gay Days" at your theme parks. You got any 'Gay Days' on the Mickey computer?

IGER: Well, this has built into it all kinds of protective devices that protects the kid, or the child from internet sites that a parent wouldn't deem appropriate. Also, the fact --

VARNEY: Well, you don't protect the kids from "Gay Days" at the theme parks, do you? Why do you have to protect them in the computer?

Down in Fraggle Rock!

Via BoingBoing, some great news: Fraggle Rock is finally on DVD.

Most of y'all know that I am not a big Mary J. fan, but the thought spending a long, stoned evening with the HBO/Henson phantasmagoria that was Fraggle Rock sounds like a great vacation from the rigors of 2004. Yes, back in 1983, in withdrawal from the cancellation of the Muppet Show, it was easy to sink into the persistent weirdness of the Fraggle/Doozer/Gorg ecosystem. I think it would be pretty appealing to escape into that subterranean world once again. Gobo and Wembley, it will be great to see you again.

Anyone else up for it?

August 06, 2004

Crazy Christians: Obama is the antichrist

You have the read the Google cache because the owners of clearly realize how nuts it sounds, but thankfully Pandagon got to it first. In case you're wondering just how nutty a wingnut can be, read this (I can't be bothered to put in all his scare links):

Barack Obama The Antichrist

Did anyone catch this guys speech at the Democratic Convention? This guy bothers me, and here is why. First of all, Barack means blessed. This is from his bio:The lanky candidate speaks with grace, often without notes; strangers greet him enthusiastically on the street.

Even Republicans are complimentary. He exudes confidence and finesse Rep. Ray LaHood of Illinois told USA Today.

And yet, in the middle of reporters' scrums and enthusiastic greetings from strangers, Obama has remained preternaturally calm (exceeding what is natural or regular).

"The rich guy flamed out, and Obama was right there," said Mendell. "He ran a really smart primary campaign. He waited until the ninth inning to score all his runs. ... It was masterfully done. (His running mate Jack Ryan withdrew from the race because of sexual activity claimed by his wife.) He was introduced by longtime Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, who referred to Obama as a man who can help heal the division in our nation.

This guy just sounds to perfect to me. He came on the scene vertually unheard of except in Illinois. I looked at the polls this morning, and Burack Obama had more of a percentage rate then anyone giving speeches at the Democratic Convention...INCLUDING KERRY!!!

He continues in another post:

Yes, it is uncanny the way that people are flocking to him. He has an eerie magnetism. I watched his speech, and I was almost spellbound. He said ALL of the right things. Even the tv commentators said that they had never heard such a good speech at a convention before. I'm going with my gut on this one. My sister and I both feel something "spooky" about this guy, but can't quite figure out what it is. It is odd that strangers come up to him on the street. Why would they do that, unless they were drawn to him.
You are right GodSaves, we are supposed to watch, and those that do not, aren't very bright to say the least. Jesus didn't give us His word with all of the information in it for no apparent reason.

The good news is that there were quite a few posters like this:

It's a shame when a Christian becomes "bothered" just because a man's name means "blessed", speaks well, and is popular within the political community. Come on, Grace; can't a guy give a good speech without somebody in the Christian world becoming "bothered" due to some dubious eschatological fear?

This thread is really ridiculous.

I grew up with people who were obsessed by "dubious escahtological fears" and any view into their brains is like jumping through Alice's looking glass. The bad news here is that these are precisely the people Karl Rove believes Bush has to cater to. And boy do they love Dick Cheney. Hmmm... Keeps coming back to life after heart attacks, has a mechanical device in his chest that is definitely NOT mentioned in the Bible, and his offspring is an evil lesbian. If American politics has really devolved into a game of "spot the Antichrist," Cheney gets my vote. Any other nominations?

US in Iraq: $15,000 per worker

This sad joke of long division comes to us from The Washington Note: the president (who hates big government handouts) is spending about $15,000 per working age US citizen in Iraq, counting all 2004 expenditures. He adds:

At a macro level, America has 5% of the world's population and is spending roughly half of what the entire world spends on defense but is not getting the security deliverables it deserves from the Pentagon. In the case of Iraq, the U.S. is spending about 10 times the per capita GDP of the average Iraqi citizen and is largely reviled and unappreciated.

Clearly, we are not getting good returns on this taxpayer money -- and our thinking about what constitutes security and stability -- and what the U.S. should spend money on to achieve its foreign policy objectives needs to be seriously rethought. More on that soon.

"Results matter," right George? I don't think all the king's Roves and and the king's Terror Alerts will be able to put 50.1% of the electoral vote together again.

Malkin: "Seattle Hates America." Seattle: "We hate you even more!"

OK, now I really hate this biyotch. And, horror of horrors, she's coming here tonight (Bothell, actually) to speak at a church. We could always do SDS in the parking lot while we picket, right? You think?

Imprompu political art

Imprompu political art from a men's health center in the Castro, courtesy (again) of security risk:


Text of King County marriage decision

Tim at security risk" quotes extensively from Judge Downing's opinion Wednesday. We're lucky to have a public servant like this. Some highlights:

There was no deeply rooted tradition of interracial marriage at the time of the U.S. Supreme Court's consideration of anti-miscegenation statutes in Loving v. Virginia, supra; yet, the Court analyzed the issue of their constitutionality in terms of the broad right to marry and found that right to have been infringed. There was no deeply rooted tradition of marriage while delinquent in child support payments at the time of the U.S. Supreme Court's consideration of statutes prohibiting this in Zablocki v. Redhail...(1978); yet, the Court analyzed the issue of their constitutionality in terms of the broad right to marry and found that right to have been infringed. There was no deeply rooted tradition of inmate marriage at the time of the U.S. Supreme Court's consideration of statutes restricting this in Turner v. Safley...(1987); yet, the Court analyzed the issue of their constitutionality in terms of the broad right to marry and found that right to have been infringed....

It is true that marriage has long been defined as the union of one man and one woman. It is equally true that the shape of marriage has drastically changed over the years. It took a very long time for the courts (with legislative bodies sometimes understandably following just a little behind) to break down the traditional stereotypes that relegated women to second class status in society and in the marital relationship....Serving tradition, for the sake of tradition alone, is not a compelling state interest....

Some declaim that the institutions of marriage and family are weak these days and, in fact, stand threatened. Any trial court judge who regularly hears divorce, child abuse and domestic violence cases deeply shares this concern. It is not difficult, however, to identify both the causes of the present situation and the primary future threat. They come from inside the institution, not outside of it. Not to be too harsh, but they are a shortage of commitment and an excess of selfishness. Before the Court stand eight couples who credibly represent that they are ready and willing to make the right kind of commitment to partner and family for the right kinds of reasons. All they ask is for the state to make them able....

Of course the laws never have placed a requirement on marriage that the parties procreate nor do they prohibit from marriage those who are unable or disinclined to procreate....

Unlike the documented impact of children's exposure to domestic violence and substance abuse in the homes of lawfully married heterosexual couples, as to children raised by intact same-sex couples there is no science, only questionable assumptions based on stereotypes. The Court concludes that the exclusion of same-sex partners from civil marriage and the privileges attendant thereto is not rationally related to any legitimate or compelling state interest and is certainly not narrowly tailored toward such an interest.

If there is indeed any outside threat to the institution of marriage, it could well lie in legislative tinkering with the creation of alternative species of quasi-marriage.... Better, perhaps (in terms of simplicity, fairness and social policy) to allow all who are up to taking on the heavy responsibilities of marriage, with its exclusivity and its "till death do us part" commitment, to do so - not lightly, but advisedly....

The privilege of civil marriage and the various privileges legally conferred by that status are not being made equally available to all citizens....[In addition, the] denial to the plaintiffs of the right to marry constitutes a denial of substantive due process.

[T]hese plaintiffs...include exemplary parents, adoptive parents, foster parents and grandparents. They well know what it means to make a commitment and to honor it. There is not one among them that any of us should not be proud to call a friend or neighbor or to sit with at small desks on back-to-school night. There is no worthwhile institution that they would dishonor, much less destroy....The characteristics embodied by these plaintiffs are ones that our society and the institution of marriage need more of, not less.

August 05, 2004

OK, she's a wing nut and a liar

Annie Jacobson, that is. Planes are fine, I'm told. Sorry y'all.

ICRC: US guilty of war crimes at Gitmo

From the Dep't of Just as we suspected

The International Red Cross issued a strong statement yesterday about the abuse allegations made by released British detainees at Guantanamo against their American captors: The Americans may have committed war crimes.
Read about it in the indispensible Guardian UK.

AP, not Onion: "Bush Insists His Administration Seeking 'new Ways to Harm Our Country'

Furreal y'all:

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Bush offered up a new entry for his catalog of "Bushisms" on Thursday, declaring that his administration will "never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people."

Bush misspoke as he delivered a speech at the signing ceremony for a $417 billion defense spending bill.

"Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we," Bush said. "They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."

No one in Bush's audience of military brass or Pentagon chiefs reacted.

Chicken run! or not...

I am trying to work out how this could have happened, and it's just not coming to me. My understanding of the physics of windshield wipers and chicken motion is limited, but still, their intersection in this particular way seems somehow unlikely. Maybe I should be considering something about how quantum physics' effect on time and motion might be involved...

Escape-A-Date is the new Dodgeball

With apologies to Jay for not letting sleeping dogs lie or dead horses decompose gracefully, but I had to bring up this new service from Cingular that will call you during a date and walk you through a script that can be used to convince your dud of a date that you suddenly need to rush off.

Why do I love the Boss?

Because he rocks in so many ways.

A few years ago, when Christine Todd Whitman was appointed head of the EPA and New Jersey was holding elections for the governor's post, there was a movement to nominate Bruce Springsteen. He said he wouldn't run, but if he had, I would have given some thought to moving back there to vote for our state hero.

Yesterday, announced a series of concerts including Bruce, the Dixie Chicks, Dave Matthews, our own Death Cab for Cutie, and several other big name musical acts who are trying to bring about a regime change in November.

Today, Bruce has a piece in The New York Times op-ed page, an eloquent and passionate article, explaining the Vote for Change coalition.

Explaining his decision to come out as a political activist after so many years of not directly endorsing any one party or candidate:

Like many others, in the aftermath of 9/11, I felt the country's unity. I don't remember anything quite like it. I supported the decision to enter Afghanistan and I hoped that the seriousness of the times would bring forth strength, humility and wisdom in our leaders. Instead, we dived headlong into an unnecessary war in Iraq, offering up the lives of our young men and women under circumstances that are now discredited. We ran record deficits, while simultaneously cutting and squeezing services like afterschool programs. We granted tax cuts to the richest 1 percent (corporate bigwigs, well-to-do guitar players), increasing the division of wealth that threatens to destroy our social contract with one another and render mute the promise of "one nation indivisible."

I'm also going to add his closing line to my catalog of favorite quotes from this election season. "The country we carry in our hearts is waiting."

Bush and Beans

Ok, i just could not resist this wonderful little BUSH doll!
What is politics without a little bathroom humor anyway???
While you're there, check out the Dirty Little Gnomes


This is the face of a Bush supporter (courtesy of the Washington Post):
View image

August 04, 2004

winning friends and influencing people

I know this will come as no surprise to you that the Coalition Provisional Authority was spending Iraqi money in violation of its own rules. We've heard the allegations of political favoritism, overcharging and waste. Now it seems that the CPA was using Iraqi money to pay for things that the US Congress would balk at.

This is one of the reasons that Bush could say unequivocally that he would invade again. Because knowing what he knows now he would still want all of his cronies and people in a position to do his administration a favor to get richer at the expense of Iraqi and US citizens. This was never about "freedom and democracy." This was about getting Halliburton's hands on the oil money that was previously going to French and Russian companies under the UN oil for food program.

Now that they have pillaged the Iraqis for more than a billion dollars do you think they will be satisfied? I'm betting no.

Washington is for Lovers!

Not surprisingly, King County Superior Court Judge William Downing ruled today that Washington state's so-called defense of marriage act violates the state constitution.

In his words, "The Court concludes that the exclusion of same-sex partners from civil marriage and the privileges attendant thereto is not rationally related to any legitimate or compelling state interest and is certainly not narrowly tailored toward such an interest."

August 03, 2004

Where will they stop?

Not, apparently, at trying to justify--and revive--one of the worst spasms of paranoia and intolerance in America's history. That's right, from Michelle Malkin, we now have In Defense of Internment: The Case for Racial Profiling in World War II and the War on Terror. I am not making this shit up.

If you don't know Malkin, you can check out her blog, preferably on an empty stomach.

She's an established wingnut with impeccable credentials: Town Hall, Creators Syndicate, and Fox News. But I must say I'm shocked to see the idea of internment pop up as a serious suggestion for the war on terror.

From the book's PR materials:

Everything you've been taught about the World War II "internment camps" in America is wrong:
- They were not created primarily because of racism or wartime hysteria
- They did not target only those of Japanese descent
- They were not Nazi-style death camps

In her latest investigative tour-de-force, New York Times best-selling author Michelle Malkin sets the historical record straight-and debunks radical ethnic alarmists who distort history to undermine common-sense, national security profiling. The need for this myth-shattering book is vital. President Bush's opponents have attacked every homeland defense policy as tantamount to the "racist" and "unjustified" World War II internment. Bush's own transportation secretary, Norm Mineta, continues to milk his childhood experience at a relocation camp as an excuse to ban profiling at airports. Misguided guilt about the past continues to hamper our ability to prevent future terrorist attacks. In Defense of Internment shows that the detention of enemy aliens, and the mass evacuation and relocation of ethnic Japanese from the West Coast were not the result of irrational hatred or conspiratorial bigotry. This document-packed book highlights the vast amount of intelligence, including top-secret "MAGIC" messages, which revealed the Japanese espionage threat on the West Coast. Malkin also tells the truth about:
- who resided in enemy alien internment camps (nearly half were of European ancestry)
- what the West Coast relocation centers were really like (tens of thousands of ethnic Japanese were allowed to leave; hundreds voluntarily chose to move in)
- why the $1.65 billion federal reparations law for Japanese internees and evacuees was a bipartisan disaster
- and how both Japanese American and Arab/Muslim American leaders have united to undermine America's safety.

With trademark fearlessness, Malkin adds desperately needed perspective to the ongoing debate about the balance between civil liberties and national security. In Defense of Internment will outrage, enlighten, and radically change the way you view the past-and the present.

So really, these were country clubs for Japanese Americans. And Auschwitz was a fat camp, I suppose! This is really beyond the pale. I read first-hand accounts of the camps in college, and it's impossible to live in Seattle and not know the terrible stories of Japanese families who lost their homes and businesses--practically all of Pike Market was Japanese farmers when the war broke out.

There are some chapters in our history that must not be rewritten--this is one of them. I'm sure the Japanese community in Seattle will be protesting this book, and when they do I plan to be with them. This is out of self-interest, not just outrage-- if the government starts throwing people in camps again, you can be sure I'll open my fat mouth and say something that gets me tossed in with them.

Gulfs, Tonkin and Persian

Flawed intelligence, Texas-style politics, swift congressional action, patriotism, pre-approved military action—a piece done by Walter Conkrite that played yesterday on All Things Considered about the Gulf of Tonkin and the U.S. war against North Vietnam describes a situation that seems to have much in common with our recent activities in Iraq.

I caught part of the broadcast before heading in to the theater to see the new Manchurian Candidate, and just played the whole recording—the long, twenty-minute version—from NPR's web site. (I'm not sure what was cut to make the shorter version.) I recommend it. There's audio from Johnson, McNamara, and Oregon Senator Wayne Morse, whose comments in dissent with the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution were prescient for what was to follow (but not quickly enough to prevent him from being ousted and replaced by Bob Packwood).

Ich bin ein Schwingenwähler

I'd like a T-shirt right now that says the following:

Scratch my back

or maybe:

Ask me about my list of demands

August 02, 2004

John Edwards, Trial Lawyers, and McDonald's Coffee

With Edwards on the ticket serving as an easy shorthand for the Repub obsession with tort reform, this post on Daily Kos is a great rebuttal of the repeated attempts to make the "coffee in the lap" lawsuit look frivolous. Especially after seeing evidence of the company's perfidy in Super-size Me it's pretty easily to see how McDonald's got hit with the kind judgment it did. So next time somebody uses the example to butress their case, ask them if they think $800 is a decent offer of compensation for $200,000 worth of medical costs. Four words, friends: Skin grafts on groin.

Supreme court to decide election ... again?

Imagine the following scenario this coming November 2: the polls have closed, and the result is close. The networks have called Colorado for Bush, but there's only a few electoral college votes in the game. The nations fate hangs in the balance once again, with a result determined by a closely fought referendum in Colorado. Sound familiar?

A group of Colorado citizens have proposed a change to the state's constitution specifying that Colorado's nine electors be apportioned strictly in proportion to the popular vote. This proposal is likely to be voted on in November 2, and the outcome will affect the 2004 Presidential election. Should the Colorado voters approve it, then the presidential candidate elected in Colorato will receive just five or six electoral college votes, rather than the whole nine. (The loser in Colorado would receive the remainder of the electoral votes.) In a close race, this could make all the difference, and is likely to spark a Supreme Court review of the new Colorado electoral law.

Thanks to the votemaster at for giving us the heads-up on what could easily become the Florida of the 2004 election, and also for providing the new Electoral Vote predictor found on the right.


This would have been more timely last week, but I was on vacation...

Did anyone else watch the Daily Show last week after the convention? Covering the night that Al Sharpton (my favorite of the candidates) spoke, my man Jon shows a truly energized crowd responding to Sharpton. It looked like a great speech. (I missed it live, only seeing the clip.) Then he flashes to the media ripping it to shreds for no apparent reason. Then he shows Brian Williams saying something to this effect: "Wow, you just threw-away your planned speech. What were you scatting up there?" Yes, you read correctly, Brian Williams referrred to his speech as "SCATTING".

Now, we all see, hear and read things that appal us on a daily basis. Usually I get over it in a few minutes with only residual body tension (this began approximately November 2000), but this PISSES ME OFF. Even this whitey sees this as the most blatent of racist statements...

Things I Learned from the Flaming Pants

If you saw it driving around Seattle this weekend, odds are good that I was in it. But really, props go to two of my favorite people, Margot and Emily, who delivered the POFM to Seattle this weekend. We drove around handing out voter registration forms and flyers about the Bush administration’s doings.

Things I learned:

Just because someone drives a big-ass car, doesn’t mean they vote Republican. I’ve always thought that transportation choice was a highly political act, but hey, not everyone sees it that way. Huh.

The African-American population of our city REALLY HATES the President. Whew, there’s a LOT of bile there! Also, the taxi drivers, they don’t like him one bit. Dunno about where you live, but here lots of our taxi drivers are Indian and Somali. Hey, it adds up. Thank you Al Sharpton, here’s hoping you mobilized the African-American vote with that speech!

Even on the right wing, there’s pretty hefty disagreement with the GOP. A guy in a HUGE vehicle handed US a flyer about how rulers who claim they know what god wants are going straight to hell. Em said someone shouted at her, “I’m a Republican and I HATE BUSH!” And it went.

Political discourse, even dissenting, with the general public in our town is pretty civil. I can count on one hand the number of hostile remarks I heard – and still have fingers left over for the peace sign.

People in our neighborhood know how to share the love. Okay, I guess I knew that already. God, I love my neighborhood!

Hopefully, by the time you read this, I’ll have more pictures posted. But in the meantime, to learn about the Pants-on-Fire Mobile go here. And to read about our night out in the POFM, go here.

There are about 100 days until the election. Get out the vote!

"Straight Talk from the White House West"

We love Will Ferrell, and love ACT for their GOTV creativity.

August 01, 2004

One of the Problems with War

America is fond of calling a challenging, unfortunate situation a "war"—particularly the government is fond of doing this. I think this is so because it appears to demonstrate that the one making the pronouncement is serious about getting results and won't through lack of vigilance allow dangers or opportunities to slip by. Declaring war on something pleases both the hu-ah-he-men and the inflexibly certain in a way that "doing everything we can" or any deliberative approach will not.

It also changes the rules under which we're willing to live. That which we would not accept under (our belief about) normal circumstances is cooperatively or willfully given to assist in the war effort. The thresholds of acceptable levels of liberty and consumption (mostly the former, since the latter has such an effect on the corporate purse) drop, and we agree to it because of the war effort.

At least, that's what I think of when I think of the war on drugs or the war on terrorism. It's funny, though, to think about the attitudes in play in those two realities and how out of place they seem if one thinks about a war on illiteracy or a war on homelessness. There's just not enough aggression involved to get anyone worked up.

In Iraq, the U.S. is apparently focused on rehabilitating the country—into our model of rightness—and winning the hearts and minds of the residents into the same. What if we had the same level of dollars and attention flowing into our own distressed cities and peoples? At first, I thought this sounded great, but I'm not sure that it wouldn't feel like forcible indoctrination (though there shouldn't be much convincing required when it comes to food, clothing, and shelter).

I'm rambling now. But I started this post with the idea of linking to this story in the Seattle Times (from the Los Angeles Times) about a Chinese woman who was beaten up by an officer of Homeland Security. When I started reading the story, I was expecting that there would have been some suspicious activity, like she was seen moving quickly away from a wastebin after dropping into it a bulky package or she fit the description of the suspect in a recent mugging. None of that, no—the agent had thought she was associated with someone from whom they had just confiscated some marijuana.

"Pounds", the story notes later, but still—even a hundred pounds of that material is exceptionally unlikely to be involved in causing any deaths (especially if legalized), hampering public safety, or disrupting the institutions of government. We could wish that every terrorist sleeper cell gets turned on to some good weed and never quite gets around to doing that other thing. (You can bet that if their drug use ever attracted enough police attention for them to be raided, that the bomb-making equipment and photos of public spaces discovered in a closet would be reported as additional proof that drugs are bad and not as leftovers of some plan now lost in their quest for a better buzz.)

One last tangential thought: while I was cycling in the gym this morning, I saw Mayor Bloomberg talking about the alleged threats to various New York-based financial institutions. Listed among those was the IMF, which seems like a more specific target for opponents of U.S. hegemony than I've heard named before.