Tuesday, October 30, 2007

I hope no one got hurt

The man who is just a heartbeat away from the presidency went out for some R and R yesterday.
Vice President Dick Cheney spent about eight hours hunting Monday at a secluded Hudson Valley gun club where well-heeled enthusiasts shoot ducks and pheasants. It was Cheney's second visit to Clove Valley Rod & Gun Club in Dutchess County, about 70 miles north of New York City.

I hope the staff was careful to explain that he was allowed to shoot pheasants-with-an-H and that pheasant is a type of bird.

Even though no one was shot in the face, Cheney was unable to avoid problems.
Although a heavy police presence kept the media and curious local residents at a distance, Cheney's visit did stir up a bit of controversy when a New York Daily News photographer snapped a picture of a small Confederate flag hanging inside a garage on the hunt club property.

I almost feel sorry for Cheney. The poor man just wants to unwind by killing something tame and helpless that has been chased toward his gun and look what happens. His friends rudely put their faces where he is about to shoot or leave their true feelings about race and class out where reporters can report on them. He probably feels, like Andrew Jackson, that his friends aren't worth the powder to blow away, but given his record regarding gunpowder and his friends, that's not a sentiment that he should voice out loud.

The Confederate flag has managed to stir up yet another mini-brouhaha for Cheney. Al Sharpton's eminently bunchable panties are predictably in a bunch over the affair. He's demanding apologies and denouncements. Cheney is ignoring Sharpton. The next step in the dance is that right-wing talking heads, pundits, and bloggers will all rush to the defense of the Confederate flag (and perhaps Cheney), pointing out that the flag isn't just a symbol of racism, treason, and armed rebellion against the legal government of the United States; sometimes it's also a symbol of the owner's pride in his southern (New York) heritage. Besides, whenever liberals complain about the flag, it's only because they are all bi-coastal, big city, atheistic, media elites sneering at the common man. Cheney will decline to comment on the affair and Bush will never hear about it.

Isn't it about time for the War on ChristmasTM to start?

Friday, October 26, 2007

Home-grown terrorism?

No one is using that word yet, but it will be interesting to watch the reaction to this over the next few days.
Though more than two years apart, the pair of attacks were strikingly similar: Each involved two small explosive devices fashioned from novelty grenades, a Manhattan consulate targeted in the wee hours, and a mystery cyclist as the possible culprit.

The latest attack came early Friday when someone threw the grenades over the fence of the Mexican Consulate [in New York City] , shattering three windows, police said.

Like a near-identical attack that blew out a front window at the British Consulate in 2005, there were no injuries. There also was no obvious motive, though investigators were looking at evidence that suggested the two attacks were connected.

"It looks like two very similar instruments were used," Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said.

In both cases, the devices were fake grenades sometimes sold as novelty items. They were packed with black powder and detonated with fuses but incapable of causing serious harm, police said.

To my mind, the timing and targets of the two events make native American right-wing extremists the top suspects though, as I'll explain below, there is at least one reason to be cautious about jumping to conclusions.

My case against native American right-wingers is this: since 2003, the far right has been fanning the flames of anti-European xenophobia because of the non-support of Germany and France for Bush's war in Iraq. It doesn't matter that Britain has been the biggest supporter of the war, the language of the xenophobes has usually been indiscriminately aimed at "old Europe" in general. Furthermore, the bombs in 2005 were thrown on the eve of a British election when continuation of their participation in the war was being very vocally debated. Bombing the British consulate could be viewed by a dim-witted right-winger as punishing them for going weak on our war, or by a more Machiavellian right-winger, by expecting Islamic radicals to get the blame for the bomb, as renewing British motivation to "stay the course."

This morning's bombing is easier to understand. With CNN's Lou Dobbs dedicating the last two years of his show to warning us about the illegal immigrant threat to take our jobs, sell drugs to our kids, and give us all leprosy; with right-wing talk radio hopping on the anti-immigrant bandwagon; and with Republican candidates for offices high and low competing to pander to anti-immigrant sentiment, anti-immigrant violence has been on the rise. It's no surprise that someone would escalate the violence to explosives. Although legal and illegal immigrants come to the United States from every part of the world, anti-immigrant sentiment for the last half century always has ended up focused on Mexicans and other Central Americans.

My case so far has been that the timing and targets of the two bombings make it probable that the terrorist is a right wing nut going after the enemy du jour. However, both of these events need to be considered against the larger background of the post-9/11 paranoia that the administration has so shamelessly encouraged for political gain. While this mood has been particularly hard on Arabs, Muslims, and anyone who looks like they might be Arab or Muslim, it has encouraged a more general insularity and anti-foreigner feeling among those who consider themselves to be the besieged "real" Americans. There is also a possibility that the specific targets were more of a coincidence and that the bomber was merely aiming at any foreigners.

Somewhat related to that possibility is the possibility that the two might be unrelated or that they might be related in the mind of a person who defies simple categorization into conventional Left and Right. As the Reuters' article on the bombings points out, it is not entirely clear that the British consulate was the target of the 2005 bombs.
In May 2005, two home-made grenades exploded outside an office building whose tenants include the British Consulate and an executive linked to a company [Caterpillar Inc.] that has attracted protests for selling Israel bulldozers used to raze Palestinian homes.

If the target of that bombing was Caterpillar out of some kind of pro-Palestinian solidarity and if the two bombings were carried out by the same individual, then we might be dealing with someone who hates Israel and Mexico due to some kind of racial ideology (a Nazi would fit the bill). This is still right wing, but different than a talk-radio listener going after the current obsession of his favorite talker.

Finally, the bomber might just be a nut whose hatreds change from week to week according to a logic not accessible to anyone except himself and the voices.

In any case, this is terrorism and we should not be afraid to call it that. The FBI has no problem calling an environmentalist who vandalizes a construction site or car dealership a terrorist, why the timidity over someone who sets off bombs at foreign diplomatic missions?

Truthiness at FEMA

Although it's nice to see that radio drama is still alive, it's not nice to once again have this administration rub our noses in the contempt and fear that they feel for the American people and the institutions of democracy--in this case, government transparency and a free press.
FEMA has truly learned the lessons of Katrina. Even its handling of the media has improved dramatically. For example, as the California wildfires raged Tuesday, Vice Adm. Harvey E. Johnson, the deputy administrator, had a 1 p.m. news briefing.

Reporters were given only 15 minutes' notice of the briefing, making it unlikely many could show up at FEMA's Southwest D.C. offices.

They were given an 800 number to call in, though it was a "listen only" line, the notice said -- no questions.


No one asked about trailers with formaldehyde for those made homeless by the fires. And the media seemed to be giving Johnson all day to wax on and on about FEMA's greatness.

Of course, that could be because the questions were asked by FEMA staffers playing reporters.

That's right, rather than risk a real press conference with the real press asking real questions, FEMA chose to stage a press conference with their own employees respectfully pitching softball questions.

As Mark Hoofnagle points out, this is not a new low for the administration; it's a well tested form of deception for them. Mark remembers the case of Jeff Gannon, a gay hooker who was given a White House press pass so he could ask Ari Fleisher the questions he wanted to hear. My first thought wasn't of Gannon, but instead of the canned town hall meetings that the Bush reelection campaign staged in 2004. In those, crowds of hand picked supporters asked pre-screened "questions" of Bush. Those, at least, were campaign events and everyone expects a certain amount of staging and control on the election trail. Naturally, the campaign wants to show the candidate in the best light and avoid embarrassing confrontations with their opponents. The Gannon affair and the FEMA deception are in another category. These are taxpayer funded events that are held to provide us with information about the activities of our government. While FEMA and the White House press secretary can be expected to frame their answers and presentation in a way that make them look good, they do not have a right to engage in overt deception in order to do that. They should not hold a surprise "press" conference that excludes the real press and features questions from questioners whose very job security lies in satisfying the answerer.

Lies deception and theater are standard operating procedure for this administration. The American people deserve better, but they will only get it when they stand up and demand it.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Those mean Democrats

House Republicans are fuming over Democrats' decision to hold the next vote on the State Children's Health Insurance Program on Thursday -- when many Republicans will be in California as President Bush tours areas hit by wildfires.

"Five to seven members are going, all of whom would be 'no' votes, and [Democrats] know it," House Republican Whip Roy Blunt told CNN. "This is clearly designed to minimize the Republican opposition to this bill."

After years of late night votes, extended voting, frequent rewriting of the rules to get their way, the Republicans are shocked that the Democrats might announce well in advance that they are going to hold a vote on a bill the American people overwhelmingly want at a time that favors its passage. How dare they interrupt these lawmakers participation in an important presidential photo-op with the business of lawmaking! This kind of mean Democratic vote scheduling is just one step short of Hamas-trained eye-rolling.

And that important presidential photo-op went so well, too.
Rancho Bernardo residents began their journey back home with a surprise today.

They were stuck in traffic for two to three hours sitting in their cars at a standstill because of President Bush's visit to their community.

Police and the CHP had blocked off Interstate 15 ramps to West Bernardo Drive, which leads to the recovery center that was opened yesterday. Cars lined up for miles on the freeway.

The Republican House members claim that they need to be in California to help their constituents. That's a valid point but, as Glenn Beck has pointed out, there are also Democrats in Southern California. The need to get home to help their constituent, too. However, they don't feel that the most important way to do that is by providing a back drop for Bush's unconvincing efforts to look concerned about other people. They do it by actually meeting with constituents and by passing bills those constituents want. The Republicans might learn something if they whined less and worked more.

We were here first

New research indicates that the Neanderthals were pale skinned redheads. At least some of them were. This is just one more piece of evidence that supports my theory that the first people were Scots-Irish and that the rest of you are living on our planet due to our good nature and generous spirit.
Some Neanderthals may have had fair skin and red hair, giving them an appearance resembling modern Europeans, an international team of researchers said on Thursday.

The researchers homed in on the MC1R gene linked to hair and skin color and used DNA analysis to find a variation that produced the same kind of pigmentation changes as in humans with red hair and pale skin.

The study, published in the journal Science, comes a week after another set of researchers looking at a different gene said Neanderthals may have been capable of sophisticated speech.

See, sophisticated speech. That means they were redheads who could curse. Now all we need is evidence of whiskey, maudlin folk songs, or lumpy oatmeal to confirm that my people were here first.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Why God hates San Diego

With Jerry Falwell and James Kennedy having gone to be with Jesus, one of the more interesting questions for me about the San Diego fires has been which major evangelist would be the first to blame the victims for bringing down the wrath of God. My money was on Pat Robertson, but I was wrong. The correct answer is James Hartline, a local San Diegan and former gay with HIV who sees it as his calling to do battle the homosexual agenda in Southern California.
They shook their fists at God and said, “We don't care what God says, we will issue our legal brief to support gay marriage in San Diego!” Then Mayor Jerry Sanders mocked the Christian vote and signed off on this rebellious legal document to support same-sex marriage.

And then the streets of La Jolla under the Mt. Soledad Cross began to cave in.

They shook their fists at God and said, “We don't care what the Bible says, We want the California school children indoctrinated into homosexuality!” And then Governor Schwarzenegger signed into law the heinous SB777 which bans the use of “mom” and “dad” in the text books and promotes homosexuality to all school children in California.

And then the wildfires of Southern California engulfed the land like a raging judgment against the radicalized anti-christian California rebels.

How low will we go?

Why won't they listen?

Why won't they stop their madness? The Bible says that in the last days, the nations will rebel against God until He can't take it anymore. Was it all worth it? Were the few years of sexual immorality worth the eternal destruction and earthly chaos it brought? How low will we go?

Pam Spaulding, writing at Pandagon, has the poop on Hartline.

Since Hartline isn't really a national figure, Robertson still has a chance to get his shot in.

I'm number one and you are, too

David Ng at The World's Fair has created a great meme. He calls it the "I rank number one on Google" meme. The rules are much simpler than the last meme. Find five statements, which when typed into Google, will return your blog as the number one hit.

So far I have found four on archy but, taken together, I think they display such synergistic power that they are worth at least six and a third.
  1. "Nazi Yeti in flying saucers"
  2. "Nazi mammoth"
  3. "frozen mammoth penis"
  4. "nude photos of Ann Coulter"

As you can see, I run a classy and very intellectual blog.

I am rather cheesed to find out that I am not number one for "balloonosphere" since I invented that word.

So, dear friends, what search terms give you a number one?

Who cares?

Publicists for Michael Brown, the legendary "heck of a job Brownie," say that he is available for interviews regarding the San Diego fires. Fame must truly be a powerful addictive substance if it could make someone want to rush forward at a time like this and remind us of their previous infamy. He seems to want to make sure that his name is forever linked to disaster and failure. So far no one is taking him up on his offer.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The unfunny Mr. Beck

Glenn Beck thinks that this is funny, because some of those newly homeless might be America-hating liberals.
More than a half million people had been ordered from San Diego County homes Tuesday as wildfires rage from the Mexican border to north of Los Angeles.

Across Southern California, more than 1,300 homes had been reduced to ashes, officials said Tuesday.

About 1,000 homes have been destroyed in San Diego County alone.

A second civilian has died in the wildfires, the U.S. Forest Service said Tuesday afternoon. It provided no details.

Fears grew north of Los Angeles that the winds may fan three wildfires into one monster blaze, with too little resources available to fight it.

Those fires threaten more than 56,000 homes.

In San Diego County, at least 513,000 residents had been ordered to find refuge in shelters, schools and stadiums as fires pushed into new areas Tuesday.

Beck's supporters on the far right are playing the martyrdom card ("Waaaah! The bad liberals are trying to suppress our free speech."), but this kind of ugliness isn't a partisan issue. Even card carrying moderates and right of center folks are appalled at Beck this time.

I don't really care whether Beck issues a half hearted apology or whether this or that Republican politician distances his- or herself from Becks comments. That kind of theater is all part of the same game and means nothing. I want the people of America to notice what a jerk Beck is and treat him with the contempt he deserves. I don't want him off the air because a threatened boycott of his sponsors led CNN to fire him. I want him off the air because no one will listen to his hate-filled crap any longer.

No cigar for Huckabee

I've never understood why conservative Christians, who give so much mouth service to morality, character, and values, feel that lying, making things up, and misrepresentation is a valid way to advance their cause. Here's the latest data point on their rampant hypocrisy.
During the Republican debate, Mike Huckabee said he believes one of the defining issues facing the country is the sanctity of human life. Arguing that the issue is of historical importance, he invoked the Declaration of Independence's rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and said that most of the signers of the declaration were clergymen.

Not even close.

Only one of the 56 was an active clergyman, and that was John Witherspoon. Witherspoon was a Presbyterian minister and president of the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University).


We'd like to give Huckabee every benefit of the doubt, but even if you consider former clergymen among the signers the best you could come up with is four. Out of 56. That's not "most," that's Pants-on-Fire wrong.

This is the type of character and moral leadership that gets Chuck Norris' vote.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

More like this, please

Rep. Pete Stark, in this morning's House debate on the override vote on Bush's veto of S-CHIP:
First of all, I'm just amazed they can't figure out, the Republicans are worried we can't pay for insuring an additional 10 million children. They sure don't care about finding $200 billion to fight the illegal war in Iraq. Where ya gonna get that money? You going to tell us lies like you're telling us today? Is that how you're going to fund the war? You don't have money to fund the war or children. But you're going to spend it to blow up innocent people if we can get enough kids to grow old enough for you to send to Iraq to get their heads blown off for the President's amusement. This bill would provide healthcare for 10 million children and unlike the President's own kids, these children can't see a doctor or receive necessary care.

I am continually amused and appalled at the timidity of our leaders around the word "lie." They have no problem calling tens of millions of their fellow citizens traitors, anti-America, pro-murder, and other vile things, but they completely loose their nerve when it comes to calling one of their own club a liar. Instead they fall back on weak-kneed circumlocutions like "misled," "misstated," or "was deliberately untruthful." Americans like plain speaking, even when it's an act. Learn the words "lie," "lied," and "liar." We'll respect you for it.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

It gets worse

Apparently jealous of Michelle Malkin's appearance on Newsweek's "Conventional Wisdom Watch", Mark Hemingway of National Review Online has raised the stakes from attacking a twelve year-old to attacking a two year-old. After throwing a few more insults at the parents of Graeme Frost, Hemingway goes on to attack the parents of two year-old Bethany Wilkerson, who was born with a serious heart problem and has received desperately needed health insurance through the S-CHIP program. Hemingway hauls out one of the more revolting tools in the conservative framing kit, dividing the world into the deserving poor and the undeserving poor. Hemingway condemns Bethany's parents, "Dara and Brian Wilkerson are real poster children — for irresponsible decisions." "What irresponsible decisions?" you may ask. It appears that Dara Wilkerson quit a job that had insurance for one that didn't over three years before she became pregnant with Bethany.

I know, I know, you're saying to yourself, "what an unholy bitch! How dare she try to improve her position in life when there was a possibility that she might get pregnant some day? Her child doesn't deserve insurance!" Mark Hemingway agrees with you. While he makes a few token gestures to denying the implications of his arguments -- "The current debate [is not about] kicking the Frosts and the Wilkersons to the curb" -- the arguments speak loud and clear. The deserving poor are those who take what they get and don't make things difficult for their social betters.

At one time, a health emergency involving a child was the very definition of deserving poor for conservatives. That may have been true with yesterday's conservatives. At one time, we liberals joked that conservatives only cared about human lives in the womb and didn't give damn about them once they passed the cervix. That may have been a cheap shot with yesterday's conservatives. Today's conservatives are a different breed -- mean, ugly, dangerous breed.

Newsweek notices Michelle Malkin

M. Malkin [Down arrow]: Heartless right-wing blogger attacks 12-year-old brain-injury victim over insurance. Sick.

The right blogoshere's attempt to swiftboat a twelve year-old and his family is one of the low points of their whole sad history. While many on the right quickly realized that they had made a bad mistake and backed off or distanced themselves from the rest of the lynch mob, "Unhinged" Michelle Malkin wasn't one of them. She's decided to cling to this and make assaulting other people's kids her signature act.

For some background, start here and follow the links.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Already obsolete

Here's a useless factiod about the publishing business.
The Frankfurt Book Fair has an indicator to help publishers gauge public interest in the new offerings presented at the annual exhibition -- the unofficial "most stolen book" index.

Bild am Sonntag and Germany's ZDF television have come up with lists of titles most stolen from 15 leading German publishers' stands set up in the Frankfurt trade fair grounds.

"The most-stolen books are usually the most-sold later on," Claudia Hanssen of the Goldmann Verlag publishing house told Bild am Sonntag newspaper, which published a list of the 10 most stolen German-language books this year.

I say it's useless because, now that it's publicly known that such an indicator exists, someone is going to try to game the system. It's just a short matter of time before some publisher will start reporting its books stolen at the book fair in order to create media buzz. The more ambitious might even stage a few thefts.

When I worked in bookstores in Alaska, the most stolen books were not the most popular ones, although those were stolen too. The most stolen books were the ones people were uncomfortable being seen buying--pornography, certain categories of self-help, and The Anarchist Cookbook. Obviously, the reason for reluctance to be seen buying porn and self-help books is embarrassment. The Anarchist Cookbook was a different matter. Most Alaskans, in those days, weren't embarrassed to be thought of a drug-taking, bomb-making maniacs. If anything they were a bit proud of the image as part of our frontier heritage. The main reason The Anarchist Cookbook readers didn't want to pass the cash register was the paranoid, libertarian rumor that the government required bookstores to keep a list of anyone who bought the book. In those innocent, pre-Patriot Act days, bookstores didn't keep lists of our customers' reading habits. If the government wanted to know such things, they had faith in the microtransmitters that they planted in everyone's butt at birth to tell them about it.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Pharyngula mutating genre meme

I haven't done a meme in a while. Coturnix just sent me this one created by Pharyngula to demonstrate evolution in cyberspace. It's a little trickier than most. Here are the rules.
There are a set of questions below that are all of the form, "The best [subgenre] [medium] in [genre] is...". Copy the questions, and before answering them, you may modify them in a limited way, carrying out no more than two of these operations:

* You can leave them exactly as is.

* You can delete any one question.

* You can mutate either the genre, medium, or subgenre of any one question. For instance, you could change "The best time travel novel in SF/Fantasy is..." to "The best time travel novel in Westerns is...", or "The best time travel movie in SF/Fantasy is...", or "The best romance novel in SF/Fantasy is...".

* You can add a completely new question of your choice to the end of the list, as long as it is still in the form "The best [subgenre] [medium] in [genre] is...".

* You must have at least one question in your set, or you've gone extinct, and you must be able to answer it yourself, or you're not viable.

Then answer your possibly mutant set of questions. Please do include a link back to the blog you got them from, to simplify tracing the ancestry, and include these instructions.

Finally, pass it along to any number of your fellow bloggers. Remember, though, your success as a Darwinian replicator is going to be measured by the propagation of your variants, which is going to be a function of both the interest your well-honed questions generate and the number of successful attempts at reproducing them.

My great-great-grandparent is Pharyngula.
My great-grandparent is Metamagician and the Hellfire Club.
My grandparent is Flying Trilobite.
My parent is A Blog Around the Clock.

The best time travel novel in SF/Fantasy is: The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers.

The best scary movie in scientific dystopias is: Blade Runner.

The best sexy song in pop is: "Fever" as performed by Peggy Lee.

In order to keep mutation alive, I'm passing the meme on to:

Mustang Bobby
Martin Langeland
BadTux the meme-orific penguin
Bryan Dumka

Friday, October 12, 2007

Our humor impaired minority party

This looks like a major of American and International copyright laws as well as a possible misuse of committee resources. Right now it's up on the Republican page for the House Energy and Commerce Committee. I'm printing the whole thing here, because I suspect this thing will be gone by Monday.

The text, in case you can't read it, says:
Republican Senate hopeful Montgomery Burns today joined with Mayor Joe Quimby, D-Springfield, to support the Senate’s gazillion-dollar SCHIP bill.

"If the poor children can get a piece of the action, why can’t I?" explained Burns at a MoveOn.org rally in Capital City. "The little darlings are needy? Me, too. I need somebody to pay. Quimby here says he knows a bunch of low-income nobodies who are ripe for the picking. Excellent."

"You need this?" wondered the mayor. "Well, why not. I’ve got needs, too. Why, I’ve got 27 paternity suits pending and to quote the Speaker, 'suffer the little children.' The Quimby Compound is overflowing with those little sufferers. Vote Quimby."

Inexplicably, the mayor then leaned toward a comely MoveOn organizer and whispered in her ear, "Ah, if anyone asks, you’re my niece from out of town and you don’t get SCHIP."

“But Uncle Joe, I am your niece from out of town, and I do get SCHIP."

"Good Lord, I’m a monster!" exclaimed the mayor.

Mr. Burns shrugged and pressed on with a stirring call to arms: "Truth and fairness, these are the demons we must slay if we wish to save the tykes."

His patience was tested when a ruckus arose from a restive crowd of backdrop-toddlers who’d been rented by MoveOn for the photo-op. "Get these props away from me," Burns hissed.

"Kids? Who needs ‘em? Rahm, release the hounds!" added Quimby with a spreading grin. "Ha, I’ve always wanted to say that, Burns."

The 37 rental children fled and were not seen again, but the arf-arf-arfing of their pursuers could be heard well past sunset.

I'm sure some college aged staffer thinks he (I would be very surprised if it was a she) was very clever coming up with this. It was actually sent out as a press release as well as being posted on the committee's website. I have often said that conservative humor is no laughing matter. This is one more data point to prove that. Besides not being funny, it makes no sense.

How many things are wrong with this?
  • Did the Republican staffer who wrote this really think claiming Mr. Burns as a Republican candidate would reflect well on their party?
  • Did they think that just because The Simpsons runs on a Fox channel that they could appropriate Groening's trademarked and copyrighted characters for the Republican cause?
  • Why did the Republicans of the House Energy and Commerce Committee feel they needed to weigh in on this issue anyway?
  • Is this press release supposed to speak for the four Republican members of that committee who voted for the S-CHIP amendment--Fred Upton (MI), Heather Wilson (NM), Mary Bono (CA), and Tim Murphy (PA)?
  • Do the staffers start drinking early on Fridays after their bosses leave for the weekend


Via Mustang Bobby, we discover this warning from Bill O'Reilly about the horrible consequences of voting for John Edwards.
Remember, no coerced interrogation, civilian lawyers in courts for captured overseas terrorists, no branding the Iranian guards terrorists, and no phone surveillance without a specific warrant.

That's nice summary of the current divide in American politics. O'Reilly and the Fox News viewers think having a President who actually preserves, protects, and defends the Constitution of the United States is a bad thing. We shrill, deranged lefty bloggers think that kind of President would be a good thing. It really is as simple as that.

Al Gore laughs last

I awoke this morning to a distant popping sound that, for some reason, made me happy. It took a while for me to take care of my morning toiletries and boot up the computer before I could discover the source of that curious sound. Al Gore has won the Nobel Peace Prize and all over America conservative heads are exploding. I'm sure that in certain circles this will be seen as a call to fire up the slime machine to go after Gore, Europe, the king of Sweden, intellectuals, and anyone who gets their facts from real scientists instead of corporate hacks. Let them rant. Today is Gore's day and no amount of noise will spoil it for him. Way to go, big guy.

Update: If you want to really relish your schadenfreude (and who doesn't), Tim Lambert has some quotes from the exploding heads.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Did I miss anything?

Clever Wife and I have been sick for the last week and i haven't felt much like blogging. Most days I skip around a few of my favorite sites, groan, and go back to bed. There has been plenty to groan about. But then, there is always plenty to groan about. Today, I'm feeling a little more human. I had an employment nibble and our Tai Chi class is tonight, so things are looking up. Let's take a look at a few of the groanable things that I might have written about had I better resembled a human this last week.

The most offensive act in the political sphere has been the effort of the right blogosphere to slime a twelve year-old boy, Graeme Frost (here, here, here, http://www.sadlyno.com/archives/7460.html,and here among others). Having stalked and slandered his family, Michelle Malkin ran away in fear from an honest debate with an adult blogger on the issue. That's no surprise; she has a history of running from debate. Meanwhile, the staff of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) tried to get the mainstream press to jump aboard the slime train.

The usual annoying talking heads were annoying all week in their usual annoying ways. Ann Coulter justified her anti-Semitism. John Gibson had no apologies for his racism. Chris Matthews' creepy misogyny and man-crushes continue unabated. Religious bigot, Glen Beck revealed that he thinks Law & Order is a documentary. Bill O'Reilly remains... well, himself.

The 50th anniversary of the launch of Sputnik came and went. Naturally, the science bloggers had a lot to say about one of the most important science events of the last century (collected here). Hillary Clinton used the occasion to give an important speech on science policy. Of course, some conservative bloggers could only be offended that anyone would dare celebrate a Commie accomplishment.

Everyone had a good laugh at the expense of a conservative minister in Alabama done in by his love of latex and illegal sex toys.

Department of Justice lawyers discovered the terrible burden that middle class white people suffer by outliving the poor and non-white.

The entire Alaskan congressional delegation remain a bunch of corrupt fools.

And so on.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

"This government does not torture people"

Yesterday, President Bush clarified his administration's position interrogating terrorism suspects, insisting, "This government does not torture people." He went on to say, "When we find somebody who may have information regarding a potential attack on America, you bet we're going to detain them and you bet we're going to question them. But we draw a line at torture. What you gotta understand is that the bureaucracy isn't the right place for torture. If we let them do that, then we'd have a situation where torture was socialized. That's not how we do it in America. Torture is best left to the private sector, like our friends at Blackwater and those guys at the mall who sell the giant pretzels. I am not a crook."

Friday, October 05, 2007

Europeans resist an American disease

This is good news:
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe condemned efforts to teach creationism in schools Thursday in a vote that underlined concern about the rise of a new socially conservative agenda in several countries.

Members of the assembly, which monitors human rights, approved 48 to 25 a report that attacked advocates of creationism for seeking "to impose religious dogma" and to promote "a radical return to the past" at the expense of children's education.


The report said that creationism, which denies or qualifies the theory of evolution, was "an almost exclusively American phenomenon" but that such ideas were "tending to find their way into Europe" and affect several of the 47 Council of Europe countries.

It added that denying pupils knowledge of theories like evolution was "totally against children's educational interests" and that creationists supported "a radical return to the past which could prove particularly harmful in the long term for all our societies."

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) is not the same as the Parliament of the European Union. PACE is a human rights watchdog with members from all 47 European countries. It's resolutions are non-binding, but influential.

Creationism has been becoming more and more visible in Europe over the last few years. American-style Protestant creationism and its spin-off, Intelligent Design, has established itself firmly in Britain and is working its way in to the Netherlands. Earlier this year, the Turkish Muslim writer Harun Yahya (pen name for Adnan Oktar) bombarded schools in France and Spain with his book The Atlas of Creation. In Eastern Europe, social conservatives, backed by the newly militant churches have adopted creationism as an article of faith (thus imitating Ameican fundamentalists). Russia, Poland, and Serbia have all seen increasing attacks on evolution by the official churches and their political supporters. The reactionary head of Northern Ireland's Unionists, Ian Paisley, last month pushed for creationism to be taught in the province's science classes.

This resolution will not reverse those trends, but it is good that an influential body has taken a stand. What's interesting about the PACE resolution is that it explicitly ties accurate science education to human rights: "[T]he Parliamentary Assembly is worried about the possible ill-effect of the spread of creationist ideas within our education systems and about the consequences for our democracies. If we are not careful, creationism could become a threat to human rights." They are clearly making a connection between the push to force creationism into science classes and a broader assault on broader secular society and Enlightenment values. It's an interpretation that I agree with, so I hope the resolution is heard and heeded.

It's a shame we don't have more political leaders in this country willing to speak the truth on this issue.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Suffer the little children

As promised, Bush just vetoed the bipartisan bill to provide health coverage to millions of poorer American children. Bush has justified his veto entirely by claiming the State Children's Health Insurance Program, or SCHIP, be better at providing affordable heath care than the current bloated bureaucracy of insurance companies and HMOs. The inefficiency of these corporations must be protected at all costs. What are a few sick or dead kids compared to profits for the corporate shareholders? This is the values president at his finest.

No nude photos of Ann Coulter here

Looking at my site statistics a few minutes ago, I noticed an uptick in people coming to this site on some variation of the search terms "nude photos of Ann Coulter." That can only mean one thing, the news directors of America have lost their collective senses and are once again letting that silly, self-promoting performance artist clutter our air waves. And, ckecking Google News, I confirmed my suspicions: Ann is on a book tour. Last night she was on Hannity & Colmes defending the use of ethnic slurs for Arabs ("they started it").

For all of the College Republicans who have come here hoping to view the unadorned body of a woman old enough to be their mother, I'll repeat my policy. I don't have any pictures of Ann Coulter nude and I would not publish nude photos of Ann Coulter even if I did have them. Although I know that even the rumor that I have nude photos of Ann Coulter might be a boon to site traffic, I would never be so crass as to take advantage of that by repeating the phrases "nude photos of Ann Coulter" or "Ann Coulter nude." That would be wrong.