Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The Truth (With Jokes); Chapter One

Chapter One of The Truth (With Jokes) -- see my sidebar for Amazon.com ordering button.

I'm not going to tell you what's in chapter one, other than that it's a recounting of Al Franken's experiences on November 2, 2004. Remember that night? It was made all the more terrible because positive signs had been emerging the previous two months and I was just beginning to have hope for my country again. Then John Kerry lost.

I'm having a difficult time getting through the first chapter.

Not that it's not typical Al Franken funny. Maybe it's not, I can't judge. Memories keep surfacing which significantly dull the funny.

My Chapter One of The Truth (With Jokes)

That day, my husband and I lived in Florida still, but had cast absentee ballots since we were visiting our families along the front range. That day, we were in Cheyenne, where everyone besides my husband and I were strong Bush supporters. Someone was going to be crestfallen and bitter that day, so we had planned in advance with my parents to either ask that the TVs be off, or we would be out during the evening when the returns were coming in.

We had gone out during the day, probably to a movie or the Wyoming State Museum. When we came back, my mom said that it looked like John Kerry was going to win. I tried not to show my pleasure, not wanting to gloat or to jinx the outcome, and said "you never know, it's still early." The TV was on, and my brother was showing no inclination to turn it off, so my husband and I decided to go out drinking.

We started at Sanford's Pub & Grub, which was the Medicine Bow Brewery when we were dating in the 90s (Vedauwoo Wheat, anyone?). Of course the TVs were on, but there was more ability to ignore them. Then to CB&Potts. More TVs. Huge TVs that covered the walls and were very loud. Not even NTN to distract, since they got rid of NTN. And things were starting to look not good for Kerry.

Next we went to the Snake River Pub & Grill, a restaurant at one end of Cheyenne's lovely historic train Depot. The menu board near the entrance featured a Bush burger and a Kerry burger, two burgers with different toppings that people could order to reflect their support for a presidential candidate. I think it was a fundamentally flawed measurement, since the Bush burger had better toppings (how many people like blue cheese on their burger? You have to be in a specific mood). The Bush burger was just barely ahead.

Again with the TVs. But there were drinks to try, and trains kept rolling by to distract. However, I couldn't help but periodically glance at the TVs and notice that the early exit polls were turning out to be very wrong. And I knew, I just knew, that we would have another four years of President McStupid. Slightly inebriated and totally invested in a Kerry win, I actually started to cry in public. It took a few minutes, but I managed to get the silent tears under control. When we left, I still couldn't bear to go to my parents', so we went to the lounge at the Hitchingpost Inn.

Now that's what I call a lounge. Dark ambience, flickering candles, red lights, and booths with semi-circular bench seats, the kind a goodfella sits at on "girlfriend night," but with a western flare and no Bobby Vinton.

How a Stripper, a Cowboy, an Englishman, a Country Rap, and Lots and Lots of Liquor Saved the Day

I was glad that it was dark, in case I started crying again. The best I could hope to do was to hide, deny, and numb the pain. We snuggled up next to each other in the booth, my husband's comforting arm around me, and I drank vodka & tonic after vodka & tonic until I started to notice something sublime. I was surrounded by absurdities.

Of course the lounge itself was the first absurdity, as classically smarmy as it was. A great place for sadly, pathetically drunken people to meet when they're past their prime. Since I didn't see any sadly, pathetically drunken people elsewhere, I guess it must have been my husband and I. At least we fit in.

There was a drunk stripper having drinks with a young man at the bar. He was quietly pawing her without her seeming to notice while she was having the type of loud conversation with another drunk sitting on her other side that you would expect a drunk stripper to have; unselfconscious, matter-of-factly tawdry, yet titillating complaints and stories about work. That was the center ring until she decided it was time to stagger into the parking lot with her escort. We can only guess their ultimate destination.

Next I noticed the very drunk cowboy (in shearling coat, hat, and boots) having a discussion with a drunk Englishman (he sounded like he was from northern England) about politics. The difference between the queen and a president; the commonwealth; experiences as a soldier in Northern Ireland. They were faced away from me at the bar, so I only got snippets.

Then a country rap song came on, and I was giddy with delight. In 2001, people were making fun of the notion of country rap, compiling amusing lists: My Wife is Phatt and My Kidz are Stoopid!; Gettin' Jiggy with My Piggy; Crop Killa. In 2004, it had become a reality. Rather than such a song being a sign of impending doom for humanity, it let me know that somehow (mainly with mood-enhancers and a fine appreciation for absurdity), our country would make it through the next four years. I giggled out loud till it was over, sighed resignedly, and accepted the night's outcome.

Special Thanks

To Cowboy Troy (or whoever he was; I don't listen to that crap) for pushing the absurdity to new undreamt-of heights.

To Vodka Tonics. Lots and lots of Vodka Tonics with little plastic swords impaling lime wedges. They don't even have to be well-mixed.

To colorful drunken characters in lounges with ambience.

To the Hithchingpost Inn, for being my snakepit. (The idea is, if you put a sane person in a snakepit, they will go insane; if you put an insane person in a snakepit, they will become sane)

And an extra special "Praise Jesus' General" to Jesus' General, who puts the past several years into the proper perspective, keeping us all laughing at the absurdity rather than imploding.

New Terms in Wingnut Debate Dictionary

Wingnut Debate Dictionary

Argumentum Ad O'Reilly (n.) - A complex argument wherein most parts or every part is a different type of fallacy. (Julie O.)

Tauntology (n.) - an argument based entirely on taunts which also is technically meaningless and reveals nothing about the world. Used extensively by Christopher Hitchens. example: MICHAEL MOORE, YOU'RE A FASCIST JERK! LOOK AT ME, I KNOW SOME KURDS! (David Rees)

Monday, November 28, 2005

A Fun New Video

Safe for work, safe for the kids.

Jay Marvin's Fretard Repellent

Jay Marvin has a great strategy for dealing with rightwing callers. He doesn't let them throw out meaningless epithets or assertions and then move on to other points, but immediately challenges them to back up what they say, and will not let it go.

This morning on Jay Marvin's show (while he was also filling in for Jerry Springer), a curmudgeon called in from Cheyenne. He said it was blowing like a bat out of you know where up there (I was at my parents' house up there yesterday, when the thermostat said it was 20 degrees and the wind was gusting hard while I was running back and forth between the house and the garage to pack leftover Thanksgiving food and luggage in the car), which was the only true thing he said. He's sick of the liberal commie pinkos like Jay and Jerry. That's as far as he got. If he had another point, we may never know what it was.

That's because Jay demanded to know what it was that he or Jerry have said that was in line with Marxist-Leninist thought, Stalin, Kim Jong-Il, Mao, or any of the real communists. In the face of an actual informed discussion of communism, the caller's only response was "Now you're getting elitist on me." I kid you not. Being asked to have a rudimentary knowledge of the terms one uses is "elitist." (I roared with laughter at that one).

Jay called it exactly right. The guy was an ignorant bully and a "red-baiting coward." The assertion that the Left are commies or communist sympathizers is still all too common in some quarters. My mom still calls the Left Communist-Socialists, making no distinction between the two, not understanding what the two political philosophies mean, or recognizing the fact that, though the Left wants limited socialism (as do most of the American electorate, regardless of political affiliation), the vast majority of the American Left are capitalists. We could more accurately be called Social Democrats, which makes us neither communists nor socialists, nor a party striving to be either communists or socialists.

I can't speak for all on the Left, but I think this pretty much sums up our political philosophy

Views of Social Democrats today
In general, contemporary Social Democrats support:

Jay Marvin's strategy is one that should be adopted by everyone. Whenever a term that has "special meaning" to the Right is thrown into a discussion, the user must be challenged to discuss the actual meaning and applicability of that term, ending any further discussion until the issue is addressed.

A few other meaningless epithets lobbed at the Left to be defined and substantively discussed:
Liberal activist judges
Lack of support for the troops

"Like muh Mama always said, them dudes what wrote the Constitution created a restrictive concept of the crime of treason so that ordinary partisan divisions within political society would not be escalated by the stronger into capital charges of treason."

Friday, November 25, 2005

Murtha Voted "No": Update

The three aye votes for Rep. Murtha's resolution to immediately remove troops from Iraq were from Cynthia McKinney (D-GA), Jose Serrano (D-NY), and Robert Wexler (D-FL).

Murtha voted "no" on his own resolution. Yeah, it was a symbolic resolution, but why wouldn't he vote for it?

Update: Thanks to Chris Coleman in comments, it now makes perfect sense why Murtha voted "no" on his own resolution -- it wasn't really his resolution (via DailyKos). The GOP pared it down.

Update 2: I keep (rightly) getting corrected on the facts of this situation, and may my experience serve as an example of how people who are living their lives and not obsessively combing the internet for political information get bamboozled into thinking the wrong things. The words we use are important.

Rep. Murtha did not offer an amendment to withdraw troops from Iraq immediately, and the GOP offered their own resolution, rather than "paring down" Murtha's.
While it isn't clear whether or not Murtha was an independent contractor in launching his broadside attack, or just the canary in the mine for the Democrat caucus in the House, testing the to see whether there might be support for a rapidly-phased withdrawal, it is clear that Murtha's announcement caught a number of folks by surprise, mostly the members of his own party. Not, however, the members of the majority, who quickly figured out a way to relegate Murtha's proposal to parliamentary oblivion. Murtha's resolution was quickly referred to a committee so it couldn't be promptly considered or voted on by the House.

But the republicans' simultaneously presented their own version of the Murtha resolution, considerably abbreviated from the one Murtha submitted, and notably lacking the qualifying language “at the earliest practicable date,” of Murtha's resolution, substituting instead the word “immediately.” Here's what the GOP resolution says:

Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the deployment of United States forces in Iraq be terminated immediately.

This resolution was submitted by Rep. Duncan Hunter, the powerful chairman of the House Armed Services Committee...


Murtha's resolution reflected the reasoning that had already been expressed by military intelligence experts for prompt withdrawal, and also served to further debunk the notion that withdrawal should be conditioned on the state of preparedness of the Iraqi army, an illusory goal, according to the authoritative
piece by James Fallows in the December issue of The Atlantic Monthly


But the Republicans couldn't be bothered with such details. They wanted to put the question, down and dirty, to the House, knowing that, reworded as it was, there was no way their resolution would pass, and even more importantly, that they could avoid a debate on the war that wasn't based on phony jingo-patriotism (the American equivalent of “Islamo-fascism”), which is precisely what the “debate” that ensued on the House floor degenerated into.

In other words, the Republicans really weren't interested in debating the wisdom of a withdrawal on the terms, or for the reasons, Murtha suggested; they wanted to rub Murtha's face in the very idea of withdrawing troops at all, in essence saying to the Democrats, “so you want withdrawal, do you; well, we'll give you withdrawal,” or as Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee put it:

Since they [Democrats] have been wanting it [debate], we're going to have it. They're going to take the heat and take the debate.

The same resolution which shoved Murtha's resolution off the House agenda also placed the substitute resolution on that agenda for immediate debate, without the necessity for committee action, one of the privileges of majority rule. The Democrats, realizing they had been outflanked, vociferously protested the substitution of the Republican resolution for Murtha's. “Give us a real debate, don't bring this piece of garbage to the floor,” said Rep. James McGovern of Massachusetts.

The best part
And, of course, the flashpoint of the debate came when Rep. Jean Schmidt (they don't call her “mean Jean” for nothing) made her now-infamous statement accusing Murtha of being a cut and run coward. Which, to his credit, caused my congressman, Harold Ford, Jr., according to the account in the New York Times, to “charge across the chamber's center aisle to the Republican side screaming that Ms. Schmidt's attack had been unwarranted.” Unwarranted! Not exactly “give me liberty or give me death,” but a fighting word nonetheless.

A different account of Ford's outburst appeared in the Washington Times: "Say it to Murtha," Mr. Ford supposedly shouted at Rep. Tancredo while he [Ford] was being restrained by other members. Ford also, by some accounts, supposedly menacingly jabbed a finger at Tancredo during their confrontation, coming dangerously close to kicking some Republican butt (now, that would have been worth the price of basic cable C-Span).
[emphasis added]

Via Get Rid of the DLC.

Michael Brown, Consulting Disaster

Michael Brown is starting a consulting firm in Boulder. He's going to consult clients on disaster preparedness. No, really.

But of course it makes sense. If you want a consultant on security, you hire an ex-criminal. If you want a consultant on disaster preparedness, you hire an ex-disaster.

And we get some insight into what he will tell his clients
He also said he had been planning to quit before the hurricane hit.

Make sure your heart is in it.

The most touching part
''I'm doing a lot of good work with some great clients,'' Brown said. ''My wife,
children and my grandchild still love me. My parents are still proud of me.''

We are too, Michael, in a Special Olympics kind of way.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

A Humanist Thanksgiving Proclamation

By Robert Ingersoll

When I became convinced that the universe is natural--that all the ghosts and gods are myths, there entered into my brain, into my soul, into every drop of my blood, the sense, the feeling, the joy of freedom.

The walls of my prison crumbled and fell, the dungeon was flooded with light and all the bolts and bars and manacles became dust. I was no longer a servant, a serf or a slave. There was for me no master in all the world--not even infinite space.

I was free--free to think, to express my thoughts--free to live my own ideal--free to live for myself and those I loved--free to use all my faculties, all my senses, free to spread imagination’s wings--free to investigate, to guess and dream and hope--free to judge and determine for myself--free to reject all ignorant and cruel creeds, all the “inspired” books that savages have produced, and all the barbarous legends of the past--free from popes and priests, free from all the “called” and “set apart”--free from sanctified mistakes and “holy” lies--free from the winged monsters of the night--free from devils, ghosts and gods.

For the first time I was free. There were no prohibited places in all the realms of thought--no air, no space, where fancy could not spread her painted wings--no claims for my limbs--no lashes for my back--no fires for my flesh--no following another’s steps--no need to bow, or cringe, or crawl, or utter lying words. I was free. I stood erect and fearlessly, joyously, faced all worlds.

And then my heart was filled with gratitude, with thankfulness, and went out in love to all the heroes, the thinkers, who gave their lives for the liberty of hand and brain--for the freedom of labor and thought--to those who fell on the fierce fields of war, to those who died in dungeons bound with chains--to those who proudly mounted scaffold’s stairs--to those by fire consumed--to all the wise, the good, the brave of every land, whose thoughts and deeds have given freedom to the sons [and daughters] of men [and women]. And then I vowed to grasp the torch that they have held, and hold it high, that light may conquer darkness still.

[edited to add link that I couldn't insert using borrowed computer]

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

"Iraq Safety", A Media Security Company

EX-CNN News boss Eason Jordan — ousted earlier this year after controversial remarks suggesting journalists killed in Iraq may have been targeted by the military — is hoping to leverage his years of experience working in war zones by launching a new security company, On The Money has learned.

Jordan has already lined up at least two bigwigs — CNN founder Ted Turner and ex-presidential candidate Gen. Wesley Clark — to sit on the board of his new company, according to a well-placed source.

The company is being called Iraq Safety, and aims to hire security types and journalists with experience covering wars to provide logistical and consultation services to companies operating in war zones, the source

Let's hope he has to change the name of his company soon.
(via Newsblues -- subsc. req.)

Monday, November 21, 2005

Serene Slaughter

My email at theygetletters@hotmail.com is up and running again. I only got three emails in the time that it was down, and one of them was about a book detailing the early 20th century massacre of striking miners at the Columbine coal mine in Serene, Colorado, from co-editor/author Richard Myers.

I didn't know anything about it, as I'm not a native, but I'm always interested in learning of the history of my adopted state, so that, like the history of my native state California, I can forget it all over the next 15 years.

There will be a book signing with the authors (Richard Myers, Professor Eric Margolis, and historians Joanna Sampson and Phil Goodstein) as well as surviving strikers.

Saturday, December 3 at the Mercury Cafe, 2199 California in Denver, from 5:30 to 7 pm.

The book also claims a positive review by Howard Zinn, author of A People's History of the United States, which was the text of my first history class in college, and the first time I enjoyed reading about history outside of a historical romance novel.

And for the commie symps who heart the worker (or those who heart a museum) there was a link to Bread and Roses, an organization that has opened a museum in Denver to celebrate the culture of the working class
Practically, we want to be a magnet for working class art and cultural forms that embody a feeling of solidarity, and a mirror that helps working folks feel good about themselves and their work.

The museum's at 2641 River Drive (above P&L Printing, 2298 Clay Street just north of Mile High Stadium in Denver).

Windsource in Denver for Cheap, If You Can Get It

Rash Nussel at Midnight Aloft has the lowdown on getting wind energy for your home in Denver, cheaper than gas.

There's a waiting list. I would hope that enough demand would increase supply.

Denver Three's Ouster Identified? ACLU Filed Suit

If you recall, in March of this year three people who wanted to listen to Bush lie about Social Security were kicked out of the event by someone who seemed rather Secret Servicy (and who they said was identified by a third party as being SS, though he wasn't actually SS) for having driven to the event in a car with a "No More Blood for Oil" bumper sticker.

The White House and Secret Service both knew the identity of the man, but refused to name him. The ACLU thinks they found him, though, and have filed suit
The suit identifies the man who ejected them as Michael Casper, a building manager in the General Services Administration in Denver. Casper has worked as a volunteer at several White House events since 1996.

He denies he's the man, though he
made jokes about it and, for some time, avoided being seen and identified by the three.

He has been reported in the media as saying the three were asked to leave "because they were picked out by about 50 people inside the event as being troublemakers." He was quoted as saying he was told "they regularly come to events and disrupt them." He also said they had been heard talking about protesting as they stood in line. The three have denied saying anything of the kind.

He sure knew alot about the Denver Three's alleged activities on that day, though he wasn't involved in kicking them out.

I had previously suggested that the Three sue the White House, since the Ouster was acting as an agent (not SS agent) for the White House. Like the DA my family member is having trouble with, the government can claim immunity from civil action. But not necessarily individuals
The suit is being filed not against the White House, which could claim governmental immunity, but against the individuals involved. They include Casper, Jay Bob Klinkerman - the head of the Colorado Federation of Young Republicans who has admitted to stopping Weise and Bauer at the gate - and five unknown persons involved in the decision to eject the trio. The ACLU hopes to identify them later.
"Casper had an earpiece," said Mark Silverstein, legal director of the Denver ACLU office. "It appeared that he let them in, and then he came back and said, 'You can't be here.' "

"We're going to follow the earpiece," Silverstein said. The lawsuit will be used to discover who gave orders to Casper and "who set the policies, who directed that people who appear to have viewpoints in opposition to the president couldn't attend a publicly funded town hall meeting."

There Are Just Times You Don't Want to Blog

I've been only moderately more busy over the past three days, but I just didn't want to even go near the computer, except to watch video excerpts on iTunes. My son wanted me to purchase "Around the World" by Daft Punk, and has to watch it at least once a day.

But at least the windows and screens are clean and most of the Christmas decorations are up so they'll be there when we get back from the long weekend at Grandparents' houses on Sunday.

And I got caught up on the new batch of legal troubles a certain member of my family is in. If it gets more interesting, I'll blog on it anonymously. It could involve suing a DA civilly for malicious prosecution and violation of civil rights in both state and federal court (the DA swore to having personal knowledge of facts from 4 years ago for an arrest warrant, facts which he could not have known personally, thus piercing the absolute immunity prosecutors enjoy. And he took the case which had been previously dismissed for lack of evidence back into the courtroom, despite having no new evidence and a witness who has since moved out of state).

The soap opera will never end.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Murtha and the Beltway Bitches

Americablog says
This is incredibly stupid of the Republicans. They just gave Murtha a half hour of prime time to savage them and, as Rob said, define the debate on our terms on our issue.

Obviously the Republicans think the old lie, "Democrats are weak and don't support the military" is so ingrained in America's psyche that they can just parade a bunch of war veterans on TV to call "some on the other side" names like "peacenik," remind us of the anti-Vietnam protests, and point out that some in the military support the war.

Obviously, the Democrats in the House agree, since only three of them voted "aye" on the resolution.

And despite an overwhelming voice vote against the resolution (I couldn't even hear anyone say "aye"), the Republicans called for a recorded vote. This will be used in many campaigns next year: "Congressman so and so criticizes the president's job on the war in Iraq, but voted to support it...twice."

So was Murtha the stupid one to push this into open debate and recorded vote, knowing nearly no one in the entire House was backing him, giving the Republicans another opportunity to insinuate all Dems are cowards, traitors, and objectively pro-terrorist?

If the old lie were true; if the president had support for his leadership; if the Republicans weren't porking the country and committing so many indictable crimes; if Americans actually thought we were accomplishing much in Iraq; then it would have been stupid -- principled and right, but stupid.

However, none of that is the case. No one's buying that bullshit anymore. Enough talk, posturing, empty rhetoric. Show us something, or STFU. (I was channeling the average American there)

Instead, the Dems missed a grand opportunity to be an opposition party, send a message to the president and Republicans that they are standing up for our troops, America, principle, and sanity; they're not going to be cowed by dishonest insinuations anymore. Put them on notice -- we're coming to get you where you live.

But they just sat there like Beltway Bitches, nodding and clapping, saying "Uh huh, that's right," and then voting to "stay the course." They are pwned.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

It's All in the Name

Names do have power. Anything terrible can become palatable if it doesn't have a name associated with bad things. French fries become freedom fries; Napalm becomes White Phosphorous; Terrorists become Freedom Fighters; the "Bridge to Nowhere" becomes "nameless road and bridge project in Alaska."

It's sometimes fun for Democrats to play that game, too.
Lautenberg filed an amendment to change the official name of the "Deficit Reduction Omnibus Reconciliation Act 2005" to the "Moral Disaster of Monumental Proportion Reconciliation Act."

Mark Udall's Sense of Humor

Does he have one, or does his tongue-in-cheek not come across in print?
Udall and Colorado's 2nd Congressional District are part of [Stephen] Colbert's series Better Know Your District.

"I've climbed Mount Everest, trekked across Utah's desert lands, and even suffered through amoebic dysentery," Udall said in a statement released by his office.

"I can say unequivocally that interviewing with Stephen Colbert was the worst experience of my life. Now, having said that, I wouldn't necessarily say he is Mount Everest. He's more like Mount St. Helens: lots of hot air, noise and drama, but hopefully no real threat."

It says a lot about Colbert's acting ability, though, since he is channeling Bill O'Reilly.

(I vote for Mark's Udall's deadpan not translating well.)

Daily Fun Fact: Follow the Money

In 1945, corporations paid 35.4% of federal tax revenues.
By 2002, they paid 8%.

In 1945, individuals paid 40.7% of federal tax revenues.
By 2002, they paid 46.3%.

More fun facts.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

What Can My Child Learn from Large, Voluptuous Bouncing Breasts?

From a handy form for reporting Bad Books, from Parents Against Bad Books in Schools (pabbis.com).

Does the book contain any sexual content?
For each type checked above also indicate level of vividness/graphicness using the following as a general guide:
Basic (B): large breasts
Graphic (G): large, voluptuous bouncing breasts
Very graphic (VG): large, voluptuous bouncing breasts with hard nipples
Extremely graphic (EG): large, voluptuous bouncing breasts with hard nipples covered with glistening sweat and bite marks

Now, I don't disagree in principle with the idea of monitoring the content of books that children read in school. Somebody's got to do it, and props to pabbis for having a repository of information about books one might find objectionable.

In fact, they have a much better idea than banning certain books, though it is still fundamentally flawed. They propose Upfront Informed Parental Consent, in which the books that will be used are identified with any potential objectionable material for parents to review and approve, as well as qualifiers about edcational value contained therein. That's great, for classroom use. It only makes sense that a teacher should be familiar with the teaching material he will use.

The problem is that they want teachers and librarians to read every book in the library to identify "objectionable content."

Some school systems have thousands of teachers and librarians and billion dollar budgets. Books need to be reviewed by your child’s teachers and librarians as part of the process of determining them appropriate for selection. You shouldn’t have to read every potential book your children could be assigned or pick up in the school library to determine if there is objectionable material.

But as pabbis itself admits

Bad is not for us to determine. Bad is what you determine is bad. Bad is what you think is bad for your child. What each parent considers bad varies and depends on their unique situation, family and values.
A teacher or librarian reading a book might not determine that something is bad, according to any other individual's values. And I would think that someone who chooses teaching or safeguarding books would be more prone to finding value in even objectionable material.

Each parent would still need to read the material to determine, by their own standards, what is objectionable. Even though there might be a "Parent Advisory Label" on books, parents would still have to read those books for themselves to determine if there is any educational value, or if the books are just peddling cheap smut (romance novels come to mind). Otherwise we would have a system wherein parents would just have a blanket veto on certain-rated books, which is still the same as banning them without considering their educational value.

Pabbis' method of reporting books and excerpting objectionable material is a good starting point, but also serves as an example of why an idea similar to "Parental Advisory Labels" doesn't work. I don't know a lot of the books which pabbis lists, and the excerpts taken out of context do sound bad, unnecessarily violent, crude, and pornographic. But some of the books I am familiar with, and I know that taken in context, there is a reason for the objectionable material.

For example, I think a junior or senior should certainly be able to handle I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Exodus, The Name of the Rose, or The Source, which are a few of the books reported as potentially objectionable. If a younger person is reading those books, that is some smart, mature kid. Really, I can't imagine a kid choosing to read The Source. I didn't finish it two years ago, and I am much older than 18. Kids would be much more likely to read something by Stephen King, which has objectionable material and not sufficient educational value to justify being in a school library, IMO.

Found via Playboy Magazine -- yeah, I sometimes read Playboy.

Fortune Cookie Prophecies

A commenter to a couple of my posts has a website I've enjoyed perusing. He channels the Holy Spirit to comment on the news of the day.

Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico Running for President in 2008

Our Holy Spirit answers:

Not your best candidate. Not your worst. Stay away from candidates from the Northeastern United States and you'll be fine.


It's either very subtle or very blunt, if you know what I mean. Either way, I like it.

Monday, November 14, 2005

"Abuse Tantamount to Torture was National Policy"

That's a quote from a NY Times op/ed on evidence that Donald Rumsfeld signed off on SERE techniques for interrogating prisoners. I want to reprint all of this post from Hullabaloo, because I know some people (hubby) don't click on all my links, and because the information is that important.

But the upshot of Dibgy's post is that the DOD had been using SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape) techniques to interrogate prisoners; SERE techniques were created to help our servicemembers resist torture by communists; the torture techniques that were being used on our servicemembers were "designed by communist interrogators...to control a prisoner's will rather than to extract useful intelligence."

From the NY Times op/ed he links
SERE methods are classified, but the program's principles are known. It sought to recreate the brutal conditions American prisoners of war experienced in Korea and Vietnam, where Communist interrogators forced false confessions from some detainees, and broke the spirits of many more, through Pavlovian and other conditioning. Prolonged isolation, sleep deprivation, painful body positions and punitive control over life's most intimate functions produced overwhelming stress in these prisoners. Stress led in turn to despair, uncontrollable anxiety and a collapse of self-esteem. Sometimes hallucinations and delusions ensued. Prisoners who had been through this treatment became pliable and craved companionship, easing the way for captors to obtain the "confessions" they sought.

The prisoners we captured in war were being tortured to extract false confessions for use as propaganda. And Digby has another good theory as to why we were torturing them.

Read the op/ed for an example of the torture used, and for why this policy was in fact national policy and not the product of a "few bad apples." I had read Molly Ivins' op/ed on this yesterday, and can only end the same way she did.

Shame. Shame. Shame.

(updated to add Ivins link, thanks to Midnight Aloft)

Hopefully the Last Deignan Post: On Internet Credibility

Paul Deignan claimed his wife was threatened in an email. Someone calling himself McGeoffrey in Bitch Ph.D.'s comments claims to have emailed Mrs. Deignan. (So far I've been unable to connect to the homepage he links)

I wasn't going to comment here, but I thought I'd mention that I've been banned from PD's blog - not too surprisingly under the circumstances. Briefly, I tried to defuse things by e-mailing his wife to invite her to take a look at his blog, and he unsurprisingly didn't take too kindly to what I thought was a desperately needed reality check.

Equally unsurprisingly, he's now turned his attention towards "outing" me, and has already posted my IP address on his site, alongside other vague and unspecified threats (since he also claims to have informed the police about my alleged - though actually nonexistent - "threats", I wonder what they're making of those?)

To be honest, I really couldn't care less what he digs up - I have no personal or professional reason for fearing exposure, and if it wasn't for my concern about crank e-mails I'd have posted under my real name in the first place - but I just thought I'd mention it here in case anyone thinks that this increasingly pitiful saga really is over. He'd be far better off taking pretty much everyone's advice and just stopping all this right now, but he's clearly desperate to blame someone - anyone! - other than himself for letting this mess escalate as far as it has.

McGeoffrey Email Homepage
11.12.05 - 12:22 pm #

From Deignan's tendency to overreact, and McGeoffrey's unloadable link (at least by me), I can only conclude that there is nothing to conclude from this.

It's not unreasonable to think that someone emailed Deignan's wife, and that Deignan interpreted an innocuous statement to be a threat. His ability to interpret is highly questionable, since he thinks Hettle's non-techie, non-engineer assertion -- "He was banned, but used his computer expertise to defeat the ban and taunt the host of the site" -- constituted libel (hint: malicious intent to harm Deignan's career absent given this:"Might you please advise him to exercise a little discretion in the future." Ooooh, malicious).

It's also reasonable to think that McGeoffrey is a troll only claiming to have emailed Deignan's wife. But the tone of the comment and his subsequent comment were not particularly trollish.

I try to be a member of the reality-based community, but so much of what happens in web communities is unverifiable that we have to take each other at face value. If we choose anonymity, regardless of who we actually are, what we believe, or what we do, on the internet we are simply who we represent ourselves to be. Until we write something that contradicts known reality or otherwise compromises our own credibility, I think the benefit of the doubt should generally be given.

In this case, at this point, I can't give the benefit to either party.

It does appear, however, that Deignan has taken trolling to a whole new level.
What a Difference a Week Makes
A week of lefty complaints, whines, pleas, etc. etc. What did it all amount to?

  1. Increased my rankings in the blogosphere.
  2. Marginally increased the potentcy of my arguments.
  3. Demonstrated their venality in spades.

Just another week dealing with people who find it difficult to accept responsibility in any form. The thought of it scares them into anonymity and herd behaviors.

Instead of limiting himself to anonymously stirring up trouble for his own amusement on one message board or comment thread, he took it to the entire blogosphere under his own name. (His use of "venality" is telling, when one considers his propensity to project.)

As such, despite the diversion factor, I can't justify helping to keep this topic alive anymore. No feeding the trolls!

Van Susteren Not a Supporter of Fascists; A Retraction

Although book reviewer Roger Moore called neither Urban Van Susteren nor his daughter Greta fascists, the Orlando Sentinel apologized for the implication in his review of The Age of Anxiety that they support fascists.

Moore agreed that his review "went beyond the factual associations made in the book" but explained, "I wasn't suggesting she [Van Susteren] was fascist in the least." His dart, he intimated, was aimed at the perceived political leanings of her employer, which professes balance but tilts right.
Symbols aside, conservatism is not fascism, and overreaching to assail others' beliefs -- on the left or the right -- is as objectionable today as it was in McCarthy's time.

That is true. The term "fascism" gets thrown around casually a lot, and conservatives in America cannot rightly be called fascists, although they fit most of the criteria according to many definitions:

  • system of government that is marked by stringent social and economic control, a strong, centralized government usually headed by a dictator, and often a policy of belligerent nationalism.
  • They also used emotive slogans and old prejudices (for example, against the Jews) to bolster the leader's strongman appeal.
  • A social and political ideology with the primary guiding principle that the state or nation is the highest priority, rather than personal or individual freedoms.
  • A political philosophy, movement, or regime that exalts the nation above the individual; characterized by a centralized government and headed by a dictatorial leader.
  • An extreme form of nationalism that played on fears of communism and rejected individual freedom, liberal individualism, democracy, and limitations on the state.
  • Fascist governments are often closely associated with large corporations and sometimes with extreme nationalism and racist activities. Modern fascism is often called "CORPORATISM".
  • Neofascism is generally used to describe post-WWII movements seen to have fascist attributes. (Wikipedia)

Today's conservatives miss one important element in the definition of classic Fascism: state control of the means of production, including harsh punishments for war profiteering and usury. Although conservatives in America today seem to encourage and reward usury and war profiteering, they fight against state control of business, preferring instead for business to control the state. Hey, doesn't that amount to the same thing?

But it's still not right to call it "fascism."
David Neiwert
But what is so deeply disturbing about the current state of the conservative movement is that it has otherwise plainly adopted not only many of the cosmetic traits of fascism, its larger architecture -- derived from its core impulses -- now almost exactly replicates that by which fascists came to power in Italy and Germany in the 1920s and '30s.

It is in this sense that I call it Pseudo Fascism. Unlike the genuine article, it presents itself under a normative, rather than a revolutionary, guise; and rather than openly exulting in violence, it pays lip service to law and order. Moreover, even in the areas where it resembles real fascism, the similarities are often more familial than exact. It is, in essence, less virulent and less violent, and thus more likely to gain broad acceptance within a longtime stable democratic system like that of the United States.

And even in the key areas of difference, it is not difficult to discern that those dissimilarities are gradually shrinking, and in danger of disappearing. That this is happening should not be a great surprise. After all, as I've already explored in great detail, the mainstream conservative movement has increasingly had contact with the genuine American proto-fascists of the extremist right over the past decade or more, particularly in the trafficking of ideas, agendas and the memes that propel them. [quote from Wikipedia]

It was wrong of Roger Moore or for me to have insinuated that the Van Susterens supported fascists or fascist organizations. That is simply not true. The correct term would have been Neo-Fascist or Pseudo Fascist. My apologies for any confusion.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Sketching Nudes

PZ Myers has an exceptionally cool link to an artist sketching a woman from inside out.

It reminded me of the art class I took in college which I took so I would be better at drawing designs for costumes. We had a nude female model one day, which was very weird and uncomfortable for me at first. But soon I found myself concentrating only on the lines, curves, shadows, highlights, negative spaces, and spatial relationships of her body to notice that there was a naked woman prancing about in front of me.

I didnt' continue with costume design, and I was never the best artist, but I did things in that class I didn't know I could do, and am rather pleased.

Bill O'Reilly Hates Coit - Us, We Love It

The Onion and The Daily Show have long been my ideals for covering the dissecting much of the news of the day. Satire gets to truth much faster and accurately than boring analysis. So last night, I was greatly pleased to see Countdown with Keith Olbermann take the only sane and responsible route for discussing O'Reilly's call to arms against San Francisco.

He didn't invite a politician or regular "liberal" pundit on to whine, complain, or rant in outrage. He had a comedian, Mo Rocca, on to ridicule O'Reilly, which is all he deserves. Because O'Reilly is engaged in theater, theater is the only appropriate response. (My favorite part paraphrased -- Rocca: "I'm disappointed that Bill O'Reilly, an 'up by your bootstraps kind of guy,' would expect a sprawling bureaucracy like Al-Qaeda to blow up Coit Tower for him.")

Mo Rocca also made fun of O'Reilly's obsession with a phallic symbol, which reminded me of a story I'd heard of Coit Tower's history long ago. Lillie Langtry, a famous actress and adventuress, came to San Francisco and fell in love with its firemen, so she had Coit Tower built as an homage to their long hoses -- Coit Tower was actually erected as a phallic symbol and tribute to a horny woman's love of firemen.

Now, I could have sworn I heard this story from a University professor teaching the history of California. And that story of its origins stuck with me all these years, though I hadn't thought of it again until last night. This morning I looked it up and discovered it's not true.

A woman named Lillie Hitchcock-Coit was an avid fan of the firemen in San Francisco from the time she was a teenager, when she gained fame for jumping in to help tow a firetruck up a hill. When she died in 1929, she left money for the city to use for a memorial to the city's firefighters. It was the executors of her will who decided to build the tower, which was erected in 1933. It's also interesting to note that, even if they'd used her maiden name, the tower still would have a name to inspire a juvenile snicker.

I have a sneaking suspicion that the professor (on retrospect, he did have a sly look on his face when he told the story) was testing his students to see if anyone would bother to look up the story and correct him. I'm ashamed I never did.

Federal Habeas Corpus Gone

Adventus reports on the next step toward totalitarianism in America.

Heaven is Real...

...ly hot.

Ready for a heavenly night on the town

Bitch Ph.D. Clarifies Deignan's "Spoofing"

Dr. B, being the responsible, sane adult that she is, hopes this ends the matter.

[edited to add]

For anyone sad that the soap opera may soon end, or who has difficulty accepting anything less than total humiliation for Deignan and courtroom vindication for Dr. B, read this.

Someone Threatened Deignan's Wife

There is an individual using the e-mail: flossiefloss@mac.com

that has sent a threatening letter to my wife at work. Please search your records for this individual immediately.

I am concerned that he/she may pose a threat.

11:12 PM

As ridiculous and worthy of ridicule as this issue is, to whoever did that:
That is terrifying, stupid, and unnecessary, not to mention illegal, so cut it the FUCK OUT.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Hybrid Cabs

It's a good start.
Hybrid taxis that get double the gas mileage of traditional cabs while generating far less pollution have begun rolling in small numbers on New York's streets.

Pat Robertson Continues Un-Christian Jackassery

Claiming to know the will of God once more, Robertson tells Dover, PA, the town that ousted 8 of 8 school board members for putting Intelligent Design curriculum in schools
I'd like to say to the good citizens of Dover: If there is a disaster in your area, don't turn to God. You just rejected him from your city.

I hope someone from Dover responds to let Robertson know that God personally called and said "Don't worry, we're cool. Oh, and God said thank you, Pat, but he'll speak for himself from now on. Did you get the storms he's been sending to Regent College in Virginia Beach?"

Moderate GOoPers Jump Ship

We saw this coming after Tuesday's elections, didn't we?
House Republican leaders abruptly called off a vote Thursday on a bill that would trim $50 billion in spending after moderate Republicans resisted cuts to a range of social programs, including Medicaid, student loans and food stamps.
Late Wednesday night, House leaders -- bowing to objections from two dozen moderate Republicans -- dropped a provision in the bill that would have allowed oil drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Alas, the Repubs may have held on to their power just long enough to get one of their fondest wishes...a very conservative SCOTUS.

"Here Lies the Career of Paul Deignan"

He picked out the plot, he dug the hole, and now he's shoveling the dirt on top of himself.
A frequent visitor to the Bitch Ph.D. site, the University of Northern Iowa history professor Wallace Hettle, felt obliged to defend Bitch Ph.D.’s liberal end of the blogosphere. Hettle found Deignan’s curriculum vita at Info Theory, which lists his academic advisers, the Purdue mechanical engineers Galen King and Peter Meckl, who will play a big part in deciding if he will ultimately receive a Ph.D. Hettle e-mailed them, indicating that Deignan’s comments were “unprofessional” and “contrary to the spirit of free enquiry.” Hettle announced his actions within the comment section of Bitch Ph.D.

“Yes, we received an e-mail,” King confirmed on Wednesday. “It said that Paul was exceeding his bounds, if you will, on what is essentially a private site. He’s been asked to refrain, at least until he’s [graduated from Purdue].”

But escalation, not restraint, has marked the ensuing days, in which Deignan, Hettle and Bitch Ph.D. have hurled accusations of various kinds at each other. Both Deignan and Bitch Ph.D. have hired lawyers. Hettle wouldn’t comment on whether he has done the same. [emphasis added]

His advisers advise him to exercise restraint, that's it. They didn't drop him from the program, or whatever deleterious thing might happen to Ph.D. candidates. So he continues to obsess.
Can this kind of dispute be settled in a lawsuit? Lauren Gelman, a lawyer and assistant director of the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School, labeled the situation “complicated” and said that Deignan will have to show how he was harmed and why. “He’s not going to be able to use the legal system to solve the fact that his feelings may have gotten hurt,” she said. But as the Internet continues to evolve, she predicted, “disputes like this are definitely going to become more frequent.”

King, one of Deignan’s advisers, had perhaps the most unique take on the situation in today’s Web-based society: “I don’t understand what blogs are,” he said. “Apparently, though, they can get you in trouble.”

His adviser doesn't know blogs, and wouldn't have applied any special significance to comments about or by Deignan. He advised restraint. Instead he got a shitstorm of negative publicity for Purdue's Engineering department because Deignan ignored an advisor's advice.

And Deignan doesn't seem to understand that he is the one responsible for amplifying this situation to a point where it may cause him harm. Neither Hettle nor Bitch Ph.D. can be held responsible for that. I really don't see how he would be able to prove that the damage to his career came from a couple of comments among lots of comments rather than from the mega publicity he's gotten because he decided to throw a hissy fit.

BTW, who knew what IP spoofing was before this happened? How much damage can an off-handed comment about spoofing IPs do when most people have no idea what that means? Imagine all the lawsuits if people started challenging the accusation of "murderer" when applied to an abortion provider. Everyone knows the implication of "murder," even though they may not fully appreciate the legal definition, and the implication that an abortion provider is a murderer is much more serious than spoofing. IP spoofing has a definite legal definition, as well, but who knows either the legal or the colloquial use?

I wonder, however, if perhaps Deignan realized he was never going to make it to Ph.D., and this whole act is serving as a job application and example of the effectiveness of his information theory to conservative think tanks. Not to mention the sweet Blogad income he'll get from driving up the hits to his site (he delusionally sees himself getting the sweet money Instapundit gets). He certainly sees it as an opportunity for self-promotion.

From Unfogged
Paul has some follow-up on his blog, ending with this rather poignant note:
BTW, Drs. Meckl and King have been good advisors. Let's put that in the record also. Also, if you are in this field of system identification, information theory, datamining, system theory, controls, etc., may I call your attention to my actual reseach? Information-theoretic system identification has proven to have great potential in application across many fields and the results have been very good. Papers are available by links via my profile.

The prominent theme in the commentary section is that the blog is or will be billed as an experiment in traffic enhancement, or opinion manipulation, or whatever.

If potential employers don't mind working with a crazy megalomaniac with a persecution complex who loves even negative publicity and has no sense of proportion, I guess this is a plan so cunning.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Christianity and Government

On Randi Rhodes show last night and on Jay Marvin's show this morning, there was a lot of talk about religion and politics. I think that, since there are so many people of a religious or spiritual inclination, that it's a worthy discussion. What is the proper place for religion in politics?

There is a false idea that being a liberal or on the left means being an atheist or wanting no mention of God at all anywhere. While I think there shouldn't be state-sponsored religion or religious expression or activity (state-sponsored is very very different than individual), such as God in the pledge or the US motto or school-lead prayer, people's actions cannot help but be directed by their own moral codes, especially religious ones.

But what I'm really talking about is fundie Christianity in American government legislating "Christian" morality. You know it and I know it.

And the ones I'm really talking about are people like Falwell and Robertson, who are apparently afraid that if the United States of America allows two men to kiss, God will destroy us all -- though I seem to recall a story about sinners being destroyed for their own sins, while the righteous were allowed to escape. I also seem to recall someone saying something like "render unto Caesar what is Caesar's." Though he was talking specifically about cash money, I'm pretty sure it applies to things like sex laws, as well. You know, just because it's legal to marry a man doesn't mean you have to marry a man.

The implication that Falwell and Robertson make when they say God sends hurricanes, tornadoes, and airplanes to indiscriminately kill large groups of people is that God punishes the righteous and innocent for the iniquities of the sinners, thus explaining their need to control us all with legislation. They fear they will be punished if two guys aren't arrested for holding hands in public. They seem to forget, also, that when they take over the Government and compel others to obey their laws, they have become Caesar.

And who does Christ rail against? Those who publicly pray, the moneychangers in the church (like getting a new car for a donation to a televangelist who prays publicly), the powerful and exploitive and wealthy. Any televangelist who prays on TV for death and destruction, wears a made-to-order suit, anything more than a $60 watch, a gold wedding band, and pays more than $15 for a haircut is mocking Christ.

Who does Christ defend? The powerless, the poor, the infirm. What was Christ's stand on boys who do with boys? If they were wealthy, that they should give their money to the poor.

Given Christ's unconcern with homosexuality, premarital sex, or abortion, and his overabundance of concern with helping poor people, why is it the Christian fundies (not the progressive types, which there are) have no problem legislating sexual morality, but don't want to legislate social morality? Shouldn't there be a concerted effort by fundie Christians in government to pass higher taxes for social programs, rather than a concerted effort to outlaw gay marriage?

Except that conservative fundie Christians aren't so much Christians as they are Old Testamentians, or Leviticans, obsessed with the more lurid behaviors and in the letter of the law, rather than the spirit. There seems to be a good reason for this.

I recall reading somewhere a description of Pat Robertson's formula for success in fundraising. The reason a person gives, teaches Robertson, is that it is in his best interest to do so. There is no true altruism; everyone gives to benefit himself, even if it is for a cause on the other side of the world -- at very least, one feels good about oneself. But you must find a way to make potential donors feel they have some personal stake in donating.

I submit the same goes for controlling others, especially concerning "moral" matters -- if somewhere you're allowed to do naughty things that you really really want to do, at some point you're going to go there and do them. It is not an altruistic concern for the souls of the sinners, it is a concern for one's own soul or safety. Falwell and Robertson fear they will be killed for the sins of others. And many morally conservative Republicans who rail and attempt to legislate against immorality get caught for misconduct of one type or other. Every other day Atrios and other bloggers document Bobo's World, in which the crimes and offenses of such hypocrites come to light. (BTW, hypocrites were another group Christ disdained). Such hypocrites seek to be saved from their own dark impulses.

I find it very interesting that I -- who do not believe in the divinity of Christ and questions whether he even existed -- am more of a Christian than those who do believe. Jesus was a socialist. The Pharisees were free-market capitalists (though probably with an overdose of regulation -- stoning? Come on!).

But am I a hypocrite for seeking to legislate social morality when it comes to poverty and equality while mocking those who would legislate personal morality when it comes to sex, drugs, and rock & roll? The answer lies in the words "social" and "personal." Government is social, sex is personal. Of course there are always exceptions, but they deal with protecting the powerless, which is still a social concern of government, and of Christ.

For Most Succinct Summation of a Complicated Story

The winner is....

The Heretik!

(I haven't been so thoroughly embroiled in a soap opera since I was forced to watch Guiding Light while doing master control at a TV station. I knew it would never happen, but every day I rooted for Roger's plot to blow up the town and kill them all.)

Bitch Ph.D.'s Umber Un Fan

If you've got an extra day-and-a-half laying around, you might want to check out the shit storm at Bitch Ph.D. She's got some major troll problem.

Some think he should be ignored. He is a PhD Candidate at Purdue University in Mechanical Engineering, afraid that his career is in jeopardy because a commenter and professor contacted his advisors about his unprofessional trolling, yet continues to publicize his obsessive persecution complex -- all while he knows his advisors are watching -- by gleefully liveblogging his attempts at piercing her anonymity and suing her for libel, something he does for fun.
Since the purpose of this blog is the application of game theory to the problem of the day, I will explain how this game is going to go.
Ever been sued Wally? It goes on forever and it is no fun at all (except for me). And I'm going to enjoy spending a lot of money in attorney fees because I like lawyers.
Don't think I'm serious? Did you read my CV? I just spent $1500 to help take down Miers and I thought she was a nice lady. What do you think I will spend to take you down (legally)?

Therefore more fuel must be thrown on the fire. He shouldn't have a career in Mechanical Engineering. I wouldn't want an unstable person tampering with my brakes just because he thought I was wrong to let his supervisor at Grease Monkey know he was chewing me out for my Darwin Fish decal. [/lame joke analogy diss]

Besides, P.Z. Myers speak, I listen and obey

You really ought to go ahead and link to Deignan. It gives him a little traffic in the short run, but it also burns those creepy posts where the Comic Book Guy whines and threatens lawsuits into Google's memory.
I know I google job candidates. If I discovered one announcing that he loved to harrass people with lawsuits, I wouldn't look kindly on him.

Of course, the downside is that he looks like perfect material for a cushy job at a right-wing think tank.
PZ Myers Email Homepage 11.08.05 - 12:24 am

It seems to have all begun when this shamelessly arrogant crazy person invited some feminist bloggers to finally deal with the subject of abortion, one of whom was Dr. B.


You have probably noticed that the debate about abortion tends to stall at the point where one party invokes a particular or another party religious faith or another party invokes blind want.

So here is my challenge to you and your readers, building on the discussion and the premise here: Thinking Critically about Abortion. Is it possible to more forward and explore a possible principled resolution to the debate?

For example, I think there is something to be said of sovereignty of the body, privacy, and liberty as rights emanating from the right to life. You may propose some rationale for balancing, etc.

At this point of the debate, the pro-life position is not seriously challenged and I have some readers who have requested that I reopen a forum for debate. Are you up to it? If so, the best thing might be to see if you can create a post outlining your rationale, one that addresses the framework laid out in my post and hopefully some of the criticisms. If you have a decent argument, I will match your posts and invite others to discuss and contribute from the right.

You have to admit, normal bloggers for all their talk about not being MSM also shy away from this argument. We should take advantage of this.


(In light of the above email, it is worth noting this person's commenting policy

I will make a good faith attempt to reply to all substantive comments. I may correct spelling, but will indicate that your comment was edited.

Only a delusionally superior, hypertechnical, controlling douchebag edits comments for spelling and yet writes like that. Someone in Dr. B's comments called him a cross between Dick Cheney and Comic Book Guy. Now I read all his writing that way in my head.)

But Dr. B replied

Since you say you're a Ph.D. candidate, a little advice:
  • 1. Don't insult people and then ask them to do things for you.
  • 2. Don't make assertions about the limitations of a debate without doing your research; I myself have written pieces on abortion that go beyond where you say the "debate tends to stall."
  • 3. Don't try to set people up to act as your strawman; this doesn't incur good will.
  • 4. Don't invite people to participate in a debate when you're unfamiliar with their work--you run the risk (as here) of asking them to rearticulate arguments they've already published.

Methinks this must have made little Mr. Sliderule wither, as when we next see him, he is trolling her comments to a post on Alito.

Your linking talking points w/o analysis. Already I see several points that are exaggerated and misconstrued without even needing research.

Not convincing.

But go ahead and filibuster. It is what extremist activists do. (And it will help with the GOP elections in midterm as well as the nuke option).
Paul Deignan Email Homepage 11.02.05 - 9:12 am

Apparently it goes downhill from there, with him likening her child's upbringing to "swimming in a sewer" (my eyes are crossing trying to find that comment again for a link, so no link). His more obnoxious comments, such as this one, were deleted, though other commenters remembered them. It's unfortunate, actually, since on his site, of course, he doesn't mention those disappeared horrid comments.

That's why I don't think I will delete comments trolls make (like the one who threatened me
How nice. Watch yourself. You never know who you are talking to on here or how close they actually are.

Go Broncos!

Treeear 08.25.05 - 6:58 pm #)
If that's not an implied threat of physical violence, what is? And here's the undeniable proof of what he did to get banned.

Anyway, that was just an introduction to the whole thing. And the saga continues. Isn't blogging fun?

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Test How Well You Know They Get Letters

Wash Park Prophet found an amusing local blogger* which I have linked to in my sidebar. See if you can figure out which is the new link.

Prize for winning -- cheerleader bathroom sex, clown dancing, and geek gripes.

*Okay, it's Radhole.

Nous Sommes Tous Les Francais

Juan Cole explains why America is not so different than France. (The main point is that the riots are not an issue of French vs. non-French or religious strife, as some on the right are trying to claim.)
The kind of riots we are seeing in France also have occurred in US cities (they sent Detroit into a tailspin from 1967). They are always produced by racial segregation, racist discrimination, spectacular unemployment, and lack of access to the mainstream economy.
(Americans who code themselves as "white" are often surprised to discover that "white people" created the inner cities here by zoning them for settlement by racial "minorities," excluding the minorities from the nicer parts of the cities and from suburbs. As late as the 1960s, many European-Americans were willing to sign a "covenant" not to sell their houses to an African-American, Chinese-American or a Jewish American. In fact, in the US, the suburbs were built, most often with de facto government subsidies in the form of highways and other perquisites, as an explicit means of racial segregation. Spatial segregation protected "white" businesses from competition from minority entrepreneurs, who couldn't open shops outside their ghettos. In France, government inputs were used to create "outer cities," but many of the same forces were at work.) The French do not have Jim Crow laws, but de facto residential segregation is a widespread and intractable problem.

As my husband is fond of saying, so many people who vote for Republicans, neocons, lower taxes and fewer social programs and protections which will create a wider gap between haves and have nots don't seem to realize that the very massive underclass they are creating will one day rise up and kill them all.

Via Atrios.

Problem with Hotmail

My current email address, theygetletters@hotmail.com, is currently experiencing difficulty. It's the same problem that happened with my previous hotmail address, julie_o29@hotmail.com, which forced me to abandon that address. The alternate hotmail address we use is working fine.

When I hit the button to send an email, I got kicked out of my account to a page which requires me to type in characters for verification. When I type them in, I get sent to the sign-in page, which sends me back to the character verification page, which sends me back to the sign-in page, etc. ad infinitum.

Hotmail didn't contact me about the problem last time. If I have to abandon this address too -- which I feel inclined to do right now out of frustration -- is there another email system anyone recommends? How about gmail?

Sensitive Susteren

Greta van Susteren has called out her 100,000 blog dogs to yap up book reviewer Roger Moore's tree.

In the Orlando Sentinel, Roger Moore reviewed a book by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Haynes Johnson, The Age of Anxiety. He points out that Johnson ties the McCarthy era and its players to the current day.
Johnson entertains by showing how the decades haven't altered the teams in this war for America's political soul. McCarthy's best friend, the man who loaned him a copy of Mein Kampf, was a fellow Wisconsin conservative, Urban Van Susteren. Progressives won't be surprised that Greta Van Susteren, a Fox News mainstay and Urban's daughter, grew up in a home with a cherished edition of Hitler's famous template for fascist political organization and bigoted scapegoating.

Now, I read this to mean that Greta Van Susteren's apple fell close to the tree. Van Susteren's father supported a fascist bigoted scapegoater, and she works for a fascist bigoted scapegoating network. That's his opinion, and I share it.

But Greta says his opinion portrays her in a "false light," and has asked her blog readers to put pressure on Roger Moore to apologize.
As soon as I get the apology in writing in his paper, I will call off the dogs! If he apologizes, it ends the matter right there. We all make mistakes — although I think his is a whopper in this instance (read below.) If he does not apologize after all your cajoling, I am going to research filing a "false light" tort claim against him and probably his newspaper. I am sure he does not want that and neither does his paper.

And since that didn't work overnight, she also wants her blog readers to pressure his boss.
Roger Moore of Orlando Sentinel has not apologized. I very much appreciate all your help — I know many of you sent e-mails and called Mr. Moore. Perhaps we can get his boss, Charlotte H. Hall, vice president/editor — (407) 420-5195 — to review the matter. Do you want to call and ask her?

I think I will write Roger Moore an email, as well. rmoore@orlandosentinel.com, or (407) 420-5369

Via Newsblues (sub. req.)

Digby's Good News/Bad News Election Rundown

At Hullabaloo.

K. Lo's Wish

That Karl Rove had resigned on November 7. Then all the GOP's problems would have disappeared overnight, and they would have won everything.


"Local Voters Decisively Defeat Karl Rove"

Local voters had no opinion on torture, war, Abramoff, DeLay, Cheney, corruption, a "bridge to nowhere," Frist's stocks, etc.

Stalin Would Be Proud

The White House, acting to create their own reality once again, is trying to get
sources to change their transcripts of a press briefing.

ThinkProgress has the story and video.

Via Atrios.

Now THAT's a Mandate

Last week it was Referendum C here in Colorado. This week, it's just about every other issue and candidate across the country.

In Dover, PA, the fundie Republican schoolboard that was backing Intelligent Design was ousted in favor of Dems. Every single one. 8 for 8.

In CA, all four of the Gropinator's referenda were shot down.

Maine won't discriminate.

A Dem who supported Bush in 2004 was run out of town on a rail.

Virginia has a new Dem governor.

I hope the moderates have gotten the message. We don't want fundie, rightwing extremism. We don't want government drowned in a bathtub. We don't want kooky ideologues who are not part of the reality-based community.

At very least, this doesn't bode well for Dick Cheney getting Congress to let him sit on an Iraqi's face until he stops squirming.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Freedom's Warrior Trading Cards

Do whatever you must to get your hands on these.

"I nicked mine, mate."

Capitol Hill Blue -- Enemy of the State

Doug Thompson of Capitol Hill Blue, one of the victims of a national security letter, has found himself on the President's enemies list.

In the past, when information collected on an American citizen failed to turn up any criminal activity, FBI policy called for such information to be destroyed.

But President George W. Bush in 2003 reversed that long-standing policy and ordered the bureau and other federal agencies to not only keep that information but place it in government databases that can be accessed by local, state and federal law enforcement agencies.

In October, Bush also signed Executive Order 13388 which expands access to those databases to “appropriate private sector entities” although the order does not explain what those entities might be. In addition, the Bush Administration has successfully blocked legislation and legal actions that have tried to stop the expansion of spying and gathering of information on Americans.

It has a chilling ending.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Air Quality Decline in Windswept Wyoming

What does Dick "Why Oh Why Did I Ever Leave Wyoming" Cheney care, he doesn't live there.

Yep, what the West needs is more oil and gas wells that won't meet the needs of a greedy nation, but will degrade their quality of life.

This is Getting Serious -- Senate Staffer Attack

Talk about the politics of crime, TalkLeft has a story about a staffer for Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) who was beaten outside her home. The FBI is looking into a possible connection with her work on the Senate Finance Committee.

And a commenter reminds us of Abramoff's gangland connections.

Disgruntled Chemist Needs Creative Help Getting Revenge

Even though he started it (via Pharyngula). Some might say "turn the other cheek," but where's the fun in that?

More from Pharyngula. This is just gross. But fascinating. No, just gross. But kinda cool. Ewww.

I'm loving P.Z. Myers today. The third linkie,with quote
Pat Robertson on Sunday said that the tornado in Indiana and Kentucky was God’s way of expressing His anger at the actor Warren Beatty and his wife, Annette Bening for trying to disrupt yesterday’s speech by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger at a campaign rally in San Diego.
This might actually be good news. Maybe if I eat some shrimp cocktail, God will express his wrath by giving a random Texan hives. I like the idea of punishments for my sins being meted out to arbitrary targets elsewhere on the planet.

Reality Penetrates Bush Bubble

No Potemkin meeting for Bush in Argentina.
The scenes of violence and protest, which have become common at most meetings of world leaders, prompted Bush to ruefully acknowledge his unpopularity in much of the world outside his own borders. 'It's not easy to host all these countries, particularly not easy to host, perhaps, me,' Bush told his Argentine hosts 'But thank you for doing it.'

Turns out Bush's senior adviser was right when he said ''We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality."

And it's nice that Bush is showing a sign of seeing the reality he has created.

No-No Novak

His contract at CNN is apparently up in early 2006.

"You know, I think that's b—-s—-. And I hate that. Just let it go."

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Coastal Diaspora

I say it's about time. I'm sick of seeing an electoral map that shows large patches of unoccupied land electing presidents. People need to spread out across the country more.

And, as ignorant as it makes me sound, I completely understand this
A year ago, Melanie Fischer, a lifelong Californian, was not entirely sure where Missouri was. So when her husband proposed that they consider moving there, she raced to locate the state on a map printed on her children's placemats.

Eleven years ago, I, a lifelong fifth generation Californian who never lived more than a couple of miles from the San Francisco Bay, was not entirely sure where Wyoming was. That's where we moved when Mare Island closed and my dad got a transfer to F.E. Warren.

It's not that I was uneducated, it's just that I didn't care. To me, California was the center of the universe, and I couldn't imagine living anywhere else. And it wasn't a sense of superiority or disdain for the middle states that made me not think about them...I just never thought about them. But we need to care, especially since large patches of unoccupied land are electing presidents.

My parents were the same way. My uncle, who is from Missouri, would tell my mom, "There are other places to live besides California," but she didn't believe him until she was forced to move. Now they can't imagine going back to live in California. When a bad commute in Cheyenne means not being able to get from College and I-80 to Dell Range and Yellowstone in 15 minutes or less, who could blame them? One time, I got stuck in a traffic jam in the Bay Area in which it took three hours to go a quarter of a mile. Of course, as a native, I knew which direction to go at which time -- that traffic jam was a weather-induced fluke.

As beautiful as I think the Bay Area is, I only want to go back to visit. So far I love Colorado and am happy that, just as I moved here, it turned a little more blue. Occasionally I will miss some things. The only Mexican food I've found to rival California's is at Consuelo's in Fort Collins, though apparently no one outside California does a big burrito wrapped in foil. They're always "smothered" or "wet," or at least sitting on a plate in a pool of sauce for fork consumption. In fact, I never heard of a "smothered" or "wet" burrito before I moved out of CA.

And when my husband and I watched The Fog -- which I hadn't seen in a whole lot of years -- this Halloween, I said "hmm, that countryside looks like Inverness," which it turns out it was, then recognized the light house at Pt. Reyes. Pt. Reyes, if you ever go there, is a trap. It's easy enough to walk down the stairs to check out the lighthouse, but then you turn around and notice that the stairs go up 30 stories. On second thought, that's probably not daunting to people accustomed to high altitude walks. And the sound of the fog horn sent a happy thrill down my back.

I don't know how the native mid-westerners feel about kooky coastal types moving in next door, but I welcome it.

Bush Administration Knew Iraq Intelligence Was Questionable: Pt. 2

(Mainly for my conservative relatives who may read this) If you were wondering why I wrote
It's another example of the Bush Administration's use of questionable intelligence to make unequivocal statements about Iraq's ties to terrorism and possession of WMD.

Here's a little rundown of what we know the Bush Administration knew of questionable intelligence which was used to justify the Iraq War to the nation and to Congress, via Mahablog
… we now know that the Bush Administration also knew as far back as January 2003 that the Niger uranium claim was based on forgeries. We know that the Bush Administration was also told that the aluminum tubes story was bogus before the invasion as well. We now know that the claim that Saddam was assisting Al Qaeda was also a lie, and that the Administration knew this from Rummy himself as far back as February 2002. And we know that the IAEA was still on the ground in Iraq and had not confirmed any of Bush’s claims that Saddam had definitively stockpiled WMDs in violation of the two UN resolutions that Bush based his war upon.

And why exactly is this so important? Because take a look at the certification that Bush sent to Congress to start the war, which was required in the October 2002 war resolution, and then see that as we suspected over two and a half years ago, Bush has a big problem now…

This latest revelation means that at the time Bush justified the commencement of war against Iraq consistent with what was required under Public Law 107-243, he certified things not in evidence, and made claims to Congress (Saddam’s active operation of a WMD program and Saddam’s assistance to Al Qaeda) that he, Cheney, and Rummy already knew were false.

I think the 2006 elections are already being fixed. If the Republicans lose either branch of Congress, this Administration is going the way of Nixon. Of course, with 42% polled already thinking impeachment, and minority Dems pushing the subject, it may not matter.

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