Thursday, October 26, 2006

the michael j. fox ad

Most of you have probably already heard about the Michael J. Fox ad on stem cells that's being run for Claire McCaskill in Missouri. It's now being recut for use elsewhere in the country because it's proven so hard-hitting. Of course, Rush Limbaugh bashed Fox for making the commercial, even mockingly imitating his Parkinson's-induced swaying on his TV broadcast.

But then again, is there anyone out there still in the dark over whether Rush Limbaugh is the biggest douchebag in America?

As Atrios mentioned yesterday, you remember last cycle when all the talking heads freaked out over Fox supporting Arlen Specter (R-VA)?

Yeah, neither do I.

UPDATE: Thanks to MC for catching that Arlen Specter is, in fact, the senior senator from Pennsylvania, not Virginia. I swear I knew that, I just thought one thing and typed another.

news from the tiny African nation Hoogivsashit

I've been trying to wrap my head around this Madonna adoption case when I need a break from politics, and I have to admit, I can't figure this out. What's the problem here?

Here's the answer I've found. From The Guardian:
If the news of the adoption of a tiny black boy by a white pop diva isn't enough, there is an added sensation - Madonna and Guy Ritchie are adopting a boy with a living father. Why are the Ritchies doing this, knowing the controversy it will cause? And how are they going to get around Malawi's tough adoption rules, which require that foreigners be resident in the country for 18 months before adopting a child to ensure that welfare officials have time to monitor their suitability.

Only the Ritchies - and the government that drew up the shortlist - can answer the first question, and neither seems inclined to do so for now. Even though many of the children in Malawian orphanages have lost only their mother, it is highly unusual for these kids to be put forward for adoption by welfare officials.

"Only children without any living parents and circumstances that make it unlikely that they can ever return to their extended family are selected for adoption," says the director of a well-established infant home in Malawi, who asks not to be named. "This was a very unusual case."

Oh, goodness, a white woman adopting a black baby?!? What will the children think? And even worse, the father who put the boy up for adoption isn't even dead yet, and we all know that only orphans deserve to be adopted. Children with living parents, meanwhile, should just sit there --as if on layaway or something-- until the parents strike oil or invent the invisibility cloak or something.

And on top of that, "the Ritchies," as the Guardian crassly refers to Madonna and her husband (no doubt as a subtle pun on the word rich) have the temerity to allow the Malawi government to bend the rules for her just because she's, ya know, donating millions of dollars to improve the plight of orphans there. What. A. Bitch.

I don't understand what all the media's faux moralizing is about here, but I don't like what they're insinuating. Apparently the media now thinks it's wrong for rich people to adopt poor kids, or even more incensing, for white people to adopt black kids. Or rather, what they'll say is they think the rest of us have a problem with it and they're just reporting what we want to hear about, which goes to show you just how out to lunch these jerkoffs are nowadays.

It sounds like there's a little of insinuation that Madonna bribed the government to bend the rules as well, which is also apparently false. In fact, the more I think about this, the madder I get that these wankers are taking something Madonna did that's actually very generous and humanitarian and beautiful, and trying to spin it into something sleazy.

what the president really means

Here's what the State of the Union sounds like with the decoder ring:

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Ken Lay goes all "Back to the Future" on us

Unbelievable. From the Washington Post:
A federal judge in Houston yesterday wiped away the fraud and conspiracy conviction of Kenneth L. Lay, the Enron Corp. founder who died of heart disease in July, bowing to decades of legal precedent but frustrating government attempts to seize nearly $44 million from his family.

The ruling worried employees and investors who lost billions of dollars when the Houston energy-trading company filed for bankruptcy protection in December 2001. It also came more than a week after Congress recessed for the November elections without acting on a last-ditch Justice Department proposal that would have changed the law to allow prosecutors to seize millions of dollars in investments and other assets that Lay controlled.
Legal analysts said Lake's ruling closely hewed to a long-held doctrine called abatement, which allows a conviction to be vacated if defendants die before they are able to exercise their right to appeal. Courts typically rule that defendants' constitutional rights to challenge their convictions outweigh other considerations, and the law hesitates to punish the dead, the analysts said.

So that's that. According to the law, Ken Lay was never convicted, never did anything wrong.

I know, I know, it was precedent. I understand that, and I don't wanna be like the conservatives, decrying judicial activism except when it suits my politics. I understand the theory behind it, that one has the right to full access to the law, meaning not just the trial, but the full panoply of legal protections from lawful arrest through fair trial through appeals. And I think I agree with it.

At the same time, though, theory can only take me so far. I can't help but look back at the particular case, at this scumbag who robbed his shareholders, his customers, and his employees of billions, walked away with millions, and at the end of the day, there's no punishment of any kind. Even after being convicted by a jury. And now it's gonna be even harder for all the people he screwed to get any recompense.

Some justice.

the straight-talking Republicans

Watch this:

This is Tom Kean, Jr., the Republican candidate for New Jersey's Senate seat. Why do you suppose he had such trouble with this one simple question?

UPDATE: corrected to show Kean is actually the candidate for New Jersey, not Maryland (that's Michael Steele, RNC Chair Ken Mehlman's BFF). (10-gallon tip MC)

Thursday, October 12, 2006

kangaroo justice

From Common Dreams:
The Navy lawyer who led a successful Supreme Court challenge of the Bush administration's military tribunals for detainees at Guantanamo Bay has been passed over for promotion and will have to leave the military, The Miami Herald reported Sunday.

Lt. Cmdr. Charles Swift talks to reporters outside the Supreme Court in Washington in this June 29, 2006, file photo. Smith, who led a successful Supreme Court challenge of the Bush administration's military tribunals for detainees at Guantanamo Bay, has reportedly been passed over for a promotion and will have to leave the Navy. (AP Photo/Dennis Cook, File)

Lt. Cmdr. Charles Swift, 44, will retire in March or April under the military's "up or out" promotion system. Swift said last week he was notified he would not be promoted to commander.

He said the notification came about two weeks after the Supreme Court sided with him and against the White House in the case involving Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a Yemeni who was Osama bin Laden's driver.

"It was a pleasure to serve," Swift told the newspaper. He added he would have defended Hamdan even if he had known it would cut short his Navy career.

What effect do you think this little bump-off will have on prospective future defenders in Bush's kangaroo court tribunals? What do you think are the chances that those defense attorneys will actually give it 100%, so that the defendants actually get a fair trial?

Not that they're gonna be fair trials anyway, of course, what with the admission of secret evidence that the defense can't try to defend themselves from and all...

half a million dead Iraqis

My God. From the Washington Post:
A team of American and Iraqi epidemiologists estimates that 655,000 more people have died in Iraq since coalition forces arrived in March 2003 than would have died if the invasion had not occurred.

The estimate, produced by interviewing residents during a random sampling of households throughout the country, is far higher than ones produced by other groups, including Iraq's government.
The surveyors said they found a steady increase in mortality since the invasion, with a steeper rise in the last year that appears to reflect a worsening of violence as reported by the U.S. military, the news media and civilian groups. In the year ending in June, the team calculated Iraq's mortality rate to be roughly four times what it was the year before the war."

That comes out to about 500 deaths a day around the country due to the war.

da bomb

Yesterday's Washington Post has a great article by William Perry, who was Clinton's Secretary of Defense from 1994-1997. He lays out a simple timeline of recent US-North Korean diplomatic history:
The Clinton administration declared in 1994 that if North Korea reprocessed, it would be crossing a "red line," and it threatened military action if that line was crossed. The North Koreans responded to that pressure and began negotiations that led to the Agreed Framework. The Agreed Framework did not end North Korea's aspirations for nuclear weapons, but it did result in a major delay. For more than eight years, under the Agreed Framework, the spent fuel was kept in a storage pond under international supervision.

Then in 2002, the Bush administration discovered the existence of a covert program in uranium, evidently an attempt to evade the Agreed Framework. This program, while potentially serious, would have led to a bomb at a very slow rate, compared with the more mature plutonium program. Nevertheless, the administration unwisely stopped compliance with the Agreed Framework. In response the North Koreans sent the inspectors home and announced their intention to reprocess. The administration deplored the action but set no "red line." North Korea made the plutonium.

The administration also said early this summer that a North Korean test of long-range missiles was unacceptable. North Korea conducted a multiple-launch test of missiles on July 4. Most recently, the administration said a North Korean test of a nuclear bomb would be unacceptable. A week later North Korea conducted its first test.

This is pretty astonishing stuff. There are many points worth mining in this article: we could talk about how this is yet another place where Bush has failed to continue the real progress begun by Clinton, just like his failure to restrain the federal budget and to continue the decline in abortion rates nationwide. We could talk about how laughable on their face GOP attempts are to portray themselves as strong on national security, considering Bush's inability even to decide on a policy to pursue vis-a-vis North Korea. Unless, of course, they intentionally embarked on a "swagger toughly and carry a... ah, f&#k it. Whatever" approach to Kim Jong Il. We could even talk about how foolish and mendacious Condi Rice is, who had the audacity to lay blame for North Korean nukes at Clinton's door (c/o Josh Marshall).

Instead, however, I wanna talk about results. Results, as in, surely the Bush Administration knew that such a non-approach to Kim Jong Il would result in a bomb, and doing nothing would result in one faster than doing something, anything, right?

But look for yourselves: does it look like the Bush administration even tried to keep them away from the bomb? Why would the Administration do nothing, literally nothing, other than talk tough in front of the cameras?

The answer, I believe, lies within the question. The Administration was only interested in what it was doing "in front of the cameras," i.e., in maintaining the appearance of being tough on rogue nations, which is a much simpler thing to do. Just like it's not interested in balancing the budget, but rather only in maintaining the appearance of balancing the budget. And maintaining the appearance of fighting for a gay marriage ban. And maintaining the appearance of governing in general.

You see, when your campaign manager is in charge of White House policy, when the same campaign manager is allowed unprecedented influence in foreign policy as well, everything is about politics and nothing is about policy, that is, governing well. That's why Bush introduces gay marriage bans and then refuses to fight for them in congress. That's why he talks about "human/animal hybrids" in his State of the Union. That's why he continues a losing, but "tough"-looking, course in Iraq, having never even bothered to draw up a plan for keeping the peace there. That's why he'll cancel vacation immediately over euthanizing a dead white woman in Florida, but not for the destruction of a Democratic city full of black people in Louisiana.

After all, the destruction of New Orleans is proving to be the best thing that ever happened to the Louisiana GOP: all their opposition in the state disappeared overnight.

If you design an Administration solely to play politics, and not to govern, this is what you get: an Administration not only not governing but incapable of governing. An Administration so well trained only to consider the political/electoral implications of events that its priorities get turned on its head. Thinking in purely political terms, why try hard to keep nukes out of Kim Jong Il's hands when doing so could put you in politically precarious positions (pursuing war while in a weakened state with a war-weary populace or having to negotiate with an Axis of Evil country, thereby weakening your "tough" image) when you could just let China do all the work and hope they can at least delay the inevitable until you get out of office? Besides, you even have a plausible out via the Clinton defense, and Americans are notorious for rallying around Dear Leader when they're
threatened by other countries.

This is why the Bush Administration is so dangerous. This is why they're such a failure at governing. They never really even tried to.

Friday, October 06, 2006


O what a weekend it's gonna be in the world of the gridiron, folks, and the surprises have started already: after losing to NC State the Florida State Seminoles will almost certainly start next week... get this... unranked. You don't hear that too often, eh?

On the home front, Notre Dame has what should (but probably won't) be a cakewalk against possibly the worst Stanford team I've seen in a long time (and that says a lot). How bad are they, you're wondering? Well, for starters, they're winless, as in 0-5 winless. And it gets worse: in 4 of those 5 games they lost by 26 or more, including a 48-10 trip south by Oregon that left vaguely Cardinal-colored splattermarks all over the field.

Well, now that they've been scraped off of UCLA's shoes (this time a 31-0 shutout), they're headed to South Bend for the rematch of a game that really should not have been close (but, of course, was) last season. Most of the players are the same, and most of them are still struggling. On the other hand, at least this time the Irish won't have a kicker with peyote in his gatorade. Hopefully.

Meanwhile, Tech takes on Mizzou, their first chance to upset a ranked team since they screwed the pooch against TCU 2 weeks ago. Color me interested but skeptical. And of course, the big game, the Red River Shootout, is this week as Colt McCoy, Texas Quarterback! (cue Dixieland on banjo) tries to lead the #7 'Horns to a second straight win over #14 Oklahoma (who I hear this year actually have other players besides Adrian Peterson!). This one could be close.

Among the rest, #2 USC takes on a potentially resurgent Washington team (SC will win, obviously, but it will be interesting to see if the Huskies really are on their way back up), and all Hell breaks loose in the SEC: #9 LSU vs. #5 Florida and #13 Tennessee vs. #10 Georgia. Wow.

Oh yeah, and #11 Oregon and #16 California, two of the most perpetually overrated teams in NCAA, face off, too. Yawn.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

the new Katherine Harris

Hang in there, Denny! You can do it!:
A defiant House Speaker Dennis Hastert fought Wednesday to hold on to his leadership post while fractures appeared among his lieutenants and a former senior aide to Mark Foley said he repeatedly had warned Hastert's top aide about Foley's inappropriate behavior toward underage pages more than two years ago.

In an interview with the Tribune on Wednesday night, Hastert said he had no thoughts of resigning and he blamed ABC News and Democratic operatives for the mushrooming scandal that threatens his tenure as speaker and Republicans' hold on power in the House.

I hear magic Kabbala water is the best protection from Democratic secret agents working for Charles Gibson. Viva Generalissimo Mickey! *cue the Imperial March*

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

our CARAAAAAAAZY Hoosier candidates!

So has anyone here seen any of Nancy "Vote for me and I'll send magic ponies to save the universe!" Dembowski? The candidate who "will fix the time zone problem." Seriously, she says she'll fix it. And on top of that, she's gonna give us lower taxes AND better schools! Color me impressed!

What's with all these Democrats with GOP-style delusions?

Oh, and you should also go vote for Steve "I hate Mexicans more than you do" Heim. Did you know that Mexicans sneak all the way up to Indiana and then immediately start drawing Social Security? Yup, and apparently they also move into the emergency room and just start ordering every surgical procedure in the house!

Monday, October 02, 2006

Let us prey...

Now that we've had a couple of days to watch the Foley fiasco unfold, I'd like to try to offer some thoughts. Maybe try to bring a little perspective to the discussion.

I think the whole affair has shown us the sincerity of the valyews-oriented Christian Right as well. From TPM Cafe, we get the official response (4 days down the road) from James Dobson's Focus on the Family. Just for a little perspective, here's their take on the Lewinsky scandal:
When assessing the legacy of Bill Clinton, we can’t overlook his shameful sexual behavior in the Oval Office, and then, his lies under oath to the American people to cover it up. Indeed, it is my belief that no man has ever done more to debase the presidency or to undermine our Constitution -- and particularly the moral and biblical principles upon which it is based -- than has William Jefferson Clinton.

Whew, that thar's some vit-tree-ole! And here's their righteous indignation toward a homosexual pederast Republican preying on adolescent Congressional pages with Republican leadership making sure the story doesn't get out:
"This is not a time to be talking about politics, but about the well-being of those boys who appear to have been victimized by Rep. Foley. If he is indeed guilty of what he is accused of, it is right that he resigned and that authorities are looking into whether criminal charges are warranted.

"This is yet another sad example of our society's oversexualization, especially as it affects the Internet, and the damage it does to all who get caught in its grasp."

That's right, folks. There's no need to bother with questions over anyone's complicity in covering for Foley and making sure that boys continued to be preyed upon in our very halls of government, no question about whether the GOP really deserves the support of Christians sensitive to the country's moral decay.

After all, far be it for Focus on the Family to go all, ugh, shrill over a politician's sexual indiscretions! Just a quiet nod of approval that Rep. Foley was stopped before more boys were molested, that's all you'll be hearing from the eminently unobtrusive, apolitical folks at FoF!



From AP:
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said Monday that the Afghan guerrilla war can never be won militarily and called for efforts to bring the Taliban and their supporters into the Afghan government.

The Tennessee Republican said he had learned from briefings that Taliban fighters were too numerous and had too much popular support to be defeated by military means.

"You need to bring them into a more transparent type of government," Frist said during a brief visit to a U.S. and Romanian military base in the southern Taliban stronghold of Qalat. "And if that's accomplished we'll be successful."

Yes, you read that right. No, as far as I can tell, this isn't a joke. After spending 2 years telling us that Democrats want to "cut and run" from Iraq, the Senate Republican Majority Leader wants to cut and run from Afghanistan.

Put another way, Democrats want to redeploy from Iraq so we can concentrate on Afghanistan and the War on Terror. Republicans want to hand Afghanistan back to the Taliban. The Taliban. The guys who really did harbor terrorists, especially Osama bin Laden-led Al Qaeda.

So tell me again, who's gone soft on the terrorists?

Via dKos, a number of rightwing bloggers have already chimed in to answer that question:
The Commissar: "I have decided to vote Democratic this fall."

Ace of Spades: "Goodbye GOP.

Perhaps we should make peace with Zawahiri as well? Let's negotiate, and see what terms we can get as good dhimmis.

The hell with the lot of them."

Allahpundit: "If we're going to do this, just pull everyone out. Don't lend an imprimatur of legitimacy to it by shepherding these medieval savages into a U.S.-backed government. Pull out, admit defeat, and let the Taliban take back the country through force. Then we can really and truly be back to September 10, 2001. Minus a skyscraper or two."