Friday, December 21, 2007

I'll say!

Here is the first line of the latest AP article on the Jamie Lynn Spears' boyfriend:
He's a 19-year-old pipe layer;...





if it's holy, then why does bad stuff happen on it?

From Rawstory:
According to CNN, the small contingent of churchgoers believe that Interstate 35, a sprawling highway running from Texas to Minnesota, is specifically mentioned in the Book of Isaiah, chapter 35.

"A highway shall be there, and a road," reads a portion of the chapter's verse eight, "and it shall be called the Highway of Holiness. The unclean shall not pass over it..."

But if I-35 is indeed the place, some Christians believe there's a lot of work to be done before the road can fulfill it's saintly destiny, according to CNN's Gary Tuchman, who was on the scene in Texas as believers launched an effort to pray for the road.

"Churchgoers in all six states recently finished 35 days of praying alongside Interstate 35, but the prayers are still continuing," reports Tuchman. "Some of the faithful believe that in order to fulfill the prophecy of I-35 being the 'holy' highway, it needs some intensive prayer first.


Thursday, December 20, 2007


Greenwald contributes a great article on the press' inability to take 3 presidential candidates seriously and the possible link between them. Those 3 candidates, by the way? Ron Paul (duh!), Mike Huckabee, and John Edwards. All pretty hardcore anti-establishment types and, interestingly, Huckabee and Edwards are the only 2 candidates who've made income inequality a centerpiece of their campaign. One of Greenwald's best moments:
...whenever these candidates are discussed, it almost never entails any discussion of the critiques they are making. Is Edwards right that corporations and lobbyists dictate legislation in Washington and that this state of affairs is profoundly anti-democratic and corrupt? Are Paul's criticisms of our bipartisan imperial policies and his warnings of resulting financial unsustainability (and increasing anti-Americanism) accurate? Is Huckabee's claim true that the GOP has obliterated the economic prospects of its own middle- and lower-middle-class followers?

Have you ever heard these topics discussed in our "national conversation?" I pay pretty close attention to politics, and I'd actually forgotten about Huckabee's concern for the poor. For all I criticize him, I do have to admit that he actually does appear to be the most genuinely compassionate Republican we've seen in a long time (except when it comes to immigrants, anyway), and he's definitely the first Republican in ages who isn't so much of a "drown government in the bathtub", anti-tax crusader.

These 2 things are, of course, linked, and highlight the strongest division in the Republican party: the one between the corporatists and the corpus Christi, the prophets and the profiteers.

Apropos to this conversation, you may know that Huckabee's been getting hit by Romney for l'Affair Dumond, but did you know that Huckabee today counterattacked by knocking Romney's refusal to grant clemencies?:

And yes, one must admit that for all the bad coverage Hillary and Obama get (and they do both get pretty shitty coverage) they're treated like royalty compared to Edwards.

civil warrior

I saw this in Valley News (NH)'s endorsement of Obama, and I'm pulling it out because I think it's articulates something I've been thinking about:
Clinton is a formidable candidate -- knowledgeable on the issues, a sharp debater, tenacious. She is more polished and more practiced than Obama. But she is less candid and less likely to create the working majority needed to govern effectively. She describes herself as battle-hardened, the candidate most able to beat back the Republicans. But that's precisely the problem: She is an armored warrior in a country weary of partisan and cultural warfare...

That last point is actually a pretty huge reason why I don't support Hillary: I don't want a candidate who's declared war on the press and war on the GOP. Fighting various individual battles is all well and good and, of course, inevitable, and there is a certain element of struggle endemic in politics, I understand that, but after 8 years of George W. Bush the last thing I want is another PR president, another executive who's molds her strategies not as a problem solver or peacemaker, but as a general and lead propagandist in the red/blue kulturkampf.

After all, can you really tell me you don't see where all this us vs. them, militaristic rhetoric ultimately leads?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

an unusual "Beatles" cover

Ok, this will get your wires crossed.

City of Humanity vs. City of God

I remember growing up in the evangelical community that it was pretty common for people to assert that they are "a Christian first and an American second." Sure, people sometimes just said it in public as a way to show off the size of their faith, but judging from some polls a lot of Christians genuinely feel that way, and are likely to minimize the faith of a person who doesn't agree. I wonder if Mike Huckabee believes that? I'm pretty sure that, if he did, people would want to know that.

Think that might make a good debate/interview question? Why do you think no one's ever thought to ask him or any other candidate for any office whatsoever?

what happens if he says, "Make me!"?

dKos takes a break from obnoxious candidate-shilling and sockpuppetry to let Kagro X explain to us just how willing the president is to undermine separation of powers and even the Rule of Law, and not just in order to keep his own fat out of the fryer, but even merely as a guy who doesn't believe he can (or should) be stopped.

Riffing off of what Kagro X is arguing here, I think this is what makes it so difficult for Congress to battle the president effectively on matters of potential criminal misdeeds in the Executive. The president doesn't give an inch, he doesn't compromise, he doesn't believe in comity or bipartisanship, or oversight, for that matter. Every single move they make will be fought to the last man, every request will be denied, every demand will be stonewalled, because George W. Bush doesn't believe in governing: he believes in winning. The federal government, to him, is not a governing body that hammers out compromises in order to work together according to the will of the people; rather, it is a battleground where the Forces of Good battle the Forces of Liberal to the death, where one side must Win and the other Lose, where willingness to compromise is a sign of weakness and the desires of the masses are not something to legislate, but something to be reshaped in the Battle of Messaging that takes place right after the legislative Victory.

It's like trying to run a congress with Beowulf as president.

Furthermore, he has been convinced by the neocon cabal in the White House that, once he sends troops into another country, he is virtually omnipotent until the conflict is over. And enough Republican senators have bought into his bullshit that they will filibuster every bill he doesn't like, and vote however he wants them to on every bill, and use every legislative maneuver in the book to defeat bills he doesn't like.

How do you fight such a monster? One of 2 ways: 1. you capitulate to it, appease it until it leaves, trying to eek out as many little wins as you can get without really angering the behemoth so that it destroys as little as possible in that time-- and pray to God that another monster doesn't take its place-- or 2. you set your jaw, steel your gaze, and resolve to fight it to the death, even if that means jeopardizing the entire system, because you cannot allow it to go undefeated, you cannot allow the theory of the Unitary Executive to go irrefuted, you cannot let future presidents think that this sort of behavior is permitted.

The problem is that, in Congress, where you have to have at least a majority to do anything and nearly half the body is already working for the president, if you can't get your whole caucus to commit to the latter strategy, you're forced to accept the former.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

the torture of abu Zubaydah

my only question is: since when did former Steelers tailback Jerome Bettis become an infamous Iraqi terrorist?

Why so serious?

Apparently there is a reason to see I Am Legend.

Perhaps the best part: the closeup of Rachel Dawes reveals the sneering face not of Katie Holmes, but of Maggie Gyllenhaal. And can you believe that's Heath Ledger?

And to titillate your inner movie geek even more, it's now official: the Greatest Fantasy Book Ever Written will now become the Prequels to the Greatest Trilogy Ever Shot.

Monday, December 17, 2007

stupidest propaganda machine ever

I don't usually use my Myspace account, because, well, Myspace is kind of lame and designed for 16 year olds, but today I happened to jump on it and saw something that made my day. A buddy of mine who's having a rough time lately received some anti-gun control email forward that consisted of a long collection of moronic folk-wisdom-ly aphorisms about gun control (these forwards, as we all know, typically appeal to the lowest common denominator) and he apparently snapped, returning a point-by-point rebuttal to his entire email list.

The last one was priceless:
32. The best defense against tyranny is a well-armed populace.
I thought it was an educated population, not a bunch of ignorant hicks with deer rifles and shot guns.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Is there really no place in this world

for a kitten with a grapefruit helmet?

the connection between violence and stupidity

In the middle of this CNN article about a Muslim who helped the 3 Jews assaulted by a phalanx of Christmas warriors on the subway:
One member of the group allegedly yelled, "Oh, Hanukkah. That's the day that the Jews killed Jesus," she said.

"Mitt Romney: You used to like him"


Reuters misses the significance of Wayne Dumond

From the guilty party:
Huckabee, a former governor of Arkansas who leads the Republican field in Iowa and is rising in national polls, has his own potential Willie Horton, in the name of Wayne Dumond.

Dumond was serving a life prison term for raping a 17-year-old cheerleader in Arkansas in 1984. In 1996 his appeals for clemency attracted the attention of Huckabee, a Baptist preacher, after the inmate was said to have found religion.

Dumond gained freedom when paroled by the state's parole board -- with Huckabee's endorsement -- and moved to the Kansas City area in 1999.

Less than a year later, Carol Sue Shields died of suffocation, and Dumond was convicted in her murder. He died in prison of natural causes in 2005.

The case roiled Arkansas politics at the time and now that Huckabee's presidential campaign is rising, it is getting national attention.

Of course, it wasn't the fact that Dumond supposedly "found religion" that attracted Governor Huckabee's attention; it was the governor's need to please the rumormongering anti-Clintonites of the right wing. Wayne Dumond had become something of a cause celebre on the Right, and they had constructed an entire alternate narrative of his circumstances that they could gather in their seedy little corners of the internet and froth over. You see, it all hangs on one little detail about this case that this piece never bothered to mention: that first victim of Dumond's was a distant cousin of then-governor William Jefferson Clinton.

Now do you see where this is going?

According to the reality-challenged version concocted by conservative ideologues, Clinton then put Dumond, a father and Vietnam veteran, on trial for rape just because he wanted revenge and to advance his career. And Dumond was probably totally innocent anyway. Even worse, while he was awaiting trial, Clinton even sent some of his goons to go castrate Dumond for his alleged crimes! That sick, sick troop-hating pinko!

Well, these wankers eventually caught the ear of Clinton's successor, who was looking for some opportunity to step out from under the shadow of the Big Dawg, and he went to the mat for these guys. He pulled strings, bent the rules, and lobbied the parole board hard for his release. Huckabee was so far in the tank for these guys that he assumed they were right about Dumond without really investigating the matter for himself; people who spoke with him about it noted his ignorance of the details of the case, and at times he would even cite exculpatory evidence that only existed in conservative mythology, to the bafflement of the other actors in this play. From a fantastic Arkansas Times story:
“He [Huckabee] kept insisting that there was DNA evidence that has since exonerated Dumond, when that very much wasn’t the case,” recalled Long. “No matter that that wasn’t true … we couldn’t seem to say or do anything to disabuse him of that notion.”

In fact, there had never been any DNA testing in the Ashley Stevens case.

Had he not been blinded by desire to appease the darker elements of the Right, maybe he wouldn't have so easily dismissed evidence everyone else, included the jury that convicted him, found to be pretty compelling: Wayne Dumond had a string of crimes of this sort on his rap sheet, was suspected in a couple of other sexual assault cases that were not yet adjudicated and was positively IDed by the victim of the crime for which he was serving time. Sometimes men with these demons abuse their own bodies out of guilt or self-hatred or whatever; it's not exactly unheard-of for sex offenders to castrate themselves.

Of course, the jury, the victim, and the parole board's instincts (they originally wanted to deny parole) were proven right, and Huckabee and the ultraconservative ideologues wrong, when Dumond got out of prison, moved to Missouri, and raped and murdered a young woman there. He was also suspected in a second rape and murder in Missouri, but died in prison before the case could go to court.

Huckabee is now denying that he had a hand in Dumond's release, pinning it instead on the parole board. Tristero dispenses with that argument easily enough. It appears, however, that Huckabee doesn't really have to deny it or parse or dissemble on his role of l'Affair Dumond because our media will never get the story right.

Why is that, you may be asking? Because the underlying narrative of the story is one that the national press has considered verboten for the last 30 years: it's about the incredible disconnect from reality under which the far right labors, and the individual conservative ideologue's inability to see facts that don't support his worldview. The story is significant and noteworthy in a presidential race because it shows just how far in the tank Mike Huckabee is for far-right conspiratorialists. He doesn't just listen to them, he trusts them and believes whatever they tell him so implicitly that he'll make major governmental decisions based solely on their advice and without ever looking into the matter for himself. It's about a presidential candidate who's a terrible judge of character, who has trouble discerning truth from myth (especially when said truths seem to contradict his movement conservative, Christian fundamentalist worldview), and is easily manipulated into making poor decisions even by people with little or no credibility.

Sound at all familiar?

Yet in order to highlight this main point of the Dumond episode, you have to be willing to point out that right wing crazies seized upon Dumond's story, metamorphosed it into a sob story about the evil, conniving Bill Clinton and his heroic victim, and sold it back to a pitifully uninformed and gullible Huckabee. And you will never see a major news channel, newspaper, or magazine portray the far right in such a way. After all, we already know that the media is so scared of right wing retaliation that they'd rather let an egregiously unqualified man win the presidency than disclose his numerous flaws and risk their ire.

This is the same reason why Huckabee's evolution gaffe in the first GOP debate is so important. If you'll remember, Brian Williams (I believe) asked the entire field to raise their hand if they do NOT believe in evolution, and Huckabee raised his hand. He knew he'd screwed up afterwards and tried to dissemble on his answer, focusing instead on human evolution and abiogenesis, but the damage had been done.

Evolution, as a biological principle, is indisputably true: not only can you watch bacteria evolve in a petri dish in an afternoon, but there's a mountain of scientific evidence that evolution happens. For instance, scientists recently found that people of Germanic/northern European descent are more resistant to bubonic plague than others (and, interestingly, HIV, because it attacks cells in a similar way) because of their higher exposure to the Black Death in the Middle Ages. We have to develop new flu vaccines every year because influenza evolves, becoming more resistant to old vaccines. Conagra and Monsanto forcibly evolve corn and soybean plants, annually releasing new seeds that grow stronger, hardier, more productive crops. To deny evolution as a principle, even in the case of humans, requires a particularly acute fear of reality, a willingness to ignore an overwhelming array of evidence in order to hold onto a position that won't force you to ask uncomfortable questions.

Do we really want another president who so flagrantly denies reality when it's uncomfortable for him?

Monday, December 10, 2007

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Hillary Clinton, the best Republican candidate of this cycle

So here's Hillary, willing to make a nonsensical argument in favor of disenfranchising college students:
In a jab at Obama's efforts to encourage out-of-state students who attend college in Iowa to caucus, Clinton said the caucuses are only for people who live in this state.

"This is a process for Iowans. This needs to be all about Iowa, and people who live here, people who pay taxes here," she told the Clear Lake crowd.

So people who reside in Iowa for 9+months at a time for 4 years (and that's assuming they don't take summer school) don't "live here." And I suppose the college students who work and (one would assume) pay federal AND STATE income taxes, as well as sales taxes, etc. aren't really "paying taxes here."

And what about the working poor, whose taxes are typically refunded by the federal government? Do they deserve to vote if they don't contribute to the annual budget? What about if they actually sap funds via food stamps or WIC?

But Hillary's willing to make these asinine statements and try to discourage youth from voting if it'll cost Obama more votes. Just like she's perfectly willing to deride eliminating the cap on payroll taxes (which is at $90k/year), as a "trillion dollar tax hike on the middle class." Or willing to criticize Obama for having the audacity to say that he wouldn't drop nukes in Pakistan (which, to turn on my broken record, is a nuclear nation) by saying she "wouldn't take any options off the table." Nice FOX News impression there, Hil! Way to fight the good fight against the vast rightwing conspiracy!

Then again, what else should we expect from the candidate who voted for war with Iraq without ever bothering to read the year's NIE and that, even after 4 years of quagmire and staggering incompetence in Iraq, voted to give Bush the crucial pretext for war with Iran. What else should we expect from the candidate who sponsored a constitutional amendment criminalizing flag-burning? The candidate whose campaign is run by union-busting, Blackwater-representing Mark Penn?

Monday, December 03, 2007

Deep thought of the day

Socrates' t-shirt said, "I'm with stupid," but the arrow pointed straight up.

Conan O'Brien: since the writers' strike

On a serious note, Conan is one of the heroes of the strike; he's been paying some of the Late Night crew out of his own pocket. Contrast that with ass-kissing scab Carson Daly. Here, a still-uber-famous but darker, more wizened Conan reflects on his time since the strike: