Archive for August, 2005

Friday Quote & Cat Blogging

This week’s quote:

We’ve brought the human race to that brave plateau where insanity is now a greater problem than hunger!

– From The Formula, an incredibly boring movie about a conspiracy by the oil companies to cover up the invention of synthetic petroleum.

And, of course, I have pictures of other people’s cats…

Roger’s kitty Mocha, looking at, well, something. Posted by Picasa

3 comments August 12th, 2005 at 06:31pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Friday Quote & Cat Blogging

Consolidated Cindy@Crawford Contemplations

This is another one of those posts where I try to pull together some musings that have been scattered here and there in comments, in this case some thoughts on Cindy@Crawford, who I think is more of a threat to Bush than Plamegate could ever be.

To elaborate: Unless and until there are indictments or maybe even convictions in L’Affaire Plame, I don’t think it’s devastating, because there’s simply too much room to bandy about half-truths and technicalities and just generally obfuscate and murk things up. Oh, she wasn’t really covert. Oh, they didn’t really out her. Oh, they didn’t really know she was covert. Oh, it’s not really a crime, and anyway, the president didn’t know about it. And so on, and so on. Enough reality has seeped through to severely damage Bush’s poll numbers on honesty – which was supposed to be one of his advantages over those sleazy, morally relativist Democrats – but I don’t think it’s fatal, and I think it’s something that people will forget about when the next blonde girl runs away and gets eaten by a shark. It’ll stay in the back of their minds and they won’t trust Bush quite as unconditionally as they used to, but many of them will still trust him more than the Democrats, which is all he really needs.

On the other hand, Bush’s treatment of Cindy Sheehan damages him on multiple levels, and strikes to the very core of his carefully crafted character. Bush is supposed to be strong and resolute, but he’s afraid to “confront” the mother of a soldier who died in his war. He’s supposed to be a “compassionate conservative”, and a salt-of-the-earth man’s man who cares deeply about our troops, yet he allows his minions to tell the aforementioned mother to stay in the ditch, and threaten to arrest her. All of this exposes his cowardice, arrogance, and unaccountability in a way that the Democrats have never been able to make stick. And it does it in a way that’s almost impossible to spin or obfuscate. There are no legal technicalities here, no confusion to sow – everyone understands the situation, and everyone knows Bush is ducking and covering. So far, the talking points I’ve heard have been that Cindy flip-flopped from her initial reaction to meeting Bush, and that her dead son wouldn’t approve of what she’s doing(!), and both of those are weak and beside the point.

The only thing that would be better is if Bush actually gives in and talks to her… on camera. Remember his peevish reaction to European interviewers who were not properly deferential? Now imagine him snapping at a dead troop’s mother on national television. I suspect she would snap back, which would just make him even meaner. This could be the Dead Zone moment I’ve been waiting for, where he finally exposes his true colors for all to see.

Of course, as always, much depends on how much interest the media has in covering this story. There’s certainly a good chance that the corporate ownership will be more than willing to forgo a powerful and compelling story to protect their sugar daddy. Their ability to obsessively and breathlessly cover celebrity trials and missing white girls, even in the absence of any meaningful updates, should translate very well to this sort of long-term vigil situation.

I also wanted to make a comment about strategy: I know there’s an impulse to send as many people as possible down to Crawford for a show of solidarity, and to draw more media attention.

Don’t. Please.

Cindy doesn’t need more people to make her a more compelling story – she carries more weight as a lonely, solitary figure than she does at the center of a giant impromptu political rally. How much impact would those photos of her vigil have if she was surrounded by people waving signs and chanting slogans? More importantly, it makes her easier to frame and dismiss (and arrest) as the MoveOn-backed ringleader of an unruly, dangerous mob stalking the president. I don’t mind her having a support system of friends, and/or a posse of other war widows and bereaved mothers (just try arresting all of them, I dare you) – I just don’t want to see this turn into a Democrat-sponsored circus that makes Cindy look like a partisan tool. In other words, less really is more.

Oh, and I would be remiss if I did not mention that Viggo Mortensen stopped by “Camp Casey” today…

9 comments August 11th, 2005 at 05:26pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Cindy Sheehan,Favorites,Iraq,Libby/Plame,Media,Politics,Polls,Wankers,War

Pete Domenici, Terror-Fighting Patriotic American

Wow, I missed this one. Too bad we have a president who wants to save his veto power for stem cell research bills.

Despite widespread opposition – from the Bush administration, a majority of the Senate, leaders of the House Energy Committee, and nuclear regulators from the five preceding presidential administrations – Senator Pete Domenici, Republican of New Mexico and chairman of the Energy Committee, included an amendment that guts restrictions on the export of highly enriched uranium, the same material used in the Hiroshima atomic bomb.


The new law increases the likelihood of that nightmare scenario by allowing exports of bomb-grade uranium to foreign companies to rise to more than 100 pounds annually, thereby multiplying the odds that terrorists could steal enough for a bomb while the uranium is in transit to, or in storage at, foreign facilities.


The ill-advised amendment actually failed the only vote ever
held specifically on it by either house of Congress, in the Senate on June 23, 2005, by 52-46. The House of Representatives had slipped the provision into the energy bill without a vote, but once its ramifications became clear, both the House Energy Committee’s chairman, Republican Joe Barton from Texas, and its ranking Democrat, John Dingell from Michigan, came to oppose it. They offered Senator Domenici a compromise to neuter the provision in deference to the Senate’s vote against it.

This is where Mr. Domenici abused his power as Senate committee chair. He successfully pushed all of the Republicans he appointed to the House-Senate conference on the bill to vote for his provision – against the expressed will of the Senate. He then rejected the House’s offer to eliminate the provision, thereby strong-arming the provision into law over the bipartisan opposition of executive and legislative branch officials.

So let us all take a moment to recognize Senator Domeneci’s heroic efforts in the Global War On Terror – it’s just too bad he’s not on our side of it.

August 11th, 2005 at 12:20pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Politics,Republicans,Terrorism,Wankers

Random Thoughts

I have the perfect slogan if Missouri wants to start an ad campaign to promote itself as corporate-friendly:

Missouri loves companies!

Would the female equivalent of mensch be womensch?

1 comment August 11th, 2005 at 12:12am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Favorites,Puns

More Travelblogging

I got a bunch of really lovely cloud pictures looking out of my window to and especially from South Carolina. Here are a couple of my favorite “from” shots.

4 comments August 9th, 2005 at 09:03pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Aerial,Favorites,Photoblogging

Zero-Tolerance For Tolerance

I still don’t entirely trust Richard Cohen, and certainly not John Roberts, but Cohen did have an interesting piece about him in today’s WaPo. Seems Roberts did some very effective pro bono work for a gay anti-discrimination group back in the pre-Florida 2000 good ol’ days, and instead of enthusiastically embracing this as evidence of his moderation and balance, the right-wingers backing Roberts are trying to dismiss it as an aberration:

The White House and its allies, understandably alarmed at implications of moderation and enlightenment, were quick to suggest that Roberts was not, as some might slander him, a reasonable man. Dana Perino, a White House spokeswoman, pointed out that Roberts had spent less than 10 hours working on the gay rights case. She made it sound like a one-night stand, a youthful indiscretion for which no adult should be held accountable. Hell, we’ve all been young.

Jay Sekulow, a leader in the movement to make the high court intellectually indistinguishable from the Inquisition, rushed to explain Roberts to his constituency. This was something lawyers did. “A lot of people are commenting who don’t know about Supreme Court practice,” Sekulow said. “There’s a high degree of collegiality.” In other words, it meant nothing. Still, maybe Roberts could prove himself by beating up some gays.


As for Focus on the Family, possibly the premier organization in such matters, it portrayed Roberts as a mindless puppet of his law firm. “That’s what lawyers do — represent their firm’s clients, whether they agree with what those clients stand for or not,” it said in a statement. Of course, that’s not the case at all. “Anyone who didn’t want to work on a case for whatever matter, they didn’t have to,” said Walter A. Smith Jr., the Hogan & Hartson partner who ran the pro bono program. Oh.

The spectacle of conservative groups and the White House rushing to assure their constituencies that Roberts is not — really and truly — a tolerant man is both repulsive and absurd. In the end, this tethering of conservatism to the lost cause of homophobia will earn the rebuke of history. In the meantime, though, it puts Roberts on the spot. He might assert that he has been cruelly mischaracterized and, for benefit of career, renounce the work he had once done. But more likely his pro bono work speaks for itself. Until he says otherwise, on gay rights, he’s out of the closet.

Again, I remain unconvinced that Roberts is not a right-wing tool (although I do harbor some faint, naive hopes that he may turn out to be a Stealth Reasonable Human Being like Souter), but how creepy is it that the Right views even the slightest whiff of tolerance as toxic? Except when it comes to Great American Patriots like Condi Rice, Michelle Malkin and “Bulldog” Gannon, of course…

1 comment August 9th, 2005 at 11:54am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Judiciary,Media,Politics,Republicans,Wankers

Quote Of The Day

“When combined in a sensible way, these proxies can be used
to construct a useful index of crack.”

3 comments August 8th, 2005 at 04:28pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Quotes

Sunday Softball Blogging

Well, we didn’t have enough people for an actual game, so we just had some batting practice. That went pretty well – I hit lots of solid line drives and even a home run (Woohoo!). In the field, I got to almost everything, but didn’t actually catch a whole lot, although I did have one nice leaping, spinning catch on a line drive at third base.

Current Stats: 22 games, .556 BA (89-160), 14 2B, 1 3B, 50 runs, 28 RBI.

3 comments August 7th, 2005 at 03:19pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Softball

Belated Travelblogging

I have an abundance of photos from South Carolina to get out there, now that I’ve finally finished processing them. Didn’t really get any Breathtaking Natural Beauty shots, unless you count kudzu, but I think I still did okay (frankly, I probably wouldn’t know what to do with the Breathtaking Natural Beauty if I ever did see it…).

Spartanburg’s premiere wrestling academy wants YOU! Unless you’re boring.


Seriously, I didn’t know there was money in boring. Although, come to think of it, the ability to be directionally boring could come in really handy at parties.

2 comments August 7th, 2005 at 10:37am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Photoblogging,South Carolina

Friday Quote & Chick Blogging

This week’s quote:

Do you know what I am? I’m a manufactured personality.

From The Power, a surprisingly good, extremely obscure movie from 1968, involving psychic powers and George Hamilton when he was young and not yet a caricature.

I’m giving the various cats the night off, but it’s not a total loss…

Putting the telephoto to good use, right outside my hotel…

Too many chick pics to choose from, really. Posted by Picasa

4 comments August 5th, 2005 at 07:30pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Cuteness,Friday Quote & Cat Blogging

Freedom Is On The Moonwalk

Y’all are familiar with the moonwalk, right? The legs look like they’re walking forward, but in reality they’re sliding backward? It’s an apt description of Bush and the Republican party’s approach to democracy (not to mention the Global War On Whatever They’re Calling It These Days, but I digress): Talk a good game about how important it is and how committed you are to it, and then proceed to undermine it at every turn.

Most glaringly, consider the self-professed Johnny Democracyseed’s willingness to cozy up to dictators from Vladimir “Oh, for the good old days” Putin to Islam “Boils well that ends well” Karimov so long as they provide us a tiny crumb of nominal, half-assed support. Consider the Republican party’s eagerness to trample civil rights in the name of morality and national security. Consider the Republican battle against campaign finance reform, and their growing mastery of election-tampering. This last item is the one I want to focus on a little more here.

I was at Pittsburgh Drinking Liberally last night to meet Chuck Penacchio, an honorable and progressive Senate candidate that the PA democratic party would like to wish into the cornfield, and he brought up election reform as one of the issues that he would push for if elected. Along with media reform, this is one of my biggest hot-button issues, because without free and fair elections, we are not a democracy.

What mystifies me is that election reform is not a bigger deal. There was some kicking and screaming after 2000, which ultimately made things worse by opening the door for Diebold and their brilliant innovation of 100% paperless electronic voting. But despite the sizable pall of suspicion cast over the 2004 election, there doesn’t seem to be any urgency for verifiable voting, or fair deployment of voting machines, or for an end to purges of voter rolls. I know there are some bills in the works, but I never hear anything about them.

Why IS that? Why are Democrats not pushing election reform hard? Why are they not speaking out about it? My suspicion is that they’re afraid of being perpetually cast as the sore loser party, but I think they have an issue that is both important and powerful here, and they’re foolish and negligent not to play it up. First off, as I said before, free and fair elections are the foundation of democracy, and they need to emphasize that, preferably juxtaposed with Bush’s claims about his commitment to spreading democracy. Second off, how can anyone reasonably oppose election reform? I’ve heard the arguments against it, and they’re incredibly weak, transparent rationalizations. Democrats are forgoing the opportunity to identify themselves as the pro-Democracy party, and to force the Republicans to either cave or admit that they oppose democracy. That’s about as win-win as it gets.

I know the Democrats have a lot of other juicy targets in their sights, but most of those are symptoms of what happens when your democracy is broken. With a fair and aggressive media and a level electoral playing field, we can cut off politicians like Bush and Frist and DeLay at the source. Or, to put it a bit more colloquially, we won’t have to swat flies if we drain the swamp.

UPDATE: I just wanted to append one additional thought. I honestly don’t know for sure if the Republicans used electronic voting to steal votes from Kerry or anyone else, and I certainly have no way to prove it. What’s scary is that there’s no way to prove they didn’t.

5 comments August 5th, 2005 at 12:45pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Democrats,Elections,Favorites,Politics,Republicans

Belated Wednesday Softball Blogging

Well. Apparently a week and a half is all I need for my defensive skills to evaporate completely. Couldn’t read the ball (everything went way over my head), couldn’t handle the ball cleanly, couldn’t throw the ball… Just completely crap, really. Hitting was okay, 3-for-5 with a run and an RBI, but really nothing spectacular, including one hit that travelled about 3 feet.

But we had a delicious Argentinean barbecue after the game!

Current Stats: 22 games, .556 BA (89-160), 14 2B, 1 3B, 50 runs, 28 RBI.

Oh, that has got to leave a mark…

Mmm… cookout… Posted by Picasa

2 comments August 5th, 2005 at 01:44am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Photoblogging,Softball

OH-2, Crap.

Well, I guess it’s not a huge surprise…

My Bold Prediction: The media and the Republicans will totally ignore this district’s overwhelming redness, and push storylines of Dramatic Republican Come-From-Behind Victory, and “Are Democrats just too angry and rude to win?” I don’t think moral victories are enough here – the context will be discarded, and this election will be used to further the notion that Democrats are Losers because they’re too aggressive and mean and spineless and wimpy.

What I would love to see, and probably won’t, would be interviews with staunch Republican voters explaining why they voted Democrat or stayed home this time around. We need to change the story from the Democrats’ losing streak to the growing dissatisfaction with and turning away from the Republicans. Maybe we can make it “uncool” to vote for Republicans in 2006…

I wanted to wait until I had officially posted an “I Am Back From Vacation” entry, but I have to finish processing the photos, and by the time I got done with that, my prediction wouldn’t be much of a prediction anymore…

1 comment August 2nd, 2005 at 11:26pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Democrats,Elections,Media,Politics,Republicans

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