Archive for May, 2008

How Not To Do Pushback

Okay, so I get that the Republicans are going to do all they can to smear Scott McClellan now that he’s accused the Bush Administration of being a bunch of lying liars – it’s what they do.  But a couple of specific lines of attack kinda mystify me.

First there was Jeff Gannon, Male Prostitute, insinuating that Scottie is Teh Gay Homosexual:

What I hear about the book does not sound like the Scott McClellan I knew for two years. I can say without fear of contradiction, that I knew Scott better than any other White House correspondent or Washington reporter.

Nudge nudge, wink wink.  Because nothing destroys your credibility more than being gay.  Unless you’re Jeff Gannon, of course, in which case you’re totally believable.

The thing about this line of attack is, if Gannon is going to Go There, then he had better be damn sure that he didn’t know anyone else of note in the White House “better than any other White House correspondent or Washington reporter,” or if he did, that Scottie didn’t know bout it.

He’d also better be damn sure that no-one else of note in the White House facilitated his entree into the White House press corps knowing that he was Scottie’s boy-toy (or vice-versa).  ‘Cuz I really don’t think the Bushies want to deal with stories along the lines of, “President Bush/Karl Rove allowed gay prostitute into White House press corps for homosexual affair with White House press secretary,” although I suppose I could be wrong.

The other pushback that seems a bit strange is the one about Dubya’s cocaine use:

A close former aide to President Bush has come forward to emphatically rebut Scott McClellan’s allegation that Bush had once said that he did not remember if he had ever used cocaine.

Logan Walters, who as Bush’s longtime personal aide would have been present for a supporter phone call like the one McClellan describes, told Politico that he never heard such a conversation and that the idea of it is completely implausible.

“I never heard him say, ‘I don’t remember whether or not I’ve used cocaine’ — never heard him say anything like that,” Walters said. “It would be so strikingly out of character and inconsistent with the way he typically responded to issues and questions, it would have stood out in my mind.”

(…)

McClellan writes: “As we arrived at the suite, the governor invited me to follow him into the back room. Logan stayed in the living room area, arranging for the governor to take a phone call from a supporter.

“Bush motioned for me to sit and relax in his room while he took the call. … ‘The media won’t let go of these ridiculous cocaine rumors,’ I heard Bush say. ‘You know, the truth is I honestly don’t remember whether I tried it or not. We had some pretty wild parties back in the day, but I just don’t remember.’ … I remember thinking to myself, how can that be?”

McClellan stood by his recollection and pointed out: “Logan was not in the room. He was in the living room area.”

Walters maintained that, at the time, he was in Bush’s presence all day, every day.

“I would have reacted the same way Scott claims he reacted in the book, which is I just wouldn’t have believed him,” Walters said. “I don’t believe it’s plausible to say, ‘I don’t remember whether I used cocaine.’

“The president always showed a lot of integrity around me. I was with him in numerous public and private situations, especially during the campaign when he was talking to Karen Hughes or Karl Rove or Dan Bartlett or other traveling campaign staff.

I did not ever witness him trying to hide something. I didn’t ever witness him being dishonest about something — saying something publicly that he was inconsistent with privately. That’s not the guy I came to know.”

Well, first of all, that last quote proves that Walters is a ginormous liar – either about what he witnessed, or about being in Dubya’s vicinity for more than five minutes a day.  But even aside from that, is Dubya’s cocaine use really something you want to remind people of?  Or the lameness of Dubya’s denial, which suggests that he was in such a drug- or alcohol-induced fog that he couldn’t even remember if he’d tried cocaine?

Maybe the story’s true, maybe it isn’t (I’m inclined to believe it is, based on Dubya’s dishonesty and lack of character about, well, everything else), but is it really a great idea to remind people of it, or get them debating over whether Dubya was such a wreck of a party-boy that even coke didn’t make an impression on him?

(h/t Stoller)

May 31st, 2008 at 02:25pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Politics,Republicans,Teh Gay,Wankers

I Wonder What It Was Like…

To be Landay & Strobel in the early days of BushCo’s drumbeating for the Iraq invasion.  I figure that at first they must have been racing to get their stories out, afraid that some other news organization would beat them to the explosive scoop: White House Lying About Case For War!

And then, gradually, realizing that they weren’t actually racing against anybody.  No-one was trying to beat them to the story, no-one else wanted anything to do with it.  I wonder if they doubted their own sanity a little bit, the way that you do when you’re the only person who sees something, or thinks a certain way.  Hell, I wonder if either one of them could have sustained it alone, without someone else to reassure him that they were seeing the same things, that he wasn’t deluding himself and chasing shadows.

How sad is that, really?  The biggest story of the decade, and nobody wanted to cover it.

May 30th, 2008 at 10:18pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Iraq,Media,War

Hulloa!

Well, this is pretty cool.  And kinda funny:

The only known edition of the world’s first telephone book has just surfaced in Connecticut.

It will be auctioned along with a collection of noteworthy books and documents covering technology, science, math and philosophy over six centuries.

The 20-page directory was issued in November of 1878, just two years after Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone. The phone book contained information useful to 391 subscribers within the New Haven, Conn., area who were obviously still learning their way around the new communication device.

“Should you wish to speak to another subscriber you should commence the conversation by saying, ‘Hulloa!’” it instructs.

Tom Lecky, who is head of books and manuscripts at Christie’s auction house, which is handling the sale, told Discovery News, “The directions start off by amusingly saying, ‘Never take the telephone off the hook unless you wish to use it…When you are done talking say, ‘That is all,’ and the person spoken to should say, ‘O.K.’”

The book goes on to tell readers they should leave the “lower lip and jaw free.” They were also warned never to “use the wire more than three minutes at a time, or more than twice an hour” without first “obtaining permission from the main office.”

(…)

No phone numbers were printed in the Connecticut city’s milestone book — just the names of subscribers. It did, however, list businesses in a separate section at the end, making it the world’s first yellow pages too. The businesses included local newspapers, grocers, physicians and manufacturers.

Wow.  I can’t even begin to imagine what they would make of my Treo.  Yet another reminder of how far we’ve come technologically.  And how goofy the culture of a technology in its earliest stages can be.

That is all.

*waits patiently for someone to say O.K.*

2 comments May 30th, 2008 at 09:46pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Coolness,Technology,Weirdness

Grammar Has A Well-Known Liberal Bias

This might be the lamest defense ever:

Yesterday at a townhall meeting in Wisconsin, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) claimed that troops in Iraq are already down to “pre-surge levels”:

So I can tell you that it is succeeding. I can look you in the eye and tell you it’s succeeding. We have drawn down to pre-surge levels. Basra, Mosul and now Sadr city are quiet and it’s long and it’s hard and it’s tough and there will be setbacks.

(…)

This assertion is wrong. There are now 155,000 troops in Iraq — far above the 130,000 before the surge.

But today on a conference call with reporters, the McCain campaign tried to dismiss this factually inaccurate statement. “So what?” said Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ), a strong McCain supporter. “What does that amount to?” He added that McCain just “misspoke.” According to adviser Randy Scheunemann, McCain meant to say that troops will be eventually drawn down to pre-surge levels. From his response to the AP’s Liz Sidoti:

SIDOTI: Randy, I’m a little confused here. If the question is over the tense of the statement, why is he not wrong?

RANDY: If the question is, are we drawing down to pre-surge levels? The answer is, yes. If the question is, have we drawn down? The answer is, yes. Liz, I don’t know how to make it any clearer than that. […]

SIDOTI: He said, “We have drawn down to pre-surge levels.” And what you’re saying is, we will have drawn down to pre-surge levels by June — or, I’m sorry, by July. He was speaking in the present tense: “We have drawn down to pre-surge levels.”

RANDY: And if we want to talk about verb tenses, we can talk about verb tenses. Everybody knows — it’s been publicly announced since before April — Gen. Petraeus and Amb. Crocker testified about it extensively. It is very well-known where we are in the surge force levels and that we are drawing down to pre-surge levels. That has not been fully completed yet, but will be completed within no more than 60 days.

“Verb tenses” aside, this claim still seems to be wrong. Michael Shear of the Washington Post points to testimony by Joint Staff director for operations Lt. Gen. Carter Ham at the end of February, where he said that the Bush administration’s goal is to reduce troop levels to only 140,000:

Q: General, coming back to Iraq and the troop numbers, so what you’re saying is by the time we get to the end of July, we’re going to be at 140,000, which looks to me like we’re still talking about significantly higher than pre-surge levels in Iraq. Am I reading that correctly?

GEN. HAM: Yes.

The Politico’s Ben Smith has more from the call, including the campaign’s cries of “nitpicking.”

So I guess McCain was actually speaking in some kind of exotic conditional future tense, i.e., “we will have eventually been drawn down to pre-post-surge levels.”

May 30th, 2008 at 05:50pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Iraq,McCain,Politics,Republicans,Wankers,War

Friday Quote & Cat Blogging

This week’s quote is from the lame Richard Pryor/Gene Wilder concept comedy See No Evil, Hear No Evil, or as it’s known in German, Die Glücksjäger:

This morning, I threatened to shoot a naked woman with my erection. Now that doesn’t happen every day.

And, of course, there’ll be other people’s cats…

The shadowy and mysterious Codename B, who may be a Batman villain.

1 comment May 30th, 2008 at 11:12am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Friday Quote & Cat Blogging

More Signs That It May Not Be The GOP’s Year

Heh heh heh.  First Ogonowski doesn’t collect enough signatures to even get on the MA-SEN ballot, and the embarrassments just keep coming.

Dubya’s former internet campaign director, Mike Turk, by way of Stoller:

Feeling for Scott McLellan. Nice getting savaged for saying what everyone knows to be true anyway.

Mrs. Chuck Hagel:

According to Federal Election Commission records, Mrs. Hagel donated twice to Obama’s campaign in February for a total contribution of $500.

Staten Island:

Earlier today, we learned that the “frontrunner” for the nod [to run for disgraced Vito Fossella's seat] was someone we’d never heard of and who hadn’t been been mentioned at all, by anyone, before about lunchtime today. Lanza was out and she was the new standard bearer for the SI GOoPs. This was, of course, after Dan Donovan said “No thanks”, after Fiala  took a pass as well.

This lead dome local GOP hacks to say things like  “Talk about dysfunctional? This is dysfunctional.” Today, after learning of Lisa Giovinazzo’s apparent “frontrunnerdom”, other GOoPs  told Liz:

As one disgruntled elephant told me earlier this afternoon: “If you can’t find someone to run for a seat that was once thought to be a sure-thing for Republicans, you might as well pack it in.”Said another, thoroughly disgusted GOPer: “The Staten Island Republican Party is dead.”

You would think that things simply could not get worse for these folks, right?

WRONG.

The GOP has just nominated Todt Hill resident Frank Powers to run for Congress.Powers is right now at the podium giving his acceptance speech at the Excelsior Grand in New Dorp.

Powers is on the board of directors of Richmond University Medical Center and has served as President of the Staten Island Academy. He served on the Board of the former St. Vincent’s Medical Center for over 20 years and is a past president of the Downtown Athletic Club and past president of the Heisman Trophy Foundation. He served as Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Staten Island Institute of Arts and Sciences, and Chairman of the USS Sullivan’s’ Foundation. He is the former Chairman of the Board of St. Elizabeth Ann’s Health Care and Rehabilitation Center. He was appointed to the Board of the MTA in 2005. Powers also currently serves on the Board of Wagner College.

That’s right. This afternoon’s “frontrunner” got the cold shoulder and this guy, another guy no one has ever freakin’ heard of, got the nod. No, really. That guy in the picture, the one you’ve never even heard of.

(…)

Mr. NY-13 himself, Jonah sums it up nicely:

GOP nominates Frank Powers. Who?

The Republican Party just pulled a fast one on itself. After having 19 potential candidates they passed on and then declaring a front runner no one had ever heard of they nominated someone who wasn’t even good enough to be in those top 20….

So this guy serves on the board of a medical center that is closing clinics across the district and creating major health care concerns. He is on the board of the MTA, which mismanages transportation and funds and is the bane of existence for so many in the district. Oh but he is used to be president of the Heisman Trophy Foundation. Makes sense. He is loaded and can self finance. Congrats Republicans.

Stunning. Simply stunning.

I love the smell of meltdown in the morning.  Smells like… victory.

(h/t Brandon Friedman for the Mrs. Hagel tidbit)

May 30th, 2008 at 07:12am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Elections,Politics,Republicans

Just What L.A. Needs…

Oh. My. God.

If you ever just pick a judicial candidate randomly at the polling place– I mean who really knows one from the other, right– I hope that after you read this, you’ll never do it again. On page 7 of the Los Angeles “Official Sample Ballot” for next Tuesday’s primary is a race for Judge of the Superior Court (Office number 125). The contest hasn’t gotten any publicity. But I want you to read this:

“No person shall be a citizen of the United States unless he is a non-Hispanic white of the European race, in whom there is no ascertainable trace of Negro blood, nor more than one-eighth Mongolian, Asian, Asia Minor, Middle Eastern, Semitic, Near Eastern, American Indian, Malay or other non-European or non-white blood, provided that Hispanic whites, defined as anyone with an Hispanic ancestor, may be citizens if, in addition to meeting the aforesaid ascertainable trace and percentage tests, they are in appearance indistinguishable from Americans whose ancestral home is in the British Isles or Northwestern Europe. Only citizens shall have the right and privilege to reside permanently in the United States.”

The man who wrote that– a proposed constitutional amendment– is asking for our votes for the Superior Court. His name– well he has many names– is Bill Johnson. He also goes by the names William Daniel Johnson, Daniel Johnson and James O. Pace. He’s an attorney, a Mormon, and, as you may have concluded, a white supremacist (and Ron Paulista). The paragraph comes from his 1985 book, Amendment to the Constitution– Averting The Decline And Fall Of America in which he urges the repeal of the 14th (which defines citizenship as well as due process and equal protection under the law) and 15th (which guarantees voting rights for all citizens) Amendments. He advocates deporting tens of millions of Americans within one year. That would include… well, read his little amendment again. American Indians, Eskimos, Hawaiians won’t be citizens but they’ll have to live on reservations.

(…)

This isn’t Johnson’s first bid for elective office. When Dick Cheney resigned from Congress to become Secretary of Defense in 1989, Johnson ran for his House seat in Wyoming. He didn’t win although a GOP front group publication, All the Way, strongly backed him.

The strongest pro-majority campaign in the nation is mounting here with far-reaching implications. Congressional candidate Daniel Johnson is being blasted as a ‘white supremacist’ because he favors repatriating non-whites to Africa and scrapping affirmative action programs.

People can be so unfair sometimes.

Aside from being active in Ron Paul’s campaign, he is also a Minuteman activist and exactly the kind of person made to feel empowered by CNN resident xenophobe Lou Dobbs. Johnson’s campaign manager, Holly Clearman is also state coordinator for the Ron Paul for President campaign and is herself is a candidate for the Republican L.A. County Central Committee. They are counting on Paulistas to put him over the top. Fortunately, there are legal community newspapers that actually do the research on judicial candidates. In L.A. we have the Metropolitan News Enterprise, which dug up a lot of the facts on Johnson’s multiple identities.

Oops, looks like Paul withdrew his endorsement, but it might be (conveniently) a little late.

Um, if you’re in L.A., please don’t vote for the crazy racist man, and tell all your hip L.A. friends not to vote for him either.

1 comment May 29th, 2008 at 11:38pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Elections,Judiciary,Racism,Republicans

Monkeys + Robots = AWESOME, Pt. II

Well, okay, it’s just a robot hand - but it’s still pretty cool:

In previous studies, researchers showed that humans who had been paralyzed for years could learn to control a cursor on a computer screen with their brain waves and that nonhuman primates could use their thoughts to move a mechanical arm, a robotic hand or a robot on a treadmill.

The new experiment goes a step further. In it, the monkeys’ brains seem to have adopted the mechanical appendage as their own, refining its movement as it interacted with real objects in real time. The monkeys had their own arms gently restrained while they learned to use the added one.

(…)

In the experiment, two macaques first used a joystick to gain a feel for the arm, which had shoulder joints, an elbow and a grasping claw with two mechanical fingers.

(…)

The scientists used the computer to help the monkeys move the arm at first, essentially teaching them with biofeedback.

After several days, the monkeys needed no help. They sat stationary in a chair, repeatedly manipulating the arm with their brain to reach out and grab grapes, marshmallows and other nuggets dangled in front of them. The snacks reached the mouths about two-thirds of the time — an impressive rate, compared with earlier work.

The monkeys learned to hold the grip open on approaching the food, close it just enough to hold the food and gradually loosen the grip when feeding.

On several occasions, a monkey kept its claw open on the way back, with the food stuck to one finger. At other times, a monkey moved the arm to lick the fingers clean or to push a bit of food into its mouth while ignoring a newly presented morsel.

The animals were apparently freelancing, discovering new uses for the arm, showing “displays of embodiment that would never be seen in a virtual environment,” the researchers wrote.

“In the real world, things don’t work as expected,” said the senior author of the paper, Dr. Andrew Schwartz, a professor of neurobiology at the University of Pittsburgh. “The marshmallow sticks to your hand or the food slips, and you can’t program a computer to anticipate all of that.

“But the monkeys’ brains adjusted. They were licking the marshmallow off the prosthetic gripper, pushing food into their mouth, as if it were their own hand.”

(…)

…Dr. Schwartz’s team, Dr. Donoghue’s group and others are working on all of the problems, and the two macaques’ rapid learning curve in taking ownership of a foreign limb gives scientists confidence that the main obstacles are technical and, thus, negotiable.

In an editorial accompanying the Nature study, Dr. John F. Kalaska, a neuroscientist at the University of Montreal, argued that after such bugs had been worked out, scientists might even discover areas of the cortex that allow more intimate, subtle control of prosthetic devices.

Such systems, Dr. Kalaska wrote, “would allow patients with severe motor deficits to interact and communicate with the world not only by the moment-to-moment control of the motion of robotic devices, but also in a more natural and intuitive manner that reflects their overall goals, needs and preferences.”

The potential really is amazing.  And, sadly, we have an ever-increasing group of combat veterans who could really benefit from it.

May 29th, 2008 at 10:29pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Coolness,Science,Technology

Guns Don’t Kill People…

…Shaking hands with American politicians kills people.

John McCain invited Barack Obama for a photo-op trip to Iraq together: (h/t Needlenose)

Over the weekend, Sen. Lindsey Graham, one of McCain’s top surrogates, laid the groundwork for McCain’s criticism in a television interview in which he noted Obama’s absence from Iraq and floated the idea that Obama and McCain should go together to be briefed by Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

Asked whether he’d be willing to take such a trip, McCain told the AP: “Sure. It would be fine.”

“I go back every few months because things are changing in Iraq,” he said. McCain questioned whether Obama has ever been briefed by Petraeus. “I would also seize that opportunity to educate Senator Obama along the way.”

The Obama campaign quickly responded in the negative:

(…)

Of course, Obama is right. This is nothing more than a cheap political stunt. But it’s worse than that. George Bush and John McCain love to take pictures with their Iraqi “friends” but those friends have a disturbing habit of turning up dead shortly thereafter:

The fact is, people are dying for these photo-ops. Being associated with the U.S. is bad enough in a country where every side seems to be against us. Being publicly photographed shaking the enemy’s hand is literally a death sentence.

Whatever the way forward is in Iraq, our politicians need to stop using Iraqi stooges for political gain. You don’t need to have been there to be taken seriously when talking about the war, and you certainly don’t need a picture of your with a scared looking sheik to be legitimate. So don’t go to Iraq! All you are doing is making your friends into targets.

Obama was right to deny McCain’s political stunt. These photo-ops kill people.

Hey, what’s a few more dead Iraqis when American votes are at stake?  Surely the competence and awesomeness of a McCain presidency would end up saving far more Iraqi lives than would be snuffed out by a thoughtless dog-and-pony tour, right?  Yes, I’m sure that must be correct.

May 29th, 2008 at 09:34pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Iraq,McCain,Politics,Republicans,Wankers,War

Vindication!

For over three years, I have been saying that the media isn’t pro-Republican because of incompetence or right-wing intimidation or even a mindless quest for ratings, but because it’s what their corporate ownership wants. Well, Jessica Yellin just confirmed it on Anderson Cooper 360:

COOPER: Jessica, [former White House press secretary Scott] McClellan took press to task for not upholding their reputation. He writes: “The national press corps was probably too deferential to the White House and to the administration in regard to the most important decision facing the nation during my years in Washington, the choice over whether to go to war in Iraq. The ‘liberal media’ — in quotes — didn’t live up to its reputation. If it had, the country would have been better served.”

Dan Bartlett, former Bush adviser, called the allegation “total crap.”

What is your take? Did the press corps drop the ball?

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I wouldn’t go that far.

I think the press corps dropped the ball at the beginning. When the lead-up to the war began, the press corps was under enormous pressure from corporate executives, frankly, to make sure that this was a war that was presented in a way that was consistent with the patriotic fever in the nation and the president’s high approval ratings.

And my own experience at the White House was that, the higher the president’s approval ratings, the more pressure I had from news executives — and I was not at this network at the time — but the more pressure I had from news executives to put on positive stories about the president.

(…)

COOPER: You had pressure from news executives to put on positive stories about the president?

YELLIN: Not in that exact — they wouldn’t say it in that way, but they would edit my pieces. They would push me in different directions. They would turn down stories that were more critical and try to put on pieces that were more positive, yes. That was my experience.

There you have it.  It’s not bad or lazy or timid reporting; the editorial direction is actually coming from corporate and news executives who are actively promoting a pro-Republican bias.  The good news is that stories like McClellan’s and Yellin’s are seeping out, on top of the propaganda generals and Tim Russert’s role as a safe haven for White House talking points.

All of this erodes the corporate media’s credibility as objective, much less liberal, news sources – which will hopefully lead to more and more people seeking out alternatives.  We’ll be here, waiting.

1 comment May 29th, 2008 at 08:37pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Media,Politics,Republicans

Incurious Howie

I meant to touch on this yesterday, but couldn’t find the time.  Howie Kurtz has a piece in which he very sympathetically covers Republican accusations that MSNBC is too liberal (and Clinton campaign accusations that it’s too Pro-bama):

MSNBC, which bills itself as “the place for politics,” is being pummeled by political practitioners.

“It’s an organ of the Democratic National Committee,” says Steve Schmidt, a senior strategist for John McCain’s campaign. “It’s a partisan advocacy organization that exists for the purpose of attacking John McCain.”

Ed Gillespie, President Bush’s counselor, says there is an “increasing blurring” of the line between NBC News and MSNBC’s “blatantly partisan talk show hosts like Christopher Matthews and Keith Olbermann.”

Terry McAuliffe, chairman of Hillary Clinton’s campaign, says Matthews has been “in the tank” for Barack Obama “from Day One” and is practically “the Obama campaign chair.”

Why are operatives from across the political spectrum suddenly beating up on the third-place cable channel? Phil Griffin, the NBC senior vice president who runs MSNBC, dismisses the criticism, calling Schmidt’s broadsides “pretty outrageous accusations.”

“To call us an arm of the DNC is a joke,” he says. “We have people with multiple points of view. Everyone is getting a little thin-skinned. We argue and debate every topic.”

The focus of the attacks is MSNBC’s evening lineup, where the channel has clearly gravitated to the left in recent years and often seems to regard itself as the antithesis of Fox News. Schmidt, for instance, says he regards MSNBC’s daytime reporting as fair, but that it would be “delusional” to view its nighttime operation as anything other than a “partisan entity.”

(…)

NBC News President Steve Capus says the distinctions between reporting and opinion are clear. “We happen to have programs that at times are driven by opinion on MSNBC, and we have a worldwide news organization driven by NBC News,” he says. “The only people trying to lump it all together are people who tend to view these things through a political filter or are our competitors.”

But news and opinion often seem to merge on primary nights. MSNBC’s coverage is anchored by Matthews, a onetime Democratic operative, and Olbermann, the “Countdown” host who recently finished one anti-Bush commentary by instructing the president to “shut the hell up.”

Oh, I see.  Because Matthews is “a onetime Democratic operative,” that makes him a liberal?  He does call Republicans out on obvious bullshit, but his embarrassing man-crushes on Dubya and Mitt Romney make the idea that he’s a liberal simply laughable.  And I don’t think he’s Pro-bama so much as just ridiculously misogynistic.  As for Olbermann being a liberal, well… yeah.

But here’s the bit that struck me as intriguing, but apparently not Howie:

NBC executives say the ratings growth at MSNBC — up 61 percent this month in prime time, compared with a year ago — has made it a target.

Huh.  61% seems like a pretty big increase to me.  Funny that Howie chooses not to explore that growth at all.  Could it be that MSNBC is attracting viewers who don’t want all-GOP-talking-points, all the time?  It certainly seems like there should be a market for a news channel like that, especially as those GOP talking points get more shrill and less credible.

Now that would have made an interesting story.

2 comments May 29th, 2008 at 07:42pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Media,Politics,Republicans,Wankers

Strange-But-Cool

Here’s a little bit of lunchtime coolness/weirdness:

CARRIE DASHOW dropped a large dollop of lemon sorbet into a glass of Guinness, stirred, drank and proclaimed that it tasted like a “chocolate shake.”

Nearby, Yuka Yoneda tilted her head back as her boyfriend, Albert Yuen, drizzled Tabasco sauce onto her tongue. She swallowed and considered the flavor: “Doughnut glaze, hot doughnut glaze!”

They were among 40 or so people who were tasting under the influence of a small red berry called miracle fruit at a rooftop party in Long Island City, Queens, last Friday night. The berry rewires the way the palate perceives sour flavors for an hour or so, rendering lemons as sweet as candy.

The host was Franz Aliquo, 32, a lawyer who styles himself Supreme Commander (Supreme for short) when he’s presiding over what he calls “flavor tripping parties.” Mr. Aliquo greeted new arrivals and took their $15 entrance fees. In return, he handed each one a single berry from his jacket pocket.

“You pop it in your mouth and scrape the pulp off the seed, swirl it around and hold it in your mouth for about a minute,” he said. “Then you’re ready to go.” He ushered his guests to a table piled with citrus wedges, cheeses, Brussels sprouts, mustard, vinegars, pickles, dark beers, strawberries and cheap tequila, which Mr. Aliquo promised would now taste like top-shelf Patrón.

The miracle fruit, Synsepalum dulcificum, is native to West Africa and has been known to Westerners since the 18th century. The cause of the reaction is a protein called miraculin, which binds with the taste buds and acts as a sweetness inducer when it comes in contact with acids, according to a scientist who has studied the fruit, Linda Bartoshuk at the University of Florida’s Center for Smell and Taste. Dr. Bartoshuk said she did not know of any dangers associated with eating miracle fruit.

During the 1970s, a ruling by the Food and Drug Administration dashed hopes that an extract of miraculin could be sold as a sugar substitute. In the absence of any plausible commercial application, the miracle fruit has acquired a bit of a cult following.

(…)

[Aliquo] believes that the best way to encounter the fruit is in a group. “You need other people to benchmark the experience,” he said. At his first party, a small gathering at his apartment in January, guests murmured with delight as they tasted citrus wedges and goat cheese. Then things got trippy.

“You kept hearing ‘oh, oh, oh,’ ” he said, and then the guests became “literally like wild animals, tearing apart everything on the table.”

“It was like no holds barred in terms of what people would try to eat, so they opened my fridge and started downing Tabasco and maple syrup,” he said.

(…)

The fruits are available by special order from specialty suppliers in New York, including Baldor Specialty Foods and S. Katzman Produce. Katzman sells the berries for about $2.50 a piece, and has been offering them to chefs.

Mr. Aliquo gets his miracle fruit from Curtis Mozie, 64, a Florida grower who sells thousands of the berries each year through his Web site, www.miraclefruitman.com. (A freezer pack of 30 berries costs about $90 with overnight shipping.) Mr. Mozie, who was in New York for Mr. Gollner’s reading, stopped by the flavor-tripping party.

Mr. Mozie listed his favorite miracle fruit pairings, which included green mangoes and raw aloe. “I like oysters with some lemon juice,” he said. “Usually you just swallow them, but I just chew like it was chewing gum.”

A large group of guests reached its own consensus: limes were candied, vinegar resembled apple juice, goat cheese tasted like cheesecake on the tongue and goat cheese on the throat. Bananas were just bananas.

Amazing, and hard to imagine.  I’m tempted to try this someday.

4 comments May 29th, 2008 at 11:19am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Coolness,Weirdness

No Silver Lining

As much as I like Olivia Judson, I think she’s kinda off the mark here:

…[E]ach mass extinction has been followed by a pulse of fresh evolutionary change: large numbers of new forms appear. The reason is that before the mass extinction, most niches are occupied — a situation that typically prevents radical changes. Afterwards, many niches are empty and available for re-occupation — which promotes rapid change….

Taking the long view, then, the extinctions we are causing may open the way to a burst of evolutionary invention, the creation of new forms even more remarkable than those around today.

I really wish that I could believe that.  The problem is, as long as humans go on being humans, the manmade stresses on – or outright destruction of – those niches will continue, and will kill off any emerging species just as surely as they killed off the existing ones.  This clean slate/renewal model only works when the mass extinctions are caused by a one-time catastrophic event, not a catastrophic event that hangs around, continuing to be catastrophic, for millenia upon millenia.

To be completely fair, Judson talks about a 10 million year timeframe for new species to emerge, so there’s a chance that mankind will have either died out, moved on, or changed its ways by then.  Although there’s an even better chance that we will have wrecked the planet beyond repair well before then, leaving nothing but wasteland behind for prospective new species to occupy.

And that’s your cheery thought for the day.

2 comments May 29th, 2008 at 07:18am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Science

More Hageeography

Boy, it sure is a good thing McCain cut ties to Pastor Hagee, or people might really question his judgment for seeking this guy’s endorsement:

Writer Matt Taibbi has a hilarious account of going undercover to the camp of former John McCain supporter Rev. John Hagee. One highlight is requiring the faithful to throw up “demons” that range from “incest” to “hand-writing analysis.” When reading the article below, keep in mind that these people are allowed to vote, drive, and have children.

One of the funnier moments came with Taibbi sharing his “wound” and the best he could come up with was that his alcoholic circus clown father would beat him with his over-sized shoes. Yet, the greatest moment came with the spiritual puking when the faithful were told not to pray because the demons would not leave through their mouth if Jesus was there.

“When the word of God is in your mouth,” he said, “the demons can’t come out of your body. You have to keep a path clear for the demon to come up through your throat. So under no circumstances pray to God. You can’t have God in your mouth. You can cough, you might even want to vomit, but don’t pray.”

The crowd nodded along solemnly. Fortenberry then explained that he was going to read from an extremely long list of demons and cast them out individually. As he did so, we were supposed to breathe out, keep our mouths open and let the demons out.

And he began.
. . .
“In the name of Jesus, I cast out the demon of incest! In the name of Jesus, I cast out the demon of sexual abuse! In the name of Jesus. . . .”
. . .
“In the name of Jesus,” continued Fortenberry, “I cast out the demon of astrology!”

Coughing and spitting noises. Behind me, a bald white man started to wheeze and gurgle, like he was about to puke. Fortenberry, still reading from his list, pointed at the man. On cue, a pair of life coaches raced over to him and began to minister. One dabbed his forehead with oil and fiercely clutched his cranium; the other held a paper bag in front of his mouth.

“In the name of Jesus Christ,” said Fortenberry, more loudly now, “I cast out the demon of lust!”

And the man began power-puking into his paper baggie. I couldn’t see if any actual vomitus came out, but he made real hurling and retching noises.
. . .
“In the name of Jesus Christ, I cast out the demon of cancer!” said Fortenberry.

“Oooh! Unnh! Unnnnnh!” wailed a woman in the front row.

“Bleeech!” puked the bald man behind me.

Within about a minute after that, the whole chapel erupted in pandemonium. About half the men and three-fourths of the women were writhing around and either play-puking or screaming. Not wanting to be a bad sport, I raised my hand for one of the life coaches to see.

“Need . . . a . . . bag,” I said as he came over.

He handed me a bag.

“In the name of Jesus, I cast out the demon of handwriting analysis!” shouted Fortenberry.

Handwriting analysis? I jammed the bag over my mouth and started coughing, then went into a very real convulsion of disbelief as I listened to this astounding list, half-laughing and half-retching.

“In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, I cast out the demon of the intellect!” Fortenberry continued. “In the name of Jesus, I cast out the demon of anal fissures!”

I looked for a denial from Hagee’s church, but could not find one….

Intellect is a demon.  And anal fissures.  All you need to know, really.

(h/t Phoenix Woman)

May 28th, 2008 at 11:55pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: McCain,Republicans

And Now, Your Moment Of BWAHAHA.

Ever get the feeling that this just might not be your year?

When the deadline for certification passed yesterday, Jim Ogonowski, the Republican leadership’s choice to challenge US Senator John F. Kerry, was 82 signatures short of qualifying for the GOP primary ballot, according to the state’s central voter registry.

But Ogonowski’s campaign aides contend there are enough certified signatures at various town offices around the state not filed yet on the computerized registry to put him across the 10,000 threshold.

(…)

“We are confident that we have the required amount of signatures,” said Alicia Preston, Ogonowski’s press secretary.

Even if Ogonowski does get the 82 signatures he needs, his fight probably is not over.

Election specialists say he will not have the needed cushion of extra signatures to insulate himself from legal challenges.

Ogonowski’s only primary opponent, Jeff Beatty, is expected to challenge the validity of his signatures before the ballot law commission.

Wow.  What a complete organizational collapse.  Er, um, I mean, this can only be good for Republicans.  It will, uh, free up NRSC resources for other, more competitive races!  Yeah, that’s it!  They totally meant to do that!

1 comment May 28th, 2008 at 09:13pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Elections,Politics,Republicans

Al Qaeda Is Not A Truck

See, this is the sort of thing that happens when you don’t have Joe Correcterman to whisper in your ear:

[Ted Stevens on] KFQD with conservative talk show host Dan Fagan:

We expect Al Qaeda to come out some time today with a new manifesto where they ought to be using weapons of mass destruction against the United States. That means that they’re realizing they can’t win in Iraq. I think they’re going to change their way of doing business. And I think we have to be on the alert. These people are all over the world. Al Qaeda’s not just in Iraq. They’re in Iran. They’re in the Philippines. Sen Inouye and I went down to [indistinguishable]. They’re over in Indonesia. They’re all over.

This sounds strange at first, until you realize that al Qaeda is actually a series of tubes.

1 comment May 28th, 2008 at 06:44pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Iran,McCain,Republicans,Terrorism,War

Wednesday Why-I-Love-The-Weekly-World-News Blogging

Very superstitious…

“People know that bad luck is supposed to befall anyone whose path is crossed by a black cat,” said superstition expert David Goth. “However, my findings indicate that cats are only one of many ominous creatures to be avoided.”

While researching the Salem Witch Trials last month, Goth discovered a book called Black Beasts.

“It was hidden in the floorboards of a house that belonged to the first coven to dwell in the town,” said Goth. “It’s over four hundred years old and details a number of hitherto unknown spells and curses. But I was most interested in the reported consequences of encountering other black animals.”

The first cursed animals mentioned in Black Beasts were goats.

“While not much of a problem now, people often had black goats cross their paths in the 1600s, when farmers commonly walked them through the town,” said Goth. “Little did these agrarian people know that they were causing the facial hair of onlookers to grow one hundred times faster than normal.”

Goth released a list of other hexed creatures that witches used to work evil spells. Among them were:

Black flies: They make people deathly allergic to insect bites.

Black horses: They give people huge sores on their seats.

Black birds: They make people fall out of love with their spouses.

Black bats: They trap the blood in a person’s head and cause terrible migraines.

Black bears: They put people into a coma for several months.

Black squirrels: They drive people nuts.

“This book could explain a number of mysterious maladies that people have suffered over the years,” said Goth. “I was most intrigued by the animal that caused family members to suddenly hate and ostracize the person whose path it crossed.

“I’m definitely going to stay away from black sheep from now on.”

“David Goth”?

May 28th, 2008 at 11:20am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Weekly World News

Et Tu, Scotté?

I’m not the least bit surprised by the revelations/accusations, but I am pretty surprised by the source:

Former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan writes in a surprisingly scathing memoir to be published next week that President Bush “veered terribly off course,” was not “open and forthright on Iraq,” and took a “permanent campaign approach” to governing at the expense of candor and competence.

Among the most explosive revelations in the 341-page book, titled “What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception” (Public Affairs, $27.95):

• McClellan charges that Bush relied on “propaganda” to sell the war.

• He says the White House press corps was too easy on the administration during the run-up to the war.

• He admits that some of his own assertions from the briefing room podium turned out to be “badly misguided.”

• The longtime Bush loyalist also suggests that two top aides held a secret West Wing meeting to get their story straight about the CIA leak case at a time when federal prosecutors were after them — and McClellan was continuing to defend them despite mounting evidence they had not given him all the facts.

• McClellan asserts that the aides — Karl Rove, the president’s senior adviser, and I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, the vice president’s chief of staff — “had at best misled” him about their role in the disclosure of former CIA operative Valerie Plame’s identity.

(…)

The eagerly awaited book, while recounting many fond memories of Bush and describing him as “authentic” and “sincere,” is harsher than reporters and White House officials had expected.

McClellan was one of the president’s earliest and most loyal political aides, and most of his friends had expected him to take a few swipes at his former colleague in order to sell books but also to paint a largely affectionate portrait.

Instead, McClellan’s tone is often harsh. He writes, for example, that after Hurricane Katrina, the White House “spent most of the first week in a state of denial,” and he blames Rove for suggesting the photo of the president comfortably observing the disaster during an Air Force One flyover. McClellan says he and counselor to the president Dan Bartlett had opposed the idea and thought it had been scrapped.

But he writes that he later was told that “Karl was convinced we needed to do it — and the president agreed.”

“One of the worst disasters in our nation’s history became one of the biggest disasters in Bush’s presidency. Katrina and the botched federal response to it would largely come to define Bush’s second term,” he writes. “And the perception of this catastrophe was made worse by previous decisions President Bush had made, including, first and foremost, the failure to be open and forthright on Iraq and rushing to war with inadequate planning and preparation for its aftermath.”

(…)

“I still like and admire President Bush,” McClellan writes. “But he and his advisers confused the propaganda campaign with the high level of candor and honesty so fundamentally needed to build and then sustain public support during a time of war. … In this regard, he was terribly ill-served by his top advisers, especially those involved directly in national security.”

(…)

McClellan repeatedly embraces the rhetoric of Bush’s liberal critics and even charges: “If anything, the national press corps was probably too deferential to the White House and to the administration in regard to the most important decision facing the nation during my years in Washington, the choice over whether to go to war in Iraq.

“The collapse of the administration’s rationales for war, which became apparent months after our invasion, should never have come as such a surprise. … In this case, the ‘liberal media’ didn’t live up to its reputation. If it had, the country would have been better served.”

Wow.  History’s judgment continues to trickle out, doesn’t it.  My only complaint is that Scottie is a little too willing to let Dubya personally off the hook and blame everything on his advisers.  Who hired the advisers?  Who made the decision to listen to them even when their advice was obviously flawed at best, insane and evil at worst?  Bush is either a monster or a chump, and history will not be kind either way.

May 28th, 2008 at 07:20am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Books,Bush,Cheney,Corruption/Cronyism,Iraq,Libby/Plame,Politics,Republicans,Rove

This Sounds Familiar…

Can’t fault the Republicans for lack of chutzpah…

You’d think with a presidential candidate who sought the endorsement of someone who praised Hitler (yes, you Mr. Hagee), they’d be careful not to get into Holocaust talk.

But then again, this is the RNC we’re talking about.

Barack Obama made a statement referencing his great uncle’s helping liberate Auschwitz. It turns out it was Ohrduf he helped liberate, which was a subcamp of the infamous Buchenwald. Obama made a mistake, yet the important part of the story was correct.

But leave it to the RNC to even politicize the Holocaust. Even Alex Castellanos, he of the infamous “black hands” Jesse Helms ad, thinks this criticism is beyond the pale:

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It’s the Al Gore Fibber McFibbypants playbook all over again.  Looks like the GOP is going to try to make Obama out to be the bastard child of Algore and Johnkerry.  And if McCain manages to lure Obama out to Iraq with him, they may manage a Dukakis moment as well. (I personally would like to see Obama walking around, pointing and saying, “Dog. Pony. Dog dog dog, pony pony pony,” but that would probably be out of character…

May 27th, 2008 at 10:52pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Comics,Elections,Obama,Politics,Republicans,Wankers

Totally-Not-Demolition Photoblogging

As promised, here are a couple of non-demolition photos.  Enjoy!

Red Black &Yellow Flowers 1

Flowers! Of, um, some kind.

Sun Lamp

The latest installment of the Eli Takes Pictures Of Things With The Sun Directly Behind Them series.

2 comments May 27th, 2008 at 11:19am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Photoblogging,Pittsburgh

Hagee Holocaust Comments Don’t Bother Lieberman

I wonder if Lieberman’s purpose in life now is to make McCain look good by comparison:

Senator Joseph Lieberman is scheduled to headline Pastor John Hagee’s 2008 Christians United For Israel Washington-Israel Summit this July 22. In accepting Hagee’s invitation, Lieberman became the most senior elected representative confirmed to appear at the annual gala. Last year, when Lieberman spoke at Hagee’s summit, he compared the Texas televangelist to the biblical prophet Moses, dubbing him “an Ish Elochim,” or “a man of God.” Unless he rescinds his pledge to appear at this year’s summit, Lieberman can be expected to deliver another soul-stirring tribute.

Hagee’s vitriolic condemnation of Catholicism, his jeremiad declaring Hurricane Katrina divine punishment for New Orleans’ hosting of a “homosexual rally,” and his generally disturbing apocalyptic theology became national news last February when John McCain accepted his endorsement in a widely publicized ceremony.

While initially resisting pressure to reject Hagee’s endorsement, McCain finally ended his relationship with Hagee when a sermon by the preacher describing the Holocaust as the will of God registered on the mainstream media’s radar (Hear the now-infamous sermon here).

(…)

Lieberman was aware of many of Hagee’s vile statements well before McCain renounced him. On May 13, Fox News’ Megyn Kelly asked Lieberman to respond the gathering criticism of Hagee’s remarks. But instead of distancing himself from Hagee’s views as McCain had, Lieberman launched into a spirited defense of the televangelist, describing him as someone who “represents a lot of people in this country, particularly Christians who care about the state of Israel.”

At the time, prior to McCain’s sweeping renunciation, Lieberman could have reasonably claimed to be unaware of the preacher’s repugnant views on the Holocaust. Now, he has no excuse for ignorance….

So why the silence? Why won’t Lieberman, who is married to the daughter of Holocaust survivors, end his relationship with Hagee as well? … If Lieberman plans to continue touting his moral fiber and independence as his greatest assets, he must renounce the hate-mongering Hagee.

Wow.  So describing the Holocaust as essentially a good thing – or at least useful – and Hitler as God’s “hunter” driving the Jews to Israel is more offensive to John McCain than to Joe Lieberman?

I’m already in favor of booting Joe out of the Democratic Party – now I’m wondering if he can be excommunicated from Judaism as well. (“He’s with us on everything except the Holocaust…”)

1 comment May 27th, 2008 at 07:19am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Lieberman,Religion,Republicans,Wankers

Monday Media Blogging – Sci-Fi Edition

Okay, I know Battlestar Galactica and Heroes and Lost, and maybe even Dr. Who & Torchwood (if they’re not, they should be) are all the rage these days, but I wanted to call attention to some science-fiction series which I really enjoyed back in the day which were maybe not so well-known.  Well, not well-known outside the geek community, anyway.

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Yo way yo, home va rey…

The first half of the intro is the anthem/theme song/battlecry of the Brunnen-G, a race that was wiped out by the evil empire.  Said empire also turned Kai, the last surviving Brunnen-G (that dark-haired goth-looking guy) into an undead indestructible assassin, and stole their insect-based technology to create the giant superpowerful bug-ship called The Lexx.

In addition to Kai and The Lexx, the cast includes Zev/Xev, who was partially programmed as a pleasure slave and now lusts after everyone except… Stanley Tweedle, a cowardly loser mechanic, and 790, a robot head who accidentally got some of the same pleasure slave treatment as Zev/Xev and is now obsessively devoted to her.  They stole The Lexx from the evil empire, and travel around having Bizarre Adventures.

The first four installments were movie-length, under the name Tales From A Parallel Universe, and featured special guest stars such as Barry Bostwick(!), Tim Curry, Rutger Hauer, and Malcolm MacDowell.  After that, the show was renamed Lexx, Zev became Xev (actress change), and it went to an hour-long format with no special guest stars.  After a couple of good seasons, the series bogged down interminably on a pair of planets called Fire and Water whose novelty wore off after about five minutes, but eventually rallied sometime after I gave up on it.

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Alas, all of the best videos had embedding disabled – I recommend starting with They’re Dead, Dave for background.

Red Dwarf was structurally similar to Lexx (small group of misfits roaming the galaxy in an enormous/buglike talking ship having Bizarre Adventures), but much more of a pure comedy – in fact, it was one of the funniest shows ever, in any genre.

The basic premise was that the entire crew of the giant ship Red Dwarf died from a radiation leak, except for easygoing charismatic slob Lister, who was in stasis as punishment for hiding a cat on board.  However, his priggish roommate Rimmer, who caused the radiation leak, is still around as a hologram.

Also, because the ship’s computer (Holly, a character in his own right) kept Lister in stasis for millenia until the radiation subsided, it turns out that the descendants of Lister’s pregnant cat (safe in the shielded cargo hold) evolved into almost-human (and extremely vain and lazy) sentient beings, the last of whom, Cat, joins the crew.  What happened to the other cat-people is a bit vague, although they apparently managed to escape somehow.  They pick up a fussy, timid servant robot named Kryten somewhere along the way as well.  Fun times.

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The Bablyon project was our last best hope for peace.  It failed.

Babylon 5 was probably the most truly epic TV series I have ever seen, with a five-year story arc putting the giant Babylon 5 space station at the center of the galaxy’s struggle against The Shadows, an ancient, evil race that has recently reawakened.  Lots of aliens, political maneuverings, and pretty decent CGI space battles.

There’s much more to it than that, of course, but I don’t want to give too much away.  Also, an eclectic cast that includes Bruce Boxleitner (Tron!), Claudia Christian (Hexed, The Hidden), Mira Furlan (Rousseau from Lost), Stephen Furst (Animal House), and Jeff Conaway (Taxi), with occasional guest appearances from Walter Koenig (Chekhov you know who Walter Koenig is) as a creepy psychic bad guy.

I recommend all three series in the strongest possible terms, so if they ever show up on TV again, or if you have a chance to buy or borrow them, be sure to check them out.  There’s a lot of clips out there on YouTube if you want to get a feel for the shows first.

1 comment May 26th, 2008 at 03:36pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Monday Media Blogging

Happy Memorial Day From Bob Geiger

I think I may have actually found someone who hates Dubya more than I do – and with good reason.

Dead Troops Remembered By President Who Had Them Killed

Yes, that’s a harsh headline for this piece.

But I’ll ask you to forgive me because, as a Veteran, there isn’t a day on the calendar that causes my hatred — and I do indeed mean hatred — of George W. Bush to bubble over the top more than Memorial Day.

“On Memorial Day, we honor the heroes who have laid down their lives in the cause of freedom, resolve that they will forever be remembered by a grateful Nation, and pray that our country may always prove worthy of the sacrifices they have made,” reads Bush’s official Memorial Day proclamation, issued by the White House on Thursday.

The Chickenhawk-in Chief says a lot of things that make this Vet’s blood boil but stuff like saying that he prays “…that our country may always prove worthy of the sacrifices they have made” is almost vomit inducing.

This statement comes from the same man who himself began dishonoring the sacrifices of all Veterans in such huge ways in March of 2003, when he invaded Iraq behind a veil of lies and deceit and started spilling barrels of military and civilian blood to start a war with a country that posed no threat whatsoever to our national security. These stirring words of remembrance come from an administration that began with a stolen election in 2000, which goes entirely against what I was taught way back when I was in the U.S. Navy, which was that part of the “way of life” we were protecting was symbolized by the ability of all of our citizens to have their votes counted.

“These courageous and selfless warriors have stepped forward to protect the Nation they love, fight for America’s highest ideals, and show millions that a future of liberty is possible,” continues Bush’s proclamation. “Americans are grateful to all those who have put on our Nation’s uniform and to their families, and we will always remember their service and sacrifice for our freedoms.”

The words Bush puts forth are true — it’s him being the one to say them that I find so sickening and personally offensive.

It is positively nauseating to have George W. Bush ever talk to us about “America’s highest ideals” when his administration has started a bloody war for no reason, imprisoned those suspected of being “terrorists” without trial or benefit of legal counsel, tortured prisoners in America’s name and done everything but grab the original U.S. Constitution from the National Archives and run it through a paper shredder.

I also don’t believe for one minute that the majority of the planet now holds our country in such extreme contempt because we’re right and they don’t understand our “highest ideals.” This Veteran will go to his grave believing that the years 2000 through 2008 were a dark time in our history when much of what I believed when I served in uniform was made invalid and debased.

According to the Defense Department, we have now lost 4,082 men and women in Bush’s war of choice in Iraq and we should not allow the man who sent them needlessly to their deaths to lead our nation today in mourning their loss. Make no mistake about it, George W. Bush is as responsible for the deaths of those men and women as if he himself had fired the bullet or set the IED that ended their lives.

(…)

The least Bush can do is stay in the White House today, keep his lying mouth shut and understand deep in his craven soul that the next day the Congress should declare a national holiday is January 20, 2009, the day he leaves office and his days of dishonoring our war dead are forever done.

The thing is, Dubya – and Republicans in general – know that the troops are iconic, and held in the highest esteem by Americans in general, and conservative Americans in particular.  So he gushes about their courage and poses with them and bathes in their reflected glory every chance he gets… but he doesn’t actually give a damn about them, or about any other American making under $1,000,000 a year.

What’s amazing to me is that this isn’t obvious to everybody.

1 comment May 26th, 2008 at 01:36pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Blogosphere,Bush,Iraq,War

Libertarian Party Bellies Up To The Barr

Awesome:

Former US congressman Bob Barr was chosen Sunday to be the Libertarian Party’s candidate for November’s presidential election, a move that could hurt Republican presumptive nominee John McCain.

(…)

The 59-year-old told reporters earlier this month that he was running because no other presidential candidate understood the principles of fiscal conservatism and basic principles on which he said America was founded.

Barr appeared unconcerned about damaging McCain’s support among conservative voters.

“If Senator McCain … does not succeed in winning the presidency … it will be because Senator McCain did not present, and his party did not present, a vision, an agenda, a platform and a series of programs that actually resonated positively with the American people,” he said.

(…)

Barr said Sunday that he did not intend simply “to make a point” but to win, and party spokesman Andrew Davis said he was “one of the strongest candidates in the party’s 37-year history” and would make an “enormous impact.”

“Republicans and Democrats have good reason to fear a candidate like Barr, who refuses to accept the ‘business-as-usual’ attitude of the current political establishment,” Davis said.

“Americans want and need another choice, and that choice is Bob Barr.”

There’s a real good chance that Barr will be to McCain 2008 what Ralph Nader was to Gore 2000.  Hopefully even more so.

May 25th, 2008 at 07:15pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Uncategorized

Quote Of The Day

From an amusing NYT story about China’s efforts to enhance its English skills before hosting the Olympics – this is a sample from an “Olympic English” manual:

I have made a reservation for tonight through the telephone. My name is Cable Guy.

Now I want to go to the Beijing Olympics just to talk to people…

May 25th, 2008 at 02:47pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Weirdness

Your Objective Media

I found this while looking for something completely different.  I wish I could say it was surprising…

Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich drops a little aside in a blog post on campaign styles that gives a revealing, behind-the-scenes glimpse of what passes for political discourse these days. We know the producers of the Sunday talk shows and “reality” shows generally are lurking in the background, egging on the actors and often distorting what’s happening. Rarely do we get to find out about it, however. Reality-show contestants sign contracts not to spill the beans, and talk-show guests also are silent because they know they won’t be invited back if they squeal. Here’s Reich:

I was on television recently, debating a conservative. It’s something I do fairly often. During a commercial break, the producer spoke into my earpiece. “A bit more energy,” he said.”What do you mean?” I answered, slightly hurt. I thought I’d been doing a fairly good job scoring points.

“Rip into him. Only three minutes in the next segment and we want to make the most of it.”…

I asked the producer who was talking into my earpiece why I had to rip into my opponent. “We see viewership minute by minute,” he said, hurriedly (the commercial break was about over). “When you really go after each other, we get a spike.”

It’s the spike I’m worried about. I chose not to rip into my opponent but, then again, I’m not running for president.

This is the larger point to be made about right-wing blowbag Kevin James’ embarrassing appearance on Hardball last week. Sure he made a total fool of himself because he was indignantly against “appeasement” but didn’t know who Neville Chamberlain was or how appeasement got such a bad rap. But, hey, who cares? Hardball’s Chris Matthews “ripped into him.” Matthews and James “got a huge spike.” Isn’t that what matters most? The hell with substance! We want to be entertained. Making himself a global joke was probably a great career move for James.

In case anyone was wondering why the discourse in this country has degenerated into yelling and namecalling.  What’s even more outrageous is that these same media then turn around and bemoan the loss of civility (primarily among Democrats, of course) that they themselves have promoted. Brilliant.

2 comments May 25th, 2008 at 12:06pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Media,Politics,Wankers

Happy Memorial Day From The Arizona GOP!

I’m not sure the troops (or veterans, as the case may be) can survive much more support…

State health inspectors declared that Arizona’s nursing home for veterans was again putting its patients in immediate jeopardy after being called to the home on Thursday.

State Department of Health Services director Susan Gerard said licensing inspectors arrived at the Arizona State Veteran Home in Phoenix after hearing that a patient who couldn’t care for himself was discharged, driven home and left to fend for himself.

The inspectors concluded that the case was so egregious that they would not leave the facility and declared its patients in immediate jeopardy, Gerard said Friday. That’s the worst possible rating for a nursing home.

After working with staff to make sure discharge policies were modified to their satisfaction, they left.

(…)

The 200-bed facility was in a similar spot in March 2007 when inspectors found neglected patients and mismanagement. That led to the resignation of state Department of Veterans’ Services director Patrick Chorpenning.

Chorpenning is suing the state, contending that he was forced to resign from the position and defamed.

(…)

Inspectors reported cases of patients burning themselves with cigarettes, left in soiled clothes and bedding and being ignored when calling for help.

The veterans’ home was hit with more than $20,000 in state and federal fines. Lawmakers gave the department an additional $6.1 million to hire more than 40 new staff, raise nursing salaries, replace equipment and make other improvements.

A new administration was hired and the governor appointed retired National Guard Brig. Gen. Richard Maxon to lead the agency and clean up the nursing home mess. He announced earlier this month that he would retire on July 1.

In the latest case, a diabetic recovering after being hospitalized with a brain injury was reported to have no medication when investigators from the state’s Adult Protective Services checked on him at home in response to a complaint. They reported their findings Thursday to licensing officials at the Health Services Department.

The Napolitano administration hasn’t exactly covered itself in glory here, but guess which party controls the state legislature and budget?

I have never understood how the Republicans sustain the massive cognitive dissonance between their stridently pro-troops brand and their consistently fuck-the-troops policies.  I would love to see the Democrats hammer the hypocrisy mercilessly in this year’s elections… and all future ones.

(h/t bmaz)

5 comments May 24th, 2008 at 03:19pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Republicans,Wankers

I Approve.

So there’s this guy in Japan, Ken Ohyama, who takes pictures of highway interchanges, mostly at night.  Damn, I wish I had thought of that.

(I do have some Newark Airport photos which are kind of similar, tho.)

A coupla more of my favorites:

Ooo…

(h/t Pink Tentacle)

2 comments May 24th, 2008 at 11:53am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Art/Architecture,Coolness

Convergence

Typically, in technology circles, the term “convergence” means the eventual combining of the television and the PC into a single device, which, frankly, I kinda have a hard time seeing.  The convergence that I’ve been seeing lately, which I find very intriguing, is between cellphones and computers, as the former get more and more powerful, and the latter get more and more compact.

We are nearing a point where screen and keyboard size will actually be more significant limiting factors than storage or processing power – and I think foldable OLED screens will provide much relief there, especially if they can also function as touchscreen keyboards.

But that’s not the kind of convergence I want to talk about, either.  I was reading Olivia Judson’s NYT blog entry on cytological hybrids, or “cybrids”: a cell from one species implanted whole into an egg cell of another species, becoming its nucleus, and eventually an embryo of the cell “donor” species, and it hit me. This is just like the DIY hackers I read about all the time in Engadget, the people who stick the guts of a Sega Dreamcast into a jewelry case to create a brand-new portable console.

Not only that, but I’m fascinated by DNA’s similarities to computer code: It’s a set of instructions that is both complex and modular – snippets of it can be copied and pasted to perform the same functions in completely different programs!  It’s also bloated with a lot of useless legacy code that no longer serves a function – some of which is actually old viruses that have been defanged and absorbed.  There can even be copying errors, and compatibility issues if the DNA in a transplanted egg nucleus doesn’t mesh with the DNA in the egg’s mitochondria (which is in fact modified bacteria code).

My point is, the most fascinating and important convergence coming down the pike is the one between technology and biology.  Right now, we’re at the novice stage when it comes to DNA and cell biology, copying and pasting and tweaking here and there, but I think there will come a day when we can actually read DNA like any other kind of programming language.  Which means that we could write and edit it, too.  Which would be both cool (we wouldn’t have to go looking for a gene to perform the function we want – we could just write it from scratch) and kinda scary (what happens when a gene programmer screws up, or a bioterrorist writes The Perfect Virus?).

I’m not sure whether I’m looking forward to it or dreading it, but the possibilities and threats are wide open.

May 23rd, 2008 at 10:09pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Coolness,Science,Technology

Friday Quote & Cat Blogging

This week’s quote is from one of the shadowy and mysterious Codename V’s new favorite films, Southland Tales, which has a very eclectic cast and a very eccentric plot:

And what did we do when we discovered a rift in the fourth dimension?  We sent monkeys into it.

And, of course, there’ll be other people’s cats…

The shadowy and mysterious Codename B. forgets the first rule of heights: Don’t look down.

May 23rd, 2008 at 11:20am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Friday Quote & Cat Blogging

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