Archive for December, 2008

Cartoon Of The Day

Tony Auth:

The Light

December 21st, 2008 at 03:30pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Comics,Religion,Republicans,Teh Gay

Lawyers Take A Stand For, Well, The Law

Lawyers speak out, but is anyone listening?

Inspired by the Pakistan Lawyer Protest against President Pervez Musharraf’s attempt to hold onto power after the 2007 Pakistani election, over 1300 American lawyers and law students signed this request to Rep. Conyers and Sen. Leahy urging them to defend the rule of law and uphold the US Constitution against the egregious abuses of the Bush Administration. The group is known as The American Freedom Campaign.

Abuses include but are not limited to: torture, extraordinary renditions, warrantless wiretapping, jailing without habeas corpus, and the destruction of evidence such as the CIA interrogation videotapes and five million White House e-mails.

Bruce Fein, Mario Cuomo, Jesselyn Radack, a former Justice Department ethics lawyer, Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, Marjorie Cohn, president of the National Lawyers Guild, and AFC’s Steven Fox are among the participating lawyers.

Message to House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy from American Lawyers Defending the Constitution

We are lawyers and law students in the United States of America. As such, we have all taken (or will be taking) an oath obligating us to defend the Constitution and the rule of law from those who would violate and subvert them, and to hold wrongdoers accountable.

We believe the Bush administration has committed numerous offenses against the Constitution and may have violated federal laws. Evidence exists that it has illegally spied on Americans, tortured and abused men and women in its direct custody, sent others to be tortured by countries like Syria and Egypt, and kept people in prison indefinitely with no chance to challenge the bases of their detention. Moreover, the administration has blatantly defied congressional subpoenas, obstructing constitutional oversight of the executive branch.

Thus, we call on House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers and Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy to launch hearings into the possibility that crimes have been committed by this administration in violation of the Constitution, federal statutes, and international treaties. We call for the investigations to go where they must, including into the offices of the President and the Vice President. Should these hearings demonstrate that laws have in fact been broken by this administration, we support all such legal and congressional actions necessary to ensure the survival of our Constitution and the nation we love.

If you are a lawyer or law student, sign here

Conyers and Leahy have had two years to to work on this, and they haven’t made a whole lot of progress.  I guess it depends on whether the Obama administration can and will brush away BushCo’s stonewalls, or if they urge Congress to let bygones be bygones.

Needless to say, the let’s-not-dwell-on-the-past approach would be a terrible mistake.  These criminals should not be free to trample the laws again, and future criminals should not be encouraged to emulate them.  Come on, guys, let’s show some commitment to the rule of law.  None of this scared-of-your-own-shadow, keep-the-powder-dry, can’t-we-all-just-go-along-to-get-along crap.

2 comments December 20th, 2008 at 09:18pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Constitution,Corruption/Cronyism,Democrats,Obama,Republicans

Tinfoil Hat Time: Rove’s IT Guy Dies In Small Plane Crash

Still too early to say whether this is really foul play or not, but… holy crap:

I don’t usually reveal sources, but I think this is incredibly important. Michael Connell died in a plane crash last night. He was a key witness in the Ohio election fraud case that I have been reporting on. More importantly, however, he had information that he was ready to share.

You see, Mike Connell set-up the alternate email and communications system for the White House. He was responsible for creating the system that hosted the infamous GWB43.com accounts that Karl Rove and others used. When asked by Congress to provide these emails, the White House said that they were destroyed. But in reality, what Connell is alleged to have done is move these files to other servers after having allegedly scrubbed the files from all “known” Karl Rove accounts.

In addition, I have reason to believe that the alternate accounts were used to communicate with US Attorneys involved in political prosecutions, like that of Don Siegelman. This is what I have been working on to prove for over a year. In fact, it was through following the Siegelman-Rove trail that I found evidence leading to Connell. That is how I became aware of him. Mike was getting ready to talk. He was frightened.

He has flown his private plane for years without incident. I know he was going to DC last night, but I don’t know why. He apparently ran out of gas, something I find hard to believe. I am not saying that this was a hit nor am I resigned to this being simply an accident either. I am no expert on aviation and cannot provide an opinion on the matter. What I am saying, however, is that given the context, this event needs to be examined carefully. If you want to understand the context more broadly, I suggest you read this article I did a while back about the break-ins and arson cases that Siegelman and others have experienced.

Just to be very clear and state again, I am not claiming conspiracy theory or direct relation to Karl Rove or the White House in any of these events. What I am saying, however, is that these possible relationships cannot and should not be overlooked by investigators. There are far too many serious and reasonable questions that must be answered for the public.

I have been to Mr. Connell’s home. Mr. Connell has confided that he was being threatened, something that his attorneys also told the judge in the Ohio election fraud case. When I met with Heather, his wife, I did so carefully because of the threats he was getting.

I hope we find out soon one way or the other, via a serious and thorough investigation.  And that Connell had some kind of in-the-event-of-my-untimely-death failsafe in place.

(h/t Lisa Derrick)

2 comments December 20th, 2008 at 03:17pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Corruption/Cronyism,Republicans,Rove

Friday Quote & Lizard Blogging

This week’s quote is from Topsy-Turvy, about Gilbert & Sullivan’s production of The Mikado:

The builder was much bemused.  “What’s the point of having a bathroom to every bedroom?  Who’s going to be staying there?  Amphibians?”

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

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1 comment December 19th, 2008 at 11:13pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Friday Quote & Cat Blogging,La Jolla/San Diego,Photoblogging

Liberals Gain A Powerful New Ally In The War Against Christmas

Awesome.

Bat Boy Card

1 comment December 19th, 2008 at 10:10pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Coolness,Religion,Republicans,Weekly World News,Weirdness

Wanker Of The Day

John McCain:

John McCain is leading the way, saying it is “unacceptable that we would leave the American taxpayer with a tab of tens of billions of dollars while failing to receive any serious concessions from the industry.”

I guess that kind of blank check is only acceptable when the tab is hundreds of billions.

December 19th, 2008 at 09:19pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Uncategorized

Best. Baseball Card. Ever.

Glenn Hubbard’s 1984 Fleer card:

Hubbard Snake
That is just all kinds of awesome.

Mickey Hatcher’s 1986 Fleer probably deserves at least an honorable mention:

Hatcher Glove
That’s a mighty big glove right there.

(h/t Jesse Spector and Oldy Foldy)

2 comments December 19th, 2008 at 06:22pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Coolness,Sports,Weirdness

Kiss Right, Kick Left

You’ve heard the phrase “Kiss up, kick down” used to describe someone who sucks up to those above them and abuses those below?  Well, turn that on its side, and you’ve got Obama and the Democratic Party:

Embracing someone like Warren is no more “inclusive” than inviting a White Supremacist or, for that matter, a Christian-hater to deliver the invocation.  People like that espouse views that are shared by many Americans; why not include them, too, or have Pat Robertson deliver a nice prayer?  Obama’s “inclusiveness” mantra always seems to head only in one direction — an excuse to scorn progressives and embrace the Right. Not even Bill Clinton’s most extreme Dick-Morris-led “triangulation” tactics involved an attempt to court Jerry Falwell.

In fact, as Chris Bowers suggests, this may actually be a calculated political strategy:

This morning, First Read argues that there are clear benefits for Democrats who are able to generate public, left-wing outrage against their actions:

When liberals attack: Axelrod and Gibbs have to be smiling this morning with the news that gay-rights groups are angry that Obama has announced that conservative evangelical Rick Warren will give the invocation at Obama’s inauguration. Why are they smiling? Because it never hurts — at least when it comes to governing or running for re-election — when you sometimes disappoint/anger your party’s interest groups (in this case, People for the American Way and the Human Rights Campaign).

This is a widely held view, and is openly shared by Democrats as high ranking as Rahm Emanuel. As long as the generation of public, left-wing outrage toward their actions is understood to be politically beneficial to Democrats, then many Democrats will continue to undertake actions that have the direct or indirect goal of generating public, left-wing outrage at their actions. This is pretty straightforward. As long as the cost of annoying progressives is not only zero, but actually a net positive, then Democrats will continue to annoy progressives ad infinitum.

In other words, however screwed-up their reasoning (I think it basically boils down to “Everyone hates liberals!”) Democrats have convinced themselves that repeatedly pissing off their base is a brilliant idea.  The fact that most of them hate our guts probably makes it much easier for them to believe this.  Bowers goes on to argue, and I agree with him, that the only way to stop them is to change the perceived outcome of progressive-poking from a net positive to a net negative, primarily by primarying the progressive-pokers.

Bowers focuses on the negative-reinforcement aspect of primarying anti-progressive Democrats, but an equally important aspect is our need to show political muscle and brains.  Democrats fold again and again because they crave the money and clout of the business interests, and they believe that we’re such suckers, and so afraid of Republicans, that we’ll continue to vote for them and give them our time and money no matter what they do.  They believe they have impunity, and when that replaces accountability, representative democracy dies.

Progressives need to demonstrate, again and again until the Democrats get the message, that we are electorally indispensable – that we can push candidates over the top, and shoot them back down.  Look at how the Republicans defer to the religious right.   They depend on them for boots on the ground, and they’ll stay home if they consider a candidate… unsuitable.  That’s why Mitt Romney had to give his “I’m just as intolerant as you are!” speech.  That’s why McCain got saddled with Sarah Palin.  Did Obama choose a progressive darling for his running mate?  No, his campaign floated names like Hillary, Evan Bayh, and Tim Kaine, and finally settled on Joe Biden – mostly not a bad guy (*cough cough Bankruptcy Bill! cough cough cough*), but certainly not a progressive.

Our party simply does not take us seriously, and they never will they until they believe that they can’t win elections without our enthusiastic support.  Of course, that’s easy enough to say – the challenge is figuring out how to get there.

11 comments December 19th, 2008 at 11:39am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Democrats,Obama,Politics,Religion,Teh Gay,Wankers

Wanker Of The Day

Shorter Rick Hertzberg: Democracy is boring.

Governor David Paterson… has been pondering whom to appoint to replace Senator Hillary Clinton… According to press reports, the list of possibilities under consideration is as strikingly unimaginative as if the choice were being made in the usual way—i.e., by the people, as mediated through and manipulated by party primaries, fundraising prowess, non-stop polling, ethnic entitlement, and regional balancing. “Among the governor’s inner circle, there is a desire to pick someone from upstate New York, since the region has no representation in statewide office,” the Times reports. “A woman or a Latino would also be desirable.” The current roster (with accompanying parochial concerns) includes at least three members of Congress (one female and upstate, one female and Hispanic, one just upstate), two city executives (one upstate, one Hispanic), one labor leader (the teachers’ union), and two dynasts (one Cuomo, one Kennedy). The Cuomo is Andrew, the state’s elected attorney general. The Kennedy—and the only choice on the list that qualifies as even marginally adventurous—is Caroline, a reticent and intelligent woman who made a splashy political début this year as a campaigner for Obama.

What if Governor Paterson, prompted by the squalor of his Illinois colleague’s maneuverings, were to put aside mundane calculations and take full advantage of his theoretically unfettered freedom of choice? The Senate was originally conceived as a sort of chamber of notables, but most of its members, over the years, have been notable mainly for their mediocrity.

He then goes on to present a (hopefully) tongue-in-cheek list of personages he considers more interesting, most of whom are even less qualified to be Senators than Caroline Kennedy.  Kareem Abdul-Jabbar?  Lou Reed?  Joe Torre?

Perhaps I’ve missed the point, but I always thought that Senators should be chosen based on their competence rather than their Q Rating.  Sure, appointing another elected official to replace Hillary is an uninspired choice, but it sure beats most of the alternatives.  Also, bear in mind that Paterson presumably wants to appoint someone who can get re-elected, so all of those electability calculations are still in play – it’s just that Paterson has to project them out for 2010 because the voters can’t make their choice today.

(An alternate possibility is that Hertzberg is making a sly and accurate commentary on the shallowness of the media rather than embodying it, but I’m just not seeing it.)

1 comment December 19th, 2008 at 07:14am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Democrats,Media,Politics,Wankers

“Like Pheasant Season In South Dakota”

Holy jumping fuck.  When the chaos of Katrina intersects with the lawlessness, racism, and corruption of Southern Republicanism, the result is far, far worse than I ever could have imagined:

A new report in The Nation documents what many have claimed for years — for some Black New Orleanians the threat of being killed by White vigilantes in Katrina’s aftermath became a bigger threat than the storm itself.

After the storm, White vigilantes roamed Algiers Point shooting and, according to their own accounts, killing Black men at will– with no threat of a police response. For the last three years, the shootings and the police force’s role in them have been an open secret to many New Orleanians. To date, no one has been charged with a crime and law enforcement officials have refused to investigate.

(…)

In the two weeks after Hurricane Katrina made landfall, the media created a climate of fear with trumped-up stories of Black lawlessness. Meanwhile, an armed group of White vigilantes took over the Algiers Point neighborhood in New Orleans and mercilessly hunted down Black people. “It was great!” said one vigilante. “It was like pheasant season in South Dakota. If it moved, you shot it.”

The Nation’s article tells the story of Donnell Herrington, Marcel Alexander, and Chris Collins — a group of friends who were attacked by shotgun-wielding White men as they entered Algiers Point on September 1, 2005. As they tried to escape, Herrington recalls, their attackers shouted, “Get him! Get that nigger!” He managed to get away. Alexander and Collins were told that they would be allowed to live on the condition that they told other Black folks not to come to Algiers Point. Herrington, shot in the neck, barely survived.

And there’s the story of Henry Glover, who didn’t survive after being shot by an unknown assailant. Glover’s brother flagged down a stranger for help, and the two men brought Glover to a police station. But instead of receiving aid, they were beaten by officers while Henry Glover bled to death in the back seat of the stranger’s car. A police officer drove off in the car soon afterward. Both Glover’s body and the car were found burnt to cinders a week later. It took DNA analysis to identify the body.

(…)

Journalists have encountered a wall of silence on the part of the authorities. The coroner had to be sued to turn over autopsy records. When he finally complied, the records were incomplete, with files on several suspicious deaths suddenly empty. The New Orleans police and the District Attorney repeatedly refused to talk to journalists about Algiers Point. And according to journalist A.C. Thompson, “the city has in nearly every case refused to investigate or prosecute people for assaults and murders committed in the wake of the storm.”

This is pure, distilled racist evil right here, nurtured by a toxic smog of total impunity.  It is frightening that over 140 years after the slaves were freed, and over 40 years after the Civil Rights Act, that white people can and do still kill black people in this country for no other reason than because they feel like it.

Color Of Change is compiling an online petition to present to Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, his Attorney General, and the Department of Justice to take action and seek justice.  Please sign it.

December 18th, 2008 at 10:13pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Corruption/Cronyism,Katrina,Racism

The Right Of Conscience Rule

President Bush pretends to be a fan of that which he does not possess:

The Bush administration yesterday granted sweeping new protections to health workers who refuse to provide care that violates their personal beliefs, setting off an intense battle over opponents’ plans to try to repeal the controversial measure.

(…)

The far-reaching regulation cuts off federal funding for any state or local government, hospital, health plan, clinic or other entity that does not accommodate doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other employees who refuse to participate in care they find ethically, morally or religiously objectionable. It was sought by conservative groups, abortion opponents and others to safeguard workers from being fired, disciplined or penalized in other ways.

Hopefully President Obama will roll this back quickly – or, better yet, migrate it to the military and intelligence services…

December 18th, 2008 at 09:15pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Choice,Politics,Religion,Republicans,Wankers

More Philly Architectural Photoblogging

More buildings!  Hooray, buildings!

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December 18th, 2008 at 11:21am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Photoblogging

More On Rick Warren

Pastordan’s take from the liberal, non-rabidly-homophobic religious perspective:

On a strictly professional level, this is a goddamn embarrassment. Nobody likes Warren. The Religious Right think he’s a flake because he’s too liberal, and everybody else thinks he’s a flake because he’s a shallow idiot. From where I’m sitting, as the victim of an extremely expensive and extremely rigorous theological education, Obama could have gotten a better invocation from Stuart Smalley. It would have as much depth, and at least it would be doing a Democrat a favor.

Stemming from that point, this is particularly galling to people like myself. Mainline Protestant pastors are opinion leaders in their communities, and they tend to appreciate their GLBT friends and not appreciate slick weasels like Rick Warren. I was hardly the only pastor to support Obama, or to stick up for his vision of hope and reconciliation. Obama just spat in our eyes, and it’s going to take a while to get over it.

And Nick Cargo sums up the LGBT community’s reaction:

“This is a horrific insult to the thousands of LGBT Americans who worked to elect Barack Obama president,” said Oxdown Gazette‘s Teddy Partridge, “and the millions of LGBT Americans who voted for him.”

“This is more than a serious faux pas; this is an insult to all the queers and non-believers that worked their asses off to elect Obama-Biden,” added blogger Mike Tidmus. “We need to let the President-Elect know that parading a homophobic bigot at his big parade rains on ours.

(…)

“Obama inaugural team, this is a big f*ck up a la Donnie McClurkin,” added Pam’s House Blend’s Pam Spaulding. The President-elect, in late 2007, came under fire for his choice of Grammy-winning gospel singer and professed “ex-gay” Donnie McClurkin to perform at a gospel concert. Then-Senator Obama later said McClurkin wasn’t vetted “to the extent that the people were aware of his attitudes with respect to…LGBT issues.” Obama also said in a November 2007 blog entry that McClurkin espoused beliefs “that I completely reject.”

People For the American Way and Human Rights Campaign have strong statements as well.

The Obama team released some talking points to try to justify/sugarcoat the decision, but they are insultingly weak. The money quote:

The President-elect disagrees with Pastor Warren on issues that affect the LGBT community.  They disagree on other issues as well.  But what’s important is that they agree on many issues vital to the pursuit of social justice, including poverty relief and moving toward a sustainable planet; and they share a commitment to renewing America’s promise by expanding opportunity at home and restoring our moral leadership abroad.

In other words, Obama knows Warren is a raging homophobe – he just doesn’t think it’s very important.  Awesome.

4 comments December 18th, 2008 at 07:20am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Obama,Religion,Teh Gay

…But Don’t Worry, Some Of His Best Friends Are Gay People.

Apparently it’s not enough to appoint official and unofficial Republicans to his cabinet and staff, now Obama has to choose James-Dobson-with-a-smiley-face to give the invocation at his inaugural.  Aravosis has a great rundown of all Warren’s zealoutry and bigotry – this here is my favorite:

Lamenting the “tyranny of activist judges,” who obstruct the will of the majority, he evinces no understanding of minority rights or the judiciary’s role in enforcing them. Explaining his views about homosexuality and gay rights, he notes, “I don’t think that homosexuality is the worst sin,” and, “By the way, my wife and I had dinner at a gay couple’s home two weeks ago. So I’m not [a] homophobic guy, okay?”

Yes, that’s right: He really did play the some-of-my-best-friends-are-gay card (um, the gay couple was home at the time, right?).  Well done, Rick.

And Obama has just validated this wanker by giving him a national platform, so Warren will have extra credibility when he inevitably speaks out against progressive initiatives like abortion rights and gay marriage.  My only question is whether he’ll make it worse by speaking out against them at the inaugural.

If Warren sticks to “May God bless America and Obama and give him the strength and wisdom to get us out of this ditch,” then I suppose it can be spun as a call for the religious right to rally behind the president in these trying times (good luck with that), but if he starts spouting right-wing culture war talking points, then Obama will have managed to get himself punk’d on his very first day, which is not auspicious.  The only possible silver lining would be if Warren overreaches and discredits himself, but if history is any indication, the only way he could damage his credibility would be to have sex with a guy right up there on stage… and even that might not be enough.

2 comments December 17th, 2008 at 10:37pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Obama,Religion,Teh Gay

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

Crennel 2

Crennel 3

Not sure whether all the Steeler fans around here will consider this a good thing or a bad thing…

In a bizarre act, eerily reminiscent of the Samuel Jackson death scene in the movie “Deep Blue Sea,” Cleveland Browns coach Romeo Crennel was swallowed whole this morning by the Lake Erie Monster upon returning back from Philadelphia at the Burke Lakefront Airport in Cleveland, Ohio.

(…)

According to eyewitnesses on the scene, Crennel had assembled the team on the tarmac at the Burke airport on the shores of Lake Erie. After the 4-10 Browns deplaned, Crennel asked the weary team to huddle up for a motivational talk.

Crennel stood in front of his men and told them, “Nature can be lethal, but it doesn’t hold a candle to man. Now you’ve seen how bad things can get, and how quick they can get that way. Well, they can get a whole lot worse.  So we’re not going to fight anymore. We’re going to pull together and we’re going to find a way to get out of here. First, we are going to score a touch-”.

Before the embattled Coach could finish his speech, a long-necked sea monster rose out of the frigid waters and devoured the coach in front of his team.

U.S. Coast Guard petty officer Byron Firdelis, an ardent Browns supporter, told reporters that the Cleveland-based Lake Erie Coast Guard would not initiate a search for Crennel. Firdelis said, “We can’t take the risk of jeopardizing men in the search for a Coach that has now had 3 10-loss seasons in 4 years.  Besides, Crennel is not a strong swimmer. Our recommendation to Browns management is to finalize discussions with Bill Cowher as quickly as possible.”

If you can’t coach, stay away from the water.

December 17th, 2008 at 11:19am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Weekly World News

Am I Getting Too Paranoid?

Quite frankly, I only trust the Democratic leadership a tiny bit more than I trust the GOP, so maybe I’m reading too much into this:

Getting on the House Ways and Means Committee isn’t easy. Some lawmakers spend years demonstrating their case to leadership, showing their fund-raising prowess and building a legislative record.

And there’s no better time to be a committee Democrat than now — unless, apparently, you’re Raul M. Grijalva.

The Arizona Democrat did the unthinkable Tuesday, declining a Ways and Means seat that he had won just last week, giving up the chance to shape tax, trade and health-care policy in the 111th Congress.

In a statement, Grijalva said the spot on the exclusive panel would have forced him to give up his chairmanship of the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands on the House Committee on Natural Resources. There, he plans to continue working on issues such as preventing uranium mining in the Grand Canyon.

Public lands are “where his passion lies,” spokeswoman Natalie Luna said.

She said Grijalva did not seek the coveted Ways and Means appointment this time around, although he did two years ago.

That’s in contrast to the usual pattern. Several of the other four Democrats who won Ways and Means seats — Brian Higgins of New York, Danny K. Davis of Illinois, John Yarmuth of Kentucky and Bob Etheridge of North Carolina — actively sought the job.

Okay, so – a progressive Democrat with a “passion” for protecting public lands gets offered a coveted Ways and Means seat that he didn’t even ask for… but the rules would require him to surrender the chair of his environmental subcommittee.  Does that sound fishy to anyone else but me?  Like maybe the party leadership didn’t want him chairing that subcommittee, but didn’t want to be obvious about it, so they tried to entice him into surrendering it voluntarily rather than preventing him from attaining it in the first place?

Is it time for me to don the Tinfoil Hat Of Shame?

1 comment December 17th, 2008 at 07:53am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Democrats,Environment

Wanker Of The Month

Shorter Frank Gaffney: 4,000 dead American troops is AWESOME!

You probably think I’m exaggerating.

December 16th, 2008 at 11:52pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Iraq,Republicans,Wankers

Commodo Dragon?

It’s… Toiletosaurus!

A peculiar amphibian that was clad in bony armor prowled warm lakes 210 million years ago, catching fish and other tasty snacks with one of the most unusual bites in the history of life on Earth.

The creature called Gerrothorax pulcherrimus, which lived alongside some of the early dinosaurs, opened its mouth not by dropping its lower jaw, as other vertebrate animals do.

Instead, it lifted back the top of its head in a way that looked a lot like lifting the lid of a toilet seat.

“It’s weird. It’s the ugliest animal in the world,” Harvard University’s Farish Jenkins, one of the scientists who describe the mechanics of its bite in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, said in a telephone interview on Friday.

(…)

With a special adaptation of the joint between its skull and first neck vertebra, Gerrothorax could raise its head relative to its lower jaw by as much as 50 degrees, giving it the wide gape necessary to swallow its prey.

Bizarre.  It sounds like a cross between a crocodile and Fernando Valenzuela.

December 16th, 2008 at 08:39pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Coolness,Science,Weirdness

Cheney On Obama & Executive Power

Cheney thinks Obama will want to keep it:

Vice President Dick Cheney said Monday that President-elect Barack Obama will “appreciate” the expansions of executive power achieved during the Bush administration and is unlikely to cede authority back to Congress.

“Once they get here and they’re faced with the same problems we deal with every day, then they will appreciate some of the things we’ve put in place,” Cheney said during an interview on Rush Limbaugh’s radio show.

Translation: “We have fucked everything up so thoroughly that only a dictator could even hope to fix it.”

2 comments December 16th, 2008 at 11:29am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Cheney,Constitution,Corruption/Cronyism,Obama,Republicans,Wankers

Irony Of The Week

You just can’t make this stuff up:

A U.S. anti-kidnapping expert was abducted by gunmen in northern Mexico last week, a sign of just how bold this nation’s kidnapping gangs have become.

U.S. security consultant Felix Batista — who claims to have helped resolve nearly 100 kidnap and ransom cases — was in Saltillo in Coahuila state to offer advice on how to confront abductions for ransom when he himself was seized, local authorities said.

Not much I can add to that, really…

(h/t dakine)

December 16th, 2008 at 07:07am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Weirdness

“Not HELPING!”

Now, do you suppose maybe they could have a word with Corker, Shelby, and all the other foreign-car-state senators?

Detroit’s Big Three aren’t the only automotive companies that want to see the government step in with some much needed financial help.

Overseas automakers, most notably Toyota Motor, all endorse some form of federal aid to keep General Motors, Chrysler LLC and possibly Ford Motor out of bankruptcy.

(…)

“We support measures to help the industry,” said Toyota Motor spokeswoman Mira Sleilati. “We just want a strong, competitive healthy industry.”

This may seem surprising at first, especially when you consider that much of the opposition to the auto bailout was from senators from Southern states home to auto plants operated by Asian auto companies, such as Alabama and South Carolina. But the Asian automakers insist they never lobbied against such help for the Big Three.

(…)

The overseas automakers, who between them produce more than 3 million vehicles a year at U.S. plants, all worry their production would be hurt if one of the U.S. automakers went under. That’s because a Big Three failure would likely lead to widespread bankruptcies in the auto parts supplier industry.

Erich Merkle, lead auto analyst with the consulting firm Crowe Horwath LLP, said there is much overlap between the automakers’ suppliers. Since most parts in an automobile have only a single supplier producing them, the disruptions in production will be severe and prolonged.

“It could take months for a Toyota to work through that and resume normal production,” he said.

Merkle said the current network of auto suppliers, manufacturers and dealerships have worked well for the overseas automakers, who have posted steady gains in their U.S. market share during the past few years.

Besides sharing suppliers, many dealers sell both U.S. and overseas brands. So the failure of a U.S. automaker could hurt the overseas manufacturers’ dealer network and their sales as well, Merkle said.

“There would be a severe disturbance in the force,” he quipped.

The story also points out that mass unemployment would seriously depress the foreign automakers’ sales, and that a collapse of the Big Three would be an opportunity for Chinese and Indian automakers to buy themselves an internationally competitive automotive operation, which would also eat into Japanese, South Korean and European auto sales.

The Republicans are so obsessed with breaking the UAW at all costs, that they don’t even care if they take their own states’ economies down.

(h/t dakine)

2 comments December 15th, 2008 at 10:05pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Economy,Republicans

Monday Media Blogging

My favorite Eurythmics song and video, Love Is A Stranger:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d7qW4h25r2E

You kids out there may not remember this, but about 25 years ago, Annie Lennox was quite possibly the sexiest woman on earth.

UPDATE: Oh my.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DRESYQLPkA4

(h/t Spear and Magic)

4 comments December 15th, 2008 at 09:03pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Monday Media Blogging

Great Moments In Republican Hypocrisy

Hey, remember Richard Shelby (R-AL), fearlessly crusading against the government bailing out private industry?  Apparently it depends on the industry…

Alabama Senator Richard Shelby, one of the infamous politicians of the auto bailout fiasco, recently obtained $160 million for the fishing industry nationwide. A portion of this amount is headed for the Alabama fishing industry for reasons they have no control over. Shelby states on his own website and we quote “This funding will provide much needed assistance to an industry that is a vital part of the Alabama economy”. The taxpayers of this nation should be aware this is not a government approved loan to the fishing industry but rather a handout.

Maybe the Big Three need to diversify into fishing, or start giving their cars aquatic names.  Or establish more of a presence in the South.

(h/t Pachacutec)

December 15th, 2008 at 07:35pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Economy,Politics,Republicans,Wankers

If It Weren’t For Bad Faith, The Bushies Would Have No Faith At All

Any time it appears that Dubya or his minions have done the right thing, assume that there’s either a catch, or that it’s simply a lie:

Congress wanted to guarantee that the $700 billion financial bailout would limit the eye-popping pay of Wall Street executives, so lawmakers included a mechanism for reviewing executive compensation and penalizing firms that break the rules.

But at the last minute, the Bush administration insisted on a one-sentence change to the provision, congressional aides said. The change stipulated that the penalty would apply only to firms that received bailout funds by selling troubled assets to the government in an auction, which was the way the Treasury Department had said it planned to use the money.

Now, however, the small change looks more like a giant loophole, according to lawmakers and legal experts. In a reversal, the Bush administration has not used auctions for any of the $335 billion committed so far from the rescue package, nor does it plan to use them in the future. Lawmakers and legal experts say the change has effectively repealed the only enforcement mechanism in the law dealing with lavish pay for top executives.

I can’t think of a single exception to this little rule of thumb.  Even the Bushies’ suggestion that they might use TARP funds for a bridge loan to the auto industry turned out to just be a scheme to extort Congress into releasing the second $350 billion for the financial sector.

(h/t Teddy and Ian)

1 comment December 15th, 2008 at 07:18am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Corruption/Cronyism,Economy,Republicans,Wankers

American Foreign Policy In A Nutshell

They may be corrupt, brutal bastards, but they’re OUR corrupt, brutal bastards.

Anyone think Obama plans to change that?

(h/t Christy)

1 comment December 14th, 2008 at 01:12pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Afghanistan,Bush,Foreign Policy

Mundane Philly Photoblogging

Yep, I’m back to Seinfeld mode: just some Photos About Nothing…
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Balcony!
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Crate!
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Loading ramp!

Whew, too much excitement, I gotta go sit down. Oh, right, I already am sitting down…

December 13th, 2008 at 01:59pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Photoblogging

The Only Thing That Matters To Republicans

Settling scores and making money. The well-being of the country isn’t even on their radar.

Countdown has obtained a memo entitled “Action Alert – Auto Bailout,” and sent Wednesday at 9:12am, to Senate Republicans. The names of the sender(s) and recipient(s) have been redacted in the copy Countdown obtained.

The Los Angeles Times reported that it was circulated among Senate Republicans. The brief memo outlines internal political strategy on the bailout, including the view that defeating the bailout represents a “first shot against organized labor.” Senate Republicans blocked passage of the bailout late Thursday night, over its insistence on an immediate union pay cut.

(…)

Today at noon, Senators Ensign, Shelby, Coburn and DeMint will hold a press conference in the Senate Radio/TV Gallery. They would appreciate our support through messaging and attending the press conference, if possible. The message they want us to deliver is:

1. This is the democrats first opportunity to payoff organized labor after the election. This is a precursor to card check and other items. Republicans should stand firm and take their first shot against organized labor, instead of taking their first blow from it.

2. This rush to judgment is the same thing that happened with the TARP. Members did not have an opportunity to read or digest the legislation and therefore could not understand the consequences of it. We should not rush to pass this because Detroit says the sky is falling.

The sooner you can have press releases and documents like this in the hands of members and the press, the better. Please contact me if you need additional information. Again, the hardest thing for the democrats to do is get 60 votes. If we can hold the Republicans, we can beat this.

Most Republicans didn’t have a problem “rushing to judgment” on the financial bailout (which was fifty times bigger), but now they want to put 3 million people out of work and crash the economy just to strike a blow against card check? Wow.

TPM drives the point home a little farther:

If the UAW was really the party who blew up the auto bailout negotiations, the people screaming the loudest would be the automakers. Yet, all the noise today is coming from Senate Republicans and their surrogates. What does that tell you?

The GOP could care less about the economy or anything else.  All they want to do is make sure the unions get screwed and their cronies get rescued.

(h/t C&L and Ann in AZ)

1 comment December 12th, 2008 at 09:57pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Corruption/Cronyism,Economy,Politics,Republicans,Wankers

Friday Quote & Gorilla Blogging

This week’s quote is from the very underrated Cabin Boy, starring Chris Elliott:

Sweet Mary! She’s got more whiskers than a laid-off circus clown!

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

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December 12th, 2008 at 09:45am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Friday Quote & Cat Blogging,La Jolla/San Diego,Photoblogging

Support Our Mercs!

Hey, remember those American troops who indiscriminately opened fire on a bunch of innocent Iraqi civilians, killing 14 of them?  Oh, wait, they were Blackwater?  You’d never be able to tell from their defense team’s website:

Take a look at the homepage:

See all the references to Blackwater Worldwide?  Me neither.  All I see are the five seals of America’s Armed Forces and an image of the Marine Corps War Memorial.  Instead of this:

We see this:

(…)

See all those signature Blackwater goatees, baseball caps, and side arms?  Me neither.  I’m only seeing the photos of three marines and two soldiers.  So instead of this:

We see this:

(…)

What we have here is a move to elicit sympathy for the accused guards by painting them as patriotic soldiers and marines who were only doing their duties in Iraq.  We see their initial entry photos, deliberately intended to make them seem younger than they are, even though they’re now much older.  Even the father of one of the accused said he “can’t believe prosecutors are going after such decorated military veterans.”  In fact, every aspect of the portrayal makes it look as though soldiers and marines are going on trial here.  But they’re not.  Rather, these indictments were handed down to five highly-paid contractors who were working for Blackwater Worldwide on behalf of the U.S. State Department.  But they were in no way associated with the U.S. military.

(…)

These guys chose to fight in Iraq for a private company that offered them more money and looser grooming standards.  They left the more disciplined world of the Army or the Corps.  And that’s what they wanted.  That’s fine.  They just need to accept responsibility for the decision.

And they can start by leaving the military and its symbols out of this.  If working for Blackwater is such an honorable endeavor, then they should have no problem providing images of themselves operating in Iraq in the service of the State Department.  Instead of the Marine Corps War Memorial, we should see an image of the Blackwater bear paw.

The problem here is that if these guys are found guilty, because of the way their defense has rolled them out to the public, it’s going to reflect on the military.  And that’s not acceptable.  Because the military had nothing to do with this massacre.

What pisses me off is that by blurring the line, the defense team is trying to include Blackwater in the warm fuzzy glow of “supporting the troops,” even though they’re really highly paid mercenaries who are only in it for the money.

On the other hand, if they get the same kind of support our troops and veterans have been getting, maybe they’ll get what they deserve after all…

December 11th, 2008 at 09:20pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Corruption/Cronyism,Iraq,Republicans,Wankers,War

Philly B&W Bracket Photoblogging

Pretty much what it sounds like. This building had some kind of bracket-looking ornamentation on it, which offered numerous photographic possibilities.

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December 11th, 2008 at 11:18am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Photoblogging

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