Tuesday, May 31, 2005

War: Memorial Day

Read the whole thing [link].
In exchange for our uniformed young people's willingness to offer the gift of their lives, civilian Americans owe them something important: It is our duty to ensure that they never are called to make that sacrifice unless it is truly necessary for the security of the country. In the case of Iraq, the American public has failed them; we did not prevent the Bush administration from spending their blood in an unnecessary war based on contrived concerns about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. President Bush and those around him lied, and the rest of us let them. Harsh? Yes. True? Also yes. Perhaps it happened because Americans, understandably, don't expect untruths from those in power. But that works better as an explanation than as an excuse.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Misc: Carpal Tunnel Threat

Awesome. Go checkthis out. And, then, someone buy me one of these. Black sleeves, size "L" please.

Every time I see one of those Hummers, I mutter "Jackass." to myself. Now, instead of just cursing, I'll be able to crash my Jetta as I try to photograph my finger along with the Hummer with my camera-phone... good times.

[Link courtesy of a good, serious post at the Carpetbagger Report.]

Friday, May 27, 2005

Blogs: Big Time

Hoo-Ha. I've made somebody's blogroll.

"Reasonable" Rightie John Cole of Balloon Juice added me to his "To My Left" listings. He's been listed and linked here for a while now, and I should reiterate that since the Schiavo fiasco, and his slow turn against his Party, his site has been among my favorites. While we still disagree on some issues, I find myself battling his wingnut readers alongside him more often than not. He's one of the Republicans who has truly seen the ugly side of what his Party's leadership is up to, and ain't afraid to point it out.

His site is worth checking out, and be sure to enter the comment threads, it's a much more stimulating debate than you'll find at many lefty sites, which tend to be echo chambers.

I'm curious if it will lead to actual readers here... one can dream...

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Politics: Snowballs and Re-districting

Sigh... The Carpetbagger, Rep. John Tanner (D-TN) and I can dream about it...
Rep. John Tanner (Tenn.), a leading Blue Dog Democrat who saw several of his Texas colleagues lose in November because of redistricting, will launch his legislation this week. The veteran Member is seeking to create national standards for redistricting that include the creation of nonpartisan commissions in each state to redraw Congressional district lines just once every 10 years.

...but, alas, the first district effected by this legislation will be the frozen section of Hell.

Politics: Put Up or Shut Up

From BlondeSense:
Are You Opposed to Embryonic Stem Cell Research? Put It in Writing

Are you opposed to embryonic stem cell research? If so, I challenge you to draw up a directive similar to a living will. Please create a form and sign it. This form would direct all medical personnel to deny you or your family any medication or treatment derived from embryonic stem cell research whether developed in this country or any other country. Please have your wishes witnessed and notarized. Give a copy to your lawyer and to several friends and family members whom you trust.

The first person I would ask to do this would be George W. Bush, the President of the United States. I would then ask all Senators and Representatives who vote against embryonic stem cell research to do the same thing. This way they may display their sincere dedication and free their conscience of any guilt. They may protect themselves and their families from benefiting from something they say creates life to destroy life, something they condemn as morally wrong. Unless and until they do this, they must allow the research to continue.

To profess to be against embryonic stem cell research but to refuse to sign such a form would display the ultimate hypocrisy.

Submitted by Pissed_Off_Patricia @ 10:00 AM

Damn straight.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Politics: Nuclear Disarmament

Well, it looks like there'll be no mushroom cloud over D.C. tomorrow. Kos (and a few others) are announcing a backroom deal averting the showdown that was set to unfold tomorrow in the Senate.

I've got to say, I'm surprised. I came online to find out about Reid's televised address, and now with the fallout from the deal, I don't even know if he actually even made the address... I'm not shocked, after all, everyone knew there was a group of moderates from each side going back and forth on this. But I thought that effort was too little, too late.

Before I go further, let me give Harry Reid tremendous props. I'm not sure what role, if any, he had in this compromise, but up until this moment, he completely outplayed Bill Frist in every way imaginable. Based on this deal I don't know what the future has in store for the Dems, the Republicans, or the Courts, but I know one thing -- Bill Frist is done. Put a fucking fork in him as an effective Majority Leader and his White House chances in '08.

There hasn't been a lot of analysis written on this yet, and I don't pretend to know all the particulars, but my immediate reaction is disappointment. Not "the sky is falling", "they sold us out" outrage spewing from the fringes on both sides, but I'm disappointed nonetheless. First, I really was looking forward to the drama. This was going to be exciting no matter what happened, and now this seems completely anti-climactic. But I'm also disappointed because I think we snatched a lesser defeat from the jaws of an uncertain victory.


Let me explain what I mean by that. There is no question Harry Reid was holding a really weak hand. He is outnumbered by ten seats and was depending on not only holding all of the Democrats in line, but peeling off several Republicans to actually win this showdown. Relying on the goodness (or conscience) of Republicans was definitely a risky gambit. The whole reason this compromise ever came about is because the vote was truly too close to call. Senators on both sides were afraid to go on the record voting for or against this thing if they couldn't gauge how it would go down. It has more to do with that than any high-ground bullshit you'll hear from them, don't forget it.

The probelm with this and every compromise floated before it, is that the Dems have to give something up right off the bat, while the Republicans are merely agreeing to the status quo. Sort of. The Republicans agree (for now) not to try and eliminate the filibuster if the Democrats (for now) agree not to use it except in extreme (?) circumstances.

What did it take to reach that agreement? The three worst judges get up or down votes (Brown, Owen, Pryor) now, and Saad and Myers get pseudo-bustered 'til their nominations are dead. That still leaves two other judges not specifically mentioned. Lindsay Graham (can I like this guy or not?) hints that one of the up or down vote judges will "probably" go down, whatever that means... Oh, and it appears that new nominees have to get a once-over from these "moderates" before they'll get fair consideration. Let's see how that goes over...

So it seems like we effectively stopped half of these judges and retained the ability to filibuster a Supreme court nominee. Since the filibuster of Supreme Court nominees is the ultimate prize, we win here. It was never really about these particular judges for the White House. This was all about picking this fight, and provoking the nuclear option vote. They were counting on it, and counting on winning it. That's why the stakes were so high for the religious fundamentalists. It's all about Rehnquist's seat. If they won, they would have set the stage for ramming a true idealogue onto the Supreme Court.

So why am I lukewarm on this? Well, I think we might still have won. If that happened, it would really have split the Republican party, the White House would have tremendous black eye, and the fundamentalist religious right would have been dealt a big blow. Now, we'll never know. Doing that kind of damage was worth the risk.

And if we didn't have the votes to win? I liked Reid's plan for retaliation -- to abandon the Senate comity rules. This was mischaracterized as "the Democrats will shut down the Senate." Not true. Unlike Gingrich, the Democrats wouldn't literally close anything down, they'd just start offering up their own agenda. It is a courtesy that the majority party is allowed to set the agenda, and if the majority is going to toss all tradition and comity out the window, why should we oblige them further? Reid had tremendous legislation lined up and would have forced the Republicans to go on record voting it down. I liked that plan.

As it is now, the DEmocrats will be forced to filibuster someone down the road, for the Appeals Court or the Supreme Court. Bush will make sure of it. And then, the Republicans, Fox and Rush will cry that the Democrats are renegging on their deal, and we are back where we started. Except the worst of these judges will already be comfortably on the bench, and we'll have let the Republicans off the hook—public opinion was with us on this, next time, I don't think we'll be so lucky.

This deal was probably the prudent move. But once in a while I want go for something more than prudent, I want to go for the throat.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Sports: Stadium Scam

Mayor Bloomberg in NYC is pushing for a new stadium for the Jets on the West Side of Manhattan. There are a million 2.2 billion reasons why this is a bad idea logistically and financially, but the best, clearest argument I've read regarding this particular project is this [via Steve G]:
...hardly any of the ordinary taxpayers and transit riders subsidizing this glittering playground on the Hudson will be able to see the Jets play there. This is not like Yankee Stadium, where you can actually go to a game. Unless you've already got season tickets (or unless you're wealthy and can afford one of the staggeringly expensive luxury suites), you're out of luck.

The Jets' Web site couldn't be clearer about this. Under the heading "Waitlist Policy," it says: "The New York Jets are sold out on a season ticket basis. There are NO individual game tickets available. If you are not a season ticket holder, you may join our Waitlist. There are currently over 10,000 people on our Waitlist."

You have to pay $50 a year just to be on the waiting list. The wait is approximately 10 years. And after waiting 10 years, the maximum number of tickets you can buy is four. Does this sound like a good deal for a stadium that you're helping to pay for? [link]

I think pretty much all publicly-financed stadiums are a crock of shit, but this one is by far the worst. People's eyes tend to glaze over when the numbers get tossed around, and once you're talking in the hundreds of millions, it becomes too abstract for the layman. Pointing out that the average Jet fan will likely never see the inside of this place ought to drive it home to everyone in NYC that Bloomberg's chasing a complete boondoggle.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Idiots: Evacuation Caused by Two Complete Dumbasses

After reading this it is my determination that these two imbeciles, threat or no, should have been shot out the sky if not on principle, but to spare innocent bystanders from their inevitible Darwin Award-winning airplane related catastrophe.

How is it that you are allowed to fly a fucking plane around with the radio off, without maps, common sense, or the ability to identify common landmarks like the goddamn Washington monument or U.S. Capitol??!! These rubes are too stupid for their day jobs (truck driver and vacuum salesman), never mind granting them a license to fly a plane.

If you read the course of events, it is almost unbelievable that these guys were spared a fiery air-to-air demise. They were intercepted by a Blackhawk helicopter, a Border patrol jet and eventually two Air Force F-16s had to fire flares at them to get them to wake up and change course. I guess if you're that dumb, you have to be pretty lucky to live to be 69.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Outrage: Give Him the Finger

[via Kevin Drum] Not just another one of those "there was a finger in my chili" stories, this one's real, and it unfolded quickly enough that something could have been done about it. Except the guy who found the finger is an unbelievable dick...
[link] ...Soon after [Clarence] Stowers found [a] finger in a mouthful of chocolate soft-serve he bought Sunday at Kohl's Frozen Custard in Wilmington, he put it in his freezer at home, taking it out only occasionally to show to television cameras.

He refused to give it to the shop's owner, and refused to give it to a doctor who was treating Fizer, who accidentally stuck his hand in a mixing machine and had his right index finger lopped off at the first knuckle.

Medical experts say an attempt to reattach a severed finger can generally be made within six hours.

But according to the shop's management, Stowers wouldn't give it back when he was in the store 30 minutes after the accident.

"The general manager attempted to retrieve it and rush it to the hospital," reads a statement posted Thursday on Kohl's Web site. "Unfortunately, the customer refused to give it to her and declared that he would be calling the TV stations and an attorney as he exited the store."

Officials at Cape Fear Hospital said their efforts to retrieve the finger also failed.

And aside from the obvious motivation of pure greed, what is this asshole's excuse?
Stowers' attorney, Lee Andrews of Greensboro, wouldn't say if a lawsuit against Kohl's is planned, saying he needed "to get some more facts."

But Andrews said his client is concerned about possible disease in the fingertip and kept it because he wanted someone to test it for "all the diseases that are out here now."

"He's upset to the point that he's been debilitated to some degree," Andrews said. "Emotionally, it's been very upsetting to him."

Are you kidding me? What is "debiltating" and "emotionally upsetting" is having your goddamn finger torn off before your eyes and then having to watch your client drive off with it!!! And the "concern" about having the finger tested is total crap. You know who's finger it is, get a blood sample from him and test that, but give the guy a chance to have his finger reattached.

This jackass Stowers deserves some Biblical justice -- a fingertip for a fingertip, I say. Barring that, for the rest of his misbegotten life, he should be forced to wear a hat/drive a car that announces what a dick he is and what he did, so every food service worker that ever has to serve him is given motive and opportunity to do nasty shit to his food first. And that goes double for his lawyer.

Finally, what kind of a House of Horrors is this custard shop? This was the second finger incident in that mixer. And how exactly did this event unfold that someone can lose a finger in the food being produced and it continues to be served? None of the clowns running that place should ever be allowed in the food-service industry again. I'm not quite sure what that leaves them qualified for, but it's more along the lines of handling the products leaving the body.

[UPDATE]: More info and a better timeline of the event, here. It should be pointed out that the guy who gave his finger so that others could enjoy custard, was fired for his trouble. Sue the living hell out of that place, young man, you deserve it.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

TV: Too Much of a Good Thing?

[via Atrios] Stephen Colbert is getting his own show spun-off of "The Daily Show."
'Daily Show' Personality Gets His Own Platform

Stephen Colbert, who plays a phony correspondent on the fake-news program "The Daily Show," is getting a real promotion.

Comedy Central said yesterday that it was giving Mr. Colbert his own show: a half-hour that is expected to follow "The Daily Show" on weeknights and will lampoon those cable-news shows that are dominated by the personality and sensibility of a single host. Think, he said, of Bill O'Reilly and Chris Matthews and Sean Hannity.

Where "The Daily Show" and its host, Jon Stewart, generally spoof the headlines of the day (and the anchors and reporters who deliver them), Mr. Colbert's program will send up those hosts who have become household names doing interviews and offering analyses each night on the 24-hour cable news channels.

[...] "In the way 'The Daily Show' is kind of a goof on the structure of news, this is more of a goof on the cult of personality-type shows," Mr. Stewart said in an interview.

[...] That "The Daily Show" has reached the point that it is considered ripe for a spinoff is something of a milestone for the program and for Comedy Central, which is owned by Viacom. But in moving Mr. Colbert off "The Daily Show" - he is expected to make only intermittent return visits - the network is also risking diluting a recipe that has made it so popular.

To that end, Comedy Central is considering ripping an actual page from the cable news networks it so often mocks, and having Mr. Stewart, at the end of his half-hour show, share a split-screen with Mr. Colbert, in what is known in the news business as a "throw" or "toss."

"It could be kind of seamless," said Doug Herzog, president of Comedy Central and Spike TV, who presided over the debut of "The Daily Show" in 1996. "It would have the effect of extending 'The Daily Show' to a full hour."

At least they're not all quitting for movie careers... I'm not sure how successful this formula will be. They've mocked the O'Reilly's with some funny fake promos for "The Colbert Report" before. Those loudmouth shows are ripe for the mockin' and deserve it. It has the potential to be hilarious. But it also has the potential to be the last half-hour of Saturday Night Live -- you know the not-funny-enough skit that never ends...

Here's hoping it's hilarious, and that the pompous blowhards they lampoon cry themselves to sleep every night.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

BS: Kristol meth

On the Diane Rehm Show a while back, Bill Kristol defended the record of the Bush Administration, and John Bolton in particular, saying, "Everyone, even liberals would agree, [the work on] proliferation has been a tremendous success."

Exactly how does Bill Kristol define "success"? By what measure has the anti-proliferation efforts of the first Bush term been a success? Pakistan was running a weapons Wal-Mart. Iraq? North Korea? Two of the three Axis of Evil countires have made significant progress on weapons programs. Iran is actively working on them, and NK is already sweeping up the lab for the night and ready to test 'em. And the other Axis of Evil member? The very motivation for invading Iraq, prevention of proliferation, has turned out to be a joke/lie. Either the weapons weren't there, or we allowed them ALL to escape into dangerous hands. Where is the success?