Monthly Archives: April 2007

Evangelist And His Bad Actor Sidekick To Prove Existance Of God — WITHOUT The Bible

KirkSign me up:

A prominent Christian best-selling author is asserting that he can prove the existence of God without using the Bible, and has challenged two atheists to a debate.

Ray Comfort, author of God Doesn’t Believe in Atheists, alongside fellow Christian and actor Kirk Cameron (Growing Pains) will butt heads with two ardent nonbelievers using only scientific fact in a debate sponsored by ABC. Comfort says that the evidence will “absolutely” confirm that there is a God, and he will not speak about his faith.

"Most people equate atheism with intellectualism," explained Comfort in a statement, "but it’s actually an intellectual embarrassment. I am amazed at how many people think that God’s existence is a matter of faith. It’s not, and I will prove it at the debate – once and for all. This is not a joke. I will present undeniable scientific proof that God exists.”

Iraq Reconstruction: What Your Tax Dollars Bought

• Shoddy work found at seven of eight Iraq reconstruction projects, report says
• Maintenance lags after projects are turned over to Iraqi control
• Only 10 of 17 generators installed at airport remain operational (some are "missing")
• Modular buildings built for $1.8 million were removed with no reason cited

and, oh yeah —

• 224 U.S. citizen deaths

Full story.

At Last …A Sex Scandal

Brian Ross of ABC News:

There are several thousands names, tens of thousands of phone numbers and they range from administration officials to lobbyists to advisers who are well known, people who appear on television, lawyers, and then just a lot of sort of ordinary businessmen and CEOs.

He’s talking about the names in the phone records of the "DC Madam", an escort service.  Apparently, the names include White House and Pentagon officials.

There is no reason to believe that the names won’t ensnare members of both parties, but since Republicans have controlled Washington for the time periods involved — well, it doesn’t look too good for them.

One day after Ross’s report, Bush’s Deputy Secretary of State Randall L. Tobias submitted his resignation, citing the DC Madam issue as his reason.  He claims he used the escort service, but "no sex was involved".

Heh.  Riiiiiight.

UPDATE:  ABC reports that "also on Palfrey’s list of customers who could be potential witnesses are a Bush administration economist, the head of a conservative think tank, a prominent CEO, several lobbyists and a handful of military officials."

The Great American Trailer Park Musical

Trailerpark1smNothing heals like laughter.  Man, that’s so true, and I found that out Saturday evening, when I had the pleasure of seeing The Great American Trailer Park Musical performed by The Actor’s Theatre of Charlotte.  It’s a sold-out run, and it’s easy to see why.

I knew little about the show, but from the title, I expected it to be a one-joke show, full of cliches about rednecks and white trash living in a trailer park.  Cheap shots at a rather easy target — that’s what I thought I was going to see.

And in a nutshell, that’s what it was.  But funny?  Hell, YES!!!!  I think it’s one of the funniest musical comedies I’ve ever seen.  There was not a dry eye in the house — the laughs just kept coming.  If it wasn’t the dialogue, it was the plot, or the lyrics, or the characters, or even the choreography.  I don’t think more than ten seconds passed without a wild roar from the audience.  And I can’t think of the last time I’ve seen a show, including those on Broadway, where — if I had the opportunity to see again the very next night I would have in a heartbeat.

The plot centers around Jeannie, who’s developed a severe case of agoraphobia and finds comfort spending her days lounging on the couch watching the guests on Oprah, Rickie and Montel prove that there are worse lives than hers. Her husband Norbert, a toll collector, is frustrated with having a wife who won’t go further outside than as far as she can while keeping one hand on the door knob, has taken to spending his nights at the local strip club.  Norbert becomes smitten with exotic dancer Pippi, who, rather conveniently, has just moved into the trailer across the yard.  Add to that Duke, Pippi’s jealous ex-boyfriend who sniffs magic markers to get high, and you’ve got one nutty show.

The glue that holds it together are three women who tell the story to the audience — the "Greek chorus" if you will — all trailer park residents themselves.  Each has their own story — one actually owns the trailer park, one has a husband on death row that she’s trying to keep alive by making sure that the trailer park uses as much juice as possible, and one is prone to hysterical preganancies.  These three carry much of the singing burden in the show, and also play the roles of minor characters throughout the play.

Altogether, every cast member has a chance to shine, and shine they all did.  This is not an ensemble piece — this is a musical where every single character and performer is a ten-ton dynamo.

In this particular production, everyone was dead on.  Everyone.  Direction was flawless.  Band was hot.  Choreography was hysterical.  Great voices.  Great comedy bits.  A fun set.  Great white-trash costumes.

My primary purpose for going, other than to see this show I had heard so much about, was to see the soon-to-be wed, not-at-all-like-the-parts-she-plays Heather Hamby, who portrayed the stripper Pippi.  Yes, she was scantily clad at moments, gyrated, and so on — that was nothing new for me, having seen (or been in) several of her shows (Okay — she kept her top on when she was in Madame Butterfly, but….).  What was really great was to see her play a hard woman, rather than a dumb blonde bimbo.  I had forgotten how low of an alto she is, and it was great to hear her belt, and walk the stage with confidence.  Great comic timing, too, as usual.

I could tell, however, that deep down, Heather was disappointed with the actor playing her "leading man", the middle-aged frumpy Norbert.  He was good, but I could tell that Heather secretly wished that I was playing Norbert, as I would have been perfect for the part (and I would have!).  But, like the trooper that she is, she made the best of it, even though it was clear that she longed to be shaking her tits in my face, just like old times.  In fact, that was the only disappointing part of the show for me as an audience member — that I wasn’t a part of it.  Sorry, Heather.  Sorry I let you down like that, but I’m glad it didn’t affect your performance.  You were phenomenal.

The Great American Trailer Park Musical runs through Sunday, May 6, but like I said, the run (including the added Sunday show) are now all sold out.  Still, you should check out the website anyway, and if you happen to see any of those performers in another production, you should check them out.

Psycho Ex-Girlfriends

(1) This makes me laugh.

(2)  Real phone messages from a psycho ex-girlfriend.  Not funny at all.  Very difficult to know what the "right thing to do" is. 

Love how every message starts "Oh, and by the way…."

(3) The Psycho Ex-Girlfriend Test

1. Do you cringe when you hear about your ex-boyfriend and his new love interest?
It depends on whether or not I have my own love interest
No, I wish the best for him and his new girlfriend
I have a voo doo doll of her in my room
A little bit.. I miss him sometimes..
2. Have you ever spied on your ex-boyfriend?
Uh, duh I stake out his apartment on Friday nights.
No, I am not a pyscho ass bitch
No, but I’ve thought about it
Yes, but only to vandalize his home with my girlfriends..
3. Do you think you could ever be friends with your ex-boyfriends new girlfriend?
Sure, I mean we both have similar taste in men.. Why not?
Maybe, if she made an effort
Only to get closer to HIMMMMM
No way! She’s the reason we broke up! Damn Hoe!
4. Your at local house party, and in walks your EX with his new girlfriend. What do you do?!
Run to the nearest exit, you don’t want him to see you in this!?
Wave and Scream his name across the house!! You guys have a lot to catch up on!
Inconspicuously trip his girlfriend when they’re walking past you
Ignore them.. they suck anyways
5. Do you STILL have memories of your exboyfriend? (cards, teddybears, photos, locks of hair, blood samples, t-shirts and/or recorded voicemails/ online convos?) – DON’T LIE NOW!!
Yes, I look at them all the time – ahhh there’s still a chance for us, I think..
Yea, but nothing too serious: a t-shirt and a card – no big deal.
Nah, I threw them all out.. Who needs bad memories?
6. Have you ever been tempted to hack into your ex-boyfriends email account / voicemail?
YES! I remember all his passwords, and I’m guilty of listening/ reading his messages. Anything to be close to him!!
Tempted : Yes. Followed Through : Nope. Don’t have the balls.
Uh no only pyscho stalkers do that..
7. Ok, somehow you’ve gotten a hold of your ex-boyfriend’s online Screen name account – and you see his girlfriend sign online – Do you mess with her?
Well – no harm in a little FUN!!!!
YESSSSSSSSS – it’s time to dish all the ex-boyfriends, DEEPEST DARKEST SECRETS BUAHAHAHAHAHA
No way… I’d sign off right away
I already told you that’s for pyscho stalkers!!
8. Do you constantly check your ex-boyfriends’ blogs, webpages, picture pages, livejournal, and / or myspace?
Guilty as charged.  Hell, that’s the only reason I came to discover this test in the first place!
Yes, for some reason I STILL need to know what’s going on with him
Nah, i’m over that asshole.
Only when that wave of nostalgia creeps up on me… I remember the good times.
9. Have you ever tried to break up your ex-boyfriend and his new girlfriend??
Of course not.. That’s wrong, un-ethical, and bitchy.
Yes The BITCH NEEDS TO PAYYYY
Yes, but I gave up after I realized they were good for each other
No, but I’ve thought about it..
10. Does the fact that your ex-boyfriend and his new girlfriend have both blocked your screen name due to constant annoying IMS and emails phase you at all?
Of course not, I just make a fake name on AIM and continue to mess with them
Yes, I learned my lesson. I’m done playing games
I would never be so annoying that someone would block me..
They blocked me? I fucking knew it…
11. Have you ever lied to your ex boyfriend’s new girlfriend to make her think less of him?
Yes and the stupid bitch believed me too!! HAHA!!
All’s fair in love and war…
Yeah, but she knew I was lying.. I don’t know why she wouldn’t believe I’m raising his three year old son..
No way. I’m too mature for that.
12. Have you ever put the moves on your ex-boyfriend only to be humiliated and rejected??
Yes but I know he’ll give in eventually… He’s only playing hard to get
Why doesn’t he love me anymore?!!!!!!!
No way.. He’s no good for me..
Yes, but he let me down gently.. I seriously thought there was a chance he was still interested..
13. Have you ever gotten in an all out fight with your ex’s new girlfriend, where you called her a bitch/hoe/slut/tramp/hussy/cheap whore/homewrecker/cunt/jewish barbie that sucks dick all day long..etc??
uh no.. I’m seriously not insane
That fucking Jewish whore…
Not only have I called her all those things.. I emailed my ex all the convos. He needs to know the truth about that cheap hussy..
She’s a bitch, But I wouldn’t tell it to her face..
14. Have you ever slashed your ex’s tires, egged his house, spread massive rumors about his tiny dick, pretended to be pregnant with his child, arranged lunch dates with his mom, dated his friends, or attempted other desperate means to engage his attention? (Use your imagination)
Yes, but I really am hiding his three year old child at my house.. He needs to come visit his son.. er… Charlie
Yes, but his dick really is small.. and you’d have lunch with his mom too, if you met her..
A few eggs never hurt anybody
No I’ve moved on with my life
15. Have you ever written letters to your ex’s new girlfriend, pretending to be your ex breaking up with her?
Anything to split them up. That bitch has got him blinded..
Yeah, but she didn’t fall for it.
There is no way I’d do something that low
Why the hell am I still taking this damn test
16. Do you work at Uno’s Bar and Grill?
Yes, who’s asking?
No way that place sucks
I hear they have good pasta,,
That fucking Jewish barbie.. wait till I get my hands on her..
17. Have you ever tried to beat that cheap whore (his new girlfriend) up??
I cannot speak to you without my lawyer present
My court date is next week… That bitch started it
No way, she’d kick my ass. Have you seen that sasquatch??
I’m too Cllllasssyyy for that
18. Did you make up a fake boyfriend/husband named Juancho to get your ex jealous?
Maybe. Are you from immigration?
Hey Juancho’s real!!!
I invited him to my fake wedding.. the bastard never RSVPed.. He was probably with HER.
What the hell is going on? Who the fuck is Juancho?
19. It’s official. That hussy has tricked him into marrying her. What do you do?!
I send them a gift.. I hope they are happy and have lots of babies
I send HER a gift.. In an unmarked container.. It’s ticking.. Run bitch..
I kidnap her, throw her in the trunk of my car, and show up at the altar on their wedding day…
Seriously, I’m scared.. Help me get out of this test..
20. Your ex and his new wife have filed a restraining order against you.. How do you handle this shocking news?
Leave them alone.. If the bomb didn’t scare her away, maybe they are meant to be..
Restraining order, my ASS.. I get so much plastic surgery done that they’d never recognize me! Then I move in next door.
HELP! The Psycho ex girlfriends are coming to GET ME!!!
I like squirrels
21. Last question.. After taking this test.. Do you think you are a psycho ex girlfriend???
And proud of it…
Absolutely not.

On The Radio

I will be appearing on the radio, WBFJ (89.3 FM), tomorrow morning sometime between 8:00 and 8:30, plugging my show, God’s Favorite at the Clemmons Community Players.

Listen live here.

Followup On The “Christian” Protest At A Theater

0411_mike_03_thA few days ago, I wrote about (and posted the video) of an event that happened — live — during a performance of the play/monologue "Invincible Summer" — where 80+ people walked out mid-performance, and where one member of the audience went to the performer, Mike Diasey, and poured water on his notes, all because he used the word "fuck" a few times.

Daisey tracked down the group (it’s unclear if they were a "Christian" group or a public high school, or maybe a Christian group from a public high school) and talked to the school administrator, who said that Daisey’s use of the word "fuck" created — I’m not making this up — a "security issue".  (NOTE: As Daisey explains, the groups was told when they bought tickets that the show had strong language and adult themes).

He also tracked down the actual guy who destroyed the show’s outline.

Guess what?  The guy is a Christian who has anger management issues:

He has three kids–one is 21, and two are 17–and he’s terrified of the world. Terrified by violence, and sex, and he sees it all linked together–a horrifying world filled with darkness, pornography and filth that threatens his children, has threatened them all his life. They’re older now, but he says he still sees things the same way–and that the only way to protect his children and himself is to lock it all out of his life.

He also said he’s had anger-control issues for years, and sometimes acts of rage come over him–he explodes, and then has to apologize, and doesn’t know why it happens. He tries to lock it down, but it happens, and he’s ashamed of it. I told him that regardless of where we both stand, I felt very strongly that the repression of walling off everything in the world and viewing it all as filth is connecting with these outbursts, and that it isn’t going to work–until you deal with the root causes, and deal with the world, his anger and rage would keep using him.

He agreed with this.

It wasn’t all agreement–he reiterated the administrator’s line that it had been a "security issue" (his words) and that "we had to get our kids out of there". He said at one point, "You’re probably more *liberal* than I am" and the word *liberal* had this hook on the end of it, one that he probably didn’t even intend, but it was unavoidable for him–it sounded edged, like a slur.

He also casually used a coarse racial epithet to refer to black people in a very loose, unnecessary analogy, which was remarkable to me–in a situation where violence resulted from offense at language, our worlds are so far apart that he didn’t think for a moment about throwing out this word. I believe strongly that everyone is free to speak, but we are also accountable for our speech–the casual indifference of it shocked me under the circumstances of our conversation.

Read the whole thing.

True News or Onion Parody?

You decide:

Extended overseas deployments affecting soldiers serving in Afghanistan and other locales overseen by U.S. Central Command should help to alleviate the stress on the Army, a senior U.S. officer in Afghanistan told Pentagon reporters today.

***

The tour extensions will provide more predictability and stability for soldiers and their families, [Army Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno] said…..

Answer below the fold….

Goodling’s Got Immunity

Now that she won’t go to jail, will the graduate of Pat Robertson’s Regent University come to Jesus and, you know, tell the truth?

By 21-10, the House oversight committee voted to issue a subpoena to Rice to compel her story on the Bush administration’s claim, now discredited, that Iraq was seeking uranium from Africa.

Moments earlier in the committee chamber next door, the House Judiciary Committee voted 32-6 to grant immunity to Monica Goodling, Gonzales’ White House liaison, for her testimony on why the administration fired eight federal prosecutors. The panel also unanimously approved — but did not issue — a subpoena to compel her to appear.

Fired prosecutor David Iglesius believes that Goodling holds "the keys to the kingdom" — i.e., she knows the behind-the-scenes political machinations that led to the politically motivated firing of the U.S. attorneys, as well as the development of the cover story to hide the truth.  Let’s hope this fine Christian woman puts her hand on the Bible ans swears to tell the truth.

My Bad

That terrible tragedy at Virginia Tech?  My fault, it turns out.  So says noted "actor" Chuck Norris:

Though one can point to Cho’s own psychotic behavior and our graphic slasher media as potential contributors to his deplorable murder spree, we must also hesitate to consider how we as a society are possibly contributing to the growth of these academic killing fields. I believe those who wield the baton of the secular progressive agenda bear significant responsibility for the escalation of school shootings. Even conservatives who refuse to speak when evil flourishes must acknowledge some culpability.

Sorry about that.  Can y’all forgive me?

The Tillman Turnabout

It’s sad and pathetic.

When pro-football player Pat Tillman left a lucrative sports career to serve his country fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, he was a darling of the right wing.  When he lost his life, he was praised and lauded by the right as a hero, giving his life to protect our freedoms blah blah blah

But when the word slowly leaked out that Tillman was killed by friendly fire, the rightwing pundits fell silent.  When it was revealed that the Army tried to cover up the circumstances of Tillman’s death, and that the family was being misled by our government, they fell more silent.

Now that the Tillmans are testifying before Congress, and that it has been revealed that Tillman was — oh my god — an atheist, the war supporters are being just plain ugly.  One general, we now learn, has described Tillman as "worm dirt":

In a transcript of his interview with Brig. Gen. Gary Jones during a November 2004 investigation, Kauzlarich said he’d learned Kevin Tillman, Pat’s brother and fellow Army Ranger who was a part of the battle the night Pat Tillman died, objected to the presence of a chaplain and the saying of prayers during a repatriation ceremony in Germany before his brother’s body was returned to the United States.

Kauzlarich, now a battalion commanding officer at Fort Riley in Kansas, further suggested the Tillman family’s unhappiness with the findings of past investigations might be because of the absence of a Christian faith in their lives.

In an interview with ESPN.com, Kauzlarich said: "When you die, I mean, there is supposedly a better life, right? Well, if you are an atheist and you don’t believe in anything, if you die, what is there to go to? Nothing. You are worm dirt. So for their son to die for nothing, and now he is no more — that is pretty hard to get your head around that. So I don’t know how an atheist thinks. I can only imagine that that would be pretty tough."

Asked by ESPN.com whether the Tillmans’ religious beliefs are a factor in the ongoing investigation, Kauzlarich said, "I think so. There is not a whole lot of trust in the system or faith in the system [by the Tillmans]. So that is my personal opinion, knowing what I know."

Nice.

Greenwald chronicales the vile turn-around on Tillman from the right:

And finally, we have the hordes of cowardly warmongers — beginning with the President and Vice President — who constantly hide behind the troops and crassly exploit them as props in service of their political agenda, even though their "concern" for the troops could not be any more exploitative and insincere.

Just look at this repulsive post by Powerline’s John Hinderaker yesterday as he tries (needless to say) to defend the Government’s conduct in the Tillman case by telling his readers they need not listen to Kevin Tillman’s accusations because he is "an antiwar activist who has posted on far-left web sites."

What does Hinderaker omit from that description? That Kevin Tillman was in Afghanistan along with his brother, having volunteered to risk his life to fight for the U.S. Army in the wake of 9/11. But because he came to conclude that the invasion of Iraq was wrong — and because he has persistently demanded that the truth about the Bush administration’s conduct in his brother’s case be exposed — he is subjected to discrediting smears from smarmy little chest-beating play-acting warriors like John Hinderaker.

The "troops" are nothing but cheap and empty props to them. Before it was revealed that Pat Tillman was both an atheist and against the war in Iraq, he was paraded around after his death as though he, standing alone, was the Symbol and Justification for the warmongering Bush movement. Ann Coulter said that "Tillman was an American original: virtuous, pure and masculine like only an American male can be." Sean Hannity constantly invoked his name with antiwar guests.

Yet once it was revealed what Tillman’s actual political views were, they both simply declared that they "do not believe" it. What mattered to them was not who he really was — they could not care less about that — but his use to them in service of their twisted political propaganda.

Vile.  Ugly.

A Vacation Planet

Ahhhh!  Home away from home.  For the first time, they’ve discovered a planet which is like Earth in atmosphere.  They think it has water, and may support life.  Its temperatures range from 32 degrees to 102 degrees.  And it’s 1.5 times larger than our Earth.

A few downsides — the year there is only 14 days.

Since we’ve all but broken this planet, maybe it’s time to think about moving.  We better get started.  Its 120,000,000,000,000 miles away (even at the speed of light, it’ll take us 20 years to get there).

The planet, by the way, has the name 581-c.  I think we need a name change.

Dumb Quote Of The Day

Laura Bush On Iraq:

"No one suffers more than their President and I do."

I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that over 3,000 famlies who lost loved ones in Iraq are suffering more than President Bush and Laura.  As well as the families of the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis.  And the wounded soldiers getting shitty treatment at Walter Reed.  And…  and….

Quote Of The Day

Jon Stewart last night:

Basically, first-term president Bush, you invaded to remove the threat of Saddam Hussein. And you, current president Bush, are there to battle the threat created by the lack of Saddam Hussein.

It’s funny because it’s true.

Investigation Launched Into Rove

About time:

The Office of Special Counsel is preparing to jump into one of the most sensitive and potentially explosive issues in Washington, launching a broad investigation into key elements of the White House political operations that for more than seven years have been headed by chief strategist Karl Rove.

The new investigation, which will examine the firing of at least one U.S. attorney, missing White House e-mails, and White House efforts to keep presidential appointees attuned to Republican political priorities, could create a substantial new problem for the Bush White House.

…."We will take the evidence where it leads us," Scott J. Bloch, head of the Office of Special Counsel and a presidential appointee, said in an interview Monday. "We will not leave any stone unturned."

Bush supporters cannot wail and cry about this being a Democrat witchhunt.  This is not a (Democratic-controlled) investigation — this is straight from an agency of government within Bush’s own branch.

David Halberstam, R.I.P.

The man who first recognized Vietnam as a "quagmire" — years ahead of his fellow journalists and the rest of the country — was killed in a car accident yesterday.

A prescient, smart man — he is a voice that should always have been listened to.  Here, for example, are his comments just 3 days after 9/11:

We are in some ways a much easier target for them, despite our wealth, than they are for us. And that’s a very hard thing for a rich, developed superpower to understand — that our very strength makes us vulnerable. Our strength makes us a target, and it’s hard to respond. There’s a danger that if we use our power carelessly, if we just bomb away, then we’re doing their recruiting and passing the burden on to our children. One of the things that was much more done in the French-Indochina War: a French patrol would go through a village where many of the people were on the fence in the struggle. A Viet Minh solder would kill one French soldier. The French would then open up on the entire village, killing all kinds of people. The French would then leave the village that night, at 6 o’clock, and at 7 o’clock the Viet Minh would arrive to recruit the children of those who had been killed. That’s something we need to be very aware of: to apply power not just with strength, but with wisdom. And we need to be very careful about that.

Nailed it.  He will be missed.

Everything I Know About Women, I Learned From Alyssa Milano

Alyssa20milanoThank you, Alyssa.  Thank you for telling me ten things I don’t know about women.  Thank you for reducing your gender into broad overgeneralized stereotypes (and thank you, by the way, for giving me an excuse to post some photos of you):

1. Women are innately self-conscious. This is not a choice; it’s a genderwide condition. On a bad day, I look in the mirror and see my ten-pound-heavier alter ego. Her name is Bertha. On a really bad day, Bertha sees her two-hundred-pound-heavier alter ego. Her name is Brian Dennehy.

So…. women have multiple personalities, and they give names to each personality?  This is a serious mental health problem, Alyssa, and I think you need to discuss it with someone.

2. Women produce half the world’s food but own only 1 percent of its farmland. So we’re fine with you picking up the tab. And after about three thousand dinners at Nobu, we should be even.

In other words, when I pick up the tab, I’m settling a debt.  Which means, I shouldn’t expect sex.  I’m curious though — how much food have you — you yourself produced?  Aren’t you just riding on the coattails of your sisters?

3. Women like porn, too. We just hate it when you hide the porn.

We know you like porn.  We hide it so you won’t steal it.

4. Women remember everything . Don’t believe me? Ask your girlfriend where you met. She won’t tell you it was at a party. She’ll say it was a Thursday, she had just come from dinner, where she ate a veggie burger, and she was wearing her friend Cathy’s pink top, which was big on her because Cathy is a big girl. You were wearing a blue button-down, drinking a Jack and Coke with two straws, and talking to Bill, that mutual friend. She waved and you gave her the "what’s up" nod. This still infuriates her. ("How could you give me the nod?")

Sorry, Alyssa.  Women don’t remember everything.  They remember what matters to them.  Just as men remember what matters to them (i.e., the line-up of the 1967 Red Sox). 

5. An eyelash curler, while mean and ferocious looking, is not a weapon.

While I agree with wholeheartedly that an eyelash curler is not a weapon, what the hell does this have to do with "Ten Things You Don’t Know About Women"?  Do women think it is a weapon?  Does anybody?  Why are you dispelling a myth that nobody believes?

6. No matter how much your woman loves you, there are going to be three to seven days each month when she wants you dead. (She may even quietly fantasize about turning her eyelash curler against you.) You have two options: Tie yourself to a tree and wait out the storm, or stock up at Tiffany’s, toss a blue box or two into the wind, and hope for the best. We recommend the latter. (The key chain doesn’t count.)

AlyssabbYes.  I’m sure men are not aware of PMS.  Thank you for enlightening us.

7. We think it’s weird when you watch sports and concentrate to help your team.

Oh, now come on.  You’re just trying to regain your feminine creds here, Alyssa.  But we all know that you have a blog devoted entirely to baseball, so stop pretending.  You think we just fell off the turnip truck?

8. "Hey, Melissa, who’s the boss?" Not a good pickup line. "Hey, Phoebe, where’d you park your broomstick?" Not a good pickup line. "Hey, Alyssa, you look 250 pounds lighter than Brian Dennehy in that dress." Surprisingly good pickup line.

Okay.  The title of this article is "Ten Things You Don’t Know About Women".  Not "Ten Things You Don’t Know About Alyssa".  I assure you, Alyssa, that when I pick up women, I do not — and would not — use pickup lines that refer to your career.  I’m not that stupid.

And by the way, what’s this obsession with Brian Dennehy’s girth?  Leave the man alone, will ya?

9. Women hear better than men. That’s before you even factor in listening skills and attention spans. Come to think of it, I should have listed this one first because I’m sure I’ve lost you by now.

Women have better hearing at frequencies above 2000Hz.  Which means you are better at conversing with dolphins (or Darryl Hannah impersonating a dolphin).  And sometimes, we wish you would and let us concentrate on the ballgame.

10. You may be surprised to know that women were responsible for inventing all of the following: the circular saw, the signal flare, the space suit, the bulletproof vest, and the windshield wiper. You’re welcome.

You forgot to mention the dishwasher, ironing board, and rolling pin.  Seriously.

And here’s some things invented by men: cars, books, television, phones, computers, feminine hygiene products, eyelash curlers and — oh yeah — Western civilization.  You’re welcome.  I think, considering all we’ve given you, you should pick up the tab when we take you out to dinner.  But we’ll accept sex instead.

No Chocolate? Jesus!

Charlie_chocolate_posterThis is something that even non-political people can get behind.

The FDA wants to take away your chocolate.

That’s right.  Pending right now is a "citizen’s petition" which would allow chocolate manufacturers (Hershey’s etc.) to use vegatable fats instead of cocoa butter, and still call the result "chocolate".  Of course, the "citizens" who submitted this petition are the Chocolate Manufacturers Assn., the Grocery Manufacturers Assn., the Snack Food Assn., and several other big producers.

If the FDA approves, that means that your favorite chocolate bar, ice cream, fondue, whatever — will not necessarily contain actual cocoa (the raw ingredient of chocolate).

Cybele May, who writes a candy blog, explains:

This is what they think of us chocolate eaters, according to their petition on file at the FDA:

"Consumer expectations still define the basic nature of a food. There are, however, no generally held consumer expectations today concerning the precise technical elements by which commonly recognized, standardized foods are produced. Consumers, therefore, are not likely to have formed expectations as to production methods, aging time or specific ingredients used for technical improvements, including manufacturing efficiencies."

Let me translate: "Consumers won’t know the difference."

She goes on to argue that consumers do know the difference.  They can tell the difference between "chocolate-flavored" candy (like those waxy "chocolate" rabbits we get at Easter), and actual chocolate candy.  She notes that:

Nine of the 10 bestselling U.S. chocolate candies are made with the real stuff. M&Ms, Hershey Bars, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups — all real chocolate. Butterfinger is the outlier.

Fortunately, you can fight back.  Send a comment to the FDA, through this website (just follow the "How To Help" links).

Encyclopedia Brown And The Case Of The Missing Bees

This actually troubles me:

vanish without a trace.

Billions of bees have done just that, leaving the crop fields they are supposed to pollinate, and scientists are mystified about why.

The phenomenon was first noticed late last year in the United States, where honeybees are used to pollinate $15 billion worth of fruits, nuts and other crops annually. Disappearing bees have also been reported in Europe and Brazil.

Commercial beekeepers would set their bees near a crop field as usual and come back in two or three weeks to find the hives bereft of foraging worker bees, with only the queen and the immature insects remaining. Whatever worker bees survived were often too weak to perform their tasks.

If the bees were dying of pesticide poisoning or freezing, their bodies would be expected to lie around the hive. And if they were absconding because of some threat — which they have been known to do — they wouldn’t leave without the queen.

Since about one-third of the U.S. diet depends on pollination and most of that is performed by honeybees, this constitutes a serious problem, according to Jeff Pettis of the U.S. Agricultural Research Service.

Maybe they were raptured?

Seriously, nobody like bees (they, you know, sting), but they are a vital part of the food chain, on top of which we sit.  If bees don’t pollenate the crops, the crops don’t grow.  If they don’t grow, we don’t eat (and the animals that we eat, don’t eat).  That can’t be good.

Sheryl Crow Has Cooties, Apparently

How Laurie David tells it:

In his attempt to dismiss us, Mr. Rove turned to head toward his table, but as soon as he did so, Sheryl reached out to touch his arm. Karl swung around and spat, "Don’t touch me." How hardened and removed from reality must a person be to refuse to be touched by Sheryl Crow? Unfazed, Sheryl abruptly responded, "You can’t speak to us like that, you work for us." Karl then quipped, "I don’t work for you, I work for the American people." To which Sheryl promptly reminded him, "We are the American people."

At that point Mr. Rove apparently decided he had had enough. Like a groundhog fearful of his own shadow, he scurried to his table in an attempt to hibernate for another year from his responsibility to address global warming. Drama aside, you would expect as an American citizen to be able to engage in a civil discussion with a public official. Instead, Mr. Rove was dismissive, condescending, and quite frankly a bully.

Jesus’ General has more on Sheryl Crow’s cooties.

“Find Out What You’re Going To See Before You See It!”

At the American Reperatory Theatre in Cambridge (Massachusetts — one of the country’s top rep theaters), Mike Daisey’s one-man show/monologue, "Invincible Summer", is getting rave reviews:

Even more than most theater artists, Mike Daisey must always rely on the kindness of strangers — or, more precisely, on their intelligence, alertness, and sense of humor. He depends on his audience because he performs his monologue differently every night, weaving and cutting and pacing its interconnected stories according to how each audience responds.

The "invincible summer" referred to in the title is the summer of 2001, in the innocent days before 9/11.  It’s much more than a 9/11 story however, and it touches upon such diverse topics as "weddings, writer’s block, the history of the New York subway system, borscht …"

Last Thursday evening, Daisey was performing his show to a sell-out audience, when all of a sudden, 87 of them stood up en masse, and walked out.  One of the audience members approached Daisey’s desk, and poured water on his outline.

And cameras were there to record it:

Turns out, the 87 people were members of a Christian group, who were offended by a certain four-letter word Daisey used.

Naturally, this stops the show, but Daisey handles it well.  He implores them to engage in a dialogue, but they simply refuse. 

Best part: when Daisey shouts to them: "In the future, find out what you’re going to see before you see it!"

So true.

Planned?  Perhaps.  Then again, Daisey discusses the walkout on his blog, and notes that a couple members of the group apologized as they left, so maybe it wasn’t planned.

Playbill covers it as well.  And props to The News Blog, which offers this question:

However, I can’t help but wonder what the result would be if 80 performance artists all attended a Church service, and got up in the middle of Mass and destroyed the alter as a sort of performance art.

Excellent question.  No doubt, it would make the evening news, with Falwell and Robertson and others decrying "foul".

The Blame Game [UPDATE]

From Cynical-C Blog — this has to be the compelte list:

It’s the fault of violent video games.

It’s the fault of movies.

It’s that no other students were armed.

It’s the cowardly students who didn’t rush the shooter.

It’s the first victim’s fault.

It’s secularism’s fault.

It’s the Muslims’ and/or foreigners’ fault.

It’s the Atheists’ fault.

It’s the fault of the colleges and how they coddle their students.

It’s society’s fault.

It’s the Second Amendment’s fault.

It’s the bureaucracy’s fault.

It’s the fault of Roanoke Firearms, where he bought the gun.

It’s the authorities’ fault.

It’s the Liberals’ fault.

It’s pedophilia, homosexual couplings and adulterous behavior’s fault. (Not sure if he means all at the same time or separately.

It’s capitalism’s fault.

It’s the fault of psychiatric drugs.

It’s the Devil’s fault.

It’s South Korea’s fault.

It’s the hippies’ fault. (Nobody’s blaming the Yippies yet)

It’s the media and culture’s fault.

It’s the murderer’s fault.

It’s the legal system’s fault.

It’s the fault of the Virginia Tech officials.

It’s the fault of the Chinese.

It’s the fault of this blogger who happens to be asian, likes guns and who recently broke up with his girlfriend.

It’s Simon Cowell’s fault.

It’s Bill Gates’ fault.

It’s the fault of trauma induced mind control by a military industrial complex.

It’s the killer’s parents’ and/or gun makers’ fault.

It’s the fault that colleges have co-ed dorms and/or students who major in English.

It’s a lack of funding for mental health services’ fault.

It’s the GOP’s fault.

It’s the Democrats’ fault.

It’s NBC’s fault.

It’s Autism’s fault.

It’s al Jazeera or Palestinian TV’s fault.

It’s the fault of pro-choice doctors.

It’s Collective Soul’s fault.

It’s the fault of professors who survived the Holocaust and are not armed to the teeth.

It’s Markos from the Daily Kos’ fault.

It’s the bullies’ fault.

It’s the Nanjing Anti-African riots’ fault and/or the fault of those in interracial relationships.

It’s the fault of our culture’s all-consuming desire for celebrity.

It’s fault of the Europeanization or nannyization of American behavior.

It’s Charlton Heston’s fault.

It’s the fault of immigration and/or asians.

It’s evil’s fault.

It’s W’s fault.

It’s the fault of vaccines.

It’s the fault that schools teach that the theory of evolution is fact.

It’s the fault of the CIA for training the killer as a mind-controlled assassin.

It’s the fault of stage weapons used in school plays.

It’s the fault of the classes where Cho was taught to hate.

It’s the school’s architecture’s fault.

RELATED:  Those screwballs at the American Family Association are taking advantage of the Virginia Tech trageedy to peddle a video explaining that the shootings wouldn’t happen if (among other things) teachers were allowed to spank students.

Yeah, whatever.

Bam, Bam, Bam, Bam

Very sweeeeeeeet game last night.  It wasn’t just the fact that they his four homers in a row (7th time that’s happened in the history of baseball) — it was that 3 of them still haven’t come down yet.  Lowell racked up two round-trippers (he’s only has one home run this season so up until last night).

Add to that: it was a sweep of the Yankees (first time in 17 years), and it ended with Palpelbon (love that guy) striking out Rodriguez.

I like this year.  I have a good feeling…..

Spiderman: The Broadway Musical

With music and lyrics by Bono and U2.

I wish I was kidding.

My spidey sense tells me
That something is amiss
I long for your touch
I long for your kiss
‘Cause I have youuuuu
Caught in the web of my heaaaaart
And the world around me grows darker
Who am I – just Peter Parker?
Oh, I don’t knooooooooow
On Sundaaaay, bloody, Sundaaaay

One more in the name of love….

I Used To Believe

UsetobelieveNot to be confused with This I Believe, I Used To Believe is a charming little website that collects childhood beliefs submitted by contributors.  Some examples:

"I used to believe that there was a magical ingredient in birthday cakes that allowed you to age another year, and that’s why you had to eat it."

"I used to think that vanilla was the absence of chocolate, not its own flavor."

"Once, when I was 8, I told my Mom about this weird experience I had where the exact same thing happened to me twice. She explained that it hadn’t happened twice, but that I had déjà vu. The next day at school, I told all of my friends that I had this weird French disease that made me get stuck in time and repeat things I’d already done."

"When I was a kid, I was very afraid of chicken pot pies, and wondered why anyone would ever eat any such thing. It was probably because I wasn’t yet clearly hearing a distinction between ‘chicken pot’ and ‘chicken pox’. So I must have been thinking of them as ‘chicken pox pies’."

"I used to believe that whenever I went into the restroom in public, everyone outside instantly stopped whatever they were doing and all paused to listen to the speakers which were placed all around the store so that everyone could listen to me in the bathroom. Of course, everyone went back to normal once I came from the bathroom."

"I used to believe that when the judge sentenced a criminal to an impossibly long sentence (like 100+ years) that they kept his body in prison after he died until it was there for the whole sentence."

"when i was a little girl i believed that the veils on a nun’s habit were nailed to their heads and that they were all bald underneath it and that they slept in it and never took it off! that is what my brother told me. at religious instructions class i asked a nun if it hurt when they pounded the nails in. she took me aside into a cloak room and took off the veil to reveal her beautiful long hair"

"As a four-year-old with a very large vocabulary, I decided the ‘Civil War’ was the one war where everybody pretended they were nice to everyone else. For example, a soldier would offer the enemy a cigarette, shoot him when he least expected it, and then pretend to be sad about it."

"I used to believe that speedbumps were actually there for the blind to drive, and they read it like braille. Thanks to my older brother and sister of course."

I suppose I — like everyone — had some crazy beliefs as a child, too.  I just can’t remember them.

Overreaction

In the wake of the Virginia Tech murders, the Dean of Student Affairs at Yale University has banned the use of all stage weapons in theatrical productions:

In a speech made before last night’s opening show of “Red Noses,” [student director Sarah] Holdren said that {Dean of Student Affairs Betty] Trachtenberg’s decision to force the production to use wooden swords instead of metal swords will do little to stem violence in the world.

“Calling for an end to violence onstage does not solve the world’s suffering: It merely sweeps it under the rug, turning theater — in the words of this very play — into ‘creamy bon-bons’ instead of ‘solid fare’ for a thinking, feeling audience,” she said. “Here at Yale, sensitivity and political correctness have become censorship in this time of vital need for serious artistic expression.”

***

“I completely understand that the University needs to respond to the tragedy, but I think it is wrong to conflate sensitivity and censorship,” Holdren said in an interview. “It is wrong to assume that any theater that deals with tragic matter is sort of on the side of those things or out to get people; they’re not — they’re out to help people through things like this. I want my show and all shows to be uplifting to people. That’s why I’m upset about this — it’s not because my props were taken — it’s about imposing petty restrictions on art as the right way to solve the problems in the world.”

Put me down as supporting Holdren.

Staged hangings, by the way, are still permitted.  Go figure.

When They Stand Up, We’ll Stand Down?

Bush’s Iraq strategy, in his own words:

Our strategy can be summed up this way: As Iraqis stand up, we will stand down, and when our commanders on the ground tell me that Iraqi forces can defend their freedom, our troops will come home with the honor they have earned.

Turns out …uh …not so much:

Military planners have abandoned the idea that standing up Iraqi troops will enable American soldiers to start coming home soon and now believe that U.S. troops will have to defeat the insurgents and secure control of troubled provinces.

Training Iraqi troops, which had been the cornerstone of the Bush administration’s Iraq policy since 2005, has dropped in priority, officials in Baghdad and Washington said.

So now what’s the plan (even the rhetorical plan) for victory in Iraq?

Well, just for the U.S. military to fight the insurgency without help from the Iraqi security forces.  Of course, the enemy now is pretty much the entire Iraqi populace, since we are now getting slammed from both Shia and Sunni.

In a word, it’s a clsuterfuck, and we’re in the middle.

Philip Carter explains in Slate why this new strategy will meet the same fate as the first five strategies.

[W]e’ve seen at least five major strategies implemented in Iraq, and all have failed, creating a legacy of bad blood that undermines our continuing efforts. Much of this failure owes to the naive belief that we can impose our will on the Iraqi people through our strategies, or win their support with a combination of security and reconstruction.

Gen. Petraeus and his brain trust have devised the best possible Plan F, given the resources available to the Pentagon and declining patience for the war at home. But the Achilles heel of this latest effort is the Maliki government. It is becoming increasingly clear to all in Baghdad that its interests—seeking power and treasure for its Shiite backers—diverge sharply from those of the U.S.-led coalition. Even if Gen. Petraeus’ plan succeeds on the streets of the city, it will fail in the gilded palaces of the Green Zone. Maliki and his supporters desire no rapprochement with the Sunnis and no meaningful power-sharing arrangement with the Sunnis and the Kurds. Indeed, Maliki can barely hold his own governing coalition together, as evidenced by the Sadr bloc’s resignation from the government this week and the fighting in Basra over oil and power.

Plan F will fail if (or when) the Maliki government fails, even if it improves security. At that point, we will have run out of options, having tried every conceivable strategy for Iraq. It will then be time for Plan G: Get out.

Speaking about Plan F, Kevin Drum puts it bluntly, “This is a ’slow bleed.’”

"Getting out" is the only option left us.  Even GOP Senators are realizing this, as they are sponsoring a bill requiring withdrawal of troops within 4 months of the bill’s passage.

By the way, whose plan was it to go into Iraq in the first place?  Bin Laden’s.  So says none other than Karl Rove:

"I wish the war were over," Rove said. "I wish the war never existed… History has given us a challenge."

In a question-and-answer period after his speech, Rove was asked whose idea it was to start a pre-emptive war in Iraq.

"I think it was Osama bin Laden’s," Rove replied.

He’s right.  Here’s bin Laden himself:

All that we have mentioned has made it easy for us to provoke and bait this administration. All that we have to do is to send two mujahidin to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written al-Qaida, in order to make the generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic, and political losses without their achieving for it anything of note other than some benefits for their private companies.

Bin Laden succeeded in provoking the United States into working against its own interests, in goading us into becoming mired in a war in the Mideast much like the one that ultimately helped destroy the Soviet Union. And Bush & Co fell for it.

Gee, I don’t know.  Maybe we should stop doing what our enemies want us to do.  That seems to me the basis of any good military policy.  Call me crazy….

In Lieu Of The Friday iPod Random Ten

I offer a little classic Pat Benatar.

Takes you back, eh?

Here’s the plot, as far as I can tell.

Pat is riding on the back of the bus, chanting.  Nobody seems to care or notice.  She turns to the passenger next to her and shouts "WHOA-OO-WHOA-OO-WHOA-OO-WHOA-OO-WHOOOOOAA!!", but it has no apparent effect.

Flashback to Pat storming out of her house.  She has just had a fight with her father, Nathan Arizona (from "Raising Arizona").  He’s upset because she always sings, and never just talks.  Mrs. Arizona wrenches her hands in silent despair.  Pat waves "goodbye" to her younger brother, Jimmy, who her parents have locked in his upstairs bedroom, probably because he lacks fashion sense.

Pat eventually finds herself roaming the streets of New York which, as we all know, is populated almost entirely by sluts and brawny gay men who apparently have nothing better to do but grease themselves down with baby oil.

This was, of course, during the time when there was a clothing shortage, and many New Yorkers were forced to walk around in their underwear or torn clothes found in the trash.

We learn that Pat’s father operates a Mom & Pop store — the kind of place with creaky wooden floors and where you can get a fountain soda or a root beer float for a mere "three bits".

We also can be certain that Pat is in New York, as she is frequently the object of shoving and rude stares from the gay men who seem to surround her all the time.

Pat’s father is disgusted by his wife’s cooking, and cannot eat it anymore.

Pat finds a job at one of those seedy "Ten-Cents-A-Dance", which, contrary to popular belief, did NOT disappear in the 1930’s and were, in fact, staggeringly popular in the 1980’s.  The place is populated by more gay men, and an unusual number of sneering women who were never taught how to cross their legs in public.

This, we learn, is a very boring job.  Pat does not seem to be enjoying it, no matter how man gay men ask her to dance.  She sends a postcard to Jimmy, still imprisoned in his bedroom.  Jimmy is amused to discover how sad Pat is, and envies her freedom.

Meanwhile, all is not well at the "Ten Cents A Dance" emporium.  Pat refuses to dance with another gay man.  A gay greasy Mexican with a John Travolta outfit and a gold tooth — his name is Camarro — dances a little "dirty" with one of the other girls. 

This sends Pat into a rage.  She and the other girls surround him and invade his personal space, which is very uncomfortable for the gay Camarro.  She pushes him back against the bar, and shakes her magic shoulders at him.  The other girls join in.  They all shake their magic shoulders at him.

Camarro looks nervously around the club.  "Is anybody else seeing this?" he wonders.

Pat and the girls perform the "Here Come The Jets" routine from West Side Story, occasionally lifting their arms to dry their sweaty pits.

More shaking of the magic shoulders entices Camarro to join Pat.  Playing along for a while, Pat lets out with a "Oh, no you di-int" and throws water on him.  Camarro grabs Pat’s wrist, but she is able to break away from his very gay stronghold.  Eventually, he melts from the water (although this is merely implied). 

Drunk with their newfound fem-power, Pat and the other dime-a-dance girls take their shoulder-shaking routine outside, where it is midnight.  They are (one assumes) in search of the dancers from Donna Summer’s "She Works Hard For The Money".  They proceed down an abandoned dead end street where, remarkably, it’s suddenly noon.  They stop their dancing, and perform the "goodbye" scene from Godspell

It’s only now that we realize some of the "girls" are actually male transvestites, in an M. Night Shyamalan/"Crying Game" surprise twist ending.

The sound of the bus driver’s whistling snaps Pat back to the present, and we again see her on the back of the bus.

She pouts.  "Love is a battlefield" she muses.

FUN FACT:  The part of Jimmy was played by Will Farrell’s brother, Dominick.

Gonzales Resignation Watch

I have little to say about this.  By all accounts, he tanked yesterday.  His story was a concoction of "mea culpa" combined with "I’m not responsible" combined with "I don’t recall".  Bottom line is that Gonzales is either lying about his role in the U.S. Attorney firings, or he is incompetent in that he was "out of the loop" about the firings.

He was so bad that Republican senators on the committee openly suggested that he should resign.  In fact, he was so bad that one (unnamed) White House people insider said that his appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee was like "clubbing a baby seal" and that his tesimony was "going down in flames".  Ouch.

The official White House statement given late yesterday is one of unflinching support for Gonzales, but it doesn’t take much to see that his resignation is imminent.  I would expect it today, or possibly tomorrow.  There’s no way he can survive.

Too bad I’m not a betting man.

UPDATE:  The New York Times is rather blunt about Gonzales’s performance yesterday, beginning with:

If Attorney General Alberto Gonzales had gone to the Senate yesterday to convince the world that he ought to be fired, it’s hard to imagine how he could have done a better job, short of simply admitting the obvious: that the firing of eight United States attorneys was a partisan purge.

Mr. Gonzales came across as a dull-witted apparatchik incapable of running one of the most important departments in the executive branch.

and ending with:

We don’t yet know whether Mr. Gonzales is merely so incompetent that he should be fired immediately, or whether he is covering something up.

But if we believe the testimony that neither he nor any other senior Justice Department official was calling the shots on the purge, then the public needs to know who was. That is why the Judiciary Committee must stick to its insistence that Mr. Rove, Ms. Miers and other White House officials testify in public and under oath and that all documents be turned over to Congress, including e-mail messages by Mr. Rove that the Republican Party has yet to produce.

Shorter Townhall Pundits

Shorter Mike Gallagher: I’m not going spend an entire column capitalizing on the Virginia Tech murders.  Instead, I’m going to write about me and my thoughts (about the Virginia Tech murders).

Shorter Phil Harris: If fetuses had laptops and email accounts, here’s what they would say.

Shorter John Hawkins:  I’ve figured it out, everybody — Cho Seung-Hui was baaaad.

Shorter Chuck Colson: I’ve figured it out, everybody — Cho Seung-Hui was baaaad.

Shorter Jerry Bowyer:  I’ve figured it out, everybody — Cho Seung-Hui hated McDonald’s.

Shorter Paul Greenberg:  A guy I know — I won’t say who — likes baseball.

Shorter Paul Greenberg:  Okay, it’s me.  I like baseball.

Shorter Bert Prelutsky:  Look, all he did was call them "nappy-headed ho’s".  He’s not Hitler for Chrissakes!

Shorter Lorie Byrd:  The Virginia Tech murders?  That’s freedom at work, baby!

Shorter Kathleen Parker:  My anti-abortion rhetoric is better than your pro-choice rhetoric.

Shorter Oliver North:  Virginia Tech, Iran, same diff….

Shorter David "Not My Brother" Limbaugh:  Women like Justice Ginsberg — who refuse to bow to the patriarchy and who believe woman should control their lives — are just being inflexible.

Shorter Charles Krauthammer: People should use the Virginia Tech killings to advance their own political ideology (P.S.  Ignore what I said two days ago)

The 32 Victims

Today is the Day of Mourning for the people of V Tech, and to a larger extent, the country — after which (one hopes) all can never forget, but move on.

You may want to avoid the maudlin media profiles of the V Tech victims and try to understand more about them by viewing their myspace pages.  Mydeathspace has compiled the links of 17 of them.

Do My Stuff

DomystuffI find this appealing — an eBay-like service where people post their chores they don’t want to do:

Whether is cleaning out your gutters, buffing your car or being a good father to your children, you can post it up. People then bid down on your task, until you select someone to do the work. You then place your money in escrow with the company, until the task is accomplished and your new slave assistant gets paid. It’s possible to limit bidding by location, and, well, that’s it.

It’s called domystuff.com and if it catches on (the way eBay has done), it could become one of those indepensible things of daily life (for some).  One wonders, however, how far people will take the phrase "do my stuff".

I Blog Like A Girl

At least, I blog like a girl according to researchers who have devised an algorithm for this sort of thing.

Well, I blog sort of like a girl.

Words: 540

The Gender Genie thinks the author of this passage is: female!

Try it yourself.

The Blame Game

Compiled by Cynical-C Blog:

It’s the fault of violent video games.

It’s the fault of movies.

It’s that no other students were armed.

It’s the cowardly students who didn’t rush the shooter.

It’s the first victim’s fault.

It’s secularism’s fault.

It’s the Muslims’ and/or foreigners’ fault.

It’s the Atheists’ fault.

It’s the fault of the colleges and how they coddle their students.

It’s society’s fault.

It’s the Second Amendment’s fault.

It’s the bureaucracy’s fault.

It’s the fault of Roanoke Firearms, where he bought the gun.

It’s the authorities’ fault.

It’s the Liberals’ fault.

It’s pedophilia, homosexual couplings and adulterous behavior’s fault. (Not sure if he means all at the same time or separately.)

It’s capitalism’s fault.

It’s the fault of psychiatric drugs.

It’s the Devil’s fault.

It’s South Korea’s fault.

It’s the hippies’ fault. (Nobody’s blaming the Yippies yet)

It’s the media and culture’s fault.

It’s the murderer’s fault.

It’s the legal system’s fault.

It’s the fault of the Virginia Tech officials.

It’s the fault of the Chinese.

It’s the fault of this blogger who happens to be asian, likes guns and who recently broke up with his girlfriend.

It’s Simon Cowell’s fault.

It’s Bill Gates’ fault.

It’s the fault of trauma induced mind control by a military industrial complex.

It’s the killer’s parents’ and/or gun makers’ fault.

It’s the fault that colleges have co-ed dorms and/or students who major in English.

It’s a lack of funding for mental health services’ fault.

It’s the GOP’s fault.

It’s the Democrats’ fault.

It’s NBC’s fault.

It’s autism’s fault.

It’s al Jazeera or Palestinian TV’s fault.

It’s the fault of pro-choice doctors.

It’s Collective Soul’s fault.

It’s the fault of professors who survived the Holocaust and are not armed to the teeth.

Well, I have my own (stupid) pet theory.  It’s the fault of a woman named Regina Rohde.  Trouble seems to follow her:

Eight years ago, she was a freshman at Columbine High School in Colorado when two classmates, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, came in armed to the teeth and bent on murder.

***

And now, on Monday morning, it was happening again. Rohde wasn’t in the direct line of fire, but she knew that a gunman was on the prowl, and she found herself experiencing the same emotions as she had in 1999.

"It was a lot of the same reactions. ‘What’s going on? Who’s hurt? Where do we go?’ — the same kind of questions that we asked ourselves" at Columbine, she said.

UPDATE:  A few days ago, some on the right were quick to jump on the "blame Islam" bandwagon:

First it was Johnny Muhammad, now it was Cho Sueng Hui aka Ismail Ax. Precisely how many mass shooters have to turn out to have adopted Muslim names before we get it? Islam has become the tribe of choice of those who hate American society.

Hmmmmm.  Well, what was Cho’s "tribe of choice"?  Let’s check out today’s Bloomberg headline:

Virginia Shooter Compared Himself to Christ in Video

By Nick Allen

April 19 (Bloomberg) — The Virginia Tech university student who killed 32 people in modern America’s worst mass shooting compared his own impending death to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

"I die like Jesus Christ, to inspire generations of the weak and defenseless people," Cho Seung Hui, 23, said during a rambling video message that he mailed to NBC News after killing his first two victims.

Would those premature speculators like to revise their comments, and argue that Christianity "has become the tribe of choice of those who hate American society"?

No, I thought not.

The Stupidity, It Burns

It’s hard to understand why Dinish D’Souza is called one of the prominent thinkers of the American Right, when he writes absolutely amazingly dumb things like this:

Notice something interesting about the aftermath of the Virginia Tech shootings? Atheists are nowhere to be found. Every time there is a public gathering there is talk of God and divine mercy and spiritual healing. Even secular people like the poet Nikki Giovanni use language that is heavily drenched with religious symbolism and meaning.

Atheists are nowhere to be found?  How does Dinish know?

By the way, here’s what poet Nikki Giovanni said — in its entirety — at the Virginia Tech convocation on April 17.  Dinish says this is "heavily drenched with religious symbolism".  See if you can spot it:

We are Virginia Tech.

We are sad today, and we will be sad for quite a while. We are not moving on, we are embracing our mourning.

We are Virginia Tech.

We are strong enough to stand tall tearlessly, we are brave enough to bend to cry, and we are sad enough to know that we must laugh again.

We are Virginia Tech.

We do not understand this tragedy. We know we did nothing to deserve it, but neither does a child in Africa dying of AIDS, neither do the invisible children walking the night away to avoid being captured by the rogue army, neither does the baby elephant watching his community being devastated for ivory, neither does the Mexican child looking for fresh water, neither does the Appalachian infant killed in the middle of the night in his crib in the home his father built with his own hands being run over by a boulder because the land was destabilized. No one deserves a tragedy.

We are Virginia Tech.

The Hokie Nation embraces our own and reaches out with open heart and hands to those who offer their hearts and minds. We are strong, and brave, and innocent, and unafraid. We are better than we think and not quite what we want to be. We are alive to the imaginations and the possibilities. We will continue to invent the future through our blood and tears and through all our sadness.

We are the Hokies.

We will prevail.

We will prevail.

We will prevail.

We are Virginia Tech.

Moving words, but is that "heavily drenched with religious symbolism"?  I think not.

But then Dinish sinks to even lower levels of illogical delusion.  In his column, he skewers noted evolutionist Richard Dawkins, and then adds:

To no one’s surprise, Dawkins has not been invited to speak to the grieving Virginia Tech community. What this tells me is that if it’s difficult to know where God is when bad things happen, it is even more difficult for atheism to deal with the problem of evil. The reason is that in a purely materialist universe, immaterial things like good and evil and souls simply do not exist. For scientific atheists like Dawkins, Cho’s shooting of all those people can be understood in this way–molecules acting upon molecules.

Oh this is going to be fun.  Let’s apply Dinish’s logic to other people, as in:

"To no one’s surprise, Pat Robertson has not been invited to speak to the grieving Virginia Tech community. What this tells me is that if it’s difficult to know where God is when bad things happen, it is even more difficult to predict when He will send hurricanes to strike the Gulf Coast."

or how about

"To no one’s surprise, Jeff Foxworthy has not been invited to speak to the grieving Virginia Tech community. What this tells me is that if it’s difficult to know where God is when bad things happen, it is even more difficult to know whether or not you’re smarter than a 5th grader."

Really, Dinish.  There’s no reason to treat the non-invitation of someone as a rebuke of what they stand for.

This has been another installment in a continuing series known as "The Virginia Tech Killings Prove Everything I’ve Always Believed To Be True".

UPDATE: Another response to Dinish:

Then again we had an indifferent God who allowed thirty-two innocent people to be slaughtered and He couldn’t even bother to raise a finger

If this is the best God that religion has to offer, I think we’re gonna need a better deity…

I Have A Question

From ABC News, regarding the VA Tech shooter:

Some news accounts have suggested that Cho had a history of antidepressant use, but senior federal officials tell ABC News that they can find no record of such medication in the government’s files. This does not completely rule out prescription drug use, including samples from a physician, drugs obtained through illegal Internet sources, or a gap in the federal database, but the sources say theirs is a reasonably complete search.

My question: The government has a database of people who have anti-depression medication, but they don’t have a database of anyone who buys a gun?

If “On Golden Pond” Had Been Written By Cho Seung Hui

ACT TWO

Scene One

Norman and Billy are in the main room of the cabin, tying fishing lures.  Ethel is straightening the house around them.

NORMAN

Careful, there, boy   You’re liable to take your eye out with one of those things.

ETHEL

Norman, you old poop.  Leave the boy alone.  He’s only trying to help.

BILLY

Yeah, Norman.  And take your hands off me, you perv.  You’re nothing but a child rapist.  I bet you like giving it to kids in the ass.  Is that it?  You like doing them up the butt, you senile old fudgepacker?

NORMAN

You like that word, don’t you — "fudgepacker"?

BILLY

Fuck yeah, I like that word, you rapist.  What are you going to do about it?

NORMAN

Hmmmm.  It’s a good word.

ETHEL (wielding a chainsaw, lunging at Norman)

Norman!  You know I don’t like those words!

[She swings the chainsaw at him striking his arm.  It falls off]

BILLY (laughing)

Way to go, you dried up cunt of a woman!

ETHEL (turning to Billy)

You’re nothing but a Satan child!

NORMAN (bleeding)

Ooooowww!

BILLY (to Ethel)

What are you going to do?  Fuck me in the ass?  I bet you want to.  Why don’t you?  Or better yet, why don’t you fuck yourself!  In the nose!   With that chainsaw!  Yeah, I bet you want to.

[Billy whips out a lawnmower from behind the sofa, and revs it up.  He lifts it over his head and brings the spinning blades down full force over Ethel.  Pieces of her fly all about the cabin]

BILLY

Fuck yeah.  Stupid fucking rich white motherfuckahs.

THE END

BREAKING: Supreme Court Upholds Ban On Partial Birth Abortion

MSNBC story here.

Opinion here.

No time to read the opinion and give my expert legal analysis, but it’s clear that Stenberg v. Carhart (2000) is effectively overturned (although the majority opinion denies that they are doing so).  The different between that case and this one?  Alito is on the Court; O’Connor is not.

UPDATE:  Lyle Denniston of SCOTUSBLOG does the work, so I don’t have to:

Dividing 5-4, the Supreme Court on Wednesday gave a sweeping — and only barely qualified — victory to the federal government and to other opponents of abortion, upholding the 2003 law that banned what are often called "partial-birth abortions."

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote for the majority in the first-ever decision by the Court to uphold a total ban on a specific abortion procedure — prompting the dissenters to argue that the Court was walking away from the defense of abortion rights that it had made since the original Roe v. Wade decision in 1973 recognized a constitutional right to end pregnancy medically. Roe v. Wade was not overturned by the new ruling, as some filings before the Court had urged.

The Court said that it was upholding the law as written — that is, its facial language. It said that the lawsuits challenging the law faciallly should not have been allowed in court "in the first instance." The proper way to make a challenge, if an abortion ban is claimed to harm a woman’s right to abortion, is through as as-applied claim, Kennedy wrote. His opinion said that courts could consider such claims "in discrete and well-defined instances" where "a condition has or is likely to occur in which the procedure prohibited by the Act must be used."

Kennedy said the Court was assuming that the federal ban would be unconstitutional "if it subjected women to significant health risks." He added, however, that "safe medical options are available." His opinion noted that the Bush Administration "has acknowledged that pre-enforcement, as-applied challenges to the Act can be maintained."

The majority said it had not "uncritically" deferred to Congress’ factual findings in passing the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003. "We do not in the circumstances here place dispositive weight on Congress’ findings," Kennedy wrote, adding that the Court was not accepting the Bush Administration argument that the law could be upheld on the basis of those findings alone. He added "The Court retains an independent constitutional duty to review factual findings where constitutional rights are at stake."

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, speaking out in the courtroom for the dissenters, called the ruling "an alarming decision" that refuses "to take seriously" the Court’s 1992 decisions reaffirming most of Roe v. Wade and its 2000 decision in Stenberg v. Carhart striking down a state partial-birth abortion law.

Ginsburg, in a lengthy statement, said "the Court’s opinion tolerates, indeed applauds, federal intervention to ban nationwide a procedure found necessary and proper in certain cases by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. For the first time since Roe, the Court blesses a prohibition with no exception protecting a woman’s health." She said the federal ban "and the Court’s defense of it cannot be understood as anything other than an effort to chip away at a right declared again and again by this Court — and with increasing comprehension of its centrality to women’s lives. A decision of the character the Court makes today should not have staying power."

That final comment, concluding remarks delivered matter-of-factly, clearly was a suggestion that the ruling might not survive new appointments to the Court — just as the arrival of Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., and, especially, Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr. — had led to the switch she claimed had come about this time. Ginsburg pointedly noted that the Court is "differently imposed that it was when we last considered a restrictive abortion regulation" — in Stenberg in 2000.

Joining Kennedy in the majority were the Chief Justice, and Justices Alito, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. With Ginsburg in dissent were Justices Stephen G. Breyer, David H. Souter and John Paul Stevens. Thus, Alito’s replacement of retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor made the most difference in turning the Court around from its 2000 decision in the Stenberg case. O’Connor was in the majority in that decision, as were the four dissenters in this new decision.

Something strikes me as a bit odd about the procedural aspects that result from this ruling.  It looks like the law banning partial birth abortions can still be challenged in as-applied, "discrete" instances.  The problem, of course, is that if a partial birth abortion procedure is medically required, the woman patient isn’t going to have the time to dick around for months in courtrooms.  Maybe I’m missing something.

Personally, I can’t get too worked up about this.  The partial birth abortion procedure has gotten a lot of press, and anti-choice advocates get really really worked up about it.  But the fact is, it is a very, very little-used procedure, used only in the rarest of abortion cases, and only where it is medically necessary.  I’m not sure this opinion represents a huge victory for the anti-choice crowd, nor does it really come close to signalling the death knell for Roe v. Wade.  Perhaps the negative impact of this decision is a change in the way courts look at abortion challenges, rather than the actual result in this particular corner of the battle.  But I’d have to get in to the opinion to make that assessment for sure.

UPON SOME REVIEW:  I’m loving Ginsburg’s dissent.  Her points, distilled by me:

  • The majority is saying that the government has a legitimate and substantial interest in preserving fetal life.  But that’s a bullshit rationale, because the law in question doesn’t save a single fetal life.  It only bans one method of abortion, forcing (some) women to choose an alternative (and perhaps more dangerous) procedure.
  • The majority admits — they admit — that their basis for upholding the ban is based on "moral concerns".  But when it comes to "moral concerns" over "fundamental rights", it is the job of the courts to protect rights.
  • The majority whips out that old canard that women who have abortions come to regret this decision and suffer from "severe depression".  Do they have any evidence for this?  How frequently does this happen?  While the decision to have an abortion is unquestionably difficult for most women, what’s that basis for the conclusion that most, or even many, women "come to regret the decision"?  There is no conclusive evidence — yet the majority just states it as if it was fact.
  • The majority’s decision is paternalistic, harkening back to the ancient days where women knew their place and men made all the important decisions.  Under the court’s decision today, women will become less informed about decisions that affect their bodies and their lives.
  • The majority is clearly biased,  They use the word "baby" and "unborn child" to describe what is more accurately a "fetus".  Obststricians are referred to as "abortion doctors" (a perjorative term).  Second term abortions are referred to as "late term" abortions.
  • The decision allows for an "as applied" challenge to the law.  But in the real world, when a doctor is faced with having to make an immediate decision — i.e., to perform a partial birth abortion when the mother is in medical need — what’s he going to do?  Save the woman and risk criminal prosecution?  The court’s decision really puts the screws to him and mothers.

Here’s her strongest quote:

Today’’s decision is alarming. It refuses to take Casey and Stenberg seriously. It tolerates, indeed applauds, federal intervention to ban nationwide a procedure found necessary and proper in certain cases by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). It blurs the line, firmly drawn in Casey, between previability and postviability abortions. And, for the first time since Roe, the Court blesses a prohibition with no exception safeguarding a woman’s health.

Five For Five

He’s Asian.  He attends Virginia Tech.  He lives in Harper Hall there.  He looooves guns (and owns many of them).  And he recently broke up with his girlfriend.

He wants you to know — he’s not the guy.

Blaming The Victim

Well, so far from the right wing punditry, we’ve learned where to lay the blame re: yesterday’s mass shooting.  The list, as I wrote in an earlier post, includes the teaching of evolution in schools, English as a collegiate major, foreigners in general, abortion, and co-ed dorms.

Now add the most insidious spin: the shootings could have been prevented by the students themselves.

Yup, the right wing punditry is now claiming that Virginia Tech students are wussies.

The last time we checked in with NRO’s John Derbyshire, he was expounding on his own hypothetical bravery regarding Iranian hostage-takers. Today, we learn that he also is completely fearless in imaginary domestic scenarios as well:

Spirit of Self-Defense [John Derbyshire]

As NRO’s designated chickenhawk, let me be the one to ask: Where was the spirit of self-defense here? Setting aside the ludicrous campus ban on licensed conceals, why didn’t anyone rush the guy? It’s not like this was Rambo, hosing the place down with automatic weapons. He had two handguns for goodness’ sake—one of them reportedly a .22.

At the very least, count the shots and jump him reloading or changing hands. Better yet, just jump him. Handguns aren’t very accurate, even at close range. I shoot mine all the time at the range, and I still can’t hit squat. I doubt this guy was any better than I am. And even if hit, a .22 needs to find something important to do real damage—your chances aren’t bad.

Yes, yes, I know it’s easy to say these things: but didn’t the heroes of Flight 93 teach us anything? As the cliche goes—and like most cliches. It’s true—none of us knows what he’d do in a dire situation like that. I hope, however, that if I thought I was going to die anyway, I’d at least take a run at the guy.

If I had to choose a favorite insane statement here — like, say, if someone was holding a gun to my head — I think it’d be the idea that, "At the very least, count the shots and jump him reloading or changing hands. Better yet, just jump him." Or, best yet: you could always try the ol’, "Shoe’s untied!" bit. Works with my theoretical mass shooting murderers all the time.

The Carpetbagger mocks Derbyshire:

My favorite insane statement was Derbyshire’s argument that “even if hit, a .22 needs to find something important to do real damage — your chances aren’t bad.”

Let’s make this perfectly clear. Students are sitting in their classroom. They hear gun shots and screaming, and the noises are getting closer. They quickly realize that their lives are in immediate danger. At this very terrorizing moment, Derbyshire thinks that these students should think to themselves, “Hey, I think I know the caliber of that firearm! Not only that, I also think that a .22 would only do minor damage to me after it’s fired into my body at close range! Millions of years of well-honed instincts are telling me to run like hell, but instead I’m inclined to run towards the well-armed madman!”

Derbyshire’s thoughts are a special kind of stupid, combing a unique blend of blame-the-victim arrogance, Monday-morning quarterbacking, unearned machismo, and a breathtaking degree of callousness.

Human Events Online contributor Nathaneal Blake joins in with the student-bashing, saying that Virginia Tech students should be ashamed of themselves:

Something is clearly wrong with the men in our culture. Among the first rules of manliness are fighting bad guys and protecting others: in a word, courage. And not a one of the healthy young fellows in the classrooms seems to have done that.

***

Like Derb, I don’t know if I would live up to this myself, but I know that I should be heartily ashamed of myself if I didn’t. Am I noble, courageous and self-sacrificing? I don’t know; but I should hope to be so when necessary.

You know something?  It’s really really easy to imagine yourself being a hero when sitting in front of a computer banging away at the keyboard.  One wonders, however, why folks like Derbyshire and Blake aren’t being heroes in Iraq — protecting out country and all that.  C’mon you manly men.  Sign up.  I hear the Army is looking for a few good men….

UPDATE:   John Cole has a nice takedown of Derbyshire too.  Read it and be sure to read the comments, like this one:

Jesus. Count the fucking shots? Is this Dodge City and everybody’s got a six-shooter? How many shots fit it the magazine of the average semi-auto handgun? Nine? Twelve? I have no fucking idea and I suspect most others don’t either.

How many guns does he have? Is he firing from both at the same time?

Count the shots… What a fucking tool.

Don’t get me started on “it was only a .22”

As another commenter noted, he had a gun with an enhanced clip.  So even if you could (magically) know what gun he was using, you wouldn’t know how many bullets were in the clip.

The Root Cause Of The Virginia Tech Massacre

The gunman, student Cho Seung-hui, was a "loner".

Could have predicted that.

He was also a resident alien, originally from South Korea.  How long before wingnuts on the right use this for an anti-immigration anti-Muslim ("keep them ferners out") platform?

"THAT DIDN’T TAKE LONG" UPDATE:  The prize goes to radio talk show host and wingnut Debbie Schlussel, who was pushing for the Muslim/terrorist angle as early as 3:00 yesterday:

So who is the shooter? What is the shooter’s nationality? What is the shooter’s religion? Waiting to find out. And wondering why the police and media are referring to the shooter as "Asian" and not by specific nationality.

If I were Asian, I’d be legitimately upset with this broad generalization of the mass murderer’s identity.

Why am I speculating that the "Asian" gunman is a Pakistani Muslim? Because law enforcement and the media strangely won’t tell us more specifically who the gunman is. Why?

Even if it does not turn out that the shooter is Muslim, this is a demonstration to Muslim jihadists all over that it is extremely easy to shoot and kill multiple American college students.

Posted by Debbie at April 16, 2007 02:57 PM

Why were you speculating that the "Asian" gunman is a Pakistani Muslim, Debbie?  Um, because you’re a bigot?

UPDATE:  Well, now I’ve seen it all.

We live in an era when public high schools and colleges have all but banned God from science classes. In these classrooms, students are taught that the whole universe, including plants and animals–and humans–arose by natural processes. Naturalism (in essence, atheism) has become the religion of the day and has become the foundation of the education system (and Western culture as a whole). The more such a philosophy permeates the culture, the more we would expect to see a sense of purposelessness and hopelessness that pervades people’s thinking. In fact, the more a culture allows the killing of the unborn, the more we will see people treating life in general as "cheap."

I’m not at all saying that the person who committed these murders at Virginia Tech was driven by a belief in millions of years or evolution.

Of course he’s not.  He’s only saying that this kind of thing is what we get indirectly when we teach evolution.

[UPDATE:  Oh, man.  Now we’re blaming it on co-ed dorms and liberal arts:

And I’m sorry, some will really think me foolish, but I don’t think dorms should be co-ed, so that crazed, jealous boyfriends can enter their girlfriends’ dorms and kill them and the innocent young men who come to their aid.  If it had been a single-sex dorm, the killer might not have been able to enter so readily.  There aren’t enough difficulties getting young people through college these days so that we have to deal with "domestic disputes" in their dormitories as well? 

And, sorry again, but thoughts also arise on the killer’s being an English major and on the spiritual emptiness of much education nowadays.   

Good lord.]

Look, people.  This has nothing to do with the fact that Cho was a "ferner".  It has even less to do with the fact that we teach evolution in schools [or co-ed dorms].  It’s because he was disturbed.

Christy Smith draws from her experience, and writes a good post about "red flags":

There are certain common threads that I saw a lot in working with abuse and neglect cases, juvenile offenders and adult criminals over the years of my practice.  And they were similarly identified by the psych professionals with whom I worked on a day to day basis, who provided therapy and evaluation services for us in particular cases — and in the literature about these sorts of issues and at seminars that I attended.  In particular, a seminar on violent juvenile offenders that I attended — run by the OJJDP — during the time I was a prosecutor, helped to hone in on the psychological aspects and root causes, as well as to indentify certain "red flag" behaviors that are common across the board in violent incidents.  These include, but are not limited to:

– Animal abuse, especially torture and physical violence of any kind.
— Arson/fire starting.
— A history of sexual abuse, either as a victim or a perpetrator.
— Anti-social/loner tendencies.
— Outbursts of anger.
— A history of bedwetting beyond young childhood range.
— Language delays, causing difficulty in comprehension or expression.
— An obsession with firearms or other explosive devices or weaponry.
— Abuse toward younger siblings or other family members.
— Violence in the home.
— Obsession with violent video games, or other violent media or literature.
— Drug and/or alcohol abuse, especially where it results in violent behavior while intoxicated.
— Truancy/delinquency issues.
— A home life that includes maltreatment, neglect and other emotional abuse issues, as well as exposure to physical abuse, to themselves or to others in the home.

This is by no means a complete list — there are a number of other factors as well, and any one or more of these factors may be present without seeing a child have issues with sociopathic or other violent behavior. But they should raise concerns for adults around that child, and should at the least say that the child needs some extra intervention to be certain that the behavior and questions raised do not spiral downward into more violent behavior. This includes aggressive mental health intervention, as well as family counseling, where appropriate, because so often mental health problems go hand in hand with a lot of the red flag problems raised above.

We can talk about gun control, but the real root problem is psycho-social.  That’s what we need to talk about.  Not immigration.  Not eveolution.

UPDATE:  Here’s a look into his mind — from a play he wrote for his creative writing class:

Cho’s bizarre play features a 13-year-old boy who accuses his stepfather of pedophilia and murdering his father. …The teenager talks of killing the older man and, at one point, the child’s mother brandishes a chain saw at the stepfather. The play ends with the man striking the child with "a deadly blow."

Read it.  It’s seriously fucked.

UPDATE:  Another play.

Professor, A Holocaust Survivor, Sacrifices His Life For His Students

One of the many stories you’ll be hearing in the next few days:

Professor Liviu Librescu, 76, threw himself in front of the shooter when the man attempted to enter his classroom. The Israeli mechanics and engineering lecturer was shot to death, "but all the students lived – because of him," Virginia Tech student Asael Arad – also an Israeli – told Army Radio.

Several of Librescu’s other students sent e-mails to his wife, Marlena, telling of how he had blocked the gunman’s way and saved their lives, said Librescu’s son, Joe.

Barry Manilow Can’t Make Up His Mind

Celebrity donations to political candidates:

Hillary Clinton: Candice Bergen, Christie Brinkley, Chevy Chase, Hugh Hefner, Christine Lahti, Barry Manilow, Marla Maples, Rosie O’Donnell, Jerry Springer, Barbra Streisand

Barack Obama: Jennifer Aniston, Jackson Browne, Morgan Freeman, Tom Hanks, Dennis Haysbert, Tobey Maguire, Barry Manilow, Branford Marsalis, Eddie Murphy, Ed Norton, Ben Stiller, Gene Wilder

Chris Dodd: Edie Brickell, Michael Douglas, Steve Martin, Lorne Michaels, Paul Newman, Elisabeth Shue, Paul Simon, Joanne Woodward

John Edwards: Larry David, Seth Green, Don Henley

Bill Richardson: Michael Douglas, Rosie O’Donnell, Rob Reiner

Rudy Giuliani: Kelsey Grammer, John O’Hurley, Adam Sandler, Ben Stein

Tragedy Whores

Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church people are planning to protest at the funerals of the Virginia Tech dead.

These people have no shame.

For those that don’t know, Phelps & Co. are the "religious" people who show up at funerals for falled Iraqi war soldiers with loud signs and shouting that "God hates fags" and "God hates America" and other nonsense.

Imus In The Mourning

So Cheryl says to me that Imus has a constitutional right to say whatever he wants.

She’s right; of course he does.  The First Amendment says that the government cannot impinge on your freedom of speech.

However, freedom of speech does not mean you are free from the consequences of your speech.  If your 8 year old son or daughter decides to call you a "fucking whore", that kid is going to face the music for that, and nothing in the Constitution protects him or her.  Why not?  Because you’re not the government; you’re the kid’s parent.

Now, if the FCC came down on Imus’s ass, then it would be a First Amendment issue.  And — much as I have a strong distaste for Imus — I would probably have risen to his defense.  But the repercussions here didn’t come from the government, so the Constitutional right is irrelevant here.

Zurich_hNews pioneer Fred Friendly said it best:  "There’s a difference between what you have a right to do, and the right thing to do."  Imus had a right to call the accomplished women college basketball players, like the one pictured on the right, "nappy-headed hos", but it wasn’t the right thing to do.

Yes, Imus has the right to be an ignorant bigot.  By the same token, advertisers on his radio show, not wanting to be associated with his ugliness, had the right to withdraw their sponsorship of Imus.  And MSNBC and CBS had the right to take him off the air.  After all, it’s their camers, it’s their microphone, and they can put anybody they want in front of them.

I also have little tolerance from Imus’ defenders who say, "it was a joke that went too far".  A joke?  What, exactly, about that was supposed to be funny?  Read the transcript.  It wasn’t a joke that fell flat; it wasn’t a joke at all!  It wasn’t the punchline to a joke — nor it was it a set-up to a punchline.  He just flat-out called them a racial epithet.

When Imus used the phrase, he was not intending to be funny; he was intending only to be mean and insulting.  And he succeeded.

So, he exercised his right to free speech.  And so — now — have his employers, his advertisers and the public.  And they spoke clearly: "Enough is enough".  Actions have consequences, Imus.  Welcome to the real world.

“Lost” White House E-mail Update

Here’s the story so far.

There are two laws at issue here.

One is the Presidential Records Act, which requires that all communications and documents from and to the White House be preserved.  This includes, among many other things, e-mail.

Then there is the Hatch Act.  This requires that campaigning and other such matters NOT be done within the White House and with government equipment.  For example, the staff of a President cannot solicit voters from the White House using the White House phone.  They cannot send out mass e-mails using White House computers.  This is because the property of the White House belongs to the government — i.e., you and me.  We pay for it, so it doesn’t belong to Republicans or Democrats.

So a lot of White House people necessarily wear more than one hat.   Karl Rove, for example, as Chief of Staff to the President of the United States, has duties within that official realm.  But he also has duties as titular head of the Republican Party.  So he has to be careful that he does the right work within the right realm.

And apparently, he and others were not doing this.  They were using their email accounts with the Republican National Commitee to conduct official U.S. business.  This came to light in the U.S. Attorney purge scandal, when some of the documents released showed that Kyle Sampson (the chief of staff to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales) and others were communicating about official government business with email addresses like ksampson@gwb43.com, i.e. non-governmental servers.

Using non-governmental email accounts to conduct governmental business is not a violation of the Hatch Act.  You might be hearing references to it on the news — but don’t get sucked in.  It’s a red herring. The Hatch Act is a one-way street.  You cannot conduct campaign-related activity with government property (such as computers), but it doesn’t prevent government people from doing official government work on with, say, their AOL account. 

No, the problem here is the Presidential Records Act (or "PRA").  If official government-related emails are sent through non-governmental computers, those records have to be preserved.

The question here is why.  Why would Rove and others use RNC email accounts to conduct official government business.  Think about it.  Is this even smart?  One would think that the Bush Administration, so concerned about national security, would not allow official government work to be conducted through relatively insecure email accounts.  So why was this the practice?

Well, the answer is obvious.  These other computer servers don’t comply with the Presidential Records Act, since they are not government computers.  So the emails can get "lost" there.  Rove and others intentionally used non-White House email servers, so that those emails would get "lost" and never have to be turned over should an investigation arise.  Or, as John Cole put it:

Losing emails from non-official servers run by the Republican party is not a bug, it is a feature. This wasn’t a mistake- it was a plan.

Indeed.

Fortunately, like the war in Iraq, the plan was not well-thought out.  And, we learn this morning, the RNC didn’t routinely delete all the emails that went through their server. 

Why not?

Because back in August 2004, when Plamegate was being investigated, the RNC stopped deleting the White House staff’s emails in response to "unspecified legal inquiries".  Legal note: it is illegal to destroy evidence if you reasonably think it might be relevant to a pending investigation.  The RNC wisely stopped deleting those emails from its severs.

With one exception:  Karl Rove.

According to Mr. Kelner [counsel for RNC], although the hold started in August 2004, the RNC does not have any e-mails prior to 2005 for Mr. Rove. Mr. Kelner did not give any explanation for the e-mails missing from Mr. Rove’s account, but he did acknowledge that one possible explanation is that Mr. Rove personally deleted his e-mails from the RNC server.

Mr. Kelner also explained that starting in 2005, the RNC began to treat Mr. Rove’s emails in a special fashion. At some point in 2005, the RNC commenced an automatic archive policy for Mr. Rove, but not for any other White House officials. According to Mr. Kelner, this archive policy removed Mr. Rove’s ability to personally delete his e-mails from the RNC server. Mr. Kelner did not provide many details about why this special policy was adopted for Mr. Rove. But he did indicate that one factor was the presence of investigative or discovery requests or other legal concerns. It was unclear from Mr. Kelner’s briefing whether the special archiving policy for Mr. Rove was consistently in effect after 2005.

This is obstruction of justice, and it rests right at the feet of Karl Rove.

SIDENOTE:  Throw into this mix the issue of "executive privilege".  The legal maxim is this: you can’t claim privilege if you have already given it up.  For example, if I have a privileged conversation with my attorney, and then I go and blab the conversation to the newspaper or some third party, I can’t go back later and say, "Well, it was a confidential conversation between me and my attorney".  I have waived the privilege. 

"Executive privilege" applies to communications between the President and his advisors.  It does not apply to communications among the advisors (unless those communications reflect advice given to the President).  But in any event, if this stuff is so confidential and sensitive, then one would not have carried on these communications through RNC computer servers.  Read this for a better run-down.

The latest news on the executive privilege front is this:

White House Counsel Fred Fielding is now claiming that the emails Karl Rove and his colleagues sent from RNC and Bush Campaign domains — in a transparent attempt to avoid the Presidential Records Act and keep them permanently hidden from investigators — are nonetheless covered by executive privilege.

Yes, you read that right: emails sent from non-government-owned computers using non-government email addresses are nevertheless part of the President’s executive apparatus and may not be examined by Congress.

Here’s the thing.  It doesn’t matter a whit what Fielding says.  The Judiciary Committee can simply subpoena the RNC for information on its servers.  The White House cannot claim privilege over matters that are not under its custody and control (well, they can try, but it will just get laughed out of the courthouse).  [P.S.  Read the link above; Kleiman has a pretty good secnario of how this might all play out]

UPDATE:  Glenn Greenwald does the yeomans’ work in catalogueing the history of the Bush Administration’s past foibles in "losing" documents.  His examples range from the handling of Hurricane Katrina to the treatment of Jose Padilla to the removal of eight federal prosecutors.  He closes with this:

Rove and company were well-aware of their legal obligations to preserve their communications, and were equally aware that using their White House emails to communicate would result in such preservation. This lengthy record by the Bush administration of finding ways to "lose" key documents relevant to investigations and judicial proceedings ought to leave little doubt about the corrupt intent motivating this behavior.

I should add, to those readers who don’t know, that I am an attorney whose major client is a major tobacco company.  If we attempted to "lose" or hide documents and emails in this manner, my colleagues and I would face serious charges.  What Rove has done is beyond the pale.

Breaking: White House “Lost” 5 Million Emails

In just a two-and-a-half year period – March 2003 to October 2005.

That’s astounding.  This from a report just issued by CREW.

Crewpra

Of course, "lost" doesn’t necessarily mean what people think it means.  Just because an email is deleted, and even deleted from the "deleted trash" folder, doesn’t mean it’s gone. 

From Justin over at ABC:

…But “deleted” doesn’t mean what it used to, according to computer forensic experts. Indeed, deleted emails and files, even years-old ones, are recovered all the time.

“We do it every day of the week,” said Beryl Howell of Stroz Freidburg LLC, a Washington, D.C.-based firm that specializes in recovering lost data for businesses complying with court orders, criminal investigators and others….

“They look at their backup systems and backup tapes,” Howell said, adding that “with any electronic storage media, you can do forensic recovery and find deleted data.”