Monthly Archives: August 2007

The Worldwide Sexual Relationship Database — Creepy? Hoax, Perhaps?

I don’t think I like this, and I’m not sure I want it to catch on: a website where you can enter a person’s name and find everyone that person has ever slept with.

Of course, the database is virtually empty now.  Here’s the blurb from the website:

In an effort to better understand society’s interconnected nature, this database was created to serve as a repository for information regarding the sexual histories of individuals, across the world and throughout time.

Simply enter a name, and all known sexual partners of this person will appear to the right. However, most individuals have yet to be entered into our database. If you have valid information regarding the sexual past of anyone, at any period of time, please enter it now. Your assistance is vital to the success of this project.

Sounds like a sexual "Seven Degress of Kevin Bacon" thing.

Personally, I would be concerned about someone entering in false data.  But don’t wory, they’ve thought of that….

To insure accuracy, anyone may edit sexual histories, provided he or she logs in with a valid email address.

Ah yes.  Having a valid email address will help "ensure accuracy".  WTF?!?

We reserve the right to ban users who knowingly provide false information, as this is not meant to be a forum for emotional retaliation or gamesmanship.

And how will they know whether or not someone is providing false information, pray tell?

I smell "lawsuit".

I also found this amusing:

For the purposes of this study, a sexual partner shall be defined as a human with whom a person has had oral, anal or vaginal sexual contact.

Thanks for the definition, guys.  I wasn’t sure what "Sex" means.

The venture is listed as "a project of the World Health Optimization Management", a group so obscure that there are no Google hits for them.

By the way, according to the database, I have never had a sexual partner.  While that is disconcerting, it is also fundamentally untrue.  However, I humbly request that nobody correct the database.

Fuzzy Math

Image002_9

Everyone’s talking about this graph, created by this guy, drawing data from Pentagon reports.

The blue line tracks the level of Iraq violence as indicated in the Pentagon’s August 2006 report.  The pink line tracks the level of Iraq violence as indicated in the Pentagon’s November 2006 and March 2007 reports.  The yellow line tracks the level of Iraq violence as indicated in the Pentagon’s June 2007 report.

As you can see, each time the Pentagon reports on the levl of violence in Iraq, the numbers change (as indicated by the A, B, and C, on the graph.

And we’re not just seeing random fluctuations — they’re mainly changing downward, in order to reflect lower sectarian violence. But why would the January 2006 be lower in the June report than in the March report? Were the dead resurrected?

You might notice though, that in the June report, killings were revised upward.  That’s true. But the timing matters. As Goldberg explains, "The impact here is that it makes the “pre surge” situation look extraordinarily dire and therefore signals progress thereafter."

Lesson: you can’t trust the Pentagon’s numbers.  The shell game here has to do with the term "sectarian murders," which the Pentagon is apparently defining differently from month to month, albeit without telling anyone what’s changed.

More On “Crazy Sexy Cancer”

KrisI noticed I’m getting a spike in traffic here (for some reason, I’m ranked number five at Yahoo for searches on this subject), and it is largely due to people googling "Crazy Sexy Cancer", the TLC documentary I blogged about earlier in the week.

For what it is worth, I finally got around to viewing it on my TIVO last night.  What a wonderful moving film.  Uplifting in its own way — not what you would expect from a documentary about incurable cancer.

I don’t want to give away too much, but Kris Carr was a New York actress.  She got a few small movie and off-Broadway roles.  She also got a couple of Budeweiser commercials that aired during the Super Bowl.  A few days after those aired — on Valentine’s Day 2003 — she found out that she has a rare form of cancer — essentually cancer in her vascular system.  Her blood spreads the cancer, and doctors discovered tumors in her liver and lungs.  She has 24 tumors total.  It cannot be treated with the usual cancer protocol (like chemotherapy) 

The bad news: her form of Stage 4 cancer is incurable and fatal.  On the other hand, this is an incredibly SLOW cancer.  She was told that the tumors could remain static for years.  And as long as the cancer decides not to spread, she’s fine.  But at some point, it would spread and kill her.

So what did Kris do?  As she says in the movie, she stopped her acting profession, and the cancer became her profession.  Basically, she immursed herself into two projects: (1) the project to cure herself (or at least cope), and (2) the project to create a video document of Project #1.  The "Crazy Sexy Cancer" film (and book) is the result.

Her story, she says, is less about a battle with cancer, than an adventure ride.  What started out as a video journal became this documentary. 

We watch as this cute young woman becomes knowledgeable about, and is able to wrap her mouth around, polysyllabic medical terms.   

We see her on the search for the right doctor, comparing it to being the CEO of a corporation and interviewing applicants for a job. “How could they revive my business strategy and keep my company alive and thriving,” she asks. 

We see her going to an alternative medicine convention, and laughing with (or at?) people encouraging her to get cured through "clown therapy" (which involves dressing up like a clown and laughing). 

We watch her down vegetable smoothies and barium to prepare for CT scans. 

But mostly, we enjoy her exuberance, humor and sass — things that never leave her.

Not sure if TLC is running it again, but if they do, you should really really watch it.

DOJ Investigating Gonzalez For Lying To Congress

Good:

The Justice Department’s inspector general indicated yesterday that he is investigating whether departing Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales gave false or misleading testimony to Congress, including whether he lied under oath about warrantless surveillance and the firings of nine U.S. attorneys.

I guess it’ll be easier for the DOJ to investigate the DOJ, now that Gonzalez no longer runs the DOJ.

The DOJ is also widening its internal probe into the U.S. Attorney firing scandal.

Moral Relativism

The "family values" people of the right are always fond of saying how important morality is, how strong they are on morality, etc.  Mostly, they extol the virtures (which they and apparently only they possess) of moral absolutism and castigate them libruls who exhibit moral relativism.

Fair enough.  Whatever.  So I was processing that, and processing the recent GOP sex scandals involving Republican Senators.  Here’s the breakdown, as I see it:

"Pro-Family" Political Agenda

Sen. Craig:  Yes
Sen. Vitter:  Yes

Desired Sex Outside of Marriage?

Sen. Craig:  Yes
Sen. Vitter:  Yes

Actively Sought Sex Outside of Marriage?

Sen. Craig:  Yes
Sen. Vitter:  Yes

Type of Sex Sought Outside of Marriage?

Sen. Craig:  Gay
Sen. Vitter:  Straight

Willing to Pay Money for Sex Outside of Marriage?

Sen. Craig:  No
Sen. Vitter:  Yes

Strategy To Obtain Sex Outside of Marriage

Sen. Craig:  Tapped foot in public restroom hoping other person would respond
Sen. Vitter:  Used cell phone on the floor of the Senate to call "D.C. Madam" to arrange for liasons

Sexual Liason Accomplished?

Sen. Craig:  No (not, at least, this time)
Sen. Vitter:  Several times that we know of

Illegality Commited?

Sen. Craig:  Debateable
Sen. Vitter:  Without question

Charged with crime?

Sen. Craig:  Yes
Sen. Vitter:  No

Sexual Predilections

Sen. Craig:  Anonymous gay sex in public restrooms
Sen. Vitter:  Straight sex with hookers whose name he knows, while wearing diapers

AND HERE’S THE BIG ONE….

Reaction from GOP collegaues

Sen. Craig:  Repeated calls for his resignation
Sen. Vitter:  Praise and applause

Can any explain to me the moral roadmap that leads to a total pass for Vitter, yet a total moral condemnation for Craig?

UPDATE:  Ross Douthat of The Atlantic asks the same question.  He suspects the "gay" factpr of the Craig scandal is what tips the scales….

I understand that there’s a difference, legally-speaking, between pleading guilty to a criminal offense and tacitly confessing to a crime you haven’t – and probably won’t – be charged with, but I still think it’s unfortunate that Larry Craig might be forced to resign by his fellow Republicans, while David Vitter has apparently survived being outed as a client of a major D.C. prostitution ring. I agree with Megan that what Craig did was arguably a greater betrayal of his wife than what Vitter may have done, but from any social-conservative calculus (or at least my social-conservative calculus) prostitution has to be considered a greater social evil than cruising for gay sex in bathrooms. This relates to a point I fumbled through in my conversation with Mark yesterday – the unfortunate extent to which socially-conservative politicians have focused their fire on gays, because opposing gay rights was for a long time an 80-20 issue for the Right (though no longer), while studiously ignoring the various beams in heterosexuals’ eyes. It’s a hard pattern to break, but the GOP could find worse places to start than making sure that Vitter shares whatever political fate awaits Larry Craig.

Interestingly, Romesh Ponneru at The Corner, an uber-social conservative himself, all but admits that there is no morality map to speak of here.  It’s mostly about politics, rather than principle.

I agree with Ross Douthat’s larger point about social conservatives’ double standards on sexual conduct, but I think he’s missing the reasons that the senators are provoking different reactions from their colleagues. I can think of four considerations that have to be going through the minds of Republican senators. First, the fact that Craig is (currently) denying he did anything wrong creates more opportunities for continuing bad press than Vitter can get. Second, the two senators are in different political circumstances. Craig is up for re-election next year and has a Republican governor; Vitter has a Democratic governor and isn’t up for re-election until 2010. Third, even if both states applied moral standards consistently, Idaho’s would probably end up being tougher than Louisiana’s. Fourth—and I think this may be the most important—Craig’s colleagues probably think that his compulsion is so strong that he may well act up again. He was on notice, after all, when he went to the airport bathroom. I don’t think they’re as worried that Vitter will be frequenting prostitutes.

New Words

smexting pp. Sending text messages while standing outside on a smoking break. [Blend of smoking and texting.]

Potterhead n. A person who is a big fan of the Harry Potter series of books.

floordrobe n. A pile of discarded clothes on the floor of a person’s room. [Blend of floor and wardrobe.]

carbage n. The garbage that accumulates in some cars, particularly in the back seat. [Blend of car and garbage.]

Source

Organ2/ASLSP

Want to hear LIVE modern classical music on the web?

You can, right now.

In 1987, John Cage composed a musical piece titled Organ²/ASLSP (As SLow aS Possible), with instruction that it should be played as slow as possible.

But how slow? In a 1997 conference, a group of organists, musicians and philosophers came up with a project to play Cage’s piece over 639 years! They got started in 2001 (a view days before 9/11), and although that was quite a while ago, you haven’t missed much: they’ve only played 5 notes so far.  The note that is being played now is a triad — it looks like A,C,F#.

The next note in the piece will come on May 7, 2008.

My thoughts:  It doesn’t have a good beat, and you can’t dance to it.

5-0 In The Bottom Of The 8th…

…as I write this.  Red Sox have gotten only two hits.

Sadly, No, predominately a political humor blog, just posted this:

My Undying Hatred

Posted at 21:12 by The Hon. Dr. St. Rev. Bradley S. Rocket, Esq, PhD, MD

All you had to do was not get swept by the Yankees this week. That’s all you had to do. And now you’re going to get swept. Jesus Christ, I hate you. I hate you all.

Sox1

A little harsh perhaps, but I understand where it comes from.

RELATED:  But the local boy is making good at the U.S. Open.

Iraq’s WMD Finally Found In New York City; Will Bush Invade the Upper East Side?

Yup.  They’ve been in a storage closet at the United Nations since 1996.

Flashback to March 2003:

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Finally, weapons of mass destruction. Key goal of the military campaign is finding those weapons of mass destruction. None have been found yet. There was a raid on the Answar Al-Islam Camp up in the north last night. A lot of people expected to find ricin there. None was found. How big of a problem is that? And is it curious to you that given how much control U.S. and coalition forces now have in the country, they haven’t found any weapons of mass destruction?

SEC. RUMSFELD: Not at all. If you think — let me take that, both pieces — the area in the south and the west and the north that coalition forces control is substantial. It happens not to be the area where weapons of mass destruction were dispersed. We know where they are. They’re in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat.

Ironically, Colin Powell was at the U.N. telling the world that that Iraq had WMDs.  Little did Powell know that the weapons would be found by a couple of janitors, four and a half years later, a few hundred yards from the place that Powell spoke.

“You Don’t Rewrite What I Write”

That’s a line from one of my favorite movies, Reds.  John Reed (Warren Beatty) is arguing with his Russian communist superiors how the speeches he ghostwrites to promote the communist cause somehow get altered when they are translated.  In the movie, this marks the beginning of Reed’s dissolutionment with socialism, a cause for which he championed his whole adult life.

Well, propagandistic re-writing is as alive and well now here in 21st century America as it was in early 20th century Russia.

Whether it’s reports on global warming, or assessments of situations in Iraq, the government officials who conduct studies and author reports find that, when the end product comes to public light, it is not what they wrote.  (Click the image below to embiggen)

08climategraph

Today comes yet another story of re-writes, this time pertaining to voter fraud and intimidation.  The author complains:

After the 2000 Florida election debacle, Congress established a body called the Election Assistance Commission to improve voting and democracy in this country. Two years ago, the commission approached me about doing a project that would take a preliminary look at voter fraud and intimidation and make recommendations for further research on the issues.

***

In all the time we were doing our research and drafting the report, neither the staff nor the commissioners, who were continually advised of our activities and the substance of our work, raised any concerns about the direction we were going or the research findings.

Yet, after sitting on the draft for six months, the EAC publicly released a report — citing it as based on work by me and my co-author — that completely stood our own work on its head.

Some examples?

Consider the title. Whereas the commission is mandated by law to study voter fraud and intimidation, this new report was titled simply "Election Crimes" and excluded a wide range of serious offenses that harm the system and suppress voting but are not currently crimes under the U.S. criminal code.

We said that our preliminary research found widespread agreement among administrators, academics and election experts from all points on the political spectrum that allegations of fraud through voter impersonation at polling places were greatly exaggerated. We noted that this position was supported by existing research and an analysis of several years of news articles. The commission chose instead to state that the issue was a matter of considerable debate.

We also raised questions about the way the Justice Department was handling complaints of fraud and intimidation. The commission excised all references to the department that might be construed as critical — or that Justice officials later took issue with.

She goes on, but you get the idea.  It’s very alarming that scientists’ and researchers’ work is being filtered and — literally — censored at the hands of partisan policymakers.  Apparently, truth is dangerous to this Administration.

Things That Make Me Roll My Eyes

USA Today:

A Colorado Springs elementary school no longer allows students to play tag because of fears the game "fuels schoolyard disputes," The Gazette reports.

“It causes a lot of conflict on the playground,” Assistant Principal Cindy Fesgen tells the paper.

She says they decided to ban the popular game after children complained about being chased around the schoolyard.

Well, that is the idea of "tag"….

RELATED:  North Carolina ranked 5th in childhood obesity….

Irrational Fear Of Olive-Skinned People

When you have people like Michelle Malkin and Sean Hannity whipping up frenzy about Muslims in general, and telling Americans to be "on guard" against terrorist plots, it’s not surprising that things like this happen:

A conflict between passengers at Lindbergh Field Tuesday night caused the overnight delay of an American Airlines flight headed to Chicago.

Hmmm.  A conflict.  What about?

Televised reports claimed that the incident involved a group of six to seven Iraqi Americans and another passenger who was apparently uncomfortable that the men were speaking in Arabic.

Six to seven men speaking Arabic.  That was what they were doing — speaking Arabic — and that’s what caused the passenger to freak out, and cause a flight to be postponed until the following day.  Despite the fact that these men (along with everyone else) went through the security measures.

Well, who were these guys?  Imams?  Radical would-be terrorist plane exploders?  What?  Sadly, the article doesn’t say.  Oh, but this one does:

The six Iraqi passengers had been training Marines at Camp Pendleton and worked for Defense Training Systems, a unit of International Logistics Services Corp. of Anchorage, Alaska, said Dave Stephens, the company’s chief executive officer.

Hmmm.  Kinda sounds like they were on our side.

Katrina Doctor Tells Story

The doctor who was accused of murdering patients in New Orleans as Katrina approached (fortunately, the grand jury refused to indict her) recounts the heart-wrenching facts of those days in Time.  A snippet:

In normal triage situations, the sickest people are treated first. But my understanding is that conditions were so bad, you and the other medical staff switched to a reverse triage or battlefield approach. Tell me about this.
The conditions were unbearable. Inside the hospital it was pitch black, with odors, smell, human waste everywhere. It was very rancid. You would take a breath in and it would burn the back of your throat. The patients were very sick. That’s when we had to go from triage to reverse triage because we came to realize if patients aren’t being evacuated, [we had to deal with what we had]. Basically it was a general consensus that we’re not going to be able to save everybody. We hope that we can, but we realize everybody may not make it out.

What were the categories?
We divided patients into groups one, two and three. Patients in category one are able to sit up and walk and are not very sick. Patients in three are critically ill, “Do Not Resuscitate.” The ones in category two were sick, but doing much [better than those in category three]. The triage system was very crude—we’d write the number 1, 2 or 3 on a sheet of paper and tape it across the patient’s chest with their hospital records. There was limited use of flashlights. There were limited batteries. [Parts of the hospital] were pitch black. I’m talking jet black. Very dangerous. It was pitch dark in inner rooms.

What is the reverse triage process like?
Let me tell you, for a patient to be triaged—typical triage isn’t that difficult. Reverse triage is heart wrenching. Absolutely heart wrenching. You place patients into categories. With boats coming and going we could evacuate patients who could sit. There were elderly couples—how do you make that decision who can go when one was sick and the spouse wasn’t? Do you let elderly couples go together as husband and wife? Some of these couples had been married 50 years.

I can’t possibly imagine what it must have been like, as a doctor, to be called upon to make decisions about who is to live and who is to die.

An Unconfortable Experience In The Public Men’s Room

As a fitting coda to my paranoid post yesterday, I’d thought I’d pass on this post from a diarist at Daily Kos:

Two weeks ago, the kids and I went on a trip to visit friends in San Antonio, Texas.  On the way we stopped at a rest area just off the interstate.  What happened next made me very uneasy…

I was drinking coffee heavily so that I would stay awake and needed to relieve myself pretty badly.  I pulled into a rest area, locked the car doors, left the kids sleeping in the car, and went into the restroom.  When I entered I noticed it was unoccupied except for a pair of sneakers visible under the second stall.

As I unzipped at one of the urinals and began to relieve my burning bladder I heard a voice say "Hey, what’s up?".  I looked around and there was no one else in the restroom.  After a moments hesitation, I answered "Not much".

A little time went by and he says, "What ya doing?".

I didn’t feel very comfortable talking to someone in a stall but I didn’t want to be rude and answered, "Uh…we are heading to San Antonio to visit friends."

"Want to come over?", he says. 

At this point I am really uncomfortable and I finish up and scoot over to the sink to wash up.  "No I don’t think so.", I replied.  Wow, was this something else.  I had never even had someone next to me with a wide stance before and now I’ve got someone in the stall asking me over! 

As I reached for the paper towels to dry my hands I hear, "Hey man, can I call you back?  There’s some asshole in the bathroom answering every thing I say."

Funny.

Progress In Iraq?

No, actually.

Iraq has failed to meet all but three of 18 congressionally mandated benchmarks for political and military progress, according to a draft of a Government Accountability Office report. The document questions whether some aspects of a more positive assessment by the White House last month adequately reflected the range of views the GAO found within the administration.

Read the whole thing.  What’s surprising is that the GAO — government officials themselves — all but calls the administration and the Pentagon liars. Politely, of course:

The draft provides a stark assessment of the tactical effects of the current U.S.-led counteroffensive to secure Baghdad. "While the Baghdad security plan was intended to reduce sectarian violence, U.S. agencies differ on whether such violence has been reduced," it states. While there have been fewer attacks against U.S. forces, it notes, the number of attacks against Iraqi civilians remains unchanged. It also finds that "the capabilities of Iraqi security forces have not improved."

"Overall," the report concludes, "key legislation has not been passed, violence remains high, and it is unclear whether the Iraqi government will spend $10 billion in reconstruction funds," as promised. While it makes no policy recommendations, the draft suggests that future administration assessments "would be more useful" if they backed up their judgments with more details and "provided data on broader measures of violence from all relevant U.S. agencies."

It’s important to note, as WaPo explains, that this report was leaked.  And WaPo explained the leaker’s motivation: he suspected that this report would be watered down after it went through the hands of the DoD.  In other words, had it not been leaked, it would have been massaged by the Bush cronies to reflect, well, kinda good news. 

Two Years Ago Today

With a strong nod to Digby…

Katrinasatellitemoisture7AM CDT — KATRINA MAKES LANDFALL AS A CATEGORY 4 HURRICANE [CNN]

7:30 AM CDT — BUSH ADMINISTRATION NOTIFIED OF THE LEVEE BREACH: The administration finds out that a levee in New Orleans was breached. On this day, 28 “government agencies, from local Louisiana parishes to the White House, [reported that] that New Orleans levees” were breached. [AP]

8AM CDT — MAYOR NAGIN REPORTS THAT WATER IS FLOWING OVER LEVEE: “I’ve gotten reports this morning that there is already water coming over some of the levee systems. In the lower ninth ward, we’ve had one of our pumping stations to stop operating, so we will have significant flooding, it is just a matter of how much.” [NBC’s “Today Show”]

11:13 AM CDT – WHITE HOUSE CIRCULATES INTERNAL MEMO ABOUT LEVEE BREACH: “Flooding is significant throughout the region and a levee in New Orleans has reportedly been breached sending 6-8 feet of water throughout the 9th ward area of the city.” [AP]

MORNING — BROWN WARNS BUSH ABOUT THE POTENTIAL DEVASTATION OF KATRINA: In a briefing, Brown warned Bush, “This is, to put it mildly, the big one, I think.” He also voiced concerns that the government may not have the capacity to “respond to a catastrophe within a catastrophe” and that the Superdome was ill-equipped to be a refuge of last resort. [AP]

MORNING — MAYFIELD WARNS BUSH ABOUT THE TOPPING OF THE LEVEES: In the same briefing, Max Mayfield, National Hurricane Center Director, warns, “This is a category 5 hurricane, very similar to Hurricane Andrew in the maximum intensity, but there’s a big big difference. This hurricane is much larger than Andrew ever was. I also want to make absolutely clear to everyone that the greatest potential for large loss of lives is still in the coastal areas from the storm surge. … I don’t think anyone can tell you with any confidence right now whether the levees will be topped or not, but there’s obviously a very very grave concern.” [AP]

MORNING — BUSH CALLS SECRETARY CHERTOFF TO DISCUSS IMMIGRATION: “I spoke to Mike Chertoff today — he’s the head of the Department of Homeland Security. I knew people would want me to discuss this issue [immigration], so we got us an airplane on — a telephone on Air Force One, so I called him. I said, are you working with the governor? He said, you bet we are.” [White House]

MccainbirthdayMORNING — BUSH SHARES BIRTHDAY CAKE PHOTO-OP WITH SEN. JOHN MCCAIN [White House]

11AM CDT — MICHAEL BROWN FINALLY REQUESTS THAT DHS DISPATCH 1,000 EMPLOYEES TO REGION, GIVES THEM TWO DAYS TO ARRIVE: “Brown’s memo to Chertoff described Katrina as ‘this near catastrophic event’ but otherwise lacked any urgent language. The memo politely ended, ‘Thank you for your consideration in helping us to meet our responsibilities.’” [AP]

LATE MORNING — LEVEE BREACHED: “A large section of the vital 17th Street Canal levee, where it connects to the brand new ‘hurricane proof’ Old Hammond Highway bridge, gave way late Monday morning in Bucktown after Katrina’s fiercest winds were well north.” [Times-Picayune]

11AM CDT — BUSH VISITS ARIZONA RESORT TO PROMOTE MEDICARE DRUG BENEFIT: “This new bill I signed says, if you’re a senior and you like the way things are today, you’re in good shape, don’t change. But, by the way, there’s a lot of different options for you. And we’re here to talk about what that means to our seniors.” [White House]

Katrinabodyafpgetty17661944:30PM CDT — BUSH TRAVELS TO CALIFORNIA SENIOR CENTER TO DISCUSS MEDICARE DRUG BENEFIT: “We’ve got some folks up here who are concerned about their Social Security or Medicare. Joan Geist is with us. … I could tell — she was looking at me when I first walked in the room to meet her, she was wondering whether or not old George W. is going to take away her Social Security check.” [White House]

8PM CDT — RUMSFELD ATTENDS SAN DIEGO PADRES BASEBALL GAME: Rumsfeld “joined Padres President John Moores in the owner’s box…at Petco Park.” [Editor & Publisher]

8PM CDT — GOV. BLANCO AGAIN REQUESTS ASSISTANCE FROM BUSH: “Mr. President, we need your help. We need everything you’ve got.” [Newsweek]

LATE PM — BUSH GOES TO BED WITHOUT ACTING ON BLANCO’S REQUESTS [Newsweek]

Bush, two years ago tomorrow….

Bush_guitar_830

A Daily Kos diarist writes: “The tragic lesson of Katrina is what will happen when men and women who openly despise our government — who brag they plan to weaken it until they can drown it in a bathtub — are allowed to govern. After telling the nation that they and only they could keep us safe from any and all threats, the neo-clowns were caught off guard by a Weapon of Mass Destruction called ‘water,’ arising from a storm that could be seen lumbering toward the Gulf Coast from the surface of the moon for a week.”

Crazy Sexy Cancer

KriscarrBest. Documentary. Title. Ever.

Looks interesting too:

Crazy Sexy Cancer is an irreverent and uplifting documentary about a young woman looking for a cure and finding her life.

In 2003, 31-year-old actress/photographer Kris Carr was diagnosed with a rare and incurable cancer. Weeks later she began filming her story. Taking a seemingly tragic situation and turning it into a creative expression, Kris shares her inspirational story of survival with courage, strength, and lots of humor.

With experimental treatment as her only option, Kris became determined to find answers where there were none. She traveled throughout the country interviewing experts in alternative medicine as she tenaciously dove head first into a fascinating and often hilarious holistic world. Along the way, she met other vivacious young women determined to become survivors. Their stories are as poignant and exciting as the women who tell them. As Kris’s amazing journey unfolds, she realizes that healing is about truly living rather than fighting.

Crazy Sexy Cancer is more than a film, it’s an attitude! It’s about rising to the challenge of life, and no matter what, refusing to give up who you are at your core.  This story is as funny as it is frightening, as joyous as it is outrageous. Ultimately, Crazy Sexy Cancer is a thought provoking film about, friendship, love and growing up.

Debuts on The Learning Channel tonight.  Fire up those TIVos.

Also, Kris Carr’s blog is here.

UPDATE:  More thoughts from me here

GOP Woes [UPDATED]

Article in The New York Times sums it up:  A Scandal-Scarred G.O.P. Asks, ‘What Next?’

The basic gist is that the GOP cannot win elections if they alienate the Christian Right.  And this constant drumbeat of sex scandals is alienating the Christian Right.  Here are some select quotes:

Scott Reid, GOP strategist: “The real question for Republicans in Washington is how low can you go, because we are approaching a level of ridiculousness… You can’t make this stuff up. And the impact this is having on the grass-roots around the country is devastating. Republicans think the governing class in Washington are a bunch of buffoons who have total disregard for the principles of the party, the law of the land and the future of the country.”

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council: “Exit polls show that was the No. 1 factor in depressing Republican enthusiasm… There is an expectation that leaders who espouse family values will live by those values. And while the values voters don’t demand perfection, I do believe they want leaders with integrity.”

Now, it’s not like the Christian Right is not going to vote Democratic.  They simply won’t vote.  But without them, the GOP cannot hope to be the majority party.

UPDATE:  This post by Professor Dale Carpenter is spot-on, and makes many of the same points I’ve made.

He basically writes that most Republican politicians are, in fact, NOT anti-gay.  He adds that many Republicans themselves are gay, just like the rest of American.  But the party itself is so beholden to the anti-gay Christian Right (a min9ority, but a powerful minority nonetheless), that it cannot afford to alienate them.  So we get a schism (which amounts, in my estimation, to hypocrisy) wherein Republican politicians feel they must demonstrate (to varying degrees) their anti-gay, "pro-family" creds in order to woo that small but influential bloc of prudes.

Democrats don’t feel this pinch:

This doesn’t happen to the Democrats because the party’s public and private attitudes toward homosexuality are fully consistent: acceptance of gays. Their homosexuals feel little need to remain closeted (with the recent exception of Jim “I am a Gay American” McGreevey). Notably, past sex scandals involving gay Democrats, like Rep. Barney Frank (with a prostitute) and Rep. Gerry Studds (with a congressional page), occurred some two decades ago, when the party was less accepting and the men themselves were still closeted.

He concludes:

The only practical way out of this for the GOP is to come to the point where its homosexuals no longer feel the need to hide. And that won’t happen until the party’s public message is more closely aligned with its private one. That will be the day when the GOP greets its gay supporters the way Larry Craig, with unintended irony, greeted reporters yesterday at his news conference: “Thank you all very much for coming out today.”

The Perils Of Not Having A Secret Gay Decoder Ring

It looks like Senator Craig is toast, and I’m shedding no tears.  As I stated before, I have no problem with his homosexuality alleged homosexuality.  And while cheating on one’s wife is not moral or honorable, I don’t think that alone should disqualify one for public office either. My problem with Craig is that he advocated social policies which were blatently anti-gay, while (apparently) engaging in homosexual relationships, and then denying it.  So I’m not sad to see a bad senator go.

But there’s a larger issue that concerns me, and it goes outside of politics.  And that is the Craig’s behavior itself.  Unlike other Republicans in the news, he didn’t actually solicit sex.  At worst, he merely exhibited behavior which — if you know the code — suggested that he was available for sex (which, strictly speaking, isn’t a crime either).

From reading the news and blogs, I was directed to this post at a gay group blog called gayorbit.com:

I’ve never had a sexual encounter in a public bathroom. Quite honestly, I think I would have been too scared even if I wanted to. But I know exactly how to get a blow job in a stall if I wanted it. And I always knew.

Tap, Tap, Tap.

Any gay man who is at least my age knows what tapping your foot while sitting on the john in a public toilet means. It means you are available. And here’s another thing. Any gay man at least my age knows the difference between some guy in a stall tapping his foot to the beat of the latest song on his Walkman and a

Tap, Tap, Tap

that means you are “looking.”

Here’s the thing: The cops know it, too. If a man in the stall next door goes, tappity, tap, tap, tappity, tap, tap, the cop knows that the person is not looking. If the person is going

Tap, Tap, Tap

it’s plenty obvious.

I have no doubt about what Larry Craig was doing in the bathroom stall at that airport. And I know the cops knew what he was doing.

And he wasn’t listening to his Walkman. No gay person who is at least my age would argue with that if he was honest. We may not have ever solicited public sex in a bathroom, but we definitely knew how to do it if we wanted to.

(Emphasis mine)

Okay.  I didn’t know that foot-tapping means is a signal for gay sex**.  Apparently, "any" gay man knows this, and cops know this, but being neither, I didn’t know this.

Now, I think I’m not inclined to tap my foot in public restrooms.  I can’t say for sure; it’s not something I think about.  But now it’s got me paranoid.  What if I go in to a public restroom and absent-mindedly tap my foot?

Or… what if I scratch my nose?  What if THAT is a signal for something?

And I worry about this not because I wish to avoid getting hit on by gay men.  Should that (unlikely) event arise, I would simply tell my "suiter" that I’m not interested.  Awkward, but not unbearable.  No, what I worry about is some undercover cop arresting me for public lewdness merely because I tapped my foot (or scratched my nose, or whatever the signal-du-jour is).

Let’s look at a different situation.  Say I go to a bar or hot spot.  There’s a girl at the end of the bar.  She keeps looking at me.  She smiles at me.  She winks at me.  And then she pointedly licks her lips.  (This, of course, doesn’t happen to me in reality, but I bring it up for illustrative purposes).  Is there any doubt what she is interested in?  And more importantly, has she done anything illegal at that point?  She’s giving signals — that’s all. 

Now let’s take the facts of the Craig matter.  What is different?  A public place.  Signals indicating an interest and/or availability.  Same thing.  In BOTH cases, it’s not "solicitation" in the criminal sense.  And I would suggest that foot-tapping, being ambiguous, is far less "lewd" than overt lip-licking.

Sure, an argument can be made that it’s different when you are in a public restroom, as opposed to a public bar.  But what if the fictional lip-licking girl and I were in one of those unisex bathrooms?  Assuming she’s not in my stall, would she be commiting an illegal act?

Given the fact that the lewd behavior was an ambiguous "signal", I can’t help but wonder how much this has to do with gay-ness, as opposed to standards of public decency.

I don’t know.  Maybe it’s best for me to just "hold it" and wait until I get home — at least until we live in a society where people don’t have to engage in cloak-and-dagger silliness in order to identify who they are and what they want. 

** To my credit, I know that if you shake a man’s hand, and his finger is folded, that’s his way of telling you he’s gay.  Learned that in college from a gay friend.  But that was 25 years ago, and I suspect times have changed.

RELATED:  Speaking of bathroom behavior and subtle clues, here’s a quiz….

Why I Support The Idaho Values Alliance

Not because they are calling for the resignation of (gay? in denial? lying?) Senator Larry "Bathroom Stalls" Craig, but because of this:

One larger issue must be addressed. The Republican Party platform clearly rejects the agenda of homosexual activists. The Party, in the wake of the Mark Foley incident in particular, can no longer straddle the fence on the issue of homosexual behavior. Even setting Senator Craig’s situation aside, the Party should regard participation in the self-destructive homosexual lifestyle as incompatible with public service on behalf of the GOP.

No member of the Republican Party in the 1860s could represent his party and be a slaveholder at the same time. Nor can the Republican Party of today speak with authority and clarity to the moral issues that confront our society and at the same time send ambivalent messages about sexual behavior. It is time for the Republican Party to be the party that defends the American family in word, deed, and by personal example.

Cool.  If you remove all the gays, adulterers, child molesters, abortion recipients, gamblers, drinkers, etc. from the GOP, then you’ll end up with a Democratic majority.

Two Things I Didn’t Know About Ted Nugent

(1)  Apparently, he still is popular enough to give concerts

(2)  He’s batshit crazy.  I mean, I knew he was pro-gun, but I didn’t know that he was off-the-charts batshit crazy.

So Ted Nugent roams a concert stage while toting automatic weapons, calls Barack Obama "a piece of —–" and says he told Obama to suck on one of his machine-guns. He also calls Hillary Clinton a "worthless bitch" and Dianne Feinstein a "worthless whore."

That Nugent, he’s a man’s man. He talks the talk and walks the walk, right?

Except when it was time to register for the draft during the Vietnam era. By his own admission, Nugent stopped all forms of personal hygiene for a month and showed up for his draft board physical in pants caked with his own urine and feces, winning a deferment. Creative!

Ah, but that was a long time ago. Nugent isn’t just a washed-up rocker — he’s a right-wing madman who’s not afraid to call out some of the leading Democrats in language so vile it makes the Dixie Chick Natalie Maines’ comments about President Bush sound like a love poem.

You’d think even someone such as Sean Hannity would dismiss Nugent as a macho clown, desperate for attention.

Yeah, right.

The Coming Pandemic

KisskisI haven’t written in a while about the Avian Flu — mostly because it looked like it was under check.  You know, a bunch of Asians french-kissing chickens.  The virus wasn’t something likely to spread from human to human.

Except…

Oh, crap:

A mathematical analysis has confirmed that H5N1 avian influenza spread from person to person in Indonesia in April, U.S. researchers reported on Tuesday.

They said they had developed a tool to run quick tests on disease outbreaks to see if dangerous epidemics or pandemics may be developing.

Health officials around the world agree that a pandemic of influenza is overdue, and they are most worried by the H5N1 strain of avian influenza that has been spreading through flocks from Asia to Africa.

It rarely passes to humans, but since 2003 it has infected 322 people and killed 195 of them.

Most have been infected directly by birds. But a few clusters of cases have been seen and officials worry most about the possibility that the virus has acquired the ability to pass easily and directly from one person to another. That would spark a pandemic.

The sucker has mutated.  It’s deadly.  There is no known vaccine.

Don’t panic.

A Closer Look At “The Blonde Moment”

You’ve all seen the video.  Now let’s parse her answer.  Remember the questions was, why couldn’t one-fifth of Americans locate our country on a world map. And here’s how Miss South Carolina responded:

I personally believe that U.S. Americans…

As opposed to U.S. Algerians, for example…

…are unable to do so because, uh, some people out there in our nation don’t have maps…

Really?  People in America don’t have access to maps?  None in the schools?

…and, uh, I believe that our education like such as in South Africa…

It is clear at the point that she was trying to score points with the judges by mentioning South Africa.  You can tell her friends said, "Listen, no matter what they ask, be sure to mention South Africa.  It shows that you know all about South Africa."

…and, uh, the Iraq…

Same here with Iraq.  Probably should have dropped the "the" though.

…everywhere like, such as…

Let’s see.  Mentioned South Africa, check.  Iraq, check.  Where is she going?  Is she going to work in AIDS?

…and I believe that they should,…

Well, yes, they should.  If only we knew who "they" were (South Africans? The Iraqs? U.S. Americans?) and what "they" should do….

…our education over here in the U.S….

Ah, bring it back to the question.  Good for you, Miss South Carolina.

…should help…

Well, yes.  It sounds almost like a coherent thought.  Our education over here in the U.S. should help…. who?!?  You’re almost there, honey….

…the U.S., er, should help South Africa…

Oooooh.  So close.  Almost made a complete thought with "Our education over here in the U.S. should held the U.S." (not a particularly insightful thought, but a complete one), and then you mess it up by suggesting that the education over here in the U.S. should help South Africa.

…and should help the Iraq and the Asian countries…

Dig that hole deeper.  Now notice that she has used the phrase "the Iraq" again, which makes about as much sense as saying "I live in the South Carolina".  The fact that she used the phrase "the Iraq" twice, shows that she was not just simply suffering from a case of the jitters, but she is, in fact, totally blonde.

…so we will be able to build up our future for our children.

Well, if that’s not a cliche stock answer, I don’t know what is.

So let’s boil it down to its essence:

Question:  Why is it, do you thing, that one-fifth of Americans cannot locate the United States on a map?

Answer:  Because they don’t have maps.  Education of U.S. Americans should help South Africa, Iraq, and Asia, which in turn will build up the future for our children.

Hard to believe she only was thrid runner-up.

The correct answer to the question, by the way, is this: "Fox News"

I Like This, From John Edwards

A good idea:

Passing "Brownie’s Law," so agencies like FEMA get the job done: Edwards will enact a new requirement – "Brownie’s Law" – ensuring that senior political appointees actually are qualified to perform the job to which they are appointed. Brownie’s Law will require that heads of executive agencies and other senior officials have demonstrated qualifications in the field related to their job.

Another Naughty Gay Republican

FactorfictionGeez, there’s no stopping them.

This was kept under wraps for some time, but no more.

This time, it’s not some state Congressman.  It’s a full-blown United States congressman.

Sen. Larry E. Craig (R-Id) pleaded guilty earlier this month to misdemeanor disorderly-conduct charges stemming from his June arrest by an undercover police officer in a men’s restroom at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, a court spokeswoman and the senator’s office said yesterday.

***

Roll Call, citing a copy of a report by airport police, said officers had been conducting a sting operation inside the men’s room because of complaints of sexual activity there. The police report gives this account of the arrest:

The undercover officer was monitoring the restroom on June 11. A few minutes after noon, Craig entered and sat in the stall next to him. Craig began tapping his right foot, touched his right foot to the left foot of the officer and brushed his hand beneath the partition between them. He was then arrested.

While he was being interviewed about the incident, Craig gave police a business card showing that he is a U.S. senator. "What do you think about that?" Craig asked the officer, according to the report obtained by Roll Call.

Hmmmm.  Playing footsie in an airport bathroom stall. 

From the Senator’s website:

Idaho Senator Larry Craig made the following statement in response to the Roll Call story this afternoon:

"At the time of this incident, I complained to the police that they were misconstruing my actions. I was not involved in any inappropriate conduct.

"I should have had the advice of counsel in resolving this matter. In hindsight, I should not have pled guilty. I was trying to handle this matter myself quickly and expeditiously."

LarrycraigHis excuse?

In a recorded interview after his arrest, Craig “either disagreed with me or ‘didn’t recall’ the events as they happened,” the report states.

Craig stated “that he has a wide stance when going to the bathroom and that his foot may have touched mine,” the report states. Craig also told the arresting officer that he reached down with his right hand to pick up a piece of paper that was on the floor.

For the record, it seems to me that the foot-tapping thing from the police report is, well, you know, kinda thin.  I honestly think that Craig probably did have a good defense.  What exactly about what he did — the foot-tapping, according to the police report — is "lewd" or "disorderly"?  I accept that his rather obscure actions must be known to be typical cruising signals, but I don’t see how they could be against the law just standing on their own.

But see, then he went and pled guilty. 

Craig, who has been outed (by rumor) in the past (although he denies it). The issue, of course, isn’t that Craig is gay. It’s that he is gay and hypocritically advocates family values issues:

* Voted YES on constitutional ban of same-sex marriage. (Jun 2006)
* Voted NO on adding sexual orientation to definition of hate crimes. (Jun 2002)
* Voted NO on expanding hate crimes to include sexual orientation. (Jun 2000)
* Voted YES on prohibiting same-sex marriage. (Sep 1996)
* Voted NO on prohibiting job discrimination by sexual orientation. (Sep 1996)

As far back as 1982, Craig (when he was in the House) was denying hanky-panky with congressional pages, as this ABC News segment reports:

Presidential candidate Mitt Romney has removed Craig’s video endorsement from his website.  Smart move, but TPM has the video of Larry Craig, the co-chair of the Mitt Romney campaign, explaining why he supports Romney’s candidacy.  Craig says:

Knowing Governor Mitt Romney is knowing someone who, first and foremost, has very strong family values. That is something I grew up with and believe in.

Greenwald: "If having "strong family values" is — as Craig claims — the reason "first and foremost" to support someone’s candidacy for President, then, by definition, whether one has "strong family values" is a politically relevant consideration for such a person. Craig’s own pronounced political standards render it relevant whether a married political official with children is having anonymous sex in bathrooms. That is just logically true."

UPDATE:  Craig in 1999:

MR. RUSSERT: Larry Craig, would you want the last word from the Senate be an acquittal of the president and no censure?

SEN. CRAIG: Well, I don’t know where the Senate’s going to be on that issue of an up or down vote on impeachment, but I will tell you that the Senate certainly can bring about a censure reslution and it’s a slap on the wrist. It’s a, “Bad boy, Bill Clinton. You’re a naughty boy.”

The American people already know that Bill Clinton is a bad boy, a naughtyboy.

I’m going to speak out for the citizens of my state, who in the majority think that Bill Clinton is probably even a nasty, bad, naughty boy.

UPDATE:  Guess The Singing Senators need a new lead vocalist.

Heckuva Jobs

Okay, well.  It’s old news now that Alberto is resigning.  I have nothing to say about that, other than it is waaaay too late.

The thing about Gonzalez is that he should not have been there in the first place.  He got the position because he was one of Bush’s boys back in Texas.  It’s that cronyism thing…. again.  Bush picks loyalists — not people necessarily qualified.

So with AG on the way out, it looks like Department of Homeland Security Chief Mike Chertoff will be the new Attorney General.  But who will replace Chertoff at the DHS???

Yup.  It looks like another Bush loyalist — another person uniquely unqualified for the job: a guy named Clay Johnson.  Here’s his White House bio:

Clay Johnson is the Deputy Director for Management at the Office of Management and Budget. The Deputy Director for Management provides government-wide leadership to Executive Branch agencies to improve agency and program performance. Prior to this he was the Assistant to the President for Presidential Personnel, responsible for the organization that identifies and recruits approximately 4000 senior officials, middle management personnel and part-time board and commission members.

From 1995 to 2000, Mr. Johnson worked with Governor George W. Bush in Austin, first as his Appointments Director, then as his Chief of Staff, and then as the Executive Director of the Bush-Cheney Transition.

Mr. Johnson has been the Chief Operating Officer for the Dallas Museum of Art and the President of the Horchow and Neiman Marcus Mail Order companies. He also has worked for Citicorp, Wilson Sporting Goods and Frito Lay.

He received his undergraduate degree from Yale University and a Masters degree from MIT’s Sloan School of Management. In Austin, he helped create the Texas State History Museum, and was also an Adjunct Professor at the University of Texas Graduate School of Business. In Dallas, he served as President of the Board of Trustees for St. Marks School of Texas, and as a Board Member of Equitable Bankshares, Goodwill Industries of Dallas, and the Dallas Chapter of the Young Presidents Organization.

See anything in the official bio that relates to immigration, air travel security, disaster response, and other aspects of our nation’s homeland defense?

No, me neither.  Oh, yeah — Johnson also attended Andover and Yale with George W. Bush and was one of Bush’s DKE fraternity brothers.

UPDATE: Hmm.  Maybe it won’t be Chertoff.

Miss Teen America: Miss South Carolina Answers A Question

Priceless:

UPDATE:  She gets a "do-over":

The 18-year-old got a chance to redeem herself Tuesday on NBC’s "Today" show when she was again asked why one-fifth of Americans can’t locate the U.S. on a map.

"I would love to re-answer that question," Upton said. "Well personally, my friends and I, we know exactly where the United States is on our map. I don’t know anyone else who doesn’t. And if the statistics are correct, I believe there should be more emphasis on geography."

That was much better than her previous response, which included "U.S. Americans" and mentions of South Africa and "the Iraq."

Seems like a good answer, if not an obvious one.  And she had the whole weekend to think about the answer.  [UPDATE:  Video of her second bite at the apple here]

Fun Fact: She’s planning on attending Appalachian College here in Boone, NC.  Sounds about right.  I hope she can find it….

BUT WAIT… THERE’S MORE:

Miss Teen Texas handles a tough question relating to Indian tribal sovereignty:

Drama Queen

Tuesday, August 21, 2007:

I have just returned from my semester auditions. It was the first time I’d had an actual audition since I auditioned for the MFA Program, it was my first grad school audition, it was my first UNCG audition, it was the first semester audition, and I was the first one to go.

[horror story, horror story, horror story]

Right about then is when most women would’ve had a huge breakdown and cried and screamed and thrown their music. But I didn’t. I walked out of the building and drove home. And I didn’t shed a single tear. The only time I felt like I might cry was when I realized that I’m glad this happened because it means I need to stop singing for awhile. I dropped the words to my "Full Monty" audition song, too, so I’m thinking this probably is a sign. It’s time to set the singing on the shelf for awhile while I sort myself out.

Friday, August 24, 2007:

Good news for me: I was cast as Mrs. Lovett in "Sweeney Todd", the first show of the fall semester.

Congrats, Emily!

100,000,000 Blogs

In case you never heard of it, Technorati analyzes blog traffic.  ALL blog traffic.  A tough thing, I suspect, since there are 175,000 blogs started everyday.

Sometime this morning, the number of blogs they tracked hit the 100,000,000 mark.

That’s right.  One hundred million blogs.

FWIW, this blog is ranked 82,708 at the current moment.  In terms of traffic, not quality.

Need A Hug?

Longsleeve A new shirt — appropriately titled "The Hug Shirt" — has special sensors and pads that — literally — hug you when triggered.

But that’s not the best part.

The best part is that the "hugging" pads can be triggered from other Hug Shirts.  That means that your mom or friend halfway across the country can send you a hug simply by hugging themselves in the Hug Shirt.  The shirt’s sensors transmit data (hug pressure, skin temperature, heartbeat rate, time you are hugging for, etc.) to their cell phone, which sends the info to your cell phone, which sends the hug to your Hug Shirt, which (hopefully) you are wearing at the time.

It’s all done through Bluetooth technology.

A clever little invention.

I can think of some racier spinoff products, but I’m sure so can you….

Today’s GOP Sex Scandal

And it’s a doozy, ’cause it involves dead bodies:

Three men in their 30s have been found dead in a residence owned by the former Executive Director of the Georgia Republican Party in Orlando, Florida.

On Thursday morning a concerned friend of one of the men called the Orange County Sheriff’s Office. Authorities went to 2420 Hickory Oak Blvd. in Orlando where they found the bodies, as well as a pair of dogs. The dogs were still alive but had been alone for at least a few days. The men may have been dead since Tuesday.

The men were:

Ralph Gonzalez, 39, his roommate, David Abrami, 36, and a friend, Robert Drake, 30….

Gonzalez was executive director of the Georgia Republican Party from 2001-2002. He managed U.S. Rep. Tom Feeney’s 2002 campaign and was president of Strategum Group, an Orlando-based political consulting firm that represents Republican candidates.

Abrami, an attorney, was active in Republican politics as well.

So why are these three guys — two of whom were active in Republican politics, one of whom headed the GOP in Georgia — dead?

…an apparent double murder-suicide possibly sparked by a lovers’ quarrel, according to detectives.

Interesting to note that Tom Feeney (R-Fla) is opposed to gay marriage.

Just When I Start To Warm Up To Her…

…she goes and says something like this:

"It’s a horrible prospect to ask yourself, ‘What if? What if?’ But if certain things happen between now and the election, particularly with respect to terrorism, that will automatically give the Republicans an advantage again, no matter how badly they have mishandled it, no matter how much more dangerous they have made the world," Clinton told supporters in Concord.

I simply don’t agree with the premise.

If we are attacked by terrorists between now and Election Day, people will recognize that as a failure of Bush’s (and Republican’s) policies which have been in place since 9/11.  How could that possibly become an advantage for Republicans?

Of course, Hillary must realize that, to some extent, those policies are her policies, having voted (for example) for the war against Iraq (thus diverting our attention away from al Qaeda).  I suppose she has to try to distance herself from that now

But should we gat attacked again, it seems to me that the candidate with the advantage does not lie with a Bush-supporting Republican or a Bush-supporting Democrat, but one who has always been opposed to the way in which the war on terrorism has been executed.  That, clearly, would be Obama and/or Edwards.  Not only were they right all along (unlike Hillary), but they seem to understand that liberal solutions to national security are workable and sell-able to the American public.  Unlike Hillary, they don’t play into the false narrative that "Republicans are strong on security; Democrats aren’t".

Dumb move, Hillary.  You’re buying the Republican spin and repeating it in your speeches.

UPDATE:  Carpetbagger thinks he know what Hillary meant:

Clinton probably was trying to make the point that in the event of another attack, Republicans will try to seize on the tragedy as a political plus for the right. The media will, regrettably, go along, because it fits into a ridiculous narrative reporters have been buying into for years. “It wouldn’t be fair,” Clinton seemed to be saying, “but I can deal with it when it happens.”

Possibly.  But she now has to do damage control because, as Carpetbagger notes, "it’s a mistake for any Democrat to amplify the bogus narrative in the first place."

New Revelations About Mother Theresa

MothertheresaWhile gathering biographical material for his case to the Vatican that Mother Theresa deserves sainthood, a priest finds that the Nobel Prize winner was, if not agnostic, then certainly riddled with doubt about the existence of God. 

Wow.  And you think you know a saint.  Er, potential saint.

Her doubts appear in letters and private correspondence to friends:

Shortly after beginning work in Calcutta’s slums, the spirit left Mother Teresa.

"Where is my faith?" she wrote. "Even deep down… there is nothing but emptiness and darkness… If there be God — please forgive me."

Eight years later, she was still looking to reclaim her lost faith.

"Such deep longing for God… Repulsed, empty, no faith, no love, no zeal," she said.

As her fame increased, her faith refused to return. Her smile, she said, was a mask.

"What do I labor for?" she asked in one letter. "If there be no God, there can be no soul. If there be no soul then, Jesus, You also are not true."

By the time of her death, she was still plagued with doubts, and had even stopped praying.

Seeing the things she had seen, it hardly surprises me that anyone would question the existence of a loving God.

As Time notes, Mother Theresa "considered the perceived absence of God in her life as her most shameful secret", so much so that she asked that her letters be burned after her death.  (Obviously, this didn’t happen).

I don’t know that there’s any reason for shame.  She started a mission for, in her own words, "the hungry, the naked, the homeless, the crippled, the blind, the lepers, all those people who feel unwanted, unloved, uncared for throughout society, people that have become a burden to the society and are shunned by everyone."  By the time of her death, she was operating 517 missions in over 100 countries, including 20 in the United States.  Nothing to sneeze at.

Historian Pounces On Bush

Not literally, of course (although that would be a great Youtube moment)

In Wednesday’s speech Bush said:

"’An interesting observation, one historian put it, ‘Had these erstwhile experts’ — he was talking about people criticizing the efforts to help Japan realize the blessings of a free society — he said, ‘Had these erstwhile experts had their way, the very notion of inducing a democratic revolution would have died of ridicule at an early stage.’"

But the "one historian" in question was going to tale that lying down:

A historian quoted by President Bush to help argue that critics of the administration’s Iraq policy echo those who questioned the U.S. effort to bring democracy to Japan after World War II angrily distanced himself from the president’s remarks Thursday.

“They [war supporters] keep on doing this,” said MIT professor John Dower. “They keep on hitting it and hitting it and hitting it and it’s always more and more implausible, strange and in a fantasy world. They’re desperately groping for a historical analogy, and their uses of history are really perverse.”

Dower, in fact, wrote a November 2002 New York Times op-ed where he outlined 10 reasons why “most of the factors that contributed to the success of nation-building in occupied Japan would be absent in an Iraq militarily defeated by the United States.”

And in March 2003, Dower wrote an essay for Boston Review, entitled “A Warning From History: Don’t Expect Democracy in Iraq.”

Probably not the best historian to quote from, George.

The Magistical

15Winston-Salem is probably the last place on Earth you would expect to find an animation studio, but we got one. 

The company is called Out Of Our Minds, and they are putting the finishing touches on their first full-length feature, called The Magistical.  It stars the voice of Jeffrey Holder (as well as some local talent) and the music of Bobby McFerrin, Celtic Women, and Gaelic Storm.   It’s a fairy tale with dragons and mystics and focuses on a boy who has to save the people he loves.

It’s a tough market, virtually dominated by Pixar.  As I understand it, Out of Our Minds is shopping for a distributor for The Magistical.  The animation (the clips I’ve seen) is stunning and vibrant — kind of a throwback to the glisteny world 1950’s Disney, but with the latest in computer 3D animation.

Keep an eye out for this film and this studio.  (Pictured above, a screenshot from their BAFTA awaard-winning animated short, Dear Sweet Emma).

America To The Rescue

I think much of this was lost on the audience, but this is brilliant.

Jon Stewart talks about U.S. intervention in the Middle East over the past 3 decades and our absurd policies where we provide billions of money, arms, and military training to people who later become our mortal enemies.  Bin Laden?  Yeah, the U.S. gave him guns and training.  Saddam?  Ditto.  It’s astounding that people don’t realize this, and it’s astounding that you only hear discussion of it on Comedy Central.

Bush’s Biggest Rhetorical Blunder?

Jim Hoagland thinks so:

Desperate presidents resort to desperate rhetoric — which then calls new attention to their desperation. President Bush joined the club this week by citing the U.S. failure in Vietnam to justify staying on in Iraq.

Bush’s comparison of the two conflicts rivals Richard Nixon’s "I am not a crook" utterance during Watergate and ‘s "I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky," in producing unintended consequences of a most damaging kind for a sitting president.

And why?  Because…

Bush has called attention to the elephant that will be sitting in the room when his administration makes its politically vital report on Iraq to the nation next month. For Americans, the most important comparison will be this one: As Vietnam did, Iraq has become a failure even on its own terms — whatever those terms are at any given moment.

Meanwhile, there is a huuuuge clash abrewin’ within the White House.  General Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (the highest non-civilian military role there is, bar none) wants to reduce the U.S. force in Iraq next year by almost half, while General Patraeus, the U.S. commander in Iraq, will likely call for higher troop levels in Iraq in 2008.  Bush, of course, will support Patraeus — one of the few top brass in the military who actually prefers escalation in Iraq.

Is The Surge Working?

No:

Violence Metrics

June/July
2006

June/July
2007


Change

Iraqi Military and Police Killed

349

429

Up 23%

Multiple Fatality Bombings

110

82

Down 25%

# Killed in Mult. Fatality Bombings

885

1,053

Up 19%

Iraqi Civilians Killed
(All violent causes)

6,739

5,300

Hard to say1

U.S. Troop Fatalities

104

187

Up 80%

U.S. Troops Wounded

983

1,423

Up 45%

Size of Insurgency

20,000+

~70,0002

Up ~250%

Attacks on Oil and Gas Pipelines

8

143

Up 75%

1Methodology changed dramatically between 2006 and 2007, so numbers are highly suspect.
2Number is for March 2007.
3Numbers are for June only. No July numbers are available.

Infrastructure Metrics

June/July
2006

June/July
2007


Change

Diesel Fuel Available

26.7 Ml

20.7 Ml

Down 22%

Kerosene Available

7.08 Ml

6.3 Ml

Down 11%

Gasoline Available

29.4 Ml

22.2 Ml

Down 24%

LPG Available

4,936 tons

4,932 tons

Down 0.1%

Electricity Generated

8,800 Mwatts

8,420 Mwatts

Down 4%

Hours Electricity Per Day

11.7

10.14

Down ~14%

4No numbers available for June/July. Figure is extrapolated from May and August numbers.

This was compiled by Kevin Drum, using statistics from the Brookings Institute.  While many will point out that killings and violence has gone down since the surge began, it is important to understand that violence in Iraq always goes down in summer.  Thus, Kevin does a seasonal comparison, so we can look at apples-to-apples.

Finally, these charts only show the military prong of our efforts in Iraq.  The political prong isn’t even debated by Bush supporters — everyone knows that is an abyssmal failure.

UPDATE:  And there’s more good news about the surge:

The number of Iraqis fleeing their homes has soared since the American troop increase began in February, according to data from two humanitarian groups, accelerating the partition of the country into sectarian enclaves.

Despite some evidence that the troop buildup has improved security in certain areas, sectarian violence continues and American-led operations have brought new fighting, driving fearful Iraqis from their homes at much higher rates than before the tens of thousands of additional troops arrived, the studies show.

WATCH THIS STORY:  Turning to the political end of the spectrum, it’s clear that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki simply is failing at keeping his government together.  This fact is virtually undisputed by everyone from the Bush Adminstration to the Daily Kos kids.

But now comes word that al-Maliki’s rival, the guy who was interim Prime Minister of Iraq in 2004, Ayad Allawi, has retained a Washington D.C. lobbying firm, and bought the Web domain rights to Allawi-for-Iraq.com.  The Washington lobbying firm, Barbour, Griffith, and Rogers (BGR), is a Republican outfit, full of Bush people — including its president: Robert Blackwill, the one-time White House point man on Iraq and who was once the U.S. Presidential Envoy to Iraq in 2004.

Furthermore, it looks like Allawi is getting some advice (and more) from the Bush Administration:

[A]dministration officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the prime minister was coached and aided by the U.S. government, its allies and friends of the administration. Among them was Dan Senor, former spokesman for the CPA who has more recently represented the Bush campaign in media appearances. Senor, who has denied writing the speech, sent Allawi recommended phrases. He also helped Allawi rehearse in New York last

Does this mean that the White House is attempting to undermine al-Maliki?  The White House denied it today, but all of the foregoing suggest otherwise.

If it is true, and I suspect it is, I find it extremely ironic.  Here we are trying to bring democracy to Iraq, and we’re already meddling in their politics by trying to oust their democratically-elected leader.

P.S.  Allawi, by the way, might not be a good guy.  He’s been described as "Saddam Lite":

In late June, just before he took office as Iraq’s prime minister, Iyad Allawi lined up six prisoners in a Baghdad prison and executed them with a handgun while 30 people watched. So an Australian reporter claims, though he won’t reveal his two eyewitnesses. Another story making the rounds in Baghdad: Allawi had two insurgents shot in front of him. And then there’s the rumor that he chopped off a guy’s hand. Iraq’s new boss denies all these allegations to the press, but who cares?

My spideysense tells me we’ll be dealing with this guy in 20 years….

….Bothered and Bewildered

200pxbewitched_introToil and trouble in Salem, Mass:

A self-proclaimed high priestess of Salem witches and a second person were accused of tossing raccoon parts on the doorsteps of businesses, allegedly as part of a Wiccan community feud.

A self-proclaimed high priestess of Salem witches and a second person were accused of tossing raccoon parts on the doorsteps of businesses, allegedly as part of a Wiccan community feud.

***

A witness, Richard Watson, told police he accompanied Graham, Purtz and other people when they put the raccoon remains on the doorsteps. He said Graham hoped to frame a Wiccan businessman who had fired Graham from a psychic telephone business last spring.

Watson also said Graham had a disagreement with the owners of the two targeted businesses over proposed regulations that would limit the number of psychics who come to the city during the Halloween season. He said he was told the group had found the raccoon dead.

The animal desecration was also witnessed by the nosy next-door neighbor, Mrs. Gladys Kravitz.  "I was hiding behind the curtains with my nose sticking out," said a visibly-shaken Mrs. Kravitz.  "I saw the whole thing.  There’s always strange things going on over there."

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off: The Sequel?

Could be:

Titled Ferris Bueller 2: Another Day Off, the proposed sequel takes place on the eve of Bueller’s fortieth birthday. Spears, a major Hughes enthusiast, calls Rapier’s script "a blast. I read it in a single afternoon and was impressed with the care Rapier took with the original story and characters. The story has the same feel, humor and pace as the 1986 movie, which should please hard-core Ferris fans." The storyline finds Ferris 20 years older and living off a hugely successful self-help career, a la Tony Robbins. His best friend Cameron (played in ’86 by Alan Ruck) manages the business. Turning 40 shakes Ferris up, and he decides to take the day off, "sending Cameron, his business associates and family into a frenzy." In addition to Ferris and Cameron, most of the supporting characters are in the script. Sloane Peterson (played in ’86 by Mia Sara) is now "a Hollywood star going through a rough marriage." Ferris’ sister Jeannie (Jennifer Grey) is now married to the guy from the police station (Charlie Sheen). Rooney (Jeffrey Jones) doesn’t work for the school anymore, but has devoted his life to getting revenge on Ferris (What’s he going to do at this point, murder him?). Even Ben Stein‘s character is in there, now working at an airline.

Hughes has nothing to do with the script currently being shopped around Hollywood, and he hasn’t directed a movie since 1991.  This might be a good oppportunity for a comeback, if he bites.

More Like This Please

"Nice guy" Edwards goes on the offensive, and takes a subtle swipe at Hillary today in Hanover, NH:

Real change starts with being honest — the system in Washington is rigged and our government is broken. It’s rigged by greedy corporate powers to protect corporate profits. It’s rigged by the very wealthy to ensure they become even wealthier. At the end of the day, it’s rigged by all those who benefit from the established order of things. For them, more of the same means more money and more power. They’ll do anything they can to keep things just the way they are — not for the country, but for themselves.

Politicians who care more about their careers than their constituents go along to get elected. They make easy promises to voters instead of challenging them to take responsibility for our country. And then they compromise even those promises to keep the lobbyists happy and the contributions coming.

Instead of serving the people and the nation, too many play the parlor game of Washington — trading favors and campaign money, influencing votes and compromising legislation. It’s a game that never ends, but every American knows — it’s time to end the game.

And it’s time for the Democratic Party — the party of the people — to end it.

The choice for our party could not be more clear. We cannot replace a group of corporate Republicans with a group of corporate Democrats, just swapping the Washington insiders of one party for the Washington insiders of the other.

The American people deserve to know that their presidency is not for sale, the Lincoln Bedroom is not for rent, and lobbyist money can no longer influence policy in the House or the Senate.

It’s time to end the game. It’s time to tell the big corporations and the lobbyists who have been running things for too long that their time is over. It’s time to challenge politicians to put the American people’s interests ahead of their own calculated political interests, to look the lobbyists in the eye and just say no.

It’s hard to diasgree with that message, and Hillary (who has said she has no problem taking special interest money) is going to have a hard time responding to this.

Intelligence Agency Report: Iraq Strategy Is Failing

Bush and his supporters keep saying the "surge" is working, and that if we just wait for the reports from General Patreus and Ambassador Crocker next month (which the White House will write), then we’ll see that everything is okay.

But of course, we don’t have to wait until next month.

The Iraqi government will become more precarious over the next six to 12 months and its security forces have not improved enough to operate without outside help, intelligence analysts conclude in a new National Intelligence Estimate.

Despite uneven improvements, the analysts concluded that the level of overall violence is high, Iraq’s sectarian groups remain unreconciled, and al-Qaida in Iraq is still able to conduct its highly visible attacks.

"Iraqi political leaders remain unable to govern effectively," the 10-page document concludes.

The PDF is here, although the official release is at 2:30 pm.  Key excerpts:

"Prospects for Iraq’s Stability: Some Security Progress but Political Reconciliation Elusive." Here are some key excerpts…

— "There have been measurable but uneven improvements in Iraq’s security situation since our last NIE on Iraq in January 2007… However, the level of violence, including attacks on and casualties among civilians, remains high; Iraq’s sectarian groups remain unreconciled; al-Qa’ida in Iraq (AQI) retains the ability of conduct high-profile attack; and to date, Iraqi political leaders remain unable to govern effectively. There have been modest improvements in economic output, budget execution, and government finances but fundamental structural problems continue to prevent sustained progress in economic growth and living conditions."

— "We assess, the extent that Coalition forces continue to conduct robust counterinsurgency operations and mentor and support the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), that Iraq’s security will continue to improve modestly during the next 6 to 12 months but that levels of insurgent and sectarian violence will remain high and the Iraqi Government will continue to struggle to achieve national-level political reconciliation and improved governance."

— "Political and security trajectories in Iraq continue to be driven primarily by Shia insecurity about retaining political dominance, widespread Sunni unwillingness to accept a diminished political status, factional rivalries within the sectarian communities resulting in armed conflict, and the actions of extremists such as AQI and the elements of the Sadrist Jaysh al-Mahdi (JAM) militia that try to fuel sectarian violence."

— "The Intelligence Community (IC) assesses that the Iraqi government will become more precarious over the next six to 12 months because of criticism by other member of the major Shia coalition (the Unified Iraqi Alliance, UIA), Grand Ayatollah Sistani, and other Sunni and Kurdish parties."

— "We assess that changing the mission of Coalition forces from primarily counterinsurgency and stabilization role to a primary combat support role for Iraqi forces and counterterrorist operation to prevent AQI from establishing a safehaven would erode security gains achieved thus far."

So there you have it.  Slight uneven military improvements, but a political disaster.  And the military pluses aren’t enough to outweigh the political negatives.

Just so you know, the National Intelligence Estimate isn’t some document created by one low-level guy at some low-level government agency, nor is it something emanating from a Democratic thinktank.  It is:

the collaborative judgments of all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies, including the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency and the intelligence organization of each military service.

You read that right.  The intelligence branches of the CIA, the Department of Defense, the Army, Navy Air Force, Marines — they agree that things are not going well in Iraq.

Remember that when the Patreus Report (did I mention that the White House will author it?) comes out next month telling us how rosy Iraq is.

Scenic Trails

I heard this story on NPR a few weeks ago.  It broke my heart:

Trailers500The first morning of my visit to Scenic Trails, I was walking the path between some trailers when I bumped into a man named Tim Szepek. He was young, tall, and solidly good-looking. I asked if I could speak to him for a moment and he agreed. We found a spot of shade beneath a tree, and I started with what I considered a casual warm-up.

"What’s it like to live around here?" I asked.

"Well," he replied, "I’ll be honest."

"Ain’t a day goes by when I don’t think about killing myself."

And so began my time in Scenic Trails, a FEMA trailer park deep in the Mississippi woods where 100 families have lived in near isolation for close to two years.

Though Szepek was the first resident to tell me he wanted to commit suicide, he certainly wasn’t the last. The day I spoke with him, three other residents confided the same.

The second person was Stephanie Sigur, a 28-year-old mother of two. She was sitting in front of her trailer at a picnic table, her daughter on her lap, when she explained that if it weren’t a sin, she would have blown her brains out months ago.

"I know it’s a bad thing to say because I’m a parent," she told me as her toddler played with her hair, "but I can’t live like this no more."

Stephanie Sigur and Tim Szepek aren’t alone. According to a recent study of 92 different Katrina FEMA parks published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine, suicide attempts in Louisiana and Mississippi’s parks are 79 times higher than the national average. Major depression is seven times the national rate.

When I first read those numbers, I found them hard to believe. But after three days at Scenic Trails, they made a lot more sense.

The residents there, in essence, are trapped. It is no longer possible for them to live outside the trailer parks. Prior to Katrina, most of the people who now live in the parks were renters.

Along the Mississippi coast, a family of four could rent a two- or three-bedroom apartment or small home for around $500 a month. But when the storm wiped the Mississippi coast clean, it took out all the housing infrastructure that supported these people. Most of them are minimum-wage workers who live paycheck to paycheck. Today, a two- or three-bedroom apartment in Hancock County, where Scenic Trails is located, costs $800, $900, even $1,000 a month. This is an impossible amount of money for the people who live in the parks, and there is no immediate end in sight. FEMA says it would like to close the parks, but state and federal government plans to rebuild low-income housing for Mississippi coast residents have yet to break ground. Housing experts says it will probably take years to produce enough low-cost housing to move people out of the parks.

And so they are stuck. And the place they are stuck is not the kind of place you would want to spend an extended amount of time. For two years, many have lived in travel trailers intended for weekend use. Families of four housed in a space the size of most people’s living rooms.

Worse, as time wears on, the communities around them seem to be falling into a kind of madness. At Scenic Trails, almost everyone at the camp has been burglarized at least once. Meth and cocaine addiction is rampant, and residents seem to be turning against one another.

Recently, the park has seen a rash of animal mutilations. One resident told me that her cat had come home bleeding — a long, thin razor cut along its leg. Another resident said his dog’s throat had been cut, and several people reported that someone in the camp had been feeding anti-freeze to dogs.

No one seemed to have a particular suspect in mind. There was no specific theory of why. That was just the way things went at the camp nowadays. With no way to leave, people were angry and frustrated, and so they act out.

On the animals. On each other. On themselves.

But you should listen to the full audio

Alden Pyle

I haven’t read Graham Greene’s "The Quiet American" (nor seen the relatively recent Michael Caine movie), but from what I gather, the main character is named Alden Pyle.  He’s a government agent, living and working in Saigon, with a lot of idealistic patriotism, which manifests itself as naivete.  While not a villian, Alden Pyle (played by Brandon Fraser in the movie) represents the folly of American’s involvement in Vietnam.  He is delusional about thinking that American might and willpower can transform a region of the country.

One Newseek columnist in 2005 compared Bush’s Iraq strategy to Alden Pyle:

Once again, President Bush’s lethally misguided good intentions are reminiscent of Alden Pyle in Graham Greene’s novel “The Quiet American,” about the early days of U.S. involvement in Vietnam: “He was absorbed already in the dilemmas of Democracy and the responsibilities of the West; he was determined—I learnt that very soon—to do good, not to any individual person but to a country, a continent, a world. … When he saw a dead body he couldn’t even see the wounds. A Red menace, a soldier of democracy.”

So it IS rather strange that Bush would invoke "The Quiet American" and Alden Pyle by name in his recent speech about Iraq.  Seems like he would want to avoid the comparison, rather than reminding people of it.

One wonders if Bush or his speechwriters have actually read the book.

Dept. Of Bad Excuses: Part II

FloridablowjobSo as you probably know by now, Florida State Rep. Bob Allen (R-Pervert) offered $20 to an undercover cop if the cop would accept a blowjob.  This happened in a restroom in a public park.

Upon arrest, Allen’s excuse was that the park was full of black men, and the guy in the bathroom stall next to him (the undercover cop) was a black man, so naturally, Allen was frightened of "becoming a statistic".  So naturally, Allen did what any of us would do when we’re in the company of scary black men — we offer them money so we can fellate them.  Makes sense, right?

But why was Allen hanging out for so long in the park’s restroom to begin with?

Well, Allen has a perfectly reasonable explanation for that, too, which was revealed yesterday in court documents.  Turns out he was afraid of getting hit by lightning.

One wonders why Allen didn’t simply offer $20 to perform oral sex on the lightning, but that’s his affair.

He’s still planning on running for a state Senate seat in 2010, by the way.

Making The Clinton White House Look Like A Nunnery

Jeff Gannon first came on the national radar in early 2005, as the White House reporter who asked softball questions of the President and the Press Secretary.  Questions like:

"Senate Democratic leaders have painted a very bleak picture of the U.S. economy. (Senate Minority Leader) Harry Reid was talking about soup lines. And (Senator) Hillary Clinton was talking about the economy being on the verge of collapse. Yet in the same breath they say that Social Security is rock solid and there’s no crisis there. How are you going to work – you’ve said you are going to reach out to these people – how are you going to work with people who seem to have divorced themselves from reality?

That caused many people to ask "Who IS this guy?".  He was from a fly-by-night internet "media" organization called Talon News, which — as it turns out — was funded by GOPUSA, a Republican interest group.

But there are lots of conservative groups out there.  How did Gannon get a press pass, we wondered.

So bloggers started looking around, and it was mere hours before the rock was overturned.  Revelation time: aside from being a Republican stooge journalist, Jeff Gannon was also a $200-an-hour ex-Marine gay male prostitute, and his real name was Jim Guckert.

The story was fun for a while, but it soon faded.  But some questions remained unanswered.  A few blogs noted that the White House logs would show Gannon coming to the White House.  Gannon initially said it was because he was covering press conferences, but it was later revealed that no press conferences were happening that day. 

What’s more suspicious was that many times, the logs showed Gannon as "checking in" to the White House, but not "checking out".  Did Gannon have a White House connection?  Someone who got him a press pass?  Was that person his lover (or possibly a client)?

It’s all for titillating good fun back then.  And it might get fun again.

Karl Rove, long-time advisor to President Bush, announced his resignation today amidst rumors that a new book by a male homosexual prostitute would finger Rove as secretly gay.

Jim Gannon, former reporter for Talon News and rent boy, is publishing a "tell all" book in September tentatively titled "Behind Enemy Lines". Karl Rove apparently fears being exposed as a former customer of Gannon’s or his military pron websites like www.hotmilitarystud.com

It has long been rumored that Jim Gannon gained White House briefing room credentials and day passes by offering his services to Karl Rove, including several overnight stays in the White House Buchanan bedroom.

Of course, the source for that is the disreputable Talon News, the "media" site that originally hired Gannon.

Now, I don’t care — really, I don’t — if Rove is gay, or if he gave a press pass to a gay lover/hooker.  But Karl Rove has been the "architect" of Bush’s career and his closest advisor on matters ranging from Iraq to gay marriage.  He made neo-conservatism possible.  And one wonders how — if this book comes out and is true — Bush supporters (the same people who lambasted Clinton for his private indiscretions) will react.  Will they be apologists?  Will they continue to rally around Bush?

In any event, the notion of "bringing dignity to the White House", the rallying cry of Republicans in 2000, is pretty much a farce, yes?

Educating Marie

Marie Jon Apostrophe:

The ACLU and their progressive, secular lawyers are well-known for crucifying Christ afresh whenever they can.

Uh, Marie?  Here are only a few of the things that the ACLU has been up to lately:

  • Rhode Island ACLU filed an appeal in federal court on behalf of an inmate who was barred from preaching during Christian religious services, something he had done for the past seven years under the supervision and support of prison clergy. The prisoner, Wesley Spratt, believes his preaching is a calling from God. Prison officials cited vague and unsubstantiated security reasons for imposing the preaching ban on Mr. Spratt. The ACLU argued that the ban violates Mr. Spratt’s religious freedoms guaranteed to prisoners under federal law.  Read about it here.
  • The ACLU of Nevada defended the free exercise rights and free speech rights of evangelical Christians to preach on the sidewalks of the Strip in Las VegasRead about it here.
  • The ACLU of New Mexico joined forces with the American Family Association to succeed in freeing a preacher, Shawn Miller, from the Roosevelt County jail, where he was held for 109 days for street preaching. The ACLU became involved at the request of Miller’s wife, Theresa. Read about it here.
  • The ACLU of New Jersey filed a a motion to submit a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of Olivia Turton, a second-grade student who was forbidden from singing "Awesome God" in a voluntary, after-school talent show. The only restriction on the student’s selection for the talent show was that it be "G-rated." The case, filed in federal court, is Turton, et al. v. Frenchtown Elementary School, et al. Read about it here.
  • The ACLU of Washington reached a favorable settlement on behalf of Donald Ausderau, a Christian minister, who wanted to preach to the public on Plaza sidewalks.  Read about it here.
  • The ACLU of Virginia interceded with local authorities on behalf of Baptist preachers who were refused permission to perform baptisms in the river in Falmouth Waterside Park in Stafford County.  Read about it here.

The ACLU supports religious freedom, and the above cases are only a few examples.  Where they draw the line is exactly where the Constitution of the United States draws the line — to wit — government cannot promote religion.

Marie continues:

As of late, the ACLU has protected the rights of molesting and murdering pedophiles known as The North American Man/Boy Love Association (NAMBLA). They are also Johnny-on-the-spot to defend an Iraqi-American Muslim who willed nothing else but to cause a commotion by wearing a black T-shirt that read in both Arabic and English, "We will not be silenced," while boarding an airplane.

Do these people not have a right to SPEECH, Marie?  Or does that only apply to Christians?  Obviously, I am no fan of NAMBLA, but they certainly have a right to speech (which the ACLU is defending; they are NOT defending their "right" to be pedophiles). 

And are you prepared to ban anyone who wears a "we will not be silenced" T-shirt?  What if that person was a Christian protesting at an abortion clinic?  If your answer is different, then you are advocating that only SOME people have first amendment rights, while others don’t.  THAT makes you un-American.  And if the distinguishing feature is that the former person is Muslim and the latter person is a Christian, then THAT makes you a bigot.

Yes, Marie, I’m sure you look great in a bikini.  I’m sure you have a nice ass.  You just need to stop showing it.

Ways I’ve Let Down Popular Musicians

172263Disappointed Chrissie Hynde by continuing to sob.

Permitted sun to go down on Elton John, thus failing him.

Failed to heed warning to stop in the name of love, broke Diana Ross’s heart.

Was cruel to a heart that was true, much to the chagrin of Elvis Presley.

Stopped prior to getting enough, despite urging to the contrary by Michael Jackson.

Spoke even when told not to by Gwen Stefani.

Journdsb4975868861095320Stopped believin’, let go of the feelin’, thereby enraging Steve Perry.

Clutched it too tightly, lost control, resulting in tersely worded letter from .38 Special.

Said "never"; Romeo Void merely shook their heads sadly.

Got together with only a few people, made no effort to love one another, received awkward phone call from the Youngbloods.

Monkees left at the station with only their worries after I missed the last train to Clarksville.

200pxprince_crazyFailed to feel the noize, which doesn’t seem like my fault, but Quiet Riot was still peeved.

Stayed perfectly sane, leaving Prince to go crazy by himself, which actually worked out best for everyone.

Went changing to try to please Billy Joel. Total fiasco.

– A McSweeney’s List by John Moe

Historians/Experts Weigh In On The Iraq-Vietnam Analogy

Continuing from this below, in which Bush uses the Vietnam-was-a-mistake model to promote his Iraq strategy, the experts weigh in:

Not surprisingly, they’re not impressed.

Historian Robert Dallek, who has written about the comparisons of Iraq to Vietnam, accused Bush of twisting history. “It just boggles my mind, the distortions I feel are perpetrated here by the president,” he said in a telephone interview.

“We were in Vietnam for 10 years. We dropped more bombs on Vietnam than we did in all of World War II in every theater. We lost 58,700 American lives, the second-greatest loss of lives in a foreign conflict. And we couldn’t work our will,” he said.

“What is Bush suggesting? That we didn’t fight hard enough, stay long enough? That’s nonsense. It’s a distortion,” he continued. “We’ve been in Iraq longer than we fought in World War II. It’s a disaster, and this is a political attempt to lay the blame for the disaster on his opponents. But the disaster is the consequence of going in, not getting out.”

And some more.

Vietnam historian Stanley Karnow said Bush is reaching for historical analogies that don’t track. “Vietnam was not a bunch of sectarian groups fighting each other,” as in Iraq, Karnow said. In Cambodia, the Khmer Rouge toppled a U.S.-backed government.

“Does he think we should have stayed in Vietnam?” Karnow asked.

And some more.

Steven Simon, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, echoed these comments. “The President emphasized the violence in the wake of American withdrawal from Vietnam. But this happened because the United States left too late, not too early. It was the expansion of the war that opened the door to Pol Pot and the genocide of the Khmer Rouge. The longer you stay the worse it gets.”

For that matter, Rick Perlstein noted a series of posts — 1, 2, 3, and 4 — which, combined, debunk most of the popular conservative myths working their way through the political world today

Given today’s rhetoric, this is probably the most notable one.

It is true that tens of thousands of Vietnamese were killed, and hundreds of thousands exiled to “re-education” camps, by a triumphant Communist government after Saigon fell in 1975. But by the early 1970s as the worst American bombing was raging, hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese were being killed, and millions being exiled from their homes — carnage that came to a dead stop once the war ended. As cruel as the Communist consolidation of power was, ending the war entailed an obvious net saving of lives, and if it were saving lives conservatives actually cared about — instead of scoring ideological points — this should be obvious.

That’s the first point. The second: America’s war aim — standing up an anti-Communist democratic government in Saigon absent an American military occupation — was impossible. President Nixon admitted this privately all the time, even while he was simultaneously publicly claiming he was negotiating to achieve exactly that. The point has finally become so obvious that now even conservatives admit it. Though conservatives still haven’t brought themselves to admit the more fundamental point: Nixon was right. Indeed, sickeningly, after more visits and better contacts in-country than any American politician, he had been saying we couldn’t win in Vietnam privately since 1966, as Len Garment disarmingly acknowledged in his memoir.

Regrettably, in just one day, the right is flunking military policy, national security policy, foreign policy, and history. Not bad for a day’s work.

Here’s some more experts, explaining that Bush learned the wrong lessons from the Vietnam War (a war he avoided fighting in):

“Bush is cherry-picking history to support his case for staying the course,” said Br. Gen. John Johns (USA Ret.), an expert on counter-insurgency who also served in Vietnam. “What I learned in Vietnam is that US forces could not conduct a counterinsurgency operation. The longer we stay there, the worse it’s going to get.”

***

“The speech was an act of desperation to scare the American people into staying the course in Iraq,” said Lawrence Korb, a retired Vietnam Naval aviator and a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress. “He’s distorted the facts, painting all of the people in Iraq as being on the same side which is simply not the case. Iraq is a religious civil war.” Korb elaborated further on the refugee crisis as a result of the war in Iraq: “If the President cared about the refugees he’d let a lot more of them into our country.”

Rand Beers, a former Marine Corps Infantry Officer in Vietnam and now president of the National Security Network said, “The President’s analogies are as flawed as his strategy in Iraq. The longer we keep the dependency we’ve created in Iraq, the harder it will be for Iraqis to take responsibility for their own future.”

Moira Whelan, communications director for the National Security Network, summarized the reaction to Bush’s speech this way: “The outcry about the misrepresentations in the President’s speech tells us that experts, Vietnam veterans and the American people simply will not buy his attempt to mask the fact the surge has failed in Iraq.”