Tuesday, May 31, 2005

That? Oh, that's the smell of serious desperation.

How badly does Uncle Sam want you? About this badly. Fuck, but that's pathetic.

You don't tug on Superman's cape, ...

... you don't spit into the wind and, if you're a total dick like Daniel Okrent, you don't mess around with columnist Paul Krugman because he'll do this to you.

Side note: regardless of what that page says, it's not a debate, it's a pasting.

Ooooooh ... catfight. Meow, meow, meow, meow ...

Oh, man, this has more potential entertainment value than a Republican convention after the hookers show up. Over here, Ms. Z slaps around (although, in large part, using someone else's words) Canadian right-wing pundit Rachel Marsden. We can only hope this is a regular feature.

UPDATE: Fast-breaking, Marsden-related news here.

Dear wankersphere: Any chance of an apology sometime soon?

And in a timely display of snark, TBogg has a piece on columnist and journalistic dipstick Don Surber, of whom a reader writes in:

On April 11, 2003, the Daily Mail's Don Surber crowed about the fall of Baghdad, "Opponents of this war will never admit their error... Critics could not wait to blast the war plan. They should have. It worked."

A week later, April 18, 2003, he wrote about the financial costs of the war, "Critics even got the price wrong. They said it would cost more than $80 billion. So far it has cost $20 billion and it might cost another $10 billion in the next six months."

Meanwhile the war's monetary costs have skyrocketed toward $280 billion, and the term "quagmire" seems increasingly apt.

If his earlier misperceptions concern him now, Surber hasn't mentioned it to the rest of us.

Which sets the stage nicely for a piece I was planning on writing anyway -- isn't it about time for an apology from the right-wing wankersphere, given their hopelessly-misplaced predictions regarding the Invasion Of Iraq and the War On Terror?

As we all know, back in '03, you couldn't turn around without bumping into another pompous, pretentious, bloviating, right-wing blowhard, crowing over the magnificent success of Operation "Kick the Living Shit Out of an Impoverished Middle East Country Crippled by Ten Years of Debilitating Sanctions." Oh, yes, there was no shortage of self-congratulatory preening, was there?

But fast forward a couple of years, and the sheen does seem to have fallen off of that rose, doesn't it? Perhaps a quick checklist to refresh everyone's memory:
  • Terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden in custody and paying for his crimes: Nope.
  • Iraq's WMDs located and safely under lock and key: Um, nope.
  • Iraq's nuclear facilities tightly secured to prevent them from being looted and perhaps sold to other nasty people: No, not quite.
  • Iraq a democratic paradise, with deliriously happy citizenry and American troops preparing for a joyful homecoming: Not the last time I looked.
  • Other Mid-East countries seeing the example of Iraq and rapidly falling into line, democracy and freedom-wise: Oooh ... definitely not. (See: Iran.)
  • All of this neo-con, imperial adventuring paid for out of Iraq's oil revenues: You just wish.

Well, that didn't quite turn out the way it was planned, did it? (And I'm not even mentioning the 1600+ dead American soldiers. Oops, I guess I just did.)

Which brings us fill circle: When do we anti-war folks get that apology? And I don't just mean from the usual American blowhards like Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Falafel, Michelle Malkin, InstaWanker, and so on. We certainly had enough wanks like that north of the border as well, like pretty much everyone at our national journalistic embarrassment, the National Post.

So ... I figure it's just about time for the apologies, no? Who wants to start? Come on, don't be shy. I've heard confession is good for the soul.

CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE: It's not as if there aren't some folks having a gradual change of heart. Here, we learn that N.C. Republican congressman Walter Jones is not a happy camper these days:

It was a culinary rebuke that echoed around the world, heightening the sense of tension between Washington and Paris in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. But now the US politician who led the campaign to change the name of french fries to "freedom fries" has turned against the war...

Although he voted for the war, he has since become one of its most vociferous opponents on Capitol Hill, where the hallway outside his office is lined with photographs of the "faces of the fallen".

"If we were given misinformation intentionally by people in this administration, to commit the authority to send boys, and in some instances girls, to go into Iraq, that is wrong," he told the newspaper. "Congress must be told the truth."

One, and counting.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Michelle Malkin: a douchebag for ... ah, just a douchebag.

If you have a half hour or so, grab a coffee or beer, get comfy and read this, specifically the multi-page e-mail exchange between douchebag Malkin and author Peter Irons. Oh, geez.

Yeah, the title above is tasteless, but I just wanted to be at the top of the Google output for anyone searching for "Michelle Malkin" and "douchebag".

UPDATE: We're number two! We're number two!

SUPER DUPER UPDATE! We're number one! See? All good things come to those who wait. Mom would be so proud.

How to support the troops.

The next time some ignorant, right-wing wanker dipshit whines about your not supporting the troops, point them at this:

John Riggs spent 39 years in the Army, earning a Distinguished Flying Cross for bravery during the Vietnam War and working his way up to become a three-star general entrusted with creating a high-tech Army for the 21st century.

But on a spring day last year, Riggs was told by senior Army officials that he would be retired at a reduced rank, losing one of his stars because of infractions considered so minor that they were not placed in his official record.


His Pentagon superiors said he allowed outside contractors to perform work they were not supposed to do, creating "an adverse command climate."

But some of the general's supporters believe the motivation behind his demotion was politics. Riggs was blunt and outspoken on a number of issues and publicly contradicted Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld by arguing that the Army was overstretched in Iraq and Afghanistan and needed more troops.

I swear, if there's any way that the current U.S. administration could treat its military more contemptuously or dismissively, I can't imagine what it is.

Just how stupid is Daniel Okrent?

First, whet your appetite with this piece over at Eschaton, in which outgoing NYT ombudsman Daniel Okrent has no idea of the shitstorm he has just inspired. Then let Steve Gilliard make sure you know just what sort of beating Okrent is about to get.

DISCLAIMER: Not that long ago, I put in my two cents regarding this as well.

Sunday afternoon delight.

So, the plan here at CC HQ today is to get all hot and sweaty for an hour or two with a good-looking, fast chick.

Yes, we will be going to the gym, plunking ourselves onto a stationary bike, plugging in the audio and watching the Indy 500 and high-speed phenom Danica Patrick and the rest of the boys.

What did you think I was talking about?

Winning hearts and minds, corporate America style.

So ... Northwest Airlines is reeling under a loss of $458 million in the last quarter alone. And their strategy to win new customers and satisfy their existing ones? Take away their pretzels:

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Northwest Airlines passengers who said goodbye to free meals in February at least got free pretzels to console them. Now the airline is taking the pretzels away, too.

Beginning June 9, coach passengers who want anything other than soda will have to pay for it. They can get a 3-ounce bag of trail mix for $1. Northwest spokesman Kurt Ebenhoch said the airline has no immediate plans to stop offering soda for free.

He said pulling the free pretzels should save $2 million a year.

Northwest, the nation's fourth-largest airline, lost $458 million in the last quarter alone. It is Michigan's largest passenger air carrier and has a hub at Detroit Metropolitan Airport in Romulus.

Sure, why not? Given that flying in the U.S. is already indescribably unpleasant with all the new security regulations, might as well just give all those harried travellers another big "Fuck You" by taking away their bag of pretzels.

What business school did these people go to to learn shit like this?

BY THE WAY: Is it worth knowing that Northwest's CEO Doug Steenland made over $3.5 million in 2004?

The lying sack of intellectual dishonesty that is "Weasel Boy".

PZ Myers has his "Paul @ Wizbang" to abuse. Juan Cole has Jonah "Doughy Pantload" Goldberg. TBogg has, well, pretty much the entire membership of the NRO's Corner to knock around. Me, I set my sights a bit lower. I just take the time on occasion to bitch slap "Weasel Boy" around the room since, God knows, there are few right-wing wankers who deserve it more.

Turns out, by some strange coincidence, WB's latest piece of execrable swill involves a familiar subject -- whether the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) are, in fact, a "religious organization". I have no idea whether his piece of wretched crap was inspired by my own recent beatdown of him on that topic but, what the hell, I'll expose WB once again for the festering sack of duplicity that he is.

Over here, WB goes to great length using "logic" (and I use that word in its loosest, most forgiving possible definition) to prove that the BSA is not religious.

Me? I like to go straight to the source and just ask them. As in producing legal briefs in which the BSA openly admits that, in fact, a religious organization is precisely what they are. As proof, I direct you to this transcript of the Jan 16, 2004 episode of Fox News' own "O'Falafel Factor", in which Bill O'Falafel himself actually does some research and figures this out all on his lonesome:

O'REILLY: All right. Now we researched this for the past 24 hours, and here's how it goes down.

On October 21, 2003, Greg Shields, a national spokesman for the Boy Scouts of America, said this to Fox News: "The Boy Scouts are not a religious organization. We cannot be described as a religious organization or a religion."

However, in several legal briefs, including one in a 1992 case in Kansas and another in 1998, lawyers for the Boy Scouts put in writing that the Scouts are a religious organization. Here's the quote in '98:

"Although Boy Scouts of America is not a religious sect, it is religious, and, while the local council is not a house of worship like a church or a synagogue, it is a religious organization." [Emphasis oh so joyfully added.]

How much clearer can this get? And yet, in spite of the obvious evidence, we have the following bizarre spectable:

Q: Is the BSA a religious organization?

BSA: Why, yes. Yes, we most certainly are.

Weasel Boy: See? I told you they weren't a religious organization.

Seriously, how fucking stupid or dishonest do you have to be to write like Weasel Boy? No, no, please, don't answer that. I'm not really that interested.

BONUS SNARK: While I'm here, I might as well smack Bill O'Falafel around a little. The background to the transcript to which I linked to above is that, on Jan 14, 2004, O'Falafel criticized guest San Diego councilman Michael Zucchet for saying that the BSA was a religious organization. O'Falafel disagreed and stated:

"All right, if I come back tomorrow Mr. Zucchet and the Boy Scouts say 'We never said we're a religious organization,' you're going to have to come back and apologize to me. And I'll do the same to you, all right? Is that a deal?"

to which Zucchet agreed.

Now go back and read that transcript again, to see how desperately O'Falafel tries to get out of apologizing, even after he's so obviously wrong. Hard to believe, but O'Falafel is as classless as Weasel Boy is dishonest.

Someone in the WH Press Corpse getting a mite uppity with Li'l Scottie.

Apparently, some of the press are not so willing to just bend over for Scottie any more:

Q Scott, on the security fence, does the President believe that it's being used for security reasons or for political reasons?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, the President said that it must be for security purposes, not for political --

Q What does he think --

MR. McCLELLAN: -- not as a political barrier, and that's what the President spelled out. And we've expressed those views to the Israeli government, as well, and we have discussions with them about that, as well, and I think you've seen them taking some steps to take into account the need for the Palestinian people to be able to move about more freely, as well. They've taken some steps to --

Q You're not answering the question. What does the President believe it's being used for?

MR. McCLELLAN: No, they've taken some steps to address that, and --

Q It was a very artful construction, to say if you're trying to impose a boundary, then that's wrong, that would be a political --

MR. McCLELLAN: No, I appreciate that, but we're consulting directly with the parties and working with them --

Q I said what does the President believe it's being used for?

MR. McCLELLAN: -- and we're making our views known directly with the parties. The President has said it publicly; he's said it in private, as well, and we'll continue to talk with the Israeli government about those issues as we move forward. And that's why --

Q You won't answer whether he thinks it's being used for political purposes, or --

MR. McCLELLAN: I think I would leave it where the President left it.

Q Which is nowhere. He just said -- Scott, I mean, he said it should be used for security reasons, not for political reasons, so I'm wondering what does he think it's being used for?

MR. McCLELLAN: David, we've got a real opportunity before us to move forward to the two-state vision --

Q He doesn't have an opinion on the fence?

MR. McCLELLAN: -- and as he made it clear, it needs to take into account the impact it has on Palestinians that are not engaged in terrorist activities. That's what he said in his remarks. And as we make progress, Israel needs to continue to take that into account.

Memo to Scottie: They can smell fear.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Peter MacKay, man of action.

Norm Spector, apparently inhabiting a different reality from the rest of us:

The Globe and Mail’s Lawrence Martin says Stephen Harper should be reflecting on his future:

Rather than wound him, the drama has turned him into a knight in shining armour. It's made him a household name and the closest thing to a heartthrob federal politics has got. Ask most any woman and they'll tell you about Peter MacKay. Handsome, strong, hot. And oh so valorous in the wake of being so badly spurned….

Mr. MacKay is not without his own set of weaknesses. His French is halting, and he has little experience in economics or foreign affairs. Some question his depth, and many still see him as too much the opportunist, ready to cast aside principles for the sake of ambition.

But, in terms of electability, the advantages he enjoys over Mr. Harper are imposing. He has none of the hard-line baggage that scares voters. He is far more saleable down east and in Ontario, and he has youth appeal and the aforementioned star power.

It's not just the look. Charisma requires that there be granite under the glitter. And one thing no one in Ottawa questions is Mr. MacKay's combative inner core. There is a slug-it-out quality about him, a directness of approach that sets him apart.

That would be this Peter MacKay, would it?

Sometimes, snark is so superfluous.

The delightful Ms. Z gets it exactly right here when she suggests that there are some claims that are so ludicrously absurd, additional commentary would just spoil the effect. Sort of like when White House Press Ferret Scott McClellan says of Newsweek's original Koran-desecration story:

McClellan said the story "appears to be very shaky from the get-go" and rests on "a single anonymous source who cannot substantiate the allegation that was made."

Today's oxymoron: Conservative think-tank.

And Canada's conservatives, being the under-represented, oppressed minority that they are, are apparently gearing up to start another right-wing social club where they can get together to compare how much they don't like gays and perhaps swap their favourite Bible verses, as we can read here.

The article suggests that their goal will be to promote "traditionalist" values, but one has to wonder just how they're going to fill their time.

SPEAKER: Now, then, our first order of business. Voting on the resolution that we don't like homosexuals. All in favour?


SPEAKER: Right, then, um ... well, that's pretty much the day's agenda, isn't it? Thanks for coming.

I do appreciate the unintentional hilarity in the final paragraph:

The institute aims to recruit top-level academics and pollsters in anticipation it will be viewed as a radical fringe element.

Note to institute: If academics are truly top-level, they already think you're a bunch of loons. You might want to set your sights a little lower.

Sorry, it's been busy lately.

I apologize for falling down on the job lately, it's been a wee bit busy. Time to tie up a number of loose ends, blog-wise, this weekend, I think.

Friday, May 27, 2005

It's not the lying, it's ... well, OK, it's the lying.

For American pol watchers, I think we can safely say that Sen. Bill Frist (R - Cat Killer) has pretty much self-destructed in terms of his 2008 presidential bid. The only way he has a chance is if a sizable percentage of the American electorate are indescribably stupid and ... um ... oh, shit.

Anyway, here's a delightful piece showing how Frist has principles. And if you don't like those principles, well, he's got others.

Li'l Scottie -- heading for the meltdown.

Over here, Holden has a delightful excerpt from another Scottie gaggle, at which Scottie ends up being totally illogical. Let's watch:

Q There are news reports this morning that parents and children who were guests of the President, when they visited Congress, wore stickers with the wording, "I was an embryo." And my question is, since all of us were once embryos, and all of us were once part sperm and egg, is the President also opposed to contraception, which stops this union and kills both sperm and egg?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think the President has made his views known on these issues, and his views known --

Q You know, but what I asked, is he opposed -- he's not opposed to contraception, is he?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, and you've made your views known, as well. The President --

Q No, no, but is he opposed to contraception, Scott? Could you just tell us yes or no?

MR. McCLELLAN: Les, I think that this question is --

Q Well, is he? Does he oppose contraception?

MR. McCLELLAN: Les, I think the President's views are very clear when it comes to building a culture of life --

Q If they were clear, I wouldn't have asked.

MR. McCLELLAN: -- and if you want to ask those questions, that's fine. I'm just not going to dignify them with a response.

Now, what's wrong with this exchange? What's wrong is how Scottie continually claims that El Presidente has made his views on contraception clear, then blows off poor Les by saying that the question is somehow beneath his dignity.

Memo to Scottie: You can't have it both ways. If Commander Chimpy has addressed the issue and allegedly made his views on it "clear," you can't now claim that it's beneath your dignity to respond. It's too late for that.

Well, this comes as no surprise whatsoever.

From this morning's Mop and Pail,

Christian activists capturing Tory races

Christian activists have secured Conservative nominations in clusters of ridings from Vancouver to Halifax -- a political penetration that has occurred even as the party tries to distance itself from hard-line social conservatism.

And as we all know, nothing says "distancing yourself from hard-line social conservatism" like pure, unadulterated, incessant gay bashing.

At least three riding associations in Nova Scotia, four in British Columbia, and one in suburban Toronto have nominated candidates with ties to groups like Focus on the Family, a Christian organization that opposes same-sex marriage.

Lovely. So we should expect a vicious, Biblical attack on our TV cartoon characters any day now. And I had such high hopes for SpongeFarley MowatPants. Damn.

Some Conservatives argue that the selection of a large number of candidates from the religious right is an unfortunate turn for a party that was accused in last year's election campaign of harbouring a socially conservative "hidden agenda."

Well, I think we can safely say it's not all that "hidden" anymore. Splashing it across the front page of the Grope and Flail sort of has that effect.

"The difficulty, from a party perspective, is that it begins to hijack the other agendas that parties have," said Ross Haynes, who lost the Conservative nomination in the riding of Halifax to one of three "Christian, pro-family people" recommended by a minister at a religious rally this spring in Kentville, N.S.

The other "agendas" of the Conservative Party being ... um ... well, gay bashing is pretty much it, isn't it? It's not like they're going to run up an excessive printing charge publishing their platform, is it?

Mr. Emmanuel runs the Equipping Christians for the Public Square Centre, which teaches people of his faith to become political. He is reluctant to say how many adherents have obtained Conservative nominations because he is afraid the news media will portray the campaign as the infiltration of the party by "right-wing fanatics."

Yeah, and that would be, like, so totally unfair. Where do the media get such wacky ideas?

Others within the party say they are extremely concerned and wished the party leaders had been more involved in the nominations.

Well, it's not like you need to deliberately discourage or prevent the lunatic fringe from running. Just have Stephen Harper give them a good talking to; that seems to be enough to drive people screaming into the night.

Just read the whole thing.

AFTERTHOUGHT: There's a delightful hypocrisy surrounding some of these candidates, who apparently object to being tarred as "Christian" candidates, yet clearly plan to get as much mileage as they can out of that very same religious belief.

Take Cindy Silver, of whom the Globe article writes:

Ms. Silver, a lawyer in the federal Justice Department, objects to being labelled a Christian candidate. "That's a form of discrimination," she said. "That's putting them in a class of people and ascribing to them the characteristics of that class without ever giving them a chance to stand on their own merits."

Ah, so Ms. Silver thinks her religious beliefs are ... what, out of bounds? Then, one might ask why she feels it necessary to shove them front and centre here:

I’ve been listening to you as well. Some of you have spoken to me about my religious beliefs. A few have suggested that because I did legal work for a couple of Christian organizations several years ago, I may be someone on the far right, or a religious extremist.

Let me tell you the same thing I told them. I am a Christian. So is Don Bell. In fact, we go to the same North Shore church. I ask you to think about that.

Yeah, you can think about it, just don't write about it. Is that how it works?

And it's interesting that, in all of Cindy's posted speeches, we don't see any mention of this little gem:

"Many Canadians - religious and non-religious - believe that marriage is a male-female union. Their right to hold and maintain their beliefs is guaranteed twice in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and must be protected," says Cindy Silver, Focus on the Family's legal co-counsel.

Gee, Cindy, I'll bet there are at least a few Canadians who might be interested in your former association with James Dobson's hard-right group of wingnuts. Any reason that bit of info didn't come up in any of your speeches? It's not like you're trying to (God forbid) downplay that embarrassing part of your past, is it?

Thursday, May 26, 2005

"Crude awakening": A seven-day Globe series on energy.

I should have been on the ball and mentioned this last Friday.

How to lie like Bill O'Reilly, if you must.

It's always fun to see what shenanigans BIll O'Falafel has been up to lately and Media Matters has a clip of typical Bill here, with guest Col. David Hunt lying about how long it took before the military knew the real facts behind Pat Tillman's death. It's not Hunt's lying that's interesting, it's what O'Falafel does with it (all emphasis added):

BILL O'REILLY (host): All right, so let me get this straight. The Ranger unit itself engineered the cover-up. Is that what you're saying?

HUNT: Absolutely right.

O'REILLY: When did the Army brass learn the truth?

HUNT: About a month or so afterwards. The Rangers are a storied unit. This is --

O'REILLY: OK, wait, wait, wait, but let's walk through this.

HUNT: Yes, OK.

O'REILLY: So about a month or two after it happened, the Army learned the truth.

HUNT: About a month.

And, sure, you can see exactly what's happening. Hunt describes the delay as "about a month or so", which Bill casually transmogrifies into "about a month or two", a larger value being more beneficial for his claim, of course.

Note, though, how Hunt immediately corrects the record. Hmmm ... why would that be? I'll just speculate that Hunt figured he had enough wiggle room to get away with "a month or so" but no more than that, and that he knew that O'Reilly would start attributing to him (Hunt) the figure of "a month or two", and possibly even embellishing on that, perhaps like:

O'REILLY: So there you have it. My previous guest, Col. David Hunt, describing how it was at least a month or two before the facts about Pat Tillman's death were discovered.

And I'm thinking Hunt didn't want to get dragged into O'Reilly's lies so he made sure he had deniability on the record if it came to that. Poor Bill. Even his own guests have to keep their distance from his lies.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

The April feedback's here! The April feedback's here!

Last month's reader feedback is now available at TalkOrigins here. Rather than cherry pick the most breathtakingly stupid for you this month, I'll just let you peruse them for yourselves. There's a wide selection of the good, the bad and the ugly but, with an opening like this:

wow. satan is doing a great job to trick you all, but Jesus is more powerful than some evolution

you know there's some amusement value.

And could we get an extra chair for David's ego, please?

Jesus freakin' Christ! Could there possibly be anyone more consumed or obsessed with their own self-importance than David Horowitz? (And, yes, that's an overwhelmingly rhetorical question.)

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Well, that didn't take long, did it?

From this article at ThinkProgress, we learn that Sen. Bill "Cat Killer" Frist is already planning to renege on the recent filibuster compromise before the ink is even dry.

Please tell me you're not at all surprised.

God loves you ...

... unless you're a relatively small, manageable dog. Then you might be in for a bad time.

Over-dramatize much, John?

And, gosh, is it any surprise that ButtRocket over at PowerLine just can't control his hyperbole when it comes to describing the recent GOP-Dem compromise over judicial nominiations? Here's John, doing his best Bill O'Reilly imitation:

What a hideous deal! The Democrats have agreed to cloture on only three nominees, and they have made no commitment not to filibuster in the future, if there are "extraordinary circumstances." Of course, the Dems think any nominee who is a Republican is "extraordinary."

Yeah, that must be why they've confirmed a full 95% of Chimpy's nominees, balking only at those few who are certifiably batshit insane.

AssMissile: a douchebag for accuracy.

Monday, May 23, 2005

"Hypothetical," my butt. Part 1.5.

Before I finish with part two of this post, I do have to indulge in just the teensiest bit of "Am I just too freaking psychic for words or what?"

Recall from back here that I suggested that White House Press Reptile Scott McClellan had such a predictable set of evasions, he might as well just number them -- sort of the way he might have done just that here.

First, there was his ritualistic "Well, I don't agree with your characterization," which we can see on display here:

Q One other question. Karzai was quite definite in saying that he didn't believe that the violence in Afghanistan was directly tied to the Newsweek article about Koran desecration. Yet, from this podium, you have made that link. So --

: Actually, I don't think you're actually characterizing what was said accurately.

And, as a bonus, there was my description of how Scottie deflects questions about what El Presidente thinks onto the subjects of those very same questions. You know -- sort of like this:

Q Congressman Barney Frank has for the second time publicly denounced Democratic National Chairman Howard Dean for Dean's repeatedly saying that Majority Leader DeLay is likely to go to jail and should step down. My question: Does the President agree with Congressman Frank on this issue? And what was his reaction to Dean, as a physician, making fun of Limbaugh's battle against addiction to painkillers?

: There's a Democratic National Committee. There's also a Republican National Committee. I think the best place to look for a response would be from the Republican National Committee when it comes to that.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!! Poor Scottie. So depressingly predictable, it's embarrassing.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

She does get results, doesn't she?

Then, Feb 16, 2005:

In his State of the Union address, Bush also announced that his wife would lead a three-year, $150 million nationwide effort to reduce gang violence by encouraging young people to remain crime free.

Now, May 22, 2005:

Mrs. Bush, who is on a tour intended partly to help defuse anti-American sentiment in the region ...

Earlier mission accomplished, I guess. And so far ahead of schedule, too.

Another Frank Rich must-read.

It's nice to see that the New York Times still has a few columnists left who can write. It almost makes up for Judith "I'm the queen of fucking Iraq" Miller. Almost.

The 101st Fighting Keyboarders, weaselly young Republican edition.

Every so often, I think I'm just going to remind everyone of the gutless, cowardly hypocrisy of all those sanctimonious, pro-war young Republicans who think fighting and dying for Halliburton and the Carlyle Group is just ever so peachy keen as long as it's not them who's doing it.

Remember this? My favourite bizarre rationalization:

"I physically probably couldn't do a whole lot" in Iraq, said Tiffanee Hokel, 18, of Webster City, Iowa, who called the war a moral imperative. She knows people posted in Iraq, but she didn't flinch when asked why she wouldn't go.

"I think I could do more here," Hokel said, adding that she's focusing on political action that supports the war and the troops.

"We don't have to be there physically to fight it," she said.

Except that you kind of have to be there physically to be one of the unlucky ones to be killed in it. Funny how that works.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Antonia Zerbisias online! Hot damn!

Not sure how I missed this until now but one of my favorite Canadian journalists, Antonia Zerbisias, is now up and blogging. It's not like I don't have enough people to keep up with or anything.

"Hypothetical," my butt. Part 1.

Back here, when we were discussing filibusters (well, OK, when I was discussing filibusters and you got to comment), there came up the subject of the dreaded "hypothetical question," which I think is just the opportunity I need to point out what a complete, crock of weasel shit that whole concept is. So, where to begin?

Let's first understand one indisputable fact. When it comes to things like White House press gaggles, the only goal of the speaker is to impart as little information as possible, and to take as much time as possible doing it.

If one is a working journalist, one does not go to a White House gaggle for information. One goes because it has simply become an unavoidable and tedious ritual -- a painful dance at which journalists attempt to ask questions, the speaker uses one of a canned set of responses to deflect or evade the question and the faithful scribe scribbles down the response as if something meaningful had just happened. And on it goes, week after week after mind-numbing, excruciating week, with everyone understanding their pre-assigned roles, knowing that any deviation from script would cause a catastrophic disturbance in the force for which they would never be forgiven.

And how, exactly, does someone like Scottie manage to dodge, weave, shuck and jive these questions week after week? There are a number of techniques which he uses so frequently, one wonders why he doesn't just number them to save everyone the time.

First, there's the "I just disagree with your question" approach, which might resemble:

Reporter: Scott, what's the President's feelings on the fact that, even two years after the invasion that supposedly brought democracy to Iraq, there are still quite a few Iraqis that seem to resent the American presence?

: Well, first of all, I disagree with your characterization ...

Yup, if Scottie doesn't like your tone, he'll just "disagree" with your "characterization". Don't believe me? See for yourself.

Another of Scottie's favourite dodges is to deflect the question elsewhere, even when doing that is clearly nonsensical, as in something (totally fictional) like:

Reporter: Scott, what does the President think of Israeli soldiers using Palestinian school children for sniper practice?

Scott: Well, clearly, that's a question you should address to the Israelis.

You'll notice what just happened there, of course. While the questioner wanted to know the President's thoughts on some topic, Scottie suggested that that information should be obtained from the subjects of the issue at hand, which is, naturally, completely irrelevant.

This happens depressingly frequently. Does the President think the Department of Justice should be getting more aggressive investigating the Valerie Plame case? Well, you'll have to ask the DOJ. Does the President support Sen. Bill Frist's pushing for the "nuclear option" in terms of the filibuster? Naturally, you should ask Senator Frist. What does the President think of the recent atrocities in Uzbekistan? Obviously, you'll have to ask the Uzbekistanis. What does the President think of the proposed ANWR drilling and its potentially devastating effect on migrating caribou herds? Well, you should ask the caribou. (OK, I kind of made that last one up. Sort of.) Apparently, if you want to know what the President thinks, the absolutely last person you should ask is the President or his spokesweasel.

But perhaps the most effective and aggravating Scottie dodge is the "hypothetical question" blow-off, which is so delightfully dishonest and hypocritical that it needs its own posting to do it justice. Stay tuned.

And the joke part of that is ... what?

In his book Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them, Al Franken describes how right-wing blowhard Sean Hannity claims that fellow traveler Rush Limbaugh never made personal, ad hominem attacks against anyone, to which Franken replied, well, what about Chelsea Clinton?

What Franken is referring to is a famous incident during which Limbaugh, on his (mercifully and wholly deservedly) short-lived TV show in 1993, first said that there was a White House cat and put up a photo of the Clintons' cat Socks. He then added, "... they also have a White House dog," and on the screen appeared a picture of 13-year-old Chelsea. Ha ha! What a knee-slapper! It's such a howler when right-wing, bloviating drug addicts make fun of 13-year-old girls, isn't it? That Rush -- always the charmer.

The angry reaction to that incident forced Limbaugh to backpedal, claiming that it was all a technical mistake, and Hannity tried the same dodge, saying, "That was a mistake. A technician accidentally put up the wrong picture." At which point we have the following delightful excerpt from Franken's book, starting with Franken:

"Really? Okay, then tell me, what was the joke? 'The Clintons not only have a White House cat' -- picture of Socks -- 'they also have a White House dog.' What's the joke? What picture was supposed to come up?"

[Hannity's left-wing sock puppet co-host] Alan Colmes was standing nearby. "You know, he's got a point, Sean. There's no joke without the picture of Chelsea."

Exactly. Without that classless dig at Chelsea, where's the joke?

Which brings us to this Media Matters piece, which is pretty much self-explanatory:

In a May 20 article on the controversy surrounding Kenneth Y. Tomlinson, Republican chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), Washington Post reporter Paul Farhi furthered the baseless claim that Tomlinson has appointed both a liberal and a conservative to act as the agency's ombudsmen. In fact, both ombudsmen have conservative ties. Farhi also reported without challenge two claims by Tomlinson that earlier reports in the Post and The New York Times contradict: that a White House adviser Tomlinson hired did not begin working for CPB until after leaving the White House, and that Tomlinson never said that PBS should reflect the country's rightward political shift...

Farhi also noted allegations that in November 2004, Tomlinson "told a gathering of PBS and station executives in Baltimore that the country had moved rightward and that public broadcasting should reflect that," further stating that "in the interview Tomlinson denied saying it, even in jest." But that contradicts two previously published statements attributed to Tomlinson. A May 12 Post article asserted that Tomlinson had admitted making the comment, albeit in jest. "Tomlinson has said his comment was in jest," the Post reported. In addition, the May 2 Times article reported: "Mr. Tomlinson said that his comment was in jest and that he couldn't imagine how remarks at 'a fun occasion' were taken the wrong way."

So those comments were made "in jest"? As Franken would ask, where's the joke? How exactly do you suggest that public broadcasting should reflect the country's (alleged) rightward shift, and say it in fun?

Where's the joke, Ken?

Friday, May 20, 2005

Open thread.

Mostly, I'm just looking for an excuse to take a break.

Friday evening weasel blogging.

Oh, man, there is so a Stephen Harper-Belinda Stronach caption to go with this.

More good snark.

Just go read. It's short.

A photo crying out for a caption.

Must concentrate ... must not ... think of ... horse cock ... mmmmmmm ... horse cock ...

Judges, filibusters and hookers -- establishing the ground rules.

There's an old and thoroughly worn-out joke that goes:

Man: Would you sleep with me for $100,000?
Woman: Hell, yeah!
Man: Would you sleep with me for $25?
Woman: No way! What kind of woman do you think I am?
Man: We've already established what kind of woman you are. Now we're just haggling over the price.

Which brings us to Republican judgeship nominations and threats of Democratic filibustering. Rather than see this continual, tedious tap-dancing from the GOP about how it's so terribly, terribly unfair that the Dems are standing in the way of judicial progress and these fine upstanding wingnuts ... uh, nominees, I would dearly like to see someone at a gaggle ask White House Press Rodent Scott McClellan the following very simple question:

Reporter: Scott, we've heard a lot from this administration about how it's unfair and obstructionist for the Democrats to threaten to block some of the current White House nominees for federal judgeship positions.

A simple question then: Does this administration recognize any rationale -- any rationale whatsoever -- under which the Democrats would be justified in blocking a nomination?

Do you see the point here? First, it's a yes/no question, despite the fact that McClellan can turn even yes/no questions into fucking soliloquys on the nature of man or some damned thing.

The point is to get out in the open whether the administration accepts that there are any acceptable reasons, even theoretical ones, for the Dems wanting to reject a nominee. Or whether the administration feels it has absolute and unconditional carte blanche to nominate -- and have approved -- absolutely anyone they choose.

McClellan would almost certainly try to avoid answering, possibly claiming that it's a hypothetical question and he doesn't do hypotheticals. But any good reporter would have, ready to go, a concrete example, such as:

Reporter: But Scott, let me give you an example. If the White House nominated, for the Supreme Court, say, Rush Limbaugh, is it your position that the Democrats should simply approve that nomination? Is that the position this administration is taking -- that the Dems have a constitutional obligation to approve every nomination?

What if the White House nominated Bill O'Reilly? Is it your position that the Dems would have an obligation to approve that nomination as well?

It's a simple question, Scott. Does this administration recognize any rationale for the Democrats to say that they disapprove of a nomination and that they're not going to let that nomination proceed?

Aside from just dodging the question entirely, McClellan really has only two possible responses. First, if he claims that there's no acceptable reason for the Dems to reject any nominee, no matter how unqualified, incompetent or gibberingly insane, well, that's a pretty significant admission to make, and the Dems would have to be absolute idiots (I mean, even more than they are now) to not be able to get some mileage out of that.

On the other hand, if McClellan opens the door just a crack and accepts that, well, OK, theoretically, there might be circumstances where the Dems are justified in dissenting, well, the Dems should be all over that statement like Bill O'Reilly on a falafel. Once that admission is out, McClellan would have to be able to explain where the dividing line is.

Could the Dems filibuster a nominee that was, say, a unconscionable judicial activist? A pedophile? A convicted sex offender? Bill O'Reilly? Where would one draw the line? And McClellan would now be in the position of having to explain just where that line was. Either way, he's pretty well fucked.

To paraphrase the original joke, could the Dems filibuster a wife-sodomizing, adulterous, mule-fucking, 8" cut, gay male escort? Well, uh, I guess so. Could they filibuster someone just because that person was a conservative? Hell, no! That would be irresponsible, what kind of obstructionists are you? What gives you the right?

Um ... we've already established we have the right, now we're just trying to identify the boundaries.

: Upon reflection, to make this analogy more realistic, rather than asking whether the Dems should approve every nominee, I should probably have had the reporter asking if the Dems should allow a straight up-or-down vote on every nominee.

If you assume the GOP holds the majority in the Senate, then effectively there's no difference but, yes, I should choose my words carefully.

Oh, man ... my kind of snark.

Letter to the editor:

Toronto -- D. Walsh (letter -- May 19) writes: "It sounds as if Belinda Stronach has made the right move. Anyone who accepts bribes should fit well into the current Liberal Party."

Yes, it does sound as if Ms. Stronach has made the right move. Anyone who isn't a reactionary, misogynist Bible-thumper would not fit well into the current Conservative Party.

Generalize much, D. Walsh?

Canadian political bloopers: The Stephen Harper edition.

May 18, 2005:

The end began with a shouting match in Conservative Leader Stephen Harper's oak-panelled Parliament Hill office.

Harper hauled in Newmarket-Aurora MP Belinda Stronach to his inner sanctum last Thursday to, sources say, "read her the riot act."

"You'll never have a future in this party — you're too ambitious," he told her.

May 19, 2005:

On Monday night, Belinda Stronach ate dinner with her boyfriend Peter MacKay. Then, without saying where she was going, she popped over to 24 Sussex Dr. to talk with Prime Minister Paul Martin over another lavish, late meal.

May 20, 2005:

The Liberal government survived a crucial budget vote Thursday night by a sliver ... The final result was 152 to 152, with the Speaker breaking the tie to make it 153 for the government.


Thursday, May 19, 2005

Stephen Harper in trouble?

Uh oh:

Analysts also said that Mr. Harper himself may find that his leadership is in question following a failure to bring down the government.

Lawrence LeDuc, a political science professor with the University College at the University of Toronto, said he believes while there will be a buzz as to whether Mr. Harper is the right person to lead the party after Thursday's vote, the Tories will likely try again to defeat the government -- as early as the fall.

"Um ... Belinda? Seems like there's an opening after all. Give us a call when you have a minute, OK?"

Oh my, Grandma, what a short memory you have.

Jan 5, 2004:

The anti-Bush website Moveon.org has featured a second potential TV ad comparing President George W. Bush with Adolf Hitler...

"This is the worst and most vile form of political hate speech," said Gillespie. "These candidates have a chance to repudiate this pollution of our political process by repudiating these ads at this afternoon's debate in Iowa."

May 19, 2005:

Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) compared Democrats' attempts to keep the filibuster to Hitler's moves in 1942 in a floor speech in the Senate Thursday afternoon, RAW STORY has learned...


You may now all pretend to be shocked and outraged.

UPDATE: Hypocrisy, thy name is "Sean Hannity".

DOUBLE UPDATE: Just for the hell of it.

Duplicitous AND stupid: a really bad combination.

Following the link from this piece at ThinkProgress, this is just priceless:

When the Senate Democratic Policy Committee asked the head of a business organization advocating an overhaul of Social Security to testify at a hearing last week, the members expected him to take the White House line.

They didn't know he would also take the White House editing.

In e-mailing his testimony to the Democratic panel, the organization's chief, Derrick A. Max, inadvertently included editing comments made by an associate commissioner of Social Security on loan to the White House.

Democrats, crying foul, have asked for an investigation. Max has responded that the Social Security official, Andrew G. Biggs, is one of his closest friends and that the changes he made were largely grammatical and technical.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Delightful. Even the dumbest criminals know they should wipe off their fingerprints before they leave the scene of the crime.

In his defense, Max claims that Biggs' assistance was restricted to simply "grammatical and technical" changes. Really?

Most of Biggs' editing is grammatical or technical. At one point, however, he suggests that Max "not use the charts the White House put together" as part of his presentation.

So ... does that suggestion fall under "grammatical" or "technical"? Or "cover your ass"?

OUR conservative nutbars are bigger wankers than YOUR conservative nutbars.

Given the amount of time I spend whapping right-wing loons south of the border, it seems only fair to give an occasional whap to some of the conservative dipsticks up here, and the recent defection of Belinda Stronach to the Liberals from the Canadian Jesusland-North, We-hate-fags party has certainly got the wankers' panties in a bunch lately.

Let's check in on one of them here:

Ever see the movie Groundhog Day? That's what this feels like...

Liberals commit crime. Media whitewashes it. Canadians express their fear of Stephen Harper.

Yes, that dastardly Canadian liberal media, trying to sweep all this Liberal corruption under the rug. Why, if you weren't incredibly persistent and tenacious, you'd never know that there was this thing called the Gomery Inquiry happening, would you?

And what exactly has this particular wanker all cranked up?

The Liberals tried to bribe a Conservative MP today who has a tape to prove it.

Wow. Bribery. That's some serious shit. So let's follow the link for more detail, where we read:

Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh was responding to a charge from Tory MP Gurmant Grewal that he and his wife Nina, also a Tory MP, were offered positions in return for ditching their votes against the Liberal budget on Thursday.

Grewal had told media earlier Wednesday evening that the Liberals offered him a diplomatic post or a Senate seat for his wife in return for scratching their crucial budget vote.

The MP from Surrey, B.C., alleged he made an audio recording of an offer from Dosanjh and Tim Murphy, Prime Minister Paul Martin's chief of staff.

Oh. "Alleged". I guess the original author missed that bit of subtlety since, you know, it's kind of an important detail. But, hey, that's just nuance and, believe me, our Canadian wankers don't do nuance any better than their American counterparts. Trust me on that one.

P.S. And while you're checking out that site, don't forget to drop by the apparent parody of a Liberal dating site. Just between you and me, it would be funnier if the creator knew how to spell "eligible". But that's just me.

P.P.S. Section 15 has far more detail on the Grewal silliness here. I believe the appropriate response would be ... oh, yawn.

Just another delightful Scottie gaggle, chock-full o' irony.

Referring to the recent violence in Uzbekistan:

We would like to see a more open and responsive government. But the way to achieve that is not through violence; it's through peaceful means. And that's what we always emphasize.

I don't really need to add anything to that, do I?

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Kitten wars -- the sequel.

You all remember litter mates Clarence and Elliott from here and here. Since those pics are from a few years back, I figured you'd want to see what they look like now here.

They really are adorable when they're not horking up generic lizard parts and whatnot.

Republican mathematics.

Oh, look. Senator Bill Frist can count to ten. Is that just too exciting for words or what?

Abortion and the Bible.

... and the Lord God Almighty was so thoroughly pissed that he gave Noah just enough advance warning, then sent a massive, worldwide flood to cleanse the Earth of all mankind, yea, verily, including all pregnant women and their unborn children ...


Just how bad is "Grey's Anatomy"?

About this bad. I can't tolerate the show, and I'm not even a doctor.

British MP George Galloway bitch slaps U.S. Senators.

Oh, man, this is just delightful. Can we hire him for Prime Minister? Does he play hockey?

IN ADDITION: See here for another article, plus a link to the full transcript.

: TBogg. 'Nuff said.

Media Matters all over Koran-a-palooza.

If you're trying to stay on top of this story, Media Matters is a good place to start, particularly with some of lesser-known details about author Michael Isikoff.

Oh, my ...

Canadian conservatives really are taking this whole Belinda Stronach thing badly. To which one can, I submit, appropriately respond:



Unbridled sanctimony, thy name is "Globe and Mail".

Dear Yanks:

No, you have no monopoly on really, really crappy journalism. This morning's Grope and Flail has a pathetic editorial, swallowing enthusiastically the GOP talking points about Newsweek's Koran "blunder" hook, line and sinker.

The first paragraph of that editorial (which is all you can get without paying for more, but which is more than enough to be depressed at the stupidity/dishonesty of the writers):

Newsweek's stumble

Newsweek magazine made an error with fatal consequences when it reported this month on the alleged desecration of the Koran, the Islamic holy book, by United States military interrogators. Anti-U.S. riots in Afghanistan linked to anger over the report have killed 17 people.

Uh huh. Ignore, of course, that accusations of Koran desecration by U.S. interrogators are fairly old news. And ignore, of course, that Pentagon spokesman and weasel Lawrence DiRita first disavowed any connection between the Koran-desecration claims and violent protests with:

"The nature of where these [protests] occurred, how quickly they occurred, the nature of individuals who were involved in it, suggest that they may be organized events that are using this alleged allegation as a pretext for activity that was already planned," said DiRita.

until he wised up and saw the delightful political value, at which point his tune changed completely:

Told of what the NEWSWEEK source said, DiRita exploded, "People are dead because of what this son of a bitch said. How could he be credible now?"

as you can read here and here.

Apparently, the Globe is now engaged with the National Post in a death-defying race to the bottom to see who can suck up to the Bush administration the fastest. And they're off ...

P.S. If crappy, dishonest editorials like this piss you off, hey, feel free to drop the Globe a note at letters@globeandmail.ca and let them know what you think.

P.P.S. Timmy the G has a good take on all of this here, as do, naturally, lots of other folks. But a small suggestion for Timmy: it's "Instawanker", not "Instahack".

James Carville and Mary Matalin: Canadian style. Sort of.

And, oh my, you can't swing a cat by the tail this morning without whapping into a story about how Belinda Stronach (Daddy's little, rich girl) walked out on the Conservative party to join the Liberals in their hour of need.

For you American readers, think Jim Jeffords, having been snubbed and denigrated just that one time too many and thinking, "Fuck it, I don't need this." If you want to know more, you can start here at the Mop and Pail, or pick a random Canuck blogger on the blogroll.

But there's an amusing sub-plot to this story as Stronach was, until the defection, quite publicly sucking face with Conservative Party deputy leader Peter MacKay. I'm pretty sure there's going to be some reeeeeeeally awkward pillow talk over the next few days. Ouch.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Um ... hang on , let me rephrase that ...

White House Press Weasel Scott McClellan, all excited because he finally gets to win one:

"The report had real consequences," White House press secretary Scott McClellan said Monday. "People have lost their lives. Our image abroad has been damaged. There are some who are opposed to the United States and what we stand for who have sought to exploit this allegation. It will take work to undo what can be undone."

McClellan said a retraction was only "a good first step" and said Newsweek should try to set the record straight by "clearly explaining what happened and how they got it wrong, particularly to the Muslim world, and pointing out the policies and practices of our military."

Oh ... you mean like these policies and practices? You're sure about that, are you?

Holden gives good gaggle.

It's always fun when Holden takes it to Li'l Scottie. Like here.

"I see ... straw people."

No, this post really isn't about rhetorical strawmen, but it was too good a title to ignore. Anyway, as we've already noted, Skeptico over here laid a savage pummeling on this piece of right-wing, creationist excrement by ClownHall denizen Brian McNicoll. And while McNicoll certainly deserved the beating he got from Skeptico, I'm thinking that, sometimes, being that comprehensive and thorough might almost be counter-productive (although, God knows, I can get that carried away, too).

The problem with debunking something as stunningly stupid as McNicoll's idiocy is that there's so much of it, it's hard to know where to start. And even if you point out the obvious nonsense of 80% of it, there's always the potential rebuttal of, "Oh, yeah? Well, what about this claim? You didn't address that, did you? I didn't think so."

In cases like this, it might be more effective to focus on a single claim in the piece, beat it bloody with an axe handle, then suggest that the rest of the article might be no better. And, if you can, demand that the author defend that single claim without waffling or trying to change the subject.

As an example, McNicoll, in an absurd rewriting of history, writes:

The Darwinists have a lawyer in the proceedings named Pedro Irigonegaray, and he cross-examined some opposing witnesses. But so far, the scientific community of Kansas and surrounding areas has refused to participate. This proceeding, they say, is beneath them because all issues regarding the origin of life are settled.

When I hear such talk, I can’t help but think of the distinguished members of the scientific community who killed George Washington by using leeches to cure him of what amounted to a bad case of the flu. Or the study that came out just this week saying that a procedure performed a million times a year in this country on women during childbirth not only doesn’t help them but makes things worse. Or the sad treatment of Galileo, a distinguished scientist who spent the last years of his life under what amounted to house arrest because he’d been convicted of heresy for asserting that the earth orbited the sun, rather than the other way around.

The obvious implication here is that Galileo was persecuted. not by the Church for speaking heresy but (and I'll bet this surprises the shit out of you historians) by fellow scientists, thereby proving what sort of ignorant wankers scientists can be and how you can't always trust them, even to this day.

A more gratuitous and laughable re-interpretation of history would be hard to imagine, given how things really happened:

Galileo was a practicing Catholic, yet his writings on Copernican heliocentrism disturbed some in the Catholic Church who believed in a geocentric model of the solar system. They argued that heliocentrism was in direct contradiction of the Bible, at least as interpreted by the church fathers, and the highly revered ancient writings of Aristotle and Plato (especially among the Dominican order, facilitators of the Inquisition).

Um ... yeah. As most of us recall, it was the Church who didn't take kindly to Galileo, not his fellow scientists -- a bit of a difference from what that putz McNicoll writes. So what to do about it?

If it were me (and, by George, it is me), I'd ask McNicoll to respond to precisely that claim of his. I'd ignore the rest of the ignorant swill in his article and ask him to specifically defend that charge against Galileo, and I'd ask him where he got that information in the first place.

(As a slight digression, this historical mangling is not new. Many years ago, it was prominent creationist Duane Gish who was making this absurd claim:

One of the most often-heard claims of the creationists is that scientists are engaged in a vast conspiracy to censor creation-science and prevent the scientific data uncovered by the creationists from being heard. As Duane Gish puts it, "Three or four centuries ago, the notion that the sun and other planets revolved around the earth was the dogma of the scientific establishment. Galileo faced determined opposition from fellow astronomers when he suggested otherwise. Louis Pasteur and others, about a century ago, overturned the established dogma of centuries when they showed that living things never arose spontaneously from dead matter. Today, even though thousands of scientists are creationists, and the number is growing rapidly, the notion of evolution remains a stifling dogma." (Transcript of debate between Gish and Dr Russell Doolittle, October 13, 1981, cited in Montagu, 1984, p. 20)

So I'd put all this in front of McNicoll and press him to address it. And I'd suggest that he has an intellectual obligation to either prove his case regarding Galileo, or publicly retract it. And I wouldn't let up until he did one or the other. And only when that issue was conclusively and irrevocably settled, and I had McNicoll's unambiguous retraction in writing, would I go on to another point.

It might feel good to savagely paste someone as dumb as McNicoll up one side and down the other (and I succumb to the same urges all the time) but, to be productive, I think one has to focus on one refutation at a time. So, to McNicoll, I'd say: I want to know where you got that story in the first place, and I want to see you substantiate it or retract it.

And, yes, I have a long memory and I'm not going anywhere.

One shouldn't let total imbeciles compile lists.

Over at Two Glasses, Toast takes exception to the Discovery Channel's list of 100 greatest Americans. All right, so, of the 100 greatest Americans, four of them happen to be named "Bush". What's your problem, Toast? And why do you hate America?

Canada: making more stupid scientific and political decisions.

Well, isn't this just the kind of news you like to wake up to in the morning:

Canada stands to lose a cutting-edge scientific project -- a massive and growing database of bio-molecular information for scientists around the world -- to Singapore after the Ontario government failed to renew the project's funding.

The Blueprint Initiative was launched in 2002 with nearly $20-million from the federal and provincial governments. But, three years later, the government funding to keep it going is nowhere to be found, says Christopher Hogue, who runs the project that is affiliated with Toronto's Mount Sinai Hospital.

Earlier this month, Dr. Hogue was forced to lay off more than half of his staff, letting 33 people go -- most of them highly sought-after scientists with masters and doctoral degrees -- as funding for the operation dwindled.

"The taxpayer paid for all these," Dr. Hogue said yesterday, pointing to stacks of extra computer monitors in a room now full of empty cubicles in his University Avenue offices.


Monday, May 16, 2005

And another creationist supporter gets pummelled mercilessly.

And the lesson here? "Better to keep your mouth closed and be thought a fool than to open it and remove any doubt."

"Wankers of the year."

I'm not sure it's possible to comment on this without having some sort of stroke out of sheer, jaw-dropping disbelief:

JOHN adds: I really think that calling Newsweek's blunder "the press's Abu Ghraib" is unfair to the low-lifes who carried out the Abu Ghraib abuses. After all, they didn't even hurt anyone, let alone kill them. And the people they abused were almost certainly terrorists.

Oops. Oops. Oops. PowerLine. Time's "Blog of the Year." Remember that.

Evolution and "direct observation": Be careful what you wish for.

(Episode 1 in the serial adventures of John Q. Creationist.)

Meet John Q. Creationist.

John's a moderately successful real estate broker in a medium-size town somewhere in the Midwest. Working in real estate generally keeps him pretty busy, being perpetually on-call, ready to show a house on short notice. John's also a staunch member of his local evangelical church and, to go along with that, he's got a hobby: John's a vocal and well-known supporter of creation science.

Whenever John can arrange it, you can generally find him at the regular public school board meetings, pressing for "equal time" for creationism or something similar. He also teaches a weekly Sunday school class in the subject, and is always ready to give a talk at any of the local high schools. Whenever the topic comes up, you can be sure there's going to be a letter from John to the editor of the local paper, taking a predictable swipe at evolution.

Truth be told, John doesn't actually know a lot of science. Most of the material in his presentations is gleaned from an extensive library of creationist books and pamphlets he's collected over the years, and he's got the routine down pat -- Flood geology, arguments from probability, why "balanced treatment" is a good thing, how evolution is just as much a "religion" as creation science and so on. But among all those creationist apologetics, he definitely has a favourite.

Out of all the arguments he uses, the one he enjoys the most is telling his listeners how science requires "direct observation." "If you can't directly observe it," John will say, "it can't be part of science. Even scientists admit that. So unless you have an eyewitness -- a personal eyewitness to the event -- it can't be part of science. And that's why evolution isn't really science, understand?" Given his typical audience, John is normally pretty popular and everyone loves his material but, even among his fans, there are the occasional reluctant skeptics who aren't quite sure.

"Um, sir," John hears the occasional senior high school student ask, "About this direct observation ... I mean, there's all these fossils and stuff. Doesn't that sort of count as proof? I mean, isn't that kind of evidence in a way?"

"Well," John will answer, in his well-rehearsed manner, "that's not the same thing. You see, if you want to call that evidence, you could only call that indirect evidence. It's there but, as I said, no one actually saw how it got there. Without actual eyewitnesses, without someone directly observing it, then it just isn't science, it's faith." At which point, the student will nod and slowly sit down, but perhaps with just a hint of hesitation, as if there's something about that explanation that bothers him, he just can't put his finger on it.

And John will take a few more questions, thank his audience, accept their applause and accolades and head out, feeling quite pleased with himself for another successful talk. But this time, it's going to be different. This time, John's life is about to get bent in an ugly new direction.

It's a Saturday night and John's just finished another creationist gig at the local community college. It's been a long day and he's just turning down the alley behind his house, driving up to his rear driveway, turning in and ... John notices immediately that his back door is open. That's odd -- he's pretty sure he locked it before he left.

As he pulls in completely, the awful truth becomes obvious. One of the lower window panes in the open door is smashed in. Before his car has even come to a full stop, John is out and running up the back walk, fearing the worst. And the worst is exactly what he finds.

As he pushes the door open further to enter the kitchen, he can see the damage. His microwave is missing. As is his cappuccino machine -- his new cappuccino machine that was on back-order for three months. His heart sinking by the second, John stumbles through the kitchen into the living room to find more of the same.

Stereo system: gone. His beautiful, new plasma screen TV: gone. As are all of his CDs and DVDs, camera equipment, ... all gone. Going from room to room, John can only resign himself to the obvious. He ends up in his bedroom and, in a state of shock, calls the police.

"Hello," he hears, "police department. Sergeant York speaking."

"Hi," mumbles John, "I'd like to report a burglary. My TV, my stereo, all kinds of stuff ... gone. Everything. Can you get someone out here right away?"

"Whoa, slow down," says the good sergeant, "back up a bit. How do you know you've been burglarized? Let's not jump to any conclusions here."

"Well," says John, collecting himself and feeling just a bit irked by the officer's tone of skepticism, "I just got home, the back door was open, the window pane was smashed, and lots of my stuff is missing! So can you send someone out? Maybe they can find some clues as to who did this."

"Well," says the sergeant off-handedly, "did anyone actually see this happen? I mean, do you have any actual eyewitnesses?"

"What?!", yells John. "What do you mean, did anyone actually see this? Of course not! I just got home, my door was smashed in and most of my stuff is gone! No, there were no witnesses! What the hell kind of question is that?!" bellows John in a decidedly un-Christian tone of voice.

"Now, calm down," says the sergeant, "it's like this. Used to be, when we got a call like this, we'd be right out, do stuff like take pictures, dust for fingerprints and all that; scientifically, you know. But -- and here's the funny thing -- turns out that's not science at all. Turns out that, unless you have an eyewitness -- you know, someone who actually saw all this happen -- it's not really science. So, sorry to say, we can't help you out there. I mean, we could come out and poke around but, it not being science and all, it wouldn't really do a whole lot of good."

"Are you serious?!?!" screams John into the phone. "That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard! There's piles of evidence all over the place! Hell, I'm standing in my bedroom and I can see a fingerprint on my dresser from here! Are you telling me there's nothing you can do with that?!"

"Well," says the sergeant, "sure, that's evidence. But seeing as no one actually saw how it got there, it's only what you'd call "indirect" evidence. So it doesn't really help."

"You're crazy!" John is now seriously losing it, and he can't believe he's having this conversation. "Where in God's name did you get these idiotic ideas?!"

"Oh, my son explained this whole science thing to me. Turns out that, a couple weeks ago, he went to see this local religion creationist guy at his church, and this guy was a right smart fellow -- explained how science works and that how, unless you have a direct witness observation and like that, well, it just isn't science anymore. Once I figured that out, heck, it sure eased up my workload. So, make a long story short, we'd like to help but, science being what it is and all, it would be kind of irresponsible to be passing judgement without any eyewitnesses. I hope you understand."

"I don't believe this," says John, slowly sinking back onto his bed in disbelief, staring at the mountain of "indirect" evidence surrounding him. "You can't be serious. I mean, how can you ...". But John is interrupted by the sound of a car revving suddenly in the alley, followed by a screeching of tires as its engine sound fades into the distance.

John drops the phone and races back downstairs, through the kitchen and out the back door, to find only an empty driveway. In his hurry, he'd completely forgotten to shut off his car and take out the key. Jesus Christ, thinks John, as he walks back into the house, can this get any worse? He picks up the kitchen phone.

"Well," says John, to the sergeant who is still waiting on the line, "I hope you're happy. While we were upstairs talking, someone stole my car. What are you going to do about that?"

"Darn, that's a shame," replies the sergeant. "I don't suppose you got any witnesses, do you?"

BONUS SNARK: You know, I'll just bet some of you are thinking, "Hey, that's not fair. You're deliberately making up dialogue that makes John Q. look like a complete idiot." No, I'm not. I don't have to:

... Now, with equal certainty, a similar group asserts that we can close the book on the subject of the origin of life, even though none of us was there and what’s observable now – or even during Darwin’s time – is only a small fraction of what’s been observable over the history of the earth.

Supporters of creation science already look like morons. They don't need my help.

P.S. And a perky Canadian "G'day, eh?" to new visitors from "Respectful Insolence" and "Skeptico" and "One Good Move", and, yes, I'll have to update my blogroll one of these days.

P.P.S. Oh, and the folks from Pharyngula, too. And, yes, I am making fun of your stupid people. Deal with it.

JEEZUS! I'm used to getting, like, 130 visits a day, not 1200+, fer cryin' out loud! And now that you've all read this piece, the fact that's it's getting a link from the next Tangled Bank is kind of anticlimatic, isn't it? I guess I better write episode two now. Sheesh.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

In hindsight, maybe just a wee bit off the mark.

April 23, 2003:

TED KOPPEL: All right, this is the first. I mean, when you talk about 1.7, you’re not suggesting that the rebuilding of Iraq is gonna be done for $1.7 billion?

: Well, in terms of the American taxpayers contribution, I do, this is it for the US. The rest of the rebuilding of Iraq will be done by other countries who have already made pledges, Britain, Germany, Norway, Japan, Canada, and Iraqi oil revenues, eventually in several years, when it’s up and running and there’s a new government that’s been democratically elected, will finish the job with their own revenues. They’re going to get in $20 billion a year in oil revenues. But the American part of this will be 1.7 billion. We have no plans for any further-on funding for this.

May 14, 2005:

A Senate committee approved a $441.6 billion defense bill for fiscal 2006 that envisions spending an additional $50 billion next year for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Any of you right-wing wankers feel like apologizing yet?

Breaking news! When the media covers ... uh, the media.

Recently, The Daily Show's Jon Stewart poked fun at CNN for their new segment "Inside the Blogs," on which ... oh, hell, just use your imagination -- people on CNN explaining what other people are writing about on their blogs.

Not surprisingly, the Columbia Journalism Review has an opinion on that, too.

So much for that Iraqi "democracy" thing.

Over at Steve Gilliard's blog, we have Steve commenting on a recent NY Times piece, where the Times article opens with:

WASHINGTON, May 14 - The Bush administration, struggling to cope with a recent intensification of insurgent violence in Iraq, has received signals from some radical Sunni Arab leaders that they would abandon fighting if the new Shiite majority government gave Sunnis a significant voice in the country's political evolution, administration officials said this week.

Um ... huh? And just how does one, in this budding democracy, "give" more political power to another group? I thought that's what that recent vaunted election was all about -- letting the people decide who was going to be in charge. Apparently not.

Despite all the preening, self-congratulatory egotism from the right about the tremendous success of the purple-finger election, it seems that nothing's changed -- those in charge are just going to divvy up power the way they see fit.

What a shocking development. Who on earth would have seen this coming?

Juat another random link for no good reason whatsoever.

Following a link from this piece, we come to this. I'm too lazy to provide any commentary.

AFTERTHOUGHT: OK, one short comment -- that Harlan Ellison is one of my all-time favourite authors, and his short story "I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream," is nothing short of a must-read. And now I'm done. Really.

Then ... and now.

May 2, 2003:

President Bush made a landing aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln Thursday, arriving in the co-pilot's seat of a Navy S-3B Viking after making two fly-bys of the carrier...

Moments after the landing, the president, wearing a green flight suit and holding a white helmet, got off the plane, saluted those on the flight deck and shook hands with them. Above him, the tower was adorned with a big sign that read, "Mission Accomplished."

May 15, 2005:

The United States military said it had killed 125 insurgents as it ended its offensive in western Iraq on Saturday, but guerrillas struck again in Baghdad, assassinating a senior official and attacking police patrols...

The military said 9 of its troops had been killed and 40 wounded in the operation. Four died in an amphibious vehicle that hit an explosive device on Wednesday, the military said.

Guerrillas, mostly from Anbar Province in central Iraq, have stepped up suicide bombings and other attacks since Iraq announced a new government on April 28, killing more than 400 people, including security forces, officials and civilians.

In Baghdad, Jassim al-Muhammadawy, director general of administration in the Foreign Ministry, was shot outside his home.

The police said three soldiers were killed in clashes in the Aamiriya district of Baghdad.

A suicide car bomber blew himself up next to an Iraqi police patrol in central Baghdad, killing at least four people, police sources said.

Apparently, accomplishing a mission is ... well, it's hard work.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Weasel Boy, upholding the conservative standard of lying his face off.

Dum de dum ... another week, perhaps time to check in on Weasel Boy and see what he's lying about this week. Ooooh ... what's this? According to Weasel Boy, the Boy Scouts of America are not a religious group. Apparently, the article that made this pernicious claim was "extremely misleading and factually-deficient", while a rebuttal letter was, of course, "intelligent, well-informed and just plain awesome."

Oh, yawn.

Lesson number one: do not lie this blatantly when everyone else has access to Google. Really. Just don't. It only shows people how stupid and/or dishonest you are.

Now, if someone were to ask you if the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) were a religious group or not, how would you figure out the answer? Well, out of the numerous possibilities, I'm thinking that perhaps the most useful strategy would be to just fucking ask them. Whaddya think? Wouldn't it make sense that, of all the people you might interview, it's almost a sure bet that the most reliable source you could find on the religious beliefs of the BSA would be the people from the BSA, no? How difficult could this be to understand?

So, investing literally seconds of research time, we find the BSA's own "Declaration of Religious Principles", which reads as follows (select number two at that page, "Manual for Chaplain Aides and Chaplains"):

The Boy Scouts of America maintains that no member can grow into the best kind of citizen without recognizing an obligation to God and, therefore, recognizes the religious element in the training of the member, but it is absolutely nonsectarian in its attitude toward that religious training. Its policy is that the home and organization or group with which a member is connected shall give definite attention to religious life. Only persons willing to subscribe to this Declaration of Religious Principle and to the Bylaws of the Boy Scouts of America shall be entitled to certificates of membership.

Now, I realize that the above declaration can be tricky to interpret and contains devious subtleties, so I've highlighted the salient passages to help you out because, well, that's just the kind of guy I am.

And just in case you think this is simply abstract, theoretical jargon that no one really takes seriously, rest assured that the BSA takes this declaration very seriously indeed, as demonstrated here:

In 1970, BSA issued a new policy: "The recognition of God as the ruling and leading power in the universe and the grateful acknowledgment of His favors and blessings are necessary to the best type of citizenship . . ." In 1973, a 10 year old was expelled for crossing out "God" from the Cub Scout promise. In 1977, BSA added a definition of God as "Supreme Being" in its literature. In 1985, Paul Trout, 15, of West Virginia, was denied promotion to "Life Scout" because he was not religious. Only after a national uproar did an embarrassed BSA give him his promotion.

And here:

Here are only a few that where kicked out or denied membership because they are non-theists:

Clifford Grambo, 13 year-old scout kicked out after six years when his Scoutmaster found out about his atheism.

Paul Trout, 15 year-old scout kicked out (later reversed) over his religious beliefs.

Brad Seabourn, Scout leader and father of 15 year-old scout kicked out for his atheism.

Benjamin and John Scalise, 9-year-old boy and his father barred from Cub Scouting for refusing to avow a belief in God.

Michael and William Randall, Attorney James Grafton won a court case after his nonreligious twin sons were evicted from an Orange County, California troop.

Mark Welsh, the Boy Scouts excluded 7 year old Mark from Tiger Cubs because his family is not religious.

And yet, hard to believe as it may be, we have Weasel Boy, briefly checking in from somewhere in the heart of The Real Jesusland, writing:

Earlier this month, Kent Willis, head of the Virginia ACLU, wrote an extremely misleading and factually-deficient opinion piece claiming that the Boy Scouts were a "religious group." Thankfully, someone in the know set him straight.

Yeah. Thankfully. I mean, why let actual facts get in the way of a good fairy tale?