Sunday, July 31, 2005

"I'm sorry ... what exactly do you mean by 'Get out.'"?

And while we wait to see what happens when the folks running Iraq finally tell the U.S. to pack up its troubles and hit the road, we can at least see how well the U.S. takes this sort of suggestion elsewhere [emphasis added]:

Uzbekistan has told the United States to leave a military base that has served as a hub for missions to Afghanistan since shortly after the September 11, 2001, attacks, U.S. officials said on Saturday...

"I can confirm that our embassy in Tashkent received a diplomatic note from the Uzbek government late this week to terminate the agreement for use of the K2 air field," said State Department spokeswoman Nancy Beck.

"This is a bilateral agreement between two sovereign nations and under that agreement either side has the option to terminate the agreement," she said without elaborating.

Uzbekistan will give the United States six months to move aircraft, personnel and equipment, The Washington Post newspaper reported. The Pentagon and State Department declined to comment on any timeline.

And the best part:

The U.S. military is working with the State Department to evaluate the note "to see exactly what it means," Defense Department spokesman Glenn Flood said.

I'm sorry ... what part of "Get the fuck out and take your shit with you" seems ambiguous?

OOOOOH ... THERE'S MORE: Courtesy of the Washington Post who, occasionally, still knows how to report news but almost always regrets it immediately afterwards, we have Sec Def Donald Rumsfeld's reaction to the eviction:

"We always think ahead. We'll be fine," Rumsfeld said Sunday when asked how the United States would cope with losing the base in Uzbekistan.

Yeah, that could be this administration's motto, couldn't it: "The Bush White House -- always thinking ahead." I'm betting it's that laudable foresight that explains the last couple of paragraphs of that same article:

After the latest setback in relations, the Bush administration is going to "wait for a cooling-off period," the administration official said. "We are assuming they mean it and want us out. We are now not sending someone to Uzbekistan."

The next test will be whether to withhold as much as $22 million in aid to Uzbekistan if it does not comply with provisions on political and economic reforms it committed to undertake in a 2002 strategic partnership agreement with Washington. Last year, the administration withheld almost $11 million. U.S. officials expect the Uzbek government will again be ineligible for funds.

Now there's a good idea -- punish Uzbekistan financially for their decision. That'll certainly teach those swarthy foreigners a lesson. And it's not like there isn't some other large foreign power (*cough* China *cough*) who might be willing to step in and pony up that pittance in exchange for, oh, I don't know, military access to Uzbekistan's airfields or anything.

The Bush administration. Always looking ahead. You read it here first.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

The hypocrisy is simply overwhelming.

Normally these days, I wouldn't just point readers over to Eschaton but, really, this is just too freakin' precious to ignore. Atrios posts this excerpt from an interview with Ohio Republican Congressional Candidate Jean Schmidt, who has something quite remarkable to say about her opponent, Democrat and Iraq military veteran Paul Hackett:

[Interviewer] NOVOTNY: His opponent, Republican frontrunner Jean Schmidt, a former state representative who is not convinced that time served in battle can compare to experience at home.

JEAN SCHMIDT, OHIO REPUBLICAN CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: Everything’s local. Of course, it’s more important here. The issues that the people have are more important to those individuals than anything outside of that region.

Yes, this is apparently the new Republican talking point. Having answered the call to enlist and risk their lives by serving overseas, these veterans (well, OK, just the Democratic ones) can now have their military service denigrated as not being as important as having stayed home.

Rejoice, members of the 101st Fighting Keyboarders! Apparently, you were the real patriots all along. Who knew?

It's math puzzle time again.

Good Lord, it seems like forever since we've had a math-type puzzle so, without further ado: Given two points selected entirely at random on a stick, if you break the stick at those two points, what are the odds that the resulting three pieces can form a triangle?

Solutions accepted starting Saturday at noon. Until then, keep it to yourself.

OPEN FOR SOLUTIONS. Once you solve this one, we'll move on to the next one.

: The correct answer is 1/4, and the best way to figure this out is to solve the problem in two stages.

Say the stick is 1 "unit" long. First, it should be obvious that you can build a triangle iff (if and only if) none of the resulting three pieces is longer than .5 units. And the only way that can happen is if the two randomly-selected points lie on opposite sides of centre, and the chance of that is 1/2. So far, so good? But, of course, that's not enough. (This first observation means that you can at least claim that the probability is no better than 1/2.)

In addition to both points lying on opposite sides of centre, it should be obvious that they can't be further apart than .5 units as well. If your randomly-selected points were, say, .1 and .9, it's clear you'd be hosed. So this means you have to further calculate the odds that the two points are within .5 of each other.

Effectively, this is solving a new, second problem. The first problem was, what are the odds that the points are on opposite sides of centre? And we've already solved that: 1/2.

The second problem: Given that the points are already on opposite sides, what are the odds that they're within .5 of each other? Turns out, that's also 1/2. (That second part is left as an exercise for the reader, but Jeff in the comments section does a pretty good job of explaining it.)

Ergo, the final probability is the product of those two values: 1/2 x 1/2 = 1/4.

(The ambitious might want to read more here.)

"Yes, Mr. Bolton, and another chair for your ego?"

One of my favourite parts of this whole seedy saga, from back on July 13:

Two months ago, while his confirmation was in trouble, Bolton began efforts to double the office space reserved within the State Department for the ambassador to the United Nations, according to three senior department officials who were involved in handling the request.

This sounds vaguely familiar ... where have I read about this before ... oh, right.

Why do they hate us?

Ya know, there's just no pleasing some people.

What the f...?

Uh ... I have no idea what to make of this.

Great minds think alike ...

... or is it, fools seldom differ? I always get those two mixed up.

Anyway, it appears Hunter over at DailyKos has the same opinion of soon-to-be-lame-duck U.N. ambassador John Bolton that I do:

Mostly, however, he's going to be ineffective -- and I expect given the visibility of the post, comically so. No, I'm not thinking Bolton is going to start any wars, any more than I think he's going to "reform" the ambassadors around him. There's not like there's any goodwill among the international community left to squander, so he can expect to be treated, by both friend and foe, with lazily shaded revulsion. They've been following the stories closer than any of us have. They know what they're getting. And, to be honest, John Bolton fits the studious non-diplomacy of George W. Bush like a furry glove. Short of nominating a horse wearing diapers to be his next U.N. Ambassador, I'm not sure how Bush could make his contempt for the international community any more clear.

Geez, two completely different bloggers who think John Bolton is going to be a completely ineffectual, loathsome prat. What are the odds of that?

What a difference 1,791 deaths make.

And wasn't it just yesterday when they hated us simply because of our "freedoms" and "way of life" and seemingly inexhaustible supply of McHappy McMeals and Paris Hilton videos, and when even the mildest suggestion of perhaps, just perhaps, trying to understand the "root causes" of terrorism would get one branded as an unpatriotic, America-hating troublemaker when, damn it, all we needed to know was that they were unthinking, murderous, religious fundamentalist vermin that had to be exterminated, and isn't it odd then that, just recently, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Richard Myers suggested that perhaps, just perhaps, the solution to the newly-rebranded Global Struggle Against Extremism might be "more diplomatic, more economic, more political than it is military" and the Bush administration is now suggesting that perhaps, just perhaps, the effort might be more than just military, which sure sounds like addressing the "root causes" somewhere along the way, but as long as you don't actually use those exact words, maybe it's all right.

: Well, yeah, if I had more talent, I could have explained it this well, too:

... Now that Bush is a safe distance from reelection, however, it is Gen. Myers who’s unleashed to confess the problem’s solution is “more diplomatic, more economic, more political than it is military.”

That could have come right off the pages of John Kerry’s campaign talking points. In fact, it did.

As early as late 2003 Kerry said as president he would launch “a major initiative in public diplomacy” to lead “the next generation of Islamic youth” toward democracy, work to overcome anti-American sentiment in the Middle East, block financial resources for terrorists and rebuild international alliances.

To this wide-ranging proposal that it now parrots, the Bush administration then responded that Kerry was "misguided [and] hypocritical

If you're a Republican, it must be just awesome to have a mainstream media with such a short memory.

How screwed up is the U.S. right now?

About this much.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Oh, shit ... he's baaaaaaaack.

Jesus, just when you thought it was safe to go back into the gene pool ... it's Weasel Boy himself. No, not here, but over here. Poor Antonia, I'm sure she has no idea of the intellectual miasma that has just descended on her blog.

Ah, but pardon my rudeness. For those of you who are new here and haven't made WB's acquaintance before, you won't find a better introduction than this. Trust me.

And, above all, don't make eye contact or start a dialogue. Been there, done that. Any debate with WB generally goes something like this.

The John Bolton smackdown!

Oh, man, this is some serious dick slapping.

UPDATE: Bloody hell.

Open thread.

Because the world needs more open thread.

"Make a dick of myself? What do you mean?"

Sometimes you can only lean back and wonder what the &@$%*&^*#* they were thinking. Like here, where bow-tied, right-wing doofus Tucker Carlson is going to, starting in August on MSNBC, host his own show -- a show that, because of its time slot, will compete head-to-head with (wait for it ... wait for it ... here it comes ...) Jon Stewart.

Words fail me. Really.

SLIGHT OOPSIE: Upon more careful reading, Carlson's show on MSNBC won't be starting in August, it will simply be moving from its current slot to the "Let Jon Stewart Kick me in the Nads" 11 p.m. slot.

I'm assuming the end result will be the same.

The John Bolton update.

Lord Almighty, is there anything these people won't lie about?

: Apparently not.

Oh, Jesus.

I swear, some mornings it's just not worth chewing through the leather straps.

Oh, you meant THAT inspector general.

John Bolton: Lying motherfucker. (Pilfered shamelessly from TBogg.)

: You know, it occurs to me, after the weeks of digging around in Bolton's past to demonstrate what sort of drooling, mouth-breathing, amoral, dishonest bully he is, the best strategy on the part of the Democrats might be to just rip him to pieces every which way, then vote to confirm him.

No, wait, come back, hear me out.

Think about it. First, it's not as if whether it's Bolton or not is going to make any difference in the end when it comes to voting at the U.N., is it? Any Bush appointee is going to be taking orders from Commander Chimpy anyway so the votes are going to be exactly the same, regardless of who's pushing the button, or pulling the lever or whatever the hell they do over there.

But Bolton, being the total jackass he is, is guaranteed to piss off pretty much everyone he meets, to the point where people just won't want anything to do with him. I'm sure he won't get invited to parties and when the time comes when the U.S. actually needs some international co-operation and support, all those other countries are suddenly going to have scheduling conflicts or something.

No, I think the Dems should finish the official hearings, rip Bolton a new orifice or two, then vote to confirm. After which they should summarize the kind of worthless thug Bolton is in writing, and arrange for that document to magically find its way into the hands of every other country's representative at the U.N., just so those folks can steel themselves for the piece of human excrement that's about to show up on their doorstep.

BONUS TRACK: Fun with Google.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Kicking the U.S. out of Iraq -- whose job is that?

Over at the New York Times (New motto: "Sucking up to the right-wing since 2000."), Bob Herbert has a depressing column on the boondoggle that is Operation "Stupid Republican Iraqi Quagmire". I'm particularly entertained by this passage:

The point here is that the invasion of Iraq was part of a much larger, long-term policy that had to do with the U.S. imposing its will, militarily when necessary, throughout the Middle East and beyond. The war has gone badly, and the viciousness of the Iraq insurgency has put the torch to the idea of further pre-emptive adventures by the Bush administration.

But dreams of empire die hard. American G.I.'s are dug into Iraq, and the bases have been built for a long stay. [Emphasis added.]

Now, I've asked this before and I'm going ask it again: given the preening smugness with which the Bush administration keeps yapping on about Iraq's "democracy" and "sovereignty," at what point will Iraq be sovereign "enough" to finally tell the U.S. to get the hell out? At what point will Iraq be, finally, officially sovereign so that they have full control over their own country and can decide for themselves who stays and who goes? That question is weighty enough but let's not stop there.

Let's say the new Iraqi leadership tells the Americans to pack up their tents and hit the road, and the Americans say, "Well, I don't think so. We've got all these bases we've built and, you know, we figure we'll be staying a while." Then what?

Well, here's a wild idea -- why doesn't Iraq approach the United Nations for military assistance to oust the U.S.? What's that, you say? Ridiculous, you say? But why not?

When Iraq invaded Kuwait, it sure didn't take long to put together an international coalition to kick the Iraqi invaders all the way back to Baghdad, did it? Remember all these folks? I thought you might.

So what's the difference? In both cases, you have a sovereign Middle Eastern country under occupation by foreign troops. Why shouldn't Iraq have the right to go the United Nations and say, "Excuse us, but we're currently being occupied by a foreign invading force. Could you please put together an international coalition to kick the shit out of them so we can have our country back? Thanks ever so much, here's a number where you can reach us when you're ready."

Of course, I know it would never happen. But it's just fun to think about.

BY THE WAY: The Iraqi leadership wanting to give the Americans the boot isn't just abstract hallucinating on my part -- it's real:

Iraq's prime minister said Wednesday he wants U.S. troops "on their way out" as soon as his government can protect its new democracy...

Al-Jaafari, speaking at a joint news conference with Rumsfeld, said, "The great desire of the Iraqi people is to see the coalition forces on their way out."

Oh, yeah, the confrontation is coming. Count on it.

The Valerie Plame affair: a weird, new perspective.

For those who like conspiracy theories, here's an interesting new take on l'affaire Plame. I'm not saying I believe it, but it sure makes for entertaining reading, don't it?

AND THERE'S MORE: Man, Ms. H. is all over this one, isn't she?

How to get to the bottom of this CIA agent thingy.

Oh, my, life is getting more interesting regarding the outing of the covert CIA operative with this New York Times article, in which we apparently now have a third administration official who mentioned Valerie Plame's name and undercover status to a reporter:

Mr. Pincus has not identified his source to the public. But a review of Mr. Pincus's own accounts and those of other people with detailed knowledge of the case strongly suggest that his source was neither Karl Rove, Mr. Bush's top political adviser, nor I. Lewis Libby, the chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, and was in fact a third administration official whose identity has not yet been publicly disclosed.

OK, so there's our apparent third person. And how hard will it be to figure out who this is?

Mr. Pincus has said he will not identify his source until the source does so.

Whoa ... now that's a useful piece of information since it means that all that source has to do is waive confidentiality. And what are the chances of that? Theoretically, you'd think it would be pretty good given President George W. Chimpster's previous statements that:

  • No one wants to get to the bottom of this more than he does.
  • He's asked everyone in his administration to co-operate fully with the investigation.
Under the circumstances, then, it shouldn't be unreasonable to suggest that Chimpy order all his staff to waive confidentiality en masse. Then we'd get to the bottom of things, wouldn't we?

Of course, if George refused to give such an order, well, that would be kind of curious, wouldn't it?

Well, that didn't last long.

On the blogroll Monday, off of it as of today. Apparently, I'm just not everyone's cup of tea. Such is life in the blogosphere.

"What do you mean ... THAT computer?"

There's a clever Dilbert cartoon in which Dilbert's one-time girlfriend Liz, watching him working at his home desktop computer, says to him, "You love that computer more than you love me." To which Dilbert replies adamantly as Liz walks away, "No, I do not love this computer more than I love you," while you can see the thought bubble above Dilbert's head: "Don't ask about the laptop ... don't ask about the laptop ..." Pregnant pause, then a disembodied voice coming in from off-panel, "What do you mean ... that computer?"

We all, of course, know just what happened here: Dilbert tried to salvage the situation by parsing Liz's question as carefully and selectively as possible and hoping she didn't notice. It's sort of like pounding the table and insisting, "I did not have sexual relations with that woman!", while thinking, "Please, oh, please, please, please, don't ask about blowjobs." And, mostly, it's sort of like criticizing people for talking about detainee abuse at Gitmo when, hey, we all know that that all really happened at Abu Ghraib instead.

As you can read at the link above, one Jeff Goldstein waxes apoplectic about how the left is really responsible for the deaths by a suicide bomber because that bomber expressed the "need for violent retaliation over US abuse of Muslim prisoners in Guantanamo Bay" when, geez, all that bad stuff really happened at Abu Ghraib and there was (according to Goldstein) no evidence of any of that happening at Gitmo because, hey, David Horowitz' web site said so, but that didn't stop all those lefties from saying it did so it's all the left's fault and (thought bubble time), by the way, it's a good thing that suicide bomber said "Guantanamo Bay" instead of "Abu Ghraib" 'cuz if he'd said "Abu Ghraib", well, we'd all be totally fucked in terms of a rhetorical comeback but, as it is, we can carry on as smugly and condescendingly as usual and yammer on very explicitly and selectively only about "Guantanamo Bay" and hope no one notices.

It's quite the sight, isn't it? After all this time, it appears that the lifelong dream of the ideological right is to be Bill Clinton.

Is that irony or what?

Tom DeLay: Setting a whole new standard for corruption.

Oh, man ... this takes some chutzpah.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Your random recommendation to go elsewhere.

And this one would be for the ladies.

The bundle of contradictions that is Kate McMillan.

Following a link from a comment in a previous post, we have this revealing interview with our good buddy Kate, with the following excerpts (emphasis added):

What do you consider the most important personal quality? Respect for truth - without it, all other qualities or talents are corruptible.

What would be your main blogging advice to a novice blogger? I actually host a Carnival of the Newbies from time to time, and as part of the last one, several bloggers offered their tips. This was mine: Push the envelope, even if it means being wrong from time to time.

Maybe it's just me, but I'm pretty sure you can't believe both of those things at the same time.

Hypothetical? Yeah, I got yer hypothetical right here, buddy.

No, I'm not anal retentive. I prefer to think of myself as cleverly pedantic. Deal with it.

Over at Accidental Deliberations, we have a piece describing the possible, "Maybe we are and maybe we aren't" withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. I'm particularly amused by this excerpt (emphasis added):

General George Casey, the top American commander in Iraq, said he believed a U.S. troop withdrawal could begin by spring 2006 if progress continues on the political front and if the insurgency does not expand.

I'm sorry ... "if"? "If"???? Good Lord, man -- what we have here is the dreaded hypothetical statement, don't we? The very thing that White House Press Scrotum Scott McClellan absolutely refuses to indulge since, well, hypotheticals involve speculation and if there's one thing Scott will not abide, it's speculation.

Of course, speculation seems to be perfectly acceptable when the situation calls for it, as you can read above, but all I can imagine now is someone at a subsequent WH press gaggle simply rewording that quote and asking Scott:

"Scott, if progress continues on the political front and if the insurgency does not expand, do you believe a U.S. troop withdrawal could begin by spring of 2006?"

And, despite General Casey's quote, you know, you absolutely know, that Scottie would reply, "Well, that's a hypothetical and, as you know, I don't want to get into hypotheticals."

It's not like McClellan even stops to consider the question. It's just a knee-jerk reaction on his part: "if" -> "hypothetical" -> "nope, moving on". And, sadly, with the WH Press Corpse's behaviour these days, it's pretty much what they deserve.

"Misson accomplished!" What, again?

Ooooh, what delightful timing. From this piece over at Section 15, we learn that the Bushista administration is casually dropping the whole "War on Terror" shtick, replacing it with the more pastel "global struggle against violent extremism" or some similar variation. But hold on there.

As I so presciently wrote back here (oh, man, I so love it when I see it coming), once a "war" is officially over, the Geneva Conventions make it clear:

Prisoners of war shall be released and repatriated without delay after the cessation of active hostilities.

So, is the "war" over or not? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

The dangers of the business.


Bye, bye, Rachel, and setting the record straight.

Oh, my, what a difference a night makes, as I wake up this morning to learn that la Marsden is not a Postie anymore. So much for the "Rachel Marsden Watch". I guess I'll have to find someone else to pick on. Who could it be? Who could it possibly be? No.

However, as much as I adore Mme. Z, I am going to have to take issue with what she wrote both in her own comments section and here, where she writes:

If you follow his links, you'll see that Canadian Cynic implies that Marsden claims a column that never appeared in the Post did appear in the Post.

No, I didn't.

If you read my piece, you'll notice that I am obviously speculating wildly about what I thought was simply a rather odd incident. I never accused Marsden of deliberate deception. Rather, I described what I found as "curious," openly asked whether it might have been an "oversight," and even that "I could be completely off-base". I'm not sure how much clearer I could have been that I was just thinking out loud so it's a little grating for Mme. Z to write it up the way she did.

I mean, given that I explicitly admit that "maybe I'm reading too much into this," it seems a little gratuitous for Ms. Zerbisias to write "So Cynic, I think you're pushing it too far here." Um, yeah, I think I had already left open that possibility, if you know what I mean. However, let's tie up some loose ends here, shall we?

I still think Rachel sweetie was playing a bit fast and loose when she snuck that column into her list of publications here. Given that she started her association with the Post on June 1 to great fanfare, and that her columns were, after a few days delay, reproduced at her site, in dated chronological order, there's something just a little slippery about, after establishing a clear pattern, suddenly changing it without warning.

Of course, Marsden has every right to do what she wants at her web site. That's not the point. The point is, once readers get used to a certain ritual, it's a little underhanded to quietly change what's happening underneath with no notice. But, truth be told, I really wish I'd finished my thought at the time because, when I spotted this, my first reaction was, "Uh oh, this is the beginning of the end."

As I've already written, the column in question was just so racist and vile, I couldn't believe any paper (even the Post) would have printed it, and that's the only reason I looked a little closer.

Once I noticed the lack of Post publication date trailer, my immediate reaction was, she's on her way out. Once again, speculating wildly, I'm guessing that the Post folks were never overly comfortable with Marsden but, hey, they hired her and they were going to stick with her.

Until that column.

At which point, I'm imagining Rachel's higher-ups at the paper finally just gagging, handing it back and saying, "No." Followed by a discussion during which both parties agreed that maybe this just wasn't working out, sorry, but lots of luck in your future endeavours.

Wild speculation? Sure. Except that I wasn't the only one thinking thoughts like that -- see Matthew's similar thoughts here. And then I wake up to read that Marsden's cleared out her desk. Yeah, it all sort of fits now, doesn't it?

Remember, you read the totally unfounded, wild, talking-out-of-my-ass speculation here first.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Open thread.

Because it is so your turn, don't you think?

Glass houses and stones -- part deux.

Oh, my ... apparently, Kate still has her knickers in a knot, as you can read here (scroll about 2/3 of the way down the page to where the fun begins.) In order to truly appreciate the depth of Kate's petulance and hypocrisy, feel free to take a few minutes and read what started the whole thing. Take your time, I'll wait. Really. Dum de dum dum ... OK, to business, one annoying Kate excerpt at a time.

... an anonymous left wing blogger who has published a link to my contact info and home address in a post ...

Kate, honey, sweetie ... your contact info is splashed all over the web here. See? All that stuff under the 36-point header "Contact Kate". It's not like I published, say, your private cell number (as rumour has it you did to Belinda Stronach), or outed you from anonymity. Methinks you doth protest too much. Onward.

... a post that states I "don't like Muslims" ...

That's a subjective evaluation, of course, based on the obvious hilarity you find in the mistreatment of the detainees in Gitmo, to which I linked. Anyone reading my post had the same freedom to draw their own conclusions and decide, if they wished, that I was full of shit. Their choice.

For someone who is pretty much a one-person hate factory, Kate, you're awfully sensitive about criticism. You might want to consider a different career, one in which you don't so thoroughly piss off so many people. But I digress.

And finally:

... counsels others to do me harm ...

Really? I did that? Where? Assuming you're referring to my suggestion that anyone who wanted to do anything about "it" look you up, I could just as easily have been talking about, say, giving you a stern talking to, or papering your front hedge or something.

You do read a lot into stuff, don't you? I mean, it's not like I explicity encouraged violence (which, again, rumour has you did against some CBC reporter). Really, Kate. For someone so accomplished at dishing out abuse, you're awfully thin-skinned.

If some readers think I crossed the line, so be it. If they want to bitch and whine about it, hey, it's a free country and my comments section is open. But a word of warning -- I can put up with a lot of crap, but the one thing I'm not going to put up with is a lesson in civility from Kate McMillan.

P.S.: In a comment slightly further down at that first link above, Kate makes a sweeping generalization about left wing blogs "pushing the envelope way beyond criticism and namecalling." Namecalling? Does that include stuff like, say, linking to doctored, insulting photos of others?

Just trying to clarify the ground rules here.

Are you sure you want to use THAT argument?

From over at Washington Monthly:

In a sharply critical ruling, a Nebraska federal district judge said Union Pacific Corp. illegally discriminated against female employees by barring prescription contraceptive coverage from its health plans — even as it underwrote the cost of Viagra and drugs for male-pattern baldness.

....In its briefs, the railroad justified its decision to exclude birth control coverage by arguing that "because fertility is 'normal,' contraception is not 'medically necessary.'"

So ... the railroad's basis for coverage is whether or not a particular condition is "normal"? Maybe it's just me but, the last time I looked, a 4-hour woody was anything but normal.

Well, OK, I just have to be in the mood.

Glass houses, throwing stones and all that.

Back here, in addition to a delightful evisceration of Rachel Marsden, we had the added bonus of a good, hard smackdown of right-wing harpy Debbie Schlussel, who is the consummate poster child for the miracle of makeup.

For reasons known only to Schlussel and her therapist, poor Debbie seems positively fixated on lesbianism, writing:

Take a look at the raven-haired, petite Patrick with her long tresses. Then, look at the 7’2” Margo Dydek of Connecticut’s WNBA team—if you dare. Which one would guys rather date? Which one would most young girls rather be like when they grow up?

Hint: They aren’t making a scale version of Dydek Barbie anytime soon. Dyslexic young girls might unscramble the letters of her surname and get the right idea of what the WNBA is really about.

Now, here's the thing. Without the several pounds of spackle and grout, here's what Schlussel actually looks like (she's the one who's not Sean Hannity). And, here's a pic of Dydek.

The defense rests.

Just another reason to hate Wal-Mart.

You go, girl.

Oh, I like this idea.

An exciting new development in the War on Terror:

In an interview, Douglas J. Feith, the under secretary of defense for policy, said that discussions had begun on a program to seek commitments from bankers, lawyers, doctors, engineers, electricians, plumbers and solid-waste disposal experts to deploy to conflict zones for months at a time on reconstruction assignments, to relieve pressure on the military.

All in favour of sending the lawyers to Iraq? Yeah, I figured as much.

Those sneaky, sneaky terrorists.

Good Lord, I never realized how devilishly dishonest those terrorists were. According to one Lorne Gunter:

Seems al Qaeda took a page directly from the old Soviet play book for seized spies: When detained, insist you've been tortured. Then you'll get the world's media and NGOs on your side.

And to think that, all this time, I'd been feeling sorry for this guy. I feel so ... so ... used.

OK, now bend over and spread 'em ...

Oh oh.

The next time you visit the website of Microsoft Corp. to download some software, be prepared to let the world's biggest software company have a look inside your computer.

In a determined strike to quell the proliferation of counterfeit software, beginning today, Microsoft will require that all customers coming to its website for upgrades and other downloads submit their computers to an electronic frisking.

Now y'all understand why I run Linux.

Open thread.

Play nice. Don't make me stop this car and come back there.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Uh oh ...

Someone has their panties in a bunch. I'm thinking that, if you make fun of the inhumane treatment and torture of Muslims, then post your bio all over the Internets, well, gosh, you should be prepared for the fallout. What do conservatives call that? Oh, yeah. Taking "personal responsibility."

: Apparently, the fallout is now falling in, as your humble scribe is now being accused of ... what, exactly? Outing the infamous Kate McMillan by, as one commenter puts it, "giving out her contact info."

Why, yes, by God, that was devilishly clever of me -- linking to her publicly available home page and blog posts. My word, but I am an evil genius. Behold me and tremble! I am Galactus!

No, wait, scratch that. Wrong fantasy. Sorry.

Rachel Marsden pulls a fast one?

No, I'm not going to eviscerate this piece by la Marsden for the mouth-breathing, hate-filled screed that it is. If you're not suitably offended by it, well, you are so reading the wrong blog. No, that's not what's so curious. Given how thoroughly vile this piece is, I was a bit surprised that it would have made it into print (even in the National Post). Or did it?

Marsden apparently reproduces her Post pieces here (an interesting arrangement) and, starting with her June 1 Post debut ("Don't Call Guantanamo a Gulag"), you can see the apparent dates of Post publication. For each and every one of those pieces, you can scroll to the bottom where you will read something like:


Except for the aforementioned piece. Scroll to the bottom -- no publication date. No copyright notice.

An oversight? Perhaps. I don't have that edition of the Post in front of me, and their web site makes it devilishly hard to track down her previous columns. So maybe I'm reading too much into this.

On the other hand, if that column never made it into print, then Marsden seems to have snuck something over on her readers -- sliding a non-published column into the midst of her published work, perhaps to give it a little more, shall we say, gravitas? I could be completely off-base here, so I'm sure a reader with way too much free time will set the record straight, one way or the other.

AND WHILE I'M HERE ... It's also curious that Marsden isn't listed as a Post columnist here. Everyone else seems to be. How odd.

And for my American readers who are sitting there thinking, "Who the fuck is Rachel Marsden?", well, I can't think of a better intro than this. Enjoy.

Canadian waterheads on parade: the Rondi Adamson edition.

Courtesy of Mme. Z, I've just today discovered the eye-opening wingnuttery of one Rondi Adamson. It's hard to believe anyone could actually make Rachel Marsden seem sane but, what the hell, there you have it.

From a May 29, 2005 Star article, we have Adamson:

But the detainees at Guantanamo Bay, and elsewhere, are not defendants, or political dissidents. They are captured enemy combatants. It is not illegal to detain them until the conflict is over, according to the rules of war.

It's sad when someone just doesn't get the memo with the talking points. In the first place, the Bush administration is careful to always refer to Gitmo detainees as "illegal" enemy combatants, thereby depriving them of any and all rights under the Geneva conventions. 'Cuz you see, if they were just regular enemy combatants, well, then, they'd have all these rights and you just can't have that. But that's not all.

Adamson then shoots herself squarely in her argument by stating (correctly, it turns out) that, according to the rules of war, the detainees can be held until the conflict is over. Why, yes, Rondi, sweetie, that's right. And where exactly does that rule come from? Why, the Geneva Conventions -- the very set of rules that Adamson apparently just refused to acknowledge. You know, the rules that kind of say that detainees should be treated humanely and, well, not tortured or beaten to death. Right. Those rules. But wait. We're not done here.

Adamson (correctly, as I've already admitted) states that enemy combatants can be detained "until the conflict is over." Why, yes, at which point:

Prisoners of war shall be released and repatriated without delay after the cessation of active hostilities. [Emphasis added.]

Yeah, that's kind of an important qualifier, isn't it? So when exactly does this "War on Terror" officially end? That's a trick question, of course. It doesn't. A "War on Terror" is as meaningful (or, in this case, meaningless) as, say, a "War on Drugs." It never ends, which means Gitmo detainees could potentially spend the rest of their lives behind razor wire, all according to "The Rules."

A suitably snarky ending eludes me. My head hurts.

And this guy is a COLUMNIST?

Clearly, not a sports columnist:

Many Americans have trouble deciphering the Tour's stage format, most not paying enough attention to understand the time gains mountainous stages can bring and the reasons behind teamwork and allowing rivals to win other stages.

Kansas City Star columnist Joe Posnanski admitted: "I don't understand how any of this works. I've been following the Tour de France since Armstrong started winning and I still don't get it. Stages? Time trials? And I'm not the only one who is mystified. Last week, a man called to ask if 'Armstrong had caught that guy Pyrénées for the lead.' I had to say, 'Uh, Pyrénées is not a person. It's a mountain range.' To which he replied: 'Oh, so he did catch him?'"

Posnanski later noted: "Hey, stupid people should be allowed to enjoy the Tour de France, too."

When questioned later, Posnanski replied, "'Irony'? Never heard of it. Why?"

You like me! You really like me!

Well, at least this guy does. This guy? Eh, not so much. I can live with the tradeoff.

Here, let me translate that for you.

The official excuse from Attorney General Alberto Gonzales:

Asked on CBS why he did not investigate the leak when it first became public, Gonzales said: "This is the kind of issue that I felt that we should wait and see whether or not there would be some kind of criminal investigation. And of course, there was."

Shorter Gonzales: "We were hoping it would blow over."

Sunday, July 24, 2005

It's quite simple, really.

Confused about the situational ethics of war? Not sure about the inherent complexities of international relations in a time of conflict? No problem. Let Weasel Boy explain it for you:

The "insurgents" don't give medical attention to anyone but their own. They are cowardly, murderous scum. Our soldiers are brave, dedicated heroes.

See how easy that was? Now, go fetch CC some more bourbon.

: Uh oh ...

The Bush administration's rallying call that America is a nation at war is increasingly ringing hollow to men and women in uniform, who argue in frustration that America is not a nation at war, but a nation with only its military at war...

"Nobody in America is asked to sacrifice, except us," said one officer just back from a yearlong tour in Iraq, voicing a frustration now drawing the attention of academic specialists in military sociology...

While officers and enlisted personnel say they enjoy symbolic signs of support, and the high ratings the military now enjoys in public opinion polls, "that's just not enough," said a one-star officer who served in Iraq.

So much for that "dedicated" part.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Situational logic, right-wing style.

Shorter Kate: "When they say they hate us because of what the left says, well, then it's the left's fault. When they say they hate us because of an oppressive and imperialistic U.S. foreign policy, well ... hey, how about that Lance Armstrong?"

AFTERSNARK: Apparently, according to some of the more thinking-impaired denizens of the right-wing blogosphere, those nasty, homicidal Islamofascists take time out of their busy days to check in on what we on the left have said or written lately, and adjust their plans accordingly.

I wasn't aware I had such power. What a thrill. Under the circumstances, then, a quick note to all those radical, dark-skinned terrorists: this woman really doesn't like Muslims. Not at all. Not even a little bit. In fact, she thinks Gitmo is a real hoot.

It's not like I'm suggesting you do anything about it. But if you really are checking out my blog on a regular basis, well, she's not hard to find.

There's Lance ... and there's everyone else.

In case there was any doubt, Lance Armstrong just annihilated everyone else in the final time trial of the TdF. Just another day at the office.

Excuse me, I must go kill myself now.

Following a link from Section 15, I took the "Which Star Trek character would I be?" challenge. Apparently, to my undying horror, I'm Wesley Crusher:

A brilliant learner with a knack for almost everything, you choose to spend your efforts in the pursuit of travels that extend your own potential.

Pardon me while I go space myself out the nearest airlock.

CORRECTION: Apparently, the test is not restricted to just Star Trek characters, but more generally SF/fantasy characters. That just makes it hurt even more. Why couldn't I be Galactus? I really want to be Galactus.

The absurdity of "No comment, it's an ongoing investigation."

(Written in real-time, stream-of-consciousness -- deal with it.)

Whenever you have a dispute of some kind, there are typically two parties. The party of the first part we can call, say, the "injured" or "aggrieved" party. This is the party who feels it has been wronged and, in some way, wants compensation or justice.

On the other side, we have the party of the second part that we can call the "culprits" who are allegedly responsible for the injustice. With me so far? Good.

Now, in the simplest case, the injured party might just directly confront the "culprits" and ask them if they're responsible. If the culprits 'fess up, well, it's pretty much over. We know who's guilty, they've taken responsibility for it and all that's left is to administer some justice.

On the other hand, if the accused party pleads innocence, this is where one would normally demand an investigation of some kind. In cases like this, the behaviour of the two parties can be drastically different.

It's not unusual for the wronged party to go fairly public with their accusations, perhaps to make sure their story gets out and to gain public sympathy. That's not always the case, but it's common enough. They might be adamant that a wrong has been done, and they're absolutely determined to get to the bottom of it.

The accused party, on the other hand, could just as publicly deny any wrongdoing or, if they're more careful, on the advice of counsel, decide to just say "No comment." In cases like that, they might defend their refusal to comment by saying that it would be inappropriate to comment in the midst of an ongoing investigation but they want to assure everyone that they're co-operating fully with investigators.

You see where this is going, don't you?

The absurdity of the current "Rovegate" controversy is that the parties of the first part and the second part are, in fact, exactly the same party. On the one hand, we have the Bush administration, the alleged victim of having one of their covert operatives "outed," assuring everyone that no one wants to get to the bottom of this more than Commander Chimpy, while simultaneously circling the wagons, refusing to comment yet assuring everyone that they're co-operating fully. Can it possibly get more ridiculous than this?

The absurdity, of course, is that when White House Press Weasel Scott McClellan takes to the podium, he is, in fact, representing both parties at the same time. He will, as the victim, be adamant that George Bush wants to get to the bottom of this as quickly as possible while, in the next sentence, switch hats to represent the defendants and tell everyone that it wouldn't be appropriate to comment (which, of course, he has already done and continues to do, on behalf of the injured party, but not the defendants).

The WH Press Corpse are being driven totally bugfuck simply because they haven't figured this out yet. In a very real sense, McClellan is smack in the middle of one of the most bizarre conflicts of interest imaginable. It's as if he's acting as the spokesman for both the plaintiff and the defendant in one of the most sensational criminal trials ever held. How weird is that?

Even weirder, the WH Press Corpse continues to let him get away with it. But wouldn't it be delightful if someone, anyone (hello, Helen Thomas?) were to ask something like, "Scott, when you say you aren't going to comment on this investigation, are you speaking on behalf of the president who claims he wants to get to the bottom of this, or on behalf of the accused White House staffers who are currently under investigation for that crime?"

Even better, perhaps someone should suggest that it's simply time for McClellan (or any other WH staffer) to recuse himself or herself due to a grotesque conflict of interest.

Is any of this making sense?

P.S. I reserve the right to go back and make aesthetic fixes to this article when I'm feeling more coherent.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Bernie Goldberg: pathetic, right-wing, ass-kissing, suck-up.

Most people have undoubtedly heard of conservative apologist Bernard Goldberg's new book, "100 People Who Are Screwing Up America (and Al Franken Is # 37)". If you haven't, all you really need to know is, in Bernie's opinion, the most damaging, most harmful individual in America today is none other than filmmaker Michael Moore.

Think about that for a second. According to Bernie, the person who is screwing over America the most is a filmmaker whose films no one is forced to watch, an author whose books no one is forced to read, someone who holds no public office so he has absolutely no legislative power over anyone, and is in no way responsible, even a little bit, for the quagmire in Iraq, the tanking U.S. economy, the mind-blowing deficit, unemployment, massive corporate downsizing and outsourcing, abortions, teenage pregnancies, sexually-transmitted diseases, racism or the current overwhelming corruption and downright criminal behaviour permeating the Republican Party.

Go figure.

Well, that Rove reprieve didn't last long.

"Dammit, I said, look at the bright, shiny thing over there!"

Thursday, July 21, 2005

A hypothetical SCOTUS confirmation question.

Unlike White House Press Reptile Scott McClellan, I have no aversion to hypothetical questions so let me throw out this one. As everyone realizes by now, SCOTUS nominee John Roberts is almost certain to be confirmed as the next Supreme, even by Democrats who are most likely just going to hold their noses and give him a pass.

But what if Roberts doesn't play nice during the confirmation hearings? Everyone expects him to tap dance as much as possible, and avoid all the hard questions. But what if he just came right out and said, "Roe v. Wade? I think that was a horrendous decision, and I can't wait for the chance to overturn it."

Then what? In a more general sense, is there some level of mind-blowing wingnuttery Roberts could demonstrate during the hearings that would cause the Dems to just say, forget it, this guy's a loon? And would openly criticizing Roe v. Wade rise to that level of wingnuttery?

Better yet, is there some level of wingnuttery that would cause even moderate Republicans to vote against Roberts? That's hideously unlikely but you never know.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Dear Dems: You had your chance and you pooched it.

It's not like I don't have enough Canuckistan stuff to blog about but I'm mightily peeved with the indescribable stupidity of the Democrats -- quite simply, they got thoroughly snookered by Commander Chimpy's recent SCOTUS nominee. As it stands, given that nominee John Roberts has a stunningly brief career as a judge, there's virtually nothing the Dems can do to reject his nomination. But did it have to come to this? No.

If the Dems had had any brains whatever (something that is looking increasingly unlikely with each passing day), they could have prepared for this. Let me explain.

Naturally, over the last several days, the Dems had to put on an act of being ready to work with Bush; of being open to various nominees; of being willing to give any nominee a fair and impartial hearing. They really didn't have much choice there, did they?

However, if they'd had any spine and were willing to take a stand (yeah, right, this is the Dems we're talking about), they could have tried something like this:

"We're happy to say that we've had helpful and productive discussions with President Bush regarding possible nominees to the Supreme Court, and we want to assure everyone that we're prepared to give any nominee a fair and unbiased hearing. However, we want to make one thing clear.

While we're certainly willing to give the president wide latitude to select his nominee, there is one concession we are not willing to make. We want to make it clear that we will absolutely not accept a nominee that has a public and outspoken opposition to Roe v. Wade, and who has made it clear that he or she would be willing to overturn that decision.

We understand that the president is due great deference in his choice of nominee and, while we appreciate that, this is one issue that is simply a deal-breaker. It is not open to negotiation, and we will reject and, if necessary, filibuster any nominee with an open history of opposition to abortion rights."

Naturally, the wingnut demographic would have gone positively ballistic at such an anouncement, so what would it have accomplished?

First, it would have demonstrated that the Dems were willing to take a real stand, and would have put them clearly in the driver's seat with respect to womens' rights. It would have shown that they were willing to fight for at least one issue. But is that all?

Undoubtedly, the same wingnut demographic would have howled about the Dems having a "litmus test" for the nominee, to which the Dems could have responded a couple of ways.

First, they could have pointed out that Bush has his own litmus test for any nominee -- it's unthinkable that Bush would nominate anyone who wasn't a conservative. Not a compelling comeback, but a comeback, nonetheless.

A more effective comeback, however, might have been, "Damn right it's a litmus test. You can call it whatever you want but those are our conditions. We'll be flexible on everything else, but abortion rights are just not on the table, so deal with it." But what would all this have accomplished? In my opinion, plenty.

This approach would have first allowed the Dems to, within hours, reject Roberts as a nominee. As it is, they're pretty well fucked since they have no solid grounds to deny his nomination. But if they had drawn that line in the sand ahead of time, all they would have had to do was refer to Roberts' prior opinion on Roe v. Wade: "We continue to believe that Roe was wrongly decided and should be overruled." And that would have been the end of the discussion.

The Dems wouldn't have had to dig around, desperately looking for a rationale to keep this lunatic off of the Supreme Court. They could have just pointed at his words and said, "Sorry, no good. We told you what the rules were. Try again."

In addition, if the Dems had put this particular stake in the ground ahead of time, it would have made Bush look petty. The Dems could have come back with, "Several days ago, we made it clear that, while we were willing to work with this administration, there was one issue that simply was not open for negotiation, and that was abortion. We made it clear that we would not accept a nominee with a history of opposition to abortion rights who would like to overturn Roe v. Wade. So it's extremely disappointing that this president saw fit to nominate someone who takes exactly this position."

Rather than being on the desperately defensive, the Dems could have taken the moral high ground and made Bush look like a total dick. Instead, they're pretty well screwed here, simply because they had no clue how to prepare for what they had to know was coming.

How pathetic is that?

COMMENTS ON COMMENTS: While, for the most part, I love my readership dearly, there are times when some of you make life far more complicated than it has to be. Before I reply to a couple of the comments, let me re-emphasize the major point I was making.

In my opinion, at this point, the Dems are pretty well screwed in terms of the Roberts SCOTUS nomination. Most of the news coverage I've seen suggests that, while Dems might give Roberts a good grilling during the confirmation hearings, his confirmation is pretty much a done deal.

On the other hand, if the Dems had taken the time to set some clear conditions beforehand, they would at least have had a fighting chance to reject Roberts. But not having the sense God gave a urinal deodorizer disc, the Dems were simply too stupid to figure out how to protect themselves and they have only themselves to blame. And now, to the comments.

Writes ahistoricality:

Unfortunately, his previous statements on Roe were written in the context of his work, and so it would be entirely possible for the Republicans to ooze their way around that objection, at least publicly, which is what they're doing now.

But this battle is not being fought in the courtroom, it's being fought in the court of public opinion. While this kind of tap-dancing, semantic parsing might fly in a legalistic setting, that's not what matters. There's no way the Dems would even think of trying to derail a SCOTUS nomination unless they felt they had public support behind them. And while the GOP apologists play word games, all the Dems need to do is point at Roberts' prior writings, as I describe above. Which argument do you think would be more convincing to the general public?

(In addition, given that the American public seems to be getting thoroughly annoyed with the semantic shucking and jiving regarding Karl Rove, do you really think they'd put up with even more of it here? I doubt it. I think this is an argument that would have leaned the Dems' way, at least according to the public.)

The jurist writes:

First, as you point out, the Dems didn't have much chance to do anything at all with regard to Roberts or any other nominee. And by taking a hard line like that, they'd have left themselves with absolutely no line of defence against a nominee who's not completely anti-abortion but who's otherwise an even worse Bush hack (Gonzales, anybody?).

Technically possible, but highly unlikely. It's hard to believe that Bush could find a nominee who's a total right-wing nutbar but still respects womens' rights. Possible, but unlikely. But that's not the point.

There's no way the Dems could have immunized themselves against every variation of a right-wing lunatic nominee. But by taking the stand I described above, they could have at least taken a firm stand on one issue. And while they might have taken some flak over it initially, they could have countered that this was a matter of principle and that's that. And, having done that, they could have at least had a prayer of rejecting Roberts or any other vocally anti-Roe nominee.

No, my proposal is not an instant solution. But it would have at least given the Dems something to work with, as opposed to what they have now, which is sweet fuck all.

AFTERTHOUGHT: There's one more point that's worth making. I think the Dems have the right to accuse Bush of reneging on his pledge to pick a "mainstream" nominee.

A recent poll, however, shows that a full 59% of the American public supports Roe v. Wade, which makes someone opposing it, by definition, out of the mainstream.

I would think the Dems might be able to get some mileage out of that. But you already know how smart I think the Dems are.

Shocked ... shocked I am!

"Well, related to Karl Rove ... uh, ongoing criminal investigation ... um, we don't want to prejudge ... Hey! Look! Bright shiny thing!"

Well, THAT nominee was a big surprise, wasn't it?

So let's run through the checklist for Commander Chimpy's recent Supreme Court nominee:

  • White? Check.
  • Male? Check.
  • Thoroughly conservative? Check.
  • Opposed to Roe v. Wade? Check.
  • Supports prayer in public school? Check.
  • Surprisingly short judicial career so as to minimize potential for embarrassing background checks? Check.
  • Relatively young (50) so he has the potential to fuck up the Americal legal system for decades to come? Check, check and double check.
If the Dems can't get their backs up over this one, they really are a bunch of pussies. Oh, wait ...

For more detail and less snark, you can start with The Green Knigget.

Canadian wingnuts on parade.

OK, so we're not a world military power, but our right-wing waterheads don't take a backseat to anyone.

UPDATE: The full roster.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

The Bush prime-time address drinking game.

Here we go again -- another prime-time address regarding his next Supreme Court nominee that every network will be stupid enough to carry. So, the drinking rules: whenever Chimpy says:

  • "freedom": one shot
  • "democracy": one shot
  • "mainstream": two shots
  • "9/11": stab yourself in the eye with a pencil

It's all a matter of semantics, isn't it?

Monday, July 18, 2005

"I sense a disturbance in the force ..."

Suddenly, Sister Mary Catherine felt the presence of an unspeakable evil ...

Rachel Marsden watch: "Everyone likes a smackdown."

In that case, Rachel, sweetie, I'll be glad to oblige. Rachel writes:

As bestselling author and media bias whistleblower Bernard Goldberg told me recently:...

Oh, yeah, Bernie Goldberg -- that paragon of objective media criticism. Sometimes, this is so easy, there's no fun in it anymore.

Mandate? What mandate?

From this morning's Mope and Wail:

In a new poll conducted for The Globe and Mail/CTV, 55 per cent of Canadians surveyed say the next government should let same-sex legislation stand, while 39 per cent would like to see an attempt made to repeal it. A further 6 per cent said they did not know.

Not to mix international metaphors or anything but when can we expect the same people who described Bush's 51%-48% victory over John Kerry as an overwhelming victory giving Bush a "mandate" to start downplaying the significance of a 55% majority?

And, yes, that's a rhetorical question.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Fun and games at the Tour.

... and then, because this fan was such a dick, they let the team cars drive over him as well.

She said, she said.

Here's an interesting consequence of blogging.

Open thread.

Amuse yourselves. I'm going howling.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Selective quotation? WHAT selective quotation?

Canadian wingnut Damian Penny, touting the miracle cure of Commander Chimpy's tax cuts, quoting from the New York Times:

For the first time since President Bush took office, an unexpected leap in tax revenue is about to shrink the federal budget deficit this year, by nearly $100 billion.

On Wednesday, White House officials plan to announce that the deficit for the 2005 fiscal year, which ends in September, will be far smaller than the $427 billion they estimated in February.

Mr. Bush plans to hail the improvement at a cabinet meeting and to cite it as validation of his argument that tax cuts would stimulate the economy and ultimately help pay for themselves.

Based on revenue and spending data through June, the budget deficit for the first nine months of the fiscal year was $251 billion, $76 billion lower than the $327 billion gap recorded at the corresponding point a year earlier.

The Congressional Budget Office estimated last week that the deficit for the full fiscal year, which reached $412 billion in 2004, could be "significantly less than $350 billion, perhaps below $325 billion."

The big surprise has been in tax revenue, which is running nearly 15 percent higher than in 2004. Corporate tax revenue has soared about 40 percent, after languishing for four years, and individual tax revenue is up as well.

Most of the increase in individual tax receipts appears to have come from higher stock market gains and the business income of relatively wealthy taxpayers. The biggest jump was not from taxes withheld from salaries but from quarterly payments on investment gains and business earnings, which were up 20 percent this year.

And the continuation of that article, precisely where Penny stopped quoting (emphasis gleefully added):

That was similar, though much smaller than a sharp rise in tax revenue during the stock market boom of the late 1990's, which was followed by plunges in revenue when the market bubble burst.

But many independent analysts cautioned that the improvement, though notable, could prove ephemeral and that it did little to eliminate much bigger fiscal problems just over the horizon. "Lawmakers who allow themselves to be lulled into thinking that the economy is growing its way out of the deficit," wrote Edward McKelvey, an economist at Goldman Sachs in New York, "are unlikely to support the painful measures needed to reach a more lasting solution."

For one thing, analysts note, federal spending has continued to climb rapidly, about 7 percent this year. Despite cutbacks in many domestic programs, spending has surged for the war in Iraq as well as in certain benefit programs providing health coverage.

In addition, while a lot of the increase in tax revenue flows from the improving economy and higher incomes, part of the jump stemmed from a special factor: the expiration of a temporary tax break that allowed companies to write off their investment in new equipment much more rapidly than normal.

That tax break reduced revenue by about $61 billion in 2004, but it merely postponed taxes that companies would have to pay once their equipment was fully depreciated.

You see, boys and girls, why it's so important to follow the links and read the original. Otherwise, you'd think Mr. Penny was being honest and forthright, and we can't have that, can we?

AFTERSNARK: In what seems to be an attempt to appear fair and balanced, Penny follows his lengthy, carefully-snipped quote with an apparent caveat:

The tax cuts are not the only reason revenues are rising, as the Times report makes clear, but neither have they starved the government as Paul Krugman suggests.

Now, given that that last link is labelled simply with the name "Paul Krugman", you'd think it was a link to, you know, Paul Krugman, who'd probably have a different opinion on the efficacy of Admiral Bunnypants' tax cuts.

But, no. In fact, it's a link to the NRO's Donald Luskin, easily one of the stupidest human beings on the planet, who is criticizing Krugman. Fair and balanced? Yeah, I got your fair and balanced right here, buddy.

Breaking news! Hard-hitting journalism!

CNN's viewer question this morning:

Karl Rove: Real controversy or partisan politics?

Coming soon from CNN:

Dragging black men to their death behind pickup trucks: An unspeakably grotesque and horrific example of bigotry and racism, or just good ol' boys letting off a little steam?

If I wasn't Canadian, I'd get me one of those.

From a commenter over at Digby's, the bumper sticker:


Friday, July 15, 2005

CNN: Stupid is as stupid does.

Apparently, I'm not the only one who thinks CNN anchors are a bunch of waterheads.

Young Republican Nathan Taylor, still getting spanked.

And the General goes to town.

Catholic Church smackdown!

Well, you knew the response was coming:

Legal experts say the predictions by Canada's top Catholic Cardinal that opponents of same-sex marriage will be prosecuted for publicly denouncing the unions are unfounded -- and at least one labels the prophecy "rhetorical hysteria."

Rhetorical hysteria? From the Catholic Church? This is news?

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Is it hot in here, or is it just me?

All Stephen needed were the police officer and the construction worker and he was seriously ready to party.

(Credit where credit is due.)

Oh, those reality-based conservatives.

If you have the stomach for it, I recommend this Wall Street Journal editorial. It's entitled "Karl Rove, Whistleblower." Seriously. I couldn't possibly make up something this surreal.

Checking in on Rachel Marsden.

Oh, lord.

Canada doesn’t have designated tabloid newspapers like the National Enquirer, but obviously we don’t need one. Some journalists are keen to scoot over and fill that void.

I swear, if I had a weaker heart, the irony would kill me.

A homophobic, child-beating parent walks into a bar ...

And in a depressing display of unfortunate timing, we have (following a link from AmericaBlog) the following piece which demonstrates nicely what might happen when people really are that violently opposed to homosexuality:

Thought Toddler Gay, Dad Kills Son

(Tampa, Florida) A 21 year old Tampa man is charged with murder after his 3-year old son was pummeled into unconsciousness and then died.

Ronnie Paris Jr. went on trial for his own life this week in a Tampa courtroom. The toddler's mother, Nysheerah Paris, testified that her husband thought the boy might be gay and would force him to box.

Nysheerah Paris told the court that Paris would make the boy fight with him, slapping the child in the head until he cried or wet himself. She said that on one occasion Paris slammed the child against a wall because he was vomiting.

Well, that's one way to stop him from ever getting into a same-sex marriage, isn't it? I'm sure Cardinal Ouellet is breathing a sigh of relief even as we speak. Better dead than wed, right, Cardinal?

More Canadian bloggers that deserve a bigger audience.

I just found this one I rather like.

When those chickenhawks come home to roost.

Oh, man, I might just sit here and giggle myself into senselessness. Y'all remember those tough-talking, patriotic Young Republicans back here, no? The ones who think military action is just peachy as long as it doesn't muss their hair or intrude on their party time.

Well, apparently, that last little upscale shindig of theirs didn't work out so well:

Nevada's chapter of the Young Republicans has basically imploded, leaving its chairman with up to $25,000 in personal debt and allegations that he mishandled money.

All but three people have resigned from the statewide group, but the fallout could prove increasingly embarrassing to the entire state Republican Party.

Today, the chairman of the group, Reno resident Nathan Taylor, plans to hold a press conference attacking three of the state's party leaders -- Sen. John Ensign, Rep. Jim Gibbons and Rep. Jon Porter.

Taylor argues that the state's Republican delegation should have helped him fund the national Young Republican convention held last week at Mandalay Bay.

"I've got bills at the hotel I can't pay," said Taylor, a 29-year-old political science senior at UNR who said he had to quit his food service job and drop classes to plan the convention.

Taylor estimates that the convention, attended by about 600 people from around the nation, is at least $10,000 -- and up to $25,000 -- in the red.

As the chairman, he said he'll personally have to cough up the cash

And how is it that Taylor could have buried himself in so much debt? Gosh, it couldn't be because he chose to have his little soiree at the goddamned Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino instead of, say, the Ramada, could it?

At the risk of a neck-snapping change of subject, this I think explains why the halls of higher academia really are a bastion of left-wing, liberal thought. Because conservatives are so fucking stupid, that's why.

: Poor Nathan gets TBogged. No, not "teabagged". "TBogged". Honestly, sometimes, you people ...

AND THERE'S MORE: Following a link from a TBogg commenter, it appears that really stupid, arrogant, youthful Republicans are pretty much par for the course. Jesus, do they take a course to be this dense?

Just how dumb are Americans?

According to a recent MSNBC poll, a full 41% of the American public still views George W. Chickenhawk as "honest and straightforward." Who are these people?

Two homophobic, closed-minded, bigoted, anti-gay Catholic priests walk into a bar ...

Regardless of how down you're feeling, you know you can always count on the Catholic Church to lower even further your opinion of your species. From this morning's Mop and Pail, we have Canada's top Roman Catholic cardinal, Marc Ouellet:

Once the state imposes a new standard affirming that homosexual sexual behaviour is a social good, those who oppose it for religious motives or motives of conscience will be considered as bigots, anti-gay and homophobes, and then risk prosecution.

Yeah, and how unfair would that be? To be considered an anti-gay bigot just because you're, well, bigoted against gays. How cruel.

To be fair, though, I think maybe it really is time to follow the Church's lead and return same-sex relations to where they rightfully belong -- between priests and their altar boys. Ah, for the good old days of traditional moral values.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Time to out some CIA agents. Ready ... set ...

Hey, folks! Are you currently pissed with the American government? Do you have some really nifty, top-secret, super-duper undercover information on, say, some CIA spies you'd love to spill without getting into serious shit, like felony charges of treason? No problem.

Apparently (according to the latest GOP-inspired spin), White House hitman Karl Rove didn't really commit a crime because, you see, when he outed Ambassador Joe Wilson's wife Valerie Plame as a covert CIA operative, that was OK since he didn't actually refer to her by name.

Yes, apparently, that makes all the difference. So, rather than ridicule this self-serving spin for the utter codswallop that it is, why not take those lemons and make lemonade out of it? Let us declare open season on covert CIA operatives, who you can now out with impunity as long as you don't actually use their names.

Don't say, "John Q. Smith works for the CIA." That would be oh so wrong, and you would get into a world of trouble. Instead, say, "The man who lives at 1234 Main Street and claims to work at World Travel is a covert CIA operative." See how easy that is?

Don't say to the assembled press, "Fred Jones over there is a deep-cover, Middle East spy." No, rather say, "See that man over there? The one just coming out of the building, wearing the trench coat? No, not the blonde, the dark-haired man next to him. Yeah, that one. CIA spy. Trust me." And so on.

You get the idea, it's not hard. And, most importantly, don't listen to those gloom-and-doom whiners at the CIA who will probably just go on and on and tediously on about how you're jeopardizing the lives of loyal American citizens. Hey, you're not the one who proclaimed open season on them, are you? They can thank the White House for that.

(By the way, it might be fun to ask Scott McClellan at the next gaggle whether this sort of behaviour is within the law but, last time I checked, he really wasn't talking about it. Pity. I'd bet he'd really want to discourage this sort of thing but, hey, it's pretty much "No comment" for him these days, isn't it?)

When Young Republicans get together.

Orange alert! Military recruiter in the building! Evasive action!

(Picture link stolen shamelessly from Steve Gilliard.)

What does it mean when Scott McClellan is being "very clear"?

It's not like I want to flog this decaying corpse of a horse any further (well, OK, sure I do), but here's a delightful bit of McClellanese from back in 2003 that any journalist should be able to use with which to club Scottie into unconsciousness:

MR. McCLELLAN: Again, this is -- the issue here -- what is the issue here? Did someone leak classified information? Is that the issue?

Q It could be about changing the tone, too.

MR. McCLELLAN: All of a sudden now, we're trying to change the topic in this room.

Q There's a legal issue, there's an ethical issue, too. Going after a man's wife is unethical.

MR. McCLELLAN: Let me make it very clear. As I said previously, he was not involved, and that allegation is not true in terms of leaking classified information, nor would he condone it. So let me be very clear...

That's right -- what was once li'l Scottie being "very clear" is suddenly grounds for no comment. I think it might be useful for someone to point out McClellan's 2003 words, then ask him what it means from now on whenever McClellan claims he (or President Chimpy, for that matter) are being "very clear."

Yeah, Boston College -- I'm looking at you.

Apparently, it's all the fault of us academic, political and cultural liberals, as we read here:

Specifically, here's what [Rick] Santorum wrote about the church pedophile scandal on a religious website called Catholic Online. ''When the culture is sick, every element in it becomes infected. While it is no excuse for this scandal, it is no surprise that Boston, a seat of academic, political, and cultural liberalism in America, lies at the center of the storm."

So, when it comes to Catholic priests abusing and molesting children, well, I hope all you folks over there at MIT are hanging your head in shame. Who would have thought it was really your fault?

Scott McClellan: Taking "weasel" to a whole new level.

After the last couple days of Rove-a-palooza, it's hard to imagine there'd be anything to say about White House Press Weasel Scott McClellan's overwhelming hypocrisy that hasn't already been said, but let me take a shot at it.

Over here, we see the WH Press Corpse finally showing some spine, beating up on poor Scottie and Scottie simply hiding behind the now-robotic response of "I'm not going to comment on an ongoing investigation." Even the most innocuous questions are blown off with this lame rationale. But hold on. Look carefully about halfway down the page, at this exchange:

QUESTION: You're in a bad spot here, Scott... because after the investigation began -- after the criminal investigation was under way -- you said, October 10th, 2003, "I spoke with those individuals, Rove, Abrams and Libby. As I pointed out, those individuals assured me they were not involved in this," from that podium. That's after the criminal investigation began.

Now that Rove has essentially been caught red-handed peddling this information, all of a sudden you have respect for the sanctity of the criminal investigation?

MCCLELLAN: No, that's not a correct characterization. And I think you are well aware of that.....

Um ... hello? McClellan's response to the accusation above is, in fact, commenting on the investigation, isn't it? Not surprisingly, McClellan wants to have it both ways -- refusing comment when reporters are tearing him a new orifice, yet quickly (and most likely unthinkingly) leaping to Rove's defense when he thinks Rove has been unfairly accused.

It's hard to believe that no one in the room picked up on that. At this point, if McClellan wants to be consistent, he'd have to keep his mouth shut about absolutely anything and everything Rove-related but, as you can see, he's not up to the job. At this point, reporters could ask Scott if Karl Rove did indeed put out a Mafia-style contract on Plame's husband Joe Wilson and McClellan would have to just weasel out with a "No comment." Any substantive response would make it clear that McClellan is willing to comment, but only when it suits his purposes.

If the media want to screw Scottie over, all they have to do is pay more attention to what he's saying. How hard can that be? Oh, right. We're talking about the White House Press Corpse here. What was I thinking?

Monday, July 11, 2005

Just how annoying can Christians get?

(Via Pharyngula), about this annoying:

United States: A South Carolina Druid couple have filed a complaint against a police officer who used a traffic stop as an excuse to try and convert them to Christianity.

I particularly like this part:

A full account of the incident is given on the Emerald Sanctuary Druidic Church web site, including the fill text of Officer Stewart's letter, where he admits he only works for the Police because of the witnessing opportunities it provides.

Here's a suggestion: why doesn't Stewart enlist? Then he can try converting Muslims in Iraq. I'm sure that would go over really well.

UPDATE: A more complete description of this can be found here.