Thursday, December 30, 2004

Just how big an asshole is Commander Crotchbulge?

See for yourself.

The constitutional bankruptcy of "intelligent design"

A quick link to an interesting piece on the constitutionality of "Intelligent Design". I'll have my own opinions on ID here on a regular basis starting fairly soon, so this is just something to tide you over.

And, please, let's not get to the point where I, a Canadian, have to explain the U.S. Constitution to Americans. Have some pride.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Canada coming through in the crunch.

Current Canadian pledge for tsunami relief:
$40 million.
Current U.S. pledge so far: $35 million.

Canada showing their neighbours to the south how it's done. Numerous annoying Americans respond with, "Well, yeah, but with the exchange rate ..."

Bushies a little testy about being labelled "stingy".

this article at, we have numerous members of the Bush administration getting their panties in a bunch over being described as just a bit miserly with their emergency aid. As the article points out, when it comes to percentage of GDP, the U.S. pretty well sucks in terms of generosity:

Measured another way, as a percentage of gross national product, the OECD's figures on development aid show that as of April, none of the world's richest countries donated even 1 percent of its gross national product. Norway was highest, at 0.92 percent; the United States was last, at 0.14 percent.

Most normal folks might be just a wee bit embarrassed by this revelation but, as we've all learned by now, this is an administration that knows no shame. Instead, USAID administrator Andrew Natsios simply ignores contributions based on the normal percentage of a country's GDP and, given the U.S.'s sizable GDP, should we be surprised when he prefers to just compare absolute dollar figures?

"That's a European standard, this percentage that's used," Natsios said. "The United States, for 40 years, has never accepted these standards that it should be based on the gross national product. We base it on the actual dollars that we spent."

Apparently, then, it's not the portion of what you have to spare that counts, it's just the final absolute dollar figure. I'm sure that makes the Bushies feel all warm and fuzzy but, sadly, there's always some radical, left-wing, commie, pinko, tree-hugging, eco-freak, social justice fanatic who doesn't see things that way:

Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins,worth only a fraction of a penny.

Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything–all she had to live on.”

Man, that Jesus guy can be a real pain in the ass at times, can't he? Socialist freak.

Open thread.

Your turn. Go wild.

President Smirky McFlightSuit all over that ... big water thingy over there.

From the Washington Post, in which Admiral Bunnypants agonizes over the recent devastation in Southeast Asia from his golf cart somewhere in Texas:

Earlier yesterday, White House spokesman Trent Duffy said the president was confident he could monitor events effectively without returning to Washington or making public statements in Crawford, where he spent part of the day clearing brush and bicycling.

Responding to mounting criticism about his seeming indifference, Bush snapped at reporters, "I think a lot of people misunderestimate my concern. Now, watch this drive."

Monday, December 27, 2004

You have to understand your priorities.

U.S. initial investment in emergency aid to tsunami-devastated areas of Asia: $15 million.

Estimated cost of Admiral Bunnypants' second inauguration ceremonies: $50 million.

Knowing that the U.S. media won't ever point out these perversely warped priorities: Priceless.

DEC. 29 UPDATE: U.S. pledges of assistance for disaster relief increase to $35,000,000. Bush administration finds additional funds by cutting back on appetizers at inauguration. Wealthy guests complain, but Bush vows to "stand firm" and "stay the course". Right-wing blogosphere nominates Bush for Nobel Peace Prize. Nobel Peace Prize committee collectively commits suicide in response.

God apparently in a really pissy, vindictive mood these days.

Over 16,000 killed from India to Indonesia by a tsunami. And partway down the article, we have a good question:

"Death came from the sea," Satya Kumari, a construction worker living on the outskirts of the former French enclave of Pondicherry, India, told Reuters. "The waves just kept chasing us. It swept away all our huts. What did we do to deserve this?"

Yes, all you devout, pushy, obnoxious Christians -- what did all those people do to deserve being killed on Christmas day, and the day after? I'm sure, as you love to lecture us incessantly, this is all part of God's plan, right? So why don't you fill us in on that plan? Especially the part of the plan that requires:

Volunteers laid bodies of children in rows under sarongs at makeshift morgues. Others were stacked in white fish crates. Wailing mothers clutched dead babies.

Dead babies. By the hundreds apparently. And yet ... and yet ... we have Fox News' resident lying scumbag Bill O'Reilly wailing about how all those liberals and Democrats have Christmas under seige just because they'd prefer to say "Happy Holidays" rather than "Merry Christmas". No, Bill, Christmas isn't under attack from people who just want to wish you a happy holiday. It's under seige from your God who took the opportunity to celebrate the Yuletide by killing thousands of people.

And a Merry Christmas to you too, Bill.

7:38 AM update: Over 21,000 dead now.

7:46 AM update: 23,000 dead. God apparently still not quite in the holiday spirit.

8:18 AM addendum: Corrupt, unethical, criminal college Republicans scam millions in contributions, including from elderly people with dementia. Cover letter encourages donations so that Bush knows that "there are millions who are giving him the shield of God to protect him in the difficult days ahead." Sadly, this "shield of God" apparently only works for rich, white Republicans, and not for, oh, folks like this. Pity.

12:10 PM random thought: For those with no sense of history, you might want to take a minute to recall the devastating earthquake that struck Bam, Iran. 43,000 dead, 20,000 injured, 60,000 homeless. And the date? One year ago. December 26, 2003. The day after Christmas. All part of God's mysterious plan, no doubt.

6:55 AM update: Death toll now 26,000 and counting. God's mysterious plan apparently still mysterious. Devoutly religious try desperately to change the subject.

10:27 AM update: 40,000 now confirmed dead. Many devout hold hands tightly over ears and hum loudly to themselves. More ambitous among them leave goofy comments on various blogs, suggesting that it just doesn't get any better than this.

11:57 AM update: Casualty count hits 44,000. Numerous fundamentalist Christians grapple with whether they should be concerned, given that it will take precious time away from banning gay marriage.

2:44 PM update: Death toll now 52,000. Christian fundamentalists brace for the possibility that the number of dead might reach 77,000, at which point they will launch numerous discussions of the Biblical significance of the number seven.

3:12 PM update: Good news -- Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Petra Nemcova survives tsunami. Fundamentalist TV commentators and religious talk show hosts forced to explain to their followers why God spared "that trampy whore foreigner and harlot." The Reverend Jimmy Swaggart is smart enough to keep his mouth shut.

5:54 AM update: Death toll now tops 67,000. Numerous Americans show momentary concern and sympathy until someone points out that many of the dead are probably Muslim. The Roman Catholic Church expresses its heartfelt sorrow at the loss of life of all the children, especially the boys -- those fine, young, supple ... uh, never mind. TV producer Marc Burnett announces plans for "Survivor: Indonesian Tsunami".

2:41 PM update: Uh oh ... death toll nears 77,000. The Reverends Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson resort to fisticuffs to see who gets to explain how this is all part of God's plan on CNN. Meanwhile, FOX TV pre-empts all disaster coverage with the Bill O'Reilly special, "Christmas Under Siege: How Gays are Destroying Religion." Somewhere, Jesus weeps.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Everything just ducky in Iraq, yessirree.

Things going
just swimmingly in Iraq. Freedom is on the march. You bet. I love the sub-caption, "Security failures were known before attack in mess tent." I'm sure that'll just perk up the soldiers hoping to live to see the new year.

Intelligent design -- first in an ongoing series

Since there are just oodles of other bloggers who can expose the Bush administration and, in general, the entire right-wing blogosphere, media, attack poodles and screech monkeys for the lying, hypocritical bottom dwellers that they are, I thought it might be fun to focus a little more closely on a single topic. And given my 20+ years investigating (read: eviscerating) creation science and, more recently, "intelligent design", I thought it might be amusing to, over the course of several weeks, beat the living daylights out of that particular pseudo-scientific nonsense.

Now, I suspect we here at Cynic HQ are going to get comments so, for the sake of productivity, as time goes by, I'm going to lay down some ground rules. And the first ground rule is addressed to those inevitable critics who will be defending creation science or its more recent incarnation, "intelligent design". (Or, as we here at Cynic HQ like to call it, "crap".) And that ground rule is, if you're going to get involved, please, take the time to do some research and get a fucking clue. Seriously.

Let me give you an example. On a regular basis, I deal with defenders of "ID" who like to claim that ID refutes biological evolution. These people are ... what's the word I'm looking for here? Oh, right: "morons". And I can say this without fear of refutation since even the organizations that promote ID don't make this claim.

Consider the Discovery Institute, a Seattle-based conservative think tank whose mandate appears to be to discover as little as humanly possible. They are arguably the most vocal group in the U.S. in terms of promoting ID, and even they don't make this claim. Consider their list of top questions related to ID and biological evolution, particularly point 2 under "QUESTIONS ABOUT INTELLIGENT DESIGN", which reads:

2. Is intelligent design theory incompatible with evolution?

It depends on what one means by the word "evolution." If one simply means "change over time," or even that living things are related by common ancestry, then there is no inherent conflict between evolutionary theory and intelligent design theory...

Got that? Even the Discovery Institute doesn't take the position that ID disproves evolution, so if you say something like that in this forum, I'll save everyone buckets of time by providing a link to the refutation, calling you an "idiot" and moving on. In short, if you want to play, you really should take the time to do some research and, yes, here's a good place to start. I love a good debate, but arguing with someone who doesn't have clue one isn't really my idea of a good time.

Let the games begin.

Christmas under attack! Not.

And, right on cue, we have the right-wing howler monkeys and attack poodles filling the airwaves with stories of how the religiosity of Christmas is under siege from all those gosh-darned atheistic, secular humanist, gay-marriaging, tree-hugging, God-hating, evolutionist radicals.

Trouble is, it's not true. So the right wing makes up shit to push their religious agenda? Colour me shocked.

Friday, December 24, 2004

You have to love the irony -- the "liberation" of Iraq

Just caught Sec Def Donald Rumsfeld on CNN again, during a surprise visit to the base in Mosul, addressing the troops (well, OK, the troops that were still alive), telling them they were part of something historic, their ongoing mission to "liberate Iraq".

So, he does have a sense of humour after all -- the man in charge of an unprovoked, illegal invasion of another country; the man responsible for the torture, wounding and killing of God knows how many Iraqis; the man who is currently in charge of the construction of 14 allegedly permanent U.S. military bases on Iraqi soil; the man whose boss is currently privatizing and selling out from under the Iraqis pretty much their entire country -- this is the man who describes the total annihilation of another country as its "liberation".

And the great thing is, the press just keeps printing it that way.

Soldier's question to Rumsfeld passes into right-wing folklore

Apparently, the myth of the embedded reporter getting a soldier to ask Donald ("Man, you guys are a bunch of whiners!") Rumsfeld the question about their lack of proper armor is now a undeniable part of right-wing folklore. In today's National Post (Canada's version of the Wall Street Journal, but without handguns), writer Kelly McParland signs on to the fairy tale:

"When he was asked on a stop in Iraq why soldiers had to scrounge for armour to protect their vehicles, he fired off a cursory, dismissive response. The question, it turned out, had been planted by a reporter and wasn't really the sign of grumbling among the troops much of the media portrayed it as."

As I've already pointed out in an earlier post (because, unlike National Post writers, I actually like to get my facts straight), the question came directly from the soldier. But hey, it's not like the right wing to let, you know, facts get in the way of a good story.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Black TV commentator to air travellers: Lighten up, OK?

Just flipping past CNN (and, yes, the quicker you can do that, the better off you are generally), and I caught a black commentator, clearly defending the aggressive and often rude searches of air travellers by TSA personnel by saying something like, "It's all about safety, so travellers just have to learn to lighten up."

Interesting attitude -- that in the name of safety, one should be prepared to sacrifice one's dignity. I wonder how that same commentator would react if someone (and I'm not saying who, just saying) that all blacks should be stopped on the highway and searched since, hey, it's all in the name of fighting drugs and, well, better safe than sorry, etc., etc.

Do these idiots even listen to themselves??

TSA easing search and patdown rules.

After numerous complaints from women who claimed they were fondled inappropriately by airport screeners under the guise of being searched, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) issued
new guidelines for what is and is not appropriate search behaviour.

In particular,

The new TSA rules say screeners can select passengers for patdowns based on “visual observations,” even if they do not set off metal detectors. Amy Von Walter, a TSA spokeswoman, said screeners are looking for “irregularities in a person’s natural shape or contour.”

Yeah, you always have to be suspicious about those irregularities in a person's contour, don't you?

And the lying just goes on and on and on ...

Josh has
the money quote from Gen. Richard Myers on the Mosul attack:

This attack, of course, is the responsibility of insurgents, the same insurgents who attacked on 9/11, the same type of insurgents who attacked in Beirut, the same insurgents who -- type of insurgents who attacked the Cole, Khobar Towers, and the list goes on.

These people just can't stop lying. It's truly pathological. But it is entertaining to see how quickly Myers catches himself; how he realizes he's full of it and switches from "the same insurgents" to "the same type of insurgents" to dig himself out. No matter. Just another worthless, lying Bush administration sack of crap.

Any bets that, when the hammer falls in terms of responsibility, it's going to land on some poor grunts, and not on anyone higher up the food chain? You know -- like Myers. Or anyone at Halliburton?

Signing on to missile defense

Currently, Captain Smirky is pressuring Canada to sign on to his overpriced, underachieving ballistic missile defense system. Here's a suggestion -- Canadian PM Paul Martin should tell Bush he'll get on board as soon as the U.S. is confident the system works, at which Canada will test it by launching a missile at the White House. What's that old saying? "Putting your money where your mouth is," I believe.

(Yes, I know we probably don't even have ballistic missiles in our arsenal. Perhaps Celine Dion fired from a high-speed catapult.)

A mandate? Yeah, I got your mandate right here.

Oh, yeah, a real big-time mandate. Time for another fighter jock, crotch bulge, mission accomplished, freedom is on the march photo op, methinks.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Rumsfeld: All those Mosul deaths not really a "failure"

In flipping through the channels, I came across Secretary of Defense and consummate failure Donald Rumsfeld and, I may have missed the context but I caught him just as he was saying something to the effect that, "Some people may look at this as a failure. But, really, it can also be a learning experience."

So, if someone you cared about was blown to pieces in Mosul, don't take it too hard. It was a learning experience, and those are generally good things. Aren't they?

Addendum: Oh, yes, Kos is all over this as well. And whose fault is this? Apparently, Halliburton is in charge of building the new fortified mess hall. Halliburton ... Halliburton ... gosh, that name sounds familiar.

So, to those knee-jerk, right-wing defenders who think everything's going just swimmingly, a simple question -- at what point should someone's head roll? At what point should someone be held accountable? Or is it still Bill Clinton's fault?

Math puzzles for the holidays

I've always been a fan of clever math puzzles, so here's one for the holidays (after which I'll get back to slagging President Smirky and his band of idiots.)

There's an old story of two pirates who chance upon a cache of mixed valuables (gems, gold, that sort of thing) and want to divide it evenly, so that no one's feelings get hurt. The puzzle is, of course, how to divide the goodies so that both pirates feel that the division was equitable. Note the careful wording here -- the division doesn't have to be exactly in half; it simply needs to leave each pirate feeling satisfied that it was fair. The solution isn't hard to figure out -- one of the pirates divides the swag into two piles, after which the other gets to pick which pile he prefers. If you think about it, it's the obvious answer -- neither pirate can cheat the other or bend the rules to his advantage.

But what if you add more people to the mix? Say you have (God help us all) a Christmas fruitcake, and an arbitrary number of people. With just a sharp knife, how can you slice the fruitcake so, once again, every single person in the group is satisfied with their slice and doesn't feel cheated compared to anyone else?

Now it's not so easy, is it?

Oh oh ... right-wing howler monkeys get hoofed in the nads again.

Shortly after Secretary of Defense Donald ("Hey, that whole armor thing is overrated, anyway.") Rumsfeld made a complete ass of himself in handling a critical question about the appalling lack of armor for U.S. troops in Iraq, pretty much all of the right-wing blogosphere tried to dismiss the question because, according to numerous reports, the soldier had been primed with the question by an embedded reporter. Therefore, went the screeching conservative punditry, the question was wholly inappropriate. (Apparently, it's not the lack of armor that's important -- it's just who notices it first.)

But now, it comes out, the soldier is now making it clear that he came up with the question, and even had a few backup questions in reserve. One can only wait for the howler monkeys' next excuse.

Why does that soldier hate America?

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Things in Iraq going great. Just great.

Yup, freedom still on the march. Oh, and regarding that one excerpt:

Grim-faced soldiers growled angrily about the attack and swore as they stomped away.

I suspect Donald Rumsfeld won't be giving the troops another pep talk anytime soon. Just a hunch.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Dietary advice for the holidays

During this festive holiday season, you will undoubtedly be getting dietary advice from well-meaning busybodies who want to make sure you don't overindulge. Tell them to take a hike, as Craig Wilson suggests.

Thou shalt not skim flavor from the holidays, by Craig Wilson, USA Today

I hate this time of year. Not for its crass commercialism and forced frivolity, but because it's the season when the food police come out with their wagging fingers and annual tips on how to get through the holidays without gaining 10 pounds. You can't pick up a magazine without finding a list of holiday eating do's and don'ts. Eliminate second helpings, high-calorie sauces and cookies made with butter, they say. Fill up on vegetable sticks, they say. Good grief. Is your favourite childhood memory of Christmas a carrot stick? I didn't think so. Isn't mine, either. A carrot was something you left for Rudolph. I have my own list of tips for holiday eating. I assure you, if you follow them, you'll be fat and happy. So what if you don't make it to New Year's? Your pants won't fit anymore, anyway.

1. About those carrot sticks. Avoid them. Anyone who puts carrots on a holiday buffet table knows nothing of the Christmas spirit. In fact, if you see carrots, leave immediately. Go next door, where they're serving rum balls.

2. Drink as much eggnog as you can. And quickly. Like fine single-malt scotch, it's rare. In fact, it's even rarer than single-malt scotch. You can't find it any other time of year but now. So drink up! Who cares that it has 10,000 calories in every sip? It's not as if you're going to turn into an eggnogaholic or something. It's a treat. Enjoy it. Have one for me. Have two. It's later than you think. It's Christmas!

3. If something comes with gravy, use it. That's the whole point of gravy. Pour it on. Make a volcano out of your mashed potatoes. Fill it with gravy. Eat the volcano. Repeat.

4. As for mashed potatoes, always ask if they're made with skim milk or whole milk. If it's skim, pass. Why bother? It's like buying a sports car with an automatic transmission.

5. Do not have a snack before going to a party in an effort to control your eating. The whole point of going to a Christmas party is to eat other people's food for free. Lots of it. Hello? Remember college?

6. Under no circumstances should you exercise between now and New Year's. You can do that in January when you have nothing else to do. This is the time for long naps, which you'll need after circling the buffet table while carrying a 10-pound plate of food and that vat of eggnog.

7. If you come across something really good at a buffet table, like frosted Christmas cookies in the shape and size of Santa, position yourself near them and don't budge. Have as many as you can before becoming the centre of attention. They're like a beautiful pair of shoes. You can't leave them behind. You're not going to see them again.

8. Same for pies. Apple. Pumpkin. Mincemeat. Have a slice of each. Or, if you don't like mincemeat, have two apples and one pumpkin. Always have three. When else do you get to have more than one dessert? Labour Day?

9. Did someone mention fruitcake? Granted, it's loaded with the mandatory celebratory calories, but avoid it at all cost. I mean, have some standards, for God's sake.

10. And one final tip: If you don't feel terrible when you leave the party or get up from the table, you haven't been paying attention.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

And Time's man of the year is ...

... whoa, big surprise here -- George W. Chimpster. Now, will all of you right-wing nutbars who are constantly complaining about that nasty anti-Bush "liberal media" please just shut the fuck up?

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Conservatives agree -- U.S. troops a bunch of whiners

John over at AmericaBlog takes issue with a growing number of conservative (read, "never been to war myself but I've read all about it") commentators who are dissing the troops who have the gall to complain about, oh, lack of armour and stuff like that. As John quotes right-wing toady and sycophant Kathleen Parker:

"They make the, well they, they bellyache if you ask them. If they haven't had a bath in two days and they're sleeping with a bunch of smelly guys and they're tired and they're hungry they're going to bellyache. Give them a little R&R and they come back and they have maybe a different story."

Perhaps Parker has a point. I mean, what's the problem when a soldier can't even get a little mussed up without bitching and moaning about it? Suck it up, soldier! Parker's got your back. Well, all right, she's got your back as effectively as she can have it from thousands of miles away behind the safety and comfort of her keyboard.

American troops. What a bunch of pansies, eh?

Addendum: Yeah, and I'm thinking some of these troops should quit their bellyaching, too. Well, at least those who still have bellies left. I'm thinking a little R&R isn't quite going to solve all of their problems.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Social Security, slavery, evolution and right-wing hypocrisy

Ever notice that, on the one hand, when the issue is economic summits, political dissent or just this president's choice in cabinet members, the message is that this administration and its groupies are relentlessly focused? There will be no disagreement, free debate or open discussion. The president has a specific point of view that will brook no argument or consideration of alternatives.

On the other hand, when the topic is, say, slavery, or evolution versus creation science, these same folks suddenly seem all excited about "presenting both sides," having a "fair and balanced discussion," and academic freedom in which all points of view can be heard?

And wouldn't it be great if, the next time Admiral McFlightSuit suggests teaching creation science (a.k.a. Intelligent Design, a.k.a. worthless, mind-numbing scientific illiteracy) in public schools because it's only fair to present both sides, some courageous journalist asks why this newfound respect for academic and intellectual freedom doesn't apply to the rest of his administration?

Oh, yeah. Hold your breath for that to happen.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

The life story of ... Bernie who?

The first time I read this, I thought it was a parody. But, no, it's real -- a proposal for a big-screen biopic of thoroughly-disgraced adulterer and law-breaker Bernie Kerik. Now, be honest -- how many of you had actually even heard of Bernie before he made the news as another stellar example of Republican morals and family values?

Open thread

Next day or two will be a bit busy, but feel free to let me know what's on your mind. Or what issues you'd like to tackle next. As I mentioned before, I'm going to be doing a number on creation science/intelligent design some time soon. And if you're a big believer of that stuff, well, it's not going to be pretty.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Canada: Going to hell in a handbasket, obviously.

Following a link from John over at AmericaBlog, we find that we Canadians are in deep trouble. Can a plague of locusts be far behind?

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

The latest in ballistic missile defense

From over at

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The first flight test in nearly two years of a planned U.S. missile-defense shield has been scrapped two days in a row this week because of bad weather, the Pentagon said on Friday.

Strong rain squalls over the Kwajalein atoll launch site in the central Pacific caused the latest postponement, Richard Lehner, a spokesman for the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency, said shortly after the decision to scrap the test. A new attempt might be made later in the day, he said.
So, apparently, if the swarthy, dark-skinned evildoers want to attack, they're going to wait until it rains. Those tricky, tricky bastards.

UPDATE, Dec. 15: Oops.

More Republican family values

Oh, man -- the Bernie Kerik fallout just gets more hilarious every day. Even though he's withdrawn his nomination for Director of Homeland Security, the press has just latched on this story and is beating the crap out of this guy. Here's the latest.

Republican family values at its finest.

Quick update: It's from yesterday, but Josh Marshall has been impressive over at Talking Points Memo. If you have the time, just start at the top and start reading. Oh. My. But one of the funniest bits there is White House spokesreptile Scott McClellan trying desperately to not have to talk about any of this:

"Again, I'm not going to get into specific details of any individual nominee's vetting process. I think that's out of respect for the process. But we were moving forward with the nomination, and this information was brought to our attention and he made a decision to withdraw his name. And that's where it stands. Now we will move forward quickly to name a new nominee."

Shorter Scottie: "Fuck off! Just leave me alone, OK?"

Monday, December 13, 2004

And now, the latest from the world of sports ...

And in the world of sports, Los Angeles Lakers petulant control freak Kobe Bryant accuses Karl Malone of making a pass at Bryant's wife. Well, given that Bryant admitted to sexual relations with a 19-year-old in his hotel room during a road trip, can you really blame Malone for thinking that Bryant's wife might be, you know, on the market?

Oh, my, one do get comments.

Apparently, I now have a loyal following. Glad to have you on board, guys. Try not to break anything or steal the silverware.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

OK, comments are back (sort of)

Hmmm ... I'm not overly thrilled with the way comments are implemented here. And the new mechanism (not HaloScan, but using the post pages) not surprisingly lost the previous comments. I'm going to have to give this some serious thought.

And I still plan on messing with the overall template one of these days, when things slow down a bit. Ack. So many targets, so little time.

Tom Friedman: as much of an asshole as ever.

You can read the pompous, pretentious, full-length version. Or TBogg's much more concise summary.

Trust me, you don't lose a lot of content with the shorter version.

Marriage, war, the Bible and gays.

Well, yesterday was certainly a little more entertaining than usual as Kos over at DailyKos was generous enough to link over here to my snarky little piece on the recently-married getting a one-year military furlough. I recommend popping over there and reading all the comments he got. (It's a sobering sign of blogosphere infamy when his link to my article got 150 comments, and mine got five.)

Now, my original post was certainly a little tongue-in-cheek -- I didn't seriously expect the vast majority of whacked-out, speaking-in-tongues Biblical literalists to suddenly have an epiphany and cry, "Lord, O Lord! How wrong we have been to send the newly-married to have their brains and other vital organs dashed upon the sands of the evil foreign power!" Or something to that effect.

In fact, if you read the comments at Kos, you'll notice the occasional reference to a classic standby fundamentalist defensive position: that it's really kind of unfair to refer to anything in the Old Testament, given that a good chunk of that (Leviticus and Deuteronomy in particular) is -- how shall I put this diplomatically? -- mostly inane, mind-numbingly stupid, indefensible twaddle about how thou shalt not wear clothing of mixed fabrics and similar silliness. So it's not surprising to find the Bible thumpers blowing off the Old Testament with, "Well, yes, we know what it says, but that's before Jesus Christ and a new Covenant with his followers that supersedes that complete rubbish. Anyway, it's not like anyone takes it seriously anymore."

Generally, an effective strategy ... except for one itsy, bitsy problem: the Old Testament is the only place anywhere in the Bible that explicitly condemns homosexuality.


If you pop over to BibleGateway and do a keyword search for "abomination" in the King James version of the Bible, you learn a couple of things. First, you learn that the Christian God, despite being the creator of all things, finds quite a lot of it abominable. Go figure.

More importantly, though, you learn that the only explicit condemnation of homosexuality occurs (as near as I can tell) exclusively in the Old Testament:

Leviticus 18:22 (KJV): Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.

Leviticus 20:13 (KJV): If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.
Which, of course, puts the sputtering, homophobic fundies in a bit of a bind as they struggle to categorize those parts of the Old Testament that they like and those parts they don't in some weird relativistic fashion. Like here.

In any case, while it's normally tempting for the annoyingly Godly to abandon any defense of the collective idiocy that is the Old Testament, you have to realize that down that road lies some serious rhetorical difficulty. I mean, if you can't use the Bible to prop up your closed-minded intolerance and homophobic bigotry, it seems all you'd have left is Jesus' numerous admonitions to love thy neighbour and treat him or her as you'd like to be treated. And what the hell fun is that?

Random additional ponderings: I realize I may be belaboring the obvious, but if you read the above two passages from Leviticus -- I mean really read them carefully and literally -- they do seem to be giving lesbians a pass, don't they? So, apparently, there's no problem, Biblically speaking, with a little hot girl-on-girl action. Just saying.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Gosh darn that passive voice!

You can't help but snicker at the sight of someone who seems physically incapable of using the active voice. Consider deadbeat dad and former nominee for Secretary of Homeland Security Bernie "Hey, she's your kid, not mine" Kerik, who spake thusly about employing a nanny that, oops, didn't seem to have all her paperwork in order:

"It has also been brought to my attention that for a period of time during such employment required tax payments and related filings had not been made."

You see how that works? It's not that "I did not make the required tax payments and required filings". It's that "the required tax payments and related filings had not been made." But, hey, that's what happens when, you know, mistakes are made.

UPDATE: OK, OK, it's passive "voice", not passive "tense". My bad. It's been that kind of lifetime.

Fun with scripture.

If you want to have a howling good time laying a smackdown on closed-minded, literal, Biblical fundamentalists (yes, yes, I'm being redundant), you should check out this online Bible search site. Oh, Lord (pun fully intended), the endless hours of bliss, as you stumble across wonderfully topical passages like this from Deuteronomy 24:5:

"If a man has recently married, he must not be sent to war or have any other duty laid on him. For one year he is to be free to stay at home and bring happiness to the wife he has married."

Well ... isn't that special? And isn't that just the sort of thing you'd like to bring to the attention of the Bible-banging, God-fearing right-wing loons and fundamentalists in charge of the current invasion of Iraq? And wouldn't it be amusing to watch them have to renounce these kinds of unambiguous Scriptural commands, in front of their devout flock and their lunatic religious leaders? Man, I'd pay to see that.

Coming soon -- what the Bible really thinks about marriage. And divorce.

Random related thought: You know, if you want to entertain yourself writing a letter to your local paper pointing out the war and recent marriage thing, hey, you have my permission. Perhaps something along the lines of, if the U.S. is really a "Christian nation" founded on "Christian laws", does this passage have the full force of law? Oh, the fun you'll have.

NOTE: Due to a change I made in the blog template, I managed to lose the previous comments. (Actually, I suspect they're not lost, they're still in HaloScan, but I'm managing the comments using a different mechanism.) Sorry about that.
Hey, even pro-slavery racists like our products.

Over here, Jesus' General points out that slavery advocate and all-round right-wing nutbar and bigot Larry Stephenson is used as a testimonial for the high-tech North Carolina company US Networks. If you're one of my regular NC readers (and all three of you know who you are :-), why not drop a note to and ask them if they really want that kind of association? Be polite. And try not to mention my name.
So long, Bernie.

Washington, Dec 10, 2004 -- 'Former New York Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, President Bush's choice to be homeland security secretary, has withdrawn his name from consideration, the White House announced late Friday.'

'Presidential press secretary Scott McClellan, in a conference call to news organizations, revealed that Kerik had withdrawn "for personal reasons".'

As one wag put it, he wanted to spend more time with his families. In any case, Kerik was apparently a real piece of work. He would have fit right in.

Random additional musings: It's not entirely relevant, but what the hell?

Friday, December 10, 2004

So ... just what constitutes a "national emergency" anyway?

Lots of ink being spilled describing how the U.S. military is in deep trouble, what with increasing desertion and resignations, a tougher time getting new recruits who don't fancy getting their nads blown off to make Halliburton and the Carlyle Group richer, and increasing grumbling from the soldiers already stuck in Iraq who are being kept there under the "stop-loss" program. Yes, one might say the American military are not a bunch of happy campers. All of that is described here, but there was one passage that really leaped out at me:

A further sign of strain can be seen in the Army’s decision this year to mobilise 5,600 members of a pool of former soldiers that can be mobilised only in a national emergency.

Um ... say what? When exactly did the U.S.'s illegal, pre-emptive invasion of another country become a "national emergency"? There are no pitched battles being fought on American soil. Iraq is clearly not preparing to launch their own invasion; hell, isn't Iraq supposed to be on the same side as the U.S. by now?

And while it's a complete fiasco that Iraq seems pretty clearly descending into a nasty civil war, it's not at all clear how any of that represents a "national emergency" for Americans. The only danger to Americans at the moment seems to be to those unlucky enough to be stuck dodging bullets and roadside bombs overseas. So where's the "emergency"? As many have already pointed out, this was a war of choice, not of necessity. To paraphrase a well-known saying, really bad judgement in starting a war on your part doesn't constitute an emergency on my part.

If I was one of those 5,600 former soldiers, I'd be giving serious thought to going to court to find out just whose definition of the word we're using here.

Canadian gay marriage pretty much inevitable

Yes, it looks like pretty much a done deal up here in the Great White. But before we Canucks get all wrapped up in how open-minded, tolerant and cosmopolitan we are, it's worth remembering that, yes, we have our own version of Alabama -- same stupid bigots, just with lots more money.
Cool secular humanist paraphernalia

Some great stocking stuffers. And my personal fave.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Dear Dems: Here's how to beat the charges of racism (and sexism)

OK, now that I had some fun with the recent, right-wing attack strategy that tars Dems as racists whenever they criticize someone who isn't, well, white, here's an easy way to deal with that. And, God knows the Dems need all the advice they can get because, most of the time, they're ... hmmm, what's the phrase I'm looking for here? .... oh, right, ... unbelievably, mind-numbingly fucking stupid and as dumb as my cats.

Give the Republicans credit, they've set this up nicely. They hunt around, looking under the seediest barrels they can find for the most vile, loathsome, closed-minded, right-wing lunatic wingnuts in existence (see Janice Rogers Brown, Priscilla Owen and numerous others) and nominate them for high-level judgeships or cabinet positions. If the Dems somehow work up enough backbone to object, they're immediately tarred as racist, sexist or both. Sadly, this tactic seems to be working. And, just as sadly, it's almost trivial to counter.

First, the Dems need to have on hand a list of all of the upcoming nominations, and this isn't hard -- you can generally see these things coming a mile away. Then they just need to have one or more alternate candidates immediately available on their tips of their tongues. When a Dem criticizes a particular candidate (say current White House counsel and torturer-in-training Alberto Gonzales), any charge of racism and anti-Hispanic bias should, in an instant, be met with, "No, we're not biased against Hispanics at all. In fact, we have a very high opinion of <insert name of preferable Hispanic male candidate here>. He has a lengthy and admirable record of legal service, he's received excellent reviews from his peers, and he has the experience to do the job extremely well. In fact, if the President wants to nominate him for the position, we'd confirm him in a heartbeat."

Naturally, there will be some fuming and sputtering from the right about how that's not the same thing because the alternate candidate might be a Dem, or too moderate, or even (Heavens to Betsy) somewhat left of center. But that's perfect, since it exposes the real reason the Repubs want their candidate, and blows away any charges of racism on the spot.

If the Repubs want to re-nominate the despicable Janice Rogers Brown, every single Dem should have the name of one or more black, female alternatives to Brown at hand, making it impossible for any charges of racism (or sexism, for that matter) to stick for more than about five seconds. In fact, the Dems can go one better by proposing alternatives that go even further towards promoting minorities and women.

If the Repubs nominate white female Owen and the Dems object, they can counter any charges of sexism by proposing a black (or Hispanic, or native American, or Vietnamese, or what have you) female alternative. Not only does this defuse any charges of sexism on the spot, it puts the issue of racism on the table and puts the Republicans on the defensive since, if they complain, they can now be accused of racism.

Is this a trivially effective counter-strategy? I think so.

Is there anyone in the Democratic power structure smart enough to think of it all by themselves? Oh, yeah, that'll happen any day now.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Dems officially biased against everyone now

WASHINGTON (CC) - In a fairly predictable broadside against the Democratic Party, high-profile Republicans and other members of the right-wing media are accusing the Democrats of being racist since their new Senate leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, described Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas as an "embarrassment" and said he wouldn't support Thomas as the new Chief Justice.

"It's outrageous," fumed a prominent Republican, who wished to remain anonymous. "I mean, it's obvious that they don't like Thomas, not because he's an inarticulate, unaccomplished buffoon, porn addict and Antonin Scalia sock puppet, but just because he's black. I think it stinks."

Additional attacks included accusing the Dems of criticizing both outgoing Secretary of State Colin Powell and his imminent replacement Condolleeza Rice because of their race, and definitely not because both are simply incompetent, weaselly, pathological liars directly responsible for the deaths of thousands of Americans.

When Reid pointed out that the Democrats also adamantly opposed judgeship nominations for white judge Charles Pickering of Mississippi and white female judge Priscilla Owen of Texas (link here), White House spokesferret Scott McClellan lashed back, "Well, I think that just proves that the Democratic Party also discriminates against white women. And white men, too."

In a related development, the Bush administration announced its plans to nominate a Mexican hairless chihuahua for the next opening on the Supreme Court, to appeal to the Hispanic-canine demographic. "Let's see them oppose that nomination," crowed one Republican operative. "It'll just prove they don't like Mexicans. Or dogs."

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Secretary Donald Rumsfeld -- yes, it really IS all about him.

From a WaPo article, available here at truthout, we learn that politics trumps competence as Donald Rumsfeld appears to be staying on as Secretary of Defense:

"Rumsfeld faced calls for his resignation this summer over the abuses at the Abu Ghraib military prison in Iraq. Republicans close to the White House said the decision to retain him was driven partly by the calculation that replacing him would appear to be a concession that the administration made mistakes in Iraq."

And the money quote, in the very next paragraph:

"Moreover, some Republicans have speculated that Rumsfeld wanted to stay on with the hope that security conditions in Iraq would improve, leaving him with a better legacy."

Yes, apparently, Rumsfeld is nobly and magnanimously sticking it out, not because he gives a crap about the thousands of dead and horribly wounded and maimed soldiers overseas, but because he wants a second (or third, or is it fourth?) chance to look better in the history books.

I believe the phrase we're looking for here is "narcissistic sociopath."

Just when you thought things couldn't get any worse at HHS ...

So now it's Tommy Thompson's turn to flee from the train wreck that is the Bush administration, stepping down from his position to no doubt spend more time with his family. And, naturally, the jockeying to replace him has already begun, with one of the potential candidates being none other than Newt "the Newtster" Gingrich, whose ideas on health and compassion involved serving his then-wife with divorce papers while she was in hospital being treated for cancer.

Newt Gingrich as secretary of Health and Human Services. Oh, yeah, that's going to work out really well.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Sports cynicism for the holiday season

Yes, it's still crazy busy around here, but I'm curious -- is there anyone who could possibly care less than me about baseball's current revelations about players who (Gasp! Shock! Horrors! Whatever will we tell the children?) took performance-enhancing drugs? Is this really the end of baseball's age of innocence? And who really gives a fuck? Seriously. Some of these dingbats really need to get a life.

UPDATE: Apparently, I'm too cynical and pessimistic for my own good, as all of those pressing concerns like global terrorism, the environment, the raging deficit, homelessness, Social Security and the millions of uninsured Americans have all been solved to the extent that Sen. John McCain can take the time to fret over steroid-enhanced baseball players.

If you're a fan of John McCain's, come over here for a minute. I just want to slap you.