Monday, February 28, 2005

Top U.S. General Sees Lasting Iraq Insurgency

If you're part of the U.S. military about to be posted to Iraq,
you might not want to make any long-range career plans:

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (Reuters) - The insurgency in Iraq is not likely to be put down in a year or even two since history shows such uprisings can last a decade or more, the United States' top military commander said on Friday.

Air Force Gen. Richard Myers said that in the past century, insurgencies around the world have lasted anywhere from seven to 12 years, making a quick fix to the problem in Iraq unlikely.

But no worries since, according to Myers, the Iraqis have their ink-stained fingers for solace and comfort:

Myers said, however, that recent elections in Iraq were a sign that insurgents were not succeeding in their efforts to strike fear in the Iraqi people. American television was full of images in January of Iraqis whose fingers were stained with indelible ink after casting their ballots.

"They were sticking that ink-stained finger in the eye of the insurgents," Myers told a packed ballroom at the Beverly Hilton hotel.

Sadly, when you give the Iraqi insurgents the finger, sometimes they take it personally.

History is always such an entertaining thing.

From an
official U.S. Embassy transcript, November 25, 2003:

In consultation with the Iraqi Governing Council, the United States has now laid out a very explicit timeline, or roadmap, that will lead to full Iraqi sovereignty by June 2004, Deputy Secretary Richard Armitage said in a television interview on The Newshour with Jim Lehrer on November 21.

"There's no question that the majority of Iraqi people see us as liberators," Armitage said. "However, if we overstay our welcome, we'll be seen as occupiers. We're trying to thread that needle just right."

Tricky, that threading-the-needle thing, isn't it?

115 dead in Iraqi suicide bombing.

"Suicide Bomb Kills 115 Near Iraq Marketplace." Gee, if you didn't already know that freedom was on the march, democracy was taking root and stuff like that there, this sort of thing might almost upset you.

Just another definition of "terrorist".

What would you call someone who, if he could get his hands on nuclear weapons, would unhesitatingly use them on a largely civilian population, indiscriminately killing countless innocent women and children to advance his political or ideological agenda?

you'd call that person a Republican.

Torture, American style.

If you haven't already read Bob Herbert's recent New York Times columns on the arrest, torture and "rendition" (have to love that phrase) of Canadian Maher Arar (here and here), you might take a few minutes to see just what the Bush administration thinks of the whole concept of Canadian sovereignty, or due process, or rights, or whatever neat phrase they've decided to completely ignore these days.

But don't stop there. Follow that up with the New Yorker's article on the U.S.'s amusing policy of what they call "extraordinary rendition", plus a commentary on that piece.

And if a disturbing number of Americans can't seem to figure out why we don't want to hop into bed with them in their war against worldwide terrorism, the answer might be depressingly simple. When it comes to your friends against the terrorists, it can be annoyingly difficult to tell them apart at times.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Still a few bugs in the system.

Following a link from POGGE, we find our own Canadian government making life easier in all kinds of ways for the Yanks. Suddenly, missile defense doesn't seem so critical anymore -- we have bigger problems.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Outta here for the weekend.

Not likely I'll be posting again until Monday. I'm off to drink some beer. Real beer. Canadian beer. Till then, talk amongst yourselves.

U.S. to Canada regarding sovereignty: Bite me.

Oh oh. I suspect there are going to be some testy e-mails and phone calls over this little spat:

Prime Minister Paul Martin said yesterday that Canada has to be involved in any U.S. decision to shoot down an enemy missile in Canadian airspace, but the American ambassador said the country had given up its right to be involved in any such decision.

Paul Cellucci, the U.S. ambassador, made the remarks just after Mr. Martin officially announced Canada would not join the controversial missile-defence shield.

“We will deploy,” Mr. Cellucci said. “We will defend North America.

“We simply cannot understand why Canada would in effect give up its sovereignty, its seat at the table, to decide what to do about a missile that might be coming towards Canada.”

Hello? "Give up its sovereignty"? This is going to get so ugly. Maybe even as ugly as this.

"Blog of the Year," indeed.

Over here, The Poor Man points out that, besides being a little thin-skinned, the good folks over at Powerline are (and I'm being diplomatic here) scientific imbeciles, and it's worth deconstructing that Powerline piece just a little to truly appreciate the imbeciliousness of its author.

From this 2003 article, we have Powerline's Buttrocket:

I think that Darwin's theory of macroevolution is plainly wrong, on strictly scientific grounds.

In the first place, anyone referring to "Darwin's theory of macroevolution" can immediately be dismissed as a complete crank. This will be the topic of a future article, but the important point is that that phrase is pure, unadulterated creationist gibberish. But wait. It gets better.

Referring to the Texas Tech professor who refused to write a letter of recommendation for a student who was an unabashed, young-earth creationist, Buttrocket writes:

One could argue (as Volokh did, if I remember the conversation correctly) that, apart from the merits of the issue, a professor is under no duty to write a recommendation for a student, and therefore should be able, legally and morally, to refrain from recommending any student on any non-discriminatory basis. But discrimination against Christians, observant Jews and conservatives is much more prevalent in our society than race or sex discrimination (putting aside, of course, affirmative action).

But the student wasn't being denied a letter of recommendation based on his religious views. He was being denied based on the fact that he was an idiot who didn't understand even the most fundamental aspects of science.

There's so much more to eviscerate about Buttrocket's gibberish, but here's the best part:

As to the Texas Tech professor, I doubt that he is very atypical. Karl Popper argued long ago that Darwin's theory of evolution was never a matter of science; it was always about faith.

This claim about philosopher Karl Popper is one of the hoariest and most-refuted chestnuts in the creationist arsenal. Back in 1976, in discussing natural selection, Popper wrote:

"I have come to the conclusion that Darwinism is not a testable scientific theory, but a metaphysical research programme - a possible framework for testable theories."

Only two years later, however, after having natural selection explained to him a little more fully, Popper issued a very unambiguous retraction:

"I have changed my mind about the testability and logical status of the theory of natural selection; and I am glad to have an opportunity to make a recantation."

documentation of which can be found on the Web in numerous places such as here and here. And it's not like Popper's retraction is all that hard to find, if you care to look.

In other words, well over 20 years after Popper cleared things up, we have Buttrocket, either too stupid or too dishonest to represent him properly. And these folks are Time's "Blog of the Year"? Who's next? Michelle Malkin? Ann Coulter? Little Green Cowards? It's not like they could make a worse choice, is it?

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell nominated for Nobel Peace Prize.

No, that's it. Really. That's the whole punchline right there.

Missile defense? We don' need no steenkin' missile defense.

this online CTV article regarding missile defense:

... Paul Cellucci, the country's ambassador here, was saying "we don't get it," as to why Canada doesn't wish to participate in the controversial program.

"If there's a missile incoming, and it's heading toward Canada, you are going to leave it up to the United States to determine what to do about that missile. We don't think that is in Canada's sovereign interest."

Um ... guys, the only way a missile is going to be headed for Canada is if they were aiming for the U.S. and missed.

BONUS TRACK: You know, I'm reminded that the last time Canada got into bed with the U.S. in terms of an aerospace program, it cost us the Avro Arrow. Can we not make that kind of mistake again?

As long as Josh uses his power for good, not evil.

It's pretty funny when someone gets flat-out busted, like over here at Josh Marshall's TPM.

How to argue like a right-wing wanker.

Once upon a time, we had my five stages of arguing like a right-wing wanker. More recently, following a link from Kos, we have Tom Tomorrow's variation on that theme. Clearly, he stole the idea from me. Bastard.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Get your war on: June 2005 edition.

over here, we have former UNSCOM weapons inspector Scott Ritter, sounding pretty confident that the Bushista administration already has plans for a June attack on Iran. So, a word of advice to the junior, chickenhawk, college 101st Fighting Keyboarders: join now and avoid the rush.

No green bananas for Marburger either.

In a rather surprising address at the annual conference of the National Association of Science Writers, President Chimpy's science adviser, John Marburger,
didn't have much good to say about Intelligent Design.

The White House's chief scientist stated point blank, "Intelligent Design is not a scientific theory." And that's not all -- as if to ram the point home, Marburger soon continued, "I don't regard Intelligent Design as a scientific topic."

Sigh. I suspect Marburger might as well start cleaning out his locker now.

Um ... how's that again?

(CC News) -- Toward the end of a European Union summit, President Chimpy W. McCrotchBulge told a gathering of reporters:

"This notion that the United States is getting ready to attack Iran is simply ridiculous.

Having said that, all options are on the table
," he told reporters at the end of a summit with European Union (EU) leaders.

Bush would have continued but several people present were injured when one journalist's head suddenly exploded.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

All your rights are belong to us.

Oh, man,
this is just plain scary.

You say "Social Security", I say "cash cow".

Commenter Dave,
over here, brings up a point made a number of times across the blogosphere -- that it's simply implausible that the Bush administration will "default" on its debt to Social Security because the U.S. Constitution simply bars that kind of behaviour. Josh Marshall, over at Talking Points Memo, has made that very point but, somewhere, I recall reading a fairly well-reasoned rebuttal that maybe it's not all that cut and dried, so I'm going to reserve judgement on it. Certainly, at face value, the Constitution doesn't seem to allow for that.

But there's another point that I think is being missed in all of this. Read WaPo regular columnist and frothing, conservative nutbar Charles Krauthammer:

Let's start with basics. The Social Security system has no trust fund. No lockbox. When you pay your payroll tax every year, the money is not converted into gold bars and shipped to some desert island, ready for retrieval when you turn 65. The system is pay as you go. The money goes to support that year's Social Security recipients. What's left over is "lent" to the federal Treasury. And gets entirely spent. It vanishes...

Make sure you understand what Krauthammer is saying here: that if SS is running an excess -- that is, more income than outgo -- then, hey, it's party time for the rest of government, whoo hoo, look at all that spare cash, tax cuts for everyone!

But the instant SS starts to run a deficit, suddenly it's, fuck you, SS, don't come crying to us for help, you're on your own. I'm curious why no one seems to be mentioning that little fact.

BONUS TRACK: Have you ever noticed that, whenever a right-wing wanker starts off with "Let's start with basics" or "Let's start with the facts", you just know that what you're about to hear will be total bullshit?

And ANOTHER cartoon character becomes a threat to Western civilization [sic].

Fresh off of its ass-whooping embarrassment in trying to portray SpongeBob SquarePants as a menace to pre-school sexual identity, the U.S.-based Traditional Values Coalition (web site: has set its sights on yet another cartoon character and the corresponding movie --
Shrek 2.

You know, given the TVC's displeasure over fictional gay themes, they must be pretty upset over the whole Jeff Gannon/gay/prostitute thing. I mean, not just mad but fuming, sputtering, livid, beside themselves with outrage. Let's go see.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Not quite getting the idea ...

From a recent Spam e-mail subject line, "
we can help you get your digree online". Thanks, but I'm pretty sure you're looking for these guys. I mean, how embarrassing is it when a right-wing, nutbar blog insists on spelling it "Rebublican"?

From the department of "Man, that was bad timing."

From just a few days ago, we had a number of young Republican Jonahs, all gung-ho about overseas military action but finding all sorts of excuses why other people deserve to get their nads blown off:

In more than a dozen interviews, Republicans in their teens and 20s offered a range of answers. Some have friends in the military in Iraq and are considering enlisting; others said they can better support the war by working politically in the United States; and
still others said they think the military doesn't need them because the U.S. presence in Iraq is sufficient.

"Frankly, I want to be a politician. I'd like to survive to see that," said Vivian Lee, 17, a war supporter visiting the convention from Los Angeles,

Lee said she supports the war but would volunteer only if the United States faced a dire troop shortage or "if there's another Sept. 11."

"As long as there's a steady stream of volunteers, I don't see why I necessarily should volunteer," said Lee, who has a cousin deployed in the Middle East...

"If there was a need presented, I would go," said Chris Cusmano, a 21-year-old member of the College Republicans organization from Rocky Point, N.Y. But he said he hasn't really considered volunteering.

Oh oh ... That timing has to suck.

Power Line: Our kick-ass, motherfuckin' blog of the year. No shit.

(CC News) -- In an incident that has set tongues wagging in the world of blogs,
Time magazine's blog of the year, Power Line, responded to an e-mail critical of its "Jeff Gannon" coverage with an expletive-laced reply:

You dumb shit, he didn't get access using a fake name, he used his real name. You lefties' concern for White House security is really touching, but you know what, you stupid asshole, I think the Secret Service has it covered. Go crawl back into your hole, you stupid left-wing shithead. And don't bother us anymore. You have to have an IQ over 50 to correspond with us. You don't qualify, you stupid shit.

When asked whether it was appropriate for the magazine's "Blog of the Year" to use such profanity and whether it represented the magazine in a good light, Time's managing editor Jim Kelly replied, "You're shittin' me, right? Those fuckers over at Power Line kick some serious ass. I mean, come on, somebody has to lay a smackdown on those treasonous, liberal assholes and cocksuckers. As far as we're concerned, they're doing a bitchin' job."

"Hey," interjected Kelly, "you want a fuckin' subscription or what?"

Sunday, February 20, 2005

And speaking of "frivolous" lawsuits ...

John, over at AmericaBlog, gives us the heads up that Jeff/Jim/Gannon/Guckert/hotstud4u/8+cut is
threatening to sue ... well, just about everyone. And for what? Apparently, for pointing out that he's a moderately-priced, gay prostitute.

Memo to Jim/Jeff: it's kinda late for that. Once you post naked pics of yourself on the internets, your expectation of privacy sort of goes out the window.

When I say "tort reform", I mean for YOU, not ME.

It's not like you need even more evidence of Republican hypocrisy but, what the hell, here you go. Apparently, when Republicans promote the idea of tort reform to bar "frivolous lawsuits" or to cap awards, they really mean that for you, not for them. Some choice excerpts from this piece:

As a United States Senator, Rick Santorum has repeatedly supported limits on consumers' rights to seek compensation in the courts. In 1994, Santorum sponsored the Comprehensive Family Health Access and Savings Act that would have capped non-economic damages at $250,000. In a 1995 floor speech supporting damages caps, Santorum said, "We have a much too costly legal system. It is one that makes us uncompetitive and inefficient, and one that is not fair to society as a whole. While we may have people, individuals, who hit the jackpot and win the lottery in some cases, that is not exactly what our legal system should be designed to do."

But the same rhetoric does not seem to apply to Senator Santorum. In December 1999 Santorum supported his wife’s medical malpractice lawsuit against her chiropractor for $500,000. At trial, the Senator testified that his wife should be compensated for the pain and suffering caused by a botched spine adjustment, claiming that she had to "treat her back gingerly" and could no longer accompany him on the campaign trail. After the verdict, Santorum refused to answer phone calls asking what impact the case had on his views of "tort reform." According to his spokesman Robert Traynham, "Senator Santorum is of the belief that the verdict decided upon by the jury during last week’s court case of his wife is strictly a private matter. The legislative positions that Senator Santorum has taken on tort reform and health care have been consistent with the case involving Mrs. Santorum." In January 2000, a judge set aside the $350,000 verdict, deeming it excessive, and offered a reduced award of $175,000 or a new trial on damages only.

Heh. I'll just bet he didn't want to talk about it. And what about those "frivolous" lawsuits? Let's ask Commander Smirky what he thinks of them:

As Texas Governor, George W. Bush was one of the "tort reform" movement’s biggest proponents. One of Bush’s first acts as governor in 1995 was to meet with representatives of nine Texas Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse (CALA) chapters in a salsa factory outside of Austin, after which he declared a legislative "emergency" on "frivolous lawsuits." Over his two terms, Bush signed a series of brutal bills that severely reduced injured consumers' rights to go to court.

However, when it comes to solving problems involving his own family, Bush heads straight to court. In 1999, Bush sued Enterprise Rent-A-Car over a minor fender-bender involving one of his daughters in which no one was hurt. Although his insurance would have covered the repair costs, making a lawsuit unnecessary, Bush sought additional money from Enterprise, which had rented a car to someone with a suspended license. In this case, Bush seemed to understand one of the most important functions of civil lawsuits -- to deter further wrongdoing. The case settled for $2,000 to $2,500.

And here's the capper, the concluding example which makes you wonder whether you should laugh or cry:

In 1975, Indiana lobbyist Frank Cornelius, whose clients included the Insurance Institute of Indiana, helped secure passage of a $500,000 cap on medical malpractice awards and elimination of all damages for pain and suffering in Indiana. As he wrote in the New York Times on October 7, 1994, he now "rue[s] that accomplishment." Beginning in 1989, Frank Cornelius experienced a series of medical catastrophes that resulted in his wheelchair confinement, respirator-assisted breathing and constant physical pain.

When he turned to the Indiana courts to provide a remedy, to compensate him for his massive injuries and hold the negligent health care providers accountable, the law was no longer there for him. The Indiana legislature had taken his rights away. Though his medical expenses and lost wages amounted to over $5 million, his claims against both the hospital and physical therapist at fault settled for a mere $500,000 -- the limit on damages for a single incident of malpractice.

Boy, there's some serious irony for you. And try as I might, I can't work up a lot of sympathy for Cornelius. All right, truth be told, I can't work up any sympathy for him at all. Fuck him. He clearly didn't give a shit about potential suffering until it came back to bite him in the ass. I guess you really do have to be careful what you ask for.

A little under the weather today.

Some hideous cold thingy, so it's going to be a quiet day, blogging-wise. In the meantime, you can entertain yourself by Googling for amusing combinations of words, like "bush cocaine 'youthful indiscretion'". Or "bush nominate extremist judges". Or something.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

The New York Times, screwing the pooch on Social Security again.

Once again, Media Matters has to explain how that nasty liberal media
doesn't have a freaking clue how to do arithmetic when it comes to Social Security.

How hard is this? Really? It's arithmetic for Chrissake! Can't the Times just hire some high school students to explain this to them? Bloody hell.

Canadian blogger "mahigan" getting a little ahead of himself. Heh.

over here and like many of us, says adios to the NHL season, good riddance and don't let the screen door whap you in the butt on the way out.

But wait, what's that? The sound of a clawed hand, emerging from the freshly-turned earth? Nooooooo ...:

The NHL season may be brought back to life after all. Believe it or not, labour talks will resume Saturday in New York.

"Late Thursday night the NHL requested a meeting with NHLPA representatives in New York," the NHL Players' Association said in a statement Friday night. "Today the NHLPA accepted the invitation and a meeting has been scheduled for Saturday."

No! Die, dammit, die! Why won't you just stay dead?!

Sorry ... what was your definition of "sovereignty" again?

If you can interrupt a freeper's incessant crowing about elections, democracy and "sovereignty" in Iraq, you might want to ask him
what's up with this -- the still-ongoing plan for the United States to kind of just camp out in Iraq for perhaps the next several years, using several "long-term" military bases as their base of operations.

Maybe it's just me, but the notion of moving in and setting up shop on someone else's property doesn't seem to jibe with any definition of "sovereignty" with which I'm familiar. Feel free to read more.

Perhaps Commander Chimpy could clarify this whole "sovereignty" thing. Oops. Maybe not.

Donald Rumsfeld: same ol', same ol' ...

SecDef Donald Rumsfeld, being a condescending asshole as usual. As Holden asks, how much longer are some members of Congress going to put up with him? It's not like they can fire him or anything, but it would make my day to read that Robert Byrd punched him out in the hallway or something.

Friday, February 18, 2005

All Jonah, all the time.

OK, this makes my life easier. Apparently, a recent commenter has a site devoted entirely to
slapping around Jonah Goldberg. I guess that makes sense since Goldberg is such a dick, just keeping up with his idiocy is a full-time job.

And speaking of totally classless dickwads ... Well, at least one of Goldberg's Corner colleagues knows how to cut through the fluff to get to the really meaty issues of the day.

From the best and the brightest to the worst and the stupidest.

So, on the one hand, we have
Bob Herbert's excellent piece detailing the administration's schizophrenic attitude towards Syria. And, since the universe prefers balance, we have a piece of dishonest swill from the Washington Post's Charles Krauthammer.

As Bob Somerby would say, given how easy it is to figure out the fundamentals of Social Security, try, just try, to believe that a regular WaPo columnist could write shit like this:

Let's start with basics. The Social Security system has no trust fund. No lockbox. When you pay your payroll tax every year, the money is not converted into gold bars and shipped to some desert island, ready for retrieval when you turn 65. The system is pay as you go. The money goes to support that year's Social Security recipients. What's left over is "lent" to the federal Treasury. And gets entirely spent. It vanishes. In return, a piece of paper gets deposited in a vault in West Virginia saying that the left hand of the government owes money to the right hand of the government.

These pieces of paper might be useful for rolling cigars. They will not fund your retirement. Your Leisure World greens fees will be coming from the payroll taxes of young people during the years you grow old.

Your so-called "liberal media" in action.

BONUS TRACK: If you want to ask Krauthammer how he reconciles his fantasy world with the reality described at the SS web site, drop him an e-mail at I'm sure he doesn't get enough fan mail.

: Turns out Media Matters is all over this, too. Um ... do I really have to explain how this whole trust fund works again?

OK, so it's the "Axis of Sometimes Evil".

Following a link from
Cathie, we find the NY Times' Bob Herbert asking a good question:

The United States has long purported to be outraged over Syria's bad behavior, the latest flash point being the possible Syrian involvement in the assassination of the former Lebanese prime minister, Rafik Hariri.

From the U.S. perspective, Syria is led by a gangster regime that has, among other things, sponsored terrorism, aided the insurgency in Iraq and engaged in torture. So here's the question. If Syria is such a bad actor - and it is - why would the Bush administration seize a Canadian citizen at Kennedy Airport in New York, put him on an executive jet, fly him in shackles to the Middle East and then hand him over to the Syrians, who promptly tortured him?

Um, yeah. That is kind of an interesting question. Perhaps our ambassador can bring it up with their ambassador. And does this mean we can grab some American who just happens to be visiting, toss him in irons and ship him off to, say, a Sunni-controlled section of Iraq? That would seem to be only fair, no?

I'm thinking, of course, of Jonah Goldberg.

The Daily Show being just bloggerific.


You have the basic right to shut the fuck up about your basic rights.

It was just yesterday that I read (somewhere) how Conservative Party leader and charisma black hole Stephen Harper claimed that there is no "basic right" to gay marriage. Based on his words, it appears that we have two different kinds of "rights".

First, there's your ordinary, no-big-deal, run-of-the-mill, whatever kind of rights. And then (if I read Harper correctly) there's a whole 'nother category -- your "basic" rights -- some kind of extra-special, fundamental, inherent, irrevocable, can't-touch-this kind of rights, seemingly interwoven into the very fabric of spacetime and not open to debate. And apparently, some lucky people got those rights, and some people don't. But it's always amusing to see just what different people think are their "basic" rights. And a quick Google search can be enlightening.

As a start, here, we read that "Access to abortion is a basic right." No big surprise there, that sentiment is pretty firmly established in the pro-choice movement. Onward.

Over here, the Australian Labor Party pretty clearly feels that "Access to housing is a basic human right." Fair enough. Everyone's entitled to their opinion.

Now, over here, someone seems convinced that living-wage jobs are a basic right, and who am I to quibble?

Being Canadian, I of course would be remiss if I didn't point out that the Canada Health Act articulates health care as a basic right.

Getting a little quirkier, Western Canadian farmers clearly feel that the Canadian Wheat Board is trampling on their basic right to market their product wherever they want. And who am I to argue?

And the list goes on and on and tediously on, what with your "basic" right to equal opportunity, citizenship and food security. And, of course, we can't possibly overlook that most basic of all American rights -- the right to bear arms, the better what with to accidentally shoot your kids or drunkenly off that nagging spouse, that sort of thing.

And, finally, gays naturally believe they have a basic right to get married. These days, it seems that you can't swing a dead cat without whacking someone in their basic rights. And the most amusing thing about all of the above groups? They're all full of shit, every one of them.

There is no such thing as a "basic" right. Period.

Quite simply, there is no right that is so basic, so fundamental, so obvious or so inalienable that it can't be taken away from you. Your so-called "rights" are nothing more than those freedoms that have been given to you by your society and your government at the time, and those rights can change at a moment's notice, depending on who's running the place. Today's "basic right" could just as easily be tomorrow's historical relic.

Negroes in the United States like to claim that they have a "basic right" to be treated equally. Hello? Didn't used to be that way, remember? It's not much of a basic right if you can be deprived of it for centuries, is it? American women like to crow about their "basic right" to reproductive choice. History lesson: have you already forgotten what life was like pre-Roe v. Wade?

The point is that the concept of a "basic right" just does not exist. There is no foundation to claim that some rights are so fundamental that they have to be considered untouchable and irrevocable. Thus, when Stephen Harper proclaims that gays have no "basic right" to marriage, technically, he's right. They don't. But he's also being unspeakably stupid since that misses the point entirely.

Of course gays have no right to get married. That's the whole point of this debate, for crying out loud: they're fighting to get that right. It's not theirs at the moment, so for gays to say that this is a basic right of theirs is equally stupid. It makes no sense to hear gays claiming that they have a right to get married. They don't, and that's an asinine thing to say. It's that right that they're after.

To hear Harper announce that gays have no right to get married is as idiotic and meaningless as hearing a 1950s segregationist in America's deep south claim that blacks had no right to eat at the same food counters as whites. He would be completely correct -- they didn't have that right. But they sure as hell went out and got it, didn't they?

Thus, when you hear ignorant bigots like Stephen Harper state that gays don't have the right to get married, well, duh, yeah, we understand that. Rather, you have to interpret Harper as if he's saying that they don't deserve the right, which is a very different statement indeed.

So, note to matrimonially-minded gays -- don't get into a pissing contest with Harper about how you have a right to get hitched. You don't. But the next time he makes the claim, why not try just agreeing with him? Sure, you admit, you don't have the right. You're not going to argue that point. But you think you deserve it. And make him address that. Make Harper actually use the word. Make him say, "Gays don't deserve the right." I'm willing to bet he's suddenly going to get awfully uncomfortable.

ADDENDUM: Upon rereading, I don't think I made one of my major points as clearly as I could have, so let me take another shot at it.

There's no question that Stephen Harper and his merry band of bigots don't want to allow gays to marry, but it's how they say it that's so revealing. If they were honest and upfront about it, they'd say something like, "We don't want to give gays the right to marry." Or, perhaps, "We don't think gays deserve the right to marry." And note how either of those make it clear that this is a personal choice on their part, which puts their bigotry front and centre.

However, rather than admit that this is a choice on his part, Harper weaselly tries to fob this off on some mythical concept of "basic rights". "Look," Harper seems to be saying, "I'd like to help, really. But, see, there are these 'basic rights' over there in that box. And I've looked through there and, gosh, I just can't find the one that says you faggots can get hitched. It's not like I didn't try, but I checked the box. No basic right. Sorry, but my hands are tied."

But, as we've already established, there is no box of basic human rights. Rights are whatever the people in power decide to hand out and, if he wanted to, Harper could give out that particular right with the stroke of a pen. Instead, by shifting the blame to the (mythical) basic rights box, Harper seems to be saying, "Hey, it's not my fault. It's just the way the universe is structured. What can I do?"

In short, Harper is being a coward. Rather than take ownership of his own bigotry, he chooses to shift the blame, and that's why people should call him on this. When he claims that there is no basic right that allows gays to marry, the obvious retort should be, "We know there's no such right. The question is, do you want there to be such a right? Are you willing to give us that right?" And make him say no. Make him own up to his bigotry.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

When I grow up, I want to be just like Jonah.

Man, there seems to be a lot of this going around.
Young Republicans support Iraq war, but not all are willing to join the fight:

Young Republicans gathered here for their party's national convention are united in applauding the war in Iraq, supporting the U.S. troops there and calling the U.S. mission a noble cause.

But there's no such unanimity when they're asked a more personal question: Would you be willing to put on the uniform and go to fight in Iraq?

In more than a dozen interviews, Republicans in their teens and 20s offered a range of answers. Some have friends in the military in Iraq and are considering enlisting; others said they can better support the war by working politically in the United States; and still others said they think the military doesn't need them because the U.S. presence in Iraq is sufficient.

"Frankly, I want to be a politician. I'd like to survive to see that," said Vivian Lee, 17, a war supporter visiting the convention from Los Angeles.

Others said they could contribute on the home front.

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

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

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

Similarly, 20-year-old Jeff Shafer, a University of Pennsylvania student, said vital work needs to be done in the United States. There are Republican policies to maintain and protect and an economy to sustain, Shafer said.

"And besides," added Shafer, "I kind of don't want to be killed. That would really suck."

More Republican moral values. Part 36,714.

Apparently, you can start practising those Republican moral values
at an early age:

The young Nevada man designated to chair the upcoming 2005 Young Republican National Convention in Las Vegas has been accused of embezzling registration fees from around the country to pay off bar tabs, personal loans and credit card debts.

Nevada's national committeeman for Young Republicans filed a criminal complaint Monday with the Reno Police Department alleging Nathan Taylor received more than $25,000 in registration fees and donations through his corporation, YRNC 2005, and spent almost all of it in the past year for personal use...

The complaint also includes a bank statement showing withdrawals from the YRNC 2005 account at Bully's bar in Carson City, at a PF Chang's restaurant, at Shell Oil, at Mandalay Bay and twice for $200 in cash during a 30-day period.

And when you're busted, as a member of the "personal responsibility and accountability" party, well, there's only one course of action:

Taylor, 29, who said he is a political science student at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, denies all accusations.

"I'm sure you understand it's politics," Taylor said. "There's a personal grudge against me that is being portrayed against me and that corporation."

So, quick review of the landscape so far. Prostitutes? Check. Pornographic web sites? Check. Embezzlement? Check. Blowjobs? No blowjobs? We're good, then.

: I had already posted this piece before I noticed that Kos had done it as well. Sigh.

Doughy Pantload, lowering the bar yet again.

Apparently, there's nothing so stupid that Jonah Goldberg won't say it. Like

Okay, in the grand spirit of airborne-laser-volcano-lancing, I would like to ask why we don't have really cool underground drilling vehicles -- a la Journey to the Center of the Earth ...

Gee, could it be because they didn't have a drilling machine in that book/movie? Stupid putz. But, eventually, someone actually tries to educate Goldberg in simple geophysics (oh, yeah, that's going to take hold):

OKAY ALREADY [Jonah Goldberg]

More email like this keeps pouring in:


The answer is the same as why we don't have nuclear attack submarines that can sail two miles below the surface of the Pacific - pressure increases with depth. In rock, both pressure and HEAT increase with depth. Get in touch with someone from the American Petroleum Institute and ask them what the temperature and pressure is at some of the lower wells drilled in the Anadarko Basin - it'll astound you. Rock at that temperature is 'elastic' - it will actually flow. At a depth of between 8 and 40 miles, it's a thick semi-liquid mass that's in slow but constant movement (that's why, when the Indus plate slipped down under the Burma plate, it will eventually cause the earthquakes on the backbone of Sumatra to erupt - an eddy current will form, increasing the heat in a narrow zone along the new bottom edge of the subducted plate - ask a geophysicist or geomorphologist).

Oh, yeah, Goldberg's going to drop everything he's doing and find himself a geomorphologist so he can stop making a total dick of himself. Sure, that can happen. And I should be getting that phone call from Angelina Jolie any minute now. Yessir, any minute now ...

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

If you can't say something nice about someone ...

... well, just say something snarky about them. Works for me.

And now, the next installment of slapping around the scientific creationists. This piece isn't overly topical (it has nothing to do with Intelligent Design), but it more than makes up for it in pure entertainment value.

One of the sleazier creationists now out doing the circuit is a pompous, know-nothing, weaselly blowhard named "Dr." Kent Hovind, for whom the title "Dr." is quoted for good reason as you'll see shortly. Hovind has his own website and, in a cesspool of other scientific illiterates, Hovind has made a name for himself thanks to a standing offer of $250,000 to anyone "who can give any empirical evidence (scientific proof) for evolution."

No, no, sit down and don't get too excited because there's absolutely no way you're going to collect. First, you can read the details here, which should already make you a bit leery since, if you read carefully, it's pretty much an unwinnable offer. Others have tried, and they've all failed, and you can read why here. Quite simply, when it comes to evaluating submissions for Hovind's prize, Hovind plays all of judge, jury and executioner, so the chances of your winning are somewhere in the neighborhood of, well, squat.

But that's not the fun part. What's more entertaining is trying to figure out how someone who's as much of an ignoramus as Hovind managed to get a doctorate. And those of you who have at least a passing experience with academia should get a real kick out of this article. It's not like reading it will make you any smarter, but at least you'll know what you're up against.

Oh, and Patriot University, Hovind's alma mater? That would be this place. Suddenly, things make a lot more sense, don't they?

Scott McClellan and alcohol -- the only combination that makes him bearable.

Introducing the new Scottie McClellan drinking game. One shot every time President Chimpy is
"looking forward" to something. Another shot every time he's "reaching out" to someone.

And if Scottie
disagrees with someone's characterization, two shots and you get to club the nearest freeper into unconsciousness with your beer bottle. Kind of a win-win situation all around.

But what if Bill Clinton had done it?

Joe Conason
asks the same question that countless folks have been asking for months -- how is it that George W. Chimpster can get away with the same stuff that would have had Republicans howling for Bill Clinton's head on a pike at the gates of the city?

Concerned Citizen: "George Bush is gutting environmental protection rules!"
Republican: "Yeah, what of it?"
CC: "George Bush just squandered hundreds of billions of dollars of federal surplus, and driven the country into record-breaking deficits, just to give his rich friends obscene tax breaks!"
R: "And your point is?"
CC: "George Bush is trying to dismantle the safety net of Social Security!"
R: "Ho hum."
CC: "George Bush lied the country into a disastrous war on Iraq that cost almost 1500 lives and $300 billion!"
R: "Yeah ... whatever."
CC: "Bill Clinton got a blowjob in the White House."
R: "JEEZUS H. CHRIST! That perverted, immoral, baby-killing bastard! Impeachment's too good for him! He needs to be driven from office, hounded mercilessly, stripped naked and left to die on an ice floe!"
CC: "George Bush arranged for a gay, male hooker to have access to the White House and top-secret confidential memoes."
R: "Man, you really are starting to be kind of a pain, aren't you?"

Bush to former American POWs: Drop dead.

Even I couldn't make up a story this bizarre: the Bush administration is actually going to court to prevent former American POWs from collecting a financial judgement they were awarded for being tortured. And the best part is, it's not even U.S. money -- it's Iraqi money. Go figure.

Drinking cynically in Toronto.

If you're interested in sharing an evening of drink and snark, I'm planning on being somewhere in Toronto on Saturday, the 26th, and am always up for a place that offers decent, locally-brewed beers. Suggestions? Somewhere north of downtown would be my choice, but I like to keep an open mind. Well, OK, on some subjects.

ID proponent Michael Behe gets his comeuppance.

You don't even need the context to appreciate
this beatdown.

We're ready to walk. We mean it. We really, really mean it. Really.

Last chance. We're serious.
Your really, truly last chance. We're getting up from the table now. We're walking towards the door. Our hand's on the doorknob ... we're turning it now ...

Oh, for Chrissake, will you people just shut the f**k up, call it a season and go golfing, already?

All right, I'm getting a little creeped out here.

There's harmless fetishes, and then there's, well,
really disturbing ones. OK, this is just plain weird.

And your life insurance is up to date, right?

From the "Not noticing the really disturbing trend" department, we have perhaps the next prime minister of Iraq who
needs badly to buy a clue:

The shy family doctor who has become the leading candidate for the job of Iraqi prime minister said yesterday that ending the country's rampant violence is his top priority and that U.S. troops will remain as long as they are needed to achieve that goal...

"The security situation is at the top," he said. As a result, [Ibrahim al-Jaafari] will not push for the United States and its allies to withdraw their troops from Iraq any time soon, he said.

So, American troops shouldn't count on coming home any time soon. And, given what typically happens to overt supporters of U.S. policy in Iraq, al-Jaafari probably shouldn't be buying any green bananas in the near future.

... then you put your hands over your ears and start humming loudly.

From today's
Mope and Wail, we have the touching, heartwarming, true-life story of how terrorists can attack Hydro-Quebec power installations without breaking a sweat:

The French service of the CBC aired a report exposing apparent security flaws at two major Hydro-Québec power installations yesterday, minutes after the utility failed in a legal bid to block the broadcast.

A Superior Court judge rejected Hydro-Québec's request for a temporary injunction to stop the CBC from airing a television item on security at two hydroelectric plants, one of which provides electricity to the United States.

In the item, a camera crew wanders unfettered into the heart of the huge Manic 5 and LG-2 installations in Northern Quebec. There is no sign of a security guard or surveillance camera, and doors are not locked; at one point, the crew walks right up to a control panel.

The Radio-Canada reporter, Christian Latreille, said in an interview that he wanted to explore security measures put in place after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. He says in his report that he encountered only a single Hydro-Québec employee over the course of two days.

Hydro-Québec sought an injunction late Monday to block the broadcast, originally scheduled for that day. In its arguments yesterday, the utility said the broadcast posed a national-security risk and could incite someone to target Hydro-Québec's power stations.

And you thought shooting the messenger was an exclusively American tradition.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Your homework assignment on Intelligent [sic] Design.

I should have another installment of Intelligent Design Smackdown™ by tomorrow morning sometime but, for those of you who just can't wait that long, let me recommend
this piece, which should keep you amused for the time being.

The Corner's Doughy Pantload, snarking waaaaay out of his league.

Hard to believe, but The Corner's Jonah Goldberg, scars still healing from his
savage beatdown from Juan Cole, manages to provoke a slap upside the head from yet another intellectual superior. Goldberg apparently still hasn't figured that that aching sensation in his nether regions is from getting hoofed in the nads repeatedly.

The latest beating (as diplomatic as it is) comes from the aforementioned Robin Wright, of whom Goldberg snidely writes:

On the night after the election Robin Wright seemed to have a different take on the Iraqi election. I guess someone changed her mind...

If you're Goldberg, you're pretty much assured of guessing wrong, as Wright takes the trouble to very politely and courteously point out:

Jonah - Someone forwarded your comments to me. Never hesitate to contact me directly. I'm always grateful for input, including tough criticism...

In the first place, it shows a stunning amount of class for Wright to actually take the time to answer Goldberg's moronic snark. On top of that, she writes:

I suspect the criticism stems from a bit of confusion about the point I was trying to make; I fully accept the blame in perhaps not making it well enough.

That's right, she's graceful enough to apologize for perhaps not being sufficiently precise. And how does Doughy Pantload respond?

By the way, I have to say that I'm impressed by Wright's response, but more by her willingness to respond. The merits of her original story can be debated of course. But I don't see how there's any downside for reporters like Wright to do this sort of thing. It's classy, it's somewhat disarming and it shows she listens to criticism. Oh, and since a couple of you asked, I did ask her if I could post it before I threw it up in the Corner.

Perhaps I missed it, but do you see an actual apology anywhere in there?

Amazing how a couple years, $300 billion and 1400 dead troops can change one's outlook.

Yes, it can give you
a whole new perspective.

Just in case you need a primer on U.S. Social Security ...

Given the complete swill that's being published on Social Security on the net these days ("It's bankrupt! It's
not bankrupt! It's going bankrupt! It'll turn you gay!"), if you really need a simple primer, you should start at the only reliable source there is -- the U.S. government's own Social Security Administration web site. It's not left wing, it's not right wing, it's the official government agency so you have no excuse to be stupefyingly ignorant about some of the basic facts.

As a start, I recommend the link "About Social Security's Future", where you can learn enough basic information about the current controversy to not sound like a total idiot when it comes up in conversation. Learn that:
  1. Yes, Virginia, there really is a Social Security trust fund.
  2. No, Social Security can't go "bankrupt".
  3. Yes, George Bush is a lying sack of monkey feces.

(OK, I made that last one up.) Anyway, you get the idea. Take a chance, and be the first on your block to actually know what you're talking about. That'll make you special, and I mean that in a good way.

Backup! We need backup!

Oh, good. It's nice to see I'm not the only person who thinks the Grope and Flail's Marcus Gee is a
complete right-wing loon. (Apologies to non-Canadian readers, who won't have a clue what I'm talking about.)

Say it ain't so, Scottie!

Uh oh ... we might have found that
Bush "man date" after all:

RAW STORY has been told that the White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan visited a gay bar in Austin, Texas, on March 19, 1995. The date was placed exactly as a local memorial service was held on the same day.

The source, who would only comment on condition of anonymity, reserved comment on whether McClellan was actually gay, but said he was frequently seen at gay clubs. Another source also confirmed this account.

“He was often seen in gay clubs in Austin, Texas and was comfortable being there,” the Texan said. “He’s been seen in places that normal people who are looking for heterosexual relationships are not seen alone.”

OK, that would kind of explain the suddenly husky tone and lilting touch of desire in Scottie's voice every time he called on Jeffie.

The five stages of right-wing wanker rhetoric.

mahigan, over at
True North, links to an entertaining piece which proposes a universal shorthand for the "Balbulican Dismissal Chart", or "BUD" for short. This so reminded me of my own wanker's four stages of debate that I decided to ever-so-slightly update the list here. For your edification, the right-wing wanker's five stages of intellectual discourse:
  1. Unreasoning and uncompromising embrace of utterly nonsensical and indefensible position.
  2. Subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) redefinition of basic terms to suit the argument.
  3. Unexpected change of subject or moving of goalposts to desperately avoid impending defeat.
  4. Sudden admission of error, accompanied by insistence that it's no big deal, why are you taking it all so seriously, like, chill out, man.
  5. Reappearance one week later, starting all over from step one as if none of the above had ever happened.

And just when did Hungary get so excited over Canadian cynicism?

My recent sitemeter output shows a flurry of hits from Hungary of all places, and from different domains to boot. I can't imagine that Hungarians suddenly developed a taste for Canadian snark, so I'm a bit puzzled as to what's going on here.

Thoughts from the more experienced bloggers?

P.S.: The sitemeter output shows only the top-level domain name, so there's nothing to identify you below that, in case you were worried about your identity being compromised. Like I said, I'm just curious.

Oops. Hang on, dammit, we're not ready yet!

Sometimes, you go to war with the ballistic missile shield you have, not the ballistic missile shield you might want or wish to have:

President Bush's planned ballistic missile shield suffered another setback on Monday when an interceptor missile again failed to launch during a test of the U.S. missile defense system...

"There is no indication that there is anything wrong with the actual interceptor," said [Missile Defense Agency spokesman Rick] Lehner.

That is, other than its actual inability to, you know, well, get off the ground.

Maybe he was just adopted.

From the National Post, we have Canadian export and far-right wanker David Frum, writing of the National Archives of Canada and the Department of Canadian Heritage's efforts to
archive the works of his mother and Canadian broadcast icon Barbara Frum:

What was the quality that enabled her to do her work so well? Intelligence, precision of mind and hard work all contributed. But ultimately, her achievement was one of character: of empathy and of humility.

Which demonstrates that, despite what you've heard, sometimes the apple really does roll a long way from the tree.

Um ... that was humour, right?

From this morning's National Post, we have one of Canada's intellectually and culturally "special" Members of Parliament,
weighing in with his opinion of gay marriage:

Conservative MP Jason Kenney says gays have every right to marry whoever they want - as long as it isn't someone of the same sex.

The Calgary MP made the remarks during a sometimes heated 40-minute discussion with members of the Toronto-area Punjabi language media, a recording of which was made available to The Canadian Press.

"The fact is that homosexuals aren't barred from marrying under Canadian law," Kenney said at the meeting of the Punjabi Press Club last month in Brampton, Ont. The group represents more than a dozen Punjabi-language newspapers.

Former NDP MP Svend Robinson - an outspoken gay rights advocate and Canada's first publicly declared gay MP - was once married to a woman, noted Kenney. He also said that NDP MP Libby Davies was once married to a man.

"Marriage is open to everybody, as long as they're a man and a woman," said Kenney.

There is no suitable punchline for this. Really.

The NHL hockey season: Going, going, ...

... going, going, going, going, going, going ... zzzzzzzzzzz ...

Feminism, from the male perspective.

Now, this is what happens when people write about stuff of which they are wholly ignorant.

Monday, February 14, 2005

And in a parallel universe ...

Juan Cole gives us
the speech Bush should have given.

Hands up, everyone who didn't see THIS coming.

From the WaPo, "
After Bush Leaves Office, His Budget's Costs Balloon":

For President Bush, the budget sent to Congress last week outlines a painful path to meeting his promise to bring down the federal budget deficit by the time he leaves office in 2009. But for the senators and governors already jockeying to succeed him, the numbers released in recent days add up to a budgetary landmine that could blow up just as the next president moves into the Oval Office.

Congress and the White House have become adept at passing legislation with hidden long-term price tags, but those huge costs began coming into view in Bush's latest spending plan. Even if Bush succeeds in slashing the deficit in half in four years, as he has pledged, his major policy prescriptions would leave his successor with massive financial commitments that begin rising dramatically the year he relinquishes the White House, according to an analysis of new budget figures.

Bush's extensive tax cuts, the new Medicare prescription drug benefit and, if it passes, his plan to redesign Social Security all balloon in cost several years from now. His plan to partially privatize Social Security, for instance, would cost a total of $79.5 billion in the last two budgets that Bush will propose as president and an additional $675 billion in the five years that follow. New Medicare figures likewise show the cost almost twice as high as originally estimated, largely because it mushrooms long after the Bush presidency.

Hey, no problem, we're doing fine. Pay no attention to those maxed out credit cards behind the curtain.

Evolution textbook disclaimer stickers -- the lighter side.

I'm sure you can have some fun with these.

Oooooh ... that worked out really well, didn't it?

the Washington Post:

When the Bush administration decided to invade Iraq two years ago, it envisioned a quick handover to handpicked allies in a secular government that would be the antithesis of Iran's theocracy -- potentially even a foil to Tehran's regional ambitions.

But, in one of the greatest ironies of the U.S. intervention, Iraqis instead went to the polls and elected a government with a strong religious base -- and very close ties to the Islamic republic next door. It is the last thing the administration expected from its costly Iraq policy -- $300 billion and counting, U.S. and regional analysts say.

Man, that didn't turn out at all well, did it?

Added Rami Khouri, Arab analyst and editor of Beirut's Daily Star: "The idea that the United States would get a quick, stable, prosperous, pro-American and pro-Israel Iraq has not happened. Most of the neoconservative assumptions about what would happen have proven false."

Yeah, and it's not like anyone was suggesting anything that heretical, were they?

The results have long-term implications. For decades, both Republican and Democratic administrations played Baghdad and Tehran off each other to ensure neither became a regional giant threatening or dominant over U.S. allies, notably Saudi Arabia and the oil-rich Gulf sheikdoms.

But now, Cole said, Iraq and Iran are likely to take similar positions on many issues, from oil prices to U.S. policy on Iran. "If the United States had decided three years ago to bomb Iran, it would have produced joy in Baghdad," he added. "Now it might produce strong protests from Baghdad."

Conversely, the Iraqi secular democrats backed most strongly by the Bush administration lost big. During his State of the Union address last year, Bush invited Adnan Pachachi, a longtime Sunni politician and then-president of the Iraqi Governing Council, to sit with first lady Laura Bush. Pachachi's party fared so poorly in the election that it won no seats in the national assembly.

Oh, well. Shit happens. Things will be different in the invasion of Iran. Trust us. You'll see.

(CC News - Mar 8, 2009) In a televised press conference, U.S. president Jeb Bush admitted that his military invasion of Iran to seize its weapons of mass destruction had not gone as well as he had hoped, but he was still optimistic. "Don't worry," said Bush, "I've been assured that our intervention in North Korea will be a cakewalk."

Condoleezza Rice. Still a liar.

Aaaaand ...
let's go to the video.

Dear South: Bite me.

Just perusing
Cathie from Canada, and was reminded of this wickedly acerbic bit of prose. You might want to send the kids into the other room first.

OK, I really don't know WHAT to make of this. Seriously.

Once again, credit to Atrios for the link, we have
the story of 29-year-old Johnnie Chennault who, after having joined the Navy Reserve, is preparing to ship out to Iraq later this month, leaving behind his wife. And 11 children.

No, that's not a misprint. 11 children. At the age of 29. What the hell?

The point of Atrios' link is, not surprisingly, to emphasize the whiny, pansy-ass, chickenhawkery of right-wing crybaby Jonah Goldberg, who's too much of a coward to get his ass shot off in Iraq, and defends his cowardice with the fact he has a daughter. That's right. One. Singular. And yet we have Johnnie, with his 11 kids, marching off to war.

But, really, there's a bigger issue here, isn't there? What the hell is a 29-year-old doing with 11 children?! According to the article, four of them are hers from a previous marriage. (Insert obligatory snark here about the so-called "sanctity" of marriage.)

But still, at what point do you have to say enough is enough? As the article states:

Chennault, 29, had inquired about enlisting in the Army, the Air Force, the Marines and the Navy, but they all told him it was against policy to take someone who has that many children to support on a newly enlisted man's pay.

And maybe this should have been a clue for Chennault that he was making some really bad career choices. It's not like he's independently wealthy -- he's an assistant manager in the auto department at Sears, for God's sake! And unless Sears is paying a lot more than they used to, I can't imagine his salary is going to let him live comfortably while supporting a wife and a football team's worth of younguns. But here's my take on this, for what it's worth.

The article's theme is, naturally, about the noble sacrifice and selflessness of Chennault as he prepares to defend freedom, liberty, liberty, liberty, freedom, freedom, liberty and Halliburton. I don't see it that way. I see it as Chennault being one of the biggest assholes on the planet. As you can see in this excerpt from the article:

While her husband is away, Ronda Chennault will rely more on her parents and on their church, South Haven Baptist. The children will have to do more for themselves.

So, to indulge Chennault in his obvious obsession to play soldier, the burden is being dumped on his wife, his kids, her parents and their church. If all of them are happy with that, far be it from me to snark about it, I guess. But here's where I draw the line:

His employer, Sears, will make up the difference in pay while he's in Iraq, an assignment Chennault thinks will last seven or eight months.

Frankly, if I was Sears, I'd tell him he's on his own. As the article points out, Chennault has worked for Sears for nine years, but he completely voluntarily joined the Navy Reserve only two years ago. In short, he clearly already had a serious family commitment before he decided to make that military commitment. No one forced him. It was entirely his choice, and a pretty obviously stupid one under the circumstances. And now, he wants his employer to subsidize that stupidity.

It would be one thing if Chennault had already been a long-time Reserve member before collecting a passel of kids. But to have voluntarily joined the Reserve in his position is plain idiocy and I wouldn't criticize Sears one bit if they took the attitude that, hey, your choice, you deal with it. And, no, your job won't be waiting for you when you get back.

The fact that all of the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines turned him down for obvious reasons should have been a clue. If Chennault is too stupid to accept free clues, I don't see why anyone else should have to suffer the consequences.

Republican mathematics.

Following a post over at
Eschaton, we get to a recent piece of Brad Delong's (it's worth reading the whole piece) where he quotes Michael Kinsley to hilarious effect on the subject of Social Security (and innumeracy in general):

Bush might as well be proposing legislation that two plus two is five. And if that happened, there would be no shortage of Republicans prepared to endorse this view, experts on arithmetic to declare that it is a very difficult question, research to indicate that the answer may lie anywhere between 2.3 and 7.09, moderate Washington sages to urge caution, media to report both sides of the question...

Well said, Mikey.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

The party of fiscal responsibility and accountability?

Oh, yeah, that would be the Republicans.

What to do when Intelligent Design comes to town.

And what exactly
do you do when the scientific inanity that is Intelligent Design comes to your town? When the local newspaper publishes an editorial suggesting that, hey, why not allow "balanced treatment" in high school science classes? When letter writers start clamoring for it? When local church groups begin advocating for it? When the school board actually puts it on the agenda for their next open forum? Well, even if you don't understand a whole lot about ID or biological evolution, there is one thing you definitely can do.

First, you have to get a copy of Michael Behe's recent NY Times opinion piece on ID. (If you can't get it there, you can find it at the Discovery Institute's site here.) Behe is the closest thing to a godfather for the entire ID movement there is, so there's no conceivable way ID proponents can give you a hard time for quoting anything he says. (In fact, Behe's work has been slammed pretty thoroughly by a number of people, and a summary of some of that criticism can be found here, if you're feeling ambitious. But (and this is important), for what follows, there is absolutely no need to criticize Behe's work itself. In fact, quite the opposite, as you'll see.)

And now, read Behe's paper, at least as far as the following passage:

Intelligent design proponents do question whether random mutation and natural selection completely explain the deep structure of life. But they do not doubt that evolution occurred.

And that's your money quote. Have it handy, and be prepared to use it as follows. Whenever the topic of ID comes up, it will be your job to say (ever so sweetly now):

"Well, yes, I've heard of this Intelligent Design stuff, and it sure sounds interesting but, as I understand it (pulling out copy of Behe's article here with an ever so subtle smirk), they don't doubt at all that evolution actually occurred."

Then watch the consternation on the faces of those who weren't aware of that little detail.

You see, the basic strategy of the pro-ID movement is to use ID as a wedge to start chipping away at evolution's credibility, and to eventually replace it in the school system with ID and, more generally, scientific creationism, and this is typically done at a local level, using letter writers, church congregations, bogus "concerned parents" coalitions and stealth, creationist school board members. However, the instant these people start getting revved up, all you need to do is produce Behe's quote and the whole conga line comes screeching to a halt, since that's not exactly what they wanted to hear.

You need to be prepared to produce Behe's quote in conversations, letters to the editor, school board meetings and any other open forums. And it doesn't even have to be in a confrontational way. As I've already mentioned, you can be the epitome of sweetness, saying something like, "Sure, I think it might be interesting to check into this ID thing, as long as everyone understands that, according to one of its own developers, there's no doubt that evolution occurred, right? So that's not part of the debate, right? Right?"

And how can they argue? You'll be amazed at just how quickly the air leaves the balloon.