Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Pols to watch

Feingold scores a home run in a discussion of Iraq.
Fourth, he used a chessboard metaphor to explain that the fight against Al Qaeda is taking place in dozens of countries around the world. Therefore, what the President is advocating, according to Feingold, is that we fight only in "one square" and not on the whole board.
Read the whole thing for some other plain speaking that hits all the right reality notes. Forget comparisons with Kerry: this looks hearteningly like plain ol' leadership.

Quote of the day

clipVisual edition.
This applies in many realms...

It's sad what passes for bold and clear-sighted these days

Like, um, do your job and take some responsibility along the way.
eesh. Well, at least somebody's saying it.

Balance at home (installment the next)

Bitch Ph.D. has a post today responding to the article that I previously discussed here, which concerns the presence of an expectational "glass ceiling" for women in their home-life. She focuses on the prescriptions that the original article gave for avoiding this trap by making explicit choices about your own financial power and the sort of person you decide to marry -- Bitch thinks that the notion that marrying a liberal/feminist man is enough is misguided, and she goes further on some points that ring true to me. This one in particular, woke me up:
To begin with, don't, for god's sake, change your name when you marry. What are the arguments for changing your name? "It's easier?" "It will make us more a family?" "It will be better for the children?" Do you not realize that already, even before your marriage begins, you are conceding that making things "easy," making the two of you "a family," worrying about "the children" is your job, not his? If having the same last name makes such a big difference to the two of you, let him change his damn name.
We like to think that the politicization of this choice is sort of a remnant of the past, that it doesn't mean much that more women now choose to take their husband's last name (as I learned from Maureen Dowd's earlier screed) But I never thought about the self-training that goes on when a woman accepts the notion that unity is hers to create or prohibit. Perhaps terribly obvious to everyone else, but very striking to me this morning.

(She has a number of other suggestions too, which some will find excessively strident, but which I think are wise and telling -- if we can't trust the previous generation to have raised competent human beings of both genders, then there may be some need for us to "train" one another in some of the deficient realms, and to consciously structure our lives to offset the inequities. If you realize that, then you can decide how to handle things. If you just accept your fate, both partners are at the mercy of the least prepared.)

The myth of the choosy unemployed bloke

Greg Saunders, also writing at This Modern World, takes on the "jobs Americans won't do" tagline, pointing out that the missing words are "for this little pay."
What people like the George W. Bush don’t understand is that capitalism is not a one-way street. When the demand for workers is high and the supply of laborers is low, the rational solution would be for employers to raise wages, increase benefits, or both to ensure that supply catches up to demand. But that would mean actually spending more money, and we can’t have that.
We don't need to make it easier for immigrants to get such jobs (although there's plenty of room for handling immigrant issues much better), but make it harder for businesses to run on a model that depends on sub-subsistance wages. I'd like to see some conservative pundit run with that angle.

Tom Tomorrow lays down the snark

SparkyOver at This Modern World, Tom raises an eyebrow over some recent idiotic op-ed pieces at the NYTimes. The "paper of record" doesn't seem too worried about its grounding in facts these days, and Tom has the links to do the job for them. Most satisfying...

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Public relations snafu

Looks like the leaked news of onetime Administration plans to bomb press outlet Al Jazeera (see here), which made a small splash here and then quickly sank out of view, has created huge waves around other parts of the world. Upyernoz has the story, which ranges from ongoing European coverage to attempts by Al Jazeera to connect the dots and to put public faces on their [nervous] staffers. In particular, take a look at this sobering poster over at the blog called (also soberingly) Don't Bomb Us. Yes, we continue to set a shining example to inspire the huddled masses...

Brain-drain getting worse

Looks like the Bush administration can't attract economists to the nation's top economic advisory and planning posts. I guess the word's gotten around that intellectuals don't get much respect from the White House, but it's gotten pretty bad when the prestige and connections don't offset the professional frustration anymore...

(via Echidne)

This is one of the funniest things I've seen in a while

cat vid shotAnd at the same time, it captures the magical attraction of cats. Perhaps it will explain the popularity of cat-blogging to the uninitiated...

Funny Cat Clips

(via Bitch, Ph.D.)

The forgotten art of accepting responsibility

One guy reminds us what it looks like. Ok, he's a crook, but he's not trying to pretend otherwise, and I think many of us could hear echoes here of grandparents and others of a seemingly lost generation that believed its own stories of honor and personal responsibility. A flash of sympathy amidst the schadenfreude...

Monday, November 28, 2005

Musings spurred by the change of seasons

The dry weed photo posted with the quote below, and many of the nature close-ups used here from time to time, are borrowed from Paula's House of Toast, a ruminative blog that often does through photography what I might hope to do with a successful haiku (or perhaps journal of haiku). Her post from yesterday is a fantastic musing on the coming of the cold season and on thoughts and expectations for the coming few weeks (and for all periods of expectation):


A wander that is likely to appeal particularly to readers with a bit of a spiritual bent . . .

Quote of the day (belated holiday edition)

dry weedsThe greatest thing is to give thanks for everything. He who has learned this knows what it means to live. He has penetrated the whole mystery of life: giving thanks for everything."
- Albert Schweitzer
(via whiskey river)

What was that about the party of values?

the elephant's new clothesThe corruption probes continue to spread among federal GOP legislators, as the sinking ships Abramoff and DeLay suck everything nearby into their giant drainward-headed vortex. Don't miss this state-by-state scorecard of the scandals.

Update: Of course, the biggest confession so far is now the head of the House defense Appropriations subcommittee, taking bribes for contracts, um, during a war...
(via Atrios)

Never say we don't cover all topics here

Philadelphia Will Do offers the public service tip that laptop use can adversely affect male fertility by increasing scrotal temperature [today's Phrase of the Day]. Let's just say that the temperature change is way more than that achieved by the vaunted switch from briefs to boxers... The scientists who performed the current study intend to follow up by looking for long-term affects of repeated laptop use -- let's hope they don't find any, or an entire generation might just get wiped.

Everybody joining the chorus

In case all of these voices weren't enough, now it appears that most of the officers on the ground think it's time for a pull-out from occupation of Iraq. A striking report included in that link is that young officers are being asked to make up foreign policy on the fly, with little or no guidance. Not a recipe for instilling confidence in the local population!

Goodbye, Mr. Miyagi!

Pat Morita died on Friday. It should be noted that in real life he spoke with no accent whatsoever. He also had the unfortunate distinction of having been interred during World War II. Here's the Wikipedia entry on him, and there's a short obituary at the NYTimes.

(via XOverboard)

Chipper Monday news

Because the holidays in the US bring nothing but more unpleasant developments in Iraq. Top cheer-bringers?ouch
  1. Apparently human rights abuses are now worse than under Saddam,
  2. independent contractors are shooting up civilians with little discretion, apparently under the impression that they are playing Doom (even keeping souvenir film of the fun).
But you can see why we'd be shamed if we pulled out...

Sunday, November 27, 2005

While you were eating turkey

Two bits of absurdity around the nation:

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Wednesday/Thanksgiving kittens

(Just so nobody gets too starved for spotty cats over the holidays)

kittens loll away the holidays

See you all on Monday!

Previous appearances of Pixel and Pasha:
cones, forms of love, lounging, more games, P&P wrestling, catspage

Oppression from unexpected quarters

An interesting (if somewhat galling) article at the American Prospect argues that the continuing gap between men and women in elite positions (despite their even levels at college, e.g.) reflects not so much a glass ceiling in employment as a glass ceiling at home -- that relationship expectations (their partners' and their own), and particularly those relating to marriage and child-rearing roles, continue to put demands on women that put them at a nearly insurmountable disadvantage in their careers.
Conservatives contend that the dropouts prove that feminism “failed” because it was too radical, because women didn’t want what feminism had to offer. In fact, if half or more of feminism’s heirs (85 percent of the women in my Times sample), are not working seriously, it’s because feminism wasn’t radical enough: It changed the workplace but it didn’t change men, and, more importantly, it didn’t fundamentally change how women related to men.
By framing feminism as not about power (and its gendered distribution) but about *choice*, the movement did nothing to address the fundamental expectations of home life, with the result that the "work" and "family" option tracks look much as they did 40 years ago.
Here’s the feminist moral analysis that choice avoided: The family -- with its repetitious, socially invisible, physical tasks -- is a necessary part of life, but it allows fewer opportunities for full human flourishing than public spheres like the market or the government. This less-flourishing sphere is not the natural or moral responsibility only of women. Therefore, assigning it to women is unjust. Women assigning it to themselves is equally unjust. To paraphrase, as Mark Twain said, “A man who chooses not to read is just as ignorant as a man who cannot read.”
You may or may not agree with the author's prescriptions, but it's hard not to see much truth in her analysis. Worth finding the time to read it all (isn't there a holiday coming?)...

(via Salon's "Broadsheet")

Change in outlook

kos mapThe current red/blue map of the US looks quite a bit different these days than it did a year ago, if you judge by the President's approval ratings... A sign of things to come?

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

No really, purely intellectual motives here

The Freakonomics fellows suggest a way that incivil road behavior could be punished, both to improve the experience of driving and to develop a source of income for busy cities. Love it!

(via kos!)

Updated definitions for "democracy"

Apparently supporting free speech includes wiping critical journalistic outlets from the face of the earth. It makes you so proud . . .

proud flag

Quote of the day

Political freedom cannot exist in any land where religion controls the state, and religious freedom cannot exist in any land where the state controls religion.
- Samuel James Ervin Jr.,
lawyer, judge, and senator (1896-1985)
(via A.W.A.D.)

You wouldn't like me when I'm angry...

feministasApparently the story of public blame-the-victim mentality in Britain (see here) rather rubbed the ladies at Gendergeek the wrong way, to judge by this open letter to the British public, asking for a few clarifications.
I see that 30 per cent of you will slap any raped woman's wrist for being drunk. Could you let me have the precise alcohol/blood ratio that means it's no longer a man's responsibility to keep it in his pants if a woman says no?
Indeed. Worth reading the whole thing, just for the vicarious buzz of self-righteous anger...

How many voices make a chorus?

Anybody noticing any change in the froth level at the top??
Pretty much nope.

Update: today's cartoon by Tony Auth opines on the division of labor between Cheney and Bush on this front...

Update 2: um, Iran too? Sure, why not.

An image worth...

A cartoon at the Villiage Voice accurately pinpoints the flavor of current Administration fist-shaking against critics...

(via Breaching The Web)

Monday, November 21, 2005

Cheney enters orbit

dazed and confused...stating that if the US withdraws from Iraq, Bin Laden and Zarquawi will run the country. Somebody please tell me that this man isn't in charge of anything!

(via kos)

Um, yeesh?

Even the symbolic can become personal, and even the political can give clues symbolic of the sickness on Capitol Hill these days. This isn't the first time I've heard McCarthy referred to in admiring terms just this month! The country is scaring me more and more...

(via Atrios)

We've got a long way to go (baby)

A new study finds that around a third of people in the U.K. think women are at least partly to blame when they get raped.
For instance, more than a quarter (26%) of those asked said that they thought a women was partially or totally responsible for being raped if she was wearing sexy or revealing clothing, and more than one in five (22%) held the same view if a woman had had many sexual partners.

Around one in 12 people (8%) believed that a woman was totally responsible for being raped if she’d had many sexual partners.
[ loss for words ]
I'd like to think that those statistics would look a lot better on this side of the pond, but I fear that the puritanical streak in our culture might support a lot of similar views...

(via Alas, a blog)

Friday, November 18, 2005

Bonus kitten

I feel kinda bad that this week's kitten-blogging (here) was so un-photogenic (or at least, unsatisfying in the cuddly kitten way). So here's a bonus shot of Pasha that I used on my cats web-page but never blogged, in part because it's blurry (although in a glamorous way) from my attempt to avoid flash.

Pasha lolls on the cat tree
15 weeks old and working her charms...

See more of Pasha periodically at her growing-up page here.

Weekend fun

A pile of backlogged goofy links to keep you busy over the weekend (or on a dull Friday afternoon):
  • Totally transfixing: a time-lapse movie of a drawing taking form. It actually goes through several incarnations, so don't cut it short.
    (via boing boing)

  • Lonely at your desk? Try visiting this cyber-kitty -- try playing with it now and then, and be sure you have the sound on...
    (via Bitch, PhD)

  • More animal fun, of an even less literal (but more literary) type: typography zoo. pretty spiff.
    (via old pal GHW)

  • The Onion does its classic job of skewering public perception in this week's piece in which a guy finds beer with Bush not all he'd imagined...

  • Coffee can be good for you! or at least
    1. it doesn't raise your blood pressure as previously thought (although Coke does)[may require Salon pass] and
    2. is a great source of antioxidants (the study recommends decaf, but after the above result, forget it!).
    (#2 via Rebecca's Pocket)

  • Even better, chocolate could have positive medicinal properties:
    1. good for your heart, and
    2. source of neutraceuticals for many ills.
    (#1 via Rebecca's Pocket; #2 via kottke)

  • And finally, for those days when you can't stay awake (or off the web) at your desk, the work blind, a sort of cubicle equivalent of those sunglasses with open eyes painted on them...
    (via boing boing)

Quote of the day

Violence as a way of achieving justice is both impractical and immoral. It is impractical because it is a descending spiral ending in destruction for all. The old law of an eye for an eye leaves everybody blind. It is immoral because it seeks to humiliate the opponent rather than win his understanding; it seeks to annihilate rather than to convert. ripplesViolence is immoral because it thrives on hatred rather than love. It destroys community and makes brotherhood impossible. It leaves society in monologue rather than dialogue. Violence ends by defeating itself. It creates bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers.
-- Martin Luther King, Jr.
(via A Mindful Life)


In case you missed the news, a PA Congressman, centrist/conservative Democrat, has called for withdrawel from Iraq, and it has the Bushies flustered. For my local audience I wrote this, but really the best summary I've seen of the whole thing, the man and the meaning of his action, is over here.

(via Atrios)

Oh, and... apparently the best the hawks can do is to dredge up the once-chilling but now overused dissent = treason trope. eesh.

And yet more spine!

I can't keep up. Russ Feingold leading a group of Dems opposing the extension of the Patriot Act (to indefinitely undermine our civil rights), and preparing to use whatever tools are required for the job.
"I've cleared my schedule right up to Thanksgiving," Mr. Feingold said, adding that he was making plans to read aloud from the Bill of Rights as part of a filibuster if necessary.
The bill is still being fought over in committee (with the cooler heads in the Senate demanding a few protections), but could come up for a final vote at any moment.

(via dailyKos)

Thursday, November 17, 2005

A wake-up call?

Major spending bill defeated, with Dems unanimous in opposition.
Could times be a'changin'?

That's a small town!

Because you can never deprive too many people of their habeus corpus rights:
The United States has detained more than 83,000 foreigners in the four years of the war on terror, enough to nearly fill the NFL's largest stadium. The administration defends the practice of holding detainees in prisons from Afghanistan to Guantanamo Bay as a critical tool to stop the insurgency in Iraq, maintain stability in Afghanistan and get known and suspected terrorists off the streets.

Roughly 14,500 detainees remain in U.S. custody, primarily in Iraq.
But at least we treat them well! Oh, wait...

(via Body & Soul)

Quote of the day

Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.
- John Ruskin
(via A Mindful Life)

Thursday kitten-blogging: Technology edition

Both of our kittens got spayed this fall (at staggered times due to their staggered ages), and both were ferocious stitch-biters -- not licking, but tearing at the threads. We counted the days until we could get those stiches out (and both healed very fast, a benefit of early spaying), but both had to wear a cone/collar to keep them from reaching things that needed some peace to mend. Two different vets (don't ask), two different approaches. Both kittens bitter, but in different ways:
Pixel the conehead
So squished!
Pixel got a rigid but transparent collar
Unfortunately, it kind of squished her head! (and also made it really hard for her to eat)
Satellite Pasha
Tied with a bow!
Pasha got a nice loose fit
But couldn't really see where she was going! (or her feet, tough for an athletic kitten)

[Note: images kept small for practical reasons; click for larger views.]

Take-home? No idea which was better; both cats and people were frustrated by the need for isolation as much as anything else. Let's not get any more surgeries.

Past kitteny goodness (reverse order):
25, 24, 23, 22, 21, 20, 19, 18, 17, 16, 15, 14, 13, 12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 0


A little fact-checking provides a painful smack-down to Bush's claims about who knew what before the Iraq war, and who supported him going in. A little chilly in here, emperor?

(via This Modern World)

Growing pains

An interesting post yesterday over at MyDD about the Democratic party's increasing independence from both big donors (although Dean has taking flak for not kissing their rings) and from K-Street lobbyists (who are annoyed with Pelosi for not courting them). Instead, small donors and grassroots volunteers may be taking the party over. Imagine!!
So, Democrats are shut out of K Street, and the money that comes with it, as part of a systematic effort by the Republican Party to soak up as much corporate and lobbying money as possible. In response, Democrats find that they can raise even more money than they did in the past by turning to small, individual donors. Then, K Street and big donors get upset with Democrats for not paying attention to them anymore. Sounds like karmic comeuppance to big donors and lobbyists to me.
Amen! Bowers points out that Independents are attracted by this distancing between big politics and big money. It could be an interesting dynamic in the next couple of elections!

(via kos)

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Reid weighs in on Alito

scales of somethingHarry Reid planned to give a speech today expressing concern about the nomination of Alito, particularly the fact that Senators were not consulted but right-wing crazies were, and that there are reasons why the latter are so gleeful (including many positions on which the Supreme Court disagreed with Alito's rulings/interpretations).
Harriet Miers was forced to withdraw by conservative activists who want to change the legal landscape of America. They decided she was inadequately radical or insufficiently aggressive for their purposes, so they gave her the boot.
. . .
Even in the first two weeks of the confirmation process, a picture of Sam Alito is emerging that may explain why the right-wing is popping champagne corks. ...
Perhaps a little too much about the court-diversity angle, for my tastes, but on the whole a pretty strong speech. Some mutterings about the filibuster too. Will be interesting to see how it gets covered in the media (tomorrow?).

Update: quick gloss here catches the high points. I guess that's about all you can expect, with hearings still two months off...

Katrina horrors contine to mount

Just because other things have grabbed the headlines doesn't mean that things are now going smoothly down in the muddy post-hurricane sections of New Orleans:
  • Haliburton appears to be using virtual slave labor in its part of the reconstruction, bringing in illegal immigrants and then leaving them to fend for themselves without housing or income.

  • Meanwhile, families coming back to the impoverished 9th Ward area are sometimes finding the decomposing corpses of their family members still in the houses -- officials knowingly called off the search months ago without looking in every house. Now beureaucratic tangles may keep there from being any way to deal with newly found corpses. What could be grimmer.
This seems like a good time to remind folks that rebuilding New Orleans and the lives of its residents will be a project for months and years to come, and to again make this suggestion for your holiday consideration.

(new stories via Atrios)

This just in

Surprisingly, it appears that some bloggers are male! Well, I guess there's room for all kinds...

(via Philadelphia Will Do)

New Yorker cartoon: dog blogger

Banging heads on Iraq

Campus Progress is sponsoring a series this week that's worth checking in on: Ezra Klein (of The American Prospect) and Adam Kushner (of The New Republic) will be debating the pros and cons of withdrawing from Iraq. It started yesterday (with a post from Klein) and runs through Friday -- check back for updates. Certainly good minds for a difficult topic.

(via XOverboard)

Surprising to few

woman, abandoned by public healthThe GAO (General Government Accountability Office; sounds like a tough row to hoe these days!) has officially concluded that the FDA followed politics not science in refusing to let the "morning-after pill" (or Plan B) be marketed over the counter. They also noted that a rather evasive system of documenting the decision-making process may violate federal records laws. oops/ A dailyKos diarist points out that there's a video in which one conservative plant commission member bragged about killing the agency's original (positive) recommendation.

(via knotted knickers)

John Cusack has a blog?

Well, at least he occasionally writes for the Huffington Post, and this entry is full of chewy goodness.
How depressing, corrupt, unlawful and tragically absurd the administration's world view actually low the moral bar has been lowered...and (though I know I'm capable of intellectually lazy notions of collective guilt) how complicit our silence as citizens is...
It covers a lot of ground, so hard to pull a good quote, but worth reading over your next cup of coffee. I recognize a cry from the heart -- a frequent response in recent years...

(via knotted knickers)

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

For every bit of good news...

Democrats unveil an actual plan for Iraq, in a rare display of spine. But then we hear that the military has new tricks on the field to wreak ever greater destruction. Well, perhaps the former will bring about an end to any need for the latter...

Tee hee

grin!The Weekly World News suggests that the Bush administration might want to look into converting the West Wing into a working incarceration facility, The Arrest Wing.
"Bush can’t function without these people," a top White House aide told Weekly World News under condition that we not tell Karl Rove. "This way, even if they’re in prison, Bush will be able to pick their brains."
DeLay, Frist, Rove, Libby, maybe Cheney -- those guys could get a lot done with nothing else to think about. Oh, wait...

(via Atrios)

Excuses, excuses

This week's Bush, in a nutshell: Toles cartoon

(via Atrios)

Monday, November 14, 2005

Separating actions from consequences

It just amazes me that Chalabi is having meetings of state after all the crap he passed along as "intelligence" a couple of years back. Seems like pretty clear proof that he provided exactly what they wanted -- it wasn't the authenticity of the "facts" that mattered, but their adherence to the desired narrative. Expect a coronation for Judy Miller any day now...

Grandma was right

Bundling up really can help keep you well: getting chilled increases the risk of getting sick. Researchers think the effect is due to increased susceptibility to viruses you already have, rather than increased risk of infection.
If they become chilled this causes a pronounced constriction of the blood vessels in the nose and shuts off the warm blood that supplies the white cells that fight infection.

The reduced defences in the nose allow the virus to get stronger and common cold symptoms develop.
Wacky! [Note: I think that "get stronger" should be read to mean "multiply successfully"...]

(via Rebecca's Pocket)

Monday Sid-blogging

Always a little listless on a Monday, but trying to earn my keep around the office. So for a little sunshine and inspiration, this oh-so-energetic shot of Sid (with pesky background distractions removed for your viewing pleasure):

Don't say I never did anything nice for you!

Previous Sid-blogging (reverse order): 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 [Hi, Sid!]

Quote of the day -- Inspiration or rationalization?

In the case of good books, the point is not how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you.
- Mortimer J. Adler,
philosopher, educator and author (1902-2001)
(via A.W.A.D.)

Strange bedfellows

femsignBitch, PhD, finds herself in support of an ostensibly pro-life bill because it offers aid to young mothers trying to complete their educations on the main track, not a half-assed approximation. I found this part of her argument particularly insightful:
We have a tendency to argue that teen pregnancy is bad, that it hampers girl's economic, educational, and social development. We focus on birth control and delaying pregnancy. But the thing is, it isn't having a child that screws girls over: it's the stigma against having kids, the total lack of social support, the "you made your bed, now lie in it" attitude that we have as a society.
Nobody wants to see the teen mother, but shuttling her off to get a G.E.D. just means you've forced her to start from the lowest possible rung and then been surprised when she doesn't climb as high. We should support those willing to invest in their and their families' futures.

Movie plug

Just saw "Nine Lives" over the weekend. Have never seen anything quite like it. A series of vignettes, not overtly connected, although you notice people reappearing here and there so that you get different perspectives on who they are. Each piece totally grabs you, dropped into the middle of an intense drama, and then sucks you back out and on to the next one. Amazing acting by a series of stunning performers, mainly women, who work with both good writing and excellent interpretation (by their skill or the director? dunno). Not always easy or fun, but vivid, and I defy you to not be thinking about one story or another days later...

[We now return you to our more detached editorial relationship.]

Friday, November 11, 2005

Today's fun science!

cats hate hatsSerious scientists fire up their expensive technology to look at the effectiveness of tinfoil hats (frequently worn by the paranoid) as blockers of radio and other mind-controlling waves...

I'm afraid that the news isn't good.

Frist sees the light (and/or is an asshat)

Apparently Bill Frist is less concerned about the fact that we have secret gulags in Eastern Europe than about the fact that somebody let the news slip:
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist says he is more concerned about the leak of information regarding secret CIA detention centers than activity in the prisons themselves.
There are some priorities for you. On the up side, I'm sure this means he'll be 100% behind further pursuit of those behind the Plame outing!!
"My concern is with leaks of information that jeopardize your safety and security -- period," Frist said. "That is a legitimate concern."
Ok then; time to start pushing the White House to come clean!!

(via Booknotes)

Hah! gottcha!

In case you missed it, one of the good outcomes of Tuesday's elections is that the entire school board of Dover, PA, was voted out in favor of a slate that is against teaching Intelligent Design in science classes. Now Pat Robertson puts the lie to claims that Intelligent Design is something other than creationism when he chastizes Doverites for "voting God out of their city" . . . Too rich!

(via Medley)

Thursday, November 10, 2005

A sign of things to come?

The impenetrable Republican coalition starts to crumble under the weight of Bush Administration blunders: the House revolts against gutting aid for grandmothers and hungry children in order to fund the next round of tax cuts. What next, empathy??

Quote of the day

milkweed pod Hatred never ceases by hatred
But by love alone is healed.
This is an ancient and eternal law.
-- The Buddha

(via Lucid Moment)

The chick vote

An interesting side-note to this week's election results -- and one that I hope will be noticed by national Democratic strategists -- is the importance of the women's vote to the New Jersey governor's race. Corzine lost men by a narrow margin, but won women overwhelmingly, and his recipe for the win is one that many are recommending be adopted more broadly:
Senator Corzine had an agenda on "Doing What's Right for the Women of New Jersey" including health care, long-term care, equal pay and property tax relief. Perhaps more important, he framed his entire economic agenda in terms of the economics of the family.
Something everyone can take an interest in. This frame, which transcends class and puts a large number of issues into a context that everybody can relate to, seems obvious to many, but has yet to catch on. Here's hoping.

(link and headline from Atrios)

What are his words worth?

Senators give a lot of weight to assurances that judicial nominees make to them -- not necessarily about their intended rulings, but about their view of the law and about their personal responsibility. Right now, a lot of attention is focused on what Alito will tell the Senate about his respect for precedent and other matters. But, given his prior breaking of specific promises made to the Senate (involving recusals for his conflicts of interest), what good can it be to hear even just the right responses? If we can't trust him to keep his word, do we want to entrust him with the law of the land?

(via Atrios)

Thursday kitten-blogging: More kitty love

Our two bengal kittens are a constant tangle of spots. Sometimes it's a lazy, cuddly, purring heap, and sometimes it's a chasey, wrestley, growling blur. Either way, they clearly view each other as partners in a way that reclassifies the other cats (and humans) of the house (although humans have their own cuddle and play utilities)...

Pixel licks Pasha's head
Heap: here Pixel is cleaning Pasha's head

Blur: hard to say who's getting the upper hand!
(look! I managed blue rather than pink to erase the quilt!)

Past combinations of household cats:
lounging, more games, P&P wrestling, Pixel and Yogi, catspage

Two worth reading

Two powerful posts worth your taking a couple of minutes to read. Not much additional analysis or meta-narrative from me...

Why modern-day conservatism makes no sense to me -- When did the party of Goldwater become the party of the Moral Majority??

Not a baby-machine -- Attempts to think about the biological course of human reproduction as a mechanistic process susceptible to outside regulation are sorely misguided.

(furled at Medley)

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Musical nutshell

A little mix of clips from news broadcasts (with a trendy back-beat) that says it all on our involvement in Iraq: Catapult the Propaganda. Good stuff.

(via Booknotes (via Crooks & Liars))

More of that grim but on-point Onion humor

Onion logoThe Death Of Rosa Parks: 'Now We Can Finally Put Civil Rights Behind Us'

[nervous laugh]

We really are living in an Orwellian age

It's not enough that the Bush administration has mastered the richness of doublespeak; they now want to go all the way to rewriting history as it occurs... Most frightening is the low level of resistance they encounter.

Great news from the world of science

We may yet be saved from the prospect of burying the world in our own trash (or at least the portion of it that derives from our insatiable need for bottled drinks): a company has developed a form of genuinely biodegradable plastic derived from plants rather than from petroleum.
The bottle is made of a corn-based plastic (created by Cargill Dow) that can decompose within 80 days in a commercial composter. Making the plastic uses 20 to 50 percent less energy than petroleum-based processes. BIOTA says the bottle (so far available only in the West) requires the right conditions to decompose, and will not degrade on the shelf.
Now that's what I call progress!!!

(via Rebecca's Pocket)

I knew *somebody* must have written this...

femsign...but I only bumped across it today. Maureen Dowd's decrying of the state of the modern women (reduced to batting her eyelashes after all the high hopes of feminism) really rubbed me the wrong way, for reasons of both content and presentation. The latter was pretty obvious (her opinion that current trends might be misguided didn't appear until 2/3 of the way through a longish article), but the former need pointing out, as the "state of affairs" that she discusses (e.g., difficulty for smart/ambitious women to find a man) has pretty much been debunked, although she cites it as gospel.
Men, by contrast [with college freshmen surveyed in a study last year], do not reject achieving women. Quite the opposite. Sociologist Valerie Oppenheimer of University of California, Berkeley reports that today men are choosing as mates women who have completed their education. The more education a woman has, the more likely she is to marry. Unlike the single University of California, Los Angeles study, this finding comes from an analysis of 80 peer-reviewed studies.
The linked article skewers a lot of other research mentioned by Dowd, such as effects of IQ on marriage prospects (the cited survey involved octagenarians) and another study done by a student who just emailed a handful of people. But of course, we always welcome misogynist alarmism!!
When Dowd bases her views of men and women on such poor research, it's no wonder that Dowd looks into the crystal ball of feminism and finds the picture so disconcerting.
Indeed. The reality-based community demands better (and is doing just fine, thanks).

Thanks to Twisty at I Blame the Patriarchy for the link to this article and thus the chance to vent my spleen (and perhaps correct the record).

Well, that was different!

I've been on a couple of political conference calls in my life, basically those involving local candidates and a bunch of bloggers, so it was a bit different to get a last-second chance to listen in on Ken Mehlman's attempt to spin yesterday's elections for a bunch of GOP-friendly press -- a bit less friendly once kos published the number... I didn't ask a question, but I did scramble to live-blog the event here.

I don't recognize this feeling...

head-bashingSmall elections locally (but ethics reform embraced by Philadelphians), but lots went on nationally. Um, the good guys won most of them? What on earth!! Markos even notes that the press seems to be reshaping the conventional wisdom to let Democratic takes see the light of day. Oh fabrous day!!

Update: Chris Bowers is almost speechless in the face of victory (yet his post had about 2000 times more words than mine). . .

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Getting whiplash

Strange deals happening all over the place: Reid gets out ahead of the next GOP gambit by asking Bush to pledge not to pardon Libby. (The prospect of a pardon is considered to be a disincentive for Libby's taking any sort of plea bargain, and thus for his turning in any of his higher-ups.) Meantime, Republicans, unable to get their draconian budget cuts through on a party-line vote, may be asking Democrats to give them cover, presumably in exchange for tasty political snacks (commenters say that Katarina funds may be part of the arm-twisting, eesh). Things are getting wild up on the Hill!

Groggy Tuesday kitten

Am feeling extremely groggy today, thanks to fall allergies. (And just when the weather is getting nice!) In honor of my fuzzy brain, a small bonus photo of Pixel in a groggy state, taken when she was about 11-12 weeks old (by my father-in-law during a visit). Hard to remember that she was ever that small!

groggy Pixel
(click for a larger view)

past Pixel appearances: 9, 8, 7, doh!, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, arrival, teaser, homepage

Quote of the day

Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.
- Franklin D. Roosevelt,
32nd US President (1882-1945)
(via A.W.A.D.)

About freedom of the press

Judith Miller claimed high principle in her willingness to go to jail to protect a source. But it's not heroic to protect the powerful; it's the average small-time whistle-blower or witness who needs protection from the powers of the day. The distinction comes home to a small-town reporter faced with an unexpected subpoena. As he puts it:
newspaper[T]he legal system also recognizes an important First Amendment protection that members of the press should not be used as arms of the state. To that end, for a reporter to testify, the state must prove that it cannot obtain the information elsewhere and that the reporter’s testimony is necessary because he or she is an eyewitness to a crime.
The average reporter knows only things that another dutiful investigator should be able to find (without the reporter's help); in Judy Miller's case, what was said to her *was* the crime. Not the same thing, and her overdue ousting from the Times carries martyrish overtones only in her own mind.

(link via Atrios)

Update: kos offers another handy guideline to when the implicit compact between reporter and source no longer holds...

Another shoe still to drop?

Many have speculated that Fitzgerald's continuing investigations may lead to indictments farther up the political food-chain, but attention has focused on Karl Rove. Legal expert John Dean reads between the lines of the Libby indictment, and finds many clues pointing to further indictments to come, and particularly to Vice President Cheney, although there's lots of space for legal maneuvering before things get that far...

(via Follow Me Here)

Some things are obvious, and others aren't

But which type is which appears to depend on the viewer, and/or what they've been drinking. Two cases in poin:
  1. bright idea should be obvious, but seemingly isn't (to those at the top): torture is bad.
    What must it be like to be a human rights worker these days? Your job is to go to countries like Nepal and try to urge the government not to "disappear" people, not to torture them while in detention, and not to summarily execute them. And yet you know and they know that the richest, most powerful country in the world, a country that states as its ostensible goal the spread of democracy and liberty throughout the world, uses those very same tactics in dealing with a much lesser threat to its existence. Seems like a hard sell to me.
    Of course, Bush claims that America doesn't torture anybody. (But if we did, it would be critical for national security!) blah, blah, blah.

  2. becoming obvious, but wasn't all along: Cheney is neither wise nor competent. He may have looked good in comparison to Bush, but he's been a crazy man for some decades, and continues to lead us into poorly considered actions. Some of the examples here are mind-blowing ("of course we can [insert crazy action] I just saw it done on TV last night!"), and when even the CIA thinks torture doesn't work, who is Cheney to say otherwise?
History will not deal kindly with our current leaders...

Monday, November 07, 2005

Today's Thoreau rumination

For a man to pride himself on this kind of wealth, as if it enriched him, is as ridiculous as if one struggling in the ocean with a bag of gold on his back should gasp out, “I am worth a hundred thousand dollars!” I see his ineffectual struggles just as plainly, and what it is that sinks him.
Henry David Thoreau
Journal entry of November 5, 1857
(via the Thoreau blog)

Random bit for the day

Forbes is giving you the chance to speak to your future self, by offering to store and then deliver a time-capsule email to yourself at a point up to 20 years from now. More unimaginable than what I'd want to record is any forecast of (1) the probability that I'll have a predictable email address (maybe those college alum mailboxes will really pay off here) and (2) what the internet and our interactions with it could look like in 20 years -- that long ago, my (state-of-the-art) high school computer system took up most of a small room and only sent messages within its own database . . .

(via boing boing)

Law of unintended consequences

One of the problems with reactionary policy is that it often causes new problems in the rush to solve the newly prominent old problems... Sometimes decisions really are complex, and it would help if our leaders admitted as much.

Setting a good example

A Newsweek story by Fareed Zakaria points out what should be obvious: that supporting torture wins no hearts or minds. torn flagThe revelations about Abu Ghraib turned public sentiment in Iraq against us, and our continued inability or disinterest in holding somebody responsible continues to be held against American leaders. As Atrios points out, a single resignation would have helped separate unfortunate human tendencies from national ideals. But no, the Bushies continue to advocate for the right to be inhumane . . .

A bad time to be a woman?

A new voter ID law in Arizona turns out to be disenfranchising women, largely because their last names don't always match their birth certificates. ahem. Meantime, judicial heavyweights seem to think it's ok to ask a woman to raise her hand before making decisions regarding her health and her body. Maureen Dowd catalogs the backsliding on the cultural front, as women are again told (or come to believe) that they should give up their ambitions and use their wiles to land and keep a man.

[head bangs desk]

Choosing what we listen to

[I predict that nobody else will link these two stories..]
  • The Vatican reiterates that it's folly to ignore scientific reason.
    "The faithful have the obligation to listen to that which secular modern science has to offer, just as we ask that knowledge of the faith be taken in consideration as an expert voice in humanity."
    Fair enough. Welcome to the battle to restore the Enlightenment.
    (via Follow Me Here)

  • Meanwhile, the government releases a major report that nobody wants to hear, concluding that electronic voting systems as they currently exist shouldn't be trusted.
    It's been a full two weeks now since the non-partisan Government Accountability Office (GAO came out with their 107-page report [PDF] confirming what so many of us have been trying to ring the bell about for so long: The Electronic Voting Machines which are proliferating counties and states across America even as I type, are not secure, not accountable, not recountable, not transparent, not accurate and not adequately monitored or certified by anybody.
    A bipartisan Congressional committee announced the findings, but two weeks later not a single media report has appeared. Not big news in an off election year, or just too scary to contemplate? I'm more than a little scared...

Friday, November 04, 2005

Quote of the day/weekend

autumn wash of colorThe coloring and reddening of the leaves toward fall is interesting; as if the sun had so prevailed that even the leaves, better late than never, were turning to flowers,—so filled with mature juices, the whole plant turns at length to one flower, and all its leaves are petals around its fruit or dry seed. A second flowering to celebrate the maturity of the fruit. The first to celebrate the age of puberty, the marriageable age; the second, the maturity of the parent, the age of wisdom. the fullness of years.
-- Henry David Thoreau
Journal entry of August 21, 1852
(via the Thoreau blog)

A collective of feminists

Probably more good discussion than anyone could process, and certainly likely to eat much more of your time than a visit to the Carnival of Cats (mewp!), the newly launched Carnival of Feminists offers its second installment. Everything from relationship politics and body image to female heroes and political networking. Worth a few visits.

(via gendergeek)

Update: in related news, a study identifies a group of behaviors that are possible predictors of violence in relationships, such as constant monitoring of a partner's whereabouts. A good reflection on these findings ponders ways to put the observation to use in avoiding or preventing possibly dangerous relationships.

(via Mindhack)

What distinguishes conservatives and liberals

Armando at dailyKos had an interesting piece yesterday that's worth a read, arguing that the difference is in the relative emphasis on the protection of the individual versus protection of his property. It does a good job of explaining differing stances on many fronts, from eminent domain to control over abortion decisions.

Scanning the fine print

Back in May, when 14 Senators worked out a compromise by which a filibuster showdown was averted, there was much speculation about how far this agreement would extend, and particularly about the meaning of the critical words "extraordinary circumstances" (under which a filibuster could again be considered). This issue arises again in current discussions about Alito, the first Supreme Court nominee to come before the Senate since the Gang of 14 worked their magic -- does the SC level automatically count as extraordinary? capitol hill Will this group have a coherent response to the matter? etc. Houndcat at dailyKos catches some early telegraphing of how this might play out and what dynamics may be in play behind the scenes. The group may or may not have a coherent strategy for this fight, and may or may not be able to keep discipline. Since the hearings are now scheduled for January, we'll have some time for more clues to emerge.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Covering the polls

CBS did another poll this week, which resulted in a flurry of coverage about Bush's new low in approval ratings, but relatively less mention of the fact that people think that the story around the CIA/Plame leak is very important. Important insights into both our fellow citizens and the media that we rely on....

(latter note via Atrios)

Thursday kittens: love-fest edition

Yeah, Pixel and Pasha are pretty much inseparable. This week, instead of wrestling and chasing, we bring you lounging and cuddling! Mmmmmmm, kittens. (click for larger views)

exhausted from play
a pause between rounds of action...

cuddle heap
we take relaxation very seriously!
(this pic dedicated to Pasha, who goes for spaying today,
and to her soon-to-be-shaved tummy)

Past kitteny goodness (in reverse order):
22, 21, 20, 19, 18, 17, 16, 15, 14, 13, 12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, and 0

Of legislative dignity

The best take on this week's political showdown (see here) comes from the inimitable Fafblog, who is outraged! over such degenerate tricksiness:
Instead of focusing on the vital business of womb regulation and gay marriage bans, Harry Reid held the Senate hostage with some trivial piffle about weapons of mass destruction and manipulated prewar intelligence. "Oh the nation has been deceived, oh the president has lied us into a massive military quagmire." Well boo hoo hoo!
Don't miss the finale...

(via Bitch PhD)

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

I'm just glad he's on *our* side

When a 5-point whitetail buck blundered into his house, a man wrestled it for 40 minutes before finally killing it with his bare hands.
"He got kicked several times. He was walking bowlegged for a while," Deputy Doug Gay said.
Still, the better end of the deal...

(via boing boing)

Ouch, ouch, ouch

Because apparently operating your show of democracy out of pseudo-gulags isn't enough:
The CIA has been hiding and interrogating some of its most important al Qaeda captives at a Soviet-era compound in Eastern Europe, according to U.S. and foreign officials familiar with the arrangement.
I'm with Upyernoz, who responded to this news thusly:
ack!every time i think my embarrassment for this country has reached its limit, something like this comes out and i find that i gotta add a whole new set of numbers to the old embarrass-o-meter.
Somebody call me when it's over...

Interesting poll

Gallup looked at American views of Alito and found a variety of interesting things, including that a majority think he should not be confirmed if he opposes Roe v. Wade, and that they are ok with a filibuster. More grist for the overheated mill.

(via Atrios)

Does anybody else remember the game Hammurabi?

It is an ancient ancestor of games like Civilization -- in it, you had just a few choices, along the lines of how many of the grain bags in your storehouse you would plant versus use to feed your people (update: screenshot!). You always wanted to plant or spend it, but quickly learned that not feeding your people was a poor long-term strategy, even with morality left out of the equation, as people would leave your city for those that treated them better, die, or possibly lead a revolt.

Apparently simple lessons like that are lost on Republican legislators, who are voting to cut food stamps and school lunches, even as hunger has risen hugely under their watch. I'm telling you, build all the cities you want, launch all the wars, but if your people desert you, the game is done.

A different look at the future Supreme Court

Ampersand points out a key thing that has been overlooked in debates over Alito's views and qualifications: as long as some conservative is confirmed to the court, Kennedy will become the new key Justice, the swing voter on a number of contentious issues in the way that O'Connor has been for so long. He cites some evidence of Kennedy's votes on past cases which may be more telling than any look at Alito for how future rulings will turn out.

Dramatic rumblings in the Senate

kicking assSenator Harry Reid pulled a dramatic power play on the floor of the Senate yesterday, catching the GOP leadership by surprise and scoring a major victory. Apparently Reid made an impassioned speech about the stalled investigation into intelligence about Iraq and how it was used to justify the war -- the committee in charge got as far as assessing the CIA's performance, but didn't look at Administration use of the information (the intended second phase of the undertaking). Reid claimed that the Libby indictment gives new impetus to examining the actions and motivations of the Bushies, and he invoked a rare procedural maneouver to get his way: in the middle of other business, he used "Rule 21" to call for a closed session of the Senate, which meant chasing out all the staff, cameras, and observers, and waiting for all absent Senators to arrive for the mandatory event. I'm not entirely clear on what went on after that, but apparently the threat is that Senate Democrats would continue to shut down normal business until the investigation was reopened. And it worked:
Senators haggled behind closed doors for a bit over two hours, then emerged with a deal: Frist and Reid each will appoint three senators to a task force to review the status of the Intelligence Committee's investigation into prewar intelligence.

A report is due in two weeks.
Amazing. The Republicans were apoplectic over this move, so Democrats have to walk carefully lest they find they've waked the sleeping giant. However, Reid and co. clearly sent a message here that
  1. they want the investigation completed,
  2. they're not going to let the Alito circus preempt the scandal about Administration misuse of intelligence and critics, and
  3. they're prepared to use disruption as a source of power.
This last one is particularly important, as a "shot across the bow" in anticipation of upcoming Senate wrangling. The Democrats are not excited with Alito for Supreme Court, and they may decide to filibuster his nomination; if the Republicans think that countering by ending the filibuster option would be without cost, they've just seen otherwise. A "nuclear option" (see prev. discussion of that term here) would mean nothing getting done by anybody...

There's discussion of this dramatic show all over the place, but probably some good places to start are the analysis by Hunter at dailyKos of the significance of this event, and the CultureKitchen summary of what happened, which has links to video, transcripts, and tons of other bloggy goodness.

Update: Tristero at Hullabaloo expresses some pleasure and caution about this gambit.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Nepotistic post, the second

Just another cute pic of niece Sophie, in line with the theory of Cute Pics for Difficult Times. If you're lucky, I won't have any new ones burning a hole in my FlickR account for some time...

pink hat

future Hummel model?

Quote of the day

Nature now, like an athlete, begins to strip herself in earnest for her contest with her great antagonist, Winter. In the bare trees and twigs what a display of muscle!
Henry David Thoreau
Journal entry of October 29, 1858
(via Thoreau blog)

Re-closing the door

Methodist minister Beth Stroud (of the Germantown area of Philadelphia) voluntarily took on her denomination's hierarchy when she chose to defy their ban on "practicing homosexuals" and admit her own lesbian lifestyle; see previous story (of her successful initial appeal) here. Now the highest appeal body of the church has officially defrocked her. Perhaps unsurprising, given the clarity of their rules; perhaps it will lead to discussions within the Methodist church about their priorities.

Meantime, it seems sad for all, given that she seems to have been universally liked and effective in her ministry:
No one - neither church judge, jury, nor prosecutor - contested Beth Stroud's skill and dedication as an ordained minister.
Christian fishI don't know what ideological affinity might bind Stroud to the Methodists; for my part, I hope that she can find another branch of the greater Christian church that will accept her for who she is and welcome her many gifts. Or perhaps her lay ministry is service enough, and a prick in the side of those with a more limited view.

A home-town view of Alito

Philadelphia's Daily News offers 16 things you should know about Sam Alito, including many that aren't at the top of most national notice, such as his sports preferences and some local dust-ups.
7 At least earlier in his career, he came off as a little thin-skinned. In 1988, when a National Law Journal story suggested he wasn't having a very good year, he drafted a 522-word response to the 211-word criticism. " 'Not a good year' may have been amusing for casual readers, but the amusement required the sacrifice of even minimal journalistic standards," Alito wrote. "It is your publication that should be embarrassed."
. . .
16 Alito is such a regular at the T.M. Ward Coffee Co. in Newark that they named a coffee after him. "Judge Alito's Bold Justice Blend" is a mix of Colombian, Java and New Guinea with a bit of espresso.
heh, Bold Justice Blend. We now return you to your regular (more substantive) programming...

Missing a little Fitzmas spirit

The Washington Post points out that Libby's soft-shoe dance in the Plame/Iraq investigation worked -- that is, he may have lost his job, but Bush kept his.
In his impressive presentation of the indictment of Lewis "Scooter" Libby last week, Patrick Fitzgerald expressed the wish that witnesses had testified when subpoenas were issued in August 2004, and "we would have been here in October 2004 instead of October 2005."

Note the significance of the two dates: October 2004, before President Bush was reelected, and October 2005, after the president was reelected. Those dates make clear why Libby threw sand in the eyes of prosecutors, in the special counsel's apt metaphor, and helped drag out the investigation.
Sigh. Now my eggnogg is all curdled....

(via Armando at dailyKos)

Let the downpour begin!

Unexpected absence yesterday -- I took a day off, only to discover that techno-crap was keeping me from posting to blogs from home. grrrr!

You probably noticed that, um, we have a new Supreme Court nominee. scales of justice "Scalito" must have gotten a third of the discussion on NPR all day, and this is only the start. Conservatives practically wetting themselves, but careful to say it's all about his credentials and intellect, not about his being to the right of any current court member (or a symbolic dissenter in critical case Planned Parenthood v. Casey). Liberals not fooled, predict major battle, possible filibuster and nuclear option.

From yesterday: Markos' summary of Alito the candidate, and of the prospects for a debate of ideas. Hunter thinks moderate Republicans are unhappy with the choice and the prospect of being pressured from all sides. And for a little over-the-top response, you can't beat the rudeness of the Rude Pundit, who opines that Bush only nominates motherfuckers:
And, yep, like a good motherfucker, Alito offers support for other motherfuckers: he's for abused wives being forced to tell their motherfucker spouses if they're pregnant, he's for non-whites to have the color of their skin used as a factor for hiring by motherfuckers, and he believes motherfuckers running colleges can discriminate against the disabled.
Good stuff. As a last note, here's something for the conspiracy theorists: did Bush nominate Miers as a bluff, to fill up the time until Fristmas was approaching, so that yet another SC nomination could be used to bury yet another Administration scandal? Only The Shadow knows...

Update: Slate offers a longer look at Alito (meaning a page or so), and People for the American Way have a 24-page PDF summarizing his career for those unsatiated by the media barrage...
(via Medley)