Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Steven Colbert unpacked

Apparently he was interviewed by the Onion about his new show, the hotheads he parodies, and the state of national discourse.
AVC: It seems like you're actively cultivating a cult of personality on the show.

SC: That's exactly what those are, these are all personality shows. It doesn't matter what they're saying. Doesn't matter what the news is, it's how this person feels about the news, and how you should feel about the news. It is also the personality. I'm not playing it nearly as hard as someone like O'Reilly or [Sean] Hannity does.
The Onion seems like the perfect venue for such a discussion.

(via boing boing)

And you thought outsourcing your *job* was bad

Turns out that China's air pollution is a major contributor to smog in Los Angeles. eesh.

Silver lining?

So, Alito appears to be on his way to a rubber stamp and a black robe, after an attempt at filibuster failed by a significant margin. Digby attempts to find a silver lining here, reading the winds to discover that Democratic congressfolk may be paying more attention to their constituents and netroots pressure than they have in a while.
I know it hurts to lose this one. I won't say that I'm not disappointed. But it was a very long shot from the outset and we managed to make some noise and get ourselves heard. The idea that it is somehow a sign of weakness because we only got 25 members of the Senate, including the entire leadership, to vote to filibuster a Supreme Court nominee is funny to me. Two years ago I would have thought somebody was on crack if they even suggested it was possible.
One can only hope this is a sign of things to come...
(via Medley)

Update: related news is that Americans now trust the Democrats over the Republicans to lead them in the right direction, 51 to 35 percent.
(via dailyKos)

Monday, January 30, 2006

Quote of the day

dry weedsWhat is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.
-- Chief Crowfoot
(via A Mindful Life)

Well, well!

Maybe that volcano of anger is actually having some effect. Lieberman's staff is curious about whether netroots support for a primary challenger could be dissipated by the Senator's voting against cloture (i.e., helping support a filibuster) of the Alito debate. It may be too little too late for many people, but it means our tiny yawp is starting to be taken seriously...

And he was expecting...

...thanks? I think that government employees and federally funded scientists have learned that their expert opinions are not welcomed by this country government any longer. Expressions of surprise seem merely naive, although I suppose that there's always the slim chance that some reader of a story like this will discover their buried outrage and start to spread the alarm.

Update: In related news, here are the top 10 censored stories of 2005.
(via Follow Me Here)

Friday, January 27, 2006

You know this is what they had in mind

...with all that talk of freedom and democracy. A fundamentalist Iran with nukes, on friendly terms with a fundamentalist Iraq. A Palestinian state run by a sect dedicated to wiping Israel from the earth. Blah blah blah. Who could have foreseen that a multiyear occupation would lead to increased power for angry anti-imperialist groups? no sireee...
Hamas celebration
Oh, anyway, reactions to the Hamas ascendancy include a rant from Digby and speculation by the NYTimes that bilateral negotiations and progress will come to an abrupt end. Look for more Berlin wall, less return of land to Palestinian control. A half-century-sized set-back. whee.

here's another pithy take. Key quote: "Given the incompetent war criminal we elected to roll back our own Constitution, though, we're not in a position to question their judgment." sigh.

How I often look going into the weekend

(although not necessarily as cute...)

Thursday slump

* yawn! *

Nature versus nurture -- a surprising lesson from primates

A long article, but one of the most fascinating I've bumped across in a long while, is this study of violence versus sociability in various primates. Behaviors that biologists had long thought were specific to some species turn out to be both learned and malliable, and transmissible over long periods of time. The article is overtly interested in the significance of these findings for human behavior, especially the inclination to war, but one can easily imagine an extension to even a finer scale of human behavior -- whether bullying or "civilized" behavior is expected from menfolks, whether words or guns are an appropriate response to perceived antagonism, even whether people are more competitive or cooperative. But really, just the animal stuff is very cool on its own. Worth a lunchtime read.

(via Follow Me Here)

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Quote of the day

Every good and excellent thing in the world stands moment by moment on the razor edge of danger and must be fought for, whether it’s a field, or a home, or a country.
-- Thornton Wilder
(via Fired Up! Missouri)


Will Bunch of Philadelphia's Daily News summarizes in a nutshell the essence of Democrat Casey's campaign for Santorum's Senate seat. And people wonder why it's so hard to rev up enthusiasm . . . (see, e.g., this)

NYTimes calls for Senatorial spine

That is, they have gone beyond opposing the Alito nomination to actually calling for a filibuster. Of course, it's couched in defeatism from the outset (which predicts a confirmation). But they say, among other things,
It is hard to imagine a moment when it would be more appropriate for senators to fight for a principle. Even a losing battle would draw the public's attention to the import of this nomination.
and, even more tellingly,
A filibuster is a radical tool. It's easy to see why Democrats are frightened of it. But from our perspective, there are some things far more frightening. One of them is Samuel Alito on the Supreme Court.
Where are those who will heed the call? And if not now, then when? As Medley put it in a related discussion elsewhere,
The Democrats insist on keeping their goddamn powder dry. FOR WHAT? Where is this pile of dry powder? Would someone just please take a match to it before the Constitution is nothing but a hollowed-out husk?
(via a dailyKos diarist)

It's not dissent that weighs them down

It's feeling expendable, having no idea of their goals, and watching their friends die. A marine spells out what demoralizes the troops in Iraq. The parallels to the experience of Vietnam vets are unmistakable...


Thursday spot-blogging

Forget all that internet cuteness -- we have our own home-grown bengal kitteny goodness. Of course, our adoration of the kittens is not always reciprocated; they have a busy play and sleep schedule to attend to...

Pixel from behind
Pixel has more interesting things to watch than the camera...

Pixel watches TV
...for example, Steven Colbert might be on!!

Previous appearances of Pixel:
12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, doh!, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, arrival, teaser, homepage

Wednesday, January 25, 2006


Now this is a mighty cool use of colored paper.

paper dragon

I think I want one. Don't miss the animation of the thing in motion...

Mmmmm, kittens...

Have a look at these, and stop banging your head on the desk. It's already the middle of the week, you'll get through... [Extreme Cuteness Warning!!]

Oh good, I'm not the only one

...who doesn't relish the prospect of Hillary Clinton in 2008. Not just because so many in the country hate her in a knee-jerk way (that's a strategic consideration); dem. donkey I've just never seen any reason to be *for* her. Sorry, last names don't count.

Thanks, Molly.

Speaking of dropped pretenses

The photo included in this post at Pandagon is jaw-dropping. That is to say, the claim that anti-abortion fervor is about protecting life is pretty much washed away by the tsunami of misogyny here -- "Kitchen NOW!" ????

Giving up any pretense?

That is, having been caught evesdropping on whomever they want, are the Bushistas now no longer even trying to pretend they aren't headed for a totalitarian state? At least, next up is a standing federal police force to back up that unlimited executive's desires.
"A permanent police force, to be known as the 'United States Secret Service Uniformed Division,'" empowered to "make arrests without warrant for any offense against the United States committed in their presence" ... "or for any felony cognizable under the laws of the United States if they have reasonable grounds to believe that the person to be arrested has committed or is committing such felony.
Doesn't that just boost your confidence? Can you hear the jack boots in the distance?

(via Medley)

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Quote of the day (a conversation continued)

When you encounter another person, when you have dealings with anyone at all, it is as if a question is being put to you. candle flameSo you must think, "What is the Lord asking of me in this moment, in this situation? If you confront insult or antagonism, your first impulse will be to respond in kind. But if you think, as it were, This is an emissary sent from the Lord, and some benefit is intended for me, first of all the occasion to demonstrate my faithfulness, the chance to show that I do in some small degree participate in the grace that saved me, you are free to act otherwise than circumstances would seem to dictate. You are free to act by your own lights. You are freed at the same time of the impulse to hate or resent that person. He would probably laugh at the thought that the Lord sent him to you for your benefit (and his), but that is the perfection of the disguise, his own ignorance of it.
-- Marilynne Robinson, Gilead
(via A Mindful Life)

Greatest hits for our lying leaders

SusanG at DailyKos recaps some of the top lies spouted by our leaders over the degree to various recent disasters were foreseeable (and thus preventable to some degree) -- each, of course, presented with direct rebuttal from experts and reports that were thinking the "unthinkable" in plenty of time... But why let the facts slow you down from buck-passing!

oh geez, better add this one. If you're the point man for a major national scandal, you should probably be quoting the Constitution accurately!


cameraA little visual criticism of the Democratic party's state of spine... heh.

(via Bitch, Ph.D.)

Monday, January 23, 2006

One must have standards

This is cute.
This is not.
Let's be clear.

Axis of... wait...

In a surprise to few other than our national leaders, the new Iraqi government is coming to the defense of Iran against international criticism. Yes, we've really improved matters over there.

oh yeah, that's on top of making us so much safer...

Veeeery interesting

Fans of Joss Whedon's short-lived series Firefly (recently resurrected for the movie Serenity) might be intrigued to learn that there's a website surveying interest in direct purchase of the show (via PayPerView or streaming online) -- an attempt to make an end-run around the networks (whose interference gutted the show's debut) and get directly to die-hard fans. The hard-core are out there, and are likely to be willing to pony up for their favorite show(s), especially in the context of Whedon's imagination playing out unhindered by corporate constraints. Put in your two cents, if you're among them...

(via rc3.org)

Just when you think...

spit-take!...you've seen the most appalling of the antifeminist cant that's out there, you find out that way beyond the hope that she'd stay at home and clean the house is resentment that you're not her only baby. I mean, that this guy would think it reasonable to put these (petulant, self-absorbed) sentiments in print just blows my mind.

(via Medley)

Friday, January 20, 2006

Kennedy on Alito

Ted Kennedy gave his anti-Alito speech yesterday, and it was a good one.
One of the most important of all the responsibilities of the Supreme Court is to enforce the constitutional limitations on Presidential power. A Justice must have the courage and the wisdom to speak truth to power -- to tell even the President that he has gone too far.

Chief Justice John Marshall was that kind of Justice when he told President Jefferson that he had exceeded his war-making powers under the Constitution. Justice Robert Jackson was that kind of Justice when he told President Truman that he could not misuse the Korean War as an excuse to take over the nation's steel mills. Chief Justice Warren Burger was that kind of Justice when he told President Nixon to turn over the White House tapes on Watergate. And Justice Sandra Day O'Connor was that kind of Justice when she told President Bush that "a state of war is not a blank check for the President when it comes to the rights of the nation's citizens."
He dissects Alito's record (including its conflicts with his recent testimony), criticizes the trend toward evasive hearing appearances, and generally points out the seriouness of the current confirmation decision, especially for the balance of powers in our federal government. They have the whole transcript and video at the link.

(via XOverboard)

Chalabi comeuppance

His party failed to win a single seat in the new Iraqi parliament. Not one. He may still have lots of fans in *our* country, but back at home people have been paying a bit more attention...

(via kos)

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Might Alito's path not be as rosy as They Say?

Armando at dailyKos points out that there are Democrats making clear their intent to vote no and their openness to the filibuster. And Frist has prohibited all floor speeches, lest too many good points get made. Verrrry interesting.
butting heads
Interesting strategic analysis here, and a running whip count here. Lots of folks still to be heard from...

Quote of the day

There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in.
-- Leonard Cohen
(via A Mindful Life)

Thursday kitten-blogging (snuggles!)

These kittens are practically inseparable. Even though the house has several floors, and even though there are other cats about, these two are usually in the same room, and most often curled up together (if not trying to muscle in on each other's games). A couple cuties from an afternoon nap on our bed:

alert but snuggling

Oh, nevermind then... zzzzzzzz

Past kitteny goodness (reverse order): 36, 35, 34, 33, 32, 31, 30, 29, 28, 27, 26, 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, and 0

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Women at the helm

femsignWell, on continents other than ours, two women were inaugurated as heads of state this week. BagNewsNotes looks at some of the visuals that showed up in the news, and Echidne of the Snakes catches a couple more and adds a note about the language used to describe the new leaders.

No! the cuteness!

I really mean it. You were warned . . .

Pleasant surprises

A group of prominent conservatives have formed a group (Patriots to Restore Checks and Balances) to call for hearings into the NSA use of warrantless wiretapping.
Former U.S. Rep. Bob Barr, chairman of PRCB, was joined by fellow conservatives Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform (ATR); David Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union; Paul Weyrich, chairman and CEO of the Free Congress Foundation and Alan Gottlieb, founder of the Second Amendment Foundation, in urging lawmakers to use NSA hearings to establish a solid foundation for restoring much needed constitutional checks and balances to intelligence law.
I agree with Markos that this should never have been a partisan issue, but one concerning the fundamental principles of American constitutional government. It's heartening to see GOP heavy-hitters putting some clout behind these calls.

Update: Digby thinks this is just in keeping with previous behavior of movement conservatives -- that they're cutting Bush loose due to his unpopularity, having gotten what they could from him. Could be.

Mmmm, bigger!

Ampersand aptly skewers SUV drivers in a current cartoon pointing out the absurdities of owning such a beast. Not safer, not impressive, incredibly wasteful. What was the attraction again? Oh, of course, the neon flashing asshole alert! thanks!

Academic intimidation takes a new approach

wearyFirst it was Horowitz's protests and notices on liberal professor's doors, now a group focused on UCLA is paying students to report on professors who discuss too much current politics in class. First the Cultural Revolution and now the SS -- these guys really know how to play the greats! eesh.

(via Medley)

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Excellent point

An author at Wired explains the difference between anonymity and accountability, for those who fret over the shape and function of the Internet:
If someone isn't accountable, then knowing his name doesn't help. If you have someone who is completely anonymous, yet just as completely accountable, then -- heck, just call him Fred.
It's probably intuitively obvious for anybody who's ever used eBay or gotten to recognize someboy's handle in a blog comments section. But just as knowing our leaders' names hasn't helped us hold them accountable, the successful implementation of accountability doesn't require names. There are other good points here too about information and privacy; I recommend the whole thing.

(via Rebecca's Pocket)

Great line of the day

From Mithras (in the context of what constitutes suspicious behavior):
Sometimes I think we could make a dramatic improvement in this country if we gave random conservatives paid six-month internships to reality.
Yes indeedy! Find out how the other half 85% lives!

I haven't posted a poem in a long time


Every day
I see or hear
that more or less
kills me
with delight,
that leaves me
like a needle
in the haystack
of light.
grass bladesIt was what I was born for -
to look, to listen,
to lose myself
inside this soft world -
to instruct myself
over and over
in joy,
and acclamation.
Nor am I talking
about the exceptional,
the fearful, the dreadful,
the very extravagant -
but of the ordinary,
the common, the very drab,
the daily presentations.
Oh, good scholar,
I say to myself,
how can you help
but grow wise
with such teachings
as these -
the untrimmable light
of the world,
the ocean's shine,
the prayers that are made
out of grass?
- Mary Oliver
(via whiskey river)

Another strong Gore speech

kicking assContinuing to revel in his post-official role as Emeritus Voicepiece of the Left, Al Gore apparently gave a barnburner of a speech in honor of Martin Luther King's holiday, comparing the wiretapping scandal to surveillance that King suffered, castigating the fearful for their willingness to throw out civil liberties along the way, and generally saying many Things That Needed Saying (but probably still won't be heard). Full transcript here, and a pithy outtake about the adverse effects of fear in politics here.

Oh, yuck

From the Things I Wish I Didn't Know files comes this compendium of grossness in the average hotel room, including bodily fluids on the bedspread and carpet in swank resort lodgings.

(blame Follow Me Here)

Monday, January 16, 2006

Cronkite calls for Iraq pull-out

Striking. [Registration required.] In particular, he thinks we missed a key opportunity to pull out of Iraq when hurricanes Katrina and Rita made the need for resources at home so glaring and immediate.
"I think we would have been able to retire with honor," Cronkite said. "In fact, I think we can retire with honor anyway...we've done everything we can," he said, adding, "It is my belief that we should get out now."
Indeed. Not sure that Cronkite's opinion carries the weight today that it did for Johnson, but every voice in the chorus is another that might be heard...

Faith and politics: a rumination

My fellow Philly-blogger Above Average Jane has challenged me and other of her fellows to celebrate King day in part by exploring the question of how our faith (or lack thereof) informs our politics. I tend not to talk about my beliefs much directly (or more via my frustrations than via my hopes), but think she’s right in her assessment that the conservatives have laid claim to the “values” realm for long enough. So here are my thoughts on the matter.

I was raised in a “mainstream” liberal Protestant denomination of Christianity, which taught me about this crazy wonderful guy who taught the revolutionary notion that God loves everybody. Reflecting this morning, it feels to me like this message had two main prongs:
  • That it’s not enough to love the lovable, but instead we are called to love the unlovable --- the diseased, the sinful, the mangy, even our enemies. I don’t really understand how so many Christians can make the leap from this to the judgementalism and self-righteousness that are the most common face of modern Christianity. To love the unlovable is not at all easy, but what it requires is clearly the opposite of passing judgement on others for not living up to our own standards. Instead I would say it encompasses
    1. understanding for what it means to be “human” (and thus flawed)
    2. compassion for real need, even when it results from poor choices
    3. forgiveness of others for their stumbles and errors (again and again if necessary)
    Jesus woodcutWas Jesus just a misguided fool to spend time with lepers and prostitutes? If not, then there’s a lot that needs doing, in terms of food and clothing for the poor, spreading compassion and human understanding for the sick and outcast, understanding the sources of hatred among our enemies and trying to make peace with them, and generally learning to treat the people near and far as “brother” not “stranger.”

  • Second, people who have accepted God’s love and acceptance for themselves are supposed to repay those gifts by living out their faith with joy and service to others. Note that this is not about getting ahead but about putting others first. There’s a creepy trend today toward overlooking the verse about “it’s more difficult for a rich man to get into heaven than for a camel to get through the eye of a needle” in favor of a more Ben Franklin-esque “God helps them that helps themselves” and thus viewing wealth as a repayment for righteousness, but Jesus was more of a socialist, with his calls to give away all that you have and dedicate your life to service. Most Christians won’t become ministers or aid workers, but everybody can find ways to use the gifts in their lives to better the lives of the poor, raise up the dignity of humanity generally, work for peace, or just be a light/support to those around them. It amazes me that the same people can call America “a Christian nation” and yet think that it should be cutting social services, or squeezing people out of equitable treatment, or locking away potential enemies for all time. Perhaps I’m more likely to pass over Franklin for the quote from Lincoln which reads “I think not much of a man’s religion whose dog or cat is not the better for it.” There are a lot of sheep that need feeding, in body or in spirit.
Also, thinking about this question of faith and politics, I realize that I am a bit of an adherent of a civic religion too. That is, I have believed that we are a nation of laws and principles, and that we have been an example to the world in our acceptance of immigrants, our commitment (although not always perfect in practice) to equality of opportunity, our willingness to work with other nations for the common good, and our protection of an unusual body of rights for the individual resident/citizen. I didn’t realize how deeply these were connected with my image of the nation until I received the shock of how quickly others were willing to disregard almost all of the above. That they consider questioning national choices or even championing of national principles as threatening to America’s interests leaves me feeling morally rudderless to a degree that an atheist’s questioning of my religious beliefs never would. I think that our nation has a communal responsibility to its citizens and to those of other nations, not unlike the responsibility that I think Christians (or really all well-meaning folks) have to their fellow man, and the thought that the U.S. is abandoning that responsibility leaves me horrified. It also motivates me to be a force for political change, to restore not only a leadership that I can believe in, but the moral “soul” of the country, as one that thinks not only about brute force and its own short-term interests, but about the well-being of the weakest among us, the health of the world we all share, and the dignity of men and women in all nations and circumstances. It’s a huge motivation, and these days it feels like a calling as important and any religious obligation.

That’s my take. I also agree with Jane that the Democratic party needs to get over its discomfort with religion (and with framing many questions in ways that seem to pit it against religion).
The Democratic Party tends to discuss the separation of church and state not as a way of respecting all faiths and denominations within faiths, but as a way of keeping religion at bay as if it were an evil to be avoided. My faith makes me a stronger person, a better person, and it is sometimes hard for me to work in harmony with a political party that views it as a sign of a weak-mind.
Many of the party’s core values are congruent with those I mentioned above, and we should be comfortable with those who ground such principles in religious faith or find there the motivation to put their values to work in the world.

Dr. King, say

[For those interested in more perspectives on these issues, Jane is attempting to compile links to such ruminations in her post here. Thanks to her for the challenge!]

Friday, January 13, 2006

Quote for the weekend

It is a weakening and discoloring idea that rustic people knew God personally once upon a time but that it is too late for us. There never was a more holy age than ours, and never a less. There is no whit less enlightenment under the tree on your street than there was under the Buddha's bo tree.
--Annie Dillard
(via A Mindful Life)

In light of all that's happened...

I think we need a little extra kitteny goodness going into the weekend. So here's a shot of Pasha at 10 weeks (just after we brought her home), giving her usual look of intensity/alarm...

what? where?

Ah... that's better.

Too much head-banging

...leads to a dented desk (or the inability to focus). And yet . . .

Bush authorized illegal NSA wiretaps before 9/11

The twin towers, just an excuse to implement a vision of domestic and international hegemony that had been the dream for years. (Remember that 1998 neocon memo justifying invasion of Iraq?)


some justiceRobert Bork on Alito's playing of the hearings.
BORK: The object nowadays is to get confirmed. People will say pretty much -- or avoid saying pretty much [anything] in order to get confirmed.


Specter officially endorses Alito -- says he doesn't want to "be coy with the press" and that he intended to vote for confirmation. Hearings over, but more third-party testimony planned; guess it's already considered irrelevant? Can't listen to the rest of this broadcast, as the rest of the cheerleaders chip in.

Another reason not to have a cell phone

Anybody can buy your call records with no questions asked. And you thought that the government was the problem? They're just pointing the way for corporate greed-heads, stalkers, and all the rest. Many people no longer think that their privacy really exists to protect.

(via Echidne of the Snakes)

Today's reader tip

grocery timeThere are things that are worth buying organic and others that aren't. Find out which are which via the nice people at Consumer Reports. It's not quite as obvious as you think.

(Note: there are sometimes additional reasons to buy organic/health prepared foods, such as their nonreliance on transfats and high-fructose corn syrup to make their products appealing...)

(via Follow Me Here)

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Well said

Shakespeare's Sister does an admirable job of dissecting the difficult question of how charged topics can be addressed with humor, or what distinguishes offensive from funny. (And, man, some of those shirts really are for pricks.)

(via Alas, a blog)

Self-doubt: not just for Democrats anymore?

Did I hear this right? Some Republicans are actually questioning the breadth and use of their party's power.
"We seem adrift, uncomfortable with our ability to reach big goals and unsure about what we stand for as a conference. Lacking a common vision that expresses our hopes for what America can still become and our shared commitment to realizing those hopes, we've fallen into a dangerous and demoralizing cycle of the status quo, where we struggle instead of strive," Boehner wrote.
Hmmmm... "We know what we're against, but not what we're for" -- sound familiar to anyone?

Science proves obvious things

News flash: people are remarkably groggy when they first wake up!!
In those first few bleary-eyed minutes after waking following a good night’s sleep, a person's cognitive ability may be more impaired than if they had no sleep at all, suggests a new study.
It took three hospitals working together to track that one down!

Next up: office teaspoons tend to disappear. There's no stopping the march of knowledge!!

(both via Follow Me Here)

Are there worse outcomes than the loss of Roe?

femsignAmpersand at Alas a Blog has a post looking at the possibilities for an Alito Supreme Court, under the presumption that Roe would stand but that freedom of choice would continue to be dismantled in the piecemeal fashion that has left so many without access to clinics or options.
Without overturning Roe, they will attempt to pass new laws that will make it in practice impossible for many or most women to get abortions. And most of these laws will be "stealth" abortion bans, laws designed to seem moderate or reasonable on the surface (and therefore protecting Republican congressfolks from voter backlash) while actually banning a wide range of abortion procedures.
It's worth reading the whole (depressing) thing, not least for the legal change that he predicts ("applying the Salerno standard"), which would mean that constitutional challenges would offer no protection from even obviously bad laws, at least not in the short time-frame relevant to a pregnant woman. Oy.

Quote of the day

Most of the shadows of this life are caused by standing in one's own sunshine.
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson
(via the coffee sutras)

Thursday kitten-blogging: strange angles edition

Pixel has the habit of lying in some very strange positions, as though she could unhinge her shoulders at will. It gives her a lionish look, but I honestly don't know how she does it (or maybe why no other cats do). Sometimes she will lie, say, atop a cat tree at its corner, with one front leg hanging off of each side as though she'd forgotten that they belong to her. Other times she lies on the ground similarly, with each arm way out from her side before it turns forward, as though she were lying aroundsome invisible bowl. Here is a recent example from two angles.

Pixel's flop
zzzzzzz...... (oh, are those feet mine?)

Pixel's flop
from the side you can see that they're sticking straight out into space...

What am I missing?? (Maybe she's just from a "boneless chicken ranch" sort of background...)

Past kitteny goodness (reverse order): 34, 33, 32, 31, 30, 29, 28, 27, 26, 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, and 0

Lifelong bubble

Turns out that our President's bubble-encased lifestyle didn't begin with his ascension to power: somehow he managed to grow up without any sense of the feelings of the era. That is to say, his "post-9/11" concerns seem sharp, but somehow "duck and cover" passed him right by...

Wednesday, January 11, 2006


I dunno, between the drum beat of "Alito is terrible" and "the hearings are pure performance art," the news feels a bit too depressing to blog. That, and Blogger is choking today. So, um, look for kittens tomorrow and expect to have to muddle through without me today...

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Alito update

Since the conservatives are so fond of rolling out the baseball analogy (Hatch said, "We do not evaluate an umpire’s performance based on which team won the game but on how that umpire applied the rules inning after inning."), it's rather telling that virtually all of Alito's rulings favor the same team. Even Scalia occasionally is persuaded by the arguments of the other side. But Alito is a machine man. filibuster.

(via kos)

Update: ok, usually I'm enough of a haiku purist to cringe at these little doggeral bits, but the Alito hearings in haiku (opening day edition) is pretty cute. Concise, at least, for the transcript-averse among us.

Update 2: BagNewsNotes offers some visuals from yesterday, noting the predominance of red in all the scenes -- making sure those "red-state voters" know which side Alito is rooting for?

Update on New Orleans

The January 8 editions of Harry Shearer's radio program "Le Show" featured a number of locals from New Orleans talking about the state of their city in recovering from hurricane Katrina -- what is almost normal again, what is terribly in need of fixing, what kinds of difficult decisions are still to be made. They point out that news organizations aren't giving this much coverage around the nation -- because we've moved on to more exciting current news (Alito! wiretapping!), because the stories are complicated, and because the mix of optimism with devastation is hard to capture. But this discussion does a pretty good job, and I recommend giving it a listen.

direct link to Real Audio program
show archive, where you can select the particular segment and see some other content info

I recommend this show generally, for its mix of news with biting satire ("Apologies of the week," installments of "Clinton-something," invented discussions among national leaders) and great music along the way. Live on NPR, or streaming audio on the web.


in the papersApparently the New York Times, filling its pages with ever-more-virulent conservative opinionators, has decided that caricature is not allowed on its op-ed page. Come again? I mean, I know they avoid the indignity of having a comics section, but doesn't this pretty much spell the end of their publishing any meaningful political cartoons? Or did they never have any? "All the news that's not too troubling!" eesh.

Quote of the day

A king can stand people fighting but he can't last long if people start thinking.
-- Will Rogers,
humorist (1879-1935)

Monday, January 09, 2006

Ashamed of his own beliefs

Why does Alito deny much of his own record? Is he not to be believed, or are his beliefs something to be ashamed of? As kos says,
While conservatives like to pretend that the country is with them, their actions speak louder than words.

If the country is truly with them, why do they have to spin, lie, and frame away the things they truly stand for? Scalito is just the latest in a long history of efforts to hide what they really stand for.
They know what the country would think of their actual motivations, which is why they're so fond of secrecy in all its forms...

I heart Howard Dean

kicking assI was never a Deaniac back in the day, but since he's been DNC chair, he's more than won me over (not unlike the surprise hitter Senator Reid). His latest spiffy performance was a slap-down of Wolf Blitzer, who was spouting the GOP talking points (that I anticipated here).
DEAN: There are no Democrats who took money from Jack Abramoff, not one, not one single Democrat. Every person named in this scandal is a Republican. Every person under investigation is a Republican. Every person indicted is a Republican. This is a Republican finance scandal. There is no evidence that Jack Abramoff ever gave any Democrat any money. And we've looked through all of those FEC reports to make sure that's true.
Hear that drumbeat, Republicans? It's. All. Your. Scandal. Learn to live the karmic come-uppance.


Not content with insulating themselves from dissenting opinion and the peskiness of real facts, the GOP has now sponsored a measure that makes it illegal to email or post "annoying" messages. Of course, it's patently unconstitutional, as well as logistically uninforceable (annoying by what standard?), but still, more of the inanity that has consumed the right. In classic form, "moderate" Specter was among those who stuck this little goodie into an omnibus Department of Justice funding bill so that it would be sure to pass. grrr...

(via a Medley furling)

local wit Philadelphia Will Do chimes in on this one enjoyably...

It's considered passe

...to still give any thought to the 2000 election. But there's been a lot of time to look through the evidence of what happened in Florida, and some of the results are quite different from the impression that we have gotten.
hanging chadsEverybody had thought that the chads were where all the bad ballots were, but it turned out that the ones that were the most decisive were write-in ballots where people would check Gore and write Gore in, and the machine kicked those out. There were 175,000 votes overall that were so-called “spoiled ballots.” About two-thirds of the spoiled ballots were over-votes; many or most of them would have been write-in over-votes, where people had punched and written in a candidate’s name. And nobody looked at this, not even the Florida Supreme Court in the last decision it made requiring a statewide recount.
It was mostly in black voting districts, where people are paranoid about having their votes discounted and thus wanted to be sure that their choice was clear. Sadly their care had the opposite effect.

How much could you stomach?

That is, if your leader were killing kittens?
Purely hypothetical, of course...

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Supporting the troops

Again with rhetoric lacking substance: this time it's about the large number of casualties that could have been prevented with extra body armor, available and recommended, but apparently too much of a bother for the Pentagon to supply. But all those guys have yellow ribbons! eesh.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Looking after their own

Scooter Libby has a soft landing pad: he's been hired by the conservative think-tank the Hudson Institute. As Echidne says:
The wingnuts do take care of their own, don't they? A nice job with a good salary and a pulpit from which to still affect American foreign policy. Plus, there is even time for extra consulting!

Quote of the day/weekend

When you consider something like death, after which (there being no news flash to the contrary) we may well go out like a candle flame, then it probably doesn't matter if we try too hard, are awkward sometimes, care for one another too deeply, are excessively curious about nature, are too open to experience, enjoy a nonstop expense of the senses in an effort to know life intimately and lovingly. It probably doesn't matter if, while trying to be modest and eager watchers of life's many spectacles, we sometimes look clumsy or get dirty or ask stupid questions or reveal our ignorance or say the wrong thing or light up with wonder like the children we all are. ladybug It probably doesn't matter if a neighbor, fetching her mail, sees us standing in the cold with our own letters in one hand and a seismically red autumn leaf in the other, its color hitting our senses like a blow from a stun gun, as we stand with a huge grin, too paralyzed by the intricately veined gaudiness of the leaf to move.
- Diane Ackerman
A Natural History of the Senses
(via whiskey river)

Another one of those thousand-word images

Today's cartoon by Tony Auth. I don't know what link will last longest -- here it is at UComics, and here at the Philadelphia Inquirer...

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Dean behind the scenes

The press still seems to enjoy their campaign-era view of Howard Dean as a crazy man, but he's turned out to be just what the Democratic Party needed -- not only a successful fundraiser, but somebody with an appreciation of how local organizing has slipped and can be revitalized. He's putting paid organizers into states with almost no infrastructure and helping them build a precinct-by-precinct set of leaders and volunteers who can be mobilized in every important race for years to come.
"Building the party's capacity," a favorite phrase of Dean and his staff, takes time, and results might not be visible for years. Fundraisers, in particular, like to see parties win elections, and many view the national committee as a vessel for money and message -- not for organization.

Dean based his chairman's candidacy on the opposite premise: cede the message propagation to the party's Cong. and state leaders, and use the national party's resources to birth more Dem precinct captains and seed victories years from now.
There's a long piece at the link, and it shows impressive developments in every part of the country. Go, team!!


DeLay headPopular culture meets government payola in

Kickback Mountain


Today's head-banger

Apparently the Bush administration now has a policy of filling all appointed offices between congressional sessions, so as to avoid the need for even a rubber-stamp approval process. aaaugh!!A couple craven cronies in there, but a lot of ordinary jobs and nominees as well... The degree to which these guys scorn the Constitution and the operations of law is truly jaw-dropping.

(via Medley)

Update: as a local editorial points out, some of these folks are so grossly unqualified that one can only wonder whether Michael Brown's success at FEMA is being held up as an example for future hires...

Maybe I'll actually tune in for an hour or three

The Oscars could prove unexpectedly interesting this year, with news that Jon Stewart has been asked to host. Sometimes familiar faces get lost in the sea of space and spectacle that is the Academy Award broadcast, but I suspect that Stewart will rise to the occasion well, with his mix of self-deprecation and political directness. Now, if only his writers could work on those sad presentation speeches too...

Latest installment of thought police

Apparently writing a book like this can get you branded as a potential terrorist. Apparently without recourse. (Then again, Joe Wilson could have warned you some time ago about the dangers of angering The King and His Minions.)

(via dailyKos)

Thursday cuteness

Well, the holidays are over, the world is starting to pick up again, and the Alito hearings begin on Monday. Seems like time to ease back into the rhythm of things, which, if you're a kitten, means getting in some extra naps . . .

lounge cats
Pasha and Pixel in good form
(5.5 and 7.5 months, respectively)

Previous double-kitten showings: snuggles, Thanksgiving, cones, forms of love, lounging, more games, P&P wrestling, catspage

Quote of the day

The problem with being sure that God is on your side is that you can't change your mind, because God sure isn't going to change His.
- Roger Ebert,
film-critic (1942- )
(via A.W.A.D.)

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Fair and balance *this*!

forehead smackEditor and Publisher gives a rundown of papers who overtly called upon Clinton to resign over the Monica Lewinsky affair. It's basically every paper you've ever heard of.
Indeed, the Philadelphia Inquirer responded to the coming of the Starr report this way: "Bill Clinton should resign. He should resign because his repeated, reckless deceits have dishonored his presidency beyond repair."
But all that "we would never wiretap without a warrant" crap is just, you know, no big deal, right? grrrrrrr...

Government has no effect on my life

Anybody who's ever thought/argued that should take a look at this post, and/or talk to the spouses of the miners whose deaths might have been prevented if the safety oversight system were functioning. (I leave the obvious analogies about the environment, corporate greed, and national security as an exercise for the reader.)

Believe in the balance of power?

Then join the call for a rejection of the Alito nomination. We need a Supreme Court that's more than a rubber stamp for the Bush Administration's power-grab. (If you want more background, see the links from Howard Dean's letter above, or see my previous post here.)

Not nearly as bad as those other guys

A new national slogan?
I'd sure hope not, but I've lost the ability to clock how fast the bar is falling...

(headline stolen from A Prarie Home Companion's old ad,
"Guys' Shoes: at least as good as those other shoes...")

Pretty impressive

I'm not sure that these photos really fufill their mission of Overwhelming Cuteness, but I was totally wowed by this snail stretching across a gap. Never would have guessed they could do that; much better than the long way around. Biology! huh.

(Oh, and get your weekly dose of cuteness while you're there!)

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Whedon snark

JossThe best kind.

Joss Whedon eyes the future of TV.

Extra tasty for the Buffy/Firefly fans out there, but why limit yourself?

(via boing boing)

Belated Christmas musing

kid oakland has some musings about Christmas, and also about the real-life man who sometimes gets lost in the constructions and controversies that swirl around his followers . . .
When folks say they want to put Christ back into Christmas....I wonder what they really mean. Do they mean Jesus? Jesus from Nazareth?
Written a year ago, and not dated in the least...

Damned piece of paper

Sometimes it bites you in the ass. Even hardcore conservatives are turning against Bush over the wiretapping scandal and its exposure of his complete disregard for the rule of law.
Compared to Spygate, Watergate was a kindergarden picnic. The Bush administration's lies, felonies, and illegalities have revealed it to be a criminal administration with a police state mentality and police state methods. Now Bush and his attorney general have gone the final step and declared Bush to be above the law. Bush aggressively mimics Hitler's claim that defense of the realm entitles him to ignore the rule of law.
Yeowch!! Maybe there's hope that this time he's actually gone too far . . .

A little fear for the new year

elephant...for Republicans who enjoyed the favors of Jack Abramoff, that is -- he's pleading guilty and planning to help the feds pull in their nets...
Mr. Abramoff, 46, is pleading guilty to fraud, public corruption and tax evasion, setting the stage for prosecutors to begin using him as a cooperating witness against his former business and political colleagues. In exchange, Mr. Abramoff faces a maximum of about 10 years in prison in the Washington case.
A lot of heads are gonna roll as this thing gets going! And they won't be donkeys!

see this digby post (wait for the link to jump down) for an explanation about why it's ridiculous to call this a bipartisan scandal -- the problem is integrated into the way the GOP/business/lobbying machine is structured, and thus it runs deep in that single party.

Quote for a new year

It is never too late to become what you might have been.
-- George Eliot
(via A Mindful Life)

A plan for having a plan

That whole "plan for victory in Iraq." whatev'.
At one point, the oil there would pay for our undertakings; now there's a fuel crisis on the ground. More recently, our National Strategy included rebuilding their infrastructure to leave them better off than before (or at least stable enough to leave behind), but now we're just blowing that off at even the pretense level. My head hurts...

(via dailyKos)

Update: Jeanne at Body & Soul has some pithy remarks on this latest development as well...

Alito shows his hand, and Bush is ready to shake it

That is, Alito is on record in saying that the President may bring his own interpretation to legislature enacted by Congress (and should spell it out in the process of signing that legislature), and Bush follows that guidance in reserving the right to ignore specific regulations recently passed concerning sale of weapons and use of torture. You know, it's the law unless I prefer otherwise.

Will somebody step into this on the side of a balance of power?? Filibustering Alito seems key, but almost beside the point as the country slides into autocracy...

Best of Amp

cartoon yellI often link to posts by Ampersand at Alas, a blog, because he does excellent work at sourcing his claims and at arguing his positions. Indeed, on many issues, both feminist and of more general relevance, I find his posts to be my definitive resources for recurring arguments. Anyway, he just posted his own best posts of 2005 list, and if you missed any of them the first time around, go catch them now. (Was the Terry Schiavo thing really this year? Time is truly elastic!!)

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Well, that sort of clears things up...

Congressional leaders wanted to talk to the President about questions about the Patriot Act.
"Stop throwing the Constitution in my face,” Bush screamed. “It’s just a goddamned piece of paper!
One rather always suspected that that was his view. Now we know.

(via knotted knickers)