Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Another score for Harry Reid

The GOP filibuster of the minimum wage was brought to an end by a combination of threats, not least the declaration by Senate Democrats that Congressional pay-raises would be put on hold until the minimum wage hike passed. (I note with some satisfaction that the same linkage was used to excellent effect in Pennsylvania last year.)

Good news and bad news from the sex wars

Good news: fantastic ad campaign to prevent rape via appeals to men -- "my strength is not for hurting" is the theme (link to a series of posters). Imagine! men can stop rape (link to the sponsoring organization); it's not all up to the women to keep themselves cloistered and/or armed with mace. A heartening development. (Also worthy of note is that a subset of the posters are aimed at same-sex sexual violence: "When I wanted to and he didn't, we didn't.")

Bad news: the latest development in the competitive Seattle coffee market? half-naked barristas. Another opportunity to remind the sex class that even a regular job (minimum wage) should involve showing a little skin. (Or, to quote Twisty, "Is there anything that porn can’t fix?")

(via Twisty commenters, and the blamer herself, respectively)

Through a slanted lens

newspaperRecent research by political scientists has revealed that, however much the American people may be ready for black/minority candidates, journalists appear not to be.
Three interesting results emerge from these content analyses of national and local newspaper coverage. First, journalists disproportionately underscore the race of black candidates, while virtually never identifying white politicians by their color, no matter the circumstances. Second, journalists covering a black candidate are more likely to emphasize party affiliation and voter demographics, while providing relatively less coverage of substantive issues; fewer policy questions are discussed in white-black elections than in any other scenario. Finally, journalists tend to muzzle racial messages from candidates, or campaigns, while nevertheless accenting race themselves.
Thus, by anticipating racial concerns from voters, journalists are, in fact, triggering those concerns by their own actions. We can only hope that they will use up some of that energy in these early days of rumble about Obama et al., so that we can talk about more substantive issues by the time that broader attention to the primaries rolls around. There are too many important issues facing our nation right now for us to get bogged down in superficialities...

(via Follow Me Here)

When will they stop hating America?

Vice President Cheney's office won't even disclose how many people work there. What on earth?! Don't we pay them? (I mean, much to boggle the mind, even before the obvious irony about his much lesser concern about Valerie Plame's actual covert employment...)

Monday, January 29, 2007

Bad news, but useful frame

The bad news is that the US Comptroller says budget teetering on the verge of needing a tax doubling to pay things back to health. The good news is that Crooks and Liars comes up with a good frame for this:
The right has done a good job of smearing Democrats as "Tax and Spend Liberals." But those of us in the reality-based community know that the money is still being spent, the question is when we take it in. So in my continuing quest to reframe the debate, I move that we hereby dub the Republicans the party of "Borrow and Spend," because all they're doing is borrowing against our children's and grandchildren's taxes.
About right, and putting it this way might help take the air out of the tiresome "tax and spend" refrain, because doing that would be so much better than the current system (at least the budget would balance that way; these guys just spend and spend and hope that money will grow on trees...). Of course, good rhetoric is no replacement for fiscal responsibility.

(via Medley)

Another powerful veterans' ad

empty bootsLike the body armor ad that aired before the election, this anti-surge advertisement makes its point in no uncertain terms. The American people and the troops abroad want the same thing; for the latter to come home safely. What does George Bush want?

Friday, January 26, 2007

When does the greed stop?!

Ted Kennedy upbraids the Republicans for their unwillingness to bring the minimum wage to a vote, and their insistance on piling it up with amendments (either for delay or to make it unacceptable to proponents in the end)...
Do you have such disdain for hard-working Americans? ... What is it about it that drives you Republicans crazy? what is it? ... What is it about working men and women that you find so offensive?!
That's about right. He's been around long enough to recognize "filibuster by amendment" when he sees it... How much must be funneled to the rich before the working poor get their crumbs?

(via kwestone at dailyKos)

Friday Sid-blogging

I have heard the clamoring of my readers, and I have responded: fewer cat photos, more Sid! This one comes from this past Thanksgiving (or rather, the Saturday before, at the traditional local feast hosted by pal Karen).

Sid grins!
Formal, yet stylish...

Previous Sidly appearances: holidays, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1

Thursday, January 25, 2007

That McCain sure is a maverick!

Once again he's bucking the will of the insiders American people, by voting to get rid of the minimum wage -- not just not raise it, you realize, but get rid of it entirely. Somebody please tell me that this guy has no real chance as the GOP nominee...?

(via Atrios)

Need a good laugh?

I tripped over Mark Day Comedy as a result of his SoTU rant (which covers everything from politics to Oscars to whoknowswhat), which more than repays a two-minute investment, but it's worth the extra time to dip into the greater random wonderfulness of the House Takeover and Will It Blend vids. Beyond that, you're on your own...

Quote of the day

reflections in a weedy pondEvil is like a shadow - it has no real substance of its own, it is simply a lack of light. You cannot cause a shadow to disappear by trying to fight it, stamp on it, by railing against it, or any other form of emotional or physical resistance. In order to cause a shadow to disappear, you must shine light on it.
- Shakti Gawain,
teacher and author (1948- )
(via A.W.A.D.)

Just because you're paranoid...

...doesn't mean that there wasn't confirmed vote-rigging in Ohio in 2004. Enough to swing an election? Who knows. But those crying foul weren't just wearing tinfoil hats.

(via a Medley furling)

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

You know global warming is becoming hard to deny...

...when industry executives call on the President to implement mandatory regulations.
The executives, representing major utilities, aluminum and chemical companies and financial institutions, said the cornerstone of climate policy should be an economy-wide emissions cap-and-trade system.
Hard to even take this in!

(via dailyKos)

Well said, sir

I didn't listen to this year's State of the Union, finding a reason to be out of the house all evening. But I found this transcript of Webb's Democratic response quite inspiring. It holds the President accountable both for what he's promised and for what he's overlooked, with a warning that the new majority in Congess doesn't intend to stand idly by. Let it be so!

(via Medley)

Update: dailyKos offers some point-by-point critique of Bush's claims, which appear to have massaged the facts in more than one instance...

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Evidence you're doing ok

Wow -- a pop essay in class leads to a work of art. It's good to know that sometimes we can teach our kids just the right things (or at least stay out of the way as they pick up the key things on their own, if so wired).

(via Medley)

Quote of the day

quiet flowerYou cannot think straight with a heart full of fear, for fear seeks safety, not truth… A heart full of love, on the other hand, has a limbering effect on the mind.
– William Sloane Coffin
(via A Mindful Life)

Monday, January 22, 2007

Neat idea

Learning a new language, or watching one fade from lack of exercise? An online service called Mixxer allows you to find a native speaker of that language to practice on (and then allow them to practice your native language, which they're learning, on you). I guess you speak online using Skype (a free Internet-based phone system), so you can be anywhere in the world. Better than the average pen pal!!

(via upyernoz @ rubber hose)

Sprawl begets more of same

That is, urban sprawl leads to larger waistlines, as those in the car-dependent suburbs fail to find the daily exercise outlets that are a part of daily life walking in the city. This seems obvious in many ways, but is rarely part of the discussion about regional planning and development (any more than anybody ever mentions the energy-efficiency of city dwelling, where row houses and high-rises cut down on energy waste during heating and cooling seasons)...

Philly skyline

(via boing boing)

Not forgotten...

Bob Harris thinks that Hillary Clinton may be unelectable. I think it's hard to judge that at the moment, especially given her strong polling against even such rising GOP stars as Guliani. However, the view of her among Democrats remains quite divided, not least because of the uncompromising positions she's taken during her time in the Senate:
In the wake of 9-11, it wasn't just George W. Bush telling the world "every nation has to be either with us or against us." It was Hillary, as you can hear for yourself.

In October 2002, during the debate about giving Bush authorization to invade Iraq, it wasn't just Dick Cheney telling the world in that Saddam Hussein had links to Al-Qaeda. It was Hillary, from the floor of Congress.

And in February 2005, it wasn't just John McCain claiming that democracy was taking root in Iraq, and that the insurgency was in its last throes. It was Hillary, standing right at John McCain's side.

Yeah. So President Hillary would be soooooo much better about Iraq. Clap louder, everybody. Make it come true.
Plenty of people were wrong on the war initially, but some have continued to make their wrongness a prominent part of their public presence, and I'm not sure this is the time when folks are going to feel interested in rewarding that...

(via This Modern World)

Update: in a different vein, the TPM Cafe offers a comparison of the fundraising approaches of the Clinton and Obama camps...

Not enjoyable, but apt

DailyKos offered a response to Sanctity of Life Day, including frim reminders of our leaders' disregard for human life and dignity both at home and abroad.

Better late than never

snowflakeIt started to feel like winter here over the last week or two, after a December with many days in the 60s (why did we cover up our patio furniture, again?). Today I awoke to a slight coating of snow, which makes it official. Of course, now I'm spoiled and prefer not to shiver on my way to work, but so it goes . . .

Friday, January 19, 2007

Data deluge

Just really cool, and yet with a wealth of deeper levels to plumb, this visual map of per capita income and life expectancy for the world's nations (dynamically shown from 1975 until today) blew my mind. I think I've run it a dozen timea already, following different questions/aspects on each pass.

(via coworker LRP)

Update: a grim observation here -- you can watch the effect of AIDS in Africa by tracking the plummet in life expectancy during the 80s and 90s. eep.

Three bits for Friday

Good news: New York City will pioneer an attempt to let 311 and 911 call centers accept digital images. Probably some danger of spamming, but imagine being able to record real-time images of fleeing criminals, proof of code violations, caller location, etc... If this works, perhaps it will spread to other cities (although really, here in Philly we'd be happy just to have reliable 911 response!).
(via boing boing)

Bad news: Senate Republicans are obstructing a bill on ethics and lobbying reform, holding it captive to their desire for a line-item veto for the President. I'll take mangled priorities for $200, Alex...
(via Talking Points Memo)

Interesting: The Pew folks releases a survey of Internet usage during the 2006 election, including the statistic that some 14 million Americans now consume, create, and/or distribute information online. Lots of interesting analysis of the break-down too -- I like that fact-checking candidate claims is the 2nd most common goal.
(via Talking Points Memo)

(p.s.) have my image hosting account back up and about half reloaded, so I guess you can expect the emoticons and other small images to start trickling in again soon. (however, going back to patch all the broken archives is a much bigger project...)

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Thursday cuteness

Tiger cubs might just trump regular kittens, in part because of the oversized squeaky and noddy-ness . . .

Not a bad start

The Democrats have made some hay with the start of their new session:

list so far, with time remaining

Of course, there's still the Senate, and/or the veto stamp of George Bush ahead for some of these things, but at least the House has sounded the battle cry of the Reasonable American...

(via dailyKos)

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Does this sort of thing have hope? or only as a gesture?

Woolsey, Waters, and Lee introduce a bill to bring our troops home within six months, including additional funds for Iraqi training, and also guarantees of decent veterans' health coverage. I don't know whether there are coordinated plans to pursue something like this, as opposed to Murtha's approach of using his committee to restrict funds for an escalation, and/or others. Is political will building?

Update: Apparently it's a veritable downpour of such measures, both symbolic and substantive. Still the question remains of whether any can pass, and/or whether they will have any effect on the Bushites.

I... I.... but... but...

Are there any laws in the land at all, to Gonzales' eye? Or is the difference between "right" and "wrong" only meaningful in the eye of his Leader? It creeps me out on so many levels, but not least through fear for the future of our democracy...

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Another week, another attack on civil rights

The Bush Administration now claims that civilians may be tried in military courts, as long as they had the temerity to visit Iraq, whether as contractors, reporters, or who-knows-what. I never cease to be amazed at the scorn that these guys have for "the American way of life" that they talk so much about...

I had yesterday off

MLK, image not lost!...and didn't blog from home either, so two belated Martin Luther King, Jr., bits for those who might not have gotten a full serving on his Day: the Liberal Street Fighter notes King's strong views on Vietnam, and how they might apply today, and here's my own offering from two years ago, of gleanings from his later (non-Dream) speeches that we tend not to hear so much about...

(first link via Medley)

Friday, January 12, 2007

It's not enough to take away habeus corpus

...or drive the inmates of Gitmo insane; now the Administration is threatening lawyers who have the nerve to attempt to uphold our legal structure by offering representation to detainees. Somehow an accused mass murdere deserves representation, but a poor schlump caught up in a massive neighborhood sweep in Afghanistan deserves to never see daylight again.

This stuff is beyond scary anymore...

Modern-day kibuki

A wonderful visual rendering of the abstraction that passes for safety instruction given by flight attendants.

(via kottke)

Quote of the day

The butterfly counts not years but moments and has time enough.
-Rabindranath Tagore,

poet, philosopher, author, songwriter, painter,
educator, composer, Nobel laureate (1861-1941)

Punished for foresight?

Eric Alterman has a good piece on how supporters of the war continue to demonize war opponents, even after their predictions come true, changing the charges as needed. It does get pretty tiring when predictions that a tactic won't work become morphed into claims that the predictor "wants them to fail." More proof, I guess, that winning the rhetorical war is more important to some than a positive outcome on the ground -- a byproduct of doing rhetoric for a living??

(via Atrios)

A good time for Friday cat cuteness

Given that most of the rest of what I'm going to blog is war and mayhem, I'd like to start with the rather simpler and more enjoyable image of one of our cats in her eccentric routine. For some reason that we can't quite divine, Pasha (now about 18 months old) likes to hop into our soaking tub when we're in the bathroom brushing our teeth et al. Perhaps it's the great echo chamber for her mewps ("you could be petting me!!"), or maybe she once found a splashy puddle in there and lives in hope, but anyway, this is a relatively common sight:

Pasha in the tub I
Here she's stretched luxuriously on the tub seat.

Pasha in the tub II
Here she's down in the foot well, presumably fresh from worshipping the drain...

Previous Pasha-blogging (in reverse order of appearance): 15, 14, 13, 12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, arrival, teaser3, teaser2, teaser1, homepage

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Three fronts

This can't be good...

(via ned balzer at TPMcafe)

I won't be marching tonight

I think it's touching that there are so many Stop the Excalation rallies, here in Philadelphia and presumably elsewhere around the nation. But we have to remember the powerful and moving shows of anti-war sentiment worldwide in the run-up to the Iraq invasion, the millions filling the streets of major cities and capitals in all parts of the globe (see, e.g., here), and their complete lack of effect on what followed.

I'm sorry, but it's still the Bush administration. They don't care what you think.

Don't expect a big news story on this

Cracks are showing in the famed Republican phalanx, as Representatives break ranks to vote for the 100-Days Agenda of Sanity (in striking numbers)...

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Well said (the elusive center edition)

A Huffington Post piece does a good job of capturing the current state of the culture wars, be it political, partisan, or social issue in substance (emphasis mine):
Beware the dirty hippies. They're immature and irresponsible. They're utopians and dreamers. They meddle with lives and hate Christian values and blame America first and root for terrorists. They want free sex and legalized drugs and mandatory abortion. They want to eat your babies. They heart Satan.

This enormous backlash against revolutionary leftism continued growing and gaining strength long after revolutionary leftism petered out as a political force of any real influence. The narratives and habits of mind bequeathed us by the culture war are with us still, despite the long-ago disappearance of one combatant. It's shadowboxing on a nationwide scale, and it shows no signs of abating.

Any number of examples could be cited. The same dynamic plays out on virtually every issue: there's the virulent far-right position, funded by deep-pocketed reactionaries and pushed by talk radio, an enormous network of mutually reinforcing conservative pundits in every major media outlet, an entire cable news network (three now, really), and numerous powerful politicians in leadership positions in every branch of government. Then there's the avowedly liberal position, represented by some obscure professor or a guy in the comment section of a blog or a random placard at a protest. Then there's the "centrist" position, which is the far-right position with the edges rubbed off.
. . .
In other words, the "center" has become utterly detached from facts, substance, or majority opinion. It's an insular, self-sustaining myth, all about the vanity and egos of powerful people in the Beltway clusterfuck.
Indeed. Much of the energy driving the "netroots," new progressive political organizing, and many other changes in recent politics is the desire to recreate an actual left to balance the (heavily weighted) right, which is why cries of "bipartisanship" and "triangulation" lead to such clamor and frustration.

(via Hullabaloo)

The uppity American

This Modern World offers some thoughts for idiot pundits. heh.
It's hard being a peon.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

In surprising twist, evidence of Republican hypocrisy!

The old filibuster, once labeled obstructionist and un-American, now discovered to be great tool for minority input into legislation. Would you look at that!

(via rubber hose)

Well ok then!

John Murtha, now chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, reasserts in no uncertain terms that Congress has ultimate power over the pursestrings and that the Executive should be consulting with them before making major increases in military commitment. Will be interesting to see where that leads...

Update: Ted Kennedy introduces legislation to restrict the President's right to plunge ahead without Congressional approval. Party on!

Update 2: There's plenty of precedent out there for such limits-setting by Congress. Not that I expect that to prevent a lot of Republican fist-shaking...

More developments that surprise only those at the top...

The execution of Saddam Hussein has turned him into a martyr. Boy, we're doing wonders with those hearts and minds...

(via XOverboard/Some Guy with a Website)

Monday, January 08, 2007

Good to know that it snows somewhere!

Spent the week around New Years in Yellowstone National Park, enjoying the strange mix of deep snow and steaming thermal features (along with scattered wildlife and a bit of snowshoe and cross-country ski action). Altogether spiff.

clouded sun over snowscape

a small geyser

(You can take the whole tour via the FlickR set here.)

Now back in Philadelphia, where we hit 70 degrees over the weekend. Am taking solace in the fact that somehow that failed to be a record high . . . Onward, ho!

Friday, January 05, 2007

Two worthy bits on social science and bias

Both from Alas, a blog:
  • The thing that's bad for you is being sedentary, not being overweight. Americans are so disgusted by their fat that they constantly try to give that hatred medical underpinnings, but the data just isn't there. An oversized person who doesn't get out of breath climbing a flight of stairs is much better off than a skinny person who does.

  • Discrimination against blacks is pervasive and detrimentary, even in those contexts such as employment and education, where whites tend to complain about "unfair advantages." A white applicant fresh from prison is still more likely to get a second job interview than a black applicant with a clean history, given identical resumes. In related news, those who complain that they've been bumped from college by affirmative action students are way off base according to the actual statistics. The impact on white applicants is virtually negligible.
Ampersand continues to provide some of the best analysis out there of real research data on these and many other topics; thanks to him for his time investment and insights.

Ugh (the ongoing series)

Part of our "new direction" in Iraq appears to be retooling the military for an Iran front. Guess that "message from the electorate" didn't even make a dent...

Quote of the day

Half of the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don't mean to do harm but the harm does not interest them.
- T.S. Eliot,
poet (1888-1965)
(via A.W.A.D.)

Thursday, January 04, 2007

I wasn't using my civil rights anyway...

Those folks who used to say, "If you don't like America, why don't you move to Russia?!" must have said it a few too many times, because our President appears intent on bringing that cheery Soviet atmosphere to us here. That is, in yet another of his beloved "signing statements," he's claimed the right to open anybody's mail at any time without a warrant.

Remind me, what are our troops fighting to protect, again??