Monday, April 30, 2007

what a bunch of sick maggots

Various women bloggers report threats from men with extremely violent and sometimes sexual elements. What kind of sick maggot threatens to rape a woman of any sort, whether a blogger or not? The same kind that made sexually explicit threats against the "anti-catholic" women bloggers on John Edwards' campaign.

Real men aren't threatened by accomplished women.


Friday, April 27, 2007

can she do that?

Condi Rice, current Secretary of State and former National Security Advisor, says she is not inclined to respond to a House subpoena to appear and answer some more questions about the chicanery that led to the Republican invasion of Iraq. "Been there, done that" Condi says, talking about her confirmation hearings before taking over at State. "And anyway, I don't hafta answer," she added.

Why? Because "This all took place in my role as national security adviser" and under separation of powers, "advisers to the president under that constitutional principle are not generally required to go and testify in Congress."

Now, Condi was kind enough to offer to write a letter to Congress. And while you'd think it would be nice to see a member of the de facto Administration wanting to uphold the Constitution, in fact she's just parroting more of the radical monarchical theory of the unitary executive. You know, she works for the President and therefore it's like she's part of the President's brain, and nobody can tell the President what to do with his agents.

Not even Congress? Can she really just refuse to respond to the subpoena? Would that have worked for Clinton's advisers?

Thursday, April 26, 2007

an interesting relic of a by-gone age

The obituary headline in the Post reads "GOP Leader, Feminist Mary Crisp Dies at 83." Look at that headline more closely -- when was the last time you saw "GOP Leader" and "Feminist" used to refer to the same person? Probably not since 1980 when Crisp protested the Republican Party's decision to abandon support for the Equal Rights Amendment. That was, of course, the convention that nominated Ronald Reagan for president. And Crisp, a Goldwater Republican, instead supported John Anderson.

This headline is like a buggy whip or a butter churn -- an interesting relic of a by-gone age.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

the british are coming! the british are coming!

But this time, they're coming in a good way. See if the Queen is coming to your neighborhood next month. If not, go to the Kentucky Derby to have a shot at seeing the old dame.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

the stench of republican corruption gathers more attention

The obscure Office of Special Counsel has opened an investigation into Karl Rove's activities. As Tom Hamburger writes in the Los Angeles Times, "The new investigation, which will examine the firing of at least one U.S. attorney, missing White House e-mails, and White House efforts to keep presidential appointees attuned to Republican political priorities, could create a substantial new problem for the Bush White House."

And it isn't an investigation being run by Democrats so the White House can't boo-hoo about a partisan witch-hunt. And it will look at a wide range of Rove's political activities. "Political" is actually redundant -- EVERYTHING Rove does is political.

Let's hope it also looks at the 2004 Ohio elections, where annoying little tidbits like the fact that several Bush-leaning districts reported better than 100% voter turnout still give indications that the final vote there maybe really DID better track with initial exit polling data. Remember, when dissing exit polls, that they tend to be very accurate -- accurate enough that they prevented the Ukrainian government from stealing its last election -- and ALL of the "exit poll errors" in 2004 were corrected in a way to FAVOR the Republicans, a fishy set of coincidences.

rodriguez' 14 home runs

So baseball's best shortstop-playing-thirdbase Alex Rodriguez has hit 14 home runs in 18 games for the Yankees -- the fastest anybody has reached 14 homers at the start of a season. That is a pace for 126 home runs; he'd pass Barry Bonds' single season record of 73 by the All-Star Break.

So what does that prove? Well, not much. We already know Rodriguez (whom I refuse to call A-Rod) is a great hitter. Mostly, it proves that extrapolating statistics from a small sample size is stupid, whether in baseball or in economics or in real life.

give a wiccan a break

Glad to see that the de facto Bush Administration, faced with losing in the courts, has decided that the Wiccan symbol (the pentagram) may be chosen for the headstones at Arlington National Cemetary and other federal cemetaries. I mean, why the hell not? They have, in addition to the relatively common Christian cross, the Jewish Star of David, and Muslim crescent and star, symbols of more obscure religions -- and even a symbol for atheists. Not to mention symbols for religions I never even heard of -- the Aaronic Order Church, anybody? Konko-Kyo Faith? Eckankar?

Why so long for the Wiccans? Because George W. Bush and his theocon buddies think they are witches, like the ones we burned in Salem, Massachusetts, that drink the blood of babies and all that sort of rot. In fact, they are basically fairly benign nature worshippers who see themselves more akin to the ancient Druids.

I find the Wiccan religion to be fairly incomprehensible and not entirely logical. But hey, that's how many religions seem to me, so if somebody wants that symbol, they should be allowed to have it.


boris yeltsin, RIP

Yeah, yeah, we think of Boris Yeltsin, who just died, and we see modern Russia, a kleptocratic society descending into renewed dictatorship under Yeltsin's hand-picked successor, Vladimir Putin, and we think "he wasn't so hot." But remember also Yeltsin defying the Communist Party, resigning and being elected to the Soviet legislature against a Communist candidate, and being overwhelmingly elected President of the then-Russian Federated Soviet Republic in elections the Communists didn't dare fix.

And also remember that without Yeltsin, those right-wing reactionary Communists who mounted the coup against Gorbachev in August 1991 may have succeeded. Yeltsin climbed on that tank, rallied popular support against the coup, and was the single biggest push to collapse the reactionary Communist forces. He also helped guarantee the independence of the 14 non-Russian republics in the old USSR.

His presidency was mixed, no question. But Yeltsin played a pivotal role. Anne Applebaum puts it well: In truth, he belonged neither to the Soviet Union, which Gorbachev had hoped to revive, nor to the West, which Putin now rejects. Had we ever been realistic about him, we would have understood his limitations from the beginning -- and appreciated his strengths. And had we not embraced him uncritically, we would have been less disappointed when things turned out differently from what we, too, had hoped.

Monday, April 23, 2007

careful what you eat, eugene

From the Washington Post:

"The Food and Drug Administration has known for years about contamination problems at a Georgia peanut butter plant and on California spinach farms that led to disease outbreaks that killed three people, sickened hundreds, and forced one of the biggest product recalls in U.S. history, documents and interviews show."

But they had to rely on producers to police themselves.

I accept that it is probably acceptable to allow businesses with good records to police themselves when it comes to food safety. The FDA simply can't test everything, everywhere, and risk analysis shows that usually, this is safe. But you'd think that with repeat offenders like the Georgia peanut butter plant, the standard of oversight would be higher.

Meanwhile, a former food industry executive Peter Kovacs points out that we really don't know how safe Chinese and other foreign foods are -- just look at the pet food mess. He says we need a stricter set of regulations to make sure food ingredients are traceable (as in Europe), and we "should impose strict liability on manufacturers that fail to enforce traceability standards."

I read this wondering what the catch is. Maybe there is one -- maybe Kovacs thinks that such standards will be easier for US producers to meet than low-cost producers in Asia or Latin America, and that will offer a little protectionism as well as food safety protection. Or maybe he's sincere... but I read anything by former industry executives with healthy degrees of skepticism that maybe isn't fair to Kovacs.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

chertoff's latest misdirection

Michael Chertoff continues in the de facto Bush Administration's tradition of lies, misdirection, and self-delusion. The latest example was in his fevered missive in the Washington Post today. Chertoff writes to counter what former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski wrote in the same pages on March 25: "The 'war on terror' has created a culture of fear in America. The Bush administration's elevation of these three words into a national mantra since the horrific events of 9/11 has had a pernicious impact on American democracy, on America's psyche and on U.S. standing in the world. Using this phrase has actually undermined our ability to effectively confront the real challenges we face from fanatics who may use terrorism against us."

Chertoff said Brzezinski just doesn't get it. We really ARE at "war" and not with the tactic of terrorism, but with "a global movement and ideology whose members seek to advance totalitarian aims through terrorism." After calling Brzezinski naive and bringing up the Iranian revolution (which did happen on Brzezinski's watch), Chertoff says we should look at the threat Al Qaeda and "others in its ideological terror network" pose.

Now Chertoff, the Hero of New Orleans, says that the struggle IS a war. Why? Because Osama Bin Laden said so. Oh, well that's easy then. At least Chertoff recognizes that Bin Laden is important. Wonder why we haven't caught him, over 5 1/2 years after 9/11?

But let's recognize the fact that it isn't a war in the normal sense of the word, any more than the War on Drugs or the late War on Poverty are. And it certainly does NOT warrant comparison to the Cold War. If Chertoff doesn't remember, Brzezinski certainly does -- that was a war with the world's second-most powerful military and a couple of dozen client states aligned against us, where large-scale conflict against a well-equipped modern military was a very real possibility. Not to mention the thousands of nuclear warheads we aimed at each other. Now THAT would have been a war.

Chertoff said that Al Qaeda and other Islamist groups "aspire to dominate all countries. Their goal is a totalitarian, theocratic empire to be achieved by waging perpetual war on soldiers and civilians alike. That includes the use of weapons of mass destruction."

Well, actually Mr Secretary of Homeland Security (hey, why are YOU writing this? Wouldn't this be better from Condi Rice or Bob Gates or old whats-his-name, the current National Security Advisor? Maybe they weren't willing to put their names to this fanciful piece of crap.), they don't. They would like to bring Islamic rule to Islamic countries. Some of them even dream of reestablishing the Caliphate, from Spain to India. Of course, there are also people who dream of reestablishing the Bourbon monarchy in France. Dreams don't equal capability.

And speaking of capability, Chertoff would have us believe that their goals are "not entirely fanciful." Sure, they "sometimes achiev(e) control of territory" -- but that is only of territory in failed states like post-Soviet invasion Afghanistan or Somalia. Or post-2003 Iraq. In functioning states, they have YET to take control of anything significant. But if we continue to destabilize enough states as we have Iraq, I'm sure their odds of gaining control of somewhere will improve. Hey, the Taliban is on the verge of regaining control in Afghanistan...

As for Chertoff's consequences -- it is true that 9/11 was pretty damn bad, especially for those poor people who died in New York, Arlington, and Pennsylvania, and their families. (Maybe Bush should have listened to his anti-terror chief Richard Clarke in 2001, eh?) Same for those killed in Bali, Madrid, London, Morocco, etc. But as terrible as that attack was, it didn't pose a threat to the existence or form of the United States.

Chertoff does say something I agree with. We can't win this so-called war with guns; "'soft' power matters." Right. Soft power as in influencing people in important places to convince them that our side in the campaign against terror is the right side.

But Chertoff doesn't note that Iraq is only a theater in this campaign because we INVADED it. Remember, Iraq and Saddam had absolutely ZERO connection to 9/11. About the same involvement as Idaho, and way less than Saudi Arabia. And our soft power has if anything been aimed firmly at our own feet, as the de facto Bush Administration consistently chooses the options that make us LESS identified with being right and just.

It is amazing how much post-9/11 good will we have pissed away by our actions. By invading Iraq without good reason. By giving reasons for our actions that are demonstrably false. By torturing people in the name of protecting our rights and freedoms. By proclaiming that anybody who doesn't agree with us 100% is against us. By locking people up without trial for years. By arresting people based on the flimsiest of evidence -- as in a denunciation by an Afghan tribesman who can settle an old family score AND make a few thousand bucks by accusing his neighbor of being a terrorist. By kidnapping people from other countries and flying them to places where our friends will torture them on our behalf. And I don't mean just taking people out of places like Iraq and Afghanistan -- I mean the CIA kidnapping people from the territory of a friend and ally like Italy without asking permission of Italy's government. How would WE react if Italian secret agents grabbed somebody on the streets of Dallas and bundled them off to another country without our permission?

Not to mention the fact that by killing some huge number of Muslims in Iraq -- tens of thousands or more likely, hundreds of thousands -- we are, as Egypt's President Mubarek predicted, creating many more recruits for anti-US Islamic terrorist groups.

Chertoff closes with an exhortation we would all do well to heed: "history teaches that the false comfort of complacency is a dangerous indulgence in the face of a determined enemy."

That's true. And that's why we can't afford to see the actions of the de facto Rove I mean Cheney I mean Bush Administration as just dirtier-than-usual politics. The Great US Attorney Massacre is one front in Rove's effort to create a permanent Republican regime by pushing greater levels of voter suppression. Alberto Gonzales and others in Bush's inner circle want to criminalize media reporting. They want us to shut up, be happy, and let our superiors -- that is, this small elite of theocon/neocon Republicans -- tell us what to believe and how to behave, in exchange for them keeping us safe. Maybe.

And that's what this op-ed piece by Chertoff is about. Misdirecting our attention from the corrupt and power-grabbing nature of the unitary executive Bush regime.

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Saturday, April 21, 2007

remember another alberto plot

When not firing US attorneys for failing to support the Rove "voter fraud" initiative or finding ways to justify torture, remember that de facto Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is busily seeking ways to stop the US media from publishing anything the administration doesn't want them to publish, in particular with respect to terror.

Scott Horton at Harper's notes that Alberto went to Britain a couple of years ago and spoke to his British counterpart about the UK's Official Secrets Act. From a British official in the meeting:
“it was quite amazing really. Gonzales was obsessed with the Official Secrets Act. In particular, he wanted to know exactly how it was used to block newspapers and broadcasters from running news stories derived from official secrets and how it could be used to criminalise persons who had no formal duty to maintain secrets. He saw it as a panacea for his problems: silence the press. Then you can torture and abuse prisoners and what you will—without fear of political repercussions. It was the easy route to dealing with the Guantánamo dilemma. Don't close down Guantánamo. Close down the press. We were appalled by it. But not surprised.”
As Horton notes, it is so much easier to torture and rendition and lock up people without trial if the pesky media just wouldn't write about it. I'm sure it would be easier to rig elections too, if revealing the activity were automatically a crime. Things like the Official Secrets Act are the reason we LEFT the British Empire. Really, this sort of thing isn't just a plot against the first amendment, as Horton called it. It is more accurately a plot against a democratic form of government. Or would you like a media as subservient to power* as they have in Putin's Russia?

*I mean, more subservient than Fox News or the Drudge Report even.

defending imus by defaming king

Last week Washington Post columnist Colbert King had a column about Don Imus's frequent resorts to racist commentary; King decried politicians and media figures for appearing on Imus' show despite his habit and for not standing up to him by calling a racist a racist.

This week, at the end of a column about Hillary Clinton accepting $800,000 from a fundraiser hosted by rapper Timbaland, who uses the word "ho" once or twice in his lyrics ... per line, King shares some of the emails he received after his Imus piece.

You can read King's entire column here, but copied below is a sample of the sort of crap he copped from Imus supporters.

"These two [yours truly, and another African American Post columnist] are the dumbest of the current black race-mongers at the Washington Post." -- J.S.

On (King's) reference to attending Francis Junior High School: "You never did matriculate, did you?" -- B.W.

Regarding (King's) membership in the National Association of Black Journalists: "Why don't you work for a paper owned and run by Blacks?" -- Angry White Chick.

"Clearly, seeking out and writing about (White) discrimination and stoking up racism is your job. Discrimination-hunting pays for your nice house, your late model cars . . . In fact, it's the only reason you have a job. Nobody would read your articles if you wrote about anything else." -- J.K.

"I am fed up with Imus but I am even more fed up with black people . . . Yes, all African Americans. As a whole. [Imus] was a piddling story to be making such hoopla over." -- R.S.

"Imus was the fall guy for a culture of rap and hate radio that, unfortunately, will never change." -- P.M.

"Get a life. Or maybe instead try dealing with where Imus learned to talk that way. Hip Hop and Rap, ohh but you wouldn't get the play you get by jumping on the bandwagon to silence someone who is white and rich." -- D.B.


King said he loves his job. When he gets emails like that, you suspect he's being a bit ironic.

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Friday, April 20, 2007

"hopeless, helpless, and lost" -- Cho family

I feel really bad for the family of Virginia Tech shooter Seung-Hi Cho. They issued an eloquent statement of regret and heartbreak. A few quotes below, from Cho's older sister, Sun-Kyung Cho, drawn from this AP report:

"He has made the world weep. We are living a nightmare"

"Our family is so very sorry for my brother's unspeakable actions. It is a terrible tragedy for all of us. We pray for their families and loved ones who are experiencing so much excruciating grief. And we pray for those who were injured and for those whose lives are changed forever because of what they witnessed and experienced. Each of these people had so much love, talent and gifts to offer, and their lives were cut short by a horrible and senseless act."

"We are humbled by this darkness. We feel hopeless, helpless and lost."

a bloodbath?

De facto President Bush ventured to Ohio to tell us all that a too quick pullout from Iraq would lead to a bloodbath. Well, on average the number of people killed violently in Iraq every DAY is equal to roughly three Virginia Techs. And the average hasn't dropped since the so-called surge began.

Hmm, but a monthly death toll almost equal to that of 9/11 in a country with less than a tenth of our population looks like a bloodbath to me.

Bush also said that if we pulled out that, unlike in Vietnam or Cambodia, the "enemies" in Iraq would "follow us here." Once again, I am confronted by the basic question about Bush -- is he really stupid, or is he lying? And again, I am confident the answer is "both." Iraqis are blowing our military members up because they don't want them there. They are blowing each other up because they just don't much care for each other and are jockeying for position in the post-occupation Iraq. The Iraqis aren't going to follow us here, and they are responsible for 99% of the violence there.

Now, the elements that call themselves Al Qaeda in Iraq might like to follow us here. Good thing that we took care of Bin Laden after 9/11, right? Oh wait, I guess we didn't...


a call for compassionate dismissal

It is terrible to see a person who clearly suffers from a terrible mental disorder struggle to answer questions about important events that happened just a few months ago. If de facto President Bush were really compassionate, he would fire Alberto Gonzales so Gonzales could seek immediate treatment for whatever horrible brain parasite is eating his memories.

It is significant that Republican Senators, in particular fellow Texan Jon Cornyn, Tom Coburn (who called on Gonzales to quit) and Lindsay Graham were so harsh with Gonzales. But I wonder if I detect some political strategy there. First, it is simply self-preservation not to side with somebody whose credibility is somewhere below Martin Short's lying man from Saturday Night Live days.

But I think they're also trying to keep the focus on Gonzales' mistakes and incompetence, and away from the criminal acts that are behind this scandal. Coburn, for example, said "I believe there's consequences for mistakes. . . . And I believe the best way to put this behind us is your resignation."

But the Great US Attorney Massacre wasn't a "mistake" in the minds of Gonzales or Karl Rove. It was a conscious part of the long-standing Rove strategy to push the concept of "voter fraud" (GOP code for "vote suppression"). And it was a move to punish attorneys who were too vigorous in pursuing real cases of Republican corruption (take a bow, Carol Lam, for nailing Randy "Duke" Cunningham) and were too lax in pushing cases against Democrats at a time politically expedient for the White House and Republican members of Congress from New Mexico (if not elsewhere, too).

Remember -- the scandal isn't about Gonzales lying to Congress (although that, too, is a crime). It is about firing those people to impede investigations and punish attorneys that didn't hew closely enough to the White House's political desires.

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

"It is outrageous. How am I supposed to communicate?"

BlackBerries were down, and the crackberry addicts were suffering. Like the guy who said, "It is outrageous. How am I supposed to communicate?"

Poor fellow. Gosh, just how DID we communicate in those dark days of 1998, before the BlackBerry allowed us all to take our work with us everywhere we went?

if you voted republican, you voted for this

Roe vs. Wade isn't dead, but it's taken a hit. The Roberts-Alito-Scalia court approved a so-called partial birth abortion ban that doesn't allow doctors to take the health of the woman into account.

It doesn't matter what your reasoning was, but if you voted for George W. Bush in 2000 or 2004, you voted for this. If you like this decision, then fine. You probably won't much enjoy Vaguely Logical.

If you are concerned about this, quit rationalizing your vote for Republicans as being for fiscal restraint (ha ha ha) or less regulation on businesses (hope you enjoy global warming) or strong security (inattention to terrorism before 9/11) or family values (how many divorces do Newt and Rudy have between them?). It was also a vote for religious thugs who want to impose their beliefs upon the rest of us. Or worse yet in many ways, it was a vote for somebody who doesn't believe that crap but is willing to go along with the theocons to get ahead.

If you voted Republican, you voted for this.

carnage and corruption, a day in the life of the republican party

Even by recent standards, Wednesday wasn't a great day for the not-so-Grand Old Party. Alberto Gonzales is apparently prepared to "admit mistakes" in the Great US Attorney Massacre scandal. Ooooh, "mistakes." Not quite ready to admit to a felony, or obstruction of justice, or finagling with prosecutions for partisan reasons and to subvert elections, but that's progress. Hang in there Alberto -- with enough of these baby steps, I'm sure you can get to the point of admitting crimes soon.

And speaking of crimes, the FBI raided another place of somebody connected to everybody's favorite orthodox Republican lobbyist and corruptor, Jack Abramoff. This time, it was the Oakton, Virginia consulting business of Julie Doolittle, wife of California Republican Congressman John Doolittle. Seems old Jack hired Julie to do a little fundraising for some Abramoff charity -- probably the Abramoff Fund for Micronesian Sweatshop Owners. Anyway, all involved swear there were no improprieties. They aren't admitting mistakes yet, let alone admitting crimes.

A little farther north in Washington, World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz, neocon Republican architect of the Triumphant American Imposition of Democracy and Peace and Capitalism Throughout the Middle East, has an idea. His idea is to offer to make changes in how he runs the Bank. I think by "make changes," he means "begin to obey the rules and regulations of the World Bank that are supposed to defend against cronyism and nepotism, to say nothing of giving big fat raises to the boss's little sweetums." Let's see. If I've been making illegal drugs in my basement and get caught, and I tell the cops that I would now like to offer to stop breaking the law and start behaving, will they let me go with a chuckle and a warning? Probably not. Wolfowitz has been hard on corruption in developing countries. Why should the Bank go any easier on him?

And finally, the carnage. Over 230 people were killed violently in Iraq yesterday, around 160 in one bombing in Baghdad alone. Wolfowitz should be fired for his corruption at the Bank, but his corrupt manipulation of the intelligence and lies and exaggerations about the "threat" posed by Saddam and his alleged (non-existent) ties to Al Qaeda (in which he was joined by many senior Republicans) are much more serious. For those acts, being tied to a suicide bomber and never knowing when the guy will pop the trigger might be a more karmically appropriate fate.


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

don't be sorry

Yung Yang, a South Korean living in Virginia, said about the Virginia Tech shootings "Every Korean person is so very sorry."

It's a nice sentiment -- but Yang and other Koreans shouldn't be sorry about what Cho Seung Hui did. Sure, they can be sorry and feel sympathy for the victims and families -- we all do. But they shouldn't be sorry because it was done by Cho.

It isn't the fault of Koreans! White Americans don't apologize every time some angry white male does something like this -- and after all, it usually IS a white male that goes on a killing spree.

So, Yung Yang, be sad -- but you don't have to apologize.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

virginia tech and a modest proposal

When I first heard about the killings at Virginia Tech, I banged out a quick, sarcastic response to what I knew would be the defense of the gun-rights fundamentalists -- that limiting access to handguns wouldn't have prevented this killing. It is true that the killer could have gotten weapons and gone on this rampage even if buying handguns were difficult in Virginia or elsewhere in the USA. But you know, the United States is not dramatically a more violent place than countries like Britain or Canada. Just that we have easy access to guns and many more handguns are floating around, so a brief flare-up of violence that might end up with somebody being knifed or beaten up in Birmingham, England can end up with one or more people actually dead in Birmingham, Alabama (not picking on Alabama here -- could also compare Versailles, Ohio to Versailles, France).

Anyway, here is the sarcastic response. Do I need to tell you that you should have your irony cap on?

Another shooting tragedy, this time at Virginia Tech University in small town Virginia. The fact that this guy was able to murder 32 people before killing himself is proof that our gun laws are badly outmoded. The important question of whether or not to possess a gun should not be left to individual citizens, without regard to the welfare of society at large. No -- gun ownership should be MANDATORY. And not only should ownership be mandatory, every person aged 14 and over should be required to actually CARRY a loaded firearm at all times.

I mean, think about it. If every one of those students -- and the professors, administrators, gardeners, janitors, tutors, and HVAC technicians -- had been armed, that murderous SOB might have been deterred from committing this outrage in the first place. And if he HAD decided to do the shooting (after all, he killed himself so I presume he was prepared to die) anyway, surely he wouldn't have shot more than 5 or 10 people tops before somebody blew his brains out. We'd just have to trust that the student self-defense shooters would practice appropriate caution with their firearms and wouldn't accidentally riddle each other with lead in a murderous crossfire.

Now naturally, there might be a few more instances of people shooting each other every time they get in an argument or something if everybody 14 and older (but we could grant birkenstock-wearing liberal peaceniks, Buddhists and girly-man cowards religious exemptions) has to carry a gun. But that is the price of liberty and autonomy. After all, we shouldn't expect our government to protect us from every little risk like being shot dead in your car for maybe cutting off some other driver or idly checking out some guy's girfriend, or from being fired from Circuit City for making too much money, or from living on a planet subject to increased floods disease, and famine due to human-caused global warming, now should we? Because that would be Godless Communism.

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Monday, April 16, 2007

the kids aren't alright

Darragh Johnson writes in the Post today about school kids who are worried sick over climate change.

Apparently, these young people are better than the Republican Party and de facto Bush Administration at discerning the difference between "junk science" -- the GOP phrase for any science that they find inconveniently conflicts with their religious beliefs or ability to keep on making money -- and reality. And the reality is, at the moment the Republicans as a party prefer to sow doubt and act as if there were a controversy over human-caused climate change than to consider steps to at least try to mitigate the changes that are coming, or to slash carbon levels to avoid (maybe) a planetary disaster.

These worries are right -- the kids aren't alright, and neither are the rest of us if this goes unchecked.


Sunday, April 15, 2007

really, "uninhibited"?

In an otherwise depressing article about DC United crashing 4-2 at home against the Kansas City Wizards was one sentence that made me smile. In describing KC's second goal, Steve Goff writes: Johnson made a run to the center of the box, accepted Sealy's cross and slid the ball to the uninhibited Sasha Victorine for a rising shot between Perkins and the near post.

"Uninhibited" Sasha Victorine? What, did he do a celebratory strip-tease after the goal? Nah -- I think Goff meant "unmarked" or "unimpeded", even "unencumbered". But unless Goff is trying to tell us something about Victorine's off-the-field personality, I don't think he meant "uninhibited" here!


Saturday, April 14, 2007

a historian bush and cheney love

It seems that out there is a prominent historian who has some unusual views. He approves of past uses of concentration camps, saying they were for the protection of the incarcerated. In a province riven by religious strife, Mr Historian thought that throwing members of one religious group into prison on flimsy grounds was good policy. Defending the massacre of hundreds of women and children by the troops of an occupying army, Mr Historian approves and notes that gosh, after such a massacre there was less violence in the region. Mr Historian praises white supremacists who want to reimpose white rule not only on South Africa and Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia) but want to reestablish colonialism over all the non-white races.

Sounds like a lunatic fringist, doesn't it? Some Holocaust-denying Hitler lover? Somebody who thinks Joe Stalin was a misunderstood hero?

Nope, this is the British neo-imperialist historian Andrew Roberts, who pines for the days of the British Empire and explicitly calls on the American Empire I mean Republic to take on the mantle of white I mean "English-speaking" rule around the world.

And this man gets to have private lunches with de facto President George W. Bush and his manipulator I mean sidekick Shotgun Dick Cheney. In fact, Roberts' wife said that Bush has a crush on Roberts. Eeeuuw.

I think I liked it better when Bush didn't read books. Better to stick to a diet of Archie comics than to read and approve of Roberts' 1880 view of the world.


an update on a series of republican lies and massacres

Wow, so many lying Republicans all making news at the same time, how exciting. Karl Rove's personal lawyer says that gosh, Karl was just sure that the Republican National Committee was diligently saving all of his emails. And golly gee, Karl has nothing to hide so that's just fine. So no doubt Karl, who I am sure has taken to heart every single exhortation from systems managers about keeping your in-box to a manageable size, just deleted all those emails in a fit of electronic fastidiousness.

The Post editors opine that this email "puzzle" might, just might, be an important thing. They even admit that it is a topic worthy of investigation. Gosh, that's mighty even-handed of them. If this had been a Clinton political advisor, they'd have the "IMPEACHMENT" banner headlines ready to go, and Tom DeLay would already be plotting with Trent Lott about how quickly to bring on a trial.

But as I said yesterday, Karl and friends on the RNC, I hate to break it to you but just deleting them don't mean they're gone, as Rob Pegoraro explains.

Meanwhile, on what will likely turn out to be connected to the Great Rove E-mail Massacre, it turns out that loyal Bushies in the Justice Department did in fact consider replacements for several of the fired US attorneys months ahead of their dismissal, revealing yet another lie. At this point, it is safe to assume that anything the Justice Department says is a lie, and that the lie will be definitively revealed a few days later. And again, the Great US Attorney Massacre is NOT about misinforming Congress. It is about firing attorneys for prosecuting corrupt Republicans and it is about firing attorneys who were not suitably zealous in going after Democrats, no matter how feeble the case.

And finally, more on how neocon former Deputy Defense honcho turned World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz basically over-rode the system to make sure his girlfriend got a sweet, sweet raise. If she was boffing Wolfowitz and received this in payment, does that make her a prostitute? Enough philosophizing for now about this relatively unimportant detail, and about the fact that earlier Wolfowitz squeeze Shaha Riza had been identified as Libyan-born, and NOW is being called a Tunisian-born British citizen. Wolfowitz violated all sorts of policies that are hardly unique to the World Bank. And hell, the sheer lack of common sense in getting his fingerprints all over this should undermine any remaining confidence in keeping the Architect of the Triumphant American Sweep Through the Middle East in charge of a financial institution that among things, preaches to its customers the need for good governance and reducing corruption. Time for a Great World Bank Massacre to sweep at least Wolfowitz out of office.

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Friday, April 13, 2007

further proof that being rich doesn't mean you're smart

Evidence is overwhelming that amassing riches (or better yet, being born rich) does not automatically confer common sense. George W. "born on third base and thinks he hit a triple" Bush and Paris Hilton are classic examples of that.

But the latest example is New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine (D), who is worth maybe $71 million. Corzine is now in intensive care after an accident in his official SUV (hiss). Seems the governor wasn't wearing his seat belt. That violated New Jersey regulations for government vehicles, but really who can blame a state trooper for not forcing his boss to belt up?

But Corzine -- and all the rest of us -- should be smart enough to wear those damned seat belts without being told. It isn't the $46 New Jersey fine to fear, but rather the damage from being tossed around during an accident.

how dumb do they think we are?

Does anybody really believe those GOP emails are really "lost"? It's just too precious that the Republicans set up an entire parallel computer network in the White House to avoid government regulations that official emails be preserved. But for Dana Perino to get up there and say, "shucks we just don't know what happened to those emails and we shur do hope we's can find 'em" is particularly rich.

Senator Leahy isn't an IT expert. But neither am I, and even I know that emails aren't really "lost". To disappear, you need to make an effort to delete and erase and hide and obscure them. And even then, I bet they'll turn up. But Rove and his team just want to delay that day, preferably until January 2009.

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apparently, dead parliamentarians and destroyed bridges are members of the fruit family

You know, I was going to accuse Charles Krauthammer of again ignoring reality when I saw his latest column highlighting the "first fruits" of the surge. But then I read that he acknowledged the recent attacks against Iraq's Parliament - in the Green Zone - and the destruction of a major Baghdad bridge. So rather than accuse him of ignoring reality, I think I'll just settle for calling him a delusional partisan who is just this short of being as crazed as John McCain on Iraq.

Too bad that unlike McCain, Krauthammer's career (not to mention that of the myriad other pundits who cheered this stupd war) isn't on the line over his stupidity on Iraq.


another example of republican ethics

Gosh, who would have imagined that former Deputy Secretary of Defense and now World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz could add a new layer of unethical behavior to his magnificent first example, unethically duping a country into a war in Iraq by faking the intelligence?

This second example will cause many, many fewer deaths than the Iraq scam. But forcing the World Bank to give his girl friend the top employee rating possible and the biggest raise possible (not to mention getting top-level jobs for his under-qualified staffers in an organization where a PhD in economics is usually the bare minimum requirement) brings a new dimension. Wolfowitz adds personal corruption and venality to his ideological corruption.

All he needs to do now to complete a corruption trifecta is to be caught cheating on his taxes...

But still, I'm a charitable sort. So I'll give Wolfowitz a bit of free advice. When your employees are HISSING AT YOU, that is a good sign that you've fucked up. You're just lucky that most American military personnel are too respectful of authority to have done the same.


Thursday, April 12, 2007

two things about this op ed piece

Some former semi-senior schmuck at the State Department has written a piece published in the Post about the nasty things Syria is doing in Lebanon. Two things to ask yourself about this piece.

1. Why now? What new has happened in Syria? Far as I can tell, it's just a chance to get Nancy Pelosi's trip to Syria back in the news, and repeat again Syria's interference in Lebanon.

2. Why this person? Well, the writer isn't merely a former schmuck at State. She's a former schmuck at State called Liz Cheney who got her job at State because her daddy is somebody you may have heard of, de facto vice president Dick Cheney. Now, that fact might be relevant, but the Post merely notes, The writer was deputy assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs from 2002 through 2003 and principal deputy assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs from 2005 to 2006.

Not false, but incomplete. That would be like printing a piece by Woody Allen about the joys of adoption and merely identifying him as an actor and director without noting his own uniquely personal experience with the jollies I mean joys of adopting young girls.

The real unspoken subtext of this piece is, "daughter of vice president gets to associate opposition politician with nasty Syrian leader in a paper of record."

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two lessons on road rage

A young couple was killed in Maryland after a road rage incident. Two lessons from the sad story.

1. Don't let yourself get into a road rage race. Yeah, it's tempting when some jerk cuts you off or flips you off. But when you start driving like that, you increase your odds of killing somebody else, or yourself. Resist temptation.

2. Wear your seatbelt.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

it's a free country, don imus

You know, it's a free country*. Don Imus is free to call the women's basketball team at Rutgers "nappy-headed hos". But, being a free country, Imus' sponsors like Staples and Proctor & Gamble are also free to not advertise on Imus' show any longer.

Michael Wilbon writes correctly that this is hardly an aberration for old Don Imus. This wasn't a slip of the tongue, or a stupid out-of-character comment. Imus' descriptions of blacks as apes and cleaning ladies and all the rest of it are too frequent to give him the benefit of the doubt. Just like Mel "Sugar Tits I hate Jews" Gibson's track record is too well established to believe his protests that the bottle made him say those nasty things.

But I think Wilbon's probably right -- Viacom won't fire him because it will be tough to replace Imus with somebody else who gets similar ratings.

*Alberto Gonzales does not approve of this description.


Monday, April 09, 2007

and end to id all?

With today's shattering news, we can ask the question whether a long, ongoing tragedy will finally come to an end. I refer, of course, to the comic strips BC and The Wizard of Id. BC and Id cartoonist Johnny Hart died a couple of days ago.

Hart's BC had become controversial in the last 15 years or so for its overtly Christian overtones. But that's not the tragedy I'm referring to. I'm talking about how BAD both of these strips had been for so long. Rumor has it they were both pretty funny when they started, BC in 1958 and The Wizard of Id in 1964. But it's a fact that they had both become pretty stale a long, long time ago. I think they had both jumped the shark well before 1980 -- and still they appeared in our papers day after day, taking up valuable real estate on our size-constrained funny pages.

In Hart's defense, BC and The Wizard of Id were hardly alone in continuing on for years, decades even, after losing any sense of originality or humor. Peanuts was a shell (sorry) of itself by the end, Hagar the Horrible has lived up to its name for a long, long time, and Garfield was funny for about three months before it began repeating its lame lasagna jokes and its raison d'etre changed from humor (if that was ever the case) to reminding us of Garfield's existence so we'd buy his crappy merchandise. And reading Family Circus now is like experiencing one of Dante's circles of hell -- a particularly unfunny one.

Which makes me appreciate the decisions of people like The Far Side's Gary Larson and Calvin and Hobbes cartoonist Bill Watterson's decisions to call it quits before the quality of their cartoons deteriorated. I miss them, but better to retire while still producing quality comics than to descend to the depths of BC and The Wizard of Id.

And that makes me ask -- will Hart's death mean the end at long last of his two signature strips?


Sunday, April 08, 2007

john mccain still peddling his iraqi myth

Today presidential wannabe John McCain continues his Crooked Talk Express about Iraq in an op-ed piece in the Washington Post. It is full of unintentionally hilarious things as McCain bends and twists to make it look like the escalation I mean surge is working.

McCain (or one of his staff, more likely) writes: I observed that our delegation "stopped at a local market, where we spent well over an hour, shopping and talking with the local people, getting their views and ideas about different issues of the day." Markets in Baghdad have faced devastating terrorist attacks. A car bombing at Shorja in February, for example, killed 137 people. Today the market still faces occasional sniper attacks, but it is safer than it used to be. One innovation of the new strategy is closing markets to vehicles, thereby precluding car bombs that kill so many and garner so much media attention. Petraeus understandably wanted us to see this development.

Hey, what a good idea -- keep cars out of markets. But really, this is less progress than an acknowledgment that US and Iraqi security forces can't stop people from setting off car bombs in the first place. Stopping the practice of car bombs -- now THAT would be a real bit of progress. McCain also neglects to note that over 20 people died in his market shortly after his visit there -- a visit made possible by half-a-dozen helicopters and over 100 US military personnel, and even so, McCain had to wear a flack jacket to go there. Oh yeah, that's progress. He also fails to note that US personnel in the Green Zone even are now advised to wear helmets and flack jackets when walking from one building in that zone to another. Oh yeah, that's progress.

McCain does the usual thing, blaming the press for focusing on car bombs and mayhem and not the good things that happen in the US. Maybe he would have liked more coverage in the US on September 12, 2001 of the good things that happened the day before -- births, the beautiful weather, pet adoptions, the new CDs that were released on that Tuesday. One of the positives he cites is: · Iraqi army and police forces are increasingly fighting on their own and with American forces, and their size and capability are growing. Iraqi army and police casualties have increased because they are fighting more.

Now, pardon me if I don't become immediately excited by this. De facto President George Bush (remember him? He used to be the main cheerleader for Iraq before McCain took over that role) has been saying for over three years that as soon as Iraqi forces stand up, we can stand down. Many of the Iraqi casualties -- especially police -- aren't happening in fighting, but are execution-style murders. Naturally, that has a bit of a negative effect on recruitment, which four years later is nowhere near the level where they can really provide their own security. Not to mention all the stories about units refusing to deploy anywhere in Iraq but their own towns, about refusing to arrest fellow Shiites or Sunnis, about desertions at the first opportunity.

McCain's increasingly desperate optimism about Iraq frankly puzzles me. You'd think he was president already and was running for re-election on his own Iraq invasion.

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Saturday, April 07, 2007

good bye goodling, and dissatisfaction in minnesota

Washington's current scandal-ensnared Monica, Justice's Monica Goodling, has quit. All the better to prepare her defense I guess.

But the more interesting part of this report was news that three senior employees at the US Attorney's office in Minnesota demoted themselves rather than work directly for former Alberto Gonzales aid Rachel K. Paulose, recently appointed without benefit of Senate confirmation thanks to the quiet amendment of the Patriot Act. You may recall Paulose -- she was the Gonzales aide with delusions of grandeur one who had a ceremony for her new job more befitting the coronation of the King of the Belgians than the appointment of an assistant attorney in what is still, for the moment, a republic. I must say, based on that alone I don't blame them for not wanting to work directly under her.

But remember, boys and girls, as Alberto Gonzales' inept reign at the Department of Justice continues to unravel -- this isn't a scandal about misleading Congress over the dismissal of eight US attorneys. This is a scandal about the removal of US attorneys for either being too zealous in prosecuting Republican crooks like Randy "Duke" Cunningham, or for failure to politicize the office by indicting Democrats in New Mexico right before an election. And it is about the GOP effort to use the courts to suppress voters in predominantly Democratic areas.

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another important chapter in sino-american cooperation

It's so good to see that Communist China and the Arsenal of Democracy and the Leader of the Free World, the United States of America, can set aside ideological differences at times and work towards the same goals. Too bad that this particular goal was to weaken the report by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.


look who's going to disneyland

Disney has decided that same-sex couples may now book their big "Fairy Tale Wedding" package, complete with exchanging vows at a Disney park or on its cruise ships. That is an important advance -- gay couples too should have the right to blow entirely too much money on a stupid ceremony that would be better used to pay down credit card bills, making a down payment on a house, or retiring student loans.

It's fun to make fun of Disney, but actually their track record on treating gay customers and employees isn't bad...

Friday, April 06, 2007

feith-based belief in saddam's "links" to al qaeda

The Pentagon released a report from its inspector general that shows, surprise surprise, that essentially ALL of the intelligence community believed that Saddam Hussein's Iraq had no significant contacts with Al Qaeda, let alone an operational relationship. And Iraq had absolutely NOTHING to do with the attacks of September 11, 2001.

Except this one little office in the Pentagon, led by Tommy Franks' "dumbest fucking guy on the planet", one Doug Feith, discerned somewhere in the raw intelligence it was being fed by Curveball and others, a connection. And it was this small, political shop that the "evilest fucking guy on the planet", de facto Vice President Dick Cheney and his lackey George Bush, chose to believe. The White House took it on feith in the absence of any real evidence despite the disagreement of all other elements of the intelligence apparatus.

And now, 5 years later, we're ass-deep in Iraq and Afghanistan's not going so great either. Thanks, Bush, Cheney, Feith and the rest of you overly-credulous, evidence-distorting neocons.

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Thursday, April 05, 2007

the new york sun's liberal plot?

On April 4 the New York Sun ran an editorial about how absolutely spiffy a Dick Cheney presidential candidacy in 2008 would be. They think that if the de facto president I mean vice president ran that Bush's approval ratings would rise because somebody on the campaign trail would actually be supporting his policies. And if Cheney won, they see a glorious new day in America thanks to Cheney's conservative wisdom, and that of his wonderful wife Lynne.

There can only be four possible explanations for this editorial. One is that the New York Sun editorial board have drunk a near-lethal dose of the White House/Murdoch koolaid. Check for purple stains on their lips. The second is that they are indulging in recreational pharmaceutical substances -- perhaps they got Bill O'Reilly's doctor to give them unlimited prescriptions for Oxycontin. The third is that they simply missed April Fool's Day.

Or the New York Sun has been infiltrated by liberal activists posing as editorial writers and wrote this to urge Dick to run. Because there could be no possible candidate that Hillary or Barack or John or Chris or Bill or Bill or the rest of the Democratic field would like to run against more than Dick "19% approval" Cheney. The Democrats could nominate the corpse of Lyndon Baines Johnson against Cheney and could probably pull off the victory.

ag fighting for his political life

So poor, misunderstood de facto Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, advocate of torture, courtier to the would-be king, and owner of the most appropriate set of initials of any US attorney general in the history of the kingdom I mean republic, is working to save his ass I mean job. He's just beavering away, preparing for another round of testimony and calling various Republican members of Congress to beg them to please please please be nice to him and not make him give up his cushy job.

How can you tell he's serious now? Alberto even canceled plans for a family vacation -- surely that will impress his boss, de facto President George W. Bush, who wouldn't give up a vacation or even a long weekend for anything short of an alien invasion. And even then he probably would stay on vacation, if the aliens landed in New Orleans or some other Democratic stronghold.


Wednesday, April 04, 2007

why slander aaron while defending bonds?

MSNBC sports writer Mike Celizic tells us to accept the inevitable, and give Barry Bonds credit when he hits his 756th home run, which barring injury, a late ban from baseball for steroid use, or alien abduction will happen some time this summer.

We will have to "accept" it in the sense that there's nothing we can do about it (unless you know some aliens looking to abduct a grumpy slugger). But we don't have to like it or celebrate it.

But in his column, Celizic manages to slander home run champ Henry Aaron. Celizic goes thru the tired litany of how many of baseball's stars were not necessarily wonderful human beings:

Ty Cobb, the first great superstar, was the most ornery misanthrope baseball or any game has ever seen, a man who could make Mike Tyson in his prime seem almost normal. Babe Ruth wasn’t mean, but he didn’t have a conscience, either. Joe DiMaggio was arrogant and cheap. Ted Williams was profane and supremely arrogant. Mickey Mantle was a womanizer and a drunk — although a fun one to be around. Willie Mays was often sullen. Hank Aaron was colorless. Pete Rose was something I can’t repeat on a family web site.

Steve Carlton refused to talk to the press. Randy Johnson is a surly lout, and Roger Clemens isn’t exactly a Tibetan monk.

Let me highlight Celizic's complaint about Aaron: "Hank Aaron was colorless." Since when does being quiet and maybe a bit dull become a character flaw on par with being a cheat or a misanthrope? Funny, because usually the adjective I see attached to Aaron's personality is "dignified." Which would certainly excuse him from the company Celizic throws him into.

Look, Celizic, you can go on about how great Bonds is (and even without steroids, he would have been on the short list of all-time great hitters) and all the rest of it. But slandering Hank Aaron in the process is completely uncalled for. In fact, it's arrogant and cheap and maybe something I can't repeat on a family web site, worthy of a sullen, surly lout or somebody who isn't exactly a Tibetan monk. I can't confirm whether Celizic was drunk when he wrote this column, but at least he avoided being profane and is presumably willing to talk to the press. Ultimately, criticizing Aaron for being dull seems the work of a misanthrope who doesn't have a conscience.


Tuesday, April 03, 2007

cheney allergy

Students on a college campus are protesting about the invitation for de facto vice president Dick Cheney to speak at their school's commencement later this spring. These students and some of the school's professors want the invitation rescinded. One professor said that the school places "a heavy emphasis on personal honesty and integrity in all we do," and that "Cheney just doesn't measure up."

The school? Nope, not Harvard or Swarthmore or some other liberal Eastern college. It is BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY in UTAH. Yep, even students -- self-described conservatives -- at Brigham Young, in that most Republican of bastions, Utah, can't stomach Dick Cheney. In the first week, over 2300 students, professors, alumni, and members of the Mormon church have signed the petition asking the school to rescind the invitation

You have to be a pretty corrupt Republican to attract protests in Utah...


another lying republican

Maybe this is a bit boring by now, but once again a Republican is being investigated, this time for using her office to promote Republican chances in 2008 Congressional elections. But Lorita Doan, head of the General Services Administration, says that gosh, she just can't remember any of the pep rally, including the Power Point presentation. And she doesn't remember saying that her agency could help Republican candidates. What a damn shame.

I'm tempted to say that it is touching how the GOP is so willing to hire people with severe mental disabilities -- the inability to remember something from just a few months ago. But of course, this is just another case of a GOP official lying through her teeth to investigators and the American people. And again, like the firing of the eight US attorneys, this is all about the Republicans' eagerness to use the trappings of office to implement and perpetuate a one-party state, legalities be damned.

Remember how the GOP complained when donors slept in the Lincoln Room during Clinton's presidency? That seems, to use Alberto Gonzales' favorite word, "quaint" to the hardball GOP political tactics which as often as not seem to cross the line into illegality.

Monday, April 02, 2007

another surging update

So, how 'bout that surge? Great progress -- more people died per day in Iraq in March than February! Oh wait, I guess that's not progress; those are people being killed by insurgents, not American military forces.

Juan Cole also calls out John McCain for his stupid recent comments about Iraq, including his recent "grandstanding trip" to Baghdad. I asked whether McCain was stupid or lying. Cole says McCain was just lying. He's probably right.


just what we need

We've had a great time with a repeat Bush presidency. And now people like Robert Novak are talking up another repeat presidency -- another lame actor turned Republican politician. Fred Thompson, please stay in Hollywood. Because after getting a worse-than-the-first-one repeat Bush, I don't think we can take a worse-than-the-first-one repeat lame actor turned Republican politician. The current Bush is already worse than Reagan.


Sunday, April 01, 2007

the independent republic of vermont?

Two Vermonters write today about the possibility of renewed independence for that bucolic state. Hmm, wasn't there some unpleasantness about 150 years when some other states that decided to go their own way?

The authors make some points about Vermont's history of independence and threats of secession. They also believe the historical pendulum beginning to swing away from large political agglomerations like the United States towards smaller political units, a trend they say will be pushed by increasing energy and transport costs. They are also keen on town-hall meetings as a way of running a country. And they want to organize Vermont towns to vote on independence by 2012.

Well, good luck with that. Not sure I'd want to live in a Vermont in an energy-scarce future. What will they trade for electricity -- maple syrup and yogurt? And the town-hall structure is quaint and not a bad way to run a village, but I'm not sure a modern, fully independent state can operate in that system, not even in Vermont.


newt gingrich packs 'em in

The amusing thing about this article isn't what Newt Gingrich said -- that bilingual classes are teaching the language of the ghetto, and that voters should only have English ballots. I mean, those are funny and stupid positions.

But what was even more amusing was how the article describes his audience as numbering "more than 100". By "more than 100," of course, they mean "less than 150" and "just not all that many people, really, considering this clown was once Speaker of the House."

If "more than 100" is all Newt can draw at a speech where the audience is National Federation of Republican Women, maybe he should reconsider his plans for 2008 and maybe take a nice long cruise, or write another cheesy science fiction bodice-ripper.