Saturday, July 30, 2005


Proud To Be an American

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Ressam judge decries U.S. tactics

By Hal Bernton and Sara Jean Green
Seattle Times staff reporter

U.S. District Judge John Coughenour sentenced Ahmed Ressam to a 22-year prison term yesterday for attempting to bomb Los Angeles International Airport on the millennium's eve, and used the occasion to unleash a broadside against secret tribunals and other war on terrorism tactics that abandon "the ideals that set our nation apart."

"The tragedy of Sept. 11 shook our sense of security and made us realize that we, too, are vulnerable to acts of terrorism," said Coughenour in a voice edged with emotion. "Unfortunately, some believe that this threat renders our Constitution obsolete. ... If that view is allowed to prevail, the terrorists will have won."

It's important to note that Judge Coughenour was appointed by President Reagan.

Here's the full text of Judge Coughenour's remarks:

Okay. Let me say a few things. First of all, it will come as no surprise to anybody that this sentencing is one that I have struggled with a great deal, more than any other sentencing that I've had in the 24 years I've been on the bench.

I've done my very best to arrive at a period of confinement that appropriately recognizes the severity of the intended offense, but also recognizes the practicalities of the parties' positions before trial and the cooperation of Mr. Ressam, even though it did terminate prematurely.

The message I would hope to convey in today's sentencing is two-fold: First, that we have the resolve in this country to deal with the subject of terrorism and people who engage in it should be prepared to sacrifice a major portion of their life in confinement.

Secondly, though, I would like to convey the message that our system works. We did not need to use a secret military tribunal, or detain the defendant indefinitely as an enemy combatant, or deny him the right to counsel, or invoke any proceedings beyond those guaranteed by or contrary to the United States Constitution.

I would suggest that the message to the world from today's sentencing is that our courts have not abandoned our commitment to the ideals that set our nation apart. We can deal with the threats to our national security without denying the accused fundamental constitutional protections.

Despite the fact that Mr. Ressam is not an American citizen and despite the fact that he entered this country intent upon killing American citizens, he received an effective, vigorous defense, and the opportunity to have his guilt or innocence determined by a jury of 12 ordinary citizens.

Most importantly, all of this occurred in the sunlight of a public trial. There were no secret proceedings, no indefinite detention, no denial of counsel.

The tragedy of September 11th shook our sense of security and made us realize that we, too, are vulnerable to acts of terrorism. Unfortunately, some believe that this threat renders our Constitution obsolete. This is a Constitution for which men and women have died and continue to die and which has made us a model among nations. If that view is allowed to prevail, the terrorists will have won.

It is my sworn duty, and as long as there is breath in my body I'll perform it, to support and defend the Constitution of the United States.

We will be in recess.

Here's a picture of the judge:

Friday, July 29, 2005


Friday semen blogging

Okay, I may be going a bit over the top on this one, but seeing how it was published in a major national publication, I thought ... what they hecky darn. WARNING: Only work safe if you work at an office that is big on intellectual freedom.

Money paragraph:
All the big players in pussy replicas and penis pumps were there, including Doc Johnson, California Exotic Novelties, and Topco, which garnered my award for most bizarre product. From its Boi Toyz line (marketed to gay men), the Squirter is a realistic rubber cock with a bulb syringe at its base. Fill the base with lube, and the cock squirts. There are other ejaculating dildos on the market, but this one comes with a special bonus: a complimentary bottle of semen-scented lubricant called Jizz. There are plenty of fragrant and flavored lubes out there too (like wild blackberry and bubble gum), but I had never heard of slippery stuff meant to smell like swimming sperm. A Topco employee was kind enough to let me sneak a whiff, and I can confirm a subtle, salty, and um, woody smell. Kind of like those smokehouse salted almonds you used to get on airplanes before they started cutting costs. It got me thinking: Don't you either want the taste of your honey's cum or a fruity flavor to mask it? And whose semen's smell does it mimic? I could have spent all day deciphering the hows and whys, but I had more stuff to see (and maybe smell!).

As devoted readers of this blog know, it's easy to joke about semen ... actually, VERY easy ... but this raises a larger issue to me of the ultimate in commodification - if our own bodily fluids are now part of the capitalist/military/industrial complex, then truly we are lost. What's next? Selling "fake blood" so that people can mimic the satanic rituals of blood-guzzling Central Europeans during autumn pagan festivals???

(Interestingly, when you google "squeeze and squirt" (the instructions on the aforementioned toy, according to the photo in the Voice) you get mostly stuff about hand foams and sugared kids' drinks. Huh.)

Thursday, July 28, 2005


I Love You! BIZARRO!!

For anyone reading this blog who thought that Thomas Friedman was anything other than a megalomaniacal inane lunatic with less credibility than Bizarro Quinn on world affairs ... check this out:
New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman has urged the U.S. government to create blacklists of condemned political speech--not only by those who advocate violence, but also by those who believe that U.S. government actions may encourage violent reprisals. The latter group, which Friedman called "just one notch less despicable than the terrorists," includes a majority of Americans, according to recent polls.

He wants the State Department to publish a quarterly "War of Ideas Report" that singles out specific religious figures for condemnation. No threats to the First Amendment there! I'm sure Jerry "queers are responsible for 9/11" will be high on that there list, yup.

The money quote from TF's little screed is here:
Every quarter, the State Department should identify the Top 10 hatemongers, excuse makers and truth tellers in the world. It wouldn't be a cure-all. But it would be a message to the extremists: you are free to say what you want, but we are free to listen, to let the whole world know what you are saying and to protect every free society from hate spreaders like you. Words matter.

Truth tellers!?! God damn, Tom. Haven't you been paying attention? This administration's propaganda machine is the most politically focused, protective-of-those-in-power monstrosity of the past 50 years. Condi Rice wouldn't know a "truth teller" if he or she were sitting on her lap.

Normally I would agree with your last sentence, "Words matter." Then I read your article. Now I realize that there are plenty of words that don't matter, and they all seem to spew out of your pen.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005


porn! porn! porn!

Speaking of moderate Democrats, the one area in which they can definitely be said to be taking the lead is the area of restricting access to the Internet and video games. Well, their stated goal is to restrict minors' access to the Internet and video games, but as we all know, such efforts necessarily lead to the restriction of adults' access to the Internet and video games, and this is one key reason why these laws are invariably overturned.

Three recent cases:

1) Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) and her "Internet Safety and Child Protection Act of 2005." This one, spawn of "Third Way," the self-proclaimed centrist think tank/advocacy group, would force age verification on "pornographers," and tax transaction of "pornography" at 25% in order to create money to pay for child protection programs. Cosponsoring the bill are a bunch of other "centrist" dems.

2) Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and her Grand Theft Auto jihad. She says she wants a probe into why it got an M instead of an AO rating, and she is sponsoring some sort of legislation to prevent access to minors of certain video games.

3) Our own Gov. Rod Blagojevich is on his own warpath, with an Illinois version of the limiting-access-to-video-games bills that have already been struck down around the country.

They come from a long line of Democratic scolds, a line which includes Tipper Gore. It's odd to me. Is THIS the issue that the Democrats think is going to get them back into political power? I just ... I don't see elections being won or lost on how fervently a given politician can exploit a law that will almost certainly be overturned (and cost the government money to futily defend). Especially now during a critical turning point for the Democratic party, with the GOP abusing its power on a daily basis, the AFL-freaking-CIO splitting up, a war in Iraq with no end in sight and a whole bunch of lies lying in its wake, an out-of-control deficit and terror bombings somewhere in the world every day, and this is going to make people stop and say "wow! I'm gonna give the Democrats another chance!"

Because if they're not going for popular support with this one, why risk turning off us free speech/civil liberties types? Is it because we have nowhere to go, thanks to the 1984 promises of the other side?? Is it because they've read the polls, and realize the First Amendment just ain't as popular as it used to was, so why not just go hog wild?? Is it because they truly think the state can and should be involved in determining how much of a boobie has to be showing in order for that boobie to harm a kid? And how on earth are they going to regulate random foreign Web sites, not to mention email porn, p2p porn, free porn, etc.? (Heck, I'd argue that parents have the least to fear from pay-for-porn sites, since kids aren't gonna spend their Wendy's wages on that for long.)

Here's another article on Lincoln's bill. Really, why is it that it's all Dems seeming to take the lead on this? My god, how many Americans don't have health care?!?

As a colleague said, With friends like these...

UPDATE 7/28: I hate to send you to this site, but it looks like G-Rod is at it again, saying he supports the state mandating filters for kids in libraries. One minor problem, Kathy Valente manages to slip "and violence" into her statement about problematic things that kids can view on library computers. I assume that includes stopping 17 year olds from going to the Army recruiting site, right?

Of course, a Democrat is the lead sponsor of Illinois' failed library filtering bill.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005



The DLC and bigtime lefty bloggers (myself obviously excluded) are taking big-time potshots at each other.

SIEU and Teamsters split from AFL-CIO.

Is this, then, the beginning of the much discussed and also much poopoo'd rift in the Democratic party that had tongues wagging after November 04? It's practically an unimpeachable rule of politics that parties that lose disproportionally to their numbers, at least in part because they can't articulate well a clear message and united front, are destined to break apart. If this happens, it likely spells disaster for the 2006 elections.

But it could be very, very good for the 2008 election.

(For what it's worth, put me on the side of those who think the base of the party cannot afford to compromise with the Lieberman wing, because at this point it's tantamount to getting in bed with Tom DeLay, Bill Frist, James Dobson, and Karl Rove. And George Bush. And Dick Cheney. And Don Rumsfeld. If the rift is inevitable, so be it. It's time for righteousness to triumph. Let's get a heroic candidate up there.)

Update: Billmon has one of the more interesting posts on this matter. I gotta say, nobody seems to really be particularly forward-thinking about these issues; then again, maybe there's lots of backroom strategizing going on, and these are just pretend rifts to lull the GOP into a false sense of complacency! HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, July 25, 2005


Give me liberty or give me theocracy

Via Fred at Slacktivist, who found it through Pretty Fakes, a decent article from the New Yorker on Patrick Henry College (motto: For Christ and For Liberty), which was created as a conduit for Evangelical home school kids to become the next wave of Christian right leaders and politicians.

I will quibble about one part of the article:
Farris is fifty-three but seems younger, with thick brown hair and a slightly amused expression. He and his wife, Vickie, began to homeschool their children (they have ten) in 1982, and the next year he founded the Home School Legal Defense Association, to challenge state laws that made it difficult to homeschool children. In 1993, he ran, unsuccessfully, for lieutenant governor of Virginia. At the time, evangelicals had yet to emerge as a national political force; many preferred to keep their distance from secular culture, which is one reason that Patrick Henry parents educated their children at home.

because that's exactly what I heard someone claim about the rise of the Moral Majority in the 70s, leading directly to Reagan's election in 1980. The religious right is decidedly not a new phenomenon, nor are "holier than thou" protestations by our politicians.

Nonetheless, it's a gut-wrenching article, especially with the profiles of these Stepford Christian students. I mean, we all know that each of these students has at least one significant burden to bear in the world, and given how driven they are, they must bear the burden alone (although to an extent, really we all have to). Among the 300 students you will have your assortment of clinically depressed, abused, abusive, gay, very gay, fat, athiestic, lazy, feminist, non-virgin, bulimic, pedophilic, socialist, racist, transgender, and MTV loving sorts. And lots & lots & lots of chronic masturbators. In many ways, they're just a highly stylized version of the Mormon Church. It's impossible to know whether the model will ultimately fail after the founder dies or gets caught in a dead-boy-prostitute scandal; it's certainly possible that it will survive and even thrive due to the necessities of the market. And more likely than not, most of the graduates will excel in their right-wing political and courtship-to-marriage-to-first-kiss, never adulterous lives. Lots of people live like that and die happy, relatively secure in their knowledge that they will be rewarded in the afterlife.

And that's what is, to me, pretty sad: a life spent never giving in to temptation, never falling from grace. I read somewhere once how bizarre an experience it is for the children of the 70s Evangelical movement, the one that put such an emphasis on saving the sinners, giving meaning to the empty lives of the burned out promiscuous Me Generation types, to go to their Christian youth rallies. These kids grow up hearing so much about the wonderment of the conversion experience (much like the gays have with the coming out process) and yet never get to experience it themselves -- how weird must that feel? And at the rallies, they call people up to testify that they are here, at that moment, giving up their former doubts and accepting Christ as their personal saviors and getting applauded and these kids who were baptized at birth and born again at six are like "ummmmm, where's my applause?" And worse, with these bright kids, there's the harrowing experience of Doubt, the enemy of the Christian right and the thing that causes nearly every one of the PHC kids to bolt up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat, knowing they're not allowed to share this or even really confront it within themselves, hoping it will just go away, at least long enough so that they can get through the night, then the next day, then the next year, then the rest of their lives without going ape-shit crazy because their theology doesn't, in the end, make all that much sense.

I don't know. Mostly, I think, I would like for there to be a study on how frequently the PHC kids masturbate. Seriously. My guess is that it's pretty damn often, just like with any set of people in that age bracket, and if so, and the study were to be publicized, it could spell the end for the school, an end that I personally would be glad to see, given the anti-gay, anti-choice, anti-science tripe that these kids ingest and then regurgitate, and given the administration that they blindly support.

Speaking of which: just curious about how many of the kids decided to go into the Army after graduation. The article didn't mention it.


open letter

Dear Illinois sports fans:

May 2004: gay couples get first marriage licenses in Massachusetts
October 2004: Red Sox win World Series

Coincidence? Ha! Don't be so naive.

If you truly care about the Cubs or White Sox, you will immediately petition your elected representatives and urge them to pass a bill to legalize same-sex marriage before the end of the baseball season.



I don't care how much Joementum Lieberman likes John Roberts ... I am 100% opposed to him joining the U.S. Supreme Court, and I hope Obama & Durbin filibust his ass. I don't care that some Republican called him one of our most brilliant judges after, what, two years on the bench. I don't care that we're supposed to defer to the president as a rule on his appointments, given the fact that he wouldn't even be president if the overly conservative Supreme Court hadn't voted him in, and given that all political precedent has been shot to hell by the GOP over the past 10 years. Here are my top 5 reasons for opposing him, and I'm hoping you will join me in asking your Senators to oppose him as well:

5) What's this about forgeting he was a Federalist Society member? That's bizarre. I really hate the Federalist Society, by the way, especially Ted Olson.

4) Ruling to protect the minutes & attendance of Cheney's energy meeting in 2001, which I believe would have shone a huge light on either the administration's connection with Enron, or the California energy crisis, or the war in Iraq, or our relationship with the Taliban pre-9/11. Or all of the above. I really hated that decision.

3) Because I don't want us to give in to their "just give (insert freaky right-winger appointment here) a fair up-or-down vote!" rhetoric. Translation: hearings and exercise of minority party prerogatives are UNAMERICAN! WHY DO YOU HATE THE TROOOOOOOOOOOOOOPS!!???!!!

2) No way do I trust this guy on Roe v. Wade. No fucking way.

1) He voted to deny due process to the suspected terrorists we've got locked up in Guantanamo. Any attorney, let alone judge, who doesn't have total and unerring dedication to the basics of due process, habeus corpus, and that good stuff does not deserve a seat at Denny's let alone on the Supreme Court.

Hey, aren't you proud of me that I didn't even mention his role in the recount in 2000? And how I will go to my urn maintaining that that was the worst political event in my lifetime, worse than the Watergate break-in, worse than the coverup of the Watergate break-in, worse than Iran-contra, worse than Clinton sticking that cigar in an intern's treasure box, worse than Rush Limbaugh becoming an ESPN football analyst and an NBC election analyst, worse than the use of the Iraq war to secure the 2002 elections, worse than Arnold being elected governor, worse than Alan Keyes "moving" to Illinois, and thus that every single person involved in working that little shell game should be relegated to the dustbin of fucking history??

Friday, July 22, 2005


Friday semen blogging

A new twist on a Muppet Show classic:

China Will Send Pig Semen into Space

Posted July 18, 2005 1:52PM

Around 40 grams of semen from high-pedigree pigs will accompany two Chinese astronauts on an October orbital mission, and will be kept both inside and outside the Shenzhou VI spacecraft. Sperm that survives the voyage will be tested for effects of microgravity and used to fertilize eggs.
The semen is from the Rongchang breed of pig, prized for its high quality of meat and physical characteristics.

Funny, that's what Miss Piggy was prized for, too!

Wednesday, July 20, 2005


Cook County Commissioner has some 'splainin to do

So I'm reading the Free Press this morning, with the devastatingly handsome and supremely talented Richard Streetman on the cover, when I get to this story:

The Illinois Family Institute announced July 14 that the five Republican Party members of the Cook County Board of Commissioners have renounced their support of a County Board resolution passed June 21 in support of the 2006 Gay Games in Chicago.

Officials with the IFI, an anti-gay group, said Comms. Elizabeth Ann Doody Gorman (17th), Gregg Goslin (14th), Carl Hansen (15th), Anthony Peraica (16th) and Peter Silvestri (9th) have asked that their names be removed from the resolution, which passed unanimously.

"I never really supported the resolution to begin with," Peraica said. "I have always been supportive of family values, which does not include the gay and lesbian agenda."

Seriously, what is this, 1992? Jiminy, what kind of tripe is that?

So in an attempt to understand exactly what the hell is going on I read this:

After weeks of thoughtful consideration and with hopeful expectations and assurances, Jack Roeser entrusted Tony Peraica with a $5,000 contribution toward his campaign on June 30th.

On Tuesday, July 5th, Roeser learned that on June 21st, Peraica had co-sponsored a Resolution of the Cook County Board welcoming the Gay Games to Chicago. The Resolution also specifically thanked two of the Gay Games corporate sponsors, Kraft Foods and Harris Bank, for making the Games possible.

Specific reference to these two sponsors makes it evident that the intent of this Resolution, at least in part, was to undermine Illinois Family Institute’s call for the corporate sponsors’ withdrawal from the Gay Games. Jack Roeser is on the Board of Directors of Illinois Family Institute.

On July 6th, Roeser stopped payment on the contribution to Peraica, saying, “Some toleration may be needed to swallow the hurly-burly of Chicago - Cook politics, but Peraica too easily joined in bashing the values presently under assault so publicly in the Gay Olympic invitation. Shouldn’t the euphemism be dropped? Isn’t this more accurately the Sodomy Games?"


Tony Peraica has informed us that he will be asking the Board to remove his name from this Resolution. We would hope that others on the Cook County Board would do likewise if they care about moral values.

It seems pretty clear that Tony Peraica can be bought ... and not for much.

I've called Peraica's office to try to get some clarification, because this makes him look very, VERY bad.

Does he agree with Roeser's use of the term "Sodomy Games"?

If someone else gives him $5,001 will he change his mind again??

Does he in in all honestly want to get into bed with the Illinois Family Institute (by the way, a DuPage County organization) and still expect to be elected County Board president??

Can he please explain why exactly gays and lesbians are exluded from his definition of "family values"?

And most obviously, and most importantly -- does he really not want the 25,000+ visitors from all over the world bringing their money to Cook County? And does he want to explain that to his constituents?

Here's the story on the resolution. And here's IFI's.

My hope is that all morally right-thinking Cook County residents will contact Commissioner Peraica and ask him what in the world he hopes to accomplish with this move.

Main Office
118 N. Clark Street
Room 567
Chicago, IL 60602
phone: (312) 603 6384
fax: (312) 603-4744

Update: Thanks to Austin Mayor for posting on this.... That Peraica ... he's no good.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005



Bush: "If someone committed a crime, they will no longer work in my administration."

If only.


the joy of sox

Man, what is it about this team?

Earlier today, I read an article about the White Sox by Scoop Jackson, who did a good job of describing the cautious pessimism of Sox fans, particularly this season, when nearly nothing can go wrong. Some of the numbers this season have been eye-popping:

31-5 vs. the AL Central
23-9 in one-run games
8 wins when scoring 2 or 1 runs (compared to 1 win last year)
22-6-2 in series
Podsednik's 48 stolen bases, Frank's 12 home runs in 32 games, 2 of the 3 candidates for AL Cy Young, and the game's second-best bullpen

Hell, they're even leading the majors in something called "defensive efficiency" (something about outs per batted ball) which doesn't surprise anyone who's watched what Rowand, Crede, Uribe, and Iguchi have done all season. That should be a minimum of two gold gloves right there.

But like Jackson says, the tough part of their schedule is around the corner, with Red Sox, Yankees, Angels, and Twins Twins Twins in their future. Still, they've built enough of a lead -- and have enough solid pitching -- that it's hard to imagine they won't make the playoffs. Plus they have had magic on their side in more games than anyone can keep track of. And they don't have to play those damn A's anymore.

The one quibble I have with Jackson's article is that he pretends that the fan base for the Sox is located within the city limits. No. Having spent 3 years within a stone's throw of the ballpark, and having worked there for the better part of two seasons, I can say unequivocably that the heart of Sox fandom resides in the Southwest suburbs. That's the reason why their ballpark almost has to be surrounded by parking lots - a huge percentage of the attendees drive to the games, and tailgating is an important ritual for them folks. (And for those who don't know, there are plenty of us in the city, perhaps mainly transplants, who support both the Cubs and the Sox.)

My road to Sox fandom goes like this: In 1991, my all-time favorite player, Tim Raines (best SB% in history for players with 300 attempts), was traded from the Expos to the Sox. I immediately changed my allegience to the Sox and remained a fan for the next 5 seasons, although the advent of the Rockies put a bit of a damper on my fandom. (Raines then spent three seasons with the Yankees, and damn it, nothing could make me a Yankees fan, athough I was happy to see Tim emerge as a team leader and was thrilled that he got his World Series ring in 1998, and was a contributor to that team.)

I moved to Chicago in 1998 and in 1999 moved to Bridgeport during their exciting "These Kids Can Play" year. They made it to the playoffs that year but were ignominiously swept by the Mariners in the first round. In 2000 and 2001 I worked as a server in the club section and solidified my fandom. 2001-2004 were all disappointing years for the faithful, which is what makes this year so special.

Could it be because Raines rejoined the club as First Base Coach??? We'll just say yes.

GO SOX!!!!!

Friday, July 15, 2005


Friday semen blogging

It's nice to be able to merge, once in awhile, your professional life with your hobby. Thus we get today's semen blogging.

Librarians lean, generally, more toward the literary/artistic/humanities side of life (as do administrative assistants, I've found). One significant exception is preservationists, who definitely are more science-y. What I like about science-y people is that they can discuss important things like semen without getting all ... well, gooey about it. Or resorting-to-euphemisms about it.

An example:

Occasionally there have been questions on the list about what to do with library materials that have been soiled with body fluids (blood, semen, vomit, urine, etc.) We recently had such an incident and I contacted University of Michigan Biosafety Officer Mike Hanna for help developing a policy for handling such material. I'll share with you the procedures we have established; because regulations may vary from place to place I strongly recommend that you check with local officials before writing your own policy.

Generally, Mr. Hanna informs me, small quantities of dry contaminants are a low safety hazard; large or moist soiled areas, however, may pose a potential infection source to staff or patrons. Disposal is recommended for heavily soiled materials; disinfection, when possible, is the preferred method for handling lightly contaminated materials. For disposal purposes, contaminated books and parts do not constitute regulated waste. Soiled paper or book covers may be discarded in the regular trash without special procedures. You should avoid direct contact with the soiled parts of the books, using latex gloves if necessary.

We have recommended that library staff, when confronted with a soiled book, consider the following options:

* Discard the book and seek a replacement copy; this option is strongly recommended if there is heavy soiling;
* If only a few pages are soiled, secure photocopies of the damaged pages; cut out the soiled pages and tip in the photocopies;
* If only the cover is soiled, cut off the covers and discard them; arrange with a binder to have the book recased.

Circulation desks should keep latex gloves and resealable plastic bags on hand for handling and isolating soiled books.

If it is not appropriate to discard and replace the soiled parts of a book, it *may* be possible to disinfect them. Mr. Hanna suggested three disinfectants that are used for blood/body fluid spill disinfection: bleach, diluted 1:100 fresh daily (500 ppm); Quaternary ammonium compound (e.g. Virex); and 70% Isopropyl alcohol. Bleach will cause deterioration of paper and other book materials over time; I am not familiar with quaternary ammonium compound; isopropyl alcohol MAY be safe on some materials, but it may cause some inks or colors to bleed. Disinfection in this case is clearly a job for a trained conservator and should not be attempted by untrained staff.

"Heavily soiled" ... the images I have in my head might make it impossible for me to ever visit a library again.

Updated to add: CRIMINY! I forgot to credit Wendy as my research assistant and the genesis of this post! Plus ça change, plus c’est la meme chose...


southern strategy

My quick & very late take on Ken Mehlman's "apology" to the NAACP over the GOP's use of the Southern Strategy:

Does that man honestly expect us to believe that the Southern Strategy is not ongoing? And I don't mean just with the gays (althought that's certainly part of it). The racial code language, explicit policies, and symbolic gestures of the GOP did not die with Nixon.

Ronald Reagan helped fuel it with his "welfare queens," support for Bob Jones U's tax exempt status, and campaign-launching state's rights speech near Philadelphia, Mississippi.

Bush the Greater and Lee Atwater brought it to its zenith with their little W. Horton ad.

And Bush the Lesser consolidated it with his silence on the confederate flag and Rove's smears against McCain's "black" adopted daughter.

Not that this post matters. Mehlman lives in his own Bizarroland. Hell, even Limbaugh's criticism of Mehlman was probably planned well in advance to make the RNC seem more centrist. Limbaugh, after all, has his own issues with race. And yet he's a permanent and visible cog in the Republican noise machine.

I trust that the NAACP folks realize that the speech isn't even really for them (us). It's directed at "tolerant" white middle of the roaders and the media that caters to them. The GOP doesn't care a whit that they can't seem to break 10% in the black community. It's all spin, rhetoric, the application of PR-influenced "branding" and disinformation with these folks. As long as they can claim they aren't doing exactly what they are doing -- and get away with that -- they will continue to win.

Shorter Mehlman: "Who do you believe - me, a closeted gay working for a virulently gay-baiting organization? Or the evidence in front of your face?"

Wednesday, July 13, 2005



Someone at Panda Express's fortune cookie vendor knows me too well. Today's fortune:

"Our first love and last love is ... Self-love."


Oh, if you want a tie-in to the war, here it is.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005



It's a good rule of thumb that when you're looking to understand how the Bush Administration is lying to you, pay attention to the various definitions of words. These folks always seem to have wiggle room to justify blatantly misleading statements.

A good example is Bush's statement about the Valerie Plame leaker(s):
"If there is a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is and if the person has violated law, the person will be taken care of," Bush said in September 2003.

Let's parse this, shall we? The quote actually consists of two subquotes. It's folly to assume the two statements are actually related to each other logically.

1) "If there is a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is...." I'm sure that's the case. What he planned to do with that information is another question. Certainly it doesn't seem like he used it to aid an investigation into the source of the leak.

2) "...and if the person has violated law, the person will be taken care of." Well, first of all, he didn't say anything here about an act which might be morally reprehensible but not actually technically in violation of the law. But more importantly, the phrase he used, "be taken care of," has a dual meaning. Sure, you and I might assume on first glance that he means "will be punished severely." But if it's Rove we're talking about, maybe he's using the phrase in its more literal sense:

To assume responsibility for the maintenance, support, or treatment of.


Update: If you are fed up by spending federal tax dollars on this kind of "literalism," feel free to "virtually" demand that Bush fire Karl Rove here.

Sunday, July 10, 2005


judy 2

Two more things about Judith Miller:

1) In an otherwise strong article about Miller's reputation and history, Rosa Brooks speculates on another motivation for JM's martyrdom:
It's possible (though not likely) that Miller is covering for a genuine whistle-blower who fears retaliation for fingering, gee, Karl Rove, for instance, as the real source of the leak.

I've seen this speculated elsewhere, and it seems to neglect the obvious point that there would be nothing preventing Miller from writing an article saying ""an anonymous White House source has pointed to (insert high administration figure) as the source of the leak." Think about it. She'd be serving the public good, helping to reveal a crime, and anyway if Rove (or whomever) is not her source he or she already knows that thereis a whistleblower already. So Miller & her whistleblower would jeopardize nothing by telling the world that a source fingered somebody else (even without mentioning Rove-or-whoever's name).

And then she could still go to jail, knowing that it was clear that she actually was performing a service for her country and the free press. The notion that she'd go to jail to protect an anonymous source without ever letting anyone (including a grand jury) know what the source said is frankly bizarre.

2) Far more important, Miller's entire justification for going to jail is that if a reporter ever reveals a source, then no future source would ever be able to trust her again. It's the one strike & you're out rule. Which makes the following tale so incredibly damning:
But when there is trouble, it appears she’s more than happy to pass around the responsibility. One incident that still rankles happened last April, when Miller co-bylined a story with Douglas Jehl on the WMD search that included a quote from Amy Smithson, an analyst formerly at the Henry L. Stimson Center. A day after it appeared, the Times learned that the quote was deeply problematic. To begin with, it had been supplied to Miller in an e-mail that began, “Briefly and on background”—a condition that Miller had flatly broken by naming her source. Miller committed a further offense by paraphrasing the quote and distorting Smithson’s analysis. One person who viewed the e-mail says that it attributed views to Smithson that she clearly didn’t hold. An embarrassing correction ensued. And while the offense had been entirely Miller’s, there was nothing in the correction indicating Jehl’s innocence.

The story is also mentioned in this 2003 article.

If there's a distinction here--is compelled revelation considered somehow worse than voluntary revelation? was Smithson explicitly promised anonymity or did she just assume it? can you be come a "born-again trusted reporter"?--then we need to know it. Otherwise, there's no reason why this incident shouldn't have been in paragraph one of every single story & editorial that covered Miller's heroism. Because it seems to me she already blew her wad a couple of years ago, and any source who expected protection by her was playing a fool's game.

Friday, July 08, 2005


Friday semen blogging

Tip of the hat to my coblogger for his huge HUGE win yesterday. When he bursts into superstardom in about a week or so, hopefully he'll remember us. In fact, perhaps he could change some lyrics around? "Oh say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave! O'er the land of the free, and selfish hed'nist dot com!"

Okay! On to what we've all been waiting for, this week's installment of Friday semen blogging.... Our story this week was sent to us by our New Zealand correspondent, where apparently people uttering phrases like this are commonplace:
"He will give you a bucket of semen every second day"

The speaker ("stud master" Michael House) then goes onto say, "I would like ... to take advantage of that propensity."

I'm glad to live in the good ole You Ess of 'ey, where such filth is scrubbed from family publications.

Read the whole article. It's really rather sickening - an "All About Eve" tale of trust, betrayal, and heartbreak. And lots and lots of semen.

Thursday, July 07, 2005



I've been thinking a lot today about the case of Judith Miller, the reporter for the New York Times who is sitting in jail right now for refusing to reveal her source in the Valerie Plame outing. (For those who aren't too up on the situation, please read up on it NOW.)

Naturally, The Rude Pundit already covered much of what I wanted to say, because that's what the Rude Pundit does.

But here's my two pennies.

I was struck by two things that I read today:

1) Via Atrios, Miller's little formulation of why she's defiant in the face of her jailing:

"I know that the freest and fairest societies are those with a free press . . . publishing information that the government does not want to reveal," she said. She compared her effort to that of U.S. troops risking death in their fight for freedom in Iraq: "If they can do that, surely I can face prison to defend a free press."

"I have chronicled the dark side of the world, where the law is an arbitrary foil that serves the powerful," she said in court, Washington Post staff writer Carol Leonnig reported. "I also know that the freest and fairest societies are . . . those with a free press . . . publishing information the government does not want to reveal," Miller said.

2) Judith Miller is coauthor, with Laurie Mylroie, of the book Saddam Hussein and the Crisis in the Gulf.

These two items, combined with all the rest we know about her WMD stories fed by Achmed Chalabi and "confirmed" by the administration tell me something--this woman is no dupe. She is a true believer. It's time to stop thinking about Miller as a "journalist" just because she happens to work for the Times and won a Pulitzer. Someone as bright as she is doesn't just happen to neglect accurate information about the loaded issue of Weapons of Mass Destruction, particularly when it's being fed to her by sources like this administration and Mr. Chalabi. She was willful in that neglect. She wanted a result--she wanted to help lead the U.S. into war in Iraq. And she got what she wanted.

Again, I know all this might seem a little confusing to those who haven't followed the details of the Plame case, the reporting of the leadup to war, the Chalabi/Miller connection, or so many of the other threads that seem to be interconnected. You may not have heard that Bush himself ordered his staff to cooperate completely with Fitzgerald's investigation into the leak of a CIA operative (which neither Bush nor anybody else seems to care enough to follow up on). But given what we know about how Miller has operated the past years, her ties to Mylroie and Douglas Feith, her weird connection with David Kelly, her authorship of the book Germ and subsequent stated receipt of a white powder around the time of the Anthrax scare, the clear conduit between her and the Office for Special Plans (the story of which alone should have been enough to bring this government down), her crap-ass reporting about the United Nations ... it's just too much. She's not "inept." She has not been "duped." She is not an "Inspector Clouseau" figure.

She's part of it all.

Like all my postings, the above reflects my opinion alone, not that of any other authors of Selfish Hedonist.

Oh, I almost forgot: Miller tipped off two terrorist organizations so they could give federal agents the slip. Miller got her information from a tip from...the White House!

Tuesday, July 05, 2005



I have a lot of respect and love for the Rude Pundit. But also a significant amount of resentment. Not just because he is incredibly insightful and has a huge following (not to mention a one-pundit show at the Fringe Fest in New York next month which I am planning on seeing). But because more often than not, he steals my ideas for blog postings. I mean, outright reads my mind and steals them. Case in point:
By the way, the Rude Pundit won't be joining in the encomiums to Sandra Day O'Connor's Supreme Court tenure. Sure, sure, sure, she happened to be an available conservative woman who happened to be a judge when Ronald Reagan was trying to shore up some street cred with half of America. But that's circumstance. Sure, sure, she was a swing vote in favor of abortion rights and affirmative action.

And she was also the swing vote on Bush v. Gore, which led us to this moment in history, with war in Iraq, the steady dismantling of rights that O'Connor supported, and the final rightward shift of the court itself. Fuck her. That one decision undoes all the others.

Okay, I'd been thinking about my post on O'Connor for the past coupld of days. And the thrust of it was contained in those two paragraphs ... down to the use of the word "encomiums" (although I was going to spell it "economiums" or something). He's really spooky in his ability to do that.

So anyway, I went to a last-minute-kinda-thing rally after work today, featuring Jan Schakowsky, some local pro-choice leaders, and William McNary, the charismatic head of USAction and Citizen Action Illinois. It wasn't too bad a crowd for such short notice, although obviously it could and should have been 20 times as big. I just ...

I wonder. Those people. Those gays; those women; those Jews; those Catholics. Those people who secretly pulled that lever in November 2000 or November 2004. Because they thought they were supporting the troops, or cutting their taxes, or protecting the country from terrorism, or just didn't completely trust that Kerry. The "moderate" Bush voters. Do they recognize their part to play in the possible reshaping of the Court to a long-lasting far right-wing one with little to no respect for the concept of individual liberties protected against majoritarian incursions? Did they remember to take that into consideration at the time they made their vote? Are they okay with the possible implications on our country???

Giving George W. Bush the first four years to potentially name some justices was playing with fire. Now we're all about to get burned. And he's got three more years. Plus. Thanks guys.

(If you're so inclined, perhaps contact your Senators and let them in on your feelings about what part you'd like them to play in this Supreme Court psychodrama. Even if you're not so inclined, do it anyway.)

Monday, July 04, 2005



Happy America Day you all.

I marched in my first Independence Day parade today, in the lovely suburb of Oakbrook Terrace, an interesting town with a healthy mix of blue & white collar folks, and many immigrant families. I believe my contingent, for Christine Cegelis, was the only political group in the parade, so hopefully it will do great things for her visibility in that town.

I got to thinking about a couple of things while walking. One: it's gratifying to engage in some nationalistic boosterism in a context outside of sports, particularly when it's done in conjunction with supporting a candidate who has a vision of a better country and great ideas of how to achieve that. It was super great to be walking with all the other Cegelis folks in what's generally considered GOP country. That political party seems intent on undermining our democracy and our Constitution, whether through the Flag Amendment, the Federal Marriage Amendment, the attack on the institution of the judiciary, the unprecedented secrecy of the administration and the disinformation surrounding the war in Iraq, and the disregard for the one-person, one-vote standard. And, of course, they're doing it in the name of the very flag that symbolizes something quite foreign to them - real freedom, real sacrifice, real progress.

Two: It is absolutely essential that the Democratic party learn how to communicate better with rural and suburban white working and middle classes males. We must do that without compromising on the red-meat social issues of the radical right. And while investing in an infrastructure is key to that (it works for the GOP, it works for Hezbollah...) it's also important that we do it one-on-one, on a grassroots level. So my challenge to you: make it your mission, Evangelist-like, to sway one Red to a Blue in the coming year. Create a 12-month plan, even let 'em know you're doing it. And then marshal all your logic, evidence, experience, and love for this country to make that a reality.

And if you don't know any reds, go out and meet them NOW! (On a related note, fuck the Chicago Reader for starting their otherwise solid article about a divinity professor who is providing crucial rebuttals to the execrable Left Behind books with this sentence:
Most likely nobody you know has read one, but more than 50 million books in the Left Behind series have sold in the past decade.

Umm, Todd Dills? The correct sentence would be, "You might not know this, but someone you know has read at least one of the Left Behind books." And, as one of the people who has read several of the books, I can tell you that they are a frightening glimpse into the current state of fundamentalist Republicanism, and everybody should read them, if only to start to understand how far we have to go, and at least partly, how to get there. Ass.

Update: If you want to know more about the Left Behind series and why it's so bad (and not just dangerous), please PLEASE check out "Left Behind Fridays" only at Slacktivist

Friday, July 01, 2005


Friday semen blogging

This article from the Age in Australia requires a subscription, but if you go to Google News and search for "semen pocket" you should be able to find it right away.

It's a little ... cheeky, certainly not what you'd expect in a family paper of any sort, but funny nonetheless. It's a review of a TV special on ... well, I'll just say it. It's about the penis. In fact it's called The Search for the Perfect Penis.

The most interesting fact I learned from the review of the show is the following:

By the age of 60 a man will have produced between 35 and 60 litres of semen, one teaspoon at a time, containing 350-500 billion sperm cells.

60 litres! (Or, as we say in the States, liters.) That is far too much semen to contemplate, even for a semen blogger.

I will ignore the next factoid, about how sperm is not fattening, because it's simply unseemly.

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