March 31, 2006

Targetting Jill Carroll

Slate rounds up the right wing blog response to the safe release of journalist Jill Carroll in Iraq:

Jazz4Sale smells a conspiracy. "I don't buy it. Everything about this makes me feel this is a PR campaign to make the same people that beheaded all those other hostages look like good, compassionate people," Jazz posits. Matt on Wizbang is thinking along the same lines. "Super, now we can look forward to her articles telling us how nice and misunderstood the insurgents are," he says.

"I have no doubt that the media and far-left will be comparing Carroll's royal treatment to the treatment of Iraqis at Abu Ghraib," speculates conservative Iowan Ryan on MySpace. Meanwhile, Heidi on EuphoricReality seems to have little sympathy for Carroll. "My question is this: will she keep her hajib now that she's free? Will she convert? I just can't wait for the movie, y'all!" she deadpans. On a lighter note, the Codependent Collegian wonders if Carroll is free for a date.

So if she'd been beheaded, perhaps the response from the right would have been something like "screw her"?

Punitive People

Here's the beating heart of Conservatism:

"I say let the prisoners pick the fruits," said Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of California, one of more than a dozen Republicans who took turns condemning a Senate bill that offers an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants an opportunity for citizenship.
According to the Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Statistics:
On December 31, 2004 --

-- 2,135,901 prisoners were held in Federal or State prisons or in local jails -- an increase of 2.6% from yearend 2003, less than the average annual growth of 3.4% since yearend 1995.
-- there were an estimated 486 prison inmates per 100,000 U.S. residents -- up from 411 at yearend 1995.

These jokers want to make that 2.1 million something more like 14 million. Can you imagine? The United States already has world's largest prison population, and many in the GOP want to increase it sevenfold. Just "wow".

A Point Well Made

John's point, that a significant number of liberals respond with visceral animosity toward weath, power, and the appearance of either, is well made and worth a lot of conversation. It's actually part of what GOP candidates for office play on when they're demonizing Democrats. There are some on the left who give every indication of being willing to slaughter the occupants of gated communities.

I used to think this was an age issue, and that young idealists were more prone to what I'll politely call "radical anti-capitalism", but now that I'm not so young anymore I still have peers with that kind of worldview. It isn't mine; I'm currently plotting ways to be a millionaire by the time I'm 40 (what is it about decade birthdays that does that to us? In eight weeks, I'll be 30, and I'm obsessed with figuring out how to spend that decade).

I wish John the best. He's opted to take a new, interactive, public medium and make it his profession and he does a great job for the country and progressives in it. But the same door that lets him build a community lets the criticism flow in. Whatever the age of these particular critics, it would be nice if they would grow up.

March 30, 2006

If only they were all this good...

This is the best ad I've ever seen for these monsters.

What if Hillary Swiftboated Herself

I'm no Hillary Clinton fan, and I'm saddened that she may become the Democratic nominee in 2008. I think this endless passing the the Presidency between two families is distinctly harmful to a democracy, and I think that Hillary herself has demonstrated a brand of politics that far surpasses "triangulation" and goes straight into high-end pandering. She gets points for making it high-end, at least.

It seems to me though that one of the best strategies that nominee Hillary Clinton could employ would be to swiftboat herself from the left; that is, have surrogates engage serious leftists to form a swiftboat-like group, funded by MoveOn and others, to run ads attacking her incredibly moderate positions. My guess is that Hillary laughing off charges from the right of being a crazy lefty loon while she's laughing off charges from the left of being too far to the right would make her credible to the great middle of America.

Or, it could backfire and make it look as though no one on either side likes her, which is basically true.

Name One

RNC talking points, courtesy of The Fix:

What we heard today was campaign rhetoric, but the reality is many Democrats not only oppose monitoring known terrorists, but have voted to cut intelligence spending, and against giving law enforcement agents the tools they need to protect America," said RNC spokeswoman Tracey Schmitt.
Name one Democrat (or American, for that matter) who opposes monitoring known terrorists. Just one. Any single one who opposes the United States monitoring known terrorists here or abroad, name him or her. Now.

It's well past the time that the media started hammering people when they spew outrageous lies of this magnitude.

Totally Appropriate

This ruling in Mass is completely appropriate. If residents of states outside of the commonwealth want to live under Massachusetts laws, their states do not prohibit them from moving.

Cynthia McKinney Strikes Again

This time, it was apparently a Capitol Hill Police Officer.

She's my representative, and I have to say I'm less than thrilled. She's an eletrifying orator, but a lackluster legislator. At a time when her district and surrounding areas are contemplating exciting enhancements in transportation infrastructure, exploring ways of integrating mixed-use and greenspace areas into the urban environment, and confronting the myriad challenges related to the fast-paced economy of Atlanta and the nation, she pushes legislation to archive Tupac's documents.

Which wouldn't be an issue if there were groundbreaking pieces of legislation all around it on the list, but there just aren't. It's a shame for District 4 and for Atlanta's metro area.

Jill Carrol Freed

That's good news. I was certainly in the camp that figured she was not going to make it, and I'm pleased to be proved wrong. Terrific.

March 29, 2006

Apple v. Apple

Apple Computers and Apple Records are in one of their semi-regular courtroom spats again.

It seems reasonable to think that if the Beatles stopped being influential tomorrow and all other revenue streams dried up, Apple Records could still make a tidy profit by suing Apple Computers every few years.

Terrorists Will Win Watch

Link

"The Iraqi government is still in transition, and the Iraqi security forces are still gathering capacity," Bush said. "If we leave Iraq before they're capable of defending their own democracy, the terrorists will win."

Greedy Bastids Watch

A guy has filed suit against Apple claiming that iPods may cause hearing loss. He does not claim that he has suffered hearing loss, only that a person using the iPod may experience it. Which Apple warns about in its packaging, and which is pretty self-evident.

This has been today's Greedy Bastid Watch.

Quote of the Day

The Bush administration, in its continued defense of the program, maintains that no change in the law is needed because the president has the inherent constitutional authority to order wiretaps without warrants in defense of the country. --Eric Lichtblau, newswriter, NYT. "Judges on Secretive Panel Speak Out on Spy Program"

March 28, 2006

814

That's how many abortions were performed in South Dakota in 2004. Is this really the most pressing agenda item in that state?

First Up For Reform

When the next congress convenes, hopefully with Democratic majorities in both houses (we can dream, right), the first (of many) orders of business probably oughta be reforming this kind of crap.

I understand the utility of a court delving into the arguments and debates that brought a law into being, particularly if that law is older than any member of the court or congress. But when chuckleheads issue commentary and then tell the court that because they were acting as the official governmental peanut gallery, their opinions should trump the text of the law itself, there's a big, big problem.

What ever happened to "up or down vote"? What does the law say?

What I'm getting from this is that somebody could get elected, make a speech on the floor of the House or Senate in opposition to significant parts of a bill, and then when the bill that legislator opposed is subject to legislation down the line, that legislator can tell the courts that the minority opinion expressed in that floor speech sets the parameters of the court's jurisprudence.

It's insane. What does the law say? If it isn't clear, write clearer laws. Pass an amendment to clarify it.

This issue of signing statements and now congressional chatter that's inserted into the record is hugely problematic. It's an affront on all levels. The government must be bound by the laws it passes, and it shouldn't use these sneaky backdoor tricks to weasel out of its obligations or change the meaning of the law later.

My vote for reform #1.

Josh Bolten

Smarter bloggers than I will be all over this momentarily, I'm sure, but Josh Bolten is currently the White House budget director. Is he the guy we should blame for the disastrous state of affairs in fiscal Washington?

Dem Plans

I love this paragraph:

Indeed, the party's House leaders and committee chairs have begun making plans for their first moves if they take power, Democratic sources told TIME. Those sources said one of the first steps that a newly installed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi would take would be to introduce legislation making college tuition more affordable for middle-class families, perhaps through tax credits and lower interest rates on student loans. Democrats would move immediately to tighten port security, seeking to have 100% of incoming container cargo inspected. A Democratic official briefed on the plans said the party would quickly push a bill designed to inhibit future lobbying scandals. The sources said Democrats would push for changes to the troubled Medicare prescription-drug plan, giving more control to Medicare and less to private providers and striking the provision that prevents the government from negotiating prices with pharmaceutical companies.

March 25, 2006

New Simianbrain Gear

I just put this on the Simianbrain Cafe Press Store:

Because I still see the moronic "W THE PRESIDENT" stickers, which always make me think that both he and the bearer of the sticker need constant reminding.

March 24, 2006

96 Hours

Tuesday: Ben Domenech's WaPo blog launches.
Friday: Ben Domenech resigns in disgrace, exposed as a serial plagiarist.

And yes, I disagree with Rick Moran, who says that Domenech's plagiarism means that Domenech doesn't uphold the principles that conservatives value. I think getting ahead by any means whatsoever is exactly what conservatism is all about these days, and Moran's a fool to think that 24-year-old Ben Domenech is anything but the fresh face of the modern Conservative movement.

I Think I Need Help Deciding Whether to Call

indecision.vert.gif

No protections

I think that Atrios is exactly right:

Pension Bill allows corporations to underfund their pensions by an even greater amount.

Look, this is all just part of the greatest heist ever imagined. It begins with the attempt to steal the Social Security trust fund. The next step is to allow theft from corporate pension funds. And then finally they'll remove protections from 401(k) funds to allow creditors to take those funds.

I find when talking to people that they usually say things like, "Nah, what would the point of that be?" and I agree it's a great question. The only rationale I can come up with is that there is a strain of thought among some Americans that *any* protections that exist on any part of American life represent some kind of prohibition on Locke-ian natural law (he of "nasty, brutish, and short" fame). That's just not tolerable for these rampaging ideologues who genuinely believe that they've sprung fully formed from the warm soil of God's divine creation and have never and will never need anyone to assist them in any way.

And if *you* ever need someone else's help, you're a schmuck and you may as well go die, because that's what the weak deserve.

It's a really odd train of thought, because the people espousing it most vocally typically also call themselves Christians.

"The Fair Tax"

I saw a champaign colored Lexus sedan last night sporting a bumper sticker for "the fair tax", and I couldn't help but marvel at the way that Americans have flipped perspective. I'm still grounded enough to be thankful for what I have and know I'm lucky to have it, and there's simply no definition of "rich in America" that could possibly be contorted to include me.

When did we decide that those of us with the most are the ones to be pitied? When did the rich decide that they're the ones who got the short end?

Let's run some numbers, shall we? If you make a million dollars a year and pay 35% in taxes, you're left with $650,000 a year. If you can't live on that, you're making bad choices. You should be more responsible and live within your rather extravagant means. But mostly, you should quit whining about the unfairness of a life that grants you $650,000 after paying for the services that make your life worthwhile, while people like me make do with around $29,000 after April 15. And I'm not complaining about my income; I love my life.

Bite me, fair tax warriors.

Plagiarists at the Post

Now that WaPo conservative blogger Ben Domenech has been exposed as a serial plagiarist, it seems to me that the Post has two options: one, and the correct one, is to get rid of Domenech and replace him with any of the number of talented, legit Conservative bloggers out there. Once again, there's just no shortage of talented voices out there, left and right, and the Post shouldn't feel locked into a corner with this plagiarist.

The second option is to leave Domenech in his position, which strikes me as something of an admission that he was hired to be full of shit, so it's not like there's a need to remedy the situation.

March 23, 2006

Saletan Talks Sense on Marriage

Best quote:

One isn't the number of people you want to sleep with. It's the number of people you want your spouse to sleep with.
Well said.

A lot of different phrases come to mind...

"Shooting fish in a barrel"
"Finally, the intelligence is accurate"
"WTF?"
"That was an easy collar"
"Saving money on the 'detecting' part of detective work"
"Texas arresting people in bars for being drunk"

March 22, 2006

Blue America

Now that WaPo has launched an in-house conservative blog, I guess we need to organize for a liberal counterbalance. I nominate Shakespeare's Sister to author it.

Write to the post here: executive.editor@washingtonpost.com and let them know that Shakespeare's Sister would be a great way to balance this guy.

March 20, 2006

Tipping off the terrorists

I think the following paragraph (lifted from CNN's main page) probably means that it will be several months before we have to re-liberate Tal Afar. Just so the terrorists know it isn't high on our list...

tal.afar.png

His predictions have been so good so far...

Even for clairvoyants, George Bush's batting average is low. But still he glances down the road and shares with the public what it is he sees. Rainbows and lollipops for all the little babies, and victory in Iraq.

March 18, 2006

Polygamy & Gays

Krauthammer set off quite a discussion yesterday with his WaPo column on polygamy, gay marriage, and the decline of heterosexual unions.

Ann Althouse has issued a response based on the fundamental premise of marriage, straight or gay, as an economic union, thus arguing for gay equality in marriage and the ability to draw rational lines at multiple partners based on the economics of it.

One issue that she fails to address, and that I think bears mention, is the economic origin of polygamy in many, if not most, societies that engage in it.

In extremely poor societies, or in those where women are relegated to the home--almost always for religious reasons--polygamy makes a great deal of sense. If a man has the resources to support many different women and all of the children these unions produce, it is arguably a huge drain on the society to have the man decide that he, his one wife, and their few children will be the only beneficiaries of his wealth.

If we agree that this is the economic origin of polygamy, it's easy enough to say that in the United States there's no call for such an arrangement.

Except... we do it here all the time.

In the United States, we see an almost indistinguishable pattern where a man supports a number of women and the children he's fathered with them either through court order or the agreements they've worked out between themselves. Wealthier segments of society often feature a man supporting his legal family as well as one or more mistresses.

We view these as negatives, right? We look at these arrangements and see a path to the continuation of poverty in the first instance and an extreme power imbalance in the second, correct?

If we view polygamy as a habit of the poor or a way of dominating one party in a relationship, there's absolutely nothing that should compel us to endorse it. I'm unsure who Krauthammer is talking about when he discusses these crafty polygamists, but my guess is they're rare, they're white, and they live near private universities.

Andrew Sullivan explains the rather obvious difference between homosexuality (orientation) and polygamy (practice) here.

And for the record, I have no strong opinion about whether polygamy should be legal in the United States. I really don't see how it impacts me if Mormon families feature seventeen wives so long as they and their children are provided for. I can see a lot of downsides, but I'm a fairly live-and-let-live kind of person, and as long as the unions are freely entered into and the participants are free to leave, who am I to say what's best? I happen to believe this type of freedom is not common to polygamy, and that's where I would say it's not desirable as a legal institution in my country.

What I do feel strongly about is my great fear that if I'm injured and alone in a hospital room, my partner could be denied access to me. If I'm badly injured, she could be denied decision-making authority for me, even if we've gone through the considerable expense of having the relevant legal authorizations drawn up (see Georgia's Amendment 1 and similar punitive anti-gay laws throughout the United States). These powers cannot be denied to a spouse except in highly unusual situations, but these are exactly the types of concerns that keep me and many other gay families awake at night.

March 17, 2006

Sullivan's Answer

I've read Andrew Sullivan for years and usually valued his thoughtful approach to the wide array of subjects that arouse his passion, but on the subject of Iraq he's become unreadable. Today, he offers this wistful insight:

And so we await the Iraqi Mandela. And pray.
Three years in to a war he promoted relentlessly and he's dreaming of mythical figures to come and save our--and Iraq's--asses. Score one more for the "realists" of the right.

Causus Belli

I said:

One thing we should understand is that it is now the policy of the Bush administration to wage war against Iran. There is no evidence or consideration that will sway it from this, because it isn't at all concerned about Iran's nuclear ambitions, it's concerned with maintaining Congressional majorities for the GOP.
Kevin said:
Since Iran is incapable of delivering a nuclear weapon 7,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean, the primary doomsday scenario they've offered up is that Iran (or a terrorist group working with Iran) will ship a completed nuke through an American port and then threaten to detonate it in a large city.... Today, House Republicans voted almost unanimously against an amendment to beef up port security and install radiation monitors at all U.S. ports of entry. They also blocked consideration of an amendment to require 100% scanning of shipping containers entering the United States. I think this tells you just how seriously they take the actual threat of a nuclear Iran.
The Republicans that I know seem to think of themselves as bulwarks of reality against some hippie-dippy liberal fantasy land. They should get their heads out of their asses and take a look around. It's the GOP that's pushing the unreal and the ineffective on the United States.

Those hippie-dippy liberals have been pretty much right on the mark about just about everything for the past six years. Remember that when Bush starts saying "No decision has been made about invading Iran. I pray for peace."

The Drunken Sailors of the Republican Congress Strike Again

Let me begin by saying that I am furious:

Congress raised the limit on the federal government's borrowing by $781 billion yesterday, and then lawmakers voted to spend well over $100 billion on the war in Iraq, hurricane relief, education, health care, transportation and heating assistance for the poor without making offsetting budget cuts.
Not enough to raise your blood pressure? How about this?
With no brakes on spending and no moves afoot to raise taxes, the federal debt is now raising at an unprecedented clip. The government bumped up against its $8.18 trillion statutory debt ceiling last month, forcing the Treasury to borrow from employee pension funds to keep the government operating.
Or this:
It was the fourth debt-ceiling increase in the past five years, after boosts of $450 billion in 2002, a record $984 billion in 2003 and $800 billion in 2004. The statutory debt limit has now risen by more than $3 trillion since Bush took office.
Charles Grassley, who's supposed to be one of those tough-nosed realists: "Without an increase in the debt limit, our government will face a choice that we shouldn't make and we wouldn't want to make, a choice between breaking the law by exceeding the statutory debt limit or, on the other hand, breaking faith with the public by defaulting on our debt."

These people are destroying our country for a generation. Borrow and spend, borrow and spend.

March 16, 2006

Headline Round Up

The president is all set to get behind his policy of "preemptive war" again now that we're in an election year and his poll numbers are threatening Richard Nixon's low-water mark. Whatever else George Bush may believe about the world, he certainly believes that the military is his toy to do with as he will, and he'll stretch that critical resource to the breaking point if it'll guard his political needs.

Watch out Iran. George has you in his sights, but after three years of preemption in Iraq I have to borrow from Zell Miller here: What are we going to shoot them with? Spitballs? The military has just about enough personnel to maintain the ineffective numbers currently in Iraq. One could argue that we sent too few troops into Iraq because we believed that it would be a cakewalk and that we'd never make that mistake with Iran, but I've already seen a suggestion that what we'd be doing is "freeing" Iranians from "theocracy".

Anyway, here's a series of headlines ordered in most- to least-sensical.

cnn.preemption.gif

CNN manages to write a coherent headline! Who knew they had that in them?

wapo.preemption.gif

WaPo's headline bugs me. "Preventive War", as in "We waged a preventive war to prevent war," is numbskull speak from the get go. It gets worse inside, where the headline is "Bush to Restate Terror Strategy", utterly ignoring that terrorism has increased every year since the Bush terror strategy went into effect.

fox.preemption.gif

Ah, fox news. "Bush Reiterates Pre-emptive Strike" makes it sound like Bush said it twice so that journalists would understand that he could pronounce the words.

One thing we should understand is that it is now the policy of the Bush administration to wage war against Iran. There is no evidence or consideration that will sway it from this, because it isn't at all concerned about Iran's nuclear ambitions, it's concerned with maintaining Congressional majorities for the GOP.

The Dems can make huge headway by running against rubber-stampism and the do-nothing congress. If they cower in fear about the prospect of another poorly-executed and politically expedient war, they've failed their country. That's the bottom line.

March 15, 2006

Parlor Games

Scott McClellan, on those Republicans who say that Bush should get his government back on track:

"This is part of the inside Washington babble that goes on in this town," the spokesman told the AP. "This is part of the parlor game."
Good government: just another parlor game to the Bush administration.

Journalism's Myopia

Read EJ Dionne today. He discusses some of the less obvious divides in America, but it's worth it especially for this paragraph.

The paper's authors also take a nice swipe at the media, arguing that reporters tend to overemphasize the role of rich Democrats in elections. Why? Journalists, they write, "noticed a pattern (richer counties supporting the Democrats) that is concentrated in the states where the journalists live," notably the environs of Washington and New York. The class polarization in such deep red states as Oklahoma, Texas and Mississippi goes largely unreported.
In other words, the caricature of the asshole elitist coastal Democrat is drawn directly from the social circle of the asshole elitist journalist (usually also nominally a Democrat). Lovely.

What is the sound of one hand clapping?

Shakespeare's Sister has the relevant excerpts from Dana Milbank today. It's worth mentioning that most Dems were lined up to vote for censure for President Clinton after he failed to disclose that he had cheated on his wife.

It's worth noting that MoveOn.org arose from that fight, created to lobby to "censure and move on".

Why do Democrats only feel it's appropriate to take on their own?

A Moment of Orwell

Recalling that Winston Smith works for the Ministry of Truth correcting the historical record in newsprint, I had a jolt when I saw this paragraph on CNN.com. It's a typo, and yet it provoked a particular kind of response.

history.png

I'm sure the paragraph will be corrected by the time you click it, but I thought it was an interesting thing worth saving.

March 14, 2006

If the People Lead...

There's this bumper sticker I've seen my whole life that says, "If the people lead, the leaders will follow," which is probably true but entirely irrelevant. The people are way too busy leading their lives to lead this country, and it's nice to think that at some point the people we send to Washington might quit waiting around for the people to run the military or the courts for them.

At Unclaimed Territory, Anonymous Liberal gives us the latest example of Democratic leadership miscalculation, as Dem leaders have backed away from Russ Feingold's Censure Resolution, apparently out of a fear of alienating swing voters.

You know what? Fuck the swing voters. And fuck the possible 51% who voted for an authoritarian regime in America. Sometimes you've got to do the leading for the people, because sometimes the people lose their way.

Bush has amply demonstrated that if the leaders lead, the people will follow--with questions and concerns, to be sure, but they'll follow as long as you look like you know what you're doing. It's become clear to almost everyone that the GOP has no idea how to run a government, and if the Democrats don't turn into leaders soon, this country may never recover.

Iraq as Easter Egg Hunt

Sometimes the headlines just provoke entirely inappropriate mental associations.

eastereggs.gif

CNN.com tells us that Bush's approvals are at a new low of 38% in a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll, and that Bush has launched yet another campaign to once again attempt to shore up support for the occupation of Iraq:

Bush launched his latest effort to shore up support for the war Monday, accusing Iran of providing explosives used to attack American troops and telling an audience at George Washington University that U.S. forces were "making progress" against insurgents.

He also praised Iraqis for averting civil war despite the sectarian violence that came after February's bombing of the al-Askariya mosque in Samarra, a revered Shiite Muslim shrine.

"The situation in Iraq is still tense, and we're still seeing acts of sectarian violence and reprisal," Bush said. "Yet out of this crisis, we've also seen signs of a hopeful future."

It's just that sort of hollow optimism that's brought him this far, so I guess he'll just stick to his guns until he's actually less popular than Richard Nixon was on the eve of his resignation.

Quick: somebody tell me again what a master of American politics Karl Rove is!

I am not making this up...

I receive e-mail from the Ralph Reed for Lt. Gov. campaign here in Georgia, and when I opened the latest campaign missive yesterday I nearly fell out laughing:

road.with.ralph.jpg

First of all, the photoshop job here couldn't be worse if they wanted it to be, but who picked that headline? "On the Road with Ralph?" You're telling me this guy is one of the supergeniuses behind the conservative rise to power? I find that highly doubtful.

March 11, 2006

Public Urination is a Crime Even When Not Illegal

Apparently a California Court has ruled that public urination is a crime under littering and public nuisance statutes, even if the practice is not specifically singled out.

No particular dispute there, but I'm thinking of the dozens of urban shopping districts I've been in where "Restrooms Are For Customers Only" signs proliferate. San Francisco was full of them when I was there last.

Shouldn't those businesses be required to make their restrooms available to people if cities don't have public facilities in an area? Cities can enforce littering ordinances because they generally have public trash cans in busier corridors, but bathrooms require plumbing or at least an enclosed holding tank that is emptied frequently. Businesses already have the equipment.

If it's illegal to urinate outside, how can it be legal to prevent people from using existing bathroom facilities?

March 06, 2006

Quote of the Day

"We have learned a tough lesson, and it has been a lot tougher for those tens of thousands of dead, innocent Iraqis and several thousand killed and injured American soldiers than for a few humiliated pundits." --Andrew Sullivan

March 03, 2006

Simianbrain Ads

I've decided to begin experimenting with advertising on the blog. On the right sidebar, you'll notice a small number of advertisers in coming weeks. After more than two years of doing this entirely for free, I figured why not?

One thing to know: I choose the advertisers, so I will only ever allow advertising from companies that I have used and had positive experiences with. Whether you choose to use them or not, consider their placement on par with a word of mouth recommendation from that blogger chick in Atlanta.

And on that note, the inaugural Simianbrain ad is from an Atlanta-based company, a little ISP called EarthLink. You might recognize 'em from the @earthlink.net in my published e-mail address.

Perverse educational announcement: If ads on website annoy you, the Firefox browser has a great extension called Adblock that filters them really effectively. In other words, it's up to you whether you even have to see them.

The Greatest Terrorism Threat Ever Known

blondazon.invasion.png
The Blondazon army on the march.

Net Neutrality

Let's have a round of applause for Oregon Senator Ron Wyden. Yesterday he introduced a Net Neutrality Bill in the Senate Commerce Committee (pdf here) that would prohibit ISPs from creating a "priority lane" for faster content for those willing to pay for it.

Some communications providers have already expressed an interest in doing just that, which would be bad for consumers, individuals who maintain an online presence, and small businesses. Imagine having your ISP tack on a per-minute surcharge for streaming media, downloading large files, or online gaming and you get the idea of where this could go.

According to CNN, Republican committee chairman Ted Stevens was less than enthusiastic about his support of Wyden's measure. In typical Republican fashion, he said that he supports net neutrality, but would rather wait until Congress designs some monstrous overhaul of the US communications law than deal with this real issue in a timely manner.

This page has a list of Commerce Committee members. If your senator is on here, write to him or her today to express your support for Ron Wyden's Net Neutrality bill. If you have a Republican Senator representing you on the Commerce Committee, feel free to use the "up or down vote" language they love so much.

If your Senator is not on the list, write to him or her anyway. This page will help you find contact info if you don't already have it.

Buy an Island

Alternate headline for this article: Pizza Magnate Secedes from United States; 'Catholic Army' decimated by Florida National Guard

2006 and now it's the conservatives who are utopians. Weird.

March 02, 2006

'Come On In My Kitchen' at 7 Stages Theater

Wow, this play was extraordinary. A fascinating celebration of the blues, it was unexpectedly contemporary, political, and psychedelic.

Visually, the show was just astounding. Three platforms are suspended over the stage while at the rear of it, several floor-to-ceiling angled walls serve as enormous projection screens. On the stage, a final panel is moved in and out to bring the projected character of Robert Johnson down to size and into the physical space of the actors.

The tech was astonishing, but the music was even better. Valerie Hines literally portrays Blues, winding a rhythm and soul into the play that simply couldn't have worked with canned music. The sensuality of her performance was pitch perfect, making something potentially abstract utterly concrete and grounding the entire work solidly in its own inspiration.

The story follows three real-world characters who find themselves assembled in Greenwood, Mississippi on an August night. We learn that this ritual is repeated year after year; they are mysteriously carried back to a deep south juke joint to watch Robert Johnson die. They have their own deals with the devil, who is embodied by Yvonne Singh as the character Tuner, a sort of ring master figure. CP, CR, and CT have achieved everything that such a pact implies, and having done so, each wishes to renegotiate their terms.

The writing is spectacular. Monologues flowed like poetry (no wonder, as playwright Robert Earl Price is also an acclaimed poet) and there is an air of deep American subconscious to the play. This is the good stuff brought to life marvelously.

Come On In My Kitchen runs through March 12.

Fox News Liberals

Those liberals at Fox News have Bush at 39% in approval. Fox and Think Progress both note this as "only the second time" Bush's approvals have fallen below 40% in Fox polling. Here's to many more!

Threatens?

Dan Froomkin understates:

Hurricane Katrina (as I wrote as early as Aug. 31 ) was the second great challenge of Bush's presidency.

Which inevitably makes me think of how Bush responded, in a moment also "caught on tape," to his first. After finding out that the nation was under attack on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, Bush remained frozen in his seat in a Florida classroom for seven minutes.

The grainy video from that classroom, a hallmark of Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11," can be found at The Memory Hole.

A staff report from the 9/11 commission described that morning:

"The President was seated in a classroom of second graders when, at approximately 9:05, Andrew Card whispered to him: 'A second plane hit the second tower. America is under attack.' The President told us his instinct was to project calm, not to have the country see an excited reaction at a moment of crisis."

But even after he left the classroom, he didn't call the Pentagon. He didn't ask if there were other aircraft hijacked or missing. Instead, he and his staff worked on a statement to the press.

Faced with challenges like these -- an attack on our nation or a natural disaster bearing down on our shores -- we can reasonably expect that our presidents will stand up, demand answers and options, and lead.

If the White House insists that Bush did that with Hurricane Katrina, it is incumbent upon them to back up that claim up with evidence. Otherwise, the image of him mouthing platitudes threatens to become defining of his presidency.

We're long past the point of hollow rhetoric and empty, mindless platitudes "threatening" to become defining of this presidency.

An Unhelpful Reaction to the New Katrina Reports

I told you so. Even more unhelpful: every other liberal in America has had this same thought. Even less helpful than that: America's conservatives are still too stupid to see how radically, stupidly dangerous the government of the United States is under the radical and stupid leadership of the dumbest man ever to hold the office.

George Will Sucks

Equally refreshing and infuriating:

Last week, in the latest iteration of a familiar speech (the enemy is "brutal," "we're on the offensive," "freedom is on the march") that should be retired, the president said, "This is a moment of choosing for the Iraqi people." Meaning what? Who is to choose, and by what mechanism? Most Iraqis already "chose" -- meaning prefer -- peace.
While it's nice to see Will actually turning his pen on a man whose stupidity has contributed to the deaths of thousands of Americans, I can't forget the episode in the 2000 campaign when Will did what was billed as a 'hard hitting' interview of candidate George W. Bush, suspected by many of being seriously out of his league in this presidenting thing. Will provided the questions to Bush ahead of time and personally coached him on answering them.

Will has the audacity to title his column "Rhetoric of Unreality". I think Karen said it best: "He's a prick-face".

March 01, 2006

Cinematic Mastery

Toy Story 2/Requiem for a Dream trailer mash up.

Holy War in Congress

Link

"We believe the Church as a community is called to be in the vanguard of creating a more just America and world. And as such, we have a claim on the Church's bearing as it does on ours."

I applaud the fifty five Catholic Democrats in the House of Representatives for creating this document, but can anyone pretend that flaring religious tensions in our government is a step forward?

The Sanctity of Marriage

I think this guy is probably the poster child for the 'sanctity of marriage' crowd, wouldn't you agree?



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"An odd point of view to say the least."
UNCoRRELATED


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