Thursday, April 28, 2005

Medical Privacy

Remember all those liberal blogs that were all rightfully up in arms a couple of months ago about the Kansas Attorney General's subpoenas into the medical records of minors in Kansas seeking abortions? How many of them are now rejoicing because Rush Limbaugh has lost an appeal of his efforts to keep his medical records private? Let's be consistent on the principles here, regardless of who benefits or suffers (in other words, let's actually stand for something), or we're no better than the Republicans.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Things I Don't Miss

Pops' Bucket got a link from T-Bogg a week or so ago, so my little plug here will have a negligible effect on his traffic, but Pops has become one of my daily reads so I thought I'd steer you all over that way.

In a previous incarnation of me from this life I had the pleasure of being a step-father to two boys, four years apart (that would be from each other, not from me). Apparently some behaviors appear wherever there are two or more male siblings in the house. As Pops describes it,
"My boys...spend all their free time walking around each other in a slow circle executing a complicated series of feints in order to make the other commit so they can then scream 'Daaaaaaad, heeeeeee staaaarrted iiit!' before commencing with the pummeling."
That's pretty much how I remember it, too.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

It's Not the System, it's the Republicans

Commenting on another blogger, Donzelion's post Paperwight neatly sums up what distinguishes the Republicans currently running things in Washington,
"The Republicans of the last 15 years or so are remarkable in that they don't actually believe in government, and so feel no compunction about stripmining it in a spectacular show of nepotism, pork, corruption, and destruction, all personified in Tom DeLay."

Although all Republicans in Washington may (!) not be as corrupt as DeLay, until very recently, and even then not very convincingly, an exceptional few have dared speak out agaist him and all who have remained silent have been complicit in his corruption.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Back on Track as We Explore Wingnuttia

Michelle Malkin has her panties in a wad because Senator Dick Durbin (D-Il) told a joke at the dedication of the Lincoln Presidential Museum, referring to a Jewish woman's belief that Lincoln was Jewish (because he was shot in the temple). According to MM, this is another example of "Democrat (sic) joking about a Republican president's assassination."

The main problem I have with that characterization is the description of Lincoln as a "Republican President." As much as the Repubs would like to claim they are his ideological descendants, the record just can't support that. If you look at what the current power structure of the Republican party supports, it's quite clear that they would not have been on the side of the union during the Civil War. They might flatter themselves by saying they would have been for emancipation of the slaves, but it's far more likely that they would have been for preserving the property rights of the slave holders. Beyond that (and my last comment aside), it's silly to invoke Lincoln for the purpose of partisan sniping. Lincoln was an American President, in my mind the greatest American President. Let's just leave it at that.

And finally, it's just a damn joke. Funny or not? That's your call. Tasteless? I've heard far worse. Partisan? Please. One of the earliest jokes I remember hearing, from my father, a life-long Republican and FDR hater, was "aside from that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play?" I heard it from him when I was a child and I've probably heard it every year since then. Believe me, my old man ain't an undercover Democrat.

Right Wing Sanity?

What with all the conservatives pulling out their hair over those nasty liberals and their pie throwing, I was wondering how they would respond to a protestor spitting on Jane Fonda. Michelle Malkin (yes, that Michelle Malkin) gets it right
"Jane Fonda gets spit upon by a tobacco-chewing nutball who stalked her at a book signing. Terrible move. The guy is a coward.

We should never forget the disgraceful treatment Vietnam Veterans received from Fonda's ilk. But engaging in the same tactics to protest her treachery is inexcusable. Start a blog. Write a book. Launch a 527. But spit at a woman and run away? Grow up."

And while I'm apparently feeling sensitive and vulnerable, I might as well get this out of my system, too. Could it be that Adam Yoshida (yes, that Adam Yoshida!) is growing up? In an April 16 blog entry, he actually writes,
"The political internet is the land of the excitable, and I know that I’m as susceptible to it as anyone, it’s a place where politicians careers are declared dead eight thousand times each day and where the smallest of incidents or the tiniest of setbacks can morph into the dawning of the End Times.

Take, for example, the drop in the Dow on Friday. Rational people, I think, understand that Stock Markets go both up and down. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t serve their purpose. Sane people, I think, realize that the Dow can be down a hundred on Friday and up two hundred on Monday or, well, whatever. But the internet is not conducive to sanity.

I couldn’t count the number of times last yeah when I saw either Bush or Kerry proclaimed as “finished” (admittedly, several hundred of the times for the latter spewed from my own keyboard)."

"As much as I admire the President and his team, even I have to admit that there’s something disturbing about them standing in front of a banner with some simplistic regurgitation of their policy scrawled across it eight thousand times (“Defending America From Foreign Aggression”, “Sound Energy and Whale Oil Policy”, etc.)."

Now, back to our regularly scheduled wingnut bashing.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Good News, I'm Not Going to Die!

At least not because of my weight. Though overweight, according to the Body Mass Index (BMI) calculation, I have a lower risk of death than people of "normal" weight (that would be a lower risk of death at any given moment, of course; eventually we all have the same risk of death). In fact, according to the chart, I am in the best grouping, with a lower risk of death than not only normal people but also those who are "underweight," "obese," and "extremely obese" (it seems this would have been a good place for the term "morbidly obese").

I've always wondered about these charts and formulas that determine who is normal weight and who is thin or overweight. Though at 225 pounds I'm not light, I'm also tall and most people describe me as thin. I would have to lose 20 pounds to reach normal weight. I don't even want to consider what my diet would have to consist of for me lose 20 pounds. Probably have to give up fatty and greasy food and alcohol. As the old joke goes, I wouldn't really live longer on that kind of diet; it would just seem like it.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

God I'm Old

Taken from Mags, at You Forgot Poland (god, I wish I'd grabbed that name):

From her list of 30 bands she's seen, I'm supposed to list those I've also seen, then add more that I've seen until I reach 30. Um, sorry girl, but I haven't seen any of those folks.

My list:

Grateful Dead
Jackson Brown
John Doe
Was (Not Was)
Steve Earle
Fleetwood Mac
J Geils Band
Graham Nash
Nicollette Larson
Jethro Tull
Talking Heads
Boz Scaggs
Los Lobos
Alice Cooper
Josh & Teal with the Front Porch Feel (Splinter group of the Mother Truckers)
Dire Straits
David Lindley
Jimmy Buffet
English Beat
The Kinks

This is just the order they came to mind. More bands popped into my head after I'd finished this list that I would rather have my name associated with than some of those I did list, but I'll just go with these.

Death and, Taxes

Via Julia Saltman at Political Animal we find this Eat the Rich entry at MaxSpeak, offering a simple primer on the estate and gift tax, or as the mouth breathers refer to it, the "death tax."

The sixth item in the post doesn't deal directly with the estate tax, but does address one of the purported concerns of its opponents: the possibility that government action might force somebody to lose its family farm. In the case highlighted in the post, the government action wasn't taxation as an estate changed hands; it was eminent domain action that secured the land occupied by a chicken farm so that a baseball stadium could be built near a certain Texas metropolis, greatly benefitting the owners of the team that would be playing in that stadium. The construction of this stadium, corporate welfare writ large, largely established the fortune of the residents of the White House. Details here.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Supporting the Troops

From Powerline's Assrocket:"
First it was body armor, then armored vehicles. Now it's "immoral" that our soldiers don't have enough sandbags. Am I missing something, or is this ludicrous on its face?"
You gotta love the "what will it take to satisfy these whining soldiers" tone this guy takes on, don't you? Why can't they just be good little boys and girls and fight Bush's and Powerline's war quietly and graciously? You gotta fight the war with the army and supplies, you've got, don't they know that? There's only so much money to go around, and that's all being spent wisely, so what do these whiners in the desert want from us?

Monday, April 11, 2005

Berkeley Barbarian Bash

My goodness, it's time again already for the Bay Area Bloggers and Readers to gather in a local watering hole for thirst slaking and other barbaric activities best not described in a family blog such as this. Our targeted establishment this time is Jupiter beerhouse in Berkeley, near the University. This is how you get there.

On a bittersweet note, this may be the last appearance of John, a founding BARBARian and the proprietor of the always entertaining Blogenlust. John's leaving our little bit of heaven to make his way in New York City. That is, if things involved with this move start going better for him than they have so far. Come see him off and expose yourselves to Scaramouch, Simbaud, Scamboogah, Ang, Mags, and the rest of the miscreants in our merry band.

Friday, April 08, 2005

The Reduction of Jonah Goldberg

With this blow and this one, Jonah Goldberg seems, like the Black Knight, to have had his legs cut off. Who gets a whack at his arms?

Whacking at Straw Men

Yes, as you may have guessed by the title, this entry is about Ann Coulter.

In a recent column, Ann Coulter bashes secularists. Nothing new there. What’s interesting, though again, not new, is she bashes them not for anything they’ve done or said, but for what she imagines them to feel. She believes we are, or at least ought to be, as secularists, disapproving of Ashley Smith’s disarming of Brian Nichols. She thinks (or wants us to believe she does; it’s almost inconceivable that any sentient being could really believe the simple-minded blathering she produces) that we’re disapproving of any actions that reveal or are driven by somebody’s spiritual beliefs. Such people no doubt exist, though Ms. Coulter probably cannot produce any evidence of them, but they are certainly far rarer than those who are mortally offended by those of us who choose not to and resist the use of the bible and other religious texts to promote intolerance and bigotry.

Most people recognize and accept without being offended, or really even giving it much thought, that people’s religious beliefs may animate and guide their actions. Many of us though, Christian and non-Christian alike, aren’t impressed by those who feel the need to overtly display their religiosity. Some, like me, may have come to feel this way through exposure to this, “And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.” I know, that’s just crazy talk.

The other interesting thing about this is that there is nothing in Ann’s writings or actions to indicate that she actually holds or is compelled by Christian religious beliefs; their existence in others just make a handy cudgel with which she can beat those people whose actions she disapproves of. Of course, most of these people, and their actions, exist mostly only in Ann’s mind. I guess there's nothing wrong in her using beliefs she doesn't hold to knock down people and events who don't exist.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Words I Never Thought I'd Write

For the last three or four weeks, the first thing I do when I open the morning paper is check to see what the Warriors did last night. It's been a long time since "Run-TMC," but the excitement is back. Thanks Mike, Baron, JR, and all the rest.

Wanker Whining About the Pulitzers

First Draft has the final word on Republican wanker whining about the Pulitzer News Photography awards.

Link via TBogg

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Giulani Sgrena; A Different Version

Reports of the shooting of Italian journalist Giulani Sgrena by US forces in Iraq last month had some features in common. We read and heard from virtually all sources that the car she was riding in was shot by American troops, who believed they were acting in self-defense, when it inexplicably tried to run a marked US checkpoint.

Naomi Klein, who interviewed Sgrena in a hospital in Rome late last month tells a different story. In an interview with Amy Goodman, Klein relays the story she got from Sgrena, a story drastically at odds with the commonly accepted version. Sgrena told Klein that while she will not say that the attack on the car was intentional, she has questions about the attack on her car which the US is not providing answers to.

Although most reports said her car was on the road to the airport, Sgrena says she was on an entirely different road; a secured road that can be entered only through the green zone and that is open only to ambassadors and top military officials. Sgrena also says it was not soldiers at a checkpoint that fired on her vehicle. Her car was fired on by a lone tank parked by the side of the road. Finally, and maybe most significantly, the bullet that wounded her (passing through her and killing Nicola Calipari, the security agent who had rescued her) struck her from behind. When fired upon, her car was not approaching the tank but driving away from it. Whatever the reason for firing on her car, self-defense would seem to be ruled out.

As Ms. Sgrena writes for a "communist" newspaper, anything she says that runs counter to the official version in this country is easily discounted, if not just ignored, by the US press (with its notorious liberal bias). And we know that the US Army would never just make stuff up to make itself look good. We can expect the truth about this incident to come out at about the same time that we get to see the missing 28 pages dealing with Saudi involvement with 9/11, when we hear the truth about the Plame Affair, when we find the WMD, yadda, yadda, yadda...

The Company We Keep

With 59, the United States ranked fourth among the world's nations in executions last year, according to Amnesty International. The top three nations in executions, according to AI's annual report, were China, with 3400, Iran, which executed 159, and Vietnam, with 64 executions. Bear in mind, this counts only "legal" executions, so if you want to throw in those prisoners of US forces in Iraq who were murdered while in US custody, we could easily leapfrog ahead of Vietnam (it doesn't seem right that such a small country, a former enemy of ours, yet, should rank ahead of us in anything). We can proudly stand ahead of such nations as Saudi Arabia. With the reestablishment in Iraq of the death penalty, one of the proud legacies of our occupation, we can perhaps count on this proud nascent democracy to challenge us in future years.

As a contrast to those 59 executed by the US, AI also points out that in 2004, Ryan Matthews became the 115th prisoner released from Death Row in the US since 1973 because he was innocent. In Matthews' case, an appeal judge found prosecutorial misconduct at his trial (suppression of exculpatory evidence). This, along with inadequate or non-existent defense counsel, is one of the most frequent causes for death penalty reversals in this country. There is no accounting, of course, of innocent men and women who have been executed here.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

The Old "Liberals Overrun the College" Problem

Mr. Thomas, in his March 30 Townhall column (generously provided to me as op-ed page filler by my local rag, the Press Democrat) takes up the tired matter of alleged liberal bias on college faculties. He claims (and his claim may be true, but townhallians seem not to have mastered the art of the hyperlink) a study conducted by Smith College, George Mason University, and the University of Toronto show that 72% of professors surveyed at 183 American Universities labeled themselves as liberal, while only 15% consider themselves conservative. Similar imbalances show up among those who are registered Democrats vs Republicans. Thomas wants us to believe that he believes this means that our children (to the extent that our offspring who are overwhelmingly legally adults can properly be called children) are having their thought processes stained and their morals undermined by this great godless horde of educators. He of course pulls Ward Churchill out of the closet as an example of the kind of educators liberals are (you have to admire the legs this Churchill story has. The wingnuts will be using him forever to prop up this liberal-bias-on-campus meme. If he ever does lose his job at the University of Colorado, I suspect he could make a good living lecturing to wingnuts), and wishes us to believe he is typical. Thomas even suggests, probably tongue in ample cheek, that colleges practice affirmative action to find and attract more conservative faculty members to give their faculties ideological balance.

The implication is that there are throngs of potential conservative faculty members out there, just waiting for somebody to give them a chance. What's interesting to me is that Thomas, and everybody else, didn't write a column about those people. Where is the column about all the unemployed conservative college teachers, living on food stamps and working as barristas because they can't get an interview at Liberals Only U? The implication of all these no-conservatives-need-apply columns is that students are being force fed liberal instructors, but that there are alternative profs out there. So who are they? Where are they? There must be literally thousands of them out there? Why don't we get to read their stories? Who will tell their story? Are you listening, Cal? How about you, Michelle? Anybody at the corner want to put down that donut and wander out into the world to crack this one? Their's is a terrible fate. If you won't tell their story, who will?

Friday, April 01, 2005

Fred Korematsu

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