Sunday, October 30, 2005

Happy Halloween

Here's hoping your spooky day is positively ducky. Posted by Picasa

Not Just "If", but "Why"

Sure, this can rightfully be called material for your schadenfreude file, but it's a bit more than that.

Michelle Malkin is top on the list of "People The Left Loves to Hate", but sometimes that reaction is based solely on her recent place in the limelight. Getting us up to speed, David Neiwert of Orincus provides a history lesson in Ms. Malkin's antics and rather definitively answers the question of whether or not she could ever be called a "professional journalist".

My initial reaction was, of course, "Hell no". After reading his piece, not only has my opinion not changed, but it's in fact, more stringent now than it ever was.

Enjoy, if this sort of thing turns you on.

Brief Thoughts on the Indictment

Like many of you, I've read through a wide array of reaction pieces to Libby's indictment. Not surprisingly, I find myself disagreeing with two schools of thought:

1.) That Friday's news was a grand disappointment, since Rove appears to have gotten away clean.

2.) That the absence of IIPA/Espionage Act charges prove no "serious" crimes were committed.

Instead, I agree with theory #3 that's been proposed: That the charges against Libby are, effectively, leverage. The White House doesn't want a trial, to be sure. And the discovery/deposition process will only lead to more questions that will in turn, likely lead either to more indictments or a full-color unraveling of the administration's manipulation and falsification of intelligence. Fitzgerald knows this, the administration knows this. As such, the indictments against Libby are a vice with which to squeeze out the big-picture details of Who-What-When-Why. Libby is bait, pure and simple.

Heeeeeere fishy fishy fishy....

"Oh Baby"

Yesterday, I had what can only be described as an "emergency tooth extraction". I now have a gaping hole in my head, but thanks to the dentist's generous prescription of pain killers, I'm out of the worst of the agony. However, these wonder-drugs have pretty much zapped me of my sharper wit, and as such, I'll just be directing you to some good reading until I get my head together.

First on the Lookie-Lookie list is another fine entry from Jeffrey Feldman.

Of all the rotten words Republicans like to throw at Democrats, the phrase ‘baby killer’ has to be the worst.

Republicans in Congress like nothing more than to tell the American people that a ‘Holocaust’ is being committed by Liberals in this country, and that over 30 million ‘babies’ have been ‘killed’ since the passage of Roe v. Wade, roughly twenty years ago. ‘Abortion on demand,’ they call it, or worse: a ‘culture of death.’

None of this would matter—and the country might actually be solving some of its serious problems with healthcare, education, or national security—if the Democrats had long ago found a powerful way to respond to the ‘baby killer’ accusation from Republicans. Unfortunately, the only response Democrats have used is the once powerful, but now inadequate phrase: ‘I am for a woman’s right to choose.’

I actually find it surprising that the GOP took so long to come up with a good phrase to deal with the Democratic line on abortion. But come up with one they did, and they will repeat and repeat and repeat it until the Democrats figure out how to reframe the debate.

He goes on to explain just how the debate must be framed, and offers some excellent suggestions for rebuttals to the "baby killer" meme. Good stuff, well worth a read.

Friday, October 28, 2005

When Nixon's cronies say "cut the crap" ... is truly the mark of an integrity void in Washington. After a night vigil we organized on a bridge Wednesday night, joining with thousands across America to acknowledge 2,000 lives lost (and far more destroyed), we talked about the estimates of Iraqi deaths- 30,000 or more as stated below- 10% children. We stood mostly in silence, a glowing row of candles held by people from all walks of life: mothers, veterans, republicans, democrats, greens...affirming that this is not a political game, played out on talk shows or the smirking arenas of "Hardball" and "O'Wylie Factor". This is about loved ones, a father on the ground knowing his baby will never be in his arms again, a mother thinking about her son smiling at her during a little league game. Dead. A brother watching his baby sister's disfigured limp body, poisoned by DU. Right now my little son is giggling in a dinosaur suit. All he is concerned with is Halloween. Imagine these kids- fucking blown up. Dead. See. its more than Rove and Bush and Wolfowitz....its us. We sit here, mostly in silent witness, doing little to demand accountability. No one is going to indict us. Do we speak out only when death comes to our door, knocking its realities into our skulls?
We need more than indictments and head rolling, we need accountability for the human costs of their agenda. Despite wanting so much to believe in a 'noble cause', people across America and indeed, across the world, need to know and express otherwise- not with snarky Bushco jokes- but with some earnest outrage. Stop saying it doesn't matter anyway- embolden your neighbors by speaking to truth. Don't wait for prosecutors, courts, and corporations to do something. They won't. Ordinary people are the only defense when the damn world's gone mad.

October 27, 2005--Op-Ed Columnist

"Driving Blind as the Deaths Pile Up"

Much of the nation is mourning the more than 2,000 American G.I.'s lost to the war in Iraq. But some of the mindless Washington weasels who sent those brave and healthy warriors to their unnecessary doom have other things on their minds. They're scrambling about the capital, huddling frantically with lawyers, hoping that their habits of deception, which are a way of life with them, don't finally land them in a federal penitentiary.

See them sweat. The most powerful of the powerful, the men who gave the president his talking points and his marching orders, are suddenly sending out distress signals: Don't let them send me to prison on a technicality.

This is not, however, about technicalities. You can spin it any way you want, but Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation of Karl Rove, Scooter Libby et al. is ultimately about the monumentally conceived and relentlessly disseminated deceit that gave us the war that never should have happened.

Oh, it was heady stuff for a while - nerds and naïfs swapping fantasies of world domination and giddily manipulating the levers of American power. They were oh so arrogant and glib: Weapons of mass destruction. Yellowcake from Niger. The smoking gun morphing into a mushroom cloud.

Now look at what they've wrought. James Dao of The Times began his long article on the 2,000 American dead with a story that was as typical as it was tragic:

"Sgt. Anthony G. Jones, fresh off the plane from Iraq and an impish grin on his face, sauntered unannounced into his wife's hospital room in Georgia just hours after she had given birth to their second son."

The article described how Sergeant Jones, over a blissful two-week period last May, "cooed over their baby and showered attention on his wife."

"Three weeks later, on June 14," wrote Mr. Dao, "Sergeant Jones was killed by a roadside bomb in Baghdad on his third tour in a war that is not yet three years old. He was 25."

Three times Sergeant Jones was sent to Iraq, which tells you all you need to know about the fairness and shared sacrifices of this war. If you roll the dice enough times, they're guaranteed to come up snake eyes.

Sergeant Jones told his wife, Kelly, that he had "a bad feeling" about heading back to Iraq for a third combat tour. After his death, his wife found a message that he had left for her among his letters and journal entries.

"Grieve little and move on," he wrote. "I shall be looking over you. And you will hear me from time to time on the gentle breeze that sounds at night, and in the rustle of leaves."

In addition to the more than 2,000 dead, an additional 15,000 Americans have been wounded. Some of these men and women have sacrificed one, two and even three limbs. Some have been permanently blinded and others permanently paralyzed - some both. Some have been horribly burned.

For the Iraqis, the toll is beyond hideous. Perhaps 30,000 dead, of which an estimated 10 percent have been children. The number of Iraqi wounded is anybody's guess.

This is what happens in war, which is why wars should only be fought when there is utterly and absolutely no alternative.

So what's ahead, now that the giddiness in Washington has been replaced by anxiety and the public is turning against the war?

Even Richard Nixon's cronies are crawling out of the woodwork to urge the Bush gang to stop the madness. In an article for Foreign Affairs magazine, former Defense Secretary Melvin Laird, now 83, says the administration needs to come up with a clearly defined exit strategy, and fast.

Said Mr. Laird: "Getting out of a war is still dicier than getting into one, as George W. Bush can attest."

But President Bush, who never gave the country a legitimate reason for going to war, and has never offered a coherent strategy for winning the war, seems in no hurry to figure out a way to exit the war.

Soon after the Pentagon confirmed on Tuesday that the American death toll in Iraq had reached 2,000, the president gave a speech in which he said: "This war will require more sacrifice, more time and more resolve. No one should underestimate the difficulties ahead, nor should they overlook the advantages we bring to this fight."
Thousands upon thousands are suffering and dying in Iraq while, in Washington, incompetence continues its macabre marathon dance with incoherence.

In case anyone's been wondering...

I've been stuck in the Blog Blahs for a few days now. This isn't to say that I'm short on opinions (yeah, right), rather I've had little more than a smart-assed remark to make about recent events.

In short:

No, I'm not even a little surprised that Miers withdrew. I am, however, concerned that the next nominee will be far, far worse.

Libby: Screwed, Rove: TBD. I'm getting tired of the speculation at this point. Just make the fucking announcements already.

The flaws with electronic voting systems couldn't be any more clear. Anyone that thinks otherwise probably doesn't have the cognitive skills to handle voting to begin with.

Attention Target: You suck.

And on a personal note,

Today is the first sunny day in weeks. It's waaaay to early in the year to be battling off Seasonal Affective Disorder, but my primary inclination of late is to be like a bear and hibernate. Now, if I could just convince my two-year-old that this is a good idea, I'd be all set.

Many many years ago, a family member decided he'd had enough problems with his teeth, had them all pulled and replaced with a full set of dentures. I'm beginning to see the wisdom of that decision. I fear there's a root canal in my future. This does not bode well for someone whose fear of dental procedures mandates excessive novocaine just for cleanings. I may have to beg for general anesthetic. Or gas. Lots and lots of gas.

My wonderfully talented engineer husband, whose job requires him to travel, is on an extended trip away from home. He's due back sometime mid-November. The words to describe how much this sucks escape me.

Bitch whine moan kvetch.

Aren't you glad you stopped by?

I'll aim for more erudite commentary in future days. At the moment, however, this is as good as it gets.

I think we should demand that PayPal set up a booze-donation system. I'd surely appreciate any vodka you'd care to send my way.

Monday, October 24, 2005

"Niger/Uranium: FACTS Everyone NEEDS to Know"

I never took the kind of science classes that covered this material, and I'd venture to guess that some of you are in the same boat.

This is one of those V8 swilling, head-thwacking moments that make me very, very grateful for "citizen journalists".

The issue of whether Iraq sought to buy yellowcake from Niger is and has always been irrelevant. The White House -- Bush, Cheney, Rice, Hadley; the intelligence community -- Tenet and CIA, DOE, and the State Department; Valerie Plame, and Joe Wilson, have all understood this from day one. Plame herself called the idea "crazy."

What has been utterly misunderstood, misrepresented, and lost amid the babble of speculation and intrigue, is that Iraq didn't need yellowcake. They'd had a million pounds of it sitting around "in country" for over a decade, but with no viable means whatsoever of making it into nuclear weapons.

It is all about the cover-up.

Follow the link and get the rest. Todd does an incredible job of making a simple point about information that has been twisted and obfuscated and lost on far too many of us.

RIP Rosa

Imagine, for a moment, where this country would be if not for Rosa Parks.
Godspeed, m'lady.

Brushing Up on Plame [Updated]

[Update]: If you find yourself in the unfortunate position of discussing this case with a conservative so deeply in denial that his clearest rebuttal is "No one violated the IIPA", point them here. A very kind a patient soul has boiled the story down to its component parts, and has even included friendly little pictures to make it VERY easy to understand. Enjoy.

Think Progress has a great list of "Right Wing Myths" about the Plame leak available here.

Pay them a visit if you'd like to brush up a bit on the story thus far. Chances are the RW noise machine will kick back into high gear when Fitzgerald does what ever it is he'll do, and unless you've been a total Leak Junkie you may want some advance prep on the established spin.

'Cause, after all, you never know when the Bushie in the next cube will decide to "set you straight" on this story. Shudder.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Simply Shameful

The Coburn Amendment failed today.

This was a very simple proposal that would have redirected $454 million earmarked for Don Young's Vanity Bridge in Alaska to rebuilding efforts in Louisiana.

It's been argued (and rightfully so) that voting in favor of this amendment would potentially threaten each respective states' pork budgets, and consequently, the majority of Senators didn't have the balls to support it.

I don't know why I thought for a minute there, that this was something Republicans and Democrats alike could get behind. You know, a fundamentally simple way for our elected representatives to say "Screw unnecessary spending. Let's send this money where it can really do some good." Just imagine the brownie points they could've won with their constituents. Prove to the skeptical electorate that politicians aren't ALWAYS greedy fuckers without the compassion god gave a mosquito.

But noooooo. They couldn't bring themselves to do it. Just couldn't be bothered. 'Cause, you know, Utah might need a coastal development project, or Kansas might to want to replace their aging system of ski lifts or something.

The shockingly small list of Senators that voted in support are below.
George Allen (R-VA)
Richard Burr (R-NC)
Tom Coburn (R-OK)
Jim DeMint (R-SC)
John Ensign (R-NV)
Russ Feingold (D-WI)
Lindsey Graham (R-SC)
Chuck Hagel (R-NE)
Jon Kyl (R-AZ)
McCain (R-AZ)
Jeff Sessions (R-AL)
John Sununu (R-NH)
Jim Talent (R-MO)

If you live in these states, drop them a line and say thank you. Let them know you were paying attention and are glad to see they still have some integrity.

Then, shave $20 out of your next paycheck and make a Red Cross donation in Don Young's name. Let him, and all his other Hill buddies know that if they don't give a shit, you do.

Thanks to dKos and The Club for Growth for spreading the word.

She Has GOT To Be Kidding

I admit that it'll take quite a bit to convince me that Harriet Miers is anything other than a bible-thumping, ass-kissing sycophant (just to get my bias out of the way).

And I get all the usual "news alert" emails, including the links to petitions in which we're asked to plead with the Senate Judiciary Committee to thoroughly grill her on questions of Constitutional law, her coziness with the Bush administration, occasions in which recusal would be her only legitimate option, conflicts of interest and the like. Partisanship aside, I don't think Specter is evil incarnate and as much as I'm able to trust any politician, I have reason to believe he'll at least ask the right questions (whether or not the committee will settle for her answers is another story).

I also would have expected Miers to comply with requests for information and elaboration to the best of her ability -- after all, she's trying to get the gig, right?

However, if she thinks this is an appropriate response, she's either a complete twit that doesn't understand the gravity of this process, or she's battling Bush for the "Most Arrogant Schmuck on the Planet" award.

The Supreme Court nomination of Harriet E. Miers suffered another setback on Wednesday when the Republican and Democratic leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee asked her to resubmit parts of her judicial questionnaire, saying various members had found her responses "inadequate," "insufficient" and "insulting."

...Some of the new questions may be politically challenging for Ms. Miers and the White House. One inquiry in the original questionnaire pointedly asked her about reports that in conference calls with conservative supporters the administration and its allies had offered private assurances about her views on abortion and other matters.

The first part of the question asked if she had made any statement to anyone about how she might rule from the bench, and a second part requested information about "all communications by the Bush administration or individuals acting on behalf of the administration to any individuals or interest groups with respect to how you would rule."

Ms. Miers's one-word answer to both was "No."

"No"?!? That's her answer?!? Unbelievable. I'll bet you a dollar that she later explains this away with some half-assed claim that she just "missed" part B of the question. "Oops! My bad". If she does, that'll pretty much be the last nail in the coffin as far as I'm concerned. If her attention span can't handle the complexity of a Senate questionnaire, how, precisely, does she expect to keep up with the complexity and nuances of SCOTUS cases? Or is she expecting Cliffs Notes from Roberts? Translations by Scalia? After-school tutoring from Thomas?

Good god, woman. Pull your head out of your ass, will you please???

"Cheney 'Cabal' Hijacked US Foreign Policy"

All schadenfreude aside, this seems a little outside the "ordinary" criticisms of Bush at late.

Vice-President Dick Cheney and a handful of others had hijacked the government's foreign policy apparatus, deciding in secret to carry out policies that had left the US weaker and more isolated in the world, the top aide to former Secretary of State Colin Powell claimed on Wednesday.

In a scathing attack on the record of President George W. Bush, Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, chief of staff to Mr Powell until last January, said: "What I saw was a cabal between the vice-president of the United States, Richard Cheney, and the secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld, on critical issues that made decisions that the bureaucracy did not know were being made.

"“Now it is paying the consequences of making those decisions in secret, but far more telling to me is America is paying the consequences."

Col. Wilkerson isn't exactly an out-of-the-loop flunkie or another windbag blogger. I suppose it could be argued that in the grand scheme of things, he's not exactly a high-roller and therefore, may have lesser credibility than some, but I don't think that's the case.

Sure, we can all speculate about what Fitzgerald will do, and lace such hypotheses with spite and devilish glee over what may come down the pike in the next few weeks, but it's becoming increasingly clear: The climate in Washington is decidedly tumultuous. The administration's lock-down on dissent is crumbling, and people that heretofore held their tongues are starting to talk to anyone that'll listen.

Rumors of some fairly high-level assistants rolling over for Fitzgerald paired with comments like these in Financial Times means there's blood in the water and everyone can smell it.

I agree with Michael Reynolds: "This may finally be a scandal worthy of the 'gate' suffix."

Hat tip: idredit

Wednesday, October 19, 2005


[Update: You think my version was snarky? Get a load of this one.
Mr. Morford says what I meant, with far better wit.
Thanks to Geochick for the heads-up.]

Those of you familiar with my position on reproductive rights can safely assume that I, in no
way, advocate legal limitations on whether or not to have kids, or in what number.

I appreciate the appeal of a large family, I really do. I conjures up any number of Rockwellian images of a large brood surrounding the Thanksgiving table, bathed in golden light, smiling children, proud parents, let the circle be unbroken and all that.

Yes, yes, very well and good. And, if you're lucky enough to be financially able to support a large family, then more power to you. It's your equipment, do what you like with it.

That said, what the fuck possesses a couple to have sixteen children?!? Yes, you read that right. Sixteen. Not 7, not 12, but SIXTEEN.

Johannah Faith Duggar was born at 6:30 a.m. Tuesday and weighed 7 pounds, 6.5 ounces.

The baby's father, Jim Bob Duggar, a former state representative, said Wednesday that mother and child were doing well. Johannah's birth was especially exciting because it was the first time in eight years the family has had a girl, he said.

So, they wanted a girl so they just kept trying? No, no. Not quite that simple.

Jim Bob Duggar, 40, said he and Michelle, 39, want more children.

"We both just love children and we consider each a blessing from the Lord. I have asked Michelle if she wants more and she said yes, if the Lord wants to give us some she will accept them," he said in a telephone interview.

Um... That's not the Lord, sweetheart. It's biology. One of the wonderful things that sets humans apart from other animals is that we can control our reproduction! You know, like, we don't actually HAVE to have children just because our plumbing makes it possible.

And for that matter, if you're so dedicated to having a large family, how about ADOPTING? Do you have the slightest idea just how many kids there are in need of good homes? How overtaxed the foster care system is? How desperate social services are to find suitable, reliable care-givers?

I'm sorry, but I'm going to have to be the asshole here and suggest that in an increasingly crowded world, sixteen kids is narcissism run amok. Selfishness turned flesh. And a dreadfully sad kind of vanity.

Treason's Greetings

In case you haven't seen it, there's a hilarious thread over on dKos.

As expected, in anticipation of the Fitzgerald indictments, the lefty 'sphere has been as giddy as a kid at Christmas, or rather... Fitzmas.

As such, a whole host of Fitzmas Carols are being assembled and some of them are absolutely riotous. If you need a laugh, check it out.

Have fun!

Today's Must Read: "Reenergize America - A Democratic Blueprint"

Meteor Blades, Jerome a Paris and Devilstower have assembled a remarkably comprehensive proposal for a Democratic energy platform that must not be missed.

They're soliciting comments and feedback, so if this area is under your particular umbrella of expertise, it's expecially important to get involved in the discussion.

These guys are no slackers, and their work is to be commended. Anyone that suggests that the "common man" is unable to present workable solutions at the national policy level should be forced to commit this to memory.

Well done, guys. Well done.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

"How You Can Help"

Kudos to The Daily Granola for assembling a great list of things all of us can do, in varying degrees of complexity, to better care for the environment.

No, these aren't ground-breaking suggestions, but a handy list to reference and pass along to anyone you know that might need some ideas. Enjoy.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

From Shrieks of Protestation

In light of a few discussions lately, I would like to direct your attention to a quote I enjoy that is featured quite prominently on The Anonymous Liberal by Bertrand Russell:
"The essence of the Liberal outlook lies not in what opinions are held, but in how they are held: instead of being held dogmatically, they are held tentatively, and with a consciousness that new evidence may at any moment lead to their abandonment." -Bertrand Russell

I think that THIS speaks to aspects of the 'liberal' mindset that are criticized as being accommodating, flexible, dogmatically permissive... I truly think that a distinction needs to be made about the differences between free expression of opinion and judgement. Opinion is of course based on our experience and processing of available factual inputs. Judgement springs from the same well but is more inclusive of value determinations and reveals a response based on egocentric frames of reference.
When we on the left point out instances where words move beyond expression of opinion, we do not do so to suppress speech but rather to encourage a less rigid dialogue. I do think it is healthy to process what we observe against a backdrop of thoughtful and intelligent standards of evaluation, and to express those conclusions. But the conclusions need their backing, and when that backing is based on things like stereotypes, generalizations, assumptions, they reinforce what is inherently flawed reasoning from the get-go.


It's hard to imagine that any of you aren't already familiar, but just in case...

There's a glorious epiphany embracing the nation.
I, too, can humbly say that I have been touched by his noodly appendage.

Friday, October 14, 2005

"Find a Human"

This is too handy not to pass along:

Check this out: A list of codes which let you break through wretched phone-mail systems and speak directly to a human at a whole mess of big companies. Sweet. (Thanks to David Pogue.)

So Much for the Black Vote

From yesterday's WaPo:

In what may turn out to be one of the biggest free-falls in the history of presidential polling, President Bush's job-approval rating among African Americans has dropped to 2 percent, according to a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll.

When one has something in common with milk, it may be time to rethink one's goals.

Brilliant Obit

From the Chicago Tribune:

Theodore Roosevelt Heller, 88, loving father of Charles (Joann) Heller; dear brother of the late Sonya (the late Jack) Steinberg. Ted was discharged from the U.S. Army during WWII due to service related injuries, and then forced his way back into the Illinois National Guard insisting no one tells him when to serve his country. Graveside services Tuesday 11 a.m. at Waldheim Jewish Cemetery (Ziditshover section), 1700 S. Harlem Ave., Chicago. In lieu of flowers, please send acerbic letters to Republicans.

Hat tip: Six Degrees of Aaron

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Santorum Watch

It's a good time to plug a PA site as we gear up for 06- Santorum Watch
Value- added bonus: contributors list, where you'll find such weirdness as the HJ Heinz company's 5K mingled with the NRA, GE, GM, and MLB's respective contribution G's.
Follow the money on Accuweather and you will no doubt turn up some controversial dirt on public weather broadcasting. Follow the money to the stem cell issue, or nuclear energy...take some time to give it a look.

Kingmaker Crowns a Princess

Those of us on 'the left' are quite accustomed lately to the label "Theocratic Kingmaker" applied to the likes of Dobson, and this highlights yet another example of the inner machinery at work to cement his reputation. As many of us flipped through the talk show circuitry on Sunday, we knew a response to the mock stupefaction would be brought to bear this week -and we are getting our answers on puppet-du-jour Harriet in orchestrated drips.
I cannot help but recognize typical strategy: "you asshole liberals shortened the list with your feeding frenzy antics" -style blame from Mr. Dobson.
Our head scratching was wishful thinking. Direct your attention to Pennsylvania's own: Arlen Specter in a strange departure. I'd love to know what some of you think of that aspect.

Christian Leader Says He Was Told of Miers' Beliefs
By Maura Reynolds
The Los Angeles Times

Wednesday 12 October 2005

Washington - Before President Bush nominated White House Counsel Harriet E. Miers to the Supreme Court, his deputy chief of staff, Karl Rove, called influential Christian leader James C. Dobson to assure him that Miers was a conservative evangelical Christian, Dobson said in remarks scheduled for broadcast today on his national radio show.

In that conversation, which has been the subject of feverish speculation, Rove also told Dobson that one reason the president was passing over better-known conservatives was that many on the White House short list had asked not to be considered, Dobson said, according to an advance transcript of the broadcast provided by his organization, Focus on the Family.

Dobson said that the White House had decided to nominate a woman, which reduced the size of the list, and that several women on it had then bowed out.

"What Karl told me is that some of those individuals took themselves off that list and they would not allow their names to be considered, because the process has become so vicious and so vitriolic and so bitter that they didn't want to subject themselves or the members of their families to it," Dobson said, according to the transcript.

Dobson said that he and Rove did not discuss Roe vs. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that established a woman's right to end a pregnancy, or how Miers might judge abortion-related cases.

"I did not ask that question," Dobson said. "You know, to be honest, I would have loved to have known how Harriet Miers views Roe v. Wade. But even if Karl had known the answer to that - and I'm certain that he didn't, because the president himself said he didn't know - Karl would not have told me that. That's the most incendiary information that's out there, and it was never part of our discussion."

In conference calls to other conservatives last week, Dobson had mentioned that he and Rove had talked privately before the Oct. 3 nomination, leading to speculation that he had been provided assurances about Miers' views and convictions.

In recent days, Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, had said that he would consider issuing a subpoena for Dobson to appear before the committee to discuss those assurances.

In his radio broadcast, Dobson said that though the information Rove provided on Miers was private at the time of the conference calls, it has since been reported from other sources and that Rove had agreed he could share it publicly.

According to Dobson, that information included "that Harriet Miers is an evangelical Christian; that she is from a very conservative church, which is almost universally pro-life; that she had taken on the American Bar Assn. on the issue of abortion and fought for a policy that would not be supportive of abortion; [and] that she had been a member of the Texas Right to Life."

Miers' personal views on abortion have been the focus of much concern on the right and the left. As president of the Texas Bar Assn., she contended that local chapters should be allowed a voice in American Bar Assn. positions on national controversies such as abortion, but she did not say whether she was personally against abortion rights.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Say More Than Boo! This Halloween?

Those of you inclined toward candidate placards & bumper stickers may like this idea.

If you're a PA resident and support Dr. Pennacchio (as any sane person should, I might add), instructions for pulling off this nifty trick can be found here.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Rocky Mountain High

I lived in Colorado for a couple of years in the late 80s, and in a fit of insanity, moved back to Los Angeles because I missed friends and family desperately. What made this decision particularly questionable is the fact that the Rocky Mountains are the very definition of stunning beauty. My ex and I lived in a cute little house perched up at 8500' in the foothills west of Boulder, arguably one of the greatest cities on the planet (well, it is if you love hippies, anyway). I hadn't been back since, and while I expected that the Denver metro area had grown considerably since then, I had no real idea until we climbed into the rental and drove out of the airport parking lot.

Oh. My. God. If you can imagine Denver as the center of a circle, and a single mile-deep "layer" of suburbs surrounding it, you'd have a good picture of what was in my memory circa 1989. Once you got just a little ways outside of the city center, there wasn't a whole lot there. Lots of empty space peppered with farms and ranches of no especially discernable activity. Heading west, there wasn't much of anything between Denver and Boulder either. Mountains to the west, and miles & miles of prairie to the east. I remember making a point of taking along a good CD for the drive out to Boulder, since without it, the ride was rather nap inducing.

Not anymore. The 30 some-odd miles between the foothills and the airport is a solid mass of homes and businesses. Malls, office parks, houses, condos, small retailers, large manufacturing plants, freeways, and a metro line mid-installation. Everywhere we looked there was something new being built. I saw more cranes in 4 days than I have in 4 years.

And since everything is so new, everything is also very clean, very tidy, and frankly, pretty nice as suburbs go. And the city planners have apparently put some actual thought (!) into little details. The concrete walls wrapping the freeways are embossed with designs (birds, foliage, etc). Hell, even some of the overpasses were artfully designed (yes, *overpasses*). The architecture is pleasing to the eye, with color schemes that actually compliment the surrounding topography. And there are many "open space" areas, designated as such, so while it's undeniably developed, there's been a concerted effort not to cram every square mile with concrete and pavement. Denver to Boulder is no longer separated by empty fields. In fact, there's barely a mile left open between the two cities. Broomfield used to be little more than a wide spot in the road between the two towns, but now it's absolutely bursting with business parks, malls and housing tracts.

It's as if I'd never been there at all. Hell, if it weren't for the mountains, I may not have believed I was in Denver. Don't get me wrong, though -- despite the massive growth, it's still a nice place. The people we encountered were still the same relaxed, friendly folk that were always there, and I was happy to see that the area hadn't taken on the kind of creeping hostility that is typically found in crowded areas.

We drove up to the old house in the foothills on Friday, and I was pleased to see that the growth hadn't made it up there yet. Our road was unpaved then, and it remains so today. Up there, above the smog layer (a tragic function of the meeting of industry and mountains) the air is crisp and clear, the breezes sweet and invigorating. One of the things I miss most living in PA are the evergreens, and they're one of my very favorite part of the Rockies. They carpet the mountains where ever there is soil, and the stunning combination of trees and huge rocky outcroppings is more beautiful than I have the ability to describe. I swear, it's like heaven.

I like to think that someday we'll be in a position to buy a little summer home nestled deep in those foothills, far down a winding road, deep in the thicket. Part of my heart will always be there, no matter where we live. It was hard not to wonder what my life would have turned out like had I not chosen to leave, but when all roads lead to my spectacular husband and miraculous son, it's a train of thought easily dismissed. Still, standing in the shadows of those mountains and breathing that clean, cool breeze, it was hard not to wish for a parallel life or a winning lottery ticket.

The Bitch Is Back

Good morning, loyal readers.
I've returned from our weekend sojourn, and after 4 days away from most news, I'm catching up and trying to get the addled brain in gear.

While I'm generously applying the WD40, I invite you to have a read through Michael Reynolds' Why I Won't Drop It for an excellent reminder of why the gay marriage issue is important to all of us, orientation aside. I submit that anyone missing the points he makes is probably not bright enough to be voting to begin with.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Neo-Creationism Wears an ID Tag

Came across this...

"Book Thrown at Proponents of Intelligent Design"

13:01 06 October 2005 news service
Celeste Biever

"Devastating" early drafts of a controversial book recommended as reading at a US high school reveal how the word "creationism" had been later swapped for "intelligent design", a landmark US trial scrutinising the teaching of ID heard on Wednesday.

The early drafts of the book Of Pandas and People , were used as evidence to link the book to creationism, which it is illegal to teach in government-funded US schools.

"ID proponents have said for years that they are not creationists," says Nick Matzke of the National Center for Science Education in Oakland, California, which is advising 11 parents who are suing the school board of Dover High School in Pennsylvania for incorporating ID into the science curriculum. "This proves beyond a doubt that this is simply a new name for creationism."

ID proposes that life is so complex that it cannot have emerged without the guidance of an intelligent designer. The school's board voted in November 2004 to encourage students to consider ID as an alternative to evolution and recommended Of Pandas and People .

The parents claim this is a veiled attempt to bring creationism into the school. They are suing on the grounds that it has been ruled unconstitutional to teach anything in US schools that does not have a primarily secular motive and effect on pupils.

Trojan horse

The early versions of the book were displayed to the court by expert witness for the plaintiffs and creationist historian Barbara Forrest of the Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond. She suggested that they were strong proof that ID is indeed creationism by another name.

Forrest compared early drafts of Of Pandas and People to a later 1987 copy, and showed how in several instances the word "creationism" had been replaced by "intelligent design", and "creationist" simply replaced by "intelligent design proponent".

"Forrest's testimony showed that ID is not a scientific theory, but a Trojan horse for creationism," said Eric Rothshild of Pepper Hamilton in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, an attorney for the plaintiffs.

Evolving drafts

Matzke, who was at the trial, points out that the "switching" of the words is also suspicious because of its timing, which came just after the US Supreme Court's decision on 19 June 1987 that it was unconstitutional to teach creationism in schools.

The names of the drafts alone are incriminating, he says. The first draft, in 1983, was called Creation Biology , the next is Biology and Creation , dated 1986, and is followed by Biology and Origin in 1987. It is not until later in 1987 that Of Pandas and People emerges.

His comments infuriated John West, of the Discovery Institute, a think tank based in Seattle, Washington, that supports ID, but which has declined to testify on behalf of the defence in the trial.

West says that Forrest, author of a book called Creationism's Trojan Horse: The wedge of intelligent design has used the drafts selectively and "cherry picked" the pages shown.

Attempts to discredit Forrest as a witness, by the defence lawyers from the Thomas More Law Center, in Ann Arbor, Michigan were not upheld by the judge.

Misconstrued creationism

West says that Of Pandas and People , while supporting ID, does not promote religion but rather leaves open the question of whether an intelligent designer lies within nature, or outside it. But he admits that the book states: "This is not a question that science can answer."

He says that while the timing of the changes in the drafts may not be a coincidence, this does not mean Of Pandas and People is a religious book. "If they did drop out the term creationism, [it is] because people may have misconstrued it," he says.

Forrest will continue to be cross-examined by the defence's attorneys on Thursday. A full report on the trial at its completion will appear in New Scientist print edition.


Thursday, October 06, 2005


To honor our vacationing bitch, this week I offer Bitchfest.
I thought I'd return to the issue I threw out in an earlier thread where I asked anyone if they'd seen the post over at Bitch PhD regarding 'requirements' for assisted reproduction. Check it out here
Today Dr. B has an even better post, on the issue of breastfeeding --but it goes beyond. Now I am a mother and this issue is very dear to my heart, as is the conversation on what it means to be a feminist. here's an excerpt from Bitch PhD:
I think the breastfeeding / feminism analogy is a pretty good one. Just as the point of feminism isn't (and shouldn't be) to interrogate or judge individual women's lives, the point of breastfeeding advocacy shouldn't be (although, regrettably, it sometimes is) to judge and interrogate the decisions of individual mothers. What both should seek to do is change the public culture: to create a "pro-breastfeeding" culture, or a "pro-women" culture that supports and enables breastfeeding or, say, women's public achievement and/or paid work, while also recognizing that there may be women who can't or won't or choose not to work for reasons of their own, and mothers who can't or won't or choose not to breastfeed for reasons of their own.

I think that the reason that the breastfeeding debate is so fraught--like every other blessed mommy debate: stay-at-home vs. work; part-time work vs. full-time work; public schooling vs. private schooling vs. home schooling vs. unschooling; city life vs. suburban life vs. rural life; straight families vs. gay families; two-parent homes vs. single-parent homes; marriage vs. cohabitation; and on and on and for god's sake on and on some more--boils down to the central problem of feminism. When it comes to people in general--and especially when it comes to women, and especially when it comes to mothers--we not only find it difficult to differentiate between the big and the small....

Many of us have been whining for a while that we feel our choices are judged on either side- and often the woman who chooses not to breastfeed is viewed as vain, self absorbed, and dismissive of the health benefits. In a similar way, many women who choose to work versus those who don't in some circles are viewed as choosing materialism and suburbia and the trappings over actively parenting their tots- Again- these amount to generalizations and simplistic judgements that offer little to the discussion of choice which is paramount, and a culture of choice does not define the feminist narrowly, nor does it define how that manifests itself in personal choice. I am just happy to see somebody pointing these things the rest... mull it over. Great stuff.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

I'm Leaving On A Jet Plane

I lived briefly in Colorado and loved it. And I've discovered that it's impossible to make the runway approach without humming a few bars from everyone's favorite granny-spec wearing granola boy, John Denver.

Fortunately, I have the occasion to visit again on the happy occasion of a dear friend's nuptials. The entire Bitch clan leaves early tomorrow, so you'll be without my services until Monday. I realize that for some of you, this news comes as great sorrow, but worry not, my darlings. The kind folks on my blog roll will surely provide rich and thought-provoking distractions while you wish away the hours 'til my return.

In the meantime, something of note in case you were unaware:
Oregon's assisted suicide law is being debated in the Supreme Court. I find this issue to be among the many instances of cognitive dissonance in the right wing's philosophy. Oregon's voters approved the measure on two occasions, only to be challenged by the federal government. So much for that whole "states' rights" argument, eh?

Tuesday, October 04, 2005


Main Entry: qual·i·fied
Pronunciation: 'kw
Function: adjective
1 a : fitted (as by training or experience) for a given purpose : COMPETENT b :: ELIGIBLE
2 : limited or modified in some way
- qual·i·fied·ly /-"fI(-&)d-lE/ adverb
having complied with the specific requirements or precedent conditions (as for an office or employment)

My principle reaction to the Miers nomination was "Huh?"

I thought perhaps I was simply behind the curve on the who's who in Sycophant Circle, as shamefully, is closer to my usual than I typically care to admit publicly. So, I made the obligatory visits to the Wiki, caught up on the MSM chatter and still, was left with "Hm" as my overriding response. As has been pointed out by those more in touch than I've been in recent days, it appears that much of the right is also afflicted with a common befuddled head-scratching.

As such, during a moment of peace in my toddler-wrangling day, I have to step back and wonder if this nomination doesn't pretty much crystallize Bush's apparent trouble with understanding the concept of "qualified".

As if we needed another reminder, right? As if "Brownie" wasn't ample demonstration enough. The evidence of cronyism within the administration has been commented on at length, and my point isn't to retread the issue here. Rather, it is to wonder aloud about the basic mechanics of judgment.

I don't believe that Roberts was Bush's idea. Roberts is a product of the entire inner circle, of the GOP machine. I say this because, cynically, I've no real reason to believe Bush is truly able to understand why Roberts is as intelligent and competent as he apparently is. My ideological reservations about the man aside, I'll be among the last people around that question his qualifications as a judge. Ergo, Bush simply isn't clever enough to have thunk it up himself.

Conversely, however, when evidently left to his own devices, we're presented with Harriet Miers. A woman who has a perfectly fine list of accomplishments to show for her career, a woman whose professional life is worthy of respect (at least in terms of status achieved), and a woman who appears to have at best, minimal qualifications for the post to which she's been nominated.

It does not necessarily follow that a lawyer will make a suitable Justice. That both occupations require familiarity with the law makes them siblings at best. I wouldn't expect my cable guy to be hired on at Mission Control. I wouldn't expect a 3rd grade teacher to sit at the head of the DOE. And I wouldn't expect the local mechanic to keep up in a NASCAR pit. Is Bush really going to stand there and suggest that we're being unreasonable to expect that his SCOTUS nominee have some real-world experience being, you know, a judge? Then again, I don't know what we should expect, really, from someone whose level of qualification for his own job is equally vague.

And this is where I part company with Senator Obama in his much-discussed Sept. 30 missive.

In such circumstances, attacks on Pat Leahy, Russ Feingold and the other Democrats who, after careful consideration, voted for Roberts make no sense. Russ Feingold, the only Democrat to vote not only against war in Iraq but also against the Patriot Act, doesn't become complicit in the erosion of civil liberties simply because he chooses to abide by a deeply held and legitimate view that a President, having won a popular election, is entitled to some benefit of the doubt when it comes to judicial appointments. Like it or not, that view has pretty strong support in the Constitution's design.

While I take his point and agree, at least in theory, that the Office of President deserves the benefit of the doubt, this President does not. He has proven, repeatedly, that he puts personal interest and ambition before national concerns, and consequently, is no longer entitled to such a privilege. The good faith of the American public is not so elastic as to ignore, forgive or dismiss assault after bloody assault on its resilience. To expect otherwise goes to confirm that this administration is hopelessly out of touch with reality, and sociopathically alien to basic introspection.

I almost feel bad for Ms. Miers. She'll be dragged through the mud throughout the hearings, by the looks of it from both sides of the aisle, even. Then again, given her status in Bush's inner circle, I figure either she's arrogant enough to believe she'll come out all shiny & pretty or she's as tragically disconnected as her boss.

Maybe that makes her the worst kind of patsy -- the willing kind. Coming up on the end 0f her career, she figures, "What the hell? I'll take one for the team, since I owe it to li'l Sparky there."

Hardly the motivation I want under the robes of a Supreme Court Justice.