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March 31, 2004
Letterman Update

Atrios reports that Letterman tonight said that "his sources" say that the White House did indeed contact CNN to say the video of the antsy teenager was a fake.

CNN should be ashamed, and should apologize profusely, for running with that statement without checking it. This is one of the largest news organizations in the world, the least they could do is try to find a tape of that speech. Every speech the president makes is taped, I'm sure they could dig one up.

What's more shocking is how they spun when it was clear they White House was making it up. They could keep a shred of credibility by coming on and saying, "The White House told us this. It was a lie. We're sorry we didn't check it, but we're more sorry, for everyone, that the White House lied."

Again, the most incredible thing about this is that they (the WH), would even bother.

It's like a reflex:
"President criticized! Deny it ever happened! Quick! Now!"
"Uhh, but there's lots of proof that it did happen."
"na na na na na na.. i can't hear you... na na na na Bush is good Bush is good Bush is good.. na na na na na"

Good to have "the grownups in charge," huh?

Dave Letterman, Enemy of the State

This is just ridiculous. It's very funny, but let's not let that distract us from how awful it is.

The story:
On Monday, Letterman showed a hilarious clip of the president giving a speech in Florida during which a kid in a baseball cap was standing behind him, bored to tears. The speech goes on and the kid is SO bored. He yawns like 5 times, stretches his neck, looks at his watch, does a low bend at the waist, and just generally appears beside himself with ennui. Who can blame him?

Letterman showed this under the title "George W. Bush Invigorating America's Youth." Big laughs, it was great. No big deal.

Then they show the clip on CNN, and the anchor says, "We're being told by the White House that the kid, as funny as he was, was edited into that video."

Later, a different anchor showed the clip and said, "OK, we're told that that kid was there at that event, but not necessarily standing behind the president."

Last night, Dave showed these two clips and said, "That, ladies and gentlemen, is a 100% lie. The kid was exactly as we showed him."

There are two possibilities here, and both of them are outrageous.
1) The White House is calling CNN and directly feeding them flat-out lies, which they are then running without checking. Or...
2) Two different CNN anchors made a "mistake" and accidentally just made up that White House thing out of the clear blue sky. This is apparently what CNN is saying.

Obviously #2 is a load of crap. Nobody makes a "mistake" like that, citing the White House as a source.

"Oh, I'm sorry, what I meant to say was, 'We're NOT being told by the White House that this video was edited.' Did I say we were being told? My bad."

That only leaves explanation #1, which is absurd and terrifying.

Why would they say anything at all about something like that? I suppose they're defending the president's ability to engage 14-year-olds for a full hour? There was no political damage being done here, and yet they still feel the need to deny, deny, deny! It seems obvious that this could easily be checked. What the hell is the matter with these people?

Send in the guys in the white coats, it's time for somebody to be committed.

Overspun has the video. Check it out.

What, No Phone Number?
Dear Anthony,

I wanted to write and thank you again for your generous contribution to my campaign. While I am certain you are asked to give to many causes, your commitment to my campaign and to the larger political process is humbling and much appreciated.

Your support remains crucial to my efforts and I trust that I can count on your continued friendship and counsel.

Once again, thank you for your support.

Warm regards,
John F. Kerry

I like that he wants my counsel. I got lots of ideas. Like: How come we can't get no Tang around here?

Seriously, though, please donate to John Kerry's campaign. Sad as it may seem, money has a lot to do with this thing. It's very important. $10 is good, $2000 is good. Anything is good.

So far, I've raised $75 through my link to the Kerry Campaign. Atrios, by comparison, has raised $110,000. Wow.

Check out Fund Race, a great way to get a look at where the money comes from. Type in your address and see who your neighbors support! Then go harass them!

An interesting note:
I put in my address (we live in a pretty liberal neighborhood in a very liberal city in a very liberal state), and did some math on the first page of listings.

The average donation to Bush was $1195.45.
The average donation to Democratic candidates was $448.56.
Of the eight $2000 contributions (the legal limit), 2 were for Democrats, and both of those were for Lieberman. You can draw your own conclusions from that last.

To me, it means that the Democrats are the party of regular people; people who can't spare $2000, but care enough -- and are scared enough -- to give one or two hundred.

UPDATE: "LogicAndWisdom" points out in comments that this is a faulty comparison, as the Republicans didn't have a primary to speak of, and it is logical to assume that Democratic contributions will rise now that there is a (presumptive) nominee. So, in the best traditions of our country, I'm backing off my previous statements.


I'm convinced that William Hung is one.

He probably had this whole thing set up. Go on American Idol, act like a total ass, become rich and famous. Easy as that.

Wish I had thought of it.

Koppel Lays It Out

Ted Koppel neatly sums things up in his opening remarks tonight. Unfortunately I can't find a transcript or a video or anything, but here's what he said:

The truth is already out there for anyone to see. It's been dribbling out in bits and pieces for months. It's not that president Bush and his top advisors didn't take the threat of terrorism seriously before 9/11, they were just obsessed with Iraq. Their own people have been testifying to that reality for months.

[lists those people -- O'Neill, Beers, Clarke]

You couldn't get the Bush administration to focus on terrorism before 9/11 because it was determined to make the case for war against Iraq.

And after 9/11?

Iraq and its weapons of mass destruction were presented as if it would become the supply depot for terrorists around the world.

The thing is, it wasn't a matter of deception. There are members of the Bush administration who still believe all of that to this very day. But the issue is doomed to remain a political football.

I basically agree with Ted here, though I'm not quite as sure it wasn't a matter of deception. I agree that some of those people did, and still do, believe what they were saying, but some of them knew better and on the whole, there was some deception going on. At the very least the deception of omission.

The story then shifted to Condi and her new found desire -- I'm sorry, her authorization -- to testify under oath. A brilliant little segment showed her giving her talking points last week, cutting between at least 5 different TV appearances, without even the slightest break in her sentence. How can we possibly trust people who just go around and say the same thing, word for word to everyone, no matter what the question? It's like being governed by robots. (Again, I'm looking for a clip of this)

The whole show was good, if nothing new. The sad thing continues to be that this administration maintains any popularity at all. The list of things they've said -- serious, important things -- that have turned out to be completely false is staggering, and yet many Americans just don't seem to care. The partisan rancor has gotten so fierce that everything is dismissed by the average person, even the truth. And they keep the same position they had yesterday. Or worse, their resolve is strengthened because they feel like their side is being accused of terrible things.

The problem is that they've actually done terrible things.

Air America

Air America Radio launches tomorrow in 5 cities. You can listen on the web here.

I'm glad I finally found the site. Unfortunately, the site isn't coming on a google search. Bizarrely, the first hit that does come up is Central Air Media, which is clearly affiliated with Air America, but provides no link to the real site. For a while I thought that was it, that was the site, and I was very sad.

I'm still sad, though, that no one bothered to check their Google rank before they launched. The vast majority of people looking for the site are going to use Google, and they'll all be lost. They could at least have bought an ad, if they couldn't control the ranking.

That is where we come in, you and me. It's time for a Googlebomb. If you have a website, please put a link to http://www.airamericaradio.com and use the text Air America. Like this: Air America. If it spreads enough, the results will reflect it. (It works.. check this out -- Google "Miserable Failure")

The network is only in 5 cities over the air. If no one can find the site online, no one will listen. Dooooooooo it.

March 30, 2004
You Spin Me Right Round

So, again when the political pressure got to be too much, the White House reverses its position on a critical issue. They now say that Rice will testify, in public and under oath, before the 9/11 Commission, perhaps next week. It's great news in a sense, but of course they're not being criticized nearly enough for stonewalling for so long, or for acting like it was their idea all along.

In the president's speech today, he didn't even hint at the real reasons they've made this change, because they had no other choice and it was starting to look bad. Instead, he acted like his only interest is in giving the commission all the cooperation it needs in every way possible. Recall that he initially opposed even creating this commission in the first place. The policy with this administration seems to be to refuse to do anything until they have to. The public interest never enters the equation, it's all politics.

I've ordered this level of cooperation because I consider it necessary to gaining a complete picture of the months and years that preceded the murder of our fellow citizens on September 11, 2001.


What horseshit.

It's good that they are now cooperating, but it's outrageous the way they act like they've been playing nice all along.

This playing of politics with absolutely everything, regardless of the interest of the people, is remarkable for its openness. They don't even try to hide it anymore. Read this, from the end of a story about the political fight over gas prices tonight on NBC News. The context is John Kerry's proposal to open the Strategic Oil Reserves temporarily in order to lower prices.

Reporter: "Bush advisors argue that when President Clinton opened up the reserve, prices dropped just a penny. What's more, they say the real issue is not gas prices in March, but in November."

They don't even pretend to care whether Americans care about gas prices, or what benefit or harm their policies on the issue may cause. They just want to work it into a favorable position come November.

Remember when politicians were secretive about how they were screwing you?

Mod Rewritten

Problem solved, thanks to Noah. As I suspected, it was pretty simple. This should cut down on 404s significantly. And now I know a little about mod_rewrite. Joy.

As promised, here's the goat, nootch:


Mod Rewrite Help

Alright then, here are the things I need mod_rewrite to do... I don't have time today to learn it, yet it consumes my thoughts, so maybe someone with better regex mojo than me can whip these up. There are probably more cases, but this is what I've thought of as likely..

slapnose.com/blogarchives/2004/03/000331.html --> /archives/2004/03/
slapnose.com/blogarchives/2004_09.html --> /archives/2004/09/
slapnose.com/blogarchives/2004_09.html#xxxxxx --> /archives/2004/09/

(Ideally these just point to the directory, as above, but index.html could be appended if necessary)

So, basically, if a link points to an old individual archive (1st example), it should just go to that month's monthly archive. This won't get the specific post, but it's close enough (unless someone can think of a way to get to the individual post). The second example would be a link to an old monthly archive, and the third to an old PermaLink (a monthly archive with an entry ID anchor).

Everything is now under /archives and then Year/Month/Day, but we can ignore the day level for this purpose.

So how about it, smarties? A challenge is issued! A shiny new goat to whosoever can provide the solution.

Future-Proofing Slapnose

Warning: Geeky Crap Ahead

I was pointed to Justin Blanton's little tip for future-proofing URIs by Simple Bits.

Since I'd recently changed my archiving to individual archives (bet you didn't even notice), it wasn't a big deal to make some more changes, and now I've done it.

The basic gist is that Moveable Type assigns an internal ID to each post, and by default names the individual files, as well as the anchor tags for other types of archives, with this ID. This is a problem because if you change web hosts, for example, or for any other reason have to reimport your entries, these IDs are not preserved and all your links will go bad. Ick.

Justin's technique is to make each entry the index of a directory named with the entry's title. There's some little regex trick in there using a plugin from Brad Choate (that guy has lots of useful thingies) to remove the file name from links, and it all works great. I switched all of my archives -- individual, monthly and category -- to this technique.

(Category archives are still unlinked until I nail down what categories I want to have. It's harder than it sounds. I keep getting too specific.)

All of these changes may actually create some more broken links out there in the short term, but in the long run they should decrease and I won't have to go nuts if/when I reinstall, switch to PHP extensions, or whatever. And to take care of the potential increase in errors, I've upgraded my 404 page to a "smart 404 page" courtesy of A List Apart.

The down side is that if you know you have links to specific posts here, they're surely broken now. I apologize for that, but it had to happen. If I knew how to use mod-rewrite, I'd do something about it. As it is, I'll just ask that you update the links if possible.

What else... Oh, naturally I'm working on another redesign, should be ready pretty soon. It expands and simplifies the ideas from my last one, and hopefully will bring all the pages together. And they say I don't have a job.

The Truth

The refusal on the part of the administration to just come out and tell the truth is starting to become surreal. It seems fairly pathological. In many cases -- the present hooha about Richard Clarke and what happened leading up to 9/11 is a great example -- they would probably do a lot better if they were just a little bit forthright.

Either they just reflexively bullshit, or they have something bigger to hide, that's how it seems to me.

On 9/11, why can't they just face it? No one is saying that George Bush was responsible for the attacks, just that, in retrospect, there may have been more that they could have done. The idea is to prevent it from happening again; to see what went wrong and what went right; how our intelligence system and it's reporting failed to detect and thwart such a huge plot.

Hindsight is always 20/20, and it's easy to look back and say, "Well, if we had only had one more meeting, this never would have happened." No one can say. Maybe this particular attack could have been averted, but surely there would have been another one. As they say, the terrorists only have to get away with it once; we have to stop them every time. The odds are decidedly in their favor for carrying out some kind of attack.

I think the American people would be understanding, and even grateful, if our leaders stepped up and said they were sorry. If they said they hadn't been looking closely enough, they missed some warning signs. What we want to hear is not who is to blame, but what has been done to make it far less likely to ever happen again.

But they won't do any of this. They never admit anything, ever. No decision was a bad decision, nothing was overlooked, everything was taken exactly as seriously as it should have been, and if it wasn't, it was Clinton's fault.

The New York Times had an article on Sunday about our complete unwillingness to take responsibility for our actions, particularly our politicians, but the rest of us too.

The feeling I'm left with when they continue to deny deny deny is that they have something bigger to hide. If and when the truth does comes out, maybe we'll see that they were told quite clearly of a serious threat and they didn't act. Maybe they dragged their feet, and it wasn't just a matter of "well, how could we have known," but they did know, and they just didn't believe it would happen. Maybe they did focus immediately on Iraq, and maybe they know damn well that the war in Iraq has not only done nothing to fight terrorism, but quite the opposite; it has inspired it.

Yesterday, after a week of saying that they had no knowledge of Richard Clarke ever meeting with the president in the situation room on September 12, they reversed themselves and said the meeting did happen. This was mentioned in the 60 Minutes interview with Condi Rice. Why, though, did Ed Bradley not ask her, "Dr. Rice, how do you explain the change in your story over the course of a week? You're accusing Clarke of inconsistencies, this is a flat-out lie."

Selective Declassifying

I saw this on the news yesterday, and Josh Marshall has reported it too.

U.S. officials told NBC News that the full record of Clarke?s testimony two years ago would not be declassified. They said that at the request of the White House, however, the CIA was going through the transcript to see what could be declassified, with an eye toward pointing out contradictions.


Does anything sound wrong about that to you? It struck me as a bit freakin' outrageous.

This is blatantly using the CIA to find evidence that will help the White House's case against Clarke. If the evidence is there, fine, get it, but get it all, so we can have context. As Clarke has requested, just release it all. Because then, you know, maybe we would know the truth.

Josh also rightly points out that the most amazing thing about that line is that they're not even hiding the fact that they're using the CIA for political ends. It's like they believe that the entirety of the government's resources exist solely to benefit George Bush and his friends, and anything, or anyone, found to be inconvenient will not be discussed.


March 29, 2004
A Tear

The Sloganator lives on, if only in our memories...

Watch movie.

.. sniff ..

Pass the Fat Pipe

In a bold new policy move, president Bush has called for universal broadband access by 2007.

"We ought to have universal, affordable access to broadband technology by the year 2007," Bush said. "And then we ought to make sure as soon as possible thereafter consumers have plenty of choices."

"It's important that we stay on the cutting edge of technological change, and one way to do so is to have a bold plan for broadband," he said. Bush did not elaborate on how he would accomplish the 2007 goal.


I guess we'll start working on this noble goal right after we tackle the harrowing steroids in professional sports problem he mentioned in the State of the Union speech.

Kevin Drum rightly points out that this goal, while a good one in theory, is completely ridiculous in such a timeframe. Obviously, they wanted a date that would fall within a possible (please please no) second Bush term, so they just throw out 2007, ignoring or not bothering to look for any clue as to whether that is remotely possible.

I know we have something of a tradition of setting bold goals to spur industry and the market. Some may like to compare it to Kennedy's scaring the shit out of NASA by saying they would get to the moon within the decade. But seriously, even a moonshot is simple compared to wiring the entire country for broadband in 3 years.

March 28, 2004
The Sunday Funnies

In a new tradition I'm starting right now, a tradition sure to spread far and wide within this particular blog, on Sundays I'm going to throw up one or two favorite political cartoons from the previous week.

Today's cartoons are both by Tom Toles of the Washington Post, a man whose ability to sum up the issues I rant and rave about it for pages with a few drawings and well-chosen phrases is truly remarkable.

tom toles condi cartoon

tom toles bush the kid cartoon


March 26, 2004
Declassify This

Josh Marshall and Kevin Drum have the story on Republicans seeking to declassify Richard Clarke's documents in order to find contradictions with his current testimony.

More on this later.

Done Sprained My Elbitty Bone

I think I hyper extended my elbow violently giving Bill Frist the finger as he appeared on Nightline last night. (Transcript)

The story was about the Medicare bill, and a laundry list of unethical, and possibly illegal practices employed by the Republicans to ensure the bill's passage. It was really a sad, infuriating report.

There was a lot of detail about how Medicare actuary Richard Foster, whose job it was to calculate the costs of the legislation, was threatened with the loss of his job if he disclosed the true figures before the vote.

Also explored were the charges that Representative Nick Smith (R, Mich), who is retiring this year, was first offered money and endorsements from top party leaders for his son, who is running to replace him, and then threatened with the sabotage of his son's campaign when he refused. Smith has since backed off of some of these charges (I wonder why), though the House Ethics Committee is still pursuing an investigation.

Also being investigated is the White House's "news release" featuring the now infamous Karen Ryan.

And there's still more, like the unprecedented step of keeping the "15 minute" vote open for over 3 hours so Republican leadership could strong-arm representatives to change their votes (when the vote was scheduled to close the nays had it).

But what really got my finger-giving arm injured was this statement by House Majority Leader and Spawn of the Devil Bill Frist (R, Tenn) -- "These estimates are just that. They're guesstimates, to my mind. Nobody knows, and nobody will know, what this bill is going to ultimately cost."

That's not the point, you son of a bitch, and you damn well know it. The point is that you HAD IN HAND (or would have if party pressure and threats had not served to keep them under wraps) much higher estimates, and you, or those who do your evil bidding, deliberately hid those estimates from the American people. Asshole.

What was most important about this piece (full transcript here) was the bipartisan criticism. In fact, much of it came from Republicans like Senator Chuck Hagel (R - Neb), Rep. Pat Toomey (R - Pa), and even analysts at the conservative Heritage Foundation and American Enterprise Institute.

I'm starting to have a feeling that when all the smoke of this administration clears, some people are going to be in jail, and it makes me positively giddy just to think about it.

Sinking to New Depths

They really do their best to live up to their reputations, don't they?

It seems that several ranting righties are now suggesting that Richard Clarke is a racist because he doesn't like Condoleezza Rice. Well, shit, if that's all it takes to be a racist, I guess I'm a really serious racist bastard, too.

Via Josh Marshall...

ROBERT NOVAK: Congressman, do you believe, you're a sophisticated guy, do you believe watching these hearings that Dick Clarke has a problem with this African-American woman Condoleezza Rice?

RAHM EMANUEL: Say that again?

ROBERT NOVAK: Do you believe that Dick Clarke has a problem with this African-American woman Condoleezza Rice?

RAHM EMANUEL: No, no. Bob, give me a break. No. No.


And then a gem from the inimitable Ann Coulter:

Isn't that just like a liberal? The chair-warmer describes Bush as a cowboy and Rumsfeld as his gunslinger -- but the black chick is a dummy. Maybe even as dumb as Clarence Thomas! Perhaps someday liberals could map out the relative intelligence of various black government officials for us.

Did Clarke have the vaguest notion of Rice's background and education? Or did he think Dr. Rice was cleaning the Old Executive Office Building at night before the president chose her -- not him -- to be national security adviser? If a Republican ever claimed the "facial expression" on Maxine Waters -- a woman whose face is no stranger to confusion or befuddlement -- left the "impression" that she didn't understand quantum physics, he'd be in prison for committing a hate crime.


Ewwwww. I feel dirty for having typed her name.

March 25, 2004
Les Mots Justes

The Daily Show hits it right on the head, as usual.

Rob Corddry: "Our national security depends on the perception that we have excellent national security."

Condi the Quitter?

This is weird:

From the New York Times...

WASHINGTON, March 25 - The White House may have sent a phalanx of top officials to Capitol Hill this week to be grilled by the Sept. 11 panel, but the one official who did not appear publicly has turned out to be the official the panel wanted most: Condoleezza Rice.

As she prepares to leave her job at the end of the year, Ms. Rice, the president's national security adviser, now finds herself at the center of a political storm, furiously defending both the White House and her own reputation.


Whhhhhhhuu.. whh... whaaaaaaaah? "As she prepares to leave her job at the end of the year?"

I wouldn't think it was that strange that I hadn't heard something like this, but Josh Marshall and Kevin Drum are also caught off guard, so this must be really out of the blue.

How strange. Is the New York Times predicting that Bush will lose (doubtful), or is this just a really weird way to announce that the embattled National Security Advisor isn't planning to serve another term? Again, how strange.

In any case, it seems like good news to me. Besides the fact that the woman makes me sick, I imagine it can't look good for the administration for an announcement like this to come now, when she's facing increasing criticism for refusing to testify under oath to the 9/11 commission.

Speaking of that, she is now requesting a second private meeting with the commission (not under oath) in order to refute the charges made by Richard Clarke, publicly and under oath. Sure, that's fair.

White House counsel Alberto Gonzalez explained why it doesn't matter if she's under oath on NBC News tonight (video half-way down the page, if you can get the hateful MSN player to work). He says "administration officials are duty bound to tell the truth anyway."

Ahhh, well!! If they're duty-bound! Why didn't you just say so?

In other words, they always tell the truth anyway, why should this be any different? Publicly swearing an oath is really just superfluous.

The Subtle Humor of George Bush

This is appalling.

WASHINGTON - President Bush poked fun at his staff, his Democratic challenger and himself Wednesday night at a black-tie dinner where he hobnobbed with the news media.

Bush put on a slide show, calling it the "White House Election-Year Album" at the Radio and Television Correspondents' Association 60th annual dinner, showing himself and his staff in some decidedly unflattering poses.

There was Bush looking under furniture in a fruitless, frustrating search. "Those weapons of mass destruction have got to be somewhere," he said.


I'm sure the families of our soldiers in Iraq thought that was fucking hilarious. Ha ha ha, how about that invented pretext for sending at least 585 American soldiers to their deaths? Ha ha ha.. good times, good times. It's great that we can laugh about this, huh? It's great that the guy who sent our men and women over there to die thinks the fact that it was under false pretenses is a real riot.

How completely out of touch do you have to be to make a joke like that? The rationale he is mocking was directly used to start A WAR. With REAL PEOPLE GETTING KILLED EVERY DAY. And the President of the United States, the guy who told us there were all kinds of scary weapons pointing at our children, is making jokes about it.

I'm all for a good joke, and I have nothing particular against tasteless jokes, but my god, there is a line, and George Bush just took a big shit right on it. I just can't begin to fathom how he thought this would be taken well.

Drudge pulls out a joke Kerry made in 1998 about assassination: "Somebody told me the other day that the Secret Service has orders that if George Bush (I)is shot, they're to shoot Quayle."

It's hardly the same thing. That joke may be in poor taste, but he's not joking about an issue that has actually caused the deaths of thousands of human beings and thrown the world into a state of chaos unmatched in the past 50 years.


UPDATE: David Corn of The Nation was at the dinner and recounts his experience.


All over the Nightline and the Larry King, and everywhere else I imagine, lots of talk about Dick Clarke's credibility. Is what he's saying in his book now consistent with an email he sent to Condi "I Like to Lie" Rice a week after September 11th? What about that background report for journalists in 2002? One of the commissioners was self-righteously waving that around too.

The problem with all of this crap is that, as usual, it's a distraction. And as usual, the media plays right into it and never looks back. A person's credibility isn't really all that important if you actually bother to investigate the allegations and attempt to discover the facts.

Let's say, hypothetically, that a significant portion of the media decided to do its job and look into these allegations. I know it's a stretch, but bear with me. And to be very clear, it does not not count to just ask some other people, particularly the targets of the accusations, if they think it's true.

If they did that and they found corroborating evidence, eye-witnesses, documents that support the facts of the allegations, would showing an email that might suggest that Clarke once held a slightly different opinion change those facts?

To be fair, he was an advisor, so if his statements back then were significantly different, it could make a difference in the decisions made by those he reported to. But no such case has been made. They just wave around vague emails and reports, as if it is the habit of presidential staffers to send critical emails to their bosses.

In the end, I don't really care if he was inconsistent. I don't think he's a saint; I'm sure he's lied before, as have all of those people, who are they kidding? What I want is some acknowledgement that facts exist apart from the person who reports them. Both sides can't be right on this one -- someone is full of shit -- and somewhere out there is some evidence of it.

So how about it, Media? Let's just get to the bottom of it, for the love of jeebus.

March 24, 2004
I Can't Write Good Headlines

It seems to me that this 9/11 Commission is fatally flawed. There's some kind of basic nonsense to trying to determine what could have or should have happened in the past with this level of detail. If there was something glaring, something obviously criminal or dastardly, that would be good, but I don't think there is. It's all just going to be a lot of he-said-she-said; a lot of we thought this then but we didn't know then what we know now so we never would have thought then what we think now and even if we had thought it, some other people didn't, so we might not have done anything anyway.

Speculation about what could have been done to avert this tragedy will continue for, like, ever.

The questions are so complex, the situation so encompassing of nearly every facet of the world's political history for the past hundred years, that the answers will be even more complex than the questions. Even if it is determined, say, that Bush received a memo dated August 14th, clearly stating that Al Qaeda was plotting a major attack; and then the next week the CIA flew a Predator drone and had pictures of exactly where bin Laden was cave-dwelling; and the Pentagon had moved faster to weaponize the Predator so it was carrying a missile; and the president had still not pulled the trigger; it's still an open question what the reaction of the country and the world would have been if he had pulled it. The highest levels of government and the intelligence community would know it had probably been a good move, but I'm not sure the public would have gotten it.

Before 9/11, we didn't feel like we do now. Rightly or wrongly, we felt safe (we were wrong). If we had turned on the television and seen that our government had blown up some guy most people had never heard of because they were pretty sure the guy was responsible for some bad plans and a few dozen deaths, tragic and evil as those were; and then we saw hundreds and thousands of radical Islamists chanting and yelling in the streets, burning our flag and yelling for our blood, like we saw in Gaza two days ago; and then several months later some nutcase blew up something here, even with relatively low casualties, we would be having dramatic hearings about why we assassinated that guy and stirred up such a hornet's nest.

I'm not saying that would have happened, but it seems a likely enough sequence of events. The point I'm trying to make is that I think this will generally dissolve into one of those "only history will tell" kinds of things. There may be some specific revelations about the exact sequence of events, but I don't anticipate there being anything remotely definitive enough to warrant assigning great blame. Blame for some bad decisions, probably; but more blame for a faulty system that allowed those decisions to be made. Nay, that required those decisions to be made. No, wait, go back.. allowed.

Unless of course there's a huge bombshell, some insane revelation that makes everyone go completely nuts. That would be pretty cool.

Tricksy President
"Had my administration had any information that terrorists were going to attack New York City on September 11th, we would have acted."

This is the clip of Bush I kept seeing all day today. That's the denial of Clarke's charges from the leader of the free world (shudder).

It's one of the most narrowly phrased, ridiculous excuses for a real statement I've ever heard, and yet I've seen no news organization follow up this clip with anything. They show it as if it's a fair rebuttal to Clarke's accusations and that's that.

They never point out that the president is carefully avoiding the point of the accusations. By specifically citing September 11 and New York City, he's changed the broad and complex questions of how his administration responded to terrorist threats, general or specific, and made it a singularly narrow and simplistic question about whether they knew one piece of information, which they surely didn't.

What if they had information that terrorists were planning some kind of major attack on a large American target, in the very near future as Clarke alleges? I haven't heard anyone say that we knew about the specific details, let alone the exact date and location, of the 9/11 attacks. The whole point is that if earlier intelligence reports and warnings had been taken more seriously and acted upon more swiftly, we may have discovered the plot, exactly as the plot to blow up LAX was foiled in December of 1999.

But the president sits there and makes a statement which amounts to absolutely nothing, carefully choosing words which cannot be refuted and yet completely obscure and distract from the real issues.

I know why he does it, I just don't know why he gets away with it.

March 23, 2004
Why Clarke Isn't Lying

The White House and it's dogs have been in full attack mode for a couple days now, today releasing Clarke's resignation letter, which contained praise for the president and expressed that it had been an honor to serve him, as evidence that they guy is a flip-flopper.

Of course, they didn't mention that nobody writes scathing, angry resignation letters to the president. They leave quietly, they always say nice things. If he had written, "I'm out of here, you psychotic mutherfuckers!" would they hold that up as evidence of his consistency of opinion? No, it doesn't matter what anyone says, they'll spin it the way they want.

I obviously don't know, but there is mounting evidence that Clarke is telling the truth. Fred Kaplan at Slate makes a very convincing case. But even from my mostly uninformed position, I have to ask, why would he lie? How could he think he'd get away with it?

If charges this serious were completely without merit, as the administration is claiming, wouldn't it be easy to prove it? People like Clarke and Paul O'Neill back up what they say with documents, eye-witnesses, you know.. evidence. The White House rebuts by saying, "we think he's a jerk and he's mad because he lost his job."

Uhh.. okay, but what about those charges? Does being mad make him a liar? Can't he be mad about losing his job (I'm not saying he is) and still be telling the truth? Seriously, what about those charges?

Of course, one could ask the same questions about the president and his people. Why would they lie? Well, now they're lying to protect their asses, because they fucked up big. They may not have been really lying before, many of them probably really wanted to believe what they were saying was true, and their extreme ideology and unwillingness to reconsider their positions based on new facts (or old facts) blinded them to the truth, a trait very nearly as bad, perhaps in some ways worse, than out-and-out lying.

A partial list, thus far, of people the administration says have an axe to grind, and are lying:

  • Richard Clarke - 30 year terrorism expert
  • Paul O'Neill - former Treasury Secretary
  • David Kay - former top U.N. weapons inspector
  • Hans Blix - totally important guy
  • the CIA
  • Joe Wilson - former ambassador

And those are just people who used to be on their side (or were on nobody's side).

Oy! What Hamas!

A little late on this one..

Israel seems to have completely lost it. What possible good can come of assassinating the founder of Hamas? What? Absolutely none, that's what. All the possible consequences are bad, some horrific.

I'm not counting "They might just all give up and everything will be okay" as a possible consequence.

What's possible, and likely, and already happening, is that it will create more terrorists, bring more people into a more radical position, and leave a power vacuum to be filled by someone at least as crazy as Sheik Ahmed Yassin.

It's just madness.

Some have been quick to point out that this guy was to Israel what Osama bin Laden is to us, and that Israel had made no secret of their desire to kill him, as we have made no secret of our desire to get Osamie.

The comparison may be valid, but it certainly leaves something out. The Palestinians are organized, political, and have specific and to most people, myself included, real grievances. Anyone who has seen the news in the past 4 years would have predicted what would happen when this guy was killed. It's just irresponsible, and it puts all of us in greater danger than we were before.

I have to repeat my suggestion that Israel, particularly Jerusalem, should just be made off limits to everyone. The U.N. should step in and kick everyone out. Close the city. If you can't play nice, nobody gets a holy land. Maybe in a few decades, once you've proved you can get along, the area can be opened again as an International Peace City, or Desert Disney.

Everyone's a Critic

Taken together, these stories paint an interesting picture, don't they?

Passion tickets bear 'mark of the beast'

The number 666, which many Christians recognize as the "mark of the beast," is appearing on movie tickets for Gibson's film at a Georgia theater, drawing complaints from some moviegoers.

The machine that prints tickets assigned the number 666 as a prefix on all the tickets for the film, said Gary Smith, owner of the Movies at Berry Square in northwest Georgia. The 666 begins a series of numbers that are listed below the name of the movie, the date, time and price.


Lightning strikes Gibson's 'Christ'

Actor Jim Caviezel, who plays Jesus in Mel Gibson's controversial film "The Passion of Christ" was struck by lightning during shooting.

An assistant director on the film, Jan Michelini, was also hit -- for the second time in a few months.


Pastor Dies Watching 'Passion of Christ'

BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil (Reuters) - A Brazilian pastor died of an apparent heart attack while watching the Mel Gibson film "The Passion of the Christ," witnesses say.

... halfway through the movie, Soares' wife noticed that he was no longer awake. A doctor who was also watching the film tended to Soares, but the priest was already dead.


To people who believe that absolutely everything that happens is the will of god, isn't this kind of a bad sign?

To the rest of us, it's just hilarious.

That Darn Liberal Media Again

Here's what pisses me off: Yesterday Richard Clarke spent half an hour on 60 Minutes making some VERY serious allegations about the administrations actions before and after September 11. (here's a transcript, well worth reading)

This guy has an incredibly long career in government, particularly in the field of counterterrorism, and has worked for Reagan, Bush "Seems Not So Bad In Retrospect" I, Clinton, and until recently Bush "Holy Shit This Guy Is Bad" II. So he's certainly not, or at least hasn't been, particularly partisan. If he can work for Reagan and Clinton, he must be really into his job.

I find basic problems with the questions about what could have been done to prevent 9/11 generally. It's easy to look back and find mistakes and missteps. Things that look obvious now did not look obvious then, and often rightly so, given the information at the time.

BUT... these allegations go far beyond woulda-coulda-shoulda. First, he's alleging that Bush and his people were told repeatedly that there was an unprecedented level of "chatter" and they did nothing. More importantly, though, are his statements about how the administration reacted AFTER 9/11. Let us quote:

CLARKE: Well Rumsfeld was saying that we needed to bomb Iraq and we all said, 'No no, al Qaeda is in Afghanistan. We need to bomb Afghanistan.' Rumsfeld said, 'There aren't any good targets in Afghanistan and there are lots of good targets in Iraq.' I said, 'Well there are lots of good targets in lots of places but Iraq had nothing to with it.'

STAHL: You wrote you thought he was joking.

CLARKE: Initially I thought when he said there aren't enough targets in Afghanistan, I thought he was joking.

STAHL: Now what was your reaction to all this Iraq talk? What did you tell everybody?

CLARKE: What I said was, you know, invading Iraq or bombing Iraq after we're attacked by somebody else, it's akin to, what if Franklin Roosevelt after Pearl Harbor instead of going to war with Japan said, "Let's invade Mexico." It's very analogous.


There's plenty more. Go read it. But back to what originally pissed me off enough to write this: within a day of this story breaking, most of the mainstream press is reporting the administration's denials much more than they are reporting on, let alone investigating the allegations themselves. This sucks.

Once during the interview, Leslie Stahl did challenge the short-straw-drawing administration official on the show, directly challenging his assertion with research of her own. His response? "I stand by my statement." Her follow up? None.

And that's the GOOD stuff. The bad stuff is the New York Times and the Washington Post dutifully spewing administration talking points (see images below).

A well-placed and by all accounts extremely knowledgeable source makes devastating accusations against the absolute highest levels of our government, and the media's response, by and large, is to ask the target of the accusations if it's true. They say no. Good enough. Our work is done.

washington post

Gotta love that liberal media. Oh, and regarding the timing of the release of the book, Atrios points out that Clarke says that the White House delayed the publication for 3 months. You know, until such a time as they could use the "suspicious timing" attack.


This one's not as bad, but it's certainly buried, and "finding fault" is a bit of an understatement, don'tchathink?

March 19, 2004
Karen Ryan Discovered to be an Actual Silly Person

In comments, Marshall points to the Columbia Journalism Review's interview with the real Karen Ryan.

She says she "feels like political roadkill." Perhaps she'd feel better if she had the least little bit of integrity or ethics. The last people in the world I feel sorry for are P.R. spinners who create "Video News Releases" blatantly disguised as news. Sure, the stations that air the ads are also responsible, and should be ashamed of themselves, but claiming she has no responsibility is absurd.

These things should be outlawed. In what conceivable scenario can they be said to benefit the public is any way, and moreover, not to be flat-out deceptive. If we require our political candidates to clearly state who they are and that they endorse their ads, we should certainly be informed when something broadcast on a news program originates from the public relations wing of the company who stands to profit from the information.

If we have no way of telling (somewhat) objective reporting from advertising, our democracy is in serious trouble.

March 18, 2004
Grounds for Impeachment

Or at least they would be aghast if they knew about it.

Hopefully many many people have already heard this story, but I just finally saw the ad in question, and it truly sickened me. If we can impeach a president for lying about a blow job, doesn't it stand to reason that something should be done when a president and his cohorts lie, cynically using the media's laziness to spread propoganda about a sweeping Medicare law?

The Bush administration paid people to pose as journalists praising the benefits of the new Medicare law..

The videos are intended for use in local television news programs.

Two videos end with the voice of a woman who says, "In Washington, I'm Karen Ryan reporting."

Another video, intended for Hispanic audiences, shows a Bush administration official being interviewed in Spanish by a man who identifies himself as a reporter named Alberto Garcia.

Another segment shows a pharmacist talking to an elderly customer. The pharmacist says the new law "helps you better afford your medications," and the customer says, "It sounds like a good idea." Indeed, the pharmacist says, "A very good idea."

The government also prepared scripts that can be used by news anchors introducing what the administration describes as a made-for-television "story package."

In one script, the administration suggests that anchors use this language: "In December, President Bush signed into law the first-ever prescription drug benefit for people with Medicare. Since then, there have been a lot of questions about how the law will help older Americans and people with disabilities. Reporter Karen Ryan helps sort through the details."

The "reporter" then explains the benefits of the new law.


When John Stewart, after showing a clip of the video, revealed that it had been produced by the White House, the audience yelled in horror. Of course his audience is of a very particular type, but it's the first time I've ever heard an audience sound so audibly disgusted and outraged. As well they should be. As well we all should be.

The GAO is investigating, but thus far has said it doesn't appear that the videos are strictly illegal, though they do have "notable omissions and other weaknesses."

This is just too much. How on earth are these people getting away with this shit? How on earth is it that a significant number of Americans still think this administration is not pure evil?

This should be banner headlines, huge scandal, disgrace, ignominy, public flogging. It's in the papers, sure, but it's just not a big enough story. We should be shouting this from the rooftops.

BTW - I'm looking for a clip or copy of the video somewhere online. If anyone knows of one, let me know.

UPDATE: Here's the Daily Show clip. It starts out with some stuff about the made up costs of the bill, and then gets to the fake news video. The whole thing is schocking (and hilarious).

Say, Anthony, What Do You Think of Gay Marriage?

One of my duties at my 8 hour a week fake job at KCTS, Seattle's public television station, is to capture and encode videos of their local current affairs program, KCTS Connects. I'm sorry, their Emmy award winning local current affairs program.

It might sound fancy, but all that means is that I sit at a computer and watch tv, occasionally pressing a few keys. It's much like what I do at home, except that there are other humans around, and I have to pass through the outdoors for a brief time to both get there and then to get back home. These two things -- being in the company of humans and so-called "fresh air and exercise" -- are purportedly beneficial, and I must admit that they do sometimes lead to social and/or outdoor situations.

Usually I don't mind the tv watching; the show is pretty decent, and it's my only real source for local news. My news focus tends to be more national, especially since I've only recently moved and don't feel much connected to this area yet. It is public television though, so sometimes it really sucks, as in the week they discussed the Green River Killer, the Pacific Northwest's very own serial killer. The killer, Jeff Goldblum, had recently been found guilty but spared the death penalty, with the attendant public bloodthirsty hand wringing.

Sorry, it wasn't Jeff Goldblum, it was Gary Ridgway. I'm always doing that to Goldblum. Sorry Jeff!

Anyway, that episode sucked because the victim's brother was the worst television talk show guest in the history of the world. He never said anything. The host would ask an excruciatingly sensitively phrased question, and he would respond, "Mmmm... Yeah .... I guess so ... Mmmmm .. I don't know.." It was enough to drive someone insane, and the other guests, an awkward policeman and a newspaper reporter, weren't taking up the slack at all. I'm sensitive to the guy's loss, naturally, but come on, I'm trying to watch television here.

Often, though, they do have compelling and lively discussions of local and national events. One of the episodes I watched today concerned the Gay Marriage Amendment. The guests were from all sides: a gay rights activist, a conservative minister, and two lawyers - one for, one against. (When's the last time you saw that balanced a panel on CNN?)

This issue continues to depress me, and this show didn't help. The news from Tennessee below, this story about gays being denied job protections by the federal government, and countless others, have really got me upset about the state of things around here.

On the show, the anti-gays' arguments were horrible, as usual. They trotted out the usual "terrible consequences," without being able to name one that was in any way tangible. They came closest with the "next comes legal polygamy" argument; furthest afield was one caller's assertion that before we know it someone will want to marry their pet. They talked about god and the bible, apparently being prepared to amend the Constitution despite having never read it. They argued that civil unions should be good enough, ignoring the more than 1000 federal benefits that would be denied under such a system. One, the preacher, even threatened a kind of blackmail, saying that if gays weren't careful with this push, they'd lose what rights they already enjoy.

The "for" argument, on the other hand, was all about equality, justice, and tolerance. How is it that we've found ourselves having a serious public debate where one side has to defend such ideals? It's a shame that we haven't moved beyond arguing about the basic idea of treating everyone equally.

I was most of all struck by the attitude of the preacher, who was a black man with a white wife. Despite repeated attempts by other panelists to show him, he failed to see the connection between this issue and the issue of his own marriage. Less than 50 years ago, he could have been jailed in 15 states for marrying his wife, yet he fails to see why anyone would see this as a similar situation. It was amazing how both he and the anti-gay lawyer would make the exact same arguments as had been made against mixed race marriages, and then claim to not see the connection at all.

But this is different. These are gay people we're talking about. They're, you know, icky.

The preacher also neatly dodged any suggestion that there was some lesson to be learned from realizing that most churches today (chances are his own is included) tolerate many things which were once considered shameful or worse, such as divorce and women. He failed to see the hypocrisy in his side citing scripture as the basis for this particular discrimination while ignoring many other biblically forbidden acts not only in their churches but in their own homes.

In the end, I felt very sad that people hold these views at all. I don't understand them and find it hard to relate to them as of being the same kind of thing as myself. (Note, however, that I would never ever suggest that they be denied a single solitary legal right that is granted to the more enlightened).

On the positive side, I'm actually optimistic in the long term, because I think this is the beginning of the end of legal discrimination against gays. All human rights issues reach a crescendo of emotion before freedoms are inevitably won, and this is no different. When discrimination is brought to the surface, it doesn't last long. There is already some backlash, and there will be more, and it will still take a lot of fighting, but it will happen.

And if it doesn't, there's always Canada.

March 17, 2004
Ahh, That Smooth Tennessee Bigotry
Via Atrios...
The county that was the site of the Scopes "Monkey Trial" over the teaching of evolution is asking lawmakers to amend state law so the county can charge homosexuals with crimes against nature. The Rhea County commissioners approved the request 8-0 Tuesday. Commissioner J.C. Fugate, who introduced the measure, also asked the county attorney to find a way to enact an ordinance banning homosexuals from living in the county. "We need to keep them out of here," Fugate said. http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/news/world/8209278.htm
I don't even know what to say.
Vibration Mascot

Get 'em while they last.

Hello Kitty USB Hub, with keyboard activated arm and head motion.

Act now.

hello kitty hub

March 16, 2004
The Instant Instant

Instant Messanging is a strange little world. All day, most days, I'm signed in. I often forget and just never log off, even if I go out or go to bed. Usually, though, sadly, when you see me on IM, I'm sitting right here. Sigh.

There's a small group of people in my Buddy List, maybe 8 or so, who seem to be online as much as I am. I say seem to be because like me, they may not often turn it off, even if they're not actually there. It's a popular rationalization. Truth is, I don't know because most days I don't talk to them.

That's the weird part. It's like being in the same room as my friends -- some ex-coworkers, minor aquantances and people I haven't talked to in years -- and not talking to them. We both know we're there (despite pretending to ourselves that we "do other stuff"), but neither wants to be the first to write and be saddled with resposibility for the conversation. If you write first, it's understood that you have something important to share, like this.

Other times I have two friends online who I know are talking to each other, but not to me. Sometimes I'm talking to one of them, but I know they're talking to the other one. Then they'll both sign off at the same time, so I know they're going to do something together. This is when I wish I lived closer to my friends. It doesn't make me bitter, very much.

In conclusion, it's a strange, new type of communication. It's old in many ways, and shares similarities with various other kinds of communication, on several levels. Still, it's a unique combination and has some original aspects. It is yet to be seen what the effect on society, or on me, will be.

I'm signing off. American Idol's on.

The Cat Is Shitting Around Here Somewhere, I'm Sure Of It

But I can't find it.

Last night I thought I smelled something funny, but I couldn't figure it out.

Today I didn't notice it too much until I got back from running some errands. When I walked in the door, it 'bout knocked me over, and I've been smelling it ever since. I can't shake it.

You know that look someone gets on their face when they vaguely smell something, but can't exactly place it or tell where it's coming from? Think of a guy in a watch ad. I've had that look on my face for hours. It's starting to hurt.

Roo can't talk, or really communicate in any consistent or sensible way at all, so he's no help.

Roll Over Thomas Jefferson

Oh. My. God.

H. R. 3920


To allow Congress to reverse the judgments of the United States Supreme Court.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,


This Act may be cited as the `Congressional Accountability for Judicial Activism Act of 2004'.


The Congress may, if two thirds of each House agree, reverse a judgment of the United States Supreme Court?

(1) if that judgment is handed down after the date of the enactment of this Act; and

(2) to the extent that judgment concerns the constitutionality of an Act of Congress.


Lovely. That whole system of checks and balances thing was overrated anyway.

March 15, 2004
All Good Decorating Starts With Liz

liz as wall art

Created with 45 sheets of paper and more black ink than I care to think about. Not to mention a perfectly good afternoon of scotch taping.

Here's another one.

Make Your Own.

Bush Using Homeland Security As Election Prop

Via Pendagon...

Administration sources tell TIME that employees at the Department of Homeland Security have been asked to keep their eyes open for opportunities to pose the President in settings that might highlight the Administration's efforts to make the nation safer. The goal, they are being told, is to provide Bush with one homeland-security photo-op a month.


The Good Old Days

Ah, for a time when political campaigns were simpler...

Video: I Love the Gov

The American Museum of the Moving Image has put up a collection of presidential tv ads from 1952 through 1996 (they promise an update with the 2000 ads in June). I've only started going through them, but boy oh boy, this is some good stuff.

March 14, 2004
Spring Planting

It's beginning to look a little like spring here in the sometimes beautiful northwest, so today was the beginning of our herb garden.

Wish us luck, we neither of us have particularly green thumbs.

herb garden attempt 1

Oh! Frodo!

This is just a fantastic idea.

March 13, 2004
Substantive Dialog

Wired has the breaking news; the Sloganator is no more. A pity.

The best part is when the "Electronic Campaign Manager" (I think it's probably a human, but great title anyway) moans, "Their action says a lot about people who are 100 percent committed to using profane and vulgar language in place of substantive dialog on the important issues facing America today."

Man, those guys are really funny. Do they really believe this crap?

The Wonkette responds, correctly, "No one's going to have a substantive dialog of any kind on a poster."

Also, it appears that my "don't change horsemen" thing was done to death. Damnit. Stupid thousands of people who think the same as me negating my creativity.

March 12, 2004
Slapnose: Now Table Free!

I've made a few changes to the blog here. They're subtle, some completely invisible, but it still took me all day.

The background is a different color, and we have a keen fadey edge thing going on. The sidebar now extends all the way to the bottom, eliminating that pesky float, and all the IE 5 Mac incompatibility (well, some of it).

My blockquotes are now featuring a striking gold background.

Most importantly, and ironically most transparently, this page is now completely table free. Huzzah!

Why is this important? It's all about separating content from design. With no dern tables, I'll be able to change my design much more easily, the code is much more readable, and it's just the right thing to do. Soon perhaps I'll throw up one of them style switcher jobbies to demonstrate.

Also of note is the new "MoBlog" thing on the sidebar. It's just a little gallery for photos I snap with my camera phone.

Please let me know if all of this looks like crap on your particular setup. It's a distinct possibility.

In the next couple days I'll update the rest of the site with these changes. It's all so exciting.

(thanks to http://simplebits.com and http://alistapart.com for inspiration and help.)

March 11, 2004
Bold Slogans for a Bold America
parody bush sign

It's surprising that the Bush/Cheney website provides such a fertile platform for parody with this sign generator machine.

It rejects certain words, as noted by the Wonkette, but if you're creative you can get around it. (Also note that it generates a pop-up pdf file, so if you block pop-ups, it won't work right.)

Naturally, it would be easy to just make these things yourself in any old image editing program, but somehow it's more fun when you do it on their site.

parody bush sign
March 10, 2004


We've actually been back for 3 days, but I've been blog-lazy. The blog can be a cruel overlord, and after a week off, I was a bit hesitant to get back in here. For better or worse, here I am.

Alaska was a blast. I bowled a 167 at the bachelor party; Erik & Shana were married in high style in the high mountains; the reception was drunken goodness; we went on a snowshoeing expedition; participated in the start of the Iditarod; and I got to go flying with Erik in his beautiful little plane, among other highlights.

More pictures may be perused here.

So, how about those politics? Pretty wicked awesome, huh?

March 1, 2004
Light Blogging

We're off to Alaska for the week, to see this guy get married. It's unlikely that I'll post anything until we get back.

This may be a useful message to the 4 or 5 people who may stop by.


More Like This Indeed

Atrios points to a wonderfully sensible Republican on the issue of gay marriage. There must be more conservatives out there whose consciences are bothering them about this. Would that more of them would stand with Lorence Wenke.

"I kept quiet when African-Americans were facing discrimination," he said. "There have been too many people who have been discriminated against in my lifetime, and this time I'm not going to sit quietly while somebody is being mistreated."

"..we Christians have decided that parts of the Bible don't apply to us anymore."

"So if we can put aside the teachings on women, on divorce, on the Sabbath -- and those are all things that we choose -- then why not on homosexuality, when we don't choose our sexual orientation?" Wenke said.

"Why can't we be as kind and generous in interpreting the Bible for homosexuals as we are for ourselves?"


The Passion of the Loonies

I still haven't decided if I'll see Mel Gibson's blood-fest of a movie. I'm curious to see it, if only to lend some credence to my already surprisingly forceful denunciations of it, but I'm quite reluctant to spend money on it.

Slate has a good article laying bare some of Gibson's views. It seems pretty obvious that he's at least mildly Anti-Semitic. He refuses to distance himself from his father's well known and wildly inaccurate views on the holocaust. He apparently also believes that his devout Episcopalian wife, who is in his words "a saint," is going to hell.

It's a free country (well, sort of); he can make any movie he wants, and he can market it on NASCAR hoods if he wants. (If it were my religion, I would think that cheapened it a bit, but that's just me.)

In my eyes, it's just a movie. The problem is that my eyes aren't seeing it, people like the leaders of Lovingway United Pentecostal Church in Denver, who put the words, "Jews Killed the Lord Jesus" on their marquee last week are seeing it. It's just throwing fuel on the fire. These people are already nuts, and Mel is just riling 'em up. Wonderful.

On a lighter note, a ticketing computer for a theater in Rome, Georgia (yes, Rome) has randomly assigned the prefix 666 to tickets for The Passion.

This is too funny. Was it really random? Is anything random? All things are ordained by god, right, Mel? Gibson told Diane Sawyer that god made his bed in the morning. So what's up with the number of the beast on your ticket stubs?

UPDATE: Lovingway Pentecostal has posted an apology on their website. It probably won't be up there for long, so I'll quote it here.

I, Pastor Maurice Gordon, and Lovingway Church apologize for the message displayed on our sign Wednesday [February 25, 2004] The message was not meant in any way to promote anti-Semitism or disunity among the Jewish and Christian faiths, but rather an attempt to encourage the public to search the scripture and read the story for themselves.

The message is no way reflects the attitude of Lovingway, the United Pentecostal Church International, or Christians in general.

The message has been changed.

Thank You.


Let's review the message: "Jews Killed the Lord Jesus." Yeah, I can see how that's not meant to promote anti-Semitism or disunity. If you read between the lines, you can see how they were encouraging the public to seek their own conclusions from the scripture. It's right there, between the words 'Killed' and 'the Lord Jesus.'

There are few things I hate more than bullshit apologies. If you're going to spew hatred and venom, at least have the balls to take the consequences. At least find a sacrificial lamb to take the heat. You know, "We regret our custodian's poor judgment in displaying his personal views on our roadside sign. He has been summarily fired." Something like that.

Or, alternately, just own up to it. "We hate Jews. We're trying to start a religious war."

Oscar Wrap-Up

I might as well do this, if only to show the tragedy of my thinking about it 12 hours later, and having watched nearly all of it, despite distinctly not enjoying it.

I was hoping Bill Murray would win. He should have won for Ghostbusters. Hell, he should have won for Caddyshack.

I can't stand when people get up there and blubber and cry. Jeez.

Billy Crystal is just not funny. Not even a little bit funny.

Do you think one of these years they'll announce Best Actor before they announce Best Actress? Maybe they already alternate each year, I can't remember. Seems like a pretty obvious thing to do, to stop implying that the Best Actor award is more important than the Best Actress.

Why did Tim Robbins take his peace pin off? He was wearing it when he accepted his Oscar early on, but it was gone later in the show.

And finally, I must reiterate, what the hell is up with Diane Keaton?