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November 30, 2005
Enough plutonium to make dozens of nuclear bombs hasn't been accounted for at the UC-run Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico and may be missing, an activist group says in a new report.

There is no evidence that the weapons-grade plutonium has been stolen or diverted for illegal purposes, the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research said. However, the amount of unaccounted-for plutonium -- more than 600 pounds, and possibly several times that -- is so great that it raises "a vast security issue," the group said in a report to be made public today.


November 28, 2005
The Fall Line

Oh I know you've been waiting for this... Well wait no longer! No longer! No longer wait!

The Slapnose Merchandising Wing is happy to announce the new fall line!

Two new designs are available—one good, one bad. You decide which is which.

First, the "The President is Lying" model, jauntily worn here by nobody at all and featured on our very first black shirt. Chic, n'est-ce pas?

president is lying t shirt

This design is also available in bumper sticker form.

president is lying sticker

Don't worry! These stickers will be relevant for at least 3 more years, and most likely well beyond! Even if the monkey prince gets impeached (hope, hope), I'm sure it'll still work. Besides, it will have faded by then.

Item 2!

Are you as pissed off by these intelligent design idiots as I am? Why not show you care about basic scientific principles with this saucy number? Wear it to church!

i heart evolution t-shirt

It's also available in black..

i heart evolution t-shirt

And sticker (also black stickers)...

i heart evolution sticker

As well as on many other fine shirt-like and sticker-like products such as mugs, g-strings, mousepads, and a bunch of other crap.

Happy shopping... Don't forget all the rest of my goods. Most of them make some kind of gift (great, gag, ironic, etc).

P.S. - Hat tip to the Queen of the Snow Cows for the seed of the I heart Evolution idea. Also, as with all things Cafepress, I haven't yet seen these produced. Particularly the black ones are a new thing. So if you order one and it looks like crap, please let me know (and take advantage of their 30-day return policy!) and I'll adjust the design.

Defense Furniture

So former Congressman Duke Cunningham pled guilty to taking over $2 million in bribes. One of the main bribers was MZM, Inc., a "defense and intelligence firm" that received sweet contracts in exchange for the money and gifts they lavished on the Duke.

As it turns out, MZM has also done some business with the White House.

O]ver the past three years it [MZM Inc.] was also awarded several contracts, worth more than $600,000, by the Executive Office of the President. They include a $140,000 deal for office furniture in 2002 and several for unspecified “intelligence services.”

The question everyone's asking, of course, is why a defense and intelligence firm is being contracted for office furniture.

Sure seems a little odd, don't you think?

Via Think Progress.

November 24, 2005
The Mind Boggles

Finally, after everything, it's happened. Something so ridiculous and topsy-turvy that it's actually nearly impossible to believe. I thought I would never say, "I thought I'd seen it all..." but I'm sayin' it.

Read it and gape in horror.

Former FEMA Director Michael Brown, heavily criticized for his agency's slow response to Hurricane Katrina, is starting a disaster preparedness consulting firm to help clients avoid the sort of errors that cost him his job.

"If I can help people focus on preparedness, how to be better prepared in their homes and better prepared in their businesses -- because that goes straight to the bottom line -- then I hope I can help the country in some way," Brown told the Rocky Mountain News for its Thursday editions.


I... I just don't even know what to say.

Touched by an Uncle

I have a (very) small piece in this week's Stranger, part of the Thanksgiving package "Touched by an Uncle." Mine is the third little blurb.

It's not much—the whole story is quite long and much funnier, it had to be cut waaaaay down for the paper—but it does represent the first thing I've had published in actual, physical print.


Companies Scared of Evolution

From alert commenter sleevecoat comes this disturbing link.

An exhibition celebrating the life of Charles Darwin has failed to find a corporate sponsor because American companies are anxious not to take sides in the heated debate between scientists and fundamentalist Christians over the theory of evolution.

The entire $3 million (£1.7 million) cost of Darwin, which opened at the American Museum of Natural History in New York yesterday, is instead being borne by wealthy individuals and private charitable donations.

The failure of American companies to back what until recently would have been considered a mainstream educational exhibition reflects the growing influence of fundamentalist Christians, who are among President George W Bush's most vocal supporters, over all walks of life in the United States.

This is just sad.

If you live in New York, please go to this exhibit. Go every day. Let's show these ignorant fundamentalists that there are still some people left in this country with a bit of sense.

November 23, 2005
Victory at Last

John Kerry wins!

(via Slog)

November 22, 2005
What They Knew

Former Senator Bob Graham tells it like it is in Sunday's Washington Post, calling bullshit on the administration's latest round of critic-bashing.

As chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence during the tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001, and the run-up to the Iraq war, I probably had as much access to the intelligence on which the war was predicated as any other member of Congress.

I, too, presumed the president was being truthful -- until a series of events undercut that confidence.

In February 2002, after a briefing on the status of the war in Afghanistan, the commanding officer, Gen. Tommy Franks, told me the war was being compromised as specialized personnel and equipment were being shifted from Afghanistan to prepare for the war in Iraq -- a war more than a year away. Even at this early date, the White House was signaling that the threat posed by Saddam Hussein was of such urgency that it had priority over the crushing of al Qaeda.

In the early fall of 2002, a joint House-Senate intelligence inquiry committee, which I co-chaired, was in the final stages of its investigation of what happened before Sept. 11. As the unclassified final report of the inquiry documented, several failures of intelligence contributed to the tragedy. But as of October 2002, 13 months later, the administration was resisting initiating any substantial action to understand, much less fix, those problems.

At a meeting of the Senate intelligence committee on Sept. 5, 2002, CIA Director George Tenet was asked what the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) provided as the rationale for a preemptive war in Iraq. An NIE is the product of the entire intelligence community, and its most comprehensive assessment. I was stunned when Tenet said that no NIE had been requested by the White House and none had been prepared. Invoking our rarely used senatorial authority, I directed the completion of an NIE.

Tenet objected, saying that his people were too committed to other assignments to analyze Saddam Hussein's capabilities and will to use chemical, biological and possibly nuclear weapons. We insisted, and three weeks later the community produced a classified NIE.

Washington Post

Xed Out

The liberal media strikes again!

November 20, 2005
Flying Solo

AMERICAblog reports that Rumsfeld had said this morning that he "didn't advocate invasion, [he] wasn't asked."

As AMERICAblog points out, we already know that Colin Powell, the Secretary of State at the time, wasn't asked either.

So we invaded Iraq without the advice or counsel of the Secretary of Defense or the Secretary of State. It was, I suppose, entirely the decision of the president who says he just likes to "go with his gut."


November 19, 2005
You Are So Sued

As previously mentioned, South Park took on Scientology and Tom Cruise this week. I love it when anyone takes on either of these things, so happy was I.

And now, you can be happy to as you watch it your own self, in case you missed it the first time 'round.

south park

Click here to download. This video is formatted for one of them fancy new iPods what plays video, but you can watch it in iTunes too.


Oh, and the creators of South Park have no problem with people downloading their show from the internet. How nice.

CNN also had a lame story on the episode.

November 18, 2005
Schmidt's Pants on Fire


Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-OH) today on the House floor, speaking about Rep. John Murtha (D-PA), a decorated former Marine:

Yesterday I stood at Arlington National Cemetery attending the funeral of a young marine in my district. He believed in what we were doing is the right thing and had the courage to lay his life on the line to do it. A few minutes ago I received a call from Colonel Danny Bubp, Ohio Representative from the 88th district in the House of Representatives. He asked me to send Congress a message: Stay the course. He also asked me to send Congressman Murtha a message, that cowards cut and run, Marines never do. Danny and the rest of America and the world want the assurance from this body - that we will see this through.

The House then proceeded to erupt in shouts, demanding that her clear suggestion that a fellow congressman is a coward be dealt with. She was later forced to return to the floor and ask that her remarks be stricken from the record. She claimed that her remarks were "not directed to any member of the House" despite having said these words: "He also asked me to send Congressman Murtha a message..."

House on Fire

The House of Representatives is going nuts. Watch it all live on C-SPAN.

The Republicans are proposing a resolution saying that troops should be pulled from Iraq immediately. They're doing this because they know that the resolution will fail, and it will put Democrats in a difficult position. When the resolution fails, they'll trumpet it as proof of "support" for the current Iraq policy.

They're playing politics in the worst possible way, proposing resolutions simply so that they'll be defeated, and so they can paint their opponents as unpatriotic or worse.

The Republicans are naturally just going on and on with these sob stories about individual Iraqis begging our troops to stay, and repeating the talking point, "when they stand up, we will stand down" over and over.

Americablog proposes that the Democrats play the same game, proposing a resolution saying that the president is doing a great job, or that the Iraq war is going just super. Put the Republicans in the same kind of tight spot. Will they vote for such a resolution, going against the feelings of a clear majority of Americans?

Wow, Dennis Kucinich just went totally ballistic.

You should really be watching this.


Wil S. Hylton has a great piece on the Sinclair Broadcasting Group in this month's GQ. Particularly interesting to all my loyal hometown Bal'mer readers, I know there are thousands of you.

You remember Sinclair; they're the ones who refused to air Nightline's "The Fallen" episode and tried to force all their stations to air an anti-Kerry "documentary" only weeks before the election. They suck.

South Park vs. Scientology

This week's episode of South Park is a must see. They take on Scientology, and they pull no punches. The word on the street is that South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone were more worried about the fallout from this episode than from any other they've done.

They basically reveal Scientology for all it's insanity, complete with a rundown of the Xenu myth, which they run with a banner across the screen reading, "This is what Scientologists Actually Believe."

The episode also has a nice side plot about Tom Cruise being gay.

It end with the Stan character looking into the camera (ostensibly talking to the head of the church) and saying, "Go ahead. Sue me. I'm not afraid of you. Sue me." The credits then roll, listing all crew as John Smith and Jane Smith.

(Scientology makes it their policy to go after critics by slapping them with absurd copyright infringement lawsuits for using the terminology of their asinine cult.)

Anyway, it's still running on Comedy Central this weekend. Check your local listings. I'm sure it'll be up on Bittorrent soon.

November 17, 2005
This Man Is Very, Very Evil


"In Washington you can ordinarily rely on some basic measure of truthfulness and good faith in the conduct of political debate.

But in the last several weeks we have seen a wild departure from that tradition.

And the suggestion that's been made by some US senators that the president of the United States or any member of this administration purposely misled the American people on pre-war intelligence is one of the most dishonest and reprehensible charges ever aired in this city."


God, what a bastard.

It is increasingly clear to a majority of Americans—and has been clear to some of us for years—that the Bush administration absolutely "misled the American people on pre-war intelligence." Whether it was purposeful or not is still up for debate, primarily because they won't let anyone investigate it. If it wasn't purposeful, then it was the result of massive incompetence. Either way, it's not the fault of the people who are pointing it out.

Dick Cheney himself was a primary misleader. He repeatedly made public assertions that he absolutely knew to be false. He has never been made to answer for any of it, and now he's attacking those who are pointing it out.

Evil. Pure and simple. If you're religious, here's your devil, in action.

The Progress Report lays out some of Cheney's more egregious misleadings..

CHENEY SAID IT WAS AN 'ABSOLUTE CERTAINTY' IRAQ WAS DEVELOPING NUCLEAR WEAPONS: On September 8, 2002, Cheney said, "[I]t is now public that, in fact, he has been seeking to acquire, and we have been able to intercept and prevent him from acquiring through this particular channel, the kinds of [aluminum] tubes that are necessary to build a centrifuge. ... We do know, with absolute certainty, that [Saddam Hussein] is using his procurement system to acquire the equipment he needs in order to enrich uranium to build a nuclear weapon." Cheney "was referring to the aluminum tubes." At the time, "[t]he Department of Energy, the Nation’s foremost nuclear weapons experts, and the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research, did not believe the aluminum tubes were for centrifuges to make nuclear weapons." After the invasion, months of inspections "found no evidence of hidden centrifuges or a revived nuclear weapons program."

On December 9, 2001, Vice President Cheney said it was "pretty well confirmed, that [one of the 9/11 hijackers, Mohammed Atta] did go to Prague and he did meet with a senior official of the Iraqi intelligence service in Czechoslovakia last April, several months before the attack." The CIA has stated publicly that it didn't have "any credible information" that the meeting took place. The bi-partisan 9/11 Commission concluded the meeting did not occur. Even after the 9/11 Commission issued their findings, Cheney refused to back away from his statements. In June 2004, he stated that "we just don't know" whether the meeting took place.

CHENEY SAID THAT IRAQ TRAINED AL-QAEDA TERRORISTS: On December 2, 2002, Vice President Cheney claimed that Saddam Huissen's regime "has had high-level contacts with al Qaeda going back a decade and has provided training to al Qaeda terrorists." It wasn't true and the administration knew it. According to the New York Times the information came from a detainee "identified as a likely fabricator months before the Bush administration began to use his statements as the foundation for its claims that Iraq trained Al Qaeda members to use biological and chemical weapons." A February 2002 document by the Defense Intelligence Agency said that the detainee Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, ''was intentionally misleading the debriefers.''

Progress Report

See that? That's called "evidence." It's a kind of "fact." It's what's known as "true." It's not just random accusations against one's opponents, it's backed up with documents and direct quotes.

I've asked it before and I'll ask it again, if you voted for these people, seriously, what is wrong with you?


Dan Savage (editor of The Stranger, my employer), has a very good op-ed piece in yesterday's New York Times.

His basic point—with the "right to privacy" being such an important legal issue, and the underpinning of so many other controversial court decisions, liberals should propose an amendment to the Constitution guaranteeing the right to privacy.

If they can propose amendments outlawing marriage between loving couples, he argues, then we can propose one outlawing government interference in people's private lives.

...if the right to privacy is so difficult for some people to locate in the Constitution, why don't we just stick it in there? Wouldn't that make it easier to find?

If the Republicans can propose a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, why can't the Democrats propose a right to privacy amendment? Making this implicit right explicit would forever end the debate about whether there is a right to privacy. And the debate over the bill would force Republicans who opposed it to explain why they don't think Americans deserve a right to privacy - which would alienate not only moderates, but also those libertarian, small-government conservatives who survive only in isolated pockets on the Eastern Seaboard and the American West.


So, come on, Democrats, go on the offensive - start working on a bill. Not only would enshrining the right to privacy in the Constitution secure a right that most Americans rightly believe they are already entitled to..

NY Times

I think it's a great idea. Let's see the Republicans mount a public campaign against privacy.

November 16, 2005

A.P. - U.S. has detained 83,000 in war on terror.

You read that right. 83,000. In four years.

Andrew Sullivan:

It is important to recognize that this administration reserves the right to detain anyone, include American citizens, anywhere, for any amount of time, without charge, sometimes without even documentation, and reserves the right to torture them as well. There are now close to 4,000 held without charge for a year. It is past time for the legislature and the courts to fight back and restrain - or at least bring some kind of order and legality - to this astonishing record. If the administration will not grant these prisoners POW status, it must agree to new rules that allow the innocent to be distinguished from the guilty, and to bar torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment for ever. Pass the McCain Amendment now.


Hat tip: The Slog.

Stewart on Chalabi

The Daily Show had a nice piece about Ahmad Chalabi's recent visit to our country.

stewart on chalabi

Crooks and Liars has the video.

Oh Good Lord

Via Think Progress.

Conservative group Right March is promoting a new single entitled "Bush Was Right" by surely-not-created-just-for-this-purpose Nashville duo The Right Brothers. They're trying to get it onto MTV to "get the TRUTH" to America's youth who are "being LIED to by liberal politicians and the mainstream media."

Here's a sample of the song -- Real Media or MP3.


That's so crappy.

And I'm not just saying that because it's full of insane distortions, it's just a terrible song. A blatant rip-off of Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start the Fire," with a gratuitous jab at the French thrown in to push it to 11 on the ignorance meter.

The guy promoting this apparently has said that the song "proves that WMDs were found in Iraq and there was a definite link between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda."

Oh save me Jeebus.

Of course, when this song is inevitably NOT shown on MTV, because it sucks ass, they will jump right in with the accusations of censorship and liberal bias. It's not liberal bias, it's quality bias. Sheesh.

Keith Olbermann and his crew supplied a video for the clip, Crooks and Liars has that for your face.

November 15, 2005
Times Calls Bullshit

Via hot-tipper WSH...

The New York Times has a scathing editorial today about Bush's renewed lying about the run-up to war. It really couldn't be any clearer.

Foreign intelligence services did not have full access to American intelligence. But some had dissenting opinions that were ignored or not shown to top American officials. Congress had nothing close to the president's access to intelligence. The National Intelligence Estimate presented to Congress a few days before the vote on war was sanitized to remove dissent and make conjecture seem like fact.

It's hard to imagine what Mr. Bush means when he says everyone reached the same conclusion. There was indeed a widespread belief that Iraq had chemical and biological weapons. But Mr. Clinton looked at the data and concluded that inspections and pressure were working - a view we now know was accurate. France, Russia and Germany said war was not justified. Even Britain admitted later that there had been no new evidence about Iraq, just new politics.

The administration had little company in saying that Iraq was actively trying to build a nuclear weapon. The evidence for this claim was a dubious report about an attempt in 1999 to buy uranium from Niger, later shown to be false, and the infamous aluminum tubes story. That was dismissed at the time by analysts with real expertise.

The Bush administration was also alone in making the absurd claim that Iraq was in league with Al Qaeda and somehow connected to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. That was based on two false tales. One was the supposed trip to Prague by Mohamed Atta, a report that was disputed before the war and came from an unreliable drunk.

NY Times

This aggression will not stand.

I Could Never Do This

This is amazing. I wish I could draw.


November 14, 2005
Lies, All Lies

The Progress Report has some nice, documented rebuttals to Bush's three main lies from his speech on Friday. These are the same three lies you'll be hearing from every major Republican mouthpiece for the next few weeks as they try to repair their reputations and poll numbers (not, it should be noted, the actual mess they've made).

Lie #1: Congress had access to the same intelligence as the administration when they voted for the authority to go to war.

Truth: The White House decided what intelligence was given to Congress. The administration had much more information than they shared, and they changed the wording and manipulated the text of intelligence assessments to strengthen their case.

FACT: CONGRESS DID NOT HAVE THE "SAME INTELLIGENCE" AS THE WHITE HOUSE: In his speech, President Bush claimed that members of Congress who voted for the 2002 Iraq war resolution "had access to the same intelligence" as his administration. This is false. As the Washington Post pointed out Saturday, "Bush and his aides had access to much more voluminous intelligence information than did lawmakers, who were dependent on the administration to provide the material." For instance, in the lead up to war, the Bush administration argued that Iraq had made several attempts to "buy high-strength aluminum tubes used in centrifuges to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons." The White House sent 15 intelligence assessments to Congress supporting this notion, but according to the New York Times, "not one of them" informed readers that experts within the Energy Department believed the tubes could not be used to reconstitute a nuclear weapons program. Even Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) -- who has led efforts to delay and downplay the need for investigating prewar intelligence -- confirmed this broader point yesterday. Asked whether the differences between the intelligence available to the White House and to Congress was a "legitimate concern," Roberts acknowledged that it "may be a concern to some extent."

Lie #2: A bipartisan Senate investigation found that the intelligence justifying the war was not created under "political pressure."

Truth: The commissions he's referring to concluded that the administration did not pressure intelligence officials to change their conclusions, but they were not authorized to investigate and did not investigate whether the administration accurately conveyed those conclusions to the public or the Congress.

FACT: SENATE INTEL REPORT SHOWED MANIPULATION OF THE EVIDENCE: Bush claimed that "a bipartisan Senate investigation found no evidence of political pressure to change the intelligence community's judgments related to Iraq's weapons programs." That argument is wrong on at least two counts. First, "the only committee investigating the matter in Congress, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, has not yet done its inquiry into whether officials mischaracterized intelligence by omitting caveats and dissenting opinions." The so-called Phase II of the pre-war intel investigation is not expected to be completed this year. Second, the Senate Intelligence Committee's Phase I report found, according to the Los Angeles Times (7/10/04), that the unclassified public version of the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) was manipulated. "[C]arefully qualified conclusions [in the classified NIE] were turned into blunt assertions of fact." For example, the classified version of the NIE said, "Although we have little specific information on Iraq’s CW stockpile, Saddam Hussein probably has stocked at least 100 metric tons" of certain poisons. The phrase "although we have little specific information" was deleted from the unclassified version. Instead, the public report said, "Saddam probably has stocked a few hundred metric tons of CW agents."

Lie #3: Intelligence agencies around the world, notably some of our biggest current critics, reached the same conclusion we did.

Truth: It is true that many intelligence agencies also believed that Saddam had WMD. What is patently untrue is that they agreed that the proper course of action was to invade. The vast majority of nations, agencies and regular people around the world believed Saddam could be dealt with through diplomatic channels and that the inspections should be allowed to continue. Only we believed we were out of options and had to resort to all-out war.

FACT: THE WORLD WAS NOT IN AGREEMENT WITH BUSH: One frequent talking point of Bush's defenders is that the pre-war intelligence failure was a global failure. "Every intelligence agency in the world, including the Russians, the French...all reached the same conclusion," Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said on CBS's "Face the Nation." Similarly, Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) claimed, "This was a worldwide intelligence failure," citing the French and Russians, among others. In fact, many of our friends and allies believed that, based on the intelligence they had, the threat of Iraq did not rise to the level of justifying immediate force. French President Jacques Chirac said, "[W]e just feel that there is another option, another way, a less dramatic way than war." German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said he did not believe the threat rose to the level requiring the "'ultima ratio,' the very last resort." And Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said, "It is our deep conviction that the possibilities for disarming Iraq through political means do exist."

Source: American Progress Action Fund's Progress Report.

So we'll keep hearing this crap, and we'll have to keep this in mind: It's simply not true.

November 11, 2005
Bush: Dissent is Dangerous

George Bush decided to celebrate Veterans Day by warning critics of his foreign policy that they are helping the enemy.

He respects the service of our veterans, who fought (sometimes) to protect our freedom and for our ideals, by pissing all over those freedoms and ideals.

First, he backhandedly acknowledged that it's "legitimate" to criticize his policy.

"While it's perfectly legitimate to criticize my decisions or the conduct of the war, it is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began."

Yeah, rewriting history. That's bad. Damned if I can think of a single example of his administration doing that. Oh wait, I can think of about a thousand.

He continued...

"...the terrorists are as brutal an enemy as we've ever faced, unconstrained by any notion of our common humanity or by the rules of warfare."

Oh, ha ha. He must not have noticed that his very own Vice President has recently been publicly campaigning to have our intelligence agents expressly unconstrained by the rules of warfare.

Finally, the most shameful, un-American part...

"The stakes in the global war on terror are too high, and the national interest is too important for politicians to throw out false charges. These baseless attacks send the wrong signal to our troops and to an enemy that is questioning America's will."

Speech Transcript

The gall of this man literally makes my stomach turn. Where does he get the balls to say this kind of thing? Not only is it profoundly hypocritical—politicians throwing out false charges? See, for one example, implying that your opponent for Texas governor is gay or that a wounded Vietnam veteran opponent is a traitor—but it goes against everything we're supposed to believe in, not to mention negating the point he tried to make earlier in the very same speech.

What he considers "baseless" is not the measure of tolerable dissent. All dissent is not only tolerable, it should be encouraged. We have no responsibility to put on a happy face and pretend that we all agree in the name of "supporting the troops" or maintaining an appearance of unified will to our "enemies."

Finally, once again, the invasion of Iraq was not about global terrorism, it was about crass and deadly opportunism. If wasn't even sold originally as being about terrorism. Stop rewriting history, you monumental douche.

Hopefully, we as a country are smart enough not to let this rehashed rhetoric sway us from our increasingly common view of this man and his leadership. They're just trying to go back to what worked before. Scare people into submission and accuse critics of giving comfort to the enemy.

Sad, sick, and evil.

November 10, 2005
Wal-Mart Facts

With so much controversy swarming around Wal-Mart these days, someone was nice enough to put up a website with all the facts, called, appropriately, Wal-Mart Facts.com.

Oh, hey! It's Wal-Mart that put up that site! I'm sure they've got all the facts, totally objectively presented!


Unintelligent Design

Boy, I can't wait until this issue goes away. It's really depressing.

There is some good news, in that voters in Pennsylvania voted out all eight school board members who wrote "Intelligent Design" into their science curriculum, but there's bad news too, in that Kansas has gone nuts once again, this time seeing fit to literally redefine the word 'science,' all in the name of religion.

Intelligent design, the idea that life was designed by a higher power, is dividing communities across the country. In Tuesday's election, voters in Dover, Pa., removed from office the school board that wrote intelligent design into the high school curriculum. And Kansas became the fifth state in the nation to question evolution in its curriculum.

The Kansas school board now says high school students should learn that evolution is controversial — including some of its basic tenets, such as monkeys evolving into men.

They also redefined the word "science," no longer limiting it to natural explanations of phenomena. The move opens the door to alternative explanations such as intelligent design.

ABC News

Like all semi-sensible people, I find it very troubling to even have to discuss this. It's so idiotic it makes my head hurt.

The proper response has been, and still is, support for the Flying Spaghetti Monster theory.

All praise FSM. I have been touched by His Noodly Appendage.


More yay.

In a rare victory for environmentalists in the House of Representatives, Republican leaders Wednesday night abandoned a measure to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling.

They also jettisoned a provision to relax a long-standing ban on new energy exploration off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts.

Los Angeles Times

The hyper-right has been blathering on and on about how we "need" this oil to reduce our dependence on foreign imports, but it's crap and they know it. The reserves in ANWR would barely make a dent.

The answer, obviously, is not to find more oil, but to use less.

November 9, 2005
He's Heading for Abe!

God bless the Japanese.

Any culture that puts steak on the heads of its women and then unleashes a hungry lizard on them for televised sport has my undying respect and gratitude. Not because I think women should be made to wear steaks mind you, but because I think they should be eaten by lizards.

steak head

(click image to see video)

We've got The Apprentice and The Biggest Loser, they have Crazy Steak Head Lizard Kill Show. I ask you, who's the real superpower?

November 8, 2005
After months of sagging poll ratings, scandal and general political unrest, the Republicans badly needed some good news in Tuesday's elections for governor. What they got instead was a clear-cut loss in a red state, and an expected but still painful defeat in a blue one.

The Republican loss in Virginia, which President Bush carried with 54 percent just a year ago, came after an 11th-hour campaign stop by Mr. Bush and the kind of all-out Republican effort to mobilize the vote that reaped rich rewards last year.

New York Times


Republicans argued, naturally, that none of this matters at all or means anything. Seen in the trash can was their list of talking points saying that this matters a lot and means everything.

Chairman of the Republican National Committee Ken Mehlman helpfully pointed out that correlation implies causation...

Ken Mehlman, chairman of the Republican National Committee, said that in the last seven elections, the party that had won the White House the year before had lost the race for Virginia governor.

Ah! So they did it on purpose! Or it was just, you know, fate. Virginia always gets together the year after a presidential election and decides to go the opposite way in the governor's race. It's obvious.

Anyway, yay.

For more on our local, Washington state/Seattle yays, check out The Slog.

How to Apologize

Good. Funny. Super.

The Morning News - How To Apologize To Your Girlfriend, by Rosecrans Baldwin.

Quotes Are Fun

Some favorite quotes for the day, as much to push that ire-raising last post down a little as anything else.

"Early morning cheerfulness can be extremely obnoxious." - William Feather

"We are here on Earth to do good to others. What the others are here for, I don't know." - W. H. Auden

"The mind of a bigot is like the pupil of the eye. The more light you shine on it, the more it will contract." - Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

"I felt like poisoning a monk." - Umberto Eco

November 4, 2005
Dirty, Dirty, Dirty

DeLay Asked Lobbyist to Raise Money Through Charity.

Representative Tom DeLay asked the lobbyist Jack Abramoff to raise money for him through a private charity controlled by Mr. Abramoff, an unusual request that led the lobbyist to try to gather at least $150,000 from his Indian tribe clients and their gambling operations, according to newly disclosed e-mail from the lobbyist's files.

The electronic messages from 2002, which refer to "Tom" and "Tom's requests," appear to be the clearest evidence to date of an effort by Mr. DeLay, a Texas Republican, to pressure Mr. Abramoff and his lobbying partners to raise money for him. The e-mail messages do not specify why Mr. DeLay wanted the money, how it was to be used or why he would want money raised through the auspices of a private charity.

NY Times

It's going to be so sweet to watch that goddamn smile get wiped off this asshole's face. How's the rest of your pathetic life in jail sound, Tom? Who's smiling now, bitch?

November 3, 2005
Michael Brown Email Horrow Show

As if the entire country needed another reason to believe that ex-FEMA head Michael Brown is a human being several orders of magnitude lower than, say, someone who puts grated shit on your pastry.

Well, we might not have needed one, but we got one.

A Louisiana congressman has released a bunch of emails from and to Brown during the height of the Katrina crisis. (PDF of emails)

Here's one from one of the only FEMA employees on the ground in New Orleans on Aug. 31.

Pretty stark. "Situation past critical," "dying within hours," "out of food and water." Scary stuff.

Brown's response, in its entirety...

My favorite, though, has to be this email from his press secretary...

"Please roll up the sleeves of your shirt, all shirts. Even the president rolled his sleeves to just below the elbow. In this [crisis] and on TV you just need to look more hard-working."

There's more. It gets worse.

November 2, 2005
More Big Time, Now With Me

Yesterday All Things Considered, and now this!

half life

Laurel Snyder is everywhere!

Oh, incidentally, I contributed an essay to this book, so HOLY CRAP! It's like, a real book there, on Amazon, without my name on it, but it could have, because it will, and I did. Very exciting.

Pre-order, anyone?

November 1, 2005
Flash: Senate Democrats May Have Balls After All
Democrats invoked a rarely used rule today that sent the Senate into a two-hour closed session, infuriating Republicans but producing an agreement for a bipartisan look at whether the Republican leadership was dragging its feet on a promised inquiry into the Bush administration's use of prewar intelligence on Iraq.

The Senate minority leader, Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, caught Republicans by surprise when, with only minutes' warning, he invoked Rule 21 - a move that Republicans said had not been taken in more than 20 years.


Senator Reid said that while the Republican chairman of the intelligence committee, Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas, had promised a thorough inquiry into prewar intelligence, including the way the White House had used or misused it, he had not followed through.

"I demand on behalf of the American people that we understand why these investigations aren't being conducted," Senator Reid said from the Senate floor before the session, "and in accordance with Rule 21, I now move that the Senate go into closed session."

New York Times


Bill Frist helpfully put the whole thing in perspective...

Never before, said Mr. Frist, "have ever I been slapped in the face with such an affront to the leadership of this grand institution."

Never before? Fuck you, Doctor. You bastards have been taking a steaming shit on that "grand institution" every day for the past 5 years.

It's about time the Democrats fought back in this game. The White House and the Republicans, aided by the pathetic media, had been extremely successful in getting all this talk off the front pages in the past couple of days. First they sprung the Alito nomination, then it was bird flu. Good for the Dems for fighting back.

And I'll be very interested to see how this plays out. They're demanding that the investigation into the rationale for a war that's cost us over 2000 American lives and over $200 billion be taken seriously and that the congressional leadership stop stalling. Is that unreasonable? I would venture to guess that most regular people would think it's perfectly reasonable. Anyone who has lost a son or daughter in Iraq even more so.

Daily Kos reports that the Democrats are prepared to call a closed session every day until the investigation moves forward.


The Big Time

My very good friend Laurel Snyder had a commentary air on All Things Considered this evening.

How cool is that?

Hand Off My Internet, Too

Erik over at GeekFun reports on the following immensely disturbing quote from Edward Whitacre, the CEO of SBC Communications, in response to a question about "internet upstarts like Google, MSN, Vonage, and others."

How do you think they're going to get to customers? Through a broadband pipe. Cable companies have them. We have them. Now what they would like to do is use my pipes free, but I ain't going to let them do that because we have spent this capital and we have to have a return on it. So there's going to have to be some mechanism for these people who use these pipes to pay for the portion they're using. Why should they be allowed to use my pipes?

The Internet can't be free in that sense, because we and the cable companies have made an investment and for a Google or Yahoo! or Vonage or anybody to expect to use these pipes [for] free is nuts!

Business Week

As Erik points out, they should be allowed to use "his pipes" because his customers are paying for access to those pipes so that they can then access information and tools on the Internet. If no one was creating compelling content and useful web applications, Whitacre would have no pipes and no customers.

This kind of shit pisses me off quite a lot. This is exactly why the FCC really needs to encourage competition in broadband, instead of helping these companies consolidate their power until they can choke off anyone they want, even content providers. Completely unacceptable.

Personally, I'm glad I don't live in an SBC controlled area.

And another thing, while we're on technology companies and their shoddy treatment of customers—what's up with cell phone companies? I've been thinking recently that I'd like to upgrade my cell phone. The feature I want more than anything else is Bluetooth, so I can sync my contact info between my various computers and my phone, eliminating the current nightmare that is managing my extensive rolodex of influential and powerful names.

Since the cell phone companies treat prospective customers far better than current customers, the most financially sensible thing for me to do is switch carriers. I can get a free or practically free phone, I can keep my phone number, so there's really no downside. (Except that I have more friends and family on Verizon than I would on Cingular, for example, and I get free calls to them.)

This is why they advertise their networks and their "friends & family" plans so heavily. It's the only reason to care which company you use.

They also don't upgrade your plan minutes when they change the pricing. I pay $39.99 for 400 anytime minutes, while the current offer is $39.99 for 450 minutes. When my hosting company raises their storage limits for new customers, my storage automatically increases. Same with my broadband speed at home. When Comcast adds a cable channel to their lineup, I don't have to renew my contract to get access.

So, while the FCC is taking care of the broadband competition thing, they should tear the cell phone companies a new one, too.

End rant.