Thursday, January 31, 2008

Military History for the Hungry

Top!Secret G-woman pointed me here this morning (via Andrew Sullivan). The history of warfare since World War II, performed by signature national dishes (try to figure it out or go here for a cheat sheet on what all the sandwiches and falafels represent):

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Meanwhile, In Kabul

Remember Afghanistan? Land of the Taliban, vacation home of Osama? Place where 300+ of our guys left their blood only to see their president turn his squint to Iraq? Yeah, well, things aren't going so well there, says a study chaired by a former Marine general and a former UN ambassador.
"Afghanistan stands at a crossroads," concludes the study, an advance copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press. "The progress achieved after six years of international engagement is under serious threat from resurgent violence, weakening international resolve, mounting regional challenges and a growing lack of confidence on the part of the Afghan people about the future direction of their country."

A major issue has been trying to win the war with "too few military forces and insufficient economic aid," the study adds.

Too few forces and insufficient aid. This was the war that made sense. This is where Osama and the boys hatched their plans and spread Taliban insanity. This is the administration that has repeatedly told us that leaving Iraq will dishonor the sacrifice of the troops who died there. Bush either thinks the deaths of the soldiers killed in Kandahar province weren't real sacrifices or they aren't worth honoring or dishonoring either way, since the administration has had no compunction about sticking their fingers in their ears and la-la-laing away any recognition that the organization actually behind the 9/11 attacks is regrouping and operating at will both in Afghanistan and right across the border in our great ally state of Pakistan.

Meanwhile, Dear Leader's rosy glasses are duct-taped to his face.

In his State of the Union address, President Bush called Afghanistan a young democracy where children go to school and Afghans are hopeful.
But he didn't mention the violence that has killed 147 students and teachers and closed 590 schools in the last year — almost as many as the 680 the U.S. has built.

Bush said the sending of an additional 3,200 Marines to Afghanistan — a decision made just this month — would help continue the country's successes. But it came only after U.S. officials couldn't persuade other NATO countries to send more soldiers to bolster the 28,000 U.S. troops already there.

This is the war we should have thrown everything at and finished in the first place. This is the actual enemy.

Two More Down

Even the pathologically focused St. Rudy of 9/11 couldn't ignore the tapping of reality against his noggin any more, so he's out of the race. This is very disappointing, as it saddles Mittens Romney with the sole responsibility of providing moments of high comedy from the GOP side.

After yesterday's Florida primary, John "Bomb Bomb Iran" McCain is looking like a front-runner. This is troubling because too many people fall back on the "maverick" meme rather than examining the man's actual voting record or even every other word that falls out of his mouth, which might make this election way the hell closer than it needs to be, even with Obama as the Dem nominee. The best tactic against McCain may be casting him as the Hundred Years' War candidate. He's certainly not doing much to dispel those perceptions so far.

On the Democratic side, John Edwards dropped as well. I was surprised that he didn't hang on through Super Tuesday to see if he might pick up enough delegates to have some sway in deciding the eventual nominee. Will he end up on the ticket? Probably not. Some major policy role in the new administration would be nice.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Values Voters

In honor of the GOP Florida primary today, some actual political content. It's a bit out of date as these things go, but hey, (1) Huckabee's still in the race, and (2) nothing says "Values Voters" like Florida. And vice versa.

Guilty Pleasure Confessional

No, I didn't watch the State of the Union last night, mainly because the man's voice sends me into a rage. I'll read it later this morning.

Besides, it was Monday night, and that means American Gladiators (!) in our house. While flipping around trying to avoid Chimpy on all the broadcast and most of the cable stations, we made the happy discovery that ESPN Classic is playing the original, old-skool late '80s American Gladiators every night at seven! The first season, with its average-Joe contenders in sweatpants getting absolutely flattened by the steroided-up Gladiators, was the best, but the rest of the run with everyone in spandex and big hair is still mighty fine entertainment.

And watching it now only reinforces my utter lack of gaydar back in those halcyon days of my youth; seeing it in my dotage, I suspect all the female Gladiators in the original probably could have competed under the name Lavender Menace. The current crop doesn't ping for me at all.

The event I miss most from the original is Atlasphere (people in big steel hamster balls trying to roll onto scoring pods), and the original Wall was way more challenging than the current version. Joust and Hang Tough have been livened up with a pool of water for the losers to plunge into rather than the pads of the original (maybe next season they'll add piranhas or electric eels to make it even more exciting). But the new Eliminator--the final, obstacle-course event--is completely brutal. It starts with a climb up a wall, a plunge into a pool to swim under fire, and a climb up a 30-ft cargo net. Then an inexplicably pointless and stupid barrel roll thing that most people fall off after one roll. But the next combination--an ill-lubed handbike followed by climbing a pyramid with three-foot steps--appears to suck the gas out of most of the competitors, leaving them in serious pain and unable to truck up the reverse treadmill to the finish line. They crash through the final wall of foam blocks and lie on the mat twitching. Surprisingly, only one person has smacked a forehead into the pipes carrying the gas for the fireball they have to swim under, although the obnoxious chiropractor last night came just short of jumping onto the damn flames.

Now the final eight are set, and I'm all a-twitter. Watching co-host Laila Ali almost makes up for having to listen to Hulk Hogan.

SOU Postgame

The girlfriend squeaked out a one-point victory in the buzzword competetion.


The Girlfriend
extremists 1
American 17
children 12
family/ies 5
security 29
stimulus 0
plotting and planning 0
freedom 21
Total 42
Total 43

Curses. Who knew W was going to be less of a fearmonger than usual?

Monday, January 28, 2008

State of the Union Pregame

Eh. In the off chance that we can stand to watch the speech live--although the girlfriend is flatly refusing and I'm wavering in my confidence in being able to listen to either Chimpy's voice or the maniacal yelping from the right side of the aisle--we held a mini-draft of buzzwords likely to slip W's lips. Loser buys lunch on Friday. The girlfriend chose 'Mericun, stimulus, and family, with the super bonus word of freedom, while I went with the unstoppable combination of extremists, children, and security, with the super bonus plotting and planning.

We are still unsure of how the super bonuses will work.

Projected winner: Boltgirl!

Friday, January 25, 2008


Newly discovered Thing Not To Do When You Don't Want To Feel Like Seven Shades Of Shit: reading old volleys of e-mails fired off to a parent (and the aunt who tried to mediate) during an apparently rocky portion of the coming-out process. Rosy glasses are a survival mechanism--I recognize that now--that allow us to give people one more chance several times over and several times more than they perhaps deserve, so that we someday might reconcile and content ourselves with hazy notions that it wasn't all that bad.


Hmmm. It was that bad. Nasty, hateful sentiments were expressed that, coming from anyone else, would have seen me not hesitate to lay the motherfucker out who dared say such things about either me or my girlfriend. Not so easy to rip your own dad's throat out, I guess, and it's probably best that way since it leaves the door open for redemption. Which has occurred. Which, to be honest, has occurred to the extent that until this morning I have simply focused on how really very good things are now, managing to forget the depths the whole thing shot me to.

I took a couple of classes in college revolving around how our communication frames our reality. I wonder if taking better notes would have left me better prepared.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

In Case Your Right-Wing Relatives Are Having Continuing Reality-Integration Problems

It is official and indisputable (handy thing, that public record): the Bush Administration lied the US into the Iraq War. 935 times. The Center for Public Integrity has produced a searchable database of government false statements about Iraq for your use, should you wish to tell Uncle Ernie exactly how many times a senior official let slip falsehoods about, say, mobile labs (5) or, perhaps, ominous tubes (36). More troubling, the database also tracks the ebb and flow of the tides of false statements within the context of the runup to war, Powell's address to the UN, and the midterm elections. Guess where the spikes fall on the timeline of the past six years. I won't spoil the surprise--just go and see for yourself.

Hillary Haters: Classy to the End

The Clinton-Obama face-clawing match is becoming increasingly distasteful to watch and increasingly disquieting when thoughts turn to how the party is planning on presenting a united front behind whichever candidate gets the nod to go against McCain. But against this unsettling backdrop, thankfully, comes a lone rider who proves yet again that no one does distasteful quite like Republican smear specialists.

In short, GOP shitwad Roger Stone filed papers with the IRS this week to form a 527 organization whose sole purpose is to sell t-shirts with this so witty name and logo (h/t Top!Secret G-woman):

Vote Republican. Because you're never too old for 12-year-old-boy humor.

Get it? Get it? See the subtle design? What's that look like? No, look closer. And see those big bolded letters? Yeah, those. Now put them together and read them out loud. No, do it. C'mon, c'mon... What's that? Yeah! Ahhhhhh ha ha ha ha, you just said "cunt!" Because Hillary's a cunt, get it? And with this shirt you can call her a cunt without coming out and really calling her a cunt, so it's just a slayingly clever acronym that only like-minded sophisticates will understand, wink wink, nudge nudge, and it's sooooo fucking funny that everyone's going to want one and it's gonna go fucking viral, dude! Dude.


Keep it up, GOPers. Did you learn nothing from the Chris Matthews blowback that's at least partially credited with giving Clinton New Hampshire? Misogyny sure seems like fun when you're cowing women into public submission, but it doesn't play so well in the privacy of the voting booth where there's no one standing there with a clenched fist to remind them that they need to grow a sense of humor and quit being so bitchy. Keep spewing this shit and see if you're left dumbfounded by a fuck you vote you never saw coming.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

In Which Chris Rodda Debunks the Christian Nation Resolution

Yesterday I posted about the amazing craptacular House Resolution 888 and bemoaned the amount of time and Jameson's it would take for me to go through a whereas-by-whereas rebuttal. Fortunately, Chris Rodda got a jump on it and has posted two diaries on the subject over at Daily Kos here and here, with far more detail and elegance than I would have been able to pull off.

Settle in when you have the time to devote to reading not just Rodda's excellent piece but the references as well. The lengths to which the Christian Nationists will go to willfully distort truth in service of their ever so humble and holy cause is extraordinary. Original sources: the scourge of revisionists since the beginning of fucking recorded history!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Speaking of Religion and Politics...

Shamelessly ripped from Americablog.

Blogging Suspended Until Barfing Stops

Sorry. I'm fresh off my first reading of the full text of H.R. 888 ("Affirming the rich spiritual and religious history of our Nation's founding and subsequent history and expressing support for designation of the first week in May as `American Religious History Week' for the appreciation of and education on America's history of religious faith"), the latest and boldest Christian Nation resolution to be introduced in the House. Good job I had lunch first, as it's completely killed my appetite for at least the next month, although if I read it one more time lunch may be making an encore appearance.

It will take some time to go through the resolution point by point, but the short version of the rebuttal should go something like Whereas half the Founding Fathers were slave owners, and whereas nonwhites were calculated to be only 3/5 human, and whereas that one time George Wallace called for segregation forever, the United States should get its ass back to slaveholding and trafficking at the earliest possible convenience.

Jesus Haploid Christ. On a Triscuit. House resolutions are nonbinding and traditionally used as goodwill measures to buff up representatives in their constituents' eyes, such as when resolutions are passed noting the 200th anniversary of some prairie town's founding or recognizing the local band director as a great American. No harm greater than an egregious photo op, no foul, right? But once this piece of shit passes with maybe four or five no votes--what congressperson is going to stand up to be counted among the Christian-haters in an election year?--it will swiftly gain mythic proportions and be cited as justification for any bit of fundamentalist Christian local statute or school board decision that comes down the pike.

Mythic is the key there. There is no point beyond which the truth cannot be stretched, no misrepresentation too blatant for the Christian Nation apologists to employ. Quote mining, fabrication, and willful ignorance are the order of the day, and no matter that they seem to bump up pretty hard against that injunction against bearing false witness--it isn't really lying if you're lying for Jesus.

Yes, religion played an important role in society during the natal years of this country. Yes, several Founding Fathers were openly religious, and some of them agitated for an explicitly religious government. But in the end, they cranked out an explicitly nonreligious Constitution, with supporting documents clearly expressing their intent to keep faith and government separate, in order to protect the integrity of both. It doesn't matter what provisions the first Continental Congress made for official prayers, church services, or Liberty Bell inscriptions. They predated the Constitution. And the Constitution does not authorize those official religious acts that happened prior to its ratification. The simple fact that something happened once does not serve as fiat for it to continue into perpetuity.

Oh No

David J. Phillip, Associated Press

Groan. The Packers spent the last three quarters yesterday forgetting how to throw flanker screens and 10-year crossing routes, and pissed away their last best hope when Jarrett Bush forgot the dictum do not attempt to pick up a fumble and run with it, especially in shitty weather. Who knew Eli would have the game of his career? Not me. Poor Wisconsin.

So Super Bowl Sunday now presents the conundrum of rooting against the evil empire of the Patriots, but being required in the process to support a New York team. There's a joke in here somewhere about a blind guy and a deaf guy in a lifeboat with a pig who has a satellite phone, but it's escaping me this morning.

But wait, there's more. Just when Super Bowl Sunday could not become less appealing, well, it does. In a move that should disqualify Fox from ever hosting the big game ever again ever ever, Roger Ailes has decided to pair pregame coverage with pre-Super Tuesday political coverage, Fox-style.

Starting at 9 a.m. Feb. 3, the broadcaster will air a three-hour preview of this year’s steroidal Super Tuesday free-for-all, examining all 22 state primary races. The special news block will kick off with a one-hour edition of Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace, followed by two hours of politics and pigskin coverage hosted by Fox News Channel anchor Shepard Smith.

Adding some regional flavor to the mix, eight reporters from Fox owned-and-operated stations across the country will file stories from the campaign trail, with each correspondent linked to an individual candidate from his or her local market.

Oh, goody. I hope this really is the extent of it, and that earlier rumblings about having to listen to Terry, Howie, and the boys make their picks from the GOP field were simply vile rumors. And Chris Wallace seriously better be limited to that first hour. His smirking mug popping up unexpectedly will be enough for me to heave bottles through the screen.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Huckabee Digging New Holes As Fast As Somebody Can Hand Him New Shovels

In a bid to sew up the Bible-waving, homo-hating, *cough*race-baiting*cough* vote, Mike Huckabee set himself apart from the rest of the GOP field yesterday by going all yee-haw over the Confederate battle flag in first-shots-of-the-Confederacy South Carolina.
"You don't like people from outside the state telling you what to do with your flag," he told an audience in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. "In fact, if somebody came to Arkansas and told us what to do with our flag, we'd tell them where to put the pole."

Some southerners are eating this right up, and put together a couple of radio spots touting Huck's charms:

Notice that the ads are paid for by Americans for the Preservation of American Culture, who are working tirelessly to restore public perception of the virtues of our Confederate Forefathers and Southern Heritage as one of the foundations of American Liberty. At least they recognize that the current public perception of their Confederate forefathers and southern heritage--you know, that whole treason, insurrection, and slavery thing--needs a little work. This whole perception concept seems to be news to Huckabee, who's been winking and nodding his way through the backwoods wet dream wish list all week.

Hey, it's just because the dipshit with the Stars 'n' Bars on his pickup is only proud of being from the south, right? He's not really racist. And the people equating gay marriage with bestiality aren't really dehumanizing and demonizing gays, they're just blissfully in love with their own opposite-sex spouses, right? And the guys who want Biblical law enshrined in the Constitution, well, they don't really want Biblical law, just a little bit, just enough to, uh, dehumanize gays and demonize non-Christians and remind Billy Bob Stars 'n' Bars that he's just as equal as anybody else in America, and, nudge nudge, wink wink, maybe just a little more so.

Mike Huckabee is a douchebag. People are starting to notice. Hope they'll notice in a big way if he carries South Carolina.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Huckabee Dress Code

Might as well pile on while the piling's good. Just in case anyone has forgotten the Huckabee mini-skirt commentary, well, I just happened to come across this tidbit.

That she is completely adorable is irrelevant. Really. No, really.

In Which Mike Huckabee Joins Rick Santorum's Man-On-Dog Fantasy Camp

Gotta hand it to Mike Huckabee--with him, what you see and hear is the unvarnished real deal. As alluded to before, the most troubling thing about him is up for grabs. Is it the content of what he says, or the fact that he blithely says it with no apparent concern for the religious extremism it reveals? A couple of days ago he called for amending the Constitution to bring it in line with what he perceives as God's standards. Yesterday he was asked by to clarify that position (via TPM Election Central).
Beliefnet: Do you think that on issues other than marriage and the life of the unborn that the Constitution should be brought into conformity with the Bible, which is what that quote seemed to suggest?

Huckabee: No, I was specifically talking about those two issues. Those were the only two issues I spoke about in the speech, and that was the point. I’m not suggesting that we say, “Okay, the Bible says you should tithe, so now in the Constitution we’re going to amend it to say everyone tithes.”

Got that? He's not an all-in kind of theocrat after all. Whew! He's only calling for codifying the parts of the Bible that would not unduly personally impact him or the rest of his evangelical brethren. Tithing, shellfish, and polyester blends are back on the table, people! And as for the rest of the sticky wickets tossed up by strict Biblical law--stoning unruly children comes to mind--well, that's just crazy talk. So this is proof positive that Mike Huckabee isn't a crazy Dominionist, just a reasonable buffet theocrat.

And how do reasonable pick 'n' choose theocrats conceptualize the people they would like to address in their Constitutional amendments? Why, they do it like this:

Marriage has historically, as long as there’s been human history, meant a man and a woman in a relationship for life. Once we change that definition, then where does it go from there? ...

Well, I don’t think that’s a radical view to say we’re going to affirm marriage. I think the radical view is to say that we’re going to change the definition of marriage so that it can mean two men, two women, a man and three women, a man and a child, a man and animal.

There you go. Two men or two women in a committed relationship is the exact equivalent of pedophilia. The exact equivalent of bestiality. Huck's proven himself quite adept in encapsulating staggering ranges of ignorance in very short statements. He would be president, but has so little grasp of American law as to be ignorant of the concept of consent. He would be president, but has so little grasp of non-Western culture as to be ignorant of the existence of one man-three women marriages in other countries as we speak. He is a minister, but is so willfully dismissive of the very holy book he wants to thwack the Constitution upside the head with that he forgets its stories of polygamy--even by some of its heroes.

He wants to be president and plans to get there by playing to the very lowest common denominator among people who call themselves Christian, gleefully bearing false witness to suck in every last vote he can. Why stop at man on dog, Huck? Why not make it man on multiple puppies to complete the bestiality-pedophilia-polygamy trifecta?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


Yesterday I called Mike Huckabee a Christian Reconstructionist. That turns out to be inaccurate due to the vagaries of his eschatological orientation (premillenial as opposed to postmillenial). So from now on we'll just be running with "theocrat," which works just fine.

Post-Michigan Romney Reminder

Coincidentally, today's Daily Maddow (from this past May) is Romney-centric. Since the Mittster just took the Michigan primary from John McCain, 39% to 30%, it's a good time for another look.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

YHGTBSM Counter Explodes; Please Hold for Recalibration

That would be the You Have Got To Be Shitting Me counter, and two and a half states into the primary/caucus season mine is starting to sputter whilst emitting troubling wisps of smoke.

Or maybe that's my head. Hard to tell them apart these days.

Why? Oh, no reason, really, just that affable good ol' bass-pluckin' boy Mike Huckabee showing his Reconstructionist leanings more blatantly than any serious candidate in recent memory.
"I have opponents in this race who do not want to change the Constitution," Huckabee told a Michigan audience on Monday. "But I believe it's a lot easier to change the Constitution than it would be to change the word of the living god. And that's what we need to do -- to amend the Constitution so it's in God's standards rather than try to change God's standards so it lines up with some contemporary view of how we treat each other and how we treat the family."

Set aside, for the moment, the instant failing grades this statement gives him in both US Civics and History of Religion, although that's troubling considering that he claims the dual job titles of governor and ordained minister. Let's just talk about judgment. Did he not realize his microphone was on and that cameras were rolling and that this little thing called Teh Intertubez would grab onto this asinine statement to fling it across Kingdom Come? Worse yet, did he not care?

There's coded language and there's blatant preaching to the choir. Right wingers have become ever bolder in open use of language that's not so coded any more--states' rights and Macaca, anyone?--but when Mike Huckabee stands up and openly calls for a complete rewriting of the country's fundamental document so as to be in line with conservative Christian dogma, apparently without fear of being labeled anything more frightening than "honest," those of us who prefer that our laws be based on secular legal precepts rather than firebrand Bible banging should take notice.

Watch the video and see if you can get through it without reaching through your monitor to strangle both Joe "What can I say? I like him" Scarborough and Mika "wifely submission is the basis of marriage" Brzezinski.

Hey, Did You Hear Edwards Is Rich?

The print media, at least, do seem to have it in for John Edwards. The Daily Star finally got around to running his profile in their daily series this morning, under this head courtesy of McClatchy (!):

Why is it ringing hollow? Because he's running as a populist, railing against classism and wealth disparity, while--wait for it--being a rich man himself. In a nutshell, because he's rich himself but speaking for the poor (or, alternately constructed, because he's speaking for the poor but rich himself), he's a hypocrite.


He did come from a poor mill family. He did transfer to far less expensive NC State after failing to earn a football scholarship at Clemson. He did make a fortune as a malpractice lawyer. He did get that famous $400 haircut. All of these things are true, but that doesn't mean they automatically cancel each other out. Unless, of course, you rely on a GOP chairman to connect the dots for you.

"The problem is that he has taken as his signature issue (poverty), something he hasn't shown a great deal of background or interest in," said Jack Hawke, a former North Carolina Republican Party chairman. "It's hard to understand his conversion."

The very next section in the story?

Involved in helping the poor

But Edwards' involvement in social issues is deeper than his critics give him credit for.
Before entering politics, he was heavily involved in Urban Ministries, a local program that helps the poor.

He and his wife, Elizabeth, also spent several million dollars creating two after-school learning labs primarily to serve poor children at two North Carolina high schools.

This would have been far a better choice for a lede, as it better sets up the contradiction between perception and policy and has the potential to reel in readers whose only knowledge of John Edwards is the Breck Girl image that's been foisted onto him. Unfortunately, it's buried in the middle of the article, well after the jump to page 4 that readers may or may not have made, where it's no competition for the 24-pt bold headline stating that his actual material and policy work rings hollow due to perception. No, the third paragraph says, he doesn't wear $2000 suits, but he did get that $400 haircut. Apparently only the poor can credibly fight for the poor in America. And we all know how far that's going to fly in a country where being a multimillionaire is a de facto requirement for running a serious presidential campaign.

Monday, January 14, 2008

The Crux of the Problem

Another morning in Tucson, another letter in the Daily Star from a pissed-off retiree:
Steam Pump Ranch a money pit
Re: the Jan. 3 article "Keeping gate open at old ranch."
The Steam Pump preservation project is a hole in the desert in which the Oro Valley Town Council is pouring our tax dollars. Most of the people who live in Oro Valley came from somewhere else. I cannot imagine that many people beyond the misguided Town Council have an overriding interest in a decomposing ranch where the caretaker has been forced in live in a "former outdoor barbecue . . . where a hole in the ceiling hints of long-sustained rain damage."
Steam Pump Ranch, funded at $4.5 million, is an example of the Town Council's financial boondoggling, which is dwarfed by the millions of tax dollars they want in yet another bond issue for a huge new park. I urge Oro Valley taxpayers and voters to carefully consider any future bond initiatives in the next election cycle.
Louis Fashion
Retired, Oro Valley

This is a fascinating bit of logic. If the majority of a population came from somewhere else, the history of a place is rendered invalid. Actually, it's a somewhat refreshing departure from the usual logic in evidence in Oro Valley, which can generally be boiled down to no scrap of land shall be left unpaved so long as there is a dollar to be made and the existing inter-Walgreen's distance exceeds 100 yards. You can see the "we're not from here, so screw it" mentality all over the northern end of the Tucson Basin, where thousands upon thousands of acres of the Sonoran Desert ecosystem, and its component wildlife habitats, archaeological sites, historic sites, and pristine scenery have been bladed and built up into a doppelganger of southern California.

Never mind that at least some of Oro Valley's immigrant population (no, not that kind of immigrant; this is Oro Valley, after all, and those people merely work here, shhhhh) is reproducing, given the rate at which elementary schools are popping up all over the northwest, and that those children will technically be "from here" and may even one day develop a curiosity about the history of their home--taxpayer money must be used only for building new roads to accomodate new developments built on top of irreplacable landscapes. Oh, and also for the $172 million that's currently been paid for the town to access Colorado River water, since the metastasizing stucco-and-red-tile housing developments and attendant golf courses are drawing down the levels of the town's wells by over five feet a year.

You may not be from here originally, Mr. Fashion, but you are here now, and you don't get to declare the history, prehistory, or natural history of the Tucson Basin moot simply because it gets in the way of converting Oro Valley to a scaled-down replica of LA, or a scaled-up version of whatever retirement community dreamland was sold to you in a brochure.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Random Weekend Jottings

JordanCornblog likes Boltgirl! I am thrilled. Go read her Granite State perspectives on politics and soccer and say something nice in the comments.

In other news, maybe my long-rumored retirement from soccer will be put off for another season. Yesterday saw a good afternoon at the gym, followed by a pretty decent performance at center mid in a co-ed game, followed by beers with the boys in the parking lot, capped off with a hot shower and a couple o' nips o' Jameson before bed. I woke up at 3 in the morning with the wonderful opposite experience of many other early-morning awakenings where I wondered for a split second if the previous night really had happened that way--only this time I was elated to confirm with the memory that it did indeed happen that way. And I was so happy I didn't mind lying awake for the next hour trying to get back to sleep. A testament both to the depths to which my game had fallen and the level of credibility I managed to pull out of my ass last night.

Anyway. A short hike this afternoon to see the water in Bear Canyon and Molino Basin, a few minutes basking on a rock overhang in the warm sun with the entire canyon all to myself, and life is good.

And, of course, there's a Daily Maddow for today.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Oh, Like You Didn't See This Coming?

Daily Maddow. Just because I can.

Et Tu, Cranium?

We are a rather Cranium-centric household. We play a lot. We have been known to string together all three boards, joined at the corners, for epic all-versions Cranium battles. Even this dour, humorlous feminist has been known to crack a smile while pantomiming "vibrate" without resorting to the obvious. So imagine my consternation when this ad landed in my inbox:

Cranium Bloom: Enforcing Traditional Gender Roles From Day One!

Look closely at the kids on the boxes. Seek & Find at the Zoo? It's a boy. Count & Cook? Shopping? Do you even need to look closely to tell which gender is associated with the last two? Because men never cook. And if they do, they certainly don't shop for the food. Seeking/finding animals? Not for girls. There might be bugs or peril involved, for heaven's sake. Going into the actual Bloom website doesn't tilt the scales much toward the middle. Generic "neighborhood" activities are split between boys and girls, but the other Seek & Find option involving animals (at the park) shows a squirrel being found by... a boy.

I'm disappointed, since Cranium's motto is something along the lines of everyone finding their area to shine in. This is a game that asks you to represent abstract concepts in purple clay, for cryin' out loud. Would it have been too much of a stretch for them to show a little boy wielding a wooden spoon on a box lid? Or maybe it's such an obvious pander that it's satire. Yeah, that must be it.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Just Because

This is nine months old and apropos of nothing, but it's going up just because she's smart as a whip, clever, well-spoken, incisive, and fearless, and provides a bright beacon of sanity cutting through the miasma currently passing as political coverage these days. Thank god Olbermann and Abrams have her on the TV so frequently; when MSNBC decides to hire her as a regular fixture, I will buy a separate, dedicated DVR. Until then, thank god for Teh YouTube and enough backlogged video to provide a couple weeks' worth of daily Maddowness.

She's also completely fucking adorable. I melt.

Grandma Turns 90

We interrupt today's political blatherings to wish Grandma a happy 90th birthday. Which was actually yesterday, but I did remember to call and the card got there on time, so everything's good.

Grandma at 90, in my dad's kitchen.

Grandma at 6, on a cake.

Grandma is still undecided about which way to go in the Illinois primary. She's leaning toward Obama but still considering Clinton; she likes Edwards but thinks he doesn't have a prayer; she's not overly enthused by the possibility of Obama going with Webb as a running mate given his forcefulness and the way Cheney has redefined the vice-presidency. I gave her a copy of The Godless Constitution: A Moral Defense of the Secular State and she loves it. She's a big Jefferson fan. Hell, she's old enough to have sat at his knee taking notes. No, not really.

90 years, three sons, six grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren later, she's still terrorizing the choir and PTO at St. Joe's on a regular basis. We will chat about the developing presidential race next week. Love you, Grandma! Rock on!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

And I'm Not Even a Hillary Fan

But this shit seriously needs to stop; at this rate I'm not going to have many people left to believe in. Olbermann piled on Monday night in the aftermath of the voice-catch Complete Fucking Female Emotional Breakdown, Whut Whut with a segment helpfully entitled Clinton Cries, Then Attacks Obama. The video, being the actual video from the celebrated emotional moment, continues to fail to show "crying" as it is conventionally understood--say, as when Mitt Romney does it three times in three weeks on the campaign trail--and the "very same sentence" that purports to contain an immediate personal attack on Senator Obama sounds to these tender ears like any other statement any other candidate has made regarding readiness to take over the top job:
Clinton (from video):But some of us are right and some of us are wrong. Some of us are ready and some of us are not. Some of us know what we will do on Day One and some of us really haven't thought that through enough.
Olbermann (in studio, ominously): It gets worse...

Worse than what? Worse than that clip you just played? Uh, gee, Keith. Given how low you just set the "bad" bar, well, not hard to do. In your smoking gun video, Clinton makes very general, non-personal statements that do not reference Obama either directly by name or obliquely as "other Democrats" or "that one guy Chris Matthews worships." There is plenty of stuff in Hillary's record and stated positions to give you reservations. Don't manufacture shit that simply isn't there, and then have the temerity to allegedly back up your bullshit by playing video that doesn't come close to illustrating what you want your viewers to believe it does. You pillory O'Reilly on a near-nightly basis for this kind of dishonesty.

Men think sexism doesn't exist like whites think racism doesn't exist. Olbermann joins Edwards in the ranks of guys I thought I respected who have now seriously pissed me off. Tom Toles of the Washington Post gets it. I'd like to see Obama prove he gets it by telling his supporters both in and out of the media that he'd prefer to win this race on issues of substance, thank you very much, without the help of bigotry of any stripe.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

News Flash: Rudy Cried Once Too! Guess When?

There is no question that cannot be answered by it, no parallel that cannot be drawn to it, no shamelessness so great as to preclude whipping it out. 9/11. The only phrase anyone needs. Also cures migraines when applied directly to the forehead. (via Shakesville)

In Which Hillary Can't Win for Losing

Well, goddamn. The huge news yesterday was that Hillary got choked up while talking about drawing strength from the passion she feels for the country and the need to improve it. Not sobbing, blubbering choked up, but damp-eyed, quavering-voiced choked up. Oh noes, people howled, ain't that just like a typical woman to get all emotional? Can't have that in the White House.

That was followed up by this from a subsequent campaign appearance in New Hampshire:
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton was about to deliver a line that has become a centerpiece of her campaign since her loss in Iowa.

“Everybody in this race is talking about change. But what does that mean?”

“Iron my shirt!” yelled a man, who stood up in the middle of a jammed and stuffy auditorium at a high school in Salem, N.H., and held up a yellow sign with the same text. He repeated it over and over.

You know, iron my shirt, bitch? The sign young guys think is Teh Funny to hold up at feminist rallies? The new alternate to shut up, bitch? That one. So a couple guys hold the sign and chant the chant, Hillary handles it without breaking stride, making a reference to the glass ceiling she's trying to break through here, and... the majority of online commenters are convinced she staged the whole thing.

Yep, her campaign did plant that questioner in Iowa. Bad move. And they've committed other bits of asshattery, of which going to Barack Obama's kindergarter teacher for evidence of early presidential ambition is the most egregious example. And now she's reached the point that many people refuse to cede even a shred of credibility to any display by or against her, no matter how genuine or not-planned it might turn out to be.

Anyone remember Mitt Romney talking a couple weeks ago about being so overcome with emotion on learning that his church had decided black people are humans too that he had to pull his car over since he was blinded by tears? Did he catch any backlash on that for being too quick to dissolve into tears at the slightest provocation? Well, no, he caught hell for exceeding most people's bullshit thresholds with the elements of the story that don't conform to temporal or spatial reality. But not for the emotion itself.

I listened to a John Edwards consultant spin this on Rachel Maddow's show as proof of Hillary's unfitness for the Oval Office, and cringed as my regard for Edwards plunged straight into the tank. Well, if she cracks under the pressure of the campaign, what's she gonna do when something really big happens? Hey, Mudcat, or whatever the fuck your real name is, this wasn't "cracking under pressure." It was a wholly appropriate and in no way excessive display of patriotic emotion. It pisses me off when the front man for a candidate who positions himself--and who I believe really is--a populist falls back on the easy if dishonest meme of female=weak. Maddow was flabbergasted herself. And the dude just would not let it go.

So we would appear to have dual lessons being reinforced here. One is that the old saw your grandparents kept whacking you with when you were a kid, you know, the one that goes it's easier to maintain your reputation than to repair it? Yeah, that's pretty much true. And the other one, that holds that a woman who shows no emotion is a stone-cold bitch, while a woman who shows any emotion is a fragile, irrational creature who shouldn't be entrusted with Really Big Responsibilities? Unfortunately, that one got propped up yet again too.

By the way, it turns out that Hillary didn't stage the Iron My Shirt incident at all. A couple of Boston shock jocks did. Will her quick, on-her-feet, coolly dispassionate dispatching of them buy her back any steely resolve cred with the No Crying In Politics faction? Nope, didn't think so.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Back in the Saddle

God, that took long enough. The annoying bug that hopped into my throat the day after Christmas ended up inviting several friends and relatives along for an extended tour of my entire respiratory system. This morning they seem to be in the process of packing up the last of their bags and waiting at the desk for the hotel shuttle. All I can say is that motherfucker better be on time. Two weeks away from the office database and the maps and tables strategically piled on my desk or taped to the walls has not advanced the chapter I am trying to write.

Today, however, science will be going on.

Quick roundup of things to think about while sussing out the details of how folks living in A.D. 950 in Arizona organized themselves to crank out arrowheads and distribute them across the state without the aid of internet ordering, trucks, or NAFTA:

Our traditional primary system and Americans' predisposition to be bandwagon jumpers will combine to be Hillary's downfall. Obama came out of the blocks fast and she's into negative mode before New Hampshire has even happened. Of course, that model probably doesn't apply to the Republican side, unless they really are going to go for a Pastor President Huckabee across the board. Weird.

Too. Many. Bowl. Games. And way too much time now elapsing between the old payoff of New Year's Day (cultural memory is very hard to overcome, after all) and tonight's national championship game. It might not have been so bad without the baffling entre'act of the International and GMAC bowls and their forgettable matchups. What are Ball State and Bowling Green doing in January bowls, other than serving as cannon fodder for barely-top-tier teams to set records against? I don't know either. Put the feckin' championship game back on January 1 as the last bowl of the day, and then let us get on with conference basketball.

Stewart and Colbert are back tonight, but as WGA members are banned from writing their own material. I don't know whether to watch or Tivo and wait for the reviews. Either way I'm mildly hopeful but still cringing.

Friday, January 04, 2008

I Do Not Heart Huckabee

I am of two minds this morning. One thinks that Mike Huckabee suddenly being the Republican front-runner is the best news EVER, since once the campaign starts in earnest, the crap swirling around him on the blogs (his applauding the Southern Baptist convention for telling women to submit to their husbands, his major fundraiser who's in favor of doctors being barred from working on the sabbath and compelled to preach to their patients under a Christian theocracy, his psychotic dog-hanging son) will have to hit the mainstream media and will have to scare even the most brain-dead American voters away from him. Right? Right? Then the other mind chimes in and says, yeah, and all that shit makes him the absolute wet dream of the average brain-dead American voter who has a vague sense of being a persecuted Christian because Bill O'Reilly and innumerable forwarded e-mails from people like my brother tell him he is.

Come one, mind one. I'm pulling for you.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

UA President Favors Domestic Partner Benefits; Heads Predictably Explode

Mercy me, this must be why I don't get too worked up about New Year's: the calendar may change, but all the shit stays the same. University of Arizona President Robert Shelton issued a statement supporting the proposed extension of domestic partner benefits to all state employees (currently, only Pima County and the cities of Tucson, Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Tempe have DP benefits). The story was posted on the Daily Star's website around midnight; conservative commenters promptly jumped onboard with the usual it's-a-choice clamoring, slippery slope fear-mongering, and bestiality parallels. Spelling and grammar again suffered heavy casualties.
I'm sure Sodom and Gomorrah had similar statutes in effect when they were destroyed. And they probably had their own version of the ADS to support it.

What concerns me is that ultimately, if, as and when homosexualists triumph in their quest for marriage "equality," other types of social and sexual deviants---polygamists, plural marriage advocates, and so forth---will have an undeniable argument, based on the Constitution's equal protection clause, for similar treatment. The long term societal costs will be catastrophic.

Being "Q" is a mental illness that with the right treatment can be "cured". The humane race is the only species on earth that practices this deviant and immoral behavior. Thay want to teach our children to be "politically correct" and except their illness as normal, which it isn't.

Can't wait until the sociology professor who's into bestiality tries to get dental coverage for his mule.

Perhaps the commenting tide will turn once people who actually have jobs get online this morning, although wading through that much muck is enough to put you off your feed for a week. No date has been set for a public hearing, and the law isn't expected to be in force until October, so we have quite a bit of slime-slinging to look forward to.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

New Year, Old Cold

2008 kicked off amazingly like 2007 ended, namely, with a nasty sore throat and sinus situation. I had hoped to usher in the new year with something nice like a hike, but that ain't happening. Hit a couple of buckets of balls instead and came home to collapse.

I do not resolve. Why set myself up for failure? Things I might think about doing better this year than I did last include adventurous cooking, work productivity, high-impact cardio workouts, and presenting a smiling visage to the world.

Like any of that shit's gonna happen.

Anyway. The coolest present I got for Christmas is a Kodak digital photo frame, the nice shiny black eight incher with internal memory and slots for memory cards and USB drives. I spent a couple of hours sorting through a few years worth of photos and relabeling them on the USB drive so they'll be in perfect order... and the frame seems to be stuck on random mode. Whatever. It's still wicked cool and looks great, particularly in a darkened room. The funnest presents to give were magnets I made on CafePress with a posterized version of my grandpa's 1943 army portrait, which I gave to all my family members, and a nicely framed print of a polar bear playing with a sled dog in Manitoba, which I gave to my girlfriend.

Iowa hits in two days. I will marshal my energies for that coverage. I'm feeling Edwards these days.