Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Tuesday, No Less Muddled Than Monday

I don't even pretend to understand what's going on any more.

Barack Obama

Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill. drives to the basket against North Carolina's Tyler Hansbrough during a basketball game in Chapel Hill, N.C., on Tuesday. AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

My love for the Tarheels makes me go squeeeeeee when I see this photo and immediately start wondering exactly how far Psycho T rejected that well-meaning layup, as well as how fucking honored Obama would have to be to have had the opportunity for his offering to be so impressively swatted away. Unless T took pity on an old dude and let him score, that is.

But Obama taking it to the hole! Who can't love that?

Many people, apparently. Today's AP/Ipsos poll shows Obama in a dead heat with McCain, while Clinton beats Bomb Bomb by a non-sweat-inducing nine-point margin. Well, okay; she's my third choice of the original Democratic Big Three, but if she spanks McCain, that's all that matters, right?

But wait. Richard Mellon Right-Wing Conspiracy Scaife endorsed her in the Pennsylvania primary, and Rush has been exhorting his minions to switch parties for the duration of their states' primaries in order to vote her into the nomination, so is this a reality poll, or a poll of the reality righties are attempting to trowel into existence, or a poll reflecting how they've already managed to do that within the brains of actual Democrats?

Meanwhile, payday is resolutely refusing to come any sooner than Friday, completely disdainful of the fact that I'm already pushing $500 in the hole, borrowed against my tax refund, for no more entertaining reasons than gasoline, groceries, medical bills, and truck repairs. The stimulus check may or may not have been direct-deposited today, and it seems to matter less and less in the grand scheme of things. Initial ideas about keeping it in reserve along with the tax refund, to be parceled out month by month to pay for the boy's school tuition and occasional mechanical necessities, have been blasted into shreds.

What's important today in the world of presidential politics, once Obama's toweled down? Whether he's honestly repudiating Jeremiah Wright or just doing it out of political expediency. Wright flapped his yap repeatedly over the weekend, which is suspected to have contributed to Clinton's little surgelet in the polls. Please. Let. It. Go. I don't give a shit whether Wright's a harmless crazy uncle or an advance scout for the legions of Satan. I want the Democrats to hammer McCain on this crap-ass economy and incomprehensible national debt that's yet another legacy of this fucked up war the administration has tried to downplay as surely as it's insisted that the bodies of fallen soldiers come home in the middle of the night with no press coverage.

Oh, and while you're at it, Democrats? Just pick somebody already, yeah? You had this one in the bag, have had it in the bag since 2004, and you're pissing it away again. And John McCain's flying around in his wife's jet, laughing all the way to the inauguration.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Random Noise Friday

Yesterday was borderline surreal for no better reason than the combination of a nearly empty office and a nearly fully stuffed head. Thanks, palo verde trees! Your pollen is Teh Awesome!







The prime culprit.

The office was empty because, as Homer noted, we have the best boss in the world, who occasionally takes us on paid all-day field trips. This one was to the Coyote Mountains, and it sounds like it was lovely (it looks lovely, too; Homer's pictures here), but I didn't go due to parenting obligations. That was probably a good thing, since the aforementioned palo verde allergies had my brain so nonfunctional I repeatedly typed "discussion" as "dicsuccion" throughout the day. Which is really not something I'm all that into.

Item the first: Extra Sugar-Free Gum is pushing itself as "the five-calorie snack" to help you lose weight. Excuse me? Gum is a snack? A five-calorie snack? Jesus. There are probably more calories than that in the drool I produce thinking about actual snacks such as tacos and cheesesteaks. Maybe swallowing the gum clogs your stomach and nauseates you to the point that you don't feel hungry any more.

Item the second: OMG, Lost.

Item the third: The Olympic torch hasn't been put out by protesters for nearly three weeks now. Step it up, Indonesia!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

In Which We Just About Give Up

Wow, so much good news in the Daily Star this morning. Where shall we begin?

How about with this headline? Dems glum over Clinton win. The paper's website inexplicably fails to link to the print story, instead shooting you to an AP piece about Clinton still being an underdog, so I am for the moment unable to provide precise quotes detailing the ways the Democrats are eating each other alive, or how Obama failed to capture the support of "certain kinds of voters," which apparently means the kind of white Democrats who told exit pollsters that they'll either vote for McCain if Obama gets the nomination (25%) or not vote at all (15%), which, in this election, are the same thing. Unless they're Catholic, of course, at which point the crossover voting jumps to fifty percent. Awesome, white Pennsylvanians! Enjoy your Miracle Whip sandwiches under the McCain administration!

If that doesn't depress you face-down into your Wheaties, we can move on to further stories of how the adminstration supports the troops, with this one: Senators want VA official out; suicide cover-up try is alleged.
Two Democratic senators on Tuesday called for the chief mental-health official of the Veterans Affairs Department to resign, saying he tried to cover up the rising number of veteran suicides.

Sens. Daniel Akaka of Hawaii and Patty Murray of Washington state said Dr. Ira Katz, the VA's mental-health director, withheld crucial information on the true suicide risk among veterans.

A number of Democratic senators said they were appalled at e-mails showing Katz and other VA officials apparently trying to conceal the number of suicides by veterans. An e-mail message from Katz disclosed this week as part of a lawsuit that went to trial in San Francisco starts with "Shh!" and contends 12,000 veterans a year attempt suicide while under department treatment.

Shh.

And with those three little letters, Dr. Katz sums up the Bush administration's view of the armed forces. Soldiers sure are handy props to trot out when Democrats need shaming in the eyes of the voters, but when they are physically or psychologically injured to the point that even the Army is leery of sending them back for a second or third or fourth rush into the breach, they need to be stuffed under the bed or hidden behind the curtains. Fixing people takes money--far less money than, say, nation-building among sworn blood enemies groups of people that have no interest in forming a nation together, but why split hairs?--and money can't be spent on people. Awesome, VA!

In the face of the US being led finally and irretrievably into hell by Bomb Bomb McCain and US troops being swept under the rug when they try to kill themselves, the third item this morning might look not so significant, but it is. House gives initial OK to bid to ban gay marriage, again. This one goes beyond the usual why the fuck are they bringing this up again because of the procedural crap Phoenix Republicans pulled to get it through the Arizona House and into the Senate.

The procedure maneuver used by supporters of the new version of the gay-marriage ban effectively blocks opponents from trying to amend the measure in the Senate.

The verbiage is attached to an unrelated bill that already has been approved by the Senate. That means senators have only two choices: Approve the House-passed version of the measure or reject it, with no opportunity to amend it.

What unrelated bill is it attached to? SCR1042, which would establish March 29 (the date in 1973 of the withdrawal of the last US troops from South Vietnam) as Vietnam Veterans' Day in Arizona. How many state senators will want to vote against that one solely to keep the utterly unrelated gay-bashing rider off the ballot in the fall? Uh huh. Thought as much. Hey, Arizona Republicans: fuck you. Just fuck you. And any Democrats who vote for this? Fuck you too.

And with that, the day can only look up from here.


Monday, April 21, 2008

4-0! Ha Ha Ha! Wanna Buy a Car?

Well, I guess I'm glad they can laugh about it now.

On Flag Pins

Yes, the debacle that was the ABC Democratic presidential debate has been thoroughly shredded, Gibson and Stephanopolous flogged, the spectacle decried as the absolute nadir of American electoral media coverage to date, ever, in the whole entire history of the country. Word.

One small thing has continued to bother me, a literally small thing. That would be the roughly half-inch by half-inch cloissone mouse that roared, the American flag pin whose conspicuous absence from Barack Obama's lapel has had the power to completely derail conversations about policy and voting records and reduce the debate before two pivotal primaries to why do you hate America?

Obama's response to the inane videotaped question from a Latrobe, PA voter was impressively long, and hit salient points such as him actually, in fact, being pro-America, but he missed a huge opportunity to tell the flag idiots to STFU. A recap, in case you missed it the first time:
NASH MCCABE (Latrobe, Pennsylvania): (From videotape.) Senator Obama, I have a question, and I want to know if you believe in the American flag. I am not questioning your patriotism, but all our servicemen, policemen and EMS wear the flag. I want to know why you don't.

What his answer should have been, short version: Wearing a Stetson doesn't make you a cowboy. Next question.

What it should have been, long version:

I do not wear a flag lapel pin on a regular basis because I believe doing so creates an unnecessary and foolish distraction from the substance of our work as policymakers.

Good policy is not negated by the absence of a flag pin on its authors' lapels, any more than the authorship of bad policy is exonerated by the presence of a pin. What matters more? That I spoke out against the Iraq war, or that I did so with unadorned lapels? That I voted to increase funding for veterans' healthcare, or that I did so with unadorned lapels?

What matters more? That George Bush led our country into an unjustified war that has claimed the lives of over four thousand of America's best and brightest, and sent tens of thousands more home with grievous injuries, and sent hundreds of thousands home with emotional and psychological wounds the VA refuses to acknowledge, much less treat, or that he did so with a flag pin on his lapel?

What matters more? That the national security adviser, attorney general, and vice-president of the United States of America held meetings in the White House during which they discussed the specific techniques of torture they would authorize for use against our prisoners, in open defiance of both the Geneva Conventions and basic human decency? Or that they were wearing flag pins on their lapels while they did it? What matters more?

I do not wear a flag pin because I believe fervently in representing the country and constitution that flag stands for on a daily basis. I do not wear a pin because I believe it is far more important to live the flag you ask if I "believe in" than wave it in a charade not backed up by the substance of my actions.

Patriotism is not empty window dressing. Patriotism is a behavior. And a preoccupation with window dressing to the exclusion of real issues when you're picking a presidential candidate is the antithesis of patriotism.

How much longer is this crap going to continue? Actually, the real question--assuming Obama does get the nomination, if he and Clinton haven't gnawed each other to tiny piles of bone dust before then--is whether he's going to finally have a STFU moment and put this ridiculous question to rest the very first time the McCain camp raises it, or if he's going to continue to attempt to talk it out with reason and reserve. Since neither of those attributes resonate well with the electorate in general, I'm hoping for a mini explosion.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Arizona Legislature Notices Differences Between US and Turkey, Springs Into Action

Academics and artists in Turkey have been having so much fun with their country's laws prohibiting the denigration of Turkey or Turkishness that the Arizona statehouse decided to jump on that hot bandwagon, passing a bill yesterday that eliminates state funding for schools whose courses "denigrate American values and the teachings of Western civilization."
SB 1108 also would bar teaching practices that "overtly encourage dissent" from those values, including democracy, capitalism, pluralism and religious toleration. Schools would have to surrender teaching materials for review by the state school superintendent, who could withhold state aid of districts that broke the law.

Mercy. Could there possibly be more to this, some undercurrent that might explain the rush to adopt such convoluted language that simultaneously lauds pluralism and tolerance whilst quashing dissent? Why, yes. Yes there is.

Another section of the bill would bar public schools, community colleges and universities from allowing organizations to operate on campus if they are "based in whole or in part on race-based criteria." Rep. Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, said that provision is aimed at MEChA — Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztl├ín — a student group he described as racist.

And there it is. Bye-bye, American Indian Studies Graduate Student Council! Later, Armenian Student Association! Never mind that nondiscrimination policy you're required to have in your club constitutions! You just happen to be in the way of us getting rid of the Mexicans!

The stunning thing, really, isn't so much that Pearce crafted this legislation with the sole aim of eliminating a Hispanic-pride student group and TUSD Raza studies coursework he and his Tucson allies find distasteful, as that they're being so amateurishly open and klutzy about it. Even their quote mining sucks.

Tucson resident Laura Leighton read lawmakers sections of some books used in classrooms. She said the sections promote hatred...

Leighton had specific problems with a text titled "Occupied America," a book touted by its publisher as examining Chicano history from the coming of the Spanish in 1519.

She read one line that said "kill the gringos." Another talked about a plan to take back the U.S. Southwest and deport all the Europeans. A closer look at the book, though, showed the line about the gringos was a quote from someone who was referenced. And that plan to take back the area was not urging current action but instead describing one pushed by Mexico in 1915.

Feh. 1915? Details, details! I wonder if Laura Leighton equally opposes teaching the history of the US westward expansion, particularly the bits about the federal policy of exterminating Native Americans, or that whole African slave trade thing, or if "promoting hatred" only counts when it's done by people who are not European-Americans. Of course, that begs the question of whether anyone pushing this dreck has given it a second's critical thought. Another Valley of the Sun Republican weighs in with the answer:

Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Gilbert, said lawmakers are entitled to regulate the use of tax money taken from Arizonans and "demand that our publicly funded education teach and inculcate our youth, our children, with the values that make America what it is, the greatest and most free nation in the world."

So long as you don't try to talk about issues not on the approved Free Thought List, that is. Or run a club based in part on race-based criteria, of course. Keep it classy, Repubs!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Clinton, Obama Attempt to Out-Jesus Each Other at Faith Forum

The inanity is summed up nicely in a single sentence.
Earlier in the day, Clinton seemed frustrated when a reporter asked when she had last attended church or fired a gun.

Because you gotta do both for Jesus, Malchus be damned. She sputtered in response that she'd gone to church on Easter, and "that is not what this is about." But she calls Obama "elitist" for voicing the simple truth that lots of disaffected small-town flyover voters consistently and demonstrably vote against their own economic self-interest, choosing instead to cling to religion, guns, and the gays. And she went on to compare Obama to the last two Democratic nominees, who she called "out-of-touch" with ordinary Americans and their concerns. It would probably be just a little too catty to bring up that $109M tax return at this juncture, so I'll restrain myself.

The forum itself appears to have been designed to tease out how often the candidates read the Bible and how their beliefs will inform policy decisions. Given this, it's unclear why Clinton agreed to show up at all. In the personal witnessing category, Obama pretty clearly outperformed her.

"Religion is a bulwark, a foundation when other things aren't going well," Obama said. "That's true in my own life, through trials and tribulations." ...

Clinton declined repeatedly to describe her personal faith and how it informs specific decisions, citing "the way I was raised" and implying that she keeps such matters to herself.

Those were just the opening acts, though. On the real money question, the best answer probably depends on the camp you're in, and if you're in my camp you're not thrilled with either. When, pray tell, does life begin? Short doomed-to-be-sound-bite answers first:"

I believe the potential for life begins at conception," Clinton said.

Asked whether life begins at conception, Obama said he did not know the answer.

On sound bites alone, Clinton has the anti-abortioneers salivating. Obama has them rolling their eyes. Put the money quotes in context, though, and there is a reversal of sorts. Clinton:

"For me, it is also not only about a potential life. It is about the other lives involved. . . . I have concluded, after great concern and searching my own mind and heart over many years . . . that individuals must be entrusted to make this profound decision, because the alternative would be such an intrusion of government authority that it would be very difficult to sustain in our kind of open society."

The New York senator added that abortion should remain legal, safe and rare.

Obama:

"This is something that I have not, I think, come to a firm resolution on. I think it's very hard to know what that means, when life begins. Is it when a cell separates? Is it when the soul stirs? . . . What I know, as I've said before, is that there is something extraordinarily powerful about potential life and that that has a moral weight to it that we take into consideration when we're having these debates."

The full answer is much better for Clinton, although I do appreciate Obama at least giving lip service to that thing we call "science" in referencing cell division. What I wish both candidates had said runs along the lines of clearly differentiating conception from implantation. Actually, what I really wish is that they had each said, "Imagine your twelve-year old daughter has been raped and impregnated by her grandfather. Do you want her to carry that fetus to term and deliver it? If your answer is no, then your arguments about the sanctity of life and life beginning at conception are empty noise. If you do not believe abortion is murder when the circumstances of conception are loathsome to you, then you cannot argue abortion is murder when you find the circumstances of termination distasteful. If you believe that an embryo can be terminated with a clear conscience when it happens to implant in the fallopian tube rather than in the uterus, then you cannot argue that all products of conception are equally inviolable human life. Oh, and if you do believe the 12-year-old incest victim should carry to term and the woman with an ectopic pregnancy should lie back and celebrate her early ticket to heaven, fuck you."

That last phrase needs a little work, but that's what I want the Democratic candidate to say and fully believe. Until that happens, Clinton gave the padded answer pro-choicers have had to settle for. Obama, perhaps mindful of both his physical surroundings at Messiah College and the framing of his "bitter voters" comment as elitist, shied away from his solid pro-choice voting record and played up the moral dilemma caused by the question of when life begins. In other news that may or may not be related, career anti-choice Democrats Bob Casey and Tim Roemer endorsed Obama today,

promoting the Democratic presidential candidate to their antiabortion allies as someone who could achieve a new consensus on the issue. ...

Obama did not mention abortion in his controversial remarks, made last week at a fundraiser in California, though he noted other divisive social issues. But last week in Indiana, he said that both sides of the abortion debate are guilty of hyperbole.

"The mistake pro-choice forces have sometimes made in the past, and this is a generalization . . . has been to not acknowledge the wrenching moral issues involved," he said. "And so the debate got so polarized that both sides tended to exaggerate the other side's positions. Most Americans, I think, recognize that what we want to do is avoid, or help people avoid, making this difficult choice. That nobody is pro-abortion -- abortions are never a good thing."

The endorsements were timed to provide Obama inroads with conservative Democratics who will be voting in the Pennsylvania and Indiana primaries. Whether they will help or sow confusion is to be seen.


Friday, April 11, 2008

Week Goes By Without New Anti-Gay Marriage Amendment Proposal in Arizona, Legislator Acts to Correct Situation

Oh, for fuck's sake . Give it a rest already, will ya?
Advocates of a measure to enshrine the one-man/one-woman definition of marriage in the state Constitution have another chance.

Rep. Eddie Farnsworth, R-Gilbert, has authored a strike-everything amendment that resurrects the marriage proposal, which he and other supporters hope will make the November ballot. Check out SCR 1042 here.

Kyrsten Sinema, D-Phoenix, derailed the last amendment attempt by adding what the Center for Arizona Policy called "hostile language" and what rational people might call "safeguards for basic rights such as designating medical power of attorney" to the language of the bill. Here's hoping she still has our back in the statehouse.

Things That Trouble Me Friday

Little bites from interviews that have given me pause in the past 24 hours...

From the latest update on the Texas branch of the FLDS child-fucking church:
"We are aware that this group is capable of" sexually abusing girls, Sheriff David Doran said. "But there again, this is the United States. We are going to respect them. We're not going to violate their civil rights until we get an outcry."

No, no, I know that's not what he meant, and while it infuriates me that it took four whole years worth of child rape for law enforcement to get their ducks unimpeachably in order on this one, I'm gratified that it appears to be an ironclad bust that leaves zero wiggle room for these fucktards to slither out on a technicality. And it's reassuring to hear a Texas sheriff put it out there that his department isn't going after a particular group of people simply because he thinks they're capable of sexual abuse. I just wish he had chosen words that didn't have the slight ring of conflating "respect for religious beliefs" with "required to ignore the abuse of children until other people notice and raise a ruckus."

Let's check the Boltgirl scorecard on religion this morning. Religious beliefs require you to feed the hungry and clothe the poor? Awesome. Religious beliefs require you to fast and flagellate yourself? Totally not my scene, but if it does it for you and no one else suffers in the process, well, go for it. Religious beliefs require you to enslave women and impregnate as many freshly pubescent girls as possible? While your fellow geezers stand around and watch? Drop dead, asshole.

Meanwhile, what is the already overtaxed Texas CPS going to do with 400+ kids who have never set foot outside the compound and have had the belief drilled into them that the outside world is a hostile one-way express elevator to hell? Maybe some nice non-polygamous Mormon families would like to adopt them. Uh-huh. Nobody wins in this one.

From Barack Obama's interview with The Advocate:

Somebody else who influenced me, I actually had a professor at Occidental -- now, this is embarrassing because I might screw up his last name -- Lawrence Golden, I think it was. He was a wonderful guy. He was the first openly gay professor that I had ever come in contact with, or openly gay person of authority that I had come in contact with. And he was just a terrific guy. He wasn’t proselytizing all the time, but just his comfort in his own skin and the friendship we developed helped to educate me on a number of these issues.

Oh, no, girlfriend. No. You. Di'n't.

Wow. Just wow. He wasn't proselytizing all the time, you know, like gay people normally do. Wait. Seriously? You seriously give an interview to The Advocate and then you let that fall out of your mouth? Barack Obama. Just a terrific guy. Not blasting Fiddy on a boombox all the time. See how that works? Obama praising a gay man for his lack of "proselytizing" in an interview with a gay magazine is not far off from Bill O'Reilly being amazed that black people at a soul food restaurant in Harlem used forks and knives and didn't sit there screaming "more iced tea, motherfucker!" It's Huckleberry Finn being amazed to see that the escaped slave Jim bleeds blood that is red, just like his own. It's Joe Biden praising Obama for being "articulate and bright and clean." Come on, Barack. Are you fucking kidding me?

Yes, I voted for him in the primary, and I've already foamed at the mouth about Clinton's gee, aren't we lucky that the states are addressing gay marriage on their own statements, and I recognize that Obama was the first politician to call out black churches on their homophobia, but I'm sick of having to wade through puddles of crap from both candidates so I can get to the other side and say, well, at least the shit isn't quite as high up above my knees as it would be with McCain. Step it up, people!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Bomb Bomb's Greatest Hits, March Edition

Just in case anyone's forgotten that John "Better on the War than Anyone" McCain is actually either functionally clueless or too distracted to care that he's coming off that way, a few reminders.

Mid-March, to CNN:
His [Sadr’s] influence has been on the wane for a long time.
March 18, Jordan:
Well, it’s common knowledge and has been reported in the media that Al Qaeda is going back into Iran and receiving training and are coming back into Iraq from Iran. That’s well known. And it’s unfortunate.
March 31, to the New York Times:
Apparently it was Sadr who asked for the cease-fire, declared a cease-fire. It wasn’t Maliki. Very rarely do I see the winning side declare a cease-fire.
From the hearings with General Petraeus, April 8:
Mrs. Clinton and Mr. McCain did not appear to make any major mistakes in the hearing, although Mr. McCain did seem to get momentarily tangled over Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia.

It happened just after Mr. McCain asked General Petraeus if he still viewed Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, a Sunni group, as a major threat, and elicited the response, “It is still a major threat, though it is certainly not as major a threat as it was, say, 15 months ago.”

Mr. McCain responded, “Certainly not an obscure sect of the Shiites over all ... .

To which General Petraeus replied, “No.”

Mr. McCain continued, “Or the Sunnis or anybody else.”

Reality check? Al Qaeda wants to keep coming after us. And, should we bomb bomb Iran and somehow cede supremacy in the region in the aftermath, AQ will go after Iran.

John McCain. Because war not only means never having to say you're sorry, but also never having to really understand who you're at war with in the first place.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Aha!

The most excellent side-of-zen helpfully pointed out a free workaround that allows you to bypass Air America's misadventures in web design, courtesy of Green 960 AM, KKGN in San Francisco. Podcasts here.

Rock, Chalk, Jayhawk

I tried to come up with a more appropriate post title, but it's hard to get choke and hit a fuckin' free throw already to rhyme with Tiger. Way to piss away that nine-point lead in the last two minutes, Memphis! I particularly enjoyed watching you execute the shot-clock modified Four Corners offense with 1:17 to go, you know, the one where Douglas-Roberts stood rooted in place holding the ball, managing to burn four whole seconds off the clock before the Kansas defenders shook off their befuddlement--wait... oh, he's not going to pass? or even move? well, okay--and went ahead and fouled him. And he promptly missed the front end of the one-and-one, and the two following that on Memphis' next possession, and then Kansas hit only their third three of the game with seven seconds left to send it into overtime, and Memphis folded and that was that.

And Boltgirl lost her office pool as a result. Way to go, assholes!

Monday, April 07, 2008

Swoon!

Air America updated their website, rendering it moderately more aesthetically pleasing and utterly nonfunctional. So I have been Maddow-less for weeks, and am getting progressively more grumpy. Friday, however, provided the opportunity for massive Maddow mainlining, as she guest-hosted Countdown on MSNBC so Olbermann could get a jump-start on his weekend:





*boltgirl dies*

Give this woman her own show, already, and I promise to not only glue myself to the screen but also buy every product advertised, twice.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Triple Threat Friday!

Goodness me, so much in the paper this morning that needs responding to right now. Because that will fix it. Forthwith, the gays, the immigrants, and the terrorists!

Item the first: Gay Marriage Amendment Dies in Committee.
The House gave preliminary approval Thursday by a 28-27 vote to put the question on the November ballot. But that OK came only after Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Phoenix, lined up enough votes to tack on a provision to grant certain rights to unmarried couples living together, whether gay or straight.

That move effectively tied the two issues together as a single ballot question, meaning voters who want to make same-sex weddings unconstitutional would be voting for some constitutional rights for gay couples. A spokesman for House Speaker Jim Weiers, sponsor of HCR 2065, said that is unacceptable and that the Phoenix Republican will now kill his proposal.

Senate President and Karl Rove fanboy Tim Bee had another version ready to go, this one limited solely to keeping Teh Gayz out of the wedding market, but after HCR 2065's summary execution no longer "sees the point" in bringing it to a floor vote. You might hope that this would be the anti-marriage-equality camp's last gasp on this issue, given their referendum defeat in 2006 and the governor's recent approval of domestic partner benefits (justified in great part by the need to prevent brain drain and make Arizona more attractive to both companies that might relocate here and the young professionals they employ).

You might also reasonably hope that Alfonso Soriano and the rest of the guys at the top of the lineup might quit swinging at the first pitch unless they can actually make contact. Ain't neither one likely to happen anytime soon.

"We're looking at all options," said Ron Johnson who lobbies for the state's three Catholic bishops. And Cathi Herrod of the Center for Arizona Policy said she still believes that there is a way to resurrect the measure.

Ron, Cathi? Tell you what. Take it down and stick it in a hole and come back in three days to see if an angel has rolled back the stone. If there is not an empty tomb but, lo, a stench instead, walk away and turn your considerable energies toward something else. Want it to be biblical? Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me. You can start with that one.

Item the second: Pledge Spoken in Spanish; Flag Threatens to Burst into Flames.

For years, Gale Elementary School teacher Anne Lee has had her students recite the pledge in three languages — English, Spanish and American Sign Language — as a learning exercise. The kids start with English.

Do you see a problem? No one had until the son of a Minuteman Mexican Huntin' Squad Civil Defense Corps loon patriot hit second grade. Dad posted the story on multiple message boards and the e-mail barrage began. TUSD's response has been, quite reasonably, wtf?

"It's really not a story," said Cheryl Hill Lander, the district's spokeswoman. "They recite the pledge in English every morning, and they recite the pledge in Spanish. After they recite it in Spanish, then they sign the Pledge of Allegiance."

And Governing Board President Alex Rodriguez, who served in the military, said "it was clear … there was no patriotic disrespect intended."

It doesn't matter to American Dad.

But to Altherr, a 34-year-old landscaper, the disrespect has been made, and the e-mail campaign will continue.

"It's nothing against Spanish," he said. "I would be just as upset if they were making my son say the Pledge of Allegiance in German."

Uh huh. That's why you set up your lawn chairs at JFK every spring, to make sure the NSA folks are checking the German tourists' passports with the rigor befitting a True Patriot.

Item the third: Daily Star Unwittingly Installs Astroturf, One Letter at a Time. Two letters in two days isn't much, but, well, we have two letters in two days with this lovely reminder:

Remind public why we're in Iraq
Re: the March 29 letter "How to end the Iraq War."
I think the idea has merit.
As a supporter of the war, I think that would be a great service provided that just after the information on the soldier is given the media profiles one of the individuals killed on Sept. 11.
The in-your-face approach to the war is needed to remind everyone why our brave soldiers are required to be placed in harm's way. Maybe we could also remind some of your readers what started the entire situation.

Wow, thank you for this! What with the 9/11 Commission Report and the Joint Forces Command's report and St. Rudy of 9/11 dropping out of the race and all, I had completely forgotten that the Iraq war is necessary retribution for Saddam planning September 11 and flying one of the planes himself by remote control while sitting on a copy of Mein Kampf personally signed by Barack Hussein Obama and getting blown by Osama bin Laden. Who was wearing a Che Guevara t-shirt at the time.

Final score, for those keeping it at home: Arizona 2, Rational Thought 1. Better luck today, Rational Thought! Hope the wind's blowing out!


Thursday, April 03, 2008

Le Sigh

Those little moments of absolute clarity can suck. When they hit in the express checkout lane at Albertson's, they totally suck even more. I had some time to kill between getting groceries and picking up the boy from volleyball practice, so, after casting about for cheap reading material, I grabbed a Gourmet. And then proceeded to stack on the conveyor belt, behind said Gourmet... some PowerBars, a couple of bottles of Propel, and a box of instant oatmeal.

Just in case the dissonance wasn't lost on the checkout woman, I prepared to mumble something about guys with regular girlfriends probably not buying Playboy, but, luckily, she was distracted by her conversation with the bagger, leaving me to slink out under my own private cloud of oh what the fuck.

When I got home, the mailbox helpfully disgorged an Estes Park vacation guide, giving me two nice additions to the growing monument of futility that was previously composed of back issues of National Geographic Adventure and a Mountain Hardwear tent catalogue. The Gourmet turned out to be filled with useful tips for my next trip to Italy. Fuck.

At some point it becomes time to... well, if not quite give up, then perhaps to recalibrate the goals-and-dreams generator, to scale it back to a framework that is more compatible with the life that's unfolded. And that's not a pleasant process. At some point the reality of being 40 and pudgy starts to edge out the dewy notions of mountaintops and whitewater and romantic cabins in the woods that have been crowding the brain since adolescence, despite the fact that my parents are in their early 60s and still live dreams like that on a regular basis. They also made slightly different career choices than I did. Maybe I'll get there someday, when I grow up, the recording starts, and then I blink and realize I've already grown up and this is pretty much it.

Maybe someday.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Huh.

Proof that the Blog-Cuss-O-Meter is seriously fucked up:

The Blog-O-Cuss Meter - Do you cuss a lot in your blog or website?
Created by OnePlusYou

In Conclusion, All I Got to Say

The bullshit factor is too high today for serious discussion. We have Michael Mukasey either (1) lying through his teeth or (2) inadvertently exposing the utter incompetence of US intelligence gathering whilst (3) manufacturing a emotion-choked moment during a speech about FISA and the evil liberals who don't want telecoms permanently immunized against any repercussions for helping shred the Constitution. We have, finally, the full text of John Yoo's remix of the old-skool Nixon hit, "When the President Does It, That Means It Is Not Illegal." We have the Center for Arizona Policy proclaiming the end of the world because the governor decided to extend taxable healthcare benefits to unmarried partners of state employees.

In the face of that, I finally remembered something that's been bugging me since yesterday. I hate it when women refer to their breasts as "the twins" or, especially, "the girls." It seriously fucking makes my skin crawl. Not sure why. Just stop it. Now.

Oh No They Dint

The Cubs finally paid Ernie Banks the homage he deserves, with a statue outside Wrigley Field. It's very nice. It looks a lot like him. One small problem.







What? It's Banks' catchphrase, perfectly summing up his enthusiasm and love of the game. Do we see the problem? How about now:











Oh. It's not Banks' catchphrase, "Let's play two" after all. It says lets play two. With no apostrophe. Way to go, Cubs!

The sculptor says he wrote it phonetically, is all. He'll fix it. Jesus.


Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Archaeology is Fun

This is the kind of archaeology I used to do, in exotic places fraught with danger, with occasional sprints away from armed grave robbers during weekend hikes, driving hands-up through military checkpoints, searching native markets for cold beer, eating guinea pigs. My old undergrad adviser and buddy Mark has always done excellent work in Peru and, more recently, Tibet, and now he's hit the big time since the wire services noticed he found a nifty necklace high in the Andes:

This undated handout photo provided by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows a reconstruction the gold and turquoise beads as a necklace. The central gold bead has a turquoise bead attached through a perforation in its center. The earliest known gold jewelry made in the Americas has been discovered in southern Peru. The gold and turquoise necklace, made nearly 4,000 years ago, was found in a burial site near Lake Titicaca, researchers report in Tuesday's issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. (AP Photo/National Academy of Sciences, PNAS, Mark Aldenderfer)
Awesomeness from Lake Titicaca.

Granted, we never found any gold back in the day when I was working for him in Peru, but we did find one of the earliest mano-and-metate sets known in the Andes and some very interesting early ceremonial features. He taught me how to wield a trowel and draw trench profiles, and taught us all to work as hard as we played.

Good show, Mark. You're buying the beers next time.