Friday, August 29, 2008

McCain Dispenses with Subtlety, Names Oil as Running Mate

Oh, Sarah Palin, the first-term governor of Alaska, is absolutely the most qualified person a 72-year-old guy with health problems could have chosen as his vice president. After all, she's already partway through that first term and used to be the mayor of a small town. She is absolutely ready to step in as the leader of the free world on a moment's notice. They do have newspapers in Alaska, after all, and possibly the internet as well when all those damn oil-suppressing caribou aren't gnawing on the cables.

On top of her limited legislative experience, Palin also used to run the commission responsible for regulating Alaska's oil and gas resources, favors drilling in ANWR, and is married to a North Slope oil production operator. And is a woman.

Oh. Now it makes sense.

McCain-Petroleum, er, Palin 2008. Only your very best interests at heart.

edited to add: well, at least Charlie Crist's poor gullible "fiancee" is off the hook now.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

One More Thing

Oh, and I think I love Joe Biden too, at least tonight.

Oh My Goodness

I think I love Joe Biden's mother. That is all.


Check it out, America! I'm eschewing baseball, tennis, and trashy programming on Logo to watch the convention live for a change. And I'm wallowing for these precious few minutes in the Bill Clinton I thought I knew and loved way back when. Pick your cliche of choice; they all work. He's hitting it out of the park, taking it to the hole, blowing it out of the water, kicking oratorial ass and taking names and doing it all with class and passion.

Too bad he was such a dick during the primaries. This speech is killer.

Brewer Loses, Mostly

Remember the lawsuit filed by Arizona Secretary of State Jan Brewer regarding Proposition 102, which would amend the AZ Constitution to outlaw same-sex marriage, in an attempt to keep voters from being informed that Arizona law already bans it? That was settled yesterday when Brewer and Attorney General Terry Goddard agreed on compromise wording that, at least to me, is more in line with what Goddard wanted than what Brewer was hoping for.
They settled their differences by agreeing to a statement that voting "no" would stop a proposed constitutional amendment to define marriage as between one man and one woman, while keeping intact the current state law, which outlaws same-sex marriage.

It's entirely possible that Brewer's leash-holders in Arizonans for Marriage are correct in fearing that the approved, honest wording will confuse anti-equality people into voting "no" because they think that means voting to outlaw gay marriage. So between the reading-comprehension-challenged segment of the population and the more capable conservatives and libertarians who don't like redundant legislation cluttering up their universe and the rest of us who think discrimination is not the best thing to write into any constitution, maybe we have a chance here.

A separate group of Prop 102 supporters filed another lawsuit in response, demanding that all references to existing statutes be eliminated, but since the order was given last night to start the printing process, it probably won't matter. It is illustrative, though, of their bulldog-like tenacity on this. An amendment was already voted down in 2006, but they keep coming back, tinkering with scope and wording in the attempt to find something, anything that will appease the wingnuts while remaining palatable enough to the average unengaged voter to pass and officially relegate the homos to second-class status, just because they can.

It's too early to speculate about what my reaction will be if the proposition passes. It's very easy to harrumph that no self-respecting homo should stay in and continue to pay taxes to a state that officially and gleefully and spitefully spits on you. In the real world of established careers, job security, family ties, and that small but vitally important issue of your kid being able to stay anchored to the place where he grew up, it's not so easy to pick up everything and flip a coin to decide between opposite edges of the continent. I don't really have a dog in this fight. But living with the knowledge that more than half of my voting statemates have decided (1) to arrogate to themselves the right to decide whether my relationship is valid, and (2) that it's not, tends to wear a body down. So for now I suppose just not thinking about it is the way to go. Check back with me in November.

In Which We Fret Over the Convention

Not because of the speeches, so much, since we've somehow managed to miss everything major except for the recaps--give us a break; it's coming on September and the magic number is 26--but because our girl hero is looking a bit winded and in need of some buttered noodles and a nap.

We want a well-rested, happy Rachel, and, despite our constant swooning at her feet, worry a bit about the toll the skyrocketing career and back-to-back convention coverage might be taking on her home life. When does she get to see her girlfriend? Seriously.

As noted many, many times before in this space, we are certifiably insane.

Speaking of which, the live panel in front of screaming fans is a dead ringer for ESPN's College Gameday coverage, with the inevitable result that Pat Buchanan has become Lee Corso, gleefully flapping and shouting stuff designed to prod the crowd into a hailstorm of booing and make his co-panelists stare at him as if he were the insane guy at the bus stop.

Clinton's speech--at least, uh, according to the *cough* transcript (the Cubs came back to score seven in the top of the eighth! I was busy!)--was good and, hopefully, should be enough of a kick in the shorts to the idiotic PUMAs to get their heads out of their asses. I look forward to Biden's speech--which I will watch live, honest--in the hopes that he'll come out blazing.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Word of the Day: Post-Rational

This Must Mean It's Giuliani

Is McCain softening America up for a McCain-Giuliani ticket?In the last few weeks, he has shown an increasing proclivity for Rudy-esque sentence construction, with the slight tweak from subject-verb-9/11 to subject-verb-POW. There is no question that can be answered that cannot be answered better with "because I was a POW." There was the response to Elizabeth Edwards' criticism of the proposed McCain healthcare policy.
...his aides didn't respond with a substantive retort. Rather, they declared that their boss knew what it was like to get inadequate care "from another government."

There was the question of whether McCain really was insulated from Rick Warren's questions at the Saddleback Faith-o-Rama spectacular:

Nicolle Wallace, a spokeswoman for Mr. McCain, said on Sunday night that Mr. McCain had not heard the broadcast of the event while in his motorcade and heard none of the questions.

“The insinuation from the Obama campaign that John McCain, a former prisoner of war, cheated is outrageous,” Ms. Wallace said.

And last night he went on Leno and was asked how many houses he owns.

"Could I just mention to you, Jay, that, at a moment of seriousness,” McCain began, “I spent five-and-a-half years in a prison cell. I didn't have a house. I didn't have a kitchen table. I didn't have a table. I didn't have a chair. And I didn't spend those five-and-a-half years because, not because I wanted to get a house when I got out."

And with that, McCain manages to trivialize not only the jaw-dropping chasm between his level of wealth and the majority of the citizens he wants to lead, but his own war record. The POW thing is supposed to be hands-off, at least where Democrats are concerned, at least when it comes to McCain critics who challenge his psychological fitness for the most stressful job on the planet--with nukes!--given his incendiary temper and propensity for confusing basic facts. But McCain hasn't hesitated to pull POW! out of his back pocket when it suits him, whether it's relevant to the question of the moment or if it's simply a convenient get-out-of-jail-free card that is intended to shut the questioner up preemptively. Which it does to great effect.

John McCain was a prisoner of war. That does not give him carte blanche for evading questions he'd rather not answer, nor should it exempt him from recrimination when he trots it out as the only answer you need to any question you might want to ask or any criticism you might want to level. If he goes with Giuliani, though, it will make for very succinct debates. POW! 9/11! It's the dream ticket for a bumper-sticker mentality. And that's a very frightening thing indeed.

Well, That Settles It

Screw it, I'm voting for McCain.
White Sox, that's baseball. Southside.

Oh no you di'n't!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Quick Hits

I am a bad, bad political blogger. I have watched about ten minutes of the convention coverage so far and missed the two major speeches by Ted Kennedy and Michelle Obama, relying now on MSNBC's highlights and web coverage. I was a good mom instead, playing tennis (hey, look at me! I'm BrettCajun!) with my boy and taking him for ice cream.

And now I take off the mom hat just for a second since good moms aren't supposed to say fuck, and when I read this about all I can honestly say is what the fuck is this?
McCain told a crowd that wife, Cindy, was to accompany him on his visit to California and he apologized for her absence.

"Cindy is not here today and I'm sorry she's not," said McCain. "She's on her way to the little country of Georgia."

Cindy is going to Georgia to assess civilian casualties. Yes, she's with the World Food Program, but doesn't it smack a little of, oh, I don't know, presumptuousness? Just a titch?

What else? I also managed to miss all the promos for the upcoming Rachel Maddow MSNBC show. The Obama speech snippets I saw sounded lovely and nonthreatening enough, although I doubt her proclamation that she does, after all, love America will be seen by terrorist fist bump spotters as anything but covering her ass. No help for them anyway, so it doesn't much matter. And it was nice to see Ted up there for one last hurrah, and poignant to hear his son talk about all the work he's expecting his father to do under the new administration. I hope those committee chairmanships come true, Patrick.

In other news, I finally got a diary promoted over at Pam's House Blend, by no lesser a personage than Pam herself, and naturally it's not my best work by a longshot and was promptly ignored by most of the readership. Ah well. Focus! It's all about the focus!

An Unrelated Soccer Note

Fresh on the heels of the Olympics, the NCAA soccer season is underway, and the hundreds of fans in the Murphy Field bleachers are holding their collective breath as the Arizona Wildcat women take to the pitch. It's not in anticipation of a top 10 finish--the Cats placed ninth in the preseason Pac-10 coaches' poll--but more a matter of peering cautiously through our fingers at this week's candidate to fill the keeper position, which in recent years has been dangerous on a level previously associated only with Spinal Tap drummers.

The 2005 keeper (McCall Smith) was forced into retirement by a degenerative knee condition. The 2006 starter (Chelsea McIntyre) blew her ACL and meniscus five minutes into the first 2007 practice, also cracking a tibia for good measure. Her replacement (Devon Wharf) then blew her ACL in the second half of the first game of that season, forcing coach Dan Tobias to turn to the third-string keeper (Danielle Nicolai), who lasted 12 games before suffering a season-ending concussion.

The Cats finished the season with a keeper recruited from the UA club team (Halley Brown).

Brown miraculously managed to stay healthy through the end of the 2007 fall season, handing the gloves back to Wharf for 2008 spring ball. A few games later, Wharf's ACL exploded again, sending her for a second round of reconstructive surgery in eight months.

At this point you might think Tobias would have to resort to a lottery system to assign some poor soul to the keeper spot, but McIntyre's giving it another go.
Really, what are the odds?

"In the lottery, we'd win millions," Wharf said.

So far, so good; last night Arizona beat Cal-St. Luis Obispo 1-0 with no carnage reported from the field. The season's young, but after the last three years the Cats' karmic ACL debt should be paid in advance for the next decade.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

AZ Secretary of State Shows Odd Aversion to Sunlight

In our latest installment of All You Need to Know, all you need to know about opponents of marriage equality is contained in their apoplexy when they are required to use plain, clear language to explain their constitutional amendment ballot initiatives. The group pushing California's Proposition 8 were furious when they couldn't strike wording that says a yes vote will have the effect of eliminating the current right of same-sex couples to marry, because, well, all they're trying to do is protect marriage and that just makes them sound like bigots.

Now comes Arizona's turn. A no lesser person than the secretary of state, Republican Jan Brewer, has filed a lawsuit in an attempt to avoid having to remind voters that Arizona law already prohibits same-sex marriage.
In a lawsuit filed Friday, Brewer said the only thing she needs to explain on the ballot is approval of Proposition 102 would amend the state constitution to define marriage as a union of one man and one woman.

She wants to limit the legally required explanation of the effect of voting "no" on the measure would "have the effect of retaining the current laws regarding marriage."

And she wants Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Mark Aceto to block efforts by Attorney General Terry Goddard to expand the explanation to say existing laws already include "a statutory ban on same-sex marriage."

Wow, that seems like a lot of trouble to go to, Jan, especially when the outcome you're working so hard for is a less-well-informed electorate. After all, the language you're suing over is the exact wording that was included on the ballot the last time around, back in 2006, and you didn't object to it then. Why push to do it now?

Brewer said she believes the measure is clearer without the language Goddard wants.

Huh. Well, fair enough, but is there more to it than that? Oh, look. Yes. Yes, there is.

She also said one reason she wants the shorter version is she heard from the group pushing Proposition 102 that it believes mentioning the existing law would confuse voters and cause many to vote against the measure.

Oh, yeah, by the way, there's, like, this group that thinks if we tell voters exactly what the amendment would do, they won't vote for it, so, like, I sued. Whatever. One Peter Gentala, of Arizonans for Marriage (I assume Arizonans for Marriage by Any Two Random Opposite-Sex Individuals Whether They've Been Together for Decades or Just Met in a Bar Last Night was too long for the letterhead) explains:

In a letter to Brewer, Gentala said a poll conducted after voters defeated the 2006 proposal shows some people who voted against it — voters who were exposed to the language about existing state law — said they thought they were voting for the constitutional ban.

Gentala also said telling people same-sex marriages already are against the law "includes an argument against the proposition." He cited comments by Gov. Janet Napolitano, who, in announcing her opposition to Proposition 102, said it is unnecessary because "we already have a statute that defines marriage."

I'm not sure why Mr. Gentala is concerned about the presence of an implicit contradictory argument within the amendment proposition, since in his first comment he fairly convincingly argues that his constituency has the reading comprehension levels of below-average first graders.

No word on when the lawsuit will be resolved, either way. I stand appalled that the secretary of state would pull such a blatantly partisan move designed to manipulate the outcome of the balloting, especially when it's coming at the behest of that kind of interest group. Here's a hint for the Prop 8-ers and the Prop 102-ers and every similar group working to enshrine discrimination within their own state constitutions: if you'd like to avoid plain, descriptive wording about your amendments that plainly paint you as hurtful bigots, try to avoid proposing hurtful, bigoted amendments in the first place. Unless you're comfortable giving me, a person you've never met and who does not know you, the power to vote on the validity of your most important adult relationship, keep your nose, ballots, and amendments out of mine.

Friday, August 22, 2008

One for the Weekend

Yep, I know they got married several days ago, but I've been too distracted by Olympic soccer to say much about it. What can I say? They're adorable.

Now baby dykes get to dream about fairytale weddings too.

May one or two of your dreams come true this weekend, should you have any.

The Boltgirl Coupon Clipper: Contraception

Read this, print it, clip it out, laminate it, and keep it in your pocket to thrust in the face of the next conscientious pharmacist, HHS employee, or severely Catholic great-aunt who bleats at you that birth control = abortion.

Clip 'n' save 'n' quote frequently.

This is the relevant portion of the abstract of a peer-reviewed paper (meaning here: actual science) from the American Journal of Obstetric Gynecology that was designed to evaluate the familiar claim of the anti-contraception camp that oral contraceptives prevent the implantation of the fertilized egg in the uterus, and thus are nothing more than little abortion 21-packs. This is the "reasoning" behind the new Health and Human Services proposal that all healthcare workers receiving federal monies be allowed to refuse to administer said contraception under an expanded and even more insidious conscience clause than we've already had to deal with regarding pharmacies.

The one little problem with the "pills kills babies" argument is that it's patently false. As Christina Page explains over at HuffPo, the pill works by preventing ovulation, and on the very small chance that an egg manages to wriggle out of the ovary despite a hormonal bombardment that will keep it lodged in there 'til the cows come home, secondary hormonal safeguards are in place to make it very difficult for sperm to slog their way to the egg through thickened mucous on the vaginal walls, and then, if an exhausted sperm or two stagger up to the egg more exhausted than salmon whose ladders up the falls have been removed for painting, the lining of the egg itself will refuse to cooperate with them. In other words, if you use the pill there will almost certainly be no egg, and if there is an egg it won't get fertilized.

But, the anti-contraceptioneers will whinge, what if three individually statistically unlikely events all happen, even more statistically unlikely, all at the same time and there is an egg and there is a sperm and they hook up and create a zygote? Well, if all that happens, it's probably going to implant at the same rate as any other fertilized egg, which is roughly 50% of the time. Progestin acts to maintain the endometrium, which is the exact opposite of a hostile environment for the egg, so if those three unlikely events all occur (four if you count the even odds of a fertilized egg burrowing into the uterine wall and sticking), there's no evidence to suggest that implantation will be hindered at all.

Plan B, the morning-after pill, works exactly the same way because it's exactly the same hormone, simply at a higher dosage. PZ Myers explains in detail here. Plan B is a wing and a prayer because it only works if you haven't already ovulated. If an egg is lurking in the vicinity of your fallopian tubes when a load of semen gets dumped into your vagina, Plan B will not keep the egg from getting fertilized, and will not keep it from implanting in your uterine wall and setting you off on the exciting adventure of deciding what next.

In neither case does the oral contraceptive in question come close to creating an abortion. The anti-choice camp's refusal to let go of their cherished folk belief that fertilized egg = fully formed human being ==> birth control = abortion is now threatening to corrupt public health policy at the highest level. Don't let people continue to cling to fears that have no basis in science.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

But Wait, There's More

A little tidbit published yesterday morning that I didn't see until now...
On the worst day of her career, when her team had fallen apart on the field and off, Carli Lloyd returned to the hotel, hoping to find peace, only to be confronted by video cameras.

The U.S. women's soccer team had just lost to Brazil, 4-0, in the World Cup semifinals in China last year... She and her teammates needed some time and space to process it all - to hug each other, cry a little bit and somehow get over the crushing loss. But now these obnoxious cameras were in their faces as they walked through the lobby, and the people behind the lenses were laughing and smiling and enjoying their pain.

That's because the camera operators were members of the Brazilian team, who were staying at the same hotel. They ambushed the Americans and recorded their puffy-eyed reactions to the devastating defeat.

Since that's how Brazil likes to roll, I'll play right along.

Women's Football Finals Review: Brazil vs. US, an Athens repeat
Boo frickin' hoo.


BEIJING - AUGUST 21:  Carli Lloyd (C) of United St...
Lars Baron / Bongarts/Getty Images

UPDATED with a link to the official video of the goal, below.

Deep breaths taken, heart rate reduced somewhat but still in triple digits, brain sagging slack-jawed in cranium after cranking out more endorphins than it maybe ever has. Holy shit. Holy fucking shit. What a game. The US WNT went beyond exceeding expectations that were a tad low coming into the last round of friendly tuneups, that took a nosedive when Wambach went down with the kind of leg destruction that leaves horses euthanized on the track, that dropped completely off the radar after a sluggish 0-2 opening-match drubbing by Norway. Instead of panicking, Pia Sundhage made adjustments and the players responded, improving their games with every match.

Still, coming into this one my stomach was in knots. The US had beaten Brazil 1-0 the last three times they'd met, but in each of those Brazil played without their supernaturally fast and skilled duo of Marta and Christiane. The last time Marta was on the field against the US, she seemed to have four to six legs at one time, all of them moving with lightning speed, with rubber bands locking her feet to the ball, making US defenders look so bad that practice cones took umbrage at the comparison. The US had displayed steadily improving possession soccer since the first match of the Olympics, with flashes of offensive goods, but I didn't think it would be enough.

Guess what? It was.

There were still too many hopeful passes, as Brandi Chastain delicately put it, particularly coming from central midfielders Lloyd and Boxx. Way too many times the ball was simply dumped upfield 20 yards beyond any running US players. There were too many non-pressured giveaways in the central third and too many howlers under pressure deep in the defensive end, most due to poor first touches. But... defensively, this is as good as a US team has looked in a very long time. The back line organization was superb, and except for the late Marta free kick that froze every player on the field, Brazilians included, the marking was really beyond reproach and the mids tracked back well.

Amy Rodriguez is going to be very, very good when she grows up and learns just one more second of patience, one more touch on the ball. Lori Chalupny ran her ass off for the entire 120 minutes and didn't lose a step, at least not out of proportion to the Brazilians she was defending against. Christie Rampone shut Marta down for the bulk of the game. She still had some magic moments of splitting two or three or ten US defenders, but she wasn't running free. Carli Lloyd makes me crazy, and not in a good way. I am very glad she scored the game-winner, but only the fact that it was the sole goal of the match outweighs her numerous giveaways, statue-like defensive plays, long balls to nowhere, and attempted dives. Nice goal, Carli. You still have some work to do.

Hope. Freaking. Solo. She was a monster. She was completely out of her head. She played the match of her life. Her instincts on when to come out, when to stay on her line, when to punch, when to dive to cut off the cross, were spot on. The point-blank stop against Marta in the 72nd minute was unreal. Aside from one shaky clearance that barely avoided being a here-you-go to the Brazilian forward, she was just... she was just damn. And after the match, being interviewed by Julie "I wouldn't want to play in front of her" Foudy, gave all the credit to the way the team played and the energy they created for themselves on the pitch.

The goal was the culmination of a beautiful sequence in which Lauren Cheney got the ball just to the left of center about 25 yards out, circled under pressure, lasered a short ball up to Lloyd on her left, who hit a one-touch slip pass back toward center to Rodriguez, who touched it back to the left to Lloyd, who deftly collected the ball, took one extra touch just to the outside of the Brazilian defender, and unleashed a left-footed shot to the far post that dipped just under the diving keeper. Brilliant. Quick, controlled touches, smart movement off the ball, quick thinking, perfect execution. Beautiful, beautiful football.

The Brazilian Diving Team didn't make much of a splash today, although Christiane sure tried. Early on, after jumping over an onrushing Solo, she hit the ground and stayed there. Chastain's commentary was perfect. And that's what we call... nothing. Absolutely nothing. That's I missed a scoring chance, so I'm just going to lie here for a while and get some rest for my team. Very bad sportsmanship. I was not sorry to see Christiane crying and flailing at the ground after the final whistle, nor was I sorry to see Daniela be subbed off after repeatedly howling for calls she didn't get. Daniela, honey: if a nudge to your shoulder blades really makes the back of your head hurt that much, maybe you shouldn't be playing soccer. As the game went on, Marta did her share of complaining as well, at one point apparently also bitching at God after some light contact that made her shot sail high and wide.

If Solo is the Woman of the Match, Hucles is the Woman of the Tournament. Who expected her to end up tied with Marta as one of the top goal scorers? Not me. And if she'd put away a few of the other open chances she created, she'd have the Golden Boot hands down. Very, very impressive for an older player who never got much time and whose continuing presence on the roster was always a mystery to me. She was an anchor for the US team. Good on yeh, Angela.

The future looks pretty good. Now they know Pia knows what she's talking about. They should believe in the system and in each other. When Wambach comes back, she should add another dimension to the multi-dimensional attack they discovered in Beijing. Now if we can just find some central midfielders that don't make me hold my breath between the occasional flashes of okayness, well, hell. Gold, baby!

GOOOOOOLLLLLLLLL!!!!!!!!!!!! And Gold.

Holy shit. The US WNT played completely outta their gourds and beat Brazil 1-0 in extra time for the gold medal. Will try to put together something more coherent than fuck yeah once my heart rate dips below about 270. What. A. Game.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

This Does Not Bode Well

Here I was all excited about the new MSNBC show coming up in September, uh, one with some host who does radio and occasionally guest-hosts Countdown, and the embed code from Olbermann's website locked up Blogger on me. I'm sure the actually broadcasty bits will run much smoother.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

41 Redux

Thank you very much to everyone who left birthday wishes, and of course to Homer for soliciting them on my behalf. Next project: can someone please tell me if my utter inability to either (1) keep my eyes open or (2) stop craving delicious, delicious hamburgers is a sign of some fundamental, abrupt, and possibly lethal change in body chemistry brought about by having said birthday? I cannot stay awake, the cupcakes are gone, and there's so much to do.

We Read This Morning's Daily Star

Who knew celebrating turning 41 would involve sudden, agonizing exhaustion at roughly 8:16 pm? So much that even the guys on the still rings could barely entice me to keep my eyes open? Jesus. Anyway, a couple of headlines got my groggy attention this morning.

Condo project targets the lesbian market. Really?
San Francisco-based Olivia Travel is teaming up with the developer of the Condominium at Williams Centre to market the project as a lesbian-friendly condo complex.

Olivia founder Judy Dlugacz said her organization has been searching for an opportunity to create a lesbian-oriented condo community. The Tucson project would be her organization's first condo complex, she said.

"We're going to premium-ize the development," she said.

Mercy me. A lesbian condo complex--wait, not just that--a premium-ized lesbian condo complex. In Tucson. "Premium-ize" here apparently means "has a salt water pool," which I didn't think would necessarily have people lining up in droves to jump in since we tend to spend the entire Tucson summer and ungodly parts of the spring and fall walking around in our own personal salt water pools that are contained in our clothing, but as I may be somewhat out of touch with the mainstream lesbian community here, maybe that's a really big lesbian selling point. I've lost both my user's manual and my copy of the agenda, so if someone could help me out here that'd be great.

The units are projected to sell in the $170,000-300,000 range, which is pretty square in the middle of the Tucson housing market. Toss in the salt water tank and the proximity of tens upon tens of lesbian couples and it probably turns into a screaming deal, although a quick mental inventory of the lesbians I know of in town returns maybe two who could afford to buy a new place in that range, and they're already ensconced in a lovely home up in the Foothills, so I'm not sure who exactly are among the 50 to 60 reported to have ponied up some cash already.

Item the next: Obama tells McCain to lay off. About damn time.

McCain — a former Navy fighter pilot and prisoner of war in Vietnam — has asserted repeatedly that Obama's opposition to the Iraq war showed he would rather lose the war than forfeit the contest for the presidency.

Obama took him to task on Tuesday, saying: "one of the things that we have to change in this country is the idea that people can't disagree without challenging each other's character and patriotism. I have never suggested that Senator McCain picks his positions on national security based on politics or personal ambition. I have not suggested it because I believe that he genuinely wants to serve America's national interest. Now, it's time for him to acknowledge that I want to do the same.

Let me be clear: I will let no one question my love of this country. I love America, so do you, and so does John McCain. ... you all served together, and fought together, and bled together under the same proud flag."

I'm letting this little bubble of hope tide me over until the veep announcement tomorrow, at which point I will probably start pounding my head into the wall.

Item the last, not in any prominent part of the paper: US WNT trounces Japan to move into gold medal game. I will get to this later, but for now, let me just continue to say that anyone who laid money on Angela Hucles (!) being the money-ball offensive threat for this team in this tournament has got to be drooling over their travel brochures and Mountain Gear catalogs right about now. Damn!

Monday, August 18, 2008


Today is my birthday. Hooray!
Boltgirl likes birthday cupcakes.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

AG Mukasey Inadvertently Provides Footnote for Entire History of Bush Administration

The career track at the Department of Justice is supposed to be politics-free. It's right there in the rules, or, as we here at BoltCentral quaintly tend to think of them, "laws." DOJ policy and the civil service laws prohibit making personnel decisions on the basis of political affiliation, so when Monica Goodling routinely included numerous explicitly political questions in the interview process for career applicants, she broke the law.

The response of the chief law enforcement official in the US to the documented lawbreaking by an official in his own department?
Not every wrong, or even every violation of the law, is a crime.

And there you have the Bush Administration summed up in thirteen little, mostly single-syllable words. Not every violation of the law is a crime. It's okay if you're a Republican. When the president does it, that means it is not illegal. Some animals are more equal than others. The simplicity and unabashed delivery are what make it so terrifying.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

In Which We Are a Tad Perplexed

I haven't exactly flogged the Edwards thing to death, although I did give it a good hard shake when it officially broke on Friday, but the lack of repeated posting on it should not be confused for forgetting about it and moving on. Everything about it continues to piss me off something mighty, and I'm perplexed by many left/lib/progressive pundits and bloggers and their commenting communities shrugging it off with some version of it's a private matter for someone who is no longer serving in or seeking public office, so it's not relevant to public discourse. Aroo?

Boltgirl is confused.

Let me check the wayback machine for a second to see if Clinton pissed me off this much. *zip* Nope, not this much. Maybe it didn't seem so desperate then, so much a sense of narrowly averting disaster. Maybe it's because I stood there in the voting booth on primary day and contemplated writing in Edwards. Maybe it's the shattering of that fragile sense of superiority I got from watching the weekly parade of right-wing pontificators or their surrogates get caught in sexually compromising situations. Maybe it's anger at knowing I gave Edwards the benefit of the doubt when he said he's against gay marriage but was struggling to cross that bridge, when he had been merrily defiling the sanctity of his own marriage with a Dina Lohan clone.

A private matter? Sure, when you're a private citizen. Knowingly being a lying douchebag when I've pinned some hopes on you? I can't shrug that off so easily.

M is for...

I have never liked martinis, but may need to reconsider that position. (no, the Air America embed code isn't working for me, so enjoy the retro linkyness)


Yes, New Zealand was young and overmatched, and the last time against the US got drubbed 7-1, but this morning's game was exactly what the US needed going into the quarterfinals. The Americans scored four goals by four different players, allowing none, and for the most part displayed a short control game mixed up with a few long balls that, while again coming against a relatively low-pressure defense, represents a vast improvement over the opening match against Norway.

Heather O'Reilly has been the player most consistently churning up the field with a killer workrate, showing patience when needed, aggressiveness when needed, threading crosses, finishing close as well as from distance. The distance shot came 40 seconds into the game when she caught the Kiwi keeper off her line after a goal kick and nailed the upper corner from, what, 35 yards out? Chalupa returned from the knock on the noggin suffered in the first match and put on a clinic for what attacks out of the back line should look like. Boxx turned in another solid game in the center mid, and A-Rod finally showed a deft touch to go along with her innate sense of how to time runs to beat the offside trap, converting a run off a beautiful long ball from Rampone (I think) in the second half.

Since Norway inexplicably got destroyed by Japan (two Japanese goals coming off defenders' feet a minute apart did them in), the US goes through as the first-place finisher in their group, and I understand fuck all about how the other groups shake out. I think we go against Canada in the quarters, miraculously avoiding both Brazil (o cagado) and Germany (ach scheisse) until the semis, if we make it that far. Because as good as they looked this morning, those two teams are light years beyond New Zealand. The US back line has managed to cover for each other when, say, Rampone makes an inexplicable weak pass, Cox loses her mark, Markgraf loses a footrace, or, like this morning, Beuhler flies up on the attack but is slow coming back on the counter. Mitts and Chupa have been strong on the wings, despite Mitts' one miscue this morning of attempting to beat a Kiwi forward on the dribble and losing the ball ten yards outside her own box, but they haven't faced anything like Marta or Christiane, and the center backs haven't shown enough to convince me that they will be able to reliably dispense with surgical German crosses. In either matchup I think I want Wagner in the middle with Boxx rather than Lloyd, who has been maddeningly inconsistent when it comes to finding either feet or the frame. If we do draw Canada in the quarters, I would like to see her as an early second-half sub. Precise distribution out of the middle will be the key against the big guns. Hopeful whacks aren't gonna do it.

A ver, as they say in Peru--a notoriously poor footballing country, but a good phrase.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Olympic Moments

Anything to get the Edwards post off the top of the page, I suppose...

Women's national team: much, much better against Japan. The team appears to have settled down and rediscovered the midfield. Boxx turned in a very good performance after looking shaky against Norway and Lloyd managed to put her shots more or less on frame, with one of the "more" category finding the back of the net. Cox is still a liability at left back, leaving the Japan wing open more often than not or getting beaten on the dribble. Rodriguez is fast, fast, fast.

They play again sometime. Tomorrow morning? It's all a blur. I'm sure someone will wake me up at the appropriate time.

Water polo looks like it sucks to play. That is a serious amount of treading water in a funny hat while the other team is trying to drown you. I would angle to get penalties called on me as often as possible so I could sputter over to the floating penalty box and hang on to the ropes for a while.

Things I have not watched with any degree of rapt attention include horses, archers, and rowers. Synchronized diving was cool, volleyball's cool, and other things are probably lovely as well. Three cable channels running simultaneous and sometimes repeated coverage have exceeded my capacity to keep anything straight. Thus ends the Olympic update.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Oh, for Fuck's Sake

Seriously, John? Seriously?
Former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards on Friday admitted to an extramarital affair while his wife was battling cancer. He denied fathering the woman's daughter. Edwards told ABC News that he lied repeatedly about the affair with 42-year-old Rielle Hunter but said that he didn't love her.

He said he has not taken a paternity test but knows he isn't the father because of the timing of the affair and the birth.

A former Edwards campaign staffer claims he is the father, not Edwards.

Banging somebody else while your wife was battling cancer and, by the way, tirelessly fighting off the GOP slime machine for you? What the fuck is wrong with you? Seriously, what the flying fucking fuckity fuck fuck is fucking wrong with you? Did you think nobody would find out about this? Did you think even a teeny tiny bit about the amount of ammunition you were stockpiling for Republican campaigners who you knew would gleefully use it to blow holes in whoever your party nominated? Or was it just more important to be able to stick your dick into somebody who wasn't going through chemo? Way to keep us reasonably close to the moral high ground, asshole.

Maybe we should be grateful it wasn't a 20-year-old intern. That would have been marginally worse, but the whole baby issue cancels out the appropriate age issue. Asshole.

If It's Friday, It Must Be a Hodgepodge

Uno. Hey, the men's U23 soccer team acquitted themselves very nicely against Japan yesterday, coming away 1-0 winners in a match they really dominated more than the score indicates. Maurice Edu, Marvell Wynne, and Robbie Rogers particularly impressed me--Edu and Wynne with their solid defensive play and Rogers with his elegant footwork and ball distribution. The team as a whole looked pretty sharp, although Michael Bradley didn't have his best match and Freddie Adu needs to look up for open teammates now and again rather than consistently dribbling into pressure until he loses the ball. Oh, and Sacha Kljestan, this is not Argentina. Please cut your hair. Or at least wash it.

Dos. See, it's not just me.
Love is too weak a word to describe how some people feel about Rachel Maddow. They lurve her, loave her, luff her. New York magazine’s online Intelligencer column recently ran an item headlined Why We’re Gay for Rachel Maddow, and the blogosphere is dotted with posts like “I’m totally gay for Rachel Maddow.” The “gay for Rachel” meme appears to transcend gender and sexuality. Women, men, straight and not straight: they’re all gay for her. In a year in which we have decided to become postracial and postgender, Maddow may embody a media in which adoring fandom is postgay.

Tres. I try to support locally owned businesses over chains when I can, but sometimes a corporate entity comes along that is simply so delicious that my slender principles are no match. Grimaldi's Pizza (work warning: musical website) is owned by somebody in the Evil Northern Empire of Scottsdale, or possibly Brooklyn--who can tell? not me--but damn. Damn, damn, damn. One of my New Yorker co-workers fussed that it's "not real New York pizza," which probably explains why it tastes so good. It is a thin crust, but its crisp body refuses to be folded, and the rich tomato sauce sings with marjoram and possibly the slightest hint of rosemary, just enough to perk up your tastebuds with a delighted oh, what is this? Even the really unforgivable move of the waitress bringing me an already-opened Stella because they were out of the Sierra Nevada IPA I'd ordered (after being told they were out of the draft Nimbus IPA and had never had Sam Adams, despite its being on the beer list) wasn't enough to make me want to firebomb the place. The pizza was that good. Oh, and it's baked in a coal-powered oven, so the carbon footprint of your meal covers vast swaths of southwestern Pennsylvania. But it is so. freaking. tasty. Chalk it up to a guilty pleasure.

Cuatro. No, I'm really not a fan of Stella Artois. Meh, Belgian Budweiser. But now I guess all Budweiser is Belgian anyway. Maybe they can consolidate their brewing and save some money.

Cinco. Cake Wrecks. Just because.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Quote of the Day

Is it Friday? No? How can it only be Thursday? Jesus. Anyway. Obama played Elkhart (Indiana) yesterday, and left us this gem:
I know that Senator McCain likes to call himself a maverick, and the fact is there have been times where in the past he did show some independence, but the price he paid for his party's nomination has been to reverse himself on position after position, and now he embraces the failed Bush policies of the last eight years--politics that helped break Washington in the first place. And that doesn't meet my definition of a maverick.
Well, as the kids say, w00t. It's about goddamn time.

In other news, McCain also admitted yesterday that keeping your tires inflated is a good idea after all, forcing his campaign to scuttle plans to continue to distribute Obama tire gauges to the press corps. 89 days to the election.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Cubs! Woo!

Clutch fucking hitting. That's all you need to know. Unreal.
Mark DeRosa.

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Alfonso Soriano.

You don't even notice when half these guys are hitting under .270, because they step up and knock one when it's needed most.

Sports Corner: Well, That's a Problem

Hmmm. The US women's soccer team opened their Olympic run with a 2-0 loss to Norway, and when I say "opened" I mean "really really opened," as in "at least they waited for the ref to start the game before giving up two quick goals."


The first came at 1:07 off a Norway cross from the left side. Hope Solo went to punch the ball away but collided with Lori Chalupny, which resulted in Solo missing the ball but making good contact with Chupa's head. The ball, happy to have escaped a beating at Solo's hands, went off the Norwegian attacker's noggin and skipped into the goal, whistling all the way. Opinion is divided as to where the fault lies for that one, but I'm inclined to say, meh, these things happen. Solo came off her line and made a play for the ball, Chupa went up to try to get a head on it. Maybe Solo should have broken earlier or called the defender off more vociferously, but whatever. It happens. It just sucks when it happens before sleepy viewers quite have it straight which way each team is going.

The second one hurt. Kate Markgraf attempted a back pass that turned into a beautiful through ball to the Norwegian attacker she didn't see behind her, and that was pretty much it. Solo, left hung out to dry, covered the near post like she was supposed to and was beaten high and away by the kind of nice finish you expect to see at the international level. This was at 4;46, more or less, and that was it.

The US was rattled and took quite a while to settle down. Defensively, Markgraf looks like a liability. Love Kate, but aside from a solid shot from outside the arc late in the second half, her game didn't have much to recommend it. Heather Mitts--sit down if you aren't already, because I never expected to hear this from me--was hands down the best US back. She has been nothing less than solid since returning from her ACL injury and has turned into a good attacking back as well. The central midfield was weak. Apparently this is my day to bust on aging Domers, so here we go. Love Boxxy, but she was awful today. Her first touch was rusty, her passes rarely found US feet, she biffed two open chances in the box, and she was hacking Norwegians at a rate that left me surprised to see the Swiss Miss, referee Nicole Petignat, keep her card in her pocket. On the outside, Heather O'Reilly was the most effective attacking player the US had on the field, showing an eagerness to take on defenders one-on-one and fight for every ball. Lindsay Tarpley was off her game, sending way too many crosses and through balls to spaces that didn't have a US player within 20 yards. Tash Kai was too random in the first half; interestingly, as she started to fatigue in the second half, she did a far better job of showing patience on the ball and finding open teammates in front of the goal rather than whacking at the ball mindlessly.

Not that there weren't bright spots, or at least a few sequences that gave me hope that the team is finally moving beyond the one-dimensional long-ball attack of the Ryan era. Ball movement as a whole was not great, with too much panic showing through in the first half. They settled a bit in the second and managed to link a few passes and play possession for brief spurts, which created a handful of scoring chances late. The magic final pass is still elusive, for the most part, and when it was there the finishes were mostly lacking.

Substitution patterns continue to mystify me. Bringing Rodriguez on in the second half was a no-brainer, but for Tarpley? I expected to see her come in for the ineffective Boxx, with Hucles moving back to the midfield. I would very much like to see the young, speedy players all on the field at the same time, A-Rod, Tarp, and HAO all at once, just to see what happens. Chastain wants to see Aly Wagner start at center mid in the next match. She's getting up there in years and hasn't had much playing time recently due to injury, so who knows if her legendary distribution skills are still there? There has to be another answer. Brazil and Germany looked monstrous in their game today.

I don't mind crawling out of bed at the crack of dark if they play well, but the match today was hardly even worth tivoing.


Loathe Paris Hilton. Lurve this:

And, as always, lurve hat-tipping Top!Secret G-woman for passing awesome things along.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

McCain's New Rallying Cry vs. Reality: Guess Who Wins?

John McCain went to the Sturgis motorcycle rally yesterday. The salient bits of his address boil down to this:
“We’re not going to pay $4 dollars a gallon for gas (when I am president) because we are going to drill offshore and we are going to drill now. We are doing to drill here and we are going to drill now,” he said.

Awesome. One teeny tiny problem with that, though. The government's own research contradicts him. The Energy Information Administration (the Department of Energy's independent stats and analysis organ) pretty bluntly dismisses the notion that drilling here, drilling now will solve our gas pump price shock any time during the next president's administration. Or the one after that. Or the one after that.

The projections in the OCS access case indicate that access to the Pacific, Atlantic, and eastern Gulf regions would not have a significant impact on domestic crude oil and natural gas production or prices before 2030. Leasing would begin no sooner than 2012, and production would not be expected to start before 2017. Total domestic production of crude oil from 2012 through 2030 in the OCS access case is projected to be 1.6 percent higher than in the reference case, and 3 percent higher in 2030 alone, at 5.6 million barrels per day. For the lower 48 OCS, annual crude oil production in 2030 is projected to be 7 percent higher—2.4 million barrels per day in the OCS access case compared with 2.2 million barrels per day in the reference case (Figure 20). Because oil prices are determined on the international market, however, any impact on average wellhead prices is expected to be insignificant.

And that's a best-case scenario that assumes "local infrastructure issues and other potential non-Federal impediments will be resolved after Federal access restrictions have been lifted." Want a picture? There's also a picture. The green line just above the blue line illustrates the expected gains.

Figure 20. Lower 48 offshore crude oil production in two cases, 1990-2030 (million barrels per day).  Need help, contact the National Energyi Information Center at 202-586-8800.

What about all that oil those stupid caribou and polar bears are squatting on in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge? That would make a big dent in foreign oil dependence and prices at the pump, right? Uh, no.

The EIA also researched the impact of crude oil production in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. To put it in scale, ANWR is believed to have a potential for 10.4 billion barrels of crude oil, a little more than half of the projected potential for the offshore areas McCain has proposed opening.

ANWR would add only 1 to 2 percent to the overall world oil supply, said Philip Budzig, who authored the report for the EIA. The report concluded drilling there would subtract anywhere from 41 cents to $1.44 per barrel of crude oil around 2025. That translates to a savings of just a couple pennies per gallon at the pump. Again, in 2025.

Budzig noted that the report was prepared when oil was going for about $65 a barrel. It’s now double that. So, in theory, savings might be double what he projected last year.

So, (a couple pennies per gallon) x 2 = what, like four cents? In 2025 pennies? Are we even going to have pennies in 2025?

What will make a difference right away for all Americans' wallets? Let's see. John McCain says drill here, drill now. All the evidence indicates that magically conjuring fully functioning derricks positioned over every sweet spot in Alaska and the continental shelf will not tide me over to my next paycheck. The McCain campaign, which every day exhibits more and more evidence of being run by first-keg frat boys, has been handing out pressure gauges to mock Barack Obama's suggestion that if people want to reduce their own personal reliance on foreign oil, they should keep their tires inflated.

Let's check back with that notoriously liberal, tree-hugging entity known as the US government.

The Department of Energy estimated in 2005 that U.S. motorists wasted 1.2 billion gallons of gasoline a year from driving on underinflated tires -- roughly 61 million barrels of oil.

The government also offers "Tips to Improve Your Gas Mileage," and if you go through the whole onerous list of things like keeping your car tuned up, changing the air filter, and inflating your tires, you can see a fuel economy improvement of up to 17%, which at $3.96 a gallon translates to a savings of 68 cents per gallon, or over eight bucks per fillup on a 12-gallon tank. Compare the immediate 17% decrease in gasoline consumption you get from tuning and tires to the best-case 7% increase in domestic oil production by 2025 and tell me which makes the most sense in the short term. Then McCain and the 20,000 idiot bikers who cheered him in Sturgis can explain to me why a party that constantly touts self-reliance ridicules the notion of individuals adopting thrifty behaviors when it comes to gasoline. Never mind we're paying half what Europe does. We want ours and we want more, more, more, and we want it to be handed to us on the cheap right now.

Barack? You need to call him on this bullshit now, not "compromise" when the compromise is directly built on the bullshit idea that drilling is the solution to anything but Exxon's quest for the next quarterly earnings record.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Knock Me Down with a Fucking Feather, Part Ninety-seven: Anthrax

Oh, goody. You probably heard over the weekend that Dr. Bruce Ivins, the prime suspect in the 2001 anthrax attacks, has committed suicide, giving the FBI the opportunity to say well, that's that, then, and slam the door shut on the investigation. You may or may not have heard that we now know that the government's original assertion, repeated breathlessly by Brian Ross over and over and over on ABC, that the anthrax was definitively tied to Iraq, was utter bullshit. Utter and deliberate bullshit. Glenn Greenwald blows it open.

During the last week of October, 2001, ABC News, led by Brian Ross, continuously trumpeted the claim as their top news story that government tests conducted on the anthrax — tests conducted at Ft. Detrick — revealed that the anthrax sent to Daschele contained the chemical additive known as bentonite. ABC News, including Peter Jennings, repeatedly claimed that the presence of bentonite in the anthrax was compelling evidence that Iraq was responsible for the attacks, since — as ABC variously claimed — bentonite “is a trademark of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein’s biological weapons program” and “only one country, Iraq, has used bentonite to produce biological weapons.”

ABC News’ claim — which they said came at first from “three well-placed but separate sources,” followed by “four well-placed and separate sources” — was completely false from the beginning. There never was any bentonite detected in the anthrax (a fact ABC News acknowledged for the first time in 2007 only as a result of my badgering them about this issue). It’s critical to note that it isn’t the case that preliminary tests really did detect bentonite and then subsequent tests found there was none. No tests ever found or even suggested the presence of bentonite. The claim was just concocted from the start. It just never happened.

That means that ABC News’ “four well-placed and separate sources” fed them information that was completely false — false information that created a very significant link in the public mind between the anthrax attacks and Saddam Hussein.

Outstanding. You know, when lying about WMD just isn't enough, well, use a very convenient unrelated terrorist attack as the basis for a whole 'nother set of lies. Works like a charm, every time. I am not willing at this point to entertain borderline tinfoil notions of Bruce Ivins as the point man for a deeper conspiracy. There's enough to be pissed at without that. Things like... this, for example.

It's a bad movie script that's taken on a life of its own and keeps promulgating increasingly bad, unbelievable, downright awful plot twists. But it's real, and if today's depressing Rasmussen daily tracking poll is any indication, it may not stop any time soon. Work this bit of news into your daily conversations with anyone who still thinks the Bush administration and John McCain aren't so bad, yes?

Friday, August 01, 2008

Emirates or Exxon: Either Way You Take It in the Shorts

Maddow brought up an interesting point yesterday I hadn't thought much about before--no, I am not obsessed, thank you; I simply recognize quality when I see it--namely, that the drill here instead of buying oil over there camp falsely conflates "domestic oil" with "United States" rather than "US oil companies." In the absence of nationalized oil companies--quelle horreur--opening up the coastal shelf to exploration and production simply provides us the opportunity to pay a US-based multinational corporation for our gasoline instead of paying the Sultan of Oman. A company like Exxon, for example, which just shattered its own US record for quarterly earnings with a staggering $11.7B profit posted in the second quarter of this year. That's billion.

And, she added, most of that profit isn't even coming from sales to the US consumers they currently have under their thumbs. Can this be true? I did some looking. Everyone who is convinced that domestic oil production and gasoline refining are the solution to all of our woes needs to take a deep breath and take a look at this.

A record 1.6 million barrels a day in U.S. refined petroleum products were exported during the first four months of this year, up 33 percent from 1.2 million barrels a day over the same period in 2007. Shipments this February topped 1.8 million barrels a day for the first time during any month, according to final numbers from the Energy Department.

The surge in exports appears to contradict the pleas from the U.S. oil industry and the Bush administration for Congress to open more offshore waters and Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling.

"We can help alleviate shortages by drilling for oil and gas in our own country," President Bush told reporters this week. "We have got the opportunity to find more crude oil here at home."

We need to find more crude oil here at home so we can... ship it overseas in order to fatten ExxonMobil's wallets even more? The argument to increase domestic production would make sense if we had a Department of Petroleum whose revenues flowed directly back into the nation's infrastructure or even just a giant petty cash drawer for little things like schools and up-armored HMMVs. But we don't. What we do have are companies that operate in the global market and will move their product to the area with the highest profit margin. They exist to line their own portfolios, not to alleviate the skyrocketing prices that are gobsmacking low- and middle-income Americans.

The exports were also equal to half the 3.2 million barrels of gasoline, diesel fuel and other petroleum products the United States imported each day over the 4-month period.

Throwing open ANWR and the continental shelf will marginally increase the global oil supply and maybe cause a small, short-term ripple in prices. But don't fool yourself into thinking that adding another million or so barrels to US corporate oil tanks will do anything but give them more options for their export markets and decisions on refining capacity, and provide the opportunity for 11.7 billion to be chump change down the road.

Drilling domestic oil does not mean domestic market relief and thumbing our noses at the sheikhs. It just means more discretionary product in the hands of private companies whose last interest is giving you a break at the pump.