Tuesday, October 31, 2006

An internal Democratic poll has Ford up 5; CNN poll has Corker up 8. Who knows what to think. But I don't feel confident about TN like I did a few weeks ago.

Virginia is another story - Webb is up in 3 new polls. We might just kick that bully out of office.

If all that holds up Senate control will come down to Missouri, where it's tied.

Monday, October 30, 2006

What have you been listening to, watching, reading?

David Byrne Reviews Performances of Puccini and Steve Reich
Guess which one "is as radical as it ever was, which is saying something"?
This Sucks
Why isn't it making bigger news? (via Kos Diary)
Debra A. Reed voted with her boss on Wednesday at African-American Research Library and Cultural Center near Fort Lauderdale. Her vote went smoothly, but boss Gary Rudolf called her over to look at what was happening on his machine. He touched the screen for gubernatorial candidate Jim Davis, a Democrat, but the review screen repeatedly registered the Republican, Charlie Crist.

That's exactly the kind of problem that sends conspiracy theorists into high gear -- especially in South Florida, where a history of problems at the polls have made voters particularly skittish.

A poll worker then helped Rudolf, but it took three tries to get it right, Reed said.

"I'm shocked because I really want . . . to trust that the issues with irregularities with voting machines have been resolved," said Reed, a paralegal. "It worries me because the races are so close."
These voting machines are the worst. I hate our new touch-screens. Make sure you go through the "review" process before you submit your ballot.

Friday, October 27, 2006

I'm not ready to make my final predictions yet for the midterm elections, but I can tell you what my crystal ball sees clearly: If Republicans somehow hold on to the House and only lose a seat or 2 in the Senate it won't be because of voting shenanigans. It will be because of this. Is that why Bush and Rove are so confident? Hopefully the American people won't fall for it.
Widespread Destruction and Chaos
Is this just playing the expectations game? Or does political analyst Stu Rothenberg really believe this? Raise the bar a little bit, why dontcha Stu.
With the national environment being as it is - and given the last round of redistricting, which limits possible Democratic gains - Republicans probably are at risk to lose as few as 45 seats and as many as 60 seats, based on historical results. Given how the national mood compares to previous wave years and to the GOP’s 15-seat House majority, Democratic gains almost certainly would fall to the upper end of that range.
Dangerously big waves can be very strong and very unpredictable. They can bring widespread destruction and chaos. Republicans now must hope that this year’s midterm wave isn’t as bad as national poll numbers suggest it could be, because those national numbers suggest a truly historic tidal wave.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

The Dilbert Guy
Obviously - from the posts below about children and TV - we don't know diddly about how brains develop. So read this - we don't know much about how brains work at any age.
As regular readers of my blog know, I lost my voice about 18 months ago. Permanently. It’s something exotic called Spasmodic Dysphonia. Essentially a part of the brain that controls speech just shuts down in some people, usually after you strain your voice during a bout with allergies (in my case) or some other sort of normal laryngitis. It happens to people in my age bracket.

I asked my doctor – a specialist for this condition – how many people have ever gotten better. Answer: zero. While there’s no cure, painful Botox injections through the front of the neck and into the vocal cords can stop the spasms for a few months. That weakens the muscles that otherwise spasm, but your voice is breathy and weak.

The weirdest part of this phenomenon is that speech is processed in different parts of the brain depending on the context. So people with this problem can often sing but they can’t talk. In my case I could do my normal professional speaking to large crowds but I could barely whisper and grunt off stage. And most people with this condition report they have the most trouble talking on the telephone or when there is background noise. I can speak normally alone, but not around others. That makes it sound like a social anxiety problem, but it’s really just a different context, because I could easily sing to those same people.
Read the whole thing. It has a happy ending.
I've heard this many times now. Is it true?
Some political scientists and strategists refer to it as the "15% lie" — when whites, bowing to societal pressure, tell pollsters they intend to vote for a black candidate but fail to do so in the voting booths.
I have a hard time understanding it if so. There are legitimate-sounding reasons to be against Ford if you're a conservative and even if the true reason is some latent racism you don't have to say why you're against him. Even if in the poll they ask you why, just spout one of the other bits of nonsense Corker is offering.

I have a hard time believing in, or understanding this phenomenon. I do think people change their minds at the last minute, refer back to traditional voting habits, or worse yet simply like to vote for the winner. To me, that's the biggest danger here: that Corker has momentum and may be seen as the inevitable winner. I have at least one friend who tells me she likes to vote for the winner - it just makes her feel better to be on the side of everybody else.

I know it's awful, but that at least makes some logical sense to me, moreso than the lie-as-some-bizarre-racist-ploy.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Gay Marriage
I have to admit I kind of hope this good news doesn't get much press until Nov. 8, but the NJ high court just announced its decision that denying same-sex couples all of the civil rights and privileges afforded marriage is unconstitutional. They don't care whether the committed same-sex couples are called "married" or not, so long as there is a mechanism that will guarantee their rights.
Yet More Senate Polls
From the LATimes/Bloomberg. The bad news is it seems to confirm that Ford's small lead has disappeared. Corker is up 49-44. And McCaskill is down in Missouri - that's one we really need.

The good news is this confirms a Dem lead in NJ and is the first poll I remember that actually shows Jim Webb *ahead* of George Allen in VA, 47-44.

If these results hold up, Dems will win OH, PA, MT, RI, VA and be tied 50-50 with Republicans, assuming Lieberman doesn't bail on Nov. 8. That will leave the GOP in charge, with Cheney breaking the tie. Winning MO or TN would put Dems over the top.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The post below regarding the effect of TV on children under the age of 3, and its increase of the risk of autism, generated a good bit of discussion for this blog. You may be interested to know that Stevie T--our resident expert on all things childhood development-related--has commented again, answering some of your questions. Some of us won't like it (just leave the tv off until the kid goes to bed). Use this post to continue that discussion, if you'd like. I know I'm interested by the topic, even if I can't make heads or tails of the report he links. They might as well just have one page with 2 words: "TV Bad."

Here's one thing I do know. The argument I've heard some make--not here but elsewhere--something like: "that can't really be true. If it were, my kids would be all screwed up"--is a logical fallacy of the highest order. The research shows that the risk of developing autism and ADHD is *increased.* Like smoking increases the risk of developing lung cancer. Some people smoke their entire lives and never get cancer. That doesn't mean the cause and effect is disproven. The risks are increased - but not to 100%. There are probably many risk factors here - most of which we likely don't even know about.

Here's one reason this seems so important to me. Suppose it's true that the huge increase in autism and ADHD over the last 20 years can be completely attributable to TV exposure under the age of 3. With some education (and discipline), these are conditions we can practically eradicate, right? And in our lifetimes. How often does a big problem suddenly seem solvable? If we can just do that, and solve that pesky global warming problem...that wouldn't be a bad generational contribution to society.

Feeling optimistic today.
New Senate Polls and a Question
By Mason-Dixon. If they hold up, they show Dems gaining 5 seats, just 1 shy of what we need to take control. Ford (down 45-43) and Webb (down 47-43) are close in TN and VA. I still think Ford has the better chance - he's running a much stronger campaign than Webb. I am hoping the ground game in Memphis still has some teeth to it.

Here's my question - does your state have early voting? And if so, have you already voted? One of my recent Ford emails encourages early voting for this reason: the campaign can retrieve the list of folks that have voted early, and won't waste time calling or visiting you in the get-out-the-vote efforts leading up to the big day. I have always liked voting *on election day* but this sounds like a reasonable, helpful request. So I'm doing it. Who's with me?

Monday, October 23, 2006

What have you been watching, listening to, reading?

The Prestige
I don't have time to get my thoughts down here, but I loved The Prestige. Go see it!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Just between you and me, I'm suddenly much less confident about the Harold Ford Senate chances in TN. The "best campaign of the cycle" seems to have made several bizarre missteps lately. First, why would you do this?
Democratic Senate nominee Harold Ford Jr. interrupted his opponent's news conference Friday, confronting Republican Bob Corker in a Memphis airport parking lot and scolding him for criticizing Ford's family.

Corker was talking to reporters about lobbying reform and ethics.
Ford spotted Corker in the parking lot and began walking toward him, saying, "It's good to see you. I'd love to debate you on this Iraq thing."

Ford continued talking about his plan to partition Iraq into three regions as the candidates shook hands. But then Corker stopped him:

"I came to talk about ethics, and I have a press conference," Corker said in TV footage captured by WREG in Memphis. "I think it's a true sign of desperation that you would pull your bus up when I'm having a press conference."
And then why would you actively bash the liberal Democratic candidate for your old seat and actively antagonize liberal voters, who were already holding their noses to vote for you? These both seem like rash decisions, especially the first one. Could it be that his internal polls show him slipping?

Friday, October 20, 2006

Which part of this story makes sense?
None of it. Obviously the judge is being a little weird (even if, personally I don't mind this law being applied only to men) But let's start with this: in general, is disrobing in front of a 14-year-old boy any real strategy for a female neighbor who's trying to get the boy to stop coming out to the back yard to play basketball?
North Korean Leader: "My Bad"
Kim told Chinese State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan that "we have no plans for additional nuclear tests," Yonhap news agency reported, citing an unnamed diplomatic source in Beijing.

Kim also told the Chinese that "he is sorry about the nuclear test," the mass-circulation Chosun Ilbo daily reported, citing a diplomatic source in China. The North Korean leader also raised the possibility the country would return to arms talks.
Oops. Sorry about that nuclear test. Even if that's not what he said, I like that it's what they decided to say he said.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Unstoppable Force meets Immovable Object
Sooo funny. NJ media try to get Republican Senate hopeful Tom Kean to answer a simple question. Who gets more points for stubbornness, the media or the candidate?
A Fighting Keyboardist Abandons His Post
Shorter Jonah Goldberg: I was wrong about the Iraq War, but I was right to be wrong (and you were wrong to be right). Quickly becoming the most unreadable columnist around, Jonah finally flips on the war in his LATimes piece today.
I must confess that one of the things that made me reluctant to conclude that the Iraq war was a mistake was my general distaste for the shabbiness of the arguments on the antiwar side.

But that's no excuse. Truth is truth. And the Iraq war was a mistake by the most obvious criteria: If we had known then what we know now, we would never have gone to war with Iraq in 2003.
But just think, now when Jonah gets asked why he's not volunteering for the war, he can finally be honest: that he just doesn't believe in it. If he truly thought a war was necessary to preserve our national well-being, he would have joined, right? Now we know that his "reluctance" to be honest with himself about that had more to do with his dislike for the "arguments" (which is to say, the arguers) on the other side. We could be right as rain but because we're Democrats and liberals he feels compelled to argue vociferously on the other side, no matter the cost.

Thanks, Jonah. A real stand-up guy.
is a pretty high number in dog years. and 16 wins would give you an undefeated regular season in pro football. But as an approval rating (out of 100) 16 is pretty darned low, even for Congress.

The question is, will all of this disenchatment lead to more voting? Or less? It sure seems like this time, if we can get folks to the polls, they won't be voting for Republicans.

2 1/2 weeks to go.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Looking for Some Good News About Iraq?
Good Luck. I wonder if Cheney smokes his crack or snorts it?

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

They Don't Know Who They're Fighting
Because depression really should be shared among friends. Read this. Then go ahead and pick up the closest sharp pencil and stab yourself in the heart. Put yourself out of misery. No, wait! First, read the post below, which really is important. Then, turn off the TV. Then stab yourself. I'll be slumped lifeless in the corner.
This Looks Important
I don't have any kids under the age of 3, but I do have a niece under the age of 3. And this frightens me.
Today, Cornell University researchers are reporting what appears to be a statistically significant relationship between autism rates and television watching by children under the age of 3. The researchers studied autism incidence in California, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Washington state. They found that as cable television became common in California and Pennsylvania beginning around 1980, childhood autism rose more in the counties that had cable than in the counties that did not. They further found that in all the Western states, the more time toddlers spent in front of the television, the more likely they were to exhibit symptoms of autism disorders.
Information about autism is everywhere these days, and like with the increase in children's need for medication for attention deficit and everything else, it would be easy to grouse that "we didn't have these problems back in my day. Kids just need to suck it up." But the fact is that there are some very real things that are different today in terms of visual and aural stimulation. If we can buy into the idea that black, white and red toys help infants' brains develop, it makes sense to think twice about what the flashing spectrum of images a TV offers might be doing to them.

I have to admit this is something I never thought about before right now, so I'm probably behind most of you. I know about the effect of TV watching on eyesight development, and on vocabulary--even psychology once the content of programming starts to make the slightest sense. But I never have thought of the effect of the sheer visual stimulation.

If you're the parent of one under 3 (yes you!) you should read the whole thing.
It's like 10,000 spoons when all you need is a knife - not.
In the never-ending quest to define irony, not just here at A19 but on all the internets, I hope this proposed requirement of congresspersons/FBI investigatees to use the word "ironic" more appropriately can be broadened to include other words, such as "literally" . . . or "responsibility." (Posted on DC Universe, found via Wonkette.)

Monday, October 16, 2006

What have you been reading, watching, listening to?

Article 19 Film Recommendation: The Departed
I've been a Scorsese fan since college--wrote a senior thesis on existentialist themes in Raging Bull, Taxi Driver and The Last Temptation of Christ; and, back when I cared about academicy stuff, delivered a paper on Cape Fear at a stuffy conference. I still think that's one of the most fascinating, underrated remakes ever. All that to say, I might be a little biased. But I think The Departed is fabulous--maybe his best since Goodfellas. All of the technical prowess of The Aviator--great sound, fascinating frames, perfect editing, beautiful shots--plus a tight story that manages to be dramatic despite telegraphic all of the basic plot inevitabilities. And Jack Nicholson is perfect, of course.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Edwards on the Bankruptcy Bill Anniversary
Luckily I don't have to choose now, but if I did, I think I'd vote for John Edwards in the Democratic primary, given the expected candidates. He just wrote a guest post at Think Progress that's worth a read. Recently I've seen speculation that no candidate could be elected today on a platform that emphasizes the eradication of poverty and a focus on the working poor. That may be the case but they are still worth supporting. If I suddenly got a strong sense that Hilary is eminently more electable than Edwards is in a general election, that's one thing that could effect my thinking. But I'm far from decided. That's just where I am today. I think Feingold would make as good a President as Edwards but right now I don't see him having a chance.
Middle and low-income families are under attack from predatory lenders who offer deceptive terms, charge unfair fees, and trap the unwary or the unlucky. According to Fannie Mae, about half of the subprime borrowers could qualify for regular interest rates, but didn’t get them. That means there are hundreds of thousands of people paying much more than they should for their home loans.

What’s especially outrageous is how predatory lenders go after African-American and other minority communities. If you are an upper-income African-American family, you are twice as likely to get a subprime loan as a lower-income white family. It’s incredible — even though you are doing better, you get a worse loan if you are African-American.
Rather than passing laws that punish consumers trying to make ends meet, we should be cracking down on the irresponsible lenders that prey upon them. Congress needs to start paying attention to the growing problem of predatory lenders.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Weekend Fun
The Nietzsche Family Circus pairs randomly selected Family Circus cartoons with randomly selected Nietzsche quotes. I've spent many minutes with the refresh button already. (via the Volokh Conspiracy)
Republican elected officials are letting their insanity show through:

Chris Shays

Rick Santorum

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Bush's New Religion Problem, plus Shameless Self-Promotion
A coming tell-all book by David Kuo, the former White House special assistant to the President on faith-based initiatives has me wondering: Is this the turning point in the religious right's blind support of Bush? How's this for a title... Tempting Faith: An Inside Account of the Rise of Christian Conservatives and Their Betrayal by the Bush White House. I've got more info over at my other blog gig (my blig?), thanks to Deb for the tip.

Will this pile on to the religious conservatives' disenchanment with the GOP over Foley and become a significant crack in the coalition? Will this be the beginning of the end of the Republican hold on social conservatives? Or maybe it's already begun?

With Kuo scheduled to hit 60 Minutes Sunday, it will be interesting to see how Rove decides to pre-smear him between now and then.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

I have no plans to ever write a book - not sure why I would. But if I do, I hope more than anything that it doesn't offend James Wolcott.
With The Enemy at Home, I prefer to do the irresponsible thing and declare war on Dinesh D'Souza and his stinking mackerel of a book starting now. I intend to pound this scurrilous piece of scapegoating at every convenient opportunity. It is long past due that the likes of Ramesh Ponnuru (Death Party A-Go-Go), Jonah Goldberg (Hillary Clinton Was Himmler's Mistress), and now D'Souza be put on notice that they are not going to get away with vilifying liberals, mainstream Democrats, radical thinkers, academics, and entertainers as traitors and terrorist sympathizers. They want to wage culture war? Then, to quote Nabokov, they should brace themselves and prepare for the next crash. They want to practice character assassination? They've picked the wrong time, the wrong adversary.
It sounds like he deserves it. In the unlikely event that America turns into the kind of place where liberals are not only ridiculed and vilified like we are now, but in fact hunted down, imprisoned and/or killed, the first step would look like D'Souza's argument. In fact, he says quite clearly, quoted by Wolcott:
There is no way to restore the culture without winning the war on terror. Conversely, the only way to win the war on terror is to win the culture war. Thus we arrive at a sobering truth. In order to crush the Islamic radicals abroad, we must defeat the enemy at home
Brief Links
Foleygate: Still going strong. Fordham will testify that a drunk Foley was intercepted trying to enter the page dorm, an incident that persuaded him, and the House clerk, to go to Speaker Hastert's office with concerns.

Iraq: A national tragedy and getting worse. 1 in 5 servicemen and women will return home with some disability. 1 in 5.

Ford: In a tight race. Up by 7 in a recent Democratic poll. Down by 2 in a more recent SurveyUSA poll.

The "Hero of Guantanamo": Canned by the military. The courageous litigator that took the Hamdan case to the Supreme Court, and won, striking down Bush's military tribunals, was passed over for promotion, effectively ending his career. He was named one of the nation's top 100 lawyers by National Law Journal.

Cursive Handwriting: An endangered species. Does it matter?

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Great Moments in Double Negatives
I had to construct a Venn diagram of this sentence to see if Virginia Governor Mark Warner, at the end of an AP article on Harold Ford's great campaign, issued an endorsement or an indictment.
"There's a lot of things you can say about Harold Ford," Warner said, "but nobody's not going to call him independent."
Thanks for nothing, Mark.
Biblical Inerrancy
Religious extremists of all stripes like to invoke the infallible, literal truth that is Scripture--God's word and all of that. Even if--unlike me--you'd *like* to believe in biblical inerrancy, one of the obvious problems is the issue of translation. Does God inspire each translation with equal force of literal truth? Are there some that are sanctioned and some not? How are we supposed to know? We do know this: all we have are translations and human-made copies (and that's not even counting the act of translation that must occur when relaying a divine message that enters your brain and must be put down in ink and parchment and pesky human words).

So what would our inerrantist friends say about this: There's a new Blogging the Bible post up at Slate, and between him and his readers, author David Plotz has uncovered in the Book of Judges what can only be a mistake in one translation or another, because the NRSV translation directly contradicts the others. What will we tell the children??
Here's an idea
If you go to all the trouble of putting your beloved assault weapons in a safe, maybe you shouldn't give the combination to your 13-year-old son. Just a thought.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Because nothing else is really going on in the news today, right? What have you been reading, listening to, watching?

Off His Medication Again?
We can only hope. David Lynch has a new film. It's 3 hours long and sounds like it will make no sense whatsoever. I can't wait.

Closing Shop
The Tower Records here in Nashville is closing. Is this happening in your town as well? I can't say I'm surprised. Tower was once the best place to get obscure, independent or import recordings, and also easily the best collection of classical and jazz. But, these days I can buy all of that and more, and cheaper, at Amazon. With that and iTunes, it's no wonder they went under. If anything, I'm surprised they lasted as long as they did. The real question is: seeing the technology and the economy change, why did they not try to get in front of this trend when they could have? Instead of offering downloads, some kind of make-your-own-CD kiosk, and great deals driving me to their website, they just kept re-filling the bins with mostly over-priced CDs. The only time I ever go into the store itself anymore is if I must have something before it could get to me in the mail, and I don't think Best Buy would carry it, or maybe to catch an in-store performance with a pretty girl. It's as if Tower has been just waiting to become obsolete. Why do that?

Anybody seen the new Scorsese film, The Departed, yet? I'm hoping to catch it this week.

Also, has anybody started watching the new Showtime show, Dexter? I stopped to watch it because it features the actor who played David on Six Feet Under. Too lazy right now to look up his name. But, did anyone else find it just weird, creepy, disturbing...and none of those in a good way?

If you're not familiar with the premise, it's this: he plays a super-smart homicide scene investigator (sounds like 10 other shows so far, right?) but he has an interesting hobby: he's a serial killer, who's decided to use his uncontrollable urges for the forces of, uh, good. He kills bad people on the side. Hard to see how a show like that could be bad, I know.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

And Will We Care For Them When They're Home?
"September was horrific."
Last month, 776 U.S. troops were wounded in action in Iraq, the highest number since the military assault to retake the insurgent-held city of Fallujah in November 2004, according to Defense Department data. It was the fourth-highest monthly total since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003.
[I]f the early October trend continues, this month could be "the worst month of the war," said John E. Pike, director of GlobalSecurity.org, a Virginia-based Web site that tracks defense issues.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Our Work Here is Done
Ok, now baseball season is over. Tigers win.

Friday, October 06, 2006

The Pelosi Agenda
I'm on record as saying that there is plenty of reason to be excited to vote for Democrats next month even if they offer zero new positive ideas. Republicans are ruining the country - vote Democrat. That's my slogan. But for those of you who want to rest on an even more constructive agenda (or for those people you know who do), Nancy Pelosi has announced her immediate legislative agenda should she become Speaker of the House in a Democratic takeover. She's not thinking about 100 days. She's thinking about 100 hours.

The plan? First, lobbyist reform to keep corporate lobbyists from having too direct of a role in the legislation process. Second, enact all the reforms recommended by the 9/11 commission. Third, raise the minimum wage.

Then, in order: Cut the interest rate on student loans, Medicare reform that will allow the govt. to negotiate with drug companies for lower drug prices, expand federal funding of stem-cell research, then implementing budget restrictions that would keep the deficit from expanding.

Sounds pretty good to me. I'd like to see House Democrats/candidates embrace this agenda and keep touting it, and not have it disappear like so many other Democratic attempts at this kind of promise.
Friday's Good News and Bad News
The Good news:
--It's Friday!
--Republicans are still shaking in their boots.
--Ford is up 5 now in a new Gallup poll! If all of those new Gallup polls hold up (Whitehouse by 11 in RI, McCaskill by 3 in MO, Menendez by 3 in NJ, then expected wins in MT, PA and OH would give Democrats the Senate. Don't forget to make sure everyone you know is registered to vote *and votes.* We liberals - especially the crazy kids - are great at talking a bit anti-fascist game, but when it's time to make the jaunt to the polls we can somehow lose our daily motivation. Don't let that happen this time.

Here's the bad news:
Bush is still President. And he doesn't seem to care a bit what Congress thinks or does:
President Bush this week asserted that he has the executive authority to disobey a new law in which Congress has set minimum qualifications for future heads of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Congress passed the law last week as a response to FEMA's poor handling of Hurricane Katrina.
Bush signed the homeland-security bill on Wednesday morning. Then, hours later, he issued a signing statement saying he could ignore the new restrictions. Bush maintains that under his interpretation of the Constitution, the FEMA provision interfered with his power to make personnel decisions.
What's your good and bad news today?

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Register to Vote
I'm sure you are all registered to vote. But likely you know people that aren't. In Tennessee the registration deadline for the November election is next week. Back during the height of the Dean campaign, I carried around voter registration forms with me. Yes, that made me a complete dork. But I registered over 100 people during the course of that stretch, not a bad feeling. Even if you don't carry them around, you can harass the people you know that aren't registered, send them a link to forms online in your state, whatever it takes.
I haven't read the book, and not sure I care to (does anyone here have any recommendation, for or against?). But the blog is pretty interesting. Also, I just like the fact that a book can have its own blog (paving the way, no doubt, for Freakonomics 2).
This is getting sickening...When does the Iraq War become even more pointless, more hopeless, more disastrous than Vietnam? 14 more US families lost a son or a daughter this week alone, not to mention what's happened to Iraqi families.
More blasts rocked Baghdad on Thursday, spreading yet more carnage during what was already Iraq's worst week for bombings since the United States invasion, and as US casualties continued to mount.

For the fourth time this year a bomb exploded in bustling Tehran Square in downtown Baghdad, wounding at least 20 day labourers waiting at a spot popular for seeking work, security and medical officials said. [my emphasis]

I heard Woodward on Larry King the other night say that he thinks this War is already more important, because it is in the heart of such an important, volatile region of the world. Yeah, he's a jerk for taking Bush/Cheney's word for so much for his first 2 books, but maybe that means conservatives will have a better chance of hearing him now say we are in a state of national crisis and are being misled daily.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Moral Degenerates
Speaker Hastert, looking to keep his job, went to Rush Limbaugh yesterday looking for support (which he, of course, got). Glenn Greenwald has a few things to say about that. Excerpting will do it no justice. Read the whole thing.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Unity in Baseball
Just a reminder that we can all come together in this baseball post-season, even if your team is no longer playing. Whether you're a fan of the Red Sox, the Cubs, the Braves, Reds, White Sox or Astros, we can all agree on this one thing: hating the Yankees. For this week at least, we are all Detroit Tigers.

update: at 5-0 in the 4th inning, though, we're not off to a good start.
To be clear...yeah it's fun watching the DC Republican Party fall apart as they bicker with one another...but that's the only fun part, the fact that as an organization they were unable to address obvious warning signs with any kind of responsible integrity, and are unable to handle the fallout of that truth without trampling over one another as they stab each other in the back.

To me, the part of the story involving Rep. Foley is over. I don't need anymore details of his actions to have a clear enough idea of what he's about; plus he's resigned. I hope he in fact did not commit any physical crimes against minors, and especially hope his improper activity doesn't extend to children below the age of the 16 year olds we already know about. If those 2 things are true, the damage he has done will be somewhat limited we can hope, and he remains little more than a pathetic figure--a footnote to the election of 2006.

The real story here is the coverup, hypocrisy, desire to maintain power at all costs and a fundamentally ego-driven failure of leadership within the Republican Party. The thing is, we've all known those things about them. What brings any glee out of this episode is its ability to demonstrate in simple terms that truth to anyone and everyone who may not have reached the conclusion yet, despite ample evidence. They're only showing what we already know about them: that they can't be trusted.

There's nothing fun about watching this sad/pathetic man fall, certainly nothing pleasant about hearing of his misdeeds. If I'm glad the story will continue it's not because I want the spotlight on him. If he doesn't receive another minute of press attention, nobody would be happier about that than me. But Republican leadership's attitudes about the transgressions of their members--and their own caretaking of minors when a clear and obvious threat presented itself--that deserves all the scrutiny and light of day it has coming.
See? What did I tell you....Republicans are saying stupid things too often to keep up. Not unlike another famous Tony Perkins who was known to pass the buck (it was mom!), the Family Research Council's Tony Perkins has found the perfect object of blame in the Foley fiasco: "tolerance and diversity." If it weren't for those 2 scourges on humanity things like this would never happen.
Wooohoooo [UPDATED]
Hastert isn't resigning!! But the Washington Times is calling for it, and now Majority Leader Beohner is reverting back to his throw-Denny-under-the-bus statements. How fabulous! This could go on for weeks... Keep fighting, Denny!

If they actually got together and offered some resignations from leadership and some apologies, people might get the mistaken impression that they care about something other than their own need for personal power and this story would actually go away. Luckily for us, that is indeed all they care about. Here's hoping the Speaker lasts until Thursday at least.

[UPDATE: Not to worry...it looks like this story has legs.]

Monday, October 02, 2006

Congressman, you're no alcoholic...
Every 10 minutes or so, another Republican says something ridiculous about congress's new sexual-predatorgate. On CNN, they just said that Hastert is instituting new "safeguards" to keep this page scandal from happening again. Their example? A 1-800 number for pages and their families to call to expose other (hopefully Democratic) congressmen. Yeah, that's what these teenagers need to be safe...a help line.

But best of all right now is Foley's decision to check himself into rehab. The first sentence of his statement: "I strongly believe I am an alcoholic..." Funny, I thought denial was the first step?? When have you ever heard any alcoholic send himself into rehab with that kind of statement?

Once again Democrats know how to accomplish this more convincingly. Patrick Kennedy drove himself into a cement bunker and slept through it, not remembering a thing the next day. And oh yeah, he apparently took pills too. Now, that's an alcoholic. Come on, Congressman Foley...you're just a creep with a thing for children under your charge. I almost think it's time for a Lloyd Bentsen moment..."Congressman, I've known alcoholics...alcoholics have been friends of mine..."
Promote Cliff Schecter
What Atrios said. This is how you do it. Watch.

How am I supposed to have Media Monday with power-hungry pedophiles of the Republican Party imploding all around me?
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