Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Chad Johnson is apparently willing to be suspended for his art. I am intrigued.

The New York Post is reporting that Jeanine Pirro plans to drop out of the race to defeat Hillary and "switch" to the attorney general race. Because I guess she felt that she'd milked the Senate race for all the personal embarrassment it was worth, and wanted a new challenge.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Headline from the Cincinnati Enquirer: Replacement Jesus Found.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Traveling for the next few weeks. Have a great holiday, loyal readers (ha!).

Saturday, December 17, 2005

In the latest issue of GQ, Terrell Owens wonders if the media's out to get him:

The things that I’ve done in the past, like celebrate in the end zone—they’re making a fanfare out of it now with [Bengals wide receiver] Chad Johnson, with all the celebrations that he’s done, they’re like congratulating him for it. But if it was me? They’d be like, "Oh, we don’t need this in football, this is not good for football." Not that Chad is doing something wrong—it’s not his fault—but you kind of wonder, Do they have it out for me?
To an extent, he's got a point. Some of his celebrations have been great: the Sharpie was genius, and the Ray Lewis dance was clever. But there are two very important differences between T.O. from Chad Johnson. The first is that Chad Johnson seems to be a pretty nice guy, whereas T.O. is kind of a dick. The second is that Chad Johnson's celebrations are invariably meant to amuse (the snow-covered sign ["Dear NFL: Please don't fine me again. Merry Christmas."] is still the best touchdown celebration I've ever seen), whereas Owens's celebrations often seemed designed to belittle. Do people have a different standard for T.O. than they have to Chad Johnson? Absolutely. But he brought it on himself. If he wasn't such a jerk all the time, people wouldn't be so quick to criticize.

Leo McGarry has shuffled off this mortal coil. I didn't know John Spencer, obviously, but he played a great character (most of the time) on a (once-) great TV show, and for that, I will miss him.

As far as I can tell, this leaves the producers of The West Wing with three options for the upcoming election: (1) Alan Alda wins, moving depressingly toward reality and sending the show spiraling even further down the dark hole of crap into which it's been digging itself since Aaron Sorkin left; (2) Jimmy Smits replaces Leo with a new vice presidential candidate, but still somehow manages to win, abandoning any pretense of reality and sending the show spiraling even further down the dark hole of crap into which it's been digging itself since Aaron Sorkin left; or (3) the season seven finale, in which Bartlet leaves office, is The West Wing's last hurrah.

I hope I made it clear which one I vote for.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Bono and Jesse Helms clasp hands in friendship. Or maybe arm wrestle. Either way, it's a bummer, because it means we've entered some sort of parallel universe, and those are never good.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Former gang leader Tookie Williams was executed this morning over the course of thirty-four "frustrating" minutes ("Hello, San Quentin? Hi, this is the Eighth Amendment. Yeah. Yeah, we've got some concerns.").

Now, I don't like the death penalty, so I'm obviously pretty biased, but it seems that even if I wasn't morally opposed to capital punishment, it wouldn't be a very good choice in this particular case. See here:1

We use the death penalty to (A) punish, (B) comfort, and (C) deter.

(A) is surely met. We wanted to punish Tookie Williams, and we punished Tookie Williams. Whether or not that punishment is just is irrelevent for determining whether or not the death penalty served to punish. It did.

(B) is probably met, as well. The family of the victims was happy with the decision to allow the execution, and as they're the only people that the death penalty is really meant (on legal grounds, I believe, though certainly not public policy ones) to comfort, I suppose that is sufficient.

But then you get to (C). And (C) is a mess. (A) applies to the malfeasor; (B) applies to the malfeasee2; (C) applies to everyone else. The application of the death penalty in a given case is not meant to deter the wrongdoer from further wrongdoing; the judicial system trusts that he'll be plenty deterred by the life-in-prison that he'll be awarded if the death penalty is denied. Instead, the application of capital punishment is meant to deter future criminals from wrongdoing, and in light of that, the death penalty - as applies to Tookie Williams - is asinine.

To put it crassly, which is the more valuable commodity?

  • 1. A former gang leader who very publicly encourages young people to avoid gangs, or
  • 2. A former gang leader who is dead.

    It reminds me of a quote from an episode of West Wing (from the days when it was great):
    Leo: And you think ratcheting up the body count's gonna act as a deterrant?
    Bartlet: You're damn right I-
    Leo: Then you are just as stupid as these guys who think capital punishment is going to be a deterrant for drug kingpins. As if drug kingpins didn't live their day to day lives under the possibility of execution, and their executions are a lot less dainty than ours and tend to take place without the bother and expense of due process.
    Honestly, what's the deterrent effect here? By and large, the people who join gangs are not people with a lot of other opportunites. At best, Williams's execution makes Joe Tough hesitate slightly before making a decision that he's going to make anyway; at worst, it creates a perverse incentive for those on death row not to bother with the effort of reforming themselves (or at least publicly preaching a reformation message to others), since it won't lead to any tangible benefit.

    I know Tookie Williams wasn't going to save the world. But he would have saved more kids as an anti-gang advocate than he'll save as a death penalty statistic. The California judicial system has made a unfortunate mistake.
    1 - And note that this is written entirely without research, and entirely within thirty minutes, so I wouldn't vouch for it as anything other than an illustration of my own personal reasoning.
    2 - Not a word.

  • Reps. Marty Meehan and Richard Neal apparently split the rent on a cheerful, swingin' party pad in the District:

    "We don't have a kitchen table," said Rep. Marty Meehan, a Lowell Democrat who sleeps in a 1970s-era bed in the one-bedroom apartment he shares with Rep. Richard Neal, D-Springfield. "The refrigerator is empty."

    Meehan, purported to be the neat one who occupies the bedroom, emphasized that Neal sleeps in a different and perhaps older hand-me-down bed in the living room. "It's kind of a bed," explained Meehan, noting that it once lurked in former Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill's Washington pad decades ago.
    Neal is older and more senior than Meehan; how come he gets stuck being The Guy on the Couch?

    Seriously, though: can we please pay these people more?

    Why are terrorists bad? According to Michigan State Senator and noted tolerance advocate Alan Cropsey, it's because they're "less likely to celebrate Christmas."

    "Integrity" heads up a list of the most-looked-up words of 2005. Not on the list: irony.

    Ralph Whitehead, a journalism professor at the University of Massachusetts, said it might indicate the continuing discussion about American values and morality, or perhaps that integrity itself is becoming scarce so its definition is unfamiliar. "You hope integrity is a word everyone understands," he said.
    You heard it here first,* folks: integrity has become so scarce that no one knows what it is anymore. Go Bob Ney!

    * - Unless you count the Associated Press.

    Monday, December 12, 2005

    Bill Richardson takes time out of his busy schedule of being drafted to lobby for a New Mexican NFL franchise:

    Richardson and league Commissioner Paul Tagliabue have scheduled a meeting Tuesday - a day after Richardson plans to attend a Democratic Governors Association holiday reception in Washington, D.C.

    "It's a very preliminary meeting," said Gilbert Gallegos, a Richardson spokesman. "He wants to discuss the RFP process that's ongoing and to get suggestions from [Tagliabue] about getting a team for New Mexico."
    For reference, the only way to make this idea worse: if the franchise designated to become Albuquerque's NFL team was the Pittsburgh Penguins.

    Interesting fact: Barack Obama didn't graduate from law school until he was 30.

    Thursday, December 08, 2005

    Need to buy a present for a feeble-minded three-year-old, but can't think of any ideas? These folks have the answer. Highlights include the "Twisty Thing, That is Red," and the "Freedom Dinger" (with its accompanying "wood stick that can be used as a remote control").

    Who's stupider: Ann Coulter or her UConn audience? CNN wants to know.

    John Tierney, strangely enough, has a good idea:

    Instead of just financing NASA's plans for Mars, Congress and the White House should make it compete against engineers like [Burt] Rutan. It could offer a prize, to be awarded by the National Academy of Engineering or the National Research Council, for the best plan on paper for a manned mission to Mars.
    I don't think we should decrease NASA's funding, and I certainly don't think we should force it into any sort of "earn-your-dinner" competition for appropriations; on the contrary, I think it's a shame we don't spend more money on NASA. But without getting into that debate, surely it wouldn't be too hard to shift around a couple of non-NASA budget line-items and come up with $10 or $20 million (which, for reference, is about one-eighth of the cost of a new F/A-22) to give some private-industry types the incentive to get involved in the space program. The X-Prize proved that you didn't need to spend a gazillion dollars to get people excited; the winning team (led by the above-mentioned Rutan) spent about $25 million to win the $10 million award. So let's put some money out there, give people some time, and see what happens. It can't hurt.

    Kooky Christians - determined to be unhappy until either A) theirs is officially declared the best and only religion in the world, or B) the rapture - are pissed off that the White House [holiday] card says "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas."

    Bush "claims to be a born-again, evangelical Christian. But he sure doesn't act like one," said Joseph Farah, editor of the conservative Web site "I threw out my White House card as soon as I got it."
    And then later:
    At the Catholic League, Donohue had just announced a boycott of the Lands' End catalogue when he received his White House holiday card. True, he said, the Bushes included a verse from Psalm 28, but Psalms are in the Old Testament and do not mention Jesus' birth.
    Do these people hear themselves speak?

    Wednesday, December 07, 2005

    Sen. Bob Menendez? I have no particular objection to Menendez (other than that awful picture), but 2006 is going to be a heck of a challenge.

    Mark Warner (the article conveniently features a creepy picture of him, in case you don't know his face) raises $2.5 million with a single meal. To put that in terms you little people can understand, that's exactly $2,500,007.56 more than I raised during my gala dinner at Subway last night. Mark Warner 1, Mike 0.

    Handicapping the World Baseball Classic. Because why the devil not?

    Round 1
    Pool A: Ichiro, Matsui, and the entire Japanese Major League, playing six home games in a row? Japan's coming out on top, no question. The second spot will go to Korea in a squeaker over Chinese Taipei. Sorry, China.
    Pool B: U.S. and Canada, barring something surprising from Mexico. The sheer starpower of the American team makes it easy to worry about a basketball-style Dream Team meltdown, but Buck Rodriguez will whip them into shape, no problem. U-S-A, U-S-A!
    Pool C: Puerto Rico comes out of this bracket smelling like a rose (the savvy reader will note that the home team has yet to lose), with the second spot hotly contested by Cuba and Panama. Panama will win it, but Cuba will put up a fight. (And those poor bastards on the Netherlands team are going to be playing, essentially, "Who gets to carry Andruw Jones's bat during practice?")
    Pool D: Finally, some excitement: Venezuela v. Dominican Republic (no home team this time). That'll be a great game, but there's no real pressure: they're both advancing to Round 2. Speaking of which....

    Round 2
    Pool AB: Canada and Korea are great countries, I'm sure, and they are each notable for producing literally tens of thousands of baseball players more talented than yours truly, but there's no reason to expect that they'll be advancing beyond Round 2. Nice talkin' to you; onward and upward.
    Pool CD: The Latin explosion! Puerto Rico, Panama, Venezuela, and the Dominicans, all in the same pool. Sweet Jesus, that's a lot of talent for one body of chlorinated water. Expect some early-inning shutouts and some late-inning slugfests, but when the dust settles, Venezuela and the D.R. will be moving on.

    Semi AB: Japan v. United States. The Japanese team's looked pretty good up to this point. They'll have played the U.S. twice, and I wouldn't be surprised to hear that they've won one of those games. But no way they win the rubber match; the U.S. is just too powerful. U.S. beats Japan, 4-2.
    Semi CD: Venezuela v. Dominican Republic. Venezuela's going to put up a great team, but in the end, they'll fall to the Dominican Powerhouse. The only way Venezuela can win is if the D.R.'s divas go overboard ("just Manny being Manny" doesn't fly when the entire team does it), but the coaching staff knows to expect it, and they'll be on the lookout. The Dominicans whomp the Venezuelans, 8-3.

    U.S.A. v. Dominican Republic, PETCO Park. Otherwise known as "The 2006 All-Star Game." Seriously, of the 2005 All-Star Game's 18 starters, 11 have announced which country they'll play for, and 8 of those 11 will be in this game (A-Rod will make it 9 of 12, once he decides which of these two teams he'll be playing for). The U.S. team is impressive, but for big bats, there's no one in the world who can top the Dominicans: Pujols (1B), Soriano (2B), Tejada (SS), Vlad (RF), Manny (LF), and Ortiz (DH) - plus a possible A-Rod (3B) - all in the same lineup? Christ. The U.S. pitching staff is good (Buehrle, Clemens, Halladay, Sabathia, Sheets, Smoltz, Willis, Zito), but they can't all pitch at the same time. The Dominicans win the World Baseball Classic in a shootout, 11-7. You heard it here first, folks.

    Monday, December 05, 2005

    Mark Warner, (off the record) at Saturday's Gridiron dinner:

    "That's why, if I do run for president, I may ask Senator Allen to be my running mate. Think about it - what's more presidential than this: I'm a red-state governor, who failed at a couple of businesses, and I liked to party too much in college, and I recently got in a well-publicized bike accident. He's a guy named George who's done nothing more than live off his dad's legacy. Together we wouldn't just get elected president - together, we already are the president."

    During a recent speech, former Somebody Tom Daschle - a man who lost a 2004 Senate race to a certifiable lunatic - expressed "some frustration with the way Democrat John Kerry of Massachusetts ran his campaign for president last year."

    The pot; the kettle; the name-calling... it's too much! Too much!

    Weekend Update on Saturday (courtesy of The Hotline):

    Tina Fey: "A new study suggests that middle-aged adults who go on periodic drinking binges may face a heightened risk of dementia later in life. The study is entitled, "National Strategy for Victory in Iraq."

    Sunday, December 04, 2005

    Ted Sorenson and Arthur Schlesinger come out swinging:

    What did we not hear from President Bush when he spoke last week at the United States Naval Academy about his strategy for victory in Iraq?

    We did not hear that the war in Iraq, already one of the costliest wars in American history, is a running sore. We did not hear that it has taken more than 2,000 precious American lives and countless - because we do not count them - Iraqi civilian lives. We did not hear that the struggle has dragged on longer than our involvement in either World War I or the Spanish-American War, or that by next spring it will be even longer than the Korean War.

    And we did not hear how or when the president plans to bring our forces back home - no facts, no numbers on America troop withdrawals, no dates, no reference to our dwindling coalition, no reversal of his disdain for the United Nations, whose help he still expects.
    "Because we do not count them": nice.

    An interesting - if surprising - column by Nick Kristof, advocating deer-hunting:

    As for deer, partly because hunting is perceived as brutal and vaguely psychopathic, towns are taking out contracts on deer through discreet private companies. Greenwich, Conn., budgeted $47,000 this year to pay a company to shoot 80 deer from raised platforms over four nights - as well as $8,000 for deer birth control. Look, this is ridiculous.
    He's got a point, but it's hard to get past that whole "brutal and vaguely phychopathic" thing. I wonder if there have been many academic studies on whether hunters are systematically more... well, brutal and psychopathic than their non-hunting brethren. If I was a little less lazy, I'd do some research, but I'm not, so I'll just speculate idly.

    Letterman writer Tom Ruprecht uncovers several instances of political résumé-padding in the wake of Gov. Bill Richardson's (D-Oakland Athletics D-N.M.) admission that he was not, in fact, drafted by the Oakland Athletics:

    Harry Reid, the Senate minority leader, announces he's no longer sure he was actually the first man to walk on the moon. The admission comes after years of acrimony between Senator Reid and Neil Armstrong. "You look at photos of the moon landing and it sort of resembles how I think I would kind of look in a spacesuit," Mr. Reid says. "People tell me that all the time. I do have very vivid memories of seeing the earth from high above, but I now realize I may have been on a Ferris wheel."

    Colbert the other night (in the midst of a pro-death-penalty rant):

    Most disappointingly, my own Catholic church is against the death penalty. Well that's pretty hypocritical, considering they wouldnt even have a religion if it weren't for capital punishment.

    Saturday, December 03, 2005

    Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas A&M University) announces his intention to conduct a "comprehensive review" of the "deeply flawed" BCS. Sour grapes because the Aggies aren't bowl-eligible this year, perhaps?

    Thursday, December 01, 2005

    In the interest of back-to-back picture-posts, here's a Senate resolution that I've had laying around for a while, but never got around to scanning until this afternoon. I've always felt that this resolution, dated May 19, 1981, should have more of a following on the Internet, but it doesn't come up very often.

    Click the picture to read the whole thing (it's short), but the gist is that Daniel Patrick Moynihan sought to express the sense of the Senate that the Hart S.O.B. be rewrapped in plastic construction sheathing in order to improve the building's aesthetics.

    Brilliant. (And not a bad idea.)

    You know those smarmy "Jesus: He's the Reason for the Season" bumper stickers and window signs that you always see around this time? How come they never show up at other times of the year?

    I think the world's sign-makers are missing a serious opportunity. With a little imagination, you could have one for every major holiday: Valentine's Day (Cupid), Easter (Sad Jesus), Hanukkah (Oil), Pearl Harbor Day (Hirohito?). The sky's the limit.

    Wednesday, November 30, 2005

    You're the Governor of Culleyfornia; your poll numbers are stagnant and you've recently had your ass handed to you by the Culleyfornian electorate. How do you turn it around? Simple. You hire the people who made Gray Davis such a success.

    Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger - attempting to regain his political footing after a devastating special election defeat this month - has begun a shakeup of his administration by replacing his chief of staff with a former state Democratic Party official and top adviser to former Gov. Gray Davis, Democratic and Republican sources said Tuesday.

    Monday, November 28, 2005

    This is pretty bizarre:

    Given that they stand some 30 feet tall, their disappearance is attracting a good deal of attention here - even as their final destination remains a mystery.

    Thieves are sawing down aluminum light poles. Some 130 have vanished from Baltimore's streets in the last several weeks, the authorities say, presumably sold for scrap metal. But so far the case of the pilfered poles has stumped the police, and left many local residents wondering just how someone manages to make off with what would seem to be a conspicuous street fixture.

    The poles, which weigh about 250 pounds apiece, have been snatched during the day and in the middle of the night, from two-lane blacktop roads and from parkways with three lanes on either side of grass median strips, in poor areas and in some of the city's most affluent neighborhoods. Left behind are half-foot stubs of metal, with wires that carry 120 volts neatly tied and wrapped in black electric tape.

    Rep. Duke Cunningham (R-Ca.) resigns following his guilty plea on a bribery charge, leaving the mayor of Topeka, KS, as the highest-ranking non-indicted Republican official in the country.

    Congressional casualties!

    Two Members of Congress were injured on Saturday when their Humvee veered off a Baghdad road:

    Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Pennsylvania, was airlifted to a military hospital in Germany for an MRI on his neck, and Rep. Ike Skelton, D-Missouri, was sent to a Baghdad hospital, said U.S. Rep. Jim Marshall. Marshall, a Georgia Democrat, was in the vehicle but was not hurt.
    O, ye heartless thugs, ye feckless... well, thugs. That's 1/217.5 of the People's House, savagely wounded by the despicable al-Qaeda-insurgent bastards who were no doubt driving them around. Who's next? A senator? A governor? A cabinet-member? Never mind the troops for the time being; bring home the VIPs!

    Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) heads to Philly to raise some money for Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Crazy). Hate to see that, don't you?

    PS: I'm back, baby! I was out of town for the holiday, but now I'm back and better than ever. Let the fun begin.

    Tuesday, November 22, 2005

    This from the tail end of an article about the military-accountability triumvirate of Sens. Tinker, Evers, and Chance*:

    For Democrats, who have spent months trying to put the public spotlight on the issues of detainee treatment and the war in Iraq, the three Republicans are like some kind of gift from the political gods. After the Senate overwhelmingly adopted Mr. Warner's measure on the war, Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., Democrat of Delaware, stood slack-jawed.

    * - Allusion for the sake of allusion. Actual senators: Warner, McCain, and Graham.

    Monday, November 21, 2005

    Newsweek fingers the odd man out:

    So who is Novak's source—and Woodward's source—and why will his identity take the wind out of the brewing storm? One by one last week, a parade of current and former senior officials, including the CIA's George Tenet and national-security adviser Stephen Hadley, denied being the source. A conspicuous exception was former deputy secretary of State Richard Armitage, whose office would only say, "We're not commenting." He was one of a handful of top officials who had access to the information. He is an old source and friend of Woodward's, and he fits Novak's description of his source as "not a partisan gunslinger." Woodward has indicated that he knows the identity of Novak's source, which further suggests his source and Novak's were one and the same.
    Has anyone asked Mark Felt?

    In related news, the Washington Post spanks golden (olden) boy Bob Woodward for failing to be, ahem, entirely upfront about his Plameish insider information:
    It boils down to this: There ought to be clear rules, easy for readers and Post staffers to understand, about Woodward's job at The Post. He has to operate under the rules that govern the rest of the staff - even if he's rich and famous.

    Pander much?

    Virginia Gov. Mark Warner, in his first visit to the state, told the New Hampshire Union Leader that as a southern state governor, he understands the national Democratic Party’s desire for more racial diversity early in the Presidential nominating calendar.

    "But there ought to be a way that that can be accomplished and at the same time maintain New Hampshire as the nation’s first primary," he said.

    "You have always had and always should have the first primary in the nation," Warner told the Democrats. "I can see it here today, a special sense of stewardship and responsibility."

    Sunday, November 20, 2005

    Despite Biden's pronouncement, I'm becoming increasingly convinced that not only will Alito be confirmed, but he'll be confirmed by an 80-20-type vote, rather than a 55-45-type vote. Face it: the friendly personality; the dozens of borderline-liberal former clerks and colleagues lining up in his defense; the abundant evidence of impressive mental acuity... the Bush administration has rebounded from the Miers debacle by re-nominating John Roberts.

    While there's no question this time that Alito is a died-in-the-wool conservative (as there [almost] was, and [almost] still is, with Roberts), I'm depressingly doubtful that he's conservative enough ("extreme" enough) to prompt the kind of liberal upswell that would create the possibility of a politically-palatable filibuster. Nor, frankly, am I even convinced at this point that such a filibuster would be a good idea. Damn you, Republicans! Damn you and your intelligent, qualified, not-quite-fanatical nominees!

    From this past Wednesday's New York Times:

    In a sign of an increased acceptance of Internet gambling, online casinos in recent months have signed endorsement deals with a group of celebrities, including Tom Arnold, the actor; Brooke Burke, a model turned television host; and Jim Kelly, a former quarterback for the Buffalo Bills.
    Yeah. Because nothing says "legitimacy" like Tom Arnold, Brooke Burke, and Jim Kelly. Honestly, could the betting sites have assembled a lamer group?

    I guess so.

    This just in: Reggie Bush is fast.

    Saturday, November 19, 2005

    The news highlight of the past two days (during which my posting has been - to say the least - sporadic) has to be Brad Pitt's condition-laden vist to Sen. Tom Harkin's (D-Iowa) office. According to the Hotline's On Call, Pitt's lengthy list of demands required that Harkin (1) clear his office, (2) not introduce Pitt to anyone, and (3) provide Pitt with a cold cut platter featuring normal-sized bread.* Harkin, perhaps remembering that he's a member of the United State Senate, took extra care to violate each and every one of Pitt's conditions, to the point of introducing Mr. Movie Star ("He got the personal introduction, along with their function and everthing else") to every single member of the staff.

    I like Brad Pitt as much as the next guy, but come on: if you're meeting with a Senator, the chances are pretty good that you're not the important one in the meeting, no matter how big a movie star you are.

    * - I actually made the third demand up, as an excuse to make a Spinal Tap reference.

    Friday, November 18, 2005

    A Norwegian webcam-using son (the son being Norwegian, not the webcam) saves his collapsed Californian mother by calling 911 from 5,000 miles (thank you, Google Earth) away.

    Pregnant woman drives in HOV lane; police object; woman contests ticket on the grounds that her unborn child qualifies as a passenger. Clever.

    Tuesday, November 15, 2005

    Alito reportedly backed away from the abortion's-not-a-right comment this afternoon, explaining that "1985 was a 'very different' time."

    Added George Michael: "Ain't that the truth."

    Today's Last Call's Shot and Chaser:


    "I did live in Alaska, summer of '74. And I remember it just like it was then, a vast, majestic land, so beautiful" - Bush (AP, 11/15).


    "Governor says no illegal drugs used since 1974" - Houston Chronicle (8/20/99).

    As of right now, this is the second graphic from the top on

    Now, I haven't seen the movie, so I'm willing to accept the possibility that this is some clever pun that I as a non-Willy-Wonka-seer simply do not understand. But on the off-chance (let's say) that it isn't, I thought I'd share it with you, my loyal readers, so that you might have the same chuckle that I did.

    Lefties assemble an anti-Alito coalition for the apparent express purpose of making my former co-editor's head explode.

    In addition to the [Alliance for Justice], a liberal legal group that focuses on judicial nominations, the coalition includes the abortion rights groups Naral Pro-Choice America and Planned Parenthood, as well as People for the American Way, the A.F.L.-C.I.O., the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Sierra Club.

    Monday, November 14, 2005

    Former Seinfeld writer Peter Mehlman explains Philip Roth's recent success. To summarize: it's the 'roids. Very nicely done.

    Sen. Rick Santorum (R-The Rapture) challenges Bob Casey to ten debates (one for each commandment, perhaps?), and the only news source I can find that's carrying the story is the Centre Daily Times. Way to be, CDT!

    Follow-Up: Hotline's On Call has the text of the letter, which says, I swear to God, "The specific details of each debate would be determined by you and I or our representatives."

    Makes a person pause, doesn't it? I guess you have to admire the man's brazenness. I mean, why bother proofreading? It's not like Santorum's press secretary was actually distributing copies of this letter to the media.

    Gavin Newsom (D-Future), in Iowa (of all places), on Democrats' public abandonment of their core positions:

    "We're running a 90-yard dash right now and not crossing the finish line," Newsom said. "We're not saying publicly what we say privately on many issues."

    As much as I hate (really, hate) to link to the Washington Times, this would certainly appear to be newsworthy.

    "It has been an honor and source of personal satisfaction for me to serve in the office of the Solicitor General during President Reagan's administration and to help to advance legal positions in which I personally believe very strongly," [Alito] wrote [in 1985]. "I am particularly proud of my contributions in recent cases in which the government has argued in the Supreme Court that racial and ethnic quotas should not be allowed and that the Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion."

    The Houston Chronicle picks former Commerce Secretary Don Evans as Andy Card's eventual replacement (should such replacement become necessary...).

    During Dave Barry's hiatus,* the Miami Herald publishes a "classic" column every Monday. Today's, "A handyman's guide to decks and other manmade disasters," is one of my all-time favorites (not quite in the Ernest-and-Zippy range, but certainly up there with some of his great stuff from the early-90s glory days). Chock full of helpful tips.

    * - And here's hoping that it stays a hiatus, without blossoming into something more permanent.

    Sunday, November 13, 2005

    From Yale law professor Robert Gordon: "Alito is a careful carpenter. [His opinions] are well built, but they are not beautiful."

    Quite a nice essay by the Dalai Lama calling for an open debate on the interaction of religion and science:

    While I agree that certain religious concepts conflict with scientific facts and principles, I also feel that people from both worlds can have an intelligent discussion, one that has the power ultimately to generate a deeper understanding of challenges we face together in our interconnected world.
    I've pretty much chosen sides in this one, but I'm hardly averse to the idea of an open, intelligent discussion. (Preferably one in which we give those religious types a damn good thrashing.)

    Saturday, November 12, 2005

    Kristol: The official champagne of true conservatives.*

    I really think the Weekly Standard is missing a valuable marketing opportunity here.

    * - This occurred to me in the shower, and I thought it was funny enough to do the hack-job Photoshoppery. (And by the way, for a scary Separated at Birth update, see below.)

    Separated at Birth Update!

    Remember that episode of the X-Files with all the clones named Eve?

    Eve Goss

    Eve Woodward

    Eve Kristol

    Who's crazy now, Scully?

    John Cusack lets fly with a 2,000-word disser-freakin'-tation at the Huffington Post. To wit:

    One question for any Democrat: Who will have the balls to get us out of Iraq? If the Democrats don't step up and fill this vacuum, the Republicans will. They will take us out of Iraq. And then the Democrats will be left holding the bag - first as the enablers who let the Republicans take us into an unnecessary and immoral war, and then as the whipping boys who stood by while the Republicans kept justifying what was clearly an unnecessary and immoral war. They were so worried about positioning themselves as hawks, not being seen as soft on terror and war, that they lost the capacity for outrage when the person responsible for a legal memo that denied the validity of the Geneva Conventions was appointed Attorney General. And it was downhill from there.

    Marion Barry: almost always good for a laugh. This from a bizarre story about a new gasification machine that has Mr. Barry all atwitter (is he, like, selling these machines?):

    [The gasifier] now sits in a parking lot across from Union Temple Baptist Church. On Wednesday, the church's pastor, [Rev. Willie] Wilson, confronted Barry about placing the machine in a parking lot used by the church. The confrontation between Barry and Wilson devolved into a yelling match so heated that police intervened.

    Wilson called Barry a liar and told him to watch his mouth, according to footage of the fracas captured by WRC-TV (Channel 4). In return, Barry called Wilson "power hungry" and threatened to have the church's nonprofit status "investigated."

    "He's out of his mind, being un-Christian and crazy like that," Barry said. "What's wrong with him?"

    "What's wrong with him," indeed.

    Via Last Call this afternoon: "It's about time Pat Robertson and Cindy Sheehan had a crazy-off to settle this thing once and for all."

    Here's a fun number I saw floating around yesterday: Exxon Mobil's third-quarter earnings, "among the biggest quarterly profits of any company in history," translate to a per-second profit of about $1,250 (or roughly $4.5 million every hour).

    Friday, November 11, 2005

    Oh, the irony:

    "The stakes in the global war on terror are too high and the national interest is too important for politicians to throw out false charges."

    Judith Miller calls it quits (and posts a disappointingly-straightforward response to Maureen Dowd on her website).

    Sen. Bill Frist brims with righteous indignation when discussing the recent leak of classified secret-prisons information, but he'd like to be very clear: he doesn't care that we have secret prisons, or what we do in them; he's just pissed off that word got out:

    Frist was asked if that meant he was not concerned about investigating what goes on in detention centers. "I am not concerned about what goes on and I'm not going to comment about the nature of that," Frist replied.
    To be fair, it should be noted that Frist's reaction to the Valerie Plame disclosure a couple of years ago was equally indignant and entirely consistent with... No, wait, sorry. I'm thinking of Joe Wilson. Frist didn't really have a problem with that one.

    Thursday, November 10, 2005

    Dover, Pennsylvania, ousts its entire pro-intelligent design school board. Take that, God!

    In response, Nutty Pat Robertson threatens Holy Revenge:

    "I'd like to say to the good citizens of Dover: if there is a disaster in your area, don't turn to God, you just rejected Him from your city."
    "You've had your chance, Dover! The Good Lord hereby washes his hands of you. I personally look forward to dancing all all of your graves. Heathens!"

    On Tuesday, the city of Hillsdale, Michigan, elected by write-in an 18-year-old mayor.

    A cheer went up in the Sessions home when the results were announced over the radio. The Hillsdale High School student lives with his parents and 13-year-old sister Sarah.
    The mayor-elect, Michael Sessions, defeated a 51-year-old incumbent, raising the question, "What the hell kind of campaign did that guy run?"

    Wednesday, November 09, 2005

    You heard it here first: Stephen Colbert has just proposed that Drew Rosenhaus take Scott McClellan's place at the White House podium. What a marvelous idea.

    Other Election Day results: Kwame Kilpatrick somehow pulled it off, California voters embarrassed the Schwarzengovernor, and Texas - by approving a constitutional ban on gay marriage - did its level-best to make the state even less tolerant than it already is. But let's be honest: they didn't have far to fall. (Maine, incidentally, defeated a similar measure; its gay marriage law will stand.)

    A great quote from PETA, courtesy of Wake-Up Call (which, in turn, got it from the New York Daily News):

    Dick Cheney's annual poultry-plugging pilgrimage to South Dakota is again drawing fire from animal-rights activists. "When we first heard that Dick Cheney was hunting pheasants, we thought that it might be a misspelling of 'peasants,'" PETA rep Jen McClure told us.

    Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) tries JDate. (Because it worked so well for Steve Rothman (D-NJ)....)

    I know it's old news now, but I thought I ought to at least mention it here: Corzine's awesome, Forrester's not; Kaine's awesome, Kilgore's not. The voters have spoken. Bring it on, '06!

    Tuesday, November 08, 2005

    This just in: Drew "I Love This Man" Rosenhaus might be a bigger slimeball than even Scott McClellan, my personal slimeball du jour.*

    * - French for "really big asshole."

    Alleged FNC vice president Joe Chillemi allegedly harrassed alleged women. Allegedly.

    The suit charges that Mr. Chillemi, in a discussion about a television segment focusing on sexism in the workplace, said, "Of course I'd pick the man" if he had to choose between a woman and a man for the same position, because he was concerned that a woman could become pregnant and leave her job.
    "Plus," Chillemi added, "we could never embed her with combat troops, because she'd probably get some kind of infection from spending all that time in a ditch."

    Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) plagiarizes blogger. Shame ensues.

    This is preposterous, and Brown should be chastised, but I'd like it to be noted for the record that should any Member of Congress choose to plagiarize anything I've written, my protestations can be readily silenced via a surprisingly small "donation" to my "campaign fund." Wink, wink.

    The New York Times editorializes:

    After President Bush's disastrous visit to Latin America, it's unnerving to realize that his presidency still has more than three years to run. An administration with no agenda and no competence would be hard enough to live with on the domestic front. But the rest of the world simply can't afford an American government this bad for that long.

    Sam Alito's thesis adviser, fresh off his dis of W., slams Clarence Thomas:

    "Sam is his own man," Murphy said. "He'll never be 'Scalito.' And then it's a gross insult to say in the mold of Clarence Thomas. Their IQs are so radically different.... We're not talking about someone in Sam's intellectual league."

    A friendly reminder to my loyal readers: after years of scandal and corruption, New Jersey election laws are sufficiently mangled so as to not actually require individual voters to be registered - or, indeed, present - in the state in order to vote in its elections. And thanks to an innovative vote-matching program sponsored by Johnson and Johnson, votes cast between 1:30 and 2:30 in the afternoon this year will count double! So vote early and vote often, people. It's what good Americans do.

    Time magazine reports that "well-wired" conservatives (oxymoron?) predict a bit of an exodus:

    If [Rove] leaves, he will not be alone. Several well-wired Administration officials predict that within a year, the President will have a new chief of staff and press secretary, probably a new Treasury Secretary and maybe a new Defense Secretary.

    Monday, November 07, 2005

    Matt Santos broke out the liberal laundry list last night on West Wing's debate episode. It made me cheer, so I thought I'd post it:

    Santos: I know you like to use that word, “liberal,” as if it were a crime.
    Vinick: No, I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have used that word. I know Democrats think “liberal” is a bad word. So bad you had to change it, didn’t you? What do you call yourself now, “progressives,” is that it?
    Santos: It’s true. Republicans have tried to turn “liberal” into a bad word. Well liberals ended slavery in this country.
    Vinick: A Republican president ended slavery.
    Santos: Yes, a liberal Republican, Senator. What happened to them? They got run out of your party. What did liberals do that was so offensive to the liberal [sic] party? I’ll tell you what they did. Liberals got women the right to vote. Liberals got African Americans the right to vote. Liberals created Social Security and lifted millions of elderly people out of poverty. Liberals ended segregation. Liberals passed the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act. Liberals created Medicare. Liberals passed the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act. What did conservatives do? They opposed every single one of those things, every one. So when you try to hurl that label at my feet, “liberal,” as if it were something to be ashamed of, something dirty, something to run away from, it won’t work, Senator. Because I will pick up that label, and I will wear it as a badge of honor.
    Yeah! Take that, "Alan Alda"!

    Sunday, November 06, 2005

    Krugman uncovers the "unpublished additional material" originally written by Hans Christian Andersen to accompany The Emporer's New Suit. Allegorific!

    My loyal readers (ha!) will note the changes I've made this weekend, which include for the first time (1) a list of links, (2) a fancy drop-down menu for the archive (which, admittedly, seems less fancy when you realize that Blogger provides the code to anyone who wants it), and (3) a Greatest Hits page, which took forever to put together. Call it a thank you for your years of devoted readership.

    Saturday, November 05, 2005

    Boo ABC!

    Despite the far-reaching importance of this afternoon's Penn State-Wisconsin game - importance for the teams, for the conference, and for the BCS - ABC affiliates in my area have been instructed to broadcast NC State-Florida State in that timeslot. Accordingly, I hereby ask my loyal readers (ha!) to join me in a boycott of all Disney-owned television consumption. This specifically includes: ABC, ABC Family, ABC Family Values, ABC Loves Jesus, ABCGOD, Disney, and ESPN. So please, loyal readers: let's show these Hollywood liberals that if God had meant us to slavishly watch whatever crappy game they decide to dole out to us, He wouldn't have given us the gifts of free will and digital cable. Amen!

    Note 1: Boycott ends at 7:45 this evening, when the Miami-VA Tech game starts on ESPN.

    Friday, November 04, 2005

    Says Jimmy Carter:

    "I have a commitment to worship the prince of peace, not the prince of pre-emptive war."

    Thursday, November 03, 2005

    Republican pundits (Repundits?) continue to call for Karl Rove's resignation, amidst new Rove-related questions from Patrick Fitzgerald. Could the Brain be on his way out after all?

    William A. Niskanen, chairman of the libertarian Cato Institute, told Reuters on Tuesday that Bush has to "sacrifice" some top aides starting with Rove, who he said has given good campaign advice but poor guidance on getting legislation passed.

    Sen. Trent ["The Best Man, Woman, or Minority"] Lott (R-Miss.) said on MSNBC's "Hardball" the same day, "The question is, should he be the deputy chief of staff for policy under the current circumstances?"
    William Niskanen, Trent Lott, and every liberal in the country. Now that's a braintrust!

    I know this is totally unfounded, by I'm decidedly heartened by the fact that Sam Alito is a baseball nut:

    In recent years, Alito insisted on wearing a baseball uniform while coaching Little League. As an appellate judge, he hung in his chambers a large poster of former Philadelphia Phillies baseball star Mike Schmidt. He went to baseball fantasy camp and had a baseball card made of himself.
    I like baseball. He likes baseball. What else could possibly matter?

    (The rest of that column, by the way, is pretty good, and contains the admirable line, "Washington is a town of geeks and misfits who, for the most part, suppress their inner dorks much of the time.")

    Republicans got to remove a judge from the DeLay trial, so Democrats get to, also. It's only fair.

    Pennsylvania legislators repeal the raise they granted themselves in July. Giant pigs rejoice.

    Well I'll be a monkey's liberal uncle. Seems Undergrad Sam Alito wasn't quite as quick to stomp on the right to privacy as Judge Sam Alito has been:

    In college, senior Samuel Alito led a student conference that urged legalization of sodomy and curbs on domestic intelligence -- a sweeping defense of privacy rights he said were under threat by the government and the dawning computer age.

    Rep. Charlie Melancon (D-La.) takes apart Mike Brown's pre-resignation email. I haven't read anything this funny on a Member of Congress's website since the days of Jim Traficant. A quick excerpt:

    Some of these e-mails from Mr. Brown convey the impression that he may have been overwhelmed by his responsibilities. In his e-mail to Ms. Taylor on the morning the hurricane struck, Mr. Brown wrote, "Can I quit now? Can I come home?" A few days later, Mr. Brown wrote to an acquaintance, "I’m trapped now, please rescue me."
    At least he was able to maintain some perspective.

    Some of my favorite posts from the past couple of years. To be updated sporadically and without any discernable pattern.

    Some favorite posts:
    The general qualification here: posts that made me laugh when I went back and re-read them.

    7.26.04. Diddy inspires! A funny quote (not mine) about Nelly's political experience.
    7.28.04. Odds: Some last-minute odds for the Democratic National Convention speakers.
    7.28.04. A short excerpt from Obama's Convention speech. Not funny, but well-worth linking to again.
    8.11.04. How many Reform Parties are you worth? (With a table!)
    8.11.04. The deep thoughts inspired by an encounter with a 50-pound cabbage.
    8.13.04. The Humorous CBO Statistic of the Day. (With a table!)
    8.19.04. The John Madden (TM) Dumbass Headline of the Week.
    8.23.04. GovOps 101.
    9.1.04. Alan Keyes sticks to his guns... and then doesn't.
    9.2.04. Republican National Convention wrap-up.
    9.3.04. Some thoughts on the Swift Boat Vets.
    9.21.04. Tom Harkin makes me laugh.
    9.24.04. The Rhyming Justice and the Case of the Drunken Horserider.
    9.30.04. Odds: Odds for the first debate.
    9.30.04. Wrap-up from the first debate.
    10.9.04. Wrap-up from the second debate.
    10.12.04. Tom Coburn's famous lesbians-in-our-schools comment.
    10.14.04. Wrap-up from the third debate.
    11.13.04. Pitt quarterback uses expletive during postgame; world: shocked.
    12.3.04. Tommy Thompson makes it 8 of 15 cabinet secretaries to resign at the beginning of Bush II. (With a table!)
    12.3.04. The Buffalo Beast's Top Ten Campaign Hacks.
    1.6.05. Steven Breyer shows up for jury duty.
    2.8.05. FOX fears damnation.
    3.3.05. The Bible diet.
    6.28.05. Richard Cohen rips The Truth About Hillary.
    6.28.05. Explaining my lack of posting between December and June.
    6.30.05. TNR on "throes."
    7.6.05. Thoughts on voting for Supreme Court nominees.
    7.20.05. An excellent debunking of the supposed differences between "strict constructionist," "textualist," and so forth.
    9.21.05. Kerry's speechwriter goes berserk.
    9.27.05. Mitt Romney goes water-skiing. (Links to video!)
    9.29.05. Excellent profile of Rick Santorum.
    10.6.05. Howard Dean plays "hide-the-salami."
    10.9.05. Could Roy Moore really be crazier than Rick Santorum?
    10.13.05. The only thing I read about Miers that I actually liked.
    10.15.05. A scandalog, in pictures (or more accurately: a scandalog, in links).
    10.18.05. Is Jeanine Pirro actually an employee of the Clinton family?
    10.20.05. Specter and Leahy go "insane."
    10.21.05. How many Supreme Court justices have actually had prior judicial experience? (With a table!)
    10.22.05. Amusing profile of Patrick Fitzgerald.
    10.22.05. The Sports Guy on Ricky Williams.
    10.23.05. Thoughts on Sportscenter.
    10.26.05. Alec Baldwin 1, Kay Bailey Hutchison 0.
    10.26.05. Al Gore makes me laugh.
    10.27.05. Supreme Court nominee suggestions (post-Miers, pre-Alito).
    10.28.05. Thoughts on the Libby indictment.

    Some favorite pictures:
    The best of my very limited number of image-posts.

    8.13.04. Separated at birth: Alan Colmes/Skeletor.
    9.12.04. Separated at birth: Bob Shrum/Peter Pettigrew.
    9.14.04. Clothing label: "We are sorry our president is an idiot."
    11.6.04. Time magazine: "We are fucked."
    11.16.04. Election maps.
    12.11.04. Jason "Rudolph" Giuliambi (a little Photoshoppin').
    2.17.05. Separated at birth: Jeff Gannon/Jeff Garcia.
    10.19.05. Separated at birth: Porter Goss/Bob Woodward. (This one is eerie.)

    Some favorite pithy headers:
    No real substance here; I just thought my headlines were funny.

    7.20.04. "Jimmy Carter, Mikhail Gorbachev, and a Catholic bishop walk into a bar..."
    7.22.04. PETA hires Playmates to give out free hot dogs. Newt-ity ensues.
    8.12.04. Lazy monkeys turned diligent through the magic of science. There's hope for me yet!
    9.10.04. Kerry, in a misguided attempt to connect with the voters, uses the phrase "heavens to Betsy." Within hours, InstaPoll results nationwide show his likeability rating dropping by as much as 65 points.
    9.16.04. Less than a month after his acquittal for fondling-while-Tigger, Michael Chartrand was suspended again from Disney World, where he still works, for assaulting two employees. Quoth his lawyer, perhaps ironically: "He just can't catch a break."
    11.3.04. Kerry concedes. Millions mourn. "In American elections, there are no losers." That's true, John, that's true. Unless we count, you know... you.
    12.10.04. "You might be a (bad) redneck if..."
    12.17.04. Mary Beth Cahill regrets underestimating the Swift Boat Vets. In other news, obvious things happened.
    3.1.05. Terrorism: solved.
    9.4.05. William Rehnquist dies, two days before the John Roberts hearings begin. Among those saddened: his family, liberals (who Know What This Means), and the collected staff of the eighteen members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
    9.21.05. "Oh, it's already been broughten!"
    9.22.05. Added Santorum, "I'm crazy!"

    Some favorite jokes:
    Funny lines from people other than myself. (The short ones are posted here; the long ones are linked.)

    7.15.04. Kilborn: "Legendary football coach and erection enthusiast Mike Ditka is weighing a run to the United States Senate from Illinois. If he runs, Ditka will have to answer tough questions such as, 'Coach, why do you look so much like a wolf?'"
    7.20.04. Kimmel: "As you can imagine, some people are upset about this girlie man thing. It's ridiculous. It's like complaining the Phoenix Suns Gorilla threw a banana at you. Of course he's Arnold Schwarzenegger. Of course he will say dumb things. He's a big dumb foreign guy."
    7.21.04 Conan: [Ahnold defends his remarks, disparages John Kerry, remembers the Predator.]
    8.3.04. Daily Show: "This amid rumors that [Ridge] will be retiring after the election.... Colleagues say he wants to spend more time at home scaring his family."
    8.10.04. Kilborn: [On My Life's translation into Chinese.]
    8.12.04. Kilborn: "Last night, while campaigning in Arizona, John Kerry and his wife Teresa got into a big fight and a group of Vietnam vets said he wasn't even in the area when the fight started."
    8.24.04. The Onion: [John Ashcroft is favored to take home the coveted Golden Elephant at the quadrennial RNC "Trick Shootin' Showcase."]
    9.14.04. Conan: "Florida is getting ready for its third big hurricane in one month. They've already been hit by Hurricane Charley and Hurricane Frances. Apparently, this third one is called Hurricane Move Out of Florida, Dumbass."
    9.22.04. Daily Show: [Steven Colbert calls for Dan Rather's resignation.]
    9.24.04. Letterman: [The Top Ten Ways CBS Can Improve Its Reputation.]
    9.28.04. Letterman: [From the Top Ten George W. Bush Debate Strategies] "2. If Kerry makes a good point, distract him with some chaw spit in the eye."
    10.5.04. SNL: [Great spoof of the Bush-Lehrer interaction during the first debate.]
    10.28.04. The Onion: "Republicans Urge Minorities to Get Out and Vote on Nov. 3."
    10.30.04. South Park: [Diddy makes a guest appearance.]
    12.15.04. Last Call: [Shot and Chaser on Tenet's Presidential Medal of Freedom.]
    7.7.05. Last Call: [Shot and Chaser on Giuliani in London.]
    10.20.05. Last Call: [Shot and Chaser on Bush's thoughts on the Miers questionnaire.]
    10.31.05. Assorted: [SNL on Fitgerald; SNL on Miers; Maher on Libby; a joke I heard.]

    Some favorite linked sites:
    Worthy of re-linking.

    Bush dress-up. Post-election vitriol.
    Who Am I? Congressional trivia.
    Bob Odom's campaign site. With a jingle.
    Bill for First Lady.
    "Harriet Miers's" blog.
    "Sam Alito's" blog.
    Shakespearean insult generator.
    Video: Acrobatic ping pong. This is just neat.
    Video: "Asshole." Anti-Bush music video.
    Video: "Harlan McCraney, Presidential Speechalist."

    Bill Frist to Harry Reid: "You're dead to me!"

    In the end, Republicans agreed to have a group of senators look into the investigation's progress and report back in two weeks. Democrats cheered the move. "I have no regret," Reid said. "This is a victory for the American people."

    Republicans said the outcome was not newsworthy. "We have agreed to do what we've already agreed to do," said Sen. Pat Roberts, Intelligence Committee chairman. And their Senate leader is bitter. "It means from now on, for the next year and a half, I can't trust Sen. Reid," Majority Leader Bill Frist said.

    Sam Alito's Princeton thesis goes missing, prompting his early-1970s advisor to make a statement (via the Washington Post):

    "I confess surprise that a man so dreadfully intellectually and morally challenged as George W. Bush would want a person as intellectually gifted, independent and morally principled as Sam Alito on the bench."

    Wednesday, November 02, 2005

    Tom DeLay's MoveOn-donatin' judge has been removed from the case. Ronnie Earle: sad.

    Tuesday, November 01, 2005

    Democrats "hijacked" (to quote Bill Frist) the Senate this afternoon, forcing the body into a rare closed session and infuriating Senate Republicans:

    Taken by surprise, Republicans derided the move as a political stunt.
    A political stunt? In the Senate? Surely not!

    The closed session, which came as the Senate debated a deficit-reduction bill, gave Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Crazy) a chance to get in an admittedly-amusing comment:

    "They'll go to any extent to try to avoid ... any discussion about shrinking the size of government. Being more responsible with the taxpayers' dollars is just so painful that they had to go into private session to recoup and come out again hopefully soon so we can get back to the business at hand," said Santorum.

    Popular Science names "Kansas biology teacher" the third worst job in science (after manure inspector and human lab rat). Thousands of human lab rats sympathetically beg to differ.

    I know that a lot of people are uncomfortable with the Vietnam-Iraq comparisons, but this is uncanny:

    The National Security Agency has kept secret since 2001 a finding by an agency historian that during the Tonkin Gulf episode, which helped precipitate the Vietnam War, N.S.A. officers deliberately distorted critical intelligence to cover up their mistakes, two people familiar with the historian's work say.
    "Rather than come clean about their mistake, they helped launch the United States into a bloody war that would last for 10 years," [historian Matthew] Aid said.
    Robert S. McNamara, who as defense secretary played a central role in the Tonkin Gulf affair, said in an interview last week that he believed the intelligence reports had played a decisive role in the war's expansion. "I think it's wrong to believe that Johnson wanted war," Mr. McNamara said. "But we thought we had evidence that North Vietnam was escalating."
    Like I said: uncanny.

    Monday, October 31, 2005

    Hotline's Last Call asks, in reference to this picture: "Does Alito's daughter look pissed because Clinton's touching her?"

    I hesitated to link to this, because it's awfully juvenile even for me, but Christ, it's just too good to pass up: the Arkansas football coach (Houston Nutt) has decided to bench his current quarterback (Robert Johnson) in favor of a red-shirted freshman (Casey Dick) for this coming Saturday's game against South Carolina (the Gamecocks). Sounds like an April Fools' Day joke, doesn't it?

    Some funny lines from this weekend's comedians (all courtesy, naturally, of The Hotline):

    Darrell Hammond (as Bill O'Reilly): "Where I come from, we don't need our juries to be grand, and we sure as heck don't need our prosecutors to be special. 'Talking Points' once again invites this jury to come on 'The Factor' and explain what makes this jury so grand, and until you do, jury, you're a coward."

    Amy Poehler (Weekend Update): "Shocking many on Thursday, the religious right participated in a second-term abortion."

    Bill Maher: "They say Libby could finish Cheney's sentences, and now he's going to. At Leavenworth."

    Also, in the spirit of all these, here's a joke I recently enjoyed:
    President Bush was receiving his daily intelligence briefing. Coming to the subject of Iraq, the briefer said, "Mr. President, I'm sorry to inform you that three Brazilian soldiers died this afternoon." There was a pause, then the President let out a wail and began to sob. His briefing staff, unused to such displays of emotion, waited awkwardly until finally Bush managed to get himself under control. With tears running down his face, he looked up and asked, lips quavering, "How many is a Brazilian?"

    In light of equal time requirements (self being unquestionably a member of the media), and since I linked to Harriet Miers's blog a few weeks ago: The Right Honorable Samuel A. Alito, Jr.

    Sam Alito's 1972 Princeton yearbook entry, which says, believe it or not, that Alito "intends... eventually to warm a seat on the Supreme Court."

    I'm not thrilled about the Alito nomination, obviously, but I have to admit that the 33-years-ahead-of-its-time prediction is pretty neat.

    The New Yorker's Lauren Collins parses the sex scenes in Scooter Libby's titillating 1995 novel, The Apprentice:

    So, how does Libby stack up against the competition? This question was put to Nancy Sladek, the editor of Britain’s Literary Review, which, each year, holds a contest for bad sex writing in fiction. (In 1998, someone nominated the Starr Report.) Sladek agreed to review a few passages from Libby. "That's a bit depraved, isn't it, this kind of thing about bears and young girls? That's particularly nasty, and the other ones are just boring," she said. "God, they’re an odd bunch, these Republicans." Unlike their American counterparts, she said, Tories haven’t taken much to sex writing. "They usually just get caught," she said.
    Terrific. Highly recommended reading. (The article, not The Apprentice.)

    Poor CNN. I honestly believe that they do sometimes (not always, but sometimes) try to function as a legitimate newsgathering organization, but I swear, lately, even during those limited times, their credibility is all-too-frequently sapped by vapid stupidity. Whether that stupidity is the fault of the production staff or the mind-numbing mid-day anchors (hereinafter "hairdos"), I do not know. Probably both. But it is disheartening.

    To wit: Kyra Phillips, introducing a guest to talk about the Alito nomination, just asked, "Just who is Samuel Alito? Is he a conservative, as some critics contend?" Give me a break. Talk about missing the point. That's like asking, "Is he a white man, as some people have pointed out?" Of course he's conservative. It's not critics contending he's conservative, it's everyone contending he's conservative.

    So what should Phillips be asking instead? "Is he qualified? Is he intelligent? Is he crazy? Has he ever rented 'A Day at the Races'? Does he know Anita Hill?"

    Patridiot Watch (with the excellent headline "Trenton Makes, the Supreme Court Takes...") points out that with Alito's confirmation, fully 22% of the justices of the Supreme Court will be Trenton-born. (Via On Call.)

    Think Progress has some excellent talking points. The headers:

    1. Alito would overturn Roe v. Wade.
    2. Alito would allow race-based discrimination.
    3. Alito would allow disability-based discrimination.
    4. Alito would strike down the Family and Medical Leave Act.
    5. Alito supports unauthorized strip searches.
    6. Alito hostile toward immigrants.
    Sounds like my kind of guy.

    Bush nominates Sam "Scalito" Alito. Sam Brownback succumbs to the Rapture.

    Happy Halloween.

    Sunday, October 30, 2005

    Lanny Davis makes a couple of Clinton-based suggestions for the Bush White House:

    Now President Bush must do something that for him, it seems, is the most difficult task: admit a mistake. First, he must send his press secretary, Scott McClellan, into the White House press room to apologize for his misleading the American people - probably based on incomplete or inaccurate information he was given - when he denied involvement by White House officials in the disclosure that Valerie Wilson was a C.I.A. officer.

    More important, President Bush should follow the ultimate rule of White House damage control: the buck stops here. He should admit that this entire mess could have been avoided had the White House, including the vice president, criticized Ambassador Joseph Wilson openly and directly, rather than whispering "on background" into the ears of certain reporters that his wife was responsible for sending him to investigate possible Iraqi attempts to buy uranium in Niger.

    And then, after reminding everyone that Mr. Libby is entitled to the presumption of innocence, Mr. Bush should focus on the people's business and the far more serious problems facing America.

    I think one of the reasons that these suggestions seem so striking is that the first one - having Scott "I Don't Know What the Hell You're Talking About, Liberal Media" McClellan actually apologize for something - seems completely antithetical to everything this White House has ever done.

    The New York Times previews the upcoming nomination fight, which can apparently be concisely summarized by the following two statements:

    1. If Bush nominates anything less than a frothing-at-the-mouth conservative, the right will never support him in anything ever again.
    2. If Bush nominates a frothing-at-the-mouth conservative, the left will never support him in anything ever again.

    The long and short of it: somebody's going to be seriously pissed off.

    Sherlock; Marlowe; Ace Ventura; me. The common thread? Great detectives, obviously.

    Following an extensive Purple State investigation,* I can now exclusively reveal the true motivation for the selection of Ben Bernanke as Fed Chair: the Bush administration has always wondered how it would feel to be praised by Paul Krugman.

    Obviously I'm pleased, too. Full disclosure: Mr. Bernanke was chairman of the Princeton economics department before moving to Washington, and he made the job offer that brought me to Princeton.
    According to one of my investigators, Bush's first choice was Krugman's mom, but she didn't want the job.

    * - Read: no investigation whatsoever.

    An amusing summary of the Plame Affair (which I missed when it was published on Friday) by Post columnist Michael Kinsley. From the early bits:

    You can't knock the names, though. Above all, there is the wonderfully Pynchonesque Valerie Plame. ... Then there is the aide to the vice president who answers to the call of "Snooker." Or is it Smoky? Or maybe Sunshine?

    Friday, October 28, 2005

    Ann Coulter on October 27:

    COULTER: And as for Rove and Libby, I don't know. I don't understand why that would have any effect on the White House. He doesn't need Rove anymore. I feel sorry for Rove personally - I don't know what's going to happen. If he is indicted, I feel for him personally. It has nothing to do with Bush and the Republican Party. He doesn't need Rove again, and I never heard of Scooter Libby until 10 minutes ago.
    So she's either stupider than she looks (She didn't know Scooter Libby? Bush doesn't need Rove?), or she's a liar. Or both.

    To quote Hotline's Last Call: "Feeling left out perhaps, Marion Barry was indicted."