Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Turn about is fair play

Will Danny DeVito get in trouble, ala Mel Gibson and Micheal Richards, for showing up at a talk show drunk, ridiculing the sitting President, and bragging about "utilizing" everything in the Lincoln Bedroom for sex?

Real proof that all publicity is good publicity

Sales of season seven of "Seinfeld" are up 75% over season six and 90% over season five.

I wonder if this will lead someone to actually stage a racial incident in order to boost sales of something.

Bush & Webb

Recent exchange between Senator-elect Jim Webb, whose Marine son is serving in Iraq, and President Bush, whose 25-year-old daughters are partying in Buenos Aires:

"How's your boy?" Bush asked, referring to Webb's son, a Marine serving in Iraq.

"I'd like to get them out of Iraq, Mr. President," Webb responded, echoing a campaign theme.

"That's not what I asked you," Bush said. "How's your boy?"

"That's between me and my boy, Mr. President," Webb said coldly, ending the conversation on the State Floor of the East Wing of the White House....:

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Creeping dictatorship 3

"[Congress cannot] place any limits on the president's determinations as to any terrorist threat, the amount of military force to be used in response, or the method, timing, and nature of the response," the Justice Department asserted in a September 2001 memo solicited by the White House. "These decisions, under our Constitution, are for the president alone to make."
Liberals are often accused of making up stuff in the Constitution, like a right to an abortion, while conservatives claim to restrict themselves to the document's original intent. In reality, both sides make up stuff in the Constitution. The difference is in not in the means but in the stuff.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Draft the Bush Twins, pt. 3

The U.S. embassy "strongly suggests" the Bush Twins leave Buenos Aires now. The Twins refuse to leave early.

Sunday, November 26, 2006


DENVER (AP) -- A homeowners association in southwestern Colorado has threatened to fine a resident $25 a day until she removes a Christmas wreath with a peace sign that some say is an anti-Iraq war protest or a symbol of Satan.


An alternative perspective from soldiers based in Ramadi:

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Beware of bank-issued gift cards

From WSJ:
You may have trouble using the cards at gas stations and restaurants, and many retailers won't let you use both a card with a small balance (to drain it) and another form of payment to pay for a single purchase. Is it possible that givers just aren't aware of the trouble these cards can create for the supposed beneficiaries? Gift cards from retailers are better but not perfect. Both Kmart and Toys "R" Us have done away with expiration dates, maintenance or inactivity fees this year., American Eagle Outfitters, Blockbuster, Bloomingdale's and Macy's still hit users with them. Company representatives note that most people drain their cards quickly and thus lose no value.
Although Amazon's certificates expire, they do not expire for two years and do not appear to have any hidden fees. Plus, Amazon has so many things for sale that people are not really restricted in what they can buy. In looking at the American Express gift cards, I noticed that they levy a $6/month inactivity fee after the first 6 months. American Express always seems to be the biggest rip-off.

WWII and Iraq

From Wash Post
Then, we had plans about what to do after military victory; this time, we had none. Then, we had a GI Bill of Rights for returning veterans; now, far from preparing for the problems of numerous returning wounded, Veterans Administration personnel are being cut. Then, we had higher taxes, especially on those with higher incomes; now we have lower taxes, especially for those with high incomes. Then, the president had family members in the military, one of whom died in Normandy, and his most important adviser had two sons in the war, one of whom was killed in the Marshall Islands; now, there appears to be no one in the White House with a family member in harm's way. Perhaps that is related to another difference: When our soldiers faced a new danger in Iraq, the president said "Bring ''em on"; during World War II, the president went on the radio and led the people in prayer.

Religion & Politics

In response to Mitt Romney's use of anti-gay sentiments as a basis for a Presidential bid, Andrew Sullivan publishes a picture of Mormon garments, which Romney presumably wears. A reader objects that publishing Mormon garments is sacrilege, to which Sullivan responds, "none of this would be relevant at all, if the Republicans did not now base their politics on explicitly religious appeals. You wanna play by the rules of theoconservatism? Then deal with the consequences."

I wonder if this is one of the reasons we tried to keep religion out of politics in the first place.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Military now recruiting open gays as well as discharging us

Denver TV reporter finds military recruiters accepting recruits who tell the recuiters they are gay. Meanwhile, the military is also discharging gay soldiers, including ones we have trained to be fluent Arabic.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Draft the Bush Twins -- Revisted

Don't put them in charge on anything important. From ABC News:

Bush_sisters_nrFirst Daughter Barbara Bush had her purse and cell phone stolen as she had dinner in a restaurant in Buenos Aires, Argentina, even though she was being guarded by a detail of Secret Service agents, according to law enforcement reports made available to ABC News.

It was not the only mishap on the two-week trip to Argentina by Barbara (right) and her twin sister Jenna (left).

A Secret Service agent on the advance detail got into an "altercation" with someone after a night out and was badly beaten, according to the law enforcement reports. The Secret Service said today the incident was an attempted mugging that occurred while the agent was on his own time. The agent is doing fine.

The purse snatching took place on Barbara's first night in town while she was dining in the picturesque San Telmo neighborhood. According to the reports, the Secret Service agents failed to notice the incident.

The timeless Seinfeld

I was puzzled over why Jerry Seinfeld would issue a statement about the racial tirade of Michael Richards, a.k.a. Kramer, followed by a joint appearance on David Letterman. Now I understand. Seinfeld is not an old TV show, it's a franchise, likely to make most of its money in the future, through cable re-runs and DVD sales (and HD-DVD's, 3D-DVD's, brain-implant DVD's, etc.)

As the LA Times noted, "The whole point of "Seinfeld" is that it's a timeless show about self-involvement and uncomfortable confrontation, unlike, say, fellow classics "MASH" or "All in the Family," which are timepieces, connected to sociopolitical eras of American history."

If Micheal Richards hurts the image of Kramer, he hurts the franchise, costing 10's or 100's of millions in future profits.

UPDATE: Now, the black hecklers whom Richards insulted are looking for a financial settlement. And that makes perfect sense. It's worth a lot to the franchise to make this thing go away.

Book notes

"Five Families: The Rise, Decline, and Resurgence of America's Most Powerful Mafia Empires" by Selwyn Raab
  • Parallels between Al Capone and John Gotti -- Both were backwater mobsters who came to power by being exceptionally vicious (including, in the case of Gotti, executing a boss). Both fell in love with the limelight, thereby becoming a big target for the government. Both were convicted with new instruments of prosecution against organized crime (Capone, tax evasion; Gotti, RICO). Both suffered from disease and died in prison (Capone, syphilis; Gotti, neck and head cancer).
  • Under RICO, it is a crime to merely belong to a crime organization. So Gotti's high profile not only generated government interest in him but actually generated evidence against him.
  • John Gotti, Jr., mob boss by his mid-20's, is yet another great example of the downside of nepotism. (Gotti wanted to set up a dynastic succession). Among Junior's acts of brilliance was his storing unregistered guns and the names of new mob inductees in the wall safe in his office.
  • After moving to Arizona under the Witness Protection Program, Sammy "the Bull" Gravano became a contractor for the installation of swimming pools. Nevertheless, he was compelled to also become the largest drug dealer in the Southwest.
  • Loan sharking, numbers, drugs, and theft generate cash for the mob, but the real foundation of mob money and power is labor unions.
  • The Italian Mafia was formally organized in 1931. The organizational structure was modeled after the Roman Army. (So to is the Roman Catholic Church, according to friend whose uncle was a cannon in the Church) .
  • Raab cites the impeding end of Prohibition as the catalyst for the formation of the Italian Mafia, but I wonder if the clean government movement of the early 2Oth Century did not also have an effect by reducing the career options for personality types that are predisposed toward corrupt activities. And where are these personality types now? Lobbying and trial law?

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


Six imams are removed from a US Airways flight after praying at the boarding gate. They were returning from a meeting on how to improve U.S.-Islamic relations.

OK, fear breeds irrational behavior. But I hope the US Airways crew will consider the improbability of a group of Islamic terrorists conducting a public prayer service prior to boarding an airplane that they wish to hijack.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Cartoons and fatty foods

LA Times

Studio insiders say the deals are now almost as much about psychology as promotion. When an animated film is released, if kids don't see the movie's promotions in TV ads or at their favorite fast-food stop, they subconsciously suspect that it's not a big pop cultural event.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Draft the Bush twins now!

"There's no question in my mind that this president and this administration would never have invaded Iraq, especially on the flimsy evidence that was presented to the Congress, if indeed we had a draft and members of Congress and the administration thought that their kids from their communities would be placed in harm's way"

-- Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Baker on background

From The Gaurdian

"You've got to remember, whatever the Democrats say, it's Bush still calling the shots. He believes it's a matter of political will. That's what [Henry] Kissinger told him. And he's going to stick with it," a former senior administration official said. "He [Bush] is in a state of denial about Iraq. Nobody else is any more. But he is. But he knows he's got less than a year, maybe six months, to make it work. If it fails, I expect the withdrawal process to begin next fall."

The "last push" strategy is also intended to give Mr Bush and the Republicans "political time and space" to recover from their election drubbing and prepare for the 2008 presidential campaign, the official said. "The Iraq Study Group buys time for the president to have one last go. If the Democrats are smart, they'll play along, and I think they will. But forget about bipartisanship. It's all about who's going to be in best shape to win the White House."

Imitating Nazis

Michael Savage"The radical homosexual agenda will not stop until religion is outlawed in this country. Make no mistake about it. They're all not nice decorators. You better get it through your head before it's too late. They threaten your very survival. They went after the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church is now caving into the homosexual mafia. They will not stop until they force their agenda down your throats. Gay marriage is just the tip of the iceberg. They want full and total subjugation of this society to their agenda. Now, if you want that and if you don't think it's a threat -- believe me, that is what's going to occur in this country."

- radio talk-show host Micheal Savage, born Michael Alan Weiner from Russian-Jewish immigrants.

Support our troops

So, in addition to abandoning our polices on torture, we have also broken our rules about paying off terrorists and abandoning U.S. soldiers:

Someone allegedly paid terrorist organizations $2 million for release of FOX News reporters

Abandoning An American Soldier

The violation of all three policies endanger us, especially our soldiers, now and far into the future.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Yet More Haggard

Westword writes this week that Ted Haggard was a regular customer at The Crypt, the adult store on Broadway
spending a couple hundred dollars a month on sex toys, according to a former clerk. He bought "mass quantities" of cock rings, the clerk remembers, as well as an electrical unit designed to stimulate the urethra. One time he wanted some "very graphic and gay" videos, but the store was out of the titles, so "Art" left a number where the clerk could reach him. The number is the same one that Jones called last Wednesday to warn Haggard that they needed to talk.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Be careful what you wish for!

I guess this Ted Haggard stuff is not as isolated as I thought. Here's a Tulsa, OK, pastor who solicited gay sex from an undercover police office earlier this year.

I wonder if the Evangelical movement is just setting itself up for this kind of thing, much like the Catholic Church has, by encouraging its homosexuals into unhealthy denial and self hatred. You reap what you sow, they say.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Remember when this would have been shocking?

The chief authority of the Catholic Church for anti-homosexual teachings, Monsignor Tony Anatrella, was sued on Oct. 30 in France by "a French ex-seminarian named Daniel Lamarca who said that, while being treated by Anatrella in 1987, he had sexual relations with the cleric, who Lamarca went to in the hope of 'curing' him of his homosexuality. The patient was 23 at the time and spoke of 'bodily work' therapy sessions with Anatrella that, according to the accuser, would progress into sex."

South Park's take on Dawkins and Harris

Trey Parker and Matt Stone have published a great episode of their "South Park" series in which Cartman is frozen in time and revived 500 years in the future. In this future, Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris have won, and Atheism is the dominant ideology. But now, rival alliances of atheists are killing each other. Parker and Stone are making the point that it's human nature to kill each other, and religion is just used as a way of picking teams.

True. But I think Harris would respond by saying that the warring atheists in the South Park scenario would be much more concerned about risking their own lives in attempting to kill other, since atheists do not believe in a certain afterlife.

Our Hero Bill Maher

Bill Maher says that he is going to out some of the bigger closet queens in the Republican Party this Friday on his HBO show, "Real Time".

On Larry King Live last night, Larry asked for an example and Maher said Republican Party chairman Ken Mehlman. (here is the clip).

Then on the midnight (10pm MST) rebroadcast of Larry King Live, Ken Mehlman's name was edited out of the discussion.

CNN ordered YouTube to remove the uncensored clip, which was located here.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Ted Haggards are on notice

From Dan Savage in the NYT:

And while most callboys will continue to respect a code of silence where the average closet case is concerned, the Ted Haggards of the world have been placed on notice: You can’t have your callboy and disparage him too.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Dobson dumps Haggard

So yesterday James Dobson said that he would help oversee Ted Haggard's "restoration," despite his busy schedule, and that he still views Haggard as a "brother" and "a close friend".

Today Dobson drops out, saying he just doesn't have the time.

What happened? What did Dobson learn that made him decide to head for the hills?

The new Marxists

"I think one of the biggest dangers here is solitude. Someone has to be there to interrogate and investigate every aspect of our lives."

-- Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President Al Mohler, on James Dobson's radio show. Dobson is one of the three guys who, according to the Haggard letter, "will perform a thorough analysis of my mental, spiritual, emotional, and physical life.

Hiding behind the wife and kids

A lot of people in Colorado are angry that the media interviewed Ted Haggard about his meth-fueled whore sex in front of his wife and children. Here the response by the editor of the Rocky Mountain News:

It was Ted Haggard who stopped and rolled down the window and made news by admitting in front of his children and his wife that he had purchased drugs (and thrown them out) and that he had known his accuser, whom he said he had paid for massages. Haggard's remarks were national news because they marked the first time he had admitted knowing the escort and buying drugs. The context of his admission, in his car in front of his children, is newsworthy.It was not a context we selected. It was a context he selected. He just as easily could have walked out of his house to talk to reporters alone, without his wife and children, and that's what he should have done in my view to protect them. But that's not what he chose to do. We report the news. We don't make events happen the way we wish they would. And the fact that he chose to make these admissions in front of his children reveals something about his character.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Mark Foley, Ted Haggard, Charlie Crist

GOP candidate for Governor of Florida, another closet homo, facing charges that he is, in fact, a closet homo, changes his position today on domestic partnerships for same-sex couples.
The National Review now has two articles (here and here) explaining why Ted Haggard, a whore-mongering adulterer, meth freak, and outrageous liar, is morally superior to folks such as Gary and me.

Haggard 3

From Non-Prophet

"As Christians, we are never surprised at sin," - Rob Brendle

This is dangerous, intolerance breeding and irresponsible. No wonder some Christians writing on this blog are shocked and outraged at Ted Haggard being judged. No wonder they sound more upset by a liberal laughing at Ted's hypocrisy than they do that their Pastor was taking meth and lying to them. If Ted is going to be condemned for what he's done then he wouldn't be the only one. Criticizing Ted totally wrecks the panacea that all evangelicals of this flavor use like a drug in their own lives.

"Judge not, lest you be judged." God forbid! Who would want to have to face themselves? Who would want to be honest in front of others? God forbid I point a finger, someone might go and do the same to me! Get real people. Get humble. Get honest.

This is not Christianity. It is a mega-weird and spooky cult of the selfish.

From Denver Post

To all those people out there saying “forgive” Haggard, I have yet to read a post from one of them who believes that he has been truthful about what he really did. How can you talk about forgiveness when it is obvious to everyone that he is STILL lying about his meth USE and his homosexual ACTs? There’s an old saying that “we get the government we deserve” but maybe the same can be said about your church. Comment by T. Castle — November 6, 2006 @ 8:35 am

Why is Ted Haggard being fired for “sexually immoral conduct” and there is no mention from the overseeing commmittee about the drugs? Heck, Ted doesn’t even apologize for the purchasing of drugs (whether he used them or not it’s still illegal). So the message is… Just say “No” to gay lifestyle but say “Yes” to drugs. Is that what New Life Church is saying? Comment by Bill — November 6, 2006 @ 1:20 am

More Haggard

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Web comments on Haggard

From AmericaBlog

The Haggard scandal gives more insight into why the right wing theocrats -- and their Republican friends -- are so obsessed with gay sex:
In a letter that was read to the congregation of the New Life Church by another clergyman, Haggard apologized for his acts and requested forgiveness.

"I am so sorry for the circumstances that have caused shame and embarrassment for all of you," he said, adding that he had confused the situation by giving inconsistent remarks to reporters denying the scandal.

"The fact is I am guilty of sexual immorality. And I take responsibility for the entire problem. I am a deceiver and a liar. There's a part of my life that is so repulsive and dark that I have been warring against it for all of my adult life," he said.
There's a reason they're so obsessed with homos. Think about that next time you hear a politician or religious leader obsessing about gays.

It's starting to make sense to me why these fundies scream that allowing teh gay is a threat to heterosexual marriage (the logic of which I never quite understood - how does allowing two guys to get married threaten my own marriage?).

It's a threat to THEIR marriage. Given a real choice, they wouldn't be married to women.
What I wish the fundamentalists would take away from this, as they are so willing "to forgive him for his sin", is that you can devote your whole life to religious observance and prayer, and still never achieve true heterosexuality. Now it's staring them right in the face and yet I sadly fear they will learn any such thing.
This is all so curious. Haggard does meth and all we can talk about is how he enjoyed sex with another man (yes, he most certainly enjoyed it). Buying and doing meth should land him a jail sentence, ya think? I guess the moral of the story is, if you want everyone to ignore your drug habit, have gay sex.
I have a plan to Protect Traditional Marriage. A constitutional amendment banning gay escorts and crystal meth.
Young people just realizing their sexuality have to remain in the closet as their "Christian" parents slander gays and lesbians. The young people know they will quite likely be kicked out of the house and they believe their parents would not love them if they were gay or lesbian. The parents have been trained to think that way by the likes of Ted Haggard. Isn't that really fucked up?

From Andrew Sullivan

One day, he may realize, and I pray he does, that the only dark and repulsive thing is the closet, the betrayal of his wife and children, the destruction of a church, and the demonization of others in the same boat - all as a function of his own inability to face the truth. What is dark and repulsive is dishonesty.

There is no commandment not to be gay. There is a commandment not to bear false witness. Haggard bore false witness - to himself, to his wife, to his traumatized kids, to his fellow gay men and women. repeatedly, pathologically, self-destructively. The right response for Christians is compassion and forgiveness. But also hope: hope that this will help spread the truth about what being gay actually is.

Face it, Ted. Face the truth. It will set you - and so many others - free.

I often fantasize about buying some meth from [Ali G], throwing it away, then having a completely non-sexual, you know, just two guys hangin' in a hotel room, naked, 'just bein' guys' kind-a evening, during which we might occasionally give each other a hot-oil rubdown or two, in the most manly and hetero way, of course. In my fantasy, sometimes I mount his naked body and ride him around the hotel room, but not in a gay way – in a 'just two guys completely confident in their masculinity' way. I have to admit, last weekend I actually bought some meth and threw it away while watching old Ali G episodes. Naked. Does that make me gay?

"(I) am quite proud to say that I am a very content gay man living my life to the fullest"

-- Doogie Howser, M.D. actor Neil Patrick Harris, who said he wanted to dispel any rumours that he is straight.

Blaming the victim

Of course, the real victim of the Haggard scandal is Mrs. Haggard, whose entire emotional life has just been destroyed, possibly beyond repair. So it is almost beyond comprehension that Pastor Mark Driscoll comments on the Haggard scandal by saying, "It is not uncommon to meet pastors’ wives who really let themselves go; they sometimes feel that because their husband is a pastor, he is therefore trapped into fidelity, which gives them cause for laziness. "

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Divided government

From Jon Rauch

Although compromise does not guarantee sound or successful policy-making, it does draw both parties toward the center and produce bipartisan buy-in. It's no coincidence that divided government produced the 1986 tax reform and the 1996 welfare reform, the great reforms of their respective eras.
From John Derbyshire

Conservatism, including (including especially, I think) religious conservatism, has at its core an acceptance of, a respect for, human nature. We conservatives are the people who see humanity plain, or strive to, and who wish to keep our society in harmony with what we see. Paul Johnson has noted how leftists always used to talk about building socialism. Capitalism doesn’t require building. It’s just what happens if you leave people alone. It arises, in short, from human nature, and only needs harmonizing under some mild, reasonable, laws and customary restraints.

Haggard and Bush

From Andrew Sullivan:

Here's what you are being asked to believe: Haggard never had sex and never used crystal meth. Bush never ordered torture. The insurgency is in its last throes. Michael Brown did a "heckuva job." And Rummy is doing a "fantastic job."

These people cannot self-correct. They'll lie and lie and lie to protect their psychic order. So they have to be corrected.

The election intervention is next Tuesday. Do them a favor, will you?

What a tangled web we weave

  • Haggard said that he stayed at hotels in Denver because he wrote books there. His large, gated house in Colorado Springs is about 2 hours from Denver.
  • Haggard said threw away crystal meth immediately after buying it, but he cannot remember where he threw it away. Also, one of his voice mails said, "Hey, I was just calling to see if we could get any more. Either $100 or $200 supply."
  • Haggard first said that he had never met his accuser but then said that he had hired the prostitute to give Haggard a massage in his hotel room.
  • Haggard said that he came in contact with the prostitute through the "Denver hotel," which referred him to the prostitute as a masseur.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Creeping dictatorship 2

“It’s truly a mystery to me. I looked at what I thought was the final version of the conference report and that provision was not in at that time.”

-- Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs, on a law to abolish the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction.

The measure was inserted into a military appropriations bill and signed into law without the knowledge of most or all members of Congress. The Office's exposure of corruption has embarrassed the Bush Administration.
From Time
Haggard had also been receiving attention for his appearance in the documentary Jesus Camp, a film about the religious training of children in Pentecostal seminars. Haggard put out the word to evangelical groups to avoid the film. In it, he is seen telling a crowd, "We don't have to have a debate about what we think about homosexual activity. It's written in the Bible." Shortly after that, Haggard looks mockingly into the camera to say, "I think I know what you did last night. If you send me a thousand dollars, I won't tell your wife." The crowd responds with peals of laughter. Then he says with a wide smile, "If you use any of this, I'll sue you."

Making House races competitive

Iowa empowered a nonpartisan Legislative Service Bureau to draw up three redistricting plans after each census, which they then present to the legislature. The law strictly forbids the Legislative Service Bureau from looking at previous election results or the addresses of incumbents.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Washington Post says the Airforce is asking the Pentagon for an additional $50 BILLION "to help pay to transport growing numbers of U.S. soldiers being killed and wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan.

book notes

The Last Town on Earth by Thomas Mullen

Awesome novel about the intersection of human conflicts in 1918 over WWI, the Great Flu, labor-capital, and utopianism.

The Shia Revival by Vali Nasr
  • Whereas Sunnism took shape around the writ of majority, Shias do not put much stock in majority opinions.
  • Sunni emphasize the message whereas Shia emphasize the messenger (Mohammad and Ali)
  • Shia look to the mystical interpretation of the Koran's inner-meaning by special people with an esoteric understanding of the supernatural.
  • Shia messianism bears traces of Zoroastrian and Judeo-Christian influence.
  • The construciton of Bagdad in the 8th Centrury was suspended twice to put down Shia revolts.
  • Ayatollah means sign of God