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Showing posts from August, 2006

My free bottle of wine is here!

Remember when I told you all about the free bottle of wine for bloggers? Well, it has arrived. The folks at Mankas Hill Vineyards have sent me my bottle of 2004 Amelie Cabernet Sauvignon - Merlot. I haven't tried it yet (they said I should wait for a few days after it shipped because it might have been exposed to heat), but if you send me a bottle of wine I'll at least give you a link to the wine on my blog. Advertisers take note: get me while I'm cheap. Once I'm a bigwig like Kos, Atrios, digby, or Greenwald you'll have to send me more stuff to get a mention.

I just hope Mankas Hill Vineyards doesn't find themselves in a lawsuit with the makers of a certain popular French movie.

More "War on Drugs" waste

Via Crooks and Liars, we find this post on DARE Generation diary:
Today, USA Today ran a story entitled, "Anti-drug advertising campaign a failure, GAO report says," which exposes the fact that the ad campaign actually INCREASES the chances of teen drug use. On the opposing page, they ran one of the very same ads. How apropos!Here's a quote from that USA Today story:
A $1.4 billion anti-drug advertising campaign conducted by the U.S. government since 1998 does not appear to have helped reduce drug use and instead might have convinced some youths that taking illegal drugs is normal, the Government Accountability Office says. The GAO report, released Friday, urges Congress to stop the White House's National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign unless drug czar John Walters can come up with a better strategy. President Bush's budget for 2007 asks Congress for $120 million for the campaign, a $20 million increase from this year.Our tax dollars at work. If I'm going to fu…

Frist on Iraq: Move along, nothing to see here...

Greenwald quotes an interview Bill Frist had with some bloggers:
BF: I think what they’re doing – it’s such a political problem – is that they’re taking the spotlight and doing whatever they can to focus that spotlight on Iraq, and trying to separate Iraq from the larger challenges that we have with the rise of the fundamentalist extremists, and that will be it. When they take that spotlight and put it on Iraq, it takes it off of Iran, Hamas, and Hezbollah, plus other areas where terrorism [exists].[emphasis Greewald's] Well, that sure shows the political winds have changed. Republicans are claiming that Democrats are focusing too much on Iraq. But I thought foreign policy and war were issues that were good for Republicans. Isn't Bush always saying that "Iraq is the central front on the war on terror"? (Yes, he is.) What's happened? Well, it seems Americans have been souring on Iraq for some time, and Republicans now desperately want them to think of something els…

Christianists and Iranian Mullahs: can you tell the difference?

Billmon (who seems to be writing less frequently these days) found a great little quote:

No society that oppresses women, denies advancement on merit even to men, indulges in fantastic hypocrisy, wallows in corruption, undervalues secular learning, reduces its god to a nasty disciplinarian and comforts itself with conspiracy theories will ever compete with us.To which Billmon replies:
For a second I thought Ralph had been reading the Texas GOP's party platform, but he was just ragging on the Arabs again.

I'd pay to see this: Bush debating Ahmadinejad

Via digby, we find this:
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad voiced defiance on Tuesday as a deadline neared for Iran to halt work the West fears is a step toward building nuclear bombs, and challenged US President George W. Bush to televized debate.“I suggest holding a live TV debate with Mr. George W. Bush to talk about world affairs and the ways to solve those issues,” he said.
In a press conference, Ahmadinejad condemned the US and British role in the world since World War II but made no direct mention of the international nuclear confrontation.I don't know a whole lot about Ahmadinejad: he's a hardliner who got elected on a platform of cleaner government, has taken harsh rhetorical stances against the US, talks about bringing about a post-Zionist era, and apparently has some pretty apocalyptic beliefs that are the Islamic equivalent of Christian rapturist and "end times" beliefs. From what I know, it sounds like he and Bush deserve each other. It's too bad w…

US helping Iran

I'm glad I'm not the only one picking up on this. Glen Greenwald has a great post today on how US actions in the Middle East have helped Iran enormously. Particularly our actions in Iraq:
Iraq is a war that is saddled with more incoherent premises than can be counted. Yet the most baffling part of it has to be that the more we succeed in stabilizing the new government and empowering majority rule, the more we hand over to our arch Iranian enemy (the New Hitlers) control over large parts of that strategically vital country. Thus, the principal result in exchange for all the lives lost and hundreds of billions of dollars squandered is to ensure that Iraq will be ruled by those most opposed to U.S. interests.
But it's not just our actions in Iraq that benefit Iran. The other forgotten war, in Afghanistan, has benefitted them, too. The Guardian has an article on a recently released study by Chatham House (I don't know anything about that organization) spelling out the conseq…

Rhode Island Senate primary: a beginner's guide

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OK folks, I want to use the limited power I have as proprietor of Internal Monologue to raise the profile of the Republican Senate primary in the tiny state of Rhode Island. I'm writing this with an eye to people who haven't been following this story, so I apologize to those of you for whom a lot of this is repetition.

Here's how I see it: The incumbent senator up for re-election in November is the moderate Republican (to the extent that anyone who caucuses with the Republicans can be said to be moderate these days) Lincoln Chafee.

The right wing doesn't care for him much. Republican bloggers, activists, and the Club for Growth (Grover Norquist's right wing "cut taxes at any cost and defecits be damned" organization) think he's too cozy with Democrats, not supportive enough of Bush, or not fanatical enough in his advocacy of tax giveaways to the extraordinarily wealthy. So they're running a challenger to him: Steve Laffey.

In some ways, it's like…

Scary housing price graph

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If this graph (via Atrios) is an accurate depiction of housing costs, there could be one hell of a crash. I don't know about the methodology of creating it, but it looks pretty scary.

Right wing Iran insanity watch

Weigel (on Sullivan's site) continues to track the gung-ho "let's invade Iran now" rhetoric coming from the right. I just want to ask the following question: once we invade or bomb Iran, what then? If we invade, we'll probably end up with an intolerable occupation much worse than Iraq's. Iran has a population of over 68 million, which is more than double Iraq's 27 million. It's also over three times as large: 1.65 million sq km to Iraq's 437 thousand sq km. And when we left, they'd just have even more reason to hate us.

The air strike scenario goes something like this: we set back their nuclear program X number of years, but we're not really sure how many. Iran hates our guts, and uses the footage of inevitable dead civilians for propaganda purposes. The Iranian population is driven further into the arms of anti-US mullahs. Lots of unsavory regimes use the US attack as an excuse to build up their arsenals and take various anti-US actions.

So…

Requiem for the 10th (and 9th) planet(s)

Probably the person with the most to "lose" from the recent definition of planet is Mike Brown, the discoverer of Xena, which would have been a planet under any definition that included Pluto. But even he supports the new definition (HT: Grishnash via email):
Many people around the globe are mourning the loss of Pluto from the pantheon of planets today after astronomers voted overwhelmingly in favor of a definition of the word "planet" that includes only the first 8 planets. The change had been discussed for years, so no one should have been surprised that it finally happened. The new definition essentially corrects an astronomical mistake from 76 years ago, and shows that astronomy can move forward in the face of new information about the solar system. Pluto is now rightly classified with the rest of the recently discovered Kuiper belt objects, rather than awkwardly stuck in with the planets.
If anyone has cause to complain, he does. And if he can accept the new de…

War Nerd on Hezbollah

War Nerd calls the recent conflict entirely for Hezbollah:
The funniest bit is the way desperate suckers are trying to spin total defeat of the IDF into some kind of victory. What's impressed me is that no Israelis are saying that. All the Israeli commentators I've read have faced up to the fact that they got hosed. It's the Americans, totally out of touch with reality and desperate to stay that way, who are finding lame excuses for the IDF, like "Hezbollah didn't really WIN, since they didn't wipe out Israel."

The best answer to that comes from an Israeli columnist I read, who said, "If a lightweight boxer fights a heavyweight and gets a draw, the lightweight won." Except I'm not sure it was even a draw. I think Hezbollah flat-out won, not just in PR/Propaganda terms but by anybody's standards. They're in total control of the field of battle, Southern Lebanon -- I…

Tierney gets it right on marijuana

Tierney often annoys the crap out of me, but he gets it right in today's column (on TimesSelect, which always annoys the crap out of me) on this country's stupid marijuana policy. A couple excerpts for those who can't get behind the subscription wall of annoyance:
The Dutch generally use drugs less than Americans do, according to national surveys in both countries (and these surveys might understate Americans’ drug usage, since respondents are less likely to admit illegal behavior). More Americans than Dutch reported having tried marijuana, cocaine and heroin. Among teenagers who’d tried marijuana, Americans were more likely to be regular users.

[...]
The good news about drugs, Cohen says, is that the differences among countries aren’t all that important — levels of addiction are generally low in America as well as in Europe. The bad news is that the occasional drug fad get hyped into a crisis that leads to bad laws.“Prohibition does not reduce drug use, but it does have oth…

Texas man foils Liverpool burglary via webcam

Technology is cool. This is frickin' hilarious. From Reuters UK via Progressive Gold:
An American man helped foil a burglary 4,589 miles away in northern England after spotting suspects raiding a shop whilst watching a webcam over the Internet, police said on Friday.The man from Dallas, Texas was using a live camera link to look at Mathew Street, an area of Liverpool synonymous with the Beatles as it is home to the famous Cavern Club where the band regularly played.He saw intruders apparently breaking into a sports store and alerted local police."We did get a call from someone in Dallas who was watching on a webcam that looks into the tourist areas, of which Mathew Street is one because of all the Beatles stuff," a Merseyside Police spokeswoman told Reuters."He called directly through to police here."Officers were sent to the scene and three suspects were arrested.As more and more areas are covered by webcams, I think we'll see this kind of thing more often.…

Heading off disaster

OK folks, I think our anti-insanity activism has got to kick into gear now. These two Glen Greenwald columns are pretty scary. One is about Bush and his opinion that he can declare war, despite explicit Constitutional delegation of this power to Congress (backed up by elaboration in the Federalist papers). The other is how the right wingers in this country have not held a single person in their punditocracy accountable for being so completely wrong about Iraq. Can you believe the right wing still respects and applauds someone who wrote this in May of 2003:
It takes two to quagmire. In Vietnam, America had an enemy that enjoyed significant popular support and effective supply lines. Neither is true in Iraq. Isolated atrocities will continue to happen in the days ahead, as dwindling numbers of the more depraved Ba'athists confront the totality of their irrelevance. But these are the death throes: the regime was decapitated two weeks ago, and what we've witnessed is the last rando…

Lieberman = Republican watch: he won't back Dems

ConnecticutBLOG via Atrios:Okay, lets recap.

1. We find out that Joe Lieberman hung out with Jodi Rell and Rob Simmons on Thursday.

2. He's been endorsed by Nancy Johnson and Chris Shays.

3. NOW, today we learn that Joe flat-out refuses to back Democratic Congressional candidates Diane Farrell, Joe Courtney and Chris Murphy!

Is it NOW safe to call him the de facto Republican candidate?!I wish he'd just get it over with and switch parties. My respect for him would actually go up if he did. "What a nice, moderate Republican that Lieberman is. A bit sanctimonious and completely deluded on Iraq, and that stuff attacking computer games back in the 90's was stupid. But strong on the environment and overall a tolerable being."

Beginning of Life creep

Yesterday, they said life begins with conception.

Today, they say life begins with intercourse.

Tomorrow, they will tell us life begins with dinner and a movie.
-From a comment by Dover Bitch front paged by Digby.

Puritans like nothing more than "discovering" that something fun is harmful. Indeed pleasure=evil seems to be the founding principle of their moral outlook. Tiresome bunch. But it's sorta fun to hear 'em squirm about plan B. I must admit I take a great deal of pleasure in the puritans' suffering and anguish on this matter. I know that this pleasure has an immoral origin, but there it is, welling up from within me.

Iranian missle hysteria

Maniak on the House Intel report on Iran:

I dug through that Atrios link and that House Staff Report is astounding. I'm hoping the intelligence community is slapping their heads at that one as much as I am. I'll stick to rockets maybe instead of politics. Probes to Pluto and missiles are more my speed. I'll leave the conventional forces and Iranian intentions out of this one.

The report seems to be intentionally lumping every missile together as just "missiles". Hezbollah has "10,000 missiles", and then the Shahab 4 has a 4,000 km range. But almost all of Hezbollah's missiles are Katyushas, which are a battlefield artillery rocket and an entirely different beast from ballistic missiles. Israel and international forces in Lebanon need to worry about the Katyushas. They're irrelevant to the rest of the world.

The cornerstone of the document is a big world map with Iranian missile circles on it. The kicker is that the circles seem to be centered on no…

Bowers SLAMS issue groups who support Republicans

Bowers at MyDD lays into "progressive" issue groups (in this case, the League of Conservation Voters, or LCV) who support "moderate" Republicans. And he is right to do so. These groups are politically idiotic, and I won't send them another dime until they pull their heads out of their asses. Here's Bowers:
To summarize:
Even though a Democratic Congress would be far better according to the LCV than a Republican congress, even though all Republican members of Congress vote to support the leadership of that Congress, even though there isn't a congressional district in the country where the Republican nominee would vote better or even as well as the Democratic nominee, even though Patrick Murphy would vote better than Fitzpatrick, even though Fitzpatrick didn't really vote all that well, and even though Fitzpatrick's warchest is filled with the money of Republicans who received a score of uner 10 according to the LCV, the LCV is going to endorse Fitz…

More political ignorance...

...along the lines of what I already posted here. From the Blogometer (full disclosure: I'm currently applying for an internship there):
Bennett found that nearly one-third of adults were unaware that the Republican Party is more conservative than the Democratic Party. And lest the reader think that this is an expression of cynicism rather than a lack of knowledge, Bennett found that whether or not respondents knew there were major differences between the two parties was associated with the amount of knowledge they had of major politicians and the parties but not with their levels of governmental trust.
Whoa, dude. That's like...far out. People are in like, totally different universes, man. I'm like, in a wackly little buble of knowledge.

Wingnuts advocate nuclear annihilation of countries that haven't attacked us

Glen Greenwald speaks out:
Add pre-emptive nuclear annihilation of entire countries to the list of policies (along with the use of torture as an interrogation tool, rendition, laweless detention of U.S. citizens, and presdiential law-breaking) which are so self-evidently contrary to the defining values of our country that they used to be taboo even to advocate, but are now commonly accepted policies among many mainstream pundits, including those who most ardently support the current president.Here's an excerpt from the Walter Williams column he's reacting to:
Today's Americans are vastly different from those of my generation who fought the life-and-death struggle of World War II. Any attempt to annihilate our Middle East enemies would create all sorts of handwringing about the innocent lives lost, so-called collateral damage.I suppose it's just "handwringing" to think about the tens or hundreds of millions of people who would be killed in such an annihilation. …

Alas, for now it's "Bush's way or no way"

Atrios makes a very important point:Whatever problems we face in the world it's important to understand that the choices are "do basically nothing" or "let George Bush do something" and it's doubly important to be able to recognize that "do basically nothing" is often going to be the preferable option.One of the most dangerous aspects of the Bush administration is the fact that it seems impossible to persuade or convince this administration to move away from any particular policy. This lack of strategic flexibility makes it easy for those who oppose us to take advantage of us. They can make any strategic move they wish if the proper counter-move for the U.S. would be a diplomatic one, because they know that this administration can't do diplomacy worth a damn. Similarly, they can take advantage of our presence in Iraq, knowing that the "move" of withdrawing is simply not in Bush's strategic toolkit.

Analysis of Iran's conventional military

It's not very strong, according to Steve Sailer (via Weigel on Sullivan):
If Iran is really out to conquer the region, it would need tanks, lots and lots of tanks, plus air cover, since tank armadas are dead ducks in the open desert. So, is Iran building up its tank fleet and air force preparatory to its upcoming blitzkriegs? Here's what the Center for Strategic and International Studies says about Iran:
"Most of Iran's military equipment is aging or second rate and much of it is worn. Iran lost some 50-60% of its land order of battle in the climatic battles of the Iran-Iraq War, and it has never had large-scale access to the modern weapons and military technology necessary to replace them. It also has lacked the ability to find a stable source of parts and supplies for most of its Western-supplied equipment, and has not have access to upgrades and modernization programs since the fall of the Shah in 1979."Now of course Iran might very well be focusing on nuclear a…

Pluto gets the boot!

CNN has the story:
For now, membership will be restricted to the eight "classical" planets in the solar system: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.Much-maligned Pluto doesn't make the grade under the new rules for a planet: "a celestial body that is in orbit around the sun, has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a ... nearly round shape, and has cleared the neighborhood around its orbit."Pluto is automatically disqualified because its oblong orbit overlaps with Neptune's.Instead, it will be reclassified in a new category of "dwarf planets," similar to what long have been termed "minor planets." The definition also lays out a third class of lesser objects that orbit the sun -- "small solar system bodies," a term that will apply to numerous asteroids, comets and other natural satellites.I wonder what all the poor Pluto-fetishist whiners will say. Will…

"War-Torn Middle East Seeks Solace In Religion"

These days, parody news sources (The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, The Onion) seem more likely to have insightful commentary than "real" news shows. In this case, it's The Onion. I think in my sales pitch for the benefits of secular outlook and de-fanged religion, the whole Middle East will be exhibit A. (And yes, I'm aware that the Communists and the Nazis were technically "secular", but I would argue that they made a religion of the state and of their leaders.)

The Demographic problem (in the US)

It used to be that when one mentioned "the demographic problem", one was referring to the fact that Arabs have been breeding faster than Jews in Israel, and that barring some kind of action, Israel would cease to exist as a Jewish state.

But now it seems that a certain professor who opines in the Wall Street Journal is pointing out that the American left has a demographic problem (HT: Echidne via Digby) , too. A "fertility gap" with conservatives:
But the data on young Americans tell a different story. Simply put, liberals have a big baby problem: They're not having enough of them, they haven't for a long time, and their pool of potential new voters is suffering as a result. According to the 2004 General Social Survey, if you picked 100 unrelated politically liberal adults at random, you would find that they had, between them, 147 children. If you picked 100 conservatives, you would find 208 kids. That's a "fertility gap" of 41%. Given that abou…

A portrait of the undecided voter as a complete dolt

Digby has a great post that mainly consists of an in-depth look at undecided voters:
But the very concept of the issue seemed to be almost completely alien to most of the undecided voters I spoke to... So I tried other ways of asking the same question: "Anything of particular concern to you? Are you anxious or worried about anything? Are you excited about what's been happening in the country in the last four years?"

These questions, too, more often than not yielded bewilderment. As far as I could tell, the problem wasn't the word "issue"; it was a fundamental lack of understanding of what constituted the broad category of the "political." The undecideds I spoke to didn't seem to have any intuitive grasp of what kinds of grievances qualify as political grievances. Often, once I would engage undecided voters, they would list concerns, such as the rising cost of health care; but when I would tell them that Kerry had a plan to lower health-care prem…

"If you say Pluto's not a planet, I will cry like a baby"

For those of you who are unaware, a group of astronomers is attempting to hash out a definition of "planet" that everyone can agree on. The central problem seems to be this: the "folk definition" of planet includes 9 objects, the smallest of which is Pluto. But any useful scientific definition of planet either excludes Pluto, or includes a whole bunch of other objects that people don't want to think of as planets (the "no iceball left behind" definition).

It seems like the most sensible definition would be one that excludes Pluto, but then there are all these whiners who for "emotional reasons" want Pluto classified as a planet. They learned there were 9 planets in elementary school, and are unable to endure the neurological re-wiring it would take to change that number to 8.

My opinion: screw the whiners. If someone wants to have a highly emotional relationship with a chunk of ice with an eccentric orbit, that's fine. Just don't expec…

Terrorism threat overblown?

Continuing my parade posts countering the prevalent terrorism hysteria, I link to this article in Foreign Affairs (HT: Weigel on Sullivan):
Summary: Despite all the ominous warnings of wily terrorists and imminent attacks, there has been neither a successful strike nor a close call in the United States since 9/11. The reasonable -- but rarely heard -- explanation is that there are no terrorists within the United States, and few have the means or the inclination to strike from abroad.I'm a little more worried about international terrorism than the author of this article seems to be. Even if Al Qaeda is defunct, other organizations may eventually arise and use similar tactics.

My main beef is that the steps we are taking to prevent terrorist attacks of this kind seem all wrongheaded. The terror hysteria is making us less secure, because we act less sensibly in response to it. Homeland security money seems to be a big pile of pork, security measures that would require industry to bear…

Republicans "purge" their party

Alaska Republicans threw out their incumbent governor in a primary election yesterday. Like Kos, I'm sure a zillion editorials declaring that the Republican party has been purged by fanatical insurgents will follow.

More kudos for...ME!

Apparently the folks at Progressive Gold saw fit to honor my words on Madonna in Digby's comment section as their comment of the day. Regular readers probably caught these same words in my post on the subject, but if they can be reproduced there, they can be reproducted here:Maybe on her next tour, Madonna can stimulate herself with fluorescent multi-colored sex toys shaped like crosses, crescents, and stars of David while in the background a chorus of eunochs with enormous nipple piercings burn the Bible, Talmud, and Koran with a penis-shaped acetylene torch. The resulting common sense of injury and outrage that would pour forth from all the offended theists could lay the foundation for lasting peace in the Middle East.Had I known this would get around, I would have tightened it up a bit. But now I feel obligated to keep it in original "comment of the day" form for all time.

You go girl!

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OK, it seems like everyone in the blogosphere is spitting venom at Jacqueline Mackie Paisley Passey for this post on her blog (HT: Jon Swift). I'm going to buck the trend and say I think that post is frickin' awesome. Modesty is highly over-rated. So many people in this country seem to mistake moral, legal, and spiritual equality (which I believe in) with intellectual, socio-economic, and erotic equality (which definitely don't exist, though we could work on the socio-economic part). Some people are smarter, better off, and hotter than others and anyone who pretends differently is completely deluded. To hear a blast of unapologetic elitism is like a breath of fresh air. A sample:
The above list explains why I typically receive 50-100 (sometimes more) responses whenever I post personal ads. This is in addition to getting hit on almost every time I go out alone (and all that those men know about me is that they like the way I look, they don’t even know about all the other qu…

Iran attacks...Romanian oil rig?

Apparently, Iran has attacked and captured a Romanian oil rig. Could someone please clue me in as to what the hell is going on here? Why would Iran do this? Is this the opening move in some grand strategic plan, or just some random crazy stuff to keep the world on edge? This article in the Houston chronicle mentions some kind of commercial dispute that Iran decided to respond to with force. I guess what pops into my head is that Iran is sending a signal that it can disrupt Persian Gulf oil if it wants to. But I'm totally pulling that out of my ass. Anyone with more expertise care to weigh in?

UPDATE: Maniak's take (yes, he's a political analyst as well as a rocketry hardware analyst):
A strange move on a day that many were expecting Iran might do something crazy. My guess is that the commercial dispute gave an opening for Iran to give the world a hint that it can use oil as a weapon. It's just too suspect coming on the same day as Iran's response to the UN on it…

War on Drugs Stupidity

David Weigel posts a great video on Sullivan's site. It shows police officers and former police officers talking about how stupid and futile our prohibition strategy on drugs is. I want these ideas to become more prevalent in our discourse.

More on Turkey and Iran shelling PKK in Kurdish Iraq

I've been getting a lot of Google hits on this post, which mentioned somewhat ominous developments regarding Turkey, Iran, and Kurdish Iraq. Apparently, the shells are flying. A Kurdish guerilla group, the PKK, operates out of Kurdish Iraq and both Turkey and Iran are apparently taking their fight across the border. Here's the Turkish Weekly:
Tuesday , 22 August 2006

Kubilay ATASOYU, Ankara, JTW - Artillery shells fired from Iran landed in the PKK armed bases in Northern Iraq. It is reported that many PKK militants were killed and many more were wounded. At the same time Turkish Army has been bombing the bases. Turkish military is sharing intelligence on the PKK in the region with Iran. The PKK is a terrorist organization according to the Turkish, Iranian, American and European laws.
Following the recent killing one of the top commanders of the Iranian security forces by the Kurdistan Free Life Party (PJAK), the PKK's name in Iran, Iran has escalated its attacks on Qandil (Ka…

Will Lieberman be stripped of Dem affiliation?

MyDD has the story:
As I said, it appears to be an open and shut case: he is clearly and knowingly running as "a candidate for office under the designation of another party or organization." As such, if I am reading this correctly, according to Connecticut Democratic Party rules, Lieberman's registration in the Democratic Party should be voided for two years.

Americans against the war in Iraq 61%-35%

I normally refer to it as the occupation of Iraq, but since this CNN poll (HT: Atrios) used the term "war" I'll use it in this case. Whatever you call it, it seems Americans don't like it by a pretty hefty margin:
Just 35 percent of 1,033 adults polled say they favor the war in Iraq; 61 percent say they oppose it -- the highest opposition noted in any CNN poll since the conflict began more than three years ago.Now if only our political arena reflected this reality.

"We're not leaving so long as I'm the president"

Notice how Bush's statement about Iraq from today's press conference (via billmon) doesn't include any reference to any circumstances in Iraq, good or bad. It doesn't matter if they "stand up" or if they are in a civil war (which they are) or if Iraqis ask us to leave or if the American public or Congress or the U.S. military want us to leave. According to Bush, we're staying, period. He's "decided". His connection to reality, always tenuous, has come completely untethered.

UPDATE: The Washington Post has the story. And kudos to them for having a Technorati-powered "Read what bloggers are saying" box attached to every article. This will get them lots of links from me, certainly!

Bush is a felon

Once again, Glenn Greenwald slams it out of the park. Here he is, quoting Jonathan Turley(registration required):
If this program is unlawful, federal law expressly makes the ordering of surveillance under the program a federal felony. That would mean that the president could be guilty of no fewer than 30 felonies in office. Moreover, it is not only illegal for a president to order such surveillance, it is illegal for other government officials to carry out such an order.
It seems pretty simple: FISA requires you to get a warrant to conduct certain kinds of surveillence. Bush didn't get the warrant, but did the surveillance. Therefore, he broke the law. Breaking this law is a felony. The issues aren't that complex. The very simplicity of the case is causing major embarrassment. No one in official Washington is willing to make the obvious "He's not wearing any clothes at all!" statement. They desperately want to believe that there are hopelessly complicated issues a…

About time: Blair dumps Bush?

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I was wondering when Blair was going to come to his senses and quit the poodle act. Via digby we have this story:
The alliance between George Bush and Tony Blair is in danger after it was revealed that the Prime Minister believes the President has 'let him down badly' over the Middle East crisis. A senior Downing Street source said that, privately, Mr Blair broadly agrees with John Prescott, who said Mr Bush's record on the issue was 'crap'. The source said: "We all feel badly let down by Bush. We thought we had persuaded him to take the Israel-Palestine situation seriously, but we were wrong. How can anyone have faith in a man of such low intellect?"
All I can say is, it's about frickin' time. Blair's capitulation to Bush's insanity is something I've never fully grokked. Blair's support has lent a fig leaf of a tiny amount of international legitimacy to Bush's disasterous and immoral Iraq venture, and thereby made it more diffic…

Christian hissy-fit: Madonna and the disco cross

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Oh, this is rich. It turns out Madonna is being threatened with legal action in Germany for the number in her concert depicted in the image to the left. According to SpokesmanReview.com (via digby), "Pop star Madonna could face legal action in Duesseldorf, Germany, if she repeats a scene in her Sunday show that has angered Roman Catholic leaders."

Where to start? First of all, I think anti-blasphemy laws are stupid. I think this may be one area where The United States is a lot more progressive than Europe. Second of all, I don't suppose it ever occurs to to these folks that Madonna and her PR machine would like nothing more than to have one of her stage numbers spark some kind of religion vs. free speech controversy. This sort of thing is Madonna's bread and butter: waves of free exposure of exactly the kind she needs in order to stay "edgy" and "current". Heck, she's even getting mentioned on Internal Monologue. You can't buy that kind of …

Technical Update: Trackbacks!

OK, I think I've enabled trackbacks on this blog. If you don't know those are, that's OK. (They are a way to place links to your blog here on Internal Monologue. So if you write something on your blog about one of my posts, and you want Internal Monologue readers to see it, you can leave a trackback on my post that points to your blog. I use them a lot on Andrew Sullivan's blog to try to get his readers to come here.)

I haven't tested them yet. Let's see if they work...

UPDATE: They seem to work. Link away! Think how much traffic will be driven to your site with a trackback on Internal Monologue!

Free bottle of wine for bloggers?

I found this at Majikthise. It appears to be legit: the offer is detailed here. I've already written in for mine.

Hint to advertisers: Bloggers are cheap, and more importantly, starved for attention. We have an enormously inflated sense of our own importance, and anyone who caters to it will probably get a disproportionate amount of publicity as a result. But act soon, because eventually everyone will catch on and you'll have to spend lots of money just to get us to pay attention to you. Exploit us now while we're still cheap.

Scarborough asks "Is Bush and Idiot?"

Joe Scarborough, a former Republican congressman, asked this question prominently on his show, and has created quite a stir among conservatives. My favorite part is the Scarborough nailed Bush for exactly the right fault: it's not so much that Bush is dumb, but that he completely lacks curiosity about the world:
While the country does not want a leader wallowing in the weeds, Scarborough concluded on the segment, "we do need a president who, I think, is intellectually curious.""And that is a big question," Scarborough said, "whether George W. Bush has the intellectual curiousness -- if that's a word -- to continue leading this country over the next couple of years."I love it when my thoughts are echoed in the larger media world:
If I was going to surrender my conscience to some god-king, it would not be to an inarticulate dry drunk whose profound incuriosity about the world is matched only by his smug certainty about the correctness of his judgement…

John Kerry attacks Lieberman

How quickly Joementum has turned himself from darling of the Democratic establishment into untouchable pariah. Lots of sites have picked up Kerry's slam:
Kerry Calls Lieberman the New CheneyAug. 20, 2006 — Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., blasted a fellow Democrat, Sen. Joe Lieberman, for continuing his bid in the Connecticut Senate race despite a narrow loss to newcomer Ned Lamont in the Democratic primary earlier this month. "I'm concerned that [Lieberman] is making a Republican case," Kerry told ABC News' "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" in an exclusive appearance. Kerry accused the 2000 Democratic vice presidential candidate of "adopting the rhetoric of Dick Cheney," on the issue of Iraq.I'll link to Taylor Marsh and Daily Kos for analysis. One thing I object to is ABC's use of the phrase "fellow Democrat". I think "erstwhile fellow Democrat" would be more apropos.

Iraq is in a civil war

Duh. But it's nice to hear that this is the new "Conventional Wisdom". So let's pat the puditocracy on the back for being able to see the frickin' obvious.

Terrorist fear causes racist hysteria on plane

Sad, but predictable. Glen Greenwald has the story, quoting from the Daily Mail:
British holidaymakers staged an unprecedented mutiny - refusing to allow their flight to take off until two men they feared were terrorists were forcibly removed.

The extraordinary scenes happened after some of the 150 passengers on a Malaga-Manchester flight overheard two men of Asian appearance apparently talking Arabic.

Passengers told cabin crew they feared for their safety and demanded police action. Some stormed off the Monarch Airlines Airbus A320 minutes before it was due to leave the Costa del Sol at 3am. Others waiting for Flight ZB 613 in the departure lounge refused to board it.
My favorite part of Greenwald's response:
Personally, I don't blame anyone for having irrational thoughts and fears prior to flying. Our brains generate irrational fears in all sorts of different situations, and particularly with the fear-mongering and relentless media hyping of every rumored terrorist threat, it is…

Religious wars entertain God

Or so say certain Christians, like Francis Collins (who also happens to be a prominent scientist and author of The Language of God):
If the case in favor of belief in God were utterly airtight, then the world would be full of confident practitioners of a single faith. But imagine such a world, where the opportunity to make a free choice about belief was taken away by the certainty of the evidence. How interesting would that be?
Lizard at Journal of Applied Misanthropology gives this view the royal smackdown it so richly deserves:
Wow. Just...wow.

Why are there religious wars? Because God finds them "interesting".

Why are (if Christian theology is correct) uncounted billions of human beings consigned to an eternity of unimaginable torment? Because God thought it would be amusing.

Why are children being murdered and women being gang raped due to factional differences between groups allegedly practicing the same faith? Because it affords God some momentary amusement.

I am not the one…

The decline of the House of Hefner

This Pandagon article and the Maclean's article it links to, paint a picture of the lifestyle of Hugh Hefner, publisher of Playboy, as he nears octogenarianity:
As Hefner approached 80, his sexual prowess had dimmed. With Viagra he could summon a facsimile of his youth. The result, as described by St. James, was as spontaneous and erotic as a tax audit. After much female fluffing, Hefner always finished solo, which is ironic: the man responsible for the fantasyscape of generations, the role model for promiscuity, is in the end like a teenage boy masturbating alone to Playboy. The only difference: Hefner brought himself to orgasm amidst a living Playboy tableaux, as naked women writhed in a "pseudo-lesbian thing."What a wonderful, sad, poignant mixture: here's Hugh, living out the beautiful "pseudo-lesbian" multiple bed-partner fantasy. But alas, he is unable to take advantage of it fully, and requires a product touted by Bob Dole to do so in even a limited f…

Criticism of Israel, Criticism in general

Here's a wacky phenomenon that Michael J. Totten, guest blogging for Andrew Sullivan, points out:
An even starker contrast is noticeable between Israel-supporters in Israel and Israel-supporters in America. Israel’s partisans in the U.S. often talk as though Israel rarely makes any mistakes, that because Israel is a democracy with a right to defend itself it can do no or little wrong. Israelis themselves rarely do this. One of the things that frustrates me most about the American right-wing mind is that it conflates criticism of something with hatred of something. If you criticize Israel, you must hate it and want Hezbollah to win. If you don't like the way our occupation of Iraq is being conducted, you must hate our troops. If you point out something in America that you feel needs to be changed, you must despise your homeland. I don't know if they actually think this way, or just use this as a rhetorical device to score political points, or whether they can tell the differ…

Dry Humping Saves Lives

...is the slogan of the AIDS prevention program described here on Feministing.

Lieberman = Republican watch: NYT

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The New York Times is picking up on the Lieberman = Republican story (HT: DailyKos). After spending time in the blogosphere, the MSM (that's mainstream media for those of you not down with the lingo) often seems a bit dated, at least when dealing with topics in which I'm interested:
G.O.P. Deserts One of Its Own for LiebermanFacing Senator Joseph I. Lieberman’s independent candidacy, Republican officials at the state and national level have made the extraordinary decision to abandon their official candidate, and some are actively working to help Mr. Lieberman win in November. Despite Mr. Lieberman’s position that he will continue to caucus with Democrats if re-elected, all three Republican Congressional candidates in Connecticut have praised Mr. Lieberman and have not endorsed the party’s nominee, Alan Schlesinger. An independent group with Republican ties is raising money for Mr. Lieberman, who has been a strong supporter of President Bush on the Iraq war.I'm glad t…

Celebrities say no to terrorism

I'm with slacktivist on this one. Taking out a big ad in the LA Times to condemn something that everyone already thinks is evil is not "taking a stand", it's just self-aggrandizement. It's like when people come out in support of Christianity, the religion of some 90% of the country. Oh, your bravery astounds me! Would that I had such cajones! To publicly declare something that nearly everyone agrees with must require a strength of spirit far beyond anything I can ever hope to obtain.

This reminds me of the celebrity activism parodies in the movie Team America: World Police. I usually don't find celebrity activism annoying the way some people do. I'm glad that people use their fame to try to improve the world. But I guess in this case I can feel a little annoyed, too.

UPDATE: OK, I guess this could be a pro-Israeli statement that doesn't quite come out and say exactly that (a commenter on slacktivist makes this argument). If you want to argue that the me…