Bowie, Baby

I'm Afraid of Americans

...God is an American...

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The Virtual Bar Is Open

Crack 'em open, Shakers. It's Friday night!

And thank fuck for that.

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Daily Highlights

Shakes: Gross Old Party

Shakes: It’s Official—God’s an American!

Shakes: And the Big Brass Balls of Ballsiness Award goes to…

Paul the Spud: Someone let Prezint Yammer McBlowhard in front of a microphone again.

Paul the Spud: Completely Heartbreaking

Paul the Spud: Out on a Limb

Shakes: Angry Men, Searching Men—and What They Can Learn From Girls and Queers

Shakes: Quote of the Day

Shakes: Chet Speak; You Listen

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Right On


The Democratic Party (which, I hate to tell you folks, may be "liberal" by US standards but is a centre-right party by international standards) had control of the House of Representatives for forty years before the Republican takeover of 1994. It's had control of the White House for twenty of the last forty-six years. It last had control of the Senate in 2002, a mere four years ago. There is plenty of history of the Democrats being in control of part or all of the federal government. At any time, has that party established a Department of Peace? Made alliances with Castro? Launched a communist revolution? Done anything like any of this crazy crap?

No, no, no, and no.
Go read the whole thing.

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Quote of the Day

“You have to separate the marketing from the reality. The reality is, these members are not homophobic. For the most part, they're using this marketing to play to our base and stay in power. They have to turn out the votes." — David Duncan, former board member of the Lesbian and Gay Congressional Staff Association and former aide to disgraced Congressman Bob Ney (R-Ohio), explaining the GOP’s anti-gay strategy. (Via.)

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Caption This Photo

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Angry Men, Searching Men—and What They Can Learn From Girls and Queers

Mr. Shakes and I rarely fight. Even when we’re debating an issue, whether one of us is playing devil’s advocate or we genuinely have different takes on the subject, we can get pretty passionate without getting angry. But there’s one subject that can send both of us into separate corners after baring teeth and claws—sexism.

Part of it, as Mr. Shakes would admit, is that he just doesn’t know what he’s talking about half the time. That’s not a function of his being stupid or unknowledgeable; it’s just that he’s not a woman. I can still introduce a concept like a woman’s body being treated as community property into a conversation and he looks at me blankly. It’s not his experience; he doesn’t know what it’s like to have strangers put his hands on his pregnant belly, or have his ass grabbed on a train by another commuter, or have his boss stare at his breasts instead of looking him in the eye. Like many men, he regards with some amusement the stereotypical mysteries of womanhood—the plethora of bottles, jars, and contraptions that make a bathroom counter top look like a chemist’s set, the fascination with shoes, going to the restroom in pairs, the stuff of jokes and sitcoms. But there is a whole unknown cultural experience of womanhood that is a mystery to him, too, much of which he doesn’t even realize exists, until I tell him. Manhood is so easily substituted for personhood; there are times he is shocked with how very different our lives are, even though they look so very similar at first glance.

Like any member of a non-dominant group, I am more familiar with his experience than he is with mine.

The other part of it, the place where it always becomes contentious, is that he has a particular blind spot for what is a qualitative intrinsic difference between men and women, and what is a difference rooted in the definitions of manhood and womanhood as dictated by cultural imperatives. That women’s breasts are shaped differently than men’s is an intrinsic difference; that they are regarded differently is cultural. On less obvious issues, sometimes Mr. Shakes just can’t wrap his head around it, and his counterargument essentially boils down to men and women are just different, babe—and that’s pretty much when I want to rip his throat out and become a lesbian.

Except I don’t. Not only because I know I can drive him straight up one wall and down another myself, but also because I know he’s trying. He hit the genetic jackpot when he was born a straight, white male, and he could easily live his entire life never making a modicum of effort to understand what it means to be gay, or a person of color, or a woman. But he hasn’t chosen to live a life of ignorant bliss.

So sometimes marital bliss takes a backseat while we fight the battle of the sexes.

The truth is, one of the problems in talking about this stuff is that saying “women and men are the same” is not the same as saying “women and men are equal.” Equality is not predicated on absolute likeness, nor should it be. Asserting that women and men are equal speaks to there being no fundamental differences between their capacities to learn and achieve, to their deserving the same pay for the same work and the same right to vote and the same opportunities. Women and men don’t have to be the same to achieve equality, and they are not. We’re different—and there’s nothing wrong with saying so, unless it’s used as an excuse for the perpetuation of inequality. Indeed, I would argue that substituting “sameness” for “equality” actually undermines our ability to celebrate our respective strengths and how they can complement each other to the betterment of us all.

Problematically, while we never seem to suffer from a lack of people willing to critique, from every conceivable angle and spanning the spectrum from fair to absurd, how women’s sex-specific qualities manifest themselves, what they mean for policy, and how they affect women and men, there is much less exploration of men’s sex-specific qualities and how they function in a changing culture. Critiques of the patriarchy (which is a crap paradigm for most men, too—especially not-rich ones) or sexism are not the same as redefining manhood, the women’s equivalent of which is rooted in the feminist movement, of which there is no male-centered counterpart. Certainly feminism is about achieving equality for women, but it is also about womanhood, which is both biological and cultural.

The lack of such an equivalent framework for men is part of what discerning biological difference versus cultural difference within themselves a dubious proposition for many men. As we see with women who reject feminism, they are keen to believe that what are easily identified cultural imperatives are really biological ones. For straight men, who exist in a culture largely structured to accommodate male primacy, pulling apart the intrinsic nature of men from the socialization borne of a society that reinforces the privilege of maleness, is exponentially more difficult.

And thusly, lots of men cannot dissociate their rigid understanding of manhood from the societal influences which are largely mutable; they’ve had no reason to question whether a society that so perfectly suits them has created a definition of manhood that isn’t “real,” and so attempts to change society are inextricably linked to attempts to change men in ways they believe they cannot be changed. And that makes a lot of men angry.

Which brings me to Sara Robinson’s There’s Something About the Men. After referencing 10 instances of men picking up guns in acts of depression, frustration, disenfranchisement, just since September 13, Sara concludes, quite correctly, I believe, that something is going very wrong among large numbers of American men:

Militia members, gun nuts, hate criminals, fundamentalists, Minutemen, high-social dominance authoritarian leaders, submissive authoritarian followers, guys like the one below, guys like the ones above. Over the years, we've had a lot of conversations here trying to figuring out what makes them tick, where they want to take us, how we can keep from going there -- and perhaps most plangently: why do we seem to have so many of them? Often, if we talk about it long enough, the conversation always seems to come back to one place. And there it stops, as if on the edge of something vast and terrifying that we simply cannot bring ourselves to grapple with.

Something is not right with the boys. Something in the way Americans look at males and manhood has gone sour, curdling into to a rank, toxic, and nasty brew that is changing the entire flavor of our culture. Men everywhere seem to be furious. Some turn it outward against women, against society, against the institutions that no longer seem to nurture them. Some turn it inward against themselves, putting their energies into bizarre self-destructive fantasy lives centered around money, violence, and sex. Some, more disenchanted than angry, check out entirely, abdicating any interest in making commitments or contributions to a family, a profession, or a community to spend their lives as perpetual Lost Boys. Together, all this misdirected, destructive energy has become a social, cultural, and political liability that we can no longer afford to ignore.

As the old preacher asked in the opening scenes of The Big Chill: "Are the satisfactions of being a good man among our common men no longer enough?" Given the number of men who seem to be completely disconnected from the very idea of the greater good, let alone the thought that they have any responsibility to it, the answer seems to be: No. They're not.
There are men, Sara notes, who attribute this problem to feminism, and, realistically, although a lot of boys are happier with undeserved privilege isn’t a fair argument against fighting for equality, it’s tough to ignore that the fight has indeed generated a fair bit of anger among men who view it as a zero-sum game. Anyone who believes that for every woman working, there’s a man without a job—or not as good a job as he’d otherwise have—isn’t rational enough to be persuaded of the reality that “in most of the ways that matter, we're a better, stronger society because” of feminism. And those angry, disaffected, irrational men have been well-courted by conservatives:

The right wing has very aggressively stepped forward with all kinds of answers to salve their souls. The military. NASCAR. Promise Keepers. The Boy Scouts. And, more ominously, the KKK and the militias and the Minutemen. The conservative Cult of Maleness is full of tradition and ritual, conformity and hierarchy, the stuff of which male cultures have always been made. …Say what you will about all this puffed-up patriarchal posturing, but the fact remains: these made-for-men bonding ops seem to be channeling some powerful energy, and fulfilling some yawning emotional needs.
Progressives, however, Sara argues, have not been as forthcoming. She suggests that we need to admit that men and women are different and reject the “forced androgyny of liberal culture”—and here’s where I think she makes a mistake. I’m not sure to what liberal culture she’s referring, considering that even feminists are still arguing about wearing lip gloss and high heels. This reinforces the erroneous notion that arguing for equality is arguing for sameness, and even the feminists who reject feminine trappings don’t argue that women and men should be “the same.” We need to get it out of our heads and our dialogue that there are people of either gender vociferously advocating some approximation of a sci-fi fantasy in which we all wear spandex body suits and one’s sex is superfluous. Promulgating this notion, substituting being given the same opportunity and respect with being the same, is part of what drives the anger of men who feel disenfranchised from traditional notions of manhood and see no alternative around which to create a new definition.

And so, when Sara says she believes it “may be time for the progressive community to have an honest discussion about why these guys are angry; what they feel like they’ve lost; and how we’re going to rebuild a new definition of manhood that meets their deepest emotional, social, and spiritual needs without also bringing on the resurrection of the late-but-not-lamented macho asshole,” I couldn’t agree more—I just hope we can do it without relying on the strawliberal who supports forced androgyny, because that’s a false framework created in reaction to women who want to be seen as equals. It’s very dangerous to hold up liberal views of sex- and gender-redefinition as “the bad example” by invoking this backlash creation, because it is within liberalism that men will find their best models—feminism and the gay rights movement.

Sara suggests that maybe, for men, “the process of re-creating their place in our culture has hardly even started.” This is absolutely right, and a collective process is long overdue. A progressive men’s movement geared toward redefinition and re-creating men’s place in a changing culture may not appeal to the men flocking to the bastions of traditional manhood offered up by the rightwing any more than feminism does to rightwing women, but in the same way that feminism achieved a tipping point, whereafter traditional womanhood was seen as just that—“traditional,” but no longer a singular definition—a progressive men’s movement could accomplish the same. It might even find a few converts in the process—perhaps some of those angry men who see no alternative to the tradition they feel they are losing.

And, if nothing else, it would provide that long-absent framework that men who are already interested in such an endeavor have been missing, the tools to finally begin extracting what defines manhood according to men from what defines manhood according to a patriarchy. They are very different things indeed. Just ask a gay man—he’s already walking this road.

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Going Out On a Limb Here...

Look, I know this opinion isn't going to be popular, but I've simply got to say it. Bash away at me in comments if you must, but I have to get this off my chest.

Jonah Goldberg is a jaw-droppingly stupid asshole. An incredibly moronic embarassment. A blockheaded, short-sighted, lie-spreading, hypocritical douchebag.

What? You all agree?

Oh, good.

Then enjoy with me, won't you, as Amanda eviscerates him?

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Completely Heartbreaking

As the Iraq War grinds on, Bush insisting it will never end, and the deaths continue, continue, continue... writings such as this one are striking and vital:

After Pat's Birthday

Somehow we were sent to invade a nation because it was a direct threat to the American people, or to the world, or harbored terrorists, or was involved in the September 11 attacks, or received weapons-grade uranium from Niger, or had mobile weapons labs, or WMD, or had a need to be liberated, or we needed to establish a democracy, or stop an insurgency, or stop a civil war we created that can’t be called a civil war even though it is. Something like that.

Somehow our elected leaders were subverting international law and humanity by setting up secret prisons around the world, secretly kidnapping people, secretly holding them indefinitely, secretly not charging them with anything, secretly torturing them. Somehow that overt policy of torture became the fault of a few “bad apples” in the military.

Somehow back at home, support for the soldiers meant having a five-year-old kindergartener scribble a picture with crayons and send it overseas, or slapping stickers on cars, or lobbying Congress for an extra pad in a helmet. It’s interesting that a soldier on his third or fourth tour should care about a drawing from a five-year-old; or a faded sticker on a car as his friends die around him; or an extra pad in a helmet, as if it will protect him when an IED throws his vehicle 50 feet into the air as his body comes apart and his skin melts to the seat.

Somehow the more soldiers that die, the more legitimate the illegal invasion becomes.

Somehow American leadership, whose only credit is lying to its people and illegally invading a nation, has been allowed to steal the courage, virtue and honor of its soldiers on the ground.

Somehow those afraid to fight an illegal invasion decades ago are allowed to send soldiers to die for an illegal invasion they started.

Read the whole thing; it's as inspiring as it is heartbreaking. You might also want to send a copy to every registered voter you know.

Particularly if they support this goddamned "president" and this goddamned war.

(Tip of the Energy Dome to oddjob)

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Just. Shut. Up.

Someone let Prezint Yammer McBlowhard in front of a microphone again. (Bolds mine)

Bush: US Trops to Remain in Iraq Until "Terrorists" Defeated

WASHINGTON (AFP) - President George W. Bush insisted that US troops would not pull out of Iraq before "the terrorists are defeated," a day after acknowledging a possible parallel between violence there and the Tet Offensive during the US war in Vietnam.

The comments, coming less than three weeks before crucial elections, follow his acknowledgement on Wednesday that the current steep spike in violence in Iraq "could be" compared to the Tet Offensive, widely considered to be key to souring US public opinion on the Vietnam War.

"Our goal in Iraq is clear and unchanging. Our goal is victory," said Bush, speaking at a rally Thursday for embattled Republican congressman Don Sherwood in the town of La Plume, Pennsylvania.

"We are a nation at war, and we must do everything in our power to win that war," he said.

"We will not pull out our troops from Iraq before the terrorists are defeated. We will not pull out before Iraq can govern itself, sustain itself, and defend itself," he said.
A war he created. A completely unnecessary, illegal war of his own creation that has killed hundreds of thousands. We are at war because George W. Bush wanted a war.


Shiite Militia Takes Over Iraqi City
BAGHDAD, Iraq - The Shiite militia run by the anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr seized control of a southern Iraqi city on Friday in one of the boldest acts of defiance yet by the country's powerful, unofficial armies, witnesses and police said.

Mahdi Army fighters stormed three main police stations Friday morning, residents said, planting explosives that flattened the buildings in Amarah, a city just 30 miles from the Iranian border that was under British command until August, when it was returned to Iraqi government control.

About 800 black-clad militiamen with Kalashnikov rifles and rocket-propelled grenades were patrolling in commandeered police vehicles, witnesses said. Other fighters set up roadblocks on routes into the city and sound trucks circulated telling residents to stay indoors.


The showdown between the Mahdi and Badr militias has the potential to develop into an all-out conflict between the heavily armed groups and their political sponsors, both with large blocs in parliament and backers of al-Maliki's ruling coalition. It also could shatter the unity of Iraq's majority Shiites at a time when an enduring Sunni insurgency shows no signs of abating.

The U.N. refugee agency said at least 914,000 Iraqis have fled their homes since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, more than a third in response to the sectarian bloodshed this year.

The chief military spokesman in Iraq said a two-month-old security operation in Baghdad had failed to meet targets while the monthly death toll for American troops in October had climbed to 74, putting October on course to be the deadliest for U.S. forces in nearly two years.

"The violence is indeed disheartening," Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell said Thursday in Baghdad.
Yes indeed. Tch, tch. Awful shame, that.

I simply can't believe that this is going on, and the big issue that's supposedly going to "defeat" Bush and the Republicans is Mark fucking Foley.

(We had joy, we had fun, we had cross-posts in the sun...)

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Friday Blogwhoring

What’s love got to do, got to do, with it?

Check out Nancy in NYC’s great post over at Pam’s place. You might recognize some other familiar names filling in over there while Pam’s traveling, too…

Friday Blogrollin’ will return next week.

And, btw, Blogger blowzzz. George Soros, please give me some money so I can turn this crackerjack operation into a blogging empire better suited to Queen Cunt of Fuck Mountain and all the well-deserving Shakers. Thank you.

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Representative Jerry Lewis (R-Calif), chairman of the House Appropriations Committee! You are today’s winner of The Shakespeare’s Sister Big Brass Balls of Ballsiness Award.


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Rumsfeld is “Inspired by God”

Well, this should certainly reassure Muslims who believe the US is on a crusade:

The top US general defended the leadership of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, saying it is inspired by God.

"He leads in a way that the good Lord tells him is best for our country," said Marine General Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The good Lord is talking directly to Rumsfeld? I had no idea. I didn’t even know the good Lord had officially gotten his American citizenship, but it looks like he has. Congratulations, God! Nice to have you on our team. I always thought that “He’s got the whole world in his hands” thing was a little silly.

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Gross Old Party:

The Republican Party will begin airing a hard-hitting ad this weekend that warns of more cataclysmic terror attacks against the U.S. homeland.

The ad portrays Osama bin Laden and quotes his threats against America dating to February 1998. "These are the stakes," the ad concludes. "Vote November 7."
Forget for a moment the practical fallacies implied by the suggestion that only the Republicans can protect us against terror—since we all know that’s total bunk. I just love the irony of terrorizing the American people with ominous scare ads in order to remind them that terror is our greatest threat.

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Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime


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Question of the Day

With no requirement to give it, of course, should you prefer to remain anonymous, do you like your first name? Do you use a name other than the one you were given? If you were forced to pick a new name for yourself, what would you choose?

I like Melissa. It suits me well enough, and I like its meaning—it’s Greek for honey bee. I’ve never gone by anything else, except shortened versions of Melissa, usually either Lissa or Liss, and never Missy.

If I had to choose a new name, I’d probably be really boring and pick something that was close to Melissa, like Miranda, because I like the rhythm of my name and the alliteration: Melissa McEwan. It feels like a good name for me.

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Daily Highlights

Shakes: One Stinky Congress

Shakes: Bush, Iraq, and Vietnam

Paul the Spud: Voter Intimidation Linked to GOP

Paul the Spud: Priest Admits Molesting Foley

Shakes: Hey, Feminists…

Paul the Spud: Wallowing in the Filth

Shakes: Name That Winger

Tart: Drug Salad, Anyone?

Shakes: O’Reilly Wants to Frag Me

Shakes: In which the irony is too great for my skull to handle

Shakes: 125 Arrested for Child Porn

Paul the Spud: Supporting the Troops

Shakes: Hastert Watch

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Love Letters

This is for Tart…and her beloved pasta.

It’s by the same guy who did SHOES!

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Caption This Photo

“This here’s the biggest tomata I ever seen! Heh heh.”

Actual Caption: President Bush examines a pumpkin which he later purchased during an unscheduled stop while campaigning for Sen. George Allen, R-Va., in Richmond, Va., Thursday, Oct. 19, 2006.—AP Photo/Charles Dharapak

This means that not only is Preznit Pumpkin campaigning with a Congressman accused of choking his mistress during National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, but he’s also campaigning with a racist during National Character Counts Week.

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The Wrong and Whining Toad

Shocking, I know, but it doesn’t seem as though the Tyrannosaurus of Turpitude inspired a lot of loyalty from his underlings—at least not the kind that would move them to lie under oath to protect his lying, whimpering ass:

Jeff Trandahl, the former House clerk who oversaw the Congressional page program, testified for more than four hours today before the House ethics committee about his recollections of how Republican leaders handled complaints of former Representative Mark Foley’s behavior around young workers on Capitol Hill.

…People close to the case, who asked not to be identified because of the continuing investigation, said Mr. Trandahl’s version of events would corroborate that the speaker’s office had been advised of complaints about Mr. Foley’s behavior for at least three years. Mr. Hastert’s office has denied that assertion, saying it learned of concerns about Mr. Foley only a year ago when a former page from Louisiana turned over e-mail exchanges he had with south Florida congressman.
Toad-boy Denny hasn’t testified yet, as the investigation moves into its third week. They should have put his lumbering pooper on the stand first, so he wouldn’t have had time to create his story based on everyone else’s leaked testimony.

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Supporting the Troops

Something to think about on Election Day.

Congress' approval rating is at 16%.

This would be the same Congress that voted to give themselves yet another raise this year. As they've done every year they've been in power. Because they're doing such a good job, apparently.

Meanwhile, Military families are relying on food stamps and food banks to eat.

The women and children who formed a line at Camp Pendleton last week could have been waiting for a child-care center to open or Disney on Ice tickets to go on sale.

As the Iraq war marches toward its fourth anniversary, food lines operated by churches and other nonprofit groups are an increasingly valuable presence on military bases countywide. Leaders of the charitable groups say they're scrambling to fill a need not seen since World War II.

Too often, the supplies run out before the lines do, said Regina Hunter, who coordinates food distribution at one Camp Pendleton site.

“Here they are defending the country. . . . It is heartbreaking to see,” said Hunter, manager of the on-base Abby Reinke Community Center. “If we could find more sources of food, we would open the program up to more people. We believe anyone who stands in a line for food needs it and deserves it.”

The base's list of recipients swells by 100 to 150 people a month as the food programs streamline their eligibility process, word spreads among residents and ever-proud Marines adjust to the idea of accepting donated goods.

At least 2,000 financially strapped people in North County qualify for food and other items given out at the center and a Camp Pendleton warehouse run by the Military Outreach Ministry.
Tip 'o the Energy Dome to Badtux, who adds:
Fact #2: Republican Senatorial candidate Thomas Kean Jr. releases his income tax return, showing that he had over $200,000 of income, paid $8,100 in taxes (i.e., 4% tax rate!), and then whines that his taxes are too high.
Feeling the rage yet?

(Things that make you go cross post.)

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125 Arrested in Child Porn Probe

Including a Bible camp counselor and a Boy Scout leader. (Please note that there is a disturbing description contained in this blockquote.)

A Bible camp counselor and a Boy Scout leader were among 125 people arrested nationwide in an Internet child pornography case in which subscribers purchased photos and videos of children engaged in sex acts with adults, federal authorities said Wednesday.

The case originated in New Jersey, but quickly spread to 22 states. The defendants were charged with either possession or receipt of child pornography. Additional arrests are expected.

…“When I say ‘hard-core’ pornography, I am talking about child pornography that includes images of children as young as six months involved in bondage and sodomy,” U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie said. “This type of depraved conduct is something a civilized society cannot tolerate.”
Suddenly tag ain’t looking so bad.

Every single time there’s a story like this, inevitably among the list of busted are a camp counselor, a Scout leader, a teacher, a minister—someone in a position with whom people should feel comfortable trusting their kids. But that’s the thing about pedophiles; they very carefully and deliberately place themselves in positions where they will be trusted with kids. And they’re scarily good at what they do. To put sex offenders’ “success rate” into perspective, a 2000 study done on imprisoned sex offenders found that they had an average of 110 victims and 318 offenses, though they had only two known victims on average. Consider those numbers for a moment, and then consider how much damage just a few of these people can do.

(Hat tip Holly.)

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Warning: Painful Irony Ahead

Well, it’s happened. My head has finally just gone and exploded.

The nation's Roman Catholic bishops said Wednesday that they are developing new guidelines for ministry to gays, reaffirming church opposition to same-gender marriage and adoption by the couples, while condemning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
That was certainly enough to get it spinning. The steam was already coming out of my ears as the searing irony sizzled away inside my skull. But then there was this.

The draft document encourages parishes to make gays feel welcome and provide them pastoral support, and notes that many "are ardently striving to live their faith within the Catholic community so as not to fall into the lifestyle and values of a 'gay subculture.' "

But the authors repeatedly state that any such ministries must be led by people who uphold church teaching on sexuality, and assert that Catholic leaders have a right to "deny roles of service" in the church to people who violate that teaching.
My poor wee noggin just couldn’t take it. New guidelines to condemn discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation…which affirm the right to…discriminate on the basis on sexual orientation.

Goodbye, cruel world. I go to a better place where irony is only used for the amusement of sardonic bitchez, and never, ever as a weapon of cranial destruction.

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I Hate Bill O’Reilly: Part 9,386,172 in an Ongoing Series

He’d like to take care of all of us bloggers who have the temerity to involve ourselves in politics, no less get pissed about our president doing things like eradicating habeas corpus and endorsing torture, with a hand grenade.

The hat tip goes to Griffin, who says: “Bill O'Reilly decrying the personal vitriol in political discourse is pretty much the definition of the pot calling the kettle black.” Indeed. Check out this Greatest Hits Reel of O’Reilly making personal attacks (which he claims he never makes).

You’ll notice that many of these come from his daily radio show, for which, as I’ve noted before, O’Reilly uses to display the depth of his conservative extremism. It was there he offered up San Francisco as a target to al-Qaeda, for instance—something he never would have said on his nightly show. There, he parades himself as Mr. Pragmatic Everyman, appealing to moderates, while he uses his radio outlier to generate support among extremists, who are primed by peers like Rush Limbaugh. It’s a truly nefarious little operation he has going. I imagine many of the center-right people who watch his show and line his pockets by buying his books have no idea the scope and level of extremism he has been purveying on his radio show every day—though they will now, since it’s evidently beginning to creep into his telly broadcasts as he begins to lose his audience.

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Things I Found on the Front Lawn This Morning

Drug salad, anyone?

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Name That Winger

Can you name the right-wing buttfors pictured here
in their high school or college yearbook photos?

Guess all eight correctly and you'll get 1,000 points!

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Wallowing in the Filth

The GOP just can't help themselves. Max Blumenthal posted today about a new GOP campaign ad in which two "black male" voices call women "ho's."

Oh, and those Democrats? They loves them some abortions.

No one can criticize the GOP for failing to produce sophisticated propaganda that successfully exploits the hopes and fears of white middle Americans. But can the right-wing distraction factory woo minorities with the same techniques? Check out the following transcript of a new Republican ad targeting black voters in 10 battleground states this year and you be the judge:

BLACK MAN #1: "If you make a little mistake with one of your 'hos,' you'll want to dispose of that problem tout suite, no questions asked."

BLACK MAN #2: "That's too cold. I don't snuff my own seed."

BLACK MAN #1: "Maybe you do have a reason to vote Republican."
Wow. Just... wow.

But wait, there's more! And I thought the bottom of this barrel was scraped clean!
Another spot attempts to link Democrats to a white supremacist who served as a Republican in the Louisiana Legislature, David Duke.The ad makes reference to Duke's trip to Syria last year, where he spoke at an anti-war rally.

"I can understand why a Ku Klux Klan cracker like David Duke makes nice with the terrorists,"a male voice in the ad says. "What I want to know is why so many of the Democrat politicians I helped elect are on the same side of the Iraq war as David Duke."
Another ad in this year's campaign notes that Democratic presidents oversaw wiretapping and that the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. was one of the targets. "Unlike the Al Qaeda butchers Bush is wiretapping, Martin was fighting to promote voting rights. He wasn't plotting mass murder," the ad says.

"Republicans respect the Latino soldier," one of the Spanish-language spots declares. "After all, it was our own General Ricardo Sanchez who commanded the American troops in Iraq. Enough with these Democrats."

Many of the ads with conservative social themes are sandwiched between hip-hop songs that convey blunt sexual messages. A spokesman for America's Pac, John Altevogt, said no stations have refused the ads, but a few asked for minor edits, such as the removal of the word "cracker" from the David Duke spot.

And who is the stellar example of humanity behind these delightful radio spots?
This ad was financed by J. Patrick Rooney, a white billionaire notorious for funding several misleading anti-Kerry ads that ran on urban radio stations in 2004. The money for Rooney's newest ad flowed through a little-known group called America's PAC, which was founded by Richard Nadler, a veteran Republican consultant who pushed Intelligent Design in Kansas public schools, declaring, "Darwin is bunk."

Nadler has an apparently dim view of the minorities he hopes to court. In 2000, he produced an ad in 2000 for school vouchers in which a white parent declared that his child's public school "was a bit more diversity than he could handle." The Republican National Committee flatly denounced that ad as "racist."

But about Rooney and Nadler's latest creation, which portrays black men as promiscuous misogynists and black women as submissive "ho's," the RNC is silent.
But of course. Because they have nothing to offer minority voters. Nothing. What would they say? "Remember how we took care of you during Hurricane Katrina! Vote Republican!" "Hey, Latino voters! Don't pay attention to that fence we're buildling... vote Republican!" These people are desperate.

Even worse:
"They're awful.They're repulsive," a Democratic activist and community leader in South Bend, Gladys Muhammad, said. "When they say Democrats don't like black babies, that's damn fools.They're very insensitive."

"This is so dirty, but it works," a sociology professor at Indiana University, Johnnie Griffin, said. "These are race ads. It's incredible."

While Ms. Griffin said she felt insulted by the ads, she also said a student in her class reported that a relative was thinking of switching to the Republican Party because of them. "Black people are more conservative than anybody thinks. We do have strong family values that people don't seem to stress as much," the professor said.
I thought I had seen and heard some sleazy campaign ads before, but these are just vile.

Update: Konagod has more.

(Tip 'o the Energy Dome to my buddy Grendel. Eep, Op, Ork, Cross-post.)

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From the You Can’t Make This Shit Up Files

Maru: “President Stupie McStupidson proclaims October as ‘National Domestic Violence Awareness Month,’ then plans to headline fund-raiser for Congressman accused of choking his mistress.”

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Hey, Feminists

Looks like that sworn oath we took to oppress the mighty male chromosome wasn’t really necessary. We can return our focus to destroying the American family.

I know it’s a little tedious on its own. Maybe at the next meeting we could talk about putting that whole ritualistic castration thing into action.

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An Ugly Intersection

Per Paul's post below, the whole story is terribly depressing—and familiar. Foley’s parents didn’t believe him. The priest thinks Foley is trying to “destroy” him, even though all he did was teach him "some wrong things" related to sex. The things that happened aren't intrinsically wrong; it's just that they're things Foley “might perceive as sexually inappropriate.”

Gee, I can’t imagine why anyone might have “misconstrued” those things as sexually inappropriate. I’m sure if my parents had found our minister massaging me while I was naked when they picked me up from confirmation class, they would have been fine and dandy with that.

Anyway, it's sad and infuriating and paints a very stark picture of the intersection between the Catholic Church and the GOP, who have both endeavored to protect sexual predators—Foley a victim of one, and a victimizer protected by the other. And that ugly intersection demands scrutiny. There are things the Catholic Church and the GOP have in common, starting with an emphasis on sexual repression. It's long past time we, as a society, look at what that means, what we're abetting and/or creating.

But I'm quite sure we won't.

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Foley Update

Priest Admits Foley Relationship

"Relationship." Ugh. I'm sorry, nothing in this story resembles anything like a "relationship."

SARASOTA, Fla. - A Roman Catholic priest said he had an inappropriate two-year relationship with former Rep. Mark Foley in the 1960s that included massaging the boy in the nude, but he did not specifically remember having sex, a newspaper reported Thursday.

The Rev. Anthony Mercieca, 72, described several encounters that he said Foley might perceive as sexually inappropriate, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reported. They include massaging Foley while the boy was naked, skinny-dipping together at a secluded lake in Lake Worth and being nude in the same room on overnight trips.

Mercieca said there was one night when he was in a drug-induced stupor and there was an incident but he couldn't clearly remember, the newspaper reported.

"I have to confess, I was going through a nervous breakdown," the newspaper reported Mercieca as saying from his home on the island of Gozo, south of Italy. "I was taking pills — tranquilizers. I used to take them all the time. They affected my mind a little bit."

It wasn't me! It was the priest!

It wasn't me! It was the drugs!

Sick, sick, sick.

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And They Would Have Gotten Away With it, Too...

...if it weren't for those meddling State Investigators!

Get ready to be shocked. Are you ready? Get ready.

Voter Warning Linked to GOP Campaign

Send in the slime. (Bolds mine)

SANTA ANA, Calif. - State investigators have linked a Republican campaign to letters sent to thousands of Orange County Hispanics warning them they could go to jail or be deported if they vote next month, a spokesman for the attorney general said.

"We have identified where we believe the mailing list was obtained," said Nathan Barankin, spokesman for Attorney General Bill Lockyer.

He declined to identify the specific Republican campaign Wednesday, citing the ongoing investigation. The Los Angeles Times and The Orange County Register both reported Thursday that the investigation appeared to be focused on the campaign of Tan D. Nguyen, a Republican challenger to Democratic U.S. Rep. Loretta Sanchez.

The letter, written in Spanish, tells recipients: "You are advised that if your residence in this country is illegal or you are an immigrant, voting in a federal election is a crime that could result in jail time."

In fact, immigrants who are naturalized U.S. citizens can vote.
Gee, I wonder if anyone involved in this sleazy little trick have parents or grandparents that are immigrants?

Your American GOP: We have nothing to offer. Please stay home on Election Day.

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Bush, Iraq, and Vietnam

I imagine this is going to mean even more to the people who lived through the Vietnam War, especially the Shakers who fought in it, but the significance of it certainly won’t be lost on the rest of us, either:

President Bush said in a one-on-one interview with ABC News' George Stephanopoulos that a newspaper column comparing the current fighting in Iraq to the 1968 Tet offensive in Vietnam, which was widely seen as the turning point in that war, might be accurate.

Stephanopoulos asked whether the president agreed with the opinion of columnist Tom Friedman, who wrote in The New York Times today that the situation in Iraq may be equivalent to the Tet offensive in Vietnam almost 40 years ago.

"He could be right," the president said, before adding, "There's certainly a stepped-up level of violence, and we're heading into an election."
Bush then announced he would be relocating to Alabama for the rest of his presidency.

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Oh My.

Congress’ approval rating is at 16%:

A new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll illustrates the political toll Republicans are paying for rising discontent over the Iraq war, as well as a spate of scandals including the disclosure that Republican House leaders knew of inappropriate emails to House pages from Florida Rep. Mark Foley, who resigned late last month. Voters' approval of Congress has fallen to 16% from 20% since early September, while their disapproval has risen to 75% from 65%.

That 16% rating statistically matches Congress's lowest point in the 17 years the Journal and NBC have polled…

By 52% to 37%, voters say they want Democrats rather than Republicans to control Congress. That 15-point advantage is the widest ever registered by either party in the Journal/NBC surveys. Also, the result marks the first time voter preference for one party has exceeded 50%.

…Two-thirds of the electorate rates this year's Congress "below average" or "one of the worst" -- the poorest showing on that question since it was first asked in 1990.
That is One. Stinky. Congress.

It looks like the voters are offering up an October Surprise of their own. It’s about bloody time.

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Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

Tales from the Crypt

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Question of the Day

It occurred to me yesterday, when I arrived at home and inhaled, that I've got a bit of a weird obsession.

I was smelling one of the new pumpkin candles I got over the weekend. Actually, I should say, one of the new pumpkin candles that I added to the stockpile. See, pumpkin stuff only comes out during this time of the year... a little bit before Halloween, and a little while into November, before we're completely smothered with Christmas. And if you like pumpkin candles, you've got to stock up so you don't run out before January rolls around.

And I like pumpkins.

I mean, I really like them. It's a little silly how much I like them. And it's more than just liking pumpkins themselves... I mean... I even find their basic shape very aesthetically pleasing and comforting. They're the perfect shade of orange, my favorite color. Not that brash Florida oranges orange, but a soothing autumn mellow orange. (Autumn is my favorite time of year, in case you couldn't tell.) They even look cool when they're growing, with their curly vines and whatnot. Strolling through a pumpkin patch is so autumn-y, I can barely stand it. I've actually considered getting a little pot of dirt and trying to grow one pumpkin on our porch.

Pumpkin pie? So delicious, I could eat nothing else for the rest of my life. Pumpkin soup, pumpkin sauces, pumpkin ravioli, baked pumpkin with brown sugar... gimmie gimmie gimmie. I can eat an entire bag of pumpkin seeds in one sitting. I bought a pumpkin cookbook, even though the husband hates the taste of pumpkin and squash and I'll probably never make anything out of it.

Jack O'Lanterns. How cool are they? Nothing else so perfectly encapsulates the greatest holiday ever, Halloween. And how can you not simply love that smell a jack o'lantern emits when the candle inside is lightly cooking the pumpkin lid? Confession: I once actually considered buying a jack o'lantern beanie baby. I've bought jack o'lantern toys for the dog, just because *I* wanted to see her play with them.

Hell, I even like the way the word "pumpkin" sounds.

Have I embarrassed myself enough yet? Obviously, I need help. Lots and lots of help. In the meantime, I'm going to burn my pumpkin candles, eat a pumpkin muffin, drink some pumpkin coffee, and say "pumpkin" until my eyes cross and I pass out.

So, what about you? Are there any weird little all-encompassing obsessions you have? Or am I alone here? Hello? Hello? Is this thing on? *tap tap tap*

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Daily Highlights

Shakes: You’re Outta There

Paul the Spud: Bubble Children

Shakes: Fuck Off

Shakes: Ouch

Shakes: Rendered Asunder

Paul the Spud: Santorum Goes for Geek Chic

Shakes: Can we hold you to that, Senator McCain?

Tart: Help

Shakes: The Radical Left-Wing Agenda

Shakes: America 2.0: The Final Frontier

Shakes: I Hate Marmaduke

Shakes: Project Runway Final Tonight! (open thread)

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Can we talk about something important for a second?

Who the hell's gonna win this thing?

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I Hate Marmaduke

I hate most comics. Except for The Far Side and Calvin and Hobbes, both of whose creators saw fit to pack it in while their comics were still funny. Then again, most comics are never funny, so that makes what Gary Larson and Bill Waterson did impossible for most of their peers, based on our understanding of the time-space continuum. So, yeah. Most comics suck. But I especially hate Marmaduke. Which is why I find this just about the funniest thing I've ever seen.

Also, Cathy really blows.

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America 2.0: The Final Frontier

If you thought this sounded like a story from The Onion, check this shit out.

Bush seeks to block enemies from space:

President Bush has signed an order asserting the United States' right to deny adversaries access to space for hostile purposes.

Bush also said the United States would oppose the development of treaties or other restrictions that seek to prohibit or limit U.S. access to or use of space.

…"Freedom of action in space is as important to the United States as air power and sea power," the policy says. "In order to increase knowledge, discovery, economic prosperity, and to enhance the national security, the United States must have robust, effective, and efficient space capabilities."
Yeah, and not only that, but we’re gonna spread freedom to the whole universe bitchez!

“Ground Control to Major Tom. We have turned a corner on Zingklop Alpha. The Zingklopian insurgency is in its final throes. Over.”

I honestly cannot stop giggling. Thank the Flying Spaghetti Monster that the Superbloggers took out Planet Limpwrist while we still had access to SPACE.

(Please blame Rick Santorum for my total inability to take anything seriously for the rest of the day.)

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Caption This Photo

No Child Left in Peace to Do His Schoolwork.

(Actual Caption: U.S. President George W. Bush greets fifth grade student Daron Hill during his visit to the Waldo C. Falkener Elementary School in Greensboro, North Carolina, October 18, 2006. Bush also made remarks on his 'No Child Left Behind' education policy at the school. REUTERS/Jason Reed—UNITED STATES)

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The Radical Left-Wing Agenda

I just saw this comment at a right-wing blog, and it so perfectly describes the Radical Left-Wing Agenda that I felt I should pass it on.

I had an interesting discussion with a conservative-leaning friend who doubted that liberals were anti-American, and sided with the terrorists. “Why would they want the terrorist to win?” he asked. I think it is quite simple.

First, the left is still enamored by Marxist/Stalinist socialism. This is why they embrace Castro, Chavez, Kim, ad nauseum. I know this is different than Islamo-fascism, but hang in there, I’m getting there…

Second, left-wing extremists hate our free society. They do not appreciate hearing viewpoints that disagree with heir own. They believe that they already have all the answers, and any conflicting arguments are counter-productive at best.

Third, they believe their socialist ideal is achievable, but only after the current capitalistic, democratic republic is eliminated. Therefore, they see the Islamo-fascist sabotage of our country as an opportnity [sic] for their takeover. “The enemy of my enemy is my friend”. They believe that after they can take over our country only after:
1. Islamists nuke Washington DC and the US Government fails, or
2. The democrats win both houses of congress and vote to surrender to the Islamo-fascists, or
3. The democrats win both houses of congress and vote to weaken our defenses to the extent that #1 or #2 occur.

Then the fun happens. The constitution will be re-written to change “rights” to “demands”. Free speech will be replaced by “correct” speach [sic]. Religion will be outlawed. Private property will be eliminated, and a system whereby income taxes will rise to 100%, with the government deciding how much money to distribute. We have seen this pattern before.

Of course, the Islamo-fascits [sic] have no special love for leftists, either. They will not be satisfied with nuking one US city. They have made their case quite clear…they intend to eradicate us “devils”. Even a leftist attempt to placate the Islamo-fascists by offering American Jews to them will not satisfy their hunger for western deaths.

This is the snapshot view of my opinion of the leftists’ motivations to our current problems.
They’ve figured us out! We’ve got to find out who’s been leaking our plans. I think it’s probably Angelos. Bastard.

The thing is, looking at our strategy all laid out like that, I’m realizing there are a couple of flaws. I mean, if we actually vote to surrender to the Islamo-fascists, do you really think they’re going to let us outlaw religion? Upon reflection, it does seem kind of na├»ve to assume that religious fundamentalists are going to go along with the whole criminalization of religion thing. Maybe we should start working with the Chinese.

Either way, they’ll totally let us ban Christmas!

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Uhh, excuse me...

People who know stuff about fashion: can you help me with my Halloween costume? I'm looking at you, Litbrit...

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Is that a promise?

"I think I'd just commit suicide." — Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), quoted by Radio Iowa, on what he would do if Democrats take control of the U.S. Senate. (Via Political Wire.)

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I see that little Ricky Santorum is going for that coveted geek vote.

Embattled U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum said America has avoided a second terrorist attack for five years because the “Eye of Mordor” has been drawn to Iraq instead.

Santorum used the analogy from one of his favorite books, J.R.R. Tolkien's 1950s fantasy classic “Lord of the Rings,” to put an increasingly unpopular war in Iraq into terms any school kid could easily understand.

“As the hobbits are going up Mount Doom, the Eye of Mordor is being drawn somewhere else,” Santorum said, describing the tool the evil Lord Sauron used in search of the magical ring that would consolidate his power over Middle-earth.

“It's being drawn to Iraq and it's not being drawn to the U.S.,” Santorum continued. “You know what? I want to keep it on Iraq. I don't want the Eye to come back here to the United States.”
The jocks then pantsed him, and dragged him on his bare butt around the track the entire lunch period.

Tip 'o the Energy Dome to Jon, who says:
Dear Pennsylvania,

Please do not reelect this man to the Senate.

Thank you.

your friend,
"Oh, I've wasted my life."

Update: Waveflux has more.

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Kenneth Lay’s Conviction Revoked

Because he’s dead.

Legal analysts said Lake's ruling closely hewed to a long-held doctrine called abatement, which allows a conviction to be vacated if defendants die before they are able to exercise their right to appeal. Courts typically rule that defendants' constitutional rights to challenge their convictions outweigh other considerations, and the law hesitates to punish the dead, the analysts said.
This means the nearly $44 million the government was trying to recover from his estate, to begin to make amends to the people who were collectively screwed by his criminal mischief to the tune of billions of dollars, will now probably never be collected.

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The Word: Russian Dolls

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Rendered Asunder

The future of humanity?

Humanity may split into two sub-species in 100,000 years' time as predicted by HG Wells, an expert has said.

Evolutionary theorist Oliver Curry of the London School of Economics expects a genetic upper class and a dim-witted underclass to emerge.
Insert your own joke here.

The descendants of the genetic upper class would be tall, slim, healthy, attractive, intelligent, and creative and a far cry from the "underclass" humans who would have evolved into dim-witted, ugly, squat goblin-like creatures.
I feel so torn. As an intelligent person, I’m rooting for the upper class. As a squat, goblin-like creature, I’m rooting for the underclass. What’s a girl to do?

For someone who actually has something intelligent to say about this article, go see Majikthise.

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A billboard along Interstate 95 in Stratford, Conn., is shown Monday, Oct. 16, 2006. Weighing in on Connecticut's hotly contested congressional races, a group of religious activists unveiled a giant billboard Monday off the busy interstate that accuses four candidates of voting to allow torture. (AP Photo/Bob Child)

Hat tip to SAP.

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Wednesday Blogwhoring

What's the word?

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Boo Hoo

Somebody call the waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaambulance for the poor preznit:

On desks around the West Wing sit digital clocks counting down the days and hours left in the Bush presidency, reminders to the White House staff to use the time left as effectively as possible. As of 8 a.m. today, those clocks will read 825 days, four hours. But if the elections go the way pollsters and pundits predict, they might as well read 20 days.

At least that would be the end of George W. Bush's presidency as he has known it. If Democrats win one or both houses of Congress on Nov. 7, the result will transform the remainder of Bush's time in office and dramatically shift the balance of power in Washington.

…Emboldened by victory, and bitter from grievance, Democrats could use their ascendance to block Bush's agenda, force him to respond to theirs and begin a new era of aggressive oversight and investigation.
Emboldened by victory, and bitter from grievance? LOL. Yeah, that—or maybe they just would be blocking Bush’s agenda on principle because it’s total crap.

Most worrisome to the White House is the subpoena power that Democrats would gain with a majority in the House or Senate. For years, Republicans have been mostly deferential in scrutinizing the Bush administration, but Democrats are eager to reexamine an array of issues, such as Vice President Cheney's energy task force, the Jack Abramoff scandal and preparations for the Iraq war.
Mostly deferential. Not wantonly complicit. Good lord.

After the election, Kaplan said, Bush will "look for partners in Congress" to accomplish priorities, such as extending his tax cuts, developing alternative energy supplies and promoting American competitiveness.
I bet he will.

The question in the White House is whether Democrats would be willing to be partners. While Democrats see Bush as relentlessly partisan, his aides think Democrats have been deliberately obstructionist even on issues of little dispute. Against that backdrop of mutual suspicion, the two sides may find it difficult to come together.

"The Democrats are so blinded by their hate of Bush, they'll have a hard time even having a bill-signing with him," Republican lobbyist Ed Rogers said. "That might make for some good political contrasts, but not much substance."
Hmm, vicious partisanship is all bluster and no substance? I guess a Republican would know.

I just love, love, how now that everyone thinks Bush and the GOP are about to go down in flames after years of not only pretending that the Democrats don’t exist, but that half the fucking country who didn’t vote for their sorry asses are traitors, it’s suddenly incumbent upon us to be nice and reasonable. You know what? Fuck off. I hope the Democrats tear every member of that administration who’s engaged in the criminal subversion of American principles a new asshole, and when they’re done, they sew ’em up and start over again.

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Bubble Children

I know I'm probably going to get spanked for this one... but this is just ridiculous.

Mass. Elementary School Bans Tag

ATTLEBORO, Mass. - Tag, you're out! Officials at an elementary school south of Boston have banned kids from playing tag, touch football and any other unsupervised chase game during recess for fear they'll get hurt and hold the school liable.

Recess is "a time when accidents can happen," said Willett Elementary School Principal Gaylene Heppe, who approved the ban.

While there is no districtwide ban on contact sports during recess, local rules have been cropping up. Several school administrators around Attleboro, a city of about 45,000 residents, took aim at dodgeball a few years ago, saying it was exclusionary and dangerous.

Elementary schools in Cheyenne, Wyo., and Spokane, Wash., also recently banned tag during recess. A suburban Charleston, S.C., school outlawed all unsupervised contact sports.

"I think that it's unfortunate that kids' lives are micromanaged and there are social skills they'll never develop on their own," said Debbie Laferriere, who has two children at Willett, about 40 miles south of Boston. "Playing tag is just part of being a kid."

Another Willett parent, Celeste D'Elia, said her son feels safer because of the rule. "I've witnessed enough near collisions," she said.
Okay, I completely understand why the school did this. In these overly litigious times, schools need to protect themselves, particularly when they don't exactly have extra money lying around to cover lawsuits.

That said: Jesus, can we just let kids have a little fucking fun?

The playgrounds I used to enjoy when I was young don't exist anymore. Swings have seatbelts now, for chrissakes. Remember those merry-go-round things that you used to spin on until you thought the centrifugal force was going to pop your arms right out of the sockets? Good luck finding one now. The playground surface near my old apartment was padded.

I'm not saying that parents shouldn't protect their children. I'm not saying that some games and playground equipment can't be dangerous. But, geez, isn't this overprotective "shield our kids from everything" mindset a little bit silly? I was particularly struck by the quote at the end of the article. Now, I'm sure she feels safer because of the rule, but something tells me she just might be putting words in her kid's mouth.

I don't know... I might be overreacting, but I read stories like this and just shake my head. I'm glad my parents didn't treat me like a fragile eggshell.

(Oh boy! Cross-posts! Iron helps us play!)

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Rogers Outs Republican Senator

You’re outta there:

Mike Rogers, who calls himself "the nation’s leading gay activist blogger" has just finished a nationally-broadcast interview on the Ed Schultz Radio Show in which he alleges that Idaho Republican Senator Larry Craig has engaged in same-sex sexual activity.

Senator Craig’s office flatly rejected the claims. "The Senator says this story is absolutely ridiculous – almost laughable," said press secretary Sid Smith. “It has no basis in fact.”

Rogers said he has talked to three men unknown to each other who all reported in detail their sexual encounters with Craig over the last four years. The men were of legal age, Rogers said.
Craig has been denying rumors that he’s gay for at least 24 years. That’s a long time for a rumor to be hanging around.

The conservative blogosphere is up in arms (hilariously, considering their willingness to use sex and sexuality as political issus) over Rogers’ latest outing, and some lefty bloggers are reporting the news with the caveat that they’re not going to get into a discussion about the ethics of outing. Well, fuck that. You know I will.

(Frankly, I would consider it just a wee bit disingenuous were I to report an outing if I wasn’t willing to stand by the strategy. And I am.)

I would absolutely not support the public outing of a private citizen whose sexuality had no bearing on his/her ability to do his/her job, and whose job had no association with perpetuating public discrimination against the LGBT community. That covers just about every private citizen in the country. Public officials, however, are actively involved in making decisions that affect the LGBT community, and if there’s a public official who consistently votes to limit their rights, but is only afforded his/her position to do so by virtue of the protection of a closet, that’s a real problem.

And it’s not just, or even mostly, a problem with the individual official, but a problem with what his/her party can accomplish as a whole by trading on the secrecy of the closet. It is only because the GOP can point to the Democrats as the party of queers that they can repeatedly use LGBT policy as a wedge issue. As Andrew Sullivan recently said in a Salon interview, “I think the time now is fully over when the closet can operate in Republican politics… We now have Mark Dyble being sworn in by Condi Rice as the new global AIDS coordinator, with his partner right there, with the families of both men there, and Condi Rice referring to Dyble's partner's mother as his ‘mother-in-law,’ and Laura Bush standing between them. Now, at what point can a party that does that also send out fliers in the Bible Belt saying that gay people are trying to ban the Bible and force heterosexuals into gay marriage? There's such a discrepancy between the closeted tolerance of the elite and the naked bigotry of the base.” As long as the GOP can depend on the closet, they can continue to appeal to that bigotry.

It’s not that Craig voted for banning of same-sex marriage (twice) and voted against prohibiting job discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, because there were lots of straight Republicans who did that, too. It’s that Craig—and every other Republican hiding in a closet—gives the GOP the space to introduce such legislation in the first place. (And I genuinely don’t believe that even the GOP could withstand a public purging of gays from the party at this point; there would be much horror, far and wide.)

I understand the squeamishness among some people with this tactic, rooted in a belief that no one’s private life should be made public against their wishes. And I totally agree with that. But here’s the thing: one’s sexuality is only considered “private” if one is gay. There’s a reason no one’s ever “outed” as straight. If we truly believe there’s nothing shameful about being gay, then there should be no discomfort with identifying someone thusly. Ah, but Shakespeare’s Sister, you might say, it’s not dangerous to be straight. Being straight never cost anyone his or her job. Being straight never got anyone beat up or killed. Indeed not. But is anyone really againt outing primilary because they worry for Craig’s safety? If they’re honest, aren’t most people against outing because there’s a sense he will be humiliated, because we still attach some stigma to being gay, because of the undeserved preference which will never be eradicated so long as we have people making public policy predicated on it?

In a perfect world, we wouldn’t even be debating the ethics of outing, because the LGBT community would be seen as equal and no one, in either party, would feel compelled to hide in a closet in the first place. But we don’t live in a perfect world. We live in a world where a few closeted gays make possible legislative attempts to marginalize all gays. Do I feel compelled to protect a man like Craig while I watch people I love served up as a wedge issue every two years? Nope. It’s not pretty, but there it is.

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Will the ‘values voter’ ever learn?

New piece at The Guardian’s Comment is Free.

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Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime


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Question of the Day

What was your favorite Shakespeare's Sister comment thread?

I can think of a quite a few magic ones (big surprise): discussions that made me weep with laughter, wide-eyed with disbelief, or saddened on behalf of someone I'd only met in words.

The thread that ensued when Shakes wrote about Pat Robertson's protein pancakes was definitely a comedy goldmine. I hurt myself laughing while reading those and, of course, jumping in from time to time.

I also loved the story about Bush's magic rug--the one he insisted on showing every head of state while regaling them with inane facts about his new carpet--and the wellspring of hilarity, wiseassery, and even poetry to which it gave rise.

And then there were the memories floating in on warm clouds of cinammon sugar, one after the other, in response to a question about comfort food. I loved those stories; I felt them. The desk was littered with kleenex all evening.

Shakes says: “One of the most memorable threads for me is the discussion on religion back in March 2005, which spanned four posts, and generated, to that date, more comments than any other in the (then-short) history of Shakespeare’s Sister. The reason it really stands out in my mind is that, although there were many commenters all contributing on a topic which is extremely personal, and about which people have very passionate feelings, it stayed civil, and thereby productive and interesting, the entire time. It was the first time I really felt the Shakes community starting to develop into what it’s become.”

How about you?

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Daily Highlights

So, I’m going to make a compromise on the Daily Round-up. Instead of linking to every post every day, which does get time consuming, I’ll do a Daily Highlights. A best posts of the day kind of thing. That way I can leave out the Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime and Caption That Photo; they’re daily features, and you can scroll down if you want to find them. I’ll always link to all posts by other contributors, and I’ll link to a few of mine. Let’s see how that works.

Tart: I’ll show you bastards!

Shakes: Weldon Plays the Blame Game

Shakes: Dangerous Ignorance

Paul the Spud: Bush Signs Terror Bill

Shakes: Who Says Fighting Bigotry Isn’t Cool?

Paul the Spud: Cheap Shots

Shakes: A gay guy, a black guy, and a Jew walk into Congress…

Shakes: Happy National Character Counts Week!

Waveflux: Voter ID Law Struck Down in MO

Paul the Spud: Out Come the Ghouls

Waveflux: Over a (Cracker) Barrel

Shakes: A Scary 12.5%

Shakes: Studds’ Husband Denied Pension

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Studds’ Husband Denied Pension

Total bullshit:

For the first time the surviving spouse of a member of Congress is being denied death benefits.

Dean Hara, who married former Massachusetts Rep. Gerry Studds shortly after same-sex marriage was legalized in Massachusetts in 2004, has been disqualified for benefits under the so-called federal Defense of Marriage Act

Studds, he first openly gay member of Congress died Saturday due to a blood clot in his lung. He was 69.
Beloved by his constituents, who stuck by him after he was censured when a relationship with a 17-year-old page was revealed ten years after it happened, Studds served the same district for twelve terms, until he retired. Hara, as his spouse, should be eligible to collect more than half of his pension for the rest of his life (Studds collected about $114,337 annually). But because they're gay, Hara’s getting nothing—even though Studds contributed to the pension fund for the entirety of his 12 terms and the state he served has legalized same-sex marriage.

"A gay spouse will not receive any sort of pension or annuity or anything like that," Chad Cowan, a spokesperson for the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, which administers the congressional pension program told the Lowell, Massachusetts Sun.

Bob Ney (R-Ohio) who pled guilty last week to conspiracy charges and faces up to 10 years in prison for taking bribes will receive about $29,000 a year from his pension for the rest of his life — even while he is in prison.
Quite the priorities we’ve got in America, huh?

And, btw, this is a perfect example of why the whole "states' rights" argument regarding gay marriage is utterly stupid.

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Can you tell who my pumpkin is?

If not, just picture it saying "Heh heh, let me finish."

Carve your own pumpkin here. Via Maru.

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Oh my.

12.5%: One out of every 8 Americans believes Alaska is a separate country or else doesn't know that it's a state. (Via.)


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Over a (cracker) barrel

Somewhere on the lengthy list of Places I've Never Been is this item: "Any Cracker Barrel restaurant." It's the kind of eatery I seldom even think about except while driving long distances on the interstate, and even then I always opt for fast food joints instead. When I do think of Cracker Barrel, however, it's not food that comes to mind, but race. Part of this may have to do with the use of "cracker" as a Southern racial/social epithet. It doesn't help that the word also brings Andy Griffith to mind - not as the folksy sheriff of Mayberry, but as the downhome media demagogue Lonesome Rhodes from Elia Kazan's A Face in the Crowd (his screen debut, I think). The character Rhodes graduated from radio to television, hosting a variety show as a platform for his rightist political views long before the likes of Rush Limbaugh or Bill O'Reilly. The name of the show was "Lonesome Rhodes' Cracker Barrel," and its underlying philosophy is neatly encapsuled by this quote by Rhodes:

This whole county…[is] just like my flock of sheep! Rednecks, crackers, hillbillies, hausfraus, shut-ins, pea-pickers - anybody who's gotta jump when somebody else blows the whistle…They're mine! I own 'em! They think like I do! Only they're more stupid than I am, so I gotta think for 'em!

Griffith turns in a tremendous performance in what is really a must-see film. But...we were talking about Cracker Barrel the restaurant, weren't we?

So, yeah, I have some mental associations with the word "cracker," and with the phrase "cracker barrel." Based on those alone - fairly or no - I'd be unlikely as a black man to eat at a restaurant called Cracker Barrel. Unfortunately, there's a history of allegations of racial discrimination toward customers to complicate one's view of this chain of eateries. Also, there evidence of sexual and racial discrimination in its workplace. And a discriminatory policy toward gay and lesbian employees. It's a rather unsavory stew for a family dining establishment, the kind of thing that make me wonder why any black person - or any person, period - would choose to eat there.

Well, the more things change, the more they stay the same. The latest patron to run afoul of the legendary Cracker Barrel "hospitality": Chris Rock's mother.

Oh, this is going to be a shame.

Civil Rights activist Al Sharpton and Rose Rock, the mother of comedian Chris Rock, will announce Wednesday their intention to file a lawsuit against the Cracker Barrel restaurant chain for refusing to serve black customers.

The action stems from a May 2006 incident at a Murrells Inlet, S.C., Cracker Barrel restaurant. Rock said "she and her daughter were refused service," Rachel Noerdlinger, a spokesperson for Sharpton, told ABC News. Complaints to the restaurant management and to the South Carolina Human Affairs Commission were not acted on, Noerdlinger said.

Rock, Sharpton and members of Sharpton's National Action Network plan to announce their intention to fund a lawsuit in front of the Murrells Inlet Cracker Barrel where Rock alleges the incident took place, Noerdlinger told ABC News.

Cracker Barrel has messed with the wrong black lady this time. Oh, dear. Comedian Chris suddenly has new material that will last him all year.

Incidentally, Murrells Inlet is just a stone's throw from my home town of Georgetown, and from Chris Rock's home town of Andrews. I love downhome stories.


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So, the thing with Harry Reid’s land deal really does seem much ado about nothing. The ownership of the property became an LLC, and, in regard to the way the IRS requires reporting of LLC-owned property, it may genuinely have been a good-faith error in reporting.

But the thing with using campaign funds for Christmas bonuses for staff at his residence doesn’t sit as well. Reid says his lawyers erroneously okayed the payments, and he’s paying back the campaign out of his own pocket. Okay, fine. But here’s where my problem is: Even if it were legally allowable to use campaign funds to pay the doorman et. al. at your private residence, why would you do it?

According to Reid, the donations “were made to thank the men and women who work in the building for the extra work they do as a result of my political activities, and for helping the security officers assigned to me because of my Senate position.” Then out of the nearly $200,000 we pay you a year, you should certainly be able to find some money to thank those people. I mean, if we start making exceptions like this, then every member of Congress with a personal chef, who works harder because they entertain more, ought to be able to reward that chef with campaign contributions, too, no? How about a dog-walker, who only has to walk the dog because its owner is a busy Congress member? Hell, let’s use campaign contributions to pay for babysitters while Moms and Dads attend the White House Picnic every year!

I contribute to political campaigns, sometimes when I can barely afford it. When I give a few bucks to someone, I expect it to be used for the campaign. Call me crazy. That Reid doesn’t seem to have considered, irrespective of its legality, using campaign funds to tip people in his personal life isn’t the most judicious use of the hard-earned money of people who want to see him reelected, strikes me as incredible.

How out of touch are these people? (The Democratic Senate Minority Leader, no less!) Get a clue. I don’t give a good shit about keeping you in the lifestyle to which you’re accustomed; I don’t think you deserve raises unless you’re willing to give them to the American people making minimum wage; and I certainly don’t want my donations used as a personal slush fund. Clear?

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The Dildo Diaries

I want to be Molly Ivins when I grow up.

Passed on by Angelos.

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Speaking of Ghouls...

Shorter Melanie Morgan:

"Since Cindy Sheehan 'made herself a public figure,' it's okay for us to write a sleazy book accusing her of being addicted to internet porn."

And if that's not enough:

Shorter Mary Katharine Ham:

To Cindy Sheehan: Fuck yeah we killed your child and if we had a chance, we’d kill another.

It's truly astounding how low conservatives will sink when they have nothing to hold onto. Their president has failed them, their party has failed them... it's a good time to attack Cindy Sheehan.

And Michael Moore is fat.

(Earth below us, twisting, cross-posting...)

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Voter ID law struck down in Missouri

So much for the new poll tax. Looks like it's back to the drawing board for the Missouri GOP and its effort to supress the vote: The state supreme court just tossed the recently-passed voter ID law. From Kelly Weise of the P-D:

The Missouri Supreme Court on Monday struck down a new law requiring voters to show a photo ID at the polls, upholding a lower judge's decision.

A lower judge ruled last month that the ID requirement was an unconstitutional infringement on the fundamental right to vote. The Supreme Court agreed in a 6-1 unsigned opinion. [...]

The court found the requirement violated several provisions in the state constitution. The court said requiring otherwise legitimate voters to obtain an appropriate ID imposed too big a burden on their voting rights.

Steve Gilliard had just written today on the insidious application of voter ID legislation by Republicans across the country, a clearer and more present danger to voting rights than anything Diebold might come up with:

While millions of words have been pissed away on Diebold, the GOP has conducted an ongoing stealth campaign to deny millions of poor and elderly the right to vote, Florida 2000 writ large. And the silence on the blogs has been deafening. Diebold is easy to be scared of, but Voter ID laws are the real deal in voter suppression and targeted at the most dedicated voters, the elderly and minorities. [...]

The fact is that you won't need Diebold if you scare people away from voting.

Now the Missouri GOP has been stripped of that tool for scaring voters.

(Meant to cross-post this yesterday, but life got in the way. Sorry!)

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